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(showing articles 1 to 40 of 40)
(showing articles 1 to 40 of 40)

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    Batman: The Animated Series is finally getting the Blu-ray collection it deserves!

    News John Saavedra
    Jul 22, 2018

    It's amazing that Batman: The Animated Series, one of the most iconic superhero cartoons of our time, had yet to be collected on Blu-ray as of this weekend. That all changed during the show's 25th anniversary panel at New York Comic Con where it was announced that the series would be remastered for its long-awaited Blu-ray collection.

    The box set arrives on Oct. 16 and is the most comprehensive collection of that era of Batman cartoons to date. The Batman: The Animated Series Blu-ray release collects all 85 episodes of the original series as well as the 24 episodes of The New Batman Adventures. You'll also get the movies Mask of the Phantasm (arguably the best Batman movie ever made) and Batman and Mr. Freeze: Sub Zero. For the first time, all of these stories will be remastered in high definition 1080 p. (Mask of the Phantasm previously received the HD treatment). 

    This limited edition box set also comes with featurettes about the making of the show; Funko Pops of Batman, Joker, and Harley Quinn; and postcards depicting classic moments from the series. The collection will set you back $113, which is totally worth it to get the best Batman cartoon ever made in a modern format. 

    It's worth noting that if you're not really interested in spending so much money on the collection, you'll also be able to watch the remastered episodes on DC's upcoming streaming service, DC Universe, which will cost $7.99 a month. 

    Either way, this collection can't come soon enough. Until then, how about you check out our list of the best Batman: The Animated Series episodes ever produced?

    Read the Den of Geek SDCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine Here!


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    A Doom Patrol live-action TV series is coming to the DC Universe streaming service

    News John Saavedra
    Jul 30, 2018

    The weirdest team in all of comics is getting a live-action TV series, thanks to DC TV mastermind Greg Berlanti. The Doom Patrol, which is set to first be introduced on the upcoming Titans TV show, will spin off into its own series on the DC Universe digital service. Doom Patrolhas received a 13-episode, straight-to-series order.

    The cast includes Bruno Bichir as The Chief, April Bowlby as Elasti-Girl, Jake Michaels as Robotman, and Dwain Murphy as Negative Man. Diane Guerrero (Orange is the New Black) will play Crazy Jane "an unlikely hero suffering from the world’s most severe case of multiple personality disorder. Each of her 64 distinct personas manifest a different super power making Jane the Doom Patrol’s most powerful member…and also its most unstable." (via Deadline)

    Doom Patrol is written by Supernatural's Jeremy Carver, who will also exec produce with Berlanti and DC Entertainment president Geoff Johns. The series will begin production this year and debut in 2019.

    Here's the title card:

    According to the press release, Doom Patrol is a re-imagining of DC’s most beloved group of outcast superheroes: Robotman, Negative Man, Elasti-Girl and Crazy Jane, led by modern-day mad scientist Dr. Niles Caulder (The Chief). The Doom Patrol's members each suffered horrible accidents that gave them superhuman abilities — but also left them scarred and disfigured.

    Traumatized and downtrodden, the team found purpose through The Chief, who brought them together to investigate the weirdest phenomena in existence — and to protect Earth from what they find. Part support group, part superhero team, the Doom Patrol is a band of super-powered freaks who fight for a world that wants nothing to do with them.

    Picking up after the events of Titans, Doom Patrol will find these reluctant heroes in a place they never expected to be, called to action by none other than Cyborg, who comes to them with a mission hard to refuse, but with a warning that is hard to ignore: their lives will never, ever be the same. 

    It looks like the show will follow the same ethos from the original comics in that the Doom Patrol will take on a mission that's just too weird for the Justice League. The team was created by Arnold Drake, Bob Haney and Bruno Premiani.

    Wel'll keep you updated as we learn more!


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    In a media age defined by long-form narrative, Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling is one of our best storytellers.

    Feature Kayti Burt
    Jul 31, 2018

    When people talk about the great storytellers of the modern era, J.K. Rowling should always be included on the list. The narrative of her writing of the Harry Potter series is one often defined by good luck, creativity, and — yes — a little bit of magic. However, that muse-centric, fairy tale structure is a lazy, simplistic way of talking about Rowling's skill with story. It takes away from the extreme intelligence, capacity for hard work, and storytelling genius that Rowling possesses.

    In honor of the author's birthday, let's talk about the elements of storytelling that the British author demonstrates such an impressive command of in the Harry Potter series. And let's think about how, in a media age increasingly defined by long-form, serialized storytelling, Rowling is one of the very best...

    Story structure in Harry Potter...

    Rowling's true genius lies not in prose, but in story structure, which is perhaps why the books have translated so well into film form. Even when you take away Rowling's signature wit, the story itself can stand on its own in any medium. (We're looking at you, too, The Cursed Child.) 

    Pictured above is one of Rowling's many notes for the crafting of plot in Harry Potter. This specific spreadsheet is from the outlining of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth book in the series, and includes separate columns for most of the book's major subplots, including: what's happening in the main "prophecy" plot, what's happening with Cho and Ginny, what's happening with the Order of the Phoenix, what's happening with the unraveling of the Snape/James Potter backstory, what's happening with Dumbledore's army, what's happening with Hagrid/Grawp, etc.

    Read the latest Den of Geek Special Edition Magazine Here!

    Sure, this is typical authorial outlining stuff, but anyone who has read the Harry Potter series can explain to you how Rowling started foreshadowing the end of the series from the very beginning, especially picking up in The Chamber of Secrets. The Horcruxes were always integral to the story, hidden in plain plot sight — one example of the many narrative subthreads developed throughout the series and throughout each book. This development was rarely done in a heavy-handed way, which made the eventual reveals in The Deathy Hallows that much more rewarding.

    For example, Harry spots The Vanishing Cabinet that Draco Malfoy would later use to get the Death Eaters into Hogwarts in The Half-Blood Prince way back in The Chamber of Secrets when he ends up in Knockturn Alley's Borgin and Burkes. In Prisoner of Azkaban, Professor Trelawney "reads" that Harry is born in mid-winter, even though his birthday is in July. As we later find out, she is actually seeing Lord Voldemort's birth in Harry, a sign of his Horcruxian tie to the Dark Lord.

    The examples go on: Dumbledore tangentially mentions his brother Aberforth in one of the early books. We "meet" the Grey Lady in book one, only to learn about her importance to the founding of Hogwarts and the destruction of the Horcruxes in the seventh books. We could sit here listing the detail-payoff patterns in this series all day.

    The fact that these narrative crumbs were spread over not just a trilogy, but seven books, is particularly impressive. The amount of forethought and adherence to planning that Rowling demonstrates in pulling off this series is mindboggling in its focus. Pair that with the patience it took to introduce extremely relevant plot points early on in the series, and have that greater relevance revealed later on, and genius of Rowling's plotting starts to take shape.

    Characterization in Harry Potter...

    Plotting is important, but the Harry Potter series would not be what it is without Rowling's command of characterization. The author creates a rich interpersonal world within the wizarding community that is so important in exploring the coming-of-age story's main themes of love, family, and loss. We care if Harry defeats the Dark Lord because we care about these characters. It's a simple narrative necessity, one that demonstrates emotional intelligence, but a skill that far too many storytellers don't actually have.

    For me, one of the best examples of characterization in the Harry Potter series is Ron Weasley. Rowling's skill in articulating character is so well demonstrated with Ron because he is the character that is generally characterized the poorest when other writers take him on. In the movies (and, to a lesser extent, in The Cursed Child, too), Ron is too-often flattened for comic relief. We lose the rich texture of this character, the way his struggle to get out of the shadow of his many brothers and, now, Harry, is balanced by his intense goodness and loyalty to the ones he loves. 

    Ron isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination. He's not great at expressing his feelings and he is often petty and stubborn when he is feeling slighted (e.g. his fight with Hermione in Prisoner of Azkaban or his fight with Harry in Goblet of Fire.) But he would do anything for his friends, and matures an immense amount over the course of the series, while still maintaining his distinct Ron-ness. When we meet Ron, he is a bumbling, yet good-natured kid who has some outdated views of a world he is very much still trying to figure out. By the end of the series, he is destroying Horcruxes and worrying about house elves, even whilst still occasionally succombing to his jealous, insecure side. 

    From the book's main protagonist to the seemingly most minor of supporting characters, Rowling has a gift for creating immediately distinct, relatable characters. Mrs. Dursley is a nosy gossip. Hermione Granger is a socially-awkward brain. Remus Lupin is a weary and mysterious, yet trustworthy authority figure. And, as with Rowling's plotting, these characters have arcs within the individual books and the series as a whole. We understand how they exist within the wider community, how they are seen by those who are closest to them and by those who only know their family name. 

    More than that, the steady adherence to characterization exists not only in the individual character arcs, but in the relationships between characters. We understand why characters do everything they do — and that's down to consistent characterization and the carefully-constructed relationships between characters. ("'Always,' said Snape.")  

    World-building in Harry Potter...

    You can't talk about J.K. Rowling as a storyteller without discussing her skill for worldbuilding. Rowling's ability to create a just-out-of-sight magical world with its own system of lived-in logic may be the most impressive thing about the Harry Potter series. Rowling created an entire subculture, complete with economy, government, media, sports, history, lore, educational system, etc. Sure, it is very much based on the British social order, but it still exists as its own vividly-realized world.

    As the Harry Potter For Writers website points out, Harry's first introduction to the wizarding world doesn't happen at Hogwarts, but rather at Diagon Alley where he visits the Leaky Cauldron, Ollivanders, Gringotts, and a slew of other shops. It is a mini-tour of the wizarding world, both for Harry and for the reader. We learn about wizarding money, customs, and the trappings of how Hogwarts works through the purchasing of Harry's school supplies.

    This worldbuilding extends to Hogwarts in The Sorceror's Stone, then to the larger wizarding world with The Goblet of Fire's Qudditch World Cup and Triwizard Tournament and, eventually, Hermione and Harry's tour of wizarding England in The Deathy Hallows. 

    Rowling slowly broadens the scope of this world from The Sorceror's Stone onward, weaving setting and wizarding culture. However, its depth is apparent from day one. Like any good writer, Rowling exudes confidence in her writing, a promise that she knows where she is going, that every detail has meaning and value, that this narrative journey won't end in disappointing, disatisfying chaos. She doesn't break that promise. 

    The difficult importance of an ending...

    It's hard to end a story in a satisfying way — especially a story that takes place over the course of seven books. You can't just hope for the best. An ending needs to have its roots in the beginning. It needs to be present in everything that has come before. It needs to be a truth illuminated in the final moments, but a truth that has somehow been there all along. 

    Epilogues and canon-extending plays aside, Rowling sticks the landing of the Harry Potter series, and she does it in an unexpectedly bold way by sending the Golden Trio away from Hogwarts to go on a dark, depressing adventure that not only calls into question the strength of their own relationships with one another, but the motivations of Dumbledore, a character that — up until this series-ending book — had been painted as a somewhat uncomplicated trustworthy mentor.

    These challenging choices prove just how sure of her narrative Rowling was from the very beginning. She always knew where she was going, famously writing out the last chapter and keeping it hidden away in a safety deposit box, and it shows in the ending. If an ending needs to be informed by everything that has come before, then The Deathly Hallows is a parade of the Harry Potter series greatest hits, but a parade that never feels like a tired retreading of what has come before. 

    If many of the questions, characters, and settings are the same, they are maturing and deepening in necessary ways. Can love conquer evil? What does it mean to grow up divorced from your past and identity? Do the ones we love ever really leave us? The answers get more complicated, their potential relevance more immediately dire, in The Deathly Hallows. 

    But Rowling never lets the narrative heavy-lifting show. She makes the moving and fitting together of the many, intricate moving parts of this story look simple, doing so much work through her plotting, characterization, and worldbuilding that we never doubt for a second that she knows what she's talking about, that this world — and its meaning — is real in some sense of the word. In the way that any fiction is real: in the expression of theme and the exploration of humanity.

    Dumbledore tells Harry at the end of The Deathly Hallows: "Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?" With Rowling, that master of narrative, moving us through this story, how could we ever believe otherwise?

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    For many, the true magic of the Potterverse lies not in its prose, but in the model of internet fandom it helped nurture.

    FeatureKayti Burt
    Jul 31, 2018

    In this second era of Harry Potter content, it can be hard to forget a time before the boy wizard and his magical world ruled the internet.

    Harry Potter and the internet are so inextricably intertwined. Star Trek fandom may have written many of the rules of modern slash fanfiction. The X-Files fandom gave us the term "shipping." But it was the Harry Potter fandom that defined much of the community-based internet fandom culture we know and (mostly) love today.

    As Harry Potter fandom continues to struggle, shape, and define how we engage with the most popular stories in the world, and with the other people who love them, let's take a look back at th fandom that helped shaped how we use the internet today...

    (Image above via Dorkly.)

    Harry Potter and The Birth of the Internet

    The first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, was published in 1998 in the U.S., somewhere in the middle of the process that saw the internet graduating from a resource used mostly at universities and by privileged uber-nerds to mainstream use. By mid-1999, the internet was in a third of U.S. households. By 2001, it had reached the 50 percent mark.  

    Where was Harry Potter fandom in 2001? It was the year the first Harry Potter film was released. It was also one year into the so-called "Three-Year Summer," the longest stretch between the publishing of any two Harry Potter books (after The Goblet of Fire and before The Order of the Phoenix.)

    The Three-Year Summer is known within Harry Potter fandom as a period of intense creation, discussion, and collaboration. It was when the Potterverse really came into its own, and it was perfectly aligned with the spread of internet technology across the U.S.

    Read the latest Den of Geek Special Edition Magazine Here!

    So was Harry Potter just in the right place at the right time? Definitely, but that doesn't negate the strength of J.K. Rowling's characters, plot structure, and world-building. It also doesn't negate the serialized nature of the Harry Potter story, a feature that Francesca Coppa argues made Harry Potter perfect fodder for fandom. In The Fanfiction Studies Reader, Coppa writes:

    Harry Potter comes to us as the embodied protagonist of a series of stories that retell Harry's adventures during a series of school years ... The ongoing series of novels was then made into an ongoing series of films. In all these ways, the Harry Potter books resist the status of 'finished literary text' made up of particular words in a particular order, and instead construct themselves as the open-ended inspiration for future performative supplements that will allow its audience to reconstitute itself on a regular basis.

    The stage was set.

    Harry Potter and The Fanfiction

    Fanfiction has always been a thing. From The Great Game to Wide Sargasso Sea to Spockanalia, fans have long been inspired to become creators in the fictional worlds they love. Fandom as we now know it today, however, is a more modern development. It has become much easier to create a community around fannish excitements since the development of mass media and, even more recently, the internet. 

    As we've already established, Harry Potter came around at a time when modern fandom was given its first chance to be. A huge part of this fannish revolution was in the writing, reading, and sharing of fanfiction. Websites like Fanfiction.net, FictionAlley, and LiveJournal gave Harry Potter fanfiction writers and readers a place to gather with like-minded fans, to find other people who enjoyed nerding out about and becoming creators within the world of their favorite story in a way that, previously, might have made you an outsider. The internet created accessible community in a way like never before. This was the first step toward mainstreaming fannish activities and behavior. 

    On September 4th, 1999, the first Harry Potter fanfiction story was uploaded onto Fanfiction.net. That same month, the Harry Potter for GrownUps mailing list is started. The following month, in October 1999, MuggleNet launches. Both were sites where fanfiction was shared and welcomed, though that was far from their only purpose. August 2000 saw Cassandra Clare (who would go on to write the wildly popular YA series The Mortal Instruments, source material for current Freeform TV series Shadowhunters) publish the first chapter of "The Draco Trilogy." The series would continue to be updated over the next six years and included almost one million words spanning three, novel-length stories. 

    For many young fans, fanfiction was (and is) more than a way of engaging in their favorite story; it is a way of better understanding the world and their own identities. It is a way of breaking outside the narrow boundaries of most canon culture and normalizing something other than the straight, white, male, financially-secure experience that dominates stories with corporate backing. Fanfiction is a way of saying: whoever you are, that's OK.

    It's not a secret that much of the fanfiction (though definitely not all) involves queer pairings. Slash fanfiction is the name for fanfiction written about two same-sex characters in a romantic and/or sexual pairing. The term "slash" refers to the "/" between the two characters in question and comes out of Star Trek fandom, specifically the Kirk/Spock relationship. 

    Jameson writes about the influence of megafandoms like Harry Potter and Twilight on the sexual education of younger generations in her book Fic: Why Fanfiction is Taking Over the World, saying:

    Harry Potter slash helped shape and challenge attitudes toward sexual diversity among the generation that grew up reading it and arguing about it (a lot) online ... Where previous generations may have looked to parental porn stashes and the pages of Cosmopolitan, today's teens increasingly find such information in fanfiction.

    They write it in fanfiction — and in some version or another, they always have. They used to write it in notebooks, and now they write it and share it online. Like it or not, this has become normal and public, a part of growing up for millions. If Twilightand Harry Potter have taught us anything, it's that authorial intent has nothing to do with the afterlives of characters.

    The representation of queer characters has come a long way in the last 15 years, and I think it's fair to credit some of that progression to the mainstreaming of a fandom culture that has long been more comfortable with focusing on queer relationships.

    Intellectual property attorney, FictionAlley co-founder, and fanfiction writer Heidi Tandy writes about the early days of Harry Potter fandom in Fic, saying:

    A decade ago, I was slammed as immoral for letting teenagers discuss whether gay wizards even existed; in 2007, J.K. Rowling told us they did. Kids who were thirteen in 1999 and 2002 and 2004 are in their twenties now, and those who were college students then have kids of their own. If you told them that it was immoral to let thirteen-year-olds read YA stories about gay teenage wizards, they would probably laugh and tell you it'd be immoral to ban them from reading those stories. Or anything else.

    Today, readers don't only have fanfiction for gay teen wizard stories. In 2015, Rainbow Rowell published Fangirl, a young adult novel about a college-aged girl and fanfiction writer. Her follow-up novel, Carry On, focuses on the Harry Potter-like characters first introduced as fanfiction characters in Fangirl. (Yes, Simon and Baz are teen wizards. And, yes, they fall in love.) 

    Carry On might not actually be fanfiction, but it does use many of fanfiction's most beloved tropes and serves similar functions, challenging, expanding, and dismantling many of the narrative constructs utilized in Harry Potter canon, most especially the "Chosen One" trope. 

    The story prioritizes interiority and emotionality, in a way that is much more common in fanfiction than it is in canon fiction, as Elizabeth Minkel explains in her Medium article "Harry Potter and the Sanctioned Follow-Up Work (or, Fanfiction vs. the Patriarchy)." 

    The privileging of character, of emotionality, of interiority, is par for the course in female-dominated transformative fandom, and pretty rare in the largely male-authored source works that rule the fan world, especially big-budget blockbuster franchises. It's at the heart of the shipping clashes between creators and fans, when creators throw up their hands and say "stop making this about romance and/or sex!!" Creators are making plot-oriented worlds first, then thinking about what the characters will do; female-dominated fandom is thinking about who the characters are, and in a given situation, what they feel. 

    Notably, an interest in interiority and emotionality are common traits in contemporary young adult fiction. One could make the argument that YA fiction partially gets this trait from the fanfiction tradition that many of its writers (and many of its readers) hail from.

    Harry Potter and The Powers That Be

    We've written a bit on Den of Geek about the ongoing tensions between sanctioned creaters and fandom. With the rise of social media, conversations between The Powers That Be and fandom are easier than ever. This means that it's easier than ever to give creators praise for and ask questions about the stories they've created, but it's also easier than ever to critique content directly to its creators, corporate backers, and rights-holders. Though this might seem like a more modern phenomenon, it has its foundations in the earliest years of internet fandom.

    When Harry Potter fandom first began, the legal definitions of "fair use" and "transformative works" had not been tested in this new pioneer of internet fandom. They would be. In 2000, Warner Bros. bought the merchandising rights to all things Harry Potter, aside from the books themselves. They began sending out cease-and-desist letters that were, in the words of Tandy, "Umbridge-esque threatening letters to teens around the world, insisting they hand over domain names that included terms from the Harry Potter series." 

    Tandy elaborates:

    What I, as a newcomer to online fandom, didn't know at the time was that a few fans who'd come to HP from other fandoms thought that the only proper response, if The Powers That Be asked you anything, was to shut down your site, pull down your fics and your discussions, and go away— maybe even change your online name, which definitely had no link to your real-world self. But how could you be a fan of a book that was premised on standing up to evil and saying no to overreaching by The Authorities, and just do that?

    Henry Jenkins writes about this period of fandom history, known as The Potter War, in Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. Jenkins tells the story of how Heather Lawver, the then-teenage fan who ran the website The Daily Prophet, launched the Defense Against the Dark Arts campaign, coordinating media outreach and activism against the studio with other Harry Potter fans and site-runners across the world. Lawver told Jenkins:

    Warner was very clever about who they attacked ... They attacked a whole bunch of kids in Poland. How much of a risk is that? They went after the 12 and 15 year olds with the rinky-dink sites. They underestimated how interconnected our fandom was. They underestimated the fact that we knew those kids in Poland and we knew the rinky dink sites and we cared about them.

    Warner Bros. wasn't prepared for the Harry Potter fandom to be so well-organized, or perhaps to be a community at all. Unlike fandom before the rise of the internet, these groups of fans could communicate and coordinate like never before.

    Fandom crossed boundaries of age, nation, language, and culture to push back against Warner Bros.'s campaign to keep this fictional universe firmly in the hands of The Powers That Be. And it worked. Diane Nelson, Warner Bros. Family Entertainment's senior vice president at the time, told Jenkins:

    We didn't know what we had on our hands early on in dealing with Harry Potter. We did what we would normally do in the protection of our intellectual property. as soon as we realized we were causing consternation to children or their parents, we stopped it ... [Now,] we are trying to balance the needs of other creative stakeholders, as well as the fans, as well as our own legal obligations, all within an arena which is new and changing and there are not clear precedents about how things should be interpreted or how they would be acted upon if they ever reached the courts.

    The reaction from internet fandoms of the time, including the ever-growing Harry Potter online fandom, shaped the rules for the current relationship between The Powers That Be and The Fans. If those Harry Potter fans had been less organized, who knows what the internet would look like today?

    Harry Potter and The Conclusion

    Books could be (and have been) written about the expansive Harry Potter fandom. From wizard rock to the Harry Potter Alliance to LeakyCon, the Harry Potter fandom is no one thing. It is massive and diverse. Fans participate for different reasons and in different ways and that makes it hard to come to any sweeping conclusions about its nature, purpose, or growth. However, it does seem safe to note its vital importance as one of the first major internet fandoms. A fandom that developed along with the internet and, in some small part, helped shape what it would become.

    For many, Harry Potter fandom is just as if not more powerful than Harry Potter canon itself. Any why wouldn't it be? Fandom involves millions of creators rather than just one. Of course it is richer than the book, stage play, and prequel movies that, by the broadest definition, include thousands of creators.

    Fandom is a conversation. Canon is a lecture — often times, an articulate one, but one-sided nonetheless. Or, if you'd prefer, the statement that starts the larger cultural discussion that, through fandom, more people than ever before are able to participate in.

    As Alanna Bennett touches on in her recent Buzzfeedpiece "The Harry Potter Fandom Is At A Crossroads," the current angst in the Harry Potter community is as much about seeing canon fall short of the infinity of fandom as it is about the lackluster quality of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. 

    "The Potter fandom has crafted a legacy of engagement and creativity that the series’ modern canonical efforts are struggling to live up to. For so many fans ... it can be hard to get hype about Cursed Child when they recognize in it so many of the tropes they explored themselves a decade ago — in content they created and championed."

    An entire generation of fans is being asked to reevaluate the presumed value of canon vs. fandom and coming up with an answer The Powers That Be might not like. The Harry Potter book series is often credited with getting an entire generation of kids to read, but, perhaps even more importantly, it gave an entire generation of nerds community-based fandom.

    In turn, Harry Potter fandom gave us (with the rise of the internet) the mainstreaming of nerd culture. It taught an entire generation of nerds that they are not alone and that they don't have to wait for The Powers That Be to write people who look, act, and feel like them into the stories they love. They can do it themselves.

    There is a nostalgia for these early days of Harry Potter fandom as much as there is a nostalgia for the Harry Potter books themselves, but I'm not sure how many people would want to go back to a time when fans' rights to act as creators in the stories that act as our modern myths were so uncertain. Not when, now, this community-based form of loving, challenging, and expanding the stories that make up our popular culture has become so normal.

    Harry Potter canon might be aging into something less relevant and more problematic than its earlier incarnations, but the modern fandom it helped create is more important than ever.


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    As we get ready for the Venom movie, we take a look back at the oddball moments in the alien-clad character's Marvel history.

    FeatureGavin Jasper
    Aug 1, 2018

    Ever since popping in during the late-80's, Venom has been popular enough to show up all over the place. He's been a vengeful supervillain and he's been a mentally-unhinged would-be superhero. He's been part of the Sinister Six and he's been part of the Secret Avengers. The costume has latched onto various hosts and three of them have been used as soldiers for the government. An inventive idea that's starred in more bad stories than good, the alien symbiote has found itself in a lot of crazy situations.

    With the Venom movie on the way, I thought I'd take some time to look through Venom's history and some of the more eyebrow-raising moments. Except for anything from Spider-Man 3 because my therapist tells me I'm not ready to talk about that yet.

    15. DR. DOOM'S ILL-DEFINED PLAN FOR WORLD DOMINATION

    Spider-Man: The Video Game (1991)

    The Spider-Man arcade game is fun to play, but good luck trying to make sense of the narrative. Having Black Cat accompany Spider-Man makes enough sense, but having Hawkeye and Namor as playable is just weird. At the end of the first level, you fight Venom. Once he's defeated, he's possessed by some mystical artifact and it enlarges him to about 25-feet-tall. After being beaten down to normal size again, he gives it another go and is once again wiped out. That appears to be the last you hear from him.

    Late in the game, you find out that Kingpin isn't the game's big villain after all. He's working under Dr. Doom, meaning a trip down to Latveria for the climax. You'd think that taking out Dr. Doom (twice, since the first is a Doombot) would be the finale, but no. Once Doom is taken out, he unleashes the TRUE final boss! An army of Venoms literally rain from the top of the screen and you have to fight them all off. How random.

    Coincidentally, Dr. Doom would unleash an army of symbiotes onto the populace in Bendis' Mighty Avengers many years later.

    14. ALL ARMS ON DECK

    Venom: The Madness (1993)

    Ann Nocenti and Kelley Jones did a 3-issue arc with an interesting hook. See, Spider-Man was joined with a sentient parasite and thought it was too insane to keep around. Eddie Brock didn't have that opinion and gladly became Venom. So what if you added a third creature to the mix that drove Venom so insane that Eddie had to put his foot down and get rid of it?

    After being stomped down on by Juggernaut to the point that he was inches from death, Venom was joined with a sentient virus made out of mercury. It healed him up and jacked up his strength, while at the same time giving him extra arms and tiny head sticking out of his neck because this is an Ann Nocenti comic. Unfortunately, Venom went a little too extreme and not in a good way. Like, he at one point attempted to rape his girlfriend because he was more impulsive than ever. It's seriously messed up.

    Luckily, Juggernaut showed up for round two to interrupt that and Madness Venom was able to hold his own against the unstoppable one. He didn't get a chance to finish Juggernaut off because he's whisked away to a realm of madness, where he was attacked by dark copies of Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Ghost Rider. Comics!

    13. SECRET SKELETON

    What If #114 (1998)

    The final issue of the 90's run of What If was a pretty cool one with a story based on Secret Wars. What if the Beyonder and Galactus killed each other and all the heroes and villains were stranded? 25 years later, we see a society where the survivors have paired up and reproduced. The main protagonists are the children of She-Hulk and Hawkeye, Wolverine and Storm, Human Torch and Wasp, Thor and Enchantress as well as Captain America and Rogue (try not to think too hard about how that one works). Remember, though, that this is based on the story where Spider-Man got his black costume. It's shown that he's still wearing it and with two and a half decades since its introduction, what could this mean?

    Late in the story, the heroes all swarm Dr. Doom's castle and in one panel, Spider-Man is hit with one of Klaw's sonic blasts. It reveals that all that's left of Peter Parker is a skeleton. The symbiote has been controlling his remains like a puppet for who knows how many years. Yet this doesn't even faze Human Torch, who saves him and lends him a quip, as if he's long accepted that his buddy is just a pile of bones controlled by talking spandex.

    12. ENDLESS FIRST IMPRESSIONS

    Various (1993-1998)

    This one isn't so much a "moment," but it's so deliciously 90's comics that I have to mention it. Back in that decade, Venom became popular enough to get his own run as an anti-hero in San Francisco...which then got him relocated to New York City because they needed those easy-to-write Spider-Man crossovers.

    Except...Marvel had a peculiar way of running Venom's ongoing. On one hand, it really was an ongoing series. It started in February of 1993 and the last issue was January of 1998. Sixty issues across five years without a single month being off. On the other hand, they didn't treat it that way. There was no Venom #7. Rather than streamline all the comics into one easy-to-follow series, Marvel turned every single story arc into its own miniseries. What's going to sell better, a comic with a random number attached, or a Venom comic with a big #1 on the cover?

    In the end, other than Venom #1-60, we got Venom: Lethal Protector #1-6Venom: Funeral Pyre #1-3Venom: The Madness #1-3Venom: The Mace #1-3Venom: The Enemy Within #1-3Venom: Nights of Vengeance #1-4Venom: Separation Anxiety #1-4Venom: Carnage Unleashed #1-4Venom: Sinner Takes All #1-5Venom: Along Came a Spider #1-4Venom: The Hunted #1-3Venom: The Hunger #1-4Venom: Tooth and Claw #1-3Venom: On Trial #1-3Venom: License to Kill #1-3Venom: Sign of the Boss #1-2 and Venom: Finale #1-3. All that and a bunch of specials mixed in there. I guess marketing trumps a coherent reading order.

    11. THE WAR IN FRANK CASTLE'S MIND

    What If #44 (1992)

    Kurt Busiek and Luke McDonnell collaborated for one hell of a comic in What If Venom Had Possessed the Punisher? Frank Castle stops into a church moments before Eddie Brock and because of this, he becomes the host for the symbiote. At first it helps him with his war on crime, but it begins to take over more and more and even tries to make him kill Spider-Man.

    It all comes to a head when the Punisher fights Spider-Man, Daredevil, and Moon Knight on a rooftop. Spider-Man hits him with a sonic blast and it allows Frank to wrest control for just a moment. He shoots the sonic cannon and goes into a vegetative state. Inside his head, we see a really sweet sequence of Frank in his Vietnam gear as he feels himself being stalked by the creature. He changes into his Punisher duds, screams that he's not afraid, and fights the creature head on.

    It's a completely badass scene, but the best part is still Moon Knight excitedly yelling that he's a creature of mysticism – AND THE MOON! Somehow saying that wins him the benefit of the doubt.

    10. HE'S A DEMON ON WHEELS

    Venom #36 (2013)

    Cullen Bunn really did try to make his Venom run work, but a lot of the time, things never really clicked. In the latter part of his run, Flash Thompson Venom hangs out in Philadelphia and hunts down any information he can on crime boss Lord Ogre. Some criminals drive off and escape him and he's a bit disappointed that he doesn't have a ride of his own. He sees the husk of an old car with the wheels stripped off and gets an idea.

    Existing for just one hell of a splash page, the Venom-Mobile shows that apparently the symbiote is able to work on machines too if the story calls for it. Either way, it's certainly a step up from the Spider-Mobile.

    9. DOG IN THE EYE

    Dark Reign: The Sinister Spider-Man #4 (2009)

    Brian Reed and Chris Bachalo's take on Mac Gargan Venom is a super fun read, telling the story of a horndog cannibal who's treated by the media as a great hero. Under the guise of Spider-Man of the Dark Avengers, Venom causes all sorts of trouble and makes a million enemies in his wake. The climax is at a big festival in the middle of Time Square. Norman Osborn gives Bullseye and Daken the orders to take Gargan out, since he's more trouble than he's worth. Since Bullseye can make any object into a lethal weapon, he chooses to use a tiny yapping dog.

