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- 03/22/18--00:53: _Krypton: Every Supe...
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- 03/27/18--03:20: _Legends of Tomorrow...
- 03/27/18--13:03: _The Quantum Age Goe...
- 03/22/18--00:53: Krypton: Every Superman Easter Egg in Episode 1
- 03/22/18--09:54: Deadpool 2: Who is Cable?
- 03/22/18--09:56: Den of Geek Book Club Pick: Children of Blood & Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
- 03/22/18--10:15: Star Wars: 10 Things You Might Not Know About Darth Maul
- 03/22/18--10:47: Dread Nation: Trailer Teases YA Post-Civil War Zombie World
- 03/22/18--11:25: Deadpool 2: Who Are X-Force? A Brief History
- 03/22/18--16:22: Power Rangers: Shattered Grid Trailer
- 03/23/18--09:02: Avengers: Infinity War Reading Order
- 03/23/18--11:20: Lost Justice League Movie Costume Photo Surfaces
- 03/23/18--13:38: Astro City TV Series in the Works
- 03/23/18--16:42: New Robin Graphic Novel With Dark Knight's Carrie Kelley Coming
- 03/24/18--21:18: Justice League Dark Returning
- 03/26/18--09:10: Superman: Year One - First Look at New Origin Story
- 03/26/18--09:21: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman Hunt Deimos in Trinity
- 03/26/18--15:19: ROM Spaceknight Movie Set with Ready Player One Writer Zak Penn
- 03/27/18--03:20: Legends of Tomorrow Season 3 Episode 16 Review: I, Ava
- 03/27/18--13:03: The Quantum Age Goes 1000 Years Into Black Hammer's Future
Syfy's Krypton TV series is full, and we mean FULL of love for Superman and deep DC Comics lore.
This article consists of nothing but Krypton spoilers. You've been warned. If you prefer a review of the first episode, you can find that here!
Krypton is here! I never thought I would be this happy to see a show set on the world Superman came from, 200 years before it exploded, but they really managed to put this one together. Krypton is packed with more love and care for deep (and I mean DEEP) Superman mythology than any version of the legend to make it to the screen. Since I majored in Kryptonian Studies in college (disclaimer: I did not), I am uniquely qualified to over-explain virtually every minute of this show.
But what also helped was a visit to the set of Krypton early in the production of the first season (more details on that here), where I got to see a few details up close and personal thanks to executive producer/showrunner Cameron Welsh and the cast and crew. Even a lifelong Superman fan like me was surprised and amazed by the pieces of lore that the creators are mining. I'll be updating this every week with new info from each episode.
Ready? Let's go...
- Krypton doesn't waste a single second getting into its Superman lore. From the opening shot, Krypton is surrounded by a ring of debris. While this certainly isn't explained as anything in particular, I have to wonder if this is the shattered Kryptonian moon of Wegthor, destroyed by a nuclear missile, and one of the reasons that Kryptonians are pretty sour on space travel.
Even if this isn't actually intended to be Wegthor (but I bet it is, because trust me, the folks behind this show have left no Superman stone unturned in their quest to bring this show to life), having a slight ring around the planet Krypton is a nod to the earliest appearances of Superman's father, Jor-El, in the comics, where he was often depicted wearing a tunic with a ringed, Saturn-esque planet on it.
In later years that became a stylized depiction of Krypton's red sun instead.
But you can also see some visual nods to the 2013 Man of Steel movie. The depleted, desert look of Krypton, and that particular color scheme, looks very much like the version we got in that film. David S. Goyer, who wrote that film, is an executive producer and co-showrunner on Krypton, and he co-wrote the pilot, too. I spoke to Goyer last year about the show's development and he said he had written countless pages of notes on Kryptonian history when he started prepping for Man of Steel, and wished that segment of the movie was even longer.
Here's a look at the surface of Krypton from Man of Steel for comparison's sake (and yes, that is Wegthor in the upper left hand corner).
Please note that Krypton is not a Man of Steel prequel, despite these similarities. The producers have been quite clear about that fact. But it's neat that they've gone for a similar aesthetic when it makes sense. By the way, I wrote a ton about all the weird Krypton and DC stuff in Man of Steel right here if you want to read it.
But they've also drawn on Richard Donner's Superman (which we'll get into in a minute), tons of deep comics lore, and designed this world top to bottom on their own.
A word of warning before we go on, Superman (1978) is my favorite movie of all time. It's the thing that got me into comics, superheroes, and science fiction in general. I'm not going to be able to shut up about it whenever we're discussing Superman in general, or this show in particular.
- In our first look at Krypton's surface, we see the city of Kandor in the foreground. There's a LOT to unpack here, too. You can also see another city way the hell off in the distance, also under a dome. So, we'll go in order of...well, we'll just go in whatever order I feel like rambling about, OK?
This shot also reminds me of the first time we see the surface of Krypton in (you guessed it) the 1978 Superman movie. While that film depicts Krypton as an icy, frozen wasteland, its cities are kind of clustered together. And that movie's action takes place in one giant mega-city structure, but way off in the distance you can see others like it. That's what happens here, except with domes.
But more importantly, Kandor being under a dome recalls its comic book fate. In the comics (not to mention other versions of the Superman story, including Smallville), Kandor went bye-bye long before Krypton itself did, usually because Brainiac came along and scooped it up, leaving nothing but a crater in its place. He placed it in a bottle, which isn't exactly a dome, but you get the idea.
On the other hand, the comic version of Argo City, Supergirl's hometown, had a dome over it, and that's one of the reasons it initially survived Krypton's explosion. Although the Supergirl TV series hasn't taken that route, and anyway, this show isn't set in that continuity. In any case, there's a lot of precedent for the whole "city under glass" thing we're seeing here.
Now, as for the actual IN STORY reasons for why these cities are all under domes. An undetermined amount of time ago, the planet suffered some kind of "great cataclysm" (these are the words executive producer Cameron Welsh used to describe it when I visited the Krypton set last year). As a result, vast swaths of the planet are inhospitable to life, and that's why all the cities are under domes.
Later in the episode, we hear the commander of Kandor's military, Primus Jayna Zod (we'll get to her in a minute), refer to other city-states. There are nine city-states on Krypton, although the show (at least for now) is primarily concerned with Kandor. I do not know if life is like this in those other city-states.
I have to appreciate the Kryptonian architecture, though.
Before Krypton was depicted as a crystalline ice world in Superman: The Movie, one of its key influences was the work of Alex Raymond and the original Flash Gordon comic strip. For decades, alien cities in general defaulted to a kind of art deco "Raymondism," especially Krypton. This is the first time I've really seen this attempted in a modern way in live action, and it's really cool.
You could totally have shown me this picture and told me "hey, check out a look at Mongo from this new Flash Gordon TV series" and I would have been really excited. But yeah, the fact that early Krypton looks the way it did for nearly the first 50 years of comics is a really nice touch.
- Daron Vex is the chief lawgiver in Kandor, serving under the Voice of Rao. Remember how I said this show draws influences from all the different versions of Krypton of the comics and the screen? Well check out those black robes he wears when passing judgment on people...
...they sure remind me of the ceremonial garb that Jor-El wore when pronouncing sentence on criminals in Superman: The Movie.
So does putting people under a spotlight when they're being judged.
- Note that Kandor is a theocracy. That's a long-ass way from the rational, scientifically ruled Krypton we know from movies and TV shows. Something definitely has to change. The scary guy in charge is the Voice of Rao. The giant red sun that Krypton orbits is named Rao. And their monotheistic society is based around a god conveniently named Rao. So yes, Rao is a sun god. Grant Morrison will tell you that Superman is also a sun god. I'm inclined to agree with him.
Anyway, comics and cartoon fans will recognize Superman's preferred exclamation of frustration, "Great Rao!" He was invoking Krypton's sun god. Look at it this way, if Superman could still invoke Rao, then maybe Rao isn't bad as far as gods go, it's just his teachings that have been corrupted by opportunistic assholes. Gosh, it's not like that could EVER happen on Earth, right? Nah, this is science fiction and that's just too far fetched. Right? RIGHT?!?!
One interesting thing about the Voice of Rao and his design is how the multi-faced mask reminds me of the floating blue Science Council heads from the opening of Superman: The Movie that scared the living crap out of me as a kid.
The lettering on his robe is the Kryptonian language. I believe there's a distinction the show makes between what modern residents speak (which is Kryptonian) and the language of the ancients that is used for ceremonial purposes, which is Kryptonese. For the record, in the comics it was always Kryptonese and not Kryptonian, but I'm not going to get too hung up on this. Unless you want me to. But I don't think you do.
I'm sure that the significance of the blue bodysuit and red cape that we see on Val-El in the opening shot isn't lost on anybody, right? Right.
Like most modern interpretations of the Superman legend, "it's not an 'S'" it's a Kryptonian symbol. In this case, it's the crest of the House of El. Up until 1978, it was most certainly an 'S'. That changed with Superman: The Movie (told you I would keep bringing this up), when it became a family symbol, and all Kryptonians wore them. The comics didn't adopt that interpretation for nearly another 30 years, but since then, that's how it has been.
Note that the show has gone with a more "classic" version of the 'S' than what we got in Man of Steel. It's a little smaller, a little more restrained and traditional.
Anyway, Val-El sure reminds me of another member of the El family...
Right? Anyone want to take bets on how many times I can bring up Superman: The Movie when talking about this show? Because really, I'll use any excuse to do it.
Anyway, the REASON he reminds me of Jor-El isn't just because of the fancy 'S' logo and the white hair. But Jor-El was also a renegade who defied his planet's ruling council in the name of science. You'll recall at the start of Superman that not only does the Science Council not believe his discovery that Krypton is going to explode, they explicitly forbid him from trying to leave the planet, for fear it would cause "an atmosphere of fear and panic." So yes, space travel is long outlawed on Krypton.
Here, Val-El dares to suggest that Krypton isn't alone in the universe, and he refused to stop his research (and potential explorations) to the contrary. You can see how his great-grandson Jor-El inherited some of those traits. And you can see how that is passed further down the line, too.
- The platform where they perform executions in Kandor sure reminds me of where General Zod and friends were banished to the Phantom Zone in those sarcophagi that looked like penises in Man of Steel, too.
- I really love that Val-El's final words to his grandson Seg-El are "keep believing in a better tomorrow." That is something that is very much in the spirit of Superman, and a wonderful revolutionary slogan now that I think about it.
- OK, we should probably talk about Seg-El since he's, y'know, the star of the show, right?
Seg-El first appeared in a great comic from 1988 called The World of Krypton, by the powerhouse creative team of Mike Mignola and John Byrne. He was already Jor-El's father at that point, and certainly not the scrappy potential revolutionary we meet here. Also, in the comics his name was spelled Seyg-El.
The name Seg-El (or Seyg-El) is almost certainly a tribute to Superman's co-creator Jerry Siegel.
The Seg-El of the screen reminds me a little bit more of Van-L (not a typo), Seyg's ancestor from hundreds of years earlier, who lost everything when the planet underwent a devastating civil war...triggered in part by the terrorist organization Black Zero. Uh-oh...we hear that name a lot in this pilot. - In World of Krypton, the terrorist organization Black Zero basically empties some kind of nuclear destabilizing agent into Krypton's core, which helps hasten the planet's destruction centuries later. Black Zero was also the name of Zod's gigantic war ship in Man of Steel.
Seg is going to become a member of the Science Guild, which is the first step towards the destiny of his son, Jor-El, who becomes the greatest scientific mind on Krypton.
- Georgina Campbell plays Lyta Zod, and yes, she is you-know-who's ancestor. Her crest here seems to be different than any Zod crest I've ever seen. In any case, those Kryptonian military guild uniforms are sharp. I love that capes are only used for ceremonial occasions, too.
Neither Lyta Zod nor her mother, Jayna, are from the comics...but I'm going to have lots more supplementary info on both of them from my time on the set of Krypton soon enough! Stay tuned!
- Lyta is betrothed to Dev-Em, who is a very different character from his comics counterpart. The Dev-Em of the comics was banished to the Phantom Zone and became an enemy of Superman down the line. The Dev-Em of the show is a little more complicated than that. I love the fact that we're getting a TV show with Dev-Em on it. That's a Phantom Zone villain who has been annoying Superman since like, 1961.
He was a background character in Man of Steel, too.
- As far as I can tell, there is no Nyssa Vex in the comics. There was certainly a Car-Vex in Man of Steel, so I have to imagine this is an ancestor. Wallis Day plays Nyssa with the icy calm of Sarah Douglas' Ursa in Superman and Superman II, although her character is a lot more complex than that. Here's a mild spoiler, folks...if you're looking for an easy villain in this pilot (other than the obvious green guy) you aren't going to find one.
- Nyssa and Seg's trip to the Genesis Chamber in Kandor reveals a LOT about Krypton, though. Krypton has moved beyond physical reproduction and childbearing (but not recreational sex, so that's good). Remember in the opening of Man of Steel where they made a big deal out of the fact that Kal-El was born "the old-fashioned way?"
It's also worth noting that in the comics of the '80s/'90s, not only was natural childbirth not a thing on Krypton, neither was the fun part. Babies were made 100% in test tubes (or "birthing matrixes") and sex was considered primitive and barbaric and love itself was a revolutionary act. I probably have given this point too much thought, though.
There's a comics connection to this, too. This whole thing where technology tells you who your child will be, what their profession is, and how long they will live is actually right out of the vintage Krypton stories in the Superman comics. There, kids would go, get themselves scanned, and get "sorted" into different fields. The comics version of Krypton wasn't as strictly classist as the one we see on the show, but you definitely had aptitudes for science, military, politics, etc. This sequence in the Genesis Chamber feels like a nod to that.
