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    DC's Wonder Comics imprint will return Young Justice to continuity.

    NewsMarc Buxton
    Oct 7, 2018

    Young Justice Season 3 is coming to the DC Universe streaming service in early 2019, and DC has tapped writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Patrick Gleason (Action Comics) to bring the team back to comics, as well. As part of Bendis’ new Wonder Comics imprint, Young Justice will get a new series in 2019. The Tim Drake version of Robin, the newly-returned Impulse, and the long-awaited return to official continuity of the  Conner Kent Superboy will all form the heart of the team. But joining these classic youthful DC heroes will be a bevy of fresh DC faces.

    Brian Michael Bendis revealed the other members of Young Justice team at New York Comic Con. First there is Jenny Hex, a descendant of the classic DC gunfighter Jonah Hex. Jenny will be introduced in the fourth issue of the Wal-Mart Batman series by Bendis and Nick Derington and the writer revealed that, “Jenny has inherited a chest of DC artifacts and is drawn into the world of Young Justice.”

    Joining Jenny will be Teen Lantern, who, according to Bendis, “…hacks into a Green Lantern power battery.” Bendis revealed that the new Lantern character will be of Bolivian descent, a fact that has made front page news in Bolivia. Bendis described the character as a Bolivian Tony Stark and will have skills and motivations similar to Bendis’ Marvel creation Riri Williams.

    Another fan favorite DC concept will also play a part in Young Justice. “We’re bringing back Amethyst and Gem World,” Bendis told the New York DC faithful.  “We will be adding an Amethyst book in the next wave of Wonder Comics, but this is where we bring back Gem World.”

    Bendis promised that the return of Conner Kent will be set up in his Superman books which leads to the fully in continuity Young Justice

    Other titles in the teen-focused Wonder Comics line include Naomi, which will be written by Brian Michael Bendis and David Walker, with art by Jamal Campbell, Wonder Twins by Mark Russell and Stephen Byrne, and Dial H For Hero by Sam Humphries and Joe Quinones.

    We'll have more updates on the new Young Justice series soon!

    Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!


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    At New York Comic Con, one fan asked about the show's history of representing sexual violence in the #MeToo era.

    News Kayti Burt
    Oct 7, 2018

    Outlander was at New York Comic Con to screen the Season 4 premiere, as well as tease what's to come in the new season.

    While most of the night was lighthearted and exuberant, the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden got a bit more sober when one brave fan asked about the discussion of non-consensual sex that appeared in the Season 4 premiere between Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Ian (John Bell), as well as the show's history of representing sexual violence in the #MeToo era.

    "How do you feel about what is happening in our country right now?" asked the fan, after summarizing the characters' respective histories as survivors of sexual assault.

    It's a valid question—one that shouldn't be seen as hostile or combative, but was, it seemed, by some in the 5,600-seat theater, who cheered when showrunner Ronald D. Moore said that Outlander is not inherently a political show.

    “Ultimately, the show is about these characters and this story," said Moore. "We don’t choose to look at it as a platform for political ideas. But at the same time, all of us live in the world, all of us live in the society, we can’t help but have what happens in the world inform what we do. We try to be cognizant of our audience…and try to talk with our show and not preach to the audience that this is our point of view. We look at the world that we live in just like you do and it can’t help but sort of influence our work."

    Every story we tell is political. I am suspicious of shows that call themselves apolitical because I think that is often a stand-in explanation for a story that is actively reinforcing the status quo, which is still a political act (though one that is more invisible to many in our mainstream culture).

    There is no such thing as apolitical in storytelling. Storytelling is a political act. Mainstream, commerical storytelling, even moreso—if not in intent, then in influence. When it comes to historical dramas, these stories are never about the times in which they are set, but the times in which they are told. All stories are.

    I don't think Moore is an apolitical storyteller—after all, this is the man who created the reimagined Battlestar Galactica—and I don't think he is trying to argue that he is. It is, however, disappointing to hear a fan bring up the subject of sexual assault and non-consensual sex—both of which have been represented more than once on this series, often in helpful ways—and to see it somewhat swept under the rug in a forum as large and influential as New York Comic Con. This is not what this space is explicitly for, but perhaps it should be. If we don't start making more room for honest, open conversations about sexual assault and violence in our culture, then we can never hope to diminish its prevalence.

    The subject of sexual assault is handled beautifully in the Outlander Season 4 premiere. I would have liked to see the broaching of the subject responded to as supportively and non-judgementally as Jamie did with Young Ian in the episode screened. Perhaps next New York Comic Con, we will get it right.

    Kayti Burt is a staff editor covering books, TV, movies, and fan culture at Den of Geek. Read more of her work here or follow her on Twitter @kaytiburt.

    Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!


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    Joshua Williamson and Howard Porter will tell the story of Barry Allen's first year on the job in The Flash: Year One.

    NewsMike Cecchini
    Oct 7, 2018

    I have gone on at length, at virtually every opportunity, about Josh Williamson's tenure as writer on The Flash. Williamson and numerous artists have crafted a run that encompasses decades of Flash continuity, the entire Flash family, numerous rogues, and more over the last two years. He is far from finished.

    Williamson will reunite with artist Howard Porter, who drew the excellent "The Button" story last year for "The Flash: Year One." It's exactly what it says it is, a deep dive into Barry Allen's origin story. Believe it or not, Barry's early days as Flash have never really been explored in comics. His origin story from 1956's Showcase #4 is relatively unchanged, and that brief tale saw him emerge as a more or less fully formed hero. The only significant new element to Barry's early days came from The Flash: Rebirth by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver, which introduced the concept (later made famous on The Flash TV series) that Barry's mother had been murdered by the Reverse-Flash, in a retroactive attempt to punish his greatest enemy.

    But as for how Barry learned to harness his powers, design his costume, and first encounter his famed rogues? That has never been explored in detail on the comics page. Wally West had his own "Year One" story, Mark Waid and Greg LaRocque's excellent "Born to Run" in 1994, but Barry's early days remain unexplored in modern comics. It's tough to think of a better writer than Williamson, who understands the Flash family better than anyone since the days of Mark Waid or Geoff Johns, to tell this story.

    "We're going to tell the story of Barry's first year as the Flash," Williamson told a crowd at New York Comic Con, "Barry Allen's sense of hope, inspiration, and optimism is an important thing, and I really wanted to tell a story about how he came from when his mother died, where he could have had a negative view of things, and how he went from that to being the Flash and the hero we all know."

    You can see a teaser image (presumably the cover of the first chapter) by Howard Porter at the top of the article. Aside from the awesome visual of Barry in a proto-Flash costume atop a pile of discarded, smoldering sneakers, I can't help but notice the red and blue color scheme. From Barry's very first appearance, it was revealed that he had been a fan of the Jay Garrick version of Flash, having read his adventures in the pages of comic books. Could the blue pants here (ok, fine, they're blue jeans), be a nod to Barry's Jay fandom? Considering that Williamson and Porter were the ones who brought Jay Garrick back to DC continuity with "The Button," this would be a fun callback.

    "The Flash: Year One" won't be a separate mini-series. It will run as an arc through the pages of the main title some time in spring 2019.

    Mike Cecchini is the Editor in Chief of Den of Geek. You can read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @wayoutstuff.

    Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!


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    DC wants more Pearl, and the Scarlet TV series is getting a little closer to reality!

    NewsMarc Buxton
    Oct 7, 2018

    Saturday at the Brian Michael Bendis Spotlight Panel at New York Comic Con, co-creators of Jessica Jones writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Gaydos announced that their new Jinxworld series Pearl will become a regular series.

    Pearl is the story of a Japanese tattoo artist trying to survive the world of the Yakuza underworld. “When the numbers on the first issues came in,” Bendis told the panel, “DC sent us to series.”

    As for Gaydos, the artist said he is having the time of his life with Pearl. “I’m having so much fun experimenting,” the artist said. “I can only see it getting better.” When the series returns after the end of the first six issue arc, Pearl will travel to Japan. Gaydos called the series the “…hardest series I have ever worked on, but I’m having a blast.”

    Pearl has received critical acclaim since its debut a few months ago and has become an exciting and worthy follow up to Bendis and Gaydos’ work at Marvel. But the Jinxworld goodness doesn’t end there, as Bendis provided an update on Scarlet was well. Bendis was joined on stage with his former Daredevil artist Alex Maleev and gave the fans a clue on what’s next for Scarlet both in comics and on TV. In the next arc of the comic series, Bendis informed, “Scarlet will have to survive an American Revolution on the streets of Portland.”

    As for the long in-development Scarlet TV series, Bendis teased, “I can’t say what network it’s going to be on because of NDAs, but I can say that the network features Shows when it’s Time.” Well, you certainly don’t have to be Nostradamus there do you?

    further reading: Brian Michael Bendis on the Future of Jinxworld 

    Scarletshould be a daring and controversial TV experience in the currnet political climate as it focuses on a young progressive revolutionary that goes up against government corruption in the city of Portland. Look for updates on Scarlet, the new Pearl series, and much more Jinxworld goodness in the coming months.

    Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!


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    Cloak and Dagger: Negative Exposure will be a digital first series from Marvel.

    NewsMarc Buxton
    Oct 7, 2018

    Fans of Freeform’s Cloak and Dagger TV series will be happy to learn that Marvel announced a new digital first series entitled Cloak and Dagger: Negative Exposure at New York Comic Con. The new series will be written by the author of the first Cloak and Dagger digital series, Dennis Hopeless, with art by Francesco Manna.

    “I have gotten to write more Cloak and Dagger than anyone has in decades,” Hopeless said, while discussing the characters that have been exposed to a whole new generation of fans thanks to their hit Freeform series.

    Cloak and Dagger: Negative Exposure #1 will digitally drop in November, and the titular heroes taking on the deadly Spider-Man villain Mister Negative.

    “It’s a super scary, horror movie, Darkforce story,” Hopeless said, promising a series that will appeal to both new fans of the TV series and fans of the classic Marvel version of the characters. Hopeless also teased that the new Cloak and Dagger series will explore the Dark Dimension and present Mister Negative as one of the most terrifying villains on the means streets of the Marvel Universe. In fact, Hopeless is no stranger to those mean streets as the writer guided the late, lamented Spider-Woman series. Hopeless will bring his same sense of action and character to Cloak and Dagger as he promised that the new series will focus on the duo as individuals coming together to take on their greatest threat in Mister Negative.

    For the less tech-minded Marvel fans, Cloak and Dagger: Negative Exposure will be released as a printed collection in December. Truly, it is a good time to be a fan of Tandy and Tyrone as the classic light and dark heroes have experienced quite the renaissance.

    Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!


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    If Matt Murdock dies, who will be the new Daredevil?

    NewsMarc Buxton
    Oct 7, 2018

    Daredevil may be ready to kick ass and take names on the third season of his Netflix TV series, but in the pages of Marvel Comics, Matt Murdock is about to die. Over the past few years, Marvel has had success with both the death of Captain America and the death of Wolverine (both are currently alive and well, by the way), and now it’s Daredevil’s turn to leave this mortal coil. 

    The death of Matt Murdock has been hinted at in the current Daredevil series written by Charles Soule, but it looks like Marvel is committing to putting DD six feet under. Soule is no stranger to killing off iconic Marvel character, as as the writer was also responsible for the Death of Wolverine story from a few years ago.

    At the Marvel: True Believers panel at New York Comic Con, Marvel announced that a new series entitled The Man Without Fear by writer Jed MacKay and artist Danilo Beyruth will follow the "Death of Daredevil" story. 

    So the questions must be asked, who is the new Man Without Fear? Is it Blindspot, Daredevil’s sometimes crime fighting partner, or will it be a completely new character? 

    Written by Soule with art by Phil Noto, “The Death of Daredevil” hits October 17th, running from Daredevil #609 to Daredevil #612. Man Without Fear will hit shelves in in January and one has to wonder who will be responsible for the death of Mister Murdock. Will it be Wilson Fisk (who also just happens to be the new mayor of New York City), Bullseye, the Hand, or one of the newer villains introduced by Soule? Whoever pulls the trigger, it will be fascinating to see who wears the horns and what the fallout will be when Marvel, MacKay, and Beyruth unleash The Man Without Fear.

    Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!


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    Vertigo is back, and Hex Wives feels like something that could have fit right in with the glory days of the legendary DC Comics imprint.

    InterviewMarc Buxton
    Oct 7, 2018

    Vertigo Comics is back! As part of the new wave of the DC mature reader imprint, Vertigo will launch a book perfectly made for the label. Hex Wives comes from writer Ben Blacker (Thrilling Adventure Hour) and artist Mirka Andolfo. Let’s let the fine folks at Vertigo describe this daring and progressive look at the world of dark magic and gender conflicts:

    For hundreds of years a war has been waged between a coven of perpetually reincarnating witches and the all-male conspiracy known as the Architects. After the death of the lead Architect in 2005 it seemed the witches had finally defeated their foes.

    Now, 13 years later, waking up in a perfect cookie cutter home at the end of a cul-de-sac in a sunny corner of suburbia, Isadora has no recollection of her past life as the leader of a witch coven, nor her soulmate Nadiya, let alone the centuries-old war she has waged in defense of the soul of America…

    It was our pleasure to sit down with Blacker and Andolfo at New York Comic Con to discuss Hex Wives, the legacy of Vertigo, politics, DC TV and film, and the potential for Hex Wives cosplay.

    Den of Geek: So how does it feel to be part of the new Vertigo?

    Mirka Andolfo: I am very happy to be part of Vertigo. I have been working for Vertigo, but now I am happy to be on this project with Ben because it has such darkness.

    Ben Blacker: I grew up on those Vertigo books. Y, the Last Man, Fables, Preacher, those were my go to.

    Vertigo is 25 years old. The way they’re bringing Vertigo back, it feels like the old Vertigo in so many ways. I’ve gotten to read six of the seven books that are coming out, and all of them feel like stories that the creators are compelled to tell. They have something to say. That’s something the old Vertigo did, but the new Vertigo has a modern social awareness that feels very contemporary. You can’t just tell a story anymore. You have to have something to say, and all the books are doing that. From Mark Doyle to the editors under him, Vertigo is giving us that opportunity.

    For Hex Wives, it’s very much Fables… we do a similar thing where we play on familiar tropes. Pop culture characters you’ve seen before, in Fables' case it was fairy tales, in Hex Wives, it's witches. We’re playing in a similar sandbox. Border Town has a lot in common with Preacher. American Carnage has a lot in common with 100 Bullets.

    In the old days, Vertigo was very progressive, but there really wasn’t much of a push back. Now, politics becomes the story rather than the real story. Is there ever a time you are afraid politics might become bigger than your story?

    Blacker: No. Like I said about all the Vertigo books, they are all books the creators are passionate about. It’s something I care a lot about. I’ve spent the last ten years seeing my wife, my mother, my sisters, my female friends being minimized and ignored in the workplace and social circles. It makes me angry. My father taught me we are all people. That shouldn’t be controversial or in question. I think there’s a lack of empathy in the world…even if you disagree with someone, you still have to try and understand the world from their point of view. To Kill a Mockingbird is a book for white people. It’s a book so white people can understand that we are all equal. If there’s pushback on that, I feel bad for people pushing back.

    So Miss Andolfo, where are you from and what have you enjoyed about Hex Wives?

    Andolfo: I’m from Italy. And I love drawing the suburban houses in the book…so different. They don’t exist in Italy. I did a lot of research. Many TV shows are an inspiration of these stories. I got to see old TV shows.

    further reading: The Triumphant Return of Vertigo

    Blacker: There’s a very interesting effect in the first arc. It’s accomplished by Mirka, an Italian artist, translating these 1950s tropes. What it results in is this uncanny feeling which is exactly what we wanted in this book. The feeling that everything looks perfect but something is very wrong. It just happened to work out perfectly.

    You recently revealed that this book started as a Mod Witch (an old 1960s DC character) project. Talk about that.

    Blacker: The project was around a long time. The image from the first issue, which is a nine-panel grid of our main character getting ready in the morning, was the jumping off image in this book. This innocuous image and the way Mirka drew it, it evokes the uncanny feeling. That was always the jumping off point. When I went into DC, we were pitching different characters and as I was leaving I said, “I have this witch thing; it could work for an existing character.” I knew they had Mod Witch…Gaiman used her…maybe it can be that. We heard back, “We love this; it’s great. We’re relaunching Vertigo, we didn’t tell you, take away Mod Witch, we’ll make it Vertigo.” I was like, “This is happening very fast!” Since then, I have a hundred stories I want to do.

    You live in a world of constant DC media. I know no one writes a comic pitch to be a TV pitch. With that being said, with DC streaming, with CW, with all the platforms exploiting DC properties, is there a thought that Hex Wives could be repositioned?

    Blacker: Absolutely, I write TV. That’s my real job. When I conceived the idea, it was always comics. It’s also part of that I knew what type of story I wanted to tell. To have so few collaborators, not having millions of dollars in budget means you get to tell the story you want to tell. Now that we’re doing that, absolutely, this should be a TV show. I hope I get hired.

    Andolfo: Yes, absolutely. Gal Gadot should be in it. Call her! I tried to create realistic dresses for the girls so it could look awesome on TV.

    Blacker: Mirka has done Harley Quinn and Wonder Woman, but Hex Wives is a realistic book set in our world right now. So all the clothing was designed to be practical. We want people to cosplay.

    Andolfo: We wanted it to be comfortable and cool.

    Blacker: I remember I had a conversation with a prose writer. He was talking about his novels sold to TV studios. He was having issues because he wanted it written it into his contract that things like half the extras would be diverse. That’s not a thing you can build into a Hollywood contract. In Hex Wives, we created a diverse cast, so if we’re made into TV, they have no choice but to hire a diverse cast.

    This is the most classic feel Vertigo book of the new wave…

    Blacker: What does that mean? I’ve heard that a bunch.

    Witches and fairies and horror.

    Blacker: I don’t like fairies.

    Like the early Vertigo books, the Gaiman, that started it. The dark fantasy, the horror. You had Sandman, Books of Magic, The Dreaming.

    Blacker: Yeah, Vertigo does horror, fantasy, and crime.

    But it started with the dark fantasy of Neil Gaiman and things like WitchCraft with James Robinson. Did either of you think, “Let’s go with the classics?”

    Blacker: No, because in part it was a story I was thinking of before taking it to Vertigo. I think if I had known from the start it was a Vertigo book, I would have leaned into it a bit more. I love horror. It’s something I don’t really get to explore. We got to do a comedy version in The Thrilling Adventure Hour, but to approach this stuff that scares me has been the best and most terrifying part of this book.

