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- 02/07/18--16:25: _Chris Claremont on ...
- 02/08/18--16:54: _Justice League Milk...
- 02/09/18--07:23: _10 Times The Joker ...
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- 02/08/18--16:06: _Marvel Cinematic Un...
- 02/16/18--12:44: _Reinventing Robotech
- 02/16/18--18:29: _The Brave and the B...
- 02/19/18--09:50: _Lex Luthor and the ...
- 02/19/18--10:00: _Talia al Ghul Retur...
- 02/19/18--10:22: _Death of Thor Comin...
- 02/19/18--14:20: _Best Black Panther ...
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- 02/20/18--20:43: _All Our Wrong Today...
- 02/07/18--16:25: Chris Claremont on the X-Men Past and Future
- 02/08/18--16:54: Justice League Milk Wars Is The Cure for What Ails Comics
- 02/09/18--07:23: 10 Times The Joker Almost Nailed Batman
- 02/09/18--16:04: Black Panther Could Have Featured Kraven as the Villain
- 02/10/18--01:48: Titans TV Series Will Introduce The Doom Patrol
- 02/10/18--14:24: The Firefly Story Will Continue in Book Form
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- 02/12/18--18:00: The Umbrella Academy Release Date, Cast, & Everything Else We Know
- 02/13/18--15:46: A Superman Era Comes to an End in May
- 02/13/18--17:02: Batman Ninja Trailer Arrives, Release Date Revealed
- 02/13/18--17:57: Hell’s Kitchen Film Casts Melissa McCarthy as Mob Boss
- 02/13/18--23:43: Outpost by W. Michael Gear Review
- 02/14/18--11:31: Hellboy Comes out of Retirement This May
- 02/14/18--20:08: Winston Duke on Making a New M’Baku for Black Panther
- 02/15/18--10:07: The 50 Best Moments From the Injustice Comic Series
- 02/15/18--15:23: Game of Thrones: Next Book Will Not Be Winds of Winter
- 02/15/18--16:31: Power Rangers: Shattered Grid Trailer
- 02/15/18--18:07: Fangoria Rises From Premature Online Burial As Print Magazine
- 02/08/18--15:43: The 15 Craziest Venom Moments in History
- 02/16/18--12:44: Reinventing Robotech
- 02/16/18--18:29: The Brave and the Bold: Inside the Batman and Wonder Woman Team-Up
- 02/19/18--09:50: Lex Luthor and the Three Times He Was Elected US President
- 02/19/18--10:00: Talia al Ghul Returns to Take on Robin and Superboy
- 02/19/18--10:22: Death of Thor Coming From Marvel
- 02/19/18--14:20: Best Black Panther Comics: An Essential Reading Guide
- 02/19/18--16:16: Deadpool 2 Make-A-Wish Photos Shared by Ryan Reynolds
- 02/19/18--20:42: Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Concerts Captured in New Book
- 02/20/18--11:47: Den of Geek Book Club Pick: All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
- 02/20/18--19:07: Exclusive First Look: Breach by W.L. Goodwater
- 02/20/18--20:43: All Our Wrong Todays Review
The legendary comics writer looks back at his long history with the X-Men and the future of the franchise.
Out this week on VOD is an expanded version of Chris Claremont’s X-Men, a documentary by Patrick Meaney that was originally produced in 2013 and has now returned with more than 40 minutes of new footage, including interviews with Claremont himself, as well as other Marvel alumni like former editor-in-chief Jim Shooter, editors Ann Nocenti and Louise Simonson, artists Marc Silvestri and Art Adams, fellow creators Len Wein and Rob Liefeld, and more.
The film delves into the story of how Claremont broke into comics and got the task at Marvel of reviving a title, X-Men, that had been left nearly for dead and on the verge of cancellation. He not only resurrected the book but made comics history with it, writing it for 16 years (1975-1991) and penning such classic stories as “Days of Future Past” and “The Dark Phoenix Saga.” He also created or co-created many new mutants during his run, including strong female characters like Rogue, Kitty Pryde, Emma Frost, Mystique and Jubilee, plus male personnel such as Gambit, Legion, Pyro, Sabretooth and more.
Den of Geek managed to chat with Claremont via phone recently to discuss the documentary, and while there’s no way to cram this writer’s storied career and accomplishments into 10 minutes, we did our best, touching on his history with the X-Men, his favorite films based on his work and what he thinks the future holds for the franchise.
Den of Geek: This documentary is called Chris Claremont's X-Men. It's not called The Chris Claremont Story or Chris Claremont Unveiled or something like that. Were you more interested in exploring your work as a subject rather than just a telling of your life story?
Chris Claremont: Oh, the most egocentric response is my life story's not even...no one would have done that, I hope. The X-Men is a significant chapter. So, if people want to look at it, mazel tov.
How has the meaning of the X-Men changed for you over the course of 40 years? Or has it?
I suppose it comes down to what one means by meaning. There's the meaning that, it was a tremendous and in some way a very long living for a good long time, and hopefully again. They were cool characters. It was an unparalleled opportunity to work with some of the finest artistic talents in the comic book industry of those days and, in my opinion, of any day. So the pluses are ridiculous and undeniable.
Has the industry changed in such a way that it's more difficult for somebody to stay like for 16 years or 17 years on a book like the way that you did?
The problem is not staying on for 16 or 17 years -- I mean, theoretically anybody could do that. But the thing that made X-Men unique in its day was that the first iteration of the series that Stan and Jack created in 1962 had run its course. It wasn't a success. So when Dave Cockrum and Len Wein worked together to build the new X-Men, we were essentially starting with a clean slate.
Aside from Charles Xavier being the mentor and Scott Summers showing up to run the shop, everything was brand new. And the way the industry is structured now, the way that Marvel or DC or Image are structured now, that's unlikely to happen again. You don't have that mainstream series that you can recreate in public before everyone's eyes and come up with something completely new and different. So I don't think that opportunity will come again. I just happened to have the ridiculous good fortune of being in the precisely great place at the precisely great time, and I got to run with it.
As the franchise expanded onto the screen, which of the films or animated series do you think maybe came closest to the vision you had of the characters and stories?
So far, I would say Days of Future Past is certainly the film I’ve enjoyed the most out of all of them so far. Legion (the TV series) is right up there with it. I can't say anything about the ones that haven't come out yet. There's some good films, there's some films that could be improved. So we keep trying until we get it right. That's the nature of storytelling, whether it's on paper or on film. On the other hand I've seen my characters portrayed by some of the finest actors in modern cinema, so I'm not going to argue with that.
It's generally agreed that the first X-Men movie was the one that kind of heralded the new era for these films.
Isn't it amazing how the X-Men always managed to be ahead of everybody's curve no matter how they look at it? (laughs)
Are you glad to see that the Dark Phoenix story is getting a second chance on the screen?
Have you gotten a chance to see any of it or get a handle on how it's being done?
I know Simon Kinberg is working hard on it. I've seen the stills that been publicly released and they look really cool. I'm intrigued. But like everyone else I'll find out what's happening when it's out in November.
What are your thoughts on the merger of Disney and Fox and the X-Men universe potentially being folded into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and how do you think that'll affect them going forward?
I think it would be cool if Hugh Jackman showed up in Avengers: Infinity War, even if just for a tryout. Technically speaking it's 20 years before Logan, so he's not old yet, no matter how Hugh feels himself. I guess I think it's cool. I mean, if for nothing else than the sheer economic rationale that once the X-Men are back in the Marvel pantheon, top bottom and sideways, ideally Marvel and Disney will promote and merchandise it. And since I've created more characters in the X-Men franchise and the Fantastic Four franchise than I care to think of or Marvel cares to count, that is not an inconsiderable amount of possibilities. So fingers crossed. We'll see. But it's like anything else, there are many pitfalls between point A and point Z. So hope for the best and expect the worst.
When you look back, are there any stories that you feel were sort of left unfinished or that you would go back and change if you had a chance?
I don't know about change. I think there are always unfinished stories. The problem for me is my version of X-Men is very specific and very focused and, at this point, totally divergent from the vision of the characters and the concept that is currently in print. But that's the difference between me as the writer and the current editors and writers that are responsible for the titles. It would be the same, I would suspect, if Len were coming back to write X-Men himself, or Stan, or Roy Thomas. Everybody has their own unique version of who the characters are and where they're going and how they're getting there and what should happen along the way. Every new writer has an equally different vision.
What are you currently working on yourself?
Stories that are unique and fun, I hope. I never talk about work in progress because once I talk about it I don't do it anymore. When it's done and sold, then I start shouting from the rooftops but until then, it's bad luck.
Chris Claremont’s X-Men is out now on VOD.
The Justice League America/Doom Patrol crossover is everything comics needs right now.
We need to talk about “Milk Wars.” The Young Animal/DC Prime crossover kicked off last month with a joint Justice League America/Doom Patrol issue. It was bizarre, complicated, and staggeringly beautiful all at the same time. It was everything I want out of a superhero book.
From the second panel, Justice League America/Doom Patrol was dripping with personality. We’ve known since the preview art hit that this would be an odd comic, with Leave It To Beaver-esque reimaginings of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman headlining the crossover. And just from the participants it was a safe bet that this was a book that would revel in its comic form - ever since Grant Morrison irrevocably changed the team, only one story has been able to make the Doom Patrol anything but meta commentary (later seasons of the Teen Titans cartoon, but we’ll talk about that when the Blu-ray hits). But it’s the panel layout of the first page that’s where we get our first sense of what’s really coming.
At first glance, the first page is fairly straightforward. It’s an office setting, with a few office drones getting set up for a presentation. But the panel layout is less than straightforward, and the person making the presentation is drawn with more character than you’d expect from someone in that position in another book. He’s tiny, but weirdly muscular with a pushbroom Flanders-ey mustache. The hourglass layout focuses the reader on the moment we’re introduced to Retconn, the company that specializes in rewriting reality.
This is a very technically adept book. What unfolds from the first page is a story that mashes together two already large casts with two wildly distinct tones into one coherent opening chapter. Character introductions are smoothly integrated into the storytelling, and the Retconn(™)ed Justice Leaguers are recognizable even in their altered forms. Every character on both teams gets a distinct voice and their own moment. Even 1950s Lobo is somehow a delight to read.
This is a hell of a feat. Steve Orlando and Aco have been hot on their respective books (Justice League America for Orlando, and the sadly ignored but stunning Nick Fury for Aco). The transition that the pair made to this book is impressive: their previous work together was basically a fight comic (Midnighterand Midnighter and Apollowhich - surprise - we loved). A shockingly emotional fight comic, to be sure, but it was still basically a book where a thousand tiny panels told you the story of a guy who punched out his own ears so he couldn’t hear his opponent say her killing word. Justice League America/Doom Patrol is a world away from that: the fights are almost all abstractions, conceptual battles that benefit from psychedelic layouts that fold over four pages. Orlando certainly benefits from working with regular Doom Patrol scribe Gerard Way here. While it’s not clear who wrote what, it’s not tough to assume the pair collaborated on their respective teams, but the dance of balancing each contribution is complicated. These guys nail it with glee.
And “gleeful” is probably the only word that can describe how this book wallows in the nerdier corners of the DC encyclopedia of characters. Being a Doom Patrol book, there is the requisite fourth wall breaking, with references to the founder of DC comics and Gerard Way himself. But Crazy Jane also awakens the League by reminding them of old issues they appeared in, with covers lifted from old issues of Firestorm, Action Comics, The Ray, and Omega Men. The villainous company, Retconn, bears a striking resemblance to the evil corporation introduced in Grant Morrison’s Action Comics that created a corporate amalgamation of Superman. And not for nothing, they’re being hired by Manga Khan, one of the best villains from the Bwa-ha-ha Justice League era.
“Milk Wars” started with a bang. It’s got a strong, clear voice; an interesting spin on classic characters; and beautiful art. It could only exist as a comic - the hurdles it would have to leap to be translated into other media aren’t insurmountable, but they would make the other media project something distinct from this, and that’s one of the reasons why it’s such a good example of what we need more of from comics today.
With news of multiple Joker movies on the horizon, we celebrate the craziest plans of the Clown Prince of Crime.
He is the greatest villain of them all. He is the evil that tests Batman and makes the hero better. He is an uncontrollable force of chaos, more akin to a hurricane than a criminal, who strikes without warning. He believes that life is a chaotic farce and everything exists as part of a twisted game between him and Batman. He is the star of comics, television, cartoons, and film. He is the Joker, one of the most enduring symbols of evil in the last century.
The Joker is no match for Batman physically, so when he puts one over on the Dark Knight, when he “gets” him, it has to be a masterpiece of chaos and violence. These are just some of the greatest moments when the Joker put one over on his eternal adversary.
10. Death of the Family: The Dinner Scene (2012-2013)
Writer: Scott Snyder Artist: Greg Capullo
Almost Got Him moment: Made Batman believe he skinned his children. And he coulda done it too…
Writer Scott Snyder wrote a Joker for a modern age. He embraced what went on before but really upped the ante in terms of intensity. Snyder’s Joker wore his own severed face as a mask and threatened the sanctity of such long standing but icons like Alfred and James Gordon. It all culminated in a dinner scene at the Batcave as a brainwashed Alfred seemingly serves each member of the Bat family, Batgirl, Nightwing, Red Robin, Red Hood, and Damien Wayne their own severed faces.
The pages read like a fevered nightmare as the Robins and Batgirl all sit starring at their own amputated visages. Staying true to his character, the whole thing was a joke, and the Bat family were unharmed, but their confidence in their mentor and their own safety was shaken forever because of the Joker’s actions.
9. Mad Love (Batman: The Animated Series) 1999: The Slap
Story: Bruce Timm & Paul Dini
Almost Got Him moment: Harley beat Batman, and Joker created Harley. Although Mr. J didn’t quite see it that way.
The final episode of the New Batman Adventures is also its high point. The story deals with the origin of Joker’s moll, Harley Quinn, but it also serves as a reminder of just how all-encompassing the Joker’s twisted ability to manipulate anyone is. It was the first time fans learned that Harley Quinn used to be the Joker’s psychologist, and through sheer charismatic manipulation, he was able to mold her into his own twisted image. He made an educated woman, an expert of the inner workings of the psyche; believe that the world is a meaningless joke. Through the Joker, Harley had become a competent criminal, one who did what even he could not, successfully capture the Batman.
In a moment that transcended traditional animation, the Joker shows just how depraved and selfish a soul he truly is by slapping Harley for making him feel inadequate because she defeated Batman. The whole episode dealt with a broken woman’s devotion to the Joker, and her entire world came crashing down in one moment of shockingly realistic domestic violence.
8. Infinite Crisis “You Didn’t Let the Joker Play” (2006)
Writer: Geoff Johns Artists: Phil Jimenez, Jerry Ordway, George Pérez, and Ivan Reis
Almost Got Him Moment: Joker saves the multiverse, in a way that the Justice League couldn’t. Take that, bats!
Infinite Crisis was a huge, continuity laden epic all boiled down into the essence of a Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman story. It was one of the biggest stories DC had ever attempted and it did shake the very foundation of the DC Universe, but with all the cosmic shenanigans, the story’s finale centered on one sick man, with no powers, forcing his will into the proceedings.
Alexander Luthor, the son of Lex Luthor of Earth 3, is the antagonist and the catalyst of the events of Infinite Crisis. His machinations are godlike as he manipulates multiverses like gears of a clock. Alex Luthor recruited some of Earth’s most dangerous villains to fight his battles against the heroes of the multiverse. Luthor dismissed the Joker as an unpowered wild card, a man who would be difficult to manipulate and useless in a fight against Supermen and Green Lanterns.
The Joker did not appear in any part of the epic, but is revealed by the prime reality’s Lex Luthor at the story’s climax. Joker sprays Alex with his signature acid flower and shoots him in the head, with a smirking Lex, who did not wish to share the villainous spotlight with the younger Luthor, declaring that Alex’s one mistake was he “didn’t let the Joker play.” This moment reveals that it could be a god, monster, or cosmic manipulator, whatever the case; the Joker is still more dangerous with a gag flower and a bullet. Sometimes the universe needs a master of chaos to do the things heroes can’t.
7. Batman: 1966 TV Series: Cesar’s ‘Stache
Almost Got Him Moment: Every death trap, every gag, every cliffhanger. Shoulda taken those utility belts, Cesar.
Sure, the camp vibe from the '60s Batmanseries set comics back a few decades. Even when Watchmenwas being published, the public perception of super-heroes was still “BIFF POW WHAM!” Yet, for many young children of the '70s and '80s, the series was a gateway drug into the world of comics. While Romero camped up some truly ridiculous plots, there was something about his demeanor as the Joker that still strikes a chilling chord. That special way he had of frowning while wearing a painted on smirk, and the white face caked on over Romero’s signature ‘stache gave his Joker a sinister heir that transcended the shows limitations.
For many generations Romero’s performance defined the Clown Prince of Crime. Every time Romero appeared, he and his ‘stache would come within inches of taking out Batman and Robin turning his every appearance into an “almost got him.”
6. Batman #1: The First Appearance (1940)
Almost Got Him Moment: It all began here. Joker committed murder right under Batman’s nose until Batman figured out the eternal game.
By Jerry Robinson, Bob Kane, and Bill Finger
Many times, especially in the Golden Age, a character’s first appearance only gives a readers a fraction of an indication of what the character would become. The Joker, being the Joker, defies expectations, and everything a fan needs to know about the character can be found in that first appearance in Batman #1. His use of poison gas, his terrifying penchant for popping up out of nowhere, his need to intellectually challenge Batman, all add up to relatively the same character that exists today.
Based on actor Conrad Veidt in the silent film The Man Who Laughs, the Joker was a rarity for his day, as most villains were used to challenge the hero for one story and then fade away. Not the Joker, who endured, and despite some shifts away from the characters vile roots, he still exists almost identical to his 1940 appearance. This first story is so enduring that Chris Nolan adopted many elements for his first act in The Dark Knight including the unforgettable poison booze glass murder of Commissioner Loeb.
Even in his first appearance, committing crimes right under the Dark Knight’s nose, was a great moment of mastery over Batman.
5. Batman: No Man’s Land: The Murder of Sarah Essen Gordon (1999)
Almost Got Him Moment: In Gotham’s darkest hour, Joker managed to destroy the life of Batman’s best friend.
While Gotham was crippled and cut off from the rest of America’s infrastructure by a massive earthquake, the Joker strikes, kidnapping all the babies of Gotham. The Joker is confronted by James Gordon’s wife, Sarah Essen, and tosses her a helpless infant. When she catches the child, the Joker shoots her between the eyes.
Many people treat the Joker as sort of an anti-hero, the freedom his manic behavior allows him is attractive to many fans, but this moment shows that the Joker is a brutal thug looking to take advantage of a tragedy to suit his own twisted machinations. The Joker took a delight in Gordon’s torment, promising even more pain in the future. The shooting of Sarah Essen, an honest cop and loving wife, stands as a constant reminder of the Joker’s cruelty. Batman’s inability to save his friend’s wife stands as one of Joker’s greatest victories.
4. Batman (1989) “Bob…Gun.”
Almost Got Him Moment: Batman robbed the Joker of his fun, but despite Batman’s careful planning, someone still died.
There are many fantastic moments created by Jack Nicholson in Tim Burton’s Batman. From his fantastic origin sequence in Axis Chemicals, to the murder of his boss, Carl Grissom (played by the great Jack Palance), to his climactic church battle with Batman, but his greatest moment, like all great Joker moments, was random and chaotic.
At the beginning of the film’s third act, the Joker tries to poison Gotham with gas filled balloons, when Batman swoops down in the Batwing and drags the balloons away, the Joker is incredulous. Like a kid who had his favorite toy snatched by a playground bully, the Joker pouts and asks his most loyal henchmen Bob the Goon, for a gun. Bob, ever loyal to his boss, complies and the Joker, without changing expression, shoots Bob in the gut. Batman ruined the Joker’s fun, and someone had to die, even if it was someone loyal and useful to the Joker. Even though Batman seemingly saved Gotham, someone still died, making Batman’s victory incomplete.
3. A Death in the Family (1989) “The Crowbar”
Almost Got Him Moment: He killed Robin. Duh.
By Jim Starlin, Jim Aparo, and Mike Decarlo
Yes, it was gimmicky to have fans call a 900 number and decide whether Jason Todd’s version of Robin would live or die. Yes, it robbed the story of any organic creatively, but even the most jaded reader has to admit the death itself remains shocking to this day.
Over the years, the Joker has used many gimmicked gags and traps to take down Batman and his family, but when it came to the moment where the Joker finally was able to kill a Bat Hero, he was just a thug wielding a blunt instrument. It was another reminder of just how dangerous and brutal the sometimes likable clown can be.
Out of Todd’s death, DC was able to ignite literally hundreds of story ideas from the arrival of Tim Drake, to Todd’s resurrection as the Red Hood. From one violent act with a crowbar, the Joker created a legend.
2. The Dark Knight (2008) “The Interrogation Scene”
Almost Got Him Moment: He did what no else could do, made Batman powerless.
One can fill a list of great Joker moments on Heath Ledger’s performance alone, but one stands out above the others. Yes, even above the pencil trick. After the Joker is captured, Batman and Gotham’s Finest believe that the ordeal is finally over, until the Joker turns his trump card, revealing that he kidnapped, not only Gotham’s beloved D.A. Harvey Dent, but Batman’s true love, Rachael Dawes, as well. There is one thing all the crooks and villains had in common in the Nolan Universe; they feared Batman.
Not the Joker.
At this moment in the interrogation room, fans and Batman realized that Batman had no power over the Joker. That the Joker did not care about pain, he couldn’t be intimidated, bribed, or threatened. The more violent Batman became, the funnier the Joker found the situation. This was a new type of villain, one who could not be controlled, a swarm of hungry locusts in a man’s form gleefully destroying everything in his path.
As Batman races to save Rachel and Harvey, with just a few words (and a very well hidden cell phone bomb) the Joker is able to escape police custody. As Batman pounds on the Joker, it becomes clear just what an uncontrollable force the Joker is.
As Rachel burns, the Joker wins.
1. Dark Knight Returns (1986)”The End”
Almost Got Him Moment: In his final moment, the Joker made Batman’s beloved Gotham see their hero as a murderer.
By Frank Miller and Klaus Janson
Nothing defines the relationship between Batman and the Joker, like the proposed final conflict. When Batman returns to Gotham after years of reclusive exile, the Joker awakens from a coma to challenge the Dark Knight. Miller postulates, that without Batman, the Joker would cease to be, only returning when his other half was active. It was their final battle, and a battle in which Joker won. For decades, Batman refused to kill the Joker, but as the Joker snaps his own neck while laughing hysterically, it makes the world believe that one of Earth’s greatest heroes has finally turned murderer.
By destroying Batman as a symbol for justice and turning him into a symbol for selfish vengeance, the Joker turns the public, the government, and even Superman against Batman in the process. The Joker had won his greatest victory.
Read and download the full Den of Geek Special Edition magazine here!
Black Panther director Ryan Coogler originally envisioned T’Challa going toe-to-toe with Spider-Man foe, Kraven.
Black Panther is being lauded with strong reviews, which includes our own (as of this writing, the movie sits at 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, for what that’s worth to you), and the veneer from being a groundbreaking offering centered on a black superhero doesn’t hurt, either. However, while the Marvel movie will see Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa/Black Panther tangle with a duo of villains in Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger and Andy Serkis’ Ulysses Klaue, director Ryan Coogler reveals that he originally intended to nab an antagonist from the classic rogues gallery of Spider-Man: Kraven the Hunter!
During the initial conception for the Black Panther story, Coogler, who co-wrote the script with Joe Robert Cole, found himself in a situation akin to a kid in a candy store with all the Marvel intellectual property choices for the film’s villain slot. While the aforementioned Klaue (known as sound-powered supervillain Klaw in Marvel Comics lore,) was the obvious choice, since he famously exploited the hero’s home country, Wakanda, by pilfering its nigh-indestructible metallic resource of vibranium, Coogler saw better dramatic prospects with Spider-Man’s safari-obsessed foe, Kraven the Hunter.
“I’ve always loved Kraven the Hunter in almost every iteration," Coogler explains to Yahoo UK. "So there was a moment – ‘Can I grab Kraven?’ – and they were ‘Nah, you don’t have Kraven.’ He was one where I thought ‘Oh, man.’ But I don’t even know if he would have worked in the movie we ended up with, this was the early days.”
It was a reasonable attempt, since Kraven, who debuted in The Amazing Spider-Man #15 back in 1964, has always been an A-list antagonist to the Wall-Crawler, but has yet to manifest in live-action form in any of Spidey's six movies. Moreover, the addition of Kraven (a.k.a. Sergei Kravinoff,) would have been thematically appropriate, since the character – a Russian big game hunter obsessed with making a trophy of Spider-Man – has, indeed, tangled with Black Panther in the pages of the comics and would be well-suited for action in the film’s setting of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. Plus, his usage in Black Panther wouldn’t necessarily take him off the table for a future installment of the Spider-Man movies, now-headlined by Tom Holland.
“Being a Marvel fan, you want to grab all the characters," Coogler said. "You realize there’s contractual things. You don’t have that character. There was a Christopher Priest run that was pretty heavy, there’s a big scene where Panther’s fighting Kraven.”
While this was presumably early on in the Black Panther pre-production stage, and might even predate the public announcement of Marvel Studios’ deal with Sony Pictures, which made 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming a reality, it’s possible that long-term plans for Kraven have been stowed away secretly, which could easily manifest in the 2019-scheduled Homecoming sequel, whose details have yet to be revealed.
Thus, while Black Panther could have done worse than to have Kraven as its movie villain, the character’s intrinsic connection to Spider-Man – which continues to go unrealized in live-action form – were probably too strong to spend as a somewhat unconventional foe for T’Challa’s origin-setting solo debut. Likewise, Kraven, who’s also a founding member of the Spidey foe collective, The Sinister Six (which Sony has long-eyed for a spinoff film), is also the center of one of Spider-Man’s darkest and most tragic storylines, in 1987's "Kraven's Last Hunt" run, which saw the foe commit suicide after he was satisfied that he fulfilled his purpose in finally defeating his web-spinning foe (of course, in true comic book fashion, he was later resurrected.). Indeed, a Spider-Man villain that profound deserves to debut in a proper Spider-Man movie.
Black Panther opens on February 16.
Geoff Johns is penning the script for the first live action incarnation of Doom Patrol for the Titans TV series.
It probably shouldn't be surprising, what with Gar "Beast Boy" Logan's inclusion in the main cast, but Geoff Johns dropped some news on about an upcoming episode of Titans.
The fifth episode of the show, set to air on a still-unspecified DC TV streaming service, is titled "The Doom Patrol," according to the snapshot of the script Johns posted.
