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

    FeatureKayti Burt
    May 18, 2018

    Hello, all!

    We have launched a Den of Geek Book Club as a place to recommend, discuss, and obsess over our favorite fantasy, science fiction, and horror books. Join us in discussing our latest pick...

    May/June Pick: Ship It by Britta Lundin

    Riverdale is one of Den of Geek's favorite shows, so when we heard one of its writers was coming out with her debut novel, you better believe we put it on our must-read list.

    Britta Lundin's Ship It is the story of a teen fanfiction writer, Claire, who is pulled into the behind-the-scenes world of her favorite TV show, and Forest, one of the show's male leads who understands absolutely nothing about fandom. Ship It is an exploration of fandom, queerness, TV creation, and love in its many forms. Read our full review here, then check out our podcast interview with Lundin.

    Join the Ship It discussion over on the Den of Geek Book Club Goodreads page.

    April/May Pick: The Power by Naomi Alderman

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

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

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

    March/April Pick: Children of Blood & Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

    Children of Blood and Bone is the first book in the West African-inspired fantasy series Legacy of Orisha. The debut from 24-year-old Tomi Adeyemi made waves when it was bought by Macmillan for a reported seven-figure sum.

    The story follows Zelie, a girl who lost her mother in the purge of magic executed by Orisha's totalitarian ruler, Saran. In the first book, Zelie sets out to restore magic to the land and take down Saran, with a little help from her friends: a giant lionaire, her older brother Tzain, and Princess Amari. Prince Inan, another protagonist in the book, pursues Zelie as she undergoes her quest, torn between his family and, you know, doing the right thing.

    Read our full review of Children of Blood and Bone.

    Children of Blood and Bone is a promising start to a new young adult fantasy series that is set to take the world by storm. Head over to our Den of Geek Book Club page to join the discussion!

    February/March Pick: All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

    All Our Wrong Todays is a time travel novel where the "wrong" timeline is our own. When protagonist Tom Barren travels back in time using his father's technology, he changes the world from a utopia where the problems of war, poverty, and under-ripe avocados have been solved, into, well, this one. By centering our timeline as the "wrong" one, author Elan Mastai subverts many of the classic time travel narrative trope, giving us a fresh science fiction novel for anyone who worries they're living in the darkest timeline.

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

    January/February Pick: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

    Binti by Nnedi Okorafor is a Hugo Award-winning novella about a young African woman who leaves her home on Earth for the first time to attend an intergalactic university on another planet. On the voyage, something goes terribly wrong, forcing Binti to rely on her mathematic skills and her culture to survive.

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

    The Afrofuturist space adventure novella is unlike anything I have ever read, coming from one of the most exciting authors working in science fiction right now. The story continues in two follow-up novellas already published.

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


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    Amazingly, the last batch was so good we actually needed more.

    NewsJim Dandy
    May 21, 2018

    DC Comics has decided to follow up on the absurd, insanely good Batman/Elmer Fudd Special that was on a mess of Best Comics of 2017 lists (including ours!) with a new batch of DC and Looney Tunes crossovers. And, as announced, it seems like they took all the most important lessons from their last wave of these books. The first collection of DC/Looney Tunes books had Sam Humphries writing a Legion of Superheroes/Bugs Bunny story that was a note perfect sendup of classic Legion comics; Barry Kitson drawing an absurdly beautiful Wonder Woman/Tasmanian Devil tale; Kelley Jones nailing the surrealist slapstick of a Lobo/Road Runner cartoon; and the aforementioned Batman/Elmer Fudd tale from Lee Weeks and Tom King.

    The books announced for this wave include:

     

    Catwoman/Tweety and Sylvester Special from Gail Simone and Inaki Miranda. The two worked together on Birds of Prey, and Miranda was most recently seen on the surprisingly good Ragman relaunch. The story has Catwoman and Sylvester teaming up to get Tweety, so Tweety recruits Black Canary, and an all out war ensues between the cat people and the bird people of the DC Universe. So there's a reasonable chance that in addition to Simone's Birds of Prey being heavily referenced, we'll also see Catman and her Secret Six as well. 

    Harley Quinn/Gossamer Special, from the classic Harley writing team of Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, and art from Pier Brito. Putting Gossamer on Coney Island is perfect. Doubly so since her-own-book Harley is basically Bugs Bunny anyway. I'd be happy if this comic was just "Hair Raising Hare" but with Harley. Also, be on the lookout for the backup here: it's written by Sholly Fisch, who wrote a bunch of Action Comics backups during Grant Morrison's tenure and wrote some of the best Superman stories ever.

    Joker/Daffy Duck Special from Scott Lobdell and Brett Booth. The story looks pretty clever - Daffy goes to find ACME's headquarters and ends up in an abandoned ACME warehouse in Gotham where he's recruited by the Joker to be a henchman.

    And finally, Lex Luthor/Porky Pig special from Mark Russell and Brad Walker. You might remember Russell from The Snagglepuss Chronicles or Flintstones or Prez or God Is Disappointed In You. Porky gets hired by Lexcorp and ends up having to take the fall before Congress for corporate malfeasance. This...should be very good.

    Each book is $4.99, and they're all out on August 29th. For more on these DC/Looney Tunes crossovers or to hear my Starro the Conqueror/Slowpoke Rodriguez pitch, stick with Den of Geek!


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    Vril Dox hasn't been around DC Universe continuity in a long time. Justice League: No Justice changes that. Here's an exclusive preview.

    NewsJim Dandy
    May 21, 2018

    Justice League: No Justice, the follow up to Dark Nights: Metal has been more compressed than its predecessor, but equally bonkers. Consider:

    - Brainiac captured members of the two Justice Leagues, the various Titans, a couple of magic users, and the Suicide Squad to help him "save" his home planet, Colu.

    - Brainiac teamed the heroes with a group of villains that includes Sinestro, Lex Luthor, and STARRO THE MFING CONQUEROR before breaking everyone off into separate groups.

    - Turns out Colu is being attacked by a group of Celes...elder beings from beyond the Source Wall (which, of course, was broken in Metal).

    - Amanda Waller has every psychic on Earth try and pry into Brainiac's mind to find out what he's up to.

    - Waller accidentally kills Brainiac.

    - Waller finds a Death See...sorry, the roots of the elders' next harvest on Earth.

    - The team ups attempt to save Colu by breaking Vril Dox, Brainiac's son, out of supermax.

    This is all wonderful. Of course, Dox is a predecessor of the great Brainiac 5 from the Legion of Superheroes, and a founder of the Licensed Extra Governmental Interstellar Operatives Network (or the L.E.G.I.O.N.). He hasn't really appeared in continuity since the New 52 relaunch, but he's so steeped in DC's weird, glorious space stuff that it wasn't until his appearance at the end of issue 2 that it clicked that we're really doing this space thing, and I am HERE for it.

    In this exclusive preview of Justice League: No Justice #3 sent over by DC, we pick up right after that reveal, with Dox telling the Earthers that they were betrayed from the start and Martian Manhunter getting all melancholy with Starro the Emotionally Mature Partner in Telepathy. Here's what they have to say about the issue:

    JUSTICE LEAGUE: NO JUSTICE #3
    Written by SCOTT SNYDER, JAMES TYNION IV and JOSHUA WILLIAMSONArt by RILEY ROSSMO and MARCUS TOCover by FRANCIS MANAPULStarfire makes a crushing discovery, Beast Boy uncovers a shocking betrayal, and Cyborg and Wonder Woman are forced to make decisions that will have devastating repercussions for all four teams…and potentially for those they left behind on Earth.

    Take a look at this preview, and try not to beg DC to give Riley Rossmo every book in their line.


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    Dick Tracy will return to comic books with an all-new adventure for the first time in nearly 30 years.

    NewsMike Cecchini
    May 21, 2018

    While the Dick Tracy comic strip has run continuously in newspapers since its inception in 1931, the most famous detective in all of comics has been notably absent from comic books in recent decades. Other than reprints of his comic strip adventures, there haven't been new/original Dick Tracy adventures in actual comic book form since Kyle Baker and John Moore published their "True Hearts and Tommy Guns Trilogy" in 1990, which was an extension of the Dick Tracy movie universe.

    Why is this? Who knows? The Dick Tracy rights are a weird morass of legalities, and it's one of the reasons we not only never got a sequel to the 1990 movie, but why there have been no other screen adventures for comics' greatest cop (Bruce Campbell, for example, wanted to develop a Dick Tracy TV series at one point). A recently announced Archie Comics Dick Tracy reboot looked really promising, but was rubbed out before it saw the light of day, thanks in no small part to whatever weirdness it is that surrounds the publishing rights to the character.

    But now Hermes Press, purveyors of fine comic strip reprints and more, have apparently figured it all out. In Summer 2019 they're going to release a brand new Dick Tracy graphic novel by Richard Pietrzyk, who spent years working on the Dick Tracy comic strip in consultation with Tracy creator Chester Gould.

    Hermes Press describes the story as a "film noir" adventure and that it "will take place during the 1940s and will be in the mold of classic years of the feature." While Pietrzyk indeed worked on the classic Dick Tracy strip, Hermes still describes the new project as a "reboot of the series" which "will remain true to the origins of the character." Does this mean that they're starting Dick Tracy fresh in his relatively early days as a detective, but moving his origin story from the early 1930s to the 1940s? That's not clear at this time. It's worth noting that the Archie Comics version that sadly never came to pass appeared to be looking to take a similar approach, too.

    "What I want to bring into the story of the graphic novel is a few of the ideas and stories that I brainstormed with [Dick Tracy creator] Chester [Gould]," Pietrzyk says in a statement. "In a sense, he’s going to have a finger in this book. Every time I showed up at his house we’d go over characters, and I showed him some 40 characters over the years. Some of those characters will appear in this graphic novel, and some of those story ideas will be used as well. I kicked around a lot of things with him that I hope to use in the novel. I’m very excited and ready to get started!"

    In any case, whether this takes place in a new Dick Tracy continuity or firmly in continuity with the classic years, Tracy's return to comic books is long overdue and certainly welcome. The new Dick Tracy graphic novel will arrive in 2019.


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    Both Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson are great choices to take up the mantle of Captain America in the MCU.

    Feature Kayti Burt
    May 21, 2018

    This story contains spoilers for the ending of Avengers: Infinity War.

    Steve Rogers may have lived to see another day at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, but his days as Captain America are contractually numbered. Presumably, the Marvel Cinematic Universe will pass the vibranium shield onto an already-established character in the MCU following the still as-of-yet-untitled Avengers 4. But who will it be?

    In the comics, both Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson take over for their friend. Sure, they were both a victim of Thanos' snap come the end of Infinity War, but we're skeptical either death will stick. Which one should become Captain America following Chris Evans' inevitable departure? Let's look at the pros and cons...

    Bucky Barnes as Captain America

    If Sebastian Stan's comments are anything to go by, the possibility that Bucky will assume the Captain America mantle after Steve Rogers is more likely — but nothing is certainly set in stone (at least if you're not a Marvel insider). In many respects, a Bucky-Cap would be more emotionally rewarding than seeing Sam Wilson take up the job. We have spent more time with Bucky, who was introduced in Phase One in Captain America: The First Avenger and he has had a much more tragic backstory (though Sam has, admittedly, endured his fair share of trauma).

    The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been building a Bucky redemption story since Phase One, when he was first introduced as a hero, to Phase Two, when it was discovered that he was turned into a villain against his will, to Phase Three, where his salvation is the emotional linchpin to the civil war between Tony and Steve. Bucky is arguably more important than any other supporting character in the MCU. It wouldn't be surprising if it was Marvel's plan to eventually give him the shield. More than that, it would be incredibly rewarding as a viewer: the perfect next step for Bucky's larger MCU character arc.

    Sam Wilson as Captain America

    Bucky may seem the likeliest choice for the MCU's next Cap, but I wouldn't count Sam Wilson out just yet. Introduced in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Sam has been Steve's closest confidante and most trusted ally ever since. When Bucky was off trying to work through the layers and layers of programming Hydra forced upon him, Sam was helping Steve work through his own trauma — something The Avengers could use a little more of, to be honest.

    Sam not only has some badass Falcon skills (and wing-less hand-to-hand combat skills, which he showed off in his fight with Rumlow in the third act of The Winter Soldier), but he is arguably the most mentally healthy of all of The Avengers — he certainly is better balanced than Bucky. Sure, "Best Mental Health — The Avengers" isn't an incredibly competitive category — these heroes are justifiably messed up from all of the trauma they have respectively and collectively experienced — but it's a valid one.

    As Steve has proven time and time again, Captain America often has to function as the steady, reliable leader of the group. The Avengers rely on Steve's (mostly) even-keeled leadership to stay together. As Civil War proves, when Steve's leadership and dedication to team allegiance is compromised, The Avengers will splinter.

    Bucky is arguably a better fighter than Sam, but Sam is a much better choice for leader. With his background as a facilitator of PTSD soldier support groups, he's kind of the perfect guy for the job because, let's face it, what The Avengers need right now more than anything else, is a good therapist.

    Who do you think should be the next Captain America? Sound off in the comments below.


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    Catwoman is getting a new costume designed by writer-artist Joelle Jones. Check it out here!

    NewsJohn Saavedra
    May 22, 2018

    Big things are coming for Catwoman in the next few months. In July, she's marrying Batman as well as getting her own solo series from the brilliant writer-artist Joelle Jones. Now it's also been revealed by DC that the Cat is getting a brand new costume, which will debut on Aug. 1 in Catwoman #2.

    "Selina’s sticking with the black, but gone are the goggles in favor of a cowl, along with some much sleeker, more stylish gloves and boots,"DC explained in a press release. "The new costume also seems to have some reinforcement in the middle and some openings under her shoulders, which add a bit of flair while also giving her arms slightly more mobility—something that would be particularly important in Selina’s…ahem, line of work."

    Take a look for yourself:

    Indeed, this new costume does change up a few key things. The goggles are the biggest tweak of all. While you might not know this if you've only followed Catwoman on the big screen, the goggles have been a trademark part of the Cat's look in the comics since the early 2000s. Jones favors a more classic cowl in her redesign, though, and we have to say it looks great. 

    In case you missed it, Jones is only the second woman to draw the main Batman book after Becky Cloonan back in the New 52 days. Her stunning work in Batman thus far has been an absolute masterclass in visual storytelling. Just go back and read "Rules of Engagement," the last two parts of "Superfriends," and the dreamy "Something Blue" to see what we're talking about.

    Or better yet, check out her creator-owned series, Lady Killer, which is about a 1960s housewife who moonlights as an assassin! It's outrageous.

    If you want more Jones Catwoman, DC has also dropped the solicitation for Catwoman #2 and the cover, which you can check out below:

    CATWOMAN #2

    Written by JOELLE JONES
    Art and cover by JOELLE JONES

    Gotham’s a toxic litter box for Selina Kyle of late, so she hits the road looking to clear the air, change her look and clear her name, too—there’s a copycat burglar swiping her M.O. who needs sorting out. In her hometown, Catwoman runs afoul of a crime boss who’s also hunting this impostor. Can the two declare a truce to hunt a mutual enemy, or will Selina end up just more roadkill?

    On sale AUGUST 1 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T+


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    Vanessa is only one of the many loves of Wade Wilson's life. For a guy who looks like an avocado, Deadpool gets around.

    Feature Gavin Jasper
    May 22, 2018

    In the Deadpoolmovie, one of the jokes in the marketing was portraying it as a love story to tie in with the fact that it came out just before Valentine's Day. It's not exactly lying as Wade's actions are all motivated by love.

    Sure, he may look like a sculpture made of dried bubble gum and he has some serious personality problems, but Wade Wilson has a lengthy list of love interests over the years. The sense of humor and abs probably help. He's been married a handful of times. The guy gets around. Let's take a look at the ladies of his life who could look past his skin texture.

    COPYCAT

    Vanessa Carlyle

    Don't let that blue-skinned appearance fool you. That's the same Vanessa that Morena Baccarin plays in the movie.

    Copycat lived with Wade years ago, when he was a simple mercenary. The two would likely have been married and spent the rest of their lives together, but then Wade came down with a bad case of cancer, told Vanessa to hit the road, moved on to Weapon X and things got complicated. Since Vanessa was a mutant shapeshifter, the two ended up working together after Wade became Deadpool. Around this time, Deadpool was complete human garbage and not only treated her badly, but at one point tried to kill her. Copycat left him for Garrison Kane, a character who isn't allowed to appear outside of the 1990s without first informing his parole officer.

    It was under this scenario that Deadpool enacted his first in-comic heroic action when he saved Copycat's life. Her powers were a mix between Mystique's shapeshifting and Rogue's power copying, so when she was mortally wounded, Deadpool tore off the top of his uniform and hugged her so that she'd copy his powers and heal herself.

    When Deadpool became more of a good guy, Copycat targeted him and failed. Then she tried to get back with him through disguising herself as various women interested in dating him. Deadpool later admitted that he knew it was her and the two rekindled their relationship.

    Copycat became aware of Deadpool's friendship with Siryn, became jealous and left him. Another reason why she left came from issues with her powers. She started working with a reformed Weapon X and they enhanced her abilities, but there were some serious side-effects. Weapon X brought Deadpool back into the loop and gave him the mission of killing Copycat. Deadpool instead rebelled and tried to save her life. She was sliced to ribbons by Sabretooth and died in Deadpool's arms, swearing that she always loved him.

    Every writer practically forgot about this afterwards, as Deadpool had crossed paths with Sabretooth on occasion and never had the sensible, violent reaction. It wasn't until AFTER the movie was released when Deadpool even brought that up. Even then, it was a secondary reason for him to consider killing Sabretooth.

    SIRYN

    Theresa Cassidy

    Due to a history between Banshee and Deadpool, Siryn ended up working alongside Wade during an adventure where they battled Juggernaut and Black Tom. During a fight with Juggernaut, Deadpool's mask came off and he begged Siryn not to look. Her gasp at seeing his face broke him down, but then she coaxed him with her touch and apologized. From there, Deadpool became infatuated with her and would regularly watch over her when she was asleep.

    She later admitted knowing he was there and feeling safe about it. Still creepy!

    Siryn acted as the angel on Deadpool's shoulder for a while, trying to steer him in the right direction. Unfortunately, Deadpool had a devil in Typhoid Mary, who disguised herself as Siryn and had sex with him, which caused him to have a major emotional breakdown. Once things with her team, X-Factor, settled down, she tried to get back with Deadpool, only for Copycat to take Deadpool's form and beat her up, causing her to despise him. She forgave him at some point, although the passion was gone.

    When dealing with a ton of depression due to the deaths of her father and her baby, Siryn had a one night stand with Deadpool. She seemed to regret it immediately and told him that it was over between them the morning after.

    DEATH

    Ah, the classic star-crossed lover story. The man who can't die and the woman who is literally the embodiment of dying.

    When being experimented on in Weapon X, Wade was so close to dying most of the time that he was able to see Death looming over him. Wade found himself in love with the skull-faced entity and she grew to love him too, what with him carrying the stench of murder.

    As torturous as his days in Weapon X were, it was his time with Death that made it bearable. He planned to goad super-powered orderly and all-around jerk the Attending into killing him (mainly by calling him his real name of Francis), but Attending took out his frustrations on Worm, a fellow experiment who idolized Wade and even gave him the name Deadpool. Attending removed Deadpool's heart, which should have killed him, but as much as he wanted to spend his eternity with Death, Deadpool found his body healing for the sake of carrying out revenge in the name of Worm.

    Once that business was done with, Deadpool couldn't hear nor see Death anymore. Occasionally, he'd reach a state of near-death good enough to be able to meet with her until he was actually killed. Before the two could touch, Deadpool was revived on Earth. Turned out a jealous Thanos had used a cosmic artifact to give Deadpool eternal life.

    A more recent adventure between Deadpool and Thanos ended with not only the end to Deadpool's immortality curse, but he had a falling out with Death and moved on.

    MERCEDES WILSON

    A major climactic moment happened in Deadpool's solo series where a cosmic being that spreads pure bliss came to Earth and turned everyone into drooling, happy vegetables. Deadpool chose free will and killed the creature. The whole incident caused some repressed memories to return and he started to see visions of a specific woman wherever he went. He ended up finding this woman, who he began to remember as his wife Mercedes, and the two were equally confused. Especially when it was established by supervillain the Black Talon that Mercedes had died and was mysteriously brought back to life.

    Deadpool told the story of how he and Mercedes were happy together until evil mercenary T-Ray showed up at their home, half-dead. They took him in and in return, T-Ray killed Mercedes. Deadpool and Mercedes tried to run off to live happily ever after, but T-Ray caught up with them and revealed the truth: T-Ray was the real Wade Wilson and Mercedes was his wife. The two of them took in a mercenary named Jack who proceeded to kill Wade in an attempt to steal his life and accidentally took out Mercedes too. Then he believed himself to really be Wade Wilson and we got another big piece of Deadpool's origin.

    This was meant to break Deadpool, but despite being shown the possibly thousands of people he's killed over the years, the only victim he ever truly felt guilty about was Mercedes. Then he pointed out that he's at least trying to be better while T-Ray resurrected his dead wife for no reason other than revenge. Mercedes turned on T-Ray, but made Deadpool aware that she never wanted anything to do with him ever again.

    ANASTASIA

    In a story that seemed more Punisher than Deadpool, our hero was hired by some police officers to assassinate a handful of mobsters. Deadpool agreed because he needed the money and killing a bunch of bad people isn't the worst thing he could do to earn it. His contact was Anastasia, an attractive tattoo artist that Deadpool fell for immediately, partially for her dark sense of humor. On his third visit, she said that she really needed to give him a tattoo or else people would get suspicious, which led to Deadpool having to unmask in front of her. To his surprise, she seemed rather into his grotesque features.

    Deadpool would continue his job and would regularly come back to spend time with Anna. Fearing for her safety, he gave her a bunch of money and a phone, telling her to leave town until the whole thing blew over. Then it turned out to be one of those situations where everybody involved was corrupt and stabbing each other in the back.

    Anna turned on Deadpool and knocked him out with a shovel to the head. She buried him alive, but dug him up when her situation went south and she needed any help she could get. Once things were done with, Deadpool refused to trust her, feeling used from the beginning. Anna swore that that wasn't the case and handed Deadpool a gun. If Deadpool truly felt that way, he'd shoot her dead, but she was confident that he wouldn't.

    Deadpool shot her dead.

    He felt guilty about it for a while and was surprised when it turned out she was still alive. He married her in Vegas, but she was gone the morning after. What Deadpool never did realize was that Anna actually was dead. This was just Copycat messing with him.

    OUTLAW

    "Crazy" Inez Temple

    After pulling off a spectacularly impossible mob hit, Deadpool became the top name in mercenary killings and the envy of everyone in his line of work. While at the gym, he met fellow mercenary Outlaw, a cowgirl with the mutant power of enhanced strength. The two flirted and even crossed paths before one of his missions later on, but nothing of note happened. Mainly because Deadpool fell off the radar soon after and was believed to be dead.

    Outlaw fell in love with Alex Hayden, otherwise known as Agent X. Due to his healing factor, personality, scarred features, competency as a killer, and the fact that he showed up shortly after Deadpool went missing, many believed him to be Deadpool with amnesia. Their relationship came to an end when Alex cheated on her with his secretary Sandi (which was more of an instance of fill-in writer Evan Dorkin not quite getting the characters), but she at least stayed close to him as a member of his new organization Agency X. Around this time, Deadpool came back into play and he found himself teaming up with Agency X multiple times.

    At first, Deadpool's relationship with Outlaw never got much further than flirting and the occasional game of strip poker. During the story Suicide Kings, Deadpool was on the run due to belief that he caused a terrorist explosion. He hit on her a bit, but she swore that she had a boyfriend as a way to shut him up. Trouble followed, destroying Outlaw's apartment and causing her to be very cross with Deadpool.

    Once the adventure was done with, Deadpool spent a lot of money on getting Outlaw a new place to live. Since she could tell that Wade did this out of the goodness of his heart and not for the sake of getting into her pants, she rewarded him by letting him get into her pants.

    The two got married at some point, despite Alex's warnings. The honeymoon was far too much for Deadpool to handle, considering Outlaw's sexual eagerness mixed with her super strength. His body simply couldn't heal itself back together fast enough and his pelvis ended up in a thousand pieces over and over. The marriage soon got annulled.

    In other continuities, Outlaw has been the go-to love interest for Deadpool. In Deadpool MAX, she was a sex-starved psychopath meant to mix Outlaw, Domino, and Copycat into the same entity and was obsessed with Deadpool to the point of carrying a baby doll with her and insisting that it was his. In Deadpool Pulp, she played the femme fatale who acted as Wade's old flame on the other side of right and wrong. In the end, he had to kill her to save the US from a massive nuclear explosion.

    GRETCHEN WILSON

    Not much is really known about Gretchen. Years back, there was a miniseries called Identity Disc that was very blatantly the Usual Suspects starring a group of supervillains and had "Identity" in the title to cash in on DC Comics' big event comic Identity Crisis. The Kaiser Soze stand-in had a specific reason for each bad guy to do his dirty work, whether it was a way to help them or strictly blackmail. When killing time with Bullseye, Deadpool explained that his reward would be information on where to find his first wife Gretchen, who has a restraining order on him.

    He never did get his payoff due to the shocking reveal that the Vulture was behind everything (with the added shocker that he really wasn't). The story wasn't very good. Deadpool was last shown sadly looking over a photo of this woman we've never heard of before or after this storyline. I'm sure she was very nice.

    BLACK WIDOW

    "Yelena Belova"

    Early in Daniel Way's Deadpoolrun, the Merc with a Mouth ran afoul of Norman Osborn and became a thorn in the Goblin's side. The newest Thunderbolts team was sent to go deal with him, also very fresh into Andy Diggle's run on that series. Deadpool had a comparatively easy time dealing with the Thunderbolts except for team leader, Black Widow Yelena Belova. She was able to hold her own and between her fighting skills and looks, so Deadpool ended up going dopey and asked if she had a boyfriend.

    At first, Yelena rolled her eyes at his advances, but soon found herself laughing at his one-liners. Yelena was frustrated and amused by his antics, including how he flew a plane towing a banner with his phone number on it. During a fight between the two, Deadpool grabbed her close and kissed her. Black Widow was shocked by this and asked why he'd do that. From Deadpool's fevered point of view, he saw her as Death and told her he loved her.

    Deadpool was decapitated during the story and Yelena helped him by sticking his head back onto his shoulders and letting his healing factor do the rest. Down the line, unbeknownst to Deadpool, we found out that it was never Yelena in the first place, but the more heroic Black Widow Natasha Romanova trying to take down Osborn from the inside. Deadpool and Natasha did cross paths at another time, where he got some mixed signals and received a punch to the face for his troubles.

    ORKSA

    Deadpool took on intergalactic bounty hunter Macho Gomez, where at the end of their battle, Deadpool commandeered his spaceship and sent Gomez to his supposed death. Unfortunately for Deadpool, he found out that Gomez was affiliated with his in-laws' outer space towing business and soon our merc protagonist got roped into that.

    The gigantic Orksa was furious with Deadpool taking out her husband, but Deadpool calmed her down with a kiss and the two ended up getting married on the spot. This was Orksa's fourth marriage, which annoyed Obb, a coworker with eyes for her (er... eye for her because he's a freaky alien). Obb made a couple attempts at taking out Deadpool and failed, but Deadpool spared his life when realizing Obb's reasons for doing it. After helping some less-fortunate aliens survive a cokehead planetoid (yes, really), the two returned to Orksa, who realized that she had feelings for Obb. Deadpool divorced her, returned to Earth and noticed that he may have developed a fetish for chubby girls.

    SATANA HELLSTROM

    Deadpool was hired by Satana, sister of the Son of Satan (daughter of the father of the Son of Satan?). She had lost a bet with a group of nerds and was forced to marry one of them. Deadpool was cool with just killing them and going on his way, but they turned out to be human forms of various top-ranking Marvel demons like Mephisto and Dormammu. That's where he came up with plan B: marry Satana. Hey, if they were married, she wasn't allowed to get married to any demons!

    Asmodeus ended up getting the go-ahead to pursue Satana and thought he'd deal with Deadpool's trick by just killing him and taking care of the "death do us part" aspect of his marriage. Satana had magically enhanced Deadpool's soul and weaponry, which was just enough to take Asmodeus down. Unfortunately for Deadpool, once that was done with, Satana had their marriage annulled and took half of Deadpool's soul before they could even do the honeymoon mambo.

    And Satana is someone who's gotten frisky with Ghost from Thunderbolts, a guy who goes months without bathing. That's got to hurt Deadpool right in the confidence.

