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  • 05/10/18--09:07: Deadpool 2: Who is Domino?
  • Deadpool 2 introduces everyone's favorite mysterious mercenary, Domino. Who is she and what are her ties to X-Force?

    Feature Jim Dandy
    May 10, 2018

    Domino is poised to shoot to comics character superstardom with Deadpool 2. We thought it would be worth taking a look at who this queen of good fortune is, where she came from, and what makes her tick.

    Ready? Let's give this a shot...

    FIRST APPEARANCE

    Crap.

    Domino is actually complicated from the start. Her first appearance was in New Mutants #98, the issue that also introduced Deadpool. She was created by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld for the third-to-last issue of the series that chronicled the adventures of the second wave of students at the Xavier School.

    Except her actual first appearance came a year later, in Nicieza and Liefeld’s X-Force#8.

    Turns out the person who the New Mutants/X-Force thought was Domino was actually a mutant named Copycat with the power to mimic someone down to a genetic and mutant power level. We don’t meet her until X-Force#19. Also, her real name is Vanessa Carlyle, one she shares with Morena Baccarain’s character from the first Deadpool movie. So spoiler? Or prediction? This got crazy complicated real fast. Let’s start over.

    FIRST APPEARANCE

    Who cares. Domino was created in the ‘90s as a badass mercenary, and she’s chock full of the convoluted backstory you might expect from one with so humble an origin. Neena Thurman (her real name) also has all the abilities of a badass ‘90s mercenary - expert marksmanship, can do martial arts, has casual sex with Wolverine.

    Her mutant power involves altering probability fields. Basically, she’s lucky - everything tends to fall into place when she’s around. Sometimes that means she hits a trick shot; sometimes that means there’s a swimming pool full of 372,844 pancakes under the skylight she’s standing on when the skylight shatters.

    That really happened, by the way. Daniel Way’s Deadpool run had its moments.

    TEAMS

    Domino’s been on just about all of them. She started out on Six Pack - mercenaries that included Cable, GW Bridge, Grizzly, Garrison Kane and Deadpool. She eventually joined X-Force, the actual paramilitary understudies of the X-Men after Cable got his hands on them. She ran the Hong Kong branch of the X-Corporation (the X-Men’s early aughts attempt to integrate with the corporate world). She was part of Cable’s late period X-Force team along with Dr. Nemesis, Colossus (her one true boyfriend), and Forge. And most recently she’s been running around with a Weapon X team run by Old Man Logan.

    OTHER DOMINOS

    Well, there have been a number of alternate versions of her in the multiverse. Ultimate Domino was basically the same Domino, only she was hanging out with a Cable who was actually a future Wolverine. In X-Men: The End, she got killed by a Super Skrull pretending to be Wolverine. And in the Age of Apocalypse, she ran black ops for Apocalypse himself along with Grizzly and Caliban. There, she was killed when Nate Grey (AoA’s Cable) used his telepathy to relive every murder she committed from the victim’s side. It was pretty rough.

    Also there’s Copycat, the person who posed as Domino. Copycat was a mutant shapeshifter who took on Domino’s appearance and powers to spy on Cable on behalf of the shadowy Mr. Tolliver, who is himself a 90s X-Men continuity singularity.

    SO WHY DOMINO?

    She’s a ton of fun as a character. Someone who’s lucky all the time and knows it can get into some crazy stuff. Making her a mercenary just leans into the slapstick violence you can pull off with her. And when you pair her with a fourth wall breaker like Deadpool, narrative convenience becomes an end goal of its own. As long as she ends up with Colossus, Deadpool 2 should make her work well.

    For more on Deadpool 2 or the rest of Deadpool’s X-Force, stick with Den of Geek!


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    Lewis Tan is X-Force member Shatterstar in Deadpool 2. And this character has a crazy history.

    Feature Jim Dandy
    May 11, 2018

    As Into the Badlands’ Lewis Tan gets set to bring him to the big screen in Deadpool 2, we wanted to answer the burning question in all of your minds: Who the hell is Shatterstar? This founding member of X-Force’s backstory has more twists than an arthritic pretzel factory, and we’re here to bring you some clarity.

    FIRST APPEARANCE

    Shatterstar, or Gaveedra Seven, was created by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld in New Mutants #99, but he was really just a cameoing unconscious body next to a really stupid sword. He first got real play in the following issue, New Mutants #100, the final issue of the series before it became X-Force. He had travelled back 100 years to convince the X-Men to help him defeat Mojo and Spiral on his world.

    He missed, and instead joined Cable’s paramilitary force.

    FAMILY LINEAGE

    Shatterstar is his own grandfather.

    SHUT THE FUCK UP

    I’m being serious, aggressively vulgar sub-header.

    Shatterstar is the child of Longshot, the bird-boned Mojoverse revolutionary who’s extremely lucky, and Dazzler, the disco queen who turns sound into light. Adult Shatterstar, sent on a time-traveling adventure by the lord of Hell, X-Factor’s Strong Guy, becomes the genetic template that Arize, a genetic engineer working on ways to create members of Mojo’s race only with spines, uses to make a new slave for the Spineless Ones. That slave turned out to be Longshot.

    Later, Longshot, a clone of Shatterstar, would partner with Dazzler and have a child, who would become Shatterstar and then go back in time to provide the genetic material to create a clone who would become Longshot, who would

    I GET IT

    Do you? Because he also might be a mentally unstable Bostonian runaway named Benjamin Russell.

    POWERS AND ABILITIES

    He’s got the standard ‘90s badass power set of super speed, strength and agility as well as a healing factor. He’s trained in many different violent disciplines including the carrying of completely impractical parallel-bladed swords and slightly more practical parallel-bladed arm thingies (where instead of a fist’s width apart, the two blades are on either side of his forearm).

    And he has the capacity to pick up new things very quickly - he can learn a fighting style or a language faster than normal people. He’s also got hollow bones like his father/son, and he can channel sound waves through his bladed weaponry kind of like his mother/daughter-in-law.

    TEAMS

    Technically he was a part of the New Mutants, even if he was only on that team for like, 23 pages. Most of Shatterstar’s history (and likely the reason he was picked for Deadpool 2) was spent on X-Force, the paramilitary outgrowth of the New Mutants. He ran with them for several years before leaving the team with his friend (who he’d eventually end up dating), Rictor, to help Rictor break up a gun smuggling ring in his family.

    He resurfaced years later and joined Jamie Madrox’s X-Factor Investigations, a detective agency run by Multiple Man and a few members of the former government-sponsored mutant team. That was where the whole family complication happened.

    WHY SHATTERSTAR?

    Deadpool wasn’t afraid to pick at the silliness inherent in the X-Men mythos, and as you can see, Shattybuns - his actual nickname from early X-Force - is overflowing with silly X-Men bullshit. Deadpool’s X-Force team is pieced together from every era - Shatterstar from the original team; Bedlam from late period original X-Force; Anarchist from the X-Statix; Domino from the Mutants with Knives and Blades era; and Peter from our collective all-star team of X-Forcers. This movie is diving balls first into X-history, and we should have a great time doing it.

    Deadpool 2 opens on May 18. The complete schedule of upcoming X-Men movies can be found here.


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    We have exclusive details from Scott Snyder on how the new Justice League series expands on the DC Universe in new and unexpected ways.

    FeatureJim DandyMike Cecchini
    May 11, 2018

    Scott Snyder is probably DC Comics’ heaviest regular hitter working now. He started with the company at Vertigo, winning an Eisner for American Vampire. Then he hit a home run with “The Black Mirror,” a note-perfect Batman story in the pages of Detective Comics, and that led him to become the anchor of the New 52 era of Batman, crafting a defining run with artist Greg Capullo. Then he got to be the mastermind behind DC’s first post-Rebirth crossover, the absolutely bonkers Dark Nights: Metal, a book that, in addition to being ridiculous fun and very personal, also brought the full DC multiverse and all its crazy timelines back into play.

    Now, in the wake of Metal, Snyder is taking over as writer on a new Justice League series. Mr. Snyder talked to us about his approach to breaking his characters down and building them back up and applying it to the League - specifically to The Flash, and the revelation that there’s another fundamental force that Flashes can tap into: the Still Force. 

    With the full cosmic scope of the DC Universe now in the picture, it means a slightly new approach is needed to tell Justice League stories. "The goal with Justice League is to have every arc focus on two characters in the League, even though everybody is sort of in every arc," Snyder tells us. "The goal is to expand everybody's mythology, show how amazing these characters are, and then show you secrets that you didn't know about them and about their mythos."

    Each arc in Justice Leaguewill be four or five issues, allowing different pairings to take the lead. "In the first arc, we're really focused on Green Lantern and Flash," Snyder says. "And one of the things that's huge about our reveals about Flash and how they connect to Flash War is that the Speed Force has embedded within it other forces that have always balanced and counteracted in it ways that Barry has never completely understood."

    In other words, just as Snyder's Batman introduced new elements of Gotham's history to great effect on Bruce Wayne, early on in Justice League we're going to learn something new about the team members and the DCU as a whole. In the case of Flash, it's called the Still Force, and, according to Snyder, it will "have a lot of influence on both where [Barry] goes as a character and also his past."

    "The Still Force is an energy in the universe that's trying to slow everything down entropically, trying to stop everything, trying to bring everything to a standstill," Snyder explains. "And it has its own characters, it has its own figures that are connected to it who might not even know they are. And it's a complete enigma to Barry at this point."

    But as its name suggests, the Still Force isn't something that is exclusive to speedsters. One of the important pieces of Justice League will be the introduction of the Legion of Doom, familiar to longtime fans as the antagonists of the classic Challenge of the Super Friends animated series. And one of that team's members might be particularly suited to harnessing it. "One of Barry's greatest villains, Gorilla Grodd, might have a leg up on him when it comes to figuring out how to control this thing," Snyder hints.

    But the Still Force is only one of the new elements that will be introduced to the DC Universe

    "The idea, really, is to show that these characters think they know their powers, think they know their mythologies, think they know even sometimes their histories and their missions," Snyder says. "And then to sort of blow those things up."

    It won't stop with Flash. Green Lantern mythology is also set to be expanded.

    "We revealed the cover, not long ago, that had Jon Stewart seemingly powered by an invisible emotional spectrum, ultraviolet, infrared, those kinds of powers that have been locked away and possibly known about by Sinestro for a long time," Snyder says. "So similarly, it's almost like with each pair of characters in each arc, we want you to feel as though you're learning things about their mythology you never knew existed, just as they are. They're challenged by bigger forces, bigger enemies, bigger conflicts and bigger mysteries than we've ever tried before with these guys. We want everything to feel new and unfamiliar."

    And part of what makes the DC Universe bigger is its infinite realities approach to storytelling. Dark Nights: Metal opened up DC's multiverse in a way not seen since Grant Morrison's Multiversity, but with Justice League, another wild, alternate timeline/reality warping DC Universe concept will make its return: Hypertime.

    "We have a very big story — not to spoil too much — called the Something of Hypertime," Snyder says. "I don't wanna give away what it is, whether it's like the Death, the Birth, anything like that. But that's coming both in Flash and in Justice League. This is our opus. This is my DC love letter/opus/soap opera that has started all the way back in Batman, but really ratcheted up to the whole DCU in Metal."

    Hints of this are already being seeded in the weekly Justice League: No Justice miniseries, which Snyder is co-writing with James Tynion IV and Josh Williamson.

    "No Justice sets up all the different books and tributaries by which we're going to be continuing it," Snyder says. "We're building out from this so that that story that we're doing in No Justice right now with the Omega Titans, and all of it's starting because the Source Wall broke, Amanda Waller tries to hack Brainiac...all of that stuff plays forward. So when you see Hypertime or one of the four energies, for example, that Brainiac references in No Justice...when that starts to go and what happens to it in No Justice happens, that greatly affects Hypertime, the Speed Force, the Still Force, all of that stuff."

    All of this couldn't be more different than the Gotham-centric mythology Snyder and collaborators built up over five years on Batman. Snyder admits that "Batman will always be my favorite character" but he feels that Justice League is "the heart and soul of the line."

    "Our goal is to be like the DC that you knew and loved and always enjoyed reading about not only is still there, but is invigorated and vibrant and robust and being done in a new way," Snyder says. "So none of it is looking backwards in nostalgia. All of it is like, 'Oh, Hypertime's coming back? Well it's coming back in a new way. Martian Manhunter's back? Well, where has he been?' That's a big story. What happened to Hawkman? Where did he go? In Metal, you saw that he was somewhere trying to find out a secret. Well, here you go. Batman might have to go back to Barbatos, so the Dark Multiverse — now I'm spoiling too far ahead."

    "While I think people have done incredible work on it over the years that I've been at DC, the thing that I've really wanted to bring back is a connectivity and a sort of core-hub feeling that this book lies right at the center of everything you're reading about in other books," Snyder says. "So even though the books function independently — you don't need to read Justice League to know what's happening in Aquaman, what is happening in Aquaman is reflected in Justice League. Our book is sort of, to me, a spotlight on all the great stuff happening around the DCU."

    It turns out that Snyder has known he was taking over Justice League for over a year and he has a story plan that stretches "all the way through the end of 2019." And as you can expect, with each arc, new secrets of the DC Universe will be revealed. 

    "There will be really big points throughout this two-year plan I have on Justice League where the story blows out into other books or gives touch points that these books can react to and build story on if they want," Snyder says. So get ready for potential revelations about Aquaman and Wonder Woman (the focus of the book's second arc) or Superman and Martian Manhunter (the focus of the third arc). 

    "The thing that I felt was missing in some ways from Justice League was the connectivity," Snyder says. "That feeling that they're not just seven big characters that exist on the Watchtower and fight aliens and fight the biggest stuff and wrestle with their role with civilians and all that stuff. I always loved the version where it was like, 'They are the hub and they meet everybody.' In the first issue of Justice League, you're gonna see Vixen and Animal Man and Dr. Fate and Swamp Thing and The Atom. I promise you, you will get how big we're going from page one."

    So it's no accident that the League is once again calling its most familiar headquarters home: The Hall of Justice.

    "The Hall of Justice, to me, is the hub, it is the central core of the Justice League group," Snyder says. "So every group within Justice League — and also just any superhero at all — has access to this, and some of them even have portals to their team bases within the Hall of Justice. We want you to feel like when you pick you a DC book, Justice League speaks to and is connected to all those things that you're enjoying, gives you hints and even drivers towards things that will be happening soon, either because of events in Justice League itself or because of some of the great story planned in the books outside of Justice League."

    One thing that can never be questioned, though, is Snyder's enthusiasm. "This story is going to weave through every Crisis, every historical DC story that we've done, to build to something very special," he promises. "Arc by arc, pair of characters by pair of characters, mythology by mythology, my goal is to have this be my giant DC soap opera opus. I mean, I have no plans after this. If I never made another superhero comic, I want this to be the one I can go out on. This is my dream to get to write this book, and I have such good partners in James Tynion and Josh Williamson, and artistically Jim Cheung and Jorge Jimenez. I have all the tools at my disposal and the partners that inspire me, I feel like, to make something that I hope is the best thing I've ever done in superheros."

