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    Nicholas Hoult will star in a biopic on J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Nov 15, 2017

    While the major works of John Ronald Reuel (J.R.R.) Tolkien were adapted in an epic manner in contemporary film by director Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and, years later, in The Hobbit Trilogy, a film is now in development that will cover another story connected to the influential author: his own life story. While the biopic, titled Tolkien, has been in the pipeline for a few years, things are now moving rapidly, with not only the appointment of director Dome Karukoski, but its main cast, which will be headlined by Nicholas Hoult and Lily Collins.

    Tolkien Biopic News

    Craig Roberts has nabbed a potential key role in Tolkien, reports Variety. He is set to play a character named Sam, a close friend of J.R.R.’s who served with the would-be Middle Earth-maker during the horrific, trench-trapped experiences of World War I. Of course, the name Sam will certainly raise flags for fans of Tolkien’s work, since, by no coincidence, it is the shortened name of Frodo’s unflinchingly loyal companion, Samwise Gamgee, in The Lord of the Rings, a character portrayed in director Peter Jackson's film trilogy to iconic, pathos-packed perfection by Sean Astin.

    Roberts, a Welsh actor, is coming off a recently-completed run on the Amazon comedy series Red Oaks, with appearances in films such as The Fundamentals of Caring, 22 Jump Street, Neighbors, Submarine and The First Time. Interestingly, Tolkien will facilitate an onscreen reunion, since Roberts appeared opposite star Nicholas Hoult in the 2015 musical comedy film Kill Your Friends.

    Tolkien Biopic Cast

    Nicholas Hoult takes the biopic's title role, set to play one the 20th century's most celebrated authors. While Hoult has become a perennial blockbuster actor, playing Hank McCoy/Beast in the current X-Men films and was a catchphrase-coining standout in 2015’s apocalyptic franchise revival Mad Max: Fury Road, this prospective role in Tolkien won’t even be his first experience playing a famous author, having played the role of the reclusive J.D. Salinger in September’s Rebel in the Rye. Hoult’s historical role run will also manifest with December’s The Current War in which he plays Nikola Tesla opposite Benedict Cumberbatch’s Thomas Edison. Another return as Marvel's Beast in X-Men: Dark Phoenix arrives in fall 2018.

    Lily Collins has been cast opposite Nicholas Hoult in Tolkien, the J.R.R. Tolkien biopic. The news was broken by Variety, which revealed Collins will play Edith Bratt, the love of Tolkien's life. She was a central figure in his life during the horrors of the First World War and would eventually become his wife, who in turn inspired Tolkien to create the graceful elvin characters of Middle-earth, including Arwen, the character played by Liv Tyler in Peter Jackson's adaptation of Lord of the Rings.

    Colm Meaney will join the Tolkien cast, reports Deadline. He will play a crucial figure in the life of J.R.R. in Father Francis Xavier Morgan. An overseer of the Birmingham Oratory, Morgan was frequently cited in Tolkien’s memoirs as a profoundly influential figure in his life, specifically when it came to charity and forgiveness amidst the darkest of circumstances; themes that are reflected in his Middle Earth novels.

    Meaney, a veteran Irish actor, has seen and done it all on the screen and stage. Yet, he is best known to genre fans from the Star Trek television franchise as (transporter) Chief Miles O’Brien, first recurring on Star Trek: The Next Generation (starting in the pilot,) and later crossing over to the main cast of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; a role that, astoundingly, lasted 12 years (1987-1999,) uninterrupted. He recently appeared on TNT’s young Shakespeare series, Will, as impresario James Burbage. He also fielded a lengthy, fact-based, 2011-2016 run as the shady, yet enigmatic railroad entrepreneur, Thomas Durant, on AMC's Hell on Wheels.

    Tolkien Biopic Crew

    Dome Karukoski will direct Tolkien, working off a script by David Gleeson (The Front Line, Cowboys & Angels) and actor-turned-writer Stephen Beresford (Pride). The Finnish director Karukoski is known for films from his home country such as 2017’s Tom of Finland, 2014’s The Grump and 2010’s Lapland Odyssey. With that creative crew set into place, casting for Tolkien is reportedly starting under the auspices of production company Chernin Entertainment at the behest of Fox Searchlight.

    This, coupled with the rumblings about prospective star Nicholas Hoult was the first major movement on the J.R.R. Tolkien biopic endeavor since last fall, when the same trade reported that the project – then-titled Middle Earth– had tapped James Strong (Broadchurch, Downton Abbey) to direct, working off a script by a burgeoning screenwriter Angus Fletcher. However, the premise of the project in its current form as Tolkien seems to be the same, chronicling the author’s youthful experiences in which friendships, love, and an outcast status at school all lead to the horrors of the trenches in the First World War.

    Tolkien Biopic Story

    Tolkien explores the circumstances that shaped Tolkien into becoming the author of the world's most famous fantasy novels. The film will show how the marriage of young Tolkien to Edith Bratt was interrupted in 1914 by World War I. After deliberation, Tolkien enlisted, experiencing four years of the world-altering global conflagration. The experiences would become the inspiration for Tolkien’s conception of 1937’s The Hobbit; a mythology he would expand exponentially with 1954-1955’s The Lord of the Rings novel trilogy, along with several supplemental Middle-earth-based stories, many of which would be published posthumously under the editorial stewardship of his son Christopher.

    Tolkien certainly has compelling source material to utilize in telling the iconic author's story, which was wrought in not only war, but a quirky romance. Moreover, it will be interesting for fans both casual and passionate to witness the events that drove a certain young second lieutenant in the British Army to conjure the magical, ethereal, quasi-medieval world of Middle-earth and weave the intricate details of its sprawling mythology.

    Tolkien Biopic Release Date

    The Tolkien production has yet to lock down any significant dates on the calendar. This article will be updated once that changes.

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    Gal Gadot clarifies Brett Ratner's departure from Wonder Woman 2, as well as everyone being on the same page at WB/DC.

    News David Crow
    Nov 15, 2017

    Gal Gadot is certainly having her moment in the zeitgeist and culture at large. Starring in the biggest movie of the summer, Wonder Woman, the actor who would be Diana Prince became an instant role model. And she is carrying on as the strongest aspect of this weekend’s anticipated Justice League. Our review even states she owns the role now as securely as Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man. So when rumors started up this weekend that Ms. Gadot was considering walking away from Wonder Woman 2 unless Brett Ratner is bought out by Warner Bros. from the production, the internet took notice. And applauded.

    Indeed, there is something very Wonder Woman-esque about fighting the good fight for feminist ideals, which should include not having a man with numerous allegations of sexual misconduct as a co-financer of said feminist-influenced film. However, while appearing on The Today Show with Savannah Guthrie, Gadot clarified Ratner’s exit from the DCEU, explaining that it already occurred well before Page Six’s story about her taking a stand, as well as suggesting that everyone involved in the making of Wonder Woman 2 was on the same page, and there was no need to turn it into a demand.

    “At the end of the day, a lot has been written about my views and the way I feel, and everyone knows the way I feel because I’m not hiding anything,” Gadot said. “But the truth is there’s so many people involved in making this movie and they all echo the same sentiments.”

    She added, “Everyone knew what was the right thing to do, but there was nothing for me to actually come and say, because it was already done before the article came out.”

    Ratner’s company RatPac-Dune Entertainment had co-financed all the DCEU films before damning allegations came out against the filmmaker. Shortly afterward, Warner Bros. elected to not renew their contract with Ratner’s company, which is due to expire in April 2018. However, Wonder Woman 2 is set to begin production next year, potentially before that date as well, so there was some ambiguity whether RatPac would be involved. Now there is not, as WB said about the reports over the weekend.

    RatPac’s final film regarding DC properties can be seen this weekend when Jusice League opens on Thursday evening.

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    Luke Skywalker begins his journey to Ahch-To all the way in Star Wars Battlefront II. Here are the details...

    News John Saavedra
    Nov 15, 2017

    This Star Wars Battlefront II article contains spoilers.

    Star Wars Battlefront II introduces a plethora of new characters in a story campaign that bridges the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. But while the game mostly focuses on Iden Versio and her elite unit of Imperial operatives, Inferno Squad, a few fan-favorite characters pop up for a quick cameo. 

    Luke Skywalker gets a rare post-RotJappearance about a third into the game. The fact that he's playable in the campaign at all is exciting enough, considering that we've barely experienced any new stories about Luke that explain why he's exiled himself on Ahch-To before The Force Awakens. We know the short of it: Luke chose isolation on one of the islands of the distant planet after his nephew, Ben Solo, turned to the dark side and slaughtered all of the students in Luke's new Jedi Order. He's been hiding out ever since, due to his failure to keep Ben out of Supreme Leader Snoke's clutches and save his students. 

    But everything we've seen from The Last Jedi thus far reveals that there's more to Ahch-To than that. While we're informed that Luke went searching for the first Jedi temple in The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi's trailers flesh out why this temple is so important to Luke. It may very well contain the oldest chronicle of the Jedi Order and the galaxy as a whole in the form of the Journal of the Whills, a book that's been teased in many of the promos released thus far. It is speculated that the chronicle holds secrets about the Jedi that convince Luke that the Order must end once and for all. 

    We'll soon find out for sure what that book is all about when The Last Jedi hits theaters on Dec. 15. Until then, Star Wars Battlefront II has at the very least answered a pivotal question as to how Luke found the temple on Ahch-To in the first place.

    There's a level in the story campaign where you play as Luke, who's come to the bug-infested planet of Pillio. Something on the planet has called out to him through the Force, and Luke wants to find out what it is. After a run-in with Imperial stormtroopers and an imperiled member of Inferno Squad, Del Meeko, Luke discovers what's been calling out to him: a hidden vault belonging to the late Emperor Palpatine. 

    While Meeko is tasked with destroying the vault before the Rebellion can get their hands on anything in it, Luke takes one mysterious relic with him: a compass. It is implied that this compass is what eventually leads Luke to Ahch-To to discover the deepest secrets of the Jedi. 

    This also sets up another interesting precedent: Emperor Palpatine knew about Ahch-To and presumably about its secrets. So why didn't he have the compass destroyed when he had the chance? Leaving the task up to the remaining Imperials after his death seems like a dumb idea. Regardless, at least we know more of the intricacies of Luke's situation at the end of The Force Awakens. We assume The Last Jedi will address more of Luke's post-RotJ journey and give us the full picture. 

    For now, enjoy demolishing your enemies as Luke Skywalker in Battlefront long as your willing to cough up the cash to do so

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    The Den of Geek Book Club is a place to geek out about our favorite science fiction, fantasy, and horror books.

    NewsKayti Burt
    Nov 15, 2017

    Hello, all!

    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...

    November/October Pick: Autonomous by Annalee Newitz

    Our second book club pick is 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...)

    Read our full review of Autonomous by Annalee Newitz.

    Want to take part in the discussion? Head over to Goodreads and become a member of the Den of Geek Book Club. And stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes content around our November/December pick, including an interview with the book's author, a book giveaway, and more!

    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.

    Read our interview with the artists behind The Name of the Wind's 10th Anniversary Edition.

    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.

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    Who is the villain of the Justice League movie? We look at how Jack Kirby's Steppenwolf fits in the DCEU and his relationship to Darkseid.

    Feature Marc Buxton
    Nov 16, 2017

    Thor: Ragnarok is a loving tribute to all things Jack Kirby. Nearly every frame of the film burst forth from the imagination of “The King” to create a wonderful film that is truly a testament to the enduring power of Kirby’s imagination. In fact, when you come down to it, just about every Marvel film and most of Marvel’s TV is painted in Kirby’s artistic DNA. Soon, the characters anc concepts of “The King” will come to the DC Extended Universe with Justice League.

    When it was announced that Kirby’s New God creation Steppenwolf would be the villain of DC’s Justice League, many fans were surprised. After all, many assumed, especially after the teases in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, that Kirby’s ultimate big bad Darkseid would be the only villain worthy to take on the newly formed Justice League. But Steppenwolf is a fascinating character in his own right and could be a perfect harbinger to the coming of Darkseid.

