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- 12/17/18--17:16: Best New Horror Books in December 2018
- 12/18/18--14:19: Detective Comics #1000 Features Legendary Batman Creators
- 12/20/18--11:08: The Amazing Spider-Man TV Series Deserves an Official Release
- 12/20/18--14:37: Locke & Key Netflix TV Series Cast Members Revealed
- 12/20/18--15:51: Deadly Class TV Pilot Released Early by Syfy
- 12/20/18--18:39: Aquaman: Complete DC Comics Easter Eggs and DCEU Reference Guide
- 12/21/18--19:30: The Best Fiction Books of 2018
- 12/24/18--13:44: Join the Den of Geek Book Club!
- 12/26/18--15:12: Queen: Album by Album Review: Hits and Deep Cuts Come Alive
- 12/27/18--12:23: The Best Comics of 2018
- 12/28/18--12:46: Best Stan Lee Comics: A Marvel Reading Guide
- 12/28/18--12:51: Invisible Kingdom: Exclusive First Look at New Space Opera
- 12/07/18--13:04: Avengers: Endgame - How Thanos Could be Defeated
- 12/30/18--23:11: Avengers: Infinity War Easter Eggs and Marvel Reference Guide
- 12/31/18--13:40: Avengers: Infinity War Comics Reading Order
- 12/31/18--14:00: The Dark Tower TV Series: Release Date, Story Details, and News
- 12/31/18--17:00: 35 Best Video Games to Play in 2019
- 01/02/19--10:50: The Joker Looms Large in Detective Comics #995
- 01/03/19--16:39: Gerard Way on Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion and the TV Series
- 01/04/19--21:50: Raising Dion Cast, News, Release Date, and More
Looking for a good horror read? Here are some of the best new horror books to be released in December 2018.
There's never a bad time of year to read a creepy classic, and that includes the winter holiday season! Here are some of the horror books coming out in December that we are most looking forward to checking out here at Den of Geek...
Best New Horror Books in December 2018
The Day the Sun Died by Yan Lianke (Translated by Carlos Rojas)
Type: Standalone novel
Publisher: Grove Press
Release date: December 11th
Yan Lianke has secured his place as contemporary China’s most essential and daring novelist, “with his superlative gifts for storytelling and penetrating eye for truth” (New York Times Book Review). His newest novel, The Day the Sun Died―winner of the Dream of the Red Chamber Award, one of the most prestigious honors for Chinese-language novels―is a haunting story of a town caught in a waking nightmare.
In a little village nestled in the Balou mountains, fourteen-year-old Li Niannian and his parents run a funeral parlor. One evening, he notices a strange occurrence. Instead of preparing for bed, more and more neighbors appear in the streets and fields, carrying on with their daily business as if the sun hadn’t already set. Li Niannian watches, mystified. As hundreds of residents are found dreamwalking, they act out the desires they’ve suppressed during waking hours. Before long, the community devolves into chaos, and it’s up to Li Niannian and his parents to save the town before sunrise.
Set over the course of one increasingly bizarre night, The Day the Sun Died is a propulsive, darkly sinister tale from a world-class writer.
Kingdom of Needle and Bone by Mira Grant
Type: Standalone novel
Release date: December 31st
We live in an age of wonders. Modern medicine has conquered or contained many of the diseases that used to carry children away before their time, reducing mortality and improving health. Vaccination and treatment are widely available, not held in reserve for the chosen few. There are still monsters left to fight, but the old ones, the simple ones, trouble us no more. Or so we thought. For with the reduction in danger comes the erosion of memory, as pandemics fade from memory into story into fairy tale. Those old diseases can't have been so bad, people say, or we wouldn't be here to talk about them. They don't matter. They're never coming back. How wrong we could be. It begins with a fever. By the time the spots appear, it's too late: Morris's disease is loose on the world, and the bodies of the dead begin to pile high in the streets. When its terrible side consequences for the survivors become clear, something must be done, or the dying will never stop. For Dr. Isabella Gauley, whose niece was the first confirmed victim, the route forward is neither clear nor strictly ethical, but it may be the only way to save a world already in crisis. It may be the only way to atone for her part in everything that s happened. She will never be forgiven, not by herself, and not by anyone else. But she can, perhaps, do the right thing. We live in an age of monsters.
Best New Horror Books in November 2018
Creatures of Want and Ruin by Molly Tanzer
Type: Standalone novel
Release date: November 13th
Amityville baywoman Ellie West fishes by day and bootlegs moonshine by night. It’s dangerous work under Prohibition—independent operators like her are despised by federal agents and mobsters alike—but Ellie’s brother was accepted to college and Ellie’s desperate to see him go. So desperate that when wealthy strangers ask her to procure libations for an extravagant party Ellie sells them everything she has, including some booze she acquired under unusual circumstances. What Ellie doesn’t know is that this booze is special. Distilled from foul mushrooms by a cult of diabolists, those who drink it see terrible things—like the destruction of Long Island in fire and flood. The cult is masquerading as a church promising salvation through temperance and a return to “the good old days,” so it’s hard for Ellie to take a stand against them, especially when her father joins, but Ellie loves Long Island, and she loves her family, and she’ll do whatever it takes to ensure neither is torn apart.
The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories, Volume Three
Type: Collection of stories
Publisher: Valancourt Books
Release date: November 20th
A new collection of twenty ghostly tales of Yuletide terror, collected from rare Victorian periodicals
Seeking to capitalize on the success of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol (1843), Victorian newspapers and magazines frequently featured ghost stories at Christmas time, and reading them by candlelight or the fireside became an annual tradition, a tradition Valancourt Books is pleased to continue with our series of Victorian Christmas ghost stories. This third volume contains twenty tales, most of them never before reprinted. They represent a mix of the diverse styles and themes common to Victorian ghost fiction and include works by once-popular authors like Ellen Wood and Charlotte Riddell as well as contributions from anonymous or wholly forgotten writers. This volume also features a new introduction by Prof. Simon Stern.
“Before me, with the sickly light from the lantern shining right down upon it, was—a cloven hoof! Then the awfulness of the compact I had made came to my mind with terrible force ...” - Frederick Manley, “The Ghost of the Cross-Roads”
“By the fireplace there was a large hideous pool of blood soaking into the carpet, and leaving ghastly stains around. I am not ashamed to confess that my brain reeled; the mysterious horror overcame me ...” - Lillie Harris, “19, Great Hanover Street”
“A fearful white face comes to me; a horrible mask, with features drawn as in agony—ghastly, pale, hideous! Death or approaching death, violent death, written in every line. Every feature distorted. Eyes starting from the head. Thin lips moving and working—lips that are cursing, although I hear no sound.” - Hugh Conway, “A Dead Man’s Face”
Lip Hook: A Tale of Rural Unease by David Hine & Mark Stafford
Type: Graphic Novel
Release date: November 27th
Somewhere in the British Isles, at the end of a neglected road, there is a village called Lip Hook. For its inhabitants, the village is more than the end of the road—it’s the end of the world. Beyond it, there is nothing but mist-shrouded marshland. Few travelers take the road to Lip Hook, but one foggy night, a car speeds perilously toward the village. The driver is a dangerously beautiful woman, the passenger a man with a gunshot wound and a suitcase containing a treasure he has risked his life for. Cash-strapped but in need of a place to hide, the two fugitives seek shelter at the Hanged Man Inn, where the woman persuades the innkeeper to accept payment in kind. As days pass and the woman extends her services to more of Lip Hook's men, among them the village priest, a false faith grips the community—and reason, logic, and humanity begin to disappear.
The Dinosaur Tourist by Caitlin R. Kiernan
Collection of short fiction
Publisher: Subterranean Press
Release date: November 30th
Almost nothing is only what it seems to be at first glance. Appearances can be deceiving and first impressions often lead us disastrously astray. If we're not careful, assumption and expectation can betray us all the way to madness and death and damnation. In The Dinosaur Tourist, Caitlín R. Kiernan's fifteenth collection of short fiction, nineteen tales of the unexpected and the uncanny explore that treacherous gulf between what we suppose the world to be and what might actually be waiting out beyond the edges of our day-to-day experience. A mirror may be a window into another time. A cat may be our salvation. Your lover may be a fabulous being. And a hitchhiker may turn out to be anyone at all.
Best New Horror Books in October 2018
Blood Communion by Anne Rice
Type: Part of the Vampire Chronicles series
Release date: October 2nd
The Vampire Chronicles continue with a riveting, rich saga--part adventure, part suspense--of Prince Lestat and the story of the Blood Communion as he tells the tale of his coming to rule the vampire world and the eternal struggle to find belonging, a place in the universe for the undead, and how, against his will, he must battle the menacing, seemingly unstoppable force determined to thwart his vision and destroy the entire vampire netherworld.
In this spellbinding novel, Lestat, rebel outlaw, addresses the tribe of vampires, directly, intimately, passionately, and tells the mesmerizing story of the formation of the Blood Communion and how he became Prince of the vampire world, the true ruler of this vast realm, and how his vision for all the Children of the Universe to thrive as one, came to be.
The tale spills from Lestat's heart, as he speaks first of his new existence as reigning monarch--and then of his fierce battle of wits and words with the mysterious Rhoshamandes, proud Child of the Millennia, reviled outcast for his senseless slaughter of the legendary ancient vampire Maharet, avowed enemy of Queen Akasha; Rhoshamandes, a demon spirit who refuses to live in harmony at the Court of Prince Lestat and threatens all that Lestat has dreamt of.
As the tale unfolds, Lestat takes us from the towers and battlements of his ancestral castle in the snow-covered mountains of France to the verdant wilds of lush Louisiana with its lingering fragrances of magnolias and night jasmine; from the far reaches of the Pacific's untouched islands to the 18th-century city of St. Petersburg and the court of the Empress Catherine...
Plight of the Living Dead: What Real-Life Zombies Reveal About Our World—And Ourselves
Type: Standalone non-fiction
Release date: October 2nd
A brain-bending exploration of real-life zombies and mind controllers, and what they reveal to us about nature—and ourselves.
Zombieism isn’t just the stuff of movies and TV shows like The Walking Dead. It’s real, and it’s happening in the world around us, from wasps and worms to dogs and moose—and even humans.
In Plight of the Living Dead, science journalist Matt Simon documents his journey through the bizarre evolutionary history of mind control. Along the way, he visits a lab where scientists infect ants with zombifying fungi, joins the search for kamikaze crickets in the hills of New Mexico, and travels to Israel to meet the wasp that stings cockroaches in the brain before leading them to their doom.
Nothing Hollywood dreams up can match the brilliant, horrific zombies that natural selection has produced time and time again. Plight of the Living Dead is a surreal dive into a world that would be totally unbelievable if very smart scientists didn’t happen to be proving it’s real, and most troublingly—or maybe intriguingly—of all: how even we humans are affected.
Dracul by Dacre Stoker and JD Barker
Type: Prequel to Dracula
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Release date: October 2nd
The prequel to Dracula, inspired by notes and texts left behind by the author of the classic novel, Dracul is a supernatural thriller that reveals not only Dracula’s true origins but Bram Stoker’s—and the tale of the enigmatic woman who connects them.
It is 1868, and a twenty-one-year-old Bram Stoker waits in a desolate tower to face an indescribable evil. Armed only with crucifixes, holy water, and a rifle, he prays to survive a single night, the longest of his life. Desperate to record what he has witnessed, Bram scribbles down the events that led him here...
A sickly child, Bram spent his early days bedridden in his parents' Dublin home, tended to by his caretaker, a young woman named Ellen Crone. When a string of strange deaths occur in a nearby town, Bram and his sister Matilda detect a pattern of bizarre behavior by Ellen—a mystery that deepens chillingly until Ellen vanishes suddenly from their lives. Years later, Matilda returns from studying in Paris to tell Bram the news that she has seen Ellen—and that the nightmare they've thought long ended is only beginning.
The World of Lore: Dreadful Places by Aaron Mahnke
Type: Standalone non-fiction
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: October 9th
Captivating stories of the places where human evil has left a nefarious mark, featuring stories from the podcast Lore—now a streaming television series—including “Echoes,” “Withering Heights,” and “Behind Closed Doors” as well as rare material.
Sometimes you walk into a room, a building, or even a town, and you feel it. Something seems off—an atmosphere that leaves you oddly unsettled, with a sense of lingering darkness. Join Aaron Mahnke, the host of the popular podcast Lore, as he explores some of these dreadful places and the history that haunts them. Mahnke takes us to Colorado and the palatial Stanley Hotel, where wealthy guests enjoyed views of the Rocky Mountains at the turn of the twentieth century—and where, decades later, a restless author would awaken from a nightmare, inspired to write one of the most revered horror novels of all time. Mahnke also crosses land and sea to visit frightful sites—from New Orleans to Richmond, Virginia, to the brooding, ancient castles of England—each with its own echoes of dark deeds, horrible tragedies, and shocking evil still resounding. Filled with evocative illustrations, this eerie tour of lurid landmarks and doomed destinations is just the ticket to take armchair travelers with a taste for the macabre to places they never thought they’d visit in their wildest, scariest dreams.
I Am Behind You by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Type: Standalone novel
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release date: October 16th
A compelling, eerie new novel from the internationally bestselling author of Let the Right One In.
"At the top of his game, Lindqvist gives Stephen King and John Saul at their best a run for the money."—Library Journal (starred)
"Dubbed the Stephen King of Sweden, Lindqvist lives up to the billing."—New York Post
Four families wake up one morning in their trailer on an ordinary campsite. However, during the night something strange has happened. Everything outside the camping grounds has disappeared, and the world has been transformed into an endless expanse of grass. The sky is blue, but there is no sign of the sun; there are no trees, no flowers, no birds. And every radio plays nothing but the songs of sixties pop icon Peter Himmelstrand.
As the holiday-makers try to come to terms with what has happened, they are forced to confront their deepest fears and secret desires. Past events that each of them has tried to bury rise to the surface and take on terrifying physical forms. Can any of them find a way back to reality?
In the House in the Dark of the Woods by Laird Hunt
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Release date: October 16th
The eerie, disturbing story of one of our perennial fascinations--witchcraft in colonial America--wrapped up in a lyrical novel of psychological suspense.
"Once upon a time there was and there wasn't a woman who went to the woods."
In this horror story set in colonial New England, a law-abiding Puritan woman goes missing. Or perhaps she has fled or abandoned her family. Or perhaps she's been kidnapped, and set loose to wander in the dense woods of the north. Alone and possibly lost, she meets another woman in the forest. Then everything changes.
On a journey that will take her through dark woods full of almost-human wolves, through a deep well wet with the screams of men, and on a living ship made of human bones, our heroine may find that the evil she flees has been inside her all along. In the House in the Dark of the Woodsis a novel of psychological horror and suspense told in Laird Hunt's characteristically lyrical prose style. It is the story of a bewitching, a betrayal, a master huntress and her quarry. It is a story of anger, of evil, of hatred and of redemption. It is the story of a haunting, a story that makes up the bedrock of American mythology, but told in a vivid way you will never forget.
Slender Man by Anonymous
Type: Epistolary novel
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release date: October 23rd
One man’s search for the truth about one of the most intriguing urban legends ever—the modern bogeyman, Slender Man—leads him down a dark, dangerous path in this creepy supernatural fantasy that will make you question where the line between dark myth and terrifying reality begins.
Lauren Bailey has disappeared. As friends at her exclusive school speculate on what happened and the police search for answers, Matt Barker dreams of trees and a black sky . . . and something drawing closer.
Through fragments of journals, news stories, and online conversations, a figure begins to emerge—a tall, slender figure—and all divisions between fiction and delusion, between nightmare and reality, begin to fall.
Chilling, eerie, and addictively readable, Slender Man is a unique spine-tingling story and a brilliant and frightening look at one of the most fascinating—and diabolical—mythical figures in modern times.
Alice Isn't Dead by Joseph Fink
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Release date: October 30th
From the New York Times bestselling co-author of It Devours! and Welcome to Night Vale comes a fast-paced thriller about a truck driver searching across America for the wife she had long assumed to be dead.
“This isn’t a story. It’s a road trip."
Keisha Taylor lived a quiet life with her wife, Alice, until the day that Alice disappeared. After months of searching, presuming she was dead, Keisha held a funeral, mourned, and gradually tried to get on with her life. But that was before Keisha started to see her wife, again and again, in the background of news reports from all over America. Alice isn’t dead, and she is showing up at every major tragedy and accident in the country.
Following a line of clues, Keisha takes a job with a trucking company, Bay and Creek Transportation, and begins searching for Alice. She eventually stumbles on an otherworldly conflict being waged in the quiet corners of our nation’s highway system—uncovering a conspiracy that goes way beyond one missing woman.
What horror 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!
Detective Comics #1000 will feature a who's who of legendary Batman creators. Here are the details...
Batman didn't tie the knot last summer, but he still has plenty to celebrate in 2019. In May, the Caped Crusader turns 80 after his debut in Detective Comics #27 in 1939. And there's another milestone: Detective Comics, one of the books that formed the backbone of the publisher we know today as DC Comics, is hitting its 1,000th issue in March. To mark the occasion, DC is publishing an extra-sized issue featuring many of the great creators who have worked on the Dark Knight over the years.
The issue will feature a story from the current Detective Comics creative team of Peter J. Tomasi and Doug Mahnke that will introduce a new version of the Arkham Knight, the villain from the Batman: Arkham Knight video game, to the comics. The issue will also feature a two-page spread from Jason Fabok spotlighting the current state of the Batman universe, as well as a wraparound cover from Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Alex Sinclair.
Here's the full lineup of guest creative teams for the milestone issue:
Kevin Smith and Jim Lee
Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev
Warren Ellis and Becky Cloonan
Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen
Denny O’Neil and Steve Epting (a sequel to O’Neil’s 1976 Detective Comicsstory “There’s No Hope in Crime Alley”)
Christopher Priest and Neal Adams
Geoff Johns and Kelley Jones
Tom King, Tony Daniel, and Joëlle Jones
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo
James Tynion IV and Alvaro Martinez
Variant covers include work from Steve Rude, Michael Cho, Jim Steranko, Bernie Wrightson, Frank Miller, Tim Sale, Jock, Greg Capullo, and Bruce Timm.
“Batman is one of the most enduring characters in popular culture, and his debut in Detective Comics represented a pivotal moment in comics and pioneered a new type of superhero that would appeal to every generation,” said DC Publisher Dan DiDio in a press release. “Batman continues to have an impact on entertainment worldwide and the 1,000th issue of Detective Comics is a testament to the creative genius of Bob Kane and Bill Finger and is a fitting tribute to Batman on his 80th anniversary.”
This 96-page oversize collector’s edition issue will be available at comics retailers and digitally on March 27, 2019, for $9.99.
We look at why The Amazing Spider-Man TV show from the late '70s still has never had a DVD, Blu-ray, or digital release.
There's a good chance that if you're reading this, you've never really seen all that much of The Amazing Spider-Man, the live-action CBS TV series that aired between April 1978 and July 1979. The show produced a mere thirteen episodes (including two feature-length installments and an additional two-parter that sometimes aired as a TV movie), before vanishing into the abyss of infrequent basic cable airings, incomplete VHS releases, low-quality convention floor bootlegs, and finally, complete obscurity.
You've probably seen bits and pieces on the internet, wondered at the complete lack of memorable villains (a mad scientist with a grudge here, the occasional ninja there, and plenty of dudes in business suits), been blinded by the '70s fashions (those ties...so very wide), or snickered about Spidey's rope web-shooters and the show's relatively (by today's standards) low-budget look. But look a little closer, and you'll see what fans of the series do.
Nicholas Hammond's excellent Peter Parker deserves more recognition in the pantheon of superhero performances. The show's lo-fi aesthetic sometimes feels more true to Spider-Man's hard luck roots than most of the nine figure blockbusters that he's starred in. Most importantly, there are the incredible stunts. Spidey stuntman Fred Waugh most certainly scaled the sides of buildings, without the benfit of special effects, and often with a camera built into the headpiece of his Spidey rig. The occasional visible cable aside, there are some dizzying moments involving a very real Spider-Man dozens of stories up the side of a building, dangling from a helicopter, or in one (often reused) sequence, actually swinging from one building ledge to another.
After The Amazing Spider-Man left the airwaves, if you squinted hard enough, you might be able to spot it in your cable listings from time to time, popping up on local stations specializing in syndicated content or basic cable channels like TBS, USA, or even The Sci-Fi Channel (in its pre-Syfy years). Home video releases were scarce, with several individual episodes made available by companies like Playhouse Video (who were owned by CBS) and low-rent VHS houses like Prism and Star Classics. To give you an idea of the quality involved, my copy of Star Classics'"Photo Finish" episode was defective and didn't have sound. I was a dissapointed little kid.
Not even the great Rhino Home Video, who partnered up with the Sci-Fi Channel in 1997 to release a number of episodes on VHS, wasn't complete or definitive. For one thing, they left out "The Captive Tower," which has never had any official home video release that I can find, and the one most often missing from basic cable marathons (although I distinctly remember Sci-Fi Channel airing it). Ironically, it's the series' best, most exciting episode. I've never actually seen the Rhino versions, and wasn't even aware of their existence until this writing, so I can't really speak to things like picture or sound quality, but Rhino have always been known for putting out loving releases, so I would have to imagine they were better than their predecessors.
Another problem is that several unrelated episodes were edited together for overseas release or for airing as three cable TV "movies." As a result, the most widely available versions of six of the series thirteen total episodes have been spliced together, which also makes it impossible to watch the series in production or airdate order. The versions of those single episodes that pop up on YouTube from time to time are of even lower quality, since most of those never saw any kind of home video release in unaltered form. If that sounds a little too OCD for you, consider this: even as a fan, I'm the first to admit that some of these aren't great, and on its best day The Amazing Spider-Man isn't exactly binge-watching material. It's better in smaller doses.
Den of Geek doesn't advocate piracy. But when something is unavailable via official channels for as long as The Amazing Spider-Man, fans are gonna do what fans are gonna do. Even most convention floor bootlegs I've come across simply don't have many of these episodes in their original format (the "spliced episodes" issue, etc). What's worse, the quality isn't always consistent from episode to episode. I have yet to find one set, for example, that uses the same sources throughout. It would seem that the Rhino/Sci-Fi Channel branded VHS releases would coincide with a brief period when Sci-Fi would air Spidey marathons, but I haven't come across one set sourced entirely from those airings or the VHS. There's a dedicated group of fans out there doing some restoring work of their own, and you can see hints of it here.
You would think that after nearly 40 years, and with Spider-Man being handily the superhero merchandising champion of the world (he buries Batman, for example), someone would have finally wised up and given us some kind of definitive official release for this series. While it's quite likely that the suits simply don't believe there's much demand for the series (and they might be right), I have to wonder. Warner Bros. have made similarly forgotten superhero fare like the SuperboyTV series available through their budget Warner Archive label, and Marvel.com for a number of years even made the complete live-action Japanese Spider-Man sentai available for free streaming (it's long gone, sadly). If they were willing to do it for that one, why not The Amazing Spider-Man?
Let's have a look...
There have been persistent rumors through the years that The Amazing Spider-Man was denied proper home video releases simply because Stan Lee is ashamed of the show. Lee was never a fan, for sure. "I felt the people who did the live-action series left out the very elements that made the comic book popular...They left out the humor. They left out the human interest and personality and playing up characterizations and personal problems," Lee said in an old interview. Lee did at least have high praise for the show's practical stunt work. Anyway, I'm not sure Stan Lee has the power to block a home video release like that. But is it possible that the rights to The Amazing Spider-Man are tied up in a legal web, similar to what prevented the release of the 1960s BatmanTV series on home video for so long?
A look at recent releases of other Spider-Man television properties on home video doesn't offer many clues. The most recent Spidey animated series, Ultimate Spider-Manis released via Buena Vista Home Entertainment (a division of Marvel parent company, Disney), as is the '90s animated cartoon. Spider-Man: The '67 Collection (an excellent collection of Spidey's original cartoon, which is now sadly out of print) came from Walt Disney Video. This all makes sense, right?
