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- 10/04/18--15:57: _Jamie Parker on How...
- 10/05/18--00:06: _Venom: Complete Mar...
- 10/05/18--14:30: _Nightflyers Release...
- 10/05/18--21:10: _The Umbrella Academ...
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- 10/16/18--09:13: _Venom: Who is Carnage?
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- 10/05/18--00:06: Venom: Complete Marvel Easter Eggs and References Guide
- 10/05/18--14:30: Nightflyers Release Date, Trailer, Cast, News, and More
- 10/05/18--21:10: The Umbrella Academy Release Date, Cast, & Everything Else We Know
- 10/06/18--01:40: New Spider-Man Series Coming From Marvel
- 10/06/18--02:00: New Batman: Three Jokers Details Revealed
- 10/06/18--23:34: The Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde Issues Art Book
- 10/07/18--12:35: The Walking Dead Season 9: A Spoiler-Filled Guide to A New Beginning
- 10/07/18--13:00: New Young Justice Series Coming From DC
- 10/07/18--13:04: Outlander Season 4: Sexual Violence in the #MeToo Era
- 10/07/18--15:07: The Flash: Year One Coming From DC
- 10/07/18--17:49: DC Comics Makes Pearl Into Regular Series
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- 10/08/18--01:24: New Shazam Details Revealed by DC
- 10/08/18--11:52: The Titans Face a Massive Tragedy
- 10/08/18--12:34: We Are Venom: The Many Characters Who Wore the Symbiote
- 10/09/18--17:12: Stephen King: 10 Best Pure Horror Novels
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- 10/11/18--09:01: Venom: 15 Craziest Moments in Marvel History
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- 10/14/18--13:15: Halloween Comics: The Weird History of Michael Myers on the Page
- 10/15/18--10:35: The Haunting Of Hill House: Comparing the TV Show and Book
- 10/15/18--13:54: Bullet Catcher: An Interview with Author Joaquin Lowe
- 10/15/18--16:54: The Rift Uprising Trilogy by Amy S. Foster Review
- 10/16/18--09:13: Venom: Who is Carnage?
- 10/16/18--20:47: The Flash Season 5 Villain: Who is Cicada?
- 10/17/18--12:13: Stranger Things Comic: Jody Houser’s Upside Down Survival Tale
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- 10/18/18--11:09: Daredevil: Who is Bullseye?
- 10/18/18--12:50: Runaways Season 2: What to Expect
- 10/18/18--13:19: Join the Den of Geek Book Club!
- 10/18/18--13:45: Batman Comics: Best Halloween Specials to Read
- 10/18/18--15:49: Heather Graham Brings The Hypnotist's Love Story to Series
- 10/18/18--17:19: Terry Pratchett's Influence On the Good Omens TV Show
Harry Potter himself explains why The Cursed Child is vital watching for any Potter fan at this year's NYCC.
The original West End and current Broadway cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child doesn't do a ton of press, but the seven main actors were on stage at today's New York Comic Con to talk about the next chapter in the Harry Potter story.
"I was just sort of taking the next job, to be honest," said Jamie Parker (Harry Potter himself) of his relationship to the story when he got the role. Parker only read the books after getting the part, but is now on his seventh re-read. The Cursed Child show schedule keeps Parker from being home for his son's bedtime, so Parker takes 20 minutes every day to recording himself reading aloud from the books for his son.
"[I] fell in love with it and now I've gone sort of native," said Parker of his relationship to the story now. For the actor and fan, the Harry Potter story truly isn't complete without the exploration of Harry's character as a 40-year-old parent forced to face his own painful childhood as he struggles to connect with his son Albus.
"The big question for me is whether he ever did get past his childhood," said Parker. "He's still running to save Sirius, to save Hermione, to save Tonks and the rest of the Fallen Fifty. I think it's never left him. I remember finishing the books for the first time and getting to that last line 'All is well,' and being very suspicious of it. Because it leaves an awful lot of question marks and that, for me, is the need for this play. I think the loop isn't complete until the last two lines of this play and, without it, you haven't got a full myth."
The focus of The Cursed Child is very much split between the adult characters—Harry, Ron, Ginny, Draco, and Hermione—and the kids—Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy.
"It's about parenting, it's about childhood, it's about growing up," said Noma Dumezweni (Hermione). "It's about how you see yourself and your identity in relation to all those around you ... [These kids] have to go through a journey because these grown-ups here are still going through their own journey."
That parallel between kids and adults, and the realization that adulthood comes with its own set of difficulties that aren't entirely unrelated to our childhoods and adolescenes is at the heart of The Cursed Child.
Poppy Miller, who plays Ginny, echoed Parker's comments on how The Cursed Child works in conversation with the Harry Potter book series.
"[We're] portraying this marriage of two people who were idealized, to an extent, in the books in the way that we can look back at those glorious days of teenage and go, 'They're magnificent. They're heroic,'" said Miller. "And then life is actually a little bit harder than a literal battle. And we are struggling with the very ordinary things. Like: I fundamentally love you, but do I still want to be in the same room as you?"
"People will identity with that," continued Miller, "people who have gone on that quest—not necessarily to be parents, but dealing with being an adult."
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
He may not have the white spider symbol on his chest, but Venom happens to have a lot of Spider-Man comic references tossed in there.
This article is full of nothing but Venom spoilers.
The new Venom movie is here! 11 years after being in a movie with too much Spider-Man stuff in it, Venom gets another attempt, this time in a movie with no Spider-Man stuff in it. Ruben Fleischer directs Tom Hardy as he chews both brains and scenery. We have a review of the flick right here.
Of course, the connective status of the movie is interesting. It isn’t part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it is based on the background makeup of Spider-Man, a character who is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Having to rely on his own mythology a lot of the time, Venom ends up being a film based on stories and characters from the early-to-mid-90s. Hell, the villain is a character who hasn’t shown up in a comic since 1994!
There are a good chunk of Easter eggs and references to be found in this overly-ridiculous antihero movie. As always, major spoilers.
- The movie takes place in San Francisco. Back in 1993, when Venom got his own series, he left New York City and spent about two years fighting crime in San Francisco. While the movie goes in a slightly less outlandish direction, Eddie mainly protected and stood up for the homeless during this time. I’m actually kind of surprised Maria and Isaac aren’t based on anyone from those stories.
- They’re vague about it, but before Eddie moved to San Francisco, there was some kind of incident in New York City with the Daily Globe. In the comics, Eddie wrote for the Daily Globe until an incident involving a serial killer named the Sin-Eater. A man confessed to being the killer to Eddie and the Globe ended up running the story. Unfortunately for Eddie, that man was a liar and the real Sin-Eater was apprehended by Spider-Man. Eddie was fired in disgrace.
- The comics and cartoon always showed Eddie preparing for his war on Spider-Man by lifting weights in his rundown apartment, so it made all the sense in the world that he’d just have random dumbbells lying on the floor.
THE VENOM SYMBIOTE
- At one point, Drake’s experiments with the symbiotes were mentioned as a possible cure for cancer. Interesting line, that. In the Ultimate Universe, Venom was not an alien organism, but a man-made attempt to cure cancer that ran amok. Also, in regular continuity, Eddie was dying from cancer and the symbiote was keeping him alive for years.
- At the classy restaurant, Eddie went on a bit of a feeding frenzy rampage and was disgusted that whatever he tried to eat wasn’t good enough for him. He ended up eating a live lobster, which barely satiated him. This is a lot like the beginning of the story Venom: The Hunger, where Eddie found that no matter what he ate (ie. movie popcorn or junk food), it all tasted like garbage, driving him to subtle desire to actually eat people’s brains.
- Venom possessed a dog when escaping captivity. The symbiote (well, its clone) pulled the same trick in the mid-00s Venomseries by latching onto a snow dog in order to escape the arctic where it originated.
- The symbiote admitted to Eddie that it was considered a loser and outcast on its home planet. This lines up with the origin story David Michelinie came up with in Planet of the Symbiotes where all the symbiotes were about being pure parasites and sucking their hosts dry. While they wanted conquest and full control, Venom wanted true symbiosis with its host. It was deemed insane and was thrown in a prison.
- Venom admitted to having a soft spot for chocolate. During Venom’s antihero days in the 90s, there was a whole plot point about how eating chocolate would rein in the monster’s brain-eating tendencies. The symbiote naturally hungers for the chemical phenethylamine, which is found in both the human brain and chocolate.
Ann Weying first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #375, created by David Michelinie and Mark Bagley. Rather than being Eddie’s former fiancée, she was his ex-wife. Different comics muddy up whether or not they were divorced before or after the Sin-Eater incident. As in the movie, she was a lawyer, albeit with no connection to the Life Foundation.
Ann wearing the symbiote was a pretty big part of her history. In the storyline Venom: Sinner Takes All, she was badly wounded by a new Sin-Eater and Eddie had to use the symbiote to heal her. As She-Venom, she mercilessly slaughtered some vagrants who attacked Eddie. Upon being freed from the alien’s influence, she took her actions a lot harder and it haunted her enough that she eventually took her own life.
CARLTON DRAKE AND THE LIFE FOUNDATION
- The Life Foundation was created by David Michelinie and Todd MacFarlane, first showing up in Amazing Spider-Man #298, coincidentally right before Venom made his first true appearance. They appeared sporadically for several years as a threat to Spider-Man, the New Warriors, and eventually Venom. Their MO was that they believed the world will eventually destroy itself, so they would experiment with human biology to find ways to survive the apocalypse.
- Carlton Drake was the leader of the shadow organization and mainly used the Life Foundation as a means to cure his cancer. His most well-known appearance came in Venom: Lethal Protector, where he had Venom captured and forced the symbiote to birth five children. Those five soldiers were eventually defeated by Venom and Spider-Man, but Drake escaped. He later gained powers due to injecting himself with Spider-Man’s blood, but had not appeared since.
- I have far more to say about who Riot is here, but instead of being the leader of the symbiote race, Riot was an offspring of the Venom symbiote, brought to life by the Life Foundation. Life Foundation volunteer Trevor Cole bonded to it, but Cole was later killed by teammate Scream and the symbiote moved on to other hosts over time, including even Deadpool.
Oddly enough, Riot was the least descript of all the different symbiote children.
- In the film, Riot went hot potato with its hosts before ending with Carlton Drake. The Life Foundation woman seen walking off and devouring a live eel is identified in the credits as Donna Diego. In the comics, Donna was one of the Life Foundation test subjects and the one who got the most amount of promotion (she’s the one who shows up in the Universal Islands of Adventure Spider-Man ride). Although she didn’t become Scream, the yellow, black, and red Scream symbiote was definitely one of the creatures in Drake’s collection.
- Riot intended to lead an army of millions of symbiotes to Earth to take it over. This was essentially the plot of Planet of the Symbiotes, a Spider-Man/Scarlet Spider/Venom team-up where the Venom symbiote betrayed its own kind in order to protect Earth.
- Riot’s fighting style was exactly like Carnage’s. Not only could it alter its limbs into weapons, but Riot could also fire projectile spikes from its hide.
- At one point, Riot tore the mask off of Venom, causing extreme pain to Eddie. This looked an awful lot like the cover of Venom: Carnage Unleashed #3.
- The comic version of Roland Treece was yet another corrupt rich guy heading an evil organization. He was the main villain of Venom: Lethal Protector, where he acted like a Scooby Doo villain, trying to scare everyone away from hidden gold. Treece ran afoul of Venom twice, but each time ended up in police custody.
The only similarity between the comics and movie versions are that they both worked under Carlton Drake. It was just that instead of being head of security, Treece from the comics served on the board of directors for the Life Foundation. If anything, the movie version was closer to Mr. Crane, who acted as Treece’s right-hand man.
In the intro scene, we get a mention of astronaut John Jameson, including his untimely death. In the comics, Jameson never had much to do with Venom outside of serving with Eddie Brock in a task force put together to stop Carnage. His inclusion here has more to do with the ninth episode of the Spider-Man cartoon from 1994. In “The Alien Costume, Part 1,” Jameson went on a space mission that unexpectedly brought back the Venom symbiote and he ended up crashing back to Earth.
Spider-Man rescued him in that animated incident, based on an event in Amazing Spider-Man #1. Fitting that in a world with no mention of Spider-Man, John Jameson is doomed.
- When job hunting, Eddie brought up how he could write under a pen name and pretend to be a woman like Tootsie. The 1982 film was about Dustin Hoffman playing a blacklisted actor who pretended to be a woman in order to land a soap opera role.
- Ann’s cat is named Mr. Belvedere, named after the literary character Lynn Belvedere from the Gwen Davenport novel Belvedere. The character was adapted into several movies in the late-40s/early-50s, but is mostly remembered for a sitcom adaptation that lasted five years in the 80s.
Oh, and once during a table reading, the actor who played Mr. Belvedere – Christopher Hewett – once sat down on his balls so hard by accident that he had to be hospitalized and they shut down production for a week. This part has nothing to do with Venom, but I thought it might brighten your day.
- Ann mentioned sonics as being Venom’s “kryptonite.” Kind of weird that Superman is a fictional entity in that world. I wonder what Eddie thought of Dark Knight Rises.
- It wouldn’t be a Marvel movie without a Stan Lee cameo, even if he never actually wrote anything directly Venom-involved. The symbiote’s indignant, “Who is that guy?!” was one of the bigger laughs.
- In the final scene, there’s a sign for “Ron Lim Herbal.” Ron Lim was one of the artists on Venom: Lethal Protector.
Got any more Easter eggs? Let us know in the comments!
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
Syfy is adapting George R.R. Martin’s novella and 1987 movie, Nightflyers, as a TV series. And it's getting an ambitious release strategy.
"Nightflyers is a haunted house story on a starship. It's Psycho in space." - George R.R. Martin
Nightflyers stands as one of George R.R. Martin’s more intriguing pre-Game of Thrones space science-fiction offerings, starting as a 1980 novella, eventually inspiring a schlocky limited-release 1987 film adaptation. However, it appears that the Literary God of Death’s old property is about to be reincarnated as a television series over at Syfy.
Last year, the genre-aimed NBCU cable outlet ordered a pilot for Nightflyers, which has since expanded into a series pickup (Netflix has first run rights outside the U.S.). Additionally, Nightflyers recently received a bountiful boon of €850,000 ($1.1 million,) from the Irish Film Board and will soon begin filming at Limerick’s Troy Studios.
Nightflyers Release Date
Syfy took its time to announce a release date for Nightflyersand now it's clear why. The network is embarking on a rather ambitious release strategy for the horror/sci-fi series. Nightflyers will debut all 10 of its episodes in a particularly-timed rollout across all of Syfy's mutlimedia platforms starting on Sunday, December 2, per a Syfy release. These platforms include Syfy channel, SYFY On Demand, Syfy.com and the Syfy app.
The schedule of the rollout will be as follows. Nightflyers episodes 1-5 will air every night from Sunday, December 2 through Thursday, December 6 at 10 p.m. with limited commercials. Then episodes 6-10 will air during the same time slots from December 9 through Decemer 13. The show will also air marathon-style on the two weekends following its scheduled release times.
The new trailer for Nightflyers has arrived! Check it out:
Previously, Syfy also released three short teasers (via Collider) that give a great sense of both the production value of Nightflyers, as well as the tone. Check out these glimpses into this creepy science fiction series...
And here's a longer trailer...
Per the official synopsis:
NIGHTFLYERS follows eight maverick scientists and a powerful telepath who embark on an expedition to the edge of our solar system aboard The Nightflyer – a ship with a small tightknit crew and a reclusive captain – in the hope of making contact with alien life. But when terrifying and violent events begin to take place they start to question each other – and surviving the journey proves harder than anyone thought.
A bit of recent Nightflyers news saw a new occupant ascend to the proverbial Iron Throne of the George R.R. Martin adaptation series. That’s because its appointed showrunner, Daniel Cerone, dropped out of the series, reportedly over creative differences, says THR.
Jeff Buhler, will step in as showrunner, likely signaling a smooth transition, since he’s been with the project since the very beginning as its writer and executive producer. Buhler wrote the 2008 Bradley Cooper-starring horror film The Midnight Meat Train, with movie projects in the pipeline such as Descendant, Black River and horror thriller remake film Jacob’s Ladder, as well as a revival of horror film franchise The Grudge.
Moreover, to ensure said smooth series transition, Syfy is reportedly bringing onboard (as a consultant,) Terry Matalas, writer and co-creator of the cable channel’s imminently-ending series, 12 Monkeys, who also brings experience from his time on Nikita, Terra Nova, Star Trek: Enterprise and Star Trek: Voyager.
Phillip Rhys is the latest addition to the Nightflyers cast, reports Deadline. Rhys will recur on the series as Murphy, who is described as “a top systems tech engineer” who become inconsolably disturbed upon learning that “an L-1 telepath” is amongst the Nightflyer’s complement.
Rhys, an English actor, appeared in the 2015 Doctor Who Christmas special as Ramone, one of the episode’s titular “Husbands of River Song.” He’s also fielded TV runs on 24, Nip/Tuck and Survivors, along with guest spots on Rosewood, Glee, CSI, Bones and Warehouse 13.
With Syfy's early-January announcement of Nightflyers’ full series order came the reveal of the show’s cast.
Gretchen Mol will headline the series, playing Dr. Agatha Matheson.
Mol, who burst on the scene as a late-1990s it-girl from roles in Donnie Brasco, Rounders and The Thirteenth Floor, and steamed up the small screen in the 2005 HBO biopic, The Notorious Bettie Page, has made her presence known with recent television runs on Chance, Mozart in the Jungle and Boardwalk Empire. She notably appeared in last year’s Oscars-accruing drama, Manchester by the Sea. She's also booked to appear in the upcoming USA drama series Yellowstone.
And here’s the supporting cast:
Eoin Macken (The Night Shift) as Karl D’Branin
David Ajala (Fast & Furious 6) as Roy Eris
Sam Strike (EastEnders) as Thale
Maya Eshet (Teen Wolf) as Lommie
Angus Sampson (Fargo) as Rowan
Jodie Turner-Smith (The Last Ship) as Melantha Jhirl
Brían F. O'Byrne (Million Dollar Baby) as Auggie
Jeff Buhler, of The Midnight Meat Train and the upcoming horror thriller remake Jacob’s Ladder is the showrunner; a position to which he was promoted, after Daniel Cerone (The Blacklist, The Mentalist) dropped out.
Mike Cahill (I Origin) will direct the pilot.
Onboard as executive producers are Gene Klein, David Bartis and Edge of Tomorrow and The Bourne Identity franchise blockbuster director Doug Liman, all of whom are representing production company Hypnotic, which Liman co-owns with Bartis. Alison Rosenzweig and Michael Gaeta of Gaeta Rosenzweig Films along with Lloyd Ivan Miller and Alice P. Neuhauser of Lloyd Ivan Miller Productions are also onboard.
Netflix is also a co-producer on the Syfy project; a privilege that will yield the streaming giant first-run rights outside the U.S.
Additionally, George R.R. Martin himself will be a credited executive producer on the series.
“We are looking forward to diving deeper into George R. R. Martin’s chilling world of Nightflyers,” Bill McGoldrick, executive vice president of scripted development for NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, said in a July statement. “The script that Jeff delivered encapsulates this classic sci-fi horror story and adapts it to a platform where we can truly explore the depths of madness.”
Robert Jaffe, who wrote the screenplay for the 1987 Nightflyers film, is onboard the series as a producer. It doesn't look like Martin will be involved with the series, at least for now.
The story of the George R.R. Martin-conceived supernatural space thriller is set on the eve of Earth’s destruction, depicting the travails of the crew of the most advanced ship in the galaxy in the titular spacecraft the Nightflyer. Adrift in space without a planet to call home, the goal of the surviving humans is to intercept a mysterious alien ship which is believed to hold the key for their survival. However, as the ship closes in on its destination, it becomes apparent that the Nightflyer’s onboard AI and its elusive captain – with mysterious motivations – may be leading the crew on a primrose path ending in the hopeless, horrific darkness of deep space.
The genesis of Nightflyers occurred with George R.R. Martin’s original 1980 novella of the same name, for which he received Japan’s Seiun Award in 1983 for Best Foreign Language Short Story of the Year. The story was subsequently collected as the title entry in Martin’s 1985 Nightflyers collection. The 1987 film adaptation, directed by Robert Collector (Jungle Warriors), starred perennial 1980s movie love interest Catherine Mary Stewart and Dynasty’s Michael Praed, manifesting with a limited release that grossed a paltry $1.145 million dollars at the box office (and sent Martin back to television to write for Beauty and the Beast).
What you need to know about Netflix's The Umbrella Academy, including latest news, release date, trailer, and much more!
Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba's The Umbrella Academy is coming to Netflix as a live action series. The comic book series, which debuted in 2007, was first optioned as a movie before Dark Horse signed a deal with Universal Cable Productions to adapt the comic as a TV series.
The live action series follows the estranged members of a dysfunctional family of superheroes -- The Monocle, Spaceboy, The Kraken, The Rumor, The Séance, Number Five, The Horror, and the seemingly powerless Vanya -- as they work together to solve their father’s mysterious death while coming apart at the seams due to their divergent personalities and abilities.
Way began writing The Umbrella Academy just a year after the release of My Chemical Romance's magnum opus, The Black Parade. The series is 15 issues of Eisner Award-winning goodness that has continued to inform Way's career as a comic book writer, especially with his current run on Doom Patrol and his Young Animal line at DC. Artist Gabriel Ba has also done some of his best work on the series. (If you want something really great by Ba, check out Daytripper, which he created with his twin brother, artist Fabio Moon.)
The Umbrella Academy has been on a bit of a hiatus since 2009. Only two volumes, The Apocalypse Suite and Dallas, have been released thus far, although Way and Ba plan at least two more volumes. The third volume is called Hotel Oblivion, and it's been in the works since at least 2013 when Way tweeted out an update with some sketches of new characters. Way and Ba had agreed to begin work on Hotel Oblivion in 2014, but a lot's happened since then. Besides his music projects, Way has his own line of comics and two comic book series to write.
While it's not likely the Umbrella Academy will return on the page any time soon, fans will at least gave the show to look forward to. – Here's everything else we know:
The Umbrella Academy Release Date
Netflix has officially announced that all 10 one-hour episodes of The Umbrella Academy will premiere will premiere on February 15, 2019. Best Valentine ever.
The Umbrella Academy Photos
Here is our first look of actual production stills from The Umbrella Academy. Looks like we've got everything but the trailer now.
Netflix, via the verified (and relatively new) Twitter account @UmbrellaAcad, has revealed the very first look of the show's cast all in character. Sort of. They're faces are a bit obscured but the gang is definitely all here.
— Umbrella Academy (@UmbrellaAcad) July 19, 2018
Here we have: #1 Luther Hargreeves a.k.a. Spaceboy (Tom Hooper), #2 Diego Hargreeves a.k.a. The Kraken (David Castañeda), #3 Allison Hargreeves a.k.a. The Rumor (Emmy Raver-Lampman), #4 Klaus Hargreeves a.k.a. The Séance (Robert Sheehan) #5 a.k.a. The Boy (Aidan Gallagher), and #7 Vanya Hargreeves a.k.a. The White Violin (Ellen Page).
This is the first look we've received of the actors in costume and hopefully more teaser-y goodness is on the way.
The Umbrella Academy Character Posters
Fresh from New York Comic Con 2018, The Umbrella Academy has some nifty new character posters. We'd explain who everyone was but the posters pretty much have that covered.
The Umbrella Academy News
Kate Walsh is the latest addition to The Umbrella Academy cast. She will play a recurring character called The Handler, officially described as “a composed and confident leader of a mysterious, bureaucratic company who is always ready to manage any situation — though it's best not to get on her bad side. Her charm is her greatest strength and she uses it to her advantage to complete the business of her organization.”
Walsh is currently fielding a run on the imminently-returning hit Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why. She’s best known from her run on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, which was parlayed to the spinoff series, Private Practice. She also starred in shows such as Bad Judge, Fargo, The Drew Carey Show and films such as Girls Trip, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Legion.
The Umbrella Academy Cast
Netflix has revealed the core cast of the show. Here are the actors who will portray the members of the Umbrella Academy:
Ellen Page (X-Men: Days of Future Past) will star as Vanya, who is estranged from the rest of the family because of her lack of powers. Vanya is a very important character in the first arc of the comics, as she goes through a bit of self-discovery that puts her at odds with the superheroes she once called a family.
Tom Hopper (Game of Thrones) plays Luther, aka Spaceboy. He has super-strength, and after a terrible accident during an expedition to Mars, his head had to be transplanted onto the body of a gorilla. Ehem...
Emmy Raver-Lampman (Hamilton) will play Allison, aka The Rumor, who can alter reality by lying.
David Castaneda (El Chicano) is Diego, codenamed The Kraken. He is sort of a fuse between Aquaman and Batman. He can hold his breath indefinitely, which gives him an advantage when in water, and is an expert knife thrower.
Robert Sheehan (Misfits) is perfectly cast as Klaus aka The Seance, the most morbid character of the group. His powers, which manifest only when he's barefoot, include levitation, telekinesis, and the ability to contant the dead. In the comics, Klaus is killed at one point but rejected from both Heaven and Hell.
Aidan Gallagher (Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn) is Number Five, simply codenamed The Boy. He can effortlessly travel in time and does not age due to a temporal condition.
Colm Feore (House of Cards) will play Sir Reginald Hargreeves, the leader of the Umbrella Academy. He is the billionaire who adopted all of the strange children that made up the superhero team. Hargreeves was known to be manipulative and cold towards the kids, something that has scarred the heroes later in life.
Adam Godley (Breaking Bad) will play Pogo, a genetically-engineered and talking chimpanzee. Pogo is a point of comfort for the Umbrella Academy, acting in much more of a fatherly and nurturing role than Hargreeves ever did.
Ashley Madekwe (Revenge) plays Detective Patch, who is at odds with the vigilantes that protect her city. She prefers to play things by the book.
Mary J. Blige has joined the cast as well. She will play the role of Cha-Cha, the insane time-traveling assassin first introduced in the second arc of the comic, "Dallas," which reimagines the Kennedy assassination. Cha-Cha, along with her partner Hazel, believes in using the most violent method possible to dispatch her prey.
Hazel will be played by Cameron Britton (Mindhunter). According to the official character description, Hazel will become at odds with Cha-Cha at some point after their time-traveling blood-soaked adventures begin to wear on him.
John Magaro (The Big Short) will be a series regular, playing Leonard Peabody, described as “a sweet Average Joe,” who, while dismissed as being somewhat of a milquetoast, strikes up an unlikely romance with Vanya (Ellen Page) that plays out against the backdrop of the larger events of the series.
The Umbrella Academy Poster
Here's the first promo poster for The Umbrella Academy:
The Umbrella Academy Details
The Umbrella Academy will be produced by Universal Cable Productions. Steve Blackman (Fargo, Altered Carbon) will serve as executive producer and showrunner, with additional executive producers Bluegrass Television and Mike Richardson and Keith Goldberg from Dark Horse Entertainment. Gerard Way will serve as co-executive producer. The pilot script was adapted from the comic book series by Jeremy Slater (The Exorcist).
In 2016, Slater talked to Collider about his script:
I definitely wrote the pilot for The Umbrella Academy. I think it’s really exciting. I think it’s really surprising and funny. I took the job because I’m such an immense fan of what Gerard [Way] and Gabriel [Ba, the artist] did with that book. It’s one of those things where I would rather be the guy to screw it up than sit back and let someone else come in and do the bad adaptation. So, I was really adamant about taking the job, but the only way I was going to do it was if I could make it weird and make it true to the spirit of the book. There’s a lot of weird shit in The Umbrella Academy, and it would be very easy to sand down some of those weird edges and make it more familiar to American audiences. I’m fighting very hard to not let that happen. We’re shopping around the pilot, at the moment. We’re trying to find the right home for it and trying to find someone as excited as we are.
Rawson Marshal Thurber (Dodgeball) was originally tied to the project when it was still being considered for the big screen. He told CBR in 2016 that the series would be too difficult to adapt as a film, citing the weirdness of the book as something that could be lost in translation at a big studio.
Slater echoed Thurber's thoughts in his interview with Collider:
I think the relationships and the dynamics are so rich in that book that, if you tried to distill it down to 90 minutes, everyone gets reduced to a cartoon and a caricature. It really is The Royal Tenenbaums with superpowers. In order to do justice to that premise, you need time to unpack those characters, and dig into what makes them tick and the different relationships that they have with each other. There is so much fertile material there to tell really interesting, really funny, really unique stories that to compress it all into an hour and a half and throw in a bunch of giant action sequences, you’re going to wind up with some total mish-mash. It’s going to be Mystery Men. It’s going to be yet another wacky comedic superhero movie that no one really wants to see. It has its own unique DNA, and I think people should respect that DNA, or they should not do the project.
Tom Taylor and Juan Cabal will bring you tales of the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man.
Big changes are in store for the world of Spider-Man thanks to the Spider-Geddon event. One such change will occur when Spectacular Spider-Man comes to a close in December and is replaced by a brand spanking new Spidey title in January 2019.
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man is a brand new series from writer Tom Taylor (X-Men: Red, All-New Wolverine) and artist Juan Cabal will focus on, as the title suggests, Spidey and his neighborhood.
At New York Comic Con, Spider-Man group editor Nick Lowe announced the title to a group of Spidey-philes. “Nick Lowe contacted me in a period where I was weighing up a lot of exciting writing offers, but as soon as I saw Spider-Man in the email, there was nothing else in my mind," Taylor said in a statement. "Spidey was my first Marvel hero and a character I've always wanted an opportunity to write. As a fan, this is a bit of a dream come true. I was already writing X-Men and Star Wars comics for Marvel, and to add Spider-Man to that is, frankly, a little ridiculous."
As for the series itself, Taylor said, that Peter Parker is, “… a guy who saves the world, but he's still struggling to pay his bills with his housemates. That's the heart of this series. We're going to tell some big stories here, and introduce an all-new hero, but it's all about the micro. This is Peter finding adventure in his apartment building, a few doors down."
It sounds like this new Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man series will serve as a contrast to the multiverse spanning Spider-Geddon event, but even the small scale Spidey tales have a huge heart.
Here's the official synopsis:
"The new series tells the tale of the power and responsibility that the wallcrawler bears as both a Super Hero and as the guy who lives next door!
And guess what? Spider-Man is the worst neighbor ever!
There’s always crazy villains and property damage and drama and he catches the villains and he tries to fix the damage and he helps carry your groceries and actually that property damage helps keep the rent down? You know what? Spider-Man is the best neighbor ever and this book will give you a closer look at Spider-Man’s neighborhood than any book ever before."
The Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man title should sound rather familiar to Spidey fans as it is a relaunch of a Peter David penned series that ran from 2005-2007. Taylor has been doing some great work on the X-Men titles as of late so his addition should be very welcome to Spidey fans in 2019.
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
Get ready for a new Batmobile and a bonkers take on Batman mythology in Batman: Three Jokers.
“The coolest thing about this story is no one knows anything about it,” Johns said at NYCC. “It’s a pretty mature take. I’ve never gotten to write a Batman and Joker story, and Jay’s never gotten to draw one. We wanted to tell the best Batman story, the best Joker story possible.”
Johns said that he always set out to fix DC characters that needed a boost like Aquaman, Green Lantern, Booster Gold, and Hawkman. But to Johns, Batman was always a perfect character. While Johns and his Doomsday Clock collaborator Gary Frank worked together on a pair of Batman: Earth One graphic novels, he has never worked on a Bat-focused book in the main DC Universe until now.
As for Fabok, he’s thrilled to be working on the project, “I’m so excited to get up and work, and every time I hand in a page, I’m really proud of it,” Fabok says. “I feel there’s a magic to this story. I had chills, I really feel like Geoff has come up with the ultimate Batman/Joker story.”
Batman: Three Jokersdeals with the three heroes that the Joker has hurt the most: Batman, Batgirl, and Jason Todd. Johns and Fabok then revealed the three eras of the Joker they will use in the coming epic. First, there is the “first appearance” Joker from 1940, then the classic Silver Age "Clown Prince of Crime" Joker, and finally, the Brian Bolland-inspired Killing Joke Joker (the book's cover is something of an homage to that title). During the panel, the creative team also unveiled their take on the Batmobile, which looks something like an amalgamation of the 1989 cinematic Batmobile and the 1966 Adam West version of the famed car.
While there’s still plenty of mystery surrounding the book, now DC fans have an idea of the focus and aesthetic of this highly anticipated project. There’s still no release date set for Batman: Three Jokers, but it should arrive in 2019.
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
The paint's not even dry yet, but Chrissie Hynde is Adding the Blue to a trace of the outline of a shadow.
Chrissie Hynde's tattooed love boys smeared paint stick all over their scars and lumps and bumps, but the former Pretender can't fake it anymore. She will display 200 never-before-seen paintings in the book Adding The Blue. The edition of colorful still life studies and expressive abstracts is being published by Genesis, which has brought out art books from musical icons like David Bowie, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones and Small Faces' Ronnie Wood.
"Coming off tour can be a tricky affair," Hynde said in a statement. "It feels like jumping off a trampoline. Painting is the one thing I've found to adjust back to civilian life. Genesis has been there collecting it all into book form. Now you can see for yourself. In fact, blame them."