    "These are the greatest characters in the world and my favorite people that have ever taken them, like Grant Morrison and others, they go out there and they risk falling on their face to do something really game changing and big. That's my goal."

    Justice League #1 hits on June 6.


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    Marvel's Runaways creators Josh Schwartz & Stephanie Savage will be adapting the novel into an eight-episode limited series.

    News Kayti Burt
    May 11, 2018

    Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, the duo behind Gossip Girl and Marvel's Runaways, are looking to adapt another story for Hulu's streaming platform: John Green's Looking For Alaska. The adaptation will be an eight-episode limited series.

    Looking For Alaska is Green's debut novel, written 13 years ago, before he made it big with The Fault in Our Stars, launched his YouTube channel alongside brother Hank Green, or wrote one of Den of Geek's Favorite Fiction Books of 2017. It won the 2006 Printz Award for its story about a 13-year-old boy who enrolls in boarding school and falls in love with another student by the name of Alaska Young.

    "I was very much included in conversations around how to do this. Should we try to restart the movie, which had stalled so many times? Or should we look to new ways of telling visual stories that made it possible to tell a bigger, sprawlier story?" Green wrote in the Reddit fan thread shortly after the story broke. "I was only one voice in that conversation, but I definitely felt like my voice was heard.” 

    It seems that having The O.C. creator Schwartz on board as both an executive producer and the script of the pilot was particularly helpful for Green in invisioning Looking For Alaska as a TV series rather than a film. (Green's most recent novel, Turtles All the Way Down, may also see a screen.)

    "It has been a very long thirteen years trying to figure out how/whether to adapt Looking for Alaska," wrote Green, "but Josh cared about the book before almost anyone else had even read it, and he and Stephanie have worked so hard to get to this moment, and I am really excited. I know they care a lot about the book and are have worked so hard for the last thirteen years to get it to a good place — and I really think it is finally there. So, I'm hopeful!”

    Schwartz has been attached to the project since Paramount Pictures acquired the rights back in 2005, when the book was first published. Schwartz was originally set to write the screenplay for the feature film, but the project never happened.

    Green seems particularly excited about the narrative space a limited TV series can offer that a feature film, by virtue of its shorter run time, cannot.

    "There have been so many movie scripts over the last thirteen years, and a lot of them have been excellent, but there's only so much you can do in two hours," wrote Green. "In a TV series, even a limited one, you can linger a while longer with the characters."

    John Green's brother, Hank Green, reminisced on Looking For Alaska's long path from book to screen in his most recent vlogbrothers video. Check it out...



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    Meet the Grison. Harley already did, and she's not a fan.

    NewsJim Dandy
    May 14, 2018

    You might be forgiven for looking at these preview pages of Harley Loves Joker #2 and thinking "Oh man, when did Copperhead and Catwoman have a baby?" But you'd be incorrect in thinking that - joining Mistah J, Harley, the henchteam, and the hyenas Bud and Lou is a new villain from Harley's past. That furry lady is The Grison, and she is a weasel-themed crook from Harley's past life, back in college. 

    You can probably tell that this version of Harley and the Joker is more lighthearted than what's in the rest of the DCU. The truth is, Harley Loves Joker is a continuation of a Paul Dini backup from the main Harley Quinn series, and it's been pure, uncut Batman: The Animated Series Harley from the start. This is good, classic storytelling that builds the world while trading with nostalgia in a way that doesn't feel like a cheap substitute for narrative. Dini is a pro.

    Brett Blevins is, too. Blevins has been in and around the Bat-universe for 25 years (also GOOD GOD Knightfall was 25 years ago). He's been a bit of a style chameleon in that time, but when you're a capable draftsman, that's a good thing to be. The man knows how to tell a story, and he knows how to make it look like Batman: The Animated Series while he's doing it.

    The superstar in these pages, though, is Dave Sharpe. Sharpe's letters are fantastic in a way that lettering isn't usually. The emphasis and color he integrates into the word balloons helps make the dialogue come alive. I really like the extra color in the fonts.

    Here's what DC has to say about the issue.

    HARLEY QUINN: HARLEY LOVES JOKER #2
    Written by PAUL DINI • Art by BRET BLEVINS • Cover by AMANDA CONNER • Variant cover by FRANK CHOIn the final issue in this two-issue miniseries, the Harley/Joker crime spree reaches an explosive crescendo—literally! Everything blows up—including, perhaps, their relationship...?

    Take a look at these quality pages.


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    How George Lucas brought Star Wars to the big screen after years of drafts and dealing with Hollywood.

    Feature Ryan Lambie
    May 14, 2018

    Since selling Lucasfilm, George Lucas has been very vocal about why he stopped making Star Warsfilms. The short of it is that making these movies is very hard work, that it takes it toll on a person, and that dealing with public scrutiny while making a film of that magnitude impedes the creative process. And it's a very interesting thing, the creative process behind the Star Wars saga, a franchise that came from the mind of one man, from one evolution of the script to the next. One only has to look at the earliest draft of the original Star Wars movie Lucas wanted to make to see all the work that goes into just writing these movies. That very first draft of the script is almost unrecognizable from what we eventually got on the big screen. 

    It's like Star Wars, but refracted through a strange lens. Here's Han Solo, but he's green, like the Toxic Avenger, and has gills. Here's Luke Skywalker, but he's a powerful general with a white beard and a flinty look in his eye.

    All this can be found in what is now commonly called The Rough Draft of The Star Wars, originally written by George Lucas back in 1974. A kind of mid-point between the somewhat vague ideas Lucas first had for his space fantasy movie earlier in the decade and the fourth draft - which was used as the shooting script for the 1977 film - The Star Wars is a jarring document from the franchise's early history.

    Buy all your Star Wars movies, books, games, comics, and merch here!

    In 2013, Dark Horse produced an eight-part series of comics based on the Rough Draft, adapted by Star Wars historian JW Rinzler and illustrated by Mike Mayhew (no relation). That series has been collected together in one book, and again, it offers an intriguing insight into how Lucas conceived and reworked his ideas, and gradually amalgamated his influences into something new.

    Lucas' lifelong interest in science fiction received its earliest expression in THX-1138, an unsettling dystopian thriller that was initially a 15-minute student film made in 1967 (full title: Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB), and later remade as a feature starring Robert Duvall in 1971. But Lucas really wanted to make something completely different from THX: something more hopeful, more fantastical.

    Although Lucas was left exhausted by the process of making the drama American Graffiti(1972), he continued to think about ideas for a space fantasy epic while that film was in post-production. Star Wars legend tells us that the names of two now famous characters - R2-D2 ("Reel 2, Dialogue 2") and Wookiee - came during the latter stages of American Graffiti's making.

    Made on a tiny budget, coming-of-age drama American Graffitiwas a huge box-office hit, and was nominated for five Oscars. It was that unexpected success which would ultimately give Lucas the creative latitude to make something as risky (and potentially expensive) as Star Wars.

    Lucas' ideas first took shape in The Journal of The Whills. Less than two pages long, and yet to be officially published in full, it introduced a warrior named Mace Windy and a character called Chuiee Two Thorpe being trained as a Jedi-Templar. Even at this early stage, some of the names that would appear in Lucas'Star Wars films had already made their first appearances.

    By May 1973, Lucas had worked up a synopsis for something called The Star Wars. Although influenced by such writers as Frank Herbert (writer of Dune) and EE "Doc" Smith, as well as old Flash Gordon matinee serials, The Star Wars' primary influence was Akira Kurosawa's 1958 film The Hidden Fortress. In fact, Lucas' approach to The Hidden Fortresswasn't unlike The Magnificent Seven, the Western based on Kurosawa's Seven Samurai. Lucas took The Hidden Fortress' story, about a princess and her family escaping from a more powerful rival clan, and turned it into a galactic civil war set in the 33rd century.

    Nevertheless, it was this treatment that, after several unsuccessful attempts to sell the Star Wars concept to other Hollywood studios, finally found interest at 20th Century Fox. There are also signs that the elements which would one day form the big-screen Star Wars are beginning to take shape. There's an evil Empire, a giant space fortress, a general named Luke Skywalker, a planet called Yavin, and a violent confrontation in a space port cantina. As if through a haze of half-formed concepts and borrowed plot elements, something concrete was beginning to coalesce.

    The Rough Draft, completed one year later in May 1974, marked another significant breakthrough for Lucas. Although still some distance from what audiences all over the world would recognize as Star Wars, it's so significant because it's the first properly completed screenplay to emerge from Lucas' typewriter. Sure, it's rough around the edges, with lengthy slabs of scene description and some odd tonal shifts, but there are signs everywhere that the pieces are beginning to move into place. The draft also marks the first appearance of the now-famous opening text crawl:

    "Until the recent GREAT REBELLION, the JEDI BENDU were the most feared warriors in the universe. For one hundred thousand years, generations of JEDI perfected their art as the personal bodyguards of the emperor..."

    Kane Starkiller is one of the last of these Jedi Bendu. Hiding from the now evil Empire and their allies, the Sith, Starkiller lives in hiding with his two sons, 10-year-old Deak and 18-year-old Annakin, on the Fourth Moon of Utapau. AsThe Star Wars opens, the Starkillers are found by the Empire and attacked by a deadly member of the Sith. Although the Sith warrior is no match for Kane Starkiller's superior fighting skills, the villain succeeds in killing his 10-year-old son. 

    Their cover blown, Kane and Annakin head to Aquilae, where the fellow Jedi, general Luke Skywalker, is about to engage in a full-blown confrontation with the invading Empire and their colossal space fortress. Annakin, a talented but somewhat callow youth, must learn to master his Jedi training and help rescue Princess Leia, whom the Empire has kidnapped with a view to using her as a means of controlling the people of Aquilae.

    Whether you read the original screenplay or Dark Horse's comic book adaptation, there are at least two striking things about The Rough Draft. The first is just how hard-edged it is: sure, it's a space opera, but the tone's closer to something like Dunethan a fairytale set in space. Although a little of this draft's harshness and violence remained in 1977's Star Wars - the horrifyingly casual deaths of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, the blood-spattered severed arm in the Mos Eisley cantina - we can only imagine what young audience members would have made of seeing a 10-year-old boy mercilessly slain by the Sith in the opening five minutes.

    The second thing to note is the sheer number of characters Lucas stuffs into his 129-page script. While some are recognizable and quite likable - not least Han Solo, who's the same cynical rogue we all know and remember, despite his frog-like appearance - others are downright bewildering. There are two seasoned Jedi (Kane Starkiller and Luke Skywalker), Princess Leia's extended royal family (including two young brothers called Biggs and Windy), a young rebel spy named Whitsun, and numerous other bit-players and nefarious villains. 

    Despite his name, Annakin is the closest thing we have to a proper Luke Skywalker - he's a young Jedi with much to learn, and proves himself to be quite a hero by the story's end. But he's also a difficult character to like: witness, for example, the moment where he first meets Princess Leia, who initially refuses to be rescued. Annakin's solution? A solid punch in the face. ("Starkiller punches her square on the jaw and knocks her out cold.")

    Lucas would be the first to admit that he struggled with writing screenplays, and the stress of the whole process often made him feel quite ill. There's a sense, going through The Rough Draft, of a writer feeling his way around his subject, of having certain scenes clear in his mind - an assault on a battle station, laser sword fights, and so forth - but not the tone.

    The Rough Draft also suffers for the lack of a specific point of view, with the action frequently chopping between different sets of characters without a solid protagonist at the story's core. R2-D2 and C3PO are in here somewhere, but Lucas hasn't yet made them the audience's waypoint into the saga, as he would in the second draft (another idea inspired by The Hidden Fortress). Their distinct personalities aren't in place yet, either. Instead of the plucky, bleepy R2 and the cowardly yet earnest Threepio, we get a pair of bickering robots who are both as infuriating as each other. Reading The Rough Draft for the first time, it's quite a surprise to see Artoo (or Artwo, as it's spelled here) speaking English ("You're nothing but a dim-witted, emotion-brained intellectual!"). 

    The more endearing nuances of Lucas' characters didn't appear until later. The comedy pairing of R2-D2 and C3PO worked so well in the final film because R2-D2's cheerful whistles and chirps (not to mention bravery) served as a counterpoint to C3PO's whining verbosity. Similarly, Princess Leia needs the now-familiar hint of saltiness and sarcasm to really make her character resonate - in The Rough Draft, she's little more than a stubborn love interest for Annakin.

    Having said all this, The Rough Draft, particularly in the form presented by Dark Horse's comics, really begins to pick up pace towards the second half, and it's exciting to see how many of the action scenes already appear here in nascent form. There's a moment of peril in a trash compactor, a rip-roaring space battle, and fights between Wookiees and the Empire (a clear precursor to the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi).

    Lucas' friend and mentor Francis Ford Coppola liked this latest draft, yet Lucas clearly realized that his story was still too dense - or, at the very least, too expensive to shoot. In subsequent drafts, Lucas juggled around character traits and names, taking the attributes of Kane Starkiller, with his largely robotic body, and applying them to Darth Vader. He gradually chopped away extraneous characters and chunks of plot, too, such as the somewhat odd strand that sees the young boys Biggs and Windy put into hypersleep and ferried around the galaxy hidden in oval metal containers. 

    Through repeated rewriting and reordering, Lucas gradually drew closer to the Star Wars we recognize today. The second draft, published in 1975, reintroduces Han Solo and Chewbacca as friends and renegade pilots, Luke Skywalker as an ordinary farm boy rather than a grizzled general, and Darth Vader as the black-clad Lord of the Sith. Draft three, subtitled From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller, brings in Obi-Wan Kenobi and generally tightens up the story and the depictions of the characters - the sniping banter between Leia and Han Solo, for example, is now present and correct.

    It was The Rough Draft, however, that provided Lucas with the road map to Star Wars' future. Although certain ideas were edited out for what would ultimately become Star Wars' shooting script, they would turn up again later on. Annikin's depiction as a somewhat aggressive young upstart would be reprised in the Anakin character we'd see in the Star Wars prequels, and The Rough Draft's bearded general Luke Skywalker is markedly similar to the young Obi-Wan in the prequels, too.

    The Dark Horse adaptation of The Rough Draft, with its design work inspired from Ralph McQuarrie's early production art, is a fascinating entry point to Star Wars' creative development. Through it, we can see how Lucas was slowly working out how he could make a modern fairytale with a technological edge, blending eastern religious ideas with classical myths and pulp sci-fi action.

    As an early version of Star Wars' oft-repeated motto proves - "May the force of others be with you" - Lucas still had a lot of work still to do. But The Rough Draft provided a solid foundation on which the now iconic franchise could be built.


