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- 08/23/18--17:40: _Castle Rock: Stephe...
- 08/31/18--17:18: _8 In-Universe Harry...
- 09/02/18--12:06: _How Mark Oshiro's A...
- 09/04/18--09:47: _The Triumphant Retu...
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- 09/05/18--15:37: _Doom Patrol Casts T...
- 09/06/18--12:43: _The Stars Now Uncla...
- 09/07/18--08:01: _Iron Fist Season 2 ...
- 09/07/18--17:35: _How Steve Ditko Inf...
- 09/10/18--09:05: _Supergirl and Green...
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- 09/11/18--09:45: _Spider-Man: The Man...
- 09/11/18--12:50: _Best New Fantasy Bo...
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- 09/17/18--09:56: _Justice League, The...
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- 09/17/18--14:35: _New Miles Morales S...
- 09/18/18--12:17: _Ngozi Ukazu Intervi...
- 09/18/18--12:31: _Batman: Mister Mira...
- 09/18/18--12:38: _Join the Den of Gee...
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- 08/23/18--17:40: Castle Rock: Stephen King Easter Eggs and Reference Guide
- 08/31/18--17:18: 8 In-Universe Harry Potter Books To Be Made Into Movies Next
- 09/04/18--09:47: The Triumphant Return of Vertigo
- 09/04/18--13:00: Judge Dredd Mega City One Series: Karl Urban Updates
- 09/04/18--15:46: Solo: A Star Wars Story Novelization Review
- 09/05/18--08:18: Bruce Lee: Examining the New Biography of a Movie Icon
- 09/05/18--14:46: Batman: Crazy Quilt and Condiment King Return in New DC Comic
- 09/05/18--15:37: Doom Patrol Casts Timothy Dalton as The Chief
- 09/06/18--12:43: The Stars Now Unclaimed: A Space Adventure Debut
- 09/07/18--08:01: Iron Fist Season 2 Villain: Who is Mary?
- 09/07/18--17:35: How Steve Ditko Influenced Spider-Man PS4
- 09/10/18--09:05: Supergirl and Green Lantern Corps Team Up in Exclusive Preview
- 09/10/18--12:35: How You's Cast & Creators Subverted The Nice Guy Trope
- 09/11/18--09:45: Spider-Man: The Many Spider-Men of the Spider-Verse
- 09/11/18--12:50: Best New Fantasy Books in September 2018
- 09/11/18--12:51: Best New Science Fiction Books in September 2018
- 09/11/18--14:32: Spider-Man PS4: New Spidey Costume Explained
- 09/13/18--09:41: Does Superman Have a Future in the DCEU?
- 09/13/18--12:29: Vox by Christina Dalcher Review
- 09/14/18--17:03: Power Rangers Reveals Future History of Green Ranger
- 09/15/18--18:11: DC Universe Review: Superhero Streaming Service is a Good Start
- 09/16/18--18:08: Marvel Announces Winter Soldier Return
- 09/16/18--18:22: X-Force Return Announced by Marvel
- 09/17/18--08:37: Marvel's Fantastic Four to Feature the Wedding of Ben Grimm
- 09/17/18--14:14: New Martian Manhunter Series Coming From DC
- 09/17/18--14:35: New Miles Morales Spider-Man Series Coming From Marvel
- 09/18/18--12:17: Ngozi Ukazu Interview: Check, Please and Beyond
- 09/18/18--12:38: Join the Den of Geek Book Club!
- 09/18/18--13:08: Enter Our Vicious & Vengeful Book Giveaway!
- 09/18/18--15:31: Harley Quinn Destroys DC Continuity in Anniversary Issue
- 09/19/18--09:09: Batman: Nightwing Suffers Shocking Fate in New DC Comic
- 09/19/18--11:27: Back to the Future Manga Cancelled
- 09/19/18--16:46: Justice League and the Return of Starman to the DC Universe
- 09/20/18--10:20: Venom: Marvel Comics Reading Order
Castle Rock is full of easter eggs and references to the work of Stephen King. Here's what we've found so far...
This Castle Rock article contains spoilers.
Castle Rock is Hulu's homage to Stephen King's work, and it's full of callbacks to the horror classics that have made the writer such a beloved part of our pop culture for the last 40 years. From veteran actors to characters we've met in King's other nightmarish stories to haunted locations, I've found quite a few easter eggs and references to Uncle Stevie's work that should be of interest to Constant Readers.
This is still a work-in-progress, which means that you're welcome to call out easter eggs and references on the show that I might have missed. Just hit me up on Twitter or in the comments below.
In a metafictional way, several of the show's cast members act as callbacks to past King movies:
- Sissy Spacek, who plays Ruth Deaver, was the star of the very first movie adapted from the writer's work: 1976's Carrie, directed by Brian De Palma. Spacek played the troubled Carrie White, an ostracized teenage girl who develops psychic abilities and uses them to get revenge on those who bullied her.
- Bill Skarsgard, who plays The Kid, recently donned a clown costume to become the big-screen version of Pennywise the Dancing Clown in Andy Muschietti's IT adaptation.
- Melanie Lynskey, who plays Molly Strand, first appeared in Rose Redas Rachel Wheaton. In case you missed it, Rose Red was an ABC miniseries from 2002 written by King about a group of psychics that investigate a haunted mansion in Washington.
- Ann Cusack, who plays Warden Porter, is a recent King alum. She recently appeared in a few episodes of Mr. Mercedes as a character named Olivia Trelawney.
- Terry O'Quinn, who plays Dale Lacy, showed up as Sheriff Joe Haller in the great werewolf movie from 1985, Silver Bullet.
- The brilliant Frances Conroy, who plays Martha Lacy, recently starred as religious cult leader Nathalie Raven in The Mist TV series.
- Chosen Jacobs, who plays Wendell Deaver, also starred as Mike Hanlon in last year's IT adaptation.
- Alan Pangborn, played by Scott Glenn, has seen some things during his time in Castle Rock. While we meet him as a retiree on the show, the former sheriff has also appeared in other King stories. Pangborn most famously appeared in the novels The Dark Half and Needful Things, but has also shown up in the novella "The Sun Dog" and been mentioned in the novels Bag of Bones and Gerald's Game.
Castle Rock isn't the first time Pangborn has been on screen, either. In fact, he appeared in TWO movies in 1993, played by Michael Rooker in The Dark Half and Ed Harris in Needful Things.
One last fact about Pangborn: in the show's continuity, the former sheriff leaves Castle Rock, moving to Texas to live out the rest of his days, but returns to the haunted town to be with Ruth Deaver. That's a retcon of what happened at the end of Needful Things, though. Alan actually remarried after the death of his wife Annie and son Todd, getting an all-too-rare happy ending with Polly Chalmers and their new home in New Hampshire.
- Jackie Torrance carries a very famous name, although it's revealed that she gave herself the name to spite her parents. Castle Rock's street historian is related to the crazed Jack Torrance (she's his niece) but doesn't seem to have any symptoms herself. Her real name is Diane, apparently.
- While Molly Strand isn't a callback to any particular character from a past work, she does have a very special ability that Constant Readers can't miss: the shining. The telepathic ability first exhibited by little Danny Torrance and Overlook Hotel chef Dick Hallorann in the 1977 novel The Shining also haunts Molly, who can see, hear, and feel what others are thinking as well as see at least one ghost, that of the Reverend she murdered.
- The town of Castle Rock itself has appeared or been mentioned in several Stephen King stories and novels. Castle Rock, along with Derry and Jerusalem's Lot, make up a big chunk of King's haunted Maine. It's a pretty messed up place to live but that hasn't stopped anyone from living there.
Castle Rock is the main setting of novels The Dead Zone, Cujo, The Dark Half, and Needful Things. It's appeared in the novellas "The Body,""The Sun Dog,""Drunken Fireworks,""Gwendy's Button Box," and "Elevation, as well as the short stories "Uncle Otto's Truck,""Mrs. Todd's Shortcut," "It Grows on You,""Premium Harmony." The town is also mentioned in a few of the writer's other works.
- Shawshank State Penitentiary is Castle Rock's most infamous landmark. The prison first appeared in the 1982 novella "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption" and then in the Oscar-nominated film starring Tim Robbins, 1994's The Shawshank Redemption.
The prison has also appeared in the novels Dolores Claiborne, It, Blaze, and Bag of Bones, as well as the novella "Apt Pupil." It's also been referenced in four other King TV series: The Dead Zone, Under the Dome, Haven, and 11/22/63.
- Juniper Hill is the mental hospital where Henry Deaver plans to take the Kid once he's out of prison. This asylum has appeared in the novels It (most famously the home of psychotic bully Henry Bowers), Insomnia, Needful Things, Gerald's Game, The Tommyknockers, Bag of Bones, The Dark Half, and 11/22/63 as well as the novella "The Sun Dog."
- Henry asks Jackie about Nan's Luncheonette, a local food joint in town. Jackie informs him that it closed down after it was discovered Nan was operating the place as a brothel. Nan's Luncheonette has also appeared in Needful Things, The Dark Half, It, and "The Sun Dog."
- Several characters frequent the Mellow Tiger Bar. This watering hole has also appeared in Needful Things.
- The show references a particular rabid dog several times. This is, of course, a callback to the murderous St. Bernard Cujo who terrorized Castle Rock after he was bitten by a rabid bat in the 1981 novel Cujo. Donna and Tad Trenton were attacked by Cujo and forced to hide from the dog inside of a Ford Pinto for three days.
- Warden Dale Lacy mentions "the strangler" when talking about the past horrors that have occurred in the town. This is a reference to Frank Dodd, a former sheriff's deputy in Castle Rock who raped and murdered several women in the 1979 novel The Dead Zone.
- Lacy also references "the boy's body out by the train tracks." That's a callback to the 1982 novella "The Body," which was later made into the movie Stand by Me in 1986.
- Hanging in the warden's office at Shawshank is a picture of former warden Samuel Norton, as portrayed by Bob Gunton in The Shawshank Redemption. It's mentioned that Norton committed suicide in the office.
- Ruth Deavers fears that a stray dog Alan buried in the back of their house is still alive. She later sees the dog in a vision in their bedroom. This is a nod to 1983 novel Pet Sematary.
Fantastic Beasts was kind of a weird choice for a movie adaptation. Why not pick one of these random Potterverse books next?
It's that time of year again! Young witches and wizards are heading off to another year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy. Which means it's also time for another deep dive into the Potterverse with one of our favorite games: If Fantastic Beasts is fair game, then which other in-universe books from the Potterverse should get the big screen treatment?
Here are our Potterverse movie adaptation pitches...
Hogwarts, A History
You know your mind jumped right to this oft-read-by-Hermione book. A compendium of everything that has ever happened at Hogwarts (give or take), it is probably chock full of ripe narrative for on-screen adaptation. We've mentioned before how much we want a Hogwarts Founders movie or TV show, but we'll take pretty much anything from this sure-to-be juicy tome.
Quidditch Through the Ages
Fact: People love sports. Other fact: People also love Harry Potter. I can only imagine what kind of heights you'd reach if you combined the two. Now that visual effects are better than ever, it seems like a perfect opportunity to tell a Harry Potter-verse story set mostly in the sky. Whether Warner Bros. wants to go the Mighty Ducks route or the Ballers route is up to them, I just think the Quidditch locker room would be a great place for drama. It's Friday Night Lights — but in the sky.
The Tales of Beetle the Bard
This already got its own short film adapation in the form of the short, beautiful animated sequence seen in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, but there's enough story in this collection of children's stories to get a whole franchise going.
Or Netflix could make it an anthology series. You know you want to see an on-screen adaptation of Ron Weasley's fave: "Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump."
The Adventures of Gilderoy Lockhart
Before he was hit with an Obliviate, before he was Hogwarts' most crushed-after professor, Gildeory Lockhart was a full-time golden-haired con artist pretending to go on adventures and save the day. In canon, Lockhart would learn the stories from the people who actually did them, Obliviate them, then claim them as his own in his bestselling books. I say we tweak that a bit to have Lockhart bumble along on these adventures before Obliviating his new friends and stealing their heroics.
The Harry Potter verse could use an anti-hero protagonist. I suggest we start with Year With the Yeti.
The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore
Many a (very good) fan film has been made about the life of Albus Dumbledore, especially his early years. Heck, the Fantastic Beasts franchise is featuring a younger version of the book character in its second outing. Adapting Rita Skeeter's biography of the all-important wizarding figure would be particularly interesting if you kept the unreliable narrator aspect of Skeeter's work. Make it into a mockumentary or go the straight-forward route and tell the pretty tragic tale of Dumbledore's life. Either way, I would watch the heck out of The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore.
The Monster Book of Monsters
I think we all know that The Monster Book of Monsters is the superior creature-focused schoolback in the Potterverse. Unlike Fantastic Beasts, this book can actually be a character in its own adaptation. Hiding under beds. Biting people. Searching the wizarding world for an owner who can appreciate its particular brand of knowledge. It'll be like Monsters, Inc., except with more wizards.
From Egg to Inferno: A Dragon-Keeper's Guide
This one could star Charlie Weasley, a younger Newt Scamander, or some other random. Point is: Here be dragons. Everyone loves a good dragon (just ask Game of Thrones), and Harry Potter has woven them into the very fabric of its storytelling universe without fully commiting to the creature as a character. This one would be like How to Train Your Dragon... but live-action. Warner Bros. has probably already started designing the VR experience.
The Story of Minerva McGonagall
This one isn't technically based on an in-universe book, but McGonagall's awesome life story has to be mentioned in the pages of both Hogwarts, A Historyand The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore, right? Besides, a film about Minerva McGonagall practically writes itself.
Set the McGonagall biopic during her early years when she was helping her mom keep the messiness of magic from her Muggle father, stumping the Sorting Hat on whether she should be sorted into Gryffindor or Ravenclaw, and hanging out with Pomono Sprout (her future Hogwarts colleague). Or, you could jump into Minerva's post-graduation years, when she fell in love with a Muggle, but had to break both of their hearts because she couldn't tell him the secret of her magic. Best yet, set it during the First Wizarding World when McGonagall was a spy for the Ministry, suffering the losses of so many of her friends and family, including the Muggle she once fell in love with.
Some of McGonagall's backstory is fleshed out in Rowling's recent ebook series Pottermore Presents, but there is always room for more McGonagall story.
Which in-universe Harry Potter book would you like to see made into a movie or TV show? Share your picks in the comments below...
With Anger is a Gift, Mark Oshiro grounds a story of hope in some of the harshest realities of our contemporary times.
Mark Oshiro has been writing on the internet for more than a decade, most notably via his delightful review website Mark Does Stuff. This summer, he broke out of the internet and onto the pages of a book with his debut novel Anger is a Gift, a young adult fiction about a group of teenagers who stage a walkout at their high school when one of their friends is injured by a metal detector.
"[Anger is a Gift] is part autobiographical," Oshiro tells us. "I wanted to write a high school that looked a lot like my own. It wasn't until I got to college that I realized having a resource officer and having disciplinary procedures manned by police officers was not normal in this country."
A resource officer is a police officer who is stationed on a school campus, handling disciplinary actions. Oshiro said that for some young adult and adult populations who read Anger is a Gift, the concept of a resource officer is something they have only encountered in fiction, whereas, for some demographics, it is the first time seeing this part of their own high schoool experience in the pages of a book.
"[Kids] will tell me, 'I've never seen one in a book before,'" said Oshiro of his school visits. "There's this huge conversation about representation in young adult literature and one of the things that's been very interesting is getting to meet kids who tell me, 'I see myself in this school environment. I've never seen my high school represented in a book.' So it's been interesting. I don't know, it's weird putting yourself into a book in your experience and then people react to it and then feel like they know you super well, which they do because I was very honest in this book."
Anger is a Gift is an example of #OwnVoices, which, for those who are unfamiliar with the term, refers to marginalized authors writing about marginalized characters who share aspects of their own, traditionally underrepresented identities. It is the difference, for example, between white writers writing about characters of color versus writers of color writing about characters of color.
"I think one of the other things that's been really striking about the reactions from teenagers versus adults is that so many of the teens are saying, 'We're not used to stories like this,'" said Oshiro. "Most of my school visits have been in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Harlem, and Oakland. So I'm mostly speaking to brown and black kids about an issue that is very near and dear to them."
Oshiro recounts a school visit in the Bronx during which he entered the school through a metal detector. When he told the kids that his book was about a group of school kids who live that same reality, they were immediately engaged and surprised that someone could write a mainstream book about issues so relevant to their lives. Two major issues explored in Anger is a Gift are police brutality and systemic racism.
"I had another kid raise their hand in that classroom and say, 'Do the cops win in the end?'" said Oshiro. "And I was like, 'Well, spoilers. I'm not going to tell you that.' And he's like, 'No, I need to know.' And I was like, that's a reaction that I would not and have not gotten from an adult. These kids are living that reality all the time and they don't want to read a book where they lose in the end."
Oshiro pulled the kid aside afterwards to answer his question.
While Anger is a Gift is grounded in the realities of our contemporary world, the novel actually began life as a speculative fiction story. Like so many of us, Oshiro grew up obsessing over genre storytelling in particular, so when he set out to write his first novel, there was no question it would fall into the fantasy and/or science fiction genres he so loves.
"The whole book, by the way, is a reaction to Buffy the Vampire Slayer actually," said Oshiro. "That is what initially inspired the kernel of an idea that became the book. It just sort of naturally fell into this science fiction story. It was initially a book about how technology can be used to control people."
Oshiro finished his science fiction dystopian thriller and sent it out to literary agents in the hope of finding representation. He got a lot of rejections over the course of two years until one agent asked for a "rewrite and submit," in which an agent asks the author to address certain aspects of the manuscript and resubmit it for a second pass.
"He told me, 'I love this character. I love his voice,'" recounts Oshiro. "'We don't have very many young adult books that are dealing with things like police brutality and violence in high schools. His narration is so searing and so important. You also wrote a science fiction book and sort of stuck it down on top of it and it's kind of smashing everything together. Write one of those books, and send me only that one.' Which is, by the way, very difficult feedback to get at first. I basically just laid on the couch for a week and didn't breathe and was just like, 'That's a lot. I don't want to do that. That's so much work.'"
Oshiro wrote the outlines for two versions of his book: one, a contemporary story; the other, a science fiction.
"Whichever outline felt closest to my heart, the one that I felt the most passion for, was going to be the version I wrote," said Oshiro. "I wrote the contemporary one first because I was like, 'I don't write contemporary. This will be easy and I know it'll be terrible.' And never bothered with the science fiction one because it felt so right and I was like, 'Oh my god, he was right. He was right. This feedback is great.' So it ended up turning into a contemporary book."
While it may be contemporary fiction, Anger is a Gift maintains the deep interest in technology that was a part of that original science fiction thriller manuscript.
"I've had science fiction fans come up to me and tell me that, even though they know it's contemporary and all the technology in it is real, they really liked it as a science fiction fan because it almost felt like sci-fi light because science and technology still play a part in it," said Oshiro. "It's just the metal detector and the issues of how police forces in the United States use technology in their day-to-day lives. That stuff is still very real but it has that almost science fiction flavor, if that makes sense."
Another element of Anger is a Gift readers have latched onto is the dynamic diversity of the story. The novel follows queer black teen Moss Jeffries. Moss' world is filled with the kind of diversity that exists in the real world, but rarely makes it into the pages of fiction.
Identities represented in Anger is a Gift through the various, well-realized characters that inhabit its pages include: black, Latinx, disabled, Muslim, undocumented, asexual, bisexual/biromantic, nonbinary, trans, gay, lesbian, adopted, transracial. Their stories are not ones defined by tragedy, but by community, support, and coming together to work towards a more inclusive, just world.
Unlike many young adult books, Anger is a Gift has a plethora of supportive adult characters who support the teens in that pursuit. This includes Moss' mother, a source of comfort and support for our protagonist.
"YA fiction's about teens finding power and teens finding their own ways to do things and solving problems without adults," said Oshiro. "I very much wanted to write a book where the main character, Moss, is trying to find these solutions, but what if he had a parent that he was not antagonistic with?"
Anger is a Gift may not be a science fiction thriller, but it can still feel dystopian in its unflinching depiction and exploration of some of the harshest realities of our contemporary times. The diversity included in the book offers readers so many entry points into what can be a hard world to spend time in, whether you have real-life experience dealing with unjust realities like police brutality and systemic racism or not.
"It's interesting that a lot of adults come at it, and the people they're gravitating to are the adult characters versus the teenage ones," reflects Oshiro. "Then, if you go with demographics, my main character's gay so I tend to have the people who are most, I guess appreciative of the book are young queer teenagers who are like, 'Thank you for writing a book with an openly queer teenager who doesn't deal with homophobia and doesn't deal with parents who don't accept them.' Everyone comes to a book with their own history and so it has been really fascinating to see what people take away from it."
The most influential comics imprint of all time is back in full force, as DC kicks off a new era for Vertigo.
Sandman. Fables. Preacher. Lucifer. iZombie. Y, the Last Man, Transmetropolitan, 100 Bullets. The Books of Magic. These are just some of the titles that have forged the legend of Vertigo.
Since the late 1980s, Vertigo has been DC’s imprint for cutting edge, mature comics that defy limitations and genre. Some of the greatest voices in comics, including Neil Gaiman, Garth Ennis, Grant Morrison, Brian K. Vaughan, Brian Azzarello, Ed Brubaker, Peter Milligan, Jamie Delano, G. Willow Wilson, and so many more have walked the razor’s edge of Vertigo and through daring and constant experimentation, have broken the barriers of traditional comics and crafted the future. But for the past few years, the Vertigo output has been sparse. Yes, there have been cool projects here and there, but even the most ardent Vertigo supporter would have to admit that the flame of Vertigo has been burning low.
That’s all about to change with the roll out of seven new Vertigo titles that will reignite the brand and remind people why Vertigo is the go to place for new ideas and innovative talent. We checked in with Vertigo Executive Editor Mark Doyle for a breakdown of all the dizzying new ideas that will soon be infecting the unsuspecting comic book market.
Just so you know, I’m a big Vertigo head from years back. I spent my formative years wearing eye shadow and black nail polish because of Neil Gaiman.
That being said, why is now the time in this busy marketplace for a DC Vertigo relaunch and rebrand?
It’s the 25th anniversary. Once something has been around for a while, it’s time to look at it and say, “What’s working, what’s not? What do we like about this? What don’t we like about this?” That’s kind of the catalyst to all this. And, it also felt like it was the right time to look at the kind of stories we were doing and reevaluate things.
The last few years, the Vertigo output has been small. Quality but small. I just finished Death Bed, I enjoyed Motherlands, and Of course you’ve had Astro City rocking because that book is just the best. How did you go from those few titles into a complete Vertigo relaunch?
I came back to Vertigo in spring 2017. We restructured the editorial team. There were a few editors who were already here and we brought in two other editors and me. In restructuring, we sat down and said, “What are we doing? What do we like? What aren’t we doing? Where do we want to relaunch?”
If you remember, July of last year is when we teased the idea of “8-8-18.” Because we knew at that point we were relaunching the entire line and Sandman Universe. We knew that’s where we would do it. That was us planting a flag and saying, “Hey, we might be sort of dormant for the next year, but we’re going to be putting some things out but keep your eyes out on this date because big things are coming.”
That gave us the time, and, honestly, I’m grateful for the company for saying, “Take a minute, take a breath, figure out what you want to do and then go from there.” The next step after planting that flag was: let’s sit down and talk about what we want to do, what type of stories do we want to tell? What do we want to publish? What are we excited to publish? What are we a little bit scared to publish? From there, let’s find the talent to meet that criteria.
To you, what makes a Vertigo creator in 2018?
It just has to be someone with a voice with something to say.
I don’t think you’ll argue with me when I say what’s going on in comics right now is because of the influence of Vertigo, because of Preacher and Sandman and Transmetropolitan and Y and 100 Bullets and everything. That kind of made the book market. That led the way. Do you feel a sense of responsibility to plant the flags now so people in 2045 will look back and be like, “Yup, we’re here because of Vertigo.”
One hundred percent. And responsibility is the right word. That’s what I feel when I walk into work every day. I, like you, love Vertigo. I found Vertigo at a time that mattered the most to me. I take it very seriously that it’s my job to carry that torch and tell stories for a new generation of readers. That’s the goal.
Why the rebranding of DC Vertigo? Why add the DC to the already established brand?
It’s part of an overall publishing plan. I think the company is making some great moves to go from DC Comics to DC Publishing with different books aimed at readers of different age groups, styles and tastes. It makes sense to be a part of that.
Obviously Vertigo’s bread and butter has always been the book market, are there any plans to try to keep increase the single issues’ presence in the direct market? How are you going to get those Wednesday warriors to support the single issues?
That’s a good question, and it’s an ongoing conversation. It’s a lot of stuff we’re doing that I can’t talk about yet.
One of the things we’re doing is that, rather than look at them as two markets we’re trying to look at it as creating a cohesive campaign with a message. The books are so diverse; you can’t just sell the books to the same person. It’s more about, how do you sell each of these books individually? How do we reach a potential audience that each one of these books have, and make sure that the message is clear from the periodical and direct market and trade market and book market. Make sure we have all the teams in the room together creating one cohesive campaign.
The other half of it is, really, we have a lot of really smart plans from the digital side and house ad side. We want to engage the creator’s fan base. We have creators bringing in eyeballs from other media and other aspects of this business and reaching out to them.
How does Warners look at the Vertigo label knowing that you gave them iZombie, you gave them Lucifer, you gave them Preacher? I think every fan knows Sandman is the next Lord of the Rings waiting to happen, you just have to get the right visionary. 100 Bullets is one day going to take the world by storm. Does Warners look at Vertigo as an IP machine away from the superhero genre?
Yes, I think so. I am part of those conversations, but, look, at the end of my day, that’s not my job; my job is to make great comic books. That’s what I love to do. Look, I’m a total cinephile…I read comics because I want to read comics. I make comics because I want to make comics.
Right, I don’t think anyone wants to read a comic that is obviously a failed TV pitch. The Walking Dead was a great comic. No one had any idea that this could happen, and that’s why this happened.
Exactly, and I’m not looking at anything we are publishing now or developing now as anything that’s like, “Well, this would be a really expensive TV show so maybe we shouldn’t use aliens or spaceships.” I can’t do that. Anything that limits the creator, I’m not interested in. At the end of the day, that’s someone else’s job. I could make a great book. And look at the things that have been developed. The comics are an inspiration.
Right, I don’t think when anyone was reading Mike Carey’s Lucifer they said, “You know, this is going to be a really good police procedural one day!”
Talk about genres, other than Hex Wives from Ben Blacker and Mirka Andolfo and American Carnage by Bryan Hill and Leandro Fernandez, these new titles seem to be exploring genres outside Vertigo’s sweat spots of dark fantasy and crime. Is this a redefining of what DC Vertigo could be or can we expect more classic Vertigo books after the initial roll out?
I love all genres and I’m happy to explore them all. I’ve never thought of us as being about this genre or that genre, to me it’s always been about telling great stories and creating new characters. To do that, you have to be open. My hope is that we continue to grow and people see that we can do anything and everything. Historical fiction, romance, non-fiction…whatever. If it’s a great story it belongs here.
Let’s talk about each one of the new Vertigo books...
Border Town by Eric M. Esquivel and Ramon Villalobos
When a crack in the border between worlds releases an army of monsters from Mexican folklore into the small town of Devil’s Fork, Arizona, the residents blame the ensuing weirdness — the shared nightmares, the otherworldly radio transmissions, the mysterious goat mutilations — on “God-dang illegals.” With racial tensions supernaturally charged, it’s up to new kid in town Frank Dominguez and a motley crew of high school misfits to discover what’s REALLY going on. (September)
This seems like the most ripped-from-the-headlines type of new Vertigo book. Talk about the genesis of this project.
This sounds like I might be dodging the question, but honestly, when the pitch came in it was one of those pitches, I was like, “Yes, one hundred percent, yes!” It was a one page pitch at the beginning, and it just clicked.
But here’s exactly how this book got put together. It started when editor Jamie Rich was talking with Eric Esquivel. Eric had pitched a few things over the years. Jamie is editing the Batman books now, but he was here at Vertigo when I started, and we developed a lot of stuff together…Eric pitched a lot of stuff and nothing was clicking. Then Jamie went to Eric and did what good editors do which is say, “Pitch me the thing that only you can write. Pitch me the thing you can’t do anywhere else.” Eric regrouped and he came back with Border Town.
And here’s an interesting genesis, in between Jamie getting the pitch from Eric, Jamie moved over and did the Batman books full time, the book moved over to editor Andy Khouri. Andy loved the pitch, and immediately came back with Ramon as the artist. It was just sort of this combination one editor talking to a guy and being passed along and evolving. Watching them work together is incredible. There was this great moment where Jamie read it and thanked us because it was amazing.
There were some early disturbing, angry responses to this book including some disturbing stuff around San Diego Comic-Con, how do you deal with the risks surrounding such polarizing issues as you enter this new Vertigo line?
I mean, look, I don’t take any of this lightly, but, I look at it as, if someone is talking about this in a good way or a bad way, we’re doing our job right. We should be making books that elicit a response one way or another.
Right, you’re not doing Richie Rich.
Right. No. It goes back to your earlier question: What’s a Vertigo creator today? A Vertigo creator today is someone with a voice. And, Erica and Ramon have something to say. It’s my job to help them tell their story. If someone has a problem with that then don’t read the book, because frankly, I don’t want you anyway.
Hex Wives by Ben Blacker and Mirka Andolfo
“The women are too powerful. They must be tamed.” A malevolent conspiracy of men brainwashes a coven of witches to be subservient, suburban housewives. But it’s only a matter of time before the women remember their power... (October)
This seems like the most classic Vertigo style book of all the new titles. Was there a conscious choice of including a classic supernatural style Vertigo book?
Yes and no. We sort of started with the big picture top down question of what genres we want to do. But it wasn’t buckets we had to fill. It wasn’t like I kept hitting the pavement until I got a witch book. It wasn’t like that. But when it came in from Ben, you felt it scratching some itches. Not only did it feel like a classic Vertigo book, it felt very present. It felt like, “Oh yeah, with this set up we can absolutely explore some interesting things that we can explore right now.” Ben is just so genuinely interested in the process of everything… it really comes through in the work.
American Carnage by Bryan Hill and Leandro Fernandez
In this thrilling crime saga, disgraced FBI agent Richard Wright, who is biracial but can pass for white, goes undercover in a white supremacist group believed to be responsible for the death of a fellow agent. (November)
Bryan Hill has been killing it on Detective Comics. This book seems like it’s in the same zeitgeist as Spike Lee’s new film and the Vertigo classic Incognegro. What drew you to this book?
I think what I liked about this book is that it was a crime story. There was a high concept pitch to it. You’ll see when you start digging into it; it’s just an incredible, complex crime story where you have a hero that’s walking into a world thinking, “I get this. I can do this. I can subvert this.” Everything seems black and white and then everything changes once they get wrapped up in it.
Goddess Mode by Zoë Quinn and Robbi Rodriguez
In a near future where all of humanity’s needs are administered by a godlike A.I., it’s one young woman’s horrible job to do tech support on it. But when Cassandra finds herself violently drawn into a hidden and deadly digital world beneath our own, she discovers a group of super-powered women and horrific monsters locked in a secret war for the cheat codes to reality. (December)
This seems the most experimental of the new line. What makes this a perfect part of the Vertigo launch?
I think experimental is a good word. I think some people might turn their nose up at experimental, but I think good things come out of experimental. Again, it was the guiding light on all these books. Is the talent someone who has something to say? When Andy Khouri brought me Zoë, I said, “Yes, that’s a great idea.” That’s one of the things we said from the very beginning, “Let’s bring in people who aren’t doing comics but could make great comics.”
One of the amazing things about all these people we reached out to, you start with a pitch of, “Hi, I’m an editor and Vertigo,” and we don’t have to do the full pitch because talent is like, “Yes, stop right there. I’m in.” All of these creators knew DC and Vertigo and was like, “Yes!” That was a really cool response. This was something that came out of conversations with Neil Gaiman and working on Sandman Universe.
One of the observations he had was that it was amazing working with the creators he was working with, the writers and artists both, all these people who grew up reading and adoring his work. I worked on the Batman books, and when you called people to work on Batman, they’d lose their minds. A similar thing happens with Sandman and the Sandman world… that’s a very cool thing to see. You have a whole generation of people who’d rather do a Sandman book and a Vertigo book.
Talk about working with the co-creator of Spider-Gwen Robbi Rodriguez. He seems to know what the readers want before the readers know it.
That’s a great way to frame Robbi. I’ve known Robbi for a long time. I first met him in San Diego about five hundred years ago, and he had a self-published book. This was like 2010. He was looking to do some stuff. I worked with on a Vertigo book I did called F.B.P. We did that book, we hit it off.
As I was developing the new Vertigo books, he reached out to me and said, “Hey, I’m going to be wrapping things up on Spider-Gwen, I’m looking for something else. I feel like a challenge, I want to come home to Vertigo. What have you got?” At the same time this pitch was being developed with Zoë and it seemed like a natural fit. He did a book called Frankie Get Your Gun. It’s funny you say Robbi is ahead of the curve, because this book was Mad Max: Fury Road before Fury Road. He knows what people wants before they want it.
High Level by Rob Sheridan and Barnaby Bagenda
Hundreds of years after the world ended and human society was rebuilt from scratch, a self-interested smuggler with a price on her head is forced to traverse a new continent of danger and mystery to deliver a child messiah to High Level, a mythical city at the top of the world from which no one has ever returned. (2019)
Forgive my ignorance. I’m not familiar with this creative team.
It doesn’t surprise me that you’re not familiar because Rob comes from a different world. Rob comes from the music world. He was the artistic designer with Nine Inch Nails for years. He did concept designs and album designs. Web design was all Rob. He has this interesting aesthetic, but he always loved comics and is an interesting storyteller in his own right. When we reached out to him, he was like, “Yes, I’d love to do a Vertigo book.” Again, that was Andy Khouri coming to me and saying he thought of a person outside what we do but he likes what we do.
Barnaby worked with Andy on a book he first edited when he came to DC called Omega Men with Tom King. If you go back and look at that book, you’ll see what a terrific world Barnaby does with terrific characterization.
Safe Sex by Tina Horn and Mike Dowling
A dystopian sci-fi thriller about a ragtag team of sex workers fighting for the freedom to love in a world where sexual pleasure is monitored, regulated and policed by the government. (2019)
Safe Sex seems like it could be the sleeper hit of the line. Why should this book be on the readers’ radar? And please, tell us about how this book came about.
This book should be on readers’ radars because Tina is a great writer. She is another person that came outside of comics. She has this incredible podcast called Why Are People Into That?
In this case it was editor Amedeo Turturro who came to me and said, “Here’s an interesting person who never did comics.” I said, “Yes, we should reach out to her.” She immediately got it; she immediately got Vertigo and she had this really great, very relevant, very present pitch, but at the end of the day, it’s a story about love. It’s about people who want to love each other despite the world that’s around them. You frame all that in a dystopian heist narrative and I’m like, “Yes, great, I’m in.” But when you work with someone who’s never written anything before, you say let’s try a sample script to see if they do it. And she really nailed it. Early on, you can tell if someone is missing it, but she totally got it in terms of pacing a page and an issue, she got it.
