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    With one magic word...we track down every DC Universe easter egg and reference in the Shazam movie trailer!

    Feature Mike Cecchini
    Jul 22, 2018

    San Diego Comic-Con brought us perhaps the best assortment of trailers in recent memory. Warner Bros. has restored fans' faith in their DC superhero movies with a gorgeous Aquaman trailer, and an incredibly fun look at Shazam, starring Zachary Levi and from director David Sandberg.

    In case you haven't seen it yet, check it out...

    This is remarkably faithful to the spirit of the character, and is based heavily on one interpretation in particular (right down to the Philadelphia setting...sorry Fawcett City fans).

    So let's get right down to it, and start looking for every DCEU reference and easter egg in the Shazamtrailer!

    We open on Asher Angel as Billy Batson. Like his comic book counterpart, big screen Billy is fond of wearing a red top, although the old ringer sweater of the comics has been replaced by a beat up hoodie.

    Billy has always been portrayed as an orphan, from the earliest days of the comics. But it wasn't until Geoff Johns and Gary Frank took on the Shazam mythos that they showed him dealing with life being shuffled from foster home to foster home. This sequence with him and a social worker mirrors one from that story.

    Jack Dylan Grazer is playing Freddy Freeman, Billy's best friend. Again, this draws more from the recent Johns/Frank interpretation of the comics than anything else. In the past, while Freddy was also an orphan, he and Billy didn't get to know each other until well into Billy's superheroic career.

    Freddy, of course, has a heroic future of his own. At least in the comics. 

    Here's the rest of the family. Right there in the middle is Grace Fulton as Mary. Comic fans know why this is a big deal.

    Kind of obscured here are Ian Chen as Eugene and Jovan Armand as Pedro. These are also characters who made their debut in the Johns/Frank comics.

    It would appear that Freddy is a bit of a superhero enthusiast, which makes me this actually a nerdy pursuit in the world of the DCEU? Or is it just the equivalent of liking sports in "our" world?

    Can anyone make out the title and author of that book? I am too tired.

    Instead of a comic book collection, Freddy collects superhero newspaper clippings, and he appears to be a big Superman fan (note his love of "flight" later in the trailer. 

    What's neat about these clippings is that they seem to trace Superman's arc from Man of Steel through Justice League.

    Billy has no time for bullies, which is one of the reasons he's considered pure enough of heart to... taken on a magical subway ride.

    Those symbols? Those are no accident, and a great classic comics reference.

    In the very first Shazam story, in 1939's Whiz Comics #2, Billy was whisked away in a mysterious subway car with magical rune markings on it. The "next stop" sign being similar to these is a really nice touch.

    The ancient wizard, in his throne room on the Rock of Eternity. This is also a pretty faithful, but modernized version of the 1939 origin story.

    Here, the wizard is a black man (played by Djimon Hounsou), another touch adapted from the Johns/Frank comics. 

    Generally speaking, the wizard is a superheroic champion of ancient times, and here he is passing his powers on to Billy Batson. Oh, and the name "Shazam?" Saying it grants Billy the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury.

    Zachary Levi perfectly nails that moment of a kid realizing that he's in an adult body...especially a jacked one.

    See the hood and the glowing lightning bolt? These are touches from the (you guessed it) Geoff Johns and Gary Frank comics.

    So is...

    ...the idea that he kind of radiates magical/electrical energy.

    The fact that Freddy is wearing blue here and that he seems to have some connection to the magic of Shazam should come as no surprise to anyone who knows the comics. (Have I beaten this tease to death/into the ground yet?)

    You know what I love about this dopey flight test scene? How practical it looks. It looks to me like they're hoisting Levi (or a stuntman) up on wires (which are not visible), and that just feels like such a relief after every flying hero being turned into a CGI missile or whatever it is they do.

    It also kind of reminds me of the flying sequences from the old Shazam movie serial, The Adventures of Captain Marvel, which were brilliant for 1941, and were accomplished with a dummy on a zipline. That serial is one of the best of its kind, and I really need to get around to writing about it in depth on here.

    No, Mark Strong is not playing Lex Luthor. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, our magically powered villain of the movie, and historically, Shazam's greatest enemy from the comics.

    In the old comics, Sivana was just a mad scientist. Giving him magical powers so he can go toe to toe with our hero is (go on, guess) something from the Geoff Johns and Gary Frank comic.

    See that weird, dentist-ass looking shirt he's wearing as his bottom layer there? That might be kind of a nod to his original comic book appearance... is the Christmas setting of the movie, too. This is just a really cool shot.

    Billy and Freddy scarfing on junk food because, well, because they can, is right out of the comics, too. It really looks like they nailed the tone of this movie.

    Shazam opens on April 5, 2019.

    Read the Den of Geek SDCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine Here!

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    Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald's trailer featured, Nicolas Flamel, a Harry Potter character reveal VERY long in the making.

    Feature Alec Bojalad
    Jul 22, 2018

    The Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald San Diego Comic-Con 2018 trailer concluded with a very special, unexpected guest: Nicolas Flamel.

    No-Maj (a.k.a. Muggle) Jacbo Kowalski meets a very, very old man and shakes his hand, nearly breaking it. 

    "Are you a ghost?" Jacob asks.

    "No. I'm alive. But an alchemist and therefore immortal. Nicolas Flamel."

    Cool! Who is Nicolas Flamel? In short, Flamel is a fairly important piece of the Harry Potter canon who until this moment has never appeared in the flesh. 

    Grab a time-turner and head back with us to 1997. The first Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, has just come out in the U.K. It will soon arrive in the U.S. under the name Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (because Scholastic knows Americans think Sorcerers are more rad than Philosophers).

    Read the Den of Geek SDCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine Here!

    Understandably one of the biggest mysteries of that first book is what is the Philosopher's/Sorcerer's Stone? And who is the Philosopher/Sorcerer who created it? As Harry discovers from the back of his Dumbledore chocolate frog card, Nicolas Flamel created the Sorcerer's Stone. Then with the help of some Hermione Granger book reading they discover that the Stone is a magical artifact that can produce the elixir of life, prolonging the life of whoever drinks it indefinitely. 

    Nicolas Flamel was actually a real-life figure. He was a successful French scribe in the 15 century. According to texts two centuries after his death, he had succeeded in the alchemical arts of creating the Philosopher's Stone and turning metals into gold.

    In the context of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, a broken-down Voldemort seeks the stone to extend his life. After he is defeated, Dumbledore informs Harry that he and Flamel have come to the decision to destroy the Stone. That means that despite technically lending his name to the very first Harry Potter book's title, Flamel not only doesn't appear in it or any other book in the series but also dies "offscreen" sometime after Harry's first year.

    Fantastic Beats being a prequel series though allows for all sorts of long-dead characters to return and the Comic-Con trailer confirms that Flamel (who is played by Brontis Jodorowsky) will be making his official Potterdebut. What could he be up to? Well, Dumbledore has set Newt Scamander on a very important mission. Dumbledore also maintains a close relationship with Flamel. Surely a powerful alchemist will have some kind of tool to help Newt take down his era's most powerful dark wizard.

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    We break down and analyze the Aquaman SDCC trailer scene by scene, and here's everything we've learned!

    Feature Jim Dandy
    Jul 22, 2018

    The surprise breakout character from 2017's Justice Leaguehad to be Jason Momoa's Aquaman. He's the next up for his own solo movie, and with its trailer dropping at San Diego Comic Con, we dug through it for all the clues, hints and references we could find.

    Throughout the trailer, we can see that it's a vast departure from most previous DCEU movies other than Wonder Woman, focusing on bright colors and a high adventure tone. We wrote in detail about what went into the making of this movie right here.

    The trailer starts by cementing Aquaman's origin. Arthur Curry has been since the Silver Age the half-human, half-Atlantean son of New England lighthouse keeper Tom Curry and Atlantean Queen Atlanna (Atlanna wasn't a queen until the New 52 reboot, but whatever).

     Here we see Nicole Kidman's Atlanna holding a baby Arthur presumably with his father.

    When he was originally created by Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris in 1941, he could only talk with fish. It wasn't until the silver age that his power evolved into being able to telepathically communicate with them. It comes in handy at aquariums full of bullies, as we saw in the trailer.

    The yellow eyes when he uses his power thing is new to me. I haven't seen that before. But what's really cool is that if you listen closely, you can here the trademark "vuu-vuu-vuu-vuu" sound made famous by his animated adventures on shows like Super Friends.

    This, however, is a fairly classic Aquaman image construction. Arthur surrounded by a mob of angry fish ready to attack.

    Movie Arthur seems like the kind of guy who would burst unwelcome into a submarine while blasting "I'm On A Boat" from a waterproof speaker.

    Amber Heard's Mera looks pretty much straight out of the comics, right down to using digital coloring on her hair :hisses:.

    Mera was created in the '60s as Arthur's eventual wife. She was originally the queen of the Atlantean Phantom Zone, but her origin (and place of birth) has shifted slightly multiple times since, and now she's just the former queen of an area that housed the worst criminals from Atlantis. She is hydrokinetic - she's basically a waterbender, but the most badass one in existence.