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

    News Jim Dandy
    May 14, 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, it's finally happening, after a series order from Syfy.

    The graphic novels, which debuted for Image Comics back in 2014, follow 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.

    Deadly Class TV Trailer

    We've got a first look at the Deadly Class TV series and, well, it looks amazing: visually sleek, stylistically edgy, and like nothing else on TV. Check out the first look, along with accompanying commentary from the Russo brothers...

    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.”

    Deadly Class TV Release Date

    So far, all we know is that the Deadly Class TV show will drop sometime in 2019, but we'll keep you updated with additional information as we get it.

    Deadly Class TV Cast

    Syfy revealed the full Deadly Class 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. 


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    Syfy is adapting George R.R. Martin’s novella and 1987 movie, Nightflyers, as a TV series.

    News Joseph Baxter
    May 14, 2018

    "Nightflyers is a haunted house story on a starship. It's Psycho in space." - George R.R. Martin

    Nightflyers stands as one of George R.R. Martin’s more intriguing pre-Game of Thrones space science-fiction offerings, starting as a 1980 novella, eventually inspiring a schlocky limited-release 1987 film adaptation. However, it appears that the Literary God of Death’s old property is about to be reincarnated as a television series over at Syfy. 

    Last year, the genre-aimed NBCU cable outlet ordered a pilot for Nightflyers, which has since expanded into a series pickup (Netflix has first run rights outside the U.S.). Additionally, Nightflyers recently received a bountiful boon of €850,000 ($1.1 million,) from the Irish Film Board and will soon begin filming at Limerick’s Troy Studios.

    Nightflyers Trailer

    Amongst the array of news unleashed upon the Radio City Music Hall audience for NBC's Upfront presentation on May 14 was this new teaser for Nightflyers. The footage, while brief, is an intense sampling of what we can expect from this horror-leaning space series (which may also be bittersweet for fans of Syfy's recently-cancelled The Expanse).

    If that teaser left you wanting more, then check out this recent trailer/featurette below.

    Syfy released the first Nightflyers trailer (well, a "First Look" clip, anyway,) back in March, providing some genuinely frightening visuals featuring the wayward crew of the titular ship. However, the clip also provides a behind-the-scenes look, revealing the sheer magnitude of the production, with sets that range from claustrophobic to shockingly sublime. 

    Per the official synopsis:

    NIGHTFLYERS follows eight maverick scientists and a powerful telepath who embark on an expedition to the edge of our solar system aboard The Nightflyer – a ship with a small tightknit crew and a reclusive captain – in the hope of making contact with alien life. But when terrifying and violent events begin to take place they start to question each other – and surviving the journey proves harder than anyone thought.

    A bit of recent Nightflyers news saw a new occupant ascend to the proverbial Iron Throne of the George R.R. Martin adaptation series. That’s because its appointed showrunner, Daniel Cerone, dropped out of the series, reportedly over creative differences, says THR.

    Jeff Buhler, will step in as showrunner, likely signaling a smooth transition, since he’s been with the project since the very beginning as its writer and executive producer. Buhler wrote the 2008 Bradley Cooper-starring horror film The Midnight Meat Train, with movie projects in the pipeline such as Descendant, Black River and horror thriller remake film Jacob’s Ladder, as well as a revival of horror film franchise The Grudge.

    Moreover, to ensure said smooth series transition, Syfy is reportedly bringing onboard (as a consultant,) Terry Matalas, writer and co-creator of the cable channel’s imminently-ending series, 12 Monkeys, who also brings experience from his time on Nikita, Terra Nova, Star Trek: Enterprise and Star Trek: Voyager.

    Nightflyers Cast

    Phillip Rhys is the latest addition to the Nightflyers cast, reports Deadline. Rhys will recur on the series as Murphy, who is described as “a top systems tech engineer” who become inconsolably disturbed upon learning that “an L-1 telepath” is amongst the Nightflyer’s complement.

    Rhys, an English actor, appeared in the 2015 Doctor Who Christmas special as Ramone, one of the episode’s titular “Husbands of River Song.” He’s also fielded TV runs on 24, Nip/Tuck and Survivors, along with guest spots on Rosewood, Glee, CSI, Bones and Warehouse 13.

    With Syfy's early-January announcement of Nightflyers’ full series order came the reveal of the show’s cast.

    Gretchen Mol will headline the series, playing Dr. Agatha Matheson.

    Mol, who burst on the scene as a late-1990s it-girl from roles in Donnie Brasco, Rounders and The Thirteenth Floor, and steamed up the small screen in the 2005 HBO biopic, The Notorious Bettie Page, has made her presence known with recent television runs on Chance, Mozart in the Jungle and Boardwalk Empire. She notably appeared in last year’s Oscars-accruing drama, Manchester by the Sea. She's also booked to appear in the upcoming USA drama series Yellowstone.

    And here’s the supporting cast:

    Eoin Macken (The Night Shift) as Karl D’Branin

    David Ajala (Fast & Furious 6) as Roy Eris

    Sam Strike (EastEnders) as Thale

    Maya Eshet (Teen Wolf) as Lommie

    Angus Sampson (Fargo) as Rowan

    Jodie Turner-Smith (The Last Ship) as Melantha Jhirl

    Brían F. O'Byrne (Million Dollar Baby) as Auggie

    Nightflyers Details

    Jeff Buhler, of The Midnight Meat Train and the upcoming horror thriller remake Jacob’s Ladder is the showrunner; a position to which he was promoted, after Daniel Cerone (The Blacklist, The Mentalist) dropped out.

    Mike Cahill (I Origin) will direct the pilot.

    Onboard as executive producers are Gene Klein, David Bartis and Edge of Tomorrow and The Bourne Identity franchise blockbuster director Doug Liman, all of whom are representing production company Hypnotic, which Liman co-owns with Bartis. Alison Rosenzweig and Michael Gaeta of Gaeta Rosenzweig Films along with Lloyd Ivan Miller and Alice P. Neuhauser of Lloyd Ivan Miller Productions are also onboard. 

    Netflix is also a co-producer on the Syfy project; a privilege that will yield the streaming giant first-run rights outside the U.S.

    Additionally, George R.R. Martin himself will be a credited executive producer on the series.

    “We are looking forward to diving deeper into George R. R. Martin’s chilling world of Nightflyers,” Bill McGoldrick, executive vice president of scripted development for NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, said in a July statement. “The script that Jeff delivered encapsulates this classic sci-fi horror story and adapts it to a platform where we can truly explore the depths of madness.”

    Robert Jaffe, who wrote the screenplay for the 1987 Nightflyers film, is onboard the series as a producer. It doesn't look like Martin will be involved with the series, at least for now.

    The story of the George R.R. Martin-conceived supernatural space thriller is set on the eve of Earth’s destruction, depicting the travails of the crew of the most advanced ship in the galaxy in the titular spacecraft the Nightflyer. Adrift in space without a planet to call home, the goal of the surviving humans is to intercept a mysterious alien ship which is believed to hold the key for their survival. However, as the ship closes in on its destination, it becomes apparent that the Nightflyer’s onboard AI and its elusive captain – with mysterious motivations – may be leading the crew on a primrose path ending in the hopeless, horrific darkness of deep space.

    The genesis of Nightflyers occurred with George R.R. Martin’s original 1980 novella of the same name, for which he received Japan’s Seiun Award in 1983 for Best Foreign Language Short Story of the Year. The story was subsequently collected as the title entry in Martin’s 1985 Nightflyers collection. The 1987 film adaptation, directed by Robert Collector (Jungle Warriors), starred perennial 1980s movie love interest Catherine Mary Stewart and Dynasty’s Michael Praed, manifesting with a limited release that grossed a paltry $1.145 million dollars at the box office (and sent Martin back to television to write for Beauty and the Beast).

    Nightflyers Release Date

    Nightflyers has yet to set a release date. However, the series is currently in the midst of production in Ireland.


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    While Lauren Cohan will return for The Walking Dead Season 9, she’s also co-starring in ABC crime series Whiskey Cavalier.

    News Joseph Baxter
    May 14, 2018

    The Walking Dead actress Lauren Cohan is on the verge of expanding her television presence in a big way. Not only is Cohan booked to return for Season 9 of the veteran AMC zombie series, but this fall she will co-star in a high-profile ABC crime-solving series called Whiskey Cavalier. However, as details start becoming clearer, the likelihood of Cohan reaching an impasse between the shows seems to increase.

    Fans who were worried that Cohan’s Whiskey Cavalier ABC television gig might jeopardize her role on The Walking Dead– on which she has played Maggie Greene/Rhee since 2011, in Season 2 – were relieved in late-April when the actress confirmed her return for Season 9 at CinemaCon in Las Vegas. However, in the most recent development, ABC has announced a full series pickup for Whiskey, on which Cohan will co-star with Scott Foley as a team of inter-agency crime-stoppers who are forced to work together (fighting obligatory sexual tensions,) to save the world from non-zombie threats on a weekly basis.

    So, what’s the big deal? Well, for one thing, Cohan’s The Walking Dead Season 9 commitment only extends to six episodes of the first half, which leaves plenty of time for the series to find an appropriate exit for Lauren Cohan’s Maggie. Thus, a Maggie exit not outside the realm of possibility after the series just – in a manner dramatically anachronistic to the comic book source material – made a casualty of Chandler Rigg’s (series co-protagonist,) Carl Grimes. Also exacerbating the situation is the arrival of The Walking Dead’s new showrunner, Angela Kang, who might utilize Cohan’s network gig as the perfect excuse to refresh the veteran AMC series – especially in the wake of its highly-publicized ratings plunge– by ushering Maggie off the proverbial stage after her nearly-series-long arc has arguably reached an acceptable apex with the death of Glenn and her ascension to leadership in the Hilltop colony.  

    Interestingly, while Cohan’s The Walking Dead 9B future is uncertain, there would be plenty of comic book-inspired events for Maggie to field in the event that Cohan renegotiates with AMC. Indeed, the closing moments of the recently-aired Season 8 finale even teased a feud amongst former friends, with Maggie left disappointed after Rick’s newfound appreciation for mercy had to start with her husband Glenn’s killer, Negan. Now, joined by Daryl and Jesus, Maggie’s planning a stealthy insurrection against Rick to achieve proper satisfaction against Negan; something that should provide plenty of Season 9 drama.  

    Moreover, Season 8 seemed to be running a slow-burn story element that (slightly) hints of chemistry of some kind between the widowed Maggie and the (seemingly reasonable, non-hostile,) Savior prisoner, Alden (Callan McAuliffe), with a level of trust and respect continuing to increase between the two. With McAuliffe confirmed to return for Season 9, it could be the case (and this is major speculation here,) that Alden might eventually serve as the TV series equivalent of the comic book character, Dante, with whom Maggie would eventually (after a long period of coldness,) strike up an awkward romance.

    From a practical perspective, Cohan – a veteran of shows such as Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries and Chuck – could field double-duty on both The Walking Dead and Whiskey Cavalier, especially since the former is a large ensemble series that doesn't require her constant presence, often utilizing character-centric episodes. Yet, should Cohan’s Whiskey Cavalier series end up becoming a ratings success story for ABC, then just about any long-term post-All-Out-War twist for Maggie’s arc could end up feeling like afterthought; something that just wouldn’t be all that helpful to a show like The Walking Dead, which is trying to find its mojo.

    Regardless, we’ll definitely know a lot more about The Walking Dead Season 9 situation by the time Comic-Con kicks off on July 19.


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    Get your first look at the new Dark Horse Zelda book dedicated to Breath of the Wild in this exclusive preview!

    News Matthew Byrd
    May 14, 2018

    Dark Horse has announced a new art book that serves as the ultimate companion piece to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Titled The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - Creating a Champion, this massive hardcover art book is loaded with information and artwork related to the creation of Breath of the Wild's main adventure and its DLC expansions.

    Along with a stunning 296 pages of design artwork and commentary straight from the game's development team, this book includes 50 pages of sketches and official illustrations from Takumi Wada (the Zelda franchise's main illustrator since Skyward Sword) and 55 pages of history that dives into the in-game mythology of Hyrule and the rest of the series stunning world. 

    Check out the Logitech G560 LIGHTSYNC PC Gaming Speakers, A New Level of Immersion

    On top of all that, Creating a Champion features interviews with key members of the Breath of the Wild development team, such as art director Satoru Takizawa, producer Eiji Aonuma, and director Hidemaro Fujibayashi. Takumi Wada is also responsible for the book's lovely cover art. 

    Creating a Champion is set to release on Nov. 20. This 424-page collection is available for pre-order at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, TFAW, and local comic book stores and will retail for $39.99. 

    This certainly isn't the first time that Dark Horse and Nintendo have teamed up to publish a massive volume of art and interviews dedicated to the Zeldafranchise. Previous volumes such as The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia, The Legend of Zelda: Art & Artifacts, and The Legend of Zelda Encyclopedia have been widely praised for their stunning designs and wealth of content. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - Creating a Champion certainly looks like it's ready to achieve similar acclaim. 

    To help tide you over until the release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - Creating a Champion, we've got a few exclusive pages from the upcoming book to share with you. Be sure to check those out in the gallery above!


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    A Doom Patrol live-action TV series is coming to DC's digital streaming service!

    News John Saavedra
    May 14, 2018

    The weirdest team in all of comics is getting a live-action TV series, thanks to DC TV mastermind Greg Berlanti. The Doom Patrol, which is set to first be introduced on the upcoming Titans TV show, will spin off into its own series on the DC Universe digital service. Doom Patrolhas received a 13-episode, straight-to-series order.

    Doom Patrol is written by Supernatural's Jeremy Carver, who will also exec produce with Berlanti and DC Entertainment president Geoff Johns. The series will begin production this year and debut in 2019.

    Here's the title card:

    According to the press release, Doom Patrol is a re-imagining of DC’s most beloved group of outcast superheroes: Robotman, Negative Man, Elasti-Girl and Crazy Jane, led by modern-day mad scientist Dr. Niles Caulder (The Chief). The Doom Patrol's members each suffered horrible accidents that gave them superhuman abilities — but also left them scarred and disfigured.

    Traumatized and downtrodden, the team found purpose through The Chief, who brought them together to investigate the weirdest phenomena in existence — and to protect Earth from what they find. Part support group, part superhero team, the Doom Patrol is a band of super-powered freaks who fight for a world that wants nothing to do with them.

    Picking up after the events of Titans, Doom Patrol will find these reluctant heroes in a place they never expected to be, called to action by none other than Cyborg, who comes to them with a mission hard to refuse, but with a warning that is hard to ignore: their lives will never, ever be the same. 

    The cast includes Bruno Bichir as The Chief, April Bowlby as Elasti-Girl, Jake Michaels as Robotman, and Dwain Murphy as Negative Man.

    It looks like the show will follow the same ethos from the original comics in that the Doom Patrol will take on a mission that's just too weird for the Justice League. The team was created by Arnold Drake, Bob Haney and Bruno Premiani.