— Geoff Johns (@geoffjohns) February 9, 2018
The Doom Patrol was created by Arnold Drake, Bob Haney and Bruno Premiani in 1963. Dubbed "The World's Strangest Heroes," the original team was composed of Robotman, Elasti-Girl, Negative Man and The Chief. Beast Boy, created to join the Doom Patrol in 1965, eventually migrated to the Titans and was part of the iconic Wolfman/Perez lineup.
This would not be the first time the Titans and the Doom Patrol cross over on television. The mid-aughts Teen Titans cartoon kicked off its fifth season by looking at Gar's past with the team and flashed back to their early battles with the Brotherhood of Evil while setting up the Brotherhood as the Titans main villain for that season.
All of this happened before the Doom Patrol became the edgy, meta team that they became in the early 1990s. The current team is comprised of Robotman; Danny the sentient, gender nonconforming street; Crazy Jane, a woman with multiple personalities that each have their own distinct power; Casey Brinke, Danny's daughter who is a comic book character; and Flex Mentallo, a man who willed himself to super-strength. The Brotherhood of Evil has been the one, delightful constant in the Doom Patrol's history: even on TV, the militant talking gorilla Monseiur Mallah and the brain in a robotic jar The Brain were in love.
For more on Titans, the Doom Patrol, or other beautiful romances in comic villainy, stick with Den of Geek!
Titan Books and Twentieth Century Fox just announced the upcoming release of three Firefly tie-in novels.
It's been 15 years since Firefly was untimely canceled by Fox after less than one season, and 13 since we checked back in with Mal and the rest of the crew in Serenity, the feature film based on the series. Now, via Entertainment Weekly, we'll finally find out what happened to this crew after they suffered the heartbreaking loss of two of their number and exposed one of the Alliance's darkest secrets.
Titan Books and Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Projects just announced the release of a series of original fiction tied to the world of Firefly. The books will be offical canon (whatever that may mean to you), with series creator Joss Whedon serving as a consulting editor.
The first book is called Big Damn Hero. It will be written by Nancy Holder, who has previously written tie-in books for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and will be released in October 2018. Here's the synopsis: "Captain Malcolm Reynolds finds himself in a dangerous situation after being kidnapped by a bunch of embittered veteran Browncoats."
Following that, we'll get James Lovegrove's Firefly: The Magnificent Nine, which will be released in March 2019 and will focus on Jayne, who "receives a distress call from his ex Temperance McCloud that leads the Serenity crew to danger on a desert moon."
Finally, we have Firefly: Generations, set to be released in October 2019. Written by Tim Lebbon, here's the synopsis: "The discovery of the location of one of the legendary Ark ships that brought humans from Earth to the ’Verse promises staggering salvage potential, but at what cost? River Tam thinks she might know …"
These sound like potentially very cool stories in a world that many fans would still love to explore. Will Mal and Inara finally get together? How's Zoe doing? Has River learned any new tricks? So many character-driven question to explore. It would be lovely to get an on-screen continuation of this universe, but the sky's the limit when it comes to what kinds of Firefly stories can be told in book form, and that's pretty exciting.
Metal crosses over with Multiversity in this week's DC Comics epic.
I don't want to overhype anything, but this preview of Dark Knights Rising: The Wild Hunt #1 starts with the origin of Detective Chimp, stops off at 52 for a second, and ends with a pretty clear signal that this issue of the big DC event series is going to cross over with Multiversity. Thank god I keep two computers in the house, because I just chucked one across my living room.
52 is the 2006 weekly comic written by Grant Morrison, Mark Waid, Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka and Keith Giffen. It wove together multiple story strands to build a new status quo for the DC universe after Infinite Crisis. That legendary crew of writers worked in every corner of DC mythology, from weird space stuff, to a soft relaunch of Infinity, Inc, to a Watchmen-esque gathering of all the super-geniuses in the DCU (and Egg Fu) on an island where they build weapons for Intergang.
Multiversity is Morrison's exploration of the newly returned DC multiverse using heroes from everywhere but Earth Prime. We've talked about it. A lot. It's real good.
Dark Knights: Metal is the current event series by the long-time Batman creative duo of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. It's the comics reading equivalent of somebody juicing Capullo, then huffing the fumes when they try and boil down the juice. It's about the demon god of Gotham, Barbatos, trying to use Hawkman and his Nth Metal to open a portal to the positive multiverse to let the dark multiverse take over.
Here's what DC has to say about this issue:
DARK KNIGHTS RISING: THE WILD HUNT #1Written by SCOTT SNYDER, JAMES TYNION IV and JOSHUA WILLIAMSONArt by DOUG MAHNKE, IVAN REIS and othersCover by DOUG MAHNKEContinued from the pages of the bestselling DARK NIGHTS: METAL! The Dark Knights ride through the farthest reaches of the Multiverse to track down the unlikeliest of teams: The Flash, Cyborg, Raven and Detective Chimp. The mission: keep these heroes from completing their desperate quest to save all of existence! Plus, Challengers’ Mountain crackles with dark energy that will release an army of the world’s worst nightmares into the streets of Gotham City!This one-shot also answers the question: Where are the Metal Men? And who is the latest addition to the team?
It's wild. Check it out.
The surrealist story is from David Arnold, the author of Kids of Appetite and Mosquitoland.
Have you heard of The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik? Probably not. The young adult novel by David Arnold has yet to hit the shelves... but that doesn't mean it doesn't already have a film deal. (Such is the nature of Hollywood and the publishing industry, these days.)
According to Variety, Paramount has acquired the rights and is beginning to develop the teen-geared novel. The studio has begun seeking writers to adapt the book from the Kids of Appetite and Mosquitoland author into a script. Here's the official description of the surrealist story:
This is Noah Oakman → sixteen, Bowie believer, concise historian, disillusioned swimmer, son, brother, friend. Then Noah → gets hypnotized. Now Noah → sees changes: his mother has a scar on her face that wasn’t there before; his old dog, who once walked with a limp, is suddenly lithe; his best friend, a lifelong DC Comics disciple, now rotates in the Marvel universe. Subtle behaviors, bits of history, plans for the future—everything in Noah’s world has been rewritten. Everything except his Strange Fascinations . . .
A stunning surrealist portrait, The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik is a story about all the ways we hurt our friends without knowing it, and all the ways they stick around to save us.
The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik will be published by Viking in May, and is now available for pre-order. More news on the movie development as we hear it.
The musical adaptation of the Frances Hodgson Burnett classic is coming back to Broadway.
A musical based on the beloved children's story The Secret Garden is coming to Broadway. According to EW, the production will be directed and choreographed by Warren Carlyle, who has previously directed the Broadway revival of Finian's Rainbow in 2009.
The musical is based on the book of the same name by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Published in 1911, is about a spoiled, yet neglected orphan named Mary Lennox who is sent to live with her relatives in an unfamiliar, emotionally-repressed house in Yorkshire. Once there, she finds a forgotten garden that she works to bring back to life, reviving the warmth and love of her relatives in the process. It has seen many adaptations, with a popular film version released in 1993, on the heels of the Broadway musical's run. More recently, it was adapted into a YouTube web series called The Misselthwaite Archives.
This will be the first ever revival of The Secret Garden, which first opened on Broadway in 1991. It ran until 1993, after running for more than 700 performances and winning Tonys for best book of a musical, featured actress in a musical (Daisy Egan), and scenic design of a musical. The book and lyrics are by Marsha Norman (The Red Shoes, Bridges of Madison County), with music by Lucy Simon (Doctor Zhivago).
The Secret Garden will be back on Broadway next season. More news on the premiere date, theater location, and casting as we hear it.
Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba's The Umbrella Academy is coming to Netflix. Here's everything we know about the series...
Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba's The Umbrella Academy is coming to Netflix as a live action series. The comic book series, which debuted in 2007, was first optioned as a movie before Dark Horse signed a deal with Universal Cable Productions to adapt the comic as a TV series.
The live action series follows the estranged members of a dysfunctional family of superheroes -- The Monocle, Spaceboy, The Kraken, The Rumor, The Séance, Number Five, The Horror, and the seemingly powerless Vanya -- as they work together to solve their father’s mysterious death while coming apart at the seams due to their divergent personalities and abilities.
Way began writing The Umbrella Academy just a year after the release of My Chemical Romance's magnum opus, The Black Parade. The series is 15 issues of Eisner Award-winning goodness that has continued to inform Way's career as a comic book writer, especially with his current run on Doom Patrol and his Young Animal line at DC. Artist Gabriel Ba has also done some of his best work on the series. (If you want something really great by Ba, check out Daytripper, which he created with his twin brother, artist Fabio Moon.)
The Umbrella Academy has been on a bit of a hiatus since 2009. Only two volumes, The Apocalypse Suite and Dallas, have been released thus far, although Way and Ba plan at least two more volumes. The third volume is called Hotel Oblivion, and it's been in the works since at least 2013 when Way tweeted out an update with some sketches of new characters. Way and Ba had agreed to begin work on Hotel Oblivion in 2014, but a lot's happened since then. Besides his music projects, Way has his own line of comics and two comic book series to write.
While it's not likely the Umbrella Academy will return on the page any time soon, fans will at least gave the show to look forward to.
Here's everything else we know:
The Umbrella Academy News
Mary J. Blige has joined the cast of The Umbrella Academy, Variety reports. She will play the role of Cha-Cha, the insane time-traveling assassin first introduced in the second arc of the comic, "Dallas," which reimagines the Kennedy assassination. Cha-Cha, along with her partner Hazel, believes in using the most violent method possible to dispatch her prey.
The Umbrella Academy Release Date
Netflix has given the series a 10-episode order that will arrive sometime in 2018.
The Umbrella Academy Cast
Netflix has revealed the core cast of the show. Here are the actors who will portray the members of the Umbrella Academy:
Ellen Page (X-Men: Days of Future Past) will star as Vanya, who is estranged from the rest of the family because of her lack of powers. Vanya is a very important character in the first arc of the comics, as she goes through a bit of self-discovery that puts her at odds with the superheroes she once called a family.
Tom Hopper (Game of Thrones) plays Luther, aka Spaceboy. He has super-strength, and after a terrible accident during an expedition to Mars, his head had to be transplanted onto the body of a gorilla. Ehem...
Emmy Raver-Lampman (Hamilton) will play Allison, aka The Rumor, who can alter reality by lying.
David Castaneda (El Chicano) is Diego, codenamed The Kraken. He is sort of a fuse between Aquaman and Batman. He can hold his breath indefinitely, which gives him an advantage when in water, and is an expert knife thrower.
Robert Sheehan (Misfits) is perfectly cast as Klaus aka The Seance, the most morbid character of the group. His powers, which manifest only when he's barefoot, include levitation, telekinesis, and the ability to contant the dead. In the comics, Klaus is killed at one point but rejected from both Heaven and Hell.
Aidan Gallagher (Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn) is Number Five, simply codenamed The Boy. He can effortlessly travel in time and does not age due to a temporal condition.
The Umbrella Academy Poster
Here's the first promo poster for The Umbrella Academy:
The Umbrella Academy Details
The Umbrella Academy will be produced by Universal Cable Productions. Steve Blackman (Fargo, Altered Carbon) will serve as executive producer and showrunner, with additional executive producers Bluegrass Television and Mike Richardson and Keith Goldberg from Dark Horse Entertainment. Gerard Way will serve as co-executive producer. The pilot script was adapted from the comic book series by Jeremy Slater (The Exorcist).
In 2016, Slater talked to Collider about his script:
I definitely wrote the pilot for The Umbrella Academy. I think it’s really exciting. I think it’s really surprising and funny. I took the job because I’m such an immense fan of what Gerard [Way] and Gabriel [Ba, the artist] did with that book. It’s one of those things where I would rather be the guy to screw it up than sit back and let someone else come in and do the bad adaptation. So, I was really adamant about taking the job, but the only way I was going to do it was if I could make it weird and make it true to the spirit of the book. There’s a lot of weird shit in The Umbrella Academy, and it would be very easy to sand down some of those weird edges and make it more familiar to American audiences. I’m fighting very hard to not let that happen. We’re shopping around the pilot, at the moment. We’re trying to find the right home for it and trying to find someone as excited as we are.
Rawson Marshal Thurber (Dodgeball) was originally tied to the project when it was still being considered for the big screen. He told CBR in 2016 that the series would be too difficult to adapt as a film, citing the weirdness of the book as something that could be lost in translation at a big studio.
Slater echoed Thurber's thoughts in his interview with Collider:
I think the relationships and the dynamics are so rich in that book that, if you tried to distill it down to 90 minutes, everyone gets reduced to a cartoon and a caricature. It really is The Royal Tenenbaums with superpowers. In order to do justice to that premise, you need time to unpack those characters, and dig into what makes them tick and the different relationships that they have with each other. There is so much fertile material there to tell really interesting, really funny, really unique stories that to compress it all into an hour and a half and throw in a bunch of giant action sequences, you’re going to wind up with some total mish-mash. It’s going to be Mystery Men. It’s going to be yet another wacky comedic superhero movie that no one really wants to see. It has its own unique DNA, and I think people should respect that DNA, or they should not do the project.
With Child of a Mad God, R.A. Salvatore has struck the perfect balance between something old and something new.
R.A. Salvatore has been writing fantasy for three decades and, in that time, has certainly made his mark on the genre. When anyone has been at their job that long, there is an understandable tendency to settle, to repeat, to fall back on familiar patterns, but Salvatore's latest — Child of a Mad God— is proof that he is still willing to take chances when it comes to his fantasy work.
Child of a Mad God has many of the elements readers have come to expect from Salvatore, detailed action scenes and fantastic world-building, but there is also a grittiness and ambition to deconstruct genre gender tropes, that is pushing the limits of what Salvatore has done before.
Child of a Mad God takes place within the brutal northern Wilderlands of Corona, a land previously explored in Salvatore's DemonWars Saga. Though reading these other Corona-set books will give you additional insight, Child of a Mad God is not a continuation of these stories. It takes place concurrently to the events of the DemonWars Saga in a completely different part of this land, and is the start to The Coven Series.
Child of a Mad God has two central protagonists: Talmadge is a young frontiersman who fled his home after a plague ravaged his community and now spends his time as a trader in the shadow of a great mountain. He flits between the seven towns that make up the region, never staying in one place for very long, desperate to avoid the kinds of connections that inform his unresolved trauma.
Aoleyn is a girl of the Usgar Tribe who, after losing her parents, must learn how to survive within a culture where rape, slavery, and other brutal, patriarchal forms of oppression are normal. The Usgar live on the aforementioned great mountain, and survive by attacking the seven towns that Talmadge frequents. The people of these towns fear the Usgar, and see them as almost god-like beings because of their magic. Aoleyn is one of the tribe's women who can wield the Song of Usgar, a form of magic.
Child of a Mad God is meant as a standalone, and it truly is. It helps that Salvatore is a skilled worldbuilder. The setting and cultures Salvatore explores in this book, the region that lives on around the great mountain Fireach Speuer, are immersive. You don't need any external context; you have all of the description you need within the pages of this book.
Aeolyn's arc is particularly strong and is obviously Salvatore's noble attempt to address and critique the sexist framework from which much of classic fantasy literature gets its structure. However, although Salvatore is using the book's patriarchal cultures to make a point, it may be too much for some readers. Salvatore may be trying to subvert some of the worst trends and tropes in fantasy literature through his exploration of the extremely misogynistic Usgar society and the journey Aoleyn goes through over the course of the book, but it makes for a difficult read if you are at all sensitive to these issues. There is a particularly horrific rape at one point that may be a dealbreaker for some readers, so be warned going in.
Salvatore is known for his detailed fight scenes, and the skill is on display in Child of a Mad God—though, this is a book that takes it time getting to its climactic third act. In the mean time, there is plenty of fantasy worldbuilding to delve into, including the fossa, a demon that hunts during the blood moon, and the magic of the gemstones, which are treated slightly differently here than in Salvatore's other Corona-set books.
For readers who are fans of gritty fantasy (a la A Song of Ice and Fire), R.A. Salvatore, or books working to recognize the misogynist subtext of some of our culture's favorite genre books, Child of a Mad God is a story well worth diving into. From his recurring Drizzt Do'Urden character to Salvatore's controversial choices in the Vector Prime book of the expanded Star Wars universe, Salvatore has made a name for himself as an author who isn't afraid to go fantastically dark and to challenge what has come before. Child of a Mad God continues that legacy.
We think we've found every DC Comics reference and DCEU easter egg in the Wonder Woman movie!
The Wonder Woman movie is now on HBO, and it expands the DCEU in new and exciting ways. It also draws on all elements of the over 75 year history of Wonder Woman to tell a fresh, exciting origin story. And oh yeah, it's packed with DC Comics references.
So, here's how this works...other than the intro (which I decided to do on its own), this isn't chronological, I'm just making connections where I can. Now, it's entirely likely there are things I missed, and that's where you come in! If you spotted any cool DC Comics references or DCEU Easter eggs that aren't in this article, drop 'em in the comments or give me a holler on Twitter. Together, we can make this the most comprehensive list of Wonder Woman coolness around!
The opening of this movie, with a shot of planet Earth and Diana talking about how much she loves our world, is reminiscent of the opening pages of DC Universe: Rebirth. That story featured a different character's monologue but it still contained a similar message. Whether this is coincidental or not (it probably is), Wonder Woman as a movie serves the same purpose as DC Universe: Rebirth did - it restores a sense of hope, optimism, and heroism to the DCEU.
She also mentions a “Great Darkness” that’s surrounding the world. Again, this reminds me of Rebirth, but it also calls to mind the villains of the upcoming Justice League movie. The Justice League will fight Steppenwolf in that film, but he’s the advance agent of Darkseid, the cosmic despot of the planet Apokolips. When Darkseid had been absent from the universe for hundreds of years and reappeared in the distant future in the pages of Legion of Super-Heroes, the story was called… ”The Great Darkness Saga.” While that story has nothing to do with Wonder Woman, it’s awesome and you should read it.
You may notice that the license plate on the Wayne Enterprises armored car starts with the letters JL. (It’s JL-828-VZM to be exact). That’s JL, as in "Justice League" and it's amusing since Bruce is basically using Wayne vehicles to carry out unofficial Justice League business by delivering this photo (first seen in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) to Diana.
One other thing we just found out (and thanks to ScreenRant for bringing it to our attention). Zack Snyder has a cameo in the movie. If you look to the far right of the World War I photo of Diana and friends, you can see a blurry, out of focus soldier in the background. That's Mr. Snyder.
Wonder Woman Movie Setting
I love the fact that they set this movie against the backdrop of World War I. For one thing, it helps give the DCEU some real flavor and takes us further back than we’ve seen screen superhero narratives ever attempt (the natural fit is usually World War II, which we saw in Captain America: The First Avenger and the first season of the 1970s Wonder Woman TV series).
Characters like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman all came of age during World War II, but setting this movie there would have drawn comparisons to Captain America: The First Avenger. World War I was, meanwhile, especially senseless with no clear “villain” and its legacy would, well, inspire a follow-up. The exceptional brutality of World War I is the perfect counterpoint to Diana’s relative innocence.
By the way, if you want an incredible history of World War I, I can't recommend Dan Carlin's Hardcore History series on it, Blueprint For Armageddon, highly enough.
Wonder Woman Movie Heroes
Wonder Woman has been around almost as long as Batman and Superman, first appearing in All-Star Comics#8 in 1940 where she was created by Dr. William Moulton Marston and Harry G. Peter. How powerful was Wonder Woman? By the 1950s, when superhero comics were in steep decline, only three DC superheroes maintained continuous publication, and one of ‘em was Diana. You can guess who the other two were.
That same story introduced Steve Trevor. Etta Candy didn’t come along until about two years later in Sensation Comics #2. Incidentally, the civilian version of Etta that we meet here is more in line with those early comics. In more recent DC history, Etta is a military woman and quite the badass.
There had been some speculation that Steve’s ragtag band of good guys would end up being the World War I equivalent of the Blackhawks, but there was nothing in the movie to indicate that. For one thing, nobody flies a plane. As far as I can tell, these were all characters invented for the movie.
But let’s talk about that origin story for a minute...
THE ORIGIN STORY
OK, Wonder Woman’s origin story is a tricky thing, because there have been a few different versions, but they all follow the broad strokes we see here in this movie. In the original comics, Diana was indeed sculpted from clay and given life by the gods. Here, it’s just a story Hippolyta tells Diana to mask the fact that she’s actually a demi-god, and the daughter of Zeus.
That Zeus wrinkle is a fairly recent addition to the lore, coming into play when DC relaunched their entire publishing line with The New 52 initiative in 2011, which reset significant elements of continuity. A lot of people don’t love this change, but I’ve always been kinda down with it. But historically, all of Diana's gifts came from an assortment of goddesses that gave her clay form life and power.
Overall, the way they streamline lots of different elements of the comic book history in this movie is really great and reminds me of the best big screen superhero origins like Superman: The Movie, Batman Begins, or even Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man.
- The expositional animation that explains why there aren’t any gods hanging around the DCEU these days is really clever and feels like a callback to the equally visually impressive animation that told Krypton’s history in Man of Steel.
- The “there are no children on Paradise Island” thing is basically as old as Wonder Woman herself, but I just want to mention that later in the movie when Diana sees a baby in London? I react the same way, except with doggies. I’m going to get my typing fingers bitten off petting strange dogs one day.
- The idea of Antiope as Hippolyta’s sister came from the character’s second DC Comics incarnation, which happens to be from the comics that inspired this movie the most: George Perez’s time as writer/artist in the ‘80s. For real, if you seek out one volume of Wonder Woman comics because of this movie, make it this one.
As for Antiope's on-screen death, the only time I know of her dying in the comics was in the pages of Crisis on Infinite Earths, which had nothing to do with Germans or the pursuit of Steve Trevor.
- While we're on the subject of Amazons...I didn't realize that Ann Wolfe was credited as Artemis.
I AM ARTEMIS, MY HEART, MY, SPIRIT, MY SOUL, DON'T MAKE ME KICK YOUR ASS!!
ANN WOLFE as Artemis pic.twitter.com/kCsCeJbfkD
— Ann Wolfe (@AnnWolfeBoxing) June 2, 2017
Not be confused with the Greek goddess, the Amazon version of Artemis. At one point in the comics, she briefly replaced Diana as Wonder Woman.
- When Diana is on her quest to sneak the God Killer sword out, and she starts climbing up the tower wall, I was reminded of John Badham’s underrated Dracula movie from 1979, which featured a spooky as hell scene of Frank Langella as the Count scurrying along a wall at night. A more likely influence however is old adventure epics like The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) where Errol Flynn does much the same thing to steal a kiss with Maid Marian.
Speaking of that God Killer sword, that is indeed something from DC Comics, but it isn’t a weapon of Wonder Woman. Instead, that boon was granted to Slade “Deathstroke” Wilson by Hephaestus because he wanted Slade to kill the titan, Lapetus. In the comics, the Godkiller looks a lot more like the swords that Ares is wielding during the final battle.
Wonder Woman Movie Villains
Ares has been a factor in Wonder Woman’s life since some of her earliest appearances, notably Wonder Woman #1 in 1942. But the version we see in this movie, like so much else in the film, owes the most to Diana’s 1987 reinvention at the hands of the brilliant George Perez.
In that initial story arc (available here), which is set in modern times, we do see Ares possessing military figures and forcing them to do his bidding, although there, he was also aided by his nephews, Phobos and Deimos. Maybe they'll be the villains of Wonder Woman 2...
Dr. Poison/Dr. Maru is one of Wonder Woman’s earliest comic book foes, first appearing in 1942’s Sensation Comics #2. Like Diana, Steve, and Etta, she was created by William Moulton Marston and Harry G. Peter. She worked for the Nazis in those days, and her poisons were less explicitly the kind of horrific chemical warfare deployed during World War I, but I have to say, she’s a perfect fit for this movie.
I don’t recognize the symbol on her notebook as anything particularly relevant to the DCU or Wonder Woman history, but if I’m wrong, please correct me in the comments!
Miscellanous Cool DC Stuff
- Wonder Woman’s secret identity of “Diana Prince” has fallen by the wayside over the decade or so as DC instead focuses on the mythic elements of the character rather than disposable superhero tropes like a secret identity. Fun to hear it mentioned here, and the bit where she gets glasses (and Etta Candy’s remark about it) is both a nod to Superman and the fact that Diana Prince often wore specs, particularly when Lynda Carter played her on the legendary TV series from the 1970s.
- The imagery of Wonder Woman with sword and shield, especially the shield, I really associate with the George Perez comics (although it has been heavily utilized since then by many creators). That, in my mind, was the evolution of Diana from traditional superhero to more aggressive mythical heroine, and the sword and shield are two key components of that. It might have been Phil Jimenez who brought the sword to the forefront, and he's another brilliant Wonder Woman artist.
- There are strong Superman: The Movie vibes throughout this film, notably in how it takes its time establishing the main character’s origins, but also in the snappy dialogue, and the comedic elements when our “alien” character first makes it to the big city. There are two fun Superman: The Movie inspired moments when they get to London. I feel like Diana's brief struggle with a revolving door is one.
But the other is more overt...
But nowhere is that more apparent than in the alleyway where Diana and Steve are accosted by German spies. This is a lovely homage to Christopher Reeve’s Clark Kent catching a mugger’s bullet meant for Margot Kidder. But the way this bit kicks off, with Diana and Steve ducking into the alley right down to a gun appearing in frame from behind a wall, is a perfect nod to Superman: The Movie.
- Diana trying ice cream for the first time and telling the vendor he should be proud of his creation is almost right out of Justice League (2011) #1 by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee.
Steve brings everyone Edgar Rice Burroughs novels. Burroughs is famously the writer behind Tarzan and John Carter of Mars, two characters who have kind of fallen out of the spotlight. But at the time, this was cutting edge stuff, making Burroughs somewhat like the DC and Marvel of his day. Both Tarzan and Jon Carter have light parallels with Diana’s story as well since they both ended up being a “stranger in a strange land” (that’s a book that Burroughs didn’t write, but you knew that already).
And as Nick points out in the comments, John Carter was the star of A Princess of Mars. Diana is a princess, and her enemy, Ares, is Mars. That's pretty damn cool.
- That shot of Diana hoisting a tank over her head reminds me a lot of Superman in The Dark Knight Returns. But Matches Malone (I know who you really are, Matches, that's why you're a detective) reminded me of this wonderful Alex Ross painting of Diana from his Spirit of Truth GN.
- The moment when Diana wants to help the refugees, the wounded soldiers, and even the animals, struck me. When she says "I can help" it reminded me that for a while in the comics, she could indeed kind of "talk" to animals. Likely, one of the gifts from her namesake.
- This isn't a DC thing, but it has been brought to my attention that Diana's rescue of Steve is very much like The Little Mermaid.
That sequence also pulls visual cues from an iconic wartime melodrama, From Here to Eternity. The film also plays pretty deliberately with themes and beats from another such classic, Casablanca, which we detail here.
