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    Nine Lives, a novelette from the late sci-fi great, Ursula K. Le Guin, is being developed as a movie.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Nov 14, 2018

    The legacy of the influential sci-fi author, Ursula K. Le Guin, appears to be highly coveted in the immediate aftermath of her death this past January, with live-action adaptation projects continuing to join the queue. While prospects are glistening for a movie adaptation of The Telling, as well as a properly-reverent movie adaptation of Le Guin’s sprawling magnum opus, the Earthsea novels, the latest project is a bit more of an esoteric choice from her works, a 1969 novelette, called Nine Lives.

    Nine Lives is expected to commence production in the summer of 2019 with U.K. producers Gavin Humphries (Pin Cushion) of Quark Films and former Sony Pictures International producer Josephine Rose, reports Deadline. Tom Basden will co-write the script with Siri Rodnes, an actress and burgeoning filmmaker, who will take the creative plunge as director. Basden, who procured a BAFTA nomination for writing the Netflix series, Fresh Meat, is the creator and writer for the ITV2 comedy, Plebs (soon to be adapted in the U.S. by Seth Rogen), on which he also co-stars. He also created the comedy series, Gap Year.

    In the latest news, via Deadline, the Nine Lives movie has procured its co-headliners in Jonny Lee Miller and Common.

    Miller, whose starring role as a modernized Sherlock Holmes on CBS’s Elementary is in production for its seventh season, mostly divides his time off the set for the theater, an endeavor for which he notably earned an Olivier Award win with Benedict Cumberbatch for their co-starring role in 2011’s London run of Frankenstein. He is also set for a Broadway run in director Rupert Goold’s Ink. Along with a two-decades-in-the-making role reprisal in 2017 sequel T2 Trainspotting, his more recent onscreen roles include Byzantium, Dark Shadows and a 2010 run on Showtime’s Dexter.

    Common, a Grammy-winning rapper, has been a fixture in film and television, recently appearing in movies such as Hunter Killer, The Hate U Give, Girls Trip, Meagan Leavey and Selma, with action turns in Suicide Squad, Run All Night and fielded a brutal onscreen scrap with a certain legendary hitman in John Wick: Chapter 2. His acting career also received a big boost from a memorable 2011-2014 co-starring run on AMC western series Hell on Wheels.

    Nine Lives was published by Le Guin in Playboy back in 1969, but under the sexist caveat – commonly practiced at the time – that her name be published as “U.K. Le Guinn” to hide her gender (à la Star Trek writer Dorothy “D.C.” Fontana). Apropos to the movie adaptation team’s comedic leanings, the story is a dark comedy, set on a drilling base on the Moon, where two ennui-afflicted workers are excited about the idea that their company is sending new personnel, only to learn that the arrivals are a set of ten clones. The story uses its sci-fi tropes to explore themes that remain relevant, such as technology-enabled isolationism and the erosion of individualism, as well as ontological questions about what defines life.

    Interestingly, with Le Guin known to be extremely critical of adaptations of her work (she famously lambasted the 2004 Earthsea TV movie), it may be somewhat poetic that Nine Lives writer/director Rodnes actually knew Le Guin, having met the American author after adapting one of her short stories at the NFTS film school in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England. Rodness procured a BAFTA nomination for the 2016 short, Take Your Partner, and was reportedly mentored by Ex Machina and Trainspotting producer Andrew Macdonald on the BFI’s Flare LGBT training program.

    We will keep you updated on the Nine Lives movie adaptation as things develop!

    Joseph Baxter is a contributor for Den of Geek and Syfy Wire. You can find his work here. Follow him on Twitter @josbaxter.


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    Fantastic Beasts was kind of a weird choice for a movie adaptation. Why not pick one of these random Potterverse books next?

    Feature Kayti Burt
    Nov 15, 2018

    Another round of Fantastic Beasts is shambling into theaters. Which means it's also time for another deep dive into the Potterverse with one of our favorite games: If Fantastic Beasts is fair game, then which other in-universe books from the Potterverse should get the big screen treatment?

    Here are our Potterverse movie adaptation pitches...

    Hogwarts, A History

    You know your mind jumped right to this oft-read-by-Hermione book. A compendium of everything that has ever happened at Hogwarts (give or take), it is probably chock full of ripe narrative for on-screen adaptation.

    We've mentioned before how much we want a Hogwarts Founders movie or TV show, but we'll take pretty much anything from this sure-to-be juicy tome.

    Quidditch Through the Ages

    Fact: People love sports. Other fact: People also love Harry Potter. I can only imagine what kind of heights you'd reach if you combined the two. Now that visual effects are better than ever, it seems like a perfect opportunity to tell a Harry Potter-verse story set mostly in the sky.

    further reading: Harry Potter: How Prisoner of Azkaban Changed Young Adult Cinema Forever

    Whether Warner Bros. wants to go the Mighty Ducks route or the Ballers route is up to them, I just think the Quidditch locker room would be a great place for drama. It's Friday Night Lights — but in the sky. 

    The Tales of Beetle the Bard

    This already got its own short film adapation in the form of the short, beautiful animated sequence seen in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, but there's enough story in this collection of children's stories to get a whole franchise going. 

    Or Netflix could make it an anthology series. You know you want to see an on-screen adaptation of Ron Weasley's fave: "Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump."

    The Adventures of Gilderoy Lockhart 

    Before he was hit with an Obliviate, before he was Hogwarts' most crushed-after professor, Gildeory Lockhart was a full-time golden-haired con artist pretending to go on adventures and save the day. In canon, Lockhart would learn the stories from the people who actually did them, Obliviate them, then claim them as his own in his bestselling books. I say we tweak that a bit to have Lockhart bumble along on these adventures before Obliviating his new friends and stealing their heroics.

    further reading: Harry Potter Movie Streaming Guide

    The Harry Potter verse could use an anti-hero protagonist. I suggest we start with Year With the Yeti.

    The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore

    Many a (very good) fan film has been made about the life of Albus Dumbledore, especially his early years. Heck, the Fantastic Beasts franchise is featuring a younger version of the book character in its second outing. Adapting Rita Skeeter's biography of the all-important wizarding figure would be particularly interesting if you kept the unreliable narrator aspect of Skeeter's work.

    Make it into a mockumentary or go the straight-forward route and tell the pretty tragic tale of Dumbledore's life. Either way, I would watch the heck out of The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore.

    The Monster Book of Monsters

    I think we all know that The Monster Book of Monsters is the superior creature-focused schoolback in the Potterverse. Unlike Fantastic Beasts, this book can actually be a character in its own adaptation. Hiding under beds. Biting people. Searching the wizarding world for an owner who can appreciate its particular brand of knowledge.

    It'll be like Monsters, Inc., except with more wizards.

    From Egg to Inferno: A Dragon-Keeper's Guide

    This one could star Charlie Weasley, a younger Newt Scamander, or some other random. Point is: Here be dragons. Everyone loves a good dragon (just ask Game of Thrones), and Harry Potter has woven them into the very fabric of its storytelling universe without fully commiting to the creature as a character. 

    This one would be like How to Train Your Dragon... but live-action. Warner Bros. has probably already started designing the VR experience.

    The Story of Minerva McGonagall

    This one isn't technically based on an in-universe book, but McGonagall's awesome life story has to be mentioned in the pages of both Hogwarts, A Historyand The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore, right? Besides, a film about Minerva McGonagall practically writes itself.

    Set the McGonagall biopic during her early years when she was helping her mom keep the messiness of magic from her Muggle father, stumping the Sorting Hat on whether she should be sorted into Gryffindor or Ravenclaw, and hanging out with Pomono Sprout (her future Hogwarts colleague). Or, you could jump into Minerva's post-graduation years, when she fell in love with a Muggle, but had to break both of their hearts because she couldn't tell him the secret of her magic. Best yet, set it during the First Wizarding World when McGonagall was a spy for the Ministry, suffering the losses of so many of her friends and family, including the Muggle she once fell in love with.

    Some of McGonagall's backstory is fleshed out in Rowling's recent ebook series Pottermore Presents, but there is always room for more McGonagall story.

    Which in-universe Harry Potter book would you like to see made into a movie or TV show? Share your picks in the comments below...

    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.


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    If Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald isn't enough to sate your Harry Potter needs, here are 9 fan-made Potter films to watch.

    Feature Kayti Burt
    Nov 16, 2018

    J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. have expanded the Harry Potter world exponentially in recent years, with everything from Fantastic Beasts to The Cursed Child, but they're not the only ones hungry to tell more stories in this magical world.

    Fans have been creating transformative works within the Harry Potteruniverse since the very beginning. In more recent years, this has taken the form of fan films made available via YouTube and other streaming platforms. While they vary in quality, they all bring something new to this beloved fictional universe.

    With Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwaldexpanding the Harry Pottercanon in theaters, let's take a look at how fans have been expanding that canon on their own time. Here are nine Harry Potter fan films to check out...

    Lily Evans and the Eleventh Hour/Stroke of Midnight

    While there's quite a few Harry Potter fan films that focus on the Marauder era of Hogwarts and beyond, most of them focus on James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter.

    While the Marauders are characters in the world of Lily Evans and the Eleventh Hour, and its sequel-of-sorts Lily Evans and the Stroke of Midnight, this world belongs to the young women of the year, with Lily Evans and Alice Fawley (aka Neville's mom) playing particularly major roles.

    With three parts lasting about 20 minutes in total in The Eleventh Hour, this fan film world is easy to catch up on. The new installment broadens the character list and the scope of the world, and clocks in at 27 minutes. The story takes place in the gang's final year at Hogwarts during Voldemort's initial rise to power. As Voldemort becomes ever more powerful, Lily and her friends debate what their responsibility is in fighting the dark forces as students in a changing world.

    The fan films are produced by a majority female crew by Apple Juice Productions, a company that aims to tell geeky stories with a feminist twist. Lily Evans and the Eleventh Hour/Stroke of Midnight is a great addition to that larger goal.

    The Greater Good

    The Fantastic Beasts prequel partially revolve around the relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald, two of the most powerful wizards of all time who took two very different paths. But before they moved their frenemy-ship to the world-wide scale, they were just two kids in Godric's Hollow.

    further reading: Harry Potter and the Problem with the Prequels

    The Greater Good, an incredibly-impressive fan film produced by Broad Strokes, aims to tell the story of the battle that would turn Dumbledore from best friends (and possibly lovers) to enemies. It is also the battle in which Dumbledore's little sister, Ariana, was killed by a stray curse, forever changing Dumbledore and his brother Aberforth.

    For my money, The Greater Good is a more realistic, character-driven portrayal of Grindelwald than we have seen from Fantastic Beasts so far.

    Severus Snape and the Marauders

    Another Broad Strokes production, Severus Snape and the Marauders tells the story of the iconic Marauders-era characters shortly after their graduation from Hogwarts from the perspective of Snape, who we know from the books was bullied by James and his cohorts.

    With incredible production values and a great script, Severus Snape and the Marauders may just be the best Harry Potter fan film out there — the kind of fan production that shows just how much narrative potential this world has when in the right hands.

    Mischief Managed

    Most fan films have an endearing, yet distracting awkwardness to them. Not Mischief Managed, a Marauders-set fan film from Foregone Films, that manages to make the world of James, Lily, and their friends feel lived in.

    further reading: 8 In-Universe Harry Potter Books to Be Made into Movies Next

    With amazing locations, some clever camera tricks, and a cast that looks like normal kids, Mischief Managed is the perfect fan film for those who aren't necessarily looking for a high-stakes story, but who want to spend time living in the world of Hogwarts. It's that rare fan film that feels completely natural.

    Voldemort: Origin of the Heir

    The trailer for Voldemort: Origin of the Heir has been viewed millions of times, and Warner Bros. even released an official statement giving the fan film its blessing (as long as it doesn't make any profit, of course).

    The film tells the story of Tom Marvolo Riddle, aka Lord Voldemort, from the perspective of the Heir of Gryffindor, the woman providing the voiceover in the trailer. Voldemort: Origin of the Heir proves that there is interest in learning more about this iconic character, particularly what the heck happened to his nose.

    The Day Muggles Found Out

    Ever wonder what the lives of non-English speaking witches and wizards is like? Check out The Day Muggles Found Out, an Italian language Harry Potter fan film that, while set in the wizarding world, has nothing to do with the characters of Harry Potter. Instead, it tells a completely original story about two Italian wizards dabbling in drugs.

    further reading: Fantastic Beasts 2 Filmmakers on How They Brought Back Hogwarts and Dumbledore

    From Italian director Giulio Fiore, The Day Muggles Found Out has incredibly effects and a uique presence. It's also worth watching for its interpretation of wizarding Polaroids alone. If you are an English language speaker, be sure to click on the closed captioning option for subtitles in English.

    Battle of Hogwarts

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is not my favorite of the Harry Potter films, and one of the reasons why lies in this ambitious Harry Potter fan film, Battle of Hogwarts, which shows the infamous battle that saw Harry sacrifice his life for his community from the perspectives of some of the other people who were involved on that day.

    None of the characters in this fan film are ones we know from the book, making this story and this world that much richer for the ways in which Harry's bravery was not unique to him or his friends, but to most of the Hogwarts community. 

    Le Maitre de le Mort (The Master of Death)

    Another fan film that tells the origin story of Voldemort in greater detail then the books, this French-language film is gorgeous to watch, with a particularly strong soundtrack and impressive sound design.

    With a 45-minute run time, La Maitre de le Mort is also one of the longest Harry Potter fan films, showing us everything from Tom Riddle being left as a baby at an orphanage to Tom's first murders. It's an incredibly dark, brutal film, but one that maintains a consistent beauty and style. 

    The OMEn Chronicles

    Another Harry Potter fan film that has nothing to do with the specific characters or setting of Harry Potter, The OMEn Chronicles is an action-driven story of the fight between good and evil as told through the struggle over a new relic calld The Fires of Olympus. As producer Wren Wichman describes it in the video's description: "In a world filled with magic, one mysterious person tries to keep a forgotten power safe from both the Officers of OMEn and the Evil forces wanting to corrupt it."

    If you're a fan of the most fast-paced parts of the Harry Potter world and th visual effects from the movies, then this fan film is the one for you.


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    From crime novels to non-fiction, J.K. Rowling has found some time to write outside of the Potterverse.

    FeatureKayti Burt
    Nov 17, 2018

    J.K. Rowling will always be best known for her stories about a boy wizard and the world he inhabits, but she has written several works outside of the Harry Potter universe. If you'd like to see what Rowling's writing is like when she is not telling a story about wizards, check out one of these books...

    The Casual Vacancy

    The Casual Vacancy is a contemporary novel that touches on many of the issues Rowling couldn't easily put in Harry Potter: drugs, prostitution, rape, the list goes on. This is not a novel for those looking for a Potter-like escape, but it is a deftly told story that addresses some of the biggest social issues of modern Britain in bleak, insightful ways.

    The premise? When a well-known local politician dies suddenly, the town of Pagford is thrown into an unexpected politic struggle over the question of who will fill his council seat, exposing the social fractures of the seemingly sleepy English town. The plot is told in seven parts (one for each Horcrux), and is definitely a slow burn, but it actually works as an interesting companion to Harry Potter.

    further reading: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Ending Explained

    I have heard several people mention The Casual Vacancy's interpretation of modern Britain as the Muggle world Dudley Dursley inherits, the one Harry doesn't have to live in because of his magical escape, and I think that is a fascinating framework. Don't go into this novel if you're looking for something like Harry Potter, though. There is no magic here. Only the unflinching mundane.

    The Casual Vacancy was made into a BBC/HBO miniseries starring Rory Kinnear, Emily Bevan (Amy from the wonderful In the Flesh), and Michael Gambon, if that's more your speed. You can check out the for The Casual Vacancy trailer here.

    The Cormoran Strike Detective Series

    Written under the pen name Robert Galbraith, the Cormoran Strike series follow the adventures of London-based private detective Cormoran Strike, a surly war veteran and illegitimate son of a famous rock star. Injured both physically and psychologically in the warm, Strike uses the skills he developed as a Special investigation Branch officer in the military to crack cases the police are unable to solve.

    The crime series has three installments so far: The Cuckoo's Calling, The Silkworm, and Career of Evil. Rowling is currently working on the fourth book in the series.

    further reading: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwad Review

    The Cormoran Strike series is not doing anything new in the crime genre, but it does include two interesting main characters and some clever cases, using an old-fashioned structure to explore contemporary issues, like celebrity culture, privacy, and a boundary-crossing press. 