    CARMELITA CAMACHO

    In a story that takes place just a few years ago in terms of continuity, yet "came out in the '70s," a long-lost comic featuring an afro-sporting Deadpool teaming up with the Heroes for Hire led to him hooking up with Carmelita. Her father was killed by albino pimp the White Man and her mother hired Power Man and Iron Fist to rescue Carmelita from the kidnapper's clutches. Deadpool insisted on joining them because he simply felt like getting in the way and being a comedic nuisance. He ended up being caught by the White Man and was sent to rot with Carmelita. The two were in the midst of some sexual action when Luke Cage burst through the wall, horrified at what he was seeing.

    The heroes stopped the White Man and all was good, but once Carmelita saw Deadpool's face, she freaked out and ran away. That should have been the end of the story, but she returned sometime later with a daughter Eleanor, claiming it was Wade's and that she wanted some child support. He said Eleanor was too beautiful to be his and yelled at Carmelita to leave him alone...mainly for their own good.

    Some time later, the sinister Butler kidnapped Carmelita and Eleanor for the sake of blackmailing Deadpool to do his bidding. Deadpool tried to liberate them, as well as the loved ones of others that Butler and the North Korean government were experimenting on, but only few survived. To his outright horror, Deadpool found Carmelita's body in a pit of bullet-ridden victims. Witnessed by Captain America and Wolverine, Deadpool broke down and cursed himself for causing all this death just because he insisted on tagging along with Cage and Iron Fist all those years ago.

    Thankfully, Eleanor is alive and well. She doesn't live with Wade, but they're still very close.

    SHIKLAH

    Most notably in the past few years, Deadpool's main squeeze was Shiklah. Deadpool was hired by Dracula himself to unearth a slumbering succubus that Dracula was intent on marrying to bring their monster kingdoms together. Although Shiklah tried to suck Deadpool's energies with a kiss, she was shocked to see him survive it. Together, the two went on an adventure to reach Dracula, falling for each other on the way. This worked out for the better, as Dracula changed his plans and wanted Shiklah's death.

    To screw with that arranged marriage, Deadpool and Shiklah got married on the way to fighting Dracula. Afterwards, they had a real wedding with various members of Deadpool's supporting cast and a bunch of the superhero community showing up.

    While Shiklah ruled her underground kingdom of monsters, Deadpool ducked out often to fulfill his duties as a mercenary and Avenger. While the two were crazy for each other, time had strained their relationship and a glimpse into the future shows a coming war between the two, as well as a scarred, succubus daughter who doesn't think too highly of her father.

    Shiklah ended up leaving Deadpool for Dracula anyway, but according to the flash-forward with Deadpool 2099, the two are destined to reunited and split up indefinitely.

    ROGUE

    Captain America put together the Avengers Unity team. Rogue was the team leader while Deadpool funded them. Over time, Rogue grew to respect Wade and befriend him. Finding out that his daughter Ellie was a mutant, Rogue promised to mentor her when her powers manifest. After finally defeating the Red Skull as a team, Rogue and Wade had a very brief fling. Rogue kissed him to absorb both his gross skin and his horrific memories.

    Nothing much came of this situation outside of Gambit being very, very confused upon hearing about it. Any chance of them having a future went out the window when Deadpool killed Agent Phil Coulson under the orders of Captain America...who turned out to be part of Hydra. Ugh.

    There have been plenty of other women in the Marvel universe who Deadpool's at least tried to get with, only to fall flat on his face. He's hit on Cable's old friend Irene Merryweather at least once, made a couple passes at AIM agent Dr. Betty, went on a disaster of a first date with Big Bertha, and I'm sure he'd love for Domino to give him the time of day. He's had affection for Thunderbolts teammate Elektra, only to have his dreams crushed when he discovered that she and the Punisher were friends with benefits.

    Oh, and he's also had some very homoerotic fantasies involving giving Cable a massage on a beach. Cable has supposedly had similar thoughts and the two have agreed never to talk about it. Ever.


    0 0

    Solo: A Star Wars Story introduces one of the best droids yet: L3-37. We celebrate by naming the 30 best droids of all time!

    The Lists Marc BuxtonJohn Saavedra
    May 23, 2018

    The Disney era of Star Wars is full of fantastic new droids, including BB-8 and Rogue One's K-2SO. Add to the list: L3-37, Lando's companion droid, who zips along with Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Qi'ra on the Millennium Falcon in Solo: A Star Wars Story. What makes L3 so cool? She's tough, fights for the rights of all droids, and doesn't let Lando boss her around. We absolutely love her!

    But L3-37 is just one of many droids that have made the galaxy far, far away such a fun place to visit over and over again. So here’s to the astromechs, the protocol droids, the medical droids, and the assassin droids that have been whirring and clanking their way into fans’ hearts since that first opening scrawl so many years ago. Join us as we take a look back and thank the Maker for the 30 greatest droids of the Star Wars saga:

    30. U-3PO

    Yeah, U-3PO barely appeared in Star Wars, but this silver protocol droid needs to make this list because it is one of the first characters introduced in the entire Star Wars saga. After the Star Destroyer catches Princess Leia’s blockade runner, the film cuts to C-3PO, R2-D2, and good ‘ol U-3PO making a run for it. Now, R2 and C-3PO go on to forge their own legacy, but U-3PO walks off camera.

    Imagine if U-3PO stuck around with its droid comrades. There would have been three droids going on the greatest adventure of all time. But U-3PO had business elsewhere and wandered off, leaving the other two droids to become the most beloved mechanized beings in the galaxy.

    The Legends Expanded Universe later revealed that U-3PO was an Imperial agent that reported the blockade runner’s whereabouts to Darth Vader’s men, but most EU canon has been wiped away since Star Wars was sold to Disney. So it’s a brand new day for U-3PO, one of the three droids that fans first laid eyes on. U we hardly knew U.

    29. CZ-3

    Look at this freaky looking thing. It’s like a psychotic version of C-3PO. This droid obviously has so many issues. You can clearly spot CZ-3 on the streets of Mos Eisely, aimlessly shambling about. You can also see a similar droid aboard the Sandcrawler, mindlessly rocking back and forth. A CZ droid is also clearly seen in Jabba’s Palace, plodding around as if looking for a small, helpless creature to dismember. But other than its evil clown look, why did we include such an obscure droid on our list?

    The main reason is because CZ-3 is played by none other than Anthony Daniels, as the famed actor who brought C-3PO to life pulled double droid duty on the set of the original Star Wars. That’s just all sorts of cool.

    The pre-Disney backstory of this droid is pretty rich. Legend has it that CZ-3 worked for Jabba the Hutt. When CZ-3 got loose, Jabba sent bounty hunters to find the strange looking automaton. When viewers see CZ-3 in Star Wars, it is on the run from Jabba’s hunters. Pretty neat right?

    The story gets even deeper, revealing that the CZ aboard the Sandcrawler was CZ-3’s “twin brother.” When the CZs crashed on Tatooine, they were separated, and CZ-1 was dismantled and taken by the Jawas. Maybe that’s why CZ-3 looks so odd and disturbed, maybe his mind snapped after being separated from his “twin.” Maybe there’s a Tomax and Xamot thing going on here - when CZ-1 is being tortured by Jawas, CZ-3 feels the pain.

    How the heck did this take such a dark turn, I just really wanted to tell you that Anthony Daniels played CZ-3 and now I’m pondering familial droid bonds and the nature of droid pain. I need to lie down.

    28. FX-7

    Raise your hands if you had the old school Kenner FX-7 action figure. That thing must have cost Kenner a small fortune to sculpt and tool, what with the countless articulated arms and incredible detailing. That seems like an awful lot of effort for a droid that appeared in The Empire Strikes Back for like 2.7 seconds. But those brief ticks of the second hand were pivotal because it was FX-7 that helped nurse Luke Skywalker back to health after the savior of the galaxy was ripped to noodles by the Wampa.

    FX-7 would pop up again later, helping to build Luke's robotic hand, and if you have your pause button handy, you can spy FX-7 during the Rebel briefing in Return of the Jedi. It seems FX-7 helped patch Rebels back together throughout most of the Original Trilogy. So thanks FX-7, you and your ridiculously playable action figure are remembered fondly.

    27. 8D8

    We include 8D8 on this list because the skeletal torture droid showed us one thing in his brief appearance in Return of the Jedi - that droids feel actual pain and that's all sorts of messed up. 8D8 is a droid that specializes in torturing other droids and can be seen in the background when R2 and 3PO are led into Jabba’s droid dungeon. 8D8 is busy torturing a flailing Power Droid with a branding iron. As the Power Droid’s feet are burnt, the poor boxy robot lets out a wail of agony. You know what this means? This means that some sentient being programmed droids to think they have nerve endings! How messed up is that? Building beings that are forced to endure the illusion of bodily pain. And the ghoulish 8D8 specializes in that pain, and for that screwed up reason this obscure droid makes our list.

    26. Torture Droid

    So somewhere there was a droid inventor or technician or whatever and he or she said, “Hey, I’m going to create a floaty ball designed to torture sentient beings!” and the torture droid was born. This roly-poly ball of pain was first seen in the original Star Wars, as it slowly approached Princess Leia with a hypodermic needle filled with drugs that would no doubt cause the bun-headed Rebel no end of agony. This little droid is probably the vilest automaton in the entire saga because its entire function is to find ways to cause as much agony as possible. And think about this, considering there are countless races running around the Star Wars Universe, this little torture droid must be programmed with billions of forms of bodily torture. How does one torture an Ewok? The torture droid knows.

    25. 3B6-RA-7

    Another obscure droid made into an action figure by Kenner. The toy in question was named "Death Star Droid" even though the robot never appeared on the Death Star in the original Star Wars! 3B6-RA-7 actually appeared on the Jawa Sandcrawler. He was like the cranky old man of droiddom, as he sat there and muttered derisively to himself about the other droids that were captured by the Jawas. You have to assume 3B6-RA-7 was kind of a dick because the Jawas don’t even attempt to sell him to Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. They just leave him in the Sancrawler the same way you leave your crazy uncle in the car because you don’t want him causing a scene in Target.

    Anyway, a black RA unit can be seen aboard the Death Star, so there’s your "Death Star Droid," but this silver clad cranky pants made his home on the Sandcrawler no matter what Kenner tells you. Fans of a certain age had this droid as an action figure, and his after school battles with C-3PO are the stuff of legend.

    24. Droideka

    These spider-like murder machines were like Jedi kryptonite. Think about it, during all three prequels, no matter what threat popped up, the Jedi were ready. Giant space monsters? No problem! Vast armies of Battle Droids? A walk in the park. Swarms of droid starfighters? Pish-posh! Sith? A mere distraction. But when the destroyer droids rolled into battle, you’d have Jedi peeing themselves left and right.

    The destroyer droids, or Droidekas as they were known for some inexplicable reason, were ray shielded and had rapid fire canons that, for some reason, completely befuddled all Jedi. Like, why can’t the Jedi just levitate them or force push them off a cliff or something? Because the destroyers delivered insta-death to anything wearing a bathrobe, they make our list.

    23. Probe Droid

    First seen in The Empire Strikes Back. Probe droids are used by the Empire to search remote regions of the galaxy for any signs of Rebel activity. These octopus-like spies are distinctive because of their unique and creepy language. Who can forget the ominous message sent from Hoth that alerted Darth Vader to the presence of the hidden Rebel base? Think about it, if not for the probe droid, the events of Empire never would have occurred. The Probe also looks badass but really isn’t because it self-destructs the second it is engaged in combat. So here’s to the probe droid - awesome-looking, integral to the Original Trilogy, and kind of a weeny.

    22. Midwife droid

    Ooba indeed. Why wouldn’t there be an OBGYN droid? A midwife droid first appeared in Revenge of the Sith and participated in the single-most important moment in Star Wars history - the birth of Luke Skywalker and Leia. I guess there should be a droid for every single function in the galaxy.


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    The midwife droid certainly looks equipped to deliver some babies. I mean, it has a baby scooper and everything... As disturbing as the design of this droid might be, it did deliver two humans that saved the galaxy, so welcome to the list, you medical nightmare.

    21. Power Droid

    Who doesn’t love a Gonk? Also known as GNK power droids, Gonks are the walking batteries of the Star Wars galaxy. Power droids have a wonderfully simplistic design - they are basically just boxes with feet. It’s also kind of mind-blowing that for its original Star Wars action figure line, Kenner never made a Moff Tarkin or a Wedge Antilles, but it sure made a power droid. Millions of kids all over America usinedtheir adorable little clicky power droids to power up X-wings and Millennium Falcons. Ah, those were the days.

    Of course, the most famous Gonk was the one aboard the Jawa Sandcrawler. These little boxes of electric juice could be seen in every Rebel base, aboard both Death Stars, and on the streets of Mos Eisley. The design and function of these little squares must have been perfect because power droids were all over the Prequels, and they were even unchanged in the future world of The Force Awakens. A power droid can also be seen in Rogue One, and I was probably way happier about that than I should have been. But it just goes to show how lovable the Gonks really are.

    20. GA-97

    And we come to our first modern era droid! GA-97 was an unassuming servant droid that took care of the customers of Maz Kanata’s castle. But GA-97 was also part of a network of spies that worked for the Resistance. If not for GA-97, the First Order would have found and captured Rey, Finn, Han, Chewie, and BB-8. It was GA-97’s message that alerted the Resistance and allowed Poe Dameron and his crew to make the save. I can only hope that we see GA-97 again as the new trilogy barrels forward because the idea of a hidden ring of droid spies is just too cool for school.

    19. WED Treadwell Droid

    Poor Treadwell, he was destined for greater things. In a scene cut from the original Star Wars, Luke Skywalker was repairing a water vaporator side by side with his trusty Treadwell droid, and during the repair Luke uses his binoculars to spy a battle between a Star Destroyer and a blockade runner. What’s important about this scene is that it was supposed to be the first time audiences met Luke - and Treadwell was there! But alas, Treadwell’s moment of glory was left on the cutting room floor.

    There are still Treadwells all over the Original Trilogy, though. The same Treadwell that was cut can be seen on the Lars homestead while another Treadwell is in the Jawas’ droid lineup. Han Solo famously reprimands a cute little Treadwell in The Empire Strikes Back, and more of these multi-armed repair droids can be seen all over Echo base.

    Treadwells are the Swiss army knives of the Star Wars Universe, multi-purpose mechanics that can fix anything. Sadly, the Treadwells can’t fix their own legacy because what was meant to be their moment of glory was discarded by George Lucas himself. The Maker giveth and the Maker taketh away.

    18. PROXY

    This holodroid was Galen Marek's faithful companion during The Force Unleashed video game series. PROXY's main ability -- and what makes him unique to the other droids on this list -- allowed him to change his appearance to anything he desired. Thanks to advanced hologram tech, he could disguise himself as any number of people. He even turned himself into Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Maul so that Marek could refine his lightsaber skills. PROXY allowed for some pretty neat cameos in the game. 

    17. R4-P17

    Introduced in Attack of the Clones, R4-P17 was the trusted astromech that served with Obi-Wan Kenobi during the Clone Wars. R4 accompanied Obi-Wan to Geonosis and helped his Jedi Master in battle against Jango Fett and Slave I. R4 also sent the message to Coruscant that informed the Jedi that Obi-Wan had been captured by Count Dooku and the Separatists. 

    Sadly, R4-P17 was destroyed by Buzz Droids during the Battle of Coruscant. What a sad exit for a droid that played such a pivotal role in the fate of the galaxy during the days of the Republic. Which is why it’s all sorts of screwed up that in the original Star Wars, Obi-Wan claims that he doesn’t remember owning a droid. Dude, R4-P17 sent the message that saved your ass when a bunch of bugs were going to sacrifice you in a gladiator arena. How can Obi-Wan not remember his wingman in battle against Jango Fett? That’s some insensitive selective memory there, Kenobi.

    16. EV-9D9

    “Ah good, new acquisitions.” EV-9D9 was a rather goofy looking droid, what with the flappy mouth and spindly limbs, but somehow the presence of Jabba’s head torture droid was still pretty darn fearsome. EV-9D9 gave C-3PO and R2-D2 their marching orders after the iconic robot pals were captured by Jabba the Hutt.

    As all Star Wars fans know, EV-9D9 placed 3PO in Jabba’s court as an interpreter and R2 on Jabba’s sail barge as a waiter - and thus sealed Jabba's fate. Think about it, if skinny EV-9D9 had given R2 a job in the boiler room or cleaning up Rancor turds, R2 would never have been able to shoot Luke’s lightsaber over to his master. Jabba was killed and his criminal empire destroyed because of EV-9D9’s bad job placement. That’s some really destructive HR work right there.

    15. Mouse Droid

    The mouse droid was a puny little rolly bot that had the droid poop scared out of it by Chewbacca. It seems like the Empire relied on mouse droids for many mundane tasks. These little droids can be seen all over both Death Stars and aboard many Star Destroyers leading squadrons of stormtroopers to their assigned positions. It’s kind of cool that George Lucas thought of little details like mouse droids. It just made the Star Wars galaxy seem more functional and lived in. Plus, mouse droids are really cute. How many mouse droids do you think blew up along with the two Death Stars? Tens of thousands probably. Poor things! And how come the Rebels didn’t use them? Do you think the Rebels had cat droids to counter the Imperial mouse droids? Like some intergalactic Tom and Jerry action? What were we talking about again?

    14. 4-LOM

    At last, a bounty hunter - we DO need their scum. 4-LOM was part of Darth Vader’s famous lineup that was charged with hunting down the Millennium Flacon. For real, is there a more intimidating designed droid in the Star Wars saga? You have a 3PO unit body combined with a bug-eyed alien head and a big honking blaster rifle that looks like it could fillet a Dewback in a single shot.

    In the Expanded Universe, 4-LOM has often been paired up with his fellow bug-eyed bounty hunter Zuckuss, and the duo have become quite an infamous pair of scoundrels across novels, video games, and comics. Sadly, we never got to see 4-LOM in action on the big screen, but now that every inch of the Star Warssaga is going to be explored by Disney, we may yet see this most fearsome droid killing machines collect some bounties in the most violent ways possible.

    13. HK-47

    The original murder droid, HK-47 is everyone's beloved, organic-hating "Hunter-Killer" assassin droid from Knights of the Old Republic. HK was built by Darth Revan, a Dark Lord of the Sith, and used to eliminate his enemies across the galaxy. This loyal droid used his unimposing appearance to get close to his targets and eliminate them. 

    Besides being an agent of the Sith, he also worked for the Mandalorians, the Hutts, and later even commanded his own army of assassin droids. He also enjoyed calling organics "meatbags." It's no wonder why fans love this spunky and extremely quotable assassin droid.

    12. 2-1B

    2-1B seems to live to repair Luke Skywalker. With the help of fellow medical droid FX-7, 2-1B nursed Luke back to health after the Rebel hero got Wampa'd, and also helped the savior of the galaxy after Luke got his hand chopped off by Darth Vader. So within the two-hour and change run time of The Empire Strikes Back, 2-1B put Luke back together twice. You know what, with the rate that hands get severed in Star Wars, 2-1B must be sewing on bionic hands day and night. It’s really a cottage industry in the galaxy far, far away. 2-1B can also be seen in Return of the Jedi, no doubt prepping to replace lost limbs after the Battle of Endor. Let’s raise a glass of blue milk to 2-1B because without this medical droid there would be fewer high fives across the galaxy.

    11. Battle Droids

    Yeah, we know that these dopey clankers make your typical stormtrooper look like Jason Bourne, but the battle droids of the Trade Federation were pretty vital to Star Wars history. The battle droids made up the bulk of the Separatist army that fought the Republic in the Clone Wars. They were the constant cannon fodder used by Darth Sidious in his secret bid to take over the Republic.

    They may not have been able to hit the broad side of a Super Destroyer, but without them, Palpatine would never have had the pawns he needed to build his Empire. And even though they kind of sucked, battle droids have a really cool design and they used some pretty boss war tech. From the flying STAPs, to those sick tanks, to the rolling fortresses and personal carriers, the battle droids were certainly well-equipped losers. Roger, roger.

    10. R5-D4

    Just imagine if Uncle Own and Luke Skywalker had purchased R5-D4 instead of R2-D2. The stormtroopers would have found R2 after slaughtering the Jawas and the Death Star would have taken out the Rebel Base on Yavin easy-peasy. But thankfully, R5-D4 had a bad motivator and broke down just as Uncle Owen was ready to lay down his hard-earned space dollars on the little red and white astromech. R5-D4 may have been faulty (or lazy), but his little droid nervous breakdown saved the galaxy.

    9. IG-88

    Piss on Ultron, IG-88 is an assassin droid to truly fear. Only seen for a few seconds in the aforementioned bounty hunter line up, IG-88 continues to inspire Expanded Universe stories because he’s just that fearsome. All sharp edges and stabby bits, IG-88 is made for killing. It’s too bad that we never got to see IG-88 in action in Empire, but we have certainly experienced the full armed and operational badassery of the assassin droid in plenty of novels and comics.

    One memorable short story in the Tales of the Bounty Huntersanthology saw multiple copies of IG-88 try to bring about a droid rebellion. One of the IGs even downloaded himself into the second Death Star right before it was destroyed by the Rebellion. That could have gone very badly for organics. But alas, that's all part of Legends canon now.

    8. BT-1

    Triple Zero's deadly partner in crime, this "blastromech" droid has enough firepower to take down an entire Imperial base -- or a helpless village full of civilians. Beetee is equipped with rockets, blasters, explosives, and pretty much everything else you can think of. Together with Triple Zero, they make a dynamic duo that you don't want to run into at your local cantina. 

    7. 0-0-0

    Triple Zero is C-3PO if he were keen on murdering humans and then draining them of blood to power his makeshift battle droid army which he planned to use to overthrow his Imperial masters. First introduced in the pages of Marvel's Darth Vader, this protocol droid specializes in etiquette, customs, translation, and...torture. 

    The secret behind 0-0-0's reign of terror is the Triple Zero protocol personality matrix, which is designed to turn a droid into an assassin. With the help of archaeologist Doctor Aphra, 0-0-0 came to life and became every organic's worst nightmare. 

    6. Chopper

    Listen, I’m an Original Trilogy guy with a heaping helping of love for The Force Awakens, so a droid from the TV shows would have to be pretty special to make it. Chopper is just that darn special. This little astromech is like the pissed off old man of the Star Wars universe. Chopper gets the job done every single time but grumbles the entire way there.

    This droid is one of the highlights of Star Wars Rebelsand has helped his rag tag band of freedom fighters out of countless jams. Plus, Chopper is more than a bit homicidal, so he has that going for him. It's my hope that SW fans will get to see a live-action Chopper one day. Until then, we’ll just have to settle for this little bundle of violence committing acts of atrocity on a Disney cartoon.

    5. K-2SO

    When I began writing this list, I hadn’t seen Rogue One yet. Now, I'm making a last-minute addition for K-2SO, the droid that steals the show in Rogue One. At first, K-2SO seems to be Rogue One comic relief, but by act two of the first Star Wars Story, K-2SO proves to be the most proactive droid in the Star Wars saga. K-2SO doesn’t wait around for stuff to happen to him, oh no, K-2SO happens to stuff - which usually involves lots of explosions.

    K-2SO used to be an Imperial enforcer droid, but he was reprogrammed by the Rebellion and now is one of the most loyal Rebels in the galaxy. And believe me, this tall drink of destruction sees plenty of action in Rogue One, as no Imperial is safe when K-2SO has blasters a blazing. There’s a reason K-2SO jumped so far on our list just days after the droid’s Star Warsdebut, and that reason is this droid's nobility and agency - and ability to rain down utter destruction on any Imperial unlucky enough to get in his way.

    4. BB-8

    People feared that BB-8 would become the Jar Jar Binks of the new Star Wars era. But that is far from the case. Hey, he’s aggressively cute, but BB-8 is a capable little guy that serves the Resistance loyally. BB-8 played an integral role in finding Luke Skywalker and helped make sure that Finn, Rey, and Poe survived each and every encounter with the First Order.

    BB-8 is a unique astromech, a spherical droid that speaks to the wonder of physics. Think about it: BB-8 isn’t animated, Lucasfilm actually built this awesome little robot. BB-8 brings any scene he is in to life because the little prop has charisma and character. BB-8 won Rey’s heart and the hearts of SW fans that originally dismissed the soccer ball robot for being too cute. BB-8 is way more than just adorableness with a circumference, he is now a major part of the story of a galaxy far, far away.

    3. L3-37

    There are few droids like L3-37 in the galaxy far, far away. Lando's companion droid is more than just a servant. In fact, she's quite the opposite: a droid who believes in equal rights for both organics and synthetics. During Solo: A Star Wars Story, she rallied other droids to break free from their oppressors and become the individuals they were always meant to be. Indeed, L3 is more of a friend (and romantic interest?) to Lando and she lets everyone else know it.

    Her politics aren't the only thing that make L3 unique, though. She's also self-made droid, as in she's modified herself through the years. That's why L3 looks like she's been built out of scrap droid parts. She actually has! Her head looks like it once belonged to a BB unit while her torso looks like it's built out of astromech droid parts. No other droid in the galaxy displays the same amount of individuality.

    2. C-3PO

    You didn’t think our top two would be anyone but the droid hearts and souls of the Star Warsuniverse, did you? Think of our next two entries as 1 and 1A because you can’t begin talking about Star Wars without talking about C-3PO and R2-D2.

    C-3PO was at the center of just about every major Star Warsevent. He escaped with the plans to the original Death Star and accompanied his Rebel friends to the fully armed and operational battle station where the hapless droid witnessed the death of Obi-Wan Kenobi. He was there on Yavin when Luke Skywalker blew up the Death Star, and he was there when Han Solo was frozen. He was on Endor when the Empire fell and, before his memory was wiped, he bravely served the Republic in the Clone Wars and was present when Anakin Skywalker began his dark transition to Darth Vader.

    C-3PO is the sad clown of Star Wars - he is a polite, unassuming innocent that forever finds himself swept up into adventures beyond his comprehension. C-3PO just wants to serve in matters of protocol and linguistics, but he is constantly being swept away on epic missions to free the galaxy.

    1. R2-D2

    The all-purpose mechanic, adventurer, super computer, and rolling arsenal of Star Wars, and proof that judging something by its size you should not. R2-D2 defines the Star Wars universe. He is a piece of technology with a personality and a spirit of pure bravery.

    R2 is loyal to a fault to all his companions. Whether it be in the era of the Old Republic, the Empire era, or thirty years after the Battle of Endor, R2 will do anything to assure victory for the humans he serves. R2 is so much more than a cold and emotionless machine. Just think, R2 shut down because he lost his master Luke Skywalker. Because of Luke’s disappearance, R2 had a profound existential crisis and went into a spiritual coma, until the next generation of heroes needed his guidance once again.

    Thanks to R2, Luke was found because R2 always gets the job done. Whether it’s repairing the Millennium Falcon’s hyperdrive or using a fire extinguisher to help his friends escape an occupied Cloud City, R2 always has a plan. R2 is a top notch co-pilot, an awesome little spy, and a spirited warrior. His friendship with his robotic life mate C-3PO is the stuff of galactic legend. It's safe to say that without R2-D2 there would be no Star Wars.


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    The most charming con man in the galaxy has had plenty of adventures beyond Solo. Here's an essential Lando reading guide!

    Feature Marc Buxton
    May 23, 2018

    Hello, what have we here? Thanks to Solo: A Star Wars Story and the pitch-perfect casting of Donald Glover as the coolest con man in the galaxy, Lando Calrissian is back in a big way! In some ways, we're looking forward to seeing young Lando more than the adventures of young Han, especially since Billy Dee Williams has been nowhere to be found in the Sequel Trilogy films.

    So to fill that Lando void in our lives, we present a short but fun reading list featuring the original owner of the Millennium Falcon, the man who brought back capes as a fashion accessory, and the gambler who took down the second Death Star (with the help of Wedge Antilles and Nein Nunb) - Lando Calrissian!

    Let's take a look...

    Marvel’s Star Wars #56-57 (1981) - Legends

    Writers: David Michelinie, Louise Jones, and Walt Simonson 

    Artist: Walt Simonson

    Released just months after The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars #56-57 was the very first original Lando Calrissian Expanded Universe story. And by the maker’s bristling beard, what a creative team! The great David Michelinie, Louise Jones, (before she was Simonson), and the man himself, Walt Simonson, all fleshing out not only Lando but the residents of Bespin as well.

    In this two-part story, Lando and his new Rebel pals go up against the con man's reprogrammed cyborg pal, Lobot, to stop some Ugnaunt machinations. That’s right, I said Ugnaunt machinations, and I’m not sorry. These issues feature Lando at his scheming best as he must save his bald cyborg buddy and regain control of Bespin from the Empire.

