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    Atlantis is rising from the depths in Aquaman, but who cares when King Shark is in town, right? Aquaman #35 looks like a blast.

    NewsJim Dandy
    Apr 16, 2018

    Dark Nights: Metal dropped a pretty large bomb in the middle of Dan Abnett's ongoing Aquaman story: Atlantis is about to rise from the ocean. It's one of the many big status quo changes coming out of the first big post-Rebirth crossover, and it promises to not just remake the Aquaman series, but to remake the actual physical face of the DC globe. The information for Aquaman #35 promises that we'll start to see those changes from Metal go into effect here, but who cares about that because in this exclusive preview DC sent over, Aquaman and King Shark team up to take on a necromancer. 

    Kadaver, an Atlantean magician introduced a few months back in the pages of Aquaman and trained at the Silent School, has been transformed into a pile of dead flesh, coral and tentacles. He's also got the ability to turn others into whatever the swimming equivalent of a shambling corpse is. He's matched up against Byss and King Shark, Aquaman's ally and the son of the Shark God, respectively, as the pair and their army/gang fight to free the Ninth Tride (Atlantis's rough part of town) from the usurper King Rath. This is an objectively excellent paragraph to write, and you should be as excited as I am to read the book.

    Here's what DC has to say about it...

    AQUAMAN #35 “KINGSLAYER” part one! After King Rath discovers that Arthur is still alive, he sends Aquaman’s former ally Murk to finish the job—or else be executed as a traitor! Meanwhile, Rath’s new power has a terrifying cost…one that will change Atlantis forever! Plus, the events of DARK NIGHTS: METAL begin to take effect on the sunken city…

    Guys, King Shark is backed up by a dinosaur. Look.

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    The modern version of Guardians of the Galaxy came from meager beginnings and exploded over time. We have a helpful guide for you.

    FeatureGavin Jasper
    Apr 16, 2018

    With the success of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy films, the old question once again arises. Where does someone who likes the movies start with the comics?

    Surprisingly, when it comes to Guardians of the Galaxy comics, the reading path is relatively a point (things get scattershot once Marvel realizes Quill and company are a money factory). There’s a real starting point and you honestly don’t have to go back to the characters’ original issues. Rocket Raccoon’s early adventures are entirely different from how we know him today, Groot didn’t become a loveable scamp until the mid-00s, and the whole starting point of the Guardians as we know them was when Drax got a bit of a reboot.

    If you’re new to comics or don’t know too much about Marvel, remember that there are two different kinds of Guardians of the Galaxy. The originals were heroes from the future (Stallone's crew at the end of the sequel is loosely based on them), but you don’t really need to read those. The link between them and the current Guardians is mentioned here and there, but they’re not worth studying up on. For the Guardians you know and love from the movie, you really don’t have to go that far back. How convenient is that?

    Enjoy this road map to what you need to read to get into Guardians of the Galaxy. I'm trying really hard not to get into spoiler territory, but sometimes that can't be helped. For instance, one of the books is called The Thanos Imperative. That very title is a spoiler.

    Here we go...

    DRAX THE DESTROYER (2005-2006)

    This miniseries is widely considered the moment when Marvel decided to really push the cosmic corner of their universe, which previously had mostly been fodder for stories about how much Jim Starlin loves Thanos. Fittingly, this is a new beginning and it starts with a character that really needed a new coat of paint.

    For years, Drax the Destroyer was considered nothing more than “Space Hulk” because, honestly, that’s all they gave us. There was an interesting backstory buried in there, but at the end of the day, he was a big, green, angry, dumb, super-strong guy dressed in purple. He was basically the Hulk with a hate-on for Thanos.

    This four-issue miniseries works on literally rebuilding the character. Drax is on a prison transport that crashes onto Earth. There, he forms a bond with an antisocial girl named Cammi (think Mandy from Grim Adventures) while fighting off some of the fellow space prisoners. Stuff happens and Drax ends up reborn in a less bulky body and is more about taking people out with his cunning and killing skills than, "DRAX SMASH!"

    Basically, he wasn't the Hulk anymore. He became much more like Riddick. Like, he is so blatantly Vin Diesel, which makes it funny how they did a Guardiansmovie with Vin Diesel playing a completely different role while casting “poor man’s Vin Diesel” as Drax.

    This series is luckily collected in the same books as...

    ANNIHILATION (2006-2007)

    You might as well just save yourself some time by getting the collected editions for this, since it has everything you need to read as well as the Drax the Destroyer miniseries before it. Otherwise, here’s how it works. They did a one-shot called Annihilation: Prologue. In this comic, we get to see a bunch of our players and the initial look at our threat, the Annihilation Wave. Who’s behind it, I won’t spoil in case you don’t know. What I will spoil is that by the end of the first issue, it looks like everyone is screwed.

    From there, we get four four-issue miniseries that take place concurrently against the same threat: Silver Surfer, Nova, Super-Skrull, and Ronan. Yes, Ronan the Accuser, crazy movie villain, is a protagonist. His miniseries introduces Gamora to the Marvel cosmic resurgence while Drax and Cammi show up in Nova’s book.

    Thanos is also a pretty big deal in all of this, even if he isn’t the main villain. We still don’t have the Guardians of the Galaxy yet, but we’re getting many of the core characters. Peter Quill has a supporting role that I totally forgot about, but that’s because he’s a lot different from how we know him these days. Plus the Nova series is the first of many footprints that Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning will leave when it comes to cosmic Marvel.

    Once those four minis end, we get Annihilationproper. There, it’s a big team-up between all the remaining heroes from the different stories. It’s really awesome and you’d be a fool to skip it. Afterwards, there’s a two-issue epilogue called Annihilation: Heralds, which ties up a loose end in the story. It’s a decent read, albeit not essential.

    Read Annihilation Volume 1 on Amazon


    Annihilationdid well enough to get itself a follow-up and we’re led one step closer to Guardians of the Galaxy being a thing. Conquestis essentially the Guardians of the Galaxy origin story. It’s told in the same way as Annihilation, more or less. The prologue shows a new threat completely unrelated to what we got in Annihilation, but on the same level. It’s something that will spread across the universe and destroy all life if not stopped...if it can be stopped. At the center of this is Peter Quill, who blames himself for what's happening.

    Again, we’re given four stories that run concurrently, then funnel into Annihilation: Conquest. The difference here is that at this point, Nova already has his own ongoing series, so the Conqueststuff takes place from Nova #4 to Nova #7. Otherwise, we also get miniseries for Starlord(no hyphen back in 2007), Quasar, and...ugh...Wraith.

    Listen, if you are getting these via the single issues and not the trades, it’s totally okay to just pretend Wraithnever happened. Marvel’s been doing a good job with it.

    As you can guess, the Starlordminiseries is a pretty big deal. Not only does it put Peter Quill in a leadership role, but it also reintroduces both Rocket Raccoon and Groot. Groot has the same speaking gimmick we know and love (or you hate because you hate fun), but is a bit of a jerk here. Rocket, on the other hand, is a bit more upbeat than what we’re used to. Still, the beloved Rocket/Groot bromance begins here.

    Oh, and Mantis is there too. She's kind of a big deal now.

    Once Annihilation: Conquest hits its first real issue, we find out who’s really behind the threat. Again, I won’t spoil who it is, but it is someone who is a bit well known to Marvel movie fans, so if you can read it surprised, you should be delighted.

    No, it’s not Thanos.

    Read Annihilation Conquest on Amazon


    Rather than do Annihilation 3: Die Darkman Die, Abnett and Lanning go directly to a Guardians of the Galaxy ongoing. The five members from the initial movie are all here as well as a handful of other characters. Some we’ll surely see in the future Marvel movies like Adam Warlock and others who we probably won’t like Bug. Bug’s awesome and all, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for him in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

    Guardians of the Galaxy itself isn’t an event, which means that you’ll have to prepare yourself for a handful of tie-ins to actual events. Stuff like Secret Invasion and War of Kings. Despite being another space-related event, War of Kings is something you don’t really have to worry about on its own. Just stick with this comic’s 25 issues without any real distractions. It’s the most straightforward run you’ll get on this whole list, so take it in.

    Despite the distractions of event story tie-ins and time travel, Guardians of the Galaxy still gets to tell its main story, which is set up from day one when Mantis tells the reader that there’s a traitor in the midst, but she won’t tell the team because she's annoying like that. Regardless, it’s a great run and it’s what inspired the idea of giving the team a movie in the first place.

    Plus, there’s even a quick Star-Lord vs. Ronan fight tossed in there before anyone knew that would be such a big deal!

    Read Guardians of the Galaxy: The Complete Collection on Amazon


    Around this time, Marvel had a habit of stealth canceling comics by having them lead into a miniseries and then walking away once it’s done. That’s what Thanos Imperative is to both Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova. The story is what should be the epic finale of the Abnett/Lanning cosmic run at Marvel, but not quite. I’ll get to that in a second.

    The story has to do with an alternate universe called the Cancerverse. See, many years ago, Marvel killed off a superhero named Captain Mar-Vell and gave him a really sweet, touching death told in its own comic back when stuff like that didn’t happen so often. In this alternate dimension, Mar-Vell’s counterpart rules because Death has been taken out of the picture. Nobody dies. Life itself is a cancer and it threatens everything. It’s such a big threat that Thanos is on the same side as the heroes.

    This one doesn’t have the same reading list gimmick as Annihilationand its sequel. Just read Thanos Imperative: Ignition and then the six-issue miniseries. There’s an epilogue issue called Thanos Imperative: Devastation, but don’t worry about it. That’s a launching point for The Annihilators, another attempt at creating a cosmic superhero team (featuring guys like Silver Surfer, Ronan, and Beta-Ray Bill), but that concept never really takes off.

    Consider Annihilatorsextra credit, if only for the Rocket Raccoon backup stories.

    Read Thanos Imperative on Amazon


    By the time we get Avengers Assemble, the whole Guardians of the Galaxy concept has been practically dead and buried. In fact, there are some major happenings in Thanos Imperative that completely affect the Guardians roster. Brian Michael Bendis doesn’t care about such things. He has a tendency to introduce characters in his stories written very differently from where he found them. Guys like the Hood, Luke Cage, the Sentry, and so on. He'll make them well-known, but on his terms.

    His Avengers Assemblerun starts out as just an Avengers story, but soon stretches into something more cosmic, giving us the first meeting between the Avengers and the Guardians. Some huge plot points from Thanos Imperative are completely ignored, which rightfully annoyed fans. Bendis would finally get to explaining things about two years later, presumably because he got annoyed at readers bugging him about it. Or maybe he just didn't want it distracting from the initial relaunch for new readers.

    This is a real turning point due to how Marvel was getting into full movie hype mode. Not only is this series meant to piggyback onto the success of the Avengersmovie, but it’s meant to reintroduce the Guardians of the Galaxy so that readers will be a bit more interested in their eventual film.

    Read Avengers Assemble on Amazon

    It also springboards into the next phase...


