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

    FeatureKayti Burt
    Jun 15, 2018

    Hello, all!

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

    June/July: Brief Cases by Jim Butcher

    Brief Cases, a collection of several of Butcher's excellent short stories and novellas from within the universe of Harry Dresden, is a delight for new and old Dresden Files fans alike. Centered around the theme of parenting, the stories in the collection range from a prequel set in the Old West to a Rashomon-style tale of Harry discovering a warlock at the zoo.

    You can read our full review of Brief Cases here, or head over to the Den of Geek Book Club to discuss the book. We're also giving away a complete set of the Dresden Files books, if you're looking to add to your own collection. Find out how to enter here.

    Read Brief Cases by Jim Butcher

    May/June Pick: Ship It by Britta Lundin

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

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

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

    April/May Pick: The Power by Naomi Alderman

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read our full review of Children of Blood and Bone.

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

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

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

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

    January/February Pick: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

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

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

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

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


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    Batgirl is getting a new costume in Batgirl #27. Check out the costume here!

    NewsJohn Saavedra
    Jun 15, 2018

    Batgirl is getting a new look designed by artist Sean Murphy, as DC shakes up the creative team behind the heroine's solo book. As first reported by Polygon, writer Mairghread Scott and artists Paul Pelletier and Elena Casagrande are taking over Batgirl with issue #26, which is out on Aug. 22. Hope Larson, who has been the regular writer on Batgirl since the Rebirth relaunch in 2016, wrapped up her run this month with #23.

    The new costume ditches the purple and yellow design first introduced by Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, and Babs Tarr for the soft relaunch of Batgirl in 2015. Instead, Murphy's costume is a callback to a more classic look for the character. Fans of 2003's Batgirl: Year One will certainly find the Murphy costume familiar. It's also very reminiscent of Batgirl's costume in Batman: The Animated Series, an era Murphy is clearly fond of, based on his recent work in Batman: White Knight

    Check out the costume for yourself:

    "This is supposed to be a version of the costume that she was working on when she still lived with her dad," Scott explained about Batgirl's new look. "That’s why it looks so much like her original Batgirl: Year One outfit — like, she’s with her dad. She can’t get out back to Burnside, and this is like the emergency. So the version that she was working on [back in the day] that she had stashed here just in case. It helps us with the story a little bit too, because it’s a little less bright — we wanted her to be more stealthy, and we want her to be able to integrate some more tech with the belt.”

    Scott, Pelletier, and Casagrande's debut issue begins a whole new era for Batgirl, who is leaving the Burnside neighborhood she's protected for the past few years to return to Gotham City proper. The new arc, which is titled "Art of the Crime," will also see the return of Grotesque, a villain created by Gail Simone and Ardian Syaf during the New 52 era. According to the solicitation for the issue, Grotesque is going after the implant in Batgirl's spine that allows her to walk after being crippled by the Joker in The Killing Joke:

    “Art of the Crime” part one. During a high-speed chase with murderous art thief Grotesque, the villain K.O.’s Batgirl with a souped-up stun gun that temporarily fries the device implanted in her spine. (That thing that helps her, you know, walk and be Batgirl?) Babs finds herself in for a whole new world of hurt now that old wounds have been opened up—and so does Grotesque.

    Batgirl's new costume will debut in issue #27.


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    The Den of Geek Book Club is giving away a complete set of the Dresden Files in honor of the Brief Cases release.

    NewsKayti Burt
    Jun 16, 2018

    This month's Den of Geek Book Club pick is Jim Butcher's Brief Cases, and we're giving away a complete set of Dresden Files books in celebration!

    Brief Cases is a delightful collection of several of Butcher's excellent short stories and novellas from within the universe of Harry Dresden, all centered around the theme of parenting. The collection isn't just for Dresden fans—readers who only know a little about the setting are quickly brought up to speed and can enjoy each of these brief glimpses into the work of Chicago's only professional wizard without the full context of the novels.

    Read our full review of Brief Cases, then head over to the Den of Geek Book Club on Goodreads to chat about the short story collection.

    Entry in the giveaway is simple:

    - Join the Den of Geek Book Club over on Goodreads.

    - Comment in one of the Brief Cases discussion threads.

    Unfortunately, only readers who reside in the United States qualify for this contest. Final entries will be accepted Friday, June 29th! One (1) winner will be drawn at random and contacted via Goodreads message. Good luck!


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    Conan the Barbarian has wandered long enough, and returns to Marvel in January.

    NewsMike Cecchini
    Jun 18, 2018

    For over 20 years, Marvel was the home of all Conan the Barbarian comic series. The original Conan the Barbarian comic helped bring brilliant artist Barry Windsor-Smith to prominence in the industry. Marvel's line of adult-oriented black and white magazines followed, and the long-running Savage Sword of Conan was a staple of magazine racks and comic shelves too high for little kids to reach, and featured a level of gore and violence unlike their Comics Code Authority approved counterparts.

    For the last few years, Conan has made his home at Dark Horse, who have stewarded the legacy well with plenty of high quality new material, as well as gorgeous reprints of the older Marvel stuff. Conan even crossed paths with DC's Wonder Woman recently, in a collaboration between those two publishers. But the wandering Cimmerian is returning to Marvel, beginning in January 2019. 

    The first thing we're getting? A massive omnibus of his early comic stories! Here's the official word from Marvel:

    Know, oh prince, that in the year 1970, CONAN THE BARBARIAN, sword in hand, slashed his way into four-color life. This January, ahead of Conan’s triumphant return to Marvel Comics, Marvel is proud to announce the release of CONAN THE BARBARIAN: THE ORIGINAL MARVEL YEARS OMNIBUS. Fully remastered, this tome features Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith’s ground-breaking adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s iconic character. 

    Collecting CONAN THE BARBARIAN #1-26 from 1970-1973—as well as material from 1971’s SAVAGE TALES #1 and #4, CHAMBER OF DARKNESS #4, and CONAN CLASSIC #1-11—the CONAN THE BARBARIAN: THE ORIGINAL MARVEL YEARS omnibus presents each story in all its glory, from covers to letter pages, all painstakingly restored to match the beauty of the original editions.

    Relive the early exploits of Conan across shining kingdoms of an age undreamed of, as he becomes thief, slayer and a legend.

    “From Barry Windsor-Smith to John Buscema to Neal Adams, a legendary line-up of amazing artists brought Conan to life in the pages of Marvel comics,” said C.B. Cebulski, editor-in-chief of Marvel in a statement. “It's a legacy we're now going to live up to with the talent we have lined up for the Cimmerian barbarian's homecoming in early 2019. We’re excited!”

    “We’re thrilled to be working with Marvel and look forward to the new adventures in store for Conan,” added Fredrik Malmberg, President of Conan Properties International. “As the most well-known and creative publisher in the industry, we think Marvel is a great fit for our stories.”

    Obviously, we're going to get a new Conan ongoing series, although there are no details of that just yet.

    If we're lucky, they'll treat it like they did when Star Wars returned to them, where Marvel Unlimited subscribers suddenly found themselves with countless classic tales on the service.

    In any event, we'll keep you updated on the details as Marvel announces them.


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    Batwoman and Batman throw down as Alice's mutagen covers Gotham in this exclusive preview of Batwoman #16.

    NewsJim Dandy
    Jun 18, 2018

    Let's talk about panel layouts NO COME BACK THIS IS IMPORTANT.

    Modern comics feel like their panel layouts tend towards one of two styles: completely straightforward grids, which are clear and provide a clean structure to a story, even when the story is complex; and the elaborate, artistic flowing patterns of artists with painterly sensibilities, like JH Williams or Mike Del Mundo. 

    Fernando Blanco, the artist on this arc of Batwoman, is one of the few people doing something in between. He can do the six panel grid and he's really effective at it. He's got a very clean line and an eye for blocking out motion that gives you a strong sense of the space it's happening in. But take a look at this exclusive preview of Batwoman #16. He doesn't just block out the motion of Batman, Batwoman and Alice to give you a sense of their movements - he actually moves and twists the panels themselves to show mood and motion. This is a classic trick that feels very early Vertigo, like something Mark Buckingham did a lot on Sandman. Needless to say, it's well done and very entertaining to read.