    What do you love about Ben and what do you love about the book?

    Andolfo: I love that he’s so nice and that the story is great. When I read the script, I want to know what happens next…I can’t wait to see this comic in shops. It’s also great for Halloween. I really like the strong female characters. They are so strong.

    Blacker: That’s what I love about what Mirka has brought to the book. I had an idea in my head what these characters looked like, how they dressed. What I got back was even more. I often talk about artists and it’s really like working with actors…you give them this thing and they put them through the machine and it comes back as something even greater than what you expected. That’s what I’m getting from Mirka. She made me love the characters, so when I’m writing, it makes me want to dig in even deeper.

    Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!


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    Geoff Johns is working on a new Shazam series for DC. Here's everything we know...

    NewsMike CecchiniJim Dandy
    Oct 8, 2018

    Over the last two years, DC Comics has found its soul again. Kicking off with the Rebirth one shot in spring 2016, DC combined a kind of back-to-basics approach to its heroes with a knack for matching the right creative teams to their characters. We've had some potentially all-time great creative runs on Green Arrow, Batman, and The Flash, potentially all-time great comic series such as Mister Miracle, and recent all-star launches like the Brian Michael Bendis Superman books and Scott Snyder's Justice League.

    But where has Shazam been in all of this? Well, the right creative team is finally in place. 

    Coming this November is a new Shazam series from Geoff Johns and Dale Eaglesham (Fantastic Four, Detective Comics). The new book spins out of backups that ran through early arcs of Johns' Justice League, the book that launched the New 52 in 2011. The stories reset Billy Batson and his world, recasting Batson as a mouthy ass with a heart of gold who eventually realizes that his foster siblings are the most important thing to him. He then shares his power with them, creating the new Shazam Family and imbuing each with a piece of his power. The artist on those backups was Johns' art partner on Doomsday Clock, Gary Frank. Likely due to the intricateness of the art on that Watchmen sequel, though, Frank is unavailable for this new Shazam book, so the art duties will be handled by Eaglesham.

    Eaglesham is an industry vet, having drawn some of the best issues in "No Man's Land," the year-long 1999 event in the Batman comics that saw Gotham isolated and removed from America because of an earthquake and a feckless, incompetent government; some of the best issues of Jonathan Hickman's epic Fantastic Four run; and some of the best issues of Johns' run on Justice Society of America

    The cover of the first issue is pretty perfect...

    "The cover kind of tells you the tone of the book,” Johns said at New York Comic Con. “It’s going to be a continuation of the first era of the book, and there’ll be a retelling of the origin, with the Rock of Eternity… I always try to make my books new-reader-friendly...We’re going to  lean more into the magic, the powers of Shazam. When Billy starts exploring the Rock of Eternity, he’ll find doorways to other places. We’re going to feature Mr. Mind and Dr. Sivana.”

    And check out a bunch of the preview art revealed at NYCC!

    And here's the official synopsis:

    Teenager turned super-hero Billy Batson struggles to balance school and superheroics! (Guess which one is more fun?) But when Shazam unlocks a shocking secret deep within the Rock of Eternity, it challenges everything he knows about the worlds of magic and his family’s future as its champions! Also, witness the bizarre team-up of Dr. Sivana and Mr. Mind as they set off to build a society all their own! Don’t miss the start of an epic run in the making as “Shazam and the Seven Realms” begins!

    Johns recently freed up from his executive duties to focus more on writing and was the writer of the New 52 Shazam reboot, which is the basis for the 2019 movie starring Zachary Levi in the title role. Usually, when there's a movie about to drop, DC puts together a big launch for a character, so we're likely to see something special when this new Shazam series hits on November 21.

    Mike Cecchini is the Editor in Chief of Den of Geek. You can read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @wayoutstuff.

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


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    Titans #27 does a ton of work in the greater DC Universe.

    NewsJim Dandy
    Oct 8, 2018

    There's a weird convergence of events going on at DC right now with a ton of implications for Titans.First, in Heroes in Crisis, Wally and Arsenal die in the inital attack on Sanctuary. Then, just before Nightwing#50, Dick gets shot in the head in Batman. And we're about to head into Justice League: Drowned Earth,a big Aquaman/Atlantis crossover that promises us a return of Tempest in the next issue.

    So this preview that DC sent over of Titans#27 is a break from the new status quo of the team, traveling the Earth looking for new metahumans created by the breakdown of the Source Wall in Justice League: No Justice. Insead, they process all of the chaos foisted on the team by the deaths and maimings. Well, one of the deaths - Wally is conspicuously absent from the mourning here, but he's probably mourned later and not a part of the plot for the rest of Heroes in Crisisnope no way no how.

    Aaaaanyway here's what DC has to say about Titans #27from Dan Abnett, Brent Peeples and Matt Santorelli.

    TITANS #27 written by DAN ABNETT
    art by BRENT PEEPLES and MATT SANTORELLI
    enhanced foil cover by CLAYTON HENRY
    variant cover by JOSE LUIS
    Newly awakened metahuman Ionbound suffers a fateful transformation that rocks the Titans team to their core. If they can’t save these Source Wall victims, what good is their latest mission? But does this development hold the key to helping them? Or is it a harbinger of more death and destruction to come? That’s a lot of questions to answer; good thing there are two issues this month to cover all that ground!

    It's shared universe stuff like this that got me into comics as a kid - hunting down all the various editorial references at the bottom of a panel, comparing scenes that appear in multiple comics for clues that I might have missed (like the opening scene here, which also occurs in Green Arrow#45) and then poring over wiki entries about character backstory to understand what makes someone like Donna Troy so glib about death. Ok that might have been a little much for me when I was first starting, but I can assure you it's fun to look into here. Check it out!


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    From Spider-Man and Eddie Brock to Groot and Sub-Mariner 2099, the Venom costume certainly gets around.

    FeatureGavin Jasper
    Oct 8, 2018

    It’s fitting that the Venom costume is a liquid entity because the creature and the Venom identity have been used for all sorts of different roles. Spider-Man’s edgy new costume, Evil Spider-Man, violent antihero, corrupt government soldier, rogue government agent, space knight, and so on.

    With the big Venommovie now in theaters, let’s look at all the different heroes and villains that have worn the spidery blob. I’ve split it into three different types. We have the main hosts, such as Spider-Man and anyone who was treated as actual Venom in the mainstream books. Then there are the others, who wore the costume in continuity, but are considered more like footnotes. Lastly, it’s the ones that happened in alternate realities.

    SPIDER-MAN (PETER PARKER)

    Back in the '80s, Marvel had their big Secret Wars event, created to sell toys and ultimately shaping how Big Two comics would be designed for decades to come. In an attempt to give the story extra importance, they used it as an excuse to change up Spider-Man’s costume into a black and white ensemble with some cool extras like unlimited webbing that came out of the back of his hands instead of the wrists.

    Fighting it out on Battleworld, Spider-Man’s red and blue costume got shredded up and he found what he thought to be a machine that stitches new outfits. What he unknowingly got was an alien parasite kept in a prison. It jumped onto him and took to him, wanting to live in a symbiotic relationship.

    While later versions of the story – especially in different media – would focus on how it made Spider-Man more aggressive, the big deal was more that it was controlling his body in his sleep and the very idea of it being alive freaked Peter out something fierce. Spider-Man rid himself of the creature, only to be antagonized by it for years.

    further reading: The Many Spider-Men of the Spider-Verse

    In main continuity, he became the host for Venom during the time when Peter’s body had the mind of Doc Ock. That led to a cool take where he had goo-based octopus tentacles coming out of him. He also had Eddie Brock loan him the symbiote at the end of Dan Slott's Amazing Spider-Man run in order to combat the Carnage-clad Green Goblin. Out of continuity, he became the host in one of the early Spider-Girl issues and in a disturbing What If storyline where it took over Peter’s cocooned body from The Other and transformed him into "Poison."

    EDDIE BROCK

    When people think of Venom, they mainly think of Eddie and the movie will solidify that more than ever. A journalist, Eddie Brock’s life took a bad turn when he misreported on a masked murderer named the Sin-Eater and got the identity wrong. Acting like the antithesis of Peter Parker, he shifted the responsibility and blamed this tragic mistake on Spider-Man rather than himself or the unfairness of the world. When praying for forgiveness for considering suicide while at a church, Spider-Man’s discarded symbiote jumped onto him.

    From there, the two brought out the worst in each other and fueled their mutual hate-on for Spider-Man. Venom became Spider-Man’s cool, new, popular villain for several years, constantly stalking him in his personal life. Then for a time he got over his flawed axe-to-grind and moved to San Francisco to become a murderous vigilante.

    Venom’s time as Lethal Protector lasted five years and had a big collection of miniseries that was secretly a sixty-issue ongoing (restarting at #1 whenever a new arc started). As an antihero, Venom was essentially a less-competent Punisher. A monster using his vigilante status to justify his bloodlust, all while seeing himself as Adam West Batman.

    Further reading: A Beginner's Guide to Venom Comics Reading Order

    Brock went back to being a thorn in Spider-Man’s side, but not for long, as he simply stopped showing up in comics for years. When he did come back, it was for the sake of passing the torch to the next host.

    Since then, Eddie’s been given a new lease on life as Anti-Venom and later Toxin. Neither identity lasted too long and he eventually rubber-banded back to being Venom.

    PATRICIA ROBERTSON

    Ugh. This catastrophe.

    In the early 2000s, Marvel was doing their Tsunami imprint and one of the books to come out of it was an eighteen-issue Venomongoing by Daniel Way. It had incredibly little to do with Eddie Brock and instead was a rather mean-spirited mess of a series that didn’t get referenced again for about fifteen years.

    Here’s the gist of the plot and I swear I’m not making any of this up: the biblical story of Noah’s Ark was inspired by a bunch of nanites from space coming down and plotting to wipe out all of humanity. The nanites decided at the last second not to and left, but a handful of them stuck around and didn’t get the memo. So they spent centuries laying low in the form of a man with a bushy mustache, biding their time. Their master plan was to wait for an alien symbiote to be loose on Earth and then use it to cause the apocalypse. Somehow.

    In a fight with the Fantastic Four, Venom lost his tongue. A random dude found it and tried to sell it on eBay, but it was immediately stolen away by shadowy government people led by the bushy mustache nanites man. The tongue was used to clone the Venom costume and it was let loose in an arctic lab in a blatant ripoff of John Carpenter’s The Thing. Army lieutenant Patricia Robertson survived the massacre thanks to the help of The Suit, an Agent Smith knockoff with a weaponized smartphone.

    He is also made of nanites.

    Patricia ultimately became the host for the Venom clone and got jerked around and shit on far more than your average superhero character with absolute zero catharsis. This all led to an abrupt ending where Eddie Brock’s Venom symbiote merged with Patricia’s and the evil nanite man was all, “Heh heh. All according to plan.”

    Further reading: 15 Craziest Venom Moments in Marvel History

    He was never mentioned again, nor was Patricia. We didn’t see if she died, escaped, or what.

    ANGELO FORTUNATO

    Angelo did not last long at all, but he came with enough fanfare that he was sort of a big deal, mainly because of the Mark Millar/Frank Cho creative team behind him. Eddie Brock was slowly dying of cancer and decided he just wanted to end it all. Knowing that the symbiote would just find another host, he decided to use that as a final act of goodness by auctioning it off to the criminal underworld and giving that money to charity.

    Angelo Fortunato was the lacking son of a high-ranking mobster. The idea was that the symbiote would make a man out of him and he liked the idea because it meant girls would write fanfiction about him.

    ...Mark Millar wrote this, remember.

    As the new Venom, Angelo went after Spider-Man and did pretty well for himself, but the moment Spider-Man was able to get an advantage, Angelo folded and tried to escape. The symbiote – disgusted with his cowardice – removed itself from his body and sought out a new host.

    Further reading: Venom, Riot, and the Life Foundation Symbiotes Explained

    Angelo was in mid-swing during that decision. He...ummm...he did not survive.

    MAC GARGAN

    Gargan spent many years as the Scorpion and during the Marvel Knights Spider-Man storyline that introduced Angelo Fortunato, Gargan reappeared as finally free of his green armor. Acting as a henchman for Norman Osborn, he had a non-violent confrontation with Spider-Man and was apparently going to be refitted with a new, better Scorpion suit.

    Instead, the Venom symbiote found him. Gargan gladly became the new host, much to Osborn’s initial chagrin. As time would show, Venom would be Osborn’s go-to goon and would serve him as both a Thunderbolt and a Dark Avenger.

    further reading: Who is Carnage?

    In a time when Carnage was believed to be dead and Eddie Brock had his own thing going on, it made sense to have Gargan as a brutal, purely evil Venom with no shades of gray. While a bit of an afterthought in Dark Avengers, he did have his own miniseries called Sinister Spider-Man that was absolutely brilliant and featured having a tiny dog thrown into his eye via Bullseye.

    With the end of Dark Reignand Osborn’s time in power, the government decided to just remove the alien costume and figure it out from there. Mac Gargan went back to being the Scorpion and nobody’s cared about him since.

    EUGENE “FLASH” THOMPSON

    Formerly Peter Parker’s high school bully and later his rehabilitated friend, Flash Thompson was reintroduced with a story that showed him as a soldier losing his legs in Iraq. The government decided to make him the new host for Venom, though with enough precautions. He could only wear the symbiote for 24 hours before being separated. As Agent Venom, he did the government’s dirty work while keeping it a secret from loved ones.

    As this new Venom starred in his first of two ongoings, they played up his own addiction to Venom’s powers (namely the power to walk) and how it related to his preexisting alcoholism. This is something only vaguely touched in the Brock days, since most times he was separated from the creature and was forced to rebond, he treated it like a recovering addict having alcohol poured down his throat against his will.

    Flash’s initial status quo didn’t last too long and he became a fugitive from the law for a bit. By working alongside Captain America and earning Cap’s trust, he ended up getting a spot on the Secret Avengers. Shortly after, he joined the Thunderbolts until Cap asked him to join up with the Guardians of the Galaxy.

    When on Earth, Flash kept the symbiote in check via drugs and appealing to its nature, but in space, the costume became more erratic. Turns out it just needed to go back to its home planet and Bendis wrote a big pile of retcon about how the symbiotes are called Klyntar and they’re actually quite peaceful, but sometimes they need to be recalibrated. The symbiote got cleansed, lost all memories of most of its hosts, became docile, and started looking like something out of Ben 10. Afterwards, Flash started having solo space adventures as the Agent of the Cosmos.

    His second ongoing just ended with him back on Earth, where the two ended up splitting up. Flash has moved on and found a new identity as Agent Anti-Venom.

    LEE PRICE

    When the symbiote was separated from Flash Thompson, it was hungry, weak, and desperate for a new host. It wanted to do heroic things for the good of humanity, so of course it ended up getting stuck with a man who wanted none of that. Lee Price was a former army ranger with intent to not only be part of the criminal underworld, but to one day run it. Bending the symbiote to his will, he made plans to climb up the ladder and gradually take over New York City.

    This Venom seemed short-lived at first as his brand new series was more of a means to reunite Eddie Brock and the symbiote. Lee was put in prison for a stretch until being let off on a technicality. He and his gang captured the Venom sidekick Mania and stole her costume. Lee Price became Maniac and made another go at ruling the world of crime. Even though this led to him having a "final form" of being a giant version of Venom, he was still taken down by the team of Spider-Man, Agent Anti-Venom, Venom, and Black Cat.

    SHE-VENOM (ANN WEYING)

    Ann was Eddie Brock’s ex-wife. We never got to know too much about their married life, but Ann always held a candle for Eddie and hoped he’d get well. As a lawyer, she became the target of a new Sin-Eater, who put her in critical condition. Venom rescued his ex and took her to his sewer hideout, but her internal damage was too much and she was moments from death.

    Eddie coaxed the symbiote into bonding with Ann and healing her. While that was happening, a couple of scavengers broke in and beat down Eddie. Ann, in the form of the voluptuous She-Venom, horrifically tore the two interlopers to pieces. It’s suggested that she was a more violent host than even Eddie. When she split from the alien, she was disgusted by her actions and blamed her ex-husband for putting her in that position.

    Ann donned the costume once more and her experiences as the host drove her to madness. She became a total shut-in and Eddie’s intent to patch things up (along with seeing Spider-Man swing by the window in his black threads) caused her to go over the edge and she killed herself.

    SCARLET SPIDER (BEN REILLY)

    Spider-Man was briefly able to talk some sense into Eddie and convinced him that maybe the symbiote was clouding his judgment. Eddie figured the least he could do was spend some time separated from the costume and told it to get lost. The symbiote let out a sonic howl of loneliness, which accidentally alerted the rest of its race that it was on Earth.

    further reading: Complete Guide to Marvel Easter Eggs in the Venom Movie

    This was many years before Bendis’ take on the whole Klyntar race being good, so instead we got a big symbiote invasion in New York. Coincidentally, Bendis would also write a symbiote invasion in New York storyline that ignored this.

    Spider-Man, Scarlet Spider, and Eddie Brock worked together and Scarlet Spider appeared to have a seventh sense about what was going on. They later discovered that although it hadn’t fully bonded to him, the symbiote was posing as his sweatshirt and was feeding him info. Eddie reluctantly recombined with the symbiote and the three went and fought off the invasion.

    WOLVERINE (JAMES HOWLETT)

    Yeah, so back to that Daniel Way story about the nanites and the Venom clone. After the Thingstoryline, the Venom clone was loose in Canada and Wolverine happened to be hanging out there because, you know, Wolverine is everywhere. The whole storyline was peak Wolverine bullshit, since Wolverine had a nuke dropped on him and all it did was knock his shirt off. Then The Suit zapped him and put his super-powered cell phone into Wolverine’s chest cavity.

    further reading: Venom Post-Credits Scenes Explained

    On the hunt for Venom, Wolverine was ambushed by the costume and was overwhelmed. It took him over with no problem and found itself the perfect host, considering Wolverine’s healing factor and never-ending adrenaline. WolVenom attacked Patricia Robertson, but then The Suit’s cell blasted it from inside Wolverine’s body, causing the costume to evacuate and ultimately attach to Robertson.

    Wolverine grumbled, “Can you hear me now?” because we all have to suffer sometimes.