    Any deep dive into Lando Calrissian has to begin with these two issues because this was the first non-film take on the scoundrel and they feature some of comics’ best visionaries in a story that really fleshes out Cloud City.

    Read the Classic Marvel Star Wars comics here!

    Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu (1983) - Legends

    Writer: L. Neil Smith

    Yes, folks, Lando starred in his own trilogy of novels in 1983, which shows just how much of a splash the character had made post-Empire. These novels served to flesh out the character for fans who loved his victory run during the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi just a few months before.

    Think about it, Luke didn’t have his own novels but Lando (and Han) did! Perhaps the more literary-minded Star Wars fans favored the scoundrels? Anyway, Lando having his own series was a pretty big deal because in the bygone days of 1983, there weren’t too many prominent sci-fi series featuring a hero of color.

    Written by L. Neil Smith, The Lando Calrissian Adventures were filled with fast-paced pulpy goodness. These books were flashbacks to when Lando was captain of the Millennium Falcon and before he became the administrator of Cloud City. Actually, it will be interesting to compare these EU adventures to what we’re going to get in Solo.

    In Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu, which might be the pulpiest title ever, Lando tries to con his way into a treasure horde as big as a star system. The plot is a bit sparse to be honest, but Smith nails the Lando character, as the future big man of Cloud City tries to strike it rich.

    Buy Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu

    Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon (1983) - Legends

    Writer: L. Neil Smith

    Okay, nope: Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon is the pulpiest book title ever. Did I mention that Lando’s companion in these novels is a five-armed droid named Vuffi Raa? Kinda makes you wonder about Lando's droid companion in Solo, doesn't it?

    Anyway, in Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon, Lando travels to a star system that caters to immoral gamblers and scoundrels. Smith really has Lando’s cadence down in this one. Overall, the novel reads like an early eighties attempt at a sci-fi Rat Pack film.

    Buy Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon

    Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of ThonBoka (1983) - Legends 

    Writer: L. Neil Smith

    Oh wow, the title Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of ThonBoka is just transcendent. ThonBoka!

    In the final Lando novel, Smith has his titular mustached hero and Vuffi Raa race to save an alien species in danger of extinction. This unusually altruistic act brings the pair into renewed conflict with the baddie from Mindharp of Sharu - Rokur Gepta, the Sorcerer of Tund! That’s right, I said the Sorceror of Tund! Doesn’t really have the same ring as "Dark Lord of the Sith," but it’s still pretty awesome.

    And thus, with Starcave of ThonBoka, Lando’s OG EU adventures came to an end. But what a ride! Mindharps, Flamewinds, Starcaves, capes, and mustaches... What’s not to love? One has to wonder why there was no Lobot love in these books. No disrespect meant to Vuffi Raa.

    Buy Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of ThonBoka

    Marvel's Lando (2015) - Canon

    Writer: Charles Soule

    Artist: Alex Maleev

    But the Lobot love is on display 32 years later in the Disney era! In 2015, Lando Calrissian returned to the pages of Marvel Comics in this awesome miniseries by Charles Soule and Alex Maleev.

    Set in the days before Lando became Baron Administrator of Cloud City, Lando and Lobot set out to steal a valuable pleasure cruiser filled with invaluable intel and treasure. Too bad for Lando that the ship belongs to Emperor Palpatine. Ooops.

    High adventure follows as Lando must pay a terrible price for his actions. Marvel’s Lando redefines the character for the new Disney canon and serves as a perfect bridge between the character’s appearance in Solo and The Empire Strikes Back.

    Read Marvel's Lando


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    Everyone's favorite Wookiee has had plenty of adventures since 1977. Here's a Star Wars reading guide of Chewbacca's greatest hits!

    The Lists Marc Buxton
    May 23, 2018

    Unless you’ve been living inside of a Hutt’s stomach, you know that Solo: A Star Wars Story has finally arrived. This new film not only gives fans a chance to learn the secret origins of the captain of the Millennium Falcon, but it also gives a younger Chewbacca. That’s right, sthe movie delivers Han and Chewie’s earliest adventures together aboard the Falcon.

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

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

    Vector Prime (2000) - Legends

    Writer: R.A. Salvatore

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

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

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

    Buy Vector Prime

    Star Wars: Chewbacca (2001) - Legends

    Writer: Darko Macan

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

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

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

    Buy Star Wars: Chewbacca

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

    Writer: Chris Cerasi

    Artist: Jennifer L.Meyer 

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

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

    Buy Chewbacca and the Slavers of the Shadowlands 

    Marvel's Chewbacca (2016) - Canon

    Writer: Gerry Duggan

    Artist: Phil Noto 

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

    Buy Marvel's Chewbacca

    Chewie and the Porgs (2017) - Canon

    Writer: Kevin Shinick

    Artist: Fiona Hsieh

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

    Buy Chewie and the Porgs


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    Want to read the best Han Solo stories the galaxy far, far away has to offer after watching Solo? Check out our reading guide!

    The Lists Marc Buxton
    May 23, 2018

    Han Solo has long been the coolest, scruffiest, and most compelling smuggler in the galaxy, and we learn a whole lot more about the captain of the Millennium Falcon in Solo: A Star Wars Story.

    In this blockbuster, fans get to experience the secret origin of the man who shot Greedo (first!), saved Luke Skywalker’s bacon at the Battle of Yavin, was frozen in carbonite, and ended up becoming royalty by marrying a princess. The movie also shows how Han met Chewie, how he became captain of the Millennium Falcon, and why he became a smuggler. 

    That's not to say that Lucasfilm hasn't explored Han Solo's earliest adventures before. In fact, there are quite a few Legends novels and comics that explore Solo's days with a band of pirates and his days at the Imperial Academy. These stories are no longer canon but they remain compelling looks at the life of Star Wars’ coolest cat.

    And since Disney purchased the rights to Star Wars, the company has continued to explore the life of the scruffy-looking nerf herder in his very own Marvel miniseries and the ongoing Star Wars comic. Even though, Han might be dead on the big screen - at least when it comes to the Harrison Ford version - the scoundrel lives on in the Expanded Universe. 

    So hit light speed and join us as we look at the greatest Han Solo tales from the non-canonical past and the Disney present:

    The Han Solo Adventures (1979-90) - Legends

    Han Solo at Stars' End, Han Solo's Revenge, Han Solo and the Lost Legacy

    Writer: Brian Daley

    Journey with us to the bygone days of 1979, when the Star Wars universe consisted of a handful of comics, a really big film (you may have seen it), and a couple of novels. That's pretty hard to imagine now, when a new Star Wars film is announced or released every year, along with several novel and comic book tie-ins, but that was the nerd landscape back in the end of the '70s.

    Into this world of non-prolific Star Wars canon came Brian Daley and The Han Solo Adventures. Yes, a series about Han and Chewie’s adventures before they met that young farm boy and crazy old Jedi in the Mos Eisley cantina was an exciting prospect back then, and Daley presented a powerful prequel trilogy before prequels were a thing. In The Han Solo Adventures, Han, Chewie, and their loyal droids - the elder maintenance droid BLX-5 and the box-like computer probe Blue Max - go on a series of adventures and heists before the events of A New Hope.

    Daley, who also collaborated with fellow Star Wars writer James Luceno on a series of Robotech novels, was a master world builder and really had a handle on the Han and Chewie character dynamics before countless EU novels and comics fleshed the pair out. Daley captured the Solo voice perfectly, and even the author’s Chewbacca was a compelling character and not just a fun background.

    These novels were basically breaking the prequel ground twenty years before The Phantom Menace even hit theaters, the clones had not yet attacked, and the Sith had not yet had their revenge. Han and Chewie were flying high in these rollicking disco era adventures that tonally still hold up even in this modern era of constant Star Wars. In fact, when we saw the first Solo trailer, the feeling we got when we first read these books came bubbling to the surface.

    Buy The Han Solo Adventures 

    The Corellian Trilogy (1995) - Legends

    Ambush at Corellia, Assault at Selonia, Showdown at Centerpoint

    Writer: Roger MacBride Allen

    From Han’s past to his future, set eighteen years after Return of the Jedi, the Corellian trilogy gave readers a worthwhile adventure featuring the non-canon Solo family. That’s right, before Star Wars belonged to Disney, Han Solo and Leia Organa had not one but three children. Back in the old canon, Jaina, Jacen, and Anakin Solo were three of the most important members of the next generation of Star Wars heroes. (Check out The New Jedi Order series for their most bonkers adventures.)

    In this Solo-centric series of novels, Han takes his family on a trip to his old stomping grounds of Corellia. While Han tries to show his kids where ‘ol dad cut his teeth, a vast conspiracy arises on Han’s homeworld that threatens the New Republic. In fact, Thrackan Sal-Solo, Han’s evil cousin, is at the center of this vast plot to return the Empire to universal glory.

    Luke, Leia, Chewie, and Lando also come along for the ride, as Han must deal with a very personal threat to all he holds dear. With all the Kylo Ren/Ben Solo stuff at the center of the Sequel Era, the Corellian Trilogy stands as a fascinating alternate look at what a post-Return of the Jedi future held for the Solo clan pre-Disney.

    Buy The Corellian Trilogy

    The Han Solo Trilogy (1997-98) - Legends

    The Paradise Snare, The Hutt Gambit, Rebel Dawn

    Writer: A.C. Crispin

    Back in the late '90s, A trilogy of books by sci-fi author A.C. Crispin presented the secret origin of Han Solo. These books are no longer canon, and we're sure the upcoming Solo film will cover some of the same ground (there are definitely some notes from The Paradise Snare in the trailer) that Crispin’s trilogy hit in the late '90s, but these Expanded Universe adventures are still rollicking reads that, like Daley’s early novels, perfectly capture the tone of what a Han Solo adventure should be.

    Crispin’s novels scratch every itch Solo fans want scratched (except for seeing Han punch his quivery lipped, weirdly nippled son off that bridge in The Force Awakens). In The Han Solo Trilogy, fans will witness the days of Han as a street urchin on Corellia, Han joining and betraying the Imperial Academy, Han’s rescue of Chewbacca and the ensuing life debt that led to the most enduring friendship in the galaxy, Han’s first encounter with Jabba the Hutt and Boba Fett, Han’s first meeting with Lando Calrissian, and how Han came to own the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy.

    Crispin takes fans on a complete Han Solo origin tale that fits seamlessly into the Original Trilogy. Think of Crispin’s work as the spiritual successor of the coming film.

    Buy The Han Solo Trilogy

    Tales #19 “Into the Great Unknown” (2004) - Legends

    Writer: W. Haden Blackman

    Artist: Sean Murphy

    And just because it’s too insane to be true, we have to mention “Into the Great Unknown,” a one of a kind, mynock-shit crazy story from Dark Horse’s Star Wars Tales series. In this totally non-canon (even back in the Legends days) story, Han and Chewie get shot down by Imperial forces over a planet with a breathable atmosphere. The Falcon crashes in a lush jungle and the heroic pair is attacked by primitive natives. Han takes an arrow to the gut while Chewie fights off the attackers. A mortally wounded Solo asks his hairy pal to place him in the chair of the Falcon, where he passes.

    Over a century later, an archeologist comes to the region in search of a big foot-like monster - and yes, that archeologist is Indiana frikkin’ Jones! He finds Han’s skeleton and says it feels strangely familiar.

    So yeah, Han meets Indy, Chewie is Bigfoot, and the Falcon comes to Earth and whhaaaa? “Into the Great Unknown” might be as outside of canon as the Star Wars Holiday Special, but it has to be experienced to be believed.

    Buy Star Wars Tales 

    Scoundrels (2011) - Legends

    Writer: Timothy Zahn

    The Solo film trailer totally had an Ocean’s 11 vibe, didn’t it? Well, Timothy Zahn, the man who led the '90s Star Wars literary movement with his seminal Thrawn Trilogy, did it first with Scoundrels, a heist novel that features Han, Chewie, and Lando putting a crew together to crack the galaxy’s most unbreakable safe.

    Scoundrels has everything a Solo fan could want. Crime, space battles, scum, villainy, and more crime, as Han must complete the impossible heist to pay off Jabba the Hutt in the days after A New Hope. This novel is Frank Sinatra by way of George Lucas and is a cheeky and fun romp through the Star Wars underbelly.

    Buy Scoundrels

    Smuggler's Run (2015) - Canon

    Writer: Greg Rucka

    Artist: Phil Noto

    Heck yeah, Greg Rucka, writer of Wonder Woman, Lazarus, Black Magick, Old Guard, Gotham Central, and so many other great comics, penned a Han Solo novel. This YA adventure is the first Solo novel of the Disney era and features Han and Chewie going on a top secret mission in Imperial territory to rescue a lost Rebel recon specialist.

    Rucka masterfully presents Solo as the smuggler still conflicted with either returning to his life on the run or serving his Princess in the Rebellion. A reader can see the utter love that Rucka has for Solo and his struggles. Smuggler’s Run serves as a perfect tonal prequel to The Force Awakens. Most of all, Rucka’s take on Solo presents the brash captain of the Falcon at his battling best.

    Buy Smuggler's Run

    Star Wars: Han Solo (2016) - Canon

    Writer: Marjorie Liu

    Artist: Mark Brooks

    If there are two things that define George Lucas, it’s space battles and drag racing. This 2016 Marvel series by Marjorie Liu and Mark Brooks features both, as Han Solo uses an intergalactic space drag race as a cover to rescue some very important Rebels from the Empire. This adventure has an awesome '50s vibe and really feels like the Solo story Lucas forgot to make. Most importantly, this Marvel miniseries is the type of pedal to the floor action Solo fans have grooved on for decades.

    Buy Star Wars: Han Solo


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    In the 1990s, Lucasfilm decided to take Star Wars in a much darker direction with Shadows of the Empire.

    Feature Stephen Harber
    May 24, 2018

    This Star Wars article contains spoilers.

    Star Wars in the '90s

    The ‘90s were the dark ages of Star Wars. George Lucas’ happy cinematic accident was still a beloved pop culture tentpole, and the entertainment industry was still busy learning from its business model. But it was also a time of relative quiet for the franchise. Another film with the main cast was implausible, and the excuses for new merchandising were slim to none. So Lucasfilm started brainstorming new ways to capitalize on the Star Wars brand and ensure all of its media channels were fully functional before the arrival of the Prequel Trilogy.

    Enter Shadows of the Empire—a mad scientist’s experiment in cross-promotion that would make editors at Marvel weep at the complexity of its moving parts. This multimedia initiative was designed to tell one large narrative across various mediums, with each platform contributing an important piece of the story. To get the full Shadowsexperience, fans would have to read the novel and the comic books, play the video game, listen to the soundtrack score, buy the toys, collect the trading cards, etc.

    When Shadows was conceived by Lucasfilm heads Howard Roffman and Lucy Wilson in 1994, it was intended to be set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. This era has always been a “safe zone” for expanded universe material to play around in. In fact, it’s still mined by Marvel and Disney for tie-in material to this day. Shadows would join the ranks of the classic Marvel comics with the giant talking rabbit (who was never considered canon, sadly enough) as an expanded universe story set during the actual trilogy itself.

    After the pitch was tossed around the Lucas subsidiaries, a memo from LucasArts designer Jon Knoles changed their minds. He suggested setting the Shadows project after The Empire Strikes Back instead of before it, as this was a.) fertile ground for storytelling. and b.) way more intriguing. And he wasn’t wrong. This new setting made the task of telling a huge movie-like story a way to test the boundaries of the franchise before its inevitable rebirth for Episode I.

    Post-Empire was a sweet spot for Star Wars to hit at the time. If you couldn’t already tell by its name, there was a push to make Shadows“dark”—which basically translated to “’90s as fuck.” This slick new edginess would keep Star Wars relevant in a time of geek culture dominated by the over-muscled caricatures of Rob Liefeld and Todd McFarlane and the low-tech barbarism of Mortal Kombat. Instead of behaving like it was still the early 1980s, it was time Star Wars hit puberty and toughened up some.

    Even in today’s climate saturated with spin-offs, webisodes, and other ancillary materials, telling one big cohesive story across different media formats is still a highly experimental undertaking. There had to be a center to all the tales that would be told under this umbrella, an axis on which all peripheral events spun around. This anchor point was the bestselling Shadows novel published by Bantam in 1996.

    Writing the Book

    For all intents and purposes, Steve Perry’s Shadows of the Empire was to be considered “the movie.” It had what everyone was craving—a new adventure with the core characters the audience loved and the promise of mature themes and content.

    Steve Perry was hand-selected to be in the Shadows talent pool by Bantam editor Tom Dupree as a payback for writing a quick and dirty novelization of The Mask for free. Perry’s background writing for Batman: The Animated Series, Gargoyles, and Spiral Zone made him a shoo-in for the job. Designing the core narrative of an intricate brand opera would be a collaborative process best suited for a writer with a background in television. (That he’d written novelizations for Dark Horse’s Alien graphic novels might have also helped.)

    Before long, Perry found himself writing down page after page of notes during a lengthy creative meeting with all creative stakeholders at Skywalker Ranch in the fall of 1994 to keep track of the many different needs every licensee had for the story. Each medium demanded their own set pieces, action scenes, and settings to be interesting. Perry would think up ways to sew these into the pockets of his overarching story.

    Armed with his reams of notes, the author banged out a twenty-five page outline detailing all major action beats for the primary story arc with suggestions on how they could cross over. The outline was well-received, even if it came back with a ton of notes. But the cooks in the kitchen found it agreeable, and that was all that was needed to move the crazy Shadows train forward. Perry got to work at tackling the manuscript at the beginning of 1995, making his own version of a missing Star Wars movie from his home office in Oregon.

    The storyline of Perry’s Shadows book follows the adventures of Luke, Leia, Lando, and Chewbacca in their efforts to locate their carbonite encased buddy Han Solo. Their quest takes them through the galaxy’s criminal underworld, where they meet gritty new ‘90s characters that either try to kill them or help them out. In the process, Luke becomes a badass, Darth Vader gets a new nemesis, Chewie gets a haircut, the droids get to drive the Millennium Falcon, and Princess Leia gets to be sexually objectified like crazy. Okay, that may be an oversimplification, but basically, Shadows is a story about Star Wars that’s not quite told like a Star Wars story—but it is an entertaining page-turner. Yet the risks Shadows takes are really just recycled moments from the Original Trilogy, a classic symptom of being a media tie-in novel.

    However, the book did intrigue readers everywhere with certain storylines it juggled, like the attempted assassinations of Luke Skywalker, the details behind the “many Bothans” tragedy hinted at in Return of the Jedi, and the Empire’s dealings with the Black Sun crime syndicate. Reading about the hijinks of the Skywalker twins and friends during a mysterious era is always intriguing, and Perry did as much justice as he could to the voice of the characters.

    Buy all of your Star Wars movies, books, comics, boxsets, and much more here!

    Prince Xizor

    If Shadows of the Empire has a main character, it’s probably Xizor himself. After all, this villainous character was being fleshed out long before any official creative meetings had been held. The Dark Prince was the mascot for the grimdarkness of Shadows and the underworld it would explore.

    Based on the plot outline he turned in, Steve Perry received notes with very specific instructions from Bantam on how they wanted Xizor to behave, citing the Godfather films as a tonal guideline. Bantam wanted an evil clone of Aristotle Onassis, the infamous Greek tycoon that married Jackie Kennedy. They wanted a villain who was corrupt, crafty, and had enough hubris to take on the franchise’s most beloved big bad: Darth Vader himself.

    When creating this major expanded universe villain from scratch, the creative team at Lucasfilm approached the task just like they would for any creature you’d see in a Star Wars film. Xizor’s design process fell somewhere in the middle of thoughtfully crafted and painstakingly conceived. Xizor was meant to have an “exotic” flavor to his appearance, which designers translated as looking vaguely Asian. Yet Prince Xizor was more than just a vehicle for bizarre cultural appropriation. He was the powerful leader of Black Sun, a criminal syndicate functioning on the Outer Rim.

    His reptilian style inspired a new race of beings for the Star Wars universe: the Falleen, who lived on a planet called, ironically enough, Falleen. As a Falleen, Xizor could breathe underwater and secrete pheromones to manipulate the opposite sex, which were so strong that even our favorite tough cookie with the hair buns fell under his thrall. His olive skin tone also changed according to whatever mood he happened to be in. And that iconic claw pose of his? That was inspired by unused concept art of Bib Fortuna.

    Meanwhile, Xizor’s seduction of Princess Leia—or, rather, the quasi-Asian lizard dude’s date rape of Star Wars’ headlining female character—was awkward. In this sequence, Xizor uses his pheromone powers to roofie Leia into submission after forcing her to wear a revealing outfit. Shadowswent beyond the humiliation of tricking Alderaanian royalty into wearing a kinky slave outfit for a giant slug. This was technically assault. When Perry received feedback on his story outline asking for Xizor and Leia to go all the way, he refused. He didn’t want to deal with the backlash from the fans, as such an event would incite the same emotional reaction as killing off a main character. So instead, Leia gets out of the situation by kneeing the Falleen studmuffin right in his iguana dick, then dashes off (pun intended).

    Perry handled Prince Xizor’s character incredibly well considering all of the creative suggestions he received. He knew the Dark Prince wasn’t just a character, he was a test for each member of the Skywalker family. Xizor spent literally all of his time and energy obsessing over Luke, Anakin, and Leia, discovering their weak points and pressing their buttons. In this respect, Xizor is an embodiment the novel’s central theme: vulnerability. The vulnerability of the each member of the Skywalker family.

    You can buy everything you need to enjoy Shadows of the Empire here!

    Dash Rendar

    A new protagonist was also introduced—Dash Rendar, aka ‘90s Han Solo. Although Dash was conceived by Perry himself, that didn’t mean he had any more creative control over his character than he did with Xizor’s. Lucasfilm and Bantam both made it clear they didn’t want an exact carbon-copy of Kylo Ren’s dad to fill the void he left behind. They did, however, want a substitute space pirate to act as a guide through the wrong side of the interplanetary tracks.

    Dash was the macho middle ground between Kevin Costner and Tom Cruise—a smuggling mercenary that traveled around the galaxy in his Outrider (aka ‘90s Millennium Falcon) with a droid named Leebo riding shotgun. He held a lifelong vendetta against the Emperor for ruining his family after his brother crashed his freighter ship into Palpatine's private spaceport museum. Rendar helped Rogue Squadron fend off the Empire’s forces during the Battle of Hoth. He even helped the “many Bothans” that died steal the new Death Star plans! Despite all of this, Luke still thought he was kind of an asshole. Hmm. Maybe that’s because the Force told him Dash was secretly made out of cardboard, old issues of Youngblood, and testosterone.

    If Dash Rendar were to be described by one word only, it would be “functional.” He doesn’t serve a function for the Shadows narrative per se, but boy does he ever for the multimedia campaign. After all, Dash was the star of the video game component of Shadows of the Empire, which featured his participation in the Battle of Hoth. I wouldn’t say that Dash is a person, but more of a Frankenstein’s monster of pastiches culled from Star Wars and its imitators, stitched together with Harrison Ford’s casual cockiness. Basically, he was an endless library of “shit Han Solo says.”

    Guri

    The real fan favorite of Shadowsturned out to be a character that still doesn’t have a decently sized action figure to this day: Guri, Prince Xizor’s deadly fembot bodyguard. She was the only replica droid trained to be an assassin—a hybrid of Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct and Sean Young in Blade Runner. Compared to Princess Leia, Guri was a lightning rod for pent-up sexual tension in the Star Wars universe. In fact, Xizor took advantage of her more built-in “intimate” functions whenever he could, which only amplified the rapey nature of the crime lord.

    Much like Han Solo’s sugar-free counterpart, Dash Rendar, Guri the sex assasin was a Steve Perry original. The femme fatale was conceived as a character who would be loyal to the paranoid Falleen leader, someone he could trust. Since Xizor could never trust another living being with his life, he bought a synthetic humanoid for nine million credits to be his lieutenant, enforcer, and information gatherer. Basically, she was like having a ninja as your personal assistant, which further reinforced the vaguely Asian motif surrounding the Dark Prince. But it was strongly suggested that he used her to run everything, and probably couldn’t handle the weight of his responsibilities on his own.

    Luke & Leia

    Core characters were subject to redesign as well, specifically their wardrobe. Lucasfilm wanted to visually convey to the audience that their heroes were in between two very distinct eras (Empire and Jedi.) While Chewie and Leia got “extreme” disguises to play dress-up in, Luke Skywalker’s wardrobe was meticulously reconceptualized.

    Lucasfilm’s Lucy Wilson would send notes to Dark Horse’s cover artist Drew Fleming on the Jedi knight’s garb, asking him to “please dress [Luke] in the same black outfit he shows up in in RotJ…the same black long-sleeved top, pants, and boots…but make his tunic a khaki color and give him a utility belt with various tools/etc. hanging off of it…”

    But playing with Luke’s fashion choices wasn’t the only way that Shadows of the Empire illustrated that Luke was in a transitionary phase. Jon Knoles wanted the the overarching narrative of the project to tie up a loose end that had been bugging him since the early ‘80s—where did Luke get his new green lightsaber?

    Thus another plotline to juggle was born, one of Shadows’ most interesting: Luke’s quest to build his fancy new weapon. Watching young Skywalker learn how to build his own based on Obi-Wan’s instructions was fascinating for aspiring Jedi everywhere to read, but there isn’t as much symbolic weight behind this act as there could have been in a film made by Lucas. At least it was treated as a pivotal step on the protagonist’s figurative journey to becoming a Jedi Knight and not just another macguffin to scratch off the list. (Or was it?)

    What’s frustrating about this sidequest is that it takes the place of a solid character arc for Luke, which is a shame. Dealing with the fallout from Vader’s reveal at the end of Empire would make Anakin Jr. the most captivating character in the dramatis personae. But no, learning his father’s secret doesn’t seem to affect Luke’s inner world much at all. Why wouldn’t we want to know what our hero’s state of mind was during this mysterious stretch of time?

    If Shadows didn’t give us insight into its most pivotal character, it did give us a glimpse at Leia’s emotional landscape following the loss of Han. The first loss of Han, rather. If anyone was at their “most vulnerable” here, it would be the Princess—someone who fears showing weakness. SotE’s journey into the seedy Star Wars underworld caused all of her issues to rise to the surface, making Leia the heart of Perry’s book.

    Despite the third-person take on her inner-monologue, Leia was treated as a character best handled from a distance. When she’s not being objectified, harassed, or protected from objectification and harassment by Chewie and Lando, she’s busy pulling up her sleeves and getting to the nitty gritty of propelling the novel’s major plotlines. As such, Princess Leia comes across as the Skywalker that’s the real hero here.

    The only real worthy piece of continuity from her storyline was how she got the Boushh disguise she wears in Jedi, a detail that most fans probably never wondered or cared about.

    The Story

    The attempted Han Solo rescue, which is the driving force early on in the story, obviously turns out to be the MacGuffin that leads the Skywalkers and their friends on other adventures. The video game tackles the earliest part of this mission, when Dash tracks down the bounty hunters who were originally tasked with capturing Han. Fighting his way through the planets Ord Mantell and Gall, Dash finally locates Fett and his prized slab of carbonite. Leia, Lando, Luke, and the Rebellion launch a rescue mission that sparks the Battle of Gall. It fails and Fett gets away again.

    Fett’s struggle to get the frozen Han Solo to Jabba the Hutt’s palace on Tatooine is the major subject of the Shadows comic. On his way to the desert planet he is attacked both by the Rebels and rival bounty hunters Bossk and Zuckuss. Ironically, he even has to hide out in an asteroid field at one point to fight off his assailants. Ultimately, Fett proves why he’s the greatest bounty hunter in the galaxy, outsmarting his pursuers and getting the payday.

    Things get more intricate from here. Prince Xizor, who vows to avenge his family after they’re killed by Darth Vader before the events of the book, plans to destroy Vader by killing his son and replacing him as the Emperor’s right hand. Xizor tries to have Luke assassinated several times in Shadows, only to be thwarted at the last minute every time by Rebels or Vader’s own bounty hunters. Vader, on the other hand, is still trying to find Luke and turn him to the Dark Side, which brings him in direct contact with the leader of Black Sun. The only reason Vader can’t Force choke Xizor out of an exhaust port is because the Emperor needs the crime lord to finish the construction of the second Death Star.

    Which brings us to the mission to steal the Death Star plans. Dash and Luke are informed by Bothan spies that the plans are being transported in a fertilizer freighter called the Suprosa. The Rebels launch an intercept mission. You can actually play through this mission as Dash in the Shadows video game.