Adding The Blue is introduced by the Royal Academy’s Artistic Director, Tim Marlow and visionary musician and artist, Brian Eno. "These paintings wake me up, show me life, make me want to get up and do something," Eno writes in the foreword.
Hynde first rendered an oil painting of a ceramic vase made by a friend in 2015, and has now produced nearly 200 canvases. "Finally, I thought, 'now’s the time,'" Hynde said in a statement. "I always thought I would get into painting, but I got waylaid by rock ’n’ roll."
Hynde put The Pretenders together in 1978, merging the sounds of British Mods with punk Rockers, equal parts The Kinks, The Who, and The Ramones and Sex Pistol. Over nine albums they showed us what that hole was for. Hynde released her first solo album, Stockholm, in 2014, trading licks with Neil Young and, most recently, Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys.
"Painting is pretty much like writing songs," Hynde said in a statement. "I might know what I want to write about, but generally I just dive in." Each Deluxe edition copy will also contain an exclusive, signed print of Hynde’s "Sunday Painter" self-portrait. The images will be captioned with Chrissie’s thoughts and reflections. The front cover will feature Hynde's "Monogram II."
Only 1,000 limited edition copies are being published, presented in a cloth-bound solander box, half-bound in linen. All will be individually signed by Hynde. The 212-page volume is printed on heavyweight uncoated paper, with hand-torn page edges.
Culture Editor Tony Sokol cut his teeth on the wire services and also wrote and produced New York City's Vampyr Theatre and the rock opera AssassiNation: We Killed JFK. Read more of his work here or find him on Twitter @tsokol.
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
The Walking Dead season 9 will once again borrow from the comics. We've dissected "A New Beginning" to see what's in store!
This Walking Dead article contains spoilers.
If you watched The Walking Dead season 8 finale, "Wrath," you may have noticed an interesting trend. Rick Grimes had quite a bit to say about "a new world" or a "new beginning." In fact, the entirety of season eight and its finale seemed to be setting up the arrival of a very different world. A world where not only is there no all-out war against the Saviors, there is no war at all.
Well, season 8 may have been foreshadowing something very specific. The next saga in The Walking Dead comic universe looks very different from everything that came before it. Robert Kirkman tried something rather experimental in terms of storytelling and time jumps.
Given what we've seen in footage from season 9, it's clear that The Walking Dead season 9 will adapt the "A New Beginning" arc from the comics this season. That's The Walking Dead issues #127-132 by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard. We've gone back to the comics to see what season 9 has in store!
Read on to find out what "A New Beginning" entails. But beware - the following contains HUGE spoilers for The Walking Dead comic series and possibly the TV show.
The Walking Dead’s Volume 22 “A New Beginning” represents a dramatic time jump for the series that allows writer Kirkman a chance to interact with his characters in a new context. On a capitalistic level though, it also conveniently provides an easy jumping on point for viewers of the TV show who want to give the comic a shot but are intimidated by the 126 issues already in circulation.
To help with both those artistic and financial goals, “A New Beginning” introduces several new characters right off the bat to serve as our guides to this new world. Issue 127 opens with a new group of survivors we haven’t met before. A woman named Magna is their de facto leader and other members include Luke, Yumiko, Kelly, Connie, and Bernie. Magna’s group is experiencing a bit of a crisis. They’ve survived the zombie apocalypse by traveling around with a trailer that was hitched to horses. The trailer is no longer a safe haven as Magna’s group quickly and unexpectedly becomes surrounded by a group of walkers that emerge from the woods.
Magna nearly gets bit on the arm before our old friend Paul “Jesus” Monroe arrives to rescue them, though sadly Bernie is killed by the horde. Jesus shepherds (hehe) Magna and her remaining crew to Alexandria where they act as the reader’s cipher, being introduced to a world and a community that is completely foreign to us now that two years have passed (though producers say the time jump in the show will be one and a half years).
Since Magna and her friends’ introduction, the comic series hasn’t found many relevant or interesting things to do with them. They largely functioned as an introduction into this new time-jumped storyline and have operated only as tertiary characters since then, though Magna and Yumiko have seen more opportunities as of late. Still, they’re an important part of the time jump and the show may even find some renewed uses for them beyond that.
“A New Beginning” also introduces the character of Siddiq, but we’re already pretty familiar with him. The only question is whose role from the comics will he take on in season 9? Another character the volume introduces is someone we may have already seen. Dante (more on him in the fourth section) is a head-strong and charming Hilltop soldier who develops feelings for Maggie. Dante kind of resembles a current character on The Walking Dead season 8 - the captured Savior soldier turned sympathetic Hilltoper named Alden (Callan McAuliffe). He certainly seems to harbor a lot of respect for Maggie Rhee. With Lauren Cohan leaving the show midseason, maybe they'll find someone else for Alden. I hear Michonne will soon be available...
New Looks for Old Faces
The Jesus who rescues Magna’s group looks a bit different from the Jesus we’re used to. As it turns out, people can change quite a bit in two years. Take a look at the man that fans have endearingly referred to as “Bushido Jesus.”
Paul has let his hair grow out and it makes him look more badass than ever before. Almost all of the key characters look different in “A New Beginning.” Not only that but they are sometimes slightly different people overall from who we’re used to.
Rick is now “Old Man Rick.” He’s shaved his graying hair, walks with a limp thanks to Negan, and now has a prosthetic hand covering up his stump. That likely won’t be a part of the show, as Rick’s hands remain accounted for.
The old Sheriff has essentially retired from the life of adventuring and has settled into the role of Alexandria’s full-time leader. He’s a welcome face for all new potential citizens.
His son, Carl is growing into a pretty relatable young man himself.
The show, of course, has made the baffling decision to kill off Carl, so maybe when season nine opens, Siddiq will be missing an eye and take to wearing cool bandanas.
Like Rick, Maggie has embraced her leadership role at the Hilltop. Her appearance and demeanor changes as a result. She appears to be more “motherly” while the general aura she projects is that of a resolute leader more than ever before.
Rick and Maggie actors Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan will be departing the show at some point in season 9 so our appreciation of their new looks will be fleeting, so expect a big detour from the comics concerning their storylines.
Dwight has finally realized that growing his hair out will cover that ugly burn. He is now a full-time Alexandrian and is an important deputy and ally to Rick, much like Tyreese and Abraham in the comics and Daryl on the show. Dwight's role in season nine will likely change now that Daryl has scared him off. He may not appear next season at all.
No character, however, has undergone a bigger change than Negan. Once the “swinging dick of the world,” Negan is now a prisoner at Alexandria. His hair and beard are overgrown and unkempt but he does maintain his rather dark sense of humor. Both Rick and Carl like to visit him in his cell during times of need as though he is their own private Hannibal Lecter. He’s an asshole and therefore knows how other assholes that Alexandria might encounter will act.
Other characters haven’t had extreme makeovers physically but do begin the new arc in quite different places. Eugene has gone from cowardly pariah to one of the most important men in the new world. His ability to carefully read and follow instructions have made him Alexandria’s foremost scientist and engineer.
In the comics, Michonne has quite simply run away after the traumatic events of "All Out War." She now lives in Oceanside and spends her days fishing for the network of communities. Since Michonne’s role on the television show has evolved quite a bit, it remains to be seen if she will take over for Rick as the leader of Alexandria once the Sheriff is gone...
Alexandria Block Party
In addition to most major characters receiving a makeover, Alexandria receives one itself. Following "All Out War" in both the show and comics, Alexandria is in rough shape. It's been attacked by gunfire, grenades, and more. Many houses are just burnt out husks. By the time "A New Beginning" roles around, Alexandria has largely recovered.
Buildings have been rebuilt for one, but more importantly, the Alexandrians are building new things on their own. Alexandria, the Hilltop, and the Kingdom all have thriving agriculture and trade with each other. Even Oceanside and the Sanctuary are involved in this trade network that is meticulously maintained through well-guarded and patrolled routes.
Thanks to the genius of Eugene, Alexandria has windmills, grain houses, irrigation, and many other Medieval-era luxuries. In the comics, Kirkman correctly assumes that all readers will accept these modest technological advancements within a relatively short timeframe. The show, however, has already introduced an agent of change to quicken the pace. Remember Georgie and her gift of knowledge to Maggie? That knowledge comes in the form of books and Eugene is still around to read those books, so expect some "advancements" at the settlements.
So what do the Alexandrians do now that they have an extended era of peace and prosperity? Throw a party of course! The three volumes that season nine is likely to cover are "A New Beginning,""Whispers into Screams," and "Life and Death" (or issues 127-144). All of these volumes deal with the Alexandrians planning a spring festival for members of all the communities to visit. The festival finally comes around in "Life and Death" and all in all it goes pretty well!
Alexandrians, Hilltoppers, Kingdomers, ex-Saviors, and Oceansiders are all able to trade their wares with one another. Eugene even finds a nice CB radio that could come in handy. Things turn dark, however, when people start to go missing from the festival and then a line of heads on stakes are discovered on the outskirts of the communities' territory. The Whisperers have arrived.
Nearly every era of The Walking Dead is defined by a singular villain. The early years were the Governor and Woodbury and then Negan and the Saviors. At first, "A New Beginning" looks like it will just be a leisurely study in agriculture and farming techniques for our protagonists. Alas, that is not to be, as the end of the volume introduces a new, dangerous, and - quite frankly - disgusting threat.
The Whisperers are a group of individuals who have chosen to survive the zombie apocalypse by becoming the dead. They remove the flesh and viscera of corpses and wrap it around themselves as gruesome coats and masks. This is the strategy of masking one's scent from the walking dead that Rick and the other characters sometimes use. The Whisperers, however, take it to the absolute extreme - living most of their lives within those undead "costumes."
The Whisperers received their name from frightened Hilltoppers and Alexandrians who hear their "whispers," as the villains walk among the dead. A group, led by new character Dante, is ordered by Maggie to go find and rescue a member of a missing caravan. They eventually run afoul of this group of Whisperers, making first contact. Dante is taken hostage and the communities must gather together to negotiate his release.
The Whisperers will offer a fascinating new dynamic for the show. Their "society" is somewhat bestial and completely amoral, similar to the TV show's "The Wolves." They eschew names altogether. Their leader, a middle-aged woman, is named "Alpha." And her second-in-command, a hulking seven-foot tall man, is called "Beta."
Alpha and Beta have both been cast for season 9. As has Alphas's daughter, Lydia...so full steam ahead on the Whisperers.
The communities and the Whisperers eventually go to war, but that might be a story for another season. The Walking Dead season 9 will be jam-packed as is with just these few volumes.
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
DC's Wonder Comics imprint will return Young Justice to continuity.
Young Justice Season 3 is coming to the DC Universe streaming service in early 2019, and DC has tapped writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Patrick Gleason (Action Comics) to bring the team back to comics, as well. As part of Bendis’ new Wonder Comics imprint, Young Justice will get a new series in 2019. The Tim Drake version of Robin, the newly-returned Impulse, and the long-awaited return to official continuity of the Conner Kent Superboy will all form the heart of the team. But joining these classic youthful DC heroes will be a bevy of fresh DC faces.
Brian Michael Bendis revealed the other members of Young Justice team at New York Comic Con. First there is Jenny Hex, a descendant of the classic DC gunfighter Jonah Hex. Jenny will be introduced in the fourth issue of the Wal-Mart Batman series by Bendis and Nick Derington and the writer revealed that, “Jenny has inherited a chest of DC artifacts and is drawn into the world of Young Justice.”
Joining Jenny will be Teen Lantern, who, according to Bendis, “…hacks into a Green Lantern power battery.” Bendis revealed that the new Lantern character will be of Bolivian descent, a fact that has made front page news in Bolivia. Bendis described the character as a Bolivian Tony Stark and will have skills and motivations similar to Bendis’ Marvel creation Riri Williams.
Another fan favorite DC concept will also play a part in Young Justice. “We’re bringing back Amethyst and Gem World,” Bendis told the New York DC faithful. “We will be adding an Amethyst book in the next wave of Wonder Comics, but this is where we bring back Gem World.”
Bendis promised that the return of Conner Kent will be set up in his Superman books which leads to the fully in continuity Young Justice.
Other titles in the teen-focused Wonder Comics line include Naomi, which will be written by Brian Michael Bendis and David Walker, with art by Jamal Campbell, Wonder Twins by Mark Russell and Stephen Byrne, and Dial H For Hero by Sam Humphries and Joe Quinones.
We'll have more updates on the new Young Justice series soon!
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
At New York Comic Con, one fan asked about the show's history of representing sexual violence in the #MeToo era.
While most of the night was lighthearted and exuberant, the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden got a bit more sober when one brave fan asked about the discussion of non-consensual sex that appeared in the Season 4 premiere between Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Ian (John Bell), as well as the show's history of representing sexual violence in the #MeToo era.
"How do you feel about what is happening in our country right now?" asked the fan, after summarizing the characters' respective histories as survivors of sexual assault.
It's a valid question—one that shouldn't be seen as hostile or combative, but was, it seemed, by some in the 5,600-seat theater, who cheered when showrunner Ronald D. Moore said that Outlander is not inherently a political show.
“Ultimately, the show is about these characters and this story," said Moore. "We don’t choose to look at it as a platform for political ideas. But at the same time, all of us live in the world, all of us live in the society, we can’t help but have what happens in the world inform what we do. We try to be cognizant of our audience…and try to talk with our show and not preach to the audience that this is our point of view. We look at the world that we live in just like you do and it can’t help but sort of influence our work."
Every story we tell is political. I am suspicious of shows that call themselves apolitical because I think that is often a stand-in explanation for a story that is actively reinforcing the status quo, which is still a political act (though one that is more invisible to many in our mainstream culture).
There is no such thing as apolitical in storytelling. Storytelling is a political act. Mainstream, commerical storytelling, even moreso—if not in intent, then in influence. When it comes to historical dramas, these stories are never about the times in which they are set, but the times in which they are told. All stories are.
I don't think Moore is an apolitical storyteller—after all, this is the man who created the reimagined Battlestar Galactica—and I don't think he is trying to argue that he is. It is, however, disappointing to hear a fan bring up the subject of sexual assault and non-consensual sex—both of which have been represented more than once on this series, often in helpful ways—and to see it somewhat swept under the rug in a forum as large and influential as New York Comic Con. This is not what this space is explicitly for, but perhaps it should be. If we don't start making more room for honest, open conversations about sexual assault and violence in our culture, then we can never hope to diminish its prevalence.
The subject of sexual assault is handled beautifully in the Outlander Season 4 premiere. I would have liked to see the broaching of the subject responded to as supportively and non-judgementally as Jamie did with Young Ian in the episode screened. Perhaps next New York Comic Con, we will get it right.
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
Joshua Williamson and Howard Porter will tell the story of Barry Allen's first year on the job in The Flash: Year One.
I have gone on at length, at virtually every opportunity, about Josh Williamson's tenure as writer on The Flash. Williamson and numerous artists have crafted a run that encompasses decades of Flash continuity, the entire Flash family, numerous rogues, and more over the last two years. He is far from finished.
Williamson will reunite with artist Howard Porter, who drew the excellent "The Button" story last year for "The Flash: Year One." It's exactly what it says it is, a deep dive into Barry Allen's origin story. Believe it or not, Barry's early days as Flash have never really been explored in comics. His origin story from 1956's Showcase #4 is relatively unchanged, and that brief tale saw him emerge as a more or less fully formed hero. The only significant new element to Barry's early days came from The Flash: Rebirth by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver, which introduced the concept (later made famous on The Flash TV series) that Barry's mother had been murdered by the Reverse-Flash, in a retroactive attempt to punish his greatest enemy.
But as for how Barry learned to harness his powers, design his costume, and first encounter his famed rogues? That has never been explored in detail on the comics page. Wally West had his own "Year One" story, Mark Waid and Greg LaRocque's excellent "Born to Run" in 1994, but Barry's early days remain unexplored in modern comics. It's tough to think of a better writer than Williamson, who understands the Flash family better than anyone since the days of Mark Waid or Geoff Johns, to tell this story.
"We're going to tell the story of Barry's first year as the Flash," Williamson told a crowd at New York Comic Con, "Barry Allen's sense of hope, inspiration, and optimism is an important thing, and I really wanted to tell a story about how he came from when his mother died, where he could have had a negative view of things, and how he went from that to being the Flash and the hero we all know."
You can see a teaser image (presumably the cover of the first chapter) by Howard Porter at the top of the article. Aside from the awesome visual of Barry in a proto-Flash costume atop a pile of discarded, smoldering sneakers, I can't help but notice the red and blue color scheme. From Barry's very first appearance, it was revealed that he had been a fan of the Jay Garrick version of Flash, having read his adventures in the pages of comic books. Could the blue pants here (ok, fine, they're blue jeans), be a nod to Barry's Jay fandom? Considering that Williamson and Porter were the ones who brought Jay Garrick back to DC continuity with "The Button," this would be a fun callback.
"The Flash: Year One" won't be a separate mini-series. It will run as an arc through the pages of the main title some time in spring 2019.
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
DC wants more Pearl, and the Scarlet TV series is getting a little closer to reality!
Saturday at the Brian Michael Bendis Spotlight Panel at New York Comic Con, co-creators of Jessica Jones writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Gaydos announced that their new Jinxworld series Pearl will become a regular series.
Pearl is the story of a Japanese tattoo artist trying to survive the world of the Yakuza underworld. “When the numbers on the first issues came in,” Bendis told the panel, “DC sent us to series.”
As for Gaydos, the artist said he is having the time of his life with Pearl. “I’m having so much fun experimenting,” the artist said. “I can only see it getting better.” When the series returns after the end of the first six issue arc, Pearl will travel to Japan. Gaydos called the series the “…hardest series I have ever worked on, but I’m having a blast.”
Pearl has received critical acclaim since its debut a few months ago and has become an exciting and worthy follow up to Bendis and Gaydos’ work at Marvel. But the Jinxworld goodness doesn’t end there, as Bendis provided an update on Scarlet was well. Bendis was joined on stage with his former Daredevil artist Alex Maleev and gave the fans a clue on what’s next for Scarlet both in comics and on TV. In the next arc of the comic series, Bendis informed, “Scarlet will have to survive an American Revolution on the streets of Portland.”
As for the long in-development Scarlet TV series, Bendis teased, “I can’t say what network it’s going to be on because of NDAs, but I can say that the network features Shows when it’s Time.” Well, you certainly don’t have to be Nostradamus there do you?
Scarletshould be a daring and controversial TV experience in the currnet political climate as it focuses on a young progressive revolutionary that goes up against government corruption in the city of Portland. Look for updates on Scarlet, the new Pearl series, and much more Jinxworld goodness in the coming months.
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
Cloak and Dagger: Negative Exposure will be a digital first series from Marvel.
Fans of Freeform’s Cloak and Dagger TV series will be happy to learn that Marvel announced a new digital first series entitled Cloak and Dagger: Negative Exposure at New York Comic Con. The new series will be written by the author of the first Cloak and Dagger digital series, Dennis Hopeless, with art by Francesco Manna.
“I have gotten to write more Cloak and Dagger than anyone has in decades,” Hopeless said, while discussing the characters that have been exposed to a whole new generation of fans thanks to their hit Freeform series.
Cloak and Dagger: Negative Exposure #1 will digitally drop in November, and the titular heroes taking on the deadly Spider-Man villain Mister Negative.
“It’s a super scary, horror movie, Darkforce story,” Hopeless said, promising a series that will appeal to both new fans of the TV series and fans of the classic Marvel version of the characters. Hopeless also teased that the new Cloak and Dagger series will explore the Dark Dimension and present Mister Negative as one of the most terrifying villains on the means streets of the Marvel Universe. In fact, Hopeless is no stranger to those mean streets as the writer guided the late, lamented Spider-Woman series. Hopeless will bring his same sense of action and character to Cloak and Dagger as he promised that the new series will focus on the duo as individuals coming together to take on their greatest threat in Mister Negative.
For the less tech-minded Marvel fans, Cloak and Dagger: Negative Exposure will be released as a printed collection in December. Truly, it is a good time to be a fan of Tandy and Tyrone as the classic light and dark heroes have experienced quite the renaissance.
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
If Matt Murdock dies, who will be the new Daredevil?
Daredevil may be ready to kick ass and take names on the third season of his Netflix TV series, but in the pages of Marvel Comics, Matt Murdock is about to die. Over the past few years, Marvel has had success with both the death of Captain America and the death of Wolverine (both are currently alive and well, by the way), and now it’s Daredevil’s turn to leave this mortal coil.
The death of Matt Murdock has been hinted at in the current Daredevil series written by Charles Soule, but it looks like Marvel is committing to putting DD six feet under. Soule is no stranger to killing off iconic Marvel character, as as the writer was also responsible for the Death of Wolverine story from a few years ago.
At the Marvel: True Believers panel at New York Comic Con, Marvel announced that a new series entitled The Man Without Fear by writer Jed MacKay and artist Danilo Beyruth will follow the "Death of Daredevil" story.
So the questions must be asked, who is the new Man Without Fear? Is it Blindspot, Daredevil’s sometimes crime fighting partner, or will it be a completely new character?
Written by Soule with art by Phil Noto, “The Death of Daredevil” hits October 17th, running from Daredevil #609 to Daredevil #612. Man Without Fear will hit shelves in in January and one has to wonder who will be responsible for the death of Mister Murdock. Will it be Wilson Fisk (who also just happens to be the new mayor of New York City), Bullseye, the Hand, or one of the newer villains introduced by Soule? Whoever pulls the trigger, it will be fascinating to see who wears the horns and what the fallout will be when Marvel, MacKay, and Beyruth unleash The Man Without Fear.
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
Vertigo is back, and Hex Wives feels like something that could have fit right in with the glory days of the legendary DC Comics imprint.
Vertigo Comics is back! As part of the new wave of the DC mature reader imprint, Vertigo will launch a book perfectly made for the label. Hex Wives comes from writer Ben Blacker (Thrilling Adventure Hour) and artist Mirka Andolfo. Let’s let the fine folks at Vertigo describe this daring and progressive look at the world of dark magic and gender conflicts:
For hundreds of years a war has been waged between a coven of perpetually reincarnating witches and the all-male conspiracy known as the Architects. After the death of the lead Architect in 2005 it seemed the witches had finally defeated their foes.
Now, 13 years later, waking up in a perfect cookie cutter home at the end of a cul-de-sac in a sunny corner of suburbia, Isadora has no recollection of her past life as the leader of a witch coven, nor her soulmate Nadiya, let alone the centuries-old war she has waged in defense of the soul of America…
It was our pleasure to sit down with Blacker and Andolfo at New York Comic Con to discuss Hex Wives, the legacy of Vertigo, politics, DC TV and film, and the potential for Hex Wives cosplay.
Den of Geek: So how does it feel to be part of the new Vertigo?
Mirka Andolfo: I am very happy to be part of Vertigo. I have been working for Vertigo, but now I am happy to be on this project with Ben because it has such darkness.
Ben Blacker: I grew up on those Vertigo books. Y, the Last Man, Fables, Preacher, those were my go to.
Vertigo is 25 years old. The way they’re bringing Vertigo back, it feels like the old Vertigo in so many ways. I’ve gotten to read six of the seven books that are coming out, and all of them feel like stories that the creators are compelled to tell. They have something to say. That’s something the old Vertigo did, but the new Vertigo has a modern social awareness that feels very contemporary. You can’t just tell a story anymore. You have to have something to say, and all the books are doing that. From Mark Doyle to the editors under him, Vertigo is giving us that opportunity.
For Hex Wives, it’s very much Fables… we do a similar thing where we play on familiar tropes. Pop culture characters you’ve seen before, in Fables' case it was fairy tales, in Hex Wives, it's witches. We’re playing in a similar sandbox. Border Town has a lot in common with Preacher. American Carnage has a lot in common with 100 Bullets.
In the old days, Vertigo was very progressive, but there really wasn’t much of a push back. Now, politics becomes the story rather than the real story. Is there ever a time you are afraid politics might become bigger than your story?
Blacker: No. Like I said about all the Vertigo books, they are all books the creators are passionate about. It’s something I care a lot about. I’ve spent the last ten years seeing my wife, my mother, my sisters, my female friends being minimized and ignored in the workplace and social circles. It makes me angry. My father taught me we are all people. That shouldn’t be controversial or in question. I think there’s a lack of empathy in the world…even if you disagree with someone, you still have to try and understand the world from their point of view. To Kill a Mockingbird is a book for white people. It’s a book so white people can understand that we are all equal. If there’s pushback on that, I feel bad for people pushing back.
So Miss Andolfo, where are you from and what have you enjoyed about Hex Wives?
Andolfo: I’m from Italy. And I love drawing the suburban houses in the book…so different. They don’t exist in Italy. I did a lot of research. Many TV shows are an inspiration of these stories. I got to see old TV shows.
Blacker: There’s a very interesting effect in the first arc. It’s accomplished by Mirka, an Italian artist, translating these 1950s tropes. What it results in is this uncanny feeling which is exactly what we wanted in this book. The feeling that everything looks perfect but something is very wrong. It just happened to work out perfectly.
You recently revealed that this book started as a Mod Witch (an old 1960s DC character) project. Talk about that.
Blacker: The project was around a long time. The image from the first issue, which is a nine-panel grid of our main character getting ready in the morning, was the jumping off image in this book. This innocuous image and the way Mirka drew it, it evokes the uncanny feeling. That was always the jumping off point. When I went into DC, we were pitching different characters and as I was leaving I said, “I have this witch thing; it could work for an existing character.” I knew they had Mod Witch…Gaiman used her…maybe it can be that. We heard back, “We love this; it’s great. We’re relaunching Vertigo, we didn’t tell you, take away Mod Witch, we’ll make it Vertigo.” I was like, “This is happening very fast!” Since then, I have a hundred stories I want to do.
You live in a world of constant DC media. I know no one writes a comic pitch to be a TV pitch. With that being said, with DC streaming, with CW, with all the platforms exploiting DC properties, is there a thought that Hex Wives could be repositioned?
Blacker: Absolutely, I write TV. That’s my real job. When I conceived the idea, it was always comics. It’s also part of that I knew what type of story I wanted to tell. To have so few collaborators, not having millions of dollars in budget means you get to tell the story you want to tell. Now that we’re doing that, absolutely, this should be a TV show. I hope I get hired.
Andolfo: Yes, absolutely. Gal Gadot should be in it. Call her! I tried to create realistic dresses for the girls so it could look awesome on TV.
Blacker: Mirka has done Harley Quinn and Wonder Woman, but Hex Wives is a realistic book set in our world right now. So all the clothing was designed to be practical. We want people to cosplay.
Andolfo: We wanted it to be comfortable and cool.
Blacker: I remember I had a conversation with a prose writer. He was talking about his novels sold to TV studios. He was having issues because he wanted it written it into his contract that things like half the extras would be diverse. That’s not a thing you can build into a Hollywood contract. In Hex Wives, we created a diverse cast, so if we’re made into TV, they have no choice but to hire a diverse cast.
This is the most classic feel Vertigo book of the new wave…
Blacker: What does that mean? I’ve heard that a bunch.
Witches and fairies and horror.
Blacker: I don’t like fairies.
Like the early Vertigo books, the Gaiman, that started it. The dark fantasy, the horror. You had Sandman, Books of Magic, The Dreaming.
Blacker: Yeah, Vertigo does horror, fantasy, and crime.
But it started with the dark fantasy of Neil Gaiman and things like WitchCraft with James Robinson. Did either of you think, “Let’s go with the classics?”
Blacker: No, because in part it was a story I was thinking of before taking it to Vertigo. I think if I had known from the start it was a Vertigo book, I would have leaned into it a bit more. I love horror. It’s something I don’t really get to explore. We got to do a comedy version in The Thrilling Adventure Hour, but to approach this stuff that scares me has been the best and most terrifying part of this book.
What do you love about Ben and what do you love about the book?
Andolfo: I love that he’s so nice and that the story is great. When I read the script, I want to know what happens next…I can’t wait to see this comic in shops. It’s also great for Halloween. I really like the strong female characters. They are so strong.
Blacker: That’s what I love about what Mirka has brought to the book. I had an idea in my head what these characters looked like, how they dressed. What I got back was even more. I often talk about artists and it’s really like working with actors…you give them this thing and they put them through the machine and it comes back as something even greater than what you expected. That’s what I’m getting from Mirka. She made me love the characters, so when I’m writing, it makes me want to dig in even deeper.
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
Geoff Johns is working on a new Shazam series for DC. Here's everything we know...
Over the last two years, DC Comics has found its soul again. Kicking off with the Rebirth one shot in spring 2016, DC combined a kind of back-to-basics approach to its heroes with a knack for matching the right creative teams to their characters. We've had some potentially all-time great creative runs on Green Arrow, Batman, and The Flash, potentially all-time great comic series such as Mister Miracle, and recent all-star launches like the Brian Michael Bendis Superman books and Scott Snyder's Justice League.
But where has Shazam been in all of this? Well, the right creative team is finally in place.
Coming this November is a new Shazam series from Geoff Johns and Dale Eaglesham (Fantastic Four, Detective Comics). The new book spins out of backups that ran through early arcs of Johns' Justice League, the book that launched the New 52 in 2011. The stories reset Billy Batson and his world, recasting Batson as a mouthy ass with a heart of gold who eventually realizes that his foster siblings are the most important thing to him. He then shares his power with them, creating the new Shazam Family and imbuing each with a piece of his power. The artist on those backups was Johns' art partner on Doomsday Clock, Gary Frank. Likely due to the intricateness of the art on that Watchmen sequel, though, Frank is unavailable for this new Shazam book, so the art duties will be handled by Eaglesham.
Eaglesham is an industry vet, having drawn some of the best issues in "No Man's Land," the year-long 1999 event in the Batman comics that saw Gotham isolated and removed from America because of an earthquake and a feckless, incompetent government; some of the best issues of Jonathan Hickman's epic Fantastic Four run; and some of the best issues of Johns' run on Justice Society of America.
The cover of the first issue is pretty perfect...
"The cover kind of tells you the tone of the book,” Johns said at New York Comic Con. “It’s going to be a continuation of the first era of the book, and there’ll be a retelling of the origin, with the Rock of Eternity… I always try to make my books new-reader-friendly...We’re going to lean more into the magic, the powers of Shazam. When Billy starts exploring the Rock of Eternity, he’ll find doorways to other places. We’re going to feature Mr. Mind and Dr. Sivana.”
And check out a bunch of the preview art revealed at NYCC!
Want to see some new SHAZAM art? Just say the magic word! @geoffjohns revealed more interior art from the upcoming series during his #NYCC spotlight panel %u2014 Issue #1 out 11/21! #DCNYCCpic.twitter.com/uDrU4FiDc5
— DC (@DCComics) October 5, 2018
And here's the official synopsis:
Teenager turned super-hero Billy Batson struggles to balance school and superheroics! (Guess which one is more fun?) But when Shazam unlocks a shocking secret deep within the Rock of Eternity, it challenges everything he knows about the worlds of magic and his family’s future as its champions! Also, witness the bizarre team-up of Dr. Sivana and Mr. Mind as they set off to build a society all their own! Don’t miss the start of an epic run in the making as “Shazam and the Seven Realms” begins!
Johns recently freed up from his executive duties to focus more on writing and was the writer of the New 52 Shazam reboot, which is the basis for the 2019 movie starring Zachary Levi in the title role. Usually, when there's a movie about to drop, DC puts together a big launch for a character, so we're likely to see something special when this new Shazam series hits on November 21.
Read the Den of Geek SDCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine Here!
Titans #27 does a ton of work in the greater DC Universe.
There's a weird convergence of events going on at DC right now with a ton of implications for Titans.First, in Heroes in Crisis, Wally and Arsenal die in the inital attack on Sanctuary. Then, just before Nightwing#50, Dick gets shot in the head in Batman. And we're about to head into Justice League: Drowned Earth,a big Aquaman/Atlantis crossover that promises us a return of Tempest in the next issue.
So this preview that DC sent over of Titans#27 is a break from the new status quo of the team, traveling the Earth looking for new metahumans created by the breakdown of the Source Wall in Justice League: No Justice. Insead, they process all of the chaos foisted on the team by the deaths and maimings. Well, one of the deaths - Wally is conspicuously absent from the mourning here, but he's probably mourned later and not a part of the plot for the rest of Heroes in Crisisnope no way no how.
Aaaaanyway here's what DC has to say about Titans #27from Dan Abnett, Brent Peeples and Matt Santorelli.
TITANS #27 written by DAN ABNETT
art by BRENT PEEPLES and MATT SANTORELLI
enhanced foil cover by CLAYTON HENRY
variant cover by JOSE LUIS
Newly awakened metahuman Ionbound suffers a fateful transformation that rocks the Titans team to their core. If they can’t save these Source Wall victims, what good is their latest mission? But does this development hold the key to helping them? Or is it a harbinger of more death and destruction to come? That’s a lot of questions to answer; good thing there are two issues this month to cover all that ground!
It's shared universe stuff like this that got me into comics as a kid - hunting down all the various editorial references at the bottom of a panel, comparing scenes that appear in multiple comics for clues that I might have missed (like the opening scene here, which also occurs in Green Arrow#45) and then poring over wiki entries about character backstory to understand what makes someone like Donna Troy so glib about death. Ok that might have been a little much for me when I was first starting, but I can assure you it's fun to look into here. Check it out!