    While I’ve harped on Bendis for his, “yeah, whatever, we’re doing this now,” storytelling, he’s still really good and there’s a reason why he was pretty much Marvel’s top writer for 15 years. His version of Rocket does get a bit angry and catchphrasey, but I’m not sure if that’s Bendis’ call or mandated to make him more in line with the then-eventual Bradley Cooper version.

    While the roster changes a little bit, it has a rather interesting approach. You have the five movie characters and the others are attempts to get more eyes on the franchise. For example, early on, Iron Man joins the team. It’s great just for the small-fish-in-a-big-pond take on him where he’s no longer the smoothest, smartest man in the room and it humbles the hell out of him. Other members of the team include the current Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers, the one getting her own movie), Venom, and Angela.

    If you don’t know who Angela is, don’t worry about it. She’s honestly more interesting due to the behind-the-scenes reasons for her being in this comic, but that would take too long to explain. Just enjoy her fun BFF relationship with Gamora.

    Read Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1 on Amazon

    Of course, it would be wasteful just to have one comic for these guys...

    ROCKET RACCOON (2014-2015)

    Being the big breakout star of the movie, Rocket naturally got his own solo series out of the deal. While the other members of the team cameo, the book ultimately has little to do with the Guardians outside of Groot. Instead, it focuses on the wacky space adventures of Rocket as he becomes raveled in a series of stories that are linked to his secret origins. It stands as its own thing and doesn't tie into the big picture, but if you're a fan of the character, it's worth checking out.

    If anything, at least read the fifth issue. It's a self-contained story with a hilarious gimmick.

    Read Rocket Raccoon Volume 1 on Amazon

    LEGENDARY STAR-LORD (2014-2015)

    Also capitalizing on the movie’s success was a solo series about the team’s charismatic leader. While not as cartoony, it had the same goofball adventuring feeling as Rocket’s book. Peter wrestles with a lot of problems, such as feelings of vengeance, his own greed, a bounty on his head, and most challenging of all, maintaining a long-distance relationship. It also introduces the revelation that Peter has a half-sister out there in the universe, only she had the misfortune of being raised by their father.

    Legendary Star-Lord is very light on the Guardians, but it does build towards the next big entry on the list.

    Read Legendary Star-Lord on Amazon


    Black Vortex is a mini-event crossover between the X-Men and the cosmic corner of Marvel. As a follow-up to the Marvel event Infinity, Thane (son of Thanos) teams up with Star-Lord's Earth-hating father J'son. Together, they amp themselves up with the Black Vortex, a special mirror that gives people crazy cosmic powers. Though with great power comes great conflict.

    The X-Men, the Guardians, and Nova team up together to put a stop to this and even power themselves up. Then Ronan the Accuser gets involved because, what the hell, might as well have him clash with the Guardians since that's what the movie-going public knows.

    Regardless, the adventure ends with the reveal of a union between the two superhero teams that will mean much for the Guardians for...well, about a year and a half, I guess.

    In terms of Guardians of the Galaxy and Legendary Star-Lord, it takes place right before the end and only has an epilogue before those books come to a close. On the flipside, it comes towards the beginning of Guardians Team-Up.

    Read The Black Vortex on Amazon


    The title sums it up. The Guardians team up with different Marvel heroes in each issue as told by a different creative team. The first arc has them work alongside the Avengers in the comic book introduction of the movie-style incarnation of Nebula. After that, it's the Black Vortex tie-in issue.

    Once that's settled, we get a bunch of done-in-ones. Gamora fights alongside She-Hulk. Rocket works with the Pet Avengers. Gamora swashbuckles with Nightcrawler. Drax tries to heist with Ant-Man. Silver Surfer and Groot do mopey space stuff. Star-Lord joins forces with Spider-Man. Then to finish it off, Deadpool and Rocket team up to face their mutual enemy Macho Gomez.

    Nothing pressing in there, but at least we get to see a panel of Drax wearing Zubaz and a fanny pack.

    Read Guardians Team-Up Volume 1 on Amazon

    GROOT (2015-2016)

    As a follow-up to Rocket's series ending, Groot gets his own adventure. Groot insists on visiting Earth and it doesn't take long in their trip for Rocket to get captured. From there, it becomes a rescue mission where Groot teams up with three incompetent Skrulls, a robot programmed to pump gas, and obscure Marvel character Numinus. Plus the Silver Surfer shows up again.

    Not only is this comic hilarious, but it also has a ton of heart, especially when we discover why Groot wants to see Earth so much. The book features a new origin for Groot and even retcons how he and Rocket met. Sadly, Annihilation: Conquest is swept under the rug.

    I absolutely recommend reading this.

    Read Groot Volume 1 on Amazon


    Marvel released a batch of comics relating to Infinityin one way or another. They gave us some great moments, like Norman Osborn wielding the Infinity Gauntlet and Black Bolt merging his power with Dazzler's to annihilate Thanos. But the most enjoyable one centered around the Guardians.

    By the end of Infinity, Thanos was imprisoned in amber and the Illuminati secretly held them captive. This story shows the Guardians becoming aware of this, leading to a full-on Guardians vs. Illuminati battle. Not only is it lifted by Rocket's humorous narration (the panel where he imagines his own cartoon series is killer), but the ending is both badass and a nice middle finger to Earth's heroes.

    STAR-LORD (2015-2016)

    See, once Secret Wars is over, Marvel goes full-on crazy with Guardians stuff. Not only do they get another ongoing and a high-concept spinoff, but all the heroes from the first movie get their own comics. While I'll get to the rest in a bit, Star-Lord is the one that feels rather important. It's a follow-up to Humphries' previous run, but essentially tells two stories. The latter is about expanding on the background of a major development in the main Guardians of the Galaxy book.

    The other is a new look at Star-Lord's origin. Namely, it introduces Yondu into the fold. Yondu's always been an odd duck with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, since he's loosely based on the archer from the original, futuristic version of Guardians. Now we get to see a movie-friendly take on him that exists in the present. Apparently, he's the ancestor of the classic hero.


    Bendis finishes off his run on the characters and starts off with an interesting roster. Not only is Quill no longer the leader, but for a comic property that gradually fits into the public perception, it now has three team members who we most certainly won't be seeing as Guardians on the silver screen any time soon. This includes a brand new Star-Lord and, of course, the ever-loving Thing, who needs something to do now that Fantastic Four no longer has its own comic.

    The series goes strong, but unfortunately the latter half centers around the garbage fire event known as Civil War II. Luckily, this is one of those things where you can read the tie-in story and not have to worry about reading the event story itself. If anything, it's worth powering through just for the explosive finale.


    Skottie Young's wacky space adventures with Rocket and Groot continue, though they never quite reach the heights of the first Rocket series, nor that Groot comic by Jeff Loveness. The first few issues deals with a story where due to some time-and-space weirdness, Rocket and Groot are presumed dead while Rocket is an amnesiac space dictator and Groot has carved messages into his bark like the guy from Memento.

    Once that's done with, we get a bunch of one-shots until Nick Kocher takes over. From there, it again ties into Civil War II, but it's not bad at all, since Rocket and Groot get to team up with Gwenpool. Gwenpool is good.

    Read Rocket Raccoon and Groot on Amazon

    DRAX (2015-2016)

    If you're a wrestling fan, the existence of the Drax book is rather fascinating. After CM Punk left WWE because stars like Batista could just waltz in and take the high-profile spots from mainstays like Punk, Punk's star power lands him the ability to write a comic about Batista's cinematic alter-ego. Regardless, his collaboration with Cullen Bunn has plenty of energy and even leads to the wonderful image of Fin Fang Foom dressed as a farmer.

    Feeling like an outcast among his superhero team, Drax decides to go off and kill Thanos. That doesn't happen due to his ship being a piece of crap and he instead gets roped into an adventure that includes space dragons, a redemptive Terrax, gladiator fights, and the return of his old sidekick Cammi.

    If anything, read it for Hepburn's art style. It's fantastic.

    Read Drax Volume 1 on Amazon


    As we've already established, there are two versions of the Guardians of the Galaxy. You have the distant future guys who had comics back in the 60s and the more modern day space team who this list is based on. BUT...what if there was another team? Let's say a thousand years ago? Guardians of Infinity is a big eight-issue team-up between all three iterations of the Guardians of the Galaxy. All written by Dan Abnett, one of the fathers of Guardians being such a big deal to begin with.

    Not only that, but each issue has a backup story by a different creative team. One of which is co-written by Darryl "DMC" McDaniels. Sure, why not.

    Read Guardians of Infinity on Amazon

    GAMORA (2017)

    Fittingly, this series is written by Nicole Perlman, the co-writer of the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie. This story takes place in the past, showing how Gamora went from Thanos' puppet daughter to a more heroic warrior. Naturally, that means Nebula gets to have a presence as the comic tries its hardest to fit in with the film's continuity.

    Gamora annihilates the Badoon horde responsible for her people's genocide, only to discover that there's a princess hidden away. Gamora seeks her out, partially out of revenge, partially to complete her mission, and partly out of relief of having something to live for.

    Read Gamora Volume 1 on Amazon


    As a follow-up to the whole Civil War II nonsense, the Guardians are temporarily grounded. In fact, Grounded's the label they use for this and the next entry on the list. That means we get five issues of Rocket grumbling at how much Earth is the worst planet. Well, "Earth sucks," is the thing he says at least twice an issue.

    It's your average fish-out-of-water story, only with a space raccoon who weirds out every single Earthling he comes across. Check it out as he tries to find a way off Earth while complaining about how lame Earth guns are and trying to evade Kraven the Hunter.

    Man, Rocket vs. Kraven. How did it take us that long to get to that pairing?

    Read Rocket Raccoon: Grounded on Amazon

    STAR-LORD (2017)

    Remember that whole fish-out-of-water thing I mentioned? At least Rocket has the excuse of being an alien. Peter Quill was born here. It's just...spending a lot of years in space will change your perceptions about home, I suppose.

    Now nothing more than a random dude on Earth (with a laser gun and cool facemask), Quill becomes aimless and lonely. The only people he can confide in are Old Man Logan (due to sympathizing with his plight) and an old man he's forced to hang out with as community service. Hanging out with Logan leads to barfights and those aren't smiled upon by the law. Ironically, he starts paying off the fine by becoming a bartender at a supervillain bar.

    Buy Star-Lord Volume 1 on Amazon


    By this point, Marvel has completely gone headfirst into the movie versions of the team. Not only is it the main five, but Groot is now stuck in his baby form for reasons. Merchandisable reasons. Back in space, the team is full of mysteries. There’s the aforementioned Groot situation, Gamora is more intense than ever, and Drax the Destroyer has become a full-on pacifist with no desire to kill another living being.

    Gerry Duggan is the writer here and it’s the first step in his big, upcoming cosmic event Infinity Wars. Also, another superhero joins the team late in the series and it’s another attempt to capitalize on the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

    The Duggan run continues into a story arc called Infinity Quest. Groot’s transformation, Gamora’s secret, and the recent heists are linked and building towards something massive. Something is up with the Elders of the Universe and it’s imperative that the Guardians get their hands on the Infinity Stones. While the Guardians join the Nova Corps as part of a new mission, various players get involved to help set up Infinity Countdown, which leads to Infinity Wars.