    The dog doesn't kill Venom, but it does get lodged deep into his eye. Venom proceeds to fight off Bullseye, Daken, various gang members, and a group of half-eaten supervillains out for revenge...all while he has a dog in his eye. Once cooler heads prevail, he finally pops it out of his socket and discards the poor guy off into the distance.

    8. THE SINISTER SPIDER-HAM

    What The--?! #20 (1992)

    Spider-Ham was a creation of the 80's and his star wore out before Venom's introduction. The character was reprised in the early 90's as part of Marvel's parody comic What The--?! Issue #20 features a crossover between various regulars of the series in an adventure called the Infinity Wart. Forbush Man, Spider-Ham, Milk & Cookies, and Wolverina team up and face their evil selves. For Spider-Ham, it's an excuse to introduce his Venom counterpart, Pork Grind.

    Speaking like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pork Grind fights Spider-Ham and Milk & Cookies. He mostly manhandles them until Spider-Ham eats his spinach and punches him out. Coincidentally, this is not the last entry on the list to feature Austrian Venom.

    7. EDDIE BROCK: SISTER OF PAIN

    Venom: Sign of the Boss #1 (1997)

    Venom's 90's series became delightfully silly by the end, partially because they introduced a plot device where the symbiote was placated by eating chocolate. Believe it or not, there's actually a really well-written explanation for why the symbiote is calmed by chocolate, but that's neither here nor there. During the last couple story arcs, Venom is forced to work as an agent for the government or else they'll detonate the bomb in his chest. He's given an assignment to lay low in a church for some big speech on peace by a foreign leader. If anyone makes a move, Venom is to be alerted to spring into action and stop the assassination, but not a moment sooner.

    The symbiote is able to mimic any form of clothing and disguise Eddie in all sorts of ways. That makes it extra funny when of all disguises, Eddie wears a nun's habit and asks the choirboys to not sing quite as high-pitched as it gives him a bit of a headache. Some gun-carrying thugs take them hostage, but Venom has to wait until he gets clearance to reveal himself.

    Once he does, he violently murders the henchmen in front of the children, not realizing that he's traumatizing them into oblivion. Once finished, he tells them that violence is more of an adult thing and offers a chocolate bar to one of the kids. Because of course he has a candy bar on him. The boy is practically catatonic in fear, especially when Venom yells, "Come on! Take it!" Then Venom gets all huffy and offended, not understanding why he isn't being thanked.

    6. THE FRENCH KISS OF DEATH

    Venom #11 (2004)

    Daniel Way's Venom series from the mid-00's is really, really bad and should not be read ever. It's mean-spirited, overly-complicated, and has nothing resembling payoff whatsoever. It's also a comic where Venom himself – at least the Eddie Brock incarnation – doesn't show up until the 11th issue. You see, the symbiote terrorizing everyone all this time is a clone. #11 starts a three-issue story that explains the clone's origin.

    It has to do with a fight where Venom beats on Spider-Man until the Fantastic Four arrive to stop him. At first, Thing is able to overpower Venom, until Venom fights back by making out with him...TO THE DEATH.

    Venom shoving his tongue down Thing's throat is one of the grosser things I've seen in a comic, but it actually serves its narrative purpose. Human Torch burns the tongue off and Thing coughs it up. A bystander picks the tongue up, brings it home and tries to sell it on eBay. He's immediately made a target by an old man made out of nannites who is really the force behind Noah's Ark and—oh my God, I don't want to get into any more of the plot of this series. Moving on.

    5. THE MOLOTOV COCKTAIL OF AWESOME

    Venom #13.4 (2012)

    During the Rick Remender Venom series, Flash Thompson Venom starred in a crossover called The Circle of Four. It's quite a brilliant little concept that took me a minute to grasp. In the 90s, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hulk, and Ghost Rider teamed up to become the New Fantastic Four. Here we have a similar grouping with Venom, X-23, Red Hulk, and the female Ghost Rider that everyone's completely forgotten about five minutes after her series ended.

    The four join forces to help save Las Vegas from the clutches of Blackheart, who is trying to create Hell on Earth. With the exception of X-23, the team joins together to make their own special version of Captain Planet, only more soul-shatteringly badass. Riding a giant motorcycle is Red Hulk, who has become the host for both the Spirit of Vengeance and the Venom symbiote. This is the cliffhanger before the final issue and it still makes me smile. I'm surprised the final issue isn't Blackheart throwing his hands up and saying, "Yeah, this isn't worth it. Sorry for all the trouble I caused, everyone," and going back to Hell where it's safer.

    4. THE GROSSEST OF MATING HABITS

    What If: The Other (2007)

    The What If issue based on the Other tells the tale of Peter Parker refusing to break out of his cocoon and embrace his inner-spider. The world and his loved ones think he's dead, so he's going to keep it that way. The Venom symbiote senses that Peter's body is just sitting around, unused, and leaves Mac Gargan's body. It attaches itself to Peter's husk and is pretty pleased with being one with its original and favorite host once again. Peter has no consciousness to speak of, so the symbiote is completely running the show. Calling himself Poison, the creature confronts Mary Jane and wants her to be his mate. She tells him off and he leaves her be.

    With Mary Jane not an option, Poison goes for an even grosser route. He spawns a symbiote offspring and uses it to control the rotting dead body of Gwen Stacy. You can thank Peter David for this piece of alien necrophilia incest. You can also thank him for...

    3. THE NOT-READY-FOR-PRIME-TIME SMASHERS

    Incredible Hulk vs. Venom (1994)

    This is a comic released by Unicef that deals with Venom and Hulk fighting each other and then teaming up because a series of earthquakes are tearing apart San Francisco. A mad scientist calling himself Dr. Bad Vibes (not the villain from the C.O.P.S. cartoon, I checked) insists that he's been causing the earthquakes with his earthquake machine. Hulk has the mind of one of the world's greatest scientists and Venom is an accomplished journalist. Truly, they can put their minds together and figure out a great strategy in stopping Bad Vibes' reign of terror before it's too late.

    Their plan is to quote Saturday Night Live.

    Yes, they go into a news broadcast to do a Hans and Franz impression, complete with clapping. Honest to God, when I first read this scene, I had to put down the comic, get up, and just walk away because I simply could not deal with this.

    2. DIAL-UP M FOR MURDER

    Venom: Carnage Unleashed #4 (1995)

    Thing with the symbiote is that the writers can tack on nearly any kind of ability and you can buy it because it's a blob from outer space that gives people super strength and copies Spider-Man's powers. Turns a car into a monster car? Sure, why not? Makes you immune to noxious gas? I buy it. Makes it harder for psychics to gain control? Makes sense to me.

    Larry Hama created the most outlandish use of the symbiote's abilities with his Carnage Unleashed storyline. Carnage Unleashed – a story created based on the success of the Maximum Carnage video game – is about a Carnage-based video game that's become a big deal. It's about to be launched to the public with online multiplayer and Carnage's plan is to use this to his advantage and kill as many players as possible. How? By using his brand-new power of using the symbiote to travel through the internet!

    The comic keeps stacking on more and more instances of, "Computers do not work that way!" that escalates to the point that Venom and Carnage are fighting inside cyberspace and it's being broadcast on the big screen in Time Square. Coincidentally, people are able to hear their banter despite, you know, there being no audio on that big screen. Venom wins when he sees a heat sink and destroys it, which causes a huge explosion that hurts them both and knocks them out of their computers. It is the stupidest, most glorious goddamn thing.

    1. THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS

    All-Access #1 (1996)

    Ah, Access. For those of you who don't know or remember, Access was a superhero jointly owned by DC and Marvel whose job was to make sure that both worlds remained separate and don't bleed into each other. Considering they've been refusing to do a crossover since JLA/Avengers, it's been a pretty successful decade and a half. Way to go!

    Following the events of Marvel vs. DC, Access starred in his own miniseries based on keeping the peace via cosmic segregation. In the first issue, Venom finds himself in Metropolis and Ron Marz chooses to forget that Venom is supposed to be kind of a good guy around this time. Instead, Venom goes on a rampage until Superman and his post-resurrection mullet arrive. This should be a simple fight. Superman moves planets with his bare hands and Venom is just a stronger Spider-Man with a bucket full of weaknesses.

    Then Venom throws Superman around like a ragdoll. The two have several fights and each time, Venom absolutely humbles Superman, making him look like a complete joke. Access brings Spider-Man into the DC world to help fight Venom and even that isn't enough! Put Superman and Spider-Man together against one threat and he still kicks their asses.

    The only reason Venom loses is because Access shows up with a giant sonic cannon loaned from STAR Labs. Afterwards, Spider-Man tells Superman that Eddie Brock was never easy to get along with, what with him being a newspaper reporter. Then Spider-Man wonders why he's getting the silent glare.

    A great contrast to this story is the Spider-Man/Batman crossover from a year or so earlier. That comic features Batman beating Carnage in a straight-up fight. No sonics. No fire. Just lots of punches. Batman beat up Carnage, who regularly used to beat up Venom, who beat up Superman. Somewhere, a Batman fan is yelling at a Superman fan, "See?! I told you so!"

    Read the latest Den of Geek Special Edition Magazine Here!


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    We're tracking down every single Avengers: Infinity War easter egg and Marvel Comics reference, but we need your help!

    Feature Mike CecchiniJim DandyGavin Jasper
    Aug 1, 2018

    This article is full of MAJOR Avengers: Infinity War spoilers. If you haven't seen the movie yet, read our spoiler free review here.

    Well, it's finally here. The culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has arrived with Avengers: Infinity War, and as we all suspected, it's insane, and absolutely packed with everything fans want to see.

    But don't be fooled by the fact that this is a story about Thanos wielding an all-powerful Infinity Gauntlet to make life miserable for all your favorite Marvel superheroes. Avengers: Infinity War is full of crazy surprises, and all the comics knowledge in the world won't prepare you for what's coming. We're trying to track down all of the Marvel easter eggs in the movie...but we need your help. So if you spot something that we missed, shout it out down in the comments, or hit me up on Twitter, and we'll keep updating this until it's the most complete Marvel easter egg guide to Avengers: Infinity War around!

    Read the latest Den of Geek Special Edition Magazine Here!

    Now, let's get to work...

    The Infinity Gauntlet

    - The movie takes plenty of liberties with the original The Infinity Gauntlet comic story. In fact, you can't even really call this movie an adaptation of that story...and it's certainly not an adaptation of The Infinity War comic, either. But there are still some early similarities. But the fact that Thanos spends most of his time gathering the stones during the movie makes it more of a loose adaptation of The Thanos Quest by Jim Starlin and Ron Lim than anything else. But again, it's a pretty loose adaptation.

    - The Hulk falling to Earth from space and landing in Doctor Strange's Sanctum is reminiscent of something that happened early on in The Infinity Gauntlet comics, except there, it was the Silver Surfer who warned Strange of Thanos' coming, not Bruce Banner, right down to the "Thanos is coming."

    - Loki is dead. Most fans (including me) expected Loki to serve the kind of role that Mephisto did in The Infinity Gauntlet comics. There, Mephisto was kind of an obsequious "guide" for Thanos, and that's the word that Loki offers...before he tries (and fails) to betray Thanos. Well, if you've gotta go, this is the way to do it.

    But seriously, couldn't you just imagine Loki behaving like this for his own ends? Even the body language is the same!

    Also, Loki's attempted betrayal/stabbing of Thanos reminds me of Prince Thun trying to take out Ming the Merciless in Mike Hodges' masterful Flash Gordon movie.

    - Wong tells the origin of the Infinity Stones, which is kind of like the creation myth of the entire Marvel Universe when you think about it. Something very similar was done in the pages of The Thanos Quest, and they basically hint that these are fragments of God!

    (thanks to Dylan Bates for helping me out with that one!)

    - The weird reality-warping "deaths" that Thanos inflicts on Drax and Mantis is really reminiscent of the ways that Thanos tortured Eros, Nebula, and others in The Infinty Gauntlet comic.

    Thanos

    - In the comics, and certainly by The Infinity Gauntlet era, Thanos was known as the Mad Titan, and he was a pretty irrational dork most of the time. Thanos was in love with the cosmic physical manifestation of death, and this whole thing was a way for him to impress him. He's a really needy, giant purple MRA, basically.

    But here, Thanos is kind of rational, if still a dick. Here is obsession is with bringing balance to the universe to preserve resources, and his motives are almost like, I dunno, an extremely shitty environmentalist or something. If anything, his motivations here more resemble the character as he was portrayed in The Thanos Imperative comic than The Infinity Gauntlet.

    Thanos' armor and helmet bears the strongest resemblance to recent designs in the comics, as well as the design for Thane, his son's outfit in Infinity.

    - Gamora has "always hated" Thanos' weird throne/chair, which is pretty hilarious considering it was such an iconic part of the character's whole "thing" for so many years.

    - Have we seen Thanos' vaguely Ancient Egyptian looking guards before? They're the ones guarding Nebula while she's being tortured. What a cool design they have. I feel like maybe they were hanging around with Ronan in the first Guardians movie, but my brain is so fried from this movie I can't trust myself.

    - Thanos creepy army of Alien-looking drones are called Outriders, and they're also from the Infinity crossover.

    - Thanos' crack about how he could "finally rest" once he achieves his goal is a reference to the "Farmer Thanos" he became in the comics, and that we glimpse at the very end of this movie.

    - Thanos literally snaps his fingers to bring about the end of half of all life in the universe, which is exactly what he did in the first chapter of The Infinity Gauntlet comic. And that's what he did BEFORE the fighting started there!

    - In the closing credits, there's a line that reads “the producers would like to recognize Jim Starlin for his significant contribution to the film.” Saying Starlin made a "significant contribution" to this movie is an understatement. The vast majority of Thanos stories, and certainly the Thanos stories that matter, were written and often drawn by Jim Starlin. That's HIS character, just as surely as most of the others on screen are Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's.

    The Black Order

    We're introduced to Thanos' Black Order early on, and they first appeared in Jonathan Hickman's massive Thanos vs Avengers story, Infinity. In the comics, they were also known as the Cull Obsidian, and are basically Thanos' generals, but here it's implied that they are Thanos' children. We went into MUCH more detail about them right here.

    Check out the whole skeevy squad in the movie...

    From left to right, that's Proxima Midnight, Ebony Maw, Corvus Glaive, and Cull Obsidian. Your ears do not deceive you, that is Carrie Coon as Proxima Midnight.

    “Even in death you have become children of Thanos” - this line from Ebony Maw (who never shuts the hell up) hints at Thanos' obsession with death as a concept, even if the movie gives him a more practical outlook than his comic book counterpart, and a less physical manifestation of Death herself. We'll get into more of that in a bit. I also couldn't help but feel that Ebony Maw kind of acts like a "herald of Galactus" when it comes to announcing the coming of Thanos.

    But speaking of death...

    Heimdall is dead, and it's always going to be a shame that this franchise never used Idris Elba to the fullest. 

    Guardians of the Galaxy

    - The song playing during the Guardians' intro here is "Rubberband Man" by The Spinners, and it's kinda great. And as it turns out, James Gunn did indeed choose the tune. "The first song is James," co-writer Stephen McFeely told us. In fact, go read the whole interview with the writers because it's a riot.

    - The Guardians are flying a new ship. This ain't the Milano...it's the Benatar. And for real, nobody can tell me that "Invincible" isn't the best Pat Benatar song

    - Teen Groot is playing a handheld version of the 1981 arcade game, Defender, which is an all-time coin-op classic. This is the closest we're going to get to the Netflix Defenders on the big screen, though. We wrote lots more about Groot's favorite game right here.

    - Thanos calls on the Collector to pick up the reality stone from him. In The Thanos Quest comic, he does indeed kick the Collector's ass for a stone, but there it was for the soul stone, not reality.

    - This is a great catch (thanks to Andrew Gallo!), Thanos'"where is the stone" line to the Collector echoes Benicio del Toro's line in Snatch

    By the way...what is the tree in the Collector's place, there? It looks familiar, but I can't quite place it, and I feel like I'm going to look like an idiot as soon as one of you points it out to me.

    - The Collector for whatever reason owns Tobias Funke of Arrested Development fame (which is even confirmed in the end credits). Tobias is covered in blue paint, much like the episode of the show where he tried to join Blue Man Group. I don't even want to get into the can of worms with the continuity considering Tobias once put together a Fantastic Four musical.

    - As the Guardians are heading into the Collector's lair, there's some circuitry on the wall that kind of reminds me of the Jack Kirby-esque designs we saw so much of in Thor: Ragnarok.

    - The unnecessary reference to Footloose is a callback to the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, but also feels a little out of place with Spidey. It makes sense that Spidey would be down with things like Star Wars and Alien, but Footloose? C'mon. Nobody his age cares about that flick.

    - Drax is eating a bag of Zargnuts...which makes me think of Zagnut, the candy bar that Beetlejuice used to lure an insect to its death in Tim Burton's classic movie which had seriously better never have a sequel or reboot ever. Anyway, this is perhaps an unnecessary pop culture connection to make and I now apologize to Peter Parker about my Footloose crack above.

    Nebula

    - Worth pointing out that Nebula is Thanos' daughter in the MCU, but she's his granddaugher in the comics. His shitty treatment of her remains the same. Seriously, dude...lighten up.

    We see Nebula half-disassembled and held in stasis, in a state of constant agony. In the comics, Thanos used the power of the Gauntlet to burn her to a crisp and keep her in a state between living and dying. Zombie Nebula with flesh dripping off her skeleton might have been a bit of a stretch for PG-13 MCU stuff, but this is the closest we're likely to get to that. It's definitely inspired by the comics.

    Gamora

    - During the flashbacks detailing how he adopted Gamora, I'm pretty sure you can spot those giant Chitauri worm ship things from the first Avengers movie.

    - In the comics Gamora has always been a big fan of blades and edged weapons. I feel like we get the "origin" of that with the knife here.

    - Maybe Gamora knows ANOTHER secret about Thanos? For example, in the comics, Thanos always plants the seeds of his own defeat, because subconsciously he feels that he isn't worthy of power. Is this something Gamora knows? Well, knew...because she's dead. Right? Nah.

    - While Gamora's death is a powerful scene here, this is the one proper on-screen death that I don't expect to stick. James Gunn has plans to complete the team's story in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and I can't imagine Marvel would rob him of one of his most important and interesting characters.

    Don't be surprised if it turns out Gamora is just imprisoned in the soul stone. And seriously, how amazing is Zoe Saldana in this movie?

    Thor

    - This movie has the best Thor moments of any of his big screen appearances. And yes, I'm including the wonderful Thor: Ragnarok. The fact that they took us to Nidavelir, the home of the Norse Dwarves, and instead made it the heart of a star where Mjolnir was forged, well, that's a pretty wonderful way to do things.

    - Making Peter Dinklage into the dwarf, Eitri, was even better. The Marvel Comics version of Eitri isn't nearly as cool as Peter Dinklage, but he made his first appearance in Thor Annual #11 in 1983.

    - Is this the first time we learn Thor's actual age is 1500 years old?

    - The whole sequence of Thor "starting up a star" is the kind of crazy "only in comics" thing that I love so much, and it feels like something that would come right out of the mind of Jack Kirby or Jason Aaron.

    And c'mon, tell me this next shot doesn't look like a Jack Kirby panel come to life!

    Right? Anyway...

    - Oh my god, Thor is wielding Stormbreaker now! Stormbreaker wasn't ever really Thor's weapon in the mainstream comics, but rather that of Beta Ray Bill, the noble, horse-faced replacement Thor, who we kinda sorta got a glimpse of in Thor: Ragnarok. He did wield a hammer/ax just like it in the Ultimate continuity, though.

    Spider-Man

    - We get our first ever MCU use of Peter's Spider-sense in this movie when the ships arrive!

    - Peter swaps out his regular costume for Tony's "17A" model, which we glimpsed at the end of Spider-Man: Homecoming. This is the cinematic equivalent of the dreadful "Iron Spider" armor Peter wore in the Civil War comics, right down to the extra appendages it gives him. This design is a little better than the comic book one...but only a little. It's kinda hideous, really. 

    Go back to the blue and red, kid.

    - Spidey's line, “I’m being beamed up,” is a slight nod to Star Trek.

    - But more importantly, and please tell me whether or not I'm crazy here, does the Tony/Peter relationship and banter in this movie feel like Rick and Morty to anyone else? I didn't get that vibe in Captain America: Civil War or Spider-Man: Homecoming, but it definitely felt that way here.

    Except when Peter dies. That was heartbreaking.

    Nice to see Peter got the old "web to the face" in that he did on Thanos in The Infinity Gauntlet comic, too!

    The Stan Lee Cameo

    - You all spotted Stan Lee driving the bus, right? Good. Now, someone get Stan away from the skeevy vultures currently handling his affairs, please.

    The Avengers 4 Roster

    So maybe we shouldn't be surprised that the folks who survived are the core Avengers from the first movie. Our Avengers 4 roster will consist of Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Bruce Banner, Black Widow, Hawkeye (even though he's not here, we can confirm he isn't dead...more details here), plus War Machine, Rocket Raccoon, and Captain Marvel. The jury is out on whether Ant-Man makes an appearance, I think.

    I wrote more about what's next for the MCU in the leadup to Avengers 4 right here.

    The Post Credits Scene

    The post credits scenes kind of drive home the fact that the ending of Avengers: Infinity War is basically the beginning of the MCU version of The Infinity Gauntlet comic. In the second chapter of Infinity Gauntlet we saw how the world was affected when half of all humans just disappear, and yes, that includes car accidents, aviation mishaps, etc.

    That final symbol you see belongs to Captain Marvel, but since this article is long enough already, I wrote in much, much more detail about the post-credits scene and everything it means right here.

    Miscellaneous Cool Stuff

    - Did I hear this correctly, and is the Asgardian spaceship known as the Ice Guardian? I know they also say "Asgardian families" when sending the distress call, but I feel like this was how they identified the ship.

    - Overall, the opening to this was more akin to a Star Wars movie than anything Marvel usually does, just dropping us right into the jaws of a defeat with a seemingly unstoppable villain. Shades of A New Hope right off the bat...although some of the genuinely gruesome carnage with the dead bodies lying all over the place made me think of the end of Rogue One.

    - At the Central Park reservoir, before Tony is told that "the fate of the universe is at stake" (which is some proper comic book dialogue right there), he makes a reference to Pepper having an eccentric uncle named Morgan. I'm drawing a blank on what this might be a reference to, though.

    - You can basically just consider Cap's team the Secret Avengers in this. The lineup is similar enough!

    Cap taking on Thanos in hand-to-hand combat is amazing. Thanos is, after all, a guy who could go at it with Thor or Hulk and come out OK. But this in particular reminds us of a specific scene from the original Infinity Gauntletcomics...

    Cap is the best, you guys.

    - Tony calls Ebony Maw "Squidward" which is pretty great. I...don't have to tell you who Squidward is, right?

    - During the fights on the streets of NYC you can spot a New York Post newspaper dispenser. Still no sign of The Daily Bugle in the MCU. Seriously, what the hell? Although it's fun to point out that the layout and logo of the Bugle in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies was based heavily on the Post. I'm just surprised they used the Post here and not the Marvel Netflix-centric New York Bulletin. Apparently the producers considered having The Defenders make an appearance, but it just couldn't work out. It's probably for the best.

    -Xandar's destruction was a key plot point in Annihilation, the opening chapter of the greatest era of Marvel space stories ever. Maybe that's the jumping off point of the Nova movie rumored to be in development?

    - When Glave tries to take the Eye of Agamotto from Strange, his hand gets burned/branded, like Toht in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

    - Captain America's phone number appears to be 678-136-7092. I haven't called it yet. I'm not going to AND NEITHER SHOULD YOU because if I read that wrong on the screen some poor senior citizen is going to get bombarded with phone calls and it's going to be my fault.

    - I'm pretty sure that Vision and Scarlet Witch never lived in Scotland in the comics, but I'm willing to be corrected. Still, they're right on the verge of committing for life here, and assuming poor Vision manages to make a return at the end of Avengers 4, I'd love to see them get married, like they did in the comics.

    This is a pretty radical departure for Black Widow. It's actually referencing the second comics Black Widow, Yelena Belova, who was created in Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee's late '90s Inhumans series and ended up being an evil foil for Natasha.

    - Who the hell has a bass guitar in Avengers HQ? Please tell me that's Thor's.

    - The Alien tribute with Ebony Maw is an absolute highlight.

    - If Avengers movies had been made in the 1980s, wouldn't David Bowie have been the most perfect Vision ever? And I'm getting such Bowie vibes from Paul Bettany's Vision performance that now I want him to star in a Ziggy Stardust movie. Hollywood, call me. I'm waiting by the phone. Alone. Writing about the intersection of Marvel superheroes and David Bowie. For the love of gods, someone please call me...

    (ahem...ANYWAY)

    When Vision "dies" he's drained of color. While he isn't completely white like he was in the West Coast Avengers comic, there's definitely a resemblance.

    That look pretty much defined the character in the early to mid '90s, too...including in the still awesome Captain America and the Avengers arcade game.

    - When we're on Titan, and see the flashbacks to how it was before, are we basically seeing the seeds of Eternals society, there? They do have a movie in development, now.

    - Vormir (the location of the Soul Stone) is a "real" place in the comics, existing way the hell out in the Kree galaxy. It was first mentioned in Avengers #123 in 1974.

    - C'mon, admit it, NOBODY saw that Red Skull surprise coming, right? Sadly, that isn't Hugo Weaving, it's The Walking Dead's Ross Marquand. Bummer. On the bright side, maybe if we ever get a Captain America 4 this means the Skull can return!

    OK Avengers, it's time to assemble! Let us know what we missed down in the comments or on Twitter, and if it checks out, we'll update this!


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    Robert Venditti is ending his time steering the adventures of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, and taking the Hawkman challenge.

    FeatureMike Cecchini
    Aug 1, 2018

    Six years ago, Robert Venditti took on the unenviable task of following up Geoff Johns as writer of Green Lantern for DC. Johns had just wrapped up one of the most critically and commercially successful creative periods in the history of the character, one that was beloved by fans and expanded the boundaries of what was possible within the world of the Green Lantern Corps.

    But Venditti was up to the challenge, steering Hal Jordan's destiny for the remainder of DC's New 52 initiative, and the beginning of the Rebirth era, with the launch of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps in 2016. Venditti will finally leave the Corps with Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #50 in August, capping what has turned out to be a historic creative run on the character of his own.

    Of course, why make things easy? He has already relaunched Hawkman (with Bryan Hitch) for DC, a character who comes with challenges of his own. Despite being one of the most striking visuals in comics, trying to explain Hawkman to a non-comics reader has historically been a frustrating enterprise. But Venditti loves a challenge, and has crafted an accessible, even movie-ready version of the character.

    We sat down and spoke with the writer, who reflected on the past and looked to the future.

    Den of Geek: You have been writing Green Lantern for six years. That's one of the most impressive runs by a writer on Green Lantern in modern age. People don't usually stick around for that long.

    Robert Venditti: Yeah, Geoff Johns did a really good long run before me as well, but you're right. It is, I think, becoming less common for a writer or artist to stay on a book for an extended period of time whereas back in the '80s and '90s that was much more common, so I feel super fortunate to be able to do it. I did 85 issues over that time frame between the New 52 Green Lantern series and then when it relaunched as Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps for Rebirth. 51 issues of that, then there were some annuals in there too, so it's even a little bit more than 85. It feels a little bit compressed because the Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps stuff was twice a month so I did those 51 issues in just two years pretty much. I feel super fortunate to be on a character like that that long, to be able to hopefully put my own stamp on things and do something that was a little bit different than everybody else. I feel like it's a good time to go and to work on some other stuff.

    When you started, did you think you were going to be on this book for six years?

    No, it's like that with anything. Comics is a monthly business and I go into every project hoping I'll be on it for 12 issues and really hoping I'll be there for 24 and then after that it's all gravy. You just can't predict, since there's so many variables that come into play with a monthly book and I think what a lot of people don't really understand about being in comics and it's even harder for artists in that it's just that constant demand to generate content and every 28 days the book's gotta go to the printer and it's gotta be written penciled, inked, lettered, and colored.

    It's kinda relentless. It's always just the next thing coming up so, there's so many variables that come into play that can affect how long you're on a book and the things you do. To be able to start a project or be on Green Lantern this long or start something like Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps with the number one, the Rebirth issue, and then go all the way to where I wanted it to end and bring it to my own conclusion is not a common thing. I feel really fortunate about it.

    When did you start thinking about that end point for Green Lantern?

    It was a much more compressed schedule at launch because it was twice a month, so one lot faster and there's demands that are placed on you in that regard as well where at different times I was writing four different scripts for four different artists drawing four different stories all at the same time out of order because an artist will take 4, 5, 6 weeks to draw an issue and if it comes out every two weeks, you can see how that need to do issues and do story arcs and things are compressed and it speeds up.

    I started to get a sense around issue 25 that we had a good thing going on and what we were doing with the four key Lanterns that are in our book, Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Guy Gardner, and Kyle Rayner. They've never really shared the same book for that amount of time, and to see them interact with each other was different. I started to think, okay here's where I think I want to go long term with the stories, maybe around 50, but you really have to be like a speedboat. You have to be able to adjust because something like Metal will come in and they'll want to do some Metal tie in issues or things like that so you kinda have to adjust things around and be flexible in that regard. In some ways from the first issue, there are elements that this is what I want to develop and this is how I want to end it and other ways it was stuff that came in right around the end of the first year.

    Green Lantern has always been the spine of the cosmic DC universe. You had this whole wealth of concepts to work with. Does that make it easier or harder when you're trying to plan 12 issues or 24 issues in advance?

    For me, that's actually a lot of what the appeal was for me. There's so many books that DC publishes and so many of them are based on Earth. Here was an opportunity to do a character that's based out in space and you had this whole tapestry, and especially with Rebirth and its mission statement of embracing a lot of the legacy and a lot of the history of these characters and these concepts. Now you're out in space and there's just so much out there you can do and one of the things that I wanted to do was not really build a lot of new mythology for the character because Geoff Johns' run, which is gonna go down as one of the greatest runs in Green Lantern history, was very much a mythology building run and introduced a lot of different Corps and things like that. What I wanted to do was take the Green Lantern concept and blend it in with the wider cosmic DC universe in ways that we hadn't really seen before.

    I had the Green Lantern Corps go up against General Zod, who is traditionally a Superman villain. I had them interact with Brainiac and the whole Corps gets trapped inside of Brainiac's bottle and they had to get out. I brought in characters like Space Cabbie or Rip Hunter or things that you don't normally associate with Green Lantern. Why has Space Cabbie never been shown as an informant for the Green Lantern Corps? That makes total sense. He's a cabbie! Everybody talks in the back seat, forgets about the cab driver listening and then he knows what's going on and he tells Guy Gardner. Just try to bring in those concepts and weave them together and really embrace that wider cosmic tapestry. Of course the drawback of that is you're not on Earth and so you're not having those moments with Flash, or Superman, or Batman, or those personal relationships that Hal has with his brother and his nephew and niece or with Carol Ferris or any of those kinds of things.

    I just felt like it was a good opportunity to really explore the cosmic space and embrace that aspect of it which would be different from what a lot of what the other titles were doing.

    What would you like to see in a Green Lantern movie?

    A lot of the characters that I created. I would love that. That would be awesome. No, what would I like to see in a Green Lantern movie. I would like to see all four of these guys, which is nothing against Simon Baz or Jessica Cruz, I just don't really have any experience writing those characters. I concentrated on those four classic Lanterns, Hal, John, Guy, and Kyle and I would love to see them all in there. I think that one of the things I really want to do with the run, it's almost by decade. You have your Hal Jordan fans and you have your John Stewart fans, you have your Guy Gardner fans, you have your Kyle Rayner fans. I really wanted to show how these four characters, and how different they are even though they share very similar power set, how they get to that will power and how they use that power set is very different based on their personalities. As different as they are, how much love and respect they have for each other because of everything they've been through.