    Very Good Lives (and other non-fiction)

    In addition to her novels and screenwriting, Rowling has written many non-fiction essays, book introductions, and op-eds. Her arguably most well-known pieces of non-fiction actually started as a speech. In 2008, Rowling delivered the Harvard Commencement address, a 24-minute speech on the "fringe benefits of failure" and the "importance of imagination." Here's a short excerpt: 

    Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared ...

    The power of human empathy, leading to collective action, saves lives, and frees prisoners. Ordinary people, whose personal well-being and security are assured, join together in huge numbers to save people they do not know, and will never meet. My small participation in that process was one of the most humbling and inspiring experiences of my life.

    In the time since, the speech has been published as a book called Very Good Lives, complete with illustrations to accompany the words.

    Buy Very Good Lives on Amazon

    Elsewhere in the non-fiction world, Rowling has written about children's rights and modern-day "orphanages" for The Guardian, reviewed Decca: The Letters of Jessica Mitford for the Telegraph, and wrote a profile on Gordon Brown for Time Magazine.

    Her Twitter account

    If this seems like a weak ploy to add another item to this list, then you've obviously never stopped by Rowling's Twitter handle. The woman was born to snark, criticize, and empower in 140 characters. If you are a Harry Potter fan, then you already know how witty and insightful Rowling can be, but if you need a quick example, just read a sample of her tweets...

    Have you read any of Rowling's non-Potterverse work? Do you have a favorite? Sound off in the comments below...


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    Jason Aaron's six-year Thor run climaxes in War of the Realms from Marvel.

    Marvel War of the Realms
    NewsJim Dandy
    Nov 18, 2018

    Jason Aaron's first issue of Thor: God of Thundercame out almost six years ago to the day, and since that issue, his entire Thor epic has been leading to this: a newly announced miniseries from Marvel, The War of the Realms.

    “I have been building towards War of the Realms for the entire duration of my Thor run. So we're talking six years and 80-something issues and counting. This is a war that covers the entire globe and involves the biggest heroes of the Marvel Universe," said Aaron in a statment from Marvel.

    The series gets the creative team of The Mighty Thorback together - Aaron writing, the amazing Russel Dauterman drawing, and perennially jobbed Eisner nominee Matt Wilson coloring.

    As you can see from the preview art, there are some not-surprising characters involved (Odin and All-Mother Freyja; the Avengers team also being written by Aaron) and some surprises (Cap riding a Valkyrie's horse; the Marvel Knights; what at first glance looks like a Uni-power enhanced Daredevil but upon closer inspection appears to be a Daredevil/Heimdall hybrid; Jane Foster with a sword).

    Aaron's run on Thor, through its various incarnations and crossovers, has been nothing short of incredible. The best runs on the Asgardian always examine what it means to be a god and build out the world of Asgard. It easily ranks as one of the greatest runs on the character ever, up there with Walt Simonson, Jack Kirby, or Michael Avon Oeming's time with the character. The trick with his story has been to turn Odinson into Peter Parker - not by making him quippy or cursed with the Parker luck, but by making him a point of view character. Aaron's Thor is wracked with self-doubt but inspired to do better (mostly by the women in his life but shhh don't tell anybody or Twitter will get mad). This hasn't typically been the case, and it's a huge part of the success of this run.

    Of course, he has also been blessed with artists who can match the grandeur of the tales - Esad Ribic, Mike Del Mundo, Christian Ward, and of course Dauterman. This series should be a blast, and this omnibus is going to look great on my shelf.


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    We discuss Alan Moore Superman stories and answer the question: when is Superman's birthday, anyway?

    Superman: For the Man Who Has Everything by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
    FeatureMike Cecchini
    Nov 18, 2018

    Alan Moore’s body of work for DC Comics isn’t exactly small, but its impact far exceeds the actual page count. Whether it was the psychedelic horror of Swamp Thing, the violent madness of Batman: The Killing Joke, or the industry changing Watchmen, the importance Moore's DC Comics output can't be overstated.

    He's probably not a writer you immediately associate with Superman, though. Alan Moore only wrote three proper Superman stories (although he would revisit many of the character’s tropes with Supremefor Image Comics in the late ‘90s), but they’re all essential reading. Moore's Superman stories all came within roughly one year of each other, at a time when Superman’s popularity was waning among fans already looking for more mature takes on superheroes, like the work of Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Dave Cockrum, and others were doing at Marvel on Uncanny X-Men, or that Marv Wolfman and George Perez were bringing to The New Teen Titans at DC.

    Superman himself was the most powerful he would ever be, (the power levels of this era are often referred to informally as “juggling planets,” although that’s not something I ever remember actually seeing in a Superman comic) with eyes that “watched quarks at play” and a level of invulnerability of such a level that he “bathed in the heart of the sun, careless at the mile-high geysers of flame.” Perhaps as a result, the comics themselves, the occasional standout tale by Cary Bates, Marv Wolfman, or Elliot S! Maggin aside, were becoming increasingly formulaic and dull, despite continued artistic contributions from legends like Curt Swan, Murphy Anderson, Kurt Schaffenberger, Gil Kane, or Keith Giffen.

    Between 1985 (when the first of Moore's Superman stories was published) and 1986 (the last), DC was in the midst of a massive continuity housecleaning known as Crisis on Infinite Earths. One of the end results of Crisiswould be a Superman with more manageable power levels, less of a reliance on bizarre sci-fi concepts, and a creative team consisting of some of the hottest names in the business telling more grounded tales theoretically more suitable for modern audiences.

    But it was the virtually all-powerful pre-Crisis Superman that Alan Moore and friends got to play with and subvert. And to hear Moore tell it (or to read his work on Superman love-letter Supreme), he wouldn't have had it any other way. "What it was with Superman was the incredible range of imagination on display with that original character,"he said in a 1996 interview. "A lot of those concepts that were attached to Superman, which may seem corny and dated now, were wonderful at the time. The idea of the Bottled City of Kandor, Krypto the Superdog, Bizarro, all of it. These are fantastic ideas, and it was that which kept me going back each month to Superman when I was ten. I wanted to find out more about this incredible world with all of these fascinating details."

    Of course it was those very aspects of the Superman legend that would be swept out of Superman continuity a month after Moore's final Superman story. He still added a few "fascinating details" of his own in his time, though. Here's a quick look at them.

    “The Jungle Line”

    DC Comics Presents #85 (1985)

    In the 1980s, Superman was unquestionably the face of DC Comics, starring in four monthly titles: Superman, Action Comics, World’s Finest (a team-up book with Batman, the title of which will be nicely utilized for the upcoming Flash/Supergirl TV crossover), and DC Comics Presents. DC Comics Presents would pair Superman with another hero (or heroes), usually a more obscure character, and DC Comics Presents #85 marked Swamp Thing’s turn.

    In 1985, only two DC Comics characters had ever made it to the big screen for a feature film. Superman had three under his belt (although the quality of those movies was already in decline, with 1983’s Superman III leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouths), while Swamp Thing had his first big screen outing in 1982, with a flick directed by Wes Craven. They don’t seem like prime team-up candidates in any case, though.

    “The Jungle Line” is far less famous than Moore’s other two Superman stories and his essential, defining run as writer of Swamp Thing's monthly book. But check out the talent that brought this one to life with him. Rick Veitch (Moore’s ultimate heir on Swamp Thing) provides pencils with the legendary Al Williamson (StarWars, Flash Gordon, you name it) and Tatjana Wood (who also provided colors for Moore’s Swamp Thing and the Grant Morrison Animal Man era) on colors.

    In short, Superman has been poisoned by a piece of Kryptonian fungus that made its way to Earth on a tiny hunk of meteorite. Now he’s losing both his powers and his mind as his body dies. Mad with fever, “the Man of Tomorrow is heading south to die.” After wrecking his car, a hallucinating Supes wanders into the bayou (as one does), where he attracts the attention of Swamp Thing.

    Superman doesn’t do any actual heroics in this one. The story kicks off with him already seriously ill and hallucinating before it gives us a brief flashback establishing how this happened. Superman accepts he’s going to die, but then he encounters Swamp Thing, who cleanses and heals his fevered brain. Moore’s Superman stories routinely put Kal-El in situations he can’t punch his way out of and “The Jungle Line” is probably the most passive Supes is in any of these outings.

    There may or may not be something to be said about a fungus causing Superman to trip his indestructible balls off while it takes a mellowing, peaceful green sensation to bring him back down:

    Keep in mind that about a decade later, when Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon were steering John Constantine's adventures, ol' Swampy counted this little number among his party tricks...

    So, yeah, draw your own conclusions.

    Interestingly, this is the only time I can remember seeing the Bronze Age Superman with a five o’clock shadow. After he has been healed by Swamp Thing, he uses his heat vision reflected off a mirror to shave. This little trick is generally credited to John Byrne's Superman reboot of 1986 with the Man of Steel limited series, but here it is in all its glory, just over a year before that story hit the stands.

    Other than that, this is unquestionably a pre-Crisis Superman story (Crisis on Infinite Earths reached the halfway mark the same month “The Jungle Line” was published). Moore proves himself thoroughly literate in Silver/Bronze Age Superman lore by referencing obscure bits of Kryptoniana (in this case the Scarlet Jungles of Krypton, which had been kicking around the margins since the '50s). Moore's love of obscure Super-history is something we’ll see again in “For The Man Who Has Everything” and “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow.”

    “The Jungle Line” is collected in DC Universe by Alan Moore (available through Amazon here) and would fit in chronologically roughly between Swamp Thing #39 and #40 if you're going by publication order, although it isn't reprinted in any of the actual Swamp Thing volumes. It doesn't matter, though. You don’t need any prior knowledge of Moore’s ongoing Swamp Thing series in order to appreciate this. It's admittedly the weakest of the Moore Superman tales and doesn't approach the weirdness Moore and Veitch were delivering in Swampy's solo title.

    Side Note: Can anyone tell me who the astronomer who does the necessary scientific exposition on page 3 of this story is supposed to be? He’s identified as “Dr. Everett,” but Veitch/Williamson draw him like he’s supposed to be someone a reader would recognize. If you have some insight, drop me a line in the comments or on Twitter, and I’ll update this story.

    "For The Man Who Has Everything"

    Superman Annual #11 (1985)

    If the creative team of “The Jungle Line” didn’t kick your ass, then the team behind Watchmenshould do the trick. Dave Gibbons steps in for art duties on this one, a solid year before the ultimate Moore/Gibbons story, Watchmen, would arrive in June of 1986.

    This one is really the main event for this article. “For The Man Who Has Everything” is one of the finest Superman stories ever told, one of the most perfectly crafted superhero stories in DC Comics history, and one of the best stories Moore ever put his name on. 

    You have to consider when “For The Man Who Has Everything” was published in order to fully appreciate its impact. With the occasional exception, the Superman comics of the early 1980s were extraordinarily pedestrian affairs, so “For The Man Who Has Everything” surely stood out from its peers. But even for today's more demanding readers, and in an industry that has spent the past thirty years chasing its tail looking for the next Watchmen, if “For The Man Who Has Everything” were published today, it would still hit with the force of a Kryptonian haymaker. 

    The story plays loosely with the “imaginary story” device that was popular in the Superman titles from the 1950s through the early 1980s. Simply put, they were “what if” tales with no place in continuity, often dealing with hypotheticals like "The Story of Superman Red and Superman Blue" or the original "Death of Superman" (the one that had nothing at all to do with Doomsday). 

    But Moore and Gibbons chose not to simply tell a “what if Krypton never exploded” tale, which would have still allowed them plenty of opportunity to play around with the darker take on a hypothetical Kryptonian present. Instead, their story of a Krypton that survived and a Kal-El who lived his life on it is happening only in Superman’s imagination, while a very real battle involving Wonder Woman, Batman, and Robin rages around him, with his very life at stake.

    As he did in “The Jungle Line,” Superman once again finds himself a victim of alien plant life. The issue’s villain, Mongul (who had famously tangled with Superman a handful of times in the pages of DC Comics Presents), describes the Black Mercy as “something between a plant and an intelligent fungus” which “attaches itself to its victims in a form of symbiosis, feeding from their bio-aura.” The telepathic plant “reads them like a book, and...feeds them a logical simulation of the happy ending they desire.” It shouldn’t be fatal, but why would you fight a parasite that gives you a convincing illusion of your heart’s desire?

    further reading: Why Kevin Smith's Superman Lives Was Ahead of Its Time

    Superman’s fondest wish is, of course, a Krypton that was never destroyed, and where he has lived twenty-something years of his life and raised a family of his own. Perhaps in a sign that he subconsciously suspects something is wrong, this "dream" life isn’t free of complications. His mother, Lara, died of “the eating sickness,” while his father, Jor-El, was disgraced after his predictions about Krypton’s end failed to come to pass. As a result, Jor-El is courting religious and cultural extremists who have taken root on Krypton, while Kryptonian citizens decide to take out their frustrations with the House of El by beating Kara Zor-El (who only actually appears in one panel of the story) nearly to death.

    “For the Man Who Has Everything” once again takes Superman off the board as an action hero for the majority of the issue, as he’s trapped in a fantasy world created by the Black Mercy. But Superman doesn't need to hit stuff in order to solve his problems, and he begins to shake off the effects of the Black Mercy once he realizes that this world can't be real. It's heartbreaking when it happens, though...

    Superman woke up from his bad fungus trip in “The Jungle Line” feeling like he had conquered an inner demon (unaware that he was assisted by Swamp Thing), perhaps spiritually refreshed in the way that experimentation with certain psychoactive substances has been known to affect people.

    Here, he wakes up righteously pissed off, and with good reason. He just lived about 25 years in his head and raised two children there. Waking up to find they aren’t real, ummmm...he doesn’t take it very well.

    Quick note: Dave Gibbons also did the lettering for this issue, which gives us such unforgettable onomatopoeia as “THRUTCH” and the above “SSSHIZZZZZIIT” 

    While the idea of Superman basically losing his shit on Mongul like this may seem like old hat to people who just expect their Kryptonians to behave like video game protagonists most of the time, it's really much more effective when it only happens rarely. When written properly, Superman, even in action, is a calm, level-headed guy who uses violence as a last resort. He's got a long fuse, but when it goes off, well..."burn." 

    Moore and Gibbons effortlessly weave references to Kryptonian history throughout the story, including a quick mention of Fort Rozz, which was also made famous on the SupergirlTV series. And right on the first page, there’s a sideways reference to Moore’s previous Superman story, which was published exactly two weeks earlier than Superman Annual#11. As an exhausted Kal-El returns home, he contemplates reading his children “another Scarlet Jungle story before bed.” Maybe that story is a variation on "The Jungle Line" and this is a manifestation of Supes' unconscious from his previous adventure.

    While its basic elements and structure are timeless, "For The Man Who Has Everything" is a story that really does work best within this particular era of Superman. Superman isn't just a hero to Earth, he's an intergalacticaly recognized figure. The Black Mercy gets to him because he just assumes it's a birthday gift from some alien civilization he has helped out on one of his countless adventures. Saving worlds, even alien worlds, is just a day at the office for this Superman. The kind of inner turmoil that nearly 30 years lived inside his mind that the Black Mercy gives him is something else entirely. The story gives us a wonderful contrast between Superman as a physical, interstellar man of action, and the mortal, human soul that lies within.

    further reading: Every Superman and DC Comics Reference in Man of Steel

    While Superman is obviously the central character here, the rest of DC's Trinity shouldn't be ignored, either. Dave Gibbons draws perfect renditions of Wonder Woman, Batman, and Robin. Batman is a suitably aloof, analytical "Mr. Spock" for the tale, but far from the brooding paranoiac we've come to expect in recent years. Wonder Woman is given not one, but two fist-pumpingly badass moments, since she's the only one in the Fortress with the raw power to stand up to Mongul. She's as comfortable with her demigod status and has a worldly, almost laid back personality that I don't believe was really a factor in 1985. It’s somewhat fitting, too, that the Watchmencreators chose Robin, the least powerful of the bunch, to ultimately defeat Mongul. 

    Take a brief moment and imagine an alternate universe where Moore and Gibbons didn't take on Watchmenin 1986, but rather spent a year or so as the creative team on Supermanor Action Comics. Holy moley, that would have been something.

    “For The Man Who Has Everything” was also adapted as an episode of Justice League Unlimited., and somewhat more loosely as an episode of Supergirl. It's a shame that we'll never see anyone with the guts to try and do this as a movie

    You can find “For The Man Who Has Everything” in DC Universe Stories by Alan Moore

    A note about Superman's birthday.