    MS. MARVEL (CAROL DANVERS)

    Brian Reed really, really wanted to make Peter Parker + Carol Danvers a thing. Just him. When Siegewas going on, there was a collection of one-shots about stuff going on during the penultimate battle before the Void became the final endboss. One of these stories, written by Reed, had Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel take on Mac Gargan Venom.

    Ms. Marvel beat him fairly easily and simply tore Gargan from the symbiote like she was pulling someone’s towel off. The symbiote then simply attached itself to Carol and took over her mind. What we got was a flying Venom with fiery Kirby dots exploding out her head. Spider-Man fought his possessed friend and freed Carol via kicking her into some power lines.

    The symbiote then went back to Gargan and the big battle continued.

    RED HULK (THADDEUS ROSS)

    Remember the New Fantastic Four? That thing where Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hulk, and Ghost Rider briefly replaced the actual Fantastic Four as some kind of preemptively meta look at how Marvel teams would work in the future? During Rick Remender’s Venomrun, they did a storyline called Circle of Four that gave us what was essentially the Dark New Fantastic Four. We had Flash Thompson Venom, X-23, Red Hulk, and that crappy female Ghost Rider that nobody cares about.

    They ended up teaming together to fight Blackheart, who at one point fought them with the Bizarro Dark New Fantastic Four. Comics rule.

    After our heroes were taken out by Blackheart’s forces, they were brought back by Mephisto. In order to hit Blackheart with everything they had, they went with the most ridiculously awesome idea ever by having Red Hulk possessed by both the Spirit of Vengeance and the Venom symbiote. Too bad there was no easy way to give him Wolverine claws, but such is life.

    The pure brute force alone didn’t stop Blackheart, but they ultimately beat him and saved the world. Red Hulk’s upgrades were returned back to their proper hosts and they all went their separate ways. The problem, noticed only by Daimon Hellstrom, was that all four heroes were marked by Mephisto’s demonic magic.

    Which brings us to...

    MANIA (ANDI BENTON)

    Before his space adventures, Flash moved out of New York City and went to Philadelphia, where he became a high school gym coach. Andrea Benton was both a neighbor and a student with a chip on her shoulder. She was also quickly aware that Flash was secretly Venom.

    Venom’s arch-nemesis Jack O’Lantern appeared at Flash’s apartment complex to cause trouble and murdered Andi’s father. Venom attempted to protect her from noxious gas, but the symbiote did more than that. It split itself and bonded with her. As Mania, she became Venom’s angry, teenage sidekick.

    Flash later discovered that there was a reason why the symbiote split itself. In order to appease Flash, the symbiote figured it would spit the clone symbiote (from the Patricia Robertson series) back out and onto Andi. The clone symbiote was carrying the mark of Mephisto, meaning it was no longer Venom’s problem. Flash didn’t see it like that.

    Venom and Mania remained a team and they even discovered that one of the silver linings was Mania had control over demons. When Venom went to space, Mania gradually lost control. Venom was able to bring her back to her senses and promised he’d find a way to cure her. Eventually, Lee Price stole the symbiote from her and became Maniac. Regardless, Andi retained her demon powers and currently uses them to help keep the peace in Philly.

    US AGENT (JOHN WALKER)

    Ooooookay. This one is a little weird.

    In the beginning of Jeff Parker Thunderboltsrun (which eventually became Dark Avengers), US Agent took some serious body damage. He lost both an arm and a leg during the Siegetie-in. Afterwards, he became this badass prison warden who could mess up a room full of prisoners regardless of how much biology he was missing.

    During the final arc, US Agent and the Dark Avengers crew were stuck in a rewritten Earth where New York City was split apart by a dystopian superhero gang war. In this world, Hank Pym had been experimenting on the Venom symbiote and effectively lobotomized it. Dark Avengers member and Scarlet Witch stand-in Toxie Doxie used Venom to attach itself to US Agent and grow back his missing limbs, returning him to the status quo.

    DEADPOOL (WADE WILSON)

    The Deadpool/Venom connection has been done a few times. The first was a comedic series of backup stories in What Ifcomics that showed a reality where Deadpool became the host for Venom. It gave him an evil jheri curl and became a commentary for event comics and...man, it was out there.

    In a somewhat more canon appearance, Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars revealed that Wade was actually there for the initial '80s event and everyone forgot about it due to a reality-altering wish from an emotional and heartbroken Wasp. One moment showed that prior to Spider-Man stumbling upon the alien costume, Deadpool tried it on first. It was a brief melding as the Klyntar couldn’t handle Deadpool’s mind. The suggestion was that he probably warped the symbiote’s personality before anyone else.

    Cullen Bunn has revisted the idea of Venompool a few more times. Back in Black showed that in-between Peter Parker and Eddie Brock, the symbiote did join Wade again for a short while to help him fight with and against 80s staple characters. They split up due to their disagreements with whether or not to kill Spider-Man and it was revealed that Deadpool convinced Eddie Brock to visit the fateful church in the first place.

    Otherwise, the connection was brought up in Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe Again, which was secretly part of Old Man Logan continuity. In it, Deadpool killed Eddie Brock, reunited with the symbiote, devoured Spider-Man, and then told the creature to go away. There was also a Venompool in the Venomversestoryline. Although he was infected by a Poison creature (more on that later), he retained his mind and sacrificed himself to stop the bad guys.

    GROOT

    As mentioned earlier, there was a Guardians of the Galaxy story based on Venom going back to the costume’s planet of origin. It didn’t make the trip without conflict. Joined with Flash, Venom became more unpredictable until a fight with the other Guardians finally nullified the threat. They kept the goo in a containment jar, which easily escaped when carried by Groot.

    Constantly shouting, “I AM VENOM!” the new hybrid alien took on the other Guardians of the Galaxy until being knocked out by Drax.

    ROCKET RACCOON

    The symbiote left Groot and the others figured he’d just go back and find Flash’s unconscious body. Instead, it leaked onto Rocket from the vents above and took him over, looking like some kind of Venomized Sonic the Hedgehog.

    I checked Google Image Search for fanart of that very idea. There’s a lot of it and I’m really not far off.

    The possessed Rocket, speaking a bit more clearly than the previous host, insisted that everyone get off the ship ASAP. He admitted that he didn’t want to kill anyone, but he needed to commandeer the ship immediately.

    Then it got really interesting...

    DRAX THE DESTROYER

    Although Quill warned him not to, Drax decided that grabbing Rocket from behind was a good idea. Nope. The costume slinked off Rocket and jumped onto Drax. The issue ended with the cliffhanger image of Symbiote Drax looking metal as fuck.

    By the beginning of the next issue, Flash woke up to find everyone unconscious except for the victorious Drax. Smiling madly, Drax basked as they arrived in the Klyntar homeworld. Through Drax, the symbiote said some cryptic stuff about their journey to Flash before leaving Drax’s body.

    Drax didn’t take this well and nearly murdered Flash until Quill talked him down.

    MERCURIO THE 4D MAN

    During Flash’s short-lived adventures as an Agent of the Cosmos, he quickly came into conflict with the obscure Thor villain Mercurio. An interstellar conqueror, Mercurio’s plans were thwarted by Venom a couple times, so he sent a murderous space panda named Pik Rollo to take care of this new thorn in his side. Rollo – blackmailed due to her son being captive on Mercurio’s ship – ended up striking up a deal with Venom, which included a fake back-stabbing. As part of the plan, Venom was captured.

    Mercurio stripped the costume from Flash and wore Venom himself. Unbeknownst to Mercurio until it was too late, this was all a trick for Venom to uncover information via bonding. Venom split from Mercurio and viciously beat him down until Flash pleaded with him to stop. Although they successfully tricked Mercurio, being part of such an evil being returned some old habits to the Venom symbiote, as its addiction to rage and violence started to bubble back to the surface.

    OLD MAN LOGAN

    I’m splitting hairs, but I’m not even sure which sub-list to toss this one. It’s a character from an alternate future thrown into another alternate future, only it’s as a member of a mainstream X-Men team.

    Anyway, during The Apocalypse Wars, the X-Men got stranded a thousand years into the future. As always, Earth was a dystopian mess, this time run by Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen: Colossus, Deadpool, a female Moon Knight, and the Venom symbiote.

    Using the Fastball Special, Colossus threw the blobby creature onto Old Man Logan. After a couple of issues, Jean Grey realized the secret wasn’t to try and mentally coax Logan, but to mentally attack the alien itself. With Venom purged from Old Man Logan’s body, Iceman froze it in place.

    DEVIL DINOSAUR

    In the brilliantly titled "Land Before Crime," the Eddie Brock version of Venom found out that Stegron had an army of dinosaur people living underneath New York. He teamed up with Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur to stop them, but Stegron had the ability to mentally control Devil Dinosaur. At first, Venom wanted to call it quits, but he saw a kindred spirit in the relationship between Moon Girl and her dinosaur friend and came up with a plan. Venom allowed Devil Dinosaur to eat him as a rope-a-dope. The symbiote attached itself to Devil Dinosaur, undoing Stegron's psychic hold. Venom Dinosaur went on a rampage long enough for Moon Girl to foil Stegron's plans to turn everyone in NYC into dinosaurs.

    THE INKLINGS

    When Lee Price became Maniac, he gained a new power. By coughing or spitting on someone with his symbiote, he would mask them with an extension of said symbiote and it would put them under his control. He used his mind control to take over various super-criminals. His victims included Black Cat, Scorpion, Hammerhead, Looter, 8-Ball, Killer Shrike, The Brothers Grimm, and the Melter. He also took over Spider-Man for a time. The drawback of his power was that once someone was free of his hold, he could not control them all over again.

    When faced with the team of Spider-Man, Agent Anti-Venom, Venom, and Black Cat, Maniac absorbed all of his inkling masks into himself and became a giant.

    SPIDER-WOMAN (JESSICA DREW)

    After defeating Maniac, the Venom symbiote was finally cured of its mental instability. Venom went back to fighting crime, though chose not to kill the lesser criminals. Spider-Woman didn't see this as a reason to let him off the hook and tried to capture Venom a couple times. At the time, the symbiote was carrying a secret from Eddie: it was pregnant and scared that its child would turn out evil and vicious like its other children. Only with Eddie as a host did it feel optimistic that its offspring could be brought up well. The symbiote briefly joined onto Spider-Woman to show her the truth. Spider-Woman had recently given birth herself and understood to an extent. For the time being, she would allow Venom to roam free.

    TEL-KAR

    The Kree and the Skrulls have been warring with each other for so many years and while the Kree pride themselves as being the ultimate military species, the Skrulls have the advantage of shape-shifting. An idea came to acquire that ability for the Kree empire. A warrior named Tel-Kar went to the symbiote homeworld and discovered an outcast. Considering it a perfect choice, Tel-Kar became the first host to wear what would one day be known as the Venom costume. He went undercover as a Skrull, but turned on them the moment he was tasked with killing Kree refugees. Going into a suicide run, Tel-Kar made the symbiote leave him so they could not be captured together. Tel-Kar fought the Skrulls head-on, but survived in the end.

    Years later, he'd come to Earth to reclaim his old partner. Forcing the symbiote to rejoin him against its will, it was revealed that Tel-Kar plans on using it to commit genocide against the entire Skrull race.

    HULK (BRUCE BANNER)

    What If the Alien Costume Possessed Spider-Man told the tale of Peter Parker waiting too long before having the Fantastic Four investigate his animated black tights. By that time they got him under the microscope, it was too late and the creature had already bonded to him. It took over his body completely and escaped, staying under the radar so Reed Richards couldn’t track it down.

    After several days, the controlled Spider-Man found the Hulk going on a monstrous rampage. Knowing a good meal when it saw one, the symbiote left Spider-Man behind as it jumped onto Hulk, who could do nothing to save himself. Symbiote Hulk laughed and jumped off into the distance. Peter’s body was so used up by this point that the situation rendered him into an old man who died within a day.

    While Hulk may seem like a perfect host, the symbiote was only using him as a stepping stone...

    THOR (ODINSON)

    It didn’t take long for Thor to come across Symbiote Hulk. While the symbiote insisted that what happened to Spider-Man was an accident and that it was actually helping Banner with his Hulk issues, Thor wasn’t fully trusting and they got in a big fight. Thor won, but the symbiote simply attached itself to him, which was the plan all along.

    The two entities battled mentally while hiding out inside Mount Rushmore. Reed Richards sent Black Bolt after them, who was able to overpower Symbiote Thor with one word. The symbiote was then destroyed by Black Cat, armed with a sonic gun.

    PUNISHER (FRANK CASTLE)

    One of the best What If issues, What If Venom Had Possessed the Punisher, showed a reality where Frank Castle stopped at that one church moments before Eddie Brock. He had Spider-Man on the mind at the time and the symbiote latched onto him. Initially, Frank didn’t think much about the symbiote’s origins. He figured it was some slick SHIELD technology and went with it. He even did away with the webbing ability and had the costume shoot bullets made of symbiote goo.

    This comic came out years before Garth Ennis got his mitts on Frank, so while he was depicted as a pragmatic mass murderer, he wasn’t the grindhouse sadist that he is now. In other words, it was treated as a big deal that he was far more gruesome with his kills, such as biting off half of Tombstone’s skull and spitting it out.

    The symbiote gradually took over his life. He started lashing out against Microchip and found himself trying to kill Spider-Man against his will. After being hit with a sonic blast, Frank was able to go into a dreamlike state and confront the symbiote mentally. In the end, Frank made it an ultimatum: the symbiote would do what he wanted and get a piece of the violent action Frank’s known for, but if it didn’t listen to his orders, he’d kill them both. The symbiote agreed to the terms and the Punisher escaped capture from the heroes by using the symbiote to glide into the night.

    Another version of Symbiote Punisher would show up in Edge of Venomverse. This take was that the symbiote agreed to help Frank win his war on crime as long as Frank would agree to help him commit one murder. That turned out to be Spider-Man. Frank resisted the situation, but never got a chance to fight Spider-Man due to the events of Venomversekicking in.

    VENOM 2099 (KRON STONE)

    "Kron Stone! Meet the Kron Stone! Just your average man of vill-ai-ny! From the... '90s future...he’s a man from altered hi-sto-ry!!!!"

    Kron was the evil half-brother of Miguel O’Hara and made his debut by killing the family of Punisher 2099 and getting away with it. I mean, getting away with it as much as you can before Frank to the Future stabs you and leaves you dying in a sewer.

    Luckily for Kron, the Venom symbiote had been nesting in that sewer for decades, trying to evolve itself. It bonded with Kron and gave him the usual Venom perks, along with acidic touch and a fully liquid body. So, like, a T-1000 made of xenomorph spit.

    Hearing that his father Tyler Stone was hospitalized from an assassination attempt, Venom 2099 went to go finish the job, which caused him to cross paths with Miguel, otherwise known as Spider-Man 2099. The two fought it out for several issues, notably causing the death of Miguel’s love interest Dana (which simplified Miguel’s love triangle predicament).

    Once Spider-Man 2099 figured out the symbiote’s weakness to sound, the authorities just pinpointed Venom 2099’s location and focused all the speakers in the area on him. Miguel then beat him down and prepared to kill the creature until discovering Kron underneath.

    Due to the future’s lack of prisons, Miguel just kept Kron in a tube in his lab and had him separated from the costume.

    SUB-MARINER 2099

    Late into the Spider-Man 2099 ongoing, our hero fought the future’s Namor counterpart, an Atlantean terrorist. He was also brought in and made a captive in Miguel’s lab.

    In the final issue, Sub-Mariner 2099 escaped and the chaos from all the armed guards trying to stop him caused the Venom symbiote to be released. It jumped onto Sub-Mariner 2099, gave him teeth at the end of his tongue, and they escaped into the ocean.

    Being that it was the end of the comic, they never followed up on that.

    SPIDER-GIRL (MAYDAY PARKER)

    In the alternate future of Earth-X and its less-interesting sequels, Peter and Mary Jane’s daughter became the host for Venom and at some point tamed the beast while taking its name. Just one of the many reasons why she and her father didn’t get along.

    The symbiote itself factored in very, very rarely in the stories outside of a one-shot called Universe-X: Spidey, which involved the psychic villain Spiders-Man (not a typo!) putting Peter into a comatose state where he lived out his fantasies. Using her symbiote, Mayday attached herself to her father and dove into his reality. She intended to save him, but seeing that his guilt-based fantasy was to have a son with Gwen instead of a daughter with MJ kind of broke Mayday for a moment and she almost beat Spiders-Man to death until Peter woke up and stopped her.

    Afterwards, father and daughter bonded via bad jokes at dire situations.

    NORMIE OSBORN

    Speaking of Spider-Girl, the Venom symbiote had a bit of a Joker in Dark Knight Returns thing going on in the MC2 Universe. It was dormant for years until it found out there was a new spider-person swinging around and it woke back up. It ended up possessing the middle-aged Peter the first time around, creating a Spider-Man/Venom hybrid.

    Normie Osborn was the son of Harry and started out as a villain, obsessed with avenging his bloodline and killing the Parkers. Mayday helped him get over these feelings, although he still had a body full of hate-filled tattoos. Normie became a big brother figure to Spider-Girl, but was eventually bonded to the Venom symbiote against his will.

    Normie overcame its influence and insisted not to have it destroyed. He became a hero for a while, albeit one with no codename because he wasn’t comfortable being called “Venom.” It was a moot point, since by the time they hit Spider-Girl #100, they ended up killing off the costume. It sacrificed itself to help Spider-Girl defeat the Hobgoblin, playing up that Normie as a host helped reform the creature.

    Coincidentally, before leaving Normie, the symbiote’s parting gift was removing all of his tattoos.

    HUMAN TORCH (JOHNNY STORM)

    In the Marvel Adventures universe, they did their own lighthearted version of the Spider-Man black costume story. In this take, after the Fantastic Four removed the symbiote from Spider-Man’s body, Human Torch decided he’d try it on for size. Upon turning on his powers, the creature freaked out from the fire and escaped.

    KULAN GATH

    This one’s probably not considered canon, but right now I don’t care enough to argue either way.

    Ancient wizard Kulan Gath transformed Manhattan into something more fitting to the Hyborian Age. Everyone started talking like Thor outside of Spider-Man and for whatever reason, Venom (Eddie version) decided that Kulan was totally worth working with as part of his murder vigilante ways. Then Mary Jane became the host for Red Sonja's soul/existence, which included ripping off her dress to reveal her chainmail loin cloth underneath.

    Kulan became intrigued by the dark, powerful properties that came with the Venom symbiote and stole it from Eddie in a fight. As Kulan Venom, he...um...I don’t really know. Having a symbiote doesn’t really help out much when you’re a sorcerer. It’s like if Magneto became Venom. What’s he going to do, throw metal around angrier?