From Spider-Man and Eddie Brock to Groot and Sub-Mariner 2099, the Venom costume certainly gets around.
It’s fitting that the Venom costume is a liquid entity because the creature and the Venom identity have been used for all sorts of different roles. Spider-Man’s edgy new costume, Evil Spider-Man, violent antihero, corrupt government soldier, rogue government agent, space knight, and so on.
With the big Venommovie now in theaters, let’s look at all the different heroes and villains that have worn the spidery blob. I’ve split it into three different types. We have the main hosts, such as Spider-Man and anyone who was treated as actual Venom in the mainstream books. Then there are the others, who wore the costume in continuity, but are considered more like footnotes. Lastly, it’s the ones that happened in alternate realities.
SPIDER-MAN (PETER PARKER)
Back in the '80s, Marvel had their big Secret Wars event, created to sell toys and ultimately shaping how Big Two comics would be designed for decades to come. In an attempt to give the story extra importance, they used it as an excuse to change up Spider-Man’s costume into a black and white ensemble with some cool extras like unlimited webbing that came out of the back of his hands instead of the wrists.
Fighting it out on Battleworld, Spider-Man’s red and blue costume got shredded up and he found what he thought to be a machine that stitches new outfits. What he unknowingly got was an alien parasite kept in a prison. It jumped onto him and took to him, wanting to live in a symbiotic relationship.
While later versions of the story – especially in different media – would focus on how it made Spider-Man more aggressive, the big deal was more that it was controlling his body in his sleep and the very idea of it being alive freaked Peter out something fierce. Spider-Man rid himself of the creature, only to be antagonized by it for years.
In main continuity, he became the host for Venom during the time when Peter’s body had the mind of Doc Ock. That led to a cool take where he had goo-based octopus tentacles coming out of him. He also had Eddie Brock loan him the symbiote at the end of Dan Slott's Amazing Spider-Man run in order to combat the Carnage-clad Green Goblin. Out of continuity, he became the host in one of the early Spider-Girl issues and in a disturbing What If storyline where it took over Peter’s cocooned body from The Other and transformed him into "Poison."
When people think of Venom, they mainly think of Eddie and the movie will solidify that more than ever. A journalist, Eddie Brock’s life took a bad turn when he misreported on a masked murderer named the Sin-Eater and got the identity wrong. Acting like the antithesis of Peter Parker, he shifted the responsibility and blamed this tragic mistake on Spider-Man rather than himself or the unfairness of the world. When praying for forgiveness for considering suicide while at a church, Spider-Man’s discarded symbiote jumped onto him.
From there, the two brought out the worst in each other and fueled their mutual hate-on for Spider-Man. Venom became Spider-Man’s cool, new, popular villain for several years, constantly stalking him in his personal life. Then for a time he got over his flawed axe-to-grind and moved to San Francisco to become a murderous vigilante.
Venom’s time as Lethal Protector lasted five years and had a big collection of miniseries that was secretly a sixty-issue ongoing (restarting at #1 whenever a new arc started). As an antihero, Venom was essentially a less-competent Punisher. A monster using his vigilante status to justify his bloodlust, all while seeing himself as Adam West Batman.
Brock went back to being a thorn in Spider-Man’s side, but not for long, as he simply stopped showing up in comics for years. When he did come back, it was for the sake of passing the torch to the next host.
Since then, Eddie’s been given a new lease on life as Anti-Venom and later Toxin. Neither identity lasted too long and he eventually rubber-banded back to being Venom.
Ugh. This catastrophe.
In the early 2000s, Marvel was doing their Tsunami imprint and one of the books to come out of it was an eighteen-issue Venomongoing by Daniel Way. It had incredibly little to do with Eddie Brock and instead was a rather mean-spirited mess of a series that didn’t get referenced again for about fifteen years.
Here’s the gist of the plot and I swear I’m not making any of this up: the biblical story of Noah’s Ark was inspired by a bunch of nanites from space coming down and plotting to wipe out all of humanity. The nanites decided at the last second not to and left, but a handful of them stuck around and didn’t get the memo. So they spent centuries laying low in the form of a man with a bushy mustache, biding their time. Their master plan was to wait for an alien symbiote to be loose on Earth and then use it to cause the apocalypse. Somehow.
In a fight with the Fantastic Four, Venom lost his tongue. A random dude found it and tried to sell it on eBay, but it was immediately stolen away by shadowy government people led by the bushy mustache nanites man. The tongue was used to clone the Venom costume and it was let loose in an arctic lab in a blatant ripoff of John Carpenter’s The Thing. Army lieutenant Patricia Robertson survived the massacre thanks to the help of The Suit, an Agent Smith knockoff with a weaponized smartphone.
He is also made of nanites.
Patricia ultimately became the host for the Venom clone and got jerked around and shit on far more than your average superhero character with absolute zero catharsis. This all led to an abrupt ending where Eddie Brock’s Venom symbiote merged with Patricia’s and the evil nanite man was all, “Heh heh. All according to plan.”
He was never mentioned again, nor was Patricia. We didn’t see if she died, escaped, or what.
Angelo did not last long at all, but he came with enough fanfare that he was sort of a big deal, mainly because of the Mark Millar/Frank Cho creative team behind him. Eddie Brock was slowly dying of cancer and decided he just wanted to end it all. Knowing that the symbiote would just find another host, he decided to use that as a final act of goodness by auctioning it off to the criminal underworld and giving that money to charity.
Angelo Fortunato was the lacking son of a high-ranking mobster. The idea was that the symbiote would make a man out of him and he liked the idea because it meant girls would write fanfiction about him.
...Mark Millar wrote this, remember.
As the new Venom, Angelo went after Spider-Man and did pretty well for himself, but the moment Spider-Man was able to get an advantage, Angelo folded and tried to escape. The symbiote – disgusted with his cowardice – removed itself from his body and sought out a new host.
Angelo was in mid-swing during that decision. He...ummm...he did not survive.
Gargan spent many years as the Scorpion and during the Marvel Knights Spider-Man storyline that introduced Angelo Fortunato, Gargan reappeared as finally free of his green armor. Acting as a henchman for Norman Osborn, he had a non-violent confrontation with Spider-Man and was apparently going to be refitted with a new, better Scorpion suit.
Instead, the Venom symbiote found him. Gargan gladly became the new host, much to Osborn’s initial chagrin. As time would show, Venom would be Osborn’s go-to goon and would serve him as both a Thunderbolt and a Dark Avenger.
In a time when Carnage was believed to be dead and Eddie Brock had his own thing going on, it made sense to have Gargan as a brutal, purely evil Venom with no shades of gray. While a bit of an afterthought in Dark Avengers, he did have his own miniseries called Sinister Spider-Man that was absolutely brilliant and featured having a tiny dog thrown into his eye via Bullseye.
With the end of Dark Reignand Osborn’s time in power, the government decided to just remove the alien costume and figure it out from there. Mac Gargan went back to being the Scorpion and nobody’s cared about him since.
EUGENE “FLASH” THOMPSON
Formerly Peter Parker’s high school bully and later his rehabilitated friend, Flash Thompson was reintroduced with a story that showed him as a soldier losing his legs in Iraq. The government decided to make him the new host for Venom, though with enough precautions. He could only wear the symbiote for 24 hours before being separated. As Agent Venom, he did the government’s dirty work while keeping it a secret from loved ones.
As this new Venom starred in his first of two ongoings, they played up his own addiction to Venom’s powers (namely the power to walk) and how it related to his preexisting alcoholism. This is something only vaguely touched in the Brock days, since most times he was separated from the creature and was forced to rebond, he treated it like a recovering addict having alcohol poured down his throat against his will.
Flash’s initial status quo didn’t last too long and he became a fugitive from the law for a bit. By working alongside Captain America and earning Cap’s trust, he ended up getting a spot on the Secret Avengers. Shortly after, he joined the Thunderbolts until Cap asked him to join up with the Guardians of the Galaxy.
When on Earth, Flash kept the symbiote in check via drugs and appealing to its nature, but in space, the costume became more erratic. Turns out it just needed to go back to its home planet and Bendis wrote a big pile of retcon about how the symbiotes are called Klyntar and they’re actually quite peaceful, but sometimes they need to be recalibrated. The symbiote got cleansed, lost all memories of most of its hosts, became docile, and started looking like something out of Ben 10. Afterwards, Flash started having solo space adventures as the Agent of the Cosmos.
His second ongoing just ended with him back on Earth, where the two ended up splitting up. Flash has moved on and found a new identity as Agent Anti-Venom.
When the symbiote was separated from Flash Thompson, it was hungry, weak, and desperate for a new host. It wanted to do heroic things for the good of humanity, so of course it ended up getting stuck with a man who wanted none of that. Lee Price was a former army ranger with intent to not only be part of the criminal underworld, but to one day run it. Bending the symbiote to his will, he made plans to climb up the ladder and gradually take over New York City.
This Venom seemed short-lived at first as his brand new series was more of a means to reunite Eddie Brock and the symbiote. Lee was put in prison for a stretch until being let off on a technicality. He and his gang captured the Venom sidekick Mania and stole her costume. Lee Price became Maniac and made another go at ruling the world of crime. Even though this led to him having a "final form" of being a giant version of Venom, he was still taken down by the team of Spider-Man, Agent Anti-Venom, Venom, and Black Cat.
SHE-VENOM (ANN WEYING)
Ann was Eddie Brock’s ex-wife. We never got to know too much about their married life, but Ann always held a candle for Eddie and hoped he’d get well. As a lawyer, she became the target of a new Sin-Eater, who put her in critical condition. Venom rescued his ex and took her to his sewer hideout, but her internal damage was too much and she was moments from death.
Eddie coaxed the symbiote into bonding with Ann and healing her. While that was happening, a couple of scavengers broke in and beat down Eddie. Ann, in the form of the voluptuous She-Venom, horrifically tore the two interlopers to pieces. It’s suggested that she was a more violent host than even Eddie. When she split from the alien, she was disgusted by her actions and blamed her ex-husband for putting her in that position.
Ann donned the costume once more and her experiences as the host drove her to madness. She became a total shut-in and Eddie’s intent to patch things up (along with seeing Spider-Man swing by the window in his black threads) caused her to go over the edge and she killed herself.
SCARLET SPIDER (BEN REILLY)
Spider-Man was briefly able to talk some sense into Eddie and convinced him that maybe the symbiote was clouding his judgment. Eddie figured the least he could do was spend some time separated from the costume and told it to get lost. The symbiote let out a sonic howl of loneliness, which accidentally alerted the rest of its race that it was on Earth.
This was many years before Bendis’ take on the whole Klyntar race being good, so instead we got a big symbiote invasion in New York. Coincidentally, Bendis would also write a symbiote invasion in New York storyline that ignored this.
Spider-Man, Scarlet Spider, and Eddie Brock worked together and Scarlet Spider appeared to have a seventh sense about what was going on. They later discovered that although it hadn’t fully bonded to him, the symbiote was posing as his sweatshirt and was feeding him info. Eddie reluctantly recombined with the symbiote and the three went and fought off the invasion.
WOLVERINE (JAMES HOWLETT)
Yeah, so back to that Daniel Way story about the nanites and the Venom clone. After the Thingstoryline, the Venom clone was loose in Canada and Wolverine happened to be hanging out there because, you know, Wolverine is everywhere. The whole storyline was peak Wolverine bullshit, since Wolverine had a nuke dropped on him and all it did was knock his shirt off. Then The Suit zapped him and put his super-powered cell phone into Wolverine’s chest cavity.
On the hunt for Venom, Wolverine was ambushed by the costume and was overwhelmed. It took him over with no problem and found itself the perfect host, considering Wolverine’s healing factor and never-ending adrenaline. WolVenom attacked Patricia Robertson, but then The Suit’s cell blasted it from inside Wolverine’s body, causing the costume to evacuate and ultimately attach to Robertson.
Wolverine grumbled, “Can you hear me now?” because we all have to suffer sometimes.
MS. MARVEL (CAROL DANVERS)
Brian Reed really, really wanted to make Peter Parker + Carol Danvers a thing. Just him. When Siegewas going on, there was a collection of one-shots about stuff going on during the penultimate battle before the Void became the final endboss. One of these stories, written by Reed, had Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel take on Mac Gargan Venom.
Ms. Marvel beat him fairly easily and simply tore Gargan from the symbiote like she was pulling someone’s towel off. The symbiote then simply attached itself to Carol and took over her mind. What we got was a flying Venom with fiery Kirby dots exploding out her head. Spider-Man fought his possessed friend and freed Carol via kicking her into some power lines.
The symbiote then went back to Gargan and the big battle continued.
RED HULK (THADDEUS ROSS)
Remember the New Fantastic Four? That thing where Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hulk, and Ghost Rider briefly replaced the actual Fantastic Four as some kind of preemptively meta look at how Marvel teams would work in the future? During Rick Remender’s Venomrun, they did a storyline called Circle of Four that gave us what was essentially the Dark New Fantastic Four. We had Flash Thompson Venom, X-23, Red Hulk, and that crappy female Ghost Rider that nobody cares about.
They ended up teaming together to fight Blackheart, who at one point fought them with the Bizarro Dark New Fantastic Four. Comics rule.
After our heroes were taken out by Blackheart’s forces, they were brought back by Mephisto. In order to hit Blackheart with everything they had, they went with the most ridiculously awesome idea ever by having Red Hulk possessed by both the Spirit of Vengeance and the Venom symbiote. Too bad there was no easy way to give him Wolverine claws, but such is life.
The pure brute force alone didn’t stop Blackheart, but they ultimately beat him and saved the world. Red Hulk’s upgrades were returned back to their proper hosts and they all went their separate ways. The problem, noticed only by Daimon Hellstrom, was that all four heroes were marked by Mephisto’s demonic magic.
Which brings us to...
MANIA (ANDI BENTON)
Before his space adventures, Flash moved out of New York City and went to Philadelphia, where he became a high school gym coach. Andrea Benton was both a neighbor and a student with a chip on her shoulder. She was also quickly aware that Flash was secretly Venom.
Venom’s arch-nemesis Jack O’Lantern appeared at Flash’s apartment complex to cause trouble and murdered Andi’s father. Venom attempted to protect her from noxious gas, but the symbiote did more than that. It split itself and bonded with her. As Mania, she became Venom’s angry, teenage sidekick.
Flash later discovered that there was a reason why the symbiote split itself. In order to appease Flash, the symbiote figured it would spit the clone symbiote (from the Patricia Robertson series) back out and onto Andi. The clone symbiote was carrying the mark of Mephisto, meaning it was no longer Venom’s problem. Flash didn’t see it like that.
Venom and Mania remained a team and they even discovered that one of the silver linings was Mania had control over demons. When Venom went to space, Mania gradually lost control. Venom was able to bring her back to her senses and promised he’d find a way to cure her. Eventually, Lee Price stole the symbiote from her and became Maniac. Regardless, Andi retained her demon powers and currently uses them to help keep the peace in Philly.
US AGENT (JOHN WALKER)
Ooooookay. This one is a little weird.
In the beginning of Jeff Parker Thunderboltsrun (which eventually became Dark Avengers), US Agent took some serious body damage. He lost both an arm and a leg during the Siegetie-in. Afterwards, he became this badass prison warden who could mess up a room full of prisoners regardless of how much biology he was missing.
During the final arc, US Agent and the Dark Avengers crew were stuck in a rewritten Earth where New York City was split apart by a dystopian superhero gang war. In this world, Hank Pym had been experimenting on the Venom symbiote and effectively lobotomized it. Dark Avengers member and Scarlet Witch stand-in Toxie Doxie used Venom to attach itself to US Agent and grow back his missing limbs, returning him to the status quo.
DEADPOOL (WADE WILSON)
The Deadpool/Venom connection has been done a few times. The first was a comedic series of backup stories in What Ifcomics that showed a reality where Deadpool became the host for Venom. It gave him an evil jheri curl and became a commentary for event comics and...man, it was out there.
In a somewhat more canon appearance, Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars revealed that Wade was actually there for the initial '80s event and everyone forgot about it due to a reality-altering wish from an emotional and heartbroken Wasp. One moment showed that prior to Spider-Man stumbling upon the alien costume, Deadpool tried it on first. It was a brief melding as the Klyntar couldn’t handle Deadpool’s mind. The suggestion was that he probably warped the symbiote’s personality before anyone else.
Cullen Bunn has revisted the idea of Venompool a few more times. Back in Black showed that in-between Peter Parker and Eddie Brock, the symbiote did join Wade again for a short while to help him fight with and against 80s staple characters. They split up due to their disagreements with whether or not to kill Spider-Man and it was revealed that Deadpool convinced Eddie Brock to visit the fateful church in the first place.
Otherwise, the connection was brought up in Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe Again, which was secretly part of Old Man Logan continuity. In it, Deadpool killed Eddie Brock, reunited with the symbiote, devoured Spider-Man, and then told the creature to go away. There was also a Venompool in the Venomversestoryline. Although he was infected by a Poison creature (more on that later), he retained his mind and sacrificed himself to stop the bad guys.
As mentioned earlier, there was a Guardians of the Galaxy story based on Venom going back to the costume’s planet of origin. It didn’t make the trip without conflict. Joined with Flash, Venom became more unpredictable until a fight with the other Guardians finally nullified the threat. They kept the goo in a containment jar, which easily escaped when carried by Groot.
Constantly shouting, “I AM VENOM!” the new hybrid alien took on the other Guardians of the Galaxy until being knocked out by Drax.
The symbiote left Groot and the others figured he’d just go back and find Flash’s unconscious body. Instead, it leaked onto Rocket from the vents above and took him over, looking like some kind of Venomized Sonic the Hedgehog.
I checked Google Image Search for fanart of that very idea. There’s a lot of it and I’m really not far off.
The possessed Rocket, speaking a bit more clearly than the previous host, insisted that everyone get off the ship ASAP. He admitted that he didn’t want to kill anyone, but he needed to commandeer the ship immediately.
Then it got really interesting...
DRAX THE DESTROYER
Although Quill warned him not to, Drax decided that grabbing Rocket from behind was a good idea. Nope. The costume slinked off Rocket and jumped onto Drax. The issue ended with the cliffhanger image of Symbiote Drax looking metal as fuck.
By the beginning of the next issue, Flash woke up to find everyone unconscious except for the victorious Drax. Smiling madly, Drax basked as they arrived in the Klyntar homeworld. Through Drax, the symbiote said some cryptic stuff about their journey to Flash before leaving Drax’s body.
Drax didn’t take this well and nearly murdered Flash until Quill talked him down.
MERCURIO THE 4D MAN
During Flash’s short-lived adventures as an Agent of the Cosmos, he quickly came into conflict with the obscure Thor villain Mercurio. An interstellar conqueror, Mercurio’s plans were thwarted by Venom a couple times, so he sent a murderous space panda named Pik Rollo to take care of this new thorn in his side. Rollo – blackmailed due to her son being captive on Mercurio’s ship – ended up striking up a deal with Venom, which included a fake back-stabbing. As part of the plan, Venom was captured.
Mercurio stripped the costume from Flash and wore Venom himself. Unbeknownst to Mercurio until it was too late, this was all a trick for Venom to uncover information via bonding. Venom split from Mercurio and viciously beat him down until Flash pleaded with him to stop. Although they successfully tricked Mercurio, being part of such an evil being returned some old habits to the Venom symbiote, as its addiction to rage and violence started to bubble back to the surface.
OLD MAN LOGAN
I’m splitting hairs, but I’m not even sure which sub-list to toss this one. It’s a character from an alternate future thrown into another alternate future, only it’s as a member of a mainstream X-Men team.
Anyway, during The Apocalypse Wars, the X-Men got stranded a thousand years into the future. As always, Earth was a dystopian mess, this time run by Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen: Colossus, Deadpool, a female Moon Knight, and the Venom symbiote.
Using the Fastball Special, Colossus threw the blobby creature onto Old Man Logan. After a couple of issues, Jean Grey realized the secret wasn’t to try and mentally coax Logan, but to mentally attack the alien itself. With Venom purged from Old Man Logan’s body, Iceman froze it in place.
In the brilliantly titled "Land Before Crime," the Eddie Brock version of Venom found out that Stegron had an army of dinosaur people living underneath New York. He teamed up with Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur to stop them, but Stegron had the ability to mentally control Devil Dinosaur. At first, Venom wanted to call it quits, but he saw a kindred spirit in the relationship between Moon Girl and her dinosaur friend and came up with a plan. Venom allowed Devil Dinosaur to eat him as a rope-a-dope. The symbiote attached itself to Devil Dinosaur, undoing Stegron's psychic hold. Venom Dinosaur went on a rampage long enough for Moon Girl to foil Stegron's plans to turn everyone in NYC into dinosaurs.
When Lee Price became Maniac, he gained a new power. By coughing or spitting on someone with his symbiote, he would mask them with an extension of said symbiote and it would put them under his control. He used his mind control to take over various super-criminals. His victims included Black Cat, Scorpion, Hammerhead, Looter, 8-Ball, Killer Shrike, The Brothers Grimm, and the Melter. He also took over Spider-Man for a time. The drawback of his power was that once someone was free of his hold, he could not control them all over again.
When faced with the team of Spider-Man, Agent Anti-Venom, Venom, and Black Cat, Maniac absorbed all of his inkling masks into himself and became a giant.
SPIDER-WOMAN (JESSICA DREW)
After defeating Maniac, the Venom symbiote was finally cured of its mental instability. Venom went back to fighting crime, though chose not to kill the lesser criminals. Spider-Woman didn't see this as a reason to let him off the hook and tried to capture Venom a couple times. At the time, the symbiote was carrying a secret from Eddie: it was pregnant and scared that its child would turn out evil and vicious like its other children. Only with Eddie as a host did it feel optimistic that its offspring could be brought up well. The symbiote briefly joined onto Spider-Woman to show her the truth. Spider-Woman had recently given birth herself and understood to an extent. For the time being, she would allow Venom to roam free.
The Kree and the Skrulls have been warring with each other for so many years and while the Kree pride themselves as being the ultimate military species, the Skrulls have the advantage of shape-shifting. An idea came to acquire that ability for the Kree empire. A warrior named Tel-Kar went to the symbiote homeworld and discovered an outcast. Considering it a perfect choice, Tel-Kar became the first host to wear what would one day be known as the Venom costume. He went undercover as a Skrull, but turned on them the moment he was tasked with killing Kree refugees. Going into a suicide run, Tel-Kar made the symbiote leave him so they could not be captured together. Tel-Kar fought the Skrulls head-on, but survived in the end.
Years later, he'd come to Earth to reclaim his old partner. Forcing the symbiote to rejoin him against its will, it was revealed that Tel-Kar plans on using it to commit genocide against the entire Skrull race.
HULK (BRUCE BANNER)
What If the Alien Costume Possessed Spider-Man told the tale of Peter Parker waiting too long before having the Fantastic Four investigate his animated black tights. By that time they got him under the microscope, it was too late and the creature had already bonded to him. It took over his body completely and escaped, staying under the radar so Reed Richards couldn’t track it down.
After several days, the controlled Spider-Man found the Hulk going on a monstrous rampage. Knowing a good meal when it saw one, the symbiote left Spider-Man behind as it jumped onto Hulk, who could do nothing to save himself. Symbiote Hulk laughed and jumped off into the distance. Peter’s body was so used up by this point that the situation rendered him into an old man who died within a day.
While Hulk may seem like a perfect host, the symbiote was only using him as a stepping stone...
It didn’t take long for Thor to come across Symbiote Hulk. While the symbiote insisted that what happened to Spider-Man was an accident and that it was actually helping Banner with his Hulk issues, Thor wasn’t fully trusting and they got in a big fight. Thor won, but the symbiote simply attached itself to him, which was the plan all along.
The two entities battled mentally while hiding out inside Mount Rushmore. Reed Richards sent Black Bolt after them, who was able to overpower Symbiote Thor with one word. The symbiote was then destroyed by Black Cat, armed with a sonic gun.
PUNISHER (FRANK CASTLE)
One of the best What If issues, What If Venom Had Possessed the Punisher, showed a reality where Frank Castle stopped at that one church moments before Eddie Brock. He had Spider-Man on the mind at the time and the symbiote latched onto him. Initially, Frank didn’t think much about the symbiote’s origins. He figured it was some slick SHIELD technology and went with it. He even did away with the webbing ability and had the costume shoot bullets made of symbiote goo.
This comic came out years before Garth Ennis got his mitts on Frank, so while he was depicted as a pragmatic mass murderer, he wasn’t the grindhouse sadist that he is now. In other words, it was treated as a big deal that he was far more gruesome with his kills, such as biting off half of Tombstone’s skull and spitting it out.
The symbiote gradually took over his life. He started lashing out against Microchip and found himself trying to kill Spider-Man against his will. After being hit with a sonic blast, Frank was able to go into a dreamlike state and confront the symbiote mentally. In the end, Frank made it an ultimatum: the symbiote would do what he wanted and get a piece of the violent action Frank’s known for, but if it didn’t listen to his orders, he’d kill them both. The symbiote agreed to the terms and the Punisher escaped capture from the heroes by using the symbiote to glide into the night.
Another version of Symbiote Punisher would show up in Edge of Venomverse. This take was that the symbiote agreed to help Frank win his war on crime as long as Frank would agree to help him commit one murder. That turned out to be Spider-Man. Frank resisted the situation, but never got a chance to fight Spider-Man due to the events of Venomversekicking in.
VENOM 2099 (KRON STONE)
"Kron Stone! Meet the Kron Stone! Just your average man of vill-ai-ny! From the... '90s future...he’s a man from altered hi-sto-ry!!!!"
Kron was the evil half-brother of Miguel O’Hara and made his debut by killing the family of Punisher 2099 and getting away with it. I mean, getting away with it as much as you can before Frank to the Future stabs you and leaves you dying in a sewer.
Luckily for Kron, the Venom symbiote had been nesting in that sewer for decades, trying to evolve itself. It bonded with Kron and gave him the usual Venom perks, along with acidic touch and a fully liquid body. So, like, a T-1000 made of xenomorph spit.
Hearing that his father Tyler Stone was hospitalized from an assassination attempt, Venom 2099 went to go finish the job, which caused him to cross paths with Miguel, otherwise known as Spider-Man 2099. The two fought it out for several issues, notably causing the death of Miguel’s love interest Dana (which simplified Miguel’s love triangle predicament).
Once Spider-Man 2099 figured out the symbiote’s weakness to sound, the authorities just pinpointed Venom 2099’s location and focused all the speakers in the area on him. Miguel then beat him down and prepared to kill the creature until discovering Kron underneath.
Due to the future’s lack of prisons, Miguel just kept Kron in a tube in his lab and had him separated from the costume.
Late into the Spider-Man 2099 ongoing, our hero fought the future’s Namor counterpart, an Atlantean terrorist. He was also brought in and made a captive in Miguel’s lab.
In the final issue, Sub-Mariner 2099 escaped and the chaos from all the armed guards trying to stop him caused the Venom symbiote to be released. It jumped onto Sub-Mariner 2099, gave him teeth at the end of his tongue, and they escaped into the ocean.
Being that it was the end of the comic, they never followed up on that.
SPIDER-GIRL (MAYDAY PARKER)
In the alternate future of Earth-X and its less-interesting sequels, Peter and Mary Jane’s daughter became the host for Venom and at some point tamed the beast while taking its name. Just one of the many reasons why she and her father didn’t get along.
The symbiote itself factored in very, very rarely in the stories outside of a one-shot called Universe-X: Spidey, which involved the psychic villain Spiders-Man (not a typo!) putting Peter into a comatose state where he lived out his fantasies. Using her symbiote, Mayday attached herself to her father and dove into his reality. She intended to save him, but seeing that his guilt-based fantasy was to have a son with Gwen instead of a daughter with MJ kind of broke Mayday for a moment and she almost beat Spiders-Man to death until Peter woke up and stopped her.
Afterwards, father and daughter bonded via bad jokes at dire situations.
Speaking of Spider-Girl, the Venom symbiote had a bit of a Joker in Dark Knight Returns thing going on in the MC2 Universe. It was dormant for years until it found out there was a new spider-person swinging around and it woke back up. It ended up possessing the middle-aged Peter the first time around, creating a Spider-Man/Venom hybrid.
Normie Osborn was the son of Harry and started out as a villain, obsessed with avenging his bloodline and killing the Parkers. Mayday helped him get over these feelings, although he still had a body full of hate-filled tattoos. Normie became a big brother figure to Spider-Girl, but was eventually bonded to the Venom symbiote against his will.
Normie overcame its influence and insisted not to have it destroyed. He became a hero for a while, albeit one with no codename because he wasn’t comfortable being called “Venom.” It was a moot point, since by the time they hit Spider-Girl #100, they ended up killing off the costume. It sacrificed itself to help Spider-Girl defeat the Hobgoblin, playing up that Normie as a host helped reform the creature.
Coincidentally, before leaving Normie, the symbiote’s parting gift was removing all of his tattoos.
HUMAN TORCH (JOHNNY STORM)
In the Marvel Adventures universe, they did their own lighthearted version of the Spider-Man black costume story. In this take, after the Fantastic Four removed the symbiote from Spider-Man’s body, Human Torch decided he’d try it on for size. Upon turning on his powers, the creature freaked out from the fire and escaped.
This one’s probably not considered canon, but right now I don’t care enough to argue either way.
Ancient wizard Kulan Gath transformed Manhattan into something more fitting to the Hyborian Age. Everyone started talking like Thor outside of Spider-Man and for whatever reason, Venom (Eddie version) decided that Kulan was totally worth working with as part of his murder vigilante ways. Then Mary Jane became the host for Red Sonja's soul/existence, which included ripping off her dress to reveal her chainmail loin cloth underneath.
Kulan became intrigued by the dark, powerful properties that came with the Venom symbiote and stole it from Eddie in a fight. As Kulan Venom, he...um...I don’t really know. Having a symbiote doesn’t really help out much when you’re a sorcerer. It’s like if Magneto became Venom. What’s he going to do, throw metal around angrier?
If anything, the so-called upgrade was Kulan’s undoing. When Eddie begged the symbiote to return to him, it threw Kulan off and allowed Spider-Man and Red Sonja to defeat him and send things back to normal.
MARY JANE PARKER
In the '00s, Marc Sumerak and Gurihiru did an all-ages miniseries of Spider-Man/Power Pack, a cute story about Spider-Man teaming up with the youthful Power siblings. In the third issue, it showed Spider-Man defeating Venom with a sonic blast gun early on. Although Eddie Brock was taken into custody, the symbiote wasn’t apprehended. Instead, it was taken in by a freshly-fired fashion artist. He had the creature altered in a way that he could monetize it.
Six months later, Mary Jane was one of four models working for said fashion dude. Peter brought Power Pack with him for the fashion show. The models’ outfits were able to morph and all was going well until Mary Jane’s dress sensed Peter nearby. All the models became full-on lady Venoms and mindlessly fought against the heroes.
Lightspeed flew circles around them fast enough to create a sonic boom. That freed the models. Mass Master took over the DJ booth and maxed out the volume to destroy what was left of the symbiote outfits.
Being that it was an all-ages comic, Mary Jane and the others were wearing slips under the skintight symbiotes. That had to chafe.
ENERGIZER (KATIE POWER)
After that fashion show incident, Spider-Man and the Power Pack left. Unbeknownst to everyone, a surviving piece of Venom hitchhiked onto Katie Power.
Soon after, Katie started having nightmares about being Venom and capturing Spider-Man alongside the Sinister Six. Others tried to rationalize the dream, but the truth was that the costume was taking over her body when she slept. They really did have Spider-Man in captivity.
Despite being down a member, Power Pack and Spider-Man had little issue stopping the Sinister Six and a Half. Spider-Man tricked Rhino into running into Electro, who accidentally zapped all his allies. This fried the symbiote and freed Energizer.
Afterwards, she felt guilt over what happened, but Spider-Man reassured her that it was all the costume’s doing and none of hers.
NEST OF PETER PARKER CLONES
Rick Remender’s What If: Age of Apocalypsewas an exercise in Remender coming up with ridiculous shit and loosely tying it into a narrative. It took place in a reality where Legion accidentally killed both Xavier and Magneto during his time-travel assassination attempt. In the vastly different present, a team of heroes led by Wolverine and Captain America (armed with Mjolnir) would go through a ton of off-the-wall threats like the most badass Four Horsemen of all time: Namor, Storm, Hulk, and Juggernaut.
At one point the heroes found themselves in a black web where the Venom symbiote had bonded to a nest of Peter Parkers who didn’t seem to have any will of their own. Knowing that they weren’t the real deal, Cap demanded they be destroyed before they moved on to the next bad guy.
The Venom symbiote has latched onto various different animals over the course of its history. A husky, a bunch of cockroaches, and even a zoo gorilla. But in the dystopian reality of Old Man Logan, Venom went high up the food chain by taking over a tyrannosaurus.
The story dealt with Wolverine and Hawkeye going on a road trip in a destroyed world where evil won. In one foreboding moment, the Venom symbiote was shown to be watching over them from on top a mountain. Later in the adventure, Venom Rex showed up and gave chase.
