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Articles on this Page
- 06/25/18--08:30: _Deadpool vs. Deaths...
- 06/25/18--10:42: _The Hate U Give Mov...
- 06/25/18--11:21: _Neil deGrasse Tyson...
- 06/25/18--12:50: _A Discovery of Witc...
- 06/25/18--18:30: _Star Wars: Anakin S...
- 06/26/18--11:00: _The Walking Dead Al...
- 06/26/18--15:32: _Superman Fights Rog...
- 06/26/18--16:16: _Daniel H. Wilson In...
- 06/28/18--09:57: _How Sci-fi, Edward ...
- 06/28/18--13:30: _The Guernsey Litera...
- 06/28/18--18:06: _Science Fiction’s C...
- 06/29/18--11:03: _Venom: 15 Craziest ...
- 06/29/18--13:02: _Trail of Lightning:...
- 06/29/18--17:03: _Bowie’s Space Oddit...
- 07/02/18--10:11: _Deathstroke & Robin...
- 07/03/18--08:36: _Captain America: Th...
- 07/03/18--11:59: _Captain America Com...
- 07/03/18--13:21: _Black Chamber: An A...
- 07/04/18--09:10: _Captain America 4: ...
- 07/05/18--14:24: _Best New Fantasy Bo...
- 06/25/18--08:30: Deadpool vs. Deathstroke: The Inter-Promotional Rivalry
- 06/25/18--10:42: The Hate U Give Movie: Trailer, Release Date, Cast
- 06/25/18--11:21: Neil deGrasse Tyson Writing Astrophysics Book for the Youth
- 06/25/18--12:50: A Discovery of Witches Trailer: Witches, Vampires and Demons Clash
- 06/25/18--18:30: Star Wars: Anakin Skywalker Meets Thrawn in New Book
- 06/26/18--11:00: The Walking Dead Almost Cast Henry Rollins as Negan
- 06/26/18--15:32: Superman Fights Rogol Zaar in Exclusive Man of Steel #5 Preview
- 06/26/18--16:16: Daniel H. Wilson Interview: The Clockwork Dynasty
- 06/28/18--18:06: Science Fiction’s Conscience Harlan Ellison Dies at 84
- 06/29/18--11:03: Venom: 15 Craziest Moments in Marvel History
- 07/02/18--10:11: Deathstroke & Robin Hit the Road Together
- 07/03/18--11:59: Captain America Comics Guide and Reading Order
- 07/03/18--13:21: Black Chamber: An Alternate WWI Spy Adventure
- 07/04/18--09:10: Captain America 4: Villains We Want to See
- 07/05/18--14:24: Best New Fantasy Books in July 2018
Wade Wilson and Slade Wilson may exist under different publishers, but that doesn't stop them from referencing each other now and then.
There would not be a Deadpool if there was no Deathstroke. Or maybe there would be in another form. I don’t know. Back when Marvel's New Mutants #98 was being made, Rob Liefeld really wanted to draw DC’s Deathstroke and made enough alterations to his new character to make it legal. Fabian Nicieza gave him a more unique voice and, gradually, other writers gave him his own identity.
Sure, the basics are still there. They have extremely similar names, the same job, healing factors, and both rock guns and katanas. Yet by this point, the two are accepted as two very different characters that stand on their own. As intellectual properties, they’ve both found huge success. Deadpool is the king of R-rated cinematic superheroism while Deathstroke has been a major villain on two separate TV shows, got the post-credit treatment in Justice League, and is the main antagonist in the upcoming Teen Titans Go to the Movies animated movie.
It’s a shame that nothing happened between the two characters back when Marvel and DC were friendlier and did crossovers on the reg. Amalgam Comics came out before Joe Kelly made Deadpool memorable, so instead they just merged Deathstroke together with Daredevil and created Dare the Terminator...who was for some reason a woman. Even when Deathstroke appeared in Marvel vs. DC, it was a one-panel showdown with the Punisher. Ponytail Punisher. Friggin 90s.
Even though we’re past the days of Marvel and DC crossovers, the two characters have still referenced their connection in one way or another. Here are five such instances.
Back when Deadpool was nothing more than a recurring X-Force villain, Deathstroke had his own solo series. Since Deadpool wasn’t a breakout character yet, all he really had was the fact that he was a Deathstroke ripoff, his snarky dialogue, and his unique word bubbles (more thick outline than yellow background). Marv Wolfman and Sergio Cariello introduced Ravager III in the pages of Deathstroke the Terminaot #41.
He had the same word bubbles, an appearance that merged Deadpool with any given Liefeldian X-character, and the name Wade. He was introduced as Slade Wilson’s half-brother, but due to sharing the same mother, he didn’t share the same last name. Wade LaFarge became a regular villain in the series, at least succeeding in killing Deathstroke’s mother as well as the mothers of Slade’s various children.
Years later, during Geoff Johns’ Teen Titans run, Wade returned for the sake of being killed by Rose Wilson. She avenged her mother and took up the Ravager mantle herself.
THE DEATHSTROKE OF EARTH-3
Because comic books are weird as hell, it’s worth noting that Superman and Batman discovered each other’s identities via an old comic where Kent and Wayne shared a room in a cruise ship, saw trouble was happening, turned off the lights, changed into their tights, turned the lights back on, and were all, “Huh. Awkward.”
With Superman/Batman Annual #1, Joe Kelly decided to do a post-Crisis update on that idea by showing a more modern and humorous take on that adventure. He had Ed McGuinness on art and wouldn’t you know it, they’re the creative team that helped make Deadpool into a brilliant character in the first place. In this comic, Deathstroke was hired to assassinate Bruce Wayne and the ship’s journey took them all into the Bermuda Triangle, which in turn brought in some of the doppelgangers from Earth-3.
We already know Ultra Man and Owlman, but we also got the alternate counterpart to Deathstroke. Even though he was wearing the same color scheme as Deathstroke, the Earth-3 version had the physical appearance and behavior of one Deadpool. In fact, one of the running gags was that he is actually named "Deadpool" but he was constantly maimed before he has a chance to identify himself and make this an issue with Marvel’s lawyers.
Deathstroke remained grounded and very annoyed, making things even better.
Ravager and Earth-3 Deathstroke are just two of three Deadpool knockoffs in the DC Universe. More recently, Harley Quinn’s comic introduced Red Tool who is just...an excuse to write Deadpool into Harley’s series as a supporting character and nothing else. I mean, turnabout is fair play (this is how Street Fighter got Dan Hibiki, after all), but at least OG Deadpool wasn't a total carbon copy. As far as I know, Red Tool’s yet to run into Deathstroke.
DEADPOOL KILLS DEATHSTROKE
Cullen Bunn is a guy who writes a gazillion Deadpool miniseries and will probably write a gazillion more. He’s likely writing one right now as you read this. One of his stories includes Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe (based on the concept of Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe), which not only got two sequels in Deadpool Killustrated and Deadpool Kills Deadpool, but also a redo of sorts in Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe Again (which itself is a subtle prequel to Old Man Logan).
This is not to be confused with the unreleased late-90s one-shot Deadpool Almost Destroys the Marvel Universe.
Anyway, the initial Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universeis about an alternate version of Deadpool who finds out that he’s a fictional character and becomes a brutal nihilist instead of wise-cracking and going with the flow like the Deadpool we know. Deadpool Kills Deadpool involves a multiversal war between the good Deadpools and the evil Deadpools. While it’s mainly about mainstream Deadpool vs. nihilist Deadpool, there are still plenty of appearances by other established Deadpools of the multiverse. 5 Ronin Deadpool is there, there’s a cameo by Ultimate Deadpool, and hell, the whole miniseries is practically an excuse to kill off the mooks from Deadpool Corps like Headpool and Lady Deadpool.
There are a lot of other Deadpool variants tossed in there, but one that’s notable is one that appears to be Deathstroke the Terminator, only with a black and red color scheme. Unfortunately, nothing is really said of this guy as he’s taken down in one panel during a montage.
THE SHADE OF SABRETOOTH
During the Gerry Duggan/Brian Posehn run of Deadpool, there was a sweet gimmick where every now and then, they would do a flashback issue. Scott Koblish would attempt to make the art look like it was straight out of a specific decade. This led to a very important issue taking place in the 90s with art made to look like Rob Liefeld.
Years ago, Deadpool was working for a scientist named Butler. Butler claimed that with the help of studying Deadpool and removing his organs (which would just grow back), he could help cure diseases and the like. Deadpool went along with this, not realizing that Butler had more devious plans for him.
Butler sent Deadpool and Sabretooth to Canada to pull off a hit. At first, the two got thrown off course with a random fight with Alpha Flight. Then the two regrouped at a bar, where they had an argument and Deadpool stormed off to do the job himself. The job turned out to be Deadpool unknowingly burning down his parents’ house and then having his mind wiped over again just to test Butler’s memory-wiping serum. Even psychotic killer Sabretooth gave Deadpool a look of silent sympathy over this situation.
Years later, Deadpool did start to gradually recall the incident like an unraveling sweater. The loose thread was from recalling Sabretooth insulting him. The insult was Deadpool calling Sabretooth a Wolverine ripoff, only for Sabretooth to respond, “Tell Slade I said hi.” Even with memory scrubbed, that line still stuck with him deep down all those years.
Weird for Sabretooth to be the one to break the fourth wall, but there it is.
TEEN TITANS GO TO THE MOVIES
Getting to this point feels like the culmination of a brilliant punchline. First we get the Teen Titans cartoon that ran for five seasons that was silly when it needed to be and serious when it needed to be. Deathstroke was the main recurring villain, known only as Slade (voiced by Ron Perlman) and had barely any similarities to Deadpool to begin with. Not that it mattered, since Deadpool had yet to be recognized as a mainstream entity.
Then Teen Titans Go happened. The same five heroes in a sillier, stupider, and far more successful series where everyone is a piece of shit and nothing matters. It’s fucking great. Fans of the old show call it the Devil and the show laughingly flips them off in response. Slade is a non-entity to the point of it being a gag.
Now with Teen Titans Go to the Movies, they’re finally blowing that Slade load (now voiced by Will Arnett) and the first thing the Titans do upon meeting their marquee villain is confuse him for Deadpool. Because animated Slade hasn’t been around for over a decade and Deadpool’s become the big hotness. Even if Deathstroke was first, he’s always going to be weighed down by the fact that he’s labeled as the guy Deadpool was based on.
Ah well. At least their movies both agree that Green Lantern was a mistake.
Gavin Jasper still chuckles over how downright mean that "Return of Slade" episode of Teen Titans Go was. Follow Gavin on Twitter!
Everything you need to know about The Hate U Give movie adaptation starring Amandla Stenberg.
The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas' young adult novel about a young black girl who witnesses the death of her childhood best friend at the hands of a police officer, has been on the New York Times bestsellers list for Young Adults for 60 consecutive weeks... and that is before its film adaptation has hit theaters.
The Hate U Give Movie Trailer
The Hate U Give movie adaptation of Thomas' bestselling novel is being directed by George Tillman Jr. (The Longest Ride), from a script by Audrey Wells (Under the Tuscan Sun). The latest news? We've got a trailer! It's heartbreaking, infuriating, and inspiring, just like its source material. Check it out...
While at this summer's BookCon, Den of Geek attended a panel with Hate U Give author Angie Thomas where she spoke about her involvement in the movie adaptation. You can read about that here.
EW released the first photo from The Hate U Give movie. It shows film protagonist Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) with her childhood friend Khalil (Algee Smith). Check it out...
And here's another official image...
The Hate U Give Cast
Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) stars as main character Starr Carter, with Algee Smith (Detroit) as Khalil. The cast also includes: Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, Common, Issa Rae, Anthony Mackie, and KJ Apa.
Wondering how all these actors will fit into the story? Here's the official synopsis of the book:
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
The Hate U Give Release Date
The Hate U Give movie will hit theaters on October 19.
Young, aspiring astrophysicists are in a hurry, too, and Neil deGrasse Tyson has a book for them!
Neil deGrasse Tyson is all about sharing his knowledge and passion for the universe and the laws of its construction with others. Now, he's looking to translate this passion to a young audience...
According to EW, deGrasse Tyson is adapting his best-selling book Astrophysics for People in a Hurry into a book for young readers. It will be called Astrophysics for Young People in a Hurry, and will be co-written with Gregory Mone (The Boys in the Boat). Keep an eye out for Astrophysics for Young People in a Hurry in February 2019.
Astrophysics for Young People in a Hurry will ask and answer many of the same questions posed and explained in Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, such as "What is the nature of space and time?,""How do we fit within the universe?," and "How does the universe fit within us?" You know... simple stuff. Except, in this youth-oriented edition, the answers to such questions will include color photos and infographics. (I'm not gonna lie... I still appreciate these elements as an adult reader.)
Check out the official synopsis from Norton Young Readers:
Neil deGrasse Tyson realizes that young people are in a hurry, just like grownups! Kids are busy, but they still ask the important questions … Browsable, attractive, and accessible in the midst of a busy schedule, Astrophysics for Young People in a Hurry will invite young readers to join in the excitement of answering the biggest questions in the cosmos.
More news on Astrophysics for Young People in a Hurry when we hear it.
A Discovery of Witches adapts Deborah Harkness's novels, with Matthew Goode and Teresa Palmer as the leads.
Attn: fans of Deborah Harkness's 2011 fantasy novel trilogy A Discovery ofWitches: the Oxford-set tale will be adapted as a television series courtesy of Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner's Bad Wolf production company. (You'll recognize those names as two of the TV producers responsible for resurrecting Doctor Who with Russell T Davies back in 2005).
With A Discovery of Witches set to be headlined by Matthew Goode and Teresa Palmer, the supporting cast to this more sophisticated take on the YA/sexy-monsters genre is starting to become clear. Expect a contemporary love story wrapped in an examination of "science, magic and being 'other' in the modern world" says Sky's head of drama Anne Mensah. Filming occurred last fall in locations such as Oxford, Venice and at Wales' new Wolf studios.
A Discovery of Witches Trailer
The first trailer for A Discovery of Witches has arrived, introducing us to its world, in which a fantastical array of supernatural species such as witches, vampires and demons hide, having ceded the world to humans. However, when scholar/historian/reluctant-witch Diana Bishop (Teresa Palmer) and vampire Matthew Clairmont search for a powerful ancient witch tome in Oxford, it the floodgates of potential war amongst the magical species becomes unleashed. While there’s potential to break their ancient laws that severely punish miscegenation, it also bears deadly implications for everyone.
Kate Brooke (Bancroft, Mr. Selfridge) wrote the script for A Discovery of Witches and serves as showrunner. Original novel author Deborah Harkness is onboard as an executive producer, joined in that capacity by Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner of production company Bad Wolf. Pertinently, Bad Wolf is also the production company developing Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy for television.
A Discovery of Witches Release Date
A Discovery of Witches will premiere in the U.K. on Sky One later in 2018. Its U.S. home, platform and release date are still unknown.
A Discovery of Witches Cast
A Discovery of Witches is headlined by the duo of Matthew Goode (Watchmen, The Imitation Game) and Teresa Palmer (Hacksaw Ridge, Warm Bodies), showcasing a forbidden romance between Palmer’s alchemy professor Diana Bishop and Goode’s vampire Matthew Clairmont. The plot involves the discovery of a mysterious manuscript in Oxford's Bodleian Library, which throws Diana and Matthew together and threatens to unravel the world as we know it.
Back in September, author Deborah Harkness unleashed a deluge of casting reveals for A Discovery of Witches. While there’s quite a lot to unpack from her post (seen below), two notable names came up amongst this group that should please peak television enthusiasts.
Louise Brealey will play Gillian Chamberlain, an American witch who attempts to recruit Diana (Palmer) into her coven, hoping to uncover the secrets she possesses. Brealey, an English actress, is best known from Sherlock as the morgue specialist Molly Hooper, whose sheepish advances toward the title character are awkwardly rebuffed regularly. She’s also fielded TV runs on Back, Clique and Ripper Street and has been seen in films such as Victor Frankenstein and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
Owen Teale will play Peter Knox, a witch and expert in all things occult, who also serves as a consultant to the police. He’s motivated by a search for a powerful book called Ashmole 782, which contains secrets he believes should only be kept by witches; something that makes him an antagonist to Diana. Teale, who hails from Wales, is best known from his role from Game of Thrones as the bullying, recalcitrant Night’s Watch Master-at-Arms Alliser Thorne, who famously lead a stabby mutiny against Jon Snow. His 30+ year career is prolific, with recent television runs on Pulse, River, Stella and Line of Duty.
The cited supporting cast will also consist of names such as Malin Buska, Aiysha Hart, Edward Bluemel, Trevor Eve, Gregg Chillin, Elarica Johnson, Aisling Loftus, Greg McHugh, Dustin Demri-Burns, David Newman, Adam Stevenson, Sadie Shimmin and Michael Culkin.
Worlds collide when Anakin Skywalker has a run-in with Thrawn in the days before the rise of the Empire!
It's been two years since Chiss military mastermind Grand Admiral Thrawn returned to Star Wars canon after being wiped away from continuity by Disney. The character, who was first introduced by writer Timothy Zahn in the beloved 1991 novel, Heir to the Empire, which kickstarted an era of post-Return of the Jedi books and comics, has stuck around ever since.