    If anything, the so-called upgrade was Kulan’s undoing. When Eddie begged the symbiote to return to him, it threw Kulan off and allowed Spider-Man and Red Sonja to defeat him and send things back to normal.

    MARY JANE PARKER

    In the '00s, Marc Sumerak and Gurihiru did an all-ages miniseries of Spider-Man/Power Pack, a cute story about Spider-Man teaming up with the youthful Power siblings. In the third issue, it showed Spider-Man defeating Venom with a sonic blast gun early on. Although Eddie Brock was taken into custody, the symbiote wasn’t apprehended. Instead, it was taken in by a freshly-fired fashion artist. He had the creature altered in a way that he could monetize it.

    Six months later, Mary Jane was one of four models working for said fashion dude. Peter brought Power Pack with him for the fashion show. The models’ outfits were able to morph and all was going well until Mary Jane’s dress sensed Peter nearby. All the models became full-on lady Venoms and mindlessly fought against the heroes.

    Lightspeed flew circles around them fast enough to create a sonic boom. That freed the models. Mass Master took over the DJ booth and maxed out the volume to destroy what was left of the symbiote outfits.

    Being that it was an all-ages comic, Mary Jane and the others were wearing slips under the skintight symbiotes. That had to chafe.

    ENERGIZER (KATIE POWER)

    After that fashion show incident, Spider-Man and the Power Pack left. Unbeknownst to everyone, a surviving piece of Venom hitchhiked onto Katie Power.

    Soon after, Katie started having nightmares about being Venom and capturing Spider-Man alongside the Sinister Six. Others tried to rationalize the dream, but the truth was that the costume was taking over her body when she slept. They really did have Spider-Man in captivity.

    Despite being down a member, Power Pack and Spider-Man had little issue stopping the Sinister Six and a Half. Spider-Man tricked Rhino into running into Electro, who accidentally zapped all his allies. This fried the symbiote and freed Energizer.

    Afterwards, she felt guilt over what happened, but Spider-Man reassured her that it was all the costume’s doing and none of hers.

    NEST OF PETER PARKER CLONES

    Rick Remender’s What If: Age of Apocalypsewas an exercise in Remender coming up with ridiculous shit and loosely tying it into a narrative. It took place in a reality where Legion accidentally killed both Xavier and Magneto during his time-travel assassination attempt. In the vastly different present, a team of heroes led by Wolverine and Captain America (armed with Mjolnir) would go through a ton of off-the-wall threats like the most badass Four Horsemen of all time: Namor, Storm, Hulk, and Juggernaut.

    At one point the heroes found themselves in a black web where the Venom symbiote had bonded to a nest of Peter Parkers who didn’t seem to have any will of their own. Knowing that they weren’t the real deal, Cap demanded they be destroyed before they moved on to the next bad guy.

    T-REX

    The Venom symbiote has latched onto various different animals over the course of its history. A husky, a bunch of cockroaches, and even a zoo gorilla. But in the dystopian reality of Old Man Logan, Venom went high up the food chain by taking over a tyrannosaurus.

    The story dealt with Wolverine and Hawkeye going on a road trip in a destroyed world where evil won. In one foreboding moment, the Venom symbiote was shown to be watching over them from on top a mountain. Later in the adventure, Venom Rex showed up and gave chase.

    Luckily, the heroes were able to outrun him long enough with the Spider-Mobile until they found Black Bolt, who downed the creature with one word. Basically, Black Bolt is the rock to Venom's scissors.

    CAPTAIN AMERICA (STEVE ROGERS)

    This one can only be assumed, but judging from the weirdness going on around it...

    In the alternate reality where Age of Apocalypse happened, Wolverine became infected with Apocalypse’s powers and megalomaniacal sickness. Calling himself Weapon Omega, this darker Logan had his own super team to carry out his orders. The Black Legion featured a lot of odd mashup and altered characters like Iron Ghost (Iron Man + Ghost Rider), Zombie Sentry (Simon Garth + Sentry), Grimm Chamber (Thing + Chamber), and so on.

    When the mainstream X-Force team visited this reality, one panel showed that one of those Black Legion members was Captain America wearing the Venom symbiote. No information on him outside of that.

    Black Legion was kind of forgotten about in general shortly after that.

    Looking less monstrous, a version of Venom America would lead the resistance in Venomverse.

    CONRAD MARCUS

    With the new, black Ultimate Spider-Man who wasn’t based on a preexisting character, we got a new, black Ultimate Venom who also wasn’t based on a preexisting character.

    At some point, Norman Osborn hired Dr. Conrad Marcus to recreate the accident that created Spider-Man. As far as Marcus knew, his attempts were constant failures. Months later, he found out differently when Betty Brant confronted him for a story and helped him piece together that a missing spider created the new Spider-Man. At the time, Marcus was working at Roxxon and his obsession with knowing more led to him releasing the Venom symbiote and becoming one with it.

    His first acts were murdering Betty and then blowing up an abandoned Osborn Industries lab. Going by Betty’s false information, Venom went after Jefferson Morales, thinking him to be the new Spider-Man. Instead, the actual Spider-Man – Miles Morales, Jefferson’s son – appeared to fight him. Venom escaped into the sewers, though he succeeded in gravely wounding Jefferson.

    He reappeared at the hospital, demanding Jefferson be offered to him. Spider-Man fought him and was briefly consumed by the hulking beast. Miles’ mother Rio, a nurse at the hospital, bought him time to escape and blow up the symbiote from within with a venom blast (fittingly enough). The authorities arrived and riddled Marcus to death with bullets.

    Unfortunately, Rio was shot during the fracas and died in her son’s arms.

    KINGPIN (WILSON FISK)

    Man, the Marvel 100th Anniversary month. I totally forgot you even happened. Everyone did.

    In 2014, Marvel did this thing where various creative teams would put together "100th anniversary" issues of various comics. In other words, a series of one-shots that were supposed to predict what certain comics will be like in the 2060s. Honestly, the only one worth reading is James Stokoe’s trippy Avengersstory.

    Sean Ryan and In-Hyuk Lee teamed up for the Spider-Man issue, which was supposed to be the final chapter of a story arc called “Great Power.” According to the recap, Venom had been biologically upgraded into being the Techno-Symbiote. Eddie Brock tried to become host to it once again, but he and Spider-Man came to realize that it needed to be destroyed. Then Wilson Fisk appeared and shot Eddie.

    The actual issue started from there with Kingpin becoming the host to the futuristic symbiote, all while admitting that he had it created. As the new Venom, Fisk not only had the usual bells and whistles, but he could tap into all sorts of technology. He did that to stalk the underwear-clad Parker through New York City for the remainder of the issue.

    Finally, the two had their final battle in the woods, where Parker shoved a torch into Venom’s face, tore Fisk out, and sat quietly as the Techno-Symbiote was burned to death.

    HAWKEYE (CLINT BARTON)

    As part of the 2015 Secret Warsevent, one of the various alternate-universe-turned-kingdoms was one where Civil War never concluded. It instead led to two civilizations led by Steve Rogers and Tony Stark, constantly unable to reconcile due to an unseen puppet master.

    Mac Gargan was dead in this reality and we’d see a mute Venom working on Captain America’s side. Venom was given just enough panel-time to be treated as a mystery as he joined Peter Parker’s covert mission into Stark’s kingdom. As they faced King Ock (Kingpin’s corpse controlled by Dr. Octopus’ tentacles), Venom quietly appeared behind the threat, created a goo-based bow, and fired Daredevil’s billy club through King Ock’s skull.

    He was finally identified as “Clint” and stopped factoring into the story. I guess that would explain why his symbol looked like an arrowhead.

    SPIDER-QUEEN

    Spider-Island, another Secret Warstie-in, showed a Manhattan where the Spider-Queen’s plot to turn people into spider creatures under her command wasn’t initially foiled. Flash Thompson as Venom became the leader of the resistance and helped save the minds of other heroes by turning them into different kinds of monsters, thereby giving them back their willpower. Captain America became a werewolf, Hulk became a lizard, Captain Marvel a vampire, Iron Man got pumped up with Goblin serum, etc.

    In the final battle, Venom was able to fight through the Spider-Queen’s sonic scream enough to get onto her back. Pleading with the symbiote, Flash convinced it to leave his body and latch onto the queen. Flash got smashed into a wall and took massive internal damage while the Spider-Queen desperately struggled with the symbiote.

    Venom sacrificed itself to weaken the Spider-Queen enough to allow an army of dinosaurs led by Stegron to feed on her. As it died, it swore that Flash was more than just a host to it, but a friend.

    NORMAN OSBORN

    In one of the many alternate realities looked over in Spider-Verse, there was one where Norman Osborn became President of the United States. To help clean out America’s imperfections, he created the Variable Engagement Neurosensitive Organic Mesh for himself and his enforcers.

    That world’s Captain America led a protest against the fascist hybrids. President Osborn’s undoing came from Spider-Man, who weakened the symbiotes with punk rock and brained Osborn with his guitar.

    SENTRY/VOID (ROBERT REYNOLDS)

    This comes from the gnarly multiversal series Contest of Champions. Various heroes and villains from different realities were forced to fight it out as part of a big plot by the Maestro. Amongst the contestants, there was an alternate universe version of Eddie Brock Venom who was driven even more insane after killing Spider-Man. It caused him to start speaking to Peter as if he was there while wearing scraps of the Spider-Man costume around his neck.

    Another hero was the Sentry, who had a tendency to slip into his Void persona. While infamously near-impossible to kill, he and Stick were seemingly wiped out by Punisher 2099’s giant future gun. Afterwards, Punisher 2099 separated the symbiote from Eddie and executed them with the same gun.

    Unchecked, a remainder of the symbiote bonded with a remainder of the Void. An army of savage creatures called Symbioids appeared in its wake, looking much like Venom while having the raw power of the Void. The army did battle with the mainstream universe’s Ultimates, but Maestro eventually gained power over them in a psychic battle.

    During the final battle, Stick revealed that he survived Punisher 2099’s earlier ambush. With the Symbioids nearby, he merged them all together and helped the Sentry break free from within via energy manipulation powers. The experience freed the Sentry of both the Void and the symbiote.

    Afterwards, Sentry was instrumental in bringing down Maestro.

    SPIDER-WOMAN/SPIDER-GWEN (GWEN STACY)

    So, the Spider-Gwen universe. Not really the easiest thing to explain other than Gwen Stacy was bitten by a radioactive spider and everyone else is different from how we know them in main continuity. In one story, Harry Osborn was being turned into a monster via Lizard serum. The Lizard serum was mixed with some of Gwen's essence to create this reality's version of the Venom symbiote. Gwen was quick to tame it, or so she thought. With her father in a coma, she started becoming erratic and went after those responsible. She became wanted by the authorities and although she calmed the creature, the damage was done and she ultimately had to turn herself in.

    X-23 (LAURA KINNEY)

    Now we get to Edge of Venomverse, which showed a bunch of alternate universe Venoms via one-shots or short stories. This one showed that the complex that experimented on Laura Kinney also experimented on the Venom symbiote. During an escape attempt, she unleashed the creature and bonded to it, making escape that much easier and more violent. She then befriended a handful of homeless youths and helped protect them by giving them pieces of the symbiote. When the government agents went after them, the symbiote pieces pulled back into X-23 and she was unceremoniously teleported out of that dimension.

    She was one of the few survivors of Venomverseand returned to her home world.

    GWENPOOL (GWEN POOLE)

    The self-aware heroine became Venom's host in one world, though it wasn't really explained. Instead, we got an amazing team-up story about Gwenpool fighting ninjas, dealing with her evil boss, and trying to hit on Daredevil...all while her symbiote tries to both help her out and give her advice in the form of, "Kill them." Really fun issue, but Gwen's Venomversefate wasn't a happy one.

    GHOST RIDER (ROBBIE REYES)

    Exacting vengeance in a badass muscle car, Robbie Reyes always had to deal with the voice of his evil Uncle Eli in his head, trying to take control. While Robbie tends to have that under control, this version was joined with the Venom symbiote. The three-way war for dominance ended when the symbiote and Eli decided to work together and turned Robbie into nothing more than a "motor." Calling himself "Host Rider," this monstrous entity spent the tie-in hunting down Calvin Zabo and making him suffer with the Penance Kiss.

    Host Rider was pulled away to help with the Venomversesituation, but was forgotten about pretty quickly during the main miniseries.

    NGOZI

    Ngozi was a Nigerian girl who had a promising career as a track star ruined by a bus accident. Resigned to a wheelchair, she was trying to catch a grasshopper one day while ignorant to the Black Panther vs. Rhino fight going on behind her. Whatever it was about, it involved a capsule with the Venom symbiote in it. Said capsule got loose and rolled up to Ngozi's wheelchair. As Rhino killed Black Panther, the symbiote oozed onto Ngozi and told her to run. She instead used her newfound gift to turn herself into a half-woman/half-grasshopper and took down Rhino.

    Soon after, she was put through trials and was accepted as the new Black Panther, replacing T'challa as the ruler and protector of Wakanda.

    DOCTOR DOOM

    Victor Von Doom told the Avengers that he was turning over a new leaf and that he prepared a massive peace accord. Whether he was telling the truth or not was only background as Doom was in the middle of a massive war of willpower with the Venom symbiote. Venom wanted to help him crush his enemies. Doom insisted that, "There is no we." Once the dust settled, the demonic Doom showed himself and revealed that the symbiote was bent to his will. Doom vanished as part of the Venomverseplot, but he'd soon be assimilated by the Poison race.

    EVERYONE ELSE FROM VENOMVERSE

    The plot of Venomversewas that there was a multiversal threat known as Poisons spreading through the worlds. This race was mostly harmless unless it touched a bonded symbiote. Suddenly, it would completely take over, make them stronger, remove their weaknesses, and absorb the host like they were food. The Poisons attempted to conquer the multiverse, led by Poison Thanos and Poison Dr. Doom. Venom hosts from various worlds would be brought in to help fight them, but many would lose and fall into their ranks.

    At the beginning of the miniseries, the resistance included the likes of Spider-Man, Mary Jane, Flash Thompson, Andi Benton, Captain America, Dr. Strange, Old Man Logan, X-23, Ghost Rider, Black Panther, Ant-Man, and Rocket Raccoon. Only a handful of them survived.

    As for listing the Poison hosts...yeah, I'm going to pass.

    VISION AND REED GRIMM

    In an alternate future created by one of Spider-Man and Deadpool's adventures, the Fantastic Four is made up of Valeria Richards, The Last Devil (who carries an Iron Fist's hand on a chain), the rock giant Reed Grimm, and Venom Vision. Venom Vision only seemed to speak in ones and zeroes with only Valeria able to understand it. The team helped the elderly Spider-Man and Deadpool fight a legion of Deadpool LMDs. They were under the control of the LMD messiah Master Matrix.

    The Venom symbiote went for a desperation move by leaving Vision for Reed, but it was no use. The Deadpools tore Vision to pieces. Master Matrix singlehandedly destroyed Reed and Last Devil. Then he created synthetic symbiotes to enhance his LMD army. Before being overtaken, Valeria sent Spider-Man and Deadpool back in time to prevent this future from ever happening.

    PART IV: HONORABLE MENTION

    GALACTUS

    Howard Mackie is a writer who likes to come up with sweet, high-concept ideas and then slink away rather than follow up on it because payoff is hard. When Spider-Man was enjoying his 30th anniversary in the '90s, Mackie penned a storyline about Mysterio messing with Spider-Man's head. The whole thing seemed like an excuse to have a splash page where Galactus appeared to him, clad in the Venom symbiote. So it doesn't really fit in with anywhere else on the list, since it's just Peter Parker tripping balls, but it is such a silly and awesome image that I can't help but include it.

    Gavin Jasper writes for Den of Geek and wonders what kind of horrors would occur if Rogue became Venom. Would she just absorb it and turn into some kind of flesh-colored ooze? Read Gavin's other articles here and follow him on Twitter @Gavin4L


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    From a story about a demonic clown to a haunted hotel, these are the 10 Stephen King horror novels you can't miss!

    FeatureJohn Saavedra
    Oct 9, 2018

    There's no doubt that writer Stephen King is best known for the horror novels that haunt his special corner of American literature. But the extremely prolific writer has also written plenty of dark/epic fantasy, science fiction, literary, mystery, and even romance. In fact, there are plenty of examples of genre-mixing in his writing. Books like Lisey's Story (a truly fantastic read), Duma Key, The Green Mile, The Eyes of the Dragon, Bag of Bones, and The Dark Tower series are fantastic examples of what King can do with just about any genre of fiction. 

    It can be hard to make a distinction between King's true horror books and those that happen to have some scary moments in them. But that's why we're here. We've made a ranked list of ten pure horror novels by King that we think will keep you up for plenty of nights to come. A Halloween treat!

    Related Article: 12 Best Stephen King Movies

    We really tried to focus on novels where horror was at the forefront of the story, where without the scares, the book wouldn't be a book at all. That's why you probably won't see The Dark Tower books or The Stand, largely considered to be the King's magnum opus, on this list. But you should read those, too. 

    Here we go:

    Revival 

    In recent years, the King of Horror has taken an interest in hardboiled detective and science fiction novels. Things like the Detective Bill Hodges trilogy, Under the Dome, and 11/22/63 have been among his latest offerings. But his 2014 novel Revival was a return to form for the writer.

    This homage to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, the cosmic horror tales of H.P. Lovecraft, and Arthur Machen's "The Great God Pan" is quite the revelation, literally and figuratively. The novel tells the story of a Christian minister who uses strange methods to cure the ill. After his wife and son die in a car accident, he denounces God in front of his entire congregation and is forced to leave town. Years later, he's back to bring a dead woman back to "life" in order to learn more about the afterlife. 

    What he discovers on the other side is truly terrifying. Revival is must-read recent King. 

    The Dark Half

    If there's one thing King loves, it's writing books and stories about writers. There have been plenty over the years, including "Secret Window, Secret Garden,""1408," and another novel on this list that we'll get to momentarily, but The Dark Halfis probably the most "autobiographical" of the bunch. 

    You see, King used to write under a pseudonym, Richard Bachman, in order to publish more than one novel a year without overwhelming his audience. The Bachman books consist of a series of gritty novels that were published from 1977 to 1984, and King has revisited the pseudonym since being outed, too.