    I took to calling them The Four Corpsmen which is sort of a play on The Four Horsemen name. That bond that they had is really what I think I would want somebody to get out of the series more than anything else. If Hal Jordan likes Guy Gardner and you're a Hal Jordan fan, then you should like Guy Gardner too because they respect each other. I think there's so much interesting about each of them individually and they're stronger together.

    You went from having all this cosmic mythology to play with to dealing with the character who has possibility the most complicated backstory in all of DC comics with Hawkman. Can you tell everybody why they shouldn't be intimidated by Hawkman anymore?

    Actually that's a great question. I can do that. I don't come from comics. I started reading comics when I was in my mid to late 20s. Even just walking off the street back then and trying to find an entry point with any character, Spider-Man, Superman, whatever, was very daunting because of high issue numbers and you feel like you have to know all of this continuity. So continuity is something I'm very conscious of and making every issue new reader friendly.

    Everybody has holes in their game right? Nobody's the perfect writer. It's art, you're never going to have it all down, but I think that one thing that I do do well is I'm a good puzzle piece person and what I mean by that is you can dump a mix of things on a desk and I'll be able to figure out a way to make them all fit together, make a story, make sense of them. I like that aspect of monthly comics writing and having to do that on a monthly basis and having to do it on a quick turn around.

    Hawkman is like the ultimate puzzle. Not having grown up reading comics, all I knew about him was that he was just so confusing and it was just a morass of continuity. I started researching the character; within the first hour of me just doing very cursory research online, I came up with my idea of how I was gonna unify all of it. The more I read 200+ issues of Hawkman and Hawkman related stories, the more sense it made to me, so for me it's a very simple concept: Hawkman is a character who reincarnates across time and space.

    In past lives here on Earth, he has been an ancient Egyptian prince and a medieval knight, but he also at one point was a Kryptonian. He was a Thanagarian. He was Rannian. He's somebody who for ten thousand years, perhaps longer, has been reincarnated across time and space and in many ways he's the living historical document of the DC Universe.

    It's part Indiana Jones, because he's an archeologist who's exploring. It's part National Treasure because he's following this trail of clues throughout time to find out about his true past and find out about this great threat that's coming to destroy Earth that he's somehow connected to, but all the clues have been left by himself because as he was reincarnating over all these millennia, he started to forget. It's got a lot of high adventure, it has action. It's very new reader friendly which is something that I take great pride in with any character I work on. Hawkman, Green Lantern, whatever, because I was very much that new reader.

    Working with Bryan Hitch on the story has been amazing. He's such a great collaborator, obviously very skilled as a draftsman and as a storyteller, but just as a collaborator and the way that we're able to build these stories together and bounce ideas back and forth off each other and one person says A and the other person says B and together we come out with C. It's just we've got a really good thing going on. Every issue he's in a new location, unique to the DCU, makes a new discovery, and then goes to the next location and explores again and makes a new discovery and so we're really keeping that pace of new places, new discoveries, every issue. Don't be intimidated by it.

    If you are a reader who has liked Hawkman historically, whether it's the Thanagarian police officer version, or the reincarnating Egyptian prince version, it all counts now. They're all unified under one concept. We've got things that we're gonna do with those mythologies that we're gonna show you in a different way. How there were secrets buried within things this entire time you've been reading Hawkman you never knew about and you're gonna discover those secrets as Carter Hall discovers them himself. Or if you're a new reader who doesn't a single thing about Hawkman, you can pick this up and you can get high, high adventure in the style of the Indiana Jones of the DC Universe. 

    Robert Venditti's final issue on Green Lantern, Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #50, arrives on August 8. Hawkman ships monthly from DC Comics.

    Read the latest Den of Geek Special Edition Magazine Here!


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    Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil was supposed to get a deluxe reissue from DC, but...

    NewsMike Cecchini
    Aug 1, 2018

    With the Shazam movie opening in April 2019, it's time for DC to dig into their back catalog and give fans the best of what the character has to offer. And let's face it, the Shazam Family was never better than during the glory days of the 1940s, when steered by the likes of Otto Binder, C.C. Beck, Pete Costanza, and others. There's a fairytale simplicity to many of those early stories, and a level of craftsmanship that wasn't always present in many of their peers. 

    One story in particular, "The Monster Society of Evil" is a particular standout from the era. Serialized over two years (at a time when all superhero comics only contained multiple, self-contained stories), it told the story of Mr. Mind, the evil worm and his quest for world domination. It's often cited as a key Captain Marvel story, but it hasn't been officially reprinted in decades, making this particularly tough to track down. 

    Here's the official info from DC's solicitations (first revealed by the good folks at 13th Dimension):

    At first he was simply a disembodied voice on the radio, taunting Captain Marvel with his ever-more-fiendish schemes to conquer the world. Then, readers gasped as Mr. Mind was revealed—all two inches of him! Was this lowly creature really the epitome of evil he claimed to be? Fortunately, Billy Batson understood the folly of underestimating someone based on their size! As small as he was, Mr. Mind was big trouble—especially once he turned the menacing members of his Monster Society of Evil loose to wreak havoc!

    This new title collects the entire 24-chapter serial from the Golden Age of Comics with new essays by Fawcett Comics expert P.C. Hamerlinck and film producer and comics historian Michael Uslan. Collects stories from CAPTAIN MARVEL ADVENTURES #22-46! 

    Well, anyway, this was supposed to arrive in February 2019, and now DC has pulled the plug on the collection (via CBR). So why hasn't this seen the light of day? Well, a good chunk of that is almost certainly because of the use of offensive racial stereotypes that were unfortunately commonplace in comics of the era. You can find more specific details on why "The Monster Society of Evil" has been buried for so long here.

    It makes sense that DC wouldn't want to spotlight a story with seriously problematic elements two months before its Shazam movie hits theaters. While "The Monster Society of Evil" is a key Shazam story, and a piece of comic book history, the issues surrounding this story are bound to bring the wrong kind of attention at exactly the wrong time. The unfortunate attitudes of previous decades hasn't stopped Warner Bros. and other studios from placing disclaimers on old animated cartoons that featured similarly unacceptable racist caricatures, but perhaps DC simply isn't ready to navigate those waters, and it's tough to blame them.  

    DC has done an excellent job of making the back catalog of characters who are getting the TV or movie treatment readily available for fans. Hopefully they find other classic Shazam stories to reprint instead. I'm ready for a Shazam: The Golden Age tpb or omnibus, as those stories haven't been reprinted since the now defunct Archives editions.

    Meanwhile, the Shazam movie opens on April 5, 2019, and we're due for a new comic series from Geoff Johns this fall.

    Read the latest Den of Geek Special Edition Magazine Here!


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    Netflix has greenlit an adaptation of George Orwell's Soviet allegory Animal Farm with Andy Serkis directing.

    News Alec Bojalad
    Aug 1, 2018

    All Netflix movie adaptations are equal but some are more equal than others. 

    Netflix has purchased the movie rights to an adaptation of George Orwell's classic novel Animal Farm. Longtime successful CGI actor turned live-action actor and producer Andy Serkis will direct, according to Variety.

    Serkis has owned the rights to option Animal Farm since 2012 when he tried to adapt the novel as a TV show. That project fell through and now gains second life in the streaming world as a film. In addition to directing, Serkis will produce the movie alongside his Imaginarium partner Jonathan Cavendish and 6th & Idaho’s Matt Reeves, Rafi Crohn and Adam Kassan.

    Serkis came to prominence as a "CGI actor" in films like The Lord of the Rings and the modern Rise of the Planet of the Apes trilogy. We've been seeing his face a little more frequently in front of the camera recently with live-action starring roles in movies like Black Panther. Now he's ready to go incognito once again in his next career as a director. Netflix rescued Serkis' second ever directorial effort, Mowgli, from certain doom just five days ago and will release it next year.

    Read the latest Den of Geek Special Edition Magazine Here!

    Animal Farm is one of Orwell's two best-known works alongside Nineteen Eighty-Four and the themes of the two novels are similar. Animal Farm, published in 1945, takes place on a farm where animals essentially unionize and overthrow their human masters. The animals build their new utopian animal society on the principal that all animals are equal. They find out, however, that their new structure of power can't hold to those ideals. Yep, there are political purges featuring farm animal in this book.

    Animal Farm is an allegory for the Soviet Union under Stalin and roughly tracks Russian history from the Revolution in 1917 to Orwell's present time in the World War II era. The book is widely included in high school English curriculums across the world because it's hard to find a more slam-dunk example of allegory. Shouts out to all the high school kids out there who are soon going to have the option to watch a movie rather than reading the book.


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    Avengers: Infinity War makes Thanos look unbeatable. We look for the one chance Doctor Strange saw to defeat him in Avengers 4.

    Feature Gavin Jasper
    Aug 2, 2018

    Thanos the Mad Titan is kind of a big deal these days. A decade of Marvel Studios movies led to one starring him that painted him as being the king badass of bad guys. The opening five minutes of Avengers: Infinity War alone make him look like the toughest, most imposing threat to any and all superheroes. Not only is he a dangerous brick house of a purple man, but his adventures usually lead to him buffing up his power with Cosmic Cubes and Infinity Stones.

    How do you solve a problem like Thanos?

    Scouring his comic history, I’ve compiled a list of all the times Thanos has been taken down a peg. Maybe one of these is that "one in fourteen million chance" that Doctor Strange mentioned in the movie.

    Watch Avengers: Infinity War on Amazon

    You can either watch the video for the short version, or keep reading the full article for more details!

    THANOS WAR (1974)

    Thanos started off as a Dr. Claw-type of threat who was treated like a big deal, but never got his hands dirty. Like how in his first appearance, in an issue of Iron Man, Thanos’ “defeat” came in the form of a robot duplicate. He didn’t truly take a big L until possessing the Cosmic Cube and facing Mar-Vell.

    Using his newfound omnipotence, Thanos rid Earth of its population and discarded the Cosmic Cube by becoming a big, scary Neon Noodle face in the sky. Captain Marvel wasn’t much of a match for Thanos, especially in this form, but he realized that even if discarded, the Cosmic Cue was still the source of Thanos’ abilities. While Thanos tried to disorient Mar-Vell’s surroundings and even speed up his aging, the Captain was able to use his last ounce of strength to karate chop the Cosmic Cube, thereby seemingly killing Thanos and setting everything back to normal.

    DEATH WATCH (1977)

    Adam Warlock teamed up with the Avengers to go stop Thanos from blowing up the solar system. They all failed horribly and Warlock was killed; his soul winding up inside the Soul Stone with Gamora and Pip the Troll. Moondragon reached out and showed all this to the mind of a sleeping Peter Parker, who in turn went to Thing and said, “Yo, I had the weirdest dream. Want to help me save the world just in case?”

    While Thanos got huge villain points for refusing to monologue in front of the heroes at the cost of giving the heroes an advantage (in 1977, no less! Wow!), Spider-Man and Thing freed the heroes anyway. The Avengers and Thing jobbed out to Thanos something fierce, but Spider-Man was able to shatter open a special globe with the Soul Stone in there, releasing Adam Warlock in fiery ghost form. Warlock grabbed onto Thanos and transformed him into a statue, albeit one with the retained ability to cry.

    SPIDEY SUPER STORIES (1979)

    As mentioned in the list of weirdest Thanos moments, Thanos appeared in the all-ages 70s pile of ridiculousness that is Spidey Super Stories. This dorky take on Thanos chased the Cat (Hellcat) with a helicopter and later stole the Cosmic Cube from a teenage skateboarder named Speedy. Having the Cosmic Cube in hand, he seemed unstoppable to the Cat and Spider-Man.

    That is, until he created an earthquake, which not only affected his enemies, but also caused the Cosmic Cube to fall out of his hand. Spider-Man told him, “You were too tricky for your own good, Thanos!”

    Speedy picked up the Cosmic Cube, wrapped Thanos up in grass, and then the police led Thanos away in handcuffs. It’s one of those images that will never not be funny.

    INFINITY GAUNTLET (1991)

    The big event that inspired Avengers: Infinity War had Thanos trip himself up in his moment of ultimate victory. Thanos had the full Infinity Gauntlet, which allowed him to mold the universe at his will, all to impress Death. After defeating the surviving superheroes and overpowering the cosmic entities, he went one-on-one with Eternity himself.

    Thanos won, escaping his physical body to instead become an unbeatable force living in the fabric of the cosmos. Thanos’ folly was that his lifeless body still held onto the Infinity Gauntlet and like a car with the keys in the ignition, that godly power was there for the taking. Nebula zipped over to snatch it, gaining omnipotence, while Thanos was demoted.

    Thanos then joined the heroes against Nebula and afterwards faked his death by getting hit so hard by Thor that he exploded. Sweet plan!

    WHAT IF THE SILVER SURFER SUCCEEDED? (1993/1998)

    The most memorable part of Infinity Gauntletwas the sequence where Thanos powered himself down just enough so that the remaining superheroes had the slightest chance to beat him. They all died horribly, but that was part of the plan. It was all a distraction for Silver Surfer to zip by and grab the Gauntlet off of Thanos’ hand.

    He missed, of course.

    Two What If comics showed what would have happened had he removed the Gauntlet. One story had the Silver Surfer wield the Infinity Gauntlet with good intentions to make the universe a better place, only to gradually go insane from its power. Dr. Strange brought in Shalla Bal to talk some sense into him, which caused the Surfer to destroy the Gauntlet itself (seemingly at the cost of his own life, but instead, he and Shalla snuck off to a paradise planet).

    Thanos pondered over his defeat and smiled at how close he got to victory.

    In the other story, Surfer pulled the Gauntlet off Thanos, but fumbled it due to Thanos blasting at him. Surfer lost his hold on it and it was snatched out of the air by the comedic Impossible Man. The issue was more about Silver Surfer as the main character and while Thanos was depowered, he practically forgotten about within a couple pages.

    URBAN JUNGLE (1998)

    Back in the late-90s, Mark Waid and Andy Kubert did a Ka-Zarongoing that lasted roughly a year. Much like Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ka-Zar took on his evil brother who turned out to be working for Thanos. Thanos had some plot based on terraforming the entire universe so that all the plant life would kill everyone else, including Hillbilly Stephen King.

    Somebody out there will get that reference.

    In this story, Thanos absolutely towered over Ka-Zar and was able to shrug off all of his attacks. They fought it out in the middle of a volcano and while Thanos had Ka-Zar in a bearhug, the power of love gave Ka-Zar some crazy Spider-Man-under-a-pile-of-wreckage strength and he both escaped the hold and knocked Thanos into the lava below.

    That wasn’t the end of Thanos, as he rose from the lava, but the aftermath was a bunch of confusing jargon involving a magic medallion.

    CALL OF THE WILD (1998)

    After his loss to Ka-Zar, Thanos was locked up in some kind of energy dimension, unable to escape without help. In the form of a giant, he tried to convince the Hulk to pull him out of that dimension in exchange for power, only for Nate Grey to interfere. Alone, Hulk and X-Man were no match for the colossal Thanos.

    Together, X-Man was able to transfer his telekinetic armor onto Hulk’s body. Bouncing around, looking like The World from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, Hulk proceeded to overpower Thanos and sent him back into the portal from whence he came. Thanos’ connection to reality was cut completely and the heroes went their separate ways.

    Seriously, though. He looks exactly like The World.

    THE FINAL MORNING (2000)

    Thanos teamed up with Mangog to best Thor, power up with a bunch of cosmic artifacts (as Thanos is wont to do) and bring forth the end of all life in the universe. Thor was able to take out Mangog in a way most badass, but he was still no match for the amped-up Thanos. Luckily, Odin had Jagrfelm the Blacksmith make some extra special weapons powered by the Odinforce to buff up Thor to Thanos’ level. Odin summoned Firelord to make the delivery in time.

    Enhanced and ready for a piece of the Mad Titan, Thor fought Thanos to a standstill at first until destroying one of the empowering artifacts and turning back Thanos to normal. From there, it was only elementary that Thor would thrash Thanos into a purple mess. Thor’s ally Tarene then used her magic tears to explode Thanos into a smoldering corpse.

    Thanos creator Jim Starlin would later retcon this loss, as well as the Ka-Zar incident, as being against mere clones. I have to imagine that’s more because of Thanos getting outright killed or his plot to wipe out the universe, since Infinity Gauntlet made it apparent that Thor (even Eric Masterson Thor) could possibly tear Thanos apart if he didn’t have the Infinity Stones.

    SQUIRREL GIRL (2006)

    Squirrel Girl joined the Great Lakes Avengers with the dynamic being that they’re lame heroes and she’s lame on the surface despite being able to take down major threats. GLX-Mas Special (during the time when they were the Great Lakes X-Men) had Thanos come to Earth moments after Squirrel Girl just took down MODOK. Thanos talked up some plot about ruling the universe with something called the Pyramatrix.

    Squirrel Girl ran into action as a way to end her part of the story. Later in the issue, it was shown that she defeated Thanos all on her own with Uatu the Watcher verifying that it was indeed him. HOW she won was never explained.

    A later comic would claim that it wasn’t actually him because we can’t have nice things.

    ANNIHILATION (2006)

    The first Annihilationwas essentially the story that planted the seeds for modern-day Guardians of the Galaxy being a thing. In it, Thanos was more of a henchman to main villain Annihilus, much like how the Grim Reaper is somehow the henchman to Dracula in the Castlevaniagames. Part of their reign of terror had to do with Galactus being captured and weaponized against his will. Eventually, Thanos realized that Annihilus’ plans were a bit too far for him and decided that he’d help the heroes by releasing Galactus.

    Before he could do that, he noticed Death hanging out in the room. As he realized what was up (his time, to be more specific), Thanos suddenly saw his own heart torn out of his chest from behind. Drax the Destroyer was created to kill Thanos and damn it, that was exactly what he was going to do.

    MARVEL ADVENTURES (2006)

    In the family-friendly world of Marvel Adventures: Fantastic Four #16, Thanos clobbered Captain Mar-Vell so hard in the middle of a space battle that the Kree hero was knocked into Earth. There, he teamed up with the Fantastic Four to fight Thanos. Part of the issue centered around an invention of Reed’s called “utility fog,” which was a cloud of shape-shifting nanites.

    At first, the heroes used the utility fog to create duplicates of themselves and fight Thanos 10-on-1. This didn’t work out, but Sue was able to funnel the fog into Thanos’ mouth, allowing the nanites to shut down Thanos from the inside.

    MARVEL ZOMBIES 2 (2007)

    The original Marvel Zombiesminiseries ended with a handful of heroes-turned-zombies devouring Galactus and absorbing his cosmic abilities. They moved on to scouring the cosmos to devour both planets and the inhabitants. As of Marvel Zombies 2, not only did their ranks increase to include various high-ranking space characters like Phoenix, Gladiator, and Thanos, but they also seemingly finished off all the food in the universe.

    Zombie Thanos ranted about Zombie Hulk eating too much food and putting them in this situation, but the argument ended pretty succinctly with Hulk clapping over Thanos’ head and causing an explosion of gore. Gladiator tried eating some of Thanos’ exploded brains and skull fragments, but then immediately vomited them back up.

    THE NEWER FANTASTIC FOUR (2009)

    A What If issue showed a world where Wolverine, Spider-Man, Hulk, and Ghost Rider remained the New Fantastic Four due to the demise of the original team. A sequel showed how things would have gone had they existed during Infinity Gauntlet. Due to Ghost Rider being erased in the Finger Snap Heard ‘Round the Universe, Iron Man took his spot.

    The team didn’t agree to Adam Warlock’s “everyone die so we can maybe steal the Gauntlet” plan, but their attempts at fighting Thanos head-on didn’t work out either. It was Wolverine’s attention that saved the universe, as he took note the way Mephisto was able to lead Thanos around, as well as Thanos’ feelings for Death. Wolverine smooth-talked Thanos into smiting Mephisto and making Wolverine his new advisor.

    Wolverine, having a better understanding of women than Thanos, talked up how important touch is to a relationship and insisted that Thanos march over to Death and touch her face. By the time Thanos built up the resolve and reached over, Wolverine chopped his arm off and called him a sucker.

    Hulk beat down Thanos, Spider-Man set things right with the Gauntlet, and the day was saved.

    AVENGERS AND THE INFINITY GAUNTLET (2010)

    A more all-ages take on Infinity Gauntlet had the team of Spider-Man, Hulk, Wolverine, Ms. Marvel, Dr. Doom, and space trucker US Ace take on Thanos. It was a silly endeavor, but very much worth reading.

    When the heroes (and Doom) fought Thanos, they got their asses handed to them as expected. Out of nowhere, US Ace drove his space truck into Thanos. It didn’t kill him, but it did knock off his Gauntlet. Dr. Doom stole it, but it didn’t do him any good due to the realization that he was just a Doombot.

    Thanos tried to put the Gauntlet back on, only for Spider-Man to steal it with a web yoink and put it on. Spider-Man wished that Thanos never found the Infinity Gems and the story reset itself where only Spider-Man and Thanos remembered the incident.

    REBIRTH RAMPAGE (2010)

    The Universal Church of Truth seemed like they were resurrecting Adam Warlock or his evil self Magus, but instead they brought Thanos back from the dead. Not only was that something that would piss Thanos off on principle, but his mental faculties weren't back to normal just yet. The Guardians of the Galaxy had to fight what was essentially a purple Hulk with his junk flapping around.

    The Guardians had a hard time fighting the revived Thanos, as he even seemed more powerful than ever. Groot’s brute force failed, Gamora’s god-killing sword broke on Thanos’ skin, and Drax didn’t do much better. The Guardians hit him with everything they had and it only pissed him off.

    Finally, Star-Lord pulled out a cracked Cosmic Cube and used it to lure Thanos over. Then he let loose with a blast – straight into the crotch – that proceeded to knock out Thanos.

    DEADPOOL KILLS THE MARVEL UNIVERSE (2012)

    In one universe, Deadpool became aware that he’s a fictional character and instead of making him all wacky, it broke him and turned him into a brutal nihilist. The four issues were mainly just him killing various characters in occasionally inventive ways. At the beginning of the final issue, we got to see him take out tons of heroes and villains in one fell swoop in what appeared to many as a mass suicide.

    Turned out Deadpool was using the Puppet Master’s puppets to control people and make them kill themselves. To show he was thinking big, he pulled out a Galactus doll and we got to see Galactus and other cosmic types floating dead in space. This included the upper half of Thanos.

    AVENGERS AND GUARDIANS ASSEMBLE (2012)

    The first arc of Avengers Assemblehad two major roles in relation to Marvel synergy. First, it came out around the time of the first Avengersmovie and capitalized on both the Avengers’ popularity and the post-credits Thanos appearance. Second, it introduced the Guardians of the Galaxy as we know them, tweaking the character traits a little bit and mostly ignoring how their previous series ended because they had a movie coming out in two years and this was Marvel’s way of planting the seeds in the readers’ minds.

    Thanos came to Earth to steal what he thought was a Cosmic Cube, leading to a team-up between the Avengers and the Guardians. Thanos succeeded and became this unstoppable giant, banishing the heroes to another dimension. Turned out it wasn’t so much a real Cosmic Cube as a replica created by the US government. With the help of the Elders of the Universe, the heroes returned with a weapon that would destroy the fake cube. Thanos returned to his normal form.

    Hulk threw a growing Groot at Thanos, who delivered a couple haymakers until being swatted away. Then Thanos looked in horror as the Guardians of the Galaxy and several Avengers rosters (including two Hulks) rushed him down and started curbstomping him into oblivion. Thanos acted like he still had some fight left, but then the Elders popped in to steal him away.

    INFINITY (2013)

    Usually, Thanos’ deal is that he’s trying to get his girl, but around the time of Infinity, Thanos’ deal was that he got the girl too many times. As some kind of galactic Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Thanos sired children all over the universe and one day decided that, oh wait, making babies is counterproductive to stanning for Death. Remembering the time he knocked up an Inhuman during a trip to Earth, he returned to make sure his offspring was wiped out.

    The whole event led to a cloud of Terrigen Crystals spreading across the world and one of the people empowered by it was Thanos’ son. Calling himself Thane, the youngster came across Thanos fighting off the Avengers and let loose with his power to encase people in amber. Locked in a cube of amber in a pose similar to that time he was turned into a statue, Thanos was stuck in a horrifying stasis where he was conscious but completely immobile.

    UNI-DEADPOOL (2015)

    Deadpool and Thanos worked together to free Death from the clutches of Eternity. After all, with no Death, there was no...death. Death allowed the two to tap into her power in order to bring Eternity to his knees, but Thanos started to go too far and intended to kill Eternity once and for all. Death removed her powers from Deadpool and Deadpool realized that Death wanted this. The entire universe was going to die.

    Not enough to fight Death-powered Thanos on his own, Deadpool ended up getting a big buff in the form of the Captain Universe Uni-Power. That allowed him to fight Thanos head-on, but that wasn’t what got him the win. Deadpool pointed out that Thanos’ resilience and refusal to die or even stay dead makes him more of an agent of life than death. Death pondered this on the side and chose to remove Thanos’ newfound abilities.

    Screaming that he was weak and alone once again, Thanos vanished in an explosion caused from Deadpool’s blasts.

    WHAT IF? INFINITY: INHUMANS (2015)

    In this reality, Thanos gave Black Bolt the ultimatum where if Black Bolt didn’t kill the Illuminati and the Avengers, then Thanos would wipe out the entire Inhuman race. Fast-forward to an Earth ruled by Thanos and his henchmen.

    A hooded figure was treated as the ultimate weapon against Thanos that needed to be protected against all threats. In the climax, she revealed herself to be Dazzler. Between her ability to turn sound into light blasts and the excessive power of Black Bolt’s voice, Thanos was easily annihilated.

    WHAT IF? INFINITY: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2015)

    After Infinity, Thanos was locked up in a cube of amber in the custody of the Illuminati. In this alternate timeline, Rocket Raccoon stumbled upon this fact from spying on Iron Man. He and the Guardians proceeded to fight the Illuminati and free Thanos for the sole purpose of killing him.

    The actual death isn’t shown or 100% explained. All it needed was a two-page spread of the Guardians being accompanied by various cosmic allies like Beta Ray Bill, Ronan, Gladiator, Annihilus, and so on. Star-Lord told him that they’re the Guardians of the Galaxy and the galaxy is sick of Thanos’ shit.

    Afterwards, they all got very drunk in celebration while Earth's heroes were told that they were grounded and could no longer venture into space.

    WHAT IF? INFINITY: DARK REIGN (2015)

    Nobody’s perfect, but certain villains are better at using the Infinity Gauntlet than others. Wielding such power comes with such responsibility, so of course who would botch controlling the Infinity Gauntlet worse than a Spider-Man villain?

    In a world where Norman Osborn got his hands on the Infinity Gauntlet, he reached back several decades to bring his father into the present and showed him his many accomplishments. While his father was abusive and cruel, he was still able to call out Norman for being a monster. Norman then figured he’d just make his father love him with his omnipotence and it worked!

    Then they returned to his stronghold to find all of the Dark Avengers killed by Thanos. The two battled it out and while Thanos couldn’t scratch the Green Goblin, he was at least able to get under his skin by pointing out that he never forced Death to love him because he’d know that it wasn’t real. Norman would soon realize the same about his father’s glowing words.

    Norman rendered Thanos into a pile of smoking bones via blasting a Goblin Glider into his sternum. He confronted his mind-controlled father by asking why he loved him. Not finding, “Because you’re my son,” satisfactory, Norman wiped out his father’s existence from history itself.

    Realizing his mistake almost immediately, Norman faded away as well. What a maroon.

    SECRET WARS (2015)

    As the culmination of Jonathan Hickman’s epic Fantastic Four and Avengersruns, Secret Wars was the story of Dr. Doom gaining omnipotence and creating a world made up of scraps of broken alternate universes. It was kind of trippy but very awesome.

    When the heroes waged war against God Doom, Thanos challenged him head-on. Without the Infinity Gauntlet. Thanos talked a big game like he had any chance at all and Doom simply tore out his spine like he pressed forward, down, forward, high punch.

    At least with the Norman Osborn fight Thanos set him up to lose in his death.

    SECRET WARS: THE INFINITY GAUNTLET (2015)

    One of the reasons why Secret Wars was such a rad event was the many spinoff stories about the various alternate universes-turned-kingdoms. One of which centered around a family of Nova Corps members in a society overrun by space bugs. Stalking and later befriending the family was Thanos, who carried with him the Time Stone. The Nova family happened to have the Reality Stone.

    By the end of the story, Thanos had an almost full Gauntlet while the Novas only had that one Reality Stone. The father put up a good fight, but was still no match for Thanos’ might. The daughter, Anwen, offered to give him the Reality Stone in exchange for their lives. Agreeing to the terms, Thanos placed it in his completed Gauntlet and gloated over his absolute power.

    Suddenly, the Gauntlet shorted out while being overcome with purple flame and Kirby Krackle. It overwhelmed Thanos and turned him into a charred skeleton, all while Anwen revealed that she used the Reality Stone to create a poisonous replica called the Death Stone.

    CIVIL WAR II (2016)

    So Civil War II was a really bad miniseries by Marvel that acted as well-meaning character assassination for Carol Danvers Captain Marvel. Regardless, the first issue had a taste of rad Thanos action. The Inhuman known as Ulysses had a premonition that Thanos was going to be snooping around Earth. Against Iron Man’s wishes, Captain Marvel put together a team to ambush Thanos. Interestingly enough, the miniseries didn’t even show how the fight went down for the most part. All it showed was Thanos’ surprise, his critically injuring She-Hulk, and his fist going through War Machine.

    An issue of Ultimatesat least showed that afterwards, the Ultimates roster joined together to pour it on Thanos until he went down.

    ULTIMATES REMATCH (2016)

    Thanos was locked up in the Triskelion, but as you’d expect, he got free. The Ultimates tried fighting him and this time he was able to overpower them. Black Panther realized that the secret to stopping Thanos wasn’t brawn, but brains. While Ms. America and Captain Marvel kept Thanos busy, the others put together a device that prevented electrical synapses in his brain. Thanos collapsed and went silent.

    Black Panther pointed out that such a device would kill anyone else, but it’s possible that Thanos simply can’t die.

    THE GROUNDED GUARDIANS (2017)

    Thanos escaped custody once again and left the planet, which was extra frustrating for Gamora as the Guardians of the Galaxy lost their transportation during Civil War IIand were stuck on Earth for a while. Luckily, or unluckily, Thanos decided to head back to Earth as part of an agreement with Annihilus, the Brood, and the Badoon. This was Brian Michael Bendis’ final issue writing Guardians of the Galaxy and he wanted to go out with a bang.

    It started with Drax vs. Thanos, but over time, the whole Guardians roster started to trickle in to lay in on Thanos. Star-Lord, Groot, Venom, Kitty Pryde, Thing, Angela, Rocket, and Captain Marvel. The Avengers were apparently on the way. Then Gamora arrived, ignoring Thanos’ claims that this world could have been hers had she not betrayed him. Gamora smugly agreed that this way was better and the Guardians rushed Thanos.

    While the end of the fight wasn’t shown, the final pages did give us an imprisoned Thanos in the hands of the Nova Corps, looking all Hannibal Lector.

    THE SHI’AR IMPERIAL GUARD (2017)

    In Thanos’ recent ongoing series, he started to realize that his body was breaking down and he’d regularly cough up blood. He went to Mentor to find a cure, but Mentor’s failure led to death as punishment. Thanos was then met by the Shi’ar Imperial Guard, who tried to overwhelm him with their vast numbers. Thanos had his moments of dominance, but it was apparent that he wasn’t as strong as he usually was and they were getting the best of him.

    Exhausted and weakening, Thanos saw the Imperial Guard’s heaviest hitter Gladiator standing behind him. With one hell of a punch, Gladiator knocked Thanos into next week. Thanos was under arrest.

    PHOENIX THANE (2017)

    Not only was Thanos weakened, but a handful of his enemies joined together to end him once and for all. With Death whispering in his ear, Thane put together a team of himself, Nebula, Starfox, and the Champion of the Universe. In reality, Thane was planning on betraying them anyway, as his plan was to steal a Phoenix egg and grant himself the power of the Phoenix Force.

