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Category: Superheroes


Review by C.J. Bunce

Writer Stuart Moore returns this month with a solid follow-up to his multiple superhero-spanning novel Civil War, reviewed here at borg Titan Books has released the tenth book in its Marvel Comics-based series of prose paperback novels, Moore’s Thanos: Death Sentence Originally published in 2017, this is its first paperback release.  If you’re after a story about Thanos, if you love the character and want to know what makes him tick, and the circumstances around wielding that kind of power during the events of Avengers: Infinity War, then Thanos: Death Sentence is for you.  Those familiar with the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Avengers: Infinity War will find no spoilers for the film in this story, and it may just get you excited for the release of Avengers: Endgame in theaters next week.

It’s probably better knowing something about this story before jumping into the dense 336-page novel.  Exciting, brilliant detailed superhero crossover events highlight the novel’s first 100 pages.  In a parallel but different take on Infinity War, readers see Thanos kill off nearly every major superhero in the Marvel universe.  It’s quite fun to read how Moore has Thanos do it, not with a single snap and turn to dust for everyone, but a specific, tailored death sentence for each hero.  Wielding the Soul Stone Spider-Man gets relegated to re-live the death of his uncle through his own inaction, for infinity.  Ben Grimm gets separated into his component stones and dispersed throughout the cosmos.  With the Space Stone Thanos strands Captain Marvel beyond the solar system.  The Silver Surfer, Doctor Strange, Vision, Prince Namor, Black Panther, all snuffed out.  And then it’s all undone.  And that’s only where this story begins.  The method of the undoing is not something that seems remotely possible for the movies–with far more characters introduced than we’re met on the big screen (since the entirety of the films were made before the merger with Fox to wrap in the rest of the Marvel characters).

Once the deaths are undone, Thanos the Mad Titan is forced to fight his way back to power by Mistress Death using the Infinity Wardrobe, pressed into the bodies of tangent characters in the lives of the famed Children of Thanos–his minions seen in Avengers: Infinity War: Proxima Midnight, Ebony Maw, Corvus Glaive, plus his adopted daughter Gamora.

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Crisis in a Half Shell is coming.

Nobody draws a tougher, more badass Batman than Freddie Williams II, and nothing shows that more than a trove of character images released this week from DC Comics and IDW Publishing for the next chapter in the artist’s series with writer James Tynion IV, the epic crossover Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  If you haven’t yet picked up the first two volumes, go out and get Volume One here and Volume Two here (then really dig into Williams’ work in the Director’s Cut here).  Nobody draws a better Batman in these 80 years of cowls and capes than Williams, and nothing will take you back like this series to Kevin Eastman′s first images of those crime fighting turtles introduced 35 years ago.

Thirteen new images by Williams provide a tease into what’s to come next month as Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Crisis in a Half Shell–the title disclosed by Tynion on his Twitter feed Friday–arrives in comic book stores.

  

Yes, that’s Splinter as Alfred.  And the Turtles become a league of Robins: Raphael as Red Hood/Jason Todd, Leonardo as Dick Grayson/Nightwing, Donatello as Red Robin/Tim Drake, and Michelangelo as Damian Wayne.  And it doesn’t stop there.  Williams merged Shredder with the Joker (complete with smiling minion goons, not as the Foot Clan, but the Smile Clan), Rocksteady into Clayface, Bebop into Killer Croc, and DC Comics super villain Anti-Monitor has been fused with TMNT supervillain Krang.

Take a look at these great character designs by Freddie Williams II:

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It’s a twofold celebration:  It’s not only the 80th anniversary of the first appearance of Batman, it’s also the 30th anniversary of director Tim Burton’s visionary film, 1989’s Batman, starring Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, and Kim Basinger.  On this year’s Free Comic Book Day, May 4, Fathom Events has pulled together the first of the four original Warner Brothers Batman movies: Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns, and Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever and Batman and Robin.  The four Bat-films will screen over four days as part of Fathom Events’ Batman 80th anniversary marathon.