    Wel'll keep you updated as we learn more!


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    The world’s press loses an iconic Gonzo journalist as Tom Wolfe passes at age 88.

    News Tony Sokol
    May 15, 2018

    New Journalism pioneer Tom Wolfe, who wrote The Right Stuff and The Bonfire of the Vanities, died of pneumonia in a New York hospital at age 88, according to Variety. The news was announced by Wolfe’s long-time agent Lynn Nesbit.

    Born in Richmond, Virginia, on March 2, 1930, Wolfe was a star baseball player at his high school and also edited its newspaper. He graduated Washington and Lee University, after he’d turned down Princeton University. The author and journalist started as a regional newspaper reporter at Massachusetts’ Springfield Union before moving onto The Washington Post. He moved to New York join the New York Herald-Tribune in in 1962.

    Wolfe first came to national prominence after publishing The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, which followed Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, in the 1960s. He cemented his reputation with Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers and The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, collections of his articles and essays. He also edited a volume of work by writers Truman Capote, Joan Didion, Hunter S. Thompson, Norman Mailer and George Plimpton, titled The New Journalism.

    New Journalism mixed traditional journalism for stylized journalism, and “saturation reporting,” where a reporter would shadow the subject, observes them over an extended period of time. From 1965 to 1981 Mr. Wolfe produced nine nonfiction books. In 1979, he published the book The Right Stuff about the Mercury Seven astronauts. The book was made into the 1983 film of the same name, which was directed by Philip Kaufman.

    “He was a very courageous guy,” Gay Talese, a New Journalism pioneer, said, according to The Wall Street Journal. He “already was celebrated for his journalism and nonfiction when, “What does he do? He goes out and writes a best-selling novel.” Wolfe’s first fiction novel, The Bonfire of the Vanities, was published in 1987. Brian De Palma adapted it to film. It took him 11 years to finish his second novel, A Man in Full, which was published in 1998.

    Wolfe critiqued art critics in The Painted Word in 1975, and the architectural decline in From Bauhaus to Our House in 1981. He published The Kingdom of Speech, which elicited controversy over his criticism of Charles Darwin and Noam Chomsky’s works in 2016.

    Wolfe, who coined the term “the me decade” for the 1970s and “radical chic,” was also known for the distinctive tailored white suits he started wearing in 1962. He is remembered for his sense of humor and his penchant for needling sacred cows. He is survived by his wife Sheila, the cover designer for Harper's Magazine, his daughter Alexandra, and son Tommy.


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    DC has just tweaked Batman's origin story with a tragic new detail about Bruce Wayne...

    News John Saavedra
    May 16, 2018

    This Batman article contains spoilers.

    Tom King and Tony S. Daniel's ambitious Batman time travel romp featuring Booster Gold comes to an end today with issue #47. Indeed, "The Gift" gives us a three-year slice of a timeline in which Bruce Wayne never became Batman, thanks to an incredibly ill-informed wedding gift from Booster. (In case you missed it, Batman and Catwoman are getting married!)

    The zany time traveler from the 25th century decides to one-up all other gifts by going to the past and saving Bruce's parents. We never see this happen in the actual story, but we can assume Booster stopped the Waynes from ever running into Joe Chill. (This is important and we'll return to it in a bit.)

    As you might expect, this completely changes the course of history. Alternate Bruce lives happily with his parents in Wayne Manor while Gotham City's crime-infested streets continue to rot. Booster's gift affects all of Bruce's extended family, too: Dick Grayson has become a more violent, gun-toting Dark Knight who regularly kills his enemies; a Jokerized Green Lantern commits suicide; Catwoman is a serial killer who doesn't speak beyond the occasional "meow"; and the world is basically run by Ra's al Ghul (this last bit ends up being a bit of a hanging plot thread). 

    Basically, things are terrible and only Booster can change things back. He hatches a plan to persuade Bruce to become Batman again by first telling him about the REAL timeline (this doesn't go very well) and then by orchestrating a meet-cute between Bruce and Selina. Their meeting results in a bloodbath inside of Wayne Manor that forces Bruce to experience a whole new trauma that effectively turns him into a villain. Thomas and Martha Wayne, Catwoman, and Batman (Dick Grayson) all die in the disastrous encounter.

    This week's issue picks up a year later. Bruce has hatched his own plan to travel back in time and save his parents from the massacre in Wayne Manor. But he needs Booster Gold, whom he's kept chained up in a cave below the house, to help him, though. 

    Booster manages to trick Bruce into going back to the fateful night in Crime Alley that he disrupted in the first place. Booster and Bruce land on a rooftop just as the Waynes are leaving a movie theater after a showing of The Mark of Zorro.

    Alternate Bruce threatens to kill Booster for tricking him, as the Waynes walk towards their imminent doom below. Just as Bruce is about to pull the trigger on the time traveler, Booster Gold from the past (the one who saved Bruce's parents in the first place) shows up and saves future Booster. Bruce shoots at Past Booster and the shots ring out in the night.  This is where things get REALLY messed up and timey wimey. (Bear with me while I make sense of all this!)

    It's the sound of the gunshots that persuades the Waynes to take a shortcut through an alleyway, which paves the way for their fateful meeting with Joe Chill. So King and Daniel, Gotham's cruel puppeteers, set the infamous origin of Batman in motion while adding a tragic new detail: an alternate Bruce Wayne from the future -- one who had everything, including the love of his parents -- indirectly causes the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne and the birth of the Dark Knight in the past. 

    To make matters worse, Alternate Bruce is forced to watch from a rooftop as his parents are murdered in cold blood, this time in the correct timeline. The trauma is too much for Bruce, who turns a gun on himself and commits suicide. In the end, all of this blood is on a traumatized Booster Gold's hands.

    The final page of the issue shows a remorseful Booster recounting his adventure to Batman and Catwoman (the REAL Bat and Cat this time). Booster tells the Dark Knight all about the alternate timeline where Bruce Wayne was happy and surrounded by the love and warmth of the parents he cherished.  

    Masquerading as a lighthearted romp through time -- the tone of this story is BRILLIANT -- "The Gift" turns out to be one of the darkest versions of Batman's origin ever put on the page. If you've not been following King's run for the last 47 issues, this story is also pretty new reader friendly and basically standalone. Pick up issues #45-47 while they're still available at your local comic book store!


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    When Deadpool's sales hit rock bottom, he was replaced by the mysterious Alex Hayden. Here's the story of the forgotten Agent X.

    FeatureGavin Jasper
    May 17, 2018
    “What about Agent X – wanna tell them about him?”

    “He’s pretty much an Earth-2 copy of me. And not nearly as funny.”

    -- Weasel and Deadpool, Cable/Deadpool #38 recap page

    As it is right now, with all the various Deadpool series and general emphasis on the character going around Marvel, one of the more interesting concepts is the Mercs for Money. Deadpool runs his own mercenary franchise with a bunch of B and C-listers and each one appears to relate to Deadpool in some way. There’s the living cartoon character, the down-on-his-luck mercenary, the murderer who wants more out of life, the good man corrupted by a world of violence, the hideous sideshow freak, and the competent hero that everyone thinks is a joke.

    Considering it came right after the big “Death of Deadpool” fake-out, it reminds me of the whole Reign of The Supermen storyline that followed Superman's "death" and resurrection in the '90s. Coincidentally, Frank Tieri actually did write a Deadpool parody of that whole Superman saga. It was called Funeral for a Freak and it very easily could have killed the character for good. By that I mean killing people's actual interest in Deadpool, thereby forcing him into obscurity like the other members of Mercs for Money.

    Joe Kelly really springboarded Deadpool into relative popularity in the late-90s, but the writers that followed couldn’t really keep the ball rolling all too well. There were good stories and good characters thrown in, but nothing that made it must-read. By the time Frank Tieri’s run was going on, sales were in the toilet and Deadpoolwas doomed to cancellation. The fact that Funeral for a Freakwas too on the nose, hollow, and featured the most insulting finale didn’t help.

    Luckily, he was immediately followed by the short-but-memorable era of Gail Simone, UDON, and the creation of Agent X. Granted, it didn’t exactly help the sales, but it did give the Deadpool corner of the Marvel Universe a much-needed critical shot in the arm that helped keep the property afloat. It kept him alive as a cult favorite, which eventually caused him to become a mainstream hit years later. Even with only five issues to her name, Simone’s run on Deadpoolis considered one of the all-time best.

    The funny thing is, the basic idea is the same as Tieri’s run. Simone wrote a Deadpool version of Death and Return of Superman, whether she intended to or not. Personally, I love that big Superman arc and much of it comes from the “Return” aspect. With our hero dead and gone, the replacement characters created a strong mystery rooted in a ridiculous, sci-fi superhero world. Which of these guys was the real Superman? Were any of them the real Superman? If none of them were, then where was the body? If at least three of these Supermen weren’t the real deal, then what were they?

    Once the dust was settled, it led to a handful of new characters. It was great.

    While Tieri wrote a storyline based on the idea of introducing one-note copies of Wade (Superhero Deadpool, Psychopath Deadpool, Vigilante Deadpool, and Pop-Culture Superstar Deadpool), it was nothing but a big reference with a genie being shoved back into the bottle by the end of the story. Simone actually followed up on what made Death and Return of Superman so interesting in the first place and applied it to Deadpool.

    The real beginning came just a month before Simone took over Deadpool. Taskmaster, the Marvel mercenary and occasional Deadpool foe with photogenic reflexes, got his own four-issue miniseries in 2002. It was written by Ken Siu-Chong (the guy who does all those Street Fighter comics) and drawn by UDON, which is basically more of a studio house style put together by various artists, though mainly Alvin Lee.

    Taskmaster was always just a plug-in villain for nearly any hero and Marvel finally decided to give him a little spotlight and a redesign. No longer did he look like Swashbuckling Skeletor. Instead, he was Skull Man from Mega Man 4 joining the SWAT Team. Otherwise, the series played up his kickass power set. Any human motion seen by Taskmaster is immediately remembered so that he can copy it without training. While stories have always played up his ability to shadow the skills of Captain America and Hawkeye, this one got more creative with it by going deeper, showing his personal life and the fact that he can also use his power to be a great chef or dancer.

    More importantly, it introduced a character named Sandi Brandenberg. Sandi acted as just a normal, rather one-dimensional woman for Taskmaster (or Tony Masters) to try and seduce. The kind of romantic interest who shows up simply so the protagonist can realize that he can never live a normal life blah blah blah. She ended up getting shot and was last shown in the hospital thanks to the bad guys of the mini.

    Curiously, the first issue featured a look at Taskmaster’s email inbox, which included something coming from “Deadpool, Inc.” A little bit of foreshadowing there.

    Anyway, in 2002 we got Deadpool #65, by the creative team of Gail Simone and UDON. It began with a flashback to a meeting between four Japanese gangs called the Four Winds. Deadpool was hired by one leader to pull a hit on another, but things went astray when fighting with one of the henchmen. Deadpool got knocked through the sunroof and flailed around with his gun on the way down. Miraculously, he killed all four leaders (including the one he was hired by) and cheesed it to freedom. As he ran off, that one goon he battled, later identified as Nijo, looked on in anger.

    Also in the background in all of this was Black Swan, a well-dressed German man with a gun in hand.

    The hit, which had one-in-a-million odds, made Deadpool a legend in his field. He became so successful and so in-demand that he stepped up his game and made his operation a bit more professional, changing it to Deadpool, Inc. and hiring a personal assistant who happened to be none other than Sandi.

    He also ended up hiring a stray, mentally-broken homeless man known only as Ratbag to be his biographer. Ratbag’s inclusion in the run mostly came off as a borderline mean-spirited series of jokes that paid off in one of Deadpool’s best character moments.

    Also of note was a character who showed up briefly a couple times named Outlaw. A scantily-clad cowgirl mercenary, Outlaw appeared to have a physical interest in Deadpool, though became irate whenever anyone called her by her nickname “Crazy Ines.” This was more about world-building than anything else.

    The overarching plot of the five-issue run was about Deadpool being accosted by an annoyed Black Swan, whose power was being a “brain hacker.” He put a virus in Deadpool’s brain that slowly caused his mind to collapse upon itself. He’d forget words, gradually lose his motor skills, and would suffer constant migraines. Physically, he could come back from any wound, but with his mind falling to pieces, what good would it do?

    Meanwhile, Nijo was working as an agent of Black Swan. He wanted revenge on Deadpool for killing his brother (one of the mob bosses), though when Swan told him to kill a hospitalized Sandi, he outright refused as his beef was only with Deadpool.

    While having his own set of adventures, which included Dazzler, shrinking Rhino and keeping him on a keychain, and other weirdness, Deadpool was able to get some intel on Black Swan via a Taskmaster guest appearance (Sandi using her connections). He headed to Black Swan’s stronghold for the final battle.

    In this final showdown, a few notable things happened. First, Black Swan turned on Nijo and impaled him with a sword. As he explained it, Swan was the one who shot all those mobsters (including Nijo’s brother) as his magnum opus final assassination, but Deadpool got the credit and that pissed him off.

    Deadpool brought a bomb with him with a deactivation code that only he knew. At first, he forced Black Swan to fix Ratbag’s head. A sane Ratbag ran off, leaving Deadpool and Black Swan to have a sword fight. Black Swan kept trying to search Deadpool’s mind for the code to stop the bomb, but Deadpool pulled an Ang Lee Hulkand force-fed Black Swan the full contents. Deadpool’s insanity proved too much and took him out of the fight.

    Unfortunately, Deadpool’s bomb then went off, ending the series with the apparent death of our hero. Still, at least his series ended on #69. Wade would have appreciated that.

    Luckily, the final page claimed to not be the end and mentioned that the same creative team would return in two weeks with Agent X #1. Curiously, the cover for Agent X #1 looked an awful lot like Deadpool #69.

    The series began with Sandi parking her car in her apartment complex, only to be accosted by a half-dead man covered in scars. And not the Wade Wilson “body covered in burned sores” way, but “scratches all over like he just went a couple rounds against Wolverine and Sabretooth.” Not to mention the skin tone of a cadaver. Sandi fed the man out of the kindness of her heart, but soon found herself intrigued.

    He had amnesia, yet inexplicably had this innate knowledge of Sandi and a feeling to seek her out. He had a healing factor and a talkative personality, making him seem extremely familiar. More than anything else, he got to stick around due to his deep need to be the best mercenary ever. Sandi – who didn’t want to go back to being exotic dancer “Sondra” – decided she wanted to still make money through running a mercenary business.

    Due to the amnesia, the stranger decided to name himself Alex Hayden. Although he couldn’t figure out where he even came up with such a name.

    The first six issues acted as an introductory arc. Taskmaster was brought in to train Alex upon Sandi’s wishes, but he figured Alex was bad news and proceeded to brutalize him on a regular basis. Outlaw was brought in to train him in gunplay, leading to an adventure where they went from being rivals to romantic partners.