    When the time came for him to confront Thanos, there was very little to the fight itself. Just one blast of cosmic flame that depowered Thanos even further and teleported him to a slum planet, cursed to live out the rest of his pathetic life.

    In the end, Thane’s former allies helped Thanos regain his abilities and stop Thane. Apparently, it was part of Death’s plan all along, but Thanos was all, “I don’t want your love anymore!” Those feelings lasted like a week.

    THANOS VS. THANOS (2018)

    “And if Thanos must die?”

    “No one kills Thanos but Thanos.”

    At the end of his ongoing, Thanos was brought to the distant future to meet up with his older and very victorious self, King Thanos. Over countless years, Thanos wiped out seemingly all life in the universe. The only things left were his henchman Frank Castle (a failed Ghost Rider/Herald whose mentality has made him more Deadpool than Punisher over the years), the Hulk (treated as Thanos’ dog), and the threat of a vengeful Silver Surfer armed with Mjolnir. King Thanos brought his younger self over to help him kill the Surfer, hoping that it would bring forth the missing Death.

    When only the two Thanos’ remained, Death showed herself and made it apparent that she wanted them to fight to the death. Their battle was brutal, but the younger Thanos was supreme. Still, he would not be goaded into killing his older self, purely out of disgust. Instead, he went back to the present with the promise that he would make sure that King Thanos’ future would never come to pass, killing him with non-existence.

    I guess they took the whole “Thanos undoes his own victories” thing literally.

    Any other Thanos losses you want to remind me of? Sound off in the comments!

    Read the latest Den of Geek Special Edition Magazine Here!

    Gavin Jasper notices that Carol Danvers sure happens to partake in a lot of Thanos smackdownery. Huh. Follow Gavin on Twitter!


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    We'd also take movie adaptations of Sarah Kuhn's Heroine Trilogy about Asian American superheroes living and saving the world in San Fran.

    FeatureKayti Burt
    Aug 2, 2018

    Sarah Kuhn's Heroine's Journey is our current Den of Geek Book Club pick, and it shouldn't be hard to understand why. The Heroine series, which begins with Heroine Complex, is an easy trilogy to fall in love with. Set in an alternate Bay Area that happens to be home to a demon portal problem, the books follow three Asian American superheroines as they work to keep San Fran safe, figure out their own complex interpersonal drama, and have karaoke nights with the rest of their superhero team/found family.

    While Heroine Complex followed superheroine-assistant-turned-superheroine Evie Tanaka and Heroine Worship followed Evie's childhood best friend and superhero partner Aveda Jupiter, Heroine's Journey brings us into the head and life of twenty-something aspiring superheroine Bea Tanaka, the younger sister of Evie as she works to make her own superhero mark on the world, fighting her supportive, yet overprotective big sister every step of the way.

    The series is ongoing, and I'd like to see someone step up and bring this world to the big or small screen (I'm not picky). Here are just a few of the many reasons why the Heroine Trilogy would make such a good on-screen adaptation...

    Superhero diversity!

    We may be living in a time of on-screen superhero story abundance, but those superhero narratives tend to fall into the same, narrow patterns. Ten years into this era of furiously adapting superhero stories for the big and small screens and white cishet men are still majorly over-represented in the superhero field. Kuhn's Heroine Trilogy centers three Asian American women as superheroes. (Evie and Bea are Hapa, Japanese-Irish American, while Aveda is Chinese American.)

    Read Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

    TheHeroine series is filled with characters who are diverse in so many ways, and while those identities inform their characters, they are allowed to be more than any one identity. One of those identities is their respective superheroines deals; all three women have awesome abilities: Evie has fire powers. Aveda is telekinetic (and a total martial arts badass). Bea can manipulate others' emotions. Demon cupcakes (yes, there are demon cupcakes in this series), beware!

    A superhero series that centers female relationships.

    I'm over the era of the Strong Female Protagonist. Give me a female protagonist who isn't defined by any one identity and give her tons of supporting female characters with whom she can interact. The Smurfette Principle should not still be a thing, but it sadly is—especially in on-screen superhero fare. 

    Kuhn's Heroine series has female characters, relationships, and community in spades. The two most important relationships in the book are the ones between childhood besties Evie and Aveda, and sisters Evie and Bea. In the first case, Kuhn absolutely nails the complexity of a female friendship that has existed since adolescence and that has become unhealthy in some of its patterns, but is still very much based in love. 

    Read the latest Den of Geek Special Edition Magazine Here!

    The other central dynamic, the one between Evie and Bea, is similarly complex, but in very different ways. Evie and Bea lost their mother when they were young and are estranged from their father. This strengthened their relationship, as they are the only biological family each other properly has left, but it also put an impossible weight on their dynamic in that Evie feels the need to fill a maternal role for Bea. Now that Bea is an adult, she is chafing against Evie's overprotective support more than ever.

    "Bea was a teenager in the first two books, but now she's a little more grown up," Kuhn told Den of Geek at SDCC. "She's still pretty impulsive, she's still kind of a problem child, she still has a lot of issues. She is trying her best and she wants to be a superheroine alongside her big sister." It's riveting stuff, you guys, and the kind of female-driven superhero story we rarely see.

    Women characters who are allowed to be angry.

    Those who are socialized as women are strongly discouraged from expressing anger, but that doesn't keep us from feeling it. Too often, that anger is turned inward, repressed and contorted into something ugly out of what can be a healthy, appropriate emotion. In our real world, we are starting to get better about giving women space to express anger and validating that anger, but we still have a long, long, long way to go.

    One of the aspects of the Heroineseries that is most refreshing is the way Evie and Bea's powers in particular are connected to their emotions. Emotional intelligence has long been considered a traditionally feminine trait and is therefore undervalued by our society. In Heroine Complex, Evie is only able to properly tap into her superpower of setting shit on fire when she lets herself recognize her anger rather than suppress it. 

    Read Heroine Worship by Sarah Kuhn

    "I always loved the idea that there's power to be found in just acknowledging that you're kind of a mess, because we're all a mess," said Kuhn at SDCC. "Let's be honest, we're all a mess. And I think a lot of the time we're trying so hard to like tamp down on that or control it or make it go away, and I did like the idea that it is actually quite powerful to acknowledge emotions and process them and honor them." 

    In a sea of superhero stories where dudes can throw stuff, hit hard, and run fast, it's nice to see a superhero story that is so firmly based in the world of emotions, while not giving up any of the excitement or spectacle of superhero fighting that is so much fun to watch or read.

    Superhero-ing in the social media age.

    Outside of Batgirl of Burnside and Captain America fanfiction, superhero stories suck at incorporating social media and other modern technologies into their narratives. It's not a storytelling problem specific to superhero narratives, but it feels like a particular missed opportunity in stories that are so tied to public identity and celebrity.

    "If we had superheroes in our world, obviously they would be like celebrities," said Kuhn. "Everyone would be trying to get that paparazzi shot of them. Everyone would tweet if they saw them eating lunch somewhere. And that's kind of part of what played into what you were talking about before with women always sort of having to present this perfect image. I thought that, especially someone like Aveda, who is so invested in presenting a perfect image and feels like she can never mess up or make a mistake. I thought it would be interesting to look at how she kind of always has to be so on because everybody is watching."

    Spoiler alert from someone who has read the books: It is.

    A new city to save.

    I'm not sure how much help San Francisco needs in our real world—it seems to be doing OK?—but, in the world of the Heroine series, San Fran is ground zero for demon activity. I don't know about you, but I'm ready to see superheroes save not-New York City for a while. Really, I'm just ready for more superhero stories that realize setting in richer ways, making place and the ways it affects character more integral to the story. (Cloak and Daggerhas done this well, as has Black Lightning.)

    San Fran is also just a fun place to set a superhero series.

    "The streets actually sparkle," said Kuhn of the Bay Area, which she moved to attend Oakland's Mills College and where she had a second coming-of-age. "There's so many fun, interesting locations. There's so much to do. There's always people out and so I thought it would be fun to set it in San Francisco just because it's such a vibrant city, but also because I felt like having a sort of twenty-something coming-of-age was something that I could really relate to and hopefully write authentically."

    Read Heroine's Journey by Sarah Kuhn

    We rarely get to see San Fran on screen, probably because it doesn't have a film production infrastructure in the ways other American cities do. (I'm hoping Star Trek's proposed Starfleet Academy series figures out a way to render future San Fran in rich ways.) A screen adaptation of Kuhn's Heroine series would be the perfect excuse.

    This world can support many stories.

    The Heroine series is far from over. Kuhn will be writing another trilogy of books in the world, a sequel for each of her protagonists: Evie, Aveda, and Bea.

    An on-screen adaptation could use the classic one book to one season structure, changing the central, POV protagonist a la Skam, or the series could extend the focus of each book to make it less specific to one protagonist and more of an ensemble piece. The world definitely has the room for it, with a well-realized group of supporting characters who appear in all three books.

    Visually and tonally, the books are ripe for an on-screen adaptation, something Kuhn herself would be eager to see, saying: "Of course I would love to see a series focused on three Asian American women, three women of color who are superheroes and friends and sisters and it's just sort of about that."

    What is the chance of us getting an on-screen adaptation? 

    "There's definitely some interest and there have definitely been some discussions and we'll kind of see where it goes," said Kuhn. "But, honestly, it just makes me so happy that, that's something that people are interested in, that, that's something that they ask for because when I first started writing these books, I didn't even know if they were going to get published. I didn't know what was going to happen, so the fact that we are at that point is amazing to me."

    All three books in Sarah Kuhn's Heroine Complex series are now available to read in various formats. Check them out, then come chat about your favorite moments in our Den of Geek Book Club!


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    Dan Jurgens reflects on his time with Superman, tells us what's next for Green Lanterns, and talks about why Booster Gold keeps coming back.

    FeatureMike Cecchini
    Aug 2, 2018

    Dan Jurgens is often remembered as one of the men who killed Superman, but he's also someone who gave the Man of Steel as much life as any number of legendary creators. Jurgens' time with Superman spans nearly 30 years, and his work at DC Comics has allowed him to play with nearly every major character and concept over the decades.

    Incredibly accomplished as both a writer and artist, Jurgens just finished his latest run with Superman, wrapping up his time as writer on Action Comics, and writing and drawing the lead story for Action Comics #1000. He's currently writing Green Lanterns, his first time on a proper Green Lantern book, despite having made his mark on that world (albeit indirectly) back in 1993. 

    And while stuff like Superman and Green Lantern are the marquee names, comic book fans also know Jurgens as the creator of Booster Gold, the beloved time-traveling screw-up whose antics often feel like the inspiration for the Legends of Tomorrow TV series. We sat down with Mr. Jurgens at SDCC to talk about what he's been up to recently...

    Den of Geek: So, you just kicked off an arc on Green Lanterns, let's talk about that.

    Dan Jurgens: I'm doing Green Lanterns now, along with Mike Perkins, who has just come over to DC from Marvel. Mike and I have wanted to work together for a long time, and he's doing absolutely fabulous stuff on it, and it is so much fun to see his interpretations of the entire Green Lantern Corps. I keep throwing more stuff at him, saying, "Draw this character, draw that character," and he's doing a great job with it.

    What we have done, is introduce a mystery into the Green Lantern Corps, where by the end of our first issue, which is number 50, one of the Guardians is dead, and it starts to look like a murder mystery, with different Lantern characters being pegged as the murderers. So, it's very much a story about the Corps, it's about mistrust, it's about whether or not you can trust each other, and whether or not you can even touch these cool rings that they wear, which is what makes them the Green Lantern. So, we're having a lot of different things we're playing things we're playing with in this that make it, I think, somewhat different then the typical Green Lantern type of story.

    And how long is this arc running for?

    We're running from issue 50 to 57, eight issues, and when you have that many characters as we do there, and I want to touch on the entire Corps, certainly with focus on Simon Baz, and Jessica Cruz, 'cause they were sort of the cornerstone characters. But we're using Kilowog, and we're using Guy Gardner, and we're using Hal, so we have a lot we want to touch on.

    Is this the first time you've written any of the Green Lanterns outside of guest appearances in other the books?

    Well, and that's what's really weird, because it is the first time I've done it directly, and the funny thing is that if we go back to Death of Superman days, when we destroyed Coast City, that's kind what drove Hal off the edge, and turned into the Parallax stuff, which I also did in Zero Hour. I've had this relationship with Green Lantern for a long time, but never have done it directly. So, yeah, this is the first time.

    I can't stay away from your Superman work, because it's just such tremendous body of work there is that I've come back to again and again as a fan. What is your proudest moment as a Superman writer, artist, and creator?

    I think it's really hard to beat Superman #75, and the whole Death of Superman thing, because that was so unique for its time, and these days it's really almost impossible for those who weren't there, to try and tell them what it was like in terms of the public reaction to it overall. So, that's a part of it, but I think also, and not to cheat, because this will sound like a bit of a cheat, is just to have had that long of an affiliation with a character, and continue to be able to add things that contribute overall to the old tapestry that is Superman.

    And, through that time, you've been a writer, you've been an artist, you've been a writer and artist. Were there any particular collaborations that you felt where you were really firing on all cylinders with people?

    Yeah, well, and I think if we go back to what we were during The Death of Superman, there were four Superman books, and we were essentially a weekly comic book. And, it was a group of writers, it was me, along with Jerry Ordway, and Louise Simonson, and Roger Stern, as well as artists like Jerry was drawing his book, and we had Tom Grummett, and John Bogdanove, and all together it was a very special time for what Superman was, so there was that.

    I mean, even more recently, I was so fortunate to have really good artists on the book. Patrick Zircher kinda helped us kick it off with Action Comics #957, because we were doing the Rebirth stuff and everything, and from that all the way on up through, I think I was really fortunate to have really nice, solid artists, each of whom brought something special to Superman.

    Do you ever see yourself drawing a monthly again?

    Yeah, I do. I think, more and more, I keep telling myself that I'm gonna have to do it again, because one of the realities is, even as I draw more sporadically now. For example I just did the story in Action Comics #1000, that I wrote and drew. And when I got done with that I said, "This was fun to get back and do this, I have to draw more," so at some point I'm gonna have to do it here.

    Do you feel now that your Superman story is complete? You wrapped things up at the end of your Rebirth run, but do you feel like you've told that story now? Or do you still feel that you have more stories to tell with Superman?

    I think the answer to both of those is yes. I think I told that story and brought it to the conclusion I wanted it to have, but I think that there are more stories out there, and whether or not we'll ever get around to doing it, who knows, we'll see. But I think there are always more stories out there.

    Superman is such a tremendous character, and what I like about him is that he is so elastic a character, and by that I mean you really can tell a story as small as, it's his son Jon's birthday, and Lois is out working on a story and he's fighting Brainiac or somebody, and poor Jon is sitting there home alone. You can tell a story that is as small as a family moment, and at the same time, tell a story as big as Superman fighting the biggest cosmic threat there is, and that's what I like about the character.

    You are also known as the creator of the creator of Booster Gold, and Booster has been absent from the DC Universe the last couple of years until that story that came towards the end of your run on Action Comics. What was it like revisiting Booster yet again, and are we ever going to see him again, or see you working on him again?

    Well, it's always fun to work on Booster Gold, and it's sort of like he comes up for a while, then he fades and comes back. Working on him in Action was a lot of fun. Watching Tom King use him in Batman was a lot of fun, and obviously Tom is using him in a new series that's coming up, called Heroes in Crisis. And, after that we'll see. Booster is, I think, this fun jovial character who is very complicated on one level, and at the same time very direct. In comics we have characters with secret identities, and all sorts of secrets they try and protect. Booster just wears it on his sleeve, and it's all out there for everybody to see, both the good and the bad, and he has plenty of faults. I think that's what makes it fun to work on Booster Gold, so yeah, hopefully out there we'll see something.

    And you've been involved with DC's initiative to get comics out into the hands of casual fans again, with their work with Walmart.

    We have four titles that are going into Walmart on a monthly basis, Batman, Superman, Justice League, and Teen Titans. I am writing the Teen Titans lead story. Each of those books are a hundred pages, and they have one new story in the front. I'm writing a Teen Titans story with great art by Scot Eaton, and right now the Titans are in this bit of a renaissance, and even that's hard to say, because it's not like the Titans ever really went away. But we have the Teen Titans Go! movie, and there's a Titans live action TV series that is coming here this fall, and so to kind of be out there in that different sort of venue trying to find a new reader, and kind of find those casual readers so that we can later entice them into a comic book store, it's a lot of fun.

    What do you think it would take to really get Superman to work on the big screen again?

    I think they're very close to it. I think they have the right cast, and I think at the end of the Justice League movie, we really started to see the keys of what could make it work. We saw the Superman/Flash race, which is such a quintessential Superman moment, the color was brighter, the sun was out, it was outdoors, it was positive. We saw Superman smile, we saw Superman have sort of that command presence that I think he has to have, which I think Henry Cavill really embodies. So I think it's very close.

    Green Lanterns arrives every other Wednesday from DC Comics.


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    Sony’s Spider-Man spinoff movie endeavors appear to be contemplating Kraven the Hunter, since a writer was reportedly named.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Aug 2, 2018

    Kraven the Hunter might be movie-bound for a Sony solo effort.

    The October-scheduled Venom, starring Tom Hardy, will serve as Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man spinoff canary in the box office coal mine for several mooted projects. However, the studio’s universe-expanding ambitions might be too urgent to await the outcome of that experiment, since it appears that another rogues gallery cinematic centerpiece in Kraven the Hunter is getting behind-the-scenes momentum. Indeed, Collider reporting that Sony has appointed The Equalizer 2 scribe Richard Wenk to write the script.

    Wenk, primarily an action movie screenwriter, wrote the 2014 Denzel Washington-starring, 1980s TV series-adapting actioner, The Equalizer, and its just-released sequel. He’s also banked scripts for Tom Cruise action sequel Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, 2016 Western remake The Magnificent Seven, 80s action icons sequel The Expendables 2, Jason Statham actioner The Mechanic and Bruce Willis thriller 16 Blocks.

    Sergei Kravinoff, a.k.a. Kraven the Hunter, is one of Spider-Man’s earliest recurring villains, marking his first appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man #15, dated August 1964. He’s a Russian big game hunter who develops an obsession with making the already-famous Spider-Man into his next trophy. Kraven is an A-list antagonist and – with Doctor Octopus, Electro, the Sandman, the Vulture and Mysterio – formed the first lineup of the Sinister Six. He also happened to be the center of one of the darkest Spider-Man comic storylines, 1987’s “Kraven’s Last Hunt,” which culminated in the character's suicide; a watershed moment for the comic industry, just as DC was about to come to the table with Batman: The Killing Joke.

    Of course, Kraven would be resurrected, remaining a thorn in Spidey’s side in myriad comic iterations, and Black Panther director Ryan Coogler even revealed that he (unsuccessfully,) attempted to procure Kraven as the film’s villain.

    Consequently, it will be interesting to see what Wenk – a gritty crime movie-inclined director – would bring to the table with a Kraven the Hunter movie, which, like Venom, would presumably operate under a context that’s removed from his rivalry with Spider-Man, despite his innate connection to the Wall-Crawler. However, it has been apparent for a while that Sony was eyeing Kraven for something. Last year, reports surfaced that the studio was considering both Kraven the Hunter and master of illusion Mysterio for solo efforts. Of course, Mysterio would become spoken for when the Tom Holland-starring sequel, Spider-Man: Far from Home cast A-list star Jake Gyllenhaal for the role.

    While we’ll have to wait for the box office numbers of Venom to get a better gauge on moviegoers’ feelings about Sony’s cold introduction Spider-Man-less villain spinoff movies, it’s a concerning endeavor that seems to be putting the crossover cart before the franchise horse, especially as the projects are piling up, consisting of offerings such as the Jared Leto-headlining Morbius (the Living Vampire), Silk (a female hero imbued with similar powers to Spidey) and the recently-shelved Silver & Black (a female-led team-up of Black Cat and Silver Sable).

    Regardless, we will keep you updated on Sony’s Kraven the Hunter project as the developments occur!

    Read the latest Den of Geek Special Edition Magazine Here!


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    If you like Dark Tower or Logan, Serial Box's new dark fantasy western, Bullet Catcher, should be on your to-read list.

    NewsAlana Joli Abbott
    Aug 2, 2018

    Coming this fall from online serial fiction platform Serial BoxBullet Catcher is a startling new dark fantasy western, in which orphaned Imma Moreno apprentices herself to a bullet catcher: a warrior who can’t be shot and who can bend bullets to his will.

    For readers who love Stephen King’s Dark Tower fantasies, or who loved the mentor relationship between Wolverine and Laura in Logan, Bullet Catcher introduces a world that feels old, gritty, and ready for a hero. But when Imma discovers the answers she’s searching for, she may realize that the difference between heroes and villains isn’t what she expected.

    Check out Den of Geek's exclusive first look at the serial's gorgeous cover...

    Unlike most Serial Box titles, Bullet Catcher is the work of a single author, novelist and reviewer Joaquin Lowe. Beginning with the first issue, released on October 17, 2018, the series will run weekly over fourteen episodes. It joins Serial Box’s catalog of excellent, intense fantasy series, such as BookburnersTremontaineThe Witch Who Came in from the Cold, and Born to the Blade.

    What's Bullet Catcherabout? The story is set in a world where the war between the bullet catchers and the gunslingers ended a long time ago. Imma grew up on stories of their battles, of tales of good versus evil told by her brother, Nikko. At the orphanage where they grew up, Nikko created dreams of a future in which he’d become a rich bullet catcher, and he’d ride back to the orphanage and save Imma.

    But Nikko disappeared long ago and, in her heart, Imma knows he’s dead. When a real bullet catcher arrives in town, Imma has nowhere to go: she’s washing dishes in a dead-end job—a dead-end life. Her hope rekindled, she follows the stranger out of town, demanding to be taught to become a bullet catcher herself.

    But most of all, Imma wants to know what happened to her brother. Nikko pledged to come back for her. Imma knows he’s dead, but she wants to know how. And if he was killed, she wants to face his murderer herself.

    Stay tuned for more coverage of this upcoming serial! In the mean time, check out our guide to the best serial fiction on the internet and head over to the Serial Box website to pre-order the entire first season of Bullet Catcher.


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    We're giving away some sweet Hocus Pocus-themed swag that will be the envy of all your friends this coming Halloween season.

    Feature Kayti Burt
    Aug 3, 2018

    This giveaway is being done in partnership with Disney Hyperion, who provided a copy of the book and merchandise for the contest.

    Hocus Pocusremains a Halloween classic. The story of teen boy Max Dennison, who moves from California to Salem, Massachusetts only to accidentally bring a trio of soul-sucking witches back to life, is a mainstay of the annual autumnal celebration. The movie ends with Max, his crush Allison, and little sister Dani, vanquishing the Sanderson sisters without losing their souls in the process. Now, 25 years after the film's initial release, we're finally getting more of the story.

    Hocus Pocus & the All-New Sequel, written by A.W. Jantha with illustrations from Matt Griffin, is a two-part young adult novel that features both a novelization of the original film, as well as a sequel that follows Max and Allison's 17-year-old daughter, Poppy, as she faces off against the Sanderson sisters her parents defeated all those years ago.

    Den of Geek has partnered with Disney Hyperion for a special giveaway of the two-part novel, along with some sweet Hocus Pocus-themed swag. In addition to the book, one winner will receive: custom Sanderson Sisters cookies, a branded "Witch, Please" t-shirt, and a mug. Basically, you'll be all set for the coming Halloween season.

    Here's who to enter the contest: 

    - Join the Den of Geek Book Club!

    - Introduce yourself in the Introduce Yourself! message thread. (Be sure to mention it was the Hocus Pocus giveaway that brought you to the group!)

    Final entries will be accepted Friday, August 10th! One (1) winner will be drawn at random and contacted by Goodreads message. The winner must live in the United States. Good luck!

    The books hit stores on July 10th, so, even if you don't win the giveaway, you can still check out the stories yourself!

    Read Hocus Pocus & the All-New Sequel

    Read the latest Den of Geek Special Edition Magazine Here!


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    Netflix has given a series order to Raising Dion, a sci-fi story about woman raising a super-powered young son.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Aug 3, 2018

    Another superhero series is joining Netflix’s original content lineup. However, this one won’t quite fit with its existing Marvel small screen scene. Raising Dion, an independently-created superhero sci-fi story that carries a heartfelt family twist, has been given a full series order by the streaming giant.

    Netflix has announced that Raising Dion will arrive on its platform with a 10-episode series order. The story stems from a 2015 short film and comic book of the same name, created by Dennis Liu. It depicts the innately unconventional parenting task of a widowed African-American woman, whose 7-year-old son Dion possesses an array of potent superpowers (telekinesis, energy projection, invisibility, etc.). Yet, despite its fantastical premise, the focus rests more on the realistic implications that one would have when raising a child who has a normal sense of wonder and mischief, but happens to possess incredibly dangerous abilities. Indeed, the sight of the mother packing a pistol while watching some men-in-black types outside her door drives home the idea that threats are everywhere.

    Discussing the Netflix pickup, creator Dennis Liu expresses in a statement:

    “I started this project many years ago because I wanted to see more diverse representation on film and television and I’m excited to partner with Netflix, who I know shares that commitment. More than ever, we need more stories told from different points of view and my hope with Raising Dion is to create a cinematic experience for all families that will lift your spirits and make you laugh and cry.”

    Helping Liu in that endeavor with Raising Dion will be appointed showrunner Carol Barbee, who has also written the script for the first episode. Barbee, a veteran television writer/producer, has been attached to a wide variety of series, notably in the sci-fi/action arena, with Falling Skies, Touch, Hawaii Five-O and Jericho, as well as dramas such as UnREAL, Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce and Judging Amy. She is joined by exec producers in Macro’s Charles D. King, Kim Roth and Poppy Hanks, along with Kenny Goodman and Michael Green.

    Intriguingly enough, also joining Barbee as an executive producer on Raising Dion will be actor Michael B. Jordan (Creed, Chronicle, Fantastic Four), who is onboard via his Outlier Society Productions. Moreover, Jordan will also appear on the series on occasion, playing the late father of the titular super-powered-sprout, who (at least, in the original short,) is implied to have been a military man who was cut down in action.

    Regarding Michael B. Jordan’s presence on the series, Netflix VP of Original Content Cindy Holland states:

    “We haven’t seen this type of superhero story before — an origin myth full of imagination, wonder and adventure, all grounded in the experiences of a modern single mother. Michael B. Jordan is an exciting and dynamic talent, and I’m excited to see him, Macro, Carol and the team translate Dennis’ unique vision to television.”

    Longtime TV director Seith Mann (who, like Jordan, worked on TheWire but not at the same time as the actor) is set to direct the series' first episode per Deadline

    Raising Dion does stand as a potentially unique family-centric take on an increasingly crowded superhero/sci-fi genre, also carrying much of the same X-Men-esque drama about society’s depicted fear of superpowered people; something that will undoubtedly be rooted in socially topical themes.

    Raising Dion Cast

    Netflix has now cast the Dion in Raising Dion along with his mother as well. According to Deadline, newcomer Ja’Siah Young will protray the young boy with limitless potential and powers. Alisha Wainwright (Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments) will play the mother tasked with raising him, Nicole. 

    Michael B. Jordan, of course, is portraying Dion's father and he posted a lovely little family photo to his Instagram. 


    On the non-family front, Jason Ritter previously joined Michael B. Jordan in being one of the first actors cast on Raising Dion. Ritter will portray Pat, a comicbook fan, scientist, and best friend to Jordan's character, Mark. After Mark dies, Pat fills in as a paternal figure for Dion and shares a special bond with her. Someone's gotta raise Dion! The show's title demands it.

    Ritter has had a strong recent history of television roles and is coming off of starring in ABC's Kevin (Probably) Saves the World. Deadline first reported the casting.

    Jazmyn Simon (Ballers) will play Kat, Nicole's sister and a surgical student. 

    Raising Dion Release Date

    There’s no word yet on when Netflix expects Raising Dion to arrive. It is not currently among the shows listed in Netflix's roster and could get a release date of 2019 or later.


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    Which Marvel comics should you read before (or after) Avengers: Infinity War? We have a definitive reading guide for you!

    Feature Jim Dandy
    Aug 4, 2018

    Avengers: Infinity War is here, and with it comes the first extended appearance on screen of Thanos, a character with a surprisingly rich history for someone who was created as a ripoff of Darkseid/musing on the concept of nihilism by a bunch of really stoned teenagers - honestly, I'm not sure which one I'm supposed to cross out there. Thanos was both of those things, and so much more, and he became one of the Marvel Universe's most feared villains almost as soon as he burst on the scene.

    And since the movie is likely going to be a lot about him, we've the perfect Avengers: Infinity War reading guide full of the comics you're going to want to check out before and after the movie. We've also got some of the stories that the movie is likely going to be drawing from so you can be ready for all the references and winks at comics fans.

    The Infinity Gauntlet

    The most impressive thing from the most recent trailer for Infinity War wasn't the crappy Spider-Man costume or the fact that they jammed in more Shuri and Dora Milaje to capitalize on Black Panther. It was the very specific dialogue in the trailer about Thanos wanting the Infinity Stones to kill "half the universe." That is a direct lift from The Infinity Gauntlet, the story that moved Thanos from a bit villain in Jim Starlin's psychedelic '70s Marvel space stories to one of the primary bad dudes of the entire Marvel Universe.

    The Infinity Gauntlet had Thanos, furious that he was being friendzoned by an abstract concept, obtain the titular macguffin to impress Death by killing half the living beings in the universe. He does, and he is opposed by Adam Warlock and the universal entities who make up the real power of the galaxy - Eternity, Eon, Galactus, the Living Tribunal, etc. (to be clear, Etcetera is not a character in the Marvel Universe). Adam Warlock and Doctor Strange gather a team of heroes together, and teamed with the universal entites, everyone beats the hell out of Thanos until he tricks himself into not having the gauntlet any more.

    I snark, but the thing about The Infinity Gauntlet is it's actually really good. Starlin's writing is more thoughtful and introspective than your typical big summer blockbuster, and George Perez's art on the first half is outstanding. This is a must-read if you're a fan of anything Marvel at all. It has a sequel that's actually called Infinity War, but that's not as essential a read, and doesn't seem to have anything to do with the movie.

    Read Infinity Gauntlet on Amazon

    Annihilation, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Thanos Imperative

    Starting with Annihilationin 2006 and ending with The Thanos Imperative, writing duo Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning's time with the Marvel cosmic characters was foundational for both the future of Marvel Comics and for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Their Guardians of the Galaxy, which grew out of Annihilation: Conquest, is the basis for the MCU version of the Guardians. It also happens that this run of comics was INCREDIBLE.

    The era began with a shock invasion of the galaxy by Annihilus and the Negative Zone, where Drax was remade from a monosyllabic killing machine to...a slimmed down, knife-wielding killing machine...and Thanos was helping Annihilus tap into the Power Cosmic, which they were harnessing from a captured Silver Surfer and Galactus. Thanos was killed by Drax at the end of the first series, and then the galaxy had to live through an invasion by the Ultron-led Phalanx; a war between the Shi'ar and the Kree; and a giant tear in the fabric of reality before Thanos was resurrected by the Universal Church of Truth. He was revealed as an avatar of Death, the universal concept and his forever alone internet girlfriend, when the tear in the fabric of reality was discovered to be the point of entry for a parallel universe where death had been conquered by Cthulu and Captain Mar-vell. Thanos quite predictably went apeshit and killed everything in a universe where nothing could be killed.

    This era of Marvel cosmic was truly magnificent. Start with Annihilation and then go from there!

    Infinity

    Jonathan Hickman's Avengers was enormous and wonderful, and as it turns out extremely important to Avengers: Infinity War.Two things from that era seem to be key to the plot of the movie. The first is how epic and large the Avengers team becomes. Avengers (the big team adventure book) starts with Iron Man telling Captain America "We have to get bigger." And eventually the team comes to encompass...pretty much every Marvel hero, along with (at varying points) Doctor Doom, Molecule Man, Thanos, Corvus Glaive, Black Swan, Proxima Midnight, and Terrax the Parallel Universe Tamer. The movie Avengers team seems similarly stuffed, so I expect many similar dynamics.