I agree with you, it could be a sleeper hit. It looks great, too. With comics like this, it comes down to what does it look like. But here, there’s a definite tone to the world. It feels like a superhero book even though it’s not a superhero book.
Second Coming by Mark Russell and Richard Pace
God sends Jesus to Earth in hopes that he will learn the family trade from Sun-Man, an all-powerful superhero, who is like the varsity quarterback son God never had. But, upon his return to Earth, Christ is appalled to discover what has become of his Gospel and vows to set the record right. (2019)
From The Flintstones to Prez to Snagglepuss, Mark Russell is a writer that creates hits in the most unexpected places. Talk about working with Mark and what drew you to Second Coming.
It was a great pitch. A good pitch is when someone pitches you the first line and you can see what the next ten issues will be. Going back to what Vertigo means and what we want to be publish...one of my favorite Vertigo books before I got to Vertigo was Preacher. I always though Vertigo was a place that was not afraid to attack institutions and satirize things. I think that the world needs that. I think you need to hold things up and say, “Look at this people. Should we be doing this?”
The top line of Mark’s pitch was funny, but once you dig into the story and characters, you see he’s incredibly real and honest and just wants to explore what it means to be a good person. He pitched two characters that represent two extremes of the spectrum and that’s where great drama comes from.
Any plans to incorporate classic DCU characters into the new Vertigo like the imprint has done in the past like Joe Lansdale did with Jonah Hex, and others did with Creeper, Haunted Tank, Deadman, hell, even Sandman.
The short answer to that is, that’s when I take off my Vertigo hat and put on my DC Black Label hat. That’s when people come to me and say, “Listen, I have this take on this character in a darker format,” that’s when we talk about Black Label.
Judge Dredd: Mega-City One is in the pre-production pipeline, and comics scribe Rob Williams has a pilot written.
Rebellion Developments, the game publisher who has owned the rights to Judge Dredd and the larger 2000 AD comic book universe since 2000, announced in August of 2017 that it is partnering with IM Global Television to produce a television series called Judge Dredd: Mega City One, and news from San Diego Comic-Con told us that comics writer Rob Williams has a pilot script at the ready with a full two years of plot broken out as well.
Rebellion creative director and CEO Jason Kingsley will executive producer the show with Brian Jenkins. “It’s been really exciting to be working with Rob on the pilot,” Jenkins said in a statement via THR. “We have a really talented team here at Rebellion Productions and I’m really proud of them. Jason and I have been busy looking at locations and laying out season one as we gear up, to move forward into pre-production.”
Judge Dredd: Mega City One News
Karl Urban provided an update on his status with Mega City One in an interview with TrekMovie at Upstate New York’s recent Trekconderoga 2018. While the central source of speculation about the series is centered on the idea of Urban reprising his role as the mythology’s traditional central character, Judge Dredd, the deal is far from done at this point. As he reveals:
"I’m not attached to it, although I did have a preliminary round of conversations with them. I am interested in doing it. There are a lot of great stories to tell there. It is up to them. I don’t know really where they are in the stages of development. If I get the opportunity, great, otherwise some else will do it, and we can all see some more Judge Dredd. I did read the comics when I was a kid, as I teenager I read Judge Dredd a lot."
Of course, Urban isn’t exactly holding his cards close to his chest when it comes to his enthusiasm about once again donning the helmet, seeing as he’s been quite vocal about the idea for years, be it for a Dredd sequel movie or the television project that would evolve into Mega City One. However, he has some caveats, explaining:
"Their idea for Mega-City One is was basically to build the show around more rookie judges and young, new judges and Dredd would come in and out and I said that I’ll do it, but it has to be done in a meaningful way. I can’t just come on and grunt and pull faces, there has to be a story there for him. There has to be a kind of little arc and a story we are trying to tell. So, we will see what they do."
While Mega City One clearly has designs that don’t necessarily require Judge Dredd (or, for that matter, Urban’s version,) a prospective recurring run would be a spectacular thing for the series to tout. Urban, in the meantime, is about to shoot his starring role on Amazon’s TV series adaptation of Garth Ennis’s The Boys, as the status of Star Trek 4– in which he would prospectively reprise his role as Dr. McCoy – remains stuck at space dock.
Judge Dredd: Mega City One Story
Mega City One is described as a dramatic series focused on a team of street judges, law enforcement officers who act in a dystopian future as judge, jury, and executioner of criminals. The series is set in a grim 22nd century where the eastern seaboard of the United States has morphed into one giant sprawling metropolis called Mega City—the last refuge for law and order on an otherwise smoldering cinder. The series is also promised to deal with modern problems in its futuristic setting, including domestic terrorism and the tensions between the super-rich and disenfranchised.
Kingsley said in a statement, “I’ve read the pilot script by Rob and the team, and got that same thrill I did when I first discovered Judge Dredd. As we drive this project forward I’m always surprised by how much effort goes on behind-the-scenes to bring something like Mega-City One to the screen. I’m very pleased with how the whole project is coming together and looking forward to more exciting announcements in the coming months.”
Judge Dredd: Mega City One Concept Art
IGN has revealed concept art for Judge Dredd: Mega City One, and it looks appropriately noirish. They also show that the overpopulation of Mega City One will make Blade Runner look like a cozy paradise since the first image of the "Democracy March" shows even the suspension bridges in the sky are overcrowded. You can also see in the background that the people pollution has even drowned out the Statue of Liberty.
The second image, meanwhile, revels in the city's grimey underbelly, complete with an apparent lowlife's arrival in the city's dark and high-contrasted shadows.
Judge Dredd: Mega City One Cast
Karl Urban recently appeared at Star Trek's Las Vegas convention to chat about a whole bunch of things, which inevitably ended up including his possible links to Judge Dredd: Mega City One, the planned TV continuation of the 2012 cult classic movie featuring the 2000 AD antihero.
Urban revealed that “I am in discussions with them about that. I told them that if they write the material and give Dredd something to do and give him a function, I will be there. I would love to.”
Though Pete Travis' Dredd performed poorly in cinemas, it gained further popularity on its home release, and fans of both the film and John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra's character have been championing a return to Mega City One ever since.
More as this develops.
Judge Dredd: Mega City One Trailer
A video was released to explain how this may be the most exciting—and lasting—attempt to put Dredd in live-action yet.
Judge Dredd was previously portrayed onscreen by Sylvester Stallone in an ill-fated 1995 action movie and again by Urban in the 2012 cult classic. The character and his universe were created by John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra, and Pat Mills in 1977’s 2000 AD #2.
Judge Dredd: Mega City One Release Date
No release date has been set for Judge Dredd: Mega City One. Our guess is that it's still a ways away as the show is currently in early development.
The Solo: A Star Wars Story Expanded Edition novel adds scenes but doesn't evoke the tone of the film.
While reading Solo: A Star Wars Story by Mur Lafferty, I toyed with trying to separate it from the movie it was based on. Since the book is billed as an "Expanded Edition," I thought maybe the key would be to discuss what new things the book brought to the movie. But a novelization is still a novelization, and the book doesn’t add enough to the characterization or tone to set it apart. Some of the extra scenes are very strong, adding to Enfys Nest’s story. But overall, cheesy writing drags the book down, and many of the added scenes don’t add enough. In fact, Solo is a confirmation of the bad reputation novelizations generally have. Fans of the movie would be better served picking up Most Wanted.
Like The Force Awakens novel, the sentences in Solo are puffed up with clichés and contradictions. Objects become detached from their sources: Han watches many “feet” pass by his hiding place with no mention of the people to which the feet are attached. Some major scenes, such as Val’s death and the Kessel Run, are rushed. Han’s emotions are detached and simple—“He felt very alone at that moment.”
Possibly, the tone is intentionally goofy. Han himself is simple and direct, and likely to stumble over his own opinions the way the prose does. There are some funny lines here, but they struggle in the flatness of the story. That flatness means the book isn’t particularly fun, especially not without the charisma of the actors, which is what sold the movie.
Another one of the movie's strengths was its visual style: musty Corellia was dark and claustrophobic, the Falcon pristine and white in contrast to its later grime, the storms of Kessel colorful and strange. Little of this clutter comes through in the novel, little of the classic-looking set dressing or detail. This is particularly evident on Savareen, which established what little character its spaceport had through the rusting equipment on the messy desk.
In general, the physical descriptions are unremarkable—Dryden Vos is only described a few pages into his appearance—but the book does make an effort to lean into the lush textures of the wealth denied to Han, namely Lando’s cape closet and Dryden’s party. The contrast between rich and poor is central to the plot of the movie, and it’s at least partially present in the novel.
As a movie, Solo seemed to struggle with its themes. It was about freedom, except that the character who most explicitly calls for freedom ends up trapped. It was about Han growing, except that he could not grow too much or else it would undo his arc in A New Hope. The book similarly loosely handles Han’s motivation. Qi’Ra's motivation is a bit stronger: she spends some of the novel trying to define what exactly holds her to Dryden (other than the fact that she’s technically his slave), and the resolution of that question makes her eventual victory over him even more satisfying. Some extra scenes explain what happened to her after Han left her for the first time, emphasizing how her terrible situation forged her into a hard person scrambling for any bit of power in a system that fenced her in. (The young adult book Most Wanted did this as well.)
L3 and Qi’Ra’s relationship is expanded upon in the book as well. It's nice to see that L3 inspired Qi’Ra to understand her own motivations better. But the book’s interest in L3 is badly undercut by the movie itself. The book does an admirable job of giving L3 a voice after she is integrated with the Falcon, as well as making that integration something of a choice. But it still isn’t a choice. That script can’t be changed. In the end, L3 finds her situation only acceptable, and the Falcon is still a symbol of freedom for Han that has slavery at its core.
Enfys Nest fares a bit better. The novel gives an even-handed look at her identity and motivations, even if detail is lacking. One of my favorite scenes in the book was recently revealed in an excerpt where Enfys talks to Saw Gerrera, linking two major figures of the early Rebellion in the new canon. I really enjoyed learning what this scene has to say about Enfys’ approach to prickly negotiations and the early Rebellion, as well as the connections to other Star Warsstories. With some of the novel’s problems stemming from Solo itself, I can't help but think I’d rather be reading an Enfys novel by the same author. If only the prose didn’t stumble so much. I’d struggle to recommend this one to even the most die-hard fans.
Megan Crouse is a staff writer. Read more of her work here.
Here's what we learned from Matthew Polly's biography of the iconic martial arts hero, Bruce Lee: A Life.
At the very end of this mammoth biography, Matthew Polly writes about the first commemorative statue of Bruce Lee ever erected. It was in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and it was chosen by the people as a symbol of solidarity, justice, and racial harmony – and yes, they picked Bruce Lee rather than the Pope or Ghandi, both of whom had also been shortlisted. A spokesperson explained “We will always be Muslims, Serbs, or Croats, but one thing we all have in common is Bruce Lee.”
Of the many stories in the book, it’s maybe this one that helps show how profound an impact Bruce had on popular culture.
It also hints at another theme integral to Polly’s biography: that Bruce so rarely got the recognition he deserved. He achieved so much. He was the first Asian-American actor to have a lead role in a major western studio picture; he brought martial arts into the western mainstream and brought western fashion to the east; he broke down the barriers between eastern and western filmmakers; he arguably spearheaded the 1970s surge in Chinese nationalism that led to the socio-economic ascent of Hong Kong… plus he was just, like, the coolest guy ever, right? Yet it took until 2005 – 32 years after his death – before even a single statue was erected in his honor.
(A second statue was unveiled in Hong Kong the day after the one in Mostar).
You could look at Bruce Lee: A Life and think “what? Another Bruce Lee book? In 2018? Why do we need that?” but the reality is that, despite his super-stardom, there are relatively few Bruce biographies and even fewer that are reliable. His life is so shrouded in myth and legend that finding anything that isn’t caught up in that is hard. In Hong Kong, the tragedy of his death sparked a whole genre of low-budget, far-fetched biopics (and you can read much more about Bruceploitation films here) and, ultimately, fact blurred into fiction over time. The rumors about Bruce overshadowed the reality. Rob Cohen’s hit biopic Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, brought his work to a new generation, but continued the spread of well-intentioned misinformation into the 1990s and beyond.
Throughout Polly’s book, he gives us several descriptions of how Bruce Lee would demonstrate his skills to doubters. One of his favorite tricks was to have them hold up a shield for him to kick. He’d then kick it so hard, it would send them flying across the room. This is basically what Bruce Lee: A Life does to all previous biographies. It is a stunning piece of work that’s genuinely essential for fans at any level.
While it may not be a fully authorized biography (although both Linda and Shannon Lee have been interviewed for it), it is unquestionably an authoritative one. Polly spent the best part of a decade researching it and talked to almost every living person who played a part in Bruce Lee’s life. The benefit of such a comprehensive group of interviewees is not just that it keeps the anecdotes colorful and diverse (want to read about Chuck Norris splitting his pants open, IK+ style? It’s all here!) but that it substantiates what’s being said. There are several occasions where stories will vary and Polly makes a point of letting each voice speak in turn, often leading naturally to its own objective, but never leading, conclusion.
Considering how much contention there’s been about some of this stuff in the past, Polly’s lucid approach is a joy to read.
He even offers a new theory about what actually killed Bruce Lee (still one of the most hotly debated mysteries) and – while Polly’s not arrogant enough to suggest it’s a definitive one - it’s certainly a convincing one. All of these controversial elements are presented without sensationalism, which further lends gravitas to the book.
Like many fans, Polly first came to Bruce Lee via an illicit VHS tape of Enter The Dragon and quickly became obsessed. In fact, he took this newfound love of martial arts to the point where he went to China to train at the Shaolin Temple for two years (an experience he documented in his first book American Shaolin). In his afterword here, Polly writes about the time he spent researching Bruce Lee with a sense of awe. He had dinners bought for him by Betty Ting Pei, he trained with Dan Inosanto, he was charmed by Raymond Chow and Fred Weintraub, and basically went on the ultimate Bruce Lee adventure which – for a fan – must’ve been an astonishing experience. Although he’s an objective writer, this enthusiasm comes through on every page, which makes the book an exciting, breezy read, despite the formidable length.
The story itself reads like fiction. From Bruce’s early life in Hong Kong, his journey to the US in the 1950s and his time living in a closet at the back of a Chinatown restaurant, to his integration into swinging 60s Hollywood, eventual mega-stardom and sudden death, it feels almost too carefully structured to be true. Even as someone who had a fair pre-existing knowledge of Lee’s life, this book not only told me a lot I didn’t know but – most importantly – added so much detail to what I did. The vivid way Polly writes about each phase of Bruce’s life gives this all a strong sense of place. The authenticity is provided by all the interviewees who were there at the time.
As for Bruce himself, he’s given a far fuller personality here than ever before. He’s irascible, flawed, not always likeable, yet irresistible and wise. When shooting the hall of mirrors scene in Enter The Dragon– one of the greatest in film history – Bruce worked himself so hard, he nearly collapsed, causing co-star Shih Kien to yell, “Take it easy, son, this is only a movie!” What Polly’s book gets across is exactly why, to Bruce, it was so much more than that. Newcomers to his work will find great insight here as to why it’s so essential, while old fans will find a host of interesting angles from which to revisit.
When I first saw Bruce Lee: A Life, a whopping great hardback thing, I doubted whether it could justify its weight. Having now read it, this is a book that will take pride of place on my shelf, as it should on any martial art fan’s. It’s a beautiful, thorough and passionate piece of work and I can’t imagine anyone doing a better job. As someone who’s been a Bruce Lee nut since I first played the Bruce Lee Commodore 64 game back in the 80s, this brought back that excitement all over again. It’s a rare biography that can be as thrilling as it is informative but Matthew Polly’s created a piece of work here that’s equal to his subject – simply the best.
Bruce Lee: A Life is available now from Simon And Schuster. Buy it here.
Two of Batman's zaniest villains, Crazy Quilt and Condiment King, return in Batman #54 by Tom King and Matt Wagner.
Batman has the blues after Catwoman left him at the altar back in July, but no matter how hard he tries to brood on his own, Nightwing is there to help him get through the heartbreak. After turning up as Batman for a few issues while Bruce Wayne was on jury duty, Dick Grayson decides to stick around to fight crime with his mentor.
Batman #54, titled "The Better Man," takes a heartfelt look at how both of these heroes have helped each other cope with trauma over the years. It's a sweet issue that retells the story of Dick's first days as Bruce's ward following the death of the rest of the Flying Graysons.
Tom King, who excels at telling one-issue stories, is at his very warmest when exploring what keeps all of these Batman characters united. The legendary Matt Wagner (Batman and the Monster Men, Sandman Mystery Theater) serves as guest artist for what turns out to be a zany look back at two of the Caped Crusader's silliest villains.
Tied into this tale of father and son are Crazy Quilt and Condiment King, two B-list Batman rogues that time forgot. In the story, the original dynamic duo faces off against these baddies in past and present, much to Nightwing's amusement. The Dark Knight isn't quite as tickled, though. King doesn't shy away from the gags as Crazy Quilt tries to hypnotize the dynamic duo with his "quilt of colors" while Condiment King shoots ketchup and mustard at our heroes.
It's really no surprise that we've not seen either of these villains in quite some time, but believe it or not, both of these rogues have some impressive origins:
Crazy Quilt debuted in issue #15 of the popular "kids vs. Nazis" series Boy Commandos in 1946, written and drawn by none other than Jack Kirby. Yes, Kirby, best known as the co-creator of the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, The Avengers, and DC's Fourth World comics, also gave birth to Crazy Quilt!
The villain is introduced as a famous painter who moonlights as a crime boss. When he loses his vision, he goes through an experimental procedure that gives him his sight back but with one catch: Crazy Quilt can only see blindingly bright colors, driving him mad. While the Boy Commandos put Crazy Quilt in his place a few times, he eventually showed up in Gotham, where he had a rivalry with Robin, who blinded him again at one point. Most recently, Crazy Quilt has appeared in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold animated series and in an issue of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's seminal Batman run in the New 52 era.
Condiment King hasn't fared as well in recent years, but his debut did come at the hands of Bruce Timm and Paul Dini in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series. First introduced in the episode "Make Em Laugh," Condiment King challenges the dynamic duo as a callback to the slapstick of the 1960s live-action Batman series starring Adam West and Burt Ward. In the episode, the Joker brainwashes comedian Buddy Standler into becoming the Condiment King and pursuing a life of crime while delivering condiment-based puns. Needless to say, this condiment spewing baddie is easily subdued by Batman and Robin.
This is only the most recent blast from the past from King, who also has quite the liking for Kite Man, a B-list bad guy from the '60s. It's always surprising when King, who is best known for depressing the heck out of readers with miniseries like The Vision and Mister Miracle, introduces these cringeworthy deep cuts into his comics as comedic relief. They work, though, and in the case of Kite Man, they can even become tragic additions to his stories. Let's just say Crazy Quilt and Condiment King should consider themselves lucky that they only get punched by Batman and Robin in this issue and not something much worse.
DC’s Doom Patrol TV series has cast former James Bond Timothy Dalton for the starring role as Niles “The Chief” Caulder.
DC’s Doom Patrol has finally found its series headliner and fearless leader in Timothy Dalton! In an exciting casting coup for the DC Universe streaming service-bound Doom Patrol television series, Timothy Dalton will take the starring role as founder and leader of its titular team, Dr. Niles “The Chief” Caulder, reports THR.
The series, which has been casting at a rapid pace, recently added Alan Tudyk for the role of villain Mr. Nobody, pit against the Doom Patrol, which is led by Dalton’s Caulder and also consists of Robotman (Brendan Fraser), Cyborg (Joivan Wade), Elasti-Woman (April Bowlby), Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero), and Negative Man (Dwain Murphy).
Niles Caulder – created by Arnold Drake, Bob Haney and artist Bruno Premiani – first appeared in DC’s My Greatest Adventure #80, dated June 1963. He's a philanthropic genius whose challenges as a paraplegic inspired him to use his gifts toward the betterment of the subset of powered people who are considered freaks in society. Consequently, he forms the Doom Patrol, using the gifts of the super-powered team in the spirit of justice, the protection of the innocent and building a society of acceptance. Despite notable similarities to Marvel’s Professor X, Caulder’s first appearance was published just three months before the launch of the X-Men in the premiere issue, dated September 1963.
Dalton, a veteran Welsh actor who last appeared onscreen in an acclaimed run on the Showtime horror series, Penny Dreadful, will be sticking to the small screen for Doom Patrol. He has worked sporadically in recent years, having fielded a TV run on NBC’s Chuck and the BBC’s Doctor Who, as well as film roles in 2010’s The Tourist, 2007’s Hot Fuzz, and a prominent voice role as Mr. Pricklepants in 2010’s Toy Story 3 and its multimedia offshoot releases. Of course, his famous two-film run as Agent 007 – in 1987’s The Living Daylights and 1989’s Licence to Kill– is also complemented by his co-starring role in the notorious/beloved 1980 sci-fi adaptation, Flash Gordon.
Doom Patrol will arrive under the purview of executive producer Greg Berlanti – the small screen maestro of The CW’s continuity-connected “Arrowverse” television shows – and Geoff Johns, and is written by Supernatural scribe Jeremy Carver. The 13-episode inaugural season will premiere on the DC Universe subscription service sometime in 2019.
Fans of space adventures like Firefly, Farscape, or Star Wars, we have a new book recommendation!
This article was sponsored by Tor. The opinions expressed are our own.
Debut novels are rarely as fun and well-realized as Drew Williams’ The Stars Now Unclaimed, an action-oriented science fiction novel that follows a ragtag crew-of-circumstance as they fight to keep the galaxy safe from the Pax, a conquering force that believes the strong are deserving and the weak deserve only to be ruled.
The novel is told from the perspective of Jane, a member of The Justified and The Repentant, one of 17 species in the galaxy. Her job as a Justified operative is to collect children with supernatural gifts and bring them back to the Sanctum for schooling and training. When the book begins, Jane’s ship, Schaz, is just setting her down on the backwater homeworld of one such gifted child: Esa, a teenaged telekinetic orphan.
Williams doesn’t waste anytime throwing us into the non-stop action of Jane’s world. At over 150 years old, our main character is a skilled fighter, pilot, and strategist, but the Pax are right on her heels, also looking to capture Esa and use her for their own purposes. As Jane works to rescue Esa and bring her back to her own homeworld, she manages to attract a motley crew, including ex-boyfriend and exiled Justified operative Javier; fellow Justified operative with information vital to the war with the Pax, Marus; and, of course, teen orphan Esa, who has previously never been off her homeworld and is now hurtling through space.
Many of the plot elements in The Stars Now Unclaimed are reminiscent of Firefly, as well as other space adventures: the reluctant crew thrown together by a common enemy; an all-powerful, seemingly benevolent organization working to "fix" the universe; and an anger-driven force of barbarians. There’s even a character named Preacher—here, an android species known as the Barious. While Preacher may share a name and the trait of a mysterious past with the Firefly character, her interests in robot revolution reminded me of the woke droid, L3-37, in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Here, the robot character critical of human-robot relations, specifically the enslavement of the latter by the former, is much more nuanced and whole. Her barbs are not played of as jokes, but rather real, valid character moments and complaints. It’s a breath of fresh air after the well-intentioned, yet ultimately horrifying arc of the Solo character.
Williams is extremely skilled at world-building through action, plot, and character. The exposition is rarely overdone, with the device of Jane explaining things to the young, galactically-sheltered Esa working particularly well for doling out information about this world. One of the most effective aspects of this novel is the central premise of its setting, which is that the galaxy was hit with something called "the pulse" roughly 100 years prior to the story's start.
The pulse affected the technology on planets across the galaxy to varying degrees, knocking some planets back to pre-spaceflight technology or even pre-electricity, while leaving other planets entirely unaffected. Radiation from the pulse still affects planets that were knocked back further on the technology spectrum, which means they are unable to develop certain kinds of technology and, if you are a visitor from another planet with more advanced technology, it will quickly become inoperable at an exponential rate. It’s a very cool premise that gives each new location visited on Jane’s journey across the galaxy its own, distinct flavor, as well as a deeper mystery to the galaxy at large.
While the action-oriented nature of the plot can get a bit exhausting at times, the more than 400-page book is never boring, with Jane and her ever-evolving found family thrown into crisis after crisis. It’s rather cinematic in the way it all unfolds, and is well-balanced with excellent character work. I particularly liked learning about the personalities of the various Justified ships, from the sarcastic, yet accommodating demeanor of Jane’s ship Schaz to the endlessly upbeat ‘tude of Javi’s ship Bolivar. The depiction of ships’ AI personalities reminded me a bit of Farscape’s Moya, while the relationship between Justified operative and Justified ship was a milder, less symbiotic version of the human-daemon relationship from His Dark Materials, with operatives “raising” their ships from the time they are young, shaping their very personalities. In turn, the ships are intensely loyal to their pilots.
It is well-realized world-building elements like this one that make spending time in The Stars Now Unclaimed universe so damn diverting. It’s a world that feels lived in filled with complex characters with their own, developed backstories. While the stakes may be high, the action sometimes brutal, and the complex institutional politics uncomfortably unfamiliar, the novel is a lot of fun. It’s the perfect sci-fi reading for fans of action-driven adventures like Firefly, Star Wars, or Farscape.
Who is the mysterious Mary on Netflix's Iron Fist Season 2, and what is her Marvel Comics history? We've got you covered.
For decades, Typhoid Mary has been one of the most twisted, dangerous, and darkly fascinating women in the Marvel Universe. Typhoid Mary is a sometimes villain, sometimes hero, sometimes sympathetic victim, but wherever this powerful and deadly killer goes, great stories follow. But despite her introduction on Iron Fist Season 2, Typhoid Mary has long been considered one of the top stars of Daredevil’s rogues’ gallery, not Danny Rand's. One can speculate that Alive Eve’s Mary will move from Iron Fist to Daredevil and become a threat to the entire pantheon of Marvel Netflix heroes. If so, there is certainly a great deal of comic book history for Marvel to mine.
Typhoid Mary made her debut in Daredevil #254 (1988) where she was created by Ann Nocenti and John Romita Jr. Before we go any further, let’s take a moment to appreciate writer Ann Nocenti. Nocenti not only crafted groundbreaking classic tales in all the comics she worked on, she also had to follow Frank Miller on Daredevil. That would be daunting for any writer much less a woman writer at a time when the industry was even less balanced than it is today. But Nocenti kicked ass and dropped Typhoid Mary on an unsuspecting world, making her mark as one of the all-time great Daredevil writers. You can read her incredible Typhoid Mary stories here.
Typhoid Mary was part of a tradition of ill-advised Daredevil romances. Comic fans have known for years that dating Matt Murdock was a one way ticket to the grave, insanity, villainy, or something worse. Just a few years after Daredevil lost Elektra, he was hooking up with Typhoid Mary, a paid assassin. Needless to say, things got heated. Actually, in sparking a romance with Typhoid Mary, Murdock actually entered into three romantic relationships. Or is it four? Let’s explain...
Mary has dissociative identity disorder, but she’s also a mutant (don’t expect that latter part to show up on TV any time soon, as the Fox/Disney merger is still in progress). Mary’s primary personality does not present with powers, but her other two identities, Typhoid and Bloody Mary, possess telekinesis and pyrokinesis, respectively. Mary is a shy and timid religious woman, Typhoid is a bold adventurer, and Bloody Mary is a spiteful murderer who lives to kill men. And if all this wasn’t confusing enough, Mary has also developed a personality known as Mary Walker who is basically an amalgamation of all three.
So how did Mary become this twisted mass of anguish, pain, and death? Well (as usual), it’s all Daredevil’s fault.
Daredevil first met Typhoid Mary when the disturbed killer replaced Bullseye as Kingpin’s head assassin. Later, Matt Murdock met timid Mary and the two struck up a quick romance. Meanwhile, the Typhoid personality began a romantic entanglement with Wilson Fisk. Umm, wow. If Typhoid Mary arrives on the Daredevil TV series, that season just kinda writes itself, doesn’t it?
Mary came to Kingpin’s attention when she began murdering low level drug dealers in Fisk’s territory. Seeing an opportunity, Wilson Fisk hired Mary to play a deadly game with Daredevil. As Mary, Kingpin’s new assassin seduced Murdock, but as Typhoid, she annoyed Daredevil. And Typhoid Mary was the perfect assassin to foil Daredevil both as a man and as a superhero. Her telekinetic ability allowed Typhoid Mary to befuddle DD’s hyper-senses, and her dissociative identity disorder allowed her to change her appearance, voice, and even her scent.
Mary was born into an abusive home. As a small child, she lashed out at her father, severely burning and injuring him. She was sent away to an institution where she was further abused and experimented on. There, both Mary and Typhoid personas fully emerged. Mary was compliant, but Typhoid was brutal and rebellious, and also ran a constant fever.
So how is Typhoid Mary Matt Murdock’s fault?
Mary ended up as a prostitute (it gets darker, kids) and was present when Daredevil busted into a house of ill repute looking for a mobster known as the Fixer. For those not in the know, the Fixer was responsible for the death of Matt Murdock’s boxer father after the elder Murdock refused to throw a fight. So DD was fighting mad and the fearful ladies of the evening attacked the neophyte superhero to prevent a police raid. During the struggle, Daredevil accidentally punched poor Mary through a window, severely injuring her. This allows Typhoid to take over, as she swore no man would ever harm her again.
Back in the present, Typhoid manipulates a weakened Daredevil and with the help of other members of Daredevil’s rogues (sadly, no Stilt-Man), she tosses him off a bridge. What Typhoid didn’t expect was that Mary truly had fallen for Murdock, finds his broken prostitute punching carcass, and nurses him back to health. From there, Mary slowly begins to suppress Typhoid and briefly was able to thwart the dominance of the evil persona.
Whew, how dark was that?
Sadly, the dominance of Mary did not last and Typhoid Mary returned again and again to bedevil the heroes of the Marvel Universe. One of the earliest non-Daredevil appearances of Typhoid Mary was in Power Pack #53 (1990) because nothing goes together like a superhero team made up of tweens and little kids and an abused ex-prostitute who gets off on burning men. Wheeee!
One particularly fascinating appearance of Typhoid Mary was when creator Ann Nocenti brought her twisted creation into the pages of Spider-Man. In The Spectacular Spider-Man #214 (1994), Nocenti and artist James Fry had Mary befriend Mary Jane Watson when the rarely seen Bloody Mary persona came out. Bloody Mary began murdering domestic abusers, but Mary Jane helped Mary gain control and suppress Bloody Mary. And that’s the most Marys you’ll ever see in a comic at one time.
Typhoid Mary also frequently pals around with Deadpool, and yes, it’s disturbing, although ‘ol Wade is very accepting of her mental issues, more so than that jerk Murdock. But for now, let’s talk about when Typhoid Mary was associated with the Avengers.
In Avengers: The Initiative #4 (2007), writer Dan Slott and artist Stefano Caselli introduced a masked killer by the name of Mutant Zero. This deadly but unstable mutant works for all around government dickbag Henry Peter Gyrich. She is unleashed only for the deadliest of missions and is not at all trusted by her Avengers: Initiative teammates. For newer fans, the Initiative were a bunch of heroes in training, so we’re not talking classic Avengers like Captain America, Iron Man, or Black Widow here, but a bunch of green recruits trained by the US government as a byproduct of Civil War. Gyrich holds Mutant Zero in a bare white chamber called the Zero Room and basically only unleashes her during the direst missions. You probably guessed by now that Mutant Zero was indeed Typhoid Mary. Sadly, the time spent alone in the sparse confines of the Zero Room undid all the progress that Mary made as she began to lose control of her more deadly personas. Typhoid Mary abandoned the Initiative the first chance she got and ended up a powerful force in the Marvel underworld as a troubled killer for hire and a woman you just really want to avoid.
So there you have it, the really dark history of Typhoid Mary, a killer woman with a horrific past that is now coming to spread chaos on Iron Fist Season 2. Hopefully Alice Eve’s Mary will eventually make appearances on the other Netflix shows like Daredevil or Jessica Jones, as she'd be a perfect fit. In truth, Mary would be equally perfect in a Blumhouse film as she would in the MCU, and that's one of the reasons the character has endured for as long as she has.
Marc Buxton is an English teacher/private tutor by day and a former comic retailer who reads way too many comics, often choosing his Wednesday haul over groceries. Read more of his work here.
When designing its take on Spider-Man, Insomniac Games looked back at the work of legendary artist and Spidey co-creator Steve Ditko.
The Amazing Spider-Man is back on consoles and PC today with a new adventure brought to you by developer Insomniac Games. Not only is Marvel's Spider-Man the first major Spidey game since 2014, but it's a fantastic game to boot.
Part of the game's success has to do with its unique style. Insomniac Games' take on the webslinger isn't a direct adaptation of the comics or any of the movies. Instead, Insomniac's Spider-Man lives in a universe all his own, which means that some parts of the beloved Spidey mythos are bound to get remixed. For example, in this version of the story, Peter Parker's beloved Mary Jane Watson is an investigative reporter while the snarling J. Jonah Jameson becomes a right-wing radio pundit who spends most of his airtime condemning Spider-Man.
One of the biggest changes to the look and feel of the world of Spider-Man is the hero's own suit, which was redesigned for the game. With a big splash of white across his chest and some particularly stylish footwear, Spider-Man swings through the New York City skyline like you've never seen it before. But in order to create Spidey's unique look as well as the game's version of New York City, Insomniac also went back to the hero's roots and the work of legendary artist and Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko.
The late Ditko, who passed away earlier this year, created the character with writer Stan Lee in 1962 in the pages of Amazing Fantasy #15. Ditko was the first artist to bring Spider-Man to life on the page and drew his first appearance (with a cover from another legend, Jack Kirby). He was also the main artist on The Amazing Spider-Man, the hero's flagship book, from 1963-1966, all while creating another Marvel icon, the psychedelic Doctor Strange.
It's impossible to skip Ditko's work when crafting your own Spider-Man story, and Insomniac did its due diligence. I spoke to Insomniac art director Jacinda Chew at a recent PlayStation event about Spider-Man's new look and how it all came back to Ditko in the end.
"For us, when we're designing Spider-Man, we pretty much just looked at the comics," Chew says. "He's got a really deep, deep well of comic books to look at. We looked at the classic ones, like Ditko. He's the classic designer for Spider-Man suits and that was pretty much it."
While you'll play a large chunk of the game with Insomniac's original suit, Ditko's classic Spidey costume can be unlocked during the game. Still, Chew stresses that it was important for Insomniac's world to have its own Spider-Man look.
"We never really considered having the game star the classic Spider-Man suit because we knew we were going to create a game that was basically standalone," Chew says. "It wasn't going to be related to a movie. It wasn't related to the comics. It was going to be something that was in the Spider-Man universe and it's our very own Spider-Man. So we wanted to create a suit that was ours alone, and that's why we see such a unique suit."
