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- 06/06/18--16:16: _Check, Please: Year...
- 06/06/18--22:10: _DC Entertainment Pr...
- 06/07/18--15:24: _Asgardians of the G...
- 06/07/18--17:22: _DC Announces Vertig...
- 06/08/18--02:10: _HBO's Sharp Objects...
- 06/08/18--09:08: _Hawkman Reboot Expl...
- 06/08/18--10:58: _Daredevil: 14 Crazy...
- 06/08/18--16:36: _Game of Thrones: 46...
- 06/08/18--17:38: _Stranger Things Pre...
- 06/09/18--12:41: _Ringo Starr Announc...
- 06/11/18--09:13: _Captain America Rel...
- 06/11/18--13:28: _The Riddler Goes Fu...
- 06/11/18--15:13: _Geoff Johns Leaves ...
- 06/11/18--23:39: _Game of Thrones Spi...
- 06/12/18--11:07: _New Shazam Series C...
- 06/13/18--09:26: _Hulk Movies Marvel ...
- 06/13/18--13:35: _Stephen King’s The ...
- 06/13/18--16:35: _Tom King's Heroes i...
- 06/14/18--12:59: _Does Superman Have ...
- 06/14/18--14:27: _Her Body & Other Pa...
- 06/06/18--16:16: Check, Please: Year Four to Premiere Monday
- 06/06/18--22:10: DC Entertainment President Leaves
- 06/07/18--15:24: Asgardians of the Galaxy Revealed by Marvel
- 06/07/18--17:22: DC Announces Vertigo Return With Huge Launch
- 06/08/18--02:10: HBO's Sharp Objects is Your Next Complex Women TV Obsession
- 06/08/18--09:08: Hawkman Reboot Explores Secret History of DC Universe
- 06/08/18--10:58: Daredevil: 14 Crazy Marvel Universe What If Stories
- 06/08/18--16:36: Game of Thrones: 46 Dead Characters Still Alive in the Books
- 06/08/18--17:38: Stranger Things Prequel Novel Coming in 2019
- 06/09/18--12:41: Ringo Starr Announces Photography Book and Tour
- 06/11/18--09:13: Captain America Relaunch Trailer Released by Marvel
- 06/11/18--13:28: The Riddler Goes Full Nice Guy at Batman and Catwoman Wedding
- 06/11/18--23:39: Game of Thrones Spinoff: 11 Stories from the Prequel's Age of Heroes
- 06/12/18--11:07: New Shazam Series Coming From DC
- 06/13/18--09:26: Hulk Movies Marvel Should Make
- 06/13/18--13:35: Stephen King’s The Outsider to Become a TV Series
- 06/13/18--16:35: Tom King's Heroes in Crisis Comic Gets September Release Date
- 06/14/18--12:59: Does Superman Have a Future in the DCEU?
- 06/14/18--14:27: Her Body & Other Parties to Get Anthology Series Adaptation
Ngozi Ukazu's webcomic about queer hockey bros is about to start its fourth year.
Check, Please, the little webcomic that could, has an official "Year Four" start date! The fourth "season" of the comic about baking and hockey bros will premiere on Monday June 11th. Check, Please creator Ngozi Ukazu (who we were lucky enough to talk to last year) made the announcement via Twitter earlier today...
— Ngozi %u2606 ALA New Orleans (@ngoziu) June 6, 2018
Check, Please: Year Four will pick back up with Bitty and Jack and the rest of their friends from Samwell Hockey community and beyond. If you've yet to check out the queer hockey comic, now is the perfect time to catch up. It is available to read in its entirety via the official Check Please website.
Here's the description of Year Three from the web comic's Year Three Kickstarter page (spoilers!):
Junior year is filled with challenges for Bitty and Jack--on and off the ice. As they embark on a new relationship, Bitty and Jack must decide how they want to reveal their relationship to friends, coworkers, and family. Not only that, but Jack and the Falconers are now a big part of the NHL--and Bitty's life! It's a hockey season filled with victories and losses.
Ukazu is currently campaigning to get Check, Please: Year Three printed. Check, Please: Year One and Check, Please: Year Two were already printed with the help of a Kickstarter campaign, and are also set to get a printing from First Second Books. The release of the first volume in the series is slated for the fall.
Diane Nelson is no longer DC Entertainment President.
Diane Nelson, who has been President of DC Entertainment since 2009, has left the company. Nelson has been on leave since March, citing family issues.
"Diane has been a friend and colleague as well as a valued member of the Warner Bros. family for more than 20 years," Warner Bros. Entertainment CEO Kevin Tsujihara said in a statement obtained by THR. "Throughout her tenure, her leadership and contributions have helped shape the way the studio operates today, and we’re better for having had her on our team. While we're sad she’ll be leaving us, we completely respect and support her decision. Whatever her next chapter holds, I know she'll make it amazing."
“Warner Bros. has been my home for over 20 years with a wide variety of incredible professional experiences,” Nelson said in a statement. “The last nine — rebuilding and managing DC Entertainment — have been a particular highlight and privilege. With the support and talents of our staff and creators, I am proud to leave DC even stronger than when I joined it. I will miss everyone — particularly my executive management team — without whom none of our achievements could have been realized. And I am excited to take on my next professional adventure.”
The executive management team she mentions includes DC co-publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee, DC chief creative officer and DC Films co-chair Geoff Johns, and DC executive VP of business marketing and strategy, Amit Desai.
Nelson's success with Warner Bros'Harry Potter franchise helped pave the way for her time at DC. During her tenure, we've seen the explosion of DC live action and animated properties on the small screen, and the long-awaited launch of a shared DC movie universe. While those movies have met with mixed critical and commercial results, the last nine years have been a boon for DC fans, with more opportunities to see favorite characters brought to life than at any point in the company's history. Despite a hiccup or two, DC Comics has kept up the pace as well, with a wealth of new talent and all time greats in the fold. It's a good time to be a DC fan, and quite a bit of that comes down to Nelson's efforts.
Marvel heard you liked the Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy scenes in Avengers: Infinity War...
The Asgardians of the Galaxy are coming. But I can certainly hazard a guess or two.
Marvel has been releasing cryptic teasers for this summer's Infinity Wars comics crossover event. Infinity Wars is written by Gerry Duggan, who has also been writing the Guardians of the Galaxy comic for the least year or so (with spectacular art by Aaron Kuder), so it would make sense that he would steer the team into a new iteration of some kind. The Duggan/Kuder (not to be confused with Dunning-Kruger...that's our President) Guardians comics are the most perfect distillation of everything you love about the Guardians of the Galaxy movies right now, and I can't recommend them highly enough.
This teaser promised that "The Guardians of the Galaxy are no more" before asking the question "Who are the Asgardians of the Galaxy?"
And now Marvel has revealed the lineup...
ANGELA, the not-so-beloved half-sister of Thor.
The hotheaded VALKYRIE – and the human who shares her form, Annabelle Riggs.
SKURGE the EXECUTIONER, freshly returned from Hel.
THROG, the mightiest frog of thunder.
Kevin Masterson, the boy who took his father’s mace to become the hero THUNDERSTRIKE.
And the DESTROYER, the Asgardian armor built to take down Celestials – its wielder unknown.
Look, Marvel knows when they've got a good thing going. Naming your massive summer publishing event something close to one of the biggest movies of all time is a perfect piece of synergy. And noting that audiences certainly took to the idea of Thor becoming a pirate-angel to Star-Lord, Rocket, Drax, and Gamora in Avengers: Infinity War, so it makes sense to go for a little of that vibe on the page. On the other hand, since many of the other recent Infinity Warsteasers also promised that "Death wins" maybe we shouldn't get too attached to Star-Lord and friends right now.
Vertigo returns with a new boss, a new logo, and a new timeliness.
Vertigo, DC's thinking-person's comics imprint started in the early '90s, announced today that it was relaunching with a new executive editor and a promise to "return to its roots."
The new editor is Mark Doyle, who got his start as a Vertigo editor before he took the reins of the Batman family. He's widely credited with bringing Scott Snyder into the team, and his talent search is expected to continue at Vertigo. "From the corners of television, games, music, activism, podcasting, comics and more, all of our creators are passionate and have something to say. These sophisticated stories have amazing new characters and vast worlds to explore," said Doyle.
The new books include:
Border Town from Eric Esquivel (Adventure Time) and Ramon Villalobos (the extremely underrated Nighthawk), about a crack in the Earth that releases Mexican monsters into an Arizona border town, which the town residents blame on "illegals." A group of teenagers has to figure out what's really going on.
Hex Wives, from Ben Blacker (a fantastic run on Thunderbolts) and Mirka Andolfo (Shade the Changing Girl) about a coven of witches brainwashed to be Stepford Wives who are slowly regaining their memories.
American Carnage by Bryan Hill (Michael Cray) and Leandro Fernandez (Punisher MAX) which follows a biracial FBI agent who goes undercover with a white supremacist group.
Goddess Mode from Zoe Quinn (Crash Override) and Robbi Rodriguez (Spider-Gwen). A woman who does tech support on the AI who runs humanity in a near future dystopia discovers monsters and super-powered women battling behind the scense for the cheat codes to reality.
Rob Sheridan, former art director for Nine Inch Nails, teams up with OmegaMen's Barnaby Bagenda for High Level, about a smuggler delivering the messiah to a mysterious city far in the future.
Tina Horn (Why Are People Into That, a kink/sex explainer podcast) and Mike Dowling (Unfollow)'s Safe Sex about a gang of sex worker freedom fighters, in a sentence I really enjoyed typing.
And finally, Second Coming from Flintstones' Mark Russell and It Doesn't Matter, I've Already Preordered It's Richard Pace (oh crap he's really good too, though). God sends Jesus to Earth to learn the family business from Sun Man, God's popular jock other son. Really, what more could you want?
Vertigo is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and is doing so with more...obviously political...books than when it first launched. Early titles for Vertigo included Sandman, Grant Morrison's Animal Man, Peter Milligan's Shade the Changing Man, Hellblazer, Swamp Thing, and Doom Patrol. These books were cerebral, weird, beautiful and important, but only rarely were they nakedly political in a way that many of these books seem.
For more on Vertigo or why political comics are good, stick with Den of Geek!
The Gillian Flynn novel adaptation pulls you in with its mystery of missing girls, and keeps you with its exploration of complex women.
Television is finally starting to tell stories about complex women. From Big Little Lies to Killing Eve, we're getting TV series that center angry, flawed, sometimes violent women. Sharp Objects, which shares a network and director with the former of those examples, is poised to become the next great TV story in this mainstream cultural evolution.
Female anger and its manifestations has always been an integral part of theSharp Objects narrative. Author Gillian Flynn, speaking at tonight's Sharp Objects world premiere at the ATX TV Festival, said she wrote the novel in part because she wanted to see a story about women's rage and violence in a mainstream culture that tends to be much more interested in exploring male anger and how it manifests.
"There were a lot of stories about men and violence and men and rage and how they handle that," said Flynn, "and not much about how women did that and how women handled their anger and their violence and what that looked like, especially generationally."
Sharp Object follows protagonist Camille Preaker (Amy Adams), a St. Louis newspaper journalist sent to back to her hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri in order to investigate the murders of two local girls. Camille, like many of the female protagonists in Big Little Lies, is mostly suffering in silence—in this case, turning her anger and pain inwards in the form of alcoholism and cutting.
The newspaper assignment may bring Camille home, but it also drudges up personal demons, in particular childhood memories surrounding the death of her sister. The aforementioned cross-generational exploration of female trauma happens chiefly, at least in the first episode, in the relationship between Camille and her mother, Adora Crellin (Patricia Clarkson). Adora, who comes from "old money," continues to suffer from the pain of losing a child, but is outwardly entirely committed to preserving her socialite image. Camille, with her alcoholism and "morbid questions" is a threat to the performative guards Adora has built up.
Showrunner Marti Noxon (UnREAL), who also penned the first episode, felt a personal connection to the subject matter of a woman using self-harmful coping mechanisms to deal with her pain.
"I have struggled with eating disorders and alcoholism off and on throughout my life and there was something about the way Camille hid her pain and then was so intrepid and she didn't let that stop her that I found so moving," said Noxon. "There's this female quality where we... certain generations, I think, were taught to keep that stuff hidden and keep it inside."
Noxon said she struggled translating the deeply-internal story of Camille in the book to the screen, crediting director Jean-Marc Vallée (Big Little Lies) with communicating much of Camille's inner turmoil in a visual manner. Vallée, who directed all eight episodes of the show, subtly articulates the haunted, often intoxicated logic of Camille's perspective through jump cuts, dream sequences, and by playing with time.
"Jean-Marc took what was in there and made it 10,000 times better," said Noxon, "but that fluid [intertwining of the] past, present, and maybe even future was my experience of being a drunk. It all blends together and all the ghosts are there all the time."
The slow, brutal unpeeling of the layers of Camille's pain, trauma, and anger is not a story that could have easily been told with such nuance in a film format.
"Television is in such a renaissance right now," said Adams who, in addition to starring as Camille, also executive produces the series. "It's a wonderful place to tell stories ... and a great place to tell this story especially. Camille needed to be explored over eight hours. To try to do that in 90 minutes to 120 tops would have been very tricky."
Noxon, who has spent the last few decades writing and producing both TV and film, agrees.
"Movies with complicated female leads don't get the support and they don't get the attention they deserve," said Noxon. "And they [often] don't get great marketing campaigns. If one doesn't perform well, then they just say, 'Well, it doesn't work.' There's independent films, but often those don't get seen very much."
Noxon said she's spent the last five or six years creating TV projects about "difficult women," calling Sharp Objects the third installment in her "self-harm trilogy," following The Bone and Dietland.
If the first episode is any indication, Sharp Objects is a hell of a capper. With characteristically complex performances from Adams and Clarkson; intimate, haunting direction and writing from Vallée and Noxon, respectively; and a central mystery as fascinating as it is disturbing, Sharp Objects is poised to be one of this summer's must-watch dramas... on TV or the big screen.
Sharp Objects premieres on July 8th on HBO.
The new Hawkman series has Carter Hall acting like Indiana Jones with wings.
Robert Venditti is not one to shy away from tough jobs. Not only is he the guy who relaunched the Valiant Universe after years of dormancy, but he’s also the guy who had to follow Geoff Johns on Green Lantern. He flourished on each, with long runs on both Green Lantern and X-O Manowar. But now he faces maybe his toughest task: restarting Hawkman.