    The other component of Hickman-era Avengers that is crucial to Infinity War is the Black Order, which we weent into detail about here. The whole design aesthetic of this movie seems to be heavily influenced by the art from Mike Deodato and Jerome Opena. That's a good thing.

    Read Infinity on Amazon

    Thanos Rising

    Want to know how Thanos became an omega-level MRA? Jason Aaron and Simone Bianchi's Thanos Rising is the place to go. 

    This story shows Thanos' origins - as a Deviant (a mutant Eternal) on the moon Titan, Thanos' mother had a nervous breakdown immediately upon his birth. He went through life a passive, almost passionately nonviolent person until he discovered his true calling in life: killing as many people as he had to to get Death to notice him.

    Read Thanos Rising on Amazon

    This comic is dark and weird and beautiful to look at, if extremely European in aesthetic. Aaron's writing is almost always good, and paired with Bianchi's sweeping painted art, it's a great comic.


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    We're tracking down every Marvel reference in Ant-Man and the Wasp! Here's a complete guide for you.

    Feature Gavin Jasper
    Aug 4, 2018

    After seeing everything build up into Avengers: Infinity War, the Marvel Cinematic Universe hits another big milestone with its twentieth movie, Ant-Man and the Wasp. Peyton Reed’s sequel to 2015’s Ant-Man (AKA the moment when we just kind of accepted that Marvel could get away with nearly any concept and make it a hit) is in theaters now and acts as both a follow-up to the original and Scott Lang’s misadventures in Captain America: Civil War.

    Absent in Infinity War, Ant-Man only got a shout-out as being under house arrest. Now we get to see what that’s all about, taking place a short while before that big blockbuster. Here are some Easter eggs and references from Scott Lang’s Day Off.

    Lots of spoilers coming!

    THE WASP/JANET VAN DYNE

    Clever thing about the movie is that the title has a double-meaning. It’s both about Scott Lang and Hope Van Dyne as well as Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne. Janet had a short scene in Ant-Manin full costume in a flashback, but here she’s an actual character. Janet first appeared in Tales to Astonish #44back in 1963. Much like Hank, Janet was one of the original members of the Avengers and was even the one who came up with the team name at the end of the first issue.

    Wasp’s movie death/disappearance is, in retrospect, very similar to Bucky Barnes’ comic book death in the sense that she sacrificed herself and seemingly died to prevent an enemy rocket from killing innocents. Her return has more in common with Brian Michael Bendis’ run on Avengers.

    In the story Secret Invasion, Wasp was infected with tainted Pym Particles that turned her into a living bomb. Thor prevented her from causing massive destruction, but she still dispersed into nothingness. Towards the end of Bendis’ run, she was able to communicate with several Avengers and let them know that she was in fact alive and marooned in the Microverse. Hank and the others were then able to rescue her and bring her back to the normal world.

    GHOST

    Ghost was introduced in Iron Man #219(1987) by David Michelinie and Bob Layton. While the appearance and powers are on-point, the comic and movie versions are pretty different. For one, the comic villain is a white male and is obsessed with destroying corporations. His real name has never been revealed, but according to his origin, he was a brilliant programmer who was exploited, manipulated, and almost murdered by his bosses. While mostly a villain, he spent a good amount of time as an anti-hero member of the Thunderbolts.

    As far as I know, Ava Starr is a brand new character. Her father, on the other hand, is Egghead. Introduced in Tales to Astonish #28 (1962) by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Larry Lieber, Egghead was your run-of-the-mill mad scientist. But hey, he was a regular thorn in the side of Hank Pym, so that’s something.

    BILL FOSTER

    Hank Pym’s old friend first showed up in the pages of Avengers #32 (1966) and almost a decade later, he became a superhero. In the movie, he mentions working on something called Project Goliath, based on enlarging people, which is fitting since his hero monikers have included Black Goliath and just plain Goliath. He’s basically most well-known for being the big casualty of the Civil War comic series.

    Er, as long as you don’t count Captain America in the aftermath.

    JAMES WOO

    FBI agent James Woo has a long history in Marvel Comics. Originally appearing in Yellow Claw #1(1956) by Al Feldstein and Joe Maneely, Jimmy Woo was an agent out to oppose the Yellow Claw, one of your usual “yellow peril” racist comic villains of that era. He was later turned into a SHIELD agent and had a role in a task force put together to stop Godzilla back when said monster had its own Marvel series.

    Woo is mostly known for leading the Agents of Atlas, a team of obscure and forgotten comic characters from the 1950s. Originally, it was a one-off story from the What If series back in the 70s, but the concept was brought into canon in the mid-00s. Listen, if dorky SHIELD agent Phil Coulson can get a TV spinoff, I think dorky FBI agent James Woo can get an Agents of Atlas spinoff. The world is ready for Gorilla Man and his robot buddy.

    Even though this is Woo’s first actual MCU appearance, he did get namedropped on Agents of SHIELD as being a contact on Melinda May’s cell.

    SONNY BURCH

    Much like Ghost, Burch is another Iron Man villain being repurposed for Ant-Man. In the comics, Burch was only around for a single storyline back in 2003-2004. Introduced in Iron Man #73by John Jackson Miller, Jorge Lucas, and Phillip Tan, Burch had more in common with the film version of Justin Hammer than his own movie counterpart. Burch was a businessman who exploited a legal loophole that gave him ownership of some older Stark armor tech. Caring more for profits than regulations and quality, he tried to exploit this technology and it became publicly disastrous. He ended up shooting himself rather than face charges.

    GEOFFREY BALLARD

    Although he didn’t get much screentime, the FBI agent contacted by Burch and given the tip to catch Hank and Hope is a supervillain in the comics. With the villain name Centurion, he debuted in Black Goliath #4 (1976) by Chris Claremont, Rick Buckler, and Don Heck. Even though he first showed up in Bill Foster’s comic, he ended up being more of a Ms. Marvel villain.

    MISCELLANEOUS

    - Scott’s daughter Cassie early on remarks, “I wish we could shrink for real.” Much like with Bucky Barnes wielding the shield and Jim Rhodes cracking wise at the silver Iron Man armor, this sounds like foreshadowing. Teenage Cassie followed in her father’s footsteps in the comics as Stature, a member of the Young Avengers. With the rumors of Cassie being a teenager in Avengers 4, we’ll see if there’s more to this quote than meets the eye.

    - While being kidnapped, Scott is watching Animal House (1978). More specifically, he’s watching a scene where Pintlo (Tom Hulce) and Dave Jennings (Donald Sutherland) have a pot-fueled discussion about how there are galaxies within atoms.

    - Kurt talks up Baba Yaga, a bogeywoman of Russian folklore. She has at least made some appearances in Marvel Comics, usually in relation to Captain Britain.

    - Luis makes a strained reference to the Budweiser “Wassap” commercials which aired...in 1999. Almost 20 years ago. Oh my God. Why am I just now recognizing these gray hairs?

    - When Bill Foster notices a bunch of ants crawling through the lab, he lets out a hammy, “It’s them!” At first glance, this might seem like a basic line, but it’s almost definitely a subtle joke reference to Them!, the 1954 movie about giant ants. The same film is being watched by Scott, Hope, and Cassie at the end of the movie.

    - According to his cameo, Stan Lee apparently did a lot of acid back in the 60s. Sounds about right.

    - The mid-credits scene takes place during the final moments of Avengers: Infinity War after Thanos snapped his fingers. While Scott survives, Hank, Janet, and Hope aren’t so lucky. Even alive, Scott is stranded and the post-credits stinger adds a question mark to, “Ant-Man and the Wasp will return.”

    Any other references you noticed? Sound off in the comments!

    Gavin Jasper is going to be a good boy for the rest of this year and then ask Santa for an Agents of Atlas movie. Follow Gavin on Twitter!


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    Not the abstract concept. A bad guy named Karma. Batman, Black Lightning, and Orphan have some work to do.

    NewsJim Dandy
    Aug 6, 2018

    Bryan Hill is having a moment.

    The writer, who got his start at Top Cow almost a decade ago, wrapped Postalto some acclaim earlier this year. At the same time, he picked up The Wild Storm: Michael Cray, a concept that could be as trite as Deathblow Kills the DC Universein less capable hands, but has turned into an interesting character study plopped in a sort of What If style tale. And he was part of the slate of new books announced for Vertigo's big relaunch. American Carnageis about a half-black ex FBI agent going undercover to infiltrate a white supremacist militia. DC had copies of it in San Diego, and the first issue, with art from The Old Guard's Leandro Fernandez, is legit. It's grim and mean and vivid and engrossing and it's going on my pull list when I next get to the shop.

    Meanwhile, he's also got a fun arc of Detective Comics running, with Batman and Black Lightning more or less putting together a new team of Outsiders. Here's what they have to say about the issue.

    DETECTIVE COMICS #986 written by BRYAN HILL
    art by PHILIPPE BRIONES
    cover by EDUARDO PANISCIA
    variant cover by MARK BROOKS
    Black Lightning, the Signal and Cassandra Cain are working very well together…but now they’re up against a foe who can tap directly into their worst emotions and play them like music! When you’ve seen the kinds of horrors these poor souls have, there’s plenty of trauma to work with…and with that, you can turn these heroes into deadly weapons! Meanwhile Batman’s “side project” has been revealed—what are the Brainiac Files, and what, exactly, does Batman plan to do with them?

    Since Rebirth, Detectivehas been squarely aimed at people who came to Batman in a certain era (roughly "Knightsend" through the end of "No Man's Land"), and it's been great. James Tynion launched it and clearly loved Tim Drake, and Hill very obviously loves Cassandra Cain, and they're both so good. Check out the preview.


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    When AMC’s The Walking Dead Season 9 premieres this fall, it will be pick things up after a significant time jump.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Aug 6, 2018

    The Walking Dead Season 9 is planning a radical departure, and we don’t just mean the imminent exit of star Andrew Lincoln. Rather, after Season 8 showcased the killer climax to an apocalyptic conflagration known as "All Out War," the series – similar to the comic book source material – will engage in what could be considered a soft reboot, with a time jump to a point in which the bitter conflict rests in the rearview mirror. Now, we know just how far in the future this will take place.

    On AMC’s Sunday night preview special for The Walking Dead Season 9 – hosted by Yvette Nicole Brown, who’s warming the Talking Dead center seat for returning host Chris Hardwick – the exact length of the time jump was revealed. While the dais was headlined by new showrunner Angela Kang, also consisting of Ezekiel actor Khary Payton, it was the also-present cast member, Tom Payne, who plays Jesus, who revealed the crucial chronological info that Season 9 will take place 18 months after the events of the Season 8 finale, “Wrath.”

    While The Walking Dead is still a television juggernaut that regularly banks ratings that other shows would kill to have, it’s taken major hits in the past few seasons, with the aforementioned Season 8 closer only earning about 7.9 million viewers, which is nearly half of what the series pulled during its Season 5 heyday. Consequently, Angela Kang has quite the lofty task ahead in her attempt to rejuvenate the formerly buzz-heavy hit.

    Fortunately, the changes appear to be promising, at least based on the initial images and what’s been shown in the Comic-Con trailer. Indeed, it appears that the series will undergo a much-needed evolution, seemingly manifesting as a more atmospheric drama, with an aesthetic that sees technology – out of necessity of the ongoing apocalypse – scaled back, forgoing the use of gas-guzzling vehicles for horses and wagons. Moreover, the 18-month time jump will see things start in a time of relative peace amongst the neighboring communities, with the defeated big bad in Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan still locked in a cell in Alexandria, forced to witness the era of non-head-bashing reciprocity.

    Of course, that’s all going to change quickly when the series introduces an array of new comic-adapted characters such as Magna (Nadia Hilker), the leader of a small group of wanderers who arrive at Alexandria, taking advantage of the offered hospitality, albeit while exercising great caution. Additionally, we’ll meet the next big bad of the series in Alpha (Samantha Morton), leader of the stealthy, animalistic group of survivors, called the Whisperers, who wear walker skin masks and weaponize large herds of the dead.

    The Walking Dead Season 9 premieres on AMC on October 7.

    Read the latest Den of Geek Special Edition Magazine Here!


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    Bryan Hill is getting deep into Batman's role as a mentor and teacher in the pages of Detective Comics.

    FeatureMike Cecchini
    Aug 7, 2018

    DC's core Batman title is the one that gets all the attention most of the time. A parade of virtually unbroken runs by writers Grant Morrison, Scott Snyder, and now Tom King have seen to that. But you should never, ever sleep on Detective Comics. For one thing, it's DC's second biggest legacy title after Action Comics, and the book that introduced the Dark Knight to the world always deserves plenty of respect. But just as we've had a parade of towering creative teams on Batman, so we have on Detective, with Peter Tomasi handing off to James Tynion IV for a two year run, who has in turn handed it off to Bryan Hill.

    And Hill is making the most of his 5 issue tenure as writer of Detective Comics. He has introduced a brand new villain, teamed Batman up with Black Lightning, and laid the foundation for a new team of Outsiders. That's a lot of bat for the buck, and that alone would make these stories worth checking out. But Hill has a secret weapon: he knows what makes Bruce Wayne tick. Despite all of the heavy lifting being done around the Bat-family in Detective Comics, Hill has a knack for putting a new spin on Batman's well-worn drive and motivation, and he clearly has a tremendous love for the history of the character.

    We sat down with Mr. Hill at San Diego Comic-Con, and he took us on a tour of the streets of Gotham City according to Detective Comics.

    Den of Geek: This is kind of a different take. It's not a solo Batman story. You're kind of expanding the Batman family a little bit. You want to talk about this?

    Bryan Hill: Well after the excellent work that James Tynion IV had done on Detective, I wanted to take this idea of the Bat-family and I wanted to challenge it in terms of what did it mean for Bruce Wayne to have to share his legacy with other people. The origins of Batman, it's about a guy who wanted to become a myth. To find the superstition and criminal landscape to use fear against people who cause fear.

    So the big question of the story, and all of my stories tend to have some large question, that I engage is, can Batman still be that creature of fear if he's sharing his legacy with all of these other characters? Does it make him too familiar? Is he turning himself into a brand? And by doing so, is he diluting the effect of what he can do for Gotham?

    And that's what this mysterious villain keeps saying...He comes after Signal and Cassandra Cain and he says, "You're making him weaker."

    When you turn yourself into a symbol you become a magnet for a lot of psychopathy for people that are disturbed and broken in various ways. And this villain, Karma, has a relationship to Batman that predates the story of the book and we're going to explore that as the story continues. But yes, he has very powerful motivations to make sure that in his mind, Batman is everything he believes Batman should be.

    It's funny that you keep coming back to this idea to how Bruce Wayne has turned himself into a symbol as Batman. And one of the first lines in the first issue of your run, he says, "I became a nightmare but that doesn't mean I don't have them." That says a lot right out of the gate about your take on Batman.

    Before I started I had spoken to [Batman writer] Tom [King] a little bit. I really like how he is able to explore the man inside of the batsuit. So I wanted to make sure that what I was doing was carrying that ball down the field a little bit. I mean, Bruce Wayne is still a person with fears and hopes and dreams and all the things that people have. Simultaneously he tries to become something that is inherently not a person. How does just a guy become something that' symbolic, that powerful? You know? And so he's really saying at the beginning of the story, just because I am this thing, doesn't mean I don't have the same human frailties that everyone else has.

    I get the feeling you have a unique take on the dichotomy between Bruce and Batman...

    Oh, that's because I'm crazy. I have a unique take on a lot of things.

    But you've obviously given a lot of thought to the idea of Batman as a symbol. There's another line that, in five words, I think says more about Batman and Bruce Wayne than a lot of writers will say in an entire run. Jefferson Pierce asks him, "What does Bruce Wayne owe you?" And Batman says, "He owes me his life." Can you expand on that a little bit?

    The creation that is Batman was the way that Bruce Wayne was able to reconcile the trauma in his life. Right? That little boy, who watched his parents get killed, blames himself even though he was a child and probably couldn't have done anything. He blames himself for what happened. Batman was the only way he could funnel all that emotion into something that would allow him to have a life. So, for me, Bruce views Batman as the key that unlocked him from the dungeon of his own trauma. And just as Batman has symbolic meaning to all of Gotham, Batman also has symbolic meaning to Bruce Wayne himself. And I think that's what he was speaking to there. It's a double entendre. It's a truth and a hidden truth.

    I think as readers start to see this relationship between Jefferson Pierce, Black Lightning, Bruce Wayne, and Batman unfold, you're going to see revelations from the both of them that speak to who they are, what they have in common and also what they have that separates them in terms of perspective. They're two characters that essentially want the same things, but they have very, very different methods. But in that moment, I think Bruce was admitting something powerfully honest even if Jefferson wasn't quite able to understand all of the meaning. But he comes later, and when he realizes that Bruce Wayne is Batman, I would imagine that line has a resonance for him.

    Can we talk a little bit more about Jefferson and Bruce? Because this book has Jefferson Pierce as Black Lightning and there's a lot going on there with how Bruce is trying to recruit Black Lightning for this project he's putting together. Jefferson Pierce is a teacher in the traditional sense. Batman is a mentor and a teacher in a lot of kind of non-traditional ways.

    Almost a hyper-traditional sense. Right?

    I guess so. Yeah!

    Jefferson's a post-modern mentor and then Batman's a mentor in almost a classic mythological sense. I used to teach. I went to NYU, came out of NYU and did a bunch of things. I worked in marketing for a bit, and one of the things I did was also I taught. I was a substitute teacher for a little bit. And I just kind of bounced around schools and did all of that sort of thing. Education's very important to me as a person. Education is the reason why I'm sitting here right now doing what I can do, is because I had teachers that invested into my mind and my future and guided and shaped my ambitions and my dreams. If we don't have those people in our lives we never really are able to realize our potential.

    So it was very important for me, for that aspect of Jefferson, to not just be like a bullet point in his character. Peter Parker's a photographer, but doesn't really seem to care about photography. Right? And I didn't want it to just be a note. I wanted it to inform his life as both a teacher in a school, but also as a superhero. And I think the biggest difference between Batman and Black Lightning is Batman heads out thinking about what he can stop. And Black Lightning heads out thinking about who he can save. And the combination of those factors, that yin and yang kind of aspect is the strength of that partnership and they'll both come to realize that as it continues on in the story.

    As this is going on, there are some familiar elements that seem to be coming together because Batman has led these side teams in the past, in his history with the Outsiders. So I have to ask...this does kind of seem like you're putting together a new team of Outsiders?

    Well for that I'll have to give you my most diplomatic answer. I am a big fan of the Outsiders. I thought it was a great book, great stories, I read them a lot when I was growing up. And I have nothing to announce at this time about it, but I would suggest that people that are fans of both Batman and Black Lightning should head out to local comic book stores and pick up those issues and if they enjoy those stories, maybe there'll be something in the future.

    So let's talk about this team that's coming together. Because, we have Signal, obviously you have Jefferson Pierce, and you have Cassandra Cain. Who else is on the menu here?

    Well I don't want to give away everyone who's gonna show up in the story, but you might see a certain Japanese hero make an appearance. You might see other heroes from Gotham make an appearance. What I wanted to do with the story really is, bring someone in, like Jefferson who has a different point of view on this group of Gotham heroes, and for the reader to be able to see them both from Batman's point of view and through Jefferson's point of view. So there's gonna be a collection of characters that are going to be touched by this narrative, and affected by this narrative going forward. Whether it's me writing stories or not. I think it's really important for readers to know that the events of this arc will have an effect, a ripple effect across the DCU, especially across Batman's world. Whether it's me continuing that or not continuing that, the story matters.

    One of the things that they told me initially when they asked me if I wanted to do this arc. [DC co-publishers] Dan [Didio] and Jim [Lee], they told me, "Bryan we want this story to matter. We want you to feel free to tell the story you want to tell. And if it affects things in the future but we want you to be passionate about their work." And that's what really drew me to wanting to do this. Because Batman means so much to me as a person.

    My father died when I was seven years old. It was cancer, no one shot him or anything, you know, but I still had the loss. And the day I found out that he passed away, I walked into a comic book store, and I think it was Batman Year One in single issues or something. The cover was little Bruce Wayne sitting in the spotlight, holding his parents hands. Right? And that was a mirror for me. I felt like that. And I'm like, "I don't know what this is. I'm gonna buy this. Because that's the feeling I have right now." I read it, and that helped me contextualize what I was going through, because Bruce Wayne was going through the same thing. So growing up, as I was struggling with the loss and coming out of it and trying to figure it out, and adolescent anger that comes from that kind of trauma, I kept going back to Batman. Thinking about well, Bruce figured out a way to do it, what would Bruce Wayne do? You know? How would he do that? So this character means so much to me.

    And I know my story isn't singular. That's the story of a lot of Batman fans and the story of a lot of comic book fans. We fall in love with these characters because their heroism and sacrifice sees us through our own darkness. That's the power and importance of mythology. So yeah, so when they came to me about it, they told me, "Yeah, you can do something that you really care about, you're really passionate about." So we're gonna see a whole host of characters. They're gonna be challenged, and they're gonna struggle in different ways. I tend to put characters through a crucible a little bit. I think that's important. 

    The first three parts of this Detective Comics story are on sale now, with new issues shipping every two weeks.

    Read the latest Den of Geek Special Edition Magazine Here!


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    Nicky Drayden's genre-defying speculative fiction novel imagines an African society structured around twins.

    ReviewAlana Joli Abbott
    Aug 7, 2018

    Imagine a world in which most people are born twins. Imagine that, between these sets of twins, seven vices and virtues are split. The twin with the most virtues goes on to live in the upper echelons of societies. The twin with the most vices is known as the "lesser twin" and, though some rise to the level of middle management, some never make it out of the slums known as "the comfy." Furthermore, if a twin is too geographically far away, they suffer from a proximity break: physical pain at the absence of their missing half.

    This is the fascinating world that Temper: A Novel's Auben and Kasim are born into. The teen characters in the speculative fiction narrative from Nicky Drayden (The Prey of Gods) are a six and one pair, which means Kasim has nearly every virtue, and Auben revels in having nearly every vice. 

    Read Temper by Nicky Drayden

    Protagonist Auben embraces his bad boy image, indulges in his lechery and duplicity (among his favorites of the vices). But, lately, stretches on proximity have been harder for him to manage, and to make matters worse, he’s hearing voices in his head urging him to darker acts. It scares him and, in order to solve the problem, he’s willing to risk relying on magic to let him go, on his own, to Grace Mountain, where he can ask Grace, the god of the virtues, for help. Instead, he comes face to face with Grace’s twin, Icy Blue, a demon who needs human blood to survive—and who takes Auben’s body as his host.

    A nuanced world...

    As is the case with most frequent readers, I seldom read a book for which I can’t see the shape of the plot early on, but Drayden turns enough corners with the plot that she manages to offer surprises, even in the final chapters. Because of that, this review won’t dwell too much on plot details, so that you can be as delighted as I was by the surprises in store. 

    Temper feels like it's going to become a horror story about a third of the way through the book, but the story plays with horror tropes only to transcend them, building instead into a commentary on faith, marginalization, and disconnection from fellow humans, with a healthy dose of sibling rivalry—and love—in the mix.

    Part of the reason the shape of the plot is so well hidden from the reader is because Drayden lavishes such loving devotion into building her setting, with all its flaws, keeping the reader fascinated and distracted by the richly-realized alternate world. Geographically resembling Cape Town, South Africa, the primary setting of the novel is Greater Bezile, Mzansi, a city at the base of Grace Mountain, and thus the home of Mzansi’s dominant religion.

    Auben and Kasim come from "the comfy"—slums populated dominantly by lesser twins, set aside from the nicer areas of the city by a wall, but still close enough to their more fortunate twins that they won’t suffer proximity breaks. When Auben is trying to convince some girls to come home with him and Kasim, Drayden uses it as an opportunity to describe the stereotypes of the district, followed by Auben's thoughts in his point-of-view narration: 

    'Can you promise we’ll see wu mystics and holler whorse, and eat mealie pap and fried chicken feet, and wash it all down with a heavy quart of tinibru?' Her tongue is sharp and accurate, but I don’t take offense. Sometimes stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason.

    Beyond "the comfy" are the nicer parts of town where Auben and Kasim’s mother lives. She and her husband have another pair of twins, of age with Auben and Kasim. They are gender chimaeras called kigens. Kigens make up nearly half the land’s population.

    Chimwe and Chiso are a feminized male (fem kigen) and a masculinized female (andy kigen), respectively. While some kigen present more one way than the other, Chimwe and Chiso are nearly identical. Drayden uses “ey” and “eir” as an alternate pronoun structure throughout, and kigen characters appear throughout the story in different roles, emphasizing the prominence of the gender chimaera population.

    But, despite their prevalence in the population, kigen are marginalized, and their gender slurs are established early on to give readers an idea of the hurdles that kigen—especially kigen who are lesser twins—must overcome.

    Religion and equality...

    Beyond the city and nation lies a wider world, full of cultures that judge Mzansi customs and religion as archaic. There are Mzansi who agree with this outside perspective, but those pro-science subsecularists are persecuted even more than singletons (the culture's term for people born without a twin).

    Auben's Uncle Pabio, who is fond of conspiracies, posits:

    [Grace and Icy Blue] are just clever inventions for branding morality, and that schools... were designed to separate us from nature, from our tribal communities and cultures, and from critical thinking so that we could wholly tolerate this unjust and unnatural system instituted by a bunch of wealthy Nri immigrants fearful of growing Nationalism and the Mzansi elite who pulled their strings...

    Sometimes I want to believe him, to think he knows something that the rest of us don’t, but then he’ll start ranting about 'death traders' skimming around the ocean in their sailing ships, and their ‘skin the color of sun-bleached bone’ and how centuries ago, they ‘almost nearly could have brought an end to the Nri empire spread out along the west coast of the continent and the Ottoman empire on the east, and all the lands like ours caught inbetween’ and it all just gets to be a bit much to swallow.

    That's as much explicit commentary as colonialism gets in the narrative, but the laying out of Mzansi's entire social structure makes sure the reader is well aware of who has the power and who doesn't, while the narrative plays with ways to create equality for those who are oppressed. And, while I’m not sure I agree with Drayden's ultimate treatment of vice without virtue (and vice versa), the ideas she plays with while doing so make the whole question of good and evil, when it comes to humans, one well worth considering.

    While there are characters throughout the novel who blame religion for all the world’s shortcomings, Auben and Kasim’s connection to those larger powers never allow for a simple answer to the world’s flaws. The way that Drayden uses explorations of morality and mythology through the narration of a teenage boy—whose coming-of-age, given that it involves demons and divinity—is far more complicated than most, is artfully done, woven into a story that may keep you awake at night, wondering where it's headed next.

    Temper is now avaiable to purchase via Amazon or your local independent bookstore.


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  • 08/07/18--13:07: Deadpool 2: Who is Cable?
  • Now that we've met Josh Brolin as Cable in Deadpool 2, the bigger question is...who the hell is Cable?

    Feature Jim Dandy
    Aug 7, 2018

    With Cable making his film debut in Deadpool 2, where he's played by Josh Brolin (you know, the guy in a little indie movie called Avengers: Infinity War), it’s been a common refrain amongst casual comics fans lately to ask those of us steeped in the folklore “Who is Cable and why should I care?”

    Five hours later, when our response ends with a pile of X-Men comics being used to light an effigy of Bob Harras while we chant “NO MORE RETCONS! NO MORE RETCONS!” many of those casual fans are often scared away from the X-Men, comics in general, and our homes.

    I’m here today to give you a clear, concise rundown of the history of Nathan Christopher Charles Summers...ha! Almost got it out with a straight face. The reality is Cable is a continuity black hole, but there’s a reason why he’s enduringly popular and I’m going to explain it to you in one sentence:

    He’s a badass soldier from the future.

    That’s the core of his appeal. There are layers (and layers and layers and layers...sweet Jesus are there layers) added over that, but at his core, he’s always just been a badass soldier from the future trying to build a badass army to prevent his awful future from coming to pass.

    Cable was introduced in 1990 to be a new mentor to the second generation of X-students, the New Mutants. He was more militaristic than his predecessors: Charles Xavier, the secretly monstrous founder of the Xavier school, and Magneto, the surprisingly incompetent reformed nemesis. He also showed up packing heat - he was covered in giant guns to the point where he eventually became a parody/poster child for the excesses of '90s comics. But at the same time, he was placed at the center of the third age of X-Men comics, one defined by Apocalypse and soapy family relationships.

    Cable was eventually revealed to be Nathan Christopher Summers, the child of Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor, taken into the future to save his life after he was infected with a virus that caused his body to morph into a pile of loose technology. While there, he discovered that he was destined to take down Apocalypse, the nigh-immortal mutant who eventually takes over the world and turns it into a Darwinist shitscape. He jumps back in time and takes control of the New Mutants to help further that goal.

    He becomes an interesting case study in comics storytelling - almost a decade after his first introduction, he actually succeeds in destroying Apocalypse and averting his terrible future (don’t worry, it’s comics: Apocalypse gets better). That set him adrift for a little while, but his core stayed the same. He was a badass soldier from the future, and he stayed that way whether he was fighting brushfire wars in eastern Europe, protecting a mutant messiah as they’re chased through the future like it’s Lone Wolf and X-Cub, or saving the world with his omega level telepathy and telekinesis after his techno-organic virus was completely cured.

    His link to Deadpool comes mostly from two things: they were both created by Rob Liefeld around the same time, and they shared the headlining role in one of Marvel’s better mainline hero books of the aughts, Cable and Deadpool. In that, Nate was mostly just the straight man in a straightforward superhero action/humor comic. Deadpool would do his thing (Bugs Bunny with an arsenal) while Cable did his (overpowered messiah saving the world with over-the-top action). It was a solid examination of some of Cable’s more absurd character elements, while also being a good, epic X-Men comic.

    Most recently, Cable had a new series announced at Marvel. In it, he’ll be (wait for it) a badass soldier from the future, jumping through time to protect the timestream. So it looks like they see what we’ve been enjoying, too.

    ALTERNATE VERSIONS

    - In the Age of Apocalypse, Nate Grey was a clone made by Mr. Sinister to eventually challenge Apocalypse’s dominance. He was shunted to the 616 reality at the end of that mini-event and served no purpose in the main universe for a little while, until he was later reimagined as a weird mutant shaman and continued to serve no purpose but without being a direct rip on Cable.

    - Ultimate Cable is genuinely funny. The Ultimate Universe was a stripped down version of the main Marvel universe, a direct response to '90s excesses in convoluted continuity and overused guest appearances. With that in mind, Ultimate Cable was actually a future version of Wolverine.

    - Cable also appeared as a playable character in Marvel Vs. Capcom 2. He had a giant gun beam spam move, and anyone who chose him was of loose morals.

    Read the latest Den of Geek Special Edition Magazine Here!

    KEY STORIES

    New Mutants #87 - Cable’s first appearance. It’s easy to see why he got so many people pumped. Rob Liefeld’s art, while not everyone's cup of tea, was also full of energy and enthusiasm and a lot of fun to look at.

    X-Cutioner’s Song - This 1992 X-Men crossover is almost entirely gibberish. This is where the Summers connection was revealed, and it was all about Cable, Stryfe, Cyclops, Jean, and Apocalypse. The art, however, is actually pretty good. It’s got early Jae Lee, Greg Capullo, Andy Kubert ,and Brandon Peterson, and they do a great job of giving the reader something to do besides get a headache trying to chart a family tree.

    The Twelve- Again, this is not a good comic, but it’s the pivot point of Cable’s story: here is where he stopped being Apocalypse’s nemesis and started being an ex-messiah.

    Cable & Deadpool - This is where people started taking Cable seriously again. It was a fun, fairly uncomplicated superhero book that had great Deadpool moments, and did a lot of good character work on Nate.