So what did you spot, DCEU fans? Let me know what I missed, and if it checks out, I'll update this article. Shout 'em out in the comments or hit me up on Twitter!
DC is giving two creative teams a proper sendoff in May as their era of Superman draws to a close.
It's rare that I get to say things like this, but it's actually a good time to be a Superman fan. Between Supergirl on my TV screen every Monday and two Superman-focused TV series (Krypton and Metropolis) in the works, that satisfies my Kryptonian screen needs. Hell, they even got Supes right in that Justice League movie, whatever other problems it had.
But you know what I have most been enjoying? The fact that Superman comics have just been so consistently damn good over the last two years. It was a weird time to be a Superman fan during the New 52 era, which admittedly had its highs, but it was often tough to get a real feel for who this version of Kal-El was supposed to be. That certainly hasn't been the case since DC's Rebirth kicked off, which, among all the high profile Watchmen connections with The Button and Doomsday Clock, or the critical darling that is Tom King's Batman era, also gave us the best sustained run on the Superman books in about 20 years.
Dan Jurgens, one of the architects of Superman's last truly great extended era in the '90s, has been steering the ship on Action Comics (with help from several artists), while Pete Tomasi and Patrick Gleeson have been in charge of the more Kent-family focused Superman. Both books have been just so unapologetically "Superman" in their tone, so much low-pressure comics fun, and so damn good every month that they somehow managed to make the announcement that one of the most celebrated comics writers of this century would be taking over seem like just okay news (note: Brian Michael Bendis taking over the Superman titles is far more than just "okay" but you get the picture).
So while the new era of Superman comics that begins with Action Comics #1000, the Man of Steel limited series, and a brand new Superman #1 is all exciting, historic stuff, everyone wants to see Jurgens, Tomasi, and Gleason get the sendoff they deserve. And that's just what they're gonna get in May with two oversized, 48 page specials.
Action Comics Special #1 is “The Last Will and Testament of Lex Luthor,” written by Jurgens with art by Will Conrad.
Here's the official word from DC:
"Beginning with the events of REBIRTH, Superman’s greatest enemy became his most unexpected ally. Is Lex finally on the heroic path, or is he still hiding his true colors? When he finds himself in an adventure where Superman could be destroyed, what will he do? Save the Man of Steel, or witness his demise at the hands of an unimaginable enemy? This oversize special also includes stories from Max Landis and Francis Manapul (TRINITY, JUSTICE LEAGUE: NO JUSTICE) originally slated to appear in the DC UNIVERSE HOLIDAY SPECIAL 2017 #1, and Mark Russell (THE FLINTSTONES, EXIT STAGE LEFT: THE SNAGGLEPUSS CHRONICLES) with artist Jill Thompson (WONDER WOMAN: THE TRUE AMAZON)."
Superman Special#1 features "The Promise," which will conclude a story that began in issue #8, 2016’s “Escape from Dinosaur Island.”
Here's the word from DC:
"Before Superman’s world goes through some drastic changes, he has unfinished business to attend to on Dinosaur Island. Superman and the Losers’ Captain Storm take one final trip together into the abyss of tomorrow, which brings the military man out of time into the world of today. This 48-page extra-size special also features bonus stories by Mark Russell with art by Bryan Hitch and Ian Flynn with art by Kaare Andrews."
Both will be on sale in May, and will help get fans their Superman fix before the Man of Steel limited series kicks off on May 30.
The Batman Ninja trailer transports the crimefighting clashes of the Dark Knight to the setting of feudal Japan.
The idea that Batman exists as a stealthy, gadget-wielding, contemporary crime-fighting nocturnal ninja may seem like a given at this point, but it’s a fairly recent trope that was ignited by movie and comic book reinventions and is far from the 1939 vision of a costumed rope-swinging detective of creators Bob Kane and Bill Finger. However, upcoming anime Batman Ninja not only embraces said trope, but creatively utilizes it as the basis for an inventive interpretation of the mythology.
Batman Ninja is the brainchild of writer Kazu Nakashima (Futagashira) and designer Takashi Okazaki (Samurai Jack). Junpei Mizusaki will serve as director, breaking a long hiatus from 2005 anime Zoo.
Batman Ninja Trailer
A new Batman Ninja trailer promotes the release of the Caped Crusader's inventively mind-blowing time-jumping Japanese adventure for the first time with its recorded English dialogue.
Batman Ninja, utilizing a little bit of timey-wimey, sees Gotham City has been traded for a highly-stylized quasi-historical version of feudal Japan, where Batman’s crimefighting endeavor sees him take the form of an armored, sword-swinging samurai/ninja hybrid. The solitary, honor-based lifestyle of the samurai suits Bruce Wayne well and we can see that he’ll face a traditional DC Comics rogues gallery consisting of Catwoman, Two-Face, Gorilla Grodd and, most notably, the Joker, who exists here as a purple-armor-clad cackling samurai whose skills easily match that of Batman’s. Thankfully, his regular gagle of costumed allies have also made the time trip, allowing them to have his back.
After months of teases, going back to July at San Diego Comic-Con, the first Batman Ninja trailers (seen below,) made their debut in December.
Batman Ninja Release Date
Batman Ninja will stealthily make its digital debut on April 24, followed by the physical release of a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital combo (with an optional Steelbook version), which hits retail on May 8. You can check out the standard Blu-ray cover below.
Batman Ninja Poster
Here’s the teaser poster for Batman Ninja, showing the familiar sight of a mid-air Batman, only decked out in his ninja gear and ready to wreak havoc amongst the criminals and general ne’er-do-wells that dare to deal out injustices in his version of feudal Japan.
Is crime a good line of work for women? Melissa McCarthy heads the Irish mob in New Line’s upcoming The Kitchen.
“What gives men the right to think that they know what’s best for women more than women do,”asks one of the toughest Irish mafia enforcers in DC Entertainment's Vertigo comics series The Kitchen. “You really think that’s our fuckin’ choice to make?” Melissa McCarthy will play one of the leads in New Line Cinema’s adaptation of the empowering crime series, according to Variety. McCarthy joins Girls Trip star and long-time standup comedian Tiffany Haddish.
The Kitchen is being written and directed by Andrea Berloff, who wrote Straight Outta Compton. The Vertigo Comics series comic comes from Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle, and featured an all-female art team. Drawn by Ming Doyle and Jordie Bellaire with cover art Becky Cloonan, The Kitchen was published in 2014.
The Kitchen told the story of mob wives Raven, Kathy, and Angie who rule their husbands’ Hell’s Kitchen territory while their husbands are in jail. They get help from their mentor Tommy, an enforcer. The women end up running the neighborhood more viciously than their husbands ever did. When their husbands get out of prison, women are not going back to the kitchen. The film is being described as gritty.
McCarthy, who took heat in the 2016 female comic actor remake of Ghosbusters, most recently starred in the comedy Life of the Party, which was co-written and directed by her husband Ben Falcone. She also stars in STXfilms’ upcoming comedy The Happytime Murders. She was featured on the Gilmore girls before breaking out in Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids.
There is no word on when The Kitchen starts production.
Fans of The Expanse and Firefly should check out Outpost, the story of a Corporate colony on the edge of civilized space.
The on-screen western is enjoying a bit of a resurgence right now, but its close relative, the space western, has never really gone out of style. From Rachel Bach's Fortune's Pawn and James S.A. Corey's The Expanse to Star Wars and Firefly, science fiction loves stories set on the edge of civilized space. Outpost, the new space western from W. Michael Gear, is such a story.
Outpost has everything you'd expect from a gritty western: a stoic heroine, a community struggling to survive against the brutal wilderness, and that messy process of trying to negotiate the difference between order and freedom. Of course, it’s set not in a dusty frontier town on Earth, but rather 30 lightyears from Earth, on a neglected human colony on a planet called Donovan (named after the first dude that died there).
Donovan has only been in existence for 30 years, but that seems like a lifetime to the human population that has had to make due with dwindling resources, consistent casualties, and constant threats from the wildlife that lives just beyond the colony's borders—and isn't afraid to slip inside the parameter. The last of the cattle died years ago. Antibiotics are gone, making curable diseases deadly. And no Corporate-sent ship has come to provide reinforcements in years.
That is until the Turalon shows up.
The Turalon has been traveling through space for two years just to get to Donovan with a Corporate mission to find out why the colony has stopped sending its shipments, and what happened to the previous ships that were sent to check in on Donovan. Led by ambitious, young Supervisor Kalico Aguila, with the brutal enforcement officer Cap Max Taggart by her side, the crew doesn't know what they're in for. Donovan is filled with survivors who are no longer willing to play by the Corporate rules.
On the other side of the Corporate-contractor line are the residents of Donovan, led by hardened badass Talina Perez, one of the three leaders of the Port Authority colony. We meet Talina in the book's opening scene as she faces off against a quetzal, a deadly creature that regularly eats colonists. "Talina had a momentary image of its wide mouth, the wickedly serrated teeth. Then it blocked the sky as it hurtled towards her." Talina somehow survives this encounter, though barely, immediately grounding the reader in the life-or-death stakes of this world. (Though, it should be noted, Talina considers the Corporation more dangerous than the quetzals.)
While the residents of Donovan's Port Authority may call the ship-dwellers on the Turalon soft, it's not exactly paradise in space, either. While there are no quetzals, only one in five ships successfully makes the journey. (“You either make it or you don't … Space doesn't come free.”) Although, when the Freelander, a ship that has been missing for two years, shows up with all of its crew dead from old age, even that seemingly simple one-in-five math is called into question.
Those that do survive the journey through space exist in severely cramped quarters, so much so that no one seems to notice when psychopath Dan Wirth up and kills his roommate in order to take his place on the expedition down to Donovan. Talina, she of good instincts, compares Dan Wirth to a quetzal before she amends her earlier statement: He's worse than a quetzal; he kills his own.
This is just a glimpse of the rich interpersonal, political, and geographic backdrop that informs Gear's writing. In Outpost, the author has infused his science fiction foundation with elements of horror (think Alien) and mystery (think Annihilation) , slowly unraveling the story of how Donovan came to be the way it is and what happened to the Corporate ships that disappeared. While Gear casts a wide net in terms of character points-of-view, he never loses track of his larger thematic foci, such as what people will risk for power and wealth.
It's not easy to create an entire new planet setting and to immediately ground the reader in that world, but Gear makes it look easy. ("On Donovan, he saw only wilderness, the patterns of the geology, watersheds, and lakes, all shaded by varying hues of blue-green vegetation.") He strikes an impressive balance between only telling us what we need to know when we need to know it and making this feel like a fully-realized place from the get-go. By doing so, we are both invested in the fate of these people and their colony, but also unspoiled for the mysteries that will slowly unravel there and in the space above.
Outpost is the first in a planned trilogy, with the second installment set to come out in November 2018. After finishing Outpost, the wait will feel as long as the journey from Earth to Donovan. This may be a hard world, but it isn't one without its optimism and, after spending time with these characters and in this world, you will be desperate to find out what will happen next. I know I am.
In honor of Valentine's Day, we look at 13 ladies who took a piece of Deadpool's heart before it grew back.
In the Deadpoolmovie, one of the jokes in the marketing was portraying it as a love story to tie in with the fact that it came out just before Valentine's Day. It's not exactly lying as Wade's actions are all motivated by love.
Sure, he may look like a sculpture made of dried bubble gum and he has some serious personality problems, but Wade Wilson has a lengthy list of love interests over the years. The sense of humor and abs probably help. He's been married a handful of times. The guy gets around. Let's take a look at the ladies of his life who could look past his skin texture.
Don't let that blue-skinned appearance fool you. That's the same Vanessa that Morena Baccarin plays in the movie.
Copycat lived with Wade years ago, when he was a simple mercenary. The two would likely have been married and spent the rest of their lives together, but then Wade came down with a bad case of cancer, told Vanessa to hit the road, moved on to Weapon X and things got complicated. Since Vanessa was a mutant shapeshifter, the two ended up working together after Wade became Deadpool. Around this time, Deadpool was complete human garbage and not only treated her badly, but at one point tried to kill her. Copycat left him for Garrison Kane, a character who isn't allowed to appear outside of the 1990s without first informing his parole officer.
It was under this scenario that Deadpool enacted his first in-comic heroic action when he saved Copycat's life. Her powers were a mix between Mystique's shapeshifting and Rogue's power copying, so when she was mortally wounded, Deadpool tore off the top of his uniform and hugged her so that she'd copy his powers and heal herself.
When Deadpool became more of a good guy, Copycat targeted him and failed. Then she tried to get back with him through disguising herself as various women interested in dating him. Deadpool later admitted that he knew it was her and the two rekindled their relationship.
Copycat became aware of Deadpool's friendship with Siryn, became jealous and left him. Another reason why she left came from issues with her powers. She started working with a reformed Weapon X and they enhanced her abilities, but there were some serious side-effects. Weapon X brought Deadpool back into the loop and gave him the mission of killing Copycat. Deadpool instead rebelled and tried to save her life. She was sliced to ribbons by Sabretooth and died in Deadpool's arms, swearing that she always loved him.
Every writer practically forgot about this afterwards, as Deadpool had crossed paths with Sabretooth on occasion and never had the sensible, violent reaction. It wasn't until AFTER the movie was released when Deadpool even brought that up. Even then, it was a secondary reason for him to consider killing Sabretooth.
Due to a history between Banshee and Deadpool, Siryn ended up working alongside Wade during an adventure where they battled Juggernaut and Black Tom. During a fight with Juggernaut, Deadpool's mask came off and he begged Siryn not to look. Her gasp at seeing his face broke him down, but then she coaxed him with her touch and apologized. From there, Deadpool became infatuated with her and would regularly watch over her when she was asleep.
She later admitted knowing he was there and feeling safe about it. Still creepy!
Siryn acted as the angel on Deadpool's shoulder for a while, trying to steer him in the right direction. Unfortunately, Deadpool had a devil in Typhoid Mary, who disguised herself as Siryn and had sex with him, which caused him to have a major emotional breakdown. Once things with her team, X-Factor, settled down, she tried to get back with Deadpool, only for Copycat to take Deadpool's form and beat her up, causing her to despise him. She forgave him at some point, although the passion was gone.
When dealing with a ton of depression due to the deaths of her father and her baby, Siryn had a one night stand with Deadpool. She seemed to regret it immediately and told him that it was over between them the morning after.
Ah, the classic star-crossed lover story. The man who can't die and the woman who is literally the embodiment of dying.
When being experimented on in Weapon X, Wade was so close to dying most of the time that he was able to see Death looming over him. Wade found himself in love with the skull-faced entity and she grew to love him too, what with him carrying the stench of murder.
As torturous as his days in Weapon X were, it was his time with Death that made it bearable. He planned to goad super-powered orderly and all-around jerk the Attending into killing him (mainly by calling him his real name of Francis), but Attending took out his frustrations on Worm, a fellow experiment who idolized Wade and even gave him the name Deadpool. Attending removed Deadpool's heart, which should have killed him, but as much as he wanted to spend his eternity with Death, Deadpool found his body healing for the sake of carrying out revenge in the name of Worm.
Once that business was done with, Deadpool couldn't hear nor see Death anymore. Occasionally, he'd reach a state of near-death good enough to be able to meet with her until he was actually killed. Before the two could touch, Deadpool was revived on Earth. Turned out a jealous Thanos had used a cosmic artifact to give Deadpool eternal life.
A more recent adventure between Deadpool and Thanos ended with not only the end to Deadpool's immortality curse, but he had a falling out with Death and moved on.
A major climactic moment happened in Deadpool's solo series where a cosmic being that spreads pure bliss came to Earth and turned everyone into drooling, happy vegetables. Deadpool chose free will and killed the creature. The whole incident caused some repressed memories to return and he started to see visions of a specific woman wherever he went. He ended up finding this woman, who he began to remember as his wife Mercedes, and the two were equally confused. Especially when it was established by supervillain the Black Talon that Mercedes had died and was mysteriously brought back to life.
Deadpool told the story of how he and Mercedes were happy together until evil mercenary T-Ray showed up at their home, half-dead. They took him in and in return, T-Ray killed Mercedes. Deadpool and Mercedes tried to run off to live happily ever after, but T-Ray caught up with them and revealed the truth: T-Ray was the real Wade Wilson and Mercedes was his wife. The two of them took in a mercenary named Jack who proceeded to kill Wade in an attempt to steal his life and accidentally took out Mercedes too. Then he believed himself to really be Wade Wilson and we got another big piece of Deadpool's origin.
This was meant to break Deadpool, but despite being shown the possibly thousands of people he's killed over the years, the only victim he ever truly felt guilty about was Mercedes. Then he pointed out that he's at least trying to be better while T-Ray resurrected his dead wife for no reason other than revenge. Mercedes turned on T-Ray, but made Deadpool aware that she never wanted anything to do with him ever again.
In a story that seemed more Punisher than Deadpool, our hero was hired by some police officers to assassinate a handful of mobsters. Deadpool agreed because he needed the money and killing a bunch of bad people isn't the worst thing he could do to earn it. His contact was Anastasia, an attractive tattoo artist that Deadpool fell for immediately, partially for her dark sense of humor. On his third visit, she said that she really needed to give him a tattoo or else people would get suspicious, which led to Deadpool having to unmask in front of her. To his surprise, she seemed rather into his grotesque features.
Deadpool would continue his job and would regularly come back to spend time with Anna. Fearing for her safety, he gave her a bunch of money and a phone, telling her to leave town until the whole thing blew over. Then it turned out to be one of those situations where everybody involved was corrupt and stabbing each other in the back.
Anna turned on Deadpool and knocked him out with a shovel to the head. She buried him alive, but dug him up when her situation went south and she needed any help she could get. Once things were done with, Deadpool refused to trust her, feeling used from the beginning. Anna swore that that wasn't the case and handed Deadpool a gun. If Deadpool truly felt that way, he'd shoot her dead, but she was confident that he wouldn't.
Deadpool shot her dead.
He felt guilty about it for a while and was surprised when it turned out she was still alive. He married her in Vegas, but she was gone the morning after. What Deadpool never did realize was that Anna actually was dead. This was just Copycat messing with him.
"Crazy" Inez Temple
After pulling off a spectacularly impossible mob hit, Deadpool became the top name in mercenary killings and the envy of everyone in his line of work. While at the gym, he met fellow mercenary Outlaw, a cowgirl with the mutant power of enhanced strength. The two flirted and even crossed paths before one of his missions later on, but nothing of note happened. Mainly because Deadpool fell off the radar soon after and was believed to be dead.
Outlaw fell in love with Alex Hayden, otherwise known as Agent X. Due to his healing factor, personality, scarred features, competency as a killer, and the fact that he showed up shortly after Deadpool went missing, many believed him to be Deadpool with amnesia. Their relationship came to an end when Alex cheated on her with his secretary Sandi (which was more of an instance of fill-in writer Evan Dorkin not quite getting the characters), but she at least stayed close to him as a member of his new organization Agency X. Around this time, Deadpool came back into play and he found himself teaming up with Agency X multiple times.
At first, Deadpool's relationship with Outlaw never got much further than flirting and the occasional game of strip poker. During the story Suicide Kings, Deadpool was on the run due to belief that he caused a terrorist explosion. He hit on her a bit, but she swore that she had a boyfriend as a way to shut him up. Trouble followed, destroying Outlaw's apartment and causing her to be very cross with Deadpool.
Once the adventure was done with, Deadpool spent a lot of money on getting Outlaw a new place to live. Since she could tell that Wade did this out of the goodness of his heart and not for the sake of getting into her pants, she rewarded him by letting him get into her pants.
The two got married at some point, despite Alex's warnings. The honeymoon was far too much for Deadpool to handle, considering Outlaw's sexual eagerness mixed with her super strength. His body simply couldn't heal itself back together fast enough and his pelvis ended up in a thousand pieces over and over. The marriage soon got annulled.
In other continuities, Outlaw has been the go-to love interest for Deadpool. In Deadpool MAX, she was a sex-starved psychopath meant to mix Outlaw, Domino, and Copycat into the same entity and was obsessed with Deadpool to the point of carrying a baby doll with her and insisting that it was his. In Deadpool Pulp, she played the femme fatale who acted as Wade's old flame on the other side of right and wrong. In the end, he had to kill her to save the US from a massive nuclear explosion.
Not much is really known about Gretchen. Years back, there was a miniseries called Identity Disc that was very blatantly the Usual Suspects starring a group of supervillains and had "Identity" in the title to cash in on DC Comics' big event comic Identity Crisis. The Kaiser Soze stand-in had a specific reason for each bad guy to do his dirty work, whether it was a way to help them or strictly blackmail. When killing time with Bullseye, Deadpool explained that his reward would be information on where to find his first wife Gretchen, who has a restraining order on him.
He never did get his payoff due to the shocking reveal that the Vulture was behind everything (with the added shocker that he really wasn't). The story wasn't very good. Deadpool was last shown sadly looking over a photo of this woman we've never heard of before or after this storyline. I'm sure she was very nice.
Early in Daniel Way's Deadpoolrun, the Merc with a Mouth ran afoul of Norman Osborn and became a thorn in the Goblin's side. The newest Thunderbolts team was sent to go deal with him, also very fresh into Andy Diggle's run on that series. Deadpool had a comparatively easy time dealing with the Thunderbolts except for team leader, Black Widow Yelena Belova. She was able to hold her own and between her fighting skills and looks, so Deadpool ended up going dopey and asked if she had a boyfriend.
At first, Yelena rolled her eyes at his advances, but soon found herself laughing at his one-liners. Yelena was frustrated and amused by his antics, including how he flew a plane towing a banner with his phone number on it. During a fight between the two, Deadpool grabbed her close and kissed her. Black Widow was shocked by this and asked why he'd do that. From Deadpool's fevered point of view, he saw her as Death and told her he loved her.
Deadpool was decapitated during the story and Yelena helped him by sticking his head back onto his shoulders and letting his healing factor do the rest. Down the line, unbeknownst to Deadpool, we found out that it was never Yelena in the first place, but the more heroic Black Widow Natasha Romanova trying to take down Osborn from the inside. Deadpool and Natasha did cross paths at another time, where he got some mixed signals and received a punch to the face for his troubles.
Deadpool took on intergalactic bounty hunter Macho Gomez, where at the end of their battle, Deadpool commandeered his spaceship and sent Gomez to his supposed death. Unfortunately for Deadpool, he found out that Gomez was affiliated with his in-laws' outer space towing business and soon our merc protagonist got roped into that.
The gigantic Orksa was furious with Deadpool taking out her husband, but Deadpool calmed her down with a kiss and the two ended up getting married on the spot. This was Orksa's fourth marriage, which annoyed Obb, a coworker with eyes for her (er... eye for her because he's a freaky alien). Obb made a couple attempts at taking out Deadpool and failed, but Deadpool spared his life when realizing Obb's reasons for doing it. After helping some less-fortunate aliens survive a cokehead planetoid (yes, really), the two returned to Orksa, who realized that she had feelings for Obb. Deadpool divorced her, returned to Earth and noticed that he may have developed a fetish for chubby girls.
Deadpool was hired by Satana, sister of the Son of Satan (daughter of the father of the Son of Satan?). She had lost a bet with a group of nerds and was forced to marry one of them. Deadpool was cool with just killing them and going on his way, but they turned out to be human forms of various top-ranking Marvel demons like Mephisto and Dormammu. That's where he came up with plan B: marry Satana. Hey, if they were married, she wasn't allowed to get married to any demons!
Asmodeus ended up getting the go-ahead to pursue Satana and thought he'd deal with Deadpool's trick by just killing him and taking care of the "death do us part" aspect of his marriage. Satana had magically enhanced Deadpool's soul and weaponry, which was just enough to take Asmodeus down. Unfortunately for Deadpool, once that was done with, Satana had their marriage annulled and took half of Deadpool's soul before they could even do the honeymoon mambo.
And Satana is someone who's gotten frisky with Ghost from Thunderbolts, a guy who goes months without bathing. That's got to hurt Deadpool right in the confidence.
In a story that takes place just a few years ago in terms of continuity, yet "came out in the '70s," a long-lost comic featuring an afro-sporting Deadpool teaming up with the Heroes for Hire led to him hooking up with Carmelita. Her father was killed by albino pimp the White Man and her mother hired Power Man and Iron Fist to rescue Carmelita from the kidnapper's clutches. Deadpool insisted on joining them because he simply felt like getting in the way and being a comedic nuisance. He ended up being caught by the White Man and was sent to rot with Carmelita. The two were in the midst of some sexual action when Luke Cage burst through the wall, horrified at what he was seeing.
The heroes stopped the White Man and all was good, but once Carmelita saw Deadpool's face, she freaked out and ran away. That should have been the end of the story, but she returned sometime later with a daughter Eleanor, claiming it was Wade's and that she wanted some child support. He said Eleanor was too beautiful to be his and yelled at Carmelita to leave him alone...mainly for their own good.
Some time later, the sinister Butler kidnapped Carmelita and Eleanor for the sake of blackmailing Deadpool to do his bidding. Deadpool tried to liberate them, as well as the loved ones of others that Butler and the North Korean government were experimenting on, but only few survived. To his outright horror, Deadpool found Carmelita's body in a pit of bullet-ridden victims. Witnessed by Captain America and Wolverine, Deadpool broke down and cursed himself for causing all this death just because he insisted on tagging along with Cage and Iron Fist all those years ago.
Thankfully, Eleanor is alive and well. She doesn't live with Wade, but they're still very close.
Most notably in the past few years, Deadpool's main squeeze was Shiklah. Deadpool was hired by Dracula himself to unearth a slumbering succubus that Dracula was intent on marrying to bring their monster kingdoms together. Although Shiklah tried to suck Deadpool's energies with a kiss, she was shocked to see him survive it. Together, the two went on an adventure to reach Dracula, falling for each other on the way. This worked out for the better, as Dracula changed his plans and wanted Shiklah's death.
To screw with that arranged marriage, Deadpool and Shiklah got married on the way to fighting Dracula. Afterwards, they had a real wedding with various members of Deadpool's supporting cast and a bunch of the superhero community showing up.
While Shiklah ruled her underground kingdom of monsters, Deadpool ducked out often to fulfill his duties as a mercenary and Avenger. While the two were crazy for each other, time had strained their relationship and a glimpse into the future shows a coming war between the two, as well as a scarred, succubus daughter who doesn't think too highly of her father.
Shiklah ended up leaving Deadpool for Dracula anyway, but according to the flash-forward with Deadpool 2099, the two are destined to reunited and split up indefinitely.
Captain America put together the Avengers Unity team. Rogue was the team leader while Deadpool funded them. Over time, Rogue grew to respect Wade and befriend him. Finding out that his daughter Ellie was a mutant, Rogue promised to mentor her when her powers manifest. After finally defeating the Red Skull as a team, Rogue and Wade had a very brief fling. Rogue kissed him to absorb both his gross skin and his horrific memories.