    Steppenwolf has always been a minion of Darkseid, so many would be surprised to learn that the axe wielding villain is actually Darkseid’s uncle (although in the movie, he is apparently his nephew instead). Interestingly enough, Steppenwolf’s earliest appearances in Kirby’s Fourth World titles were in flashbacks. Steppenwolf first appeared in New Gods #7 (1972), and in this fateful issue it was revealed that Steppenwolf had a hand in starting the war between Apokolips and New Genesis, the twin planets of the New Gods. Apokolips was ruled by the evil Darkseid and was the home world of the dark gods while New Genesis was ruled by Highfather and was basically DC’s version of Asgard. The twin planets engaged in a war that burned for millennia and that conflict was kindled by Steppenwolf. 

    Steppenwolf was charged by Darkseid to murder the wife of Highfather, who in return led his forces against Darkseid. During the many battles, Steppenwolf was killed. Highfather became so bloodthirsty that he prayed for a way to end the brutal conflict. From there, Highfather became one with The Source (a mystical universal energy that ahem inspired George Lucas to create that thing he created) and renounced war. Darkseid and Highfather traded sons to broker a peace treaty as Highfather’s son Mister Miracle was sent to Apokolips while Darkseid’s son Orion was sent to New Genesis. The entire foundation of DC's New Gods saga was laid because of Steppenwolf’s brutality. 

    Steppenwolf became part of the present day DC Universe in 1996. In Mister Miracle #4 (1996) by Kevin Dooley and Steve Crespo, Mister Miracle ends up confronting Steppenwolf in some weird cosmic plane of reality. Miracle was imbued with godlike powers over life and death at the time, and went at Steppenwolf with a terrible vengeance. At the end of it all, Mister Miracle shows pity on Steppenwolf and resurrects the man that killed his mother. From there, Steppenwolf takes his place as the commander of Darkseid’s armies and becomes a force to be reckoned with in the DC cosmos. Not Mister Miracle’s best choice, I guess.

    The character’s most notable moment came when Kenner graced the world with a Steppenwolf action figure as part of its immortal Super Powers line of toys. The original comic version of Steppenwolf had a strange green face and wore a jaunty little cone hat, but the new Steppenwolf was an axe wielding badass and joined the other more notable minions of Darkseid on toy shelves everywhere in the mid to late 1980s. When Steppenwolf returned to the DC Universe proper in 1996, it was in the Kenner outfit. 

    Steppenwolf has also been a pretty important part of DC’s New 52. The new Steppenwolf appeared in the rebooted DCU in Justice League: War (a story that will have a profound influence on the movie) by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee. Here, Steppenwolf actually murders the Earth-2 versions of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman upping the badass quotient for the modern Steppenwolf considerably. This seems to be the inspiration for the cinematic Steppenwolf in Justice League.

    So there you have it kids, from matricide to action figure to Justice League killer, Steppenwolf may not have made many appearances, but where this minion of Darkseid goes, carnage follows. Between kicking off the war between New Genesis and Apokolips and murdering the greatest heroes of one Earth, Steppenwolf leaves change and destruction in his wake. What could this mean for the DCEU? It certainly won't be an easy fight for the Justice League.

    Justice League opens on November 17.

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    Zach Snyder's occasionally maligned superhero epic deserves more credit for somehow improving upon an already great ending.

    Feature Alec Bojalad
    Nov 16, 2017

    We know you miss the squid. We know. Just hear us out for a moment.

    Zack Snyder’s Watchmen certainly has its flaws. It follows the comic book a little too faithfully, resulting in a movie that feels like more of a traditional comic book adaptation rather than a fascinating study of how superheroes would operate in the real world.

    It has its strengths, however. In addition to a brilliant opening credits sequence, Watchmen the film also improves on the ending of the comic book.

    Watch the video below, or keep reading for more!

    In the comic book, Adrian Veidt’s a.k.a. Ozymandias’ grand plan involves kidnapping some artists and having them design an intergalactic giant squid. Then he uses his massive amounts of money and technology to create that squid in the flesh and has it terrorize New York, therefore creating the illusion of a common cosmic enemy for all of humanity rally against.

    The movie wisely omits the artist angle entirely as it would take up too much time. Instead of a giant space squid, Ozymandias instead uses some of the power he’s collected from Doctor Manhattan to essentially nuke Manhattan (the city, not the guy). This creates the impression that Doctor Manhattan has turned on humanity.

    Making Earth’s common enemy the innocent Doctor Manhattan adds a new level of tragedy and sacrifice to the story that the original ending didn't have. Whenever possible it’s best for a story to make use of the existing characters that we care about rather than some Macguffin. And despite all Watchmen the comic’s brilliance, that’s all the squid really is - a Macguffin.

    In the Watchmen movie ending, Doctor Manhattan takes on a more active role in Ozymandias’ grand plan even if its without his knowledge or consent. Once Ozymandias’ plan is revealed, however, Doctor Manhattan can’t help but seemed a little impressed. This is logical after all. Kill millions to save billions. It’s the exact kind of plan both the smartest man in the world and a budding deity would both get behind.

    By using the specter of Doctor Manhattan as the enemy, the Watchmen movie’s ending is not only more poignant but also helps hammer home one of the big themes of the novel: the many shades of gray to humanity’s conception of morality. The smartest and most godlike of the characters (Ozymadias, Doctor Manhattan) seem OK with this warped version of utilitarianism while the most extremely “human” of characters (Rorshach) will accept no crime in the pursuit of the greater good whatsoever. Then there are the normal Janes and Joes who just want this to be over so they can go home (Nite Owl and Silk Spectre).

    Snyder rightfully catches some barbs for missing the ultimate point of Watchmen here and there but his depiction of the ending and the improvements he makes upon it show that he fully understands at least one important aspect from the novel: heroism is hard.

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    It's guest stars galore for Zdarsky & Kubert's Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #300, and a shocking twist.

    NewsJim Dandy
    Nov 16, 2017

    February sees Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man hit a Marvel Legacy-marked milestone as the series reaches its 300th issue. As is normal for these milestones, writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Adam Kubert are celebrating with an oversized issue, the climax of a year-long story arc, and a whole pile of guest stars.

    “We don’t take important issue numbers like #300 for granted,” said editor Nick Lowe. “In this issue, Chip and Adam not only tie together all the threads they’ve laid down over the last year, but twist and turn you bigger than you thought possible and tee up the next arc that EVERYONE will be talking about.”

    Spidey is joined by Black Panther, Hawkeye, the Wasp, Iron Heart and others as he battles the Tinkerer in the anniversary book. This issue follows Zdarsky and Michael Walsh's critically acclaimed, heartfelt Spider-Man/J. Jonah Jameson Frost/Nixon showdown issue earlier this year. And for those of you puzzled by Zdarsky and heartfelt Frost/Nixon being in the same sentence, I would direct you to just about anything Chip has written in the past four years, but especially Howard the Duck #8. If this issue is half as good as that one, it should be outstanding.

    But here's the kicker, via the official synopsis:

    A celebration of the Spider-Man legacy, PETER PARKER: SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #300 follows the reveal of Peter Parker’s true identity as he goes up against the Tinkerer in what promises to be his biggest challenge yet! It’s a Mighty Marvel story worthy of a 56 page epic as the webslinger is joined in his fight by several Marvel heroes, including Black Panther, Iron Heart, Hawkeye, Wasp and more!

    Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man is due in comic shops and online on February 28th, 2018. For more on Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man, emotionally resonant genre spoofs, or absurdly good looking Marcos Martin Spider-Man art, look right below this sentence! Then stick with Den of Geek!

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    James Franco will star as Multiple Man in a new X-Men solo film!

    News John Saavedra
    Nov 16, 2017

    James Franco is set to play Jamie Madrox aka Multiple Man in a new standalone X-Men movie. The film is being written by Wonder Woman screenwriter Allan Heinberg and produced by Simon Kinberg, who is currently also directing X-Men: Dark Phoenix. No release date has been set for this film, but we assume it's still a ways away as its currently in the early stages of development. 

    The character choice is interesting as he's not exactly as popular of a name as, say, the usual mutants. In case you don't know, he's indeed named Multiple Man because he can instantly create duplicates of himself. While Jamie was originally a minor character, his story was better established in Peter David's X-Factorrun from the '90s, which incorporated many lesser known heroes from the larger X-Men mythos. Multiple Man has also appeared in the adventures of the Fantastic Four. In fact, he was created by Len Wein in the pages of Giant-Size Fantastic Four #4 in 1975.

    Multiple Man joins a few other X-Men movies that are currently either in production or in development at 20th Century Fox. Josh Boone's The New Mutants is next on the list of X-Men releases, followed by Deadpool 2X-Men: Dark Phoenix, and a Gambitmovie. It remains to be seen where Multiple Man might fall in this schedule. Perhaps the character could be introduced in another X-Men movie before getting his solo outing? It would make sense for a character that's not exactly as much of a household name as many of these other Marvel characters.

    The character has appeared on the big screen before. He was portrayed by Eric Dane in the maligned X-Men: The Last Stand, which featured Multiple Man as a villain associated with Magneto's Brotherhood of Mutants. We assume that will not be the case in the new movie, as most of The Last Stand continuity has been wiped from existence. 

    We'll bring you more on Multiple Man as we learn it!

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    Things take a horrific turn as James Gordon and the Penguin face Gotham’s greatest horror to date- Professor Pyg.

    What in the name of Bill Finger did I just watch? Years ago, when I first heard that DC was doing a show based on the adventures of a young James Gordon, I never thought I’d see that series morph into a hardcore horror drama that out gored Ryan Murphy and American Horror Story. But that’s exactly what we get this week as Gotham went full on gross out terror in James Gordon’s climatic confrontation with Professor Pyg.

    I think most Gotham fans are on the Jerome train as far as the most popular villain of the series is concerned, but really, Professor Pyg really steps up and becomes one of the most twisted, most cringe-worthy, most intimidating villains on Gotham. Now that we have witnessed the full potent horror of Pyg, I really want to see Gotham delve into a backstory for this very modern Bat rogue. The comics have never really done a definitive origin for Pyg. I mean, the not so good Professor is one of the newest Bat villains and hasn’t been deeply explored outside writer Grant Morrison’s run on Batman. Gotham could be the perfect place to give this Bat villain an iconic origin tale. Michael Cerveris has done a note perfect job bringing Pyg to life and I really want to see more of this unique adversary.

    So let’s delve into this little Pyg’s plan. It seems that Pyg has a mad on for Gotham City’s elite, particularly Penguin. So Pyg plans to infiltrate a charity gala and feed meat pies made of the organs of Gotham City’s homeless to the city’s rich elite. And you know what? Pyg succeeds! And we are treated to a gorge raising puke fest that sees Penguin and some Gotham fat cats chowing down on the hobo pies. Even the lovely Sofia Falcone must take a bite and ewwww.

    This leads to a last second James Gordon rescue and an epic battle between Pyg and cop. Gordon gets the better of the porcine killer and wins the hearts of the people of Gotham City who now finally have a heroic cop to look up to. Unfortunately, Penguin sees Sofia’s reaction to Gordon’s arrival and is certain the ties between Miss Falcone and Mister Gordon go very deep. The jealous Cobblepot realizes that it was Falcone that arranged for Gordon’s ascension to the captain’s chair. So it looks like we will have a mob war between Cobblepot and Falcone. Somehow, this week’s Gotham manages to morph from a hardcore horror drama into a crime drama in an eye blink. Impressive.

    As for Gordon. This season sure has been a fascinating one for ‘ol Jimbo. Gordon finds himself doing things that are anathema to him because hey are in Gotham City’s best interest. He accepts the position of captain and betrays Harvey Bullock for the city. He accepts the corrupt endorsement of Sofia Falcone because it’s best for the city. This week, all his moral wrangling pays off because Gordon gets to save innocents from a true Gotham City monster. I mean, you can now see Gordon as a man who will one day be willing to buck due process and support a masked vigilante if it will help save his city from the monsters. This week, Gordon slays a monster and is in position to play hero cop because of some underhanded dealings, and he’s willing to do go along with the Falcones of the world if it means he is in position to defeat men like Pyg.