- The key to the Fortress is named as a sunstone crystal. Crystal tech wasn't really a thing in the old Superman comics until it became the key technology in Richard Donner's Superman movie in 1978 and its sequels. When Geoff Johns took over the Superman comics in 2006 and started incorporating more elements from the Donner films, the Kryptonian crystals came with him, and I am 99% certain that was the first time we ever heard the term "sunstone" applies to them.
Anyway, having this crystal as the key to the Fortress is very much a nod to how Clark Kent discovers his true alien heritage in Superman: The Movie.
- I don't need to explain the Fortress of Solitude to you, right? Of course I don't. BUT, there are some neat things contained in the Fortress.
- Of course, you all caught the use of John Williams' famed Superman musical theme at key moments, correct? Yet another way that the greatest Superman movie of all time influenced this movie.
- First of all, you'll see those two giant statues. In the comics, Superman keeps statues of his parents, Jor-El and Lara, holding up a giant Kryptonian globe. Here, those statues are intended to represent the first of the line of the House of El, and the globe that they're holding is a representation of Rao, Krypton's giant red sun.
- The star map that makes up the roof of the Fortress is proof of Val-El's research and travels. He has mapped the stars, while the rest of Krypton doesn't believe in life beyond their borders.
- The giant oval windows you see, if you look closely, are covered in luminous Kryptonian lettering. Each of those windows tells the story of a different member of the House of El, each taken from various comics. The only thing is...you can't read them unless you can read Kryptonian. But this is an actual detail that they put into that set, and it's pretty amazing.
- But perhaps the coolest thing of all, is you can spot a weird alien plant in a glass case. That is a Black Mercy, familiar to fans of one of the greatest Superman stories ever told, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons'"For the Man Who Has Everything." I wrote about that in much more detail here, but the short version is, if you haven't read it, you should fix that immediately.
- Adam Strange first appeared in a 1958 issue of Showcase (Barry Allen, The Flash, had arrived two years earlier in the same book). He was created by Julius Schwartz and Murphy Anderson, which is quite a creative pedigree. The Adam of the comics didn't go to Krypton, but rather the planet Rann, also via Zeta Beam, which also would zap him home at inconvenient moments when its effects wore off.
Adam Strange is a Detroit Tigers fan. Geoff Johns, DC's Chief Creative Officer and who is a key influence on this show, was born in Detroit. Draw your own conclusions. The idea that Seg thinks the Tigers logo on a baseball cap is a guild logo is pretty hilarious, though.
It's interesting that Adam Strange smokes. What is that weird fake brand that aren't Marlboro red cowboy killers he's smoking? Lamborellos? And who still buys cigarettes in a soft pack?
- The fact that Seg thinks Adam is from "the planet Detroit" is a really subtle and clever nod to Superman II. When General Zod and his buddies arrived on Earth, they thought it was "planet Houston."
- We don't have to mention that Superman's cape here is functioning like the family photo in Back to the Future, right? Everyone caught that? Good. Moving on...
- When Seg is having that conversation with his parents about Adam, the cut of his shirt, and the design around the shoulders, make it look like the shirt/cape combo of Superman.
- Seg's parents, and thus Superman's great-grandparents, are Tyr-El and Charys-El. They aren't from the comics (that I can tell, at least), but Tyr is a reasonably common Kryptonian name, so why the hell not, right?
- A fun detail in the background. You can see Tyr-El's medicine on a table, two gold vials with red liquid in them. Up close, those vials have Kryptonian writing on them that reads "take two drops a day, seven days a week."
- Seg is still a long way off from being a noble superhero, but when he fights those military cadets in the alley at night, he does this jumping punch maneuver that is kind of a Superman-esque move.
We should talk about Brainiac, right?
- Brainiac has been menacing Superman since Action Comics #242 in 1958 (hey, the same year that Adam Strange first appeared!). His MO has always been that he steals cities from the surfaces of planets and bottles them. He's a terrific villain, but has never been done properly in live action...until now.
The version of Brainiac that we're going to get on this show draws heavily from Geoff Johns and Gary Frank's excellent Brainiac story from 2007, which kind of evolved the character into this movie-worthy, terrifying, cybernetic horror show. It's handily one of the greatest Superman stories of the modern era, and the best of my lifetime.
I'm not gonna get into too much more detail for fear of spoiling future episodes, but trust me on this, Superman fans...this is the Brainiac you have always wanted to see.
- Seg's best friend Kem remains mysterious, as is his background. But if you dig way the hell back in El history, there was a Kem-L. It's probably a coincidence...right?
- Kryptonian currency and the electronic method they use to swap it is "solar chips." You can spot faded posters and fliers in among the graffiti in Kem's bar, and that's the only place in the show where paper is ever used.
Alright, Science Council! See anything I didn't? Let me know in the comments or shout 'em at me on that Phantom Zone of futility, Twitter! (I'm just kidding, we all know Facebook is the actual Phantom Zone...that place is the worst)
I'll be back each and every week to unpack every Superman and DC Comics easter egg you can possibly hope for!
While we impatiently wait for more of Josh Brolin as Cable in Deadpool 2, the bigger question is...who the hell is Cable?
With Cable making his film debut in Deadpool 2, where he'll be played by Josh Brolin, it’s been a common refrain amongst casual comics fans lately to ask those of us steeped in the folklore “Who is Cable and why should I care?”
Five hours later, when our response ends with a pile of X-Men comics being used to light an effigy of Bob Harras while we chant “NO MORE RETCONS! NO MORE RETCONS!” many of those casual fans are often scared away from the X-Men, comics in general, and our homes.
I’m here today to give you a clear, concise rundown of the history of Nathan Christopher Charles Summers...ha! Almost got it out with a straight face. The reality is Cable is a continuity black hole, but there’s a reason why he’s enduringly popular and I’m going to explain it to you in one sentence:
He’s a badass soldier from the future.
That’s the core of his appeal. There are layers (and layers and layers and layers...sweet Jesus are there layers) added over that, but at his core, he’s always just been a badass soldier from the future trying to build a badass army to prevent his awful future from coming to pass.
Cable was introduced in 1990 to be a new mentor to the second generation of X-students, the New Mutants. He was more militaristic than his predecessors: Charles Xavier, the secretly monstrous founder of the Xavier school, and Magneto, the surprisingly incompetent reformed nemesis. He also showed up packing heat - he was covered in giant guns to the point where he eventually became a parody/poster child for the excesses of '90s comics. But at the same time, he was placed at the center of the third age of X-Men comics, one defined by Apocalypse and soapy family relationships.
Cable was eventually revealed to be Nathan Christopher Summers, the child of Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor, taken into the future to save his life after he was infected with a virus that caused his body to morph into a pile of loose technology. While there, he discovered that he was destined to take down Apocalypse, the nigh-immortal mutant who eventually takes over the world and turns it into a Darwinist shitscape. He jumps back in time and takes control of the New Mutants to help further that goal.
He becomes an interesting case study in comics storytelling - almost a decade after his first introduction, he actually succeeds in destroying Apocalypse and averting his terrible future (don’t worry, it’s comics: Apocalypse gets better). That set him adrift for a little while, but his core stayed the same. He was a badass soldier from the future, and he stayed that way whether he was fighting brushfire wars in eastern Europe, protecting a mutant messiah as they’re chased through the future like it’s Lone Wolf and X-Cub, or saving the world with his omega level telepathy and telekinesis after his techno-organic virus was completely cured.
His link to Deadpool comes mostly from two things: they were both created by Rob Liefeld around the same time, and they shared the headlining role in one of Marvel’s better mainline hero books of the aughts, Cable and Deadpool. In that, Nate was mostly just the straight man in a straightforward superhero action/humor comic. Deadpool would do his thing (Bugs Bunny with an arsenal) while Cable did his (overpowered messiah saving the world with over-the-top action). It was a solid examination of some of Cable’s more absurd character elements, while also being a good, epic X-Men comic.
Most recently, Cable had a new series announced at Marvel. In it, he’ll be (wait for it) a badass soldier from the future, jumping through time to protect the timestream. So it looks like they see what we’ve been enjoying, too.
- In the Age of Apocalypse, Nate Grey was a clone made by Mr. Sinister to eventually challenge Apocalypse’s dominance. He was shunted to the 616 reality at the end of that mini-event and served no purpose in the main universe for a little while, until he was later reimagined as a weird mutant shaman and continued to serve no purpose but without being a direct rip on Cable.
- Ultimate Cable is genuinely funny. The Ultimate Universe was a stripped down version of the main Marvel universe, a direct response to '90s excesses in convoluted continuity and overused guest appearances. With that in mind, Ultimate Cable was actually a future version of Wolverine.
- Cable also appeared as a playable character in Marvel Vs. Capcom 2. He had a giant gun beam spam move, and anyone who chose him was of loose morals.
New Mutants #87 - Cable’s first appearance. It’s easy to see why he got so many people pumped. Rob Liefeld’s art, while not everyone's cup of tea, was also full of energy and enthusiasm and a lot of fun to look at.
X-Cutioner’s Song - This 1992 X-Men crossover is almost entirely gibberish. This is where the Summers connection was revealed, and it was all about Cable, Stryfe, Cyclops, Jean, and Apocalypse. The art, however, is actually pretty good. It’s got early Jae Lee, Greg Capullo, Andy Kubert ,and Brandon Peterson, and they do a great job of giving the reader something to do besides get a headache trying to chart a family tree.
The Twelve- Again, this is not a good comic, but it’s the pivot point of Cable’s story: here is where he stopped being Apocalypse’s nemesis and started being an ex-messiah.
Cable & Deadpool - This is where people started taking Cable seriously again. It was a fun, fairly uncomplicated superhero book that had great Deadpool moments, and did a lot of good character work on Nate.
Messiah Complex, Cable (vol. 2), Messiah War, and X-Men: Second Coming - This is my personal favorite era of X-Men comics. The three big crossovers are all very good, and focused on Cable and Hope. Cable’s solo book is also excellent, and you get some really good Badass Nathan Summers stuff in all of these.
X-Force vol. 4 - Simon Spurrier is a madman. This series is like if Grant Morrison played with Transformers as a kid: it’s got a vivid ‘80s feel to it, but it’s just weird and good. This series prominently features a character whose mutant power is you forget about him if you’re not looking directly at him. And it has Dr. Nemesis, who is hilarious.
Uncanny Avengers - Gerry Duggan’s latest version of the X-Men/Avengers hybrid team has actually morphed into a follow up to Cable & Deadpool. It’s a straightforward superhero action book, but it’s got good character bits and is almost Busiek-like in its appreciation of Avengers and X-Men continuity.
Deadpool 2 opens on May 18.
The Den of Geek Book Club is a place to geek out about our favorite science fiction, fantasy, and horror books.
We have launched a Den of Geek Book Club as a place to recommend, discuss, and obsess over our favorite fantasy, science fiction, and horror books. Join us in discussing our latest pick...
March/April Pick: Children of Blood & Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Children of Blood and Bone is the first book in the West African-inspired fantasy series Legacy of Orisha. The debut from 23-year-old Tomi Adeyemi made waves when it was bought by Macmillan for a reported seven-figure sum.
The story follows Zelie, a girl who lost her mother in the purge of magic executed by Orisha's totalitarian ruler, Saran. In the first book, Zelie sets out to restore magic to the land and take down Saran, with a little help from her friends: a giant lion and her older brother. Prince Inan, another protagonist in the book, pursues Zelie as she undergoes her quest, torn between his family and, you know, doing the right thing.
Children of Blood and Bone is a promising start to a new young adult fantasy series that is set to take the world by storm. Head over to our Den of Geek Book Club page to join the discussion!
February/March Pick: All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
All Our Wrong Todays is a time travel novel where the "wrong" timeline is our own. When protagonist Tom Barren travels back in time using his father's technology, he changes the world from a utopia where the problems of war, poverty, and under-ripe avocados have been solved, into, well, this one. By centering our timeline as the "wrong" one, author Elan Mastai subverts many of the classic time travel narrative trope, giving us a fresh science fiction novel for anyone who worries they're living in the darkest timeline.
January/February Pick: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor is a Hugo Award-winning novella about a young African woman who leaves her home on Earth for the first time to attend an intergalactic university on another planet. On the voyage, something goes terribly wrong, forcing Binti to rely on her mathematic skills and her culture to survive.
The Afrofuturist space adventure novella is unlike anything I have ever read, coming from one of the most exciting authors working in science fiction right now. The story continues in two follow-up novellas already published.
From Sith apprentice to Old Master, Darth Maul is the Star Wars villain everyone loves to hate. Here's what you need to know about Maul!
This Star Wars article contains spoilers.
From the Prequel Trilogy to Star Wars Rebels, Darth Maul just won't quit. The short-lived villain from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace became a standout fan favorite because of his appearance and acrobatic lightsaber moves, and after his return in season four of The Clone Wars, he moved into other mediums - like the four-part Son of Dathomir comic series.
His surprise resurgence in Rebels brought the villain to a whole new era of Star Wars, as Maul clashed with the heroes of the early Rebellion. His particular interest in young Jedi apprentice Ezra Bridger made for quite a few interesting appearances. In his final episode, Maul faced off against his old nemesis, Obi-Wan Kenobi, under the twin suns of Tatooine. Maul was finally defeated, but that doesn't mean we'll never see him again. If the villain has proved anything, it's that he's not one to stay down.
Here are some important facts you may not have known about the former Sith villain, either behind the scenes or in the galaxy far, far away:
His design was created by Iain McCaig
Ian McCaig is the same designer whose art would eventually inspire the witches of Dathomir in The Clone Wars. Early concept art for the character showed a villainous-looking woman with hair falling in strands across her face. McCaig experimented with ink-blot “Rorschach” designs as well as flayed-looking faces before finding the right look for Darth Maul. The tattoos on his face follow the muscle structure beneath.
A canonical connection between the Dathomiri witches and the Sith would only be established later on in The Clone Wars, and now continues into the new canon, but the connection was always there in the art. Iain McCaig also designed many of Padme’s outfits in Episode I.