    "For The Man Who Has Everything" contains what I believe is the first mention of Superman’s birthday falling on February 29th  (if I'm wrong, yell at me in the comments), traditionally known as Leap Day. It's unknown whether this was a sly reference to Superman being "able to leap tall buildings in a single bound," an editorial mandate, or Moore/Gibbons playing with the idea that if Superman only has a birthday every four years, it explains why the guy still fits into the same tights he did back in 1938. The February 29th date was utilized for Superman’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 1988, too.

    But Supes has had several birthdays established. For one thing, Clark Kent's birthday would always be the date the Kents found baby Kal-El in a rocket. Geoff Johns and Gary Frank's Superman: Secret Origin put Clark Kent's birthday on December 1st. What Kal-El's actual Kryptonian birthday would be in relation to Earth's own trip around the sun is only relevant if you want it to be, but some accounts place it in October while others put it on June 18th (coincidentally, that's the birthday of the first actor to portray Superman, the great Bud Collyer). Action Comics #1 has a June, 1938 cover date, but probably actually hit newsstands in late February of 1938. There was no February 29th in 1938, though.

    Alright, I spent way too much time on that. We've got one more story to get to...

    "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" 

    Superman #423 and Action Comics #583 (1986)

    I’m going to tread lightly here, but it has to be said: “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” is a great Superman story, but it’s no “For The Man Who Has Everything.” Just a word of warning...it's impossible to talk about this one without spoilers, too, but I'm trying my damndest to keep this light on those. No matter what, as with "For The Man Who Has Everything," you should absolutely read this comic.

    This story marks the official "end" of the Silver/Bronze Age Superman, as well as Julius Schwartz's 15-year tenure as editor on the Superman titles. The decision to treat the final issues of Supermanand Action Comics before John Byrne’s Man of Steelreboot (the word used at the time was "revamp" because there was no such word as "reboot") as if they were actually the final Superman stories was a brilliant one, and it's difficult to imagine anything this ballsy ever being allowed by DC's corporate masters ever again.

    Schwartz wanted to get Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel to write the final story (Siegel was also the author of one of the finest Superman "imaginary stories" of all time, 1961's "The Death of Superman"), but he was unavailable. Over breakfast with Alan Moore, Schwartz casually mentioned his plan and was told "if you let anybody but me write that story, I'll kill you." Have you ever seen Alan Moore? I'd take that seriously, too. Schwartz felt the same way. "Since I didn't want to be an accessory to my own murder,"he recalled, "I agreed." Perhaps in a final attempt to hedge their bets, the tale is billed as one of those famous "Imaginary Stories" but it's ultimately up to the reader to decide whether it suits their needs. 

    Moore is paired not with a Watchmenor Swamp Thing artistic collaborator this time around, but Curt Swan. Swan is unquestionably the Superman artist of the Bronze Age, and he is indelibly associated with this era of the character. There is something almost jarring to seeing Alan Moore helping to steer "traditional" Curt Swan Superman illustrations down a darker path, but really, nobody else should have been allowed to draw this story. It all helps with the illusion that this is indeed the abrupt end of Superman's nearly 50-year publication history.

    But there’s something aggressively downbeat about the proceedings, and it’s far from the triumphant sendoff that one might expect (for a more optimistic look at what Superman’s final days might look like, you can and absolutely should seek out Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All-Star Superman). Nearly every important piece of Superman's supporting cast makes an appearance in these 48 pages, and it doesn't turn out well for the vast majority of them. Superman breaks down and weeps at one point after a masterful piece of emotional manipulation by the creative team that is equally as effective on the reader. 

    further reading: The JJ Abrams Superman Movie You Never Saw

    Even a formerly comedic character like Bizarro gets a chilling makeover, while the new, aggressively cybernetic Brainiac/Luthor team is an effective, if subtle, piece of genuine (if Comics Code approved) body horror. It’s not something you would normally see come from Curt Swan’s pencil, which makes these moments even more effective than they might have been from a Rick Veitch or a Dave Gibbons. Superman does take a life in this story, and this story has found itself cited in wrongheaded "See? Superman does kill sometimes, bro" defenses. It's no accident what he does, to be certain, but his self-imposed penalty is a suitable consequence.

    There are a handful of parallels to Watchmenworth noting, too. There's the weight of decades of superhero adventures that the reader may or may not be privy to, and a creeping sense of middle age dread and inevitability informing our hero's actions. The ending reveals Lois Lane and her disguised/retired husband living a life of domestic bliss a decade removed from the events of the story. This faintly recalls Night Owl and Silk Spectre’s future from the conclusion of Watchmen, while Clark’s decision to become a mechanic in his post-superhero career is reminiscent of how the Golden Age Night Owl spent his retirement in Watchmen, as well. These might be coincidental, especially since the final issue of Watchmenwouldn't see the light of day until well over a year after this story.

    But as any Superman story should, it ends on a hopeful note...and with a wink. "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow"is available in a deluxe edition, or you can just (say it with me) get it in DC Universe Stories by Alan Moore.

    It has been said that Mike Cecchini spends too much time thinking about Superman stories. Worship Rao with him on Twitter.


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  • 11/19/18--12:24: Aquaman: The End of an Era
  • Dan Abnett talks about bringing the Rebirth era of Aquaman to a close for DC Comics with Aquaman #42.

    Aquaman 42 Cover from DC Comics
    InterviewMarc Buxton
    Nov 19, 2018

    Dan Abnett took over the writing chores of Aquaman during the tail end of the New 52 era of DC Comics. Starting in 2016, Abnett became one of the few DC writers to bridge the New 52 and Rebirth eras. And with good reason, because in the pages of Aquaman, Abnett was weaving a George R.R. Martin-esque tale of betrayal, adventure, romance, horror, and heroism. The Rebirth Aquaman series took a deep dive into the heroic psyche of Arthur Curry and presented one of the most compelling runs in the history of the character, redefining Mera and introducing new adversaries and allies along the way.

    Now, one the eve of Abnett’s Aquaman run coming to an end, he discusses he take on Atlantis, his amazing work on Mera, and… Jabberjaw?

    Den of Geek: What was your initial idea that got you the Aquaman writing gig?

    Dan Abnett: In broad terms, it was about returning Aquaman to his core as a character, returning continuity to the very nice tone Geoff Johns had established during his run, making more of Mera - who I recognized as a seriously underused character in the DCU - and really, I suppose, examining Arthur’s role as a man of two worlds, as a creature of the shore, caught between land and sea. I wanted to build out his supporting cast and his rogue’s gallery. And I wanted to attack head-on his bad rep in general popular culture as the "lame" superhero, the epitome of "silly super heroics."

    You were one of the few creators that carried over from the New-52 era to the Rebirth era, talk about how the decision was made? Why was Aquaman one of the few titles that stayed as is?

    I did, on both Aquaman and Titans. I think it helped my runs on both had just started, though I guess they must’ve liked me. For Titans, it was pretty straightforward - I simply truncated to 8 issues what I had been doing in Titans Hunt and used the return of Wally as the springboard for the new ongoing.

    For Aquaman is was slightly tougher…Rebirth Aquaman had to start with a big "recapitulation" of what he was and where we were going, and we’d just DONE that. The continuity wasn’t shifting…Aquaman wasn’t considered "broken" and in need of refreshing. So, I had to relaunch on a strong beat that re-achieved what I’d only just achieved, a new statement of intent that I framed with the Atlantean embassy on land, the return of Black Manta, and the threat of Nemo.

    You had a brief stint on Aquaman in 1998, did anything carry over into the modern run? Themes? Character beats?

    Not so much. The book was pretty different then. That brief stint was almost an audition, and they ended up turning to a bigger name for the book. What really did carry over was my interest in the character. I felt there was huge potential. I’ve always loved “cosmic” superheroes, and with Aquaman I felt there was a great thread of "fantasy" superhero (in terms of genre), which could be built up with the same serious intent at world building as a cosmic book.

    Who is Aquaman to you, and despite all the jokes and misconceptions about the character, why has he endured?

    I think what’s "wrong" with him as a character in popular thinking (he’s a silly, fish-talking mermaid guy and not a "serious" superhero - thanks, Adult Swim, Big Bang Theory, etc.) is the very thing that makes him strong "in-Universe" and makes him interesting to write. He is fundamentally misunderstood and pre-judged. He’s feared as a bit strange and goofy.

    further reading: Grant Morrison Returns to the DC Universe

    The reality is this noble, passionate, dedicated, and frankly scary and powerful hero. Playing with that contrast, with the preconceptions, is huge fun. I see him in the DCU as experiencing exactly the same attitudes as the comic character in the real world, and I deliberately shifted that attitude into the book. As I said, he’s a man of two worlds, passionate about land and sea, aware of his own divided self and divided loyalties. His home - the lighthouse - perfectly symbolizes him: he stands on the shore between water and dry land, watching over both.

    Now that it’s over, what was the arc you guided Aquaman through? What were you hoping to accomplish with the character?

    It started out very political. Aquaman isn’t just a superhero, he’s a king. A nation depends on him. I wanted to examine that and look at the incompatibilities between the two roles. Can you be a monarch and a hero? That carried on all the way through, and ran alongside the "rise" of Mera, who was born to rule but didn’t much want to. I guess it was about how you can’t always meet your responsibilities, because they might actively clash. But it’s the trying that counts.

    The word "epic" gets thrown around a lot and at inappropriate times, but your run was truly epic. Talk about the world building you did in Aquaman.

    I wanted to make Atlantis (and by extension Xebel and the entire undersea world) as well-realized and credible as possible, not just a "toy castle at the bottom of a fish tank." I wanted there to be a society, lots of characters in the Atlantean court, and intrigue too. I wanted to name things and create credible terms for things and show that Atlantis was a huge society where there were different schools of thought, that not everyone agreed. I wanted to make Atlantis one the key characters in the book and, by “Underworld” I think that was happening.

    Obviously Geoff Johns was a huge influence on the book. Can you talk about any collaboration with Johns you might have had in realizing your Aquaman?

    Geoff was great. We talked about things a lot. I felt he’d got the basic balance right and wanted to be true to that…but it was also a slight hindrance (I’m sure he won’t mind me saying so) in that there were things he still wanted to do with the character, and thus whole areas I felt obliged to avoid and "leave" for him. I guess that made me particularly inventive in terms of where I went and what I created.

    Other than Johns, who were some literary influences on the high fantasy aspects of your Aquaman? I heard your Aquaman being compared to Game of Thrones many times.

    I guess so, in the dynastic intrigue. Frank Herbert’s Dune more so, in terms of intrigue and of building a rounded culture based on a specific quality. All sorts of things, really. It may sound arrogant, but I guess I also looked to the things I’d done on cosmic series, like Guardians of the Galaxy, trying to create a credible "non-terrestrial" society that was curious and enticing.

    Talk about Brad Walker and some of your other artists. What were some artistic highlights for you?

    Every artist was great. Brad was fantastic (I knew that in advance because of our time together on Guardians of the Galaxy), but in that first year we were double-shipping, and we were obliged to tag-team the art just to keep ahead. Brad worked alongside Scott Eaton and Philip Brionnes and they each did superb work, seamlessly. In the later stages, Stjepan Sejic did amazing work, and then was followed by the extraordinary art of Riccardo Federici and Robson Rocha (and you know what that led to for Robson!). All of them incredible, and vital to the strength of the book. I also, for one guest issue, got to write for Kelley Jones, whose work I have admired since always. That was a surprise and joy, and I was delighted to learn he really loved doing it.

    Did you scratch your Aqua-itch, or do you have any more to say about Aquaman and his world?

    Kinda. I love the character very much, and am happy to go out on such a high with such a big story, but there’s always room for more, right?

    I think your highpoint was your work on Mera. I adored her mini-series. How did that project come about and what were you hoping to accomplish?

    I always felt Mera was an underused character, the "most underappreciated," overlooked character in the DCU. She had to have a big role, her personality demanded it. I wanted to elevate her in peoples’ minds. To that end, I got her a place on the Justice League (at long last), and then got to explore her background in the limited series, which was a fantastic project - and her first time as a lead character ever. I’m pretty proud of my work on her as a character and the greater exposure she got.

    Which Aquaman rogue did you most enjoy writing?

    Probably Corum Rath. But writing Black Manta and Ocean Master were also very satisfying things to do. Then there’s Dead Water…

    What are you most proud of in regards to your run?

    The big stories, of course. The role of Mera. But mostly the chance to write a book in an unbroken run that lasted fifty issues (allowing for pre-Rebirth and Mera). That’s rare in this day and age, and it was great to have that creative room and keep the audience with me. It’s a distinct and sustained era for the character’s history. That makes me proud.

    Of course, we can’t ignore the 600 pound shark in the room. Jabberjaw? How the heck did that awesome project come about?

    Well, there’s this crazy guy called Dan Didio… I was asked. It was too much of a WTF project to turn down, especially when I realized I could, essentially, keep Aquaman "in continuity" despite the insane premise.

    Were you consulted at all on the Aquaman movie?

    No. I guess we’ll see if they read any of my run.

    In regards to Sub-Mariner, Joe Quesada once said it’s hard to get a reader to relate to Namor’s world because it’s difficult to ground a character who is surrounded by guards with crab shields, etc. How did you ground your Aquaman and balance the relatable with the fantastic?

    Joe also told me (repeatedly) “I don’t get cosmic” during my Guardians of the Galaxy run, so… I write a lot of SF and Fantasy (in novels, in 2000AD). I love it. I really love blending those genres with the superhero genre, so it was a gift for me. You’ve always got to do it with complete conviction, with a straight face (no matter the in-story humor). You’ve got to believe in the world you’re depicting with utter commitment and try to make it as engaging and authentic as you can. I wrote to make people believe, crab shields or no crab shields.

    Aquaman is one of the few characters that fits into a fantasy and a super hero setting. How did you find the balance between high fantasy and traditional super hero adventure?

    See above. Sometimes I think an SF of Fantasy setting actually helps to ground a superhero. Real world superheroes work superbly well, no question, but that’s the core of the trope. In an SF or Fantasy setting, they can become more mythical - less "larger than real life," more part of a fantastical construct. There’s no reason to believe in them any less.

    Any words of farewell to King Arthur?

    It’s been wild and I’ve loved it. I’ve appreciated the epic opportunity and hope I’ve acquitted myself well. And there’s always the next time…

    What characters would you like to tackle next at DC?

    I really love the core characters, many of whom I’ve written now and then: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman. I’d love to take a swing at Green Arrow, and I love DCU magic, so Zatanna and John Constantine. But I may just have landed my perfect, dream, tailor-made-for-me project, so watch this space…

    Aquaman #42, the conclusion of Dan Abnett's tenure as writer on the book, arrives on Nov. 21. Check out these exclusive preview pages!



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    We talked to Rivers of London author Ben Aaronovitch about writing about intersectional identities beyond his own experiences and identity.

    FeatureAlana Joli Abbott
    Nov 19, 2018

    Lies Sleeping, the latest installment in Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series is out November 20th. The series follows Probationary Constable Peter Grant in his journey to magical detective-hood.

    As a newcomer to Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series about a London-based detective solving supernatural crimes, one of the things that surprised me most about the British book series is the rich intersectionality of narrator-protagonist PC Peter Grant.

    Grant is the son of a white British jazz musician and a Fula mother from Sierra Leone. Peter doesn’t identify himself as “black” in the pages of Lies Sleeping, but he very much identifies himself as the child of an African mother, and he identifies “whites” as "other." That gives him a unique worldview for the paranormal mystery genre, but it’s not his sole identifier. He’s also a magical practitioner, a detective constable (by Lies Sleeping), the boyfriend of a river goddess, an SFF fan, and an atheist (despite, or perhaps because of, dating a goddess).

    Read Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch

    I recently finished reading the excellent Writing the Other, a guide for writers hoping to create realistic characters who don’t share their worldview. This is in contrast to writers of the #OwnVoices movement, who are writing about underrepresented characters or communities informed by their own experiences and identity. The book has inspired courses for writers hoping to better their own fiction by understanding how to write nuanced and fully-fleshed characters from different backgrounds, particularly those of race, (sexual) orientation, age, ability, religion, and sex (termed ROAARS traits). Authors Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward discuss the “unmarked state,” or assumed characteristics of most point of view characters (very frequently in fiction white, straight, young, able-bodied, male), and make note that the idea of the unmarked state is itself problematic.