    Related Article: 10 Best Supernatural Stephen King Villains

    The protagonist in The Dark Halfhas to deal with the death of his own pseudonym in an unexpected way, as his better-selling alter ego comes after the people that tried to kill him off. It's all a fun bit of supernatural horror that includes a lot blood, violence, and some pretty gross body horror. It's an especially fun horror novel if you're a writer...

    Watch The Dark Half on Amazon

    Pet Sematary

    But not as fun as King's ridiculous novel about undead pets. A book that was definitely inspired by EC horror comics (King's early brushes with horror were in the pages of those books), this novel might be classified as a delicious, campy romp with plenty of scares. The novel's B-movie sensibility cannot be understated. 

    In Pet Sematary, a family moves to the small town of Ludlow, Maine, where people bury their dead pets in a special cemetery, which is actually an ancient Micmac Indian burial ground. Obviously, that means that these animals come back to life as evil shadows of themselves.

    Oh, the setup is so perfect. When the family's little two-year-old boy is suddenly killed by a speeding truck, the father decides to bury the boy in the pet cemetery in the hopes that he will be revived. What happens next is what the best campy horror is made of. 

    Watch Pet Sematary on Amazon

    Misery

    King's best book about a novelist is also a great horror story that is still quite relatable today. A disturbing look at fandom, Misery is what happens when a writer's work becomes a mad woman's obsession.

    Paul Sheldon, writer of Victorian-era romance novels, suffers an accident on the road during a snowstorm. He is rescued by Annie Wilkes, a former nurse who is coincidentally Paul's biggest fan. And she's not very happy about the ending of his last book. So Annie decides to kidnap Paul and keep him hostage until he fixes the damage he's done. 

    Further Reading: Stephen King's 10 Best Human Villains

    Imagine being kidnapped by an angry mob of Ghostbusters fans after telling them that the new team will be made up of an all-female cast, and then forced to rewrite the entire script. That's Annie Wilkes. 

    Misery is a fascinating psychological horror tale about the dangers of fandom and a writer's connection to his work. And if you need a great Stephen King movie, the film adaptation is pretty fantastic, as well. 

    Watch Misery on Amazon

    The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

    This slim novel (to King's standards) has plenty in common with a fairty tale, as a little girl finds herself lost in the woods with nothing or no one to help her find her way except what's in her backpack: a bottle of water, two Twinkies, a boiled egg, a tuna sandwich, a bottle of Surge, a poncho, a Game Boy, and a Walkman. Thankfully, King's little protagonist proves to be quite the survivalist as the book progresses. 

    Walking a thin line between an intense examination of loneliness and isolation and a supernatural thriller, as things grow weirder in the woods as time passes, this is a compact horror novel that you can read in one sit-down and you'll get King at his best, as his character exemplifies the meaning of human resilience, even as she begins to hallucinate due to hunger, fear, and thirst. 

    Her love for her baseball idol pitcher Tom Gordon allows her to face her fears and even confront the "God of the Lost." This is a really good one. A few years later, a pop-up book adaptation of this novel was fittingly released.

    Cujo

    Cujo is one of King's more "realistic" novels, featuring a setup that's real enough to send shivers down your spine, especially if you live in the suburbs or ever owned a Ford Pinto... The story goes like this: the Trentons move from New York to Castle Rock, Maine (where nothing good ever happens in the Kingverse). Vic and Donna Trenton, who are having some marital problems, have a four-year-old son named Tad, because children should always be in danger in these books.

    Meanwhile, longtime residents Charity and Brett Chambers have a nice St. Bernard named Cujo that loves chasing wild rabbits in his spare time. During his latest safari, Cujo is bitten on the nose by a rabid bat. And, as you can probably imagine, all hell absolutely breaks loose. 

    The dog kills several people before feasting its eyes on the ultimate prey: a boy and his mother, who have stopped by the Chambers' place in their little Ford Pinto. What follows are very tense moments of terror inside a little car, as a mom tries to protect her son from the rabid terror that awaits them outside.

    King has said in interviews that he doesn't really remember writing Cujo, as he worked on it at the peak of his struggle with drug addiction, but we wish he had. He wrote a fine horror book. Cruel ending and all. 

    Watch Cujo on Amazon

    Salem's Lot

    King's ode to Bram Stoker's Dracula is a classic vampire tale that might even formidably rival the novel it pays homage to. When Kurt Barlow comes to Jerusalem's Lot, Maine (where nothing good happens, either), shit hits the fan, as he preys on the living and ignites an outbreak of vampirism in the town. 

    The only guy who can stop him is, you guessed it, a writer named Ben Mears, who already has a strained relationship with his hometown, which he abandoned years ago. Like a modern team of Draculian vampire hunters, Ben teams up with his new sweetheart Susan, a little boy named Mark, and some other townspeople to take down the vampire and his unholy creations. There's also Father Callahan, this story's version of an incompetent Van Helsing, who loses a lot in the novel, but redeems himself in King's The Dark Towerseries. 

    Related Article: A Reading Guide to Stephen King's Dark Tower Universe

    All in all, this fat novel holds plenty of scares, including a school bus full of vampire children who hunt down the school bus driver who tormented them. We have goosebumps. 

    Watch Salem's Lot on Amazon

    The Shining

    By now, The Shining, along with the other two entries in the top 3 of this list, has become embedded in American pop culture, whether because of King's book or Stanley Kubrick's excellent movie (King would disagree). Either way, this is the novel that never made you want to become a hotel caretaker.

    An alcoholic writer (surprise!) named Jack Torrance brings his wife Wendy and his son Danny to his new job as the off-season caretaker of The Overlook Hotel in Colorado, where he hopes to make a bit of extra cash to support his writing. The job seems easy enough until all the guests leave and the doors shut behind them until the spring. That's when the hotel's ghosts come out to fuck with the living.

    Related Article: How The Shining Examines the Immortality of Evil

    You'll recall plenty of the spooky ghosts Danny encounters on his treks through the claustrophobic hallways of the hotel. It's because he was born with telepathic powers that allow him to communicate with the lost souls of the Overlook. It unfortunately also triggers the place's supernatural energy, which quickly takes control of Jack, who is convinced into killing his wife and son due to cabin fever and a pretty bad case of writer's block. 

    This is one of those special novels that you only get once in a lifetime, and an especially good example of King's unique brand of horror. Get to it, Constant Readers!

    Watch The Shining on Amazon

    Carrie 

    The story of how debut novel Carrie came to be a huge hit for the future King of Horror is now as famous as the actual book. King began working on a short story about a girl with telekinetic powers when someone accused him of not knowing how to write about women. He typed up the infamous shower scene while living in a trailer and working as a high school teacher. King didn't love the scene, so he tossed the first pages of his bestseller in the trash. It was his wife Tabitha who pulled the pages out of the waste basket and convinced him to finish the story. And here we are. 

    Apart from all the telekinesis, Carrie is another book that has remained quite relatable. On one side, it's a lot of social commentary about religious fanaticism, alienation, adolescence, and bullying, while the rest is pure horrific fun.

    While many will point to the high school cruelty or Carrie's eventual vengeance upon her classmates as the source of true terror in the book, we'd say there's nothing scarier than Margaret White, an unstable Fundamentalist who unceasingly punishes her daughter Carrie for her sins. Waiting to see how their conflict plays out is the best part of the book, as the real moments of cruelty take centerstage amidst all the supernatural stuff. 

    The 1976 movie from Brian De Palma, starring Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie, is quite good, too.

    Watch Carrie on Amazon 

    1. IT

    Well, here we are. Like the Losers Club, as much as we'd like to forget about Pennywise, we just can't. Sparking a pretty logical (let's face it) fear of clowns, IT is King's terrifying, gruesome, trashy, cosmic, demonic horror masterpiece that we still can't claw out of our minds so many years later. 

    Not only does IT, a shapeshifting evil entity, prey on your worst fears, he also lives in the sewers and eats little children. As the story unfolds, it is revealed that IT has stalked the town of Derry, Maine (where nothing good...you get the picture) for centuries, waking up every 27 years to murder and eat everything. 

    Related Article: 10 Best Stephen King Heroes

    It's up to the Losers, a group of childhood friends, to confront the monster not once, but TWICE in order to finally rid the town of the ancient, otherworldly evil. Watching Pennywise haunt their memories throughout the book quickly becomes a guilty pleasure. Are we bad people?

    The true power of this masterful novel is in the all-encompassing evil nature of the villain that we can't quite understand. It not only makes a group of kids desperately aware of their own mortality, but scars them for life in more ways than one. And for what purpose? We may never truly know. 

    Watch IT (2017) and Stephen King, IT! (1990) on Amazon 

    What are your top Stephen King horror novels? Tell us in the comments!

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


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    The upcoming book Queen: Album By Album will make a perfect listening companion to Queen's 45th Anniversary.

    News Tony Sokol
    Oct 10, 2018

    Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar make Queen's operatic, six-minute epic “Bohemian Rhapsody” look so easy in the opening scene of comedy Wayne’s World, it could be sung off-the-cuff in an AMC Pacer. But it took the band three weeks to record the song at Trident studio in 1975. It took them twelve hours just to record 180 vocal overdubs, besides the piano, bass, guitars, drums and that elegantly massive Chinese gong at the end. Heavy-metal journalist Martin Popoff's upcoming book Queen: Album By Album, which comes out next month as part of Voyageur Press’s Album by Album series, details all the studio tricks the band employed. The book will arrive just in time for the 45th anniversary of their first album and the upcoming feature biopic.

    "Formed in 1970, Queen went on to become one of the most popular—and most successful—rock bands of all time, even following the untimely death of beloved and magnetic frontman Freddie Mercury, and nearly 50 years after their formation," reads the official press statement. Queen: Album By Album explores all 15 of the band’s studio albums, including their soundtrack for the 1980 film Flash Gordon. The songs are picked apart by fellow musicians like Paul McCartney and Dee Snider, along with journalists, music industry pros and Queen's producer Mack.

    Further reading: Bohemian Rhapsody Trailer, Release Date, and Cast Info for Queen Movie

    Queen: Album By Album delves into "individual songs, the circumstances that surrounded the recording of each album, the band and contemporary rock contexts into which they were released," through "freewheeling discussions" with Dave Ellefson, Derek Shulman, Jeb Wright, Daniel Nester and other experts. The book is illustrated with rare live performance and candid offstage photography, as well as "scads of rare Queen ephemera."

    Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!

    The Album by Album series injects varied voices to bring a unique approach to the rock bio genre. Popoff has written over 7,000 album reviews, and the books Rush: The Illustrated History; Metallica: The Complete Illustrated History; The Art of Metal; and The Big Book of Hair Metal. He has also worked on film documentaries about Rush and ZZ Top.

    Queen: Album by Album comes out in hardcover on November 13, 2018.

    Culture Editor Tony Sokol cut his teeth on the wire services and also wrote and produced New York City's Vampyr Theatre and the rock opera AssassiNation: We Killed JFK. Read more of his work here or find him on Twitter @tsokol.


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    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.

    FeatureGavin Jasper
    Oct 11, 2018

    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 now here, 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.

    further reading: Venom, Riot, and the Life Foundation Symbiotes Explained

    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?

    further reading: Venom Comics Reading Order

    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

    Various (1993-1998)

    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 #1-6Venom: Funeral Pyre #1-3Venom: The Madness #1-3Venom: The Mace #1-3Venom: The Enemy Within #1-3Venom: Nights of Vengeance #1-4Venom: Separation Anxiety #1-4Venom: Carnage Unleashed #1-4Venom: Sinner Takes All #1-5Venom: Along Came a Spider #1-4Venom: The Hunted #1-3Venom: The Hunger #1-4Venom: Tooth and Claw #1-3Venom: On Trial #1-3Venom: License to Kill #1-3Venom: 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.

    further reading: Complete Guide to Easter Eggs in the Venom Movie

    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!

    further reading: Who is Carnage?

    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!"

    Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!


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    The charity Reach Out WorldWide will be streaming a game-based fundraiser and Vin Diesel's using his upcoming superhero movie to help out.

    News Gavin Jasper
    Oct 11, 2018

    The late Paul Walker, known for his Fast and the Furiousexploits, founded a charity called Reach Out WorldWide (ROWW) in response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Although Walker is no longer with us, ROWW continues on with deploying relief in the wake of natural disasters. One of the ways they help raise funds is their annual Game4Paul livestream, where they have celebrities show up and play video games while raffling off some exclusive prizes.

    This year is no different and not only will October 11 be the fourth installment of Game4Paul, but it also falls on what would have been his 45th birthday.

    To get some eyes on the event, there’s a focus on fellow Furiousfriend Vin Diesel, who is currently filming the Bloodshot movie (which should arrive in 2020) based on the Valiant Comics series. There are many Bloodshot-related prizes, which I will get to in a sec, but the most interesting one is a variant edition of Bloodshot Salvation #12 with cover art by Lewis LaRosa. Not only is this the only copy of this version of the issue, but the cover shows the first official depiction of what Vin Diesel as Bloodshot looks like.

    Nice!

    Now, for those of you who don’t follow Valiant Comics (we have a guide to them here) or don’t know who Bloodshot is, here’s the gist. Created by Kevin VanHook, Don Perlin, and Bob Layton back in the early '90s, Bloodshot is essentially RoboCop meets Wolverine meets Hardcore Henry meets someone who hates shirts. He’s a seemingly unkillable soldier filled with billions of nanites that constantly heal him as long as he sustains them with protein. For a time, he was used as the ultimate weapon for shadowy government organization Project Rising Spirit. They programmed him with seemingly a dozen different lifetimes’ worth of memories so that they could manipulate him into playing the hero and doing their dirty work.

    Need an enemy base cleaned out? Make him think his “wife Nancy” or “best friend Bill” is being held captive behind enemy lines. Then once that’s done with, put him on ice and wake him up for the next mission with a different made-up scenario for motivation.

    But of course, nothing lasts forever and Bloodshot eventually broke free. Now, with so many false memories in his head, he doesn’t know who he truly is and what his role in the world is supposed to be. There’s rarely a dull moment with him because his status quo changes every four issues or so.

    While that’s what he’s about in the comics, here’s a new official synopsis of the movie:

    [Bloodshot] follows Ray Garrison aka Bloodshot, a deceased soldier resurrected by weapons contractor Rising Spirit Technologies through the use of nanotechnology. Suffering from total memory loss but imbued with an array of staggering new abilities, Ray struggles to reconnect with who he was while learning what sort of weapon he has become...aided by a team of fellow augmented combatants codenamed Chainsaw.

    The movie co-stars Guy Pearce, Eiza Gonzalez, and Sam Heughan. It’s directed by Dave Wilson, written by Eric Heisserer, and produced by Neal Moritz, Toby Jaffe, and Dinesh Shamdasani.

    So what else does Game4Paul have to offer relating to Bloodshot? They have a Bloodshot-themed custom Xbox One X console. It has the movie’s logo and exclusive artwork. It also comes with a 1TB hard drive and all the usual stuff that comes with the console. Vin Diesel also signed it.

    Various rare editions of Bloodshot comics, all signed by Vin Diesel, like a gold logo edition of Bloodshot Salvation #1and an out-of-print hardcover collecting the first 13 issues of Bloodshot’s 2012 series. The biggest get is the Bloodshot Salvation #1 brushed metal variant. This brushed aluminum metal sheet copy is signed by over 50 cast and crew members behind the Bloodshotmovie, including Diesel and Guy Pearce. While there’s one copy of that, there are three copies signed by just Diesel.

    Then you get Bloodshot statues, mugs, plushes, and a very rare pair of custom Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars. NYC street artist AKA MAG made five pair specifically for three of the producers, the director, and Diesel. Diesel signed his and is willing to part with the shoes in the name of charity.

    The livestream of Game4Paul begins at 4pm ET. You can watch it right here off Xbox's official Twitch channel.

    Gavin Jasper writes for Den of Geek and finds it awkward that there is a custom Xbox made to promote a movie by Sony. Read Gavin’s other articles here and follow him on Twitter @Gavin4L

    Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!


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    Like many horror icons, the dead-eyed Michael Myers of Halloween fame has also dabbled in stabbing people on the comic book page.

    Halloween Comics Michael Myers
    FeatureGavin Jasper
    Oct 14, 2018

    Michael Myers is the understated horror icon, for better or worse. He’s the architect of the whole slasher genre and while John Carpenter's Halloweenis an undisputed classic, he doesn’t stand out as much as his fellow supernatural murderers. He’s the less-exciting Jason Voorhees, even if he came first and had his shit figured out by the first movie (as opposed to Jason’s three).

    I guess Michael stands out less because he was never part of anything excessively dumb. Oh yeah, he had a bunch of lesser sequels that culminated in being beat up by Busta Rhymes and there’s that Halloween IIIfiasco, but he never fell into the pop culture trap of other '80s and '90s boogeymen. He didn’t show up on Arsenio Hall’s show or appear in a Fat Boys music video, for starters.

    By the time we did get a silly Michael Myers moment, it was his goofy cameo in Rob Zombie’s Haunted World of El Superbeasto in 2009, merely a month or so after the last actual Halloweenmovie.

    Since Michael was rarely as outlandish as his cinematic brethren, it made sense that it took so long for him to finally make his comic book debut. Freddy showed up in the late '80s, while Jason showed up in the early '90s, and Michael arrived in the year 2000. By this point, Halloween H20 had already come and gone, so the movie series was nearly dead already.

    Released by Chaos Comics, Halloween #1 was written by Phil Nutman and Daniel Farrands with art by David Brewer. It follows Tommy Doyle, the boy confronted by Myers in the first movie who later went on to beat him down a bunch with a pipe years later in Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. In other words, our hero in this story is Paul Rudd.

    He’s mostly here to frame the issue, which is about Michael Myers’ beginnings. Tommy is obsessed with making a name off of Michael’s reign of terror and gets his hands on Dr. Sam Loomis’ old diary. From there, he reads about young Michael’s time in the mental institution, seeing as Loomis goes from wanting to help the mentally-distant boy to realizing that he’s evil incarnate.

    Watch Halloween Movies on Amazon Prime

    It’s done surprisingly well. These kinds of prequel stories are always a touchy concept because they can easily go wrong. If Michael is 100% evil, then it’s a boring and meaningless story. If he’s created from his environment, you run the risk of humanizing him too much and making him look like less of a threat. Here, Nutman and Farrands blur the line and ask the question, “Could Loomis have saved him?”