    Messiah Complex, Cable (vol. 2), Messiah War, and X-Men: Second Coming - This is my personal favorite era of X-Men comics. The three big crossovers are all very good, and focused on Cable and Hope. Cable’s solo book is also excellent, and you get some really good Badass Nathan Summers stuff in all of these.

    X-Force vol. 4 - Simon Spurrier is a madman. This series is like if Grant Morrison played with Transformers as a kid: it’s got a vivid ‘80s feel to it, but it’s just weird and good. This series prominently features a character whose mutant power is you forget about him if you’re not looking directly at him. And it has Dr. Nemesis, who is hilarious.

    Uncanny Avengers - Gerry Duggan’s latest version of the X-Men/Avengers hybrid team has actually morphed into a follow up to Cable & Deadpool. It’s a straightforward superhero action book, but it’s got good character bits and is almost Busiek-like in its appreciation of Avengers and X-Men continuity.

    Deadpool 2 opens on May 18.


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    The speculative fiction author's next book is about a group of time-traveling geologists.

    NewsKayti Burt
    Aug 7, 2018

    Annalee Newitz's Autonomous was one of Den of Geek's favorite books of 2017, so you better believe we're freaking out about the announcement that Tor Books has acquired two new novels from the speculative fiction author with another scheduled for Fall 2019.

    Tor.com has the details on Newitz's upcoming books. The first is titled The Future of Another Timeline, and it is "a mind-bending and thought-provoking speculative thriller about a group of time-traveling geologists who are trying to prevent a dark future from coming to pass." Yep, I'm in. The Future of Another Timeline will hit shelves in Fall 2019.

    The Terraformers, "a multi-generational tale of love and politics, set against the backdrop of an awe-inspiring feat of environmental science" will get to our eyeballs and brains in Fall 2021.

    Tor futher describes: "This is a book about building good ecosystems, fighting natural disasters, and falling in love. It’s a big, sweeping future-historical novel driven by the idealistic visions and emotions of its characters as well as by ideas about environmentalism and urban social structures the author has researched and written about extensively in her career as a science journalist and author."

    Details on the third upcoming Newitz novel, slated for 2023, are to be announced.

    Newitz is not only a science fiction author, but also the co-founder of io9 where she served as Editor-in-Chief from 2008-2015. She wrote optimistically about humanity's future in her non-fiction book Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction. She co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Our Opinions Are Correct with Charlie Jane Anders.

    Den of Geek talked to Newitz for the Den of Geek Book Club Podcast at last year's NYCC. Listen to that full conversation here.

    Read the latest Den of Geek Special Edition Magazine Here!


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    Patrick Macmanus, showrunner of Syfy’s Happy!, will develop a TV series based on Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Aug 7, 2018

    A long-overdue live-action adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s classic time-bending 1969 novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, is about to happen, the first since director George Roy Hill’s 1972 movie. However, it will take shape this time as a television series for Universal Cable Productions, whose purview notably includes USA, Syfy and Bravo.

    In the latest news, the Slaughterhouse-Five television project is now in development with cable channel Epix, which – in the scenario the project gets ordered to series – would prospectively serve as the broadcast platform, reports Variety.

    The studio’s effort to bring Vonnegut’s novel to the peak television arena involved the appointment of a talent already under the NBCUniversal umbrella in Patrick Macmanus, showrunner of Syfy’s imminently-premiering series, Happy!, which adapts the similarly-surreal Grant Morrison-created comic book of the same name. Macmanus has signed an overall deal for Slaughterhouse-Five that will see him write and executive produce the TV adaptation. He will be joined by a gaggle of executive producers in the nigh-ubiquitous Gale Anne Hurd (via Valhalla Entertainment), along with Ensemble Entertainment’s Jon Brown, and Brand Y Media’s Bradley Yonover.

    Elise Henderson, senior vice president of development for UCP, claims that the project was on the studio’s radar for “many years” as they waited for the rights to be freed up. As she explained to Variety back in December 2017:

    “As soon as they did, we jumped in. At that point, we needed a writer, and we had just been introduced to Patrick for Happy!. Having read his material, we knew that he has the ability to do the emotional character depth that we need but also the ability to figure out a complex story and how to crack it, and capture the humor and the tone.”

    Read the latest Den of Geek Special Edition Magazine Here!

    Slaughterhouse-Five centers on the experiences of Billy Pilgrim. A prototype for the “unreliable narrator” trope that USA’s Mr. Robot embraces, Billy finds himself lost in time, living out things that unfold in a non-linear fashion, such as his experiences during World War II as an Army chaplain’s assistant and eventual prisoner in Germany, where he survives the Allies’ firebombing of Dresden (since, ironically enough, war prisoners were safely stowed in the basement). Elements of Billy’s post-war life also come into focus, consisting of marriage, children and, in a radical thematic departure, abduction by aliens, during which he is kept in a dome menagerie, forced to mate with a missing movie star. The novel, which also implies ambiguity over the veracity of Billy’s experiences, has long been fodder for scholarly analysis.

    Indeed, showrunner Macmanus (formerly of Netflix’s Marco Polo,) implies his intention to delve deep, stating:

    “There are no lines that Vonnegut ever throws away. But there are certain lines within the book that allude to a much larger world. I’m not just talking about going off into outer space. He alludes to the Balkanization of the United States and to the hydrogen bombing of the United States. I feel like today’s TV is the only way to tell this story. Even though it’s only approximately 275 pages, I think that it’s ripe to be expanded upon exponentially.”

    We will keep you updated on Epix's Slaughterhouse-Five television project as things happen!


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    This web of spoilery secrets, from the Spider-Man Hostile Takeover prequel novel, will boost your hype levels for Spider-Man PS4...

    Feature Rob Leane
    Aug 8, 2018

    This article comes from Den of Geek UK.

    Hey there, True Believers. The long-awaited Spider-Man PS4 game will web-sling its way onto shelves on September 7th, and it promises to deliver an epic open world filled with iconic characters at every turn. It is, quite simply, one of the most hotly anticipated games in recent memory, with fans around the globe hoping for an experience that surpasses the as-yet-unmatched excellence of the Spider-Man 2 tie-in game.

    If you simply can’t wait until September 7th to visit the world of Spider-Man on PS4, you’re in luck: David Liss has penned a prequel novel, entitled Spider-Man: Hostile Takeover, which will allow you to learn an awful lot about this game before you first load it up.

    The book is available for pre-order now as a paperback and a Kindle download, ahead of its release on August 21st. We were lucky enough to check out a preview copy, which managed to make us even more hyped for the game itself. 

    Spidey isn’t sure about his future

    If you’ve been following the pre-release hype train for Spider-Man PS4, you’ll know that its take on Peter Parker is not a rookie superhero or a high school student. A lot further down the superhero road than Tom Holland’s Marvel Cinematic Universe version, Spider-Man PS4’s protagonist (who’s voiced by Yuri Lowenthal) has been Spidey for eight years. His suit is very snazzy, and his fighting style is honed to perfection.

    Despite really knowing his stuff, this seasoned Spidey is conflicted about his role in the world. He has a history with the NYPD, but is glad to find new allies over the course of the book. He’s locked up numerous villains over the years, but he’s also seen some walk free. Spidey even considers, at one point, planning his retirement from the superhero scene. He reckons that he might be able to hang up his web-shooters for good in a year and a half’s time.

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    Spending such a long stint of his life as Spider-Man has had an effect on Peter Parker. He is just about holding down a job as a lab technician for an important science company, but at various stages in the book he lets his bosses down by shirking work to fight crime. The company works on projects that benefit mankind, such as building super smart replacement limbs for amputees, and Peter laments that he can’t spend more time at his desk. It’ll be interesting to see if this struggle, and the idea of superhero retirement, rears its head again in the game.

    Classic characters, fresh roles

    Hostile Takeover also makes it clear that supporting characters will play important roles in Spider-ManPS4. Perhaps the biggest surprise of all is Mary Jane Watson, who undertakes a career change in the book and starts a new job as a features writer for the Daily Bugle.

    Her initial beat is culture and events, but MJ makes it clear that New York’s criminal element – mainly Wilson Fisk’s machinations as the Kingpin – is what she really wants to be writing about. MJ’s interest in Fisk drives a wedge between her and Peter, who were dating at the start of the book but seemingly separated by the end of it. This subplot from the book makes it easier to understand why MJ is a playable character in the game that has been sneaking around a lot in the trailers. (Interesting side note: in the book, MJ is the only person that knows Spidey’s secret identity.)

    Other familiar characters who take on new roles here are J. Jonah Jameson (who goes from former newspaper man to shock jock podcast host over the course of the book) and Aunt May (who, rather than being another damsel in distress for Peter and his alter-ego to look out for, is actively helping the community by working at a homeless shelter named Feast). NYPD Captain Yuri Watanabe, who becomes the superhero Wraith in the comics, also has a key part to play in the book: she's leading the official investigation into Fisk, and working with Spidey to gather evidence.

    All in all, it seems like Spider-Man PS4 will be something of an ensemble piece, with numerous characters having meaningful tasks to complete. This is a world that feels properly inhabited, unlike, say, the Arkham Asylum games (where Gotham is usually deserted and Batman seems to be the only person doing anything).

    Villains aplenty, and more to follow

    Fisk is the main baddie in Hostile Takeover, but so many more menaces are mentioned. This makes sense, of course, given that Spidey must’ve fought a fair few foes in his eight years of activity. Shocker makes an appearance at one stage in the book, and Scorpion and Electro are both said to be locked up at The Raft super prison. Roxxon, a morally bankrupt company from the comics, are also referenced. The big-headed gangster Tombstone is active at the moment, as well.

    At one point, Spidey goes to a villain-stuffed bar to search for intel. We’re really hoping that this location, which reminded us of the Villain Pub from the How It Should’ve Ended series on YouTube, is available to visit in the game.

    Some villainous characters from the comics show up in the book without appearing to be evil as of yet. Norman Osborn, for example, is the mayor of New York and a rival of Fisk’s, but there is no reference made to the Green Goblin. Harry Osborn, similarly, seems to be a fairly normal guy at this point in his life: he’s plotting a trip to Europe during the book, and Peter describes his old friend Harry as an “all-round good person.” There is a reference to Harry having a shaky hand at one point, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s on the Goblin serum.

    Martin Li, who is known to comic book fans as the fearsome Mr. Negative, appears to be a totally charming do-gooder during his one brief appearance in the book. He is a benefactor of the Feast shelter where Aunt May is working, and he even encourages Peter to volunteer. If you’ve seen any of the Spider-Man PS4 trailers, though, you’ll know that Spidey and Mr. Negative are set for a sizeable scrape in the near future. And if you’ve read any comics with Mr. Negative in them, you’ll know that duality is a key part of his character.

    And as a potentially noteworthy sidebar, Hostile Takeover doesn't include any references to Doctor Octopus. The tentacled terror has long been rumored as the mystery villain at the heart of Spider-Man PS4's E3 trailer, but we'll just have to wait and play the game to find out if that's the case.

    Fisk and Spidey have a history

    Earlier on in his superhero career, Spider-Man put Wilson Fisk briefly behind bars. The Kingpin’s lawyers found legal loopholes, though, so the master criminal was released. This significant setback is one of the reasons why Spidey isn’t so sure about his future or his usefulness. Spidey is determined to put Fisk back in prison permanently, and this is the only real goal he has before wanting to retire from heroics.

    The difficulty, though, is that Fisk has put a lot of time and effort in appearing legit. He’s even launched a housing scheme to support low-income locals. It’s hard to gather evidence to prove that Fisk is still up to no good, not least because the Kingpin uses Roxxon muscle to spy on judges - and other important officials – to ensure he has leverage on all of his potential enemies. The one judge that does side with Spidey soon ends up dead.

    Kingpin is also managing a smear campaign against Spidey during the book. He employs an imposter (who was given powers by an Oscorp experiment) to run around in a Spidey suit that’s almost identical to the real thing. This imposter, later revealed to be a deranged criminal named Bingham, blows up a restaurant and kills the innocent people within it. Bingham, who gives himself the comics-referencing name Blood Spider, is eventually defeated by Spidey and put in prison. Bingham is still alive, though, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the game.

    Fisk also has an adopted daughter in the book; a deaf woman with expert martial arts skills, named Maya Lopez, who Fisk took into his care after killing her mobster father. Maya is initially obsessed with taking down Spidey, because Fisk pinned the blame for her dad’s death on the wall-crawler. But Maya learns the truth when Spidey shows her the relevant police file, and, as a result, she decides to fight by his side as a superhero named Echo.

    Maya leaves town at the end of the book, having helped Spidey to stop Fisk’s latest scheme. Fisk was trying to blackmail Norman Osborn into giving him an official role as the city’s finance minister. Fisk reckoned that nabbing a governmental title and grabbing control of the city’s purse strings would make him “too big to fail”, but Maya destroyed the memory stick containing the blackmail. We never learn what the information on the memory stick entailed, but it is interesting to know that Fisk had something on Osborn. Again, we wouldn’t be surprised if that subplot reared its head again in the game.

    Spidey isn’t the only hero in town

    Spidey and Echo aren’t the only comic book heroes to be referenced in the Hostile Takeover book, either. It is made abundantly clear that numerous Marvel Comics characters inhabit this world. There are references and allusion all over the place, all of which support the popular fan theory that Spider-Man PS4 could spawn a shared universe of Marvel-inspired video games.

    Early on the book, a criminal confuses Spidey for Daredevil, which confirms without a doubt that The Man Without Fear exists in this world. This has us hoping that we could see these iconic red-suited heroes crossing paths, either in this game or a future title from Insomniac. (Just the possibility of that is enough to bring back fond memories of Daredevil’s cameo in Spidey’s first PS1 game.)

    The Spider-Man PS4 prequel book also makes reference to Avengers Tower and the Wakandan Embassy, both of which exist in this version of New York. That’s all the confirmation we need that Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Black Panther inhabit in the same world as this video game version of Spidey.

    Spidey also makes reference, during Hostile Takeover, to an old house on Bleecker Street that always gives him the creeps. He doesn’t seem to know that Doctor Strange famously lives on this road, within the iconic Sanctum Sanctorum. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Strange will show up in the game, of course, but it’s still a nice little Easter Egg.

    With any luck, this game will do a huge amount of business, enabling Insomniac to invest in more high-end video games based on the Marvel universe. We know that Black Cat, Miles Morales, and Silver Sable are slated to appear in the Spider-Man PS4 game (despite not being mentioned in the book), but there are so many other Marvel characters that also deserve a glossy game adaptation.

    Web-slinging is great, but you also need to be stealthy

    There are a few snippets in the book that tease what Spider-Man PS4’s gameplay will be like. Early on, for instance, Spidey explains that he has communications systems built into hit suit, which allow him to take calls and catch up with his contacts while fighting crooks at the same time. This read like a reference to the game itself, where presumably Spidey will field calls on the regular. (Can’t you just imagine Peter trying to talk normally to Aunt May while also taking down street thugs?)

    His Spidey-sense is also mentioned, with the wall-crawler describing it as sometimes being “on automatic." This makes him “barely aware” that he’s changing direction. Perhaps this is a reference to the game will work: if he builds up enough focus, will Spidey be able to dodge bullets and avoid enemies without much direction from the player?

    Stealth also seems to be a key component in this Spidey’s heroic activity. When he sneakily breaks into Fisk’s HQ, for example, Spider-Man has to web up the relevant security cameras and jam them into a specific position in order to pass by unseen. And in another chapter when he’s infiltrating a gala, Spidey picks the wrong moment to drop down from the ceiling and is immediately set upon by gunmen.

    During an exterior scene, Spidey offers a brief description of his car-pursuing tactics. In the old PS2 games, Spidey could land on any car roof without endangering his mission. But now, if Spidey doesn’t stay stealthy during chase-based tasks, he’ll be beeped at by drivers and lose the element of surprise.

    And, perhaps most excitingly, Spidey describes the experience of web-slinging as “alive and electric.” Swinging around the city makes him “full of the joy of movement and action.” We can’t wait to experience this for ourselves, as it’s been far too long since we experienced those kinetic joys on a PlayStation.

    The Fisk takedown is the game's first level

    In the final chapters of the book, Spidey teams up with Echo to defeat Bingham and destroy Fisk’s memory stick of blackmail materials. Now that he doesn’t have any leverage against Osborn, Fisk’s plan to hostilely takeover the city’s finances has well and truly been thwarted. This clears the path for Captain Watanabe to finish putting together her watertight file on Fisk’s criminal activity.

    In the epilogue to the book, Peter is awoken in his untidy apartment by a phone call from Watanabe. She’s calling to alert Spidey, who’s become her ally over the course of the book, that she’s heading to Fisk Tower with a warrant to take the big guy into custody. This time, it should stick.

    Spidey asks how he can help, and Watanabe gives him some instructions: the wall-crawler should head to Times Square and hold off Fisk’s goons, while Watanabe and her NYPD colleagues go into Kingpin's building and make the arrest. Excitedly swinging towards the scene to put Fisk away for the second time, Spidey absolutely jinxes his immediate future with the final words of the book. Assuming that he’s about to set the city straight, Spidey thinks to himself, “Life couldn’t get any crazier, right?”

    Having read a few reports by lucky folk who’ve already played the first few hours of Spider-Man PS4, it sounds like Spidey being summoned into action to assist with the takedown of Fisk is exactly where the game begins. What Spidey doesn’t know, at least when the book finishes, is that putting Fisk away will actually awaken the city’s criminal element. Fisk was – in his own weird way – keeping a lot of bad people in check.

    Things are indeed about to get a whole lot crazier for ol’ web-head, and we can’t wait to play through the mayhem for ourselves. Here’s hoping for a game that somehow lives up to our skyscraper-high expectations, which just swung up to heady new heights thanks to this prequel book’s teases.

    You can pre-order the Spider-Man PS4 game right here. 

    Here's the cover of the book...


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    With X-Force officially making their movie debut in Deadpool 2, we look at the history of the team.

    Feature Jim Dandy
    Aug 8, 2018

    For nearly a decade, the New Mutants were the second generation of Professor Charles Xavier’s students, the wide-eyed kids finding their way through a world that hated and feared them, and was also often a demon-infested hellscape and/or Asgard. But after nearly 100 issues, Marvel was itching for a change, so they handed the reins of New Mutants to a hot new artist named Rob Liefeld, who brought a new energy, new characters, and eventually a new name to the book, carving out a thematic niche for the team that would endure for the next 30 years.

    However, that niche was wide and held a lot of different variations in it. With X-Force making their screen debut in Deadpool 2 (sorta), and with Drew Goddard taking the reins of the upcoming X-Force movie (which will also feature Cable and Deadpool), we thought it would be worth looking at the various incarnations and iterations of X-Force, Marvel’s proactive, paramilitary-ish mutant team.

    X-Force

    The original X-Force team was a fairly logical outgrowth of the New Mutants. For years, Cannonball, Sunspot, Mirage, Magik, Cypher, Warlock, and Wolfsbane were stifled as teenage mutants trying to grow into  the second generation of mutant heroes at Xavier’s school. First under the tutelage of Professor Xavier, then under Magneto, the team was constantly rebelling against restrictions placed on them, even after those rebellions ended up getting a mess of them killed or horribly damaged.

    After leaving Magneto, and following a series of defections, deaths and new colleagues joining the team, they cast out on their own and were eventually taken under the wing of Cable, a mysterious mutant from the future, and trained not to be pacifist schoolchildren, but a preemptive strike force. The then-core team consisted of time-displaced military leader Cable; heart of the New Mutants and secretly the most popular guy in the Marvel universe Cannonball; ultimate survivor and friend of Beyonders Boom-Boom; and preternaturally fortunate mercenary Domino. They added former Hellion and younger brother of the deceased Thunderbird, Warpath; Feral, a savage, former Morlock cat lady; and Shatterstar, a Mojoverse refugee who carried two swords with parallel blades. They rebranded as X-Force and set out to influence the future by being proactive in their own time. That mission statement would stick: every reinvention of the team (but one) would be centered around using whatever means necessary to proactively protect mutantkind.

    Unfortunately, it wasn’t a very sustainable thesis for a long-term single run.

    Caught up in the tumult of real world bullpen politics, X-Forcesaw some significant changes early in its run, including the departure of its creator, Rob Liefeld, and a shift in publishing strategy towards editor-driven annual crossovers. The team added and lost members - Mirage, the Cheyenne former leader of the New Mutants; Rictor, an earthquake-causing geomorph; Siryn, Banshee’s daughter; and Sunspot, the rich Brazilian ex-New Mutant and best Avenger ever are among the most famous of the rotating cast. The ongoing changes eventually ground down the book’s identity, and while it went on being published for 100 issues, it lost the voice it burst onto the scene with and became just another X-Men book with a different cast.

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    This wave of X-Force had a dying gasp. Along with the rest of the X-comic line, there was a flurry of change ahead of the new movie and the impending anniversary issue, X-Men #100. X-Force, along with Generation X and X-Man were handed over to Warren Ellis, the legendary writer who was then hip-deep in Planetaryand Transmetropolitan. He turned Cannonball, Boom-Boom, Domino, Warpath, and Bedlam into a covert ops group handled by Pete Wisdom and the British government. This lasted for roughly 15 issues before the team, and the entire core concept behind it, were overhauled completely.

    X-Statix

    Marvel, crawling out of creative and financial bankruptcy, appointed almost entirely new leadership in their comic division around 2001. Joe Quesada, the new Editor-in-Chief, brought with him a former Vertigo editor, Axel Alonso, who himself brought his Vertigo sensibility to Marvel. That meant hiring some...odd picks...for his team books.

    Peter Milligan’s most famous work to this point had been a thoroughly weird revamp of Shade, the Changing Man, that was more a musing on mental illness than it was a superhero comic. Mike Allred created Madman, a deep indie superhero who was as much pop art as it was story. They were...not a natural fit for the paramilitary underground mutant group that X-Force had been, so Milligan, Allred and Alonso changed the team to be a send up of all millennial pop culture. Characters like Phat, U-Go Girl, or someone who DEFINITELY WASN’T a resurrected Princess Diana were a mix of Britney Spears and reality television stars. The book was a pretty savage takedown of pop culture and superhero comics, with the entire team being killed off more than once and the title changing from X-Force to X-Statix.

    Unfortunately, the book was also not a great seller, so despite its critical acclaim, the series was cancelled after two years and the X-Force name lay fallow for a bit.

    Check out the weirdest X-Force comics ever on Amazon

    Mutants with Knives and Claws

    Following a couple of original X-Force miniseries by creator Rob Liefeld, the X-line braintrust found a compelling story reason for reintroducing the team name to the world. After House of M depowered all but 200 of the world’s mutants, and a series of attacks by mutant hating foes The Purifiers killed a gaggle of the remaining students, the X-world went nuts when the first mutant in years was born in Alaska. Cyclops, teetering on the edge of becoming a full fledged revolutionary, pulled together a team to find and secure the baby, and eventually bring her to him. This team consisted of Caliban (clawed ex-Morlock with tracking powers), Warpath (giant inaugural X-Force member who carried two big knives), Wolfsbane (lycanthropic, clawed ex-New Mutant), Hepzibah (designated Sexy Cat Lady of the Starjammers, who had claws), Wolverine (you know this guy), and X-23 (Wolverine clone with knife claws in her knuckles and feet).

    Eventually, the baby was sent into the future with Cable, but Cyclops found having his own hit squad to be fairly useful, especially with the mass-murdering Purifiers still in the world, so he kept them around as his black ops team. The team eventually gained several members, including Elixir, Domino, Archangel and Vanisher, while others left or were dropped, like Wolfsbane or Hepzibah. Craig Kyle and Chris Yost wrote this as a sort of follow up to their prior X-work - they previously helmed New X-Men: Academy X where they were the writers responsible for a teenage bloodbath, killing somewhere in the vicinity of 50 students of Xavier’s school in their tenure. The Purifiers were responsible for most of those deaths, so naturally they spend a good chunk of this run getting ripped to shreds.

    Clayton Crain digitally painted the majority of these issues, and his dark colors matched the book’s tone well. Eventually during Second Coming, the existence of Cyclops’ personal hit squad was revealed, forcing him to disband and disavow X-Force.

    They got better, though.

    Uncanny X-Force

    There is a superhero comics criticism theory that says that cape stories cycle every 20 years or so - that Marvel tries to recreate Peter Parker for every generation of readers, or that Grant Morrison was just riffing on Chris Claremont’s five big stories. Rick Remender and Jerome Opena took over the X-Force team in 2010, and, following this theory, started mining Apocalypse’s lore for everything he was worth. The major difference between Uncanny X-Force and its ‘90s ancestors is this book is one of the greatest X-Men comics of all time.

    Remender’s Uncanny X-Force follows on the heels of Yost/Kyle’s, and takes a somewhat different team off to a dark corner of the X-Men universe. It opens with Wolverine, Psylocke, Deadpool, Archangel, and Fantomex as they discover that Apocalypse, the evil, immortalish mutant responsible for some of the greatest horrors in mutant history, was being reincarnated by the cult dedicated to his worship. When they arrive, they discover that Apocalypse is actually a preteen being groomed to develop into En Sabah Nur, and what follows is the superhero equivalent of a “Should we kill baby Hitler” argument. Fantomex tires of the argument, and shoots the kid in the head. The rest of the series has the team deal with the fallout of this decision: musings on fate and destiny; the slow descent of one of their own into Apocalypse’s heir; a deep, DEEP continuity dive on Apocalypse’s history in all its multiversal forms; the weaponization of the Superman myth to save the world; and two of the most heartbreaking death scenes in any comic ever.

    This series more than any other was the logical goal of the X-Force line of mutant storytelling. It was a deconstruction of the “proactive paramilitary group” trope, weaved together with bits of X-Men lore and some cool Deathlok stuff. If you haven’t read it yet, this is HIGHLY recommended.

    Read Uncanny X-Force on Amazon

    Cable’s Return

    The critical acclaim that Remender’s Uncanny X-Force brought led to Marvel trying to cash in on its popularity. They followed it up with two books: a second volume of Uncanny X-Force, where Psylocke, Bishop, Storm, Puck (from Alpha Flight) and ⅔ of Fantomex, where the thrust of the story was about Psylocke trying to accept or move past her self-identification as a killer after the events of the previous series. The other book was Cable & X-Force, where Cable led a team with Dr. Nemesis, Colossus, Domino, Hope, Boom Boom and Forge.

    This team operated in a more similar way to the traditional X-Force mission statement: Cable’s powers had gone awry, giving him glimpses into the near future. He used this team to try and prevent the visions from coming to pass. Neither of these books were terribly substantive (though Cable & X-Force did introduce a relationship between Colossus and Domino that turned out to be a lot of fun), and both were cancelled after a year and a half or so.

    X-Force proper had one last gasp before its current status. Simon Spurrier and Rock-He Kim reimagined the team as the intelligence service for a newly sovereign mutant race. He took Cable, Psylocke, Marrow, Fantomex, and Dr. Nemesis, and matched them with new member MeMe (a sentient computer program), and had them battle underground threats to the mutant race, like a Russian businessman repowering former mutants and turning them into weapons, or Strikeforce Morituri. Really.

    This version of X-Force was interesting, but not exactly a sales darling. It was cancelled in 2015 after 15 issues, and the X-Force moniker has not been used to headline a book since.

    Uncanny X-...Men?

    In recent years, as the X-Men line has edged closer to creative and financial insolvency, Marvel decided to take the concept of a proactive group of mutants doing morally questionable things and made that the point of the entire line of comics. Following the detonation of a Terrigen bomb, the X-Men found themselves in a world that hated and feared them that was also poisonous to them. The majority of the X-Men retreated to Limbo, while a small group (Magneto, Psylocke, M, Mystique, Fantomex and a reformed/inverted don’t ask Sabretooth) did “whatever it took” to protect mutants on Earth. Because this was the main theme of the entire X-Line, this team was published under the name Uncanny X-Men, and recently wrapped following the big IvX crossover where the X-Men fought the Inhumans and their oldest, deadliest foe: a cloud.

    It’s not good, and it was scrapped when the most recent relaunch, ResurrXion, kicked off.

    Movie X-Force

    With New Mutants and Deadpool 2 wrapped, Fox signed Drew Goddard (of Daredevil and The Martian fame) to take over development of X-Force as the next property in their slate of X-movies, and judging by early news, his take will fall right in the middle of the spirit implied by the name. Goddard said the new team will be a mutant black ops group led by Deadpool and Cable, with founding members Domino and Shatterstar, while the rest of the team may be a kind of ragtag group of mutants we meet in Deadpool 2. It sounds like if you’re a long-time fan of X-Force teams, it’s okay to be cautiously optimistic about the movie version.

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    The cast & creators of You discuss subverting the Nice Guy trope, making unwitting parallels to Gossip Girl, and changes from the book.

    Feature Kayti Burt
    Aug 8, 2018

    This article contains spoilers for Gossip Girl. Just so you know...

    You, both the 2014 novel by Caroline Kepnes and the TV adaptation set to debut on Lifetime next month, 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."

    Read the latest Den of Geek Special Edition Magazine Here!

    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..."

    You premieres on September 9th on Lifetime. The book is available for purchase on Amazon or your local independent bookstore.


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    Looking for a good science fiction read? Check out these new science fiction books released in August 2018.

    The ListsKayti Burt
    Aug 8, 2018

    Books, books, books! Summer is a great time to dive into science fiction and explore other worlds. Here are some of the science fiction books coming out in August that we are most looking forward to here at Den of Geek.

    Join the Den of Geek Book Club!

    Best New Science Fiction Books in August 2018

    Before She Sleeps by Bina Shah

    Type: Standalone
    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.

    Read Before She Sleeps by Bina Shah

    Rogue Protocol: The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells

    Type: Third book in The Murderbot Diaries series
    Publisher: Tor.com
    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.

    Read Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells

    Ball Lightning by Cixin Liu (translated by Joel Martinsen)

    Type: Standalone
    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.

    Read Ball Lightning by Cixin Liu

    Stars Uncharted by S.K. Dunstall

    Type: Standalone
    Publisher: Ace
    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 . . .

    Read Stars Uncharted by S.K. Dunstall

    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.

    Read Noumenon Infinity by Marina J. Lostetter

    The Stars Now Unclaimed by Drew Williams

    Type: Standalone
    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 . . .

    Read The Stars Now Unclaimed by Drew Williams

    The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal

    Type: Second book in The Lady Astronaut series
    Publisher: Tor Books
    Release date: August 21st

    Listen to our interview with Mary Robinette Kowal.

    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.

    Read The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal

    Terra Incognita: Three Novellas by Connie Willis

    Type: Standalone
    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.

    Read Terra Incognita: Three Novellas by Connie Willis


    Vox by Christina Dalcher

    Type: Standalone
    Publisher: Berkley
    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.

    Read Vox by Christina Dalcher

    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.

    Buy The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

    Black Chamber by S.M. Stirling

    Type: Standalone (so far)
    Publisher: Ace 
    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...

    Read Black Chamber by S.M. Stirling

    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?

    Read Space Unicorn Blues by TJ Berry 

    Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio

    Type: First in the Sun Eater series
    Publisher: DAW
    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.

    Read Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio

    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.

    Read I Only Killed Him Once by Adam Christopher

    Latchkey by Nicole Kornher-Stace

    Type: Second book in the Archivist Wasp series
    Publisher: Mythic Delirium Books
    Release date: July 10

    Read our review of Latchkey by Nicole Kornher-Stace.

    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.

    Read Latchkey by Nicole Kornher-Stace

    Infinity's End, Edited by Jonathan Strahan

    Type: Final anthology in The Infinity Project series
    Publisher: Solaris
    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.

    Read Infinity's End

    Condomnauts by Yoss (translated by David Frye)

    Type: Standalone
    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.

    Read Condomnauts by Yoss


    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.

    Read Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers

    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.

    Read A Study in Honor by Claire O'Dell

    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.

    Read Free Chocolate by Amber Royer

    Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee

    Type: Third book in the Machineries of Empire trilogy
    Publisher: Solaris
    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...

    Read Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee

    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.

    Read The Robots of Gotham by Todd McAulty

    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.