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

    BATWOMAN #16 Written by MARGUERITE BENNETTArt by FERNANDO BLANCOCover by DAN PANOSIANVariant cover by MICHAEL CHORetailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for details.“The Fall of the House of Kane” part four! Alice’s deadly plague of virus-ridden bats may have been torn from the sky, but she still roams free. Now Batman must do whatever it takes to stop her—even if that means going through her sister, Batwoman, to do it. Blood ties and betrayal wage war in a clash for control that’s been in the making since the day Kate Kane put on the cowl: Batman vs. Batwoman!

    Now go look at what I was talking about! This is good comics.


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    Warner Bros. has updated its "unauthorized commercial activity" guidelines surrounding Harry Potter fan events.

    News Kayti Burt
    Jun 18, 2018

    Warner Bros. is cracking down on Harry Potter fan events, according to a recent AP article. The story highlights a Pennsylvania-based Harry Potter fan festival that was recently sent a letter by Warner Bros. to inform the organizing committee of new guidelines that prohibit festivals from using of any names, places or objects from the series. The event has since been changed to a more generic Wands & Wizards theme.

    "Warner Bros. is always pleased to learn of the enthusiasm of Harry Potter fans, but we are concerned, and do object, when fan gatherings become a vehicle for unauthorized commercial activity,” the company said.

    This represents a more active policing of copyright for the historically fan-unfriendly Warner Bros. In addition to the Pennsylvania festival, directors for Harry Potter-themed events in other cities, such as Aurora, Illinois and Ithaca, New York, have reported receiving letters.

    “Magic existed before Harry Potter, and you can’t put a trademark on enthusiasm and creativity,” said Darlynne Overbaugh, the director of Ithaca’s 'Wizarding Weekend," who received a letter from Warner Bros. in February.

    While fans argue that these sorts of usually free events only increase interest in the intellectual property, in this case the world of Harry Potter, Warner Bros. seems to think that these sorts of fan events endanger their trademark.

    “Obviously one could argue that is the wrong business decision and that by having these informal pop-up festivals, it makes all the Harry Potter fans more enthusiastic and more likely to go to the movies and theme parks,” Gregory Mandel, professor of intellectual property law at Temple University, told the Associated Press.

    Whatever the financial truth, this is not a good look for Warner Bros., which has already frustrated Harry Potter fans with decisions surrounding the Fantastic Beasts film franchise. Will these frustrations result in a loss in revenue for Warner Bros.? We'll see.


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

    News Joseph Baxter
    Jun 18, 2018

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

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

    Pet Sematary News

    The Pet Sematary remake movie has officially started rolling cameras! Co-director Dennis Widmyer commemorated the kick-off by posting a photo of himself standing alongside co-director Kevin Kolsch, together brandishing their newly-christened clapperboard.

    Pet Sematary Remake Cast

    Amy Seimetz has landed the female lead role in Pet Semetary, per Deadline.

    Seimetz will play the wife of Jason Clarke's Louis Creed and mother of their son who jumpstarts the tragic and terrifying events of the film. In the 1989 film, this role was embodied by Denise Crosby's Rachel Creed. Seimetz has been on a bit of a roll lately with a prominent role in Alien: Covenant and a brief appearance in Stranger ThingsSeason 2. 

    She first came to prominence directing and producing several independent films and became better known as an actress after her starring role in Upstream Color alongside her eventual fiance Shane Carruth. She also produced, wrote, and directed Starz The Girlfriend Experience series.

    John Lithgow has joined the Pet Sematary reboot, reports EW.

    The film icon and former 3rd Rock from the Sun star will play the crucial – exposition-providing – role of Jud Crandall (Fred Gwynne's character in the 1989 movie), the next-door neighbor to Louis Creed (Jason Clarke), who opens the proverbial Pandora’s Box on the titular Pet Cemetary with a well-intentioned suggestion to reanimate young daughter Ellie’s pet cat, Church (more on him, later). However, Jud’s further warnings against escalating the scope of those burials will, unfortunately, go unheeded. – An understandable result, since his warnings against the prurience and debauchery of dancing in 1984’s Footloose also experienced that same trajectory.

    Lithgow, a range-possessing veteran American actor, has been utilizing his comedic skills in recent films such as Pitch Perfect 3, Daddy’s Home 2 and the imminently-returning NBC sitcom, Trial & Error. He also recently flexed his dramatic muscles with an Emmy-winning performance on Netflix's historical hit series, The Crown, as Winston Churchill, the beloved U.K. wartime prime minister for whom “Church,” the famously undead cat of Pet Sematary, was named.

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

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

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

    Pet Sematary Remake Release Date

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

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


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    The Back to the Future direct will direct a new version of the classic children's tale with Guillermo del Toro and Alfonso Cuaron producing.

    News Nick Harley
    Jun 19, 2018

    Here’s the bad news: Guillermo del Toro will not be directing Warner Bros. adaptation of The Witches, which is understandable, given that the man is attached to a ton of different projects. Now for the good news: Robert Zemeckis is taking the reins.

    Roald Dahl's The Witches, the story of a boy who must stop a coven of children-hating witches after they’ve turned him into a mouse, was adapted by the studio once before in 1990, with Anjelica Huston starring as the leader of the coven. Guillermo del Toro had been attached to a remake since the beginning of the decade, but he will now serve as a producer on the project alongside fellow Oscar winner Alfonso Cuaron.

    Zemeckis, who recently completed work on his upcoming Steve Carell-starrer Welcome to Marwen, will also pen the script with his ImageMovers partner Jack Rapke lending a hand. The duo will also serve as fellow producers.

    This marks the second high-profile Rolad Dahl adaptation on the slate for Warner Bros., who also have another remake of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, with Paddington filmmmaker Paul King attached to direct, on the docket.

    We’ll have more information about Robert Zemeckis’ The Witches as it becomes available.


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    Who killed the Joker in Batman: Damned? The evidence points to the Caped Crusader himself!

    NewsJohn Saavedra
    Jun 19, 2018

    Batman and the Joker are at it again, only this time the Clown is dead and the Dark Knight is losing his mind. In the new DC Black Label prestige three-part miniseries from Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo, Batman: Damned, the World's Greatest Detective must solve the Joker's murder -- and HE's the prime suspect. 

    Billed as a supernatural horror story, Damned teams the Caped Crusader with John Constantine, as they explore Gotham City's criminal underground for the truth behind Joker's death. The solicitation for the first issue, which arrives on Sept. 19, teases an uneasy alliance between the Dark Knight and the infamous occult detective.

    This is the third collaboration between Azzarello and Bermejo. They previously worked together on the villain-centric graphic novels Lex Luthor: Man of Steeland Joker. Azzarello recently collaborated with Frank Miller, Andy Kubert, and Klaus Janson on The Dark Knight III: The Master Race.

    Here's the solicit for the first issue of Damned:

    BATMAN: DAMNED #1

    written by BRIAN AZZARELLO
    art and cover by LEE BERMEJO
    variant cover by JIM LEE

    DC BLACK LABEL, the highly anticipated new imprint from DC Comics, starts here! The Joker is dead. There is no doubt about that. But whether Batman finally snapped his scrawny neck or some other sinister force in Gotham City did the deed is still a mystery. Problem is, Batman can’t remember…and the more he digs into this labyrinthian case, the more his mind starts to doubt everything he’s uncovering.

    So who better to set him straight than…John Constantine? Problem with that is as much as John loves a good mystery, he loves messing with people’s heads even more. So with John’s “help,” the pair will delve into the sordid underbelly of Gotham as they race toward the mind-blowing truth of who murdered The Joker.

    BATMAN: DAMNED is a bimonthly super-natural horror story told by two of comics’ greatest modern creators—a visceral thrill-ride that proudly puts the “black” in BLACK LABEL.

    PRESTIGE FORMAT
    ON SALE 09.19.18
    $6.99 US | 48 PAGES


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    The Star Trek Enterprise crew will meet Optimus Prime in this planned comic book crossover event.

    NewsKayti Burt
    Jun 19, 2018

    IDW Publishing has announced a new crossover comic book series that will feature the crew of Star Trek's USS Enterprise meeting the Transformers's Optimus Prime. According to io9, the Star Wars vs. Transformers crossover will launch in September. The run will last four issues and is being done by John Barber, Mike Johnson, Phillip Murphy, and Leonardo Ito.

    Both The Transformers and Star Trek franchises have had long histories, so what era of each will the comics crossover cover? For Transformers, it will be inspired by the original, 1984 animated series. For Star Trek, inspiration will be found in the animated series that ran from 1973 and 1974, partially bridging the gap between The Original Series and The Motion Picture.