But recent efforts like the MTV Spider-Man animated series released in the wake of the first Sam Raimi film and the excellent but short-lived Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon were both released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. See why this is getting confusing? It's hard enough figuring out what the deal is with Marvel and Sony when it comes to who is allowed to use what in the wake of Spider-Man: Homecoming, but now they're both in charge of releasing home video versions of various TV projects featuring the webhead. Perhaps The Amazing Spider-Man is caught somewhere in the middle.
My quest to figure out who has the actual rights to put The Amazing Spider-Manout on home video didn't get far. Inquiries with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Marvel, Rhino, and even Syfy (that last one was a long shot, I admit) were dead ends. I had a brief e-mail exchange with Chuck Fries, president of Chuck Fries Productions, the company that produced The Amazing Spider-Man for CBS, who informed me that his company had distribution rights for the series for twenty years, after which the rights reverted "in total" to Marvel. Of course, that was right around the time that the other rights issues surrounding Spidey, the ones that kept him out of the movies for so long (that's a whole 'nother headache), were about to get resolved, and it doesn't answer the question of whether or not Sony then got control of the rights to this series as part of everything else. A few folks have told me that Disney does indeed currently have the rights to release the show, they're just not interested in doing it.
I still can't determine if there's something blocking any kind of official home video or digital release of this series. But assuming there are no legal hurdles to clear, it's time to release The Amazing Spider-Man in some form. Look, nobody expects this to get some kind of reverential, deluxe treatment along the lines of the joyously received Batman: The Complete Television Series. Batman '66 was a genuine pop culture phenomenon during its heyday, an inescapable component of syndicated television for the next twenty-five years, and it defined the general populace's perceptions of the character until Tim Burton and Michael Keaton came along. One can't say the same about The Amazing Spider-Man.
But fans (including this writer) would happily settle for cleaned up versions of these episodes released online for paid download or streaming. I don't expect much in the way of a physical release, but at the very least, I imagine that stuntman Fred Waugh (the man who wore the Spider-Man suit and dangled hundreds of feet above ground on the side of buildings, all while wearing what could be described as a primitive GoPro) has some interesting stories to tell about his dangerous time in the Spidey costume, which would make for a fine special feature.
Check out this bit of archival behind-the-scenes footage of Fred Waugh in the Spidey suit, which seriously looks like actual footage of actual Spider-Man creeping around the rooftops...
I had an informal chat via Twitter with George Khoury, co-author of the excellent Age of TV Heroes book available from TwoMorrows Publishing, and his take on the situation was the same as that of many fans: a resigned acceptance that there just isn't enough demand for a release. But he did say one thing, which we should probably take to heart. "The studios don't see this stuff as fans...it's our job to let them know they exist."
So maybe we should make some noise on social media. Do you want to see The Amazing Spider-Man get an official release? Let us know. Maybe we can get something going. I will continue to update this article if and when new information becomes available. But the fact that Spider-Man: Homecoming was a big box-office success and we still got no love for this show isn't encouraging.
In the meantime, there's a petition to the folks at Buena Vista Home Entertainment that you can sign. It's worth a shot, right?
Until then, I leave you with this glorious video, encompassing lots of the brilliant stuntwork that went into making this show, if nothing else, an interesting relic deserving of a second look. Dig the crazy tunes, too.
Mike Cecchini would sell you out so fast to get this series in high quality. Help him with his priorities on Twitter.
Everything we know about the Locke & Key TV show, which is headed for Netflix.
The Locke & Key TV series project has had a rough time, but its troubles finally appear to be over, thanks to Netflix.
Back in July 2016, THR revealed that Hulu gave the show adaptation of writer Joe Hill's IDW horror comic book series a pilot order, with Carlton Cuse (Lost) set to serve as showrunner. Auspiciously, Andy Muschietti (It, Mama) was on tap to direct the pilot after Doctor Strange's Scott Derrickson had to withdraw.
Unfortunately, after all that, Hulu passed on the project! However, Netflix eventually came in for the rescue... even if said rescue involved scrapping Hulu's pilot. Regardless, the Locke & Key TV series is finally happening, officially greenlit as a 10-episode series for Netflix!
Locke & Key Cast
Netflix has revealed, via Deadline, the young cast who will portray the Locke siblings in the streaming giant’s reworked version of the Locke & Key TV series.
Connor Jessup (American Crime, Falling Skies) will play Tyler Locke, who, as a teenager, is the oldest of the siblings.
Emilia Jones (Wolf Hall, Utopia) will play Kinsey Locke.
Jackson Robert Scott (It– as Georgie Denbrough) was previously added, set to play the youngest of the trio, Bode Locke. Interestingly, Scott was cast as Bode in the nixed Hulu iteration and, for now, stands as the only cast member confirmed for retention by Netflix.
While the streaming giant rescued the wayward comic-book-adapting project this past May after Hulu shot a pilot that was subsequently passed over for a pickup, the move involved crucial caveats. Indeed, Netflix’s series order came with the confirmation that Locke & Key will go back to the drawing board, re-casting while redeveloping the scripts, essentially scrapping the Hulu pilot, which starred Frances O’Connor and was directed by It helmer Andy Muschietti (who’s too busy with the sequel to handle the mulligan).
Interestingly, Netflix is opting to keep the Hulu iteration’s creative fulcrum, Joe Hill, who remains onboard as creator/writer/executive producer. The same goes for showrunner Carlton Cuse, known from Lost, The Strain, Bates Motel and Amazon’s upcoming Jack Ryan series. Cuse is now joined in that capacity by Meredith Averill, who’s worked on Jane the Virgin, Star-Crossed and The Good Wife, along with Netflix’s upcoming TV series horror reboot The Haunting of Hill House.
Locke & Key TV Show Details
Here's the main cast of Locke & Key, as gathered for the now-nixed Hulu pilot. For the sake of remembrance or possible pertinence, the Hulu iteration consisted of:
Frances O’Connor (The Conjuring 2, A.I. Artificial Intelligence) was to play Nina Locke. The story would have centered on O'Connor's Nina, who, after her husband’s gruesome murder, takes her three children to move into their ancestral home in Maine, the Keyhouse. However, the Keyhouse has centuries of connections to the supernatural, serving as a dimensional portal through which malevolent demons wish to cross. Moreover, the magical keys connected to the house – forged from the metallic remains of demons who’ve tried to cross the portal – contain powers beyond comprehension.
Sam Robards (Twisted, Gossip Girl) was to play Nina's ill-fated husband, Rendell Locke. Interestingly, this casting would have been an A.I. reunion, since Robards played the husband of O'Connor's character in that film.
Jack Mulhern (Walking to the Waterline) was to play Tyler Locke, the teenage son of Nina and Rendell. As the oldest of the young Locke siblings, Tyler finds himself as the man of the house, by default. This, of course, complicates his already-complicated adolescent existence enough. However, once his family moves into the supernatural-phenomena-plagued Keyhouse, his problems will exponentially increase.
Megan Charpentier (It, Mama) was to play Kinsey Locke, the middle child.
Jackson Robert Scott (It, Fear the Walking Dead) was to play Bode Locke, the youngest member of the Locke family. Bode is an optimistic, imaginative eight-year-old who is especially tuned into and vulnerable to the supernatural possibilities of the Keyhouse. (*Update: Netflix would keep Scott onboard as Bode.)
Nate Corddry (The Circle, The Marvelous Ms. Maisel) was to play Duncan Locke, Rendell’s younger brother and uncle to the trio of children. The actor also happens to be a younger brother to actor/comedian Rob Corddry.
Owen Teague (It, Bloodline) was to play Sam Lesser, a young man who’s suffered abuse, who is influenced by a spirit to carry out a murder that’s crucial to the story.
Danny Glover was to play a cameo role as Joe Ridgeway, an English teacher, described as “eccentric,” who works at Matheson Academy. There, he becomes a mentor to the Locke children and friend to their recently-widowed mother, Nina (Frances O’Connor). Yet, Joe knew Nina’s (brutally murdered) late husband, Rendell Locke, and is also aware of some of the tragic secrets that he withheld; secrets that are connected to his mysterious ancestral home, the Keyhouse, in which Nina and kids have now taken up residence.
Of course, there's another failed Locke & Key TV endeavors that predate Hulu's version.
In 2016, IDW Entertainment released news that Locke & Key writer Joe Hill (he wrote the story for the comics, with art by Gabriel Rodriguez) was on board to write the pilot and executive produce the TV show adaptation as a straight-to-series project. It's unclear how Hulu and Cuse's involvement might change that plan, but Hill had previously said in a statement:
I love this story. The seven years I spent working on Locke & Key was the happiest creative experience of my life, and there still isn’t a day when I don’t think about those characters and miss visiting with them. The six books of the series are very like six seasons of a cable TV series, and so it feels only natural to bring that world to the little screen and to see if we can’t scare the pants off viewers everywhere.
Locke & Key begins with the story of three siblings returning to their family's ancestral home following the brutal and mysterious murder of their father. As they explore the house and its surroundings, it becomes clear that there are wonderful and terrible things lurking on the grounds. It is a comic book horror classic.
Previously, a TV show adaptation made it all the way to the pilot stage, but never garnered a pick-up. The episode was screened at Comic Con in 2011 and, as someone who was there for said screening, I can vouch for its awesomeness — a character-driven exercise in horror that deserved to continue its story.
The TV adaptation had Josh Friedman as a showrunner (The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Avatar 2) and an all-star cast that included Miranda Otto, Sarah Bolger, and Ksenia Solo. Check out the trailer...
Sadly, this version of Locke & Key never made it past a pilot, but the pop culture world seems better poised to embrace an onscreen version of this horror comic now. Not only are there way more comic book adaptations on TV and film, but Joe Hill has attained a better industry foothold, especially with the recent film adaptaion of Horns. Hopefully, the Netflix adaptation is good and garners enough of an audience to ensure its continuation. Universe, you owe us this.
While the debut of Deadly Class won’t arrive until mid-January, Syfy went ahead and released the pilot for you to watch – now!
Deadly Class just issued some prerequisite material for its upcoming Syfy series launch, namely the pilot episode in its entirety!
That’s right, you don’t have to wait a single solitary second to catch exposition from the late-1980s-set series, which depicts the ruthless existence of teens in an eccentrically whimsical school for wizards... er, assassins. Indeed, the first episode of Deadly Class has been posted by Syfy, which is giving you the jump on the show’s linear premiere, making it available to watch commercial-free from December 20 through the premiere date of January 16, 2019 at 10/9c. Here it is, embedded just below!
Why did Syfy do this, you might ask? Because some cable networks just want to watch the world burn. – Seriously, though, it’s a pleasant holiday surprise that any discerning genre fan should embrace.
The series adapts the Deadly Class Image Comics graphic novel by writer Rick Remender and artist Wes Craig, utilizing its 1987 setting to showcase an off-the-wall tale of woe centered on homeless teen Marcus (Benjamin Wadsworth), who, by chance, gets to trade life on the streets for admission into Kings Dominion, an elite private academy where the next generation of killers are educated for criminal careers with the world’s top crime families. However, Marcus will navigate hazards – mortal and social – in the proverbial shark tank of a school while wrestling with his own code of morality.
Joining Wadsworth in the Deadly Class cast are Benedict Wong, Lana Condor, María Gabriela de Faría, Luke Tennie, Liam James, and Michel Duval.
The series adaptation process was overseen by the showrunner triumvirate of comic author Remender, Miles Orion Feldsott (American Koko) and Mick Betancourt (USA’s The Purge), all of whom are onboard as executive producers, joined in that capacity by Mike Larocca (Spy) and Marvel movie royalty in Joe Russo and Anthony Russo, the directorial visionaries behind the upcoming Avengers: Endgame, Avengers: Infinity War, Captain America: Civil War and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Ready to see what DC Comics and DCEU goodness is hidden in the seaweed of the Aquaman movie? We've got you covered!
This article contains nothing but Aquaman spoilers.
After years of development, the Aquaman movie is finally here. For a little perspective, we first glimpsed Jason Momoa as Aquaman in a brief cameo in 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but he had been cast in the role as early as 2014. That's...quite a long time to wait for the king of Atlantis to ascend (or descend) to his throne, even when you take his starring role in last year's Justice League movie into account.
And just as we've seen in every DCEU movie, Aquaman is absolutely packed to the gills (sorry) with DC Universe easter eggs. With a tremendous amount of reverence for Aquaman comic book history, and a few subtle nods to the wider DC Comics world, there's a lot to unpack here.
So here's how this works. I've spotted everything I can from my first viewing. If you see anything I missed, let me know, either in the comments or yell at me on Twitter, and if it checks out, I'll update this.
Let's get our lines in the water, shall we?
The Origin Story
Let's talk about Arthur Curry for a minute. Do you know this character has been around nearly as long as Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman? Aquaman first appeared in More Fun Comics #73 in 1941, where he was created by Mort Weisinger (who later went on to be a legendary...and legendarily difficult...editor on the Superman titles) and Paul Norris.
Arthur has had a ton of different origins through the years, but this movie primarily pulls from comics published in the last decade. It's far less confusing that way.
- Just a quick note about Aquaman's look before we dive back into the rest of the fun stuff in the origin story. While he ultimately ends up in a very faithful version of his comic book costume (and seriously, it looks amazing, doesn't it?), the long-haired, bearded, tough guy Aquaman look was really popularized when Peter David was writing the character in the 1990s, and was further cemented in pop culture consciousness by the excellent Justice League animated series in the early part of the 21st century. In fact...
- The gladiator gear Arthur wears during his first fight with Orm is reminiscent of the Peter David era of the character.
OK, back to work...
- The underwater WB logo reminds me a little of Tim Burton's 1989 Batman movie. That was the first time I could remember the WB logo being presented against something less traditional than the bright blue sky. There, the sky darkened to night before panning down for the opening credits. Here it's more intricate (with the barnacles, etc) but it's still very cool.
- The opening narration by Jason Momoa’s Arthur Curry includes a quote from Jules Verne, one of the fathers of science fiction. Here’s the full quote:
"Put two ships in the open sea, without wind or tide, and, at last, they will come together. Throw two planets into space, and they will fall one on the other. Place two enemies in the midst of a crowd, and they will inevitably meet; it is a fatality, a question of time; that is all."
While the first part of that quote certainly refers to Tom Curry and Atlanna (and perhaps Arthur and Mera), the rest of it could surely encompass the rest of the movie. The “two planets in space” is the surface world and Atlantis, and the “two enemies in a crowd” is Arthur’s dual nature as an Atlantean/human, his relationship with his half-brother, but ultimately I feel like it best sums up the enmity between Aquaman and Black Manta.
- Right out of the gate, the influence of Geoff Johns on the Aquaman character is felt in this movie. The first time we ever heard of Amnesty Bay as his hometown was in the Johns-penned Blackest Night series (something that would make a fine basis for a Green Lantern movie or Justice League sequel down the road, by the way).
- On the TV during that intro sequence is the intro to Stingray, a 1964 puppet animation underwater series. Interestingly enough, the very first episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 from back in its public access days was "Invaders From the Deep," a feature length compilation of Stingray episodes.
- In the Curry household you can spot a Fender bass and a Vox amplifier (is that a Pathfinder, amp?). While neither Tom nor Arthur Curry are particularly renowned for their musical skills, Jason Momoa does play a mean bass.
- The adorable golden retriever is most likely a reference to “Salty" (no, his name isn't Aquadog) from the Geoff Johns New 52 run. The difference there is that the doggie wasn't Tom Curry's, but adopted by Arthur and Mera after his owner had been killed by the trench.
- As an early nod to director James Wan’s horror roots during the otherwise Amblin-esque prologuge, there’s a copy of HP Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror visible on a table. That story also deals with a “half-breed” main character, although one whose mysterious origins are far less noble than Arthur’s. Its New England setting also connects with the Amnesty Bay opening sequence here.
- The scene with Atlanna swallowing the goldfish is a play on classic “fish out of water” tropes. Older fans may remember Daryl Hannah and Tom Hanks in Splash, where Hannah's mermaid eats a lobster, shell and all.
We definitely get a distinctive “vuu-vuu-vuu” sound when young Arthur talks to the fish, reminiscent of what would be heard when Aquaman would use his powers on various incarnations of the Super Friends cartoon.
Later on in the movie we also get the famed "circles" effect that would be visible when Aquaman would use his powers in assorted animation series. It's really cool to see it represented on screen.
Let's talk about this movie's baddies, shall we?
- The Black Manta origin story we see on screen is basically an adaptation of his most recent one (he has had...a bunch...we detailed them all here). There are some changes here, though. In the comics origin (this one concocted by Geoff Johns), Arthur killed Manta's father by mistake, as he believed he was responsible for the death of Tom Curry. Here, it's used to illustrate how Arthur needs to learn mercy for later in the film, but it's still close enough to the comics version of events.
- When we finally see Black Manta in his full costume, there’s a great vocal effect. One of the most striking things about the character when he was a regular on Challenge of the Super Friends was his voice. Unforgettable, and a nice nod here.
- When building his technology, Manta says "I think I'm gonna need a bigger helmet," a clear nod to the famous "we're gonna need a bigger boat" line from the greatest seafaring blockbuster of all time, Jaws.
- It's interesting that they lean so hard into how well-established Aquaman is as a superhero with the Aquaman-fights-pirates scene. It helps place this movie even more firmly within the DCEU (which is not being rebooted any time soon). We already knew Arthur had been operating more or less out in the open before Justice League, but clearly the events of that movie have made him more of a household name. It's not clear how long after the end of Justice League this movie takes place, but let's just say it has been roughly a year, which gives Arthur's fame a little more time to grow.
- Orm has been around since Aquaman #29 in 1966, where he was created by Bob Haney and Nick Cardy. Like Black Manta, Orm has had several variations of his origin story through the decades, but also like Black Manta, the version we see on screen here is most similar to the New 52 version of the character introduced by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis, and Paul Pelletier.
- Once nice touch here is that they made Ocean Master a title, not a codename.
Orm's father, King Orvax is from the Geoff Johns comics, as well. Orvax was a Captain in the Atlantean army who became king by marrying Atlanna. The idea is to make sure that the royal family is always bound to military leaders. Needless to say it didn't work out well for anyone involved.
- The visual of the tidal wave coming to shore is very much like how Orm first launched his attack on the surface world during the Throne of Atlantis comics story, which this movie certainly owes a tremendous debt to. There, however, Orm actually did wage all out war on the surface world, rather than merely threaten it, and it took the full Justice League to stop him. It's too bad they seem to have used up this story here, because this story is certainly big enough, and would have made for an interesting Justice League 2.
Also, it might be a coincidence because it looks cool, but the final throwdown taking place in the pouring rain feels like it comes out of , too. It was always raining in that story.
- It takes him a while to get there, but Ocean Master does eventually wear his classic comics costume, right down to the famous helmet.
- One other random thing about Patrick Wilson as Orm. His clean-shaven, blond haired, classical good looks make him appear far more like traditional comic book depictions of Aquaman.
- The flashbacks to the dawn of Atlantis is reminiscent of the worldbuilding we saw in Wonder Woman and Man of Steel. This is a highlight of nearly every DCEU movie. I love seeing the ancient history of these societies represented on screen.
I don't believe that this particular origin of Atlantis lines up with any of the ones from the comics. One thing to keep in mind is that for years, DC had multiple/competing versions of Atlantis in their continuity, before they were finally all unified in the excellent Atlantis Chronicles limited series. You can read that on DC Universe right now, and it's definitely worth your time.
- One of the nice little touches throughout the movie is that there is a subtle but cool underwater vocal effect.
- King Nereus first appeared in Aquaman #19 (2013) and was created by Geoff Johns and Paul Pelletier. He’s played here by the beloved, awesome Dolph Lundgren. He’s a fairly different character in the comics, though, where he isn’t a king, but a soldier of Xebel. And he isn’t Mera’s father, but a competitor for her romantic interests. Instead, they made Orm into Mera's betrothed...who she ditches for Arthur. Comic book Nereus and movie Orm should go out for a beer and have a good cry together.
- Murk (played here by Ludi Lin, who we loved in the Power Rangers movie) first appeared in Aquaman #17 (2013), and like Nereus, he was created by Geoff Johns and Paul Pelletier. Later in the movie (during that amazing Sicily fight/chase sequence) he loses a hand, which is a nod to his comic book look, where he is a far more grizzled soldier with a harpoon for a hand.
The octopus playing the drums during the Orm/Arthur battle is none other than Topo! And yes, he was known to dabble in music from time to time...
Topo was created by Ramona Fradon (a giant among Aquaman creators) in the pages of Adventure Comics #229 in 1956.
However, the New 52 version of Topo is a giant kaiju-type monster, one who looks far more like the beast Arthur brings to everyone's aid at the climax of this movie.
- So much of this movie's visual flair is reminiscent of Mike Hodges' brilliant Flash Gordon movie from 1980, and I feel like some of the underwater laser sound effects sound like nods to those.
Mera has been around since Aquaman #11 in 1963, where she was created by Jack Miller and Nick Cardy. In the comics, Xebel isn't another kingdom of Atlantis, it's an entirely different dimension. And again, it should be noted, Nereus is NOT her Dad in the comics. Because...that would be weird.
- The same way Aquaman draws moisture from Aquaman's body to activate that piece of Atlantean tech, she also can use that kind of power offensively. There's an issue of the New 52 series where she straight up dehydrates a guy to bring him down...as in, makes him feel the effects of nearly 2 full days without water. In other words, just in case this movie didn't clue you in, under no circumstances should you mess with Mera, because she will mess your life up.
Mera references the events of Justice League, and that’s about as much inter-movie continuity as we get in the movie (or need, for that matter).
- King Atlan, first appeared in the excellent Atlantis Chronicles mini-series, but like nearly everything else in this movie, what we see here is primarily from what was introduced during Geoff Johns' New 52 run on the character. His look here, and how he just kind of hung out mummified on his old throne, is reminiscent of those comics. And yes, New 52 Aquaman wields his scepter.
However, it wasn't his trident that was the ultimate "holy relic" you see in this movie, but rather a magical scepter, one far more powerful than the trident. In any case, that scepter was responsible for the sinking of Atlantis in the comics, not the misuse of technology shown in the movie.
- Vulko's full name is Nuidis Vulko (but I don't think we ever actually hear it in the movie). The character has been around since 1967's The Brave and the Bold#73, where he was created by Bob Haney and Howard Purcell. But the character as we see him here, a loyalist to Atlanna who takes it upon himself to train young Arthur is far more in line with the New 52 version of the character as written by Geoff Johns.
- I am kind of imagining this, but the blue "deep ocean camoflauge" suit that Vulko wears while training young Arthur reminds me of a briefly used, but incredibly cool, Aquaman costume design from the 1980s...
Honestly, if Warner Bros. decides that they want to do a smaller, more horror-focused Aquaman sequel, you could do worse than adapting the first story from Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis, and Paul Pelletier's first volume of the New 52 series, which introduced the Trench. In that story, they basically invade Amnesty Bay before Aquaman tracks them back to their undersea lair and seals them in.
But there's one ability of the Trench that we don't see in the movie. They secrete this substance that basically shuts down their prey's nervous system, making them easier to eat. So yeah, that's terrifying. Imagine what James Wan could do with a story like this, one far less ambitious than this crazy Aquaman movie, but one more akin to The Walking Dead with horrifying fish monsters.
Miscellaneous Cool DC Stuff (and More!)
- While Aquaman is taking out the pirates on the submarine, there’s a funny moment where he holds an unconscious guy up to a porthole in the door, in order to fool one of the other pirates into opening it. I don’t know if this was intentional or not (I’d like to think it was), but in Jason Momoa’s ill-fated Conan the Barbarian reboot, there’s a scene where he does something similar...only it’s with a severed head. I...I actually really enjoy that Conan scene, even though the rest of the movie isn’t really up to it.