    Patrick Wilson plays Orm Marius, Aquaman's half brother and regular pretender to the throne of Atlantis. Ocean Master was also created in the early '60s. Over the years, he's moved from technology user to magic wielder to "extremely strong even for an Atlantean," and it looks like we might get some of that in this moviel

    Hey, a trident! As we're sure you know (since you are using the internet to access this article, and therefore are a person who has been on the internet), Aquaman's artifact in Justice League was actually a...pentadent? It had 5 prongs. This one is not that stabby fork thingy!

    The Geoff Johns influence in this trailer is strong, and that appears to be an ancient, original king of Atlantis, and he's wielding the classic trident here. That story appeared in Geoff Johns and Paul Pelletier's "Death of a King" story.

    More like this please. Atlantis isn't real so its construction should only be limited by imagination. It feels like James Wan, the director, got that and is rolling with it.

    There's that damn pentadent again. It looks like this is a face off between Arthur and Orm, and Arthur is I think holding the five prong fork, while Orm has the three pronged one. 

    Protip: This doesn't actually work. At least with swords.

    There's a lot going on here, not the least of which is this incredible The Perfect Stormlooking shot.

    The swarm following the red light is The Trench, a race of Atlanteans who, when Atlantis was sunk, fell into a deep trench in the ocean and adapted their bodies and their society to fit in. They are...monstrous, and they're not pleasant.

    We have exclusive details on The Trench and why they were included in the movie right here.


    Black Manta (who looks incredible by the way) is played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and I hope he's as menacing and important in the movie as he is in the trailer. Manta was created in the late '60s by Haney and Nick Cardey. He is mainly just a regular person in an insane battle suit with a grudge against Aquaman.

    That's it from the trailer. For more on Aquamanbe sure to check out Den of Geek Magazine, or stick with us here on the web!

    Read the Den of Geek SDCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine Here!

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    Nicole Maines is joining Supergirl season 4 and will play the first transgender superhero on television, Dreamer.

    News Jim DandyJohn Saavedra
    Jul 22, 2018

    The cast and crew of Supergirlrevealed a new addition to the cast at their panel at SDCC. Nicole Maines (Royal Pains, The Trans List) will be joining CatCo in season 4 of the show as Nia Nal, also known as Dreamer, the first transgender superhero on television. From her description, it sounds like she'll be following a similar path to Kara on the show - she has a strong sense of right and wrong and a drive to use her abilities to protect others. What those abilities are remains to be seen, but they may very well involve precognitive abilities if her comic book inspiration is anything to go by...

    If the name Nia Nal sounds familiar, it's because she is the ancestor of Nura Nal, the comic book character you might know best as Dream Girl, a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Although Nura was introduced in the pages of Adventure Comics #317 in 1964 as Dream Girl, the character was also briefly known as Dreamer in the '90s. With the Legion introduced in season 2, it's no surprise that Supergirl is continuing to bring in more members of the team. 

    CBR also pointed out that the Legion of Super-Heroes comic also introduced a transgender character in 1992 in the form of the scientist Shvaughn Erin, Element Lad's romantic interest, who took a drug to changer her sex from male to female. It's great to see this same kind of inclusion reaching an already diverse series like Supergirl

    Maines was featured in the HBO documentary The Trans Listand was the plaintiff in the lawsuit against the state of Maine that allowed transgender people to use the bathroom they chose. She also did a guest stint on Royal Pains.

    For more on Supergirl season 4 or the Forever People or why Giffen/DiDio OMACis the best New 52 book, stick with Den of Geek!

    Read the Den of Geek SDCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine Here!

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    The tonal shift to slapstick ultraviolence could be jarring as Lobo arrives to Krypton season 2.

    News Jim Dandy
    Jul 22, 2018

    Krypton,the surprise hit DC show at Syfy, showed off plans for season 2 at San Diego Comic-Con, and they include an interesting main villain for the show. "Main." Get it?

    The season-long big bad will be the Main Man himself, Lobo. Lobo was created by Keith Giffen and Roger Slifer in the pages of Omega Men back in 1983. The character made the move from generic to a parody of '90s comics, thanks to the work of Giffen, Alan Grant, and Simon Bisley in Lobo: The Last Czarnian.

    Lobo is the last of his race, the Czarnians, who murdered all of his fellow Czarnians mostly for the hell of it. He has at various times been contracted to kill Santa Claus, all of his children, criminals (as a resurrected cyborg, Lobocop), and to find a murderer hiding in a planet-sized brothel by pleasing all of the women there until he can complete his mission. His presence on Kryptonshould be a subdued affair.

    (Seriously, Lobo only works when you play him as absurd, extremely violent slapstick, which is why last year's Lobo/Road Runnerspecial was an extremely effective comic. It was overshadowed by Batman/Elmer Fudd, but Lobo and Wile E. Coyote's team-up was good enough to justify the entire crossover.)

    Also joining the cast of Kryptonare Nightwing and Flamebird. They are two constantly resurrecting Kryptonian gods who have inspired a number of super-teams in Krypton's history, and the story about them that Superman tells a young Dick Grayson inspires his eventual name change in one of my favorite pieces of continuity from the DC Universe. 

    For more on Krypton, or anything else at San Diego Comic-Con, stick with Den of Geek!

    Read the Den of Geek SDCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine Here!

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  • 07/22/18--11:19: Eisner Award Winners 2018
  • Liu is the first woman to win Best Writer at the Eisner Awards, plus much more!

    NewsJim Dandy
    Jul 22, 2018

    Marjorie Liu became the first woman to ever win the Best Writer Eisner Award at 2018's ceremony, held Friday night at San Diego Comic-Con. Liu created Monstress,a fantasy tale about race, class, slavery, and giant tentacle monsters, with Sana Takeda on art. The book took home five total Eisners at the ceremony: Best Writer, Best Painter/Multimedia Artist, Best Cover Artist, Best Continuing Series, and Best Publication for Teens (13-17).

    The other big winner of the night was Emil Ferris, writer and artist on My Favorite Thing Is Monsters.The staggering debut comic from Fantagraphics gave Ferris three Eisners - Best New Graphic Album, Best Writer/Artist, and Best Coloring.

    Sharing the Best Writer award with Liu was Tom King, writer of Batman, Mister Miracle, and Batman/Elmer Fudd Special, a sentence no one in their right mind expected to say on stage at an award show. Mister Miraclealso gave penciler/inker Mitch Gerads his first.

    The sole controversy of the night was the failure of Den of Geek to secure a write-in win for Best Comics Publication. The winner of that category, The Comics Journal, successfully blocked our grassroots campaign for victory by pointing out that there is no option to write in nominees who are not on the ballot. The Establishment can stand in our way for only so long, though, so expect a landslide victory for Den of Geek next year as a reward for successfully choosing at least two of this year's winners.

    Congratulations to all of the honorees! For a complete list of Eisner winners, keep scrolling. For more from the CONTINUALLY JOBBED geniuses at Den of Geek, stick with...shit. Uh...keep reading, true believers!

    2018 Eisner Award Winners

    Best Short Story: ”A Life in Comics: The Graphic Adventures of Karen Green,” by Nick Sousanis, in Columbia Magazine (Summer 2017)

    Best Single Issue/One-Shot:Hellboy: Krampusnacht, by Mike Mignola and Adam Hughes (Dark Horse)

    Best Continuing Series:Monstress, by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda (Image)

    Best Limited Series: Black Panther: World of Wakanda, by Roxane Gay, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Alitha E. Martinez (Marvel)

    Best New Series:Black Bolt, by Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward (Marvel)

    Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 8):Good Night, Planet, by Liniers (Toon Books)

    Best Publication for Kids (ages 9–12):The Tea Dragon Society, by Katie O’Neill (Oni)

    Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17):Monstress, by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda (Image)

    Best Humor Publication:Baking with Kafka, by Tom Gauld (Drawn & Quarterly)

    Best Anthology:Elements: Fire, A Comic Anthology by Creators of Color, edited by Taneka Stotts (Beyond Press)

    Best Reality-Based Work:Spinning, by Tillie Walden (First Second)

    Best Graphic Album—New:My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, by Emil Ferris (Fantagraphics)

    Best Graphic Album—Reprint:Boundless, by Jillian Tamaki (Drawn & Quarterly)

    Best Adaptation from Another Medium:Kindred, by Octavia Butler, adapted by Damian Duffy and John Jennings (Abrams ComicArts)

    Best U.S. Edition of International Material:Run for It: Stories of Slaves Who Fought for the Freedom, by Marcelo D’Salete, translated by Andrea Rosenberg (Fantagraphics)

    Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia: My Brother’s Husband, vol. 1, by Gengoroh Tagame, translated by Anne Ishii (Pantheon)

    Best Archival Collection/Project—Strips: Celebrating Snoopy, by Charles M. Schulz, edited by Alexis E. Fajardo and Dorothy O’Brien (Andrews McMeel)

    Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Books:Akira 35th Anniversary Edition, by Katsuhiro Otomo, edited by Haruko Hashimoto, Ajani Oloye, and Lauren Scanlan (Kodansha)

    Best Writer: Tom King, Batman, Batman Annual #2, Batman/Elmer Fudd Special #1, Mister Miracle (DC) AND Marjorie Liu, Monstress (Image)

    Best Writer/Artist: Emil Ferris, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters (Fantagraphics)

    Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team: Mitch Gerads, Mister Miracle (DC)

    Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art): Sana Takeda, Monstress (Image)

    Best Cover Artist: Sana Takeda, Monstress (Image)

    Best Coloring: Emil Ferris, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters (Fantagraphics)

    Best Lettering: Stan Sakai, Usagi Yojimbo, Groo: Slay of the Gods (Dark Horse)

    Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism: “The Comics Journal,” edited by Dan Nadel, Timothy Hodler, and Tucker Stone, (Fantagraphics)

    Best Comics-Related Book:How to Read Nancy: The Elements of Comics in Three Easy Panels, by Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden (Fantagraphics)

    Best Academic/Scholarly Work: Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics, by Frederick Luis Aldama (University of Arizona Press)

    Best Publication Design: Akira 35th Anniversary Edition, designed by Phil Balsman, Akira Saito (Veia), NORMA Editorial, and MASH•ROOM (Kodansha)

    Best Digital Comic: Harvey Kurtzman’s Marley’s Ghost, by Harvey Kurtzman, Josh O’Neill, Shannon Wheeler, and Gideon Kendall (comiXology Originals/Kitchen, Lind & Associates)

    Best Webcomic: The Tea Dragon Society, by Katie O’Neill, (Oni Press)

    Hall of Fame:

    Judges’ Choices: Carol Kalish, Jackie Ormes

    Voters’ Choices: Charles Addams, Karen Berger, Dave Gibbons, Rumiko Takahashi

    Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award: Frederick Joseph; Comics4Kids

    Bill Finger Excellence in Comic Book Writing Award: Joye Murchison Kelly; Dorothy Woolfolk

    Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award: Hamish Steele (writer/artist, Pantheon), Pablo Tunica (artist, TMNT Universe)

    Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award: Norma Comics, Barcelona, Spain

    Read the Den of Geek SDCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine Here!

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    Eradikus was just a placeholder name, it seems. Meet The Griever, the Fantastic Four's newest villain!

    NewsJim Dandy
    Jul 22, 2018

    At Marvel's Next Big Thing panel at SDCC, new Fantastic Fourwriter Dan Slott and Marvel Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski revealed the first villain the team is going to face upon their return.

    Mister Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, and the kids of the Future Foundation have been missing since the end of 2015's Secret Wars,presumably offexploring the multiverse that they created from the mind of Franklin Richards. Meanwhile, the Thing and the Human Torch remained on the new 616 Earth adventuring with the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Inhumans, and eventually exploring the multiverse with Doctor Doom to try and find Reed and Sue in the amazing Marvel Two-in-One by Chip Zdarsky and Jim Cheung.

    Reed and Sue return in the new book, apparently separated from the children and trying to find them while battling the above villain. Sara Pichelli designed her and named her "Eradikus" as a placeholder, but according to Slott and Cebulski, her name is actually The Griever and she has some standing within the greater Marvel cosmology.

    It's...probably not a great sign that the kids are missing and the team is fighting someone called "The Griever." If she's somehow tied into the larger set of Marvel cosmic beings - a sibling of the Collector and the Grandmaster perhaps? - she could spell real trouble for Franklin or Val (probably Val).

    Fantastic Four #1 arrives on Aug. 8 from Dan Slott and Sara Pichelli. 

    For more on Fantastic Four, stick with Den of Geek!

    Read the Den of Geek SDCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine Here!

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    With Riot showing up in the Venom film, we look at the life of the obscure symbiote and his siblings Scream, Phage, Lasher, and Agony.

    Feature Gavin Jasper
    Jul 22, 2018

    We’re only months away from the Venommovie and San Diego Comic-Con confirmed that we’re definitely getting the symbiote Riot as at least one of the villains. In fact, there’s a good chance we might be getting more, if not all, of the Life Foundation symbiotes. Michelle Lee, for example, has been on the IMDB cast page as Donna Diego (the symbiote known as Scream) for about a year. 

    Who are all of these symbiotes? They certainly aren’t as well-known as Venom’s go-to symbiote rival, Carnage.

    To explain the likes of Riot, Scream, Lasher, Phage, and Agony, you have to go back to the early '90s when Venom was starting to get a little too popular. He was a big seller as a Spider-Man villain, and Marvel was starting to flirt with the idea of doing more with him. A couple What If issues suggested the idea of using him as a violent anti-hero. He also teamed up with Spider-Man when Carnage first showed up, and there was even a backup story at some point that showed that in-between getting the symbiote and deciding to go kill Spider-Man, Eddie Brock actually used his powers to help save someone.

    David Michelinie, Venom’s co-creator, was writing Amazing Spider-Man at the time and did a two-parter based on 1) making Eddie Brock more sympathetic, and 2) getting him to ease off Spider-Man and accept that maybe Peter Parker isn’t the worst person ever. After all, other than being ultra-violent, Venom’s only real villainous MO was trying to kill Spider-Man. Without that vendetta, he wasn’t going to go rob banks or try to take over the world.

    In 1993, we got the six-issue miniseries Venom: Lethal Protector by Michelinie, Mark Bagley, and Ron Lim. It turned out to be the first arc in a five-year run of Venom stories. Michelinie was either too busy to write the series regularly or just wasn’t interested. He still did Lethal Protectoras a fantastic starting point, introducing ideas that were, unfortunately, mostly dropped and quickly phased out. He had Eddie Brock move to San Francisco and find a new role as the protector of a secret, underground society of homeless people. He introduced Eddie’s vindictive millionaire father. He even introduced the Jury, a team of armored former Vault guards who were out to get revenge on Venom for killing their friend.

    While Venom’s main villain in the story was Roland Treece (who will be played by Scott Haze in the movie), he took a detour when he was captured by the Life Foundation. An interesting idea from Michelinie’s Spider-Man run that only lasted a few years, the Life Foundation was a shadow organization that used mad science to evolve mankind in order to endure an apocalyptic event. The perfect combination of low ethics, high resources, and lots of potential for science gone wrong.

    The Life Foundation was run by Carlton Drake (played by Riz Ahmed in the movie) and his bright idea was to forcibly remove the seeds in the Venom costume to create five more symbiotes. Those symbiotes would be bonded to five Life Foundation grunts and the organization would be one step closer to success. While they were mostly cool designs, these symbiotes were little more than that. They didn’t get codenames or host names until well after the fact and the hosts didn’t even get any identifiable traits.

    Hell, only two of them even got lines. Scream (female, red and yellow), the most iconic of the group, got to fight Spider-Man one-on-one. Phage (male, brownish yellow) battled with Venom briefly. They got to talk during those fights, but otherwise, the Life Foundation goons kept it quiet while they took on our heroes five-on-two.

    Finally, Venom used a big ass sonic ray on them, which turned the symbiotes into compost and revealed that the Life Foundation, unlike Eddie, had the budget for underwear. Seriously, if your pants are made of liquid and are sentient enough that they can leave at a moment’s notice, invest in some briefs. Seeing Venom’s tongue flapping around is enough as is.

    Anyway, Drake escaped and blew up the headquarters, seemingly meaning the whole Symbiote 5 threat was permanently off the table. That turned out to not be the case. As for Drake, he appeared in one more story before falling into complete obscurity.

    From the end of 1994 into the beginning of 1995, Howard Mackie and Rod Randall did a four-part Venom story called Venom: Separation Anxiety. It followed a storyline in the main Spider-Man books where the Scarlet Spider first showed up. The idea was that since Spider-Man was always shown to be physically inferior to Venom in a straight-up fight – usually surviving due to luck or thinking outside the box – Marvel would establish Scarlet Spider as a big deal by having him straight-up kick Venom’s ass. Meanwhile, Scream showed up a couple times to plead for Venom’s help, only to get into their share of brawls because nobody in comics can have a civil conversation.

    After the scrap with Scarlet Spider, Eddie was in custody and was separated from the symbiote. No longer influenced/controlled, he had time to reflect and realized that the symbiote made him a monster. He was then kidnapped by the Life Foundation symbiotes. The five not only survived and retained their symbiotes from the previous adventure, but they also left the Life Foundation behind.

    Yes, that's exactly the state of dress you want to be in with shards of glass flying around. Now I know why they call this story Separation Anxiety.

    This comic started gave the hosts first names, but the creative team couldn’t keep things straight and it became confusing since Phage was referred to as both Carl and Ramon. In a world where D-list comic characters are given profiles in who’s who Marvel books, the following names were established:

    - Scream: Donna Diego
    - Phage: Carl Mach
    - Lasher (male, green with tentacles): Ramon Hernandez
    - Agony (female, purple and black): Leslie Gesneria
    - Riot (male, grayish black): Trevor Cole

    The hosts wanted Eddie’s help in communicating with their symbiotes. Since Eddie was on a very anti-symbiote kick at the time, he outright refused. Then one-by-one, the captors started getting picked off via a sonic knife. Eddie was the red herring, but it turned out to be Scream’s doing. She'd been insane for years and having the symbiote made the voices in her head even worse.

    Venom survived, of course, but Carl, Ramon, Leslie, and Trevor weren’t so lucky.

    In late 1995, Acclaim released a video game for SNES and Genesis called Venom/Spider-Man: Separation Anxiety. Despite its title, it was actually based on the Lethal Protector storyline, as it not only featured the new symbiotes, but also the Jury and some giant demolition robots from that arc. It was also an inferior sequel to the game Maximum Carnage, which was pretty funny since Lethal Protector’s storyline happened first.