My sister and I saw Batman on its opening night in June 1989, and stayed in our seats to watch it again.  The crowd erupted at every scene that revealed something iconic from the comics, but nothing compared to the ovation with the first appearance of the new Batmobile.  The excitement makes sense–audiences hadn’t been dazzled with superheroes on the screen in this way since Christopher Reeve appeared in 1977’s Superman, more than a decade before.  On the heels of Frank Miller’s success with the surprisingly dark and gritty four-issue mini-series The Dark Knight Returns in 1986, it was still a surprise when audiences got their first glimpses at Burton’s similarly dark, Gothic vision for the film.  His choice of then comedic actor Michael Keaton for Bruce Wayne and Batman drew the same kind of ire as any outside-the-box announcement today.  But Keaton was trying to show he had a different side, as demonstrated by his recent dark and outrageous role in Beetlejuice followed by his dramatic film Clean and Sober.  As for Jack Nicholson, everyone just wanted to seem him play the role his smile was made for, as the crazed, maniacal, murderous jokester The Joker.

So if you missed them the first time, you get Danny Elfman′s defining theme, plus Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, and George Clooney as Batman, Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl, Chris O’Donnell as Robin, plus an arsenal of villains: Jack Nicholson as The Joker plus Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, Danny DeVito as The Penguin, Jim Carrey as The Riddler, Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face, Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy, and Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze.  And all four movies have in common Michael Gough as Alfred and Pat Hingle as Commissioner Gordon.

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Remember how epic the “ultimate” eleven-movie Marvel marathon sounded back in 2015, or the 20-movie Marvel film festival last year where participating theaters screened only four movies per day?  Yeah, not so much after this next marathon arrives.

At only three theaters (so far?) AMC Lincoln Square 13 (New York), AMC River East 21 (Illinois) and AMC Metreon 16 (California), fans will have the opportunity to experience a movie marathon like no other–AMC and Marvel Studios’ 22 Movie Marathon.  Beginning Tuesday, April 23, this marathon has it all: Watch all 21 films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe all leading up to and including the latest, film #22, Avengers: Endgame.

We have no doubt that this will quickly sell out in any theater they decide to hold it.  This is how good the franchise is, how much the best Marvel Cinematic Universe movies outweigh the worst, how crazy and devoted Marvel fans are, and how epic this could be.

The event will include marathon-only collectibles, and some sort of to-be-determined concessions offer.  Plus Avengers: Endgame will be screened at 5 p.m. local time April 25, about 55 hours after Iron Man begins on April 23, and one hour earlier than regular public show times.  Do you have what it takes to survive 58 hours in a theater?

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In marked contrast to the fun, fantastic, and surprising Warner Brothers release Shazam!, finally arriving in theaters in general release today and reviewed previously here at borg, film fans now have their first look at Warner Brothers’ fall release, Joker For a franchise from the same superhero universe, you couldn’t find a most strikingly dissimilar pair of films, if the first trailer for Joker is any indication of the rest of the film.  Joaquin Phoenix is stepping in this time to fill the role previously played by Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, Jared Leto, Cameron Monaghan, and even Mark Hamill in animated versions, and countless others.  This time the character is named Arthur Fleck, so we don’t know whether this is truly the same as the other Jokers or just some parallel world incarnation of the larger-than-life, psychotic, clown villain who became a household word for TV audiences as portrayed by Cesar Romero in the 1960s.

If audiences and fans of DC Comics and DC movies know one character inside and out, it’s the Joker.  So why another movie with the Joker, and more to the point, why another origin story?  Phoenix, the multiple Academy Award-nominated actor from Gladiator, Walk the Line, and The Master, digs in with great, nuanced skill in all of his roles, and Joker will no doubt be any different.  So if you’re still a fan of the dozen recent dark visions into the superhero universe of DC Comics, Phoenix probably is a solid casting choice.  But can you really have a major Joker tale without Batman?  What about all that “creating each other” business?  The market certainly seems saturated with dark comics adaptations and we’re hoping Shazam! will grab audiences so we see more superhero films like it and The Lego Batman Movie ahead, or DC could split the difference and mine the Marvel Cinematic Universe for some fresh ideas.  But first, it’s going to be a Joker tale later this year.

Check it out for yourself, the first trailer for Joker:

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Hot on the heels of DC Comics’ big Detective Comics #1000 event last Wednesday, Marvel Comics is stepping in today with its next onslaught of variant covers.  It’s for The War of the Realms, a storyline written by Jason Aaron with art by Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson, a Thor-centric event, bringing in the entire pantheon of superheroes from Marvel, the ten realms, assassination plots, and the fate of Earth hanging in the balance.  As Marvel boasts, “no corner of the Marvel Universe will be untouched.”  It even comes with its own theme song.