This isn't the only Conan reference in the movie. Later on, when Arthur is confronting the Karathen and making his case as to why he should be allowed to take the lost trident of Atlan, he tells it (her? It's a her. That's Julie Andrews, after all. I had better show some damn respect) "if that's not good enough, then screw you!" It's like a modern version of Arnold Schwarzenegger's classic prayer to Crom in John Milius' brilliant 1982 Conan the Barbarian, where he ends with a rather pragmatic, "and if you don't listen, then the hell with you!"
- Speaking of the Karathen, while that isn't from the comics, there is a similar giant kaiju from Jeff Parker and Paul Pelletier's "Sea of Storms" story, called the Karaqan, and I don't think this is a coincidence. The Karaqan is less friendly (and dignified) than the Karathen, but let's say they're roughly of the same family.
And also, the image of the "forge" for the trident seems to be inspired by a panel from "Sea of Storms" which looks almost identical, although the context is very, very different there.
- Everyone is watching WGBS in the bar. Galaxy Broadcasting System is the most famous fictional network in the DC Universe, at one point owning The Daily Planet in addition to its other enterprises. The TV arm, WGBS, employed Clark Kent as a news anchor during the 1970s and early 1980s. And the head of WGBS? That would be Morgan Edge, someone we haven’t yet seen in the DCEU, but who certainly could make an impact if they decide to do anything with him down the line.
- Apparently, you can spot the creepy Annabelle doll from The Conjuring stashed underwater in one scene, but I didn't see her myself on the first viewing. I'm willing to take everyone's word for it, though!
- All through Atlantis we see Atlanteans riding seahorses. But...badass seahorses. But this is especially significant during the final battle when Arthur is charing into war on the back of one, wearing his classic comic book costume. This is a nod to what has generally been the most prominent picture of Aquaman in the pop culture consciousness: a dude who rides a seahorse.
- There are two moments in this movie that remind me of a mostly forgotten chapter in Aquaman history. Keith Giffen, Robert Loren Fleming, and the great Curt Swan had a limited series called The Legend of Aquaman in the 1980s. The vast majority of this story has been consigned to the continuity dustbin of history (which is too bad, because it's really cool). But in it, Aquaman is first brought to Atlantis as a prisoner, which feels kind of reminiscent of his first encounter with his brother in this movie.
But the other is his first large scale use of his ability to communicate with undersea life comes during a massive final battle to repel invaders, where he basically gets alllll the fishies to come and kick some ass for the glory of Atlantis. There's an element of that here.
- Back to more current Aquaman continuity, though...the sequence with Arthur and Mera in the desert isn't from any particular Aquaman comics, BUT it does seem inspired by something that came at the tail end of the first volume of the New 52 series by (you guessed it) Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis. There's certainly a visual homage to it, as Arthur makes a hard landing in the sand at the start of it, and he's following the directions of a piece of Atlantean tech that needs to be immersed in water to be properly activated.
- The idea of Atlanna being alive was first brought forth in Jeff Parker and Paul Pelletier's "Maelstrom" which sees Aquaman and Mera travel through a kind of dimensional barrier (similar to what they have to do to evade the Trench in this movie), to a tropical world where Atlanna still lives. There, however, she's a little less friendly. But whatever.
Aquaman Post Credits Scene
- Throughout the movie we see noted scientific crackpot Stephen Shin talking about Atlantis on TV. Shin was created by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis early in the New 52 Aquaman period. What we don't get in this movie, but that could potentially be explored in sequels, is his history with Arthur, which explains why he is so certain that Atlantis exists.
- In Shin's beat-up old lab, full of newspaper clippings about Atlantis, one stands out: The Coast City Ledger! This might be the first reference to Coast City in the DCEU (please correct me if I'm wrong). Coast City is home to Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern who we’ll (presumably...eventually) see again in a new Green Lantern Corps movie, whenever that finally gets made.
Spot anything we missed? Let us know in the comments!
Here are the 15 fiction books that meant the most to the Den of Geek writers this year...
Here at Den of Geek, our year is defined by stories of all kinds, genres, and mediums. As we leave another confusing, chaotic year behind, our writers are taking the time to reflect on which fiction books meant the most to them in 2018.
As discussed in last year's list, "best of" lists will always be somewhat subjective. Here are 15 stories that broke through the #PeakContent cacophony to mean something to our Den of Geek contributors this year...
Vengeful by V.E. Schwab
Five years after the events of Vicious, we return to a world where superpowers are possible... you just have to die and be brought back to life first.
Vengeful catches back up with Victor, who is suffering from the increasingly-serious side effects of having been brought back from the proper dead, and Eli, who has been locked inside of a cell at ExtraOrdinary Observation and Neutralization (EON), an organization set up to catch and contain ExtraOrdinary people.
While Schwab maintains her clear-eyed, yet empathetic examination of Victor and Eli's moralities, especially in relation to one another, she expands this world of villainy and anti-heroes in some important ways from her first book, bringing in Marcella, a vengeful woman reveling in the EO power she gains after her cheating mobster husband tries to kill her, as well as June, an EO who can assume other's identities like she's putting on a new coat.
With Vengeful, Schwab proves that men don't have a monopoly on villainy, masterfully weaving a tale of ambition, found family, and the complications of power that will stay with you long after 2018 has faded in the rear view mirror.
- Kayti Burt
Latchkey by Nicole Kornher-Stace
A post-apocalyptic ghost hunter fought to save a young super soldier in 2015’s Archivist Wasp. It’s one of my favorite books of all time, so reading the sequel this year--and loving it just as much--was quite the event.
Nicole Kornher-Stace brings crystal-clear prose and driving rhythm to action scenes and interpersonal relationships alike. This book grabbed me by the heart with its feelings about bodily autonomy and personal loss, and the careful way its characters reach for one another hit hard. If you’re looking for science fiction or fantasy with action scenes out of a superhero movie and female characters who feel like three-dimensional people, this series might be for you.
- Megan Crouse
Blood Communion by Anne Rice
Anne Rice indulges her bad boy crush on the Brat Prince of the modern vampire world in the eleventh installment of her The Vampire Chronicles literary franchise: Blood Communion. In it, Lestat de Lioncourt is a narcissist with a conscience and Rice is his noblest enabler. He is vain, with a vanity that runs through his veins. He is bloodthirsty, but has a tendency to play with his food until he falls in love with it. He is now the undisputed ruler of the sanguine crowd, a title he's not entirely comfortable with, but he rises to the responsibilities of the court.
The book is short but leisurely, and doesn’t skimp on the gore. Lestat now has the blood, and brains, of the ancient vampire Rhoshamandes on his hands, between his fingernails, and in his mouth. All his old friends, and they are pretty old considering their life spans have been extended by regular infusions, are back at his side. Louis, Armand, Marius and Lestat's mother Gabrielle may not always see eye to eye with the crimson king, but they always fall into step by the last dance at the Winter Ball.
Blood Communion is a romance novel told in treacherous waters. The affair is between the author and her favorite character. While Lestat's evolution made him a little long in the fang, I still find myself interested in how he sees the world he's in charge of, and all the living and undead within it. Rice reinvigorated and reinvented the vampire character in Interview with the Vampire and continues to influence bloodthirsty hemoglobin aficionados at endless nightclubs. The balls she throws brought a parasitic community to life and a devilish humanity to the mythology's persona non grata.
- Tony Sokol
Mecha Samurai Empire by Peter Tieryas
One of the best things about writing about books for Den of Geek is that I get to read a lot of awesome books that have just come out. Narrowing down my favorites from what I covered this year was a huge challenge (especially with contenders like Magic Triumphs and Kill the Queen, my close runners up). Mecha Samurai Empire rose to the top of my list because it's my first introduction to Peter Tieryas's work, and it is truly phenomenal.
In Mecha Samurai Empire, the United States lost World War II to Japan, and has now become part of the Japanese Empire. Here, students compete with each other for top spots in universities, not just in academics, but also to become mecha pilots, the heroes of the United States of Japan's armed forces. Mac has long dreamed of being a pilot in honor of the memory of his parents, both of whom worked on mecha before their deaths during armed conflict.
Mac is a compelling narrator, and he's surrounded by full-fleshed supporting characters, all of whom have their own motives, desires, and world views. As Mac gets closer to realizing his dream, he begins to understand that the world isn't as clearly defined as he understood it to be. Leaders and rulers balance needs differently than soldiers, and Mac has to determine if the future he strove to achieve is one he can actually live with.
Mecha Samurai Empire has an immersive world peopled with complex individuals, and it delves into themes of complex morality—of what it means to be a citizen, or a soldier, or human—all while featuring awesome freakin' mecha battles. The cool factor alone would carry the book, but Tieryas gives it way more than just action and smashing goodness. He's written something that will stick with readers in the questions it asks, and tries to answer, encouraging them to ponder all those things that Mac struggles with. Tieryas is an author to watch, and I'll absolutely be looking for whatever he writes next.
- Alana Joli Abbott
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
Rebecca Roanhorse’s urban fantasy novel introduces a fantastic new heroine: Maggie Hoskie is a nervous, isolated monster hunter who finds a new sense of community.
Roanhorse draws from Navajo legends and creates her own version of the post-apocalypse to answer the question "Can anything good come from trauma or suffering?’ Strong imagery and Maggie’s emotional hooks kept this one fresh in my mind for a long time after I read it.
- Megan Crouse
Circe by Madeline Miller
- Becky Lea
Check, Please! Book One: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu
In a year filled with pop culture gifts, Check, Please continued to be one of the best gifts of all. While the web comic about hockey bros, baking, and healthy masculinity continues online, the first half of the story was published as a more traditional volume available in stores now.
Check, Please! Book One: #Hockey covers protagonist Eric "Bitty" Bittle's first two years at fictional Samwell University, from when the Southern baking vlogger first meets his teammates on the Samwell men's hockey team to the weeks he spends getting over his fear of checking to the romance he shares with one of his teammates.
For many, 2018 was a year of addressing toxic expressions of masculinity. Check, Please is one of the rare stories that imagines what a world would look like if it were socially acceptable for men to express fear, love, and vulnerability more freely. It celebrates the best parts of masculinity while allowing men to exist outside of a strict gender identity, if they want to. The result is so damn cathartic.
- Kayti Burt
The Monster Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
Maybe save this one for after the doldrums of winter are over, but if you’re looking for dark fantasy, Seth Dickinson’s relentless series is one way to go. After the intricate first novel, The Traitor Baru Cormorant, things just get darker for the financial savant trying — and mostly failing — to fight a colonial empire from the inside.
The sequel is carefully constructed to drag Baru’s worst fears into reality, and the tension really tightens the further the story goes on. Creative and horrific monsters and bravely struggling characters carry the story. Just be prepared for nearly every kind of violence you can think of.
- Megan Crouse
Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett
Magic systems in fantasy are a tough thing to get right. Too simple and there’s little point to having magic in the first place; too complicated and you run the risk of alienating your readers with convoluted exposition. Robert Jackson Bennett gets it just right in Foundryside. The city of Tevanne runs on scrivings, a magical writing that, when written correctly, can power just about anything inanimate. The power stays within the powerful merchant families while anyone outside of that system is forced to make their way in the Commons.
- Becky Lea
Born to the Blade: Season One by Michael R. Underwood, Marie Brennan, Malka Older, and Cassandra Khaw
If you've followed my serial coverage here at Den of Geek, you know I love great serial fiction, and this has been a great year for it! My favorite for the year is Born to the Blade, a newcomer from Serial Box, and it's probably the coolest martial arts magic series in any genre since the original Avatar: The Last Airbender came out. The prose captures a sword and sorcery combat that feels nothing like the usual sword-and-sorcery genre, and much more like a holistic martial arts and political system that springs from its world building. To successfully create that feeling of wholeness from the start of the first episode is a triumph, and the fact that the season just keeps getting better each episode is even more impressive.
Born to the Blade focuses on Oda no Michiko, the new Junior Warder of the nation of Kakute, and Kris Denn, the Rumikan bladecrafter trying to earn his sky-island nation a seat at the international Council of Warders, which nominally keeps the island nations at peace. The pair arrive on Twaa-Fei, the neutral home of the council, on the same sky ship—which also harbors the escaped former ruler of Kakute, seeking refuge from the nation that imprisoned him and conquered his nation. While Michiko is from Kakute, she swears her loyalty to the Empire that now governs it—an Empire others on the council view as a war-hungry threat to peace.
The set up is good old-fashioned court intrigue, with nations that have their own motivations, and governments using their Warders as pawns, rather than giving them the respect their position has supposedly earned. There are those who want war when the Warders strive for peace, and, as is the way of things, it seems so much easier to unleash violence than to keep it in check. The exceptional plot, the character development arcs, and the elegant world building made this worth returning to week after week to experience each new episode (one of which ended on a cliffhanger so intense, I felt like I was holding my breath for a week).
Born to the Blade hits the sky soaring, and Season Two can't start quickly enough.
- Alana Joli Abbott
The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley
Sitting right on the line between fantasy and realism, The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley is a lyrical and unflinching retelling of Beowulf. Grendel’s mother, reimagined as a veteran returning home to the suburbs, interrogates and plays with the ideas of monstrousness and humanity with a particular focus on women’s perspectives. I was awed by both individual turns of phrase and the point of view: the mountain on which much of the action takes place is a character unto itself, with its own voice.
- Megan Crouse
Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton
It's not often a book gets me to cry in its first 30 pages, but this anthology of thematically-connected short stories somehow managed. Vaguely reminiscent of Black Mirror or The Twilight Zone, but with a young adult audience in mind, author Arwen Elys Dayton gives us six stories imagining how technology, in particular genetic engineering and human modification, will affect how humanity views itself. Each of the stories moves us further into the future, adding another layer of complication and meaning to the themes being explored.
What makes us human? It's a question that is at the heart of most science fiction storytelling, but Dayton manages to explore it with a nuance and novelty that I so rarely see in contemporary science fiction. Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful can be violent, terrifying, and disturbing, but it can also be sweet, funny, and oh-so-relatable. Throughout, prioritizes an intimacy between the characters and the reader that balances the science fiction concepts with universal, coming-of-age themes. This book is a wonderful blending of the scientific and the human that you will not be able to put down.
- Kayti Burt
Redemption's Blade by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Redemption’s Blade begins in the aftermath of mass war and killing, when the good guys have won after slaying a would-be king, The Kinslayer. There is chaos in the void left behind - of leadership, of severely traumatised nations, of what happens to ‘heroes’ after the war. What happens to the ‘bad guys’? Which way will society go when the war to end all wars is done?
We join a motley crew on a quest for redemption as they banter, bicker, have inappropriate hook-ups and throw buckets of gallows humour at us. In particular we walk with Celestaine, the wielder of the blade, the seeker of redemption. She may have won the war but there’s a battle inside of her is that is still going strong. And boy, did I have a crush on Celest. She’s a Xena for the twenty-first century, deploying her skills for what she hopes is the greater good. And she isn’t afraid to stick two fingers up to demi-gods.
Recommended to those that love to sink into solid fantasy fellowship quests populated with engaging characters and cracking writing. You can read this as a standalone piece; however the follow up by Justina Robson, Salvation’s Fire is also worth your time, if not quite as Celest-centred.
- Jane Roberts-Morpeth
Beasts of Grimheart by Kieran Larwood
You’ll find the Podkin One-Ear stories on bookshop tables labelled for 9-12 year olds, but even if those numbers more readily describe the age of some of your socks or the number of minutes it would take you to get out of a beanbag these days, that’s no barrier.
These fantasy adventure stories are great reads. You could think of them as a junior Lord Of The Rings, but funnier and with more rabbits, or as Mrs Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH, but scarier and with more rabbits, or as… well, you get it. Rabbits. Adventure. Fantasy. Enchanted objects. Heroism. Family. And some thrillingly creepy villains.
The Beasts Of Grimheart is book three in The Five Realms series, which starts with The Legend Of Podkin One-Ear and The Gift Of Dark Hollow. Perfect for cosy Christmas reading.
- Louisa Mellor
We Sold Our Souls by Grady Henrix
A rock anthem to the power of the human spirit, Grady Hendrix's third novel is a musical horror that hits the kind of high notes most genre authors only dream of. Where Hendrix's second novel, My Best Friend's Exorcism, traded in nostalgia and the value of friendship, We Sold Our Souls is packed with themes and motifs, flaying alive everything from the pitfalls of fame to the corrupting influence of ambition, all while creating an entire rock mythology as riveting as anything dreamt up by Tolkien.
At the centre of the race-against-time plot, ex-rock-star Kris is a riveting heroine – a woman at first broken by show business, she refuses to surrender and gradually comes into her own as she fights back against her former bandmate. Even if you've never picked up a guitar, much less played one, We Sold Our Souls makes for an addictive read, richly written and with characters that sink their claws in and refuse to let go.
- Josh Winning
What were the fiction books that meant the most to you in 2018? Let us know in comments below or over on the Den of Geek Book Club Goodreads page.
The Den of Geek Book Club is a place to geek out about our favorite science fiction, fantasy, and horror books.
Featuring book giveaways and exclusive author interviews, this is a place to recommend, discuss, and obsess over the best current and classic fantasy, science fiction, and horror books.
Check out our list of Den of Geek's Best Fiction Books of 2018, then join us in discussing our latest pick...
December/January: Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton
An anthology novel of six stories that explore how genetic engineering will affect the human race moving forward, this young adult-minded book from Arwen Elys Dayton is the perfect blend of intimate, character-driven coming-of-age tale and deeply-curious science fiction classic.
The stories begin in the near future, but continually bring the reader further into our future, extrapolating out how our understanding of humanity might change as our body-modifying technology continues to develop. I'm not usually one for anthologies, but Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful got me from the get-go with its emotionally-raw tale of a teen boy who must take his twin sister's harvested organs in order to survive.
While some of the stories in this book may hit you harder than others, all of them will stick with you long after you've walked away from Dayton's imagining of our future.
November/December: Archenemies by Marissa Meyer
Superheroes have officially migrated from the world of comic books, movies, and TV shows to the book world. We've featured superpowered books in the club before—V.E. Schwab's Villains series and Sarah Kuhn's Heroine Trilogy—and the trend continues with Archenemies... because you can never have too many superhero stories!
You may recognize Marissa Meyer's name from her bestselling Lunar Chronicles, which reimagined classic fairy tales into speculative fiction settings. She brings that same ability to mix and subvert genre in delightful ways to the world of Renegades, which follows two main characters: Nova, a young woman with a grudge against the Renegades, the superpowered group that runs Gatlon City following a period of disorder. And Adrian, the son of the Renegades most famous heroes, who believes wholeheartedly in their mission.
When Nova goes undercover with the Renegades to bring them down from the inside, Nova and Adrian become close. The story of their relationship and their respective missions continues in Archenemies, which is the second installment in a planned trilogy.
We chatted with Marissa Meyer about the world of Renegades, so check that out...
Come discuss Archenemies (and other speculative fiction picks!) with us over at the Den of Geek Book Club, and stay tuned for more Archenemies-related treats in the coming month!
October/November: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
Hank Green has long been telling stories and helping others to tell stories through platforms like the vlogbrothers YouTube channel he runs with brother John Green; educational YouTube channels Crash Course and SciShow; and conventions like VidCon. (Not to mention as a producer on Den of Geek favorite The Lizzie Bennet Diaries!) Now, he’s breaking into the literary fiction world with his debut novel!
One of our fall's geekiest books recommendations from our New York Comic Con Den of Geek Magazine, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is the story of 23-year-old named April May who becomes an overnight celebrity when she stumbles upon a giant sculpture one night and makes a YouTube video with it.
It turns out the ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing samurai armor is one of dozens of its kind, dubbed The Carls, that have mysteriously appeared in cities around the globe. When the video April made goes viral, April is thrown into social internet fame, her life and relationships unpredictably changed because of it, as she works to understand The Carls and what they want from us.
Come discuss An Absolutely Remarkable Thing (and other speculative fiction picks!) with us over at the Den of Geek Book Club, and stay tuned for more An Absolutely Remarkable Thing-related treats in the coming month!
September/October: Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Victor Vale and Eli Ever were college friends who discovered the secret to extraordinary abilities together only to become enemies set on bringing the other down in this morally-complex tale of ambition, jealousy, and superpowers,
"There are no good men in this game," Schwab writes in Vicious, and it's true, proving that you don't need good guys to tell a compelling story and that you don't need to sacrifice empathy, feeling, or nuanced self-awareness when telling a tale of anti-heroes.
Schwab is one of the best writers of her generation and, if you have yet to pick up one of her many speculative fiction books, Vicious is a great place to start, not least of all because its sequel, Vengeful, is out on September 25th. (Schwab also recently released a middle grade novel called City of Ghosts that is perfect reading for the Halloween season.) You won't be disappointed.
Come discuss Vicious, Vengeful, and other speculative fiction picks over at the Den of Geek Book Club, and stay tuned for more Villains-related treats in the coming month! You can also enter to win our Villains giveaway, which includes copies of both Vicious and Vengeful, as well as some other exclusive merch.
August/September: European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman by Theodora Goss
In addition to have the coolest name this side of Space Unicorn Blues, European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman has a killer premise. The second book in the Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club series, European Travel follows Mary Jekyll, Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein, and Diana Hyde as they make their way into the heart of the Austro-Hungarian Empire into an attempt to save Lucinda Van Helsing.
In The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter, we were first introduced to these characters from the pages (or between the pages) of classic 19th-century literary canon. Author Theodora Goss wanted to give the female characters who were so often written as monsters from these stories a voice of their own. Mary Jekyll is our protagonist and, when we first meet her in The Alchemist's Daughter, she is struggling to find money to support herself and her household following the death of her mother.
When a series of murders seems to be connected to her late father, Dr. Jekyll, or perhaps to his mysterious assistant Mr. Hyde, Mary starts down a path of investigation alongside Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson that leads her to create her own found family of monstrous women.
Come discuss European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman and other speculative fiction picks over at the Den of Geek Book Club, and stay tuned for more Athena Society-related treats in the coming month! You can also enter to win a copy of European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman!
July/August: Heroine's Journey by Sarah Kuhn
The third book in Sarah Kuhn's ridiculously fun Heroine Complex series, Heroine's Journey follows Bea Tanaka, the younger sister of Heroine Complex protagonist Evie Tanaka. An aspiring twenty-something superheroine who just wants to stop being treated like a kid and be allowed to help save the Bay Area alongside Evie and Evie's superhero partner-best friend Aveda Jupiter, Bea has the power to influence other's emotions—also, sometimes, when she screams, she blows things up.
In the Heroine Complex world, Kuhn has created an alternate San Fran where a demon opened an Otherworld portal 13 years prior, setting into motion a series of events that led to the creation of other local portals through which demons can come into our world and the development of a human population with otherworldly powers of their own. Bea, Evie, and Aveda are three of those humans, and are part of a superhero team that would give the Scooby gang a run for its found family money.
You don't need to have read the previous two books in the series, centered around Evie and Aveda respectively, to enjoy this world. Kuhn has crafted a story filled with whip smart dialogue, complex female relationships, romance, silly yet dangerous demons, and Asian American superhero representation that works for the casual and more completist reader alike. Fair warning, though: If you go into this one blind, you will find yourself going back to read the other two installments. That's just the way the demon cupcake crumbles.
Come discuss Heroine's Journey and other speculative fiction picks over at the Den of Geek Book Club, and stay tuned for more Heroine's Journey-related treats in the coming month!
June/July: Brief Cases by Jim Butcher
Brief Cases, a collection of several of Butcher's excellent short stories and novellas from within the universe of Harry Dresden, is a delight for new and old Dresden Files fans alike. Centered around the theme of parenting, the stories in the collection range from a prequel set in the Old West to a Rashomon-style tale of Harry discovering a warlock at the zoo.
You can read our full review of Brief Cases here, or head over to the Den of Geek Book Club to discuss the book. We're also giving away a complete set of the Dresden Files books, if you're looking to add to your own collection. Find out how to enter here.
May/June Pick: Ship It by Britta Lundin
Riverdale is one of Den of Geek's favorite shows, so when we heard one of its writers was coming out with her debut novel, you better believe we put it on our must-read list.