    The funniest part of the whole game was that even though it was Lethal Protector, the final boss was Carnage for absolutely no reason other than the fact that Acclaim still had the sprite assets around from the previous game. There was no setup for his appearance in the game (not counting his appearance on the box cover) and even the ending was nothing more than a still of Carnage with “GAME COMPLETE” over it followed by the credits. Fingers crossed that the movie does better than that.

    Even though the comics killed off the Life Foundation hosts, the symbiotes were survived and became prisoners of the government. That led to the creation of Hybrid, an obscure hero who mostly existed in backup stories in Venom’s '90s comics. The idea was that Scott Washington, an established Vault prison guard who first appeared in New Warriors, saw the symbiotes being tortured and felt bad for them. He helped them escape and got fired for it. Then he was crippled due to unrelated gang violence. The symbiotes tracked him down and bonded with him, fixing his spine.

    The hook was that Scott was super pissed and wanted bloody vengeance while the four symbiotes were all, “What? No! We come in peace!” He eventually chilled out and dedicated himself to wiping out crime in his neighborhood. After two backup arcs, he wouldn’t show up in comics for another 15 years or so.

    As for Scream, she made her return in 1996’s Venom: The Hunted by Larry Hama and Duncan Rouleau. The three-issue story was amazing and ridiculous and featured Eddie Brock earning money by using his powers to succeed at extreme skateboarding under the name Rad Eddie. This took place after Planet of the Symbiotes, in which Venom, Spider-Man, and Scarlet Spider teamed up to stop a full-on invasion of Venom’s kind. As Huntedrevealed, some symbiotes remained on Earth and Scream was helping the hosts deal.

    Unfortunately for her, there was an alien creature called the Xenophage going around that fed on symbiotes. So Scream’s new friends didn’t last so long. This whole mess concluded with Venom and Scream fighting the Xenophage on a subway train and blowing its head up. Scream came off as more heroic in this story and popped up again shortly after in the incomprehensible Venom/Wolverine team-up Venom: Tooth and Claw. Last seen, Scream was trying to use the Xenophage’s ship to search for other symbiote hosts. Like with Hybrid, that would be her last appearance for about 15 years.

    Not her last appearance in general, though. In 1999, the theme park Universal Islands of Adventure opened up with the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. This ride, which takes your usual theme park dark ride and merges it with 3D technology and other tricks to make an incredibly immersive comic book adventure, features a story where Spider-Man has to save the riders from the Sinister Syndicate. Led by Doctor Octopus, the team has stolen the Statue of Liberty via an anti-gravity gun. Ock’s team includes Hydroman, Electro, Hobgoblin, and Scream.

    I guess they were really, really hard-pressed to come up with a Spider-Man villainess. Scream remains part of that ride to this day, meaning Univeral’s been playing the long game on relevancy. Meanwhile, Venom has absolutely zero representation in any of Universal’s rides, but damn if his merch isn't all over that gift shop.

    In 2012, we finally got some follow-up to the Venom spawn. Over the years, Eddie had lost the Venom symbiote, became powered by some kind of nega-cancer symbiote-like organism under the name Anti-Venom, then gave up those powers to save New York City. Powerless, Eddie became erratic and obsessed with wiping out the entire symbiote species, all while Flash Thompson wore his black-and-white hand-me-downs as an agent of the government.

    In Venom #11by Rick Remender and Lan Medina, Eddie went full-on Punisher, hunting down and killing Hybrid despite admitting that he was doing a good job as a vigilante. In the same issue, he got Scream to go after him. He proceeded to ambush her and stab her to death with a blazing hot knife. Eddie’s campaign took a turn when he was forced to bond with the Carnage spawn Toxin, but that’s a story for another day.

    That's the last we’ve heard of Scream’s symbiote, but the government was able to recover the four that made up Hybrid. 2012’s Carnage USA by Zeb Wells and Clayton Crain introduced the Mercury Team. Four special forces soldiers were armed with the symbiotes: Chief Petty Officer Marcus Simms controlled Lasher like a gooey attack dog on a leash; Lieutenant James Murphy used Agony as a means to carry heavy munitions, using rail guns like handguns; as Phage, Lieutenant Rico Axelson could snipe with pinpoint accuracy from a mile and a half away; Petty Officer Howard Ogden, who specialized in stealth and invisibility, was bonded with Riot.

    The team did all right for themselves as they helped liberate a small town from Carnage’s control, but they weren’t long for this world. In 2014’s Deadpool vs. Carnage by Cullen Bunn and Salva Espin, Carnage went on another rampage and Deadpool decided to go hunt him down. Carnage went after the Mercury Team before they could assemble against him and killed off the entire team except for Simms’ dog.

    The dog helped Deadpool bond with the Hybrid symbiotes and he proceeded to outfight Carnage before messing with his head so badly that Carnage gave up and allowed himself to be incarcerated again. Having succeeded, Deadpool gave the four symbiotes back to the dog and told him to run off to its government handlers.

    And that’s where we are with Venom’s non-Carnage kin. A whole, big pile of dead hosts, a red and yellow symbiote unaccounted for, and a dog running around as a host to four creatures. Maybe with Venomhitting theaters, we’ll see something new come out of this plot thread. Who knows? Maybe Carlton Drake is finally here to stay after 25 years of silence.

    Gavin Jasper is impressed to see that all five Life Foundation guys have been remade in Capcom style for MUGEN. Follow Gavin on Twitter!

    Read the Den of Geek SDCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine Here!

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    Batman: The Animated Series is finally getting the Blu-ray collection it deserves!

    News John Saavedra
    Jul 22, 2018

    It's amazing that Batman: The Animated Series, one of the most iconic superhero cartoons of our time, had yet to be collected on Blu-ray as of this weekend. That all changed during the show's 25th anniversary panel at New York Comic Con where it was announced that the series would be remastered for its long-awaited Blu-ray collection.

    The box set arrives on Oct. 16 and is the most comprehensive collection of that era of Batman cartoons to date. The Batman: The Animated Series Blu-ray release collects all 85 episodes of the original series as well as the 24 episodes of The New Batman Adventures. You'll also get the movies Mask of the Phantasm (arguably the best Batman movie ever made) and Batman and Mr. Freeze: Sub Zero. For the first time, all of these stories will be remastered in high definition 1080 p. (Mask of the Phantasm previously received the HD treatment). 

    This limited edition box set also comes with featurettes about the making of the show; Funko Pops of Batman, Joker, and Harley Quinn; and postcards depicting classic moments from the series. The collection will set you back $113, which is totally worth it to get the best Batman cartoon ever made in a modern format. 

    It's worth noting that if you're not really interested in spending so much money on the collection, you'll also be able to watch the remastered episodes on DC's upcoming streaming service, DC Universe, which will cost $7.99 a month. 

    Either way, this collection can't come soon enough. Until then, how about you check out our list of the best Batman: The Animated Series episodes ever produced?

    Read the Den of Geek SDCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine Here!

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    The legendary Christopher Priest returns to Marvel for a new Spider-Man comic.

    NewsJim Dandy
    Jul 23, 2018

    Christopher Priest, the man responsible for the most important Black Pantherrun of all time and the writer of arguably the best super hero comic on the stands, Deathstroke, is returning to the Spider-Man universe again. Spider-Force, announced at San Diego Comic-Con, is a miniseries that ties into the next big event Spider-Geddon,and looks like a follow up to 2014's Spider-Verse. 

    The book teams Kaine (a non-Ben Reilly clone of Peter Parker) with Spider-Woman and Ashley Barton (Hawkeye's daughter from the Old Man Logan timeline), along with two new alternate Spider people - Astro Spider, apparently a space adventurer with spider powers, and Spider-Boy, who appears to be a cross between a young Peter Parker and Nightwing. The group is assembled for what Kaine believes to be a 3-issue suicide mission. Paolo Siquiera is handling art duties with Priest.

    This is not Priest's first time in the Spider-Man family of books. Before he adopted his pen name, Jim Owsley was the youngest editor working for Marvel as he shepherded the Amazing, Spectacularand Web of Spider-Manalong. He also wrote a few issues of each book. Priest has a fascinating history in the industry, stories that are as worthwhile to read as the work that appears on the page.

    For more on Spider-Verse, Spider-Geddon, Spider-Priest, Spider-Paolo, or Spider-Con, stick with Den of Geek!

    Read the Den of Geek SDCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine Here!

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    From a Buick 8, Stephen King’s other haunted car novel, is set to become a movie from the writer/director of The Boy.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Jul 23, 2018

    With another day comes the development of another Stephen King adaptation. Indeed, the entertainment industry’s Kingaissance keeps chugging along, with the latest offering taking the form of From a Buick 8, a King novel that revisits a haunted trope from one of his classic offerings.

    Studio Hyde Park Entertainment has optioned King’s 2002 novel, From a Buick 8, setting William Brent Bell to write and direct the film adaptation, reports Deadline. Bell comes into the project off the 2016 twist-brandishing horror film, The Boy, which starred The Walking Dead’s Lauren Cohan. He’s previously written/directed horror films Wer, The Devil Inside, Stay Alive and Sparkle and Charm.