This is also your typical Marvel Comics multi-series crossover, with tie-in stories twined through several monthlies, like Journey Into Mystery, New Agents of Atlas, Giant-Man, Amazing Spider-Man, Daredevil, Punisher, Uncanny X-Men, and Venom, plus Asgardians of the Galaxy, Avengers, Thor, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Champions, Fantastic Four, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Captain Marvel, Deadpool, Superior Spider-Man, Tony Stark, Iron Man, Spider-Man and the League of the Realms, plus War Scrolls and War of the Realms Strikeforce.  That’s a big, twisty storyline ahead for Marvel readers.

The War of the Realms variant covers are on their way with regularly available covers by Arthur Adams, J. Scott Campbell, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Frank Cho, John Tyler Christopher, Oliver Coipel, Amanda Conner, Russell Dauterman (wraparound), Adi Granov, Ron Lim, Nexon, Ryan Ottley, Pyeong Jun Park, George Perez, and Rodney Ramos (international connecting variant with next five issues).  A 1 in 10 variant by Russell Dauterman and Greg Horn, a 1 in 25 variant by Victor Hugo, 1 in 50 variants by Sana Takeda and Joe Quesada, a 1 in 100 virgin variant by Quesada, a 1 in 200 variant by Walt Simonson, and a 1 in 500 black and white Simonson cover.  Plus a blank sketch cover, and retailer incentive covers based on other purchases and store exclusives by Arthur Adams, Amanda Conner, Clayton Crain (trade, virgin) (Frankie’s), Gabriele Dell’Otto, Mike McKone (The Comics Mint) and Skan Srisuwan (Midtown).

That’s 31 in all.

Check them out:
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Review by C.J. Bunce

I reviewed the first issue of Dynamite Comics new series Obey Me last month.  It was actually labeled Issue #0, although I’m not sure why.  Tomorrow Dynamite Comics releases Issue #1, a continuation of the series.  I loved the first, zero issue.  Check out my review here if you missed it.  So does the next issue fare as well?

Absolutely.

I was surprised the series is video game tie-in–it comes from the Obey Me PC/console game from Error 404 Game Studios.  The story is playing out as a solid supernatural fantasy, with superb writing by Mario Mentasti, artwork by Ben Herrera, and eye-popping colors by Emmanuel Ordaz Torres.  Each issue is a chapter you don’t want to end, following a badass super(natural)hero team of Vanessa and Monty, a girl and her dog.  Of course, she isn’t the typical girl and he isn’t the typical dog.  Vanessa is a bounty hunter tasked with hunting down souls contracted to the devil, and Monty is the hound assigned as her partner.  Only in their next case readers will learn even more about Monty’s potential.

 

As with its first issue, look forward to some amped-up action and dialogue that will be loads of fun for mature readers.  It’s quickly becoming a favorite from this year’s comic book releases.

Take a look at this preview of Obey Me, Issue #1, courtesy of Dynamite Comics:

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Happy April!

Planet Comicon Kansas City wrapped its 2019 convention yesterday, another great show this time highlighting the event’s 20th anniversary.  We snapped several photographs of sights we’re sharing today as we wind down our coverage of this year’s show.


I snapped some photographs of a family in front of this great fire-breathing dragon.  Whenever I see a person taking photos of their family I offer to step in so everyone can be included.  How many people have photos of everyone in them except their mom?  This was another success.

We also caught up with several authors at the show, including…

… our pal Jason Arnett, writing and signing his books Evolver and A Map of the Problem.

And we met up with Geoff Habiger and Coy Kissee, enjoying their second year at the event, highlighting their books Wrath of the Fury Blade and Unremarkable.

As usual, there were lots of cosplayers at the show, especially compared to the first years of the show back in the 1990s when cosplay was a rarity.


Hard to beat this great Darkwing Duck.


This was a fantastic, fully lit-up Ghost Rider.