Luckily, the heroes were able to outrun him long enough with the Spider-Mobile until they found Black Bolt, who downed the creature with one word. Basically, Black Bolt is the rock to Venom's scissors.
CAPTAIN AMERICA (STEVE ROGERS)
This one can only be assumed, but judging from the weirdness going on around it...
In the alternate reality where Age of Apocalypse happened, Wolverine became infected with Apocalypse’s powers and megalomaniacal sickness. Calling himself Weapon Omega, this darker Logan had his own super team to carry out his orders. The Black Legion featured a lot of odd mashup and altered characters like Iron Ghost (Iron Man + Ghost Rider), Zombie Sentry (Simon Garth + Sentry), Grimm Chamber (Thing + Chamber), and so on.
When the mainstream X-Force team visited this reality, one panel showed that one of those Black Legion members was Captain America wearing the Venom symbiote. No information on him outside of that.
Black Legion was kind of forgotten about in general shortly after that.
Looking less monstrous, a version of Venom America would lead the resistance in Venomverse.
With the new, black Ultimate Spider-Man who wasn’t based on a preexisting character, we got a new, black Ultimate Venom who also wasn’t based on a preexisting character.
At some point, Norman Osborn hired Dr. Conrad Marcus to recreate the accident that created Spider-Man. As far as Marcus knew, his attempts were constant failures. Months later, he found out differently when Betty Brant confronted him for a story and helped him piece together that a missing spider created the new Spider-Man. At the time, Marcus was working at Roxxon and his obsession with knowing more led to him releasing the Venom symbiote and becoming one with it.
His first acts were murdering Betty and then blowing up an abandoned Osborn Industries lab. Going by Betty’s false information, Venom went after Jefferson Morales, thinking him to be the new Spider-Man. Instead, the actual Spider-Man – Miles Morales, Jefferson’s son – appeared to fight him. Venom escaped into the sewers, though he succeeded in gravely wounding Jefferson.
He reappeared at the hospital, demanding Jefferson be offered to him. Spider-Man fought him and was briefly consumed by the hulking beast. Miles’ mother Rio, a nurse at the hospital, bought him time to escape and blow up the symbiote from within with a venom blast (fittingly enough). The authorities arrived and riddled Marcus to death with bullets.
Unfortunately, Rio was shot during the fracas and died in her son’s arms.
KINGPIN (WILSON FISK)
Man, the Marvel 100th Anniversary month. I totally forgot you even happened. Everyone did.
In 2014, Marvel did this thing where various creative teams would put together "100th anniversary" issues of various comics. In other words, a series of one-shots that were supposed to predict what certain comics will be like in the 2060s. Honestly, the only one worth reading is James Stokoe’s trippy Avengersstory.
Sean Ryan and In-Hyuk Lee teamed up for the Spider-Man issue, which was supposed to be the final chapter of a story arc called “Great Power.” According to the recap, Venom had been biologically upgraded into being the Techno-Symbiote. Eddie Brock tried to become host to it once again, but he and Spider-Man came to realize that it needed to be destroyed. Then Wilson Fisk appeared and shot Eddie.
The actual issue started from there with Kingpin becoming the host to the futuristic symbiote, all while admitting that he had it created. As the new Venom, Fisk not only had the usual bells and whistles, but he could tap into all sorts of technology. He did that to stalk the underwear-clad Parker through New York City for the remainder of the issue.
Finally, the two had their final battle in the woods, where Parker shoved a torch into Venom’s face, tore Fisk out, and sat quietly as the Techno-Symbiote was burned to death.
HAWKEYE (CLINT BARTON)
As part of the 2015 Secret Warsevent, one of the various alternate-universe-turned-kingdoms was one where Civil War never concluded. It instead led to two civilizations led by Steve Rogers and Tony Stark, constantly unable to reconcile due to an unseen puppet master.
Mac Gargan was dead in this reality and we’d see a mute Venom working on Captain America’s side. Venom was given just enough panel-time to be treated as a mystery as he joined Peter Parker’s covert mission into Stark’s kingdom. As they faced King Ock (Kingpin’s corpse controlled by Dr. Octopus’ tentacles), Venom quietly appeared behind the threat, created a goo-based bow, and fired Daredevil’s billy club through King Ock’s skull.
He was finally identified as “Clint” and stopped factoring into the story. I guess that would explain why his symbol looked like an arrowhead.
Spider-Island, another Secret Warstie-in, showed a Manhattan where the Spider-Queen’s plot to turn people into spider creatures under her command wasn’t initially foiled. Flash Thompson as Venom became the leader of the resistance and helped save the minds of other heroes by turning them into different kinds of monsters, thereby giving them back their willpower. Captain America became a werewolf, Hulk became a lizard, Captain Marvel a vampire, Iron Man got pumped up with Goblin serum, etc.
In the final battle, Venom was able to fight through the Spider-Queen’s sonic scream enough to get onto her back. Pleading with the symbiote, Flash convinced it to leave his body and latch onto the queen. Flash got smashed into a wall and took massive internal damage while the Spider-Queen desperately struggled with the symbiote.
Venom sacrificed itself to weaken the Spider-Queen enough to allow an army of dinosaurs led by Stegron to feed on her. As it died, it swore that Flash was more than just a host to it, but a friend.
In one of the many alternate realities looked over in Spider-Verse, there was one where Norman Osborn became President of the United States. To help clean out America’s imperfections, he created the Variable Engagement Neurosensitive Organic Mesh for himself and his enforcers.
That world’s Captain America led a protest against the fascist hybrids. President Osborn’s undoing came from Spider-Man, who weakened the symbiotes with punk rock and brained Osborn with his guitar.
SENTRY/VOID (ROBERT REYNOLDS)
This comes from the gnarly multiversal series Contest of Champions. Various heroes and villains from different realities were forced to fight it out as part of a big plot by the Maestro. Amongst the contestants, there was an alternate universe version of Eddie Brock Venom who was driven even more insane after killing Spider-Man. It caused him to start speaking to Peter as if he was there while wearing scraps of the Spider-Man costume around his neck.
Another hero was the Sentry, who had a tendency to slip into his Void persona. While infamously near-impossible to kill, he and Stick were seemingly wiped out by Punisher 2099’s giant future gun. Afterwards, Punisher 2099 separated the symbiote from Eddie and executed them with the same gun.
Unchecked, a remainder of the symbiote bonded with a remainder of the Void. An army of savage creatures called Symbioids appeared in its wake, looking much like Venom while having the raw power of the Void. The army did battle with the mainstream universe’s Ultimates, but Maestro eventually gained power over them in a psychic battle.
During the final battle, Stick revealed that he survived Punisher 2099’s earlier ambush. With the Symbioids nearby, he merged them all together and helped the Sentry break free from within via energy manipulation powers. The experience freed the Sentry of both the Void and the symbiote.
Afterwards, Sentry was instrumental in bringing down Maestro.
SPIDER-WOMAN/SPIDER-GWEN (GWEN STACY)
So, the Spider-Gwen universe. Not really the easiest thing to explain other than Gwen Stacy was bitten by a radioactive spider and everyone else is different from how we know them in main continuity. In one story, Harry Osborn was being turned into a monster via Lizard serum. The Lizard serum was mixed with some of Gwen's essence to create this reality's version of the Venom symbiote. Gwen was quick to tame it, or so she thought. With her father in a coma, she started becoming erratic and went after those responsible. She became wanted by the authorities and although she calmed the creature, the damage was done and she ultimately had to turn herself in.
X-23 (LAURA KINNEY)
Now we get to Edge of Venomverse, which showed a bunch of alternate universe Venoms via one-shots or short stories. This one showed that the complex that experimented on Laura Kinney also experimented on the Venom symbiote. During an escape attempt, she unleashed the creature and bonded to it, making escape that much easier and more violent. She then befriended a handful of homeless youths and helped protect them by giving them pieces of the symbiote. When the government agents went after them, the symbiote pieces pulled back into X-23 and she was unceremoniously teleported out of that dimension.
She was one of the few survivors of Venomverseand returned to her home world.
GWENPOOL (GWEN POOLE)
The self-aware heroine became Venom's host in one world, though it wasn't really explained. Instead, we got an amazing team-up story about Gwenpool fighting ninjas, dealing with her evil boss, and trying to hit on Daredevil...all while her symbiote tries to both help her out and give her advice in the form of, "Kill them." Really fun issue, but Gwen's Venomversefate wasn't a happy one.
GHOST RIDER (ROBBIE REYES)
Exacting vengeance in a badass muscle car, Robbie Reyes always had to deal with the voice of his evil Uncle Eli in his head, trying to take control. While Robbie tends to have that under control, this version was joined with the Venom symbiote. The three-way war for dominance ended when the symbiote and Eli decided to work together and turned Robbie into nothing more than a "motor." Calling himself "Host Rider," this monstrous entity spent the tie-in hunting down Calvin Zabo and making him suffer with the Penance Kiss.
Host Rider was pulled away to help with the Venomversesituation, but was forgotten about pretty quickly during the main miniseries.
Ngozi was a Nigerian girl who had a promising career as a track star ruined by a bus accident. Resigned to a wheelchair, she was trying to catch a grasshopper one day while ignorant to the Black Panther vs. Rhino fight going on behind her. Whatever it was about, it involved a capsule with the Venom symbiote in it. Said capsule got loose and rolled up to Ngozi's wheelchair. As Rhino killed Black Panther, the symbiote oozed onto Ngozi and told her to run. She instead used her newfound gift to turn herself into a half-woman/half-grasshopper and took down Rhino.
Soon after, she was put through trials and was accepted as the new Black Panther, replacing T'challa as the ruler and protector of Wakanda.
Victor Von Doom told the Avengers that he was turning over a new leaf and that he prepared a massive peace accord. Whether he was telling the truth or not was only background as Doom was in the middle of a massive war of willpower with the Venom symbiote. Venom wanted to help him crush his enemies. Doom insisted that, "There is no we." Once the dust settled, the demonic Doom showed himself and revealed that the symbiote was bent to his will. Doom vanished as part of the Venomverseplot, but he'd soon be assimilated by the Poison race.
EVERYONE ELSE FROM VENOMVERSE
The plot of Venomversewas that there was a multiversal threat known as Poisons spreading through the worlds. This race was mostly harmless unless it touched a bonded symbiote. Suddenly, it would completely take over, make them stronger, remove their weaknesses, and absorb the host like they were food. The Poisons attempted to conquer the multiverse, led by Poison Thanos and Poison Dr. Doom. Venom hosts from various worlds would be brought in to help fight them, but many would lose and fall into their ranks.
At the beginning of the miniseries, the resistance included the likes of Spider-Man, Mary Jane, Flash Thompson, Andi Benton, Captain America, Dr. Strange, Old Man Logan, X-23, Ghost Rider, Black Panther, Ant-Man, and Rocket Raccoon. Only a handful of them survived.
As for listing the Poison hosts...yeah, I'm going to pass.
VISION AND REED GRIMM
In an alternate future created by one of Spider-Man and Deadpool's adventures, the Fantastic Four is made up of Valeria Richards, The Last Devil (who carries an Iron Fist's hand on a chain), the rock giant Reed Grimm, and Venom Vision. Venom Vision only seemed to speak in ones and zeroes with only Valeria able to understand it. The team helped the elderly Spider-Man and Deadpool fight a legion of Deadpool LMDs. They were under the control of the LMD messiah Master Matrix.
The Venom symbiote went for a desperation move by leaving Vision for Reed, but it was no use. The Deadpools tore Vision to pieces. Master Matrix singlehandedly destroyed Reed and Last Devil. Then he created synthetic symbiotes to enhance his LMD army. Before being overtaken, Valeria sent Spider-Man and Deadpool back in time to prevent this future from ever happening.
PART IV: HONORABLE MENTION
Howard Mackie is a writer who likes to come up with sweet, high-concept ideas and then slink away rather than follow up on it because payoff is hard. When Spider-Man was enjoying his 30th anniversary in the '90s, Mackie penned a storyline about Mysterio messing with Spider-Man's head. The whole thing seemed like an excuse to have a splash page where Galactus appeared to him, clad in the Venom symbiote. So it doesn't really fit in with anywhere else on the list, since it's just Peter Parker tripping balls, but it is such a silly and awesome image that I can't help but include it.
Gavin Jasper writes for Den of Geek and wonders what kind of horrors would occur if Rogue became Venom. Would she just absorb it and turn into some kind of flesh-colored ooze? Read Gavin's other articles here and follow him on Twitter @Gavin4L
From a story about a demonic clown to a haunted hotel, these are the 10 Stephen King horror novels you can't miss!
There's no doubt that writer Stephen King is best known for the horror novels that haunt his special corner of American literature. But the extremely prolific writer has also written plenty of dark/epic fantasy, science fiction, literary, mystery, and even romance. In fact, there are plenty of examples of genre-mixing in his writing. Books like Lisey's Story (a truly fantastic read), Duma Key, The Green Mile, The Eyes of the Dragon, Bag of Bones, and The Dark Tower series are fantastic examples of what King can do with just about any genre of fiction.
It can be hard to make a distinction between King's true horror books and those that happen to have some scary moments in them. But that's why we're here. We've made a ranked list of ten pure horror novels by King that we think will keep you up for plenty of nights to come. A Halloween treat!
We really tried to focus on novels where horror was at the forefront of the story, where without the scares, the book wouldn't be a book at all. That's why you probably won't see The Dark Tower books or The Stand, largely considered to be the King's magnum opus, on this list. But you should read those, too.
Here we go:
In recent years, the King of Horror has taken an interest in hardboiled detective and science fiction novels. Things like the Detective Bill Hodges trilogy, Under the Dome, and 11/22/63 have been among his latest offerings. But his 2014 novel Revival was a return to form for the writer.
This homage to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, the cosmic horror tales of H.P. Lovecraft, and Arthur Machen's "The Great God Pan" is quite the revelation, literally and figuratively. The novel tells the story of a Christian minister who uses strange methods to cure the ill. After his wife and son die in a car accident, he denounces God in front of his entire congregation and is forced to leave town. Years later, he's back to bring a dead woman back to "life" in order to learn more about the afterlife.
What he discovers on the other side is truly terrifying. Revival is must-read recent King.
The Dark Half
If there's one thing King loves, it's writing books and stories about writers. There have been plenty over the years, including "Secret Window, Secret Garden,""1408," and another novel on this list that we'll get to momentarily, but The Dark Halfis probably the most "autobiographical" of the bunch.
You see, King used to write under a pseudonym, Richard Bachman, in order to publish more than one novel a year without overwhelming his audience. The Bachman books consist of a series of gritty novels that were published from 1977 to 1984, and King has revisited the pseudonym since being outed, too.
The protagonist in The Dark Halfhas to deal with the death of his own pseudonym in an unexpected way, as his better-selling alter ego comes after the people that tried to kill him off. It's all a fun bit of supernatural horror that includes a lot blood, violence, and some pretty gross body horror. It's an especially fun horror novel if you're a writer...
But not as fun as King's ridiculous novel about undead pets. A book that was definitely inspired by EC horror comics (King's early brushes with horror were in the pages of those books), this novel might be classified as a delicious, campy romp with plenty of scares. The novel's B-movie sensibility cannot be understated.
In Pet Sematary, a family moves to the small town of Ludlow, Maine, where people bury their dead pets in a special cemetery, which is actually an ancient Micmac Indian burial ground. Obviously, that means that these animals come back to life as evil shadows of themselves.
Oh, the setup is so perfect. When the family's little two-year-old boy is suddenly killed by a speeding truck, the father decides to bury the boy in the pet cemetery in the hopes that he will be revived. What happens next is what the best campy horror is made of.
King's best book about a novelist is also a great horror story that is still quite relatable today. A disturbing look at fandom, Misery is what happens when a writer's work becomes a mad woman's obsession.
Paul Sheldon, writer of Victorian-era romance novels, suffers an accident on the road during a snowstorm. He is rescued by Annie Wilkes, a former nurse who is coincidentally Paul's biggest fan. And she's not very happy about the ending of his last book. So Annie decides to kidnap Paul and keep him hostage until he fixes the damage he's done.
Imagine being kidnapped by an angry mob of Ghostbusters fans after telling them that the new team will be made up of an all-female cast, and then forced to rewrite the entire script. That's Annie Wilkes.
Misery is a fascinating psychological horror tale about the dangers of fandom and a writer's connection to his work. And if you need a great Stephen King movie, the film adaptation is pretty fantastic, as well.
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
This slim novel (to King's standards) has plenty in common with a fairty tale, as a little girl finds herself lost in the woods with nothing or no one to help her find her way except what's in her backpack: a bottle of water, two Twinkies, a boiled egg, a tuna sandwich, a bottle of Surge, a poncho, a Game Boy, and a Walkman. Thankfully, King's little protagonist proves to be quite the survivalist as the book progresses.
Walking a thin line between an intense examination of loneliness and isolation and a supernatural thriller, as things grow weirder in the woods as time passes, this is a compact horror novel that you can read in one sit-down and you'll get King at his best, as his character exemplifies the meaning of human resilience, even as she begins to hallucinate due to hunger, fear, and thirst.
Her love for her baseball idol pitcher Tom Gordon allows her to face her fears and even confront the "God of the Lost." This is a really good one. A few years later, a pop-up book adaptation of this novel was fittingly released.
Cujo is one of King's more "realistic" novels, featuring a setup that's real enough to send shivers down your spine, especially if you live in the suburbs or ever owned a Ford Pinto... The story goes like this: the Trentons move from New York to Castle Rock, Maine (where nothing good ever happens in the Kingverse). Vic and Donna Trenton, who are having some marital problems, have a four-year-old son named Tad, because children should always be in danger in these books.
Meanwhile, longtime residents Charity and Brett Chambers have a nice St. Bernard named Cujo that loves chasing wild rabbits in his spare time. During his latest safari, Cujo is bitten on the nose by a rabid bat. And, as you can probably imagine, all hell absolutely breaks loose.
The dog kills several people before feasting its eyes on the ultimate prey: a boy and his mother, who have stopped by the Chambers' place in their little Ford Pinto. What follows are very tense moments of terror inside a little car, as a mom tries to protect her son from the rabid terror that awaits them outside.
King has said in interviews that he doesn't really remember writing Cujo, as he worked on it at the peak of his struggle with drug addiction, but we wish he had. He wrote a fine horror book. Cruel ending and all.
King's ode to Bram Stoker's Dracula is a classic vampire tale that might even formidably rival the novel it pays homage to. When Kurt Barlow comes to Jerusalem's Lot, Maine (where nothing good happens, either), shit hits the fan, as he preys on the living and ignites an outbreak of vampirism in the town.
The only guy who can stop him is, you guessed it, a writer named Ben Mears, who already has a strained relationship with his hometown, which he abandoned years ago. Like a modern team of Draculian vampire hunters, Ben teams up with his new sweetheart Susan, a little boy named Mark, and some other townspeople to take down the vampire and his unholy creations. There's also Father Callahan, this story's version of an incompetent Van Helsing, who loses a lot in the novel, but redeems himself in King's The Dark Towerseries.
All in all, this fat novel holds plenty of scares, including a school bus full of vampire children who hunt down the school bus driver who tormented them. We have goosebumps.
By now, The Shining, along with the other two entries in the top 3 of this list, has become embedded in American pop culture, whether because of King's book or Stanley Kubrick's excellent movie (King would disagree). Either way, this is the novel that never made you want to become a hotel caretaker.
An alcoholic writer (surprise!) named Jack Torrance brings his wife Wendy and his son Danny to his new job as the off-season caretaker of The Overlook Hotel in Colorado, where he hopes to make a bit of extra cash to support his writing. The job seems easy enough until all the guests leave and the doors shut behind them until the spring. That's when the hotel's ghosts come out to fuck with the living.
You'll recall plenty of the spooky ghosts Danny encounters on his treks through the claustrophobic hallways of the hotel. It's because he was born with telepathic powers that allow him to communicate with the lost souls of the Overlook. It unfortunately also triggers the place's supernatural energy, which quickly takes control of Jack, who is convinced into killing his wife and son due to cabin fever and a pretty bad case of writer's block.
This is one of those special novels that you only get once in a lifetime, and an especially good example of King's unique brand of horror. Get to it, Constant Readers!
The story of how debut novel Carrie came to be a huge hit for the future King of Horror is now as famous as the actual book. King began working on a short story about a girl with telekinetic powers when someone accused him of not knowing how to write about women. He typed up the infamous shower scene while living in a trailer and working as a high school teacher. King didn't love the scene, so he tossed the first pages of his bestseller in the trash. It was his wife Tabitha who pulled the pages out of the waste basket and convinced him to finish the story. And here we are.
Apart from all the telekinesis, Carrie is another book that has remained quite relatable. On one side, it's a lot of social commentary about religious fanaticism, alienation, adolescence, and bullying, while the rest is pure horrific fun.
While many will point to the high school cruelty or Carrie's eventual vengeance upon her classmates as the source of true terror in the book, we'd say there's nothing scarier than Margaret White, an unstable Fundamentalist who unceasingly punishes her daughter Carrie for her sins. Waiting to see how their conflict plays out is the best part of the book, as the real moments of cruelty take centerstage amidst all the supernatural stuff.
The 1976 movie from Brian De Palma, starring Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie, is quite good, too.
Well, here we are. Like the Losers Club, as much as we'd like to forget about Pennywise, we just can't. Sparking a pretty logical (let's face it) fear of clowns, IT is King's terrifying, gruesome, trashy, cosmic, demonic horror masterpiece that we still can't claw out of our minds so many years later.
Not only does IT, a shapeshifting evil entity, prey on your worst fears, he also lives in the sewers and eats little children. As the story unfolds, it is revealed that IT has stalked the town of Derry, Maine (where nothing good...you get the picture) for centuries, waking up every 27 years to murder and eat everything.
It's up to the Losers, a group of childhood friends, to confront the monster not once, but TWICE in order to finally rid the town of the ancient, otherworldly evil. Watching Pennywise haunt their memories throughout the book quickly becomes a guilty pleasure. Are we bad people?
The true power of this masterful novel is in the all-encompassing evil nature of the villain that we can't quite understand. It not only makes a group of kids desperately aware of their own mortality, but scars them for life in more ways than one. And for what purpose? We may never truly know.
Watch IT (2017) and Stephen King, IT! (1990) on Amazon
What are your top Stephen King horror novels? Tell us in the comments!
The upcoming book Queen: Album By Album will make a perfect listening companion to Queen's 45th Anniversary.
Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar make Queen's operatic, six-minute epic “Bohemian Rhapsody” look so easy in the opening scene of comedy Wayne’s World, it could be sung off-the-cuff in an AMC Pacer. But it took the band three weeks to record the song at Trident studio in 1975. It took them twelve hours just to record 180 vocal overdubs, besides the piano, bass, guitars, drums and that elegantly massive Chinese gong at the end. Heavy-metal journalist Martin Popoff's upcoming book Queen: Album By Album, which comes out next month as part of Voyageur Press’s Album by Album series, details all the studio tricks the band employed. The book will arrive just in time for the 45th anniversary of their first album and the upcoming feature biopic.
"Formed in 1970, Queen went on to become one of the most popular—and most successful—rock bands of all time, even following the untimely death of beloved and magnetic frontman Freddie Mercury, and nearly 50 years after their formation," reads the official press statement. Queen: Album By Album explores all 15 of the band’s studio albums, including their soundtrack for the 1980 film Flash Gordon. The songs are picked apart by fellow musicians like Paul McCartney and Dee Snider, along with journalists, music industry pros and Queen's producer Mack.
Queen: Album By Album delves into "individual songs, the circumstances that surrounded the recording of each album, the band and contemporary rock contexts into which they were released," through "freewheeling discussions" with Dave Ellefson, Derek Shulman, Jeb Wright, Daniel Nester and other experts. The book is illustrated with rare live performance and candid offstage photography, as well as "scads of rare Queen ephemera."
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
The Album by Album series injects varied voices to bring a unique approach to the rock bio genre. Popoff has written over 7,000 album reviews, and the books Rush: The Illustrated History; Metallica: The Complete Illustrated History; The Art of Metal; and The Big Book of Hair Metal. He has also worked on film documentaries about Rush and ZZ Top.
Queen: Album by Album comes out in hardcover on November 13, 2018.
Culture Editor Tony Sokol cut his teeth on the wire services and also wrote and produced New York City's Vampyr Theatre and the rock opera AssassiNation: We Killed JFK. Read more of his work here or find him on Twitter @tsokol.
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.
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 now here, I thought I'd take some time to look through Venom's history and some of the more eyebrow-raising moments. Except for anything from Spider-Man 3 because my therapist tells me I'm not ready to talk about that yet.
15. DR. DOOM'S ILL-DEFINED PLAN FOR WORLD DOMINATION
Spider-Man: The Video Game (1991)
The Spider-Man arcade game is fun to play, but good luck trying to make sense of the narrative. Having Black Cat accompany Spider-Man makes enough sense, but having Hawkeye and Namor as playable is just weird. At the end of the first level, you fight Venom. Once he's defeated, he's possessed by some mystical artifact and it enlarges him to about 25-feet-tall. After being beaten down to normal size again, he gives it another go and is once again wiped out. That appears to be the last you hear from him.
Late in the game, you find out that Kingpin isn't the game's big villain after all. He's working under Dr. Doom, meaning a trip down to Latveria for the climax. You'd think that taking out Dr. Doom (twice, since the first is a Doombot) would be the finale, but no. Once Doom is taken out, he unleashes the TRUE final boss! An army of Venoms literally rain from the top of the screen and you have to fight them all off. How random.
Coincidentally, Dr. Doom would unleash an army of symbiotes onto the populace in Bendis' Mighty Avengers many years later.
14. ALL ARMS ON DECK
Venom: The Madness (1993)
Ann Nocenti and Kelley Jones did a 3-issue arc with an interesting hook. See, Spider-Man was joined with a sentient parasite and thought it was too insane to keep around. Eddie Brock didn't have that opinion and gladly became Venom. So what if you added a third creature to the mix that drove Venom so insane that Eddie had to put his foot down and get rid of it?
After being stomped down on by Juggernaut to the point that he was inches from death, Venom was joined with a sentient virus made out of mercury. It healed him up and jacked up his strength, while at the same time giving him extra arms and tiny head sticking out of his neck because this is an Ann Nocenti comic. Unfortunately, Venom went a little too extreme and not in a good way. Like, he at one point attempted to rape his girlfriend because he was more impulsive than ever. It's seriously messed up.
Luckily, Juggernaut showed up for round two to interrupt that and Madness Venom was able to hold his own against the unstoppable one. He didn't get a chance to finish Juggernaut off because he's whisked away to a realm of madness, where he was attacked by dark copies of Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Ghost Rider. Comics!
13. SECRET SKELETON
What If #114 (1998)
The final issue of the 90's run of What If was a pretty cool one with a story based on Secret Wars. What if the Beyonder and Galactus killed each other and all the heroes and villains were stranded? 25 years later, we see a society where the survivors have paired up and reproduced. The main protagonists are the children of She-Hulk and Hawkeye, Wolverine and Storm, Human Torch and Wasp, Thor and Enchantress as well as Captain America and Rogue (try not to think too hard about how that one works). Remember, though, that this is based on the story where Spider-Man got his black costume. It's shown that he's still wearing it and with two and a half decades since its introduction, what could this mean?
Late in the story, the heroes all swarm Dr. Doom's castle and in one panel, Spider-Man is hit with one of Klaw's sonic blasts. It reveals that all that's left of Peter Parker is a skeleton. The symbiote has been controlling his remains like a puppet for who knows how many years. Yet this doesn't even faze Human Torch, who saves him and lends him a quip, as if he's long accepted that his buddy is just a pile of bones controlled by talking spandex.
12. ENDLESS FIRST IMPRESSIONS
This one isn't so much a "moment," but it's so deliciously 90's comics that I have to mention it. Back in that decade, Venom became popular enough to get his own run as an anti-hero in San Francisco...which then got him relocated to New York City because they needed those easy-to-write Spider-Man crossovers.
Except...Marvel had a peculiar way of running Venom's ongoing. On one hand, it really was an ongoing series. It started in February of 1993 and the last issue was January of 1998. Sixty issues across five years without a single month being off. On the other hand, they didn't treat it that way. There was no Venom #7. Rather than streamline all the comics into one easy-to-follow series, Marvel turned every single story arc into its own miniseries. What's going to sell better, a comic with a random number attached, or a Venom comic with a big #1 on the cover?
In the end, other than Venom #1-60, we got Venom: Lethal Protector #1-6, Venom: Funeral Pyre #1-3, Venom: The Madness #1-3, Venom: The Mace #1-3, Venom: The Enemy Within #1-3, Venom: Nights of Vengeance #1-4, Venom: Separation Anxiety #1-4, Venom: Carnage Unleashed #1-4, Venom: Sinner Takes All #1-5, Venom: Along Came a Spider #1-4, Venom: The Hunted #1-3, Venom: The Hunger #1-4, Venom: Tooth and Claw #1-3, Venom: On Trial #1-3, Venom: License to Kill #1-3, Venom: Sign of the Boss #1-2 and Venom: Finale #1-3. All that and a bunch of specials mixed in there. I guess marketing trumps a coherent reading order.
11. THE WAR IN FRANK CASTLE'S MIND
What If #44 (1992)
Kurt Busiek and Luke McDonnell collaborated for one hell of a comic in What If Venom Had Possessed the Punisher? Frank Castle stops into a church moments before Eddie Brock and because of this, he becomes the host for the symbiote. At first it helps him with his war on crime, but it begins to take over more and more and even tries to make him kill Spider-Man.
It all comes to a head when the Punisher fights Spider-Man, Daredevil, and Moon Knight on a rooftop. Spider-Man hits him with a sonic blast and it allows Frank to wrest control for just a moment. He shoots the sonic cannon and goes into a vegetative state. Inside his head, we see a really sweet sequence of Frank in his Vietnam gear as he feels himself being stalked by the creature. He changes into his Punisher duds, screams that he's not afraid, and fights the creature head on.
It's a completely badass scene, but the best part is still Moon Knight excitedly yelling that he's a creature of mysticism – AND THE MOON! Somehow saying that wins him the benefit of the doubt.
10. HE'S A DEMON ON WHEELS
Venom #36 (2013)
Cullen Bunn really did try to make his Venom run work, but a lot of the time, things never really clicked. In the latter part of his run, Flash Thompson Venom hangs out in Philadelphia and hunts down any information he can on crime boss Lord Ogre. Some criminals drive off and escape him and he's a bit disappointed that he doesn't have a ride of his own. He sees the husk of an old car with the wheels stripped off and gets an idea.
Existing for just one hell of a splash page, the Venom-Mobile shows that apparently the symbiote is able to work on machines too if the story calls for it. Either way, it's certainly a step up from the Spider-Mobile.
9. DOG IN THE EYE
Dark Reign: The Sinister Spider-Man #4 (2009)
Brian Reed and Chris Bachalo's take on Mac Gargan Venom is a super fun read, telling the story of a horndog cannibal who's treated by the media as a great hero. Under the guise of Spider-Man of the Dark Avengers, Venom causes all sorts of trouble and makes a million enemies in his wake. The climax is at a big festival in the middle of Time Square. Norman Osborn gives Bullseye and Daken the orders to take Gargan out, since he's more trouble than he's worth. Since Bullseye can make any object into a lethal weapon, he chooses to use a tiny yapping dog.
The dog doesn't kill Venom, but it does get lodged deep into his eye. Venom proceeds to fight off Bullseye, Daken, various gang members, and a group of half-eaten supervillains out for revenge...all while he has a dog in his eye. Once cooler heads prevail, he finally pops it out of his socket and discards the poor guy off into the distance.
8. THE SINISTER SPIDER-HAM
What The--?! #20 (1992)
Spider-Ham was a creation of the 80's and his star wore out before Venom's introduction. The character was reprised in the early 90's as part of Marvel's parody comic What The--?! Issue #20 features a crossover between various regulars of the series in an adventure called the Infinity Wart. Forbush Man, Spider-Ham, Milk & Cookies, and Wolverina team up and face their evil selves. For Spider-Ham, it's an excuse to introduce his Venom counterpart, Pork Grind.
Speaking like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pork Grind fights Spider-Ham and Milk & Cookies. He mostly manhandles them until Spider-Ham eats his spinach and punches him out. Coincidentally, this is not the last entry on the list to feature Austrian Venom.
7. EDDIE BROCK: SISTER OF PAIN
Venom: Sign of the Boss #1 (1997)
Venom's 90's series became delightfully silly by the end, partially because they introduced a plot device where the symbiote was placated by eating chocolate. Believe it or not, there's actually a really well-written explanation for why the symbiote is calmed by chocolate, but that's neither here nor there. During the last couple story arcs, Venom is forced to work as an agent for the government or else they'll detonate the bomb in his chest. He's given an assignment to lay low in a church for some big speech on peace by a foreign leader. If anyone makes a move, Venom is to be alerted to spring into action and stop the assassination, but not a moment sooner.
The symbiote is able to mimic any form of clothing and disguise Eddie in all sorts of ways. That makes it extra funny when of all disguises, Eddie wears a nun's habit and asks the choirboys to not sing quite as high-pitched as it gives him a bit of a headache. Some gun-carrying thugs take them hostage, but Venom has to wait until he gets clearance to reveal himself.