    From a Buick 8– which derives its title from the 1965 Bob Dylan B-Side “From a Buick 6” – is thematically similar to King’s Christine, his 1983 novel that was adapted that same year with director John Carpenter’s movie about a possessed 1958 Plymouth Fury.

    By contrast, this supernatural tale is recalled in a ghost story-style flashback narrative. The story, set in Western Pennsylvania, centers on Ned Wilcox, whose state trooper father was killed years earlier while answering a call about an abandoned 1953 Buick Roadmaster. However, when the now-adult Ned discovers said Buick kept hidden in the barracks of his father’s Troop D, a mystery begins to unfold about the car’s connection to his death and, eventually, an intrusion into another dimension.

    Read the Den of Geek SDCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine Here!

    The From a Buick 8 movie is, as previously implied, only the latest in an vast array of developing Stephen King-adapted film and television projects. It joins upcoming film such as It: Chapter 2, the Pet Sematary remake, The Shining sequel Doctor Sleep, The Tommyknockers, The Talisman, The Stand remake, as well as television offerings like Castle Rock and The Outsider. Indeed, it’s at a point where listing everything that’s in development would be awkward.

    We will keep you updated on the From a Buick 8 movie project as things develop!

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    Flash War fallout begins as we learn more about the history of Wally West.

    NewsJim Dandy
    Jul 23, 2018

    Josh Williamson's 50+ issues of The Flashhave been excellent. Williamson's feat with Barry hasn't just been that he's written an entertaining superhero yarn - that's not as difficult as it could be because of the wealth of good characters that exist in the Flash's orbit. The degree of difficulty in a Flash book comes from how integral the character is to the greater DC Universe. Flashes die in every Crisis. Whenever there's a problem with the Multiverse, there's always a Flash at the center of it. They are, in many ways, the keystone to the entire meta-narrative of a whole comic publisher. That's a TON of stress to put on one story.

    Williamson has taken that structure and run with it (EDITOR'S NOTE: Clean out your desk, Jim). The Flash feels integral to the DC universe in a way that he didn't in some previous incarnations. That starts with Barry, but for a lot of readers of a certain age it goes through Wally, and Flash War did a great job of placing pre-52 Wally in the Rebirth world. In this exclusive preview of The Flash#51, we get to see more of how and where Wally fits into this new continuity, and we start to get a sense of the greater mystery surrounding Rebirth itself. Here's what DC has to say about the book.

    art by SCOTT KOLINS
    cover by HOWARD PORTER
    variant cover by FRANCESCO MATTINA
    As the dust settles in the wake of "Flash War," the Flash and his family of speedsters try to pick up the pieces of what's left. But bad blood can run deep. This is the one race the Flash Family can't win!

    Check out these awesome preview pages by Scott Kolins, and for more on the future of the Flash, stick with Den of Geek!

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    What does it take to write Superman? Brian Michael Bendis tells us the secret.

    InterviewMike Cecchini
    Jul 18, 2018

    Brian Michael Bendis believes in Superman. Twenty-five years into a comics career that includes a massive 17-year stretch with Marvel Comics, the writer moved to DC Comics. And like Jack Kirby and John Byrne, two other former Marvel creators who built new legacies at DC, Bendis went to work on the Man of Steel.

    “I wrote this seven-page Superman manifesto,” Bendis says. “I took a couple of months to really rediscover the character, not as a fan but as a co-author, as a steward. I dove in and found things that were truthful to me and things that surprised me about my connection to the character.”

    That “manifesto” covered story ideas, new characters like the villainous Rogol Zaar, plans to give Metropolis a more pronounced identity, and more. But the key is always getting Superman right.

    “The world has become so chaotic, and the news is sometimes so hateful and depressing that we're not hearing a lot of hopeful stuff,” Bendis says. “I've been handed the character whose job is to remind you to be hopeful, through his actions and presence. I get to live in his skin and write him and remind everyone that the world is a great place worth saving and worth helping.”

    Bendis doesn’t buy the idea that a character as powerful as Superman isn’t relevant to modern audiences. “People feel that Superman is all powerful, so you can't relate to him. But he's all powerful and he's choosing to do the right thing with every breath he takes. That’s an almost impossible goal. As a member of society, isn't that what we're all trying to do? I'm writing a Superman reflecting hope in a world that desperately needs it.”

    The writer needed to find some hope on a personal level as well. Shortly after signing with DC Comics, Bendis was diagnosed with an MRSA infection. It was severe enough that he was hospitalized for three weeks, unable to write, and unable to even see for a portion of it. He made a full recovery, but admits “there were some dark days” as he waited for the doctors to release him.

    “Almost every day that I was there, Greg Rucka, who is a dear friend of mine and an underrated Superman writer, sat at the side of my bed and just talked about Superman with me in an almost quiet, meditative way,” Bendis recalls. “It was like he was Superman … It kept me hopeful and optimistic. When I got out of the hospital, I went flying right to my keyboard, because I was desperate to write the stories that you're reading right now.”   

    After a pair of short stories, Bendis’ tenure on Superman officially kicked off with The Man of Steel, a limited series which paired him with a different artist for each issue. “My overall philosophy as a collaborator that I've learned over the years is to not write for myself but to write for the artist, their strengths, their goals, towards what they want,” he says. “Every artist comes at you with a different energy.”

    The Man of Steel introduced a new villain, new supporting characters, and even a new status quo for Clark Kent’s home life. The next phase of the journey is this month’s relaunch of both Superman (with art by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado) and Action Comics (with art by Patrick Gleason). Each series will focus on different aspects of Superman lore.

    Action Comics is about Metropolis, The Daily Planet, stories where Clark needs to be Clark and not Superman,” Bendis says. In addition to teasing guest stars like the Question and the Guardian, and an upcoming look at the various secret organizations within the DCU, Action Comics will prominently feature Lois Lane, who was sidelined during The Man of Steel. “There's a mystery with Lois and it is something I'm very excited about,” Bendis says. “Ryan Sook is drawing Action Comics #1004. It's so far the best script I've written for DC and it’s all about Lois and Clark.”

    Superman will take a slightly different approach. “Superman has the biggest adventures [and] the biggest villains,” Bendis says. “The first year of the book is a gigantic story that will land on a huge moment for the DC Universe. I'm very excited about introducing this.”

    The writer is well aware of the legacy built by other creative teams, citing Richard Donner’s Superman movie, Geoff Johns’ work on the character, Alan Moore’s “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” and others during our conversation. But he’s quick to note more recent contributions too. “Dan Jurgens, who kindly handed the baton to me after a 30-year run, has been so gracious and wonderful,” Bendis says. “And now I'm working with Patrick Gleason [on Action Comics]. His contributions to the Superman family are enormous so having him with me on this is brilliant and has made the transition so much fun. And, of course, Jim Lee was there to hold my hand on the first pages. He was a big deal, and it made it very special.”

    Superman #1 is on sale now. Action Comics #1001 arrives on July 25. 

    Read the Den of Geek SDCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine Here!

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    The X-Men series that started it all is returning to Marvel and so is one of the series' great writers!

    NewsJim Dandy
    Jul 24, 2018

    At Marvel's X-Men panel at San Diego Comic-Con, the long-awaited return of Uncanny X-Menwas announced to an excited crowd. The title had been Marvel's flagship mutant book for the better part of 550 issues - it was just called X-Menfor the first 142, and then ran through three volumes and a momentary return to legacy numbering in 2013. The book was the spine of what became the mutant corner of the Marvel Universe, launching most of the spinoffs that came with the explosion of mutant comics in the 1980s - New Mutants, X-Factor, and a bevy of great solo minis like Beauty and the Beastor Longshot.

    No creative team or release date was announced for the new Uncanny X-Men. It's worth noting that both X-Men Gold and X-Men Blue are coming to an end in September, which means we expect Uncanny to arrive not long after to replace those titles. 

    The return of Uncanny X-Men was discussed at the same panel as another big announcement: X-Men Black, a series of villain-focused one-shots released weekly in October, with legendary X-Men writer Chris Claremont leading the way. The books include:

    • Magneto, by Claremont and Dalabor Talajic
    • Mojo,by Scott Aukerman and Nick Bradshaw
    • Mystique,by Seanan Mcguire and Marco Failla
    • Juggernaut,by Robbie Thompson and Shawn Crystal
    • Emma Frost,by Leah Williams and Chris Bachalo.

    The Blackbooks are being teased as a potential lead into Uncanny's return. Claremont is one of the most impactful writers in the history of all superhero comics, turning the X-Men from a generic, nearly canceled superhero title into a socially relevant melodrama over his hundreds of issues as the writer on various X-titles. It's also interesting to see Magneto listed as a villain, as he's been guiding the time-displaced original five X-Men in X-Men Blueand has been firmly straddling the anti-hero/good guy line for almost a decade.

    For more on Uncanny X-Men,X-Men Blackor why the Messiah Era is the best era of X-Men stories, stick with Den of Geek!

    Read the Den of Geek SDCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine Here!

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    Darth Vader joins and improves the new Thrawn novel. Our review of Star Wars: Thrawn Alliances...

    While Thrawn Alliances is technically a sequel to 2017’s Thrawn, it also works well as an enjoyable extension of the Star Wars animated canon. That role is particularly fitting now that a seventh season of The Clone Wars has been announced, landing squarely in the middle of Rebels, The Clone Wars, and the rebooted book canon.