    After some maneuvering, Xizor has Luke captured on the planet Kothlis, where the plans are being decoded by the Bothans. Luke manages to escape Kothlis with a little help from the Force, Lando, and Dash. Vader, who arrives on Kothlis too late to pick up Luke, is informed by his bounty hunters that there’s a rival group of bounty hunters trying to kill young Skywalker.

    Meanwhile, Leia is kidnapped by Xizor, who tries to seduce the Princess in his palace on Coruscant. Shadows of the Empire is in fact bookended by rescue missions, as Luke and his friends infiltrate the Imperial capital to save Leia from the evil crime lord. The story climaxes in spectacular fashion in a space battle above the city planet between the Rebels and the Empire, as Xizor attempts to escape but is stopped by Vader, who shows absolutely no mercy.

    Shadows of the Empire ends right before Return of the Jedi begins: Luke, Leia, and friends prepare to go on a daring rescue mission to save Han Solo from the clutches of the dastardly Jabba the Hutt, their latest adventure ultimately only a detour. 

    The Sequel

    Dark Horse gave Steve Perry a shot at telling a follow-up story in 1998 with the Shadows of the Empire: Evolution miniseries. Without so many requirements and stipulations from different Lucasfilm branches, Perry was given the freedom to tell a snappy, focused, personal story about Guri. The underappreciated badass got her time to shine in the Star Warslimelight, and although there may be too many panels (and pages) devoted to her posing around suggestively, the story did give her character a sense of resolution. As far as Perry was concerned, Guri was the only loose end from Shadows that needed to be dealt with (or the only one he felt the most inspired to tackle, anyway.)

    What’s interesting about Evolutionsis that much like Shadows itself, it’s built around the absence of a pivotal character. It’s Prince Xizor, this time. His spirit still permeates throughout Ron Randall’s gorgeous panel art, much like Han Solo’s did in the Shadows adaptation. In fact, Evolutions is loaded with so many references to Xizor that you expect him to show up during its final moments. But no, in the true spirit of Shadows of the Empire, this turns out to be one big tease.

    Instead, we get a highly convenient Dash Rendar cameo at the very end. Guri runs into him at a bar after she gets reprogrammed and loses her memories. Diet-Han looks alive and well to me, so the end of the N64 game was definitely canon (Rendar fakes his death during the space battle above Coruscant). But the romantic overtones of their chance encounter suggest that the two run off into the sunset together, which is a patronizing fate to give a character whose indepence you just spent five issues celebrating, is it not?

    The Legacy

    Because Episodes I-III tainted Star Wars for a good long while, Shadows of the Empire became an instant obscurity. After all, it was an outdated snapshot of a dormant brand waking up after a long nap to get back to work. Maybe bored gamers may have dusted off their N64 cartridges on lonely Saturday afternoons to play through the Battle of Hoth again in the early 2000s. But that was the only way anyone interacted with this brand experiment again.

    Filling a movie-sized hole in the public’s imagination without a movie was a great opportunity to begin the process of redefining Star Wars. Yet even after taking in all Shadows related materials (not including the Sourcebook, sorry folks), I don’t feel as satisfied as I do when I actually see a Star Wars film—even when it’s a bad one. There’s an aura of incompleteness that haunts Shadows, that attitude of “hey kids, you need to read x to understand y” that I found so distracting. Even Perry’s novel, the supposed focal point, suffers from the inclusion of characters like Dash who are obviously shoehorned in for other purposes that are counterproductive to telling an already crowded story.

    For a book that was advertised as being so dark, Perry’s Shadows shied away from going too deep into Luke’s psychological scars from the events at the end of Empire. That’s it’s biggest problem: for a “personal” story, Shadows is impersonal, prioritizing shallow action over emotional complexity. In fact, there’s more “darkness” in Empire’s surreal Dagobah cave scene than there is in 300 pages of Shadow’s novel and ten hours of its video game combined.

    What Shadows most prepared fans for in terms of Star Wars’ future was the business side of the galaxy far, far away, introduced through Black Sun’s shady dealings with the Empire. While I was reading these scenes, I couldn’t help but flashback to countless scenes of council meetings to discuss tariffs or something. Granted, Shadows’ meetings between Xizor, Vader, and the Emperor were far more engaging, but the signs were there.

    The Shadows initiative garnered enough success that it later served as real time inspiration for the Clone Wars marketing campaign in the early oughts. The concept of telling a movie-sized story in the negative space between film installments was ahead of its time, and couldn’t be pulled off in a pre-gaming era. Which is why the mid-90s (a literal negative space for Star Wars) was the perfect time to pull off a crazy stunt like this.

    As a whole, the Shadowsexperiment may have added an extra slimy texture to Star Warsthat hadn’t been there before. Exploring the darker corners of its universe through various media formats defined its nebulous gray area in ways the older films couldn’t. This was the most important lesson Lucasfilm learned from Shadows of the Empire, as it helped change Star Wars from a lost movie franchise into the rich multimedia brand experience it is today.

    SOURCES:

    Secrets of Shadows of the Empire by Mark Cotta Vaz

    StarWarz.com

    Star Wars Interviews

    Bombad Radio

    Believe it or not, Stephen Harber is actually Supreme Leader Snoke. Follow him on Twitter at @onlywriterever or visit his website for updates on more Ewoks movies that will never happen.


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    So you loved the Deadpool movies and want to know more about the character? We have a complete guide to Deadpool comics for you.

    FeatureGavin Jasper
    May 24, 2018

    As time moves forward, more and more people start getting into Marvel's Merc with a Mouth, Deadpool. A character who has existed for nearly three decades, Deadpool has been featured in a lot of stories. Some are incredibly good. Some are incredibly bad. It's hard to keep track of what's worth checking out.

    At times, I wake up in a cold sweat, dreaming about someone new to comics coming across a trade of Deadpool Corps and thinking, "Wow! A whole team of Deadpools! This has to be great! I'll buy it!" The poor souls. The poor, damned souls.

    I've read an excessive amount of Deadpool books over the years. I've experienced his highs and lows. The mainstream books that fell flat and the obscure appearances that are underrated.

    We're going to skip the first couple years of his existence because it's really not worth looking at. His first appearance in New Mutants #98 is forgettable and he doesn't do anything memorable in the pages of X-Force. He stars in a miniseries called Deadpool: The Circle Chase by Fabian Nicieza and Joe Madureira, which was okay, but not worth tracking down. He's still a full-on villain in the comic and thus comes off as unlikeable until a brief moment in the end. You can skip it.

    But whatever you do, don't skip these...

    Deadpool v.2 (also known as Deadpool: Sins of the Past) #1-4

    Writer: Mark Waid
    Artist: Ian Churchill
    1994

    Interestingly enough, the first really good Deadpool story came from Mark Waid's lack of research. Marvel asked him to do a Deadpool mini and he was like, "Yeah, sure, whatever." Then he read up on who Deadpool was and regretted his decision. Regardless, he was able to work out a pretty rad four issues.

    The comic introduces the relationship between Deadpool and Siryn, culminating in a fantastic character moment during a big fight against the Juggernaut in the final issue. Juggernaut and Black Tom Cassidy are the main villains of the story, during the weird point in the 90s where Cassidy has a wooden hand. The story isn't the most memorable thing in the world, but it gives us Wade being a good guy, Siryn, Dr. Killbrew, and Ian Churchill's grotesque depiction of Deadpool without his mask on. Joe Kelly's run gets all the praise, but Sins of the Past is like the prototype.

    Buy Deadpool v.2 (also known as Deadpool: Sins of the Past) on Amazon.

    Deadpool v.3 #1-33, Daredevil/Deadpool Annual '97, Deadpool/Death Annual '98, Baby's First Deadpool Book

    Writer: Joe Kelly
    Artists: Ed McGuinness, Kevin Lau, Bernard Chang, Shannon Denton, Pete Woods, Walter McDaniel, Steve Harris, and Anthony Williams
    1997-1999

    If it wasn't for Joe Kelly, nobody would care about Deadpool. He'd be an obscure piece of '90s trivia who would have been killed off years ago. Kelly built on Waid's miniseries and gave us nearly three years of solid comics that mixed the character's well-known humor and – this is important – pathos. The main story of the series is that a government group brings in Deadpool because they need him to do a deed they deem heroic. Deadpool then has to prove that he can in fact be a hero.

    This opens Pandora's box for him because it isn't so simple. While he has his positives, he can't just suddenly be a good person. There's a ton of moral baggage in his history and his willpower to walk straight in the light of tragedy is questionable at best. Then there's the details of his actual mission, which make him question himself even more as it gets closer and closer to go-time.

    Despite all the serious stuff and character building, it's still hilarious. It gave us the classic Street Fightergag, which was popular enough to be referenced multiple times in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. The best use of humor is issue #11 where Deadpool and his housemate/prisoner Blind Al go back in time and end up in an old 60s Spider-Man comic. Old art is reused and edited so that Deadpool is a stand-in for Spider-Man and Al is a stand-in for May. Notable for being one of the first times anyone in comics ever pointed out how ridiculous Norman Osborn's hair is.

    The complete Joe Kelly Deadpoolis available in the Deadpool Classic trades. You can buy this volume on Amazon.

    Deadpool v.3 #50, 51, 54, 55

    Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti and Buddy Scalera
    Artists: Darick Robertson and Georges Jeanty
    2001

    If there's one major flaw in Kelly's Deadpoolrun, it's that he gave him a pretty complete character arc and there was a feeling that whoever followed up was screwed. Christopher Priest got an A for effort, but his run on the character wasn't really grabbing the heart of the nation. In-between the end of Kelly's run and the beginning of Simone's run, this volume of Deadpoolwas a bunch of hit-or-miss stories.

    One of the better ones comes in a two-issue tale where Deadpool reluctantly finds himself with a sidekick. After failing to prevent a mob hit, Deadpool is bound by honor to temporarily adopt the victim's son Christopher and keep him safe. Christopher absolutely hates Deadpool and blames him for his father's death, but enough of an understanding is met where they agree to take out the man who called the hit. While he lacks the healing factor, Poolboy/Kid Deadpool is quick in understanding sniper gunplay and explosives. It's a shame he only made a few appearances after and then was completely forgotten about.

    Another good story comes a few issues later, where Deadpool meets with the Punisher for the first time. There's not too much meat on the story other than Deadpool being hired by a mobster to assassinate Frank, but the action is great and gives us a scene that I hold dear to my heart where Deadpool beats Frank with a lead pipe while insisting it's a delicious Fruit Roll-up. Maybe you had to be there, or maybe you just need to read the issue.

    Oh, and Tim Bradstreet – the guy who did all those realistic Punisher covers – draws Deadpool for issue #55's cover. It's totally sweet.

    Buy Deadpool Classic Volume 7 on Amazon.

    Deadpool v.3 #65-69

    Writer: Gail Simone
    Artist: Udon
    2002

    Gail Simone's Deadpoolrun is probably her best work and it says a lot that she was able to be so memorable with only five issues to her name. She gives Wade a new supporting cast and status quo, where he runs his own business Deadpool, Inc. While the run is mostly about Deadpool being stricken with mental entropy from an evil psychic mercenary named Black Swan, there are all sorts of little adventures in there, including the very memorable subplot where Deadpool carries Spider-Man villain the Rhino around on a keychain.

    There are a lot of hilarious gags and sweet moments tossed in there, including a scene in the finale involving Deadpool's "assistant," a crazed homeless man named Ratbag. The payoff is really one of the more selfless moments in Deadpool's history. The run also features appearances by the Taskmaster, back when he had his cool Skull Man from Mega Man 4 redesign. I miss that look.

    Buy Deadpool Classic Volume 9 on Amazon.

    Agent X #1-7, 13-15

    Writer: Gail Simone
    Artist: Alvin Lee and Udon
    2002-2003

    When I said that Simone only had five Deadpool issues to her name, that might not have been 100% accurate, depending on how you feel about Agent X. Agent X is a direct follow-up to the last arc of Deadpool v.3, featuring the same supporting cast (Sandi, Outlaw, Taskmaster) and starring a mysterious gentleman named Alex Hayden. The amnesiac Hayden has the same zest for mercenary work, a face-full of scars, and a juvenile sense of humor. This leads several to believe that he's really Wade Wilson and doesn't know it.

    At the very least, the comic has the same spirit. Unfortunately, Simone and the Udon guys leave after #7 and it's thrown to various other writers before being cancelled. Normally, that would be fine, but Simone set up a very specific mystery about Hayden's connections to Deadpool and Deadpool is still missing since the end of his previous solo run. Considering they needed Deadpool back in order to do Cable/Deadpool, Marvel had the original creative team return for three more issues to wrap everything up. It's a very satisfactory conclusion.

    Cable/Deadpool #1-50

    Writer: Fabian Nicieza
    Artists: Mark Brooks, Patrick Zircher, Lan Medina, Reilly Brown, Staz Johnson, and Ron Lim
    2004-2008

    Cable/Deadpool (or Cable & Deadpool) is rather nice in how self-contained it is for such a respectable run. Sure, it has tie-ins to House of M and Civil War, but there are no confusing crossovers or annuals or specials to muck it up. Just fifty straight issues of strong quality from the guy who co-created one of the two main characters. Other than a brief moment in the Kelly run, Deadpool and Cable have never seen eye-to-glowing-eye, so the series is about two hated enemies with nothing in common growing into a total bromance. It's wonderful. Nicieza hits all the right character moments and the quality rarely dips.

    There are two main flaws with it, though.

    One, while Nicieza's a great writer most of the time, he has the tendency to write plots that only seem to make sense to himself. He'll have some kind of maguffin in the story that will do something overly complicated and I really have no idea what's going on no matter how many times Deadpool says, "Oh, I get it now!"

    The other big problem is how Cable exits the series during the tail end because of stuff going on in the main X-Men books. For the rest of the comic, it's all about Deadpool doing his own thing in a series that's not supposed to just be about him. It's still good, but not as good and it's completely understandable that they end it 50 issues in for the sake of relaunching the series.

    Buy the Deadpool & Cable Omnibus on Amazon.

    Superman/Batman Annual #1

    Writer: Joe Kelly
    Artists: Ed McGuinness, Ryan Ottley, Sean Murphy, and Carlo Barberi
    2006

    Now, you might think it's kind of weird to have a DC comic on a reading guide for a Marvel character, but bear with me. This one-shot tells the story of how Superman and Batman discover each other's secret identities as a cruise ship enters the Bermuda Triangle. As crazy things are wont to happen, it opens up a portal to Earth-3 and the Crime Syndicate shows up to cause trouble. Meanwhile, Deathstroke the Terminator is hired to assassinate Bruce Wayne. The only one capable of getting in his way is Earth-3's answer to Deathstroke...who is a jokey mercenary...written by Joe Kelly.

    Yes, Earth-3 Deathstroke is very obviously Deadpool. Presumably, that's his name too, but every time he gets ready to introduce himself, he gets horribly maimed. The whole issue is a hoot and the idea that we're getting Deathstroke vs. Deadpool out of it is icing on the cake.

    Wolverine Origins #21-25

    Writer: Daniel Way
    Artist: Steve Dillon
    2008

    When Daniel Way was rumored as the new Deadpoolwriter, I was incredibly apprehensive based on his terrible take on Venom. Granted, Way's Deadpoolwas definitely more miss than hit (more on that in a sec), but he did start strong. In fact, his best writing came from his first big take on the merc. In Wolverine Origins, Way and Steve Dillon had Deadpool target Wolverine.

    The first few issues are a treat, turning it into a Chuck Jones type of cartoon where Deadpool terrorizes Wolverine by dropping pianos on him and other ridiculous things. It introduces Way's short-lived Pool-o-Vision, where Wade hallucinates and can't tell reality from daydreams. It's a terrible gimmick most of the time, but works here because Steve Dillon is doing it. Dillon's work is notorious for giving everyone the same ugly horse face, so to see him suddenly go all Tex Avery with the way he draws Wolverine is the best.

    Later in the arc, we get a fantastic issue where Deadpool rants about why he hates Wolverine, revealing his own self-hatred. It's really one of the best single issues for that character and makes it all the more disappointing that Way never hit that promise in all the time he wrote Deadpool after that.

    Buy Wolverine Origins: Deadpool on Amazon

    Deadpool v.4 #1-7, 10-12, 15-18

    Writer: Daniel Way
    Artists: Paco Medina and Carlo Barberi
    2008-2010

    Daniel Way got to write a lengthy run on Deadpoolwith 65 issues (two of them were .1 issues) during a time when Deadpool's mainstream popularity was really starting to take off. This is too bad as it wasn't all that good. I mean, it started out pretty good. The first year had a lot of energy and it looked like it was going somewhere, not counting the issues where it does a meaningless crossover with Thunderbolts. Immediately after, though, we get one of the most entertaining Deadpool stories ever when he takes on Dark Avengers' Hawkeye (Deadpool's on-again/off-again friend Bullseye). It's awesome, funny, off-the-wall, and action-packed. If there's a reason I stuck with the book longer than I should have, it's because of these issues.

    Afterwards, there's a decent storyline where he tries to join the X-Men, but the rest of Way's stuff is for the birds. The humor is flat, there's zero direction, there's seemingly never any payoff to anything, the inner-voice gimmick means Way doesn't need to include a supporting cast (which Deadpool seriously needs), and his Deadpool is simply an unlikeable dick. There's no reason to actually care about him. Then towards the end, Way starts bringing back old Deadpool antagonists without actually understanding any of them.

    Still, that first year or so was pretty sweet. It's available in Deadpool: The Complete Collection by Daniel Way.

    Shang-Chi Master of Kung Fu #1 (Super Issue)

    Writer: Jonathan Hickman
    Artist: Kody Chamberlin
    2009

    A few years ago, Marvel had a tendency to release huge 48-page one-shots for random characters. They're in black and white with various creative teams doing short stories. Shang-Chi got one and it's every bit worth reading. The cover story is actually called "The Annual Race to Benefit Various and Sundry Evil Organizations and Also the Homeless. Now with Beer and Hot Dogs" and it's a trip.

    The best way I can even explain it is a surreal and at times nightmarish version of Wacky Races featuring Shang-Chi, Deadpool, and a bunch of outlandish factions on motorcycles. The fact that it's Jonathan Hickman writing it makes it one of the better "under the radar" comics Marvel's given us in the past decade. The non-Deadpool stories are worth it as well.

    Deadpool: Suicide Kings #1-6

    Writers: Mike Benson and Adam Glass
    Artist: Carlo Barberi
    2009

    Suicide Kings is a miniseries that doesn't really have much to say. It's slightly difficult for me to even explain why I have it on the list. There's nothing high concept and even unique about it. It's just a Deadpool vs. Tombstone story. I guess it's just fun. Deadpool gets framed for a terrorist act and has to find who set him up. Doing so gets him into fights and team-ups with Daredevil, Spider-Man, and the Punisher.

    The Punisher stuff is the most entertaining, seeing as how this takes place during the brief window of time when Frank has access to lots of black market superhero/villain tech. So if you want to see the Punisher flying around on a Goblin Glider with one of Klaw's sonic blasters, this is the comic for you. I guess it's just a good go-to Deadpool story that has no real baggage to it.

    Buy Deadpool: Suicide Kings on Amazon.

    Deadpool Team-Up #899, 898, 897, 894, 893, 890, 889, 888, 886

    Writers: Various
    Artists: Various
    2010-2011

    There was a time when Deadpool had four on-going comics at once along with minis and other madness. While it was a time of quantity over quality, Deadpool Team-Up had a lot of gems in there. A follow-up to Deadpool #900 (making fun of how Spider-Man, Hulk, and others suddenly had #600 comics coming out), we got this series, which was numbered in reverse order.

    It's just as well as there's no continuity to speak of in Team-Up. Every single issue is a different creative team writing a story about Deadpool working alongside a different character. That means it's a crapshoot and you don't know what you're going to get. Though a lot of the time you're going to see writers really trying to push characters they want to see get more exposure. Seriously, there's a crossover with US-Ace that ends with the writer asking you to mail Marvel that you want to see him write more US-Ace comics.

    The better team-ups are with Hercules, the Zapata Brothers, the Ghost Riders, Franken-Castle, Captain Britain, Machine Man, Gorilla Man, Thing, and Iron Fist. The two absolute highlights are easily the Captain Britain and Thing issues. If you're a wrestling fan, the Thing issue is a definite must-read, if only to see Deadpool and Thing take on an intergalactic Randy Savage. Just like that Dexter's Lab cartoon that's based on that Thing comic! It all comes full circle.

    Deadpool Pulp #1-4

    Writers: Adam Glass and Mike Benson
    Artist: Laurence Campbell
    2010-2011

    For a short while, Marvel did their Noir comic line. Spider-Man, Luke Cage, Wolverine, etc. Everybody had one. Towards the end of that, they gave Deadpool one, only titled "Pulp."

    "Pulp" takes place in the 1950s in a world without superheroes or superpowers. Wade Wilson is a Canadian operative, certifiably insane due to his experiences in the Korean War. He's hand-picked for a special mission by General Nathan Summers, who feels he owes Wilson as many chances as possible to get himself straight, considering Wilson lost his marbles rescuing Nathan during the war. In a cool story that puts Deadpool on the search for a stolen nuclear device meant to trigger World War III, he runs into reimagined versions of Weasel, Outlaw, and Stryfe.

    It's worth checking out.

    Buy Deadpool: Pulp on Amazon

    Uncanny X-Force #1-35

    Writer: Rick Remender
    Artists: Jerome Opena, Rafael Albuquerque, Esad Ribic, Billy Tan, Mark Brooks, Greg Tocchini, Phil Noto, Julian Totino Tedesco, Dave Williams, and Robbi Rodriguez
    2010-2012

    Rick Remender's Uncanny X-Force is, naturally, a team book and Deadpool is only one piece of the full picture, but Remender's take on him is so rich that it offsets the lack of panel-time. This incarnation of Deadpool may have more heart to him than any other writer's version. Despite his reputation, he ends up being the conscience of the team and shows off his character growth rather than just reliving it for the umpteenth time.

    This incarnation of X-Force is about going after threats to mutantkind proactively in a squad led by Wolverine. Deadpool claims to be part of the team due to being paid, but it's pretty apparent that he's only there in honor of Cable. He's probably the least important member of the team, but he has a lot of prime moments. You actually see him gain the respect of Wolverine, become an unlikely mentor, and completely obliterate Frank Castle verbally at one point.

    "Oh, and Chuck Bronson called – he wants everything he everdid back."

    Buy Uncanny X-Force on Amazon.

    Fear Itself: Deadpool #1-3

    Writer: Christopher Hastings
    Artist: Bong Dazo
    2011

    Fear Itselfwas a lousy event and for the most part I hate it, but the Deadpool miniseries was a good time. As evil god hammers rain from the sky and turn seven characters into unstoppable fear demons, Deadpool decides to use this to his advantage and build up his reputation as a badass. Though he isn't going to fight the actual fear gods. He's not that stupid. Instead, he decides to bedazzle a big-ass hammer and trick D-list villain the Walrus into picking it up, making him believe himself to be one of the Chosen. Too bad the hammer is actually enchanted (in a way unrelated to the fear god stuff going on), so Walrus is actually pretty powerful and more than a match for Deadpool.

    The mini is written by Christopher Hastings, the man behind Dr. McNinja, and to no surprise, he's a perfect fit with writing Deadpool. I'm hoping to see more of that writer/character pairing in the future.

    Buy Fear Itself: Deadpool on Amazon

    5 Ronin #1-5

    Writer: Peter Milligan
    Artists: Tom Coker, Dalibor Talajic, Laurence Campbell, Goran Parlov, and Leandro Fernandez
    2011

    5 Ronin is far from being entirely about Deadpool, but I'm putting it on the list because it features my favorite alternate reimagining of the character. The five-issue miniseries takes place in feudal Japan, during the dying days of the samurai.

    A villain known as the Daimyo has made a ton of enemies and each issue focuses on a different one, each a powerless, Japanese counterpart to certain Marvel heroes. You have Wolverine, Hulk, Punisher, Psylocke, and finally Deadpool. Other than the Psylocke issue, a crazy village idiot with his scars covered in a wide, straw hat tends to show up and pushes the heroes one way or another. This is, as you can guess, Deadpool, who gets the spotlight in the last issue, mixing his silly nature, a serving a emotional trauma, and a whole lot of badass.

    He even gets the sweetest fourth-wall-breaking moment during the climax.

    Buy 5 Ronin on Amazon

    What If Venom Possessed Deadpool?

    Writer: Rick Remender
    Artist: Shawn Moll
    2011

    While it's already a funny comic, this What If? is worth a chuckle in retrospect. The story of Deadpool becoming Venom in a failed attempt to assassinate the Beyonder is ultimately Rick Remender's soap box about superhero stories only "mattering" because of big Marvel events. Then Remender would go on to write Axis, which would feature Deadpool prominently. The difference a few years makes.

    There's a lot going on in the issue, including the Watcher hosting his own Jerry Springer-type show where Beyonder throws a chair at Galactus, but the best part is easily when Venompool finds himself in the middle of a 1990s comic crossover throwdown. An overly-90s Sentry (brown leather jacket, shades, ponytail, pouches) goes on a rant about superheroes concepts that are stupid, most notably going off on the idea of Mummy Moon Knight being stupid because crazy stuff isn't supposed to ever happen to street-level heroes. This is Remender's way of letting off steam about those who criticized his awesome "Frank Castle is now a Frankenstein monster" status quo.

    Man...I miss Franken-Castle so much, guys.

    Deadpool v.5 #1-45, Deadpool: The Gauntlet #1-13

    Writers: Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn
    Artists: Tony Moore, Scott Koblish, Mike Hawthorne, Declan Shalvey, Mike Hawthorne, Reilly Brown, and John Lucas
    2012-2015

    Even though I start at #1 here, you might want to just skip the first six issues. Truth be told, they're not that great. If anything, it feels like a four-issue story being told in six issues and the main concept of Deadpool fighting zombie presidents loses its luster pretty quickly. Then again, maybe it reads better in trade. I don't know.

    All I know is that a lot of people have felt reluctant in catching up with the series based on how weak the first storyline is although it's unanimous from what I've seen that people consider everything after it to be far better. So if you want to see some foundation for the new series' supporting cast and some lovely Tony Moore art, give it a go. If you don't dig it, just remember that it gets immediately excellent afterwards.

    #7 and on? Pure gold. The quality is off the chain here. I think outside of Uncanny X-Force, this is the first take on Deadpool that actually tries to move forward from what Kelly wrote. Nicieza and Way both tried to reinvent the wheel by doing more, "Deadpool's a crazy jerk mercenary who needs to learn to be a superhero," stories. Duggan and Posehn start with that. Deadpool's already proven to have a good enough heart. Now what? Now he has to build relationships. Over the course of the series he doesn't just gain friends, but family as well.

    Which reminds me, after #25, you have to read the Gauntletseries with art by Reilly Brown. It's a digital thing and lasts 13 issues, but they later turned it into a print miniseries called Dracula's Gauntlet. You're better off getting the digital stuff because they use the Marvel Infinite gimmick extremely well.

    The series has a perfect balance of humor, nonsense, tragedy, and heart. If anything, definitely read the story arc "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" where Deadpool teams up with Captain America and Wolverine in North Korea. It's goddamn heartbreaking and ends up being maybe the best Deadpool story ever. Plus I'm quoted on the cover of the hardcover version!

    Some of this arc is available in Gerry Duggan's Deadpool Volume 1.

    A+X #8

    Writer: Christopher Hastings
    Artist: Reilly Brown
    2013

    Hey, Hastings is back! In a series of two-for-one-shots that feature Avengers characters teaming up with X-Men characters, we have Hawkeye and Deadpool working together. You know, Deadpool is sort of an X-Men guy. This beats the pants off of most of Deadpool Team-Up due to the banter between the two snarky superhero man-children. Their pirate-fighting adventure is a great prelude to the Hawkeye vs. Deadpool miniseries, though they certainly get along better here. While most heroes immediately hate Deadpool, Hawkeye takes a shining to him from the start and the two fight side-by-side like total bros. Also notable for the debut of the exploding Hulk Hands trick arrow.

    Hastings would also go on to do the one-shot Deadpool Annual #2, where Deadpool switches costumes with Spider-Man. If you dig the Fear Itself tie-in and this story from A+X, by all means track it down.

    Deadpool vs. Carnage #1-4

    Writer: Cullen Bunn
    Artist: Salva Espin
    2014

    Carnage is one of those characters people are thinking about when they claim, "There are no bad characters, just bad writers." As awful as he was in the 90s, his batting average has been way better ever since being brought back a few years ago. With Cullen Bunn getting nothing but Deadpool miniseries to write, Deadpool vs. Carnage worked the best because he ultimately matched up two unrelated characters and made them seem right together as regular archenemies.