    But of course, the Death and Return of Supermanmystery was there. Was Alex Hayden actually Deadpool? Sandi figured it was likely and tried to jog his memory to no avail. Taskmaster was sure he was Wade, figuring he was messing with everyone for some reason. Outlaw didn’t think he was because Alex’s skills with a gun were way better than Deadpool’s ever was.

    There were all these little hints and clues tossed in throughout the story. Alex had a personality very similar to Deadpool’s, but he seemed a little more grounded. At times, he would come off as more gentlemanly and high-class. He was ambidextrous. In one scene, he beat up Taskmaster and Taskmaster made it a point to mention that there was something preventing him from copying Alex’s moves.

    Similarly, the series introduced a mutant teen girl named Mary Zero whose power was the inability to be perceived or remembered. No matter what she did, nobody noticed her existence, giving her free reign to do whatever she wanted. Alex, for some reason, was able to see and communicate with her.

    Now, there was one huge, obvious hint buried in the art. Sometimes in comic art – especially in manga art, which UDON is inspired by – it’s not especially easy to immediately tell the difference between a white person and an Asian person. This would be one of those instances as Alex Hayden is Japanese. You’d think Sandi and Taskmaster would have pointed out, “Hey, we know for a fact that Wade Wilson’s definitely not Japanese,” but that would have pretty much given away Alex’s identity to the reader.

    Plus maybe Wade had an image inducer up his butt or something. Wouldn’t put it past him, really.

    Alex’s attempt to make a name for himself led to him being paid for his first job with an abandoned amusement park. He made it the headquarters for Agency X. He also went to war with the new Four Winds, run by its new leader Higashi. While a polite and business-oriented man, Higashi was pushed by his advisor Saguri to become more ruthless, especially when the possibility of Alex being Deadpool came up.

    Ultimately, Saguri was taken out of the picture and Higashi became a bit of an ally to the team, especially due to his attraction to Sandi.

    Taskmaster, still pining for Sandi, wasn’t pleased with that part.

    Issue #7 continued the mystery a bit with a scene where some CDs Alex ordered from the internet arrived. Not only were they classical European composers, but Sandi realized that Alexander Schumann and Franz Haydn were the inspirations for Alex’s name.

    After an adventure that involved superhero underwear fetishists, Alex figured that Agency X should be a team thing with himself, Taskmaster, and Outlaw. Unfortunately, Taskmaster was too into flying solo and Outlaw had to leave to go take care of her dying father. That left Sandi, who was still interested in seeing this through, while Mary Zero popped in to say that she would help and that Alex would never be rid of her.

    That was basically her final comic appearance.

    Not kidding. It’s hilarious.

    One of the reasons she was never featured again was that Gail Simone and UDON left Agent X behind due to arguments with the editor. Normally, that would be a thing you shrug off and hope the next team is good, only this was their baby and it hadn’t finished growing up. The mystery remained and the person with the plan of where it was going was no longer on the payroll.

    That meant we got five issues of fill-in teams. #8-9 were done by Buddy Scalera and Mitchell Breitweiser. While having Scalera, a former Deadpoolwriter, was a good idea, the two issues about Alex hunting down an invisible man were especially forgettable.

    The next two issues, by the team of Evan Dorkin and Juan Bobillo, was easily the best fill-in story. The gruesome story brought in Fight Man, a spinoff character from Dorkin’s fantastic Bill and TedMarvel series. Fight Man’s supervillain ex-wife hired Alex to kill the hero, but Fight Man was so down on his luck, that he went along with it...as nigh-impossible as suicide was for him.

    Unlike Scalera, Dorkin was willing to include supporting characters. That said, his use of Sandi got a bit of a mixed reaction. In this story, Alex and Sandi ended up sleeping together within several pages, all while Taskmaster went from being overprotective of Sandi to not caring that she decided to go on her very first assassin job alone. It didn’t really feel too in-character based on what came before, but at least Dorkin was trying something.

    #12 was done by future-Deadpool-writer-for-way-too-long Daniel Way and artist Kyle Hotz. A rather nothing issue, Alex took on a rookie mercenary called Murder. Despite the blurb on the very last page, it’s pretty apparent that this was meant to be the final issue of the series, dropping Alex Hayden into obscurity. The recap page, opening scene, and ending all talked up how Agency X wasn’t working out and needed to close down.

    Normally, that would have been it, but then Marvel decided to take a page out of the '70s playbook. Latter Deadpooland his spinoff had lousy sales and Cable’s Soldier X series was suffering the same fate, so why not just do a Power Man and Iron Fist and shove them together into one series? A great idea, except Deadpool was off in limbo, possibly dead in an unfinished mystery.

    Gail Simone and UDON were brought back into the series to do an additional three issues to wrap everything up and bring back Deadpool. The cover to Agent X #13 featured Alex, Sandi, Outlaw, Taskmaster, and Mary Zero standing together with the tagline, “WE’RE BACK!”

    Mary Zero wasn’t referenced once in those three issues, by the way.

    The opening scene showed two hooded men on a boat on their way to the US. One wandered around, unresponsive, while the other protected him from fellow stowaways. The savior removed his hood to reveal Black Swan, alive and well, though annoyed that he couldn’t bring himself to actually kill the attackers.

    Alex and Taskmaster got hired to protect Four Winds leader Higashi on a job. Alex was emotionally torn apart for cheating on Outlaw with Sandi while Taskmaster was torn apart by his jealousy. After the job, the three returned to Sandi’s place, only to find Black Swan waiting there for them.

    And he brought his mute friend.

    Upon seeing Deadpool alive, Sandi and Taskmaster were shocked, but Alex had his own unique response. On instinct, he lifted his gun and shot Deadpool in the head. He couldn’t explain why he did it. Just that seeing Deadpool filled him with violent anger.

    “I swear it feels like this guy killed my brother. And since I don’t think I have a brother, that’s just weird.”

    While Deadpool recuperated, Black Swan spilled the beans on the backstory. In that final battle from Deadpool #69, the mental onslaught mixed with the explosion caused a jumbling of memories, personality traits, and even special abilities to scatter into the minds of the three men in the room: Black Swan, Deadpool, and the corpse of Nijo.

    Agent X was Nijo, filled with Deadpool’s jokester personality and power set, along with Black Swan’s high-class sensibilities, gun skills, and disgust for rude people. He also had trace pieces of Swan’s mental abilities, explaining why Taskmaster couldn’t copy him and why he could perceive Mary.

    Black Swan had pieces of Deadpool and Nijo in his mind and makeup, allowing him to survive the explosion. While he inherited Nijo’s love for Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails, the most important aspect of his personality was Nijo’s pesky honor. Swan was compelled to set things right.

    As for Deadpool, his healing factor was finally starting to fix his brain (the point-blank headshot probably helped kickstart that). Despite not fully understanding it, Swan explained that Deadpool’s healing factor was more than just a physical ability and he could regrow his memories. Not that it was doing much good at the time, since he had the mind of a 3-year-old.

    A very dick-obsessed 3-year-old.

    Black Swan put together a séance-type event at the abandoned amusement park to give Deadpool and Alex their memories back. No longer with a conscience, Black Swan used the power/mind trading to amp himself up. His mental powers became godly and he proceeded to overwhelm Alex, Sandi, and Taskmaster.

    Meanwhile, a lone figure was shown searching through a nearby car and finding a pair of katanas. On the final page, a fully-recovered Deadpool laughed maniacally while impaling Black Swan from behind.

    With Deadpool back in action, Agent X #15 brought back the “similar cover pose” gimmick that started the series.

    Nice touch.

    The final issue was an excellent climactic battle where Alex Hayden, Deadpool, Taskmaster, Sandi, the Four Winds, and a returning Outlaw (who was none-too-pleased about the Alex/Sandi hook-up) took on a levitating, mind-reading Black Swan who could stop bullets in mid-air. In the middle of the mayhem, Taskmaster finally revealed his true feelings to Sandi.

    Alex came up with a plan to confuse and explode Black Swan, which succeeded. Using his own psychic magic, he returned Black Swan’s memories of dying in the explosion back to where they belonged and in the process purged all of his badass, X-shaped bodily scars and turned his skin tone into that of a normal human being. Yeah, I don’t know how that works either.

    Then the heroes unloaded their guns into Black Swan just in case. To make sure Black Swan was dead for good and couldn’t simply heal, they had him stuffed after the fact.

    (Not that that stopped Daniel Way from bringing him back years later with no explanation.)

    Sandi and Taskmaster ended up together and Taskmaster showed interest in finally joining Agency X. At the same time, Alex offered Deadpool a spot, but he chose to go off on his own. At first, they shook hands as friends, but then decided they kind of hated each other and started fighting while the others wandered off.

    The final page featured everyone going on a lengthy vacation together, taking the stuffed corpse of Black Swan with them. I guess I spoke too soon about Mary Zero never showing up again as her arm could be seen peeking into a group photo at the very end.

    I only just noticed that now.

    Sadly, that was it for that version of Taskmaster. Other than an appearance in Power Pack, the UDON Taskmaster look was quickly forgotten about the moment he showed up in Charlie Huston’s Moon Knightseries back in his classic duds.

    I guess he and Sandi weren’t meant to be as they never shared the same page again.

    As Cable/Deadpool kicked in months later, writer Fabian Nicieza went with an idea of playing with established concepts and characters rather than introduce new stuff. That meant that by the eleventh issue, Alex made an appearance. Artist Patrick Zircher decided to keep all of Alex’s scars despite the events of Agent X #15, simply because they looked cooler and more iconic to the character.

    He wasn't wrong.

    Caught up in one of the least-confusing storylines in the series, Cable was in a coma (with the Six Pack trapped in his mind) and Deadpool needed the Fixer from the Thunderbolts, Weasel, and MODOK to help him bond Cable with a techno-organic creature to make him whole and awake. Like I said, one of the least-confusing storylines.

    Alex was hired by an unnamed benefactor to make sure Cable wasn’t revived, but ultimately failed after a lot of bloody fighting with his mercenary mind-brother.

    Months later, House of Mhappened. The big event is notable in this context for three reasons. First off, in the rewritten world where all the heroes got to live more fulfilled lives, one of the background characters appeared to be none other than pre-explosion Nijo dressed in his goggles and a big X strap.

    He never had any lines and nobody referred to him by name, so it just ended up being a neat Easter egg.

    After House of Mended, they did the whole Decimationstoryline about most mutants being depowered. Outlaw, being a mutant herself, became a minor character in the X-Men books.

    As for Mary Zero, a book of Deadpool character profiles called Deadpool: Rank and Foul mentioned that she lost her mutant powers during M-Day. Probably for the best.

    Alex, Sandi, and Outlaw returned as a team in Cable/Deadpool #38. In a plot that worked to differentiate Alex from Deadpool while also removing him as a top mercenary, Nicieza did a story where Alex was captured by Hydra and experimented on. They imprinted him with genetics that both gave him extreme arthritis and also made him excessively obese.

    Sandi and Outlaw hired Deadpool (who was only a few inches tall at the time thanks to Pym Particles and rather enjoyed how endowed the two looked from that point of view) and he successfully rescued Alex. Unfortunately, Alex was in no condition to keep merc’ing, so he had Deadpool take over action duties at Agency X for a bit while Alex remained the boss.

    It was a necessary change of status quo for Deadpool. Cable was being written out of the book due to important X-Mencrossover stuff and Deadpool needed a new supporting cast to play off of. And so, Alex, Sandi, and Outlaw became regulars for the final twelve issues of the series, although they rarely actually did anything.

    In the final issue, with New York being ravaged by dinosaurs with alien symbiotes, Outlaw talked Alex into getting off his fat ass and getting back to being a warrior. No longer fitting in the Kevlar trench coat, Alex opted for a sumo look and went to flattening alien/dino hybrids.

    He then showed up in the series’ final scene, where Deadpool’s supporting cast joined him for a friendly get-together. Alex was still wearing his loin-cloth, much to everyone’s chagrin.

    Sadly, that was Alex’s final major comic appearance. Sandi’s too. To go back to the Superman comparison, Alex's staying power ended up being less Superboy and more Eradicator.

    In the Deadpool miniseries Suicide Kings, Outlaw appeared with a supporting role and mentioned that, although he had a lot of work to do, Alex was making some headway on the weight loss.

    Outside of a couple background X-Men appearances, Outlaw had her moments of prominence. Prior to Shiklah’s introduction, she was one of the go-to love interests for Deadpool. Not only did they end up sleeping together at the end of Suicide Kings, but the 1950s reimagining miniseries Deadpool Pulp included her as a femme fatale working against the government.

    There would be one last story to revisit this era in Deadpool history, at least. In Deadpool #27, Wade celebrated his wedding to Shiklah. The backups featured stories by all of Deadpool’s major writers from over the years talking about all the other times he’s been married, including a story by Gail Simone and Alvin Lee about Deadpool’s never-before-mentioned marriage to Outlaw. Various Simone characters appeared in the crowd, including Ratbag.

    Alex warned Wade about the pitfalls of a sex-starved woman with mutant super-strength, but Deadpool didn’t catch on until their first honeymoon night when she shattered his pelvis. What followed was several pages of Deadpool slowly dying Futurama-style until he presumably had his marriage annulled.

    As much fun as Alex Hayden was, I suppose he’s just one of those characters who exists as a phase, much like how the Mercs for Money concept will be completely done away with in two years – three years tops. Still, with Deadpool’s current popularity and comics’ love for cannibalizing the past, it’s only a matter of time before the scarred and possibly-still-overweight mercenary makes his return. Personally, I hope he does. I miss that knockoff.

    Besides, they just brought back Evil Deadpool and he’s terrible. If Alex doesn’t come back in some form, it’s just a travesty.

    Gavin Jasper figures that if Taskmaster isn’t going back to his UDON look, they might as well give that costume to Finesse. Follow Gavin on Twitter!


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    Batwoman will make her small screen debut next fall when she's introduced in the next big Arrowverse crossover!

    News John Saavedra
    May 17, 2018

    DC fans waiting for the day that Batman might finally appear in the Arrowverse just got a bit closer to that goal. At this year's CW upfront presentation, Stephen Amell, the Green Arrow himself, announced that Batwoman will be introduced in the next big Arrowverse crossover in the fall.

    “We’re incredibly excited to announce that we’ll be doing another crossover event this fall on the CW, and we’ll be introducing a new character,” Amell said. "For the very first time appearing, we’ll be fighting alongside Batwoman, which is terrific. If the crossover is going to make it to air in December, I need to leave right now and start filming it.”

    In recent years, Batwoman (real name Katherine Kane) has become a big part of the extended Batman family. First introduced in Detective Comics #233 and created by Edmond Hamilton and Sheldon Moldoff in 1956, Batwoman has gone through two different incarnations and they're both named Katherine. The Silver Age Batwoman is best known as Kathy Kane, who was created in order to offset rumors that Batman and Robin were homosexuals. Kathy created the persona of Batwoman to win the Caped Crusader's affection. 