    Penguin was another potent player in Pyg’s cannibal party. Penguin also shows himself to be multi-dimensional by killing one of the grey-haired one-percenters that refused to eat the pie even when Pyg threatened our new little urchin Martine. Remember, Penguin has taken a shine to the poor little mute boy and when the grey haired man of privilege says that he is willing to let the waif die, Penguin stabs the rich dude in the brain and proceeds to chow down on the human pie. I mean, how many people have we seen Penguin kill but an insult directed at Martine sends him into a murderous rage?

    Think about all the moving parts in the Pyg drama. Penguin is jealous of Sofia’s bond with Gordon but still protects her from Pyg. Martine is threatened which shows us that Penguin does have a smidge of a heart, and all this is going on while I am fighting the dry heaves because Gotham forces us to endure a prolonged cannibalistic scene. And then Pyg sings and dances. What the what? The utter balls of all this is just mindboggling.

    Sadly, the Bruce Wayne half of this week’s Gotham is not as mesmerizing. I am already tired of petulant Bruce Wayne. I just can’t buy that killing Ra’s Al Ghul would turn Bruce into a teen with affluenza. I think the act of murder could break Bruce, yeah, but to turn him into Bat Gone Wild? No, not buying it. This week Alfred tries to bond with Bruce by taking the future Caped Crusader on a traditional hike. Alfred does share a great story about meeting Thomas Wayne for the first time; a tale so effective it could have been a whole flashback episode. Bruce ditches Alfred and hides back home to party with Tommy Elliot and crew. I get it, Bruce is hurting, but this storyline is hurting me because I really don’t want to deal with a season of white privilege Bruce Wayne.

    Thankfully, Gotham saves the day with a pure gross out, surreal bit of business that features a dude with a pig head singing while feeding homeless people to rich folk, and it’s stuff like that that sets Gotham apart from the countless other comic book shows on TV.

    ReviewMarc Buxton
    Nov 16, 2017

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    Arrow focuses on a father and son relationship in this sadly rather low-stakes episode.

    This Arrow review contains spoilers.

    Arrow Season 6 Episode 6

    Tonight’s episode of Arrow felt a bit perfunctory and low-stakes all around since Slade has stepped right into Malcolm Merlyn's story beats as the deadly dad whose motives you can never 100 percent trust. (Albeit a less murder-y one.) With the flashbacks to a post-Lian Yu Slade, many mentions of Mirakuru, and the generic Eastern European setting, this all feels a bit like retreading old ground.

    Team Arrow mostly rides the bench yet again, the cost of a still-large cast, even after some pruning. The villain of the week is forgettable aside from making John Diggle's secrets finally catch up to him. Unfortunately, the emotional fallout is practically negligible.

    Diggle comes clean

    Diggle finally tells his goddamn wife about the enormous, dangerous lie he's been keeping and has the nerve to try to downplay it while assuming she'll just make ARGUS cook him up a brand new drug. Lyla's return is a good reminder that it's wicked weird for Dinah to be the only one who knows this secret. Man, I really hope she and John don't get together.

    It takes the threat of losing his supply of an illicit steroid that controls his tremors for Diggle to come clean, but for some reason the team forgives him immediately, and without realizing Dinah was in on it before them. Lyla's reaction seemed more in-character, and Oliver and Felicity are still unaware, so perhaps it will only be those closest to Diggle who respond appropriately to his deception. Or perhaps whoever wears the hood is given a pass to be kind of a dick, and they're all just relieved he's less secretive and mean than Oliver.

    As Lyla pointed out, John is, in many ways, the show's moral center. He, along with Felicity, has been the one to rein Oliver in on many occasions, and he's also attempted to do the same for Felicity on the rare instance where her judgment waivers. Shouldn't everyone be more upset that he has been lying for the whole season thus far, almost got at least Rene killed, contemplated delaying catching a perp, and wanted to run into an explosion to obtain more drugs? I hope the show isn't done with John and this plotline just yet—what are the odds that he's not in some way addicted to this drug, beyond the need for it to treat his tremor?

    There's still another secret lurking in the lair in the form of Dinah's present from her now-villainous ex-partner. I'm hoping that when Diggle inevitably calls her out for this, she'll throw his actions back in his face, forcing the rest of the team to contend with his secret yet again, and the fact that she both tried to make him come clean and kept his confidence when she failed.

    Oliver helps Slade take on Deathstroke Junior

    Because this is a superhero show, father-son stories abound, and they are laid on thick. Shots of Slade training his son are intercut with training his metaphorical son Oliver, just in case anyone missed the connection. There's plenty of bitterness and love in both relationships, and Slade rather neatly fills the Malcolm Merlyn-sized hole within Oliver's world, if not the John Barrowman-sized one in the Flarrowverse and our hearts.

    It turns out Joe has some serious inspiration for his criminal ways: his father. Slade spends a certain amount of energy distinguishing between his own actions on Mirakuru and his son's, which are not drug-fueled. But in the third act, Joe points out that he saw his father kill years before the Mirakuru, back on that camping trip. He went on to make his own first kill six months later, which is pretty hard-boiled, even for the son of Deathstroke.

    I was hoping for better set pieces for both Deathstroke and Oliver's considerable skills beyond the bow, but the overly dark scenes everywhere other than the ASIS training facility makes the existing ones hard to fully appreciate. Slade's fights with his son had the potential to be as electric as the ones between Slade and his protégé Oliver.

    The other thing that would elevate this storyline is Slade having to make a real choice between his son and Oliver, or his son and doing the right thing. The stakes never feel high, even when Slade has a blade in front of Oliver's eye. Joe/Kane stalls a real decision by evading capture, but of course we'll see him again soon. Here's hoping that confrontation becomes a genuine conundrum instead of just an obvious choice. I'd also love to see more attempts at artistic shots like Slade's steam-filled exit, even if it was a bit cliché.

    Slade's son vows to ruin Oliver's kid's life, which is also rather cold considering William is a child, even if Joe doesn't necessarily know that at the time. Still, Joe coming to Star City in an attempt to harm William, or perhaps his own newly unveiled mystery brother, will force Slade's hand and really hammer home this whole "Cat's in the Cradle" theme they have going on.

    ReviewDelia Harrington
    Nov 16, 2017

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    How important to the DCEU are those Justice League post credits scenes? Spoilers await!

    News Mike Cecchini
    Nov 16, 2017

    This article contains major Justice League spoilers.

    The DCEU has deliberately avoided post-credits scenes since the dark days of Green Lantern. It's been a smart move to keep away from one of the hallmarks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but with Justice League, they just couldn't resist. They make up for lost time, too, as Justice League has not one, but two end credits scenes. One is just for fun, but the other has larger implications for the DCEU down the line. I've already discussed the implications of the film's ending in general (which you can read here), so let's dig into these two, slightly nerdier elements of the movie...

    The Superman/Flash Race

    This is just good fun, and few things say "DC Universe" quite like a friendly race between Superman and Flash.

    Superman and Flash have raced numerous times in the comics. While the movie doesn’t show us who wins, I’m going to give you a hint: it has to be the Flash. Flash is often the victor in Superman/Flash races in comics, if for no other reason than editorial mandate. Look at it this way, if the guy whose whole thing is that he can run really fast can’t outrun another hero, then what good is he, right? Superman has enough going for him. Let Flash have this one, OK?

    The other one is a bigger deal as far as the future of the DCEU goes, though.

    Deathstroke, Luthor, and The Secret Society of Super-Villains

    Lex Luthor escapes from the Argus institution he's being held in (I don't think that's exactly Arkham Asylum?), in a maneuver that reminds me a little of his Superman II fakeout. We next see him on a pleasure yacht, dressed to the nines, and awaiting the arrival of an armored guest. 

    We’ve now seen the full transformation of Lex Luthor since the beginning of Batman v Superman, from corrupt but brilliant businessman/mad scientist to, well, fugitive mad scientist and potential supervillain. Hopefully future installments find ways to make him less infuriating, as well. But I digress…

    The man Lex meets is Slade “Deathstroke” Wilson (played by Joe Manganiello). Slade is, as far as we’re concerned, the most versatile villain in the entire DC Universe. Deathstroke is an assassin for hire, but also an anti-hero and a mean bastard. He’s familiar to Arrow fans (where he has been played to perfection by Manu Bennett), and he’ll be the star of his own solo movie soon enough. Hell, you might also infer that the giggling inmate 

    The suggestion of a supervillain team-up (and no, Suicide Squad doesn’t count, since they work for the government) is an intriguing one. For starters, it’s the one thing that the Marvel Cinematic Universe hasn’t attempted, and for a studio that is looking for points of difference even as the tone of this movie felt more like its competition, a small army of recognizable bad guys taking on heroes would be a step in the right direction. In general, and in part because their licenses aren’t split between different studios, Warner Bros. has a stronger pool of villains to pull from with the DCEU than Marvel does, so now that the heroic side of things has been so well established, this would be a wise avenue for them to explore.

    So will they be the Secret Society of Super-Villains from the comics? The Legion of Doom from Challenge of the Super Friends? It doesn't matter as long as they have that cool headquarters from the cartoon! If nothing else, expect the next round of threats the Justice League faces to be decidedly more domestic, rather than another cosmic menace like Steppenwolf. I'm sure we'll get to Darkseid eventually.

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    The Punisher is here! And so is the first of our daily episode reviews feat. nerdy spots and MCU/comics references...

    Feature James Hunt
    Nov 17, 2017

    This article comes from Den of Geek UK.

    This review contains spoilers.

    1.1 3AM

    Following a stand-out performance in the Marvel/Netflix Daredevil show, Jon Bernthal is back as Frank Castle, aka The Punisher. But here’s a good question: how does a company that lives off its brand of superheroic ideals as the paragon of achievable virtue deal with a character whose brand is all about using guns and extreme violence to solve what are, broadly, social issues. I guess we’re going to find out.

    It’s fair to say this episode eases us back into the Punisher’s mentality, as well as refreshing us on his backstory. Neither is especially pretty. Frank is portrayed as a PTSD sufferer whose traumatic episodes are kept away largely by dishing out extreme violence on people who (at least by his standards) deserve it. This, to be fair, is a more sensitive take on the character than most versions, where he’s played as a straight up psychotic serial killer who you can broadly root for because of his moral code.

    Of course, he does still murder a lot of people in this episode, though it’s exclusively people who are either about to kill someone else, or planning to. I wonder if that’s how they’re going to play it – the moment you attempt to take a life, you forfeit the right to your own? It’s hard to make the Punisher seem reasonable, but that could be one way of doing it…

    There’s also a new supporting cast introduced. Dinah and Sam, a pair of homeland security agents who are attempting to dig into Frank’s past (even though they think he’s dead). Curtis, a support-group leader who Frank trusts. And, weirdly, Dinah’s mother, a psychiatrist who I suspect will be digging into Frank as the series progresses.

    As starts go, it’s a slowish one, but the tone is strong and consistent, and care is being taken to make Frank seem authentic. They could’ve just had this entire series be guns blazing, but aside from an opening montage Frank is fairly restrained, and that makes the violence have some element of satisfaction. I do sort of struggle with the idea that this guy is in any way possible to root for even if his methods are depicted as effective and precise, so I’m interested to see if the series challenges that as it goes on – at the very least, when Frank shoots a guy in the head, it doesn’t play it off as a moment of weakness or failure, so the show might just be trying to have its cake and eat it…

    Comics/MCU References:

    It probably goes without saying that Marvel Universe references are thin on the ground even in this first episode, and maybe without the Defenders to tie into things will stay that way. Lord knows the tone of this series is not going to benefit at all from someone reminding you that aliens once invaded and there’s a Magician living on Bleecker Street.