    Aaronovitch, through Peter’s worldview, does an excellent job of subverting the idea that any of the common traits that define a “normal” character can be assumed. Part of this is how Aaronovitch counters expectations through naming conventions. Dr. Abdul Haqq Walid’s name likely causes readers to assume, on first encounter, that Walid is of Middle Eastern extraction. Instead, Walid is a Scot who converted to Islam, and is described as a “gingery” man in his late fifties. But a larger part is in Peter’s narration:

    "When dealing with the excessively rich and privileged, you’ve got your two basic approaches. One is to go in hard and deliberately working class. A regional accent is always a plus in this.... That approach only works if the subject suffers from residual middle-class guilt—unfortunately the properly posh, the nouveau riche and senior legal professionals are rarely prey to such weaknesses. For them you have to go in obliquely and with maximum Downton Abbey.

    Fortunately for us we have just the man."

    Peter establishes characteristics here of both the man they’re going to be questioning (later described as a “big, wide, white man with the heft that the naturally fat get when they exercise like mad in middle age”) and Peter’s superior, Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale.

    Further reading: The Best New Fantasy Books

    Obviously, readers who have been with the series for a long time will be familiar with Nightingale, who serves both as Peter’s boss in the police force and as his mentor. But the comparison—Nightingale as a man who would be perfectly suited to appearing in a very posh television program—reinforces the idea that Nightingale comes from privilege through his race, sex, class, and magical background.

    There are a few jokes about cultural differences both Peter and his river goddess girlfriend Bev have from contemporary white culture. Upon seeing a movie with a white female protagonist, Peter comments that both he and Bev find “her inability to control her fourteen year old goth daughter ... hilariously white.”

    Throughout the narration, it’s always mentioned if a character being encountered is white, defying the traditional narrative perception that, by default, a character’s race is white unless otherwise mentioned. It’s never jarring, and I might not have noticed it had I not just finished Writing the Other, but the refusal to accept “white” as the unmarked state is a subtle and point-of-view appropriate way to remind the audience both of Peter’s intersectionality and the intersectionality of London as a whole.

    Ben Aaronovitch told Den of Geek about the origins of Peter’s character.

    “Way back when the books were but a twinkle in my eye and I was kicking a TV format idea around in my head by the name of Magic Cops, the protagonist was to have been called Simone. She, like Peter, would have been a young PC just finishing her probationary period and would have a friend/rival called Lesley, but unlike Peter was a British woman of Jamaican descent. When I shifted to prose, I wasn’t confident enough of my abilities to write a woman in close first person, which is a very intimate viewpoint. So Simone became a man, and around that time Peter Grant arrived in my head complete with jazz legend father and Sierra Leonean mother. He’s been stuck there ever since.”

    Peter’s heritage is underscored by the importance the Sierra Leonean community plays in the narrative, particularly in a very brief encounter with Peter’s cousin just before interviewing a person of interest, but also in his visits to his mother’s house.

    “I grew up in a mixed area of London and I had a ton of friends whose parents were from Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria. I naturally retained many of those links as grew older so when I chose Peter’s background, I was confident enough to make his mum Sierra Leonean,” Aaronovitch told Den of Geek when we asked about his research in creating an authentic view of the London Sierra Leonean community. “My research mostly involves phoning up people I know and demanding recipes and random bits of Krio translation. Some friends of mine have accused me of basing Mama Thames, Fleet, and Lady Ty on their relatives but I deny everything.”

    But in creating other characters outside his own worldview, Aaronovitch had to dig deeper. “Guleed on the other hand was much trickier. I wasn’t familiar with the Somali community. I literally had to go around accosting complete strangers for help—something I’ve never liked doing,” he explained. “I hope I haven’t made too many mistakes.”

    Creating a London that reflected the real London’s diversity was an intentional choice. “Having spent so many years in the racial straitjacket of British TV, working in prose gave me an opportunity to write London as it is, to me at least, as opposed to the city imagined by posh white provincials,” Aaronovitch explained. When doing so required research, he gathered his sources. “I grew up knowing loads of people from West African families, and so I could write people with their background with confidence. I knew fewer lesbians, so I needed to actively gather more information, and I didn’t know any police officers at all, so I had to start from scratch with them.”

    Peter’s race, and the way he points out the race of others, is just one aspect of his identity. They are an important aspect, and present throughout the novel, but they are of no greater importance in how Peter views himself than his identity as a Londoner and the quintessential Britishness of his narration.

    Also central to his identity are his chosen profession as a police officer and his calling in the practice of magic. Both Sherlock Holmes and Harry Dresden’s detectives would feel at home talking shop with Peter (and it wouldn’t surprise me a bit, if Holmes existed in Peter’s world as a historical figure, he’d have been a wizard himself.)

    If Peter ever had any problem navigating the world of magic, or believing in its existence, by Lies Sleeping, he’s well beyond that. He also has no trouble differentiating between the metaphysical and the esoteric. When in a discussion about whether or not he believes in God, his colleague brings up what he views as evidence for the divine:

    "'After the shit we’ve seen? ... You can do magic, Peter,' said Carey. 'You can shoot fireballs out of your fingers and your girlfriend is a river. That kind of shit. Like possessed BMWs and just all of it. All of that shit.'

    'That’s different,' I said. 'That shit is real.'"

    He’s also a technophile—he finds a place to stake-out a building based on it being the only position where he can get good wi-fi—and a fan of science fiction and fantasy, both on screen and in print. His pop culture references are spot on. He identifies the quality of a script that’s evidence in his case as “straight to Netflix”; a picture of Sir Isaac Newton, in his own hair, makes the famous scientist and magician “a dead ringer for Ian McDiarmid in Revenge of the Sith—just before Samuel L. Jackson rearranges his face for him."

    Peter readily (and quite geekily) identifies a tattoo in Tolkien’s dwarvish script as the Peter Jackson film version, rather than Tolkien’s original. He describes “a misspent youth playing role-playing games,” and, after escaping a situation in which his captors provided him with a copy of The Silmarillion to read, downloads a copy to his phone so he can finally finish it.

    In many ways, Peter’s existence as a reader and a fan of the genre in which his stories take place are a different idea of the “unmarked state.” Genre readers are likely to understand his references—if not all of them. I had to ask my husband, who has actually finished The Silmarillion, if the jokes while Peter is reading it makes sense; but then, I’ve attempted The Buried Giant and bounced off if it, just like Peter, while my husband has not. While genre readers and watchers may have vastly different views on particular books and films Peter mentions, they will take it as absolutely normal that Peter himself has opinions on those works. (When asked, Aaronovitch said Peter’s top two recommendations in genre books and film would be Guard, Guards by Sir Terry Pratchett and season three of Farscape.)

    Aaronovitch has accomplished some amazing world-building in the Rivers of London series, and his diligence in research shows. When discussing how he conducts that research, Aaronovitch told Den of Geek: “For me, the hierarchy of research sources goes from best to worse: Direct contact with real people. Accounts written by real people about themselves (this is often the best you can get for historical information). Accounts written about real people by people you trust. Accounts written about real people whose biases you can allow for. Fiction written by people about people like themselves. Fiction written about people by people not like themselves. Television documentaries. Television drama.”

    Aaronovitch has accomplished some amazing world-building in the Rivers of London series. His mystery pacing in Lies Sleeping, which dips wonderfully into Arthurian legends as a plot point as well, is excellent for a novel this late in a series, leaving time for continued world-building and character development as the plot moves forward.

    But it’s Peter’s intersectionality, which is to say the richness and complexity of his character across so many aspects, that is truly remarkable. As far as this (white/cis/female/straight/able-bodied) reviewer can tell, Aaronovitch either has some remarkable life experiences I’ve not been able to uncover, or he’s done some in-depth, quality research of his own. I’ll absolutely be eager to read more of Peter’s adventures!

    Read the Rivers of London Series by Ben Aaronovitch

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


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    Audience Network has given the green-light to Mr. Mercedes Season 3, continuing the TV adaptation of Stephen King’s Bill Hodges books.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Nov 19, 2018

    Mr. Mercedes Season 3 is officially set for Audience Network.

    The latest renewal of Mr. Mercedes arrives shortly after the late-summer-launched Season 2 wrapped its run on October 24. Season 3 will reportedly go into production in Charleston, South Carolina in early-2019, setting up a late-2019 premiere.*

    The series will continue its process of adapting Stephen King’s novel trilogy – 2014’s Mr. Mercedes, 2015’s Finders Keepers and 2016’s End of Watch. As originally intended, 2017’s Season 1 followed the course of the first novel, and the recently-aired Season 2 covered the second novel. While one might deduce that Season 3 (presumably covering the third and final book,) would mark the end of the series, creator/showrunner David E. Kelley teased a “master plan” with THR– ahead of the Season 1 launch – that, "Going into this, the idea is that we have three books and in success it would make for three seasons and then, who knows? Maybe longer if we're having fun."

    The mythology of Mr. Mercedes focuses on retired police detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson), who finds himself in the center of a circuitous psychological game involving the psychopathic serial killer, Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway), whose initial criminal claim to fame involved plowing a Mercedes into a line of job seekers; a crime that earned him the story’s eponymous nickname, “Mr. Mercedes.” – The cast also consists of Jack Huston, Jharrel Jerome, Holland Taylor, Brenda Wool, Robert Stanton, Justine Lupe, Scott Lawrence and Tessa Ferrer.

    As Daniel York, Senior Exec VP and Chief Content Officer at AT&T (which oversees Audience Network under the Turner Broadcasting corporate umbrella), expresses in a statement:

    "Mr. Mercedes has resonated with such a wide audience, so we’re thrilled to bring it back for a third season for our customers,” said “David E. Kelley, Jack Bender and Sonar have crafted a series that honors the original work by Stephen King and we can’t wait to see where they take the show in a ‘post-Mr. Mercedes world."

    The Mr. Mercedes TV series was created by prolific legal drama visionary David E. Kelley, who is confirmed to resume his duties as showrunner for Season 3 along with director Jack Bender. The duo also serve as executive producers, joined in that capacity by Temple Hill Entertainment's Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey, Tom Lesinski and Jenna Santoianni of Sonar and AT&T Audience Network's Shane Elrod and Kate Regan. Most notably, Stephen King himself will remain a credited executive producer on the series.

    Mr. Mercedes Season 3 Release Date

    Mr. Mercedes Season 3 has yet to announce a specific release date for its 2019 premiere.

    Seasons 1 & 2 have – thus far reliably – premiered in August.

    *An early version of this article stated that Season 3 would be delayed until 2020. The reporting source subsequently altered this narrative.

    Joseph Baxter is a contributor for Den of Geek and Syfy Wire. You can find his work here. Follow him on Twitter @josbaxter.


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    Teenage Superman stumbles on a Smallville mystery in this exclusive preview.

    Superman Dawnbreaker Cover
    NewsJim Dandy
    Nov 20, 2018

    Teenage Superman is fertile ground for character work. For writers looking for a challenge that fits the character, a Superman who hasn't yet developed his powers or his moral code makes for more realistic, more relatable conflict. That's why Superman was probably a perfect fit for the DC Icons book series, a collection of young adult stories featuring DC superheroes (and antiheroes, Catwoman: Soulstealer). And that's why we're pretty psyched to be hosting an exclusive preview of Superman: Dawnbreaker, the upcoming Superman-centric book in that line coming out in February.

    "Writing a Superman novel is one of the greatest thrills of my writing career," said Matt de la Peña, the book's author. "This project allowed me to set foot in one of the most iconic American storylines, while also enabling me to team up witht hree writers I've long admired: Leigh Bardugo [author of Wonder Woman: Warbringer], Marie Lu [Batman: Nightwalker] and Sarah J. Maas [Catwoman: Soulstealer]."

    This chapter is a deep dive into Clark's mind as the football team tries to get him to rejoin. We find out through Clark's memories about why he left the team in the first place, and it simultaneously gives us a glimpse of the development of his power (through the shattered ribs of his teammate) and the development of his moral core (through his continued refusal to play because of how he would disadvantage his opponents). These are two critical components to the Superman mythos.

    "While adhering to traditional, high-paced, high-stakes superhero action sequences, I also tried to dig into young Superman's psychology. He's stronger and faster than everyone else around him, of course, but these emerging powers also lead to a profound sense of 'otherness' and isolation. It was fascinating to watch him try to square all of thsi throughout the novel. I can't wait for readers to get a hold of this book!" said de la Peña.

    For more information on Superman: Dawnbreaker (out March 5th, 2019)or the rest of the DC YA books, click here. To read the exclusive preview of Dawnbreaker,check out below!


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    Tales of the Unexpected, Roald Dahl’s fantastical story collection and TV anthology series, is about to be rebooted by The Ink Factory.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Nov 20, 2018

    The media-spanning works of legendary author Roald Dahl have had their share of reboot treatments, with multiple movies currently on studio slates, notably new iterations Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and The Witches. However, U.K. television fans with rose-colored 1980s memories of the Dahl-inspired fantasy anthology series, Tales of the Unexpected, should be especially elated to know that a reboot series is in development.

    Surging upstart studio The Ink Factory – having achieved international small screen success with joint BBC/AMC TV miniseries adapting selections of John le Carré spy literature in 2016's The Night Manager and the currently-running The Little Drummer Girl– are set to shift gears to Roald Dahl with a TV adaptation of Tales of the Unexpected, reports Deadline. The title originally manifested as a 1979-published collection of short stories from the author, subsequently spun-off into an ITV anthology series (adapting stories from the book and beyond), which ran from 1979 to 1988. Dahl himself (who passed away in 1990,) served as the host of the series from its launch until 1985. The author had previously hosted a similar – U.S.-aired – anthology series for CBS in 1961, called Way Out.

    For now, details are scarce about The Ink Factory’s approach to its Tales of the Unexpected reboot. Studio heads Simon and Stephen Cornwell are assembling a writers’ room, notably with The Little Drummer Girl scribe Claire Wilson. They are reportedly working closely with the Roald Dahl Story Company, presumably to ensure that the project meets the standards of Dahl’s legacy. With the project’s status as a reboot, it is unlikely to carry over any sort of continuity from the original series.

    The classic Tales of the Unexpected series was almost vintage Doctor Who-esque in its low-budget campiness and could be described as a more light-hearted version of The Twilight Zone, though more realistically grounded and never too dark, even when it did cross into the realms of fantasy and the macabre. Over its nine years on the air, the U.K. show saw English acting legends pass through such as John Gielgud, John Mills, Joan Collins, Derek Jacobi, Michael Gambon, Hayley Mills, Peter Cushing and Ian Holm. Interestingly, with some of the later episodes set in the U.S., some American stars also banked appearances; a wonderfully random list that includes names like Jennifer Connelly, Don Johnson, Brad Dourif, Robert Loggia, Ed Begley Jr., Terry O’Quinn, Telly Savalas, Janet Leigh, Heather Locklear and David Cassidy, amongst others.

    We will certainly keep you updated on the news for this intriguing Roald Dahl reboot project in Tales of the Unexpected.

    Joseph Baxter is a contributor for Den of Geek and Syfy Wire. You can find his work here. Follow him on Twitter @josbaxter.


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    We chatted with Marissa Meyer, the author of the Renegades series (and the Lunar Chronicles series) about writing superhero fiction.

    InterviewKayti Burt
    Nov 21, 2018

    Here at Den of Geek, we love our superhero stories, and it's been pretty cool to see the genre make its way from comic books and film/TV to the book world. Right now, we're obsessed with the Renegades series by Marissa Meyer, who you may recognize from her Lunar Chronicles series, which reimagines classic fairy tales into speculative fiction settings.

    Join the Den of Geek Book Club! 

    Renegades is set in a world that is ruled by superpowered individuals called, um, Renegades. The Renegades took control after a period of disorder during which the Anarchists, this world's "supervillains," had power.

    Nova and Adrian serve as our starcrossed friends-and-maybe-something-more and protagonists. Nova was raised by the Anarchists, and has the power to induce sleep (and also doesn't have to sleep herself). Adrian was raised by the Renegades, and has the power to bring to live anything he draws. When Nova goes undercover with the Renegades to bring them down from the inside, both Adrian and Nova's world views are complicated by the other.

    Read Archenemies by Marissa Meyer

    Meyer just published the second book in her Renegades series. Called Archenemies, it picks up where the first one left off, and continues to complex story of superpowered individuals that refuses to fall into a black-and-white morality. It's our current Den of Geek Book Club pick!