Britta Lundin's Ship It is the story of a teen fanfiction writer, Claire, who is pulled into the behind-the-scenes world of her favorite TV show, and Forest, one of the show's male leads who understands absolutely nothing about fandom. Ship It is an exploration of fandom, queerness, TV creation, and love in its many forms. Read our full review here, then check out our podcast interview with Lundin.
Join the Ship It discussion over on the Den of Geek Book Club Goodreads page.
April/May Pick: The Power by Naomi Alderman
Imagine a world that completely flips the balance of power when it comes to gender. This is the setting for The Power, Naomi Alderman's 2016 science fiction novel set in a world in which women develop the ability to shoot electric jolts from their fingertips, leading to their dominance as a gender.
As Delia Harrington notes in a review for Den of Geek, The Power is a vital read for a time in which some falsely claim that women have stolen all of the power from men. President Obama named this one of this favorite books of 2017, and the book somehow feels even more relevant now than it did when it was published just two long years ago.
March/April Pick: Children of Blood & Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Children of Blood and Bone is the first book in the West African-inspired fantasy series Legacy of Orisha. The debut from 24-year-old Tomi Adeyemi made waves when it was bought by Macmillan for a reported seven-figure sum.
The story follows Zelie, a girl who lost her mother in the purge of magic executed by Orisha's totalitarian ruler, Saran. In the first book, Zelie sets out to restore magic to the land and take down Saran, with a little help from her friends: a giant lionaire, her older brother Tzain, and Princess Amari. Prince Inan, another protagonist in the book, pursues Zelie as she undergoes her quest, torn between his family and, you know, doing the right thing.
Children of Blood and Bone is a promising start to a new young adult fantasy series that is set to take the world by storm. Head over to our Den of Geek Book Club page to join the discussion!
February/March Pick: All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
All Our Wrong Todays is a time travel novel where the "wrong" timeline is our own. When protagonist Tom Barren travels back in time using his father's technology, he changes the world from a utopia where the problems of war, poverty, and under-ripe avocados have been solved, into, well, this one. By centering our timeline as the "wrong" one, author Elan Mastai subverts many of the classic time travel narrative trope, giving us a fresh science fiction novel for anyone who worries they're living in the darkest timeline.
January/February Pick: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor is a Hugo Award-winning novella about a young African woman who leaves her home on Earth for the first time to attend an intergalactic university on another planet. On the voyage, something goes terribly wrong, forcing Binti to rely on her mathematic skills and her culture to survive.
The Afrofuturist space adventure novella is unlike anything I have ever read, coming from one of the most exciting authors working in science fiction right now. The story continues in two follow-up novellas already published.
Kayti Burt serves as a staff editor covering books, TV, movies, and fan culture at Den of Geek. A long-term lover of all things science fiction and fantasy, she is an unabashed defender of the power of speculative storytelling and a proponent of sentimental TV. Read more of her work here or follow her on Twitter @kaytiburt.
Song by song, Queen shook the palaces to become rock royalty. Queen: Album by Album exposes the coup.
God save Queen. I mean it, man. When the prog-metal glam vaudeville act recorded the album News of the World next door to the Sex Pistols, who were recording the punk classic Never Mind the Bollocks … Here are the Sex Pistols, their drummer gave us a "Sheer Heart Attack." He blew the balls off the amps for an aural attack downstroked from a stack of guitars set at 11. Brian May was the band's guitarist, and a regal hard rock master plucking strings with a six-pence. Freddie Mercury was the singer with the operatic range. But Roger Taylor, a beatkeeper who sang the band's highest parts, came up with a classic shredder riff you "Gotta Fight from the Inside" for a song he played all the instruments on.
Metal journalist Martin Popoff's book Queen: Album by Album, part of a series of musical breakdowns he puts out through Voyageur Press, and everyone who comments for it, loves the band Queen. From Dee Snider to Paul McCartney, through David Ellefson of Megadeth and Nina Noir of the San Francisco Bay all-girl Queen tribute band The Killer Queens, the band is treated lovingly and reverently. Even the songs they don't particularly like, they love. But none so much as Popoff, who starts the book humbly admitting Queen is “absolutely the greatest band to ever walk this earth."
The 19 Queen experts he assembled to rip through the band’s 15 studio albums tend to agree. One says you don't listen to Queen albums waiting for the next song, like you do with Jethro Tull, which irked me. But hey, Tull were only Queen for a day. There's a small part of me, and probably a lot of people reading this, who would like to hear what Mr. Robot's Rami Malek, who plays Mercury in the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, might like to say about mixing his voice in with Freddy's. Popoff does include Patrick Myers, who played the lead in the Broadway musical Killer Queen.
Queen was formed in 1970. They'd been playing in London clubs after Mercury culled May and Taylor from the band Smile. After nearly 50 years and the untimely death of Freddie Mercury of AIDS in November 1991, the surviving members can fill arenas with celebrity frontmen like Bad Company's Paul Rodgers. The experts, musicians, and record label execs get into the individual songs, the feel of the studio, what else was going on in the music world as music was being recorded and released. They get into which of Queen's songs they prefer Adam Lambert not sing.
Insiders include Queen producer Reinhold Mack. Popoff keeps the conversations lively. McCartney's comments are as personal as they are musical. He first discovered Queen through a family member who loved the band, prompting the Beatle's bassist to give them a serious listen. He contrasts his own bass playing against John Deacon's, who he lauds for not getting in the way, while at the same time applauding the songs where the bottom drives the band. He remembers meeting Brian May, a brother in arms against cruelty to animals, at the Diamond Jubilee Concert thrown by the other Queen, god save her. May told Eric Clapton he was the reason he picked up a guitar, and McCartney how there would be no Queen, the band not the one rattling her jewelry, without The Beatles. Paul reacted much the same as George Harrison did after meeting Homer Simpson of the vocal group the B-Sharps: what a nice fella, where did he say the brownies were?
The book moves through Queen's discography in chronological order, starting with their debut album which came out on July 13, 1973 on EMI and Elektra Records. Recorded at Trident Studios and De Lane Lea Music Centre in London, Queen was produced by Roy Thomas Baker, John Anthony and the band. Popoff starts off each chapter with his own breakdowns of the albums' merits, what he loved about them and why everyone else should.
Warning, you will want to read Album by Album next to a handy audio delivery system. And probably headphones, as they discuss some tiny detail you might have missed or a guitar harmony, or just to check out a voice that isn't Freddy's. Each member of Queen sang and wrote hits. The hits get just as much coverage as the deeper album cuts, for the most part, as do the albums. A Night at The Opera, arguably the band's best-known album because it had their biggest hit "Bohemian Rhapsody" on it, gets the same space as Queen's 1982 album Hot Space, best known for their collaboration with David Bowie on the sole hit of the album, "Under Pressure."
Queen: Album by Album includes the soundtrack for the 1980 film Flash Gordon. The film was considered a bomb but the album is a cult favorite for many Queen fans. It only had two songs on it that were fully vocalized, but we learn many hipsters think it's their best album. Following the classic Queen period, the experts and observers judge the band against themselves. Sometimes they "defend the indefensible." Although they allow certain disappointments to come through, such as dipping too many times into the disco well. They conclude the band's last creative period was somewhat formulaic, giving listeners what they wanted while keeping pace with recording technology. But damn if the band didn't achieve both.
The book is liberally illustrated with rare performance and offstage photos, old playbills, and official shot. The experts talk about the album covers, how important they are to each collection of songs, from the majestic black and white coupling of A Day at the Races and A Night at the Opera, through the rockabilly winks of The Game and the play-it-safe cover of The Works.
Bohemian Rhapsody is the highest grossing music biopic of all time at the moment, giving rise to a lot of new fans and casual listeners. Queen: Album by Album is a great introduction to the band. Popoff, who has reviewed more than 7,000 albums and written books like Rush: The Illustrated History, Metallica: The Complete Illustrated History, The Art of Metal and The Big Book of Hair Metal, gets his say and gets out of the way. Grab the albums, listen while you read.
Queen: Album by Album is available at Amazon.
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.
Another year in the books, another batch of incredible comics for you to read! These are the best comics of 2018.
Comics, like all art, can be a mirror on society or a safe harbor from its worst tendencies, and thankfully again in 2018, we got some incredible books this year. I’ve been watching our pull lists since the calendar flipped in January, keeping an eye out for the best comics to share with you, and we’ve finally cut it down to just 10. But first, a few honorable mentions.
Yoshitoki Oima’s To Your Eternitywas probably the best new manga I read this year, but I kept it off the list because as good as the newest volumes are, the first one is stellar and it was published too early. Transformers: Unicron is a great way to end a fascinating era of Transformers comics, one that (oddly enough) spent as much time exploring notions of gender, romantic love, and politics as they did making giant robots punch each other. Sean McKeever and Alexandre Tefenkgi’s Outpost Zero isn’t on the list, but it was exactly the kind of hard-ish sci-fi I needed at exactly the right time. I spent a lot of the year really wanting an Alien comic to love, and Johnny Christmas’ adaptation of William Gibson’s Alien 3 script is giving me precisely that. So did Corrina Bechko and Gabriel Hardman’s Green Lantern: Earth One. Annie Nocenti and David Aja’s The Seeds is baffling but gorgeous, and I think it’s going to end up being incredible when it finally wraps. Kel MacDonald and Tyler Crook's The Stone King feels like I just started a Zelda game.
And at the big two, there are five writers who are making The Leap. Kelly Thompson and Tom Taylor have both had career years. Sina Grace’s Iceman was the first X-book in years that connected with me, and Thompson and Taylor did that for team books in Rogue & Gambit and X-Men Red respectively. They are quite honestly the best X-Men comics in more than five years. And their other comics are just as good - Taylor defined Laura Kinney in All-New Wolverine, and Taylor’s story in this year’s Batmanannual is as good as Tom King’s Ace the Bathound story was a couple of years back, while Thompson’s West Coast Avengers is a joy to behold.
Chip Zdarsky’s career is mind boggling. He used to be the guy who had his own convention in a hotel room in Toronto and wrote a notepad full of porn jokes about Marvel characters, and now he’s the guy who wrote the best Fantastic Four comic since Jonathan Hickman left with Marvel Two-in-One and one of the best Spider-Man runs of all time on Peter Parker: Spectacular Spider-Man. If he had been announced on Daredeviltwo years ago, I would have assumed it was all masturbation and Catholicism jokes, but now I assume it’s going to be really good, with a light sprinkling of masturbation and Catholicism jokes.
Speaking of Catholicism jokes, Mark Russell continues to be one of the best writers around. Lex Luthor/Porky Pig Specialis as savage to tech culture as The Flintstones was to our...everything else, but Exit Stage Left: The Snaglepuss Chronicleswas something else entirely. It was a glimpse at the gay rights movement in the US as it was being born, a muse on celebrity and acts we put on for the rest of the world and also a story where Marilyn Monroe and a pink feral cat hung out while Huckleberry Hound and NYPD Officer Quick Draw McGraw maintained a DL romance. What a world.
Donnie Cates didn’t write any historical fiction with Hanna Barbera cartoon characters in it. He just wrote straightforward, over the top comic book fun in Thanosand Venom, and put in an all time classic run on Doctor Strange.
10. Mandela and the General
John Carlin (W), Oriol Malet (A), Plough Publishing House
The true success of Mandela and the General, a comic from the journalist who wrote the source text for Invictus, is its simplicity. It’s presented as a story told by Constand Viljoen to Carlin about his relationship with Mandela, entirely from Viljoen’s point of view. And, PS, Viljoen was the general who nearly started a war between the South African far right and Mandela’s ANC in the ‘90s.
There’s nothing flashy about it. No narrative tricks, no cloying attempt at humanizing or romanticizing people who were clearly wrong and bad. It’s got some explanation in it for Viljoen’s perspective, but it’s largely just “I went here, he said this.”
That’s a brilliant presentation choice. This subject matter is so charged, especially in today’s world, that even the slightest deviation from that straight line narrative might lose some of the audience before a payoff that is as brilliantly simple as the rest of the book: a conversation between Mandela and Viljoen in Mandela’s house that ends with them shaking hands and agreeing on a common interest. Malet’s art is beautiful and loose where it needs to be, and sparsely but effectively colored. This is a great book to read right now, and probably will be for the next few years.
Jeff Loveness (W), Jakub Rebelka (A), BOOM! Studios
Judasis an odd book in that the first half of it feels really blasphemous, while the ending is probably where the hardcore blasphemy actually takes place. Either way, I assume Jakub Rebelka is going to be a lot more famous next year.
Rebelka’s art is intricate and detailed. He renders Hell wonderfully, showing the breadth of the horror and the vastness of the realm. He spends no less time on his acting. His characters are expressive and well rendered, and there’s a faint hint of Frazier Irving to his figures. I’m not sure if that is his natural style or if he tweaked it for this story, but either way it fit perfectly. The exaggerated long faces really help you get good and sad with these characters. Loveness’s story is terrific and unexpected, full of alternating rage and tranquility, horror and purpose. The two together make a fascinating, gorgeous book.
8. Nothing Special
Katie Cook (W/A), Komikaki Studio (C), (Line Webtoon)
Ten years ago, I’m not certain that Nothing Special makes this list. It’s a really good webcomic about a fantasy realm and a band of friends questing in it, but the web is littered with the remains of pleasant fantasy webcomics, many of which were as charming or well thought out as Nothing Special. What makes this comic stand out is what a smart storyteller Katie Cook is.
The LINE Webtoon format is basically “Whatever you feel like doing but remember most of our readers are on phones.” So while an artist really digging down into a Comixology original might make a standard comic with guided view in mind, Cook sets Nothing Special up for a vertical scroll and then plays with comic storytelling conventions to make the comic reading process work better for her story. There’s a hide and seek sequence in chapter 6 of season 2 that just flies because of smart layout. It’s a ton of fun to read, and even more fun to dissect.
7. The Dreaming
Simon Spurrier (W), Bilquis Evely (A), Mat Lopes (C), Vertigo Comics
Spurrier is one of my favorite writers of all time. When he’s on, he’s incredible and you get comics like The Spire or Numbercruncheror really anything X-Men that he’s written. But his non-X company owned work too often feels like “Simon Spurrier Writing Venom” and not “Venom." Not so on The Dreaming.
DC is in the midst of pushing a new Vertigo reinvigoration of sorts, with new books in the Sandman Universe and a wave of interesting indie-feeling series. Of the Sandman books, The Dreaming feels the most like a continuation of the old universe, which is an amazing piece of writing mimicry from such a distinctive voice. It has his own flourishes, but Merv and Lucien and Matthew and the rest of the crew feel like they’re still being used by Neil Gaiman.
Bilquis Evely is a revelation as an artist. There’s certainly elements of Jim Cheung and Jim Lee in here, but there’s as much JH Williams and a splash of indie cartoonist mixed with Dan DeCarlo that I find fascinating to look at. The Dreaming is a ton of fun.
6. Black Bolt
Saladin Ahmed (W), Christian Ward (A), Marvel Comics
I gave Black Bolt as a Christmas present. That may not seem like a big deal, but think about it for a second. I gave someone a pair of trades starring the leader of a band of moon weirdos who doesn’t speak. And when I gave it, I told the giftee “You gotta read this, it’s the best Absorbing Man story I’ve ever seen.”
Saladin Ahmed has had a great year in comics with Abbottand the delightful Exilesrelaunch I never knew I wanted, but here he took the most ineffable member of the Illuminati, made him sympathetic and even relatable, and then put him in a book that made me root for Crusher Creel and Titania. Hell, I even cried a little at the (spoilers but not really) funeral for Absorbing Man. Unbelievable.
Christian Ward should be allowed to draw whatever Marvel space comic he wants. Whenever he wants it. He has almost no peer in his ability to draw weird abstractions in a way that is so clearly laid out and understood. He’s a magnificent storyteller, and he helped make Black Boltanother in a nice stretch of solo character hits for Marvel.
5. The Highest House
Mike Carey (W), Peter Gross (A), Fabien Alquiler (C), IDW Publishing
Carey and Gross are long-time collaborators, working together on Luciferand The Unwritten. But it’s The Highest House where their work reaches its pinnacle. This is a masterful comic by exceptionally talented creators.
Gross and Alquiler get to play around with a different format. The book as it hits shelves is enormous, letting them lay out the comic more like something European than a traditional American comic. The layouts are lush and sprawling, and the detail work is incredibly fine. Gross draws extreme darkness to look almost like scratch art, and it’s enthralling.
Meanwhile, Carey’s success in crafting the story comes from playing with your expectations. The plot isn’t all that innovative - it’s a fairly standard fantasy yarn about a slave climbing the ranks of society. But there’s a swerve at almost every level: Moth, the slave kid making good, has systemic change in mind, rather than being the wide eyed just-happy-to-be-noticed attitude that too many of these protagonists usually are. Obsidian is actually a monster and a demon, but he’s also a good friend to Moth. Lady Shu is introduced like a Disney princess, but by the end of the first arc she’s extremely not one. Moth’s master, Lord Demini, isn’t a domineering monster who’s the secret villain of the series but a kind man being dragged to change by Moth. The Highest House is a terrific comic that will probably show up on next year’s list too.
4. Upgrade Soul
Ezra Claytan Daniels (W/A), Lion Forge Comics
Ezra Claytan Daniels has some serious artistic chops. Upgrade Soulhas a great story - a sci-fi writer who is a great friend to hard sciences and his brilliant geneticist partner are early investors in an untested longevity project, agree to be the first human subjects, and then get Black Mirror-ed to hell by their own pride.
How he tells that story is amazing. His art is a combination of conventional layouts with hard-indie figure drawing and expressiveness and a superhero artist’s sense of pacing and perspective: there’s a sequence of several pages early on in the book when gauze is being removed from someone’s face, and it’s presented from the point of view of the patient as the gauze comes off, with light breaking through and the faintest hints of people behind the gauze. That was the moment I knew Upgrade Soulis something special, and the rest of the book didn’t let me down. I’m excited to see what’s next from Claytan Daniels.
Marjorie Liu (W), Sana Takeda (A), Image Comics
There’s not a lot more to say about Monstress and Marjorie Liu’s writing that wasn’t already said by the Eisner committee. She cleaned up there this year, and she deserved every award. However, we should probably say a little more about Sana Takeda’s art, which gives me hand cramps every time I look at it.
It is some of the most intricate art I’ve ever seen in a comic. Every page looks like it would take a mere mortal weeks to draw. Even the huge two panel/splash pages have so much detail, so many lines put into it. And the amazing part of the linework is that every one is important. It’s not needless nonsense crosshatching like Takeda was inking early X-Force. Monstressis a stunningly beautiful comic that’s easily one of the best of the year.
2. The Divided Earth
Faith Erin Hicks (W/A), Jordie Bellaire (c), First Second
Getting a blurb from Bryan Konietzko, one of the co-creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender for a book that shares so much design sensibility with one of the greatest American cartoons ever made, sets the bar really high. And yet, Hicks’ first two volumes in The Nameless City trilogy were so good that I made The Divided Earth one of my first trade paperback preorders ever, and I was not disappointed. Everything about this comic is so good.
There is so much energy in every panel. Even shots where Rat or Kai are sitting and reading, the panel is dripping with emotion. Hicks has created a book full of characters who are immediately recognizable and interesting, thoughtful, and vibrant. It looks a lot like Avatar, but it also shares the same hopeful, positive worldview and was every bit as fun to immerse myself in. Faith Erin Hicks is an amazing talent.
1. Mister Miracle
Tom King (W), Mitch Gerads (A), DC Comics
It wasn’t going to be anything else. Mister Miraclewas the pick of the year from about issue 6, when Barda and Scott were talking about expanding their condo while breaking into Highfather’s palace and I slowly realized why they were talking about it. When I got the payoff (a page before the comic did), at that “Oh shit” moment, I knew that Mister Miracle had moved beyond a good comic and into something I’ve never experienced before.
At one point I was worried that Tom King and Mitch Gerads weren’t going to stick the landing. I was so invested in the end of this story that I was ready to drop another 20,000 words analyzing the placement of the glitches in Gerads’ art to try and figure out if Scott, after his suicide attempt in issue 1, was hovering near death or if he was trapped in the Omega Sanction. I was almost certain it was the Omega Sanction and had reference guides lined up for Funky Flashman and Lump, and I had clipped the screenshot from “For the Man Who Has Everything” of Superman’s face when he realized the Black Mercy and Mongul made his kid up. I was there. And then the actual ending hit and basically said “sure, it’s all real if you want it to be,” and my gast was flabbered by how perfect it actually was.
Mister Miracle took the insanity of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World and turned it into a slice of life story while keeping the epic mythology operative, twisting your mind around comic continuity, and also managing to be a love letter to the form and to superhero comics in general. I read one of the greatest comics ever published as it was coming out, and I’m extremely happy about that.
PS: I’m not sure what it says that King made King Kirby Scott Free’s surrogate father and Stan the Man the one Scott trusted to care for his child, but that realization still makes me cry a little.
If you only know of Stan Lee from his MCU cameos, you need to read his Marvel Comics work with Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and others.
The death of Stan Lee has brought an influx of people wondering what the legendary writer/editor’s best stories were. It’s tricky to pinpoint what would be considered Stan Lee’s best stories, because he was a consummate collaborator. Lee was a writer, an idea man, and scripter who worked with some of the greatest storytellers in the business to bring characters to life in tales that were greater than the sum of their parts. And thus, a history of the best Stan Lee Marvel comics is also a showcase of some of the other historic talents in comic book history as well, with two looming larger than any others: Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko.
With apologies to Don Heck, John Buscema, John Romita, and many others, it was with Kirby and Ditko that Lee did his best work. There are, of course, controversies surrounding all of these collaborations. Lee's working relationship with Ditko was particularly contentious, and the issue of the Kirby/Lee partnership is still the subject of heated debate to this day, and will remain so for all time. I’m not here to unpack any of that. I’m just here to outline what, for someone who may not be overly familiar with the early days of Marvel, are the most essential segments of an impossibly large body of work.
I hit the big ones here. It’s not that I forgot about the early Hulk, Avengers, Iron Man, or Daredevil comics so much as I never considered those, especially when taken as a whole, to be the best work of Lee and his respective collaborators. And before you kill me, I'm not talking about the characters themselves, I'm just talking about the body of work Stan Lee did on those characters with his collaborators. It's good stuff, but little of it, in total, is the kind of legendary, essential reading I feel these other books are. The same goes for the Lee/Kirby X-Men series. While the essential elements of the X-Men as the ultimate metaphor for the ongoing fight against bigotry in all its forms was more or less in place early on, the concept (and the overall quality of the stories) didn’t really come into its own until the 1970s, under the guidance of other creators. That’s just my opinion, of course, and by all means, feel free to seek out all of the above, but in terms of sheer scope, and as the best possible showcase of the kind of power contained in Marvel’s early days, I give you these stories by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, John Buscema, John Romita, and others...
For some modern readers, the earliest Fantastic Four tales might not land with the kind of impact that you would expect, considering that they essentially redefined superhero comics. But rest assured, this is the foundation of the entire Marvel Universe, and the proper beginning of one of the greatest collaborations in all of comics with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
But if the first two volumes (Fantastic Four Epic Collection: The World's Greatest Comics Magazine and Fantastic Four Epic Collection: The Master Plan of Doctor Doom, which make up roughly the first three years of the book) are too dry for you, then just go ahead and jump right into Fantastic Four Epic Collection: The Coming of Galactus, which is really when Lee and Kirby find themselves in full flower. By this point in the series, you’ll find more ideas per page than most comics usually crank out in a year, and the book truly earns the title of “World’s Greatest Comics Magazine” with the legendary "Galactus Trilogy." And while the “Galactus Trilogy” itself is often (rightly) cited as the pinnacle of the Lee/Kirby team, this volume ends with “This Man, This Monster” which is possibly an even better example of what Lee and Kirby could do with extraordinary characters, even when the fate of the planet wasn’t at stake.
And the amazing thing about that volume? It’s still only the halfway point of the Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four stories. But before I dive deeper into the Lee/Kirby partnership, or the Lee/Ditko years, there is one brief diversion worth taking...
