Articles on this Page
- 12/10/18--15:10: _The Golden Compass ...
- 12/10/18--16:10: _Strange Times: TBS ...
- 12/11/18--13:07: _Gunsmoke & Glamour:...
- 12/11/18--14:14: _Spider-Man: Into th...
- 12/12/18--03:51: _Elseworlds, Crisis ...
- 12/12/18--11:14: _Stranger Things Com...
- 12/12/18--14:33: _The Batman Who Laug...
- 12/13/18--11:07: _Spider-Man: Into Th...
- 12/13/18--11:19: _Spider-Man: Into th...
- 12/13/18--15:34: _The Roof: The Beatl...
- 12/14/18--01:09: _Spider-Man: Into th...
- 12/14/18--13:46: _Crisis on Infinite ...
- 12/14/18--14:45: _Spider-Man: The Man...
- 12/14/18--16:19: _Spider-Man: Into th...
- 12/14/18--16:31: _Aquaman Villains Ex...
- 12/14/18--18:55: _Aquaman Villains Ex...
- 12/14/18--22:01: _Aquaman Comics Read...
- 12/17/18--11:09: _Mortal Engines: Dif...
- 12/17/18--16:23: _Best New Science Fi...
- 12/17/18--16:44: _Best New Fantasy Bo...
- 12/10/18--15:10: The Golden Compass Movie: What Went Wrong?
- 12/11/18--14:14: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse - Who Is Miles Morales?
- 12/13/18--11:07: Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse: Who Are the Characters?
- 12/13/18--11:19: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse - Who is Spider-Ham?
- 12/13/18--15:34: The Roof: The Beatles’ Final Concert Author Talks Music
- 12/14/18--01:09: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Post-Credits Scene Explained
- 12/14/18--14:45: Spider-Man: The Many Spider-Men of the Spider-Verse
- 12/14/18--16:31: Aquaman Villains Explained: Who is Black Manta?
- 12/14/18--18:55: Aquaman Villains Explained: Orm - Who is Ocean Master?
- 12/14/18--22:01: Aquaman Comics Reading Order
- 12/17/18--11:09: Mortal Engines: Differences Between the Book and the Movie
- 12/17/18--16:23: Best New Science Fiction Books in December 2018
- 12/17/18--16:44: Best New Fantasy Books in December 2018
With His Dark Materials set to become a TV show, we look back at what went wrong with the Golden Compass movie.
WithHis Dark Materials set to get the TV show adaptation treatment, we're taking the time to look back at what went wrong the last time someone tried to adapt Philip Pullman's beloved trilogy of fantasy novels to the screen in the 2007 flop The Golden Compass. Here's hoping the BBC adaptation avoids these pitfalls...
Pullman's His Dark Materialswas much praised for its rich, imaginative fantasy world, nuanced and ambiguous characters, and powerful anti-religious themes. Critically acclaimed, award-laden bestsellers with a young heroine in the form of Lyra Bellacqua, the trilogy seemed an obvious choice to follow Harry Potter and Lord Of The Rings and become a blockbuster movie series.
New Line bought the rights after bringing Lord Of The Rings to the screen, hoping for a similar success. The two stories are very different high fantasies, however, and The Golden Compass contains concepts less familiar to audiences than wizards, monsters, and swordplay. His Dark Materials was also occasionally categorized in shops as a children's book, unlike Lord Of The Rings.
This is an important factor when it comes to the adaptation. Say something is for children and for a lot of people you automatically impose limitations on what it can be. Consider how many times "for kids" is used as a derogatory term, even if that means you have to ignore the sheer abundance of brilliant stories that match that description.
It's self-perpetuating in many ways. So long as products for children have an air of complacency and simplicity their superiors will be tarred with the same brush, lending children's films a reputation that means some creators feel they don't have to try so hard.
The Golden Compassis one of those movies that taints other children's films by virtue of being compromised by an adult's idea of what children can cope with. With its unique aspects neutered, it becomes an anemic dirge at times, with exposition as subtle as a Michael Bay in the face. One character literally flies in just to explain a plot point before immediately leaving again.
Derek Jacobi almost salvages lines such as: "If we can save our children from the corrupting influence of dust…" but ultimately can't do anything to stop it sounding like a line from Brass Eye. Christopher Lee is brought in to say a new line by New Line, whose own dust-strewn fingers are all over the final edit and some of the casting. Ian McKellen was also brought on board to have a fight with Lovejoy, but like the rest of the film it was a bloodless affair.
With Rogue One writer Chris Weitz both writing and directing, you'd be forgiven for thinking he should take the bulk of the blame, especially when he chose not to use a draft by renowned playwright (and Star Wars prequels dialogue polisher, yes, I know) Tom Stoppard. Weitz, having co-wrote and directed About a Boy, seemed a sensible choice after producing a seemingly light film punctuated by moments of melancholy and darkness, and got the job after making an unsolicited pitch.
Daniel Craig was cast well, as were Nicole Kidman and Sam Elliott. The child actors are occasionally guilty of being child actors, though it feels harsh to criticize them at all when their dialogue has the ring of a production enclave asking: "But are we sure people will get that Lyra's feisty and intelligent?"
The end result is dialogue telling us that Lyra is special in a film that doesn't always remember to show us the same thing. This is partly down to a studio imposed running time of two hours, cutting around an hour from Weitz' first draft. This came despite Harry Potterbeing successful with lengthier running times. You'd have thought that the studio who made Lord Of The Rings would have more faith. But faith was another issue altogether...
Weitz trod lightly around the religious aspects of Pullman's books, but still found himself having to remove even mentions of "sin" from the script, leaving an important part of the story flailing amid woolly and ridiculous euphemisms. He left the project—replaced temporarily by Anand Tucker (Red Riding, Indian Summer), who himself then left over creative differences—before Weitz returned to finish the movie he'd started.
According to Vulture, the faults of the film do not lie with Weitz. He apparently turned in a more faithful draft than Stoppard, whose script was apparently less about Lyra and more about meetings (according to a Philip Pullman interview with The Atlantic,which is well worth a read).
While only a hint of the religious subtext was left in that script, much of what made Weitz’ first draft work was cut to bring down that running time. Actor Tom Courtenay confirmed that his role was drastically reduced in post-production, with the studio editing the full-length version down, removing its original ending and staging reshoots to exposit information now lost.
Ultimately, there were problems as a result of religious pressure and the studio being unwilling to risk wrath (wrath that would probably have descended on them at any rate), but this was far from unsalvageable. What really killed the film off it seems was the drive to get it under two hours, and the ensuing studio-imposed reworking of the movie. In short, it feels more like a bullet point list of things half remembered from the book than an actual film.
And we come back full circle a little here. The change in running time came because of a limited notion of what a children's movie can be, and what a younger audience can cope with. It's even more obvious in hindsight with the raft of young adult adaptations that the audience could have coped with a three-hour long version of The Golden Compass with its bleak finale, had New Line opted to go that way.
It's hard to imagine a film in a New Line trilogy ending at a point that leaves the next film with a flapping tendril of leftover story, I know, but that's what happened in 2007: the finale of The Golden Compass was to be left over for the next film in the series, based on the book The Subtle Knife. Obviously, this film never came to pass, and we have two books unfilmed. Is this a bad thing? I'd argue that it is not.
Harry Potterhad to leave out a lot of details from the books over its eight films, but His Dark Materials are books that are trying to do different things, richer still in just three novels, and so there's an inevitable loss of nuance even in a good film adaptation.
There's no need to adapt every single remotely popular story, as if things don't exist until they're moving pictures on a screen, so if there's going to be an exception, it's good that it's something that rewards multiple readings. That uses prose to tell stories more effectively than cutting edge CGI even could.
Meanwhile, at New Line, the additional shoot and post-production on The Golden Compass not only increased the cost of the film, but stopped it from being good enough to recover costs. Indeed, it contributed to a financial situation at New Line that required a surefire hit from one of their properties, and lo: Peter Jackson was brought back onboard, and The Hobbit began to happen.
The decision to make three films certainly paid off in that respect...
Strange Times, a paranormal series from Blink-182's Tom DeLonge, is in development at TBS.
While the pop culture public knows Tom DeLonge as a contemporary rock star co-founder of Blink-182 and later as the vocalist for modern post-punk supergroup Angels & Aiwaves, it appears that he’ll soon trade his duties onstage for one behind the scenes of a television series adaptation of his recent turn as a fiction author with franchise Strange Times.
Strange Times is now in development over at TBS as a television series. The project – following the supernatural exploits of a group of young skateboarders – will adapt the franchise of novels and graphic novels by DeLonge, notably represented by the 2015 graphic novel, Strange Times: The Curse of Superstition Mountain, and Strange Times: The Ghost in the Girl, the October 2016-released YA book that DeLonge co-wrote with Geoff Herbach. The would-be TBS series will be written/executive produced by newcomer Aaron Karo. DeLonge is onboard as an executive producer, joined in that capacity by The Cartel’s Stan Spry and Jeff Holland and Strike Entertainment’s Russell Binder.
As DeLonge tells Variety, the TV plans represent the culmination of a nearly a decade’s worth of planning, hinting of multimedia crossover potential. He explains:
“This is a dream I’ve had for over 10 years and it’s finally a reality. All the stories and themes I work on are meant to be shared through multiple mediums and on different platforms — film, TV, books, music and so on. Strange Times began as an interactive website where people shared weird, paranormal stories — a lot of them with credible evidence. That helped inspire the story behind the graphic novel and also a prose novel that I published. This is exactly what my company To The Stars Academy of Arts and Science does. We hope to create something that could be described as sort of a ‘science fiction Disney,’ where our entertainment franchises are worlds that are inspired and informed by our own next-generation science division.”
DeLonge also hints of a classic punk-rock/new-wave-oriented soundtrack for the series, naming bands like The Descendents, The Queers, and Bad Religion, along with New Order, Depeche Mode and The Cure. Additionally, when asked of an ideal theme song, DeLonge names “Suburban Home,” the classic cut from The Descendents’ 1982 album, “Milo Goes to College.”
News of the Strange Times TBS TV prospects arrive nearly two years after reports of DeLonge’s initial live-action plans to direct a feature film based off the book series. DeLonge had even co-written a screenplay with Ben Kull, with whom he previously collaborated, directing the 2014 animated short Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker. That offering is currently one of two of DeLonge’s directorial credits, with the other being the 2002 music video for “I Feel So” for (Blink-182 side project) Box Car Racer. However, there's no word yet on whether DeLonge will direct on the TV series.
The Strange Times franchise focuses on a group of middle-school-aged skater snoopers in San Diego. While each one deals with uniquely demented home lives, it seems that they’re regularly put in the paths of various supernatural phenomenon. In the case of novel, The Ghost in the Girl, the group – consisting of introverted tortured former overachiever Charlie, slacker skater kids Mouse and Mattheson and the bullied, heavy-set Riley – are thrust into a paranormal investigation after a ghost girl seemingly stalks Charlie, carrying potential connections to his family, notably the officially-redacted fate of his M.I.A. military father. As DeLonge mused back in February 2017 of this close-to-home story:
“I grew up in Southern California as a disaffected young skateboarder who broke the occasional law or five, and I was always dreaming about the world around me, obsessively looking for the more unusual and imaginative experiences that life has to offer. That’s the inspiration behind Strange Times, which is about the tribe of broken youth and the restless spirit that inspired me to form Blink-182 and seek out adventure."
With Netflix streaming serial smash Stranger Things having seemingly awakened a widespread desire for 1980’-style adventures along the lines of The Goonies and The Monster Squad, DeLonge’s Strange Times TV series will likely look to capture the same earnest, irreverent, cynicism-free fun while painting a portrait of youths based on his own So-Cal upbringing. Indeed, with his Strange Times franchise predating the arrival of the Stranger Things phenomenon, it’s somewhat serendipitous that the industry could be headed in the direction of his creation.
The Stranger Things parallels are hardly lost on DeLonge, who, when asked if he wishes to see similar franchise growth for Strange Times, states:
"Absolutely, I don’t like working on one-offs. One reason I created To The Stars was to be able to build dynamic and rich worlds for everyone — whether you’re visual and prefer graphic novels and film or an avid reader who likes to pore over every detail and imagine the world on your own."
We’ll keep you updated on TBS’s Strange Times as news becomes available.
Hillary Monahan discusses using what's wonderful about the Western genre without succumbing to its more problematic patterns.
Imagine that it’s just after the Civil War and, in addition to all the societal changes from that fallout, the Federal Government also has to keep tabs on a potentially dangerous immigrant population: Fairies.
In Gunsmoke and Glamour, Hillary Monahan’s magic and action-filled love letter to all the things good about the Western genre, that’s what the world looks like. The Federal government employs marshals to deal with the weird magic brought about through a population of monsters, fairies, and witches that live in the Wild West (and the South).
Marshal Clayton Jensen was one of these officers—until a bad breakup with his fairy girlfriend, Cora, put him on the wrong end of a blood curse. With a little help from his best friend, Doc Irene Miller, and his ex’s sister, a cheerfully wanton and buxom fairy named Addy, Clay makes his way to the one woman who may be able to lift the curse before he succumbs to it.
Add a pet tiger, a passel of angry witches out for Clay’s blood, and a fairy woman whose fury might rightly be called hellish, and you get a sense of the delightful chaos that springs through this adventure.
Told in chapters that alternate from a present timeline (just after Clay has been cursed) and Clay’s history with Cora, the novel managed to surprise me throughout. Billed by the publisher as “a weird western that punches toxic masculinity in the teeth,” I wasn’t expecting the hero to be the type of alpha male Clay at first appears to be.
I was expecting the vengeful Cora to be a true villain, based on the opening chapters—but, as I learned about their relationship through alternating chapters, I felt myself wondering how things had gone so wrong between the two lovers. And even though Cora was responsible for a blood curse that had Clay languishing, losing his strength and his sight (but never his will), I found myself hoping that somehow, through it all, things would end up right between them. That Monahan took me through that journey, and did it so far outside of my expectations, gave me an even greater enjoyment of the book.
Ultimately, the tale is as much about a love affair gone wrong as it is an adventure story of witches and curses. When Monahan talked with Den of Geek about the idea of the bad breakup—and the hope of reconciliation (however distant that may seem)—she acknowledged that many of her favorite stories are dysfunctional love stories.
"One of my favorite films ever is A Fish Called Wanda," said Monahan, "which is possibly the penultimate dysfunctional love story. I wanted to write something that could be sweet, could be funny, but also touched on what being in relationships can do to a person. Sure, a lot of the circumstances are off the charts, but how many of us, in the heat of the moment, have said or done something devastating to someone we loved that set off events that spiraled out of our control?"
"Cora's temper is not such an unfathomable thing," continued Monahan. "How many of us ran away instead of facing what we've done—like Clay, in Arkansas? And how many of our friends have had to weather the fallout storm because social circles overlap? Those questions shaped a lot of Gunsmoke and Glamour. It is, bare bones, a really messed up, complicated love story that just so happens to have a lot of magic and bawdy humor—things I'm rather fond of."
Right away, Gunsmoke and Glamour's core story defied my expectations for a Western in the best possible way. But the setting, as compared to the tagline, also surprised me. I went into the novel expecting “girl power”—and it is there, in spades, but it’s never the point of the narrative.
At every step of the way, a woman is driving the action: Cora orders a curse put on Clay. One of the famous Lynch sisters, a family of witches, curses Clay. Addy decides to accompany Clay (regardless of his opinion) to New Orleans to see a witch who might be able to cure him. Doc saves Clay’s life time and again, sometimes by taking someone else’s. Because Clay is the primary point of view character, and because his mentor, a retired marshal, is also a man, it took me some time to notice that so many of the named characters in the narrative are women.
What I didn’t expect was for the world to feel so much the same as it feels in many classic Westerns. Despite the population of powerful women, attitudes toward women and ethnic minorities by the general populace feel archaic to a modern reader. Attitudes toward a trans woman like Doc Irene are particularly unaccepting. In some alternate histories, writers change history to be more accepting of women, minorities, and LGBTQ+ people. Monahan left much of history as it was, despite introducing immigrants from Faerie, and she told Den of Geek part of her reasoning...
“People far smarter have tackled alt histories with aplomb (go read Justina Ireland's Dread Nation, for one),” she wrote. “I wanted to incorporate some faerie folklore without changing too much, and so I stymied the fae with red tape. Realistically, if you have an entire magical presence descending upon a still-being-colonized America, they're going to screw things up. Epically.... [But] I wanted to retain a lot of what I loved about westerns, and so I have the fae here, I have them in wait, but they're still under the thumb of the government. Eventually, they'll escape that, I think, but not today.”
Much of the novel revolves around Clay’s transformation from a strong and virile man (who has plenty of stories of the women he’s slept with) to someone who is physically ill, and who needs support just to stay on his own two feet. But, despite the loss of physical strength, he remains a strong voice, and his acceptance of his mortality requires an enormous strength of character.
Taking away the characteristics traditionally viewed as masculine, hallmarks of the Western hero, and show the parts of Clay that had value underneath. While it’s a critique of toxic masculinity, it’s not a critique of maleness.
“I didn't do that because of any anti-male nonsense,” Monahan explained. “I did it because there's more to men than what adventure stories typically tell us. Our portrayals of archetypical heroes often don't explore anything deeper than what makes them look cool, and what ‘makes them look cool’ can be pretty shallow."
"So here we have your handsome, assured cowboy [protagonist] who has to stop worrying about his swagger to face not just death," continued Monahan, "but a slow-creeping death. When you get down to the nitty gritty, being cool just isn't as important as the people you surround yourself with, your memories, your feelings, etc.”
Like her deconstruction of traditionally-masculine ideas of power, Monahan also plays with the ideas of traditionally feminine power—particularly the entanglement of feminine power and sexuality—through the character of Addy. “
I'm a fat girl and I'm a flirt,” Monahan told us, “so [Addy’s] the part of me that happens after about two beers.” While Addy’s wantonness is both a source of humor and a surface level trait, there’s never a doubt that there’s more to her character than just her enjoyment of sex—or her size.
“Fat girls are usually reduced to comedic factor, either delivering the burns with her womanhood incidental a la most of Rebel Wilson's roles or being the butt of the joke like . . . most everything else fat girls are in,” Monahan pointed out.
“I wanted to play with that and make Addy actually funny, but not due to her size," continued Monahan. "I wanted her confident, beautiful, and yes, sexual, because fat girls are often stripped of that in fiction. She was a wishlist of what I'd like to see more of because these are qualities true to me and true to most of the fat girls I know. She's possibly my id gone wild, to be honest.”
It’s also noteworthy that Addy’s glamour magic allows her to change her appearance so thoroughly that even Clay, who can typically see through glamour, is fooled by it—implying that she loves her natural appearance in a beautifully self-accepting way. And there’s no doubt that although she travels with a pet tiger, she’s the more dangerous of the pair.
Monahan also focuses on inclusion through Doc Irene, a trans woman who, while facing disapproval—and sometimes violence—from strangers, is surrounded by allies and acquaintances who offer her acceptance and love.
“I've had trans people in my life since I was thirteen years old and I'm *cough some decades older* now,” Monahan said of the character’s genesis. “They're part of my chosen family and a good portion of my friends circle. Doc Irene was in my book because my friends are in my life. It's that simple. Trans people are in our world, at our jobs, eating at the restaurants we eat at. They're living and loving and doing all the same stuff cis people do, and yet that truth continues to baffle people."
"Clay presented an opportunity to show cis readers exactly how easy it is to just ... accept people for who they are?" continued Monahan. "If the penultimate cis macho man caricature can have an honest, loving friendship with a trans woman—who saves him just as much as he saves her, if not more—we can all be so open and respectful.”
In her introduction to the novel, Monahan explains her long love of the Western genre, and her growing frustration with the problematic treatment of women and ethnic minorities that sometimes seem inherent in the genre. But rather than give up on a genre she loved, Monahan used the tropes and structure to create something new.
“All art is problematic to someone somewhere,” she said of her philosophy. “No one book encapsulates everyone's truth. It can't. As much as someone might see themselves represented in a piece of work, someone else won't, and erasure can be as harmful as bad representation. Critique exists to explore these gaps—it's necessary to refining literature."
"So, enjoy problematic stuff, just make sure when the criticisms come in, you're listening," continued Monahan. "You don’t have to agree, but you should listen and respect where people are coming from and what worldly experience shapes that view, particularly if it's not your own.”
In Monahan’s case, it does mean that she has stopped reading Westerns published before 2000.
“So much of the early genre is saturated by toxic masculinity and the presentation of Indigenous people as complicit in their own genocide,” she explained. “Thanks but no thanks.”
Instead, she’s turned to authors like Elizabeth Bear, Lila Bowen, and Lindsay Ely, “who recognize what's great about westerns—the exploration, the adventure, the danger and fight for survival!—without all the other trappings.”
For readers like Monahan—and like this reviewer—we’ll be adding Monahan’s name to that list.
Alana Joli Abbott writes about books for Den of Geek. Read more of her work here.
Meet Miles Morales, the new Spider-Man of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
Miles Morales has been delighting comic book Spider-Man fans for years now, and with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse hitting theaters this week, we thought it would be a good time to go over what makes him such a joyful character.
Miles Morales is the character who best embodies the spirit of Marvel's Ultimate Universe. Back in 2000, Marvel was struggling. It had just cleared bankruptcy and the market had collapsed. To boost sales, Marvel created an alternate Earth with a new premise: what if the Marvel Universe had been created in the year 2000, instead of 1963?
And while it was a critical and sales blockbuster, reinvigorating the company and paving the way for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, from a creative standpoint, it wasn’t all that successful. For all the hype about new! and different!, Marvel's Ultimate Universe was, for a long time, mostly just Peter Parker doing Spider-Man stuff; the X-Men doing X-Men stuff; and Captain America being a giant dildo.
It wasn’t until over a decade later in 2011 that the Ultimate Universe really lived up to its promise. Brian Michael Bendis, the man who had been writing Ultimate Spider-Man, up and killed Spidey, giving him a beautiful send off in the “Death of Peter Parker.” At the same time, a young teenager in Brooklyn was exposed to a spider genetically engineered by Oscorp to recreate Spider-Man. Miles Morales had many similar traits to Peter - he’s razor sharp, and has a strong sense of duty. But he was always a distinct character, right down to how he interacted with Peter and his legacy. Miles’ first appearance was in Peter’s costume. He was criticized pretty heavily for the poor taste he displayed wearing the iconic red-and-blue Spidey suit so soon after his death, and is eventually given the new black and red outfit by Jessica Drew and SHIELD.
His new costume wasn’t the only major difference. Miles’ parents were both still alive, and his uncle was the supervillain Prowler, and he immediately confided his new powers and identity in his best friend, Ganke (who more or less became Peter's best friend Ned Leeds in Spider-Man: Homecoming). He’s also mainstreamed into the larger superhero community much faster than Peter ever was, which was a blessing and a curse. Captain America’s training certainly seemed to help him for a minute, but old Peter villains kept surfacing and after Venom killed his mother, he walked away from superheroing for a year. Then things got weird.
By this point, Miles was about the only popular character left in the Ultimate Universe. So Marvel methodically moved to shutter that Earth, but when they did so, they made sure to migrate Miles to the main 616 Marvel Universe. In the utterly incredible Secret Wars crossover, Miles’ kindness and teenagerness won him the favor of Molecule Man, so when Molecule Man’s energy was used to recreate the multiverse with a merged Ultimate and mainstream Marvel Universes, Miles arrived to find his mother returned to life.
Miles was accepted into the mainstream Marvel continuity by his fellow heroes immediately, quickly becoming a member of the new team of Avengers right away. After Civil War II he leaves that team and helps form a new Champions made up of various teenage heroes.
Miles Morales Spider-Man Comics Reading Order
Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man Vol. 1 - Who Is Miles Morales?
Miles made his first appearance in Ultimate Fallout, but that's not really essential reading. Fortunately, the first arc of Ultimate Comics: Spider-Manflashed back to how he acquired his powers. This is Miles Morales 101, and you should just keep going with the series if you like the first volume.
This is Miles’ first foray into team comics, and it’s surprisingly good. Written by COPRA’s Michel Fiffe, it’s a fun, ground level team that gets interrupted by Galactus and the death of the Ultimate U. That said, the second collection has art from Prophet's Giannis Milonogiannis, so it's so pretty to look at.
Spider-Men and Spider-Men 2
Not to be confused with Spiders-Man (who is obviously a man made of multiple spiders), this duology explores Miles and Peter’s relationship. The original Spider-Men is one of the best Spidey comics ever written - it has Peter chasing Mysterio (soon to be seen on the big screen in Spider-Man: Far From Home) into an unknown portal and ending up in the Ultimate Universe. We get to see how Peter’s family reacts to seeing what he might have become (including an absolutely heartbreaking scene with Mary Jane), and we see Peter pass the torch to Miles. It ends with Peter looking up 616 Miles, which serves as the launching point for the sequel. The sequel does as much for Miles’ character development as the first did for Peter, and both are great reads.
While the original comic book Spider-Verse tale isn't really a Miles story, it's definitely a spiritual inspiration for the movie. The assorted Spider-people of the multiverse are being hunted, and they all have a big team up and it’s awesome. This is as much a Dr. Octopus story as anything else, but Miles plays a good role in it.
I haven’t talked about this in a while but did you know that Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers and Secret Wars were so good? It’s also where Miles joins the mainstream universe.
One of Miles’ best friends upon joining regular continuity is Kamala Khan, and they get so many great moments in each of these books.
Miles Morales: Spider-Man
The first issue of Miles’ post-Bendis life hits just as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse enters theaters, and if the creative team’s track record is anything to go by, it should be excellent. Saladin Ahmed wrote one of the best comics of the year in Black Bolt and Javier Garron is in line to be a quintessential Spider-Man artist. We have some more info on it right here.
It’s not a comic, but the Playstation game from 2018 managed to justify Miles’ existence alongside Peter in a totally different, but nearly perfect way. He’s a great character in an incredible game.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse opens December 15th!
Elseworlds revealed that the Arrowverse will take on Crisis on Infinite Earths. This has far-reaching implications for the DC TV Universe.
This article contains Elseworlds spoilers.
The concept of the Multiverse has been central to DC Comics for well over fifty years. At the center of that multiverse there has always been the Flash, and Warner Bros. wasted no time introducing the seeds of the Multiverse and Crisis on Infinite Earths influenced concepts in the first episode of The Flash TV series back in 2014. This was no accident, and as we learned from the conclusion of the 2018 Arrowverse crossover, Elseworlds, it was only the beginning.
The first appearance of Barry Allen in Showcase#4 (1956) is rightly credited for kickstarting the Silver Age of comics and rescuing superheroes from demise. It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Unless you were Superman, Batman, or Wonder Woman, your prospects as a superhero in the publishing landscape of the early ‘50s were pretty grim, as readers had moved on to horror and romance titles. Adventurers like the original Flash and Green Lantern had long since faded into obscurity. But this revived Flash was the first blast of a superhero revival that soon led to space age versions of other masked adventurers like Green Lantern and the Atom. All boasted sleek, capeless costumes, science-based powers and scientifically minded alter egos.
But practically coded into the character’s DNA from the outset was an almost metafictional take on the concept of comic book reality itself. Continuity wasn’t much of a concern at this stage of the game, and there’s no mention of Superman or Batman in Showcase#4. For all intents and purposes, Barry Allen may as well be the world’s first superhero. Why choose the name “the Flash?” Because it was the name of Barry’s favorite comic book character, who just so happened to be Jay Garrick, the Mercury-helmeted Flash who first appeared in Flash Comics #1 in 1939.
A simple enough explanation, but one that would be complicated somewhat with “The Flash of Two Worlds” story in 1961's Flash#123. With this, we have the first appearance of DC’s Multiverse in all but name, a kind of metafictional string theory, where alternate realities are separated by vibrations keeping dimensions apart. Of course, it’s easy for a guy who can vibrate his molecules to transfer between dimensions, and it’s fitting that Barry would learn that the comics that inspired him to take up superheroics were actually a window into another reality.
Earth-2 was shown to be the home of all of the golden age versions of characters (notably the Justice Society of America) who had been revamped (there was no such word as reboot in 1961). From there, they just ran with the concept. Earth-3 was the home of evil versions of DC heroes, where Alexander Luthor is the only superhero. Earth-S is where they put the Shazam family of characters, having kept them in limbo after acquiring them from rival publisher Fawcett after a lawsuit. Earth-X (recently made famous by an Arrowverse TV crossover of its own) is where the Freedom Fighters fought a World War II that never ended. You get the idea, and if you've been keeping up with The Flash, Supergirl, and related shows, none of this is news.
Eventually this multiple reality approach to storytelling proved unwieldy, and DC Comics decided it would be wiser to eliminate all of these parallel worlds in favor of a linear continuity more in keeping with what their main competition was putting out. The concept of parallel earths would be taken to its logical, and infinite, conclusion.
Crisis on Infinite Earths was a comic book event designed to simplify DC's continuity. This was done at the cost of Barry Allen’s life, which brings us to the newspaper from the future that has haunted The Flash since its very first episode. The "red skies" mentioned in that futuristic headline are a hallmark of DC's Crisis events (as we've seen over and over again, but especially on Elseworlds), and Barry Allen did indeed vanish as he disabled the villainous Anti-Monitor's anti-matter cannon (don't ask...it's too much to get into right now). It was a fitting (and shocking) ending for one of DC's marquee heroes. In 1985, you simply didn't kill a character with that kind of profile.
But Crisis on Infinite Earths didn't just off Barry Allen, it killed Kara Danvers, too. Supergirl had just headlined her own movie, but DC wanted to scale back Superman's Kryptonian supporting cast, and further prove they meant business, so Kara also fell in battle with the Anti-Monitor. Again, while fans have long become numb to the idea of heroes being killed and resurrected in comics, I have to stress that this wasn't a thing you did in 1985, let alone with characters who actually headlined their own books.
It took about 20 years, but DC eventually decided they were better off with a Multiverse and the infinite storytelling possibilities that it offered, and they brought it back, albeit relatively in the background compared to what it had once been. In recent years, thanks to ambitious stories like Grant Morrison's Multiversity, they've utilized it to greater effect, clearly no longer seeing it as a symptom of decades of convoluted storytelling, but rather as what it is: the very thing which helps set them apart from their chief competition at Marvel. The fact that Warner Bros. is now willing to put Crisis on Infinite Earths, long considered to be an impenetrable piece of superhero storytelling that only those steeped in decades of DC Comics lore could ever comprehend as the centerpiece of multiple TV shows says a lot about how far we've come in the last few years.
Then again, DC and friends have been not-so-quietly sowing the seeds for their multimedia Multiverse for some time. Infinite Crisis, a video game named after another one of DC’s continuity-altering mega events, was the first serious attempt to place the concept of potentially infinite variations on beloved superheroes in the public eye outside of comic books. It was no accident that in 2014 DC Comics released a literal map of the Multiverse to promote Grant Morrison’s Multiversity, a series that previously would have been considered impenetrable to anyone but DC Comics scholars. That was the first indicator that DC considered stories that took place away from the printed page were part of their official continuity, by designating spots on the Multiverse map for animated series like Young Justice and Justice League Unlimited.
The Flash TV series dove headfirst into the DC Multiverse when it introduced its own Earth-2 (and original Flash, Jay Garrick) during its second season. And now, of course, the Arrowverse is well into exploring a Multiverse all its own. There are a couple of ways that you can look at the DC live action Multiverse at the moment. There's the "canon" Arrowverse Multiverse, in which it is understood that Supergirl exists on a different Earth (Earth-38) from The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow (which, if the TV Crisis on Infinite Earths fixes nothing else, it should be this), and then there's the "implied" Multiverse, where we know that Gotham, Black Lightning, and Krypton, all produced by Warner Bros. TV, do not exist in the same reality as those other three superhero shows, but have never been explicitly addressed or had Earths formally designated to them. And so far, all of this has only accounted for modern DC TV shows.
But that all changed with Elseworlds. The appearance of John Wesley Shipp, not as Jay Garrick, but as the original TV Barry Allen, rocking the classic costume he wore during that CBS TV show's brief run from 1990-1991 was a real statement of intent. If this Flash's Earth-90 can exist, then surely there is an Earth-52 where George Reeves'Adventures of Superman took place, Earth-66, where Adam West's Batman took on bizarre foes, or an Earth-76, where Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman had adventures. And there certainly must be an Earth designated for the Smallville continuity, what was (until recently) the most expansive exploration of a version of the DC Universe in live action ever attempted. This doesn't mean that the TV version of Crisis on Infinite Earths is going to heavily feature characters from every single DC show on the air (while the core Arrowverse shows film in Vancouver, Black Lightning is in Atlanta, and Krypton is in Belfast...these production schedules are tricky enough). But it wouldn't take much for a character to be observed through a dimensional window or monitor screen (and something tells me Smallville characters will make an appearance).