    We had the chance to chat with Meyer about moving from the world of fairy tales to the world of superheroes, how she came up with the unique power sets in this world, and whether or not she's seen Sky High. Check it out below...

    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.


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    Here's what you'll want to be reading this holiday season.

    Holiday Gift Guide 2018: Books for Geeks
    FeatureChris CumminsKayti Burt
    Nov 21, 2018

    It's one of the last remaining universal truths: Books are never bad presents.

    We here at Den of Geek love giving and getting all sorts of books...during the holidays and year round. While our inner-Luddite has come around to the pleasure of digital reading, there is still nothing as aesthetically pleasing as turning the pages on a great volume. This holiday season sees the launch of all sorts of can't miss tomes for the geek in your life. Then again, there's no shame in treating yourself while buying books for others. After all, you've been good this year!

    Here's a rundown of 2018's must-have geekcentric books:

    Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy

    Every year is a year to celebrate Star Wars, and 2018 is no different. Delight the Star Wars geek in your life with this beautifully-illustrated book featuring 75 profiles of some of the women from the Star Wars universe, including the films, fiction, comics, animation, and games. Characters featured include: Leia Organa, Rey, Ahsoka Tano, Iden Versio, Jyn Erso, Rose Tico, and Maz Kanata.

    Each profile includes key story beats, fresh insights, and behind-the-scenes details, which means this is not only good for the Star Wars fan who knows everything about this universe, but for the more casual fan looking to get into the world or even for a future Star Wars fan you are cunningly trying to convert so you can nerd out about Star Wars together. You're welcome.

    Buy Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy


    The Making of Planet of the Apes

    Well they did it. They finally did it. No, not blow up the Earth (yet!), but rather Harper Collins has released the definitive book chronicling the creation of one of the best-loved science fiction films of all-time. Written by J.W. Rinzler (whose behind-the-scenes chronicles of the original Star Wars trilogy should earn a place on every self-respecting nerd's bookshelf) The Making of Planet of the Apescharts the difficulties 20th Century Fox had in translating Pierre Boulle's 1963 novel to the big screen and into pop culture infamy through an insanely researched volume that is just as compelling as the feature itself. Our fingers are crossed for future volumes chronicling the saga's various sequels.

    Buy The Making of Planet of the Apes

    The Atlas Obscura Explorer's Guide for the World's Most Adventurous Kid

    We all know that holiday gift-giving tends to be all about the kids in your life. This explorer's guide featuring profiles on countries all around the world is the perfect gift for the child in your life who nerds out about geography and cultures. (We all know one... many of us have been one.)

    Billed as "a thrilling expedition to 100 of the most surprising, mysterious, and weird-but-true places on earth,"The Atlas Obscura Explorer's Guide for the World's Most Adventurous Kid takes its readers to a 355-foot waterfall in Zambia, to Antarctica's Blood Falls, and through ice caves in Argentina and Austria. You might not be able to actually zipline with your kid through rainforests, but this book is the next best thing until you do get there.

    Buy The Atlas Obscura Explorer's Guide for the World's Most Adventurous Kid


    The League of Regrettable Sidekicks

    Look, not everyone can be a Robin or Jimmy Olsen. With that in mind comes Jon Morris'The League of Regrettable Sidekicks. Following up his previous works (The League of Regrettable Superheroes and The League of Regrettable Supervillains), this time around Morris sets his comedic sights on second and third tier associates like Thor's pal Volstagg the Voluminous and Little Archie's off-abused pal Little Ambrose. While most of these characters are lovable -- if downright forgotten -- would-be assistants, others are absolute oddballs like Plastic Man's trouble-prone pal Woozy Winks who are captivating footnotes in comic book history.

    Buy The League of Regrettable Sidekicks

    Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down

    If you're anything like everyone else on the planet, then you're desperately awaiting the arrival of more Stranger Things content. This book is not a new season, but it's still pretty darn awesome. The official behind-the-scenes companion to the Netflix show's first two seasons, it includes concept art, original commentary from Matt and Ross Duffer, interviews with the cast, and some of the earliest pitches and story drafts from the show's start. 

    The kicker? It's all delivered in the form of a "used" book, which means the book itself is distressed to look like it has been around for awhile. This may strike you as the most millennial thing yet, but, for me, it makes the book not only a fascinating deep dive into this iconic show, but also a physical object that adds to your bookshelf, coffee table, or wherever else you (or your present-receiver) may want to lay this thing down and wait for friends to excitedly discover it. Oh yeah, and it includes some sneak peaks into season three!

    Buy Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down 


    The Prisoner: The Uncertainty Machine

    Be seeing you! Earlier this year, Titan did comic fans and cult TV obsessives a solid by publishing an artist's edition of a failed attempt by Marvel to bring The Prisoner to comic books in the 1970s that featured art by Jack Kirby and Gil Kane. It was a fascinating experiment, and one we wish had come to fruition. Eventually the series -- ostensibly about a secret agent who resigns and subsequently finds himself in the mysterious Village, although it explores much bigger issue -- was given a DC Comics sequel as 1988's The Prisoner: Shattered Visage mini-series. While by no means a failure, the book largely ignored the show's bonkers finale and thus wasn't fully satisfying. The same can't be said of Titan Comics' current The Prisoner series, an audacious contemporary take on the story that succeeds in all the ways that the regrettable AMC remake of a few years back failed. The first four issues of writer Peter Milligan and artist Colin Lorimer new take on the saga are collected in The Prisoner: The Uncertainty Machine. Having the thankless task of trying to put their own stamp on Patrick McGoohan's allegorical tale, the duo offers up a story rich with interesting new characters and the sort of mindfucks you'd come to expect from The Prisoner. In other words, it's great stuff.

    Buy The Prisoner: The Uncertainty Machine

    The Phantom of Eternia

    For the past decade, a performer in Philadelphia named Carmen Martella III has been hosting a monthly karaoke night/comedy show. While this seems like a fairly ordinary occurance, there is a deliciously nerdy catch--he does so in the guise of an over-the-top spoof of Skeletor. This leads to such madcap fun as the performances being more Gong Showthen anything (for example, attempting to sing "My Way" will earn you an instant booting off the stage). Adding to the insanity, 'Skeletor' peppers each event with his own custom song parodies, such as an evil take on Bell Biv Devoe's "Poison" in which he sings the praises of, well, poisioning the audience. One Skeletor Karaoke devotee is Kelly Phillips. Part of the all-girl comic art anthology collective Dirty Diamonds, Phillips is a bona-fide nerd whose Weird Me explores her Weird Al Yankovic fandom. In The Phantom of Eternia, she presents a compelling story about friendship and singing terrible songs in public that will forever change the way you think about both karaoke and Masters of the Universe.

    Buy The Phantom of Eternia

    Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction

    Tor.com celebrates its tenth anniversary with this anthology of science fiction, fantasy, and horror from its first ten years as one of the go-to places for speculative fiction shorts. Edited by Irene Gallo and including work from some of speculative fiction's most exciting writers, such as N.K. Jemisin, Charlie Jane Anders, Ken Liu, Kameron Hurley, and Jeff VanderMeer (to mention a very few), this is the kind of present that can be savored over the course of many reading sessions. It's the perfect gift for the person in your life who is really up on their speculative fiction or for that literary friend you're trying to get into speculative fiction.

    Read Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction


    Chilling Adventures in Sorcery

    Long before Archie's current horror renaissance, the publisher originally dipped its toes in the genre with the short-lived 1970s comic Chilling Adventures in Sorcery. For the first two issues, the title was narrated by Sabrina the Teenage Witch and featured spooky stories done in the typical house style. From the third issue onwards, the book was issued through Archie's Red Circle imprint, Sabrina was jettisoned, and art was handled by the likes of Gray Morrow. This revamped work was just as compelling as the earlier weirdo dark Archie-style stories, and more than holds its own with classic horror comics like Tales from the Crypt and The Witching Hour. With Chilling Adventures of Sabrina once again stirring a cauldron of interest in spooky Archie tales, this book should be an in-demand item this holiday season...even if Halloween is long gone.

    Buy Chilling Adventures in Sorcery

    A History of Video Games in 64 Objects

    We're getting to a place in the evolution of the video game where its history is valued, which means wonderful potential gifts like this one: A History of Video Games in 64 Objects. Inspired by A History of the World in 100 Objects, this book attempts to chronicle the history of video games so far, from Pong to first-person shooters, as told through the stories of some of the medium's most important objects.

    Each object is paired with an in-depth essay outlining its significance in the history of gaming. Objects featured include: The Oregon Trail, the Atari 2600, and a World of Warcraft server blade. If you're based in New York City, pair this gift with a visit to the Museum of the Moving Image's sports video games exhibit. If you're not in New York City, no pairing needed!

    Buy A History of Video Games in 64 Objects

    The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories, Volume Three

    There's all different kinds of nerds out there, and the history nerd is a special variety. This third volume of Christmas ghost stories from the Victorian era is the perfect gift for that person in your life who thinks learning and indulging in cultures past is just the coolest thing ever. Apparently, following the success of Charles Dickens'A Christmas Carol, Christmas ghost stories became all the rage in Victorian newspapers and magazines. Some of these stories have never been reprinted since... until now. The collection features 20 stories, and will make any holiday gathering just a little bit creepier.

    Buy The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories, Volume Three


    The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition by Ursula K. Leguin

    We lost Ursula K. Le Guin, one of the greatest speculative fiction writers of all time, this year, but we didn't lose her stories. Her legacy lives on in the many classics she left behind, including her beloved Earthsea series. Released to coincide with the 50th anniversary of A Wizard of Earthsea's release, this complete illustrated edition of the entire Earthsea chronicles includes over 50 illustrations done by Charles Vess and selected by Le Guin.

    In addition to the main books in the series, The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Editionincludes early short stories, Le Guin's "Earthsea Revisioned" Oxford lecture, and a new Earthsea story. If that wasn't enough, the book also includes a foreword by Le Guin herself. This is the perfect gift for fans of Earthsea and Le Guin or for friends who have yet to venture into this magical world.

    Buy The Books of Earthsea: The Illustrated Edition by Ursula K. Leguin


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    The holiday season is here, and with it, the anxiety that comes with finding the perfect Christmas gift for your geeky friends.

    Star Wars Christmas
    Feature Chris Cummins
    Nov 22, 2018

    We've searched far and wide to bring you the best shopping recommendations! Just a note: Den of Geek may receive a small commission from links on this page. Prices & stockage are accurate as of time of publication. 

    Are you doing last minute online Christmas shopping? Is it finally time to start figuring out who we have to shop for and what to possibly get them? Shopping for a nerdy friend can be a daunting task indeed. So if the thought of Ho-Ho-Ho! has you saying "No! No! No!" we can't blame you.

    But it doesn't have to be that way. What if there was a guide to gifts, a gift guide if you will, that could make it easy to find the perfect present for anyone on your list? Relax, your friends at Den of Geek have got this.

    Here's our 2018 run-down of what nerd-centric items will bring a smile to the face of anyone in your life. Click the links to get taken to where you can buy them. We've saved you a whole bunch of trouble!

    Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy

    Every year is a year to celebrate Star Wars, and 2018 is no different. Delight the Star Wars geek in your life with this beautifully-illustrated book featuring 75 profiles of some of the women from the Star Wars universe, including the films, fiction, comics, animation, and games. Characters featured include: Leia Organa, Rey, Ahsoka Tano, Iden Versio, Jyn Erso, Rose Tico, and Maz Kanata.

    Each profile includes key story beats, fresh insights, and behind-the-scenes details, which means this is not only good for the Star Wars fan who knows everything about this universe, but for the more casual fan looking to get into the world or even for a future Star Wars fan you are cunningly trying to convert so you can nerd out about Star Wars together. You're welcome.

    Buy Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy


    The Making of Planet of the Apes

    Well they did it. They finally did it. No, not blow up the Earth (yet!), but rather Harper Collins has released the definitive book chronicling the creation of one of the best-loved science fiction films of all-time. Written by J.W. Rinzler (whose behind-the-scenes chronicles of the original Star Wars trilogy should earn a place on every self-respecting nerd's bookshelf) The Making of Planet of the Apes charts the difficulties 20th Century Fox had in translating Pierre Boulle's 1963 novel to the big screen and into pop culture infamy through an insanely researched volume that is just as compelling as the feature itself. Our fingers are crossed for future volumes chronicling the saga's various sequels.

    Buy The Making of Planet of the Apes

    Spider-Man Classics Face of Venom Hoodie

    For an evil symbiote from outer space, Venom is doing alright for himself. The brain-munching anti-hero had box office success far beyond anyone's dreams, and now he gets to be front and center on this stunning hoodie. Complete with front pocket, this long-sleeve hooded sweatshirt is a 10oz. cotton-poly blend with a 100% cotton face, meaning that it is both comfortable and be a staple in your wardrobe for years to come. And no, it won't try to take over your body either. Sorry.

    Buy the Spider-Man Classics Face of Venom Hoodie


    S.H.I.E.L.D. iPhone 6/6s Wallet Case

    With the (great) news that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be sticking around for at least two more seasons comes a renewed appreciation of Marvel's stalwart TV endeavor. And what's not to love? Agent Coulson and company are among the most captivating comic characters on the small screen. So for the S.H.I.E.L.D. lover in your universe, we recommend this combination of phone case and wallet that looks great, is extremely functional, and let's you carry everything you need at all times. Just don't forget it in any villainous lairs, okay?

    Buy the S.H.I.E.L.D. iPhone 6/6s Wallet Case

    The Atlas Obscura Explorer's Guide for the World's Most Adventurous Kid

    We all know that holiday gift-giving tends to be all about the kids in your life. This explorer's guide featuring profiles on countries all around the world is the perfect gift for the child in your life who nerds out about geography and cultures. (We all know one... many of us have been one.)

    Billed as "a thrilling expedition to 100 of the most surprising, mysterious, and weird-but-true places on earth," The Atlas Obscura Explorer's Guide for the World's Most Adventurous Kid takes its readers to a 355-foot waterfall in Zambia, to Antarctica's Blood Falls, and through ice caves in Argentina and Austria. You might not be able to actually zipline with your kid through rainforests, but this book is the next best thing until you do get there.

    Buy The Atlas Obscura Explorer's Guide for the World's Most Adventurous Kid


    The League of Regrettable Sidekicks

    Look, not everyone can be a Robin or Jimmy Olsen. With that in mind comes Jon Morris' The League of Regrettable Sidekicks. Following up his previous works (The League of Regrettable Superheroes and The League of Regrettable Supervillains), this time around Morris sets his comedic sights on second and third tier associates like Thor's pal Volstagg the Voluminous and Little Archie's off-abused pal Little Ambrose. While most of these characters are lovable -- if downright forgotten -- would-be assistants, others are absolute oddballs like Plastic Man's trouble-prone pal Woozy Winks who are captivating footnotes in comic book history.

    Buy The League of Regrettable Sidekicks

    Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down

    If you're anything like everyone else on the planet, then you're desperately awaiting the arrival of more Stranger Things content. This book is not a new season, but it's still pretty darn awesome. The official behind-the-scenes companion to the Netflix show's first two seasons, it includes concept art, original commentary from Matt and Ross Duffer, interviews with the cast, and some of the earliest pitches and story drafts from the show's start. 

    The kicker? It's all delivered in the form of a "used" book, which means the book itself is distressed to look like it has been around for awhile. This may strike you as the most millennial thing yet, but, for me, it makes the book not only a fascinating deep dive into this iconic show, but also a physical object that adds to your bookshelf, coffee table, or wherever else you (or your present-receiver) may want to lay this thing down and wait for friends to excitedly discover it. Oh yeah, and it includes some sneak peaks into season three!

    Buy Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down 


    Black Panther Wakandan Warriors Graffiti Fabric

    Often times the best gifts are the ones we make ourselves for others. If the Venn diagram of your life includes some overlap between Black Panther and DIY crafting, we recommend you checking out this eye-catching fabric featuring everyone's favorite Wakandan warriors. No, it's not made of vibranium, but rather 100% cotton -- making this fabric perfect for use in quilting, appliqué, and crafts projects. (Available from the Zazzle website in various widths and sizes). Wakanda, and crafting, forever!

    Buy Black Panther Wakandan Warriors Graffiti Fabric

    Black Panther Panther Head Typography Graphic T-Shirt

    Whoa! This 100% cotton T-shirt available in men's sizes from small to 4X features a stylized Black Panther logo that itself looks like a warrior cat. Black Panther was one of the year's best films overall -- and easily one of the greatest comic book movies ever made -- this T-shirt is a way for show to show your love for Wakanda wherever you may roam.