Once he does, he violently murders the henchmen in front of the children, not realizing that he's traumatizing them into oblivion. Once finished, he tells them that violence is more of an adult thing and offers a chocolate bar to one of the kids. Because of course he has a candy bar on him. The boy is practically catatonic in fear, especially when Venom yells, "Come on! Take it!" Then Venom gets all huffy and offended, not understanding why he isn't being thanked.
6. THE FRENCH KISS OF DEATH
Venom #11 (2004)
Daniel Way's Venom series from the mid-00's is really, really bad and should not be read ever. It's mean-spirited, overly-complicated, and has nothing resembling payoff whatsoever. It's also a comic where Venom himself – at least the Eddie Brock incarnation – doesn't show up until the 11th issue. You see, the symbiote terrorizing everyone all this time is a clone. #11 starts a three-issue story that explains the clone's origin.
It has to do with a fight where Venom beats on Spider-Man until the Fantastic Four arrive to stop him. At first, Thing is able to overpower Venom, until Venom fights back by making out with him...TO THE DEATH.
Venom shoving his tongue down Thing's throat is one of the grosser things I've seen in a comic, but it actually serves its narrative purpose. Human Torch burns the tongue off and Thing coughs it up. A bystander picks the tongue up, brings it home and tries to sell it on eBay. He's immediately made a target by an old man made out of nannites who is really the force behind Noah's Ark and—oh my God, I don't want to get into any more of the plot of this series. Moving on.
5. THE MOLOTOV COCKTAIL OF AWESOME
Venom #13.4 (2012)
During the Rick Remender Venom series, Flash Thompson Venom starred in a crossover called The Circle of Four. It's quite a brilliant little concept that took me a minute to grasp. In the 90s, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hulk, and Ghost Rider teamed up to become the New Fantastic Four. Here we have a similar grouping with Venom, X-23, Red Hulk, and the female Ghost Rider that everyone's completely forgotten about five minutes after her series ended.
The four join forces to help save Las Vegas from the clutches of Blackheart, who is trying to create Hell on Earth. With the exception of X-23, the team joins together to make their own special version of Captain Planet, only more soul-shatteringly badass. Riding a giant motorcycle is Red Hulk, who has become the host for both the Spirit of Vengeance and the Venom symbiote. This is the cliffhanger before the final issue and it still makes me smile. I'm surprised the final issue isn't Blackheart throwing his hands up and saying, "Yeah, this isn't worth it. Sorry for all the trouble I caused, everyone," and going back to Hell where it's safer.
4. THE GROSSEST OF MATING HABITS
What If: The Other (2007)
The What If issue based on the Other tells the tale of Peter Parker refusing to break out of his cocoon and embrace his inner-spider. The world and his loved ones think he's dead, so he's going to keep it that way. The Venom symbiote senses that Peter's body is just sitting around, unused, and leaves Mac Gargan's body. It attaches itself to Peter's husk and is pretty pleased with being one with its original and favorite host once again. Peter has no consciousness to speak of, so the symbiote is completely running the show. Calling himself Poison, the creature confronts Mary Jane and wants her to be his mate. She tells him off and he leaves her be.
With Mary Jane not an option, Poison goes for an even grosser route. He spawns a symbiote offspring and uses it to control the rotting dead body of Gwen Stacy. You can thank Peter David for this piece of alien necrophilia incest. You can also thank him for...
3. THE NOT-READY-FOR-PRIME-TIME SMASHERS
Incredible Hulk vs. Venom (1994)
This is a comic released by Unicef that deals with Venom and Hulk fighting each other and then teaming up because a series of earthquakes are tearing apart San Francisco. A mad scientist calling himself Dr. Bad Vibes (not the villain from the C.O.P.S. cartoon, I checked) insists that he's been causing the earthquakes with his earthquake machine. Hulk has the mind of one of the world's greatest scientists and Venom is an accomplished journalist. Truly, they can put their minds together and figure out a great strategy in stopping Bad Vibes' reign of terror before it's too late.
Their plan is to quote Saturday Night Live.
Yes, they go into a news broadcast to do a Hans and Franz impression, complete with clapping. Honest to God, when I first read this scene, I had to put down the comic, get up, and just walk away because I simply could not deal with this.
2. DIAL-UP M FOR MURDER
Venom: Carnage Unleashed #4 (1995)
Thing with the symbiote is that the writers can tack on nearly any kind of ability and you can buy it because it's a blob from outer space that gives people super strength and copies Spider-Man's powers. Turns a car into a monster car? Sure, why not? Makes you immune to noxious gas? I buy it. Makes it harder for psychics to gain control? Makes sense to me.
Larry Hama created the most outlandish use of the symbiote's abilities with his Carnage Unleashed storyline. Carnage Unleashed – a story created based on the success of the Maximum Carnage video game – is about a Carnage-based video game that's become a big deal. It's about to be launched to the public with online multiplayer and Carnage's plan is to use this to his advantage and kill as many players as possible. How? By using his brand-new power of using the symbiote to travel through the internet!
The comic keeps stacking on more and more instances of, "Computers do not work that way!" that escalates to the point that Venom and Carnage are fighting inside cyberspace and it's being broadcast on the big screen in Time Square. Coincidentally, people are able to hear their banter despite, you know, there being no audio on that big screen. Venom wins when he sees a heat sink and destroys it, which causes a huge explosion that hurts them both and knocks them out of their computers. It is the stupidest, most glorious goddamn thing.
1. THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
All-Access #1 (1996)
Ah, Access. For those of you who don't know or remember, Access was a superhero jointly owned by DC and Marvel whose job was to make sure that both worlds remained separate and don't bleed into each other. Considering they've been refusing to do a crossover since JLA/Avengers, it's been a pretty successful decade and a half. Way to go!
Following the events of Marvel vs. DC, Access starred in his own miniseries based on keeping the peace via cosmic segregation. In the first issue, Venom finds himself in Metropolis and Ron Marz chooses to forget that Venom is supposed to be kind of a good guy around this time. Instead, Venom goes on a rampage until Superman and his post-resurrection mullet arrive. This should be a simple fight. Superman moves planets with his bare hands and Venom is just a stronger Spider-Man with a bucket full of weaknesses.
Then Venom throws Superman around like a ragdoll. The two have several fights and each time, Venom absolutely humbles Superman, making him look like a complete joke. Access brings Spider-Man into the DC world to help fight Venom and even that isn't enough! Put Superman and Spider-Man together against one threat and he still kicks their asses.
The only reason Venom loses is because Access shows up with a giant sonic cannon loaned from STAR Labs. Afterwards, Spider-Man tells Superman that Eddie Brock was never easy to get along with, what with him being a newspaper reporter. Then Spider-Man wonders why he's getting the silent glare.
A great contrast to this story is the Spider-Man/Batman crossover from a year or so earlier. That comic features Batman beating Carnage in a straight-up fight. No sonics. No fire. Just lots of punches. Batman beat up Carnage, who regularly used to beat up Venom, who beat up Superman. Somewhere, a Batman fan is yelling at a Superman fan, "See?! I told you so!"
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The charity Reach Out WorldWide will be streaming a game-based fundraiser and Vin Diesel's using his upcoming superhero movie to help out.
The late Paul Walker, known for his Fast and the Furiousexploits, founded a charity called Reach Out WorldWide (ROWW) in response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Although Walker is no longer with us, ROWW continues on with deploying relief in the wake of natural disasters. One of the ways they help raise funds is their annual Game4Paul livestream, where they have celebrities show up and play video games while raffling off some exclusive prizes.
This year is no different and not only will October 11 be the fourth installment of Game4Paul, but it also falls on what would have been his 45th birthday.
To get some eyes on the event, there’s a focus on fellow Furiousfriend Vin Diesel, who is currently filming the Bloodshot movie (which should arrive in 2020) based on the Valiant Comics series. There are many Bloodshot-related prizes, which I will get to in a sec, but the most interesting one is a variant edition of Bloodshot Salvation #12 with cover art by Lewis LaRosa. Not only is this the only copy of this version of the issue, but the cover shows the first official depiction of what Vin Diesel as Bloodshot looks like.
Now, for those of you who don’t follow Valiant Comics (we have a guide to them here) or don’t know who Bloodshot is, here’s the gist. Created by Kevin VanHook, Don Perlin, and Bob Layton back in the early '90s, Bloodshot is essentially RoboCop meets Wolverine meets Hardcore Henry meets someone who hates shirts. He’s a seemingly unkillable soldier filled with billions of nanites that constantly heal him as long as he sustains them with protein. For a time, he was used as the ultimate weapon for shadowy government organization Project Rising Spirit. They programmed him with seemingly a dozen different lifetimes’ worth of memories so that they could manipulate him into playing the hero and doing their dirty work.
Need an enemy base cleaned out? Make him think his “wife Nancy” or “best friend Bill” is being held captive behind enemy lines. Then once that’s done with, put him on ice and wake him up for the next mission with a different made-up scenario for motivation.
But of course, nothing lasts forever and Bloodshot eventually broke free. Now, with so many false memories in his head, he doesn’t know who he truly is and what his role in the world is supposed to be. There’s rarely a dull moment with him because his status quo changes every four issues or so.
While that’s what he’s about in the comics, here’s a new official synopsis of the movie:
[Bloodshot] follows Ray Garrison aka Bloodshot, a deceased soldier resurrected by weapons contractor Rising Spirit Technologies through the use of nanotechnology. Suffering from total memory loss but imbued with an array of staggering new abilities, Ray struggles to reconnect with who he was while learning what sort of weapon he has become...aided by a team of fellow augmented combatants codenamed Chainsaw.
The movie co-stars Guy Pearce, Eiza Gonzalez, and Sam Heughan. It’s directed by Dave Wilson, written by Eric Heisserer, and produced by Neal Moritz, Toby Jaffe, and Dinesh Shamdasani.
So what else does Game4Paul have to offer relating to Bloodshot? They have a Bloodshot-themed custom Xbox One X console. It has the movie’s logo and exclusive artwork. It also comes with a 1TB hard drive and all the usual stuff that comes with the console. Vin Diesel also signed it.
Various rare editions of Bloodshot comics, all signed by Vin Diesel, like a gold logo edition of Bloodshot Salvation #1and an out-of-print hardcover collecting the first 13 issues of Bloodshot’s 2012 series. The biggest get is the Bloodshot Salvation #1 brushed metal variant. This brushed aluminum metal sheet copy is signed by over 50 cast and crew members behind the Bloodshotmovie, including Diesel and Guy Pearce. While there’s one copy of that, there are three copies signed by just Diesel.
Then you get Bloodshot statues, mugs, plushes, and a very rare pair of custom Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars. NYC street artist AKA MAG made five pair specifically for three of the producers, the director, and Diesel. Diesel signed his and is willing to part with the shoes in the name of charity.
The livestream of Game4Paul begins at 4pm ET. You can watch it right here off Xbox's official Twitch channel.
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
Like many horror icons, the dead-eyed Michael Myers of Halloween fame has also dabbled in stabbing people on the comic book page.
Michael Myers is the understated horror icon, for better or worse. He’s the architect of the whole slasher genre and while John Carpenter's Halloweenis an undisputed classic, he doesn’t stand out as much as his fellow supernatural murderers. He’s the less-exciting Jason Voorhees, even if he came first and had his shit figured out by the first movie (as opposed to Jason’s three).
I guess Michael stands out less because he was never part of anything excessively dumb. Oh yeah, he had a bunch of lesser sequels that culminated in being beat up by Busta Rhymes and there’s that Halloween IIIfiasco, but he never fell into the pop culture trap of other '80s and '90s boogeymen. He didn’t show up on Arsenio Hall’s show or appear in a Fat Boys music video, for starters.
By the time we did get a silly Michael Myers moment, it was his goofy cameo in Rob Zombie’s Haunted World of El Superbeasto in 2009, merely a month or so after the last actual Halloweenmovie.
Since Michael was rarely as outlandish as his cinematic brethren, it made sense that it took so long for him to finally make his comic book debut. Freddy showed up in the late '80s, while Jason showed up in the early '90s, and Michael arrived in the year 2000. By this point, Halloween H20 had already come and gone, so the movie series was nearly dead already.
Released by Chaos Comics, Halloween #1 was written by Phil Nutman and Daniel Farrands with art by David Brewer. It follows Tommy Doyle, the boy confronted by Myers in the first movie who later went on to beat him down a bunch with a pipe years later in Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. In other words, our hero in this story is Paul Rudd.
He’s mostly here to frame the issue, which is about Michael Myers’ beginnings. Tommy is obsessed with making a name off of Michael’s reign of terror and gets his hands on Dr. Sam Loomis’ old diary. From there, he reads about young Michael’s time in the mental institution, seeing as Loomis goes from wanting to help the mentally-distant boy to realizing that he’s evil incarnate.
It’s done surprisingly well. These kinds of prequel stories are always a touchy concept because they can easily go wrong. If Michael is 100% evil, then it’s a boring and meaningless story. If he’s created from his environment, you run the risk of humanizing him too much and making him look like less of a threat. Here, Nutman and Farrands blur the line and ask the question, “Could Loomis have saved him?”
Loomis mentions the other young inmates, all older than Michael. Coincidentally, that kid Blair is neither referenced or shown other than this intro. Weird. Especially because this flashback story doesn’t outright spell it out that Michael is behind all the murder and mutilation. Sure, Loomis believes he’s behind it and we know he’s a bad egg, but they could have easily tied Blair into it and made it a red herring thing.
Otherwise, the story is about Michael being put in an unwinnable situation where his roommates are not exactly a good crowd to be stuck with. But, just like Rorschach in Watchmen, they discover that they’re the ones stuck in there with him.
Once the issue comes close to running out of pages, we get a scene of Michael attacking Tommy. Since Tommy has enough plot armor, he is able to defeat Michael in a moment reminiscent of the ending of the first movie.
Months later, we get Halloween II: The Blackest Eyes with Phil Nutman and Mickey Yablans writing and Jerry Beck drawing. It picks up where the previous story left off with Tommy deciding to end Michael Myers once and for all.
This story isn’t so hot for the most part, partially because they spend a lot of time going into the whole cult backstory. The stuff about curses and druids always weighed down the Halloweenfranchise in the eyes of many. Luckily, there’s enough Michael action to make up for it, where he stalks Tommy, the sheriff, and the grown-up versions of the kids that bullied Tommy in the first movie, who are now hell-bent on burning down the abandoned Myers house.
Several months after that, we’re given Halloween III: The Devil’s Eyes by Phil Nutman and Justiniano. It begins with Tommy locked up in an asylum, mainly as a cover-up for all that druid crap that went down in the previous issue. He escapes and teams up with Lindsey Wallace, the other kid being babysat in the original movie.
Since this comic is released late 2001 and Halloween H20came out a couple years earlier, they finally talk about the elephant in the room: Michael Myers is totally supposed to be dead, right? Like, Laurie Strode chopped his head off. Sure, Myers can heal from a lot of stuff, but the movies at least give us the illusion that there’s some kind of limit to it. He’s not like Jason, who can cartoonishly return from absolutely anything.
Even Halloween: Resurrection went with a different out, saying that Laurie killed the wrong guy. That movie wouldn’t be out for over half a year compared to this comic, so that raises questions. Are they going to go with that same explanation? Can Michael Myers come back from decapitation? Is there someone else under the mask? Hell, is it that Blair kid somehow?
It’s a strong finale to the Chaos Comics trilogy, though it does get a laugh out of me for Nutman just crossing his arms and going, “Yeah, I know this doesn’t fit into the movies. Screw it.”
Though it turns out there’s a reason for that. Daniel Farrands, writer of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, was at one point asked to pitch a follow-up to Halloween H20. The studio didn’t go with his pitch and instead, he just told Phil Nutman about his ideas and there we go.
Man, why can’t we get a comic based on Peter Jackson’s unused Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Lover screenplay? I’d read the hell out of that.
After the Chaos Comics stuff, there was only one voice of Halloweencomics. Stefan Hutchinson wrote about all of Michael Myers’ exploits from 2003 to the end of 2008. For a Halloweenconvention, he made Halloween: One Good Scare, featuring muddy art by Peter Fielding.
It’s a good one-shot, all things considered. It follows the never-before-mentioned son of Dr. Sam Loomis, who followed his father’s footsteps and works at the sanitarium. Things get interesting for him when Lindsey Wallace has herself committed, insisting that Michael Myers is still alive and now he’s after her. This comic comes out post-Resurrection, so it asks the question of what Michael even wants anymore now that he’s succeeded in wiping out his family.
It’s a necessarily dire story that could have probably used a bit more of Michael in action, but succeeds in the end by rolling out some grade-A dread with a cliffhanger that’s never followed up on and doesn’t need to be.
In 2006, Hutchinson teamed up with Marcus Smith for the one-shot Halloween: Autopsis, released by Paranormal Pictures. It tells the story of Carter, a young photographer obsessed with images that “show the truth” because his father was a projectionist who died while Carter was watching Night of the Living Dead and that totally ruined movies and pictures for him.
...I don’t really get it either.
Short version is that he’s obsessed with photos of Michael’s victims.
The stuff with Carter isn’t so great, but the comic is redeemed by his stalking of Dr. Sam Loomis. See, it’s worth noting that Hutchinson’s comic world takes place in a continuity where only the first movie, first sequel, H20, and Resurrectionhappened. All the nonsense from parts four-through-six are off the table. That means that Loomis’ hastily-edited stinger death in Curse of Michael Myers didn’t happen.
As Carter spies on Loomis regularly, he feels pity for him. As he puts it, Loomis is no arch-rival of Michael Myers. He’s just another victim, living a sad existence where he knows his failure has lead to countless deaths.
Carter’s search for Michael leads to the obvious fate and we’re told that the story will continue in Halloween: Sam. Sam would be released as a PDF in 2008 on the now-defunct Halloweenmovies.com site.
Again, Marcus Smith is on art duties, but the story is mostly prose. It tells the story of the Halloweenmovies from Loomis’ point of view, ending prior to Halloween H20. It ultimately shows the final days of Loomis, who has grown so weary from his investment in Michael to the point of suffering a heart attack.
Michael appears before him for one last confrontation where Loomis is too tired and weak to fight for his life, but is able to at least get into Michael’s head a little bit and point out how empty a being he is. According to Loomis, Michael’s first kill was his peak and no matter how brutally he murders anyone else, it will never capture the same magic. It's the closest thing to taking a loss that Michael does in the entire Hutchinson run and even then, not really.
In 2008, Hutchinson would do a handful of Halloweencomics for Devil’s Due Publishing. The main one is a four-issue miniseries called Halloween: Nightdance, featuring art by Tim Seeley. Rather than bringing in characters from the various movies, it starts anew with a fresh set of characters. The best I can compare it to is the six-issue Friday the 13th comic Wildstorm released. It feels refreshing because it takes its time.
The one-shots and two-parters speed through everything a bit too much at times. Here, we actually get to know our victims and the tension is allowed to build.
Our protagonist is Lisa, a teenager who was locked in a cellar by Michael, along with a little boy named Daniel she was babysitting at the time. They were freed by a search party days later. Although Lisa doesn’t get to see Daniel anymore, he still sends her crude cartoon drawings every day. Things take a dark turn when these drawings become disturbing, like showing Lisa naked and covered in blood.
As you can guess, the unstoppable man in the William Shatner mask is looking to finish the job.
It builds on the modus operandi that Hutchinson introduced in One Good Scare. Michael Myers isn’t 100% about simply showing up and killing everyone in sight. Well, for the less-important people, sure, but what he really likes is confronting his prey, leaving them alive, and then coming back after their fear has ripened.
Next is Halloween: 30 Years of Terror, a double-sized one-shot featuring five short stories. They mostly feel a bit half-baked. “Trick or Treat,” drawn by Danijel Zezelj, is about the old couple who Tommy Doyle and Lindsey Wallace run to during the end of the first movie. While leading to some cool imagery, it ends just as quickly as it begins.
Jim Daly’s “POV” shows Michael murdering a beauty queen for kicks, mainly because that kill has been referenced in other Hutchinson Halloweenstories. It’s not really a story. Just a sequence with a gimmick.
Brett Weldele’s “Visiting Hours” is about a girl who has been haunted by young Michael’s gaze for decades and awaits in the sanitarium for him to one day kill her because she’s too crippled by fear to do anything else with her life.
“Tommy and the Boogeyman,” drawn by Jeffrey Zornow and Lee Ferguson, is a weird one. It shows what Tommy Doyle’s up to in this continuity where Paul Rudd’s performance never happened. Part of the short story is a comic-within-the-comic about a cross between the Crypt Keeper and a tarantula, who acts as a more charismatic slasher villain.
Then we see that Tommy is apparently...Joe Quesada? Huh. Anyway, he draws Michael Myers comics.
Then there’s “Repetition Compulsion” with more great Tim Seeley art. It’s another Dr. Loomis thing, once again showing off how Michael is one step ahead of him at all times.
The final Halloweencomic is Halloween: The First Death of Laurie Strode with art by Jeff Zornow. The three issue miniseries is supposed to be the link between the end of Halloween IIand Laurie’s status quo as of Halloween H20, with Loomis faking a car accident and allowing Michael to believe she’s dead.
It’s a pretty weak comic, all in all, although I love the quick shout-out to Halloween III.
The second issue ends with Laurie watching in horror as Michael kills Jimmy, one of the survivors from Halloween II. That’s all she wrote because Halloween: The First Death of Laurie Strode #3 was never released. There was also hype for a miniseries called Halloween: The Mark of Thorn, co-written by Jeff Katz and meant to be released in 2009, but that got deep-sixed too.
Just as well, really. Hutchinson had nothing left to say. I’ll give him credit, he was able to build a continuity and use his different stories to fill in the blanks, but First Death of Laurie Strode shows the big flaw in his world. He’s too in love with Michael Myers and cares too little about everyone else.
Laurie comes off as too much of a mopey victim to want to follow. Dr. Loomis is a pathetic loser, constantly railed on for being a failure. Nearly everyone is murdered horribly. And Michael? He’s practically Batman.
And not the good Batman. I mean the hacky, overly-competent Batman who is 100 steps ahead of everyone and never gets punched.
One thing I’ve noticed about reading all the Freddy and Jason comics is that the writers are too into the villains to the point that protagonists aren’t allowed to survive. People survive the movies all the time, but in comics, they have to die violently to tie up these imaginary loose ends. The difference is, Freddy and Jason eat shit all the time, even in these comics where they always win. They’re overpowered, so they’re allowed to get knocked down because it's only temporary.
Hutchinson’s Michael Myers doesn’t get knocked down. Outside of bringing up the explosion at the end of Halloween II, he refuses to ever show anyone getting the drop on Michael ever. The dude is nigh-unkillable. It's okay to let him get hit with a wrench or a car every now and then. He can take it.
At least that initial Halloweencomic from Chaos let Tommy outfight him. Yeah, Michael gets back up and wanders off, but we at least get to see someone fight back. It’s rather nice.
So yeah, the Halloweencomics have their moments, but they usually try to play it safe too much. Sure, the curse stuff from the middle movies fell on its face, but at least they were trying something creative. Mix it up, man.
I will say this. Despite the comics taking place after the events of Halloween: Resurrection, Michael still never, at any point, chooses to seek out a rematch against Busta Rhymes. Hutchinson’s Michael Myers truly is a smart guy. He knows when he’s beat.
“Trick or treat, motherfucker!”
Gavin Jasper should probably start writing next year's History of Evil Dead Comics article right now because that thing’s going to be ten volumes long. Follow him on Twitter!
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
What’s changed between Shirley Jackson’s original novel and Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting Of Hill House TV series?
Warning: contains The Haunting of Hill House spoilers for both the Netflix series and the original novel.
“Way more of a riff than an adaptation,” is how writer-director Mike Flanagan describes his The Haunting Of Hill House Netflix horror. “There’s just enough material in the book to make an amazing movie,” he told Den Of Geek UK, but not enough to adapt into a ten-hour TV series without adding to the story. Not wishing to go up against the acclaimed 1963 film version by attempting to “out-adapt Robert Wise,” Flanagan and co. took a different approach.
“Look at it as a remix,” he told us. “It was more interesting to break down the book and pull out the characters and the themes and individual moments and pieces of prose, even, that had really stuck with me, and try to rearrange it.”
Here's how those pieces were rearranged…
The Haunting Of Hill House 1959
The original novel is about thirty-two-year-old Eleanor Vance, who has spent her life caring for her invalid mother. After her mother dies, Eleanor is forced to move in with her sister and brother-in-law, sleeping in the baby’s room. When Eleanor receives an invitation from Dr. John Montague, a researcher in the supernatural, to join a party planning to spend a summer at Hill House, rented for the occasion because of its ghastly and rumored to be ghostly history, Eleanor sees a chance to escape her life. She steals the car she half-owns with her sister and takes the trip. Dr Montague had selected Eleanor because of a newspaper report on a mysterious rain of stones that once fell on her childhood home, thought to be supernatural in origin.
At Hill House, Eleanor meets the unwelcoming Mr. and Mrs. Dudley, caretaker and housekeeper, who refuse to remain on the property after dark. She discovers the house to be deranged, a disorienting cacophony of architectural design that’s dark, oppressive and whose geography it’s impossible to fathom. There, she meets and befriends Theodora, her neighbour in the research proposal and a woman believed to have psychic tendencies. They meet Dr. Montague and the final guest, Luke Sanderson, who has been included in the party at the behest of the house’s current owner, his aunt. Luke will one day inherit Hill House.
Eleanor tells little lies about her life to the other guests. She describes a house she saw on her journey as her own, and pretends to own a “cup of stars” that she heard discussed by a family of strangers while dining in a restaurant on her way to Hill House. Despite an early fondness for Theo, Eleanor soon begins to feel persecuted by her, and develops a sense of paranoia about the other guests talking behind her back.
Dr. Montague encourages his three guests to make notes on their experiences of Hill House. They discover mysterious drops in temperature, violent knocking on the doors and a dog-like creature running through the ground floor. Writing appears in blood along the wood panelling, asking Eleanor for help. Theodora’s room is ransacked and her clothes covered in blood (though her things are later found to be untouched).
After several such occurrences, Eleanor begins to feel an affinity with the house. Her paranoia and guilt, and her fear of the knocking sound (which she takes to be the sound of her dying mother knocking on the wall for medication Eleanor never brought her) conflate until one night, in what might be described as a manic episode, she runs through the house, scaring the other guests, and climbs up a vertiginous and rickety spiral staircase. Luke brings her back down and the others force her to leave the next day, contacting her sister and discovering the lies she told.
Not wanting to leave, having nowhere to go and feeling that Hill House was where she belonged, Eleanor deliberately accelerates her car into a tree on the way out of the house, presumably killing herself. Dr. Montague’s research is unsuccessful on publication, and he gives up his interest in the supernatural. Hill House though, not sane, remains.
The Haunting Of Hill House 2018
One summer in the 1980s, Hugh and Olivia Crain buy Hill House to flip for profit, moving in with their five children—Steven, Shirley, Theodora and twins Nel and Luke—during the renovation works. Nel complains of seeing a “bent-neck lady” ghost, but is reassured by her father that she’s just dreaming. Luke befriends a strangely dressed little girl who, he says, lives in the woods near the house. The family experience myriad strange occurrences during their time in the house, including strange cold spots (as experienced by the characters in Jackson’s novel), and a mysterious locked door that no key is able to open. The mother, Olivia Crain, becomes affected and disturbed by the house.
Unlike Jackson’s novel, the Netflix show’s chronology jumps around considerably. Each episode moves between the events of the summer at Hill House, and the lives of the grown-up Crain children. In the present, Steven is a successful author having written a bestseller The Haunting Of Hill House, which starts with the same opening paragraph as Shirley Jackson’s novel, including the line “whatever walked there, walked alone.”
A failed historical novelist, Steven’s best-selling memoir about his family’s time at Hill House estranged him from his siblings who saw it as exploitative of their shared experience at the house, an experience that has affected them all in different ways. Luke is a drug addict in and out of rehab, Nel is a depressive, Theo is a child psychologist with a fear of commitment, and Shirley runs a funeral home with her husband.
While Nel (Eleanor), Luke and Theodora all share the same names as characters in Jackson’s novel, they aren't the same characters. (One connection is that modern-day Theo is a lesbian, linking her to her namesake in the book, who, the subtext of the novel strongly suggests was also in a cohabiting relationship with another woman, but that's more or less it). Eldest daughter Shirley is named for Shirley Jackson, while the Crain father Hugh shares his name with Hill House’s original designer in the novel.
Only two characters, stern caretaker and housekeeper Mr and Mrs Dudley, survive intact from the novel to the TV series, though modernised and expanded with a full backstory. Mr. Dudley tells Hugh Crain that his mother was the original housekeeper at the property (perhaps the Mrs. Dudley in the novel?) and that he was born in the cottage at the edge of the estate.
Other nods to Shirley Jackson and the original are dotted around Flanagan’s story. In one scene Theo is reading a copy of Jackson’s famous The Lottery And Other Stories. The novel’s account of Eleanor and her sister experiencing the telekenetic rain of stones as children is borrowed for a monologue by one central character.
The house itself, with its marble statuary and monumental spiral staircase, has been rendered faithfully. Its competing architectural styles and sense of derangement are achieved through dark walls and disorienting design.
There are multiple nods to other parts of the book in the Netflix series, references to Eleanor’s “little cup of stars”, and quotes from Shakespeare (Olivia Crain quotes from Hamlet just as Eleanor Vance repeatedly quotes from Twelfth Night in the novel). There are deaths,
While both tell a horror story about the same not-sane house that is grounded in psychological realism and features many of the same rich details, they're entirely different stories, not least in their respective endings. The novel closes on a note of unfinished tragedy, while Flanagan's complex, emotional series tempers its tragedy with resolution, healing and hope.
The Haunting Of Hill House is out on Netflix now.
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
We talked to Bullet Catcher writer Joaquin Lowe about the supernatural western about to launch on Serial Box.
A girl without a future. A stranger hiding his past. And the remarkable, supernatural ability to turn bullets away from their targets—walking through a gunfight unscathed. In Joaquin Lowe’s Bullet Catcher, launching as a serial from Serial Box on October 18, elements of coming of age play against a mythological background that questions whether anything is really as simple as good and evil.
And the gun fu? There’s some serious fantasy martial arts going on here as well! Taking the best elements of weird westerns, throwing in some of the mentor-trainee relationship in Old Man Logan, and adding to that some Avatar: The Last Airbender-like stylized combat, Lowe throws readers into the story of Imma, a young woman raised on the fairy tales that pitched the good bullet catchers against the evil gunslingers.
In the stories, the bullet catchers are gone, killed off by the gunslingers. But when a real bullet catcher comes to her town, where Imma is working in a nowhere job that will never take her anywhere, she decides to follow him, taking control of her own destiny.
We chatted with Lowe about the story, and about its transformation into a serial. Like Serial Box’s originals, Bullet Catcher is releasing on a weekly schedule in both prose and audio, with each episode priced at 99 cents. But unlike most Serial Box serials, Lowe’s project didn’t start in a team writers’ room.
In 2016, Bullet Catcher was originally released as a novel in the UK, and it was selected as one of the Telegraph’s best YA novels of the year. “I knew that Serial Box had a format that would require me not only to overhaul the structure of the original chapters, but also to do extensive rewrites and new writing for the new edition,” Lowe explained.
Going back to the original novel and translating it into a new format gave him a chance to reexamine the work, to fix things that he hadn’t liked the first time around. He worked with Serial Box editor Lydia Shamah (also a producer on Silverwood: The Door), who brought some new ideas to the project. “It was such a fantastic experience getting to work with her and I think the best parts of the book are the parts that came out of our collaboration,” Lowe said.
In both its incarnations, as the story begins, Imma is alone in the world with the certain knowledge that her parents are dead, and that the brother who promised to come back for her is dead as well. “In many ways, the story is a classic Hero’s Journey,” Lowe said, comparing her at the start of her quest to Luke Skywalker—or, more appropriately, to Rey, who hadn’t come to the screen yet when Bullet Catcher was first written. “By being orphaned, Imma has been propelled into a world she doesn’t think she’s prepared for, but through bravery, smarts, and fool-heartedness gains wisdom, which she must then bring back to the world.”
Some of that wisdom is hard earned. Imma’s brother, before he left, told her stories of the legendary bullet catchers and gun slingers, giving the world a duality of good and evil. “When I set off to write the story I wanted it to have an anti-gun sub-theme,” Lowe explained about the origins of the mythology.
"But, of course, things aren’t ever as simple as ‘good’ vs. ‘evil.’ What we find as the story progresses is that the lines aren’t drawn between gunslingers and bullet catchers, but between individuals, and by the actions of individuals. And even then, many of these characters aren’t ‘good’ or ‘evil,’ but maybe, misguided, or naïve, or in pain, or in love!"
Imma in particularly learns that things she’d always accepted as true turn out vastly different than she expected, including her understanding of the brother she idolizes. That doesn’t mean the anti-gun theme has vanished, because it’s an issue that’s extremely important to Lowe, but “it’s messy, because the relationships in the book are messy.”