Thrawn played a major role in the third and fourth seasons of Star Wars Rebels, going up against the fledgling Rebel Alliance and its young Jedi hero, Ezra Bridger. In the series finale, the Rebels fought to free the planet Lothal -- the center point of the series -- from the clutches of the Grand Admiral and they succeeded, sending Thrawn into parts unknown (it gets a little complicated, so just watch the series).
While the villain is currently MIA (we suspect this won't be the case for long), he's still starring in a new series of prequel novels written by Zahn. His follow-up to last year's Thrawn is called Thrawn: Alliances and it features one of the most unexpected moments in Star Wars yet: the first meeting between the Chiss villain and Anakin Skywalker before his transformation into Darth Vader!
In Thrawn: Alliances, the Grand Admiral and the Dark Lord of the Sith must work together to complete a mission for the Empire, and we'll also get to see their first meeting in a flashback. StarWars.com has an excerpt of a scene between Thrawn and Anakin that you won't want to miss.
While Vader and Thrawn grace the regular cover of the book, Del Rey is selling a special edition cover at San Diego Comic Con. Check out the cover below:
It sounds like this book is a must-have for fans who have been wondering what Thrawn was up to during the Prequel era. Fans will finally get some answers when Thrawn: Alliances on July 24 from Del Rey.
Punk rock icon and actor Henry Rollins was almost cast as Negan in The Walking Dead...
The Walking Dead’s Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) may have finally been defeated by Rick and the gang, but that's not stopped fans familiar with the character going back to his 2012 debut in the pages of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead #100 from wondering what could have been. Things could have been especially different for the character had AMC chosen to cast the man whom artist Charlie Adlard used as the basis for the look of the barbed-wire-bat-brandishing baddie: Punk Rock icon and actor Henry Rollins. Interestingly enough, this fact almost got Rollins cast as that very character.
In an interview with Forbes, Rollins officially dropped an interesting fact about an audition that was formerly protected by a non-disclosure agreement. It seems that the speculation of many (myself included) who initially named Rollins as a strong candidate to nab the part of Negan has been validated. Indeed, such speculation was warrante since Rollins has confirmed that he did, in fact, audition for the role of Negan on The Walking Dead. While Rollins described his audition as “beautiful,” it was ultimately unsuccessful.
According to Rollins, the Negan role blipped his radar due to the rampant Internet speculation that rendered him a “shoo-in” to at least audition for the part, seeing as it was initially based on him. As Rollins recounts of getting that shot:
“A woman that works in my office put my name and the character’s name into an internet search and all this speculation came up. I went for the audition and there were five pages of really cool dialogue with all these curses and it was beautiful, but I didn’t get it.”
Despite missing out on a potentially groundbreaking role on one of television’s most popular dramas, Rollins isn’t bitter about this apparent misfire of fate. In fact, he had nothing but praise for the man who ultimately landed the part in Jeffrey Dean Morgan, stating:
“I later saw a photograph of the guy who did get it and he looks almost exactly like the comic book rendering. The woman at my office watched the episode where he turns up, the dialogue that I auditioned with was in the show and she said, ‘It should have been you.’ Obviously it wasn’t or this conversation would be very different but that happened.”
Rollins certainly would have made an amazing Negan and that’s not just because the character was modeled after his signature intense look, demeanor and raw, rage-filled voice that has been demonstrated onstage as the frontman of Black Flag and Rollins Band and as an actor. Indeed, Rollins has maintained a presence on both the big and small screens for decades, notably with his 2009 run on television’s Sons of Anarchy and films such as Bad Boys II and Heat, and also starring in 2015's action thriller He Never Died. Thus, the idea of him being cast as Negan would not have been an inconceivable concept. However, despite claiming to regularly audition for parts he considers "great," Rollins confesses that, “rarely does anything come my way.”
Nevertheless, the hypothetical scenario that would have had Rollins delivering that devastating monologue and swinging the barbed-wire-bat Lucille as Negan would not have changed anything in regard to the cliffhanger controversy that plagued the end of season 6 and the start of season 7. Jeffrey Dean Morgan did put in an intense and chilling performance as Negan, a fact that has been overlooked in the aftermath of the (understandable) fan-led feedback fervor and the falling ratings in season 8.
For now, fans must patiently await the show's return for season 9 to see what's become of Negan since his defeat.
Check out one of the best looking fight scenes you're going to see when Superman takes on Rogol Zaar. Artist Adam Hughes explains it all.
Brian Michael Bendis has officially arrived on Superman. In collaboration with an absolute murderer's row of artists, a different one on each weekly chapter, DC's weekly The Man of Steel mini-series has been setting the stage for the next era of Superman, tweaking the status quo, shedding new light on the tragedy of Krypton, and introducing new characters.
Chief among those new characters is the villainous Rogol Zaar, who played a role in the destruction of Krypton. But that apparently wasn't enough to satisfy Zaar's bloodlust for all things Kryptonian, and he has tormented Superman, Supergirl, and anyone else who gets in his way, including perpetrating another unspeakable act of mass murder in the previous issue.
The Man of Steel #5 sees Adam Hughes take the lead on art duties, and he delivers a cinematic super-powered beatdown. Mr. Hughes was kind enough to answer some questions about the issue. Get an exclusive look, with his commentary, right here!
Den of Geek: This issue has one of the most striking first pages I’ve seen in a book in ages, with the eye looking into the bottle city of Kandor. Bottle aside, it’s a perspective you rarely see used in comics. How did you come up with such a unique opener?
Adam Hughes: I thought that’s what Bendis wanted! His script described the shot, but maybe I didn’t quite get what he was going for? Who knows. Early on, he insisted that at any point, if I felt differently about things than as scripted, I should just do what I thought best. “You do you” he stated emphatically.
So, while I hoped I got the gist of what he was going for with that opening page, what I felt was the real horror was being a citizen of Kandor, and kinda forgetting that you’re miniature and living in a bottle, and suddenly the sky opens and there’s just any eye full of hate looking at you.
The next spread, with Superman dragging Rogol Zaar into orbit, feels like something from a lost Superman movie, beamed in from another dimension, and I feel like there are little echoes of the Christopher Reeve films throughout this issue. Was this intentional?
Yeaaahhhh, it’s intentional. I love Superman: The Movie. My love of that film will permeate any Superman comics I do. Superman angrily flying the bad guy into space made me think of him flying into the sky in a rage when Lois died in the earthquake in Superman: The Movie, so, yes, it’s definitely on my mind.
I spoke with Brian Michael Bendis recently, and he said he never expected he would ever get to work with you. He also said when you first talked about this project, you hoped to do a massive fight like this. Were some of these images things you’ve had hanging around in your head when you think about Superman?
Well, I don’t get too much in the way of action sequences, and I’ve actively been trying to pursue more action-oriented comics work lately. I must’ve passed that desire on to Mr. Bendis at some point. Although, when I think of Superman, I’ve never thought about fight scenes. Usually when my mind wanders to the Man of Tomorrow, the images I see are hopeful and heroic.
The fight scene that unfolds over those first six or seven pages is a deliberate contrast with the dialogue. How did you block that out? Were you given any guidelines from Brian Michael Bendis beyond “they fight” for this?
Mr. Bendis laid out the fight scene very well & in rich detail, as in “Rogol throws Superman at the moon! THE MOON!!” or “Superman delivers a powerful blow in response!” So, I started with that, and only veered away from the fight as described if it got in the way of my own personal storytelling flair.
There are striking uses of silhouette and reds and blacks on those early pages. What made you go with these choices?
Well, I’m doing issue #5. I figured there would be four issue of amazing action before mine, drawn by cats who do it way better. So, I thought: A) I should do something different so my flaws in this area don’t sing out loud and 2) This is probably the fifth scene the readers are witnessing, so let’s be different. I went for more of a monster sequence than a superhero fight (I hope).
Man of Steel #5 is available on June 27.
We talked to Robopocalypse author Daniel H. Wilson about his science fiction/steampunk novel, now out in paperback!
Daniel Wilson has been writing science fiction novels for a decade now, weaving his background as a Phd student in Robotics with his interest in fiction to create popular works like the Robopocalypse series.
Wilson's most recent novel, a robot-centric adventure called The Clockwork Dynasty, is out on paperback today. It is a centuries-spanning journey of purpose and identity that imagines a world where a race of human-like robots have long been living amongst us.
We had a chance to talk with Wilson about The Clockwork Dynasty at last summer's San Diego Comic Con. Here's what he had to tell us about the inception, creation, and world of his new book...
Den of Geek: Where did the idea for The Clockwork Dynasty begin?
Wilson: The Clockwork Dynasty is a story that imagines there’s this ancient race of human-like robots that have been serving the great empires of antiquity and living hidden among human beings for centuries. And that's the past story.
And, in the present story, there's an anthropologist. She stumbles upon evidence of these creatures and she… they happen to be running out of power after all these years and so she teams up with one of these machines to find out who made them and how to save their race.
It's a world-spanning adventures all through different ages of history. And, at the very end, when I was done with it, I saw the cover and realized it was steampunk.
There are a lot of artificial intelligence stories out there right now. What sets yours apart?
I did this Phd in Robotics. I did my Masters in Artificial Intelligence, so I spent a lot of time studying the real world machine-learning, the algorithms in programming computers and all that. Then I wrote Robopocalypse, which was kind of on-the-nose in terms of the killer robot theme, though I try to support it. As you start reading, you realize, this guy actually likes robots.
But what I did here was I really wanted to use the robotic characters as a scalpel to dissect human behavior… the meaning of being a person. They're called avtomat, in the story. The avtomat are these robots — that’s the Russian word for 'automatic' or 'robot'— it was originally the title of the book until I realized nobody can pronounce it. So, yeah, I changed it.
So, each of these avtomat has a single word that's engraved on their heart, basically, and it’s their purpose and I used that, that idea of fulfilling your purpose. Their words tend to be virtues. Sometimes, they're very culturally-specific. So the main character's name is 'pravda,' which is a Russian sort of word that means 'truth' and 'justice.' It’s kind of combined in a way that it’s not in our language.
And so what does it mean to fulfill your purpose? And they have a word, so it should be so simple. You just do that thing. What happens is, as they live through the different ages of civilization, they find that their purpose changes based on the human beings that are around them and the context that they're in.
And so, to me, it's kind of like how we as human beings find purpose. As we get older, it changes. It's like a moving target. Different things give you different purpose at different times in your life. I'm at the age where I'm looking at my children and I'm like, 'Oh my god. They're so amazing. I'm so glad I did this.' And they're giving me a lot of purpose. But, you know, when I was 25, maybe that wouldn't have been the same story.
So, yeah, this is 10 years out from my Phd, and it shows. It's not as hard sci-fi as stuff I’ve written before.
You have an impressive background in the study of robotics and artificial intelligence, but this is also a historical fiction. What is your relationship to history like? What kind of research did you have to do for this book?
I am fascinated by the clash of civilizations and technology's role in that. I'm not sure, but I think it has to do with the fact that I’m from Oklahoma, which used to be Indian territory and all of Oklahoma history is really about the clash of civilizations. And a lot of that hinges on technology.
One thing I've always been amazed by are these moments in history when different human civilizations have rapidly upgraded all of their technology because they realized they were gonna die. It's like science fiction when the aliens show up and it's like, 'Oh shit, we need to get our act together.'
So this has happened all over the world. It's happened in Japan, and it happened in Russia. So Peter the Great went to Europe. He realized that Russia was going to be left behind, so he went to Europe and he hired a thousand scientists and he brought them all back and he modernized Russia. And so I fell in love with that idea and that's what I wanted to explore historically, were these periods of time when we had these rapid technological changes in different cultures.
Did you ever consider telling the story in the historical perspective without the present-day storyline?
I'm not sure about that. Honestly, the past story is really fun and epic and I don't do the Forrest Gump thing where my characters are walking through the background of every important historical moment. They're living through these everyday moments because they're trying to hide.
If someone found out you're a robot, it's going to be bad news. But you see them and I just wanted that contrast. I wanted to see what they would become in our society and in our civilization. What is the difference? What does it mean to be logical when there's no such thing as science? When people believe in magic? When, even when they do see science, they call it'‘natural magic,' which I love. The fact that people really did that in the Middle Ages is amazing.
And, so, to get that contrast, I really needed to see them now and I really needed to see them in the past. So what I did is the chapters alternate. So the chapters that happened in the distant past, which would have been hundreds of years ago, directly inform the next chapter that you read where they’re just like driving through Seattle on the way to a skyscraper or whatever.
Did you enjoy writing one of those timelines more than the other? Did you have a favorite?
No. Basically because these characters that are in the past are also in the future, only they're transformed by all these centuries of everything they've learned. And then I have a character I really love who’s in the future. So, June Stefanov's this anthropologist, her grandfather told her this crazy story when she was a kid about something he saw on a battlefield when he was in World War II. Something that couldn't have happened, and yet he has this relic he found on the battlefield.
And so it's kind of inspired her to study the past, to study relics, and to try to figure out what this thing is, this secret that she has. And when she finds out, it's just so amazing to blow open this world and reveal it to somebody. And, in a lot of ways, June is a stand-in for the reader because she has her own story, obviously, but she's there so you can commiserate with her and be like, 'Holy shit, did you hear what that guy just said?' What she's thinking is what you'd be thinking.
What will fans of the Robopocalypse series enjoy about The Clockwork Dynasty?
People who like Robopocalypse and Robogenesis and Amped are gonna love this book. I think I didn't set out to write steampunk. When people look at the cover, they think steampunk, right? And that elicits a certain set of expectations. So, honestly, I'm more worried that people will think they're going to get a traditional steampunk story and, instead, they're getting a little more Robopocalypse-y.
How would you classify that for people who have not read Robopocalypse?
A thriller, I guess. It’s more like a thriller and it’s very technological. I’m getting into the thought process of machines, what it’s like to come online. I think people who have read my stuff are really going to like this, but I’m also super excited to reach a different audience because it’s way more character-based, and I never realized… people fall in love with characters. I’ve read some early reviews of Clockwork Dynasty and they’re like… people like my characters, and that’s amazing to me because usually people talk a lot of trash.
For people who are interested in steampunk, what will they like about this book?
There are scenes of these robots blending in not in Victorian London, but Baroque London, so a little before Victorian era. There are robots fighting in British-colonized India, fighting armored elephants. There's a robot that looks like a 12-year-old girl in an abandoned mansion playing a harpsichord to songbirds in the shattered remains of a conservatory.
Yes, those things are great. But this thing, it goes farther than that. It goes farther back, it goes farther forward. I think it's about watching an evolution over time and so, yes, you get that steampunk stuff that we all recognize, but just be willing to evolve behind that.
Think about what happens in the next 100 years and the next 100 after that and what the mentality is going to be of basically an immortal being who is superior to all the people around him, watches them live and die, and yet was created by human beings and, in some ways, is defined by them.
Do you see this book as an ongoing story?
It could absolutely be the launch of a series. So I have a short story collection coming out in March of next year called Guardian Angels and Other Monsters and one of the stories takes in the Clockwork Dynasty world and it's just begging for more stories, so I really hope people like it because then I'll have the motivation to keep writing more stories.
The pleasure of this book, what I really like to share, is these reveals about this world. And you think you understand the situation and then you get a piece of information that totally recasts everything and makes everything bigger, older, and you just go, 'Oh my god.' And I couldn't help it and I did one of those on like the last page. So, it's not like the story doesn't wrap up. Everything concludes. But, on that last page, you realize, 'Oh shit.'
And, I don’t know. I just love it. It's an idea I had right when I started writing and I was like, 'Oh, I’m saving that one for the very end.' So, I really hope people want to read more in that universe.
Could you have written this book without having written Robopocalypse?
Yeah, no. That's how every novel is. With Robopocalypse, that was my first novel. I was very focused on plot and action and I just jumped to my favorite bits. It was very visual in my head. I saw this as these amazing scenes playing out and, as a result, there's good and bad.
It's like you're just eating dessert the whole time. You jump straight to all… but there's not as much character-building as there could be. But there's a lot of characters and there's a lot of time, and so this is a much more mature.
Also, I got all my cliches out of my system. Like Robopocalypse, I’ll read it again and it will be something like 'hot as fire.' And I’ll be like, 'Hot as fire? Challenge yourself! Come on.'
Every author will tell you that their latest work is the best, and I'm the same.
Is there any chance of The Clockwork Dynasty coming to the big screen?
Clockwork Dynasty was picked up preemptively by Fox and they're been keeping up with me from the beginning and they've been getting screenwriters, so it's been very exciting to watch that evolve on its own over there. And to have all the Hollywood types excited about what you’re writing, it's really fun.
Read and download the full Den of Geek SDCC Special Edition magazine here!
Prentis Rollins leads us through the inspirations behind his literary science fiction graphic novel debut The Furnace.
This is a guest post by Marvel and DC Comics artist Prentis Rollins, author of graphic novel The Furnace.
Profiting off human suffering is The American Way.
So it seemed to me in 1998, when I first wrote The Furnace as a short prose story for a writers’ workshop in New York City. Twenty years later, it seems more the case than ever, for too many reasons and on too many fronts; now, my graphic novel of The Furnace (out July 2018 from Tor Books) may prove sadly relevant.
The prose story started as just an exercise. I had recently read two short stories that shaped my aesthetic, and continue to do so to this day. One was Bob Shaw’s Light of Other Days. The sci-fi premise of that story is slow glass—a material that looks and feels like ordinary glass, but which is several light years thick (meaning it takes light several years to pass through a pane of it). The slow glass conceit is fascinating enough, and convincingly described—but the story turns out to be about loss, regret, memory, and love—the Big Things.