    Buy the Black Panther Panther Head Typography Graphic T-Shirt


    The Prisoner: The Uncertainty Machine

    Be seeing you! Earlier this year, Titan did comic fans and cult TV obsessives a solid by publishing an artist's edition of a failed attempt by Marvel to bring The Prisoner to comic books in the 1970s that featured art by Jack Kirby and Gil Kane. It was a fascinating experiment, and one we wish had come to fruition. Eventually the series -- ostensibly about a secret agent who resigns and subsequently finds himself in the mysterious Village, although it explores much bigger issue -- was given a DC Comics sequel as 1988's The Prisoner: Shattered Visage mini-series. While by no means a failure, the book largely ignored the show's bonkers finale and thus wasn't fully satisfying. The same can't be said of Titan Comics' current The Prisoner series, an audacious contemporary take on the story that succeeds in all the ways that the regrettable AMC remake of a few years back failed. The first four issues of writer Peter Milligan and artist Colin Lorimer new take on the saga are collected in The Prisoner: The Uncertainty Machine. Having the thankless task of trying to put their own stamp on Patrick McGoohan's allegorical tale, the duo offers up a story rich with interesting new characters and the sort of mindfucks you'd come to expect from The Prisoner. In other words, it's great stuff.

    Buy The Prisoner: The Uncertainty Machine

    The Phantom of Eternia

    For the past decade, a performer in Philadelphia named Carmen Martella III has been hosting a monthly karaoke night/comedy show. While this seems like a fairly ordinary occurance, there is a deliciously nerdy catch--he does so in the guise of an over-the-top spoof of Skeletor. This leads to such madcap fun as the performances being more Gong Show then anything (for example, attempting to sing "My Way" will earn you an instant booting off the stage). Adding to the insanity, 'Skeletor' peppers each event with his own custom song parodies, such as an evil take on Bell Biv Devoe's "Poison" in which he sings the praises of, well, poisioning the audience. One Skeletor Karaoke devotee is Kelly Phillips. Part of the all-girl comic art anthology collective Dirty Diamonds, Phillips is a bona-fide nerd whose Weird Me explores her Weird Al Yankovic fandom. In The Phantom of Eternia, she presents a compelling story about friendship and singing terrible songs in public that will forever change the way you think about both karaoke and Masters of the Universe.

    Buy The Phantom of Eternia 

    Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction

    Tor.com celebrates its tenth anniversary with this anthology of science fiction, fantasy, and horror from its first ten years as one of the go-to places for speculative fiction shorts. Edited by Irene Gallo and including work from some of speculative fiction's most exciting writers, such as N.K. Jemisin, Charlie Jane Anders, Ken Liu, Kameron Hurley, and Jeff VanderMeer (to mention a very few), this is the kind of present that can be savored over the course of many reading sessions. It's the perfect gift for the person in your life who is really up on their speculative fiction or for that literary friend you're trying to get into speculative fiction.

    Read Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction 

    Buy Guardians of the Galaxy Rocket & Groot Pattern Leggings

    Avengers Black Widow Icon Car Floor Mat

    Look, unless you have Tony Stark money, chances are you aren't tooling around in a Quinjet. Still, there's no reason why your vehicle can't have some Avengers swagger. Enter this set of front and rear car mats (one of each included) that are made with a polyester surface and a non-skid Durgan backing, and feature Black Widow iconography. Having these in your car won't make you as cool as Natasha, but it's a solid first step...

    Buy the Avengers Black Widow Icon Car Floor Mat Set

    8Bit Iron Man Attack - Armor Up! Small Messenger Bag

    We spent enough time in our youth playing the old Avengers arcade game that we can appreciate a retro-themed messenger bag like the one you see right here. Water resistant, lightweight, and including a quick-adjust shoulder strap, this bag is ideal for your trip to the Avengers Mansion or just to carry your stuff to work. Regardless of where you're going with this, you'll show off your love for both Iron Man and the glory days of 8-bit gaming by carrying this bag around.

    Buy the 8Bit Iron Man Attack - Armor Up! Small Messenger Bag


    Chilling Adventures in Sorcery

    Long before Archie's current horror renaissance, the publisher originally dipped its toes in the genre with the short-lived 1970s comic Chilling Adventures in Sorcery. For the first two issues, the title was narrated by Sabrina the Teenage Witch and featured spooky stories done in the typical house style. From the third issue onwards, the book was issued through Archie's Red Circle imprint, Sabrina was jettisoned, and art was handled by the likes of Gray Morrow. This revamped work was just as compelling as the earlier weirdo dark Archie-style stories, and more than holds its own with classic horror comics like Tales from the Crypt and The Witching Hour. With Chilling Adventures of Sabrina once again stirring a cauldron of interest in spooky Archie tales, this book should be an in-demand item this holiday season...even if Halloween is long gone.

    Buy Chilling Adventures in Sorcery

    A History of Video Games in 64 Objects

    We're getting to a place in the evolution of the video game where its history is valued, which means wonderful potential gifts like this one: A History of Video Games in 64 Objects. Inspired by A History of the World in 100 Objects, this book attempts to chronicle the history of video games so far, from Pong to first-person shooters, as told through the stories of some of the medium's most important objects.

    Each object is paired with an in-depth essay outlining its significance in the history of gaming. Objects featured include: The Oregon Trail, the Atari 2600, and a World of Warcraft server blade. If you're based in New York City, pair this gift with a visit to the Museum of the Moving Image's sports video games exhibit. If you're not in New York City, no pairing needed!

    Buy A History of Video Games in 64 Objects

    The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories, Volume Three

    There's all different kinds of nerds out there, and the history nerd is a special variety. This third volume of Christmas ghost stories from the Victorian era is the perfect gift for that person in your life who thinks learning and indulging in cultures past is just the coolest thing ever. Apparently, following the success of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Christmas ghost stories became all the rage in Victorian newspapers and magazines. Some of these stories have never been reprinted since... until now. The collection features 20 stories, and will make any holiday gathering just a little bit creepier.

    Buy The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories, Volume Three


    The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition by Ursula K. Leguin

    We lost Ursula K. Le Guin, one of the greatest speculative fiction writers of all time, this year, but we didn't lose her stories. Her legacy lives on in the many classics she left behind, including her beloved Earthsea series. Released to coincide with the 50th anniversary of A Wizard of Earthsea's release, this complete illustrated edition of the entire Earthsea chronicles includes over 50 illustrations done by Charles Vess and selected by Le Guin.

    In addition to the main books in the series, The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition includes early short stories, Le Guin's "Earthsea Revisioned" Oxford lecture, and a new Earthsea story. If that wasn't enough, the book also includes a foreword by Le Guin herself. This is the perfect gift for fans of Earthsea and Le Guin or for friends who have yet to venture into this magical world.

    Buy The Books of Earthsea: The Illustrated Edition by Ursula K. Leguin 

    Marvel Emoji Characters Grid Pattern Yoga Mat

    Back in the 1970s, The Mighty Marvel Comics Strength and Fitness Book had everyone from Ghost Rider to J. Jonah Jameson sharing exercise tips. While that book is sadly long out of print, we can't help but feel that its spiritual successor is this yoga mat emblazoned with emojis representing all aspects of life in the Marvel Universe. Staying healthy and being nerdy? That's a win/win right there. Measures 72" x 24", 0.25" thick.

    Buy the Marvel Emoji Characters Grid Pattern Yoga Mat

    Guardians of the Galaxy Rocket & Groot Pattern Leggings

    It tickles us to no end that the limb-obsessed Rocket Raccoon is one of two characters (the other being Groot) featured on these Guardians of the Galaxy-themed leggings. Both stylish and super comfy, these custom made leggings are available in women's sizes from XS to XL.

    Buy Guardians of the Galaxy Rocket & Groot Pattern Leggings


    DC Universe: 10th Anniversary Collection

    Although DC's live-action films have been struggling, everyone seems to overlook how the majority of the company's animated films have been truly great. Yes, there is the occasional clunker like Batman: The Killing Joke (ugh), but have you seen Justice League: The New Frontier or Batman: Year One? These efforts are fantastic adaptations of the source material and entertaining in their own right, and they are just the tip of the iceberg. This expansive 32-disc collector's set features 30 DC animated films, tons of special features, collectible packaging, an adult coloring book, and exclusive coins. Marvel may have the box office tied up, but when it comes to animated films they can't hold a candle to DC these days.

    Buy DC Universe: 10th Anniversary Collection

    The James Bond Collection

    We hope you'll forgive us for saying so, but this Blu-ray collection of all of the official James Bond films -- from Dr. No to Spectre -- packed with mind-blowing special features has us both shaken AND stirred.

    Buy The James Bond Collection

    Avengers: Infinity War

    Yeah, we fully admit that this one is the most obvious of choices, Avengers: Infinity War. Since you are reading this very website, you know our feelings on this flick. It's definitely a great gift idea, but you just have to make sure whomever you are planning on getting this for doesn't already have it. Because if that person is anything like us, they got this baby the second it hit stores.

    Buy Avengers: Infinity War

    Doctor Who: Tom Baker Complete Season One

    Would you like a jelly baby? This stunning Blu-ray set collects the entire 12th season of Doctor Who...which just so happened to be Tom Baker's first year in the role. Out of the gate, Baker's Doctor is one full of wonder and mischief and he remains a joy to watch all these years later. The five serials that make up this season -- "Robot,""The Ark in Space,""The Sontaran Experiment,""Genesis of the Daleks" (widely considered to be the definitive Classic Who story), and "Revenge of the Cyberman" -- are solid, making this not only a great gift for Whovians, but a perfect entry point into the series for the unitiated as well.

    Buy Doctor Who: Tom Baker Complete Season One

    Doctor Who: Peter Davison: Complete Season One

    Then again, if you prefer your Doctor wearing celery as opposed to excessively large scarfs, Peter Davison's first year as the Timelord may be more to your liking.

    Buy Doctor Who: Peter Davison: Complete Season One

    The Punisher Painted Skull Logo iPhone XS Max Case

    If the action stylings of Frank Castle are more to your liking, might we recommend this Punisher iPhone XS Max case? Featuring the iconic painted Punisher skull logo, this case is as visually strong as it is durable. Slim, lightweight and featuring a glossy finish (and including a design feature that lets you charge your phone without removing the case), this is one gift idea that no one will want to punish you for getting them!

    Buy the Punisher Painted Skull Logo iPhone XS Max Case

    Kawaii Avengers In Colorful Blocks Barely There iPhone 6 Case

    We know that the Avengers are the Earth's mightiest heroes, but if this colorful CaseMate Barely There phone case is anything to go by, they are the most huggable too! As impact resistant as it is cute, this case is compatible with the iPhone 6/6s with 4.7 inch screen.


    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Special Edition

    Don't panic, as the 1981 television version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is finally on Blu-ray. Forget the problematic 2005 film adaptation, this is Douglas Adams' hilarious space saga as it was meant to be seen. Featuring several cast members from the original radio series (including Simon Jones as the bewildered Arthur Dent and a scenery-chewing Mark Wing Davey as Zaphod Beeblebrox) and, for their day, impressive special effects, this six-episode program takes viewers from the destruction of Earth to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe and back again. This newly remastered version means that the series has never looked or sounded as good, and the special features from the DVD release -- including a touching tribute to Douglas Adams -- have been ported over alongside new exclusive features. A true intergalactic hitchhiker will always know where his or her towel is, but this Blu-ray shouldn't be far behind either.

    Buy The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Special Edition


    Basket Case

    It was a tough call, but our pick for this year's best horror Blu-ray is Basket Case. Director Frank Henenlotter's 1982 low-budget gorefest about two formerly conjoined twins -- one of whom is horribly deformed and lives in the titular basket -- who get revenge against those who performed the operation that separated them has had a fascinating journey in its 36-year-existence. Originally a staple on the New York City midnight movie circuit, the film found a larger audience thanks to VHS rentals and cable TV airings. Due to the film's tongue-in-cheek humor and how it serves as an inadvertent document of a sleazy NYC that no longer exists, recent years have seen Basket Case getting a critical re-evaluation. (Indeed, the stunning 4K restoration featured on this disc was created by the Museum of Modern Art, proof that this film has made the big time). So, what's in the basket? One of the sickest, funniest, and downright lovable horror films ever made.

    Buy Basket Case


    Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

    To be perfectly clear: By no means do we think that Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is anything more or less than the goofiest entry in this long in the dino tooth franchise. That said, you almost certainly have a relative or an office Pollyanna or some sort of obilgatory holiday bullshit where you are going to require an inexpensive and inoffensive gift. And that's where this Blu-ray comes in. See, everybody's happy. Well, this is 2018, so not really, but you get the idea.

    Buy Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom


    Black Panther

    We are seriously considering buying like 20 copies of this and giving it to everyone on our shopping list, just because it's that good. Consider this movie the anti-Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, a blockbuster with heart, endlessly complex characters,  and social relevance. If the dino-flick is our suggestion for something to buy for people you must shop for, then Black Panther is a film for people in your life that you cherish and want the best for.

    Buy Black Panther


    Thor: Ragnarok

    If anyone is out there grumbling "boy, this guide sure does have a lot of Marvel movies in it," well, then so does life. Just deal. But you know what there's still not nearly enough of in this damaged and dying world of ours? Jeff Motherfucking Goldblum. So you're goddamn right we are going to suggest this flick, which features the man's most hyperkinetic and amazing performance since Vibes, to buy for someone. Hell, we wish there were a Jeff Goldblum cinematic universe, so someone get on that.

    Buy Thor: Ragnarok

    Soulcalibur VI

    We still think that Soulcalibur sounds like the name of a failed Sting musical, yet Bandai's enduring franchise remains one of the hottest titles of this holiday season. This time around, the game returns to the 16th century with ramped up action, characters, of course the inventive fighting moves that the series is known for.

    Buy Soulcalibur VI

    Lego DC Super Villains

    Seeing how we live in an age where the bad guys always win, you might as well have some fun with it. That's the unspoken subtext of Lego DC Super Villains, a multi-platform game that puts The Joker, Darkseid, et al front and center. With both a story mode and an open world mode, the title allows players to create their own villainous character to frolic in the enthralling playground that is the DC Legoverse.

    Buy Lego DC Super Villains


    Just Dance 2019

    The popular dancing game features contemporary hits from artists like Ariana Grande, Dua Lipa, Bruno Mars ft. Cardi B, and G.G. Allin. Okay, we're lying about the last one. Nevertheless, this is the sort of video game that encourges movement, teaches rhythm and lets you exercise while having fun. Includes a free one-month trial to Just Dance Unlimited, which gives players access to more than 400 songs.

    Buy Just Dance 2019

    DC Primal Age Batman

    From the Things We Didn't Realize We Needed In Our Lives department comes Funko's DC Primal Age line. Mixing DC heroes and villains with a Masters of the Universe aesthetic is such an inspired idea, we are shocked that these haven't hit the market sooner. The line also includes stylized takes on Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Scarecrow, King Shark, Mr. Freeze, and the Joker. (There are DC Primal versions of Ace the Bathound and the Batcave as well). Nostalgia run amuck or genius toy design. A little of both really, not that anyone is complaining!

    Buy DC Primal Age Batman

    Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Spin Vision Spider-Ham

    As of this writing, we still don't know very much about Into the Spider Verse other than that it looks spectacular, pun intended. There's a lot about Sony's CGI take on the Miles Morales Spidey saga that we are interested in, but the hardcore Marvel nerd deep within us is freaking out about the fact that Spider-Ham is in this film. The porcine parody originally appeared in his own title back in Marvel's Star Comics line of kids books in the 1980s. While most of the Star characters have been lost to time (Planet Terry anyone?), Peter Porker AKA Spider-Ham has managed to reappear from time to time in the mainstream Marvel continuity. He also will be appearing in the new film voiced by none other than John Mulaney. Best of all, he gets his own toy which allows you to poke his ear to change his facial expression -- which brings astonishment to our goofy mugs.

    Buy Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Spin Vision Spider-Ham

    Riverdale Monopoly

    There is a Riverdale-branded version of Monopoly. One of the game pieces is Cheryl Blossom's "iconic" spider broach. We are dead now.

    Buy Riverdale Monopoly

    Catan

    It's actually unfair how fun Catan is. It's a friendship-destroying kind of fun, really. Grab this tabletop game where you can trade resources, build, and settle the whole map before anyone else can.

    Buy Catan right here on Amazon. 