The mythology of the gunslingers and the bullet catchers draws on samurai tales—as well as stories of the Jedi, and Avatar: The Last Airbender.
“I was fascinated with the idea of there once being a very large sect of people that is suddenly reduced to a single person, and what that would do to that person and their beliefs,” Lowe said, likening the bullet catcher Imma apprentices to Avatar’s Aang. The story is also inspired by the Japanese film series and comic Lone Wolf and Cub, in which an aged ronin travels through the countryside, bringing his infant son with him. Of course, Imma has an agency that the child in Lone Wolf and Cub, an infant, never develops.
“What I liked is that the younger partner essentially represented the old man’s heart,” Lowe describes. “Without him, he’d have no ties and would be heartless, he’d act heartlessly. That’s where the Bullet Catcher is before Imma comes into his life.”
While Lowe laughs at the idea that an “inside-kid” like him might also be a martial artist, he does admit that he’d rather be a bullet catcher than a gunslinger. The best and most challenging part of a project like this, for Lowe, is the world building.
“It’s so much fun... but it’s also extremely time intensive,” he said. “You have to think about so many things that don’t even have a presence in the book, because those things impact the things that do make it in. The little inconsistencies are really hard to find when you’re building from the ground up because of how easy it is to get lazy in your thinking.”
Luckily, Lowe had a fantastic team to work with: he praised Lydia and the amazing copyediting team for keeping all his internal details consistent. “It adds up to a big difference, because when the world building has been done well readers stop questioning it and let themselves get taken away by the story.”
To experience the world of the bullet catchers first hand, and to follow Imma’s hero’s journey, you can buy the full season or subscribe at Serial Box.
Alana Joli Abbott writes about books for Den of Geek. Read more of her work here.
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
The Rift Uprising series offsets its somewhat tired love triangle with enough action-y sci-fi thrills to make this an enjoyable ride.
Warning: This Rift Uprising series review contains spoilers for the series.
Genetically-enhanced teenaged super soldiers, forbidden love, and a conspiracy spanning multiple worlds form the framework of Amy S. Foster's Rift Uprising series. The latest in the series, Rift Coda has just been published, so maybe you'd like to know what you're getting into before taking the plunge.
Keep in mind: this will be spoilery (though I'll try to avoid the worst so you can still enjoy some revelations). The first book will be heavily spoiled since I can't discuss the other two without mentioning those plot developments.
In Rift Uprising, we are introduced to Ryn Whittaker and her squad of teenage soldiers called Citadels. They are part of ARC, a program that has secretly made genetically enhanced children to be super fast and strong in order to protect the world from the many potentially dangerous Immigrants who unwittingly come to our Earth through a rift in space-time.
These Citadels are given their incredible power thanks to the technology of the Roones, a species who came through the rift and warn the humans that they need special foot soldiers to protect the Earth from dangerous beings.
A major point of tension within this fictional world is the Blood Lust, a compulsory violent reaction the Citadels experience whenever they feel anything resembling love or lust. It's a failsafe built into them to supposedly keep them on mission at all times, but what it does is make a lot of teenagers really pissed off about what they can't do. They can't share an intimate touch or so much as a hug without nearly ripping someone's head off. It's a really inhumane way to keep the Citadels in line, and they soldiers actively fight against these brainwashed instincts throughout the series.
By the end of Rift Uprising, we find that the Roones are not the kindly helpers they appear to be. Creating the Citadels was something they had planned all along, and they have orchestrated an elaborate web of lies to keep their soldiers in line, fighting a battle where enemy lines are sometimes hard to dilineate.
It is here that Ryn meets Ezra, a handsome guy who comes through the rift. Ryn promises him she will make sure he's okay after he's escorted to where Immigrants are held. It's that promise that lands Ryn solidly on the path to discover all of what ARC and the Roones have hidden from her and her fellows, and into a war that spans the Multiverse.
Of course, she falls in love with Ezra.
In this first book, we get to see how much of a trained badass Ryn really is, as she and her team make quick work of the more violent visitors to our world. The action scenes are well written and the conversational tone that Ryn uses throughout her adventures never let us forget that she could have been a normal teenager had ARC never taken her for their program.
Our eyes are also opened to the horrors of this secret battle they have been fighting. Ryn finds out where the Immigrants go and how ARC has been subtly controlling the Citadels to follow protocol. The Immigrants that aren't killed are placed in The Villages, a simulated combination of towns that is really just a fancy prison. They can't return home and are forced to speak English and humanize. There's a lot to unpack there. Suffice to say it's good for scifi and a great mirror to hold up when society deems something “other” as bad.
There are layers here – how far is Ryn willing to go to uncover the truth? Who is the real enemy and what have they been planning? Ryn's visit to the Villages opens her eyes and expands her heart.
Ryn and fellow Citadel Levi travel the Multiverse, hopping from alternate Earth to alternate Earth, gaining intel and learning more about the scope of the Roone's betrayal. Citadels of all different species exist on multiple Earths. Some are willing to join in the fight.
In Ryn's travels, we see all different types of peoples, from the winged Faida to the impish Daithi and the bear-like Orsalines. Most of the character designs aren't the most original we've seen. Most seem to be a mashup of fantasy tropes. We even saw vampires and a unicorn in the previous book. For the most part, the series keeps to a sci-fi angle, though fantasy influences can be seen throughout.
A favorite world is that of the SenMachs. These robot people are a relic of a world that has seen normal flesh-and-blood humans go extinct. The SenMachs supply Ryn with tools that will make the journey easier. It's a bit of a literal deus ex machina situation. The tech that Ryn aquires is a little too good, but I let it go for coolness points.
Unfortunately, this is the book where we're introduced to a love triangle. Ryn is torn between deprogramming Levi from his Blood Lust (so they can travel together without him violently attacking her) and Ezra, who has become a jealous boyfriend. The inclusion of the love triangle is my biggest complaint about the series. Levi and Ryn have no chemistry and Levi is a bit of a jerk for being annoyed at Ryn having a boyfriend. I'm tired of this trope and would like to see it reframed in a fresh light.
Rift Coda is the “assemble the troops” book until it leads to the final climactic fight for power. Ryn has allied with the Faida, and they need some other species on the same page in order to fight the insurmountable armies the Roones control. It's a numbers game, and the math is not in their favor.
Ryn also has to deal with matters of the heart as – surprise, surprise – it's a big angsty struggle between her potential feelings for Levi and her feelings for Ezra. Will they? Won't they? Don't you guys have a Multiverse spanning war to fight? Well who cares about that because we're going to waste way too much time on Ryn's love life, a romantic life I might add she's only had for a short time.
What this book does well is show the reality and horror of war. Ryn gets enough experience from her travels and all the secrets she's uncovered about ARC and the Roones to realize they have to be stopped from doing this again. There are some brutal moments, both what happens to the good guys and what Ryn does with her own hands. It's bloody and visceral and it makes you sit upright as you read each word in anticipation. Our protagonists are not infallible. There will be casualties and hard choices.
“No child wakes up and imagines themselves to be anything other than the hero of his or her own story,” Ryn narrates as she spies some of the human cost of the final battle. She's right.
Oh and all that “will they, won't they” love triangle nonsense is resolved in a lackluster way, in my humble opinion. One of the characters in question is written off about thirty pages from the end with not so much as a how-do-you-do. I actually had to turn back the pages after finishing the book to figure out where he disappeared.
The Rift Uprising series is chock full of super-soldier battles and otherworldly creatures, but keeps itself grounded with enough human drama and pop culture references to land on The CW. Although I had some problems with the plot here and there, namely the tired love triangle, these books kept up a good pace and delivered on enough change of scenery and bone-jarring hits to keep you going for the action alone.
Ryn is a protagonist we can root for. She feels like a real person thrust between a rock and a hard place. The Roones are diabolical and you really want to see the Citadels enact their brand of justice on them. There are moments of brilliance, and there are moments where you will likely get frustrated with our character's choices. The Rift Uprisingis fun, but it's not treading new ground.
For action-y sci-fi thrills you might want to hitch your wagon to this rift and just enjoy the ride.
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OK, Venom fans, break out your Green Jelly tapes, because it's time to learn all about Carnage, Spider-Man's evil double's evil double.
All right, so, a few months ago, when Deadpool 2came out, we did an article called Deadpool 2: Who is Juggernaut? People were pretty annoyed because Juggernaut’s role in that movie as a major antagonist wasn’t advertised and they cried spoiler. And that’s a fair call. Apologies.
That said, if you think it’s a spoiler that Carnage is in any way alluded to in Venom, I don’t know what to tell you. It’s Carnage. Of COURSE he’s going to be at least referenced in a Venom movie. The movie just used Carlton Drake and Riot. Venom doesn’t exactly have a Batman-level rogues gallery to play with and only one of his bad guys is important enough to get a red SNES cartridge.
So yeah, Carnage. He’s teased at the end of Venom. Read more on that in this look at the Venom post-credit sequences.
The only real surprise is that it’s taken this long for Carnage to be in a movie. With so many comic book movies out there, we’re running out of iconic villains who haven’t been featured. We’re down to Darkseid, Kang, and...I don’t know, Arcade?
Much like in the movies, Carnage’s first appearance in the comics was a quick teaser. While Spider-Man was busy dealing with Cardiac in Amazing Spider-Man #360 (by Davie Michelinie and Chris Marrinan), we got to see a one-page scene of a man named Gunny Stein returning home, only to be smothered by an attacker who admitted to killing him merely because he was looking through the phone book and found a suitably stupid name.
While he would appear in full in the following issue (Mark Bagley on art), the wheels towards Carnage’s creation came far earlier. When trying to kill Spider-Man, Venom ran afoul of Styx and Stone, a villain duo only really remembered for this very story. Styx, who has a death touch, touched the Venom symbiote and seemingly killed it. Eddie Brock was thrown in a regular prison and I would make a Bronsonjoke if I had actually gotten around to seeing that movie.
Venom returned to mess with Spider-Man again, only this time on an abandoned island. Spider-Man pretended to die in an explosion and Venom was all, “Sweet! Our to-do list is done! Let’s just squat on this island, where there are no TVs or newspapers to let us know that Spider-Man’s alive!”
That worked out great for everyone, but then the Carnage storyline kicked in and after a single fight against the new villain, Spider-Man decided that he neededVenom to fight with him. I enjoy a good hero/villain vs. bigger villain story as much as the next guy, but the intent to make it a Venom team-up was laughably blatant. How blatant?
Knowing that Venom was going to go into a violent frenzy, Spider-Man confronted him with Human Torch as backup. After all, fire is one of Venom’s weaknesses. Makes sense. Only, like, WHY DO YOU NOT JUST CUT OUT THE MIDDLE MAN AND JUST BRING HUMAN TORCH WITH YOU TO FIGHT CARNAGE? Hell, the dude has three friends who would be extremely helpful in catching the loud and obnoxious serial killer. He can’t be THAT hard to find.
There’s a quick line in the end about how bringing them in would make things more dangerous, but I have trouble accepting that truth when their replacement is an irrational mass murderer who will kill Spider-Man the first chance he gets.
But anyway, Spider-Man and Venom teamed up against Carnage a few times, got beat up despite the odds, then beat him by exploiting his sonics weakness. Then Spider-Man and Venom went back to fighting. A solid enough story, but not really all that memorable.
No, Carnage’s more memorable story would come a year later with Maximum Carnage. Actually, even that story wasn't all that memorable. I read it several times and I can barely give you the gist of what happened. Just that Carnage got himself his own personal Harley Quinn in Shriek, then created a short-lived supervillain team alongside Doppelganger, Demogoblin, and Carrion. Spider-Man and Venom teamed up again, only this time with a bunch of Marvel randos on their side like Morbius, Iron Fist, and Night Watch.
Stuff happened, Captain America being there was treated like a huge deal, and...man, whatever. All I know is that there was a seriously sweet panel where Venom was tearing off Carnage’s eyes.
The real reason anyone remembered the storyline was because of LJN’s video game Maximum Carnage for SNES and Genesis. Considered “good for an LJN game,” it allowed you to play as Spider-Man or Venom as you beat up extremely 90s street thugs and Carnage’s crew over and over again. Even being the final boss, you end up fighting Carnage a handful of times throughout.
The game had a red cartridge and featured a soundtrack by Green Jelly (including their song “Carnage Rules”), so it had that going for it.
There was a sequel (technically a prequel) called Separation Anxiety, which was based on Venom: Lethal Protector. Since the arc didn’t have any major end boss threats, they just threw in Carnage as the final challenge because what the hell. They had the assets. Even the ending was just a picture of Carnage with zero epilogue. Again, Carnage had absolutely nothing to do with the story.
And so, Carnage continued to make comic appearances throughout the 90s. Inspired by the Maximum Carnage game, there was a silly Venom comic called Carnage Unleashedwhere Venom and Carnage fought inside the internet and it was somehow broadcast on the big screen in Times Square. Planet of the Symbioteshad Carnage become a giant after devouring and absorbing an untold amount of invading symbiotes. There was even a Spider-Man/Batman crossover where Carnage teamed up with Joker and then got punked out and made fun of for being a one-dimensional Joker knockoff.
Oh, and Batman beat him down with just his fists.
Speaking of DC crossovers, when they did the Amalgam Comics gimmick, Carnage was merged with Bizarro to become Bizarnage. The albino symbiote wanted to kill and replace Spider-Boy. Hey, at least he got representation. Nobody merged with Venom during that entire event.
Carnage even got a couple animated appearances during this time. He showed up on Spider-Man: The Animated Seriesas a henchman of Dormammu where he wasn’t allowed to do anything remotely serial killer-y. He was fine, all things considered, but then things got real stupid once the show spun off into Spider-Man Unlimited.
Instead of that, I’ll talk about his appearance in the Spider-Manvideo game for the PlayStation, Nintendo 64, and Dreamcast. In the plot, Carnage and Doctor Octopus teamed up in hopes of taking over the world with a symbiote army. This led to the pants-shittingly terrifying final level where Spider-Man is chased out of a huge tower by Monster Ock – the Carnage symbiote on Ock’s body. He wasn’t really even a boss because even if you were wearing the Captain Universe costume that made you invincible, you couldn’t damage Monster Ock and if he caught up to you, you’d instantly die. You just had to swing away until you were saved by a cutscene.
The 90s ended and so began the era of being embarrassed by things that happened in the 90s. While we did get a Venom vs. Carnage miniseries that mainly acted as a launch pad for the Carnage symbiote’s spawn Toxin (it didn’t take), Carnage was soon taken off the board. In the pages of New Avengers, Brian Michael Bendis had the Sentry show off how OP he was by grabbing Carnage, slamming him through several prison ceilings, flying him into space, and tearing him in half.
Mac Gargan Venom was a thing around that time anyway, so we already had a 100% evil symbiote guy creeping around.
After 5-6 years, Carnage finally came back in a miniseries simply called Carnageby Zeb Wells and Clayton Crane. It was originally going to be called Astonishing Spider-Man and Iron Man, but marketing realized that putting Carnage front and center would probably sell better. It revealed that Carnage survived the Sentry’s stunt and Cletus was kept alive by a corrupt prosthetics developer who gave him metal legs in exchange for using his symbiote to enhance his prosthetics technology.
It all went horribly wrong and created another Carnage offspring in Scorn. She also did not take.
There was a sequel called Carnage USA by the same creative team and I absolutely recommend it. Seemingly building up to some symbiote-related event comic that never came to be (Rick Remender’s Venomwas also guilty of this), the comic had to do with Carnage expanding to the point that he was able to take over an entire town in Colorado, along with Captain America, Wolverine, Thing, and Hawkeye.
This led to a lot of cool shit, including a Venom gorilla being chased by a Carnage-controlled stampede of escaped zoo animals, Venom’s Life Foundation children being used as military weapons, and a legless fight between Flash Thompson and Cletus Kasady. Oh, and the hilarious revelation that Hawkeye fucking HATES Ben Grimm and thinks all of his shtick is old and tired.
Starting with the ho-hum yet cleverly named Minimum Carnage, Carnage started showing up in more stories with different creative teams forgetting that he was supposed to be missing his bottom half. He ended up in a really fun miniseries called Deadpool vs. Carnage where Deadpool was able to defeat Carnage in a way Spider-Man and Venom could not by shattering his confidence and breaking his spirit.
This led to Carnage’s extremely fun turn in Axis, otherwise known as that event Marvel did where the good guys became bad guys and vice versa. Through magic mixed with psychic suggestion, Carnage was briefly driven to become a hero, but he didn’t exactly have a full grasp on what that meant. Him trying to punch a woman in the face just hard enough to knock her out but not crack her head, followed by boasting about a job well done was entertaining as hell.
Carnage then had a short-lived ongoing written by Gerry Conway with a story about a cult worshipping Carnage because he’d unleash some kind of Lovecraftian god or whatnot. All the while, a task force was put together to stop him. This was partially an exercise in removing the Toxin and Scorn symbiotes while setting up Eddie Brock’s return to being Venom.
Over the years, the Carnage symbiote has possessed many hosts other than Cletus. There was Ben Reilly, Silver Surfer, an alternate universe Spider-Man, the Wizard, and so on. Its most high-profile instance was Norman Osborn, making him the final end boss of Dan Slott’s very lengthy run on Amazing Spider-Man. As the Red Goblin, Osborn was powerful enough that Spider-Man reluctantly took up Eddie Brock’s offer to borrow the Venom symbiote.
As for Cletus, he’s back floating in space in pieces thanks to the events of Venomized. Long story.
Even though Carnage only made a quick film appearance just recently, he’s reached one height that not even the likes of Thanos have ever hit: Carnage was on Broadway. Back in 2011, the butt of jokes everywhere was Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, known for its immense budget, laundry list of performer injuries, and iffy take on the source material. So iffy that there are two versions of the show that existed. There’s Julie Taymor’s fever dream original and the more coherent second attempt.
I was lucky enough to see the former in all of its ridiculous glory.
Carnage appeared as a member of the Green Goblin’s Sinister Six alongside Kraven the Hunter, the Lizard, Electro, Swarm, and original character Swiss Miss. Yes, that’s seven characters. Just let it go. Carnage ended up being the best looking of the villains, since most others came off as looking like goofy sports mascots. He didn’t really do anything, but he was immortalized in this cringeworthy David Letterman performance.
...did Osborn suggest Kraven is into bestiality?
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Hey, remember that time Dracula fought the Hulk? Or the X-Men? Or Spider-Man? No? Well, you're in luck, because we do!
Dracula. The very name conjures images of sexuality, corruption, and decadence. From the original novel written by Bram Stoker in 1897 to the moment Bela Lugosi donned the famed opera cloak in 1931, the character of Dracula has been an iconic horror staple.
In fact, Dracula has been the subject of 217 films, second only to the number of films starring Sherlock Holmes. But films, novels, and television aren't the only genres that have contained Dracula’s bloodlust. Comic books have been a compelling source for new Dracula material. Marvel Comics in particular have been a happy hunting ground for the Lord of the Vampires.
After the easing of Comic Code restrictions in the early seventies, Stan Lee and Marvel were eager to explore classic monsters in the pages of their books. When the code loosened its grip, Lee and company were able to resurrect the four color boogiemen that lay forgotten for so long. In 1972, writer Gerry Conway and artist Gene Colan introduced Tomb of Dracula and a legend was born. Now there was a version of Dracula that borrowed from Stoker and Lugosi stalking the same fictional universe as Spider-Man and the Avengers.
Soon, writer Marv Wolfman would take over the writing chores on Tomb of Dracula and create one of the greatest continuing horror sagas in comic book history. Within the pages of Tomb of Dracula, Wolfman introduced the vampiric detective Hannibal King, Lilith (Dracula’s Daughter), and most importantly, Blade, the Vampire Hunter, who later helped kick off the current superhero movie boom.
Dracula existed within the Marvel Universe, but other than rare occasions not many Marvel heroes appeared in Dracula’s book, giving the title a sense of isolation from the rest of the Marvel Universe. That is not to say that Dracula has not stalked the titles of the mainstream Marvel heroes. Oh no, dear reader, the Prince of Darkness has cast his shadow on many Marvel heroes, making him one of the greatest, if often overlooked villains in Marvel history. Here is a look at times Dracula, the greatest monster of them all, has stalked the Marvel Universe.
Dracula Meets Spider-Man
Giant Sized Spider-Man #1 (1974)
In this tale, Aunt May is suffering from a rare blood disease because she’s Aunt May. Spidey learns that the only man that has the cure is an eccentric doctor that refuses to travel by plane. Spider-Man learns from Reed Richards that the scientist is traveling by ship, so Spidey gets his webbed ass to the ship to find the doctor.
Also on board the ship are members of the Maggia who want the formula, and of course, Dracula himself who is also after it. Hilarity ensues as Dracula dispatches the crooks one by one, and throws the Maggia leader overboard.
The book is a send up of the classic death at sea sequence of Stoker’s Dracula, as Dracula feeds off the Maggia onboard. While never featuring a direct confrontation between hero and vampire, this issue served as a warning...Dracula is out there.
Allied with the Avengers (1973)
Ironically, one of the first times Dracula was drawn into the events of the Marvel Universe, he did so to defend humanity! In the Avengers/Defenders war, often considered to be the first true crossover in comics history, the Dread Dormammu opened a dimensional gateway to Earth. The Avengers and Defenders were stuck in Dormammu’s dimension so could not defend the Earth from an incursion by the savage Mindless Ones, headless beings that thrive on destruction. A group of super-powered champions on Earth, not knowing where the Mindless Ones were pouring on from, took up arms to protect their home.
One of these beings was none other than Dracula, who along with such heroes as Power Man, the Fantastic Four, and Ka-Zar, fought back against the Mindless Ones. But don’t think Dracula was acting magnanimously true believers; imagine if a horde of beasts was smashing your favorite eatery. That’s what Earth is to Dracula, a theme restaurant with an all you can eat buffet of jugulars.
Yes, Dracula fought the Mindless Ones, but in doing so he made sure his food supply remained strong and proved to Marvel readers just how badass he was by taking on the Mindless Ones...creatures capable of going toe to toe with the Hulk!
The Creation of Baron Blood (1976)
One of Captain America’s most enduring foes was created by none other than Dracula. What’s more evil than a Nazi vampire? Pretty much nothing, which makes Baron Blood one of the most vile creatures in the Marvel Universe. In the dark days of World War II, John Farnsworth was an English aristocrat obsessed with vampire lore. When he travels to Transylvania, he encounters Dracula, who transforms Farnsworth into the living dead.
Dracula sends blood to England to punish the country for the actions of Dracula’s nemesis Jonathon Harker. As Baron Blood, Farnsworth fought the Invaders, Captain America, and even his own brother who adopted the heroic persona of the first Union Jack.
Blood’s days of fighting for the Axis were cut short when the Sub-Mariner staked the bejesus out of him. Blood was resurrected in the modern day by a minion of Dracula and fought a legendary battle with his old foe, Captain America. Now, a Nazi vampire is pretty badass, but a Nazi vampire created by Dracula himself? That’s some legendary bloodsucker right there!
Dracula vs. Doctor Strange (1976)
Tomb of Dracula #44
The Lord of Darkness fed off Doctor Strange (he probably tasted like sage, cinnamon, and quickly forgotten dreams), in the pages of Tomb of Dracula #44. In Strange’s own book, Dracula locks the Sorcerer Supreme in a dungeon so he can watch the embraced Doctor arise as a vampire. That’s quite a sense of irony Marvel’s Dracula possesses, huh?
Little did Dracula know that Strange astral projected out of his body before Dracula could finish the fateful bite. Strange uses his astral form to mess with Dracula who furiously arrives at the dungeon after days of being mocked and prodded by the wizard.
An awesome fight ensues between a vampiric Doctor Strange and Dracula which Strange wins by conjuring a blazing crucifix. The edge in the battle went to Strange who seemed to be one step ahead of Dracula, but let us not forget that during their first encounter Dracula easily dispatched Strange with one bite. Dracula’s mistake was letting Strange have time to plot, but the first struggle would foreshadow a climatic future encounter between the magician and vampire.
Dracula vs. Howard the Duck? (1980)
Howard the Duck Magazine #5
Not all Dracula appearances in the Marvel Universe are legendary but that doesn’t make them any less cool. The following is a treatise on why comics are awesome.
While visiting Cleveland, Dracula spots Howard the Duck. Thinking Howard to be a midget in a duck suit, the Lord of the Undead bites Howard (did I just type that?) but is disgusted by the non-human blood flowing in Howard’s veins. However, Howard is transformed into Drakula (not Duckula or Quakula?) and preys on other ducks.
Howard is restored to his normal self and is actually able to stake Dracula before the vampire can feed off Howard’s hottie girlfriend, Beverly Switzer.
Dracula Joins The Defenders (1981)
Ah, the Defenders. Long before they were edgy TV stars, they were the parking place for awesomely odd Bronze Age characters.
In one of the non-team’s most memorable storylines, the Defenders were being beleaguered by the Six Fingered Hand. With newer members Hellcat, Gargoyle, and Son of Satan in tow, the Defenders arrive back to Doctor Strange’s mansion only to be attacked by a possessed Dracula. It seems the Six Fingered Hand had gained control over all vampires.
Proving his awesomeness, the Son of Satan breaks the Hand’s control of Dracula, and agrees to help the Vampire Lord take back Transylvania from the Hand. The team with powerhouses like Strange and the Asgardian Valkyrie are just window dressing as the Son of Satan kicks the Hands' collective butts, destroys a metric ton of vampires by summoning sunlight, and saves Dracula’s undead bacon.
This was the first time Marvel used Dracula as an anti-hero in a super-hero title, an honorable villain who was as comfortable in the role of defender of his people as he was bloodsucking fiend. It was a brief union, but among his many roles in the Marvel Universe, Dracula will always be recognized as a Defender.
Dracula vs. The X-Men (1982)
Uncanny X-Men #159
Monster mash-ups are a staple of the genre. While not traditional monsters at all, mutants meeting Dracula have the same cache as Dracula versus Frankenstein or the Wolfman, it’s just a match made, erm...not in heaven.
Structured like a classic horror film, Uncanny X-Men #159 sees Storm the victim in a very odd mugging. When someone overpowered the weather goddess and cut her throat, Storm suddenly finds herself wanting to die, inviting a stranger through her window at night, drawing back from Kitty Pryde’s Star of David, and shunning sunlight. You don’t have to be Bram Stoker to see where this is going and an epic confrontation between vampire and mutant takes place. The X-Men take out Dracula’s monstrous rat and canine minions, but fall before Dracula, all except Nightcrawler who has the faith to drive the vampire off with a makeshift cross.
When Storm arrives, Dracula finds that he cannot control the primal Storm, who stands tall and proud. In an awesome moment, Dracula tells Storm it was her inner strength that compelled him and after a standoff, Dracula retreats. This was Claremont at his finest, giving each X-Man a moment to shine and writing a classic and pretty damn scary Dracula in the process. The issue created an indelible bond between the X-Men and Dracula, one that stands till this day.
In the 1982 Uncanny X-Men Annual #6, the battle between the X-Men and Dracula continues as Kitty Pryde is possessed by Dracula’s daughter and one of his most enduring foes, Lilith. It was another compelling confrontation that deepens the threat Dracula had on mutantkind.
Dracula vs. Thor (1983)
Not satisfied with feeding off ducks, mutants, and wizards, Dracula sets his sights on embracing Lady Sif. In Thor #332, Dracula succeeds in feeding and turning Sif. In issue 333, Thor must face a Dracula empowered by god blood (comics = awesome), and an embraced Sif.
This story was significant in showing what a powerhouse Dracula was and established the idea that if Dracula fed off a non-human being, he would be fueled by their powerful blood. Thor managed to free Sif, but not before fans realized that Dracula was a threat to everyone, god, mutant, or human.
The Death of a Legend (1983)
Doctor Strange #59-62
In Doctor Strange #59-62, Strange and a group of companions including Dracula hunters Blade and the vampiric detective Hannibal King close all the plot threads left over from Tomb of Dracula and close the door on Marvel’s vampires for a quite a while. Aided by Avengers Captain Marvel (then Monica Rambeau) and the Scarlet Witch, Strange and company race to secure the Darkhold, a book which contains the Montessi Formula, a spell that will rid the Earth of Dracula and the curse of vampirism. Keep in mind that the Darkhold is an ancient magical book that created vampires in the first place.
These issues are the type of storytelling that made Stern a legend, taking elements from Dracula’s appearance in X-Men (the first mention of the Formula) and Thor (whom Dracula is reluctant in facing when he sees the other Avengers by Strange’s side). By the end of the story, Strange does recite the formula and Dracula is finally destroyed.
Like all good vampires, Dracula would eventually return, but the storyline has an epic sense of finality to it. After years of being plagued by Dracula, the Marvel heroes fight back destroying all vampires. For now…
Dracula vs. The Fantastic Four (2000-2001)
Before the Fantastic Four: The Storms
Dracula’s shadow is cast far and wide across the history of the Marvel Universe. Before they were legends, Sue Storm and Johnny Storm find a mysterious amulet. The young siblings are attacked by zombies seeking the amulet for its power, zombies controlled by none other than Dracula, who lays inert, staked and comatose, using his mind to control the zombies so they may deliver the amulet to the vampire.
The Storms, before they were Fantastic, must stop the zombies from taking the amulet to Transylvania to resurrect their puppet master. Even immobile, Dracula proves to be one of the most evil and capable beings in the Marvel Universe.
X-Men: Apocalypse vs. Dracula (2006)
The cool thing about this series is that it gave added weight to the idea that Dracula has had an impact on the history of the Marvel universe and that his ties to the world of mutants did not begin the day he tried to embrace Storm. Dracula begins embracing members of Apocalypse’s cult which wakes the legendary mutant to defend his followers. The book ties the history of the Van Helsing family into the war between mutant despot and vampire lord.
Dracula on the Moon (2009)
Captain Britain and MI:13 #10
The so-called end of vampires arc in Doctor Strange was a large scale storyline bringing in many mainstream Marvel mainstays, but it had nothing on the grand tapestry of cool that was the Dracula arc in the late, lamented Captain Britain and MI:13 title. So, Dracula gathers a sect of vampires on the moon to set up a front for his attack on Earth. Just typing that sentence was awesome. Dracula forms a non-aggression pact with Dr. Doom and only the magic of MI:13 led by Captain Britain and Pete Wisdom has a hope of stopping Dracula.
During the course of the arc, fans find out how brilliant Pete Wisdom is, that Dracula still holds a grudge against Muslims stemming back from his Vlad the Impaler days, that seeing Black Knight duel Dracula is pretty much better than anything else in the world, and that the legendary sword Excalibur wielded by a Muslim woman is more effective against Dracula than any crucifix.
Seriously, stop reading this and track down this storyline, we’ll wait.
Hulk vs. Dracula
Part of the Fear Itself mega-event, this battle between two legendary monsters took a form fans did not expect. During the course of Fear Itself, the Hulk was transformed into Nul, the Breaker of Worlds. When Thor knocked Nul into the Carpathian Mountains, the Hulk became a threat to Dracula’s sovereignty. Once again taking up the mantle of reluctant defender, Dracula most take on Nul with a group of vampires, the Forgotten at his side. The event book was another step into the modern evolution of Dracula and was the first time he appeared alongside the Hulk.
An X feud renewed (2011)
X-Men: Curse of the Mutants
Dracula’s return to the X Universe also served as the introduction of the modern interpretation of the Lord of the Undead. Gone is his rocking ‘stache and suave opera cape, arriving is the white hair and Coppola-esque armor. The story is pretty cool, if needlessly complex at times, and introduces Dracula’s son, Xarus. Xarus goes to war with dear old dad with the X-Men and a group of Atlanteans caught in the middle. The whole thing ends with a fierce reminder, family or not, do not mess with Dracula.
The new look for Dracula would stay consistent across all Marvel media as it was this look that appeared in an episode of Avengers Assemble on Disney XD. The story arc also brings vampirism closer to the X-Men as never before as Jubilee, once the most innocent of the X-Men, is transformed into a vampire. What Claremont and company began in the early '80s continues today as Dracula’s influence on the X-Men looms like a constant shadow over the heroes!
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
Who is The Flash Season 5 villain? We dig in to the DC Comics history of the Cicada, played by Chris Klein.
This article contains The Flash spoilers.
His arrival has been teased since the first bit of footage for The Flash Season 5 arrived, but the Cicada (played by Chris Klein) has remained a mystery. Even The Flash season 5 premiere, the excellent "Nora," waited until quite literally the last minute of the episode to introduce him. And when they did, it was to dispatch that episode's disposable villain, Gridlock, who won't be missed.
But even that minute or so of footage reveals a fair amount about what to expect from how The Flash season 5 will handle Cicada. He's already fairly different from the comic character he's based on, and like Savitar and The Thinker, he continues the show's tradition of elevating otherwise obscure villains to the prestige role of season big bad. It makes some sense. After all, once you've done Thawne and Zoom, and since Captain Cold had a brilliant arc of his own to handle (across multiple shows, no less!), most Flash villains (as great as they are) aren't quite up to the challenge of sustaining an entire season of their own. A character like Cicada is practically a blank slate, as we saw from his longer introduction in "Blocked."
For starters, he even looks pretty different from the character from the comics. See for yourself...