    Due to the whole Marvel Legacy gimmick, the run is renumbered at #146 because supposedly that’s what it would be if Guardians of the Galaxy comics never restarted from #1.

    Start Here: All-New Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 on Amazon

    I AM GROOT (2017)

    In this five-issue miniseries, Baby Groot accidentally gets separated from his buddies and falls into a portal. On a new planet, he’s stuck in a glitchy reality best compared to the Bermuda Triangle. It’s there that he goes on a Wizard of Oz type of adventure where he’s joined by a farmer, a talking dog, and a three-headed woman where each head is a different age.

    This one’s just plain weird. Cute, but weird.

    Read I Am Groot on Amazon

    ROCKET (2017)

    Al Ewing and Adam Gorham team up to give us an at times noirish take on Rocket Raccoon as he gets drunk over a recent misadventure. Tying into his original comic adventures of yesteryear, Rocket gets hired by and then betrayed by his old flame Otta Spice. Opposed by a group of bounty hunters called the Technet, Rocket gets some unexpected help from Deadpool, who helps inspire him to set things right and make the guilty parties pay.

    It’s a little out there, but good fun.

    Read Rocket: The Blue River Score on Amazon


    Okay, so that was a lot of words. Here’s the short version of the reading guide.

    Origin of the Guardians: Drax the Destroyer, Annihilation, Annihilation: Conquest

    Initial Run: Guardians of the Galaxy (2008), Thanos Imperative

    First Movie Era: Avengers Assemble, Guardians of the Galaxy (2013), Black Vortex

    Optional: Rocket Raccoon, Legendary Star-Lord, Guardians Team-Up, Groot

    Post-Secret Wars: Guardians of the Galaxy (2015)

    Optional: Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon and Groot, Drax, Gamora, Guardians of Infinity

    Grounded/Optional: Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon

    Second Movie Era: All-New Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy (2017)

    Optional: Rocket, I am Groot

    Everything goes over Gavin Jasper’s head, but you should still follow him on Twitter anyway.

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    The Walking Dead showrunner Scott M. Gimple teases a major evolution for the series when it returns this fall for Season 9.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Apr 16, 2018

    Warning: Spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 8 finale, “Wrath.”

    The Walking Dead Season 9 will arrive this fall as a venerable television juggernaut that’s in the odd position of having something to prove. While the AMC cable smash continues to dominate Sunday nights with an undead iron fist, it’s lost some steam in the ratings. However, with Season 8 now over, the series will go into Season 9 with a new showrunner, Angela Kang, and, according to outgoing showrunner Scott M. Gimple, a “quantum leap forward.” – Will it be enough to cauterize its hemorrhaging viewership?

    At an impromptu presser before The Walking Dead aftershow Talking Dead, Gimple, along with property creator and show executive producer, Robert Kirkman, discussed the future of the series as it eyes Season 9. With the Season 8 finale, “Wrath,” having concluded the (two-year-running) “All Out War” storyline, with the victory of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his united communities over Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his apocalypse plunderers the Saviors, the series is destined for a major storyline departure. As Gimple states (via THR):

    "The show will evolve in a huge way [in Season 9]. They'll be dealing with things we haven't seen them deal with before and dealing with each other in ways that we haven't seen before. What [the writers] have planned ... it just feels new. It feels like an evolved show. [The past eight seasons] very much lived in the world that Rick began with. It was so informed by the pilot. It just takes this quantum leap forward in the stories we're telling."

    Readers of Kirkman’s The Walking Dead comic book series – whose knowledge of the source material once equaled clairvoyance until the show started making major plot deviations – know that “All Out War” was followed by a two-year time jump, which began with Rick and company living a relatively peaceful and fruitful existence through reciprocity with neighboring communities, including former foes the Saviors. Consequently, Gimple’s choice of words in “quantum leap forward” might be interpreted as confirmation that the series will make a similar time jump. He even concedes that his comments can be qualified as "a time jump tease."

    However, the future setting is not yet a sure thing, since, as mentioned, the series has been making some comic-anachronistic story swerves, the most notable of which was the recent death of co-protagonist, Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs), which kicked off Season 8B, as well as the spinoff crossover event that sent Morgan Jones (Lennie James), a character who's long-dead by this point in the comics, to migrate over to the rejuvenated main cast of TV spinoff series Fear the Walking Dead.

    Pertinently, last year's buildup to The Walking Dead Season 8 teased what appeared to be flash-forward scenes showing an older (epic-beard-sporting,) Rick living a peaceful existence in Alexandria that resembled the comic book’s time-jump. Yet, as the season went on, those scenes were revealed to be a fantasy, manifested by Carl’s vision for a peaceful future. Tellingly, the Season 8 future flashes depicted “Old Man Rick” as having to use a cane, an idea that came from the comics after Rick sustained a gruesome leg dislocation in his final battle with Negan. However, the show's climactic final battle in question ultimately didnot see Rick sustain any such injury, which leaves the time-jump notion further in question.

    Of course, The Walking Dead comic book series is still going strong, and there are plenty of spectacular storylines for the show to adapt, especially if it still plans to follow the general trajectory of said source material, showcasing the arrival of an array of new (but initially wary,) allies such a Magna and Yumiko, as well as the continuing arc of Negan, who, as Rick reveals in the Season 8 finale, will still be around under lock and key in Alexandria, forced to watch the communities successfully thrive without his pillaging tyrannical ways (plus, in another deviation from the comics, he'll have to watch his back, since, as we saw in the Season 8 finale, Maggie and Daryl are plotting his death). Plus, most notably, the arrival of the next big bad group of The Walking Dead mythos, the stealthy, primitive, walker-skin-wearing group, the Whisperers, is a sure bet for Season 9.

    Regardless, The Walking Dead Season 9 will need to bring something uniquely compelling to the table to reverse the show's steadily-declining ratings and remain a television staple. Indeed, the show’s “All Out War” storyline proved tough for viewers to endure, with Season 8 averaging 7.8 million viewers (not yet accounting for the finale); still enviable numbers, but far removed from its Season 5 (2014-2015) heyday average of 14.38 million viewers.

    ...Next stop, Comic-Con in late-July, where the first teaser footage will likely debut.

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    Stephen King's Pet Sematary is moving forward, with Jason Clarke eyed as the new Louis Creed.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Apr 16, 2018

    Pet Sematary is set to be interred (and revived) in the proverbial haunted Indian burial ground that is Hollywood’s reboot/remake wave; a practice that often affirms the film quote, “sometimes dead is betta.” Of course, this Paramount revival of the 1983 novel-turned 1989 movie will be amongst an insane array of other film and television projects in the pipeline that adapt Stephen King’s work.

    Here, Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer (Starry Eyes, Scream: The TV Series) have landed the job of directing this long-developing remake, working off a screenplay by David Kajganich and Jeff Buhler. Hopefully, they’ll keep that killer Ramones theme song.

    Pet Sematary Remake News

    Jason Clarke is in negotiations to star in the Pet Sematary remake movie, reports THR.

    Should the deal be finalized, Clarke will play Louis Creed (played by Dale Midkiff in the 1989 movie), a doctor, who, after moving to the Ludlow, Maine setting, becomes stricken with an escalating series of tragedies after burying his daughter’s beloved pet cat, Church, in a haunted Micmac burial ground (the titular pet cemetery,) believed to resurrect the dead. While the cat does, indeed, return, its 10th (undead) life is one defined by evil. Consequently, as more curse-related tragedies strike Louis, he keeps turning back to the burial ground to resurrect loved ones, despite the advice of sagely neighbor, Jud, and even a benevolent ghost, named Pascow. – Truly, one of the more frustrating protagonists in the annals of literature and film.

    Clarke, a veteran Aussie actor, is coming off a duo of fact-based films in the Helen Mirren haunted house movie, Winchester, and Chappaquiddick, in which he plays Ted Kennedy during the titular 1969 tragic car accident/political scandal. His major roles include Terminator: Genisys, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Everest, Zero Dark Thirty and Public Enemies, along with TV runs on The Chicago Code, Brotherhood, Stingers and Farscape. – He’ll next be seen opposite Keira Knightley in the World War II drama, The Aftermath, in writer/director Steven Knight’s drama Serenity and in the Ryan Gosling-starring Neil Armstrong biopic, First Man.

    For those unacquainted, here's the trailer for the original 1989 Pet Sematary movie:

    Pet Sematary Remake Release Date

    Pet Sematary is currently scheduled to be released on April 19, 2019.

    It will be interesting to see if that holds, since the date was marked back in December, and several Stephen King adaptation greenlights have occurred since then, possibly requiring some rearrangements.

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    Naomi Alderman's speculative fiction tale of women in power is a must-read for any Handmaid's Tale fans.

    Feature Delia Harrington
    Apr 16, 2018

    The Power by Naomi Alderman is our current Den of Geek Book Club pick.

    The premise alone is transgressive: imagine a world in which young women suddenly acquire the ability to physically overpower—hurt, maim or even kill—any man. This is the setting the reader is thrust into in Naomi Alderman's The Power, a 2016 science fiction novel in which women develop the ability to release electrical jolts from their hand, leading to them becoming the dominant gender. From there, the novel explores the potential dynamics of a matriarchal society in a story that is a must-read for fans of The Handmaid's Tale.

    Much of The Power feels like it could belong to the celebratory genre of "male tears"-style, knowingly satirical misandrist apparel and merchandise. But what if "men are cancelled" wasn't something said by powerless women? What if the most physically-powerful people decided to cancel men, and actually had the ability to follow that statement through? What happens to all of that righteous anger if, in a short span of time, women gained the power to enforce our anger, not just scream it into the void while we watch men hurt us, repeatedly and with impunity. What if we suddenly had impunity, instead of the other way around?

    In a moment where many are (falsely) claiming that women suddenly have all the power and that men are tip-toeing around us out of fear, it's fascinating to read about a world where that actually happens—if only to see how far off it truly is from our own reality. A vision of the radical, global empowerment of women serves as not only a cautionary tale about the corrupt nature of power and the misleading shortsightedness of gender roles, but also a reminder of how far we still have to go, how deeply entrenched our ideas about gender truly are.

    Though the book was clearly written well before this recent, most persistent sociopolitical moment that attempts to equalize the power imbalance that is sexual violence, The Power simultaneously feels like the perfect book to read right now, and the most difficult one. In a world where power (physical, organizational, and systemic) is shifting, the lines and norms of sexual violence are shifting, too.

    The Power is not a straight up gender swap or farce. It is grounded in the reality of how our present world—with all its technology, power dynamics, and social movements—would react to a revelation and shift over time. While toxic femininity certainly emerges, toxic masculinity exists alongside it, with an added bitterness that can only come from those who once had power, but don't any longer. Men gather on forums like Reddit and 4Chan, just as they do now, to talk about what fat ugly bitches women are, and how they're taking over everything. Except that, in this world, there's some credence to their ranting, as societal power shifts over the course of the ten years chronicled in the book.