    Carnage never worked as a Spider-Man villain because all the writers could ever do is make their dynamic a watered-down Batman vs. Joker with superpowers. Spider-Man responds to Carnage's mass slaughter by punching him, not giving murder much serious thought, and hoping really hard that the authorities can keep him locked up. Deadpool outright wants to make Carnage suffer, both physically and psychologically.

    The idea of the series is that Carnage is again on the loose and Deadpool goes after him because they're on the same insane wavelength. He can understand where Carnage is and what he's going to do next. This understandably drives Carnage to frustration because he lives by the mantra of chaos. He's supposed to be unpredictable, yet this idiot claims to know his every move. Toss in some fun and incredibly violent fight scenes that play up their battle strengths and weaknesses and you have a pretty solid miniseries.

    Buy Deadpool vs. Carnage on Amazon

    Hawkeye vs. Deadpool #0-4

    Writer: Gerry Duggan
    Artist: Matteo Lolli
    2014-2015

    On Halloween, Deadpool ends up crossing paths with both Hawkeyes and inserts himself in helping them solve a mystery. They uncover a plot involving Black Cat, Typhoid Mary, and a lot of brainwashed weirdos dressed as superheroes.

    With Duggan writing, it feels an awful lot like it’s a missing story arc from the main Deadpoolbook that just doesn’t tie in with the rest of the series. Clint Barton is written very much like the Matt Fraction version of the character where he’s an Ash Williams type who is either an unlucky badass or a lucky loser depending on how you look at him.

    Even though Deadpool plays off Clint extremely well, it becomes even better the more Deadpool and Kate interact, with Deadpool becoming something of a bad superhero influence on her.

    Buy Hawkeye vs. Deadpool on Amazon

    Deadpool v.6 #1-27

    Writer: Gerry Duggan
    Artists: Mike Hawthorne and Scott Koblish
    2015-2017

    After the whole "Death of Deadpool" think, there's a Secret Warstie-in called Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos, but it's nothing necessary. Plus Deadpool just exists as a ghost narrator throughout.

    Duggan appears without Posehn to write some more Deadpool with a brand new status quo. Due to actions that aren't immediately apparent to the reader, Deadpool has become the most popular superhero in the world. He's so popular and so beloved that he's merchandised himself and has used the money to fund two different ventures. One is the Avengers, as shown in the pages of Uncanny Avengers (also by Duggan). Yes, Deadpool is an Avenger. God help us.

    The other venture is Deadpool's Mercs for Money. He's franchised himself out to other goofball hero/antihero characters, including Slapstick, Terror, Solo, and others so that they can dress like him and fulfill jobs like him. Despite his success, Deadpool has a bit too much going on and it starts taking its toll on his life. Plus one of his employees is out to get him. I won't spoil who it is, but at least now Deadpool has a fitting archnemesis.

    There's also an interesting side-story told piece-by-piece through the series. We peer into the year 2099 to see what kind of legacy Wade's carved for himself. It ties into the present day stuff, though we won't know how much for a while.

    As for Uncanny Avengers, while it's okay, it's not required reading. It shows Wade's financial downfall and pairs him up with Rogue romantically, but the latter part is over before it can begin.

    Spider-Man/Deadpool #1-14

    Writer: Joe Kelly and various
    Artist: Ed McGuinness and various
    2016-2017

    Yep. Kelly and McGuinness are back. It mainly follows up on the events of the first issue of Uncanny Avengers where Spider-Man left the team due to Deadpool's inclusion. Now Deadpool wants help in being a better hero and intends to hire Spider-Man to help him. Wade kind of goes the wrong way about it every step of the way, including attempted murder on Spider-Man's current boss...Peter Parker.

    The two jokey heroes end up becoming a bit closer, which is good, since Wolverine's dead and Deadpool really needs a reluctant BFF. The main story has been about a mysterious villain obsessed with killing them and a strange hybrid creature.

    There are also a bunch of fill-in issues that tell one-shot stories of the two, like earlier meetings or an issue where the two save Christmas. All good stuff.

    Deadpool and the Mercs for Money v.2 #1-8

    Writer: Cullen Bunn
    Artist: Iban Coello
    2016-2017

    So Cullen Bunn did a miniseries about the Mercs for Money and it was...fine. It wasn’t bad, but felt very by-the-numbers by tossing in the likes of Taskmaster and Evil Deadpool. Despite doing well enough to get an ongoing, it’s entirely skippable.

    Also, by this point, several members of the team have gotten their own solo stories that shat the bed. That means that this ongoing is about taking apart the old team and creating a new and more interesting line-up. Now the Mercs for Money includes Gorilla Man, Hit-Monkey, Machine Man, the new leader Domino, and – most importantly – Negasonic Teenage Warhead.

    Negasonic’s name is Ellie. Kind of weird that Deadpool has both a daughter and a daughter figure named Ellie.

    The Unbelievable Gwenpool #12-13

    Writer: Christopher Hastings
    Artist: Alti Firmansyah and Gurihiru
    2017

    Gwenpool is the new hotness these days, even though she’ll probably fall into obscurity by 2019. Too bad, since she’s a load of fun. Coming from the “real world” and being drawn into the Marvel Universe, Gwen Poole is more Superboy Prime than Deadpool. Regardless, she is fully aware that she’s in a fictional comic book world and is more of a thematic counterpart.

    In this story, where she’s captured by Arcade, she finally gets to meet and fight Deadpool. Shockingly, this isn’t a fangirl-meeting-hero moment like Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel. Nope. Turns out Gwen doesn’t actually read Deadpool comics and think his sense of humor is whack.

    Deadpool: ‘Til Death Do Us... (Deadpool #28, Spider-Man/Deadpool #15, Deadpool and the Mercs for Money #9, Spider-Man/Deadpool #16, Deadpool and the Mercs for Money #10, Deadpool #29)

    Writers: Gerry Duggan, Joshua Corin, and Christopher Hastings
    Artists: Salva Espin, Scott Koblish, and Iban Coello
    2017

    Wow, an actual Deadpool event! About time we got one of these. Told across three books, Shiklah finally decides to start an uprising and take over New York City. While the Mercs for Money keep her busy, Deadpool and Spider-Man take a trip to Europe to bring in the only monster capable of putting a stop to this: Dracula.

    ...this plan isn’t going to end well, is it?

    Deadpool v.6 #30-36

    Writer: Gerry Duggan
    Artists: Mike Hawthorne, Matteo Lolli
    2017

    What goes up must come down. Deadpool’s been involved in a lot of perilous situations but nothing is worse than the dreaded Secret Empiretie-in! Good God, no! Yes, Deadpool’s status quo is rocked forever because of his alliance with Retcon Sci-Fi-Nazi Steve Rogers. The Real-Captain-America-Who-Has-Been-Hydra-All-Along-Or-Something gives Deadpool the mission of killing off Agent Coulson, meaning Deadpool has to succeed at a job that even low TV ratings can’t pull off.

    Deadpool’s actions put him at odds with some of his closest friends and it’s only going to get worse from here.

    Deadpool vs. Old Man Logan #1-5

    Writer: Declan Shalvey
    Artist: Mike Henderson
    2017

    While Deadpool became somewhat close with Wolverine prior to the latter’s death, he doesn’t have many good things to say about Wolverine’s elderly, alternate future self. Old Man Logan goes on a one-man mission to save a mutant girl named Maddie from being experimented on by a shadowy government organization and Deadpool tries to beat him to the punch just to steal his thunder.

    Maddie’s power is that she can teleport matter, but only objects and not people. She’s very reluctant to take help from either quick-healing mass murderer, but is stuck with them anyway. As the story unfolds, we begin to wonder if maybe it’s better that they take her advice.

    Either way, a whole lot of goons are going to get stabbed, including our heroes. Because, again, they don’t like each other.

    Deadpool vs. the Punisher #1-5

    Writer: Fred Van Lente
    Artist: Pere Perez
    2017

    Frank Castle is out to take down The Bank, the world’s biggest money launderer. As it turns out, Deadpool is good friends with “Banksy” and is especially close with his son Hudson. The Bank’s wife Mariana tries to escape their life of crime and brings Hudson with her. Deadpool wants them safe but Frank wants them for information and continually lies to Deadpool to use him.

    He also shoots him in the head a few times.

    What makes this one so fun is that Fred Van Lente gets to do a quasi-follow-up to his amazing Taskmasterminiseries from years earlier. Not only does Taskmaster himself show up for a bit, but underrated D-list villain Don of the Dead gets to strut his stuff.

    Spider-Man vs. Deadpool #23-34

    Writer: Robbie Thompson
    Artists: Chris Bachalo, Scott Hepburn, Elmo Bondoc, Matt Horak
    2017-2018

    The Agent Coulson situation has ruined what was a budding friendship between red-clad wise-crackers. Spider-Man is now out to catch Deadpool and bring him to justice, but that won’t stop them from getting wrapped up in a plot involving Chameleon and a bigass army of LMD copies of various heroes and villains.

    The story also bounces back and forth between the present and the future, decades on where Wade and Peter living at the same retirement home. A guilt-ridden Deadpool constantly keeps an eye on his reluctant buddy to secretly keep him alive and it all ties into their LMD adventure. Soon Old Man Wade will have no choice but to use a time machine to reach the present and make things right.

    The Despicable Deadpool #287-300

    Writer: Gerry Duggan
    Artists: Scott Koblish, Matteo Lolli, Mike Hawthorne
    2017-2018

    Deadpool’s house of cards have begun to crumble. His redemption has folded. Not only is he catching flak for his Secret Empire actions, but Stryfe has him blackmailed to do his bidding. And seriously, if an evil time-traveler is blackmailing you, there’s nothing that you can really do about it because your loved ones can never truly be safe. Now he’s tasked with killing certain people – including Cable himself – or Stryfe is going to kill Ellie.

    Unable to simply turn himself in, Deadpool instead struggles as everyone is out to get him. Not only is every superhero out to bring him in, but he’s also put a massive bounty on his own head so that every villain will want to finally end his life. This all culminates in a huge final issue for Duggan’s lengthy run that includes the most disgusting Avengers battle you’ve ever seen.

    Any other good Deadpool stories I should have included? Take it to the comments.

    Also, I was going to have the Charles Soule run of Thunderboltsin here, but Deadpool doesn't really get to do all that much and is mainly there to crack jokes in the background. Still a good comic.

    Note: This article originally ran in April of 2015. It has been updated with new information since then.

    Gavin Jasper likes that someone at Marvel read that Shang-Chi comic and figured, "Yes, that's the writer we can trust to blow up the Marvel multiverse."Follow Gavin on Twitter!


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    Han Solo had a hard time with fatherhood in the old Star Wars EU and the struggle is even more real in the new canon.

    Feature John Saavedra
    May 24, 2018

    Han Solo has always had a pretty tough time as a dad. Even before Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012 and rebooted the canon so that none of his previously established post-Return of the Jedi adventures had ever happened, the former smuggler was breaking a sweat as a family man. If there's one thing the Star Wars Expanded Universe, old and new, has always reinforced, it's that being a dad is hard - especially when your kids are Force-sensitive. 

    While Han certainly struggled with Jacen, Jaina, and Anakin in the old canon Legends timeline - only one of his kids were still standing by the time Disney wiped the slate clean - things only got worse for him in The Force Awakens. Not only had Ben Solo turned to the dark side and become the murderous Kylo Ren, but Han's life came to a surprising end when his son stabbed him with a lightsaber and threw him off a bridge, the scoundrel tumbling into the abyss of Starkiller Base.

    It's not surprising that one of the big chips on Kylo's shoulder is his relationship (or lack thereof, according to the villain) with his father. As Kylo says in both TFA and The Last Jedi, Han and Leia were too busy with the New Republic to ever truly pay him any mind. While part of Kylo's scorn for his parents certainly comes down to him being a contemptuous brat, there's definitely some truth hidden beneath the villain's rage. It's hard being second or third on your parents' list of priorities.

    Han gave parenting a good go in Legends, but it's arguable that the new Dad Solo is closer to reality. Let's face it, Han's not really a guy you'd ever peg as a good dad. His whole arc in the Original Trilogy is basically about him trying to figure out how to not be a shithead when things get difficult. When the Empire is about to blow up the Rebel base on Yavin, his first instinct is to run. When he's faced with the choice of staying with the Rebellion or going back to smuggling, it's only circumstance (the Imperial attack on Hoth) that keeps him from bouncing. In Return of the Jedi, when he suspects that Leia is in love with Luke, you can feel the guy already warming up Shuttle Tydirium. Han is Star Wars fandom's problematic fave

    Yes, credit should be given to Han for ultimately not running in any of the situations listed above, but has he actually learned anything by the end of the trilogy? Based on a new book, titled Last Shot, by Daniel José Older, a tie-in novel to Solo: A Star Wars Story that explores three different eras in the scoundrel's life (as well as several adventures with Lando Calrissian and Chewie), Han's not changed all that much at all in the days since the Battle of Endor. In an excerpt released by StarWars.com, we meet a Han Solo who's bored with New Republic meetings, hesitant about his new leadership role within the fledgling government, and who is really struggling with fatherhood - especially when it comes to actually enjoying it. 

    Throughout the short excerpt, Han looks on at his sleeping infant son with trepidation, hoping he won't wake up after a long night of restlessness.

    “Hngh . . .” Han Solo woke with a tiny foot in his face and an irri­tating droid voice in his ear. “What?” The tiny foot was attached to the tiny body of Ben Solo, mercifully sleeping for what seemed like the first time in days. Han’s eyes went wide. Would the boy wake?

    When Ben is suddenly ripped out of sleep by the hologram of Mon Mothma, who has an urgent message for Leia, Han looks on at his son with bewilderment. Whether intended or not, Han doesn't have a loving thought about Ben in the entire excerpt. Han's brief thoughts about his son have more to do with his feelings of obligation - and how confusing and restricting those feelings are for the former Rebel hero - than an actual expression of love. In fact, the only observation he makes about his son is regarding Ben's "dark" and "ancient eyes" - a thought that unsettles him for the obvious foreshadow-y reasons.

    Coupled with his feelings about being "suckered into" a leadership role in the New Republic, it's clear that Han is already thinking about running again:

    He had a pile of boring meetings today, kicking off a week of planning and preparing for the inaugural meeting of the New Republic Pilots Commission, which Han had grudgingly accepted the leadership of—a mistake he was still trying to figure out how he’d been suckered into. Han hated planning. He also hated preparing. But what he really hated above everything else, besides maybe the Empire itself, was meetings. And now the Empire had been gone for more than two years, the remnants of their fleet blasted out of the sky over Jakku just as Ben was being born, in fact, and that cleared the way for meetings to take the number one slot on the Things Han Hates list.

    It's the things left unsaid in this passage that show Han slowly reverting to his old instincts. His thoughts on planning, which, in the context of the excerpt, could also refer to Han's dismay about his life as a family man, which, for the time being, is set on a plotted course. Not to mention that he totally selfishly sees the end of the violent Galactic Civil War, in tandem with the birth of his son, as the spark for his boring life as a dad with a government job. Tough break for a guy used to adventuring through space and smooching royalty. 

    We know what happens next, of course. By the time Rey and Finn run into Han in The Force Awakens, he's gone back to his old life as a smuggler, his failure as a dad the final straw for the family man. As far as we know, when Ben falls to the dark side, Han runs away "to deal with his feelings" instead of trying to actually save his son.

    From The Force Awakens:

    Han Solo: There's nothing more we could have done. There's too much Vader in him.

    Leia: That's why I wanted him to train with Luke. I just never should have sent him away. That's when I lost him. That's when I lost you both.

    Han Solo: We both had to deal with it in our own way. I went back to the only thing I was ever any good at.

    Leia eventually convinces Han to bring back their son - a fitting final act for the scoundrel, although not so much a progression in his character but the same infinite loop: when the smuggler is faced with a hard decision, does he run or does he fight? In this case, he dies fighting, but only after disappointing those he loves so many times before.

    As poetic as his death might be (and perfect for Harrison Ford, who wanted to be killed off all the way back in The Empire Strikes Back), I don't think Han deserved to die on Starkiller Base. Is Kylo right to describe Han as a deadbeat dad? Sure, and it's even those daddy issues that make the villain a sympathetic character - at least until he's faced with the same choice of owning his fuck ups and fails to do so. But it would've also been interesting to watch Han deal head-on with his failure as a father - and a husband - for another movie or perhaps the rest of the Sequel Trilogy, so that we could finally have the version of the hero we had built up in our heads from the first time we'd watched Star Wars. A hero who owned, faced, and fixed his mistakes.  

    The writers of the old EU were much kinder to the Rebel hero. Han loses two sons and does a better job of dealing with those losses. With the loss of Jacen Solo, he's even gifted a granddaughter, the next in a line of many more Solos to come. But for the Han Solo of the Sequel Trilogy that long line of successors may never come to pass, buried with its flawed patriarch and his greatest failure. 

    Star Wars: Last Shot is out now. Solo hits theaters on May 25.

    John Saavedra is an associate editor at Den of Geek US. Find more of his work on his website. Or just follow him on Twitter.


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    From Sith apprentice to Old Master, Darth Maul is the Star Wars villain everyone loves to hate. Here's what you need to know about Maul!

    The Lists Megan Crouse
    May 24, 2018

    This Star Wars article contains spoilers.

    From the Prequel Trilogy to Star Wars Rebels, Darth Maul just won't quit. The short-lived villain from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace became a standout fan favorite because of his appearance and acrobatic lightsaber moves, and after his return in season four of The Clone Wars, he moved into other mediums - like the four-part Son of Dathomir comic series. 

    His surprise resurgence in Rebels brought the villain to a whole new era of Star Wars, as Maul clashed with the heroes of the early Rebellion. His particular interest in young Jedi apprentice Ezra Bridger made for quite a few interesting appearances. In his final episode, Maul faced off against his old nemesis, Obi-Wan Kenobi, under the twin suns of Tatooine. Maul was finally defeated, but that doesn't mean we'll never see him again. If the villain has proved anything, it's that he's not one to stay down. 

    Here are some important facts you may not have known about the former Sith villain, either behind the scenes or in the galaxy far, far away:

    His design was created by Iain McCaig

    Ian McCaig is the same designer whose art would eventually inspire the witches of Dathomir in The Clone Wars. Early concept art for the character showed a villainous-looking woman with hair falling in strands across her face. McCaig experimented with ink-blot “Rorschach” designs as well as flayed-looking faces before finding the right look for Darth Maul. The tattoos on his face follow the muscle structure beneath.

    A canonical connection between the Dathomiri witches and the Sith would only be established later on in The Clone Wars, and now continues into the new canon, but the connection was always there in the art. Iain McCaig also designed many of Padme’s outfits in Episode I.

    Darth Maul wears an earring in the film - but this wasn’t planned. 

    Actor Ray Park put on a small, silver earring before sitting down to do the Darth Maul makeup, and only noticed it later. But George Lucas said he liked it, so the earring stayed. Park has said that he sees the earring as an aspect of himself, not of the character - and in an Expanded Universe where every doodad and costume piece usually has a story, there has never been a canon explanation to give this particular detail a role in Maul’s history.

    Ray Park also had a hand in developing Maul’s fighting style, and asked that the hilt of Maul’s double lightsaber be lengthened so that he could use it more efficiently.

    He’s had two different mothers.

    In Son of Dathomir, Talzin says that she’s Maul’s blood mother. This is different from his history in Legends, but only slightly.

    Maul’s original mother, from the young adult novel, The Wrath of Darth Maul, was a human Nightsister named Kycina, from a region called Blue Desert City. It’s still possible that Talzin is lying, but The Clone Wars gave Maul an entire family.

    We’re not precisely sure how the brothers Feral and Savage are related, but they could all be blood-related from this same family. Who is the father? We don’t know yet.

    Maul, like many other villains, earned his cyborg parts.

    In Star Wars, cybernetic implants are like battle scars. This isn’t unique to antagonists, but Darth Vader and General Grievous had extensive cybernetic reconstruction. Darth Maul goes through this in The Clone Wars, too, although it isn’t overtly obvious in Son of Dathomir. Maul’s original artificial legs are of a similar design to Grievous’, and were built out of Nightsister magic and scrap parts by Mother Talzin.

    A similar design for Darth Maul appeared many years earlier in Old Wounds, a non-canon comic (even in the Legends timeline) that told the story of Maul's rematch with Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tatooine. The Clone Wars featured an entirely new design for Maul: an eight-legged body made out of scrap metal. By the time Maul appeared in Rebels, he had acquired more refined parts. His metal legs were almost human-like.

    He sought his master's approval even while trying to destroy him.

    Sure, Darth Maul was a bit of a pushover for getting cut in half by a teenage Padawan. But in Son of Dathomir, he and his combined forces of Mandalorians and criminals capture both Count Dooku and General Grievous without lengthy battles. Once they're in his clutches, Maul parades his success in front of Darth Sidious in one of the most telling parts of the comic.


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    Maul displays Grievous and Dooku to Sidious so that the Sith Lord can see their failure. For someone who opposed Sidious for years on The Clone Wars, Maul is very quick to show off to him - which makes for a bitter, twisted moment in Maul and Sidious’ long-standing Master-apprentice relationship.

    In that way, the Son of Dathomir comic doesn’t just make Maul more powerful, it also tells a lot about how Maul seeks both revenge on and approval from his master - and that’s a story thread that started all the way back in The Phantom Menace.

    Some of Maul’s Clone Wars stories are still unwritten.

    The novel Ahsoka opens with a short scene showing some of what Maul was up to around the time of Revenge of the Sith. We don’t know the exact timeline of how he got to Mandalore where he faced her. However, it is one puzzle piece in the picture of what might have happened in The Clone Wars had it continued past six seasons. 

    The verbal barb Maul throws at Ahsoka — “One last attempt at glory to impress a master who has no further use for you” — is telling. He showed that very same weakness throughout the Clone Wars when he tried to return to Darth Sidious, so it seems natural that this particular effort would be on his mind when he faces Ahsoka. 

    Ahsoka saved Maul’s life.

    Without Ahsoka’s appearance in Rebels, Maul’s fate might have been very different. Executive Producer Dave Filoni originally planned for Maul to die at Darth Vader’s hands during the season two finale. However, Ahsoka’s history with Vader was deemed more appropriate for the big season two finale.

    A duel between Maul and Vader would have satisfied fans’ desire to see a fight scene between these two heavy-hitters, but Ahsoka’s story had more emotional weight, Filoni said. Without enough time in the episode to do both, Filoni decided to send Ahsoka to fight Vader, and, therefore, keep Maul alive. 

    Maul never really finds himself.

    Star Warsfeatures many stories of young people growing up and finding their true destinies. Luke Skywalker set the example, but Ezra Bridger and Rey followed suit. Maul, on the other hand, is a perpetual apprentice, never able to move past the manipulative relationship Darth Sidious trapped him in. The partnership between Maul and Ezra in Rebels is as much about Maul finding a direction as it is about him giving orders to Ezra. 

    Filoni said, “Maul is waiting for someone so that he can be his own Sith Lord. Everything he does is a reflection of Palpatine. He hasn’t really done anything that’s representative of who he is.”

    Maul's search for himself leads directly to the culmination of his story...

    Maul believed in the Chosen One prophecy.

    Remember that Old Wounds comic? Rebels took Maul's final chapter in a similar direction. The specifics of the face-off between Maul and Kenobi were very different from what happened in Old Wounds: the episode "Twin Suns" is less focused on their battle and more on the long bond of enmity between Maul and Obi-Wan.

    In the poetic and melancholy “Twin Sons,” Maul expresses a dying wish to know whether Obi-Wan was on the planet to guard the Chosen One. Obi-Wan says yes, and Maul dies believing that there is still hope for the Sith to rise when the Chosen One brings “balance.” In the end, Luke Skywalker brings hope to everyone — even his master’s old enemy. 

    Game developers keep trying to make a Maul story. 

    Maul’s dramatic visual design and simple motivation have made him a popular choice Star Wars video games as well as other media. Revenge drives him, so he provides an immediate hook for a video game that could pit him against Jedi and other dark siders.

    A game that would have been a collaboration between LucasArts and Red Fly Studio was poised to tell a dark tale about Maul after Return of the Jedi, but was never completed. Concept art for Battlefront IV also features Maul, albeit a light side version who trained as a Jedi (and, since he wasn’t canonically Dathomirian at the time, didn’t have his tattoos.) 

    Now that Maul has finally died in canon, it seems like his story might have ultimately wrapped up on a message of hope. Even Maul, a tragic villain, was granted hope by a Jedi.

    Megan Crouse is a staff writer.


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    Syfy's Krypton TV series is full, and we mean FULL of love for Superman and deep DC Comics lore. Here's everything you might have missed.

    Feature Mike Cecchini
    May 24, 2018

    This article consists of nothing but Krypton spoilers. You've been warned.

    Krypton is here! I never thought I would be this happy to see a show set on the world Superman came from, 200 years before it exploded, but they really managed to put this one together. Krypton is packed with more love and care for deep (and I mean DEEP) Superman mythology than any version of the legend to make it to the screen. Since I majored in Kryptonian Studies in college (disclaimer: I did not), I am uniquely qualified to over-explain virtually every minute of this show.

    But what also helped was a visit to the set of Krypton early in the production of the first season (more details on that here), where I got to see a few details up close and personal thanks to executive producer/showrunner Cameron Welsh and the cast and crew. Even a lifelong Superman fan like me was surprised and amazed by the pieces of lore that the creators are mining. I'll be updating this every week with new info from each episode. 

    Keep in mind, the most recent episode will ALWAYS be at the top, followed by the other episodes in chronological order. And click the blue titles to get taken to full episode reviews!

    Ready? Let's go...

    Krypton Episode 1

    Krypton doesn't waste a single second getting into its Superman lore. From the opening shot, Krypton is surrounded by a ring of debris. While this certainly isn't explained as anything in particular, I have to wonder if this is the shattered Kryptonian moon of Wegthor, destroyed by a nuclear missile, and one of the reasons that Kryptonians are pretty sour on space travel.

    Even if this isn't actually intended to be Wegthor (but I bet it is, because trust me, the folks behind this show have left no Superman stone unturned in their quest to bring this show to life), having a slight ring around the planet Krypton is a nod to the earliest appearances of Superman's father, Jor-El, in the comics, where he was often depicted wearing a tunic with a ringed, Saturn-esque planet on it.

    In later years that became a stylized depiction of Krypton's red sun instead.

    But you can also see some visual nods to the 2013 Man of Steel movie. The depleted, desert look of Krypton, and that particular color scheme, looks very much like the version we got in that film. David S. Goyer, who wrote that film, is an executive producer and co-showrunner on Krypton, and he co-wrote the pilot, too. I spoke to Goyer last year about the show's development and he said he had written countless pages of notes on Kryptonian history when he started prepping for Man of Steel, and wished that segment of the movie was even longer. 

    Here's a look at the surface of Krypton from Man of Steel for comparison's sake (and yes, that is Wegthor in the upper left hand corner).

    Please note that Krypton is not a Man of Steel prequel, despite these similarities. The producers have been quite clear about that fact. But it's neat that they've gone for a similar aesthetic when it makes sense. By the way, I wrote a ton about all the weird Krypton and DC stuff in Man of Steel right here if you want to read it.

    But they've also drawn on Richard Donner's Superman (which we'll get into in a minute), tons of deep comics lore, and designed this world top to bottom on their own.

    A word of warning before we go on, Superman (1978) is my favorite movie of all time. It's the thing that got me into comics, superheroes, and science fiction in general. I'm not going to be able to shut up about it whenever we're discussing Superman in general, or this show in particular.

    Anyway...

    - In our first look at Krypton's surface, we see the city of Kandor in the foreground. There's a LOT to unpack here, too. You can also see another city way the hell off in the distance, also under a dome. So, we'll go in order of...well, we'll just go in whatever order I feel like rambling about, OK?

    This shot also reminds me of the first time we see the surface of Krypton in (you guessed it) the 1978 Superman movie. While that film depicts Krypton as an icy, frozen wasteland, its cities are kind of clustered together. And that movie's action takes place in one giant mega-city structure, but way off in the distance you can see others like it. That's what happens here, except with domes.

    But more importantly, Kandor being under a dome recalls its comic book fate. In the comics (not to mention other versions of the Superman story, including Smallville), Kandor went bye-bye long before Krypton itself did, usually because Brainiac came along and scooped it up, leaving nothing but a crater in its place. He placed it in a bottle, which isn't exactly a dome, but you get the idea. Superman eventually rescued Kandor and placed it in his fortress.

    On the other hand, the comic version of Argo City, Supergirl's hometown, had a dome over it, and that's one of the reasons it initially survived Krypton's explosion. Although the Supergirl TV series hasn't taken that route, and anyway, this show isn't set in that continuity. In any case, there's a lot of precedent for the whole "city under glass" thing we're seeing here.