Predictably, he knocks it out of the park. The first issue, which pairs Venditti with Bryan Hitch, is smart and fun in a completely unexpected way, and gorgeous in a completely expected one. We had a chance to talk with Venditti about his approach to such a many-rebooted character and working with Hitch. The following interview has been lightly edited for flow and clarity. Take a look!
Den of Geek: How do you reconcile the competing backstories, the variety of continuities that follow Hawkman when you're trying to boil him down to his essence as a character?
Robert Venditti: Well, I think we do that very same thing in this issue. For me, it comes down to who he is internally, beyond all of the Thanagarian space cop or ancient Egyptian prince reincarnated as an archeologist. What are the core traits about him that sort of run through all those things? For me, the one that I really seized upon, and it's really kind of the theme of the series, is the concept of exploration and discovery. Why does he go on adventures, and what is he seeking out and why is he so driven to far-flung locales? The kind of adventures that he has throughout his history are different than what you see from Green Lantern or Flash or things like that. They're, I guess, much more, to put quotes around the word, "adventurous."
Cosmic locations, whether ... it could be an earthbound location, but they're always sort of walking that line between fanciful and historic. The enemies that he combats do the same. For me, it was looking at those aspects of the character and then coming up with a way that all of it would link together into one unified whole. That's what we're trying to do with the series. That's what we've tried to do with the first issue. By doing that, we'll bring Carter Hall and Hawkman back to the center of the DC Universe where he really belongs.
By the same token, your Carter Hall feels more fun, more worldly and almost playful, a little bit, in a way that he hasn't always necessarily been. How do you see Carter and how is he a distinct part of the Hawkman story?
I see him as a scholar. From his life history, living the many lives that he has, he is an authority on history in a way that no other person on Earth is. I see him as someone who has a great amount of respect and reverence for all cultures, all peoples, all languages. In some ways, he's the walking museum. His memories are a walking museum of everything that he's experienced and everywhere he's been, but he's also a very skilled warrior.
He's a scholar and he might not hit you first, but he's going to hit you last. That's kind of the way I think about him. If you pick a fight with this guy, he has the skill and the mindset and the intelligence as a tactician to make you wish you had never picked that fight. It's that interesting balance...Carter Hall the scholar versus Hawkman the warrior and how we weave those two things into the series that make him a character that's unique in the DC Universe.
You say that Carter is kind of an authority on history, and it's clear from the first issue that he's got the ability to access in some small way the past lives. In addition to resetting Hawkman in the DC Universe, are you going to be using the series as kind of a Tomb Raider for the DCU or accessing the secret history of the post-Rebirth DC continuity?
Very much so. Tomb Raider is another good example, but the way I like to talk about the series is it's part Indiana Jones, part National Treasure. Every single issue he's in a new location, he discovers something new, and that propels him on into the next issue. In the beginning, what he's seeking to discover are the secrets and the truths of his own past, because he finds out in the first issue that there's a threat coming to destroy him and all of Earth. He had forgotten all about it until now. Now he wants to know what else about himself he doesn't know and how, somewhere buried in his past, there must be an answer for how he's supposed to fight this threat.
He's on a race against the clock to uncover his own past and find these secrets in time, before the threat arrives. In doing so, we're going to take him to places that are unique to the DC Universe. We have a lot of plans for them, and it is a bit of revealing of secrets pasts and things we never knew before.
For example, where he ends up at the open of the first issue, he's at a location that's unique to the DC Universe dealing with a culture that's established in the DC Universe, but showing you an aspect of it that we've never seen before. We're going to be doing a lot of those sorts of things. I would even say that, while a lot of what we're doing, especially in the first issue, is very earthbound, Hawkman is one of those few characters that is a perfect blend because of his diverse history, that's a perfect blend of the earthbound and the cosmic. When I say DC locations, I don't necessarily just mean places on Earth, but the entire DC Universe is a canvas that we're going to be able to play with.
The new incarnation of Hawkman is rooted firmly in the reemergence of the Dark Multiverse. Are we going to be bouncing around in the Multiverse at all? Is there a chance that he's been reincarnated, not just in time and in space, but on alternate Earths also?
You can expect a lot of exploration, and that's kind of what I was saying earlier, beyond just the earthbound. It's important, I think, that we drill in on something you just said, which is, speaking of Metal and the Dark Multiverse and how much what we're doing is picking up from what was done in Metal and by the expansion of the character's history beyond what we normally knew of it as being in ancient Egypt and the thousands of years that have been added to the character's history. That's an awful lot of time and an awful lot of lives to fill that space.
I couldn't even tell you how many plotlines and how many story ideas are packed into this one issue that might not be immediately apparent, but as the series progresses and we follow Carter along his journey, you'll see how many of them we seeded from the very, very earliest pages.
That's really interesting, because most people, when they're trying to reinvent the character, they try and get right down to the core of it and really narrow the scope to redefine the character from scratch. But it seems like you went in the absolute opposite direction with Hawkman. It seems like you decided to go as big as you could possibly get. Do you ever step back from that and say, "Wow, what did I do?" Do you ever get worried that you made it too big?
(laughs) I have not. As I started reading the stories, that was what spoke to me about the character, that was where the opportunity was. I didn't sit down and say, "I want to do this type of story. How am I going to make Hawkman fit into that?" That's not what happened at all. It was the reverse, with me learning about the character and realizing that this was the type of story that I felt the character was suited for.
I also feel it's something that is wholly unique. This isn't the type of story and this isn't the type of character that you can really see anywhere else in comics. The kind of things we're going to be doing are things that Hawkman could only be doing. I think that just speaks to who he is a character, what makes him so unique, and how we get him back to that place of prominence that he deserves in the DC Universe.
Did you find yourself changing what you wrote or the way that you wrote it to match his abilities? For example, did you put a chase scene in between Hawkman and a giant winged stone gorilla because you're working with the original widescreen comics guy, or did the giant stone winged gorilla just come naturally?
It's a bit of both. (laughs) I'm very fortunate to be working with an artist like Bryan whose style is so expansive. There's art from much more than that already that's been turned in from future issues. He can draw anything, and his approach to the character, even something as, I don't want to say small, but something as confined and singular and just the character of Hawkman himself, how he renders Hawkman in flight, the motions of the wings, the poses. The skill with which he does that, and then the way he renders giant settings with hieroglyphics in the smallest detail written on every single square millimeter of the background ... He's able to do all those things.
A lot of what you read in this first issue and a lot of what the series is is me coming in with a plot and then him reading it and us talking about it, and as he's drawing, he'll even come up with ideas that hit him in the moment. He'll send me an email and say, "Hey, what about if all of a sudden the statue has wings?"
I think that's the creative energy that you can feel, and that's what you want. I don't want it to feel like a chore when I'm writing it and the artist doesn't want it to feel like a chore when they're drawing it. If you're working on something and the ideas are coming as they're drawing and they're coming up with new inspiration, that's exactly what you want. As I'm looking at his art and I'm doing the dialogue, seeing what he does gives me different inspirations as well, so it's very much this back-and-forth collaborative effort that I feel is really the best of what a working relationship in comic books could be. I couldn't be happier than to be working with him and to be building this whole thing with him together.
Hawkman #1 by Venditti and Hitch is out on June 13th. For more on the fallout of Metal or for more on Hawkman, stick with Den of Geek!
In the multiverse, Daredevil has been an undead mass murderer, a samurai warrior, a blind prize fighter, a SHIELD agent, and more.
Daredevil is setting the world on fire. The Netflix series has been incredibly well-regarded and there's a third season on the way. It was only fitting that he was chosen as leader of The Defenders, since Daredevil is sort of like the king of Marvel’s street level characters.
Sure, Spider-Man is more popular, but Matt Murdock is known for his rough life and being fate's punching bag even more than Peter Parker. Unfortunately for him, it’s not just the universe that rarely cuts him any slack, but the multiverse as well. Daredevil has starred in a handful of stories in Marvel’s What If?series and they aren’t always sunshine and lollypops. They’re still some interesting storylines with some cool ideas, though.
WHAT IF THE WORLD KNEW DARDEVIL WAS BLIND?
WHAT IF? V.1 #8, 1978
Don Glut, Alan Kupperberg, and Jim Mooney
The Original Story: Back in his yellow costume days, Daredevil took on Spider-Man villain Electro. Electro caught Daredevil off-guard at one point with a bolt to the back, but Daredevil eventually recovered and defeated him.
But What If... Spider-Man entered the fray? Having problems of his own, Spider-Man took a break from his personal adventures once he noticed Electro sneaking around a nearby building. Spider-Man breaking through a window alerted Electro and prevented his sneak attack on Daredevil. Instead of zapping Daredevil in the back, he went at him head-on and missed. Electro was confused as even if it didn’t hit him, it still should have at least blinded Daredevil, yet he didn’t even react. After getting his ass handed to him by the team of Daredevil and Spider-Man, Electro smiled. He may have lost, but he knew Daredevil’s secret and that would certainly have an effect on history.
One of the things that’s great about this issue is an early moment where Daredevil and Spider-Man discuss Daredevil’s lack of sight. Despite being from the 70s, the issue is still self-aware enough for Spider-Man to outright make fun of the old yellow costume as being an eye-sore that only a blind man would wear.
Most of the issue feels like a regular Daredevil vs. Owl story with the change that the Owl knows how to use Daredevil’s weakness against him by playing a really loud alarm of owls hooting along with filling the room with contrasting smells. In this reality, Karen Page figures out the secret identity thing really early on (Daredevil happens to sound a lot like the other blind guy she knows and accidentally called her by name) and is able to give him someone to confide in and help him overcome the Owl’s obstacles.
WHAT IF DAREDEVIL BECAME AN AGENT OF SHIELD?
WHAT IF? V.1 #28, 1981
Mike W. Barr and Frank Miller
The Original Story: A car crash took away Matt Murdock’s sight when toxic chemicals splashed into his eyes. It took years of training and heartbreak for him to step up and become something more than human, allowing him to fight against evil as Daredevil.
But What If... somebody knew what this meant for Matt’s future? The chemical truck belonged to Tony Stark, who decided to keep an eye on the situation after telling the driver that driving through the city would be way too dangerous. His instincts were correct when he found a boy doused in the eyes with the chemicals. He took the boy to Nick Fury on the SHIELD Helicarrier, figuring he’d know what to do.
Much like the previous entry, this one ends up being kind of upbeat, mainly because Daredevil wasn’t as much of a tragic character in mainstream Marvel just yet. Instead of Stick figuring Matt could make the best ninja, we have Fury figuring that he could make for the best secret agent. Hydra gets wind of this and immediately kidnaps Jack Murdock, leading to a pretty sweet action sequence where Matt goes to get him back.
The weird thing about this comic is that it doesn’t use the title as a springboard into a story, but uses it as an endpoint. Matt Murdock joining SHIELD is the very last panel and the story is merely about his origin.
WHAT IF ELEKTRA HAD LIVED?
What If? v.1 #35, 1982
The Original Story: After escaping prison, Bullseye was tasked with eliminating Elektra. In a rather nasty fight, he took her apart and impaled her with her own sai. The love of Daredevil’s life was snuffed out.
But What If... Bullseye was done in by someone else’s true aim? As Bullseye tried to escape, he was shot right in the head by a prison guard. That meant that Kingpin would have to rely on lesser assassins to punish Elektra for her failure to kill Foggy Nelson.
This one always confuses me because it tends to be on people’s lists of favorite What If? issues and I really don’t understand why. I’ve never gotten a straight answer other than, “It’s Miller.” I mean, is it just the novelty that Frank Miller wrote and drew it? Yes, the Elektra fight scene is beautiful, albeit short, but there’s honestly nothing to this story. It’s just there and it just ends.
Then there’s the framing sequence where Uatu the Watcher proceeds to be the biggest asshole in the Marvel Universe, which Ed Brubaker liked enough to do an homage in What If? Civil War many years later.
WHAT IF? V.1 #38 (1983)
David Michelenie, Alan Kupperberg
The Original Story: We tend to read our comics about Matt Murdock as being a fairly young adult. Characters don’t really age all that much in the mainstream, so we aren’t going to be seeing him depicted as a middle-aged man in the near future.
But What If... we got to look at the future? This issue of What If? is made up of three stories based on jumping decades into the future. One is based on an older Captain America and his wife Sharon. One is a rather touching story about Vision coming to terms with Scarlet Witch dying of old age while his android body remains the same. Then there’s this one, taking place 30 years in the future, where Russian President Natasha Romanoff comes to America to meet with Vice President Foggy Nelson. Matt works for Foggy and is just a big curmudgeon about everything because his unnamed wife has recently died.
It’s a very, very strange comic. Terrorists attack the UN and our two heroes turn out to both have their costumes on underneath their outfits. It makes some sense for Natasha, despite being a bit too old to be wearing skintight spandex, but Matt hasn’t worn his tights in decades, so his decision to have them on just in case is ridiculous. Then his life lesson about not letting tragedy destroy him is so ham-fisted that it’s rather hilarious.
WHAT IF DAREDEVIL HAD KILLED THE KINGPIN?
WHAT IF? V.2 #2, 1989
Danny Fingeroth and Greg Capullo
The Original Story: During “Born Again,” Matt Murdock was brought to his breaking point and chose to visit Wilson Fisk, the man responsible for his troubles. He wanted to kill him. Physically, he wasn’t up to the task and got absolutely destroyed. Only in his defeat was he able to build himself back up and come out stronger than ever.
But What If... on the way to meet Fisk, Matt bumped into one of the bodyguards and smuggled away his gun? Matt then confronted Fisk and shot him. He stayed around long enough to make sure his heart wasn’t beating, then walked out with nobody knowing about it for another fifteen minutes.
Matt’s greatest antagonist in this story isn’t the underworld or the superheroes, but himself. As a justice-loving Catholic, he’s distraught over what he’s done. He becomes delusional, hallucinating homeless people as judges and begging for them to find him guilty. He pleads with the Punisher to shoot him dead as punishment, since he’s no better than all the other criminals he preys on. Meanwhile, Richard Fisk admits that he doesn’t know how to feel about his father’s passing and when Matt goes to him to receive judgment, Richard is unsure of how to react.