Darth Maul wears an earring in the film - but this wasn’t planned.
Actor Ray Park put on a small, silver earring before sitting down to do the Darth Maul makeup, and only noticed it later. But George Lucas said he liked it, so the earring stayed. Park has said that he sees the earring as an aspect of himself, not of the character - and in an Expanded Universe where every doodad and costume piece usually has a story, there has never been a canon explanation to give this particular detail a role in Maul’s history.
Ray Park also had a hand in developing Maul’s fighting style, and asked that the hilt of Maul’s double lightsaber be lengthened so that he could use it more efficiently.
He’s had two different mothers.
In Son of Dathomir, Talzin says that she’s Maul’s blood mother. This is different from his history in Legends, but only slightly.
Maul’s original mother, from the young adult novel, The Wrath of Darth Maul, was a human Nightsister named Kycina, from a region called Blue Desert City. It’s still possible that Talzin is lying, but The Clone Wars gave Maul an entire family.
We’re not precisely sure how the brothers Feral and Savage are related, but they could all be blood-related from this same family. Who is the father? We don’t know yet.
Maul, like many other villains, earned his cyborg parts.
In Star Wars, cybernetic implants are like battle scars. This isn’t unique to antagonists, but Darth Vader and General Grievous had extensive cybernetic reconstruction. Darth Maul goes through this in The Clone Wars, too, although it isn’t overtly obvious in Son of Dathomir. Maul’s original artificial legs are of a similar design to Grievous’, and were built out of Nightsister magic and scrap parts by Mother Talzin.
A similar design for Darth Maul appeared many years earlier in Old Wounds, a non-canon comic (even in the Legends timeline) that told the story of Maul's rematch with Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tatooine. The Clone Wars featured an entirely new design for Maul: an eight-legged body made out of scrap metal. By the time Maul appeared in Rebels, he had acquired more refined parts. His metal legs were almost human-like.
He sought his master's approval even while trying to destroy him.
Sure, Darth Maul was a bit of a pushover for getting cut in half by a teenage Padawan. But in Son of Dathomir, he and his combined forces of Mandalorians and criminals capture both Count Dooku and General Grievous without lengthy battles. Once they're in his clutches, Maul parades his success in front of Darth Sidious in one of the most telling parts of the comic.
Maul displays Grievous and Dooku to Sidious so that the Sith Lord can see their failure. For someone who opposed Sidious for years on The Clone Wars, Maul is very quick to show off to him - which makes for a bitter, twisted moment in Maul and Sidious’ long-standing Master-apprentice relationship.
In that way, the Son of Dathomir comic doesn’t just make Maul more powerful, it also tells a lot about how Maul seeks both revenge on and approval from his master - and that’s a story thread that started all the way back in The Phantom Menace.
Some of Maul’s Clone Wars stories are still unwritten.
The novel Ahsoka opens with a short scene showing some of what Maul was up to around the time of Revenge of the Sith. We don’t know the exact timeline of how he got to Mandalore where he faced her. However, it is one puzzle piece in the picture of what might have happened in The Clone Wars had it continued past six seasons.
The verbal barb Maul throws at Ahsoka — “One last attempt at glory to impress a master who has no further use for you” — is telling. He showed that very same weakness throughout the Clone Wars when he tried to return to Darth Sidious, so it seems natural that this particular effort would be on his mind when he faces Ahsoka.
Ahsoka saved Maul’s life.
Without Ahsoka’s appearance in Rebels, Maul’s fate might have been very different. Executive Producer Dave Filoni originally planned for Maul to die at Darth Vader’s hands during the season two finale. However, Ahsoka’s history with Vader was deemed more appropriate for the big season two finale.
A duel between Maul and Vader would have satisfied fans’ desire to see a fight scene between these two heavy-hitters, but Ahsoka’s story had more emotional weight, Filoni said. Without enough time in the episode to do both, Filoni decided to send Ahsoka to fight Vader, and, therefore, keep Maul alive.
Maul never really finds himself.
Star Warsfeatures many stories of young people growing up and finding their true destinies. Luke Skywalker set the example, but Ezra Bridger and Rey followed suit. Maul, on the other hand, is a perpetual apprentice, never able to move past the manipulative relationship Darth Sidious trapped him in. The partnership between Maul and Ezra in Rebels is as much about Maul finding a direction as it is about him giving orders to Ezra.
Filoni said, “Maul is waiting for someone so that he can be his own Sith Lord. Everything he does is a reflection of Palpatine. He hasn’t really done anything that’s representative of who he is.”
Maul's search for himself leads directly to the culmination of his story...
Maul believed in the Chosen One prophecy.
Remember that Old Wounds comic? Rebels took Maul's final chapter in a similar direction. The specifics of the face-off between Maul and Kenobi were very different from what happened in Old Wounds: the episode "Twin Suns" is less focused on their battle and more on the long bond of enmity between Maul and Obi-Wan.
In the poetic and melancholy “Twin Sons,” Maul expresses a dying wish to know whether Obi-Wan was on the planet to guard the Chosen One. Obi-Wan says yes, and Maul dies believing that there is still hope for the Sith to rise when the Chosen One brings “balance.” In the end, Luke Skywalker brings hope to everyone — even his master’s old enemy.
Game developers keep trying to make a Maul story.
Maul’s dramatic visual design and simple motivation have made him a popular choice Star Wars video games as well as other media. Revenge drives him, so he provides an immediate hook for a video game that could pit him against Jedi and other dark siders.
A game that would have been a collaboration between LucasArts and Red Fly Studio was poised to tell a dark tale about Maul after Return of the Jedi, but was never completed. Concept art for Battlefront IV also features Maul, albeit a light side version who trained as a Jedi (and, since he wasn’t canonically Dathomirian at the time, didn’t have his tattoos.)
Now that Maul has finally died in canon, it seems like his story might have ultimately wrapped up on a message of hope. Even Maul, a tragic villain, was granted hope by a Jedi.
Megan Crouse is a staff writer.
In a world where the dead rose in Gettysburg, a young black woman trains to be a zombie killer.
Dread Nation, the upcoming post-Civil War alternate history from Justina Ireland, is one of our most anticipated young adult books of 2018.
The young adult novel is about a world where the dead rose during the Battle of Gettysburg, forever changing the course of the Civil War and America itself. Seventeen-year-old protagonist Jane McKeene is a young woman coming of age into an America where something called the Native and Negro Education Act dictates that certain children attend combat schools where they train to become soldiers in the fight against the undead.
Jane herself is training to be an Attendant, a bodyguard against zombies for the well-to-do, but it is a life she doesn't want. Before she can finish her training and return home to Kentucky, Jane is pulled into a conspiracy when families around Baltimore start going missing. Dun, dun, duhn.
Dread Nation comes out on April 3rd, and Balzer + Bray just released a book trailer setting the mood for the launch...
And here's the full synopsis for Dread Nation:
Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania—derailing the War Between the States and changing the nation forever.
In this new America, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Education Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead.
But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It's a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.
But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston's School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose.
But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies.
And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.
Dread Nation is set for release from Balzer + Bray on April 3rd. Pre-Order Dread Nation on Amazon.
With X-Force about to make their movie debut in Deadpool 2, we look at the history of the team.
For nearly a decade, the New Mutants were the second generation of Professor Charles Xavier’s students, the wide-eyed kids finding their way through a world that hated and feared them, and was also often a demon-infested hellscape and/or Asgard. But after nearly 100 issues, Marvel was itching for a change, so they handed the reins of New Mutants to a hot new artist named Rob Liefeld, who brought a new energy, new characters, and eventually a new name to the book, carving out a thematic niche for the team that would endure for the next 30 years.
However, that niche was wide and held a lot of different variations in it. With revelation that X-Force will play a role in Deadpool 2, and with Drew Goddard taking the reins of the upcoming X-Force movie (which will also feature Cable and Deadpool), we thought it would be worth looking at the various incarnations and iterations of X-Force, Marvel’s proactive, paramilitary-ish mutant team.
The original X-Force team was a fairly logical outgrowth of the New Mutants. For years, Cannonball, Sunspot, Mirage, Magik, Cypher, Warlock, and Wolfsbane were stifled as teenage mutants trying to grow into the second generation of mutant heroes at Xavier’s school. First under the tutelage of Professor Xavier, then under Magneto, the team was constantly rebelling against restrictions placed on them, even after those rebellions ended up getting a mess of them killed or horribly damaged.
After leaving Magneto, and following a series of defections, deaths and new colleagues joining the team, they cast out on their own and were eventually taken under the wing of Cable, a mysterious mutant from the future, and trained not to be pacifist schoolchildren, but a preemptive strike force. The then-core team consisted of time-displaced military leader Cable; heart of the New Mutants and secretly the most popular guy in the Marvel universe Cannonball; ultimate survivor and friend of Beyonders Boom-Boom; and preternaturally fortunate mercenary and ex-colleague of Cable’s Domino. They added former Hellion and younger brother of the deceased Thunderbird, Warpath; Feral, a savage, former Morlock cat lady; and Shatterstar, a Mojoverse refugee who carried two swords with parallel blades. They rebranded as X-Force and set out to influence the future by being proactive in their own time. That mission statement would stick: every reinvention of the team (but one) would be centered around using whatever means necessary to proactively protect mutantkind.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t a very sustainable thesis for a long-term single run.
Caught up in the tumult of real world bullpen politics, X-Forcesaw some significant changes early in its run, including the departure of its creator, Rob Liefeld, and a shift in publishing strategy towards editor-driven annual crossovers. The team added and lost members - Mirage, the Cheyenne former leader of the New Mutants; Rictor, an earthquake-causing geomorph; Siryn, Banshee’s daughter; and Sunspot, the rich Brazilian ex-New Mutant and best Avenger ever are among the most famous of the rotating cast. The ongoing changes eventually ground down the book’s identity, and while it went on being published for 100 issues, it lost the voice it burst onto the scene with and became just another X-Men book with a different cast.
This wave of X-Force had a dying gasp. Along with the rest of the X-comic line, there was a flurry of change ahead of the new movie and the impending anniversary issue, X-Men #100. X-Force, along with Generation X and X-Man were handed over to Warren Ellis, the legendary writer who was then hip-deep in Planetaryand Transmetropolitan. He turned Cannonball, Boom-Boom, Domino, Warpath, and Bedlam into a covert ops group handled by Pete Wisdom and the British government. This lasted for roughly 15 issues before the team, and the entire core concept behind it, were overhauled completely.
Marvel, crawling out of creative and financial bankruptcy, appointed almost entirely new leadership in their comic division around 2001. Joe Quesada, the new Editor-in-Chief, brought with him a former Vertigo editor, Axel Alonso, who himself brought his Vertigo sensibility to Marvel. That meant hiring some...odd picks...for his team books.
Peter Milligan’s most famous work to this point had been a thoroughly weird revamp of Shade, the Changing Man, that was more a musing on mental illness than it was a superhero comic. Mike Allred created Madman, a deep indie superhero who was as much pop art as it was story. They were...not a natural fit for the paramilitary underground mutant group that X-Force had been, so Milligan, Allred and Alonso changed the team to be a send up of all millennial pop culture. Characters like Phat, U-Go Girl, or someone who DEFINITELY WASN’T a resurrected Princess Diana were a mix of Britney Spears and reality television stars. The book was a pretty savage takedown of pop culture and superhero comics, with the entire team being killed off more than once and the title changing from X-Force to X-Statix.
Unfortunately, the book was also not a great seller, so despite its critical acclaim, the series was cancelled after two years and the X-Force name lay fallow for a bit.
Mutants with Knives and Claws
Following a couple of original X-Force miniseries by creator Rob Liefeld, the X-line braintrust found a compelling story reason for reintroducing the team name to the world. After House of M depowered all but 200 of the world’s mutants, and a series of attacks by mutant hating foes The Purifiers killed a gaggle of the remaining students, the X-world went nuts when the first mutant in years was born in Alaska. Cyclops, teetering on the edge of becoming a full fledged revolutionary, pulled together a team to find and secure the baby, and eventually bring her to him. This team consisted of Caliban (clawed ex-Morlock with tracking powers), Warpath (giant inaugural X-Force member who carried two big knives), Wolfsbane (lycanthropic, clawed ex-New Mutant), Hepzibah (designated Sexy Cat Lady of the Starjammers, who had claws), Wolverine (you know this guy), and X-23 (Wolverine clone with knife claws in her knuckles and feet).
Eventually, the baby was sent into the future with Cable, but Cyclops found having his own hit squad to be fairly useful, especially with the mass-murdering Purifiers still in the world, so he kept them around as his black ops team. The team eventually gained several members, including Elixir, Domino, Archangel and Vanisher, while others left or were dropped, like Wolfsbane or Hepzibah. Craig Kyle and Chris Yost wrote this as a sort of follow up to their prior X-work - they previously helmed New X-Men: Academy X where they were the writers responsible for a teenage bloodbath, killing somewhere in the vicinity of 50 students of Xavier’s school in their tenure. The Purifiers were responsible for most of those deaths, so naturally they spend a good chunk of this run getting ripped to shreds.
Clayton Crain digitally painted the majority of these issues, and his dark colors matched the book’s tone well. Eventually during Second Coming, the existence of Cyclops’ personal hit squad was revealed, forcing him to disband and disavow X-Force.
They got better, though.
There is a superhero comics criticism theory that says that cape stories cycle every 20 years or so - that Marvel tries to recreate Peter Parker for every generation of readers, or that Grant Morrison was just riffing on Chris Claremont’s five big stories. Rick Remender and Jerome Opena took over the X-Force team in 2010, and, following this theory, started mining Apocalypse’s lore for everything he was worth. The major difference between Uncanny X-Force and its ‘90s ancestors is this book is one of the greatest X-Men comics of all time.