Nothing much came of this situation outside of Gambit being very, very confused upon hearing about it. Any chance of them having a future went out the window when Deadpool killed Agent Phil Coulson under the orders of Captain America...who turned out to be part of Hydra. Ugh.
There have been plenty of other women in the Marvel universe who Deadpool's at least tried to get with, only to fall flat on his face. He's hit on Cable's old friend Irene Merryweather at least once, made a couple passes at AIM agent Dr. Betty, went on a disaster of a first date with Big Bertha, and I'm sure he'd love for Domino to give him the time of day. He's had affection for Thunderbolts teammate Elektra, only to have his dreams crushed when he discovered that she and the Punisher were friends with benefits.
Oh, and he's also had some very homoerotic fantasies involving giving Cable a massage on a beach. Cable has supposedly had similar thoughts and the two have agreed never to talk about it. Ever.
Hellboy is back on Earth for one (or two) more fights in BPRD: The Devil You Know this May.
Much like death is a joke in the world of comics, so is a leisurely retirement in the darkest depths of the medium's hell. The bells ring once more for Hellboy to return to Earth and finish what he started. That's at least what cruel Hellboy creator Mike Mignola has decided for his beloved character.
As revealed by EW, Hellboy is set to return to Earth in the pages of BPRD: The Devil You Know #6, out on May 9. Why is this significant? Because the character was seemingly retired in 2016's Hellboy in Hell #10, the high profile "final" issue of the Hellboy saga, which has spanned 25 years and countless stories.
The last we saw of Big Red, he was sitting on a couch in a little corner of the underworld after having vanquished Satan and his demonic forces for good. Hellboy, as it turned out, was Hell's worst nightmare.
Two years later, Hellboy's bringing his charming personality back to Earth to help the overwhelmed members of the BPRD fight their greatest enemy ever: the devil Varvara, who seeks to turn the planet into a demonic hellscape.
"The truth is, I knew he was coming back," Mignola told EW. "It’s something I’ve been keeping a lid on for a long time. As long as we’ve been talking about wrapping up the BPRD series, we’ve talked about how we needed to get the band back together and get back to the classic characters."
Mignola explained that Hellboy's return from Hell was always foretold in the comics. In 2010's BPRD: King of Fear, firestarter Liz Sherman has a vision of things to come, an apocalypse which Hellboy is a part of. Seeing as Varvara is trying to bring about said apocalypse on Earth, it seems that Liz's vision is coming true.
Per a preview of the upcoming issue that you should check out over at EW, the BPRD team finds Hellboy in the most likely (at least for this series) of places: a coffin in the middle of the Rocky Mountains.
"We put it in there that somewhere in the future Hellboy would be back," Mignola said. "But nobody picked up on it, which is great because we wanted a tease where people would just wonder, ‘does that mean something?’ As we wrap this up, we wanted to make sure that anything we teased, we’re paying off. Especially these funny little teases that seemed not to mean anything at the time — well, maybe they did mean something! Between Scott Allie and I, we’ve been orchestrating this thing for a long time."
According to Mignola, Hellboy has one or two more things left to do in our realm before he can have his much needed (and well-deserved) rest. He didn't go into detail as to what those things might be, but we can assume that one of them is defeating Varvara.
“I did end Hellboy in Hell on that nice quiet ‘oh now you’re in retirement’ note … except for that other thing he has to do. I feel bad about it, and I hope he had a good time on that couch where I left him. I hope he enjoyed the rest, but there’s a few things you still need to do, and it’s gonna be shitty. I read too much Michael Moorcock in high school, that’s what it is. I have that ‘doomed hero’ thing. He’s still got to take a beating.”
It's going to be a pretty big year for Hellboy in the lead up to the reboot of his film franchise in 2019, which stars David Harbour as the lovable demon. The movie, which is simply titled Hellboy, is out on Jan. 11, 2019. Until then, we're also getting a series of chronological omnibuses collecting all of Hellboy's adventures, both on Earth and his hometown beneath the planet's surface.
T’Challa’s longtime enemy is given a revamp in Black Panther and Winston Duke takes on the role.
In Marvel Comics canon, M’Baku -- known by the rather unfortunate supervillain name Man-Ape -- is a Wakandan warrior who wants to return the technologically advanced nation to its primitive roots. As a result he becomes a regular adversary to both the Black Panther and the Avengers, fighting T’Challa and other superheroes during his long stint on the page as the leader of the renegade White Gorilla Cult, from which he derives his powers.
M’Baku still leads the White Gorilla Cult and still shows disdain for Wakanda’s futuristic high tech in the movie Black Panther, but the name Man-Ape is nowhere to be found. As played by Winston Duke in his first feature film, he has his own kind of dignity, a kind of mirthful irreverence, and a sharp, strategic intelligence that gives him a crucial role to play as the movie’s plot unfolds. He’s also a massive physical presence and just as fierce a warrior as any of his countrymen or women.
Duke, a native of the Trinidadian island of Tobago who emigrated to the U.S. when he was nine years old, made several TV appearances in his relatively brief acting career before landing the role of M’Baku in director Ryan Coogler’s new Marvel epic. Den of Geek spoke with him at the Los Angeles press day for Black Panther, where he talked movingly about the importance of the film to him and the kind of impact he hopes it can have on new generations of viewers looking for representation.
Den of Geek: This is your first feature film.
Winston Duke: This is my first feature film ever, so it's a really new experience.
You went right in the deep end.
Yeah, man. The deepest end. I'm going in the diving pool here.
What was the audition process like?
I went through the audition process and to be honest, I just thought I'd be watching this movie like everyone else. I was just excited when I heard it had been announced, and then Chadwick Boseman and Civil War came out, and everyone loved it. And I loved it. And then it just kept building momentum. Lupita, Danai, Michael B Jordan, I'm like, "That's pretty cool."
I let my people know that I'd love to work with Ryan Coogler one day because I thought he's just one of those truly auteur directors of our time. And I was just like, "I want to work with a guy like that." I think he has such a great understanding and distinct voice of his own. So I wanted to do that.
And then I got in the room. And we worked for about 40 minutes. He took me in every direction. It was like, "Can you do it this way? Can you do it that way?" And we just went in so many different directions with the character and it wasn't until working with him that I realized that's his style. He has a very, I would say, musical approach, and a musicality to his directing style where he really just listens, and listens really deeply and intently because sometimes while auditioning, I would notice he wasn't watching me, he was listening.
He'd be like, "Okay. Cool, cool, cool." And then he'd come up to me and say, "I like what you did here but can you make this little part here, a little more personal? Make it just more personal and send it." And that was really wonderful. So getting the role through that audition process was just something that I could never imagine, but happened.
Were you familiar with the comics?
I grew up with comic books, and I'm from the Caribbean so comic books were really a great interrogator of American culture for me. It was a vehicle in but I didn't grow up reading Black Panther. I grew up with mutants and all these things, but Black Panther accessed a different part of the comic book world, and the comic book community for me once I did get the role.
Before I got the script, after I got the part, I went to my neighborhood comic book store and the guy recognized me because some information was leaked that Winston Duke's been tapped as M'Baku and all this stuff. And he recognized me right away. I walk in and he just kept glancing over. When we caught eyes, he started smiling a big smile. And then this guy pulled every single comic book that M'Baku had ever appeared in and then came out from the back, and was like, 'pow'. He's like, "There you go! That's for you. Good luck." I was like, "Whoa."
That's the kind of support that I've gotten for this film and that's the kind of support that we got at Hall H at Comic-Con when we encountered the fans, and they're showing all that love. So for me, man, being part of this community is like nothing else.
M'Baku's villain name in the comics wouldn't really fly these days, but there's still kind of an acknowledgement to it in the movie.
Yeah, those elements are still there and I think it's a really great testament to the creative team, that they have taken this character, this leader of the White Gorilla Cult, and elevated him to having a lot more agency and integrity. They gave him more responsibility because now he bears the burden of shouldering the welfare of an entire tribe, an entire community, and that's really powerful. That's put him in a place of not being ego driven, but being driven more by having to do a great job for his people and those are his attachments.
His culture and heritage, and what it means to him, that comes through because they pray to a different god. They're not part of this proper Wakandan society. They have their own thing and they're proud of that. So they come in and they announce themselves like a gorilla. They don't sneak around. M'Baku says what he means and he means what he says, and you're going to listen.
He seems to enjoy getting under people's skin.
He's a truth teller. He takes a lot of joy from calling out what other people might be thinking so I feel like he has a lot of great introspection because he knows they think that he's savage. He knows they think that he is just this big, intimidating guy, but at the same time he's vegetarian.
All those things really told me that this guy's deeply introspective and this guy's deeply aware of himself, and how people perceive him. And he has agency because of that. He can use that and wield that to his advantage. You know what I mean? And I think that's what's really brilliant about this M'Baku, is he's a thinking M'Baku. He's a thinking, acting M'Baku who has fun and can find joy in all kinds of situations. He has tactics. So he knows how to intimidate. He knows how to make an appearance and use his size and stature, but he's not what you think. That's what I wanted to bring across, that he's contemplative.
There's been a lot of talk about the importance of this movie to black culture and the ideals of representation and equality. If you were seeing this film as a 12-year-old child of African descent, what would it mean to you and what do you think it's going to mean to kids who will see this now?
I'm so excited and so moved at the idea of that. They're going to be able to take in information and take in images and arguments and these ideas before they are completely formed. I'm a man. I'm an adult. I'm grown and I grew up under all the narratives and politics of my skin tone. I grew up under the politics of my size and my skin. I grew up under the politics of the sound of my voice and a lack of agency, or a feeling of a lack of agency, and not always being able to find myself in images that were in the media.
So to have kids be able to see this and see people represented with power, see people be able to change their lives either for the better or for the worse, see people who represent class and dignity, see black women with class, dignity, agency, strength, opinion, love, vulnerability... Before they're formed. Before they're told that they have to be the narratives that they're told that they have to be. Before all the 'isms' of the world are placed on them, they get to consume, ingest and express this. That's really beautiful and that's important, and that's something that I could never fully have imagined while doing the work for this film because there's this film and then there's the event around the film for what the film can mean. And I'm just deeply honored, and privileged to have been a part of it.
You are also in Avengers: Infinity War. What can you say about it?
I feel like what Black Panther does is build an entire new world, an entire new language, and a new lexicon for the MCU. It's a really bold, new step into that future of the MCU, and then, Infinity War threatens and shakes that established world, and world order. That newly established world and world order is rocked when Thanos enters, and it's going to be a wild ride.
Black Panther is out in theaters this Friday (February 16).
To celebrate the arrival of Ninja Turtles in Injustice 2, here's a look at the finest moments from the Injustice prequel comics so far.
One of the more surprising successes from DC Comics’ repertoire in the past couple of years has been Injustice: Gods Among Us, the weekly digital comic that’s acted as a prequel to the Netherrealm Studios fighting game of the same name. Written by Tom Taylor and Brian Buccellato and drawn by the likes of Bruno Redondo, Mike S. Miller, Tom Derenick, and others, Injustice was strong enough to continue on for years despite the game itself falling into obscurity in-between installments.
The first five volumes take place in-between the game’s prologue and the beginning of the game, where the dystopian, Superman-ruled world is visited by heroes from the classic DC Universe. As shown in the game, this all happened because the Joker messed with Superman a little too hard and Superman killed him in a fit of rage. Most of the other heroes and even some villains were on his side in terms of ruling over the world with an iron fist and the only ones interested in taking him down were Batman, Lex Luthor (secretly), and Harley Quinn. With each volume of the comic explaining the events of a different year, we bridge the gap and see what it was that made Superman grow into a cold megalomaniac. How did Hal Jordan lose his way? How come none of the other heavy hitters were able to stop Superman?
After finishing up all five years, the series then became Injustice: Ground Zero, where it retold the events of the video game's story mode from the point of view of Harley. Now we're in the middle of Injustice 2, a prequel comic showing what's happened in-between the two games.
So let’s revisit 50 of the finer moments in this run where what could have been a forgettable tie-in that nobody would remember instead became one of DC’s better titles.
1. HARLEY AND GREEN ARROW (Y1: #5)
The first four issues of Injusticearen’t all that good, mainly because it’s the Joker doing a mandated killing spree that Taylor had to write based on the in-game history. Having to write Lois Lane’s death never did sit right with Taylor and he’s tried to redeem himself for it in different ways through his various writings. It wasn’t until he was able to move away from the intro story that he could show some real personality and promise.
Green Arrow apprehended Harley Quinn and chose to keep her in his Arrow Cave, since he didn’t like the possibility of Superman needlessly executing her too. What we got was a great dynamic where the snarkier member of the Justice League was silent and belligerent to an optimistic and excited criminal who admired him. It also introduced a couple of running gags, like Harley’s tendency to always carry a fake mustache with her at all times and the fact that Green Arrow really needs to rename his headquarters.
2. SUPERMAN AND BATMAN TRY TO TALK IT OUT (Y1: #10-11)
Year One was mostly about the crumbling of the World’s Finest. The friendship between Superman and Batman fell to pieces over disagreements and backstabbing. Superman chose to confront Batman, mostly as an excuse to vent. He felt that Batman was judging him for killing the Joker and imposing peace on the world, but at the same time he ranted about how Batman allowed all of this to happen by not killing the Joker first when the Joker seriously deserved it. The two argued back and forth, leading to Superman insulting Batman’s role as a father and Batman punching Superman in the face.
From there, things calmed down and in one moment, we were reminded that they were friends. Superman inspected Batman’s hand for injuries and Batman admitted the truth: if he were in Superman’s shoes, he probably would have done the same thing. The problem is, Superman is supposed to be better. Superman offered Batman to follow him down his path of making the world a better place, but Batman just couldn’t bring himself to do it.
3. FLASH’S FANBOY (Y1: #13)
In the game’s story mode, the Flash was able to realize that he was on the wrong side, albeit too late. This issue dealt with him second-guessing Superman’s actions for the first time. In Australia, a group of people protested Superman’s insistence to keep countries from going to war “or else.” Superman and Wonder Woman told them all to disperse, but a man calling himself Galaxon stepped forth and challenged them. He got Rock Bottom’d into the pavement in a second.
As Flash went off to go get an ambulance, Batman told him that he already called for one and instead gave him directions to a science research facility. It was the place where Galaxon was engineered. News of his incident hadn’t reached them yet, so a scientist gave Flash the tour, including Galaxon’s room. The walls were covered in inspirational images of superheroes, including a photo of him as a kid when he got to meet the Flash. Realizing that he just watched a man who idolized him get paralyzed for standing up for his people, Flash zipped away to run off this gut punch.
In Year Five, Flash was told by Iris West that Galaxon committed suicide a year or so after the incident. That turned out not to be the case in the Injustice 2comic and Barry dedicated himself to helping Galaxon walk again.
4. CYBORG’s VIRUS (Y1: #15)
When you get down to it, the comic is like DC’s own little version of Civil War, only we know the ending and we know that Superman is ultimately going to be in the wrong. It would be totally easy to simply have Batman be the paragon of virtue by default to show off just how wrong Superman really is, but Taylor doesn’t do that. Batman is an asshole and does some really scummy stuff.
For instance, there’s a part where Superman and his allies went to Arkham Asylum to steal away all of the inmates without saying where they were going. Cyborg would open the doors and Flash would run off with the prisoners. Batman warned Cyborg to stop and when that warning wasn’t heeded, he pressed a button that shorted Cyborg out. Once he finally came to his senses, he couldn’t understand it. He just updated his firewalls and there’s no way Batman could have infected him.
Then Cyborg realized that Batman infected him with the virus on the first week they met. Just in case. In the background, Killer Croc noted, “That’s pretty evil.”
Batman pulled crap like that a lot in the first year. While Superman was wrong for the right reasons, Batman was terrible at proving why he himself was in the right.
5. BLACK ADAM’S TAKEN DOWN (Y1: #19)
With the Justice League trying to stop all war around the world, that would naturally put them at odds with Teth Adam, ruler of Kahndaq. A man not known for listening to reason, he fought the heroes, who eventually overpowered him. In a moment of, “How did nobody else thing of this before?!” Wonder Woman proved that she is Black Adam’s kryptonite. All she had to do was get him in the lasso and ask him what his magic words are.
Shazam tried to plead with him and asked him point blank if there was any way to stop him. Adam, compelled to tell the truth, angrily said that he would tear apart anyone who tried to hurt Kahndaq, so no. He couldn’t be swayed. In his last moments before being forced to depower himself, Adam desperately begged Shazam to keep his country safe. Then he transformed into a powerless old man and was taken off the table until Year Five.
6. SUPERMAN VS. KALIBAK (Y1: #22-24)
With word that Superman was bringing peace to Earth, Kalibak found the idea laughable and figured it made the planet easy pickings for invasion. With Darkseid’s blessing, he and an endless stream of Parademons attacked Earth during a press conference where Superman was trying to better explain his actions to the frightened public. Kalibak completely underestimated Superman’s mindset in this act and paid for it.
Kalibak doubled down and mocked Superman for caring too much about the lives of his enemies than his people, all while piling on hundreds of Parademons and pointing out that Superman could hear all the people being terrorized from around the world. Vowing this wouldn’t happen again, Superman vaporized the lot of them, then beat Kalibak to death, even when Kalibak tried to surrender. After a brief discussion with Flash, Superman decided that for the greater good, he’d have to reduce every single Parademon on Earth to organic confetti.
He saved the world, but at the same time, Flash was disturbed that he basically gave Superman permission to kill and Batman knew that Superman’s actions were going to get progressively worse.
7. MORAL CHESS (Y1: #26)
Again, Superman and Flash had a conversation about the morality of what they were doing, though this time at their own leisure and not during an intergalactic invasion. In a cute gimmick, Superman had Flash quickly learn the rules of chess so that they could play while talking. This worked out so that any time one of them made a point in their argument, they would suddenly reach checkmate. Superman started off with all the good points, but soon Flash was able to run circles around his conversation and his skills by dropping checkmate after checkmate after checkmate.
8. SUPER TWITTER (Y1: #28)
This bit’s something that’s so stupid that it wraps around and becomes fantastic. Superman had had enough of Batman’s interference, so he decided that he’d just blurt out his alter-ego info to the world. Batman interfered with the satellite’s signal, putting them in the dark and also causing it to spiral down to Earth. Presumably, by the time Superman would have saved everyone in the satellite, Batman would have put some kind of contingency plan that would...do something? I don’t think Taylor thought that far ahead. Anyway, Robin was all, “No way, we’re doing this! Lex Luthor! Cyborg! Get Superman a Twitter account! Or at least an off-brand one that we can use in this comic!”
And so, “Batman is Bruce Wayne” became the most retweeted line in this universe, ruining the Dark Knight’s core level of secrecy.
While goofy, it did lead to a wonderful follow-up scene. Alfred came to Batman to tell him about the many, many news helicopters circling the manor and while he figured Batman had contingencies for his funds and various charities, Alfred had his own special list for just such an occasion. A short list of irreplaceable things to take with him in case Batman's identity was blown. His mother’s pearls, father’s stethoscope, etc. Batman thanked Alfred and suggested that perhaps he should remain at the mansion, but Alfred refused. After all, he was on the top of the list!
9. GREEN ARROW’S DEATH (Y1: #33-34)
It all led up to this moment. Superman didn’t simply lose his way overnight. Various incidents and interactions pushed him in various ways, but it all came to a head in the moment he lost control and killed Green Arrow. Superman and Luthor had created a special pill that would give someone the strength of a Kryptonian (to explain in-game why Harley Quinn and Nightwing could fight Superman and Doomsday) and Batman came up with a plan to create a diversion to get Superman out of the Fortress of Solitude so that they could sneak in and steal it.
What Batman didn’t count on was that Superman was keeping his parents in the Fortress for their own safety and how volatile that would make him. The incident escalated and it seemed like everything was against Superman, including fate. His friends betrayed him. His government betrayed him. The current love of his life Wonder Woman was critically injured. He was almost killed by Captain Atom. Batman wouldn’t stop trying to undermine him. Then in an act of desperation, Green Arrow deflected an arrow off Superman and it stuck into Pa Kent’s shoulder. Superman snapped and beat Green Arrow to death, but not before Arrow was able to fire the super pill off into the distance and make his sacrifice mean something.
Afterwards, the Kents and the computerized ghost of Jor-El tried to reason with Superman, but he wouldn’t hear it. After he flew off to find Batman, the three moped about their failures as parents. It was one of the sadder moments as the AI Jor-El tried to console the Kents while saying, “I’m sorry I unleashed this on your world.”
10. SUPERMAN VS. ALFRED (Y1: #36)
Batman put the super pill into the Batcomputer in order to get the data to synthesize it. That meant having to keep Superman busy long enough, which was kind of hard because, you know, he’s Superman. Superman caught him and decided that he wouldn’t kill Batman. Instead, he broke him over his knee, Bane-style. He noticed that the pill was gone and the information was uploaded elsewhere, but when he tried to press Batman (physically) to spill the beans, he just got the harsh truth that no matter how heroic he pretended to be, he was actually resorting to torture. Before Superman could process this, a hand touched his shoulder. It was Alfred.
Then Alfred buried his forehead into Superman’s nose. It was the perfect payoff for a man who sat back and watched his own family get torn apart over these 36 issues. Alfred verbally ran down Superman while stomping him so hard that his own shoe exploded into leather pieces. Once done, he took a second to clean his hands like a good butler and carried Batman off to the teleporter, telling him that there was nothing else in the cave worth saving. Damn.
The moment this issue came out, readers were clamoring for an Alfred Pennyworth DLC in the game.
11. BEST TEAM-UP EVER (Y1 Annual)
Injustice: Gods Among Us Annual is such a great little side-story taking place before Green Arrow’s death. It mainly dealt with Lobo, the downloadable character from the game who otherwise had nothing to do with the main storyline. Due to the whole Kalibak incident, Darkseid hired him to take out Superman. Seeing how screwed he was against a Superman with no moral problems throwing the Main Man into the sun, Lobo instead took a job for Superman to track down Harley Quinn. One thing led to another and soon Harley had ingested one of the super pills.
Harley went to the Arrow Cave, since Green Arrow was nice to her that one time, leading to some hilarious dialogue and facial expressions between the two of them and Black Canary. Lobo eventually tracked them down, but their combined abilities (mostly Harley’s newfound ability to tear someone’s head clean off) helped prevent them from being another three notches on Lobo’s belt. Then Harley used her psychological assets to convince Lobo that she was beneath him and he moved on.
12. THE DEATH OF KYLE RAYNER (Y2: #2)
As mentioned earlier, a lot of having to kill off Lois Lane chafed Taylor and it showed in his work. In one instance, he took the original “girls in refrigerators” moment and turned it on its head. Kyle Rayner was off doing space adventures and was on his way to go meet his girl. In this version of the story, Kyle was the one cornered and brutally killed for the sake of plot device.
While the last several years of DC has painted Sinestro as more of an anti-hero, this one sequence solidified him as the true villain of Year Two. The horrifying way he and his Sinestro Corps took Kyle apart was genuinely sad and just a little scary.
13. GORDON’S ALWAYS KNOWN (Y2: #6)
As a way to stick it to Batman, Superman decided to have his foot soldiers take martial law on Gotham. This didn’t sit well for Commissioner Gordon. He walked over to one of Oracle’s secret hideouts and told her he knew everything. Once she let him in, she made a brief attempt to play dumb, but then he merely shouted her down. He knew about Batgirl. He knew about Oracle. He knew Batman was Bruce Wayne. He knew from the very beginning because he was a detective and he was damn good at his job.
With Gordon cutting through the lies, he then told Barbara his own sad truth: he was dying of lung cancer. The last thing he wanted to do was save the world from Superman because it was only going to get worse.
14. CH’P VS. SUPERMAN (Y2: #10)
Superman’s megalomania eventually got the attention of the Green Lantern Corps. With Hal Jordan kept imprisoned, the Oans sent a bunch of Lanterns to Earth to pick a fight. Superman had a handful of his allies and a giant satellite laser on his side, but despite the many ring-slingers out to stop him, it was one of the tiniest who almost did the job. Ch’p the space squirrel was able to use his ring to manipulate the energy flowing through Superman’s skull, keeping his synapses from reaching his brain. Without Superman being able to even think right, the Man of Steel was there’s for the taking.
Lucky for Superman, Sinestro was able to convince Lex Luthor that he was there to help and was allowed to enter the fray. Not noticed until it was too late, Sinestro sniped the poor, little squirrel and that was the end of their advantage.
15. HARLEY’S DAUGHTER (Y2: #13)
Black Canary found Harley squatting in the abandoned Arrow Cave and the two started fighting it out. Harley stopped once Canary started vomiting, realizing she was suffering morning sickness and was pregnant with Ollie’s child. She casually let it slip that she too was once pregnant and Dinah pressed the subject until Harley relented. Years ago, she was pregnant with the Joker’s kid. In a rare act of sense, Harley kept it a secret from Joker and left him for nearly a year to give birth to Lucy and hand her off to Harley's sister. Then when she returned to the Joker, Joker acted like he didn’t even notice Harley was gone in the first place, which Harley tearfully explained away as a hilarious joke.
It’s rare to get a good scene that really gets the Joker/Harley relationship without feeling icky. Harley’s dependency on Joker’s abusive nature is shown perfectly here, but there’s none of the usual physical violence to back it up. It’s heartbreaking when Harley describes Lucy’s interests and the little girl comes off as an innocent version of Harley who will be spared the horrors of a clown crime lifestyle.
16. SINESTRO VS. DESPERO (Y2: 15)
Year One was about Superman succumbing to all sorts of different factors to the point of losing his way. Taylor made sure that it wasn’t just one thing making his turn to darkness a simple on-off switch. On the other hand, Sinestro spent Year Two stoking the flames of Superman’s psyche while turning Hal Jordan further to his side. The ease in which he was able to do this made it all the more hilarious because, really, Hal Jordan is a total meathead.
Flying in from space, Despero crashed into a populated building in Chicago. Sinestro was on the scene first and made a heroic claim that Despero would not be terrorizing Earth, as that was under his protection. Despero wasn’t sure what the hell he was talking about and over the next few pages, it became pretty apparent that Sinestro had his Sinestro Corps rough up Despero, throw him to Earth, and let Sinestro take care of the rest. Sinestro used his ring to force Despero’s hands onto Sinestro’s throat and with Hal and John Stewart flying over as witnesses, Sinestro yelled, “Don’t make me do this!” before snapping Despero’s neck out of supposed self-defense.
Hal believed every second of it.
17. DAN DIDIO HATES THIS (Y2: 16)
Remember a few years ago when the big thing was how the Batwoman comic was working its way towards a lesbian engagement and then DC shut it down? Then they went all, “No, we’re not anti-gay! We’re just anti-marriage in general!” when everyone made a stink about it? Fun times.