This one’s one of the better What If? issues out there. Not only does it have some strong character moments, but it has an ending so cool that I almost wish it was canon.
WHAT IF THE PUNISHER HAD KILLED DAREDEVIL?
WHAT IF? V.2 #26, 1991
Kurt Busiek and Luke McDonnell
The Original Story: As the Punisher beat up a junkie on a rooftop, Daredevil got in his way to stop him. The Punisher fired a tranquilizer dart and knocked him out, allowing him an easy escape, all while Daredevil got a nap out of it.
But What If... Daredevil was just a little too close to the edge? To Frank Castle’s horror, Daredevil fell to his death. Well. That would change a lot, wouldn’t it?
As you can guess, this one is less of a Daredevil story and more of a Punisher one. Foggy appears early on and Ben Urich gets a pretty major role, but it mostly comes down to Punisher vs. Kingpin. It’s still a really good issue and the subplot about Spider-Man is kind of heartbreaking. As Daredevil’s superhero BFF, Spider-Man blames himself for what happened, since he always let Punisher kind of do his own thing as long as he wasn’t nearby. Now he dedicates himself to bringing him in and it all goes very, very wrong.
The same creative team would come back to do another Punisher/Daredevil story soon after.
WHAT IF VENOM HAD POSSESSED THE PUNISHER?
WHAT IF? V.2 #44, 1992
Kurt Busiek and Luke McDonnell
The Original Story: Spider-Man had gotten rid of his black alien costume on the rooftop of a church. Moments later, a disgraced reporter Eddie Brock entered the church to pray for forgiveness for his impending suicide and was greeted by the symbiotic creature. He then became Venom and was obsessed with getting revenge on Spider-Man.
But What If... the Punisher entered the church a couple minutes before Brock? He noticed Spider-Man swinging away and started thinking about him for a second, which was like catnip to the symbiote. It attached itself to him and at first he figured it was some kind of SHIELD tech, not even entertaining the thought that it could be something more sinister.
This is one of the few What If? issues where Daredevil has some kind of supporting role. Usually, unless he’s the star, he just gets a couple panels where he dies. Here, he sees Castle swinging by and can tell that something’s up. Then he even has to team up with Typhoid Mary to protect the Kingpin from this new, deadlier Punisher, who appears to be more violent than ever and on some kind of permanent adrenaline high. In the end, Daredevil teams up with Spider-Man and Moon Knight to put an end to the Punisher’s reign of terror.
This is a definite must-read issue, mainly for how badass Frank is with the costume and when he’s against the costume.
WHAT IF DAREDEVIL HAD SAVED NUKE?
WHAT IF V.2 #48, 1993
Ron Marz and Kevin Kobasic
The Original Story: The psychotic super soldier Nuke was sent to raze Hell’s Kitchen to the ground to draw out Daredevil. During the adventure, he took a bullet to the chest. Daredevil tried to get him to a hospital and save him, but he was too late. Daredevil ended up dumping the dead body onto Ben Urich’s desk.
But What If... he was able to get Nuke to the hospital in time? The doctors were able to stabilize him enough that when Kingpin’s armed goons made a go at them, Daredevil was able to escape with Nuke still breathing. He then kept him in a hiding spot, hoping his enhanced biology would heal itself and if things turned out right enough, he’d be able to use him to help destroy the Kingpin through testimony.
This is a fast-paced issue that doesn’t waste much time, but it’s a lot of fun. To make sure Nuke is taken out of the equation as fast as possible, Kingpin brings Bullseye back into the fold. Even though a good chunk of the comic is dedicated to Daredevil having to rescue Karen from Bullseye and Kingpin, the issue is ultimately about Nuke – despite minimal dialogue – coming into his own and redeeming himself. The ending isn’t too radically different from what happened in main continuity, but Nuke still comes out a winner in this reality. He doesn’t fight for what he’s told is right but for what he knows is right.
WHAT IF THE KINGPIN OWNED DAREDEVIL?
WHAT IF V.2 #73, 1995
DG Chichester and Tom Grindberg
The Original Story: Matt Murdock’s father was taken from him. The blind boy continued his training with the hardened martial arts master Stick, hoping to one day achieve justice. He rose up as both a vigilante and a talented lawyer, becoming the guardian of Hell’s Kitchen.
But What If... Wilson Fisk investigated the murder? It didn’t sit well with him that the Fixer overstepped his boundaries and had Jack Murdock killed, even if it should have been below his notice. Fisk discovered that young Matt had been in regular contact with Stick and Fisk had enough knowledge of that man to know that there must have been something special about this boy. Fisk told Matt that he could try and get revenge himself and likely perish or let Fisk take care of it and have it all wrapped up overnight. Matt understandably chose the easy way.
Matt grows up as Wilson Fisk’s second son, continuing his work to become a top-notch lawyer, though he has an excess of tutors who will teach him everything from genuine law to knowing how to use his own blindness for sympathy. The question arises of whether this situation will lead to Matt becoming corrupt or if he might actually get through to his adopted father.
If you watched through the Daredevilseries and it made you want to read a Daredevil comic, this is a fantastic one-shot that builds on what you’ve learned about the main characters. Not only do we get to see a fascinating look at a world where Fisk and Matt are close, but it goes out of its way to show us what becomes of the would-be supporting people in Matt’s life. What would have become of Foggy, Karen, Elektra, and so on? Would they be better off or worse off?
WHAT IF DAREDEVIL WAS THE DISCIPLE OF DOCTOR STRANGE?
WHAT IF V.2 #83, 1996
Ian Edgington and Mike Baron
The Original Story: Having lost use of his hands in a car accident, egotistical surgeon Stephen Strange searched for a cure, which led to him finding out about the Ancient One. He found answers, but not what he was initially expecting. Rather than return to his life as a doctor, he found enlightenment as Sorcerer Supreme.
But What If... Stick was there to squash the rumors of the Ancient One? As Strange searched for information on the Ancient One, Stick convinced him that the real solution was searching for the Chaste. Dr. Strange’s journey led to him not becoming a top-of-the-line wizard, but a highly-skilled ninja master. Stick then sent him to be the one to train a young Matt Murdock, but Strange wasn’t able to quell the boy’s rage.
This one’s concept is higher than Tommy Chong, but it’s so weird that it kind of works. Dr. Strange had lost Matt to the Hand and moved on to mentoring Elektra. This gives us a completely badass Hand Daredevil outfit that they would introduce into regular continuity during the whole Shadowlandstoryline. It also gives us a Romeo and Juliet story, only with lots of well-drawn ninja action. Really, is there any better selling point than that?
WHAT IF... STARRING DAREDEVIL
WHAT IF V.2 #102, 1997
Bill Rosemann and Hector Collazo
The Original Story: Jack Murdock knew that if he didn’t take a dive against Crusher Creel, his life was over. In the end, he chose pride and the belief that he needed to be a role model for his son, so he knocked out Creel. Jack was killed by the mob for his audacity and Matt would go on to become Daredevil.
But What If... the mobsters warned Jack that they would go after Matt? Jack realized he had no choice. There would be no defiance and mortal sacrifice. The only sacrifice would be his dignity as he faked defeat for the sake of the criminal underworld.
There isn’t much to Jack Murdock’s story. His luster is gone and he never sniffs the top of the ladder ever again. Instead, he takes in-ring beatings until he’s just left in a coma.
Matt, on the other hand, lives his life as he normally would, only to be pulled away by his father’s massive hospital bills. He’s still too young to be a lawyer, so he earns money by following in Jack’s footsteps and becoming a boxer. He’s able to fake having sight and Wilson Fisk ends up buying him. Time starts over again as Matt Murdock is given a title shot and is instructed to stay down. Of course, Matt has too much pride to do something like that...
WHAT IF KAREN PAGE HAD LIVED? (2005)
Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Lark
The Original Story: When facing Bullseye, Daredevil was saved by his longtime friend and occasional lover Karen Page. As Bullseye left, he threw Daredevil’s billy club right at the hero. Karen dove in front of it and sacrificed herself, taking the club to the chest and dying in Matt’s arms. It was later discovered that this was all a plot by a dying Mysterio, who had bought information on Daredevil’s identity from the Kingpin.
But What If... the club didn’t hit Karen in the heart and only put her in critical condition? Nearly losing Karen instead of actually losing her would have driven Matt into a rage and Daredevil would have made a more lethal visit to Wilson Fisk’s home. In a fit of anger, Matt threw his club right into Fisk’s throat, killing him. Too bad Fisk had a failsafe that if anything were to happen to him, proof of Daredevil’s identity would flood the media.
This issue is not very good. I don’t fully blame Bendis for it, since it was originally supposed to be written by Kevin Smith, the guy who killed off Karen originally. It was instead given to Bendis, who is the worst fit for a What If? comic. The guy simply can’t write a normal-sized one-shot where a healthy amount of exposition is part of the narrative. Much like that year’s What If Jessica Jones Joined the Avengers?, Bendis literally spent the first half of the comic retelling the original story. The scene of Daredevil in Karen’s hospital room that starts this reality tangent is the 11th page out of 23 and that’s including double-page spreads.
Plus the story is just mean. It’s not so much a story as it’s a series of burials and feel-bad moments. It isn’t all that much different than how Bendis’ Daredevilrun would finally end, only with more finality due to being non-canon and not having to deal with the status quo. Don’t read it unless you’re a Bendis completist or you just want to be thoroughly depressed.
WHAT IF? FEATURING DAREDEVIL (2006)
Rick Veitch and Tommy Lee Edwards
The Original Story: Daredevil is Matt Murdock, a swashbuckling vigilante and also lawyer who fights crime on two levels, mostly against a big, fat criminal mastermind. He also has an assassins ex-girlfriend and a nemesis who has really good aim. He does all of this in the present day in New York City.
But What If... it took place in Feudal Japan? This came out during a really weird year of What If?releases where instead of just being one thing that changed the course of history, the issues took place in one alternate Earth where everything was different. On Earth-616, a hacker calling himself the Watcher was able to hack into another reality and, through reading its internet, realize the many differences between worlds. This included stuff like Wolverine being the Punisher of the 1930s, Thor being the Herald of Galactus, the Fantastic Four being Soviets, and Daredevil being a samurai.
It maps out the usual Daredevil origin tropes with a samurai bend. Japan is run by the Emperor, but he is in the pocket of the large-and-in-charge Shogun (who practices sumo because he’s fat and it’s Japan). A ronin called the Old Devil runs afoul of one of the Shogun’s men named the Owl and his son Masahiro is mystically blinded. To save his son’s sight, Old Devil is tasked with destroying a boat of visiting Americans so that he can steal their rifles for the Shogun. He ends up destroying the rifles, gets killed for his betrayal, and his buddy Stick secretly raises and trains Masahiro into being a warrior known as the Devil Who Dares. Elektra’s tossed in there as the daughter of slain Greek ambassadors turned into a vengeful concubine and you have a pretty basic story.
What’s interesting in it is that on that destroyed American boat is Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson. Murdock survives the attack and becomes a rifle-using marksman calling himself Bullseye. Yes, this story features both a guy who is Daredevil and a guy who is Matt Murdock. It ends up coming together very nicely and the art is a treat as well.
WHAT IF? DAREDEVIL VS. ELEKTRA (2010)
Karl Bollers and Rafael Kayanan
The Original Story: Matt Murdock and Elektra Natchios were college lovers. As terrorists attempted to kidnap Elektra’s father, Matt donned a mask and helped take them down. The authorities got a little overzealous and opened fire at the window when Elektra’s father had his back to it. He was gunned down and died. It broke Elektra and she went on to become a cold, high-ranking assassin. Eventually, she was killed and brought back to life by the Hand.
But What If... it was Matt who got shot up? His attempts to stop the terrorists led to him struggling with one of them in front of the window, causing him to get filled with a couple sniper rounds. A week later, Nick Fury found Matt’s grave to be empty. A blind man fighting off several armed men seemed impossible and the Hand was interested in investigating that.
Years later, Elektra is not an assassin, but an agent of SHIELD. The “Born Again” Matt Murdock has overtaken the Hand and now calls himself the Advocate, a clever name it took me a while to get. SHIELD is after him after the slaughter of the Kingpin and his employees. Let me tell you, if any part of this issue is fun to read, it’s Fisk sending Bullseye after the Advocate and watching him get taken apart like he was nothing. Especially with the sweet Kayanan art.
Elektra’s world is torn down piece by piece and ultimately she’s trained by Stick and put in charge of creating a reborn Caste. Together, she and her team go after the Hand while she holds out hope that she can get through to Matt Murdock or at least put an end to his reign of terror.
In the past few years, they’ve relaxed on doing What If? comics a bit and considering New Avengers and Secret Wars has been vaporizing all the different alternate universes, who knows if we’ll see another take on Daredevil like this in the future. Are there any cool What If? ideas you’d like to see Daredevil star in? Sound off in the comments!
Gavin Jasper has spent years wanting a comic where Daredevil ended up on Battleworld instead of Spider-Man and donned the black costume. Follow Gavin on Twitter!
These characters have met their demise on the HBO series but are still alive and kicking in the literary "A Song of Ice and Fire."
Both in books and on television, Game of Thrones is one of the bloodiest fantasy stories ever told. It seems like every week on TV or in every chapter of the stirring book series, someone is murdered, executed, stabbed, bludgeoned, burnt, killed by disease, eaten, or drowned. Well, would you believe that there is even MORE death on TV than there is in the books?
That’s right, on HBO characters who have died still draw breath in George R.R. Martin’s epic book series. So join us as we take a look at those characters that we have had to bid farewell to on television that are still playing the game of thrones in the novels.
Who can forget brave Grenn’s death in season four of Game of Thrones? Who can forget Grenn and his boys bravely reciting the oath of the Night’s Watch’s as Mag the Mighty, ancient king of the giants, charges the gate that would not hold? Grenn and his companions were all that stood between the Watch and certain death, and Grenn stayed proudly and defiantly...and Grenn then died.
It was one of the most stirring and epic moments of season four and one that will not be soon forgotten. But in George R.R. Martin’s books, Grenn is alive, still serving in the Night’s Watch. Grenn pops up in A Feast For Crows and in A Dance With Dragons, and is still loyal to his new Lord Commander Jon Snow. Grenn doesn’t do much in either of those books, which is perhaps why he was chosen by the Game of Thrones showrunners to make his most noble of sacrifices in season four. In the show, Grenn will always stand out as a stirring example of bravery and sacrifice as he fell so his brothers could live, defeating impossible odds along the way. But in the book, Grenn continues to fight the good fight, because his Watch has not yet ended.