The other story was James Blish’s short masterpiece, Common Time, which is about an astronaut’s lone voyage to Alpha Centauri, and his beautiful, hazily-remembered encounter with the loving alien who helps to repair his disabled starship. Again, the science part was Gibraltar-solid: thought-out, authentic, more than convincing. But the fiction part—the beating heart of the story, which was again about love, memory, and the yawning gulf between our moments of transcendence and the gray common time of daily existence—stuck in my craw, and is still there.
All of my favorite sci-fi stories have that much in common: an intriguing speculative springboard, and ultimately a big, human point that matters right now. I wanted to write a story like that. That’s all I’ll ever care to write. The way I see it, sci-fi premises are well and good—but at the end of the day, no one gives a hoot about slow glass. They care about the Big Things.
My topic with The Furnace short story was prisons and prisoners. Sometime around 2040 an aging physicist tells his young daughter about his youthful involvement in the development of the GARD program—a scheme for replacing traditional prisons with personal robots that follow "free" prisoners around and render them invisible and inaudible, and restrict their movements. Through a series of flashbacks, the reader saw the physicist as a young grad student involved in developing the program, and the devastating consequences—the wholesale die-off of the prisoners subjected to this untested new form of psychological isolation. And that was pretty much it.
The story was well-received by the workshop. Or at least it was… well, received. I mainly recall that group members seemed put off by having to read 40 or so whole pages—which, yeah, was a bit much for a bunch of accountant-types dreaming of a townhouse at the corner of Novelist and Easy Street. They suffered, I profited. Carole Bugge, the workshop leader and a terrific writer, was very encouraging.
So. No one’s world was exactly rocked by the story, but it continued to haunt/exercise me—and at a certain point it occurred to me that it might have more impact if it were visual. I’d been drawing comics since I was a kid, and was in the thick of my career as an inker for DC Comics—I decided to transform The Furnace into a graphic novel. This was in 2007. Nine years later, I finished it.
Funnily enough, I didn’t have a single surviving copy of the prose story; every printed copy was long gone, and I had neglected to save it digitally. So when I set about writing a graphic novel script of the story, I had to reconstruct it entirely from memory. This was probably actually a good thing—not being shackled to a pre-existing vision of the story, I was free to morph it in accordance with how I’d changed in the intervening years.
And I had. I’d actually become a father myself, and in 2007 my daughter was six—the age of the protagonist’s daughter in the graphic novel. My career at DC had flourished, but: a) I felt, well, uneasy continuously pinning my aspirations on an industry for which being on its death bed, wracked with fever and a rib-breaking cough, is the norm, and b) entering my forties, I realized that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my career inking other people’s work. No matter how fun it is. And it is. Working at home, getting paid (!) to draw people in tights beating the crap out of—Jesus, don’t get me started. It is fun, let’s leave it at that—but I was beginning to feel that maybe I had better fish to fry.
I’d also done a not insignificant amount of reading in the early 2000’s. Not comic books, I hasten to add—funnily enough, I generally find superhero comics a crashing bore to read (I like to tell people that, when it comes to superhero mags, I deal but rarely use). It was two American plays that determined the narrative and thematic trajectories that the graphic novel would finally follow: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, by Edward Albee, and Long Day’s Journey Into Night, by Eugene O’Neill.
These two plays, which are Orion and Taurus in the firmament of American theater, have several things in common. Each has exactly four (main) characters, at least two of which are flaming alcoholics. Each deals with the plutonium-hot emotional dynamic between these characters. Each swirls cat-4 storm-like around the safety/fate of a favored child. And each, in its own way, is about something awful that happened a long time ago, but which continues to distort the present (a lot of American classics are about time—in particular, about the past and how it lingers into and shapes the present. The Sound and The Fury. The Great Gatsby—which is referenced several times in The Furnace).
That was the tradition I wanted to put The Furnace in, and the level of emotional impact I at least wanted to aim for. When I wrote the script, I retained the sci-fi premise—traditional prisons being phased out in favor of ‘free’ prisoners rendered invisible/untouchable by restriction drones that follow them, and the human catastrophe which ensues—but I did my best to remake the story into something an adult who’s lived a day of life could relate to and feel for.
As I see it, the graphic novel is about a man who views himself as a war criminal: he is directly implicated in the development of the GARD program; he sees himself as a failure on every conceivable level—as a scientist, as a husband, as a father, as a human being. At the eleventh hour it’s his six year-old daughter who shows him that the greatness he thinks has eluded him might, just might, barely remain within reach. Like the plays that informed its final form, The Furnace has four main characters (two of which are in a losing battle with alcohol), a child’s welfare hangs in the balance, and the real story happened a long time ago.
The Furnace will be released on July 10th. It is now available for pre-order!
PRENTIS ROLLINS has over 20 years of experience working as a writer and artist in the comics industry. His previous titles include How to Draw Sci-fi Utopias and Dystopias, The Making of a Graphic Novel, and Survival Machine (Stories). He has also worked for DC Comics between 1993-2013 for titles such as Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, JLA, and dozens more. The Furnace is his debut full-length graphic novel. He lives in London with his wife and three children. You can check out more of his work at: www.prentisrollinsart.com.
Lily James stars in Mike Newell's Netflix-bound film adaptation of the popular novel.
Netflix is providing a platform for the film adaptation of bestselling novel The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The film is headlined by Downton Abbey star, Lily James, who is no stranger to movie adaptations of bestselling books, having also starred as Lizzie Bennet in the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies film adaptation. She also appeared as the title character in the successful live-action Cinderella remake directed by Kenneth Branagh.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society has its own directorial pedigree behind it, with Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), who works off a script by Don Roos and Tom Bezucha that adapts the 2008 epistolary novel written by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Trailer
Here’s the official synopsis:
Directed by Mike Newell and based on the best-selling and much loved novel by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY sees Lily James play free-spirited writer Juliet Ashton, who forms a life-changing bond with the delightful and eccentric Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, when she decides to write about the book club they formed during the occupation of Guernsey in WWII.
Star Lily James is joined in the The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society cast by names such as Michiel Huisman, Glen Powell, Katherine Parkinson, Tom Courtenay and Penelope Wilton, as well as fellow Downton Abbey alumni Matthew Goode and Jessica Brown Findlay.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Release Date
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society convenes when the film arrives on Netflix on August 10.
The film is a production of The Mazur/Kaplan Company, Blueprint Pictures, and Studiocanal, with Netflix handling distribution in the U.S.
Harlan Ellison, writer of A Boy and His Dog, a disputed Star Trek classic and 1,000s of other stories, dies.
Harlan Ellison, one of the 20th Century’s most influential science and speculative fiction writers, died at the age of 84. The news was posted in several Twitter posts. No cause of death has been announced.
“Susan Ellison has asked me to announce the passing of writer Harlan Ellison, in his sleep, earlier today,” Christine Valada, the widow of the late Len Wein and a friend of Harlan and his wife, wrote to Twitter. “For a brief time I was here, and for a brief time, I mattered.”—HE, 1934-2018. Arrangements for a celebration of his life are pending.”
Ellison was the conscience of science fiction. He held other writers, and even fans to the highest standards, editing works of the best for the first crash of the New Wave of the genre’s writers for the anthologies Dangerous Visions (1967) and Again, Dangerous Visions (1972). Probably best known for writing the first screenplay of Star Trek’s “City on the Edge of Forever,” Ellison wrote over 1,700 short stories, novellas, screenplays, comic book scripts, teleplays, essays and critiques.
He won eight Hugo Awards, four Nebula Awards of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, five Bram Stoker Awards of the Horror Writers Association, two Edgar Awards of the Mystery Writers of America, two World Fantasy Award from annual conventions, and two Georges Méliès fantasy film awards. "I would like to be arrogant enough to think that the script was so good that even butchering it couldn't hurt it," Ellison was rumored to say after the filmed version won of “City on the Edge of Forever” won the Hugo Award for the "Best Dramatic Presentation" at the 1968 World Science Fiction Convention. In his 1996 book, Harlan Ellison's The City On the Edge of Forever, the author said he was paid a "pittance," and made light of William Shatner’s line-counting of the dialog.
Stephen King proclaimed, in his book Danse Macabre, that Ellison’s short story collection Strange Wine was one of the best horror books published between 1950 and 1980. Ellison’s best known horror offering may be the short story “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.”
Harlan Jay Ellison was born May 27, 1934, in Cleveland, Ohio. He went to The Ohio State University for 18 months before being expelled for, by his own account, hitting a professor who made fun of his writing. Ellison was first published in the Cleveland News during 1949 and EC Comics. He moved to New York City in 1955 and published more than 100 short stories and articles in two years. After serving in the U.S. Army from 1957 to 1959, Ellison moved to Chicago and became an editor for Rogue magazine.
Ellison moved to California in 1962 where he wrote the screenplay for The Oscar, starring Stephen Boyd and Elke Sommer, and TV shows like The Flying Nun, The Outer Limits, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. He participated in the civil rights marches led by Martin Luther King, Jr., from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, and wrote 'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman,” celebrating civil disobedience in 1965.
A 1966 Esquire magazine article by Gay Talese, "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold," immortalized Frank Sinatra’s reaction to Ellison’s boots during a billiards game. Ellison was fired by Walt Disney Studios after one day after joking about making animated pornography featuring Disney characters within earshot of Roy O. Disney.
Ellison’s Deathbird Stories contained sixteen science fiction stories. Ellison’s short story "A Boy and His Dog" was made into the 1975 film starring Don Johnson. Ellison was creative consultant to the 1980s version of The Twilight Zone science fiction TV series and Babylon 5. Ellison appeared as himself in "Married to the Blob" episode of The Simpsons from 2014. Last summer, he published his biography A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan Ellison, an Exploration.
As we get ready for the Venom movie, we take a look back at the oddball moments in the alien-clad character's Marvel history.
Ever since popping in during the late-80's, Venom has been popular enough to show up all over the place. He's been a vengeful supervillain and he's been a mentally-unhinged would-be superhero. He's been part of the Sinister Six and he's been part of the Secret Avengers. The costume has latched onto various hosts and three of them have been used as soldiers for the government. An inventive idea that's starred in more bad stories than good, the alien symbiote has found itself in a lot of crazy situations.
With the Venom movie on the way, I thought I'd take some time to look through Venom's history and some of the more eyebrow-raising moments. Except for anything from Spider-Man 3 because my therapist tells me I'm not ready to talk about that yet.
15. DR. DOOM'S ILL-DEFINED PLAN FOR WORLD DOMINATION
Spider-Man: The Video Game (1991)
The Spider-Man arcade game is fun to play, but good luck trying to make sense of the narrative. Having Black Cat accompany Spider-Man makes enough sense, but having Hawkeye and Namor as playable is just weird. At the end of the first level, you fight Venom. Once he's defeated, he's possessed by some mystical artifact and it enlarges him to about 25-feet-tall. After being beaten down to normal size again, he gives it another go and is once again wiped out. That appears to be the last you hear from him.
Late in the game, you find out that Kingpin isn't the game's big villain after all. He's working under Dr. Doom, meaning a trip down to Latveria for the climax. You'd think that taking out Dr. Doom (twice, since the first is a Doombot) would be the finale, but no. Once Doom is taken out, he unleashes the TRUE final boss! An army of Venoms literally rain from the top of the screen and you have to fight them all off. How random.
Coincidentally, Dr. Doom would unleash an army of symbiotes onto the populace in Bendis' Mighty Avengers many years later.
14. ALL ARMS ON DECK
Venom: The Madness (1993)
Ann Nocenti and Kelley Jones did a 3-issue arc with an interesting hook. See, Spider-Man was joined with a sentient parasite and thought it was too insane to keep around. Eddie Brock didn't have that opinion and gladly became Venom. So what if you added a third creature to the mix that drove Venom so insane that Eddie had to put his foot down and get rid of it?
After being stomped down on by Juggernaut to the point that he was inches from death, Venom was joined with a sentient virus made out of mercury. It healed him up and jacked up his strength, while at the same time giving him extra arms and tiny head sticking out of his neck because this is an Ann Nocenti comic. Unfortunately, Venom went a little too extreme and not in a good way. Like, he at one point attempted to rape his girlfriend because he was more impulsive than ever. It's seriously messed up.
Luckily, Juggernaut showed up for round two to interrupt that and Madness Venom was able to hold his own against the unstoppable one. He didn't get a chance to finish Juggernaut off because he's whisked away to a realm of madness, where he was attacked by dark copies of Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Ghost Rider. Comics!
13. SECRET SKELETON
What If #114 (1998)
The final issue of the 90's run of What If was a pretty cool one with a story based on Secret Wars. What if the Beyonder and Galactus killed each other and all the heroes and villains were stranded? 25 years later, we see a society where the survivors have paired up and reproduced. The main protagonists are the children of She-Hulk and Hawkeye, Wolverine and Storm, Human Torch and Wasp, Thor and Enchantress as well as Captain America and Rogue (try not to think too hard about how that one works). Remember, though, that this is based on the story where Spider-Man got his black costume. It's shown that he's still wearing it and with two and a half decades since its introduction, what could this mean?
Late in the story, the heroes all swarm Dr. Doom's castle and in one panel, Spider-Man is hit with one of Klaw's sonic blasts. It reveals that all that's left of Peter Parker is a skeleton. The symbiote has been controlling his remains like a puppet for who knows how many years. Yet this doesn't even faze Human Torch, who saves him and lends him a quip, as if he's long accepted that his buddy is just a pile of bones controlled by talking spandex.
12. ENDLESS FIRST IMPRESSIONS
This one isn't so much a "moment," but it's so deliciously 90's comics that I have to mention it. Back in that decade, Venom became popular enough to get his own run as an anti-hero in San Francisco...which then got him relocated to New York City because they needed those easy-to-write Spider-Man crossovers.
Except...Marvel had a peculiar way of running Venom's ongoing. On one hand, it really was an ongoing series. It started in February of 1993 and the last issue was January of 1998. Sixty issues across five years without a single month being off. On the other hand, they didn't treat it that way. There was no Venom #7. Rather than streamline all the comics into one easy-to-follow series, Marvel turned every single story arc into its own miniseries. What's going to sell better, a comic with a random number attached, or a Venom comic with a big #1 on the cover?
In the end, other than Venom #1-60, we got Venom: Lethal Protector #1-6, Venom: Funeral Pyre #1-3, Venom: The Madness #1-3, Venom: The Mace #1-3, Venom: The Enemy Within #1-3, Venom: Nights of Vengeance #1-4, Venom: Separation Anxiety #1-4, Venom: Carnage Unleashed #1-4, Venom: Sinner Takes All #1-5, Venom: Along Came a Spider #1-4, Venom: The Hunted #1-3, Venom: The Hunger #1-4, Venom: Tooth and Claw #1-3, Venom: On Trial #1-3, Venom: License to Kill #1-3, Venom: Sign of the Boss #1-2 and Venom: Finale #1-3. All that and a bunch of specials mixed in there. I guess marketing trumps a coherent reading order.
11. THE WAR IN FRANK CASTLE'S MIND
What If #44 (1992)
Kurt Busiek and Luke McDonnell collaborated for one hell of a comic in What If Venom Had Possessed the Punisher? Frank Castle stops into a church moments before Eddie Brock and because of this, he becomes the host for the symbiote. At first it helps him with his war on crime, but it begins to take over more and more and even tries to make him kill Spider-Man.
It all comes to a head when the Punisher fights Spider-Man, Daredevil, and Moon Knight on a rooftop. Spider-Man hits him with a sonic blast and it allows Frank to wrest control for just a moment. He shoots the sonic cannon and goes into a vegetative state. Inside his head, we see a really sweet sequence of Frank in his Vietnam gear as he feels himself being stalked by the creature. He changes into his Punisher duds, screams that he's not afraid, and fights the creature head on.
It's a completely badass scene, but the best part is still Moon Knight excitedly yelling that he's a creature of mysticism – AND THE MOON! Somehow saying that wins him the benefit of the doubt.
10. HE'S A DEMON ON WHEELS
Venom #36 (2013)
Cullen Bunn really did try to make his Venom run work, but a lot of the time, things never really clicked. In the latter part of his run, Flash Thompson Venom hangs out in Philadelphia and hunts down any information he can on crime boss Lord Ogre. Some criminals drive off and escape him and he's a bit disappointed that he doesn't have a ride of his own. He sees the husk of an old car with the wheels stripped off and gets an idea.
Existing for just one hell of a splash page, the Venom-Mobile shows that apparently the symbiote is able to work on machines too if the story calls for it. Either way, it's certainly a step up from the Spider-Mobile.
9. DOG IN THE EYE
Dark Reign: The Sinister Spider-Man #4 (2009)
Brian Reed and Chris Bachalo's take on Mac Gargan Venom is a super fun read, telling the story of a horndog cannibal who's treated by the media as a great hero. Under the guise of Spider-Man of the Dark Avengers, Venom causes all sorts of trouble and makes a million enemies in his wake. The climax is at a big festival in the middle of Time Square. Norman Osborn gives Bullseye and Daken the orders to take Gargan out, since he's more trouble than he's worth. Since Bullseye can make any object into a lethal weapon, he chooses to use a tiny yapping dog.