    Read Thrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn

    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.

    Read Apocalypse Nyx by Kameron Hurley


    A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe by Alex White

    Type: First book in Salvagers series
    Publisher: Orbit
    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.

    Read A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe by Alex White

    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.


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    Looking for a good fantasy read? Here are some of the best new fantasy books to be released in August 2018.

    The ListsKayti Burt
    Aug 8, 2018

    Summer, 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-anticpated August fantasy read on the list?

    Join the Den of Geek Book Club!

    Best New Fantasy Books in August 2018

    Temper by Nicky Drayden

    Type: Standalone
    Publisher: Harper Voyager
    Release date: August 7th

    Read our full Temper by Nicky Drayden review.

    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.

    Two brothers.
    Seven vices.
    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.

    Read Temper by Nicky Drayden

    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?

    Read Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas


    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.

    Read Privateer by Margaret Weis & Robert Krammes

    The Black God's Drums by P. Djèlí Clark

    Type: Novella
    Publisher: Tor.com
    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.

    Read The Black God's Drums by P. Djèlí Clark

    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. . . .

    Read Hollywood Dead by Richard Kadrey

    Ravencry by Ed McDonald

    Type: Second book in the Raven's Mark series
    Publisher: Ace
    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...

    Read Ravencry by Ed McDonald

    The Fall of Gondolin by J.R.R. Tolkien (edited by Christopher Tolkien)

    Type: Standalone
    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.

    Read The Fall of Gondolin by J.R.R. Tolkien

    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.

    Read City of Lies by Sam Hawke

    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.

    Read The Book of Hidden Things by Francesco Dimitri

    Heroine's Journey by Sarah Kuhn

    Type: Third book in the Heroine Complex series
    Publisher: DAW
    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...

    Read Heroine's Journey by Sarah Kuhn

    The Empire of Ashes by Anthony Ryan

    Type: Third book in the Draconis Memoria series
    Publisher: Ace
    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.

    Read The Empire of Ashes by Anthony Ryan

    European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman by Theodora Goss

    Type: Second book in the Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club series
    Publisher: Saga
    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.

    Read European Travel For the Monstrous Gentlewoman by Theodora Goss

    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.

    Read Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

    Deep Roots by Ruthanna Emrys

    Type: Second book in the Innsmouth Legacy series
    Publisher: Tor.com
    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.

    Read Deep Roots by Ruthanna Emrys

    Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell

    Type: First book in Spellslinger series
    Publisher: Orbit
    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.

    Read Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell

    The Girl in the Green Silk Gown by Seanan McGuire

    Type: Second book in Ghost Roads series
    Publisher: DAW
    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.

    Read The Girl in the Green Silk Gown by Seanan McGuire

    The Descent of Monsters by JY Yang

    Type: Third book in Tensorate series
    Publisher: Tor.com
    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?

    Read The Descent of Monsters by JY Yang

    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.

    Read Vicious by V.E. Schwab

    Brief Cases by Jim Butcher

    Type: Short stories from the Dresden Files series
    Publisher: Ace
    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. 

    Read Brief Cases by Jim Butcher

    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.

    Read The Memory of Fire by Callie Bates

    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...

    Read The Traitor God by Cameron Johnston

    A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir 

    Type: Third book in the An Ember in the Ashes series
    Publisher: Razorbill
    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.

    Read A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

    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.

    Buy Starless by Jacqueline Carey

    Witchmark by C.L. Polk

    Type: Standalone (so far)
    Publisher: Tor.com 
    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

    Read our interview with Rebecca Roanhorse on Indigenous Futurism in Trail of Lightning

    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.

    Read Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

    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.


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    Physicists are using comic books to garner interest in science at Comic-Con.

    News Alejandro Rojas
    Aug 8, 2018

    Half of the phrase science-fiction is science. However, at an event bursting at the seams with science-fiction, it can be hard to find some actual science. In the sea of booths in the ginormous exhibit hall at San Diego Comic-Con, there is one booth championing this cause, and using tools familiar to Comic-Con goers to garner interest in science and physics, and careers in those fields.

    The American Physical Society (APS) has had a presence at Comic-Con for several years. The APS is a non-profit physics society with over 55,000 members. Besides providing outlets for scientists to publish papers and hold meetings, they also work to educate the public on the importance of science and physics.

    At their website PhysicsCentral.com, APS also seeks to “communicate the excitement and importance of physics to everyone.” One way they do that is with comic books. On their website, you can download and read them, or you can purchase hard copies. If you were lucky enough to visit their booth at Comic-Con, you could pick up free copies, and they were even giving out free LED lights and attaching them to lanyards.

    Their main comic book is called Spectra. The protagonist, Lucy, is a middle schooler whose parents are laser scientists. Somehow, Lucy obtained the powers of a laser beam, so she created a superhero alter ego, Spectra, to use her power for good.

    The comic book is authored by Rebecca Thompson, who holds a Ph.D. in physics and is also the head of public outreach for APS. She also mysteriously looks a lot like a grownup version of Lucy in the comic book. Thompson dresses up as Spectra at Comic-Con. According to Thompson, Spectra has grown a fan base at Comic-Con.

    “Spectra holds her own,” Thompson says. “There are plenty of fans of Iron Man, Rick and Morty, and Black Panther, but Spectra has her following too. We have people coming to our booth year after year to make sure they have the complete collection.”

    Another cool aspect of the Spectra comic books is that they encourage kids to participate in hands-on science experiments. They work as a companion piece to APS PhysicsQuest, a program that provides free activity kits to 6th to 9th graders and physical science teachers.

    “All the associated experiments are online, including lists of materials,” says Thomson. “Or, like a lot of kids and adults, you can enjoy Spectra’s adventures whether or not you do the experiments. Be careful though, you still might learn some physics.”

    At their booth, APS also provided science all-age coloring books and a comic book about Nikola Tesla. Tesla is a bit of a science hero these days. He is often portrayed as the underdog scientific genius whose mind is too full of science to understand the business world, which causes his work to be taken advantage of. The APS comic book portrays this as well, illustrating Tesla’s struggle to promote AC electricity competing with the likes of Thomas Edison and other unscrupulous business moguls.

    We would not have science-fiction if it were not for science. Not just because the word makes up half of the phrase, but also because scientific advancement created the genre of imagining what worlds could exist given our scientific discoveries and the potential for the future science may one day provide. However, we need people doing science to get there, and APS is doing their best to encourage Comic-Con goers young and old to take a peek into this wondrous world. 


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    Syfy's Krypton is more than just a Superman prequel, it's a science fiction show with its own set of rules.

    Feature Mike Cecchini
    Aug 9, 2018

    Since it was first announced, Syfy’s upcoming series Krypton has had an uphill climb. The latest in a line of place-specific, high-concept superhero prequels like Smallville or Gotham, Krypton is perhaps the hardest sell. While Smallville was the story of a pre-Superman Clark Kent with “no tights, no flights,” and Gotham is simply the story of the city and its colorful cops and robbers in the days before Bruce Wayne put on a pair of pointy ears, Krypton takes a starkly different approach by going 200 years into the past to tell the story of Superman’s grandfather.

    But visiting the sets of Krypton, and listening to the cast and executive producer Cameron Welsh expound on the quest to make the world of Krypton live—and not just as a DC Universe show, but as a piece of science fiction that could stand on its own—convinced me that this show could work. Think of Krypton less as a Superman prequel and more of a science fiction TV show that gives audiences the opportunity to discover a strange and alien world. And make no mistake, the series is exploring elements of Kryptonian society in more detail than we’ve ever seen on screen or page.

    Welsh is acutely aware of the pressure on his series, and the need for it to tell its own compelling story. “Maybe I'm biased but I think there's plenty of interest in the world of Krypton without Superman,” he says. “We haven't really seen much of this world before, and it's just this open book [that] allows us to tell a story that hasn't been told.”

    ***

    Even after 40 years, the dominant impression of Krypton in pop culture is the icy sterility of Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie. To be sure, there are some echoes of that (and, for that matter, 2013’s Man of Steel as well as other comics and cartoons) in TV’s Krypton. But this isn’t a pristine, frozen, or sterile world. It’s dirty, lived in, imperfect, and politically complex.

    ”We're just peeling back a lot more layers than what we've seen before,” Welsh says. “Part of what is exciting about doing this is that we get to get really specific and really detailed and really into this world.”

    And they certainly do. To the smallest detail, the planet Krypton lives on its soundstages in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The streets of the show’s key city, Kandor, have alleys and market squares for characters (and journalists) to wander through, all designed with an attention to detail that demonstrates a real love of sci-fi and fantasy. Whether it’s the remnants of posters torn and hanging in a bar (a source of debate, as Welsh points out, since “we don’t use paper anywhere else in the show”), the Kryptonian graffiti on the walls (“I trust the art department haven’t written anything offensive,” he jokes),  the weird rodent/insect hybrids (“full of protein”) cooked over blue crystals (“you'll see steam and smoke, but instead of naked flame, they use these blue crystals”) in the street market, or Kryptonian lettering that spells out “take two drops a day, seven days a week” on vials of medicine, Krypton feels more concerned with building its world than blowing it up.

    Kryptonian citizens are divided into different guilds. There are guilds for technicians, lawmakers, scientists, the military, artisans, scientists, and clergy. The lower classes are known as the “rankless.” They belong to no guild and live in relative squalor in the literal underside of Kandor. The rankless denizens prowl crowded and darkened streets, forever in the shadow of Kandor’s skyscrapers. As your social status increases, the higher you literally rise in Kandor. The lawmakers and clergy occupy living quarters that are closer to the light of Krypton’s sun god, Rao.

    These lower streets of Kandor are known as the “rankless” district, indicative of one of the key sources of conflict on the show: a class struggle that is reflected in virtually every element of Krypton’s design. A recurring feature is a porous, mesh-like metal that makes up everything from chairs and tables to bars and dividing walls. This is apparently the cheapest, most durable material available, and it’s far more common in the rankless areas than it is in the upper echelons of society.

    Appropriately, even up above, it never really seems to be midday on Krypton. There’s always the muted warmth of late afternoon, indicative of the diminished light of a giant red sun. But it’s down in that rankless district that we first meet Seg-El, Superman’s grandfather, an angry young man paying for his grandfather’s “crime,” his rank and family station stripped away by Krypton’s ruling class.

    Seg-El is played by Cameron Cuffe, and they couldn’t have found a more appropriate or enthusiastic actor for the part. Whenever someone is cast for a superhero or comic book adjacent role, they’re always quick to pay lip service to the source material, the expectations of fans, and the responsibilities that come with the role. But Cuffe is more than a casual fan; he’s fluent in DC Comics mythology in general and Superman in particular (unsurprisingly, he cites the influential Superman work of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank among his favorites, along with Mark Waid and Alex Ross’ Kingdom Come), and it’s clear that he’s utterly sincere about the importance of playing Seg-El.

    “The interesting thing about Seg as a hero is that he's not fully formed,” Cuffe says. “He doesn't always know right from wrong. The only thing he really has in his life are people he loves. And so when he is finally motivated to come out of that shell, and to prove that he has to be a hero, it's a role that he doesn't really know he can fill. He doesn't think he's the guy. But he does it anyway, and that ultimately is what being a hero is.”

    While fans know that Seg-El’s eventual son, Jor-El, becomes one of the most revered scientists in Kryptonian history, when we meet Seg, there’s little to indicate the family destiny is anything so lofty. “One of Superman's greatest powers is that he knows right from wrong, and Seg doesn't,” Cuffe says. “He doesn't know the way forward. Most of the time he has no idea what he's doing. He's just buckling down and holding onto it, and believing in whatever he can believe in, in that moment. And he waivers. He questions himself all the time. But ultimately he stays the course.”

    Welsh, on the other hand, sees Seg-El as a potential revolutionary, someone who could “usher in a new golden age” for Krypton. “Part of what we explore in the show is what makes these people special,” Welsh says. “And a lot of that is the House of El and the legacy of the House of El. And when we start our show, we see that Seg is kind of detached from that, having been sort of cast out into the rankless. He's disconnected from his past and from his legacy and that's a bit of a journey for him to discover: What that legacy is, what it means to be an El, what the Els have always stood for, and what he'll learn.”

    Seg-El’s resentment of Krypton’s upper class comes with good reason. The House of El is a victim of irrational laws imposed by Kandor’s rulers. Kandor is a theocracy, something incongruous with broader Superman mythology, which has always portrayed Krypton as a planet dominated by science and reason. But here, Kandor’s head of state, who serves above all members of the Lawmaker’s Guild, is the Voice of Rao. The Voice is an eerie, robed figure wearing a multi-faced gold mask which represents Rao’s victory over Krypton’s previous, polytheistic gods and goddesses.

    “I think, in the world that we live in, when we look at the roles of religion in society, these can be kind of hot issues that can sort of divide people in a lot of ways,” Welsh says. “We're sensitive to that, but we sort of want to look at those things. That's part of the role of science fiction, to help hold up a bit of a mirror to contemporary society but also be entertaining at the same time. It's like, you don't wanna know that you're eating your vegetables.”

    Thanks to theocratic rule, this technologically advanced society has not only shut down its space program, but interstellar exploration is banned by Kryptonian law. We all know how that turns out for them 200 years later. “This is a world where… nobody believes in the existence of aliens,” Welsh says. “In this theocracy, the Voice of Rao has basically stated that the god Rao created all life, and Krypton is the totality of his creation… there is nothing else beyond it. So to speak of life outside of Krypton is heresy.”

    Symbolically, the “Watchtower,” an enormous platform protruding from one of the tallest structures in Kandor (the Lawmaker’s Guild’s “tower of justice”), was once a space docking station. Now it is used to execute those who dare suggest that Kryptonians can or should explore the stars. One of those heretics is Val-El (played by Game of Thrones’ Ser Barristan Selmy himself, Ian McElhinney), Superman’s great-great grandfather, who is sent to his doom at the edge of the Watchtower in the opening moments of the first episode for defying the will of Rao, bringing about the downfall of the House of El.

    That Watchtower is one of Krypton’s nearly full scale sets, and while it isn’t located hundreds of feet in the air, it’s still an enormous, almost intimidating piece of work, even surrounded by green screens, the ultimate signifier of TV and movie magic. You could park a spaceship there, although during my visit, a nearly life-sized “skimmer” (a Kryptonian high speed aircraft) was nearby, likely to make use of the aforementioned green screens.

    But in fantasy and science fiction, you’re only as good as the little details, and Raoism, with all the attendant religious trappings therein, has been carefully considered, right down to its holidays. “One of the things we'll see is what we call the Nova Cycle celebration,” Welsh says. “The Nova Cycle is all about rebirth and it's almost like a festival of light or something, and it kind of goes on for weeks and weeks. There are different stages to it and different ceremonies involved, and people were asked to give offerings and things like that at different stages. Prisoners are always pardoned by Rao's grace, things like that.”

    Of course nothing could challenge Rao’s central philosophy more than actual alien contact, and that’s exactly what happens when an Earthman named Adam Strange (played by Shaun Sipos) shows up to inform Seg-El that he’s traveled through space and time to deliver a warning: A far more dangerous alien is also approaching, and it’s called “Brainiac.” Brainiac is a powerful artificial intelligence/cybernetic organism who roams the stars collecting data on civilizations… before destroying them. His preferred method of collection is to remove an entire city from the surface of a world, shrink it, “bottle” it, and store it and its collected knowledge in his ship.

    Blake Ritson, who plays Brainiac, certainly did his homework. In the course of a conversation with reporters, he namechecks Koko, the space monkey from Brainiac’s earliest comic book adventures; the character’s unfortunate early “pink spandex” costume; and quotes chapter-and-verse dialogue from Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s excellent Brainiac story from 2007. Ritson has given Brainiac considerable thought and promises that there's no "mustache-twirling" in his version of the character.

    "I've played a number of villains over the years," he says. "Generally, in life, you consider yourself to be the hero of your own narrative. I think you need to find a way into the perspective of a character, where what they're doing is essentially noble at some level."

    How noble can he be if he plans to destroy an entire planet in order to prevent the existence of our world's greatest hero?

    While still 200 years from its final cataclysm, there are indicators that Krypton is already dying. Some kind of cataclysm took place in the even more distant past, which has rendered vast swaths of the planet frozen, virtually uninhabitable wastelands. Krypton’s nine city-states, of which Kandor is one, live under domes that protect them from the elements. The outer regions, known as the Outlands, are labyrinthine sets covered in “snow” and the remains of unrecognizable (but somewhat familiar) beasts. But it’s in these frozen outlands that another familiar piece of the Superman legend lives: this show’s version of the Fortress of Solitude.

    This Fortress was Val-El’s hidden refuge, where he could conduct his illegal scientific experimentations about the nature of the universe, undisturbed by Kryptonian theocrats. That’s a fun twist on the Fortress concept, and seeing the set itself was breathtaking for this Superman fan.

    The Fortress is a full-scale set, semi-circular, with a 40-foot ceiling dominated by two 30-foot tall statues representing the first of the line of the House of El. The Fortress’ open, uncluttered design, bathed in blue-ish light, is both a contrast with the claustrophobic feel of the rankless district and a choice that helps it feel even bigger than it already is. The set may appear somewhat minimalist in its decor at first, but a closer look reveals little details from cosmic DC lore scattered throughout, including a Black Mercy from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ classic Superman story, “For the Man Who Has Everything.” The enormous, nearly floor-to-ceiling oval windows, when illuminated, are decorated in Kryptonian lettering. If you can translate Kryptonese, each window tells the story of a different member of the House of El throughout history, like a Kryptonian Stations of the Cross.

    “[Seg] will learn that the Els have, for many, many generations, been woven into the fabric of Krypton and they're part of what makes Krypton special, and he'll start to learn that he's part of that lineage,” Welsh says. “It's part of what helps ignite him and push him into his hero's journey… as he sort of discovers who he is and what he wants to do.”

    Of course there are always those who are going to point out that we know how Krypton’s story ends (with a bang). But with the show set in the planet’s distant past, even a successful multi-season run is unlikely to ever reach that point. But there’s another wrinkle to the story: time travel. When a familiar DC character from the present arrives on the Krypton of the past, bearing warnings of the future, things get complicated. “The show very quickly goes from being about this look into the past into a show that has stakes in the present day,” Welsh explains. “It's been a bit of an odd duck in that way. It is still in the past but it affects [the] present day and present day Earth. It's really fun to write that.”

    For fans of Superman and science fiction, it might be just as fun to watch.

    Krypton premieres on March 21 on Syfy. We'll have much more from our set visit in the coming weeks.

    Follow Mike Cecchini on Twitter. After all, how many people do you get to talk to who have actually been to Krypton?


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    We're tracking down every single Marvel Universe and X-Men reference in Deadpool 2. Please help. For the love of God, help.

    Feature Gavin Jasper
    Aug 10, 2018

    This article consists of nothing but Deadpool 2 spoilers. We have a spoiler free review here if you prefer.

    The Marvel Brolinsance continues with the release of Deadpool 2. Much like its predecessor, it mixes R-rated action, R-rated humor, a dash of pathos, and lots of references and meta jokes. It’s another movie in the X-Men Cinematic Universe featuring bottom of the barrel characters. In other words, there’s a ton of Easter eggs and trivia references sewn into this bad boy.

    Best we could, here’s a reference guide. This goes without saying, but spoilers galore. Even for movies other than Deadpool 2! The first shot of the movie is a reference to how Loganended!

    THE CHARACTERS

    DEADPOOL

    So Wade Wilson, New Mutants #98, blah blah, Deathstroke ripoff, etc. We know all that. So what references do we get from this movie?

    - Early on, Wade discusses how horrible his father was. This is 2/3 on point to the comics. In the comics, there were three different takes on what Wade’s father was like. First there’s the Christopher Priest take, where Wade’s father was a lowlife who walked out on him when he was a child. Then Fabian Nicieza had his own version where Wade’s father was a strict, albeit well-meaning, military man who died trying to pull Wade away from hanging out with a dangerous crowd.

    Gerry Duggan later insisted that those were false memories. There was nothing especially wrong with Wade’s father, though Deadpool unknowingly killed him as part of a memory-wiping experiment.

    - Deadpool prepares for his first job in the movie by listening to “X Gone Give it to You” by DMX, which was a prominent theme to the first movie.

    - Deadpool popping out of a coffin to assassinate someone was done in Deadpool Team-Up #898, as part of an alliance with the Zapata Brothers.

    - Deadpool’s frustration at being suicidal and being unable to see it through is a regular occurrence in the comics. The first movie’s earlier draft even had a segment dedicated to Wade trying to off himself again and again and constantly failing due to his healing factor. This segment appears in the Super Duper Cut of Deadpool 2.

    - As an X-Men trainee, Deadpool wears an ugly team outfit over his own. This is similar to a story arc in Deadpool #16 from the Daniel Way run where Deadpool insisted on joining the X-Men.

    - The red motor scooter Deadpool rides is actually a thing from the comics. He rode it around in Deadpool #68 and even appeared on the cover with it along with Taskmaster.

    - Deadpool tries deflecting Cable’s bullets with his katanas at one point, only to realize that several of them made it through his torso. His movements are exactly like Wade Wilson’s swordplay in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

    - Towards the end of the movie, Deadpool is covered with ash and his red costume becomes gray. This ends up making him look like how he dresses in the Rick Remender X-Force series. Coincidentally, he joined the team in response to Cable’s supposed death.

    VANESSA

    - Vanessa did also die in the comics, albeit under very, very different circumstances. In Deadpool #59 by Frank Tieri and Georges Jeanty, Deadpool was given the order by Weapon X to kill Vanessa, otherwise known as the mutant Copycat. Deadpool refused and instead tried to defend her against their various soldiers. Vanessa ended up being mauled to death by Sabretooth and, much like the movie, died in Wade’s arms.

    Shockingly, despite the first movie’s popularity, Vanessa was never brought back in the comics and only got one mention since.

    CABLE

    - Cable, real name Nathan Summers, made his first adult appearance in New Mutants #87 as created by Louise Simonson and Rob Liefeld. A mysterious time traveler, he was later revealed to be the son of Scott Summers and Madeline Pryor (a clone of Jean Grey). He was raised in a horrifying future ruled by Apocalypse and dedicated himself to going back in time to prevent that reality from ever taking place.

    The movie doesn’t really get into much about what he’s about, but to be fair, the comics took their time on that too. The '90s X-Men cartoon never even got around to explaining who he was, only giving us the occasional hint that he had something to do with Cyclops and Jean.

    - Fun fact: for people who got to see early screenings of Deadpool 2, it came with a video of Deadpool begging us not to check Cable’s Wikipedia page because it’s too much of a mindfuck.

    - So what do we know about Cable’s future? He mentions that it’s about 50 years later (which would make him age appropriate to be Cyclops’ kid without having to send him further into the future like in the comics), though grown-up Firefist appears to be plenty younger. Despite the claim that the world is ruined, we never get a good look at what that entails.

    - Cable mentions his daughter’s name is Hope. Hope Summers is a character introduced in X-Men #205, created by Mike Carey and Chris Bachalo. After the events of M-Day and the near extinction of the mutant race (more on that later), Hope was the first baby born with the mutant gene. Cable found her and protected her, mainly from Bishop. Cable and Hope traveled through various eras with Cable raising Hope until she became a teenager. Eventually, she returned to the present.

    - Cable’s rivalry with Bishop had Cable on the opposite side of the conflict compared to Deadpool 2. For Bishop, Hope’s existence would lead to his own horrible future, so he was dedicated to killing her before it was too late.

    - With Cable being played by Josh Brolin, there are at least two references to Brolin’s previous roles. Deadpool calls him “One-Eyed Willy,” a legendary pirate from The Goonies, which starred Brolin. The other is Deadpool calling him “Thanos,” what with that being his other huge comic movie role these days.

    - Deadpool calls Cable “John Connor,” due to his similarities to, well, everything involving the Terminatorfranchise.

    We wrote lots more on Cable right here.

    FIREFIST

    Russell Collins, played by Julian Dennison, is essentially a hybrid of different characters.

    - In the comics, Firefist was introduced in X-Factor #1 by Bob Layton and Jackson Guice. A fit, white teen in slacks who physically looks nothing like his cinematic counterpart, Rusty was a pretty generic part of the X-family until leaving to join Magneto’s side as an Acolyte. He died back in the mid-90s.

    - He actually has more in common with his animated counterpart from the X-Men cartoon. There, he was a boy living in a corrupt orphanage headed by Zebediah Killgrave.

    - Russell shares a lot in common with Johnny, a little boy who appeared briefly in Deadpool’s initial solo series. In Deadpool #58, a mutant boy’s fire powers went out of control and Weapon X (now with Deadpool as a member) went to go investigate. Deadpool was able to talk the boy down from his rampage, but Garrison Kane took advantage of the situation and murdered the kid, much to Deadpool’s fury.

    - Thematically, Russell is more based on Evan Sabahnur, codename Genesis. An incarnation of X-Force featuring Deadpool was sent on a mission to kill the reincarnation of Apocalypse. The target ended up being a child, who was being fed propaganda from Apocalypse cultists. Fantomex shot and killed the boy, which awakened nothing but disgust in Deadpool, as killing a kid was over the line for him.

    Secretly, Fantomex cloned the child and tried to use virtual reality to raise him as a Clark Kent-like farm boy. Named Evan Sabahnur, he was eventually enrolled in the X-Men’s school. Evan eventually became part of a plot where his rise to villainy would lead to a Minority Report dystopian future. Instead, Wolverine and Deadpool were able to get through to Evan and convince him to be a force of good. Since then, Deadpool has at times acted as a father figure to the boy.

    DOMINO

    - As a concept, Domino, real name Neena Thurman, was introduced in the same issue as Deadpool: New Mutants #98, by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld. In actuality, “Domino” was Vanessa/Copycat in disguise. The real Domino didn’t show up until about a year later in X-Force #8. Domino has been a regular associate to Cable and has teamed up with Deadpool on occasion. At most, she only tolerates Deadpool.

    - Deadpool rants about her luck-based powers and how stupid they are, at one point claiming that such an idea would come from some guy who can’t even draw feet. This is an obvious reference to Deadpool and Domino’s co-creator Rob Liefeld, who is constantly made fun of for his difficulties in drawing convincing feet, which more often than not means seeing feet obscured or cropped out of his panels.

    - In the Super Duper Cut, Deadpool and Domino's argument over whether or not luck is a superpower ends up hitting Bugs Bunny territory when Domino suddenly claims it isn't a superpowers just so Deadpool will admit that it is.

    We have even more info on Domino right here.

    JUGGERNAUT

    - Cain Marko, the Unstoppable Juggernaut, was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. His first appearance was in X-Men #12. In the comics, Juggernaut is depicted as being a force of magic and not one created from a biological mutation. He already appeared in X3: X-Men United, as played by Vinnie Jones.

    - The credits claim that Juggernaut is played by “himself.”

    - Conversation between Juggernaut and Russell establishes that in the movies, Cain Marko and Charles Xavier are step-brothers and that Juggernaut wears the helmet to protect himself from his psychic attacks. The familial connection was completely ignored in X3, though the two only shared one scene.

    - Juggernaut fought Deadpool a couple times early on in the comics before Deadpool had his own ongoing series. By the time Deadpool had his own series, writer Joe Kelly decided that Juggernaut would be too obvious to use. Juggernaut later appeared at Wade’s funeral during hte Frank Tieri run.

    - Juggernaut tearing Deadpool in half just may be a reference to the memorable opening sequence to Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk #1 where Hulk tore Wolverine in half in similar fashion. Hey, it wouldn’t be the only Hulk/Juggernaut comparison in this movie.

    - Colossus vs. Juggernaut is a regular occurrence in X-Men lore. Much like in this movie, Juggernaut is a league above Colossus and tends to outfight him at every turn.

    X-FORCE

    - Another Nicieza/Liefeld creation, the team X-Force was introduced as a rebranding/spinoff of New Mutants after that comic hit its 100th issue. The team has had many different incarnations, but the main take has been a more fascist take on the X-Men to contrast with Xavier’s more defensive MO. One of the original team members is Cannonball, who the cinematic version of Negasonic Teenage Warhead appears to be slightly based on, at least in the powers department.

    We have a whole history of X-Force right here for you.

    BEDLAM

    Terry Crews’ Bedlam first appeared in the comic Factor X #1, created by John Francis Moore and Steve Epting. Bedlam doesn’t exactly get to do much in the movie, but the power set is accurate to how he’s portrayed in the comics.

    ZEITGEIST

    Zeitgeist (Axel Cluney) even being in this movie practically spells out the gag about X-Force’s fate. The character was introduced in X-Force #116, which was the beginning of the Peter Milligan/Mike Allred X-Force/X-Statix run. Like in the movie, he could spit acid vomit, but also like in the movie, he died in his first issue despite being treated as a big deal. In fact, a majority of X-Force were killed in that first issue.

    VANISHER

    - Vanisher, real name Telford Porter, was introduced in the second issue of X-Men. He has absolutely nothing to do with his cinematic counterpart, including powers. Comic Vanisher is a teleporter while the movie version is just invisible. Also, he was an X-Men villain and never a member of X-Force. It’s likely more like the writers saw that name as one of the ones they could use in the movie and wrote a gag around it, much like how they included Negasonic Teenage Warhead in the first movie just because they thought the name was great.

    - And hey, turns out he’s Brad Pitt! That’s still not the most random Brad Pitt death in movie history if you've seen Burn After Reading. Told you there would be spoilers here.

    - Brad Pitt was in talks to play Cable, but couldn't fit it into his schedule.

    SHATTERSTAR

    - Sometimes comic movies are too afraid to fully embrace the batshit insane world of comic books. That’s why it took so long for us to get Sentinels and why Galactus was a cloud. Shatterstar, despite his limited screentime, dives deep into being exactly like his comic counterpart. Introduced in New Mutants #99 (a mere issue after Deadpool) by Nicieza and Liefeld, Shatterstar is both an alien and from the future. And he has those stupid double-katanas.

    - Mojoworld was introduced in Longshot #1and is a separate dimension run by a blobby TV producer with spider legs. This is now part of the X-Men Cinematic Unvierse.

    Need more info on Shatterstar? We've got you covered.

    BLACK TOM

    - Black Tom Cassidy was introduced in X-Men #99 by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum. His wood/blast powers are kind of moot since he never actually does anything mutant-based in the movie. Black Tom is the brother of Banshee, but there’s no indication of their relationship in the film.

    - In the comics, Black Tom fought Deadpool several times. Not only as a partner of Juggernaut, but also at a time when Deadpool was cycling through his “Black” villains in one adventure, such as Black Swan and Black Box.

    - During the early days of X-Force, Cable gunned down Black Tom and almost killed him. Coincidentally, Black Tom only survived because Deadpool saved his life.

    X-MEN EASTER EGGS

    - Firefist’s rampage is covered by reporter Irene Merryweather. Introduced in Cable #48 by James Robinson and Jose Ladronn, Irene is a reporter who became a close friend to Cable. She was essentially the normal, down-to-earth person there to normalize the future mutant with the giant guns. She was recently killed by Deadpool in the comics due to Cable’s clone Stryfe blackmailing him.

    - During the auditions segment, there’s a cartoon drawing of a cowgirl in the background. This is Outlaw, otherwise known as Inez Temple. Introduced during the Gail Simone Deadpoolrun, the mercenary mutant Outlaw had a couple flings with Deadpool and even married him briefly. Unfortunately, Deadpool’s healing factor wasn’t enough to offset the combination of her super-strength and endless libido and he had the marriage annulled.

    - The Ice Box is a prison located in Canada, introduced in Maverick #8.

    - Russell’s orphanage is named in honor of “Essex,” most likely a reference to Nathanial Essex, otherwise known as Mr. Sinister. Essex was referenced in Days of Future Past’s ending and there’s been rumblings about having him appear in one of the upcoming movies.

    - The mutant inhibitor collar was introduced in Days of Future Past. In the comics, it was introduced in X-Men #141.

    - The orphanage features various posters promising that M-Day is coming. In the comics, M-Day was the event where Scarlet Witch – distraught over the events of House of M– used her powers to depower nearly every mutant in the world, leaving less than 200.