    The storyline will begin with the Enterprise as they investigate a distress call on the edge of Klingon-controlled space. Upon their arrival, they find a dilithium mine that is under attack by an aircraft from the 20th century. Surprise! These aircrafts are actually Deceptions, so Optimus Prime and the Autobots arrive to help the Enterprise crew sort things out.

    “This is a crossover several decades in the making, and we could not be more thrilled to bring it to fans,” Mike Johnson said in a press release. “John and I are having a blast writing the first meeting of Starfleet and Cybertronians, and Phil is the perfect artist to bring these two franchises together on the page.”

    Who wouldn't? The beauty of comic books is that crossovers tend to more possible. I never thought I needed to see a Star Trek/Transformers crossovers, but, now that it's been announced, I can't wait to see what happens.


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    The Joker truly is the best man at Batman and Catwoman's wedding.

    News John Saavedra
    Jun 20, 2018

    This article contains MAJOR Batman spoilers.

    When the Joker heard that his beloved Batman was going to marry Catwoman, he immediately offered up his services as the Dark Knight's best man... by murdering a church full of people and shooting his fiancee. Tom King and Mikel Janin spin yet another deceptively complex yarn, a two-parter that's almost as good as "The Gift," the best arc of King's run thus far. 

    Batman #48 left the fate of the Bat and Cat dynamic duo in the air, as the Clown Prince of Crime outsmarted the Caped Crusader and forced Catwoman into a daring rescue mission where the unpredictable Joker had the upper hand. I was admittedly a little underwhelmed by the first part of "The Best Man," although the panel where Batman and Joker pray together is pretty outrageous. But issue #49, the lead-up issue to the big wedding in the oversized #50, which is out on July 4, puts everything in perspective.

    By the end of the issue, in his own psychotic way, Joker gives Batman the best wedding gift he can: his own life. As Joker reveals to Catwoman after they fatally wound each other (the Clown shoots the Cat in the gut and she slits his throat with her claws), he knows that what Bruce has wanted all along is a bit of happiness. While it seems at first that the Clown's attack is fueled by jealousy -- and, in a way, it certainly is -- Joker has really lured the duo to the church in order to stop Bruce from finding that happiness. 

    "He can't be happy," the Joker tells Catwoman. "And also be Batman."

    If Joker kills the Cat, his dance with the Dark Knight continues as normal. The Clown has always believed that he and the Bat are one and the same, that they complete each other. Without Batman, what is left for the Joker? (And how peculiar is it that King's Batman#49 sort of mirrors Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's #49, the issue when an amnesiac Bruce decides to become Batman again?!) 

    Of course, the Clown's plot isn't all that it seems. There are two sides to it, and King and Janin play with this motif of duplicity masterfully, incorporating nonsensical conversations about Two-Face and just what the hell the Penguin's umbrella is meant to be (or is it a cane?). Not to mention that the Joker and Catwoman are two sides of Batman's psyche -- one part thrives in misery while the other is searching for happiness and peace. Batman is a complex character and here are both sides of him having a tug of war.

    Now, it's worth pointing out that the ending of the story is left open to interpretation: does the Joker actually mean to kill Catwoman, or is the Joker playing one final prank on the Caped Crusader and therefore getting that great punchline he so desires? (As Joker points out, "Death is a kind of victory. It's the punchline to the joke. If you've told it well enough, you can take your bow.") Joker knows that if he tries to reload his gun, he'll probably bleed out. But is his own life worth "saving" Batman? Joker decides it is, as he moves his hand away from his wound and tries to reload and shoot Catwoman. But he's too slow. He dies, but not before taking an (involuntary?) bow...

    To me, it seems that Joker lets himself to die, and therefore allows Bruce to have the happiness he deserves -- even if it means that Batman will be happy without him. In a sick way, and credit to King and Janin for making me feel even the slightest bit of sympathy for the Joker, he makes the ultimate sacrifice for his beloved. The Joker really is the greatest best man the Bat could have wished for, which is why Catwoman breaks out in laughter in the final panel.

    This also feels like an object lesson for the soon-to-be-wed. Joker shows Batman and Catwoman how quickly this could be taken away from them, how quickly love can turn into heartbreak. His message to the happy couple? Don't muck this up. 

    I've thought of at least two others ways to interpret this story since the last paragraph, but I think it's time for you to draw your own conclusion. For now, King's version of the Joker has met his. How this affects the run going forward (and the upcoming "Three Jokers" story from Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok) is anyone's guess. What we do know is that the Joker will return. And probably not as a hopeless romantic. 

    Batman #49 is out now!


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  • 06/20/18--09:16: New Dick Tracy Series Coming
  • It looks like the dam has finally broken, and there will be plenty of new Dick Tracy adventures to look forward to!

    NewsMike Cecchini
    Jun 20, 2018

    Every single time the words Dick Tracy are mentioned on this website, I am obligated to point out what a bizarre, tangled mess the character's legal rights have been over the past few decades. How bad are they? So bad that even though the 1990 movie with Warren Beatty wasn't a roaring success, nobody is allowed to make a sequel (details on that here). So bad that numerous creators have pitched assorted Dick Tracy comic book series over the years only to be left out in the cold (a promising pitch from Archie Comics was the most recent victim). So bad that not even Bruce Campbell was able to get a TV series out of the gate.

    Ah, but there is hope! IDW Publishing, who have done an excellent job managing the reprint library of comics' greatest detective (screw you, Batman!) appear to have finally solved the case.

    Dick Tracy: Dead or Alive! is a four issue mini-series by Michael Allred and Lee Allred, with Rich Tommasso and Laura Allred.

    Here's the official synopsis:

    “The All-American detective just made the biggest collar of his career… and it only cost him his job. Now, the honest cop has packed his bags for “the city by the lake,” and its criminal community is firmly in his sights! Featuring cover art and co-written by Eisner Award-winning superstar Michael Allred (Madman, iZombie, Silver Surfer), the new series features strange villains, crooked cops, and gunfights galore.”

    Check out the cover, and then keep going for more info!

    “Dick Tracy is an instantly recognizable old-school icon, like Mickey Mouse and Superman, but he’s been out of the spotlight a while and due for a curtain call. We want to shake it up and show the glow in the 21st Century,” Allred said in a statement. “I always get a big kick working with my first-ever collaborator and big brother, Lee Allred, as well as my favorite colorist and favorite wife, Laura. But I’m crazy excited about working with Rich Tommaso! He is one of the most innovative and thrilling cartoonists working in comics. I’m lit up with giddy shock that he’s letting me slop ink on his beautifully rendered pencils, keeping me on my toes to do the work justice on this thrilling series!”

    Dead or Alive pits Dick Tracy, champion of Law and Order, against not only brutal crime bosses but the corrupted forces of the Law itself,” added Lee Allred. “Every hand, cop, and crook will be against Tracy as he battles the enemies of true justice. With Rich, Mike, and Laura as the art team, classic crime drama has never looked so good!”

    Rich Tommaso posted some art on his Instagram, as well...

    My question, though, is what does this mean for the OTHER new Dick Tracy graphic novel currently in development over at Hermes Press? Or did Hermes jump the gun like Archie did? 

    Whatever. I'm just glad to see more Dick Tracy stories being told. Maybe this is a good sign and we'll get a cable TV series next. I'm getting ahead of myself, though. Let's make sure this series actually comes out first.


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  • 06/20/18--09:17: Lost Shazam! Series Returns
  • Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil is getting a deluxe reissue from DC.

    NewsMike Cecchini
    Jun 20, 2018

    With the Shazam movie opening in April 2019, it's time for DC to dig into their back catalog and give fans the best of what the character has to offer. And let's face it, the Shazam Family was never better than during the glory days of the 1940s, when steered by the likes of Otto Binder, C.C. Beck, Pete Costanza, and others. There's a fairytale simplicity to many of those early stories, and a level of craftsmanship that wasn't always present in many of their peers. 

    One story in particular, "The Monster Society of Evil" is a particular standout from the era. Serialized over two years (at a time when all superhero comics only contained multiple, self-contained stories), it told the story of Mr. Mind, the evil worm and his quest for world domination. It's often cited as a key Captain Marvel story, but it hasn't been officially reprinted in decades, making this particularly tough to track down.