But what about the DCEU? Well, I can safely say that there is exactly zero chance that anything that happens on TV will have any effect on what happens in any upcoming DC movies, and they'll certainly never go out of their way to acknowledge the TV Multiverse, even in passing. Conversely, it's unclear if WBTV could even use footage from those movies to "unite the Multiverse" via monitor screen or whatever if they wanted to. But they don't need to. For DC fans, the implication is quite clear. There are infinite worlds in the DC multimedia multiverse, and thus fans know that there's an Earth-78 where the Christopher Reeve Superman movies took place, and an Earth-89 where Tim Burton's Batman movies exist. We’ll never get to see those crossovers actually happen, mind you, but real fans will know the truth, and we can take some satisfaction in that knowledge.
* A version of this article ran in 2014. It has been updated with new information. *
Dark Horse's Stranger Things adaptation with Will in the Upside Down comes to close in January, and we've got an exclusive look inside.
When Dark Horse brought Jody Houser on board to write its first run of a planned series of Stranger Things comic adaptations, the prospect of seeing the story of Will Byers in the Upside Down from the young boy's perspective was both haunting and thrilling. On January 2, 2019, the four-issue miniseries comes to an end, and leading up to the exclusive pages shown below, we've enjoyed following some of the more enigmatic parts of Will's journey and how the connection to his friends and family helped him survive.
"You can still see that friendship that’s really at the heart of Stranger Things when Will’s by himself and not with his friends,"Houser told Den of Geek at New York Comic Con. "So just the fact that he has been on adventures before, and the idea of the party is such a strong core of the show, but he’s not with his party right now. Some of the lessons he learned while playing with his friends and being Will the Wise, being a part of that party, that’s something that he carries into the Upside Down, and it does help him survive."
As is evident in the exclusive preview pages below (along with excellent cover art by Aleksi Briclot), the effort is taking its toll on Will as we know it did in Stranger Things season one. As the official synopsis reads, "Will the Wise is all out of tricks, hunkered down in a makeshift fort and beginning to hallucinate from starvation, dehydration and the terrors of the Upside Down. Find out what happens when the Demogorgon finally catches its prey. No one escapes a Demogorgon unscathed..."
The conclusion of Will's story is, of course, already known to those who have watched Stranger Things on Netflix, but seeing his ordeal from his own perspective (with wonderful art from Stefano Martino, ink from Keith Champagne, and color from Lauren Affe) has been a suspenseful journey nonetheless. Until the conclusion of Jody Houser's expertly-written tale arrives on January 2, 2019, please enjoy the following variant covers as well. The first is from Jen Bartel, and the second is by Ethan Young. The vintage paperback photo cover is courtesy of Patrick Satterfield.
Scott Snyder and Jock unravel the first issue of The Batman Who Laughs, their darkest Batman story yet...
This Batman article contains spoilers.
The Batman Who Laughs #1 not only marks the return of one of the most twisted versions of the Dark Knight to ever appear in the comics but also Scott Snyder and Jock's Gotham homecoming. The duo first collaborated on Detective Comics back in 2011 (Snyder's first gig on a Batbook) for an arc called "The Black Mirror," which remains one of the darkest Batman stories ever told, a tale more akin to a horror slasher than a traditional adventure. With their new six-issue miniseries, which begins with a dead Bruce Wayne and ends in a shocking, terrifying cliffhanger, Snyder and Jock mean to top themselves.
"I was like, [if] I'm going to go back to Gotham, and I'm going to do it with Jock, and we're going to go back to our roots and make a spiritual successor to 'Black Mirror,' then I want it to be the most probing, introspective, nightmarish analysis that I can do and a real challenge," Snyder says in a phone interview. Also on the line is Jock, the artist who has also worked with the writer on Wytches, a beautifully drawn horror comic for Image.
This duo seems bred for horror and that's definitely on display in the violent and gory first issue of The Batman Who Laughs. In one scene, another nightmare version of Batman, one equipped with assault rifles, knives, lasers, bombs, and all sorts of other lethal weapons, breaks into Arkham Asylum, shooting and cutting his way through the guards to get to the Joker's cell. This Batman is called the Grim Knight.
"If Bruce Wayne as a kid had picked up the gun and shot Joe Chill and gone down that route, then that's where the Grim Knight is," Jock explains.
In terms of design, the Grim Knight looks like your worst '80s action movie nightmare, an unrealistic number of weapons strapped to his back, sharp gauntlets that can slice Arkham guards in half, and even what looks like a rocket launcher. Where he finds room for a cape is beyond me.
"When I started putting the guns on his back, and kind of like sticking out the sides, sticking them up on his shoulders, it just looked really good," Jock says of the Grim Knight's design. "And I knew immediately that the character could kind of carry that slightly over the top, bombastic element."
This isn't the first time Batman has brandished a gun, of course. In fact, in his earliest Golden Age adventures, Batman often used guns and other forms of lethal force to dispose of criminals. Still, for the uninitiated, a panel in which Batman is aiming an assault rifle at a group of guards will undoubtedly prove shocking. For Jock, drawing these panels wasn't daunting but another way to explore the darkest possible version of the character while also including big action.
"Like on the one hand, it's actually a lot of fun to draw that stuff, but actually there's also what he represents, and then the kind of horror behind it is one of the anchors of the story."
As Snyder explained in our last interview, the Grim Knight is not a villain to be taken lightly nor to be celebrated.
"There's nothing redeeming about a Batman who uses endless lethal force," Snyder says." So it frees us to be able to use him because he's a villain. The same way when we use Joker, it's not a celebration of [Joker], even if he's a lot of fun at times to watch or write. He's always posited as the villain for what he does, and similarly here. This version of Bruce Wayne has gone down a very, very dark path."
The return of the Batman Who Laughs, the introduction of the Grim Knight, the dead Bruce Wayne from another universe (more details here), and everything else Snyder and Jock have in store are all part of the Batman epic the writer has been working on since 2011. According to Snyder, there's a plan in place to bring back elements of last year's Dark Nights: Metal event, which saw Batman and the Justice League face off against a hellish cosmic plane known as the Dark Multiverse. The writer has been coordinating with the rest of the DC writing group, which includes, most notably, Batman writer Tom King, to tell this story.
Snyder says, "I mean, I know [King's] whole plan through issue 100, and he knows my whole plan, not only with this but our uber story that we're telling from Metal to the end of 2019 into 2020, which culminates with a lot of that stuff from Metal coming back, and a lot of the stuff that we're building here on these books, from the Justice League books to Batman Who Laughs, to some unannounced stuff, culminating in something really special."
As far as what's been officially announced, Snyder has at least one more Bat-tale to tell, Last Knight on Earth, a three-part DC Black Label book he's working on with frequent collaborator Greg Capullo. Not much is known about the book except that it's a post-apocalyptic take on the character that takes place 25 years into the future. Oh, and Batman has the Joker's talking head chained to his belt and they love to chat.
While Snyder wouldn't go as far as to say that Last Knight is his final Batman story (he's still writing Justice League, after all), it will close out his New 52 Batman run with Capullo.
"Greg and I have a lot we want to do together both in superhero comics, but also really create our own stuff, too. So, going back for a giant 150, 170-page book about Batman at this point, you know, we wanted to have an end cap."
All that said, Snyder doesn't have any other Batman stories planned beyond Last Knight. His recent work on Justice League and Dark Nights: Metalhas instead whet his appetite for other characters in DC's pantheon of heroes.
"I have no Batman stories on my docket post that. I have Batman in the books that I'm writing, such as Justice League and other projects post that, but I didn't mean to say like, 'Oh. I'm never coming back to Batman ever.' But I might not. I don't know. I have a lot of other characters I really want to use and Justice League has sparked a ton of interest for me in other characters, as well."
But don't worry, there's still plenty of Batman to write for Snyder, who has quite a bit in store for the Dark Knight in upcoming issues of The Batman Who Laughs, including the return of a few characters from Snyder and Jock's past run. Let's just say that those fans hoping for some sort of connection to "The Black Mirror" will be pleased.
"You're going to see the Iceberg Lounge, and Penguin, and Joker, and James Jr. from 'Black Mirror'...A bunch of other characters that I don't want to spoil," Snyder says.
I mentioned the idea of "homecoming" earlier and Snyder agrees. With The Batman Who Laughs, Snyder and Jock get to look into their own black mirror and revisit themes and narrative yarns from their Detective Comics days.
"I want it to feel like a blockbuster so that we get to do the biggest action, biggest set pieces, all of that while still telling a story that speaks to the kinds of priorities we had on 'Black Mirror' that are character driven, dark, intimate," Snyder says. "I think [The Batman Who Laughs] is a way of kind of returning to material that I worked on when I was brand new and green, and doing it now in a way that I think speaks to the same heart and the same kind of core values that we had on 'Black Mirror,' but I have more muscles now or different muscles that I'm able to flex that I didn't have back then."
The Batman Who Laughs #1 is out now. Issue #2 is out on Jan. 16.
John Saavedra is an associate editor at Den of Geek. Read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @johnsjr9.
Everything you need to know about the Spider-Men, Spider-Women and, er, Spider-Pigs of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
This article contains Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse spoilers.
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse brings together versions of Spider-Man from across many different realities in a team-up unlike any other seen on screen. However, these characters are more than just twisted versions of Spider-Man invented for the screen – they each have their own history in the comics just like every other Marvel superhero. Here’s everything you need to know about the team of heroes at the heart of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
Spider-Man (Peter Parker)
First appearance: Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962)
Creators: Stan Lee & Steve Ditko
For the purposes of this article, we’re calling this one “prime Spider-Man” – by which we mean the original from the main Marvel Universe of the comics. You probably know the drill, but let’s do it for completeness’ sake: When Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider, he gained the proportionate strength, speed and agility of a spider, as well as the ability to stick to walls and a special “spider-sense” which warns him of danger. Armed with his self-designed webshooters, Peter Parker became a superhero after a crook he could have stopped murdered his Uncle Ben. He’s also a newspaper photographer, scientist, Avenger, dutiful nephew to his Aunt May, and a not-so-dutiful boyfriend to several women. We could go on. But this is the version of Spider-Man from which all others derive.
Of course, in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse we don’t actually see this version, though we DO see two other Peter Parkers. The first is the one who inhabits Miles Morales’ universe – a celebrated version of Spider-Man who dies at the height of his popularity (and has blonde hair). The second is an older, more slobby and jaded version of Peter who rediscovers his inner hero when he comes to Miles’ universe and mentors him. They’re both fairly similar to the Peter we know and love – or at least, closer than the rest of them…
Spider-Man (Miles Morales)
First Appearance: Ultimate Fallout #4 (August 2011)
Creators: Brian Michael Bendis & Sara Pichelli
As in the Spider-Verse movie, the comics version of Miles Morales comes from a world where Spider-Man died, which inspired him to take over the mantle. Unlike the movie, comics Miles didn’t have a Spider-Man to mentor him, though he did find himself in conflict with his uncle Aaron Davis, aka The Prowler, leading to his death.
Miles got his powers the same way the Peter of his world did: from a genetically-engineered spider created through Oscorp’s experiments. Unlike this version of Peter, he hid his powers for several months until the death of Spider-Man gave him a reason to step up and be a hero. Miles has the same basic powers as Peter, although he also has the ability to camouflage himself and to inflict a bioelectric “venom strike” on people.
The prime Peter Parker and Miles eventually met when Mysterio found a gateway between their two universes and took his crime-spree multi-dimensional. Since then, Miles’ reality has ceased to exist but he (and his supporting cast) were permanently relocated to the “real” Marvel Universe by the Molecule Man during the crossover event, Secret Wars. Miles and Peter now exist side-by-side as Spider-Men in the same universe. If any of that sounds simple to you, rest assured it’s only due to some extreme glossing-over of the specifics...
Spider-Gwen (Gwen Stacy)
First Appearance: Edge Of Spider-Verse #2 (September 2014)
Creators: Jason Latour & Robbie Rodriguez
Known informally as Spider-Gwen, Spider-Woman is Gwen Stacy from a universe where she, not Peter Parker, was bitten by a radioactive spider. On her world, the powerless Peter became a version of the Lizard but died in battle with her, leading the authorities – including her own father George Stacy – to consider her a dangerous criminal. She’s a member of Mary Jane’s band, the Mary Janes, and she has what is quite plainly one of the coolest Spider-costumes around bar the original.
Gwen’s super-powers are identical to the prime Spider-Man’s, but through her adventures she has mastered interdimensional travel, leading her to form a relationship with Miles Morales. She first met prime Peter Parker in the comics version of the Spider-Verse crossover and proved instrumental in both gathering the various Spider-Women and defeating Peter’s enemies.
Gwen currently stars in her own ongoing series, Gwen Stacy: Ghost Spider, reflecting her latest code-name.
Spider-Man Noir (Peter Parker)
First Appearance: Spider-Man Noir #1 (February 2009)
Creators: David Hine, Fabrice Sapolsky, Carmine De Giandomenico
The inhabitant of a “noir” Marvel universe, Spider-Man Noir – who in his world is just called Spider-Man – is Peter Parker from a universe where Marvel’s heroes emerged in 1933 (during the Great Depression) rather than the present day. Bitten by a spider that stowed away in an illegal shipment of ancient spider-statues, he has the same abilities as the prime Spider-Man as well as the ability to shoot webs out of his own wrists.
Notably, he is a skilled marksman unafraid of using guns to injure and even kill his enemies. He wages a one-man war on crime following the deaths of both his uncle Ben and mentor, Ben Urich, at the hands of the crime lord Norman Osborn.
Like Spider-Gwen, he was recruited onto a team of Spider-Men during the Spider-Verse crossover, but was returned to his home reality to recuperate when he was seriously wounded. He was recently attacked and killed by the Inheritors during the Spider-Geddon storyline – but it’s still ongoing, so that may yet change!
Spider-Ham (Peter Porker)
First Appearance: Marvel Tails Starring Peter Porker, The Spectacular Spider-Ham #1 (November 1983)
Creators: Tom DeFalco, Mark Armstrong
Peter Porker is a Spider-Man unlike no other, in that he actually started life as a spider (simply named Peter) living in a world of anthropomorphic animals. He lived in the laboratory of May Porker, a porcine scientist who accidentally irradiated herself in an experiment gone wrong and then bit Peter the Spider. He became an anthropomorphic pig himself, but retained his spider-abilities. Following the transformation, while May – in her confused post-accident condition – came to believe she was his aunt.
The rest of Spider-Ham’s dimension is populated by parodies of other Marvel characters, including the likes of Ducktor Doom, Captain Americat, and the Simian Torch. Spider-Ham was also recruited to aid prime Peter Parker during the Spider-Verse storyline.
Spider-Man 2099 (Miguel O’Hara)
First Appearance: Spider-Man 2099 #1 (March 1992)
Creators: Peter David, Rick Leonardi
He’s only in the film for a brief cameo appearance (which we won’t spoil), but Miguel O’Hara is arguably the most established of these alternate versions, having had a long-running ongoing series throughout much of the 1990s, as well as a second more recently.
Miguel comes from the Marvel Universe of 2099, where corporations run the world. While working for Alchemax he developed a technique to rewrite the human genome and attempted to escape the company without giving it to his amoral employers. When he tried to use the procedure on himself, a jealous colleague switched his DNA with a spider’s and Spider-Man 2099 was born.
He has a holographic aide called Lyla (who appears briefly in the Spider-Verse movie) and powers similar to Spider-Man, with extra abilities such as talons on his fingers and toes, web-shooting abilities, fangs that deliver venom and enhanced/telescopic vision. His costume is a modified version of an outfit he wore for a Day of the Dead festival. The prime Peter Parker and Miguel O’Hara first met in Spider-Man 2099 Meets Spider-Man #1, published in November 1995.
Of course, there are many more versions of Spider-Man out there, and with a Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse sequel and spin-off in the works, we wouldn’t be surprised to see them soon…
Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham arrives in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Here's a look at the character's bizarre history.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Versestars not only beloved web-slinger Peter Parker, but various alternate-universe versions of the Spider-Man concept. Obviously, the protagonist is Miles Morales – originally Parker’s successor in the Ultimate Universe – but he’s joined by other wall-crawlers. All of them are widely different, such as a hard-boiled crime-fighter from the 1930s, a superhero alternative to Parker’s doomed girlfriend, a schoolgirl with an arachnid-based robot, and a cartoon pig.
Of Spider-Man’s heroic knockoffs, almost all of them come from the last decade. Spider-Man Noir first showed up in 2009, Miles in 2011, and both Spider-Gwen and Peni Parker in 2014. Spider-Ham, on the other hand, has been around for 35 years! Holy crap, has it really been that long?
The building blocks of the concept started out five years before that in the pages of What If? #8 (What If the World Knew that Daredevil was Blind?). In a backup story written and drawn by Scott Shaw, he showed a world where Webster Weaver is a mild-mannered spider nerd who is accidentally bitten by a radioactive human. He becomes the ‘Mazing Man-Spider and introduces a whole world of animal-based characters like Octo Doctorpuss, the Kingpig, and the Green Gobbler.
This world of anthromorphic animals never existed outside of that one backup story (though J. Jonah Jameson being a literal jackass would happen again in Earth X). Shaw would later get his chance to shine a few years later when he co-created Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew for DC Comics in 1982. I don’t know if Spider-Ham and his universe was created in response to Captain Carrot or because for some reason animal pun superheroes was the pinnacle of comedy back in the early 80s, but in 1983, Tom Defalco and Mark Armstrong put together a one-shot called Marvel Tails Starring Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham.
The story is a team-up between the titular pig-based Spider-Man and his best friend and partner Captain Americat. The two work together both as vigilantes and as newspaper employees with Peter Porker as the photographer and Steve Mouser as the reporter. Together, they get roped into solving a mystery of an arcade getting vandalized, which itself is like a Scooby-Doo plot.
Also, there’s this weird moment where they pass by people picketing the arcade.
Kind of timeless for something released in 1983, but since it’s supposed to be taking the piss out of people angry about video games, it hits me as off that, “NO RACIST GAMES” is something we’re supposed to disagree with. Maybe Defalco knew how solid Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out was going to be years in advance.
Another character introduced in this story is Bruce Bunny, a tech wiz who accidentally gets shoved into an arcade cabinet and is zapped into turning into a big, green rage monster called Hulk-Bunny. Listen, they can’t all be gems. A deadline is a deadline.
This “Larval Comics” world would get a reprisal in 1985 with a full-on Peter Porker, Spider-Ham ongoing series under the kid-friendly Star Comics banner. For the most part, the issues would be split up into two parts. Steve Skeates and Mark Armstrong (usually) would do a story about Spider-Ham, a lot of the time involving the greedy J. Jonah Jackal and a trio of newsboy sidekicks. Then Steve Mellor would do a backup story about a different animal hero like Thrr the Dog of Thunder, Awful Flight, the Fantastic Fur, Ant-Ant and so on. All with his very Seuss-like art style.
It was a silly and cartoony series, but didn’t have too much going for it other than the creators trying to come up with as many pun designs as possible. At times, they would just show a line-up of characters who may or may not get used down the line just for the sake of writing out the gags.
There’s even a panel that’s just Mary Jane Water Buffalo grooving out in front of a poster of a bird wearing a giant suit. Within that panel, she mentions that David Bird is the lead singer of the Squawking Heads and their big album is Stop Making Nests.
In the fifteenth issue, they finally revealed Peter Porker’s origin and it’s a little familiar. Peter was originally a cartoony spider living in the corner Aunt May’s basement. At the time, May was a scientist and accidentally turned herself into an irradiated and mindless menace. She grabbed the spider and bit it, evolving the spider into a full-on anthromorphic pig. Aunt May lost her marbles a bit and started insisting that this mutated spider was her nephew Peter and, ergo, Spider-Ham.
Welp. I mean, that’s at least a slightly better origin than Bouncing Boy.
The series ended after seventeen issues. The final issue included a backup story about the Secret Furs, starring the Beeyonder.
Spider-Ham’s adventures continued as backups in Marvel Tales, which is the Marvel equivalent of getting your timeslot moved to 3am. Regardless, he made about twice as many appearances there as his ongoing, albeit less frequent as time went on.
Spider-Ham not only made sporadic appearances in What The--?! (Marvel’s late-80s/early-90s version of Mad Magazine), but the comic itself was sporadic on its own. Only 26 issues over the course of five years on that one. During this time, Spider-Ham starred in parodies of Kraven’s Last Huntand Spider-Man 2099.
The most notable appearance during this time was 20th issue, which was a big, one-issue crossover event of Marvel’s joke heroes in a story called "Infinity Wart." Spider-Ham teamed up with long-running Marvel lame-o Forbush Man and lesser-known heroes Milk and Cookies (a parody of Cloak and Dagger and superhero duos in general) and Wolverina. Wolverina’s deal was that she was a female version of Wolverine because, haha, wouldn’t such a thing be ridiculous?!
Since the story was supposed to be a send-off of the Infinity War comic, that meant that the heroes had to fight evil doppelgangers. Rather than fight a version of the six-armed Spider Doppelganger, Spider-Ham instead took on Pork Grind, a wonderfully-named take on Venom who talked in an Austrian accent because it was the early 90s and that’s how we did things back then.
After the cancellation of What The--?!, Spider-Ham stopped showing up with any regularity. Over time, he became more of a nostalgic footnote. It was one of those things where people would just remember that for a stretch of ten years, there was a pig version of Spider-Man who occasionally showed up in comics. I recall Brian Michael Bendis joking about how he’d always want to bring him back, but realized that there’s not much you could really do with the character.
And honestly, for the most part, he was right. When they tried doing stuff with him, even after so many years later, it always fell flat. In 2007, there was a one-shot called Ultimate Civil War: Spider-Ham that was just a big mess about Spider-Ham trying to figure out what ever happened to thought bubbles while giving nods to Civil War and Marvel Zombies. Then they had a bunch of pin-up pages of pig versions of different heroes.
The one saving grace was that this comic’s animal parody of the Hulk was called Green Ham and Eggs, which is at least better than Hulk-Bunny.
Around the release of Spider-Man 3, Marvel started a short-lived series called Amazing Spider-Man Family, which was made up of short stories revolving around everything spider-related, including the alternate future adventures of Spider-Girl. Tom Defalco – creator of Spider-Girl and Spider-Ham – merged the two together and introduced Swiney-Girl for a couple issues. Gone was the cutesy 1980s art and replacing it was Shawn Moll inspiring us to kill it with fire.
GAH! At least it’s better when the masks are on.
Oh, and Mary Jane Water Buffalo was rewritten as Mary Crane Watson. I blame Moophisto.
A 25-year anniversary issue of Spider-Hamwas released in 2010 and while it had its moments, it was nothing earth-shattering. Yet the same year would give us a single gag that would finally figure out a way to make Spider-Ham work as a concept.
2010 gave us the video game Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. In it, Spider-Man, Ultimate Spider-Man, Spider-Man Noir, and Spider-Man 2099 are drawn together to fight side-by-side. Crazy concept, right? In the post-credits scene, Madam Web – the one who brought them all together to save the multiverse – is surprised when Spider-Ham shows up in front of her, late for the party. She gives a surprised, “What the--?!” and Spider-Ham simply tells us, “’Nuff said, folks.”
And that’s it! That’s the gold of Spider-Ham! It isn’t about seeing him fight villains with silly names and act as a parody of a superhero already known for being comedic. It’s about the fact that he exists and the contrast of seeing him interact with normal comic book characters.
This spark gave us Spider-Verse, the big comic event that brought together Spider-Men from all throughout the multiverse while introducing us to Spider-Gwen and Peni Parker. Spider-Ham, naturally, got to show up, even if he was considerably less ridiculous than the likes of Original Animated Spider-Man and Newspaper Comic Strip Spider-Man.
Spider-Verse was enough of a success that they even did a loose adaptation on the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series, which itself included Spider-Ham. Yeah, Spider-Verse is only a few years old and there’s already two animated takes on it. Wild.
Speaking of cross-dimensional Miles Morales stories, shortly before the fall of the Ultimate Universe, Ultimate FFby Joshua Hale Fialkov and Andre Araujo introduced the bizarre concept of Ultimate Larval. Ultimate Sue Storm and her teammates got to meet a refugee from the destroyed, more-modern-and-edgier superhero world.
“Miles Morhames.” I don’t know, I think that needed more workshopping.
Born out of the more recent Secret Wars, Peter Porker joined a new team of spider-folk from different realities called the Web Warriors. The Mike Costa series only lasted eleven issues, but sweet Jesus was it a fun eleven issues. In it, Spider-Ham mostly played the role of the team’s oddball comic relief. He got the mid-00s Plastic Man treatment where it was apparent that jokey hero or not, Spider-Ham is still an unkillable being who will wreck your shit if you give him the reason to.
Also, there was a thing where Spider-Ham 2099 and Spider-Gwen fight the Marvel Megamorphs version of Doc Ock (glad someone else remembers those) and this happens.
I like her moxie.
Now with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, we get yet another example of Spider-Ham doing his shtick while human beings tower over him and shrug. Plus it’s John Mulaney doing the voice and he’s just delightful.
Spider-Ham, in the end, is about basic comedy. If everything is wacky, then nothing pops. Put something wacky up against something straight? Well, then you got a pork stew going.
Beatles insider Ken Mansfield always had the best seats in the house, even when the show was up on the roof.
Michael Lindsay-Hogg's 1970 documentary film Let It Be was recorded in January 1969, while the band rehearsed songs for their twelfth and final studio album Let It Be. Originally planned as a television documentary to go along with a concert broadcast, the documentary saw The Beatles get back to their roots. Augmented by a keyboard player they'd known since their beginnings in Hamburg, the band performed as they had in the beginning, as a five-piece with loud guitars, steady thunderous drumming and unadorned voices through microphones covered in nylon stockings. Until that day, January 30, 1969, on the roof, the Beatles hadn't performed live since August 29th, 1966, when they performed at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park. Ken Mansfield, the former manager of The Beatles' Apple Records in America saw the band at both final concerts and was one of the few people who get to see then at work in the studio. Mansfield remembers it all, with great personal detail in his book The Roof: The Beatles’ Final Concert.
In the film Let It Be, Mansfield can be seen in the white coat, sitting in the most exclusive VIP section a concert has ever had with Yoko Ono, Pattie Boyd, Maureen Starkey and Chris O'Dell. O'Dell, who worked in the chaotic London Apple offices the band met and recorded, was later dubbed "Pisces Apple Lady" in a song by Leon Russell, but was just "Miss O'Dell" on the song George Harrison released as the B-side of his 1973 single "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)." Mansfield was the tanned suit who came in from the warmth of L.A.'s serene Apple Corps building to be treated to McCartney songwriting sessions, tortured by the full frontal cover art for John Lennon's Two Virgins collaboration album with Yoko, and left holding cigarettes to keep George Harrison's fingers warm enough to play a rooftop concert in the dead of winter.
The Beatles took to the roof of Apple headquarters at 3 Savile Row, as a last-minute idea to end the 1970 documentary film, originally entitled Get Back, which was supposed to show the band rehearsing and recording a back-to-the-roots, no-overdubs-allowed album. The band toyed with the ideas of performing at large arenas, on top of Mount Everest, on an ocean liner, and in an asylum, before they just did what was most convenient. Their impromptu 42-minute set was closer in style to their earliest and rawest performances than to their half hour pop concerts. Let It Be includes 21 minutes of the concert, but the band also performed snippets of “I Want You (She's So Heavy),” “God Save The Queen” and Irving Berlin’s “A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody” in between takes. The Beatles got through nine takes of five songs, plus sundry snippets, before London’s Metropolitan Police Service told them to turn it down.
Mansfield left his first job in the Saturn Surveyor Space Program to work with rock and roll stars. He began working with the Beatles in August of 1965 during their second American tour. The Beatles specifically asked Capital Records to give them the executive, raised on the Indian reservation lands in northern Idaho, to be the U.S. manager of their Apple Records label as well as their personal liaison between the England and America.
Only a few people witnessed the concert on the roof up-close, and Mansfield concludes his journey back with a spiritual awakening. The book is about more than just the concert. Mansfield was part of Apple’s creative evolution. Mansfield went on to become a vice president at MGM Records and the president of Barnaby Records, a CBS label owned by Andy Williams. With his own company, Hometown Productions, Mansfield produced artists like Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter, Don Ho, David Cassidy, The Imperials, Claudine Longet, Nick Gilder, and The Flying Burrito Bros. Mansfield sat down with Den of Geek to talk about some of his favorite sets.
Den of Geek: Early in the book, you mentioned you were at a songwriting session, that Paul was writing a song and you had a lyrical suggestion. Do you happen to remember the song that he was writing?
Ken Mansfield: No, I don't. I thought I did at one time and then it just got confused later on. It seemed to me that he was doodling with Blackbird and something else, but it's amazing because I can't remember when I was sitting in the studio with them, the Let It Be session, which songs they were working on.
I get more involved in the moment, and stuff, and this is 50 years ago so, I have actually forgotten. He was just doodling on some songs, and he was including me. "What do you think about this? What do you think about that?" And I think "Blackbird" was one of them, but for some reason I think he was rehashing it, or something. I know that sounds really vague, but I just kind of don't remember.
There's other things I can remember as clear as day, but I was just more involved with the moment. Just hanging out, not really thinking too much about it.
I know you're a songwriter. So I thought it might have stuck in your head. And actually, you play guitar, did you ever get to play in front of or with any of The Beatles?
Gosh, no. No. By then, I was well past my guitar years. I'll tell you, when I was in England, I was carrying a tennis racket not a guitar. What happened, in all honesty, is I worked with so many great musicians, you become so intimidated, you don't even pick up a guitar around some of these people. Because you're embarrassed because the level that they're at and you're plunking away. You know?
So I played rhythm guitar. I was never a lead guitarist. I was never a great guitarist. I was just a good rhythm guitarist and that was all.
The Town Criers?
Yeah, The Town Criers.
Did they ever record?
We recorded some stuff. Fred Astaire started up a new label called Alba Records, but they never released it because everything fell apart, the label, and we never got the recordings back. Later on the guys all got together and did some stuff, so there's stuff out there but this is stuff we did at Capitol for demos and other things. But there's nothing from back then that's in release right now. There's a later reunion thing, which really doesn't represent the group when we were together then.
How did you pass the audition to become a core member of Apple?
I think because there was no audition, I wasn't auditioning, it came together just natural. I worked with them in '65 on the West Coast tour, and then in '66 when they came back again. I was a business associate but then we spent time together, they invited me up to the house and we became friends during that time. So, when it came time for them to have somebody to run the company in America, I was kind of the guy they knew over here, a younger guy like them. They thought it was so cool because I was sort of everything they'd kind of read about growing up. I had a suntan, my hair was growing long, I had a Cadillac convertible, a house up in the Hollywood Hills with a pool, you know.
And so they just felt comfortable with me because I wasn't in awe of them, I didn't ask them a lot of questions, I didn't ask to have my picture taken, it was just like hanging out. They were that kind of people. They just were easy to be around. It was probably the easiest band I've ever worked with or been around. Yeah.
Okay. The concert itself, you were there, you walked up the same stairs as them. Were they at all aware that they were doing a lunchtime show like they did at the Cavern?
Oh yeah. They were going up specifically to do footage for the Let It Be film, and that was something that we had planned. We had all these different ideas over time and just it never came together, and it was always too complicated. They were basically running out of time to get the footage, so the idea came, "well let's just go up on the roof." And when they got up there, it was for footage for the film, but when they got up there, and I think I made this comment in the book, something about them playing live together after they hadn't played together live for so long, they really went into that: Hey, we're a band and this is how we came together, and this is who we are, and this is what we are. It doesn't matter what's going on or any problems or things. This is us.
And I felt it was probably like they were younger men when they were at the Cavern, just that comradery and naturalness. They're very laid back, kickback thing, and I think it felt good to them. John, Paul, looked at each other once and it was that look they made at each other that showed, yeah, yeah, this is cool. This is us.
Do you remember any of the patter that went on between songs that didn't make it into the film?
Oh gosh, no.
Do you remember how it felt?
Some of it was asides to each other. Some of it was recorded on mics but you maybe couldn't necessarily hear a few feet away. So, no. I mean, yeah, I heard patter, I just didn't remember the words. I didn't think it was important. It was just another day. Now wait, I take that back. It wasn't that I didn't think it was important, it's just it wasn't examining things. Was this something that was being done, and a lot of the people just felt it was another day at the office, you know?
Okay, your book is very personal, so how did it feel then? What did the bass feel like? What did it feel to be that close to a bass cabinet? In the first concert they had given in two years, three years?
I didn't notice anything. They were up on the roof, the sound was projecting away. I don't remember it being extremely loud up there, yet at the same time, I talked to people who were on the street, they were on their way towards the building and they said it was like a wall of sound coming down.
You got to hold four cigarettes to keep George's fingers warm.
Yeah. Okay, the thing about that is, I've never seen it on the films, so I don't know if it's anywhere on the films. It was a very brief thing but I wish I could see a picture of that.
Tell me a little bit about what Billy Preston brought to that roof?
Billy was something that they deeply respected and Billy had a way of just tying everything together for them in terms of he played in the perfect places. They loved Billy. Billy was somebody that they also were just so fascinated with his talent and as a person, Billy was just a beautiful person. And I think he was the only person they ever listed on a record, and I think Billy, when he got in the Let It Be sessions, it was something that really helped center things for them or keep things together. And that's why George brought him in, he wanted just somebody there to help him calm down a little bit, I think. So Billy on the roof was pretty amazing, for him to be there and for them to invite him there for that. I think it was quite a way of honoring how they felt about him.