In this issue, everyone was getting ready for the big fight against Superman, the Justice League, and the Sinestro Corps. Batman took to the radio to give a big speech about sacrifice and heroism and all that. He’d bring up family and we’d see Barbara and James Gordon saying their goodbyes. He’d bring up friends and we’d see Harvey Bullock getting drunk by himself. But most notably, it explicitly showed that in the Injustice: Gods Among Us universe, Batwoman and Renee Montoya were married. That rules.
It was never referenced again.
18. HAL JORDAN GOES YELLOW (Y2: 19)
An argument between Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner escalated once Sinestro and Ganthet arrived. Guy tried to reason with him, but Hal was firmly on Superman’s side. Then as Guy saved Carol Ferris from some burning debris, Hal made the bonehead decision to smash Guy in the face and let Carol fall so he could save her. Ganthet chose that moment to strip Hal of his green ring, which was called for, but also really bad timing because, you know, Carol was falling to her death. Desperate, Hal begged Sinestro to save Carol, but Sinestro refused.
“We need you in this war. Save her yourself.”
With a yellow ring offered, Hal joined Sinestro’s brand and rescued Carol. A few issues later, Sinestro killed John Stewart and told Hal that Guy was accidentally responsible. Feeling that this big space battle between the Green Lantern Corps and Sinestro Corps was Guy’s fault, Hal attacked him and tore his arm off, watching as the powerless Guy fell to Earth.
Sinestro took out three of the Earth Lanterns in one year while turning the other to his side. Not bad.
19. JIM GORDON’S LAST STAND (Y2: 20)
The less cosmic members of Batman’s resistance took to overtaking the Hall of Justice, all hopped up on super pills. They successfully took out Flash, Robin, and Luthor, but Luthor spoke to Commissioner Gordon and told him that he was really a mole and that Barbara was in great danger. Cyborg was tracing Oracle’s signal and was going to figure out her location in moments. Using Luthor as a hostage, Gordon beamed up to the satellite and fired a warning shot into the metal side of Cyborg’s head.
Even though Gordon was dying, he was still able to overpower Cyborg and knock him out by tearing off his metal face. As he and Luthor discussed, taking the super pill didn’t aid Gordon’s health. It only made the cancer stronger. He enjoyed the peaceful view from above Earth and spoke to Barbara and Batman through his communicator. He said his goodbyes, ending with the joke, “Batman. I guess...I guess I disappear on you for once,” before collapsing.
20. SUPERMAN VS. BLACK CANARY (Y2: #21-23)
This is a fight that had been building since the first issue of Year Two. Hell, since the moment Superman snapped and killed Ollie. Superman saw the Batwing flying towards him and figured it was Batman. He lasered it up into oblivion, only for Black Canary to fly out with a bat-jetpack on her back and a super pill in her system. With her sonic scream, she was able to paralyze Superman while spiking him into the ground. When they got up, she shot him in the chest with a kryptonite bullet. Yep, all was looking peachy as she kicked the crap out of him.
What everyone forgot to pick up on was that there were a whole lot of Sinestro Corps soldiers dying around them and Superman was becoming an expert at instilling fear around the world. One of the empty rings flew to him and helped him remove the kryptonite bullet from his chest. He critically wounded Canary with his heat vision and showed off his badass new Sinestro Corps threads.
Still, Canary had the last laugh. She had special contact lenses that allowed her to record the entire fight. No longer would Superman be able to use media smoke and mirrors to play off his actions as heroic. The world knew what he really was. Superman didn’t take it well and we got a dead Mogo and Ganthet out of the deal a few minutes later.
21. BLACK CANARY’S NEW LIFE (Y2: #24)
The problem with Year Two was that it was like waiting for the other shoe to drop. Black Canary was never going to stop Superman. Guy Gardner was never going to stop Sinestro. James Gordon wasn’t going to survive. It’s a prequel comic and that means bad stuff has to happen to set up the beginning of the game. That meant that the moment Dinah Lance targeted Superman, she was doomed. It was unfair.
In the final issue, after Sinestro remarked that they saved the world in contrast to the pile of dead Lantern bodies on the ground, it showed Black Canary’s body where Superman left her. Dr. Fate, who had only made a couple minor appearances prior, decided that he couldn’t let this stand.
Dinah woke up in another world. Fate helped heal her and took her and her baby to an Earth where Oliver Queen was still alive, but lost his Dinah five years earlier. Perhaps they could connect. Perhaps not. But they and baby Connor had a chance to be happy and be safe from Superman’s wrath.
We'll see more of those guys later.
22. COMIC BOOKS REALLY ARE ABSURD (Y3: #2)
Year Three is all about covering the magic side of the DC Universe during this mess. Early on, John Constantine hooked up with Batman and Detective Chimp. Driven around by Constantine’s buddy Chas, the group made their way to where Raven was being held captive. During the ride, Constantine whispered to Chas to have a peak at the backseat, where Batman and Detective Chimp were just sitting there, silently grimacing.
That was just enough for them to lose their minds laughing. Batman yelled at them, but Detective Chimp told him to calm down. “Oh, come on. I’m a talking chimpanzee and you’re a grown man in a bat suit. Let them have this.”
23. ONE PUNCH REDUX (Y3: #4)
The main reason the magic guys never got a good shot at taking down Superman was because Superman had the Spectre on his side. He went after the hideout where Batman and his allies were stationed, held back momentarily by Zatanna’s waning magic. Batman figured they could just, I don’t know, hide in a cellar or under a pile of coats or something, and Constantine called him out on it. He ranted about how Batman could barely walk and was completely useless in this situation.
Batman proceeded to punch him in the face. Not just any punch, but homage to the time Batman punched out Guy Gardner in the '80s (notice the text in the bottom right corner). Now a little ruffled, Batman chose a more courageous plan of walking out into the streets and talking to the Spectre himself, giving everyone ample time to escape. When Constantine got up and saw what Batman was doing, he smirked. “Jesus. Bollocks the size of coconuts. Brilliant.” Riling him up was his plan all along.
24. WHERE IS CORRIGAN?! (Y3: #9)
Spectre has always been kind of a nut, but at Superman’s side, he had gone too far. He already killed Harvey Bullock, Jason Blood, and Ragman, while Detective Chimp just barely survived his wrath. Deadman decided to speak to Spectre himself, hoping to get through to the Jim Corrigan side of the spirit. He found nothing. Spectre’s host was NOT Corrigan. But who? Spectre gave a devious smile and then killed Deadman.
Coincidentally, Madam Xanadu read some fortunes earlier that included mention that "the Joker" would return in some form. How does the Spectre get a human host? Through finding one who had been murdered.
The Spectre turned out not to be the Joker after all (he was Mr. Mxyzptlk), but it was a damn good red herring.
25. SUPERMAN VS. ETRIGAN (Y3: #12)
Constantine came up with a plan to stop Superman, but it involved a bit of sacrifice. As Superman, Sinestro, and Hal hung out in the Hall of Justice while the Spectre was preoccupied, the Demon Etrigan suddenly appeared and attacked the trio. He injured Sinestro, causing Hal to escape with his partner. That left Superman and Etrigan to battle it out. With Superman in close quarters, Etrigan then transformed into his new host form: BATMAN.
Batman sprayed Superman with something that appeared to be sprinkles of a Black Mercy plant laced with magic. Whatever it was, it knocked Superman into a coma. Before going under, Superman panicked at the idea that Batman would side with Hell itself in order to stop him. Rather than realizing how far gone he had gone, Superman turned it around and claimed that Batman was the one who had fallen.
George R.R. Martin reveals that a Targaryen companion book will arrive before long-gestating sequel The Winds of Winter.
Game of Thrones Season 8 may be the light at the end of the tunnel for the HBO television series (at least before spinoff plans manifest), but fans of the source material, George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels, have become accustomed to having their reading fix delayed by the author, as the release of penultimate volume The Winds of Winter perpetually shifts. Indeed, readers who came into 2018 thinking, "this will finally be the year," will undoubtedly be disappointed by the latest development, though there is a silver lining to embrace.
George R.R. Martin recently made what appears to be an impromptu revelation regarding his A Song of Ice and Fire release strategy in a comment on his Not a Blog Livejournal site. With the topic being Martin’s upcoming series of companion novels, to be titled Fire and Blood, the author addressed something that has become a fairly standard question regarding The Winds of Winter and how the F&B volumes will affect the long-delayed sequel’s release. As Martin replies:
“F&B will be in two volumes. Vol 1 [will be released] before [The Winds of Winter], vol 2 after.”
Thus, the vocal Internet fans who have made a pastime of reminding Martin to stop whatever he’s doing and get back to writing TWoW, will likely be frustrated by this news. Yet, it’s not surprising, since Martin teased last year that his authorial attentions have not been on TWoW, but on the Fire and Blood books, a companion volume – akin to J.R.R. Tolkien’s posthumous quasi-Biblical Middle Earth chronicle, The Silmarillion– focusing on the lengthy epoch-spanning history of the dragon-taming Targaryen family, reaching all the way back to Daenerys’s continent-crossing ancestor, Aegon the Conqueror, to boy king Aegon III, as well as the great Targaryen Civil War (a.k.a. the Dance of the Dragons).
Martin claims that Fire and Blood Vol. 1 will arrive sometime in 2018; a notion that essentially takes The Winds of Winter off the table for 2018. Consequently, it’s looking more likely that by the time Game of Thrones Season 8 makes its six-episode (undoubtedly tragedy-laden,) series conclusion in 2019, the chronological state of the novels will still be the same as they’ve been since the release of A Dance with Dragons back in July of 2011. – For reference, that volume was preceded by opening novel A Game of Thrones in 1996, A Clash of Kings in 1999, A Storm of Swords in 2000 and A Feast for Crows in 2005. The Winds of Winter (whenever that finally arrives,) will be followed by the concluding volume, A Dream of Spring.
Game of Thrones Season 8 will arrive on HBO sometime in 2019. While fans of George R.R. Martin’s novels will likely enjoy the chronicles of Fire and Blood in 2018, the A Song of Ice and Fire novels will have to remain encased in the former element referenced in its very title.
The biggest Power Rangers team-up ever draws in Rangers from many different seasons.
The Power Rangers comic is about to unleash a huge event with Power Rangers: Shattered Grid (running through Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Go Go Power Rangers) and thanks to IGN we know what seasons some of the Rangers will be drawn from.
Dino Super Charge, RPM, Time Force, Ninja Steel and Dino Thunder.
The new trailer for the event, which features Jason David Frank voicing the character of Lord Drakkon, also teases the inclusion of the Lightspeed Rescue team as well.
The full line-up for the event is below, which will run through both the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Go Go Power Rangers comics.
We've also got some preview images of the event that feature the Time Force Rangers!
In May 2018 BOOM! Studios and Saban Brands will also unleash a free comic that ties into the ongoing event. See below for the press release and we'll explain just why it's a big deal.
BOOM! Studios and Saban Brands announce the MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS 2018 FREE COMIC BOOK DAY SPECIAL. Arriving in comic shops worldwide on Free Comic Book Day (May 5th, 2018), this FREE comic is a tie-in to the hotly anticipated POWER RANGERS: SHATTERED GRID comic book event and features the story of how Zordon turns to the Morphin Masters for help in the Power Rangers’ darkest hour as the Rangers battle Lord Drakkon—an evil version of Tommy, the Green Ranger, from an alternate reality. The issue will be written by Kyle Higgins (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) and Ryan Parrott (Saban’s Go Go Power Rangers) and illustrated by Diego Galindo (Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Dog Men).
Morphin Masters? Okay, if you aren't the most hardcore of Power Rangers fans you might not recall what the hell the Morphin Masters are. Basically, there was an early MMPR episode where Zordon casually name dropped the Morphin Masters in relation to the Power Eggs in the episode "Big Sisters". The kind of throwaway line MMPR was known for but for years fans have speculated what the hell the Morphin Masters were. Well knowing how insane the Power Rangers comics can get with continuity we're excited to see their take on it.
Check out the cover of the comic (which sadly doesn't feature any Morphin Masters.)
Shamus Kelley can not get over the inclusion of the Morphin Masters! Follow him on Twitter!
Horror favorite Fangoria magazine returns to its pulpy roots.
Fangoria is kind of like the Ramones of horror magazines. Fun, funny, influential and completely accessible, their interviewers asked pertinent questions and the images were filled with gore, suspense and wit. Every horror fan has at least one copy, that they show, and probably a bunch buried somewhere. Quentin Tarantino has boxes of copies, I’m sure. Most covered in some kind of protective plastic like he’s preserving a dead Pharaoh for a movie he’ll never get around to making. But Fangoria Lives. Cinestate, Dallas-based entertainment company founded by movie producer Dallas Sonnier (Bone Tomahawk, Brawl In Cell Block 99) bought the magazine. They are set to restore it to its glory days as a print publication.
Fangoria will have a new Editor-in-Chief, film writer Phil Nobile Jr., who was Editor-At-Large for the website Birth.Movies.Death. Noble was a a writer/producer for Stage 3 Productions in Philadelphia, where he created a feature-length documentary on John Carpenter’s Halloween. Nobile will also act as the Creative Director for the entire Fangoria brand.
“There needs to be a Fangoria,” says Nobile. “The magazine was a constant presence in the genre since 1979 - and then one day it was gone. That felt, to us, tragically incorrect. Fango was, for multiple generations, a privileged window into the world of horror. It gave us access to filmmakers’ processes and secrets, opened our eyes to movies we might have otherwise missed, and nurtured a wave of talent that’s out there driving the genre today. I’m proud and excited to be part of the team that’s bringing this institution back.”
At the height of its popularity, Fangoria Magazine was the most renowned horror publication in the world. Before the internet they were the place to go for exclusive interviews with horror filmmakers, behind-the-scenes photos and stories weren’t covered in other movie magazines because they weren’t dedicated to the art of horror. Cinestate CEO Dallas Sonnier courted the previous publisher Thomas DeFeo’s The Brooklyn Company for several months to get the assets and trademarks of the Fangoria brand, including the magazine.
“We have also been reaching out to previous Fangoria contributors to introduce ourselves and invite them back into the tent for future collaborations. This is a process, but we are confident in our ability to earn back trust and be good partners in a brand that personally means so much to so many awesome people,” states Sonnier.
Tony Timpone and Michael Gingold will return to Fangoria as consultants, and will contribute regular columns. Other contributors include S. Craig Zahler (Brawl In Cell Block 99), Ashlee Blackwell (Graveyard Shift Sisters), Samuel Zimmerman (Curator, Shudder), Grady Hendrix (PAPERBACKS FROM HELL), former Birth.Movies.Death Editorial Director Meredith Borders, horror historian Rebekah McKendry, and Preston Fassel (the upcoming Our Lady of the Inferno).
A full staff is in place and operating from the Cinestate offices in Dallas. Zack Parker, formerly of Shudder, joins Fangoria as the Director of Brand Management, along with Jessica Safavimehr as Associate Publisher and Ashley Detmering as Art Director. Nobile will be based out of New Jersey.
Cinestate controls all material from over 300 issues of Fangoria Magazine, spanning the past 39 years. They also control the contents of the now-infamous Fangoria storage unit in New York, and the assets and trademarks to out-of-print publications Starlog and Gorezone.
“When I read Fangoria as a kid, it was a special ritual. I had to save up for it, and then I had to find it. And bringing it home ten times a year became a kind of sacrament, poring over every photograph on every page, reading that whole thing front to back, then doing it again,” Nobile said in a statement.
“We want to restore that analog thrill to readers. We want to duplicate the excitement that I remember bubbling up around a new issue of Fango, put that excitement in an envelope and mail it to our subscribers. Fangoria is not something that competes with online blogs. Fangoria is not an algorithm. Fangoria is something you hold in your hands, something you spend a bit of time with in the real world. That’s what it was for decades, and that’s what we’re going to make it again.”
Cinestate will further develop Fangoria into a brand for producing movies and podcasts, as well as publishing horror novels.
Cinestate is currently in post on a gonzo reimagining of the Puppet Master franchise, as well as Zahler’s next movie Dragged Across Concrete for Lionsgate starring Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn. Cinestate also published its first novel in January – Zahler’s Hug Chickenpenny: The Panegyric Of An Anomalous Child, which is being developed into a feature by Zahler, Cinestate and the Jim Henson Company.
Jeff Daniels' Atticus and Celia Keenan-Bolger's Scout do a walk and talk in Aaron Sorkin's To Kill a Mockingbird on Broadway.
Jeff Daniels will climb inside Atticus Finch’s skin and walk around in it on Broadway. Daniels will star in Aaron Sorkin's stage production of Harper Lee's 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird, according to Entertainment Weekly.
To Kill a Mockingbird will be directed by Bartlett Sher. The production will star Celia Keenan-Bolger (The Glass Menagerie, Peter and the Starcatcher) as Scout. It will feature an ensemble cast that includes Will Pullen as Scout’s brother Jem; LaTanya Richardson Jackson as Finch's housekeeper, Calpurnia; Gideon Glick (Significant Other) as Scout’s friend Dill; and Stark Sands (Kinky Boots) as prosecutor Horace Gilmer.
The role of Boo Radley has not yet been cast, but Frederick Weller, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Erin Wilhelmi, Dakin Matthews, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Phyllis Somerville and Liv Rooth will play supporting roles. Composer Adam Guettel will write an original score for the play.
Lee's debut novel To Kill a Mockingbird was written during the early stages of the civil rights movement, when Jim Crow laws were still in effect in some Southern states. The novel won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and was published in 10 languages within a year of its release. It is considered one of the classics of modern American literature.
The story revolves around Scout’s relationship with her father, small-town Alabama lawyer Atticus Finch, who takes on a case defending a black man accused of rape.
To Kill a Mockingbird begins previews Thursday, November 1. It will open on Thursday, December 13. No theater has been announced.
We're tracking down every Marvel reference and easter egg we can find in the Black Panther movie. Help us out!
The Black Panther movie is finally here! Marvel's historic big screen adaptation is true to the spirit of the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's creation, but draws heavy inspiration from creators like Christopher Priest, Reginald Hudlin, Mark Texiera, Ta-Nehisi Coates, John Romita, Brian Stelfreeze, Trevor Hairsine, and others. Black Panther's Marvel Universe history stretches back over 50 years, and the movie does his legacy justice in ways big and small.
So here's how this works. We've compiled everything we could find on our first viewing. There's bound to be stuff we missed. So if you spot something, drop it in the comments, or hit us up on Twitter, and if it checks out, we'll add it to the guide with some additional context!
When Does Black Panther Take Place?
One quick note about when Black Panther takes place. For quite some time it felt like the Marvel movies were basically operating on a timeline along when they were actually released. That's no longer the case. The events of Black Panther seem to take place about a week after the events of Captain America: Civil War, which would put it before the events of Spider-Man: Homecoming (which was released last year) and Doctor Strange (which was released in 2016). Don't think about it too hard, as you'll get a headache.
- Black Panther first appeared in Fantastic Four #52 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Panther's debut came right in the sweet spot of what is absolutely the pinnacle of the Lee/Kirby collaboration on that book, and he was by far the most high profile black comic book character ever created at the time. T'Challa has since become an essential piece of greater Marvel mythology, and we wrote more about some of the amazing work Jack Kirby did with the character right here.
- The "heart-shaped herb" is right out of the comics, too. What's interesting to me is how heavily they lean on the "Black Panther communing with the dead" element in the process of this transformation. During Jonathan Hickman's time as Fantastic Four (and later Avengers) writer, they really went hard on the idea that Black Panther isn't just king of the living in Wakanda, he's also the king of the realm of the dead. So all those trips to the ancestral plane (and how Killmonger seemingly rejected that entire element of the responsibility of that role) seem to fit in with this. They make reference to Bast throughout the movie, generally known as an Egyptian god, but one who has a place in the Panther legacy, and who decreed that Black Panthers also rule the dead of Wakanda.
- The title of Black Panther is one that is passed down, and we met T'Challa's father, T'Chaka in Captain America: Civil War. Interestingly enough, while T'Challa did indeed don the mantle of Black Panther in that movie, he wasn't officially THE Black Panther until what we see in this movie.
- T'Challa makes the choice between the gold or white necklace, but throughout his comics career, he has worn both.
What is Vibranium?
Black Panther's suit is made of woven vibranium, an incredibly strong, valuable metal found only in a meteor that crashed in Wakanda a long time ago. Wakanda is the only source of vibranium on Earth, and it’s the source of their tremendous technological advancements.
That whole Wakandan creation myth we get at the beginning of the movie touches on the extraterrestrial element of vibranium's origin, which is a nice touch.
Interestingly enough, in the comics, Captain America's shield is made of an adamantium/vibranium alloy, which helps make it so durable. The fact that Cap is going to spend some time (and get a new shield from T'Challa) in Avengers: Infinity War feels like a nod to that.
What About Wakanda?
OK, so after only one viewing, I need to make sure I have a couple of things straight. Please let us know if we have any of this wrong. The five tribes of Wakanda they talk about in the intro sequence seem to be more in line with how the comics laid out the five religions of the region (there are 18 total tribes out there). Anyway, I say this because one of the nations they mention is the Jabari, who are, of course, M'Baku's White Gorilla army.
- The visuals seem to draw strong influence from Ta-Nehisi Coates’ time as writer on Black Panther (which have set the status quo for Wakanda in the rest of the Marvel Universe).
- Coates has spent a lot of time delving into Wakandan geography and society. It’s a hyper-advanced, with diverse cultures and a deep connection to the geography. It’s also generally hidden from the rest of the world, something we saw in the post-credits scene in Civil War.
- Let's not forget that the Panther and his world have the great Jack Kirby's fingerprints all over them. You can see hints of Kirby's love of insanely hi-tech designs in everything from the engines of the Wakandan aircraft to the tech on display in the hospitals. There's a pretty cool looking "black light poster" in the infirmary that faintly reminds me of work Kirby did in the '70s, as well.
By the way, is anyone out there far smarter than us who can recognize what the Wakandan language is supposed to be? Was this created specifically for the movie? Is it an existing language? An amalgamation of several African languages? Can we learn it in a school somewhere?
They nailed so much of the look of Wakanda and Black Panther’s world here, it’s incredible, particularly with Angela Bassett as Ramonda, T’Challa’s stepmother and Queen Mother of Wakanda. She looks like Brian Stelfreeze drew her. Ramonda married T'Chaka (T'Challa's father) after N'Yami passed away in childbirth. Her relationship with T'Challa as he grew into the Black Panther role is being examined right now in Rise of the Black Panther.
Who is Shuri?
T’Challa’s sister (and eventual Black Panther herself) was created by Reggie Hudlin and John Romita, Jr. in 2005, became Panther in 2009, and has had quite a ride all in all. In the comics, she died at the hands of Proxima Midnight and the Cabal in the lead up to Secret Wars. (That's relevant, maybe, to Infinity War, since the Black Order should be there) Her spirit then migrated to the Djalia, the collective plane of memory for all of Wakanda, and T'Challa went in after her in the pages of the current Black Panther ongoing.
- Also...was Shuri making a Back to the Future II self-lacing sneakers joke when she talked about the old American movies their father watched in relation to T'Challa's "sneakers?"
- Of course, her crack about "another broken white boy for us to fix" was absolutely about Bucky Barnes, who ended up in Wakanda after the events of Captain America: Civil War. We see him again during the post-credits scenes, with the Wakandan children referring to him as "White Wolf" rather than "Winter Soldier."
We interviewed Letitia Wright about the character, and you can read that right here if you want.
Daniel Kaluuya's W'Kabi, the head of the Wakandan military, is, along with T'Challa and Klaw, one of the oldest characters in the movie, having first appeared back in Avengers #62 in 1969.
Who is Everrett Ross?
- Martin Freeman's Everett Ross made his MCU debut in Captain America: Civil War. But he was first created by Christopher Priest and Kenny Martinez in Ka-Zar, and brought back in the pages of Priest’s legendary run as writer on Black Panther in 1999.
In the comics, Ross is a medium level State Department employee given the responsibility of guiding T’Challa around New York, where he then gets roped into fights with Mephisto, Atlantis, Man Ape, and Iron Man, and sits in on a diplomatic meeting between Black Panther, Dr. Doom, Namor, and Magneto. Needless to say, Priest’s run, which seems to have heavily influenced this movie, was awesome.
Ross' nonplussed reactions in the movie to increasingly weird situations feels like it came right out of the comics.
Hey you know how badass Michonne is on The Walking Dead? Multiply that by a million and you have Danai Gurira as Okoye in this movie.
Okoye is a member of the Dora Milaje, the King’s all-woman royal guard.
Okoye and the rest of the Dora Milaje were created by Priest and Mark Texiera in 1998, and have been focal characters in Coates' current run, where two of them go rogue early in the series.
Who is Nakia?
Lupita N'yongo is brilliant as Nakia in this movie, isn't she? Nakia has been around since 1998, and she was created during Christopher Priest's time as Black Panther comics writer, a creative period which, as we keep saying, heavily informs this movie.
Here's what she looks like in the comics...
Things aren't always easy for T'Challa and Nakia, so things might get interesting when we finally get Black Panther 2.
Forest Whitaker is Zuri, who in the comics was a warrior ally of T’Chaka (T’Challa’s father and predecessor as Black Panther). They took a slightly different take on him here, but it was effective. Here's how he looks in the comics...
- Andy Serkis is here as all-around skeev, Ulysses Klaue. In the comics, his nom-du-douchebag is the more on-the-nose, "Klaw."
Why do they call him Klaw? Well...why do you think he got his arm conveniently removed by Ultron? It's so that he can have a vibranium-powered soundwave cannon attached to it to give Black Panther a migraine!
It's cool that they found a way to incorporate his sound cannon/hand here. What's more, turning Klaue into a villain who primarily menaced the previous Black Panther, T'Chaka, rather than T'Challa, is something that's right in line with how the Marvel Cinematic Universe has occasionally tweaked the timeline in order to give everything a little bit more history. So just as we learned in the first Ant-Man movie how Hank Pym was operating during the 1980s, we now know that T'Chaka and Klaw were fighting at least as far back as 1992...probably earlier.
Serkis previously played Klaw in Avengers: Age of Ultron. The character was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in Fantastic Four #53, where he stole vibranium from Wakanda, murdered T’Challa’s father, and got his hand chopped off.
Klaw's obsession with Vibranium is right out of his early comic book appearances, though, and yes, you can spot the Jack Kirby influence there, too. Honestly, I felt like the tattoos on the back of his neck are kind of a nod to his comic book design, too.
Erik Killmonger first showed up in Don McGregor and Rich Buckler’s Jungle Action in 1973, where it was revealed that his father was forced to help Klaw in his initial raid on Wakanda, and he and his family were exiled for it. You can see echoes of that in the movie, too. He developed a hatred of the Black Panther, and turned himself into evil Batman - peak physical condition, genius strategist, science-ey guy - to fight him.
The fact that Killmonger is breaking Klaw out of jail when we first meet him in the movie feels like a nod to that old Jungle Action story.