    Kathy Kane was later dropped as a character by DC in 1964 when editor Julius Schwartz decided that he wanted to take the Batman books in a different direction. She would reappear in the '70s, but was eventually killed off for good. Other writers, such as Grant Morrison, have reimagined her in the year since.

    The far more popular version of Batwoman -- and the one most likely to appear in the Arrowverse -- was introduced in the 2006 DC weekly, 52, by Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid, and Keith Giffen. This version is named Kate Kane, a tough-as-nails former military school student, and is actually Bruce Wayne's cousin on his mother's side. Kate is also one of the first LGBT members of the Bat Family. The character has previously been in relationships with Renee Montoya and Maggie Sawyer (a connection The CW is surely aware of). 

    Unlike Kathy, who was mostly featured in books alongside other members of the Bat Family, Kate has enjoyed some memorable solo runs. In fact, Batwoman was one of the most popular books of the early New 52 era before the creative team of W. Haden Blackman and J.H. Williams III left the book after DC refused to let Batwoman marry Maggie Sawyer. 

    Most recently, Batwoman has been one of the stars of the relaunched Detective Comics by James Tynion IV and finally has her own solo series again. It's written by Marguerite Bennett, with pencils by Fernando Blanco, Steve Epting, and Stephanie Hans. 

    With such a long career in comics, Batwoman will certainly make a great addition to the Arrowverse and could even be a gateway into Gotham City itself. We're looking forward to it!

    The CW did not reveal who has been cast in the role of Batwoman or when exactly in December we can expect this crossover. We'll keep you updated as we learn more!


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    Reports are indicating that Amazon’s expensive Lord of the Rings TV series will focus on the exploits of young Aragorn.

    News Joseph Baxter
    May 17, 2018

    Amazon’s much-discussed Middle Earth television endeavors appear to be taking shape. The streaming-service-delivering retail monolith, which cut a $250 million check last fall to the estate of author J.R.R. Tolkien to acquire rights for a TV series based on The Lord of the Rings– that will reportedly cost $1 billion to produce – could have royal justifications for such a move. That’s because reports are indicating that the series will focus on the younger days of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy key character and would-be King of Gondor, Aragorn Elessar!

    Perennial Tolkien fan site, TheOneRing took to Twitter with a most intriguing report, claiming confirmation from multiple sources that Amazon’s 5-season committedThe Lord of the Rings TV series will, indeed, center on the youthful adventures of Aragorn, who, of course, was famously played by Viggo Mortensen in director Peter Jackson’s revered Oscar-generating trilogy of films.

    Additional details claim that the TV series will not be a re-telling of “The War of the Ring,” as depicted in the film trilogy. Rather, it will draw heavily from book trilogy’s appendices, which, included in the back of closer The Return of the King, provides loads of context to the events of the books, also serving as the source for several of the movie’s storylines (notably Aragorn and Arwen’s love story). Indeed, Aragorn’s backstory is the focus of some of Tolkien’s richest supplementary material. He is, as the movies often mention, the long-removed heir of Isildur (the inheritor King of Gondor who cut the Ring of Power from Sauron’s hand, only to be seduced by the trinket’s evil power), but that doesn’t even cover the CliffsNotes regarding the mythical path of the young-looking 87-year-old human.

    Coming from a paternal line that stems back to the ancient kings of Gondor, Aragorn was targeted by evil from infancy. Thus, after his father, Arathorn II, died (when Aragorn was 2), the fated child was sent to Rivendell to be raised with the elves by Elrond, where he was given the name, Estel, which means “hope” in Elvish (though he understandably kept that one on the down low). At some point, he left to join his dwindling kin, the Dúnedain, a race of humans with lifespans extending to around 250 years, to battle Middle Earth’s surging evil as roving rangers in the North. Consequently, as the TOR suggests, the Amazon TV series could contain characters such as father Arathorn (likely in flashbacks), mother Gilraen, as well as the never-seen twin sons of Elrond, named Elladan and Elrohir.

    On another note, Aragorn’s friendship with Gandalf is also an important aspect of his early story. It was Gandalf who influenced Aragorn and his ranger companions to protect the borders of the Shire – and the peaceful hobbits within them – from the evil forces of the world; an effort in which he operated under the pseudonym, Strider (the name we first got from him in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy). – Which brings us back to a rumor from back in December, when Ian McKellen was (in a cheeky fashion,) hinting a possible return as Gandalf on the TV series. If the Aragorn news pan out, then McKellen’s prospective role reprisal as Gandalf would seem a lot more feasible.

    We will certainly keep you updated on Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings TV series as the news arrives.


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    Saoirse Ronan gives another sensational performance in a story of intimacy, sex and class.

    In the new film On Chesil Beach, based on a novella by acclaimed writer Ian McEwan (who also wrote the screenplay), it’s 1962 and newlyweds Florence (Saoirse Ronan) and Edward (Billy Howle) have just started out on their honeymoon in a hotel located at the title beach, a windswept, rocky, rather desolate place. It’s in many ways a perfect spot for what’s about to occur, as the couple sit down to dinner, make small talk, drink a little, listen to music…and both literally and figuratively dance around the elephant in the room, or we should we say, the bed.

    It is, after all, their first night as a married couple and all roads lead to what’s supposed to happen on that mattress. Both Florence and Edward are understandably awkward to varying degrees, but as the evening progresses it becomes apparent that one of them is just not ready -- and may never be ready -- for the supposed bliss of getting between the conjugal sheets.

    The disastrous events of On Chesil Beach play out between flashbacks and, eventually, flash-forwards, with the former highlighting the upbringing that formed both of these empathetic but markedly different people. Florence grew up in an upper class household, wanting to be a violinist and listening almost exclusively to classical music, while chafing under the thumb of her mean-spirited, nose-in-the-air mother (Emily Watson) and distant father (Samuel West).

    Edward is a history grad student from a working class family whose mother (Anne-Marie Duff) has brain damage but whose household is still a loving one -- even if his future mother-in-law sniffs at them a bit. Edward likes rock music, is more outgoing and occasionally too impulsive, while Florence is a budding political activist who nevertheless has a reserved air about her -- and a secret which is glimpsed only fleetingly as their love affair comes to a, shall we say, premature ending in that room on Chesil Beach.

    Theater director Dominic Cooke, making his debut behind the camera here, manages to take what many have deemed an unfilmable piece of writing (because of its internalized nature) and turn it into a largely compelling look at those icy British attitudes toward sex and class in the days before the sexual revolution and the vaunted “Sixties” really turned things upside down. The damage done to both Florence and Edward by their respective histories becomes palpable, thanks in no small measure to terrific performances from both actors.

    Ronan adds another beautifully developed character to her already considerable catalog, and while Howle may not be quite as detailed an actor, he still brings depth and compassion to a character who could easily turn into an oversexed frat boy in the wrong hands. Cooke largely stays out of their way while managing to use the flashbacks to get us out of that hotel room once in a while. His handling of the film’s turning point is as dignified as possible, and the repercussions that follow are tragic enough to wipe away (no pun intended) any lingering doubts about how it's staged.

    The only thing that On Chesil Beach really fumbles is its final stretch: while the book’s closing pages are all in the thoughts and ruminations of one character, the movie makes it all too literal and utilizes some truly bad old age make-up to make it even more cringeworthy. To be fair, it’s certainly not easy to visualize any ending to this tale that works in a cinematic sense, but perhaps McEwan should have brought in another screenwriter to help him, unlike his poor protagonists, reach a satisfying climax.

    On Chesil Beach is out in theaters Friday (May 18).

    3.5/5
    ReviewDon Kaye
    May 17, 2018

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    Deadpool won't shut up about pop-culture and superhero movies. Now I have carpal tunnel for writing them all down. Thanks.

    Feature Gavin Jasper
    May 17, 2018

    This article consists of nothing but Deadpool 2 spoilers. We have a spoiler free review here if you prefer.

    The Marvel Brolinsance continues with the release of Deadpool 2. Much like its predecessor, it mixes R-rated action, R-rated humor, a dash of pathos, and lots of references and meta jokes. It’s another movie in the X-Men Cinematic Universe featuring bottom of the barrel characters. In other words, there’s a ton of Easter eggs and trivia references sewn into this bad boy.

    Best we could, here’s a reference guide. This goes without saying, but spoilers galore. Even for movies other than Deadpool 2! The first shot of the movie is a reference to how Loganended!

    THE CHARACTERS

    DEADPOOL

    So Wade Wilson, New Mutants #98, blah blah, Deathstroke ripoff, etc. We know all that. So what references do we get from this movie?

    - Early on, Wade discusses how horrible his father was. This is 2/3 on point to the comics. In the comics, there were three different takes on what Wade’s father was like. First there’s the Christopher Priest take, where Wade’s father was a lowlife who walked out on him when he was a child. Then Fabian Nicieza had his own version where Wade’s father was a strict, albeit well-meaning, military man who died trying to pull Wade away from hanging out with a dangerous crowd.

    Gerry Duggan later insisted that those were false memories. There was nothing especially wrong with Wade’s father, though Deadpool unknowingly killed him as part of a memory-wiping experiment.

    - Deadpool prepares for his first job in the movie by listening to “X Gone Give it to You” by DMX, which was a prominent theme to the first movie.

    - Deadpool popping out of a coffin to assassinate someone was done in Deadpool Team-Up #898, as part of an alliance with the Zapata Brothers.

    - Deadpool’s frustration at being suicidal and being unable to see it through is a regular occurrence in the comics. The first movie’s earlier draft even had a segment dedicated to Wade trying to off himself again and again and constantly failing due to his healing factor.

    - As an X-Men trainee, Deadpool wears an ugly team outfit over his own. This is similar to a story arc in Deadpool #16 from the Daniel Way run where Deadpool insisted on joining the X-Men.

    - The red motor scooter Deadpool rides is actually a thing from the comics. He rode it around in Deadpool #68 and even appeared on the cover with it along with Taskmaster.

    - Deadpool tries deflecting Cable’s bullets with his katanas at one point, only to realize that several of them made it through his torso. His movements are exactly like Wade Wilson’s swordplay in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

    - Towards the end of the movie, Deadpool is covered with ash and his red costume becomes gray. This ends up making him look like how he dresses in the Rick Remender X-Force series. Coincidentally, he joined the team in response to Cable’s supposed death.

    VANESSA

    - Vanessa did also die in the comics, albeit under very, very different circumstances. In Deadpool #59 by Frank Tieri and Georges Jeanty, Deadpool was given the order by Weapon X to kill Vanessa, otherwise known as the mutant Copycat. Deadpool refused and instead tried to defend her against their various soldiers. Vanessa ended up being mauled to death by Sabretooth and, much like the movie, died in Wade’s arms.

    Shockingly, despite the first movie’s popularity, Vanessa was never brought back in the comics and only got one mention since.

    CABLE

    - Cable, real name Nathan Summers, made his first adult appearance in New Mutants #87 as created by Louise Simonson and Rob Liefeld. A mysterious time traveler, he was later revealed to be the son of Scott Summers and Madeline Pryor (a clone of Jean Grey). He was raised in a horrifying future ruled by Apocalypse and dedicated himself to going back in time to prevent that reality from ever taking place.

    The movie doesn’t really get into much about what he’s about, but to be fair, the comics took their time on that too. The '90s X-Men cartoon never even got around to explaining who he was, only giving us the occasional hint that he had something to do with Cyclops and Jean.

    - Fun fact: for people who got to see early screenings of Deadpool 2, it came with a video of Deadpool begging us not to check Cable’s Wikipedia page because it’s too much of a mindfuck.

    - So what do we know about Cable’s future? He mentions that it’s about 50 years later (which would make him age appropriate to be Cyclops’ kid without having to send him further into the future like in the comics), though grown-up Firefist appears to be plenty younger. Despite the claim that the world is ruined, we never get a good look at what that entails.

    - Cable mentions his daughter’s name is Hope. Hope Summers is a character introduced in X-Men #205, created by Mike Carey and Chris Bachalo. After the events of M-Day and the near extinction of the mutant race (more on that later), Hope was the first baby born with the mutant gene. Cable found her and protected her, mainly from Bishop. Cable and Hope traveled through various eras with Cable raising Hope until she became a teenager. Eventually, she returned to the present.

    - Cable’s rivalry with Bishop had Cable on the opposite side of the conflict compared to Deadpool 2. For Bishop, Hope’s existence would lead to his own horrible future, so he was dedicated to killing her before it was too late.

    - With Cable being played by Josh Brolin, there are at least two references to Brolin’s previous roles. Deadpool calls him “One-Eyed Willy,” a legendary pirate from The Goonies, which starred Brolin. The other is Deadpool calling him “Thanos,” what with that being his other huge comic movie role these days.

    - Deadpool calls Cable “John Connor,” due to his similarities to, well, everything involving the Terminatorfranchise.

    We wrote lots more on Cable right here.

    FIREFIST

    Russell Collins, played by Julian Dennison, is essentially a hybrid of different characters.

    - In the comics, Firefist was introduced in X-Factor #1 by Bob Layton and Jackson Guice. A fit, white teen in slacks who physically looks nothing like his cinematic counterpart, Rusty was a pretty generic part of the X-family until leaving to join Magneto’s side as an Acolyte. He died back in the mid-90s.

    - He actually has more in common with his animated counterpart from the X-Men cartoon. There, he was a boy living in a corrupt orphanage headed by Zebediah Killgrave.

    - Russell shares a lot in common with Johnny, a little boy who appeared briefly in Deadpool’s initial solo series. In Deadpool #58, a mutant boy’s fire powers went out of control and Weapon X (now with Deadpool as a member) went to go investigate. Deadpool was able to talk the boy down from his rampage, but Garrison Kane took advantage of the situation and murdered the kid, much to Deadpool’s fury.

    - Thematically, Russell is more based on Evan Sabahnur, codename Genesis. An incarnation of X-Force featuring Deadpool was sent on a mission to kill the reincarnation of Apocalypse. The target ended up being a child, who was being fed propaganda from Apocalypse cultists. Fantomex shot and killed the boy, which awakened nothing but disgust in Deadpool, as killing a kid was over the line for him.

    Secretly, Fantomex cloned the child and tried to use virtual reality to raise him as a Clark Kent-like farm boy. Named Evan Sabahnur, he was eventually enrolled in the X-Men’s school. Evan eventually became part of a plot where his rise to villainy would lead to a Minority Report dystopian future. Instead, Wolverine and Deadpool were able to get through to Evan and convince him to be a force of good. Since then, Deadpool has at times acted as a father figure to the boy.

    DOMINO

    - As a concept, Domino, real name Neena Thurman, was introduced in the same issue as Deadpool: New Mutants #98, by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld. In actuality, “Domino” was Vanessa/Copycat in disguise. The real Domino didn’t show up until about a year later in X-Force #8. Domino has been a regular associate to Cable and has teamed up with Deadpool on occasion. At most, she only tolerates Deadpool.