At the moment, there isn’t yet an Epic Collection for the second half of the Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four run (you can find them in assorted Marvel Masterworks volumes, though). But what there is is Silver Surfer Epic Collection: When Calls Galactus. What this volume does is reprint all of the early Silver Surfer appearances in the next two years or so of Fantastic Four. The Surfer here is a much more alien figure than he would later become, owing more to Jack Kirby’s continued influence on the character he created.
Follow that up with Silver Surfer Masterworks Vol. 1, where Lee and artist John Buscema fleshed out Norrin Radd’s backstory and gave him a little bit more of an interior life. These are really the tales that have essentially defined the Surfer for the rest of his pop culture history, and John Buscema at the height of his own artistic powers is a real treat to behold, even as Lee took the Surfer character a little further afield from the roots that Jack Kirby had tried to imbue him with. Still, key to these early Surfer tales is "The Power and the Prize," the first appearance of Marvel's Mephisto, and an important example of Lee's gift for high drama and melodramatic dialogue.
As a bonus, you absolutely should check out Silver Surfer: Parable, in which Lee partnered with visionary French comics artist Moebius, to tell a short, but weighty and compelling, tale that melds the end times imagery of Galactus with religious fanaticism.
While the earliest Thor stories (collected in Thor Epic Collection: God of Thunder) might feel a little tough to take for modern readers, often utilizing relatively traditional superhero storytelling tropes combined with faux-Shakespearean “elevated” dialogue, stick with ‘em and you’ll be rewarded. But really, starting at the beginning is overrated. You know the broad strokes of all these characters otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this site, right?
You want another pure, unfiltered blast of Lee/Kirby awesome? Start with Thor Epic Collection: The Wrath of Odin, which is when Thor goes full blown Marvel Cinematic Universe cosmic god mythology mash-up, complete with familiar MCU figures like Destroyer, Ego, the Living Planet, and plenty of Loki. Like When Calls Galactus, you get Jack Kirby in his finest form, and it’s incredible that the pair were able to produce both Thor and Fantastic Four on a monthly basis. Just follow that right up with Thor Epic Collection: To Wake the Mangog for even more cosmic mythology mash-ups. While the Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four is the true bedrock of the Marvel Universe as we know it, their collaboration on Thor is just as impressive.
Basically, if you loved all the crazy comic-flavored visual goodness in Thor: Ragnarok, you'll want to settle in with a stack of these.
No, Stan Lee didn’t have a hand in creating Captain America (but Jack Kirby sure did). But Lee DID bring him back from publishing limbo in the early 1960s. And that’s the focus of Captain America Epic Collection: Captain America Lives Again, featuring the tales that first brought Captain America back into the public consciousness.
Kicking off with Avengers #4 and then following up with the Tales of Suspense stories featuring Steve Rogers (before Marvel was confident enough he could sustain his own title), this, perhaps even more than the original Joe Simon/Jack Kirby Cap stories from the 1940s, is ground zero for Captain America fans.
Roughly half the stories deal with Cap readjusting to the modern world and the overwhelming guilt over the fate of Bucky Barnes, with plenty of Lee’s trademark introspective, soul-searching dialogue. Meanwhile, Kirby delivers some of the most spectacular fight scenes ever put on the page. This volume contains many of my favorite Captain America stories, and for my money, it's the definitive Cap. As out there as Lee and Kirby got on Fantastic Four and Thor, this is pure costumed superhero adventure on as "grounded" a level as you're ever likely to see from that team.
There have been plenty of talented creative teams who put in the time on the Sorcerer Supreme (we’ve written about plenty of them here), but none have ever matched the original Lee/Ditko stories. Hell, they’ll probably admit to it if you ask ‘em.
Stan Lee’s creative partnership with Steve Ditko was always a tricky one, and perhaps nowhere was it more strained than in their collaboration on Doctor Strange. Ditko certainly maintained that Lee's input in these tales was minimal. And while these stories are indelibly stamped with Ditko’s style and philosophical sensibilities, perhaps even more than their work on Spider-Man, it’s nevertheless Lee’s lyrical dialogue and inventive, bizarre names for the numerous magical devices, dimensions, and demons that populate these stories that helped give Stephen Strange his unique identity. By the way, if you're ever in need of a thorough cataloging of the magic spells in these early Doctor Strange stories, you should really check this out.
I have long maintained that there are no three greater words in our modern language than “the complete series” which is why you should just stick Doctor Strange Epic Collection: Master of the Mystic Arts on your shelf.
It’s remarkable how Spider-Man remains relatively unchanged from his earliest appearances. The costume is the same, the origin (one of the most oft-told in all of popular culture) has not only remained virtually unchanged, it has downright rejected any attempts to foist extraneous elements on it, and the central principle that guides the character was there from the very last page of his very first story. All of that just speaks to how solid the storytelling by Lee and Ditko was from the very start. Like Doctor Strange, these early Spider-Man tales have aged far better than their contemporaries, and still serve as the blueprint every time anyone looks to reinterpret the character, whether on the comics page or the screen.
The entirety of the Lee/Ditko Amazing Spider-Man partnership can be found in two Epic Collection volumes, Spider-Man Epic Collection: Great Power and then Spider-Man Epic Collection: Great Responsibility. You can almost pretend that these two volumes comprise one complete story, so cohesive is the storytelling, and if again, like their Doctor Strange, if these were the only stories ever told with this character, they would be enough.
After Ditko departed the book, Lee continued on as writer, partnering with John Romita, Sr. You can see how the story shifted with the transition from Ditko to Romita, as Romita’s more romantic style turned Peter Parker and his supporting cast from a group of regular folks into matinee idols, and even as Peter found a little more luck in the romance department (while Gwen Stacy had been introduced in the latter part of the Ditko years, it was Romita who formally introduced Mary Jane Watson), the spirit of Spidey as a hard luck hero remained.
Perhaps more than any other book, the years Stan Lee spent guiding Spider-Man with Ditko and Romita encompass the elements of Marvel's unique brand of superheroics. Nobody else in the entire stable embodies the everyman the way Peter Parker does, from his personal struggles to his homemade costume. And a single panel, the final panel from Spidey's first appearance in 1962's Amazing Fantasy #15, sums up the ethos of the Marvel Universe as a whole, in a perfect meeting of words and images.
Invisible Kingdom, the new book from G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward, looks stunning.
Hey, remember that time we said that Christian Ward should be allowed to draw whatever Marvel space comics he wanted? Good news, everyone! Dark Horse was listening! Or more specifically, Karen Berger.
Berger, the legendary DC/Vertigo editor who threw open the doors to the 80s "British Invasion" that brought us Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis, and others, is now curating her own line of comics at Dark Horse: Berger Books. In the next wave of Berger Books, we're getting Invisible Kingdomfrom Ward (Black Bolt, Thor, ODY-C) and G. Willow Wilson, the creator of Kamala Khan and the newest ongoing Wonder Womanscribe. And Den of Geek has your exclusive first look at pages!
When the book was announced in July ahead of San Diego Comic Con, Wilson said "Christian Ward's art is truly visionary—this is one of the most dynamic collaborations I've ever been involved with. I can't wait to show the world what we've cooked up."Invisible Kingdomsees a young religious acolyte and a freighter pilot team up to rip down society after discovering an unsavory alliance between their system's religion and a (presumably corrupt) mega-corporation.
In addition to co-creating the new Ms. Marvel and writing Wonder Woman (which is excellent, btw), Wilson broke into comics largely through Berger's Vertigo with Cairoand Air. She's also a successful novelist, winning a World Fantasy Award for her first novel, Alif the Unseen(also unsurprisingly terrific). In other words, she long ago entered "anything she writes is worth a shot" territory.
Ward first came to my attention as the guy putting Matt Fraction's adaptation of Homer's dactylic hexameter (seriously, ODY-Cis written in the same meter as The Odysseyand it's super weird but great). He's since gone on to be incredible and worth checking out on anything.
Here's what Dark Horse has to say about the book:
Invisible Kingdom #1 G.Willow Wilson (W) and Christian Ward (A/C/Cover)
FC, 32 pages
Set in a in a far-flung star system, this new epic sci-fi monthly saga tells the tale of two women—a young religious acolyte and a hard-bitten freighter pilot—who separately uncover a vast conspiracy between the leader of the system’s dominant religion and the mega-corporation that controls society. On the run from reprisals on both sides, this unlikely pair of rebels risk plunging the world into anarchy if they reveal the truth. But when your beliefs betray you, what choice is there left? By Hugo Award-winning writer G. Willow Wilson (Wonder Woman, Ms. Marvel) and Eisner Award-winning artist Christian Ward (Black Bolt, ODY-C).
For more on Invisible Kingdom(in shops on March 20, 2019) or on why you should buy anything Wilson or Ward does, stick with Den of Geek!
Avengers: Infinity War makes Thanos look unbeatable. We look for the one chance Doctor Strange saw to defeat him in Avengers: Endgame.
Thanos the Mad Titan is kind of a big deal these days. A decade of Marvel Studios movies led to one starring him that painted him as being the king badass of bad guys. The opening five minutes of Avengers: Infinity War alone make him look like the toughest, most imposing threat to any and all superheroes. Not only is he a dangerous brick house of a purple man, but his adventures usually lead to him buffing up his power with Cosmic Cubes and Infinity Stones.
How do you solve a problem like Thanos in the highly anticipated Avengers: Endgame?
Scouring his comic history, I’ve compiled a list of all the times Thanos has been taken down a peg. Maybe one of these is that "one in fourteen million chance" that Doctor Strange mentioned in the movie.
You can either watch the video for the short version, or keep reading the full article for more details!
OK, now let's get on with the rest of this...
THANOS WAR (1974)
Thanos started off as a Dr. Claw-type of threat who was treated like a big deal, but never got his hands dirty. Like how in his first appearance, in an issue of Iron Man, Thanos’ “defeat” came in the form of a robot duplicate. He didn’t truly take a big L until possessing the Cosmic Cube and facing Captain Mar-Vell.
Using his newfound omnipotence, Thanos rid Earth of its population and discarded the Cosmic Cube by becoming a big, scary Neon Noodle face in the sky. Captain Marvel wasn’t much of a match for Thanos, especially in this form, but he realized that even if discarded, the Cosmic Cue was still the source of Thanos’ abilities. While Thanos tried to disorient Mar-Vell’s surroundings and even speed up his aging, the Captain was able to use his last ounce of strength to karate chop the Cosmic Cube, thereby seemingly killing Thanos and setting everything back to normal.
DEATH WATCH (1977)
Adam Warlock teamed up with the Avengers to go stop Thanos from blowing up the solar system. They all failed horribly and Warlock was killed; his soul winding up inside the Soul Stone with Gamora and Pip the Troll. Moondragon reached out and showed all this to the mind of a sleeping Peter Parker, who in turn went to Thing and said, “Yo, I had the weirdest dream. Want to help me save the world just in case?”
While Thanos got huge villain points for refusing to monologue in front of the heroes at the cost of giving the heroes an advantage (in 1977, no less! Wow!), Spider-Man and Thing freed the heroes anyway. The Avengers and Thing jobbed out to Thanos something fierce, but Spider-Man was able to shatter open a special globe with the Soul Stone in there, releasing Adam Warlock in fiery ghost form. Warlock grabbed onto Thanos and transformed him into a statue, albeit one with the retained ability to cry.
SPIDEY SUPER STORIES (1979)
As mentioned in the list of weirdest Thanos moments, Thanos appeared in the all-ages 70s pile of ridiculousness that is Spidey Super Stories. This dorky take on Thanos chased the Cat (Hellcat) with a helicopter and later stole the Cosmic Cube from a teenage skateboarder named Speedy. Having the Cosmic Cube in hand, he seemed unstoppable to the Cat and Spider-Man.
That is, until he created an earthquake, which not only affected his enemies, but also caused the Cosmic Cube to fall out of his hand. Spider-Man told him, “You were too tricky for your own good, Thanos!”
Speedy picked up the Cosmic Cube, wrapped Thanos up in grass, and then the police led Thanos away in handcuffs. It’s one of those images that will never not be funny.
INFINITY GAUNTLET (1991)
The big event that inspired Avengers: Infinity War had Thanos trip himself up in his moment of ultimate victory. Thanos had the full Infinity Gauntlet, which allowed him to mold the universe at his will, all to impress Death. After defeating the surviving superheroes and overpowering the cosmic entities, he went one-on-one with Eternity himself.
Thanos won, escaping his physical body to instead become an unbeatable force living in the fabric of the cosmos. Thanos’ folly was that his lifeless body still held onto the Infinity Gauntlet and like a car with the keys in the ignition, that godly power was there for the taking. Nebula zipped over to snatch it, gaining omnipotence, while Thanos was demoted.
Thanos then joined the heroes against Nebula and afterwards faked his death by getting hit so hard by Thor that he exploded. Sweet plan!
WHAT IF THE SILVER SURFER SUCCEEDED? (1993/1998)
The most memorable part of Infinity Gauntletwas the sequence where Thanos powered himself down just enough so that the remaining superheroes had the slightest chance to beat him. They all died horribly, but that was part of the plan. It was all a distraction for Silver Surfer to zip by and grab the Gauntlet off of Thanos’ hand.
He missed, of course.
Two What If comics showed what would have happened had he removed the Gauntlet. One story had the Silver Surfer wield the Infinity Gauntlet with good intentions to make the universe a better place, only to gradually go insane from its power. Dr. Strange brought in Shalla Bal to talk some sense into him, which caused the Surfer to destroy the Gauntlet itself (seemingly at the cost of his own life, but instead, he and Shalla snuck off to a paradise planet).
Thanos pondered over his defeat and smiled at how close he got to victory.
In the other story, Surfer pulled the Gauntlet off Thanos, but fumbled it due to Thanos blasting at him. Surfer lost his hold on it and it was snatched out of the air by the comedic Impossible Man. The issue was more about Silver Surfer as the main character and while Thanos was depowered, he practically forgotten about within a couple pages.
URBAN JUNGLE (1998)
Back in the late-90s, Mark Waid and Andy Kubert did a Ka-Zarongoing that lasted roughly a year. Much like Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ka-Zar took on his evil brother who turned out to be working for Thanos. Thanos had some plot based on terraforming the entire universe so that all the plant life would kill everyone else, including Hillbilly Stephen King.
Somebody out there will get that reference.
In this story, Thanos absolutely towered over Ka-Zar and was able to shrug off all of his attacks. They fought it out in the middle of a volcano and while Thanos had Ka-Zar in a bearhug, the power of love gave Ka-Zar some crazy Spider-Man-under-a-pile-of-wreckage strength and he both escaped the hold and knocked Thanos into the lava below.
That wasn’t the end of Thanos, as he rose from the lava, but the aftermath was a bunch of confusing jargon involving a magic medallion.
CALL OF THE WILD (1998)
After his loss to Ka-Zar, Thanos was locked up in some kind of energy dimension, unable to escape without help. In the form of a giant, he tried to convince the Hulk to pull him out of that dimension in exchange for power, only for Nate Grey to interfere. Alone, Hulk and X-Man were no match for the colossal Thanos.
Together, X-Man was able to transfer his telekinetic armor onto Hulk’s body. Bouncing around, looking like The World from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, Hulk proceeded to overpower Thanos and sent him back into the portal from whence he came. Thanos’ connection to reality was cut completely and the heroes went their separate ways.
Seriously, though. He looks exactly like The World.
THE FINAL MORNING (2000)
Thanos teamed up with Mangog to best Thor, power up with a bunch of cosmic artifacts (as Thanos is wont to do) and bring forth the end of all life in the universe. Thor was able to take out Mangog in a way most badass, but he was still no match for the amped-up Thanos. Luckily, Odin had Jagrfelm the Blacksmith make some extra special weapons powered by the Odinforce to buff up Thor to Thanos’ level. Odin summoned Firelord to make the delivery in time.
Enhanced and ready for a piece of the Mad Titan, Thor fought Thanos to a standstill at first until destroying one of the empowering artifacts and turning back Thanos to normal. From there, it was only elementary that Thor would thrash Thanos into a purple mess. Thor’s ally Tarene then used her magic tears to explode Thanos into a smoldering corpse.
Thanos creator Jim Starlin would later retcon this loss, as well as the Ka-Zar incident, as being against mere clones. I have to imagine that’s more because of Thanos getting outright killed or his plot to wipe out the universe, since Infinity Gauntlet made it apparent that Thor (even Eric Masterson Thor) could possibly tear Thanos apart if he didn’t have the Infinity Stones.
SQUIRREL GIRL (2006)
Squirrel Girl joined the Great Lakes Avengers with the dynamic being that they’re lame heroes and she’s lame on the surface despite being able to take down major threats. GLX-Mas Special (during the time when they were the Great Lakes X-Men) had Thanos come to Earth moments after Squirrel Girl just took down MODOK. Thanos talked up some plot about ruling the universe with something called the Pyramatrix.
Squirrel Girl ran into action as a way to end her part of the story. Later in the issue, it was shown that she defeated Thanos all on her own with Uatu the Watcher verifying that it was indeed him. HOW she won was never explained.
A later comic would claim that it wasn’t actually him because we can’t have nice things.
The first Annihilationwas essentially the story that planted the seeds for modern-day Guardians of the Galaxy being a thing. In it, Thanos was more of a henchman to main villain Annihilus, much like how the Grim Reaper is somehow the henchman to Dracula in the Castlevaniagames. Part of their reign of terror had to do with Galactus being captured and weaponized against his will. Eventually, Thanos realized that Annihilus’ plans were a bit too far for him and decided that he’d help the heroes by releasing Galactus.
Before he could do that, he noticed Death hanging out in the room. As he realized what was up (his time, to be more specific), Thanos suddenly saw his own heart torn out of his chest from behind. Drax the Destroyer was created to kill Thanos and damn it, that was exactly what he was going to do.
MARVEL ADVENTURES (2006)
In the family-friendly world of Marvel Adventures: Fantastic Four #16, Thanos clobbered Captain Mar-Vell so hard in the middle of a space battle that the Kree hero was knocked into Earth. There, he teamed up with the Fantastic Four to fight Thanos. Part of the issue centered around an invention of Reed’s called “utility fog,” which was a cloud of shape-shifting nanites.
At first, the heroes used the utility fog to create duplicates of themselves and fight Thanos 10-on-1. This didn’t work out, but Sue was able to funnel the fog into Thanos’ mouth, allowing the nanites to shut down Thanos from the inside.
MARVEL ZOMBIES 2 (2007)
The original Marvel Zombiesminiseries ended with a handful of heroes-turned-zombies devouring Galactus and absorbing his cosmic abilities. They moved on to scouring the cosmos to devour both planets and the inhabitants. As of Marvel Zombies 2, not only did their ranks increase to include various high-ranking space characters like Phoenix, Gladiator, and Thanos, but they also seemingly finished off all the food in the universe.
Zombie Thanos ranted about Zombie Hulk eating too much food and putting them in this situation, but the argument ended pretty succinctly with Hulk clapping over Thanos’ head and causing an explosion of gore. Gladiator tried eating some of Thanos’ exploded brains and skull fragments, but then immediately vomited them back up.
THE NEWER FANTASTIC FOUR (2009)
A What If issue showed a world where Wolverine, Spider-Man, Hulk, and Ghost Rider remained the New Fantastic Four due to the demise of the original team. A sequel showed how things would have gone had they existed during Infinity Gauntlet. Due to Ghost Rider being erased in the Finger Snap Heard ‘Round the Universe, Iron Man took his spot.
The team didn’t agree to Adam Warlock’s “everyone die so we can maybe steal the Gauntlet” plan, but their attempts at fighting Thanos head-on didn’t work out either. It was Wolverine’s attention that saved the universe, as he took note the way Mephisto was able to lead Thanos around, as well as Thanos’ feelings for Death. Wolverine smooth-talked Thanos into smiting Mephisto and making Wolverine his new advisor.
Wolverine, having a better understanding of women than Thanos, talked up how important touch is to a relationship and insisted that Thanos march over to Death and touch her face. By the time Thanos built up the resolve and reached over, Wolverine chopped his arm off and called him a sucker.
Hulk beat down Thanos, Spider-Man set things right with the Gauntlet, and the day was saved.
AVENGERS AND THE INFINITY GAUNTLET (2010)
A more all-ages take on Infinity Gauntlet had the team of Spider-Man, Hulk, Wolverine, Ms. Marvel, Dr. Doom, and space trucker US Ace take on Thanos. It was a silly endeavor, but very much worth reading.
When the heroes (and Doom) fought Thanos, they got their asses handed to them as expected. Out of nowhere, US Ace drove his space truck into Thanos. It didn’t kill him, but it did knock off his Gauntlet. Dr. Doom stole it, but it didn’t do him any good due to the realization that he was just a Doombot.
Thanos tried to put the Gauntlet back on, only for Spider-Man to steal it with a web yoink and put it on. Spider-Man wished that Thanos never found the Infinity Gems and the story reset itself where only Spider-Man and Thanos remembered the incident.
REBIRTH RAMPAGE (2010)
The Universal Church of Truth seemed like they were resurrecting Adam Warlock or his evil self Magus, but instead they brought Thanos back from the dead. Not only was that something that would piss Thanos off on principle, but his mental faculties weren't back to normal just yet. The Guardians of the Galaxy had to fight what was essentially a purple Hulk with his junk flapping around.
The Guardians had a hard time fighting the revived Thanos, as he even seemed more powerful than ever. Groot’s brute force failed, Gamora’s god-killing sword broke on Thanos’ skin, and Drax didn’t do much better. The Guardians hit him with everything they had and it only pissed him off.
Finally, Star-Lord pulled out a cracked Cosmic Cube and used it to lure Thanos over. Then he let loose with a blast – straight into the crotch – that proceeded to knock out Thanos.
DEADPOOL KILLS THE MARVEL UNIVERSE (2012)
In one universe, Deadpool became aware that he’s a fictional character and instead of making him all wacky, it broke him and turned him into a brutal nihilist. The four issues were mainly just him killing various characters in occasionally inventive ways. At the beginning of the final issue, we got to see him take out tons of heroes and villains in one fell swoop in what appeared to many as a mass suicide.
Turned out Deadpool was using the Puppet Master’s puppets to control people and make them kill themselves. To show he was thinking big, he pulled out a Galactus doll and we got to see Galactus and other cosmic types floating dead in space. This included the upper half of Thanos.
AVENGERS AND GUARDIANS ASSEMBLE (2012)
The first arc of Avengers Assemblehad two major roles in relation to Marvel synergy. First, it came out around the time of the first Avengersmovie and capitalized on both the Avengers’ popularity and the post-credits Thanos appearance. Second, it introduced the Guardians of the Galaxy as we know them, tweaking the character traits a little bit and mostly ignoring how their previous series ended because they had a movie coming out in two years and this was Marvel’s way of planting the seeds in the readers’ minds.
Thanos came to Earth to steal what he thought was a Cosmic Cube, leading to a team-up between the Avengers and the Guardians. Thanos succeeded and became this unstoppable giant, banishing the heroes to another dimension. Turned out it wasn’t so much a real Cosmic Cube as a replica created by the US government. With the help of the Elders of the Universe, the heroes returned with a weapon that would destroy the fake cube. Thanos returned to his normal form.
Hulk threw a growing Groot at Thanos, who delivered a couple haymakers until being swatted away. Then Thanos looked in horror as the Guardians of the Galaxy and several Avengers rosters (including two Hulks) rushed him down and started curbstomping him into oblivion. Thanos acted like he still had some fight left, but then the Elders popped in to steal him away.
Usually, Thanos’ deal is that he’s trying to get his girl, but around the time of Infinity, Thanos’ deal was that he got the girl too many times. As some kind of galactic Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Thanos sired children all over the universe and one day decided that, oh wait, making babies is counterproductive to stanning for Death. Remembering the time he knocked up an Inhuman during a trip to Earth, he returned to make sure his offspring was wiped out.