    Broadly it’s not cribbing a lot from the comics either, but there are a few Easter Eggs worth noting from both print and screen.

    The Punisher (aka Frank Castle) was created by Gerry Conway, John Romita Sr. and Ross Andru. He first appeared (as a villain, no less) in Amazing Spider-Man #129 (1974). The MCU version, as played by Jon Bernthal, first appeared in Daredevil 2.01: Bang.

    The bikers Frank kills in the opening sequence are members of the Dogs of Hell. They’ve appeared multiple times in previous MCU series, most notably Daredevil but also Agents Of SHIELD.

    The backstory about Schoonover was previously seen in Daredevil Season 2, but it forms a fairly major part of his arc so I’m not going to repeat it all here. Suffice to say, they were left thinking both Schoonover and Frank were dead, though the latter was definitely not.

    Micro, the guy at the end, is a comics character but I’ll talk about him more later so we don’t spoil future episodes. You may remember that at the end of Daredevil Season 2, Frank retrieved a disc from his house which was labelled “Micro”. You can bet that’ll matter later on.

    And, finally, the words Micro speaks – “Welcome back, Frank” – are the title of one of the Punisher’s most famous comic arcs, written by Garth Ennis and drawn by Steve Dillon. This is also the source of Gnucci crime family, at least one member of whom also appears in this episode. If that’s the season arc they’re doing, I’m likely to be quite happy with that, but at this point it might just be a throwaway reference.

    Aaand that’s episode 1. Let’s continue…

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    Selma director Ava DuVernay tackles the fantasy genre, adapting the classic novel, A Wrinkle in Time.

    News Kayti Burt
    Nov 17, 2017

    A Wrinkle in Time, the much-anticipated feature film adaptaion of the beloved Madeline L'Engle novel, is in the post-production process, which means we're starting to get some serious looks at what this movie will look like.

    Here's everything we know about the movie:

    A Wrinkle in Time Poster

    A new poster for A Wrinkle in Time has been released. While it’s been months since the film unveiled itself with a Comic Con teaser trailer in July, expect more promotional movement from this film, notably with a new trailer that's set to debut on Sunday, November 19 on ABC during the AMAs.

    A Wrinkle in Time Trailer

    The crowd at Disney's D23 Expo on Saturday got the first glimpse anywhere of footage from A Wrinkle in Time, as director Ava DuVernay was joined onstage by cast members Chris Pine (Alex Murry), newcomer Storm Reid (Meg Murry), Mindy Kaling (Mrs. Who), Reese Witherspoon (Mrs. Whatsit) and Oprah Winfrey (Mrs. Which). 

    Asked why this ended up being her next feature after the acclaimed Selma, DuVernay replied, "I saw myself in it and saw so many different kinds of people in it," adding that she was thrilled to make a film for Disney and "wanted to put together a cast that looked like you (the audience), that looked like the real world."

    All the cast members expressed their delight at working with DuVernay, with Oprah saying about her role, "Ava told me it was one of the wisest beings in the universe and an angelic celestial being, and working with Reese and Mindy, who would say no to that?"

    The trailer itself is a blend of the creepy and the fantastical, the ominous and the delightful, and if all goes well this dark sci-fi fantasy could be something special.

    Here's first trailer for A Wrinkle in Time!

    A Wrinkle in Time News

    The latest sneak peek? These images, courtesy of Entertainment Weekly, of Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, and Oprah as Mrs. Which, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Who.

    Director Ava Duvernay said of the casting of the three women:

    My whole process with this film was, what if? With these women, I wondered, could we make them women of different ages, body types, races? Could we bring in culture, bring in history in their costumes? And in the women themselves, could we just reflect a fuller breadth of femininity?

    Entertainment Weekly also has a photo of the young lead, Storm Reid, along with Duvernay on set. "She’s got the sweetest, warmest heart, and all that I saw every day was just a further blossoming of the good that is Storm Reid," Duvernay said of the young soon-to-be star. "She’s appropriately named. She’s a force."

    When the movie wrapped principle photography in March, DuVernay shared a bunch of photos to commemorate the occasion. 

    A Wrinkle in Time Movie Release Date

    A Wrinkle in Time is scheduled for an April 6th, 2018 release date, so mark your calendars!

    A Wrinkle in Time Cast

    A Wrinkle in Time has found its Meg Murry! According to The Hollywood Reporter, Storm Reid, who made her feature film debut in 12 Years a Slave, will play the lead role in the film adapation of the beloved Madeline L'Engle book.

    Reid is a relative newcomer to Hollywood, but has already built an impressive resume.  In addition to 12 Years a Slave, Reid has also booked some television roles and the lead role in American Girl: Lea to the Rescue. She also appeared in Sleight, a sci-fi drama that made waves at Sundance.

    Reid is the latest addition to a majority non-white cast, with the production also reportedly looking for a non-white actor to play the major role of Calvin O'Keefe, Meg's classmate and fellow adventurer. 

    A Wrinkle in Time has cast three talented actresses in major roles...

    Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling have been cast as Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Who, respectively. They will join Oprah Winfrey, who has been cast as Mrs. Which in the feature film. In the book, Which, Whatsit, and Who help Meg and Charles travel across the galaxy to find their missing father. The central roles of Meg and Charles have yet to be cast.

    Deadline reports that Chris Pine has joined the cast as Mr. Murry. The Star Trek alum (who we'll see as Steve Trevor in next summer's Wonder Woman) plays the husband of Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Meg Murry and Charles Wallace's mother, Dr. Murry, in the adaptation of the beloved Madeline L'Engle novel. Dr. Murry is a scientist who, along with her husband, comes with the notion of the wrinkle in time. When the book begins, she is anxious over the disappearance of her husband.

    Mbatha, who most recently appeared in Free State of Jones, but previously held the recurring role of Martha's sister on Doctor Who and gained critical praise in the lead role in Belle, will also voice Plumette in the much-anticipated live-action Beauty and the Beast movie coming out next year.

    A Wrinkle in Time Movie Story

    For those unfamiliar with the 1963 children's book (if those people do, in fact, exist), A Wrinkle in Time tells the story of Meg Murry and her little brother Charles Wallace as they travel through space and cross dimensions to find their missing scientist father with the help of a mysterious Tesseract. Oh yeah, and there's a kid named Calvin there, too. The book is the first in a larger series.

    A Wrinkle in Time Movie Director

    Disney secured Selma director Ava DuVernay to direct its upcoming movie adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, according to Deadline, back in February.

    DuVernay is best known for her direction of Selma, the Oscar-winning film depicting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s historic civil rights march. The film drew both critical and viewer praise, and all on a relatively small budget of $20 million. 

    A Wrinkle in Time isn't the only exciting project DuVernay has on the table. She's also being courted by Amblin to direct Intelligent Life, a science fiction story about a U.N. worker trained to represent mankind in the event of an encounter with alien life. The script is from Jurassic World director/writer Colin Trevorrow. DuVernay is also currently working on original drama series Queen Sugar for the OWN network.

    DuVernay's involvement with the project is not only a win for A Wrinkle in Time fans waiting for a worthwhile adaptation, but a boon for behind-the-camera diversity in Hollywood — especially when it comes to relatively big bidget projects. A Wrinkle in Time will mark the first time in history a black female director will direct a film with a budget of $100 million. It's about time.

    A Wrinkle in Time Movie Writer

    If DuVernay's involvement weren't enough to get you excited about this adaptation, there's also the fact that A Wrinkle in Time's screenplay was penned by Jennifer Lee, aka the writer and co-director of Frozen. Could this be the A Wrinkle in Time adaptation we've all been waiting for?

    More information as we get it.

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    Scream Queens alumna Skyler Samuels is set to recur on Fox Marvel mutant drama The Gifted.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Nov 17, 2017

    Fox’s The Gifted will soon see the arrival of another beleaguered mutant member of its ragtag fugitives. The series, loosely-based on Marvel’s X-Men comic book and movie continuities, has cast Skyler Samuel, the former star of the network’s nixed horror drama Scream Queens, for what is being called a key role.

    Scream Queens has cast Skyler Samuels for the recurring role of a “mutant refugee,” according to Deadline. The yet-to-be-named character – who arrives with a mysterious past – possesses the dangerously potent mutant ability of a telepath. It is unclear at this point where she will fit in the show’s dynamic, centering on an alliance of convenience between the family of a former prosecutor of mutants (Stephen Moyer), who joins a group of mutant freedom fighters – led by solar-emitting Eclipse (Sean Teale) – after their children (Natalie Alyn Lind and Percy Hynes White) are discovered to be mutants.

    For Skyler Samuels, this role in The Gifted will round out a trifecta of TV roles under the Fox umbrella, with her starring role in the 2015 debut season of Scream Queens and her 2014 Season 4 role on FX’s American Horror Story, with the latter two under the purview of Ryan Murphy. She’s previously starred as the title character in the short-lived 2011 ABC Family girl-with-cat-powers series, The Nine Lives of Chloe King, the 2010 ABC crime drama, The Gates, along with film roles in 2015 comedy The DUFF and 2014 comedy Helicopter Mom.

    Speculation regarding Samuels’s role on The Gifted could be narrowed down by a list of female telepaths with pasts qualifying as "mysterious" in the annals of Marvel Comics. While notables like Jean Grey and Psylocke are well occupied by Fox’s X-Men movie franchise, an interesting pick may be Rachel Summers, the daughter of Cyclops and Jean Grey from the future of an alternate universe. That character is also the sister of Nate Grey (a.k.a. X-Man) and, more intriguingly, the half-sister of Nathan Summers, who is better known as the cybernetic-armed badass Cable.

    With Cable set to make a monumental movie debut, played by Josh Brolin, in 2018’s Deadpool 2, the addition of Rachel Summers to The Gifted would be an expedient move in the name of brand synergy. – Of course, this is just indulgent speculation on my part and it ultimately depends on how deep down the Marvel rabbit hole the series will dare to venture.

    The Gifted airs on Fox on Monday nights at 9 p.m.

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    Marvel hires their comic book wartime consigliere.

    NewsJim Dandy
    Nov 17, 2017

    Marvel Comics unexpectedly announced the departure of Axel Alonso as Editor-in-Chief today, and named C.B. Cebulski as his replacement. 

    Alonso joined Marvel after a stint as a heralded editor at Vertigo, where he oversaw titles like Hellblazer100 Bullets,and PreacherAt Marvel, he began editing X-Men and Spider-Man books before helping launch the MAX mature readers line. He became EIC in 2011, and has led the company since.

    Cebulski started his comics career as a manga editor before joining Marvel, bringing his manga sensibility and contacts list to the company. He edited the soon-to-be Hulu adapted Runaways, and wrote a well-received semi-follow up, The Loners, and worked on a number of other high-profile Marvel projects. He eventually was promoted to Talent Liaison, where he scouted the world for artists to join Marvel's team, before being named Senior Vice President for International Business Development, working on licensing Marvel properties around the world. 

    As Editor-in-Chief, he plans to be a vocal advocate for all talent at Marvel. “We always hear about the writers and artists, but people forget the inkers and the colorists and the letters,” Cebulski told the New York Times.“Each of them is an artist in their own right.”

    Cebulski's worldwide relationships have helped open doors at Marvel for international artists who, in many cases, rose to fame once there. It's hard not to see this as a response to Brian Michael Bendis' departure earlier this month. Bendis is an artist's writer - despite the fact that he covers their art in so many words, he's extremely well liked by some of Marvel's superstars, and there was no doubt worry at the highest levels about him bringing many of his collaborators to DC with him.

    For more baseless speculation about the creative future of the comics industry, stick with Den of Geek!

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    One scene in Justice League holds the keys to the entire DCEU.

    News Mike Cecchini
    Nov 17, 2017

    This article contains Justice League spoilers.

    Justice League crams an enormous amount of DC Comics mythology into its relatively modest two hour runtime. But there's one scene in particular, and it's just a brief flashback, that finally breaks the DCEU wide open. Up until now, we've only seen little corners of the DC Universe in these movies. 