    Now, as for the actual IN STORY reasons for why these cities are all under domes. An undetermined amount of time ago, the planet suffered some kind of "great cataclysm" (these are the words executive producer Cameron Welsh used to describe it when I visited the Krypton set last year). As a result, vast swaths of the planet are inhospitable to life, and that's why all the cities are under domes.

    Later in the episode, we hear the commander of Kandor's military, Primus Jayna Zod (we'll get to her in a minute), refer to other city-states. There are nine city-states on Krypton, although the show (at least for now) is primarily concerned with Kandor. I do not know if life is like this in those other city-states.

    I have to appreciate the Kryptonian architecture, though.

    Before Krypton was depicted as a crystalline ice world in Superman: The Movie, one of its key influences was the work of Alex Raymond and the original Flash Gordon comic strip. For decades, alien cities in general defaulted to a kind of art deco "Raymondism," especially Krypton. This is the first time I've really seen this attempted in a modern way in live action, and it's really cool. 

    You could totally have shown me this picture and told me "hey, check out a look at Mongo from this new Flash Gordon TV series" and I would have been really excited. But yeah, the fact that early Krypton looks the way it did for nearly the first 50 years of comics is a really nice touch.

    - Daron Vex is the chief lawgiver in Kandor, serving under the Voice of Rao. Remember how I said this show draws influences from all the different versions of Krypton of the comics and the screen? Well check out those black robes he wears when passing judgment on people...

    ...they sure remind me of the ceremonial garb that Jor-El wore when pronouncing sentence on criminals in Superman: The Movie.

    So does putting people under a spotlight when they're being judged.

    - Note that Kandor is a theocracy. That's a long-ass way from the rational, scientifically ruled Krypton we know from movies and TV shows. Something definitely has to change. The scary guy in charge is the Voice of Rao. The giant red sun that Krypton orbits is named Rao. And their monotheistic society is based around a god conveniently named Rao. So yes, Rao is a sun god. Grant Morrison will tell you that Superman is also a sun god. I'm inclined to agree with him.

    Anyway, comics and cartoon fans will recognize Superman's preferred exclamation of frustration, "Great Rao!" He was invoking Krypton's sun god. Look at it this way, if Superman could still invoke Rao, then maybe Rao isn't bad as far as gods go, it's just his teachings that have been corrupted by opportunistic assholes. Gosh, it's not like that could EVER happen on Earth, right? Nah, this is science fiction and that's just too far fetched. Right? RIGHT?!?!

    One interesting thing about the Voice of Rao and his design is how the multi-faced mask reminds me of the floating blue Science Council heads from the opening of Superman: The Movie that scared the living crap out of me as a kid.

    The lettering on his robe is the Kryptonian language. I believe there's a distinction the show makes between what modern residents speak (which is Kryptonian) and the language of the ancients that is used for ceremonial purposes, which is Kryptonese. For the record, in the comics it was always Kryptonese and not Kryptonian, but I'm not going to get too hung up on this. Unless you want me to. But I don't think you do.

    I'm sure that the significance of the blue bodysuit and red cape that we see on Val-El in the opening shot isn't lost on anybody, right? Right.

    Like most modern interpretations of the Superman legend, "it's not an 'S'" it's a Kryptonian symbol. In this case, it's the crest of the House of El. Up until 1978, it was most certainly an 'S'. That changed with Superman: The Movie (told you I would keep bringing this up), when it became a family symbol, and all Kryptonians wore them. The comics didn't adopt that interpretation for nearly another 30 years, but since then, that's how it has been.

    Note that the show has gone with a more "classic" version of the 'S' than what we got in Man of Steel. It's a little smaller, a little more restrained and traditional. 

    Anyway, Val-El sure reminds me of another member of the El family...

    Right? Anyone want to take bets on how many times I can bring up Superman: The Movie when talking about this show? Because really, I'll use any excuse to do it.

    Anyway, the REASON he reminds me of Jor-El isn't just because of the fancy 'S' logo and the white hair. But Jor-El was also a renegade who defied his planet's ruling council in the name of science. You'll recall at the start of Superman that not only does the Science Council not believe his discovery that Krypton is going to explode, they explicitly forbid him from trying to leave the planet, for fear it would cause "an atmosphere of fear and panic." So yes, space travel is long outlawed on Krypton.

    Here, Val-El dares to suggest that Krypton isn't alone in the universe, and he refused to stop his research (and potential explorations) to the contrary. You can see how his great-grandson Jor-El inherited some of those traits. And you can see how that is passed further down the line, too.

    - The platform where they perform executions in Kandor sure reminds me of where General Zod and friends were banished to the Phantom Zone in those sarcophagi that looked like penises in Man of Steel, too.

    - I really love that Val-El's final words to his grandson Seg-El are "keep believing in a better tomorrow." That is something that is very much in the spirit of Superman, and a wonderful revolutionary slogan now that I think about it.

    - OK, we should probably talk about Seg-El since he's, y'know, the star of the show, right?

    Seg-El first appeared in a great comic from 1988 called The World of Krypton, by the powerhouse creative team of Mike Mignola and John Byrne. He was already Jor-El's father at that point, and certainly not the scrappy potential revolutionary we meet here. Also, in the comics his name was spelled Seyg-El.

    The name Seg-El (or Seyg-El) is almost certainly a tribute to Superman's co-creator Jerry Siegel.

    The Seg-El of the screen reminds me a little bit more of Van-L (not a typo), Seyg's ancestor from hundreds of years earlier, who lost everything when the planet underwent a devastating civil war...triggered in part by the terrorist organization Black Zero. Uh-oh...we hear that name a lot in this pilot. - In World of Krypton, the terrorist organization Black Zero basically empties some kind of nuclear destabilizing agent into Krypton's core, which helps hasten the planet's destruction centuries later. Black Zero was also the name of Zod's gigantic war ship in Man of Steel.

    Seg is going to become a member of the Science Guild, which is the first step towards the destiny of his son, Jor-El, who becomes the greatest scientific mind on Krypton.

    - Georgina Campbell plays Lyta Zod, and yes, she is you-know-who's ancestor. Her crest here seems to be different than any Zod crest I've ever seen. In any case, those Kryptonian military guild uniforms are sharp. I love that capes are only used for ceremonial occasions, too.

    Neither Lyta Zod nor her mother, Jayna, are from the comics...but I'm going to have lots more supplementary info on both of them from my time on the set of Krypton soon enough! Stay tuned!

    - Lyta is betrothed to Dev-Em, who is a very different character from his comics counterpart.

    The Dev-Em of the comics was banished to the Phantom Zone and became an enemy of Superman down the line. The Dev-Em of the show is a little more complicated than that. I love the fact that we're getting a TV show with Dev-Em on it. That's a Phantom Zone villain who has been annoying Superman since like, 1961. He ends up taking an interesting turn, though. Dev was also a background character in Man of Steel.

    - As far as I can tell, there is no Nyssa Vex in the comics. There was certainly a Car-Vex in Man of Steel, so I have to imagine this is an ancestor. Wallis Day plays Nyssa with the icy calm of Sarah Douglas' Ursa in Superman and Superman II, although her character is a lot more complex than that. Here's a mild spoiler, folks...if you're looking for an easy villain in this pilot (other than the obvious green guy) you aren't going to find one.

    - Nyssa and Seg's trip to the Genesis Chamber in Kandor reveals a LOT about Krypton, though. Krypton has moved beyond physical reproduction and childbearing (but not recreational sex, so that's good). Remember in the opening of Man of Steel where they made a big deal out of the fact that Kal-El was born "the old-fashioned way?" 

    It's also worth noting that in the comics of the '80s/'90s, not only was natural childbirth not a thing on Krypton, neither was the fun part. Babies were made 100% in test tubes (or "birthing matrixes") and sex was considered primitive and barbaric and love itself was a revolutionary act. I probably have given this point too much thought, though.

    ANYWAY...

    There's a comics connection to this, too. This whole thing where technology tells you who your child will be, what their profession is, and how long they will live is actually right out of the vintage Krypton stories in the Superman comics. There, kids would go, get themselves scanned, and get "sorted" into different fields. The comics version of Krypton wasn't as strictly classist as the one we see on the show, but you definitely had aptitudes for science, military, politics, etc. This sequence in the Genesis Chamber feels like a nod to that.

    - The key to the Fortress is named as a sunstone crystal. Crystal tech wasn't really a thing in the old Superman comics until it became the key technology in Richard Donner's Superman movie in 1978 and its sequels. When Geoff Johns took over the Superman comics in 2006 and started incorporating more elements from the Donner films, the Kryptonian crystals came with him, and I am 99% certain that was the first time we ever heard the term "sunstone" applies to them.

    Having this crystal as the key to the Fortress is very much a nod to how Clark Kent discovers his true alien heritage in Superman: The Movie.

    - I don't need to explain the Fortress of Solitude to you, right? Of course I don't. BUT, there are some neat things contained in the Fortress.

    - Of course, you all caught the use of John Williams' famed Superman musical theme at key moments, correct? Yet another way that the greatest Superman movie of all time influenced this movie.

    - First of all, you'll see those two giant statues. In the comics, Superman keeps statues of his parents, Jor-El and Lara, holding up a giant Kryptonian globe. Here, those statues are intended to represent the first of the line of the House of El, and the globe that they're holding is a representation of Rao, Krypton's giant red sun.

    - The star map that makes up the roof of the Fortress is proof of Val-El's research and travels. He has mapped the stars, while the rest of Krypton doesn't believe in life beyond their borders.

    - The giant oval windows you see, if you look closely, are covered in luminous Kryptonian lettering. Each of those windows tells the story of a different member of the House of El, each taken from various comics. The only thing is...you can't read them unless you can read Kryptonian. But this is an actual detail that they put into that set, and it's pretty amazing.

    - But perhaps the coolest thing of all, is you can spot a weird alien plant in a glass case. That is a Black Mercy, familiar to fans of one of the greatest Superman stories ever told, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons'"For the Man Who Has Everything." I wrote about that in much more detail here, but the short version is, if you haven't read it, you should fix that immediately.

    - Adam Strange first appeared in a 1958 issue of Showcase (Barry Allen, The Flash, had arrived two years earlier in the same book). He was created by Julius Schwartz and Murphy Anderson, which is quite a creative pedigree. The Adam of the comics didn't go to Krypton, but rather the planet Rann, also via Zeta Beam, which also would zap him home at inconvenient moments when its effects wore off. 

    I wrote much more about Adam Strange here.

    Adam Strange is a Detroit Tigers fan. Geoff Johns, DC's Chief Creative Officer and who is a key influence on this show, was born in Detroit. Draw your own conclusions. The idea that Seg thinks the Tigers logo on a baseball cap is a guild logo is pretty hilarious, though.

    It's interesting that Adam Strange smokes. What is that weird fake brand that aren't Marlboro red cowboy killers he's smoking? Lamborellos? And who still buys cigarettes in a soft pack?

    - The fact that Seg thinks Adam is from "the planet Detroit" is a really subtle and clever nod to Superman II. When General Zod and his buddies arrived on Earth, they thought it was "planet Houston."

    - We don't have to mention that Superman's cape here is functioning like the family photo in Back to the Future, right? Everyone caught that? Good. Moving on...

    - When Seg is having that conversation with his parents about Adam, the cut of his shirt, and the design around the shoulders, make it look like the shirt/cape combo of Superman.

    - Seg's parents, and thus Superman's great-grandparents, are Tyr-El and Charys-El. They aren't from the comics (that I can tell, at least), but Tyr is a reasonably common Kryptonian name, so why the hell not, right? 

    - A fun detail in the background. You can see Tyr-El's medicine on a table, two gold vials with red liquid in them. Up close, those vials have Kryptonian writing on them that reads "take two drops a day, seven days a week."

    - Seg is still a long way off from being a noble superhero, but when he fights those military cadets in the alley at night, he does this jumping punch maneuver that is kind of a Superman-esque move.

    We should talk about Brainiac, right?

    - Brainiac has been menacing Superman since Action Comics #242 in 1958 (hey, the same year that Adam Strange first appeared!). His MO has always been that he steals cities from the surfaces of planets and bottles them. He's a terrific villain, but has never been done properly in live action...until now.

    The version of Brainiac that we're going to get on this show draws heavily from Geoff Johns and Gary Frank's excellent Brainiac story from 2007, which kind of evolved the character into this movie-worthy, terrifying, cybernetic horror show. It's handily one of the greatest Superman stories of the modern era, and the best of my lifetime.

    The interior of his ship that we glimpse is positively full of "bottled" alien cities, too. It...looks cooler than how it looked in his original comic appearances.

    I'm not gonna get into too much more detail for fear of spoiling future episodes, but trust me on this, Superman fans...this is the Brainiac you have always wanted to see.

    I wrote much more on Brainiac's road to the screen right here.

    - Seg's best friend Kem remains mysterious, as is his background. But if you dig way the hell back in El history, there was a Kem-L. It's probably a coincidence...right?

    - Kryptonian currency and the electronic method they use to swap it is "solar chips." You can spot faded posters and fliers in among the graffiti in Kem's bar, and that's the only place in the show where paper is ever used.

    Krypton Episode 2: The House of El

    - It's becoming pretty apparent that Adam Strange might be exaggerating his status a little bit, right? His description of how unreliable the Zeta Beam can be is completely on point, though. Funny that we also learn in this episode that he's an archaeology dropout, not a full-fledged archaeologist as his comic book counterpart is. Not exactly Indiana Jones, is he?

    - We do get the names of the Kryptonian gods Rao "defeated." One of those is definitely Cythonna, an ice goddess, and you can see how she might come into conflict with a guy like Rao in the mythology.

    - Dev-Em's history is hinted at here, and once again, all I can say is that this character is far more interesting than the one from the comics. I promise to get into that soon (complete with some quotes from Aaron Pierre!).

    - Like Dev-Em, Commander Quex-Ul is a name familiar as a Superman villain, one who came back to haunt him from the Phantom Zone. We'll just assume that is one of this poor guy's descendants because TV Quex-Ul has the shit killed out of him by Lyta Zod, in a kill moment a little reminiscent of how Superman dispatches General Zod in Man of Steel.

    - We get references to both "the spirit of Jor-Mon" and an allusion to the Kryptonian fable about Jor-Mon on the Jewel Mountains in this episode. The Jewel Mountains were a staple of Krypton comic book stories in the 1970s, although they haven't been mentioned in any recent comics. Cool to see that we're getting them here. Now when will I hear the words "Scarlet Jungle" spoken?

    - Val-El's resurrection as a hologram is another of the many Superman: The Movie influences this show displays at every turn (keep scrolling for my endless notes and love for that movie down below). I approve. I also really approve of this show's version of the House of El crest, and the tasteful way it looks in black on that awesome blue tunic Val is rocking.

    - We finally see those Fortress "windows" in action. These are the "stations of the Cross" but for the House of El. Showrunner Cameron Welsh says that yes, each and every one of those windows does indeed tell a story of a different member of the House of El, all from the comics...and all in Kryptonese.

    - Tharg-El "discovered the cure for the green death." This is a cool, kind of revealing line. In the 1986 Man of Steel by John Byrne, and the World of Krypton comic by Byrne and Mike Mignola, it turned out that Kryptonite was menacing Kryptonians long before Superman made his way to Earth. Kryptonite poisoning was a result of the radioactive stresses in the planet's core, and the resultant radiation sickness was "the green death." In many Superman comics, as he succumbs to Kryptonite poisoning, he'll start to turn green. I hope they revisit this as the show goes on.

    - Val-El describing the Phantom Zone as a kind of shortcut to explore the universe is reminiscent of how it was deployed on the Supergirl TV series. However, note that in the comics, traditionally it was Jor-El who discovered the Phantom Zone as a way to punish criminals (eventually Krypton stops believing in the death penalty...which is nice).

    Krypton Episode 3: The Rankless Initiative

    - Is that a look of recognition between Adam and Val-El in the Fortress? Adam says "wow, you look super realistic..." stops himself, and then the two share a nod. If Val had been traveling space and time before his execution, it's very possible he would have made his way to Planet Detroit at some point and found Adam Strange. 

    And there is definitely precedent for members of the El family to have visited Earth in the past. Usually, in most comics versions (and Smallville, strangely enough), it was Jor-El who traveled to Earth, and this helped him ultimately choose our world as the destination for his son. Since Krypton has already shifted the development of the Phantom Zone from Jor to Val, I don't see any reason why Val shouldn't have been the one to visit Earth, either.

    In any case, this is something to watch as the show develops.

    - I absolutely love the Rao "crucifixes" that Rohm and Ona carry. Having common, everyday religious relics around really helps flesh out the world. 

    While we're on the subject of Rao, the robed figures with High Kryptonese lettering tattooed on their faces are known as "The Word of Rao."

    - We've already discussed Black Zero in earlier episodes (keep scrolling for more details), and I don't see much in the way of DC Comics references for "Sector 19" in Kandor. But there's a hugely important name introduced in this episode...

    Jax-Ur. Believe it or not, before Superman II immortalized General Zod as the Kryptonian criminal to beat, Jax-Ur was Superman's prime Phantom Zone asshole. One of the reasons Kryptonians weren't fond of space travel in the comics was because Jax-Ur "accidentally" destroyed the moon of Wegthor (see my notes on episode 1) with a nuclear missile. The character has been around since 1961, but we'll be meeting a rather different version on Krypton later this season...

    I'm pretty sure there's a mention of things going down at "4300 hours." I have always been under the impression that a Kryptonian day is 27.4 hours (do not ask me how/why I know this), but maybe the show measures time differently.

    - Adam is offered a "Daxamite hunting blade" by one of the Rankless traders. Daxam, of course, is the home planet of Mon-El, who some of you may hate over on Supergirl. It doesn't appear that Krypton takes place in the same corner of the multiverse as Supergirl, but it's good to know there's a Daxam here, too.

    That same trader tries to pass off the Brainiac probe as coming from a "legendary Gem City." And while a gem city definitely sounds like something that would be right at home in Silver/Bronze Age Kryptonian mythology, my memory banks are drawing a blank at the moment. I am also very tired.

    - I do love the variety of styles and colors we see in all the Rankless crowd scenes in this episode. At one point, I could swear I saw someone in red trunks and a yellow belt, but I might be imagining things.

    - Adam is TOTALLY bullshitting about designing the Zeta Beam Device himself! Not only is it clearly alien technology, it kind of looks like Jack Kirby designed it. And while Kirby never really had anything at all to do with Adam Strange, I just like the design choice here.

    - Gotta love Seg's "I'm better with the truth," line. The guy has a strong sense of justice if you ask me. Might have picked that up from Commander Lyta Zod. 

    - The Rankless getting choked out by a uniformed figure who proclaims "I can't breathe" seems like an intentional echo of the death of the unarmed, non-violent, Eric Garner at the hands of a New York City police officer in 2014. 

    Also, I'm just going to quote directly from Delia Harrington's review of the episode, because she has absolutely nailed it...

    "It’s worth noting that separating out members of a specific group, under the guise of anti-terrorism actions, is the seventh stage of genocide. Furthermore, the forcible separation of children from their parents, as the Sagitarii tried to do here, is one of five components of genocide, as outlined in international human rights law."

    - As far as I know, there's no Kol-Da in the comics. Am I wrong?

    - "There is no Rohm" is this show's "There is no Dana, only Zuul." But the rest of her dialogue, especially "Krypton is worthy of collection" is absolutely chilling. Treating Brainiac like a horror movie villain is really the way to go, and I get the feeling they're going to tease this out over the rest of the season.

    - That EMP grenade that Seg uses to take out poor Rohm looks an awful lot like an Omegahedron, the maguffin of the 1984 Supergirl movie...and which has kinda popped up on the modern Supergirl TV show, too.

    Wondering why this very Brainiac-heavy episode entry is light on me actually talking about Brainiac? That's because I have a whole article about the creepy green guy right here for you instead!

    Krypton Episode 4: The Word of Rao

    There's not a whole lot of DC or Superman mythology in this episode that I haven't already covered in my breakdowns of the previous episodes (those all start below this one), but there were still a few fun things to catch...

    - It's interesting that the Nova Cycle is basically like a kind of Christmas/New Year/renewal celebration. It's even more interesting that the Voice of Rao can kind of just determine when it starts. And why shouldn't he? The guy literally decides when it is daylight and when it isn't in Kandor. It would seem that Krypton might not rotate and have a traditional day/night routine.

    - The offerings to Rao presented during the Nova Cycle festival are red and blue gems, not only recalling traditional Superman color schemes, but other kinds of Kryptonite. Red Kryptonite has weird, unpredictable effects, while Blue Kryptonite traditionally only has an effect on Bizarros. Kryptonite is sometimes portrayed as a naturally occurring element (rather than any given fragment of the planet that was irradiated by the explosion), and I wonder if there's any connection to that here.

    Or maybe they just look cool...which they do.

    - Using an insect that invades an orifice in your head as a form of torture sure does bring to mind the most disturbing scene in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, doesn't it?

    - Seg trudging off through the frozen wastes reminds me of Clark Kent in Superman II, trying to find his way back to the Fortress of Solitude after foolishly giving up his powers and getting his ass kicked by a trucker as a result.

    Krypton Episode 5: House of Zod

    - The saga of Jayna Zod and her older brother isn't from the comics, but it sure is good storytelling. I spoke with both Ann Ogbomo (Jayne) and Georgina Campbell (Lyta) about what it means to be a Zod, and you can read more about that right here.

    - Now, we've heard the legend of Jo-Mon mentioned several times on this show already, and I just want to make sure I've got it straight. Here, Jo-Mon took on all comers on the Jewel Mountains, right? But in the comics, Jo-Mon was a pacifist, who preached from up on those mountains.

    But what's really interesting to me is that the "Sword of Jo-Mon" that we see represented on that temple in the ice wastes looks like the "Sword of Superman" from one of Elliot S! Maggin's weirder Supes stories from the late Bronze Age. Just cool callbacks on top of cool callbacks.

    - I do love that instead of a "trial by fire" the Zod's are tested in a "trial by ice" basically, which sort of sets them up even further as the opposites of Superman. After all, Superman derives his very powers from the sun. 

    - Don't think Superman II fans didn't notice that "as such, you kneel to no one" line.

    Krypton keeps digging deep on Superman lore, this time for ice goddess Cythonna and her war with Rao. There's a nearly forgotten Superman one-shot called Superman: The Last God of Krypton by Walt Simonson and Greg Hildebrand that told her story, and while the way it relates to Superman himself will never make it to the screen, it's still pretty cool that they've just decided to weave it into the background of the show.

    - The Cythonnites themselves, though, are speaking some kind of Kryptonian dialect. I wonder if this is the ancient "high Kryptonese" language we've heard about, and this is why Seg doesn't understand them? Is this like the Kryptonian equivalent of Aramaic or Latin or something? I'm also really curious about what language was used as the basis for this.

    - This is the second time Seg's undershirt has recalled something connected to Superman history. In episode one, it was that wide neck with the design that felt like a cape could be attached/tucked into it. But in this episode, it has a kind of collar design that is a little reminiscent of the outfits Buster Crabbe wore as Flash Gordon. Both the Flash Gordon movie serials (and more importantly, Alex Raymond's comic strips) were enormous visual inspirations on early Superman, and this doesn't feel accidental.

    Check out what I mean...

    Flash Gordon

    It's very possible I imagined this, but I could have sworn that someone present at Lyta's trial/sentencing was wearing the symbol we see on the lead council member in Superman: The Movie.

    And what about that crazy ending, right? I explored the implications of that in detail right here.

    Krypton Episode 6: House of Zod

    - Was this episode the first time we've heard the place of judgment referred to as "the Hall of Justice?" If so...c'mon, I don't need to tell you what the Hall of Justice is, right? Also, the "blue light of judgment" kind of reminds me of these guys...

    ...but that's probably a coincidence.

    - The big reveal here is that Brainiac's arrival isn't anything abnormal. He's just here to steal Kandor, as we've always known he's destined to do. The interesting twist here is that the theft of Kandor is what ultimately destabilizes Krypton's core and causes the destruction of the planet.

    - So if Kandor is destined to be wiped out, it makes sense that the next destination is Kryptonopolis, the second most famous city in Kryptonian lore. Fun fact: all the Krypton scenes in Superman: The Movie take place in Kryptonopolis.

    - That sure is a cool looking Doomsday. Ever heard of him? Killed the shit out of Superman back in the day? This is a neat twist.

    Krypton Episode 7: Transformation

    - Holy moley, this is the version of Brainiac I've been waiting for my entire life. What a terrifying opening scene.

    - Daron-Vex is looking to escape to Argo City, birthplace of Supergirl. I hope we get to go there in future seasons.

    - The Daron-Vex/Brainiac symbiosis reminds me of whenever Brainiac teams up with Lex Luthor in the comics. You only think you're the smartest guy in the room until the goddamn Collector of Worlds shows up, and then you're just another sniveling jackass.

    - Kem delivers the punchline of an off-color joke about Rondors. The Rondor is a legendary Kryptonian beast whose horn can cure diseases. We saw them glimpsed in Man of Steel, believe it or not. Please tell me this means we'll get to see Nam-Ek on this show down the line.

    - I love that this world's equivalent of "you'll wish you were never born" is "you'll wish the Genesis Chamber never spat you out." Another nod to the fact that Kryptonians don't seem to give birth "the old-fashioned way."

    - We've been wondering when Dev-Em would make a turn towards his villainous comic book roots, and sadly, it had to come because of his possession by Brainiac. Hopefully he's not dead and there's room for redemption here, because this character is far too interesting to dismiss like this.

    - Adam Strange, during his soul-baring speech to Val-El, makes a reference to not having a power ring. While we knew there's a Justice League in whatever corner of the multiverse Krypton occupies, this is our first official confirmation of the Green Lantern Corps. I desperately hope we meet a member on this show down the line.

    - Also, Adam is closely examining the Black Mercy in the Fortress. If that thing gets out, maybe we'll see a vision of reality where Adam is living out his heroic fantasies.

    - Val's talk to Adam is kind of like the equivalent of Jonathan Kent's "you are here for a reason" speech in Superman: The Movie.

    - Adam's "piss of, Ghost" line is definitely a nod to Thor: Ragnarok. (Disclaimer: Kayti Burt caught that, not me!)

    - Note that Seg-El actually kills someone, albeit in self defense, and it probably wasn't his intention. Something tells me that this is going to stick with him for a while. This show understands Superman so well, that I think this moment will make a mark.

    - Zod never knew his father, who was apparently killed in the battle for Kandor. This raises some interesting possibilities. For one thing, it makes me question the timeline of when Brainiac is actually going to take Kandor. It seems unlikely that Lyta is currently pregnant, and that battle appeas to be looming, right? 

    But if she is...would this mean that Seg-El is potentially Zod's father? That would be too convenient, and I think a little too much of a stretch for this show. Could Dev-Em be the father? I'm not sure if Lyta and Dev were ever actually boinking, so I don't think that's the answer, either. Far more likely is that for whatever reason (and this raises the spectre of Seg again), Lyta just always lied to young Dru-Zod about his parentage.

    In unrelated news, the "there's someone I need you to meet" moment is just absolutely gold.

    - The Not The Voice of Rao's ascension to proper sun god is a great visual, but whenever anyone, for any reason, says "who wants to live forever" there's only one thing I think of...

    Krypton Episode 8: Savage Night

    - The weird hallway that we open the episode in is a rather minimalist look at the planet Rann, where Adam Strange first learned about his heroic "destiny" and the Zeta Beam technology. The two disembodied voices are Sardath and his daughter (and Adam's true love) Alanna. I get the feeling we're going to spend more time with the denizens of Rann next season.

    - Even though Adam's speech about how Superman "could have been a god" is rehearsed, it's still a wonderful encapsulation about what makes the character so special.

    - We finally meet Jax-Ur in the flesh here. I already discussed the comic book version of the character way up in the episode 3 notes. You were paying attention, right?

    - Zod's talk about how he "attempted a coup" is right in line with assorted tellings of his story. Sometimes they were for "noble" (well, by his standards) reasons, and other times, they were just because he is kind of a penis. I'm rather fond of this show's version of Zod, though, and I absolutely believe that he believes he is doing the right thing.

    Krypton Episode 9: Hope

    - I feel like the speech that Seg makes to Lyta is kind of the Seg-El equivalent of young Clark Kent's "all those powers" speech to Ma Kent in Superman: The Movie after he fails to prevent the death of Jonathan Kent.

    - I will be honest: I do not approve of the revelation that Zod is Superman's uncle. It's all to convenient and a little too Steven Moffat for my taste. On the other hand, this show is so good that I'm willing to trust where it's all going. Plus, it does add an additional element of Shakespearean tragedy to the El/Zod conflict.