The whole event led to a cloud of Terrigen Crystals spreading across the world and one of the people empowered by it was Thanos’ son. Calling himself Thane, the youngster came across Thanos fighting off the Avengers and let loose with his power to encase people in amber. Locked in a cube of amber in a pose similar to that time he was turned into a statue, Thanos was stuck in a horrifying stasis where he was conscious but completely immobile.
Deadpool and Thanos worked together to free Death from the clutches of Eternity. After all, with no Death, there was no...death. Death allowed the two to tap into her power in order to bring Eternity to his knees, but Thanos started to go too far and intended to kill Eternity once and for all. Death removed her powers from Deadpool and Deadpool realized that Death wanted this. The entire universe was going to die.
Not enough to fight Death-powered Thanos on his own, Deadpool ended up getting a big buff in the form of the Captain Universe Uni-Power. That allowed him to fight Thanos head-on, but that wasn’t what got him the win. Deadpool pointed out that Thanos’ resilience and refusal to die or even stay dead makes him more of an agent of life than death. Death pondered this on the side and chose to remove Thanos’ newfound abilities.
Screaming that he was weak and alone once again, Thanos vanished in an explosion caused from Deadpool’s blasts.
WHAT IF? INFINITY: INHUMANS (2015)
In this reality, Thanos gave Black Bolt the ultimatum where if Black Bolt didn’t kill the Illuminati and the Avengers, then Thanos would wipe out the entire Inhuman race. Fast-forward to an Earth ruled by Thanos and his henchmen.
A hooded figure was treated as the ultimate weapon against Thanos that needed to be protected against all threats. In the climax, she revealed herself to be Dazzler. Between her ability to turn sound into light blasts and the excessive power of Black Bolt’s voice, Thanos was easily annihilated.
WHAT IF? INFINITY: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2015)
After Infinity, Thanos was locked up in a cube of amber in the custody of the Illuminati. In this alternate timeline, Rocket Raccoon stumbled upon this fact from spying on Iron Man. He and the Guardians proceeded to fight the Illuminati and free Thanos for the sole purpose of killing him.
The actual death isn’t shown or 100% explained. All it needed was a two-page spread of the Guardians being accompanied by various cosmic allies like Beta Ray Bill, Ronan, Gladiator, Annihilus, and so on. Star-Lord told him that they’re the Guardians of the Galaxy and the galaxy is sick of Thanos’ shit.
Afterwards, they all got very drunk in celebration while Earth's heroes were told that they were grounded and could no longer venture into space.
WHAT IF? INFINITY: DARK REIGN (2015)
Nobody’s perfect, but certain villains are better at using the Infinity Gauntlet than others. Wielding such power comes with such responsibility, so of course who would botch controlling the Infinity Gauntlet worse than a Spider-Man villain?
In a world where Norman Osborn got his hands on the Infinity Gauntlet, he reached back several decades to bring his father into the present and showed him his many accomplishments. While his father was abusive and cruel, he was still able to call out Norman for being a monster. Norman then figured he’d just make his father love him with his omnipotence and it worked!
Then they returned to his stronghold to find all of the Dark Avengers killed by Thanos. The two battled it out and while Thanos couldn’t scratch the Green Goblin, he was at least able to get under his skin by pointing out that he never forced Death to love him because he’d know that it wasn’t real. Norman would soon realize the same about his father’s glowing words.
Norman rendered Thanos into a pile of smoking bones via blasting a Goblin Glider into his sternum. He confronted his mind-controlled father by asking why he loved him. Not finding, “Because you’re my son,” satisfactory, Norman wiped out his father’s existence from history itself.
Realizing his mistake almost immediately, Norman faded away as well. What a maroon.
SECRET WARS (2015)
As the culmination of Jonathan Hickman’s epic Fantastic Four and Avengersruns, Secret Wars was the story of Dr. Doom gaining omnipotence and creating a world made up of scraps of broken alternate universes. It was kind of trippy but very awesome.
When the heroes waged war against God Doom, Thanos challenged him head-on. Without the Infinity Gauntlet. Thanos talked a big game like he had any chance at all and Doom simply tore out his spine like he pressed forward, down, forward, high punch.
At least with the Norman Osborn fight Thanos set him up to lose in his death.
SECRET WARS: THE INFINITY GAUNTLET (2015)
One of the reasons why Secret Wars was such a rad event was the many spinoff stories about the various alternate universes-turned-kingdoms. One of which centered around a family of Nova Corps members in a society overrun by space bugs. Stalking and later befriending the family was Thanos, who carried with him the Time Stone. The Nova family happened to have the Reality Stone.
By the end of the story, Thanos had an almost full Gauntlet while the Novas only had that one Reality Stone. The father put up a good fight, but was still no match for Thanos’ might. The daughter, Anwen, offered to give him the Reality Stone in exchange for their lives. Agreeing to the terms, Thanos placed it in his completed Gauntlet and gloated over his absolute power.
Suddenly, the Gauntlet shorted out while being overcome with purple flame and Kirby Krackle. It overwhelmed Thanos and turned him into a charred skeleton, all while Anwen revealed that she used the Reality Stone to create a poisonous replica called the Death Stone.
CIVIL WAR II (2016)
So Civil War II was a really bad miniseries by Marvel that acted as well-meaning character assassination for Carol Danvers Captain Marvel. Regardless, the first issue had a taste of rad Thanos action. The Inhuman known as Ulysses had a premonition that Thanos was going to be snooping around Earth. Against Iron Man’s wishes, Captain Marvel put together a team to ambush Thanos. Interestingly enough, the miniseries didn’t even show how the fight went down for the most part. All it showed was Thanos’ surprise, his critically injuring She-Hulk, and his fist going through War Machine.
An issue of Ultimatesat least showed that afterwards, the Ultimates roster joined together to pour it on Thanos until he went down.
ULTIMATES REMATCH (2016)
Thanos was locked up in the Triskelion, but as you’d expect, he got free. The Ultimates tried fighting him and this time he was able to overpower them. Black Panther realized that the secret to stopping Thanos wasn’t brawn, but brains. While Ms. America and Captain Marvel kept Thanos busy, the others put together a device that prevented electrical synapses in his brain. Thanos collapsed and went silent.
Black Panther pointed out that such a device would kill anyone else, but it’s possible that Thanos simply can’t die.
THE GROUNDED GUARDIANS (2017)
Thanos escaped custody once again and left the planet, which was extra frustrating for Gamora as the Guardians of the Galaxy lost their transportation during Civil War IIand were stuck on Earth for a while. Luckily, or unluckily, Thanos decided to head back to Earth as part of an agreement with Annihilus, the Brood, and the Badoon. This was Brian Michael Bendis’ final issue writing Guardians of the Galaxy and he wanted to go out with a bang.
It started with Drax vs. Thanos, but over time, the whole Guardians roster started to trickle in to lay in on Thanos. Star-Lord, Groot, Venom, Kitty Pryde, Thing, Angela, Rocket, and Captain Marvel. The Avengers were apparently on the way. Then Gamora arrived, ignoring Thanos’ claims that this world could have been hers had she not betrayed him. Gamora smugly agreed that this way was better and the Guardians rushed Thanos.
While the end of the fight wasn’t shown, the final pages did give us an imprisoned Thanos in the hands of the Nova Corps, looking all Hannibal Lector.
THE SHI’AR IMPERIAL GUARD (2017)
In Thanos’ recent ongoing series, he started to realize that his body was breaking down and he’d regularly cough up blood. He went to Mentor to find a cure, but Mentor’s failure led to death as punishment. Thanos was then met by the Shi’ar Imperial Guard, who tried to overwhelm him with their vast numbers. Thanos had his moments of dominance, but it was apparent that he wasn’t as strong as he usually was and they were getting the best of him.
Exhausted and weakening, Thanos saw the Imperial Guard’s heaviest hitter Gladiator standing behind him. With one hell of a punch, Gladiator knocked Thanos into next week. Thanos was under arrest.
PHOENIX THANE (2017)
Not only was Thanos weakened, but a handful of his enemies joined together to end him once and for all. With Death whispering in his ear, Thane put together a team of himself, Nebula, Starfox, and the Champion of the Universe. In reality, Thane was planning on betraying them anyway, as his plan was to steal a Phoenix egg and grant himself the power of the Phoenix Force.
When the time came for him to confront Thanos, there was very little to the fight itself. Just one blast of cosmic flame that depowered Thanos even further and teleported him to a slum planet, cursed to live out the rest of his pathetic life.
In the end, Thane’s former allies helped Thanos regain his abilities and stop Thane. Apparently, it was part of Death’s plan all along, but Thanos was all, “I don’t want your love anymore!” Those feelings lasted like a week.
THANOS VS. THANOS (2018)
“And if Thanos must die?”
“No one kills Thanos but Thanos.”
At the end of his ongoing, Thanos was brought to the distant future to meet up with his older and very victorious self, King Thanos. Over countless years, Thanos wiped out seemingly all life in the universe. The only things left were his henchman Frank Castle (a failed Ghost Rider/Herald whose mentality has made him more Deadpool than Punisher over the years), the Hulk (treated as Thanos’ dog), and the threat of a vengeful Silver Surfer armed with Mjolnir. King Thanos brought his younger self over to help him kill the Surfer, hoping that it would bring forth the missing Death.
When only the two Thanos’ remained, Death showed herself and made it apparent that she wanted them to fight to the death. Their battle was brutal, but the younger Thanos was supreme. Still, he would not be goaded into killing his older self, purely out of disgust. Instead, he went back to the present with the promise that he would make sure that King Thanos’ future would never come to pass, killing him with non-existence.
I guess they took the whole “Thanos undoes his own victories” thing literally.
Any other Thanos losses you want to remind me of? Sound off in the comments!
Read the latest Den of Geek Special Edition Magazine Here!
Gavin Jasper notices that Carol Danvers sure happens to partake in a lot of Thanos smackdownery. Huh. Follow Gavin on Twitter!
We're tracking down every single Avengers: Infinity War easter egg and Marvel Comics reference, but we need your help!
Avengers: Infinity War kicked off the culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and as we all suspected, it's insane, and absolutely packed with everything fans want to see.
But don't be fooled by the fact that this is a story about Thanos wielding an all-powerful Infinity Gauntlet to make life miserable for all your favorite Marvel superheroes. Avengers: Infinity War is full of crazy surprises, and all the comics knowledge in the world won't prepare you for what's coming. We're trying to track down all of the Marvel easter eggs in the movie...but we need your help. So if you spot something that we missed, shout it out down in the comments, or hit me up on Twitter, and we'll keep updating this until it's the most complete Marvel easter egg guide to Avengers: Infinity War around!
The Infinity Gauntlet
- The movie takes plenty of liberties with the original The Infinity Gauntlet comic story. In fact, you can't even really call this movie an adaptation of that story...and it's certainly not an adaptation of The Infinity War comic, either. But there are still some early similarities. But the fact that Thanos spends most of his time gathering the stones during the movie makes it more of a loose adaptation of The Thanos Quest by Jim Starlin and Ron Lim than anything else. But again, it's a pretty loose adaptation.
- The Hulk falling to Earth from space and landing in Doctor Strange's Sanctum is reminiscent of something that happened early on in The Infinity Gauntlet comics, except there, it was the Silver Surfer who warned Strange of Thanos' coming, not Bruce Banner, right down to the "Thanos is coming."
- Loki is dead. Most fans (including me) expected Loki to serve the kind of role that Mephisto did in The Infinity Gauntlet comics. There, Mephisto was kind of an obsequious "guide" for Thanos, and that's the word that Loki offers...before he tries (and fails) to betray Thanos. Well, if you've gotta go, this is the way to do it.
But seriously, couldn't you just imagine Loki behaving like this for his own ends? Even the body language is the same!
Also, Loki's attempted betrayal/stabbing of Thanos reminds me of Prince Thun trying to take out Ming the Merciless in Mike Hodges' masterful Flash Gordon movie.
- Wong tells the origin of the Infinity Stones, which is kind of like the creation myth of the entire Marvel Universe when you think about it. Something very similar was done in the pages of The Thanos Quest, and they basically hint that these are fragments of God!
(thanks to Dylan Bates for helping me out with that one!)
- The weird reality-warping "deaths" that Thanos inflicts on Drax and Mantis is really reminiscent of the ways that Thanos tortured Eros, Nebula, and others in The Infinty Gauntlet comic. Speaking of deaths, if you're wondering who we think is actually dead for real, we broke all that down right here.
- In the comics, and certainly by The Infinity Gauntlet era, Thanos was known as the Mad Titan, and he was a pretty irrational dork most of the time. Thanos was in love with the cosmic physical manifestation of death, and this whole thing was a way for him to impress him. He's a really needy, giant purple MRA, basically.
But here, Thanos is kind of rational, if still a dick. Here is obsession is with bringing balance to the universe to preserve resources, and his motives are almost like, I dunno, an extremely shitty environmentalist or something. If anything, his motivations here more resemble the character as he was portrayed in The Thanos Imperative comic than The Infinity Gauntlet.
Thanos' armor and helmet bears the strongest resemblance to recent designs in the comics, as well as the design for Thane, his son's outfit in Infinity.
- Gamora has "always hated" Thanos' weird throne/chair, which is pretty hilarious considering it was such an iconic part of the character's whole "thing" for so many years.
- Have we seen Thanos' vaguely Ancient Egyptian looking guards before? They're the ones guarding Nebula while she's being tortured. What a cool design they have. I feel like maybe they were hanging around with Ronan in the first Guardians movie, but my brain is so fried from this movie I can't trust myself.
- Thanos creepy army of Alien-looking drones are called Outriders, and they're also from the Infinity crossover.
- Thanos' crack about how he could "finally rest" once he achieves his goal is a reference to the "Farmer Thanos" he became in the comics, and that we glimpse at the very end of this movie.
- Thanos literally snaps his fingers to bring about the end of half of all life in the universe, which is exactly what he did in the first chapter of The Infinity Gauntlet comic. And that's what he did BEFORE the fighting started there!
- In the closing credits, there's a line that reads “the producers would like to recognize Jim Starlin for his significant contribution to the film.” Saying Starlin made a "significant contribution" to this movie is an understatement. The vast majority of Thanos stories, and certainly the Thanos stories that matter, were written and often drawn by Jim Starlin. That's HIS character, just as surely as most of the others on screen are Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's.
The Black Order
We're introduced to Thanos' Black Order early on, and they first appeared in Jonathan Hickman's massive Thanos vs Avengers story, Infinity. In the comics, they were also known as the Cull Obsidian, and are basically Thanos' generals, but here it's implied that they are Thanos' children. We went into MUCH more detail about them right here.
Check out the whole skeevy squad in the movie...
From left to right, that's Proxima Midnight, Ebony Maw, Corvus Glaive, and Cull Obsidian. Your ears do not deceive you, that is Carrie Coon as Proxima Midnight.
“Even in death you have become children of Thanos” - this line from Ebony Maw (who never shuts the hell up) hints at Thanos' obsession with death as a concept, even if the movie gives him a more practical outlook than his comic book counterpart, and a less physical manifestation of Death herself. We'll get into more of that in a bit. I also couldn't help but feel that Ebony Maw kind of acts like a "herald of Galactus" when it comes to announcing the coming of Thanos.
But speaking of death...
Heimdall is dead, and it's always going to be a shame that this franchise never used Idris Elba to the fullest.
Guardians of the Galaxy
- The song playing during the Guardians' intro here is "Rubberband Man" by The Spinners, and it's kinda great. And as it turns out, James Gunn did indeed choose the tune. "The first song is James," co-writer Stephen McFeely told us. In fact, go read the whole interview with the writers because it's a riot.
- The Guardians are flying a new ship. This ain't the Milano...it's the Benatar. And for real, nobody can tell me that "Invincible" isn't the best Pat Benatar song.
- Teen Groot is playing a handheld version of the 1981 arcade game, Defender, which is an all-time coin-op classic. This is the closest we're going to get to the Netflix Defenders on the big screen, though. We wrote lots more about Groot's favorite game right here.
- Thanos calls on the Collector to pick up the reality stone from him. In The Thanos Quest comic, he does indeed kick the Collector's ass for a stone, but there it was for the soul stone, not reality.
- This is a great catch (thanks to Andrew Gallo!), Thanos'"where is the stone" line to the Collector echoes Benicio del Toro's line in Snatch!
By the way...what is the tree in the Collector's place, there? It looks familiar, but I can't quite place it, and I feel like I'm going to look like an idiot as soon as one of you points it out to me.
- The Collector for whatever reason owns Tobias Funke of Arrested Development fame (which is even confirmed in the end credits). Tobias is covered in blue paint, much like the episode of the show where he tried to join Blue Man Group. I don't even want to get into the can of worms with the continuity considering Tobias once put together a Fantastic Four musical.
- As the Guardians are heading into the Collector's lair, there's some circuitry on the wall that kind of reminds me of the Jack Kirby-esque designs we saw so much of in Thor: Ragnarok.
- The unnecessary reference to Footloose is a callback to the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, but also feels a little out of place with Spider-Man. It makes sense that Spidey would be down with things like Star Wars and Alien, but Footloose? C'mon. Nobody Peter Parker's age cares about that flick.
- Drax is eating a bag of Zargnuts...which makes me think of Zagnut, the candy bar that Beetlejuice used to lure an insect to its death in Tim Burton's classic movie which had seriously better never have a sequel or reboot ever. Anyway, this is perhaps an unnecessary pop culture connection to make and I now apologize to Peter Parker about my Footloose crack above.
- Worth pointing out that Nebula is Thanos' daughter in the MCU, but she's his granddaugher in the comics. His shitty treatment of her remains the same. Seriously, dude...lighten up.
We see Nebula half-disassembled and held in stasis, in a state of constant agony. In the comics, Thanos used the power of the Gauntlet to burn her to a crisp and keep her in a state between living and dying. Zombie Nebula with flesh dripping off her skeleton might have been a bit of a stretch for PG-13 MCU stuff, but this is the closest we're likely to get to that. It's definitely inspired by the comics.
- During the flashbacks detailing how he adopted Gamora, I'm pretty sure you can spot those giant Chitauri worm ship things from the first Avengers movie.
- In the comics Gamora has always been a big fan of blades and edged weapons. I feel like we get the "origin" of that with the knife here.
- Maybe Gamora knows ANOTHER secret about Thanos? For example, in the comics, Thanos always plants the seeds of his own defeat, because subconsciously he feels that he isn't worthy of power. Is this something Gamora knows? Well, knew...because she's dead. Right? Nah.
- While Gamora's death is a powerful scene here, this is the one proper on-screen death that I don't expect to stick. James Gunn had always said he had plans to complete the team's story in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and while he has since been fired off the project (to make Suicide Squad 2 for Warner Bros.), his script, or at least the essence of it, is likely to remain.
Don't be surprised if it turns out Gamora is just imprisoned in the soul stone. And seriously, how amazing is Zoe Saldana in this movie?
- This movie has the best Thor moments of any of his big screen appearances. And yes, I'm including the wonderful Thor: Ragnarok. The fact that they took us to Nidavelir, the home of the Norse Dwarves, and instead made it the heart of a star where Mjolnir was forged, well, that's a pretty wonderful way to do things.
- Making Peter Dinklage into the dwarf, Eitri, was even better. The Marvel Comics version of Eitri isn't nearly as cool as Peter Dinklage, but he made his first appearance in Thor Annual #11 in 1983.
- Is this the first time we learn Thor's actual age is 1500 years old?
- The whole sequence of Thor "starting up a star" is the kind of crazy "only in comics" thing that I love so much, and it feels like something that would come right out of the mind of Jack Kirby or Jason Aaron.
And c'mon, tell me this next shot doesn't look like a Jack Kirby panel come to life!
- Oh my god, Thor is wielding Stormbreaker now! Stormbreaker wasn't ever really Thor's weapon in the mainstream comics, but rather that of Beta Ray Bill, the noble, horse-faced replacement Thor, who we kinda sorta got a glimpse of in Thor: Ragnarok. He did wield a hammer/ax just like it in the Ultimate continuity, though.
- We get our first ever MCU use of Peter's Spider-sense in this movie when the ships arrive!
- Peter swaps out his regular costume for Tony's "17A" model, which we glimpsed at the end of Spider-Man: Homecoming. This is the cinematic equivalent of the dreadful "Iron Spider" armor Peter wore in the Civil War comics, right down to the extra appendages it gives him. This design is a little better than the comic book one...but only a little. It's kinda hideous, really.
Go back to the blue and red, kid.
- Spidey's line, “I’m being beamed up,” is a slight nod to Star Trek.
- But more importantly, and please tell me whether or not I'm crazy here, does the Tony/Peter relationship and banter in this movie feel like Rick and Morty to anyone else? I didn't get that vibe in Captain America: Civil War or Spider-Man: Homecoming, but it definitely felt that way here.
Except when Peter dies. That was heartbreaking.
Nice to see Peter got the old "web to the face" in that he did on Thanos in The Infinity Gauntlet comic, too!
The Stan Lee Cameo
- You all spotted Stan Lee driving the bus, right? Good. We miss him.
The Avengers: Endgame Roster
So maybe we shouldn't be surprised that the folks who survived are the core Avengers from the first movie. Our Avengers: Endgame roster will consist of Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Bruce Banner, Black Widow, Hawkeye (even though he's not here, we can confirm he isn't dead...more details here), plus War Machine, Rocket Raccoon, and Captain Marvel.
The Post Credits Scene
The post credits scenes kind of drive home the fact that the ending of Avengers: Infinity War is basically the beginning of the MCU version of The Infinity Gauntlet comic. In the second chapter of Infinity Gauntlet we saw how the world was affected when half of all humans just disappear, and yes, that includes car accidents, aviation mishaps, etc.
That final symbol you see belongs to Captain Marvel, but since this article is long enough already, I wrote in much, much more detail about the post-credits scene and everything it means right here.
Miscellaneous Cool Stuff
- Did I hear this correctly, and is the Asgardian spaceship known as the Ice Guardian? I know they also say "Asgardian families" when sending the distress call, but I feel like this was how they identified the ship.
- Overall, the opening to this was more akin to a Star Wars movie than anything Marvel usually does, just dropping us right into the jaws of a defeat with a seemingly unstoppable villain. Shades of A New Hope right off the bat...although some of the genuinely gruesome carnage with the dead bodies lying all over the place made me think of the end of Rogue One.
- At the Central Park reservoir, before Tony is told that "the fate of the universe is at stake" (which is some proper comic book dialogue right there), he makes a reference to Pepper having an eccentric uncle named Morgan. I'm drawing a blank on what this might be a reference to, though.
- You can basically just consider Cap's team the Secret Avengers in this. The lineup is similar enough!
Cap taking on Thanos in hand-to-hand combat is amazing. Thanos is, after all, a guy who could go at it with Thor or Hulk and come out OK. But this in particular reminds us of a specific scene from the original Infinity Gauntlet comics...
Cap is the best, you guys.
- Tony calls Ebony Maw "Squidward" which is pretty great. I...don't have to tell you who Squidward is, right?
- During the fights on the streets of NYC you can spot a New York Post newspaper dispenser. Still no sign of The Daily Bugle in the MCU. Seriously, what the hell? Although it's fun to point out that the layout and logo of the Bugle in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies was based heavily on the Post. I'm just surprised they used the Post here and not the Marvel Netflix-centric New York Bulletin. Apparently the producers considered having The Defenders make an appearance, but it just couldn't work out. It's probably for the best.
-Xandar's destruction was a key plot point in Annihilation, the opening chapter of the greatest era of Marvel space stories ever. Maybe that's the jumping off point of the Nova movie rumored to be in development?
- When Glave tries to take the Eye of Agamotto from Strange, his hand gets burned/branded, like Toht in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
- Captain America's phone number appears to be 678-136-7092. I haven't called it yet. I'm not going to AND NEITHER SHOULD YOU because if I read that wrong on the screen some poor senior citizen is going to get bombarded with phone calls and it's going to be my fault.