Chew says that the team didn't really look at any specific storylines from the character's more than 50 years worth of comic book adventures. Ditko's work was the point of reference when looking back the comics.
"No, there actually wasn't a specific storyline at all. Like I said, I like Ditko's work because it's very simple and it's really graphic and it's pretty clean. Because if you think about some of the costumes that came out later, they're a lot more complicated, a lot more detailed. We want to keep something that is very iconic and that's what I feel like Ditko's suit is."
All that said, there are nods to other Spider-Man stories in the game, specifically through the suits you can unlock throughout the experience. On top of the Ditko costume, you can also unlock the Iron Spider suit from Avengers: Infinity War, the Scarlet Spider look, the Secret Wars suit, the 2099 getup, and quite a few others. Not to mention that a version of Miles Morales, the Ultimate Spider-Man, is running around in the game, too...
"I feel like we've definitely retained the spirit of Spider-Man," Chew says. "I feel like we did a good job capturing all of that and translating this into a video game."
Indeed, Marvel's Spider-Man is a celebration of what's come before, and especially Ditko's work. Play the game for only a short demo and you'll get a real sense of the love and care Insomniac has put into bringing Spidey to our living rooms. In that way, and in so many others, Ditko's work continues to live on past the page.
Marvel's Spider-Man is out now exclusively on the PlayStation 4.
Kara's mission takes her to the Green Lantern planet, and Krypto is along for the ride in this exclusive look at Supergirl #22.
I do have a tendency to go a little over the top for the art on some of these previews we get from DC, but let's be honest: they deserve them. Kevin Maguire, for instance, is doing the art on this arc of Supergirl,the story reset spinning out of Bendis's arrival at DC, and it's just wonderful. He's always been one of the most expressive guys in the game - he made his bones on the Bwa-Ha-Ha era of Justice League, and it was his facial expressions that sold so much of the tone of that book.
But lost in the praise of Maguire's comic timing and body language and facial acting is the fact that the guy really knows how to pace out action. His issue of The Man of Steel was unexpected in how effective the action sequences were, and how he deployed his masterful facial expressions to heighten the impact of the punching.
With that said, LOOK AT THE BEST DOG IN THE WORLD KRYPTO ISN'T HE THE BEST PUPPER. Seriously, human facial expressions are tough, but drawing a good dog face that's somehow equally as emotive and relatable as the human ones is really amazing. Maguire is the best, and that's what got me excited to check out this preview of Supergirl#22 that DC sent along. Here's what they have to say about the book.
SUPERGIRL #22 written by MARC ANDREYKO
art by KEVIN MAGUIRE
cover by TERRY DODSON and RACHEL DODSON
variant cover by AMANDA CONNER
Who murdered Krypton? Supergirl and Krypto rocket into space, en route to the Green Lantern world of Mogo, where she hopes to find clues about Rogol Zaar and his connection to the destruction of Krypton. Instead, she finds whispers and cover-ups. What are the GLs hiding? And will they go from Green to Red when they find out she’s in possession of Zaar’s weapon of war? (Hint: yes!)
And we haven't even talked about the classic look Weaponeers of Qward yet. Oh man this was just what I wanted out of a comic right now. Take a look.
The cast & creators of You discuss subverting the Nice Guy trope, making unwitting parallels to Gossip Girl, and changes from the book.
This article contains spoilers for Gossip Girl. Just so you know...
You, both the 2014 novel by Caroline Kepnes and the TV adaptation that debuted on Lifetime last night, gains its power from a brilliant trope subversion. The story takes you inside the mind of Joe (played in the TV series by Penn Badgley), a NYC bookstore manager who falls in obsession with a beautiful stranger named Beck (Elizabeth Lail). Joe uses social media and other modern technology to stalk Beck, molding himself into the perfect boyfriend and removing any obstacles to their burgeoning relationship.
The story is chilling for the ways in which, from a casual outsider's perspective, Joe is the ideal man women have been conditioned to seek out. He's smart, handsome, and literally saves Elizabeth's life when she falls onto the subway tracks in Brooklyn. It's only the viewer, who is given access into Joe's internal monologue and most disturbing of actions, who understands that this isn't a romance; it's a horror.
"My experience with Joe as Beck is great in a lot of ways, in that sense that he rescues me, he reads, he's smart, he's handsome," Lail told Den of Geek at the ATX TV Festival. "Beck's experience of him is a bit of a romantic comedy, in more ways than one."
Kepnes, who was involved in the adaptation, wrote the book as a way of looking at the way our culture can "romanticize people who seem romantic," she said at the ATX TV Festival.
"That's where I started with it," she said. "'Oh, a guy in a bookstore, holding books and being sweet and sensitive.' It's so easy to assume that's it, and this is why taking that dream and looking inside of it and what that experience is really like to be that person, and be in this romance, when we have all this social media, and all this communication, and how it affects us and how it enables us to do things."
Sera Gamble, who created the show alongside Greg Berlanti (yes, he has another show on TV), has proven adept at subverting, exploring, and embracing tropes in her work as showrunner of The Magicians.
"I really love books, or any written word, that take something that you've been taking for granted, and ask you to look at it in a more realistic way, to look under the hood at what's really going on," Gamble said.
And I was really struck by how much I believe in those romantic comedy tropes. I grew up loving Say Anything, and kind of believing that Lloyd Dobler's the perfect guy and reading this book, it made me contemplate that she had said no, and he was standing outside her window at night, not taking no for an answer.
"It really appealed to me that we could make a show that both tells a very modern, very specific, kind of twisted love story," added Gamble, "but also is giving a very hard look at those kinds of stories."
A subversion of the Dogged Nice Guy trope isn't the only meta commentary that is happening in You. Avid teen drama watchers may know two of the show's cast members, Penn Badgley and Shay Mitchell from hits Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars, on which they played Dan Humphrey and Emily Fields, respectively.
Both shows share themes of surveillance culture with You, though Gossip Girl in particular treated the use of modern technology to stalk as a mischief-making inconvenience rather than something horrific or invasive. It makes the casting of Badgley in You, whose character turned out to be the eponymous Gossip Girl in Gossip Girl, yet still managed to hold onto his role as a romantic lead, particularly interesting.
"In my mind, the pilot episode's first scene is Dan Humphrey," said Badgley, who admits he didn't notice the similarities before actually viewing the finished pilot. "When I saw it, I was like... that is way more similar than I'd ever personally wanted, but then, what it does is, from the second scene to the last scene of the pilot, it progressively is like, you don't know what the hell you're getting into here."
Did the show's creators set out to cast Gossip Girl himself in You's lead role?
"In all honesty, we never talked about it," said Gamble. "I mean, obviously, we were aware that [Badgley] had done really good work on that show, and I watched some of that show. I really like the meta thing, but that happened organically ... If you're doing a show that is partly about the hyper-connectiveness of technology in 2018, then I guess you're bound to find a little meta-thread of any other thing you've ever done."
The meta threads may not have been intentional, but that doesn't mean they're not a whole lot of fun for media-savvy viewers who like to make those kinds of connections.
"Now, having seen a lot of the series, and having shot the series," said Badgley, "I actually, personally, am really into that [comparison], so I'll say that."
Of course it's not just previous TV shows You is in conversation with. The adaptation, like all adaptations, is also in conversation with its literary source material.
"Without giving too much away, I will say that we do a lot of the same stuff in the show," said Kepnes. "Not all of it, but a lot of it. However, there are some deviations and surprises for fans of the book."
One of those changes is in the narrative's point-of-view. The book stays claustrophobically close to Joe's perspective, but, while the You pilot stays inside of Joe's head, later episodes will give us Beck's perspective, too.
"In an early episode, we switch to her POV," said Gamble. "We wanted to widen the world and make it more expansive. There is plenty of world inside Joe's head, but I think, to be a functional TV show and also really to earn the relationship when you're watching the characters onscreen, I thought that we had to get to know Beck a little bit better, if we were asking people to watch 13 hours about her."
Another new addition is the character of Paco (Luca Padovan), a young boy neglected by his parents who lives in Joe's apartment building. Joe takes Paco under his wing in what is the most sympathetic moment for the generally unsettling character in the show's first episode.
"This is the genius of Greg Berlanti," said Gamble, noting that Paco was Berlanti's idea. "I think part of the reason that he is maybe the most successful producer maybe in the history of television, certainly one of them, is because he has x-ray vision to find the heart in a story.
I think we talked so much while we were developing the pilot when we were writing it together is that Joe doesn't enjoy doing bad things. He just has a very strong personal code. And he has an especially strong personal code when it comes to the woman that he cares about. And there's this sort of, almost an old-fashioned chivalrous affect to it, but he believes in and it gives his life a certain kind of meaning, ina way. He knows what side of his code he always wants to be on and so Greg was just like, 'You know what we need is a kid. We need a five-year-old kid.'
Badgley said he loved working with Padovan, the young actor who plays Paco and he sees the scenes featuring Paco as "evidence of where Joe is trying to do the right thing." For Badgley, the addition of a character like Paco is the kind of change from source material to on-screen adaptation that makes perfect sense.
"The narrative paradigm that Caroline's used [in the book], that it's all in Joe's head, is so compelling and chilling," said Badgley. "But you can't do that in a visual medium ... That is why it was really necessary to have something like Paco, whereas in the book, I think the fact that something like that doesn't exist is similarly brilliant. The book is a little bit like: 'You're not getting Paco.' He's nowhere to be found."
As the actor inhabiting the character of Joe, Badgley's scenes with Padovan were "a respite" from the darkness of Joe's mind and his obsession with Beck.
"With Paco he's like, 'I'm actually going to be really open with you' in a way that he is not with others, surely due to all of his unwitting misogyny," said Badgley. "He doesn't have that with this young boy who reminds him of himself, for better or worse, often for worse..."
Who needs Peter Parker? We spotlight pretty much every different version of Spider-Man in the Spider-Verse ever!
Spider-Man is such a resilient and iconic character that the legend of the arachnid crime fighter can endure even when Peter Parker isn't the one under the mask. Heck, even Doctor Octopus was once locked inside Peter Parker’s mind, controlling the hero’s every action, transforming the once likable hero into cold and calculating Superior Spider-Man.
Spider-Man has also been a clone, a robot, fought crime in the future, in alternate realities, and even piloted a giant Japanese mech (what?), but no matter what iteration Spidey has taken, the legend has endured.
With an animated Spider-Man movie called Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse coming in December 2018, we take a look at the other versions of Spider-Man who have spun a web (any size!) over the years, from the frightening to the cool to the evil and even the downright strange.
Kang’s Spider-Man Robot
First Appearance: Avengers #11 (1964)
Created by Stan Lee and Don Heck
The first time the World’s Greatest Super-Heroes, the Avengers, met Spider-Man, it was not actually Peter Parker in the red and blue suit. It was a robot created by Kang. Now, it’s pretty badass that Kang can just use future tech to whip up a robot that perfectly replicate’s Spider-Man’s powers, but the ‘bot also almost took out the entire Avengers team. The real Peter Parker had to show up to kick the robot’s doppelganger butt and save the Mighty Avengers, marking the first Avengers/Spider-Man team-up, something film fans would chew off their own thumbs to see.
Before it was revealed that this faux Spider-Man was a machine, the Avengers even offered the phony arachnid Avenger’s membership, something the real Spidey would not gain for decades. Changing its name to Timespinner, The Kang Spider-bot even made a second appearance in Marvel Team-Up#4 (1996), taking on Spider-Clone Ben Reilly and the Avengers.
First Appearance Not Branch Ecch #2 (1967)
Created by Stan Lee and Marie Severin
Spidey-Man was the satirical version of Spider-Man that appeared in Marvel’s legendary parody book Not Brand Echh. Spidey-Man was drawn by the recently passed first lady of the Marvel Age Marie Severin so we thought we would honor one of her more lighthearted creations. Thank you for all you did, Marie, you will be missed.
First Appearance: Midnight Sons Unlimited #3 (1993)
Created by Mort Todd
This might be the most '90s concept ever.
A combination of Spider-Man and the once popular but oversaturated dark world of the Midnight Sons with an X thrown in there for good measure to hook gullible 1990s X-Men fans, Spider-X was a young, super hero obsessed kid named Brian Kornfield. Kornfield was transformed by the demonic tome the Darkhold into the ultra-violent Spider-X. Spider-X is a horrific parody of Spider-Man and his brutal tactics have brought this monstrous arachnid into conflict with Ghost Rider, Morbius, and other dark Marvel heroes.
I mean, is this guy excessive or what? He even shoots acid webs! Oh, early '90s Marvel, we really don’t miss you. Except for Sleepwalker. We really dig Sleepwalker.
First Appearance Ultimate Spider-Man #1 (2000)
Created by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley
One of the most important alternate Spider-Men, Ultimate Spider-Man took the world by storm with his debut issue in 2000. The concept was simple, follow the Lee/Ditko formula but in modern times. Fans fell in love with Ultimate Spidey due to the earnestness and honesty creators Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley infused the character with as they tweaked the Spider-Man legend.
Ultimate Spidey almost isn’t an alternate Spidey at all because the character is so infused with that Lee/Ditko magic DNA that makes Spider-Man so special. But when Ultimate Spidey dies in battle with the Green Goblin, a new legend as born as Miles Morales rises to take on the mantle of Spider-Man. With this bit of story genius, Ultimate Peter Parker takes on the Uncle Ben role to Miles and the legacy of Ultimate Spidey greatly diverges from the classic Peter.
Ultimate Spidey may be gone, but for over a hundred issues Bendis and Bagley reminded the world why Spider-Man is so great. So thanks Ultimate Spidey, you were truly spectacular and always amazing.
First Appearance: Avataars: Covenant of the Shield #1 (2000)
Created by Len Kaminski and Oscar Jimenez
Yes, having the words Avatar, Spider-Man, and the Avengers all in one concept might make Hollywood’s collective heads explode. Marvel’s Avaatars are alternative reality versions of super-heroes that dwell on a sword and sorcery world called Eurth. It’s kind of like Game of Thrones with more costumes and less incest. The Webslinger is the medieval version of Spider-Man, and fights alongside Captain Avalon and his team of super knights.
Actually, it all sounds kind of cool. Who is up for a return to Eurth? Just think of it: armored versions of Daredevil, Hulk, the Fantastic Four, and Iron Ma-uh, you know what, never mind.
House of M: Spider-Man
First Appearance: Spider-Man: House of M #1 (2005)
Created by Mark Waid, Tom Peyer, and Salvador Larroca
House of M is considered one of the better Marvel crossovers of the modern Marvel era. Of course there was a huge role for Peter Parker in the world where mutants ruled.
The House of M version of Spidey is fraught with irony, as Peter actually lives a good life in the dystopian reality. For one, the world believes Peter to be a mutant and as such, this Spider-Man gains fame and acceptance that the regular Marvel Universe Spider-Man never received, and many great tragedies of the Spider-Man mythos have been avoided. Uncle Ben and Aunt May are both alive and well, Peter is married to and has a child with Gwen Stacy, and Sony never interfered in the scripting of Spider-Man 3 and actually let Sam Raimi make a good movie (I made that last bit up).
First appearance: Spider-Man: Reign #1 (2006)
Created by Kaare Andrews
Spider-Man: Reign is an older version of Peter Parker who comes out of retirement to save his city from a conspiracy involving Venom. Spider-Man: Reign is one of the darkest takes on the Spidey legend you will ever see. The character is killed in Spider-Verse when his head his caved in with his dimension’s version of Mary Jane’s tombstone. See? Told you. Dark.
Amazing Spider-Man Family #1 (2008)
Created by Karl Kesel and Ramon Bachs
Spider-Monkey is almost exactly like Spider-Man. Except he’s a monkey.
Appearing as part of the 2008 Marvel Apes event, Spider-Monkey was kind of an arrogant dick and did not hesitate to kill. He did fight Doctor Ooktavius though, so there you go. Sadly, Spider-Monkey was killed during the Spider-Verse comics event. Also sadly, Spider-Monkey did not shoot webs out of his ass. You missed some easy hanging fruit there, Marvel.
First Appearance Amazing Spider-Man #700 (2012)
Created by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos
Let’s face it, on the surface having Doctor Octopus take over Peter Parker’s body and mind after Parker seemingly dies could have been just a dumb idea. Having Ock stay in the body for well over a year is just batshit insane. But you know what? It all worked, and against all odds and logic, Superior Spider-Man became one of the best conceived and best written alternate Spideys of all time.
At first it seemed that Superior Spider-Man was way more successful being Spidey than Peter ever was. As Spidey, Ock fixed Peter’s life and became a more efficient hero. Or at least he did on the surface, while in Peter’s body, Ock began to see just how rare and special Peter’s heroism was and became a better man through Peter’s example. At the end, Ock sacrificed himself to bring Peter back because the world needed the greatest, the best, the original, Spider-Man.
In recent years, Ock has returned and Marvel is paving the way for Ock as a new Superior Spider-Man. How will Amazing and Superior coexist? Stay tuned, true believer for the next stage of the legacy of the Superior Spider-Man.
First appearance Edge of Spider-Verse #5 (2014)
Created by Gerard Way and Jake Wyatt
SP//dr is an alternate universe version of Spidey created during Spider-Verse. She is a Japanese student named Peni Parker who is adopted by May and Ben Parker. She shares a psychic link with a suit of mech armor and helping her pilot the mech is an intelligent radioactive spider because awesome.
With all the Spider-Verse films and games on the way, we have a feeling that Peni Parker may become a big deal because let’s face it, there is just so much potential in a character that is a young Japanese kid adopted by the Parkers and BFFs with a heavily armored mech spider thing.
First appearance The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 3 #10 (2014)
Created by Dan Slott and Olivier Coipel
No, Spider-Punk is not a surly but compelling wrestler from Chicago who quit the WWE and is really vulnerable to being punched by MMA fighters.
Spider-Punk is another alternate version of Spidey introduced in Spider-Verse. Spider-Punk is really Hobart Brown. Brown lives on a world ruled by President Norman Osborn and uses his powers and punk rock influence to take the battle to the man! In the regular MU, Hobie Brown is the Prowler; so really, Spider-Punk is part of two Marvel legacies. Between comics and video games, Spider-Punk has been all over the place lately, so look for big things from this safety pin wearing punk rocker. OI!!!!
"Golden Sponge Cakes" Spider-Man
First Appearance: Spider-Verse #1 (2014)
Created by Dan Slott and Ty Templeton
Remember those old schools Hostess snack cake adds of the '70s where the heroes would defeat a large cross section of bad guys by tempting them with Twinkies, cupcakes, or fruit pies? Well, that shit’s canon, and that makes us so happy.
In the Spider-Verse event, writer Dan Slott introduces us to a version of Spidey that runs into the murderous Morlun. When encountering Morlun, this Spidey does what he does best, he tries to tempt the multi-dimensional killer with Golden Sponge Cakes. Morlun kills "Golden Sponge Cakes" Spider-Man. Bastard. But hey, the fact that "Golden Sponge Cakes" Spider-Man Spidey exists proves that there is hope for the human race.
Renew Your Vows Spider-Man
First appearance: Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1 (2015)
Created by Dan Slott and Adam Kubert
One of the most notorious moments in Marvel history is when Marvel abandoned the child of Peter and Mary Jane. Whaattt? Yeah, it happened. Mary Jane was pregnant, she was kidnapped, an unknown enemy stole the unborn child, and it was never spoken of again. Of course, the Spider-marriage ended as well in One More Day so it seemed like fans would have to live without the wedded Spider bliss. It goes without saying that fans would also have to live without the Spider-Kid... until Renew Your Vows, that is.
Renew Your Vows introduces a world where Peter and MJ are still married and are raising their lost-in-our-universe daughter Annie Parker. The three become a crime fighting trio as Peter trains wife and daughter to be just as amazing as he is. Renew Your Vows Spidey is a great look at what could have been if Spider-Man was allowed to become Family-Man.
First Appearance: Monthly Shōnen Magazine January 1970 – September 1971
Created by Kōsei Ono, Kazumasa Hirai, and Ryoichi Ikegami
Yes, Japan had two Spider-Men of its own. This is the less insane one.
When Junior High Schooler Yu Komori is bitten by a radioactive spider, he is transformed into Japan’s own wall crawling sensation. Similar characters and tropes from the legend of Peter Parker defined the Spider Manga. Yu had a loving elderly Aunt and worked for a cantankerous newspaper publisher, plus, he fought such menaces as Electro, the Lizard, and the Kangaroo.
Now let’s get this straight, of all the great Spider-Man villains to choose from, the Japanese creators of manga Spidey go with the Kangaroo?
Let’s just hope Mark Webb doesn’t follow that lineage of villains. He’s two-thirds there already! Manga Spidey is a fascinating alternate take on Spider-Man and is well worth seeking out, but really Japan, the Kangaroo?
MC2 Peter and Spider-Girl
First appearance: What If (Vol. 2) #105 (1998)
Created by Tom DeFalco, Ron Frenz
If old school is your thing, then MC2 Peter Parker and his daughter “Mayday” are the heroes for you. Essentially, the MC2 Universe was designed to be the next chapter in the saga of the Marvel Universe, stories that exist in a possible future.
Spider-Girl saw a retired Peter Parker try to find a sense of non-super-hero normalcy after he lost his leg in the battle with the Green Goblin. After his daughter May develops spider powers, May and Peter are thrust back into a world of adventure.
Writer Tom DeFalco and artist Ron Frenz fought low sales for almost a decade but kept plugging away at the Spider heroes of tomorrow. It’s a bit surprising that neither Disney nor Sony has tried to exploit this property It screams ‘tween sitcom.
Gerry Drew Spider-Man
First appearance: Spider-Girl #32 (2001)
Created by Ron Frenz and Tom DeFalco
Another MC2 DeFlaco and Frenz creation, Gerry Drew was the son of the original Spider-Woman, Jessica Drew. A rare blood ailment was killing the poor Drew child but it also granted him strange powers. Gerry decided to spend his last days fighting crime and trained under Darkdevil (who was, y’know, Daredevil, but dark...oh, comics).
Gerry didn’t wear the webs for long, but he was a neat character study into the psyche of a dying young man. Happily, Reed Richards promised to find a cure for the boy. Usually, Reed keeps his promises of finding a cure unless he’s trying to cure someone covered in orange rocks, so things probably worked out well for young Gerry.
I mean seriously Disney/Sony or whomever, this has CW or ABC Family drama written all over it. Why aren’t you on this? Victoria Justice as Spider-Girl...It writes itself!
First appearance: Ultimate Fantastic Four #22 (2005)
Created by Mark Millar and Greg Land
Superheroes are popular, and so are zombies. When Marvel mashed up their pantheon of heroes with flesh-devouring zombies, they discovered the two genres went great together.
On an alternate universe discovered by the Ultimate Fantastic Four, Marvel’s brightest paragons of justice had turned into lumbering flesh eaters. First Mark Millar and Greg Land, and then Mr. Zombie himself, Robert Kirkman, and artist Sean Phillips presented the dark world of Marvel Zombies, and by Odin’s dangling nether parts, was it disturbing.
Peter Parker was a particularly twisted version of the classic character, as ‘ol Pete was just as ravenous a flesh eater as the other atrocities, except Peter, in true Peter fashion, was ravaged with guilt over once having devoured Aunt May and Mary Jane Watson. One can only guess what happened to Ms. Lion.
After Kirkman, many other writers followed, fleshing (ha) out the twisted world of Marvel Zombies, and poor old guilt ravaged Peter was along for the ride, proving again and again with great power comes great hunger and the need to eat peoples’ faces and internal organs. Where’s Daryl Dixon when you need him?
First appearance: Mutant X #6 (1999)
Created by Howard Mackie and Cary Nord
In the Mutant X universe, (it was a reality where the regular Marvel Universe Havok went for a bit, Storm was a vampire...It was the ‘90s, don’t ask questions). Spider-Man was a mutated hero with four arms that joined forces with the heroes of that reality. He was killed by the villainous Goblin Queen and replaced with a four armed clone who was also killed at some point.
In the regular Marvel Universe, the real Spidey also had four arms for a brief period of time in a classic story by Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, and Gil Kane (Amazing Spider-Man #100-103), where he fought the Lizard and the freshly introduced Morbius. That story was awesome. Mutant X, not so much.
First Appearance: Powerless #1 (2004)
Created by Matt Cherniss, Peter Johnson, Alex Maleev, and Michael Gaydos
On the surface, Marvel’s 2004 mini-series Powerless doesn’t sound like the most gripping of sagas, but it was actually a surprisingly good read with insanely cool art.
The premise of the book is a world of super-heroes with no super powers. Most people just call that reality, but it remains one of Marvel’s best experimental series of the last decade.
In this powerless world, Peter Parker uses the net handle Spider-Man and is still bitten by a radioactive spider. Instead of super powers, Powerless Pete has a nasty, atrophied arm. Of all the Peters in all the multiverse, this one got the short end of the stick. With shriveled nasty arm, comes absolutely no responsibility beyond weekly doctor’s appointments and massive doses of antibiotics.
First Appearance: Marvel 1602 #1 (2003)
Created by Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert
Neil Gaiman’s contribution to the Spider-Man mythos, Peter Parquagh appeared in the great 1602 mini-series. Parquagh was an apprentice to the royal spymaster Nicholas Fury. As Parquagh globetrots with his master, he is constantly coming close to being bitten by unusual spiders. This finally happens in one of the 1602 sequels not written by Neil Gaiman (it was Greg Pak), and Parquagh’s life as a colonial adventure begins in earnest. It’s all very cool and a bit streampunky, and listen, it’s all created by Gaiman, so just read it.
First Appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #365 (1992)
Created by Peter David and Rick Leonardi
Even in the far-flung future, power and responsibility are irrevocably linked. In the long running Spider-Man 2099 series by Peter David and Rick Leonardi, all the elements that make Peter Parker so special are packaged and shipped into the future, where a geneticist named Miguel O’Hara wields the webs. O’Hara is a hero cut from the same cloth as Peter: a victim of an experiment gone wrong, he uses his powers to help his really close to dystopian future.
Spider-Man 2099 featured kickass world building by David. Using the world of Spider-Man and the Marvel Universe proper as a template, David built a fully functional future that was new enough to grip readers but different enough to provide for an alternate experience to regular Marvel continuity.
O’Hara is currently swinging around the present Marvel Universe and will soon be featured in his own title written by, because the comic gods are kind, Peter David.
The rest of the world learned of the awesomeness of O’Hara in the Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions video game, and it looks like Marvel would like nothing better than a 2099 resurgence.
First appearance: Spider-Man 2099 Meets Spider-Man #1 (1995)
Created by Created by Peter David and Mike Wieringo
When Peter Parker met Miguel O’Hara, another era’s Spider-Man went along for the ride: the tragic Spider-Man of 2211, Max Borne. It appears this Spidey was "Borne" to suffer. (editor's note: booooooooo!)
With the other Spider-Men, Borne had to fight his age’s Hobgoblin, who was actually his daughter driven completely bugnuts. This Hobgoblin was eventually killed by something called a retcon bomb, a weapon that would later be utilized by Dan Didio (oh, stop, we’re just kidding). If that wasn’t tragic enough, at story’s end, Borne is shot and killed by his era’s Chameleon, posing as Uncle Ben.
Wow, that’s one tragic Spidey. I’m shocked he didn’t Oedipaly kill Uncle Ben and marry Aunt May. Yeeesh. Spidey 2211 was designed by Mark Wieringo, so you know he’s visually awesomesauce.
First appearance: Spider-Man Noir #1 (2009)
Created by Created by David Hine and Carmine Di Giandomenico
His hands were stickier than a pick pocket at a taffy convention, he stuck to walls like dames stick to their make-up mirrors. And the way the creators of the Spider-Man: Noir mini weaved in noir elements while maintaining the super-hero integrity of the story was quite the narrative trick. Spider-Man: Noir remains one of the most successfully daring alternate versions of Spider-Man to date.
Now excuse me while I continue to practice my noir parlance: Miss Watson’s hair was so red it made blood insanely jealous, she had a body that made a priest want to break a stained glass window...
This version of Spidey also appeared in the Shattered Dimensions video game.
First Appearance: Spider-Man: India #1 (2004)
Created by created by Sharad Devarajan, Suresh Seetharaman, and Jeevan J. Kan
Pavitr Prabhakar became the Spider-Man of India in a book published in India and reprinted in the U.S. It’s actually pretty cool how the legend of Spider-Man really does translate well into very distinct cultures. It shows the universality of Peter. At least our creative friends in India had the good taste to not include the Kangaroo in their book.
Seriously, Japan, what’s up with that?
Original Run: 1999 -2001
Created by Michael Reaves and Will Meugniot
Batman Beyond was a pretty big hit back in 1999, so that same year, the fine folks at Marvel Animation created their own alternate take on Spider-Man. After the successful Spider-Man cartoon of the ‘90s, Marvel took Spidey and shunted him off to an alternate Earth where he had a new costume and met up with such characters as the High Evolutionary and Bestial versions of some Marvel’s most famous characters.
While an animated High Evolutionary should have given fans multiple nerdgasms, the haphazard animation and non-traditional take on Spidey and his world just made fans turn the channel. No Daily Bugle, No Aunt May, no M.J., no great rogue’s gallery, no thanks. Even Venom and Carnage as the recurring baddies couldn’t save this show.
This taught Marvel one great lesson: unless you have the talents of Paul Dini and Bruce Timm on your show, stick with tradition. Some cool characters did show up on the series like X-51 and bestial versions of Electro and the Green Goblin, which makes this one worth revisiting for curiosity’s sake.
Marvel also published a short-lived comic that tied into the show, featuring a Bestial Wolverine, so haunt those quarter boxes if you’re really that curious.
First appearance: as Mac Gargan -- The Amazing Spider-Man #19 (1964)/as Spider-Man -- Dark Avengers #1 (2009)
Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
As Mac Gargan, he was one of Spidey’s greatest foes, and when Eddie Brock gave up the symbiote, Gargan became the new Venom, but for a time, Gargan also took the identity of Spider-Man.
When Norman Osborn formed his own team of Dark Avengers to mock the heroic foes he despised so much, it would only be appropriate that Osborn made one of his twisted Avengers Spider-Man. Enter Mac Gargan, wielder of the Venom symbiote, and the most evil Spider-Man to date.
Gargan turned the sacred profane by giving into his baser cannibalistic instincts while calling himself Spider-Man. With his psycho teammates, like Bullseye as Hawkeye and Moonstone as Ms. Marvel, Gargan’s Spider-Man cut a bloody swathe across the Marvel Universe.
First appearance: Osborn #1 (2011)
Created by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Jamie McKelvie
After the fall of the first team of Dark Avengers, Osborn tried again, and he still get a kick out of pooping on Spider-Man's name. Osborn’s second Spidey was a South American Spider God transformed into a six armed version of Spider-Man.
Ai Apaec was dispatched when he was shrunk down by the Avengers and squished by USAgent. A fitting end for a disgusting monstrosity, that’ll learn ya to masquerade as our hero, you six armed freak. *
* Den of Geek would like to apologize to any followers of ancient archaic South American proto-religions that worship spider monsters.
First appearance: The Infinity War #1 (1992)
Created by Jim Starlin, Ron Lim, and Al Milgrom
Speaking of disgustingly horrific, multi-limbed versions of Spidey, we have this thing.
The Spider-Doppelganger was created by the villainous Magus, himself a clone of Adam Warlock, and was really the only monster clone that stuck around the MU after Infinity War. Spider Doppelganger (holy crap, is that a pain in the ass to type) had all the powers of Spider-Man, but looked like Steve Ditko’s worst LSD nightmare.
Doppie played a huge role in the ultra-popular, not as good as most people seem to remember, "Maximum Carnage" mega-event, where he became sort of a weird pet to Cletus Kasady. It should be noted that Doppie’s Toy Biz figure produced in 1996 completely ruled.
First appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #367 (1992)
Created by David Michelinie and Jerry Bingham
Blood Spider was an evil version of Spider-Man hired by the Red Skull and trained by Taskmaster. You know when your origin involves two guys with skulls for heads, you’re an evil S.O.B. Blood Spider was last seen trying to kill Venom. It didn’t go well. Blood Spider teamed up with evil versions of Hawkeye and Captain America named Jagged Bow and Death Shield because the '90s.
First Appearance: Spidey Super Stories #25 (1977)
Created by Jim Salicrup, Nicola Cuti, Bill Mantlo, and Win Mortime
Before the Scarlet Spider, before the "Clone Saga," there was Web Man, a villainous clone who wore an awesome inverse of the classic Spider costume. Web Man’s only appearance was in the Electric Company’s Spidey Super Stories comics for young readers.
Web Man was created by Dr. Doom. How many one-off villains produced for an educational comic can say that? Say what you will, Web Man’s one story was more clean, concise, and entertaining than any part of the "Clone Saga." So take a bow Web Man, you may be all but forgotten, but you got the clone thing right. Seriously though, that is a really cool costume. But yeah, Dr. Doom must have spent two whole seconds coming up with that name.
What do you want from a villain who thought Doombot was clever?
Turkish Spider-Man (1973)
OK, brace yourself now. 3 Giant Men (AKA: Captain America and Santo vs. Spider-Man; Turkish: 3 Dev Adam) features an evil Spider-Man taking on a Turkish Captain America and Mexican Wrestler El Santo.
No, I haven’t gotten into Grant Morrison’s stash. This is real:
So how does a Mexican wrestler team-up with a Turkish version of the living embodiment of America to take on an evil version of a famous super-hero? Who the heck knows, but in this nightmarish thing posing as a movie, Spider-Man uses guinea pigs as weapons and survives certain death multiple times.
There seem to be four different evil Spider-Men that survive Captain America and El Santo. In one scene, Spider-Man kills a nice young couple in cold blood and then steals a statue...I have no idea why.
The whole emo dance sequence in Spider-Man 3 doesn’t seem so bad now, does it? God, would I love to have been in the writers’ room for this one.
“No, no, clearly this movie needs a Mexican wrestler!”
“Yeah, in America, he is a hero, but in our film, statue-stealing thrill killer. That will rake in the liras!”
First appearance: Ultimate Fallout #4 (2011)
Created by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli
When Marvel killed off the Ultimate version of Peter Parker -- seemingly for good -- fans thought the House of Ideas must have lost their ever loving minds. Then they met Miles Morales, and most fans who gave the young new hero a chance, fell in love.
Miles came to the MU with his own supporting cast, his own set of problems and motivations, and most importantly, Peter Parker himself plays the Uncle Ben role to Miles. So by extension, Uncle Ben’s universal lesson of power and responsibility extends to Miles through Peter, and that’s pretty cool.
Miles continues his adventures, filling the late Peter’s shoes so nicely in the pages of Ultimate Spider-Man. Miles is more than just a flash in the pan, a place holder till Peter comes back, he is a true legacy character, and an everyman that lives the legend of Spider-Man. After the events of Secret Wars, Miles and many of his supporting cast have been shunted into the Marvel Universe proper and has taken his proper place as part of the mainstream Marvel pantheon of heroes. His diverse background makes him one of the most important new characters of the 21st Century.