    When you're talking about what makes the DC Universe the DC Universe, there are a few key ingredients. In addition to the usual breed of superheroes and supervillains, there are alien races, ancient societies, and the simple fact that mythological gods and legends are as real as your neighbor. There's a legacy of heroism that stretches back for centuries, and that's hard to explore in a relatively new cinematic universe. We've had many of these explored individually in the DCEU movies leading up to this, but Justice League does more than give us proper introductions to Aquaman, Flash, and Cyborg, it unites all of the key elements of DC Universe history and expands the DCEU in ways we didn't think possible. And it does it all in just a few short minutes. 

    There's a great Lord of the Rings-esque battle sequence involving the armies of men, Atlantis, Themyscira, and others taking on Steppenwolf and the hordes of Apokolips. In that group, I'm pretty sure we see some gods of the Greco-Roman pantheon. One guy in particular would seem to be Zeus, throwing lightning at the opposition. While Zeus would make sense (after all, Ares was a key antagonist in Wonder Woman), there's a chance that it's not Zeus at all, and rather someone even more important to the DC Universe.

    Is Shazam in the Justice League Movie?

    Could the bearded lightning-thrower actually be Shazam? I initially dismissed this since lightning projection isn't traditionally part of his power set, but ever sine Geoff Johns and Gary Frank rebooted the character in 2012 it has, so this would make sense.

    This could either be the ancient wizard Shazam who bestows his powers on a worthy champion from time to time, although in many versions of the story, he was a hero himself in ancient times. So this could either be the wizard or one of the people who becomes the heroic Shazam avatar (one of whom is Black Adam, who will eventually be played by Dwayne Johnson, and the other is the character formerly known as Captain Marvel, who will be played by Zachary Levi in the upcoming movie). If this is the case, it adds another important element that has been missing from the DCEU that is something most people associate with DC Comics: the concept of legacy heroes. 

    Who is the Alien Green Lantern in Justice League?

    We do get a look at a key piece of DC cosmic mythology during that battle that has nothing to do with the already established alien worlds of Krypton, Apokolips, or New Genesis with the first DCEU appearance of a member of the Green Lantern Corps. While Hal Jordan or John Stewart are still nowhere to be found in the DCEU, we do know that the Green Lantern Corps has been around and engaged in the fight against Apokolips since ancient times. Who is this alien GL?

    This would appear to be Salaak, the Green Lantern of Space Sector 1418 (for the record, Earth, our solar system, and probably a few others, are Space Sector 2814). If it isn't actually Salaak, it's probably another GL from the planet Slyggia who patrols Sector 1418. It doesn't look like he survives, which makes me think that either Salaak won't make it to the Green Lantern Corps movie, or this is just a different resident of Slyggia.

    Is There a Justice League Dark Connection?

    There are several parallels to the Lord of the Rings saga in Justice League, and nowhere is that more apparent than when we learn the history of Steppenwolf and the Mother Boxes. Steppenwolf is looking to unite the Mother Boxes, which have been split among the races of man, which sounds an awful lot like the various rings of power were distributed between the races of Middle-Earth. But here, instead of elves, dwarves, and men, we have Amazons, Atlanteans, and, of course, men. The fact that two of the Mother Boxes ended up with the ancestors of Wonder Woman and Aquaman is sensible enough, but when we're talking about the ones entrusted to men, there might be another key piece of DC mythology, which itself was spun out of one of our classic stories.

    While not credited as such, that is almost certainly King Arthur on the right, which isn't necessarily a DC connection, but then the fella in the horned helmet looks very much like the DC version of Sir Bors "the Laughing Knight." If you've ever read Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers of Victory (and if you haven't, you really should), they were a key part of fighting off a very different kind of invasion in their day, alongside the Shining Knight (who doesn't appear in this movie). It's a loose connection, but in just a few seconds, Justice League manages to also tie in elements that could be useful if they ever get that Justice League Dark movie off the ground. Or better yet, they should just make Seven Soldiers of Victory

    And while I admit this is cheating as it doesn't directly come from this flashback scene, there's also a throwaway line from Diana about how "the age of heroes...would never come again." From what we see on screen, she might just be referring to the time when the armies of Themyscira and Atlantis fought side by side with mythological gods against cosmic New Gods. But I do wonder if this could also mean that there was another age of heroes, one that would have happened after the World War I events of Wonder Woman and before the events of Man of Steel. Could the DCEU have had a Justice Society in the days of World War II? It's a longshot right now, and there's nothing else to indicate that's the case, but given how much else they've managed to cram in here, I have to wonder.

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    What is an Oathbringer and why should you care? We break down Sanderson's epic fantasy saga for you.

    FeatureKayti Burt
    Nov 17, 2017

    Ten planned books. 286 chapters. More than 1.2 million words.

    Brandon Sanderson's fantasy epic series, The Stormlight Archive, is already daunting and — with this month's release of Oathbringer, the third installment in the series — it's not even halfway through it's run.

    Epic fantasy series can feel overwhelming before you dive into them, but, in the case of Sanderson's Stormlight Archive series, the risk is well worth the reward. Let me contextualize Oathbringer for you within the world of Sanderson's work, and explain why now is the perfect time to dive into The Stormlight Archive...

    Enter the Cosmere...

    We are living in a glorious time for stories and storytelling, but this means there are more stories than ever demanding our time and attention. This is why interconnected storytelling worlds and recycled narratives have become so popular. Who has time to get narratively invested in a new world, characters, setting, or series? It's much easier to delve into something you already care about. 

    This is also why Sanderson's books are such a worthwhile investment of your time and interest. From his debut novel, Elantris, back in 2005, Sanderson has been quietly building a shared fictional universe. Elantris, The Stormlight Archive, and the Mistborn trilogy are all part of the Cosmere, a huge fictional universe that is home to almost every book that Sanderson has ever written. 

    Each book/series on Sanderson's resume takes place on a different planet — with its own culture, politics, and magical systems — in the same universe. That's incredibly ambitious on Sanderson's part and endlessly fun for readers. While it is in no way necessary to read all of Sanderson's books in order to understand and enjoy the respective series, it is a pretty rewarding reason to check out Sanderson's work past his fantasy opus, finding Easter eggs along the way.

    Enter The Stormlight Archive...

    So I've convinced you to dive into Sanderson's work, but what the heck is The Stormlight Archive even about? I'm glad you asked...

    The story starts with The Way of Kings (2010), which introduces us to Roshar, a planet where violent storms shape everything. These "highstorms" sweep from east to west across the continent, leaving destruction in their wake, and, like all environments, have shaped the respective cultures, religions, and societies that make up this world. These storms are also integral to this world's magical system, as they imbue Roshar's gemstones with Stormlight, an energy that powers much of this world's magic.

    Most of the action in The Way of the Kings follows three main characters: warrior Kaladin, ruler Dalinar, and scholar Shallan. Each story in TheStormlight Archive gives us a set of flashbacks centered around a different character's story. In The Way of Kings, we learn about Kaladin's past. In Words of Radiance (2014), we learn about Shallan's past. In Oathbringer (2017), we learn about Dalinar's past.

    Sanderson plans to have a total of 10 books in the series, separated into two major story arcs. The first five books will make up one long story, with the second five books serving as a "sequel" of sorts to that first story, following different main characters.

    The world of Roshar is incredibly intricate, with every small detail having weight. Sanderson wrote hundreds of thousands of words worth of worldbuilding before The Way of the Kings was even published, and it shows.

    While the action of the first book is more or less confined to two kingdoms within Roshar, it expands out from there in the subsequent two novels. Oathbringer centers around the struggle to unite Roshar's many countries against Odium, a god-like being with plans to destroy all of human civilization. #AchievableGoals

    Sanderson talked to Tor about his worldbuilding aspirations in an interview following the release of The Way of Kings:

    I consider Roshar my showpiece for worldbuilding, and as such I wanted everything about it to display some of the best of what science fiction and fantasy is capable of: new ecologies, new cultures, cultures that feel real but that at the same time are not just earth analogues. Because of that, I've done a lot of work to individualize and distinctify a lot of the various cultures on Roshar.

    Now, that said, creativity is really the recombination of things you’ve seen before. We as human beings, by our very nature, can’t imagine something we’ve never seen. What we can do is take different things we’ve seen and combine them in new ways. That’s the soul of creativity. It’s the unicorn idea—we’ve seen things with horns, and we’ve seen horses. We put the two together and create something new, a unicorn.

    Enter Oathbringer...

    As I previously mentioned, Oathbringer, the third book in The Stormlight Archive series, was released this month. It is the middle book in the first five-book half of this larger saga and, from where I'm standing, the perfect time to get invested in this world.

    Many readers are hesitant to start unfinished series, but I am a big believer in the journey being part of the experience, especially when it comes to fandom. Sure, it's nice to have all installments of the book published before you start, but where's the fun in that? You don't get to take part in the speculation, the anticipation, the waiting in lines at bookstores with fellow fans.

    In the age of bingeable TV, there tends to be an undervaluing of the wait, the anticipation, the period of processing the media you just consumed as its own entity before moving onto its next part.

    Besides, Sanderson is no George R.R. Martin (sorry, George!). He is incredibly prolific. In the span of five years, he finished the final three books in the Wheel of Time series following the death of James Oliver Rigney, and wrote several original novels, including his young adult Alcatraz series; standalone fantasy Warbreaker; and the final installment in his Mistborn trilogy.

    In other words, barring any unforeseen circumstances, we can expect to see the next installment of The Stormlight Archive series in 2020, as Sanderson has set an ambitious one installment per three/four years rate — and has actually delivered on it, despite his other projects and commitments.

    So what are you waiting for? If you love Game of Thrones or are slowly dying inside waiting for the final installment in The Kingkiller Chronicles, try diving into the rich, magical world of Brandon Sanderson's The Stormlight Archive. It could be the start to a whole Cosmere of adventures.

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    Avengers: Infinity War is already starting to influence Marvel Comics in 2018.

    NewsJim Dandy
    Nov 17, 2017

    Marvel teased a big event coming in 2018 with art and an announcement that appears to tie into Avengers: Infinity War. "Countdown to INFINITY" is a promotional picture that shows Star-Lord, Wolverine, and Captain Marvel each holding a different Infinity Stone.

    Wolverine Classic reappeared in the pages of Marvel Legacy #1, taking the Space Stone from a Frost Giant trying to steal it from SHIELD for Loki. The Guardians of the Galaxy are currently on the hunt for the stones in the pages of their own comic. I'm...not entirely sure how Captain Marvel got the Reality Stone, but I don't believe it was in the pages of her book. 

    It sounds like Marvel will be gathering a new team of Avengers to wield the Infinity Stones timed to coincide with the movie. They even brought back classic Infinity Gauntlet artist Ron Lim to draw this promo. 

    Here's the text they sent along:

    Power. Space. Reality.

    Three stones collected.

    Who will hold Infinity?

    The countdown begins this February!

    For more on Avengers: Infinity or whatever they call the eventual crossover, stick with Den of Geek!

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    Maybe the DCEU should consider adapting an Alan Moore Superman story in the future.

    FeatureMike Cecchini
    Nov 18, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “The Jungle Line”

    DC Comics Presents #85 (1985)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    So, yeah, draw your own conclusions.

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

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

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

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

    "For The Man Who Has Everything"

    Superman Annual #11 (1985)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    A note about Superman's birthday.

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

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

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

    "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" 

    Superman #423 and Action Comics #583 (1986)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Frank Castle may be this slick, overly-competent killer of bad guys, but even he gets embarrassed from time to time.

    The ListsGavin Jasper
    Nov 18, 2017

    Even though The Punisher is now the star of his own Netflix series, let's not forget that Frank Castle has been building bodycounts for over forty years. He’s starred in many fantastic storylines and has become one of the more iconic heroes in Marvel history.

    He’s had several movies, a handful of video games (including one of the best arcade brawlers ever), cartoon appearances, and more. He’s taken up the mantle of Captain America, turned black one time, became an angel, became a Frankenstein, befriended Archie Andrews, and even killed Gwar.