Remender’s Uncanny X-Force follows on the heels of Yost/Kyle’s, and takes a somewhat different team off to a dark corner of the X-Men universe. It opens with Wolverine, Psylocke, Deadpool, Archangel, and Fantomex as they discover that Apocalypse, the evil, immortalish mutant responsible for some of the greatest horrors in mutant history, was being reincarnated by the cult dedicated to his worship. When they arrive, they discover that Apocalypse is actually a preteen being groomed to develop into En Sabah Nur, and what follows is the superhero equivalent of a “Should we kill baby Hitler” argument. Fantomex tires of the argument, and shoots the kid in the head. The rest of the series has the team deal with the fallout of this decision: musings on fate and destiny; the slow descent of one of their own into Apocalypse’s heir; a deep, DEEP continuity dive on Apocalypse’s history in all its multiversal forms; the weaponization of the Superman myth to save the world; and two of the most heartbreaking death scenes in any comic ever.
This series more than any other was the logical goal of the X-Force line of mutant storytelling. It was a deconstruction of the “proactive paramilitary group” trope, weaved together with bits of X-Men lore and some cool Deathlok stuff. If you haven’t read it yet, this is HIGHLY recommended.
The critical acclaim that Remender’s Uncanny X-Force brought led to Marvel trying to cash in on its popularity. They followed it up with two books: a second volume of Uncanny X-Force, where Psylocke, Bishop, Storm, Puck (from Alpha Flight) and ⅔ of Fantomex, where the thrust of the story was about Psylocke trying to accept or move past her self-identification as a killer after the events of the previous series. The other book was Cable & X-Force, where Cable led a team with Dr. Nemesis, Colossus, Domino, Hope, Boom Boom and Forge.
This team operated in a more similar way to the traditional X-Force mission statement: Cable’s powers had gone awry, giving him glimpses into the near future. He used this team to try and prevent the visions from coming to pass. Neither of these books were terribly substantive (though Cable & X-Force did introduce a relationship between Colossus and Domino that turned out to be a lot of fun), and both were cancelled after a year and a half or so.
X-Force proper had one last gasp before its current status. Simon Spurrier and Rock-He Kim reimagined the team as the intelligence service for a newly sovereign mutant race. He took Cable, Psylocke, Marrow, Fantomex, and Dr. Nemesis, and matched them with new member MeMe (a sentient computer program), and had them battle underground threats to the mutant race, like a Russian businessman repowering former mutants and turning them into weapons, or Strikeforce Morituri. Really.
This version of X-Force was interesting, but not exactly a sales darling. It was cancelled in 2015 after 15 issues, and the X-Force moniker has not been used to headline a book since.
In recent years, as the X-Men line has edged closer to creative and financial insolvency, Marvel decided to take the concept of a proactive group of mutants doing morally questionable things and made that the point of the entire line of comics. Following the detonation of a Terrigen bomb, the X-Men found themselves in a world that hated and feared them that was also poisonous to them. The majority of the X-Men retreated to Limbo, while a small group (Magneto, Psylocke, M, Mystique, Fantomex and a reformed/inverted don’t ask Sabretooth) did “whatever it took” to protect mutants on Earth. Because this was the main theme of the entire X-Line, this team was published under the name Uncanny X-Men, and recently wrapped following the big IvX crossover where the X-Men fought the Inhumans and their oldest, deadliest foe: a cloud.
It’s not good, and it was scrapped when the most recent relaunch, ResurrXion, kicked off.
With New Mutants and Deadpool 2 wrapped, Fox signed Drew Goddard (of Daredevil and The Martian fame) to take over development of X-Force as the next property in their slate of X-movies, and judging by early news, his take will fall right in the middle of the spirit implied by the name. Goddard said the new team will be a mutant black ops group led by Deadpool and Cable, with founding members Domino and Shatterstar, while the rest of the team may be a kind of ragtag group of mutants we meet in Deadpool 2. It sounds like if you’re a long-time fan of X-Force teams, it’s okay to be cautiously optimistic about the movie version.
Deadpool 2 opens on May 18, 2018.
The biggest Power Rangers team-up ever draws in Rangers from many different seasons.
The Power Rangers comic is about to unleash a huge event with Power Rangers: Shattered Grid (running through Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Go Go Power Rangers). A new (live action!) trailer just dropped that features Jason David Frank return to his iconic role of Tommy but with a twist, he's playing Lord Drakkon.
This is a huge video for a comic book event and demonstrates just how interconnected this event will be. Thanks to IGN we know what seasons some of the Rangers returning for this event will be drawn from.
Dino Super Charge, RPM, Time Force, Ninja Steel and Dino Thunder.
Below you can see an upcoming cover which features not only RPM but also SPD in civilian outfits!
The comics event will also feature a brand new Megazord made up of parts from the season two Zords. Check that Tor head!
The new trailer for the event, which features Jason David Frank voicing the character of Lord Drakkon, also teases the inclusion of the Lightspeed Rescue team as well.
The full line-up for the event is below, which will run through both the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Go Go Power Rangers comics.
We've also got some preview images of the event that feature the Time Force Rangers!
In May 2018 BOOM! Studios and Saban Brands will also unleash a free comic that ties into the ongoing event. See below for the press release and we'll explain just why it's a big deal.
BOOM! Studios and Saban Brands announce the MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS 2018 FREE COMIC BOOK DAY SPECIAL. Arriving in comic shops worldwide on Free Comic Book Day (May 5th, 2018), this FREE comic is a tie-in to the hotly anticipated POWER RANGERS: SHATTERED GRID comic book event and features the story of how Zordon turns to the Morphin Masters for help in the Power Rangers’ darkest hour as the Rangers battle Lord Drakkon—an evil version of Tommy, the Green Ranger, from an alternate reality. The issue will be written by Kyle Higgins (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) and Ryan Parrott (Saban’s Go Go Power Rangers) and illustrated by Diego Galindo (Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Dog Men).
Morphin Masters? Okay, if you aren't the most hardcore of Power Rangers fans you might not recall what the hell the Morphin Masters are. Basically, there was an early MMPR episode where Zordon casually name dropped the Morphin Masters in relation to the Power Eggs in the episode "Big Sisters". The kind of throwaway line MMPR was known for but for years fans have speculated what the hell the Morphin Masters were. Well knowing how insane the Power Rangers comics can get with continuity we're excited to see their take on it.
Check out the cover of the comic (which sadly doesn't feature any Morphin Masters.)
Shamus Kelley can not get over the inclusion of the Morphin Masters! Follow him on Twitter!
We have a complete guide to the Marvel Comics you should read before you see Avengers: Infinity War.
Avengers: Infinity War is almost here, and with it comes the first extended appearance of Thanos, a character with a surprisingly rich history for someone who was created as a ripoff of Darkseid musing on the concept of nihilism by a bunch of really stoned teenagers honestly I'm not sure which one I'm supposed to cross out there. Thanos was both of those things, and so much more, and he became one of the Marvel Universe's most feared villains almost as soon as he burst on the scene.
And since the movie is likely going to be a lot about him, we've got a rundown of all the Marvel Comics you're going to want to check out to prep for what promises to be his movie. We've also got some of the stories that the movie is likely going to be drawing from so you can be ready for all the references and winks at comics fans.
The Infinity Gauntlet
The most impressive thing from the most recent trailer for Infinity War wasn't the crappy Spider-Man costume or the fact that they jammed in more Shuri and Dora Milaje to capitalize on Black Panther. It was the very specific dialogue in the trailer about Thanos wanting the Infinity Stones to kill "half the universe." That is a direct lift from The Infinity Gauntlet, the story that moved Thanos from a bit villain in Jim Starlin's psychedelic '70s Marvel space stories to one of the primary bad dudes of the entire Marvel Universe.
The Infinity Gauntlet had Thanos, furious that he was being friendzoned by an abstract concept, obtain the titular macguffin to impress Death by killing half the living beings in the universe. He does, and he is opposed by Adam Warlock and the universal entities who make up the real power of the galaxy - Eternity, Eon, Galactus, the Living Tribunal, etc. (to be clear, Etcetera is not a character in the Marvel Universe). Adam Warlock and Doctor Strange gather a team of heroes together, and teamed with the universal entites, everyone beats the hell out of Thanos until he tricks himself into not having the gauntlet any more.
I snark, but the thing about The Infinity Gauntlet is it's actually really good. Starlin's writing is more thoughtful and introspective than your typical big summer blockbuster, and George Perez's art on the first half is outstanding. This is a must-read if you're a fan of anything Marvel at all. It has a sequel that's actually called Infinity War, but that's not as essential a read, and doesn't seem to have anything to do with the movie.
Annihilation, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Thanos Imperative
Starting with Annihilationin 2006 and ending with The Thanos Imperative, writing duo Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning's time with the Marvel cosmic characters was foundational for both the future of Marvel Comics and for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Their Guardians of the Galaxy, which grew out of Annihilation: Conquest, is the basis for the MCU version of the Guardians. It also happens that this run of comics was INCREDIBLE.
The era began with a shock invasion of the galaxy by Annihilus and the Negative Zone, where Drax was remade from a monosyllabic killing machine to...a slimmed down, knife-wielding killing machine...and Thanos was helping Annihilus tap into the Power Cosmic, which they were harnessing from a captured Silver Surfer and Galactus. Thanos was killed by Drax at the end of the first series, and then the galaxy had to live through an invasion by the Ultron-led Phalanx; a war between the Shi'ar and the Kree; and a giant tear in the fabric of reality before Thanos was resurrected by the Universal Church of Truth. He was revealed as an avatar of Death, the universal concept and his forever alone internet girlfriend, when the tear in the fabric of reality was discovered to be the point of entry for a parallel universe where death had been conquered by Cthulu and Captain Mar-vell. Thanos quite predictably went apeshit and killed everything in a universe where nothing could be killed.
This era of Marvel cosmic was truly magnificent. Start with Annihilation and then go from there!
Jonathan Hickman's Avengers was enormous and wonderful, and as it turns out extremely important to Avengers: Infinity War.Two things from that era seem to be key to the plot of the movie. The first is how epic and large the Avengers team becomes. Avengers (the big team adventure book) starts with Iron Man telling Captain America "We have to get bigger." And eventually the team comes to encompass...pretty much every Marvel hero, along with (at varying points) Doctor Doom, Molecule Man, Thanos, Corvus Glaive, Black Swan, Proxima Midnight, and Terrax the Parallel Universe Tamer. The movie Avengers team seems similarly stuffed, so I expect many similar dynamics.
The other component of Hickman-era Avengers that is crucial to Infinity War is the Black Order, which we weent into detail about here. The whole design aesthetic of this movie seems to be heavily influenced by the art from Mike Deodato and Jerome Opena. That's a good thing.
Want to know how Thanos became an omega-level MRA? Jason Aaron and Simone Bianchi's Thanos Rising is the place to go.
This story shows Thanos' origins - as a Deviant (a mutant Eternal) on the moon Titan, Thanos' mother had a nervous breakdown immediately upon his birth. He went through life a passive, almost passionately nonviolent person until he discovered his true calling in life: killing as many people as he had to to get Death to notice him.
This comic is dark and weird and beautiful to look at, if extremely European in aesthetic. Aaron's writing is almost always good, and paired with Bianchi's sweeping painted art, it's a great comic.
Check out what the costumes for the Justice League movie we never saw would have looked like!
If you spend any time on Den of Geek, or talking to me in general, it's only a matter of time before I start going on about my favorite topic: superhero movies that almost got made. One of those in particular is Justice League: Mortal, the lost George Miller Justice League movie that very nearly happened.
Justice League: Mortal would have been a very faithful, extraordinarily ambitious superhero movie, and it was all set to begin filming before the plug was pulled. The cast was in place, which included DJ Cotrona (Superman), Armie Hammer (Batman), Adam Brody (The Flash), Megan Gale (Wonder Woman), Santiago Cabrera (Aquaman), Hugh Keays-Byrne (Martian Manhunter), and Common (Green Lantern).
For years, little bits and pieces about this movie have leaked out. But it's only recently that we've started to see things like concept art and costume designs start to surface. It would seem that the dam is beginning to break, as the other day a photo of DJ Cotrona in his Superman costume appeared (I wrote about that in much more detail here). But that might only be the start.
Thanks to Jon Schnepp and Collider Heroes (with a special thanks to DC Films Hub who brought this to my attention) a photo of the full team's costumes has appeared, and it's a colorful, comic book faithful affair.
Check out the image...
Note that while the image that has surfaced is authentic, the only actual actor from those named above in the photo is Megan Gale as Wonder Woman. Everyone else here are just testing out the costumes. You can see a couple of subtle differences in the Superman costume from the photo that surfaced of DJ Cotrona in the suit recently, too, notably that the belt doesn't appear to be as yellow, although that might just be a matter of the resolution in the photo.
So while it's a little blurry, you can still see just how seriously they were taking the superhero aesthetic for this movie. We've long heard about the intricate Batman costume that Armie Hammer tried on, and I really hope we get a better look at that soon. The Flash costume is unapolagetically faithful to the comics, even moreso than the versions we got in the 1990 TV series and the first two seasons of the current show. Aquaman is rocking his late '90s Peter David-era warrior of the sea look, right down to the harpoon hand. Megan Gale's Wonder Woman looks like an Alex Ross painting come to life, as does Martian Manhunter. The Green Lantern costume seems to be a combination of Kyle Rayner and John Stewart's GL looks (it's Stewart in the movie).
A few years ago, some great images of Megan Gale in the Wonder Woman costume had also appeared...
The images come from the website of photographer Mark Rogers, but were brought to our attention by the folks running the Facebook page for an upcoming documentary about the unmade film. Here's hoping Mr. Rogers sees fit to release more. Everything we've heard and read about all of these costumes has been fantastic.
The same folks making that documentary (apparently titled Miller's Justice League: Mortal) gave fans our first taste of some production art a few years ago.
The above image comes from around the film's climax.