    - Deadpool rants about her luck-based powers and how stupid they are, at one point claiming that such an idea would come from some guy who can’t even draw feet. This is an obvious reference to Deadpool and Domino’s co-creator Rob Liefeld, who is constantly made fun of for his difficulties in drawing convincing feet, which more often than not means seeing feet obscured or cropped out of his panels.

    We have even more info on Domino right here.

    JUGGERNAUT

    - Cain Marko, the Unstoppable Juggernaut, was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. His first appearance was in X-Men #12. In the comics, Juggernaut is depicted as being a force of magic and not one created from a biological mutation. He already appeared in X3: X-Men United, as played by Vinnie Jones.

    - The credits claim that Juggernaut is played by “himself.”

    - Conversation between Juggernaut and Russell establishes that in the movies, Cain Marko and Charles Xavier are step-brothers and that Juggernaut wears the helmet to protect himself from his psychic attacks. The familial connection was completely ignored in X3, though the two only shared one scene.

    - Juggernaut fought Deadpool a couple times early on in the comics before Deadpool had his own ongoing series. By the time Deadpool had his own series, writer Joe Kelly decided that Juggernaut would be too obvious to use. Juggernaut later appeared at Wade’s funeral during hte Frank Tieri run.

    - Juggernaut tearing Deadpool in half just may be a reference to the memorable opening sequence to Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk #1 where Hulk tore Wolverine in half in similar fashion. Hey, it wouldn’t be the only Hulk/Juggernaut comparison in this movie.

    - Colossus vs. Juggernaut is a regular occurrence in X-Men lore. Much like in this movie, Juggernaut is a league above Colossus and tends to outfight him at every turn.

    X-FORCE

    - Another Nicieza/Liefeld creation, the team X-Force was introduced as a rebranding/spinoff of New Mutants after that comic hit its 100th issue. The team has had many different incarnations, but the main take has been a more fascist take on the X-Men to contrast with Xavier’s more defensive MO. One of the original team members is Cannonball, who the cinematic version of Negasonic Teenage Warhead appears to be slightly based on, at least in the powers department.

    We have a whole history of X-Force right here for you.

    BEDLAM

    Terry Crews’ Bedlam first appeared in the comic Factor X #1, created by John Francis Moore and Steve Epting. Bedlam doesn’t exactly get to do much in the movie, but the power set is accurate to how he’s portrayed in the comics.

    ZEITGEIST

    Zeitgeist (Axel Cluney) even being in this movie practically spells out the gag about X-Force’s fate. The character was introduced in X-Force #116, which was the beginning of the Peter Milligan/Mike Allred X-Force/X-Statix run. Like in the movie, he could spit acid vomit, but also like in the movie, he died in his first issue despite being treated as a big deal. In fact, a majority of X-Force were killed in that first issue.

    VANISHER

    - Vanisher, real name Telford Porter, was introduced in the second issue of X-Men. He has absolutely nothing to do with his cinematic counterpart, including powers. Comic Vanisher is a teleporter while the movie version is just invisible. Also, he was an X-Men villain and never a member of X-Force. It’s likely more like the writers saw that name as one of the ones they could use in the movie and wrote a gag around it, much like how they included Negasonic Teenage Warhead in the first movie just because they thought the name was great.

    - And hey, turns out he’s Brad Pitt! That’s still not the most random Brad Pitt death in movie history if you've seen Burn After Reading. Told you there would be spoilers here.

    - Brad Pitt was in talks to play Cable, but couldn't fit it into his schedule.

    SHATTERSTAR

    - Sometimes comic movies are too afraid to fully embrace the batshit insane world of comic books. That’s why it took so long for us to get Sentinels and why Galactus was a cloud. Shatterstar, despite his limited screentime, dives deep into being exactly like his comic counterpart. Introduced in New Mutants #99 (a mere issue after Deadpool) by Nicieza and Liefeld, Shatterstar is both an alien and from the future. And he has those stupid double-katanas.

    - Mojoworld was introduced in Longshot #1and is a separate dimension run by a blobby TV producer with spider legs. This is now part of the X-Men Cinematic Unvierse.

    Need more info on Shatterstar? We've got you covered.

    BLACK TOM

    - Black Tom Cassidy was introduced in X-Men #99 by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum. His wood/blast powers are kind of moot since he never actually does anything mutant-based in the movie. Black Tom is the brother of Banshee, but there’s no indication of their relationship in the film.

    - In the comics, Black Tom fought Deadpool several times. Not only as a partner of Juggernaut, but also at a time when Deadpool was cycling through his “Black” villains in one adventure, such as Black Swan and Black Box.

    - During the early days of X-Force, Cable gunned down Black Tom and almost killed him. Coincidentally, Black Tom only survived because Deadpool saved his life.

    X-MEN EASTER EGGS

    - Firefist’s rampage is covered by reporter Irene Merryweather. Introduced in Cable #48 by James Robinson and Jose Ladronn, Irene is a reporter who became a close friend to Cable. She was essentially the normal, down-to-earth person there to normalize the future mutant with the giant guns. She was recently killed by Deadpool in the comics due to Cable’s clone Stryfe blackmailing him.

    - During the auditions segment, there’s a cartoon drawing of a cowgirl in the background. This is Outlaw, otherwise known as Inez Temple. Introduced during the Gail Simone Deadpoolrun, the mercenary mutant Outlaw had a couple flings with Deadpool and even married him briefly. Unfortunately, Deadpool’s healing factor wasn’t enough to offset the combination of her super-strength and endless libido and he had the marriage annulled.

    - The Ice Box is a prison located in Canada, introduced in Maverick #8.

    - Russell’s orphanage is named in honor of “Essex,” most likely a reference to Nathanial Essex, otherwise known as Mr. Sinister. Essex was referenced in Days of Future Past’s ending and there’s been rumblings about having him appear in one of the upcoming movies.

    - The mutant inhibitor collar was introduced in Days of Future Past. In the comics, it was introduced in X-Men #141.

    - The orphanage features various posters promising that M-Day is coming. In the comics, M-Day was the event where Scarlet Witch – distraught over the events of House of M– used her powers to depower nearly every mutant in the world, leaving less than 200.

    SUPERHERO MOVIE STUFF

    - The movie’s opening shot shows Deadpool’s music box in the form of Wolverine being impaled on a tree stump. This is how Wolverine died at the end of Logan. Deadpool also jokes that Logan wouldn’t have received that R-rating if the first Deadpoolmovie hadn’t already proven it could be done successfully.

    - Deadpool briefly brings up comparisons to Passion of the Christ, namely how they’re the top two biggest money makers for R-rated movies. In terms of domestic, Passion of the Christ wins with $370 million to Deadpool’s $363 million, but worldwide, Deadpoolhas $801 million compared to Passion’s $622 million.

    - Deadpool tries to excuse his lateness with Vanessa by claiming that he and another costumed guy had a big fight, but stopped once they found out their mothers are both named “Martha.” That’s an easy reference to the end of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, where Batman suddenly pulls a 180 on his murderous opinion on Superman.

    - In the first movie, Deadpool told Blind Al that he had a stash hidden of a bunch of cocaine and “the cure for blindness,” which at the time felt like him being a jerk mocking her. Turns out he literally had those things after all!

    - Deadpool repeatedly talks about the X-Men member “Pigeonwings,” referring to Angel and the fact that having wings is kind of a dumb power when there are others who can fly without them.

    - As Deadpool once again rants about how the only X-Men characters we appear to see are Colossus and Negasonic, there’s a quick shot of the current X-Men movie team meeting in a room as Beast (Nicholas Hoult) quietly closes the door before Deadpool can notice. This includes Xavier (James McAvoy), Quicksilver (Evan Peters), and Cyclops (Tye Sheridan).

    - Deadpool’s speech where he decides to shoot up one of the orphanage employees is paraphrased from Colossus at the end of the first movie. The difference is that while he was straight-up ignoring him in the first movie when he shot somebody, this time he felt like he was genuinely doing the right thing.

    - Upon losing his powers, Deadpool calls himself worthless like Hawkeye and his bow and arrow. Hawkeye has been regularly mocked for being considered the lamest movie Avenger.

    - Deadpool describes Cable as having a Winter Soldier arm. In both the comics and Marvel Cinematic Universe, Bucky Barnes lost his arm during his faked death and had it replaced with a cybernetic limb. Cable’s arm is actually a metal parasite engulfing the flesh.

    - Deadpool tosses out the iconic, “I’m Batman,” line, which is the go-to introduction for movie versions of that character.

    - Deadpool remarks that Cable is so dark that he must be from the DC Universe. DC’s recent cinematic takes have been regularly criticized for being overly grim and colorless despite being centered around goddamn Superman. Fittingly, Ryan Reynolds and Josh Brolin have both starred in failed DC movies with Green Lantern and Jonah Hex.

    - Deadpool names Domino “Black Black Widow,” doubling down on cracking jokes about white characters with “Black” in their name. Plus Domino is the token female hero and has the same basic abilities as Black Widow.

    - Speaking of Black Widow, Deadpool tries to subdue Juggernaut by telling him, “The sun is getting real low.” This is how Black Widow would calm the Hulk into becoming Bruce Banner in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

    - Dopinder is called “Brown Panther,” which is just a reference to Black Panther. It’s late in the movie and we’re running out of steam.

    - In the mid-credits, Deadpool goes back in time to save certain people, but also takes time to enter X-Men Origins: Wolverine(2009) to riddle the original Deadpool with bullets. The mouthless Wade Wilson from this movie is considered a blight on the character’s history and while he got made fun of in the first Deadpool, this just goes farther into the absurd.

    - Immediately after, Ryan Reynolds is shot to death before he can accept the role of Green Lantern (2011). That too is considered a big mistake in Reynolds’ acting career.

    MISC REFERENCES

    - After failing to fully fulfill his contract kill, Deadpool describes it as “mission accomplished” in the George W. Bush sense. In 2003, George W. Bush spoke onboard the USS Abraham Lincoln to announce the end of major military combat in Iraq. All the while, there was a massive “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” banner in the background. The claims, both verbal and printed, seemed a bit shortsighted, to say the least.

    Oh yeah, Brolin played that guy too.

    - The movie Wade and Vanessa watch early on is the 1983 release Yentlstarring Barbara Streisand.

    - The opening credits include references to both James Bond movies and the iconic chair shot from Flashdance. It’s a natural callback to the comedic credits from the first movie, though with a more negative bend, such as how the first movie called the screenwriters “The Real Heroes” while this time they’re “The Real Villains.”

    - Deadpool calls Yuki “Pinkie Pie.” Pinkie Pie is a character from My Little Pony who, much like Deadpool, breaks the fourth wall. In fact, Death Battle had an episode dedicated to Deadpool vs. Pinkie Pie.

    - Colossus tells Russell, “Come quietly or there will be trouble.” Deadpool and Russell immediately point out that he’s ripping off RoboCop, which he also did in the first movie when he told Deadpool, “Dead or alive, you’re coming with me.”

    - At the Ice Box, Deadpool wonders what gang he’ll end up in and asks about the Sorting Hat. The Sorting Hat is the magical being from the Harry Potterbooks that chooses which group each Hogwarts student belongs in.

    - Cable’s futuristic gun has a dial on it that goes from 1 to 11. This is a reference to This is Spinal Tap, as the band has their amps recalibrated from going up to 10 to 11 in volume because 11 is a higher number and therefore must be louder. None of them realize that the max volume is the max volume no matter what number you put on it.

    - Weasel refers to Cable as “the time traveler’s wife’s husband.” The Time Traveler’s Wife is a novel by Audrey Niffenegger.

    - Weasel calls it out, but Wade uncrossing and crossing his legs in order to show his gross baby crotch is a reference to Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct(1992). In the famous scene, she did the same move, only wearing a skirt with no underwear.

    - Deadpool tries to win Colossus back by holding a tiny boombox up outside his window, just like John Cusack’s iconic pose from Say Anything (1989).

    - We join a scene with Deadpool finishing his rant that Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is pornography. That movie starred Ryan Reynolds' wife, Blake Lively.

    - Deadpool notes that Russell has started dressing like the Unabomber. The 90s serial bomber Ted Kaczynski is mainly remembered for his police sketch that showed him wearing a hoodie and sunglasses.

    - “Sweep the leg, Johnny!” is the command that the villain from Karate Kidis told when fighting Daniel in the climax.

    - Deadpool nicknames Negasonic “Eleven,” the name of the super-powered, shaved head girl from Stranger Things.

    - Blink and you'll miss it, but a news ticker reports that "Christopher Plummer refuses role in Deadpool 2."

    Any other Easter eggs or references we’ve missed? Sound off in the comments!

    Gavin Jasper wonders if the Fat Gandalf line flub joke was planned or an improvised blooper that they kept in. Follow Gavin on Twitter!


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  • 05/17/18--23:33: Deadpool 2: Who is Cable?
  • Now that we've met Josh Brolin as Cable in Deadpool 2, the bigger question is...who the hell is Cable?

    Feature Jim Dandy
    May 17, 2018

    With Cable making his film debut in Deadpool 2, where he's played by Josh Brolin (you know, the guy in a little indie movie called Avengers: Infinity War), it’s been a common refrain amongst casual comics fans lately to ask those of us steeped in the folklore “Who is Cable and why should I care?”

    Five hours later, when our response ends with a pile of X-Men comics being used to light an effigy of Bob Harras while we chant “NO MORE RETCONS! NO MORE RETCONS!” many of those casual fans are often scared away from the X-Men, comics in general, and our homes.

    I’m here today to give you a clear, concise rundown of the history of Nathan Christopher Charles Summers...ha! Almost got it out with a straight face. The reality is Cable is a continuity black hole, but there’s a reason why he’s enduringly popular and I’m going to explain it to you in one sentence:

    He’s a badass soldier from the future.

    That’s the core of his appeal. There are layers (and layers and layers and layers...sweet Jesus are there layers) added over that, but at his core, he’s always just been a badass soldier from the future trying to build a badass army to prevent his awful future from coming to pass.

    Cable was introduced in 1990 to be a new mentor to the second generation of X-students, the New Mutants. He was more militaristic than his predecessors: Charles Xavier, the secretly monstrous founder of the Xavier school, and Magneto, the surprisingly incompetent reformed nemesis. He also showed up packing heat - he was covered in giant guns to the point where he eventually became a parody/poster child for the excesses of '90s comics. But at the same time, he was placed at the center of the third age of X-Men comics, one defined by Apocalypse and soapy family relationships.

    Cable was eventually revealed to be Nathan Christopher Summers, the child of Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor, taken into the future to save his life after he was infected with a virus that caused his body to morph into a pile of loose technology. While there, he discovered that he was destined to take down Apocalypse, the nigh-immortal mutant who eventually takes over the world and turns it into a Darwinist shitscape. He jumps back in time and takes control of the New Mutants to help further that goal.