    Loomis mentions the other young inmates, all older than Michael. Coincidentally, that kid Blair is neither referenced or shown other than this intro. Weird. Especially because this flashback story doesn’t outright spell it out that Michael is behind all the murder and mutilation. Sure, Loomis believes he’s behind it and we know he’s a bad egg, but they could have easily tied Blair into it and made it a red herring thing.

    Otherwise, the story is about Michael being put in an unwinnable situation where his roommates are not exactly a good crowd to be stuck with. But, just like Rorschach in Watchmen, they discover that they’re the ones stuck in there with him.

    further reading: John Carpenter Interview on the Future of Halloween

    Once the issue comes close to running out of pages, we get a scene of Michael attacking Tommy. Since Tommy has enough plot armor, he is able to defeat Michael in a moment reminiscent of the ending of the first movie.

    Months later, we get Halloween II: The Blackest Eyes with Phil Nutman and Mickey Yablans writing and Jerry Beck drawing. It picks up where the previous story left off with Tommy deciding to end Michael Myers once and for all.

    further reading - Halloween Movie Timeline Explained

    This story isn’t so hot for the most part, partially because they spend a lot of time going into the whole cult backstory. The stuff about curses and druids always weighed down the Halloweenfranchise in the eyes of many. Luckily, there’s enough Michael action to make up for it, where he stalks Tommy, the sheriff, and the grown-up versions of the kids that bullied Tommy in the first movie, who are now hell-bent on burning down the abandoned Myers house.

    Several months after that, we’re given Halloween III: The Devil’s Eyes by Phil Nutman and Justiniano. It begins with Tommy locked up in an asylum, mainly as a cover-up for all that druid crap that went down in the previous issue. He escapes and teams up with Lindsey Wallace, the other kid being babysat in the original movie.

    Since this comic is released late 2001 and Halloween H20came out a couple years earlier, they finally talk about the elephant in the room: Michael Myers is totally supposed to be dead, right? Like, Laurie Strode chopped his head off. Sure, Myers can heal from a lot of stuff, but the movies at least give us the illusion that there’s some kind of limit to it. He’s not like Jason, who can cartoonishly return from absolutely anything.

    Even Halloween: Resurrection went with a different out, saying that Laurie killed the wrong guy. That movie wouldn’t be out for over half a year compared to this comic, so that raises questions. Are they going to go with that same explanation? Can Michael Myers come back from decapitation? Is there someone else under the mask? Hell, is it that Blair kid somehow?

    further reading: Halloween (2018) Review

    It’s a strong finale to the Chaos Comics trilogy, though it does get a laugh out of me for Nutman just crossing his arms and going, “Yeah, I know this doesn’t fit into the movies. Screw it.”

    Though it turns out there’s a reason for that. Daniel Farrands, writer of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, was at one point asked to pitch a follow-up to Halloween H20. The studio didn’t go with his pitch and instead, he just told Phil Nutman about his ideas and there we go.

    Man, why can’t we get a comic based on Peter Jackson’s unused Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Lover screenplay? I’d read the hell out of that.

    After the Chaos Comics stuff, there was only one voice of Halloweencomics. Stefan Hutchinson wrote about all of Michael Myers’ exploits from 2003 to the end of 2008. For a Halloweenconvention, he made Halloween: One Good Scare, featuring muddy art by Peter Fielding.

    It’s a good one-shot, all things considered. It follows the never-before-mentioned son of Dr. Sam Loomis, who followed his father’s footsteps and works at the sanitarium. Things get interesting for him when Lindsey Wallace has herself committed, insisting that Michael Myers is still alive and now he’s after her. This comic comes out post-Resurrection, so it asks the question of what Michael even wants anymore now that he’s succeeded in wiping out his family.

    further reading - Halloween: Jamie Lee Curtis and the Trauma of Laurie Strode

    It’s a necessarily dire story that could have probably used a bit more of Michael in action, but succeeds in the end by rolling out some grade-A dread with a cliffhanger that’s never followed up on and doesn’t need to be.

    In 2006, Hutchinson teamed up with Marcus Smith for the one-shot Halloween: Autopsis, released by Paranormal Pictures. It tells the story of Carter, a young photographer obsessed with images that “show the truth” because his father was a projectionist who died while Carter was watching Night of the Living Dead and that totally ruined movies and pictures for him.

    ...I don’t really get it either.

    Short version is that he’s obsessed with photos of Michael’s victims.

    The stuff with Carter isn’t so great, but the comic is redeemed by his stalking of Dr. Sam Loomis. See, it’s worth noting that Hutchinson’s comic world takes place in a continuity where only the first movie, first sequel, H20, and Resurrectionhappened. All the nonsense from parts four-through-six are off the table. That means that Loomis’ hastily-edited stinger death in Curse of Michael Myers didn’t happen.

    further reading: Halloween - A Legacy Unmasked

    As Carter spies on Loomis regularly, he feels pity for him. As he puts it, Loomis is no arch-rival of Michael Myers. He’s just another victim, living a sad existence where he knows his failure has lead to countless deaths.

    Carter’s search for Michael leads to the obvious fate and we’re told that the story will continue in Halloween: Sam. Sam would be released as a PDF in 2008 on the now-defunct Halloweenmovies.com site.

    Again, Marcus Smith is on art duties, but the story is mostly prose. It tells the story of the Halloweenmovies from Loomis’ point of view, ending prior to Halloween H20. It ultimately shows the final days of Loomis, who has grown so weary from his investment in Michael to the point of suffering a heart attack.

    Michael appears before him for one last confrontation where Loomis is too tired and weak to fight for his life, but is able to at least get into Michael’s head a little bit and point out how empty a being he is. According to Loomis, Michael’s first kill was his peak and no matter how brutally he murders anyone else, it will never capture the same magic. It's the closest thing to taking a loss that Michael does in the entire Hutchinson run and even then, not really.

    In 2008, Hutchinson would do a handful of Halloweencomics for Devil’s Due Publishing. The main one is a four-issue miniseries called Halloween: Nightdance, featuring art by Tim Seeley. Rather than bringing in characters from the various movies, it starts anew with a fresh set of characters. The best I can compare it to is the six-issue Friday the 13th comic Wildstorm released. It feels refreshing because it takes its time.

    The one-shots and two-parters speed through everything a bit too much at times. Here, we actually get to know our victims and the tension is allowed to build.

    Our protagonist is Lisa, a teenager who was locked in a cellar by Michael, along with a little boy named Daniel she was babysitting at the time. They were freed by a search party days later. Although Lisa doesn’t get to see Daniel anymore, he still sends her crude cartoon drawings every day. Things take a dark turn when these drawings become disturbing, like showing Lisa naked and covered in blood.

    As you can guess, the unstoppable man in the William Shatner mask is looking to finish the job.

    It builds on the modus operandi that Hutchinson introduced in One Good Scare. Michael Myers isn’t 100% about simply showing up and killing everyone in sight. Well, for the less-important people, sure, but what he really likes is confronting his prey, leaving them alive, and then coming back after their fear has ripened.

    Next is Halloween: 30 Years of Terror, a double-sized one-shot featuring five short stories. They mostly feel a bit half-baked. “Trick or Treat,” drawn by Danijel Zezelj, is about the old couple who Tommy Doyle and Lindsey Wallace run to during the end of the first movie. While leading to some cool imagery, it ends just as quickly as it begins.

    Jim Daly’s “POV” shows Michael murdering a beauty queen for kicks, mainly because that kill has been referenced in other Hutchinson Halloweenstories. It’s not really a story. Just a sequence with a gimmick.

    Brett Weldele’s “Visiting Hours” is about a girl who has been haunted by young Michael’s gaze for decades and awaits in the sanitarium for him to one day kill her because she’s too crippled by fear to do anything else with her life.

    “Tommy and the Boogeyman,” drawn by Jeffrey Zornow and Lee Ferguson, is a weird one. It shows what Tommy Doyle’s up to in this continuity where Paul Rudd’s performance never happened. Part of the short story is a comic-within-the-comic about a cross between the Crypt Keeper and a tarantula, who acts as a more charismatic slasher villain.

    Then we see that Tommy is apparently...Joe Quesada? Huh. Anyway, he draws Michael Myers comics.

    Then there’s “Repetition Compulsion” with more great Tim Seeley art. It’s another Dr. Loomis thing, once again showing off how Michael is one step ahead of him at all times.

    The final Halloweencomic is Halloween: The First Death of Laurie Strode with art by Jeff Zornow. The three issue miniseries is supposed to be the link between the end of Halloween IIand Laurie’s status quo as of Halloween H20, with Loomis faking a car accident and allowing Michael to believe she’s dead.

    It’s a pretty weak comic, all in all, although I love the quick shout-out to Halloween III.

    The second issue ends with Laurie watching in horror as Michael kills Jimmy, one of the survivors from Halloween II. That’s all she wrote because Halloween: The First Death of Laurie Strode #3 was never released. There was also hype for a miniseries called Halloween: The Mark of Thorn, co-written by Jeff Katz and meant to be released in 2009, but that got deep-sixed too.

    Just as well, really. Hutchinson had nothing left to say. I’ll give him credit, he was able to build a continuity and use his different stories to fill in the blanks, but First Death of Laurie Strode shows the big flaw in his world. He’s too in love with Michael Myers and cares too little about everyone else.

    Join Amazon Prime - Watch Thousands of Movies & TV Shows Anytime - Start Free Trial Now

    Laurie comes off as too much of a mopey victim to want to follow. Dr. Loomis is a pathetic loser, constantly railed on for being a failure. Nearly everyone is murdered horribly. And Michael? He’s practically Batman.

    And not the good Batman. I mean the hacky, overly-competent Batman who is 100 steps ahead of everyone and never gets punched.

    One thing I’ve noticed about reading all the Freddy and Jason comics is that the writers are too into the villains to the point that protagonists aren’t allowed to survive. People survive the movies all the time, but in comics, they have to die violently to tie up these imaginary loose ends. The difference is, Freddy and Jason eat shit all the time, even in these comics where they always win. They’re overpowered, so they’re allowed to get knocked down because it's only temporary.

    Hutchinson’s Michael Myers doesn’t get knocked down. Outside of bringing up the explosion at the end of Halloween II, he refuses to ever show anyone getting the drop on Michael ever. The dude is nigh-unkillable. It's okay to let him get hit with a wrench or a car every now and then. He can take it.

    At least that initial Halloweencomic from Chaos let Tommy outfight him. Yeah, Michael gets back up and wanders off, but we at least get to see someone fight back. It’s rather nice.

    So yeah, the Halloweencomics have their moments, but they usually try to play it safe too much. Sure, the curse stuff from the middle movies fell on its face, but at least they were trying something creative. Mix it up, man.

    I will say this. Despite the comics taking place after the events of Halloween: Resurrection, Michael still never, at any point, chooses to seek out a rematch against Busta Rhymes. Hutchinson’s Michael Myers truly is a smart guy. He knows when he’s beat.

    “Trick or treat, motherfucker!”

    Gavin Jasper should probably start writing next year's History of Evil Dead Comics article right now because that thing’s going to be ten volumes long. Follow him on Twitter!

    Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!


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    What’s changed between Shirley Jackson’s original novel and Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting Of Hill House TV series?

    The Haunting of Hill House Book to TV Differences
    Feature Louisa Mellor
    Oct 15, 2018

    Warning: contains The Haunting of Hill House spoilers for both the Netflix series and the original novel.

    “Way more of a riff than an adaptation,” is how writer-director Mike Flanagan describes his The Haunting Of Hill House Netflix horror. “There’s just enough material in the book to make an amazing movie,” he told Den Of Geek UK, but not enough to adapt into a ten-hour TV series without adding to the story. Not wishing to go up against the acclaimed 1963 film version by attempting to “out-adapt Robert Wise,” Flanagan and co. took a different approach. 

    “Look at it as a remix,” he told us. “It was more interesting to break down the book and pull out the characters and the themes and individual moments and pieces of prose, even, that had really stuck with me, and try to rearrange it.”

    Here's how those pieces were rearranged…

    The Haunting Of Hill House 1959

    The original novel is about thirty-two-year-old Eleanor Vance, who has spent her life caring for her invalid mother. After her mother dies, Eleanor is forced to move in with her sister and brother-in-law, sleeping in the baby’s room. When Eleanor receives an invitation from Dr. John Montague, a researcher in the supernatural, to join a party planning to spend a summer at Hill House, rented for the occasion because of its ghastly and rumored to be ghostly history, Eleanor sees a chance to escape her life. She steals the car she half-owns with her sister and takes the trip. Dr Montague had selected Eleanor because of a newspaper report on a mysterious rain of stones that once fell on her childhood home, thought to be supernatural in origin. 

    further reading: The Haunting of Hill House Ending Explained

    At Hill House, Eleanor meets the unwelcoming Mr. and Mrs. Dudley, caretaker and housekeeper, who refuse to remain on the property after dark. She discovers the house to be deranged, a disorienting cacophony of architectural design that’s dark, oppressive and whose geography it’s impossible to fathom. There, she meets and befriends Theodora, her neighbour in the research proposal and a woman believed to have psychic tendencies. They meet Dr. Montague and the final guest, Luke Sanderson, who has been included in the party at the behest of the house’s current owner, his aunt. Luke will one day inherit Hill House. 

    Eleanor tells little lies about her life to the other guests. She describes a house she saw on her journey as her own, and pretends to own a “cup of stars” that she heard discussed by a family of strangers while dining in a restaurant on her way to Hill House. Despite an early fondness for Theo, Eleanor soon begins to feel persecuted by her, and develops a sense of paranoia about the other guests talking behind her back.

    Dr. Montague encourages his three guests to make notes on their experiences of Hill House. They discover mysterious drops in temperature, violent knocking on the doors and a dog-like creature running through the ground floor. Writing appears in blood along the wood panelling, asking Eleanor for help. Theodora’s room is ransacked and her clothes covered in blood (though her things are later found to be untouched). 

    After several such occurrences, Eleanor begins to feel an affinity with the house. Her paranoia and guilt, and her fear of the knocking sound (which she takes to be the sound of her dying mother knocking on the wall for medication Eleanor never brought her) conflate until one night, in what might be described as a manic episode, she runs through the house, scaring the other guests, and climbs up a vertiginous and rickety spiral staircase. Luke brings her back down and the others force her to leave the next day, contacting her sister and discovering the lies she told.

    further reading: The Haunting of Hill House review

    Not wanting to leave, having nowhere to go and feeling that Hill House was where she belonged, Eleanor deliberately accelerates her car into a tree on the way out of the house, presumably killing herself. Dr. Montague’s research is unsuccessful on publication, and he gives up his interest in the supernatural. Hill House though, not sane, remains. 

    The Haunting Of Hill House 2018

    One summer in the 1980s, Hugh and Olivia Crain buy Hill House to flip for profit, moving in with their five children—Steven, Shirley, Theodora and twins Nel and Luke—during the renovation works. Nel complains of seeing a “bent-neck lady” ghost, but is reassured by her father that she’s just dreaming. Luke befriends a strangely dressed little girl who, he says, lives in the woods near the house. The family experience myriad strange occurrences during their time in the house, including strange cold spots (as experienced by the characters in Jackson’s novel), and a mysterious locked door that no key is able to open. The mother, Olivia Crain, becomes affected and disturbed by the house.

    Unlike Jackson’s novel, the Netflix show’s chronology jumps around considerably. Each episode moves between the events of the summer at Hill House, and the lives of the grown-up Crain children. In the present, Steven is a successful author having written a bestseller The Haunting Of Hill House, which starts with the same opening paragraph as Shirley Jackson’s novel, including the line “whatever walked there, walked alone.”  

    further reading: The Haunting of Hill House - Adapting a Classic

    A failed historical novelist, Steven’s best-selling memoir about his family’s time at Hill House estranged him from his siblings who saw it as exploitative of their shared experience at the house, an experience that has affected them all in different ways. Luke is a drug addict in and out of rehab, Nel is a depressive, Theo is a child psychologist with a fear of commitment, and Shirley runs a funeral home with her husband.

    While Nel (Eleanor), Luke and Theodora all share the same names as characters in Jackson’s novel, they aren't the same characters. (One connection is that modern-day Theo is a lesbian, linking her to her namesake in the book, who, the subtext of the novel strongly suggests was also in a cohabiting relationship with another woman, but that's more or less it). Eldest daughter Shirley is named for Shirley Jackson, while the Crain father Hugh shares his name with Hill House’s original designer in the novel. 

    Only two characters, stern caretaker and housekeeper Mr and Mrs Dudley, survive intact from the novel to the TV series, though modernised and expanded with a full backstory. Mr. Dudley tells Hugh Crain that his mother was the original housekeeper at the property (perhaps the Mrs. Dudley in the novel?) and that he was born in the cottage at the edge of the estate.  

    Other nods to Shirley Jackson and the original are dotted around Flanagan’s story. In one scene Theo is reading a copy of Jackson’s famous The Lottery And Other Stories. The novel’s account of Eleanor and her sister experiencing the telekenetic rain of stones as children is borrowed for a monologue by one central character.

    The house itself, with its marble statuary and monumental spiral staircase, has been rendered faithfully. Its competing architectural styles and sense of derangement are achieved through dark walls and disorienting design. 

    There are multiple nods to other parts of the book in the Netflix series, references to Eleanor’s “little cup of stars”, and quotes from Shakespeare (Olivia Crain quotes from Hamlet just as Eleanor Vance repeatedly quotes from Twelfth Night in the novel). There are deaths, 

    While both tell a horror story about the same not-sane house that is grounded in psychological realism and features many of the same rich details, they're entirely different stories, not least in their respective endings. The novel closes on a note of unfinished tragedy, while Flanagan's complex, emotional series tempers its tragedy with resolution, healing and hope.

    The Haunting Of Hill House is out on Netflix now.

    Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!


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    We talked to Bullet Catcher writer Joaquin Lowe about the supernatural western about to launch on Serial Box.

    News Kayti Burt
    Oct 15, 2018

    A girl without a future. A stranger hiding his past. And the remarkable, supernatural ability to turn bullets away from their targets—walking through a gunfight unscathed. In Joaquin Lowe’s Bullet Catcher, launching as a serial from Serial Box on October 18, elements of coming of age play against a mythological background that questions whether anything is really as simple as good and evil.

    And the gun fu? There’s some serious fantasy martial arts going on here as well! Taking the best elements of weird westerns, throwing in some of the mentor-trainee relationship in Old Man Logan, and adding to that some Avatar: The Last Airbender-like stylized combat, Lowe throws readers into the story of Imma, a young woman raised on the fairy tales that pitched the good bullet catchers against the evil gunslingers.