Get a look at Aquaman right here. It's a more traditional take than what we're seeing with Jason Momoa in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Note his "water hand."
Here's a look at the Martian Manhunter:
And then here's one more image of Wonder Woman to close things out. If we see more, we'll post them here!
Hopefully more info on this movie comes to light soon, as this was a fascinating project. I wrote in more detail about Justice League: Mortal, including about its script and why it never happened, right here.
The humanistic comic book exploits of Kurt Busiek’s Astro City will soon arrive in live-action form, with a planned TV series.
Astro City continues to delight comic book fans, going strong since its 1995 inception at Image Comics and eventual 2013 migration to DC under the Vertigo imprint. Now, the cult comic brainchild of Kurt Busiek is set to take the next step toward mainstream appreciation: a live-action TV series.
FremantleMedia North America, the company that produces the Neil Gaiman-adapted Starz series, American Gods, has procured the rights for Astro City– held by creator Busiek – with intent on moving forward with a live-action TV adaptation series. The series pilot will be written by Busiek and Rick Alexander, both of whom will serve as an executive producer on behalf of FremantleMedia, joined in that same capacity by Gregory Noveck. As Busiek expresses in a statement:
“It’s a thrill to be working with Rick, Gregory and FremantleMedia on this. Everyone, at every turn, is supportive, helpful and completely focused on capturing the feel of Astro City and bringing it to life as a TV show.”
The Astro City comic is written by Busiek with art by Brent Anderson and is famous for showcasing stunning covers by the legendary comic book painter, Alex Ross (with whom Busiek created the magnificent Marvels series in 1994). The series, which takes place in the eponymous (prototypical,) comic book style metropolitan setting, is essentially an episodic, slice-of-life showcase that follows the adventures of the array of costumed heroes who call it home, along with the regular folk who deal with their sometimes-destructive deeds. While, on the surface, the comic appears to be satirically derivative, it has achieved acclaim in its approach, which does not settle on any individual protagonist or groups, instead constantly culling from a well of over 2,000 characters, shifting to several self-contained story arcs. The series launched in 1995 with the story of a quasi-Superman character, called Samaritan, a super-powered time-traveler trying to prevent the dystopian future from which he came.
Consequently, it will be interesting to see how the Astro City TV show will attempt its focus. Will it take a more comic book purist route and manifest as an anthology series, shifting between story arcs? Or, will it take a conventional dramatic approach, focusing on a protagonist or group, while attempting to conjure the uniquely esoteric elements showcased in the comics as a colossal sandbox in which they exist?
For Busiek, who earned multiple Eisner and Harvey Awards for his work on Astro City, this television opportunity arrives on the back of a prolific comic book career that started in the early-1980s on Green Lantern, leading to runs on Power Man and Iron Fist, later creating the supervillains-as-heroes group title, Thunderbolts and heroes-for-hire group The Power Company, along with titles such as The Liberty Project, Arrowsmith, Shockrockets, Superstar: As Seen on TV, The Wizard’s Tale, Jonny Demon and Ransom. In 2014, Busiek and artist Benjamin Dewey launched The Autumnlands with Image Comics, a fantasy story containing elements of Game of Thrones with some Jack Kirby influences.
We’ll be sure to update you on the developments of the Astro City TV series as they occur.
Frank Miller will revisit one of his Dark Knight Returns characters with a Robin story about Carrie Kelley.
If the words "Frank Miller" and "young readers" don't seem like they belong in the same sentence to you, well, imagine how I feel. I just wrote it. But it's true.
Frank Miller has just signed a five-project deal with DC Comics, and one of them is a Robin graphic novel focusing on Carrie Kelley, the young woman who took over the Robin mantle in Miller's decidedly not for young readers The Dark Knight Returns. In that comic, Ms. Kelley is a resourceful young woman inspired by Batman's return to go out and fight crime on her own, and she proves resourceful enough to land the Robin job full time. She's a great character who has continued to appear in Miller's Dark Knight sequels, but I generally try and pretend the story ended with the conclusion of DKR.
“Frank is a creative force in this industry, not just with a transformative take on iconic characters like Superman and Batman, but also by tackling the young reader genre,” says DC Publisher Dan DiDio in a statement. “He is an icon. As a publisher, I’m thrilled—as a fan, I’m even more excited.”
“Frank Miller is an absolute visionary,” adds DC Publisher Jim Lee. “He continues to push the boundaries of storytelling, and I can’t wait for a new generation of fans to meet Carrie Kelley. Joining Frank as collaborator on Carrie Kelley is one of my favorite artists--Ben Caldwell, a singular talent who brings his stylized, clean line and rock solid, playful storytelling to this project. We couldn’t ask for a better creative team.”
“I am psyched to continue my partnership with DC,” explains Miller. “Developing the Carrie Kelley project and Superman: Year One with Dan and Jim has been a dream. It’s thrilling to have Carrie Kelley take center stage for the first time, and the energy that Ben is bringing to her is new and different—it’s incredible to see.”
Check out Ben Caldwell's art for the project...
Of the other five projects, one is the previously announced Superman: Year One (with John Romita, Jr.) and the other three haven't been revealed. No word yet on when we'll see the currently untitled Carrie Kelley Robin graphic novel, but I'll update this when new information becomes available.
The Birds of Prey creative team is going to pit Oliver Queen against Amanda Waller in Green Arrow this summer.
Since DC kicked off Rebirth in 2016, one of its constants has been Ben Percy writing Green Arrow. Arguably the best creative run on the character in a decade or more, Green Arrow has been a consistent highlight of DC's output for the last two years. But DC continues to shake up its creative teams this summer, and that goes for Green Arrow, too.
In this case, they're bringing in Julie and Shawna Benson (you may recognize their names from The 100, a show we love, as well as Batgirl and the Birds of Prey) as co-writers on the title, and they'll first jump into Oliver Queen's world with Green Arrow Annual #2 in May. Then they'll take over as regular writers with Green Arrow #43 later that summer. Sadly, this means Batgirl and the Birds of Prey will come to an end in May, but something tells me there are more plans for Batgirl, Huntress, and Black Canary. For starters, we'll be seeing more of Canary in the pages of Green Arrow.
“As we mourn the loss of our beloved Birds, hope in the form of an arrow has struck us through the heart with the opportunity to take on Oliver Queen,” said Julie Benson and Shawna Benson in a statement. “Ollie's made a few appearances alongside the Birds since we began writing at DC with Rebirth, and we can't wait to continue making our mark on the 77-year old marksman this summer. And we won't be leaving our ladies behind! Black Canary, aka Ollie's 'Pretty Bird,' will continue to star in Green Arrow.”
“We're both humbled and flabbergasted,” continued the pair, “to follow in the footsteps of comic greats like Mort Weisinger, Denny O'Neil, Mike Grell, Kevin Smith, Brad Meltzer, Jeff Lemire, Ann Nocenti, and of course, Ben Percy. We're honored to be included in their ranks and proud of DC for seeing our strength and for moving us over to Green Arrow. Joining us in August is the amazingly talented Javier Fernández on interiors and the masterful Alex Maleev on cover art.”
Here's the official synopsis for Green Arrow Annual #2.
Entitled rich-boy Oliver Queen grew up a member of elite society. But after a drunken escapade left him stranded on a deserted island, Oliver learned to survive and become more than a man—he became a hunter. He became a survivor. But when Green Arrow comes face-to-face with a challenge he never saw coming, his entire worldview—his reason for being a hero—comes into question. Because that challenge has a name: Amanda Waller!
Check out the gallery of preview art, which looks great...and strangely seems to include an appearance from Brainiac's skull ship, so that's quite a surprise.
Green Arrow Annual #2 arrives on May 30 with art by Carmen Carnero and a cover by David Lopez. Green Arrow #43 by Julie Benson and Shawna Benson and Javier Fernández arrives in August.
DC unveiled some big Justice League plans at WonderCon, and they include plenty of John Constantine and...Darkseid?
The DC Comics panel that kicked off Saturday (March 24) at WonderCon in Anaheim, California dazzled fans with a few genuinely surprising announcements, which DC -- currently on a hot streak -- seems to have cornered the market on at this particular con.
Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee brought out writer Scott Snyder to unveil the large-scale plans for Justice League, which will start unfolding in the months ahead after the finale of Dark Nights: Metal hits the streets next week. The biggest revelation was that following the four-issue May miniseries Justice League: No Justice, DC will roll out a brand new iteration of Justice League Dark.
Writer James Tynion IV (Detective Comics) and artist Alvaro Martinez will steer the series, which will introduce a new team led by Wonder Woman, and featuring Constantine, Zatanna, Detective Chimp, Swamp Thing, and Man-Bat. Some of those folks -- like Constantine, Zatanna, and Swamp Thing -- are veterans from the New 52 reboot of the concept, while Man-Bat, Detective Chimp, and of course Diana are the newer members of DC’s gang of powerful magic users.
The other title spinning off from the Justice League: No Justice arc will be Justice League: Odyssey, a spacebound adventure that Snyder jokingly said he wanted to call Justice League: WTF (he was overruled on that). The reason? Because none other than DC uber-villain Darkseid will be joining the team for this one, which also includes Green Lantern Jessica Cruz, Cyborg, Starfire and Azrael.
Calling Darkseid the team’s “Hannibal Lecter,” Snyder explained, “They are dealing with an epic plot that has to do with his father, the Source Wall, and whole new areas that have opened up in space,” adding that the team flies around in an old Brainiac head “with flames painted on it.”
Justice League Odyssey will be written by Joshua Williamson, with art by Stjepan Sejic. Both Odyssey and Justice League Dark are scheduled to launch in June.
Williamson and Tynion are both co-writing No Justice with Snyder, with art by Francis Manapul. The team will face off against the Legion of Doom and will be based out of the Hall of Justice instead of the orbiting Watchtower. Inside the Hall will be portals that lead to the bases of the Dark and Odyssey teams.
Snyder said that the new Justice League book will launch “a whole new mission,” as well as a “whole new thesis and ideology" for the legendary DC superhero team.
How might The Walking Dead season 8 end? Here's how Rick might defeat Negan based on the comics!
This Walking Dead article contains spoilers.
It's been a rough season for Rick and his coalition. The plan to oust the Saviors has gone spectacularly awry and lives have been lost in the process (R.I.P. Eric, Shiva, and Carl Grimes). The Saviors have taken the battle to Rick's front door and virtually destroyed Alexandria.
If this season of The Walking Dead were Star Wars, "How It's Gotta Be" is for sure The Empire Strikes Back. Still, when we read the Walking Dead tealeaves, otherwise known as Robert Kirkman's original comic series, there is some hope on the horizon.
Dark times are certainly ahead for Rick and friendsnand with them will come more death. But if The Walking Dead comics are any indication, a decisive victory for Alexandria/Hilltop/Kingdom is right around the corner. And shortly after that, something that the survivors of this story have not experienced in a long time: peace.
What follows is a breakdown of what we can likely expect from The Walking Dead season 8's second half based on the comic source material. Since Scott Gimple's elevation to Walking Dead showrunner, the show has followed the comics fairly closely, with only a few notable exceptions (Eugene, what has gotten into you?).
If everything goes according to plan, The Walking Dead season 8.5 is likely to adapt Volume 21 of the comics, "All Out War - Part Two," which covers issues #121-126.
And if only 6 issues seems like a small number for 8 hour-long episodes of TV, congratulations, you just diagnosed all the current problems with the show. But we digress. Here is your helpful (and again: INCREDIBLY SPOILER-FILLED) guide for what's to come on The Walking Dead.
He Who Controls the Bullets…
Eugene Porter is the aspect of The Walking Deadshow that has diverged the most from the comic. In the books, Eugene may be a coward but he is also Rick's man through and through.
The show presents a more three-dimensional view of Eugene or maybe just a more realistic one with varying levels of success. Regardless, the changes in Eugene's character beg some questions as to how the second half of the season is going to deal with certain plotlines.
Namely: who is Eugene going to make bullets for? Eugene really comes into his own after his buddy Abraham's death in the Walking Dead comic universe. By the time "All Out War" rolls around, Eugene realizes that it's time to put his intellect to good use and start manufacturing bullets for Alexandria.
Eugene has already filled this role within the show's universe, making bullets for the survivors before defecting to the Saviors. Now that the Saviors have cleared out the Walkers surrounding the Sanctuary and there appears to be a greater need for ammunition, expect Eugene back at the factory cranking out munitions.
One concept that The Walking Dead season 8 has stealthily introduced from the comics is the inherent danger of rotting guts. It turns out that covering oneself in the decaying flesh and viscera of long-dead zombies may not be the healthiest choice as Father Gabriel tragically finds out.
In the comics, Negan makes a similar discovery but in a much safer way. As the Saviors prepare for their assault on the Hilltop, Negan introduces them to a new strategy they will use to win the war. They will coat their weapons in walker guts so when they pierce their enemies' flesh, the victim will become infected and die.
Negan and company put this into practice when the Saviors storm the Hilltop. Negan has one of his snipers shoot and kill the guard Kal and then they breach the gates and attack the citizens. The survivors are able to repel the Saviors back but not before some of the survivors are struck with the contaminated weapons.
Nicholas, who was still alive at this point in the comics, develops a mysterious fever that mystifies the Hilltop doctor, Harlan (currently taken hostage by the Saviors in the show), because it is from a normal wound. Nicholas' condition eventually worsens and he dies, leading Harlan to recognize the biological warfare strategy the Saviors have employed. This naturally freaks out the survivors as Rick has been struck in the side by a crossbow bolt from Dwight. When Rick doesn't develop a fever, however, he realizes that Dwight is fully and truly on their side.
The Walking Deadshow will almost certainly adapt the Savior assault on the Hilltop and their contanimated weapon strategy. For one, there is nowhere else for the Saviors to attack now that Alexandria is off the map and all the survivors are slowly gathering at the Hilltop. There's also the matter of Maggie's Savior prisoners. She's finally decided to execute one and send his corpse back to the Saviors, which will undoubtedly cause a visit from Simon.