    - When Deadpool steals the motor scooter, he passes by an ice cream truck called "Pryor's Treats." Madelyne Pryor is a clone of Jean Grey and the mother of Cable in the comics.

    - During the scene where Deadpool stops at the mansion to appeal to Colossus, the cab has an add for "Alpha Flight" as a tourism thing. Alpha Flight is, of course, the Canadian superteam that exist under X-Men/Fox jurisdiction.

    - The Super Duper Cut features a scene where Deadpool messes with the X-Men's fridge. Everyone's food is labeled by their codename, though Xavier's is "Wheels." Wolverine jokingly calls him that in the first X-Men movie.

    WHERE IS THE STAN LEE CAMEO?

    You can spot Stan Lee twice in the movie. Once in a painting in the X-Mansion, and then again as a crazy graffiti mural as X-Force make their descent.

    SUPERHERO MOVIE STUFF

    - The movie’s opening shot shows Deadpool’s music box in the form of Wolverine being impaled on a tree stump. This is how Wolverine died at the end of Logan. Deadpool also jokes that Logan wouldn’t have received that R-rating if the first Deadpoolmovie hadn’t already proven it could be done successfully.

    - Deadpool briefly brings up comparisons to Passion of the Christ, namely how they’re the top two biggest money makers for R-rated movies. In terms of domestic, Passion of the Christ wins with $370 million to Deadpool’s $363 million, but worldwide, Deadpoolhas $801 million compared to Passion’s $622 million.

    - Deadpool tries to excuse his lateness with Vanessa by claiming that he and another costumed guy had a big fight, but stopped once they found out their mothers are both named “Martha.” That’s an easy reference to the end of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, where Batman suddenly pulls a 180 on his murderous opinion on Superman.

    - In the first movie, Deadpool told Blind Al that he had a stash hidden of a bunch of cocaine and “the cure for blindness,” which at the time felt like him being a jerk mocking her. Turns out he literally had those things after all!

    - Deadpool repeatedly talks about the X-Men member “Pigeonwings,” referring to Angel and the fact that having wings is kind of a dumb power when there are others who can fly without them.

    - As Deadpool once again rants about how the only X-Men characters we appear to see are Colossus and Negasonic, there’s a quick shot of the current X-Men movie team meeting in a room as Beast (Nicholas Hoult) quietly closes the door before Deadpool can notice. This includes Xavier (James McAvoy), Quicksilver (Evan Peters), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee).

    - When Deadpool tries on the Cerebro head gear, he remarks it smells like Patrick Stewart, who of course originated the role of Charles Xavier in this franchise, appearing as the character a total of seven times, counting cameos.

    - Deadpool’s speech where he decides to shoot up one of the orphanage employees is paraphrased from Colossus at the end of the first movie. The difference is that while he was straight-up ignoring him in the first movie when he shot somebody, this time he felt like he was genuinely doing the right thing.

    - Upon losing his powers, Deadpool calls himself worthless like Hawkeye and his bow and arrow. Hawkeye has been regularly mocked for being considered the lamest movie Avenger.

    - Deadpool describes Cable as having a Winter Soldier arm. In both the comics and Marvel Cinematic Universe, Bucky Barnes lost his arm during his faked death and had it replaced with a cybernetic limb. Cable’s arm is actually a metal parasite engulfing the flesh.

    - Deadpool tosses out the iconic, “I’m Batman,” line, which is the go-to introduction for movie versions of that character.

    - Deadpool remarks that Cable is so dark that he must be from the DC Universe. DC’s recent cinematic takes have been regularly criticized for being overly grim and colorless despite being centered around goddamn Superman. Fittingly, Ryan Reynolds and Josh Brolin have both starred in failed DC movies with Green Lantern and Jonah Hex.

    - Deadpool names Domino “Black Black Widow,” doubling down on cracking jokes about white characters with “Black” in their name. Plus Domino is the token female hero and has the same basic abilities as Black Widow.

    - Speaking of Black Widow, Deadpool tries to subdue Juggernaut by telling him, “The sun is getting real low.” This is how Black Widow would calm the Hulk into becoming Bruce Banner in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

    - Dopinder is called “Brown Panther,” which is just a reference to Black Panther. It’s late in the movie and we’re running out of steam.

    - In the mid-credits, Deadpool goes back in time to save certain people, but also takes time to enter X-Men Origins: Wolverine(2009) to riddle the original Deadpool with bullets. The mouthless Wade Wilson from this movie is considered a blight on the character’s history and while he got made fun of in the first Deadpool, this just goes farther into the absurd.

    - Immediately after, Ryan Reynolds is shot to death before he can accept the role of Green Lantern (2011). That too is considered a big mistake in Reynolds’ acting career.

    - The Super Duper Cut shows Deadpool shooting a guy in the head during the funeral ambush in the beginning. Deadpool jokes, "Never see Captain America do that!" Coincidentally, the initial story of the Gerry Duggan/Brian Posehn run of Deadpoolhad SHIELD hire him because of some bad press that came with Captain America killing someone in a cemetery.

    MISC REFERENCES

    - After failing to fully fulfill his contract kill, Deadpool describes it as “mission accomplished” in the George W. Bush sense. In 2003, George W. Bush spoke onboard the USS Abraham Lincoln to announce the end of major military combat in Iraq. All the while, there was a massive “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” banner in the background. The claims, both verbal and printed, seemed a bit shortsighted, to say the least.

    Oh yeah, Brolin played that guy too.

    - The movie Wade and Vanessa watch early on is the 1983 release Yentlstarring Barbara Streisand.

    - And the song Wade keeps comparing "Papa Can You Hear Me?" to is, obviously, "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" from Disney's megahit Frozen (2013).

    - The opening credits include references to both James Bond movies and the iconic chair shot from Flashdance. It’s a natural callback to the comedic credits from the first movie, though with a more negative bend, such as how the first movie called the screenwriters “The Real Heroes” while this time they’re “The Real Villains.”

    Similarly, in the Super Duper Cut, the credit is changed to, "I Blame the Writers. 'Real Heroes' My Ass!"

    - When Deadpool wakes up in the X-Mansion and hijacks Xavier's wheelchair, he is wearing a T-Shirt that reads "Olivia and Meredith, Friends Furrrever." Those are the names of Taylor Swift's very furry cats. In addition to Deadpool being an ironic smartass, this is also a genuine nod to Ms. Swift and her beloved pets, as both Ryan Reynolds and his wife Blake Lively are good friends with T-Swizzle.

    - Deadpool calls Yukio “Pinkie Pie.” Pinkie Pie is a character from My Little Pony who, much like Deadpool, breaks the fourth wall. In fact, Death Battle had an episode dedicated to Deadpool vs. Pinkie Pie.

    - Colossus tells Russell, “Come quietly or there will be trouble.” Deadpool and Russell immediately point out that he’s ripping off RoboCop, which he also did in the first movie when he told Deadpool, “Dead or alive, you’re coming with me.”

    - During this sequence, Deadpool also says, "Pump the hate break, Fox and Friends." Which is a dig at well, the fearmongering and general unpleasantness of Fox News' morning show (which is President Trump's favorite program). Ryan Reynolds is really feeling himself these days, considering 20th Century Fox and Fox News are both owned by Rupert Murdoch. What's he going to do? Sell the studio?! Ha, ha... ha?

    - At the Ice Box, Deadpool wonders what gang he’ll end up in and asks about the Sorting Hat. The Sorting Hat is the magical being from the Harry Potterbooks that chooses which group each Hogwarts student belongs in.

    - At one point during his venting in the Ice Box, Russell says, "I'm going to burn Eddie Marsan alive." Clearly hanging out with Wade Wilson has had the Merc rub off on him, because Russell is also breaking the fourth wall here, as Eddie Marsan is the name of the actor who plays the pervert.

    - Cable’s futuristic gun has a dial on it that goes from 1 to 11. This is a reference to This is Spinal Tap, as the band has their amps recalibrated from going up to 10 to 11 in volume because 11 is a higher number and therefore must be louder. None of them realize that the max volume is the max volume no matter what number you put on it.

    - Weasel refers to Cable as “the time traveler’s wife’s husband.” The Time Traveler’s Wife is a novel by Audrey Niffenegger.

    - Weasel calls it out, but Wade uncrossing and crossing his legs in order to show his gross baby crotch is a reference to Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct(1992). In the famous scene, she did the same move, only wearing a skirt with no underwear.

    - Deadpool tries to win Colossus back by holding a cellphone with a boombox app up outside his window, just like John Cusack’s iconic pose from Say Anything (1989).

    - We join a scene with Deadpool finishing his rant that Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is pornography. That movie starred Ryan Reynolds' wife, Blake Lively.

    - Deadpool notes that Russell has started dressing like the Unabomber. The 90s serial bomber Ted Kaczynski is mainly remembered for his police sketch that showed him wearing a hoodie and sunglasses.

    - “Sweep the leg, Johnny!” is the command that the villain from Karate Kidis told when fighting Daniel in the climax.

    - Cable firing the bullet that kills Deadpool (if at least briefly) is accompanied by the song "Tomorrow," a cloyingly saccharine (but catchy) tune from the Broadway musical Annie, which debuted in 1977. This is also set-up by the fact that Cable's daughter apparently had that song playing when she was killed in the future. Also, Wade (and Ryan Reynolds apparently) just loves that showtune!

    - Deadpool nicknames Negasonic “Eleven,” the name of the super-powered, shaved head girl from Stranger Things.

    - Blink and you'll miss it, but a news ticker reports that "Christopher Plummer refuses role in Deadpool 2." Christopher Plummer took over Kevin Spacey's role in All the Money in the World after Spacey was outed as an abuser. TJ Miller was getting similar accusations shortly before Deadpool 2's release, so...

    - In the Super Duper Cut, Deadpool claims that he'll have to "die harder" and then mentions that it's trademark Fox. Die Hard 2came out in 1990 with the tagline "Die Harder."

    - The Super Duper Cut also has Deadpool respond to Domino's claim about being in the right place at the right time as being like 2008 Ryan Reynolds. 2008 featured three movie releases by the actor, him marrying Scarlet Johansson, and I suppose getting the role of Deadpool for the first time.

    - The extended cut also has him remark that the X-Mansion is filled with paintings of old, white men. He brings up Calista Flockhart, the wife of Harrison Ford.

    - The extended end credits feature Deadpool attempting to kill baby Hitler, but realizing how hard it is because he's just a baby. At one point, he starts nervously clapping while repeating, "This is crazy..." Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) did this before swimming with a woman who wasn't his wife in National Lampoon's Vacation.

    Any other Easter eggs or references we’ve missed? Sound off in the comments!

    Gavin Jasper wonders if the Fat Gandalf line flub joke was planned or an improvised blooper that they kept in. Follow Gavin on Twitter!


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    Remember the early 2000s? This exclusive look at The Wild Storm #16 gives old characters a new spin.

    NewsJim Dandy
    Aug 13, 2018

    It's probably just a coincidence that the last Absolute edition of The Authoritycame out two weeks ago, and The Wild Storm, Warren Ellis and Jon Davis Hunt's ground-up reimagining of the Wildstorm universe that we have consistently loved, is just starting to assemble that iconic team. Probably.

    That book is arguably where Ellis made the leap from popular comic writer to sells-any-book-he's-on icon. It signaled a foundational shift in comics storytelling, both from Ellis' writing and Bryan Hitch's art. But in retrospect, the changes in Ellis have been significant.

    The turn of the millenium wasn't really a time for subtlety, and The Authoritywas the right book for the time. Everything was huge, over the top, and on the nose. The critiques of superhero comics were a little blunt, but they also made good points, and holy cats was it great to look at. But as it was emulated by others, as it started to permeate the entire industry, that cynicism got stale. It's part of what made "What's So Funny About Truth, Justice and the American Way?" such a classic Superman story: it wasn't Superman fighting hyperviolence, it was Superman fighting ennui. And I think Ellis grew out of that as a writer. The comparison between the old Authority and the new one he's assembling in the pages of this book are striking: he's much more deliberate in his pacing and reserved with his dialogue. Characters still have that distinctly Ellisian voice, but it breaks the immersion of the story less frequently.

    He's also much less critical of mainstream comics. The book's DC-adjacentness has always been plainly evident. Hell, over in Michael Cray, he's been murdering the hell out of the Justice League. But it's a good Elseworlds story - it's justified in-book, and it's used for character development for Deathblow. And in this exclusive preview of The Wild Storm#16, we see even more: the map of the internet that The Engineer sees when she goes online to talk to Jenny Sparks looks an awful lot like the map of the multiverse from Multiversity.

    Read the latest Den of Geek Special Edition Magazine Here!

    Here's what DC has to say about the book:

    THE WILD STORM #16 written by WARREN ELLIS
    art and cover by JON DAVIS-HUNT
    variant cover by SANA TAKEDA
    What was Project Thunderbook? What did John Lynch do to the Thunderbook experimental subjects? Why did he shut it down and scatter them across America? Why isn’t Thunderbook subject Gloria Spaulding aging? Why do people act like she’s an alien? Well...alien is exactly what they made her at Thunderbook.

    Take a look.


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    Sarah J. Maas' Catwoman: Soulstealer is a refreshing change of pace from comic book canon.

    NewsAlana Joli Abbott
    Aug 14, 2018

    This review contains spoilers for Catwoman: Soulstealer and Batman #50. 

    Catwoman has had an eventful summer.

    At this point, if you haven’t readBatman #50, you’ve probably already seen the news: DC’s eagerly-anticipated wedding event is the wedding that wasn’t. In the comics universe, Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne have spent fifty issues figuring out their relationship, only for them to both come to opposing realizations: Bruce realizes that it might indeed be possible for him to be happy by giving love a chance. Selina realizes the world needs a suffering Batman more than she needs to be with her true love. It’s heart-wrenching, and it’s beautifully done in an over-sized issue that features art of the pair from over the many years they’ve been on again, off again.

    But, as much as the story culminates in a sensible conclusion for the run, it shies away from what might have been an even more exciting exploration in comics: What would a Batman/Catwoman marriage look like? What would it be like for Bruce Wayne to be happy? Is Selina right that it would ruin Batman, or has she made a sacrifice in vain?

    Like Marvel’s ultimate retcon (in which Spider-Man rewrote revealing his secret identity), the failed wedding of Batman and Catwoman may open new doors for an even more suffering, angrier Batman... but is it really that far from a return to the status quo? Or is it a gambit to make sure that the solo Catwoman book has a successful run?

    Luckily for Selina Kyle, she has an entirely different opportunity for reinvention in Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas. Part of the new DC ICONS novel line, which puts some of their primary protagonists at the center of YA/New Adult (college-aged protagonists, rather than teens) novels, Catwoman: Soulstealerintroduces a Selina Kyle birthed by Gotham City’s East End and honed into a weapon by the League of Assassins, who returns to Gotham City on a mission that, while hinted at, is never made clear until the book’s climax. It’s a roller coaster filled with heist action, girl power team-ups, and the notable absence of Bruce Wayne. Luke Fox, also known as Batwing, plays against this incarnation of Catwoman instead. 

    The Catwoman: Soulstealer story opens on Selina and her sister, abandoned by their addict-criminal mother. Because Selina’s sister has cystic fibrosis and her medical bills are high, Selina has joined the gang the Leopards and has been fighting in crime-boss Falcone’s illegal boxing ring to get more money. It isn’t a sustainable strategy and, soon, Selina is arrested for crossing one too many lines—and offered a way out by Talia al Ghul, who takes her to train to become a ghul, an assassin who will take down the world order.

    Selina chooses her moment to return to Gotham, under the identity of Holly Vanderhees (a possible reference to comic-Selina’s best friend Holly Robinson), when Batman is out of town, leaving only his younger vigilante mentee to defend the city. At first, Selina’s motive looks simple: sow chaos, play Robin Hood (stealing from the rich and funneling some of those goods to worthy causes), and bring Gotham City to its knees.

    But when the first fellow ghul from the League of Assassins appears to bring her down, the idea that everything is not as it seems starts to take root. And, like one of Poison Ivy’s attack vines, that root shows some dangerous consequences.

    Some of the most fun in the novel comes from the interactions between Selina and Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, with whom she teams up in her quest to put Gotham City’s underworld under her thumb. Ivy is as brilliant as Selina, and her expertise with chemicals and poisons makes her an excellent ally (and her unrequited love for Harley Quinn, with whom she hooks up but receives no further romantic promises, is a lovely driving point for the narrative and counterpoint to Selina’s own loves).

    Harley, still pining after her ex, the Joker, is a loose cannon, but one full of manic joy, who refuses to take anything seriously. The Joker, currently locked in Arkham, is absent for most of the book, allowing the Cat and her friends to play as freely as they want. From the outside, everything may seem like a game to both both socialite Holly and purring burglar Catwoman, but Selina's point-of-view narration shows that things are always serious to the person underneath both personas.

    Equally serious are the sections from the point-of-view of Batwing. Luke Fox, as a marine, couldn’t save his friends from the IED that left him horribly scarred. On returning home, the young African American man suffers from PTSD, and part of how he deals with those episodes is by becoming a vigilante. Maas takes on a lot with this character, but while she may only hit the tip of the iceberg on issues of being African American in the modern United States, what she does reference gives a sense of her Gotham belonging to the larger modern world.

    At one point in the narrative, Luke remembers being pulled over and harassed by corrupt members of the GCPD for driving while black; when they check his driver’s license and realize he’s a member of the extremely wealthy and well-respected Fox family, they back off. Luke recognizes both his class privilege and the problems of race in moments like this one throughout the book, in ways that show Maas consciously wrangling with properly portraying a character outside her own lived experience.

    Read the latest Den of Geek Special Edition Magazine Here!

    Maas’s departure from the Selina/Bruce relationship, especially with the tempestuous issues of the Batman comics run, is a refreshing change of cannon. The novel’s Selina, with her impoverished childhood, genius IQ, and trained social graces, needs a strong romantic foil who can take a back seat and let her manage her own narrative. Luke never falters in his honor and his insistence on doing what is right, but, because of his military experience, his heritage, and his access to Bruce Wayne, he knows that systems aren’t always good vs. evil. The attraction between Catwoman—a villain who also prizes loyalty and sticking up for the voiceless—and Batwing is well paced and plotted believably, and their ultimate end is a satisfying one.

    It’s unfortunate the DC ICONS books don’t look set up for sequels, because Catwoman: Soulstealer could easily be the launching point for new adventures, even after Batman and larger world players returned to the scene. In the meantime, Catwoman #2 is set to hit stands in early September, and comics-Selina may indeed be getting a whole new start without Batman as her foil.

    Catwoman: Soulstealer is now available to buy via Amazon or your local bookstore.


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    Quietly's college roommate steals the Pacific Ocean in this wonderfully-imaginative speculative fiction novella from Rachael K. Jones.

    ReviewAlana Joli Abbott
    Aug 14, 2018

    This Every River Runs To Salt review contains some spoilers.

    Environmental activism is a staple of forward thinking speculative fiction for a reason: we don’t take care of the earth, and maybe she won’t take care of us back. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has been behind several stories and a pretty cool graphic novel series (Great Pacific by Joe Harris)—and it’s a real thing in serious need of environmental action. (You can read more about the reality of the situation in National Geographic’s article from March 2018.)

    All of that aside, it is safe to say that no one has ever treated the Great Pacific Garbage Patch with as much mythologically-laden lyricism as Rachael K. Jones. In her long-form debut Every River Runs To Salt, a novella out today from Fireside Press, Jones turns ideas and metaphors into living, breathing characters. She designs an underbelly to a university town that’s both underworld and a chance for redemption, maybe in the same breath. She underscores all of these big, mythologically inclined characters by grounding her narrative in love—what it means to hold on, and let go, and come around changed on the other side.

    If this sounds like a lot to handle in a slim, 54-page novella (per the page count in the ePub edition I received for this review), it may well be, but Jones handles it with such aplomb and such gloriously beautiful prose that it will carry you—as long as you’re willing to let it take you for the ride.

    Oceans in jars

    I keep an ocean in a jar on my nightstand and a handful of coffee beans in my pocket. My roommate Imani once held the Pacific Ocean hostage in our living room, but that was before she died and I followed her down to the Under-Ath to fix the mess she left.

    Narrator and protagonist Quietly doesn’t believe Imani when she first announces that she’s stolen the Pacific Ocean over their university summer break. Imani, who has a glacier for a great grandparent, is irate the way only a glacier can be: once she’s made a decision, she’s an unstoppable force, moving over everything until she’s accomplished her goal.

    The Great Pacific Garbage Patch was, truthfully, discovered in 1988; as Imani points out, it’s older than both Imani and Quietly, who are perpetual college students putting off graduation by one more class every semester. No one is doing anything about it, so Imani decides she’s going to show the world just how much they’ve taken the Pacific for granted—by bringing it home with her in a mason jar.

    One taste tells Quietly that the water Imani’s brought home is something big, but the whole ocean? Sure enough, the news forecasts begin to report the missing ocean. All of it, gone, including the gyre (a circulating system of ocean currents) that harvests all the garbage for the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Of course, the garbage is still there, waiting to be picked up. Quietly suggests that Imani needs to return the ocean before something really bad happens, but Imani is resolute: no ocean returned until the garbage is gone.

    The "hypotheticals"—personifications of place

    That’s before California comes calling. A personification of the idea of California, the being appears, demanding the return of the Pacific, and giving Imani the gift of yearning. It’s a curse, but a disguised one: the University of Georgia protects its students in Athens, and no true curses can get through it’s guard.

    Instead, Imani is overcome with love for the Pacific, and even if she wanted to give it back, she finds she’s unable to do so. When Oregon and Washington arrive, things get even worse, and the gifts they give Imani turn her, like Lot’s wife, into a pillar of salt. This leaves Quietly to figure out how to get the ocean home, before they claim her as well for that single taste of ocean she took at the beginning of the story.

    Divided between Athens, Georgia, and Under-Ath, the gyre beneath the old university town, where its own waste—the wash ups and has beens—flows, the novella offers a rich setting at every turn. Here, the places truly are characters, sometimes literally in human form. A glacier can have children, an ocean can be in love, and a river can offer friendship to a student with nowhere else to turn. Jones’s real-world details are exquisite, and needed because so much of the world of the story is bigger than real, larger than life.

    While Jones is not African American herself, her two lead characters are LGBTQ African American women, whose friendship is also a love-in-potentia, a relationship that hasn’t yet changed into something more than platonic. But Quietly admits to herself that the reason she hasn’t yet graduated college is because she doesn’t want to graduate from Imani, to move on and leave her.

    When Imani dies—or, because she’s also possibly an ocean, doesn’t quite—Quietly has to learn how to navigate both the world of jobs and whatever happens after college, beyond the university’s protection, and the dangers of the magical Under-Ath without her. Luckily, Quietly finds a loud voice, and to claim agency for not only her own story, but for the world.

    For the sheer beauty of the prose, and for the reinvention of American mythology, Every River Runs To Salt is well worth the read.

    Every River Runs To Salt is now available to read.

    Read the latest Den of Geek Special Edition Magazine Here!


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    Den of Geek talked to Professor Theodora Goss about reimagining classic literary canon...

    InterviewKayti Burt
    Aug 14, 2018

    In The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club series, Theodora Goss takes the most famous of 19th-century monster tales and turns them on their heads, making the female monsters of the narratives (or the female monsters from the spaces between the canon) into the protagonists of their own story.

    Read The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter

    When we meet series main character Mary Jekyll in The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter, she is left penniless 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 that includes Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein, and Diana Hyde.

    Read European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman

    The adventure continues in European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman, the second book in a planned trilogy. When Mary & co. receive news that Lucinda Van Helsing has been kidnapped, the Athena Club make their way into the heart of the Austro-Hungarian Empire into an attempt to save her.

    Join the Den of Geek Book Club!

    Den of Geek had the chance to chat with Professor Goss about crafting the world of the Athena Club. Listen to our entire interview below...


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    With Lauren Cohan set to leave behind The Walking Dead behind, the actress hints on how Maggie’s exit will go down.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Aug 14, 2018

    The Walking Dead Season 9 is not only touting an intriguing 18-month time jump, but radical changes that will see main cast members Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan leave the series. While Lincoln’s impending exit as Rick Grimes seems to be motivated by burnout, Cohan’s departure was marked after offers of new opportunities, notably a major role in this week’s Mark Wahlberg actioner, Mile 22, and a co-starring role on the upcoming ABC crime series, Whiskey Cavalier.

    As the October premiere of The Walking Dead Season 9 approaches, the reality of severing a seven-year, 8-season run is obviously becoming clearer for Lauren Cohan, who has played the role of Maggie Rhee (née Greene,) since the 2011-launched Season 2. Surprisingly, the actress dishes some details about the upcoming role-wrap-up in an interview with Gamespot. While cynical-minded speculation might lead one to believe that quitting this show obligates one’s character to a gruesome death, ripped apart, eviscerated and consumed by the dead, Cohan goes far enough to reveal that Maggie’s fate will be left open-ended, explaining:

    "It feels like the greatest way to honor it is to keep it open-ended because whether it's about me going back as Maggie or whether it's about me just taking in, absorbing, and honoring everything I've learned there.” Enthusiastically adding, “It never leaves me. It will never, ever leave me. And that is I think the greatest compliment you can give to anything and to any group of people because we all came together to make something that we didn't know was going to have this success that it did."

    Consequently, Cohan’s Maggie, who has evolved from the tragedy of Negan’s brutal killing of her husband, Glenn, into becoming a leader of the Hilltop community and – as the Season 9 trailer implies – a mother to the child she conceived with her late husband, should, in the very least, reach a satisfying trajectory. Moreover, when asked if the open-ended nature of Maggie’s mysterious fate leaves the door open for a prospective return, Cohan implies that – while it’s not guaranteed – it is still a possibility.

    However, Cohan is clearly not thinking about a return, and the idea of turning the page on The Walking Dead– the most significant TV run of her career – seems to be at the forefront of her thoughts these days. As Cohan reminisces with preemptive elegiac wistfulness:

    "I had a lot of time to think about it before I came back to Walking Dead this season. And what the show means to me, what my family there means to me, what my time there has meant, and how this role has impacted my life which is immeasurable."

    While Cohan was hardly a newcomer when she joined The Walking Dead, having banked high-profile runs on shows like Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries and Chuck, she explains how the years on Dead transformed her in immutable ways:

    “It taught me to trust in such an important, creative way. I don't think I can ever shake that. Once you have an experience like that, it really dictates the measure of how you want to connect with people going forward in my work."

    It will be interesting to see how Cohan’s Maggie makes her exit from The Walking Dead in Season 9, especially considering how deeply embedded the character currently is in the storylines of the series. However, new showrunner Angela Kang is onboard to shake things up for the popular-but-ratings-hemorrhaging series. Plus, as fans who are familiar with the source material of Robert Kirkman’s comic book series are aware, major changes lie ahead and a horrendous housecleaning of characters could be imminent, attributed to the arrival of the show’s new big bad, Alpha (Samantha Morton), and her extremely territorial, walker-skin-wearing group, the Whisperers. Of course, going by Cohan’s comments, Maggie should be safe… maybe.

    The Walking Dead Season 9 premieres on AMC on October 7.

    Read the latest Den of Geek Special Edition Magazine Here!


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    To promote the upcoming Deadpool 2 Blu-ray and DVD, the Deadpool Core website will allow you to apply to X-Force. Your funeral.

    News Gavin Jasper
    Aug 15, 2018

    On Tuesday Aug. 21, Deadpool 2comes out on Blu-ray and DVD, adding to our very Josh Brolin-based month of comic book movie home releases. While the Blu-ray will come with the usual special extras, including the Super Duper Extended Cut (which includes a longer version of that bath house fight and the post-credits sequence), Fox has another special extra in mind.

    Even though the big deal about Deadpool 2 is that it brings Cable into the mix, a chunk of the movie is dedicated to Deadpool putting together X-Force, essentially Wade Wilson’s own X-Men, but with blackjack and hookers. He gets a team of powerhouses that include a guy who can disrupt electricity, a dude with acid spit, a woman with totally fake “luck powers,” an incredibly handsome invisible man, an alien super warrior, and some guy named Peter.

    That begs the question: who didn’t make the cut? I mean, we know Dopinder didn’t. But who else? The extended edition doesn’t give us any answers, but now we know thanks to Fox we finally know: it was you. Damn.

    Starting on Thursday Aug. 16, Deadpool Core will have a special page where fans can fill out their own X-Force applications, including headshots. Once done, you’re able to share them with your friends and on social media because people skip through commercials these days and we need some kind of new reminder that this movie is getting a home release.

    In the meantime, here are some applications that Deadpool straight-up wasn’t feeling that we have exclusively delivered to us by Wade with maximum effort.

    So while the Super Duper Cut is available for digital now, you’ll have to wait until Tuesday for the Blu-ray. Said disc has all this stuff on it:

    - Gag Reel
    - Deleted/Extended Scenes
    - Until Your Face Hurts: Alt Takes
    - Deadpool's Lips are Sealed: Secrets and Easter Eggs
    - The Most Important X-Force Member
    - Deadpool Family Values: Cast of Characters
    - David Leitch Not Lynch: Directing DP2
    - Roll with the Punches: Action and Stunts
    - The Deadpool Prison Experiment
    - Chess with Omega Red
    -  Swole and Sexy
    - "3-Minute Monologue"
    - Audio Commentary by Ryan Reynolds, David Leitch, Rhett Reese, and Paul Wernick (Theatrical Version ONly)
    - Deadpool's Fun Sack 2
    - Stills (28 Images)

    That’s more than 27 stills! The future is an awesome thing.

    Gavin Jasper isn’t applying because the life-expectancy seems questionable. But you can still follow Gavin on Twitter!


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    Nine Lives, a novelette from the late sci-fi great, Ursula K. Le Guin, is being developed as a movie.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Aug 15, 2018

    The legacy of the influential sci-fi author, Ursula K. Le Guin, appears to be highly coveted in the immediate aftermath of her death this past January, with live-action adaptation projects continuing to join the queue. While prospects are glistening for a movie adaptation of The Telling, as well as a properly-reverent movie adaptation of Le Guin’s sprawling magnum opus, the Earthsea novels, the latest project is a bit more of an esoteric choice from her works, a 1969 novelette, called Nine Lives.

    The latest Le Guin endeavor, Nine Lives, is getting off the ground with U.K. producers Gavin Humphries (Pin Cushion) of Quark Films and former Sony Pictures International producer Josephine Rose, reports Deadline. Tom Basden will co-write the script with Siri Rodnes, an actress and burgeoning filmmaker, who will take the creative plunge as director. Basden, who procured a BAFTA nomination for writing the Netflix series, Fresh Meat, is the creator and writer for the ITV2 comedy, Plebs (soon to be adapted in the U.S. by Seth Rogen), on which he also co-stars. He also created the comedy series, Gap Year. Casting choices are reportedly underway.

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    Nine Lives was published by Le Guin in Playboy back in 1969, but under the sexist caveat – commonly practiced at the time – that her name be published as “U.K. Le Guinn” to hide her gender (à la Star Trek writer Dorothy “D.C.” Fontana). Apropos to the movie adaptation team’s comedic leanings, the story is a dark comedy, set on a drilling base on the Moon, where two ennui-afflicted workers are excited about the idea that their company is sending new personnel, only to learn that the arrivals are a set of ten clones. The story uses its sci-fi tropes to explore themes that remain relevant, such as technology-enabled isolationism and the erosion of individualism, as well as ontological questions about what defines life.

    Interestingly, with Le Guin known to be extremely critical of adaptations of her work (she famously lambasted the 2004 Earthsea TV movie), it may be somewhat poetic that Nine Lives writer/director Rodnes actually knew Le Guin, having met the American author after adapting one of her short stories at the NFTS film school in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England. Rodness procured a BAFTA nomination for the 2016 short, Take Your Partner, and was reportedly mentored by Ex Machina and Trainspotting producer Andrew Macdonald on the BFI’s Flare LGBT training program.

    We will keep you updated on the Nine Lives movie adaptation as things develop!