    - Codex technology, eh? As you may remember, the Codex was the genetic key introduced in Man of Steel, and it drove much of that movie. That's not the only Man of Steel reference, though...

    - The House of El crest is from an ancient Kryptonian symbol for "hope." That specific meaning was first added to the crest in the Man of Steel movie. However, that in itself was influenced by (you guessed it), Superman: The Movie, which not only was the first thing to make the "S" into "not an S" but opened with a voiceover that referred to Superman as "a symbol of hope for the city of Metropolis." It's a clever nod to both elements, and I'm glad to see that Krypton is continuing the tradition here.

    - One of the code words Jax-Ur spits out is "Flamebird." Way the hell back in the '50s and '60s, when Superman and Jimmy Olsen would have adventures in the (now bottled) city of Kandor, they adopted the superhero identities of Nightwing (don't tell Dick Grayson) and Flamebird. Later on, actual Kandorians would adopt those identities. I wouldn't be surprised if we see some version of Flamebird on this show in season two.

    - When Val-El returns, we can hear John Williams' Superman theme faintly played. It's great that the show has used this, but not overused it. Always to accentuate the right moments.

    - But the biggest revelation of all...is the clones! I've discussed at length in this piece how much of this show is influenced by The World of Krypton story, and this might be the biggest one yet. Clones for the elite citizens of Krypton is one of the key things that sets things down a difficult path, so...let's keep an eye on this one.

    Krypton Episode 10: The Phantom Zone

    - Could they have possibly come up with a more satisfying visual for Brainiac? No. No they could not. His moments in this episode are positively cinematic.

    - They even tease us with one of the most iconic moments in all of Superman history: the bottling of Kandor! Of course, it doesn't end up actually happening, which is a shame, because it has never been done in live action. Still, this is exactly what it SHOULD look like!

    - Zod dangles the technology available on Cygnus 4019 in front of Brainiac. Cygnus 4019 is "Planet Salvation," a metahuman prison in our current age, and one filled with crazy technology in ANY age. I really hope we get to go there in season two.

    - I'm just going to go on record as saying that this show's visualization of the Phantom Zone is my favorite ever done in live action. 

    - The fact that one can see "possible futures" from inside the Phantom Zone feels like a nod to DC's multiverse.

    - The timeline changes, of course...and now Zod is in charge of Krypton. Years before he was supposed to be born. This in itself is interesting, BUT...

    ...it kind of hints that the kind of imperialistic Krypton that was said to be in the distant past in Man of Steel. I am sure this is intentional.

    - That Zod statue sure does remind me of a recent Superman/Booster Gold team-up story by Dan Jurgens, where the pair knew they had ended up in the wrong timeline because of a giant golden statue of General Zod.

    - The ending with Doomsday escaping is more than just foreshadowing. When Doomsday was first introduced in the comics in the months before DC's legendary Death of Superman story, he was teased in one page stingers at the end of each issue...with a mysterious figure hammering, hammering to escape a prison. This was a great live action representation of that.

    If you want more details on what really went on in that season finale, I got 'em all straight from showrunner Cam Welsh. You can read all about it right here.

    Meanwhile, Krypton Season 2 will arrive in 2019. 

    Alright, Science Council! See anything I didn't? Let me know in the comments or shout 'em at me on that Phantom Zone of futility, Twitter! (I'm just kidding, we all know Facebook is the actual Phantom Zone...that place is the worst). 


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    Everything you need to know about the sequel to Tomi Adeyemi's Children of Blood and Bone...

    NewsKayti Burt
    May 24, 2018

    We loved Children of Blood and Bone, the debut young adult novel from Tomi Adeyemi. Given that the book has been on the New York Times Young Adult Hardcover bestsellers list for 11 weeks (at the time of this writing, it is #2), we're not the only ones we feel this way.

    The Afrofuturist fantasy about Zélie, Amari, and Inan is only the first in Adeyemi's planned Legacy of Orïsha series and the sequel to Children of Blood and Bone now has a title, release date, and official synopsis. According to Macmillan, the sequel is titled Children of Virtue and Vengeance, and it will hit shelves (and our brains) on March 5th, 2019. That's not... too far away (she said, through a sob).

    While we may not have the Children of Virtue and Vengeance cover yet, Tomi Adeyemi has seen it!

    Here's the official synopsis for Children of Virtue and Vengeance...

    After battling the impossible, Zélie and Amari have finally succeeded in bringing magic back to the land of Orïsha. But the ritual was more powerful than they could’ve imagined, reigniting the powers of not only the maji, but of nobles with magic ancestry, too. 

    Now, Zélie struggles to unite the maji in an Orïsha where the enemy is just as powerful as they are. But when the monarchy and military unite to keep control of Orïsha, Zélie must fight to secure Amari's right to the throne and protect the new maji from the monarchy's wrath.

    With civil war looming on the horizon, Zélie finds herself at a breaking point: she must discover a way to bring the kingdom together or watch as Orïsha tears itself apart.

    Children of Virtue and Vengeance is the stunning sequel to Tomi Adeyemi's New York Times bestselling debut Children of Blood and Bone, the first title in her Legacy of Orïsha trilogy.

    Head over to the Den of Geek Book Club Goodreads page to chat about Children of Blood and Bone, as well as other Den of Geek Book Club picks!


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    Joaquin Phoenix, John C. Reilly and Jake Gyllenhaal are just some of the notable names in the dark western comedy, The Sisters Brothers.

    Trailers Joseph Baxter
    May 24, 2018

    The Sisters Brothers is an upcoming wacky western that, by its very title, isn’t hiding its comedic leanings. However, the movie – adapting the 2011 novel of the same name by Patrick deWitt – isn’t entirely dominated by folly, carrying a tinge of darkness, and it’s also showcasing quite the cast.

    Indeed, names like Joaquin Phoenix, John C. Reilly, Jake Gyllenhaal, Riz Ahmed, Carol Kane and Rutger Hauer embody an intriguing ensemble.

    The Sisters Brothers Trailer

    The Sisters Brothers trailer depicts the 1851 Oregon-set misadventures of the titular oxymoronically-surnamed siblings, Charlie (Phoenix) and Eli (Reilly), who are guns for hire, sent by their boss, the Commodore (Hauer), to kill eccentric inventor Herman Kermit Warm (Gyllenhaal). However, once they meet their quarry, the brothers take a shine to him, literally and figuratively. That’s because he’s developed a chemical concoction that will – in theory – cause all the gold in a nearby river to illuminate for easy picking; a fantastical idea that’s especially attractive, seeing as it’s still the time of the Gold Rush. Consequently, the Sisters brothers, at their own peril, abandon their assignment to pan for golden prospects.

    The film is the brainchild of French filmmaker Jacques Audiard (Dheepan, Rust and Bone), who occupied the director’s chair working off a script he co-wrote with Thomas Bidegain (coincidentally, the director of 2015’s Les Cowboys, in which John C. Reilly actually appeared).

    Comedy star and Wreck-It Ralph voicer, John C. Reilly, also happened to be a major force in the film’s genesis, since he acquired the film rights way back in 2011, with intent to play one of the Sister brother, and, several years later, is credited as a producer on the film.

    For the three-time-Oscar-nominated headliner Joaquin Phoenix, The Sisters Brothers will arrive as a rare comedic addition to a film resume that’s predominantly dramatic in nature. However, he’ll next be seen in a July-scheduled comedy-drama, reunited with director Gus Van Sant, called Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, and he’s eying a role as the Joker in director Todd Phillips’s upcoming origin movie focused on the iconic DC Comics Batman villain.

    The Sisters Brothers Release Date

    The Sisters Brothers hasn’t set a specific release date. However, it is teasing a premiere sometime this fall.


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    Deadpool and Spider-Man have a long history, and Wade has been getting on Peter's nerves for years.

    FeatureGavin Jasper
    May 25, 2018

    Spider-Man and Deadpool are like two sides of the same coin. Their outfits look a lot alike, they have similar builds, they both like to joke endlessly as a front to hide their personal issues, etc.

    Plus they both have a tendency to annoy Wolverine on a regular basis.

    But for a while, they weren't really compatible outside of that. Spider-Man has upstanding morals and despite living a tragic and surreal lifestyle as a superhero, he at least juggles it with something resembling a normal life. Deadpool is stuck in his tragic and surreal lifestyle with no real normalcy mixed in. He’s also responsible for a kill count that’s somewhere in the triple digits (at least) and that is NOT something Spider-Man’s cool with.

    Peter Parker is simply a grounded man and is constantly taken out of his comfort zone when dealing with a guy more out there and sillier than him with less of a grasp on what it means to be a good human being.

    It used to be that Deadpool sharing the page with Spider-Man was a rarity as making jokes about Deadpool’s similarities seemed to be a better fit, and boy, did we get a lot of those. Still, over the years, the two have crossed paths more and more and only recently have we reached the point where Marvel’s decided they should probably have an actual relationship for once. Something that goes farther than, “Spider-Man would rather team up with anybody else right now. Even D-Man.”

    Here are their various fights and team-ups throughout the years.

    WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT COINCIDENCE

    DEADPOOL V.1 #11

    Joe Kelly and Pete Woods, 1997

    Not only is this the earliest meeting between the two, but it’s also one of the best Deadpoolissues of all time. After fighting with the Great Lakes Avengers (temporarily calling themselves “The Lightning Rods” to piggyback on the Thunderbolts’ success), Deadpool and his captive mother figure Blind Al accidentally get sent back in time. They end up in a 1960s Amazing Spider-Man issue, which I guess means ten years earlier in comic book time. Specifically, it’s Amazing Spider-Man #47, where Spider-Man fought Kraven the Hunter and saved the life of Norman Osborn.

    Using an image inducer, Deadpool is able to pretend to be Peter Parker while he gets Blind Al to pass as Aunt May. The actual interaction between the two characters is minimal and is mainly just Wade getting Peter out of the picture. The rest of the issue is all about Deadpool fighting Kraven and acting completely horrified at the genetic weirdness of Harry Osborn and his father’s hair style.

    DEADPOOL ALMOST DESTROYS THE MARVEL UNIVERSE

    J. Calafiore, circa 2000

    Artist J. Calafiore was tasked with doing a fill-in comic for Deadpool’s first ongoing, just in case one of the regular issues was hit with delays. While it got as far as being inked, the one-shot was deemed unnecessary and outdated after a while and never got released or even finished. Calafiore ended up posting the pages online along with a Word document of the dialogue and narration. Someone added word bubbles to make it a bit easier to read and it’s been floating around the internet for years.

    The issue is about Deadpool accidentally causing an alien invasion and needing to gather Earth’s heroes to help defend New York City. While they’re successful, he spends the pages annoying the likes of the Avengers, Thunderbolts, Captain Marvel (Genis Vell), and so on. Plus the book is told in reverse order for very little reason.

    Deadpool briefly comes across Spider-Man in the melee and the two don’t appear to step on each other’s toes. Deadpool asks about his doctor, which is explained at the end of the book. Since the end of the book is the beginning of the story because of the Memento storytelling, Deadpool complains about catching a cold and wonders aloud where someone like Spider-Man goes when he gets sick.

    EXILES: ANOTHER ROOSTER IN THE HENHOUSE

    EXILES #12-13

    Judd Winick and Mike McKone, 2002

    Exiles, the comic about a bunch of Marvel characters from alternate realities teaming up and fixing other realities, featured a more violent offshoot “Weapon X” team. Briefly, this team included Deadpool and the Spider. Deadpool didn’t appear to be too different from the mainstream one we all know and love, but the Spider is certainly unique. He’s Peter Parker having bonded to the Carnage symbiote.

    Even though they are teammates, the two don’t really interact in any notable way. Then they’re shortly killed off, so that’s that.

    AN AGE OF APOCALYPSE

    CABLE/DEADPOOL #15

    Fabian Nicieza and Patrick Zircher, 2005

    Cable has gone missing from reality and due to Deadpool’s biological link to him (long story), he’s used as a conduit to find him. Joined with Cannonball and Siryn, Deadpool goes from world to world in search of his on-again/off-again pouch-buddy. In this issue, the three of them cross paths with 3/4 of the Four Horsemen in a world where Apocalypse successfully conquered the planet.

    The Horsemen include Archangel as Death, Blob as Famine, and a mutated Spider-Man as Pestilence. Although Cannonball is able to save Deadpool and the good guys win the battle, Cannonball’s still rather taken aback by the idea that Spider-Man of all people could be corrupted as Apocalypse’s puppet.

    Things get more horrifying for the trio when Cable appears, revealing that he’s this world’s Horseman of War...

    STICKY SITUATIONS

    CABLE/DEADPOOL #24

    Fabian Nicieza and Patrick Zircher, 2006

    Here’s the first meaningful crossover between our two heroes. In a story that’s way too complicated to explain because it’s Fabian Nicieza and that’s his thing, Deadpool is looking for a Daily Bugle reporter who happens to be driving with Peter Parker on a bridge. Not really thinking about his actions, Deadpool tears Parker from the car and flings him off the bridge, realizing a moment later that – whoops – he probably just killed that innocent man.

    Naturally, Spider-Man shows up and fighting happens. What’s great is that Deadpool keeps referring to Spider-Man’s “Tobey Maguire teary doe eyes,” although Spidey has no idea what he’s talking about.

    Cable watches the whole thing go down from afar (via staring into the internet, basically. It’s complicated) and doesn’t like the fact that Deadpool appears to be using innocent people as human shields. Without Deadpool knowing, Cable helps diffuse the situation and Spider-Man is practically forced to let Deadpool go.

    He’s pretty steamed about it too, since Deadpool claims he knew Spider-Man was around to rescue Parker from the fall.

    ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN: DEADPOOL

    ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #91-94

    Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley, 2006

    So even though Deadpool has rarely ever crossed paths with Spider-Man by this point, his only real Ultimate Marvel appearance is in the pages of Spider-Man’s book. To be fair, it is mainly because at this point in Ultimate Spider-Man’s continuity, Peter Parker is dating Kitty Pryde and therefore he gets roped in with one of the X-Men’s adventures.

    Said adventure involves the team and Spider-Man being kidnapped by the Reavers and placed on the island Krakoa, where they’re to be hunted down with their deaths broadcast across the internet. The Reavers are anti-mutant cyborgs who had their bodies augmented to make them a match for the X-Men. Their leader is Deadpool, otherwise known as Sgt. Wadey Wilson. While he’s not as goofy as his regular self, he does have some sick sense of humor and is even more hideous.

    Spider-Man unmasks him to reveal a fleshless face covered in a clear, plastic dome. Thanks to Kitty, Deadpool’s body is blown up, but the epilogue reveals that he’s still in one piece. Not that the comic would ever follow up on that.

    SYMBIOSIS MITOSIS

    CABLE/DEADPOOL #50

    Fabian Nicieza and Reilly Brown, 2008

    Cable had been written off into his own solo series where he traveled through the future, so after a while they kind of had to put an end to the Cable/Deadpool team-up series. The final arc involves a bunch of time travel and in the final issue, Deadpool accidentally brings a bunch of dinosaurs with him into New York City. That’s bad enough on its own, but this is during the time when Bendis’ Avengers comics are dealing with a symbiote outbreak.

    Now we have symbiote dinosaurs. Yikes.

    Immediately, Spider-Man gets involved and blames this on Deadpool, although he’s only half right. The two work together briefly as Spider-Man gives the lowdown on how to hurt the creatures, since symbiotes are his thing. Spider-Man then swings off and tells Deadpool to stay out of trouble or else.

    Deadpool does eventually get rid of the dinosaurs and momentarily gains the respect of the superheroes, but Spider-Man’s not around to react to that.

    DEADPOOL: SUICIDE KINGS #3-5

    Mike Benson and Carlo Barberi, 2009

    Suicide Kingsis a miniseries about Tombstone framing Deadpool for an act of terrorism. That causes Deadpool to be hunted down by vigilantes and he crosses paths with Daredevil, the Punisher, and eventually Spider-Man. Prior to their current series, it's easily the most true-blue Spider-Man/Deadpool team-up in their history, since there’s very little conflict.

    Well, other than the two spending their energy making fun of each other’s lame rogues galleries to the point that Daredevil loses his patience and walks away.

    The two red-clad heroes work together against the Wrecking Crew and stay on the same page long enough for the Punisher to appear and help tip the scales. This is during the unique time in the character’s history where Frank has an armory of random superhero/villain gear at his disposal, so he freaks Spider-Man and Deadpool out quite a bit by being armed with a Goblin Glider, Klaw’s sound gun hand, and Unicorn’s head thingy.

    THIS MAN, THIS [EXPLETIVE DELETED]

    AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #611

    Joe Kelly and Eric Canate, 2010

    In an issue that should feel like a prelude to the current team-up series, Joe Kelly has Deadpool appear in Spider-Man’s comic to pester him as part of his mercenary job. After Deadpool assists with helping Spider-Man take down the criminally-underused Lady Stilt Man, he geeks out and asks him for an autograph. Spider-Man gives in, only to discover that the pen is a bomb.

    The two have a pretty great fight scene that leads to an even better “yo mama” joke-off in front of an audience of excited teens. It’s one of the few times when Spider-Man’s sense of humor remains intact when faced with Deadpool, as he’s too often shuffled into the role of straight man. Right as Deadpool is about to let loose with some kind of atomic mama joke that will turn any victim suicidal, he realizes that he has distracted Spider-Man for as long as his contract states and moves on.

    Though before leaving, he does warn Spider-Man about how he’s going to take him down in Deadpool #19...

    WHATEVER A SPIDER CAN

    DEADPOOL V.2 #19-21

    Daniel Way and Carlo Barberi, 2010

    “Spidey! What up, baby boy? I haven’t seen you since Amazing Spider-Man #611!”

    In the last leg of Daniel Way’s Deadpoolrun before it became unreadable, Deadpool visits New York City to find Spider-Man because he wants his help in becoming a real-deal superhero. Coincidentally, Way’s pet character Hit-Monkey starts pulling off hits on the corrupt and Spider-Man initially blames Deadpool. Once it becomes apparent what’s really going on, Spider-Man figures out the real reason Hit-Monkey’s in town is to eliminate Deadpool.

    Spider-Man becomes increasingly frustrated with having to work alongside Deadpool, especially when he could just let Hit-Monkey shoot him to oblivion, heal, and move on with his life. Deadpool refuses because that would fucking hurt like hell! Regardless, Deadpool still gets shot in the head and then tossed in Rikers until Spider-Man breaks him out and tells him to get the hell out of his city.

    SPIDER-MAN: SHATTERED DIMENSIONS

    Beenox and Activision, 2010

    The video game Shattered Dimensions tells the story of four different Spider-Men working together across the multiverse. You have the regular 616 Spider-Man (known as Amazing Spider-Man), Spider-Man Noir, Spider-Man 2099, and Ultimate Spider-Man. To keep Ultimate Spider-Man’s play-style different from his mainstream counterpart, he’s given the Venom symbiote, albeit with full control over his facilities.

    Ultimate Deadpool appears in that section of the game, now running his own death sport reality show called Pain Factor. Other than his appearance and the mention that he’s somehow not dead from his original appearance, there’s not much connection between video game Ultimate Deadpool and the comic version. He’s honestly just the regular version of Deadpool only more antagonizing. Nolan North – the guy who voices Deadpool 90% of the time in anything where Deadpool talks – doesn’t really differentiate him in any way.

    Not that there’s much to be done with the original Ultimate Spider-Manversion of the character. His beef and existence were about the X-Men and mutant race with Spider-Man being a bystander. Writing him more in-character would probably have stuck out like a sore thumb.

    MARVEL UNIVERSE VS. THE PUNISHER #1-4

    Jonathan Maberry and Goran Parlov, 2010

    The Marvel Universe Versus trilogy is an underrated series of stories that improves on the concepts introduced by Marvel Zombies and its many sequels...though the third installment is kind of pointless and lame. In this initial story, we see a world where people have been randomly and gradually reduced to cannibalistic savages. Frank Castle, the man responsible for the apocalypse, is the only one completely immune and chooses to wage war on the former heroes.

    While most are primal shells of their former selves, Deadpool seems to be almost like his usual self outside of being even more raving than ever. Frank has killed him many times, but no matter what he tries, no matter how thorough, Wade always comes back.

    Spider-Man is Patient Zero in this world, having been the first known mutation. As chaos has reigned supreme and the world has fallen apart, the infected have taken to forming tribes. Spider-Man is the alpha and Deadpool is one of his top flunkies. The fact that Deadpool can speak relatively normal makes him a perfect messenger, even if Frank tends to open fire on him on a regular basis.

    MARVEL VS. CAPCOM 3: FATE OF TWO WORLDS

    Capcom, 2011

    The fighting game Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and its update Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 feature both Spider-Man and Deadpool. While simply having them in the same game shouldn’t be enough to give it an entry on this list, it is worth noting the specific interactions they have. The fighters in the game (at least those who can talk) have a collection of audio quotes for pre-fight intros, audio quotes for post-fight wins, and a few lines of text after that. There are tons of instances where characters will say certain things based on their partners or opponents, such as Captain America bringing up Civil War to Iron Man or having Akuma tell Thor that it’s fun to kill a god.

    When Spider-Man defeats Deadpool, his victory text states: “Hey, Mister WIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILLLLLL-SON! ...You suck.”

    When Deadpool is about to fight Spider-Man: “Gonna rough you up like a Broadway musical!”

    When Deadpool defeats Spider-Man, he audibly says: “Aw, that was too easy! Maybe it would have helped if you’d turned off the dark! Hahaha!”

    And in his post-fight text, he references the similarities between Spider-Man and Albert Wesker’s super attacks with: “Hey, did you know that Wesker guy stole your Maximum Spider move? You were doing that back in Marvel Super Heroes! So... Gonna go kick his ass? Can I watch?”

    IDENTITY WARS

    SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #38, DEADPOOL ANNUAL #1, INCREDIBLE HULK ANNUAL #1

    John Layman, Lee Garbett, Juan Doe, and Al Barrionuevo, 2011

    This neat, under-the-radar crossover takes place over the course of three annuals and tells the tale of a group of bad guys who try to ransack a dimensional portal being worked on at Horizon Labs. Deadpool is brought in to help, but the criminals betray him. Meanwhile, Bruce Banner is working at the lab, so we end up having Hulk, Spider-Man, and Deadpool all sucked through the portal into an alternate reality.

    Our three heroes end up meeting their alternate selves and have to clean up their messes. Spider-Man comes across The Amazing Spider, whose life appears to not only be perfect by Peter Parker standards, but he’s also Superman level and is feared by all criminals. Too bad he gets that power because he and Uncle Ben steal Spider-Men away from other worlds and suck their powers out, killing them.

    Then there’s Deadpool, who meets his non-healing counterpart, the green-and-black-wearing mercenary, Deathwish. Only it turns out Deathwish is Victor Von Doom. In this reality, Reed Richards experimented on Wade Wilson’s tumor and rather than just get a healing factor, it also enhanced his intelligence and turned him into the armored dictator Deathmask.

    As for Hulk, Bruce Banner became Sorcerer Supreme and was able to exorcise the Hulk into Hell. Mephisto eventually sends the beast back, more vicious than ever.

    The three do indeed not only thwart their corrupt doppelgangers, but leave the world in a better place than when they found it. Plus Deadpool takes all of Deathmask’s occult spell books and draws mustaches and giant wangs on all the demons.

    WHAT IF VENOM POSSESSED DEADPOOL?

    Rick Remender and Shawn Moll, 2011

    Originally, this story appeared fragmented through a handful of What If issues one year, but it was later released as a complete one-shot.

    It’s a strange beast that takes place across various decades. In the '80s, Deadpool is hired by Galactus to kill the Beyonder, but Deadpool foregoes it to become his BFF instead. The two enjoy champagne and women, but their flying limo is soon accosted by Spider-Man, angry about his living black costume and blaming the Beyonder for it.

    The driver, musician “Bobby Oceanic,” blasts Spider-Man out of the car and to his death. The symbiote then jumps onto Deadpool, possesses his '80s jheri curl and then things get really weird.

    THE DEADPOOL KILLOGY

    DEADPOOL KILLS THE MARVEL UNIVERSE #2, DEADPOOL KILLUSTRATED #1

    Cullen Bunn, Dalibor Talajic, and Matteo Lolli, 2012

    The Deadpool Killogy is a trilogy of stories by Cullen Bunn based on an alternate reality Deadpool – one who looks like he’s wearing a red diaper – being driven nihilistic from becoming aware of being a fictional character. In Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe, he wipes out all the heroes and villains. In Killustrated, he tries to destroy the original literary archetypes in order to destroy fiction at its source. Then in Deadpool Kills Deadpool, the mainstream Earth 616 Deadpool finds himself targeted and tries to save the multiverse from his evil self.

    The second issue of the first series begins with Spider-Man clowning Deadpool pretty hard, all while admitting that he used to find him funny. Letting his guard down, Spider-Man allows himself to be shot in the head at point-blank range. Deadpool moves on to other victims, namely the Avengers.

    The opening pages of Killustratedshow that Deadpool has killed the heroes of various worlds, including countless Spider-Men. There’s some kind of cosmic failsafe that keeps him from being able to kill the same character the same way twice, so we see him setting one Spider-Man on fire, then later strangling another Spider-Man to death.

    AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #12-13

    Kevin Shinick and Aaron Kuder, 2012

    In this two-parter from Spider-Man’s short-lived, extra ongoing, Deadpool enters Peter’s mind to prevent him from being taken over by an outside threat. The first issue is a rather bizarre take on Inceptionwhere Deadpool casually shoots up the bullies at Peter’s high school while an underwear-clad Peter keeps yelling at him to stop.

    As it turns out, Deadpool is playing Spider-Man as part of a plot with the Hypno Hustler. Deadpool has a deal where the Hustler will be able to hypnotize Deadpool’s heart into no longer beating, thereby giving him the sweet release of death. Deadpool then has a change of heart when he’s tasked with actively killing Spider-Man, though the webbed one isn’t exactly as forgiving as Wade would have hoped.

    Though at least the story gives us a quick look at Spider-Ham’s mercenary counterpart Deadpork!

    MARVEL THEN!

    DEADPOOL V.3 #7

    Gerry Duggan, Brian Posehn, and Scott Koblish, 2013

    Every now and then, the Duggan/Posehn run of Deadpoolwould go back in time to an earlier era of Marvel Comics. These “lost issues” began with a trip to 1980s Marvel, based around Tony Stark’s bout with alcoholism. The opening moments feature Peter Parker being ignored by his Bugle bosses and then being disgusted with Flash Thompson stealing a handicap spot.

    “Pfft. I’m only going to be a few minutes. Besides, why should the legless people get all the good spots?”

    Deadpool, wearing his ridiculous, yet accurate, '80s superhero threads, steals Flash’s car and drives off. At first, Peter is okay with letting him go, but then has the realization that by letting the thief go, Uncle Ben is somehow going to get shot a second time.

    I’ve mentioned that Duggan/Posehn is the best Deadpoolrun ever, right? Good!

    THE OTHER ULTIMATE DEADPOOL

    ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN SEASON 2, EPISODE 16

    Roy Burdine, Man of Action, and Ed Valentine, 2013

    Otherwise known as “They Canceled Spectacular Spider-Man for This Crap?!?” the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series is a more cartoony take on Spidey, basing it on his teenage years with constant Family Guycutaways and a status quo where he and his fellow young heroes are being trained by SHIELD. The episode “Ultimate Deadpool” features Deadpool, who is surprisingly okay to mention by name.

    No, really. Saying “dead” is a big no-no on these shows, usually. Hell, Deadpool’s shown up in some Marvel all-ages comics and they weren’t allowed to say his name.

    Deadpool is played off as basically being the dark Spider-Man. And not in the cool Venom way. More that Deadpool was in Spider-Man’s position as a superhero cadet, but lost interest and went off to become a mercenary. The two of them work together at first, trying to hunt down Taskmaster, but – surprise, surprise – Deadpool betrays Spider-Man in the name of the almighty dollar and they have a wacky and rather unfunny fight.

    The comic tie-in series Ultimate Spider-Man: Web-Warriorshas an issue based on it, but it’s really the same exact story retold with the same art. Nothing worth talking about.

    THE INFERIOR DEADPOOL

    DEADPOOL V.3 #10

    Gerry Duggan, Brian Posehn, and Mike Hawthorne, 2013

    That aforementioned flashback issue laid the seeds for a story in the present where Deadpool would take on a high-ranking demon from Hell. In one of the issues, he goes after a crime lord who sold his soul to said demon in order to get some precognition powers. Deadpool stumbles into a team-up with Spider-Man, only it’s the infamous era of Superior Spider-Man. It’s not the hero Deadpool knows, but rather Doctor Octopus inhabiting Peter Parker’s body.