Also, Erik is occasionally fond of masks in the comics, so when he swipes that one from the British Museum, that seems pretty on-brand, too. I feel like I'm doing Killmonger a disservice in this guide, but this is one of those very rare occasions where Marvel actually improved on one of their comics villains in the process of bringing him to the screen.
Note that the Killmonger of the comics does have a similar origin, although he grew up in Harlem not Oakland, and he isn't T'Challa's cousin.
In the comics, M'Baku was originally an Avengers villain known as Man-Ape, created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema. He’s super fast and super strong, and has tried to lead many a coup against the throne.
It's pretty cool how they managed to include elements of that comic design, notably with the masks and the white body paint, without going the full "Man-Ape" route.
We spoke with Winston Duke about bringing M'Baku to life, and you can read all about it right here.
The Post-Credits Scenes
Remarkably, these aren't that heavy on Marvel mythology. Instead, we see Wakanda offering a pointed message to the United Nations as they get ready to take a more active and visible role in the world. Of course, the world is going to need Wakandan technology to fight what's coming in Avengers: Infinity War. And speaking of which...
...we do get to see the other "broken white boy" that Shuri was referring to, with the return of Bucky Barnes. The "white wolf" nickname the kids give him does have a little comics history, as a minor character associated primarily with King T'Chaka, but that doesn't seem to be really be of particular significance here. If we assume the events of Black Panther started a week or so after Captain America: Civil War, and that the movie itself takes place over the span of a few weeks, there might be another brief time jump before Bucky wakes up. Maybe that Bucky sequence takes place a month or so after Civil War. In any case, he'll be ready to reunite with Cap and aid in the fight against Thanos in Infinity War.
As we get ready for the Venom movie, we take a look back at the oddball moments in the alien-clad character's history.
Ever since popping in during the late-80's, Venom has been popular enough to show up all over the place. He's been a vengeful supervillain and he's been a mentally-unhinged would-be superhero. He's been part of the Sinister Six and he's been part of the Secret Avengers. The costume has latched onto various hosts and three of them have been used as soldiers for the government. An inventive idea that's starred in more bad stories than good, the alien symbiote has found itself in a lot of crazy situations.
With the Venom movie on the way, I thought I'd take some time to look through Venom's history and some of the more eyebrow-raising moments. Except for anything from Spider-Man 3 because my therapist tells me I'm not ready to talk about that yet.
15. DR. DOOM'S ILL-DEFINED PLAN FOR WORLD DOMINATION
Spider-Man: The Video Game (1991)
The Spider-Man arcade game is fun to play, but good luck trying to make sense of the narrative. Having Black Cat accompany Spider-Man makes enough sense, but having Hawkeye and Namor as playable is just weird. At the end of the first level, you fight Venom. Once he's defeated, he's possessed by some mystical artifact and it enlarges him to about 25-feet-tall. After being beaten down to normal size again, he gives it another go and is once again wiped out. That appears to be the last you hear from him.
Late in the game, you find out that Kingpin isn't the game's big villain after all. He's working under Dr. Doom, meaning a trip down to Latveria for the climax. You'd think that taking out Dr. Doom (twice, since the first is a Doombot) would be the finale, but no. Once Doom is taken out, he unleashes the TRUE final boss! An army of Venoms literally rain from the top of the screen and you have to fight them all off. How random.
Coincidentally, Dr. Doom would unleash an army of symbiotes onto the populace in Bendis' Mighty Avengers many years later.
14. ALL ARMS ON DECK
Venom: The Madness (1993)
Ann Nocenti and Kelley Jones did a 3-issue arc with an interesting hook. See, Spider-Man was joined with a sentient parasite and thought it was too insane to keep around. Eddie Brock didn't have that opinion and gladly became Venom. So what if you added a third creature to the mix that drove Venom so insane that Eddie had to put his foot down and get rid of it?
After being stomped down on by Juggernaut to the point that he was inches from death, Venom was joined with a sentient virus made out of mercury. It healed him up and jacked up his strength, while at the same time giving him extra arms and tiny head sticking out of his neck because this is an Ann Nocenti comic. Unfortunately, Venom went a little too extreme and not in a good way. Like, he at one point attempted to rape his girlfriend because he was more impulsive than ever. It's seriously messed up.
Luckily, Juggernaut showed up for round two to interrupt that and Madness Venom was able to hold his own against the unstoppable one. He didn't get a chance to finish Juggernaut off because he's whisked away to a realm of madness, where he was attacked by dark copies of Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Ghost Rider. Comics!
13. SECRET SKELETON
What If #114 (1998)
The final issue of the 90's run of What If was a pretty cool one with a story based on Secret Wars. What if the Beyonder and Galactus killed each other and all the heroes and villains were stranded? 25 years later, we see a society where the survivors have paired up and reproduced. The main protagonists are the children of She-Hulk and Hawkeye, Wolverine and Storm, Human Torch and Wasp, Thor and Enchantress as well as Captain America and Rogue (try not to think too hard about how that one works). Remember, though, that this is based on the story where Spider-Man got his black costume. It's shown that he's still wearing it and with two and a half decades since its introduction, what could this mean?
Late in the story, the heroes all swarm Dr. Doom's castle and in one panel, Spider-Man is hit with one of Klaw's sonic blasts. It reveals that all that's left of Peter Parker is a skeleton. The symbiote has been controlling his remains like a puppet for who knows how many years. Yet this doesn't even faze Human Torch, who saves him and lends him a quip, as if he's long accepted that his buddy is just a pile of bones controlled by talking spandex.
12. ENDLESS FIRST IMPRESSIONS
This one isn't so much a "moment," but it's so deliciously 90's comics that I have to mention it. Back in that decade, Venom became popular enough to get his own run as an anti-hero in San Francisco...which then got him relocated to New York City because they needed those easy-to-write Spider-Man crossovers.
Except...Marvel had a peculiar way of running Venom's ongoing. On one hand, it really was an ongoing series. It started in February of 1993 and the last issue was January of 1998. Sixty issues across five years without a single month being off. On the other hand, they didn't treat it that way. There was no Venom #7. Rather than streamline all the comics into one easy-to-follow series, Marvel turned every single story arc into its own miniseries. What's going to sell better, a comic with a random number attached, or a Venom comic with a big #1 on the cover?
In the end, other than Venom #1-60, we got Venom: Lethal Protector #1-6, Venom: Funeral Pyre #1-3, Venom: The Madness #1-3, Venom: The Mace #1-3, Venom: The Enemy Within #1-3, Venom: Nights of Vengeance #1-4, Venom: Separation Anxiety #1-4, Venom: Carnage Unleashed #1-4, Venom: Sinner Takes All #1-5, Venom: Along Came a Spider #1-4, Venom: The Hunted #1-3, Venom: The Hunger #1-4, Venom: Tooth and Claw #1-3, Venom: On Trial #1-3, Venom: License to Kill #1-3, Venom: Sign of the Boss #1-2 and Venom: Finale #1-3. All that and a bunch of specials mixed in there. I guess marketing trumps a coherent reading order.
11. THE WAR IN FRANK CASTLE'S MIND
What If #44 (1992)
Kurt Busiek and Luke McDonnell collaborated for one hell of a comic in What If Venom Had Possessed the Punisher? Frank Castle stops into a church moments before Eddie Brock and because of this, he becomes the host for the symbiote. At first it helps him with his war on crime, but it begins to take over more and more and even tries to make him kill Spider-Man.
It all comes to a head when the Punisher fights Spider-Man, Daredevil, and Moon Knight on a rooftop. Spider-Man hits him with a sonic blast and it allows Frank to wrest control for just a moment. He shoots the sonic cannon and goes into a vegetative state. Inside his head, we see a really sweet sequence of Frank in his Vietnam gear as he feels himself being stalked by the creature. He changes into his Punisher duds, screams that he's not afraid, and fights the creature head on.
It's a completely badass scene, but the best part is still Moon Knight excitedly yelling that he's a creature of mysticism – AND THE MOON! Somehow saying that wins him the benefit of the doubt.
10. HE'S A DEMON ON WHEELS
Venom #36 (2013)
Cullen Bunn really did try to make his Venom run work, but a lot of the time, things never really clicked. In the latter part of his run, Flash Thompson Venom hangs out in Philadelphia and hunts down any information he can on crime boss Lord Ogre. Some criminals drive off and escape him and he's a bit disappointed that he doesn't have a ride of his own. He sees the husk of an old car with the wheels stripped off and gets an idea.
Existing for just one hell of a splash page, the Venom-Mobile shows that apparently the symbiote is able to work on machines too if the story calls for it. Either way, it's certainly a step up from the Spider-Mobile.
9. DOG IN THE EYE
Dark Reign: The Sinister Spider-Man #4 (2009)
Brian Reed and Chris Bachalo's take on Mac Gargan Venom is a super fun read, telling the story of a horndog cannibal who's treated by the media as a great hero. Under the guise of Spider-Man of the Dark Avengers, Venom causes all sorts of trouble and makes a million enemies in his wake. The climax is at a big festival in the middle of Time Square. Norman Osborn gives Bullseye and Daken the orders to take Gargan out, since he's more trouble than he's worth. Since Bullseye can make any object into a lethal weapon, he chooses to use a tiny yapping dog.
The dog doesn't kill Venom, but it does get lodged deep into his eye. Venom proceeds to fight off Bullseye, Daken, various gang members, and a group of half-eaten supervillains out for revenge...all while he has a dog in his eye. Once cooler heads prevail, he finally pops it out of his socket and discards the poor guy off into the distance.
8. THE SINISTER SPIDER-HAM
What The--?! #20 (1992)
Spider-Ham was a creation of the 80's and his star wore out before Venom's introduction. The character was reprised in the early 90's as part of Marvel's parody comic What The--?! Issue #20 features a crossover between various regulars of the series in an adventure called the Infinity Wart. Forbush Man, Spider-Ham, Milk & Cookies, and Wolverina team up and face their evil selves. For Spider-Ham, it's an excuse to introduce his Venom counterpart, Pork Grind.
Speaking like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pork Grind fights Spider-Ham and Milk & Cookies. He mostly manhandles them until Spider-Ham eats his spinach and punches him out. Coincidentally, this is not the last entry on the list to feature Austrian Venom.
7. EDDIE BROCK: SISTER OF PAIN
Venom: Sign of the Boss #1 (1997)
Venom's 90's series became delightfully silly by the end, partially because they introduced a plot device where the symbiote was placated by eating chocolate. Believe it or not, there's actually a really well-written explanation for why the symbiote is calmed by chocolate, but that's neither here nor there. During the last couple story arcs, Venom is forced to work as an agent for the government or else they'll detonate the bomb in his chest. He's given an assignment to lay low in a church for some big speech on peace by a foreign leader. If anyone makes a move, Venom is to be alerted to spring into action and stop the assassination, but not a moment sooner.
The symbiote is able to mimic any form of clothing and disguise Eddie in all sorts of ways. That makes it extra funny when of all disguises, Eddie wears a nun's habit and asks the choirboys to not sing quite as high-pitched as it gives him a bit of a headache. Some gun-carrying thugs take them hostage, but Venom has to wait until he gets clearance to reveal himself.
Once he does, he violently murders the henchmen in front of the children, not realizing that he's traumatizing them into oblivion. Once finished, he tells them that violence is more of an adult thing and offers a chocolate bar to one of the kids. Because of course he has a candy bar on him. The boy is practically catatonic in fear, especially when Venom yells, "Come on! Take it!" Then Venom gets all huffy and offended, not understanding why he isn't being thanked.
6. THE FRENCH KISS OF DEATH
Venom #11 (2004)
Daniel Way's Venom series from the mid-00's is really, really bad and should not be read ever. It's mean-spirited, overly-complicated, and has nothing resembling payoff whatsoever. It's also a comic where Venom himself – at least the Eddie Brock incarnation – doesn't show up until the 11th issue. You see, the symbiote terrorizing everyone all this time is a clone. #11 starts a three-issue story that explains the clone's origin.
It has to do with a fight where Venom beats on Spider-Man until the Fantastic Four arrive to stop him. At first, Thing is able to overpower Venom, until Venom fights back by making out with him...TO THE DEATH.
Venom shoving his tongue down Thing's throat is one of the grosser things I've seen in a comic, but it actually serves its narrative purpose. Human Torch burns the tongue off and Thing coughs it up. A bystander picks the tongue up, brings it home and tries to sell it on eBay. He's immediately made a target by an old man made out of nannites who is really the force behind Noah's Ark and—oh my God, I don't want to get into any more of the plot of this series. Moving on.
5. THE MOLOTOV COCKTAIL OF AWESOME
Venom #13.4 (2012)
During the Rick Remender Venom series, Flash Thompson Venom starred in a crossover called The Circle of Four. It's quite a brilliant little concept that took me a minute to grasp. In the 90s, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hulk, and Ghost Rider teamed up to become the New Fantastic Four. Here we have a similar grouping with Venom, X-23, Red Hulk, and the female Ghost Rider that everyone's completely forgotten about five minutes after her series ended.
The four join forces to help save Las Vegas from the clutches of Blackheart, who is trying to create Hell on Earth. With the exception of X-23, the team joins together to make their own special version of Captain Planet, only more soul-shatteringly badass. Riding a giant motorcycle is Red Hulk, who has become the host for both the Spirit of Vengeance and the Venom symbiote. This is the cliffhanger before the final issue and it still makes me smile. I'm surprised the final issue isn't Blackheart throwing his hands up and saying, "Yeah, this isn't worth it. Sorry for all the trouble I caused, everyone," and going back to Hell where it's safer.
4. THE GROSSEST OF MATING HABITS
What If: The Other (2007)
The What If issue based on the Other tells the tale of Peter Parker refusing to break out of his cocoon and embrace his inner-spider. The world and his loved ones think he's dead, so he's going to keep it that way. The Venom symbiote senses that Peter's body is just sitting around, unused, and leaves Mac Gargan's body. It attaches itself to Peter's husk and is pretty pleased with being one with its original and favorite host once again. Peter has no consciousness to speak of, so the symbiote is completely running the show. Calling himself Poison, the creature confronts Mary Jane and wants her to be his mate. She tells him off and he leaves her be.
With Mary Jane not an option, Poison goes for an even grosser route. He spawns a symbiote offspring and uses it to control the rotting dead body of Gwen Stacy. You can thank Peter David for this piece of alien necrophilia incest. You can also thank him for...
3. THE NOT-READY-FOR-PRIME-TIME SMASHERS
Incredible Hulk vs. Venom (1994)
This is a comic released by Unicef that deals with Venom and Hulk fighting each other and then teaming up because a series of earthquakes are tearing apart San Francisco. A mad scientist calling himself Dr. Bad Vibes (not the villain from the C.O.P.S. cartoon, I checked) insists that he's been causing the earthquakes with his earthquake machine. Hulk has the mind of one of the world's greatest scientists and Venom is an accomplished journalist. Truly, they can put their minds together and figure out a great strategy in stopping Bad Vibes' reign of terror before it's too late.
Their plan is to quote Saturday Night Live.
Yes, they go into a news broadcast to do a Hans and Franz impression, complete with clapping. Honest to God, when I first read this scene, I had to put down the comic, get up, and just walk away because I simply could not deal with this.
2. DIAL-UP M FOR MURDER
Venom: Carnage Unleashed #4 (1995)
Thing with the symbiote is that the writers can tack on nearly any kind of ability and you can buy it because it's a blob from outer space that gives people super strength and copies Spider-Man's powers. Turns a car into a monster car? Sure, why not? Makes you immune to noxious gas? I buy it. Makes it harder for psychics to gain control? Makes sense to me.
Larry Hama created the most outlandish use of the symbiote's abilities with his Carnage Unleashed storyline. Carnage Unleashed – a story created based on the success of the Maximum Carnage video game – is about a Carnage-based video game that's become a big deal. It's about to be launched to the public with online multiplayer and Carnage's plan is to use this to his advantage and kill as many players as possible. How? By using his brand-new power of using the symbiote to travel through the internet!
The comic keeps stacking on more and more instances of, "Computers do not work that way!" that escalates to the point that Venom and Carnage are fighting inside cyberspace and it's being broadcast on the big screen in Time Square. Coincidentally, people are able to hear their banter despite, you know, there being no audio on that big screen. Venom wins when he sees a heat sink and destroys it, which causes a huge explosion that hurts them both and knocks them out of their computers. It is the stupidest, most glorious goddamn thing.
1. THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
All-Access #1 (1996)
Ah, Access. For those of you who don't know or remember, Access was a superhero jointly owned by DC and Marvel whose job was to make sure that both worlds remained separate and don't bleed into each other. Considering they've been refusing to do a crossover since JLA/Avengers, it's been a pretty successful decade and a half. Way to go!
Following the events of Marvel vs. DC, Access starred in his own miniseries based on keeping the peace via cosmic segregation. In the first issue, Venom finds himself in Metropolis and Ron Marz chooses to forget that Venom is supposed to be kind of a good guy around this time. Instead, Venom goes on a rampage until Superman and his post-resurrection mullet arrive. This should be a simple fight. Superman moves planets with his bare hands and Venom is just a stronger Spider-Man with a bucket full of weaknesses.
Then Venom throws Superman around like a ragdoll. The two have several fights and each time, Venom absolutely humbles Superman, making him look like a complete joke. Access brings Spider-Man into the DC world to help fight Venom and even that isn't enough! Put Superman and Spider-Man together against one threat and he still kicks their asses.
The only reason Venom loses is because Access shows up with a giant sonic cannon loaned from STAR Labs. Afterwards, Spider-Man tells Superman that Eddie Brock was never easy to get along with, what with him being a newspaper reporter. Then Spider-Man wonders why he's getting the silent glare.
A great contrast to this story is the Spider-Man/Batman crossover from a year or so earlier. That comic features Batman beating Carnage in a straight-up fight. No sonics. No fire. Just lots of punches. Batman beat up Carnage, who regularly used to beat up Venom, who beat up Superman. Somewhere, a Batman fan is yelling at a Superman fan, "See?! I told you so!"
Every actor from the Marvel Cinematic Universe has come together for a class photo commemorating its 10-year anniversary.
Considering the unprecedented enormity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the ambitious shared universe of films from the Disney-owned Marvel Studios, it’s bizarre to think back to the comparatively quaint movie endeavor with which it launched, 2008’s original Iron Man. Yet, in 2018, rounding the 10-year anniversary of that fateful film launch, the man who starred in the original unlikely hit, Robert Downey Jr., stands proudly in the center of a “class photo,” with a 79-person collection of actors and creative personnel who have been part of the MCU.
Just about every actor who has ever appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as its behind-the-scenes visionary in Marvel Studios president, Kevin Feige, assembled for what is being dubbed a "Class Photo," marking the 10-year mark of the industry-transforming film continuity’s launch with Iron Man. That movie made its armored, palladium-powered arrival on May 2, 2008; a time in the pop culture parlance when mentioning Apple’s iPhone only referred to its first-generation release, and comic book movies were sporadic entities unto themselves.
Yet, Iron Man, dubiously brandishing a then-fallen star in Downey, made a compelling, pathos-packed arrival, boldly calling its shot in a precedence-setting post-credits scene in which Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury debuted with a fateful entreaty for the “Avenger Initiative,” hinting of a larger cinematic world.
Of course, the celebratory atmosphere of the photo shoot is also complemented with the idea of an impending bittersweet moment that starts in May with Avengers: Infinity War, which teams the film continuity’s major players against the perennially teased cosmic threat of the Mad Titan, Thanos. That film, while representing a surreal fan-demanded mega-movie, will be the first part of a two-film event (concluding with an untiled fourth Avengers film in 2019,) that will turn a crucial page in the MCU, presumably allowing its veteran headliners – notably Downey – to finally pass the baton to the newer players such as the present Brie Larson, who, in March 2019, will headline the MCU’s first female-headed hero film, Captain Marvel.
Yet, there’s also potential for grander change afoot, with the recent news of Disney’s major corporate acquisition in the impending purchase of 21st Century Fox. While the deal is likely to become the fixation of the Federal Trade Commission, it could very well yield the fan-friendly occurrence of uniting Marvel Comics’ intellectual-property-separated lineup– notably including Fox-owned properties in the X-Men movies and Fantastic Four– into a grandiose juggernaut of a movie universe under the MCU tentpole. Indeed, as surreal as this 10-year anniversary "Class Photo" appears, it’s quite possible that a prospective 20-year anniversary photo will require an outdoor shoot, due to sheer volume of personnel.
Avengers: Infinity War will arrive on May 4, showcasing a different kind of reunion in a colossal battle to prevent Thanos from completing his omnipotence-granting hand accessory, the Infinity Gauntlet.
The writer of the new Robotech comic, Brian Wood, discusses changes to the Robotech saga and the new take on Minmei.
The first Robotech comic in years has been a refreshing change of pace for the franchise. Reinventing the Robotech story instead of trying to fill gaps in the televeision continuity, the story is truly one where the phrase, "you have no idea what's coming" applies. While the first few issues might seem to stick close to the original source material, by the end of the first graphic novel (now on sale thanks to Titan Comics) everything changes.
Having read ahead the story veers even furthur off the path that was laid down in the original 85 episodes. That may worry some hardcore fans but Robotech has needed a reinvention for quite some time. The comic series still has the spirit of Robotechwhile also telling a more concise story that is free from the need to fill out synidcation requirements of the 80's. No flashback stories and no over explaning narrator to weld together three different anime series. It's just a damn good tale that uses the old series as a framework but isn't beholden to it.
While the series is marketed to new fans there's also a lot to offer for the hardcore audience as well. They'll be able to spot the changes from the original series and unlike any other reboot, those changes are a huge part of the story. The fact this story is different from what we've seen before forms the very fabric of the conflict and what drives the narrative on. Comparisons have been made to J.J. Abrams Star Trek but it's so much more than that. This isn't simply rewriting the Robotechuniverse, it's actively molding and shaping it.
We sat down with Brian Wood, the main writer of the first four issues of the Robotech comic, to get some insight into how he crafted this new tale.
Den of Geek: Much of Robotech's overarching story came from having to weld three completely different anime series together. The comic obviously doesn't have to worry about working with existing footage, so how did you balance getting to basically do whatever you wanted while still remaining true to the franchise?
Brian Wood: The fact that the American Robotech show was created that way was a big part of how I approached the adaptation. Our adaptation sought out the strongest narrative path and moved faster through the episodes, leaving plenty on the cutting room floor. Its an aggressive adaptation for sure, but the goal was not to simply re-create, but to come at it new.
Can you discuss the new take on Minmei? More than any of the other characters she's the most changed from the original series.
Minmei was a big challenge. In the show - which is the product of a different time - she's sort of submissive to a puffed up Rick Hunter, and her world seems to revolve around this regressive sweet sixteen birthday and beauty pageant storyline.
I couldn't in any honest way write her like that, especially not in a title that's making strides to introduce this story to a new audience. We needed a new Minmei, essentially, but one that still made sense and wasn't a total stranger to long time fans. So I thought about what I liked about Minmei but also what I thought a girl in her circumstances might have been - as a waitress in a bustling military city, she'd likely know how to stand up for herself, give as good as she gets, unfazed by chaos and unimpressed by a uniform.
Now you've of course taken material from the original 85 episodes but there are few references peppered throughout the comic to other entries in the Robotech lore, like using Dr. Lang (who was more heavily used in the novels) and even a reference to a planet from The Sentinels. Did you make those additions or were those suggested by others?
I went strictly off the American TV show episodes - my first step in writing an issue of this book was to watch a couple episodes and take notes as I went, figuring out what was absolutely essential and what wasn't. That was my thing - I am a hardcore, lifelong fan of that old TV show. I'm sure Simon Furman may have moved beyond them, depending on what made the most sense to him.
Following up on that, how do you balance telling an engaging story without getting bogged down in references?
I have no love of references - in all the licensed work I've done, from Marvel to Star Warsto Aliens and Robocop, I try and tread very lightly on references. I want to make whatever story I write make sense and not be in conflict, but my goal is to never write for the hardcore fan, but instead write for a broad audience, one made up of comic readers but also civilians.
This first volume is very much a retelling of the earliest Robotech episodes with some critical changes. How did you choose what to keep and what to change?
I watch the episodes, and try to identify the cleanest narrative line through each one. A to B to C, and tell that story fast and keep moving. Because of the nature of the American show, how it was assembled and edited, its not always so clean and direct. I love that show as-is, but the goal with this book is to go lean and fast.
Moving forward Simon Furman is also writing the book. Are you just providing the story from now on or are you also contributing to the script writing?
I provided an outline for the second volume, based on the way I identify and isolate that narrative line, for the sake of continuity of direction. But Simon's a talented writer with a career longer than mine, so he takes it from there and make it his own.
Robotech Vol. 1: Countdown is now on sale from Titan Comics. Seriously, pick it up. If you're a life long Robotech fan it will surprise you.
Shamus Kelley is a pop culture/television writer and official Power Rangers expert. He also co-hosts a Robotech podcast, RoboSkull Cast, where he and his friend Nick review every episode of the original series and the new comic. Follow him on Twitter!
Liam Sharp told us about his new Batman/Wonder Woman team up book.
Liam Sharp started drawing Judge Dredd strips in 2000 A.D. in the late ‘80s. Since then, he’s done everything there is to do in comics: drawing, inkingm and coloring his own work, writing books for every company, even being named the Chief Creative Officer of Madefire, a company that is working to revolutionize the way we read comics. He made the leap from great to superstar in 2016 when he was named one of the regular pencillers on DC’s Rebirth relaunch of Wonder Woman.
Now he’s about to launch a new edition of The Brave and the Bold, the old silver age Batman team-up book. This new version, written and drawn by Sharp, brings Batman and Wonder Woman together to solve a murder in Tir Na Nog. We had a chance to talk with Liam about the book, drawing Wonder Woman while she’s also on the big screen, and if there was anything about the book that particularly tickled his nerd fancy. Spoilers: yes.
Note: This interview has been lightly edited for length.
Den of Geek: Tell me about the story. I’ve seen some of the preview art, tell me the hook. Tell me what got you interested in telling the story, and interested in picking up The Brave and the Bold.
Liam Sharp: I came to the end of the run with Greg, and Greg made the difficult decision of stepping away because he had a lot of other things that were important to him - creator-owned stuff that he felt was falling a little bit by the wayside - and we’d had such a well-received run. He did 25 issues in a year, which is an astonishing amount. It’s twice the size of Watchmen. So he just was like, “Okay, I need to leave this. It’s going to suffer otherwise. I love it, farewell, let’s leave on a high point.” And I was left kind of going “Aah, that’s great and I love you, Greg, but I don’t want to say bye yet. I’m not done with Diana. I’ve fallen in love with her and she’s been so good to me. I want to tell some more stories.”
I was talking to the editorial team, and said “You know I’d really like to do something else with Diana.” They said “Well, let’s start dream project down, and see what you’ve got.” Because they know that I’ve written stuff before, and were interested in seeing what I might come up with.