    The Power asks questions that deeply interrogate the gender roles and assumptions of our time. What does it mean to be a woman without the power? Or, even more rarely, a man with it? Can the power be taken by force? Who are you if you lose your power? How does physical power translate into systemic political power? Can we ever forgive men for the millennia of hurt they have caused? Will hurting them back make it right? Will anything make it right? Would men ever cede power without being forced? Is an egalitarian society possible?

    It’s no surprise that the author was quite literally mentored by Margaret Atwood. Atwood's influence, particularly from The Handmaid's Tale and the MaddAdam trilogy, are all over the book. The framing device of a letter to a friend is reminiscent of Atwood's Dr. Piexto from the epilogue of The Handmaid's Tale, right down to the gendered dismissal of the story we just read. The use of artifacts, too, calls to mind Offred's recovered cassette tape of her story. The artifacts are also a comic reminder of what role our possessions play in our lives, how confusing our current society will one day be, and the way that preconceived ideas color all of human knowledge, including the sciences.

    There are key differences here, too. Whereas Handmaid's Tale is a laser-focused tale of the necessarily narrow view of the protagonist Offred, The Power takes a more global narrative stance, showing even more breadth than Hulu's television adaptation has so far. As the narrative shifts from one protagonist to the next (there are four here), we're able to see the difference in how, say, Saudi Arabian or Moldovan women react to the power, versus those in the U.S. or the U.K. The geographic, cultural, and political specificity of the emergence of the power would affect different countries is a much-needed level of specificity, which speaks to women's abilities to differentiate between situations like verbal harassment and sexual slavery, contrary to some assessments.

    The Power is rich in subtext and metaphors. Like the consciousness raising circles of the 1960s and 70s, the power first blooms in young women, and then spreads from one woman to the next, as those with the power awaken something deep and secret in other women. Henceforth, all baby girls are born with it—this ability is like air to them, it has always been there. And there's no closing Pandora's box, no shutting this thing down once it gets going.

    Much of this book serves as a litmus test on the reader’s current view of gender roles, especially the ingrained ones. Does it feel unnatural to read a male reporter described as effeminate, flirtatious, or impossible to take seriously because he was shirtless earlier? Do we chafe when a woman character says that men like to be zapped, just a little bit, in bed? Our reactions to The Power say more about us than they do about the book.

    To discuss The Power with us, head over to the Den of Geek Book Club on Goodreads.

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    The Den of Geek Book Club is a place to geek out about our favorite science fiction, fantasy, and horror books.

    FeatureKayti Burt
    Apr 16, 2018

    Hello, all!

    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...

    April/May Pick: The Power by Naomi Alderman

    Imagine a world that completely flips the balance of power when it comes to gender. This is the setting for The Power, Naomi Alderman's 2016 science fiction novel set in a world in which women develop the ability to shoot electric jolts from their fingertips, leading to their dominance as a gender.

    As Delia Harrington notes in a review for Den of Geek, The Power is a vital read for a time in which some falsely claim that women have stolen all of the power from men. President Obama named this one of this favorite books of 2017, and the book somehow feels even more relevant now than it did when it was published just two long years ago.

    If you're into The Handmaid's Tale, then check out the novel that has been called "our era's Handmaid's Tale." Then head over to the Den of Geek Book Club Goodreads page to discuss.

    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 24-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 lionaire, her older brother Tzain, and Princess Amari. 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.

    Read our full review of Children of Blood and Bone.

    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.

    You can read our full review of the book herecheck out our interview with author Elan Mastai, then head over to our Den of Geek Book Club page to join the discussion!

    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.

    Learn more about Binti and Nnedi Okorafor's other work.

    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.

    Head over to our Den of Geek Book Club page to join in the discussion! 

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    Matthew Vaughn isn't directing Terry Hayes' I Am Pilgrim anymore, but James Gray is.

    News Simon Brew
    Apr 17, 2018

    Back in the autumn of 2015, it was revealed that Matthew Vaughn, then enjoying the success of the first Kingsman movie, had signed up to direct the movie version of screenwriter Terry Hayes’ first novel, I Am Pilgrim.

    The 2014 book follows a mysterious spy called Pilgrim, the code name for a man who doesn’t exist. Once the head of a secret espionage unit for U.S. intelligence, he lives anonymously in retirement but is summoned back into action in order to save America from a ruthless and cunning terrorist.

    The book was a hugely successful thriller on its first publication, with further installments on the way, and MGM sees the property as a possible franchise in the mold of its other secret agent cash cow, James Bond.

    But Vaughn left the project, which put it in limbo for a while even though Hayes himself -- who has written scripts for films like Dead Calm and The Road Warrior -- had penned a screenplay for the picture. Now word comes that James Gray, director of The Lost City of Z and the upcoming sci-fi epic Ad Astra, has been recruited by MGM to helm I Am Pilgrim.

    Gray is in post-production on Ad Astra, which stars Brad Pitt and is due out later this year, and will likely get behind the camera for I Am Pilgrim next.

    The book landed on both the New York Times and Los Angeles Times best seller lists, was a massive hit in the U.K. and has been translated into more than 30 languages, so there seems to be an audience out there for a potential new spy franchise. No word yet on a release date or potential star, but we'll stay tuned. And at least there's now a new director on board.

    Source: Deadline

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    In 20 years, Marvel has risen from bankruptcy to multi-billion-dollar business.

    Feature Ryan Lambie
    Apr 17, 2018

    Just about every great comic book story has a darkest hour moment: a point in the tale where all seems lost. The heroes are on their knees, the city's a smoldering ruin and the villains are closing in for the kill. For Marvel, its darkest hour came in the winter of 1996.

    A company that had grown in stature throughout the '60s, '70s, and '80s thanks to the often stunning art and storytelling in such comics as Fantastic Four and The Amazing Spider-Man, Marvel's financial success had reached a peak by the early '90s. But then a series of bursting financial bubbles and questionable business deals saw Marvel's stock value collapse; shares once worth $35.75 each in 1993 had sunk to $2.375 three years later. An ugly fight between a group of very rich investors followed, and for a while, the company's future seemed uncertain.

    Yet somehow, Marvel fought through all the corporate intrigue which dogged the company in late 1996 and for many long months afterwards, and emerged from the rubble a decade later as a film industry behemoth.

    A prophecy of doom

    In 1993, while Marvel and the comics industry as a whole seemed to be in rude health, Sandmanwriter Neil Gaiman stood before about 3,000 retailers and gave a speech which few in attendance wanted to hear.

    In it, he argued that the success of the comic book market was a bubble - one brought on by encouraging collectors to buy multiple editions and hoard them up in the hope that they'll one day be worth a fortune. This, Gaiman said, was akin to tulip mania - a strange period in the 17th century when the value of tulip bulbs suddenly exploded, only for the market to collapse again.

    "You can sell lots of comics to the same person, especially if you tell them that you are investing money for high guaranteed returns," Gaiman said. "But you're selling bubbles and tulips, and one day the bubble will burst, and the tulips will rot in the warehouse."

    The bubble Gaiman described had begun several years earlier, when comic books, once considered disposable items by parents, were becoming prized items by collectors who'd grown up with their favorite superheroes as kids. By the 1980s, comic book collecting had gained the interest of the mainstream media, which latched onto stories about Golden Age comics selling for thousands of dollars.

    Publishers were themselves courting the collector market by introducing variant covers, sometimes with foil embossing or other eye-catching, fancy printing techniques. These were snapped up hungrily by readers, but also by speculators assuming that they'd stumbled on a sure-fire means of making money by storing copies up and selling them for a profit in the future.

    Enter Ron Perelman

    While the comics were flying off the shelves, Marvel attracted the interest of a man named Ron Perelman. Often pictured with a broad grin and a huge cigar in his hand, Perelman was a millionaire businessman with a variety of interests: in 1985, he'd made a huge deal for cosmetic firm, Revlon through his holding company, MacAndrews & Forbes. In early 1989, Perelman spent $82.5 million on purchasing the Marvel Entertainment Group, then owned by New World Pictures.

    Within two years, Marvel was on the stock market, and Perelman went on a spending spree: he bought shares in a company called ToyBiz, snapped up a couple of trading card companies, Panini stickers, and a distribution outfit, Heroes World. All told, those acquisitions cost Marvel a reported $700 million.

    Through the early '90s, Marvel was buoyed by the success of Spider-Man and X-Men, which were selling in huge numbers. Sales of a new comic, X-Force, were similarly huge, thanks in part to a cunning sales gimmick: the first issue came in a polybag with one of five different trading cards inside it. If collectors wanted to get hold of all five cards, they - you guessed it - had to buy multiple copies of the same comic. With the boom still in full swing, that's exactly what collectors did - as former Comics Internationalnews editor Phil Hall recalls, fans were buying five copies to keep pristine and unopened, and a sixth to tear into and read.

    Then, just as Gaiman predicted, the bubble burst. Between 1993 and 1996, revenues from comics and trading cards began to collapse. Suddenly, Marvel, which at one point seemed invincible as it grew in size, now looked vulnerable.

    "When the business turned," observed then-chariman and CEO of Marvel Scott Sassa, "it was like everything that could go wrong did go wrong."

    Some in the industry went further, and argued that Perelman's tactics had endangered the entire industry:

    "[Perelman] reasoned, quite correctly, that if he raised prices and output, that hardcore Marvel fans would devote a larger and larger portion of their disposable income toward buying comics," wrote Chuck Rozanski, CEO of Mile High Comics. "Once he had enough sales numbers in place to prove this hypothesis, he then took Marvel public, selling 40% of its stock for vastly more than he paid for the entire company. The flaw in his plan, however, was that he promised investors in Marvel even further brand extensions, and more price increases. That this plan was clearly impossible became evident to most comics retailers early in 1993, as more and more fans simply quit collecting due to the high cost, and amid a widespread perception of declining quality in Marvel comics."

    [related article: Complete Marvel Movie Release Calendar]

    Whether Perelman was directly to blame or not, the consequences for the industry as a whole were painful in the extreme. Hundreds of comic book retailers went bust as sales tumbled by 70 percent. Suddenly, the boom had turned to bust, and even Perelman admitted that he hadn't anticipated the dark future Gaiman had warned about in his speech.

    ''We couldn't get a handle on how much of the market was driven by speculators," Perelman said; "the people buying 20 copies and reading one and keeping 19 for their nest egg..."

    A battle in the boardroom

    By 1995, Marvel Entertainment was heavily in debt. In the face of mounting losses, Perelman decided to press on into new territory: he set up Marvel Studios, a venture which he hoped would finally get the company's most famous characters on the big screen after years of legal disputes. To do this, he planned to buy the remaining shares in ToyBiz and merge it with Marvel, creating a single, stronger entity.  

    Marvel's shareholders resisted, arguing that the financial damage to Marvel's share prices would be too great. Perelman's response was to file for bankruptcy, thus giving him the power to reorganize Marvel without the stockholder's consent.

    There followed a bewildering power struggle which raged for almost two years. A stockholder named Carl Icahn tried to oppose Perelman, and the financial press eagerly reported on the very public spat which ensued. Perelman, Icahn argued, "Was like a plumber you loan money to get him started in business; then he comes in, wrecks your house, then tells you he wants the house for nothing."