Did you read Richard DiLello's book The Longest Cocktail Party?
I did. Yeah, again, awhile back. That came out a long time ago. Go ahead.
He summed up the attitude at Apple, by citing something he overheard Derek Taylor say in a brief chat. Can you sum up Apple or Derek Taylor?
Well, Derek Taylor was one of those magic characters. Now, I'm not associating him with Magic Alex, but Derek was his own center of things at Apple because everything seemed to like, really a lot of stuff revolved around his office. There was always something going on there, and Derek had this big wicker chair and he would sit there, and I don't know, Derek was just this unusual person that was attracted to people. People were in and out of there, there was like chaos in his office but he was just comfortable with that. He was a very professional man, amongst all the casualness of what he was doing, and just, I don't know, he was just a special person, a special person to watch. Derek was his own attraction, I guess you could say.
Maybe that's the way. Derek was his own attraction. He was so interesting.
And so what was it like going back and forth between the two Apple offices? London and LA?
Yeah, well you know the LA office was boring compared to ... Really, there wasn't the people in there and we were in LA doing business. It was just really meeting schedules and just handling things, it wasn't the comradery or there wasn't the excitement, it was a job. I mean, it was a regular job. And then when you'd walk in to Apple, you'd walk in the door and it was chaos, it was fun. Everybody was involved. There could be a Beatle there doing something. Or just anybody could be in there doing things, it's just stuff was going constantly, all the time. A lot of fun, a lot of work, a lot of chaos, a lot of serious things, obviously, with something that big.
So it had about everything going on and each floor might be different of what's going on. Peter Asher's office was on one the fifth floor and Peter's a very serious man, you know, really does his work very properly and stuff like that.
I don't know, we just never knew what was going to happen next. And you never knew when a Beatle was going to come in and say, okay now this, now that, or whatever. And for me, because I wasn't there all the time, so to me, I was just walking into this really exciting ... just really like going to Disneyland as a kid, I guess, and then going back to real life, you know, later. It was a real treat.
And then there was the Hell's Angels.
Yeah. Well, you know, you've got things like the Hell's Angels or the Hari Krishnas ... it was so kind of welcoming there that you never knew who you were going to run into at the offices. And there was an open door, to a certain extent, and then to a certain extent, the doors had to be closed, or the door had to be closed. Yeah, it was just part of the chaos because you could have maybe a famous movie actor in there, or you could have almost anything, anybody in there.
What do you think it was that made Capitol Records realize that The Beatles weren't just another pop group and that they gave them special status? What was the tipping point?
Well, Capitol was a very formal company, and Capitol knew how to read sales, and they knew how to read reactions and stuff like that. And they also saw just how it continued or it kept growing, it never changed. Almost every band, yet they had never had that level of success, that level of press, that level of everything. I mean, The Beatles were so far beyond any band. We had some great bands on Capitol, you know, so it wasn't them going, gee, we're wizards in determining who is great, who's not. They didn't have to do that. It was there in the paper. It was there in the accounting. It was there in the prestige it gave the label.
I was surprised that it kept going because I figured that at some point, they were going to, like a typical band, just kind of fade away and people go, "Yeah, you remember The Beatles, don't you?" And no. This thing, Ringo still can't go in a restaurant without, you know. Or Paul.
Who's one of the biggest concert attractions right now? Paul McCartney. And when was the first time he and the other guys filled an auditorium? Think how many years ago that was. So it's a phenomenon. It'll never happen again. My personal opinion, it'll never happen again. Society will never be quite like that. The unique character of the band. And they were a band you couldn't ...
George Harrison made a statement that I loved once. After John died, somebody said will you bring Julian in, or something like that. Or will you replace John? He said, "Well, you know, we'll never get back together again as long as John stays dead." We'll never have a reunion, I guess he was saying.
Were The Beatles aware that the Jefferson Airplane did a rooftop concert in Manhattan that year?
You know, I don't think so. I don't think they were copying it. I'm sorry, they probably were aware. I don't know, it was never discussed, and I don't think they were trying to emulate the Jefferson Airplane or do something. I think the roof had to do, it was in the building, they needed footage, it was a hard time trying to organize the different ideas to get it, and it was just running out of time.
And one thing about the roof is, all we had to do was lock the doors downstairs and it was self-contained, there was no tickets or hotels or an entourage or anything like that, it was just a simple way to get something done, and then they felt comfortable in their own house. I think that was a part of it. From my knowledge, I doubt that the roof was an idea that had come from a long time ago. I think it just happened organically.
Okay, just for reference, how far away was the police station from the rooftop?
It was down the street. So maybe ... I can't remember how far away it was. It was on the same street, you can probably look at the two addresses between ... I don't have anything in front of my right now but there's 3 Savile Row and I forget the address of the police station, but it was close.
Okay, so why do you think, in your words, it took so long for the police to show up and turn down Britain's favorite band?
I think the police finally came when they got pressure from a couple really bigwigs on the street, you know? There was I think a very famous tailor and a banker there, or something, and it was hurting business, so I think when they got pressure. I mean, it was The Beatles and I think the police were kind of enamored that they had The Beatles on their street and they were just making loud music, so.
I don't think it's that if they hadn't have got a lot of pressure that they might've just let it go. I think they would've checked on it. Said what's the deal and how long is this going on?
You riff on how you might have been given a coat with no protection from the cold on purpose, and so why might the businesses on Savile Road have resented Apple Corps?
Yeah, that's just my own paranoia, but I'm just wondering why. I said, "I need something" and I just grabbed that coat because I said it's cold outside and I don't know if they knew I've come down from Apple. I'm just curious if they sold me that just because Apple, they were not exactly what they were used to on this street. I'm sure there were a lot of people that didn't really care for those longhaired rock 'n' rollers. But that was just my own musing, my own wondering about being a tourist and taken advantage of, but the wonderful thing about it was I had a white coat on the roof and if they had any ulterior motives, then it worked out fine for me in the long run.
And some of these things are just musings that you wonder about. You know, you've been a tourist, if you've been in Mexico or something, they'll do anything to make a sale, so you always feel at a little bit of a disadvantage.
I've always loved the idea of Mal Evans and you probably heard the dead letter line, that John Lennon said, but can tell me a little bit about Mal Evens and how you heard he was shot.
In fact, I think I wrote about this because I had talked to Mal. Mal had called me the night before and I was working on a deadline on mixing an album. I was working on sequencing the album and Mal called. And so we just start chatting and I said, "Mal, is something wrong?" And he says, "No, no." He said, "This good thing's happened. This other good thing's happened. I'm doing really great." I just sensed something and I said, "Mal, come on. I assume something ... Something's just different here." And finally he said, "Yeah." I said, "Well, I can't get together tonight. Can we get together tomorrow for like lunch? And we'll meet at Musso Franks?" He said, "Yeah, okay."
Well, the reason I couldn't talk also is I had to go the Billboard Award Banquet that night because Jessi Colter was up for Number One Country Artist, or even Number One Record. And so I go to the banquet, and because Jessi was on the road, I was going to accept her award if she won. And just as they were announcing that she won, Dianne Bennett from Hollywood Reporter, I think it was Hollywood Reporter, came up to me and said, "Sorry about Mal, Ken." And I said, "What do you mean?"
And then Flip Wilson says, "And Ken Mansfield now will accept the award." So I went up on stage, and it was just like Flip was just ... I couldn't even see or hear the words. I was just, "What happened? What happened?" I accepted the award, said thanks, came back down and Dianne Bennett told me that he'd been shot and killed. And that's how I heard about it and it was a matter of a couple hours or so after I'd talked to Mal.
Do you still see Paul or Ringo?
No, I saw Ringo a few years ago and I haven't seen Paul for quite a while. It's just a matter of drifting apart, it wasn't like we had a falling out or anything like that. Our lives just drifted apart, and after a while, their phone numbers change a lot, so it's hard to stay in touch. I saw Ringo a few years ago, was a guest at one of his concerts and it was kind of like old times, but also it had been so long, that we just didn't have the same things to talk about anymore. But we were very close, very close for many years. You know, he basically moved to L.A. He was part of our L.A. gang along with Harry and Mal, and people like that.
And you got to see Elvis with Ringo?
Yeah, I did and it was an amazing, amazing night because nobody knew Ringo was there. We snuck him into the hotel and we picked him up. In those days, we went out to the tarmac and they let Ringo get off the plane on the tarmac and get in the limo, and then we drove away. Then when the show started, they waited until it started and the room was dark and Elvis was on before they brought us in to our table. And we're sitting there, just jammed against a bunch of other people, they didn't realize that they were really physically rubbing elbows with a Beatle. And so we thought we were going to sneak out the same way, but Elvis like right towards the end said, "I'm really honored to have Ringo Starr in the audience."
And then we had a really hard time getting out of the show room and so I thought, well, I'm finally going to get to meet Elvis Presley, this is very cool. I mean, I'm with Ringo and Peter Brown was with us, and so we were out in the hallway between the kitchens and stuff, so we can get out of there, and Elvis's guy comes down and says, "Okay, Elvis is ready now." And we started to walk and he said, "Oh no. No no. Elvis will see Ringo."
And so, Peter Brown and I are standing in the hall, oh great, you know? So we go back up to the suite and a little while later Ringo comes up and he's going, "Oh, Elvis and I were talking" and just rubbing it in that we didn't get to go and he did.
Tell me a little bit, although it's in the book but the people that read it don't know it, tell me a little bit about the Two Virgins experience.
I mean, that is in the book and it is pretty clear it was a ... You know, I had a lot of responsibility with my position as U.S. manager in America and, at that time, we were really setting up the launch for the label and I was really getting to know everybody, so even though I'd worked with them a couple times, this was a whole different situation. In London, when we were setting up the launch in America, I was under a lot of pressure and Stanley Gortikov, the president of Capitol Industries, was there and as an executive, I had to be very proper in that respect. But I also had to be very kind of casual and loose with the guys. Just kind of those two things.
But I was sitting on the couch with John and Yoko, and when he showed me those pictures, and I had no idea, as I said in the book, because I stepped outside when this was explained and came back into the meeting, and I didn't know what to do. I thought, you know what? I'm in a different country, I'm in over my head maybe right now. I don't know about things like this. I don't know what to do. And I certainly can't alienate Mr. Lennon. You know? And Paul knew. Paul, right way just recognized, he just let me squirm for a while and then finally I looked over, and he had this smile on his face, and he explained. He said, "Hey Ken" and he explained the whole thing to me. He finally let me off the hook.
For a second, in the book, you made it sound like you thought he might have been asking you to swing with him and Yoko?
Well, yeah, I didn't know. A lot of things went through my mind, you know, because I didn't know. I didn't know what the scene was in London. I didn't know ... I mean that was one of several thoughts I had, but could this be possible? But, obviously, it wasn't and obviously I just ...
Okay. Now, you moved on to become a producer and a producer is an artist, so if you had been a producer at that point, do you think you would have reacted differently?
God knows man. I was with Waylon Jennings for five years, so I've seen about everything there is to see. And with the other people I was with. Maybe the answer to the question would be, I would've been maybe more mature, because I was a young guy, you know, maybe if I'd been more mature, even if I did think the worse or whatever, maybe I would've known better how to react to it. My reaction was just one of puzzlement. I didn't respond or anything, I just was sitting there, my mind racing and so all the reaction was totally inside and just because I was in a foreign country and I didn't know.
Okay. You brought up Waylon Jennings, and you worked with all the Outlaws, pretty much. What did the country musicians at the time think of The Beatles' country songs?
I think they were fascinated that like Ringo would come to Nashville. I think they were in awe of The Beatles like everybody else. I think there was a thing about The Beatles music to start with, which is a lot of three chord simple thing, great emphasis on lyrics, whether they were unusual lyrics or whether they were just very simple "Love me, love me do" type thing. But I think the people in Nashville liked what they were doing. I think the people in Nashville thought it was a salute to their part of the profession, too. And I know that Ringo was a country fan and they knew that.
Actually, I have one more question about Waylon Jennings and that. Did he record with his touring band or were they studio musicians? And did they jam?
No, Waylon used his band. Early on ... Yeah, I know. He was, I would say, forced to use studio musicians, but at the time, when he finally broke into being totally able to do what he wanted, it was his band. And a recording with Waylon could happen any time. I mean, you had to be ready because when it was time, Waylon said it was time, everybody was ... The songs wouldn't be rehearsed, the band was so used to following Waylon, he could sit down and start singing his new song he just wrote and they would just follow him. It was pretty amazing, because you had Rob Moon, one of the greatest steel guitars of all time. Richie Albright had been with him forever, he could sense Waylon's every move and anticipate what he was going to do.
Yeah, that was the band. He recorded with his band. We recorded in LA, we recorded in Nashville, it just depended on where we were.
Did they ever jam to just enjoy playing leads over chords and things like that? Did they ever just jam jam?
Well we did a lot of jamming when we were just maybe working on things, but most of the stuff ... In fact, you know what? That's funny. I said to Waylon sometime, "Hey, let's just sit around and do some picking and stuff for a while?" Or something like that, you know? He looked at me like I was nuts. Like what you were saying, "Waylon, let's jam for a while man." You know?
Yeah, wouldn't like that at all. They're a band. They're a road band, they've been together ... There's been a lot of times and things like that, especially around sound checks, especially in downtime in the studio, or you know, things like that. It's a typical band.
You also produced David Cassidy, and he was sort of an honorary member of Lennon's Hollywood Vampires with Alice Cooper. You brought out something kind of rocking in him. And those sessions didn't get released until much later.
They got released in Japan and around. I was really amazed with David and his talents. I think he was very underrated. He had a great sense of music, great knowledge. He loved the band Poco. He liked that whole era of music. He loved rocking out. He was just very open. When I was with him, he wanted to break image and he wasn't trying to create something different to give an impression that he was different than he was. He wanted people to see what he was and how he was. He was very romantic in some of his approach to songs, and really strong performances. I was pretty knocked out. Very very talented guy. And a wonderful guy to work with, just absolutely wonderful. He would laugh, and it would came from so deep inside of him, it was just beautiful.
In Ray Davies'X-Ray: The Unauthorized Autobiography, he said that he heard The Beatles arguing onstage at a concert because he said it was probably the only place they could talk to each other without being heard.
I've never heard that. I think that's delightful. I love it.
Do you think this might have been the case?
I can't because I've never thought of that. That's somebody else's statement, but I know, and this I only know because what I've heard or maybe read or something like that, that they would actually just have a dialogue that had nothing to do with anything. You know? Or sing words that weren't right. They just knew that nobody could hear them and I think it was frustrating, and I just think they were just playing with it. But you know, I'd never heard that comment before and I actually, thank you, it made me laugh.
When The Beatles were active, prior to breaking up, did they have any idea on a day to day basis, that we'd be talking about them with such reverence today?
Oh, I don't think so. I tell you why I don't think so. I know that when I was in L.A. with Paul, we walked out of the hotel and got in the limo. We had to walk through this crush of people. Now, this was 1968, so they'd had their supreme fame for quite a while. And we got in the limo and finally got the door shut, and Paul says, "I just don't get it." He was just still kind of amazed at the reaction to them. At this point, as a young man, this was quite a few years into it for him, so I don't think they probably realized. I don't think anybody would realize that.
They always just thought they were just a band?
Yeah. Well, as I said, I think I said this in the book, that they would refer to The Beatles like it was another band. And I'd questioned them about that, I said, "Why do you always, when we're in the meetings, why do you talk about The Beatles?"
And I think it was probably Paul who said, "Well, they've gone so far beyond us, it became something else. I'm Paul, that's John, there's George, there's Ringo, but then there's The Beatles."
You know, just this entity that was just beyond them.
The Roof: The Beatles’ Final Concert is available from Post Hill Press/distributed by Simon & Schuster.
Culture Editor Tony Sokol cut his teeth on the wire services and also wrote and produced New York City's Vampyr Theatre and the rock opera AssassiNation: We Killed JFK. Read more of his work here or find him on Twitter @tsokol.
Worlds keep colliding in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. So what the hell was going on in those final moments?
Spoiler sense tingling! This article contains Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse spoilers. Seriously, why would you click on this link without realizing that spoilers are going to happen?
Like nearly any superhero movie from the past few years, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has stuff after the credits. It’s just that this one may have the best post-credits sequence of the year. At the very least, it’s on the level of the mid-credits stuff in Deadpool 2. Plus it’s just a wonderful movie in general and you should really see it.
What happens: So we get some very stylized initial credits with a psychedelic Spider-Man party followed by a sad dedication to Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Regular credits kick in, we get to hear Spider-Man’s Christmas song in full, and finally the really good stuff.
“Meanwhile, in Nueva York...”
We’re in the point of view of a man voiced by Oscar Isaac, walking through a lair of darkness, only lit by monitors and a woman named Lyla, who appears to be a hologram. Lyla sums up the gist of the movie’s plot, but mainly the part about how the dimension-spanning technology has proven successful and the multiverse hasn’t blown up.
Lyla refers to our character as “Miguel” and he suits up in a blue and red outfit. He is Miguel O’Hara, otherwise known as Spider-Man 2099. He’s going to take this new technology for a spin and decides to start at the beginning.
He enters “Earth-67,” where he appears before a stiffly-animated 2D Spider-Man. Miguel is just as stiffly-animated and his attempt to introduce himself gets turned into a loud and angry argument filled with the two Spider-Men pointing at each other repeatedly. Nearby, a police officer and an angry J. Jonah Jameson don’t know what to make of the situation.
What it means: First off, I just want to point out that it’s been 11 years since Spider-Man 3 and despite six different movies with Spider-Man since, plus that Venom movie, the only time we’ve seen J. Jonah Jameson is a post-credits gag replaying animation from a 50-year-old cartoon. They’ll kill off Jonah’s son, but they won’t put him in a movie. That’s how untouchable JK Simmons’ performance was, I guess.
Who is Spider-Man 2099?
Anyway, Spider-Man 2099. Created by Peter David and Rick Leonardi, he first appeared in 1992 and he brought the entire Marvel 2099 line with him. In a future where superheroes were but a faded legend from the past, Miguel O’Hara worked for Alchemax, the same company that gave Miles Morales his powers. He wasn’t exactly happy with the company’s lack of morality and it led to his boss Tyler Stone forced him into loyalty by tricking him into taking an addictive drug that only Alchemax produced.
Down the line, Tyler Stone turned out to be Miguel’s father, so it’s especially messed up.
Miguel had his own DNA on file and tried to rewrite his addicted biology with his previous biology, like using a video game savestate. Something went wrong and he ended up with 50% spider DNA and his own set of spider powers, such as strength, speed, reflexes, super senses, organic webbing, talons, venomous fangs, and a special costume that allows him to glide. With those powers, he would fight against evil in Nueva York.
He became a superhero and in a world that worshipped Thor like he was Christ, various followers were pumped because they believed that the return of Spider-Man would act as the first step in the return of Thor.
Over the next several years, more re-imagined heroes appeared in that world from X-Men 2099, Hulk 2099, Ghost Rider 2099, Doom 2099, and the extra-ridiculous Punisher 2099. All of this in an early 90s’ take on what the future would probably be like. You know, like Lyla being his holographic Siri/Alexa.
Spider-Man 2099 lasted for 44 issues and sometime after its cancellation, as well as the cancellation of the other 2099 titles, they added closure to his story by revealing that he was indeed the herald for the return of Thor: Miguel O’Hara himself would wield Mjolnir and bring peace to the galaxy over the course of a thousand years before retiring.
Despite that closure, he’d still show up over the years. He became a member of the reality-hopping Exiles team for a bit. He became stranded in the present and fought alongside various other Spider-Men from different dimensions.
Funny thing is that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and its post-credits scene acts as a companion piece to the 2010 video game Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, which seemingly inspired the comic that inspired this movie. The game had mainstream Spider-Man, Ultimate Spider-Man (still Peter Parker, albeit with a symbiote), Spider-Man Noir, and Spider-Man 2099 (voiced by Dan Gilvezan, who voiced Peter Parker back in the early 80s for Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends) teaming up to save the multiverse. In the post-credits scene, it’s Spider-Ham who gets the comedic fan-service crossover appearance.
Now the shoe’s on the other foot, I guess.
This could very well be a teaser for a sequel, but the joke of it all means it doesn’t have to be.
Earth-67 ends up being the world of the Spider-Man animated series from 1967-1970. Most notably, it takes place during the season 1 episode “Double Identity,” where an actor named Charles Cameo tries to steal priceless pieces of art via being a master of disguise. This includes dressing up as Spider-Man, which leads to the real Spider-Man confronting him. The two point at each other, yelling that the other is an imposter, before throwing down.
Even though Cameo has the webbing and wall-crawling abilities somehow, the real Spider-Man proves himself via his superior strength and skill.
In recent years, the still of the two Spider-Men pointing at each other has became a beloved interent meme. I mean, many screenshots from that series have become memes, but that one’s easily the most popular. The fact that this Spider-Verse scene is built on two Spider-Men interacting just makes it a better fit.
That’s not the only time one of these crossovers has referenced the Spider-Man ’67 memes. Web-Warriors, a dimensional Spider-Man team-up book, begins with a battle going on in the Spider-Man ’67 world.
Those spider-heroes lead such interesting lives...
Crisis on Infinite Earths has been confirmed as the 2019 Arrowverse crossover. Here's what we think will happen.
The end of the annual Arrowverse crossover, Elseworlds, lit a fire under DC fans. Crisis on Infinite Earths, one of the most important superhero comics of all time, has officially been announced as the subject of the 2019 Arrowverse crossover. But what does that mean for our favorite heroes? And what does it mean for the CW’s lineup of shows? Well, we’ve been thinking about it since the title card flashed at the end of Supergirl, and we have some ideas.
Here are five things we expect from the Arrowverse Crisis on Infinite Earths...
You can’t have Crisis on Infinite Earths and not have the biggest villain from the comic in there. “Elseworlds” gave us Mar Novu, the Monitor who was testing heroes from around the Multiverse to see if they were prepared to face off against a mysterious, powerful, unnamed foe. That is almost certainly the Anti-Monitor, an antimatter version of the man watching over the infinite worlds of the multiverse.
However, the original Monitor never got a real name, and Arrowverse Monitor did, which means there’s a possible curveball in here. I don’t think it’s likely, but the dark power Mar was alluding to could be Mandrakk, the Dark Monitor from Final Crisis-. He’s likely too meta for a tv appearance, though, so I wouldn’t count on it.
Heroes Will Die
Crisis on Infinite Earths had a body count in the high-infinity range. Seriously, a boundless multiverse was collapsed down to one Earth that consisted of the mashed together remains of another five.
But it wasn’t just whole universes that were killed. Crisis on Infinite Earths focused on several characters in regular rotation in the DCU at the time, and a bunch of them up and died during the series, including Barry Allen and Kara Zor-El.
The Arrowverse is not short on heroes. Between the four "main" shows we can reasonably expect to take part in this crossover, there are something like 30 regular heroes combined. And that’s not counting the heroes we know are out there but don’t regularly appear, like the Freedom Fighters of Earth-X, the Council of Harrisons Wells (who we would gladly see sacrificed), Machete, Gypsy, or even the version of the Justice Society of America we met on Legends of Tomorrow. There are a lot of deaths that could have a meaningful impact on the characters on these shows and us as an audience without disrupting the CW’s television schedule too much.
You can also probably take to the bank that one of the three leads is going to die during the crossover. For reasons we explained here, our money is on Oliver Queen. Also Superman is definitely dying. Ollie had to make an even trade with the Monitor to save Barry and Kara, and Superman is the only other person who makes sense to be a part of that deal. He wouldn’t ruin an existing show by dying and he wouldn’t say no to sacrificing himself to save others, even if Ollie had to do it without him knowing.
Time goes to hell.
The second issue of Crisis on Infinite Earths starts with Anthro the First Boy and segues to the Legion of Superheroes within 3 pages. When the multiverse starts collapsing, time ceases to matter. We can reasonably expect heroes from all over the Arrowverse timeline to show up in this, not only the present day ones. That means the Legion from Supergirl. The JSA from Legends of Tomorrow. Hell, maybe even the Knights of the Round Table from Ray Palmer’s fanboy jaunt to the middle ages, or (dare we dream) a Justice League from the future of one earth.
Actually, hear me out...
We know that Batman exists on Arrow/Flash/Legends Earth-1. Superman and Martian Manhunter of Earth-38 are recurring characters on Supergirl. The Legends dropped Helen of Troy on Themiscyra last season. Flash from Earth-90 confirmed that Diggle is a Green Lantern there. And Aquaman was a regular on Smallville, which was clearly referenced (and will absolutely be part of this crossover, you can take that to the bank). Add in Oliver and either Sara or Laurel for your requisite Canary, and you have a nice mix of original and big guns multiversal Justice League. Then imagine a final battle with the Anti-Monitor with:
- A multiversal JLA
- The JSA from the Legends of Tomorrow
- The Legion of Super Heroes from Supergirl
- A team of Outsiders led by Black Lightning (let’s say Mr. Terrific, Arsenal, Katana, Atom, Grace Choi, and Batwoman?)
I’m not sure what’s more insane. That idea, or that you can’t dismiss that idea out of hand.
At least one Earth we’ve never seen before.
Lady Quark was a member of the ruling family of Earth-6, a world where the colonies lost the Revolutionary War and technology took off afterwards. She was one of the key players in Crisis on Infinite Earths. She and her entire Earth had never appeared in a DC comic prior to Crisis on Infinite Earths #4.
The point here isn’t to impress you with my nerd credentials, although if you stick around to the end I might try and rip a Spider-Man: Clone Saga omnibus in half. The point is when you’ve got an infinite multiverse to play with, the creative teams tend to let their imaginations run wild. In the Elseworldscrossover, we got references to the Christopher Reeve Superman movies, Man of Steel, Smallville, and the location of the Earth where the 1990s The Flash show took place. These writers love the comics too much not to throw one or two fun throwaway Earths in there for their own amusement. Maybe we'll actually see the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3 (although in the Arrowverse, Earth-3 is where classic Flash Jay Garrick lives, but you get the idea).
Major Changes to the CW DC TV Shows
Crisis on Infinite Earths was a groundbreaking comic not only because of its in-universe storytelling importance. The Psycho-Pirate may have gone on about worlds living and worlds dying, but in the real world, books also lived and died by Crisis. Coming out of the series, both Wonder Woman and Superman had their entire continuities reset, while Batman saw massive, wholesale changes to many of the characters in the books (looking at you, Jason Todd). It’s hard to believe that the Arrowverse crossover won’t have a similar impact.
Ollie or Barry could die without advance warning, but as we've pointed out, our money is on Oliver. Also, Arrow is the show that can probably best manage a continuation without its lead - the CW can’t cancel any of these shows without tipping us off to a death in the crossover, but we can almost certainly have a season of Diggle training Ollie’s kid to be the Arrow while the rest of the CW pays their respects.
You can also make a case for Barry dying. They’ve been teasing Barry’s death in a Crisis since literally the first episode of The Flash, with the future newspaper predicting his death. However, Ollie’s speech to Barry at the end of Elseworlds seems to augur against that. On the other hand, the date on that infamous future newspaper headline doesn't line up with next year's crossover, although this could be a matter of time collapsing, or perhaps Nora's arrival has had more far-reaching consequences than we first thought.
But a Flash must die in a Crisis - it’s one of the real world’s immutable truths, like Newton’s First Law, or Rule 34. However, we’ve got enough Flashes bouncing around the multiverse - Jesse Quick, two John Wesley Shipps (three if you count the departed Henry Allen), Wally West, hell, there’s probably another Zoom ghost running around - where I don’t think Barry is gone for more than a short bit of time. Then again, it doesn’t have to be “our” Barry who dies, either. John Wesley Shipp’s “classic” Barry Allen certainly could do with a heroic send-off, with his death being a deciding factor in the saving of the Multiverse.
Could other WB DC TV Shows Take Part?
While the comic book version of Crisis on Infinite Earths eliminated the entire Multiverse (well...temporarily), that's unlikely to happen here. DC's multimedia multiverse is actually a very good thing, allowing shows that simply can't line up together for various reasons (Gotham, Krypton, Titans) to exist in their own individual corners of the DCU, while giving fans the satisfaction that even the movies "exist" within a shared DC Universe of some kind. It's a weird idea, and one we went into more detail with here.
But while they won't eliminate the entire Multiverse, they certainly will condense all of the CW DC shows to one Earth, while shows like Gotham (which is ending soon anyway) and Titans will remain on their own. Krypton could go either way, but since that’s a show that plays with alternate timelines anyway it almost doesn’t matter (although...what if the finale of Krypton season 1 is what broke everything?)
But from there, who knows? It seems almost certain that Supergirl and Black Lightning will be folded into the main Arrowverse alongside The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Batwoman. But at the same time, we’re watching Netflix take a hatchet to their Marvel shows reportedly because of Disney’s upcoming streaming service, and guess what launched earlier this year and could really use a bunch more content? Ultimately, the best thing about Supergirl announcing Crisis on Infinite Earths is that it gives us a good nine months to lose our minds about what might be coming next, and with these shows’ track records of success, it promises to be a hell of a lot of fun when we get there.
Who needs Peter Parker? We spotlight pretty much every different version of Spider-Man in the Spider-Verse ever!
Spider-Man is such a resilient and iconic character that the legend of the arachnid crime fighter can endure even when Peter Parker isn't the one under the mask. Heck, even Doctor Octopus was once locked inside Peter Parker’s mind, controlling the hero’s every action, transforming the once likable hero into cold and calculating Superior Spider-Man.
Spider-Man has also been a clone, a robot, fought crime in the future, in alternate realities, and even piloted a giant Japanese mech (what?), but no matter what iteration Spidey has taken, the legend has endured.
With Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse now in theaters, we take a look at the other versions of Spider-Man who have spun a web (any size!) over the years, from the frightening to the cool to the evil and even the downright strange.
Kang’s Spider-Man Robot
First Appearance: Avengers #11 (1964)
Created by Stan Lee and Don Heck
The first time the World’s Greatest Super-Heroes, the Avengers, met Spider-Man, it was not actually Peter Parker in the red and blue suit. It was a robot created by Kang. Now, it’s pretty badass that Kang can just use future tech to whip up a robot that perfectly replicate’s Spider-Man’s powers, but the ‘bot also almost took out the entire Avengers team. The real Peter Parker had to show up to kick the robot’s doppelganger butt and save the Mighty Avengers, marking the first Avengers/Spider-Man team-up, something film fans would chew off their own thumbs to see.
Before it was revealed that this faux Spider-Man was a machine, the Avengers even offered the phony arachnid Avenger’s membership, something the real Spidey would not gain for decades. Changing its name to Timespinner, The Kang Spider-bot even made a second appearance in Marvel Team-Up#4 (1996), taking on Spider-Clone Ben Reilly and the Avengers.
First Appearance Not Brand Ecch #2 (1967)
Created by Stan Lee and Marie Severin
Spidey-Man was the satirical version of Spider-Man that appeared in Marvel’s legendary parody book Not Brand Echh. Spidey-Man was drawn by the recently passed first lady of the Marvel Age Marie Severin so we thought we would honor one of her more lighthearted creations. Thank you for all you did, Marie, you will be missed.
First Appearance: Midnight Sons Unlimited #3 (1993)
Created by Mort Todd
This might be the most '90s concept ever.
A combination of Spider-Man and the once popular but oversaturated dark world of the Midnight Sons with an X thrown in there for good measure to hook gullible 1990s X-Men fans, Spider-X was a young, super hero obsessed kid named Brian Kornfield. Kornfield was transformed by the demonic tome the Darkhold into the ultra-violent Spider-X. Spider-X is a horrific parody of Spider-Man and his brutal tactics have brought this monstrous arachnid into conflict with Ghost Rider, Morbius, and other dark Marvel heroes.
I mean, is this guy excessive or what? He even shoots acid webs! Oh, early '90s Marvel, we really don’t miss you. Except for Sleepwalker. We really dig Sleepwalker.
First Appearance Ultimate Spider-Man #1 (2000)
Created by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley
One of the most important alternate Spider-Men, Ultimate Spider-Man took the world by storm with his debut issue in 2000. The concept was simple, follow the Lee/Ditko formula but in modern times. Fans fell in love with Ultimate Spidey due to the earnestness and honesty creators Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley infused the character with as they tweaked the Spider-Man legend.
Ultimate Spidey almost isn’t an alternate Spidey at all because the character is so infused with that Lee/Ditko magic DNA that makes Spider-Man so special. But when Ultimate Spidey dies in battle with the Green Goblin, a new legend as born as Miles Morales rises to take on the mantle of Spider-Man. With this bit of story genius, Ultimate Peter Parker takes on the Uncle Ben role to Miles and the legacy of Ultimate Spidey greatly diverges from the classic Peter.
Ultimate Spidey may be gone, but for over a hundred issues Bendis and Bagley reminded the world why Spider-Man is so great. So thanks Ultimate Spidey, you were truly spectacular and always amazing.