Since Nicholas isn't around to become a casualty however, look for another Alexandrian to bite the dust. Smart money is on Tobin since his comic book counterpart is already long gone.
In the comic, Negan assumes that Rick is dead because he was struck by one of Dwight's contaminated bolts. So after letting the Hilltop chill for a couple of days, he returns and demands to speak with their newly elected leader. He's astonished to see Rick emerge from the Hilltop gates. The Sheriff tells the villain that it's time for a long, overdue chat.
Rick basically asks, "Wtf dude." Negan calls himself a Savior, yet they're at war. Negan explains his rationale for all the violence, saying that everything he's done has been in the interest of survival. This is a harsh world and it needs a harsh man to lead the survivors into a new age.
Rick says that those harsh days are gone and they can all survive together now, establish fair trade routes, and end the violence once and for all. Rick's argument is a convincing one and Negan concedes that maybe he's been going about this wrong the whole time. Maybe Rick's way is the right way.
"Good," Rick responds and slashes Negan's throat.
Bu...bu...but why is the first episode of season 8 called "Mercy?" Why have we been treated to extended Siddiq monologues about the concept of forgiveness and mercy? Because after Rick attacks Negan, the villain hits back and violently breaks Rick's leg before passing out. Despite his mangled leg, Rick insists that the Hilltop doctor, Harlan, treat Negan and keep him alive.
This is a new world under Rick and the new world means we don't simply kill our foes. Rick wants Negan alive so that he can be imprisoned for his crimes against humanity. Rick gets his way, as Negan is saved and is locked away in the bowels of a rebuilt Alexandria.
Improbably, this all kind of works in the comic. Negan's about-face may seem sudden and silly but the character as fleshed out by Kirkman really does seem to believe in survival above all else. The issue that the show will have to confront in the season 8 finale is: can this version of Negan be redeemed?
By the time the season 8 finale rolls around, Negan will have been around as the big bad for a whopping 32 episodes. He's killed some of our favorite characters, he keeps a harem of unwilling-to-semi-willing women as wives. He clearly relishes his role as the big bad wolf. Not only that but Rick has solemnly sworn on no fewer than three occassions that he will one day kill him.
Is there a possible way that the show can have both Negan AND Rick change their minds simultaneously at the climactic moment? We shall see. Perhaps Carl's death in the show universe is the motivating agent of change for both characters.
Old Man Rick
That leaves one bit of business to be resolved. What was with those weird flash-forwards of a silver-haired Rick living in a peaceful future? In season 8 of The Walking Dead, it initially wasn't clear whether that was a flash-forward or a fantasy sequence? Considering that Carl appears in the sequence, it seems as though it was merely a Rick Grimes fever dream.
In the comics, however, it's no fantasy. There really is a more peaceful time on the horizon. The war against Negan and the Saviors ends in issue 126. Issue 127 begins two years later with a handful of different survivors out in the wilderness about to be killed by a herd of walkers. They're rescued at the last minute by a now longer-haired and even sexier Jesus.
Jesus takes the new characters to safety in Alexandria, which is completely rebuilt and has become a beautiful, idyllic post-apocalyptic community. There are mills, actual streets, and workers working on new buildings constantly. In fact all of the communities are planning on holding a big fair at Alexandria so all the survivors can get together and party.
When the new survivors are taken to meet Alexandria's leader, we get our first glimpse at what we can lovingly call Old Man Rick. Rick has cut his shaggy hair down to a graying buzzcut. He wears a prosthetic on his missing hand (which is not part of the TV show currently), and he needs a cane to walk around as the leg that Negan broke never healed properly.
Obviously, the happiness isn't quite there to stay. There are approximately 50 issues of the comic after 127 (so far) and they certainly aren't just about how happy everyone is all the time. But the two-year time jump into an era of peace for Alexandria, the Hilltop, the Kingdom, and even the Sanctuary represents the biggest collective exhale for these characters yet.
Let's hope The Walking Dead show affords its characters the same privilege. These people need a break.
As Marvel gets closer to Avengers: Infinity War, here are some different takes on Thanos' epic story, from video games to alternate history.
In just over a month, the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be hitting us with Avengers: Infinity War, where they’re going to tangle with Thanos the Mad Titan. Since showing up at the end of the first Avengersmovie, it’s been pretty apparent that Thanos would be scouring the cosmos for the Infinity Gems/Stones so as to do an adaptation of the hit early 90s miniseries Infinity Gauntlet.
The comic has become rather iconic in Marvel history and it makes sense that they’d spend the better part of a decade building towards it. Although, don't expect it to resemble the original comic too closely. Not only are there plenty of liberties to be had, but it also seems to take a lot from the more recent comic event Infinity. Not that that's a bad thing. Infinity Gauntlet is a storyline that’s been retold, adapted, and twisted in all sorts of ways since first appearing 27 years ago.
Here are all the different variations of Thanos and Adam's Excellent Adventure.
INFINITY GAUNTLET (1991)
We’re going full spoiler on this.
As a follow-up to the two-part story Thanos Quest, the Mad Titan Thanos has control of all six Infinity Gems and is essentially God. Mephisto hangs around to feed his ego, while naturally plotting to overthrow him. Thanos also has his granddaughter Nebula hanging around, stuck in a catatonic zombie state because Thanos is a jerk. Since Thanos wants to win the love of Death herself, he uses the Gauntlet to wipe out half of the universe. 50% of all living things simply vanish, including a big chunk of the superheroes. Adam Warlock is reborn and goes to the remaining heroes, coming up with this awesome plan of going to Thanos’ space home and punching him in his stupid scrotum face. This is really a swerve because he plans to have them all killed off as a distraction so Silver Surfer can sneak by and steal the Gauntlet off Thanos’ hand.
Meanwhile, Thanos’ whims have caused Earth to drift away from the sun, making it colder and colder by the hour. Odin and all the other heavyweight god types on Earth are blocked off from interfering. As a way of making Death jealous, Thanos uses the Gauntlet to create a mate in Terraxia.
Mephisto suggests that Thanos hold back against the heroes to impress Death, so he scales it back a lot, which gives the heroes a 1% chance. As hard as they try, they still lose horribly and are killed one-by-one by Thanos and Terraxia. After Captain America goes full-on badass and stares down Thanos despite everything, Silver Surfer flies in and misses his mark completely. About then, all the galactic heavy hitters – the tapestry of the universe itself – show up. Thanos goes back to full power and makes mincemeat of them all. He transforms himself into a form that’s one with the universe, which leaves his physical Gauntlet out in the open. Nebula takes it and steals the power, reverting everything to how it once was...except for the part where she still has all the power.
Thanos teams up with Warlock and a couple of the more powerful heroes, ultimately defeating Nebula when Warlock takes control of the Soul Gem and shorts it out a bit, causing Nebula to drop the Gauntlet. A fight breaks out and Warlock comes out wielding the Infinity Gauntlet, swearing to use it wisely. Thanos fakes his own death, but is later seen living a quiet life as a farmer.
So that’s Infinity Gauntlet Prime. Let’s see how other writers and mediums have messed around with the formula.
WHAT IF THANOS CHANGED GALACTUS INTO A HUMAN BEING? (1992)
What If #34 was a humor-based issue of the series and while most of it is painfully unfunny, the opening seven-page short story is humorous and even a little bit uplifting in its own weird way. No joke, this is actually my all-time favorite comic book story.
As Thanos fights the cosmic entities, he decides to get creative when dispatching Galactus. He transforms him into a human being and sends him down to Earth. Galactus awakens naked in a trailer park, forgetting who he is while being a 100% facsimile of Elvis Presley! A single mother named Gertrude takes him in and thinks he’s the real deal with amnesia. She explains everything about Elvis to him and while he still has no memory, he trusts her and decides that he is indeed the King. He swears to do good with this second chance by not getting involved with the pitfalls of fame, such as drugs.
Also, the comic features the million dollar line, “Ma’am, the hunger gnaws.”
Galactus gets back into music, trying to stay on the down low, but soon people take notice and we’re about to get the second coming of Elvismania. Right as he’s about to see to the public, Galactus is confronted by Adam Warlock, now in possession of the Infinity Gauntlet. He wills Galactus his memory, but the Eater of Worlds doesn’t want to return. He’s found a better identity as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll and chooses to stay with Gertrude and her son, giving both Galactus and Elvis Presley’s legacy a second chance.
WHAT THE--?! #24 (1992)
Marvel’s lesser-known humor book from the early 90s once featured a Mad Magazine-style spoof of Infinity Gauntlet called “The Infinity Mitten.” Thermos and his advisor McFisto go on a double-date with Death and Taxes, but Thermos is disappointed that Death has no interest in him. Using the Mitten, he removes half of life in the universe...except on the first try he accidentally just removes everyone’s lower half. Earth’s heroes go after him, but brute force isn’t enough. After talking over various ideas to remove the Infinity Mitten, they go with challenging Thermos to strip poker. They all lose and die of embarrassment.
The cosmic beings show up to throwdown, but Thermos points out that he’s an atheist and they all vanish. Silver Surfer (or whatever his parody name is) starts whining about all the death he’s seen, causing Adam Warlox to finally snap at him for being such a downer. Warlox shoots him with a revolver, which Thermos steals and uses on Warlox and McFisto.
Thinking that killing off an entire universe of heroes and villains is enough, Thermos is shocked to see that Death is now dating Nintendo's Mario. Death explains that her new boyfriend is killing off the entire comics industry by himself!
WHAT IF THE SILVER SURFER POSSESSED THE INFINITY GAUNTLET? (1993)
I absolutely love this issue and would have liked a variation of this as the actual ending of Infinity Gauntletinstead of what we got. Surfer succeeds in snatching the Gauntlet from Thanos’ hands. First thing he does is set everything back to normal. Then he sends everyone back home except Warlock and Thanos, who he keeps as advisors...but really as witnesses as he makes the universe a better place. He starts off with the well-meaning moves you’d expect. He eliminates disease, hunger, soothes hatred (a Kree and a Skrull are shown greeting each other happily), and even makes Death into a more alluring figure instead of something to be feared. Then he goes to Hell to see if Mephisto would be cool being remade into something a bit more pleasant, but Mephisto instead starts a fight. Surfer vaporizes him and goes back to his home to think about stuff.
Warlock and Thanos go to Dr. Strange because, boy howdy, Surfer’s going nuts with all that power. Strange figures the best way about this is to summon Surfer’s old flame Shalla-Bal to talk some sense into him, especially since Surfer’s thinking of removing randomness completely and giving the universe complete order. Arguments and fighting happen, but seeing Shalla-Bal so hurt brings Surfer back to sanity. He uses the Infinity Gauntlet’s power to destroy itself – and seemingly he and Shalla-Bal with it – but we discover that the two of them are secretly alone on a paradise planet of their creation to live the rest of their lives in secret.
As everything returns to normal, Thanos stands alone, holding up the scrapped remains of the Gauntlet. With a smirk, he says, “So close. Oh, yes... So very close.”
MARVEL SUPER HEROES (1995)
In a follow-up to X-Men: Children of the Atom, Capcom released a one-on-one fighting game called Marvel Super Heroes, which is loosely based on Infinity Gauntlet. In it, you control a hero or villain as you gather the Infinity Gems from your opponents, working your way to fighting Dr. Doom and then Thanos. Upon meeting him, Thanos will steal your Gems and complete the Infinity Gauntlet before the final battle. While there isn’t much story in the game, it definitely stays loyal to the comic in ways. For instance, Thanos’ battleground is his base from Infinity Gauntlet, where you can see the likes of Thor, Nova, Drax, Scarlet Witch, and She-Hulk frozen in stone as Mephisto and Death idle in the background.
The game is kicking rad if you haven’t played it, letting you unleash the power of the various Gems in battle, each giving you a different ability. The console version includes playable versions of the bosses, as well as Anita, the emotionless little girl from Capcom’s Darkstalkersseries.
Here are the various endings based on the different characters defeating Thanos:
Anita: Simply uses the Gems to free the heroes from their statue forms. Nothing else.
Blackheart: Is asked to hand it over from his father Mephisto, but Blackheart turns on him and chooses to rule reality.
Captain America: Reverts the heroes to normal. Then pals around with Thor and throws the Infinity Gems into a black hole so nobody can use them.
Dr. Doom: Bitches out Thanos and rules the Earth with the Infinity Gauntlet. Yeah, they don’t get very fancy with this one.
Hulk: Reverts the heroes to normal. Thanos wants to die, but Hulk leaves him begging. Hulk goes on a second honeymoon to Vegas with Betty, but he chooses to get there by leaping with Betty holding on for dear life.
Iron Man: Reverts the heroes to normal. Considers using the Gauntlet, but then refuses. Later, he’s bummed to discover that his nervous system problems are gone. He selfishly used the power after all. Cap tells him not to worry about it.
Juggernaut: Is ready to grab the Infinity Gauntlet and get his vengeance on Xavier. Suddenly, Adam Warlock pops in to take it away, thanking Juggernaut for saving reality and then sending him back to Earth. I hate Adam Warlock.
Magneto: Creates a second moon around Earth and makes it a permanent home for mutants, finally separating himself from the humans. He is the eternal ruler of New Avalon.
Psylocke: Reverts the heroes to normal. She returns to the mansion, thinking about how she has experienced being molded to the will of others before and would never, ever do that to another person.
Shuma-Gorath: Absorbs the power of the Infinity Gems and grows in size, allowing it to feast upon reality itself.
Spider-Man: Reverts the heroes to normal. Goes home to Mary Jane to find out that he’s going to be a father. This is a lot less uplifting when you remember that this game was released during Clone Saga. Ugh.
Thanos: Has two separate endings. Either he chooses to become one with the cosmos as the true ruler of the universe, or he gives up the power and lives on as a farmer.