    In the stories, the bullet catchers are gone, killed off by the gunslingers. But when a real bullet catcher comes to her town, where Imma is working in a nowhere job that will never take her anywhere, she decides to follow him, taking control of her own destiny.

    Read an Exclusive Excerpt from Bullet Catcher

    We chatted with Lowe about the story, and about its transformation into a serial. Like Serial Box’s originals, Bullet Catcher is releasing on a weekly schedule in both prose and audio, with each episode priced at 99 cents. But unlike most Serial Box serials, Lowe’s project didn’t start in a team writers’ room.

    In 2016, Bullet Catcher was originally released as a novel in the UK, and it was selected as one of the Telegraph’s best YA novels of the year. “I knew that Serial Box had a format that would require me not only to overhaul the structure of the original chapters, but also to do extensive rewrites and new writing for the new edition,” Lowe explained.

    Going back to the original novel and translating it into a new format gave him a chance to reexamine the work, to fix things that he hadn’t liked the first time around. He worked with Serial Box editor Lydia Shamah (also a producer on Silverwood: The Door), who brought some new ideas to the project. “It was such a fantastic experience getting to work with her and I think the best parts of the book are the parts that came out of our collaboration,” Lowe said.

    In both its incarnations, as the story begins, Imma is alone in the world with the certain knowledge that her parents are dead, and that the brother who promised to come back for her is dead as well. “In many ways, the story is a classic Hero’s Journey,” Lowe said, comparing her at the start of her quest to Luke Skywalker—or, more appropriately, to Rey, who hadn’t come to the screen yet when Bullet Catcher was first written. “By being orphaned, Imma has been propelled into a world she doesn’t think she’s prepared for, but through bravery, smarts, and fool-heartedness gains wisdom, which she must then bring back to the world.”

    Some of that wisdom is hard earned. Imma’s brother, before he left, told her stories of the legendary bullet catchers and gun slingers, giving the world a duality of good and evil. “When I set off to write the story I wanted it to have an anti-gun sub-theme,” Lowe explained about the origins of the mythology.

    "But, of course, things aren’t ever as simple as ‘good’ vs. ‘evil.’ What we find as the story progresses is that the lines aren’t drawn between gunslingers and bullet catchers, but between individuals, and by the actions of individuals. And even then, many of these characters aren’t ‘good’ or ‘evil,’ but maybe, misguided, or naïve, or in pain, or in love!"

    Imma in particularly learns that things she’d always accepted as true turn out vastly different than she expected, including her understanding of the brother she idolizes. That doesn’t mean the anti-gun theme has vanished, because it’s an issue that’s extremely important to Lowe, but “it’s messy, because the relationships in the book are messy.”

    The mythology of the gunslingers and the bullet catchers draws on samurai tales—as well as stories of the Jedi, and Avatar: The Last Airbender.

    I was fascinated with the idea of there once being a very large sect of people that is suddenly reduced to a single person, and what that would do to that person and their beliefs,” Lowe said, likening the bullet catcher Imma apprentices to Avatar’s Aang. The story is also inspired by the Japanese film series and comic Lone Wolf and Cub, in which an aged ronin travels through the countryside, bringing his infant son with him. Of course, Imma has an agency that the child in Lone Wolf and Cub, an infant, never develops.

    “What I liked is that the younger partner essentially represented the old man’s heart,” Lowe describes. “Without him, he’d have no ties and would be heartless, he’d act heartlessly. That’s where the Bullet Catcher is before Imma comes into his life.”

    While Lowe laughs at the idea that an “inside-kid” like him might also be a martial artist, he does admit that he’d rather be a bullet catcher than a gunslinger. The best and most challenging part of a project like this, for Lowe, is the world building.

    “It’s so much fun... but it’s also extremely time intensive,” he said. “You have to think about so many things that don’t even have a presence in the book, because those things impact the things that do make it in. The little inconsistencies are really hard to find when you’re building from the ground up because of how easy it is to get lazy in your thinking.”

    Luckily, Lowe had a fantastic team to work with: he praised Lydia and the amazing copyediting team for keeping all his internal details consistent. “It adds up to a big difference, because when the world building has been done well readers stop questioning it and let themselves get taken away by the story.”

    To experience the world of the bullet catchers first hand, and to follow Imma’s hero’s journey, you can buy the full season or subscribe at Serial Box.

    Alana Joli Abbott writes about books for Den of Geek. Read more of her work here.

    Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!


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    The Rift Uprising series offsets its somewhat tired love triangle with enough action-y sci-fi thrills to make this an enjoyable ride.

    FeatureBridget LaMonica
    Oct 15, 2018

    Warning: This Rift Uprising series review contains spoilers for the series.

    Genetically-enhanced teenaged super soldiers, forbidden love, and a conspiracy spanning multiple worlds form the framework of Amy S. Foster's Rift Uprising series. The latest in the series, Rift Coda has just been published, so maybe you'd like to know what you're getting into before taking the plunge.

    Keep in mind: this will be spoilery (though I'll try to avoid the worst so you can still enjoy some revelations). The first book will be heavily spoiled since I can't discuss the other two without mentioning those plot developments.

    Rift Uprising

    In Rift Uprising, we are introduced to Ryn Whittaker and her squad of teenage soldiers called Citadels. They are part of ARC, a program that has secretly made genetically enhanced children to be super fast and strong in order to protect the world from the many potentially dangerous Immigrants who unwittingly come to our Earth through a rift in space-time.

    These Citadels are given their incredible power thanks to the technology of the Roones, a species who came through the rift and warn the humans that they need special foot soldiers to protect the Earth from dangerous beings.

    A major point of tension within this fictional world is the Blood Lust, a compulsory violent reaction the Citadels experience whenever they feel anything resembling love or lust. It's a failsafe built into them to supposedly keep them on mission at all times, but what it does is make a lot of teenagers really pissed off about what they can't do. They can't share an intimate touch or so much as a hug without nearly ripping someone's head off. It's a really inhumane way to keep the Citadels in line, and they soldiers actively fight against these brainwashed instincts throughout the series.

    By the end of Rift Uprising, we find that the Roones are not the kindly helpers they appear to be. Creating the Citadels was something they had planned all along, and they have orchestrated an elaborate web of lies to keep their soldiers in line, fighting a battle where enemy lines are sometimes hard to dilineate.

    It is here that Ryn meets Ezra, a handsome guy who comes through the rift. Ryn promises him she will make sure he's okay after he's escorted to where Immigrants are held. It's that promise that lands Ryn solidly on the path to discover all of what ARC and the Roones have hidden from her and her fellows, and into a war that spans the Multiverse.

    Of course, she falls in love with Ezra.

    In this first book, we get to see how much of a trained badass Ryn really is, as she and her team make quick work of the more violent visitors to our world. The action scenes are well written and the conversational tone that Ryn uses throughout her adventures never let us forget that she could have been a normal teenager had ARC never taken her for their program.

    Our eyes are also opened to the horrors of this secret battle they have been fighting. Ryn finds out where the Immigrants go and how ARC has been subtly controlling the Citadels to follow protocol. The Immigrants that aren't killed are placed in The Villages, a simulated combination of towns that is really just a fancy prison. They can't return home and are forced to speak English and humanize. There's a lot to unpack there. Suffice to say it's good for scifi and a great mirror to hold up when society deems something “other” as bad.

    There are layers here – how far is Ryn willing to go to uncover the truth? Who is the real enemy and what have they been planning? Ryn's visit to the Villages opens her eyes and expands her heart.

    Rift Frequency

    Ryn and fellow Citadel Levi travel the Multiverse, hopping from alternate Earth to alternate Earth, gaining intel and learning more about the scope of the Roone's betrayal. Citadels of all different species exist on multiple Earths. Some are willing to join in the fight.

    In Ryn's travels, we see all different types of peoples, from the winged Faida to the impish Daithi and the bear-like Orsalines. Most of the character designs aren't the most original we've seen. Most seem to be a mashup of fantasy tropes. We even saw vampires and a unicorn in the previous book. For the most part, the series keeps to a sci-fi angle, though fantasy influences can be seen throughout.

    A favorite world is that of the SenMachs. These robot people are a relic of a world that has seen normal flesh-and-blood humans go extinct. The SenMachs supply Ryn with tools that will make the journey easier. It's a bit of a literal deus ex machina situation. The tech that Ryn aquires is a little too good, but I let it go for coolness points.

    Unfortunately, this is the book where we're introduced to a love triangle. Ryn is torn between deprogramming Levi from his Blood Lust (so they can travel together without him violently attacking her) and Ezra, who has become a jealous boyfriend. The inclusion of the love triangle is my biggest complaint about the series. Levi and Ryn have no chemistry and Levi is a bit of a jerk for being annoyed at Ryn having a boyfriend. I'm tired of this trope and would like to see it reframed in a fresh light.

    Rift Coda

    Rift Coda is the “assemble the troops” book until it leads to the final climactic fight for power. Ryn has allied with the Faida, and they need some other species on the same page in order to fight the insurmountable armies the Roones control. It's a numbers game, and the math is not in their favor.

    Ryn also has to deal with matters of the heart as – surprise, surprise – it's a big angsty struggle between her potential feelings for Levi and her feelings for Ezra. Will they? Won't they? Don't you guys have a Multiverse spanning war to fight? Well who cares about that because we're going to waste way too much time on Ryn's love life, a romantic life I might add she's only had for a short time.

    What this book does well is show the reality and horror of war. Ryn gets enough experience from her travels and all the secrets she's uncovered about ARC and the Roones to realize they have to be stopped from doing this again. There are some brutal moments, both what happens to the good guys and what Ryn does with her own hands. It's bloody and visceral and it makes you sit upright as you read each word in anticipation. Our protagonists are not infallible. There will be casualties and hard choices.

    “No child wakes up and imagines themselves to be anything other than the hero of his or her own story,” Ryn narrates as she spies some of the human cost of the final battle. She's right.

    Oh and all that “will they, won't they” love triangle nonsense is resolved in a lackluster way, in my humble opinion. One of the characters in question is written off about thirty pages from the end with not so much as a how-do-you-do. I actually had to turn back the pages after finishing the book to figure out where he disappeared.

    The Rift Uprising series is chock full of super-soldier battles and otherworldly creatures, but keeps itself grounded with enough human drama and pop culture references to land on The CW. Although I had some problems with the plot here and there, namely the tired love triangle, these books kept up a good pace and delivered on enough change of scenery and bone-jarring hits to keep you going for the action alone.

    Ryn is a protagonist we can root for. She feels like a real person thrust between a rock and a hard place. The Roones are diabolical and you really want to see the Citadels enact their brand of justice on them. There are moments of brilliance, and there are moments where you will likely get frustrated with our character's choices. The Rift Uprisingis fun, but it's not treading new ground.

    For action-y sci-fi thrills you might want to hitch your wagon to this rift and just enjoy the ride.

    Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!


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  • 10/16/18--09:13: Venom: Who is Carnage?
  • OK, Venom fans, break out your Green Jelly tapes, because it's time to learn all about Carnage, Spider-Man's evil double's evil double.

    Venom Who is Maximum Carnage
    Feature Gavin Jasper
    Oct 16, 2018

    All right, so, a few months ago, when Deadpool 2came out, we did an article called Deadpool 2: Who is Juggernaut? People were pretty annoyed because Juggernaut’s role in that movie as a major antagonist wasn’t advertised and they cried spoiler. And that’s a fair call. Apologies.

    That said, if you think it’s a spoiler that Carnage is in any way alluded to in Venom, I don’t know what to tell you. It’s Carnage. Of COURSE he’s going to be at least referenced in a Venom movie. The movie just used Carlton Drake and Riot. Venom doesn’t exactly have a Batman-level rogues gallery to play with and only one of his bad guys is important enough to get a red SNES cartridge.

    So yeah, Carnage. He’s teased at the end of Venom. Read more on that in this look at the Venom post-credit sequences.

    The only real surprise is that it’s taken this long for Carnage to be in a movie. With so many comic book movies out there, we’re running out of iconic villains who haven’t been featured. We’re down to Darkseid, Kang, and...I don’t know, Arcade?

    Much like in the movies, Carnage’s first appearance in the comics was a quick teaser. While Spider-Man was busy dealing with Cardiac in Amazing Spider-Man #360 (by Davie Michelinie and Chris Marrinan), we got to see a one-page scene of a man named Gunny Stein returning home, only to be smothered by an attacker who admitted to killing him merely because he was looking through the phone book and found a suitably stupid name.

    While he would appear in full in the following issue (Mark Bagley on art), the wheels towards Carnage’s creation came far earlier. When trying to kill Spider-Man, Venom ran afoul of Styx and Stone, a villain duo only really remembered for this very story. Styx, who has a death touch, touched the Venom symbiote and seemingly killed it. Eddie Brock was thrown in a regular prison and I would make a Bronsonjoke if I had actually gotten around to seeing that movie.

    Venom returned to mess with Spider-Man again, only this time on an abandoned island. Spider-Man pretended to die in an explosion and Venom was all, “Sweet! Our to-do list is done! Let’s just squat on this island, where there are no TVs or newspapers to let us know that Spider-Man’s alive!”

    That worked out great for everyone, but then the Carnage storyline kicked in and after a single fight against the new villain, Spider-Man decided that he neededVenom to fight with him. I enjoy a good hero/villain vs. bigger villain story as much as the next guy, but the intent to make it a Venom team-up was laughably blatant. How blatant?

    Knowing that Venom was going to go into a violent frenzy, Spider-Man confronted him with Human Torch as backup. After all, fire is one of Venom’s weaknesses. Makes sense. Only, like, WHY DO YOU NOT JUST CUT OUT THE MIDDLE MAN AND JUST BRING HUMAN TORCH WITH YOU TO FIGHT CARNAGE? Hell, the dude has three friends who would be extremely helpful in catching the loud and obnoxious serial killer. He can’t be THAT hard to find.

    further reading: Venom Comics Reading Order

    There’s a quick line in the end about how bringing them in would make things more dangerous, but I have trouble accepting that truth when their replacement is an irrational mass murderer who will kill Spider-Man the first chance he gets.

    But anyway, Spider-Man and Venom teamed up against Carnage a few times, got beat up despite the odds, then beat him by exploiting his sonics weakness. Then Spider-Man and Venom went back to fighting. A solid enough story, but not really all that memorable.

    No, Carnage’s more memorable story would come a year later with Maximum Carnage. Actually, even that story wasn't all that memorable. I read it several times and I can barely give you the gist of what happened. Just that Carnage got himself his own personal Harley Quinn in Shriek, then created a short-lived supervillain team alongside Doppelganger, Demogoblin, and Carrion. Spider-Man and Venom teamed up again, only this time with a bunch of Marvel randos on their side like Morbius, Iron Fist, and Night Watch.

    Stuff happened, Captain America being there was treated like a huge deal, and...man, whatever. All I know is that there was a seriously sweet panel where Venom was tearing off Carnage’s eyes.

    The real reason anyone remembered the storyline was because of LJN’s video game Maximum Carnage for SNES and Genesis. Considered “good for an LJN game,” it allowed you to play as Spider-Man or Venom as you beat up extremely 90s street thugs and Carnage’s crew over and over again. Even being the final boss, you end up fighting Carnage a handful of times throughout.

    further reading: Complete Guide to Marvel Easter Eggs in the Venom Movie

    The game had a red cartridge and featured a soundtrack by Green Jelly (including their song “Carnage Rules”), so it had that going for it.

    There was a sequel (technically a prequel) called Separation Anxiety, which was based on Venom: Lethal Protector. Since the arc didn’t have any major end boss threats, they just threw in Carnage as the final challenge because what the hell. They had the assets. Even the ending was just a picture of Carnage with zero epilogue. Again, Carnage had absolutely nothing to do with the story.

    And so, Carnage continued to make comic appearances throughout the 90s. Inspired by the Maximum Carnage game, there was a silly Venom comic called Carnage Unleashedwhere Venom and Carnage fought inside the internet and it was somehow broadcast on the big screen in Times Square. Planet of the Symbioteshad Carnage become a giant after devouring and absorbing an untold amount of invading symbiotes. There was even a Spider-Man/Batman crossover where Carnage teamed up with Joker and then got punked out and made fun of for being a one-dimensional Joker knockoff.

    Oh, and Batman beat him down with just his fists.

    Speaking of DC crossovers, when they did the Amalgam Comics gimmick, Carnage was merged with Bizarro to become Bizarnage. The albino symbiote wanted to kill and replace Spider-Boy. Hey, at least he got representation. Nobody merged with Venom during that entire event.

    further reading: The 15 Craziest Venom Moments in Marvel History

    Carnage even got a couple animated appearances during this time. He showed up on Spider-Man: The Animated Seriesas a henchman of Dormammu where he wasn’t allowed to do anything remotely serial killer-y. He was fine, all things considered, but then things got real stupid once the show spun off into Spider-Man Unlimited.

    Instead of that, I’ll talk about his appearance in the Spider-Manvideo game for the PlayStation, Nintendo 64, and Dreamcast. In the plot, Carnage and Doctor Octopus teamed up in hopes of taking over the world with a symbiote army. This led to the pants-shittingly terrifying final level where Spider-Man is chased out of a huge tower by Monster Ock – the Carnage symbiote on Ock’s body. He wasn’t really even a boss because even if you were wearing the Captain Universe costume that made you invincible, you couldn’t damage Monster Ock and if he caught up to you, you’d instantly die. You just had to swing away until you were saved by a cutscene.

    further reading: The Many Characters Who Wore the Venom Symbiote

    The 90s ended and so began the era of being embarrassed by things that happened in the 90s. While we did get a Venom vs. Carnage miniseries that mainly acted as a launch pad for the Carnage symbiote’s spawn Toxin (it didn’t take), Carnage was soon taken off the board. In the pages of New Avengers, Brian Michael Bendis had the Sentry show off how OP he was by grabbing Carnage, slamming him through several prison ceilings, flying him into space, and tearing him in half.

    Mac Gargan Venom was a thing around that time anyway, so we already had a 100% evil symbiote guy creeping around.

    After 5-6 years, Carnage finally came back in a miniseries simply called Carnageby Zeb Wells and Clayton Crane. It was originally going to be called Astonishing Spider-Man and Iron Man, but marketing realized that putting Carnage front and center would probably sell better. It revealed that Carnage survived the Sentry’s stunt and Cletus was kept alive by a corrupt prosthetics developer who gave him metal legs in exchange for using his symbiote to enhance his prosthetics technology.