    Here's the official info from DC's solicitations (first revealed by the good folks at 13th Dimension):

    At first he was simply a disembodied voice on the radio, taunting Captain Marvel with his ever-more-fiendish schemes to conquer the world. Then, readers gasped as Mr. Mind was revealed—all two inches of him! Was this lowly creature really the epitome of evil he claimed to be? Fortunately, Billy Batson understood the folly of underestimating someone based on their size! As small as he was, Mr. Mind was big trouble—especially once he turned the menacing members of his Monster Society of Evil loose to wreak havoc!

    This new title collects the entire 24-chapter serial from the Golden Age of Comics with new essays by Fawcett Comics expert P.C. Hamerlinck and film producer and comics historian Michael Uslan. Collects stories from CAPTAIN MARVEL ADVENTURES #22-46! 

    So why hasn't this seen the light of day? Well, a good chunk of that is because of the use of offensive racial stereotypes that were unfortunately commonplace in comics of the era. Something tells me that at least one of the essays contained in the new book will deal with this, in much the same way that Warner Bros. and other studios have placed disclaimers on old animated cartoons that featured similarly unacceptable racist caricatures. You can find more details on why "The Monster Society of Evil" has been buried for so long here.

    DC has done an excellent job of making the back catalog of characters who are getting the TV or movie treatment readily available for fans. Hopefully this is only the beginning. I'm ready for a Shazam: The Golden Age tpb or omnibus, as those stories haven't been reprinted since the now defunct Archives editions.

    Meanwhile, the Shazam movie opens on April 5, 2019, and we're due for a new comic series from Geoff Johns this fall.


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    Interested in delving into the world of Harry Dresden, professional wizard? Here's what you need to know...

    NewsAlana Joli Abbott
    Jun 20, 2018

    Brief Cases is our current Den of Geek Book Club pickHead over to Goodreads to chat about Brief Cases and everything Dresden Files...

    Have a problem only a wizard can solve? Hire Harry Dresden—Chicago's only professional wizard—or, at least, check out why this spell-caster has rocked the NYTimes Bestseller lists for fifteen novels and counting.

    With fifteen novels and a host of short stories, several collected in the just-released (and recently reviewed Brief Cases), The Dresden Filesmay seem like a tough case to crack. It's intimidating to jump into a series that's already so well established, but, for your summer reading list, grabbing a series with this many entries may be just what the beach requires. So whether you're hanging out on the shores of Lake Michigan in Harry's home turf or catching rays near the kiddie-pool in your backyard, here's what you need to know.

    Magic noir

    The Dresden Files blends two fiction genres: the hard-boiled private eye drama and urban fantasy. Dresden's certainly not alone in the urban fantasy detective game, but he's one of the longest-running and best-known protagonists to rise to the top of that genre. In fact, Butcher for a long time resisted the "genre writing drone" style; he admitted in an interview with SF Site back in 2004 that his attempts to follow his writing teacher's advice—"just to prove to her how awful it would be"—turned into Storm Front, the first book in the series.

    Which just goes to prove: if the genre ain't broke, don't fix it.

    Buy Storm Front by Jim Butcher

    Harry Dresden lists himself in the Chicago phonebook as a "consulting wizard," which means his clients come in two flavors: smart or desperate. The world in which Harry operates still largely denies the existence of magic, but despite that denial, it's full to the brim of magical organizations. At the beginning of the series, Harry is really just another independent operator, a down-on-his luck magical investigator who tends to get consulted and blamed by the local police in equal measure.

    A larger world

    While Harry's independent attitude may have appeal, it can only carry through so many books. In fact, by the end of book three, Grave Peril, Harry's responsible for being the catalyst behind a war between two of the world's paranormal factions: the White Council (the governing group of wizards of whom Harry is a member) and the Red Court of Vampires. Some of this is personal: one of the Red Court vampires captured and half-converted his girlfriend. Some of it is that Harry's like a terrier—he can't let go of a job, no matter who's bribing, begging, or threatening him to get out.

    As Harry gets further embroiled in paranormal politics, readers get a broader view of how the magical world works. There are four types of vampires, at least three types of werewolves, hosts of fae, ghosts, and demons—not to mention Bigfoot. And all of them have history, which means the deeper into the series a reader gets, the more of the world there is to see and explore.

    While the books are grounded in Chicago, complete with an organized crime boss so thoroughly intimidating and well prepared that he's signed the magical community's accords and operates as nobility among the paranormals, a lot of action deals with or takes place in the Nevernever. This is the spirit world, which overlaps but isn't at all the same shape as the mortal realm—it's a lot bigger. Governed where it intersects the mortal world by the Winter and Summer Courts of faerie, the Nevernever is a dangerous and scary place (but then... Chicago can be, too).

    A growing protagonist

    It's also not just the world that gets bigger. Harry's character, a consistently down on his luck, hardboiled PI for most of the early books in the series, has plenty of family issues to work through. His own father died when he was very young, so when, in Changes, he finds out he's a father, the stakes of the series become incredibly personal. It's not just about saving the world anymore; it's about saving his own child.

    Butcher knew he'd be running a risk making such a huge change to Harry's life. He wrote in an author's note in Brief Cases, making a big change "is something that is really, really contraindicated when you're writing a long-running series. You don't go majorly changing your main character without facing a loss of audience."

    But a big change like that is also what keeps the main character from becoming stale, from simply having the same adventures over and over. In addition to his hardboiled career, Harry has also been a teacher, a Warden of the White Council (think magical law enforcement), and dead. Kind of.

    Dabbling vs. commitment

    Not sure if you're ready to commit to the long haul of a fifteen book (and growing) series? Lucky for you, Butcher has two short story collections set in the world: the aforementioned Brief Cases and 2010's Side Jobs. Both have spoilers for the series, but they also give a fantastic, small-bite glimpse of the world.

    Buy Brief Cases by Jim Butcher

    But, once you start small, it's likely you'll get entangled in the plots of wizards and vampires. And while fifteen books may seem like a lot, with more still to come, Butcher keeps up a steady writing page, with almost one book (collections included) published in the series every year since he started it in 2000. (You're also in luck because we're currently giving away a complete set of Dresden Files books!)

    So grab Storm Front and delve into The Dresden Files. Or, you know, if you're desperate, find a Chicago phonebook and look up Wizard for Hire.


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    Destroy! Destroy Superman! Nuclear Man will make his official in-continuity DC Comics debut this summer.

    News Mike Cecchini
    Jun 21, 2018

    "I am experiment? I am freak-o?"

    Holy moley, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace is terrible. It's terrible in lots of ways, big and small. But to me, the worst of it is that it had potential. Yes, you're reading this right. I enjoy watching this movie from time to time because I can see glimpses of the Superman movie it should have been.

    For one thing, this was a movie with its heart in the right place. Christopher Reeve really wanted to make a movie about the threat of nuclear war, and he only wanted to return to the role of Superman if he could tell stories with a message. Unfortunately, the script was an overly simplistic mess with an absurdly low budget for a superhero flick. Reeve, and most of the rest of the cast, deserved better.

    And then there's Nuclear Man, a character who made a striking visual in 1987, the first brightly-colored baddie to take on the Man of Steel on screen. Frankly, Nuclear Man could have been cool. A different power set from the Phantom Zone villains of Superman II, a costume with a color scheme perfectly designed to offset the primary colors of Supes' suit. He had some freaky side abilities, too. The guy gave Superman radiation poisoning by scratching him with his gross, roach-ass looking long nails, for starters.

    What's more, Nuclear Man was almost, kind of, if you squint a little, the first live-action version of Bizarro. He's made from Superman's DNA...not quite an "imperfect duplicate" but the theme is there. And there was an extended sequence cut from the theatrical version of the film which involved a VERY Bizarro-like "prototype" Nuclear Man. 

    So yeah, maybe Nuclear Man deserved better, too. And maybe he's gonna get his chance. August's Superman #2 will feature the official comic book debut of Nuclear Man, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Ivan Reis. Nuclear Man's only other comic book appearance was in the comic adaptation of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, and since that's not in-continuity, it doesn't count. But this one does, and for real, this Ivan Reis art is insane...

    That sure is Nuclear Man, crazy costume, disgusting nails and all. And he sure does look pretty badass when drawn by Reis (who, admittedly, can make anything look good). I never thought I'd be this excited for a Nuclear Man comic, but here we are.

    Superman #2 arrives on August 8. I am so there. I wrote more about the history of Superman on film right here.


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    Contributors to the anthology include Lin-Manuel Miranda, Michelle Kwan, Roxanne Gay, and Issa Rae.