    Okay, they were called “Warg,” but same thing.

    The thing every Punisher writer – especially Garth Ennis – always has to push is how unflappable and badass Frank is. He’s the coolest guy ever and punks out everyone in his way. When he does lose, he at least goes down with his dignity, whether it’s via losing a knock-down-drag-out fight with Daredevil or simply refusing to fight back against Captain America. His pride has almost as much plot armor as he does.

    Still, there are some times where Frank Castle gets clowned and looks like a fool. Moments that he’d choose not to remember. Here are 15 of those moments...


    Amazing Spider-Man #129 (1974)

    Gerry Conway and Ross Andru

    Frank’s first appearance is a wonderful debut. He’s tricked into going after Spider-Man, thinking him to be a criminal. They fight a couple times, things get relatively smoothed out, and they go their separate ways with Frank focusing on THE WAR.

    It’s Nobody’s perfect and we’re all susceptible to misinformation, but look at that guy. Look at the Jackal. Imagine that guy trying to convince you that Spider-Man is a bad guy who needs to be murdered. Imagine taking his word at face value without questioning how you’re getting your intel from St. Patrick’s Day Gollum.

    You dropped the ball, Frank.


    Incredible Hulk #395 (1992)

    Peter David and Dale Keown

    In at least two alternate realities, Frank’s been able to actually kill the Hulk. One time he snuck up on him while he was asleep in Banner form and the other time he shot him through the eye with an arrow tipped with one of Wolverine’s claws. In terms of main continuity, Frank’s first meeting with the gamma giant didn’t go so well.

    Hulk, in his Banner-minded phase, returned to his old alter-ego of Mr. Fixit, the Las Vegas bodyguard. The Punisher was in town, after the same threat, but heard rumors of the legendary Mr. Fixit and figured he was probably worth shooting down. Frank isn’t about wasted motion.

    When they finally clashed, Frank opened fire and was a bit surprised that Fixit’s “body armor” could withstand his bullets. He kept upping the ante on his weaponry until flinging a grenade at him. One of Hulk’s buddies knocked it back and it certainly would have blown Frank to kingdom come had the Hulk not snatched it out of the air and stared him down.

    Too bad we can’t see things from Hulk’s point of view. I’m sure Frank’s expression was priceless.

    Anyway, Hulk then proceeded to knock him out with a flick of a finger.


    Punisher/Batman: Deadly Knights (1994)

    Chuck Dixon and John Romita Jr.

    The Punisher has crossed paths with Batman a handful of times during Marvel/DC crossovers. In the '90s, they had two team-up stories. One was actually about Frank working with the Jean-Paul Valley version of Batman and later coming to blows with him. Frank got the best of EXXXTREME Batman and found himself admitting – almost as if realizing it was an editorial mandate – that he did it via cheating.

    The follow-up story had Bruce Wayne back as Batman as the two of them went up against the alliance of the Joker and Jigsaw. While Batman took down Jigsaw, Frank cornered Joker with intent to put a bullet in his brain. Batman stopped him and let the Joker run off into the distance. He was letting the worst criminal free, but he wasn't letting him die.

    Frank, understandably, dropped his gun and punched Batman in the face.

    Batman responded by claiming that, “I let you have that one because you probably think I deserved it.” As childish as that sounded, Batman backed up the claim by easily catching the next punch, throwing the Punisher into a pile of boxes, and telling him to get out of his city or else he’d be going to Arkham.

    Frank sulked off, claiming that Batman and the Joker deserve each other.


    Wolverine #186 (2003)

    Frank Tieri and Terry Dodson

    Ugh. Just because I’m writing this list doesn’t mean that I think every entry is actually good or well done. For instance, this one.

    Garth Ennis, who is a fantastic writer much of the time, has a tendency to write stories about how a military-trained antihero badass is able to humiliate and outright destroy any and all tights-wearing superhero pretty boys. It happened a LOT with the Punisher and Wolverine tended to be a regular target. This included a team-up in Punisher’s book that ended with a fight where Punisher shot Wolverine in the balls, blew his face clean off with a shotgun, ran him over with a steamroller, and then left him there. Ennis just savaged him there.

    But turnabout’s fair play and at the time, Frank Tieri was writing Wolverine’s comic. He decided to respond to Ennis by having Wolverine get his win back. Now, bringing in Tieri to counter Ennis is like bringing William Hung to a rap battle and it already started off a bit petty with the bullshit claim in the recap that Wolverine tends to beat up the Punisher more often than not. Uh huh.

    The entire issue was dedicated to a fight between Castle and Logan in an empty mall and it’s actually a fun and great-looking battle. The two humorously beat the crap out of each other and tossed insults until Wolverine won out by tossing Frank through a window.

    Then, with Frank motionless on the cracked sidewalk, Wolverine proceeded to discover – much to Frank’s sudden embarrassment – that some magazines of dudes in speedos had fallen out of the Punisher’s bag. Despite Frank’s desperate claim that they were just suspects (a reference to Murder by Death) Wolverine made fun of him and left him to be taken in by the authorities.

    Seriously, Tieri’s best comeback to the excessive steamroller beatdown was, “Yeah, but...but the Punisher’s totally gay! So there!”


    JLA/Avengers #1 (2003)

    Kurt Busiek and George Perez

    JLA/Avengers was the final Marvel/DC crossover before the two companies turned their backs on each other for good. The comic treated it as the first meeting between worlds, so when the Justice League looked through the Marvel universe, it was a bit eye-opening for them. Green Lantern and Aquaman saw the horrors of Dr. Doom’s rule in Latveria. Martian Manhunter and Wonder Woman saw the ruins of Genosha. Superman saw the aftermath of a Hulk rampage.

    In each instance, Batman told them to stay the course and NOT interfere.

    Then he and Plastic Man saw the Punisher gun down drug dealers in New York City. Batman decided to go against his own advice. According to Plastic Man on the next page, Batman spent twenty minutes beating the crap out of the Punisher, just to save the lives of those criminals.


    Marvel Team-Up #8 (2005)

    Robert Kirkman and Jeff Johnson

    The first meeting between the Punisher and Blade was sort of adorable in terms of how in-over-his-head Frank was. The two watched a mob deal go down below. Blade, an admirer of the Punisher, tried to explain that one of the parties was made of vampires. Blade explained that he too is a half-breed vampire and is essentially to vampires what the Punisher is to criminals. While Blade was pretty jazzed to be on a rooftop with Frank, Frank was a bit too close-minded.

    Vampires? Don’t be ridiculous. Blade was probably just a violent nutjob, no better than the mobsters below. Frank even shot him in the back to very little effect. Blade shrugged it off and Frank figured it was merely Kevlar. Blade spent minutes trying to explain who he was to Frank’s unbelieving ears.

    Then the vampires started feasting on the human mobsters. Blade’s targets took out Frank’s targets. All the while, Frank just glared wide-eyed and shocked at the carnage. He finally broke the silence to ask Blade if he wanted help. Blade simply smiled and jumped off the rooftop.

    “No. I got this.”


    Wha...Huh? (2005)

    Mark Millar and Jim Mahfood

    There have been a handful of joke What If stories done based on turning the Punisher concept on its head. One time he was a stern figure who made the Blob go to sleep without dinner while Dr. Doom had to sit in the corner and think about what he did. One time his family survived instead and became a family of gun-toting sociopaths.

    In Wha...Huh? Mark Millar got to do a two-page story where Frank ranted in his narration about the rich owning the poor, sweat shops, and how hurtful such labels as “criminals” are to people who live without privilege. All while watching an old lady get stomped on by two armed gang members. Frank tried to see eye-to-eye with them, but then suffered from a literal bleeding heart as they opened fire on him.

    Frank died, feeling bad that these poor youths would have murder on their souls for the rest of their lives.


    Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness #2 (2007)

    John Layman and Fabiano Neves

    Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness had Ash Williams tossed into the ill-fated Marvel side-universe while shit went down. Zombie Sentry infected the Avengers and the Zombie Avengers went on to devour anyone in sight while spreading the virus. Amongst the early madness, Ash came across the Punisher, who seemed kind of dismissive about the whole apocalypse going on.

    Proving himself a bit too close-minded from his lack of humanity, Frank proceeded to gun down a collection of mafia-based villains even after Kingpin explained that they needed to work together to survive the zombie outbreak. He even chose to ignore the plight of Thunderball, who despite being a villain, was shown to be a buddy of Ash’s.

    With a wave of zombified heroes and villains coming at him, Frank told Ash to stand to the side and toss him a loaded gun when commanded. Ash figured he had enough of Captain Kill-Happy and ran off to do his own thing.

    Frank didn’t notice this until running out of ammo. He was swarmed and infected immediately.


    Runaways #26 (2007)

    Joss Whedon and Michael Ryan

    Joss Whedon openly hates the Punisher and here we get to see that play out in a comic.

    The Runaways went to New York to meet with the Kingpin under the guise of a criminal syndicate. The underaged team was cornered by the Punisher, who had no qualms with shooting teenagers, admitting it wouldn’t be the first time. As he argued with Chase and pointed a gun at him, Molly – a mutant tween with super strength – surprised Frank with a punch to the gut.

    While Frank underestimated the Runaways, Molly overestimated Frank and figured he had powers himself. Instead, he stood there, paralyzed in pain with only his military willpower keeping him standing as he declared to himself that a soldier doesn’t fall. All the while, Molly pleaded for the others to forgive her, though they each had their own opinion on whether or not to be proud of her actions.

    Several issues later, as the arc finished up, Frank was shown to STILL be struggling to remain on his feet.


    Eminem/The Punisher (2009)

    Fred Van Lente and Salvador Larocca

    For some reason I may never understand, there was a Punisher/Eminem team-up comic that involved them taking on Barracuda. On his way to take down Barracuda (who Eminem grew up with), Frank shot up Eminem’s entire entourage. Soon after, Eminem beat Frank down with a pistol and unloaded it into Frank’s chest.

    Turned out Barracuda was hired by the Parents Music Council to assassinate Eminem. Through a little indirect teamwork, Frank and Eminem were able to defeat Barracuda and seemingly kill him with a chainsaw. Then Frank abandoned Eminem on top of a sheet of ice over a frozen lake and offered to go kill the Parents Music Council for hiring Barracuda.

    Yeah, you may have stood tall at the end, but you still got punked out by the Real Slim Shady. That’s on your permanent record, man.


    Punisher Annual #1 (2009)

    Rick Remender and Jason Pearson

    Early on in Rick Remender’s Punisherrun, the Hood resurrected a bunch of dead supervillains and gave them an ultimatum: either they killed the Punisher within 30 days or his magic would wear off and they would go back to being dead. Two of those villains included Letha and Lascivious, a pair of female wrestlers/villains who were killed by Scourge back in the day. Letha was granted the power to make people aggressive and Lascivious could make people fall in love.

    Their powers failed to work on Frank due to his emotional emptiness. Luckily, when Spider-Man entered the fray, Letha was able to set him off and make him want to murder Frank. Punisher vs. Spider-Man wasn’t a new concept, nor was mind-controlled hero vs. hero. In the end, it didn’t work out and it returned to the old trope of Spider-Man going, “I’m not going to let you kill them!” while Frank rolled his eyes.

    That’s when Lascivious figured to make Spider-Man fall in love with Frank and never let him go. While Frank was very, very uncomfortable with what was going on, the two wrestler ladies escaped and remained as free as their ass cheeks.

    While Frank certainly had a bad time, he got it better than Spider-Man. Without getting into it, Spider-Man may have had sex with a Doc Ock tentacle in broad daylight.


    Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe #4 (2012)

    Cullen Bunn and Dalibor Talajic

    There was a miniseries called Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe which...that’s actually pretty self-explanatory. An alternate universe version of Deadpool became aware of his fictional status, went violently insane, and decided to take out every hero and villain over four issues. It wasn’t very good.