Pretty much immediately, this idea of doing something in the Celtic realm, in Tir Na Nog just popped into my head. It’s been something that I’ve had a minor obsession with for my whole adult life, really. I’ve always loved Celtic mythology and mythology in general, but the Celtic mythology is obviously close to home. So I said “What if Diana went to the faerie realm?” Because that’s all these Irish gods and Celtic gods that we don’t ever really explore in mainstream comics. I’m like “This is really interesting. What about, maybe we could bring Batman in, or something, one of the other major characters.” Again, it was immediately that I thought “What then? If one of the gods has been murdered?”
Diana is brought there by Cernunnos to be a peacemaker, because Tir Na Nog, there’s a lot of unrest there. Tir Na Nog being the Irish faerie realm, has become cut off from the rest of the world. All the causeways have shut down. Time moves differently there, so they’ve basically been trapped in this realm for eons. And they’re kind of going stir crazy in there, and it’s manifesting in this endless cycle of just unrest and tension between the Fomorians and the Tuatha De Dannan.
And so Cernunnos, who’s the caretaker, he’s not actually an Irish god, but he’s a horned god of Celtic mythology, I cast him as the caretaker of this realm, and he’s the only one that can travel between the worlds, and he seeks the advice of the goddess Danu and the three form Morrigan. And basically everything points to Diana as being the peacemaker.
He comes to get Diana and asks her to come with him to help him restore peace. In the interim, while he’s away, one of these gods is murdered. So when she gets there, it’s all about to kick off in a big way, and it gets very firey, and there’s big arguments in the court of the De Dannan, and she basically says, “Look, I know this guy. He’s a knight. He’s a detective. Let me bring him in and he can help me. Let’s solve the murder first. Before you start fighting each other, let’s get that sorted.”
Then there’s the tension of the timeframe that they have in order to do that and keeping the peace in the interim. And that’s what it’s all about. But there’s a much bigger arc to it as well, which I don’t want to say too much about, because that would be giving plot points away, and definitely spoilers. But that’s the set up.
It seems like with the exception of really Diana’s world, when creators in the DC Universe needed a pantheon, they just made their own up rather than adapting a real world one.
You’re obviously extremely well read on Celtic myth, and are diving headfirst into it here. Is it difficult building out a fictional version of a real world mythology around all these archetypal heroes? Or does it just give you an excuse to nerd out?
That’s a really good question. The thing that you hope is that you’re true enough to it that the people who really enjoy and are fans of that material don’t feel short changed or that you’ve cherry picked too much. But at the same time, you can’t just retell the stories, especially when you’re telling a present day story with icons like Diana and Bruce.
So it does make it interesting, it means you’ve got a lot of moving parts. [One shift is] the De Dannan had three kings originally. I folded them into one. One of them is called Mac Cuill but I’ve basically taken one of the big heroes, Mac Cuill and made him the king of the De Dannan.
So things like that, I’ve done just because I don’t want it to be so complicated that it’s impenetrable for new readers. But hopefully people who love the material will enjoy it because they’ll have moments of, like, yes! I think it’s fun bringing these characters that I’ve had in my head for so long to life.
Characters like Cernunnos are interesting because there’s not really any great myths or stories that feature him, but we know of him from imagery, and we know what he stands for and what he represents. He’s almost like a force of nature, but he doesn't have great associated stories.He’s not even really part of the Irish mythology, he’s a Celtic god as opposed to an Irish god. But again, he’s somebody I’ve wanted to tell a story with for so long, and he’s been a real joy. It’s funny as well with him, I couldn’t get him right. I’ve had him in my head for so long, and I couldn’t get him right. I was getting closer and closer to starting the book, and one day he came, and I was like “That’s him! I know him, that’s exactly how he looks and he’s always looked in my head.” It’s odd that sometimes it’s hard to find that personality.
You’ve written and drawn a book in the past, but this is the highest profile book that you’ve written and drawn at the same time. Has that changed how the ideas spring out of your head at all? Or are you trying to be deliberately methodical with your process to try and keep yourself organized as you’re writing it? How has that shift worked for you?
I plotted the entire thing out right at the beginning, so I knew exactly what the story beats were going to be. I made really sure that I was going to be able to tell a solid story. It’s got an end, of sorts. And I learned a lot from Greg in that working with him on Wonder Woman, just in the way that he broke down each issue into beats and page turns and double pages. I literally lay out each issue in my folders. I keep the icons really big, and I keep them side by side as spreads so that I know what it’s going to look like in a collected edition, because that kind of page-to-page beat and pace of the book is really important. And the way it ramps up, and the way it slowly speeds up towards a big conclusion.
So yes, I guess I’ve been methodical in that sense, but I think when you write any story, you’re giving it your best. It’s scariest at first, because Batman and Wonder Woman! I was overwriting Batman early on. He was saying too much. I was just like, “He wouldn’t talk like that. It’s not Batman.” It took me a while to find Batman’s voice, because I have not written him before.
But Diana I felt more comfortable with because I felt like I just sort of know her. All the groundwork in terms of who she is and what she’s like and what she represents was done in our run. So I haven’t felt like I’ve had to retread any of that. She just fulfills that role in the story. She is diana the diana that she was at the end of our run. To me, this story pretty much jumps right off the back of Greg and my run on Wonder Woman.
You’re coming off of a run with Greg on Wonder Woman, and Greg is one of the iconic Wonder Woman writers of all time. But you’ve also been drawing Wonder Woman on both sides of the movie - both before and after the movie hit. Has the movie changed the experience of drawing her at all? Does it change how you approach her as a character at all, or was it just an affirmation of what you were already doing?
I think that the movie informed everything right from the get go, to some extent. We didn’t know what it was going to be like, and it was a delight that there was enough crossover chemistry between what we were doing and what was in the movie in terms of the root and the heart of what the character represents. So that was delightful.
The other side of it, the fact that there was so much attention on it, was unexpected. I had no idea that was going to be the case when I started. But it’s interesting what you end up feeling. I think for me, and I’m sure Greg would say the same, the Diana that we created, that’s to us Diana. And she’s slightly different to the film version, but that’s our version, and that’s the version that feels most truly Diana.
It’s odd, and I’m sure that everyone who works on any book starts to feel a little bit of ownership for the character. [For me] it’s almost the other way around. You feel like a vessel for that character. I think if you’re doing your job, the character speaks to you, and the history of that character speaks to you, and the weight of everything that the character represents speaks to you.
Then you also have to be informed by the times. It was really really important that Diana be done right at this specific time for a thousand different reasons. So you are having to tread a very fine line. There are a lot of people who feel ownership with the character, especially in fandom. They all have very different versions, and you can’t please all of them. They all have different notions of who she should be wit and who she shouldn’t be with. You just have to try and decide what is important yourself.
Is there any indulgence that you allowed yourself? Is there any Batman sequence that you’d been wishing you’d read before that you just put in the book because you finally could?
Ha! That’s a really good question.
So much of this whole book is like that. Honestly, the issue I just finished, issue 3 and so far what I’m doing in issue 4 have just been a joy. What it is is that it’s quite simply about the space and the world. I made a world that, I made it an expanse. They ride around in this place. You get to see it. You get to see lots of it. You get to see the scale of it, and the weirdness of it and the beauty of it. The realm of Tir Na Nog itself becomes like a character. And it’s almost like being in a sandbox or in one of those games where you can just roam endlessly. To get to do that in comic form was so much fun. It sounds like it could be quite boring, just going on a ride with Diana and Bruce, but they are, of course, they’re discussing the case. The stuff they’re looking at hopefully is impressive and beautiful enough that it feels fresh to people. It feels like it’s something I haven’t seen before. So we’ll see how people take it.
The Brave and the Bold #1 hits shelves on February 21st, 2018. For more on the series, stick with Den of Geek!
DC Comics villain Lex Luthor has, on three occasions, become President of the United States. Here's what happened...
Lex Luthor is a man of many talents in the world of DC Comics. He possesses a genius level IQ, is a successful businessman and inventor, exuding charisma from every pore. All of those assets are extremely important when it comes to politics, and that world has provided him with some of his biggest accomplishments.
The power-crazed criminal mastermind has been elected President of the United States multiple times in various stories, but who would vote for a known super-villain? Ahem.
Anyway, with this in mind, let’s explore three different Luthor presidencies and analyze whether he was fit for the job or not.
Perhaps the biggest story to involve Luthor as President was the one that took place in DC Comics shortly after the turn of the century. The megalomaniac billionaire turned to politics after his popularity grew following the restoration of Gotham City. The hometown of Batman had been cast adrift from the rest of the United States when struck by a devastating earthquake in the No Man’s Landarc.
The previous administration had handled the disaster poorly and Luthor’s financial intervention exposed the failings of his predecessors. This, along with the promise of major technological advancements and a ban on fossil fuels, helped him slide into the Oval Office with barely any opposition.
Despite initially refusing to overthrow Luthor by force, Batman and Superman eventually teamed up to bring down the President. Although the duo was faced with an army of villains and converted heroes, it was Luthor who proved instrumental in his own downfall. Whilst secretly being recorded by Batman, he admitted to trading weapons with the alien despot Darkseid in order to defeat another invading alien, Imperiex.
Batman, whose alter ego Bruce Wayne had been framed for murder by the Luthor administration, made this confession public. In a further act of vengeance, Luthor learned that his business empire had been sold to Wayne right from under his nose. Disgraced and bankrupt, Luthor was forced to step down as President, serving less than three years in the White House, a period that was rife with corruption and deception. Ah, escapism...
Justice League: A Better World
The Justice Leagueanimated series had many great storylines during its five seasons and this two-part episode is one of the best. It only gives us the briefest glimpse of President Luthor but the ramifications of his actions are unthinkable.
At the start of the first episode we see Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman storming the White House. Within the Oval Office, Luthor is rummaging through papers, muttering to himself about “a grand design for the world” and how the public failed to appreciate his vision for the future.
With Luthor’s finger on the nuclear weapons launch, Superman bursts in only to learn a shocking truth from his arch-nemesis. By allowing Luthor to be elected President and impose his politics upon society, Superman has been his greatest accomplice. If Luthor is never truly punished for his crimes, like murdering The Flash, Superman and the Justice League can never truly win their struggle.
In that moment Superman abandons all of his heroic intentions and disintegrates Luthor, putting to an end his schemes once and for all. This shocking turn of events sees the entire Justice League resort to the tactics of a police state, keeping the entire human race under heavy surveillance, effectively eradicating all crime, ruthlessly using their special powers.
Of course, this isn’t the regular Justice League, but an alternate version from another universe, known as the Justice Lords. The loss of The Flash, combined with Luthor’s rise to power, was too much for the heroes of this world to take and resulted in them mirroring the callous methods of their enemy. Although he didn’t defeat the Justice Lords, Luthor did succeed in perverting their goodwill beyond all recognition.
Superman: Red Son
What if, as a child, Superman hadn’t have landed in Smallville, Kansas but 1930s Ukraine instead? What if the Man of Steel had adopted the ideals of communism and became the all-powerful leader of the Soviet Union, whose expansion grew to consume most of the world? What if the President of the United States, Lex Luthor, was the only man who dared to stand up to him?
Mark Millar’s Red Son is a fascinating take on the cold war melding the goodwill of Superman with the totalitarianism of Stalin. Once again Luthor proves to be the polar opposite, embracing capitalism and standing as the leader of one of only two nations not to fall to Superman’s iron grip.
Their growing rivalry escalates to the point of global war but there remains an air of mutual respect between the pair. Both men have good hearts but they can never truly co-exist on the same planet. Luthor is not strong enough to fight Superman, but Superman is not intelligent enough to debate with Luthor. Eventually, Superman sees the error of his ways and sacrifices himself to prevent the world from annihilation at the hands of Brainiac, thus conceding his power to Luthor.
With no opposition to him, Luthor achieves global domination, but this isn’t a bleak dystopia. Earth and the known universe prosper under Luthor’s reign. Disease, illness and even sleep are rendered obsolete. Governments are dissolved and replaced by a one-world parliament of writers, artists, scientists and philosophers. Life expectancy is increased to an astonishing 800 years. Humanity eventually becomes the most advanced species in history.
Red Son suggests that both Superman and Luthor could change the world significantly if one wasn’t in the way of the other. There is no doubt that this incarnation of President Luthor is the most hopeful and ambitious. His genius solves all of humanities problems but he can only do this once his Superman obsession has concluded.
Was Luthor a good President?
These three stories provided audiences with three differing takes on President Luthor, but they are all defined by his desire to eliminate Superman. In only one of these instances does he succeed, but even in that case it is Superman who truly wins, as he realizes his absence will be for the greater good. Unfortunately this is why Luthor can never truly be a good President. He is too consumed by his hatred of Superman, and any politician who has that much hatred and contempt in their heart should never thrive in such a position.
The Daughter of the Demon comes looking for her son in this exclusive first look at Super Sons #13.
Pete Tomasi is probably the definitive Damian Wayne writer at this point. Yes, Damian was introduced by Grant Morrison, and he retains a particularly Morrison feel, but Tomasi has been working with the kid for somewhere near 60 issues now. He's got a handle on the character, made him likeable outside of the grudgingly respectful relationship that Damian had with Dick Grayson. Seriously, Batman and Robin volume 2 is great comics, and the Two Face arc is one of my favorite Batman stories ever. Interestingly enough, though, for all the time Tomasi has spent with Damian, to the best of my knowledge, he's never written Talia, Damian's mother, before. Until this issue of Super Sons.
Super Sons has rounded into a fun book. It's a throwback, the kind of thing you might not hand to an early reader, but definitely to a new-to-comics tween. It feels like the kind of book that would be used to "um actually" someone complaining about how comics aren't for kids anymore - bright, superhero action steeped in the rich, wide DC Universe, with a perfectly easy point of entry for the reader. That point of entry being Jon Kent, Superboy. Damian is still a bit of a weiner, even after all the work Tomasi's put in making him enjoyable. That's kind of his point, I think.
Anyway, DC sent us a preview of Super Sons #13. Here's what they have to say about the issue.
SUPER SONS #13 Written by PETER J. TOMASIArt by CARLO BARBERICover by GIUSEPPE CAMUNCOLIVariant cover by DUSTIN NGUYEN“Mother’s Day” part one! Talia al Ghul returns for her son Damian, whom she trained from birth to be an assassin. With the evil in Robin’s past finally revealed to Superboy, it might be too much for the Sons’ partnership to survive…especially when the boys find out her next victim is one of the most important people in their lives!
I'm not one to swoon over variants, but I will buy the hell out of this Dustin Nguyen cover if it ever turns into a print *hint hint.* Take a look at it below:
March will see the final adventure of the Mighty Thor come to an end.
Years of Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman's work with Thor and Jane Foster are coming to a head in March's The Mighty Thor #705.
The Mighty Thor #705 is the penultimate issue of the arc titled "The Death of the Mighty Thor." Jane Foster has since the beginning of Aaron's time writing Asgard been battling cancer. When she became Thor, every time she switched between her normal self and her Asgardian god form, she would neutralize her chemo treatments.
Now, while all of Aaron's myriad storylines come to a head with all of Asgard battling Mangog (the collected hatred of billions of beings killed by Odin eons ago, and not a bizarre, ram-headed marital aid), it seems we're also going to see Jane's time wielding Mjolnir as a living person come to a close.
Here's the official synopsis:
The world of Mighty Thor and Odinson has been turned upside down, literally and figuratively -- the Mangog’s attack on Asgardia has left the realm, and the gods who inhabit it, decimated. And the Mangog isn’t done yet! While Odinson’s responsibility is to protect his people, Mighty Thormust make a choice: fight Mangog by picking up Mjolnir – which guarantees that Jane Foster will perish – or watch the world fall.
There is no choice…
Prepare yourself as Jane Foster picks up Mjolnir one last time in MIGHTY THOR #705, and witness the death of a hero!
But wait, says series editor Wil Moss. "Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman have been building to this issue for over three years...You may think you know where things are going, but I promise you do not." And with one issue to go in the arc after #705, it seems likely that there will be, if not a next chapter, at least a coda to Jane's story.
The Marvel version of the Valkyrior are a group of women who ride winged horses and guide Asgard's honored dead to Valhalla, where they get trashed and hunt all day. In addition to Brunnhilde, The Valkyrie of comics and Thor: Ragnarok fame, Danielle Moonstar of New Mutants fame has also been a member of the Valkyrior.
Check out the preview pages...
The Mighty Thor #705, by Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman is on sale on March 21.
Wondering where to start with Marvel's Black Panther comics? We've got you covered.
The unstoppable hype train has finally made the station: Black Panther is here, in what is maybe the most highly anticipated and certainly the best reviewed Marvel movie since the universe was created a decade ago. Ryan Coogler’s epic draws from a lot of sources from T’Challa’s sixty years of comics history, and fortunately for you, we’ve read most of it!
But where do you start with a character who has over 50 years of comic book history? We've got a guide for you...
Black Panther (2003)
This is probably the definitive run of Black Panther. This is where Wakanda stopped being backstory and started being a living, breathing place, with geography and politics and history that all contributed to its depth and beauty. It’s also where a bunch of what’s going on the screen started: Priest introduced Everett K. Ross and the Dora Milaje almost immediately in his first issue.
Priest had been separated from Marvel for several years before coming back to write this book under a separate, independent line within Marvel as the rest of the company went bankrupt around it. So he was given a lot of leeway to write the story he wanted to, and what came out was one of the greatest runs on any comic ever. Priest’s Black Panther was funny, complex, smart, timeless and yet very much of its time.
This run contains what could be my favorite single scene in comics history. After game playing by Klaw and a Deviant Eternal living outside of Atlantis brought Wakanda close to war with Atlantis, T’Challa heads to New York to meet with the UN. While there, he ends up in a tiny apartment, arguing realpolitik with Namor, Dr. Doom and Magneto. The interactions between the four of them, and the subtle character development of each that grew out of putting them in positions they didn’t normally occupy (Namor was actually fleetingly considering diplomacy! Doom was NOT trying to kill anyone for being Richarrrrrrdddds! Magneto actually saw he was the least powerful in the room so he turned peacemaker!). I’ll be chasing this scene in comics for the rest of my time reading them, I think.
Black Panther (2005)
Reginald Hudlin and John Romita Jr. dig into Wakandan history during their time on Black Panther. Wondering how previous Panthers interacted with the Marvel Universe? Want more detail on how and why Wakanda has never been conquered? This is your book.
Also, if you're looking for the definitive modern Klaw/Klaue vs. Panther story, this is it. Even the MCU's spelling of Klaue was taken from a historical sequence in this series. As the series went on, Shuri played a more crucial role, too...
Black Panther (2017)
If Priest was the first to give Wakanda a geography, and Hudlin a history, Coates is the first to make Wakanda a character in the story.
Ta-Nehisi Coates was a huge splash when he was hired. He was known mostly as a political thinker before he joined Marvel, dissecting issues of race and racism for broader audiences in the pages of The Atlantic or The New York Times. He brought the same level of thoughtfulness to his comics work: it’s obvious from reading that he hasn’t just thought about how T’Challa interacts with the world around him, but how Wakanda fits with the nations around it, how cultures overlap, or what cities go where according to Wakanda’s geography.
That’s not to say he’s giving us a geography textbook. It’s ALSO a politics textbook, with questions about the consent of the governed and an internal argument about why an advanced nation like Wakanda is stuck with a hereditary monarchy. That internal argument is carried out by two rogue Dora Milaje in mech suits, by the way.
Coates has been paired with stellar artists from the first issue, and has given us reunions of The Crew; a villains team of Obadiah Stane, Dr. Faustus, Klaw and Coates’ two new villains; and had T’Challa, Shuri and Manifold fighting the snake-headed byproduct of wars between the old gods. This book is outstanding.
Make no mistake: this ends up being a Reed Richards/Dr. Doom story, but it’s also very much a Black Panther story. It starts in New Avengers #1 in Wakanda, and ends with Secret Wars#8 in the same place.
While the main strand of the story follows Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic as they fail to figure out why the multiverse is collapsing, the second storyline looks at Black Panther and Namor as they try and make the hard decisions to protect the others from having to make them. In this case, the hard decisions involve blowing up Earths full of people.
This run came on the heels of the dreadful Avengers vs. X-Men, where Namor, all hopped up on the Phoenix Force, destroyed huge chunks of Wakanda. Their conflict simmered through this whole story before finally resolving itself on Battleworld in one of the best battles in comics history. This Black Panther story is absolutely worth reading.
Dig a little deeper...
Movie fans wondering where Erik Killmonger came from might want to check out Panther's Rage. The first truly great Black Panther solo story is a little beholden to 1970s comic book style, but Don McGregor told what was a genuinely epic T'Challa solo adventure, and began to flesh out Wakanda in new and inventive ways. And don't forget about Panther co-creator Jack Kirby's return to the character in the mid-70s, which might feel a little odd for movie fans, but it's still the King working on the King.
Deadpool 2’s Ryan Reynolds injects some ultraviolent levity into the lives of cancer-stricken children in some set photos.
Deadpool 2– or whatever the Deadpool sequel will ultimately be titled – continues one of the most creative promotional strategies ever implemented for a film. However, star Ryan Reynolds has released some set photos that transcend mere promotion, showcasing the power that the lewd, crude Marvel superhero possesses when it comes to enlivening the emotional resolve of a brigade of brave children who are battling cancer.
While the social media stylings of star Ryan Reynolds typically consists of insanely irreverent Deadpool material, he used his role as the Merc with a Mouth, in this instance, to pull on some figurative heartstrings (perhaps saving the pulling of literal ones for the movie,) with some inspirational photos showing a Deadpool 2 set visit of children from Make-A-Wish Foundation and its Canadian counterpart, Children’s Wish Foundation.
One of the best parts of playing the Big Red Jackass is welcoming @makeawishamerica and @childrenswishfoundation onto set. Deadpool kicked Cancer in the taint, but these kids do it for real every day. These foundations make dreams come true for a lot of of super-brave kids. They also make dreams come true for parents, who just wanna see their kid smile. HUGE thanks to our Prop Master, Dan Sissons, for making sure every kid left with his/her own sword. (Bamboo versions. Not stabby-stabby versions.) %uD83C%uDDE8%uD83C%uDDE6%u2694%uFE0F
Expressing his admiration in a Deadpool-like way, Reynolds, who calls the opportunity to welcome the kids as “one of the best parts of playing the Big Red Jackass,” states:
“Deadpool kicked Cancer in the taint, but these kids do it for real every day. These foundations make dreams come true for a lot of super-brave kids. They also make dreams come true for parents, who just wanna see their kid smile.”
In addition to some amazing interactions with the kids, Reynolds and the Deadpool 2 production was able to provide each of the visitors with an amazing memento in the form of prop replicas of Deadpool’s katanas, signed by the star himself. For this colossally cool bit of swag, Reynolds expressed his gratitude, stating:
“HUGE thanks to our Prop Master, Dan Sissons, for making sure every kid left with his/her own sword. (Bamboo versions. Not stabby-stabby versions.)”
Of course, the $783 million global box office success of 2016’s original Deadpool was seen as a groundbreaking achievement because of its non-family-friendly nature, along with its status as an unapologetically R-rated outing that's rife with nudity and just about every crass concept one could imagine. Thus, the narrative questioning the wisdom of having children visit the set to its equally iniquitous sequel has been raised. Consequently, Reynolds addressed one such critic on Facebookin a post that was subsequently deleted– which, in turn, deleted Reynolds’s response. Addressing the R-rated issue, Reynolds states:
“Yup. Deadpool is Rated R. If my kid went through a fraction of the sh*t these kids deal with daily, I think they can watch whatever they like. That’s just my .02 cents.”
Indeed, the adult-driven marketing of Deadpool 2 still doesn’t mitigate the fact that many children do get to see R-rated movies; a generally unspoken idea that has always been the case. That idea is complemented by the fact that Deadpool is currently one of the most popular characters in the published pages of Marvel Comics. Moreover, the story of Deadpool is one that’s close to home, and it’s easy to see how children affected by cancer can draw inspiration from the (admittedly fantastical) story of Reynolds’s Wade Wilson, whose own bout with malignancy led to an amazing – though aesthetically unappealing – metamorphosis into Deadpool, who, despite his hardships, fights the good fight (and the fourth wall,) in an insanely humorous – albeit homicidal – manner.
Deadpool 2 (official title to be revealed,) will make its way to theaters on May 18.
Eric "Slowhand" Clapton hand-picked the best musicians to ease addiction at the Crossroads Guitar Festivals.
Former Cream, Yardbirds and Derek and the Dominos guitarist Eric Clapton had a lot of musical friends. He played and partied with them, breaking strings and sharing riffs and spliffs. The rock and roll lifestyle caught up with a lot of the musicians when they got home from the road. Clapton also shared his curative paradise, the Crossroads Centre for drug treatment in Antigua, which he opened with Richard Conte, CEO of The Priory Hospitals Group. To pay the piper, Clapton founded the Crossroads Guitar Festival. Genesis Publications commemorates the the Crossroads Guitar Festivals, 1999-2013, with Sunshine Of Your Love: Eric Clapton and Friends. The limited edition book and record set will be available for shipping in May 2018.
Clapton personally selected the guitarists who played the Crossroads Guitar Festivals. He invited Bob Dylan, Keith Richards, Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow, Doyle Bramhall II, Jimmie Vaughan, James Taylor, Joe Walsh, Buddy Guy and B.B. King.
"One by one, my heroes would eventually be in the same room with me. What do we do? We just play, play our hearts out," Clapton remembers in the book.
The first concert was held on June 30, 1999, at Madison Square Garden in New York City, which also hosted the show in 2013. "It was really special playing Madison Square Garden. It was amazing to be in New York City with all those cats and all that music," Gary Clark Jr. remembers in the book. The 2004 concert was held at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, 2007 and 2010 festivals were held at Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Illinois, just outside Chicago.
"Eric's been such a great person for guitar players,” remembers Buddy Guy. “Anybody would be happy to be a part of this."
The book documents Clapton's work in the Yardbirds, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and Cream. Whole pages are dedicated to the history of the slide guitar, from Elmore James to Duane Allman, and to the continuing significance of the Chicago bluesmen. Blues legends like B.B King, Johnny Winter and Buddy Guy, as well as newer guitar virtuosos, such as John Mayer and Gary Clark Jr., recount the history of guitar music, from blues to country, from jazz to rock 'n' roll.
Sunshine Of Your Love: Eric Clapton and Friends includes an exclusive 7" vinyl picture disc that includes a performance of “Wonderful Tonight” from the first benefit concert in 1999, and “Got To Get Better In A Little While” performed at the final Crossroads in 2013.
Sunshine Of Your Love: Eric Clapton and Friends was handcrafted in Milan, Italy, the 1,650 collector copies are quarter bound in leather with foil blocking and silver page edging. The 36,000-word book features archival photos and exclusive interviews with Clapton and the performers, each numbered copy is signed by at least three legendary Crossroads musicians.