    The sequel moves a lot faster and has a more energetic central dynamic than the first book. It’s a science fiction beach read in the best way, brisk and amusing, with some cool additions to the Star Warsgalaxy. Some of that entertainment comes from knowing that readers will one day be able to step onto Batuu, one of the book’s settings. That’s the planet featured in the lore for the Walt Disney parks' upcoming Star Wars land. I found myself wondering what the park would look like based on the descriptions. It was cool to think that I might one day sit in a similar bar to the one where Anakin and Thrawn start their mission. 

    The strength of the two heavyweight protagonists is one of the elements that keep the novel entertaining. The book is split into two different timelines, one featuring Anakin Skywalker, then-Commander Thrawn, and Padmé Amidala during the Clone Wars, and the second following Grand Admiral Thrawn and Darth Vader during the Galactic Civil War. Rebels fans will know Thrawn as the alien genius who narrowly lost the battle against the good guys. In the book, he’s smarting from that defeat and plenty motivated to remain in his precarious spot in the Emperor’s good graces. 

    Thrawn and Vader are delightfully passive-aggressive: forced by Emperor Palpatine to get along, they resort to undermining one another’s orders and generally trying to make one another’s lives inconvenient. The question of whether Thrawn knows Vader’s former identity is always present, adding a layer of tension. You’ll want to find out exactly how far the rivalry will go and who each character is most loyal to, especially when Thrawn’s loyalty to his own species comes into play. 

    The troopers on Thrawn’s and Vader’s respective ships play out a similar drama in miniature. It was interesting to see the troops cohere, but their scenes were also weirdly sanitized for Imperials. Because the stormtroopers are fighting alien combatants, there’s little to telegraph the fact that this is the Empire — the planet-destroying, Leia-torturing Empire — and that the audience should not be rooting for them.

    The book does mention that many Imperial officers are power-hungry, but it was odd to find myself hoping that some of these characters would survive their battles, only to remember that they signed up for the Jedi-killing side of the war. Implicit in characters like these might be the need for an explanation of why they aren’t the good guys in the stark Star Wars moral dichotomy — why they did not choose to be, and why their actions, despite being beneficial to the protagonists, don’t confer goodness upon them. This isn’t Inferno Squad, which makes sure the reader knows its protagonists do terrible things. Instead, it’s more like Lords of the Sith, treating Vader and Thrawn more as tanks than as super villains. 

    It’s built into the Star Warsuniverse that selfishness is punished, selflessness rewarded, and the bad guys lose — except when the book is populated almost entirely by bad guys. That also leads to some questions about why exactly the villains in the Galactic Civil War portion of Thrawn Alliances are villainous. There aren’t any actual characters on the bad guys’ side, just faceless troops from an alien species that may or may not be competing with the Chiss for galactic space. Their crimes are no lesser or greater than those committed by the Empire (or the Republic). 

    In the Clone Wars era (Clone Wars era!!), Anakin and Thrawn’s story could practically be an episode of the TV show. In this case, that’s a good thing. Anakin’s voice fits the character of a volatile and deeply sensitive Jedi perfectly, showing how his emotions rule him. There isn’t a direct line from this book to Revenge of the SithThrawn Alliances layers mostly on itself rather than onto other stories in the canon. But that’s okay. This section does have a villain — a Count Dooku lite — and it was refreshing to go back to a story in which the Republic is thriving (if not for long). 

    That two-layered format creates some interesting attempts to layer the familiar characters in somewhat new ways: I really liked the emphasis on flying and navigation, which clearly connects to Anakin’s prowess as a pilot. Darth Vader’s memories of Anakin are handled with a cold disconnect that conveys chilling emotion. 

    The writing style is exactly what one would expect from Timothy Zahn, and if you follow Star Wars books, in general, you likely know whether you’ll enjoy that already. Some scenes suffered from never quite explaining where characters were positioned in relation to one another. More physical description would also have been appreciated. Side characters have cursory personalities, if not arcs, and I would have liked to be able to put faces to those names. However, the story moves quickly enough that I didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about them.

    Padmé also gets her own adventure, in which she bluffs, charms, and blasts her way around in an attempt to find out who killed her former ally. There isn’t a lot to go on when it comes to her characterization in the films, and to his credit, Zahn gives her a solid motivation and matches her voice from The Clone Wars well. She also gets to put her signature weapon, that grappling hook from The Phantom Menace, to good use. At times her quest read like a tabletop game, in a good way, with Padmé choosing how best to solve the mystery and proceed forward using the skills she has. In fact, the book as a whole often felt like a game — immersive, fast-moving, and a little bit constrained. 

    Read the Den of Geek SDCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine Here!

    ReviewMegan Crouse
    Jul 24, 2018

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    Anthony Horowitz’s teen spy novel series, Alex Rider, is about to become a television series with Sony now onboard.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Jul 24, 2018

    The Alex Rider YA literary franchise is about to step into the realm of television.

    U.K.-based indie company Eleventh Hour Films just received a major boost to its spec project from Sony Pictures Television, now set to bring British author Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider franchise to the small screen.

    The television project is planned as an eight-episode offering, adapting the second book in Horowitz’s novel series, Point Blanc, in serial form, having tapped BAFTA-winning screenwriter Guy Burt (Joe All Alone, Tutankhamun, The Bletchley Circle) to write the script, joined by Horowitz himself, who will executive-produce.

    As Horowitz lauds in a statement (via Variety):

    “So many Alex Rider fans have been asking me when he would be returning to the screen – and I couldn’t be more excited that it’s finally happening. Guy Burt has perfectly captured the danger and excitement of the books, and I’m sure the series will have universal appeal.”

    The teen spy-centered novel series of Anthony Horowitz is represented by 11 novels (with one set for 2019,) an array of supplementary short stories and, most notably, the 2006 film, Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker, starring Alex Pettyfer as the hero, joined by a cast consisting of names like Ewan McGregor, Mickey Rourke, Sarah Bolger, Andy Serkis, Stephen Fry, Alicia Silverstone, Robbie Coltrane, Damian Lewis and Sophie Okonedo. However, the film was widely-panned as derivative and was anemic upon arrival at the box office, earning just $677,646 in the U.S., totalling $23.9 million worldwide.

    The first novel – on which the film was based – in 2000’s Stormbreaker sets the eponymous protagonist’s origin story, in which the death of his uncle/adoptive father (secretly an MI6 agent,) leads him to becoming a ward of his uncle’s employers at a military academy that secretly trains young agents, eventually tackling the threat of super-computer Stormbreaker. By contrast, 2001’s Point Blanc– which the series will adapt – sees Alex investigating mysterious deaths in a prep school for the offspring of powerful figures.  

    Read the Den of Geek SDCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine Here!

    An earlier Alex Rider television project was planned by the U.K.’s ITV, but subsequently halted. Eleventh Hour's new television adaptation will be fully funded by Sony Pictures Television, which will search for a broadcasting platform and handle international production under Wayne Garvie and worldwide distribution under Keith Le Goy. As the duo of Sony suits express in a joint statement:

    “We identified Alex Rider some time ago as we were looking for the right project to take this leap, and we’re thrilled it has come together as our very first spec series.”

    We will keep you updated on the Alex Rider television series project as things develop!

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    Everything you need to know about The Hate U Give movie adaptation starring Amandla Stenberg.

    News Kayti Burt
    Jul 25, 2018

    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 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 poster, inspired by the book cover. Check it out!

    The Hate U Give Movie Trailer

    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.

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    Everything we know about the Locke & Key TV show, which is headed for Netflix.

    News Joseph BaxterKayti Burt
    Jul 26, 2018

    The Locke & Key TV series project has had a rough time, but its troubles finally appear to be over, thanks to Netflix.

    Back in July 2016, THR revealed that Hulu gave the show adaptation of writer Joe Hill's IDW horror comic book series a pilot order, with Carlton Cuse (Lost) set to serve as showrunner. Auspiciously, Andy Muschietti (It, Mama) was on tap to direct the pilot after Doctor Strange's Scott Derrickson had to withdraw.

    Unfortunately, after all that, Hulu passed on the project! However, Netflix eventually came in for the rescue... even if said rescue involved scrapping Hulu's pilot. Regardless, the Locke & Key TV series is finally happening!

    Locke & Key News

    Locke & Key is now officially greenlit as a 10-episode series for Netflix!

    While the streaming giant rescued the wayward comic-book-adapting project this past May after Hulu shot a pilot that was subsequently passed over for a pickup, the move involved crucial caveats that will bring the project back to the drawing board. Indeed, Netflix’s series order comes with the confirmation that Locke & Key will go back to the drawing board, re-casting while redeveloping the scripts, scrapping the Hulu pilot, which starred Frances O’Connor and was directed by It helmer Andy Muschietti (who’s too busy with the sequel to handle the mulligan).

    Interestingly, Netflix is opting to keep the Hulu iteration’s creative fulcrum, Joe Hill, who remains onboard as creator/writer/executive producer. The same goes for showrunner Carlton Cuse, known from Lost, The Strain, Bates Motel and Amazon’s upcoming Jack Ryan series. Cuse is now joined in that capacity by Meredith Averill, who’s worked on Jane the Virgin, Star-Crossed and The Good Wife, along with Netflix’s upcoming TV series horror reboot The Haunting of Hill House.