- I'm pretty sure that Vision and Scarlet Witch never lived in Scotland in the comics, but I'm willing to be corrected. Still, they're right on the verge of committing for life here, and assuming poor Vision manages to make a return at the end of Avengers: Endgame, I'd love to see them get married, like they did in the comics.
This is a pretty radical departure for Black Widow. It's actually referencing the second comics Black Widow, Yelena Belova, who was created in Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee's late '90s Inhumans series and ended up being an evil foil for Natasha.
- Who the hell has a bass guitar in Avengers HQ? Please tell me that's Thor's.
- The Alien tribute with Ebony Maw is an absolute highlight.
- If Avengers movies had been made in the 1980s, wouldn't David Bowie have been the most perfect Vision ever? And I'm getting such Bowie vibes from Paul Bettany's Vision performance that now I want him to star in a Ziggy Stardust movie. Hollywood, call me. I'm waiting by the phone. Alone. Writing about the intersection of Marvel superheroes and David Bowie. For the love of gods, someone please call me...
When Vision "dies" he's drained of color. While he isn't completely white like he was in the West Coast Avengers comic, there's definitely a resemblance.
That look pretty much defined the character in the early to mid '90s, too...including in the still awesome Captain America and the Avengers arcade game.
- When we're on Titan, and see the flashbacks to how it was before, are we basically seeing the seeds of Eternals society, there? They do have a movie in development, now.
- Vormir (the location of the Soul Stone) is a "real" place in the comics, existing way the hell out in the Kree galaxy. It was first mentioned in Avengers #123 in 1974.
- C'mon, admit it, NOBODY saw that Red Skull surprise coming, right? Sadly, that isn't Hugo Weaving, it's The Walking Dead's Ross Marquand. Bummer. On the bright side, maybe if we ever get a Captain America 4 this means the Skull can return!
OK Avengers, it's time to assemble! Let us know what we missed down in the comments or on Twitter, and if it checks out, we'll update this!
Which Marvel comics should you read before (or after) Avengers: Infinity War? We have a definitive reading guide for you!
Avengers: Infinity War brings fans the first extended appearance on screen of Thanos, a character with a surprisingly rich history for someone who was created as a ripoff of Darkseid/musing on the concept of nihilism by a bunch of really stoned teenagers - honestly, I'm not sure which one I'm supposed to cross out there. Thanos was both of those things, and so much more, and he became one of the Marvel Universe's most feared villains almost as soon as he burst on the scene.
We've got the perfect Avengers: Infinity War reading guide for you. It's full of the Marvel comics you're going to want to check out before and after the movie. We've also got some of the stories that might also have a little influence on Avengers: Endgame so you can be ready for all the references and winks at comics fans.
The Infinity Gauntlet
One of the most impressive things about Infinity War was the very specific dialogue in the trailer about Thanos wanting the Infinity Stones to kill "half the universe." That is a direct lift from The Infinity Gauntlet, the story that moved Thanos from a bit villain in Jim Starlin's psychedelic '70s Marvel space stories to one of the primary bad dudes of the entire Marvel Universe.
The Infinity Gauntlet had Thanos, furious that he was being friendzoned by an abstract concept, obtain the titular macguffin to impress Death by killing half the living beings in the universe. He does, and he is opposed by Adam Warlock and the universal entities who make up the real power of the galaxy - Eternity, Eon, Galactus, the Living Tribunal, etc. (to be clear, Etcetera is not a character in the Marvel Universe). Adam Warlock and Doctor Strange gather a team of heroes together, and teamed with the universal entites, everyone beats the hell out of Thanos until he tricks himself into not having the gauntlet any more.
I snark, but the thing about The Infinity Gauntlet is it's actually really good. Starlin's writing is more thoughtful and introspective than your typical big summer blockbuster, and George Perez's art on the first half is outstanding. This is a must-read if you're a fan of anything Marvel at all. It has a sequel that's actually called Infinity War, but that's not as essential a read, and doesn't seem to have anything to do with the movie.
Annihilation, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Thanos Imperative
Starting with Annihilationin 2006 and ending with The Thanos Imperative, writing duo Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning's time with the Marvel cosmic characters was foundational for both the future of Marvel Comics and for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Their Guardians of the Galaxy, which grew out of Annihilation: Conquest, is the basis for the MCU version of the Guardians. It also happens that this run of comics was INCREDIBLE.
The era began with a shock invasion of the galaxy by Annihilus and the Negative Zone, where Drax was remade from a monosyllabic killing machine to...a slimmed down, knife-wielding killing machine...and Thanos was helping Annihilus tap into the Power Cosmic, which they were harnessing from a captured Silver Surfer and Galactus. Thanos was killed by Drax at the end of the first series, and then the galaxy had to live through an invasion by the Ultron-led Phalanx; a war between the Shi'ar and the Kree; and a giant tear in the fabric of reality before Thanos was resurrected by the Universal Church of Truth. He was revealed as an avatar of Death, the universal concept and his forever alone internet girlfriend, when the tear in the fabric of reality was discovered to be the point of entry for a parallel universe where death had been conquered by Cthulu and Captain Mar-vell. Thanos quite predictably went apeshit and killed everything in a universe where nothing could be killed.
This era of Marvel cosmic was truly magnificent. Start with Annihilation and then go from there!
Jonathan Hickman's Avengers was enormous and wonderful, and as it turns out extremely important to Avengers: Infinity War.Two things from that era seem to be key to the plot of the movie. The first is how epic and large the Avengers team becomes. Avengers (the big team adventure book) starts with Iron Man telling Captain America "We have to get bigger." And eventually the team comes to encompass...pretty much every Marvel hero, along with (at varying points) Doctor Doom, Molecule Man, Thanos, Corvus Glaive, Black Swan, Proxima Midnight, and Terrax the Parallel Universe Tamer. The movie Avengers team seems similarly stuffed, so I expect many similar dynamics.
The other component of Hickman-era Avengers that is crucial to Infinity War is the Black Order, which we weent into detail about here. The whole design aesthetic of this movie seems to be heavily influenced by the art from Mike Deodato and Jerome Opena. That's a good thing.
Want to know how Thanos became an omega-level MRA? Jason Aaron and Simone Bianchi's Thanos Rising is the place to go.
This story shows Thanos' origins - as a Deviant (a mutant Eternal) on the moon Titan, Thanos' mother had a nervous breakdown immediately upon his birth. He went through life a passive, almost passionately nonviolent person until he discovered his true calling in life: killing as many people as he had to to get Death to notice him.
This comic is dark and weird and beautiful to look at, if extremely European in aesthetic. Aaron's writing is almost always good, and paired with Bianchi's sweeping painted art, it's a great comic.
Everything you need to know about The Dark Tower TV series, including latest news, release date, story details, and more!
The Dark Tower TV series is in development at Amazon. While the series was originally planned to tie into the 2017 film, that is no longer the plan, according to Stephen King in an interview with Vulture.
"The TV series they’re developing now … we’ll see what happens with that. It would be like a complete reboot, so we’ll just have to see," said King.
Glen Mazzara, who previously helmed The Walking Dead season 3, has been brought on as showrunner. Akiva Goldsman, who produced and co-wrote the film adaptation, will executive produce, along with Jeff Pinkner, Ron Howard, and Brian Grazer. Nikolaj Arcel, who directed The Dark Tower movie, and screenwriter Anders Thomas Jensen wrote a script for the pilot and will also executive produce.
Of course, it's unclear if Amazon plans to move forward with Arcel and Jensen's script now that the film has turned out to be a failure. That pilot was said to feature Idris Elba, who played Roland in the movie, and Tom Taylor, who played Jake. It's unclear what their involvement will be at this point. Mazzara might prefer to start from scratch completely.
MRC and Sony Pictures, which also released the film in 2017, will finance a 10-13 episode first season.
Here's everything else we know:
The Dark Tower TV Series Release Date
No release date has been set for The Dark Tower TV series. Filming was expected to begin in 2017 with a potential 2018 release date but that timetable seems to have shifted.
The Dark Tower TV Series Showrunner
Former Walking Deadexec producer Glen Mazzara will serve as showrunner for The Dark Tower TV series.
"I’ve been a Stephen King fan for decades and the opportunity to adapt The Dark Tower as a TV series is a great honor," Mazzara told THR. "The events of The Gunslinger, Wizard & Glass, The Wind Through the Keyhole, and other tales need a long format to capture the complexity of Roland's coming of age — how he became the Gunslinger, how Walter became the Man in Black, and how their rivalry cost Roland everything and everyone he ever loved. I could not be more excited to tell this story. It feels like being given the key to a treasure chest. And oh yeah, we’ll have billy-bumblers!"
Mazzara's involvement is definitely great news. He's responsible for what is arguably the greatest season of The Walking Dead after taking over for Frank Darabont in season 3. Hopefully, he'll bring a bit of his magic to The Dark Tower.
The showrunner has also been attached to a prequel to The Shining called The Overlook Hotelfor some time. No news on that front, though.
The Dark Tower TV Series Story
The show will reportedly flesh Roland's origin story and his first adventure as a young gunslinger from the fourth book in the series, Wizard and Glass.
In 2017, MRC released a cool promo that teased the setting of the show. It's a map of the different places in the Barony of Mejis, where most of Wizard and Glass takes place:
Roland's instructor, Cort, and his original ka-tet, Cuthbert and Alain, will reportedly appear on the show, although none of those roles have been cast yet.
2019 will bring tons of new games you should play. Here are 35 titles you can't miss...
Get ready, because 2019 is shaping up to be a special year for video games. While it's always possible for a year to take us by surprise in regards to how great it is for gaming or how bad it ends up being, you can generally tell when you're going to have a marquee year.
In the case of the formidable 2019, we get the feeling that it might be the last full year of the current console generation. Considering that the final years of consoles are often their best, there's plenty of reason to believe that 2019 is going to be the final, victorious bow for this generation's best developers.
Besides, a quick look at the best video games coming out in 2019 reveals a variety of titles that rank near the top of our most-anticipated games. From beloved RPG developers branching out into online shooters to the return of one of the greatest horror games ever made, 2019 is loaded with the kind of games that make you grateful to be a gamer.
First, though, we must share a brief explanation of our choices. While we're just as excited as you are about games like Ghost of Tsushima, Cyberpunk 2077, Halo Infinite, and The Last of Us Part II -- and fully believe that they will rank amongst the year's best video games -- there is currently no confirmation that those games will be released in 2019. As such, we are limiting this list to games that are currently scheduled for a 2019 release date.
With that out of the way, let's take a look at the best video games of 2019:
February 22 | BioWare | PS4, XBO, PC
BioWare’s Anthem is the studio’s most talked about game in years, even if it’s not always being talked about for the reasons that BioWare and EA would like. Questions of microtransactions and originality still surround this title a year after it was first announced.
Yes,Anthem is certainly a departure for the house that RPGs built, but everything that developer BioWare has shown of this Destiny-like online experience suggests that this online multiplayer experience is exactly what they needed to get back on track. Can this online shooter learn from the mistakes of its predecessors and deliver the ultimate sci-fi shared world experience?
TBA | Rare | XBO
We were starting to think that we’d never get another Battletoads game given that it’s been over 20 years since we’ve last received a new installment, but Rare is returning to the franchise that most people remember as one of the hardest games on the NES. This new Battletoads might feature a slightly different art style and other modern improvements, but we fully expect it to be largely familiar to fans who have been waiting years for another co-op brawler from this beloved, and undeniably bizarre, series.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
TBA | ArtPlay & DICO | PS4, XBO, Switch, PC
Since its Kickstarter debut, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night's name has come second to that of its creator, Koji Igarashi. Many of you may remember Igarashi as the director of the revolutionary Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and his return with a game that is very much in the spirit of his classic Castlevania tiles has been anticipated by genre fans for many years.
While we have some concerns regarding the possibility that Ritual of the Night ends up being the next Mighty No. 9, the quality of this team's side project - the 2D action/adventure title Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon - leads us to believe that these guys know what makes this genre tick and may be prepared to deliver something special.
February 15 | Reagent Games, Sumo Digital, Ruffian Games, Cloudgine | XBO, PC
It's been almost eight years since we last heard from the Crackdown series. There was a time when Microsoft's hidden gem open-world title provided a breath of fresh air to the subgenre. Its outlandish, superhero-like gameplay afforded players the chance to just go wild in a metro setting. The open-world genre -- and the world at large -- has changed quite a bit, though.
In order for Crackdown 3 to make the same impact that Crackdown protagonists make when they jump off the city's highest buildings and crash onto the streets below, it's going to have to invoke the casual gameplay of the first two games while finding a way to advance the game's style just enough to make us feel that old joy of galivanting around a superhero sandbox.
TBA | Bandai Namco | PS4, XBO
In a world without Dark Souls and Bloodborne (at least for the foreseeable future), the time is now for an outsider to ascend the throne and rule the kingdom that FromSoftware's titles helped establish. To that end, it's entirely possible that Code Vein may just become the next big game in this genre.
Code Vein is easily described as "anime Dark Souls." It's an over-the-top action-RPG that emphasizes an intricate combat system, character builds, and a sometimes punishing level of difficulty. It also adds a sometimes over-the-top style that is a far cry from Dark Souls' muted tones and grim atmosphere but just might be enough to help put this game over-the-top.
TBA | Remedy Entertainment | PS4, XBO, PC
Developer Remedy Entertainment remains one of the most exciting developers in gaming. What separates Remedy is the personality it infuses into its projects. There's never been a pedestrian Remedy game, even if some of those games missed the mark in terms of their overall execution.
From what we've seen of Control, we have no doubts that it will be full of Remedy's trademark personality. It's a bizarre psychological action title with supernatural elements that looks wonderfully eerie and exciting. Even better, Remedy has promised that this game will be slightly more open than its previous, very linear titles. We'll see whether or not that allows the studio to expand its creative borders.
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled
June 21 | Beenox | PS4, XBO, Switch
This remake of the original Crash Team Racing has a daunting task ahead of it. Somehow, it must please fans of the original surprise hit while winning over a generation that recently experienced the brilliant Mario Kart 8. We don't envy the task ahead of developer Beenox.
Yet, we're optimistic the studio can pull it off. CTR has retained its popularity over the years because it's a genuinely great racing game. Its fantastic modes and fascinating new mechanics help the game stand out among some considerable competition, and this remake seems to feature just enough new content to justify another lap no matter how familiar you may be with the original.
Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course
February | Studio MDHR | XBO, PC
We’d have a hard time arguing with anyone who calls Cuphead the Xbox One’s best exclusive title. Studio MDHR may have had to delay the game a few times, but the final product proved to be a gorgeous nod to both the era of 2D action titles and those classic animated adventures of the ‘30s and ‘40s.
We won’t have to wait nearly as long for our next taste of Cuphead. The Delicious Last Course may end up being the only Cuphead DLC release, but this massive second helping of Cuphead action should be enough to satisfy fans of the base game. With an entirely new island to explore and more incredible bosses to fight, The Delicious Last Course should prove to be a must-have.
April 26 | SIE Bend Studio | PS4
Days Gone remains the anomaly of what could be the PlayStation’s 4 final lineup of exclusive games. This post-apocalyptic open-world game has been shown at several Sony events in the past, but delays have pushed the game into the realm of doubt in the minds of some Sony fans.
Despite those delays, Days Gone remains a promising experience. The star of this game seems to be its truly hostile open-world, which features all manner of monsters and men trying to end your already troubled existence. Days Gone may have slipped from the 2018 release schedule, but don’t let it fall off your radar.
Dead or Alive 6
February 15 | Team Ninja | PS4, XBO, PC
The Dead or Alive series has long existed in this strange plane of popularity and respect. Dating back to the brilliant Dead or Alive 2, the franchise has been seen as an often fun, sometimes excellent, sometimes sloppy, and usually beautiful experience. Yet, it's never really received the respect that series like Street Fighter and Tekken typically garner.
By slightly maturing the series' gameplay and themes, Dead or Alive 6 is hoping to elevate the franchise to that level. Dead or Alive 6 is a little more grown-up and slightly more complicated, but it still retains many of the key elements that have kept fans devoted to the Dead or Alive series for all these years.
Devil May Cry 5
March 8 | Capcom | PS4, XBO, PC
The Devil May Cry series is generally regarded as one of the godfathers of the 3D action genre, but it’s been quite some time since we’ve gotten a new game from the franchise. Even Ninja Theory’s brilliant re-imagining of the Devil May Cry concept wasn’t enough to satisfy the series’ hardcore fans.
Devil May Cry 5 marks the franchise’s return to Capcom and, hopefully, a return to form for a series that was once known for its brutal difficulty and absurd cinematic set pieces. The action genre has evolved quite a bit since Capcom last delivered a proper Devil May Crygame, but we have the feeling this franchise is ready to reclaim the genre throne.
Far Cry: New Dawn
February 15 | Ubisoft Montreal | PS4, XBO, PC
The Far Cryseries has taken us to exotic jungles, war-torn nations, and rural America, but Far Cry: New Dawn moves the series in a completely different direction by giving us a view of what the end of the Far Cry world looks like. In New Dawn, you must navigate what remains of Far Cry 5's world following a nuclear event.
While all signs indicate that New Dawn will feature the familiar suite of Far Cry gameplay, the hook here is the game's fascinating premise and the way it has affected so many things in this world. New Dawn looks like a cruel and formidable Far Cry game that we're very much looking forward to.
TBA | Coalition | XBO, PC
Gears of War 4 was a fascinating turning point for the Xbox exclusive franchise. While the game retread the same pure shooter grounds that its predecessors once walked, it also planted seeds for a deeper, more personal story than we’re used to seeing from Gears of War games.
Gears 5 looks to continue the advancements of the previous title by focusing on a much more intimate story about a band of soldiers trying to complete a mission of revenge and redemption. This game will likely be one of the Xbox One’s final major exclusives, and it could embody the same hope for the future that Microsoft and the Xbox brand have.
Kingdom Hearts III
January 25 | Square Enix Co., Ltd. | PS4
It hasn't exactly been a long time since we last played a new Kingdom Hearts game -- the series is kind of infamous for its oddly named sequels, prequels spin-offs, and re-releases -- but it has been about 13 years since the release of Kingdom Hearts II. Suffice it to say, that time has only made the game's passionate fanbase even more rabid.
Fortunately, Kingdom Hearts III is shaping up to be the Kingdom Hearts game that we've all been waiting for. This strikingly beautiful title will not only finally bring classic Disney classics like Toy Storyinto the fold, but it figures to improve the franchise's already great gameplay through the implementation of a better camera and a refined combat system. Dare we say that this game might just live up to the hype?
Luigi's Mansion 3
TBA | Next Level Games | Switch
Truth be told, the Luigi's Mansion franchise has never been perfect. You could argue it's never even really been truly great. Yet, as a GameCube launch title, the original Luigi's Mansion captured that whimsical spirit of fun and creativity that has always separated Nintendo games from just about everything else on the market.
What's going to be interesting to see in the case of Luigi's Mansion 3 is whether or not Nintendo has found a way to filter that creativity and fun through a series of equally clever and much-improved gameplay mechanics that allow this title to exist as something more than a generally beloved curiosity. Considering Nintendo's recent success, we're going to guess it'll hit that mark.
Man of Medan
TBA | Supermassive Games | PS4, XBO, PC
The PS4 has no shortage of incredible exclusives, but Until Dawn might just be among the console's very best. As a highly-cinematic horror title, Until Dawn took the gameplay and presentation we saw from titles like Heavy Rain and used them to tell a horror story that felt like both a tribute to the genre's '80s glory days and a declaration of how games are capable of scaring us.
With The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan, the Until Dawn team returns to tell another (likely very frightening) horror story. This time, though, the story will be presented in an anthology format. We certainly love a good horror anthology film or television show, and we're interested in seeing whether that format helps alleviate some of the final act plot problems that dragged Until Dawn down just slightly.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order
TBA | Team Ninja | Switch
Well, this is certainly a surprise. The original Marvel Ultimate Alliancegames were a dream come true for Marvel fans. They were action-RPG titles that allowed gamers to build superhero dream teams and beat up just about every villain imaginable. As fun as they were, the state of the Marvel property made it unlikely we'd see another game of its kind.
Yet, here we are. Not only are we getting a third Ultimate Alliance game, but it's being developed by the legendary Team Ninja and will be a Nintendo Switch exclusive. Outside of those curveballs, this looks like the same old great Ultimate Alliance experience that we know and love. At a time when the world needs more good Marvel games, this looks like a potentially great one.
February 22 | 4A Games | PS4, XBO, PC
Those who have played the Metroseries know that it is one of the most atmospheric and clever first-person shooter franchises of the modern era. The problem is that it always feels like not enough people have actually played these incredible games.
Metro Exodus wants to expand the notoriety of these cult classic games by expanding the Metro world itself. While Metro Exodus isn’t exactly an open-world game, this upcoming shooter will expand the scope of the Metro concept by delivering the largest and most intriguing take on the series' fascinating look at the end of the world.
Mortal Kombat 11
April 23 | NetherRealm Studios | PS4, XBO, PC, Switch
While there have been many rumors of a new Mortal Kombat project in recent months, we weren't expecting the game to make its gory debut at the 2018 Game Awards. Yet, there are few who deny that Mortal Kombat effectively stole that show.
What intrigues us most about Mortal Kombat is how little it appears to have changed over the years. This is still a hyper-violent, over-the-top, hard-hitting fighting game franchise featuring a roster full of familiar faces. There's something comforting about what Mortal Kombat 11 looks to offer, and it might just live up to the standards of recent great fighting games.
New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe
January 11 | Nintendo | Switch
We don't blame you if you call the Nintendo Switch the Nintendo Wii 2.0, but don't assume that is a bad thing. Indeed, one of the Switch's best features is the way in which it has resurrected some of those incredible Wii U titles that were burdened with the problems of the console itself.
While Super Mario 3D World might be the Wii U's best Mario title, it's hard to deny that New Super Mario Bros. U is a definitive franchise experience. This deluxe version of the game will take everything that made the original great, add in a few new features, and bundle it all together in a new package designed for the incredible Nintendo Switch. It's hard to see how this game is anything less than great.
TBA | Team Ninja | PS4
Nioh proved to be one of the most surprising games of 2017. Many worried that the beleaguered Team Ninja was foolishly trying to capitalize on the popularity of Dark Souls and would end up delivering a copycat that took years to make. What we got instead was a confident action-adventure RPG that stood tall on its own merits.
While we doubt that Nioh 2 will try to reinvent the original, we’ll gladly settle for more of the game’s compelling mythical world, fluid action, and fascinating weapons system. Nioh 2 may not surprise as many people as the original, but it should be just as great as the 2017 sleeper hit.
June | Avalanche Studios, id Software | PS4, XBO, PC
We’d be lying if we told you that we spent sleepless hours hoping for the announcement of a new Rage game. The original Rage was a largely forgettable game that capitalized on a largely forgettable era of shooters. It wasn’t the kind of game that people build fan conventions around.
Rage 2, though, is shaping up to be one of the most surprising sequels in recent memory. Granted, that’s because its mere existence is somewhat surprising, but everything we’ve seen of the game thus far suggests that Rage 2 will combine the best of several popular action games to produce something that’s ultimately kind of special.
Resident Evil 2
January 25 | Capcom | PS4, XBO, PC
Rumors of a remake of Resident Evil 2 date back to the release of the Resident Evil remake for GameCube. In fact, we’ve heard about this game for so long without actually seeing it that we forgive anyone who started to feel like there was no chance this remake would ever actually be released.
Against all odds, though, Resident Evil 2’s official debut at E3 2018 managed to meet just about every expectation that we’ve assigned to the project over the years. This 2019 title is a true love letter to the horror classic.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
March 22 | FromSoftware | PS4, XBO, PC
When FromSoftware suggested that Sekiro would not be like Dark Souls, many fans were skeptical. It looked like Dark Souls, it appeared to be as challenging as Dark Souls, and it was even presented in a very Dark Souls-like way.
Yet, there are times when something may walk and quack like a duck but isn't a duck. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice borrows some elements from Dark Souls, but is an entirely new samurai adventure that features a brilliant weapon system as well as an increased emphasis on giving the player a second chance to recover after they have died. Keep an eye on this one if you loved Dark Souls, but don't discount it if you didn't.