Electric Company Spider-Man (1974-1975)
Many fans, who are now in their forties, were first exposed to Spider-Man through the educational public access show, The Electric Company.
The Electric Company’s Spidey appeared in shorts during the fourth and fifth season of the show, and saw the Wall Crawler communicate through word balloons designed to help the young viewers learn sight words. Not a bad idea actually. Many of these shorts were narrated by Morgan Freeman, which is 78 kinds of awesome.
Over the course of 2 seasons worth of shorts, educational Spidey took on such menaces as the Fox, Silly Willy, the Sandman (not the cool Sandman, but some dude that dresses as Wee Willy Winkle), the Yeti, the Bookworm, and the Sack (Stop that now!). The Electric Company Spidey suit was actually pretty cool, and the whole thing still has a wonderfully wholesome nostalgic feel, as the shorts remain a vital part of many fans’ Spidey evolution.
Attention Dan Slott and Brian Michael Bendis, we dare you to revive Silly Willy or the Sack. We dare you.
Japanese TV Spider-Man (1978)
Yeah, yeah, yeah, wow! So this exists:
In 1978, Marvel and the Toei Company signed a character exchange agreement where each company could use the others’ properties in their respective countries. This led to the Shogun Warriors comic in America and a Tomb of Draculaanimated film in Japan.
Not to mention this gem.
The Japanese Spider-Man stuck pretty close to Marvel’s version except for the fact that Japanese Spidey was a motorcycle racer named Takuya Yamashiro who found a UFO and was given super powers. He also used a giant mech named Leopardon. You know, exactly like Lee and Ditko envisioned. By the way, the name of the UFO was the Marveler and it was from the planet Spider.
This Spider-Man goes up against the Iron Cross Army, led by Professor Monster and the Amazoness, who use giant monsters called Bems to attack Spidey. Spidey frequently uses the Leopardon to defeat the Bems. I love this sentence.
By the way, one episode featured a song called "Spider-Man Boogie" (which is seriously the best thing ever). Thank you for this, Asia. Seriously. Thank you.
First appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #149 (1975)
Created by Gerry Conway and Ross Andru
It all started out innocently enough. DC had great success with alternate version of Batman and Superman, and Marvel wanted in on the fun, so they brought back the Jackal-created Spider Clone that first appeared and was destroyed in The Amazing Spider-Man #149 by Gerry Conway and Ross Andru.
Dubbed Ben Reilly, the Spider Clone actually lived, dyed his hair blond, and had lived a life away from Peter. Now Ben was back, and Spider-Man had to deal with the fact that there was another version of him running around.
Ben soon donned the Scarlet Spider costume, and other than an inexplicable hoodie, it was all pretty cool. That is, until Marvel revealed that Ben was the REAL Peter and Peter was the clone, basically telling fans the last 20 years of Spidey stories had starred the wrong Spidey. It was all a not so clever way to get rid of Spidey’s marriage to Mary Jane, but it didn’t work at all, as fans rejected the idea that their Spidey was the false Spidey. Instead of cutting their losses, Marvel decided to keep the story running for two whole years, and introducing more and more clones till the whole thing got more convoluted than six DC reboots.
Want to know how it ends?
Spoiler:Marvel lost 100,000 readers. The end.
Ben did spend a long time as Spider-Man in his own distinct costume, and even participated in the Marvel and DC crossover, defeating Superboy. Ben could have been a pretty cool character, as Marvel would prove later with the second Scarlet Spider, but poor Ben remains a symbol of '90s excess, a marketing idea gone horribly, horribly wrong.
Or does he? Because after the events of The Clone Conspiracy, Ben Reilly has returned. At first a misguided villain, Reilly is trying to redeem himself by becoming a hero once again. Once one of the most reviled concepts in the Marvel Universe, Ben Reilly is now starring in a vastly entertaining book written by the legendary Peter David. So not so fast Spider-Fans, there might be some greatness in this once hated character.
First appearance: Marvel Versus DC #3 (1996)
Created by Karl Kesel and Mike Wieringo
The Amalgam Universe was a mash-up universe where Marvel and DC’s biggest stars were joined together like brightly clad, heroic Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Characters like Dark Claw (Wolverine and Batman) and Super Soldier (Captain America and Superman) fascinated fans in two separate months of crossover events.
The only issue with Spider-Boy was, and I say this with all due respect to Superboy, that the modern Superboy was just not as iconic as Spider-Man, so fans kind of just raised an eyebrow at this oddity.
At the time, Spider-Man was a clone, as was Superboy, so you can see why the powers that be thought this sort of thing was clever. But it was all just a mish mash of stuff from Spider-Man and Superboy mythos.
Spider-Boy was created by Project: Cadmus and raised by Thunderbolt Ross (wait that’s a Hulk character...You know what, just go with it). The mash-up hero could walk on walls and had a web pistol. He also took the identity Pete Ross (traditionally Superboy’s BFF), so there really wasn’t much Spider-Man about him at all.
Oh well, Spider-Boy had a terrific creative team, so he had that going for him. Web pistol?
First appearance: As Kaine -- Web of Spider-Man #119 (1994)/As Scarlet Spider -- Scarlet Spider #1 (2012)
Created by Terry Kavanagh and Steven Butler
Ah, Kaine, good old Kaine, who in recent years proved that the wholeclone thing could work if done right. Originally, Kaine was a rejected Spider-Clone who went bad. He became a major thorn in the side of Ben Reilly and Peter Parker, and served as an anti-hero/straight up villain throughout the ponderous "Clone Saga."
In recent years, Kaine returned, and because he is engrained with Peter Parker’s sense of responsibility, reluctantly became the Houston, Texas-based vigilante, the new Scarlet Spider. Kaine’s solo book rocked and showed the story potential of a Spider-Clone that didn’t actively piss on two decades of continuity.
Kaine is currently running with a brand-spanking-new team of New Warriors, another great book worthy of any Spider-Fan's attention.
First appearance: The Spectacular Spider-Man #222 (1995)
Created by Tom DeFalco and Sal Buscema
Spidercide was the most monstrous clone of Peter Parker, who had all of Spidey’s powers but could also grow and shrink and grow blades from his body. If an alien race observed Earth through mid-90s Marvel, they would believe that every human could grow blades from their body. So thank you mid-90s Marvel for stemming off an invasion of Earth.
Oh yeah, Spidercide sucked.
Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham
First appearance: Marvel Tails #1 (1983)
Created by Tom DeFalco and Mark Armstrong
Wow, for good or for ill, Tom DeFalco sure created a ton of Spider-Man derivatives, but none cooler than Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham.
Long before Homer Simpson sang “Spider-Pig, Spider-Pig,” Peter Porker was doing the arachnapig thing with gusto. Peter was once a spider that was bitten by May Porker and was transformed into a pig-spider hybrid.
Peter Porker teamed with Captain Americat and the Goose Rider, and the fact that something called the Goose Rider exists should fill everyone with a blissful warmth.
Who doesn’t love Peter Porker?
Let us not forget Magsquito and Iron Mouse, or Ducktor Doom and Deerdevil. The whole thing is just pure gold, so thank you, Mr. DeFalco, Peter Porker more than makes up for Spidercide.
First appearance: Avengers: The Initiative #3 (2007)
Created by Dan Slott and Stefano Caselli
The Scarlet Spiders were three mysterious men who donned the Tony Stark’s red and gold Spider Armor and served in the Avengers Initiative team. What’s cool about this trio is that Dan Slott created them before he became the writer on Amazing Spider-Man. This was during a time where Peter Parker revealed his identity to the world during the Marvel Civil War.
The Scarlet Spiders lied and said that Peter used to be one of them, raising doubts in the public that Peter was really the true Spider-Man, providing Marvel an out during the whole public identity era of Spider-Man.
Slott never got to use this particular subplot because Mephisto and One More Day happened, but the Scarlet Spiders remains a fascinating curiosity in the Spider-Man mythos and pretty cool characters in their own right. Ironically, the Spiders also turned out to be clones, but not of Peter, but of the little known hero named MVP.
First appearance: As Ollie Osnick -- The Spectacular Spider-Man #72 (Nov 1982)/As Spider-Kid -- Amazing Spider-Man #263/As Steel Spider -- Spider-Man Unlimited #5
Created by Bill Mantlo and Ed Hannigan
Ollie Osnick was once an overweight but brilliant kid who idolized Dr. Octopus. Ollie went on a crime spree after he buildt his own Ock arms. When Spider-man stops Ollie, the shy lad begins idolizing Spidey and becomes the Spider-Kid.
As Ollie gets older, and loses some weight, he becomes the Steel Spider. The Steel Spider’s greatest claim to fame is having one of his real arms eaten by the Mac Gargan Venom.
The MC2 version of the Steel Spider doesn’t have such a tragic fate, as Ollie joins the Avengers in that universe. Ollie also once joined up with the Toad and Frog Man to form the Misfits, and Marvel should get right on giving that trio their own comic.
First appearance Edge of the Spider-Verse #2 (2014)
Created by Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez
No, not vampire or zombie dead, for real dead. So Spider-Gwen has become quite the thing, huh? In an alternate universe, it is Gwen Stacy who gains the proportionate strength and powers of a spider and Peter Parker who takes a dirt nap, inspiring Gwen to use her powers to help others.
After Gwen received her powers, she began fighting crime as Spider-Woman. Peter Parker was inspired by this new hero and injected himself with a serum that transformed him into this reality’s Lizard. This ended up with Peter dead and Gwen broken hearted but inspired to make sure this kind of tragedy never happens again. So in the Gwen-verse, Peter never became Spider-Man, ended up becoming the Lizard, and is now six feet under because who besides Curt Conners thinks it’s a good idea to just inject lizard DNA into one’s arm?
Oh well, this dead Peter was a dope...but an inspirational dope because he pointed Spider-Gwen in the right heroic direction after he lizard died.
First appearance: Edge of the Spider-Verse #2 (2014)
Created by Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez
William Braddock is exactly like Peter Parker, except Braddock is British, a member of the Captain Britain Corps, blond, a punk rocker, and did we mention he’s British? Spider-Man UK (who’s British) was introduced in the Spider Verse saga and eventually joined the Web Warriors. As we mentioned, he is also a Captain Britain so that’s like being Spider-Man and Captain America all mashed together...except for the nationality thing. There was no Brexit with Braddock as he loyally serves with his fellow Spidey’s in the Web Warriors.
So there you have it. All the Spider-Mans! Spider-Men? Spider-Mens? Remember, no matter the country, planet, or reality - with great power comes great responsibility. Except in Turkey, evidently.
Did we miss any of your favorite Spideys? Tell us in the comments! Read more of Marc Buxton's work here!
Looking for a good fantasy read? Here are some of the best new fantasy books to be released in September 2018.
Fall, one of our four favorite seasons to read, is upon us. Here are some of the fantasy books coming out in the month of August that we are most looking forward to checking out. Is your most-anticipated September fantasy read on the list?
Best New Fantasy Books in September 2018
Night and Silence by Seanan McGuire
Type: Book 12 in the October Daye series
Release date: September 4th
Things are not okay.
In the aftermath of Amandine's latest betrayal, October "Toby" Daye's fragile self-made family is on the verge of coming apart at the seams. Jazz can't sleep, Sylvester doesn't want to see her, and worst of all, Tybalt has withdrawn from her entirely, retreating into the Court of Cats as he tries to recover from his abduction. Toby is floundering, unable to help the people she loves most heal. She needs a distraction. She needs a quest.
What she doesn't need is the abduction of her estranged human daughter, Gillian. What she doesn't need is to be accused of kidnapping her own child by her ex-boyfriend and his new wife, who seems to be harboring secrets of her own. There's no question of whether she'll take the case. The only question is whether she's emotionally prepared to survive it.
Signs of Faerie's involvement are everywhere, and it's going to take all Toby's nerve and all her allies to get her through this web of old secrets, older hatreds, and new deceits. If she can't find Gillian before time runs out, her own child will pay the price.
Two questions remain: Who in Faerie remembered Gillian existed? And what do they stand to gain?
No matter how this ends, Toby's life will never be the same.
Timeless: A Drizzt Novel by R.A. Salvatore
Type: Book one in trilogy set in the world of Forgotten Realms
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release date: September 4th
At long last, New York Times bestselling author R. A. Salvatore returns with one of fantasy's most beloved and enduring icons, the dark elf Drizzt Do'Urden, in an all-new trilogy full of swordplay, danger, and imaginative thrills,
Centuries ago, in the city of Menzoberranzan, the City of Spiders, the City of Drow, nestled deep in the unmerciful Underdark of Toril, a young weapon master earned a reputation far above his station or that of his poor house.
The greater nobles watched him, and one matron, in particular, decided to take him as her own. She connived with rival great houses to secure her prize, but that prize was caught for her by another, who came to quite enjoy the weapon master.
This was the beginning of the friendship between Zaknafein and Jarlaxle, and the coupling of Matron Malice and the weapon master who would sire Drizzt Do’Urden.
R. A. Salvatore reveals the Underdark anew through the eyes of Zaknafein and Jarlaxle—an introduction to the darkness that offers a fresh view of the opportunities to be found in the shadows and an intriguing prelude to the intriguing escapes that lie ahead in the modern-day Forgotten Realms. Here, a father and his son are reunited and embark on adventures that parallel the trials of centuries long past as the friends of old are joined by Drizzt, Hero of the North, trained by Grandmaster Kane in the ways of the monk.
But the scourge of the dangerous Lolth’s ambitions remain, and demons have been foisted on the unwitting of the surface. The resulting chaos and war will prove to be the greatest challenge for all three.
The Late Great Wizard by Sara Hanover
Type: First book in a planned series
Release date: September 11th
A young woman must work with a magician who is not what he seems to find her father in this new contemporary portal fantasy series.
With her father vanished under suspicious circumstances and her old life destroyed, Tessa Andrews is determined to pick up the pieces and forge ahead. If only their borrowed house didn't shake and rumble as if haunted. But at least she and her mom have a roof over their heads, so her luck couldn't be all bad, could it?
As if to prove her wrong, Tessa gets an urgent call for help one night from crusty old Professor Brandard, one of the people on her charity meals route. She dashes over, only to find the house in flames and the professor gone. A handsome young man steps out of the ashes to request her assistance, claiming to be the professor and a Phoenix wizard. She not only has to believe in him, but in magic, for an ancient evil is awakening and it will take the two of them, plus a few shady friends, to stand against it.
Because the rejuvenation ritual has gone horribly wrong. The late, great wizard desperately needs to get his mojo back, for only if Brandard regains all his magic do they stand any chance of defeating this deadliest of perils.
The Queen of Crows by Myke Cole
Type: Book two in the Sacred Throne trilogy
Release date: September 18th
In this epic fantasy sequel, Heloise stands tall against overwhelming odds—crippling injuries, religious tyrants—and continues her journey from obscurity to greatness with the help of alchemically-empowered armor and an unbreakable spirit.
No longer just a shell-shocked girl, she is now a figure of revolution whose cause grows ever stronger. But the time for hiding underground is over. Heloise must face the tyrannical Order and win freedom for her people.
Time's Convert by Deborah Harkness
Type: Novel set in the All Souls universe
Release date: September 18th
On the battlefields of the American Revolution, Matthew de Clermont meets Marcus MacNeil, a young surgeon from Massachusetts, during a moment of political awakening when it seems that the world is on the brink of a brighter future. When Matthew offers him a chance at immortality and a new life free from the restraints of his puritanical upbringing, Marcus seizes the opportunity to become a vampire. But his transformation is not an easy one and the ancient traditions and responsibilities of the de Clermont family clash with Marcus's deeply held beliefs in liberty, equality, and brotherhood.
Fast-forward to contemporary Paris, where Phoebe Taylor--the young employee at Sotheby's whom Marcus has fallen for--is about to embark on her own journey to immortality. Though the modernized version of the process at first seems uncomplicated, the couple discovers that the challenges facing a human who wishes to be a vampire are no less formidable than they were in the eighteenth century. The shadows that Marcus believed he'd escaped centuries ago may return to haunt them both--forever.
A passionate love story and a fascinating exploration of the power of tradition and the possibilities not just for change but for revolution, Time's Convert channels the supernatural world-building and slow-burning romance that made the All Souls Trilogy instant bestsellers to illuminate a new and vital moment in history, and a love affair that will bridge centuries.
Vengeful by V.E. Schwab
Type: Book two in the Villains series
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: September 25th
Magneto and Professor X. Superman and Lex Luthor. Victor Vale and Eli Ever. Sydney and Serena Clarke. Great partnerships, now soured on the vine.
But Marcella Riggins needs no one. Flush from her brush with death, she’s finally gained the control she’s always sought—and will use her new-found power to bring the city of Merit to its knees. She’ll do whatever it takes, collecting her own sidekicks, and leveraging the two most infamous EOs, Victor Vale and Eli Ever, against each other once more.
With Marcella's rise, new enmities create opportunity--and the stage of Merit City will once again be set for a final, terrible reckoning.
The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner
Type: Standalone novel
Release date: September 25th
In a remote village surrounded by vast forests on the border of Moldova and Ukraine, sisters Liba and Laya have been raised on the honeyed scent of their Mami's babka and the low rumble of their Tati's prayers. But when a troupe of mysterious men arrives, Laya falls under their spell - despite their mother's warning to be wary of strangers. And this is not the only danger lurking in the woods.
As dark forces close in on their village, Liba and Laya discover a family secret passed down through generations. Faced with a magical heritage they never knew existed, the sisters realize the old fairy tales are true...and could save them all.
Barren by Peter V. Brett
Type: Novella in the Demon Cycle series
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release date: September 25th
Each night, the world is overrun by bloodthirsty demons. For centuries, humanity survived only by hiding behind defensive wards—magical symbols with the power to repel the demons. Now, the rediscovery of long-forgotten combat wards has given them the magic they need to fight back.
In Tibbet’s Brook, the fighting wards have brought change, but the factions and grudges of a troubled past remain. Selia Square, the woman they call Barren, has long been the force that holds the Brook together. As a terrifying new threat emerges, she rallies her people once again.
But Selia has a past of her own. And in a small community the personal and the political can never be divided. If Tibbet’s Brook is to survive, Selia must uncover memories she has buried deep—the woman she once was, the woman she once loved—and retell their story.
Best New Fantasy Books in August 2018
Temper by Nicky Drayden
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release date: August 7th
In a land similar to South Africa, twin brothers are beset by powerful forces beyond their understanding or control in this thrilling blend of science fiction, horror, magic, and dark humor—evocative of the works of Lauren Beukes, Ian McDonald, and Nnedi Okorafor—from the author of The Prey of Gods.
One demonic possession.
Can this relationship survive?
Auben Mutze has more vices than he can deal with—six to be exact—each branded down his arm for all the world to see. They mark him as a lesser twin in society, as inferior, but there’s no way he’ll let that define him. Intelligent and outgoing, Auben’s spirited antics make him popular among the other students at his underprivileged high school. So what if he’s envious of his twin Kasim, whose single vice brand is a ticket to a better life, one that likely won’t involve Auben.
The twins’ strained relationship threatens to snap when Auben starts hearing voices that speak to his dangerous side—encouraging him to perform evil deeds that go beyond innocent mischief. Lechery, deceit, and vanity run rampant. And then there are the inexplicable blood cravings. . . .
On the southern tip of an African continent that could have been, demons get up to no good during the time of year when temperatures dip and temptations rise. Auben needs to rid himself of these maddening voices before they cause him to lose track of time. To lose his mind. And to lose his . . . TEMPER.
Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas
Type: Part of the DC Icons series
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Release date: August 7th
When the Bat's away, the Cat will play. It's time to see how many lives this cat really has.
Two years after escaping Gotham City's slums, Selina Kyle returns as the mysterious and wealthy Holly Vanderhees. She quickly discovers that with Batman off on a vital mission, Gotham City looks ripe for the taking.
Meanwhile, Luke Fox wants to prove that as Batwing he has what it takes to help people. He targets a new thief on the prowl who has teamed up with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. Together, they are wreaking havoc. This Catwoman is clever--she may be Batwing's undoing.
In this third DC Icons book, Selina is playing a desperate game of cat and mouse, forming unexpected friendships and entangling herself with Batwing by night and her devilishly handsome neighbor Luke Fox by day. But with a dangerous threat from the past on her tail, will she be able to pull off the heist that's closest to her heart?
Privateer by Margaret Weis & Robert Krammes
Type: Second in the Dragon Corsairs trilogy
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: August 7th
The swashbuckling adventures of Captain Kate Fitzmaurice continues in Privateer with another thrilling epic tale of the Dragon Corsairs from New York Times bestselling author Margaret Weis and Robert Krammes.
Captain Kate soon escapes from prison and saves her crew with the help of Prince Tom. She and her crew are drawn ever deeper into the intrigue and danger of doing business in the kingdom. With them running out of allies and left with nowhere to turn, Kate and Tom strike out on their own.
The Black God's Drums by P. Djèlí Clark
Release date: August 21st
Rising science fiction and fantasy star P. Djèlí Clark brings an alternate New Orleans of orisha, airships, and adventure to life in his immersive debut novella The Black God's Drums.
In an alternate New Orleans caught in the tangle of the American Civil War, the wall-scaling girl named Creeper yearns to escape the streets for the air--in particular, by earning a spot on-board the airship Midnight Robber. Creeper plans to earn Captain Ann-Marie’s trust with information she discovers about a Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls The Black God’s Drums.
But Creeper also has a secret herself: Oya, the African orisha of the wind and storms, speaks inside her head, and may have her own ulterior motivations.
Soon, Creeper, Oya, and the crew of the Midnight Robber are pulled into a perilous mission aimed to stop the Black God’s Drums from being unleashed and wiping out the entirety of New Orleans.
Hollywood Dead: A Sandman Slim Novel by Richard Kadrey
Type: Tenth book in Sandman Slim series
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release date: August 28th
Life and death takes on an entirely new meaning for half-angel, half-human hero James Stark, aka, Sandman Slim, in this insanely inventive, high-intensity tenth supernatural noir thriller in the New York Times bestselling series.
James Stark is back from Hell, trailing more trouble in his wake. To return to L.A., he had to make a deal with the evil power brokers, Wormwood—an arrangement that came with a catch. While he may be home, Stark isn’t quite himself . . . because he’s only partially alive.
There’s a time limit on his reanimated body, and unless Stark can find the people targeting Wormwood, he will die again—and this time there will be no coming back. Even though he’s armed with the Room of Thirteen Doors, Stark knows he can’t find Wormwood’s enemies alone. To succeed he’s got to enlist the help of new friends—plus a few unexpected old faces.
Stark has been in dangerous situations before—you don’t get named Sandman Slim for nothing. But with a mysterious enemy on the loose, a debt to pay, and a clock ticking down, this may truly be the beginning of his end. . . .
Ravencry by Ed McDonald
Type: Second book in the Raven's Mark series
Release date: August 21st
In the second gritty installment of the Raven's Mark series, a bounty hunter faces down the darkest evil.
Ryhalt Galharrow is a blackwing--a bounty hunter who seeks out and turns over any man, woman, or child who has been compromised by the immortals known as the Deep Kings. Four years have passed since he helped drive the Deep Kings back across the Misery. But new and darker forces are rising against the republic...
The Fall of Gondolin by J.R.R. Tolkien (edited by Christopher Tolkien)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release date: August 30th
In the Tale of The Fall of Gondolin are two of the greatest powers in the world. There is Morgoth of the uttermost evil, unseen in this story but ruling over a vast military power from his fortress of Angband. Deeply opposed to Morgoth is Ulmo, second in might only to Manwë, chief of the Valar: he is called the Lord of Waters, of all seas, lakes, and rivers under the sky. But he works in secret in Middle-earth to support the Noldor, the kindred of the Elves among whom were numbered Húrin and Túrin Turambar. Central to this enmity of the gods is the city of Gondolin, beautiful but undiscoverable. It was built and peopled by Noldorin Elves who, when they dwelt in Valinor, the land of the gods, rebelled against their rule and fled to Middle-earth. Turgon King of Gondolin is hated and feared above all his enemies by Morgoth, who seeks in vain to discover the marvellously hidden city, while the gods in Valinor in heated debate largely refuse to intervene in support of Ulmo’s desires and designs. Into this world comes Tuor, cousin of Túrin, the instrument of Ulmo’s designs. Guided unseen by him Tuor sets out from the land of his birth on the fearful journey to Gondolin, and in one of the most arresting moments in the history of Middle-earth the sea-god himself appears to him, rising out of the ocean in the midst of a storm. In Gondolin he becomes great; he is wedded to Idril, Turgon’s daughter, and their son is Eärendel, whose birth and profound importance in days to come is foreseen by Ulmo. At last comes the terrible ending. Morgoth learns through an act of supreme treachery all that he needs to mount a devastating attack on the city, with Balrogs and dragons and numberless Orcs. After a minutely observed account of the fall of Gondolin, the tale ends with the escape of Túrin and Idril, with the child Eärendel, looking back from a cleft in the mountains as they flee southward, at the blazing wreckage of their city. They were journeying into a new story, the Tale of Eärendel, which Tolkien never wrote, but which is sketched out in this book from other sources. Following his presentation of Beren and Lúthien Christopher Tolkien has used the same ‘history in sequence’ mode in the writing of this edition of The Fall of Gondolin. In the words of J.R.R. Tolkien, it was ‘the first real story of this imaginary world’ and, together with Beren and Lúthien and The Children of Húrin, he regarded it as one of the three ‘Great Tales’ of the Elder Days.
Best New Fantasy Books in July 2018
City of Lies by Sam Hawke
Type: First book in the Poison Wars series
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: July 3
I was seven years old the first time my uncle poisoned me...
Outwardly, Jovan is the lifelong friend of the Chancellor’s charming, irresponsible Heir. Quiet. Forgettable. In secret, he's a master of poisons and chemicals, trained to protect the Chancellor’s family from treachery. When the Chancellor succumbs to an unknown poison and an army lays siege to the city, Jovan and his sister Kalina must protect the Heir and save their city-state.
But treachery lurks in every corner, and the ancient spirits of the land are rising...and angry.
The Book of Hidden Things by Francesco Dimitri
Type: Standalone (for now)
Publisher: Titan Books
Release date: July 3
Four old school friends have a pact: to meet up every year in the small town in Puglia they grew up in. Art, the charismatic leader of the group and creator of the pact, insists that the agreement must remain unshakable and enduring. But this year, he never shows up.
A visit to his house increases the friends' worry; Art is farming marijuana. In Southern Italy doing that kind of thing can be very dangerous. They can't go to the Carabinieri so must make enquiries of their own. This is how they come across the rumours about Art; bizarre and unbelievable rumours that he miraculously cured the local mafia boss's daughter of terminal leukaemia. And among the chaos of his house, they find a document written by Art, The Book of Hidden Things, that promises to reveal dark secrets and wonders beyond anything previously known.
Francesco Dimitri's first novel written in English, following his career as one of the most significant fantasy writers in Italy, will entrance fans of Elena Ferrante, Neil Gaiman and Donna Tartt. Set in the beguiling and seductive landscape of Southern Italy, this story is about friendship and landscape, love and betrayal; above all it is about the nature of mystery itself.
Heroine's Journey by Sarah Kuhn
Type: Third book in the Heroine Complex series
Release date: July 3
If there's one thing Beatrice Tanaka never wanted to be, it's normal. But somehow, her life has unfolded as a series of "should haves." Her powers of emotional projection should have made her one of the most formidable superheroes of all time. And she should have been allowed to join her older sister Evie as a full-fledged protector of San Francisco, pulverizing the city's plethora of demon threats.
But Evie and her superheroing partner, Aveda Jupiter, insist on seeing Bea as the impulsive, tempestuous teenager she used to be--even though she's now a responsible adult. And that means Bea is currently living a thoroughly normal life. She works as a bookstore lackey, hangs out with best friends Sam Fujikawa and Leah Kim, and calms her workplace's more difficult customers. Sure, she's not technically supposed to be playing with people's mental states. But given the mundanity of her existence, who can blame her?
When a mysterious being starts communicating with Bea, hinting at an evil that's about to overtake the city, she seizes the opportunity, hoping to turn her "should haves" into the fabulous heroic life she's always wanted. But gaining that life may mean sacrificing everything--and everyone--she holds dear...
The Empire of Ashes by Anthony Ryan
Type: Third book in the Draconis Memoria series
Release date: July 3
For hundreds of years, the Ironship Trading Syndicate was fueled by drake blood--and protected by the Blood-blessed, those few who could drink it and wield fearsome powers. But now the very thing that sustained the corporate world threatens to destroy it.
A drake of unimaginable power has risen, and it commands an army of both beasts and men. Rogue Blood-blessed Claydon Torcreek, Syndicate agent Lizanne Lethridge, and Ironship captain Corrick Hilemore, spread to disparate corners of the world, must rely upon the new powers and knowledge they have gained at great price to halt its forces--or face the end of all they know.
European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman by Theodora Goss
Type: Second book in the Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club series
Release date: July 10
In the sequel to the critically acclaimed The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, Mary Jekyll and the rest of the daughters of literature’s mad scientists embark on a madcap adventure across Europe to rescue another monstrous girl and stop the Alchemical Society’s nefarious plans once and for all.
Mary Jekyll’s life has been peaceful since she helped Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson solve the Whitechapel Murders. Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, Justine Frankenstein, and Mary’s sister Diana Hyde have settled into the Jekyll household in London, and although they sometimes quarrel, the members of the Athena Club get along as well as any five young women with very different personalities. At least they can always rely on Mrs. Poole.
But when Mary receives a telegram that Lucinda Van Helsing has been kidnapped, the Athena Club must travel to the Austro-Hungarian Empire to rescue yet another young woman who has been subjected to horrific experimentation. Where is Lucinda, and what has Professor Van Helsing been doing to his daughter? Can Mary, Diana, Beatrice, and Justine reach her in time?
Racing against the clock to save Lucinda from certain doom, the Athena Club embarks on a madcap journey across Europe. From Paris to Vienna to Budapest, Mary and her friends must make new allies, face old enemies, and finally confront the fearsome, secretive Alchemical Society. It’s time for these monstrous gentlewomen to overcome the past and create their own destinies.
Spinning Silver: A Novel by Naomi Novik
Type: Standalone (expanded from a short story in The Starlit Wood)
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: July 10
With the Nebula Award–winning Uprooted, Naomi Novik opened a brilliant new chapter in an already acclaimed career, delving into the magic of fairy tales to craft a love story that was both timeless and utterly of the now. Spinning Silver draws readers deeper into this glittering realm of fantasy, where the boundary between wonder and terror is thinner than a breath, and safety can be stolen as quickly as a kiss.
Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father’s inability to collect his debts has left his family on the edge of poverty—until Miryem takes matters into her own hands. Hardening her heart, the young woman sets out to claim what is owed and soon gains a reputation for being able to turn silver into gold.
When an ill-advised boast draws the attention of the king of the Staryk—grim fey creatures who seem more ice than flesh—Miryem’s fate, and that of two kingdoms, will be forever altered. Set an impossible challenge by the nameless king, Miryem unwittingly spins a web that draws in a peasant girl, Wanda, and the unhappy daughter of a local lord who plots to wed his child to the dashing young tsar.
But Tsar Mirnatius is not what he seems. And the secret he hides threatens to consume the lands of humans and Staryk alike. Torn between deadly choices, Miryem and her two unlikely allies embark on a desperate quest that will take them to the limits of sacrifice, power, and love.
Channeling the vibrant heart of myth and fairy tale, Spinning Silver weaves a multilayered, magical tapestry that readers will want to return to again and again.
Deep Roots by Ruthanna Emrys
Type: Second book in the Innsmouth Legacy series
Release date: July 10
Ruthanna Emrys’ Innsmouth Legacy, which began with Winter Tide and continues with Deep Roots, confronts H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos head-on, boldly upturning his fear of the unknown with a heart-warming story of found family, acceptance, and perseverance in the face of human cruelty and the cosmic apathy of the universe. Emrys brings together a family of outsiders, bridging the gaps between the many people marginalized by the homogenizing pressure of 1940s America.
Aphra Marsh, descendant of the People of the Water, has survived Deep One internment camps and made a grudging peace with the government that destroyed her home and exterminated her people on land. Deep Rootscontinues Aphra’s journey to rebuild her life and family on land, as she tracks down long-lost relatives. She must repopulate Innsmouth or risk seeing it torn down by greedy developers, but as she searches she discovers that people have been going missing. She will have to unravel the mystery, or risk seeing her way of life slip away.
Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell
Type: First book in Spellslinger series
Release date: July 17
Kellen is moments away from facing his first duel and proving his worth as a spellcaster. There's just one problem: his magic is fading.
Facing exile unless he can pass the mage trials, Kellen is willing to risk everything - even his own life - in search of a way to restore his magic. But when the enigmatic Ferius Parfax arrives in town, she challenges him to take a different path.
One of the elusive Argosi, Ferius is a traveller who lives by her wits and the cards she carries. Daring, unpredictable, and wielding magic Kellen has never seen before, she may be his only hope.
The first novel in a compelling six-book series, bursting with tricks, humor, and a whole new way to look at magic.
The Girl in the Green Silk Gown by Seanan McGuire
Type: Second book in Ghost Roads series
Release date: July 17
For Rose Marshall, death has long since become the only life she really knows. She’s been sweet sixteen for more than sixty years, hitchhiking her way along the highways and byways of America, sometimes seen as an avenging angel, sometimes seen as a killer in her own right, but always Rose, the Phantom Prom Date, the Girl in the Green Silk Gown.
The man who killed her is still out there, thanks to a crossroads bargain that won’t let him die, and he’s looking for the one who got away. When Bobby Cross comes back into the picture, there’s going to be hell to pay—possibly literally.
Rose has worked for decades to make a place for herself in the twilight. Can she defend it, when Bobby Cross comes to take her down? Can she find a way to navigate the worlds of the living and the dead, and make it home before her hitchhiker’s luck runs out? There’s only one way to know for sure.
The Descent of Monsters by JY Yang
Type: Third book in Tensorate series
Release date: July 31
Something terrible happened at the Rewar Teng Institute of Experimental Methods. When the Tensorate’s investigators arrived, they found a sea of blood and bones as far as the eye could see. One of the institute’s experiments got loose, and its rage left no survivors. The investigators returned to the capital with few clues and two prisoners: the terrorist leader Sanao Akeha and a companion known only as Rider.
Investigator Chuwan faces a puzzle. What really happened at the institute? What drew the Machinists there? What are her superiors trying to cover up? And why does she feel as if her strange dreams are forcing her down a narrowing path she cannot escape?
Best New Fantasy Books in June 2018
Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Type: Hardcover repackage of the first book in the (so, so good) Villians series
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: May 29
Victor and Eli started out as college roommates―brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.
Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find―aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge―but who will be left alive at the end?
In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn't automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.
Brief Cases by Jim Butcher
Type: Short stories from the Dresden Files series
Release date: June 5
The world of Harry Dresden, Chicago's only professional wizard, is rife with intrigue--and creatures of all supernatural stripes. And you'll make their intimate acquaintance as Harry delves into the dark side of truth, justice, and the American way in this must-have short story collection.