In the same battle that took Grenn’s life in Game of Thrones, the loyal Crow Pyp also died, albeit not as dramatically as his brother in black. Pyp died fighting on the Wall side by side with Samwell Tarly. It was quite a shocking moment for "A Song of Ice and Fire" fans when Pyp, a character still alive in the books, took a Wildling arrow to the throat. Right there, even readers knew that the stakes in the war with the Wildlings was high, and truly, no one would be safe no matter what happened to a character’s literary equivalent.
In truth, Pyp doesn’t have a huge role to play after the battle with the Wildlings, but he is still there on the Wall, serving under Lord Commander Snow. In fact, Pyp seems to resent Snow in the books, a feeling that some of Snow’s old comrades share as the bastard of Winterfell becomes more withdrawn due to his new responsibilities. Well, on TV, Pyp will not feel resentful of Jon Snow or anyone else, not after that shocking arrow pierced his windpipe silencing this mummer’s son forevermore.
Whether it is in the books or in the TV series, Catelyn’s death is arguably the most brutal, unfair, and crushing death of Martin’s entire saga. When the Frey knife opens Catelyn’s throat, the book series lost one of its most capable and fair-minded players.
In the series, Catelyn tragically remains dead, but in the books, oh by the Seven that in the books, Catelyn rises thanks to the magic of Beric Dondarrion. Catelyn rises and the Seven Kingdoms must face the fury of Stoneheart, a viciously vengeful version of the fallen Stark matriarch out to crush the enemies who took her beloved family’s lives. Whether HBO fans will ever come face to face with this lady of vengeance remains to be seen, but as for now, Lady Stoneheart, the brutal mockery of a once noble lady, is a horror only fans of the books have had to endure.
On HBO, poor Jojen Reed’s visions did not help him survive an assault of the undead...or from having his throat slit by his own sister...or from being blown up real good by a little elf kid’s fireball.
But in the novel series, Jojen lives and is still dwelling with his dear sister Meera, Bran, Hodor, Coldhands, and the Children of the Forest. Actor Thomas Brodie-Sangster was brilliant as the prophetic young ally of Bran Stark, but we had to bid farewell to him in season four as he led his group to meet the Children of the Forest; it’s a darn shame too since we will no longer be able to enjoy the young actor’s skills. But we will be able to experience more Jojen when Martin’s next novel hits.
Willis Wode was a warrior who swears loyalty to Catelyn Stark at the Crossroads Inn when she takes Tyrion Lannister prisoner. In the books, Wode successfully helps Catelyn navigate the Mountains of the Moon and also helps her survive the attack of the Hill Tribe. He bears witness to Tyrion’s first trial by combat where Bronn defended Tyrion at the Eyrie, and is still currently alive and kicking, although his whereabouts are unknown. Wode witnessed all these iconic GoT moments and lived to tell the tale; on television, Wode was killed by the Hill Tribes while defending Lady Catelyn, causing the Starks and Tullys to lose a staunch defender.
Mago was the unfortunate bloodrider who insulted Daenerys and had his tongue ripped out of his throat by Khal Drogo for daring to speak ill of the Khal’s moon and stars on Game of Thrones. The death of Mago punctuated just how badass Drogo could be, particularly when challenged. I mean, he pulled the dude’s tongue of his throat! Yet, in the books, Mago insults Khaleesi and lives to tell the tale. When Daenerys forbids the Khalasar from gang raping its prisoners, this creates a ton of bad blood between some of Drogo’s men and their Khaleesi.
When Drogo falls ill, Mago declares himself Khal and takes the women back that Daenerys spared from him. The Mother of Dragons swears vengeance but as of yet, Daenerys Stormborn has yet to deliver her fiery retribution on Mago, who still rides the grass sea as Khal in the Game of Thrones novels.
Where Mago betrays and abandons his Khaleesi, the bloodrider Rakharo stayed loyal to his queen and joined her as she transverses the Red Waste. Sadly for Rakharo, when Khaleesi’s loyal follower goes on a scouting mission, he does not survive the HBO experience. In a tragic moment, Daenerys and company find Rakharo’s stallion with the bloodrider’s head stuffed in one of his own saddle bags.
The true tragedy is that without a whole body, according to Dothraki legend, Rakharo won’t be able to complete his journey to the Night Lands and his eternal reward. In the books, it is Dany’s handmaiden Doreah who dies in the Red Waste of exposure and illness, as Rakharo not only survives the harrowing journey but still serves at his Khaleesi’s side to this day.
Qarth's Council of Thirteen
Who can forget the moment the ghostly doppelgangers of Pyat Pree slew Qarth’s Council of Thirteen in front of a stunned Daenerys? When Dany left Qarth, she left its ruling class in ruins, showing every city across the Narrow Sea that Daenerys Targaryen is not a woman to be trifled with. However in the novels, the Council stands and remains in control after Dany leaves Qarth. In fact, after Khaleesi’s dragons burned the House of the Undying, Dany flees Qarth because the Council orders her death. So in the books, the governing body of Qarth is still an enemy of the Mother of Dragons while on the show, the corpses of the Thirteen have long turned cold.
Pyat Pree murdered the Council of Qarth on HBO only to be burned by Khaleesi’s dragons. But in the literary world of Westeros, this terrifying mystic still poses a threat to the ambitions of Daenerys Stormborn. First off, man, is Dany’s arc different in the books, and second, the TV version of the Mother of Dragons may have been wiser than her literary counterpart, because TV Dany executed this dangerous blue lipped wizard.
In the books, Dany burns the House of the Undying, but Pyat Pree lives. In fact, in A Dance With Dragons, Dany is warned that Pree and three of his warlock followers are still hunting Daenerys. In the books, Dany still must have a reckoning with Pree, while in the series, Pree is a threat long dead thanks to a blast of dragon breath.
Xaro Xhoan Daxos
Ah, poor Xaro Xhoan Daxos, having the hardest name to type in all of the Seven Kingdoms did not stop this chilling and memorable HBO death. Remember, Xaro Xhoan Daxos was locked in an impenetrable vault for helping Pyat Pree steal Khaleesi’s dragons? Well in the novels, Xaro Xhoan Daxos seems utterly devoted to Dany and begs the Mother of Dragons for her hand in marriage.
The always wise Dany suspects that Xaro Xhoan Daxos only wants to marry so he can claim one of her dragons as part of an ancient Qartheen marriage custom. Despite his machinations, Xaro Xhoan Daxos never betrays Dany and so he still lives. In A Dance With Dragons, it is revealed that Dany’s actions have disrupted Xaro Xhoan Daxos’ slave trade. He offers her a fleet of ships provided she leaves for Westeros to finally take the Iron Throne. Dany refuses the gift angering Xaro Xhoan Daxos, who leaves a bloody glove for Dany on a silk pillow, a symbol of war between Qarth and the Mother of Dragons. It seems that Xaro Xhoan Daxos’ death might be coming after all but it won’t be in the fateful vault in Qarth, the location of the slave trader’s death on television.
Poor loyal Irri, killed when Pyat Pree stole Khaleesi’s dragons. In the book, Irri is Dany’s loyal handmaiden, instructor in the sexual arts, friend, confidant, and even paramour. But on TV, Irri’s fate was to bleed out on a cold stone floor, caught in a struggle for power between her Khaleesi and the warlocks of Qarth. Literary Irri is even still among the living in A Dance With Dragons, as she argues with Jhiqui over the affections of the still living Rakharo. So what have we learned from this list? It is more dangerous to be a supporting character of Daenerys Targaryen than it is to be a red shirt on the Starship Enterprise.
Joyeuse, Walder Frey's Wife
The most shocking moment of HBO’s Game of Thronesunquestionably is the Red Wedding. Starting with the death of Robb Stark’s wife Talisa, the gore just flows faster and redder than in a climax to a Lucio Fulci film. One of the victims of the TV’s Red Wedding was Walder Frey’s wife, Joyeuse. Of course, the disgusting and traitorous Frey has had many wives, so the brutal patron of House Frey sheds no tears when a devastated Catelyn Stark carves a new smile in Joyeuse’s throat.
Yet, in the books, Joyeuse is alive and well (as well as one can be living under that letch Walder Frey). The last time readers saw Joyeuse, it was revealed she was pregnant (I guess Walder still has some wildfire in the flask). On TV, there will be no little Freys being produced by Joyeuse for she was the final victim of the eternal rage of Catelyn Stark.
What was I saying about the dangers of running with the TV version of Khaleesi? In the books, Barristan Selmy is Daenerys’ most trusted advisor after the exile of Ser Jorah Mormont . The old ser advises Khaleesi and even lends his sword to her cause on numerous occasions. He is still with Dany at the end of A Dance With Dragons and seems to have a huge role to play if Dany ever crosses the Narrow Sea to take the Iron Throne. But in the show, he is dead, murdered after a brave standoff with the Sons of the Harpy. How Barristan’s death will impact the narrative of HBO’s epic remains to be seen, but Ser Barristan still has a literary role to play in Game of Thrones. Man, Khaleesi really has to start giving workman’s comp.
Speaking of the Freys, Old Walder himself, the traitor of the Starks, still draws putrid death. While the Frey patriarch met a delicious fate on Game of Thrones when Arya Stark pulled his head back and slit his throat after going all Titus Andronicus on his kids, this heady moment continues to be merely wish fulfillment on the page.
Walder has lost several children to Lady Stoneheart, Catelyn Stark’s undead alias, but the old bastard remains safe behind his walls at the Twins while Arya Stark is still an ocean away in Essos.
Because of Cersei Lannister’s action at the Sept of Baelor (y’know, when she blew the whole damn thing to the Seven Hells), this list of Game of Thrones characters that are dead on TV but not in the novels has gotten considerably longer. Blowing the Sept was truly Cersei’s most cunning and vile act, and in doing so, the Queen Regent took out many of her greatest enemies.
Most prominent of these enemies is Margaery Tyrell, the queen that was younger, more beloved, and seemingly at times, more cunning at the Great Game than Cersei. But Cersei proved that not to be the case. With one brilliantly timed explosion, Margaery and all the threats the young, brilliant, and beautiful Tyrell queen represented was nothing but cinder and ash.
Yet in the novels, Margaery still lives. When last we saw King Tommen’s beloved, Margaery had been arrested and set for trial by the High Septon and the Faith. This arrest of Margaery also led to the arrest of Cersei as King’s Landing stands ready for two royal trials. In the TV series those trials never came, but in the books, Margaery still stands, ready to prove to the Seven Kingdoms who the true queen is. With Margaery awaiting trial, the tragedy at the Great Sept is still in play, but the question remains, does Mr. Martin have plans for Margaery or will the literary version of the Tyrell queen also be burnt to nothingness by Cersei’s wrath?
Like Margaery, Loras Tyrell, the Knight of Flowers, also was consumed by the fires of Baelor. But while actor Finn Jones went from Westeros to the Marvel Universe so he could endlessly declare that he is the immortal Iron Fist, Jones’ Loras Tyrell smoldered by his sister’s side. Not so in the novels.
In the books, Loras is still alive—barely. Loras was gravely injured in a violent Lannister siege of Dragonstone. In A Dance with Dragons, it is revealed that Loras is horrifically injured but not dead yet. It seems like Martin might have plans remaining for the Knight of Flowers. We may see the destruction of the Tyrell line in the books yet, but it seems like, due to his injuries, Loras won’t be anywhere near Baelor if Cersei’s plans come to fruition in Martin’s next tome.
The High Sparrow
And the High Sparrow who kept the Tyrell siblings trapped in the Great Sept also met his fiery and deserved end. He thought he could play the game of thrones and topple the elite, but he couldn't take good advice from one of them (who also was a woman). And his pride cameth before the emerald-tinted fall.
Lady Olenna Tyrell
The Queen of Thorns may have escaped the destruction of her clan during the burning of the Great Sept, but the old, brilliant OG of the Tyrell family still met her end like a boss thanks to a cup of poison served by Jaimie Lannister. But not before Olenna pimp slapped the Kingslayer by revealing that it was she who murdered King Joffrey on his wedding day. Olenna’s words will forever echo in Jaime’s ears as she went out on her own terms, proud and unbroken.
The literary Olenna is still alive to scheme and plot, and eat as many prunes as she damn well pleases in Martin’s text. The books make it very clear that the Queen of Thorns was indeed responsible for Joffrey’s brutal and oh, so satisfying assassination. It remains to be seen what the still living Lady Olenna and all her connections in High Garden have in store for Cersei and the Iron Throne.
Last season, fans were horrified to bear witness when Cersei Lannister imprisoned Ellaria Sand and forced the former consort of Oberyn Martell to watch the slow and painful death of her beloved daughter. Ellaria might also still be alive in the bowels of the Red Keep, but as her daughter died before her eyes and she is left to rot… does that really count as living?
But things are a bit more complex when it comes to the literary Ellaria Sand because the TV Ellaria Sand is an amalgamation of two characters. The TV series basically morphs the book arcs of the literary Ellaria and one Arrianne Martell. Arrianne swears vengeance against the Lannisters and plots in Dorne while Ellaria leads her Sand Snakes. Ellaria was forced to witness Oberyn’s death at King’s Landing at the hands of the Mountain while Arrianne stays back in Dorne and plots vengeance.
So you can see that the TV version of Ellaria basically mashed together into one narrative, a tale that ended with Cersei’s cruel kiss. But both parts of TV’s Ellaria Sand are still alive and well in the book, although Arrianne’s plot was discovered by an unimpressed Prince Doran in the book, and we know not what will come next for the princess. Still, we think her odds are better than either television’s Doran or Ellaria, as Doran is secretly plotting to align his family with the Targaryens in the books still (although as his second son, who isn’t in the show, died in Meereen while courting Dany, that might change…)
He rules yet in the books, despite being assassinated by Ellaria on the show.