    The battle, when it finally ended in December 1998, had a strange outcome which few could have predicted: after a lengthy court case, ToyBiz and Marvel Entertainment Group were finally merged, but Perelman and his nemesis Icahn were both ousted in the process. Other executives with ties with Perlmutter were also severed, including CEO Scott Sassa, whose tenure had, all told, lasted just eight months.

    They'd been pushed out by two ToyBiz executives who'd been on Marvel's board since 1993: Isaac Perlmutter and Avi Arad. With Scott Sassa gone, they installed the 55-year-old Joseph Calamari, who'd been at the helm of Marvel in the 80s, as its new CEO.

    With the financial intrigue in the boardroom settling down, Marvel began to turn its attention to a target it had been trying to hit since the 1980s: the movie business.

    Marvel on the big screen

    Israeli-born Avi Arad brought a gruff swagger to the toy industry. Having risen to the rank of CEO at ToyBiz, and described as "the hottest developer in the toy business" by one contemporary, Arad's big career change came when Marvel bought a 46 percent share in the company in 1993. Arad had received a 10 percent share as part of the deal, and while he initially oversaw the production of Marvel action figures at ToyBiz, he quickly replaced the legendary Stan Lee as the head of Marvel Films.

    Arad served as executive producer on the hit animated TV series X-Men, and by the summer of 1993, had brokered a deal with 20th Century Fox to make an X-Men movie.

    For years, Marvel had struggled to get its properties onto the big screen: the rights to Spider-Man were stuck in a tangled web which wouldn't be unpicked until the late '90s, while 1986's Howard The Duck was a critical and financial disaster. But now, it looked as though Arad's approach was going to bear fruit.

    Then Marvel's financial woes began, and Arad struggled to convince Hollywood executives of the company's cinematic value. "It was literally a daily fight, trying to open people’s eyes to what was right in front of them," he later said.

    Things began to change in the late '90s, when Marvel began to find its feet again: Bladewas a hit, and X-Men began to finally move ahead at Fox. The pickings for Marvel, however, were slim: Blademade $70 million at the box office, but the reward for Marvel, according to a Slatearticle, was a measly $25,000. The X-Men and Spider-Man movies were huge hits, but Marvel only saw a small percentage of the profits. "We were giving away the best part of our business," Arad mourned.

    The birth of a cinematic universe

    In 2003, a talent agent named David Maisel came to Marvel's Isaac Perlmutter with a proposal. Why not produce the movies under your own banner, and reap the profits for yourself? And if you're producing your own movies, why can't the stories cross over with each other, just like they do in the comics?

    It was an idea that could, in theory, be worth untold millions: while Marvel's stock had bounced back since 1996, Maisel argued that going into movie production could see it soar still further. The problem, however, would be convincing Marvel's board of directors and, just as vitally, gaining the requisite financing.

    A major breakthrough came in 2005, when Marvel managed to make a deal with Merrill Lynch. The details of the deal sounded risky: Marvel was essentially offering up the jewels of its business - characters like Thor and Captain America - as collateral. If the films didn't make money, those superheroes would suddenly belong to the bank.

    Nevertheless, Merrill Lynch gave Marvel access to a huge reservoir of cash: $525 million over seven years, which it could use to spend on 10 movies with budgets ranging from $45m to $180m. With their newfound clout, Marvel managed to reacquire the rights to characters it had sold over the years, including Iron Man, Black Widow, Thor, and Hulk.

    Shortly after the deal with Merill Lynch went through, Marvel announced that Iron Man would be its first independent production. Finally, a character who'd languished in development hell since the 1990s (Universal originally owned the rights, before they passed to Fox and then New Line) was finally getting a shot at big-screen stardom.

    While work on Iron Manbegan, Marvel made another important acquisition - one as important to its future success, perhaps, as the recovery of some of its most famous superheroes.

    A president and a $4 billion deal

    Kevin Feige got his start in the film business as an assistant to producer Lauren Shuler Donner (wife of director Richard). Feige's love of comics was such that, despite his relatively young age, he landed the role of producer on Fox's production of X-Men - he was just 27 at the time. Going on to produce other Marvel films thereafter - including Spider-Man, Daredevil, and Hulk- Feige was brought in as president of Marvel Studios in 2007. Under his watch, Marvel continued to blossom; Iron Man, his first credit as producer for the studio, made $585 million, kick starting a cinematic universe that is still only just unfolding.

    The next turning point came in 2009, when Disney purchased Marvel for a dizzying $4.3 billion Avi Arad insisted, with his usual bluster, that Disney had netted itself a bargain. "It’s a cheap price!" Arad said. "It’s nothing! It’s a very strong brand, and we planned on this brand. It wasn’t a fluke."

    Marvel's track record over the past near-decade seems to bear Arad out: The Avengers alone made billions, and currently ranks as the third highest grossing film of all time. Iron Man 3 became the second Marvel film to gross more than $1 billion. Even a quirky film like Guardians Of The Galaxy - a space opera some regarded as a gamble - made more than $750 million. Black Panther has become not only another $1 billion plus success story, but one of the highest grossing films of all time.

    For a company that was in debt 20 years ago, Marvel has seen a remarkable change in fortunes. Superhero-like, Marvel survived its darkest hour in 1996, and from the jaws of defeat, pulled a multi-billion dollar victory.

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    Superman may have ruled the world in Injustice: Gods Among Us, but now he's up against He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.

    NewsGavin Jasper
    Apr 17, 2018

    The NetherRealm Studios fighting game series Injustice: Gods Among Us has certainly played around with crossovers. Mortal Kombat characters have shown up in its two games and the latest installment features both Hellboy and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Sadly, while the Injusticecomic is seen as being way better than it has any right to be, they have ignored all those guest fighters in its narrative. So yeah, I’m afraid we haven’t seen any Scorpion cameos or subplots.

    While the game itself seems to be done with downloadable content, or at least on hiatus, Injusticeisn’t done with the crossovers. Tim Seeley and Freddie E. Williams II will be releasing a six-issue comic miniseries this July called Injustice vs. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Can’t say I saw that one coming.

    Here’s the blurb on what it’s all about:

    Believing He-man and the Masters of the Universe defeated, a robotic impostor has seized control of Eternia-but not for long! After freeing his kingdom from this strongman's rule, Prince Adam learns not everyone is pleased to see the pretender deposed-but Adam knows the value of freedom. So when heroes from another dimension ask his aid in deposing a super-hero turned dictator, he agrees. Teaming up with Batman against the Superman of the InjusticeUniverse, He-man and his new allies face dangerous and familiar enemies in a battle where no world is safe!

    This is far from the first time DC and Masters of the Universe have clashed. Back during He-Man’s height of popularity in the '80s, he fought with Superman in an issue of DC Comics Presents, which is memorable for the simple fact that Skeletor kicked Superman’s ass singlehandedly. A series of action figure sets came out many years later (including Bizarro vs. Faker) and then DC’s Masters of the Universe reboot took on the New 52 version of the Justice League. Said story featured Skeletor working for Dark Orko, which is as ridiculous as it sounds.

    Oh, and Skeletor’s reaction to hearing that John Constantine lived on that Earth was, “I thought he was a myth!” Loved that bit.

    This take has a little more meat on it just for the fact that Superman vs. He-Man is the whole point. It isn’t a scuffle that ends with the two realizing they’re on the same side. He-Man’s up against a Superman who is in serious need of a punch to the face. I'm looking forward to it.

    Injustice vs. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #1 will be available on July 18.

    Gavin Jasper wants a scene of He-Man and Black Canary joining together to sing “What’s Up?” Follow Gavin on Twitter!

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    One of our favorite superhero books returns with a bang this week, and there's a trailer to celebrate.

    NewsJim Dandy
    Apr 17, 2018

    Black Hammer, one of our Best Comics of 2016, has been on hiatus for a bit as peripheral series have fleshed out the main comic's universe and deepened its core mystery. But now it's back, with Black Hammer: Age of Doom, and Dark Horse created a trailer video to get us excited.

    Watch it here...

    Black Hammer is the story of a group of heroes, after a fight with the giant, villanous Anti-God, trapped in an eerie idyllic farm town. Abraham Slam was a brawler in peak physical condition who came out of retirement to be the last line of defense against Anti-God. Golden Gail was an elderly woman who traded places with a superpowered preteen girl when she muttered a magic word. Colonel Weird and Talky Walky explored the para-zone together as man and female expressing robot best friend. Barbalien is the Martian diplomat who made first contact with Earth. And Madame Dragonfly controls earth-toned magic from her mysterious swampy cabin. The six of them defeated Anti-God, but were transported to a mysterious farm at the climax of their battle along with Black Hammer, a god in his own right who left his family to save the planet. 

    Upon arrival at the farm, Black Hammer, trying to get back to his daughter, flew into an energy barrier and was torn apart, one body system at a time, leaving the remaining six to slowly slip into despair over ten years at their seemingly hopeless situation. 

    Meanwhile, Black Hammer's daughter Lucy, now a journalist, is trying to figure out what happened when she stumbles across a probe sent out by Talky Walky, and eventually makes her way to the farm where she picks up her father's hammer, becomes a hero and "remember[s] everything." The trailer picks up with Lucy as Black Hammer, popping in and out of the parazone.

    The Black Hammer world has been expanding during the main series' time off. Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil dug into the villains of the universe (including Cthu-Lou, the greatest villain pun ever created). Doctor Star and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows played with the idea of legacy in the Black Hammer universe. And The Quantum Age, coming later in 2018, jumps us 1000 years into the future of Spiral City.

    All three series so far - the main Black HammerSherlock Frankenstein and Doctor Star - have been written by Jeff Lemire, with art from burgeoning superstars. Dean Ormston on the main series is like a cross between Frank Quitely and Mike Mignola. Sherlock Frankenstein's David Rubin is a cartoonist's cartoonist out of Paul Pope's artistic family tree. And Max Fiumara, a stylish chameleon, knocked it out of the park on Doctor Star. 

    For more on Black Hammer, stick with Den of Geek!

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    AMC’s The Walking Dead can’t stop its ratings plunge, with the Season 8 finale having delivered the lowest numbers since Season 2.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Apr 17, 2018

    The Walking Dead is in the uniquely bizarre position in which having nearly 8 million viewers for a single episode is considered an ominous sign. That’s because the AMC flagship series – in a ratings free-fall since the start of the season– used to pull A LOT higher numbers in regular episodes than the 7.9 million it just earned for the Season 8 finale. Will the show be able to stop this hemorrhaging as it continues onward to Season 9?

    AMC aired The Walking Dead Season 8 finale, “Wrath,” on the evening of April 15, now revealed to have pulled a 3.4 rating in adults 18-49 in Live+ Same Day, yielding 7.9 million viewers overall, rounding out a collective Season 8 average of 7.8 million viewers – an impressive number by most standards. Indeed, despite the circling of the proverbial carrion birds, the veteran series still managed to dominate its competition, which consisted of the highly-heralded ABC News interview with former FBI director James Comey, as well as the Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards.