From the Wild West to the bleachers at Wrigley Field, humans, zombies, incubi, and even fey royalty appear, ready to blur the line between friend and foe. In the never-before-published "Zoo Day," Harry treads new ground as a dad, while fan-favorite characters Molly Carpenter, his onetime apprentice, White Council Warden Anastasia Luccio, and even Bigfoot stalk through the pages of more classic tales.
With twelve stories in all, Brief Cases offers both longtime fans and first-time readers tantalizing glimpses into Harry's funny, gritty, and unforgettable realm, whetting their appetites for more to come from the wizard with a heart of gold.
The Memory of Fire by Callie Bates
Type: Second book in Waking Land series
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: June 5
Thanks to the magic of Elanna Valtai and the Paladisan noble Jahan Korakides, the lands once controlled by the empire of Paladis have won their independence. But as Elanna exhausts her powers restoring the ravaged land, news that the emperor is readying an invasion spurs Jahan on a desperate mission to establish peace.
Going back to Paladis proves to be anything but peaceful, however. As magic is a crime in the empire, punishable by death, Jahan must hide his abilities. Nonetheless, the grand inquisitor’s hunters suspect him of sorcery, and mysterious, urgent messages from the witch who secretly trained Jahan only increase his danger of exposure. Worst of all, the crown prince has turned his back on Jahan, robbing him of the royal protection he once enjoyed.
As word of Jahan’s return spreads, long-sheathed knives, sharp and deadly, are drawn again. And when Elanna, stripped of her magic, is brought to the capital in chains, Jahan must face down the traumas of his past to defeat the shadowy enemies threatening his true love’s life, and the future of the revolution itself.
The Traitor God by Cameron Johnston
Type: First in a trilogy
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release date: June 5
After ten years on the run, dodging daemons and debt, reviled magician Edrin Walker returns home to avenge the brutal murder of his friend. Lynas had uncovered a terrible secret, something that threatened to devour the entire city. He tried to warn the Arcanum, the sorcerers who rule the city. He failed. Lynas was skinned alive and Walker felt every cut. Now nothing will stop him from finding the murderer. Magi, mortals, daemons, and even the gods – Walker will burn them all if he has to. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time he’s killed a god...
A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir
Type: Third book in the An Ember in the Ashes series
Release date: June 12
Beyond the Martial Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.
Helene Aquilla, the Blood Shrike, is desperate to protect her sister's life and the lives of everyone in the Empire. But she knows that danger lurks on all sides: Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable and violent, while Keris Veturia, the ruthless Commandant, capitalizes on the Emperor's volatility to grow her own power--regardless of the carnage she leaves in her path.
Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. But in the hunt to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would help her, and is drawn into a battle she never thought she'd have to fight.
And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. But in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that demands his complete surrender--even if that means abandoning the woman he loves.
Starless by Jacqueline Carey
Type: Standalone (so far)
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: June 12
I was nine years old the first time I tried to kill a man...
Destined from birth to serve as protector of the princess Zariya, Khai is trained in the arts of killing and stealth by a warrior sect in the deep desert; yet there is one profound truth that has been withheld from him.
In the court of the Sun-Blessed, Khai must learn to navigate deadly intrigue and his own conflicted identity…but in the far reaches of the western seas, the dark god Miasmus is rising, intent on nothing less than wholesale destruction.
If Khai is to keep his soul’s twin Zariya alive, their only hope lies with an unlikely crew of prophecy-seekers on a journey that will take them farther beneath the starless skies than anyone can imagine.
Witchmark by C.L. Polk
Type: Standalone (so far)
Release date: June 19
In an original world reminiscent of Edwardian England in the shadow of a World War, cabals of noble families use their unique magical gifts to control the fates of nations, while one young man seeks only to live a life of his own.
Magic marked Miles Singer for suffering the day he was born, doomed either to be enslaved to his family's interest or to be committed to a witches' asylum. He went to war to escape his destiny and came home a different man, but he couldn’t leave his past behind. The war between Aeland and Laneer leaves men changed, strangers to their friends and family, but even after faking his own death and reinventing himself as a doctor at a cash-strapped veterans' hospital, Miles can’t hide what he truly is.
When a fatally poisoned patient exposes Miles’ healing gift and his witchmark, he must put his anonymity and freedom at risk to investigate his patient’s murder. To find the truth he’ll need to rely on the family he despises, and on the kindness of the most gorgeous man he’s ever seen.
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhoarse
Type: First book in the Sixth World series
Publisher: Saga Press
Release date: June 26
While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters.
Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last best hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much more terrifying than anything she could imagine.
Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel the rez, unraveling clues from ancient legends, trading favors with tricksters, and battling dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology.
As Maggie discovers the truth behind the killings, she will have to confront her past if she wants to survive.
Welcome to the Sixth World.
Which fantasy books are you most looking forward to checking out in July? Let us know in the comments below or in our Den of Geek Book Club on Goodreads.
Looking for a good science fiction read? Check out these new science fiction books released in September 2018.
Books, books, books! Fall is a great time to dive into science fiction and explore other worlds. Here are some of the science fiction books coming out in September that we are most looking forward to here at Den of Geek.
Best New Science Fiction Books in September 2018
The Reincarnated Giant: An Anthology of 21st Century Chinese Science Fiction
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Release date: September 4th
A new wave of Chinese science fiction is here. This golden age has not only resurrected the genre but also subverted its own conventions. Going beyond political utopianism and technological optimism, contemporary Chinese writers conjure glittering visions and subversive experiments—ranging from space opera to cyberpunk, utopianism to the posthuman, and parodies of China’s rise to deconstructions of the myth of national development.
This anthology showcases the best of contemporary science fiction from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the People’s Republic of China. In fifteen short stories and novel excerpts, The Reincarnated Giant opens a doorway into imaginary realms alongside our own world and the history of the future. Authors such as Lo Yi-chin, Dung Kai-cheung, Han Song, Chen Qiufan, and the Hugo winner Liu Cixin—some alive during the Cultural Revolution, others born in the 1980s—blur the boundaries between realism and surrealism, between politics and technology. They tell tales of intergalactic war; decoding the last message sent from an extinct human race; the use of dreams as tools to differentiate cyborgs and humans; poets’ strange afterlife inside a supercomputer; cannibalism aboard an airplane; and unchecked development that leads to uncontrollable catastrophe. At a time when the Chinese government promotes the “Chinese dream,” the dark side of the new wave shows a nightmarish unconscious. The Reincarnated Giant is an essential read for anyone interested in the future of the genre.
Solo: A Star Wars Story: Expanded Edition by Mur Lafferty
Type: Movie adaptation novel
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: September 4th
Though Han Solo has thrilled Star Wars fans for decades, the notorious wisecracking scoundrel was chasing adventure and dodging trouble long before he walked into the cantina at Mos Eisley spaceport. Young Han dreams of someday soaring into space at the helm of his own starship and leaving his home, the gritty industrial planet Corellia, far behind. But as long as he’s trapped in a life of poverty and crime—and under the thumb of the sinister Lady Proxima and her brutal street gang—reaching the distant stars seems impossible. When Han tries to escape with his girlfriend and partner-in-crime, Qi’ra, he makes it out—but she doesn’t. Desperate for a way to find his own offworld vessel and free her, Han enlists in the Imperial Navy—the last place for a rebellious loner who doesn’t play well with others. When the Empire clips his wings, Han goes rogue and plunges into the shady world of smugglers, gamblers, and con artists. There he meets the charming and cunning high roller Lando Calrissian, makes an unlikely friend in a cantankerous Wookiee called Chewbacca, and first lays eyes on the Millennium Falcon. To snag his piece of the outlaw pie, Han joins a crew of pirates to pull off a risky heist. The stakes are high, the danger is great, and the odds are slim. But never tell Han Solo the odds.
Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction
Type: Anthology of short stories
Release date: September 4th
Since it began in 2008, Tor.com has explored countless new worlds of fiction, delving into possible and impossible futures, alternate and intriguing pasts, and realms of fantasy previously unexplored. Its hundreds of remarkable stories span from science fiction to fantasy to horror, and everything in between. Now Tor.com is making some of those worlds available for the first time in print.
This volume collects some of the best short stories Tor.com has to offer, with Hugo and Nebula Award-winning short stories and novelettes chosen from all ten years of the program.
Hidden Sun by Jaine Fenn
Type: First book in Shadowlands duology
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release date: September 4th
An eccentric noblewoman scientist's journey into a hostile environment will change her world forever, in this enthralling fantasy novel.
Rhia Harlyn is a noble in Shen, one of the dozens of shadowlands which separate the bright, alien skyland. She has a missing brother, an unwanted marriage proposal and an interest in science considered unbecoming in her gender. Her brother's disappearance coincided with a violent unsolved murder, and Rhia impulsively joins the search party headed into the skyland - a place whose dangers and wonders have long fascinated her. The dangerous journey brings her into conflict with a young rebel stuck between the worlds of shadow and light, and a charismatic cult leader who believes he can defeat death itself.
The Accidental War by Walter Jon Williams
Type: First novel in trilogy (Set in world of Dread Empire's Fall series)
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release date: September 4th
Blending fast-paced military science fiction and space opera, the first volume in a dynamic trilogy from the New York Times bestselling author of The Praxis, set in the universe of his popular and critically acclaimed Dread Empire’s Fall series—a tale of blood, courage, adventure and battle in which the fate of an empire rests in the hands of a cadre of desperate exiles.
It’s been seven years since the end of the Naxid War. Sidelined for their unorthodox tactics by a rigid, tradition-bound military establishment, Captain Gareth Martinez and Captain the Lady Sula are stewing in exile, frustrated and impatient to exercise the effective and lethal skills they were born to use in fighting the enemy.
Yet after the ramshackle empire left by the Shaa conquerors is shaken by a series of hammer blows that threaten the foundations of the commonwealth, the result is a war that no one planned, no one expected, and no one knows how to end.
Now, Martinez, Sula, and their confederate Nikki Severin must escape the clutches of their enemies, rally the disorganized elements of the fleet, and somehow restore the fragile peace—or face annihilation at the hands of a vastly superior force.
CoDex 1962: A Trilogy by Sjón
Type: Trilogy of novels
Release date: September 11th
Spanning eras, continents, and genres, CoDex 1962—twenty years in the making—is Sjón’s epic three-part masterpiece
Over the course of four dazzling novels translated into dozens of languages, Sjón has earned a global reputation as one of the world’s most interesting writers. But what the world has never been able to read is his great trilogy of novels, known collectively as CoDex 1962—now finally complete.
Josef Löwe, the narrator, was born in 1962—the same year, the same moment even, as Sjón. Josef’s story, however, stretches back decades in the form of Leo Löwe—a Jewish fugitive during World War II who has an affair with a maid in a German inn; together, they form a baby from a piece of clay. If the first volume is a love story, the second is a crime story: Löwe arrives in Iceland with the clay-baby inside a hatbox, only to be embroiled in a murder mystery—but by the end of the volume, his clay son has come to life. And in the final volume, set in present-day Reykjavík, Josef’s story becomes science fiction as he crosses paths with the outlandish CEO of a biotech company (based closely on reality) who brings the story of genetics and genesis full circle. But the future, according to Sjón, is not so dark as it seems.
In CoDex 1962, Sjón has woven ancient and modern material and folklore and cosmic myths into a singular masterpiece—encompassing genre fiction, theology, expressionist film, comic strips, fortean studies, genetics, and, of course, the rich tradition of Icelandic storytelling.
State Tectonics by Malka Older
Type: Third book in Centenal Trilogy
Release date: September 11th
Campbell Award finalist Malka Older's State Tectonics concludes The Centenal Cycle, the cyberpunk poltical thriller series that began with Infomocracy.
The future of democracy must evolve or die.
The last time Information held an election, a global network outage, two counts of sabotage by major world governments, and a devastating earthquake almost shook micro-democracy apart. Five years later, it's time to vote again, and the system that has ensured global peace for 25 years is more vulnerable than ever.
Unknown enemies are attacking Information's network infrastructure. Spies, former superpowers, and revolutionaries sharpen their knives in the shadows. And Information's best agents question whether the data monopoly they've served all their lives is worth saving, or whether it's time to burn the world down and start anew.
Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds by Brandon Sanderson
Type: Collection of novellas
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: September 18th
Stephen Leeds is perfectly sane. It's his hallucinations who are mad.
A genius of unrivaled aptitude, Stephen can learn any new skill, vocation, or art in a matter of hours. However, to contain all of this, his mind creates hallucinatory people—Stephen calls them aspects—to hold and manifest the information. Wherever he goes, he is joined by a team of imaginary experts to give advice, interpretation, and explanation. He uses them to solve problems . . . for a price.
His brain is getting a little crowded and the aspects have a tendency of taking on lives of their own. When a company hires him to recover stolen property—a camera that can allegedly take pictures of the past—Stephen finds himself in an adventure crossing oceans and fighting terrorists. What he discovers may upend the foundation of three major world religions—and, perhaps, give him a vital clue into the true nature of his aspects.
Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds includes Legion, Legion: Skin Deep and the brand new, shocking finale to Leeds' story, Lies of the Beholder.
Mecha Samurai Empire by Peter Tieryas
Type: Standalone in United States of Japan universe
Release date: September 18th
The Man in the High Castle meets Pacific Rim in this action-packed alternate history novel from the award-winning author of United States of Japan. Germany and Japan won WWII and control the U.S., and a young man has one dream: to become a mecha pilot.
Makoto Fujimoto grew up in California, but with a difference--his California is part of the United States of Japan. After Germany and Japan won WWII, the United States fell under their control. Growing up in this world, Mac plays portical games, haphazardly studies for the Imperial Exam, and dreams of becoming a mecha pilot. Only problem: Mac's grades are terrible. His only hope is to pass the military exam and get into the prestigious mecha pilot training program at Berkeley Military Academy.
When his friend Hideki's plan to game the test goes horribly wrong, Mac washes out of the military exam too. Perhaps he can achieve his dream by becoming a civilian pilot. But with tensions rising between the United States of Japan and Nazi Germany and rumors of collaborators and traitors abounding, Mac will have to stay alive long enough first...
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
Type: Debut novel
Release date: September 25th
The Carls just appeared. Coming home from work at three a.m., twenty-three-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship--like a ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armor--April and her friend Andy make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world--everywhere from Beijing to Buenos Aires--and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the center of an intense international media spotlight.
Now April has to deal with the pressure on her relationships, her identity, and her safety that this new position brings, all while being on the front lines of the quest to find out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.
Compulsively entertaining and powerfully relevant, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing grapples with big themes, including how the social internet is changing fame, rhetoric, and radicalization; how our culture deals with fear and uncertainty; and how vilification and adoration spring from the same dehumanization that follows a life in the public eye.
Rock Manning Goes For Broke by Charlie Jane Anders
Publisher: Subterranean Press
Release date: September 30th
Vikings vs. Steampunks! Ice cream sundae hearse disasters! Roman gladiators meet vacuum-cleaner salesmen! Inappropriate uses of exercise equipment and supermarket trolleys! Unsupervised fires, and reckless destruction of public property! Nothing is off limits.
Rock Manning lives and breathes slapstick comedy, and his whole life is an elaborate tribute to the masters, like Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and Jackie Chan. With his best friend, Sally Hamster, he creates joyfully chaotic short movies that are full of mayhem and silliness.
But Rock and Sally are becoming famous at a time of unrest, when America's economy has collapsed and people are taking refuge in highly addictive drugs. America's youth are being drafted to take part in endless wars against imaginary enemies overseas, while at home, a fascist militia known as the Red Bandanas is rising to power. As America becomes more mired in violence and destruction, Rock Manning's zany comedy films become the escapist fun that everybody needs.
Over-the-top physical comedy and real-life brutality collide, as Rock and Sally find themselves unable to avoid getting sucked into the slow implosion of their country. The Red Bandanas want Rock Manning to star in propaganda films promoting their movement, and soon Rock and Sally are at the center of the struggle for the soul of America. The trauma and death that Rock witnesses begin to take a toll on him.
When a botched weapon test plunges the world into deeper chaos, Rock and Sally must confront once and for all the outer limits of comedy.
Best New Science Fiction Books in August 2018
Before She Sleeps by Bina Shah
Publisher: Delphinium Books
Release date: August 7th
In modern, beautiful Green City, the capital of Southwest Asia, gender selection, war, and disease have brought the ratio of men to women to alarmingly low levels. The government uses terror and technology to control its people, and now females must take multiple husbands to have children as quickly as possible. Yet there are some who resist, women who live in an underground collective and refuse to be part of the system. Secretly protected by the highest echelons of power, they emerge only at night to provide the rich and elite of Green City a type of commodity no one can buy: intimacy without sex. As it turns out, not even the most influential men can shield them from discovery and the dangers of ruthless punishment. This dystopian novel from one of Pakistan’s most talented writers is a modern-day parable, The Handmaid’s Tale for repressed women in Muslim countries everywhere. Before She Sleepstakes the patriarchal practices of female seclusion and veiling, gender selection, and control over women’s bodies, amplifying and distorting them in a truly terrifying way to imagine a world of post-religious authoritarianism.
Rogue Protocol: The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells
Type: Third book in The Murderbot Diaries series
Release date: August 7th
Martha Wells' Rogue Protocol is the third in the Murderbot Diaries series, starring a human-like android who keeps getting sucked back into adventure after adventure, though it just wants to be left alone, away from humanity and small talk.
Who knew being a heartless killing machine would present so many moral dilemmas?
Sci-fi’s favorite antisocial A.I. is back on a mission. The case against the too-big-to-fail GrayCris Corporation is floundering, and more importantly, authorities are beginning to ask more questions about where Dr. Mensah's SecUnit is.
And Murderbot would rather those questions went away. For good.
Ball Lightning by Cixin Liu (translated by Joel Martinsen)
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: August 14th
A new science fiction adventure from the New York Times bestselling author of the Three-Body Trilogy, Cixin Lu's Ball Lightning is a fast-paced story of what happens when the beauty of scientific inquiry runs up against the drive to harness new discoveries with no consideration of their possible consequences.
When Chen’s parents are incinerated before his eyes by a blast of ball lightning, he devotes his life to cracking the secret of this mysterious natural phenomenon. His search takes him to stormy mountaintops, an experimental military weapons lab, and an old Soviet science station.
The more he learns, the more he comes to realize that ball lightning is just the tip of an entirely new frontier. While Chen’s quest for answers gives purpose to his lonely life, it also pits him against soldiers and scientists with motives of their own: a beautiful army major with an obsession with dangerous weaponry, and a physicist who has no place for ethical considerations in his single-minded pursuit of knowledge.
Stars Uncharted by S.K. Dunstall
Release date: August 14th
In this rip-roaring space opera, a ragtag band of explorers are out to make the biggest score in the galaxy.
On this space jump, no one is who they seem . . .
Captain Hammond Roystan is a simple cargo runner who has stumbled across the find of a lifetime: the Hassim, a disabled exploration ship--and its valuable record of unexplored worlds.
His junior engineer, Josune Arriola, said her last assignment was in the uncharted rim. But she is decked out in high-level bioware that belies her humble backstory.
A renowned body-modification artist, Nika Rik Terri has run afoul of clients who will not take no for an answer. She has to flee off-world, and she is dragging along a rookie modder, who seems all too experienced in weapons and war . . .
Together this mismatched crew will end up on one ship, hurtling through the lawless reaches of deep space with Roystan at the helm. Trailed by nefarious company men, they will race to find the most famous lost world of all--and riches beyond their wildest dreams . . .
Noumenon Infinity by Marina J. Lostetter
Type: Second in Noumenon series
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release date: August 14th
Travel to the remotest reaches of deep space in this wondrous follow-up to the acclaimed Noumenon—a tale of exploration, adventure, science, and humanity with the sweep and intelligence of the works of Arthur C. Clarke, Neal Stephenson, and Octavia Butler.
Generations ago, Convoy Seven and I.C.C. left Earth on a mission that would take them far beyond the solar system. Launched by the Planet United Consortium, a global group formed to pursue cooperative Earth-wide interests in deep space, nine ships headed into the unknown to explore a distant star called LQ Pyx.
Eons later, the convoy has returned to LQ Pyx to begin work on the Web, the alien megastructure that covers the star. Is it a Dyson Sphere, designed to power a civilization as everyone believes—or something far more sinister?
Meanwhile, Planet United’s littlest convoy, long thought to be lost, reemerges in a different sector of deep space. What they discover holds the answers to unlocking the Web’s greater purpose.
Each convoy possesses a piece of the Web’s puzzle . . . but they may not be able to bring those pieces together and uncover the structure’s true nature before it’s too late.
The Stars Now Unclaimed by Drew Williams
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: August 21st
Jane Kamali is an agent for the Justified. Her mission: to recruit children with miraculous gifts in the hope that they might prevent the Pulse from once again sending countless worlds back to the dark ages.
Hot on her trail is the Pax--a collection of fascist zealots who believe they are the rightful rulers of the galaxy and who remain untouched by the Pulse.
Now Jane, a handful of comrades from her past, and a telekinetic girl called Esa must fight their way through a galaxy full of dangerous conflicts, remnants of ancient technology, and other hidden dangers.
And that's just the beginning . . .
The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal
Type: Second book in The Lady Astronaut series
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: August 21st
Mary Robinette Kowal continues the grand sweep of alternate history begun in The Calculating Stars, The Fated Sky looks forward to 1961, when mankind is well-established on the moon and looking forward to its next step: journeying to, and eventually colonizing, Mars.
Of course the noted Lady Astronaut Elma York would like to go, but there’s a lot riding on whoever the International Aerospace Coalition decides to send on this historic—but potentially very dangerous—mission? Could Elma really leave behind her husband and the chance to start a family to spend several years traveling to Mars? And with the Civil Rights movement taking hold all over Earth, will the astronaut pool ever be allowed to catch up, and will these brave men and women of all races be treated equitably when they get there? This gripping look at the real conflicts behind a fantastical space race will put a new spin on our visions of what might have been.
Terra Incognita: Three Novellas by Connie Willis
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: August 21st
In Terra Incognita, Connie Willis explores themes of love and mortality while brilliantly illuminating the human condition through biting satire.
Uncharted TerritoryFindriddy and Carson are explorers, dispatched to a distant planet to survey its canyons, ridges, and scrub-covered hills. Teamed with a profit-hungry indigenous guide of indeterminate gender and an enthusiastic newcomer whose specialty is mating customs, the group battles hostile terrain as they set out for unexplored regions. Along the way, they face dangers, discover treasures, and soon find themselves in an alien territory of another kind: exploring the paths and precipices of sex—and love.
RemakeIn the Hollywood of the future, live-action movies are a thing of the past. Old films are computerized and ruthlessly dissected, actors digitally ripped from one film and thrust into another. Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe in A Star Is Born? No problem. Hate the ending? Change it with the stroke of a key. Technology makes anything possible. But a starry-eyed young woman wants only one thing: to dance on the big screen. With a little magic and a lot of luck, she just may get her happy ending.
D.A. Theodora Baumgarten is baffled and furious: Why was she selected to be part of a highly competitive interstellar cadet program? After all, she never even applied. But that hasn’t stopped the powers that be from whisking her onto a spaceship bound for the prestigious Academy. With her protests ignored, Theodora takes matters into her own hands, aided by her hacker best friend, to escape the Academy and return to Earth—only to uncover a conspiracy that runs deeper than she could have imagined.
Vox by Christina Dalcher
Release date: August 21st
Set in a United States in which half the population has been silenced, Vox is the harrowing, unforgettable story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter.
On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than one hundred words per day, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial. This can't happen here. Not in America. Not to her.
This is just the beginning...
Soon women are not permitted to hold jobs. Girls are not taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words each day, but now women have only one hundred to make themselves heard.
...not the end.
For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.
Best New Science Fiction Books in July 2018
The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
Type: First book in The Lady Astronaut series
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: July 3
On a coldspring night in 1952, a meteorite falls to earth and destroys much of theeastern seaboard of the United States, including Washington D.C. The Meteor, asit is popularly known, decimates the U.S. government and paves the way for aclimate cataclysm that will eventually render the earth inhospitable to humanity.This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated timeline in the earth’s effortsto colonize space, and allows a much larger share of humanity to take part inthe process.
One of thesenew entrants in the space race is Elma York, whose experience as a WASP pilotand mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’sattempts to put man on the moon. But with so many skilled and experienced womenpilots and scientists involved with the program, it doesn’t take long before Elmabegins to wonder why they can’t go into space, too―aside from some peskybarriers like thousands of years of history and a host of expectations aboutthe proper place of the fairer sex. And yet, Elma’s drive to become the firstLady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions may notstand a chance against her.
Black Chamber by S.M. Stirling
Type: Standalone (so far)
Release date: July 3
1916. The Great War rages overseas, and the whole of Europe, Africa, and western Asia is falling to the Central Powers. To win a war that must be won, Teddy Roosevelt, once again the American president, turns to his top secret Black Chamber organization--and its cunning and deadly spy, Luz O'Malley Aróstegui.
On a transatlantic airship voyage, Luz poses as an anti-American Mexican revolutionary to get close--very close--to a German agent code-named Imperial Sword. She'll need every skill at her disposal to get him to trust her and lead her deep into enemy territory. In the mountains of Saxony, concealed from allied eyes, the German Reich's plans for keeping the U.S. from entering the conflict are revealed: the deployment of a new diabolical weapon upon the shores of America...
Space Unicorn Blues by T.J. Berry
Type: Standalone (for now)
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release date: July 3
Having magical powers makes you less than human, a resource to be exploited. Half-unicorn Gary Cobalt is sick of slavery, captivity, and his horn being ground down to power faster-than-light travel. When he's finally free, all he wants is to run away in his ancestors' stone ship. Instead, Captain Jenny Perata steals the ship out from under him, so she can make an urgent delivery. But Jenny held him captive for a decade, and then Gary murdered her best friend... who was also the wife of her co-pilot, Cowboy Jim. What could possibly go right?
Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio
Type: First in the Sun Eater series
Release date: July 3
It was not his war.
The galaxy remembers him as a hero: the man who burned every last alien Cielcin from the sky. They remember him as a monster: the devil who destroyed a sun, casually annihilating four billion human lives—even the Emperor himself—against Imperial orders.
But Hadrian was not a hero. He was not a monster. He was not even a soldier.
On the wrong planet, at the right time, for the best reasons, Hadrian Marlowe starts down a path that can only end in fire. He flees his father and a future as a torturer only to be left stranded on a strange, backwater world.
Forced to fight as a gladiator and navigate the intrigues of a foreign planetary court, Hadrian must fight a war he did not start, for an Empire he does not love, against an enemy he will never understand.
I Only Killed Him Once by Adam Christopher
Type: Third in the Ray Electromatic series
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: July 10
Another Hollywood night, another job for electric-detective-turned-robotic-hitman Raymond Electromatic. The target is a tall man in a black hat, and while Ray completes his mission successfully, he makes a startling discovery―one he soon forgets when his 24-hour memory tape loops to the end and is replaced with a fresh reel…
When a tall man in a black hat arrives in the offices of the Electromatic Detective Agency the next day, Ray has a suspicion he has met this stranger before, although Ray’s computerized boss, Ada, is not saying a thing. But their visitor isn’t here to hire Ray for a job―he’s here to deliver a stark warning.
Because time is running out and if Ray and Ada want to survive, they need to do exactly what the man in the black hat says.
A man that Raymond Electromatic has already killed.
Latchkey by Nicole Kornher-Stace
Type: Second book in the Archivist Wasp series
Publisher: Mythic Delirium Books
Release date: July 10
Isabel, once known as Wasp, has become leader of the fearsome upstarts, the teen girl acolytes who are adjusting to a new way of life after the overthrow of the sadistic Catchkeep-priest. They live in an uneasy alliance with the town of Sweetwater—an alliance that will be tested to its limits by the dual threats of ruthless raiders from the Waste and a deadly force from the Before-time that awaits in long-hidden tunnels.
Years ago Isabel befriended a nameless ghost, a supersoldier from the Before-time with incredible powers even after death, and their adventure together in the underworld gave her the strength and knowledge to change the brutal existence of the Catchkeep acolytes for the better. To save Sweetwater, Isabel will have to unlock the secrets of the twisted experimental program from centuries gone by that created the supersoldier and killed his friends: the Latchkey Project.
Latchkey continues the story begun in Kornher-Stace’s widely acclaimed Archivist Wasp, an Andre Norton Award finalist that was selected by Kirkus Reviews as one of the Best Teen Books of 2015.
Infinity's End, Edited by Jonathan Strahan
Type: Final anthology in The Infinity Project series
Release date: July 10
Humanity has made the universe home. On the outskirts of the solar system, beyond the asteroid fields, deep in space, under the surface of planets, in the ruins of fallen civilisations, in the flush of new creation: life finds a way.
From intelligent velociraptors to digital ghosts; from a crèche on an asteroid to an artist using a star system as a canvas, this is a future where Earth’s children have adapted to every nook and cranny of existence.
This is life on the edge of the possible.
Featuring astonishing tales from Stephen Baxter, Alastair Reynolds, Naomi Kritzer, Paul McAuley, Seanan McGuire, Linda Nagata, Hannu Rajaniemi, Justina Robson, Kelly Robson, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Lavie Tidhar, Peter Watts, Fran Wilde and Nick Wolven.
Condomnauts by Yoss (translated by David Frye)
Publisher: Restless Books
Release date: July 17
In the 24th century, Josué Valdés’ rise from an orphan in the slums of Rubble City, Cuba to one of the galaxy’s most accomplished explorers was nothing short of meteoric. Josué used to race cockroaches for cash on the streets until he discovered his true-calling: as a sexual ambassador for humanity and the Nu Barsa colony.
Every so-called “condomnaut” knows that trade deals in the galactic community depend on sexual pacts, which makes every encounter a close encounter. While some condomnauts have been trained and genetically enhanced to meet the needs of any tentacled insectoid in the galaxy, Josué is a natural whose ego could eclipse the big dipper. Josué and his fellow intrepid condomnauts travel light years across the galaxy and discover that old rivalries—and prejudices—are never far behind. When the first extragalactic beings arrive in the Milky Way, and with them the potential to negotiate for extraordinary new technologies, Josué must call upon every ounce of his talent to seal the deal for his colony and all of humanity.
Indirectly investigating current sexual mores, Cuban science fiction rock star Yoss plays upon stereotypes while making it clear that in Communist Cuba what is daring is not always funny and vice versa. Following the success of Super Extra Grande and A Planet for Rent, Yoss brings us another uproarious space adventure with Condomnauts, a wildly inventive and unapologetic tale that would make even Barbarella blush.
Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers
Type: Third book in the Wayfarers series
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release date: July 24
Return to the sprawling universe of the Galactic Commons, as humans, artificial intelligence, aliens, and some beings yet undiscovered explore what it means to be a community in this exciting third adventure in the acclaimed and multi-award-nominated science fiction Wayfarers series, brimming with heartwarming characters and dazzling space adventure.
Hundreds of years ago, the last humans on Earth boarded the Exodus Fleet in search of a new home among the stars. After centuries spent wandering empty space, their descendants were eventually accepted by the well-established species that govern the Milky Way.
But that was long ago. Today, the Exodus Fleet is a living relic, the birthplace of many, yet a place few outsiders have ever visited. While the Exodans take great pride in their original community and traditions, their culture has been influenced by others beyond their bulkheads. As many Exodans leave for alien cities or terrestrial colonies, those who remain are left to ponder their own lives and futures: What is the purpose of a ship that has reached its destination? Why remain in space when there are habitable worlds available to live? What is the price of sustaining their carefully balanced way of life—and is it worth saving at all?
A young apprentice, a lifelong spacer with young children, a planet-raised traveler, an alien academic, a caretaker for the dead, and an Archivist whose mission is to ensure no one’s story is forgotten, wrestle with these profound universal questions. The answers may seem small on the galactic scale, but to these individuals, it could mean everything.
A Study in Honor by Claire O'Dell
Type: Standalone (for now... but let's be serious)
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release date: July 31
Set in a near future Washington, D.C., a clever, incisive, and fresh feminist twist on a classic literary icon—Sherlock Holmes—in which Dr. Janet Watson and covert agent Sara Holmes will use espionage, advanced technology, and the power of deduction to unmask a murderer targeting Civil War veterans.
Dr. Janet Watson knows firsthand the horrifying cost of a divided nation. While treating broken soldiers on the battlefields of the New Civil War, a sniper’s bullet shattered her arm and ended her career. Honorably discharged and struggling with the semi-functional mechanical arm that replaced the limb she lost, she returns to the nation’s capital, a bleak, edgy city in the throes of a fraught presidential election. Homeless and jobless, Watson is uncertain of the future when she meets another black and queer woman, Sara Holmes, a mysterious yet playfully challenging covert agent who offers the doctor a place to stay.
Watson’s readjustment to civilian life is complicated by the infuriating antics of her strange new roommate. But the tensions between them dissolve when Watson discovers that soldiers from the New Civil War have begun dying one by one—and that the deaths may be the tip of something far more dangerous, involving the pharmaceutical industry and even the looming election. Joining forces, Watson and Holmes embark on a thrilling investigation to solve the mystery—and secure justice for these fallen soldiers.
Best New Science Fiction Books in June 2018
Free Chocolate by Amber Royer
Type: First book in The Chocoverse series
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release date: June 1
Latina culinary arts student, Bo Benitez, becomes a fugitive when she's caught stealing a cacao pod from the heavily-defended plantations that keep chocolate, Earth's sole valuable export, safe from a hungry galaxy. Forces arraying against her including her alien boyfriend and a reptilian cop. But when she escapes onto an unmarked starship things go from bad to worse: it belongs to the race famed throughout the galaxy for eating stowaways. Surrounded by dangerous yet hunky aliens, Bo starts to uncover clues that the threat to Earth may be bigger than she first thought.
Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee
Type: Third book in the Machineries of Empire trilogy
Release date: June 12
When Shuos Jedao wakes up for the first time, several things go wrong. His few memories tell him that he's a seventeen-year-old cadet--but his body belongs to a man decades older. Hexarch Nirai Kujen orders Jedao to reconquer the fractured hexarchate on his behalf even though Jedao has no memory of ever being a soldier, let alone a general. Surely a knack for video games doesn't qualify you to take charge of an army?
Soon Jedao learns the situation is even worse. The Kel soldiers under his command may be compelled to obey him, but they hate him thanks to a massacre he can't remember committing. Kujen's friendliness can't hide the fact that he's a tyrant. And what's worse, Jedao and Kujen are being hunted by an enemy who knows more about Jedao and his crimes than he does himself...
The Robots of Gotham by Todd McAulty
Type: Standalone (for now)
Publisher: John Joseph Adams
Release date: June 19
After long years of war, the United States has sued for peace, yielding to a brutal coalition of nations ruled by fascist machines. One quarter of the country is under foreign occupation. Manhattan has been annexed by a weird robot monarchy, and in Tennessee, a permanent peace is being delicately negotiated between the battered remnants of the U.S. government and an envoy of implacable machines. Canadian businessman Barry Simcoe arrives in occupied Chicago days before his hotel is attacked by a rogue war machine. In the aftermath, he meets a dedicated Russian medic with the occupying army, and 19 Black Winter, a badly damaged robot. Together they stumble on a machine conspiracy to unleash a horrific plague—and learn that the fabled American resistance is not as extinct as everyone believes. Simcoe races against time to prevent the extermination of all life on the continent . . . and uncover a secret that America’s machine conquerors are desperate to keep hidden.
Thrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn
Type: Second book in Star Wars: Thrawn series
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: June 24
“I have sensed a disturbance in the Force.”
Ominous words under any circumstances, but all the more so when uttered by Emperor Palpatine. On Batuu, at the edges of the Unknown Regions, a threat to the Empire is taking root—its existence little more than a glimmer, its consequences as yet unknowable. But it is troubling enough to the Imperial leader to warrant investigation by his most powerful agents: ruthless enforcer Lord Darth Vader and brilliant strategist Grand Admiral Thrawn. Fierce rivals for the emperor’s favor, and outspoken adversaries on Imperial affairs—including the Death Star project—the formidable pair seem unlikely partners for such a crucial mission. But the Emperor knows it’s not the first time Vader and Thrawn have joined forces. And there’s more behind his royal command than either man suspects.
In what seems like a lifetime ago, General Anakin Skywalker of the Galactic Republic, and Commander Mitth’raw’nuruodo, officer of the Chiss Ascendancy, crossed paths for the first time. One on a desperate personal quest, the other with motives unknown . . . and undisclosed. But facing a gauntlet of dangers on a far-flung world, they forged an uneasy alliance—neither remotely aware of what their futures held in store.
Now, thrust together once more, they find themselves bound again for the planet where they once fought side by side. There they will be doubly challenged—by a test of their allegiance to the Empire . . . and an enemy that threatens even their combined might.
Apocalypse Nyx by Kameron Hurley
Type: Book 1.5/1.7 in the Bel Dame Apocrypha series
Publisher: Tachyon Publication
Release date: June 26
Ex-government assassin turned bounty-hunter, Nyx, is good at solving other people’s problems. Her favorite problem-solving solution is punching people in the face. Then maybe chopping off some heads. Hey—it’s a living.
Nyx's disreputable reputation has been well earned. After all, she’s trying to navigate an apocalyptic world full of giant bugs, contaminated deserts, scheming magicians, and a centuries-long war that’s consuming her future. Managing her ragtag squad of misfits has required a lot of morally-gray choices. Every new job is another day alive. Every new mission is another step toward changing a hellish future—but only if she can survive.
A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe by Alex White
Type: First book in Salvagers series
Release date: June 26
Boots Elsworth was a famous treasure hunter in another life, but now she's washed up. She makes her meager living faking salvage legends and selling them to the highest bidder, but this time she got something real--the story of the Harrow, a famous warship, capable of untold destruction.
Nilah Brio is the top driver in the Pan Galactic Racing Federation and the darling of the racing world--until she witnesses Mother murder a fellow racer. Framed for the murder and on the hunt to clear her name, Nilah has only one lead: the killer also hunts Boots.
On the wrong side of the law, the two women board a smuggler's ship that will take them on a quest for fame, for riches, and for justice.
What science fiction books are you most looking forward to checking out in July? Let us know in the comments below or in our Den of Geek Book Club on Goodreads.
Marvel's Spider-Man provides Insomniac's own, unique twist on the webslinger's world. Here is how the studio designed Spider-Man new suit!
Much has already been written about Marvel's Spider-Man, Insomniac Games' excellent take on the House of Ideas' most beloved superhero. Spidey's dazzling adventure sees him zipping through New York City and fighting a whole slew of classic villains, including Electro, Kingpin, Vulture, Mr. Negative, and quite a few more we won't spoil. The point is that Spider-Man has his hands full. Luckily, he has a new suit to help him fight these dastardly villains.
The Spidey suit featured in Insomniac's game isn't the one you grew up with. While there's a distinct Steve Ditko influence in the game that harkens back to Spidey's earliest adventures and players have the opportunity to unlock the classic suit, the studio sought to modernize the suit while also paying homage to Ditko's great work.
No, the new suit shouldn't offend the Spider-Man purist, but it does feature some noticeable tweaks, such as the big white spider symbol that stretches across the torso. Additionally, the almost knee-high boots now look like trendy sneakers while his gloves are closer to padded gauntlets. So nothing too significant but why the changes in the first place?
I spoke to Insomniac art director Jacinda Chew at a recent PlayStation event about how the team approached the new suit, why certain things were specifically redesigned, and just what's going on with Spidey's footwear.
"We needed to modernize the suit," Chew explains. "That was definitely something that was really important to us. The other thing too, if you look at comic books, it's all 2D. It's not photoreal. You have to translate what that 2D design might be if it existed in real life. When I design a suit, I always think about, 'Well, what would a 23-year-old, would-be superhero [wear]? How would he design his suit and what would his influences be?'"
Chew reveals that the goal was to create a look that Spider-Man might wear in 2018 New York City.
"One of the first things you'll notice, for example, is that he's not wearing a red boot. But I was thinking, if [Peter] were a modern person living in New York, what would he be influenced by? I thought he'd be influenced by athletic gear and sneakers. So that's why you look at it, and if you ever go around swinging, you'll see the bottom of his shoes actually look like a sneaker, and again, it's short like a sneaker."
The traditional red and blue color palette is still in play in the new suit, with an added splash of white. Interestingly enough, each color has its own specific function in the game. That was especially important for Chew and her team: each element of the suit should be designed with functionality in mind.
"I also looked at athletic wear and compression clothing, basically," Chew says. "You'll see that his suit's got a lot of paneling. And each of the colors actually represents something specific. The blue is the most flexible part of his suit, so it's placed where he needs the most flexibility like when he raises his arms, things like that."
"You can see that the red part is actually still flexible but it's a little bit thicker," Chew explains. "There's even red paneling on his thighs, so if he's swinging close to a building, it'll protect him from, I guess building rash, if he scrapes against the building. And then the white. It's located on his gauntlets, shoes, and chest so it's like a flexible carbon fiber. So when he's blocking or when he's punching, that's where you would want that protection to be. We definitely thought a lot about the materials of the suit and translating to real life."
Indeed, it's a well thought out suit and Insomniac worked closely with Marvel Games, the entertainment company's video game branch, to make sure the new costume wasn't betraying any aspect of the character.
"Marvel Games really knows their stuff," Chew says. "They know the Marvel Universe so I never felt that we were in unsafe territory. Even when we were designing the suit, they would give us their feedback and their advice and same thing with the story. What's really cool about Marvel is that they have a really, really deep lore. In fact, I believe they have an archivist so if you ask them something, they can look up anything."
Spider-Man wasn't the only character Insomniac changed for its game. J. Jonah Jameson, for example, is more popular than ever as a right-wing radio pundit on a mission to soil Spidey's good name. Mary Jane Watson, traditionally a model and actress, is now an investigative reporter. The studio also looked at the villains. Chew shares that a bit of thought was put into modernizing Electro, the classic rogue first introduced in The Amazing Spider-Man #9 in 1964.
"If you're familiar with classic Electro, he pretty much wears a green onesie and he's got this giant yellow star that frames his head," Chew explains. "He was one of the more challenging characters to reproduce into modern times. I'm like, 'Well, that's pretty iconic but he'd look pretty dorky if he walked around like that now.'"
Needless to say, Electro needed to change his look to fit in with the other characters. Electro's classic green onesie wouldn't even cut it at SantaCon, that most awful of New York City traditions.
"Basically what we did is you look at these classic characters and you think about what's classic about it, or what's iconic," Chew says. "For me, it was the green and the yellow coloring, and then also that star. What we did was we just put that star, kept it on his head but we actually translated it into a scar on his face. So if you look at the scar on his face, it's actually star-shaped."
Fortunately, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 movie, which departed from the original color palette to turn Jamie Foxx into a blue nightmare, Insomniac honored Electro's green and yellow while adding a modern twist to the villain's abilities
"We kept the colors. The green and the yellow. But we actually created a vest that basically gives him the power to have electricity. Because I believe in the comics, it was a little bit more magical. That's one example of translating something that has been done before into something that's more modern and recognizable."
Insomniac's take on Spider-Man and his world accomplishes something that has sometimes proved to be a bit difficult for other game studios and major film studios: a modern re-telling of the Spidey mythos that subverts the original material while still celebrating it and translating it for a new era. Marvel's Spider-Man is indeed amazing.
Marvel's Spider-Man is out now exclusively for the PlayStation 4.
Netflix will follow the teen-aged exploits of King Arthur’s Lady of the Lake character in Cursed.
Netflix is pulling a sword from a stone in its upcoming original series, Cursed. Based on King Arthur’s Lady of the Lake, the project comes from comic book writer/artist Frank Miller (The Dark Knight Returns, Sin City) and Puss in Boots writer/producer Tom Wheeler. The 10-episode series is based on Miller and Wheeler's upcoming illustrated young adult book Cursed.
Cursed puts a twist on the King Arthur legend, since it's told through the eyes of the Excalibur-bestowing enchantress, the Lady of the Lake. The character is depicted here as a teenager, named Nimue, with a mysterious gift, and the coming-of-age series shows how she arrives on the road to her destiny. According to the plot description (via Variety), after her mother dies, Nimue joins a young mercenary named Arthur, on his quest to find the magician Merlin and deliver an ancient sword. The future Lady of the Lake become a symbol of courage and rebellion against the “terrifying Red Paladins, and their complicit King Uther."
Katherine Langford will star in Cursed as Nimue, reports Deadline. The role will serve as a quick Netflix homecoming for Langford, who, for two seasons, has starred on the streaming giant’s controversial teen drama, 13 Reasons Why as the posthumous-video-providing self-martyred teen, Hannah Baker. While that series was renewed for Season 3, Langford will not return. With momentum from 13 Reasons Why, Langford, an Aussie actress, banked movie appearances in director (and Arrowverse CW TV maestro,) Greg Berlanti’s recent rom-com, Love Simon, as well as the comedy-drama, The Misguided.
“I have always been entranced by the mythological Arthur story—and by Nimue, in particular,” said Frank Miller said in a statement after the book announcement, per CBR. “It can be interpreted in any number of ways — from a delightful children’s story, as in The Sword in the Stone, to a terrifying interpretation like Excalibur. This tale represents an incredible opportunity and an exciting challenge for me as an illustrator, and I’m excited to collaborate on the story with Thomas Wheeler. I inherited a collection of antique children’s books from my mother, and I’ve always wanted to have a crack at it myself. This project is a dream come true.”
Miller, who co-directed Sin City with Robert Rodriguez, also wrote the graphic novels Ronin, Daredevil: Born Again, and 300. He created the character Elektra for Marvel Comics’ Daredevil series, and the character Carrie Kelley for DC Comics. Miller wrote and directed The Spirit, which was based on the Will Eisner comic book series.
Wheeler co-wrote Lego: Ninjago Movie for Warner Brothers. He also is currently writing the sequel to the Shrek spinoff Puss in Boots. Michael Bay will direct his original screenplay Vostok for Paramount Pictures. He wrote the screenplay for the live-action adaptation of the cartoon Dora the Explorer. It will be directed by James Bobin and come out for 2019 release date.
Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing will release Cursed in Fall 2019. However, we still don't know when to expect the Netflix series.
With Henry Cavill apparently finished as the Man of Steel, where does Superman go next in the DCEU?
Despite how cagey Warner Bros. was about keeping Henry Cavill’s Superman out of most of the marketing for Justice League, we always knew that his return would be a key moment, not just for the movie, but for the entire DCEU. And while it took a few years to get there, the final act of Justice Leaguemakes it pretty clear that the studio is finally ready to give audiences a classic interpretation of the character. Or, they would be, if Superman hadn’t been such a difficult business proposition on screen over the last decade or more.
The bad news is that Justice League fell well short of expectations at the box office, making it the fourth troubled Superman movie in the last 11 years. This has had ramifications for the entire DCEU slate going forward (Justice League 2 has no release date), and the implications for the Last Son of Krypton aren’t particularly encouraging. There's not much reason for Mr. Cavill to stick around at the moment, and the also bad news is that it looks like his time in the cape might be coming to an end.
The simplest proposition, Man of Steel 2, now seems less likely to happen than ever before. Even the most ardent Superman fan will likely agree that an earthbound Superman story revolving around Metropolis and the Daily Planet is going to be a tough sell. After all, once you’ve done two full blown alien invasions, it’s tough to follow that. Cramming Superman’s death and return into two movies where he was relegated to co-star not only robbed that big story of the spotlight it deserves, but lowers the stakes for the character in the future. Once you’ve beaten death, what’s left?
While it would be great to see a Justice League 2that centers Superman as the leader and inspirational figure that the current film hinted at, it doesn’t seem likely right now. Apparently, there were plans for a Superman cameo in the upcoming Shazam! movie, but that is no longer the case. There has been idle chatter about adapting Red Son, which deals with a Superman who grew up in the Soviet Union, and the attendant world-changing ramifications that would bring. Neither of these non-traditional takes sounds terribly appealing to Superman fans waiting for a Richard Donner-esque return to glory.
But it would be a mistake for Warner Bros. to turn their backs entirely on Superman. They just need to adjust their thinking a little. These are some low risk ways they can get one more flight from Cavill (maybe), continue to exploit their shared universe of the DCEU, and use Superman to introduce (or reintroduce) characters:
Take Him Off-World
The DCEU hasn’t been shy about playing up Superman’s inherently alien nature and the “stranger in a strange land” elements of the character. Getting him out of Metropolis and out into the cosmos where he can cut loose will help mitigate any fears that audiences won’t accept another “traditional” Superman movie. By doing this, Warner Bros. could help reinvigorate a far more toxic franchise.
Green Lantern Corps currently has a 2020 release date, but little else. The intention is for GLC to play up the interstellar nature of the Corps, and keep the action away from Earth. Writer Elliot S. Maggin often played with the idea that Superman was a source of fascination for the Guardians of the Universe on Oa, and his classic Bronze Age story “Must There Be a Superman?” in which the Guardians worry that Superman is interfering with the proper development of human civilization, would be the perfect jumping off point to get Supes into space. There’s your first act, and then Kal-El and the Corps can go to town on the alien menace of your choice.
Adding Superman to the Green Lantern Corps movie (I’m not suggesting giving him a ring, calm down) hits three important DCEU notes. Moments of it can be a loose adaptation of a classic DC Comics story (they love doing this), it removes Green Lantern Corps even further from the DOA 2011 Green Lantern movie, and the theme of Superman wondering whether he can do more good out in the cosmos rather than potentially stunting humanity’s growth would be in line with the sometimes somber tone of the DCEU.
On a similar note, WB could use Superman to solve one of the problems they caused in Justice League. Steppenwolf was a woefully underdeveloped villain, and Jack Kirby’s epic (in the actual sense of the word) Fourth World and New Gods concepts weren’t well served on screen. While there is now a New Gods movie in development (with Ava DuVernay at the helm), we need to care about the war between the planets New Genesis and Apokolips, and it might not hurt to give audiences a feel for their place in the wider DCEU.
Several of Jack Kirby’s earliest Fourth World stories involved Superman coming into contact with various New Gods and Forever People, and his longing to be among beings who are more like him. Let Orion and Lightray come to earth to enlist Superman’s aid in their cosmic war, similar to how these concepts were introduced in Superman: The Animated Series. Superman becomes the audience’s POV character, we no longer have to worry about him automatically being the most powerful person in the room all the time, and the DCEU can properly introduce Darkseid without having to stage yet another invasion of Earth.
Team Him Up with Established Stars
Even without Justice League 2 being a priority, there are plenty of stars in the orbit of the DCEU. Dwayne Johnson has long expressed a desire for his Black Adam to “throw down” with someone like Superman, and Johnson and Cavill have made some teasing posts on social media together. Johnson’s Black Adam will no longer be introduced in 2019’s Shazam movie, and instead has a standalone movie of his own coming.
But despite the star power of Johnson, Black Adam isn’t the most recognizable character in DC’s stable (for that matter, neither is Shazam these days), but Superman certainly is, and an easier match for a team-up (or throwdown) than say, Batman. Check out the Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam animated movie for a natural way to let these characters bolster each other. The Rock is often referred to as “franchise viagra” and, frankly, Superman’s box office takings have been stuck at about half-mast.
But again, after the talks for a Superman cameo in Shazam fell through, this easy solution doesn't seem all that likely. After all, Cavill signed up for the role of Superman to be a headliner, not a second banana.
Although my personal dream would be to re-team Superman with DC’s two safest cinematic bets: Batman (whoever he may be) and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. The DCEU loves adapting the broad strokes of classic comic stories, so a big screen version of the Watchmen creative team of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ “For The Man Who Has Everything” would tick all the appropriate boxes, without the pressure of it being a full blown Justice League sequel (which at the moment seems about as improbable as Man of Steel 2).
“For the Man Who Has Everything” is the superhero story that has everything. A powerful alien puts Superman into a hallucinatory coma, causing him to live in a dream world where he grew to maturity on a Krypton that never exploded, all while Batman and Wonder Woman fight for their lives. This could play almost like Inception (or a Twilight Zone episode) with superheroes, and it would allow another big screen appearance for Krypton, the visual and world-building highlight of Man of Steel. In a way, this story, which forces Superman to confront and make peace with his guilt at being the sole survivor of his world, would feel like a fitting sendoff for Cavill’s Superman.
The Alternate Universe Option
It would seem there has been some chatter about Michael B. Jordan wearing the red cape. Warner Bros. has already started to partition certain elements of their DC movies from the main timeline of the DCEU. Todd Phillips' upcoming Joker movie is set in the 1980s, and deals with a different version of the character, played by a different actor, than the one we've met in Suicide Squad, for example. So the idea of Michael B. Jordan as Superman isn't too far-fetched, especially if they go with Grant Morrison and Doug Mahnke's Calvin Ellis, "President Superman" version of the character.
The full DC superhero movie release schedule can be found here. Maybe we'll get a Superman story added to it one of these days.
How would you fight oppression if you had no voice? Vox is a modern take on themes explored in Handmaid's Tale & 1984.
It is the age of dystopian women's fiction. As things become more unsure out in the world, dystopian, politically-charged fiction that elaborates on the extremes of supposed "traditional values" have risen in popularity. In that vein, I present to you Vox by Christina Dalcher, a cautionary tale heavily reminiscent of those literary works that came before it in the genre.
Vox is easily defined as a more modern take on The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. Dalcher spells out how this fictional America devalued women and supposedly followed religious doctrine to impose ludicrous laws on them. Perhaps Dalcher was inspired by that work and decided to take it in another logical direction. Either way, if you enjoyed Handmaid's Tale, 1984 or other notable literary depictions of a utilitarian government, Vox is your next foray into “What if?".
In Vox, an uber conservative doctrine makes it so women are stripped of their rights and forced to return to their “rightful place” in the household. Similar to The Handmaid's Tale. However, Dalcher's take has an added, insidious twist: Every woman is fitted with a counter on her wrist that keeps track of how many words she speaks each day. Women are only allowed one hundred words per day. Anything above that will electrocute her. For context, this review is already over 200 words.
Vox raises and answers a few poignant questions. How do you control a population? Silence them. Keep them downtrodden. Take away their power. Take away their voice. How do you start a revolution? Do all those things and think you can get away with it for long.
This book is written from a true love of language. The narrator of the story is Dr. Jean McClellan, who was a linguistics professor and researcher before she and every other woman was virtually silenced and thrown back into the kitchen. The author herself has a doctorate in theoretical linguistics from Georgetown. A love of language, and a fear of its loss, is palpable.
It's not hard to see why Dalcher chose restricted speech as a method of illustrating the extremity of her speculative political dystopia. 1984 also held this theme, as the government slowly eroded the lexicon until people couldn't describe the qualities of something beyond “good” and “ungood.”
Even in her relative silence, Jean makes contemplations about language that say more than she says. Everything has more meaning, even when she's making fun of how, in the old days, words were wasted on euphemisms and metaphors: “No one dies from love outside of a Bronte novel or eats entire horses or lays his life on the line for a baseball game. No one. But we say this garbage all the time.”
And she often thinks about the stunted growth of her young daughter, Sofia: “By six, Sonia should have an army of ten thousand lexemes, individual troops that assemble and come to attention and obey the orders her small, still-plastic brain issues.”
This change in society happened because of the Pure Movement, which at first seemed like a couple of wackadoos, and soon became the cultural norm when a new President took office. Is this book a political response to the world we're living in? You bet it is!
Things change when it turns out that Jean and her colleagues are the only researchers able to cure a rare disease afflicting the President's brother. The women are temporarily freed of their counters and return to work with a strict deadline. 1984-esque Big Brother vibes run rampant as Jean and her collegues realize there is more to the government-mandated research than originally implied.
At the heart of the story is Jean's family. She has three boys and one little girl, Sonia. Sonia is six years old and has worn the counter on her wrist since she was five. At a crucial time for language development and reading skills, girls like Sonia only learn the basics of sewing and arithmatic at school. Reading and spelling are not allowed. Worse still, the school begins a daily contest for the child who speaks the least. One day, Jean realizes with horror that Sonia has been rewarded for being silent all day.
Another important through line with Jean's family is her son, Stephen, who is maturing into a world that devalues women. Through Jean's observation of him, we see him turn from a student who just has to take these mandated religious-studies classes, to a puppet completely falling for the supposed values thrown on him and his peers. A simple fight over who should buy the milk in the house shows how nasty her son has become towards Jean, and how much the system is changing the children brought up in this new world.
Jean sometimes turns to the recent past, explaining to the reader in snippets what led up to her new normal. How there were protests, arguments on national TV between people of opposing sides. “None of this happened without a fight,” she tells us. She shows us the warning signs while pointing out how she and others could have done more to fight what would eventually happen.
Jean is not a perfect character, and I think that is important. She is definitely likable and relatable, but she's also doing questionable things. She begins a relationship with colleague Lorenzo that is not only morally-ambiguous in the context of her strained relationship with her husband, but also adds another layer of danger to her story. Adulterers are thrown into concentration camps or work farms and are given a counter that shocks them if they speak at all. Quite the stakes for a lovelorn secret romance.
Vox is a book that asks “What if?” and places you in the shoes of someone affected by the extreme outcomes of government meddling in personal lives. It's frightening, tense and sad, but there are some moments of levity that break through the gloom. Somehow, we're along for this ride with Jean, as she fights for some semblance of her old life while trying to console her daugher and correct her misguided son. Events grow very intense as the story progresses. Voxcontains a set of twists that leave you turning page after page, desperate to see how it all ends.
Vox is available to read now via Amazon or your local independent book store.
AMC's TV series adaptation of Joe Hills's supernatural novel will star Zachary Quinto and Ashleigh Cummings
AMC is moving forward with a new supernatural horror series tentatively titled NOS4A2. The series is based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Joe Hill, whose novel Horns was adapted into a 2014 movie starring Daniel Radcliffe. Hill, who's an executive producer on the CW reboot of Tales from the Darkside, will board NOS4A2 as an executive producer.
The 10-episode series – produced by AMC Studios in association with Tornante Television – will arrive under the primary purview of showrunner Jami O’Brien (Fear the Walking Dead, Hell on Wheels, Flesh and Bone), joined by executive producer Lauren Corrao, Co-President of Tornante Television. As Hill lauded of O'Brien in an April statement, “her beautifully composed scripts show a writer at the height of her powers, one who has an exquisite touch with character and a relentless instinct for suspense.”
Kari Skogland (The Handmaid’s Tale, Sons of Liberty) is confirmed as the director of the first two episodes. The series is set to premiere sometime in 2019.
The primary duo of NOS4A2 has been officially announced!
Zachary Quinto will be back in his vintage Heroes-esque psychopathic form to play Charlie Manx, an immortal parasitic serial killer who uses his 1938 Rolls Royce with the license plate number "NOS4A2" to kidnap children. According to the description, Manx is “a seductive immortal who feeds off the souls of children, then deposits what remains of them into Christmasland – an icy, twisted Christmas village of Manx’s imagination where every day is Christmas Day and unhappiness is against the law.”
Ashleigh Cummings will play series protagonist Vic McQueen, a young New England-based starving artist who suddenly discovers that she possesses a supernatural psychic ability connected to the killer, Manx, allowing her to track him and rescue his victims; an endeavor she will attempt to accomplish without losing her own mind. As the official description adds, “what Vic lacks in social confidence, she makes up for in courage, humor, and tough-as-nails grit.”
Quinto, like the rest of the Star Trek movie cast, is still waiting for a resolution on the space-docked cinematic franchise to reprise his role as Spock. The American actor, who first broke big as the memorably psychotic villain, Sylar, on NBC’s Heroes, is currently living up to his legacy to the late original Spock, Leonard Nimoy, taking over as host of the rebooted scientific documentary series, In Search Of, and recently appeared in films such as Hotel Artemis and Who Are We Now.
Cummings, an Aussie actress, will next be seen in a TV run on the New Zealand crime drama, Westside, having gained notable attention for her run on Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries as the flapper detective's sidekick, Dot. However, besides this co-starring role in NOS4A2, major movie prospects lie ahead as part of the cast of the star-stacked drama, The Goldfinch, in which she joins names like Nicole Kidman, Sarah Paulson, Jeffrey Wright, Ansel Elgort, Luke Wilson and Finn Wolfhard.
As author/executive-producer Joe Hill expressed in the April statement:
“AMC's record speaks for itself: who wouldn't want to be in business with the ‘Mad Men’ who ‘Broke Bad’ and made ‘The Dead Walk?’ And Tornante's dedication to bringing singular visions to TV has freed everyone involved to do theirbest and truest work. I can't wait to see Vic McQueen turn the throttle and go after Charlie Manx in 2019. Let's ride.”
Showrunner O'Brien added, “I loved Joe Hill’s fantastic book from the moment I read it, and look forward to continuing to work with Joe, AMC, and Tornante on this exciting material."
As David Madden, president of original programming for AMC, SundanceTV and AMC Studios, said of O'Brien:
“Jami O’Brien and the writing team have vibrantly brought Joe Hill’s incredible story to life for the small screen and we are pleased to be making this diabolically unique new show under the AMC Studios shingle, in association with Tornante.”
“Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions,” reads the official synopsis on Amazon. It continues:
“On her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, she makes her way to a rickety covered bridge that, within moments, takes her wherever she needs to go, whether it’s across Massachusetts or across the country.
“Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing – and terrifying – playground of amusements he calls ‘Christmasland.’
Then, one day, Vic goes looking for trouble—and finds Manx. That was a lifetime ago. Now Vic, the only kid to ever escape Manx’s unmitigated evil, is all grown up and desperate to forget. But Charlie Manx never stopped thinking about Victoria McQueen. He’s on the road again and he’s picked up a new passenger: Vic’s own son.”
An original graphic novel will feature Tommy and feature more of the Master Morpher.
Aww man, time for some stories of Old Man Tommy! If you ever wondered what the hell Tommy's been up to since we last saw him in the series (Super Megaforce) then BOOM! Studios and Saban Brands have you covered. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Soul Of The Dragon is an original graphic novel that will reveal "a powerful, untold chapter in the life of hte lengendary original Green Ranger." We've got the official description below.
It’s been a long time since Tommy Oliver has served as a Power Ranger. He’s defeated space witches, brought down evil armies, protected the galaxy, but now Tommy leaves protecting the world to the Power Rangers at Space Patrol Delta. But when his son goes missing, it’s up to Tommy to discover a secret in his past, in order to save his future. Now Tommy will call on all his training, his friends, and maybe even some of his enemies as he sets out on his most important mission: find his son and bring him home.
Now that Dimensions in Danger has aired we know that son is JJ, the child he had with Katherine. Below we've also got new preview images of the comic, featuring Tommy fighting against some aliens.
“Tommy Oliver has been part of the Power Rangers for the past 25 years,” said Jason David Frank, who played Tommy in the original series. “We've seen him morph into so many different Power Rangers. Now in Soul Of The Dragon we get to see an in-depth story of the life of Tommy Oliver as a Power Ranger and person. We go deeper into the multiple Rangers Tommy has become throughout time- I'm excited for all of you to see how Tommy evolves into the Legendary Power Ranger he is and the legacy he will leave behind forever."
Deeper into the multiple Rangers Tommy has become? More Dino Thunder Tommy stories, please! Below you can find the cover of this original graphic novel and the design for the older Tommy.
Does anyone else get an Old Man Logan vibe from this comic? JDF is a self professed huge fan of Wolverine and with him being a "special consultant" on this comic the influence can't be far off. We'll see once it's released!
Shamus Kelley is a pop culture/television writer and official Power Rangers expert. Follow him on Twitter!
DC Universe is a slick blend of comics reader and superhero movie and TV streaming service, but still has room to grow.
Now that it's finally here, there’s a lot to like about DC Universe, the combination comics service and superhero-centric streaming service from DC Entertainment. The platform itself is attractive, as is the reasonable price point, and it offers a few things that its chief competitors, namely Marvel Unlimited and ComiXology Unlimited simply don’t do.
The mission statement of DC Universe is right there in its name. It really does want fans to look at it as the primary portal into, well, the DC Universe, and it makes no distinction between comics, movies, TV, or animated interpretations of its characters. DC has always traded on the concept of its Multiverse as a key point of difference in its mythology. While most of their comics take place in one prime timeline, DC long ago embraced string theory, postulating that alternate versions of their characters, contradictory continuity elements, and more can all be explained by the existence of a Multiverse in which all things are possible. If Grant Morrison were writing this review, he would say that DC Universe turns you into a Monitor, with an Orrery of Worlds of your very own that you can access and observe from assorted devices. He’s not, though, so you should probably forget I said anything like that.
I’m not going to get to deep into the weeds dealing with expected launch bugs such as the occasional crash or glitch. Having spent time with DC Universe on Android and Apple devices, as well as a Roku, I can confirm this is a top notch platform, and any minor issues should be resolved fairly quickly. Right now, my main issue seems to be getting the “lists” feature to work as anything other than “favorites.” DC Universe allows you to create reading lists, much the same way you would a Spotify playlist, something missing from its competitors, and a potentially fun way for users to share with each other. I’ve also noticed that you can’t seem to access the full library of movies from the home screen when using Roku, which also lacks the “browse all” feature for both comics and video that is present on other devices. Again, these seem like hiccups, and I expect they’ll be resolved soon enough, and so far it's less buggy than chief competitor Marvel Unlimited is...and that launched six years ago.
For $7.99 a month (or $6.25 if you go for the annual subscription), there’s enough hours of superhero programming to make this worthwhile for fans. There’s the expected titles like Batman: The Animated Series (which really looks great), Young Justice, and Justice League Unlimited, as well as all nine seasons of Super Friends and a nicely remastered Wonder Woman TV series. The Christopher Reeve Superman movies are there (I certainly hope you’ve all seen Superman: The Movie by now...the sequels, however, are a mixed bag), as are the Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher Batman films. There are no DCEU movies (yet), and only the first two movies of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, with Dark Knight Rises currently absent. I suspect the absence of that film is a revealing one. Something tells me that the omissions of more recent blockbusters and current TV shows has something to do with assorted cable TV rights that still need to expire before they can all be herded under the DC Universe umbrella. I expect they’ll get here eventually, but it will take some time.
That TV and movie selection includes some hidden gems, too. The dreadful but strangely compelling Legends of the Superheroes is here, which contains (among other things) the first live action versions of Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, and other Justice League members. The Spirit TV movie is here, too, which stars former Flash Gordon star Sam J. Jones as Will Eisner’s most famous creation. Any Batman: The Animated Series fan would do well to check out the Max Fleischer Supermancartoons from the 1940s, which were a tremendous visual influence. The inclusion of the generally underrated Superman and the Legion of Super Heroes animated series is a nice surprise, too. It’s a nice enough library, and should hold everyone over until the original programming starts to arrive in October with Titans.
As a comics reader, DC Universe is a smooth, visually pleasing experience. When reading on a tablet, I still prefer the “traditional” full page to a panel by panel guided view, but the guided view works well for those who want it, and it can be set to autoplay on the TV version, for those who want to try comics reading as a communal experience...or who just want a cool assortment of comic art playing on their TV in the background.
But it’s the selection of comics itself where DC Universe shows its first real weakness. Boasting 2,500 “curated” titles at launch, DC Universe has plenty to offer fans who may only know these characters through movies or TV, and who just want to poke around and either see some of the stories that inspired them. But more serious readers will likely be disappointed by the number of comics available.
2,500 may seem like a lot, but to a hardcore fan, it isn’t. I do still think that at its current price point, DC Universe is a bargain for superhero fans, and will justify itself even more once original programming like Titans, Doom Patrol, Young Justice: Outsiders, Swamp Thing, and others start to land. But comic fans are greedy, and we’ve been spoiled by the expansive Marvel Unlimited library. DC’s chief competitors offer virtually everything they’ve ever published for $9.99 a month, albeit without any kind of streaming video, social, or reading list components. But what that Marvel Unlimited selection facilitates is the comic book equivalent of a binge watch. You can get lost in the library, and burn through issue after issue for hours on end, and there’s little danger that you won’t find what you’re looking for. There are barriers to that here.
Perhaps a tiered pricing system, that would allow hardcore fans (like myself) to pay an extra few bucks for a more expansive library, would do the trick. I would certainly pay more for the opportunity to binge read even more relatively obscure pieces of DC history, like Roger Stern and Tom Lyle's Starman or the original Max Allan Collins, Terry Beatty, Dick Giordano Wild Dog. On the other hand, I can’t help but feel that the current system will leave even casual fans frustrated. Many key series offer less than the equivalent of the first trade paperback worth of issues. Darwyn Cooke's essential, flawless The New Frontier only offers the first of its six issues, which is kind of like if you sat down to watch a movie on Netflix and it cut you off after the first 15 minutes. Little things like this make the comics end of DC Universe feel like more of a tease than a gateway drug and I fear it will help further the impression that comics are an impenetrable morass of never ending, soap opera-esque storytelling.
I also find, as I find in pop culture in general, a distinct Batman bias in the selection, but I guess that’s to be expected, since everybody loves that mopey, pointy-eared rich kid so much. But Superman books are woefully underrepresented, as are heavy hitters like Wonder Woman and Flash. The fact that they only offer the first issue of volume 1 of Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s New Teen Titans, mere weeks before the show launches, seems particularly counterproductive. The service will use a typical streaming service model, so expect things to become less Batman-heavy at some point (they did choose Batman Day as launch day, after all), and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see an influx of Shazam books (and hopefully video, as both the live action TV series and the Filmation animated cartoon are both currently absent) as we get into 2019 and that character’s movie debut looms.
Don’t get me wrong, as there are plenty of gems within that selection. Steve Ditko’s Hawk and Dove, 13 issues of All-Star Squadron, all of Peter David’s Aquaman, the entirety of the Legends of the Dark Knight anthology, a solid chunk of the Jon Ostrander Suicide Squad...there’s certainly stuff to keep you occupied. But there are also the some puzzling decisions that I can only assume are errors. There are 36 issues of James Robinson’s brilliant Starman series on here, and it’s tough to imagine a better binge read, or the kind of thing that a fan of deep DC lore would enthusiastically recommend to a newbie. The problem is, the first four issues are there, then #5 is missing, and then it picks up again with #6. Two of Chuck Dixon and Tom Lyle’s excellent Robin minis are available...but not the original, only the sequels. And in the case of Robin III: Cry of the Huntress, it starts with issue #2.