The Sand Snakes
Like Ellaria, the book version of the Sand Snakes are still stabbing, whipping, and flaying their way into legend. Obara, Obella, Tyene, Elia, Loreza, and the rest of Oberyn Martell’s bastard daughters are ready to take the fight to the Lannisters as the plotting of the Dornish continues unabated in the novels. TV’s Cersei and Euron Greyjoy might have ended the threats of the Tyrells and the Martells, but the book Cersei still has both families to contend with. The Sand Snakes are also making Lannister loyalists bleed in Martin’s world of prose and that can only lead to more violence and chaos for all involved. Euron Greyjoy may have ended the threat of the Sand Snakes on TV, but the Greyjoys and the Sands have yet to meet in the novels and it does not look like their paths will cross anytime soon.
Who can ever forget the Battle of the Bastards? What Game of Thrones fan doesn’t have the indelible image of Jon Snow and Sansa Stark taking back Winterfell from the ultra-violent Bastard of Bolton burned into their brain? Of course it all ends with Bolton’s own dogs making a chew toy of the Bastard’s face meaning that Ramsay Bolton is no longer a threat on TV. In fact, the novel’s Bastard of Bolton’s tale diverges significantly from the sadist featured on the HBO series.
In the book, Bolton did not marry Sansa, he has yet to kill his father Roose Bolton, and his central scheme centers on a mummer’s farce marriage to a faux Arya Stark. Bolton is still a major literary player and is ready to geld Westeros. Can you just imagine how Martin would make with the blood red narrative in his version of the Battle of the Bastards? It’s all possible because Ramsey Bolton has yet to become prose puppy chow.
We should also note that Roose is also still technically the Warden in the North. His son hasn’t betrayed him either, albeit that is because Roose has already let Ramsay murder another bastard without repercussions and his wife has yet to give birth to a threat to Ramsay’s claim. And it may not matter either, because even though Ramsay claims in A Dance with Dragons to have defeated Stannis Baratheon’s army (we haven’t had confirmation yet on the page if this is the truth), the North remains much more loyal to the Starks in the books. And Lord Manderly has a scheme that could spell Roose’s death.
Also on the note of the Boltons, the fate of Stannis Bolton is still unknown in the books. When last we left off with the man who would call himself king, Stannis appeared to be heading to a possible defeat as he marched on Winterfell with an army drowned in early winter snow. However, he was still alive and notably, his sweet daughter Shireen was nowhere to be seen.
Conversely, he is as dead as Jacob Marley on the show, defeated before the walls of Winterfell and then summarily executed by Brienne of Tarth. But given what he did in his final days, no one really misses the TV version of the brittle monarch.
Selyse Baratheon is also still alive in the show, far from going the full Lady Macbeth on herself in the woods. However, she is keeping Shireen, a daughter she loathes, pretty close to herself and the Red Witch. So there's time...
Oh, poor innocent Shireen! The pain is still too great to speak more than fleetingly about, but the sweet child lives still in the books! But as according to the showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, this poor babe has already been conscripted to the flames by George R.R. Martin... who told them about this horribleness.
Also on the count of belvoed characters, we were forced to say goodbye to Hodor in an end that Martin likewise concocted. Which explains why, like Shireen, it hurts so much. You'll never hear "hold the door" the same way again.
The Three-Eyed Raven
Also on that count, Max von Sydow's mentor is still being a mentor to Bran.
Randyll and Dickon Tarly
Sam Tarly also is now heir apparent to Horn Hill since his father and brother have been turned to ash. Randyll Tarly was obviously a bastard and had it coming, but at least on the show Dickon didn't seem like a bad bloke. He just had a bad father who led him to ruin. On the page, however, they're still riding around, and in fact Randyll is riding to King's Landing to aid in the rescue of Margaery Tyrell, and to see Cersei taken to justice. This makes his bending the knee to Queen Cersei still seem like an invention of narrative convenience on the television show's part.
And thus fell, Petyr Baelish, one of the major players of the Great Game. The combined brilliance of Arya and Sansa Stark finally outplayed Lord Littlefinger and the conniving Lord of the Vale bled out on Winterfell’s great hall floor. The TV Littlefinger that is, because in the books, Littlefinger is still moving his pieces and his end game is still unknown.
As stated, in the novels, Littlefinger does not marry Sansa off to Ramsey Bolton and is still playing that long game. When last we saw Littlefinger in A Feast for Crows, he was Lord Protector of the Vale, plotting to win the Lords of the Vale over to his side. Only Littlefinger knows that Sansa is actually disguised as a simple servant girl. He is Sansa’s protector, but I think we all know that Littlefinger’s attentions are never pure of heart.
Literary Littlefinger controls the Vale and he controls Sansa, and he is just beginning to plot to take Winterfell back from the Boltons. This all could put him at odds with the Stark sisters if Sansa and Arya ever enjoy the same reunion they do on TV. But truthfully, Littlefinger has yet to make some of the same repellant moves in the books that he did on TV. There’s no forced marriage to Roose Bolton, and the book Baelish seems to be playing a much longer and subtler game than he did on HBO. Whatever Littlefinger’s fate, he is still plotting and conniving with Sansa Stark as his favored game piece. But he should always be wary because Arya Stark’s dagger is waiting should Littlefinger step out of line. Until then, in Martin’s tale, the Game continues with Littlefinger still holding the dice.
Thoros of Myr
Ah Thoros, he met a violent end at the hands of the White Walkers when the greatest D&D party of them all led by Jon Snow quested to capture a Wight. Thoros was the first to fall and his flaming sword and bravery (and penchant for potent mead) will not be forgotten. In the books, Thoros is part of a different party, a grouping led by Lady Stoneheart, the undead, vengeful Catelyn Stark. Thoros is troubled by Stoneheart’s methods, and who wouldn’t be, as the Red Priest and his Brotherhood without Banners continue to serve as Stoneheart’s enforcers.
When last readers met Thoros in A Feast for Crows, Thoros is protesting some of the former Lady Stark’s more violent methods. Will Thoros still be loyal to Stoneheart or will he somehow find his way to the side of his fellow worshipper of R’hllor, the Red Witch Malisandre? Whatever the case, the blazing sword and good heart of everyone’s favorite drunken cleric still serve the Lord of Light. Just not on HBO, alas.
Gwenda Bond will write an Eleven-centric novel as part of a series of Stranger Things companion books for adults and younger readers.
Stranger Things is coming to your local bookstore! Penguin Random House and Netflix have put together a deal for worldwide distribution of a series of companion novels based on the popular original series from the streaming giant. While some titles are for younger readers, one title coming next spring seems particularly intriguing: a prequel centering around Eleven’s mother and the MKUltra program, which played a significant part in giving the young girl her powers of the mind.
Gwenda Bond, who is known for her body of work in young adult literature including Girl on a Wire and Lois Lane: Fallout, will write the prequel. Earlier releases this fall include a behind the scenes companion entitled Stranger Things: World Turned Upside Down and an as-yet untitled gift book which will offer, according to the publisher, “advice, wisdom, and warnings from the Stranger Things world.”
Additional books are scheduled for the latter part of 2019, but this initial run is sure to satisfy those waiting for news about Stranger Things season 3. Although casting news has been enticing with announcements that Cary Elwes, Jake Busey, and Francesca Reale will be joining the cast, the books will be a nice way to tide fans over until the release date, which should also be in early 2019.
The Stranger Things novel companion series will appear first in the US and UK under the imprints of Del Rey Books, Random House Children’s Books, Cornerstone Publishing, and Penguin Random House Children’s UK, with international distribution to follow.
The leader of the All-Starr band admits all he’s got are some photographs for Ringo Starr: Another Day In The Life.
Ringo Starr bought a Pentax in Japan the first time The Beatles toured there and has had an eye behind the lens ever since. One of his first solo hits, written with George Harrison, was “Photograph.” Credited as Richard Starkey M.B.E., he was the director of photography for the band’s surreal film Magical Mystery Tour. Now that he’s a knight, and a hard day’s one at that, he’s putting out a scrapbook, Another Day In The Life, capturing his photographic art.
“I love taking photos of random things, and seeing how they all fit together,” Ringo said in a statement. “Whether it is at home or on the road, certain things catch my eye – and when I see something that interests me, that’s the emotion of it, and I want to capture it. I am a photographer as well as a musician.”
This is Ringo’s third photo album following the sell-out success of Postcards From The Boys (2003) and Photograph (2013). The book will be published by Genesis this fall. David Letterman once joked that a new edition of The Beatles’ Anthology was coming out because Ringo remembered a new anecdote. The book will present a “previously unpublished collection of his photographs, captioned with his own thoughts and anecdotes,” according to the web site.
“Reflecting his love of music, travel and nature, Another Day In The Life shows us the world as seen through Ringo's eyes," reads a statement. "From Los Angeles to Tokyo and everywhere in between, many of Ringo's observational images celebrate the quirkiness of life. Other photographs are taken behind the scenes during historic events, such as Ringo's acceptance of a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and his return to New York's Plaza Hotel, 50 years after The Beatles first visited the USA. Featuring Paul McCartney, Joe Walsh and a host of All-Starr friends, Another Day In The Life shares personal moments from Ringo Starr's legendary life in music, and offers a unique and inspiring look at the world around us."
Photos include Starr receiving a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and his return to New York's Plaza Hotel, 50 years after the Beatles first visited the United States. The book's cover is designed by Shepard Fairey.
The book’s release will coincide with Starr’s previously announced tour of North America. Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band will perform 20 shows in September. The 2018 edition of Ringo's All-Starrs adds first-time member Graham Gouldman from 10cc, who put thousands of overdubs on their etheric love denial song “I'm Not In Love,” but admitted it was one of the “Things We Do For Love.” Colin Hay from Men At Work, which comes from “Land Down Under,” will also be returning. Steve Lukather, the guitarist from Toto, keyboardist Gregg Rolie from Santana continue on from the 2017 tour. The beats will be laid by drummer Gregg Bissonnette and percussionist Warren Ham, who doubles on sax. Todd Rundgren and Richard Page made other plans this year.
Starr released his most recent album, Give More Love, in 2017.
Ringo Starr: Another Day in the Life will be available in the fall.
The Marvel reboot rolls on with Ta-Nehisi Coates writing a new Captain America series.
The current Captain America title by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee just came to a close. To take its place, Marvel is launching a new Captain America series in July as part of their "Fresh Start" reboot initiative. And they've enlisted none other than current Black Panther writer Ta-Nehisi Coates to guide Steve Rogers' adventures.
“I think it’s a really exciting time to be writing Captain America right now,” Coates said in a statement. “The country is in an interesting place, and I look forward to inhabiting Steve Rogers’ character - this guy who has been a sort of awkward fit for the world, out of time as people say. I hope fans are excited to see something different, and I think there are some really compelling villains old school Captain America fans and Marvel fans will be familiar with.”
Coates went into more detail about why he decided to take on writing Captain America in an essay at The Atlantic. It's definitely worth a read, and he'll certainly bring a different focus to the character.
“Finding the right voice to tell the tales of Marvel's beloved characters is never an easy task, but when it came time to hire the new hand to guide Captain America, we just knew it had to be Ta-Nehisi Coates!” added Editor-In-Chief C.B. Cebulski. “After re-inventing the Black Panther for the modern era, Ta-Nehisi now brings his sharp scripting sensibilities to Steve Rogers and his new place in the Marvel Universe. With Leinil Yu and Sunny Gho bringing all the incredible action to life in big, bold visuals, you will not be able to put this book down. And our launch is timed perfectly for release on the Fourth of July!”
Coates will be joined by Leinil Francis Yu on art, while Alex Ross will provide painted covers for the series. The first Coates/Yu Captain America story will appear in the Avengers/Captain America Free Comic Book Day Special, which arrives on May 5. This is all good news, but what is also good news is that Captain America will not take the place of Black Panther on Coates slate. Considering his two years and counting on Black Panther have been some of the best in the character's history, it's great to hear he has room on his schedule for both.
Check out the trailer Marvel released to celebrate the new series...
The new Captain America series launches, appropriately enough, on the Fourth of July.
In this exclusive preview, Riddler is trying to get a date to the wedding of the century.
There aren't enough one-offs in modern comics. It struck me as I was looking through last week's Prelude to the [Batman and Catwoman] Wedding: Nightwing vs.Hush that it was the kind of story that doesn't really happen anymore.
DC is running check ins with the associated Bat-family ahead of the Batman #50 mega event. The first was Damian and Ra's al Ghul, a lovely story about Batman's son and fiancee building a relationship with each other. The second, the above-mentioned Nightwing vs. Hush, was a character exploration specifically of Dick Grayson. It was also a lot of fun.
Let's be upfront about this: these books are mostly fluff. They probably won't turn the course of the meta-narrative in the main Batman stories (though the Hush revalation might stick for a while). But their value lies precisely in the lack of pressure that's put on the story. In big or even regular comics, part of the job is character development, but part of it is moving the characters from point A to point B. In one-offs like these, the only thing that matters, what they succeed and fail on is the craft and skill of character development. In that, Tim Seeley, the writer of these tie-ins, is doing a wonderful job. Both issues have had really nice character moments for Damian, Catwoman and Nightwing, and an interesting dig into the psyche of Hush.
That looks to continue here, in Prelude to the Wedding: Batgirl vs. the Riddler. DC sent over an exclusive glimpse at it. Here's what they have to say about the issue.
BATMAN: PRELUDE TO THE WEDDING — BATGIRL VS. THE RIDDLER #1 Written by TIM SEELEY • Art by MINKYU JUNGCover by RAFAEL ALBUQUERQUEOn the eve of Batman’s wedding to Catwoman, two of Gotham City’s finest minds clash. In her role as Oracle, Barbara Gordon wired all of her allies together. But when The Riddler takes on Batgirl, will he tear everything asunder?
This is a good pairing with a great cover. Check it out.
Geoff Johns has launched Mad Ghost Entertainment, and he will work exclusively with Warner Bros. to bring more DC to the page and screen.
The DC Entertainment shakeup continues. Just days after the announcement that Diane Nelson has left the company, Geoff Johns, who has served as Chief Creative Officer at DC Entertainment and co-chair of DC Films, is relinquishing his post to spend more time on the creative end of the business. To that end, he's launched Mad Ghost Productions, where he will take a more hands-on role writing and producing comics, movies, and TV featuring DC characters.
“Geoff is a super talented writer and truly embedded in the DC Universe and its characters,” said Toby Emmerich, Chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures Group in a statement. “We’re thrilled that he’s returning to his passion and his roots as a writer and producer. And, it’s even better that he’s staying in our Warner Bros. family. We look forward to working with him on Green Lantern and other projects going forward.”