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As expected Saturday at Planet Comicon Kansas City 2019 meant a great turnout for the annual convention, with tens of thousands of fans from the Midwest converging on the Kansas City Convention Center after a day of rain and morning of surprise March snowfall to meet their favorite celebrity and creator guests from years past and today.  Each year the event gets bigger, and for the show’s 20th anniversary that also meant better, with a host of comic book creators whose names any comic book reader of the past 50 years should recognize.


Creator of dozens of characters including Rogue, Mystique, Phoenix, Emma Frost, Legion, Gambit, and Captain Britain, and whose books include a long run on Uncanny X-Men, including the popular story arcs The Dark Phoenix Saga and Days of Future Past, adapted into X-Men: Days of Future Past, multiple X-Men movies, and this summer’s coming film Dark Phoenix, writer Chris Claremont was on-hand signing his books for fans.


Artist Denys Cowan studied under the late comics legend Rich Buckler (a previous Planet Comicon guest) and went on himself to become one of the biggest names in comics, drawing issues of several great series from both DC Comics and Marvel Comics including runs on three of my favorites from the 1980s, Green Arrow, Batman, and The Question.  He was signing books and selling prints of some of his best-known work.


Jim Starlin is a well-known writer/artist and creator of Thanos, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, the Master of Kung Fu, and his classic books include Batman: The Cult, Batman: A Death in the Family, and Cosmic Odyssey. This weekend he signed autographs for a long line of fans.


Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez began in comics illustrating books for Charlton Comics and then became one of the longest running names associated with DC Comics, where he drew major issues of Superman, Action Comics, The Brave and the Bold, Detective Comics, and later, the pop culture favorite Atari Force.  He signed comics and had prints of his work on hand for his fans.


Most of us knew him from the single word that graced many of his unique and futuristic comic book covers–Steranko.  Pretty much nobody has been making comics longer.  Here Jim Steranko chats with a fan at his booth in Artists’ Alley.  More recently he’s known for his nostalgic recollections he shares with fans in his many near book-length tweets on Twitter.

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Lines for Friday guests started early on the opening day of Planet Comicon Kansas City 2019.  Today is expected to be the biggest day of this year’s show, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary.  The event is open today and tomorrow at the Kansas City Convention Center.  A big plus for the tens of thousands of parkers today: no NCAA Final Four game is scheduled today, so parking east of the convention center should be freed up for the convention’s annual biggest attended day.

In part because of the 20th anniversary, and because of the great slate of celebrity and creator guests this year, Comicon Friday by all counts seemed to be better attended than a typical Friday at a pop culture convention.  That didn’t stop us from tracking down some actors from TV and film.

Like Henry Winkler, visiting Kansas City this weekend with his lovely wife of 41 years, Stacey.  Winkler, who became a household name in the 1970s and 1980s as Fonzie on Happy Days and as co-star of Night Shift (followed by more than a hundred starring and guest-starring roles in TV and film since), never sat down, graciously greeting everyone who stood in line to meet him, he chatted with adoring fans, signing autographs, and posing with fans for photographs.

John Wesley Shipp became a familiar face in the 1980s on Guiding Light, and then became the star of the first modern superhero TV series in 1990, portraying Barry Allen on The Flash.  He went on to star and co-star on several series over the past 30 years and has a legion of fans on social media.  Most recently fans of the superhero genre saw him portray not only the father of Barry Allen on the CW’s The Flash, Shipp also returned as the Flash that he portrayed in 1990 in the new series last season–fulfilling the dream of those who loved the original show.

We enjoyed talking about his favorite character as a kid (he wanted to be Luke), the weight of a crossbow, and what it felt like to be one of the most beloved characters in the history of film with Finnish actor Joonas Suotamo, who played Chewbacca in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Solo: A Star Wars Story, and the upcoming Star Wars: Episode IX.  No matter how tall you think Chewbacca is, in person, he’s much, much taller.

This weekend visitors also can meet, from film and TV, William Shatner, Lori Petty, Cary Elwes, Dean Cain, Linda Blair, Jennifer Morrison, Daniella Panabaker, Mark Pellegrino, Chris Sarandon, Wallace Shawn, Bonnie Wright, and James and Oliver Phelps. Check out the entire line-up of celebrity guests and great creator guests like Chris Claremont, Jim Steranko, Jim Starlin, Denys Cowan, Kevin Eastman, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Keith Giffen, Bob McLeod, at the PCKC website here.

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