I even have to question why DC Universe remains so beholden to the single issue model, especially for comics published in the last decade or so. Sorting a library by single issue rather than story or volume is great for utilizing the “reading list” feature of the service, and certainly makes sense for comics published prior to the early 2000s, but for those interested in curating a large, personal library of binge-worthy reads, it quickly becomes unwieldy. The single issue format also means DC Universe falls prey to some of the least endearing quirks of Marvel Unlimited. Annuals are treated as separate series, rather than sorted into publication order with the rest of a series, and DC’s frequent zero issues are always sorted at the start of a run...despite the fact that they rarely are the appropriate starting point for any given series and take place in the middle of other stories. Instead of putting all of the Rebirth run of Batgirl and the Birds of Prey under one umbrella, for example, there is Batgirl and the Birds of Prey: Rebirth (the one-shot that kicked off the series), and then a separate entry for Batgirl and the Birds of Prey (whose #1 is really the 2nd issue of the series). ComiXology Unlimited has wisely abandoned the single issue format for a vast chunk of its “Unlimited” selections, which makes for a cleaner navigation experience and an easier sort when browsing, and I’m surprised to see that hasn’t been adopted for DC Universe. Titles like Paul Pope's Batman: Year 100, the inescapable Dark Knight Returns, the gorgeous Atlantis Chronicles, and others would be better served if offered as large serving collected edition style reading experiences, not single issues
It’s far too early to tell how some of the more ambitious features, notably the forums and social components will play out, although to be fair, I spent by far the least amount of time exploring these. While the idea of a DC-focused social network is certainly appealing on its surface, as someone who spends far too much time on the internet already (please note what I do for a living), I’m skeptical that this will become anything other than another platform for trolls and Snyder Cut truthers. DC plans to use this to break news, as well, but the first episode of their DC Daily show feels, at best, like an overstuffed infomercial. All this stuff is easy enough to avoid if you don’t want it, though, as it’s still the video and comics that will get people in the door.
Overall, The platform itself is certainly a step ahead of both Marvel Unlimited and ComiXology Unlimited, but there are definitely things it can learn from both in terms of selection (from Marvel), and presentation/organization (from ComiXology). I do think they may have to work a little harder to really hook the serious comics readers in. I can think of countless titles that either aren’t due for a physical collection any time soon, or are out of print and/or not exactly burning up anyone’s order sheets, and there’s no reason they shouldn’t be permanent fixtures on here. Whether at the monthly rate of $7.99 or the annual of $74.99, DC Universe is a solid value, and as more original programming is added, and should they decide to treat comics as less an appetizer and more a main course, that should only improve.
Bucky Barnes is looking for redemption once again as Marvel brings back the Winter Soldier.
Bucky Barnes is an interesting part of the Marvel tapestry. For four decades, he was the hands-off part of Captain America’s backstory. As Marvel and its fans were concerned, you could bring back nearly any dead character, but leave Uncle Ben, Gwen Stacy, and Bucky Barnes the hell alone. Finally, Ed Brubaker brought him back as the Winter Soldier and absolutely pulled it off. It was one of those “shoot at the king, you best not miss” situations and he totally didn’t miss.
Despite being a hit character, Bucky has had a hard time being the star of his own book. He was Captain America for a while, and that was certainly successful, but he spent it in Steve Rogers’ shadow and things didn’t end up so well for him. He had a couple of miniseries and then finally got a run as some kind of space assassin that everyone’s already forgotten about. He became the leader of the Thunderbolts, which was a fantastic idea, but went absolutely nowhere.
But Bucky is pretty important and is probably getting his own movie at some point, so it’s time for another shot. This time we’re getting Kyle Higgins and Rod Reis with Winter Soldier #1, coming out this December.
The hook of this one is that after years of moping about what he was forced to do as a mind-wiped, frozen assassin, Bucky has finally accepted that his accomplishments have earned him some sort of redemption. Now he’s on the road, looking for others to redeem.
Huh. This might be a better Thunderbolts story than that comic that was literally about Bucky running the Thunderbolts.
“As someone with quite a bit of experience writing grown up sidekicks, I know firsthand how important it is to define the character outside of their relationship with their mentor,” said Higgins in a statement. “Since being freed from Soviet brainwashing, Bucky has done a massive amount of work to atone for his sins--becoming Captain America, spending time in the Gulag, dying to save the world... in many ways, he's found redemption. So, what's next for him? He's going to help other people do the same.”
“To be able to work with a character that has such a rich legacy and striking visual identity is really exciting,” added Reis. “Taking Bucky forward and building a world unique to him – one that still respects his past – is an artist’s dream. I can’t wait for people to see what we’ve come up with.”
“As someone who grew up loving sidekicks, I've been fascinated by Bucky Barnes for as long as I've been reading comics,” said Higgins. “Then, in 2005, I fell in love with the character all over again thanks to Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting's incredible Winter Soldier run. Now, along with one of my favorite artists in comics, I'm thrilled to be taking Bucky Barnes on his next journey.”
Winter Soldier #1 arrives on December 5.
Old X-Force meets up with Young Cable in this brand new chapter of X-Men's edgier counterpart.
Currently, Ed Brisson is doing a miniseries called Exterminationalong with Pepe Larraz that focuses on the whole original-X-Men-transported-into-the-present-and-stuck-there-for-way-too-long subplot of the mutant corner of Marvel. While we’re only two issues in, some serious shit has happened, including the death of Cable. Not only is Nathan Summers dead (kind of negating some recent Deadpool stuff, but no matter), but the guy pulling the trigger was...Nathan Summers.
More specifically, a very young Nathan Summers. Turns out the whole youngster X-traveler thing is hereditary.
There’s still three more issues of Exterminationto come out and figure out what’s happening with Ahab and all that, but the ripples of Cable’s death will lead to a brand new series this December. Ed Brisson will be teaming up with Dylan Burnett to give us X-Force.
Which is kind of funny when you realize that this isn’t the first time X-Forcerelaunched in response to Cable dying.
This time, it’s more of a classic team. Domino’s there, as well as Cannonball, Warpath, Boom-Boom, Shatterstar and Deathlok. I mean, Deathlok wasn’t part of the original stretch of X-Force, but he was in a recent version and he’s 90s as hell. Looking at the cover, Young Cable will be part of the team, even if the concept of the series is X-Force coming together to get revenge on him.
“Coming out of EXTERMINATION, Domino, Shatterstar, Cannonball, and Warpath are reeling from the loss of their mentor and have unanswered questions,” Brisson told Marvel.com in an interview. “They're on the hunt for this new Kid Cable to get those answers—some want his head, some just want to talk to him to find out what the hell is going on. Is this really their Cable? Is this an impostor?”
“X-Force has always been the one X-team that stood out the most for me,” added Burnett. “A lot of my favorite mutants have belonged to it over the years (namely Cable and Psylocke) but being able to bring back the original lineup in a new way is a huge honor. They're just a bunch of badasses. It's dope. I'm stoked.”
X-Force #1 will be released on December 26.
The Thing and Alicia Masters will finally get hitched in Fantastic Four!
When Reed Richards and Sue Storm got married, all the way back in Fantastic Four Annual #3, it was a huge deal. It was this massive crossover with the whole Marvel Universe as it existed back in the mid-60s. Despite all the deaths, divorces, and Devil retcon contracts to happen over the decades, Reed and Sue have always remained a married couple. Now that the Fantastic Four is back as a team, it’s time for the next long-running couple to tie the knot.
In the pages of Fantastic Four #1 by Dan Slott and Sara Pichelli, Ben Grimm finally popped the question to longtime love interest Alicia Masters. All things considered, it sure took him long enough.
There’s some stuff with Reed and Sue returning that really needs to get wrapped up in the next couple of issues, but on December 26, Fantastic Four #5 will be released and we’ll be seeing that wedding in action. How fitting that the guy who went a couple rounds with the Champion of the Universe would get married on Boxing Day.
The issue is a big milestone for the characters as it will be the 650th issue of Fantastic Four. To celebrate the issue, not only will Aaron Kuder be drawing the main story, but we’ll also some assistance from big names Adam Hughes and Michael Allred.
Ben Grimm and Alicia Masters have been an item since Fantastic Four #8 back in 1962. The daughter of reformed villain the Puppet Master, Alicia's blindness has been played up as a complement to Thing’s monstrous appearance and his lack of self-confidence. There was a point where Alicia married Johnny Storm, but that turned out to be a Skrull imposter and the real Alicia returned shortly after.
In the alternate future Earth X, Thing and Alicia are married and have two rocky sons known as The Brothers Grimm. It’s enough to make you happy for her, but also feel really, really bad for her. God, I hope they weren’t twins.
Check out the wedding this December.
“There are a handful of comic titles that demand respect due to their history. Titles that have influenced generations of fans and creators alike...Fantastic Four is definitely one of the biggest,” Aaron Kuder said in a statement. “It is truly an honor on that basis alone. Throw in the fact that I’m working with legendary creators like Dan, Mike, Adam, and Marte, and that just sets my inner fanboy a-spinning. I’ll be giving this ALL I've got.”
“It’s been a long time in coming—more than 55 years!—but Ben and Alicia are finally tying the knot!” added SVP and Executive Editor Tom Brevoort. “And we’ve gone all-out to make this an extra-special event for fans, with the inclusion of not only the terrific Aaron Kuder (who’ll be illustrating the next storyline as well) but also Adam Hughes and Mike Allred for an all-star spectacular bash!”
Justice League continues to rewrite the laws of the DC Universe and explores the reason behind the Legion of Doom's existence.
The general logic goes that Justice League is the flagship title of the DC Universe. When you’ve united some of the most recognizable and powerful superheroes in the world under one banner, it isn’t to tell small stories. As Justice League goes, so goes the DC Universe. Or at least that's how it should be.
But over the last few years, no matter how big the story (and they’ve all been big), Justice League has felt fairly self contained, with its tales rarely impacting the rest of the DCU. That isn’t to say it hasn’t been good, as the book wrapped its previous volume with a terrific run by Christopher Priest and Pete Woods, for example. But under the stewardship of Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, and a host of killer artists, Justice League is currently changing the very fabric of the DC Universe, introducing wild new concepts about the nature of powers and how things work by the handful each issue.
“It's really refreshing,” James Tynion IV says. “Everything building up to the current place of Justice League books and where we wanted to go, like the Source Wall breaking down, operates kind of on two levels. For one, it set a little story in motion for what we're doing for this Justice League. On a story level it was also meant to represent that we wanted to take all of the rules of the DC Universe and literally tear the wall open and make it so everything that you felt was a complete tapestry, you suddenly realize you're only seeing a piece of it. We wanted all of the characters to be faced with not understanding the entirety of their mythology.”
That's pretty heady stuff, but there's a more basic reason for the scale of the stories, too. “We also just wanted these books to be incredibly fun,” he admits.
And just as Justice Leaguehas an eye on the future of the DC Universe with all its new revelations, it grounds it with a nod to the past. The book prominently features the rise of the Legion of Doom, the supervillain team first introduced on the Challenge of the Super Friends animated series in 1978. Made up of the most recognizable baddies in all of comics, led by Lex Luthor, and housed in one of the coolest headquarters imaginable, the Legion of Doom could have been used as a way to use nostalgia to lure fans in. Instead, they're being used to illustrate just what heroes and villains stand for in the DC Universe.
"I’m loving writing Lex Luthor in these issues because this is a bit more of the Silver Age, mad scientist Luthor, than we've seen in a while,” Tynion says. “Honestly, that's one of my favorite iterations of the character. Getting him back to that point where he's still driven by all of the same things, but now it's just the lengths he'll go to pursue what he wants are limitless. It’s just really, really fun to write.”
Tynion, who admits that Luthor is a favorite villain of his, has spent some time considering what drives Luthor to be the best, or worst, he can be.
“Luthor is that voice inside of all of us that's angry that anything anywhere can be better than you,” Tynion says. “For Luthor, you know, he is supposed to be the pinnacle of man and the fact that there's something above him is the most infuriating thing in the world. I think we can all tap into a bit of that fury. Either that or I just revealed something very telling about myself.”
Back in Justice League #5, Luthor caught a glimpse of a future where humanity had venerated Lex and other villains, rather than heroes. "Society stopped fooling itself," a young man dressed as the Joker and wearing Luthor-inspired power armor told Lex. Lex was so inspired that he formed the Legion of Doom, with a mission statement that it would "not stand for the people as they should be, but as they were, and would always be." It's not just a great exploration of what motivates Luthor, it's perhaps the best distinction between what the heroes and villains of the DC Universe stand for.
“It's something that I talked about a lot with Scott [Snyder]," Tynion says. "In nature, there is no such thing as justice. Justice is not an actual thing that exists. It's something that you aspire to. It's a dream that is sort of enforced upon a universe to try to make it better. What Luthor is saying is that, 'we don't need to enforce something better on us. We need to respect what we are and become the best at that.'"
Luthor would certainly know, as he spent time as a hero, and even a member of the Justice League. “Luthor feels that he wasted, you know it's comic book time, so who knows how long it actually was, but a few years of comic publishing time where he was acting as the hero,” Tynion says. “He got swept up in trying to pursue this dream version, rather that just accepting all of his worst instincts and being the best version of that version of himself.”
When the Legion of Doom were first created, it was an assortment of villains that could be paired off against the specific heroes in the Justice League. But while this Legion contains many of the same members, it isn't as simple as using a hero's biggest villain to counter their traditional foe in the League. And there are more members coming.
“Luthor is the central figure through the Legion of Doom story, but Martian Manhunter, more than anyone, is the central driver of the larger Justice League meta-story,” Tynion says. “Pitting the two of them together, is interesting because there are still a lot of the same pathos as Luthor versus Superman, but it's a different angle. We wanted the Legion of Doom to be the biggest villains in the DC Universe. That said, this issue reveals that there are still some secrets in the Legion of Doom and some players who Luthor might be using who we haven't seen just yet...as we move into the next year, we're going to see the ideological battle between the Justice League and the Legion of Doom spill out into the world around them.”
Justice League #8 arrives on September 19. We’ll have more from James Tynion IV about the book later this week!
DC is bringing back Martian Manhunter in a new solo series.
J’onn J’onzz, the heart and soul of the Justice League, both comics and animated, for years now. His absence, which was thankfully corrected by the DC meta-story corrected by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV's fantastic Justice League means we’re also going to get a chance to dig into his history, and this is one hell of a creative team to task with that tale.
Steve Orlando (Midnighter, Justice League of America) and Riley Rossmo (Deathbed, Dark Nights: The Batman Who Laughs) will be teaming up to dig deep into the Martian detective’s history on Mars and his arrival on Earth.
“Spider-Man let the burglar go. Bruce Wayne was too afraid to save his family. This book gives J’onn that moment, and that’s the keystone as to why this book will be, is, the Martian Manhunter story, because we finally know the why. Why he strives to be so good on Earth, why he has this journey,” Orlando told The Hollywood Reporter.
This is the third time in recent history that Orlando and Rossmo have worked together. The last two - the early Rebirth Batman family crossover, “Night of the Monster Men” and the DC/Dynamite crossover, Batman/The Shadow, were visually spectacular. Rossmo’s art is like if Skottie Young started out as a graffiti artist, and the opportunity to design the world of a culture of shapeshifters was too much to pass up.
“...What does a building look like for people who don’t really need furniture? It’s an abstract visual problem-solving thing that feels pretty unique.” he told THR.
Despite being one of the anchors of the CW’s Supergirl, J’onn hasn’t had his own solo series for almost three years now. That changes this December with the launch of this new 12-issue limited series. For more on J’onn, M’gann or those treacherous white martians, stick with Den of Geek!
Miles Morales gets a fresh start, so get ready for more of your favorite Brooklyn Spider-Man!
With Bendis gone to DC, his Marvel creations are starting to get picked up by new creative teams, many for the first time. The biggest and most prominent of those is Miles Morales, the Ultimate Spider-Man who not only survived the death of his corner of the multiverse, but actually saved the new one in the pages of Secret Wars. And he’s got a new solo book coming in December.
Saladin Ahmed (Black Bolt, Quicksilver: No Surrender) and Javier Garron (Death of X, Ant Man & The Wasp) pick up with Miles in Brooklyn, and they immediately put him into some traditional Spider-Man problems. “Spider-Man is, in his essential origins, a teenage hero. And Miles will be that Spider-Man: facing threats against the neighborhood rather than the multiverse,” Ahmed told Marvel. “Super Villains, yes, but also other threats that speak to our times. He'll be doing that while also trying to while dealing with bullies, assistant principals, and canceled teen dates.”
Ahmed, whose Black Bolt should be showing up on every Best Comics of 2018 list this side of The Comics Journal, got his start as a novelist with the extremely fun Throne of the Crescent Moon. Since his migration to comics, he’s been playing around in some of the weirder corners of the Marvel Universe with the aforementioned Inhumans tale, the dimension-hopping Exiles and the always baffling present status of the Maximoff twins in Quicksilver: No Surrender.
Garron is taking the grounded teenager aspect of Miles seriously. “Pichelli always kept Miles himself and the world around him cool, fresh, of the moment. The clothes and hairstyles, the art direction, the lighting and tone must steel feel very connected with the world we live in,” he told Marvel.
The first issue of Miles Morales: Spider-Man is due out on December 12th, just in time for the release of that incredible looking Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Miles-centric animated movie. For more on Miles, Peter, or a detailed scientific discussion of how Molecule Man was able to eat a three week old (plus a decade in stasis) McDonald’s hamburger, stick with Den of Geek!
We talked to the creator web comic Check, Please about fandom, adaptation, and what's next...
Check, Please — an endlessly delightful web comic about hockey, baking, and bros— is one of the most enthusiastic internet fandoms out there, and one that is only poised to grow. Previously, the comic has mainly been available to read on the internet, but the first hardcover volume of the Check, Please hits stores today.
#Check, Please!: #Hockey will cover Bitty's first two years at the fictional Samwell University. Here's the official synopsis:
Eric Bittle may be a former junior figure skating champion, vlogger extraordinaire, and very talented amateur pâtissier, but being a freshman on the Samwell University hockey team is a whole new challenge. It is nothing like co-ed club hockey back in Georgia! First of all? There’s checking (anything that hinders the player with posession of the puck, ranging from a stick check all the way to a physical sweep). And then, there is Jack—his very attractive but moody captain.
A collection of the first half, freshmen and sophmore year, of the megapopular webcomic series of the same name, Check, Please!: #Hockey is the first book of a hilarious and stirring two-volume coming-of-age story about hockey, bros, and trying to find yourself during the best four years of your life. This book ncludes updated art and a hilarious, curated selection of Bitty's beloved tweets.
Den of Geek talked to Ukazu last year about why she thinks Check, Please is so popular, whether she ever dream-casts an on-screen adaptation of the comic, and what is next for the talented storyteller/artist...
Den of Geek: Can you give a brief synopsis of what Check, Please is about for people who have yet to dive into the wonderful world of Check, Please?
Ngozi Ukazu:Check, Please is the story of Eric "Bitty" Bittle, a former figure skater who starts his freshman year as a member of Samwell University's men's ice hockey team.
Bitty is a vlogger who shares recipes on pie making, is several inches shorter than most of his teammates, and is deathly afraid of checking — which is when you get hit on the ice. It's also a story about Bitty falling in love with Jack Zimmermann, the team's stoic captain who has fallen from grace.
A lot of the narratives we have that challenge patriarchy/toxic masculinity focus on how it affects women and girls, but Check, Please is one of the few stories that seems to do the same by imagining a different, better future for men and boys outside of rigid gender roles and "norms." Why do you think it’s important to tell stories like this? Was this one of the driving forces in creating Check, Please?
In the beginning, Check, Please was simply a palate cleanser after I spent my senior semester at Yale writing a screenplay called Hardy.
Hardy followed a giant, super bro-y enforcer-type hockey player who falls in love with his best friend and struggles with internalized homophobia. With all of the newfound hockey knowledge I gained from researching, I still wanted to tell a story set in the world of hockey, but a bit more hopeful and silly.
While Hardy had a bittersweet ending, Check, Please is a story where Bitty has little victories each year. Maybe it wasn't a completely conscious effort, but we need more stories about critiquing the rigidity of gender norms that don't involve characters succumbing to these norms in tragedy.
It seems like you have a good idea of where the Check, Please story is going. How much of the Check, Please narrative is planned and how much surprises you? Have there been any major changes to your planned story along the way?
I planned out the major arcs of the comic before I had finished the first semester of "Year One." Still, characters can surprise me with their dialogue and sometimes jokes develop right as I'm drawing a page.
When I'm coming up with new characters like incoming freshmen or Jack's NHL team, I have vague ideas for that coalesce a year or so before the characters actually appear. Overall, the story has been hitting all of the major plot points that I drafted out.
You began creating Check, Please when you yourself were in school, getting your Masters. I think of the early 20s as such a transformative time. Has your perspective of Check, Please changed over the course of you writing/drawing it as you have changed/learned/grown?
Check, Please continues to be this love letter to the magic of friendship in undergrad, the excitement of college hockey, and how it feels to get a liberal arts education in the Northeast. It's a bit of a time capsule of my time at Yale.
As I've grown, my perspective on hockey culture at large has changed. Whiteness and masculinity are really unrelenting driving forces of that culture, and while Samwell hockey remains continuously progressive, the NHL and hockey has only changed a little since I first discovered the sport.
As someone who supports you on Patreon, I know how impressively prolific you are. What does your creation schedule/routine look like?
First of all, thank you so much! Comics and the blog posts that follow them take weeks to complete and, in between this main content, I'm usually sketching, working on books and merchandise, or writing for other projects.
I spend my mornings answering emails and running comic and non-comic errands, while I spend my afternoons and evenings drawing and writing. I usually wake up and go to sleep fairly early!
Do you think Kickstarter/Patreon model is where much of smaller-scale creation is heading? Do you think it’s possible to be a full-time creator working directly from fan support?
I'm a firm believer in creators pursuing their passions full-time, if they have free content and a large enough audience. Models like Kickstarter & Patreon are allowing niche and under-served audiences to directly support content that they can't get in bookstores or see on TV.
What has surprised you most about the response to Check, Please?
This is a story about really goofy bros and a boy who loves to bake pies. I had no idea it could also be a story that would make people cry, help people form new friendships, or [something] parents read with their teens.
Why do you think this story has come to mean so much to so many people?
Check, Please is a story about an uncertain, but sweet kid who enters a potentially threatening environment—and survives.
People want happy stories. They crave hope. And all of the goofiness and friendship and weird rules that these boys create as part of the culture of Samwell start to make the Samwell men's hockey team and the Haus feel a bit like Hogwarts.
Congratulations on the two-volume publishing deal! How did that happen — did you approach First Second Books or did they approach you? Are you nervous at all about Check, Please going out into the wider world after having spent so long in Internet Land?
Thank you! After the success of the Kickstarter, a number of publishers realized that Check, Please had potential to do well with a wider audience. But when First Second reached out, they were hands-down the most enthusiastic publisher with a team of authentic and thoughtful Check, Please fans. Check, Please is a story that started on the Internet, but I'm excited for people who don't normally peruse blogs to read it and discover the story!
Right now, there is a fair amount of tension between creators and their fans. I see you as a creator who respects her fans and has a healthy, conversational relationship with the fandom. Why do you think so many creators seem to have a problem with this? Do you have any advice for creators who struggle to connect with their fans?
I love the Check, Please fandom! And for whatever reason, readers in the fandom seem to enjoy the interactions they experience in Check, Please. The healthy relationship I have with the fandom took a lot of time to learn and did have its growing pains!
My biggest advice for creators is to leave fandom alone. Appreciate it, but don't try to control it. Similarly, readers should understand that headcanons might never be canon and the story and characters belong to the creator. End of story. The relationship starts to deteriorate when one party tries to control the other.
Would you be interested in seeing Check, Please adapted for the screen? (Because I would!) What does your dream scenario look like — i.e. TV series vs. film vs. web series? Do you ever think about dream casting?
Oh boy, it'd be so hard to do a live-action show. Is it possible cast anybody (a) with a butt as big as the fictional Jack Zimmermann's who (b) can also act? In a dream scenario, all of the actors would know how to skate, the actor who played Bitty would have a perfect Georgia accent, and it would feel more like an HBO comedy with pockets of drama.
But what about this—Check, Please as a radio show?
Have you been working on any other projects lately?
I'm working on a script for a softball story to be drawn by my pal Madeline Rupert. It's a story about a girl who goes to art school, loses her scholarship, and has to get her school's softball team to win one game of softball in order to get an athletic scholarship.
This story involves a ton of musings on art school, financial aid, and a different approach to telling a story about sports.
For so many people, Check, Please is the story that makes them happy. What are you a fan of right now?
Other than the NBA and podcasts like The Read, Bodega Boys, and My Brother, My Brother, and Me, I haven't been able to sink my teeth into any TV show or movie in a while.
But for a random list... I'm a big fan of Insecure, Spider-Man: Homecoming, anything Kevin Wada draws, Frank Ocean, and a ton of other podcasts. I guess a lot of my energy goes into creating things for other people to fan nowadays!
Tom King and Mitch Gerads, the Eisner Award-winning creators behind Mister Miracle, are bringing Professor Pyg back to the pages of Batman.
When the writer-artist dynamic duo of Tom King and Mitch Gerads isn't getting our blood pumping in Vertigo series like The Sheriff of Babylon or taking us on a trippy voyage through DC's cosmology in Mister Miracle, the team hangs out in Gotham City. This will be Gerad's fourth go-around on the Rebirth Batman title.
The issue, which arrives on Dec. 19, picks up after Batman's team up with the Penguin (yeah, that's actually happening!) and will see the return of the perverse Professor Pyg, a villain who first debuted in the twisted Batman #666 (July 2007) by Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert. That appropriately dark story stars Bruce Wayne's son, Damian, as a new Batman who's made a pact with the devil to protect Gotham City after an apocalyptic event that sends the planet plummeting into fire and brimstone. While Pyg's first appearance is brief, he later returns as a villain in Morrison's Batman and Robin series for a few twisted issues.
In those early issues, Pyg is portrayed as a depraved torturer and a pervert. In one issue, he even ties Robin to a chair and performs a sort of striptease for the Boy Wonder while holding the electric drill and buzz saw he plans to cut him up with. Then he vomits in front of everyone and...gets off on it? That's my interpretation, anyway. You never know with Morrison.
Professor Pyg has most recently appeared on Gotham season 4, played by Michael Cerveris (Fringe).
Here's the solicit for the upcoming Batman #61, which teases a weird and bloody return for the villain:
written by TOM KING
art and cover by MITCH GERADS
variant cover by FRANCESCO MATTINA
The Eisner-winning creative team behind MISTER MIRACLE is back together as artist Mitch Gerads rejoins the Bat team for a special issue! Professor Pyg is loose in Gotham, and you know that means things are going to get weird…and bloody.!
ON SALE 12.19.18
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES
FC | RATED T
King and Gerads first brought their trademark nine-panel storytelling to Batman in 2017 for a story titled "The Brave and the Mold," which saw the Dark Knight and Swamp Thing team up to solve a mystery. While it's just a standalone issue, it's easily one of the best stories in King's more than 50-issue run thus far. It's issue #23 if you want to hunt the book down.
The Den of Geek Book Club is a place to geek out about our favorite science fiction, fantasy, and horror books.
Featuring book giveaways and exclusive author interviews, this is a place to recommend, discuss, and obsess over the best current and classic fantasy, science fiction, and horror books. Join us in discussing our latest pick...
September/October: Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Victor Vale and Eli Ever were college friends who discovered the secret to extraordinary abilities together only to become enemies set on bringing the other down in this morally-complex tale of ambition, jealousy, and superpowers,
"There are no good men in this game," Schwab writes in Vicious, and it's true, proving that you don't need good guys to tell a compelling story and that you don't need to sacrifice empathy, feeling, or nuanced self-awareness when telling a tale of anti-heroes.
Schwab is one of the best writers of her generation and, if you have yet to pick up one of her many speculative fiction books, Vicious is a great place to start, not least of all because its sequel, Vengeful, is out on September 25th. (Schwab also recently released a middle grade novel called City of Ghosts that is perfect reading for the Halloween season.) You won't be disappointed.
Come discuss Vicious, Vengeful, and other speculative fiction picks over at the Den of Geek Book Club, and stay tuned for more Villains-related treats in the coming month! You can also enter to win our Villains giveaway, which includes copies of both Vicious and Vengeful, as well as some other exclusive merch.
August/September: European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman by Theodora Goss
In addition to have the coolest name this side of Space Unicorn Blues, European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman has a killer premise. The second book in the Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club series, European Travel follows Mary Jekyll, Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein, and Diana Hyde as they make their way into the heart of the Austro-Hungarian Empire into an attempt to save Lucinda Van Helsing.
In The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter, we were first introduced to these characters from the pages (or between the pages) of classic 19th-century literary canon. Author Theodora Goss wanted to give the female characters who were so often written as monsters from these stories a voice of their own. Mary Jekyll is our protagonist and, when we first meet her in The Alchemist's Daughter, she is struggling to find money to support herself and her household following the death of her mother.
When a series of murders seems to be connected to her late father, Dr. Jekyll, or perhaps to his mysterious assistant Mr. Hyde, Mary starts down a path of investigation alongside Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson that leads her to create her own found family of monstrous women.
Come discuss European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman and other speculative fiction picks over at the Den of Geek Book Club, and stay tuned for more Athena Society-related treats in the coming month! You can also enter to win a copy of European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman!
July/August: Heroine's Journey by Sarah Kuhn
The third book in Sarah Kuhn's ridiculously fun Heroine Complex series, Heroine's Journey follows Bea Tanaka, the younger sister of Heroine Complex protagonist Evie Tanaka. An aspiring twenty-something superheroine who just wants to stop being treated like a kid and be allowed to help save the Bay Area alongside Evie and Evie's superhero partner-best friend Aveda Jupiter, Bea has the power to influence other's emotions—also, sometimes, when she screams, she blows things up.
In the Heroine Complex world, Kuhn has created an alternate San Fran where a demon opened an Otherworld portal 13 years prior, setting into motion a series of events that led to the creation of other local portals through which demons can come into our world and the development of a human population with otherworldly powers of their own. Bea, Evie, and Aveda are three of those humans, and are part of a superhero team that would give the Scooby gang a run for its found family money.
You don't need to have read the previous two books in the series, centered around Evie and Aveda respectively, to enjoy this world. Kuhn has crafted a story filled with whip smart dialogue, complex female relationships, romance, silly yet dangerous demons, and Asian American superhero representation that works for the casual and more completist reader alike. Fair warning, though: If you go into this one blind, you will find yourself going back to read the other two installments. That's just the way the demon cupcake crumbles.
Come discuss Heroine's Journey and other speculative fiction picks over at the Den of Geek Book Club, and stay tuned for more Heroine's Journey-related treats in the coming month!
June/July: Brief Cases by Jim Butcher
Brief Cases, a collection of several of Butcher's excellent short stories and novellas from within the universe of Harry Dresden, is a delight for new and old Dresden Files fans alike. Centered around the theme of parenting, the stories in the collection range from a prequel set in the Old West to a Rashomon-style tale of Harry discovering a warlock at the zoo.
You can read our full review of Brief Cases here, or head over to the Den of Geek Book Club to discuss the book. We're also giving away a complete set of the Dresden Files books, if you're looking to add to your own collection. Find out how to enter here.
May/June Pick: Ship It by Britta Lundin
Riverdale is one of Den of Geek's favorite shows, so when we heard one of its writers was coming out with her debut novel, you better believe we put it on our must-read list.
Britta Lundin's Ship It is the story of a teen fanfiction writer, Claire, who is pulled into the behind-the-scenes world of her favorite TV show, and Forest, one of the show's male leads who understands absolutely nothing about fandom. Ship It is an exploration of fandom, queerness, TV creation, and love in its many forms. Read our full review here, then check out our podcast interview with Lundin.
Join the Ship It discussion over on the Den of Geek Book Club Goodreads page.
April/May Pick: The Power by Naomi Alderman
Imagine a world that completely flips the balance of power when it comes to gender. This is the setting for The Power, Naomi Alderman's 2016 science fiction novel set in a world in which women develop the ability to shoot electric jolts from their fingertips, leading to their dominance as a gender.
As Delia Harrington notes in a review for Den of Geek, The Power is a vital read for a time in which some falsely claim that women have stolen all of the power from men. President Obama named this one of this favorite books of 2017, and the book somehow feels even more relevant now than it did when it was published just two long years ago.
March/April Pick: Children of Blood & Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Children of Blood and Bone is the first book in the West African-inspired fantasy series Legacy of Orisha. The debut from 24-year-old Tomi Adeyemi made waves when it was bought by Macmillan for a reported seven-figure sum.
The story follows Zelie, a girl who lost her mother in the purge of magic executed by Orisha's totalitarian ruler, Saran. In the first book, Zelie sets out to restore magic to the land and take down Saran, with a little help from her friends: a giant lionaire, her older brother Tzain, and Princess Amari. Prince Inan, another protagonist in the book, pursues Zelie as she undergoes her quest, torn between his family and, you know, doing the right thing.
Children of Blood and Bone is a promising start to a new young adult fantasy series that is set to take the world by storm. Head over to our Den of Geek Book Club page to join the discussion!
February/March Pick: All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
All Our Wrong Todays is a time travel novel where the "wrong" timeline is our own. When protagonist Tom Barren travels back in time using his father's technology, he changes the world from a utopia where the problems of war, poverty, and under-ripe avocados have been solved, into, well, this one. By centering our timeline as the "wrong" one, author Elan Mastai subverts many of the classic time travel narrative trope, giving us a fresh science fiction novel for anyone who worries they're living in the darkest timeline.
January/February Pick: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor is a Hugo Award-winning novella about a young African woman who leaves her home on Earth for the first time to attend an intergalactic university on another planet. On the voyage, something goes terribly wrong, forcing Binti to rely on her mathematic skills and her culture to survive.
The Afrofuturist space adventure novella is unlike anything I have ever read, coming from one of the most exciting authors working in science fiction right now. The story continues in two follow-up novellas already published.
Kayti Burt serves as a staff editor covering books, TV, movies, and fan culture at Den of Geek. A long-term lover of all things science fiction and fantasy, she is an unabashed defender of the power of speculative storytelling and a proponent of sentimental TV. Read more of her work here or follow her on Twitter @kaytiburt.
We're giving away an awesome, limited-edition Villains book prize pack!
Den of Geek is hosting this giveaway in partnership with Tor Books.
V.E. Schwab is one of our favorite authors here at Den of Geek. From the Shades of Magicseries to spooky middle grade read City of Ghosts to her recent "In Search of Doors" speech delivered at the J.R.R. Tolkien Lecture on Fantasy Literature, we're just big Schwab fans.