    Unfortunately for the series, the rub here is that 7.9 million viewers represents a startling decline for The Walking Dead, both overall, and for finale events, even compared to 2017’s Season 7 finale, which earned 11.3 million viewers, which came at a time when the show’s declining ratings were already being discussed. Startlingly, the 7.9 number is, quite literally, half of the 15.8 million viewers earned by 2015’s Season 5 finale.

    Yet, the most prominent narrative that being touted here is that The Walking Dead Season 8 finale rating of 7.9 million viewers is now the second-lowest in the show’s history, ranking only above the Season 1 finale. It’s a dubious distinction, since the inaugural season of show, which aired in the last quarter of 2010, was still essentially an experimental adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s comic book series, touting the name of film director Frank Darabont as showrunner, manifesting with only six episodes. Thus, there was no notable aura going into the December 5, 2010 finale, which only pulled 6 million viewers. Yet, it's a number that the series could very well see again, should its decline continue.

    However, there is still hope for AMC’s The Walking Dead television franchise, since the Season 4 premiere of spinoff series Fear the Walking Dead, which immediately aired after the mothership show finale, earned a rating of 1.6 in Live+ Same Day/18-49 and 4.1 million viewers, actually representing an uptick from its 2017 Season 3 premiere. The Season 4 premiere, "What's Your Story?," saw the initiation of a heavily hyped crossover move, sending Morgan Jones (Lennie James) from the main show’s current Virginia setting to Texas, acquainting him with series newcomers John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt) and Althea (Maggie Grace), putting him on a path to joining the spinoff show’s primary characters, led by Madison Clark (Kim Dickens).

    AMC and the creative forces know that something drastic needs to be done with The Walking Dead, since the upcoming frame will debut new showrunner Angela Kang, with auspicious teases of the series making a “quantum leap forward.” Yet, one could interpret the ratings increase for Fear as a sign that viewers who abandoned the main show may not have done so because of undead ennui with the franchise itself, but, rather, because the two-year-running “All Out War” storyline proved difficult to endure, especially as the series started to – in formulaic fashion – inflate the storyline with episodes centered on specific characters, which did nothing to further the overall narrative, sparingly yielding rewards on a week-to-week basis; a season structure that arguably needs to change.  

    The Walking Dead Season 9 is clearly going to make or break the show. It will be interesting to see if – with Angela Kang at the helm – the series can find its proverbial mojo, tackling new storylines (and a prospective time-jump), representing a tonal leap from the arduously-paced “All Out War.” – Of course, we’ll probably get our first hint to that answer when the show (in all likelihood,) debuts its first teaser footage at Comic-Con in late-July.

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    You can listen to the Head On Audible book, and its gender-nonspecific protagonist, with one of two narrators: Wil Wheaton or Amber Benson.

    NewsKayti Burt
    Apr 17, 2018

    John Scalzi just released Head On, the standalone follow-up to Lock In. The science fiction crime novel is set in a world that has been forever changed by something called the Haden's syndrome, a pandemic that left one percent of the surviving population locked inside of their own bodies. These people, known as Hadens, interact with the world using android bodies known as Threeps. (For more on the world, check out Scalzi's brilliant novella Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome.)

    Head On's protagonist, FBI agent Chris Shane, is a Haden. When we catch up with Chris in Head On, the detective and their partner Agent Leslie Vann are tasked with investigatating the Haden-related murder of a Hilketa player. Hilketa is a violent, football-like sport in which Threeps try to rip the head off of one of the opposing team's players. It also involves swords and hammers.

    As with Lock In, Scalzi does not specify Chris' gender in the telling of the story. We talked to the author about the decision.

    "[The choice] came from when I was first imagining the world, and I was thinking about who the protagonist would be and who they would be and what they would be like," Scalzi told Den of Geek during a phone interview. "It came to me that, in this particular case, I would not have to choose between male or female because the main character was going to present to the world, basically, through a Threep, through a machine. The machine doesn't have to be gendered one way or the other."

    Scalzi said that he does not know how Chris identifies, either. For him, that part of their character is irrelevant to the story.

    "If a Threep comes up to you, unless by design, it shows that the person driving it is male or female, or whatever, you're just not going to know," explained Scalzi. "You're going to approach them in a different way than you would if you 100% knew what their gender was. Knowing that, as a fact of the world, I just decided the main character, I'm not going to find out what their gender is, which is not to say Chris might not have a gender. Chris may be a he, Chris may be she, Chris may decide that gender doesn't apply, or could be gender fluid and somewhere on the spectrum. The point is that I, as the writer, don't know because I haven't asked Chris and Chris hasn't volunteered that particular information to me."

    Scalzi said that it was important to him that the lack of gender specification not be in the reader's face, but rather a subtle part of the story. However, this kind of ambiguity can be harder to translate when it comes to the audiobook form. Scalzi and the team at Audible found a clever way to preserve some of the gender ambiguity. As with Lock In, listeners can choose to listen to Head On from two different narrators: Wil Wheaton or Amber Benson.

    "For the first book, the only person who knew prior to the book coming out that Chris was not gendered were the folks at Audible because I specifically told Steve over at Audible that this one should probably have two narrators," said Scalzi. "He was literally the only person who knew. When we sent it out for reviewers, we didn't tell the reviewers. When we published it, we didn't say anything about it. We let people find it for themselves. Once they did find it for themselves, then there was a whole lot of discussion about what we did and what it meant, and all that sort of stuff."

    As Head On is written as a standalone novel set in the same world as Lock In, Scalzi expects that some readers will come to the story with the same ignorance about the non-gendered protagonist as did with Lock In.

    "Even though we're talking about it now, there will still be people who come to it not knowing that Chris isn't gendered," said Scalzi. "They will come in with their own default setting of who Chris is. I think that's fascinating."

    Scalzi said that both Wheaton and Benson bring their own unique delivery to Head On.

    "Both Will and Amber are fabulous narrators," said Scalzi. "If [the listener] listened to Will and then decided to listen to Amber, or vice versa, that there's enough distinction in the delivery that it makes it worthwhile to hear basically the same story twice told through a different perspective."

    For comparison, Den of Geek has exclusive clips from both Wheaton and Benson's audiobook narrations of Head On.

    How does Scalzi in particular respond to the different narrations?

    "One of the things, and this is a highly personal thing with relation to Will, Will and I are about the same age," said Scalzi. "He's a couple years younger. We both grew up in the same area. We both grew up in southern California and we both know each other. If you ever listen to the two of us in conversation ... you realize that our cadence and the way that we express ourselves is extraordinarily similar."

    For Scalzi, listening to Benson's narration teaches him much more about his world and this character.

    "For me, in many ways, Will is very close to what's actually in my head," said Scalzi. "Now, that said, it's not to say that what's in my head is always the best or most interesting choice. That's one of the reasons that I love Amber. Amber is equally trained and precision an actor as Will is but her choices are different. Her perspective on who Chris is and who the other characters in that world are is sufficiently different from what I have in my own head that when I listen to her, I feel like she's revealing parts of my own universe that I hadn't seen before. That is, for me, what some of the best audio narration can do. The actor, or the narrator, just adds something else that you weren't anticipating."

    Both  Lock In and Head On are now available to purchase in audio form with your choice of narrator. Head On is also available to purchase in hardcover form. Stay tuned for more insight from our interview with author John Scalzi.

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    Spider-Man: Hostile Takeover will lead directly into the upcoming game.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 17, 2018

    Marvel, Insomniac Games, and Titan Books are teaming up to publish two books related to Insomniac's upcoming Spider-Man game.

    The first book, Spider-Man: Hostile Takeover, will be written by David Liss and serves as a prequel that will lead directly to the beginning of the game. It seems that this particular story will star a large number of Spider-Man's rogues gallery. Shocker, Echo, the Blood Spider, and Kingpin are all name-dropped in the book's official preview alongside other familiar faces like J. Jonah Jameson and Mary Jane Watson. It focuses on Kingpin's plan to take over NYC, and will supposedly feature certain plot points and character relationships that will play a part in the game. 

    Check out the Logitech G513, the Perfect Next-Gen Keyboard for PC Gamers

    The other Spider-Man book is not narrative based. It's a collection of art used to create Insomniac's upcoming game. Paul Davies' Marvel’s Spider-Man: The Art of the Gamewill look at "never-before- seen images of Spider-Man, his costume and equipment, the Marvel version of his hometown New York, and the deadly villains he battles." It promises to give fans an exclusive look at the design blueprint of the game. 

    Hostile Takeover will be available on August 21st shortly before the Insomniac game launches on September 7th. Art of the Game will be available starting on September 11th. 

    The lead-in book is of particular interest at the moment as some have wondered just how Insomniac's game fits into the current popular mythos and how it differs. We've seen hints of variations in the trailers released thus far, but nothing that would suggest it's going to be too radical of a departure from the most popular Spider-Man timelines. The villains noted in the book's description are of particular interest as they could hint at some of the baddies we'll be battling in the game itself. The art book, meanwhile, should prove to be a fascinating look at the considerable talent on the Insomniac Games team. 

    Of course, Insomniac's Spider-Man will ultimately answer any and all questions, and we're just as excited as you are to finally get our hands on that title this September. 

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    Action Comics #1000 celebrates Superman in the best possible way: by reminding us what he's really all about.

    NewsMike Cecchini
    Apr 18, 2018

    It’s remarkable how much Superman has changed in 80 years. It’s also remarkable how little Superman has changed in 80 years. Fittingly, Action Comics #1000 encapsulates so much of Superman’s history, with all of its wonderful contradictions, and still manages to be a worthy celebration of the most important hero in all of pop culture.

    In an age when Superman has died and come back to life, both on the page and on the big screen, the best Superman stories know better than to rely on raw power. Stories about how hard Superman can punch, or how many punches he can take, might sell some tickets, but that’s not the true strength of the character. The best storytellers know that Superman’s kindness, compassion, and unflagging belief in humanity’s better nature define the character far better than heat vision, supersonic flight, or indestructibility.

    The vast majority of Action Comics #1000, DC’s official 80th anniversary celebration of the legacy of Superman, understands exactly that. Within its pages of short stories, Superman shares an almost friendly moment with Lex Luthor, delivers a touching meditation on mortality in the far future, finds himself in awe of the spirit of the ordinary person, and much more. Even if you haven’t read a comic in years - or ever - it’s a perfect introduction, or a welcome home, all delivered by some of the best talent DC Comics has to offer, alongside some legendary creators from Superman history.

    But the one that feels the most appropriate for Action Comics in particular is “The Car” by Geoff Johns, Richard Donner, and Olivier Coipel. Picking up the day after Superman’s first adventure from Action Comics #1, the one where he famously smashed that green sedan to bits against a boulder while a bunch of low rent criminals ran for cover, “The Car” shows how even the two-fisted, sometimes hot-headed early Man of Steel has time for everyone, even a potential enemy.