    News Kayti Burt
    Jun 21, 2018

    Actress and activist America Ferrera is editing an anthology of essays around the theme of American identity, in particular about navigating between cultures. According to the Associated Press, the book will be called American Like Me and will include works from Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, author Roxanne Gay, and figure skater Michelle Kwan. This a great idea, America Ferrera.

    In addition to editing the book, Ferrera is donating a portion of her proceeds to the nonprofit organization Immigrants: We Get the Job Done Coalition, which "includes 12 essential nonprofit organizations that provide life-changing support – legal representation, advocacy and social services – to immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers throughout the United States." 

    American Like Me is being published by Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, and will be out on September 25th, which is not soon enough for my liking. This would be a great anthology to read around the Fourth of July bonfire.

    In addition to the aforementioned contributors, other writers will include: Orange is the New Black's Uzo Aduba, Moana's Auli'i Cravalho, Top Chef's Padma Lakshmi, Insecure's Issa Rae, author Jenny Zhang, actor and formal civil servant Kal Penn, and Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas.

    More news as we hear it.


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    Thor: Ragnarok has more cosmic Marvel easter eggs and references than we were expecting...and we were expecting a whole lot!

    Feature Mike Cecchini
    Jun 22, 2018

    Thor: Ragnarok isn't just the best Thor movie. It's the most cosmic Marvel movie this side of the Guardians of the Galaxy series. And without any pesky, annoying Earthlings (ahem, Midgardians) hanging around to clog up the proceedings it's got more Marvel references and easter eggs per frame than any of its predecessors. It's now available to own on Blu-ray and DVD, too.

    Thor: Ragnarok is a feast for Marvel fans, and it will probably take me a second viewing to catch everything in it, simply because in nearly every scene there's a design, a piece of architecture, or a background character who positively must have come from the comics page. So with the full understanding that I definitely missed something (or a few something), it's up to you, dear readers, to help me out. Spot something I didn't? Shout it out in the comments, or give me a holler on Twitter. If it checks out, I'll update this!


    What is Ragnarok?

    - Ragnarok, of course, is the Norse "twilight of the gods." Key points of the mythological Ragnarok that are explored here include the death of Odin and Thor losing an eye (although he usually has to do that to himself in order to gain knowledge, but we'll take the badass fight instead for cinematic purposes).

    Marvel has touched on Ragnarok more than once in the comics, most notably in stories by Walt Simonson (whose influence is all over this movie) and more recently by Michael Avon Oeming and Andrea Di Vitto. It was in the latter that we see a couple of small elements in this movie, notably the shattering of Thor's hammer, the death of the Warriors Three, and Surtur's prominence.

    The Villains


    Surtur

    The first villain we meet in the movie is Surtur, and fans of Walt Simonson's take on Thor will be excited. While the character has been around since the Lee/Kirby days, it's really the Simonson stuff that made the character pop on the comics page, and the visual we get here is more in line with his vision.

    - Surtur ends up kind of manifesting a giant snake, and I wonder if this is supposed to represent the Midgard Serpent, disturbance of which is another harbinger of the mythological Ragnarok.

    Hela

    Hela first appeared in Journey into Mystery #102 (1964) by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. That crazy headdress has always been part of the party...

    Although this page is even more like the look we get in the movie...

    Hela’s origin is different from both her comic and mythological versions. It's way too much to get into here, but we have a whole article about her comic origins for you.

    - Her cinematic origins have a lot less in common with her comics counterpart than they do with Angela. Angela is...hoo boy...she's the lost daughter of Odin and Frigga killed in a secret war with the later hidden tenth realm, "heven." She was raised by the angels in the tenth realm after it was sealed off by Odin as punishment for their rebellion. She first appeared in the comics version of Age of Ultron and was revealed as Thor and Loki's sister in Original Sin. She's currently living out her best life, having conquered Hel to free the trapped soul of her girlfriend, then abdicating the throne.

    (Her real life origin is somehow more convoluted: she was created by Neil Gaiman and Todd MacFarlane for Spawn before she got caught up in a decades-spanning lawsuit about the rights to Miracleman and got traded to Marvel when the rights to the latter settled there. It's seriously wild.)

    It's nice to see Fenris hanging around, not just because he's a giant, pointy-eared doggie, but because Fenris played a reasonable role in the aforementioned Michael Avon Oeming/Andrea Di Vitto Ragnarok comic.

    Skurge

    - Skurge "The Executioner" appeared way the hell back in Journey Into Mystery #103 in 1964, and like so many characters in the Thor movies was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. He didn't really come into his own until the Walt Simonson days, and the bit in the movie with him having a change of heart and using that pair of M16s to hold a bridge is straight out of Thor #362 by Mr. Simonson.

    The Grandmaster

    - One cool thing you might want to know is that the Grandmaster is the brother of the Collector from Guardians of the Galaxy. We wrote much more about his bonkers history right here if you're interested.

    - In the Planet Hulk comics, Grandmaster wasn't a factor, and the arena battles Hulk fought in weren't referred to as "The Contest of Champions." There was, however a Contest of Champions comic book series, where Grandmaster was very much the primary antagonist. That's his thing, pitting folks against each other, and he's quite good at it.


    Valkyrie

    - Valkyrie has an extraordinarily complicated comic book history. Fortunately, we detailed it in easily digestible form for you right here.

    - Valkyrie is referred to as "Scrapper 142" which might be a reference to The Incredible Hulk #142. While that isn't her first comic book appearance, but it's the first appearance of one of the versions of the character...trust me, her comic book backstory is a total headache. Just read the article I recommended and see if you can make sense of it, otherwise we'll be here all day.

    - The cranky lady who hangs out with Grandmaster and Valkyrie is called "Topaz" in the credits, but she's definitely not the same Topaz as the comics. Comics-Topaz is a sorceress originally from Werewolf by Night and not a bloodthirsty space badass.

    - She may not resemble the comic book version of the character all that much, but that final blue and white armor she wears is definitely a nod to her comic book color scheme.

    Thor: Ragnarok - The Planet Hulk Connection

    - So, Sakaar is, literally the "Planet Hulk" of the comics. Not that it's a planet full of Hulks or anything, but that is indeed where it all takes place. In the comics, though, Hulk didn't accidentally end up hurtling off into space, he was actually sent their by Tony Stark and Reed Richards because he's such a menace. It...it didn't end well for anyone involved.

    But Hulk did indeed end up as a Gladiator on Sakaar (it had nothing to do with the Grandmaster). However, he didn't fight Thor in the arena...he fought the Silver Surfer! But since the Surfer is sadly unavailable for Marvel Studios (which is a damn shame...can you imagine what they could do with this character?) they swapped him out for Thor. This fight ALMOST happened in the animated adaptation of Planet Hulk, except there it was the Beta Ray Bill version of Thor in the arena with Hulk.

    Beta Ray Bill may not actually be here, but he is in spirit. You can see his face as one of the sculptures on the tower that Hulk resides in (more on this down below, because it'a s LOT!)

    - Korg, believe it or not, is a character who has been here since Thor's very first appearance in 1962. You know the cover of Journey Into Mystery #83 with Thor taking out a bunch of alien rock dudes? Well, it turns out, one of 'em is Korg.


    Korg returned for the Planet Hulk storyline (and he's far less of a goofball there) and along with Miek, was one of Hulk's "Warbound" crew of rebels/revolutionaries. I kind of wish the revolution element of this movie was a little more pronounced, but whatever, they had bigger fish to fry.

    Speaking of Miek...

    Miek, the weird little insectoid creature is actually a native of Sakaar in the comics. I don't think that's the case here, otherwise there would be more of him.

    - Hulk is introduced to the arena as "The Incredible Hulk" which is, of course the name of his comic and the famed TV series. But he is also referred to in casual conversation as "astonishingly savage." The Savage Hulk has been the title of more than one Hulk series throughout Marvel history. After Hulk's first solo comic fizzled out in the early 1960s he spent time co-headlining Tales to Astonish, which eventually just became The Incredible Hulk series.

    - When Hulk says “No Banner only Hulk” that's a sentiment he's uttered at various points in his comic book history. But there have been some notable times when Hulk has remained in Hulk form for extended periods, sometimes maintaining more of Banner's intelligence, too. Planet Hulk was one of them (although he was far from a full-on Banner style genius), although he definitely was smarter during his years with The Pantheon. We detailed a couple of "no Banner only Hulk" type stories here.