The dog doesn't kill Venom, but it does get lodged deep into his eye. Venom proceeds to fight off Bullseye, Daken, various gang members, and a group of half-eaten supervillains out for revenge...all while he has a dog in his eye. Once cooler heads prevail, he finally pops it out of his socket and discards the poor guy off into the distance.
8. THE SINISTER SPIDER-HAM
What The--?! #20 (1992)
Spider-Ham was a creation of the 80's and his star wore out before Venom's introduction. The character was reprised in the early 90's as part of Marvel's parody comic What The--?! Issue #20 features a crossover between various regulars of the series in an adventure called the Infinity Wart. Forbush Man, Spider-Ham, Milk & Cookies, and Wolverina team up and face their evil selves. For Spider-Ham, it's an excuse to introduce his Venom counterpart, Pork Grind.
Speaking like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pork Grind fights Spider-Ham and Milk & Cookies. He mostly manhandles them until Spider-Ham eats his spinach and punches him out. Coincidentally, this is not the last entry on the list to feature Austrian Venom.
7. EDDIE BROCK: SISTER OF PAIN
Venom: Sign of the Boss #1 (1997)
Venom's 90's series became delightfully silly by the end, partially because they introduced a plot device where the symbiote was placated by eating chocolate. Believe it or not, there's actually a really well-written explanation for why the symbiote is calmed by chocolate, but that's neither here nor there. During the last couple story arcs, Venom is forced to work as an agent for the government or else they'll detonate the bomb in his chest. He's given an assignment to lay low in a church for some big speech on peace by a foreign leader. If anyone makes a move, Venom is to be alerted to spring into action and stop the assassination, but not a moment sooner.
The symbiote is able to mimic any form of clothing and disguise Eddie in all sorts of ways. That makes it extra funny when of all disguises, Eddie wears a nun's habit and asks the choirboys to not sing quite as high-pitched as it gives him a bit of a headache. Some gun-carrying thugs take them hostage, but Venom has to wait until he gets clearance to reveal himself.
Once he does, he violently murders the henchmen in front of the children, not realizing that he's traumatizing them into oblivion. Once finished, he tells them that violence is more of an adult thing and offers a chocolate bar to one of the kids. Because of course he has a candy bar on him. The boy is practically catatonic in fear, especially when Venom yells, "Come on! Take it!" Then Venom gets all huffy and offended, not understanding why he isn't being thanked.
6. THE FRENCH KISS OF DEATH
Venom #11 (2004)
Daniel Way's Venom series from the mid-00's is really, really bad and should not be read ever. It's mean-spirited, overly-complicated, and has nothing resembling payoff whatsoever. It's also a comic where Venom himself – at least the Eddie Brock incarnation – doesn't show up until the 11th issue. You see, the symbiote terrorizing everyone all this time is a clone. #11 starts a three-issue story that explains the clone's origin.
It has to do with a fight where Venom beats on Spider-Man until the Fantastic Four arrive to stop him. At first, Thing is able to overpower Venom, until Venom fights back by making out with him...TO THE DEATH.
Venom shoving his tongue down Thing's throat is one of the grosser things I've seen in a comic, but it actually serves its narrative purpose. Human Torch burns the tongue off and Thing coughs it up. A bystander picks the tongue up, brings it home and tries to sell it on eBay. He's immediately made a target by an old man made out of nannites who is really the force behind Noah's Ark and—oh my God, I don't want to get into any more of the plot of this series. Moving on.
5. THE MOLOTOV COCKTAIL OF AWESOME
Venom #13.4 (2012)
During the Rick Remender Venom series, Flash Thompson Venom starred in a crossover called The Circle of Four. It's quite a brilliant little concept that took me a minute to grasp. In the 90s, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hulk, and Ghost Rider teamed up to become the New Fantastic Four. Here we have a similar grouping with Venom, X-23, Red Hulk, and the female Ghost Rider that everyone's completely forgotten about five minutes after her series ended.
The four join forces to help save Las Vegas from the clutches of Blackheart, who is trying to create Hell on Earth. With the exception of X-23, the team joins together to make their own special version of Captain Planet, only more soul-shatteringly badass. Riding a giant motorcycle is Red Hulk, who has become the host for both the Spirit of Vengeance and the Venom symbiote. This is the cliffhanger before the final issue and it still makes me smile. I'm surprised the final issue isn't Blackheart throwing his hands up and saying, "Yeah, this isn't worth it. Sorry for all the trouble I caused, everyone," and going back to Hell where it's safer.
4. THE GROSSEST OF MATING HABITS
What If: The Other (2007)
The What If issue based on the Other tells the tale of Peter Parker refusing to break out of his cocoon and embrace his inner-spider. The world and his loved ones think he's dead, so he's going to keep it that way. The Venom symbiote senses that Peter's body is just sitting around, unused, and leaves Mac Gargan's body. It attaches itself to Peter's husk and is pretty pleased with being one with its original and favorite host once again. Peter has no consciousness to speak of, so the symbiote is completely running the show. Calling himself Poison, the creature confronts Mary Jane and wants her to be his mate. She tells him off and he leaves her be.
With Mary Jane not an option, Poison goes for an even grosser route. He spawns a symbiote offspring and uses it to control the rotting dead body of Gwen Stacy. You can thank Peter David for this piece of alien necrophilia incest. You can also thank him for...
3. THE NOT-READY-FOR-PRIME-TIME SMASHERS
Incredible Hulk vs. Venom (1994)
This is a comic released by Unicef that deals with Venom and Hulk fighting each other and then teaming up because a series of earthquakes are tearing apart San Francisco. A mad scientist calling himself Dr. Bad Vibes (not the villain from the C.O.P.S. cartoon, I checked) insists that he's been causing the earthquakes with his earthquake machine. Hulk has the mind of one of the world's greatest scientists and Venom is an accomplished journalist. Truly, they can put their minds together and figure out a great strategy in stopping Bad Vibes' reign of terror before it's too late.
Their plan is to quote Saturday Night Live.
Yes, they go into a news broadcast to do a Hans and Franz impression, complete with clapping. Honest to God, when I first read this scene, I had to put down the comic, get up, and just walk away because I simply could not deal with this.
2. DIAL-UP M FOR MURDER
Venom: Carnage Unleashed #4 (1995)
Thing with the symbiote is that the writers can tack on nearly any kind of ability and you can buy it because it's a blob from outer space that gives people super strength and copies Spider-Man's powers. Turns a car into a monster car? Sure, why not? Makes you immune to noxious gas? I buy it. Makes it harder for psychics to gain control? Makes sense to me.
Larry Hama created the most outlandish use of the symbiote's abilities with his Carnage Unleashed storyline. Carnage Unleashed – a story created based on the success of the Maximum Carnage video game – is about a Carnage-based video game that's become a big deal. It's about to be launched to the public with online multiplayer and Carnage's plan is to use this to his advantage and kill as many players as possible. How? By using his brand-new power of using the symbiote to travel through the internet!
The comic keeps stacking on more and more instances of, "Computers do not work that way!" that escalates to the point that Venom and Carnage are fighting inside cyberspace and it's being broadcast on the big screen in Time Square. Coincidentally, people are able to hear their banter despite, you know, there being no audio on that big screen. Venom wins when he sees a heat sink and destroys it, which causes a huge explosion that hurts them both and knocks them out of their computers. It is the stupidest, most glorious goddamn thing.
1. THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
All-Access #1 (1996)
Ah, Access. For those of you who don't know or remember, Access was a superhero jointly owned by DC and Marvel whose job was to make sure that both worlds remained separate and don't bleed into each other. Considering they've been refusing to do a crossover since JLA/Avengers, it's been a pretty successful decade and a half. Way to go!
Following the events of Marvel vs. DC, Access starred in his own miniseries based on keeping the peace via cosmic segregation. In the first issue, Venom finds himself in Metropolis and Ron Marz chooses to forget that Venom is supposed to be kind of a good guy around this time. Instead, Venom goes on a rampage until Superman and his post-resurrection mullet arrive. This should be a simple fight. Superman moves planets with his bare hands and Venom is just a stronger Spider-Man with a bucket full of weaknesses.
Then Venom throws Superman around like a ragdoll. The two have several fights and each time, Venom absolutely humbles Superman, making him look like a complete joke. Access brings Spider-Man into the DC world to help fight Venom and even that isn't enough! Put Superman and Spider-Man together against one threat and he still kicks their asses.
The only reason Venom loses is because Access shows up with a giant sonic cannon loaned from STAR Labs. Afterwards, Spider-Man tells Superman that Eddie Brock was never easy to get along with, what with him being a newspaper reporter. Then Spider-Man wonders why he's getting the silent glare.
A great contrast to this story is the Spider-Man/Batman crossover from a year or so earlier. That comic features Batman beating Carnage in a straight-up fight. No sonics. No fire. Just lots of punches. Batman beat up Carnage, who regularly used to beat up Venom, who beat up Superman. Somewhere, a Batman fan is yelling at a Superman fan, "See?! I told you so!"
We talked to Trail of Lightning author Rebecca Roanhorse about bringing Native experiences into a speculative fiction world.
Monsters and magic are on the loose in Trail of Lightning, Rebecca Roanhorse's urban fantasy novel that features Indigenous heroes and fights back against stereotypes along with the monsters. The first in a four-book series, Trail of Lightning introduces Maggie Hoskie, a struggling monster-hunter tasked with saving a community from which she isolates herself.
We spoke to Roanhorse about high-octane fight scenes, the challenges and importance of writing a hero who doesn’t believe in herself, and bringing Native experiences into a science fiction world.
Den of Geek: Trail of Lightning follows monster hunter Maggie Hoskie through a post-apocalyptic world steeped in Navajo legend. What does it mean to you to write fantasy based on Indigenous heritage?
Roanhorse: It means everything. I’m a huge science fiction and fantasy fan; I’ve been reading in the genre my entire life, and I never have seen a story that I thought represented me as an Indigenous woman. I looked around and I didn’t see any stories — particularly in urban fantasy, which is a genre that I really like — where the Native American character was truly centered in their Native culture surrounded by the gods, monsters, and heroes of their culture. I thought, that’s what I wanted to read, so that’s what I decided to write!
I think it’s important and incredibly powerful to offer that kind of representation, not just to Native readers so that they can see themselves in the story but to non-Natives, too, so that they can expand their own imaginations and their own ideas about what Native people and Native culture are like now and into the future.
You mentioned particularly “into the future,” and have talked before about Indigenous Futurism. Is there anything you want to add about making this a science fiction, post-apocalyptic story?
Most Native American stories that you see put us in the past. It’s the 1800s and the Native Americans are dead or dying, and they’re often very limited in scope. They’re often Plains Indians, and they’re wearing buckskins, they’re riding horses, that sort of thing. Even now, in the two movies coming out (they’re not genre movies, but I’m thinking of Hostiles and Woman Walks Ahead) they’re all set in the 1800s. So we don’t seem to get a lot of play or a lot of interest from science fiction and fantasy period, much less putting us in the future.
So it was really important to me to show that Native Americans are still here, and that we will continue to be here, and that our stories can be sovereign. They can tell stories that have to do with our culture and our mythos, and they can be entertaining and exciting and adventurous. They don’t have to always be depressing death marches or stories of alcoholism and trauma. Although my story does deal with a lot of trauma! But hopefully it’s still a fun monster-hunting adventure.
Is there any particular element of Native experience, either lived or mythological, that you found especially important or especially exciting to include?
I wanted to get the food right! I thought it was really important. There’s not a ton of food in the book, but when they do eat it’s important, as is who makes the food and what kind of food they’re eating and where they’re eating it. All of these are details of the Native experience. In the book, Maggie, who is not domestically inclined, makes food for somebody, so it’s kind of a big deal. And also that she makes it for Coyote and Kai is kind of a big deal. She makes bread. And that fry bread she makes is a traditional staple in Native American culture.
It came from nothing; it came from the equivalent of being on rations. It’s the basic ingredient. So they took something that was basically starvation rations, and made something delicious. For me, that’s a great metaphor for Native American culture in general, particularly post-1492. We took the things that were meant to kill us and we made them nourishment. We make them strength.
Trail of Lightning has been described as a Mad Max-like action story. How did you approach writing fight scenes and keeping tension going?
I read a lot of other fight scenes. Actually for this book I went in and picked some of my favorite fight scenes from other authors and dissected them, line by line. I asked ‘what did they do here, what happened next, who talks next, who turns next?’ I literally took them apart to see how they did it.
With that in mind I went back to my own stories and applied my own style, which for this book at least, is really short and clipped and to-the-point. Maggie is not going to write a very pretty sentence necessarily. There’s not a lot of flourish. It’s more of a bare-knuckle boxing aesthetic than a rapier fight on cobblestones sort of thing. So I was trying to bring that into the writing in general, but specifically the fight scenes.
I wanted to make them as visceral and immediate as I could. Writing in first person present really helps put the reader right into the scenes. Quite frankly, I tried not to sugarcoat anything. If there was going to be blood or guts or something gory, I wanted to try to touch on that too. Violence is important in this story. I didn’t want to make it any softer than it was, because a lot of Maggie’s character centers around her violence and the reasons she’s so violent and her discomfort with her own violence. She’s worried about whether that makes her a monster herself.
Talk a little bit about Maggie and how she will grow and change throughout the book.
She’s the monster-hunter, the main character in the story. When you meet her she’s been in isolation. She’s just gotten dumped, basically, by her mentor, who she was also in love with. She had a very complicated relationship with him. It’s a hot mess! So she’s trying to figure out her next step in who she is. She’s very isolated in a community where connection is everything. She’s unliked, and that’s fair, because I don’t think she likes herself very much at the beginning of the story.
She has to learn how to talk to people, generally!
Part of what I liked about her was that her strength came from violence but she was also very nervous and unsettled by herself. That gave her a lot of texture.
That’s on purpose, that her greatest strength is also her greatest horror. I really wanted to play with the question "Can anything good come from trauma or suffering?'' Of course, the characters don’t agree. Kai thinks the powers they get through trauma are a blessing, and Maggie thinks they’re a curse. I try not to really answer that question, because I don’t know what the answer is. But I’m interested in the question.
When I wrote Maggie, I wanted her to stay violent. I’ve had some people ask why she hasn’t come full circle or why she hasn’t realized the things she has done are wrong. And I think that’s realistic. I’m not sure people do that. Particularly I’m not sure Maggie would do that, because I’m not sure she has enough self-awareness to do that. I think she has a much longer journey. She isn’t recovering so much from the trauma in the book as she is beginning to acknowledge it.
People have relapses. She can want for all the world not to kill people any more, but I’m not sure that’s going to work out.
And it is a four book series. Things will change, and she’ll have other challenges and emotional issues to face … I didn’t want that question very neatly answered, because I don’t think Maggie is a neat character. She’s messy. And sometimes you have to be selfish to survive. So her thoughts might feel selfish in the end, but often that’s what women have to do. Often that’s what women of color have to do if they want to survive. If you’re not for you, you’re going to have a hell of a time.
Her partner Kai is described as an “unconventional medicine man.” You’ve said in previous interviews that you wanted to place him in a very modern context. Where is he in life at the beginning of his book and what is the core of his character?
It’s twofold. I wanted to create a medicine man character, because that seemed important. But I didn’t want to fall into any of the stereotypes or conventions of what non-Natives think of when they think of medicine men. Because I know medicine men. And I know medicine men in training. Very traditional guys who are just like Kai: they’re young, they want to go to the club! They’re modern, contemporary people. But they have also this traditional side that leads them to want to train to be medicine men.
Medicine men are the healers in the community. The way that non-Natives might go to a doctor or a psychiatrist, Natives will often go to a medicine man. Often they do both. So I knew I wanted that. I knew I wanted him to be young and sort of attractive, but to have layers too. I wanted him to have secrets and his own life outside of when he meets Maggie. We’ll get more into Kai particularly in book three, when we go back to Burque, where he’s from.
I think he’s complicated in his own way. He does function as a foil to Maggie. He’s the healer, she’s the killer. He’s optimistic, she’s pessimistic. And a lot of the reason I chose to do that has to do with Navajo philosophy. Navajo philosophy is about balance, so often if there’s something wrong with you it’s because you’re out of balance. You have to bring balance back into your life somehow.
Maggie is entirely out of balance, and so Kai provides that balance for her.
What did you find most challenging about writing Trail of Lightning?
Getting the representation right was very important. I’m not Navajo; I’m Ohkay Owingeh, a tribe in northern New Mexico. I’ve lived on the Navajo reservation and I’m married to a Navajo man, but it’s not my culture.
I wanted to be very careful about the stories I chose to use, the way that I portrayed people and places and everything that went into the world-building I tried to be very conscious that this was going to be a lot of people’s first introduction to Navajo culture, and that I’d have a lot of Navajo readers. I didn’t want to let them down. I didn’t want to get it wrong.
I wanted to create somewhere where they could see themselves in genre fiction, because that would have meant the world to me as a kid. Even as an adult it’s very exciting! You’re like like, if it’s in a book it must be important, it must be real. You’re telling my story.
What are you reading currently?
Witchmark by C.L. Polk. That’s sort of the opposite of my book. It’s set in an Edwardian England-style fantasy world. It’s very proper and restrained. But it also has a murder mystery at the center of it, and witches, and interesting angel-fae type characters. I’m really digging that.
What are some books by Native authors you would recommend?