“Geoff is one of DC Comics’ most prolific writers, and we can’t wait to see what he does next now that he will be dedicating 100 percent of his time to telling the best DC stories possible across all media," added DC co-publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee. “The new publishing projects we are working on together will be instant fan-favorites.”
“I took on a role at DCE because I love the characters and this universe more than anything. But, I want to spend my days writing and on set. I’m thrilled to get back to a more hands-on creative role. It’s a dream job on dream projects, reaching even deeper into DC’s vast pantheon of characters,” said Johns. “I’m also excited to continue to work with the amazing team at DCE and my colleagues at Warner Bros.”
Johns already has a full dance card at DC Entertainment, and there are some new details that have come to light alongside this announcement. He is writing and executive producing Wonder Woman 2 alongside Patty Jenkins, he'll be writing and producing the Green Lantern Corps movie (characters he has a long history with), and he co-wrote and executive produced this December's Aquaman movie. He's also serving as executive producer and writer on the upcoming Titans and Doom Patrol series for the DC Universe streaming service.
On the comics end of things, Watchmen sequel Doomsday Clock will continue over the next year on a bi-monthly schedule and he'll launch a brand new Shazam! series (artist to be announced) this fall in advance of that film's spring 2019 release. His long promised "Three Jokers" story will finally be told (with Jason Fabok on art), and he'll launch a new imprint at DC Comics, known as The Killing Zone, which will focus "on new and lesser known DC characters and titles."
Freeing Johns up to spend more time on the creative end of the DC Universe, on both page and screen, seems like the right idea. It has been two years since DC Comics relaunched their entire line with the Rebirth initiative, a back-to-basics approach championed by Johns, which resulted in some of the publisher's best work in a decade. He has helped develop nearly every DC superhero TV show of the last few years, all of which feel very much in the spirit of what the characters should be. Giving him more freedom to write and consult should only help the film division, which, despite the commercial successes of Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, has struggled to capture the heart of the characters the way 2017's Wonder Woman, a notable critical and commercial success, did.
The Game of Thrones spinoff prequel will be set in the golden Age of Heroes. Here are 11 tales from that era that are ripe for exploration.
While Game of Thrones is poised to meet the Many-Faced God of TV Death next year, our dance with George R.R. Martin’s dragons has only just begun. Indeed, HBO famously commissioned the development of five pilots last year, all potential prequels set at different points in the Westerosi timeline. Now at least one has been ordered to pilot: Jane Goldman’s spinoff set thousands of years ago during “the golden Age of Heroes.” The developing series is immediately intriguing for more than just its Game of Thrones pedigree. After all, Goldman co-wrote the screenplay adaptations for Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class, Kingsman, and most fortuitously Stardust. The latter might even be a guide to how she and Martin (who co-created the overarching storyline for Goldman’s prequel series) will seek to differentiate the Game of Thrones prequel spinoff with the mainline series. Nevertheless, we know it is set in one Westeros’ most mythical and enigmatic eras.
From the tidbits scattered throughout the trenchant tomes that comprise Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire”—as well as the many secondary texts he’s had published about Westeros over the years—we know the Age of Heroes was a time of high fantasy and vast magic. It also was vast, period. Lasting for about nearly 4,000 years, it really is impossible to say we know what will happen. Still, we can take an educated guess as to what might happen based on some of the most popular stories from that period which have been passed down to curious Bran Stark while sitting on Old Gran’s knee, or to a skeptical Tyrion bored with his own mythologized lineage. This was supposedly the time of Bran the Builder and the Kings of Winter; the time of children’s laughter in the forest and ice spiders in the dark; the time of Heroes.
Different Bran, Same Wall
Perhaps the most seismic event that occurred in the Age of Heroes is Brandon the Builder constructing the Wall that guards the realm of men (and decided who was free to travel where they please, and who was doomed to live forever in the land of eternal winter).
In actuality the entire series might very well build to this major development, given the Wall was constructed at the end of the Age of Heroes after the Long Night. We already know from HBO’s official synopsis that we will study the “true origin of the White Walkers… and the Starks of legend.” This in itself clues us into the idea that it will be set in the middle of the Age of Heroes, which was about 8,000 years before Game of Thrones. After the Long Night (more on that later), Brandon Stark according to legend built the Wall of ice, either with magic or the aid of giants, depending on who you ask.
From that day forward the Night’s Watch was formed, and unlike in the current timeline, they were an order of the highest regard, situated just north of Winterfell. In fact, Brandon Stark is also alleged to have masterminded the construction of Winterfell’s ancestral seat (we wouldn’t be shocked if it’s revealed he only built one or the other in the series and perhaps took credit for both). It is in Winterfell he was named the first King in the North, with a lineage that spans all the way to Eddard Stark and his progeny on the current Game of Thrones. Albeit, the Kings of Winter lost their crowns when Torrhen Stark became “the King Who Knelt” before Aegon the Conqueror about 300 years before Jon Snow was born.
A story of how the Starks came to power, perhaps not so heroically as we once were led to believe, might be worth a long series. One even be informed by The Long Night.
The Long Night
Indeed, the Long Night walks hand-in-hand with the Wall, meaning both of these elements will be part of the series. One even wonders, for narrative variation’s sake, if the first season of the Game of Thrones prequel will be about an end to the Long Night, as that darkness is said to last a generation.
A period of years and years of complete darkness and heavy snowfall, it is said kings and peasants alike lived and died in frozen hell without ever seeing the rays of morning glory. It was in this perpetual blackness that true winter, and the White Walkers, came. Given that we know the prequel will address the origin of the White Walkers, this will almost certainly play a part in the series, presumably closer to the beginning as building to this event would be incredibly reminiscent of Game of Thrones’ story structure. And unlike what will presumably be the winter of our current series, it is said this cold saga lasted decades. Aye, Old Nan summarized it best:
“Oh my sweet summer child, what do you know about fear? Fear is for the winter, when the snows fall a hundred feet deep. Fear is for the Long Night when the sun hides for years, and children and live and die, all in darkness. That is the time for fear, my little lord—when the White Walkers move through the woods. Thousands of years ago, there came a night that lasted a generation. Kings frozen to death in their castles, the same as the shepherds in their huts, and women smothered their babies rather than see them starve, and wept. And felt the tears freeze on their cheeks.
… In that darkness, the White Walkers came for the first time. They swept through cities and kingdoms, riding their dead horses, hunting with their packs of pale spiders as big as hounds.”
So could we see these mythic giant spiders? At this point, if the prequel has season 7 and 8 sized budgets, I don’t see why not. It also honestly sounds like an even grimmer time than where Game of Thrones season 8 is headed…
The Children of the Forest Unifying with the First Men
According to legend, a band of heroes set out to find the Children of the Forest, who in the Age of Heroes lived throughout the continent of Westeros in a state of alternating conflict and peace with the First Men. It wasn’t until the Andals came (2,000 years after the Long Night) that the Children of the Forest were alleged to have been hunted to near extinction by man. And yet, we know from Game of Thrones Season 6 in a flashback that the Children of the Forest created the White Walkers to combat the encroaching settlements of the First Men.
Obviously, there is plenty of ambiguity to unpack here, however what is clear is that the “last hero” made a pact with the Children of the Forest after being the lone Dungeons & Dragons styled adventurer to survive the White Walkers, Giants, and other monsters who hid in the woods. And after a new alliance between the First Men and Children was formed, the two were able to drive back the White Walkers to the Land of Always Winter in the War for the Dawn. Afterward, the First Men and the Children had a relatively prosperous peace until the Andals came and created the Southron Kingdoms—ending the Children of the Forest and slaughtering their Heart Trees south of the Neck.
But prior to that point, the Children of the Forest and the First Men lived in relative harmony, with the Heart Trees and weirwoods growing throughout Westeros. The First Men, Ned Stark’s ancestors, even took up what became the “old gods” worshipped by the Children. It is said the Children carved the faces into the weirwood, which lasted longer than any name until a millennia later when the Andals brought their axes.
The Boltons vs. the Starks Round 1
While this is a bit repetitious given how Game of Thrones Season 6 played out, one also must wonder if the origin for the Starks and Boltons’ uneasy relationship will be explored. After all, it is in the Age of Heroes that the Boltons earned their sigil of the flayed man.
In fact, the Boltons technically are of an older royal lineage than the Starks. For when Bran the Builder became the first King of Winter, he was not (technically speaking) the actual King in the North. That is because southeast of Winterfell, it is believed the Boltons ruled as the Red Kings of the Dreadfort. Lords of their own territory, they were in a state of constant rivalry with the Starks. It was during this constant give-and-take for power that the Boltons are alleged to have begun skinning Starks alive when they were captured. Several Starks were almost certainly flayed alive and had their flesh hung like flags from the ramparts of the Dreadfort (hence the symbol of House Bolton). Other Starks became cloaks of human flesh to be worn by Red Kings, including after King Royce Bolton II burned Winterfell to the ground for the first time (King Royce Bolton IV followed in the family tradition generations later).
The Red Kings didn’t truly submit to Stark rule—thus unifying the north under the Winterfell banner—until the Age of Heroes ended with the Andal invasion. Until Rogar the Huntsman bent the knee to the Kings of Winter, the Boltons were a thorn in Winterfell’s side, even if they occasionally united with their rival against a common foe like Bael the Bard. Who is Bael the Bard you ask? Well…
Bael the Bard’s Treachery
Long before there was Mance Rayder or even Jon Snow’s brief flirtation with being King in the North, including to the wildlings, there was ol’ Bael. Legend has it that Bael was the first King Beyond the Wall, and he was also a bit of a smartass if truth be told.
Prior to his war with Winterfell, Bael actually visited the Stark ancestral home in disguise. Apparently a Brandon Stark (but not the Brandon the Builder Stark) had called King Beyond the Wall a coward, so the celebrated raider of the free folk climbed the Wall and visited Winterfell in disguise as a singer. With a voice so silky smooth that he even impressed his Stark lord, Bael was offered any reward he wanted, so Bael requested “the most beautiful flower blooming in Winterfell’s gardens.” Brandon gave Bael a blue rose, but Bael that not disappeared Brandon’s adult, virgin daughter. He also left the blue rose Brandon had mistaken as Bael’s request in her bed….
Bael is said to have fathered the Stark girl’s bastard in the crypts of Winterfell, and her son went on to become the new Lord Stark, because the house’s line was near extinction. Decades later Bael returned to the Wall with his army and tried to breach it. Yet upon meeting his bastard son, now King of Winterfell, before the icy barrier, Bael couldn’t bring himself to raise a weapon against the lad. So he instead let himself be beheaded by his own child. Apparently oblivious of his patricide, this Stark brought back Bael’s head to Winterfell, causing his mother to commit suicide by throwing herself from one of Winterfell’s towers. This son of Bael was in turn slain by the Boltons and turned into a nice human coat.
Twisted? Sure. We imagine there is more to it, especially given how it is either a Stark or Bolton who is likely the…
The Night’s King
It is easy to imagine a Game of Thrones prequel conflating Brandon the Builder with Brandon the Bael’d given it is hinted that cruel chapters in family history have been well erased. Such is the legend of the Night’s King, who should not be confused with the Night King that’s currently riding an ice dragon on Game of Thrones.
It is said that not long after the Wall was built (so after the Long Night), a particularly wicked Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch fell in love with a woman beyond the Wall. It also said she was blessed “with skin as white as the moon and eyes like blue stars… her skin was as cold as ice.” While maesters have since insisted that this was a Barrow King’s daughter (the Barrow Kings lived closer to where the Wall is now and called themselves Kings of the First Men, predating the Starks), everyone else with common sense knows this is obviously referencing a White Walker.
This undead bride, taken by an oathbreaking Lord Commander, led to a time of darkness falling upon the Wall. It is said this “Night’s King” took his bride and an enslaved legion of Night’s Watch conscripts to the Nightfort and reigned there for 13 horrendous years. It’s still whispered in the North that he and his wife committed unspeakable atrocities that included torture, human sacrifice, and ritualistic butchery as they mingled sadism with sensuality. This was put to an end by Brandon the Breaker (yet another Brandon Stark), King of Winter, and the then-King Beyond the Wall, Joramun. They laid siege to the Nightfort from both sides of the Wall after they learned the Night’s King was feeding children to the Others (the novels’ name for the White Walkers). And they routed them too.
After the Night King’s execution, the Starks erased all trace and written record of the fiend. Yet some believe there is an ulterior motive, including that the Night’s King was a Stark himself who’d gone lecherous. Others argue he was a Bolton, but who had the most to gain from erasing his name from the history books?
Garth Greenhand Gets Handsy
Yet if you’re curious about something happening that is unrelated to Northernmen shenanigans, look no further than Garth Greenhand, the supposed paterfamilias for the vast majority of houses in Westeros. While some even claim he was the father of Bran the Builder, it is more likely that Garth was his contemporary, and a lascivious one at that.
Earning wealth and power for supposedly teaching smallfolk how to farm, it is also likely he mastered irrigation and the ability to move and find water when not sitting exactly on a river. Maesters have later diminished his standing, claiming Garth was but a war chief who was the first king to cross the deserts of Dorne and cause the southern spear to bend the knee. No matter what though, he is considered the High King of the First Men, ruling across the south from Dorne to the Reach.
Garth’s first son was Garth the Gardener, founder of Highgarden, which his family ruled on high from as a monarchy until Aegon Targaryen scorched King Mern Gardener IX to cinder during his conquest. Mern’s ally, Loren Lannister, quickly bent the knee to the dragon king, as did Mern’s steward, Harlen Tyrell (hence Margaery and Olenna Tyrell’s powerful family in Game of Thrones).
But during the Age of Heroes, it was the Gardeners who ruled Highgarden thanks to Garth. Garth is said to have been able to make young girls “blossom” just by his stare and collected eager maidens wherever he traveled, including from fathers who believed a bastard born of Garth would always be a strong son or fair daughter, and signaled a splendid harvest. So either Garth is a regular Casanova in the best case scenario or he's a lusty old fart and serial rapist. Either way, the legend has smoothed that into a benign figure of good spirit with a crown of vines in his hair and a twinkle in his eye as he laughed alongside the Children of the Forest at giants attempting to master farming. Think Santa, except his gifts tended to be multiplied by twos or threes in the case of his frequent siring of twins and triplets.