    - Hulk's cool looking bed doesn't appear to be a design lifted straight out of the comics, although it bears a slight resemblance to the canopied bed he has in the Future Imperfect story. Maybe not enough for me to mention it here, but I'm mentioning it anyway.

    Miscellaneous Cool Stuff

    So it looks like we've finally identified everyone on Hulk's tower here...

    The first face (the one with the elephantine nose) is Man-Thing. Yes, Man-Thing, infamous for appearing in a comic known as, I shit you not, Giant-Sized Man-Thing.

    Down and to the right is Marvel's Ares. Perhaps not coincidentally, Michael Avon Oeming, who wrote the comic book story that inspired much of this movie, also wrote a killer Ares comic. (thanks to @ItsEvoTF on Twitter for setting me straight on this one)

    To the left is none other than Beta Ray Bill! I desperately need to see him in a Marvel movie soon.

    Well, it might not be Bill, it could be a member of his race, but based on that connection to the animated version of Planet Hulk, I could see him being an earlier Champion here.

    Down and to the right is the rarely seen these days Hulk baddie, the Bi-Beast (he's the guy with two faces). Thanks to Pat for spotting that, because that's a really cool catch.

    Gary M. Miller believes that the bottom two faces are actually little-known Hulk villain Dark-Crawler...

    ...and legendary Kirby dragon Fin Fang Foom!

    - Loki references “that time I turned you into a frog” to Thor. This is a wonderful, wonderful reference to one of Walt Simonson's wackier Thor ideas...Throg. No, I swear to god.

    Now, to be fair, Throg isn't our Thor, and Loki had nothing to do with it, but it's a real thing because Walt Simonson is a genius.

    Thor's short-haired look has been a thing recently in The Unworthy Thor comics.

    It goes along with his new weapons, too...

    Thor's "club" looks looks like the mace that Marvel's version of Hercules wields. Which reminds me, they really need to introduce Hercules into the MCU.

    - As we show up at Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum at 177a Bleecker Street you can hear the strains of a harpsichord, which is more than a little reminiscent of Michael Giacchino's score for that movie.

    And while that movie was very much an origin story, here we get a more fully-formed Doctor Strange, and that's exactly what I wanted from the movie version of the character in the first place. He should be mysterious and powerful, and when other heroes come to him for help it should be because they have absolutely no idea what the hell else to do with themselves. 

    Also, the addition of Doctor Strange to a movie that also includes Valkyrie and Hulk can't be an accident. All three of them were founding members of the comic book version of The Defenders, a team which bears almost no resemblance to the ones on Netflix.

    - While on Earth, we get a nod to old comics continuity. Thor's umbrella is his Mjolnir stand in, and in Norway, he bangs the umbrella on the ground to change from cool streetwear Thor to Asgardian-battle-ready Thor. In the old comics, Dr. Don Blake used to bang his walking stick on the ground to change from human doctor to Norse thunder god.

    But don't start thinking that Thor is supposed to be Don Blake in these scenes! For one thing, we already had a Don Blake joke in the first Thormovie. For another, his more working-class attire and the fact that he's still pretty clearly, um, Thor, puts him more in line with his Walt Simonson-era alter ego, Sigurd Jarlson.

    - Did you catch all the cameos in the play scene? That was Matt Damon as Loki, Sam Neill as Odin, and Chris's brother Luke Hemsworth as Thor.

    - We finally get an explanation for how Odin can have an Infinity Gauntlet hanging around in his trophy room: it's a fake.

    - While we've seen the visual cue plenty of times in the movies, this is the first explicit explanation of how Thor flies around: by throwing his hammer and catching it at the last second so it can pull him through the air. I've always loved this, as weird and implausible as it seems.

    - “Wrath of the Mighty Thor” sounds like it could be a comic book title. And indeed, many Thor comics have been called The Mighty Thor.

    Like we've seen in both Guardians of the Galaxy movies, so many of the spaceships look kinda like some of the crazy ships that were designed by Chris Foss for Alejandro Jodorowsky's lost Dune movie.

    Here's one for comparison:

    You can see more here if you don't believe me.

    And for real, if you haven't seen the Jodorowsky's Dune documentary, I can't possibly recommend it enough.

    - When our heroes are returning to Asgard and they pass out in the wormhole, I can't help but be reminded of a similar sequence in Mike Hodges' brilliant Flash Gordon movie from 1980. Both movies are incredibly colorful and bonkers space operas.

    Not only is there a strong Jack Kirby influence visible in virtually every character and costume design you can see here, even in the shape of that crazy doorway, but there appears to be literal Jack Kirby artwork on the walls there.

    What you're seeing is a detail from a page from Fantastic Four #64.

    Throughout so much of the rest of the movie, you can see that kind of crazy Kirby-inspired circuitry and technology. Nearly everything has "Kirby tech" markings that remind me of details from a piece of non-comics related Kirby art called "Dream Machine."

    Seriously, the Kirby influence is EVERYWHERE in this flick...

    Thor: Ragnarok Post Credits Scenes

    There are two key takeaways here. The first is that it seems likely the surviving Asgardians will set up shop on Earth, like they did during J. Michael Straczynski and Olivier Coipel's era on the character.

    But more importantly, that is most definitely Thanos' ship that appears before them, and that is going to throw a monkey wrench into things. Don't expect "New Asgard" (or Asgardia as it was known in the comics) to actually happen before Avengers 4 is finished at this point. We explained more about Asgardia and what this ending means for the future of Thor and the entire Marvel Universe right here!

    OK, these deserve a little more time, so we went into a little more detail on them here.

    I'll be updating this throughout opening weekend, especially as I get more out of a second viewing. But in the meantime, if you've spotted something I missed, help us out in the comments or hit me up on Twitter!


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    We're tracking down every Marvel Comics reference and easter egg in Luke Cage Season 2! Help us out!

    Feature Mike Cecchini
    Jun 22, 2018

    This article contains nothing but Luke Cage Season 2 spoilers. We have a spoiler free review here.

    It finally happened. Marvel finally delivered a second season of a Netflix show that was superior to the first. Luke Cage Season 2 is not only better than its first, but it's one of the best seasons of any of the Marvel Netflix efforts.

    And of course, it has plenty of Marvel Comics lore packed into it. Although, to be honest, it seems to have eased off a little in that regard. I noticed this in Jessica Jones Season 2, as well, where the show was comfortable enough in its own mythology now that it no longer has to nod to the wider MCU at every opportunity. Admittedly, I don't know my Luke Cage lore quite as well as some of the other Marvel stuff, so I'm bound to have missed some important stuff.

    And that's where you come in.

    Did you see something I missed? Did I just get something wrong? Drop it in the comments or hit me up on Twitter. If it checks out, I'll update this and give you a shout!

    Now let's get to work...

    Luke Cage Season 2 Episode 1: Soul Brother #1

    "As Luke adjusts to his growing fame and tries to shut down the flow of heroin branded with his name, someone from his past reaches out."

    - The African American College Alliance hoodie Luke is wearing in the show's opening is the first of this season's countless nods to '90s hip-hop culture (provides “too big a target” ala Batman)

    Speaking of clothing, D.W. is pushing a yellow Luke Cage t-shirt, which is, of course, one of many references to the "classic" comic book costume that we will never see actually worn on this show (other than in that origin sequence from season one).

    - I'm rather fond of the shirt that has "Luke Cage" written like the old Run DMC logo. Marvel should get on those.

    - This talk of Luke needing “sponsorship” is another step on the road to him becoming the "Hero for Hire" of the early comics.

    - We've seen Atreus Plastics pop up around these shows before, notably on Daredevil, but even using them to drive a secondary story here is the most we've gotten with them.

    - Speaking of fictional Marvel companies, we also get a mention of Hammer Industries here, but that's hardly an easter egg, right?

    - Luke is reading Ta-Nehisi Coates, which is usually a good idea on its own. But there's a fun Marvel connection here, too. For the last couple of years, Coates has been writing Black Panther for Marvel Comics, and he's about to kick off a run as writer on Captain America.

    - Dontrelle "Cockroach" Hamilton first appeared in Power Man #28. He's more of a crime boss in the comics, whereas here he's kind of a mid-level soldier.

    - Bushmaster first appeared in an issue of Iron Fist, believe it or not. Iron Fist #15, to be precise. The Bushmaster of TV is definitely cooler, certainly from a personality, clothing, and soundtrack standpoint, than the one of the comics.

    His fashion sense here is way better than that in the comics...