Sunshine Of Your Love: Eric Clapton and Friends will be ready for shipping starting in May 2018.
Much has been made of the MCU's villain problem, but the franchise's true weakness lies in its uneven attempts at romance.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has often been criticized for its less-than-memorable villains. With a few exceptions, crafting compelling villain-types isn't the franchise's strong suit. However, the MCU is increasingly guilty of another weakness: its half-hearted romances, an issue that isn't entirely unrelated to its unwillingness to give female characters the character development that would make the MCU a stronger narrative universe.
Take Captain America: Civil War, for example. While critical consensus deemed this movie a success, in the weeks following its release, there were several great think pieces about the inorganic romance between Steve Rogers and Sharon Carter as one of the film's only glaring weaknesses. It's not hard to understand why: the relationship is shoehorned into a movie that already has enough to do without the added pressure of having to awkwardly reinforce the heteronormativity of the MCU.
Sharon has more interesting things to do as a character than kiss Steve. She is grieving her aunt, following her moral compass in helping Steve find Bucky, and trying to juggle all of this while also working as a CIA agent. It sucks that her role is instead forced into a romantic relationship when it doesn't have to be, when there are so many other rich relationship possibilities.
Awesomely-named Tumblr user Comte De La Done With the World wonders what Captain America: Civil War would have looked like if it had prioritized a relationship between Tony Stark and Peggy Carter — whose friendship is canon in both Captain America: The First Avenger as well as Agent Carter — and, therefore, a relationship between Tony Stark and Sharon Carter. They write:
You mean to tell me that in the seventy years Steve was gone, Peggy, who was one of Howard’s closest friends, wasn’t a part of Tony’s life growing up? ... Give me Tony Stark and Sharon Carter at Peggy’s funeral talking about their Aunt Peggy and everything she worked so hard to build and everything she did for them. Also give me Sharon Carter who is no one’s token love interest, who didn’t tell Steve who she was because actually it’s no one’s business.
Rather than this not-so-hard-to-imagine narrative, Sharon's character (and Peggy's character, for that matter) was forced to exist almost exclusively within the narrow MCU lane designed for "romantic interests," a lane that is getting narrower and less interesting as the MCU progresses.
Steve and Sharon's relationship is only one example of the series of lackluster romances that has partially defined the MCU. A film franchise that previously had underwhelming villains as its weakest narrative element, but has since moved onto "clumsy, forced romances" as one of its weakest narrative elements.
Let's look at the evidence by ranking the canon romances (sorry, Stucky) of the MCU.
Ranking the romances of the MCU.
12. Stephen & Christine (Doctor Strange)
Congratulations, Thor and Jane! You are no longer the worst romance in the MCU. That dubious honor goes to Doctor Strange's Stephen and Christine. Stephen's main character trait is self-involved arrogance, so you can imagine how hard it is to ship him with anyone, let alone the long-suffering Rachel McAdams, who seems doomed to a career of thankless roles as love interests who ground the needy men in their lives with an infinite degree of understanding.
This trope is on full display in Christine's relationship with Stephen, which peaks in a scene in which Stephen mansplains his own surgery to the highly-qualified emergency surgeon Christine. Though Marvel claims this relationship was changed from a romance to a subversion of that trope, making them ex-lovers instead, that doesn't exactly come across on screen. Christine is still completely defined as a love interest for Stephen and by her endless ability to provide his character emotional support. Rachel McAdams deserves far, far better. So do us fans.
11. Thor & Jane Foster (Thor)
Guys, can we all admit that the Thor/Jane romance is so boring? It's so boring that, when it was announced that Natalie Portman wouldn't be returning for Thor: Ragnarok, most people's reaction was basically: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. This is the actress who had been in both previous Thor films as the main romantic interest and female lead. That's not good.
This ambivalence is not Portman's fault (though, as Attack of the Clones demonstrates, while Portman has many skills as an actress, overcoming under-written romances is not one of them). This actress has some hard, thinly-veiled damsel-in-distress tropes to deal with in Jane's character. This is especially true in The Dark World, where Jane passes out during her escape from Asgard with Thor and Loki. That is how not-invested in this plot Jane is. Just when things start get interesting, she opts out.
Thor and Jane's relationship is not an organic one based on on-screen chemistry or artful writing. It is the most blatant example of Because They're A Thing in the Comics, but not even the giddy-making degree to which Darcy Lewis ships Thor and Jane can make us care about this chemistry-less romance.
10. Steve Rogers & Sharon Carter (Civil War)
I'm not going to spend much time rehashing this one as it got some play in the intro, but will reiterate that this "romance" is totally unnecessary within the larger plot. This movie has about one million more interesting things to do than explore a romance between Steve and Sharon.
Best case interpretation of their kiss: this is a boring pairing that nobody asked for and Marvel spent almost no time developing. It's an obligatory nod to the romantic history of their comic book counterparts. Worst case interpreation of their kiss: this is MCU's homophobic reaction to Stucky shippers in a movie where Steve chooses Bucky above all else. Either way, it's a disappointing storytelling decision.
9. Bruce Banner & Natasha Romanov (Age of Ultron)
The romance between Bruce and Natasha explored in Age of Ultron has similar problems to the romance between Steve and Sharon in Civil War. It feels like it was hatched not out of a natural, well-developed chemistry between these two characters, but rather the idea that someone in this movie should have a romance.
The romance between Bruce and Natasha works a bit better than the one between Steve and Sharon, however, because we have seen much more interaction between their two characters. Natasha is the one who S.H.I.E.L.D. sends to retrieve Bruce in The Avengers, and the two have some interesting conversations about the responsibility of having the skillset (or brute strength, in Bruce's case) to murder someone.
In another, less busy movie, perhaps this romance could have worked, but, as part of an already-overstuffed Age of Ultron, it felt like an unnecessary distraction.
8. Vision & Wanda (Civil War)
Besides Steve and Sharon, the other burgeoning romance in Civil War is the one between Vision and Wanda. This might be a controversial one to add to the list given that it isn't technically canon, but it seems like a romance the MCU is building, so I'm gonna go with it. I liked a lot of the Vision/Wanda interaction in Civil War. These two characters are both outsiders feared by the world — including some people they consider friends. This forges a believable bond. I'll bite, Marvel.
7. Peter & Liz (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
While it's obvious that Peter and Mary Jane are actually endgame here, Liz Allan is the person Peter has a massive crush on in his MCU standalone debut.
Unlike most of the other romances on this list, the high school flirtation between Peter and Liz is played with relatively low stakes—though it does tie into an extremely high-stakes situation, that is really more about Peter's role as a superhero, rather than as a high school boy trying to go with the girl he likes to the homecoming dance. This gives the relationship more room to breathe, and makes it feel more realistic. This isn't a life-or-death, star-crossed love situation; it's just two sweet, well-intentioned high school kids who like each other.
By the end of the film, it's obvious things are not going to work out between these two, but Spider-Man: Homecoming does something incredibly smart by treating Liz like a real, complex person, and giving her a moment of angry empathy during their, for want of a better descriptor, break-up scene. Liz doesn't let Peter off the hook for how he treated her, but she also recognizes that he is someone with a lot of difficult issues to work through. It's a moment of complex humanity that MCU doesn't usually award its female love interests.
6. Peter Quill & Gamora (Guardians of the Galaxy)
Like Vision and Wanda and Scott and Hope before them, Peter and Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy haven't really happened yet — and maybe that's why all three of the aforementioned romances are so much better developed than the Steve and Sharon or Bruce and Natashas of the MCU?
Guardians of the Galaxy isn't in any rush to get these two together, and their relationship has, thus far, felt much more organic because of that fact. In the first film, they are reluctant allies from opposite sides of the galaxy who actually have a lot in common when they stop to chat about it. Not that they have much time to chat about it. This is an action adventure film, after all. Rather than get them together in the sequel, which would have been the predictable thing to do, Marvel continues to play it slow with these two.
In a Facebook live video Q&A, director James Gunn said of the reason why the two didn't kiss in Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2:
"[Gamora] is not someone who is going to just give in to the moment of a lustful, passionate moment. That's just not who she is. But what she did do: She loves Peter Quill. That's very obvious at the end movie. And she admits that to him and their love is based on something much deeper than sex. It's based on a profound friendship between the two of them. They are the heads of this family in a lot of ways."
5. Bruce Banner & Betty Ross (The Incredible Hulk)
It says a lot about the competitiveness of this list that Bruce and Betty managed to make it into the top four. The Incredible Hulk was a pretty forgettable movie (although not, actually, a terrible one) — so much so that most people generally forget it's technically a part of the MCU (something Marvel sometimes seems to actively encourage).
That being said, The Incredible Hulk is arguably the standalone installment that most integrates a love story into its central plot, with Bruce and Betty going on the run together from General Ross, Betty's father (who, yes, also showed up in Captain America: Civil War). Rather than most of the other MCU romances, Betty and Bruce don't meet in The Incredible Hulk, but rather catch back up after a period of Hulk-induced estrangement. This is a good narrative cheat for crafting a convincing romance between two characters when you don't have a lot of time.
Cons of this romance include the fact that Liv Tyler's Betty doesn't really get to be a character outside of her identity as Bruce's love interest. It's also kind of awkward that Bruce has mentioned nothing of Betty in his later, Avengers-based appearances as Mark Ruffalo.
4. Scott Lang & Hope van Dyne (Ant-Man)
Scott and Hope have a relatively traditional action film romance. Hope kind of hates Scott. Banter, banter, banter. She eventually sees through his tough guy persona to the heart of gold underneath. They eventually admit that they kinda, sorta have a thing for each other. It's totally watchable, especially because Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly are charming actors.
It helps that Hope has a lot going on character-wise. Part of the reason she first dislikes Scott is because she justifiably sees him filling a role that she is arguably much more qualified to fill. She is a female MCU character who knows her worth (Peggy Carter would be proud). And Scott is man enough to admit that Hope is a terrifying badass. Even before they fall for each other, he respects her. There's not enough of that in movie romance.
3. T'Challa & Nakia (Black Panther)
The romance between T'Challa and Nakia is gloriously subtle and organic in Black Panther. While these two were once together, they broke up sometime before the start of the film—not because they don't love one another, but because Nakia couldn't stand to stay in an isolationist Wakanda when there are people all over the world who need her help. It's a very mature, not at all contrived reason to keep these two apart.
Given that much of this movie takes place in the direct aftermath of T'Chaka's death and T'Challa is busy both grieving his father and trying to hold onto the throne, there isn't much time for the rekindling of romance. Instead, we get a chance to see the depth of love and respect these two have for one another. It is Nakia, along with Erik, who convince T'Challa to change Wakanda's historic policy of staying largely uninvolved from the rest of the world—a mark of how much T'Challa respects his friend and ex-lover.
T'Challa obviously adores Nakia (who wouldn't?) and it will be exciting to see how Nakia's character continues to contribute to the rich world of Black Panther and of the larger MCU.
2. Steve Rogers & Peggy Carter (The First Avenger)
This is another MCU romance that gives us a well-realized female character who has ambitions and character traits outside of her romance with Steve Rogers. It helps that Peggy Carter has appeared in her own TV show (R.I.P., Agent Carter) and one-shot before that, in addition to appearing in both Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: Civil War (she also appears as a hallucination-dream in Age of Ultron).
From the very beginning, the dynamic between Peggy and Steve was something special because Peggy was better realized than most other female characters in the MCU put together. (The Captain America films tend to do a better job with female characters than other narrative strains of the MCU. Exhibit B: Natasha's arc in The Winter Soldier.)
Peggy knew and cared for pre-serum Steve as much as she did for post-serum Steve and, even after they were separated, kept his legacy alive (don't tell me you didn't tear up while Steve was watching her Smithsonian interview). After he woke up in the 21st century, Steve visited an ailing Peggy in her nursing home presumably on a fairly regular basis. If that's not love, then I don't know what is.
(Well, love is literally starting a war to save your best friend, but I'm not here to make Steve — or you — choose.)
1. Tony Stark & Pepper Potts (Iron Man)
The MCU banter-filled romance that started them all. Unlike all of the other choices on the list, the relationship between Tony and Pepper has not only been well-developed, but sustained over the course of three films (with an additional scene in Spider-Man: Homecoming!). It's sad that we haven't gotten to see as much of these two together, as Gwyneth Paltrow hasn't appeared in the last few Avengers-filled movies, but this seems poised to change with Infinity War.
It's particularly interesting to think about the importance of this relationship within the context of Civil War. It's hard to imagine Tony going off the deep-end quite so quickly or thoroughly if things with Pepper were good. Let's not forget that he starts his Civil War character arc not just with the reminder of his parents' untimely death or his interaction with a grieving mother, but also with the notable absence of Pepper.
From the very first Iron Man film, Pepper has been the person Tony can and does most rely on. It's what gave that first film so much heart (the film really makes a point of driving that heart metaphor home). The first Iron Man film is given a lot of credit for its humor, action, and tone, but I don't think enough people pay attention to how good the romance — which is to say, interpersonal drama — is in Iron Man.
When Tony Stark is at his most obnoxious and unlikeable, Pepper is the audience surrogate character, reminding us to give this man time and patience to become the hero he can be. People like to speculate if the MCU would be where it is today if Iron Man had sucked/flopped. I think a poorly-realized romance might have served that purpose.
What's the MCU to do?
Marvel has to make a decision: either include romances that get proper development or eschew romantic subplots altogether. The former choice would be preferable, at least in my book. The comic books these superhero stories are adapted from so often have iconic romantic relationships (not that I would say no to a well-developed, non-comic book canon relationship). When done right, romantic storylines are a good excuse (though not the only one) for the kind of complex interpersonal drama that all too often gets de-prioritized in major action blockbusters with so many other concerns.
Either way, the MCU needs to figure out a way to include more, better-developed female characters. It's kind of an ongoing joke that Marvel doesn't know how to treat female fans. It's not all that funny because, unfortunately, it's mostly true.
(Pro tip: We like good writing, solid characterization, and well-choreographed fight scenes — just like the man-people do.)
We also just want to see ourselves reflected on screen through a diverse representation of female characters (as in: roughly half of the cast — you know, just like in real life) who actually get to do stuff. And not just romance stuff (though some romance stuff, too, please).
Personally, I find Natasha Romanov's character arc in The Winter Soldier much more interesting and better articulated than her character arc in Age of Ultron, which is largely shoehorned into a romance with Bruce Banner. The former is a great example of what male-female friendship can look like, and a story arc that laid a solid foundation for Steve and Natasha's relationship in Civil War — a character dynamic that was about a million times more interesting than the apparently romantic one between Steve and Sharon.
This isn't because non-romantic plotlines are inherently more interesting, complex, or valuable than romantic ones. It's because, all too often, when female characters are given a romantic purpose within a narrative, that romantic identity is all they get to be. This is not only lazy characterization and storytelling, but a dangerous idea to continually reinforce for the girls, boys, men, and women watching these mainstream stories. It's the kind of cultural pattern that leads to men thinking that a woman's purpose in real life is to serve their needs and desires. It's the kind of cultural pattern that makes girls and women think that, too.
Marvel should start with hiring more female writers. There's a correlation between the lack of female heroines and underdeveloped female characters in MCU and the fact that, of the 21 writers who have been credited with penning the 13 MCU films so far, only one of them has been a woman: Nicole Perlman, the co-scriptwriter of Guardians of the Galaxy. (For five glorious minutes, I thought the number of female scriptwriters in the MCU might be two, before I realized that Ashley Edward Miller, aka a co-scriptwriter of Thor, is, in fact a man.)
The first film that will have an exclusively female writing team is 2019's Captain Marvel — aka the first MCU film that will have a female lead (because women can only write for female characters). The MCU's romance problem isn't unrelated to its female character problem. When your best developed characters are almost exclusively men, and you insist on staying within heteronormative lines, then your romances are probably going to lack depth.
There seems to be a common idea in the Hollywood dream factory board rooms, like the ones where MCU film plots are pieced together from cut up comic books and the not-tears of fragile masculinity, that women only want to watch movies that have romance in them. The way I break this down is two-fold: It's not that we enjoy the romantic genre above all others (though some of us do, as do some men). It's that we are socialized to understand the world through the interpersonal relationships we are expected to nurture, understand, and prioritize in our own lives.
As a culture, women are often tasked with doing a significant majority of the emotional labor communities, families, and even workplaces rely on. To women (and men) who are socialized to do this emotional labor, stories that explore the complex, all-important web of interpersonal relationships are fascinating. They reflect the world as we have been socialized to see it. They are cathartic and representative in a way that stories should be. When a story is devoid of nuanced interpersonal drama, I am personally less interested in it as a viewer — and I think that many women (and men socialized to value the interpersonal) feel the same way.
This desire to see more stories that prioritize interpersonal themes and drama often gets conflated into romance by male creators who either don't understand or don't prioritize the nuance and richness of this kind of storytelling. There are so many different ways to explore the world of the interpersonal. Romance is one of them, but it is just a small sliver of the larger storytelling possibilities. The sooner mainstream storytellers understand this, the better for everyone.
The Den of Geek Book Club is a place to geek out about our favorite science fiction, fantasy, and horror books.
We have launched a Den of Geek Book Club as a place to recommend, discuss, and obsess over our favorite fantasy, science fiction, and horror books. Join us in discussing our latest pick...
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.
Head over to our Den of Geek Book Club page to join in the discussion! And stay tuned for more Binti content over the next month, including a review of the third novella in the Binti series: The Night Masquerade.
December/January Pick: The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
The City of Brass, S.A. Chakraborty's debut novel, is the start of a rich, imaginative new historical fantasy series. Set in the 18th-century Middle East, The City of Brass follows Nahri, a young woman living in Cairo who gets pulled into a magical world of djinn, and Ali, a young prince living in the djinn city of Daevabad.
The dual perspective narrative follows both young people as they try to navigate a world of complex political and cultural allegiances where the interpersonal often clashes with the political in ways that threaten to tear them apart.
Head over to our Den of Geek Book Club page to join in the discussion! And stay tuned for more The City of Brass content throughout the following month, including an interview with author S.A. Chakraborty.
November/December Pick: Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
Our second book club pick was Autonomous, by Annalee Newitz, a science fiction story of robots, pirates, and identity in the year 2144.
Autonomous is a gutting tale that follows robot Paladin and drug pirate Jack as they fight for identity, autonomy, love, and freedom in a world where people can be owned and big pharmaceutical companies have immense power. (There, um, may be some parallels to our own world...)
Want to take part in the discussion? Head over to the Den of Geek Book Club on Goodreads to see what kind of discussion happened around the book, and feel free to join in. Or listen to our podcast interview with Annalee Newitz.
October/November Pick: The Name of the Wind
Our first Den of Geek Book Club book was The Name of the Wind, the first book in Patrick Rothfuss'Kingkiller Chronicle trilogy.
I know, I know. This book came out a long time ago. However, it just celebrated its 10th anniversary, complete with a gorgeous 10th anniversary edition from DAW. It will soon be turned into a movie and TV show, with musical producer support from Kingkiller Chronicle superfan Lin-Manuel Miranda.
In other words, whether this is your first time reading or your 15th, it's a great time to discuss this modern fantasy classic! Head over to our Goodreads Book Club page to see what kind of discussion happened around The Name of the Wind, and to add your own thoughts on this modern fantasy classic.
Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston developed Amazon's TV adaptation of non-fiction guidebook The Dangerous Book for Boys.
The Dangerous Book for Boys may brandish a title that sounds like an Atomic Age Cub Scouts guide, but the upcoming Amazon Prime series – based on a popular 2007 British book – was co-developed for TV by Bryan Cranston, arriving as an intriguing peak television offering that combines the poignant dramatic element of grief with pure unadulterated imagination.
The Dangerous Book for Boys Trailer
While the series adapts the 2007 non-fiction book by Conn and Hal Iggulden, The Dangerous Book for Boys trailer showcases an Amazon series that centers on a fictional story that’s put through the lens of the book’s themes.
The Dangerous Book for Boys focuses on a young man named Wyatt (Gabriel Bateman) and his brothers, Dash (Drew Powell) and Liam (Kyan Zielinsky), who are reeling in the aftermath of the death of their father (Chris Diamantopoulos). Hoping to bring about a bit of joy, their grieving mother (Kevin Can Wait castoff Erinn Hayes) hands Wyatt an heirloom in the form of a copy of The Dangerous Book for Boys. However, in a Jumanji-like manner, the how-to book transports Wyatt into a fantasy world with changing themes in which he is somehow reunited with his late father, who teaches him practical life skills that the book endows and, presumably becoming a more whole person in the real world as a result.
The Dangerous Book for Boys Release Date
The Dangerous Book for Boys will release its six-episode debut season on Amazon Prime on March 30.
The Dangerous Book for Boys Details
While the aura of a legendary television starring role on AMC’s Breaking Bad still emanates strong from Bryan Cranston, he’s also become quite industrious with the behind-the-scenes chemistry of the industry as a producer on Amazon projects like the sci-fi anthology series Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams and drama Sneaky Pete. Now, it seems that his working relationship with the retail monolith/streaming platform will continue with the comedy series The Dangerous Book for Boys. Cranston co-created the Dangerous Book project with Superbad director Greg Mottola during the 2014/2015 season. The series will arrive under the production banners of Amazon Studios and Sony Pictures Television, Dangerous Book arrives as six half-hour episodes.
Interestingly, The Dangerous Book for Boys’ classification as an “adaptation” pushes some limits, since its source material, Conn and Hal Iggulden’s 2007 book, has no real plot to adapt, existing earnestly as a cheeky guidebook that actually teaches young men real-life skills during a modern age when computers, video games, television and movies have facilitated a more sedentary, detached generation who lack the kind of practical skills that older generations were raised to possess.
In a tidbit that Breaking Bad fans might find interesting, Dangerous Book first blipped Cranston’s radar during the time of that show when his co-star and onscreen wife, Anna Gunn, gave him a copy, telling him, “this reminds me of you!” While Cranston’s only child is a daughter (Sweet/Vicious actress Taylor Dearden), the boy book resonated with him and, in an interview with IndieWire, he described his epiphany for the TV concept, stating:
“There is no plot and there are no characters in the book. It’s a guide to how to embrace boyhood: How to build a fort, how to talk to a girl, what are the rules in baseball, what are the great battles in history. But there is no show. I was in Boston [performing ‘All the Way’] and running along the Charles River when all of a sudden it popped into my head how to crack this story!”
Indeed, The Dangerous Book for Boys has become quite the passion project for Cranston, who came close to a TV deal with NBC back in September 2016 before the Peacock Network ultimately passed. With the book by the Iggulden siblings already an Amazon bestselling hit that was only contemporaneously outsold by mega-fiction-franchise closer Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it will certainly be interesting to see how the tongue-in-cheek, yet educational approach of Dangerous Book will translate to a television comedy.
The Magicians meets Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy in this Cold War fantasy novel in which the Berlin Wall is made of magic...
We have an exclusive first look at the cover for Breach, an upcoming alternative history fantasy novel that reimagines the Berlin Wall as built by Soviet magicians. It's being described as The Magicians meets Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which sounds amazing and fits right in with the recent resurgence in pop culture interest surrounding the Cold War period.
"The Berlin Wall's magic was supposed to last forever..." reads the tagline on the cover. We're already deeply intrigued by this premise, and this electrifying cover, with a line of light representing the magical Berlin Wall dividing the city, is just icing on the cake. Check it out...
Breach, a Cold War Magic Novel, is the first for author W.L. Goodwater, who lives with his wife and son on the coast. In addition to his writing, Goodwater designs software and teaches fencing.
Here's the full, official synopsis from Ace, the imprint publishing the novel:
AFTER THE WAR, THE WALL BROUGHT AN UNEASY PEACE.
When Soviet magicians conjured an arcane Wall to blockade occupied Berlin, the world was outraged, but let it stand for the sake of peace. Now after ten years of fighting with spies instead of spells, the CIA has discovered the unthinkable:
THE WALL IS FAILING.
While refugees and soldiers mass along the border, operatives from East and West converge on the most dangerous city in the world to stop the crisis or take advantage of it.
Karen, a young magician with the American Office of Magical Research and Deployment, is sent to investigate the breach in the Wall and see if it can be fixed. Instead she will discover that the truth is elusive in this divided city, and that even magic itself has its own agenda.
THE TRUTH OF THE WALL IS ABOUT TO BE REVEALED.
Breach hits the shelves on November 6th, 2018, just a few days before the 29th anniversary of the Berlin Wall falling.
Screenwriter Elan Mastai's debut novel is the perfect genre read for anyone who worries they're in The Darkest Timeline.
All Our Wrong Todays, screenwriter Elan Mastai's debut novel, could not have come out at a topical time. The time travel story's protagonist, Tom Barren, doesn't have to wonder if he is living in the wrong timeline. He knows he is. After all, he was the one who messed it up.
Tom comes from an alternate utopian timeline where retrofuturist ideas like flying cars actually came to be. It is only through his own irresponsible time travel machinations that our present was formed. I'll leave you, dear reader, to decide if it is The Darkest Timeline or not.
There's something slightly comforting, not to mention generically clever, about spending time in a fictional reality where our timeline is the "wrong" one. The conceit casts All Our Wrong Todays' often unlikable protagonist as our closest confidante. Or, more accurately, we're his closest confidante. It is unsettling, at times, to be so strapped to such a self-indulgent, thoughtless narrator. As the book progresses, Tom begins to gain some perspective on how his actions affect others, but it literally takes him diverting history for the lesson to sink in. A self-centered privileged man with the power to change history and the perspective of a grasshopper: another topical element of this book.
A self-aware "memoir," All Our Wrong Todays has an unusual structure for a time travel novel. It has the tenor of an oral story, but the ambitious plot and worldbuilding of a much more traditional science fiction tome. The book has been described in some places as a sci-fi novel for those who don't necessarily like science fiction. It has a literary bent, and is more akin to something like The Time Traveler's Wife than The Time Machine.
Mastai does a good job capturing the inherent tragedy in time travel and the realities of life not even temporal shenanigans can cure: losing your youthful energy, losing your loved ones, losing your life. But it is trying to tell a much larger-scale story than a story like The Time Traveler's Wife, and it loses something intimate in the proces, despite its memoir-like format.
Like his script for romantic comedy What If, Mastai's strength is not in characterization or character dynamics so much as big ideas and existential questioning. What makes a successful life? What makes a successful timeline?
UnlikeWhat If's main character, Tom has a much better reason for being upset at the world (or, in this case, the multiverse) and the relative lack of depth or detail in the connection between Tom and his lady love Penny comes with a reason that holds weight — though one I cannot elaborate here as it is one of the big twists that fly at you in this book's roller coaster of a final act.
All Our Wrong Todays sets itself up to say some grand, insightful things about the nature of our reality versus other possible ones, but never fully delivers. However, it does succeed as a fun, fast-paced, thought-provoking ride — the perfect novel for someone looking to indulge in the possibility that this is not the world we were supposed to grow into.