    Locke & Key TV Show Details

    Here's the main cast of Locke & Key, as gathered for the now-nixed Hulu pilot. For the sake of remembrance, it consisted of...

    Frances O’Connor (The Conjuring 2, A.I. Artificial Intelligence) was to play Nina Locke. The story would have centered on O'Connor's Nina, who, after her husband’s gruesome murder, takes her three children to move into their ancestral home in Maine, the Keyhouse. However, the Keyhouse has centuries of connections to the supernatural, serving as a dimensional portal through which malevolent demons wish to cross. Moreover, the magical keys connected to the house – forged from the metallic remains of demons who’ve tried to cross the portal – contain powers beyond comprehension.

    Sam Robards (Twisted, Gossip Girl) was to play Nina's ill-fated husband, Rendell Locke. Interestingly, this casting would have been an A.I. reunion, since Robards played the husband of O'Connor's character in that film.

    Jack Mulhern (Walking to the Waterline) was to play Tyler Locke, the teenage son of Nina and Rendell. As the oldest of the young Locke siblings, Tyler finds himself as the man of the house, by default. This, of course, complicates his already-complicated adolescent existence enough. However, once his family moves into the supernatural-phenomena-plagued Keyhouse, his problems will exponentially increase.

    Megan Charpentier (It, Mama) was to play Kinsey Locke, the middle child.

    Jackson Robert Scott (It, Fear the Walking Dead) was to play Bode Locke, the youngest member of the Locke family. Bode is an optimistic, imaginative eight-year-old who is especially tuned into and vulnerable to the supernatural possibilities of the Keyhouse.

    Nate Corddry (The Circle, The Marvelous Ms. Maisel) was to play Duncan Locke, Rendell’s younger brother and uncle to the trio of children. The actor also happens to be a younger brother to actor/comedian Rob Corddry.

    Owen Teague (It, Bloodline) was to play Sam Lesser, a young man who’s suffered abuse, who is influenced by a spirit to carry out a murder that’s crucial to the story.

    Danny Glover was to play a cameo role as Joe Ridgeway, an English teacher, described as “eccentric,” who works at Matheson Academy. There, he becomes a mentor to the Locke children and friend to their recently-widowed mother, Nina (Frances O’Connor). Yet, Joe knew Nina’s (brutally murdered) late husband, Rendell Locke, and is also aware of some of the tragic secrets that he withheld; secrets that are connected to his mysterious ancestral home, the Keyhouse, in which Nina and kids have now taken up residence.

    Of course, failed Locke & Key TV endeavors predate Hulu's version.

    In 2016, IDW Entertainment released news that Locke & Key writer Joe Hill (he wrote the story for the comics, with art by Gabriel Rodriguez) was on board to write the pilot and executive produce the TV show adaptation as a straight-to-series project. It's unclear how Hulu and Cuse's involvement might change that plan, but Hill had previously said in a statement:

    I love this story. The seven years I spent working on Locke & Key was the happiest creative experience of my life, and there still isn’t a day when I don’t think about those characters and miss visiting with them. The six books of the series are very like six seasons of a cable TV series, and so it feels only natural to bring that world to the little screen and to see if we can’t scare the pants off viewers everywhere.

    Locke & Key begins with the story of three siblings returning to their family's ancestral home following the brutal and mysterious murder of their father. As they explore the house and its surroundings, it becomes clear that there are wonderful and terrible things lurking on the grounds. It is a comic book horror classic.

    Previously, a TV show adaptation made it all the way to the pilot stage, but never garnered a pick-up. The episode was screened at Comic Con in 2011 and, as someone who was there for said screening, I can vouch for its awesomeness — a character-driven exercise in horror that deserved to continue its story.

    The TV adaptation had Josh Friedman as a showrunner (The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Avatar 2) and an all-star cast that included Miranda Otto, Sarah Bolger, and Ksenia Solo. Check out the trailer...

    Sadly, this version of Locke & Key never made it past a pilot, but the pop culture world seems better poised to embrace an on-screen version of this horror comic now. Not only are there way more comic book adaptations on TV and film, but Joe Hill has become more of a household name, especially with the recent film adaptaion of Horns. Hopefully, this adaptation is good and garners enough of an audience to ensure its continuation. Universe, you owe us this.

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  • 07/27/18--10:16: What's Next for The Flash?
  • Joshua Williamson talks about the aftermath of Flash War, the fate of Wally West, and what's next for Barry Allen.

    FeatureMike Cecchini
    Jul 27, 2018

    For the last two years, Joshua Williamson has been steering the adventures of Barry Allen and the rest of the Flash family in the pages of The Flash for DC Comics. In the wake of Wally West's return in DC Rebirth in 2016, Williamson and a number of talented artists have delivered a book that is completely accessible and familiar to fans of the TV series, while simultaneously drawing on decades of Flash history. At 51 issues and counting, it's one of the most impressive runs on the character by any writer, and it recently wrapped up two massive stories, with "The Perfect Storm" and "Flash War."

    For some creators, that might be enough. But from what Mr. Williamson tells us, there are even bigger things awaiting Barry, Wally, and some long-lost members of the Flash family before he reaches the finish line. Beware, because this interview contains massive spoilers for recent Flash stories, so if you aren't caught up, you might want to do this before reading (or watching) on...

    Den of Geek: You just had a pretty big story wrap in The Flash with "Flash War." Can we talk about that ending? Because you said the magic word that no Flash fan ever wants to hear, which is "Crisis."

    Josh Williamson:I mean I've been telling most people, ever since we started talking about "Flash War" was that it was really going to be the beginning of a Flash story. It wasn't going to be something that stands on its own and really what we saw was the first battle of this big storyline we were going to be planning, and you could see that Hunter [Zolomon] talks about it. Hunter is like, "there's something coming that is bigger and there needs to be a Flash."

    For every big Crisis, there always has to be a Flash, right? They're so tied into the heart of the DCU and they're always a part of any kind of big Crisis story. Hunter warns them. He says that throughout the story where he's like, there's something coming that's bigger. I don't think you guys are ready for it. We need a Flash that is ready. That's part of his motivation. And so you see that that thing that he's talking about is that last page is the idea that there's a Crisis coming.

    And is that mysterious character at the end a new character or is that somebody that we've seen before?

    It's a weird mix of both, I guess. The best way to put it is that it is a new character who will have a history with the Flash family. That's the best way I can put it. It's definitely something we're trying to build. It's gonna be a little bit of a slow burn. I really do feel like I want to be the [Flash] equivalent of Doomsday vs. Superman. 

    And before that ending, there was the other ending, which sees the return of Bart Allen to the DC Universe. I feel Bart is kind of trickier for everything because we've already established that there are rules that speedsters have to follow in order to return to this reality, correct? So what was it that allowed Bart to return?

    Well the original Bart Allen we brought back, he had died, or we saw him get absorbed into this Speed Force back during Flashpoint. He had his own mini, it was a Kid Flash miniseries. At the end of that he became a White Flash, as a parallel, or a reverse from the Black Flash. He became this White Flash and he helped Barry make his way back and then he was absorbed into the Speed Force. We didn't really know what happened to him or where he was and if you go and look at what was going on with Wally, Wally would have been trapped in this Speed Force for all of New 52 and then he was able to find his way back and find his lightning rod.

    Impulse/Bart Allen was also lost in in the other side of that. Part of the reason why I wanted to tell the story the way we did, was at the end of that story both Barry and Wally lose at the end. They both lost the war. Hunter's the one that won. I wanted it to be this thing of Hunter thought he was manipulating them but he accidentally released Bart at the same time. If you go back and you look, part of the reason why Wally wasn't able to come back was because no one remembered him. Once Barry remembered him, he was able to pull him through.

    But the thing is, there was nobody to remember Bart. But that energy has been building, right? With Iris and Wally, and when we get to that story, that moment where he is able to remember his family, that energy is able to bring Bart through. It was because of Wally being able to remember the idea of the Flash family as a whole. That's how Bart makes it through on that last page. Bart will have an adventure. He's not going to be in The Flash book for a little bit. I don't know the exact issue number, but we'll eventually get there. And then we'll see some of that stuff play out over awhile in The Flash, but it's really a big part of the future that DC gave us, some of the stuff that we're building here.

    For a guy writing The Flash, you take your time with these characters. Wally was kind of the kickoff of Rebirth but then you kept Wally away for a while in the main book, and now he's here and it seems like he's taking more of a prominent role. How do you balance this? You're very slowly bringing in these other members of the Flash family.

    It's definitely part of the challenge. I wanted Wally in the book from the beginning. Here's the thing. You can't just say, "I want." You have to have a story, a plan, an idea to how it can work. You can't just be like, "I want Wally in the book. Give him to me." That isn't how it works.

    Same with Bart. I couldn't just go, "I want Bart in the book, give him to me." I had to come up with an idea, and a story, and a way to execute this. So with Wally I was able to get Wally in occasionally, and once we knew we were going to do "Flash War" and we knew what the story was, it was easier to get him in the book on a regular basis. That's what we started having him during the Grodd storyline. So we could build that tension between him and Barry.