Wolverine: Reverts the heroes to normal. He realizes that he could use the power to find out about his past, but refuses. Instead, he leaves the X-Men to find the answers himself.
Thanos would return in Marvel vs. Capcom 2, still with the Infinity Gauntlet, but the game lacks anything resembling a coherent storyline. Then in Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, the Gauntlet is treated as a red herring as Thanos is more interested in fashioning Ryu's dark energies into a Satsui No Hado Gauntlet so he can kill (or at least hurt) Death.
MARVEL SUPER HEROES: WAR OF THE GEMS (1996)
You would think that this would just be a lesser incarnation of the one-on-one fighter I just talked about, but no. This Capcom release is more of a sequel to the side-scroller beat ‘em up X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse. In it, you play through with your choice of Hulk, Captain America, Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Iron Man. Coincidentally, Iron Man’s select portrait is just a picture of his sprite from the arcade game. Go figure.
The game is one big mishmash of both Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity War, which makes sense, considering Infinity Gauntlet wasn’t really filled to the brim with villains to fight. Here, you get to fight evil doppelganger clones of various heroes, like Hawkeye, Vision, Sasquatch, Iron Man, etc. At first you search for the various Infinity Gems, trying to stop the likes of Magus and Dr. Doom from getting their hands on them, but Thanos gets the last one. After going through Nebula, you face Thanos and...well, it doesn’t really have the same dire sense of danger when he isn’t at full godhood. At least in the arcade game, he’s got all six Gems. Here, he has one against your five. That’s hardly impressive.
I guess Thanos has the Reality Gem because literally all he does is cause fire to burst from the ground and summon a closing stone wall. That’s it. He’s slow as molasses and his death throes feel like they take an hour.
Afterwards, Adam Warlock takes all the Gems for himself and sends everyone home. Feeling the need to give this epilogue some filler, they ask if Earth will ever truly be safe. When all your enemies move like snails, Earth isn't in that much danger, I suppose.
WHAT IF THE IMPOSSIBLE MAN OBTAINED THE INFINITY GAUNTLET? (1998)
So you know that part where Silver Surfer tries to swipe Thanos’ Gauntlet? It almost works in the sense that he removes the glove, but he fumbles and drops it. It’s then grabbed by none other than the annoying shape-shifter of the cosmos, the Impossible Man! Although Thanos is no threat to him, he does basically pee himself once all the cosmic beings show up. He escapes with Surfer and points out that he’s totally capable of handling the burden of wielding the Infinity Gauntlet. To prove his point, he brings Surfer to Zenn-La, his lost home planet. He’s reunited with Shalla-Bal and all should be good, but Surfer can’t help but feel that things aren’t quite right.
He’s summoned by Galactus because although Impossible Man’s claimed to be about using the Gauntlet justly, he’s in the middle of exacting revenge on Galactus for eating his home world of Poppup way back when. Surfer fights him and loses, but convinces him to do the right thing by pointing out that he can just rebuild Poppup and return all its people. Galactus agrees to help, but due to plot device BS, Poppup can only be created at the expense of the fake Zenn-La. Surfer ultimately goes along with it because while he can never accept his fake world as real, Impossible Man is too oblivious and simple-minded to really question his.
Poppup is reborn, the Poppupian race is reborn, and Impossible Man gives up his power to the Elders of the Universe. Everything seems fine, but then Surfer realizes that the Poppupians are all purple and green versions of heroes and villains, fighting it out like a bunch of goofs. He looks on in horror while a purple and green Forbush Man waves at the reader from behind his back.
WHAT IF: NEWER FANTASTIC FOUR (2009)
A little backstory on this one. Jeff Parker and Mike Wieringo were working on a What If issue about the New Fantastic Four (Spider-Man, Hulk, Wolverine, and Ghost Rider) remaining as a team. Unfortunately, Wieringo passed away during the making of it, so they had various artists finish the book in his place as a tribute. Even if it wasn’t such a heartwarming sentiment, What If This was the Fantastic Four? is an excellent comic to read.
This is the sequel, which asks what would happen if Infinity Gauntlet happened in a timeline with the New Fantastic Four, except that Ghost Rider is wiped out of existence from Thanos’ power and is replaced by Iron Man. Their first meeting with Thanos doesn’t go so well, since Hulk’s attempt to intimidate him with how strong he is in relation to his anger causes Thanos to wipe out a chunk of the Milky Way and state, “And I’m not even angry.” The omnipotent Thanos also separates Hulk and Banner out of curiosity and his desire to show off. During all of this, Wolverine notices how Mephisto is able to steer Thanos around with his words.
Like in regular continuity, Adam Warlock brings up his awesome plan of, “Do what I say and don’t ask questions so you don't know that I’m using your horrible deaths as a diversion,” but this time it doesn’t fly. As Stark puts it, “I don’t [know what I’m doing], but I don’t think he does either.” When they go at Thanos, Wolverine is the only one with a plan. He chooses not to fight Thanos and instead badmouths his partners while talking Thanos into thinking that Mephisto is trying to horn in on Death. Thanos buys this lie and vaporizes Mephisto. Wolverine worms his way into position as Thanos’ new right-hand man and explains to the other Fantastic Four members that he hopes that Thanos will reward his loyalty by forcing Jean Grey to love him.
Thanos continues to effortlessly defeat all challengers, even when Iron Man creates a suit of armor out of a fallen Celestial. Wolverine talks up how Thanos hasn’t even physically touched Death and that love is all about contact. Thanos gets all flustered because it isn’t proper, but Wolverine eggs him on to just touch her face. As the nervous Thanos reaches out to do so, Wolverine chops his arm off with a smiling, “Sucker!” and has successfully cut off his source of power.
Hulk punches Thanos out, Spider-Man uses the Gauntlet to put everything back the way it was, the Gauntlet is given to the Watchers to guard, and Bruce Banner becomes an honorary Watcher. Free from being one with the Hulk, he lives in the Watchers' citadel for the rest of his life, practically bathing in the vast knowledge available to him.
Too bad they didn’t keep going with What If: New Fantastic Four stories. They were only two issues, but they were a lot of fun.
WHAT IF: SECRET WARS (2009)
This one only sort of counts. Thanos only gets one mention, but the story is more of an alternate history companion piece that makes a couple parallel references to the original story. In Secret Wars, Dr. Doom was able to siphon off the powers of Galactus and the Beyonder, making him nigh-omnipotent. In this reality, he keeps the power and fully defeats the heroes. He easily conquers Earth, all while leaving all the heroes alive and using his power to make sure Sue Storm’s pregnancy (which resulted in a miscarriage in regular continuity) is a healthy one. He leaves the world a utopia and flies into space. The thing to take away from this story is that at his heart, Dr. Doom is not a ruler, but a conqueror. That’s why he’s ruled the world no less than three times in regular continuity and always left it behind for the sake of struggle.
His attempt to take over various alien empires is met with resistance, so he wipes out all who oppose him. Then he seeks out even more power by slaying the Elders of the Universe and stealing the Infinity Gems. With the Soul Gem, he enters Hell, frees his mother, and kills Mephisto (which he says would only be temporary, since he’s the Devil and all). Next on the agenda is taking out the only beings higher than him on the food chain: the Celestials. The fight lasts 407 years (!) and in the end, Doom is supreme, albeit with the Infinity Gems destroyed.
During the battle, a shockwave knocked Earth out of orbit, much like in Infinity Gauntlet. Doom sees that life will eventually come to an end. Without a second thought, he uses the remainder of his cosmic power to set the Earth back in place and save the planet. The final scene shows, fittingly enough, that he’s become a farmer, freely appearing with no faceplate. He no longer feels ashamed of his scars and plans to rebuild his rule from the ground up, fully understanding the true potential of mankind.
Personally one of my favorite Dr. Doom stories.
SUPER HERO SQUAD SHOW SEASON 2 (2010)
The wacky cartoon series based on the toys with the creepy smiles is a fun enough diversion. The second season of the show is all about the Infinity Gauntlet with the first half of it being based on Thanos’ quest to get all the Gems. Thanos is voiced by Jim Cummings, meaning he sounds like pretty much every Jim Cummings voice you’ve ever heard. Interesting thing here is that Thanos has Nebula captive and he refers to her as his sister. So if you’re keeping score, she’s his granddaughter in the comics, daughter in the movies, and sister in the cartoon.
The whole Death concept is forgotten about here and Thanos is purely out for galactic power for the sake of being an evil overlord with galactic power. In the episode “Fate of Destiny,” he gets the full set of Gems and the Super Hero Squad goes on the attack. They are soundly defeated (mostly thanks to Thanos’ reality-warping catchphrase, “DO OVER!”), as are Dr. Doom and his underlings. Thanos is then challenged by the Silver Surfer, who is wielding the Infinity Sword, the ultimate weapon of the first season’s finale. Thanos challenges him to a winner-take-all fight, which Surfer accepts. When they shake on it, Surfer pulls off Thanos’ glove.
Unfortunately, the Infinity Sword has been slowly corrupting Surfer over time, so having the Infinity Sword AND the Infinity Gauntlet drives him over the edge. He sends his former teammates spiraling through the multiverse, giving us children’s cartoon adaptations of 1602and Planet Hulk. Also, he knocks Earth out of orbit, making it increasingly cold. For the remainder of the series, he’s the main villain.
In the finale, “The Final Battle! (‘Nuff Said!)” The Dark Surfer is challenged by the team of Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Hulk, Wolverine, Falcon, and Thor. Surfer chooses to split himself into six beings for his own amusement. Each Surfer is powered by a separate Gem, but the heroes have figured that each one is capable of countering a specific Surfer based on their own abilities/personalities. For instance, the Mind Gem has little effect on Hulk and Wolverine’s surliness is able to overpower the Soul Gem. With the help of Ronan the Accuser, they defeat Silver Surfer and get all the Gems together.
It’s not over until they find where he hid the Infinity Sword, leading to a final battle between Iron Man and Dr. Doom, where they accidentally destroy both the Sword and the Gems. The resulting explosion fixes the universe, including Earth, and all is well. Surfer’s back to his senses and willingly accepts his Kree imprisonment. No longer able to get his revenge on the Surfer, Thanos decides to go hang out at a chicken farm instead. Cute.
SUPER HERO SQUAD: INFINITY GAUNTLET (2010)
Around the time of the second season’s debut, they released a video game tie-in where you go around fighting enemies with two heroes at a time. In the story, Iron Man and Hulk are picking up some new boots for Thor’s birthday. The boots get mixed up with Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet and wackiness ensues. Eventually, Thanos gets all the Gems. The duo of Iron Man and Scarlet Witch are able to defeat him, but then Silver Surfer swoops in to steal the Infinity Gauntlet. Corrupted by its power immediately, he does away with Galactus and, like in the cartoon, splits into six versions of himself. While Spider-Man sits this one out, the other twelve heroes pair up and fight the various Surfers one-by-one.
Once defeated, Surfer comes to his senses. He and Iron Man throw the Infinity Gems and Infinity Sword into a rift in reality, taking care of that problem. Meanwhile, all the villains are busy fighting each other. Iron Man figures to just let that sort itself out. The heroes celebrate Thor’s birthday, but it turns out his boots have been enchanted by Loki to make Thor dance for an eternity. Iron Man and Hulk search for the receipt so they can return it.
AVENGERS AND THE INFINITY GAUNTLET (2010)
This out-of-continuity story is a reimagining of Infinity Gauntlet as an all-ages comedy book. With the ultimate power of the Gauntlet, Thanos wipes out half of life in the universe for the sake of seeing chaos reign and the survivors destroy each other. The remaining heroes only know the where of the threat’s source and not the who or what. Sue Storm puts together a team of Ms. Marvel, Hulk, Wolverine, and Spider-Man. Dr. Doom bursts into the room and after a fight where he takes down everyone on his own, Doom offers to join the team. Their transport is US-Ace, the star of the forgotten 80s comic US-1.
The real treasure of this miniseries is watching Dr. Doom interact with the uncouth US-Ace. Especially when they visit the space trucker’s parents, who run a space diner. Ace’s mother bullies Doom into making everyone sandwiches, which is amazing.
Once they come across Thanos near the end of the third issue, they all get thrashed. He’s only stopped thanks to US-Ace driving his space truck into him thanks to his truckopathic link (Doom grumbles, “Oh Lord, he has a name for it...”). The act knocks off the Gauntlet and while Doom eventually gets his hands on it, it doesn’t work. Turns out he’s a perfect Doombot created by Doom to be released into the world if he were to ever go missing for whatever reason, such as, say, half of the universe's population magically vanishing into thin air. Spider-Man stops Thanos from getting the Gauntlet back on his hand and then uses its power to wish for a universe where Thanos never had the Gems in the first place.
Spider-Man ends up back on Earth where he’s the only one who remembers the entire adventure. He isn’t too broken up about it, but he wishes someone else out there would remember what he did. Elsewhere, Thanos plots his eventual revenge by sketching Spider-Man’s head into the ground, then adding an X over it.
I’m just bummed that despite having a million characters in Avengers: Infinity War, we won’t get to hear Dr. Doom sarcastically respond to US-Ace with, “What a colorful turn of phrase. Perhaps you will regale us with more of them over a ‘mess of biscuits’ later.”
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE: SEASON TWO (2015)
Ugh. So, once upon a time, there was this badass Avengers cartoon that people really liked. Then they canceled it and replaced it with Avengers Assemble, which I guess is still a thing. Anyway, much like Super Hero Squad Show, the second season is about Thanos and his quest to acquire the Infinity Gauntlet. By the halfway point, he has it and he loses in an incredibly embarrassing way.