If you’re interested in a different vision of a post-apocalyptic world written by an Indigenous writer, people should check out Cherie Dimaline. She wrote a book called The Marrow Thieves. She is First Nations, which means she’s Canadian. Hers is a YA, but it’s definitely readable by anybody. Her post-apocalyptic vision is much darker I think than mine, in the sense that in my version everyone on the Navajo reservation is doing pretty ok, except for the monsters.
In her version, non-Natives have stopped dreaming. And they’re all going insane and dying because of it. The only people who can dream any more are the Native population. So these government goon squads hunt down Natives for the marrow in their bones to make a serum that’s supposed to help you dream again. Her protagonist is a young boy on the run with a ragtag group of other Indigenous people. It’s great. It’s really well written. It’s very creepy. It touches on very contemporary issues about resource exploitation and Natives being forced into boarding schools. But it comes at it through a lens of science fiction.
You’re working on other books in the Sixth World series, as well as a children’s book, Race to the Sun, from Rick Riordan’s imprint. Anything in particular you want to add about these or other upcoming publications?
The second book in the Sixth World series is called Storm of Locusts, and that will be out in April 2019. In Trail of Lightning we stay within the walls of the Navajo reservation, of Dinétah. But in Storm of Locusts we’re going on a road trip. My shorthand for Storm of Locusts is it’s a girl gang road trip down post-apocalyptic Route 66. You’ll run into all sorts of things like newborn casino gods and a cult leader with a penchant for locusts and all sorts of interesting things along the road. Maggie has to go save Kai from himself.
In 2020 I have an epic fantasy coming from Saga press, and that is an Anasazi-inspired epic fantasy, so I’m excited to try my hand at that. That’s going to be larger in scope. You’ll have these great matriarchal clan-dwelling families. It has intrigue and celestial prophecies and dark rebellion. All the things people like about epic fantasy, but in an Anasazi world.
Maury Island Incident Historical Society commemorates the first American Man in Black warning.
The Men in Black are now part of the collective subconscious for both science fact and fiction fans. From the penlight-amnesia-inducing bureaucrats played by Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black to the Cadillac-driving Jeopardy host with the future-Minnesota-Governor sidekick of The X-Files, they are surreally familiar partners to alien incursion. The first Man In Black sighting was recently celebrated by the Maury Island Incident Historical Society with “Burning Saucer, LXXI.” The event was held during its Annual 2018 Meeting at the Woodmont Country Club in Des Moines, according to local news source the Waterland Blog. The event included a “burning of the saucer,” a small replica of the Icarus spaceship from the 1968 science fiction classic Planet of the Apes, set to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” performed live by Tinkham Road.
The Maury Island UFO sighting over Puget Sound was reported on June 21, 1947, months before the more famous Roswell, New Mexico, incident. The Maury Island Incident Historical Society highlights that and other area sightings from 1947. It caught the attention of J. Edgar Hoover and was the first reported mention of Men in Black.
The Maury Island Incident may be the only case written off as a hoax that led to the death of UFO Investigators who flew up from Hamilton Field in California. Army Air Force Intelligence officers Captain Lee Davidson and First Lieutenant Frank Brown died when their B-25 caught fire and crashed after examining retrieved evidence they classified as ordinary aluminum.
The story first came to light when Ray Palmer, an editor at Amazing Stories, assigned a story about a man named Fred Crisman who claimed to have evidence of a flying saucer to UFO investigator Kenneth Arnold. Crimson was the shore supervisor for Harold Dahl, who worked as an informal harbor patroller pulling logs from the Puget Sound. Crimson said Dahl saw a doughnut-shaped aircraft dump piles of slag-like material on the beach of Maury Island.
Dahl reported he was on his patrol boat with his son and their dog at about two in the afternoon. They saw six objects floating about 2,000 feet above the boat. The objects were 100 feet in diameter with center holes and portholes, and possibly an observation window. Dahl took pictures with his camera. One ship stayed in position for a few minutes and then dropped thousands of pieces a white, lightweight metal in the bay and on the beach. It then dropped about a ton of dark metal that erupted, burning his son and killing his dog. The boat’s radio did not work after the incident. Dahl skippered it back, dropped his son at the hospital and left the camera with Crisman. Dahl later said his son disappeared and was found waiting tables in Montana with no memory of how he got there.
Crisman developed the prints, which showed air craft, but said the negatives appeared to be damaged as if by radiation exposure. Crisman reported seeing an air craft hovering overhead when he went back the site to verify Dahl’s story.
Separate FBI and Air Force investigators determined the remaining samples were slag from a metal smelter, concluding Dahl and Crisman faked the incident for publicity. The FBI said the government wouldn’t prosecute Dahl and Crisman for a hoax that caused two deaths if they made no further statements. At first they recanted but Crisman told Fate magazine, in the January 1950 issue, the incident did indeed occur. Maury Island was included in Kenneth Arnold’s 1952 book The Coming of the Saucers.
Dahl told investigators a man wearing a black suit visited him the next morning, and said let’s do breakfast. Dahl followed man’s new black Buick with his own car. While they ate at a restaurant, the man detailed what happened during the incident without being asked, and vaguely threatened Dahl and his family if he told anyone. “I know a great deal more about this experience of yours than you will want to believe,” Dahl reported the man said.
The Men in Black, sometimes called the “silencers,” are individuals dressed completely in black wearing matching black hats and trench coats who show up after UFO sightings. These strangters warn about spreading the story and sometimes threaten people.
According to witness accounts, Men in Black or MIBs usually arrive in expensive cars, like black Cadillacs, with unrecognizable insignia on the sides and untraceable license plates. The interiors of the cars reportedly emit a purple or greenish glow.
Most accounts say Men in Black have dark complexions, high cheekbones, thin lips, pointed chins, and big almond eyes that are mildly slanted. A woman told her boss how large and blue the eyes were, and said they may have been hypnotic. Some people believe the figures they encountered were able to read their minds, though they may just cause cognitive dissonance, a term coined in the 1950s by psychologist Leon Festinger, who illustrated the point by referencing a UFO cult.
Men in Black have been described it as “cartoonish.” One stranger’s expression never appeared to change at all. One witness said the Man in Black who visited her had “no facial hair, no eyebrows, no nothing.” The witness said her MIB never blinked, “not once.”
They give off “strange” or “odd” vibes, and speak like a boring computer. One person who was visited said it appeared they were wearing wigs attached to the hats. The fabric of their clothes is shiny, but not silky, like newly bought garments. One witness noticed a thick layer of wool underneath the pants of the suit his MIB wore. Their black shoes were usually shiny, sometimes even if they walked through mud.
On several separate occasions, it appeared the Men in Black walked awkwardly or had somehow odd appearances. One group of MIBs reportedly walked as if they were arthritic, another group waddled when they walked and were so abnormally thin it was scary. A Wildwood, New Jersey, report detailed an abnormally large man who had a green wire grafted onto his skin, visible when his pants legs hiked up.
A member of one group, wearing black hats pulled over their eyes and long, black trench coats in the summer heat, dropped a portfolio, leaving behind a coin with a man who looked like a wolf on one side and navigational lines and two crescent moons on the flip. The language on the coin could not be identified.
An alleged Man in Black was photographed in New Jersey and the picture was published in the Fall 1968 issue of Saucer magazine, accompanied by the car he drove and a detailed witness account. One sighting revealed a Man in Black leaving a mysterious object in the lobby of the U.S. State Department.
A Man in Black disintegrated a coin in a witness’s hand, assuring that his heart would do the same if he talked. One report said an ex-Air Force serviceman was gassed and interrogated by Men in Black after viewing classified NASA files. UFO researchers and witnesses reported receiving harassing phone calls from metallic voices. Security equipment reportedly malfunctions for no reason. Videos don’t tape. There are reports of phone line problems, clicking sounds on phone calls, and dead air on calls received in the middle of the night.
Electronics entrepreneur Paul Bennewitz picked up strange transmissions on his amateur equipment in New Mexico in 1979. He contacted nearby Kirtland Air Force Base to report it. They found he was picking up on their transmissions but encouraged him to continue. After a while, he too was visited by Men in Black.
In his 1952 book They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers, Albert K. Bender said he was visited by three men in dark suits who threatened to imprison him after forming the International Flying Saucer Bureau. Days after mailing out material he wanted checked before sending to Space Review magazine, he suffered a dizzy spell and men in black suits with black hats materialized in his room. He said the men’s eyes lit up and it felt like they were speaking directly to his mind. Bender believed they were part of the U.S. government.
Many MIBs claim they are representatives of a secret government organization. Some theorize the Men in Black may be aliens who look human. Author John A. Keel believes Men in Black come from another time-space continua. UFO Men in Black are not the same as the demonic visitors who predated them, most notably depicted in the Richard Gere-starring The Mothman Prophecies. There may be more on that later, there's a black Caddilac outside and it looks like a nice ride.
Does this exclusive Deathstroke #33 preview count as father/son bonding time?
Priest writes knots. He starts in one place, spins and twists his characters around in so many different directions and configurations that it seems impossible to keep up with, and then masterfully untangles them when it would have maximum impact on the reader and never a second too late. He did this expertly in Black Panther, and it's one of the most enjoyable things about Deathstroke. He will, 32 issues later, pay off something I didn't even realize was being set up for a payoff, and it will feel incredible. This makes the book a more challenging read sometimes, not because the individual issues are difficult, but because it so rewards a binge reread to watch a master at work and there are only 24 hours in a day.
He's doing it again here in this exclusive preview of Deathstroke#33. Right away we get references to Detective Comics#940, last issue, and all the way back to the first arc of the series. It took every ounce of self-restraint I had not to start pulling them out of my longboxes and start in on a reread right away.
Here's what DC has to say about the issue:
DEATHSTROKE #33 written by CHRISTOPHER PRIEST
art by ED BENES and JASON PAZ
cover by ROBSON ROCHA and DANIEL HENRIQUES
variant cover by FRANCESCO MATTINA
Forced to team with Deathstroke, a man he loathes, Damian Wayne must discover the truth of his lineage. Is he really Bruce Wayne's son, or is Slade Wilson his true father? As Batman draws closer to finding them both, Deathstroke must complete a hit, while Robin shadows the killer for hire.
I tried to hold off the urge, but in the end I was unsuccessful. For more on Deathstroke,stick with Den of Geek, and for now, check out these preview pages.
Check out our complete guide to every single Marvel Universe reference in Captain America: The First Avenger.
You could almost consider Captain America: The First Avenger to be the birth of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we've come to know it. The 2011 Joe Johnston film wasn't the first Marvel movie, nor was it the first to bring in elements from upcoming projects (The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2 both beat it to the punch). But it is the one that does the most heavy lifting in terms of world-building for the Marvel Universe, and some of its scenes have taken on more weight recently, thanks to projects like the Agent CarterTV series, not to mention its two sequels, The Winter Soldierand Captain America: Civil War, and let's not forget Avengers: Infinity War.
It's really amazing just how much Marvel lore this movie contains, and how faithful it is, at least in spirit, to the very first Captain America story, too. So join us as we overanalyze as much of Captain America: The First Avengeras we possibly can...
Just to get this out of the way right up front, our primary players in this movie, Captain America and the Red Skull were both introduced in Captain America Comics #1 in 1940. They were created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Perhaps you've heard of them.
- The framing sequence of the movie, which deals with the discovery and revival of Captain America has its roots in a number of places. For starters, Cap was revived in Avengers#4 (1964) by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. As you might have guessed, in the comic book Marvel Universe, the Avengers had formed while Cap was presumed dead, and they were the ones who discovered his frozen body and revived him.
Here, it's SHIELD who are tasked with reviving Captain America, which makes sense, as they're the ones who end up forming the Avengers in the first place. But that's not the amusing thing...
- The crash site being found by a "Russian oil team" however, kind of mirrors a less celebrated piece of Captain America history. In the infamous 1990 Cannon Films movie (a flick that I kind of have a soft spot for, but that's an article for another time), where there was absolutely no such thing as a "Marvel Cinematic Universe," it was a German oil team who found the Capcicle. I'd like to think this was an intentional nod, but it probably wasn't.
- This film also marks the first official appearance of Hydra in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Hydra first appeared in Strange Tales #135 in 1965, and like most awesome things in these movies, was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
The thing is, the Hydra of the comics was never really a WWII-era organization. It was, however, always a post-Nazi one, led by Wolfgang Von Strucker (remember him from the opening moments of Avengers: Age of Ultron?) and it did get some support from the Red Skull. But the idea of Johann Schmidt as the founder of Hydra is an invention strictly for the movies.
We'll talk a little more about ol' Johann Schmidt/The Red Skull in a few minutes...
- The Tesseract is not only "the jewel of Odin's treasure room" (and that connection to Thorand Thor: The Dark World really doesn't need any additional explanation, does it?), it's one of the Infinity Stones (specifically, the space gem), the series of Maguffins that has linked the Marvel Cinematic Universe together.
But in the comics...
...the Tesseract was something known as "The Cosmic Cube" (it was the '60s, yo), and it was a purely technological, not magical or alien piece of superhero headache inducingness. It's general, all-purpose ability to "warp reality" is more or less in place throughout its comic book history, though, and the Red Skull has shown a fondness for it on more than one occasion...always to his undoing.
- The ties to the Thormovies don't end with that line about Odin's treasure room, however. You can see the seeds of Thor: Ragnarok hinted at here. The tesseract is stashed in a wall sculpture of Yggdrasil, "the world tree," and the serpent (whose eye holds the key to unlocking the tesseract's hiding place) is Jormungandr, the serpent that Thor does battle with during the Asgardian end of days.
- Even though Hitler's real life obsession with the occult is well documented, I'd like to think that Skull's line about how "the Fuhrer digs for trinkets in the desert" is a reference to the events of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Captain America: The First Avenger director Joe Johnston worked on the Raiders production (as did legendary Marvel artist Jim Steranko). Marvel also published a comic adaptation of that classic film, as well as The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones comic book series.
In other words, if you want to believe that Indiana Jones is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, be my guest...Disney owns him, anyway.
- Scenes of a pre-Cap Steve Rogers getting outraged about the Nazis while watching newsreel footage in a movie theater are staples of any expanded telling of his origin, but especially in the criminally overlooked mini-series, The Adventures of Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty by Fabian Nicieza and Kevin Maguire.
- Bucky Barnes is a drastically different character from any of his comic book incarnations. Initially first appearing in the pages of Captain America Comics #1, he was a typical "kid sidekick" of the era, complete with Robin-esque domino mask. Bucky Barnes was adopted by the guys at Camp Lehigh after his father died in combat. It was later revealed that the teenaged boy was an accomplished sniper and field agent...but again, none of that is in play here.
The idea of Steve and Bucky having a friendship that predates their military days was introduced (like many elements of the Marvel Cinematic Universe) in the pages of Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's The Ultimates. There, Bucky was a photographer, but he also helped keep Steve from getting his ass kicked in the streets of Brooklyn in their youth. The tables, of course, were turned once Cap took the super soldier cure.
- The "Modern Marvels" title of the World's Fair exhibition needs no explanation, but note "Phineas Horton's Synthetic Man." That's the original Human Torch you're seeing in that tube. He's an android who bursts into flame, and he graced the cover of Marvel Comics#1 in 1939.
A Golden Age Human Torch movie would be amazing, but it might take some gymnastics to get that name on film, given that 20th Century Fox owns the rights to "the Human Torch" with the Fantastic Four movies.
Torch's big nemesis was Namor, the Sub-Mariner, a character whose movie rights might be tied up at Universal. But if any of this is ever resolved, well...we need to see these two go head to head on screen.
- While this isn't the first appearance in the movies of Howard Stark, it is the first time we meet him as a young man played by Dominic Cooper (he was played by John Slattery in Iron Man 2).
The red car that Howard Stark fails to levitate seems to be a precursor to Phil Coulson's beloved flying red hot rod "Lola" on Agents of SHIELD. The red color might indicate a fondness for red that manifests in Tony Stark's armor. Howard is using "reversion" technology to try and levitate this, while Tony famously uses "repulsors" in the Iron Man armor.
- Not a comic book easter egg, but yes, that's Jenna "Clara Oswin Oswald" Coleman as one of Bucky and Steve's dates. If you'd like to consider this a side adventure of "the Impossible Girl" through time in order to make Doctor Who part of Marvel continuity, I won't stop you.
- Aside from the fact that Stanley Tucci is just delightful as Professor Abraham Erskine, the character has an interesting little history, too. In that very first Captain America origin story, he was referred to as "Josef Reinstein" (which probably rhymes with the most famous scientist of the era). It was later revealed that "Reinstein" was an alias used to protect the good doctor from his Nazi pursuers.
We'll talk a little more about this version of Dr. Erskine when we get into the Red Skull's entry in a few minutes...
- While the big screen Steve Rogers is a Brooklyn boy, in the comics, he was born on New York City's Lower East Side...the same mean streets that helped mold his co-creator, Jack Kirby, into the force of nature that he was. Incidentally, the story that Steve gives about his parents dying roughly lines up with what we know in the comics, although his mother died of pneumonia, not TB, there.
Arnim Zola first appeared in Captain America #208 (1977) during Jack Kirby's incredibly wild return to Marvel. When we first meet Arnim Zola in the Red Skull's lab, his face is distorted through a weird lens. It's a reference to Arnim Zola's rather distinctive Jack Kirby design, which...ummm...you'd better see for yourself:
Crazy, right? Anyway, we see some of Zola's next evolution in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Also, if you squint, you can spot designs for his robotic body in the blueprints in the laboratory.