First Appearance: Avataars: Covenant of the Shield #1 (2000)
Created by Len Kaminski and Oscar Jimenez
Yes, having the words Avatar, Spider-Man, and the Avengers all in one concept might make Hollywood’s collective heads explode. Marvel’s Avaatars are alternative reality versions of super-heroes that dwell on a sword and sorcery world called Eurth. It’s kind of like Game of Thrones with more costumes and less incest. The Webslinger is the medieval version of Spider-Man, and fights alongside Captain Avalon and his team of super knights.
Actually, it all sounds kind of cool. Who is up for a return to Eurth? Just think of it: armored versions of Daredevil, Hulk, the Fantastic Four, and Iron Ma-uh, you know what, never mind.
House of M: Spider-Man
First Appearance: Spider-Man: House of M #1 (2005)
Created by Mark Waid, Tom Peyer, and Salvador Larroca
House of M is considered one of the better Marvel crossovers of the modern Marvel era. Of course there was a huge role for Peter Parker in the world where mutants ruled.
The House of M version of Spidey is fraught with irony, as Peter actually lives a good life in the dystopian reality. For one, the world believes Peter to be a mutant and as such, this Spider-Man gains fame and acceptance that the regular Marvel Universe Spider-Man never received, and many great tragedies of the Spider-Man mythos have been avoided. Uncle Ben and Aunt May are both alive and well, Peter is married to and has a child with Gwen Stacy, and Sony never interfered in the scripting of Spider-Man 3 and actually let Sam Raimi make a good movie (I made that last bit up).
First appearance: Spider-Man: Reign #1 (2006)
Created by Kaare Andrews
Spider-Man: Reign is an older version of Peter Parker who comes out of retirement to save his city from a conspiracy involving Venom. Spider-Man: Reign is one of the darkest takes on the Spidey legend you will ever see. The character is killed in Spider-Verse when his head his caved in with his dimension’s version of Mary Jane’s tombstone. See? Told you. Dark.
Amazing Spider-Man Family #1 (2008)
Created by Karl Kesel and Ramon Bachs
Spider-Monkey is almost exactly like Spider-Man. Except he’s a monkey.
Appearing as part of the 2008 Marvel Apes event, Spider-Monkey was kind of an arrogant dick and did not hesitate to kill. He did fight Doctor Ooktavius though, so there you go. Sadly, Spider-Monkey was killed during the Spider-Verse comics event. Also sadly, Spider-Monkey did not shoot webs out of his ass. You missed some easy hanging fruit there, Marvel.
First Appearance Amazing Spider-Man #700 (2012)
Created by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos
Let’s face it, on the surface having Doctor Octopus take over Peter Parker’s body and mind after Parker seemingly dies could have been just a dumb idea. Having Ock stay in the body for well over a year is just batshit insane. But you know what? It all worked, and against all odds and logic, Superior Spider-Man became one of the best conceived and best written alternate Spideys of all time.
At first it seemed that Superior Spider-Man was way more successful being Spidey than Peter ever was. As Spidey, Ock fixed Peter’s life and became a more efficient hero. Or at least he did on the surface, while in Peter’s body, Ock began to see just how rare and special Peter’s heroism was and became a better man through Peter’s example. At the end, Ock sacrificed himself to bring Peter back because the world needed the greatest, the best, the original, Spider-Man.
In recent years, Ock has returned and Marvel is paving the way for Ock as a new Superior Spider-Man. How will Amazing and Superior coexist? Stay tuned, true believer for the next stage of the legacy of the Superior Spider-Man.
First appearance Edge of Spider-Verse #5 (2014)
Created by Gerard Way and Jake Wyatt
SP//dr is an alternate universe version of Spidey created during Spider-Verse. She is a Japanese student named Peni Parker who is adopted by May and Ben Parker. She shares a psychic link with a suit of mech armor and helping her pilot the mech is an intelligent radioactive spider because awesome.
With all the Spider-Verse films and games on the way, we have a feeling that Peni Parker may become a big deal because let’s face it, there is just so much potential in a character that is a young Japanese kid adopted by the Parkers and BFFs with a heavily armored mech spider thing.
First appearance The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 3 #10 (2014)
Created by Dan Slott and Olivier Coipel
No, Spider-Punk is not a surly but compelling wrestler from Chicago who quit the WWE and is really vulnerable to being punched by MMA fighters.
Spider-Punk is another alternate version of Spidey introduced in Spider-Verse. Spider-Punk is really Hobart Brown. Brown lives on a world ruled by President Norman Osborn and uses his powers and punk rock influence to take the battle to the man! In the regular MU, Hobie Brown is the Prowler; so really, Spider-Punk is part of two Marvel legacies. Between comics and video games, Spider-Punk has been all over the place lately, so look for big things from this safety pin wearing punk rocker. OI!!!!
"Golden Sponge Cakes" Spider-Man
First Appearance: Spider-Verse #1 (2014)
Created by Dan Slott and Ty Templeton
Remember those old schools Hostess snack cake adds of the '70s where the heroes would defeat a large cross section of bad guys by tempting them with Twinkies, cupcakes, or fruit pies? Well, that shit’s canon, and that makes us so happy.
In the Spider-Verse event, writer Dan Slott introduces us to a version of Spidey that runs into the murderous Morlun. When encountering Morlun, this Spidey does what he does best, he tries to tempt the multi-dimensional killer with Golden Sponge Cakes. Morlun kills "Golden Sponge Cakes" Spider-Man. Bastard. But hey, the fact that "Golden Sponge Cakes" Spider-Man Spidey exists proves that there is hope for the human race.
Renew Your Vows Spider-Man
First appearance: Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1 (2015)
Created by Dan Slott and Adam Kubert
One of the most notorious moments in Marvel history is when Marvel abandoned the child of Peter and Mary Jane. Whaattt? Yeah, it happened. Mary Jane was pregnant, she was kidnapped, an unknown enemy stole the unborn child, and it was never spoken of again. Of course, the Spider-marriage ended as well in One More Day so it seemed like fans would have to live without the wedded Spider bliss. It goes without saying that fans would also have to live without the Spider-Kid... until Renew Your Vows, that is.
Renew Your Vows introduces a world where Peter and MJ are still married and are raising their lost-in-our-universe daughter Annie Parker. The three become a crime fighting trio as Peter trains wife and daughter to be just as amazing as he is. Renew Your Vows Spidey is a great look at what could have been if Spider-Man was allowed to become Family-Man.
First Appearance: Monthly Shōnen Magazine January 1970 – September 1971
Created by Kōsei Ono, Kazumasa Hirai, and Ryoichi Ikegami
Yes, Japan had two Spider-Men of its own. This is the less insane one.
When Junior High Schooler Yu Komori is bitten by a radioactive spider, he is transformed into Japan’s own wall crawling sensation. Similar characters and tropes from the legend of Peter Parker defined the Spider Manga. Yu had a loving elderly Aunt and worked for a cantankerous newspaper publisher, plus, he fought such menaces as Electro, the Lizard, and the Kangaroo.
Now let’s get this straight, of all the great Spider-Man villains to choose from, the Japanese creators of manga Spidey go with the Kangaroo?
Let’s just hope Mark Webb doesn’t follow that lineage of villains. He’s two-thirds there already! Manga Spidey is a fascinating alternate take on Spider-Man and is well worth seeking out, but really Japan, the Kangaroo?
MC2 Peter and Spider-Girl
First appearance: What If (Vol. 2) #105 (1998)
Created by Tom DeFalco, Ron Frenz
If old school is your thing, then MC2 Peter Parker and his daughter “Mayday” are the heroes for you. Essentially, the MC2 Universe was designed to be the next chapter in the saga of the Marvel Universe, stories that exist in a possible future.
Spider-Girl saw a retired Peter Parker try to find a sense of non-super-hero normalcy after he lost his leg in the battle with the Green Goblin. After his daughter May develops spider powers, May and Peter are thrust back into a world of adventure.
Writer Tom DeFalco and artist Ron Frenz fought low sales for almost a decade but kept plugging away at the Spider heroes of tomorrow. It’s a bit surprising that neither Disney nor Sony has tried to exploit this property It screams ‘tween sitcom.
Gerry Drew Spider-Man
First appearance: Spider-Girl #32 (2001)
Created by Ron Frenz and Tom DeFalco
Another MC2 DeFlaco and Frenz creation, Gerry Drew was the son of the original Spider-Woman, Jessica Drew. A rare blood ailment was killing the poor Drew child but it also granted him strange powers. Gerry decided to spend his last days fighting crime and trained under Darkdevil (who was, y’know, Daredevil, but dark...oh, comics).
Gerry didn’t wear the webs for long, but he was a neat character study into the psyche of a dying young man. Happily, Reed Richards promised to find a cure for the boy. Usually, Reed keeps his promises of finding a cure unless he’s trying to cure someone covered in orange rocks, so things probably worked out well for young Gerry.
I mean seriously Disney/Sony or whomever, this has CW or ABC Family drama written all over it. Why aren’t you on this? Victoria Justice as Spider-Girl...It writes itself!
First appearance: Ultimate Fantastic Four #22 (2005)
Created by Mark Millar and Greg Land
Superheroes are popular, and so are zombies. When Marvel mashed up their pantheon of heroes with flesh-devouring zombies, they discovered the two genres went great together.
On an alternate universe discovered by the Ultimate Fantastic Four, Marvel’s brightest paragons of justice had turned into lumbering flesh eaters. First Mark Millar and Greg Land, and then Mr. Zombie himself, Robert Kirkman, and artist Sean Phillips presented the dark world of Marvel Zombies, and by Odin’s dangling nether parts, was it disturbing.
Peter Parker was a particularly twisted version of the classic character, as ‘ol Pete was just as ravenous a flesh eater as the other atrocities, except Peter, in true Peter fashion, was ravaged with guilt over once having devoured Aunt May and Mary Jane Watson. One can only guess what happened to Ms. Lion.
After Kirkman, many other writers followed, fleshing (ha) out the twisted world of Marvel Zombies, and poor old guilt ravaged Peter was along for the ride, proving again and again with great power comes great hunger and the need to eat peoples’ faces and internal organs. Where’s Daryl Dixon when you need him?
First appearance: Mutant X #6 (1999)
Created by Howard Mackie and Cary Nord
In the Mutant X universe, (it was a reality where the regular Marvel Universe Havok went for a bit, Storm was a vampire...It was the ‘90s, don’t ask questions). Spider-Man was a mutated hero with four arms that joined forces with the heroes of that reality. He was killed by the villainous Goblin Queen and replaced with a four armed clone who was also killed at some point.
In the regular Marvel Universe, the real Spidey also had four arms for a brief period of time in a classic story by Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, and Gil Kane (Amazing Spider-Man #100-103), where he fought the Lizard and the freshly introduced Morbius. That story was awesome. Mutant X, not so much.
First Appearance: Powerless #1 (2004)
Created by Matt Cherniss, Peter Johnson, Alex Maleev, and Michael Gaydos
On the surface, Marvel’s 2004 mini-series Powerless doesn’t sound like the most gripping of sagas, but it was actually a surprisingly good read with insanely cool art.
The premise of the book is a world of super-heroes with no super powers. Most people just call that reality, but it remains one of Marvel’s best experimental series of the last decade.
In this powerless world, Peter Parker uses the net handle Spider-Man and is still bitten by a radioactive spider. Instead of super powers, Powerless Pete has a nasty, atrophied arm. Of all the Peters in all the multiverse, this one got the short end of the stick. With shriveled nasty arm, comes absolutely no responsibility beyond weekly doctor’s appointments and massive doses of antibiotics.
First Appearance: Marvel 1602 #1 (2003)
Created by Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert
Neil Gaiman’s contribution to the Spider-Man mythos, Peter Parquagh appeared in the great 1602 mini-series. Parquagh was an apprentice to the royal spymaster Nicholas Fury. As Parquagh globetrots with his master, he is constantly coming close to being bitten by unusual spiders. This finally happens in one of the 1602 sequels not written by Neil Gaiman (it was Greg Pak), and Parquagh’s life as a colonial adventure begins in earnest. It’s all very cool and a bit streampunky, and listen, it’s all created by Gaiman, so just read it.
First Appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #365 (1992)
Created by Peter David and Rick Leonardi
Even in the far-flung future, power and responsibility are irrevocably linked. In the long running Spider-Man 2099 series by Peter David and Rick Leonardi, all the elements that make Peter Parker so special are packaged and shipped into the future, where a geneticist named Miguel O’Hara wields the webs. O’Hara is a hero cut from the same cloth as Peter: a victim of an experiment gone wrong, he uses his powers to help his really close to dystopian future.
Spider-Man 2099 featured kickass world building by David. Using the world of Spider-Man and the Marvel Universe proper as a template, David built a fully functional future that was new enough to grip readers but different enough to provide for an alternate experience to regular Marvel continuity.
O’Hara is currently swinging around the present Marvel Universe and will soon be featured in his own title written by, because the comic gods are kind, Peter David.
The rest of the world learned of the awesomeness of O’Hara in the Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions video game, and it looks like Marvel would like nothing better than a 2099 resurgence.
First appearance: Spider-Man 2099 Meets Spider-Man #1 (1995)
Created by Created by Peter David and Mike Wieringo
When Peter Parker met Miguel O’Hara, another era’s Spider-Man went along for the ride: the tragic Spider-Man of 2211, Max Borne. It appears this Spidey was "Borne" to suffer. (editor's note: booooooooo!)
With the other Spider-Men, Borne had to fight his age’s Hobgoblin, who was actually his daughter driven completely bugnuts. This Hobgoblin was eventually killed by something called a retcon bomb, a weapon that would later be utilized by Dan Didio (oh, stop, we’re just kidding). If that wasn’t tragic enough, at story’s end, Borne is shot and killed by his era’s Chameleon, posing as Uncle Ben.
Wow, that’s one tragic Spidey. I’m shocked he didn’t Oedipaly kill Uncle Ben and marry Aunt May. Yeeesh. Spidey 2211 was designed by Mark Wieringo, so you know he’s visually awesomesauce.
First appearance: Spider-Man Noir #1 (2009)
Created by Created by David Hine and Carmine Di Giandomenico
His hands were stickier than a pick pocket at a taffy convention, he stuck to walls like dames stick to their make-up mirrors. And the way the creators of the Spider-Man: Noir mini weaved in noir elements while maintaining the super-hero integrity of the story was quite the narrative trick. Spider-Man: Noir remains one of the most successfully daring alternate versions of Spider-Man to date.
Now excuse me while I continue to practice my noir parlance: Miss Watson’s hair was so red it made blood insanely jealous, she had a body that made a priest want to break a stained glass window...
This version of Spidey also appeared in the Shattered Dimensions video game.
First Appearance: Spider-Man: India #1 (2004)
Created by created by Sharad Devarajan, Suresh Seetharaman, and Jeevan J. Kan
Pavitr Prabhakar became the Spider-Man of India in a book published in India and reprinted in the U.S. It’s actually pretty cool how the legend of Spider-Man really does translate well into very distinct cultures. It shows the universality of Peter. At least our creative friends in India had the good taste to not include the Kangaroo in their book.
Seriously, Japan, what’s up with that?
Original Run: 1999 -2001
Created by Michael Reaves and Will Meugniot
Batman Beyond was a pretty big hit back in 1999, so that same year, the fine folks at Marvel Animation created their own alternate take on Spider-Man. After the successful Spider-Man cartoon of the ‘90s, Marvel took Spidey and shunted him off to an alternate Earth where he had a new costume and met up with such characters as the High Evolutionary and Bestial versions of some Marvel’s most famous characters.
While an animated High Evolutionary should have given fans multiple nerdgasms, the haphazard animation and non-traditional take on Spidey and his world just made fans turn the channel. No Daily Bugle, No Aunt May, no M.J., no great rogue’s gallery, no thanks. Even Venom and Carnage as the recurring baddies couldn’t save this show.
This taught Marvel one great lesson: unless you have the talents of Paul Dini and Bruce Timm on your show, stick with tradition. Some cool characters did show up on the series like X-51 and bestial versions of Electro and the Green Goblin, which makes this one worth revisiting for curiosity’s sake.
Marvel also published a short-lived comic that tied into the show, featuring a Bestial Wolverine, so haunt those quarter boxes if you’re really that curious.
First appearance: as Mac Gargan -- The Amazing Spider-Man #19 (1964)/as Spider-Man -- Dark Avengers #1 (2009)
Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
As Mac Gargan, he was one of Spidey’s greatest foes, and when Eddie Brock gave up the symbiote, Gargan became the new Venom, but for a time, Gargan also took the identity of Spider-Man.
When Norman Osborn formed his own team of Dark Avengers to mock the heroic foes he despised so much, it would only be appropriate that Osborn made one of his twisted Avengers Spider-Man. Enter Mac Gargan, wielder of the Venom symbiote, and the most evil Spider-Man to date.
Gargan turned the sacred profane by giving into his baser cannibalistic instincts while calling himself Spider-Man. With his psycho teammates, like Bullseye as Hawkeye and Moonstone as Ms. Marvel, Gargan’s Spider-Man cut a bloody swathe across the Marvel Universe.
First appearance: Osborn #1 (2011)
Created by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Jamie McKelvie
After the fall of the first team of Dark Avengers, Osborn tried again, and he still get a kick out of pooping on Spider-Man's name. Osborn’s second Spidey was a South American Spider God transformed into a six armed version of Spider-Man.
Ai Apaec was dispatched when he was shrunk down by the Avengers and squished by USAgent. A fitting end for a disgusting monstrosity, that’ll learn ya to masquerade as our hero, you six armed freak. *
* Den of Geek would like to apologize to any followers of ancient archaic South American proto-religions that worship spider monsters.
First appearance: The Infinity War #1 (1992)
Created by Jim Starlin, Ron Lim, and Al Milgrom
Speaking of disgustingly horrific, multi-limbed versions of Spidey, we have this thing.
The Spider-Doppelganger was created by the villainous Magus, himself a clone of Adam Warlock, and was really the only monster clone that stuck around the MU after Infinity War. Spider Doppelganger (holy crap, is that a pain in the ass to type) had all the powers of Spider-Man, but looked like Steve Ditko’s worst LSD nightmare.
Doppie played a huge role in the ultra-popular, not as good as most people seem to remember, "Maximum Carnage" mega-event, where he became sort of a weird pet to Cletus Kasady. It should be noted that Doppie’s Toy Biz figure produced in 1996 completely ruled.
First appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #367 (1992)
Created by David Michelinie and Jerry Bingham
Blood Spider was an evil version of Spider-Man hired by the Red Skull and trained by Taskmaster. You know when your origin involves two guys with skulls for heads, you’re an evil S.O.B. Blood Spider was last seen trying to kill Venom. It didn’t go well. Blood Spider teamed up with evil versions of Hawkeye and Captain America named Jagged Bow and Death Shield because the '90s.
First Appearance: Spidey Super Stories #25 (1977)
Created by Jim Salicrup, Nicola Cuti, Bill Mantlo, and Win Mortime
Before the Scarlet Spider, before the "Clone Saga," there was Web Man, a villainous clone who wore an awesome inverse of the classic Spider costume. Web Man’s only appearance was in the Electric Company’s Spidey Super Stories comics for young readers.
Web Man was created by Dr. Doom. How many one-off villains produced for an educational comic can say that? Say what you will, Web Man’s one story was more clean, concise, and entertaining than any part of the "Clone Saga." So take a bow Web Man, you may be all but forgotten, but you got the clone thing right. Seriously though, that is a really cool costume. But yeah, Dr. Doom must have spent two whole seconds coming up with that name.
What do you want from a villain who thought Doombot was clever?
Turkish Spider-Man (1973)
OK, brace yourself now. 3 Giant Men (AKA: Captain America and Santo vs. Spider-Man; Turkish: 3 Dev Adam) features an evil Spider-Man taking on a Turkish Captain America and Mexican Wrestler El Santo.
No, I haven’t gotten into Grant Morrison’s stash. This is real:
So how does a Mexican wrestler team-up with a Turkish version of the living embodiment of America to take on an evil version of a famous super-hero? Who the heck knows, but in this nightmarish thing posing as a movie, Spider-Man uses guinea pigs as weapons and survives certain death multiple times.
There seem to be four different evil Spider-Men that survive Captain America and El Santo. In one scene, Spider-Man kills a nice young couple in cold blood and then steals a statue...I have no idea why.
The whole emo dance sequence in Spider-Man 3 doesn’t seem so bad now, does it? God, would I love to have been in the writers’ room for this one.
“No, no, clearly this movie needs a Mexican wrestler!”
“Yeah, in America, he is a hero, but in our film, statue-stealing thrill killer. That will rake in the liras!”
First appearance: Ultimate Fallout #4 (2011)
Created by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli
When Marvel killed off the Ultimate version of Peter Parker -- seemingly for good -- fans thought the House of Ideas must have lost their ever loving minds. Then they met Miles Morales, and most fans who gave the young new hero a chance, fell in love.
Miles came to the MU with his own supporting cast, his own set of problems and motivations, and most importantly, Peter Parker himself plays the Uncle Ben role to Miles. So by extension, Uncle Ben’s universal lesson of power and responsibility extends to Miles through Peter, and that’s pretty cool.
Miles continues his adventures, filling the late Peter’s shoes so nicely in the pages of Ultimate Spider-Man. Miles is more than just a flash in the pan, a place holder till Peter comes back, he is a true legacy character, and an everyman that lives the legend of Spider-Man. After the events of Secret Wars, Miles and many of his supporting cast have been shunted into the Marvel Universe proper and has taken his proper place as part of the mainstream Marvel pantheon of heroes. His diverse background makes him one of the most important new characters of the 21st Century.
Electric Company Spider-Man (1974-1975)
Many fans, who are now in their forties, were first exposed to Spider-Man through the educational public access show, The Electric Company.
The Electric Company’s Spidey appeared in shorts during the fourth and fifth season of the show, and saw the Wall Crawler communicate through word balloons designed to help the young viewers learn sight words. Not a bad idea actually. Many of these shorts were narrated by Morgan Freeman, which is 78 kinds of awesome.
Over the course of 2 seasons worth of shorts, educational Spidey took on such menaces as the Fox, Silly Willy, the Sandman (not the cool Sandman, but some dude that dresses as Wee Willy Winkle), the Yeti, the Bookworm, and the Sack (Stop that now!). The Electric Company Spidey suit was actually pretty cool, and the whole thing still has a wonderfully wholesome nostalgic feel, as the shorts remain a vital part of many fans’ Spidey evolution.
Attention Dan Slott and Brian Michael Bendis, we dare you to revive Silly Willy or the Sack. We dare you.
Japanese TV Spider-Man (1978)
Yeah, yeah, yeah, wow! So this exists:
In 1978, Marvel and the Toei Company signed a character exchange agreement where each company could use the others’ properties in their respective countries. This led to the Shogun Warriors comic in America and a Tomb of Draculaanimated film in Japan.
Not to mention this gem.
The Japanese Spider-Man stuck pretty close to Marvel’s version except for the fact that Japanese Spidey was a motorcycle racer named Takuya Yamashiro who found a UFO and was given super powers. He also used a giant mech named Leopardon. You know, exactly like Lee and Ditko envisioned. By the way, the name of the UFO was the Marveler and it was from the planet Spider.
This Spider-Man goes up against the Iron Cross Army, led by Professor Monster and the Amazoness, who use giant monsters called Bems to attack Spidey. Spidey frequently uses the Leopardon to defeat the Bems. I love this sentence.
By the way, one episode featured a song called "Spider-Man Boogie" (which is seriously the best thing ever). Thank you for this, Asia. Seriously. Thank you.
First appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #149 (1975)
Created by Gerry Conway and Ross Andru
It all started out innocently enough. DC had great success with alternate version of Batman and Superman, and Marvel wanted in on the fun, so they brought back the Jackal-created Spider Clone that first appeared and was destroyed in The Amazing Spider-Man #149 by Gerry Conway and Ross Andru.
Dubbed Ben Reilly, the Spider Clone actually lived, dyed his hair blond, and had lived a life away from Peter. Now Ben was back, and Spider-Man had to deal with the fact that there was another version of him running around.
Ben soon donned the Scarlet Spider costume, and other than an inexplicable hoodie, it was all pretty cool. That is, until Marvel revealed that Ben was the REAL Peter and Peter was the clone, basically telling fans the last 20 years of Spidey stories had starred the wrong Spidey. It was all a not so clever way to get rid of Spidey’s marriage to Mary Jane, but it didn’t work at all, as fans rejected the idea that their Spidey was the false Spidey. Instead of cutting their losses, Marvel decided to keep the story running for two whole years, and introducing more and more clones till the whole thing got more convoluted than six DC reboots.
Want to know how it ends?
Spoiler:Marvel lost 100,000 readers. The end.
Ben did spend a long time as Spider-Man in his own distinct costume, and even participated in the Marvel and DC crossover, defeating Superboy. Ben could have been a pretty cool character, as Marvel would prove later with the second Scarlet Spider, but poor Ben remains a symbol of '90s excess, a marketing idea gone horribly, horribly wrong.
Or does he? Because after the events of The Clone Conspiracy, Ben Reilly has returned. At first a misguided villain, Reilly is trying to redeem himself by becoming a hero once again. Once one of the most reviled concepts in the Marvel Universe, Ben Reilly is now starring in a vastly entertaining book written by the legendary Peter David. So not so fast Spider-Fans, there might be some greatness in this once hated character.
First appearance: Marvel Versus DC #3 (1996)
Created by Karl Kesel and Mike Wieringo
The Amalgam Universe was a mash-up universe where Marvel and DC’s biggest stars were joined together like brightly clad, heroic Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Characters like Dark Claw (Wolverine and Batman) and Super Soldier (Captain America and Superman) fascinated fans in two separate months of crossover events.
The only issue with Spider-Boy was, and I say this with all due respect to Superboy, that the modern Superboy was just not as iconic as Spider-Man, so fans kind of just raised an eyebrow at this oddity.
At the time, Spider-Man was a clone, as was Superboy, so you can see why the powers that be thought this sort of thing was clever. But it was all just a mish mash of stuff from Spider-Man and Superboy mythos.
Spider-Boy was created by Project: Cadmus and raised by Thunderbolt Ross (wait that’s a Hulk character...You know what, just go with it). The mash-up hero could walk on walls and had a web pistol. He also took the identity Pete Ross (traditionally Superboy’s BFF), so there really wasn’t much Spider-Man about him at all.
Oh well, Spider-Boy had a terrific creative team, so he had that going for him. Web pistol?
First appearance: As Kaine -- Web of Spider-Man #119 (1994)/As Scarlet Spider -- Scarlet Spider #1 (2012)
Created by Terry Kavanagh and Steven Butler
Ah, Kaine, good old Kaine, who in recent years proved that the wholeclone thing could work if done right. Originally, Kaine was a rejected Spider-Clone who went bad. He became a major thorn in the side of Ben Reilly and Peter Parker, and served as an anti-hero/straight up villain throughout the ponderous "Clone Saga."
In recent years, Kaine returned, and because he is engrained with Peter Parker’s sense of responsibility, reluctantly became the Houston, Texas-based vigilante, the new Scarlet Spider. Kaine’s solo book rocked and showed the story potential of a Spider-Clone that didn’t actively piss on two decades of continuity.
Kaine is currently running with a brand-spanking-new team of New Warriors, another great book worthy of any Spider-Fan's attention.
First appearance: The Spectacular Spider-Man #222 (1995)
Created by Tom DeFalco and Sal Buscema
Spidercide was the most monstrous clone of Peter Parker, who had all of Spidey’s powers but could also grow and shrink and grow blades from his body. If an alien race observed Earth through mid-90s Marvel, they would believe that every human could grow blades from their body. So thank you mid-90s Marvel for stemming off an invasion of Earth.
Oh yeah, Spidercide sucked.
Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham
First appearance: Marvel Tails #1 (1983)
Created by Tom DeFalco and Mark Armstrong
Wow, for good or for ill, Tom DeFalco sure created a ton of Spider-Man derivatives, but none cooler than Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham.
Long before Homer Simpson sang “Spider-Pig, Spider-Pig,” Peter Porker was doing the arachnapig thing with gusto. Peter was once a spider that was bitten by May Porker and was transformed into a pig-spider hybrid.
Peter Porker teamed with Captain Americat and the Goose Rider, and the fact that something called the Goose Rider exists should fill everyone with a blissful warmth.
Who doesn’t love Peter Porker?
Let us not forget Magsquito and Iron Mouse, or Ducktor Doom and Deerdevil. The whole thing is just pure gold, so thank you, Mr. DeFalco, Peter Porker more than makes up for Spidercide.
First appearance: Avengers: The Initiative #3 (2007)
Created by Dan Slott and Stefano Caselli
The Scarlet Spiders were three mysterious men who donned the Tony Stark’s red and gold Spider Armor and served in the Avengers Initiative team. What’s cool about this trio is that Dan Slott created them before he became the writer on Amazing Spider-Man. This was during a time where Peter Parker revealed his identity to the world during the Marvel Civil War.
The Scarlet Spiders lied and said that Peter used to be one of them, raising doubts in the public that Peter was really the true Spider-Man, providing Marvel an out during the whole public identity era of Spider-Man.
Slott never got to use this particular subplot because Mephisto and One More Day happened, but the Scarlet Spiders remains a fascinating curiosity in the Spider-Man mythos and pretty cool characters in their own right. Ironically, the Spiders also turned out to be clones, but not of Peter, but of the little known hero named MVP.
First appearance: As Ollie Osnick -- The Spectacular Spider-Man #72 (Nov 1982)/As Spider-Kid -- Amazing Spider-Man #263/As Steel Spider -- Spider-Man Unlimited #5
Created by Bill Mantlo and Ed Hannigan
Ollie Osnick was once an overweight but brilliant kid who idolized Dr. Octopus. Ollie went on a crime spree after he buildt his own Ock arms. When Spider-man stops Ollie, the shy lad begins idolizing Spidey and becomes the Spider-Kid.
As Ollie gets older, and loses some weight, he becomes the Steel Spider. The Steel Spider’s greatest claim to fame is having one of his real arms eaten by the Mac Gargan Venom.
The MC2 version of the Steel Spider doesn’t have such a tragic fate, as Ollie joins the Avengers in that universe. Ollie also once joined up with the Toad and Frog Man to form the Misfits, and Marvel should get right on giving that trio their own comic.
First appearance Edge of the Spider-Verse #2 (2014)
Created by Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez
No, not vampire or zombie dead, for real dead. So Spider-Gwen has become quite the thing, huh? In an alternate universe, it is Gwen Stacy who gains the proportionate strength and powers of a spider and Peter Parker who takes a dirt nap, inspiring Gwen to use her powers to help others.
After Gwen received her powers, she began fighting crime as Spider-Woman. Peter Parker was inspired by this new hero and injected himself with a serum that transformed him into this reality’s Lizard. This ended up with Peter dead and Gwen broken hearted but inspired to make sure this kind of tragedy never happens again. So in the Gwen-verse, Peter never became Spider-Man, ended up becoming the Lizard, and is now six feet under because who besides Curt Conners thinks it’s a good idea to just inject lizard DNA into one’s arm?
Oh well, this dead Peter was a dope...but an inspirational dope because he pointed Spider-Gwen in the right heroic direction after he lizard died.
First appearance: Edge of the Spider-Verse #2 (2014)
Created by Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez
William Braddock is exactly like Peter Parker, except Braddock is British, a member of the Captain Britain Corps, blond, a punk rocker, and did we mention he’s British? Spider-Man UK (who’s British) was introduced in the Spider Verse saga and eventually joined the Web Warriors. As we mentioned, he is also a Captain Britain so that’s like being Spider-Man and Captain America all mashed together...except for the nationality thing. There was no Brexit with Braddock as he loyally serves with his fellow Spidey’s in the Web Warriors.
So there you have it. All the Spider-Mans! Spider-Men? Spider-Mens? Remember, no matter the country, planet, or reality - with great power comes great responsibility. Except in Turkey, evidently.
Did we miss any of your favorite Spideys? Tell us in the comments! Read more of Marc Buxton's work here!
We're tracking down every Marvel Universe Easter egg and reference in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Help us out!
This article consists of nothing but Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse spoilers. We have a spoiler-free review right here if you prefer.
Well, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse absolutely delivers everything a Spider-Man fan could possibly want. Who needs the Marvel Cinematic Universe when you've got a movie that tells such a wonderful, compelling story on its own, and one that draws so heavily, and so purely, from Spider-Man mythology, right?
For those of you who want to dig as deep as you can on everything Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has to offer, we give you this (mostly) complete guide to Easter eggs in the movie. If you spot something we missed, mention it in the comments, or give Mike or Gavin a shout on Twitter... and if it checks out, we'll update this and credit you!
Now, let's get swingin'...
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Characters
While the multiverse is, of course, infinite, this movie focuses on a handful of key Spider-people.
Miles Morales was created by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli. He originally appeared in Marvel's (now defunct) Ultimate universe, as the replacement for a very dead Peter Parker. Sound familiar? He's currently part of the main Marvel Universe though.
- The genetically modified spider that gives Miles Morales his powers has the #42 on it, this is straight out of his Ultimate Spider-Man comics origin, as is the stuff about Miles getting into the private school due to winning a lottery.