    Deadpool killing the Punisher was the cover image for the final issue and it made sense. Frank already starred in Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe back in the '90s. It was like a passing of the torch.

    As the fourth issue began, various villains were shown mindlessly committing a mass suicide. Punisher took advantage of the madness by sniping Deadpool through a window and rushing to the scene before he could regenerate. Instead, Frank found the dead body of the Puppet Master dressed up like Deadpool.

    Deadpool appeared behind Frank with one of the Puppet Master’s voodoo dolls with a tiny skull insignia on the chest. Helpless to stop himself, Frank was compelled to put his own pistol to his head and pull the trigger.

    Afterwards, Deadpool bragged about being better at “killing the Marvel Universe” by using a Puppet Master doll of Galactus to cause some damage on a cosmic scale.


    Uncanny X-Force #29 (2012)

    Rick Remender and Julian Totino Tedesco

    Uncanny X-Force was about a team that would go around killing threats to mutantkind before they could act first. Deadpool was somehow the conscience of the group. In one adventure, they ended up decades into the future, where the world was run by X-Force in a Minority Reportsense. If anyone was even thinking about committing a violent crime, X-Force would hunt them down.

    One member of the future team was an elderly Frank Castle. At one point he warned Deadpool (present version) about an incident that would start a huge war. Rather than come up with any other kind of way out of it, Frank told him to kill Daken, kill the kid version of Apocalypse, and kill the never-before-mentioned son of Archangel. Deadpool groaned at this advice and proceeded to make fun of all this kid-killing.

    Then it got personal.

    “Look, for what it’s worth, I always hated you. You are a boring, two-dimensional, self-serious relic from the ‘70s. Oh, and Chuck Bronson called – he wants everything he ever did back.”

    Frank angrily pulled a gun on him and Deadpool was able to stop him by pointing out the kind of havoc that would cause through history.


    Thunderbolts #22 (2014)

    Charles Soule and Carlo Barberi

    I easily could’ve made this list into just “dumb Punisher stories” because “Punisher was in a dumb story” means he theoretically should be embarrassed. But it doesn’t really work like that because usually characters don’t admit that they’re in a bad story and if they do, it’s after the fact. It’s not like in Grounded, Superman was all, “Man, this is the stupidest shit ever. I miss fighting Zod.”

    Even though the brief status quo in the '90s where Frank Castle was reborn as an angel who went around shooting demons was indeed silly, at the time, Frank acted completely on-board with it because the guy writing it at the time thought it was super cool. Granted, once it was passed on to the next writer, Garth Ennis quickly buried the entire concept while going back to “mortal who shoots mortal criminals” storyline.

    Years later, Frank joined the Thunderbolts. In one story, Frank fought the unstoppable goddess Mercy and got beaten by her so badly that his body was mangled beyond medical hope. The rest of the team returned from an adventure in Hell (which involved screwing over Mephisto in a legal agreement) and realized that there was nothing they could do to help him.

    Said Hell adventure involved Deadpool sneaking into Heaven to steal an angel feather to go with his new pimp hat. Don’t ask. The feather reached out and healed Frank completely.

    None could understand it. Deadpool pointed out that it was like the angel feather recognized Frank and wanted to be with him. Almost like there was some kind of history between Frank and angels.

    Frank simply grumbled, “I don’t want to talk about it.”


    Superior Foes of Spider-Man #17 (2014)

    Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber

    Superior Foes built up the Shocker as a big loser in the villain community and...well, he pretty much is. His name is Shocker. You can’t live that down no matter how cool your costume looks.

    In the final issue of the series, the various mob factions in New York were converging for a big battle for supremacy. Like a moth to light, the Punisher made his way there (and may have stopped for a cronut after hearing good things from his Uber driver) to wipe out the whole lot of them.

    Instead, the Shocker arrived, in a Shocker version of the Spider-Mobile, while yelling, “DON’T MOCK THE SHOCKER!” If you’re wondering, that was a direct reference to the bizarre, kid-friendly Spidey Super Stories comic from the '70s.

    Shocker then used his gauntlets to blast the Punisher off into the distance before bringing unity to the NYC underworld.

    There isn’t a single part of that scenario that didn’t hurt Frank.

    Like everyone, Frank Castle isn’t perfect. No matter how badass and serious he’s supposed to be, he can’t be the best of the best in every single situation. Even the ultimate soldier has to stumble now and then. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes you get disrespected. But you keep on with your mission and hold your head high because at the end of the day, you still have dignity to your name.

    Yes. Exactly. This guy knows what's up.

    Gavin Jasper has his fingers crossed for Franken-Castle in Daredevil season 3. Follow him on Twitter!

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  • 11/18/17--15:36: Aquaman: The 1984 Fan Film
  • Plunge the depths of fandom with this enjoyable Aquaman short film, "The Cast of the Angler."

    News Chris Cummins
    Nov 18, 2017

    Because Jason Momoa's full debut in Justice League is so much fun, we thought we'd take a moment and share with you a forgotten low-budget flick featuring the fish-communicating character. Originally released in 1984, Aquaman: The Cast of the Angler is a wonderfully enjoyable short created by filmmakers Jeff Klein and Thomas Farr for a measley $10,000. Despite the miniscule budget, the effort has the feel of one of the era's superhero TV productions (not as good as the Wonder Womanseries but way better than The Amazing Spider-Man).

    In the link to the video on his YouTube page, co-creator Thomas Farr gives viewers some much-needed insight into this project's creation and subsequent emergence on the convention scene:

    Jeff Klein and I made this during film school for 10 grand. We won Best Fantasy Film from the Los Angeles Film Teachers Association and Best Picture CSUN Film Showcase. DC Comics gave us permission to shoot the film (Thanks Jenette Kahn DC Comics 1979-2002) The movie was pirated and sold as a TV pilot. I accidentally found it at a comic book convention in the 90's (as a double feature with another super hero pilot).

    After the film was screened we had a few Hollywood companies approach us wanting to make Aquaman into a show. New World Pictures brought us into meeting, optioned the material, and basically didn't talk to us afterwards. The show never happened. Jeff and I will always be proud of the film. We had written a million dollar script so we shot a few scenes as a trailer/short. No money for effects it has a "Six Million Dollar Man" look with the feel of the old Batman series of the 60's. We were ahead of our time. We always knew this could be a great property. Hoping the new movie is fun and exciting.

    While we are personally thankful that a 1990s Aquaman series didn't happen (especially given how TV handled the Justice League pilot), The Cast of the Anglerhelps us look at one way the character could translate to the small screen. WB execs, take note:

    The only problem here? We love the campy seriousness of this adventure and want to see more. Ultimately that's the trouble with fan productions like these, far too often they are exploding with joyfulness that is sorely lacking in carefully polished studio productions. These days Aquaman has left his punchline status behind him (well, mostly), but it's nice to revisit his goofy past sometimes as well -- as this video perfectly illustrates.

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    Does Jon Bernthal as The Punisher on Netflix have you hungry for more Frank Castle action? These are the comics you should read next.

    Feature Marc Buxton
    Nov 18, 2017

    And death has come to Netflix. Jon Bernthal's Punisher has been unleashed on the world and finally, after three live action attempts, fans finally have the Frank Castle they deserve. It's about damn time, too. You would think the elegant brutal simplicity of the Punisher would have been easy for Hollywood, but no. But here we are, so let the body count begin.

    But long hard roads are very familiar to the Punisher. For decades, starting in Amazing Spider-Man #129 by Gerry Conway and Ross Andru, the Punisher has been trying to eradicate crime in the Marvel Universe. In the '80s and '90s, his popularity peaked and the character starred in three monthly titles, countless mini series and specials, and tons of guest spots.

    In recent years, a murderers row of comic creators have lent their talents to the Punisher saga, adding to the bloody legend of Frank Castle. So without further ado, strap on the Kevlar as we present the finest and bloodiest Punisher tales of all time!

    Punisher: Circle of Blood 

    Before 1986, the Punisher was relegated to frequent guest roles. Now, some of these guest spots were pretty damn awesome, such as Frank Miller's use of the character in the writer's unforgettable Daredevil run, but until Steven Grant and Mike Zeck delivered the Punisher's very first solo series, he never took the top spot.

    In Circle of Blood, the Punisher told the New York underworld that he had killed the Kingpin. This resulted in a bloody turf war that allowed the Punisher to rack up the body count. When things got too incendiary, Castle had to clean up his own mess.

    Grant created the formula for all Punisher tales to follow while Zeck inspired visual storytelling that would guide the character for decades. And let me tell you, this bad boy still holds up to modern comic standards. Truly, Circle of Blood kicked off the Punisher's solo legacy and holy shit, would it make for a killer opening season if Netflix gives Punisher his own series.

    Buy The Punisher: Circle of Blood on Amazon.

    Punisher: War Zone

    In the early '90s, Marvel was publishing three separate Punisher titles. When Punisher: War Zone hit in 1992, you would have thought that the vigilante would have been over exposed and tired. Well, the creative team of Chuck Dixon, John Romita, and Klaus Janson proved that wrong right out of the gate.

    In this unforgettable story, Frank Castle goes undercover to systematically take the mob apart from the inside. The only problem is, Frank falls in love with a mobster's daughter. Sounds like a wacky comedy, but oh dear, it wasn't. There is a body count and a half as Dixon proves why he is considered one of the greatest Punisher writers in history.

    This story was sort of like The Sopranosdone Marvel style, but with Frank Castle in the picture, Paulie Walnuts wouldn't have been cracking too many jokes, he would have just been twitching in a dark alley from a high caliber slug to the guts.

    Buy Punisher: War Zone on Amazon.

    Welcome Back, Frank

    Hey, remember when I said there never could be too much Punisher? Yeah, I lied. By the late '90s, a market glut and piss poor storytelling did what no hitman could ever do, they nearly killed the Punisher. Some of the worst Punisher dreck was published during that period. There was even a series where the Punisher became an angel! As in, an honest to goodness heaven sent angel.

    But when Preachercreators Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon introduced their take on the Punisher, fans said yes to Welcome Back, Frank. Welcome Back Frank was a return to the Punisher's roots, a hard hitting killing spree that was as brutal as it was funny. Ennis and Dillon introduced a ton of unique characters to the Punisher mythos and reminded fans of why they fell in love with Frank Castle and his bloody knuckled world in the first place. It even featured the Punisher punching a polar bear in the face, and if that won’t sell you on Welcome Back, Frank, nothing will.

    Buy The Punisher: Welcome Back, Frank on Amazon.

    Born and Beyond...

    Let's be honest, any Punisher tales with Ennis' name attached as writer is worth your time. He is the greatest Punisher writer of all time and had a ridiculous long run with the character. When Ennis first started on the Punisher, he presented some action packed but often humorous stories. In the middle of his legendary run, Ennis turned on a dime and shifted tonal gears making his Punisher one of the grimmest and most potently violent monthly comics in Marvel history.

    "Born" is an intense Vietnam War story that served as the kickoff of Ennis' second act as Punisher writer, and the stories that followed took him back to the streets of NYC. This time, though, he toned down the over-the-top violence and humor of the "Welcome Back, Frank" era in favor of more grounded, even more brutal stories that had little to do with the Marvel Universe at large. Kind of like his Netflix series.

    Comics just don't get much darker than this. One story in particular, "Slavers" starts out like a typical Punisher story, but ends as Frank Castle learns the reality of human sex trafficking and vows to bring down Russian sex slavers. It's one of the most brutally honest and unflinching real world stories Marvel has ever published. If you want comics that have the flavor of the Netflix series, these are the ones to read.

    Start with Punisher: The Complete Collection Volume 1 and then carry on from there!

    Punisher: Enter the War Zone (2011-2012)

    Famed crime and comic writer Greg Rucka's Punisher doesn't speak much, but he doesn't have to. During Garth Ennis' long run on the Punisher, Frank Castle didn't have too many interactions with the Marvel Universe. But during Rucka's time as writer, the Punisher got involved with Daredevil, Spider-Man, and the Avengers, the latter of which tried to bring Frank Castle down once and for all.