- In that lab, Red Skull can be seen looking at a book that shows an old-fashioned illustration of the Norse "nine realms," one of which is "our" world, Midgard, and of course, there is Asgard.
- Peggy Carter first appeared in Tales of Suspense#77 (1966) and was created by (who else?) Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Trust us, the Peggy Carter of the screen is a much more interesting character than the Peggy Carter of the page. Needless to say, the original Peggy Carter is an important part of Cap's history, even if she wasn't always quite the badass that Hayley Atwell gave us. We have much more on Peggy's comic history right here, if you're interested.
- Enlisted douchebag Gilmore Hodge appeared in that excellent Cap origin story I mentioned above, The Adventures of Captain America. In that series, it was revealed that Steve was part of a program of guys who competed for the role. The Hodge of the comics was even more insufferable than the jerk on screen, if you can believe that.
- Sgt. Duffy is a favorite of mine, mostly because he's played to such perfection by Damon Driver. Duffy dates back to Cap's first appearance in Captain America Comics #1. Part of Steve Rogers' cover when he was at Camp Lehigh had to be that he was kind of a big, dumb, lummox...and thus, poor Sgt. Duffy, who wasn't in on the truth often found his blood pressure rising because of Rogers and his "goldbricking."
- Colonel Chester Phillips didn't make his way into the comics until the 1965 re-telling of Captain America's origin in the pages of Tales of Suspense #65. Needless to say, Tommy Lee Jones is more fun on screen than the comic book version of Phillips ever was on the page. His little speech about "super soldiers" to the folks at Camp Lehigh refers to how Captain America was referred to in his early days, and the name of the serum that would grant him his abilities.
Colonel Phillips eventually became General Phillips, because you're goddamn right he did.
- Now is as good a time as any to talk about the super soldier serum, the Red Skull's origin, and this movie's ties to the less beloved 1990 Captain Americamovie. The idea that the man who gives Captain America his powers first devised a serum (under duress) is something borrowed, intentionally or otherwise, from Albert Pyun's 1990 Captain Americaflick. The imperfect serum is what ultimately turned the Red Skull into, well, a red skull.
That wasn't always the case, though...
- In the comics, Schmidt was just an evil young man who Hitler chose to be his representation of the Reich's "values." There was no super soldier serum involved, and for most of his career, he simply wore a mask...his face wasn't actually a red skull. That came later.
Anyway, back to Cap's origin...
- The origin sequence with Steve Rogers' transformation is a nearly perfect translation of the original Joe Simon/Jack Kirby story. From the car pulling up at the antique shop (it was a "curio shop" in 1940...same thing), to the old lady ready to blow you away if you give the wrong countersign. She even looks like the character who appeared in just a handful of panels back then.
By the way, the fact that they managed to sneak the words "vita-rays" into a movie released in 2011 provides me endless amounts of joy. There are few things that scream "golden age superhero origin story" like "vita-rays." I could use some vita-rays, come to think of it.
Also, that's Richard "Thorin Oakenshield" Armitage as Heinz Kruger, another character from Cap's first appearance. In the comics, Cap beats the hell out of Heinz before accidentally knocking him into the machinery which electrocutes him. Whether that's less gruesome than a cyanide pill or not is entirely up to you to decide.
- The scene of Steve having his blood taken so that the government could try and duplicate the super soldier serum made sense in the context of the movie at the time, as Cap was always "the only one of his kind" because of the murder of Dr. Erskine. But after watching Agent Carterseason one, this scene carries a whole lot more weight, doesn't it?
- There's a moment here when the SSR is told that all their focus is going to be put into fighting Hydra. So, with one line, we get the origin of the SHIELD vs. Hydra struggle. Holy moley, this movie got a lot done, didn't it?
This next bit isn't from the comics, but it's too cool not to point out...
- Steve's desire to fight in the war and the government's efforts to keep him stateside as a symbol of heroism parallels the story of a real life World War II hero, Marine Corps Sgt. John Basilone. Basilone was awarded the Medal of Honor after some nearly superhuman acts of heroism in combat at Guadalcanal. After that, he was sent back to the States to raise money for the war effort. Basilone was determined to help win the war in a more hands-on fashion, and requested they send him back overseas. He was killed in action (after sending a good stack of enemies to meet their maker) at Iwo Jima.
Basilone's story was told on the HBO series The Pacific, where he was played by John Seda. It's a good watch.
- The costume that Cap wears during his war bond effort is a perfectly comic book accurate version of the classic Captain America costume (right down to the original shield...the round, more offensively minded shield didn't come around until Captain America Comics #2). It says an awful lot about Chris Evans' physique that he can actually make this look good, and he probably would have been just as effective wearing this throughout the movie. But here's the thing...
It's a little ill-fitting, isn't it? And there wasn't any spandex in 1942. In fact...
...it looks more than a little bit like the version of the costume worn by Dick Purcell in the 1944 Captain America movie serial from Republic Pictures.
There's moments where it appears they're filming a Captain America movie serial during this montage, too. Considering that the Republic Pictures serial had almost nothing to do with the character from the comics beyond the costume (he was District Attorney Grant Gardner, not Steve Rogers), I'd like to imagine that's what they're filming here: a fictionalized version of the "real" Steve Rogers' non adventures.
- The bit with Cap socking Hitler on the jaw is taken straight from the cover of Captain America Comics #1. Remember when I said that thing probably hit the stands in late 1940? It was nearly a year before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the US got formally involved in World War II. So that comic showed Cap socking a foreign dictator back when there was war being waged in Europe, but the USA was still a year away from involvement. As a result, the earliest Captain America comic book adventures featured him taking on saboteurs stateside.
This probably explains why they moved the movie's timeline forward to 1942-1943 rather than the comic book Cap's early days of 1940-1941...it makes more sense for this movie to take place at a time when the US was already well embroiled in Europe.
- Oh, and Cap is selling war bonds. You know where else Cap sold war bonds? On the covers of various Marvel/Timely publications in the '40s. It's what all the superheroes did!
- The Howling Commandos have a rich comic book history all their own. These were the guys led by Nick Fury in World War II...in comics that didn't appear until the '60s. They were created by (wait for it) Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and first appeared in the appropriately titled Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos#1 in 1963.
There are some notable characters in the big screen version of the Howlers, though. Dum Dum Dugan, of course, has been hanging around the Marvel Universe forever, and has been Nick Fury's right hand man in SHIELD many times. Gabriel Jones grandson is Antoine Triplett , who showed up for awhile on Agents of SHIELD.
Oh, and Kenneth Choi, who plays Commando Jim Morita here, shows up in Spider-Man: Homecoming as the principal of Peter's school, and the grandson of the character he plays in this very movie!
We wrote much more about the individual Howling Commandos and their comic book origins in our guide to Agent Carter Season 1, which you can read right here.
- Also note that the British demolitions expert, James Montgomery Falsworth, in the comics had a costumed identity as Union Jack. Falsworth's inclusion is a nod to the superhero team known as The Invaders, who operated during World War II. Their ranks included Union Jack, Captain America, the original Human Torch, and Namor.
- While Stan Lee does have a cameo here, please remember: he did not have anything to do with Captain America's creation. Cap was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. However, Mr. Lee did write a good stack of my favorite Captain America stories in the mid-60s, and he was the writer on Avengers#4, the comic that brought Cap into the "modern" Marvel Universe (all with Cap's co-creator Kirby).
In fact, the only characters in this movie that Lee had any hand in actually creating are Peggy Carter, the Howling Commandos, and Nick Fury.
- Yes, that's Game of Thrones' Natalie Dormer leading Cap astray. Your eyes do not deceive you.
- During Bucky's adventures with the Howling Commandos, we see his proficiency with a sniper rifle, something that obviously comes in handy during his future as a brainwashed cybernetic assassin in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. In the original comics, Bucky was a more traditional "kid sidekick" type, like a more combat ready Robin.
But Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting took elements of Bucky's history (he always seemed proficient with a rifle, he spoke a bunch of different languages) and foregrounded that as they retold Cap's origins in the early 2000s. Why would Bucky be so effective with firearms and languages if he wasn't actually a highly trained operative, right? It's these things that helped lead to the whole "Winter Soldier" badassness.
- Bucky's "death" however, differs dramatically from the comics. The comic book version of these events saw Bucky and Cap trying to disarm a heavily armed drone. Cap falls off (into the Arctic...you can guess the rest) and Bucky got blown into sidekick mcnuggets. Or so we thought for about 40 years, until Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting brought him back as the Winter Soldier. Either way, as he does in the film, Cap held himself responsible for his pal's death.
The villain they were trying to take down at the time was Baron Zemo, not the Red Skull, and he ended up appearing in Captain America: Civil War, where he was played by Daniel Bruhl.
- Oh, and when Cap begins his assault on Hydra HQ, he plants his shield on the front of his motorcycle. That's something that Reb Brown did in the not exactly awesome Captain America TV movies from the 1970s.
Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments and I'll add 'em in here!
Mike Cecchini was almost born on the Fourth of July. Shoot roman candles at him on Twitter.
Do you love the Captain America movies but you aren't sure where to start with the comics? We've got the reading guide for you!
So, you like the Captain America movies but can't wait two years or more in between installments? Or maybe you just want to get into the comics but are a little nervous about the sheer volume of material out there?
Well, you're in luck. There are plenty of Captain America comics out there that are perfectly accessible to new readers and movie fans. I've compiled a list of stories that inspired the films and serve as Captain America 101 if that's what you're looking for. But the most important thing these all have in common is that they're all wonderful reads, and well worth your time.
The Marvels Project
So, technically this isn’t a Captain America story, although his origin and early adventures do play a part in its second half. But The Marvels Project by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting, and Dave Stewart reads like a kind of prequel to Captain America: The First Avenger, even though it’s strictly adherent to Cap’s comic book continuity, and it’s not a Marvel Studios tie-in.
But the Brubaker/Epting/Stewart combo delivers a story that looks and feels right at home in the big screen world of Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter. Want to know how Dr. Erskine defected from Nazi Germany, who the mysterious synthetic man in a red suit visible during the Stark Fair sequence of The First Avengeris, or which other mystery men were fighting the good fight in the Marvel Universe of the late ‘30s and early ‘40s? Then this is the book for you.
For movie fans, you’ll be able to wrap your head around the differences in Cap’s origin just fine, and you can imagine that much of this takes place in the margins around the events of The First Avenger. For readers just looking to get a broader look at Marvel history, this is a wonderful starting point.
Captain America and Bucky: The Life Story of Bucky Barnes
Here’s another easy window into Cap’s World War II era adventures, and it’s another one that if you squint a little, can kind of take place in between the scenes of The First Avenger. Anyway, it’s suitable for newbies and comics experts alike. Each issue is a standalone story, serving as a snapshot of Cap and Bucky’s years together. The focus is squarely on Bucky, though, and he narrates each issue.
Think of it as less of a pure Captain America story and more as something of a prequel to The Winter Soldier, and it works even better. The fourth chapter is even about some of Bucky’s Cold War exploits as The Winter Soldier.
What really makes this essential, though, is the Chris Samnee artwork. Seriously, Chris Samnee drawing Captain America, Bucky, Namor, and the original Human Torch fighting in World War II? Why would anybody pass this up?
There’s also a second Captain America and Bucky volume, called Old Wounds. That one is a little more out there, telling the story of the replacements for Cap and Bucky who finished out World War II after the originals were presumed dead, and a parallel story set in the present. It’s cool, and one of the more unique Captain America stories I’ve read in recent years, but it’s less essential than The Life Story of Bucky Barnes. On the other hand, Old Wounds does feature Francesco Francavilla on art, and that alone is probably worth the price of admission.
The Winter Soldier
So, if the title didn't already clue you in, this is the basic inspiration for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, as well as a number of story elements from Captain America: Civil War. I say "basic" inspiration because if you've seen the movie, it's not the same as reading the comic. Visually and tonally, the films take a ton of inspiration from the Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting run on Captain America, but there's plenty for movie fans to discover, as the actual stories themselves are quite different.
Of all the great things about this story (and really, if you enjoy this one, just pick up every volume in the series, because it's one of the most impressive Captain America mega-stories ever told), the constant flashbacks to Cap and Bucky's early days are particularly useful. If all you know about Cap is what you learned from the movies, this is familiar enough, but the flashbacks will fill in the blanks and give you plenty of context for the more comic book specific parts of the story.
When The Winter Soldier story was first being published, the idea of bringing Bucky back to life was virtually unthinkable. Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting not only made it work, they made it into the most compelling and definitive Captain America story of this generation.
Does this really need any explanation? I'll be perfectly honest, I'm not the biggest fan of the comic book version of Civil War. In fact, I think the movie took the basic concepts of this and delivered something far more mature and believable. The inciting factors are different, the cast of characters is much, much larger on the page, and the whole thing is far less Bucky-centric than what we got on screen, and this one has the entirety of the Marvel Universe (including the X-Men and Fantastic Four) to play with.
But this list wouldn't be complete unless I included it. I'm not certain that new readers will find it as accessible as some of the titles listed above, but you may want to check it out.
DIG A LITTLE DEEPER...
This next batch of titles is for those of you who want to get a little more of a taste of Captain America comics through the ages. These are just some personal favorites of mine that I think are essential to the character's history. And they're damn good comics.
Captain America Epic Collection: Captain America Lives Again
I cannot in good conscience have an article like this and not include something by Cap’s co-creator, Jack Kirby. And while there are certainly earlier stories (Joe Simon and Jack Kirby had a seminal 13 issue stint that kicked everything off), these are by far my favorite of Kirby’s Cap work, some of my favorite Kirby work period, and by extension, some of my favorite comics of all time.
This volume reprints Cap’s earliest stories from when he was reintroduced into the Marvel Universe in 1964. The short stories taking place in the present detail a Captain America adjusting to the death of Bucky, a world that has moved on 20 years without him, and finding his place in the roster of Avengers. The ones in the past re-tell Cap’s origin and his early World War II adventures.
All of them are by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and each one is a delight. When I was a kid, far more than anything else, these were the stories that sold me on the character of Captain America, and they helped introduce to me the wonder that is the art of Jack Kirby. You’ll never see fight scenes leap off the page the way they do here, and Cap has never been as acrobatic. As far as I’m concerned, this is the definitive Captain America era.
The Bloodstone Hunt
Mark Gruenwald is one of the definitive Captain America writers of all time, and I think Kieron Dwyer is one of the most underrated comic book artists of his generation. Gruenwald was the steward of countless Captain America stories in the 1980s, and his run is marked by an incredible surplus of wild ideas, big adventures, and an attempt to give Captain America a colorful costumed rogues' gallery that would be the equal of any of the best in comics.
The Bloodstone Hunt is the first appearance of Crossbones (y'know, from Captain America: Civil War), but it's also the comics equivalent of those five-part GI Joe episodes where the team would have to run all over the world to assemble some bizarre device before Cobra got around to it. This is pure fun and a wonderful example of the larger than life craziness of the Cap comics of the era.
Man Without a Country
Back in the '90s, you were either one of 8,000 X-Men titles, 4,000 terrible Spider-Man titles, or you were basically dead in the water at Marvel Comics. It was all about clones, chromium covers, endless iterations of mutants, and characters with the word "blood" in their name. Classic superheroics were out, the '90s being, well, the '90s were in.
So along came Mark Waid and Ron Garney telling a tale of classic superheroics. And while everyone else at Marvel was poorly aping Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, or Rob Liefeld, here was Ron Garney, offering a take on Cap that felt like the Marvel equivalent of the Bruce Timm/Paul Dini Batman: The Animated Series. This is a wonderful read and Garney's art is just a joy to behold.
All-New Captain America: Hydra Ascendant
This one is a little trickier, but as one of my favorite recent Captain America stories, I can’t not recommend it. Hydra Ascendant came at the tail end of Rick Remender’s tenure as writer on Captain America, where he had done lots of bonkers stuff, including exiling Cap to another dimension ruled by Arnim Zola where he raises a synthetic son to adulthood who then becomes Nomad (breathes in) and then Cap loses the super soldier serum, reverts to his actual age, and Sam Wilson becomes Captain America (whew).
So, yeah, it’s a little weird getting your head around that. But once you do, this story is just so much damn fun. You like Sam Wilson in the big screen Marvel movies, right? Well, here’s your chance to see what happens when he becomes Captain America.
“Hydra Ascendant” is like a lightning fast tour of everything that makes Captain America fun. Hydra with insane subterranean/interdimensional/time traveling secret bases, the full range of colorful Captain America villains, including Baron Zemo, Crossbones, the Red Skull’s daughter, Batroc (ze leaper!), and Baron Blood, and some good old fashioned “make you want to be a better person” characterizations.
On the off chance none of that appeals to you (and for real, why did you bother reading this far if that’s the case?), then at least give this a look for the art team of Stuart Immonen and Wade Von Grawbadger. I can’t remember the last time a Captain America comic looked this fun, and the non-stop action just carries you from panel to panel like a bottle rocket. Also, Sam Wilson’s Captain America costume is the coolest major superhero redesign in recent memory.
Meet your new favorite spy character: Cuban-Irish American Field Operative Luz O'Malley Aróstegui.