Iron Man has Arsenal, a robot built by his father that can absorb energies and is programmed to protect Tony at all costs. After Thanos imprisons the Avengers with magic rock hands from the ground, Arsenal just walks towards him. Thanos -- with control over time and space and so on -- shoots lasers at him. Iron Man explains that Arsenal is able to absorb such a thing. Knowing this, Thanos' strategy is to SHOOT LASERS HARDER because holy shit. Arsenal yoinks the Gauntlet off Thanos' hand, freeing up the Avengers to beat Thanos into mush.
Then Arsenal becomes Ultron because reasons.
Oh yeah, there was a digital pinball game based on Infinity Gauntlet too, but I have no idea how to even write that up. I watched footage of people playing it and couldn’t make heads or tails of what the hell is even going on.
Gavin Jasper will never not love that Impossible Man/Roddy Piper panel. Follow him on Twitter!
We've got our first look at the new Superman origin story coming from Frank Miller and John Romita Jr.
Frank Miller has signed an exclusive five-project deal with DC Comics. As of this writing, we know what two of them are. One is a young reader focused graphic novel focusing on Carrie Kelley, the young Robin that Miller introduced in the pages of Dark Knight Returns in 1986. The other is the previously announced Superman: Year One, a four issue prestige format limited series with John Romita, Jr. on art.
Here's the official synopsis:
A groundbreaking, definitive treatment of Superman’s classic origin story in honor of his 80th anniversary. This story details new revelations that reframe the Man of Steel’s most famous milestones—from Kal-El’s frantic exile from Krypton, to Clark Kent’s childhood in Kansas, to his inevitable rise to become the most powerful and inspiring superhero of all time.
Superman: Year One is an out-of-continuity exploration of Superman's early years as a standalone effort from Miller and Romita for DC's Black Label prestige imprint. Superman's origin has been retold so many times in the last 20 or 30 years that it's not really clear why this one is necessary, other than to give two top-tier creators a chance to give it the Black Label treatment for the character's 80th anniversary. Frank Miller isn't exactly known for treating Superman particularly well in the pages of his Batman stories, so to see words like "most powerful and inspiring superhero of all time" is a nice change of pace.
And if the innocence and wonder on disaply in these preview pages by John Romita, Jr are anything to go by, maybe we'll be surprised.
The first issue of Superman: Year One arrives in August 2018.
Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman search for Steve Trevor in Skartaris in the latest issue of Trinity.
Two things I want to bring up about these preview pages of Trinity #20 that DC sent over.
First is artist Jack Herbert. He's a Brazilian artist who got his start bouncing around Dynamite for a while before getting picked up at DC. Dynamite has a bit of a house style (in that they like their licensed properties to look like what they licensed it from, rubbery figures be damned). Herbert's art here is decidedly not that. It's smartly paced, and interesting to look at for the whole page, with expressive faces and really cool lighting, especially on Deimos in those early pages.
The second thing I wanted to talk about is Deimos' costume. I recognize that it's a classic look, designed by Mike Grell back when Warlord of Skartaris had his own regular book and wasn't just a neat guest character for JLU. And I recognize that he's very much a product of his time, being invented in 1975. However. HOLY CRAP this costume is ridiculous. If a new artist put this outfit on a woman character he just designed for a new comic, his editor would go ballistic. Deimos's outfit is basically costume code for "please direct your attention to my genitals and chest," and I'll be frank: I don't wanna.
The top is absurd: a giant, 70s mystic collar attached to some kind of slutty, open-abbed waistcoat, while on the bottom Deimos is sporting a diaper that's vomiting fabric out the front. And to top it all off: pixie boots.
What the hell, Mike Grell?
Anyway, we do have a preview of Trinity #20, the first story in "The Search for Steve Trevor." Hopefully by the end of the arc, Deimos has figured out some way to enchant himself some pants. Here's what DC has to say about the issue:
TRINITY #20 Written by JAMES ROBINSON • Art by JACK HERBERT • Cover by GUILLEM MARCH • Variant cover by BILL SIENKIEWICZ“Man Down” part one! As the Trinity deals with the fallout of the battle for Skartaris, each set out to search for the missing Steve Trevor. But looming on the horizon are the magical armies of Deimos and their plan to lay siege to the entire planet! Deimos’ true goal will bring Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman to their knees!
Check out Herbert's good art!
Ready Player One writer Zak Penn will adapt classic Marvel comic (and toy,) ROM: Spaceknight for Paramount.
ROM, a 1980s Marvel Comics and Parker Bros/Hasbro toy property, has, despite sporadic revivals, managed to miss much of the momentum bestowed by the nostalgia wave. However, that will likely change soon enough, since the attention of the film industry has moved in its direction with plans for a ROM feature film apparently moving forward with the acquisition of highly-sought screenwriter Zak Penn.
Paramount Pictures and Hasbro’s Allspark Pictures have hired Zak Penn to write a screenplay adapting classic story of ROM for a prospective film, reports Deadline. A subsidiary of Hasbro Toys, Allspark handles the company’s multimedia properties such as Transformers, G.I. Joe, My Little Pony, anime Beyblade and even the board game adaptations like the Ouija movies and the 2012 popcorn flick, Battleship. Indeed, ROM will fit in well with fans of the Transformers IP flagship.
The ROM property was launched in 1978 with Parker Brothers’ release of a toy, created by Scott Dankman, Richard C. Levy and Bryan L. McCoy, manifesting as a robotic-looking outer-space-originated action figure – riding the post-Star Wars wave – brandishing lighting and sound effects. Marvel Comics subsequently supplied a substantial backstory with the launch of the 1979 series, ROM: Spaceknight, which featuring writing by Bill Mantlo and art by Sal Buscema (Frank Miller drew the cover of the 1979 premiere issue), became well-regarded amongst comic book connoisseurs.
The story centers on the mission of ROM, an alien from the planet Galador, who, through an experimental procedure, was physically altered into a robotic space knight, armed with an array of weaponry specifically designed to identify and (non-fatally) neutralize a malevolent race of shapeshifting alien magicians, called Dire Wraiths. ROM’s pursuit of the Wraiths spills over to Earth, where some continue to hide. Of course, with ROM: Spaceknight being a Marvel title, the space cyborg’s exploits occasionally got him entangled with other Marvel characters, such as the X-Men, Iron Fist and Luke Cage, and even led to an encounter with Galactus (back on Galador). – The initial series ran until February of 1986, though it would be revived in various forms throughout the years, notably with IDW's relaunch in 2015.
For writer Zak Penn, whose work on director Steven Spielberg’s touted dystopian virtual reality 1980s pop culture love letter movie, Read Player One, hits theaters this week (March 29,) the ROM film project joins a backlog that includes a treatment for the still-hypothetical Suicide Squad 2 and the also still-hypothetical The Karate Kid 2, sequel to the 2010 Jackie Chan/Jaden Smith remake movie. His impressive writing CV includes work on The Avengers, The Incredible Hulk, X-Men 2, X-Men: The Last Stand, Fantastic Four, Elektra, Behind Enemy Lines and The Last Action Hero, with TV work on Syfy’s people-with-powers series Alphas. Additionally, he’s reportedly working on project that revives the Wachowskis’ work on The Matrix franchise.
With the Transformers film franchise looking for fresh new ideas, notably with its Bumblebee solo spinoff, Hasbro seems to be embracing the idea of reviving ROM, not only for exposure to a new generation, but to finally cement the property’s status in the mainstream; something that, even its heyday, was elusive (some would say unjustly).
We’ll be sure to update you on the ROM movie project as things develop.
Legends has progressed pretty totally into its own thing, and that's great.
This Legends of Tomorrow episode review contains spoilers.
Legends of Tomorrow Season 3 Episode 16
When it first started out, Legends of Tomorrow reveled in its ties to DC Comics, delighting in the convoluted backstories of Vandal Savage and the various and sundry Hawkpeople in the cast. That shifted in the second season, from its ties to DC Comics to its ties to the rest of the Arrowverse: the highlights of last season were its villains, each pulled from one of the other DC TV shows.
Season 3 has been different. Aside from a couple of hiccups, it's been the most consistent of the three seasons. And instead of using its ties to the comics or to the rest of the CW TV shows as shorthand to build its plot, season 3 is building its own mythology. That construction process hasn't been without its bumps, but like any well-structured show, it's all paying off as we get close to the end of the season.
This week was a plot-heavy episode - usually when the team gets split in three, we're going to focus a lot on the things that are being done, rather than the people doing them. Anachronisms are popping up everywhere, but Sara, still reeling from her time as the Death Totem wielder last week, decides to step away from leadership of the Legends. She leaves Amaya in charge, but before she can leave the ship, she's cornered by Gary, who pops in worried that Ava's been missing for a bit (since before they broke up, actually). So they head back to the Time Bureau snoop.
Meanwhile, Mari McCabe, present day Vixen, has become part of an anachronism. She lost her powers because Amaya lost her totem to the Darhks, but she didn't lose her desire to be a vigilante. She is injured in a fire, and Nate and Wally head to 2018 Detroit to try and stop her from continuing her vigilante career. There they find Kuasa in the hospital.
Amaya, being left in charge, tasks Zari (fasting for Ramadan) with teaching Mick (definitely not fasting) how to use his new Fire Totem.
The episode is really well paced. The first two stories speed along: we discover that Ava's parents are actors, and she is actually one of thousands of clones (AVA is actually an acronym for Advanced Variant Automaton) from Vancouver in 2213. And then Ava discovers it, and Ava, Ray and Sara kick the hell out of a gaggle of Ava clones. Wally and Nate discover that Kuasa is actually trying to protect Mari and guarantee her existence by "turning on" the Darhks, then double crossing Nate once she has the Anansi totem back, then turning on the Darhks for real to make her grandmother happy with her.
Nate, betrayed by Kuasa, is held and lightly tortured by Damien Darhk until he inadvertently opens up to Nate about his concerns for Nora, who looks like Mallus-infested hell. The third story mostly exists as background filler, a chance to build a relationship between two totem builders and to give us a breather from the blitz of the other two stories.
The biggest character developments from this week are probably Sara and Ava getting back together-ish and figuring out that Rip is hiding Ava's past from them; Amaya deciding at the end of the episode to go back to the 1992 massacre in Zambesi that killed her; Damien Darhk's new concern for his daughter's well being; and Kuasa lampshading her own parentage. It seems like we're heading for a finale where Rip's shadiness eventually pays off and the totem bearers team up against Mallus to reimprison him, but the show injected a tiny bit of doubt into the "Nate's going to go back to 1940s Zambesi" theory, just enough to make me doubt my predictive abilities.
This week wasn't a standout episode, but in a show full of them, it's hard to do. It was, however, a solid, plot-heavy, fun hour.
DC UNIVERSE TIME BUBBLES
-Gary ships Ava and Sara, but what is his ship name for them? Sava? Arra? Probably the former, but if next week's preview is anything to go by, the latter isn't entirely outside the realm of possibility.
-TIME TRAVEL SUCKS UPDATE: Zari is fasting for Ramadan. Ramadan 2018 is in May. Why can we see Gary's breath in Fresno in May 2018? I'm just going to let this whole "Vancouver" thing go.
-Line of the night: it's all in the delivery. Ray's stern "Sara" when she pulls a knife on Ava's fake parents is MINT. Close runner up is Wally's "Get your hands off that hard body."
-Something to keep an eye on: AVACorp says they "created Ava from the best genes from around the world." Whose genes? That's got to be a thing. Also: "We have the best genes."
-Damien Darhk was terrible on Arrow. Why is he so great on Legends? His "Safe Space" bit with Nate is one of the best scenes in this show.
-The "Upswipz is more intuitive going up and down" joke is a great running bit. I feel like many of these writers have similar tastes to mine.
-"This is the second worst attack of the clones I've ever seen." Well played, Ray Palmer.
-I am certain the totem sound effect used tonight is from an old superhero cartoon. I think it's from Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. It's not the star wipe from Superfriends but it sounds a little like that.
-NEXT WEEK: Gorilla Grodd demands to see Obama's college transcripts so he travels through time to check them out. Will he Make America Grodd Again? TOO SOON GUYS.
The Black Hammer Farm-inspired future teens join together to fight authoritarians.
The newest addition to the Black Hammer comics universe is The Quantum Age, where writer Jeff Lemire and artist Wilfredo Torres (Moon Knight, Black Panther) are going to take us a thousand years into the future of the Black Hammer crew to look at a group of teenagers rebelling against their autocratic government.
The Quantum Age follows a young Martian teen as he tries to reform The Quantum League to get back in the game. Joining Torres and Lemire on the book are legendary colorist and notorious Eisner hog Dave Stewart; Nate Piekos, the letterer on Doctor Star and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows. Christian Ward (Ody-C; Ultimates 2) will provide one of the series' variant covers.
The Black Hammer universe kicked off with Lemire and Ormston's Black Hammer, and it was a delight. When Lemire is on, he's untouchable, and he was definitely on from page one of issue one of one of our best comics of 2016. And Ormston has been stunning, capturing the odd loneliness of the Black Hammer Farm crew in a way that perfectly fit Lemire's scripts.
Then we got Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil, a deep dive into the villains of the Black Hammer universe from Lemire and the always excellent David Rubin.
That was followed by Doctor Star and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows from Lemire and Max Fiumara, about a scientist from the Black Hammer universe who invented a fabulous weapon for the military in the '40s, but screwed up his relationship with (and very likely the body of) his son in the process.
I think we can be honest with each other, dear readers. Black Hammer has a very strong Doom Patrol vibe, while Sherlock Frankenstein expanded the villain world and Doctor Star feels a ton like the peak of James Robinson's Starman. The Quantum Age, then, via transitive property, is probably Lemire's take on the Legion of Super Heroes, and I am 100% here for it. If the Black Hammer comics have proven nothing else, it's that Lemire has impeccable taste in DC runs. Fortunately, they've also proven that Lemire has impeccable taste at picking art partners, and a genuine skill at turning pastiche into homage into something delightful and layered and nuanced and smart. If you're not reading these books, start.
For more on the Black Hammer universe, stick with Den of Geek!