Which is why we're so excited not only to announce that Vicious is our current Den of Geek Book Club read, but that we're hosting a Vicious and Vengeful Giveaway! The Villains giveaway not only includes copies of both books, but some other amazing exclusive merch: a “Hell, we could be heroes” hoodie, a Viciouspencil set, and a Vicious tote bag.
Entry in the giveaway is simple:
- Join the Den of Geek Book Club over on Goodreads.
- Comment in one of the Vicious/Vengeful discussion threads (and be sure to let us know it was the giveaway that sent you there!)
Unfortunately, only readers who reside in the United States qualify for this contest. Final entries will be accepted Tuesday, September 25th! One (1) winner will be drawn at random and contacted via Goodreads message. Good luck!
For those yet to read the clever, heartbreaking Villains series opener: Vicious is the story of two college roomates, Victor Vale and Eli Ever, who discover the secret to supernatural abilities lies in near death experiences. The discovery proves to be the very thing that splits them apart, turning them into ExtraOrdinary persons, sure, but also turning them against one another.
Sequel Vengeful checks back in with Victor, Eli, and the other characters we first met in Vicious, as well as introducing some new EO characters with their own ambitious goals to the world of Villains.
You can follow the #VillainsSeries hashtag on Twitter to enter giveaways for the Limited-Edition Vengeful prize pack!
Harley Quinn is messing with the DC Multiverse in Harley Quinn #50. We have the inside scoop.
It’s Harley Quinn’s world, we just live in it. Harley Quinn is everywhere. From movies to animation to video games to comics to cosplay, Harley Quinn rules the world of pop culture. As if that’s not enough, it’s almost time for Harley to celebrate the 50th issue of her comic book series.
Here to guide everyone’s favorite wackadoo siren through this milestone is writer Sam Humphries and an all-star team of artists. I mean, take a deep breath and check out this line up: Whilce Portacio, Babs Tarr, John McCrea, Scott Kolins, John Timms, Dan Jurgens, Tom Grummett, Brett Booth, Kelley Jones, and more. And with that who’s who of artists, you know this isn’t just any ‘ol Harley story.
Harley Quinn #50 is “Harley Saves the Universe!” and features just about every DC character you can imagine. We’re not kidding, in issue #50, Harley goes cosmic and must navigate the DC Multiverse to save her mom. Along the way, Humphries satirizes every DC icon, era, and genre as he celebrates this Harley milestone. It was our pleasure to sit down with Mister Humphries to discuss the fiftieth issue, his views on Quinn and her world, and his love of the entirety of the DC Universe.
Harley is certainly one of the most versatile of DC’s pantheon. What makes her fit any genre?
Great question! Issue 50 is a giant-sized answer. "HARLEY QUINN DESTROYS DC CONTINUITY!"
No one has EVER read a comic like this before. Nearly every art jam sequence in the issue illuminates what you're talking about, but Dan Jurgens' sequence in particular is a crystallization of this.
Harley can be true to herself in any situation. She doesn't feel like she has to hold her true self back. She can always be 100% Harley Quinn. Which makes her incredibly versatile. She can go anywhere, fight anyone, team up with anyone, and always be who she is. She can ping pong through any genre, any iconic story, any twist of continuity and, because she's always herself, we get to see all those things through her POV, we get to see it all in a new light.
And that's Ms. Quinn, thank you.
Speaking of genre, what led to Harley Quinn #50 becoming a big cosmic blowout rather than a Gotham-centric anniversary?
Gotham ain't big enough to contain Harleen the Queen. We had to destroy continuity itself to tell a Harley story worthy of a giant-sized anniversary art jam! And we had to get the biggest artists to draw it, too! Starting with Tremendous John Timms. He's been drawing Harley for awhile, but his work on the framing sequence of this issue is just outstanding. Some of his best work, especially with the colors of Alex Sinclair!
Harley Quinn#50 is more than a love letter to Harley; it’s a love letter to the DC Universe. It feels like you had some unscratched itches when it comes to certain DC characters and other DC genres.
We drove the DC Universe like a stolen car. I made a series of lists, I guess you could call them "wishlists." One was a LONG list of characters I wanted to write or include in some way. Some were obvious, like Wonder Woman. Some were not, like Waverider. Then I also had a list of genres I wanted to play with, everything from "pirate adventure" to "game show." And then the third list was classic DC stories/titles we could twist or build on, like The Death of Superman or The Sandman. Once I had those, I started playing mix and match until I had concepts I couldn't believe. I even had the Six Flags roller coaster The Riddler's Revenge in there, although it didn't make the cut.
Even though we're DESTROYING continuity, this is also a LOVE LETTER to continuity! No, not just a love letter, but a LOVE SONG, one of those slow funk jams from D'Angelo that you turn up when the lights go low. Continuity is such a weird, singular thing - what is REALLY at the core of continuity? What MATTERS about continuity? The amount of energy in the universe is constant. But every Wednesday, continuity keeps growing without end. HOW?? And finally, why do we love continuity so damn much? These are the questions at the center of Harley Quinn #50.
If only you could have been a fly on the wall during conversations with editors Alex Sinclair and Andrea Shea. You'd understand all the crazy ideas we built on to get to the final insane product of issue 50, a comic where DC continuity is deadzo. Every other page you're gonna say to yourself, "I can't f***ing believe they got away with that!"
Harley Quinn #50 is also an all-star jam session with a ton of top notch artists. Did you come up with the concepts of the issue first and then find an artist for each one or did you have the artists on board first and then tried to find story directions to match each artist’s strength?
All of the above. It was a really complicated process. We didn't just have an all-star line up of artists, we also had an all-star line up of editors in Alex and Andrea. They put in amazing work to corral everyone, keep the issue on schedule, and keep this wild-ass story straight.
Above everything else, I wanted three things: I wanted a mix of stylistically diverse artists, I wanted all the artists to have fun, and I wanted them to do something we've never seen them do before. And every single artist grabbed onto the crazy, anything goes spirit of this issue in a gigantic bear hug of love. The Easter Eggs alone will curl your toes! This whole issue is full of surprises.
Sometimes matching artists with concepts was a no-brainer...like, of course we're going to have Kelley Jones do some spooky, horror-inflected stuff. But he surprised me with the humor he put into it, he's a real stealth comedy artist! Sometimes it was a matter of playing to an artist's loves. I know Babs Tarr has a deep and unyielding love for shojo manga. So I created a sequence where she could let her inner shojo fan run wild. Sometimes it was a bit of personality match. John McCrea is a delight to talk to, a bit of a mischievous guy - I felt like a pirate adventure would suit him, you know? Like he might have been a pirate in a past life!
And other times, we just got lucky. Who knew Brett Booth is not just a dinosaur freak, but an astounding dinosaur artist? Well, Alex knew. But I didn't know when I came up with that sequence!
It's completely unlike any comic you've ever seen before. It's a writer's dream to be in a huddle with a group of artists like this. They all have my gratitude.
I really, really need to see your Adam Strange concept come to life on a monthly basis. I just think you should know that.
HA! Thank you. Yeah, Jon Davis-Hunt just did an incredible job on that, didn't he? I am so thrilled he's in this issue - I think The Wild Storm is the finest comic being published by DC right now. So I'm a fan, but I knew we're both WildStorm nerds, so I knew we'd find some common, creative ground together. I'd love to do more work with him, but Warren Ellis would figure out some way to poison me from orbit or something. No thank you!
Talk about the legacy of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti. This version of Harley by way of Little Annie Fanny has certainly found a lasting direction for the character.
Well, any milestone like issue 50 is an achievement. But I've been writing Harley for the past five issues, Amanda and Jimmy were writing her for the past FIVE YEARS. So the lion's share of the achievement belongs to them. I tried to pay tribute to Amanda and Jimmy's run by making it a spectacular art-jam issue (something they did a couple times) and by making it as wild and funny as I possibly could. It's a victory lap for them in absentia. Me? I'm just revving up the engines.
Were there any parodies that didn’t make it into the final issue? The Lobo by way of Gaiman was just brilliant.
Oh yeah. Tons. I've got lists of concepts and stories and characters and genres I was hoping to include. A lot of them were too difficult to pull off in two pages, or too obscure, or too hot, or too cold, or whatever. A lot of them sounded like a riot in my head, and then ended up falling flat on the page. So it goes. I'm going to keep the leftovers to myself for future use, but there's one I'll spill the beans on. I wanted to do a Three Musketeers-style sequence with Booster, Beetle, Guy Gardner, Martian Manhunter, Fire, and Ice. But that would have been too much historical research and detail to expect out of an artist for a two page gig. Luckily, Mirka Andolpho was game to include it as an Easter Egg on her pages!
So, the issue ends with a reveal of a very obscure Golden Age character. Why that character?
He's only appeared like six times since World War II. No, not in continuity-time. I mean, he's literally only been in a handful of published comics since the 1940s. I thought, let's shake him up, let him shine in 2018.
So why no Mister J in the final issue?
I've got a Harley/Joker story I really want to tell - a big one, a story that would rewrite the rules of their relationship. I pitched it to DC and they loved it, but for a lot of reasons the time isn't right. All good. You can't rush a story like that. One day...
Where is Harley going next?
After issue 50, she's gonna need a nap. But she's not gonna get one. In brief, here's what's coming up:
- Captain Triumph
- Minor Disasters
- Christmas with the Quinns
-THE SEVEN TRIALS OF HARLEY QUINN
To you, who is Harley Quinn?
HARLEY QUINN IS LIFE!!!
Harley Quinn #50 hits stores like an oversized mallet on Wednesday, September 19.
Batman #55 delivers a shocking cliffhanger that might point to a new status quo for Dick Grayson.
This Batman article contains spoilers.
Being left at the altar by Catwoman hasn't been easy for Batman and things are about to get even more difficult for the Dark Knight now that the deadly KGBeast has returned to Gotham. Yes, the Russian assassin that first terrorized the Caped Crusader in Batman #418 (March 1988) by the all-star creative team of Jim Starlin and Jim Aparo is back to hit Batman where it hurts: his family.
Following a series of more lighthearted adventures involving Condiment King and Crazy Quilt, this week's Batman #55 by Tom King and Tony S. Daniel begins like an ordinary night of patrolling the streets for the Dark Knight and Nightwing, who has made it his personal mission to cheer up his mentor after the wedding fiasco. Batman isn't really having any of his former ward's fun-filled antics, though. He just wants to brood in peace.
The story, which is titled "Beasts of Burden," alternates between the KGBeast's arrival in Gotham and Batman and Nightwing's battle with a new, mummy-themed villain, the Phantom Pharaoh. While the story could almost be mistaken for another standalone crime-fighting romp, King and Daniel quickly pull the rug from under ftheir readers as a shot rings out across Gotham...and connects with Dick Grayson's head!
The issue takes a very methodical approach to the supervillain, showing him first arriving at the airport, then acquiring a rifle (the issue makes a point to show just how easy it is for the villain to get one at a gun shop), going for some lunch, and then breaking into an apartment to get a perfect shot at the first Boy Wonder while the Dynamic Duo meets with Commissioner Gordon on the usual GCPD rooftop.
The last we see of Nightwing is the bullet impacting his head. We hear Gordon calling for medics as KGBeast packs up his rifle and exits the apartment, Dick's fate left unresolved. Has Nightwing met his maker at the hands of the Russian villain and the cruel Tom King?
Dick's probably not dead. We all know death isn't really a thing in modern comics, and with Grayson about to return to the small screen in the Titans TV series, it's even less likely that DC will shelve the character in the comics any time soon. Either way, we'll know for sure when Batman#56 hits comic shops on Oct. 3.
The Back to the Future manga would have been drawn by the artist of One-Punch Man, but sadly won't see the light of day.
Well this is dissapointing. After previously announcing earlier this year that Yuusuke Murata (One-Punch Man, Eyeshield 21) would be drawing a Back to the Future manga supervised byoriginal Back to the Future screenwriter Bob Gale, we've now learned (thanks to Anime News Network) it's been cancelled. Murata reported on twitter that rights issues couldn't be resolved for several elements that would have appeared in the manga.
It's a big shame, especially since the manga was going to be an adaption of the original movie but also include "story content not seen in the film."
Murata also posted a few pages from part of his uncompleted draft of the manga. We've also got images from the original announcment as well.
It's crushing this manga won't be seeing the light of day. The images above hint at a really interesting take on Back to the Future, including a monster truck Delorean! Not exactly sure how that would have factored into an adaption of the original series but hey, anything is possible. Especially in Manga. Hopefully those rights issues can be worked out because we'd love to see more of this unique entry into the Back to the Future franchise.
George R. R. Martin's musings on the Fantastic Four say a lot about his own writing.
While the young Fantastic Four were preparing to challenge the mighty Molecule Man in 1963, a teenage George R. R. Martin was busy writing a letter to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the book's creative team. Martin, who was destined to become the scribe of many great works of genre fiction, was just a boy from Bayonne, NJ who had fallen in love with Marvel superheroes -- the boldness of their stories, their relatable origins, and the audaciousness of their colorful get-ups, courtesy of geniuses like artists Kirby and Steve Ditko. And like many other youngsters growing up in the '60s, Martin had strong opinions about these characters.
His letter to Lee and Kirby, published in Fantastic Four #20 (1963), demonstrates a precocious and loquaicious eloquence that might even be a bit on the sarcastic side. You can decide. Either way, it's quite a piece of work for his first published piece.
Here's Martin talking about the letters himself:
The letter concerns Fantastic Four #17 (1963), in which the team defeats their archnemesis for what seems like the final time. Doctor Doom falls to his death, which must've been a shocking conclusion for readers of the time. Of course, Lee and Ditko would reveal two months later, in Amazing Spider-Man #5 that Doctor Doom had survived the fall from his airship via a secret jetpack.
If the letter is sincere, Martin expresses his admiration for the issue and the book in general as "the world's best mag!!!" Or if it's a gripe about the ridiculousness of Lee and Kirby's creations, it at least showcases his early mastery of sarcasm and his talent for being sardonic, even back then. For more examples of Martin's strong opinions, visit his LiveJournal.
Here's the letter, courtesy of the Marvel archives:
Martin talked to writer John Hodgman in public radio's The Sound of Young America about what made Lee and Kirby's characters unique and huge influences on his later work:
The Marvel comics that I was writing letters to were really revolutionary for the time. Stan Lee was doing some amazing work. Up until then, the dominant comic book had been the DC comics, which at that time were always very circular: Superman or Batman would have an adventure, and at the end of the adventure they would wind up exactly where they were, and then the next issue would follow the same pattern. Nothing ever changed for the DC characters.
The Marvel characters were constantly changing. Important things were happening. The lineup of the Avengers was constantly changing. People would quit and they would have fights and all of that, as opposed to DC, where everybody got along and it was all very nice, and of course all the heroes liked each other. None of this was happening. So really, Stan Lee introduced the whole concept of characterization [chuckles] to comic books, and conflict, and maybe even a touch of gray in some of the characters. And boy, looking back at it now, I can see that it probably was a bigger influence on my own work than I would have dreamed.
Looking back at the Fantastic Four's earliest adventures (and the stories of many of Lee and Kirby's other stellar creations, such as X-Men, The Avengers, Iron Man, Thor, and Hulk), you can see the tales that influenced Martin's work. The strange worlds of Martin's early science fiction short stories (take a look at his stellar debut collection, A Song for Lya), his focus on the exotic scenery and supernatural threats, undoubtedly stem from the interdimensional adventures of the Fantastic Four. A good first sign of Martin's White Walkers beyond the Wall can be found in his short story "With Morning Comes Mistfall," (published in Analogin 1973) in which tourists eye a misty valley full of killer wraiths from the safety of a castle. You can already imagine the Night's Watch.
Lee and Kirby's preoccupation with underdogs who are destined to reach their full potential, honorable men and heinous villains with human desires, made it into Martin's pages as well. Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, and Ramsay Bolton, for example, must all rise to the occasion of destiny. The men of very different beginnings journey to find their place in the world, much like the "freaks and mutants" that inhabited '60s Marvel comics.
At the forefront of Lee and Kirby's work is the family dynamic of books like Fantastic Four and The Avengers, stories in which we watch the world's greatest superheroes unite, fight, struggle, forgive, mourn, and grow together. Reed Richards, Johnny Storm, Susan Storm, and Ben Grimm were constantly in flux, teaming up to save the world, but also facing their own personal struggles. They're a highly dysfunctional team, petty at times, holding deeper grudges than others, and going through the stages of insult, anger, and forgiveness. But the constant was that they ultimately loved each other.
Family dominates Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, as the Seven Kingdoms are separated into houses. Even if we might consider the Starks heroes and the Lannisters villains, we feel for them on a family level. There's little more tragic than Cersei's love for her ill-fated children or Jon Snow's quest to live up to the name he was never given. This dynamic continues with the villainous Greyjoys and Boltons. And don't forget the Night's Watch, which might be most powerful example of family in the entire series: lost, cowardly, bad, and honorable men from all over the land coming together to protect the world from a common threat. If that doesn't scream Avengers to you, then I don't know what.
Perhaps more overtly, Martin learned from the work of Lee and Kirby that heroes, no matter how great, could fall. This is a lesson that the writer definitely hasn't forgotten while working on A Song of Ice and Fire.
Several "by gumbos" later, Martin wrote another letter, this time published in the pages of The Avengers in 1965. The second letter concerned The Avengers #9 and Fantastic Four#32, issues he hoped to "have mounted in bronze and set on a pedestal in the center of his living room."
Avengers #9 introduced a new member of the team: Wonder Man. The story, "The Coming of the...Wonder Man," was framed around the introduction of this strange man, who'd been tricked by the evil Baron Zemo into becoming a superhuman in exchange for his services in his plot to defeat the Avengers. In order to ensure Wonder Man's obedience, Zemo also altered his metabolism in such a way that he could die within a week unless treated regularly with an antidote (silly). But when the Avengers help Wonder Man find a cure, he turns on Zemo and sacrifices himself to save the team. The newest Avenger, gone in the same issue he arrived.
(I also have to quickly note that Wonder Man is from Paterson, NJ!)
In his interview for public radio, Martin described his deep appreciation for Wonder Man and his fate:
I liked Wonder Man. And you know why? [Laughs] Now it’s coming back to me vividly! Wonder Man dies in that story. He’s a brand new character, he’s introduced, and he dies. It was very heartwrenching. I liked the character — it was a tragic, doomed character. I guess I’ve responded to tragic, doomed characters ever since I was a high-school kid.
Of course, being comic books, Wonder Man didn’t stay dead for long. He came back a year or two later and had a long run for many, many decades. But the fact that he was introduced and joined the Avengers and died all in that one issue had a great impact on me when I was a high-school kid.
We've seen no shortage of "tragic, doomed characters" in Martin's work, and even one or two that have returned in posthumous form -- no doubt a little nod to comic book deaths. Fortunately for his countless powerful scenes, that has not been usually the case.
These letters allowed Martin to enjoy a sort of celebrity among comic book fandom. Other fans wrote him letters in reply, and he eventually began writing critical essays for comic fanzines, such as YMiR, Batwing, and Countdown. Martin later went on to write some stories for Star Studded Comics, a fanzine that published original fiction. One fan even offered to buy Martin a car at one point...
It's odd to think about your idols (and he has become one of mine) as fans themselves, but that's who Martin was and is still today, reaching the epitome of fandom by speaking to the comic book gods he worshipped and eventually putting what he'd learned to work to become a god himself. That might be the world's greatest story of all.
Justice League is bringing back Starman with some new wrinkles to his origin that have ramifications for DC Universe continuity.
Few characters define legacy in the DC Universe quite like Starman. Sure, there have been plenty of Flashes, various members of the JSA have passed their mantles down to younger heroes, and every now and then someone new puts on Bruce Wayne’s pointy cowl. But Starman has been a near constant presence for almost 80 years of DC history, although depending on which decade you’re looking at, you’re likely going to be looking at a different Starman.
While Justice League #8 once again puts the focus back on Lex Luthor and the Legion of Doom (which we discussed with writer James Tynion IV in more detail right here, it also continues the book’s tradition of adding new details to the DC Universe, and even subtly rewriting little pieces of DC continuity. It does this via the reintroduction of the Will Payton version of Starman.
The Will Payton Starman first appeared in 1988, launched in the pages of his own solo title by Roger Stern and Tom Lyle. The book ran for four years, and Will Payton vacated the title when he was apparently (but not actually) killed by Eclipso, and has languished in relative obscurity since. But Justice League #8 not only brings Will Payton into the current era of DC Comics, but also offers some subtle changes to his history and the nature of his powers. And it does it while paying loving tribute to his early stories.
“If you actually go back to the 1988 first issue of Starman, you'll see that some of those images in the first pages of Justice League#8 are actually based on the panels from the original,” James Tynion IV says. “That is the original design of the Stellaron-5 satellite that gave Will Payton his powers.”
The source of Payton’s powers in that original story, however, has changed. Originally just your typical cosmic radiation getting harnessed for various purposes (comics are awesome, everyone!), it was later revealed to be the energy essence of a previous Starman, Steve Ditko’s brilliant Prince Gavyn version of the character. With Justice League #8, the energy beam from the satellite is revealed as an attempt to harness the power of the Totality, the cosmic event that has been at the center of recent issues of the book.
“From the first page of Justice League #1, the idea that the Totality, as it made its journey to Earth from the Source Wall, flitted through every moment of time backwards and forwards,” Tynion says. “We're starting to see what exactly that means, and the ways that that mystery is built.”
The concept of the Totality moving through time is even more relevant here, as Justice League has now fixed Will Payton’s origin in the DC Universe of 1988, the time of his origin story’s initial publication. This has ramifications both for the Starman legacy and how certain facets of DC continuity function in the post-Rebirth era. The best way to describe this is how the Justice Society have always been associated with the DC of the 1940s and early 1950s, when the majority of their adventures were published. While older versions of them were later brought into modern continuity, other characters, such as Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, operate on a “sliding timeline” where their origin stories are always set roughly 20-30 years before currently published adventures, and they always exist alongside modern events.
“One thing that tends to happen in the evolution of DC continuity is there are characters who kind of pop up in a moment of continuity but then the mythology pulls away from them and starts focusing on new facets,” Tynion says. “The way I've always processed it is that once the mythology moves on, it's like the character is almost left in that era because they represent that era, and they don't necessarily become a part of the sliding timeline.”
Using this model for Starman is a natural evolution of how the various incarnations of the characters have been portrayed through the years. Ted Knight, the original Starman, was a Justice Society member, and it is generally accepted that his adventures took place between the early 1940s and mid-1950s. James Robinson’s essential Starman series established that one of the shorter-lived incarnations of the character, Mikaal Tomas, was essentially “fixed” in the 1970s, the decade when his initial adventure was published. Placing Will Payton in the era in which he was published, rather than as a contemporary of the current Justice League, feels like a continuation of that tradition. “We did want to sort of let the character embody the moment that he stood in,” Tynion says.
I couldn’t help but note that the Jack Knight Starman is a character who feels right at home in the mid-to-late 1990s when he was published. While Tynion is quick to point out that he isn’t “making any definitive statements about how DC continuity works,” he does have ideas about where the other Starmen and related characters throughout history fit in DC's timeline. We’ll have to wait a little longer for those answers, though.
Tying Will Payton’s origin into the Totality is going to fuel elements of the Justice League story over the next year. “I am a tremendous fan of the Starman mythology and the character,” Tynion says. “The power that's inside him is connected to the Totality in really interesting ways, and it will fuel a lot of mystery over the next year in Justice League. We are telling a huge story that stretches to every moment of DC continuity, and we have incredible mysteries. Starman is going to be key to all of that.”
Eddie Brock and his symbiote have been through so many adventures. Here's a Venom comics reading order for beginners.
On October 5, we are getting a Venom movie. Kind of crazy, right? At least this one won’t have any dorky dance sequences in it. Anyway, if you want to read up on Venom before he hits the big screen again, it’s a bit of a tall order because there’s been a handful of different guys under the black goo and many comics with his name on the cover. Luckily, we have a streamlined list of stuff to get you going.
Now, we’re going to focus on Eddie Brockstuff because that’s what Sony is doing. That said, if you’re interested in the Mac Gargan era, I highly recommend Dark Reign: The Sinister Spider-Man. If you want some Flash Thompson Venom action, read the Rick Remender run of the 2011 series. If you come across the 2003 Venom series by Daniel Way, run in the opposite direction unless you’re one of those people who gets their kicks from reading bad comics.
The origin story of Spider-Man’s black costume isn’t too imperative. It says something that every later retelling of that story had Peter Parker wanting to bite people’s faces off when the original take was, “Man, I sure am tired for some reason!”
It helps here that Eddie Brock wasn’t an established character before attacking Spider-Man as Venom. He offers a flashback during his first storyline to get us up to date and from there we get plenty of fighting with an interesting dynamic. Not only is Venom stronger than Spider-Man, but he’s invisible to his spider-sense and knows his identity, meaning that in order to even survive, Spider-Man has to think outside the box at every turn.
For these first couple of years, Venom gets increasingly interesting, especially in the ways Spider-Man has to deal with him. This culminates in the creation of Carnage, which not only means Spider-Man has to undo taking Venom off the table, but the two have to team up against the big, new villain.
In terms of trades, there are two ways to go about it. Spider-Man: Birth of Venom has all of his origin appearances and Carnage Classic has that initial story arc, but you aren’t going to get that cool fight on the island or the other early Venom appearances. They’re releasing a hardcover called Spider-Man vs. Venom Omnibus that will have pretty much every Venom appearance pre-Lethal Protector. It’s really expensive, but it’s an option.
THE ORIGINAL ANTI-HERO RUN
Amazing Spider-Man #374-375 is this great two-parter that temporarily wraps up the Spider-Man/Venom rivalry and sets the stage for Venom to spinoff with his own solo run. It’s just a shame that it’s part of the previously-mentioned omnibus and not part of the Venom: Lethal Protector trade. As a prologue with the same creative team, it really makes for a perfect companion piece.
Anyway, Venom movies to San Francisco for a while to get in his own adventures. Co-creator David Michelinie starts this off with Lethal Protector, where he builds up a new status quo with supporting characters, villains, a more sympathetic rewrite of Eddie’s backstory, and a new home where he guards an underground society of squatters. Afterwards, the series becomes a revolving door of creative teams with each writer essentially turning it into “Venom Team-Up.” Soon the whole San Francisco concept is dropped completely and he returns to New York City to make these crossovers easier to handle.
The whole thing is very mixed bag, but there’s some fun stuff in there. If anything, it shows that we really need more Venom/Morbius team-ups.
Eventually, Larry Hama starts penning the series and mostly remains on it until cancellation. That gives it some much-needed stability, even if we get some bizarre storylines like Venom and Carnage duking it out inside the internet and Venom and Wolverine flying through space inside a silver football.
What makes it all work is the take that Venom is a more sci-fi, yet honest Punisher. Frank Castle tends to be perfect in his behavior. Argue about his morals, but if the Punisher thinks a bunch of drug dealers need to die, he will succeed in only killing those drug dealers and not a single innocent civilian. Venom is the kind of guy who will mistakenly kill a guy he thinks is a drug dealer then move on with his life because at the end of the day, this is just an excuse for him to give into his violent impulses.
The true highlight of this run is when Len Kaminski and Ted Halsted do an arc called Venom: The Hunger. It’s easily one of the best Eddie Brock Venom stories, based on the idea of the symbiote leaving Eddie and Eddie deciding that it’s too dangerous to leave alive. Eddie proceeds to go full prep work in an attempt to kill the creature, only with the challenge that the two of them can see things from each other’s point of view.
Oh, and at one point, Venom kills some dudes while singing David Bowie. Sure.
CALLING OUT SICK
With his anti-hero series winding down, Venom goes back into straight-up villainy. The stories that come out of that are...not so good. More specifically, it’s Spider-Man writer Howard Mackie coming up with cool concepts but never following up on any of them. In other words, any given Mackie comic.
It isn’t until Paul Jenkins and Humberto Ramos’ Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 1: The Hunger that we get something worth reading. In this story, it’s retconned that Eddie Brock has been suffering from cancer since his very origin. The symbiote is the only thing keeping him alive and part of Eddie’s drive to kill Spider-Man comes from knowing that it prevents the costume from choosing the better host and leaving Eddie to die.
This leads to the events of Marvel Knights Spider-Man Vol. 2: Venomous by Mark Millar and Frank Cho. Eddie comes to terms with his situation and decides to auction off the Venom symbiote to the criminal underworld while giving the money to charity. This alters the status quo like crazy and separates Eddie and the symbiote for well over ten years.
Within the pages of Peter Parker Spider-Man: Back in Black, there’s a two-parter from the pages of Sensational Spider-Man called “The Last Temptation of Eddie Brock.” This Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa/Lee Weeks joint is about a withered Eddie discovering that he share the same hospital as a comatose Aunt May. With the "voice" of Venom constantly egging him on to kill the woman in order to get revenge on Parker, Eddie ends up on one hell of a crossroads.
REVERSAL OF FORTUNE
In the late 00s, a book came out called Venom: Dark Origin. Ignore that book. Not only is it not very good, but it was a story that made Eddie look like a total asshole, released in a time when Eddie was being reintroduced into Spider-Man comics as a decent guy.
This brings us to one of the cooler stretches of the character’s existence, the days of Anti-Venom. Dan Slott and John Romita Jr. give us Spider-Man: New Ways to Die. The cocktail of cancer and the symbiote remnants in Eddie’s bloodstream meet with the powers of Mr. Negative to create a new kind of organism that cures Eddie and turns him into a violent vigilante with the power to heal. While he has no intent on killing Spider-Man, unfortunately his very healing presence has a negative effect on Spider-Man’s powers and shuts them off when they’re near each other.
Anti-Venom gets his own miniseries in New Ways to Live, where he teams up with the Punisher during the days when Frank is hanging out with Jigsaw’s son and has access to a lot of villain tech. It’s a small dose of throwback to the 90s anti-hero stuff that really works, but man, three issues just isn’t enough.
Anti-Venom would make another appearance in Spider-Man: The Return of Anti-Venom, where we finally get some closure on the whole Mr. Negative storyline. Anti-Venom would then be written off via Spider-Island, but that’s not exactly high on the list of Venom stuff you should check out. He’s a minor supporting player for the most part and his role is more of a plot device to keep the game-changing healing powers away from the Marvel public.
I’M MY OWN GRANDPA
Back during the whole Venomousstoryline, a miniseries came out called Venom vs. Carnage. The Venom symbiote was such a hot potato at the time that the comic didn’t even make it apparent who was under the fangs and tongue. Anyway, the series introduced Toxin, the spawn of Carnage. Toxin got his own miniseries and then fell into obscurity around the early days of Bendis’ New Avengers.
Fast-forward to the Flash Thompson era of Venom. There’s a good guy Venom in existence, but he’s a far more respectable figure to the point that guys like Captain America respect him and allow him into the Avengers. Eddie Brock ends up the new Toxin host during Venom: The Savage Six and gets a return in Venom: Toxin with a Vengeance.
Honestly, while they’re fine stories, Eddie’s time as Toxin is little more than a footnote. He does have a supporting role in the Gerry Conway Carnageongoing series (featured in Carnage Vol. 1: The One That Got Away, Carnage Vol. 2: World Tour, and Carnage Vol. 3: What Dwells Beneath). In it, there’s a task force put together to capture Carnage and, ultimately, prevent him from unleashing some kind of religious, Lovecraftian apocalypse. Eddie doesn’t get to do too much, but his Toxin appearance is kicking rad and it does give us some closure on Toxin as a concept.
REUNITED AND WE FEEL SO GOOD
After two cancelled ongoings and a finished tenure as a Guardian of the Galaxy, Flash Thompson’s role as Venom host comes to a close. Mike Costa is given a new Venom book and it starts off with a new host in Lee Price. While the symbiote really wants to be a hero based on its time with Flash, Price is actually a terrible person and wants to use this newfound power to take over the criminal underworld.
This is all a roundabout way of bringing Eddie Brock back into the picture and giving us a new era of the original Venom. Through Venom Vol. 1: Homecoming, Venom Vol. 2: The Land Before Crime, and Venom Vol. 3: Lethal Protector – Blood in the Water, we see a modern attempt to retry the old anti-hero days. There’s even a subplot about Venom being the protector of an underground society, only this time it’s a bunch of dinosaur people.
To give Eddie a supporting cast, he ends up acting as muscle for Liz Allen’s organization Alchemax, in return for Dr. Steven trying to figure out why the symbiote has been acting so erratic lately.
There are two big crossover stories through this run. One is Amazing Spider-Man: Venom Inc, which is a big team-up between Spider-Man, Venom, Agent Anti-Venom (Flash), and Black Cat against Lee Price as the new symbiote criminal Maniac. It’s basically Peter Griffin’s Big Jaws, only with Venom.
The other crossover is Cullen Bunn’s Venomversesaga. As a cash-in answer to the Spider-Verseevent, there’s this multiversal war involving alternate universe Venom hosts and creatures called Poisons. Poisons are usually harmless creatures, but if they make physical contact with a symbiote and its host, it turns them into an even more powerful creature with the Poison in control and none of the usual weaknesses. So regular Venom has to join the war alongside Captain America Venom, Rocket Venom, Mary Jane Venom, and so on against Poison Thanos’ attempts to subjugate the multiverse.
For this one, the order is Edge of Venomverse, Venomverse, Venom & X-Men: Poison-X, and Venomized. Yeah, the X-Men Blue team gets heavily involved for the latter half of that. Mixing the symbiotes’ ability to see in all directions and Cyclops’ powers leads to some fun shit.
The main Venomseries then comes to an end with Venom Vol. 4: The Nativity. It has a strong ending that acts as a cliffhanger, but it’s apparent that it isn’t for the next writer to take on. Released concurrently with the newer Venomongoing is Mike Costa’s Venom: The First Host. This miniseries follows up on Costa’s run by introducing a Kree warrior who used the symbiote originally as a way to fight fire with fire against the shapeshifting Skrulls. Years later, this warrior ventures to Earth to get his weapon back and violence ensues.
GOD IS COMING
Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman give us Venom Vol. 1: Rex, a beautiful and darker direction for the character. Since Brian Michael Bendis threw the symbiote race’s origins out the window to come up with his own, Cates decides to retcon THAT origin as well and reveal a new big bad with Knull, God of Symbiotes. Through this book, Eddie discovers that there is much, much more to his costume than he ever knew, mainly in terms of Knull’s insane backstory.
Like, there’s a giant dragon made of symbiotes called the Grendel and it’s coming to wipe out Earth. Comics!
He also discovers that the government was using symbiotes since way back in Vietnam. This not only introduces new character Rex Strickland, but a one-shot spinoff called Web of Venom: Ve’Nam gives us a good look of where he came from.
And that’s all I heard about Venom and Eddie. Can’t tell you more ‘cause I told you already, and here we are waving Venom and Eddie goodbye.
Gavin Jasper writes for Den of Geek and feels that you should read All Access #1 for the sake of seeing Venom hand Superman his ass while boasting about the time he beat up the Juggernaut. Yeah, that was a thing. Read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @Gavin4L