This content was sponsored by Penguin Random House. The views in the article reflect our editorial team.
Are there any Teddy Roosevelt fans in the house? The 26th president of our United States has been getting a lot of play in our popular culture lately. I'm thinking specifically about his on-screen representation as the young, moral police commissioner of New York City in TNT's The Alienist (Roosevelt served as Police Commissioner of NYC from 1895 to 1897), but the moustachioed American statesmen is the divergent history crux in the just-released spy novel Black Chamber set in an alternate timeline of World War I.
In Black Chamber, the first in a planned series by S.M. Stirling (The Novels of The Change), Roosevelt becomes president for a second time in 1912 (in reality, he served as president solely from 1901 to 1909), just as The Great War is brewing. As the historical figure must decide how he wants to engage the Central Powers currently laying claim to much of Europe, Africa, and western Asia in 1916, he turns to the most powerful, precise tool in his arsenal: a secret, CIA-like spy network called the Black Chamber.
Something Black Chamber does particulaly well is play with mythic historical figures and narratives while at the same time infusing some much-needed diversity back into our historical imaginings. Alternative histories are in right now—and not just alternative histories, but stories that take our past and remind everyone that it wasn't just rich, white men who were shaping the story of our nation and our world.
From Lin-Manuel Miranda's color-conscious casting of historical rap musical Hamilton to Justina Ireland's zombie Civil War alt-history Dread Nation, storytellers are putting the diversity that was always there back into our nation's history in subversive, creative, and long-overdue ways. (Important note: This can be and is being done in straight historical novels, as well.) On that note, Roosevelt isn't the protagonist in Black Chamber. That honor belongs to Luz O'Malley Aróstegui, a badass spy working for the Black Chamber, and your new favorite spy character.
When we first meet Luz, the Cuban-Irish American Field Operative with personal ties to President Roosevelt is posing as an anti-American Mexican revolutionary on a transatlantic airship voyage. (Because what is the point of writing an alternative history novel if there aren't Zeppelins?) Luz's mission is to get close to German agent Baron Horst von Duckler and find out what she can about the German Reich's plans for the U.S. (Spoiler alert: they are scary and should be thwarted at all costs.) She does this with her mastery of multiple languages, superior emotional intelligence, fight skills, and—like Peggy Carter before her—by using society's underestimation of "the fairer sex" to manipulate the situation.
Luz has endured great tragedy in her life, but that hasn't made her bitter or evil or self-pitying, even though that last one in particular would be understandable; instead, she channels personal loss into political purpose. I would have liked to learn more about how Luz's personal politics developed—frankly, I would have understood if she weren't so pro-American—but Black Chamber is not that kind of book. It is an escapist spy adventure. In that genre context, Luz is having the time of her life, like many spy adventure protagonists before her (complete with her very own sidekick in the form of wide-eyed Irish American Ciara Whelan). This is Luz's perspective as she departs New York City via airship on a dangerous mission: "Luz let herself laugh in sheer pleasure. It was a marvelous age to be alive, and young, and a woman and an American."
Those who don't know their World War I-era history well may need to have their phone nearby to look up references and dates or else be comfortable with accepting Stirling's alternate history world separate from its real-world context. Personally, I like this opportunity to delve into U.S. and world history, but some readers may find the lack of context frustrating—really, this says more about one's relationship to the alternate history genre than to the book itself.
On the whole,Black Chamber is a thrilling spy adventure, a James Bond-esque tale for those who want to see the "Bond girl" take over. (Because, let's be real, they usually have the skills.) Readers who don't like superhero-like characters may take issue with just how skilled Luz is, but if you're into competence porn characters like Sherlock Holmes or Lara Croft, then this is a story and character for you. Luz is a special character, one who challenges the old-fashioned ideas not only of who gets to be a proper action adventure hero, but who gets to be part of the most iconic moments in our nation-building myths.
Hopefully, Marvel will eventually get around to making Captain America 4, and these are the villains who should give Cap a headache.
The Red Skull, Batroc the Leaper, Crossbones, Hydra, Zemo. Fans have seen film versions of some of Captain America’s greatest foes, but not all of them...not by a long shot. There are still plenty of villains left to plague Cap’s film world, villains from other dimensions and from the mists of past wars, as well as villains ripped from today’s headlines.
Here are some villains that need film time to prove to the world why Cap, the only man that can hope to stop these despots, killers, and monsters, is the greatest patriotic hero of all. Here's hoping for Captain America 4...
Ok, what would be cooler than a twenty-foot tall version of Captain America (as played by Chris Evans) messing shit up in the next Cap film? A twenty-foot tall Chris Evans?
Ameridroid makes the sacred into the profane. He's a giant robot version of America’s greatest hero controlled by the mind of a Nazi scientist. That’s right; this titanic symbol of patriotism is controlled by Nazi genius and all around d-bag Lyle Dekker. Listen, Ed Brubaker managed to make the Ameridroid work, so it isn’t as silly as it seems.
Twenty foot tall Cap! The shield is huge! Like a flying saucer! No? Okay, moving on...
Primus and Doughboy
Maybe not as a film’s main antagonists, but Primus and his shape shifting powers along with the prehensile Doughboy would make these insane androids killer soldier villains for any upcoming Captain America sequel. Primus has the ability to bend his putty-like form into anybody, which could give a film an edge of paranoia...a one man Skrull if you will.
Primus can be the primary weapon of Arnim Zola if Marvel ever decides to make Zola the A-list villain Jack Kirby created in the Bronze Age. Doughboy and Primus could combine into a powerful monstrosity, which would make life pretty miserable for Cap as he tried to bring down Zola in the modern day.
She went one on one with Carol Danvers, she’s a polymath and a criminal genius, she’s one of Captain America’s most motivated foes...she is Superia. Superia once tried to sterilize every woman on Earth so her and her crew of Femizons could be the only women left with reproductive capabilities. That’s really nasty, man.
Superia has a long career as one of the coldest blooded women in the Marvel Universe, and like the Red Skull’s daughter Sin (more on her soon), she would make a great first time cinematic lethal lady. Superia may not have enough history to make a main antagonist, but as a soldier of Sin or Baron Zemo (you know he'll be back), she could really work.
Plus, the word Femizons is just too awesome not to use in a movie.
Marvel Studios would have to be very careful with this archaic villain, but by calling him by his real name, Plan Chu, they can explore one of their greatest pre-Silver Age villains. The modern day masterpiece, Agents of Atlas, made Plan Chu work in a modern context, and by following that lead, Marvel Studios can have a historically rich villain threaten Cap’s film world.
A battle between Cap and Claw would be man out of time versus man out of time as the greatest hero of World War II would face off against the greatest threat of the Cold War. The Claw has employed ex-Nazi agents in the past and was a constant threat in Marvel’s Silver Age. With some sensitive reimaginings; the Claw could be a menacing modern day threat to Cap and company.
More Batroc is always a good thing. Considering Ze Leaper survived the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, there is no doubt going to be a fan uprising for the triumphant return of Cap’s most French (actually, he's Algerian) foe (well, at least at Den of Geek there will be).
There have been a number of iterations of Batroc’s Brigade. The first being Batroc, the Swordsman, and the Living Laser, which never made much sense since the Living Laser is more powerful than Batroc by a wide margin, but whatever the case, how cool would a film version of the Swordsman be?
The second version of Batroc’s Brigade consisted of the mustachioed savate master, Porcupine, and Whirlwind. Yeah, that’s unlikely, but Marvel putting the Porcupine on the big screen before DC got to Brainiac or Darkseid would certainly give the House of Ideas bragging rights.
Finally, the third version of the villainous team was Batroc, Zaran, and Machete, a team that made much more sense since Batroc’s losers, ahem; colleagues, were less capable than their leader. This would be awesome. Or maybe just in my own head, but it would still be awesome, je ne sais pas?
Machinesmith was once the Daredevil villain Starr Saxon until he transformed himself into a cybernetic organism. The robot-maker turned robot would be a perfect villain for the modern age. As Steve Rogers continues to learn modern technology, the one foe he would have trouble facing would be a master of machines that Steve’s anachronistic mind would have trouble wrapping his head around.
Themes of techno fear would be a perfect area for a new Cap film to explore, plus, in the comics, Machinesmith has worked for the Red Skull many times in the past so he can easily be integrated into the films. He’s the internet troll that can reach out of the computer and strangle you, and he would be a great modern challenge for Cap.
The Red Guardian
This was hinted at pretty strongly between the lines in Captain America: Civil War. The tale of Alexei Shostakov mirrors that of Steve Rogers. Hand picked by his government, Alexei became the living embodiment of his beloved country. A film that utilized the Red Guardian could ask the question what use is a patriotic hero if the country he symbolizes has fallen?
What greater challenge for Cap than a Nazi superman?
Master Man plagued the Invaders during the dark days of World War II. Along with Warrior Woman, U-Man, Brain Drain, and Sky Shark, Master Man was part of the Third Reich’s answer to the Invaders and could be a good multi-generational threat for Cap. John Byrne created a modern Master Man in the pages of Namor, the Sub-Mariner, so Marvel Studios has a few options to choose from if they go the route of Marvel’s most notorious ubermensch.
Master Man was supposed to be the first true member of Hitler’s master race until Cap and the Invaders defeated him. Could there be a Master Man in Marvel’s cinematic world, and if so, what if he somehow ended up in the contemporary world to pick up the Axis’s plan to conquer the world? Cap is at his best when combating Nazis, and Master Man is the ultimate goose stepper.
Like Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, Madame Hydra, aka, the Viper, can be another double dip character for Marvel and Fox. Of course, the Viper figured prominently in The Wolverine, but the serpentine fatale is also a leader of the modern day version of HYDRA, the evil organization founded by the Red Skull. Since pockets of HYDRA still exist in the modern world (see Avengers: Age of Ultron), it stands to reason that so does Madame Hydra.
Marvel doesn’t have to call her the Viper, but the green tressed vixen has been a major Cap foe for decades and as such deserves her time in the sun. Not many villains are evil enough for two separate franchises, but the Viper’s cunning will and deadly beauty make her adaptable enough to take on any hero, for any studio.
A remnant of the Nazi Empire, the Sleeper was the most powerful of four robots hidden by the Nazis and the Red Skull to awaken in the modern world to continue the reign of the Third Reich. Who doesn’t love giant robots? What’s more badass than giant Nazi robots? The inclusion of the Sleeper and his robotic brethren could be Marvel meets Pacific Rim with Cap and SHIELD desperately trying to stop the advance of seig-heiling mechs.
The Sleeper and the other Nazi robots were some of Jack Kirby’s coolest designs of the Silver Age, and seeing them come to life on the big screen would be old schools fans’ dream come true. Plus, the Sleeper has a deep connection to the legacy of the Red Skull which could keep the Cap versus Skull conflict going past the battlefields of World War II.
Scourge of the Underworld
Perhaps the villain featured in the fourth Captain America film could be something thematically different? In the previous films, Cap has protected the innocent from despots and would be world conquerors...what better way to put Cap’s morality to the test by having him protect the corrupt?
Scourge was a Punisher-like vigilante who killed costumed criminals. His signature catch phrase “Justice is Served,” was heard while Scourge dispatched many costumed baddies before Cap stopped his killing spree. The idea of justice versus vengeance could fuel a powerful movie as Cap tries to make sure that there is really “Justice for All” in his America by being forced to defend the villains Scourge wants dead.
Scourge stands as an antithesis to Cap, a man who does not believe in any system, just his own idea of right and wrong. This exploration in the contrasts between a killer and a protector would make for a fascinating movie.
The Secret Empire
Who doesn’t like evil subversive puppet masters? The Empire has evolved into Marvel’s go-to hooded organization of nefarious intent. The Secret Empire can play off modern conspiracy paranoia, a nightmarish version of government gone horribly wrong. In fact, it was the Secret Empire that made Steve Rogers quit being Captain America for a time (sound familiar?).
In the comics, as written by Steve Englehart, it was strongly suggested that the leader of the Empire, called Number One, was actually the President of the United States. Rogers was so disillusioned by this he shed his red-white-and blue identity and became Nomad, a man without a country. With the political divide greater than ever in the U.S., now would be a perfect time to bust out a film version of the Secret Empire to challenge modern ideas of patriotism.
The Watchdogs would be a pretty gutsy, politically charged choice for future Captain America villains, and the right wing terrorist group does play a major role in Cap history. It was the Watchdogs, fueled by racist extremism, who murdered the parents of John Walker when the hero now known as U.S. Agent was Captain America. This caused Walker to lose his already loose grip on sanity and kill the men responsible for his parents’ deaths.
Come to think of it, how great would a film adaptation of The Captain/U.S. Agent saga be? Seeing Steve Rogers shed his identity and become disillusioned with his country would have just as profound an impact on film as it did in comics, and boy, would we love to see a big screen version of Walker’s Cap. All of it fueled by the hateful, right wing Watchdogs, a group that any right thinking fan would pay to see get taken down by any version of Captain America.
The Serpent Society was a trade union of sorts for costumed villains with snake identities (which would actually be an awesome idea for DC to crib, but with gorillas). The Society, led by the teleporting Sidewinder, provided story fuel for Captain America throughout the late '80s and well into the '90s. Sidewinder is a kind of honorable villain who would be fascinating to see realized on screen.
Eventually, the Society was taken over by the Cobra, a classic Marvel villain that is also overdue for a media debut. Marvel Studios has not gone the route of a super-villain team yet, and the Society is filled to the brim with villains with interesting powers and looks that could easily fill a toy aisle. Diamondback, a beautiful and deadly member of the Squad, eventually turns on her serpentine brethren because she falls in love with Cap, a story cue that could come across great on screen.
Any Marvelite worth his salt would love to see Anaconda, Copperhead, Bushwacker, Asp, and the silent but deadly (calling Ray Park) Death Adder fully realized on screen. An all out war between Cap, SHIELD, Falcon, and perhaps the Winter Soldier versus a huge Serpent Society could really make hissssssstory. Sorry.
Flag Smasher was the anti-patriot, a perfect mirror image of Captain America’s pride in his country. Flag Smasher didn't believe in borders or symbols of national pride, he only believed in self serving anarchy, and with his likeminded cult, ULTIMATUM, Flag Smasher was one of Cap’s most persistent foes of the '80s.
ULTIMATUM was funded by the Red Skull so there’s your connection to previous films, and any bad guy that uses assault weapons and a mace is a villain we want to see prominently featured in a movie.
He might not strike the same tone as the other cinematic Cap villains, but who wouldn’t want to see Chris Evans go toe-to-ummm...forehead with MODOK? The perfect soldier versus a giant head in a floaty chair would certainly make for a compelling visual, but on a more serious note, with MODOK, Marvel would be able to continue the evolution of AIM after the death of founder Eldritch Killian in Iron Man 3.
AIM has always been second only to HYDRA as Marvel’s go-to evil organization, and by introducing their very memorable leader, Marvel could bring AIM to the forefront of evildom. The Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing would certainly be an attention getter but also offer a nice contrast to the genetically flawless Captain America, creating a man versus monster conflict for the ages.
And seriously, giant floating head, what’s not to love?
One of the few men in the Marvel Universe that is a physical match for Cap, a film appearance from the mercenary with the photographic reflexes is long overdue. How cool would a Taskmaster/Cap fight be on the silver screen with Taskmaster mimicking every one of Cap’s moves, fist versus fist, shield versus shield?
Taskmaster can come equipped with all of the Avengers signature gear like Iron Man’s repulsors, Black Widow’s stingers, and Hawkeye’s bow to become an all-in-one Avengers team to go one-on-one with Cap. Taskmaster could be played as an anti-hero or a straight out soldier villain. Either way, there would be a cleanup needed in the pants of many fans at the mere idea of seeing a film version of Taskmaster.
Communist Red Skull
A Soviet operative of the Cold War, Albert Malik took up the identity of the Red Skull to further spread the power of his Red masters. A film version of Malik would be able to replace the iconic Nazi scientist so brilliantly played by Hugo Weaving.
If Marvel doesn't want to bring Nazi Red Skull back, or Weaving doesn’t want to return, the man that carried the Skull’s legacy of evil through the '50s and '60s would be a perfect film villain. A Red Skull dedicated to bringing back the glory days of Soviet Russia could be a stark reminder to Steve Rogers of how much international turmoil he missed when he was on ice.
The Communist Skull even had a role in the modern era, as, for a time he was secretly a U.S. Senator until Cap brought him down. Like Cap, the evil of the Skull is a legacy that can be carried into future films by the commie spy, saboteur, and mastermind, Albert Malik.
Ok, he’s freakin’ Hitler. Who wouldn’t want to see Captain America kick the bratwurst out of a clone of Adolf Hitler?
All joking aside, Hate Monger is a really intense villain and one of the scariest foes Cap ever went up against. The Hate Monger has the power to force others to be filled with hatred, this on-the-nose symbolism might not be subtle, but it makes for a darn effective villain. Captain America was built to take down Hitler, and what would be more gripping than Cap versus Hitler in the modern day?
Marvel would have to tread carefully with this one, but the prospects of a film version of the Hate Monger could be one of Marvel’s most daring moves. In Captain America’s very first comic, Cap is rendered punching Hitler right in his hateful mug. This classic moment of the Golden Age could be recreated in the next Captain America movie with Steve Rogers trying to silence the hate speak of history’s most repellant villain.