- Miles is often seen reading a comic called True Life Tales of Spider-Man. The name and the logo recall an actual Marvel series called Untold Tales of Spider-Man, which came out during the 1990s and told stories that happened “in between” important moments in Spidey’s early career. One of the covers is an obvious callback to Amazing Fantasy #15, the first appearance of Peter Parker.
- Names in Miles’ phone include B. Bendis and Sara Pichelli. He'd better have those names in there... they are the people who created him! The pair get another shout out later on, as when Miles accepts who he is, the comic book cover mentions Bendis/Pichelli.
Meanwhile, Miles' Dad’s phone has Peter Parker co-creator Steve Ditko on speed dial. Of course Steve Ditko wasn't really fond of taking phone calls, but it's great to see him referenced here (and, also of course, Stan Lee has his traditional, and first posthumous, cameo).
- Miles wonders how two Spider-Men could exist and for a second we see a comic cover of “Two Spider-Men.” Spider-Men is the first crossover between 616 Peter and Miles.
- This movie takes place about 10 years into this world’s version of Spider-Man’s career. To fill in the blanks, there are loads of visual homages to the three Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies during the scenes establishing who this world’s Spider-Man is, including the restaurant/taxi/spider-sense sequence, the famous bit where Spidey stops the subway on the elevated tracks, the upside-down kiss (initially reversed here with MJ being the one upside down), the horrid dancing from Spider-Man 3, and more. Later in the movie, Spidey’s “broke my back” joke is both another Spider-Man 2 reference and a callback to Tobey Maguire’s back problems/negotiating tactics between the first two movies. There’s also a visual homage to him pulling the Staten Island Ferry together from Spider-Man: Homecoming.
- Peter Parker and Mary Jane are divorced in the older Peter’s world. This is rather surprising to see if you were following the character back in the mid-00s. Joe Quesada really did not like the idea of the two being married because he felt it made Peter too hard to relate to. He had to go through the stunt of having them sell their marriage to Mephisto (the Devil...but from space!) to create a retcon that they never got hitched. Why not just have them straight-up get divorced? Quesada claimed it would age Peter too much and would make him even harder to relate to. Meanwhile this movie makes a 40-year old Peter Parker going through a midlife crisis as easy to relate to as any version of the character in history, but whatever.
- Peter burying Aunt May might also be viewed as a reference to when Aunt May originally died in The Amazing Spider-Man #400 in 1995. It was a beautiful story where Aunt May revealed she's known Peter was Spider-Man for years. That too got undercut by horrible comic book writing to "de-age" the character. It was revealed the May who died was really an actress hired by the Green Goblin to play mind games while the real May was sedated in... you know what, don't ask.
- Spider-Man Noir comes from a brief line when Marvel released miniseries that reimagined their characters as grounded 1930s-1940s counterparts. For instance, X-Men Noir was about a group of grifters with special gifts (ie. Rogue’s ability to perfectly steal someone’s identity) opposing a corrupt police force. Spider-Man Noir received two miniseries and appeared to be the only hero of that line to have actual powers. His origin is rather ill-explained, where he’s bitten by what appears to be mystical spiders and hallucinates seeing a spider god.
- Spider-Gwen made her first appearance in Edge of Spider-Verse #2, created by Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez. There are a lot of differences in her reality, but one of them is that Gwen Stacy was the victim of the radioactive spider bite instead of Peter Parker. The gist of her quick backstory from the movie very much lines up with the comics. This includes the fact that her boyfriend Peter turned himself into the Lizard after being broken down from constant bullying. Spider-Gwen fought the Lizard a little too hard with the offense and ended up killing him by accident.
She also plays in the Mary Janes, a band also made up of Mary Jane Watson, Betty Brant, and Glory Grant.
Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham (typing that will never, ever get old) first appeared in a one-shot comic in 1983 called (seriously) Marvel Tails, and then went on to headline his own book. He is exactly what you expect.
Peni Parker and Sp//dr first appeared in Edge of Spider-Verse #5, and they were created by Jake Wyatt and My Chemical Romance's own Gerard Way.
Believe it or not, this is only a small sampling of the Spider-Men of the Spider-Verse out there. We have a complete guide to all of them right here.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Comics Easter Eggs
- Throughout the movie, there are loads of great references to printed comic book storytelling, like using the captions as thought balloons, Ben-day dots for effect, sound effects on screen, and more.
- On a monitor when Kingpin’s scientists were turning on the particle collider during the Spider-Man vs. Green Goblin fight, there are different Earth numbers mentioned like “E-616” and “E-1610.” 616 is the designation for the "main" Marvel Comics Universe.
- Is it us, or does Mary Jane in this movie look like J. Scott Campbell art?
- The shot of Uncle Ben “dying” looks an awful lot like one of the covers of Ultimate Spider-Man: Death of Spider-Man where we see Peter and Ben walking into the afterlife together.
- The pink-haired girl from Miles’ old school might be a reference to the Ultimate Comics version of Kate Bishop, who dated Miles for a bit.
- The revelation that this Spidey is blond feels like a slight nod to the Ben Reilly era of the character. Essentially (hoo-boy) in the ‘90s Marvel had this awful idea called The Clone Saga. In it, Peter Parker retires as Spider-Man and is replaced by his clone, who, to distinguish himself from Peter, dyes his hair and takes the name Ben Reilly (Ben after his Uncle, and Reilly being Aunt May’s maiden name).
- Peter plans to take Miles under his wing, but dies. In an issue of Ultimate Spider-Man, Miles and his friends discuss how things probably would have worked out if Peter survived. Miles admits that although he never got to meet his universe’s Peter Parker, he feels that Peter would have been his mentor.
Spidey's Secret Headquarters
- In Spider-Men, 616 Peter does visit Ultimate Aunt May’s home. Although things work out in the end, her initial reaction is to attack him until Miles (who she knows) explains that he’s the real deal. Bonus! Aunt May appears to have her furniture covered in plastic. That's a nice detail for anyone who has an elderly relative living in the boroughs of NYC. It's basically standard issue.
- Pretty sure you can spot “The Rose” on the wall with the chart of the Fisk family in Spidey’s hideout.
- The infamous Spider-Mobile is on display in the late-Spider-Man’s lair. The Spider-Mobile was always a merchandise-driven creation, the irony being that Peter Parker didn't actually know how to drive. Why? Well, for starters, he lives in New York City. If you grow up here, there's little reason for you to drive. More importantly, he got his powers at 15 or 16, and the driving age in New York is 16. Why bother learning to drive when you can web swing?
- Suits in the lair include the video game costume, Iron Spider suit, stealth suit, MCU suit. The caped one is from What If v.1 #19 (he stopped the thief and remained an entertainer). One of them is Spider-Man from Exiles, coming from a world where Peter Parker wore the Carnage symbiote. Another is Peter's "Stealth Suit" from the bizarre "Big Time" era in recent comics (whwere Peter was basically turned into Tony Stark/Bruce Wayne). It is the one with a big green emblem on an overall black attire. One would think the neon green undercuts the idea of stealth, but whatever. Also the way the costumes are aligned under glass feels intentionally evocative of the way Bruce Wayne displayed his and all of his sidekick's old costumes in Batman Beyond.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Villains
Now, let's talk baddies...
- There have been several characters to assume the identity of the Prowler. The character has been kicking around the Marvel Universe since 1969 (as Hobie Brown), before a guy named Rick Lawson took over the role. But neither of those are the guy on screen here...
It was the Ultimate Universe Prowler who was Aaron Davis, Miles Morales' uncle, and he didn't come around until Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #1 in 2011.
It's kind of amazing that this is Wilson Fisk's first appearance in a Spider-Man movie, especially given the popularity of the character both in the comics on TV. (He was previously portrayed by Michael Clarke Duncan in the 2003 Daredevil movie). Liev Schrieber manages to deliver a different enough performance from Vincent D'Onofrio's to make it his own though.
- Kingpin is haunted by the rejection and deaths of his wife Vanessa and son Richard. In the comics (and especially the Daredevil Netflix series), Vanessa is a lot more open to Wilson’s dark dealings. In the main comics, Richard was an adult and hated his father, though never sure whether to usurp him as a villain or betray him as a hero. In the end, he was shot dead by Vanessa.
- The closest counterpart to the movie’s depiction of Richard Fisk is in Punisher MAX, where he was an 8-year-old boy. Wilson Fisk coldly allowed him to die in a hostage situation rather than give himself up to an enemy and Vanessa forever hated him for it.
- Kingpin has a flashback role in the comic Spider-Men II, where he inspires the story's villain to enact a plot very similar to the movie. It's revealed that Earth-616 did in fact have its own Miles Morales prior to the Ultimate Universe one showing up. This Miles was a longtime BFF of Wilson Fisk since their days in prison, but he wanted to leave his life behind and disappear with his wife Barbara. Fisk removed every trace of his identity and allowed him to move on. After Barbara's death, Fisk comforted his old friend and told him about the concept of checking alternate realities for a living and single Barbara. Fisk admits to thinking of using that kind of technology to find another Vanessa.
- Kingpin’s bodyguard is Tombstone, otherwise known as Lonnie Thompson Lincoln. Created by Gerry Conway and Alex Saviuk back in 1988, Tombstone is an albino with the strength and fighting skill that makes him capable of trading blows with Spider-Man. He tends to exist as a mafia figure for the most part instead of a cackling supervillain and has indeed worked for Kingpin in the comics once or twice.
- Dr. Olivia Octavius is an original character. Or as original as you can get for being a gender-flipped Otto Octavius. That’s kind of the point of the twist is. That said, there have been at least two female versions of Doc Ock in the comics. The most famous one is Carolyn Trainer, who took the mantle back during the Clone Saga days after Kaine snapped Otto’s neck. More recently, the Web-Warriors gained an ally in Octavia Otto, a member of the Young Avengers from a world where Spider-Man is the villain.
- Dr. Octavius talks up alternate universes and describes them as “WHAT IF to Infinity,” referencing Marvel’s famous alternate history comics as well as their most famous crossover events (and live action movies).
- The version of Green Goblin seen on the screen in this movie feels very much like the Ultimate version of the character, where Norman Osborn had actually mutated himself into a hulking green beast, rather than dressing like a goblin.
- This is a different version of Scorpion than we've seen in any movie, animated series, or game. Any ideas where he's pulled from? In any case, this is Scorpion's first shot at the big time on the big screen, although there's an excellent chance he'll appear in a future live action Spidey movie, as Mac Gargan was played by Michael Mando in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
- During the sequence showing off Spidey's villains (most of whom make more substantial appearances in the movie), you can see a quick flash of Rhino at one point, but he doesn't seem to appear anywhere else in the movie.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Video Game References
- The shot of Peter Spider-Man crawling upside down towards the viewer looks exactly like the cover to the great PS1 game.
- Spidey does the “finger guns” like he does in the amazing PS4 video game.
Miscellaneous Spidey Stuff
- When Miles goes to his Uncle Aaron’s house, the episode of Community (“Anthropology 101”) with Donald Glover in a Spidey T-shirt is on TV. This visual was one of the main inspirations for Miles Morales’ very creation. Glover himself has voiced Miles on Ultimate Spider-Man: Web-Warriors and played the live-action version of Aaron Davis in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
- It’s not an Easter egg, but this movie has a terrific use of Black Sheep’s “The Choice is Yours,” a guaranteed party starter whenever it drops anywhere. Later in the movie there’s an appropriately cheesy use of “St. Elmo’s Fire.”
- Billboards in Times Square include: From Dusk til Shaun (the Shaun of the Dead sequel we deserve) and John Mulaney and Nick Kroll in “Hi, Hello.” Also a cartoon called Clone College (uh-oh...don't say "clone" around Spider-Man fans) and a toy called Mr. Tomato Head.
Elsewhere in New York City you can spot signs that say “Bendis” (another nod to Brian Michael Bendis, Miles' co-creator) and “Romita Ramen” (for John Romita Sr. and Jr...both of whom have made their mark on the Spidey mythos...but especially sr.)
- The shot of Peter sitting behind the desk, up to his shoulders, is from the ‘67 cartoon and lives on in meme form. This includes the infamous “And I’m just sitting here masturbating” memes, which was specifically referenced in a Web-Warriors comic when Spider-Gwen visited that cartoon’s world.
- Miles’ Spider-Man costume Halloween mask looks exactly like the old, cheap plastic Ben Cooper mask, right down to the nose holes.
- Did you know this movie almost featured a Doctor Strange cameo? Well...it almost did! More details here!
- I couldn’t tell for sure, but a piece of art in the underground area looked an awful lot like Leon: The Professional.
- Spider-Ham’s “That’s all folks!” is...well...you know where that's from. Wait...is he even allowed to say that?
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Post-Credits Scenes
The initial end credits include at least two references to Spider-Man ‘67 stills that became popular. One is an image of Spider-Man sitting behind a desk while the wall behind him is covered in framed photos of himself. Another is the “hay” image, where Spider-Man was laying down on a train track. Despite the intent of the animated scenes, the way he’s posing makes it look more like a sexual invite. Earth-67 is where the 1967-1970 Spider-Man cartoon takes place. The footage originates from the season one episode “Double Identity.”
Spider-Man 2099 is Miguel O’Hara, an Alchemax employee from the future who accidentally gave himself spider powers. Taking up the mantle of Spider-Man, he was the first of many hero reprisals from that era. He has teamed up with his past counterpart on various occasions and has taken part in his share of dimensional team-ups.
Funny enough, the movie had set up Spider-Man 2099's appearance way earlier, as Alchemax was introduced in the Spider-Man 2099 comics as a mega-corporation that does everything from pharmaceuticals to privatizing the police force. Only recently has Marvel created a modern-day take on the company, revealing it to be Liz Allen’s Allen Company after absorbing Oscorp and Horizon Labs.
Get ready to meet one of the most important Aquaman villains of all time! Here's the history of Black Manta.
Black Manta has been a fan favorite villain for decades, and now, moviegoers are about to be introduced to one of the (if not the) most important Aquaman villains ever, when Yahya Abdul-Mateen II puts on the iconic helmet in James Wan's Aquaman movie. And it’s about time.
But how much do you know about this unique villain? Join use as we delve into the ocean depths and discover the history of the enigmatic, helmeted Aquaman villain. It's a history that reveals three separate origins, infanticide, and torture. Intrigued yet? Well, hop onto the giant seahorse of history (what?) and read on...
The Early Days
In the Golden Age and early Silver Age, Aquaman wasn’t really known for his A-list rogues gallery. He fought pirates, sea monsters, and odd duck aliens, but nothing really super compelling. Then, Black Manta came along and things changed (sing it, Sebastian!) under the sea.
Black Manta first appeared in Aquaman #35 (1967) and was created by Bob Haney and Nick Cardy. In an odd bit of business, when Aquaman and his family first encounter Black Manta, the Sea King acts like he has encountered the underwater villain before. Haney and Cardy proceeded as if Manta was a long time Aquaman foe instead of a newly-introduced threat to the world of Atlantis. Perhaps this was to make Manta seem important right away or maybe it was to give readers a sense that Aquaman actually did have a cadre of threatening villains.
In this initial appearance, Manta poisons the waters around Atlantis and battles an amnesiac Ocean Master. For those not in the know, Ocean Master is actually Aquaman’s evil brother, but at the time of Manta’s debut, Ocean Master, real name Orm, was suffering from memory loss. So Orm helps Aquaman defeat Black Manta and it’s kind of cool that Manta and Ocean Master share page time in Manta’s debut. After all, the two villains serve as duel threats in theAquaman movie.
Interestingly, Manta also kidnaps Aquaman’s son Arthur Jr., aka Aquababy ( yeah, I know) in this sotry. Aquaman, Mera, and Ocean Master rescue the infant Prince of Atlantis, but when Black Manta next encounters Aquababy, things take a darker turn. Wait for it...
Meanwhile, at the Hall of Doom...
Most comic fans of a certain age know Black Manta from the Super Friends cartoon. This classic ‘toon is probably the reason why so many people think Aquaman is a joke (nice sea sled!), but Black Manta really was a standout Saturday morning superstar. His voice (performed by Ted Cassidy (Hell yeah, Lurch from The Addams Family), was chilling and really captured the imagination. In a bit of early animation genius, the Super Friends version of Black Manta’s eyes would blink as the distorted voice of Cassidy rung out.
I think all us oldster comic fans have been dying for an accurate big screen Black Manta ever since the formative days of the Super Friends. So thank you, James Wan. Thank you.
Infanticide. No, really.
For over a decade, Black Manta was a constant threat to Aquaman and Atlantis. But not much was known about this him until Adventure Comics #452 (1977) by David Michelinie and Jim Aparo. In this issue, Black Manta finally unmasks (unhelmets?), and it's revealed that the man behind the bulbous battle helmet was an African-American man trying to conquer the undersea realms to find a home for his people.
Manta then kidnapped Aquababy once again, and using Arthur Jr. as a hostage, Manta forced Aquaman and Aqualad to fight to the death. Manta traps the infant in a shrinking bubble of air as Aquaman has no choice but fight his heroic adopted son Aqualad. Aquaman attempts a rescue, but it is too late, and Aquababy drowns in the air bubble.
Yeah, Black Manta violently and horrifically kills his arch enemy’s infant son. That wasn't done much in the comics of the era. This solidified Black Manta as one of DC’s most evil villains. I mean, does Luthor kill a baby? Penguin? Crazy Quilt? I think not. Black Manta is one cold bastard, make no mistake. There's your Aquaman 2 story, folks.
Even after the whole murdering a baby thing, Black Manta didn't have a proper origin story. Decades after his debut, Manta finally received an origin in Aquaman vol. 4 #6 (1992) by Shaun McLaughlin and Ken Hooper. After decades, the creative team revealed that as a boy, Black Manta was kidnapped and forced to work on a ship filled with salty dudes. Lonely, scared, and desperate, the young Black Manta saw Aquaman swim by. On that fateful night, young Manta cried out to Aquaman to save him, but Aquaman failed to act. From then on, Manta held a deep hatred for all things Atlantean, particularly the Sea King.
Now, I get Manta was pissed, but that doesn’t really justify baby murder! Whatever the case, Black Manta’s backstory was told, but like the ocean waves themselves, Manta’s origins proved to be amorphous and ever-changing.
The Other Origin
Which brings us to Aquaman vol. 6 #8 (2003) by Rick Veitch and Yvel Guichet. The spurned by a Sea King origin didn’t stick, so a number of years later DC attempted to come up with another backstory for Black Manta. And this one is as dark as the bottom of the deepest ocean trench.
In this second attempt at a Black Manta origin, it is revealed that as a boy, Manta had severe sensory issues as he could not stand the feel of cotton and the only thing that can calm the future villain was immersion into cold water. The poor kid was put in Arkham Asylum where the staff would frequently restrain him on his bed...with cotton sheets. Later, the boy was a subject of cruel experimentation. His mind cleared, but severe violent tenancies were unleashed. Growing up, the tormented boy was fascinated by Aquaman and, yikes, there you go.
Watch Super Friends now and imagine Black Manta as a person on the spectrum victimized by ignorance and cruel torture. Yikes.
Brightest Day, Young Justice, and the Other OTHER Origin
It can be reasonably said that the legacy of Black Manta owes as much to animation as it does to comics. That animated legacy continued in the Young Justice animated series (it’s coming back!). In this milestone piece of DC animation, Black Manta’s son was introduced, a heroic young man who would go on to become Aqualad. This all new Aqualad had to overcome his father’s vile legacy to take his rightful place besides Young Justice.
This idea of Black Manta as a father was shunted over into the comics by Geoff Johns in 2011’s Brightest Day miniseries. Before the events of Brightest Day, Aquaman was believed dead. At peace, with his arch nemesis sleeping with the fishes, Black Manta retired from his life of baby murder and opened a fish market. When the Sea King is resurrected (because comics!), Black Manta goes mad, murders all his customers, and once again dons his distinctive ginormous helmet and returns to his life plunder and death.
During this return, Manta learns that he has a son, and, after decades, readers finally learn that Manta’s real name is David Hyde. Hyde was once a young husband and treasure hunter. When he and his wife were exploring the Bermuda Triangle, they were kidnapped by violent brigands from the sea realm of Xebel. You know else is from Xebel? Mera, that’s who. David Hyde’s wife was pregnant at the time and David, mom to be, and unborn baby were experimented on. What’s with the baby violence?
The infant was given hard water powers and fearing that the cruel Xebels would use the infant as a weapon, Mera rescues the child. Later, Manta and his child Aqualad are reunited during the events of Brightest Day. It seems after over four decades, Black Manta had an origin that stuck-and a family.
The New 52...and ANOTHER Origin
Well, until the New 52, that is. With the reboot of DC continuity, the new Aqualad, the son of Black Manta was gone, and Manta was a mystery once again. Here, Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis added another piece to the Manta puzzle. In these issues, readers learn that, years before the first confrontation between Manta and Aquaman, the Sea King had killed Manta’s father. This creates a need for vengeance within the black heart of Black Manta. This is, unsurprisingly, the version most similar to the one we see on screen in the Aquaman movie.
The New 52 version of Black Manta was front and center in the Forever Evil crossover event and also worked with the Suicide Squad. Hey, James Gunn, welcome to the DCU! Now, perhaps put Black Manta into your Suicide Squad 2 script?
King Orm of Atlantis is one of the most important Aquaman villains. Here's everything you need to know about Ocean Master.
The oceans will boil with brotherly hatred when the Aquaman movie hits theatres. The war between Arthur Curry and his conniving brother Orm, the Ocean Master, for the Throne of Atlantis has long been a staple of the legend of Aquaman. It's a Shakespearean struggle that is perfect for the big screen.
We already covered the history of one undersea baddie in Black Manta, so let's take a look at the other film villain, King Orm, the Ocean Master. We’ve said it before, prior to the Silver Age, Aquaman never really had an A-list rogues gallery, but that all changed with the arrival of Ocean Master. So let’s take a look at this homicidal, regicidal, fratricidal madman, the would be king... Orm, the Ocean Master!
The Early Days
Ocean Master first appeared in Aquaman #29 (1966) and was created by Bob Haney and Nick Cardy, the same legendary creators that dreamt up Black Manta. In this classic tale, the cover blurb asks, “Aquaman a coward?” as Haney and Cardy unfold the Sea King’s first battle with Black Manta. Over the course of the debut, Aquaman keeps running (swimming) away from Ocean Master every time the new baddie rears his finny head. Aqualad looks on aghast as the always brave Aquaman tucks his gills, pees himself a little, and flees from the freshly debuted Ocean Master again and again. In his first appearance Ocean Master tries to blackmail the world’s navies by trapping a ship in an iceberg and implanting a whale with a device that causes disaster wherever the whale goes. Wait, really? Whoah. I love you, comics.
Anyway, as Ocean Master bedevils the world with his killer icebergs and dickhead whales, it is revealed that the villain is actually his half-brother Orm! Gasp! Aquaman tells a shocked Aqualad that the Sea King’s human father remarried after his Atlantean wife, Aquaman’s mom, died. The two humans had a son together and, for some reason, named him Orm. Orm longed for the sea, and when he was hit in the head with a rock, he contracted amnesia and went mad. Still longing for the sea, Orm built himself a high-tech suit and set plans into motion to become an underwater dictator and all around shitheel.
From robbery to visions of monarchy, after his first appearance, Ocean Master decided he would use his technological mastery to take the throne of Atlantis from his brother. In these subsequent battles in the Silver Age, Ocean Master had no memory of his past, but Aquaman knew, making each battle with Orm a personal struggle. Finally, after being possessed by Deadman, Ocean Master regained his memory, and much to his regal brother’s horror, Orm still desired to usurp and destroy Aquaman.
The Revised Origin
In writer Peter David’s early '90s absolutely must read run on Aquaman, King Arthur of Atlantis discovers that Tom Curry was not actually his father. Instead, David revealed that Aquaman was the son of an Atlantaen wizard named Atlan. Atlan, the ol' sea smoothie, got around and had another son with an Inuit woman. So in the post-Crisis era of the DCU, Orm and Arthur were still siblings and Orm was still a fratricidal dick.
The post-Crisis Ocean Master was much more front and center in the DC Universe. In 1995’s Underworld Unleashed event, Ocean Master sells his soul to the devil Neron in return for a power boosting trident. Orm also joins Lex Luthor’s Injustice Gang in the pages of Justice League. This team of evildoers was all considered each of the “Big Seven” Justice League’s perfect foes. This shunted Orm to the big time of DC villainy where he has remained ever since.
The most important post-Crisis Orm revelation (Ormvelation?) came in The Atlantis Chronicles (1990). In this mini-series (which has some of the best fantasy world building this side of Tolkien), it is revealed that the idea of brothers struggling for the throne of Atlantis has been a constant in Atlantaen history. This reveal gives the battle between Orm and Arthur a grand and epic feel. They are each filling the role of an ancient underwater struggle which is all sorts of tragic.
When the DC Universe rebooted in 2011 with the New 52 so did the origin of Orm (Ormigin?). In the new DC continuity, the future Ocean Master was the son of Aquaman’s mother and a member of the Atlantis Elite Guard. When his parents died, Orm found himself as King of Atlantis...until his half-brother Arthur arrived from the surface to take back the throne. This whole bit of high fantasy awesomeness was the brainchild of writer Geoff Johns and it's no coincidence that this is the one inspiring the Aquaman movie version, where Patrick Wilson will wear the stylish Ocean Master helmet.
Throne of Atlantis
Orm’s next major appearance was in the modern classic Throne of Atlantis. In this tale, a surface vessel unwittingly attacks Atlantis. In retaliation, Ocean Master tries to attack Boston and comes face to face with the Justice League. Not knowing the details of the surface attack on Atlantis, Aquaman sides with his brother against the League. During the struggle, Orm tries to flood Boston which if you think about it, would have prevented the Red Sox from winning two World Series and kept the Patriots out of the Super Bowl, so maybe this isn't such a terrible idea. Anyway, by story’s end, Ocean Master is arrested and Aquaman retakes the throne.
Ocean Master escapes prison in the 2013 Forever Evil storyline, but in a delicious twist, instead of reverting to his evil ways, Ocean Master meets and settles down with a single mother named Erin. Orm becomes a father to Erin’s son Tommy, but during the events of the 2018 Mera, Queen of Atlantis mini-series by Dan Abnett (it’s a hidden gem, kids, check it out), Orm is drawn back to the depths to become Ocean Master once again.
As for his powers, Orm’s abilities change with the ages of the character. During the Silver Age, Ocean Master uses high tech weapons to challenge Aquaman. In the post-Crisis DCU, Orm was also powerless until his deal with Neron which gave him the ability to manipulate magical energy through his demonic trident. In the New 52 continuity, Orm has the same powers as Aquaman (minus the talking to fish stuff). The modern Orm uses his trident to control lightning and his crown to summon tsunamis and control water. Pretty badass.
But it is his place as Aquaman’s brother that makes Ocean Master so great. Orm could have been a hero, an adventuring king, but instead, he is a bitter recluse always in his brother’s shadow. And that’s the kind of characterization that makes for great drama.
Ready to learn all about the true king of Atlantis? We've got a guide to Aquaman comics for you.
After so many years of being laughed at, marginalized, and misunderstood, Aquaman is finally getting his due. With the Aquaman movie finally here, it’s hard to imagine a time when the King of Atlantis wasn’t an A-list member of DC’s heroic pantheon. But between the disrespect our poor soggy king has suffered on TV shows like Entourageand in parodies like Robot Chicken, it can be truly said that Aquaman is the Rodney Dangerfield of the superhero set: he gets no respect.
Until now that is! With Jason Momoa starring in Aquaman’s first live action solo outing, Arthur Curry is ready to take his rightful place as a kick-ass fan-favorite. But comic book fans have known for decades that Aquaman is indeed a great superhero. Since the 1940s, Aquaman has been a constant star of DC Comics. In fact, along with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Green Arrow, Aquaman is one of the few DC superheroes who has remained in continuous publication since the 1940s. And yes, there have been some bad Aquaman comics over the years, but there have also been plenty of great ones. To the rest of the world, Aquaman might have been a joke, but to comic fans, he was always worthy of kingly respect.
The Search for Mera
by Steve Skeates and Jim Aparo (1968-1969)
“The Search for Mera” is nestled right in between the era of the Filmation Aquaman cartoon that inspired the sugary cereal-addled brains of so many young DC fans of the '60s and the Super Friends era of the 1970s. You see, Aquaman was an almost constant Saturday morning presence in the 60s-80s. But alas, many of those ‘toons were not kind to Arthur Curry, often highlighting the Sea King’s limited power set and some of the sillier elements of the hero’s history (we’re looking at you Tusky the Walrus).
But embedded between these animated portrayals of Aquaman was this comic book highlight. “The Search for Mera” saw Aquaman embark on his greatest quest after his wife disappears. The desperate search takes him across the oceans, into the clutches of Black Manta, to the surface world, and beyond. Writer Steve Skeates defines Aquaman and his extended family as Jim Aparo delivers some of the greatest interior artwork the character has ever had. This tale proved Aquaman could be a great protagonist in an intense, modern action tale in an era of cartoon camp.
Death of a Prince
by David Michelinie and Jim Aparo (1977-1978)
I mean, who kills a baby? What in the honest hell? Aquaman was a silly character they said. Aquaman is campy, what with the walrus and riding seahorses and the drumming octopus, they said. Aquababy is stupid, they said. Well, in this classic tale, Black Manta freakin’ kills freakin’ Aquababy. So put that in your conch shell and smoke it.
Over at Marvel, people were still shocked over the death of Gwen Stacy in Amazing Spider-Man. David Michelinie was all like, “Hold my beer!” and to top it off, "Death of a Prince" is a damn good story as well. Black Manta kidnaps the infant Prince of Atlantis and forces Aquaman to fight Aqualad. If Aquaman doesn’t kill his sidekick, Manta will kill Aquababy. Aquaman indeed fights Aqualad to create a ruse in order to stage a rescue. But it’s too late, the cute lil’ fish prince drowns. In an air bubble. A wedge is driven between Aqualad and Aquaman and Mera and Arthur are left mourning their infant son. This story arc changed the world of Aquaman forever and instantly transformed Black Manta into one of the most repellant villains in the DCU.
Aquaman Vol. 2 #1-4
by Neil Pozner and Craig Hamilton (1986)
This was Aquaman’s first time in the spotlight after Crisis on Infinite Earths. With absolutely lush art from the great Craig Hamilton, this 1986 mini-series put Aquaman on the trajectory of a high fantasy type character. Foregoing the usual superhero tropes, Pozner and Hamilton present a tale of adventure, betrayal, and magic, fleshing out Aquaman’s origin while connecting DC’s Atlantis to the ancient Atlantis presented in the pages of DC’s Arion, Lord of Atlantis, giving the whole thing a pulpy, old school fantasy feel that would drive the character for decades to come.
The series also presents a new look at Aquaman’s evil brother Ocean Master, but most fans will recognize this series for the intro of a new costume, an ocean camo bit of hyper designed awesomeness that was sadly short lived. I mean, don’t disrespect the orange and green, but there’s something to be said for the sleek beauty of this regal suit.
The Legend of Aquaman
by Keith Giffen, Robert Loren Fleming, and Curt Swan (1989)
After the epic blue camo Aquaman had run his course, writers Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Fleming along with the single greatest Superman artist of all time (and I’ll fight you if you disagree) Curt Swan brought back the classic look Aquaman in this fun reimagining of the character’s origin.
This special revealed that Aquaman’s iconic orange and green outfit was actually a prison uniform and also ironically reveals where the name Aquaman came from. This is a fun read, but really, the draw here is the Swan artwork as the artist returns to the classics and shows why Aquaman and his world are always so compelling.
The Atlantis Chronicles
by Peter David and Esteban Maroto (1990)
And now we get to the Peter David era. We’ll talk about what the legendary writer Peter David did for Aquaman in a moment, but before David got busy crafting one of the greatest eras of Aquaman ever, the scribe delved deep into the past of Atlantis.
Before Atlantis Chronicles, the legend of DC’s Atlantis was disjointed at best. There was an Atlantis made up of merpeople as presented in the Superman family of books, there was Aquaman’s Atlantis, and there was a myriad number of Atlantises (Atlanti?) chronicled in books like Sea Devils and Arion. Somehow, in Atlantis Chronicles, David was able to unify all these distinct sunken kingdoms into a cohesive history so fascinating that it would make Tolkien giddy, all the while laying a foundation for the mythos that would drive his Aquaman forward for years to come.
The Peter David Years
with Martin Egelund and Jim Calafiore
Many fans consider Peter David’s Aquaman the high point of the Sea King’s publishing history. In Aquaman: Time and Tide we get yet another take on Aquaman’s origin, infusing the oft told tale with the trademark Peter David humor and pathos. After Time and Tide, David really got rolling and did the unthinkable. Just a few issues into his classic run, Aquaman had his hand devoured by piranha. Soon after, Aquaman forged a harpoon for a hand, grew his hair and beard out, and basically became undersea Conan which is all sorts of awesome.
These stories are peppered with the mythology created for Atlantis Chronicles while finding unique directions for Mera and Aqualad. David added to Aquaman’s supporting cast with Aquaman’s long lost son Koryak and the forgotten DC heroine Dolphin. In this run, Aquaman fights Lobo, visits Hell, invades Japan, and presents a tour of the undersea realms of the DCU. This is not only the best run in the character’s long history, it was also one of DC’s best books of the tail end of the twentieth century.