    It can be tough to balance it out. With right now, Wally's going to leave the book in issue 51. In that you're gonna see what happened to him after "Flash War." We're telling you where he's going, what other book he'll be in, because his story's going to continue. The book is going to focus on Barry for a little bit. It's almost like a weird push and pull, like a rollercoaster ride of breaking the Flash family apart and then bringing them back together. That's how we're going to create that balance of making sure that there's always a story reason for them to be around each other. 

    Like I said, Bart's not going to be in the book a little bit, so I don't have to worry about that as much right now. Honestly it's one of my favorite things about superhero comic books. I always like the character interactions. I like when Superman is around Batman. I like when Hal is around Barry. I like when these characters that I love are bouncing off each other. And now I was able to do that with Barry and Wally. So eventually being able to have Barry and Bart, or Wally and Bart, it's a lot of fun to be able to write those interactions, so it can be a challenge at times but I like the challenge.

    We saw Jay Garrick briefly back during "The Button." With everything happening the way that it is now, and everything building towards this Crisis, whatever it may be. When will we see Jay again?

    That's a tough question to ask. I mean he's definitely out there. I can't really say where he's gonna show up next. I know. But I can't really say. Sooner than later. That's the most I can tell you. I like Jay a lot. I was really glad we got to write him for that one moment. I felt that it was something heartbreaking.

    I remember we came up with this story and the idea that it was going to happen, and I was like okay it'll be a surprise. It was almost one year to the day from Wally returning, so we knew that Wally returned in DC Rebirth in May of 2016. And a year later in May of 2017 we were gonna give you a taste of Jay and then take him away. Just to kind of remind you that this is not gonna be an easy battle. I remember thinking, "oh man, this is gonna be so heartbreaking." I love Jay, too. I'm really glad I get to write him for this scene, but he's gonna show up and we're gonna yank him back. And I was like, "it's all right. It'll be a nice surprise. It'll be okay."

    And then he was on the cover. And I thought, "oh no! Everyone's gonna think he's coming back in this issue." So it was definitely heartbreaking to sort of tease that, but at the same time I know the bigger plans for all this stuff, and I know the stuff that we're building and planning and I think it'll all be worth it in the end. I think people will really be happy with everything by the end of all this really big, huge story we're telling.

    It was worth it for that cover, though!

    That cover was awesome! Jay Fabok is an amazing artist. I really like working with him a lot. He actually, going on a little tangent, he drew my second job at DC, and I actually wrote his first job. So it was his first gig and my second gig we worked together. And then years later we got to do Justice League vs Suicide Squad #1 together, which was a big event for both of us. It was both of our first event books, so it was cool. I think that was six years later or something like that? Maybe five years later we were able to come back together and do something like that. It was great.

    I seem to remember hearing when Rebirth first launched that everybody needed a two year plan on their books. And we've just passed the two year mark with you on Flash. Was "Flash War" always your endgame?

    Bits and pieces of it was. I had the story that I'd wanted to do. We knew there was a certain map planned out. We had talked about it two years ago. We just weren't sure where it was gonna fall, and how. The end of my two year plan was the Grodd story ("The Perfect Storm"). That was the end of my two year plan. But then we saw this opportunity "Flash War" right after. We were like, oh this is perfect, let's do this. All these bits and pieces of stories I wanted to do I was able to find a home and build out to be this big "Flash War" story. And do Barry versus Wally, which had never been done.

    The Flash arrives every other Wednesday from DC Comics. Wally West will next be seen in Heroes in Crisis, which arrives on September 26.

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    The Fantastic Four are joining the MCU, and it's the one good thing that will come out of the Disney/Fox deal.

    Feature Mike Cecchini
    Jul 27, 2018

    The Fantastic Four are going to have their day now that Disney and Fox shareholders have approved the merger of the two studio giants. This is a deal that is terrible for cinema and even worse for news, but one that is certainly good for superhero fans. It just might require a different approach than Hollywood is generally willing to take with superhero movies as we know them. For the sake of this article, please spare me the "we already had two great Fantastic Four movies with The Incredibles," argument, because we all know that.

    The failure of Josh Trank's 2015 Fantastic Four movie with critics, fans, and at the box office was a damning indicator of just how far the Fantastic Four brand has fallen since its comic book heyday of the 1960s and '70s. But maybe the issue is simply that the Fantastic Four don't lend themselves quite as easily to familiar superhero movie tropes as some of their more successful counterparts. The 2015 movie was the third big screen incarnation of the Fantastic Four, and the fourth movie overall. The first was the Roger Corman production, made for approximately one million dollars only so that a film studio could keep the rights out of the hands of Marvel long enough to make a more suitable movie. That movie was both faithful to the source material and sincere in its tone, but it may or may not have ever actually been intended for release.

    In the mid-2000s, we were given two Fantastic Four movies from 20th Century Fox and director Tim Story. Fantastic Four and its sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer were similarly faithful in look and tone to the classic Marvel comic book. They were also dull, by-the-numbers blockbuster fare with a cast that (the fairly inspired choice of Chris Evans as Johnny Storm and Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm aside) failed to capture the vitality or chemisty of the FF's traditional family dynamic. Worse, like the 2015 movie, they utterly wasted one of the greatest comic book villains of all time, Dr. Doom.

    The Tim Story films weren't particularly interested in reinventing the wheel, and their deviations from the letter of FF mythology were no greater than those that made tried-and-true box office titans like Batman or Spider-Man more suitable for the big screen. Unlike a proven ticket and merchandise mover like Spider-Man, there's an increasingly vocal sentiment that the Fantastic Four are inherently old fashioned and faintly ridiculous, and that modern audiences simply don't have a place for them in their already superhero saturated hearts. On the surface, when your "coolest" member is a guy who can burst into flame, that kind of pales in comparison to some of the sexier heroes out there. The relatively grounded approach to Trank's Fantastic Four may have been an attempt to combat this, and it certainly calls back to what Bryan Singer did in the first X-Men film, which moved along at a similarly glacial pace during its first act and did away with the characters' more colorful garb.

    But it wasn't that grounded approach that sunk the new FF franchise. The Tim Story movies, as faithful as they were to the comic book aesthetic, both made more than twice their budget back at the worldwide box office, but nobody, not even the most fervent superhero movie apologist, was ever particularly enthused about them. They earned middling reviews and tepid fan reaction, and there was never any sense of urgency to get Fantastic Four 3 into production.

    While the Marvel Studios house style that blends witty banter, cosmic adventure, and family friendly bloodless violence is perfectly suited (even inspired by) the Fantastic Four, they've had enough on their plate over the last few years without trying to cram the X-Men or Fantastic Four onto their release schedules. But the release of Avengers 4 in 2019 not only marks the end of the latest "phase" of Marvel movies, it also ushers in an era where trilogies for heavy hitters Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man have run their course while audiences have thrilled to multiple Avengers movies. What was once impossible is suddenly commonplace, and this is where the Fantastic Four will have a chance to distinguish themselves.

    Watch Fantastic Four on Amazon

    The next Fantastic Four movie must genuinely offer audiences something different. And "different" is exactly what made The Fantastic Four"The World's Greatest Comics Magazine" when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were at the controls for over 100 issues. Nobody needs another origin story (for this or any other franchise), and the elemental iconography of the Fantastic Four doesn't really need much more explanation than "a guy who can stretch, a woman who can turn invisible and project force fields, a human torch, and a tragic but powerful rock monster." Superheroes are now such a part of the cinematic vocabulary that spending thirty minutes explaining the hows and whys of superpowers is as wasteful as explaining how the hero of a Western learned to shoot and ride a horse.

    So while every Fantastic Four movie has nailed the broad strokes, what is always lacking is the real soul of these characters and their world: one full of impossible adventure, surprises, and technology. The Four have never been known for solving their problems by hitting them, so you can eliminate the idea of a noisy, city-destroying climax. The FF is about big, cosmic, timey-wimey ideas, and the smart, quirky, friends and family who have to work through it all together. Need an example of how audiences might relate to that brand of non-traditional superheroics? Doctor Who is adored by loyal fans and it's a perfect example of how to depict awkward smart people finding (mostly) non-violent solutions to reality-warping problems. 

    The Fantastic Four comics of the Lee/Kirby team at their peak in 1966 to 1968 contain page after page of budget busting visuals and concepts that would send any Hollywood bean-counter to the poorhouse. Instead, we've been stuck with dull backlot slugfests (FF 2005), a purple cloud instead of Galactus (Rise of the Silver Surfer), and a hastily devised green screen nightmare (FF 2015). I'm giving the 1994 film a pass because that movie is lucky it had craft services, let alone special effects.

    It's difficult to imagine a potential movie franchise more antithetical to current superhero movie trends than the Fantastic Four. The team is, quite literally, a family. Their adventures are almost uniformly intergalactic or interdimensional in nature. Half of the members have power sets that don't lend themselves to the brute force that has become shorthand for most superheroing. Done right, the Fantastic Four can and should be the property that Kevin Feige and Disney executives look to when they fear audiences are tiring of superhero movies. The FF is another Guardians of the Galaxy in waiting, and unlike those blockbusters, it comes with considerably more brand recognition out of the gate.

    It's not rocket science or interdimensional travel. Someone will figure it out. See you at the Baxter Building in Marvel Phase Four.

    Read the latest Den of Geek Special Edition Magazine Here!

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