    He becomes an interesting case study in comics storytelling - almost a decade after his first introduction, he actually succeeds in destroying Apocalypse and averting his terrible future (don’t worry, it’s comics: Apocalypse gets better). That set him adrift for a little while, but his core stayed the same. He was a badass soldier from the future, and he stayed that way whether he was fighting brushfire wars in eastern Europe, protecting a mutant messiah as they’re chased through the future like it’s Lone Wolf and X-Cub, or saving the world with his omega level telepathy and telekinesis after his techno-organic virus was completely cured.

    His link to Deadpool comes mostly from two things: they were both created by Rob Liefeld around the same time, and they shared the headlining role in one of Marvel’s better mainline hero books of the aughts, Cable and Deadpool. In that, Nate was mostly just the straight man in a straightforward superhero action/humor comic. Deadpool would do his thing (Bugs Bunny with an arsenal) while Cable did his (overpowered messiah saving the world with over-the-top action). It was a solid examination of some of Cable’s more absurd character elements, while also being a good, epic X-Men comic.

    Most recently, Cable had a new series announced at Marvel. In it, he’ll be (wait for it) a badass soldier from the future, jumping through time to protect the timestream. So it looks like they see what we’ve been enjoying, too.

    ALTERNATE VERSIONS

    - In the Age of Apocalypse, Nate Grey was a clone made by Mr. Sinister to eventually challenge Apocalypse’s dominance. He was shunted to the 616 reality at the end of that mini-event and served no purpose in the main universe for a little while, until he was later reimagined as a weird mutant shaman and continued to serve no purpose but without being a direct rip on Cable.

    - Ultimate Cable is genuinely funny. The Ultimate Universe was a stripped down version of the main Marvel universe, a direct response to '90s excesses in convoluted continuity and overused guest appearances. With that in mind, Ultimate Cable was actually a future version of Wolverine.

    - Cable also appeared as a playable character in Marvel Vs. Capcom 2. He had a giant gun beam spam move, and anyone who chose him was of loose morals.

    KEY STORIES

    New Mutants #87 - Cable’s first appearance. It’s easy to see why he got so many people pumped. Rob Liefeld’s art, while not everyone's cup of tea, was also full of energy and enthusiasm and a lot of fun to look at.

    X-Cutioner’s Song - This 1992 X-Men crossover is almost entirely gibberish. This is where the Summers connection was revealed, and it was all about Cable, Stryfe, Cyclops, Jean, and Apocalypse. The art, however, is actually pretty good. It’s got early Jae Lee, Greg Capullo, Andy Kubert ,and Brandon Peterson, and they do a great job of giving the reader something to do besides get a headache trying to chart a family tree.

    The Twelve- Again, this is not a good comic, but it’s the pivot point of Cable’s story: here is where he stopped being Apocalypse’s nemesis and started being an ex-messiah.

    Cable & Deadpool - This is where people started taking Cable seriously again. It was a fun, fairly uncomplicated superhero book that had great Deadpool moments, and did a lot of good character work on Nate.

    Messiah Complex, Cable (vol. 2), Messiah War, and X-Men: Second Coming - This is my personal favorite era of X-Men comics. The three big crossovers are all very good, and focused on Cable and Hope. Cable’s solo book is also excellent, and you get some really good Badass Nathan Summers stuff in all of these.

    X-Force vol. 4 - Simon Spurrier is a madman. This series is like if Grant Morrison played with Transformers as a kid: it’s got a vivid ‘80s feel to it, but it’s just weird and good. This series prominently features a character whose mutant power is you forget about him if you’re not looking directly at him. And it has Dr. Nemesis, who is hilarious.

    Uncanny Avengers - Gerry Duggan’s latest version of the X-Men/Avengers hybrid team has actually morphed into a follow up to Cable & Deadpool. It’s a straightforward superhero action book, but it’s got good character bits and is almost Busiek-like in its appreciation of Avengers and X-Men continuity.

    Deadpool 2 opens on May 18.


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    With X-Force officially making their movie debut in Deadpool 2, we look at the history of the team.

    Feature Jim Dandy
    May 17, 2018

    For nearly a decade, the New Mutants were the second generation of Professor Charles Xavier’s students, the wide-eyed kids finding their way through a world that hated and feared them, and was also often a demon-infested hellscape and/or Asgard. But after nearly 100 issues, Marvel was itching for a change, so they handed the reins of New Mutants to a hot new artist named Rob Liefeld, who brought a new energy, new characters, and eventually a new name to the book, carving out a thematic niche for the team that would endure for the next 30 years.

    However, that niche was wide and held a lot of different variations in it. With revelation that X-Force will play a role in Deadpool 2, and with Drew Goddard taking the reins of the upcoming X-Force movie (which will also feature Cable and Deadpool), we thought it would be worth looking at the various incarnations and iterations of X-Force, Marvel’s proactive, paramilitary-ish mutant team.

    X-Force

    The original X-Force team was a fairly logical outgrowth of the New Mutants. For years, Cannonball, Sunspot, Mirage, Magik, Cypher, Warlock, and Wolfsbane were stifled as teenage mutants trying to grow into  the second generation of mutant heroes at Xavier’s school. First under the tutelage of Professor Xavier, then under Magneto, the team was constantly rebelling against restrictions placed on them, even after those rebellions ended up getting a mess of them killed or horribly damaged.

    After leaving Magneto, and following a series of defections, deaths and new colleagues joining the team, they cast out on their own and were eventually taken under the wing of Cable, a mysterious mutant from the future, and trained not to be pacifist schoolchildren, but a preemptive strike force. The then-core team consisted of time-displaced military leader Cable; heart of the New Mutants and secretly the most popular guy in the Marvel universe Cannonball; ultimate survivor and friend of Beyonders Boom-Boom; and preternaturally fortunate mercenary Domino. They added former Hellion and younger brother of the deceased Thunderbird, Warpath; Feral, a savage, former Morlock cat lady; and Shatterstar, a Mojoverse refugee who carried two swords with parallel blades. They rebranded as X-Force and set out to influence the future by being proactive in their own time. That mission statement would stick: every reinvention of the team (but one) would be centered around using whatever means necessary to proactively protect mutantkind.

    Unfortunately, it wasn’t a very sustainable thesis for a long-term single run.

    Caught up in the tumult of real world bullpen politics, X-Forcesaw some significant changes early in its run, including the departure of its creator, Rob Liefeld, and a shift in publishing strategy towards editor-driven annual crossovers. The team added and lost members - Mirage, the Cheyenne former leader of the New Mutants; Rictor, an earthquake-causing geomorph; Siryn, Banshee’s daughter; and Sunspot, the rich Brazilian ex-New Mutant and best Avenger ever are among the most famous of the rotating cast. The ongoing changes eventually ground down the book’s identity, and while it went on being published for 100 issues, it lost the voice it burst onto the scene with and became just another X-Men book with a different cast.

    This wave of X-Force had a dying gasp. Along with the rest of the X-comic line, there was a flurry of change ahead of the new movie and the impending anniversary issue, X-Men #100. X-Force, along with Generation X and X-Man were handed over to Warren Ellis, the legendary writer who was then hip-deep in Planetaryand Transmetropolitan. He turned Cannonball, Boom-Boom, Domino, Warpath, and Bedlam into a covert ops group handled by Pete Wisdom and the British government. This lasted for roughly 15 issues before the team, and the entire core concept behind it, were overhauled completely.

    X-Statix

    Marvel, crawling out of creative and financial bankruptcy, appointed almost entirely new leadership in their comic division around 2001. Joe Quesada, the new Editor-in-Chief, brought with him a former Vertigo editor, Axel Alonso, who himself brought his Vertigo sensibility to Marvel. That meant hiring some...odd picks...for his team books.

    Peter Milligan’s most famous work to this point had been a thoroughly weird revamp of Shade, the Changing Man, that was more a musing on mental illness than it was a superhero comic. Mike Allred created Madman, a deep indie superhero who was as much pop art as it was story. They were...not a natural fit for the paramilitary underground mutant group that X-Force had been, so Milligan, Allred and Alonso changed the team to be a send up of all millennial pop culture. Characters like Phat, U-Go Girl, or someone who DEFINITELY WASN’T a resurrected Princess Diana were a mix of Britney Spears and reality television stars. The book was a pretty savage takedown of pop culture and superhero comics, with the entire team being killed off more than once and the title changing from X-Force to X-Statix.

    Unfortunately, the book was also not a great seller, so despite its critical acclaim, the series was cancelled after two years and the X-Force name lay fallow for a bit.

    Check out the weirdest X-Force comics ever on Amazon

    Mutants with Knives and Claws

    Following a couple of original X-Force miniseries by creator Rob Liefeld, the X-line braintrust found a compelling story reason for reintroducing the team name to the world. After House of M depowered all but 200 of the world’s mutants, and a series of attacks by mutant hating foes The Purifiers killed a gaggle of the remaining students, the X-world went nuts when the first mutant in years was born in Alaska. Cyclops, teetering on the edge of becoming a full fledged revolutionary, pulled together a team to find and secure the baby, and eventually bring her to him. This team consisted of Caliban (clawed ex-Morlock with tracking powers), Warpath (giant inaugural X-Force member who carried two big knives), Wolfsbane (lycanthropic, clawed ex-New Mutant), Hepzibah (designated Sexy Cat Lady of the Starjammers, who had claws), Wolverine (you know this guy), and X-23 (Wolverine clone with knife claws in her knuckles and feet).

    Eventually, the baby was sent into the future with Cable, but Cyclops found having his own hit squad to be fairly useful, especially with the mass-murdering Purifiers still in the world, so he kept them around as his black ops team. The team eventually gained several members, including Elixir, Domino, Archangel and Vanisher, while others left or were dropped, like Wolfsbane or Hepzibah. Craig Kyle and Chris Yost wrote this as a sort of follow up to their prior X-work - they previously helmed New X-Men: Academy X where they were the writers responsible for a teenage bloodbath, killing somewhere in the vicinity of 50 students of Xavier’s school in their tenure. The Purifiers were responsible for most of those deaths, so naturally they spend a good chunk of this run getting ripped to shreds.

    Clayton Crain digitally painted the majority of these issues, and his dark colors matched the book’s tone well. Eventually during Second Coming, the existence of Cyclops’ personal hit squad was revealed, forcing him to disband and disavow X-Force.

    They got better, though.

    Uncanny X-Force

    There is a superhero comics criticism theory that says that cape stories cycle every 20 years or so - that Marvel tries to recreate Peter Parker for every generation of readers, or that Grant Morrison was just riffing on Chris Claremont’s five big stories. Rick Remender and Jerome Opena took over the X-Force team in 2010, and, following this theory, started mining Apocalypse’s lore for everything he was worth. The major difference between Uncanny X-Force and its ‘90s ancestors is this book is one of the greatest X-Men comics of all time.

    Remender’s Uncanny X-Force follows on the heels of Yost/Kyle’s, and takes a somewhat different team off to a dark corner of the X-Men universe. It opens with Wolverine, Psylocke, Deadpool, Archangel, and Fantomex as they discover that Apocalypse, the evil, immortalish mutant responsible for some of the greatest horrors in mutant history, was being reincarnated by the cult dedicated to his worship. When they arrive, they discover that Apocalypse is actually a preteen being groomed to develop into En Sabah Nur, and what follows is the superhero equivalent of a “Should we kill baby Hitler” argument. Fantomex tires of the argument, and shoots the kid in the head. The rest of the series has the team deal with the fallout of this decision: musings on fate and destiny; the slow descent of one of their own into Apocalypse’s heir; a deep, DEEP continuity dive on Apocalypse’s history in all its multiversal forms; the weaponization of the Superman myth to save the world; and two of the most heartbreaking death scenes in any comic ever.

    This series more than any other was the logical goal of the X-Force line of mutant storytelling. It was a deconstruction of the “proactive paramilitary group” trope, weaved together with bits of X-Men lore and some cool Deathlok stuff. If you haven’t read it yet, this is HIGHLY recommended.

    Read Uncanny X-Force on Amazon

    Cable’s Return

    The critical acclaim that Remender’s Uncanny X-Force brought led to Marvel trying to cash in on its popularity. They followed it up with two books: a second volume of Uncanny X-Force, where Psylocke, Bishop, Storm, Puck (from Alpha Flight) and ⅔ of Fantomex, where the thrust of the story was about Psylocke trying to accept or move past her self-identification as a killer after the events of the previous series. The other book was Cable & X-Force, where Cable led a team with Dr. Nemesis, Colossus, Domino, Hope, Boom Boom and Forge.

    This team operated in a more similar way to the traditional X-Force mission statement: Cable’s powers had gone awry, giving him glimpses into the near future. He used this team to try and prevent the visions from coming to pass. Neither of these books were terribly substantive (though Cable & X-Force did introduce a relationship between Colossus and Domino that turned out to be a lot of fun), and both were cancelled after a year and a half or so.

    X-Force proper had one last gasp before its current status. Simon Spurrier and Rock-He Kim reimagined the team as the intelligence service for a newly sovereign mutant race. He took Cable, Psylocke, Marrow, Fantomex, and Dr. Nemesis, and matched them with new member MeMe (a sentient computer program), and had them battle underground threats to the mutant race, like a Russian businessman repowering former mutants and turning them into weapons, or Strikeforce Morituri. Really.

    This version of X-Force was interesting, but not exactly a sales darling. It was cancelled in 2015 after 15 issues, and the X-Force moniker has not been used to headline a book since.

    Uncanny X-...Men?

    In recent years, as the X-Men line has edged closer to creative and financial insolvency, Marvel decided to take the concept of a proactive group of mutants doing morally questionable things and made that the point of the entire line of comics. Following the detonation of a Terrigen bomb, the X-Men found themselves in a world that hated and feared them that was also poisonous to them. The majority of the X-Men retreated to Limbo, while a small group (Magneto, Psylocke, M, Mystique, Fantomex and a reformed/inverted don’t ask Sabretooth) did “whatever it took” to protect mutants on Earth. Because this was the main theme of the entire X-Line, this team was published under the name Uncanny X-Men, and recently wrapped following the big IvX crossover where the X-Men fought the Inhumans and their oldest, deadliest foe: a cloud.

    It’s not good, and it was scrapped when the most recent relaunch, ResurrXion, kicked off.

    Movie X-Force

    With New Mutants and Deadpool 2 wrapped, Fox signed Drew Goddard (of Daredevil and The Martian fame) to take over development of X-Force as the next property in their slate of X-movies, and judging by early news, his take will fall right in the middle of the spirit implied by the name. Goddard said the new team will be a mutant black ops group led by Deadpool and Cable, with founding members Domino and Shatterstar, while the rest of the team may be a kind of ragtag group of mutants we meet in Deadpool 2. It sounds like if you’re a long-time fan of X-Force teams, it’s okay to be cautiously optimistic about the movie version.


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