And you just know there’s going to be a harpoon hand in Jason Momoa's cinematic future as Aquaman.
by Will Pfeifer and Patrick Gleason (2004)
The first real high point of Aquaman in the new century begins with the sinking of San Diego. In American Tidal, Aquaman becomes to the redubbed Sub Diego what Batman is to Gotham City. You see, not only did San Diego sink, the residents were transformed into water breathers and Aquaman must become the city’s protector while solving the mystery of who was behind the sinking of the home of the Padres and Comic Con. This storyline also introduces a new Aquagirl and is basically a six issue treatise on what makes Aquaman and his world so special.
The New 52
with Ivan Reis, Pere Pérez, Pete Woods, and Paul Pelletier (2011-2014)
“The Trench,” “The Others,” “Throne of Atlantis,” Death of a King.” These four stories have become the stuff of Aqua-legend thanks to Geoff Johns, and you'll see elements of all four of them in the Aquaman movie. Even through all the awesome Aqua-tales listed above, in 2011, Aquaman was still considered something of a joke. Through a deep examination of what makes Aquaman so great, Johns put that nonsense to rest forever with a thoughtful group of tales with one foot in the pond of reality and one in the pond of adventure fantasy to present an Aquaman for a new age.
While many of the New 52 titles quickly went belly up, Aquaman endured. During his time on Aquaman, Johns added many elements to the Atlantis mythos and presented a tale that put the tired old Aqua-jokes a much needed burial at sea.
by Dan Abnett, Brad Walker, Phillipe Briones, and more (2016 - 2018)
Taking what Geoff Johns built and turning that sucker up to the next level, Dan Abnett has continued the golden age of Aquaman. Intrigue, betrayal, mayhem, and more action than you can shake a tuna at; Abnett has Song of Ice and Fire-d the world of Aquaman and brought palace intrigue to Atlantis.
Abnett recently wrapped his top notch run on Aquaman, a run that saw Arthur give up the throne to find his place as a hero on both the surface and in the sea, having handed the reins to the brilliant Kelly Sue DeConnick, who will take Aquaman to greater heights...or depths.
The Aquaman movie opens on Dec. 21.
Examining the changes – big and small – made to Philip Reeve's YA novel for the Mortal Engines movie.
This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
Expect massive spoilers for both the Mortal Engines movie and the book...
It can be a little nerve-wracking when one of your favorite books gets adapted to the big screen – there’s always a worry that some of your favourite characters, scenes or plot threads will end up on the cutting room floor, or so radically changed as to be unrecognizable.
In the case of Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines, a sprawling YA novel that’s coming to the big screen under the guidance of Lord Of The Rings director Peter Jackson (who serves as producer on this movie), there’s a significant amount that has been altered or removed. A lot of the material that has been reduced or excised has likely been cut down to keep the film to a sensible length, but sadly while it beautifully realises many iconic locations and concepts from the book, the alterations that have been made have had the inadvertent effect of removing motivations and reducing the characterization of many characters.
Here are the most significant ways in Mortal Engines deviates from Reeve’s original novel.
Magnus Crome is the Lord Mayor of London, but he is a very different character in the original book. In the novel, he’s the head of the guild of engineers, and chooses to garb himself not in the mayor’s traditional robes of office, but in the white rubber lab coat that is his guild’s uniform. In the film, Crome is a traditionalist, who has reservations about bringing London back into the Great Hunting Ground and objects to Valentine’s plans to create and unleash MEDUSA. But the original Crome is, in fact, the driving force behind both plans, using the weapon to ensure London’s survival. In contrast to the film version, he’s a cold, ruthless and highly-intelligent leader.
Undead cyborg warrior Shrike is one of the few characters who makes the jump from page to screen relatively intact. One of the few differences is that when we first see him on screen, he is being kept in a mobile off-shore prison. In the novel, he’s being kept in the headquarters of the guild of engineers, and he’s not there as a prisoner. Instead, Shrike has sought out London, allowing the engineers to examine him with a view to creating more stalkers like him. In exchange for being his guinea pig, Crome promises to turn Hester into a stalker so that the two can be together.
One of the more subtle differences between the book and the film is the decision not to include London’s four governing guilds: the historians, the merchants, the navigators and the engineers. Key figures from many guilds are present in the film - including Lord Mayor Magnus Crome, who in the book is the head of the guild of engineers, and Thaddeus Valentine, who Crome appoints head historian – but no mention is made of the guilds themselves.
The historians and the engineers have significant roles in the sub-plot concerning Katherine Valentine’s investigation aboard London, but the removal isn’t particularly noticeable as this thread has been largely excised from the film. It does, however, rob us of the inclusion of additional stalkers beyond Shrike, which in turn undermines one of the major plot points in the book’s sequels.
The most noticeable difference between the book and the film is Hester’s Shaw’s trademark scar. Given to her by Valentine on the night he killed her mother, Hester’s scar is described as “hideous”, mangling her nose and mouth and even removing one of her eyes. It’s so bad, in fact, that it drives her to hide her face whenever possible. In fact, in one of the pivotal moments in the development of Hester and Tom’s relationship (which sadly also did not make the cut) he buys her a red silk shawl, which she then immediately uses to hide her scar.
The film version, however, has drastically scaled back the severity of Hester’s scar, to the point where it’s often hard to notice it. It no longer runs the length of her face, and doesn’t affect her eyes, nose or mouth. This was presumably done on the basis that it’s harder to market a film when one of its leads looks like they lost a fight with a combine harvester, but it has the effect of making the constant comments about her scar feel odd and out of place.
The Sixty Minute War
The brief but devastating conflict referred to in Mortal Engines as the Sixty Minute War is the calamity that wiped out most of the world’s population and forced people to mobilise their settlements, thousands of years before the events of the plot. In the book, it was conducted with nuclear and biological weapons, but the film takes a slightly different tack, establishing early on that ‘the Ancients’ blew themselves up not with nukes, but with quantum energy-based weapons – the same kind of weapon as MEDUSA.
Thaddeus Valentine’s daughter Katherine is a major character in both the book and the film, but she has a significantly expanded role in the novel. For starters, the truth about Valentine’s past and about London’s development of MEDUSA is revealed through Katherine’s investigation into what happened the night Hester tried to kill her father. This investigation also leads to her forming a short-lived and rather touching relationship with Bevis Pod, an apprentice engineer. Like Katherine, Bevis also appears in the film in a reduced role.
Although in both versions Katherine is partially responsible for shutting down MEDUSA, the novel’s version of events is somewhat more dramatic. After flinging herself in front of Hester to save her from her father’s blade, Katherine collapses onto the keyboard being used to control the weapon, causing MEDUSA to malfunction and overload. In the film, she merely opens the jaws of London, allowing Tom to get inside and destroy the engine. She does, however, survive to the end of the film, whereas she dies in the book.
Looking for a good science fiction read? Check out these new science fiction books released in December 2018.
Books, books, books! Fall is a great time to dive into science fiction and explore other worlds. Here are some of the science fiction books coming out in December that we are most looking forward to here at Den of Geek.
Best New Science Fiction Books in December 2018
Tales From Plexis, edited by Julie e. Czerneda
Type: Anthology set in the world of the Clan Chronicles
Release date: December 4th
Authors explore new corners of the Clan Chronicles universe in an anthology that brings readers into the lives of the alien inhabitants of one of the sci-fi series's most memorable locations
Welcome to one of the iconic settings of the Clan Chronicles: the infamous interstellar shopping extravaganza of the Trade Pact known as Plexis Supermarket! A market and meeting place, Plexis is where pirates rub shoulders with freighter crews, where the rich come to party and the out-of-luck chase that last opportunity, where anything can be bought or sold and only your airtag tells the truth. Most of the time.
Dock your starship, pay your parking fee, and enter. You'll never know what you'll find. Or who you'll meet. Because here, for the first time, Julie E. Czerneda has opened the airlocks to her fellow scribes and lovers of all things Trade Pact to produce this anthology of remarkable, all-original stories.
Learn the beginnings (and kitchen secrets) of the famed Claws & Jaws: Interspecies Cuisine. Solve mysteries. Slip through service tunnels or shop with goldtags!
Want the truth about Turrneds? The Neblokans? How Terk met his partner? More of Raj Plexis and Bowman? The way to Ansel's heart? Kurr di Sarc. Huido. Manouya. Those balloons.
Plexis awaits your pleasure.
Green Jay and Crow by DJ Daniels
Type: Standalone novel
Release date: December 11th
A prescient science fiction vision of humanity and identity in a trans-human world
“I WAS MEANT TO COME TO BARLEWIN, BUT I WAS NEVER MEANT TO STAY.”
The half-forgotten streets of Barlewin, in the shadow of the High Track, are a good place to hide: among the aliens and the couriers, the robots and the doubles, where everyone has secrets.
Like Eva, a 3D-printed copy of another woman, built to be disposable.She should have disintegrated days ago... and she hasn’t.
And now her creator wants her back.
A Bad Deal For the Whole Galaxy by Alex White
Type: Second book in the Salvagers series
Release date: December 11th
The greatest dangers hide the brightest treasures in this bold, planet-hopping science fiction adventure series.The crew of the legendary Capricious are rich enough to retire in comfort for the rest of their days, but none of it matters if the galaxy is still in danger.Nilah and Boots, the ship's newest crew-members hear the word of a mysterious cult that may have links back to an ancient and all-powerful magic. To find it, hot-headed Nilah will have to go undercover and find the source of their power without revealing her true identity. Meanwhile, Boots is forced to confront the one person she'd hoped never to see again: her old, turn-coat treasure-hunting partner.
Best New Science Fiction Books in November 2018
Firefly - Big Damn Hero by James Lovegrove (Story by Nancy Holder)
Type: Canon continuation of the TV series
Publisher: Titan Books
Release date: November 20th
The first original novel tying into the critically acclaimed and much-missed Firefly series from creator Joss Whedon.
The Battle of Serenity Valley was the turning point that led the Independents to their defeat at the hands of the Alliance. Yet the Browncoats had held the valley for weeks against all odds, before being ordered to lay down their arms. Command stated they refused to send in airpower because the ground war was "too hot." But the soldiers who were there insist that was not true...
While picking up a new cargo on Persephone, Captain Malcolm Reynolds is kidnapped by a bunch of embittered veteran Browncoats who suspect him of sabotaging the Independents during the war. As the rest of the crew struggle to locate him, Mal is placed on trial for his life, fighting compelling evidence that someone did indeed betray them to the Alliance all those years ago. As old comrades and old rivals crawl out of the woodwork, Mal must prove his innocence, but his captors are desperate and destitute, and will settle for nothing less than the culprit's blood.
How Long 'til Black Future Month by N.K. Jemisin
Type: Collection of short fiction
Release date: November 27th
Three-time Hugo Award winner N. K. Jemisin's first collection of short fiction challenges and enchants with breathtaking stories of destruction, rebirth, and redemption.N. K. Jemisin is one of the most powerful and acclaimed speculative fiction authors of our time. In the first collection of her evocative short fiction, Jemisin equally challenges and delights readers with thought-provoking narratives of destruction, rebirth, and redemption.Dragons and hateful spirits haunt the flooded streets of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow South must save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises. And in the Hugo award-nominated short story "The City Born Great," a young street kid fights to give birth to an old metropolis's soul.
Bright Light: Star Carrier: Book Eight by Ian Douglas
Type: Book eight in the Star Carrier series
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release date: November 27th
New York Times bestselling military science fiction author Ian Douglas brings us the eighth—and penultimate—Star Carrier novel, Bright Light, combining the best action, adventure, and hard science into this universe-spanning series
There’s no more time . . .
There’s always more time . . .
Trevor Gray has been stripped of his command of the starship America, and is unsure what to do with his life. Having dedicated so much of himself to the service, he knew following the super-AI Konstantin’s advice could have severe consequences. He just never thought he would be out of the fight.
Because that’s what Earth is in: a fight against a sinister alien force that is so technologically advanced, there seems little hope. And that’s why he had disobeyed his orders in the first place: to figure out a way to stop them. But now he’s beached.
Which is just what Konstantin wanted.
For the super-AI has a plan: connect Gray with the Pan-Europeans, and set him on a course to the remote star Deneb. There, he is to make contact with a mysterious alien civilization using the new artificial intelligence Bright Light, and maybe—if they can make it in time—prevent humanity from being wiped from the universe.
Abandoned by W. Michael Gear
Type: Book two in the Donovan series
Release date: November 27th
The second book in a thrilling sci-fi action adventure, set on Donovan, a treacherous alien planet where corporate threats and dangerous creatures imperil the lives of the planet's colonists.
New York Times bestselling author W. Michael Gear returns us to the world he laid out with such sure purpose in Outpost. The struggle for survival sharpens as resources dwindle, technology fails, and the grim reality of life on Donovan unfolds.
Supervisor Kalico Aguila has bet everything on a fragile settlement far south of Port Authority. There, she has carved a farm and mine out of wilderness. But Donovan is closing in. When conditions couldn't get worse, a murderous peril descends out of Donovan's sky--one that will leave Kalico bleeding and shattered.
Talina Perez gambles her life and reputation in a bid to atone for ruthlessly murdering a woman's husband years ago. Ironically, saving Dya Simonov may save them all.
Lieutenant Deb Spiro is losing it, and by killing a little girl's pet alien, she may have precipitated disaster for all. In the end, the only hope will lie with a "lost" colony, and the alien-infested reflexes possessed by Security Officer Talina Perez.
On Donovan, only human beings are more terrifying than the wildlife.
Zero Sum Game by S.L. Huang
Type: First in planned series
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: October 2nd
A blockbuster, near-future science fiction thriller, S.L. Huang's Zero Sum Game introduces a math-genius mercenary who finds herself being manipulated by someone possessing unimaginable power…
Cas Russell is good at math. Scary good. The vector calculus blazing through her head lets her smash through armed men twice her size and dodge every bullet in a gunfight, and she'll take any job for the right price.
As far as Cas knows, she’s the only person around with a superpower...until she discovers someone with a power even more dangerous than her own. Someone who can reach directly into people’s minds and twist their brains into Moebius strips. Someone intent on becoming the world’s puppet master.
Cas should run, like she usually does, but for once she's involved. There’s only one problem...
She doesn’t know which of her thoughts are her own anymore.
Check out our interview with S.L. Huang from this year's New York Comic Con...
Exit Strategy by Martha Wells
Type: Book four in Murderbot Series
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: October 2nd
Martha Wells's Hugo, Nebula, Alex, and Locus Award-winning, New York Times and USA Today bestselling series, The Murderbot Diaries, comes to a thrilling conclusion in Exit Strategy. Murderbot wasn’t programmed to care. So, its decision to help the only human who ever showed it respect must be a system glitch, right?
Having traveled the width of the galaxy to unearth details of its own murderous transgressions, as well as those of the GrayCris Corporation, Murderbot is heading home to help Dr. Mensah—its former owner (protector? friend?)—submit evidence that could prevent GrayCris from destroying more colonists in its never-ending quest for profit.
But who’s going to believe a SecUnit gone rogue?
And what will become of it when it’s caught?
The Rift Coda by Amy S. Foster
Type: Third book in Rift Uprising Trilogy
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release date: October 9th
The exciting, action-packed finale to The Rift Uprising trilogy that rivals the thrills and action of The Hunger Games and Red Rising.
Ryn Whittaker started an uprising. Now she has to end it.
Not long ago, Ryn knew what her future would be—as a Citadel, a genetically enhanced super-soldier, it was her job to protect her version of Earth among an infinite number of other versions in the vast Multiverse at any cost. But when Ezra Massad arrived on Ryn’s Earth, her life changed in an instant, and he pushed her to start asking why she was turned into a Citadel in the first place.
What began as merely an investigation into her origins ended up hurling Ryn, Ezra, and Ryn’s teammate Levi through the Multiverse and headlong into a conspiracy so vast and complex that Ryn can no longer merely be a soldier . . . she must now be a general. And in becoming a true leader, she must forge alliances with unpredictable species, make impossible decisions, and face deep sacrifices. She must lead not thousands, but hundreds of thousands of troops under her command and in doing so, leave any trace of her childhood behind.
Ryn always knew that she was created to fight. But now she must step forward and lead.
The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi
Type: Second in The Interdependency series
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: October 16th
The Consuming Fire—the sequel to the 2018 Hugo Award Best Novel finalist and 2018 Locus Award-winning The Collapsing Empire—an epic space-opera novel in the bestselling Interdependency series, from the Hugo Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author John Scalzi
The Interdependency—humanity’s interstellar empire—is on the verge of collapse. The extra-dimensional conduit that makes travel between the stars possible is disappearing, leaving entire systems and human civilizations stranded.
Emperox Grayland II of the Interdependency is ready to take desperate measures to help ensure the survival of billions. But arrayed before her are those who believe the collapse of the Flow is a myth—or at the very least an opportunity to an ascension to power.
While Grayland prepares for disaster, others are prepare for a civil war. A war that will take place in the halls of power, the markets of business and the altars of worship as much as it will between spaceships and battlefields.
The Emperox and her allies are smart and resourceful, as are her enemies. Nothing about this will be easy... and all of humanity will be caught in its consuming fire.
Red Moon by Kim Stanley Robinson
Type: Standalone novel
Release date: October 23rd
Red Moon is a magnificent novel of space exploration and political revolution from New York Times bestselling author Kim Stanley Robinson.
It is thirty years from now, and we have colonized the moon.
American Fred Fredericks is making his first trip, his purpose to install a communications system for China's Lunar Science Foundation. But hours after his arrival he witnesses a murder and is forced into hiding.
It is also the first visit for celebrity travel reporter Ta Shu. He has contacts and influence, but he too will find that the moon can be a perilous place for any traveler.
Finally, there is Chan Qi. She is the daughter of the Minister of Finance, and without doubt a person of interest to those in power. She is on the moon for reasons of her own, but when she attempts to return to China, in secret, the events that unfold will change everything - on the moon, and on Earth.
Astounding by Alec Nevala-Lee
Type: Standalone non-fiction
Publisher: Dey Street Books
Release date: October 23rd
Astounding is the landmark account of the extraordinary partnership between four controversial writers—John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, and L. Ron Hubbard—who set off a revolution in science fiction and forever changed our world.
This remarkable cultural narrative centers on the figure of John W. Campbell, Jr., whom Asimov called “the most powerful force in science fiction ever.” Campbell, who has never been the subject of a biography until now, was both a visionary author—he wrote the story that was later filmed as The Thing—and the editor of the groundbreaking magazine best known as Astounding Science Fiction, in which he discovered countless legendary writers and published classic works ranging from the I, Robot series to Dune. Over a period of more than thirty years, from the rise of the pulps to the debut of Star Trek, he dominated the genre, and his three closest collaborators reached unimaginable heights. Asimov became the most prolific author in American history; Heinlein emerged as the leading science fiction writer of his generation with the novels Starship Troopers and Stranger in a Strange Land; and Hubbard achieved lasting fame—and infamy—as the founder of the Church of Scientology.
Drawing on unexplored archives, thousands of unpublished letters, and dozens of interviews, Alec Nevala-Lee offers a riveting portrait of this circle of authors, their work, and their tumultuous private lives. With unprecedented scope, drama, and detail, Astounding describes how fan culture was born in the depths of the Great Depression; follows these four friends and rivals through World War II and the dawn of the atomic era; and honors such exceptional women as Doña Campbell and Leslyn Heinlein, whose pivotal roles in the history of the genre have gone largely unacknowledged. For the first time, it reveals the startling extent of Campbell’s influence on the ideas that evolved into Scientology, which prompted Asimov to observe: “I knew Campbell and I knew Hubbard, and no movement can have two Messiahs.” It looks unsparingly at the tragic final act that estranged the others from Campbell, bringing the golden age of science fiction to a close, and it illuminates how their complicated legacy continues to shape the imaginations of millions and our vision of the future itself.
Best New Science Fiction Books in September 2018
The Reincarnated Giant: An Anthology of 21st Century Chinese Science Fiction
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Release date: September 4th
A new wave of Chinese science fiction is here. This golden age has not only resurrected the genre but also subverted its own conventions. Going beyond political utopianism and technological optimism, contemporary Chinese writers conjure glittering visions and subversive experiments—ranging from space opera to cyberpunk, utopianism to the posthuman, and parodies of China’s rise to deconstructions of the myth of national development.
This anthology showcases the best of contemporary science fiction from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the People’s Republic of China. In fifteen short stories and novel excerpts, The Reincarnated Giant opens a doorway into imaginary realms alongside our own world and the history of the future. Authors such as Lo Yi-chin, Dung Kai-cheung, Han Song, Chen Qiufan, and the Hugo winner Liu Cixin—some alive during the Cultural Revolution, others born in the 1980s—blur the boundaries between realism and surrealism, between politics and technology. They tell tales of intergalactic war; decoding the last message sent from an extinct human race; the use of dreams as tools to differentiate cyborgs and humans; poets’ strange afterlife inside a supercomputer; cannibalism aboard an airplane; and unchecked development that leads to uncontrollable catastrophe. At a time when the Chinese government promotes the “Chinese dream,” the dark side of the new wave shows a nightmarish unconscious. The Reincarnated Giant is an essential read for anyone interested in the future of the genre.
Solo: A Star Wars Story: Expanded Edition by Mur Lafferty
Type: Movie adaptation novel
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: September 4th
Though Han Solo has thrilled Star Wars fans for decades, the notorious wisecracking scoundrel was chasing adventure and dodging trouble long before he walked into the cantina at Mos Eisley spaceport. Young Han dreams of someday soaring into space at the helm of his own starship and leaving his home, the gritty industrial planet Corellia, far behind. But as long as he’s trapped in a life of poverty and crime—and under the thumb of the sinister Lady Proxima and her brutal street gang—reaching the distant stars seems impossible. When Han tries to escape with his girlfriend and partner-in-crime, Qi’ra, he makes it out—but she doesn’t. Desperate for a way to find his own offworld vessel and free her, Han enlists in the Imperial Navy—the last place for a rebellious loner who doesn’t play well with others. When the Empire clips his wings, Han goes rogue and plunges into the shady world of smugglers, gamblers, and con artists. There he meets the charming and cunning high roller Lando Calrissian, makes an unlikely friend in a cantankerous Wookiee called Chewbacca, and first lays eyes on the Millennium Falcon. To snag his piece of the outlaw pie, Han joins a crew of pirates to pull off a risky heist. The stakes are high, the danger is great, and the odds are slim. But never tell Han Solo the odds.
Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction
Type: Anthology of short stories
Release date: September 4th
Since it began in 2008, Tor.com has explored countless new worlds of fiction, delving into possible and impossible futures, alternate and intriguing pasts, and realms of fantasy previously unexplored. Its hundreds of remarkable stories span from science fiction to fantasy to horror, and everything in between. Now Tor.com is making some of those worlds available for the first time in print.
This volume collects some of the best short stories Tor.com has to offer, with Hugo and Nebula Award-winning short stories and novelettes chosen from all ten years of the program.
Hidden Sun by Jaine Fenn
Type: First book in Shadowlands duology
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release date: September 4th
An eccentric noblewoman scientist's journey into a hostile environment will change her world forever, in this enthralling fantasy novel.
Rhia Harlyn is a noble in Shen, one of the dozens of shadowlands which separate the bright, alien skyland. She has a missing brother, an unwanted marriage proposal and an interest in science considered unbecoming in her gender. Her brother's disappearance coincided with a violent unsolved murder, and Rhia impulsively joins the search party headed into the skyland - a place whose dangers and wonders have long fascinated her. The dangerous journey brings her into conflict with a young rebel stuck between the worlds of shadow and light, and a charismatic cult leader who believes he can defeat death itself.
The Accidental War by Walter Jon Williams
Type: First novel in trilogy (Set in world of Dread Empire's Fall series)
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release date: September 4th
Blending fast-paced military science fiction and space opera, the first volume in a dynamic trilogy from the New York Times bestselling author of The Praxis, set in the universe of his popular and critically acclaimed Dread Empire’s Fall series—a tale of blood, courage, adventure and battle in which the fate of an empire rests in the hands of a cadre of desperate exiles.
It’s been seven years since the end of the Naxid War. Sidelined for their unorthodox tactics by a rigid, tradition-bound military establishment, Captain Gareth Martinez and Captain the Lady Sula are stewing in exile, frustrated and impatient to exercise the effective and lethal skills they were born to use in fighting the enemy.
Yet after the ramshackle empire left by the Shaa conquerors is shaken by a series of hammer blows that threaten the foundations of the commonwealth, the result is a war that no one planned, no one expected, and no one knows how to end.
Now, Martinez, Sula, and their confederate Nikki Severin must escape the clutches of their enemies, rally the disorganized elements of the fleet, and somehow restore the fragile peace—or face annihilation at the hands of a vastly superior force.
CoDex 1962: A Trilogy by Sjón
Type: Trilogy of novels
Release date: September 11th
Spanning eras, continents, and genres, CoDex 1962—twenty years in the making—is Sjón’s epic three-part masterpiece
Over the course of four dazzling novels translated into dozens of languages, Sjón has earned a global reputation as one of the world’s most interesting writers. But what the world has never been able to read is his great trilogy of novels, known collectively as CoDex 1962—now finally complete.
Josef Löwe, the narrator, was born in 1962—the same year, the same moment even, as Sjón. Josef’s story, however, stretches back decades in the form of Leo Löwe—a Jewish fugitive during World War II who has an affair with a maid in a German inn; together, they form a baby from a piece of clay. If the first volume is a love story, the second is a crime story: Löwe arrives in Iceland with the clay-baby inside a hatbox, only to be embroiled in a murder mystery—but by the end of the volume, his clay son has come to life. And in the final volume, set in present-day Reykjavík, Josef’s story becomes science fiction as he crosses paths with the outlandish CEO of a biotech company (based closely on reality) who brings the story of genetics and genesis full circle. But the future, according to Sjón, is not so dark as it seems.
In CoDex 1962, Sjón has woven ancient and modern material and folklore and cosmic myths into a singular masterpiece—encompassing genre fiction, theology, expressionist film, comic strips, fortean studies, genetics, and, of course, the rich tradition of Icelandic storytelling.
State Tectonics by Malka Older
Type: Third book in Centenal Trilogy
Release date: September 11th
Campbell Award finalist Malka Older's State Tectonics concludes The Centenal Cycle, the cyberpunk poltical thriller series that began with Infomocracy.
The future of democracy must evolve or die.
The last time Information held an election, a global network outage, two counts of sabotage by major world governments, and a devastating earthquake almost shook micro-democracy apart. Five years later, it's time to vote again, and the system that has ensured global peace for 25 years is more vulnerable than ever.
Unknown enemies are attacking Information's network infrastructure. Spies, former superpowers, and revolutionaries sharpen their knives in the shadows. And Information's best agents question whether the data monopoly they've served all their lives is worth saving, or whether it's time to burn the world down and start anew.
Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds by Brandon Sanderson
Type: Collection of novellas
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: September 18th
Stephen Leeds is perfectly sane. It's his hallucinations who are mad.
A genius of unrivaled aptitude, Stephen can learn any new skill, vocation, or art in a matter of hours. However, to contain all of this, his mind creates hallucinatory people—Stephen calls them aspects—to hold and manifest the information. Wherever he goes, he is joined by a team of imaginary experts to give advice, interpretation, and explanation. He uses them to solve problems . . . for a price.
His brain is getting a little crowded and the aspects have a tendency of taking on lives of their own. When a company hires him to recover stolen property—a camera that can allegedly take pictures of the past—Stephen finds himself in an adventure crossing oceans and fighting terrorists. What he discovers may upend the foundation of three major world religions—and, perhaps, give him a vital clue into the true nature of his aspects.
Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds includes Legion, Legion: Skin Deep and the brand new, shocking finale to Leeds' story, Lies of the Beholder.
Mecha Samurai Empire by Peter Tieryas
Type: Standalone in United States of Japan universe
Release date: September 18th
The Man in the High Castle meets Pacific Rim in this action-packed alternate history novel from the award-winning author of United States of Japan. Germany and Japan won WWII and control the U.S., and a young man has one dream: to become a mecha pilot.
Makoto Fujimoto grew up in California, but with a difference--his California is part of the United States of Japan. After Germany and Japan won WWII, the United States fell under their control. Growing up in this world, Mac plays portical games, haphazardly studies for the Imperial Exam, and dreams of becoming a mecha pilot. Only problem: Mac's grades are terrible. His only hope is to pass the military exam and get into the prestigious mecha pilot training program at Berkeley Military Academy.
When his friend Hideki's plan to game the test goes horribly wrong, Mac washes out of the military exam too. Perhaps he can achieve his dream by becoming a civilian pilot. But with tensions rising between the United States of Japan and Nazi Germany and rumors of collaborators and traitors abounding, Mac will have to stay alive long enough first...
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
Type: Debut novel
Release date: September 25th
The Carls just appeared. Coming home from work at three a.m., twenty-three-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship--like a ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armor--April and her friend Andy make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world--everywhere from Beijing to Buenos Aires--and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the center of an intense international media spotlight.
Now April has to deal with the pressure on her relationships, her identity, and her safety that this new position brings, all while being on the front lines of the quest to find out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.
Compulsively entertaining and powerfully relevant, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing grapples with big themes, including how the social internet is changing fame, rhetoric, and radicalization; how our culture deals with fear and uncertainty; and how vilification and adoration spring from the same dehumanization that follows a life in the public eye.
Rock Manning Goes For Broke by Charlie Jane Anders
Publisher: Subterranean Press
Release date: September 30th
Vikings vs. Steampunks! Ice cream sundae hearse disasters! Roman gladiators meet vacuum-cleaner salesmen! Inappropriate uses of exercise equipment and supermarket trolleys! Unsupervised fires, and reckless destruction of public property! Nothing is off limits.
Rock Manning lives and breathes slapstick comedy, and his whole life is an elaborate tribute to the masters, like Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and Jackie Chan. With his best friend, Sally Hamster, he creates joyfully chaotic short movies that are full of mayhem and silliness.
But Rock and Sally are becoming famous at a time of unrest, when America's economy has collapsed and people are taking refuge in highly addictive drugs. America's youth are being drafted to take part in endless wars against imaginary enemies overseas, while at home, a fascist militia known as the Red Bandanas is rising to power. As America becomes more mired in violence and destruction, Rock Manning's zany comedy films become the escapist fun that everybody needs.
Over-the-top physical comedy and real-life brutality collide, as Rock and Sally find themselves unable to avoid getting sucked into the slow implosion of their country. The Red Bandanas want Rock Manning to star in propaganda films promoting their movement, and soon Rock and Sally are at the center of the struggle for the soul of America. The trauma and death that Rock witnesses begin to take a toll on him.
When a botched weapon test plunges the world into deeper chaos, Rock and Sally must confront once and for all the outer limits of comedy.
Best New Science Fiction Books in August 2018
Before She Sleeps by Bina Shah
Publisher: Delphinium Books
Release date: August 7th
In modern, beautiful Green City, the capital of Southwest Asia, gender selection, war, and disease have brought the ratio of men to women to alarmingly low levels. The government uses terror and technology to control its people, and now females must take multiple husbands to have children as quickly as possible. Yet there are some who resist, women who live in an underground collective and refuse to be part of the system. Secretly protected by the highest echelons of power, they emerge only at night to provide the rich and elite of Green City a type of commodity no one can buy: intimacy without sex. As it turns out, not even the most influential men can shield them from discovery and the dangers of ruthless punishment. This dystopian novel from one of Pakistan’s most talented writers is a modern-day parable, The Handmaid’s Tale for repressed women in Muslim countries everywhere. Before She Sleepstakes the patriarchal practices of female seclusion and veiling, gender selection, and control over women’s bodies, amplifying and distorting them in a truly terrifying way to imagine a world of post-religious authoritarianism.
Rogue Protocol: The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells
Type: Third book in The Murderbot Diaries series
Release date: August 7th
Martha Wells' Rogue Protocol is the third in the Murderbot Diaries series, starring a human-like android who keeps getting sucked back into adventure after adventure, though it just wants to be left alone, away from humanity and small talk.
Who knew being a heartless killing machine would present so many moral dilemmas?
Sci-fi’s favorite antisocial A.I. is back on a mission. The case against the too-big-to-fail GrayCris Corporation is floundering, and more importantly, authorities are beginning to ask more questions about where Dr. Mensah's SecUnit is.
And Murderbot would rather those questions went away. For good.
Ball Lightning by Cixin Liu (translated by Joel Martinsen)
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: August 14th
A new science fiction adventure from the New York Times bestselling author of the Three-Body Trilogy, Cixin Lu's Ball Lightning is a fast-paced story of what happens when the beauty of scientific inquiry runs up against the drive to harness new discoveries with no consideration of their possible consequences.
When Chen’s parents are incinerated before his eyes by a blast of ball lightning, he devotes his life to cracking the secret of this mysterious natural phenomenon. His search takes him to stormy mountaintops, an experimental military weapons lab, and an old Soviet science station.