Lann the Clever Swindles Casterly Rock
And one of old Garth’s many bastards is alleged, depending on who you ask, to be Lann the Clever. Aye, once upon a time Casterly Rock did not belong to the family of Tywin and Cersei; it was in fact owned by a family called the Casterlys. Imagine that.
The Casterlys ruled the westerlands for generations before Lann came a-knocking. Well, actually, he didn’t knock at all. Rather he sneaked into the Rock by stripping naked and coating himself with butter, allegedly doing so to squeeze through a hidden cleft in the stone. (We imagine this is one of the many aspects that have been embellished). Once inside the Rock, the legends vary as to how he pushed the Casterlys out. My personal favorite is that he set up traps and howled in the night like a ghost or demon, convincing the Casterlys their castle was haunted and driving mad whichever brother tried to next take the crown for himself (he also turned brothers against each other by framing them with murderous ambition). This admittedly sounds like a bloodier episode of Scooby-Doo, and that’s why I like it.
Other legends say that Lann infested Casterly Rock with rats that scared out the residents. Yet others still say the Lion of Lannister sigil comes from Lann infesting the fortress with actual lions who ate the men but spared the women for Lann’s bed. And yet the most notorious myth further suggests Lann somehow raped all of the Lord Casterly’s daughters while they slumbered peacefully, siring their children. When the babies were born, the girls still insisted they were virgins and couldn’t explain the babes’ fair hair that was as “golden as the sun.”
No matter how it happened, Lann, whom depending who you asked was either Garth’s bastard or an enterprising Andal who crossed the Narrow Sea a few millennia prior to his countrymen, became Lord of Castlery Rock and lived to the supposed ripe old age of 312, siring hundreds of beautiful blond sons and blonder daughters. His children were so many that they were forced to found the city of Lannisport just to have enough space for separate bedrooms
Storm’s End Defies the Gods
In what has the strongest hint of Greek myth, the story of why it rains so much in Storm’s End is apparently because of love—the love of a Durran Gosgrief, the first Storm King, and Elenei, the daughter of gods who dared fall for a mortal. There is something Tolkien-esque in the tenderness of this bitter sweet tale, thus I’m a bit wary of seeing it undercut with a probably much uglier reality.
According to the songs, Durran was but a humble man who dared to love Eleni, the daughter of the God of the Sea and the Goddess of the Wind. The two deities disapproved of their daughter’s marriage to this nobleman, but the hopelessly in love Durran and Eleni wed anyway. So on their wedding night, as husband took bride to his bedchamber, the gods’ wrath let forth a terrible storm that shattered Durran’s keep and killed all of his family and guests. Durran alone survived among the mortals, shielded by Eleni. In defiance, Durran declares war on the gods, who replied by further increasing the intensity of storms bombarding his lands.
In kind, Durran built one castle after another, facing and mocking the sea. Each castle in turn fell to ruin. That is until Durran mastered his construction process, building Storm’s End, a castle so strong that the gods themselves could but bay at the door like an unwanted beggar. Some even claim this fortress was built by Bran the Builder himself. Either way, Durran is claimed to have lived for another thousand years with his beloved Eleni by his side.
The Grey King Marries a Mermaid
The Iron Islands meanwhile have their own fairly fantastical myths that explain their origins. So enters the Grey King, a figure said to be of grey complexion in his hair and beard, even in his youth. His eyes were likewise as grey as “the winter sea.” He earned fame and notoriety in the Iron Islands though for supposedly slaying Nagga, a sea serpent dragon. From Nagga’s teeth, the Grey King built his crown, and from Nagga’s bones he constructed his Grey King’s Hall.
It is in that hall the Grey King is said to have ruled the Iron Island for 1,0007 years, bringing fire to the Islanders, beginning with the still living flame of Nagga, which the monarch used to keep his home toasty warm. Also in that keep, he took a mermaid as his wife, wedding a beautiful sea siren so that his children could live in the water or on the land. Almost every great house (by Iron Islander standards) on the Iron Islands claims to be descended from this man.
I am not as well versed in Esssos lore, however if we are going back in time thousands of years, then we obviously will see Old Valyria, the first, second, third, and fourth wonder of the world in its many ages. An obvious stand-in for ancient Rome in “A Song of Ice and Fire” and on Game of Thrones, Valyria is a lost city located on a peninsula facing the Summer Sea. It is also said to be a city rich in decadence and treasure, as it is in Valyria where the dragonlords mastered their flying monsters and built Valyrian steel out of magical properties that still remain unmatched.
With fortresses that reached toward the heavens like ancient skyscrapers, Valyria was ruled over by a race an ethnicity of people who looked a lot like the Targaryens: silver hair and violet eyes (Dany’s eyes are purple in the books). They conquered much of Essos, including the Slaver’s Bay region that Daenerys would one day reclaim as her own, however they did this so as to acquire slaves for their mines. Their wealth was as great as their cruelty until one day… they vanished.
Valyria was lost when the Fourteen Flames, volcanic hills surrounding Valyria, much like the hills of Rome, exploded into mountainous ash. The cataclysm was so great, even dragons were consumed and melted by the apocalyptic rain of ash and fire. The seas boiled into acid, the sky was blotted out, and other allusions to Pompeii occurred as the world ended for all… save the Targaryen family. Twelve years prior to the Doom of Valyria, Daeneys the Dreamer told her father that she had a vision prophesying Valyria’s annihilation. The Targaryens thus moved their family and five dragons to the island of Dragonstone, escaping catastrophe.
It was obviously a natural disaster that took Valyria, yet some claim that in their mines beneath the Fourteen Flames, the mages and pyromancers of Valyria discovered and made pacts with creatures from the Seven Hells below. While we will never see the Doom (as it occurred about only 400 years prior to Game of Thrones), such whispers is fertile ground for a more fantastical television series.
So there you have it, 11 things we might just see in a Game of Thrones prequel. Which, if any, is the most exciting? Or would you rather let sleeping dragons lie? Let us know in the comment section below!
Geoff Johns is working on a new Shazam series for DC.
Over the last two years, DC Comics has found its soul again. Kicking off with the Rebirth one shot in spring 2016, DC combined a kind of back-to-basics approach to its heroes with a knack for matching the right creative teams to their characters. We've had some potentially all-time great creative runs on Green Arrow, Batman, and The Flash, potentially all-time great comic series such as Mister Miracle, and recent all-star launches like the Brian Michael Bendis Superman books and Scott Snyder's Justice League.
But where has Shazam been in all of this? Back in January, DC publisher Dan Didio said that DC had "the right team, we're just waiting for them to be available." Well, we know that half of that team is Geoff Johns, recently freed from his executive duties to focus more on writing. Johns was the writer of the New 52 Shazam reboot, which is the basis for the 2019 movie starring Zachary Levi in the title role. Usually, when there's a movie about to drop, DC puts together a big launch for a character, so we're likely to see something special when this new Shazam series hits.
Here's the official synopsis from Johns' website:
Billy Batson and his surrogate family; Mary Bromfield, Freddy Freeman, Darla Dudley, Eugen Choi and Pedro Pena unlock the mysteries of the Rock of Eternity and delve into the secret worlds of magic to discover their ultimate destiny!
Now the big question is, who's going to handle the art? Frequent Johns collaborator (and the artist who rebooted the Shazam concept with Johns in 2012) Gary Frank is presumably unavailable because of his ongoing commitment to Doomsday Clock. Not that DC is listening, but it would be great to see Doc Shaner on a regular Shazam book (he did excellent work with the character on a Convergence-related tie-in). And Chris Samnee has just finished his contract with Marvel, too. Either would be a perfect fit on art.
Right now, all we know is that the new Shazam book is due in the fall of this year. As soon as there are more details, we'll update this!
Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War put Hulk front and center. We want more stories with the big green guy.
In the next few years, relatively obscure characters like Aquaman and Captain Marvel will get their shot on the big screen. Meanwhile, Hulk is still front and center in all the Avengers movies, right after he had some gladiatorial fun in Thor: Ragnarok.
But a new Hulk solo movie? It doesn't look good. It has been ten years since the last time Hulk headlined his own movie.
There are several reasons for this. Marvel shares distribution rights with Universal for any potential solo Hulk film which complicates things a little. Hey, if Marvel Studios and Sony can get together and deliver Peter Parker and the world of Spider-Man to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it is not such a stretch to imagine that Marvel and Universal can find some common ground to deliver a Hulk solo movie, right?. But in the meantime, Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War will have to do the trick.
But a new Hulk movie would have to be very different than any Hulk flick that came before it. There's only so many times you can work that tortured Jekyll/Hyde thing. But these stories that could make great Hulk movies, and some of 'em could even be spun as something other than Hulk solo movies, which might make things easier on Marvel Studios...
Marvel and the concept of hero shrinkage (not like that you perv) have long gone together - even in the pages of The Incredible Hulk. One of the Hulk's greatest loves, Jarella, is the queen of a sub-atomic world known as K'ai. When the Hulk is shrunk to sub-atomic size by the villain known as Psyklop, he finds adventure and romance in a John Carter-like swashbuckling journey through Jarella's world.
While on K'ai, the Hulk was hailed as a hero and fought microscopic boars and boa constrictors (which of course were huge to the even smaller Hulk) and who wouldn't want to see that awesomeness play out on the big screen? In addition to the innate coolness of this concept, Jarella and her world were created by Harlan Ellison and it would be beyond amazing to see Marvel exploit some of Ellison's comics work in film.
Later, Jarella would return and become a major Hulk supporting character until her tragic death in Incredible Hulk #240. The Hulk is certainly not known as a romantic character (despite his recent cinematic liaison with the Black Widow), but the tale of Hulk and Jarella stands as one of the most poignant romances of Marvel's Bronze Age.
Now, how is all this more than just another Hulk solo story you ask?
Simple, instead of Psyklop, how about tying the Hulk's shrinkage to the world of Ant-Man and making a journey to Jarella's realm a buddy film between Marvel's biggest hero and its smallest?
Now, follow me here, this could get a little red tapey. The Hulk isn’t the only Marvel character that Universal has a stake in. The rights to Namor, the Sub-Mariner are also held by Universal so perhaps if Marvel Studios is to come to some sort of Sony like accord with Universal, the Sub-Mariner can come along for the ride. If Marvel and Universal were to try and package the Hulk and Namor together then they need look no further than Incredible Hulk#118. This Stan Lee/Herb Trimpe masterpiece is the most perfect Sub-Mariner/Hulk mash up ever.
The book starts with an unconscious Hulk washing up on in Atlantis and found by Sub-Mariner's consort, the Lady Dorma. Enter Mistress Fera, a rival to Dorma for Namor's affections. Fera tells Namor that she has seen Dorma canoodling with the Hulk and the battle is on.
Of course, any film adaptation of this particular issue would probably have to go a little farther than the machinations of a jilted lover causing the colossal struggle, but the battle between the Hulk and Sub-Mariner in this issue is pure majesty. If Marvel and Universal want a cinematic conflict between these two titans than the whole thing is masterfully storyboarded right here in this issue. This is probably all wishful thinking, but hey, if Aquaman makes DC and Warner Bros serious bank, the prospect of a Sub-Mariner film (especially packaged with the Hulk) will become a bit more compelling to those that hold the rights to Marvel's Golden Age great.
Marvel's Cinematic Universe hasn't gotten timey wimey yet, but if we do get some Marvel time travel at some point, then I can think of no better story to start the chronal madness than Future Imperfect.
In this seminal event by legendary Hulk writer Peter David and legendary everything artist George Perez, the modern day Hulk travels to a dystopian future to take on that future's brutal dictator. The despot in question is none other than a bearded, futuristic version of the Hulk named Maestro.
Future Imperfect is so big and involves so many Marvel characters that it could really be a huge event film. The Maestro could serve as a reminded just how dangerous the Hulk could be and also be a way for Marvel to tell a huge Hulk stories while presenting alternative versions of its favorite heroes. Plus, it's time Marvel starts exploring some of Peter David's work in other media as he was one of the best writers Marvel had to offer in the '80s and '90s.
Hulk versus Hulk with the fate of the future of the Marvel Universe at stake, what more can a moviegoer ask for?
The Pantheon Saga
Speaking of Peter David, one of the scribe's most memorable arcs during his incredibly long run on The Incredible Hulk was the Pantheon saga. The Pantheon storyline ran for three years and put Bruce Banner's alter ego into some very new and surprising situations, situations that are cinematic enough in scope to be considered for a future film. The Pantheon were all super powered descendants of the half Asgardian/ half human god Agamemnon who led his team in its mission to protect humanity.
Hell, after Hulk's recent adventures with the Asgardians in Thor: Ragnarok, that can be your way into this. The members of the Pantheon were all given enough foibles and motivation to come to the big screen fully formed and a Hulk/Thor meets high tech Greek demi-gods joint sounds big enough to us to solve the Hulk solo film conundrum.
Are you up for a Hulk: Agent of SHIELDfilm? You bet your purple pants you are! That's what Mark Waid's Indestructible Hulk essentially was.
The high concept of this great book is Bruce Banner agreeing to allow SHIELD to use him as a weapon in the hottest of hot zones in exchange for funding his humanitarian efforts. Waid weaved the Hulk into some surprising settings such as time travel adventures, an adventure in Asgard, and even a team up between the Hulk and the Inhumans, any of which would make for some big budget and intriguing film fodder.
Original Sin: Hulk vs. Iron Man
You want a Hulk movie to make some serious cash? Drop him in Jurassic Park. But since that's impossible, instead, how about teaming big green with Marvel's surefire superstar Iron Man.
Original Sin: Hulk Vs. Iron Man presented the perfect set up for a Hulk Vs. Iron Man battle. This series showed readers just how deeply Tony Stark and Bruce Banner were involved in each others' lives before they became Avengers. The series also put both characters' past sins on display and suggested that Tony Stark and his ego may just be responsible for the Hulk's existence.
Fans have been clamoring to see more of the science bros since the first Avengersmovie and the HulkBuster Vs. Hulk battle in Avengers: Age of Ultron just solidified how awesome it is when these two marvels clash. Wrapping Hulk into an Iron Man film could be just the push the Green Goliath needs to take the character to the next level and it gives Marvel's most bankable star another chance to headline.