    It all went horribly wrong and created another Carnage offspring in Scorn. She also did not take.

    There was a sequel called Carnage USA by the same creative team and I absolutely recommend it. Seemingly building up to some symbiote-related event comic that never came to be (Rick Remender’s Venomwas also guilty of this), the comic had to do with Carnage expanding to the point that he was able to take over an entire town in Colorado, along with Captain America, Wolverine, Thing, and Hawkeye.

    further reading: Venom Deleted Scenes Revealed

    This led to a lot of cool shit, including a Venom gorilla being chased by a Carnage-controlled stampede of escaped zoo animals, Venom’s Life Foundation children being used as military weapons, and a legless fight between Flash Thompson and Cletus Kasady. Oh, and the hilarious revelation that Hawkeye fucking HATES Ben Grimm and thinks all of his shtick is old and tired.

    Starting with the ho-hum yet cleverly named Minimum Carnage, Carnage started showing up in more stories with different creative teams forgetting that he was supposed to be missing his bottom half. He ended up in a really fun miniseries called Deadpool vs. Carnage where Deadpool was able to defeat Carnage in a way Spider-Man and Venom could not by shattering his confidence and breaking his spirit.

    This led to Carnage’s extremely fun turn in Axis, otherwise known as that event Marvel did where the good guys became bad guys and vice versa. Through magic mixed with psychic suggestion, Carnage was briefly driven to become a hero, but he didn’t exactly have a full grasp on what that meant. Him trying to punch a woman in the face just hard enough to knock her out but not crack her head, followed by boasting about a job well done was entertaining as hell.

    further reading: The 20 Year Quest to Make a Venom Movie

    Carnage then had a short-lived ongoing written by Gerry Conway with a story about a cult worshipping Carnage because he’d unleash some kind of Lovecraftian god or whatnot. All the while, a task force was put together to stop him. This was partially an exercise in removing the Toxin and Scorn symbiotes while setting up Eddie Brock’s return to being Venom.

    Over the years, the Carnage symbiote has possessed many hosts other than Cletus. There was Ben Reilly, Silver Surfer, an alternate universe Spider-Man, the Wizard, and so on. Its most high-profile instance was Norman Osborn, making him the final end boss of Dan Slott’s very lengthy run on Amazing Spider-Man. As the Red Goblin, Osborn was powerful enough that Spider-Man reluctantly took up Eddie Brock’s offer to borrow the Venom symbiote.

    As for Cletus, he’s back floating in space in pieces thanks to the events of Venomized. Long story.

    Even though Carnage only made a quick film appearance just recently, he’s reached one height that not even the likes of Thanos have ever hit: Carnage was on Broadway. Back in 2011, the butt of jokes everywhere was Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, known for its immense budget, laundry list of performer injuries, and iffy take on the source material. So iffy that there are two versions of the show that existed. There’s Julie Taymor’s fever dream original and the more coherent second attempt.

    further reading: Venom Director Wanted to Honor the Comics

    I was lucky enough to see the former in all of its ridiculous glory.

    Carnage appeared as a member of the Green Goblin’s Sinister Six alongside Kraven the Hunter, the Lizard, Electro, Swarm, and original character Swiss Miss. Yes, that’s seven characters. Just let it go. Carnage ended up being the best looking of the villains, since most others came off as looking like goofy sports mascots. He didn’t really do anything, but he was immortalized in this cringeworthy David Letterman performance.

    ...did Osborn suggest Kraven is into bestiality?

    Gavin Jasper writes for Den of Geek and still can’t believe Carnage never showed up in a single Capcom Marvel game. Read more of Gavin’s stuff here and follow him on Twitter @Gavin4L

    Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!


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    Hey, remember that time Dracula fought the Hulk? Or the X-Men? Or Spider-Man? No? Well, you're in luck, because we do!

    Marvel Comics Dracula vs Doctor Strange
    FeatureMarc Buxton
    Oct 16, 2018

    Dracula. The very name conjures images of sexuality, corruption, and decadence. From the original novel written by Bram Stoker in 1897 to the moment Bela Lugosi donned the famed opera cloak in 1931, the character of Dracula has been an iconic horror staple.

    In fact, Dracula has been the subject of 217 films, second only to the number of films starring Sherlock Holmes. But films, novels, and television aren't the only genres that have contained Dracula’s bloodlust. Comic books have been a compelling source for new Dracula material. Marvel Comics in particular have been a happy hunting ground for the Lord of the Vampires.

    After the easing of Comic Code restrictions in the early seventies, Stan Lee and Marvel were eager to explore classic monsters in the pages of their books. When the code loosened its grip, Lee and company were able to resurrect the four color boogiemen that lay forgotten for so long. In 1972, writer Gerry Conway and artist Gene Colan introduced Tomb of Dracula and a legend was born. Now there was a version of Dracula that borrowed from Stoker and Lugosi stalking the same fictional universe as Spider-Man and the Avengers.

    Soon, writer Marv Wolfman would take over the writing chores on Tomb of Dracula and create one of the greatest continuing horror sagas in comic book history. Within the pages of Tomb of Dracula, Wolfman introduced the vampiric detective Hannibal King, Lilith (Dracula’s Daughter), and most importantly, Blade, the Vampire Hunter, who later helped kick off the current superhero movie boom.

    Amazon has all your Marvel Dracula needs

    Dracula existed within the Marvel Universe, but other than rare occasions not many Marvel heroes appeared in Dracula’s book, giving the title a sense of isolation from the rest of the Marvel Universe. That is not to say that Dracula has not stalked the titles of the mainstream Marvel heroes. Oh no, dear reader, the Prince of Darkness has cast his shadow on many Marvel heroes, making him one of the greatest, if often overlooked villains in Marvel history. Here is a look at times Dracula, the greatest monster of them all, has stalked the Marvel Universe.

    Dracula Meets Spider-Man

    Giant Sized Spider-Man #1 (1974)

    In this tale, Aunt May is suffering from a rare blood disease because she’s Aunt May. Spidey learns that the only man that has the cure is an eccentric doctor that refuses to travel by plane. Spider-Man learns from Reed Richards that the scientist is traveling by ship, so Spidey gets his webbed ass to the ship to find the doctor.

    Also on board the ship are members of the Maggia who want the formula, and of course, Dracula himself who is also after it. Hilarity ensues as Dracula dispatches the crooks one by one, and throws the Maggia leader overboard.

    The book is a send up of the classic death at sea sequence of Stoker’s Dracula, as Dracula feeds off the Maggia onboard. While never featuring a direct confrontation between hero and vampire, this issue served as a warning...Dracula is out there.

    Buy it on Amazon

    Allied with the Avengers (1973)

    Avengers #118

    Ironically, one of the first times Dracula was drawn into the events of the Marvel Universe, he did so to defend humanity! In the Avengers/Defenders war, often considered to be the first true crossover in comics history, the Dread Dormammu opened a dimensional gateway to Earth. The Avengers and Defenders were stuck in Dormammu’s dimension so could not defend the Earth from an incursion by the savage Mindless Ones, headless beings that thrive on destruction. A group of super-powered champions on Earth, not knowing where the Mindless Ones were pouring on from, took up arms to protect their home.

    further reading: The Weird History of Marvel Superheroes vs Monsters

    One of these beings was none other than Dracula, who along with such heroes as Power Man, the Fantastic Four, and Ka-Zar, fought back against the Mindless Ones. But don’t think Dracula was acting magnanimously true believers; imagine if a horde of beasts was smashing your favorite eatery. That’s what Earth is to Dracula, a theme restaurant with an all you can eat buffet of jugulars.

    Yes, Dracula fought the Mindless Ones, but in doing so he made sure his food supply remained strong and proved to Marvel readers just how badass he was by taking on the Mindless Ones...creatures capable of going toe to toe with the Hulk!

    The Creation of Baron Blood (1976)

    Invaders #7

    One of Captain America’s most enduring foes was created by none other than Dracula. What’s more evil than a Nazi vampire? Pretty much nothing, which makes Baron Blood one of the most vile creatures in the Marvel Universe. In the dark days of World War II, John Farnsworth was an English aristocrat obsessed with vampire lore. When he travels to Transylvania, he encounters Dracula, who transforms Farnsworth into the living dead.

    Dracula sends blood to England to punish the country for the actions of Dracula’s nemesis Jonathon Harker. As Baron Blood, Farnsworth fought the Invaders, Captain America, and even his own brother who adopted the heroic persona of the first Union Jack.  

    Blood’s days of fighting for the Axis were cut short when the Sub-Mariner staked the bejesus out of him. Blood was resurrected in the modern day by a minion of Dracula and fought a legendary battle with his old foe, Captain America. Now, a Nazi vampire is pretty badass, but a Nazi vampire created by Dracula himself? That’s some legendary bloodsucker right there!

    Available in - Invaders Classic: The Complete Collection Vol. 1

    Marvel Comics Dracula vs Doctor Strange

    Dracula vs. Doctor Strange (1976)

    Tomb of Dracula #44

    The Lord of Darkness fed off Doctor Strange (he probably tasted like sage, cinnamon, and quickly forgotten dreams), in the pages of Tomb of Dracula #44. In Strange’s own book, Dracula locks the Sorcerer Supreme in a dungeon so he can watch the embraced Doctor arise as a vampire. That’s quite a sense of irony Marvel’s Dracula possesses, huh?

    further reading: Doctor Strange Comics Reading Order

    Little did Dracula know that Strange astral projected out of his body before Dracula could finish the fateful bite. Strange uses his astral form to mess with Dracula who furiously arrives at the dungeon after days of being mocked and prodded by the wizard.

    An awesome fight ensues between a vampiric Doctor Strange and Dracula which Strange wins by conjuring a blazing crucifix. The edge in the battle went to Strange who seemed to be one step ahead of Dracula, but let us not forget that during their first encounter Dracula easily dispatched Strange with one bite. Dracula’s mistake was letting Strange have time to plot, but the first struggle would foreshadow a climatic future encounter between the magician and vampire.

    You can read it here.

    Dracula vs. Howard the Duck? (1980)

    Howard the Duck Magazine #5

    Not all Dracula appearances in the Marvel Universe are legendary but that doesn’t make them any less cool. The following is a treatise on why comics are awesome.

    While visiting Cleveland, Dracula spots Howard the Duck. Thinking Howard to be a midget in a duck suit, the Lord of the Undead bites Howard (did I just type that?) but is disgusted by the non-human blood flowing in Howard’s veins. However, Howard is transformed into Drakula (not Duckula or Quakula?) and preys on other ducks.

    Howard is restored to his normal self and is actually able to stake Dracula before the vampire can feed off Howard’s hottie girlfriend, Beverly Switzer.

    Dracula Joins The Defenders (1981)

    Defenders #95 

    Ah, the Defenders. Long before they were edgy TV stars, they were the parking place for awesomely odd Bronze Age characters.

    In one of the non-team’s most memorable storylines, the Defenders were being beleaguered by the Six Fingered Hand. With newer members Hellcat, Gargoyle, and Son of Satan in tow, the Defenders arrive back to Doctor Strange’s mansion only to be attacked by a possessed Dracula. It seems the Six Fingered Hand had gained control over all vampires.

    Proving his awesomeness, the Son of Satan breaks the Hand’s control of Dracula, and agrees to help the Vampire Lord take back Transylvania from the Hand. The team with powerhouses like Strange and the Asgardian Valkyrie are just window dressing as the Son of Satan kicks the Hands' collective butts, destroys a metric ton of vampires by summoning sunlight, and saves Dracula’s undead bacon.

    further reading: 13 Essential Dracula Performances

    This was the first time Marvel used Dracula as an anti-hero in a super-hero title, an honorable villain who was as comfortable in the role of defender of his people as he was bloodsucking fiend. It was a brief union, but among his many roles in the Marvel Universe, Dracula will always be recognized as a Defender.

    Dracula vs. The X-Men (1982)

    Uncanny X-Men #159

    Monster mash-ups are a staple of the genre. While not traditional monsters at all, mutants meeting Dracula have the same cache as Dracula versus Frankenstein or the Wolfman, it’s just a match made, erm...not in heaven.

    Structured like a classic horror film, Uncanny X-Men #159 sees Storm the victim in a very odd mugging. When someone overpowered the weather goddess and cut her throat, Storm suddenly finds herself wanting to die, inviting a stranger through her window at night, drawing back from Kitty Pryde’s Star of David, and shunning sunlight. You don’t have to be Bram Stoker to see where this is going and an epic confrontation between vampire and mutant takes place. The X-Men take out Dracula’s monstrous rat and canine minions, but fall before Dracula, all except Nightcrawler who has the faith to drive the vampire off with a makeshift cross.

    When Storm arrives, Dracula finds that he cannot control the primal Storm, who stands tall and proud. In an awesome moment, Dracula tells Storm it was her inner strength that compelled him and after a standoff, Dracula retreats. This was Claremont at his finest, giving each X-Man a moment to shine and writing a classic and pretty damn scary Dracula in the process. The issue created an indelible bond between the X-Men and Dracula, one that stands till this day.

    further reading: Frankenstein - Comics' Greatest Monster

    In the 1982 Uncanny X-Men Annual #6, the battle between the X-Men and Dracula continues as Kitty Pryde is possessed by Dracula’s daughter and one of his most enduring foes, Lilith. It was another compelling confrontation that deepens the threat Dracula had on mutantkind.

    Dracula vs. Thor (1983)

    Thor #332

    Not satisfied with feeding off ducks, mutants, and wizards, Dracula sets his sights on embracing Lady Sif. In Thor #332, Dracula succeeds in feeding and turning Sif. In issue 333, Thor must face a Dracula empowered by god blood (comics = awesome), and an embraced Sif.

    This story was significant in showing what a powerhouse Dracula was and established the idea that if Dracula fed off a non-human being, he would be fueled by their powerful blood. Thor managed to free Sif, but not before fans realized that Dracula was a threat to everyone, god, mutant, or human.

    The Death of a Legend (1983)

    Doctor Strange #59-62

    In Doctor Strange #59-62, Strange and a group of companions including Dracula hunters Blade and the vampiric detective Hannibal King close all the plot threads left over from Tomb of Dracula and close the door on Marvel’s vampires for a quite a while. Aided by Avengers Captain Marvel (then Monica Rambeau) and the Scarlet Witch, Strange and company race to secure the Darkhold, a book which contains the Montessi Formula, a spell that will rid the Earth of Dracula and the curse of vampirism. Keep in mind that the Darkhold is an ancient magical book that created vampires in the first place.

    further reading: The Bleeding Heart of Dracula

    These issues are the type of storytelling that made Stern a legend, taking elements from Dracula’s appearance in X-Men (the first mention of the Formula) and Thor (whom Dracula is reluctant in facing when he sees the other Avengers by Strange’s side). By the end of the story, Strange does recite the formula and Dracula is finally destroyed.

    Like all good vampires, Dracula would eventually return, but the storyline has an epic sense of finality to it. After years of being plagued by Dracula, the Marvel heroes fight back destroying all vampires. For now…

    Dracula vs. The Fantastic Four (2000-2001)

    Before the Fantastic Four: The Storms

    Dracula’s shadow is cast far and wide across the history of the Marvel Universe. Before they were legends, Sue Storm and Johnny Storm find a mysterious amulet. The young siblings are attacked by zombies seeking the amulet for its power, zombies controlled by none other than Dracula, who lays inert, staked and comatose, using his mind to control the zombies so they may deliver the amulet to the vampire.

    The Storms, before they were Fantastic, must stop the zombies from taking the amulet to Transylvania to resurrect their puppet master. Even immobile, Dracula proves to be one of the most evil and capable beings in the Marvel Universe.

    X-Men: Apocalypse vs. Dracula (2006)

    The cool thing about this series is that it gave added weight to the idea that Dracula has had an impact on the history of the Marvel universe and that his ties to the world of mutants did not begin the day he tried to embrace Storm. Dracula begins embracing members of Apocalypse’s cult which wakes the legendary mutant to defend his followers. The book ties the history of the Van Helsing family into the war between mutant despot and vampire lord.

    You can read it here.

    Dracula on the Moon (2009)

    Captain Britain and MI:13 #10

    The so-called end of vampires arc in Doctor Strange was a large scale storyline bringing in many mainstream Marvel mainstays, but it had nothing on the grand tapestry of cool that was the Dracula arc in the late, lamented Captain Britain and MI:13 title. So, Dracula gathers a sect of vampires on the moon to set up a front for his attack on Earth. Just typing that sentence was awesome. Dracula forms a non-aggression pact with Dr. Doom and only the magic of MI:13 led by Captain Britain and Pete Wisdom has a hope of stopping Dracula.

    During the course of the arc, fans find out how brilliant Pete Wisdom is, that Dracula still holds a grudge against Muslims stemming back from his Vlad the Impaler days, that seeing Black Knight duel Dracula is pretty much better than anything else in the world, and that the legendary sword Excalibur wielded by a Muslim woman is more effective against Dracula than any crucifix.

    Seriously, stop reading this and track down this storyline, we’ll wait.

    Hulk vs. Dracula 

    Part of the Fear Itself mega-event, this battle between two legendary monsters took a form fans did not expect. During the course of Fear Itself, the Hulk was transformed into Nul, the Breaker of Worlds. When Thor knocked Nul into the Carpathian Mountains, the Hulk became a threat to Dracula’s sovereignty. Once again taking up the mantle of reluctant defender, Dracula most take on Nul with a group of vampires, the Forgotten at his side. The event book was another step into the modern evolution of Dracula and was the first time he appeared alongside the Hulk.

    An X feud renewed (2011)

    X-Men: Curse of the Mutants

    Dracula’s return to the X Universe also served as the introduction of the modern interpretation of the Lord of the Undead. Gone is his rocking ‘stache and suave opera cape, arriving is the white hair and Coppola-esque armor. The story is pretty cool, if needlessly complex at times, and introduces Dracula’s son, Xarus. Xarus goes to war with dear old dad with the X-Men and a group of Atlanteans caught in the middle. The whole thing ends with a fierce reminder, family or not, do not mess with Dracula.

    It's available on Amazon.

    The new look for Dracula would stay consistent across all Marvel media as it was this look that appeared in an episode of Avengers Assemble on Disney XD. The story arc also brings vampirism closer to the X-Men as never before as Jubilee, once the most innocent of the X-Men, is transformed into a vampire. What Claremont and company began in the early '80s continues today as Dracula’s influence on the X-Men looms like a constant shadow over the heroes!

    Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!


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