A fondness for overcoats aside, you'd be hard pressed to even identify these as the same character if you saw them next to each other. Unless, of course, the TV Cicada is hiding a crazy evil Santa beard underneath that Sub-Zero mask. Anyway, for characters like this, looks are the least important thing. Just consider how much cooler Savitar looked than his comic book counterpart!
Cicada first appeared in The Flash #170 (2001) by Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins (it's collected in The Flash by Geoff Johns: Book One). That story kicked of "Blood Will Run" and it was actually a Wally West tale. This was early in Johns' tenure as writer on The Flash, long before he brought Barry Allen back to life. It was also an early appearance of Officer Fred Chyre, who you may remember was played by Al Sapienza in the first episode of this series...where he was also killed off. Damn shame, as Chyre was a fun character. Anyway...
A rash of killings was taking place in Keystone City, and the common thread among the victims was that they had all been rescued by Flash at some point. The victims were being killed by a cult, accumulating their life-force via special lightning bolt shaped knives (we saw this at the end of "Nora" as well). Cicada (real name: David Hersch) was over 100 years old, having been struck by lightning shortly after the death of his wife (hint: she didn't die of natural causes). That lightning bolt gave him the ability to absorb life force and become essentially immortal.
Thanks to the lightning bolt connection, Cicada's cult believed that Flash had been saving people specifically to help them accomplish their goal, which was not only to extend Cicada's life, but also to bring his wife back from the dead. If we get a creepy, half-preserved wife mummy this season that Chris Klein is weeping over, I'm going to be pretty darn pleased. Anyway, as you can probably guess, Wally didn't take kindly to the cult's thinking (particularly when it was time to have his own life force drained), and Cicada was put away, and has more or less languished in obscurity ever since.
What was interesting about this story was how it was so specifically tailored to Wally at the time. This wasn't just a villain for Wally to stop, it was a villain that made Wally confront some of his own indiscretions. Specifically, Wally had spent a chunk of his early career as Flash as something of a womanizer, and one of the Cicada's victims was an ex-lover of his. Oh, and an ex-girlfriend he did wrong (remember Magenta from season three?) was a Cicada cultist, as well.
As we've seen on the show, though, TV Cicada doesn't seem interested in people Flash has saved. Instead, he has it in for metas in general. I think the most likely scenario is that he and/or his wife were victims of the particle accelerator explosion, and he is looking to bring her back to life via the accumulated life force of the one-and-done clowns Team Flash puts away each week, perhaps with Barry as the ultimate prize. Will he have a collection of cultists, too? My guess is probably not, since that angle was already played with back in the Alchemy and Savitar days, but I'll update this article with more info about the TV version of Cicada and how he lines up with (or doesn't) with his DC Comics history as I can.
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
We sat down with Batman and Justice League writer Scott Snyder to talk about his upcoming miniseries, The Batman Who Laughs.
"I will never get tired of writing Batman," veteran DC writer Scott Snyder tells Den of Geek on the last day of NYCC 2018. "I mean, I will stop writing it, you know, cause I don't want to overstay my welcome. And when I don't have an idea that I think is special. But I get in that Batmobile and I just love it to death, I have so much fun."
Since 2011, Snyder has been working on a Batman epic that is already regarded as one of the all-time great runs on the character ever written. Snyder has tackled everything from Batman's origin story to his adventures through the Dark Multiverse, a nightmare version of the DC universe run by an evil Justice League and a Bat-God. Batman's also fought a villain-turned-kaiju in a giant mech, punched a plethora of zoo animals (a running gag in Snyder's stories), teamed up with the Joker, and even created clones of himself in order to fight crime forever.
What's kept Snyder's Batman work so interesting is his unbelievable range as a writer. He's explored Batman through the lens of horror, sci-fi, and the adventure genre. He can make you laugh, cry, or shiver in terror. Most importantly, the stories he tells about Batman feel personal, more concerned with what makes Batman human than whom he is punching.
With almost a decade of Batman stories under his belt, Snyder has shown no sign of leaving the Dark Knight behind. In fact, he has at least two more stories left to tell. Next year, Snyder will team up with his Batpartner-in-crime, artist Greg Capullo, for Batman: Last Knight on Earth, a postapocalyptic three-part miniseries inspired by Mad Max and billed as "the last Batman story ever told."
But before that, Snyder has an even grimmer tale to tell: The Batman Who Laughs, a six-issue miniseries with art from Jock, another frequent collaborator (most recently on Wytches and All-Star Batman). It will see the return of one of the most grotesque villain's in the Caped Crusader's rogues gallery, a Jokerized Batman from the Dark Multiverse who killed all of his friends and enemies on his Earth and has now come to our Earth to do the same. For Batman, the Batman Who Laughs is a terrifying mirror image of what he could become if he ever broke his most important rule.
"It's a really personal story," Snyder explains. "It's very much about the Batman Who Laughs coming to Gotham and saying, 'I've seen you across multiple worlds, and I know what really makes you happy. And what makes you happy is going to surprise you.'"
While the material is certainly dark, Snyder says that the book will still contain plenty of the over-the-top action Batfans know and love.
"The story starts with Bruce tracking down the smuggling ring, and they're smuggling things in these heavy load trucks, with these kinds of compartments that sort of sit beneath the truck. He's following one that's carrying houses and people are pushing houses off and trying to stop him. He's busting through the houses on his Batcycle. I love it, it's so fun."
According to Snyder, what the Dark Knight finds inside these hidden compartments is what sends him on a collision course with the Batman Who Laughs.
"He opens up the compartment and he sees a dead Bruce Wayne. This Bruce Wayne is ten years older than him, has lived a different life, was married to Selena, had a kid with Selena," Snyder reveals. "He has to autopsy himself and discover the clues as to whose back and he realizes very quickly it's the Batman Who Laughs."
While it's true that the Batman Who Laughs is what happens when you mix Batman and Joker together to form the DCU's most terrifying bad guy, Snyder stresses that this isn't necessarily a Batman vs. Joker story. Even the Joker doesn't know what to make of the Batman Who Laughs.
"I would say that the thing that's really interesting to me right now is not the Joker/Batman antagonism," Snyder says. "It's the Batman Who Laughs as the nightmare that the both of them are sort of unprepared for. I don't think Joker ever really thinks Batman is going to kill him. I think he just pushes him and pushes him to be a better version of himself in his own evil, psychotic way. He believes he's helping [Batman] somehow as his kind of best villain."
Just imagine a villain who has every quality that makes Batman great -- the superior intellect, combat training, and determination bordering on the suicidal -- while also enjoying the amorality that allows the Joker to destroy, burn, and kill without hesitation. He's the perfect foe for Batman, he knows every move the Dark Knight will make as well as all of his weaknesses.
"The Batman Who Laughs to me is a figure who, he's not even so much the Joker as he is Batman. He's Bruce Wayne, he has all Bruce Wayne's memories. He knows everything that's happened with the Justice League," Snyder teases. "That's what's scary about it."
First introduced in Snyder and Capullo's big Dark Nights: Metal crossover event, the Batman Who Laughs was finally defeated when the Joker decided to team up with the Caped Crusader to take the monstrous aberration down. This was one partnership that the Batman Who Laughs couldn't predict.
Most recently, the Batman Who Laughs returned in the pages of Snyder's Justice League series. It's revealed that Lex Luthor captured the villain after the events of Metal and locked him up in the Hall of Doom. In Justice League #8, Luthor and the Batman Who Laughs make a pact to help each other take down the world's greatest heroes. But while Luthor wants to take down all of the superheroes who stand in his way, it's clear that the Batman Who Laughs has his sights set on his heroic counterpart. And this time, he's not coming alone.
The Batman Who Laughs will also introduce the Grim Knight, a gun-toting Batman from another universe who Snyder likens to the Punisher. He's packed with weapons and isn't afraid to pull the trigger on his enemies. As you can see in the art above, the Grim Knight has a real love for killing machines.
It's impossible to ignore the fact that the Grim Knight is making his debut at a time when our country is facing a major gun violence problem that's resulted in over 280 mass shootings just in 2018. While Snyder isn't using the Grim Knight to comment on current political issues, he does stress that this gun-toting villain isn't meant to be celebrated. The Grim Knight is very much the bad guy.
"With Batman, a lot of the time you get the question of 'Why doesn't Batman use lethal force?'" Snyder says. "This is one of Batman's worst fears come to life. That fear is that he will cross a line and will never be able to come back and get darker and darker and darker."
Guns aren't the only tools the Grim Knight uses to inflict his particular brand of justice on his enemies. He's got plenty of other ways to hurt his enemies.
"It's not really about guns, so much as it is about lethality. And the story itself, as much as he's shown with the guns on the cover, he actually uses many other means. He uses a lot more blades and gauntlets and scythes and electricity, and all kinds of horrifying things to get you."
Like Bruce Wayne, the Grim Knight is also incredibly rich. While our Bruce has used his immense wealth to fund his non-lethal crimefighting tech, the Grim Knight is basically running something akin to Murder Google.
"The Grim Knight is literally the head of a multi-billion dollar military industrial complex. He has stuff in your phone. He has stuff in your car and GPS. So if he wants to kill you, your car just goes off a bridge. You don't even know it was him. So its really not about the guns, so much is about the fact that he's willing to kill anyone to get what he wants, anytime."
With two killer Batmen on the loose (and one dead Bruce Wayne), will the Caped Crusader be able to win the day without breaking his one rule? Will he survive the onslaught at all? We'll find out when The Batman Who Laughs #1 arrives in November.
The Stranger Things comic adaptation from Dark Horse features writer Jody Houser’s take on how Will survived the Upside Down.
Few comic adaptations were as ripe for the picking as the outrageously popular Netflix series, Stranger Things. With a prequel novel centering around Eleven, a vinyl recording of Halloween sounds inspired by the show, and even a video game in development, there are plenty of stories that can be pulled out of the established canon. One of those stories comes in the form of the Dark Horse comic by Jody Houser, who tells the untold tale of what happened to Will Byers while he was in the Upside Down in Stranger Things season one.
Houser is renowned for her work with DC titles such as Mother Panic and Supergirl, but she has also shown her skill with comics adaptations for shows like Doctor Who and Orphan Black, games like Halo and Starcraft, and movies like Star Wars. The four-issue Stranger Things title that Houser worked on with artists Lauren Affe, Keith Champagne, and Stefano Martino, maintains that grand tradition. With the second issue of the series coming out on Halloween, appropriately enough, we spoke with Houser about the journey so far.
DEN OF GEEK: This comic fills in a part of the story from season 1 of Stranger Things that maybe some viewers didn’t even realize they were missing! Tell us about the premise of the comic and how far it will take us in terms of the chronology of the show.
JODY HOUSER: The comic covers the entirety of season one and all from Will’s perspective, so it’s not exactly a true adaptation because we see scenes that we saw in the TV show but from the other side — literally the other side! It’s an examination of how he is the one person that manages to survive the Upside Down because you had soldiers who went in, you had scientists who were pulled in — and they’re adults and they didn’t make it! And of course, poor Barb; R.I.P. Barb. Then you have this not-very-old kid who somehow managed to get out, not unscathed, but alive. So it’s sort of a study of exactly what he had to do and what he went through to stay alive and make it out.
What are some of the moments you had to re-create from the original story to maybe show from a different perspective, and how did you choose which moments to include?
Basically every moment that we see Will during season one is in this comic, so with four issues, there’s actually a lot of room for new material and seeing these new scenes that are completely apart from the TV show. But at the same time, the moments that we are familiar with help us build the timeline of where things are on the other side.
How do you prepare for a TV adaptation assignment like this? Do you go back and watch certain episodes as part of your research before coming up with an idea, or are you presented with the seeds of where the publisher or production company want it to go?
In this case, it was a little bit of both. I had already watched Stranger Things season 1 twice before I got the job offer, so I went back and watched it a third time. But we did have a couple of seeds of ideas from Netflix, one of which being Will in season one in the Upside Down. I don’t think it was specifically to cover the whole season, but we did want to see that entire journey that we didn’t get to see.
So it was going through and picking out the parts where we do see Will during the season where he’s able to talk to his mother in different ways and where you hear his voice and building the story around those moments because those are the fixed points in continuity that readers will already be familiar with and just seeing what’s happening those other times we don’t know where he is.
We saw Will communicating through lights in season one, but that concept fell by the wayside in season two. Will we get to see how Will is manipulating electricity from the Upside Down?
Uh spoilers, let’s say! But no, it’s fun because it was pretty cool watching Joyce work out how to communicate with her son, but Will had to go through the same thing on the other side to figure out how to talk to his mom, so we will get to see some of that.
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
Where in the story development process does the collaboration with the artist begin? It seems like you’d need to know what the silent in-betweens were going to look like before you sketched out the script, especially for this show which is so atmospheric.
I’ve done a lot of work where I both knew who the artist was before I started or I didn’t find out who the artist was until I had already started scripting. So I always try to keep my script style a little bit loose so there’s plenty of room for the artist to come in and execute their storytelling visual chops which are always going to be way better than mine. So I tend not to do things like layouts, and I’m always fine with artists who are like, “You know, I think it would be better if we did this,” because they’re pretty much always right. They’re pretty good at what they’re doing.
So they might tell you they want to draw out a moment in your writing to increase suspense?
Yeah, like expand this into an extra panel or two, or these panels we can actually condense so we can let this moment be a little bigger. And honestly that’s one of my favorite things in comics is just seeing how everyone takes the seeds and just adds their own element and flavor, and at the end it’s something that’s greater than all of the parts.
You decided to include the Dungeons and Dragons campaign as a framework for your story. Can you tell us what your thoughts were about how Will would discover where he was and how to survive through his understanding of the game?
The D&D was obviously such a big element for his friends in the first season, and it’s sort of how they were able to process what was going on because they had this metaphor of these adventures and these monsters. And for Will it even made more sense for him to be looking at it through that filter because the D&D game was the very last thing he experienced in the real world before he was chased down and pulled into the Upside Down.
Also, having these flashbacks to their gaming sessions is a way that we can still include his friends in the comic, and you can still see that friendship that’s really at the heart of Stranger Things when Will’s by himself and not with his friends. So just the fact that he has been on adventures before, and the idea of the party is such a strong core of the show, but he’s not with his party right now. Some of the lessons he learned while playing with his friends and being Will the Wise, being a part of that party, that’s something that he carries into the Upside Down, and it does help him survive.
With art in the same nostalgic 80s style as the show itself to complement Houser’s compelling story, the Stranger Things comic from Dark Horse should appeal to fans everywhere as they anxiously await the season 3 premiere in 2019. The first issue of the comic is available now from Amazon and Comixology, and the second issue arrives on October 31, 2018.
Justice League writer Scott Snyder dishes on what fans should expect from the book after "Drowned Earth."
After almost a decade of exciting Batman stories, DC veteran Scott Snyder has finally been given access to the company's entire pantheon of superheroes. Ten issues in, Snyder's Justice League series has already given readers one mind-blowing epic about the creation of the DC universe as well as the dawn of Lex Luthor's Legion of Doom. Along the way, we've also witnessed the return of Starman to the DCU, Martian Manhunter's new role as chairman of the League, and learned of humanity's ultimate destiny. Needless to say, this isn't a small book.
Now that the first arc, "The Totality," has come to an end, Justice League has now shifted focus to the five-part, Aquaman-centric "Drowned Earth" crossover event which sees the Earth flooded by an alien invasion force. The event kicks off today with Justice League #10, with art from Francis Manapul.
We caught up with Snyder at NYCC 2018 to talk about Justice League, what's going on with Starman, Batman's killer "Professor X" wheelchair, and an upcoming arc of the book, which is called "The Sixth Dimension."
When it comes to Snyder, it's hard to not ask him a million questions about Batman. He's spent so much time writing the Dark Knight, getting to know (and breaking) the character, so it shouldn't surprise you that Snyder has big plans for Batman in upcoming issues of DC's flagship team book. In fact, Snyder's approach to future Batman Justice League scenes sounds hilarious.
"I love writing him on the team because I play him more for comic relief a little bit, you know?" Snyder says. "He actually is having some dark stuff happen to him, where, as much as we joke about it, he's in a body cast right now."
For those of you who don't know or need a refresher, Batman recently had his body completely shattered during his fight against Luthor. Powered by the Totality's incredible energy, Luthor dealt a blow that left Batman with quite a few broken bones. His limbs are basically useless, which means he's been left out of the action, forced to wear a giant body cast that doubles as a high-tech wheelchair. But because this is Batman we're talking about, it's not just a wheelchair...
"I always wanted to do this, where he's in a kind of 'Professor X' chair that holds his bones and muscles together. But that chair has all kinds of crazy ass weapons in it," Snyder teases. Snyder, ever a student of "Chekhov's gun," plans to put Batman's wheelchair to good use in upcoming issues of "Drowned Earth."
"The Legion of Doom actually attacks the Hall of Justice during our Aquaman arc. Batman is alone in there in his body cast, and he takes them all on in his body cast and it's one of my favorite scenes," Snyder says. "He's just like, 'Bring it! My weapons have weapons.'"
Snyder has made a name for himself, not only for his incredibly dark Batman stories ("Death of the Family,""Endgame," and Dark Nights: Metal to name just a few) but for the way he's able to write the Caped Crusader for laughs. Batman is the kind of hero who is almost comical in his level of preparedness and Snyder knows it. But in order for a book like Justice League to work, Batman can't just solve all the problems the team faces single-handedly.
"I like playing him a little bit more off-center in Justice League, just to give other characters a chance to shine, because I feel like everyone thought I'd put Batman right at the center," Snyder explains of his approach to Batman in the team book. After all, Batman can't be the only focus of a series also headlined by Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Cyborg, Hawkgirl, and Martian Manhunter.
Besides blowing up bad guys with his wheelchair, Batman's also focused on figuring out the mystery behind Starman, who returned to the DCU in Justice League #8 in a shocking opening sequence that not only brought the character back but tied his origin story to the arrival of the Totality, a cosmic energy source that fuels the creation of universes. In a clever retcon, Will Payton's powers are now forever tied to the strange energy. Naturally, Batman needs to get to the bottom of this mystery and figure out how Starman's story ties into their current predicament against the Legion of Doom, which seeks the Totality for its own evil gains.
To do this, Batman's using an unlikely ally to get inside Starman's memories: Starro, the giant space-starfish supervillain who met his demise during the Justice League: No Justice event last spring but is back in a new form.
"[Batman]'s got a baby Starro with him because he found a fragment of Starro and it's in a jar. They call it 'Jarro.' And he's using it to extract memories from Starman and all this stuff, so it's very kind of fun and over the top," Snyder explains.
While Snyder teases all the funny moments to be had in the upcoming issues, there are some dark things coming down the line as well. After "Drowned Earth," Snyder is leaving Earth to catch up with Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern, and Hawkgirl on a mission to Thanagar Prime, the homeworld of DC's hawk-themed characters. That arc will then give way to the next story, titled "The Sixth Dimension."
Snyder spoiled a tiny bit of that story for us, including what Batman's going through during the arc:
"Deep down, [Batman]'s actually really hurt by the fact that Lex beat him and broke his bones. This mystery and this challenge are a lot bigger than anything he's faced as a street detective. So there's a lot of fear right now and that's gonna come out in a bigger arc that we're gonna do in about issue 19 called 'The Sixth Dimension.' You start to see Batman's fears and the damage that's been done to him really come out in a way that's not funny anymore, that really hurts."
What other adventures await the Justice League in "The Sixth Dimension?" We'll just have to wait and see as the mystery of the Totality continues in the pages of Justice League.
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
The cast of Good Omens gives insight into how director Douglas Mackinnon brought Good Omens to the screen.
Television is known as a writers' medium, but that doesn't mean the director isn't a vital contributor to the creation of an on-screen television world. This is especially true when one director has the chance to direct every episode of a TV season, which is normally not the case in the traditional TV model.
This is the case for Amazon's much-anticipated upcoming adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's Good Omens, the story of a demon named Crowley (David Tennant) and an angel named Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) who team up in an attempt to prevent the apocalypse and the end of life as they know it.
Director Douglas Mackinnon is behind the camera for all six episodes of what looks to be a trippy, distinctive, and wonderfully weird adaptation of a beloved book.
Mackinnon knows his way around both an adaptation and a fantasy world. Standouts on the Scottish director's long resume include Doctor Who's "The Husbands of River Song" (he's directed eight episode of NuWho), Sherlock's "The Abominable Bride," and the first three episodes of Steven Moffat's highly underrated Jekyll.
Den of Geek had the chance to talk to Mackinnon and the cast of Good Omens at the recent New York Comic Con.
"It's Douglas who's focusing on source material," said Sheen of working with Mackinnon, noting that it was the director whose copy of the Good Omens book was the most thumbed-through, and who was the most actively engaged with keeping the adaptation faithful to the spirit of the book.
"[Douglas] was the guardian of the book weirdly in the way that you'd think Neil would be the guardian of the book. But, actually, it was Douglas who kept the book pinned down, which allowed me to be much freer in kind of messing around with things a bit. You had the confidence of the authorial voice to go, 'All right, that was the book, but we're doing this.' And Douglas would keep going, 'There's that bit in the book. There's that line in the book.''"
Both Tennant, who'd worked with Mackinnon before on episodes of Doctor Who, and Jon Hamm, who plays Archangel Gabriel in the series, remarked on MacKinnon's ability to manage the broad scope of the adaptation.
"I think what's brilliant about Douglas is that he has an absolute grasp of all the disparate elements of what Good Omens is, and there are a lot of them," said Tennant. "There's lots going on that we [actors] never really get to truly understand or know. There're whole plot lines that I can't wait to see what they're about, some characters that we're never in a scene with."
"You've always felt like Douglas—he's been working on this project certainly a lot longer than I have—had a real sense of what everything was and how it all had to be pulled together. And I felt, probably because I knew him before, probably because of the sense that he brought to set everyday, I could trust that. I didn't have to worry about. I just had to look after my little corner of it because he was in charge."
Hamm, who was part of a separate roundtable discussion from Tennant, echoed the sentiment.
"It's a treat to have a unified vision over something so sprawling and vast," said Hamm, who is a longtime fan of the book. "And just the scale and scope of this project, especially giving that it has such an international following and is so adored by so many, because then you want somebody who has experience and knows what he is doing, but also has the ability to play nicely with others and to understand that Neil and the book are the sources of all of this and really use it to his advantage."
From the actors' perspective, Mackinnon is a delight to work with because he understands that the relationships between characters is at the heart of any good story.
"Douglas's personality, maybe just on this," said Sheen, "mirrors the challenge of the book which is the enjoyment of the craziness of the world, of the universe. This kind of huge, silly, absurd stuff going on, but at the heart of it is something very, very real about relationships and something that matters."
"You want to be able to enjoy both," Sheen continued. "You have to be taken along by the narrative engine of why it matters, what's going on, in order to enjoy the crazier elements of it. And I think Douglas has that. When you meet him, you think he is making jokes all of the time and being kind of silly, but actually, underneath, he has a very serious commitment to what it's really about. I think that's why he was the perfect director [for Good Omens]."
"He's very good with all the bells and whistles. He understands how you can be drummaging in work. He likes doing fancy things with cameras. He gets excited by all that. But, ultimately, only really cares about what's going on between the actors."
Miranda Richardson, who plays Madame Tracy in Good Omens, has been working in this business a long time. Where does Mackinnon fall in the context of her experience?
"He knew what he wanted so that's always a relief as a performer," said Richardson. "He's also one of the most relaxed bosses, you know, not in Australia that I've ever had, really."
What does Mackinnon himself have to say about the responsibility of bringing the world of Good Omens to the screen? Den of Geek asked the director specifically about bringing London, a location and setting that has a rich history on screen and that Mackinnon has worked with as a setting before, to distinctive life.
"Good Omens is a very—I'm going to use a very particular word here—is a very English production," said Mackinnon. "It's very English. There's no British, no UK. It's very English."
"I'm Scottish, when I read the book it felt so much like a ... I wouldn't say cliché or stereotype, but it's so much about how English people talk to each other," continued Mackinnon. "That's why with Aziraphale and Crowley, they're both English. And so, the London that I wanted, and the Soho that I wanted, and also the Tadfield I wanted ... There was an English playwright who died a number of years ago..."
"Dennis Potter," Gaiman contributes, giving us a peek into the partnership between these two men, who have been working closely together on this project for months and months.
"[It was] Dennis Potter," continues Mackinnon, "who said that, he was dying and he said that, 'The blossoms were the blossom-est blossoms that he'd ever seen.' So, I want the Soho-est Soho that I'd ever seen. I want the London-est London. I want the Tadfield-est Tadfield."
"It means that, in Crowley's flat, he's got heads of Parliament outside his window," continued Mackinnon. "It means at St James's Park you see Buckingham Palace. There are red buses going past all the time. And, for Tadfield, [where] we went and shot, the last major film that was shot there was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. So, you can't get more English than that."
"My theory was that, when Aziraphale and Crowley were walking down the street of Soho, they would just fit in completely, but when they got to Tadfield they standout like they're crazy guys... Especially, if you turn up with a burning Bentley."
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
The CW's Dorian Gray TV series will be a "comedic" adaptation of the classic Oscar Wilde story.
You gotta hand it to The CW: the network is committed to its reimaginings of popular properties, from the comic book world to the literary one. It's been a few years since Beauty and the Beast was on the CW's schedule, which means it may be time for a different show based on classic literary material to make it onto the rotation...
According to Variety, The CW is currently developing a TV series based on the Oscar Wilde novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, which is about an ever-youthful and ever-beautiful young man named Dorian Gray whose portrait becomes increasingly hideous as he himself becomes mean, cruel, and bitter. The portrait becomes a record of the sins, as Dorian Gray's youthful, beautiful facade obscures the terrible human underneath.
Sadly, The CW's adaptation will not be a straight adaptation (we still miss Penny Dreadful's Dorian Gray adaptation), but rather "a comedic spin on the classic story."Dorian, as it is currently called, will follow a woman who made a deal with the devil 50 years prior to remain young. She has spent the past five decades living a life of selfishness, largely without consequence. When the series starts, the downsides of living young forever (wait... this seems to go against The CW brand) begin to rear their ugly head, and Dorian decides she is ready to physically age and emotionally mature. First, however, she has to make amends for her past.
Dorian is being developed by writer and executive producer Marisa Coughlan, who is mostly known for her acting work. Coughlan has appeared in Super Troopers and Space Station 76. On the writing side, her project Lost and Found went to pilot at ABC, and she has contributed scripts for projects Pushing and That’s Wonderful.
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
The big Daredevil season 3 villain has a crazy Marvel history. Here's everything you need to know about Bullseye.
Things are about to get deadly on the mean streets of Marvel because Bullseye is coming to Netflix’s Daredevil season 3. Fans have been awaiting Bullseye’s arrival since the first season, and with good reason. Over the years, many writers and artists have done their creative best to make Bullseye one of the most fearsome foes in the Marvel Universe. So let us go back in time and discover the deadly secrets of Bullseye, the man who never misses. Be warned though, as we travel back and find these greatest Bullseye stories, the journey is littered with the corpses of men and women (and thus, potential spoilers) who crossed Bullseye. Victims punctured with playing cards, pierced with paper clips, and penetrated by ninja weapons.
The first character known as Bulls-Eye (not Bullseye) appeared in Nick Fury: Agent Of SHIELD #15 (1969) by Gary Friedrich and artist Herb Trimpe. This Bulls-Eye attempted to kill Nick Fury but was taken out by Dum Dum Dugan. Bulls-Eye was packed away into Marvel obscurity and seemingly has no connection with the Daredevil baddie, but when a villain possessing the moniker returned, the Marvel Universe would become a much more dangerous place.
It’s hard to imagine that Bullseye has become such a major force of evil in the Marvel Universe considering the assassin has no powers. He is highly trained in martial arts and has perfect aim. Bullseye used to be a pitcher in the major leagues but was banned and prosecuted for killing a batter with a bean ball. From there, Bullseye trained himself to kill with any object from office supplies, to peanuts, to playing cards.
With all that being said, let’s get to our reading list/history...
The Bullseye we all love to hate first appeared in Daredevil #131 (1976) and was created by Marv Wolfman and John Romita Sr. Now, you guys have to understand one thing about Daredevil’s rogues gallery circa 1976: it was not very good. It was fun and some characters like Kilgrave the Purple Man (you know, from Jessica Jones), Gladiator (good ol' Melvin Potter, who keeps popping up on the DaredevilNetflix series), and, of course, Wilson Fisk, have all gone on to star in some phenomenal tales, but this era of DD villains was before the days of Typhoid Mary and Elektra, so when Wolfman and company first introduced Bullseye, he seemed like another one-and-done DD baddie.
Admittedly, in this first appearance of Bullseye, the villain had a bit more of an edge to him compared to, let’s say, Matador or Stilt-Man (but let’s face it, a potato has more of an edge than Matador). In Bullseye’s first battle with Daredevil, he sets up a series of exhortation and murder plots and even publicizes himself in an interview with the Daily Bugle. Bullseye actually defeats Daredevil but soon, Matt pulls himself together, and for the first time, lays the smack down on Bullseye. Wolfman told a tight yarn and Bullseye was daringly different, but the master assassin could have just been another forgettable entry in the Daredevil rogues gallery...if it wasn’t for Frank Miller.
When Bullseye would next appear, it was an issue drawn by the creator that would fully unleash Bullseye on the Marvel Universe: Frank Miller. Don't forget about writer Roger McKenzie who penned the story that first unleashed the full brunt of Bullseye on Marvel. In Daredevil #160-161 (1979), Bullseye desperately wants revenge on DD for his previous defeat, so he kidnaps Daredevil’s than true love the Black Widow and forces Matt Murdock into a brutal confrontation. McKenzie writes a tight, brutal tale while Miller finds frenetic visual language to bring Bullseye to life. The master assassin must have struck a chord in Miller, because when the iconic creator had full creative control of the book, he put Bullseye front and center.
In Daredevil #169 (1981), both written and drawn by Miller, the full horror of Bullseye is unleashed. In this issue, Bullseye finds himself with a brain tumor. The villain is so obsessed with Daredevil, that now everyone he sees resembles the Man Without Fear. So Bullseye goes on an epic killing spree. By issue’s end, Daredevil stops Bullseye’s reign of terror, but with this single issue, Bullseye basically became Marvel’s Joker, an unstoppable force of insanity.
In Daredevil#171-172 (1981) by Miller, Bullseye becomes the hired assassin of Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin. This is Kingpin at his most driven and violent because he just had to bury his beloved wife Vanessa. Kingpin wanted to burn the world and Bullseye would be his match. This unholy alliance would define both villains for decades to come. Which brings us to a moment that would solidify Bullseye as one of Marvel’s most heinous villains forevermore...
The Death of Elektra
“…You’re pretty good. But me…I’m magic.” With those words in Miller’s Daredevil #181 (1982), Bullseye slits Elektra’s throat with a playing card and plunges her own Sai into her chest. You see, at that point, Kingpin had replaced Bullseye with Elektra and the psycho killer that never misses had something to prove. Of course, Elektra was also Matt Murdock’s lover so her death sent shockwaves through the world of comics. It was a watershed moment as the seemingly unstoppable Elektra was systematically dismantled and murdered by Bullseye and became one of the first truly unforgettable Marvel moment of the 1980s.
Bullseye paid for his actions when Daredevil tossed the killer off a rooftop, shattering his spine. Bullseye was paralyzed and things took an even darker turn when Daredevil visits Bullseye in the hospital in Daredevil#191(1983). As Bullseye lay immobile, Daredevil plays a faux game of Russian roulette with the prone killer. It was the darkest moment of Miller’s run on Daredevil and may have been the darkest moment in the history of Marvel. A hero pressing a gun to the temple of a killer that robbed him of his great love. Damn.
Elektra was not the last love Bullseye would take from Matt Murdock...
The Death of Karen Page
The coming of Bullseye to Netflix could mean horrible things for one Karen Page. Because in the famed Guardian Devil (1999) storyline by writer Kevin Smith (snootches) and artist Joe Quesada, Bullseye is hired by the Spider-Man villain Mysterio to kidnap an infant. During the case, Bullseye uses Daredevil’s own billy club to kill Daredevil’s other great love Karen Page. Page had been Matt Murdock’s constant since Daredevil #1 and now, like Elektra, she was dead because of Bullseye.
When Brian Michael Bendis took over Daredevil in the late 90s, fans knew the writer had a killer Bullseye story ready and waiting. After all, Bendis is and was a master of hardcore crime sagas and dark noir. Fans were not disappointed when Bendis presented the storylines “Lowlife” and “Hardcore” in which Matt Murdock’s identity as Daredevil is revealed to the world.
Bullseye uses this new revelation to attack Murdock’s life and attempts to murder DD”s current lover Milla Donovan. Murdock is having none of it and confronts Bullseye. With the rage of the loss of Elektra and Karen, Daredevil beats Bullseye almost to death and carves a bullseye symbol into the killer’s head. Yeah, it was a response to the best-forgotten Daredevilmovie of the late 90s, but it was a moment of pure vengeance as Daredevil finally made Bullseye pay for all the pain he caused.