The more he learns, the more he comes to realize that ball lightning is just the tip of an entirely new frontier. While Chen’s quest for answers gives purpose to his lonely life, it also pits him against soldiers and scientists with motives of their own: a beautiful army major with an obsession with dangerous weaponry, and a physicist who has no place for ethical considerations in his single-minded pursuit of knowledge.
Stars Uncharted by S.K. Dunstall
Release date: August 14th
In this rip-roaring space opera, a ragtag band of explorers are out to make the biggest score in the galaxy.
On this space jump, no one is who they seem . . .
Captain Hammond Roystan is a simple cargo runner who has stumbled across the find of a lifetime: the Hassim, a disabled exploration ship--and its valuable record of unexplored worlds.
His junior engineer, Josune Arriola, said her last assignment was in the uncharted rim. But she is decked out in high-level bioware that belies her humble backstory.
A renowned body-modification artist, Nika Rik Terri has run afoul of clients who will not take no for an answer. She has to flee off-world, and she is dragging along a rookie modder, who seems all too experienced in weapons and war . . .
Together this mismatched crew will end up on one ship, hurtling through the lawless reaches of deep space with Roystan at the helm. Trailed by nefarious company men, they will race to find the most famous lost world of all--and riches beyond their wildest dreams . . .
Noumenon Infinity by Marina J. Lostetter
Type: Second in Noumenon series
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release date: August 14th
Travel to the remotest reaches of deep space in this wondrous follow-up to the acclaimed Noumenon—a tale of exploration, adventure, science, and humanity with the sweep and intelligence of the works of Arthur C. Clarke, Neal Stephenson, and Octavia Butler.
Generations ago, Convoy Seven and I.C.C. left Earth on a mission that would take them far beyond the solar system. Launched by the Planet United Consortium, a global group formed to pursue cooperative Earth-wide interests in deep space, nine ships headed into the unknown to explore a distant star called LQ Pyx.
Eons later, the convoy has returned to LQ Pyx to begin work on the Web, the alien megastructure that covers the star. Is it a Dyson Sphere, designed to power a civilization as everyone believes—or something far more sinister?
Meanwhile, Planet United’s littlest convoy, long thought to be lost, reemerges in a different sector of deep space. What they discover holds the answers to unlocking the Web’s greater purpose.
Each convoy possesses a piece of the Web’s puzzle . . . but they may not be able to bring those pieces together and uncover the structure’s true nature before it’s too late.
The Stars Now Unclaimed by Drew Williams
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: August 21st
Jane Kamali is an agent for the Justified. Her mission: to recruit children with miraculous gifts in the hope that they might prevent the Pulse from once again sending countless worlds back to the dark ages.
Hot on her trail is the Pax--a collection of fascist zealots who believe they are the rightful rulers of the galaxy and who remain untouched by the Pulse.
Now Jane, a handful of comrades from her past, and a telekinetic girl called Esa must fight their way through a galaxy full of dangerous conflicts, remnants of ancient technology, and other hidden dangers.
And that's just the beginning . . .
The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal
Type: Second book in The Lady Astronaut series
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: August 21st
Mary Robinette Kowal continues the grand sweep of alternate history begun in The Calculating Stars, The Fated Sky looks forward to 1961, when mankind is well-established on the moon and looking forward to its next step: journeying to, and eventually colonizing, Mars.
Of course the noted Lady Astronaut Elma York would like to go, but there’s a lot riding on whoever the International Aerospace Coalition decides to send on this historic—but potentially very dangerous—mission? Could Elma really leave behind her husband and the chance to start a family to spend several years traveling to Mars? And with the Civil Rights movement taking hold all over Earth, will the astronaut pool ever be allowed to catch up, and will these brave men and women of all races be treated equitably when they get there? This gripping look at the real conflicts behind a fantastical space race will put a new spin on our visions of what might have been.
Terra Incognita: Three Novellas by Connie Willis
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: August 21st
In Terra Incognita, Connie Willis explores themes of love and mortality while brilliantly illuminating the human condition through biting satire.
Uncharted TerritoryFindriddy and Carson are explorers, dispatched to a distant planet to survey its canyons, ridges, and scrub-covered hills. Teamed with a profit-hungry indigenous guide of indeterminate gender and an enthusiastic newcomer whose specialty is mating customs, the group battles hostile terrain as they set out for unexplored regions. Along the way, they face dangers, discover treasures, and soon find themselves in an alien territory of another kind: exploring the paths and precipices of sex—and love.
RemakeIn the Hollywood of the future, live-action movies are a thing of the past. Old films are computerized and ruthlessly dissected, actors digitally ripped from one film and thrust into another. Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe in A Star Is Born? No problem. Hate the ending? Change it with the stroke of a key. Technology makes anything possible. But a starry-eyed young woman wants only one thing: to dance on the big screen. With a little magic and a lot of luck, she just may get her happy ending.
D.A. Theodora Baumgarten is baffled and furious: Why was she selected to be part of a highly competitive interstellar cadet program? After all, she never even applied. But that hasn’t stopped the powers that be from whisking her onto a spaceship bound for the prestigious Academy. With her protests ignored, Theodora takes matters into her own hands, aided by her hacker best friend, to escape the Academy and return to Earth—only to uncover a conspiracy that runs deeper than she could have imagined.
Vox by Christina Dalcher
Release date: August 21st
Set in a United States in which half the population has been silenced, Vox is the harrowing, unforgettable story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter.
On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than one hundred words per day, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial. This can't happen here. Not in America. Not to her.
This is just the beginning...
Soon women are not permitted to hold jobs. Girls are not taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words each day, but now women have only one hundred to make themselves heard.
...not the end.
For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.
Best New Science Fiction Books in July 2018
The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
Type: First book in The Lady Astronaut series
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: July 3
On a coldspring night in 1952, a meteorite falls to earth and destroys much of theeastern seaboard of the United States, including Washington D.C. The Meteor, asit is popularly known, decimates the U.S. government and paves the way for aclimate cataclysm that will eventually render the earth inhospitable to humanity.This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated timeline in the earth’s effortsto colonize space, and allows a much larger share of humanity to take part inthe process.
One of thesenew entrants in the space race is Elma York, whose experience as a WASP pilotand mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’sattempts to put man on the moon. But with so many skilled and experienced womenpilots and scientists involved with the program, it doesn’t take long before Elmabegins to wonder why they can’t go into space, too―aside from some peskybarriers like thousands of years of history and a host of expectations aboutthe proper place of the fairer sex. And yet, Elma’s drive to become the firstLady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions may notstand a chance against her.
Black Chamber by S.M. Stirling
Type: Standalone (so far)
Release date: July 3
1916. The Great War rages overseas, and the whole of Europe, Africa, and western Asia is falling to the Central Powers. To win a war that must be won, Teddy Roosevelt, once again the American president, turns to his top secret Black Chamber organization--and its cunning and deadly spy, Luz O'Malley Aróstegui.
On a transatlantic airship voyage, Luz poses as an anti-American Mexican revolutionary to get close--very close--to a German agent code-named Imperial Sword. She'll need every skill at her disposal to get him to trust her and lead her deep into enemy territory. In the mountains of Saxony, concealed from allied eyes, the German Reich's plans for keeping the U.S. from entering the conflict are revealed: the deployment of a new diabolical weapon upon the shores of America...
Space Unicorn Blues by T.J. Berry
Type: Standalone (for now)
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release date: July 3
Having magical powers makes you less than human, a resource to be exploited. Half-unicorn Gary Cobalt is sick of slavery, captivity, and his horn being ground down to power faster-than-light travel. When he's finally free, all he wants is to run away in his ancestors' stone ship. Instead, Captain Jenny Perata steals the ship out from under him, so she can make an urgent delivery. But Jenny held him captive for a decade, and then Gary murdered her best friend... who was also the wife of her co-pilot, Cowboy Jim. What could possibly go right?
Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio
Type: First in the Sun Eater series
Release date: July 3
It was not his war.
The galaxy remembers him as a hero: the man who burned every last alien Cielcin from the sky. They remember him as a monster: the devil who destroyed a sun, casually annihilating four billion human lives—even the Emperor himself—against Imperial orders.
But Hadrian was not a hero. He was not a monster. He was not even a soldier.
On the wrong planet, at the right time, for the best reasons, Hadrian Marlowe starts down a path that can only end in fire. He flees his father and a future as a torturer only to be left stranded on a strange, backwater world.
Forced to fight as a gladiator and navigate the intrigues of a foreign planetary court, Hadrian must fight a war he did not start, for an Empire he does not love, against an enemy he will never understand.
I Only Killed Him Once by Adam Christopher
Type: Third in the Ray Electromatic series
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: July 10
Another Hollywood night, another job for electric-detective-turned-robotic-hitman Raymond Electromatic. The target is a tall man in a black hat, and while Ray completes his mission successfully, he makes a startling discovery―one he soon forgets when his 24-hour memory tape loops to the end and is replaced with a fresh reel…
When a tall man in a black hat arrives in the offices of the Electromatic Detective Agency the next day, Ray has a suspicion he has met this stranger before, although Ray’s computerized boss, Ada, is not saying a thing. But their visitor isn’t here to hire Ray for a job―he’s here to deliver a stark warning.
Because time is running out and if Ray and Ada want to survive, they need to do exactly what the man in the black hat says.
A man that Raymond Electromatic has already killed.
Latchkey by Nicole Kornher-Stace
Type: Second book in the Archivist Wasp series
Publisher: Mythic Delirium Books
Release date: July 10
Isabel, once known as Wasp, has become leader of the fearsome upstarts, the teen girl acolytes who are adjusting to a new way of life after the overthrow of the sadistic Catchkeep-priest. They live in an uneasy alliance with the town of Sweetwater—an alliance that will be tested to its limits by the dual threats of ruthless raiders from the Waste and a deadly force from the Before-time that awaits in long-hidden tunnels.
Years ago Isabel befriended a nameless ghost, a supersoldier from the Before-time with incredible powers even after death, and their adventure together in the underworld gave her the strength and knowledge to change the brutal existence of the Catchkeep acolytes for the better. To save Sweetwater, Isabel will have to unlock the secrets of the twisted experimental program from centuries gone by that created the supersoldier and killed his friends: the Latchkey Project.
Latchkey continues the story begun in Kornher-Stace’s widely acclaimed Archivist Wasp, an Andre Norton Award finalist that was selected by Kirkus Reviews as one of the Best Teen Books of 2015.
Infinity's End, Edited by Jonathan Strahan
Type: Final anthology in The Infinity Project series
Release date: July 10
Humanity has made the universe home. On the outskirts of the solar system, beyond the asteroid fields, deep in space, under the surface of planets, in the ruins of fallen civilisations, in the flush of new creation: life finds a way.
From intelligent velociraptors to digital ghosts; from a crèche on an asteroid to an artist using a star system as a canvas, this is a future where Earth’s children have adapted to every nook and cranny of existence.
This is life on the edge of the possible.
Featuring astonishing tales from Stephen Baxter, Alastair Reynolds, Naomi Kritzer, Paul McAuley, Seanan McGuire, Linda Nagata, Hannu Rajaniemi, Justina Robson, Kelly Robson, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Lavie Tidhar, Peter Watts, Fran Wilde and Nick Wolven.
Condomnauts by Yoss (translated by David Frye)
Publisher: Restless Books
Release date: July 17
In the 24th century, Josué Valdés’ rise from an orphan in the slums of Rubble City, Cuba to one of the galaxy’s most accomplished explorers was nothing short of meteoric. Josué used to race cockroaches for cash on the streets until he discovered his true-calling: as a sexual ambassador for humanity and the Nu Barsa colony.
Every so-called “condomnaut” knows that trade deals in the galactic community depend on sexual pacts, which makes every encounter a close encounter. While some condomnauts have been trained and genetically enhanced to meet the needs of any tentacled insectoid in the galaxy, Josué is a natural whose ego could eclipse the big dipper. Josué and his fellow intrepid condomnauts travel light years across the galaxy and discover that old rivalries—and prejudices—are never far behind. When the first extragalactic beings arrive in the Milky Way, and with them the potential to negotiate for extraordinary new technologies, Josué must call upon every ounce of his talent to seal the deal for his colony and all of humanity.
Indirectly investigating current sexual mores, Cuban science fiction rock star Yoss plays upon stereotypes while making it clear that in Communist Cuba what is daring is not always funny and vice versa. Following the success of Super Extra Grande and A Planet for Rent, Yoss brings us another uproarious space adventure with Condomnauts, a wildly inventive and unapologetic tale that would make even Barbarella blush.
Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers
Type: Third book in the Wayfarers series
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release date: July 24
Return to the sprawling universe of the Galactic Commons, as humans, artificial intelligence, aliens, and some beings yet undiscovered explore what it means to be a community in this exciting third adventure in the acclaimed and multi-award-nominated science fiction Wayfarers series, brimming with heartwarming characters and dazzling space adventure.
Hundreds of years ago, the last humans on Earth boarded the Exodus Fleet in search of a new home among the stars. After centuries spent wandering empty space, their descendants were eventually accepted by the well-established species that govern the Milky Way.
But that was long ago. Today, the Exodus Fleet is a living relic, the birthplace of many, yet a place few outsiders have ever visited. While the Exodans take great pride in their original community and traditions, their culture has been influenced by others beyond their bulkheads. As many Exodans leave for alien cities or terrestrial colonies, those who remain are left to ponder their own lives and futures: What is the purpose of a ship that has reached its destination? Why remain in space when there are habitable worlds available to live? What is the price of sustaining their carefully balanced way of life—and is it worth saving at all?
A young apprentice, a lifelong spacer with young children, a planet-raised traveler, an alien academic, a caretaker for the dead, and an Archivist whose mission is to ensure no one’s story is forgotten, wrestle with these profound universal questions. The answers may seem small on the galactic scale, but to these individuals, it could mean everything.
A Study in Honor by Claire O'Dell
Type: Standalone (for now... but let's be serious)
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release date: July 31
Set in a near future Washington, D.C., a clever, incisive, and fresh feminist twist on a classic literary icon—Sherlock Holmes—in which Dr. Janet Watson and covert agent Sara Holmes will use espionage, advanced technology, and the power of deduction to unmask a murderer targeting Civil War veterans.
Dr. Janet Watson knows firsthand the horrifying cost of a divided nation. While treating broken soldiers on the battlefields of the New Civil War, a sniper’s bullet shattered her arm and ended her career. Honorably discharged and struggling with the semi-functional mechanical arm that replaced the limb she lost, she returns to the nation’s capital, a bleak, edgy city in the throes of a fraught presidential election. Homeless and jobless, Watson is uncertain of the future when she meets another black and queer woman, Sara Holmes, a mysterious yet playfully challenging covert agent who offers the doctor a place to stay.
Watson’s readjustment to civilian life is complicated by the infuriating antics of her strange new roommate. But the tensions between them dissolve when Watson discovers that soldiers from the New Civil War have begun dying one by one—and that the deaths may be the tip of something far more dangerous, involving the pharmaceutical industry and even the looming election. Joining forces, Watson and Holmes embark on a thrilling investigation to solve the mystery—and secure justice for these fallen soldiers.
Best New Science Fiction Books in June 2018
Free Chocolate by Amber Royer
Type: First book in The Chocoverse series
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release date: June 1
Latina culinary arts student, Bo Benitez, becomes a fugitive when she's caught stealing a cacao pod from the heavily-defended plantations that keep chocolate, Earth's sole valuable export, safe from a hungry galaxy. Forces arraying against her including her alien boyfriend and a reptilian cop. But when she escapes onto an unmarked starship things go from bad to worse: it belongs to the race famed throughout the galaxy for eating stowaways. Surrounded by dangerous yet hunky aliens, Bo starts to uncover clues that the threat to Earth may be bigger than she first thought.
Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee
Type: Third book in the Machineries of Empire trilogy
Release date: June 12
When Shuos Jedao wakes up for the first time, several things go wrong. His few memories tell him that he's a seventeen-year-old cadet--but his body belongs to a man decades older. Hexarch Nirai Kujen orders Jedao to reconquer the fractured hexarchate on his behalf even though Jedao has no memory of ever being a soldier, let alone a general. Surely a knack for video games doesn't qualify you to take charge of an army?
Soon Jedao learns the situation is even worse. The Kel soldiers under his command may be compelled to obey him, but they hate him thanks to a massacre he can't remember committing. Kujen's friendliness can't hide the fact that he's a tyrant. And what's worse, Jedao and Kujen are being hunted by an enemy who knows more about Jedao and his crimes than he does himself...
The Robots of Gotham by Todd McAulty
Type: Standalone (for now)
Publisher: John Joseph Adams
Release date: June 19
After long years of war, the United States has sued for peace, yielding to a brutal coalition of nations ruled by fascist machines. One quarter of the country is under foreign occupation. Manhattan has been annexed by a weird robot monarchy, and in Tennessee, a permanent peace is being delicately negotiated between the battered remnants of the U.S. government and an envoy of implacable machines. Canadian businessman Barry Simcoe arrives in occupied Chicago days before his hotel is attacked by a rogue war machine. In the aftermath, he meets a dedicated Russian medic with the occupying army, and 19 Black Winter, a badly damaged robot. Together they stumble on a machine conspiracy to unleash a horrific plague—and learn that the fabled American resistance is not as extinct as everyone believes. Simcoe races against time to prevent the extermination of all life on the continent . . . and uncover a secret that America’s machine conquerors are desperate to keep hidden.
Thrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn
Type: Second book in Star Wars: Thrawn series
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: June 24
“I have sensed a disturbance in the Force.”
Ominous words under any circumstances, but all the more so when uttered by Emperor Palpatine. On Batuu, at the edges of the Unknown Regions, a threat to the Empire is taking root—its existence little more than a glimmer, its consequences as yet unknowable. But it is troubling enough to the Imperial leader to warrant investigation by his most powerful agents: ruthless enforcer Lord Darth Vader and brilliant strategist Grand Admiral Thrawn. Fierce rivals for the emperor’s favor, and outspoken adversaries on Imperial affairs—including the Death Star project—the formidable pair seem unlikely partners for such a crucial mission. But the Emperor knows it’s not the first time Vader and Thrawn have joined forces. And there’s more behind his royal command than either man suspects.
In what seems like a lifetime ago, General Anakin Skywalker of the Galactic Republic, and Commander Mitth’raw’nuruodo, officer of the Chiss Ascendancy, crossed paths for the first time. One on a desperate personal quest, the other with motives unknown . . . and undisclosed. But facing a gauntlet of dangers on a far-flung world, they forged an uneasy alliance—neither remotely aware of what their futures held in store.
Now, thrust together once more, they find themselves bound again for the planet where they once fought side by side. There they will be doubly challenged—by a test of their allegiance to the Empire . . . and an enemy that threatens even their combined might.
Apocalypse Nyx by Kameron Hurley
Type: Book 1.5/1.7 in the Bel Dame Apocrypha series
Publisher: Tachyon Publication
Release date: June 26
Ex-government assassin turned bounty-hunter, Nyx, is good at solving other people’s problems. Her favorite problem-solving solution is punching people in the face. Then maybe chopping off some heads. Hey—it’s a living.
Nyx's disreputable reputation has been well earned. After all, she’s trying to navigate an apocalyptic world full of giant bugs, contaminated deserts, scheming magicians, and a centuries-long war that’s consuming her future. Managing her ragtag squad of misfits has required a lot of morally-gray choices. Every new job is another day alive. Every new mission is another step toward changing a hellish future—but only if she can survive.
A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe by Alex White
Type: First book in Salvagers series
Release date: June 26
Boots Elsworth was a famous treasure hunter in another life, but now she's washed up. She makes her meager living faking salvage legends and selling them to the highest bidder, but this time she got something real--the story of the Harrow, a famous warship, capable of untold destruction.
Nilah Brio is the top driver in the Pan Galactic Racing Federation and the darling of the racing world--until she witnesses Mother murder a fellow racer. Framed for the murder and on the hunt to clear her name, Nilah has only one lead: the killer also hunts Boots.
On the wrong side of the law, the two women board a smuggler's ship that will take them on a quest for fame, for riches, and for justice.
What science fiction books are you most looking forward to checking out? Let us know in the comments below or in our Den of Geek Book Club on Goodreads.
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
Looking for a good fantasy read? Here are some of the best new fantasy books to be released in December 2018.
Fall, one of our four favorite seasons to read, is upon us. Here are some of the fantasy books coming out in the month of December that we are most looking forward to checking out. Is your most-anticipated November fantasy read on the list?
Best New Fantasy Books in December 2018
Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
Type: Standalone novel
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Release date: December 4th
On a dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the river Thames, an extraordinary event takes place. The regulars are telling stories to while away the dark hours, when the door bursts open on a grievously wounded stranger. In his arms is the lifeless body of a small child. Hours later, the girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life. Is it a miracle? Is it magic? Or can science provide an explanation? These questions have many answers, some of them quite dark indeed.
Those who dwell on the river bank apply all their ingenuity to solving the puzzle of the girl who died and lived again, yet as the days pass the mystery only deepens. The child herself is mute and unable to answer the essential questions: Who is she? Where did she come from? And to whom does she belong? But answers proliferate nonetheless.
Three families are keen to claim her. A wealthy young mother knows the girl is her kidnapped daughter, missing for two years. A farming family reeling from the discovery of their son’s secret liaison, stand ready to welcome their granddaughter. The parson’s housekeeper, humble and isolated, sees in the child the image of her younger sister. But the return of a lost child is not without complications and no matter how heartbreaking the past losses, no matter how precious the child herself, this girl cannot be everyone’s. Each family has mysteries of its own, and many secrets must be revealed before the girl’s identity can be known.
Once Upon a River is a glorious tapestry of a book that combines folklore and science, magic and myth. Suspenseful, romantic, and richly atmospheric, the beginning of this novel will sweep you away on a powerful current of storytelling, transporting you through worlds both real and imagined, to the triumphant conclusion whose depths will continue to give up their treasures long after the last page is turned.
King of the Road by R.S. Belcher
Type: Companion novel to Brotherhood of the Wheel
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: December 4th
They are the Brotherhood of the Wheel: a secret society of truckers, bikers, nomads, and others who defend America’s roads and rails from unnatural threats lying in wait for unwary travelers.
Now a missing-person case leads to a string of roadside murders and mutilations that stretches back decades―and to a cult of murderous clowns who are far more than mere urban legends. Greasepaint and lunatic grins are the last things their victims ever see.
And as if that’s not trouble enough, trucker Jimmy Aussapile and his allies must also cope with a violent civil war within an outlaw biker gang long associated with the Brotherhood, as well as run-ins with a rival gang led by a fierce werewolf biker chick who fights tooth and claw to protect her pack.
From Depression-era hobo camps to a modern-day trailer park hiding unearthly secrets, fear lurks just beyond the headlights for the Kings of the Road.
Siege of Stone: Sister of Darkness by Terry Goodkind
Type: Volume III in the Nicci Chronicles
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: December 31st
Set in the world of the Sword of Truth saga, the ramifications of New York Times bestseller Terry Goodkind's Shroud of Eternity extend throughout all of the Old World as familiar allies, dangerous magic, and creatures created by twisted sorcery all work at cross purposes to either save or destroy Ildakar in Siege of Stone
The Sorceress Nicci, the Wizard Nathan Rahl, and the young swordsman Bannon remain in the legendary city of Ildakar after a great internal revolt has freed the slaves and brought down the powerful wizards council. But as he fled the city, capricious Wizard Commander Maxim dissolved the petrification spell that had turned to stone the invading army of General Utros fifteen centuries earlier. Now, hundreds of thousands of half-stone soldiers from the ancient past have awakened, led by one of the greatest enemy commanders in history.
Nicci, Nathan, and Bannon have to help Ildakar survive this unbreakable siege, using all the magical defenses of the legendary city. Even as General Utros holds Ildakar hostage and also unleashes his incredible army on the unsuspecting Old World, an equally powerful threat arises out in the sea.
Nicci knows the battle won’t remain in the city; if she can’t stop this threat, two invincible armies can sweep across the Old World and destroy D’Hara itself.
Best New Fantasy Books in November 2018
Breach by W.L. Goodwater
Type: First in new series
Release date: November 6th
The first novel in a new Cold War fantasy series, where the Berlin Wall is made entirely of magic. When a breach unexpectedly appears in the wall, spies from both sides swarm to the city as World War III threatens to spark.
AFTER THE WAR, THE WALL BROUGHT AN UNEASY PEACE.
When Soviet magicians conjured an arcane wall to blockade occupied Berlin, the world was outraged but let it stand for the sake of peace. Now, after ten years of fighting with spies instead of spells, the CIA has discovered the unthinkable...
THE WALL IS FAILING.
While refugees and soldiers mass along the border, operatives from East and West converge on the most dangerous city in the world to either stop the crisis, or take advantage of it.
Karen, a young magician with the American Office of Magical Research and Deployment, is sent to investigate the breach in the Wall and determine if it can be fixed. Instead, she discovers that the truth is elusive in this divided city--and that even magic itself has its own agenda.
THE TRUTH OF THE WALL IS ABOUT TO BE REVEALED.
Vita Nostra by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release date: November 13th
The definitive English language translation of the internationally acclaimed Russian novel—a brilliant dark fantasy combining psychological suspense, enchantment, and terror that makes us consider human existence in a fresh and provocative way.
Our life is brief . . .
Sasha Samokhina has been accepted to the Institute of Special Technologies.
Or, more precisely, she’s been chosen.
Situated in a tiny village, she finds the students are bizarre, and the curriculum even more so. The books are impossible to read, the lessons obscure to the point of maddening, and the work refuses memorization. Using terror and coercion to keep the students in line, the school does not punish them for their transgressions and failures; instead, it is their families that pay a terrible price. Yet despite her fear, Sasha undergoes changes that defy the dictates of matter and time; experiences which are nothing she has ever dreamed of . . . and suddenly all she could ever want.
A complex blend of adventure, magic, science, and philosophy that probes the mysteries of existence, filtered through a distinct Russian sensibility, this astonishing work of speculative fiction—brilliantly translated by Julia Meitov Hersey—is reminiscent of modern classics such as Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, Max Barry’s Lexicon, and Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale, but will transport them to a place far beyond those fantastical worlds.
The Sky-Blue Wolves by S.M. Stirling
Type: The 15th and final book in the Emberverse series
Release date: November 13th
S. M. Stirling presents the stunning and epic conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Change series. Many years ago, when advanced technology failed and humanity found itself in a turbulent, postapocalyptic world, extraordinary men and women birthed a new society from the ashes. In this new world of emperors and kings, new leaders emerged, making the world their own.
Two generations after the Change, Crown Princess Órlaith struggles to preserve the hard-won peace her father brought to Montival--the former western United States. But the Change opened many doors, and through them powers strong and strange and terrible walk once more among humankind.
With her fire-forged friend and ally, Japanese Empress Reiko, Órlaith must take up her sword to stop the spread of the mad malignancy behind the Yellow Raja, who has imprisoned her brother Prince John. And from the emerging superpower of Mongolia, the Sky-Blue Wolves of the High Steppe ride once more beneath the banner of Genghis Khan--the thunder of their hooves resounding across a world in turmoil.
Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch
Type: Seventh book in the Rivers of London series
Release date: November 20th
The seventh book of the bestselling Rivers of London urban fantasy series returns to the adventures of Peter Grant, detective and apprentice wizard, as he solves magical crimes in the city of London.
The Faceless Man, wanted for multiple counts of murder, fraud, and crimes against humanity, has been unmasked and is on the run. Peter Grant, Detective Constable and apprentice wizard, now plays a key role in an unprecedented joint operation to bring him to justice.
But even as the unwieldy might of the Metropolitan Police bears down on its foe, Peter uncovers clues that the Faceless Man, far from being finished, is executing the final stages of a long term plan. A plan that has its roots in London's two thousand bloody years of history, and could literally bring the city to its knees.
To save his beloved city Peter's going to need help from his former best friend and colleague--Lesley May--who brutally betrayed him and everything he thought she believed in. And, far worse, he might even have to come to terms with the malevolent supernatural killer and agent of chaos known as Mr Punch....
City of Broken Magic by Mirah Bolender
Type: First book in the Chronicles of Amicae series
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: November 20th
Mirah Bolender's fast-paced, adventure fantasy debut, City of Broken Magic, features a bomb squad that defuses magic weapons.
Five hundred years ago, magi created a weapon they couldn’t control. An infestation that ate magic—and anything else it came into contact with. Enemies and allies were equally filling.
Only an elite team of non-magical humans, known as sweepers, can defuse and dispose of infestations before they spread. Most die before they finish training.
Laura, a new team member, has stayed alive longer than most. Now, she’s the last—and only—sweeper standing between the city and a massive infestation.
The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman
Type: Book five in The Invisible Library series
Release date: November 27th
In the latest novel in Genevieve Cogman's historical fantasy series, the fate of worlds lies in the balance. When a dragon is murdered at a peace conference, time-travelling Librarian spy Irene must solve the case to keep the balance between order, chaos...and the Library.
When Irene returns to London after a relatively straightforward book theft in Germany, Bradamant informs her that there is a top secret dragon-Fae peace conference in progress that the Library is mediating, and that the second-in-command dragon has been stabbed to death. Tasked with solving the case, Vale and Irene immediately go to 1890s Paris to start their investigation.
Once they arrive, they find evidence suggesting that the murder victim might have uncovered proof of treachery by one or more Librarians. But to ensure the peace of the conference, some Librarians are being held as hostages in the dragon and Fae courts. To save the captives, including her parents, Irene must get to the bottom of this murder--but was it a dragon, a Fae, or even a Librarian who committed the crime?
Best New Fantasy Books in October 2018
An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris
Type: First in new series
Release date: October 2nd
The beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse series, the inspiration for HBO’s True Blood, and the Midnight Crossroad trilogy adapted for NBC’s Midnight, Texas, has written a taut new thriller—the first in the Gunnie Rose series—centered on a young gunslinging mercenary, Lizbeth Rose.
Set in a fractured United States, in the southwestern country now known as Texoma. A world where magic is acknowledged but mistrusted, especially by a young gunslinger named Lizbeth Rose. Battered by a run across the border to Mexico Lizbeth Rose takes a job offer from a pair of Russian wizards to be their local guide and gunnie. For the wizards, Gunnie Rose has already acquired a fearsome reputation and they’re at a desperate crossroad, even if they won’t admit it. They’re searching through the small border towns near Mexico, trying to locate a low-level magic practitioner, Oleg Karkarov. The wizards believe Oleg is a direct descendant of Grigori Rasputin, and that Oleg’s blood can save the young tsar’s life.
As the trio journey through an altered America, shattered into several countries by the assassination of Franklin Roosevelt and the Great Depression, they’re set on by enemies. It’s clear that a powerful force does not want them to succeed in their mission. Lizbeth Rose is a gunnie who has never failed a client, but her oath will test all of her skills and resolve to get them all out alive.
Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep
Type: First in new series
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release date: October 2nd
Gladiator meets Game of Thrones: a royal woman becomes a skilled warrior to destroy her murderous cousin, avenge her family, and save her kingdom in this first entry in a dazzling fantasy epic from the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Elemental Assassin series—an enthralling tale that combines magic, murder, intrigue, adventure, and a hint of romance.
In a realm where one’s magical power determines one’s worth, Lady Everleigh’s lack of obvious ability relegates her to the shadows of the royal court of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. Seventeenth in line for the throne, Evie is nothing more than a ceremonial fixture, overlooked and mostly forgotten.
But dark forces are at work inside the palace. When her cousin Vasilia, the crown princess, assassinates her mother the queen and takes the throne by force, Evie is also attacked, along with the rest of the royal family. Luckily for Evie, her secret immunity to magic helps her escape the massacre.
Forced into hiding to survive, she falls in with a gladiator troupe. Though they use their talents to entertain and amuse the masses, the gladiators are actually highly trained warriors skilled in the art of war, especially Lucas Sullivan, a powerful magier with secrets of his own. Uncertain of her future—or if she even has one—Evie begins training with the troupe until she can decide her next move.
But as the bloodthirsty Vasilia exerts her power, pushing Bellona to the brink of war, Evie’s fate becomes clear: she must become a fearsome gladiator herself . . . and kill the queen.
Priest of Bones by Peter McLean
Type: First in new series
Release date: October 2nd
The war is over, and army priest Tomas Piety heads home with Sergeant Bloody Anne at his side. But things have changed while he was away: his crime empire has been stolen and the people of Ellinburg--his people--have run out of food and hope and places to hide. Tomas sets out to reclaim what was his with help from Anne, his brother, Jochan, and his new gang: the Pious Men. But when he finds himself dragged into a web of political intrigue once again, everything gets more complicated.
As the Pious Men fight shadowy foreign infiltrators in the back-street taverns, brothels, and gambling dens of Tomas's old life, it becomes clear:
The war is only just beginning.
The Phoenix Empress by K Arsenault Rivera
Type: Second book in Ascendant series
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: October 9th
K Arsenault Rivera's second novel, The Tiger's Daughter, the continuation of a new epic fantasy trilogy
"Rich, expansive, and grounded in human truth...simply exquisite.”—V. E. Schwab, New York Times bestselling author of the Shades of Magic series
Once they were the heirs to a prophecy that predicted two women would save an empire.