    It’s fitting that the simplest, most universal truth to come out of Superman’s mouth would come from Johns and Donner. Johns, in his current capacity as DC’s Chief Creative Officer and co-chair of DC Films, continues to steer Superman’s destiny on the page and screen, while Donner is responsible for what is considered by many to be not just the definitive Superman movie, but the definitive interpretation of the character. The Kal-El of the 1978 movie, and even the comics of today, is a kinder, gentler hero than the one who trashed that car in 1938 (Supes could be a bit of a show off in his younger days), but that doesn’t stop Donner and Johns from helping Superman deliver the kind of clear, direct, pointed message that the Man of Steel used to voice on his radio show in the 1940s:

    “You’ve had your fair share of knocks. And you can keep knocking the world back like you’ve done. Or you can make a decision. Today. Be that person who wasn’t there for you for someone else. It’s your can fix it...or you can junk it. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.”

    Here’s to the next 80 years. For Superman, and for all of us.

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    Deadly Class, an assassin high school show is coming to Syfy courtesy of the Russo Bros.

    News Jim Dandy
    Apr 18, 2018

    Rick Remender and Wes Craig's graphic novel, Deadly Class, has been under development for television since 2016's San Diego Comic-Con by the Russo Brothers of Avengers: Infinity War and the paintball episodes of Community fame. Now, the TV adaptation will take a crucial step forward, since cable channel Syfy has just given it a series order.

    The comic, which debuted for Image Comics back in 2014, follows a group of teenagers as they make their way through San Francisco's late '80s punk scene and also a high school for assassins. The book focuses on Marcus Lopez, a homeless Nicaraguan teen who gets recruited for the school. His first decision as a student is to kill Ronald Reagan, and that's somehow the least bad decision he makes in the entire book.

    As Bill McGoldrick, president of scripted content for NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, expresses in a statement on the series order:

    “We’re committed to developing graphic novels for Syfy and have found a rich, compelling, truly unique world in Deadly Class. Our producing partners expertly combined high school angst, 80s nostalgia and comic flair into a beautifully realized, visually arresting pilot that truly brings Rick and Wes’ acclaimed comic series to life.”

    Syfy revealed the full cast list back in September, after its initial order for the pilot. They consist of the following:

    Benedict Wong (Doctor Strange) is Master Lin, the headmaster of the School for the Deadly Arts. "Deadly and feared. He's an ever-changing chameleon who keeps his students desperate for his approval." 

    Benjamin Wadsworth (Teen Wolf) is Marcus. "At one point we were all Marcus, an awkward outcast full of social anxiety struggling to find his place in the cold and brutal world of high school. Marcus is bottled rage, if his life had been normal this kid might have been an artist, even a poet. Instead he’s had to survive life on the streets of San Francisco. His eyes show it. He’s morally centered in an unethical world."

    Lana Condor (X-Men: Apocalypse) is Saya, "mysterious and guarded with a deadly reputation. Saya was banished from one of the top Yakuza clans in Japan, sent to the School for the Deadly Arts to redeem herself. Driven to be the valedictorian, nothing will stand in her way."

    Maria Gabriela de Faria (Yo Soy Franky) is Maria. "One minute Maria’s an extrovert and an exhibitionist, a tornado of ever changing emotions—fierce, charming, beautiful and oozing femininity -- the next she’s murderous, feral, and crippled by rage. At the School for the Deadly Arts her instability is treated like a super power." 

    Luke Tennie is Willie, "a hardened gangster, but underneath is an honest and thoughtful person who would rather be reading comic books and listening to music than engaging in blood work. Forced by his mother, leader of an LA gang, into the School for the Deadly Arts, he is under endless pressure to become the thing he hates most."

    Liam James (The Family) is Billy, "skater punk, son of a corrupt cop and now a misfit at the school. He's off kilter and high energy. Billy combats every situation with sarcasm and humor. Always a glimmer of mischief in his eye."

    Michel Duval (Señora Acero) is Chico, "scary, muscular, son of a cartel drug lord. Everyone knows not to mess with Chico. The only one who can hurt him is his girlfriend." 

    Guest stars will include Henry Rollins as Jürgen Denke, Taylor Hickson as Petra, Siobhan Williams as Brandy, Sean Depner as Viktor, Jack Gillett as Lex, and Ryan Robbins as Rory.

    The pilot adaptation will be written by Remender and Miles Feldstott. Adam Targum, lately of Banshee and Outcast from Cinemax, will shworun, while Lee Toland Krieger, who directed a number of episodes of Riverdale, will direct the pilot.

    The show has strong source material to draw from, both narratively and aesthetically. Craig's art looks like a cross between David Mazzuchelli on Batman: Year One and Frank Miller on DaredevilColorist Lee Loughridge gives every scene a distinctive look and mood, and Remender is a master at cutting his schmaltz with cynicism and his cynicism with genuine, heartfelt emotion. If the pilot is half as good as the first trade of Deadly Class, the show should be very good indeed. No air date has been announced yet.

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    Deadpool’s creator, Rob Liefeld, has created a Deadpool 2 poster that pays homage to the character’s debut in The New Mutants #98.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Apr 19, 2018

    Deadpool 2 is just around the corner, set to showcase the highly-anticipated sequel to the 2016 Ryan Reynolds-starring surprise cinematic smash that changed the landscape of the comic book movie scene. Yet, while the character exists in the highest tier of superherodom, those who remember his earliest days from 1991 in the pages of The New Mutants and X-Force still find the idea surreal; something that likely influenced a new retro poster crafted by creator Rob Liefeld.

    With the release of another fantastic fourth-wall-wrecking Deadpool 2 trailer, the media blitz now brings a special poster, which is now available to purchase for Fandango ticket buyers. The man who created Deadpool, Rob Liefeld – collaborating with Mike Capprotti – has created the poster, a stunning tribute to his original cover for Deadpool’s first appearance in The New Mutants #98, dated February 1991 – a book that continues to skyrocket in value. Of course, out of necessity, some New Mutants members are removed, and Deadpool 2‘s Colossus subs for Gideon.

    The original 1991 cover actually touted its debuting characters, with Deadpool, Cable (played by Josh Brolin in Deadpool 2) and Domino (played by Zazie Beetz in the film), and the mostly-forgotten villain, Gideon. Contextually, Issue #98 arrived at a time when the original run of The New Mutants series was heading for the finish line, ending with Issue #100, after which Liefeld would migrate the characters over to the newly-launched X-Force (Deadpool’s second appearance would occur in Issue #2 of that series).

    Interestingly, the Deadpool of Issue #98 was not quite the beloved and roguish Merc with a Mouth that people would come to love. Rather, he was somewhat of a generic villain, a skilled mercenary in service to a shadowy client, called “Mr. Tolliver” (more on him in this piece), continuing a series-wrapping time-travel-related storyline that had just introduced Cable back in Issue #87 (also an increasingly valuable book). Indeed, Deadpool, who actually did impress readers with all his early-1990s comic aesthetics and Liefeldian pouches, still seemed like a homicidal, Spider-Man-emulating, flavor of the month. Truly, no one could have possibly imagined the kind of staying power and character evolution that he’d eventually enjoy.

    Creations like Deadpool and Cable would quickly propel Liefeld to stardom, and those of us who were around for it still remember him being interviewed by Spike Lee in the then-ubiquitous Levis 501 Button Fly Jeans ads (in which The New Mutants #98 can be seen). Not long after that, he would join some of the most prominent artists in the comic industry to create Image Comics, for which his Youngblood #1 served as the future The Walking Dead publisher's inaugural issue in 1992. /historylesson

    Deadpool 2, which, apparently, is the proper title now, will make its arrival on May 18.

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    The Fantastic Four will finally return to the Marvel universe this August!

    NewsJim Dandy
    Apr 19, 2018

    This August, Dan Slott (Silver Surfer) and Sara Pichelli (Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man) are relaunching the Fantastic Four for the first time since 2015.

    Reed Richards and Sue Storm were last seen at the close of Secret Wars where they, along with the kids from the Future Foundation (Franklin and Valeria Richards, Alex Power, a teen clone of the Wizard named Bentley 23, Artie, and Leech) left to rebuild the multiverse following its collapse in the pages of Avengers and New Avengers. 

    They have periodically been referenced since their disappearance, most prominently in the universal entity fight comic Ultimates and in Chip Zdarsky and Valerio Schitti's excellent Marvel Two-In-One, where the Thing, the Human Torch, and an Iron Man-inspired good guy Dr. Doom search the multiverse for their family. Also probably in Invincible Iron Man, which was about good guy Dr. Doom.

    The First Family of Marvel Comics was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1963 at the dawn of the new Marvel Comics and had been in more or less continuous publication since that time. They were phased out of the Marvel Universe because Fox held the film rights, a status quo that infuriated CEO Ike Perlmutter when he wasn't demanding Marvel staff reuse old staples.

    Perhaps because of the pending Disney/Fox deal that returns the movie rights for the X-Men and Fantastic Four to Marvel Studios - or perhaps because of a change in leadership at Marvel - we are getting our first new FF comic in over three years. 

    To celebrate, Marvel released a trailer celebrating the legacy of the Fantastic Four. Check it out...

    The new Fantastic Four #1 arrives this summer. Check out the cover by Esad Ribic!

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    Star Wars' beloved Wookiee has had plenty of adventures since 1977. Here's an essential reading guide of Chewbacca's greatest hits!

    The Lists Marc Buxton
    Apr 19, 2018

    Unless you’ve been living inside of a Hutt’s stomach, you know that Solo: A Star Wars Story will be hitting theatres this May. This new film will not only give fans a chance to learn the secret origins of the captain of the Millennium Falcon, but we'll also meet a very young and very spry Chewbacca. That’s right, soon we will see Han and Chewie’s earliest adventures together aboard the Falcon.

    The legend of Han Solo and the mighty Chewbacca has been expanded upon for years, both in the old school Star Wars Legends novels and in the pages of many awesome comics. We recently presented a recommended Star Wars reading list focused on Han Solo, and you can be sure that Chewbacca was fighting side by side with Han in just about all those awesome books and comics, but we found a few (if you’ll pardon the space pun) solo Chewbacca adventures for your consideration.

    So strap on your bandolier, fry up a porg, and buckle in the co-pilot’s chair, as we take a look at some must-read Chewie fiction from yesteryear:

    Vector Prime (2000) - Legends

    Writer: R.A. Salvatore

    We ironically begin our list with Chewie's death. You see, in the days before Disney began sniffing around Star Wars like a rabid mouse hunting for a piece of billion-dollar cheese, Del Rey published The New Jedi Order. In Vector Prime, the first part of the heroes versus Yuuzhan Vong saga, author R.A. Salvatore had to figure out a way to portray the new alien race of evildoers as a true threat. To do this, Salvatore, author of the always eminently readable Dark Elf novels, sacrificed Chewbacca.

    Believe me folks; the Wookiee's death was epic. Chewbacca was crushed by a freaking moon while saving the Solo children. Yes, it took a whole moon to take out Chewbacca.

    This infamous moment in Star Wars history sent waves of emotion through all of the characters as well as the fandom. Even though the death of Chewie had tremendous resonance, one of the welcome parts of the Disney buyout of the galaxy far, far away is that Chewbacca is back from his lunar demise. But Vector Primewill give you a taste of a Star Wars without Chewie, and believe me, it’s a much darker galaxy.