    Deadpool’s target, Daniel Gump, has hired a group of hired guns to stop the red-clad duo. Outside of Batroc and Taskmaster (who throws in the towel as his heart isn’t into it), it isn’t the most impressive roster. In fact, fittingly enough, Lady Stilt Man shows up for another Spider-Man/Deadpool fight!

    While Spider-Man is usually very annoyed by Deadpool’s antics, the Ock-minded version hates him even more. Especially when Deadpool starts ranting about how Spider-Man has the worst villains, such as that Elton John lookalike Doc Ock. Deadpool briefly steals a webshooter and succeeds in murdering Gump, but Spider-Man gets him back by punching him out and webbing him up for the police.

    SPIDEYPOOL

    DEADPOOL ANNUAL #2

    Christopher Hastings and Jacopo Camagni, 2014

    Oh man, this issue is so much fun. Fixed from the whole Doc Ock situation, Spider-Man’s been driven insane due to Chameleon constantly stalking and stabbing him. It’s enough that when Deadpool checks in on him, Spider-Man’s acting like a paranoid nutcase. The Chameleon strikes again and although Deadpool is able to ward him off, Spider-Man’s completely knocked out from a syringe to the neck.

    Deadpool figures he’ll beat the Chameleon at his own game via switching costumes with Spider-Man. What follows is an enjoyable romp where Deadpool goes around pretending to be Spider-Man, totally excited about using webbing and fighting dumb, animal-themed villains.

    By the time the Chameleon shows up to stab some more, Spider-Man-dressed-as-Deadpool arrives, well-rested, and helps out his fellow chatterbox. The two end up coming off as allies by the end of the story, though Spider-Man’s rather annoyed that Deadpool’s hour or so in the webbed tights somehow did wonders for his PR.

    THE MONK WITH A MOUTH

    AVENGERS & X-MEN: AXIS #7

    Rick Remender and Adam Kubert, 2014

    Axiswas a big mess of a story. When a Carnage miniseries is somehow the highlight of your big comic event, you know you messed up. The meat of it had to do with a bunch of heroes and villains becoming morally “inverted,” an idea that works better with DC’s Crime Syndicate stuff than it does in the Marvel Universe where nearly everyone is shades of gray as is. In other words, the good guys are bad and the bad guys are good.

    Deadpool goes under a personality change where he’s still a good guy, but he’s more zen and less stabby. Spider-Man wasn’t in the area when the inversion spell happened, so he’s his usual friendly neighborhood self. As for others, the X-Men – led by Deadpool’s son figure (or whatever the opposite of “father figure” is called) Evan Sabahnur – are going to wipe out humankind because that’s now their thing.

    While the heroes and inverted-villains are distracting the X-Men outside, Spider-Man and Deadpool sneak into Evan/Apocalypse’s complex. Remender writes Inverted Deadpool differently from how he’s portrayed in his main book, making him just as wacky as his normal self. Despite not being a murder-happy psycho, Deadpool’s antics still find ways to bemuse Spider-Man.

    The two take on Inverted Evan themselves and get split up in the melee as Spider-Man teams up with Inverted Carnage and Deadpool gets literally torn to pieces by Evan.

    But you know Wade. It’s only a minor setback.

    THE ROAST OF DEADPOOL

    DEADPOOL V.3 #45

    Gerry Duggan, Brian Posehn, and Scott Koblish, 2015

    Fairly recently, there was that big fake-out “Death of Deadpool” issue that ended the previous Deadpoolvolume. In the main story, Deadpool died via the Secret Wars final incursion after making peace with the fact that he has loved ones who care for him and he can actually be happy. There’s a series of backup stories, including one where Deadpool steals the Infinity Gauntlet from Thanos and uses it to hold his own roast in his honor with an audience of heroes and villains from beyond time and space.

    This includes Spider-Man as one of the main presenters, who proceeds to completely bomb. Later, Spider-Man joins in with everyone else, laughing uncontrollably at Deadpool’s ending monologue because he’s literally forcing them to with the Gauntlet. Deadpool then freezes time and explains his bitterness to the reader, blaming us as the source of his constant suffering. The reason he never explains the fourth wall to his fellow heroes is because he simply doesn’t want to ruin their lives.

    DEADPOOL’S SECRET SECRET WARS #1-4

    Cullen Bunn and Matteo Lolli, 2015

    Even though Deadpool was created in 1991, did you know that he was involved in the original Secret Wars? The one from the mid-80s? Yeah, he was there! We just don’t remember it because of cosmic magic and a disastrous fling with Janet Van Dyne.

    Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars is a retelling of the classic crossover event, only with Deadpool there helping the good guys. That leads to him getting up in Spider-Man’s business twice. One is the scene where Spider-Man is able to singlehandedly fight off the entire X-Men by himself because the '80s was a very different time. Deadpool gives chase and takes him on one-on-one, but he doesn’t do much better than the mutants.

    The other bit, which is way funnier, has Deadpool come across the machine that produces the black alien costume. Deadpool wears it for a moment and digs it, but then realizes that it’s a living being trying to become one with him and the experience is like torture for the symbiote. He puts it back and wonders if connecting with his mind damaged the creature in any way. As he’s leaving, he passes Spider-Man and gives him directions to the machine, telling him that “black is slimming.”

    AN IMPERFECT UNION

    UNCANNY AVENGERS #1

    Gerry Duggan and Ryan Stegman, 2015

    After the events of the other, more modern Secret Wars story, a couple new Avengers teams were created. One of those teams is Steve Rogers’ Unity Team, yet another attempt at putting humans, mutants, and now Inhumans on the same side. This has introduced conflict twice over. Not only are mutants and Inhumans not on the best of terms, causing lots of friction between Rogue and Synapse, but there’s also the big deal that Deadpool’s hanging around.

    Not only is Deadpool an Avenger, but his celebrity status and royalty earnings are currently funding the team. This doesn’t sit well with Rogue and Spider-Man. ESPECIALLY Spider-Man. As the first issue begins, they’ve been a team for months, but a fight against the Super-Adaptoid ends up being the last straw. Spider-Man can’t deal with Deadpool’s annoying and dangerous behavior, and quits the team.

    Well, the joke’s on him. He’s going to be stuck in a comic with Deadpool whether he likes it or not!

    BACK IN BLACK

    Deadpool: Back in Black #5

    Cullen Bunn and Salva Espin, 2016

    Hey, remember when I was talking about Deadpool's Secret Secret Wars a few entries ago? Well, this here's the sequel. As it turns out, prior to Eddie Brock, the rejected goop that used to be Spider-Man's black alien costume went back to using Deadpool as a host. The miniseries shows Deadpool going up against various 80s-themed heroes and villains. While the symbiote is mostly helpful, it does have its drawbacks, such as its rage and hunger.

    A group of aliens hunt down the costume and end up hunting down Spider-Man. Although Deadpool saves the unconscious Spider-Man's life, the symbiote attempts to take over and kill the prone hero. Deadpool ends up putting his foot down and briefly prevents the creature from taking its violent revenge on Spider-Man. The two go their separate ways and Deadpool puts the wheels in motion that cause Eddie Brock to enter the church and become the host for Venom.

    SECOND VERSE, SAME AS THE FIRST

    Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe Again #2

    Cullen Bunn and Dalibor Talajic, 2017

    Once again, Bunn does a story about Deadpool killing all the heroes and villains singlehandedly. This time, the story is a lot better than, "Deadpool notices the fourth wall and becomes an extreme nihilist." Deadpool is mentally messed with by the villains of the world, led by Red Skull. Thinking he's having wacky adventures, Deadpool is actually killing his allies with only the occasional moment of lucidity breaking through. All he can do is hope that someone can stop him.

    As a callback to Back in Black, Deadpool hunts down Eddie Brock and kills him with lots of airhorns and heavy artillery. He proceeds to wear the symbiote as he hunts down and overpowers Spider-Man. In Deadpool's head, he and Spider-Man are in a Hostess Fruit Pies ad, being challenged in an eating contest by the Blob. The symbiote, on the other hand, knows the truth and devours Spider-Man's brains. Briefly remembering their old history and friendship, Deadpool spares the costume and tells it to leave him be.

    Deadpool spends the rest of the issue eliminating the other spider heroes such as Spider-Woman, Miles, and Spider-Man 2099.

    SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL

    Spider-Man/Deadpool #1-22

    Joe Kelly, Ed McGuiness, and various fill-in teams, 2016-2017

    As part of the fall-out of both being on the same Avengers team, Deadpool pesters Spider-Man and tries to win him over by showing that he really does need a mentor in being a better person. Over time, Spider-Man does see Wade for his positives, but he's still regularly annoyed with his antics and they have a brief falling out based on Deadpool temporarily murdering Spider-Man's "boss" Peter Parker for supposedly being an evil villain.

    Broken up by various one-shot fill-ins (including the two of them helping out on a Deadpool movie, meeting up in the 1970s, teaming up with Penn and Teller, and saving Christmas from the god Saturn), the main story has to do with a doomed mastermind named Patient Zero, who gets killed by his creation before he can explain who he is and why he blames Deadpool and Peter Parker for his problems. His creation is Itsy Bitsy, a half-woman/half-spider with the powers and abilities of Spider-Man and Deadpool.

    Longtime readers of Deadpool shouldn't have too hard a time figuring out who Patient Zero truly is. Especially when you focus on the Joe Kelly aspect. But who he's looking for? Well, you'll have to think a lot bigger.

    The main story ends in the eighteenth issue, followed by more fill-in issues.

    SPIDER-MAN VS. DEADPOOL

    Spider-Man vs. Deadpool #23-34

    Robbie Thompson, Chris Bachalo, Scott Hepburn, Elmo Bondoc, Matt Horak, 2017-2018

    In Deadpool's main book, things have been falling to pieces thanks in part to him murdering Agent Phil Coulson. Long story. While the main series has the general fallout to that, his Spider-Man team-up series gets rebranded as Spider-Man vs. Deadpool to play up how Spider-Man really wants to bring his quasi-friend to justice. Regardless, the two end up on the same side again and again in a storyline revolving around an army of LMD androids while the Chameleon acts like a jerk.

    The book constantly bounces back and forth to show us years into the future, where our heroes have become elderly and put on their costumes one last time to fight an evil Deadpool doppelganger. Lots of crazy stuff, including the Fantastic Four of the future (Venom Vision?!).

    It really is fascinating to see the history between Spider-Man and Deadpool. It used to be a rare novelty that they’d usually shy away from. Then it became a semi-regular thing. Now we’re at the point where they’ve interacted enough and Deadpool’s become important enough in the grand scheme of things that they might as well make money off of it. Who knows where this bromance will go next?

    Gavin Jasper is still waiting for Lady Stilt Man to show up in the new series. Follow him on Twitter!


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    A Boba Fett movie is happening! It's time to take a look back at the best Star Wars bounty hunter stories!

    Feature Marc Buxton
    May 25, 2018

    With a Boba Fett movie now confirmed and coming from Logan director James Mangold, bounty hunters -- the scum of the galaxy -- are about to return to the forefront of the Star Wars universe. Certainly, it's been a long time coming for Boba Fett, who has never gotten his due on the big screen. 

    Besides Boba Fett, the other intergalactic scum only had a few seconds of screen time in The Empire Strikes Back, but those brief ticks of a clock were unforgettable. The image of a few alien toughs, some truly salty looking armored humans, and even a few droids fueled the imaginations of Star Wars fans for generations. So we thought we’d take this opportunity to spotlight some of the coolest Expanded Universe tales featuring Dengar, IG-88, Boba Fett, Bossk, Zuckuss, and 4-LOM.

    Now remember, most of these stories were wiped out of continuity when Disney took over the galaxy far, far away, but that doesn’t make them any less readable and awesome. And yeah, we may even have a few that are part of the current Star Wars canon.

    We promise there will be no disintegrations as we turn back time and examine the coolest bounty hunter stories of the Star Wars galaxy:

    Dengar

    Ah Dengar, we know kids of the 80s probably referred to you as Diaper Head, but you are still badass. Dengar was front and center when Vader gave the bounty hunters their marching orders and could also be seen chilling out in Jabba’s Palace in Return of the Jedi. Dengar was played by Morris Bush, an actor who also appeared in Hammer’s Scars of Dracula (1970), the Christopher Lee pot boiler Creeping Flesh (1973), and the bizarre Ringo Starr musical comedy Son of Dracula (1974). Interestingly enough, Bush worked as a stand in for David Prowse in Star Wars (1977). According to Prowse, that is Bush’s foot you can see kicking Obi-Wan’s cape after Luke’s mentor is struck down by the Dark Lord of the Sith.

    But where can you read about ‘ol Diaper Head? In the 1996 Kevin J. Anderson-edited Tales of the Bounty Hunters anthology (get ready, this isn’t the only time I’m going to mention this collection in this article), author Dave Wolverton related Dengar’s origin in a short tale entitled "Payback." In this piece of essential Dengar fiction (yes, such a thing exists), Wolverton details that Dengar used to be a swoop bike racer who was injured as a teenager by his racing rival. Of course, that rival was none other than a young Han Solo. Wolverton makes Dengar’s vendetta against the captain of Millennium Falcon very personal.

    But Wolverton’s hyper-readable story isn’t our Expanded Universe essential Dengar pick. That honor goes to the season four episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars entitled "Bounty." In this toyetic installment of Clone Wars, an aimless Asajj Ventress joins up with a band of roguish bounty hunters that includes a teenage Boba Fett, Bossk, and the grizzled, weathered Dengar. Dengar plays a secondary role in this episode (doesn’t he always) to Fett and Ventress, but when Dengar springs into action, he truly shines. Better yet, Dengar is voiced by lifelong Star Wars lover Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Star Trek), and you just know that when Pegg was a wee lad he took his Kenner Dengar figure on many adventures. Pegg’s Star Wars enthusiasm shows as he fills the once tabula rasa Dengar with a salty, badass personality. "Bounty" was a Dirty Dozen-like adventure through the underbelly of the Star Wars galaxy and finally gave fans a sense of who the bandaged badass of Star Wars truly is.

    Buy all of your Star Wars boxsets, books, comics, and merch right here!

    IG-88

    With a scant few seconds of screen team, IG-88 showed the world that not every droid in the Star Warsuniverse is cutesy. Yeah, we saw a few black imperial R2 and R5 units and a smattering of Death Star sroids, but IG-88 was a different mechanical animal all together. IG-88 was all sharp edges with a surreal design and multiple big honking firearms. Fans only got one quick glimpse of this death machine, but it was enough to emblazon this oddly shaped engine of destruction in fans’ minds forever. IG-88 was built and operated by puppeteer and effects guru Bill Hargreaves, and by operated I mean that Hargreaves moved IG’s head a tiny bit in Empire. But, damn, what a creation!

    So we’re going to take IG-88’s chosen chronicle from the aforementioned Tales of the Bounty Hunters. In a short story entitled "Therefore I Am," it was revealed that everyone’s favorite murder droid had a great deal in common with Marvel’s Ultron. You see, in this tale, it was revealed that there were actually four models of IG-88 that shared the same malevolent consciousness. The IG master intelligence wanted to kick start a droid revolution and conquer the galaxy, but when it was activated, IG-88 murdered its creators and then built three duplicates of itself. One of those duplicates answered Vader’s call for bounty hunters while the others began plotting for the droid uprising. After Vader gave his marching orders, IG-88 stealthily downloaded Imperial files off the ships’ computer. Through this data theft, the assassin droid discovered top secret plans detailing the construction of a second Death Star.

    After IG sent that info to his duplicates, it tracked Solo to Bespin where it had a violent encounter with Boba Fett. Hey, remember the IG carcass in the background of the Ugnaught smelter sequence in The Empire Strikes Back, the one where the little pig people played keep away with Chewbacca? Yeah, this short story explains that carcass, as Fett blasts the IG unit to oblivion. But there were still three IG-88s out there. Two of them went after Fett but the last remaining IG-88, get this now, downloaded itself into and took over the freaking Death Star. Yes, according to Anderson’s "Therefore I Am," at the end of Return of the Jedi, the Death Star gained sentience thanks to IG-88. Of course, this was right before Lando Calrissian, Wedge Antilles, and Nein Numb blew the sucker up, but still, a malevolently intelligent Death Star is about as badass as it gets. That certainly would have led to the droid uprising, if not for fate and a fateful, last ditch bid at freedom by a desperate band of rebels.

    IG-88—from a blink and you’ll miss it first appearance to a bee’s eyelash away from wiping out all non-mechanical life in the galaxy. Awesome.

    Boba Fett

    Can you imagine Star Wars without Fett? Honestly, the whole saga wouldn’t have been much different on screen, but it certainly would be fundamentally altered in the hearts and minds of fans, because Boba Fett’s legend lives in the Expanded Universe, or fans’ own personal expanded universes at least. There is a mystique to Fett. Maybe it’s because Boba Fett was the first mail away action figure which signaled to SW fans everywhere after 1977’s Star Wars that there would be more adventures in a galaxy far, far away to come. Perhaps it’s the fact that the Fett figure was supposed to feature a rocket-firing backup until Kenner grew worried that kids would choke on Fett’s spring loaded missile. Dude, Fett is so dangerous he was considered a threat to real world children before he made his film debut. Take that Dengar!

    Perhaps it’s that badass souped up Stormtrooper like armor that Fett wears or perhaps it is because every inch of this gravelly voiced outlaw is covered in dangerous armaments. There are countless reasons that the whole world has a Boba Fettish and the stories we are about to list take advantage of this rarified adoration. It’s hard to narrow down just one great Boba Fett Expanded Universe story, so we won’t. We’ll hit you with a few.

    Boba Fett was played by Jeremy Bulloch in both The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. For years, no one knew the lethal bounty hunter’s origins until George Lucas detailed Fett’s clone birth in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (2002), but before that, Fett was a mystery than many Expanded Universe creators tried to shed some light on.

    First up is a yarn entitled "Prey" that appeared in Dark Horse Comics’ Star Wars Tales #11 (2002). This flashback story written and drawn by Kia Asamiya features Fett being dispatched by Moff Tarkin to retrieve Han Solo after the future hero of the Rebellion defects from the Imperial Navy. Darth Vader disagrees with giving this assignment to a bounty hunter and goes after Solo himself. This leads to Fett and Vader engaging in an eye popping lightsaber battle in the middle of the Mos Eisley Cantina! Fett, who had procured a lightsaber from a dead Jedi (awesome), held his own against Vader, proving that this bounty hunter backs down from no man. Solo escaped by attaching his ship to a Star Destroyer and floating away when the warship dumped its garbage. Hmm, that sounds familiar, huh? This battle also built that subtle grudging respect that can be felt when Vader addressed Fett aboard the Star Destroyer Executer in Empire.

    From the Dark Horse era to the first Marvel Comics era, let us go back in time to Star Wars#81 (1984) by Jo Duffy, Ron Frenz, Tom Palmer, and Tom Mandrake. There have been a number of Expanded Universe accounts of Boba Fett escaping the Sarlaac Pit, but this semi-classic published by Marvel just happens to be the first. The issue was entitled (get ready for it) "Jawas of Doom!" Let that sink in for a moment.

    The story takes place just after the Battle of Endor and sees Han Solo searching for some extra cash. Han, Chewbacca, Leia, R2, and C-3P0 fly to Tatooine so Han can withdraw his credits from a Mos Eisely bank. Sadly, Han’s credits were frozen at the same time he was (in carbonite, natch!). Meanwhile, Boba Fett was spat out by the Sarlaac Pit and picked up by aggressive Jawas. It seems that since Jabba the Hutt’s demise, the Jawas have become more and more aggressive. In other words, the only thing that was keeping these hooded desert rodents in check was a mob boss, and now that Jabba is gone, the Jawas have become a gaggle of little murder bundles. So the Jawas droidnap R2-D2 and Boba Fett, whom they mistake for a droid due to his strange armor. Boba Fett has amnesia because comics and becomes the Jawas hapless prisoner (this is like an action figure adventure I would have had with a 103 degree fever).

    Han, who sets on a rescue mission, boards the Sandcrawler and is shocked to see Boba Fett. The two former enemies work together to defeat the Jawas (no, really) until Fett regains his memory and takes a pot shot at Han. Han leaps to safety just as the Sandcrawler plummets into, you guessed it, the Sarlaac Pit. Wahh-wahh-wahhhhhh! What a strange little must-read story. First off, it featured the first post-Return of the Jedi appearance of Fett and, secondly, it then almost turned Fett into a kind of tragic hero before depositing him back into the same pit of death in which he met his ignominious film demise. One has to wonder if Marvel was under marching orders by Lucasfilm to make sure Fett stayed in the Sarlaac, and if so, what kind of plans did Lucas have for the fan favorite hunter killer back in 1984? And what about those killer Jawas. How are you not eBaying this right now?

    Let’s move on to some alternate escapes from the Sarlaac Expanded Universe fiction, shall we? We have discussed Tales of the Bounty Hunters ad nauseam (and we will again), but now, let's take a look at Tales from Jabba’s Palace (1996), another Kevin J. Anderson-edited anthology. In "A Barve Like That: The Tale of Boba Fett" by J.D. Montgomery, readers get to experience Fett’s time in the Sarlaac. This short story features the most backstory that was ever revealed about the mysterious bounty hunter pre-Attack of the Clones, as fans are welcomed into Fett’s thoughts for the first time. Most of these thoughts consist of “Oh my lord, I’m slowly being digested over a period of a thousand years. It hurts. It hurts. Solo is a dick!” but there is also a great deal revealed about the heart and spirit of the hunter.

    This tale mostly takes place within the Sarlaac, as a trapped Fett is able to converse with the Pit’s first victim, a being named Susejo. Through Susejo, Fett learns how hopeless his plight truly is—but guys, this is Boba Fett, the most lethal bounty hunter in the galaxy, a walking weapon, the first mail away action figure! Fett isn’t having any of that noise and tricks the Sarlaac into digesting his rocket pack. Well, Kenner was right, that backpack was dangerous, and when the thing explodes, Fett is freed of the Sarlaac. Pretty intense and much better than dying while fighting rabid Jawas. Montgomery’s tale really highlighted what Star Wars fans new all along—that nothing can stop Boba Fett, the most lethal bounty hunter in the galaxy.

    Boba Fett is so badass he couldn’t even be stopped by the Star Wars Christmas Special (1978). For real, the haphazardly animated nine-minute animated short featuring the introduction of Boba Fett is the only watchable part of the infamous Christmas special. In this short, Han Solo and Luke Skywalker fall victim to a sleeping virus and Chewbacca and the droids must team with a mysterious armored figure named Boba Fett to save the heroes.

    Over the course of the stiffly animated feature, Fett fights a lizard dragon thing and is still a menacing presence despite the fact that he barley moves in this unbudgeted production. Now imagine, kids everywhere sending away for the Kenner figure and encountering Fett for the first time in the Christmas special. Even though the rest of the special is unwatchable, Fett’s animated debut must have been pure magic for Star Warsfans of a certain age. And that’s why we love Fett and his mystique, because his uniquely marketed pre-The Empire Strikes Back introduction into the Star Wars galaxy introduced the very idea of an Expanded Universe. Expect more Fett very soon, possibly in his own feature length film in the next few years.

    Bossk

    Bossk, possibly the most fearsome looking bounty hunter to gather on the Executor in The Empire Strikes Back, has long been an iconic but minor adversary in the Star Wars saga. Like Fett, Bossk was a Kenner mail away action figure, which just adds to the aura of this Trandoshan villain. Bossk is so tough, he doesn't have time for footwear, and his arms and legs barely fit into his famous yellow space suit. You just know that Bossk ripped apart some poor pilot to score his flight gear, and the lizard-like bounty hunter really pops in the few seconds he is onscreen in Empire.

    Played by British actor Alan Harris, Bossk also pops up in Return of the Jediand has appeared in many Expanded Universe tales. By the way, that Bossk’s famous space suit was a leftover costume used in the 1966 Doctor Who episode "The Tenth Planet Part 1" is pretty cool sci-fi synergy, huh?

    To find our Bossk highlight, we look to the recent past and to the young adult Star Wars Rebels novel Ezra's Gambleby Ryder Windham (2014). Before this EU tale (which is part of the new Disney canon), Bossk was traditionally portrayed as an almost mindless, cannibalistic brute. While this has added to the infamous legend of Bossk, it didn’t leave room for character subtleties. Windham took care of all that by portraying the Trandoshan as a morally ambiguous hunter with a unique sense of honor.

    In this recent prose Rebelsadventure, Bossk is depicted as a reluctant anti-hero with a conflicting sense of right and wrong. Bossk helps Ezra Bridger and is presented to fans in a heroic light for the first time. But in Empireand in other Expanded Universe fiction, Bossk is a flesh-hungry monstrosity who uses his personal ship, the Hound’s Tooth, to track his prey across the galaxy. So whether you like the new, more complex Bossk or the slavering, blood hungry scum of yesteryear, you've got to admit that with a few short seconds on screen and one garbled line that almost caused ‘ol Admiral Piett to poop his Imperial trousers (Res luk ra'auf!), Bossk has long captured the imagination of Star Wars fans.

    Zuckuss and 4-LOM

    Before we delve into our final pair of bounty hunters, let us play the name game. When Kenner produced its last two bounty hunter action figures in 1982, the toy company made a bit of a boo boo. Kenner used the Zuckuss name for a character that was clearly a droid and used an alpha-numeric droid designation for a character that was clearly an alien. Yes, according to Kenner, 4-LOM was an alien and Zuckuss was a droid, but history now tells us that Kenner done screwed up. In recent years, 4-LOM has been correctly identified as the bug eyed droid aboard Vader’s Star Destroyer in Empire, and Zuckuss has become the robed, bug eyed alien and all is right with the galaxy.

    But this name confusion just adds to the mystery of these two strange beings. The two bounty hunters in question appear in the same shot together and thus, have always been associated with each other. So when the two made their first appearance in the Expanded Universe, they did it as partners, as the Lenny and Squiggy of the Star Wars universe, but with an intense blood thirst and lots of guns. Before we delve into our 4-LOM and Zuckuss highlight, let us mention that 4-LOM was played by actress Cathy Munroe while Zuckuss was played by Chris Parsons (who also played the white protocol droid that appeared on Hoth, K-3PO—because if we’re going to go SW obscure, we might as well take it all the way to the extreme).

    Okay, of course our 4-LOM and Zuckuss tale comes from Tales of the Bounty Hunters because quite frankly, neither of these scums has made many Expanded Universe appearances. You would have thought that with their really awesome costumes 4-LOM and Zuckuss would have popped up in Jabba’s Palace in Return of the Jedi, but nope, it was one and done for this pair of assassins.

    In the Tales of the Bounty Hunters story, "Of Possible Futures: The Tale of Zuckuss and 4-LOM" by M. Shayne Bell, fans learn the complex histories of both of these blink and you’ll miss ‘em bounty hunters. 4-LOM and Zuckuss ambush a group of Rebels as the freedom fighters are attempting to escape Hoth during the first act of The Empire Strikes Back. The pair planned to sell the captives to Vader and the Empire.

    During the mission, fans learn of the background of both bug-eyed bounty hunters. 4-LOM was once a simple protocol droid whose programming became compromised. At first, 4-LOM began stealing from passengers of a luxury liner he worked on and before long became proficient in all sorts of mayhem. Eventually, 4-LOM embarked on a career as a thief and a bounty hunter and became so infamous, that even IG-88 considered recruiting 4-LOM into the droid revolution but thought better of it because the former protocol droid’s personality was too unstable.

    As for Zuckuss, this diminutive killer was a member of the Gand species, a group of insectoid aliens that breathed pneumonia and had to wear specially-made breathing apparatuses or suffocate in oxygen rich atmospheres. Gands also used special chemicals called the Mists to help them reach precognitive trance states. Whether Zuckuss really had mystical powers or just kind of got high and hunted people is unclear, but it was clear that this alien and droid made a formidable pair.

    In Bell’s tale, Zuckuss and 4-LOM are also shown to have a sound moral compass as, after the bounty hunting duo capture the Rebels, they free them and help the fugitives escape the Empire. So there you have it, according to the now out of continuity Expanded Universe tale, two of our infamous bounty hunters in question possessed the heart of heroes even though they looked like things that crawled out of an H.R. Giger fever dream.

    Most of these Expanded Universe tales are now expelled from the Star Wars canon, but the wonder that surrounds these six bounty hunters remains. As we move towards Rogue Oneand countless more Star Wars films, books, comics, and cartoons, you can be assured that these six characters that captured fans imaginations in about six seconds will continue to fascinate Star Wars fans of every age. Happy hunting.


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