The next time Bullseye would appear would finally be separate from the world of Daredevil. Bullseye joined the Thunderbolts team led by Norman Osborn. Bullseye operated as Osborn’s most secret of weapons and was only unleashed on the most dangerous of missions. So let that sink in, Bullseye is so deadly, even Norman Osborn was wary of the master killer. As a member of the Thunderbolts, Bullseye helped fight Spider-Man, the Skrulls, and was even paralyzed again by the Native American hero known as American Eagle. Bullseye’s time with the Thunderbolts hit like a bolt of lightning in 2007 and was presented by Warren Ellis and Mike Deodoto.
Things got even sicker when Osborn transformed his Thunderbolts into the Dark Avengers. Bullseye adopted the identity of Hawkeye and seeing the man who had killed Elektra and Karen Page profaning the iconic heroic identity of Clint Barton was truly twisted. Dark Hawkeye marked Bendis’ return to the character in the 2009 Dark Avengers series. Bullseye/Hawkeye also starred in a bloody and twisted mini-series in 2009 by Andy Diggle and Tom Raney.
The Magic Returns
After his time as Hawkeye, Bullseye was killed in the Shadowland crossover. At this time, a new assassin named Lady Bullseye became a major player in the New York underworld. Lady Bullseye brought Bullseye’s corpse to the Hand and had the killer resurrected. Sicker than ever, Bullseye was confined to an iron lung and did what he does best: make Matt Murdock’s life a living hell. Bullseye sends many adversaries to weaken Daredevil during Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s superb 2013 run on Daredevil until he was once again defeated by the Man Without Fear.
Daredevil season 3 arrives on Netflix on October 19.
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
The cast of Runaways is eager for more action, and it sounds like they'll be living it in Season 2.
It wasn’t until the very end of Runaways Season 1 that Alex Wilder (Rhenzy Feliz), Nico Minoru (Lyrica Okano), Karolina Dean (Virginia Gardner), Gert Yorkes (Ariela Barer), Chase Stein (Gregg Sulkin) and Molly Hernandez (Allegra Acosta) made good on the show's title.
Before that pivotal moment, when these disparate teenagers discovered that their villainous parents had framed them for murder, series co-creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage had spent most of the season’s time laying the groundwork for the group’s eventual escape. It’s a common method showrunners will use to adapt comic books for television (see the first season of AMC’s Preacher), and while it may tax the patience of some viewers, it often pays off in the long run.
Hence Runaways Season 2, which premieres Friday, December 21st on Hulu. Based on the Marvel comic series created by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona, the latest installment sees Alex, Nico, Karolina, Gert, Chase and Molly finally going on the run. At the same time, as the first teaser trailer suggested, audiences will also be seeing the group testing the limits of their powers—and their teamwork—for the eventual confrontation with their parents, all of whom are a member of the secretive group dubbed “The Pride.”
According to what the cast told Den of Geek at the 2018 New York Comic Con earlier this month, this is the development they have all been looking forward to the most. That is to say, more “action.”
“It's just up in action,” says Feliz, whose character more or less serves as the group’s leader. “When I first watched that teaser, it reminded me a lot of what we've been doing this season. Everything is on a bigger scale this time. We get more action, we get more explosions, we get more of everything.”
Many of his fellow cast members say the same, but there’s also a lot more they’re excited about. From the new directions that Savage, Schwartz and the writers have decided to go in, to the inclusion of at least two more characters from the comics, it seems Runaways Season 2 will have plenty to satisfy hardened comic book readers and general audiences alike.
“The writers really trusted us with some new material this year,” says Barer. “I think they tapped into some really the deep stuff that we’ve brought to these characters, and they let us explore that on our own.”
Acosta adds to this point, saying “the way Molly grows into this superhero role” was especially fun to play with. “She's ready to take it on. It's fun to play with her abilities.” After admitting a conspiratorial grin, she adds that “the way we throw in some Easter eggs is fun, too. That she might be the M-word.” (That is to say, Molly is a “mutant,” but with the Disney-Fox merger still in progress, Marvel and Hulu cannot legally employ that word in the show.)
Of course, this wouldn’t be a decent Runaways adaptation without Old Lace, a genetically engineered dinosaur designed by Gert’s parents that shares a telepathic link with her. Barer loved working with the animatronic character during Season 1, and has enjoyed the experience even more the second time around.
“We actually get to explore Old Lace in a way I didn't expect,” she says. “She goes through all the same stuff that we go through, but she also has her own storyline. She encounters peril and escapes victorious from it. She has these very real, almost human, moments, where we all connect with her. That was really fun to shoot.”
For of all the Marvel properties currently in play, Runaways has demonstrated one of the most progressive platforms. From its casting and the diversity of the people working behind the camera, to the storylines themselves, it’s readily apparent. Like the budding romance between Nico and Karolina, which fans of the show have enthusiastically responded to. It was a popular point of discussion heading into the first season, and now that Season 2 is going to explore it even more, the actresses can’t help sharing their excitement.
“The fan response to that has been incredible,” says Gardner, who plays Karolina. “I've been asked if I was nervous about exploring it, or felt any pressure to do it, and we never did. We just wanted to explore it like you would explore any other relationship on television. I mean, let's just provide this representation already. From the beginning, I think it was always Josh and Stephanie's intention to write that relationship into the show.”
“I think it's a beautiful dynamic,” says Okano, who plays Nico. “I was really excited for Karolina and Nico to get together. I read the comics and I was always a huge fan of their relationship, and even though it didn’t really exist in the comic book world, I desperately wanted them to be together. This season, you'll see Nico and Karolina deal with being in a new relationship while in this horrible situation, where they’re running away from their homes and their parents. Things aren't always that easy, and you'll definitely see that with our story.”
Yet the mainstay of the series is the reasoning behind the group’s ultimate decision to run away from home -- their parents’ antagonistic alliance with the villainous and otherworldly Jonah (Julian McMahon). In their own unique ways, all six kids feel a deep sense of betrayal and loss. After all, their parents -- the people who love them and have raised them -- are killers who have now set their sites on them.
As the Runaways cast repeatedly told Den of Geek, Season 2 will see these deep-seated feelings of loss and regret resurface in a series of climactic standoffs between the two groups, and it’s not going to be pretty.
“I think they’re confused,” says Sulkin, who plays Chase. “They’re frustrated by the fact that they thought their parents were superheroes, when they were actually supervillains, so to speak. They’re just a bunch of young kids who have this love for their parents, even though what they've done is wrong, so they’re battling with themselves. They feel that justice needs to happen, but at the same time, they still love their parents. They don’t want to cause them any harm.”
Runaways season 2 premieres December 21st on Hulu.
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
The Den of Geek Book Club is a place to geek out about our favorite science fiction, fantasy, and horror books.
Featuring book giveaways and exclusive author interviews, this is a place to recommend, discuss, and obsess over the best current and classic fantasy, science fiction, and horror books. Join us in discussing our latest pick...
October/November: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
Hank Green has long been telling stories and helping others to tell stories through platforms like the vlogbrothers YouTube channel he runs with brother John Green; educational YouTube channels Crash Course and SciShow; and conventions like VidCon. (Not to mention as a producer on Den of Geek favorite The Lizzie Bennet Diaries!) Now, he’s breaking into the literary fiction world with his debut novel!
One of our fall's geekiest books recommendations from our New York Comic Con Den of Geek Magazine, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is the story of 23-year-old named April May who becomes an overnight celebrity when she stumbles upon a giant sculpture one night and makes a YouTube video with it.
It turns out the ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing samurai armor is one of dozens of its kind, dubbed The Carls, that have mysteriously appeared in cities around the globe. When the video April made goes viral, April is thrown into social internet fame, her life and relationships unpredictably changed because of it, as she works to understand The Carls and what they want from us.
Come discuss An Absolutely Remarkable Thing (and other speculative fiction picks!) with us over at the Den of Geek Book Club, and stay tuned for more An Absolutely Remarkable Thing-related treats in the coming month!
September/October: Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Victor Vale and Eli Ever were college friends who discovered the secret to extraordinary abilities together only to become enemies set on bringing the other down in this morally-complex tale of ambition, jealousy, and superpowers,
"There are no good men in this game," Schwab writes in Vicious, and it's true, proving that you don't need good guys to tell a compelling story and that you don't need to sacrifice empathy, feeling, or nuanced self-awareness when telling a tale of anti-heroes.
Schwab is one of the best writers of her generation and, if you have yet to pick up one of her many speculative fiction books, Vicious is a great place to start, not least of all because its sequel, Vengeful, is out on September 25th. (Schwab also recently released a middle grade novel called City of Ghosts that is perfect reading for the Halloween season.) You won't be disappointed.
Come discuss Vicious, Vengeful, and other speculative fiction picks over at the Den of Geek Book Club, and stay tuned for more Villains-related treats in the coming month! You can also enter to win our Villains giveaway, which includes copies of both Vicious and Vengeful, as well as some other exclusive merch.
August/September: European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman by Theodora Goss
In addition to have the coolest name this side of Space Unicorn Blues, European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman has a killer premise. The second book in the Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club series, European Travel follows Mary Jekyll, Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein, and Diana Hyde as they make their way into the heart of the Austro-Hungarian Empire into an attempt to save Lucinda Van Helsing.
In The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter, we were first introduced to these characters from the pages (or between the pages) of classic 19th-century literary canon. Author Theodora Goss wanted to give the female characters who were so often written as monsters from these stories a voice of their own. Mary Jekyll is our protagonist and, when we first meet her in The Alchemist's Daughter, she is struggling to find money to support herself and her household following the death of her mother.
When a series of murders seems to be connected to her late father, Dr. Jekyll, or perhaps to his mysterious assistant Mr. Hyde, Mary starts down a path of investigation alongside Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson that leads her to create her own found family of monstrous women.
Come discuss European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman and other speculative fiction picks over at the Den of Geek Book Club, and stay tuned for more Athena Society-related treats in the coming month! You can also enter to win a copy of European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman!
July/August: Heroine's Journey by Sarah Kuhn
The third book in Sarah Kuhn's ridiculously fun Heroine Complex series, Heroine's Journey follows Bea Tanaka, the younger sister of Heroine Complex protagonist Evie Tanaka. An aspiring twenty-something superheroine who just wants to stop being treated like a kid and be allowed to help save the Bay Area alongside Evie and Evie's superhero partner-best friend Aveda Jupiter, Bea has the power to influence other's emotions—also, sometimes, when she screams, she blows things up.
In the Heroine Complex world, Kuhn has created an alternate San Fran where a demon opened an Otherworld portal 13 years prior, setting into motion a series of events that led to the creation of other local portals through which demons can come into our world and the development of a human population with otherworldly powers of their own. Bea, Evie, and Aveda are three of those humans, and are part of a superhero team that would give the Scooby gang a run for its found family money.
You don't need to have read the previous two books in the series, centered around Evie and Aveda respectively, to enjoy this world. Kuhn has crafted a story filled with whip smart dialogue, complex female relationships, romance, silly yet dangerous demons, and Asian American superhero representation that works for the casual and more completist reader alike. Fair warning, though: If you go into this one blind, you will find yourself going back to read the other two installments. That's just the way the demon cupcake crumbles.
Come discuss Heroine's Journey and other speculative fiction picks over at the Den of Geek Book Club, and stay tuned for more Heroine's Journey-related treats in the coming month!
June/July: Brief Cases by Jim Butcher
Brief Cases, a collection of several of Butcher's excellent short stories and novellas from within the universe of Harry Dresden, is a delight for new and old Dresden Files fans alike. Centered around the theme of parenting, the stories in the collection range from a prequel set in the Old West to a Rashomon-style tale of Harry discovering a warlock at the zoo.
You can read our full review of Brief Cases here, or head over to the Den of Geek Book Club to discuss the book. We're also giving away a complete set of the Dresden Files books, if you're looking to add to your own collection. Find out how to enter here.
May/June Pick: Ship It by Britta Lundin
Riverdale is one of Den of Geek's favorite shows, so when we heard one of its writers was coming out with her debut novel, you better believe we put it on our must-read list.
Britta Lundin's Ship It is the story of a teen fanfiction writer, Claire, who is pulled into the behind-the-scenes world of her favorite TV show, and Forest, one of the show's male leads who understands absolutely nothing about fandom. Ship It is an exploration of fandom, queerness, TV creation, and love in its many forms. Read our full review here, then check out our podcast interview with Lundin.
Join the Ship It discussion over on the Den of Geek Book Club Goodreads page.
April/May Pick: The Power by Naomi Alderman
Imagine a world that completely flips the balance of power when it comes to gender. This is the setting for The Power, Naomi Alderman's 2016 science fiction novel set in a world in which women develop the ability to shoot electric jolts from their fingertips, leading to their dominance as a gender.
As Delia Harrington notes in a review for Den of Geek, The Power is a vital read for a time in which some falsely claim that women have stolen all of the power from men. President Obama named this one of this favorite books of 2017, and the book somehow feels even more relevant now than it did when it was published just two long years ago.
March/April Pick: Children of Blood & Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Children of Blood and Bone is the first book in the West African-inspired fantasy series Legacy of Orisha. The debut from 24-year-old Tomi Adeyemi made waves when it was bought by Macmillan for a reported seven-figure sum.
The story follows Zelie, a girl who lost her mother in the purge of magic executed by Orisha's totalitarian ruler, Saran. In the first book, Zelie sets out to restore magic to the land and take down Saran, with a little help from her friends: a giant lionaire, her older brother Tzain, and Princess Amari. Prince Inan, another protagonist in the book, pursues Zelie as she undergoes her quest, torn between his family and, you know, doing the right thing.
Children of Blood and Bone is a promising start to a new young adult fantasy series that is set to take the world by storm. Head over to our Den of Geek Book Club page to join the discussion!
February/March Pick: All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
All Our Wrong Todays is a time travel novel where the "wrong" timeline is our own. When protagonist Tom Barren travels back in time using his father's technology, he changes the world from a utopia where the problems of war, poverty, and under-ripe avocados have been solved, into, well, this one. By centering our timeline as the "wrong" one, author Elan Mastai subverts many of the classic time travel narrative trope, giving us a fresh science fiction novel for anyone who worries they're living in the darkest timeline.
January/February Pick: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor is a Hugo Award-winning novella about a young African woman who leaves her home on Earth for the first time to attend an intergalactic university on another planet. On the voyage, something goes terribly wrong, forcing Binti to rely on her mathematic skills and her culture to survive.
The Afrofuturist space adventure novella is unlike anything I have ever read, coming from one of the most exciting authors working in science fiction right now. The story continues in two follow-up novellas already published.
Kayti Burt serves as a staff editor covering books, TV, movies, and fan culture at Den of Geek. A long-term lover of all things science fiction and fantasy, she is an unabashed defender of the power of speculative storytelling and a proponent of sentimental TV. Read more of her work here or follow her on Twitter @kaytiburt.
Dive deep into the mouth of madness with these three great Batman Halloween specials from the '90s!
In 1993, writer Jeph Loeb and artist Tim Sale, now famous for Batman: The Long Halloween, performed a mad experiment to remind us that the Dark Knight's worst fears were gravely domestic and close to home. And how else to achieve this, but in Batman's own tales of horror and madness.
The creative team produced three Batman Halloween specials from 1993-95 for theLegends of the Dark Knightanthology series. The original Legends ran from 1989-2007 and featured a rotating team of artists and writers, including Grant Morrison, Klaus Janson, Mark Millar, Dennis O'Neil, Mike W. Barr, Warren Ellis, Mike Mignola, and many, many more all-star creators. The stories in Legends were meant to be self-contained arcs, set in the early days of the Dark Knight, before Robin but after Batman: Year One, and could be described as the "weird tales" of Batman.
In the pages of this series was the opportunity for these unique creators to treat Batman like they had made him up, to play with his mythos, and delve deep into his psyche. It's no wonder Loeb and Sale's Halloween specials fit so well within these guidelines. The series was indeed very popular in the '90s, and the three stories I'm about to discuss are among the biggest factors of its success.
A Lonely Man
I'm in no way green to Batman comics, but I do have to say that good Bruce Wayne stories have eluded me for the most part. In other words, I feel that, while there are plenty of great Batman adventures, there aren't as many memorable stories about Bruce Wayne the man. Yes, there's Frank Miller's iconic work on the character in both Year Oneand Dark Knight Returns, which has pretty much influenced every comic book since, but beyond that grand scale, there aren't many smaller stories that tackle the character as efficiently. We've seen a few great contemporary examples, including Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's work on Batman since 2011, and there's plenty to be said about Grant Morrison's take on Batman of Zur-En-Arrh (this is what happens when you take Bruce out of the equation and all that), but even these take the form of epics.
What about a great intimate story about what it is to not only be Batman but Bruce Wayne? It surely takes as much courage to fight the monsters of the night as it does to live a life unfulfilled during the day. This is at the center of Loeb and Sale's stories, which focus heavily on Bruce as Batman's greatest strength and weakness.
In the first special, titled "Choices" when originally released and "Fears" in the Haunted Knight collection, which contains all three Halloween stories, Batman faces his greatest challenge ever: the promise of a romantic encounter and domestic bliss as Bruce Wayne. Fittingly enough, the story begins with Batman chasing Scarecrow through Gotham. Scarecrow's latest fear gas is the most potent he's ever created, and he manages to give Bats a very strong dose. Yes, it seems that the story is going in an expected direction: Batman must fight his greatest fears in a gas-induced fever dream...and for the most part, it's true, but not in the way you'd expect. Batman doesn't go under the spell when first gassed, instead punching out the bad guy and delivering him to Gordon.
Back on the homefront, Bruce Wayne is having a costume party with the most distinguished guests in all of Gotham, the rich, the pampered, the gluttons, all of the people Bruce despises but has to keep tabs on in order to stay in touch with his city. But he never expected to meet Jillian Maxwell, a mysterious woman clad in red who immediately grabs Bruce's attention, as they share a dance. Almost immediately, Bruce is intoxicated with her. Even when Scarecrow obviously escapes and Bruce has to once again give chase, all he can do is think of her, the way he had to leave her after a night of romance to save his city, how he can't quite figure her out.
During his second fight with Scarecrow, we get flashbacks of his time with Jillian, who is good at invading every single nook and cranny of Wayne Manor. When he comes home tired, defeated, Jillian is waiting for him in his bedroom—much to Alfred's chagrin, I might add. When faced with a situation where he might have to use force as Bruce Wayne, Jillian shows him another way, that all that matters is protecting those you love and living your life with them. These things put Batman's mission in doubt. Is he wasting his life saving a city that he feels has never been kind to him when he could be happy and have someone to love? Has he squandered the love he has?
Symbolism runs heavy in this story, as you have to read between the lines to understand how the Scarecrow's gas has affected the Dark Knight this time around. Batman's biggest fear is giving up on his mission, that one day he'll no longer be around to protect his city. Yes, he's going to die one day (we've seen it happen plenty of times), but there is no good death for him. It's tragic that he'll die fighting for his cause, a victory in most eyes, but even that means giving up on tomorrow. On saving one more life. Stopping one more crime. So in this way, as Bruce considers taking a vacation with Jillian and leaving Gotham behind, he is facing his greatest fear.
At one point, Batman has his symbol ripped out of his chest and finds himself trapped in a hedge maze of poisonous thorns, unable to escape, as the walls grow higher between him and Gotham. He hallucinates his wedding day with Jillian, who asks him to finally take off his mask because he has finally made his choice to live as Bruce Wayne. While Batman figures out his escape—he eventually does escape, of course—Alfred has grown more suspicious of Jillian and decides to run a background check on Ms. Maxwell. What he discovers is tragic for Bruce, but also snaps him out of his spell.
Jillian marries wealthy men in order to murder them for their money. Bruce is angered by this revelation, frustrated that he can never have a normal life. He believes he lives without choice, chosen by Gotham to protect it. Batman takes his anger out on Scarecrow. The story concludes with Bruce realizing why he's chosen to live a life unfulfilled in order to fight crime. He knows he's made a choice and that it's the best one he could possibly make.
The second story, "Madness," is a neat trick. A play on Alice in Wonderland, Batman faces off against Mad Hatter, who the Dark Knight considers to be his most disturbing adversary—at least in this story. Hatter, a violent schizophrenic who lives in a fantasy world, affects Batman (and more importantly, Bruce) in a very personal way: the villain has perverted a good memory he has of his mother, specifically when she used to read him Alice in Wonderland as a boy. In fact, Batman considers that remembering his mother at all is dangerous to his mission. It's interesting that the story begins with Bruce thinking a mother's love is a weakness because by the end it proves to be his greatest strength.
As a brilliant parallel, little Barbara (yes, that Barbara), who is Jim Gordon's orphaned niece in this continuity, also plays her part in the story. Like a younger Bruce, Babs wonders if she belongs in her new life with the Gordons. Would she be better off on her own without guardians to care for her? Babs, like Batman, considers pushing that love away.
When both Batman and Babs fall into the Hatter's clutches, they're forced to reconsider letting it all back in. Batman is shot by Hatter and goes "tumbling down the rabbit hole," so to speak. Seriously injured and alone, he is apparently aided by the ghost of his mother in Crime Alley. Of course, it's actually Leslie Thompkins that saves him. Batman recalls the days after the death of his parents—the infamous murder scene is drawn to perfection by Sale, by the way—when Dr. Thompkins arrived at Wayne Manor to comfort him and act as his surrogate parent, along with Alfred.
A beautiful line spoken by Thompkins acts as a refrain throughout the story. In past and present, she asks Bruce to let him in: "I'd like to help you...if you let me." Batman understands that she is a big reason why he was able to go on after his parents' deaths. A mother's love was his guiding light. He uses his newfound strength to save Babs from the Mad Hatter, who's made her his Alice in a sick tea party.
Besides the main bits of the story, there are two other things that will catch the eye. The first is the way Loeb and Sale compare both Gordon and Thomas Wayne as fathers. In separate sections we see Gordon and Thomas express their distaste for baby-ing children. Gordon tries to convince his wife, who's also named Barbara, that she should take their infant son off bottles. (Might've prevented the kid from becoming a serial killer, in retrospect.) Thomas also asks Martha to stop reading Bruce "fancy tales" and also suggests they skip The Mark of Zorro for something "more inspirational." (That might've saved their lives, actually.)
It's interesting to consider how the latter might have affected Bruce's psyche and opinion on weakness. His mother shrugs his father off, telling him she's excited to go see Zorro. Of course, by going to see that movie, they've doomed themselves. Might Bruce be angry at his mother's sympathy for him, at her insistence to show him a fantasy world? The scene cuts to little Bruce asking his mom to please wear her pearls for the occasion...followed by the pearls being ripped from her neck and the muzzle of a gun..."I never saw her again..." Batman narrates to conclude the memory. After that, when Thompkins tries to read him Alice in Wonderland, little Bruce pushes her away, shouting that he doesn't want anybody to help him. An adult Bruce realizes that his entire life has been populated by people who have helped him. He ponders that without the death of his parents, without that fateful night, he would never have met such "a remarkable woman" in Leslie.
We must also quickly consider the Hatter's own obsession with the Queen of Hearts, which runs rampant in this story. In several instances, he is waiting for her or believes to be standing before her (he and Batman get into a fight in the Gotham Playing Card Co. because comics), and he is desperate in his admiration for her. He even hosts a big tea party full of kidnapped children for her. It's a great juxtaposition between a man who wants to forget his mother and a man who is obsessed with his.
In my opinion, "Madness" is the strongest of the three stories, a good play on a classic tale that also provides deeper, unexpected looks into several characters. Loeb and Sale find a unique angle to explore Bruce's relationship with his parents, and that's always impressive when it comes to a character that's been around for over 75 years.
A Serious Man
The third and final Halloween special is a play on Charles Dickens'A Christmas Carol and has a much more clear message than the other two stories. In fact, the message clashes directly with the conclusion of the first story. The ghosts of Batman's past, present, and future arrive on Halloween to show Bruce that living only for Batman and forgetting the good things in life is a mistake. In a way, Loeb and Sale bring their tales full circle in the story fittingly titled "Ghosts."
I will say that this story is the weakest of the three, in part due to its setup. Bruce is attending a charity gala with Lucius Fox when the Penguin attacks. You have to have Batman's most Dickensian villain for this story, after all. While Penguin seemingly kills Bruce during the robbery, Batman shows up to save the day, savagely beating Penguin with his fists. As he captures the Penguin, Batman tells us that "justice must be blind" and that "his decisions cannot be encumbered by one's personal indulgences." So basically, he's about to learn a valuable life lesson, courtesy of his rogues gallery.
Bruce arrives victorious to Wayne Manor but suddenly comes down with what seems like food poisoning. We see him about to eat a gnarly looking shrimp in the opening page of the story, and that puts him down for the count. Yes, this is the story where Batman is temporarily defeated by bad shrimp. I told you I'd be talking about Bruce as a weakness, right?
Whether it's a fever dream or the supernatural, the ghost of Thomas Wayne appears to Bruce (the scene above is rendered expertly by Sale, whose close-up on Thomas' face is quite creepy) to set him on the journey to past, present, and future. His father also expresses regret for his obsession with medicine, which he says was the reason he lost sight of what was really important: the people he loved. Thomas carries heavy chains all over his body as the burdens he brought over from his life into the afterlife. "Your obsession with Batman creates an even greater and more thunderous chain!" Bruce's father warns.
The first ghost takes the form of Poison Ivy, who shows Bruce two moments from his past. He is reminded of one Halloween when he was a boy and his father didn't show up to take him trick-or-treating because of a medical emergency. Little Bruce is determined to wait by the large windows of the mansion until his father returns. "Even if it takes all night." (Interestingly enough, little Bruce is dressed as Zorro for this particular Halloween.) She also shows Bruce the night he met Lucius Fox, who he saved from a group of thugs in Paris. Fox makes him a proposition that Bruce declines—a decision that is in large part the crux of the entire story.
Batman's present is best represented by the Joker's madness, as he shows Bruce how he's shut out the outside world and even turned into a bit of a monster for those on the outside looking in. Bruce and Joker stand on the gates at Wayne Manor, looking down at little trick-or-treaters who are too afraid to enter the grounds because they think the house is haunted. And in a way it is, right? Bruce has allowed nothing but monsters to fill his life and bad memories to live in and under his home. The Joker shows Bruce how he has become an extension of all that.
The final ghost sees Bruce face Death itself, as he's led to his lonely grave in the future. His tombstone is cracked and vines grow thick around it. Only Alfred ever comes to visit. Presumably, Bruce has died in his mission as the Batman. Bruce asks Death, "How was I so easily forgotten?" He understands what his father was trying to tell him all along: "For all the good that Batman does, have I left nothing for myself?"
In the morning, Bruce awakens to set things right. Alfred assumes that he should prepare the Batsuit for another Halloween "fraught" with all sorts of criminal activity," but Bruce suggests things might be different this year. He finds Lucius to take him up on the offer from years ago, establishing the Wayne Foundation "to help the less fortunate." Finally, Bruce decides to stay home on Halloween for once and open his doors to trick-or-treaters.
"Ghosts" serves as a pretty satisfying coda for Loeb and Sale's cycle of stories. Bruce goes full circle, from obsessing over a singular mission to realizing that a life outside of Batman is also worth living. And that's why these are great Bruce stories: Loeb and Sale, as a perfect companion piece to Year One, want Batman to embrace Bruce. They take the obvious symbol of terror (just look at how Sale draws Batman in these stories and in later adventures) out of these Halloween tales to reveal the real fear: the very vulnerable man underneath the cowl.
A version of this article first appeared on October 27, 2015.
Heather Graham entrances ABC with Liane Moriarty’s Hypnotist’s Love Story.
“How do you make a man do something without nagging? That is the billion-dollar question," Liane Moriarty wrote in her novel The Hypnotist’s Love Story. Writing, directing and starring in your own movie might help. Which Heather Graham wrote did for the romantic comedy Half Magic. Graham worked her magic on ABC, which will adapt Moriarty's book into a series, according to Variety.
ABC bought the adaptation as a put pilot. The series is being produced by ABC Studios and David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Laurie Zaks of Mandeville Television. Graham will star, and executive produce the series along with Katie Wech (Star), who will write the series.
Graham will play Ellen O’Farrell, a "professional hypnotherapist who works out of the eccentric beachfront home she inherited from her grandparents," according to the book's official synopsis. "It’s a nice life, except for her tumultuous relationship history. She’s stoic about it, but at this point, Ellen wouldn’t mind a lasting one. When she meets Patrick, she’s optimistic. He’s attractive, single, employed, and best of all, he seems to like her back. Then comes that dreaded moment: He thinks they should have a talk. It turns out that Patrick’s ex-girlfriend is stalking him. Ellen thinks, Actually, that’s kind of interesting. She’s dating someone worth stalking. She’s intrigued by the woman’s motives. In fact, she’d even love to meet her."
Graham has come a long way since she got her License to Drive in her debut film in 1988. Graham is best known for her roles the films Drugstore Cowboy, Boogie Nights, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Fire Walk with Me, The Hangover and Bowfinger. She appeared on the TV series Get Shorty, Twin Peaks, Scrubs, Californication, Law & Order: True Crime, Angie Tribeca and Flaked. Graham was one of the women to speak out against Harvey Weinstein.
Moriarty wrote the best-selling novels The Husband’s Secret, Truly Madly Guilty and Big Little Lies, which was turned into an Emmy-winning series starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman for HBO.
There is no word yet on when The Hypnotist's Love Story will premiere.
Culture Editor Tony Sokol cut his teeth on the wire services and also wrote and produced New York City's Vampyr Theatre and the rock opera AssassiNation: We Killed JFK. Read more of his work here or find him on Twitter @tsokol.
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
We talked to Neil Gaiman and director Douglas Mackinnon about the responsibility of adapting Good Omens after Terry Pratchett's death.
The Good Omens TV show, an adaptation of the beloved novel from Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, is a joyous development for any Good Omens fan... but it's a sad one, too, as Pratchett, who died in 2015, will not be here to see it come to the screen in all of its weird and wonderful glory.
Of course, that doesn't mean Pratchett wasn't a part of the process of finally getting this book the TV show treatment. He was the one who asked Gaiman to do it, shortly before his death. When Pratchett's health declined much faster than anyone expected, Gaiman set to work making the TV show, even though his friend and collaborator would never see it.
"I came back from his funeral and started writing the first episode of Good Omens," Gaiman told Den of Geek and other press gathered at New York Comic Con, "and trying to convince myself that it was funny, and trying to find the funny in what I was doing, and having a very rough time for that very first draft for the first episode."
Gaiman said he missed his friend especially during the writing process.
"There would be two different phenomena going on," he said. "One of which was, if I got stuck, which I did from time to time during the writing process, what I had always done before on Good Omens when I was writing it, if you get stuck you phone Terry. And either, you send him what you've done so far and you send him up to where you got stuck. And he looks at it and carries on liking it, or he phones you up and he says, 'The answer, Grasshopper, is in the way you ask the question.' And you go,'"Terry, don't be irritating. Just tell me what you think.'
For Gaiman, the writing process was an ever-present reminder that he could no longer call up his friend.
"I couldn't do that, and I also couldn't phone him up when I solved the problems and felt very proud of myself and just said something clever," continued Gaiman. "[Because] the other fun bit [of writing Good Omens] was impressing Terry. When you write a book normally, you have kind of an imaginary audience in your head. When you make a TV show you have an imaginary audience in your head. When I wrote my bits of Good Omens, the novel I was writing was for a very specific audience of Terry Pratchett. Could I make him laugh? Could I make him say 'That's a good book'? That was my standard, and I think his was the same for me."
Director Douglas Mackinnon, who is behind the camera for all six episodes of the Good Omens TV show, was Gaiman's partner in bringing this book to the screen.
"I never met Terry, but I felt his presence everyday on the set because the thing we were trying to do was honor the book," said Mackinnon. "It was written by the two of them, so we couldn't do anything else but honor him."
Pratchett is represented in the story, of course, but Mackinnon also made sure that he was represented on the set, including by placing Pratchett's hat in Aziraphale's bookshop. Past that, Mackinnon worked hard to keep himself ignorant about which parts of Good Omens were written by Gaiman and which were written by Pratchett.
"I never asked [Neil] at all who wrote which bits because I didn't want to get... That's kind of Neil's business with Terry and I didn't want to get either sentimental for something that I couldn't ... I didn't want to get confused by that. I just wanted to do the book."
While Gaiman and Pratchett had an agreement that they wouldn't tell anyone which parts they'd each written, there was always one exception each: Gaiman would be able to tell people that he'd written the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the other Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, while Pratchett would be able to tell people that he'd written Agnes Nutter and the death of Agnes Nutter. This affected Gaiman's own priorities when writing and producing the TV show.
"When I wrote the script, it was very important to me that I got to dramatize the whole sequence of the death of Agnes Nutter," said Gaiman. "We had some producers on, early in the show, who didn't quite get the show. And they were like, 'This Agnes Nutter Stuff, can we do it with cutouts, or puppets, or just a voiceover [and woodcuts]? And I was like, 'No, this is Terry's bit, and if I do it with woodcuts and a voiceover, the ghost of Terry Pratchett will haunt me until I die.' And, he was a humanist who didn't even believe in ghosts so it makes it even worse."
Gaiman was happy to say that the Good Omens production got to explode their first witch on Halloween of last year.
Good Omens will premiere on Amazon in 2019.
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!