    These stories introduced the character of Rachel Cole, a woman who used to serve under Frank Castle in the US Marines. Cole's entire wedding party, including her parents and husband, were killed in a mob hit gone wrong during her reception. This bride of death became one of the richest supporting characters ever to appear in a Punisher comic and her time with Castle was unforgettable. Rucka basically focuses on those the Punisher influencd during his endless war and in doing so, gives readers a realistic idea of what kind of force of nature Frank Castle truly is.

    Buy The Punisher: Enter the War Zone on Amazon.

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    After a disappointing opening weekend for Justice League, we consider how WB might rebuild the DCEU and its shared cinematic universe.

    Feature David Crow
    Nov 18, 2017

    It’s fair to say that Warner Bros. and DC fans are having a rough weekend. While the final box office numbers for Justice League’s opening weekend are still days away, it’s already clear that the superhero extravaganza event—the one that a studio sprinted toward making—is going to open south of the nominal $100 million-line. In sunnier weather, the estimated $96 million is nothing to sneeze at for a three-day gross. But when this is the number attached to a movie that cost about $300 million to produce following reshoots (and not counting marketing expenses), it’s pretty dismal. Especially if Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’s multiplier is anything to go by, then that opening number might amount to 50 percent of Justice League’s entire domestic take. (In other words, it may only gross about $200 million in the U.S.).

    To put this in perspective, the aforementioned and highly frontloaded Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opened at $166 million while setting up the theoretically even bigger Justice League movie in its title. It was supposed to be the dawn of a new age. And by extension, no movie featuring Batman in the last decade has grossed less than $158 million in its opening weekend. Until now. By comparison, Marvel Studios’ own maiden voyage of a team-up movie, The Avengers, grossed a then-record shattering $207 million in its opening, and with nary a character as popular as Batman to boot. Even Marvel’s “B-player” Thor just opened Thor: Ragnarok this month to $122 million, a number that may only be about $25 million higher, but looms like Mount Everest in terms of brand value.

    So yes, DC and its fans had a bad weekend. Still, this too shall pass, and like a beleaguered Gotham City district attorney, I can promise you that the dawn is still coming. It’ll be here tomorrow morning, in fact. So after the dust settles, the question is where does this leave the DC Extended Universe? Well, only studio executives can know for certain, but the news is not entirely doom and gloom.

    This is not the end of the DCEU. Aquaman is in the can and has a nice yearlong post-production process to be refined. Wonder Woman still has a decent shot at making real waves at the upcoming Academy Awards, and Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot are already preparing to shoot Wonder Woman 2 for release in 2019Wonder Woman is proof positive that good superhero movies continue to do even better business, and WB has a whole stable of these caped folks at their disposal. But things are definitely about to change.

    Chasing Marvel Ends

    When Zack Snyder and Harry Lennix strolled into San Diego Comic-Con’s Hall H in July 2013, Man of Steel was barely a month old. Yet with a box office opening that left WB executives cold and ready for some Shakespearean power plays (and which at $116 million looks ironically appealing today), it was clear some last-minute and frenzied reworking was done, for Snyder and Lennix were on hand to reveal that a Man of Steel sequel would really be a Batman vs. Superman kind of affair.

    Obviously WB was eager to jumpstart a shared multi-franchise behemoth as broad and lucrative as what Kevin Feige built with his Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is still the envy of all other studios in Hollywood. However, it is now apparent that rather than growing the cultural and financial worth of the Superman brand by placing Batman into his sequel, the rush to build a comparable model of crossovers and team-ups with DC's trinity has at least had a diminishing effect on Batman’s appeal. To the point where the direct sequel to Batman v Superman, and the reason for rushing into a “versus” film in the first place, opened to a grim a November holiday.

    Just as Man of Steel’s numbers led to a reckoning at WB, it is inevitable that Justice League’s smaller intake with a higher price tag will also lead to a sea change. Warner Bros. has already backed away from Zack Snyder’s vision for this universe. Painting BvS in his own image, Snyder was too entrenched in Justice League’s production after that 2016 film opened to big numbers (but a chilly critical and audience reception) to be replaced. And yet, WB was still able to curtail the original plan for Justice League, which was to be a two-part film event, into a streamlined and fairly standard one-and-done movie. And given that Snyder was not there to complete his vision for League, it is almost impossible to imagine him coming back for a Justice League 2.

    Further, it is hard to see any sort of Justice League sequel or crossover coming in the near future. Having already backed away from rushing a Justice League 2 into production like the studio had with its first entry, WB has also spent months laying the groundwork to distance themselves from the desire to emulate the Marvel model of a constant overarching narrative.

    This was crystallized in August when it was revealed that WB is developing a standalone Joker movie with director Todd Phillips and Martin Scorsese as producer. It was made explicitly clear that Jared Leto would not be playing the Clown Prince and that it would not be associated with the DCEU. While the fate of that particular movie remains murky—WB is also developing a Joker and Harley Quinn movie that would presumably include breakout Margot Robbie and Jared Leto—the message is clear. They’re backing away from doing serialized movies that lead to big events like Justice League or Avengers.

    Personally, I suspect this is going to become increasingly the new normal for DC movies. Warner Bros. sank well over a third of a billion dollars into Justice League and diminished the popularity of their biggest non-Harry Potter brand as a result. Justice League2 currently has no release date and is going to be placed on the backburner indefinitely. And it’s easy to guess the studio might even be gun shy about doing any crossover movie in the next few years that could be gleaned as a sequel to BvS and Justice League. Which means that Flashpoint—a Flash centric movie wherein Flash meets different versions of Justice League members in an alternate timeline while resetting his own reality, a la X-Men: Days of Future Past—is probably going to be quietly put on the shelf.

    I am not saying we will never get a Flashpoint movie, but a Justice League-centric film with actors the audience has yet to fully warm to in the next three years? Don’t count on it. WB has already eased audiences into terminology like “standalone” and “director-driven” movies. These massive team-ups are going to be taking a break.

    Who Still Gets a Movie?

    But by extension, it is also going to be curious who keeps their solo movie and who does not. With any course correction, studios are going to need to reevaluate where resources go. And when $150 million is considered making a PG-13 superhero movie on the cheap, that is a lot of resource to reconsider.

    First of all, those hoping for a proper Man of Steel sequel should probably put that dream to rest. Despite being arguably the most recognizable superhero in the world, the Last Son of Krypton has proven to be an elusive property for Warner Bros. in the last three decades. Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns sputtered out in 2006, and Zack Snyder’s Jesus-obsessed quasi-trilogy with the birth (Man of Steel), the death (BvS), and the resurrection (Justice League) has been met with indifference. Not clearing $300 million domestic made Man of Steel a disappointment, but the third straight movie with him as a central figure will make far less than $291 million in the U.S. Granted none of these movies have been particularly amazing. Nevertheless, to a studio that is being asked to spend another $200 million on a character who hasn't soared with audiences in this century… that becomes a problem.

    From a corporate perspective, BvS did everything the studio had been trying to do with the character for 20 years: he fought Batman, he acted like Batman, and then he died. It didn’t make him or the League founded in his name more popular. Superman is likely going on a sabbatical, especially if there are no team-up movies on the horizon.

    The question is where does that leave the rest of the Justice League? Honestly, I suspect the fate of Ezra Miller’s delightful Flash and Ray Fisher’s intriguing Cyborg lie in the hands of Aquaman. It is conceivable both of them will be put on hold as WB considers its options. But Wonder Woman was a bigger hit than anyone could predict for a variety of reasons, and that is reason enough to not shy away from the non-Batman characters. If Aquaman works, especially with audiences, the other two will have a better shot at still getting their solos. David Sandberg's Shazam is deep in pre-production and will begin filming early in 2018, so has a shot at making its 2019 release date if the studio doesn't put the movie on hold after this weekend (which at this point is anyone's guess). But the good news is Aquaman is directed by James Wan, who unlike Zack Snyder has made only crowd pleasers for the last decade. 

    As for various other developing DCEU properties like Justice League Dark and Green Lantern Corps., those too may be facing a lengthy stay of action until Aquaman comes out. I wouldn’t expect the Corps. to make their 2020 release date, at the very least.

    Until then, WB will focus on what works, which right now is Wonder Woman and Batman movies. Patty Jenkins will probably have even more freedom on Wonder Woman 2, as she will be less beholden to phantom team-up movies, and WB will continue building their little Batman mini-universe. It is hard to predict if Joss Whedon will stay on the Batgirl movie as director given his recent PR troubles, or which if any of the Joker movies get made, but I imagine movies starring both characters will happen. Batman remains ever a safe bet, and the Joker is the most popular villain ever. That plus Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn are why Suicide Squad was a hit despite not being a particularly good movie. And that goodwill is why WB will probably power through and make Suicide Squad 2 happen.

    But speaking of Batman…

    Expect New Faces

    As this massive retooling gets underway, it is also fair to say that Justice League is going to be the end of the DC road for some of its stars. As has long been rumored, Ben Affleck is done as Batman. We’ve heard from a reliable source that he has been out since last spring at least, and that Matt Reeves wants to choose his own lead for the solo Batman movie. If there was any waffling on this, it’s definitely moot after Justice League’s performance. We can’t comment on recent rumors that Jake Gyllenhaal is the new Bruce Wayne, but Reeves is definitely going to make his Batman movie, which is honestly where the Dark Knight is most effective as a character.

    Also, if there are no Superman sequels in the near or distant future, and Justice League 2 is at least a half-decade off, it is also probably safe to assume Henry Cavill and Amy Adams are going to part ways with the DCEU. Cavill has said he wants another Man of Steel movie, but it is difficult to imagine the star of the upcoming Mission: Impossible 6 waiting indefinitely in the wings for a cape. And quite honestly, the frequently Oscar nominated Ms. Adams has not had much to do since the first Man of Steel. It is easy to imagine she could be by now looking for the exits.

    Where does this leave the rest of the faces of the DCEU? From Jared Leto to Jason Momoa, it is hard to say. Only Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman has really caught audiences’ imaginations. But if she is the warm face of the DCEU, then it is conceivable many of those around her are replaceable.

    The DCEU will survive. But expect it to look very different after this weekend.

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    Who is Pete Castiglione on The Punisher? Yes, we know it's Frank Castle, but there's some interesting Marvel history here.

    News Mike Cecchini
    Nov 18, 2017

    This article contains mild spoilers for The Punisher.

    As Marvel's The Punisher on Netflix opens, we find a Frank Castle who has tried to put his personal war on the underworld behind him. Bearded and haunted, Frank spends his days on a construction site, tirelessly wielding a sledgehammer, and his nights reading Moby Dick. But Punisher historians might find some significance in the alias he chooses to hide from the world: Castiglione.

    Castiglione is an Italian name, which essentially means "castle." That's no surprise. But this isn't the first time in the character's history that name has been connected to The Punisher. In late 1990, The Punisher: War Journal comic by Mike Baron and Mark Texeira had a three-part story called "The Sicilian Saga." In it, Frank has to lay low after killing the son of a corrupt politician (not coincidentally, it's Senator Stan Ori, a minor character on the Netflix series), and he chooses to head to Sicily, since that's where his father was from. Of course, while he's there, he can't help himself, and ends up in conflict with a local mob family, the Besucchos. 

    I'm fairly sure this story was the first time it was confirmed that Frank was of Italian descent (although his ability to hold a grudge sure feels Sicilian to me). In any case, it's definitely the first time we learned that "Castle" was just an Americanization of his father's real family name, Castiglione. In any case, this is a pretty deep cut for the show to reference, and the inclusion of Senator Stan Ori shows it was no accident. What's more, in a later episode, Frank talks about how his deceased wife's grandmother was Sicilian. So while it's never made clear if TV's Frank Castle is Italian-American, his wife certainly was, and that could help explain why he took on an Italian version of his last name as a cover story. For a (somewhat) complete guide to Punisher easter eggs on the Netflix series, click here!

    Mike Cecchini is a nice Italian boy who says horrible things on Twitter all day.