TBA | Crea-ture Studios | XBO, PC
Fans of skateboarding games -- or extreme sports games in general -- haven’t exactly had a lot to be thankful for in recent years. The decline of the mainstream appeal of extreme sports has also led to a decline in the amount of quality extreme sports games on the market.
That’s a big part of the reason why Session has captured the imagination of many. This modern-day skateboarding game seeks to revive the dual-analog controls of the Skate series while introducing an expanded video capture system that encourages you to raise your notoriety by sharing your best moves with the world.
August 27 | YS Net, Neilo | PS4, PC
When we first heard that Shenmue was finally receiving the third installment that most gamers thought would never happen...well, there may have been some entirely unprofessional giddy cheers. In the years that have followed that reveal, we've unfortunately not been treated to many updates regarding the game's story, gameplay features, or final visual style.
Still, we're talking about a sequel to a franchise that was not only revolutionary but has remained in the hearts of many gamers. With any luck, Shenmue III will be the epic tale of kung-fu revenge and bizarre minigames that we've been waiting for.
Skull and Bones
TBA | Blue Byte, Ubisoft Chengdu, Ubisoft Singapore | PS4, XBO, PC
Sea of Thieves gave us a taste of sharing the pirate life with our friends, but it ultimately left us feeling like there were better adventures somewhere out on the high seas. Ubisoft’s Skull and Bones offers an interesting alternative to Rare’s playful pirate adventure.
If you blend the online elements of Destiny with the pirate lifestyle seen in Black Flag, you’ll get a taste of what Skull and Bones aims to offer. Can it live up to the promise of its pedigree or will this be another pirate video game that walks the plank after just a few weeks?
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
TBA | Respawn | PS4, XBO, PC
Here’s what we know about Jedi: Fallen Order. It’s being developed by Respawn (the fine folks responsible for the Titanfallseries), it will take place between Star Wars Episode III and IV, and it is currently set to be released in 2019.
You might say that’s not enough information to form any kind of opinion on this project, but in a world that is maddeningly devoid of quality Star Wars games, Jedi: Fallen Order has enough going for it to give us hope that this game might actually deliver the kind of Star Wars experience we so desperately crave.
Team Sonic Racing
May 21 | Sumo Digital | PS4, XBO, PC
We get it: Sonic Racing games aren't Mario Kart. There are few times when you're playing them as a Mario substitute that you feel like you're getting something that is just as great. However, recent Sonic Racing titles have been closing that gap a bit, not by replicating Mario Kart but by emphasizing elements that may not be present in the Mario Kart series.
Team Sonic Racing looks to build on all the ways in which this series has evolved. This titles new mechanics, multiplayer modes, team ultimate abilities, and rival feature might just help turn it into something more than the other racing game on the block.
The Division 2
March 15 | Massive Entertainment, Red Storm Entertainment, MORE | PS4, XBO, PC
The original Divisionwas a fascinating game that briefly captured online shooter fans before being buried under some bad design choices and a frustrating lack of updates. The team behind The Division 2 is well-aware of the original game’s shortcomings. As such, the developers have set out to ensure that this sequel will be bigger, more story-driven, and more accommodating to groups of players. Will those changes be enough for The Division 2 to fulfill the original's full potential?
The Outer Worlds
TBA | Obsidian Entertainment | PS4, XBO, PC
2019 may be one of the most promising years in recent memory, but in the minds of many, The Outer Worlds may be the only game they really need. The Outer Worlds is basically the Obsidian-developed Fallout sequel that fans have been waiting for since New Vegas. This open-world RPG features all of the clever writing, the variety of choices, and true role-playing options that we've come to expect from one of the best RPG studios in the world. One part Fallout, one part Mass Effect, and more than a few dashes of new concepts, The Outer Worlds may just prove to be the best game of 2019.
The Sinking City
March 21 | Frogwares | PS4, XBO, PC
While we love a good Lovecraftian story as much as the next person, the fact of the matter is that there are too many Lovecraftian stories in gaming that either miss the mark, feel generic, or are burdened with gameplay that doesn't quite equal the brilliance of the game's atmosphere and plot.
The Sinking City feels like it could be different. Best described as a version of L.A. Noire that takes place in a Lovecraftian world, The Sinking City sees you play as a private investigator in the flooded city of Oakmont who is tasked with discovering the truth behind mysteries great and small. That emphasis on investigation gameplay (combined with the game's fascinating premise and setting) leads us to believe this could be a Lovecraftian game that gets it right.
February 12 | Ubisoft, RedLynx | PS4, XBO, PC, Switch
The Trials franchise is one of those strange series that either leaves no impression on those who play it or instantly converts them into diehard fans. There’s very little middle-ground for this trial-and-error franchise.
Trials Rising is shaping up to be the first Trials game that openly recognizes that divide. For those who did not fall in love with previous Trials games, Rising offers a tutorial system designed to help you understand how this intentionally frustrating game works. Meanwhile, long-time fans will benefit from the input that some of Trials’ most diehard players shared with the developers when they were designing the game’s courses.
TBA | MachineGames | PS4, XBO, PC
Wolfenstein II was one of those games that we couldn’t help but fall in love with. Despite its flaws, the game’s story, characters, and outlandish scenarios elevated it to a level of quality that many FPS games can only hope to reach.
While Youngblood isn’t the direct sequel to Wolfenstein II that we were waiting for, it is an interesting spin-off that adds co-op action to the incredible alternate history universe of the rebooted Wolfenstein series. We’ll gladly bring a friend along for another trip through developer MachineGames’ epic series.
Yoshi's Crafted World
TBA | Good-Feel | Switch
The list of things we don’t know about Yoshi's Crafted World is slightly longer than what we do know about the game. What we can tell you, though, is that Yoshi’s Woolly World was one of the Wii U’s most underrated titles and one of Yoshi’s greatest adventures. The reason that matters is that this upcoming Yoshi title intends to replicate many of the qualities that made Woolly World as great as it was.
This time around, however, the Woolly World formula is bolstered by the introduction of a new mechanic that allows players to “flip” a stage and open up new paths. It sounds simple, but if the game’s first trailer is any indication, this mechanic will force players to completely reconsider the way that they view the typical 2D platformer level. For those who lament how far Mario has walked away from his platformer roots, Yoshi's Crafted World may just be the classic Nintendo experience you’re looking for.
Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors.
Murder comes to Wayne Manor in Detective Comics #995, and Batman isn't happy about it.
You don't spend a decade working on a character without figuring some stuff out about him. This is why we were so excited about Pete Tomasi and Doug Mahnke coming back to Batman when it was announced at San Diego Comic Con. And for all the internal hype about it, their first issue back, Detective Comics#994 still managed to exceed expecations. So of course we jumped at the chance to share an exclusive preview of this week's issue, #995, when it was offered.
Here's what DC has to say about the issue, which hits stores today, Jan. 2!
DETECTIVE COMICS #995 written by PETER J. TOMASI
art by DOUG MAHNKE and JAIME MENDOZA
cover by DOUG MAHNKE
variant cover by MARK BROOKS
Alfred Pennyworth…attacked at the Wayne mansion! Who’s hunting those closest to Batman? The monstrous shadow creature plaguing Gotham City gains the upper hand when two of the Dark Knight’s most ardent allies fall prey to the violent vendetta. Will those tragedies send Batman over the edge? Good thing he’s on his way to Arkham Asylum—but will he investigate a murder, or get incarcerated in a padded cell?
Check it out...
It feels like there's a conscious narrowing of the Bat-universe. In the last year, Batman's world has expanded to two multiverses, a barracks-load of Gotham vigilantes, and in recent issues of Justice League, a mech suit/bacta tank that let him work with his new partner, Jarro (Starro the Conquerer but in a jar...it's actually pretty self-explanatory).
So far in this run, we've seen Batman and Commissioner Gordon investigating a murder mystery. And a car chase. This is not a knock on anything else going on with the character (because it's been fantastic), but it's also refreshing to have a book where Batman can do Regular Batman things, instead of Black Casebook stuff with the Justice League.
Mahnke is an exceptional Batman artist. His storytelling is crystal clear, and his Batman is full of stoic menace. There's a sequence later in this issue that is one of the most perfect Batman sequences I've ever read, and it's all from the terror that Batman can impart on his foes and the reader. He's brutal, savage, and scary as hell.
Also with the exception of maybe Brian Bolland, I'm not sure if there's anyone whose Joker I prefer more. Most of the greats have their own peculiar charms, but nobody mixes the Joker's horror, his distorted cartoonishness, and the actual physical pain looking like that must cause quite as well as Mahnke. These pages work, showing Leslie in a Joker venom medical emergency, because Mahnke sells it so well. She looks like she's dying here.
For more on Tomasi and Mahnke's return to Batman and on the leadup to Detective Comics#1000, stick with Den of Geek!
Gerard Way takes us on a trip to the Hotel Oblivion and beyond in our chat about the return of The Umbrella Academy.
This article contains Umbrella Academy spoilers.
Gerard Way is a bit tired on the third day of New York Comic Con. He'd stayed up late for a Netflix cast dinner the night before (he's in bed by 9:45 most nights) and had overslept this morning. Worst of all, he'd been forced to skip his morning meditation.
"It's kind of throwing my whole day off," Way tells me as we sit together in a corner of the Dark Horse booth at the Javits Center, hidden from the masses. The writer/musician is dressed in a big fatigue jacket, hair long and shaggy. He's starting to show hints of a shiny gray. Once impeccably clean-shaven, he now sports a mustache and beard.
Gone are the days of bleached hair, marching bands, and eyeliner. The force of nature who belted out songs about wasted youth, love lost, and doom as the frontman of My Chemical Romance is dead (like the Black Parade itself). Three cheers for the next life of Gerard Way, one of the best comic book writers currently working.
In October, following his excellent work on DC's Doom Patrol with artist Nick Derington, Way finally returned to his original comic book creation, The Umbrella Academy, after an almost ten-year hiatus. The new story arc, Hotel Oblivion, is a grand return for the series as well as for Way and the brilliant Brazilian artist Gabriel Ba, who first collaborated on the series in 2007 and won an Eisner for Best Limited Series in 2008.
The Umbrella Academy is the story of an estranged family of superheroes, years past their prime, who must navigate a nightmarish family reunion, prevent the end of the world, and deal with their traumatic pasts at the hands of their cold (and sometimes abusive) father. In the series' first arc, Apocalypse Suite, the team must stop one of their siblings, a classically trained violinist, from bringing about the end of the world with her evil orchestra. The follow-up, Dallas, is the story of Number Five, a time-traveling assassin who's hired to go back to 1963 and kill John F. Kennedy. It's up to his siblings to either help him or thwart the assassination from ever taking place.
Just three issues into Hotel Oblivion, Way and Ba have laid the foundation for another epic story, this time spanning not only time but also space. At the center of this tale is the titular hotel, a purgatorial prison located in an alternate dimension meant to house the world's worst criminals. The secrets of this hotel and the family's connection to it are the focus of the arc, but there are also plenty of other strange shenanigans along the way.
You have to read it to believe it: 43 superpowered orphans are born around the world at the same time to women whom just seconds before hadn't been pregnant. This is the big bang of Way and Ba's outrageous comic book universe, an alternate version of our reality where Kennedy wasn't assassinated and wrestlers wage war against giant space monsters in the ring. Seven of these orphans are adopted by Sir Reginald Hargreeves, a rich scientist who also happens to be an undercover alien, and turned into the world's most famous superhero team, the Umbrella Academy. Together, these extraordinary kids have stopped the Eiffel Tower from taking over the world, defeated a rampaging Lincoln Memorial, and put all manner of costumed villains behind bars.
But those were the good old days.
By the start of the story, one of the orphans is already dead. You quickly find out he was the lucky one because the remaining six siblings are seriously fucked up, thanks to their manipulative and emotionally unavailable father, who's very good at saving the world but terrible at giving the kids what they need the most: love and support.
When the remaining members of the team -- Luther aka Spaceboy, Diego aka the Kraken, Allison aka the Rumor, Klaus aka the Seance, Number Five, and Vanya aka the White Violin (but only after discovering her apocalyptic powers as an adult) -- return home for Sir Reginald's funeral, things only get more complicated. Spaceboy struggles with depression, Kraken is unable to get close to anyone, Rumor's marriage is breaking down, Seance falls deeper into drug addiction, and Number Five...well, he's actually doing alright...
By the end of Dallas, the team is more broken than ever before and it seems that only distance from each other can help mend these characters. Well, a decade was plenty of distance, a lot of time for Way to consider what came next for his children. By the time Way started working on Umbrella Academy again in 2014, he found that the way he thought about these characters had changed.
"I think I understand them in different ways now," Way says. "I think I'm less hard on them. I think I've found more compassion in dealing with them. I've put them through some really hard things and sometimes I feel bad about it."
These days, Way is interested in really digging into the trauma these characters have faced and maybe even giving them some space to heal.
"Trauma is a very intense thing and a very real thing and everybody experiences it in some way. I obviously did not have a childhood like these kids. But I did have a childhood in which I needed to escape a lot."
Hotel Oblivion certainly feels like an escape for the Hargreeves siblings, who are spread out all over the globe (and in the afterlife because that's how the Seance rolls). The first four issues are a sort of exhale for these characters, who are still recovering from major losses, heartbreak, and the whole JFK business.
After all the blood, explosions, betrayals, and deaths, Hotel Oblivion is meant to be cathartic, according to Way: "It's about the past. It's about mistakes. It's about fathers. It's about redemption. It's definitely a therapeutic series."
At the center of the story is still the concept of family. The Rumor is trying to help Vanya recover from the injuries she suffered in Apocalypse Suite while also trying to reconnect with her civilian family and working with the ultra-violent Number Five on his latest gambit.
Most surprising is the mending relationship between the Kraken and the team's former leader, Spaceboy. While stuck in an eternal sibling rivalry in the first two arcs -- Kraken challenges Spaceboy's leadership, Spaceboy condemns Kraken's impulsivity -- these scarred heroes start to reach out to each other in Hotel Oblivion. It's a change in the dynamic of the team that didn't seem possible back in 2009.
"Kraken's interesting and his relationship with Spaceboy changes in this series," Way explains. "A lot of it had to do with the fact that I was tired of writing that type of character, that rebellious fool, that Wolverine kind who always gives the leader shit. I never saw Kraken always being that way. I thought he was gonna be that way in the beginning and then he would grow."
Kraken, the loner who most resembles the "Batman" of the group, is actually the one trying to reunite the superhero team. Meanwhile, an overweight Spaceboy, who fled to Tokyo after the events of Dallas, is dealing with an existential crisis and no longer interested in leading his siblings.
"He's searching," Way says of Spaceboy. "I like the idea of a lost leader. A leader that doesn't have the answers anymore. Who's maybe not even a leader anymore. So I loved exploring that with Spaceboy."
Spaceboy isn't the only leader in need of redemption, though. Even Sir Reginald deserves a re-examination, according to Way.
"I learned more about him. I learned more about his history in working through this stuff, and I can't reveal any of that, obviously. But I've learned to find even compassion for him. Like there's a reason he is the way he is. Over the course of the series, you discover that reason of why he is this kind of ruthless person."
For these heroes, their father remains the catalyst for their problems. Will these characters ultimately find peace (and maybe even love) where it previously eluded them? It's too early to say, but at the very least, the search for the Hotel Oblivion gives them a new place to inevitably find and help each other.
"The story at one point was gonna be a little bit less about the people that live in the hotel, but over time I found that I really wanted to tell their stories, so there are a lot more characters in Hotel Oblivion than there were nine years ago."
The Hotel Oblivion, with its faceless bellhops and cockroach entrees, might remind one of Captain Willard's stay in Saigon in the opening minutes of Apocalypse Now. Willard's hotel room is a sort of purgatory before his journey back to hell, a way station where he's left to relive his trauma over and over until he's lying naked on the dirty carpet, crying, bleeding, and a bit mad.
Way's prison isn't quite as dramatic as that, but it's doubly as terrifying. When Sir Reginald sends the villainous Murder Magician to the hotel, we get to see firsthand the lengths to which Sir Reginald will go to "save the world," letting the bad guys rot in a TripAdvisor hellscape without a trial.
"The concept of Hotel Oblivion deals a little bit with capital punishment," Way explains. "I think in terms of current events and the state of our world right now, in future Umbrella Academy volumes, we'll see a little more of that creep its way into the book. But right now I really wanted to explore capital punishment because we know what a super prison is."
Watching the villain watch a grotesque Lynchian cartoon about mice on the hotel television with nowhere else to go for the rest of eternity, you even start to feel for him. In one panel, he looks out his window at the desert beyond the hotel, surrounded on all sides by desolation and the bony carcasses of animals. This place could break him, the villain's face seems to say (Ba's pencils bring depth and emotion beautifully to this book).
"You don't really see mainstream comics exploring the ramifications of somebody having to live in Arkham Asylum and what that does to somebody psychologically. Or if the Phantom Zone is ethical punishment. So it deals a lot with that."
Way took inspiration from his real-life travels when creating the titular hotel, which he based on the Benson Hotel in Portland, Oregon where he stayed while working on the original Umbrella Academy stories.
"It's a very old hotel and it's kinda classy, but it's also a little bit old. From the outside, it kinda looks like the Hotel Oblivion," Way recalls. "I would be really isolated in that room just writing. I started to become inspired by the environment that I was in."
There was a time in Way's life when the writing didn't come so easy, though. Way told EW back in October that writing Umbrella Academy while on the road with My Chemical Romance became more difficult, describing the twilight of the band during that final tour as "really taxing." The band broke up in 2013 and Way jumped straight into a solo album, Hesitant Alien, soon after, further delaying his comic book work.
Way has a steady place to work now, a studio separate from his house. That's where the magic happens.
"I wake up really early, I hang out with my daughter, get her ready for school, I take her to school, I come back, I meditate, and then I start writing. And that takes up most of my time. I only make music on Fridays."
Since our chat, Way has released two groovy new songs, "Baby, You're a Haunted House" and "Getting Down the Germs," which show the artist moving away from both his emo pop roots and Britpop revival sensibilities to a more psychedelic sound. "Germs" even has a flute solo courtesy of renowned flutist Sara Andon. A third song, "Dasher," is a lovely Christmas ballad about a girl who falls in love with a reindeer, with backup vocals by Lydia Night of The Regrettes. Yeah, this is Way like we've never heard him before.
Way is also working on the upcoming Umbrella Academy Netflix series. The first season, which is set to debut on Feb. 15, will adapt both Apocalypse Suite and Dallas. That's quite a bit of ground to cover (across at least three different time periods), but Way, who has spent a lot of time on set as an executive producer, says that the series is going deeper into certain parts of the story than the comics did.
"Since they have more time, they can get deeper into things that may only be like two pages in the comic. And that's been really cool. They explore the characters a lot more." Way teases that both arcs "were expanded for the TV show. There are new elements in there. They've kind of enhanced the experience of those two graphic novels."
Beyond Hotel Oblivion and the Netflix show are more comics. In fact, Way is already developing the fourth arc with Ba.
"I'm putting all my notes together. So basically I know that there are eight volumes of Umbrella and I know what happens in each of them. I know what happens in the fourth. We're basically gonna take about three months between Hotel and when we start series four."
What can Way tease about series four? The arc will explore the biggest mystery at the center of their superhero universe, according to Way.
"We're finally gonna get to see some more of the 43 individuals." But he won't say any more about that.
Don't worry, though. The writer knows that you've been waiting a long time to learn more about these characters, to spend more time in their world. At the end of our chat, he opens up about how much it means to him that fans continue to ask for The Umbrella Academy.
"I just really appreciate them sticking around," Way says. "If people didn't care about it, I don't know, maybe I would have moved on to something else. But they still really want to know the whole story and so it's my duty to tell that story. I'm gonna give them what they want."
The Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion #1-4 are out now. Issue #5 is out on Feb. 6. The Netflix series premieres on Feb. 15.
John Saavedra is an associate editor at Den of Geek. Read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @johnsjr9.
Netflix has given a series order to Raising Dion, a sci-fi story about woman raising a super-powered young son.
Another superhero series is joining Netflix’s original content lineup. However, this one won’t quite fit with its existing Marvel small screen scene. Raising Dion, an independently-created superhero sci-fi story that carries a heartfelt family twist, has been given a full series order by the streaming giant.
Netflix has announced that Raising Dion will arrive on its platform with a 10-episode series order. The story stems from a 2015 short film and comic book of the same name, created by Dennis Liu and illustrated by Jason Piperberg. It depicts the innately unconventional parenting task of a widowed African-American woman, whose 7-year-old son Dion possesses an array of potent superpowers (telekinesis, energy projection, invisibility, etc.). Yet, despite its fantastical premise, the focus rests more on the realistic implications that one would have when raising a child who has a normal sense of wonder and mischief, but happens to possess incredibly dangerous abilities. Indeed, the sight of the mother packing a pistol while watching some men-in-black types outside her door drives home the idea that threats are everywhere.
Discussing the Netflix pickup, creator Dennis Liu expresses in a statement:
“I started this project many years ago because I wanted to see more diverse representation on film and television and I’m excited to partner with Netflix, who I know shares that commitment. More than ever, we need more stories told from different points of view and my hope with Raising Dion is to create a cinematic experience for all families that will lift your spirits and make you laugh and cry.”
Helping Liu in that endeavor with Raising Dion will be appointed showrunner Carol Barbee, who has also written the script for the first episode. Barbee, a veteran television writer/producer, has been attached to a wide variety of series, notably in the sci-fi/action arena, with Falling Skies, Touch, Hawaii Five-O and Jericho, as well as dramas such as UnREAL, Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce and Judging Amy. She is joined by exec producers in Macro’s Charles D. King, Kim Roth and Poppy Hanks, along with Kenny Goodman and Michael Green.
Intriguingly enough, also joining Barbee as an executive producer on Raising Dion will be actor Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther), who is onboard via his Outlier Society Productions. Moreover, Jordan will also appear on the series on occasion, playing the late father of the titular super-powered-sprout, who (at least, in the original short,) is implied to have been a military man who was cut down in action.
Regarding Michael B. Jordan’s presence on the series, Netflix VP of Original Content Cindy Holland states:
“We haven’t seen this type of superhero story before — an origin myth full of imagination, wonder and adventure, all grounded in the experiences of a modern single mother. Michael B. Jordan is an exciting and dynamic talent, and I’m excited to see him, Macro, Carol and the team translate Dennis’ unique vision to television.”
Longtime TV director Seith Mann (who, like Jordan, worked on TheWire but not at the same time as the actor) is set to direct the series' first episode per Deadline.
Raising Dion does stand as a potentially unique family-centric take on an increasingly crowded superhero/sci-fi genre, also carrying much of the same X-Men-esque drama about society’s depicted fear of superpowered people; something that will undoubtedly be rooted in socially topical themes.
Raising Dion Cast
Netflix has now cast the Dion in Raising Dion along with his mother as well. According to Deadline, newcomer Ja’Siah Young will protray the young boy with limitless potential and powers. Alisha Wainwright (Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments) will play the mother tasked with raising him, Nicole.
Michael B. Jordan, of course, is portraying Dion's father and he posted a lovely little family photo to his Instagram.
On the non-family front, Jason Ritter previously joined Michael B. Jordan in being one of the first actors cast on Raising Dion. Ritter will portray Pat, a comicbook fan, scientist, and best friend to Jordan's character, Mark. After Mark dies, Pat fills in as a paternal figure for Dion and shares a special bond with her. Someone's gotta raise Dion! The show's title demands it.
Ritter has had a strong recent history of television roles and is coming off of starring in ABC's Kevin (Probably) Saves the World. Deadline first reported the casting.
Jazmyn Simon (Ballers) will play Kat, Nicole's sister and a surgical student.
Raising Dion Release Date
There’s no word yet on when Netflix expects Raising Dion to arrive. It is not currently among the shows listed in Netflix's roster and could get a release date of 2019 or later.