    Planet of the Apes ReAction Figure Statue of Liberty Action Playset

    Umm, spoiler alert. Planet of the Apes turned 50 this year, and what better way to commemorate this milestone than with a playset based on the film's iconic ending. For use with Super 7's action figures from the film (sadly sold separately), this nostalgia-heavy toy is the ideal gift for the ape and/or Chuck Heston enthusiast on your shopping list.

    Buy the Planet of the Apes ReAction Figure Statue of Liberty Action Playset

    Lego Star Wars Darth Vader's Castle

    We've been obsessed with the idea of Darth Vader having a castle hideaway since we learned that it was a proposed but ultimately rejected location for Return of the Jedi back in 1983. Its surprise appearance in Rogue One warmed our nerdy hearts as if they were immersed in Mustafarian lava, as did the recent IDW comic series Tales from Vader's Castle. So with this background information firmly established, you might have guessed that we can't wait to get our geeky hands all over this Lego rendition of Dath's Castle. Made up of 1,060 pieces, which includes a packaged build of the castle, a Tie Advanced Fighter, and five mini figures, this massive Lego set is mind-boggling. We can think of no better way of ushering in 2019 than by building this behemoth.

    Buy the Lego Star Wars Darth Vader's Castle

    Cards Against Humanity

    There's no point in hiding how horrible you are with Cards Against Humanity. As the name implies, this question & answer matching card game will make you lose faith in humanity (but you'll still laugh your head off).

    Buy Cards Against Humanity right here! 

    Funko Pop! Marvel: Thor: Ragnarok Korg Collectible Vinyl Figure

    He's obviously awesome, but Korg should be on everyone's wish list for no other reason than he had the distinction of deliveringhe this year's funniest movie line -- "piss off, ghost!"

    Buy the Funko Pop! Marvel: Thor: Ragnarok Korg Collectible Vinyl Figure

    Funko GLOW Debbie & Ruth Two-Pack

    Netflix's GLOW series continues to be a revelation. What could have been a nostalgic wink fest instead is one of TV's sharpest and funniest shows, and a tribute to the power of female friendship. The series' emotional core is the complicated friendship between Debbie Eagan (Betty Gilpin) and Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie), whose off-stage battles have been known to carry over into the ring. Funko has recreated their wrestling personas, Liberty Belle and Zoya the Destroyer, in this two-pack of action figures that will dropkick the decorative competition on any shelf.

    Buy the Funko GLOW Debbie & Ruth Two-Pack

    Game of Thrones Hold the Door Doormat

    What, too soon? Relive one of Game of Thrones' most heartbreaking moments -- which is really saying a lot -- with this 15.17"(L) x 23.6"(W) non-slip doormat that is suitable for indoor or outdoor use. Hodor.

    Buy the Game of Thrones Hold the Door Doormat

    The Amazing Spider-Man Comic #122 T-Shirt

    After the Green Goblin threw Gwen Stacy off of the George Washington Bridge back in The Amazing Spider-Man #121, our hero's life would never be the same again -- especially since his attempt to save her via his webbing actually is what killed her, but let's not split hairs. The love of his young life was dead, and Spidey wanted revenge. In the subsequent issue, Spidey and the Goblin faced off in a climactic battle that has not been matched since. The excitement of this storyline is captured in this T-shirt, recreating John Romita Jr.'s iconic cover for that issue. Available in men's sizes Adult S through 4X.

    Buy The Amazing Spider-Man Comic #122 Shirt

    ]

    To a wizard, his or her most important accessory is a trusty wand. Now Muggles can get in on the fun with Wow! Stuff's officially licensed Harry Potter's Light Painting Wand. Using an included app, this wand allows you to write or draw in augmented reality with LED light. The above video shows you how the wand works, and we think that you'll agree that this is a gift idea that is beyond magical.

    Buy Harry Potter's Light Painting Wand

    Guardians of the Galaxy Baby Groot Cutting Board

    Oh man, this one is savage. What appears to be an adorable cutting board designed to look like Baby Groot takes a sinister turn once you realize that, oh shit, it could actually be Baby Groot. Happy holidays, everything is a nightmare!

    Buy the Guardians of the Galaxy Baby Groot Cutting Board

    Avengers: Infinity War | Infinity Gauntlet Graphic OtterBox Symmetry iPhone X Case

    Is there a person in your life who is constantly dropping their phone? If so, then shopping for them this year will be a snap (too soon?) with this durable Avengers: Infinity War OtterBox Symmetry iPhone X Case. With "the strongest protection in the slimmest style," this sturdy synthetic rubber and polycarbonate case includes dual-layer defense guards to protect against spills and tumbles. Best of all? The case can be personalized to your liking via Zazzle's website.

    Buy the Avengers: Infinity War | Infinity Gauntlet Graphic OtterBox Symmetry iPhone X Case


    Retro Captain America Comic Book Pattern Neck Tie

    It would be impossible not to look heroic in this stylish officially licensed Captain America necktie. Made of 100% polyester with a silky finish, this 55" x 4" tie is a perfect, patriotic tribute to Cap and the American way!

    Buy the Retro Captain America Comic Book Pattern Neck Tie


    Guardians of the Galaxy Dancing Baby Groot iPhone 8 Plus/7 Plus Case

    "I am Groot?" More like you are cute, amirite? Although the next installment of the Guardians of the Galaxy saga is on hold while the hunt for a new director goes on, there's comfort to be found in the fact that the first two films are nothing but pure entertainment -- thanks in no small part to our wooden friend here. Designed for the Apple iPhone 8 Plus/7 Plus, this slim and durable featherlight Case-Mate case comes with a downright adorable image of dancing Groot that can be customized with whatever name you like via the Zazzle website.

    Buy the Guardians of the Galaxy Dancing Baby Groot iPhone 8 Plus/7 Plus Case


    Nintendo Game Boy Convertible Backpack/Computer Laptop Messenger Bag

    Two bags in one! Whether used as a backpack on a computer laptop messenger bag, this versatile item will grant its wearer some serious retro gaming swagger. Our only complaint is that you can't actually play Tetris on it. It's a scientific fact that Tetris makes any commute better.

    Buy the Nintendo Game Boy Convertible Backpack/Computer Laptop Messenger Bag

    Sabrina the Teenage Witch Pin

    This soft enamel pin from Macabre Manor recreates Dan Decarlo's art from Archie's Madhouse #22, which introduced Sabrina the Teenage Witch. This 1.25" limited edition pin will cast its spell on the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina fan in your life.

    Buy the Sabrina the Teenage Witch Pin

    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Tote Bag

    Douglas Adams reportedly hated the "Cosmic Cutie" -- the green, large-tongued blob who appeared on the covers of every Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy book released in North America. We're going to have to respectfully disagree with him on this one, as we've been in love with the Cutie since we first laid eyes on his toothy grin. This 100% cotton canvas bag from Out of Print clothing includes artist Peter Cross' original Hitchhiker's art and is full of as much weird whimsy as the book's themselves. Bonus points go to this one because each purchase made at Out of Print helps fund literacy programs and book donations to communities in need. And that would definitely bring a smile to the late author's face.

    Buy The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Tote Bag


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    Steve Orlando's Martian Manhunter comic gets a thematic preview in DC's Nuclear Winter Special. Here's an exclusive first look...

    DC's Nuclear Winter Special Cover
    NewsJim Dandy
    Nov 26, 2018

    DC has been having a lot of creative success with their seasonal specials. Usually they’re a way for fun one-off stories or quick-hit introductions for new talent. And periodically they use it as a way to seed ideas and themes for upcoming stories. That’s the case in DC's Nuclear Winter Special, where we get some stuff from relative newcomers like Amancay Nahuelpan (who’s drawn a bunch of stuff for Black Mask, but not much for DC) or Dave Wielgosz (an editor on the Batman books who’s new to writing credits); unsurprisingly great work from Tom Taylor and Mairghread Scott; an EXTREMELY Mark Russell framing sequence by perennial favorite Mark Russell; and a stealth intro to one of 2019’s most anticipated comics - a holiday get together between Superman One Million and Martian Manhunter from penciller Brad Walker and writer Steve Orlando, who gets to tackle J’onn next year.

    “I was lucky we were deep in the development of Martian Manhunter with Riley [Rossmo, artist on the series] when DC came to me to talk about doing this story for Nuclear Winter,” Orlando told us. “It was an opportunity to take a lot of the worlds we built for Martian Manhunter in our own book and spread it into this DCU story and give it a little bit of a preview.”

    Orlando is one of a handful of guys who can successfully build off of Grant Morrison concepts, so it was no surprise to see Kal Kent, the Superman of the 853rd century (from DC One Million) show up. It has Superman visiting Mars to celebrate “Memory Hearth” with J’onn.

    Kal feels very much like an outgrowth of the Morrison version, and the story feels like the best Christmas episode of all time (“Comfort and Joy” don’t @ me) while also laying the groundwork for what we can expect from Orlando’s next step with the character.

    Storywise, you know exactly what you’re getting. “King Cosmos is in there for one reason and one reason only, I love his name and I think he looks cool,” Orlando said. This is a guy who revels in continuity deep cuts - who put Neron, Prometheus and Extraño in Midnighter and launched Justice League of America by pitting the team against Lord Havok and the Extremists, so it’s no surprise that he dug deep for King Cosmos.

    And if you’ve followed his career at all, it’s no surprise at all who he’s working with on art. Brad Walker, of late from Aquaman and The Demon fame but maybe best known for his work on the seminal Abnett and Lanning era Guardians of the Galaxy, is the latest in a long string of phenomenal artists to be paired with Orlando on a story. Walker’s design is terrific, his action work is outstanding, and his facial expressions and body language nail the emotional beats of the story.

    Here’s what DC has to say about the book:

    DC NUCLEAR WINTER SPECIAL #1

    written by PAUL DINI, STEVE ORLANDO, PHIL HESTER, MARK RUSSELL, MAIRGHREAD SCOTT and others

    art by CULLY HAMNER, PHIL HESTER, GIUSEPPE CAMUNCOLI, YASMINE PUTRI and others

    cover by YANICK PAQUETTEThe holidays are tough enough as it is, but when you’re living in a post-apocalyptic wasteland (or, you know, 2018) the world can seem bleaker than ever. So do yourself a favor this holiday season, break out your best eggnog and enjoy 10 all-new stories featuring the World’s Greatest Heroes, including looks at the futures of Batman, Superman and the Flash, as well as many more denizens of the DC Universe.

    The DC Nuclear Winter Special is on sale on Wednesday, 11/29. We'll have more from our chat with Steve Orlando this week, too!


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    Characters, history, sewage - there's a lot to consider when creating a brand new world.

    Game of Thrones Clock
    FeatureAndrew Blair
    Nov 27, 2018

    This article comes from Den of Geek UK.

    Tolkien took twelve years, J.K. Rowling seventeen. Terry Pratchett started the Discworld novels in 1983, and they finished thirty-two years later. George R. R. Martin started A Song Of Ice And Fire in 1991 and it remains unfinished. God managed to build the world in six days, though to be fair he didn’t really do much plotting.

    In this article we’re going to look at the worldbuilding in the examples mentioned above; some of the most famous and popular fantasy series in the world, but still barely scratching the surface of the genre and leaning towards High Fantasy (broadly speaking, High Fantasy tends towards the epic and takes places in a fictional universe, with Low Fantasy taking place in the real world or a world very like ours but with fantastical elements).

    Let’s start with the most important question...

    How does the shit get out?

    Terry Pratchett once opened a discussion about fantasy world-building with the question “How does the shit get out, and the clean water get in?”

    The Discworld’s major city was built from its river outwards to answer this question.

    Pratchett’s 2007 essay 'Notes from a Successful Fantasy Author: Keep it Real' can be found in his collected nonfiction book A Slip Of The Keyboard, and is an essential read regarding worldbuilding in fantasy. This observation stood out:

    “Apply logic in places where it wasn’t intended to exist.”

    Hence we have the character of Ernie in Hogfather, whose job is to transport teeth into the Tooth Fairy kingdom. There’s enough background to his character, short-lived though it is, to get an insight into his life. That his job exists - and the movement of children’s teeth requires a Bulk Collection and Despatch district manager - demonstrates how people earn a living in this city while also looking at the practicalities of the Tooth Fairy tale.

    further reading: Everything You Need to Know About Game of Thrones Season 8

    What makes Pratchett’s work rare is that he wasn’t telling a serialized tale across a trilogy or set of seven books, he had forty-one stories with which to interrogate fantasy cliches and myths. Crucially, he used this space well. The City Watch - the focus of eight novels - were based on the guards who ‘round about Chapter Three (they) rush into the room, attack the hero one at a time, and get slaughtered. No one ever asks them if they wanted to’ (from the dedication of Guards! Guards!).

    Where societies or organizations had rules (for example, Dwarf culture, the guilds, or any group who used magic) he used these to drive stories. He developed characters that could examine societal structures: Death, for example, looking to comprehend humanity from an outsider’s point-of-view, and the Patrician as someone whose understanding was almost complete.

    Later introductions described the series as a "History of the Discworld." However, what Pratchett shows us isn’t hugely usual. It was a happy accident that he got to write so substantial a series that it could qualify as a history. The Discworld will remain unique. It emerged gradually, and even if someone was able to devise something that huge no publisher is going to commit to a forty-one book series. For some reason they seem to prefer trilogies.

    Tolkien your time

    J.R.R. Tolkien didn’t invent High Fantasy, but The Lord Of The Rings is arguably still the most famous example of it, and is the certainly the most influential. Game of Thrones may be higher in the public consciousness right now, but it’s hugely shaped by its predecessor. The differences in what came next are frequently reactions against Tolkien. While Martin is a fan the likes of Michael Moorcock had strong negative reactions to Lord Of The Rings.

    Tolkien said that his Catholicism influenced the themes of the books (unconsciously at first but consciously in the redrafts). Moorcock and others criticized the conservative tendencies of Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Richard Adams (Watership Down among others), stating these authors produced fantasies that looked back to a time when the English middle classes felt more comfortable.

    Tolkien’s class, religion and upbringing all fed into Lord Of The Rings. He came at these stories from the point of view of an academic linguist rather than a fiction writer. He never knew where The Hobbit would go, nor Lord Of The Rings. In 1955 he wrote to W.H. Auden, saying:

    “I met a lot of things on the way that astonished me. Tom Bombadil I knew already; but I had never been to Bree. Strider sitting in the corner at the inn was a shock, and I had no more idea who he was than had Frodo. The Mines of Moria had been a mere name; and of Lothlórien no word had reached my mortal ears till I came there.”

    His cultures and world were based on linguistics with cultures being devised around created languages. Rather than just Lord Of The Rings, Tolkien wanted to publish a version of The Silmarillion.The idea for this book predated The Hobbit, with Tolkien working from 1914 on a mythology for English history and culture that he thought was lacking. His publishers preferred a more conventional sequel to The Hobbit, though parts of The Silmarillion found their way into Lord Of The Rings and its appendices.  

    Thus Tolkien was in the rare position of having developed a significant part of his story universe prior to the idea of writing novels in it. Rather than developing both the world and the story simultaneously, the storyline takes a break at times for the expansion of Middle Earth. This aspect was one of the most influential on later High Fantasies.

    Kill your darlings

    Epic High Fantasy is renowned for its lengthy descriptive prose, the additional world building that isn’t strictly necessary for the main story. Certainly most adaptations of Lord Of The Rings cut vast swathes of Fellowship Of The Ring out (most notably the character of Tom Bombadil, less notably the bit where Frodo buys a new house in Buckland as cover for leaving Hobbiton).

    Stephen King’s On Writing suggests that a writer should use the bare minimum of words to tell a story (as an aside: I would be absolutely fascinated to read a version of Lord Of The Rings edited down by Stephen King). George R.R. Martin has stated that he does this too, but on his own terms. For example, in A Dance With Dragons Martin devotes a chapter to Davos Seaworth exploring White Harbour.

    Here, Martin spends time detailing a setting that we do not need to understand in order to follow the story, but which fleshes out the universe. Martin is an avowed fan of worldbuilding, describing the need for"a 'secondary universe', as J.R.R. Tolkien termed it, a world both like and unlike our own, with its own rich history and geography and customs, its own beauties and terrors". He has also stated the need for aspiring writers to develop their own story universe rather than playing in someone else’s.