    Buy Vector Prime

    Star Wars: Chewbacca (2001) - Legends

    Writer: Darko Macan

    Artists: Brent Anderson, Igor Kordey, Jan Duursema, Dave Gibbons, Dusty Abell, John Nadeau, Martin Egeland, Kilian Plunkett, and Rafael Kayanan 

    Boy, the beginning of this list is somewhat depressing. So with Chewie dead, Dark Horse published a mini-series tribute to the fallen Wookiee warrior. These tales were told from the point of view of Chewie’s best friends: Luke, Han, Lando, Leia, the droids, and even tales from the POV of Chewbacca’s wife, Mallatobuck, and Chewbacca’s father, Attichitcuk. So if you want to experience a story featuring Chewie’s family that isn’t part of the awful Holiday Special, this Dark Horse volume of Chewbacca tales is your chance.

    This series takes you through the pre-Disney history of the Wookiee warrior in a collection of great stories from the top artists in comics (a Dave Gibbons Chewie story!). These Dark Horse stories are well worth reading for the warm feelings they will leave behind. Even though Chewie’s death has been obliterated from continuity, this Wookiee hero always deserves a tribute.

    Buy Star Wars: Chewbacca

    Star Wars Adventures: Chewbacca and the Slavers of the Shadowlands (2011) - Legends

    Writer: Chris Cerasi

    Artist: Jennifer L.Meyer 

    Another Legends tale of young Chewie, this YA adventure is a flashback about the Wookiee's coming of age. During his right of passage ritual, Chewie and a group of his Wookiee friends must journey into the Shadowlands of the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk. There, the brave Wookiees encounter a group of slavers and an experience that will forge Chewbacca into the warrior he will become.

    Chewbacca and the Slavers of the Shadowlands is a heartfelt dive into Chewie’s past from two centuries before the events of A New Hope and provides readers a rare glimpse into the formative years of one of the galaxy’s most noble heroes. There’s a great YA Edgar Rice Burroughs feel to this one that should delight older pulp adventure fans, as well. 

    Buy Chewbacca and the Slavers of the Shadowlands 

    Marvel's Chewbacca (2016) - Canon

    Writer: Gerry Duggan

    Artist: Phil Noto 

    It’s a challenge for any writer to tell a story where the main character talks in bursts of grunts and growls, but in Marvel’s Chewbacca, writer Gerry Duggan executes a perfect, action-packed Chewie tale that is filled with heart. With excellent art by Phil Noto, this 2016 series treats readers to a number of flashbacks as the story of Chewbacca trying to save a young girl from an Imperial-occupied planet unfolds. This series allows fans to see Chewbacca at his best - fighting, piloting, and protecting. Chewie shows the Empire that, with or without Han Solo by his side, it’s not wise to upset a Wookiee.

    Buy Marvel's Chewbacca

    Chewie and the Porgs (2017) - Canon

    Writer: Kevin Shinick

    Artist: Fiona Hsieh

    There’s just a part of me that loves the fact that after the death of his boy Han Solo, Chewbacca has essentially become a crazy cat lady. Instead of cats, it’s porgs, and the sweet, all-ages Chewie and the Porgs captures that Wookiee-Porg magic perfectly. This tale relates a side adventure shared by Chewie and his new owl/penguin/puffin/hamster pals on Ahch-To. With lush and adorable illustrations by Fiona Hsieh and an adorable story by award-winning Robot Chicken writer Kevin Shinick, Chewie and the Porgsforgoes the Porg eating and goes right for the heart, as the creators blast you in the cute bone with this perfect bedtime escapade.

    Buy Chewie and the Porgs

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    Jeff Lemire & Max Fiumara take Doctor Star into deep space to resolve some daddy issues.

    NewsJim Dandy
    Apr 20, 2018

    Rereading Black Hammer recently was a trip because of how much time has passed since it first came out.

    Granted, July of 2016 isn't that long ago, but with the news cycle time dilation effect that started in mid-2015 (I WONDER WHAT CAUSED IT), it feels like a decade has passed. That exhaustion only heightened the atmosphere of the first year's worth of Black Hammer stories. The world Jeff Lemire made his characters inhabit had peeks of grandiosity, but was exhausting in its mundanity. That's an odd thing to say about a 90+ year old woman trapped in a 9 year old superpowered girl's body who's friends with a gay martian, but it's true and fascinating to read.

    The real work being done in the Black Hammer universe, what's going to turn this whole series from "excellent" to "masterpiece" is in the spinoffs. Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil is just bonkers, an expansion of Black Hammer that feels natural, while at the same time being packed to the gills with ridiculous odes to how wacky comics can get, both in narrative pieces (Cthu-Lou is inspired. His daughter Cthu-Louise is actual genius) and in presentation (David Rubin makes the book feel like a zany cartoon).

    Doctor Star and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows is a little lighter on the wackiness, but a little more meaningful. It's very much a Starman pastiche (Doctor Star is named James Robinson, for FSM's sake), but it stops at pastiche, delivering a story that captures every bit of the earnestness and heart of Robinson and Tony Harris's DC classic while also building out the architecture of the greater universe that Black Hammer exists in.

    Dark Horse sent along an exclusive preview of Doctor Star #3, and naturally we jumped at the chance to look at it. Here's what they have to say about the book.

    Doctor Star & The Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows: From the World of Black Hammer #3

    Jeff Lemire (W), Max Fiumara (A/Cover), Dave Stewart (C), and Dustin Nguyen (Variant cover)
    On the hunt for a cure for his sick son, astral crime fighter Doctor Star heads to the moon only to discover an intergalactic federation called the Star Sheriff Squadron looking for a leader to defend the galaxy!

    The issue hits shops and digital platforms on May 2nd. Take a look at the preview and get excited!

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        Marvel's Doctor Strange has a weird history with psychedelic rock band Pink Floyd. Get ready to expand your mind.

        Feature Mike Cecchini
        Apr 20, 2018

        Doctor Strange and Pink Floyd both got their start during the 1960s, a decade known for mind-expansion, psychedelic experimentation, and the pushing of cultural and artistic boundaries. Neither were exactly in step with the rest of their genre.

        Doctor Strange, unlike his spandex clad and heavily muscled contemporaries, used occult practices like black magic and astral projection to defeat his foes instead of brute force. Pink Floyd were never really the kind of post-Beatles psychedelic pop group that were still common in the late '60s, nor were they ever the kind of blues-based hard rock or technically-oriented progressive rock band that dominated the 1970s. Unsurprisingly, Doctor Strange comics were popular on college campuses as the counterculture revolution of the 1960s began to take hold and it's easy to see stoners disappearing into Steve Ditko's surreal artwork while early Floyd records played or why psychedelic rockers were more drawn to these than traditional superhero fare.

        Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson dropped a number of Pink Floyd references on Twitter during the production of the Doctor Strange movie (not to mention Bob Dylan, The Talking Heads, T.Rex, and other bands), so I was waiting to see if a Pink Floyd song would actually make its way into a Marvel movie. 

        I wasn't disappointed. 

        Pink Floyd's "Interstellar Overdrive" plays during a key early sequence in the movie. It comes from first Pink Floyd album, The Piper At The Gates of Dawn, which abandoned the melodic but skewed psychedelic pop of their early singles, "Arnold Layne" and "See Emily Play" for a collection of songs that were more metaphysical, sinister, and occasionally (like in the case of "Interstellar Overdrive") freeform explorations of sound and feedback. The album version clocks in at nearly 10 minutes, but live versions could run longer, as long as the band wanted, really, and were accompanied by a psychedelic light show and oil projections that were conducive to mind-expansion. Those visuals wouldn't have looked out of place in the Doctor Strange comics of the era, either.

        Pink Floyd's guitar player, singer, and driving creative force in 1967 was Syd Barrett, who left the group the following year due to worsening mental illness that was likely accelerated by his voracious appetite for mind-altering chemicals like LSD. Marvel's Doctor Strange movie certainly leans heavily on imagery consistent with the visuals associated with LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline trips (Strange even accuses the Ancient One of spiking his tea with psilocybin), which is fitting, even if it isn't a direct connection to Pink Floyd.

        Listen to Pink Floyd The Piper at The Gates of Dawn on Amazon Prime

        Barrett was still present on a few tracks on the band's second album, 1968's A Saucerful of Secrets, which has a semi-hidden image of Doctor Strange on the cover. The collage effect is not only reminiscent of the band's light shows and a representation of the psychedelic experience, but the placement of Strange himself makes it look as if the whole album cover is a spell being cast by the Master of the Mystic Arts. 

        The Strange elements come from a story in 1967's Strange Tales #158, with art by Marie Severin (Doctor Strange co-creator Steve Ditko had left Marvel almost a year earlier).

        Here's the page: 

        (and thanks to Richie who pointed out the specific issue in the comments of our article about all of the easter eggs in the Doctor Strange movie)

        The title track, "A Saucerful of Secrets" is kind of like the sequel to "Interstellar Overdrive" as it's another extended instrumental that places more emphasis on experimental sound than it does on anything resembling a traditional rock song structure. In other words, it's the perfect accompaniment to your reading of weird-ass Doctor Strange comics from the era.

        Listen to Pink Floyd A Saucerful of Secrets on Amazon Prime

        What I somehow never realized until this NightFlight article pointed it out to me is that you can also spot Marvel cosmic entity The Living Tribunal in the upper left-hand corner of the album cover, too...

        Doctor Strange was still on the band's radar enough that they included him in the lyrics of "Cymbaline" from their third album, 1969's soundtrack to the Barbet Schroeder film, More. "Suddenly it strikes you, that they're moving into range,"Syd Barrett's replacement David Gilmour intones solemnly, "and Doctor Strange is always changing size."

        Funny enough, "Cymbaline" was known as "Nightmare" when it was performed as part of The Man and The Journey suite of songs, meaning it shared a name with the first villain Strange ever fought in the comics. Soon the band's lyrical focus drifted away from metaphysical concerns and into more earthly ones, and while they continued to produce extended musical compositions, the atonal sounds of "Interstellar Overdrive" and "A Saucerful of Secrets" gave way to the more melodic "Echoes" and "Shine On You Crazy Diamond."

        But if Doctor Strange was an influence on the band in their early days, you can perhaps see hints of Pink Floyd in the 1978 Dr. Strange TV movie, which has a synth-heavy, at times funky, electronic soundtrack and an astral trip visual sequence that looks like some of the light show projections the band were known for. The final song on Michael Giacchino's Doctor Strangescore, "Master of the Mystic Arts" subtly evokes some of the band's 1970s work, too.

        But one final piece of Doctor Strange/Pink Floyd synchronicity popped up in 2016. Doctor Strange star Benedict Cumberbatch joined former Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour on stage to sing "Comfortably Numb," a song which started life as a demo called, funny enough, "The Doctor." Whether this is coincidence, or simply the universe bringing the Pink Floyd/Doctor Strange connections full circle is entirely up to you to decide, of course. Maybe Doctor Strange 2can find room for more Pink Floyd music when exploring the Dark Dimension or somewhere similar.

        Cast spells, or at least talk psychedelic rock and comics, with Mike Cecchini on Twitter. We have a playlist of all songs discussed here...

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