    - Remember when we all thought Rosario Dawson was playing Night Nurse? Well, the song that Luke and Claire dance to is none other than Gregory Isaacs'"Night Nurse." 

    Luke Cage Season 2 Episode 2: Straighten it Out

    "Luke tests out his abilities on the ballfield, Misty ruffles feathers at the precinct, and Mariah plans a reunion to boost her image." 

    - Yes, that's really New York Jets coach, Todd Bowles. Yes, the Jets could really use a player like Luke Cage. No, it ain't gonna happen. Yes, the Jets will be terrible for the rest of my life.

    - Luke runs a 3.72 40 yard dash. That's a full half second faster than the record, and I'm pretty sure that would also put him on pace for an Olympic record 100 meter run, too.

    - We get a killer Gary Clark Jr. performance at the Paradise. This is Clark's second superhero connection in the last year, as he also performed that version of "Come Together" that was used in the trailers for Justice League.

    - We also get the return of Wilson Fisk's lawyer, Ben Donovan, in this episode. He's a lot of fun, and it's not a spoiler to say that he's around a bit more this season.

    Luke Cage Season 2 Episode 3: Wig Out

    "Worried Luke is headed down a dark path, Claire pays a visit to his father. Bushmaster makes a bid for Mariah's guns." 

    - Raymond "Piranha" Jones first appeared in Power Man #30 in 1976. He's far less respectable in the comics, and has sharpened, knife-like teeth. I...don't think that would work on these shows.

    - This episode mostly plays like a pilot for a Daughters of the Dragon series with Misty Knight and Colleen Wing. For the record, I am 100% okay with that. When the pair go for drinks after their workout, they're even rocking the appropriate color scheme with their outfits.

    - When Bushmaster knocks Luke the fuck out, they add that cool dancehall reverb to his voice to indicate that Luke is reeling. Nice touch.

    Luke Cage Season 2 Episode 4: I Get Physical

    "As footage of his fight with Bushmaster goes viral, Luke struggles with the aftereffects and follows a trail of clues to Tilda's shop."

    - Misty says "I was 5" when Tyson lost his first fight (to James "Buster" Douglas). That puts her age as roughly 33, as that fight took place in 1990.

    - The song being performed at the Paradise here is a pretty great version of BB King's signature tune, "The Thrill is Gone."

    - The line about being "dead/frozen in ice" is one of the only acknowledgments of an Avenger we get this season, I think. Which is nice, considering how hard the early seasons of all these shows worked so hard to remind us at every turn that this all takes place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

    - In the comics, Misty Knight's bionic arm was designed not by Rand Enterprises, but by Stark Industries. Of course, Danny himself didn't design this. What I didn't know is  that in Uncanny X-Men #264, tech-savvy mutant Forge revealed that he "worked on the designs."

    For, ahem, legal reasons, that's not the case here, but that's still a cool little fact (thanks to Bright Moments for bringing that to my attention!) 

    Luke Cage Season 2 Episode 5: All Souled Out

    "Desperate to drum up quick cash for a lawsuit, Luke weighs an offer from a superfan. Mariah invites Tilda to join the new family business."

    - Putting Foggy Nelson and Ben Donovan together is such a great move, and really, it's the kind of thing I want to see more of in these shows and the wider MCU. The real beauty of a shared universe isn't that everything has to culminate in some world-shaking team-up, but rather that secondary characters can zip in and out of other shows or movies as needed. It enriches the overall world, gives fans something to look forward to, without derailing the telling of an actual, primary story.

    - "Hire this hero." You see where all this is going, right?

    - Is that a brand new Luke Cage themed tune from Ghostface Killah? I believe it is!

    Luke Cage Season 2 Episode 6: The Basement

    "As a wave of violence rocks Harlem, everyone races to connect the dots between Piranha, Mariah, Bushmaster and the grisly find at the clinic."

    - We get our obligatory WJBP TV sighting in this episode, the MCU NYC's local news station. Is this even an easter egg anymore?

    - Luke hides out with Piranha in a movie theater. In his early comics, Luke set up his "hero for hire" offices above an old movie theater (that's also where D.W. came from). That theater was in Times Square, not Harlem, back when Times Square was far, FAR weirder than the neon nightmare it is today.

    - Luke says that a more chill, domestic life "sounds good to me." In the comics he (kinda) pursues that with Jessica Jones. These shows are definitely playing a very long game with getting them together on a long term basis, and that's just fine, but I feel it's appropriate, and I don't think this line is accidental.

    - But the better line is when Luke asks Piranha, "where's my money, honey?" That's a direct quote from Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #9 when Luke went after Dr. Doom of all people. This actually happened...

    Luke Cage Season 2 Episode 7: On and On

    "Reeling from the showdown on the bridge, Luke teams up with Misty to find Piranha. The hunt for the snitch heats up. Bushmaster reveals his endgame."

    - You might remember in my season one guide how I went on and on about all of the Superman parallels with Luke. Everything from his personality to certain imagery all reminded me of very specific moments in Superman history. This season has dialed that back a little, but the way Luke surfaces in the water after his defeat at the hands of Bushmaster reminds me of when Supes nearly drowns with a Kryptonite rock around his neck in Superman: The Movie.

    Other than that, this episode was pretty light on comics references that I could find, but if I'm wrong, hit me in the comments!

    Luke Cage Season 2 Episode 8: If It Ain't Rough, It Ain't Right

    "While Shades, Mariah and Misty comes to terms with the previous night's events, Bushmaster searches for a way to boost his strength."

    I didn't notice anything specifically Marvel-related in this episode, but the crime scene photos kind of gave off a vintage Martin Scorsese vibe.

    Luke Cage Season 2 Episode 9: For Pete's Sake

    "Hunkered down in a makeshift safe house, Luke and Misty butt heads over how to handle Mariah. Meanwhile, long-buried family secrets come to light."

    Again, I didn't spot any Marvel stuff, but please correct me in the comments or on Twitter! But there's plenty in the next one, so...

    Luke Cage Season 2 Episode 10: The Main Ingredient

    "Danny Rand insists on helping Luke hunt for Bushmaster -- the Iron Fist way. Mariah sets out to reclaim her empire. Misty pursues a traitor."

    - OK, now we're into it. This is the real deal "Power Man and Iron Fist" team-up episode. They get this right even more than they did in The Defenders (which, admittedly, had to introduce/establish Luke and Danny's friendship).

    It says a lot about how good this season is overall that they manage to bring Danny Rand, a character who has been mercilessly roasted by fans and critics, and it feels...right? Iron Fist was a mess of a show, Danny was a remarkably unlikeable character there, although there was some growth The Defenders. Here, it feels like Danny has adjusted to the modern world, and is generally less up his own ass. This seems like another good sign for Iron Fist Season 2.

    In fact, Danny's eagerness to be seen as cool by Luke and his friends gives him an almost endearing quality, even though he tries too hard. Their interaction here reminds me a lot of the recent Power Man and Iron Fist comic series by David F. Walker and Sanford Greene. Worth noting that in those stories, Jessica Jones still finds Danny impossibly irritating.

    Anyway, if Netflix decides they have too many shows, I think this season proves that an ongoing Luke/Danny/Misty/Colleen show would work just fine.

    - We see Danny wearing a "Sweet X-Mas shirt." That is, of course, Luke's catchphrase, but the green and yellow color scheme is comic book Iron Fist costume colors. Maybe he'll get a proper costume in his second season. 

    - I love, love, love the fact that Turk Barrett has gone legit by working in a head shop.

    - The Power Man/Iron Fist action scene is set to "7th Chamber" from the first Wu Tang Clan album, which consists of nothing but perfect tracks. But you already knew that.

    - That massacre scene is really, really hard to watch. But I have to wonder is the "drinking bird" moment supposed to be an homage to the "origin" scene in Sam Raimi's Darkman?

    Luke Cage Season 2 Episode 11: The Creator

    "Shaken by Mariah's latest act, Luke combs the city for a witness. Flashbacks reveal a fateful encounter between the Stokes and McIver families."

    - Season one used a flashback episode to tell Luke's origin. Here, we get it for Bushmaster, although I have to say...this one is much better.

    What's more, Bushmaster's screen origin has virtually nothing to do with his comic book one, which is a little more convoluted than I feel like getting into here. But again, like almost every villain this show has chosen to adapt for TV, they're doing it better here.

    Luke Cage Season 2 Episode 12: Can't Front on Me

    "Luke teams up with an unlikely ally to combat a new strain of heroin. As Shades plows ahead with his plan, a massive party draws everyone to the club."