    Martin recommends, like Terry Pratchett, reading outside the genre to get an idea of how worlds work. He offers examples of influences from history (the War of the Roses, for example) and Shakespeare’s Henry V (where Henry disguises himself to listen to his soldiers, and hears their doubts about their cause) as examples of morally grey areas instead of a struggle between a binary of good and evil.

    further reading: The Most Fantastic Moments in the Lord of the Rings Movies

    The worldbuilding in A Song Of Ice And Fire was sketched out and then expanded as the novels were written (hence the detail of White Harbour in the series’ fifth book) rather than decided upon in advance. Martin’s idea came to him while writing another story, and he developed it from that rather than any long-term ideal or aim. As it grew, he decided it was a fantasy novel, and his own tastes, experiences and reading informed it. In response to previous High Fantasy tropes, every character would have shades of light and dark and be motivated by relatable concerns with historic precedents.

    Tolkien’s characters are motivated by a factor beyond their control, an ancient evil means war is upon them whether they wish it or not. Martin’s world is far more muddy and sprawling, and based on a historically informed version of the past rather than a rose tinted middle England. There is little struggle to eat or to live in Middle Earth, with their ‘No sex please, we’re British’ pre-history rendered in mythopoeia.

    Where Tolkien and Martin overlap is that they are both largely writing blind, without a finalized idea or outline of where they’re going. To quote Martin from this Guardianarticle

    “I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house...They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it...as the plant comes up and they water it, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have, they find out as it grows. And I’m much more a gardener than an architect.”

    Keep Rowling, Rowling Rowling Rowling (what?)

    Like Martin’s idea and Tolkien’s sudden flash of inspiration for The Hobbit (had while marking exam papers), J.K. Rowling had a vision for Harry Potter suddenly and it stuck with her.  

    Rowling borrowed existing tropes from multiple genres, reshaping them into a structure that echoes other fantasy and mythic stories, but equally plays into school and coming-of-age stories. She’s hugely influenced by children’s literature involving magic, friendship, and plucky adventuring (e.g. Enid Blyton, Elizabeth Goudge, E. Nesbit). Taking cues from Tom Brown’s Schooldays, the Harry Potter characters and books grew up with their audience.  

    She’s more of an architect, as described in this Den of Geek article by Kayti Burt, but specifically in terms of plot. It’s no surprise that she’s moved onto detective fiction, as most Potter books are mystery novels that happen to be doing a lot of heavy lifting for later revelations.

    As with Pratchett, Rowling’s character and place names are based on puns and jokes, but if the novels don’t linger on the infrastructure needed to support these (which doesn’t necessarily mean that Rowling hasn’t thought about this). Ideas such as Platform 9¾ are appealing derivatives of C.S. Lewis’ wardrobe, but such whimsical notions appear at odds with practical necessities. If, as the My Life As A Background Slytherin comic points out Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is in Scotland, do Scottish wizards have to travel to London only to get a train back up North again?

    It’s fair to say - Lord Of The Rings aside - that there is a clue to this approach in the series titles: Discworld as a bracket title gives us the location, a whole world to focus on. A Song Of Ice And Fire suggests an epic tale of elemental forces rather than characters or location. Harry Potter has one character as the focal point.

    Rowling’s focus on plot and character, moving everything into place from the very first book, is done at the expense of the level of detail found in Pratchett, Tolkien and Martin’s works. Also a factor is that her books were intended for children and teenagers, away from the High Fantasy novels in the bookshop and libraries. What we know was cut from earlier drafts consists mainly of characters rather than background though.

    That Harry Potter has a gap where the in-depth world building could go really lends itself to fan fiction, including Key and Peele’s ‘Inner-City Wizard School’ sketch, and the franchise’s success means that Rowling has scope to expand her creation via Pottermore, not dissimilar to the Appendices of Tolkien. It is here where we find out the wizarding world’s answer to ‘How does the shit get out?’

    Wizards copied Muggle plumbing in the Eighteenth Century having previously just gone where they stood then vanished it with magic. This is typical of Harry Potter: a funny idea that has a universal childish appeal, but raises more questions than it answers.


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    Everything you need to know about the Artemis Fowl movie adaptation from Kenneth Branagh...

    News Kayti Burt
    Nov 27, 2018

    It’s been more than a decade since the Artemis Fowl fantasy book series about a boy billionaire genius who also happens to be a criminal mastermind was published and inspired talk of a movie.

    Now, the film adaptation of Eoin Colfer’s bestselling children’s book series is finally happening. The Tracking Board reports that Kenneth Branagh, fresh off of his success with Disney’s live action Cinderella, is directing the film.

    Could the Artemis Fowl film finally be happening? Yep! We even have a teaser trailer! Here's everything we know...

    Artemis Fowl Movie Trailer

    The first teaser trailer released for the film reminds readers of just how ambitious this world is, though doesn't give us much insight into how the character of Artemis Fowl himself will be adapted for the film. Artemis begins the series as a straight up anti-hero, callously preparing to rob the hidden world of the fairies.

    Artemis Fowl Movie Cast

    Relative newcomer Ferdia Shaw has been cast in the title role in the Artemis Fowl movie. Joining young Shaw will be Dame Judi Dench (Commander Root), Josh Gad (Mulch Diggums), Lara McDonnell (Captain Holly Shore), and Nonso Anozie (Artemis' bodyguard Domovoi Butler).

    In other news, Irish playwright Conor McPherson will be writing the script for the adaptation of the best-selling middle grade novel.

    Artemis Fowl Movie Release Date

    Disney has slated the film for an August 9th, 2019 release date. 

    Artemis Fowl Movie Production History

    Long before the anti-hero craze hit mainstream TV drama, Artemis Fowl was making immoral decisions and trying to leverage innocent bystanders for money, power, or to rescue family members in this series of middle grade novels.

    Artemis is like a cross between Gotham’s Bruce Wayne, James Bond, and pretty much every supervillain worth their salt. Throw in some high-tech gadgetry and a secret magical underworld policed by fairies and you’ve got the perfect ingredients for a blockbuster film adaptation — which is why it’s so surprising that this movie adaptation hasn’t progressed further in the last decade.

    The Artemis Fowl films have been in development hell for the last 14 years. To put that in context, Harvey Weinstein bought the rights in 2001 through Miramax Films (which was later purchased by Disney) — aka the same year the first Harry Potter film was released and studios started selling their first borns to find the next big YA/children’s book film adaptation.

    Over the years, directors like Lawrence Guterman and Jim Sheridan have been attached to the Artemis Fowl film. But, in 2013, the latter left the project and Disney announced that they would be producing a version of the film with the Weinstein Co., with Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal as executive producers.

    Personally, I'm overjoyed to see this film adaptation move forward, especially with the right writer. Though Branagh has proven himself a highly competent director, the Cinderellascript was a bit thin. Snarky Artemis Fowl needs a writer up to the task of quippy one-liners and balancing the fine line between child anti-hero and lonely kid with too much money and not enough family members.

    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.


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    Check out this exclusive preview of Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion #3 by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba!

    Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion #3
    NewsJohn Saavedra
    Nov 27, 2018

    The return of Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba's Umbrella Academyhas been nothing short of surreal. Years after the severely damaged Hargreeves family tried to thwart the Kennedy assassination, the team is back in its strangest adventure yet.

    Spread out around the globe, the team is broken. Spaceboy has gone solo, fighting bad guys in Japan, no longer willing to lead his brothers and sisters against the forces of evil. The Rumor is trying to reconcile with the father of her child, while also taking care of Vanya, who is still recovering from her turn to evil in "The Apocalypse Suite." The Seance is doing as well as you'd expect... Number Five? Well, he's actually doing quite well amidst the chaos. 

    All the while, we've been learning more about the Hotel Oblivion, a top secret, high-security transdimensional prison built by The Monocle to punish the world's most vile villains. But two of these villains, including the Murder Magician, have made their escape and are now on the run. 

    Further Reading: Umbrella Academy Netflix Series Details

    That's where issue #3 of the seven-issue third arc picks up. Below is the solicit for the issue. No, those aren't typos made by us. The solicit is actually written like a Yelp review:

    Philippe C.

    The City

    wow... I have never been so amazed in my life. the mothers of agony seem like dirtball hoodlum scum, so I was very sceptical when a friend recommended them for psychic advice. their place of business leaves a lot to be desired, in a terrible neighborhood, but its the results that matter and man did they deliver! their psychic seems like hes done a lot of drugs, but as soon as we sat down in their private frankly kind of frightening room, it was like my dead father was right there beside me again! he knew things only my father could know, including the dirt I needed on my sister to lock her out of the trust. if I could give the mothers of agony a 10 star review I would.

    Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion #3 is out on Dec. 5 at your local comic shop.

    Den of Geek has an exclusive preview of the issue ahead of its release next week:

    John Saavedra is an associate editor at Den of Geek. Read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @johnsjr9


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    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG and Matilda are amongst Roald Dahl stories that Netflix will adapt as part of an event series.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Nov 27, 2018

    Netflix is diving into the proverbial chocolate pool that is Roald Dahl adaptation projects, and ensuing scolding songs of the Oompa Loompas will do little to discourage the streaming giant, which is set to tackle a slate of animated versions of classics like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and The BFG, brandishing plans of “extending the Roald Dahl universe.”

    While adaptations of the fantastical literary works of the legendary British author – who passed away back in 1990 – have never been in short supply in film and television, Netflix’s small screen animated plans are unprecedentedly ambitious, especially when dropping the word “universe.” Indeed, the seemingly Herculean task of tackling the immense array of Dahl’s classic works will take shape within the confines of Netflix’s recently-announced in-house animation studio, set to manifest as part of what’s being called an “animated event series.” Netflix is producing the series in partnership with the Roald Dahl Story Company.

    A familiar image in the peeling foil of a Wonka Bar reveals a Netflix golden ticket, serving as the first teaser for the series.

    The full slate of Netflix’s Roald Dahl animated event series consists of the following:

    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,Matilda,The BFG,The Twits,Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator,George’s Marvellous Medicine,Boy – Tales of Childhood,Going Solo,The Enormous Crocodile,The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me,Henry Sugar,Billy and the Minpins,The Magic Finger,Esio Trot,Dirty Beasts, andRhyme Stew.

    Netflix, in a statement, reveals its intent, saying that the project is designed to “bring together the highest quality creative, visual, and writing teams to extend the stories in this first-of-its-kind slate of premium animated event series and specials for audiences of all ages and for families to enjoy together.” It also emphasizes its plan to “remain faithful to the quintessential spirit and tone of Dahl while also building out an imaginative story universe that expands far beyond the pages of the books themselves.”

    As Melissa Cobb, Vice President of Kids & Family Content at Netflix further explains:

    “Immersing ourselves in the extraordinary worlds of Roald Dahl stories has been an honor and a massive amount of fun, and we are grateful for the trust the Roald Dahl Story Company and the Dahl family have placed in our team to deliver more moments of shared joy to families around the world. We have great creative ambition to reimagine the journeys of so many treasured Dahl characters in fresh, contemporary ways with the highest quality animation and production values.”

    Of course, the endorsement of the Dahl family is quite present for this animated endeavor. As Roald’s widow, Felicity, expresses in a statement:

    “Our mission, which is purposefully lofty, is for as many children as possible around the world to experience the unique magic and positive message of Roald Dahl’s stories.” She adds, “This partnership with Netflix marks a significant move toward making that possible and is an incredibly exciting new chapter for the Roald Dahl Story Company. Roald would, I know, be thrilled.”

    News of Netflix’s Dahl Universe plans arrive as a number of other adaptations are in the works, notably live-action reboot movies for Willy Wonka/Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Witches, as well as a television reboot of the Dahl-adapting British anthology series, Tales of the Unexpected. The new projects will arrive in the aftermath of the most recent high-profile Dahl adaptation in director Steven Spielberg’s 2016 animated/live-action hybrid take on The BFG.

    As far as the animated event series goes, Netflix states that production is set kick off sometime in 2019. – We will certainly keep you updated on its development.

    Joseph Baxter is a contributor for Den of Geek and Syfy Wire. You can find his work here. Follow him on Twitter @josbaxter.


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    Polaris makes a decision and...it doesn't really feel justified on the latest episode of The Gifted.

    This The Gifted review contains spoilers.

    The Gifted Season 2 Episode 8

    The Giftedis a really strong X-Men show, and like all X-media, sometimes it gets a little high on its own supply. The show is at its most effective when it's mixing surprisingly good action with soapy melodrama that tackle issues that have clear real-world parallels. The show runs into problems when, rather than starting with a situation and working forward from how the characters would react, they start with a theme and work backwards to the characters. That ultimately is where "the dreaM" falls apart this week: they really want you to know Polaris and "her father" are the same, but to make that connection explicit, they have her do stuff that I don't think is justified by her character arc so far.

    To this point, Lorna's been all about protecting Dawn. She's been extremely helicopter mom about the baby, but this episode requires her to just up and let go, and I'm not buying it. The stubborn, headstrong woman who bailed on the Resistance to build a better future for her baby and nearly killed a couple of allies for humming the same song as the kid probably wouldn't up and send her to newborn boarding school in the Alps at the first sign of civil unrest. She is only slightly more likely to decide she can't raise the baby, and also that her partner and the baby's father is also not able to raise Dawn. This feels like shuffling for the sake of shuffling, and not because it's fitting the characters.

    I will admit that I'm having a tough time separating my feelings about the necessity of the plot development from my feelings about the actual plot development itself. I'm not sure how much of this is me really questioning the necessity of sidelining Dawn and how much of it is me just not liking seeing Marcos and Lorna separated from their child.

    further reading: The X-Men Movies You Never Saw

    Part of my doubt stems from how good so much of the episode was. They really bludgeon us over the head with the Dawn plot line to show us how much like Magneto Polaris supposedly is, but they are vastly more subtle in how they have her deal with Esme. Lorna is using her baby to straight up eat Esme's brain. She is manipulating the living hell out of this poor unscrupulous telepath and it is a classic Magneto power move. It's a nice inversion of the comic relationship, too, where Esme used to get all hopped up on Kick and trick Magneto into destroying Manhattan.

    The backup stories here aren't really anything special. We get a little more progress on Thunderbird and Blink's slow motion relationship collapse - John is still trying to fix everything, while Clarice has given up on hope and is fighting a move into the sewers with the Morlocks.

    Meanwhile, Clan Strucker storyline goes off to find Reed's Dad's former assistant so he can get help suppressing his out of control mutant power, and they find her running a genetics department at the Opposite State University, the only college where civil unrest and massive genetic discrimination actually calms things down. Everything about this college setting felt so sinister - the fact that everyone's just chilling playing frisbee while the world catches fire from the Inner Circle attack on Creed Financial; the shirt the med tech is wearing ("Never Trust an Atom, They Make Up Everything" was chosen expressly because of the Children of the Atom, I promise you); the happy mutants hanging around the lab. So whe the big reveal came through, that Dr. Riesman's brother founded the Purifiers but she hates him but she also is going to use Strucker blood to make a Mutant Cure, it felt like a letdown.

    further reading - The Best X-Men: The Animated Series Episodes

    Lorna wraps the episode by dropping the baby off at her foster mom's place and then turning Magneto's disc into a helmet for her, making absolutely sure we all knew what they were trying to say. Usually The Giftedand the X-Men in general don't actually run into any problems with their lack of subtlety, but there was enough wrong elsewhere in this week's episode that it really hurt.

    LOOSE GENETIC MATERIAL

    - Apparently Rebecca's attack inside Creed Financial killed 37 people, and if you're the same flavor of nerd as me, your response to Marcos saying "37" was to shout "IN A ROW?" at the tv.

    - This is super nitpicky, but they don't do anything to thin Marcos' beard in the flashbacks.

    - "Creed Financial" is a nice touch. It's probably a reference to Graydon Creed, the founder of the Friends of Humanity, a Purifiers-like group from early 90s X-Men books. He's also the son of Mystique and Sabertooth.

    - Anybody know what the school in Switzerland was that Lorna was talking about? I think it might have been a reference to the Hellfire Academy from Jason Aaron's Wolverine and the X-Menrun, but I could be wrong.

    - Esme imprinted on Dawn and oh god what if The Giftedis secretly Reverse Twilight? I will mail the writers one American dollar if they can see their way to naming a season 3 episode 50 Shades of Nate Grey.

    - Hey how come they can't say Magneto on this show? It's always "your father" or "Him [Lucille Bluth Trying to Wink dot gif]." But they put his logo like, right there on the button.

    Keep up with all our The Gifted news and reviews right here.

    3/5
    ReviewJim Dandy
    The Gifted Season 2 Episode 8: The Dream Polaris
    Nov 27, 2018

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