If Marvel doesn't find some clever way to bring back Johann Schmidt, then the legacy of the Red Skull could live on in Sin, the daughter of Cap’s greatest foe. Sin played a major role in Ed Brubaker’s great run on Captain America, which inspired Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Sin also has a deep connection to Asgardian magic as she once captured a number of mystical hammers to fuel her neo-Nazi army. A film combining Norse mythology with the continuing conflict of Captain America and the Red Skull would be pretty cool to see. There is a great deal of evil in Sin that Marvel could farm for a future installment of Captain America, evil that could keep the name of the Red Skull alive.
The Grand Director/William Burnside
While the Grand Director sounds like something James Cameron would force his DP’s to call him, it is actually the title taken by a man who tainted the legacy of Captain America more than any of Steve Rogers’ enemies.
William Burnside was the Captain America of the 1950s, the man who took over the suit and shield when Rogers was a Capsicle. Burnside was set up with the Steve Rogers’ identity and fought the Red Menace of the '50s. Eventually, Burnside, and his Bucky, Jack Monroe, were slowly driven insane by the experimental serum in their blood. They were put in suspended animation and awoken in the modern day.
Here’s where things get dicey. Dr. Faustus brainwashed the already angry and vulnerable Burnside, and the former hero becomes the white supremacist leader the Grand Director.
Now, what could be a more effective film villain than a Cap gone wrong, a Cap so corrupted by his own inner demons and machinations of others that he adopts Nazi ideology? Burnside’s tragic story is made for film, but we’ll have to wait and see to if Marvel picks this low hanging fruit of villainy.
What could be cooler than Cap versus a Nazi vampire? Really, not a whole heck of a lot.
The legacy of the vampiric Baron Blood stretches back to World War II, so once again, Marvel could tie this bloodsucking baddie to Cap’s earliest days. Blood, like any good vampire is, of course, immortal, and can be used in the modern day to reintroduce a nightmare from Steve Rogers’ past.
Blood is one of Cap’s most vile foes, a breeding of repugnant politics and supernatural evil. He is a classic monster in every sense of the word and could serve as the de facto Dracula of the modern Marvel Cinematic Universe (because let’s face it, we’re all going to be old and grey before Marvel Studios dares to attempt anything involving Dracula).
Blood could also lead to the introduction to Cap’s fellow Invader, Union Jack, the British super-hero who has the misfortunate to be the Baron’s brother. More Golden Age heroes are always welcome, and it’s only a matter of time before vampires are introduced to Marvel’s films. But fear not, this vile vamp doesn’t sparkle.
Looking for a good fantasy read? Here are some of the best new fantasy books to be released in July 2018.
Summer, one of our four favorite seasons to read, is upon us. Here are some of the fantasy books coming out in the month of July (and a few from early August... and one from late May) that we are most looking forward to checking out. Is your most-anticpated July fantasy read on the list?
Best New Fantasy Books in July 2018
City of Lies by Sam Hawke
Type: First book in the Poison Wars series
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: July 3
I was seven years old the first time my uncle poisoned me...
Outwardly, Jovan is the lifelong friend of the Chancellor’s charming, irresponsible Heir. Quiet. Forgettable. In secret, he's a master of poisons and chemicals, trained to protect the Chancellor’s family from treachery. When the Chancellor succumbs to an unknown poison and an army lays siege to the city, Jovan and his sister Kalina must protect the Heir and save their city-state.
But treachery lurks in every corner, and the ancient spirits of the land are rising...and angry.
The Book of Hidden Things by Francesco Dimitri
Type: Standalone (for now)
Publisher: Titan Books
Release date: July 3
Four old school friends have a pact: to meet up every year in the small town in Puglia they grew up in. Art, the charismatic leader of the group and creator of the pact, insists that the agreement must remain unshakable and enduring. But this year, he never shows up.
A visit to his house increases the friends' worry; Art is farming marijuana. In Southern Italy doing that kind of thing can be very dangerous. They can't go to the Carabinieri so must make enquiries of their own. This is how they come across the rumours about Art; bizarre and unbelievable rumours that he miraculously cured the local mafia boss's daughter of terminal leukaemia. And among the chaos of his house, they find a document written by Art, The Book of Hidden Things, that promises to reveal dark secrets and wonders beyond anything previously known.
Francesco Dimitri's first novel written in English, following his career as one of the most significant fantasy writers in Italy, will entrance fans of Elena Ferrante, Neil Gaiman and Donna Tartt. Set in the beguiling and seductive landscape of Southern Italy, this story is about friendship and landscape, love and betrayal; above all it is about the nature of mystery itself.
Heroine's Journey by Sarah Kuhn
Type: Third book in the Heroine Complex series
Release date: July 3
If there's one thing Beatrice Tanaka never wanted to be, it's normal. But somehow, her life has unfolded as a series of "should haves." Her powers of emotional projection should have made her one of the most formidable superheroes of all time. And she should have been allowed to join her older sister Evie as a full-fledged protector of San Francisco, pulverizing the city's plethora of demon threats.
But Evie and her superheroing partner, Aveda Jupiter, insist on seeing Bea as the impulsive, tempestuous teenager she used to be--even though she's now a responsible adult. And that means Bea is currently living a thoroughly normal life. She works as a bookstore lackey, hangs out with best friends Sam Fujikawa and Leah Kim, and calms her workplace's more difficult customers. Sure, she's not technically supposed to be playing with people's mental states. But given the mundanity of her existence, who can blame her?
When a mysterious being starts communicating with Bea, hinting at an evil that's about to overtake the city, she seizes the opportunity, hoping to turn her "should haves" into the fabulous heroic life she's always wanted. But gaining that life may mean sacrificing everything--and everyone--she holds dear...
The Empire of Ashes by Anthony Ryan
Type: Third book in the Draconis Memoria series
Release date: July 3
For hundreds of years, the Ironship Trading Syndicate was fueled by drake blood--and protected by the Blood-blessed, those few who could drink it and wield fearsome powers. But now the very thing that sustained the corporate world threatens to destroy it.
A drake of unimaginable power has risen, and it commands an army of both beasts and men. Rogue Blood-blessed Claydon Torcreek, Syndicate agent Lizanne Lethridge, and Ironship captain Corrick Hilemore, spread to disparate corners of the world, must rely upon the new powers and knowledge they have gained at great price to halt its forces--or face the end of all they know.
European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman by Theodora Goss
Type: Second book in the Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club series
Release date: July 10
In the sequel to the critically acclaimed The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, Mary Jekyll and the rest of the daughters of literature’s mad scientists embark on a madcap adventure across Europe to rescue another monstrous girl and stop the Alchemical Society’s nefarious plans once and for all.
Mary Jekyll’s life has been peaceful since she helped Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson solve the Whitechapel Murders. Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, Justine Frankenstein, and Mary’s sister Diana Hyde have settled into the Jekyll household in London, and although they sometimes quarrel, the members of the Athena Club get along as well as any five young women with very different personalities. At least they can always rely on Mrs. Poole.
But when Mary receives a telegram that Lucinda Van Helsing has been kidnapped, the Athena Club must travel to the Austro-Hungarian Empire to rescue yet another young woman who has been subjected to horrific experimentation. Where is Lucinda, and what has Professor Van Helsing been doing to his daughter? Can Mary, Diana, Beatrice, and Justine reach her in time?
Racing against the clock to save Lucinda from certain doom, the Athena Club embarks on a madcap journey across Europe. From Paris to Vienna to Budapest, Mary and her friends must make new allies, face old enemies, and finally confront the fearsome, secretive Alchemical Society. It’s time for these monstrous gentlewomen to overcome the past and create their own destinies.
Spinning Silver: A Novel by Naomi Novik
Type: Standalone (expanded from a short story in The Starlit Wood)
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: July 10
With the Nebula Award–winning Uprooted, Naomi Novik opened a brilliant new chapter in an already acclaimed career, delving into the magic of fairy tales to craft a love story that was both timeless and utterly of the now. Spinning Silver draws readers deeper into this glittering realm of fantasy, where the boundary between wonder and terror is thinner than a breath, and safety can be stolen as quickly as a kiss.
Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father’s inability to collect his debts has left his family on the edge of poverty—until Miryem takes matters into her own hands. Hardening her heart, the young woman sets out to claim what is owed and soon gains a reputation for being able to turn silver into gold.
When an ill-advised boast draws the attention of the king of the Staryk—grim fey creatures who seem more ice than flesh—Miryem’s fate, and that of two kingdoms, will be forever altered. Set an impossible challenge by the nameless king, Miryem unwittingly spins a web that draws in a peasant girl, Wanda, and the unhappy daughter of a local lord who plots to wed his child to the dashing young tsar.
But Tsar Mirnatius is not what he seems. And the secret he hides threatens to consume the lands of humans and Staryk alike. Torn between deadly choices, Miryem and her two unlikely allies embark on a desperate quest that will take them to the limits of sacrifice, power, and love.
Channeling the vibrant heart of myth and fairy tale, Spinning Silver weaves a multilayered, magical tapestry that readers will want to return to again and again.
Deep Roots by Ruthanna Emrys
Type: Second book in the Innsmouth Legacy series
Release date: July 10
Ruthanna Emrys’ Innsmouth Legacy, which began with Winter Tide and continues with Deep Roots, confronts H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos head-on, boldly upturning his fear of the unknown with a heart-warming story of found family, acceptance, and perseverance in the face of human cruelty and the cosmic apathy of the universe. Emrys brings together a family of outsiders, bridging the gaps between the many people marginalized by the homogenizing pressure of 1940s America.
Aphra Marsh, descendant of the People of the Water, has survived Deep One internment camps and made a grudging peace with the government that destroyed her home and exterminated her people on land. Deep Rootscontinues Aphra’s journey to rebuild her life and family on land, as she tracks down long-lost relatives. She must repopulate Innsmouth or risk seeing it torn down by greedy developers, but as she searches she discovers that people have been going missing. She will have to unravel the mystery, or risk seeing her way of life slip away.
Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell
Type: First book in Spellslinger series
Release date: July 17
Kellen is moments away from facing his first duel and proving his worth as a spellcaster. There's just one problem: his magic is fading.
Facing exile unless he can pass the mage trials, Kellen is willing to risk everything - even his own life - in search of a way to restore his magic. But when the enigmatic Ferius Parfax arrives in town, she challenges him to take a different path.
One of the elusive Argosi, Ferius is a traveller who lives by her wits and the cards she carries. Daring, unpredictable, and wielding magic Kellen has never seen before, she may be his only hope.
The first novel in a compelling six-book series, bursting with tricks, humor, and a whole new way to look at magic.
The Girl in the Green Silk Gown by Seanan McGuire
Type: Second book in Ghost Roads series
Release date: July 17
For Rose Marshall, death has long since become the only life she really knows. She’s been sweet sixteen for more than sixty years, hitchhiking her way along the highways and byways of America, sometimes seen as an avenging angel, sometimes seen as a killer in her own right, but always Rose, the Phantom Prom Date, the Girl in the Green Silk Gown.
The man who killed her is still out there, thanks to a crossroads bargain that won’t let him die, and he’s looking for the one who got away. When Bobby Cross comes back into the picture, there’s going to be hell to pay—possibly literally.
Rose has worked for decades to make a place for herself in the twilight. Can she defend it, when Bobby Cross comes to take her down? Can she find a way to navigate the worlds of the living and the dead, and make it home before her hitchhiker’s luck runs out? There’s only one way to know for sure.
The Descent of Monsters by JY Yang
Type: Third book in Tensorate series
Release date: July 31
Something terrible happened at the Rewar Teng Institute of Experimental Methods. When the Tensorate’s investigators arrived, they found a sea of blood and bones as far as the eye could see. One of the institute’s experiments got loose, and its rage left no survivors. The investigators returned to the capital with few clues and two prisoners: the terrorist leader Sanao Akeha and a companion known only as Rider.
Investigator Chuwan faces a puzzle. What really happened at the institute? What drew the Machinists there? What are her superiors trying to cover up? And why does she feel as if her strange dreams are forcing her down a narrowing path she cannot escape?
Best New Fantasy Books in June 2018
Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Type: Hardcover repackage of the first book in the (so, so good) Villians series
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: May 29
Victor and Eli started out as college roommates―brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.
Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find―aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge―but who will be left alive at the end?
In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn't automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.
Brief Cases by Jim Butcher
Type: Short stories from the Dresden Files series
Release date: June 5
The world of Harry Dresden, Chicago's only professional wizard, is rife with intrigue--and creatures of all supernatural stripes. And you'll make their intimate acquaintance as Harry delves into the dark side of truth, justice, and the American way in this must-have short story collection.
From the Wild West to the bleachers at Wrigley Field, humans, zombies, incubi, and even fey royalty appear, ready to blur the line between friend and foe. In the never-before-published "Zoo Day," Harry treads new ground as a dad, while fan-favorite characters Molly Carpenter, his onetime apprentice, White Council Warden Anastasia Luccio, and even Bigfoot stalk through the pages of more classic tales.
With twelve stories in all, Brief Cases offers both longtime fans and first-time readers tantalizing glimpses into Harry's funny, gritty, and unforgettable realm, whetting their appetites for more to come from the wizard with a heart of gold.
The Memory of Fire by Callie Bates
Type: Second book in Waking Land series
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: June 5
Thanks to the magic of Elanna Valtai and the Paladisan noble Jahan Korakides, the lands once controlled by the empire of Paladis have won their independence. But as Elanna exhausts her powers restoring the ravaged land, news that the emperor is readying an invasion spurs Jahan on a desperate mission to establish peace.
Going back to Paladis proves to be anything but peaceful, however. As magic is a crime in the empire, punishable by death, Jahan must hide his abilities. Nonetheless, the grand inquisitor’s hunters suspect him of sorcery, and mysterious, urgent messages from the witch who secretly trained Jahan only increase his danger of exposure. Worst of all, the crown prince has turned his back on Jahan, robbing him of the royal protection he once enjoyed.
As word of Jahan’s return spreads, long-sheathed knives, sharp and deadly, are drawn again. And when Elanna, stripped of her magic, is brought to the capital in chains, Jahan must face down the traumas of his past to defeat the shadowy enemies threatening his true love’s life, and the future of the revolution itself.
The Traitor God by Cameron Johnston
Type: First in a trilogy
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release date: June 5
After ten years on the run, dodging daemons and debt, reviled magician Edrin Walker returns home to avenge the brutal murder of his friend. Lynas had uncovered a terrible secret, something that threatened to devour the entire city. He tried to warn the Arcanum, the sorcerers who rule the city. He failed. Lynas was skinned alive and Walker felt every cut. Now nothing will stop him from finding the murderer. Magi, mortals, daemons, and even the gods – Walker will burn them all if he has to. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time he’s killed a god...
A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir
Type: Third book in the An Ember in the Ashes series
Release date: June 12
Beyond the Martial Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.
Helene Aquilla, the Blood Shrike, is desperate to protect her sister's life and the lives of everyone in the Empire. But she knows that danger lurks on all sides: Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable and violent, while Keris Veturia, the ruthless Commandant, capitalizes on the Emperor's volatility to grow her own power--regardless of the carnage she leaves in her path.
Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. But in the hunt to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would help her, and is drawn into a battle she never thought she'd have to fight.
And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. But in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that demands his complete surrender--even if that means abandoning the woman he loves.
Starless by Jacqueline Carey
Type: Standalone (so far)
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: June 12
I was nine years old the first time I tried to kill a man...
Destined from birth to serve as protector of the princess Zariya, Khai is trained in the arts of killing and stealth by a warrior sect in the deep desert; yet there is one profound truth that has been withheld from him.
In the court of the Sun-Blessed, Khai must learn to navigate deadly intrigue and his own conflicted identity…but in the far reaches of the western seas, the dark god Miasmus is rising, intent on nothing less than wholesale destruction.
If Khai is to keep his soul’s twin Zariya alive, their only hope lies with an unlikely crew of prophecy-seekers on a journey that will take them farther beneath the starless skies than anyone can imagine.
Witchmark by C.L. Polk
Type: Standalone (so far)
Release date: June 19
In an original world reminiscent of Edwardian England in the shadow of a World War, cabals of noble families use their unique magical gifts to control the fates of nations, while one young man seeks only to live a life of his own.
Magic marked Miles Singer for suffering the day he was born, doomed either to be enslaved to his family's interest or to be committed to a witches' asylum. He went to war to escape his destiny and came home a different man, but he couldn’t leave his past behind. The war between Aeland and Laneer leaves men changed, strangers to their friends and family, but even after faking his own death and reinventing himself as a doctor at a cash-strapped veterans' hospital, Miles can’t hide what he truly is.
When a fatally poisoned patient exposes Miles’ healing gift and his witchmark, he must put his anonymity and freedom at risk to investigate his patient’s murder. To find the truth he’ll need to rely on the family he despises, and on the kindness of the most gorgeous man he’s ever seen.
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhoarse
Type: First book in the Sixth World series
Publisher: Saga Press
Release date: June 26
While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters.
Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last best hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much more terrifying than anything she could imagine.
Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel the rez, unraveling clues from ancient legends, trading favors with tricksters, and battling dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology.
As Maggie discovers the truth behind the killings, she will have to confront her past if she wants to survive.
Welcome to the Sixth World.
Which fantasy books are you most looking forward to checking out in July? Let us know in the comments below or in our Den of Geek Book Club on Goodreads.