    - We get another cool Luke Cage t-shirt design, this one with chains on it, referencing his first ever comic book cover (and the chain belt he used to wear).

    - This episode introduces Annabella Sciorra as Rosalie Carbone. Rosalie is a fairly minor character in Punisher history, and I have to wonder if we'll be seeing her in The Punisher season 2.

    Rosalie refers to Mariah as a "pebble in my shoe." I feel like this is a historical reference. Carlos Marcello, a New Orleans mafia kingpin, was suspected of involvement in the assassination of President Kennedy. He reportedly once said in regards to JFK, "take this stone out of my shoe." So Rosalie's line here feels like a statement of intent.

    - Shades says they beat Luke down "Billy Batts style." Billy Batts was the street name of William Bentvena, a Gambino family mobster whose murder at the hands of Tommy DeSimone was immortalized in a notoriously brutal scene in Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas. And if you didn't already know this, then "go get your fuckin' shinebox."

    - Another classic Wu-Tang track from Enter the Wu-Tang (36th Chambers) makes its appearance here. Between both seasons of Luke Cage and The Defenders' use of "Protect Ya Neck" I feel like half this album has now made it into the Marvel Universe. I'm not complaining.

    - The final fight with Luke and Bushmaster, with Luke putting him in a headlock, well...I'm getting more Superman vibes here. This feels like the end of Man of Steel, where Superman infamously (and controversially) killed General Zod. But leave it to Luke Cage to understand Superman better than actual Superman stuff has from time to time, as he won't kill his enemy here.

    Luke Cage Season 2 Episode 13: They Reminisce Over You

    Mariah adapts to her new circumstances and goes to extremes to cover her tracks. Luke takes a new approach to protecting Harlem.

    - Luke listening to "The Payback" while he takes down a bunch of mafia goons is just priceless.

    - As far as I know, Luke has never taken over the role of "crime boss" in the comics. Matt Murdock, on the other hand, has run crime in Hell's Kitchen once or twice, but this is new for Luke, even though his intentions (and reasoning) seem pretty sound.

    - You'll note that I avoided talking about Tilda throughout this guide. That's partially for spoiler purposes, and partially because more than anyone else, she bears absolutely NO resemblance to her comic book counterpart of "Nightshade." And just like all the other changes the show makes, this one is also for the better. 

    But Tilda definitely makes her transformation into someone who could very well become a supervillain in this episode, and I expect she'll be back for Luke Cage season 3.

    His choice of that Thomas Hoepker photo portrait of Muhammad Ali for The Paradise seems appropriate. Like Luke, Ali was the toughest man around, an icon, a symbol for a generation. But he was also deeply flawed and human, was outspoken about matters of politics and race, and generally didn't give a damn about what the establishment thought of him. Even with his new wardrobe, Luke is far less flamboyant than the Champ ever was, and I can't imagine his personality becoming so boisterous (despite the dabbing video he allowed himself to shoot back in the first episode). But there's a sense that Luke is now less conflicted about how others perceive him. This is going to make one hell of a season three.

    So what did we miss? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!


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    Brian Michael Bendis will deliver his first Batman story as part of a new line of giant-sized DC comics exclusive to Walmart.

    NewsJohn Saavedra
    Jun 22, 2018

    DC has announced a new partnership with Walmart to produce an exclusive giant-sized, 100-page comic line for the store. The monthly books will collect reprints of classic Superman, Batman, Justice League, and Teen Titans stories from the last 20 years as well as new ones from the publisher's current talent. Of note is Batman Giant, which will feature Brian Michael Bendis' first Batman story for DC. 

    Bendis, who is currently revamping the publisher's Superman line, is writing a 12-part epic Batman tale called "Universe," with Doom Patrol artist Nick Derington on pencils. The story will see Batman traveling the globe to solve a mystery after his latest encounter with the Riddler. "Universe" will begin with Batman Giant #3 in September.

    If you're wondering how awesome this story is going to look, check out this Batman art Derington tweeted earlier today:

    You can pick up Batman Giant issues, as well as Superman Giant, Justice League of America Giant, and Teen Titans Giant at any of the 3,000 participating Walmart stores for $4.99. All four books will launch on July 1. Subsequent issues of Superman Giant and Justice League Giant will be released on the first week of each month while Batman Giant and Teen Titans Giant will arrive every third week. 

    Superman Giant #3 will also feature the start of a 12-part story by current Batman writer Tom King and legendary artist Andy Kubert. The story is called "Up in the Sky!" and sees Superman searching for a kidnapped girl across the galaxy. 

    You can check out the full line-up and cover for the first issue of Batman Giant #1 below:

    “One More Chance” by Jimmy Palmiotti and Patrick “Patch” Zircher (Original Batman story)
    “Hush, Part 1: The Ransom” by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee (Reprinted from Batman No. 608, 2002)
    “Welcome to Gotham” by Kyle Higgins and Eddy Barrows (Reprinted from Nightwing No. 1, 2011)
    “Hot in the City” by Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner and Chad Hardin (Reprinted from Harley Quinn No. 1, 2011)


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    Netflix has given a series order to Raising Dion, a sci-fi story about woman raising a super-powered young son.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Jun 23, 2018

    Another superhero series is joining Netflix’s original content lineup. However, this one won’t quite fit with its existing Marvel small screen scene. Raising Dion, an independently-created superhero sci-fi story that carries a heartfelt family twist, has been given a full series order by the streaming giant.

    Netflix has announced that Raising Dion will arrive on its platform with a 10-episode series order. The story stems from a 2015 short film and comic book of the same name, created by Dennis Liu. It depicts the innately unconventional parenting task of a widowed African-American woman, whose 7-year-old son Dion possesses an array of potent superpowers (telekinesis, energy projection, invisibility, etc.). Yet, despite its fantastical premise, the focus rests more on the realistic implications that one would have when raising a child who has a normal sense of wonder and mischief, but happens to possess incredibly dangerous abilities. Indeed, the sight of the mother packing a pistol while watching some men-in-black types outside her door drives home the idea that threats are everywhere.

    Discussing the Netflix pickup, creator Dennis Liu expresses in a statement:

    “I started this project many years ago because I wanted to see more diverse representation on film and television and I’m excited to partner with Netflix, who I know shares that commitment. More than ever, we need more stories told from different points of view and my hope with Raising Dion is to create a cinematic experience for all families that will lift your spirits and make you laugh and cry.”

    Helping Liu in that endeavor with Raising Dion will be appointed showrunner Carol Barbee, who has also written the script for the first episode. Barbee, a veteran television writer/producer, has been attached to a wide variety of series, notably in the sci-fi/action arena, with Falling Skies, Touch, Hawaii Five-O and Jericho, as well as dramas such as UnREAL, Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce and Judging Amy. She is joined by exec producers in Macro’s Charles D. King, Kim Roth and Poppy Hanks, along with Kenny Goodman and Michael Green.

    Intriguingly enough, also joining Barbee as an executive producer on Raising Dion will be actor Michael B. Jordan (Creed, Chronicle, Fantastic Four), who is onboard via his Outlier Society Productions. Moreover, Jordan will also appear on the series on occasion, playing the late father of the titular super-powered-sprout, who (at least, in the original short,) is implied to have been a military man who was cut down in action.

    Regarding Michael B. Jordan’s presence on the series, Netflix VP of Original Content Cindy Holland states:

    “We haven’t seen this type of superhero story before — an origin myth full of imagination, wonder and adventure, all grounded in the experiences of a modern single mother. Michael B. Jordan is an exciting and dynamic talent, and I’m excited to see him, Macro, Carol and the team translate Dennis’ unique vision to television.”

    Raising Dion does stand as a potentially unique family-centric take on an increasingly crowded superhero/sci-fi genre, also carrying much of the same X-Men-esque drama about society’s depicted fear of superpowered people; something that will undoubtedly be rooted in socially topical themes.

    There’s no word yet on when Netflix expects Raising Dion to arrive.

    Raising Dion Cast

    Jason Ritter has joined Michael B. Jordan in being one of the first actors cast on Raising Dion. Ritter will portray Pat, a comicbook fan, scientist, and best friend to Jordan's character, Mark. After Mark dies, Pat fills in as a paternal figure for Dion and shares a special bond with her. Someone's gotta raise Dion! The show's title demands it.

    Ritter has had a strong recent history of television roles and is coming off of starring in ABC's Kevin (Probably) Saves the World.


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