World War Hulk
Just call it Avengers 5 if you want, but all the Hulk threads that began in the first Avengerscould culminate in World War Hulk. Marvel is going to need to go bigger and badder if it is to follow up Thanos and the Infinity War movies, and a revenge seeking post-Planet Hulk Banner is as big and bad as they come.
If Marvel wants to fully exploit Hulk as a franchise character, then this tale of tragedy, betrayal, and revenge is the perfect blockbuster direction. The entire Marvel Universe versus the Hulk and his space armada, what else can you ask for? Many of the key players of this storyline, Iron Man, Black Panther, Black Bolt of the Inhumans, are already in place (or soon will be) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so the stage is set for World War Hulk- the biggest Hulk story of them all.
The Outsider, the most recent novel by Stephen King, is already getting a TV series adaptation.
Stephen King’s latest novel, The Outsider, just hit book shelves and devices on May 22. However, in case you haven’t noticed, the entertainment industry is in the midst of a Kingaissance of sorts, with adaptation-minded studios stumbling over each other to voraciously scoop up anything the man has written, be it a novel, short story, or cocktail napkin on which he wrote directions to a rest stop (that last one’s a joke, but oddly feasible). Consequently, The Outsider is already heading for adaptation pastures, with plans for television series blooming.
Media Rights Capital, the company that produced the 2017 King film adaptation, The Dark Tower, has optioned the still-fresh King best-seller, The Outsider, according to Deadline. The plan is to adapt the novel as a 10-episode limited series. Promisingly, before The Outsider gets shopped to networks and streaming platforms, the pilot will be written by none other than Richard Price, a veteran screenwriter, whose recent works on HBO shows The Deuce and The Night Of were preceded by shows NYC 22 and The Wire, as well as films like Child 44, Shaft (2000 Remake), Ransom, Sea of Love and The Color of Money. He also wrote Michael Jackson’s music video for “Bad.” Price will be joined here by executive producers Jack Bender and Marty Bowen, who will represent MRC. King also has the option to executive produce.
The story of The Outsider puts a mind-blowingly monstrous twist on traditional accused-of-murder fiction (in which King previously delved with his 1982 novella, Rita Hayworth andShawshank Redemption). Here, police detective Ralph Anderson fields an investigation in the fictional Oklahoma town of Flint City that upends the local populace when a well-liked local man, Terry Maitland, is arrested for the shockingly malicious murder of an 11-year-old boy. While a mountain of evidence – including DNA and fingerprints – make the case seem open-and-shut, Maitland vehemently swears his innocence; an idea that gains momentum when his alibi – of being out of town at a conference – checks out, leading the investigation to a potentially supernatural turn.
Interestingly, there’s some King Universe crossover potential with this project, at least, as far as the story is concerned. In The Outsider novel, investigator Ralph Anderson is partnered on the Maitland case with Holly Gibney, a character from King’s 2014 novel, Mr. Mercedes, which, of course, has already been adapted as a television series for Audience Network, on which the character was played by Justine Lupe (Madame Secretary, Sneaky Pete). However, that series is the construct of different production companies, which might complicate a prospective crossover.
For now, The Outsider is just the latest King project to be procured for live-action plans. The Hulu television series, Castle Rock arrives on July 25, plus small screen reboots of The Stand (with CBS) and The Dark Tower (with Amazon) are also in the works. Plus, on the movie front, the Pet Sematary remake will once again prove that “dead is betta” when it arrives on April 19, 2019, and It: Chapter 2 is quickly casting the adult version of the Losers’ Club, heading towards its September 6, 2019 release. – And there's certainly a lot more to come.
We’ll keep you updated on The Outsider TV series as things develop!
Tom King is developing a series about "a crisis center for superheroes" for DC Comics.
DC Comics'"Sanctuary" project has a title—Heroes in Crisis—and a first issue release date: September 26th. The new, seven-issue series will center the subject of superhero PTSD and other forms of trauma, giving the comic book world's masked crusaders a place to go—the Sanctuary crisis center—to help them process their trauma.
Heroes in Crisis comes from the minds of former CIA counter-terrorism operations officer Tom King, the man behind recent titles like Marvel's The Vision, DC's Batman and Mister Miracle, and Clay Mann. According to the recent press release, it will feature a crisis center that "combines Superman’s Kryptonian technology, Wonder Woman’s Amazonian mysticism and is p
It will explore themes of "war and conflict, and a hero’s struggle to put their war and their trauma behind them ... against the backdrop of a murder mystery involving Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn, Booster Gold, and the rest of the World’s Greatest Super Heroes."
Here's a look at the cover for the first issue...
Speaking about the importance of the project in the press release, King said:
I feel like I’m part of a rolling generation of people who spent their twenties overseas fighting terrorism. Millions of people cycle through that machine and come home to America. And I think that sort of experience of violence is shaping who we are as a culture, and as a country. And I want to talk about that. I want to talk about that experience, the experience of what violence can do to a person, to a community, to a nation, to a world.
"If I could do anything to the DCU," continued King, "it would be to bring a sense of community of superheroes and people. I feel a duty to talk about what violence does to a society through the comics I'm creating."
King first announced the project back in January during DC's DC in D.C. event.
"The DCU has a bunch of superheroes and all they do is fight, every time, and that must have a psychological effect on them, right?" said King during the event's "Battle and Trauma in Comics" panel. "You can't live a life of violence and not feel that violence deep in your heart."
Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman act as parental figues of sorts for the DC world, said King. They care about helping other heroes deal with trauma for two reasons...
One, because they're good people, but two, if superheroes feel trauma and it drives them a little mad, that's a danger. So, as both a practical and a compassionate matter, they've set up something called Sanctuary, which is a place that you can go, modeled on veterans' crisis centers—which is an interesting name for them—and talk about this trauma and admit that this had an effect on you.
Den of Geek asked King about how the idea came about during a roundtable interview following the panel.
"Dan DiDio, my boss who doesn't get enough credit for all the good stuff he does, he came to me and said, 'I want to do something big and I want to talk about a big issue of something deep,'" said King. "It was vague, and I wanted to write something about PTSD and its effect on things. This was such an instant, easy idea: The idea that people who are living a life of trauma would be affected by that trauma."
Fo King, helping other heroes work though their trauma is part of the Trinity's "sworn duty to help people."
"It's one of the most logical things that's existed," said King, "so of course it would exist in DC, and of course Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman would get together to help superheroes who've been through this, and to help themselves get through it."
Check out the full "Battle and Trauma in Comics" panel below at the 3:39:45 mark.
The first issue of Heroes in Crisis, written by Tom King with art by Clay Mann and Tomeu Morey, lettered by Clayton Cowles, and edited by Jamie S. Rich and Brittany Holzherr, will be available digitally and in stores on September 26th.
Warner Bros. may be wary of making more Superman movies in the DCEU, but there are possibilities beyond Man of Steel 2.
This article contains Justice League spoilers.
Despite how cagey Warner Bros. was about keeping Henry Cavill’s Superman out of most of the marketing for Justice League, we always knew that his return would be a key moment, not just for the movie, but for the entire DCEU. And while it took a few years to get there, the final act of Justice League makes it pretty clear that the studio is finally ready to give audiences a classic interpretation of the character. Or, they would be, if Superman hadn’t been such a difficult business proposition on screen over the last decade or more.
The good news is that Henry Cavill is still contracted for one more turn in the cape. The bad news is that Justice League fell well short of expectations at the box office, making it the fourth troubled Superman movie in the last 11 years. This has had ramifications for the entire DCEU slate going forward (Justice League 2 has no release date), and the implications for the Last Son of Krypton aren’t particularly encouraging. There's not much reason for Mr. Cavill to stick around at the moment.
The simplest proposition, Man of Steel 2, still seems the least likely to happen. Even the most ardent Superman fan will likely agree that an earthbound Superman story revolving around Metropolis and the Daily Planet is going to be a tough sell. After all, once you’ve done two full blown alien invasions, it’s tough to follow that. Cramming Superman’s death and return into two movies where he was relegated to co-star not only robbed that big story of the spotlight it deserves, but lowers the stakes for the character in the future. Once you’ve beaten death, what’s left?
While it would be great to see a Justice League 2that centers Superman as the leader and inspirational figure that the current film hinted at, it doesn’t seem likely right now. If the Flashpoint movie still ends up getting made (and current indications are that The Flash movie is no longer taking its main inspiration from that story), there’s a chance we could see a version of Superman who was raised in captivity by the government from the moment he landed on Earth. There has been idle chatter about adapting Red Son, which deals with a Superman who grew up in the Soviet Union, and the attendant world-changing ramifications that would bring. Neither of these non-traditional takes sounds terribly appealing to Superman fans waiting for a Richard Donner-esque return to glory.
But it would be a mistake for Warner Bros. to turn their backs entirely on Superman. They just need to adjust their thinking a little. These are some low risk ways they can get one more flight from Cavill, continue to exploit their shared universe of the DCEU, and use Superman to introduce (or reintroduce) characters:
Take Him Off-World
The DCEU hasn’t been shy about playing up Superman’s inherently alien nature and the “stranger in a strange land” elements of the character. Getting him out of Metropolis and out into the cosmos where he can cut loose will help mitigate any fears that audiences won’t accept another “traditional” Superman movie. By doing this, Warner Bros. could help reinvigorate a far more toxic franchise.
Green Lantern Corps currently has a 2020 release date, but little else. The intention is for GLC to play up the interstellar nature of the Corps, and keep the action away from Earth. Writer Elliot S. Maggin often played with the idea that Superman was a source of fascination for the Guardians of the Universe on Oa, and his classic Bronze Age story “Must There Be a Superman?” in which the Guardians worry that Superman is interfering with the proper development of human civilization, would be the perfect jumping off point to get Supes into space. There’s your first act, and then Kal-El and the Corps can go to town on the alien menace of your choice.
Adding Superman to the Green Lantern Corps movie (I’m not suggesting giving him a ring, calm down) hits three important DCEU notes. Moments of it can be a loose adaptation of a classic DC Comics story (they love doing this), it removes Green Lantern Corps even further from the DOA 2011 Green Lantern movie, and the theme of Superman wondering whether he can do more good out in the cosmos rather than potentially stunting humanity’s growth would be in line with the sometimes somber tone of the DCEU.
On a similar note, WB could use Superman to solve one of the problems they caused in Justice League. Steppenwolf was a woefully underdeveloped villain, and Jack Kirby’s epic (in the actual sense of the word) Fourth World and New Gods concepts weren’t well served on screen. If we’re ever going to see Darkseid, we need to care about the war between the planets New Genesis and Apokolips, and in order to do that, they need screen time.
Several of Jack Kirby’s earliest Fourth World stories involved Superman coming into contact with various New Gods and Forever People, and his longing to be among beings who are more like him. Let Orion and Lightray come to earth to enlist Superman’s aid in their cosmic war, similar to how these concepts were introduced in Superman: The Animated Series. Superman becomes the audience’s POV character, we no longer have to worry about him automatically being the most powerful person in the room all the time, and the DCEU can properly introduce Darkseid without having to stage yet another invasion of Earth.
The good news is that Ava Duvernay is currently developing a New Gods movie. There's no word on whether or not this will have any ties to the DCEU.
Team Him Up with Established Stars
Even without Justice League 2 being a priority, there are plenty of stars in the orbit of the DCEU. Dwayne Johnson has long expressed a desire for his Black Adam to “throw down” with someone like Superman, and Johnson and Cavill have made some teasing posts on social media together. Johnson’s Black Adam will no longer be introduced in 2019’s Shazam movie, and instead has a standalone movie of his own coming.
But despite the star power of Johnson, Black Adam isn’t the most recognizable character in DC’s stable (for that matter, neither is Shazam these days), but Superman certainly is, and an easier match for a team-up (or throwdown) than say, Batman. Check out the Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam animated movie for a natural way to let these characters bolster each other. The Rock is often referred to as “franchise viagra” and, frankly, Superman’s box office takings have been stuck at about half-mast.
Although my personal dream would be to re-team Superman with DC’s two safest cinematic bets: Batman (whoever he may be) and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. The DCEU loves adapting the broad strokes of classic comic stories, so a big screen version of the Watchmen creative team of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ “For The Man Who Has Everything” would tick all the appropriate boxes, without the pressure of it being a full blown Justice League sequel (which at the moment seems about as improbable as Man of Steel 2).
“For the Man Who Has Everything” is the superhero story that has everything. A powerful alien puts Superman into a hallucinatory coma, causing him to live in a dream world where he grew to maturity on a Krypton that never exploded, all while Batman and Wonder Woman fight for their lives. This could play almost like Inception (or a Twilight Zone episode) with superheroes, and it would allow another big screen appearance for Krypton, the visual and world-building highlight of Man of Steel. In a way, this story, which forces Superman to confront and make peace with his guilt at being the sole survivor of his world, would feel like a fitting sendoff for Cavill’s Superman.
The full DC superhero movie release schedule can be found here. Maybe we'll get a Superman story added to it one of these days.
Mike Cecchini thinks about Superman stories too much. Pelt him with Kryptonite on Twitter.
A screen adaptation of Maria Machado's collection of queer, feminist short stories is in development at Imagine Television.
We're living in a cultural moment of both anthology series and the increased visibility of the horrors of being a woman (hopefully, the latter lasts longer than a moment), so it makes perfect sense that Maria Machado's National Book Award-nominated Her Body and Other Parties is getting Hollywood development.
According to Vulture, Imagine Television has won the rights to develop the short story collection after a competitive pitching process from various producers, writers, and directors. Writer Gina Welch (Feud, The Terror) is attached to adapt the stories into their screen anthology form, billed as a kind of feminist Black Mirror.
Here is the book's official synopsis from publisher Gray Wolf Press:
In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women’s lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.
A wife refuses her husband's entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store's prom dresses. One woman’s surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella 'Especially Heinous,' Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naively assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgängers, ghosts, and girls-with-bells-for-eyes.
Earthy and otherworldly, antic and sexy, queer and caustic, comic and deadly serious, Her Body and Other Parties swings from horrific violence to the most exquisite sentiment. In their explosive originality, these stories enlarge the possibilities of contemporary fiction.
Her Body and Other Parties"capture[s] the intense, unspoken psychology of inhabiting a woman's body today," president of Imagine Television Samie Kim Falvey told Vulture, adding that the anthology series will "undoubtedly be a force in the conversation about gender."
More news as we hear it.