Now Shefali is dying—and her wife is unaware of the coming tragedy. Shizuka is too busy trying to reunite a fractured empire and right the wrongs of her ancestors.
As the Imperial Army gathers against a demonic invasion, Shizuka must do all she can with an empire on the brink of civil war.
Check out our interview with K Arsenault Rivera at New York Comic Con...
Mage Against the Machine by Shaun Barger
Type: Standalone novel
Publisher: Saga Press
Release date: October 30th
Harry Potter meets The Terminator in this action-packed adventure about a young man who discovers that everything he believed about his world is a lie.
The year is 2120. The humans are dead. The mages have retreated from the world after a madman blew up civilization with weaponized magical technology. Safe within domes that protect them from the nuclear wasteland on the other side, the mages have spent the last century putting their lives back together.
Nikolai is obsessed with artifacts from twentieth-century human life: mage-crafted replica Chuck Taylors on his feet, Schwarzenegger posters on his walls, Beatlemania still alive and well in his head. But he’s also tasked with a higher calling—to maintain the Veils that protect mage-kind from the hazards of the wastes beyond. As a cadet in the Mage King’s army, Nik has finally found what he always wanted—a purpose. But when confronted by one of his former instructors gone rogue, Nik tumbles into a dark secret. The humans weren’t nuked into oblivion—they’re still alive. Not only that, outside the domes a war rages between the last enclaves of free humans and vast machine intelligences.
Outside the dome, unprepared and on the run, Nik finds Jem. Jem is a Runner for the Human Resistance. A ballerina-turned-soldier by the circumstances of war, Jem is more than just a human—her cybernetic enhancement mods make her faster, smarter, and are the only things that give her a fighting chance against the artificial beings bent on humanity’s eradication.
Now Nik faces an impossible decision: side with the mages and let humanity die out? Or stand with Jem and the humans—and risk endangering everything he knows and loves?
The Monster Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
Type: Second book in The Masquerade series
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: October 30th
A breathtaking geopolitical epic fantasy, The Monster Baru Cormorant is the sequel to Seth Dickinson's "fascinating tale" (The Washington Post), The Traitor Baru Cormorant.
Her world was shattered by the Empire of Masks. For the power to shatter the Masquerade, She betrayed everyone she loved.
The traitor Baru Cormorant is now the cryptarch Agonist—a secret lord of the empire she's vowed to destroy.
Hunted by a mutinous admiral, haunted by the wound which has split her mind in two, Baru leads her dearest foes on an expedition for the secret of immortality. It's her chance to trigger a war that will consume the Masquerade.
But Baru's heart is broken, and she fears she can no longer tell justice from revenge...or her own desires from the will of the man who remade her.
The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition by Ursula K. Leguin
Type: Special edition
Publisher: Saga Press
Release date: October 30th
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the timeless and beloved A Wizard of Earthsea that “reads like the retelling of a tale first told centuries ago,” (David Mitchell)—comes this complete omnibus edition of the entire Earthsea chronicles, including over fifty illustrations illuminating Le Guin’s vision of her classic saga.
Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea novels are some of the most acclaimed and awarded works in literature—they have received prestigious accolades such as the National Book Award, a Newbery Honor, the Nebula Award, and many more honors, commemorating their enduring place in the hearts and minds of readers and the literary world alike.
Now for the first time ever, they’re all together in one volume—including the early short stories, Le Guin’s “Earthsea Revisioned” Oxford lecture, and a new Earthsea story, never before printed.
With a new introduction by Le Guin herself, this essential edition will also include fifty illustrations by renowned artist Charles Vess, specially commissioned and selected by Le Guin, to bring her refined vision of Earthsea and its people to life in a totally new way.
[Stories include: “A Wizard of Earthsea”, “The Tombs of Atuan”, “The Farthest Shore”, “Tehanu”, “Tales From Earthsea”, “The Other Wind”, “The Rule of Names”, “The Word of Unbinding”, “The Daughter of Odren”, and “Earthsea Revisioned: A Lecture at Oxford University”.]
With stories as perennial and universally beloved as The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of The Rings—but also unlike anything but themselves—this edition is perfect for those new to the world of Earthsea, as well as those who are well-acquainted with its enchanting magic: to know Earthsea is to love it.
Best New Fantasy Books in September 2018
Night and Silence by Seanan McGuire
Type: Book 12 in the October Daye series
Release date: September 4th
Things are not okay.
In the aftermath of Amandine's latest betrayal, October "Toby" Daye's fragile self-made family is on the verge of coming apart at the seams. Jazz can't sleep, Sylvester doesn't want to see her, and worst of all, Tybalt has withdrawn from her entirely, retreating into the Court of Cats as he tries to recover from his abduction. Toby is floundering, unable to help the people she loves most heal. She needs a distraction. She needs a quest.
What she doesn't need is the abduction of her estranged human daughter, Gillian. What she doesn't need is to be accused of kidnapping her own child by her ex-boyfriend and his new wife, who seems to be harboring secrets of her own. There's no question of whether she'll take the case. The only question is whether she's emotionally prepared to survive it.
Signs of Faerie's involvement are everywhere, and it's going to take all Toby's nerve and all her allies to get her through this web of old secrets, older hatreds, and new deceits. If she can't find Gillian before time runs out, her own child will pay the price.
Two questions remain: Who in Faerie remembered Gillian existed? And what do they stand to gain?
No matter how this ends, Toby's life will never be the same.
Timeless: A Drizzt Novel by R.A. Salvatore
Type: Book one in trilogy set in the world of Forgotten Realms
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release date: September 4th
At long last, New York Times bestselling author R. A. Salvatore returns with one of fantasy's most beloved and enduring icons, the dark elf Drizzt Do'Urden, in an all-new trilogy full of swordplay, danger, and imaginative thrills,
Centuries ago, in the city of Menzoberranzan, the City of Spiders, the City of Drow, nestled deep in the unmerciful Underdark of Toril, a young weapon master earned a reputation far above his station or that of his poor house.
The greater nobles watched him, and one matron, in particular, decided to take him as her own. She connived with rival great houses to secure her prize, but that prize was caught for her by another, who came to quite enjoy the weapon master.
This was the beginning of the friendship between Zaknafein and Jarlaxle, and the coupling of Matron Malice and the weapon master who would sire Drizzt Do’Urden.
R. A. Salvatore reveals the Underdark anew through the eyes of Zaknafein and Jarlaxle—an introduction to the darkness that offers a fresh view of the opportunities to be found in the shadows and an intriguing prelude to the intriguing escapes that lie ahead in the modern-day Forgotten Realms. Here, a father and his son are reunited and embark on adventures that parallel the trials of centuries long past as the friends of old are joined by Drizzt, Hero of the North, trained by Grandmaster Kane in the ways of the monk.
But the scourge of the dangerous Lolth’s ambitions remain, and demons have been foisted on the unwitting of the surface. The resulting chaos and war will prove to be the greatest challenge for all three.
The Late Great Wizard by Sara Hanover
Type: First book in a planned series
Release date: September 11th
A young woman must work with a magician who is not what he seems to find her father in this new contemporary portal fantasy series.
With her father vanished under suspicious circumstances and her old life destroyed, Tessa Andrews is determined to pick up the pieces and forge ahead. If only their borrowed house didn't shake and rumble as if haunted. But at least she and her mom have a roof over their heads, so her luck couldn't be all bad, could it?
As if to prove her wrong, Tessa gets an urgent call for help one night from crusty old Professor Brandard, one of the people on her charity meals route. She dashes over, only to find the house in flames and the professor gone. A handsome young man steps out of the ashes to request her assistance, claiming to be the professor and a Phoenix wizard. She not only has to believe in him, but in magic, for an ancient evil is awakening and it will take the two of them, plus a few shady friends, to stand against it.
Because the rejuvenation ritual has gone horribly wrong. The late, great wizard desperately needs to get his mojo back, for only if Brandard regains all his magic do they stand any chance of defeating this deadliest of perils.
The Queen of Crows by Myke Cole
Type: Book two in the Sacred Throne trilogy
Release date: September 18th
In this epic fantasy sequel, Heloise stands tall against overwhelming odds—crippling injuries, religious tyrants—and continues her journey from obscurity to greatness with the help of alchemically-empowered armor and an unbreakable spirit.
No longer just a shell-shocked girl, she is now a figure of revolution whose cause grows ever stronger. But the time for hiding underground is over. Heloise must face the tyrannical Order and win freedom for her people.
Time's Convert by Deborah Harkness
Type: Novel set in the All Souls universe
Release date: September 18th
On the battlefields of the American Revolution, Matthew de Clermont meets Marcus MacNeil, a young surgeon from Massachusetts, during a moment of political awakening when it seems that the world is on the brink of a brighter future. When Matthew offers him a chance at immortality and a new life free from the restraints of his puritanical upbringing, Marcus seizes the opportunity to become a vampire. But his transformation is not an easy one and the ancient traditions and responsibilities of the de Clermont family clash with Marcus's deeply held beliefs in liberty, equality, and brotherhood.
Fast-forward to contemporary Paris, where Phoebe Taylor--the young employee at Sotheby's whom Marcus has fallen for--is about to embark on her own journey to immortality. Though the modernized version of the process at first seems uncomplicated, the couple discovers that the challenges facing a human who wishes to be a vampire are no less formidable than they were in the eighteenth century. The shadows that Marcus believed he'd escaped centuries ago may return to haunt them both--forever.
A passionate love story and a fascinating exploration of the power of tradition and the possibilities not just for change but for revolution, Time's Convert channels the supernatural world-building and slow-burning romance that made the All Souls Trilogy instant bestsellers to illuminate a new and vital moment in history, and a love affair that will bridge centuries.
Vengeful by V.E. Schwab
Type: Book two in the Villains series
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: September 25th
Magneto and Professor X. Superman and Lex Luthor. Victor Vale and Eli Ever. Sydney and Serena Clarke. Great partnerships, now soured on the vine.
But Marcella Riggins needs no one. Flush from her brush with death, she’s finally gained the control she’s always sought—and will use her new-found power to bring the city of Merit to its knees. She’ll do whatever it takes, collecting her own sidekicks, and leveraging the two most infamous EOs, Victor Vale and Eli Ever, against each other once more.
With Marcella's rise, new enmities create opportunity--and the stage of Merit City will once again be set for a final, terrible reckoning.
The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner
Type: Standalone novel
Release date: September 25th
In a remote village surrounded by vast forests on the border of Moldova and Ukraine, sisters Liba and Laya have been raised on the honeyed scent of their Mami's babka and the low rumble of their Tati's prayers. But when a troupe of mysterious men arrives, Laya falls under their spell - despite their mother's warning to be wary of strangers. And this is not the only danger lurking in the woods.
As dark forces close in on their village, Liba and Laya discover a family secret passed down through generations. Faced with a magical heritage they never knew existed, the sisters realize the old fairy tales are true...and could save them all.
Barren by Peter V. Brett
Type: Novella in the Demon Cycle series
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release date: September 25th
Each night, the world is overrun by bloodthirsty demons. For centuries, humanity survived only by hiding behind defensive wards—magical symbols with the power to repel the demons. Now, the rediscovery of long-forgotten combat wards has given them the magic they need to fight back.
In Tibbet’s Brook, the fighting wards have brought change, but the factions and grudges of a troubled past remain. Selia Square, the woman they call Barren, has long been the force that holds the Brook together. As a terrifying new threat emerges, she rallies her people once again.
But Selia has a past of her own. And in a small community the personal and the political can never be divided. If Tibbet’s Brook is to survive, Selia must uncover memories she has buried deep—the woman she once was, the woman she once loved—and retell their story.
Best New Fantasy Books in August 2018
Temper by Nicky Drayden
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release date: August 7th
In a land similar to South Africa, twin brothers are beset by powerful forces beyond their understanding or control in this thrilling blend of science fiction, horror, magic, and dark humor—evocative of the works of Lauren Beukes, Ian McDonald, and Nnedi Okorafor—from the author of The Prey of Gods.
One demonic possession.
Can this relationship survive?
Auben Mutze has more vices than he can deal with—six to be exact—each branded down his arm for all the world to see. They mark him as a lesser twin in society, as inferior, but there’s no way he’ll let that define him. Intelligent and outgoing, Auben’s spirited antics make him popular among the other students at his underprivileged high school. So what if he’s envious of his twin Kasim, whose single vice brand is a ticket to a better life, one that likely won’t involve Auben.
The twins’ strained relationship threatens to snap when Auben starts hearing voices that speak to his dangerous side—encouraging him to perform evil deeds that go beyond innocent mischief. Lechery, deceit, and vanity run rampant. And then there are the inexplicable blood cravings. . . .
On the southern tip of an African continent that could have been, demons get up to no good during the time of year when temperatures dip and temptations rise. Auben needs to rid himself of these maddening voices before they cause him to lose track of time. To lose his mind. And to lose his . . . TEMPER.
Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas
Type: Part of the DC Icons series
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Release date: August 7th
When the Bat's away, the Cat will play. It's time to see how many lives this cat really has.
Two years after escaping Gotham City's slums, Selina Kyle returns as the mysterious and wealthy Holly Vanderhees. She quickly discovers that with Batman off on a vital mission, Gotham City looks ripe for the taking.
Meanwhile, Luke Fox wants to prove that as Batwing he has what it takes to help people. He targets a new thief on the prowl who has teamed up with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. Together, they are wreaking havoc. This Catwoman is clever--she may be Batwing's undoing.
In this third DC Icons book, Selina is playing a desperate game of cat and mouse, forming unexpected friendships and entangling herself with Batwing by night and her devilishly handsome neighbor Luke Fox by day. But with a dangerous threat from the past on her tail, will she be able to pull off the heist that's closest to her heart?
Privateer by Margaret Weis & Robert Krammes
Type: Second in the Dragon Corsairs trilogy
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: August 7th
The swashbuckling adventures of Captain Kate Fitzmaurice continues in Privateer with another thrilling epic tale of the Dragon Corsairs from New York Times bestselling author Margaret Weis and Robert Krammes.
Captain Kate soon escapes from prison and saves her crew with the help of Prince Tom. She and her crew are drawn ever deeper into the intrigue and danger of doing business in the kingdom. With them running out of allies and left with nowhere to turn, Kate and Tom strike out on their own.
The Black God's Drums by P. Djèlí Clark
Release date: August 21st
Rising science fiction and fantasy star P. Djèlí Clark brings an alternate New Orleans of orisha, airships, and adventure to life in his immersive debut novella The Black God's Drums.
In an alternate New Orleans caught in the tangle of the American Civil War, the wall-scaling girl named Creeper yearns to escape the streets for the air--in particular, by earning a spot on-board the airship Midnight Robber. Creeper plans to earn Captain Ann-Marie’s trust with information she discovers about a Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls The Black God’s Drums.
But Creeper also has a secret herself: Oya, the African orisha of the wind and storms, speaks inside her head, and may have her own ulterior motivations.
Soon, Creeper, Oya, and the crew of the Midnight Robber are pulled into a perilous mission aimed to stop the Black God’s Drums from being unleashed and wiping out the entirety of New Orleans.
Hollywood Dead: A Sandman Slim Novel by Richard Kadrey
Type: Tenth book in Sandman Slim series
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release date: August 28th
Life and death takes on an entirely new meaning for half-angel, half-human hero James Stark, aka, Sandman Slim, in this insanely inventive, high-intensity tenth supernatural noir thriller in the New York Times bestselling series.
James Stark is back from Hell, trailing more trouble in his wake. To return to L.A., he had to make a deal with the evil power brokers, Wormwood—an arrangement that came with a catch. While he may be home, Stark isn’t quite himself . . . because he’s only partially alive.
There’s a time limit on his reanimated body, and unless Stark can find the people targeting Wormwood, he will die again—and this time there will be no coming back. Even though he’s armed with the Room of Thirteen Doors, Stark knows he can’t find Wormwood’s enemies alone. To succeed he’s got to enlist the help of new friends—plus a few unexpected old faces.
Stark has been in dangerous situations before—you don’t get named Sandman Slim for nothing. But with a mysterious enemy on the loose, a debt to pay, and a clock ticking down, this may truly be the beginning of his end. . . .
Ravencry by Ed McDonald
Type: Second book in the Raven's Mark series
Release date: August 21st
In the second gritty installment of the Raven's Mark series, a bounty hunter faces down the darkest evil.
Ryhalt Galharrow is a blackwing--a bounty hunter who seeks out and turns over any man, woman, or child who has been compromised by the immortals known as the Deep Kings. Four years have passed since he helped drive the Deep Kings back across the Misery. But new and darker forces are rising against the republic...
The Fall of Gondolin by J.R.R. Tolkien (edited by Christopher Tolkien)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release date: August 30th
In the Tale of The Fall of Gondolin are two of the greatest powers in the world. There is Morgoth of the uttermost evil, unseen in this story but ruling over a vast military power from his fortress of Angband. Deeply opposed to Morgoth is Ulmo, second in might only to Manwë, chief of the Valar: he is called the Lord of Waters, of all seas, lakes, and rivers under the sky. But he works in secret in Middle-earth to support the Noldor, the kindred of the Elves among whom were numbered Húrin and Túrin Turambar. Central to this enmity of the gods is the city of Gondolin, beautiful but undiscoverable. It was built and peopled by Noldorin Elves who, when they dwelt in Valinor, the land of the gods, rebelled against their rule and fled to Middle-earth. Turgon King of Gondolin is hated and feared above all his enemies by Morgoth, who seeks in vain to discover the marvellously hidden city, while the gods in Valinor in heated debate largely refuse to intervene in support of Ulmo’s desires and designs. Into this world comes Tuor, cousin of Túrin, the instrument of Ulmo’s designs. Guided unseen by him Tuor sets out from the land of his birth on the fearful journey to Gondolin, and in one of the most arresting moments in the history of Middle-earth the sea-god himself appears to him, rising out of the ocean in the midst of a storm. In Gondolin he becomes great; he is wedded to Idril, Turgon’s daughter, and their son is Eärendel, whose birth and profound importance in days to come is foreseen by Ulmo. At last comes the terrible ending. Morgoth learns through an act of supreme treachery all that he needs to mount a devastating attack on the city, with Balrogs and dragons and numberless Orcs. After a minutely observed account of the fall of Gondolin, the tale ends with the escape of Túrin and Idril, with the child Eärendel, looking back from a cleft in the mountains as they flee southward, at the blazing wreckage of their city. They were journeying into a new story, the Tale of Eärendel, which Tolkien never wrote, but which is sketched out in this book from other sources. Following his presentation of Beren and Lúthien Christopher Tolkien has used the same ‘history in sequence’ mode in the writing of this edition of The Fall of Gondolin. In the words of J.R.R. Tolkien, it was ‘the first real story of this imaginary world’ and, together with Beren and Lúthien and The Children of Húrin, he regarded it as one of the three ‘Great Tales’ of the Elder Days.
Best New Fantasy Books in July 2018
City of Lies by Sam Hawke
Type: First book in the Poison Wars series
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: July 3
I was seven years old the first time my uncle poisoned me...
Outwardly, Jovan is the lifelong friend of the Chancellor’s charming, irresponsible Heir. Quiet. Forgettable. In secret, he's a master of poisons and chemicals, trained to protect the Chancellor’s family from treachery. When the Chancellor succumbs to an unknown poison and an army lays siege to the city, Jovan and his sister Kalina must protect the Heir and save their city-state.
But treachery lurks in every corner, and the ancient spirits of the land are rising...and angry.
The Book of Hidden Things by Francesco Dimitri
Type: Standalone (for now)
Publisher: Titan Books
Release date: July 3
Four old school friends have a pact: to meet up every year in the small town in Puglia they grew up in. Art, the charismatic leader of the group and creator of the pact, insists that the agreement must remain unshakable and enduring. But this year, he never shows up.
A visit to his house increases the friends' worry; Art is farming marijuana. In Southern Italy doing that kind of thing can be very dangerous. They can't go to the Carabinieri so must make enquiries of their own. This is how they come across the rumours about Art; bizarre and unbelievable rumours that he miraculously cured the local mafia boss's daughter of terminal leukaemia. And among the chaos of his house, they find a document written by Art, The Book of Hidden Things, that promises to reveal dark secrets and wonders beyond anything previously known.
Francesco Dimitri's first novel written in English, following his career as one of the most significant fantasy writers in Italy, will entrance fans of Elena Ferrante, Neil Gaiman and Donna Tartt. Set in the beguiling and seductive landscape of Southern Italy, this story is about friendship and landscape, love and betrayal; above all it is about the nature of mystery itself.
Heroine's Journey by Sarah Kuhn
Type: Third book in the Heroine Complex series
Release date: July 3
If there's one thing Beatrice Tanaka never wanted to be, it's normal. But somehow, her life has unfolded as a series of "should haves." Her powers of emotional projection should have made her one of the most formidable superheroes of all time. And she should have been allowed to join her older sister Evie as a full-fledged protector of San Francisco, pulverizing the city's plethora of demon threats.
But Evie and her superheroing partner, Aveda Jupiter, insist on seeing Bea as the impulsive, tempestuous teenager she used to be--even though she's now a responsible adult. And that means Bea is currently living a thoroughly normal life. She works as a bookstore lackey, hangs out with best friends Sam Fujikawa and Leah Kim, and calms her workplace's more difficult customers. Sure, she's not technically supposed to be playing with people's mental states. But given the mundanity of her existence, who can blame her?
When a mysterious being starts communicating with Bea, hinting at an evil that's about to overtake the city, she seizes the opportunity, hoping to turn her "should haves" into the fabulous heroic life she's always wanted. But gaining that life may mean sacrificing everything--and everyone--she holds dear...
The Empire of Ashes by Anthony Ryan
Type: Third book in the Draconis Memoria series
Release date: July 3
For hundreds of years, the Ironship Trading Syndicate was fueled by drake blood--and protected by the Blood-blessed, those few who could drink it and wield fearsome powers. But now the very thing that sustained the corporate world threatens to destroy it.
A drake of unimaginable power has risen, and it commands an army of both beasts and men. Rogue Blood-blessed Claydon Torcreek, Syndicate agent Lizanne Lethridge, and Ironship captain Corrick Hilemore, spread to disparate corners of the world, must rely upon the new powers and knowledge they have gained at great price to halt its forces--or face the end of all they know.
European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman by Theodora Goss
Type: Second book in the Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club series
Release date: July 10
In the sequel to the critically acclaimed The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, Mary Jekyll and the rest of the daughters of literature’s mad scientists embark on a madcap adventure across Europe to rescue another monstrous girl and stop the Alchemical Society’s nefarious plans once and for all.
Mary Jekyll’s life has been peaceful since she helped Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson solve the Whitechapel Murders. Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, Justine Frankenstein, and Mary’s sister Diana Hyde have settled into the Jekyll household in London, and although they sometimes quarrel, the members of the Athena Club get along as well as any five young women with very different personalities. At least they can always rely on Mrs. Poole.
But when Mary receives a telegram that Lucinda Van Helsing has been kidnapped, the Athena Club must travel to the Austro-Hungarian Empire to rescue yet another young woman who has been subjected to horrific experimentation. Where is Lucinda, and what has Professor Van Helsing been doing to his daughter? Can Mary, Diana, Beatrice, and Justine reach her in time?
Racing against the clock to save Lucinda from certain doom, the Athena Club embarks on a madcap journey across Europe. From Paris to Vienna to Budapest, Mary and her friends must make new allies, face old enemies, and finally confront the fearsome, secretive Alchemical Society. It’s time for these monstrous gentlewomen to overcome the past and create their own destinies.
Spinning Silver: A Novel by Naomi Novik
Type: Standalone (expanded from a short story in The Starlit Wood)
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: July 10
With the Nebula Award–winning Uprooted, Naomi Novik opened a brilliant new chapter in an already acclaimed career, delving into the magic of fairy tales to craft a love story that was both timeless and utterly of the now. Spinning Silver draws readers deeper into this glittering realm of fantasy, where the boundary between wonder and terror is thinner than a breath, and safety can be stolen as quickly as a kiss.
Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father’s inability to collect his debts has left his family on the edge of poverty—until Miryem takes matters into her own hands. Hardening her heart, the young woman sets out to claim what is owed and soon gains a reputation for being able to turn silver into gold.
When an ill-advised boast draws the attention of the king of the Staryk—grim fey creatures who seem more ice than flesh—Miryem’s fate, and that of two kingdoms, will be forever altered. Set an impossible challenge by the nameless king, Miryem unwittingly spins a web that draws in a peasant girl, Wanda, and the unhappy daughter of a local lord who plots to wed his child to the dashing young tsar.
But Tsar Mirnatius is not what he seems. And the secret he hides threatens to consume the lands of humans and Staryk alike. Torn between deadly choices, Miryem and her two unlikely allies embark on a desperate quest that will take them to the limits of sacrifice, power, and love.
Channeling the vibrant heart of myth and fairy tale, Spinning Silver weaves a multilayered, magical tapestry that readers will want to return to again and again.
Deep Roots by Ruthanna Emrys
Type: Second book in the Innsmouth Legacy series
Release date: July 10
Ruthanna Emrys’ Innsmouth Legacy, which began with Winter Tide and continues with Deep Roots, confronts H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos head-on, boldly upturning his fear of the unknown with a heart-warming story of found family, acceptance, and perseverance in the face of human cruelty and the cosmic apathy of the universe. Emrys brings together a family of outsiders, bridging the gaps between the many people marginalized by the homogenizing pressure of 1940s America.
Aphra Marsh, descendant of the People of the Water, has survived Deep One internment camps and made a grudging peace with the government that destroyed her home and exterminated her people on land. Deep Rootscontinues Aphra’s journey to rebuild her life and family on land, as she tracks down long-lost relatives. She must repopulate Innsmouth or risk seeing it torn down by greedy developers, but as she searches she discovers that people have been going missing. She will have to unravel the mystery, or risk seeing her way of life slip away.
Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell
Type: First book in Spellslinger series
Release date: July 17
Kellen is moments away from facing his first duel and proving his worth as a spellcaster. There's just one problem: his magic is fading.
Facing exile unless he can pass the mage trials, Kellen is willing to risk everything - even his own life - in search of a way to restore his magic. But when the enigmatic Ferius Parfax arrives in town, she challenges him to take a different path.
One of the elusive Argosi, Ferius is a traveller who lives by her wits and the cards she carries. Daring, unpredictable, and wielding magic Kellen has never seen before, she may be his only hope.
The first novel in a compelling six-book series, bursting with tricks, humor, and a whole new way to look at magic.
The Girl in the Green Silk Gown by Seanan McGuire
Type: Second book in Ghost Roads series
Release date: July 17
For Rose Marshall, death has long since become the only life she really knows. She’s been sweet sixteen for more than sixty years, hitchhiking her way along the highways and byways of America, sometimes seen as an avenging angel, sometimes seen as a killer in her own right, but always Rose, the Phantom Prom Date, the Girl in the Green Silk Gown.
The man who killed her is still out there, thanks to a crossroads bargain that won’t let him die, and he’s looking for the one who got away. When Bobby Cross comes back into the picture, there’s going to be hell to pay—possibly literally.
Rose has worked for decades to make a place for herself in the twilight. Can she defend it, when Bobby Cross comes to take her down? Can she find a way to navigate the worlds of the living and the dead, and make it home before her hitchhiker’s luck runs out? There’s only one way to know for sure.
The Descent of Monsters by JY Yang
Type: Third book in Tensorate series
Release date: July 31
Something terrible happened at the Rewar Teng Institute of Experimental Methods. When the Tensorate’s investigators arrived, they found a sea of blood and bones as far as the eye could see. One of the institute’s experiments got loose, and its rage left no survivors. The investigators returned to the capital with few clues and two prisoners: the terrorist leader Sanao Akeha and a companion known only as Rider.
Investigator Chuwan faces a puzzle. What really happened at the institute? What drew the Machinists there? What are her superiors trying to cover up? And why does she feel as if her strange dreams are forcing her down a narrowing path she cannot escape?
Best New Fantasy Books in June 2018
Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Type: Hardcover repackage of the first book in the (so, so good) Villians series
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: May 29
Victor and Eli started out as college roommates―brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.
Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find―aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge―but who will be left alive at the end?
In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn't automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.
Brief Cases by Jim Butcher
Type: Short stories from the Dresden Files series
Release date: June 5
The world of Harry Dresden, Chicago's only professional wizard, is rife with intrigue--and creatures of all supernatural stripes. And you'll make their intimate acquaintance as Harry delves into the dark side of truth, justice, and the American way in this must-have short story collection.
From the Wild West to the bleachers at Wrigley Field, humans, zombies, incubi, and even fey royalty appear, ready to blur the line between friend and foe. In the never-before-published "Zoo Day," Harry treads new ground as a dad, while fan-favorite characters Molly Carpenter, his onetime apprentice, White Council Warden Anastasia Luccio, and even Bigfoot stalk through the pages of more classic tales.
With twelve stories in all, Brief Cases offers both longtime fans and first-time readers tantalizing glimpses into Harry's funny, gritty, and unforgettable realm, whetting their appetites for more to come from the wizard with a heart of gold.
The Memory of Fire by Callie Bates
Type: Second book in Waking Land series
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: June 5
Thanks to the magic of Elanna Valtai and the Paladisan noble Jahan Korakides, the lands once controlled by the empire of Paladis have won their independence. But as Elanna exhausts her powers restoring the ravaged land, news that the emperor is readying an invasion spurs Jahan on a desperate mission to establish peace.
Going back to Paladis proves to be anything but peaceful, however. As magic is a crime in the empire, punishable by death, Jahan must hide his abilities. Nonetheless, the grand inquisitor’s hunters suspect him of sorcery, and mysterious, urgent messages from the witch who secretly trained Jahan only increase his danger of exposure. Worst of all, the crown prince has turned his back on Jahan, robbing him of the royal protection he once enjoyed.
As word of Jahan’s return spreads, long-sheathed knives, sharp and deadly, are drawn again. And when Elanna, stripped of her magic, is brought to the capital in chains, Jahan must face down the traumas of his past to defeat the shadowy enemies threatening his true love’s life, and the future of the revolution itself.
The Traitor God by Cameron Johnston
Type: First in a trilogy
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release date: June 5
After ten years on the run, dodging daemons and debt, reviled magician Edrin Walker returns home to avenge the brutal murder of his friend. Lynas had uncovered a terrible secret, something that threatened to devour the entire city. He tried to warn the Arcanum, the sorcerers who rule the city. He failed. Lynas was skinned alive and Walker felt every cut. Now nothing will stop him from finding the murderer. Magi, mortals, daemons, and even the gods – Walker will burn them all if he has to. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time he’s killed a god...
A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir
Type: Third book in the An Ember in the Ashes series
Release date: June 12
Beyond the Martial Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.
Helene Aquilla, the Blood Shrike, is desperate to protect her sister's life and the lives of everyone in the Empire. But she knows that danger lurks on all sides: Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable and violent, while Keris Veturia, the ruthless Commandant, capitalizes on the Emperor's volatility to grow her own power--regardless of the carnage she leaves in her path.
Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. But in the hunt to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would help her, and is drawn into a battle she never thought she'd have to fight.
And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. But in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that demands his complete surrender--even if that means abandoning the woman he loves.
Starless by Jacqueline Carey
Type: Standalone (so far)
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: June 12
I was nine years old the first time I tried to kill a man...
Destined from birth to serve as protector of the princess Zariya, Khai is trained in the arts of killing and stealth by a warrior sect in the deep desert; yet there is one profound truth that has been withheld from him.
In the court of the Sun-Blessed, Khai must learn to navigate deadly intrigue and his own conflicted identity…but in the far reaches of the western seas, the dark god Miasmus is rising, intent on nothing less than wholesale destruction.
If Khai is to keep his soul’s twin Zariya alive, their only hope lies with an unlikely crew of prophecy-seekers on a journey that will take them farther beneath the starless skies than anyone can imagine.
Witchmark by C.L. Polk
Type: Standalone (so far)
Release date: June 19
In an original world reminiscent of Edwardian England in the shadow of a World War, cabals of noble families use their unique magical gifts to control the fates of nations, while one young man seeks only to live a life of his own.
Magic marked Miles Singer for suffering the day he was born, doomed either to be enslaved to his family's interest or to be committed to a witches' asylum. He went to war to escape his destiny and came home a different man, but he couldn’t leave his past behind. The war between Aeland and Laneer leaves men changed, strangers to their friends and family, but even after faking his own death and reinventing himself as a doctor at a cash-strapped veterans' hospital, Miles can’t hide what he truly is.
When a fatally poisoned patient exposes Miles’ healing gift and his witchmark, he must put his anonymity and freedom at risk to investigate his patient’s murder. To find the truth he’ll need to rely on the family he despises, and on the kindness of the most gorgeous man he’s ever seen.
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhoarse
Type: First book in the Sixth World series
Publisher: Saga Press
Release date: June 26
While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters.
Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last best hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much more terrifying than anything she could imagine.
Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel the rez, unraveling clues from ancient legends, trading favors with tricksters, and battling dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology.
As Maggie discovers the truth behind the killings, she will have to confront her past if she wants to survive.
Welcome to the Sixth World.
Which fantasy books are you most looking forward to checking out? Let us know in the comments below or in our Den of Geek Book Club on Goodreads.
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!