News

Every now and then there will be something in the news about superheroes or other geeky topics that I just have to pass on. That'll be covered here.

“I Didn’t Get Small… The Pictures Got… Oh, Wait…” Marvel’s Ant-Man: Review

Antman_posterby Aaron Einhorn 
The Marvel Movie machine rumbles on as they bring us the biggest tiny heroes to the screen. The saga of bringing Ant-Man to the big screen is kind of a fascinating one. Originally, this was to be the second of Marvel’s self-produced films. Edgar Wright, of Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead fame was to write and direct the tale, on the heels of Iron Man. This was before there was any idea of such a thing as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the interconnected world of superhero films based on Marvel comics. Due to one delay or another, Ant-Man kept being delayed, and as such, the need to rework the film to fit into the greater MCU arose, and eventually Edgar Wright and Marvel parted ways (although Wright has kept both a writing and a producing credit on the film).

What this means is that we have a very different Ant-Man then we would have had Wright made his film, but we also have one that was set to tie in to the greater narrative that Marvel and Disney have been crafting.

But does it work? That’s the big question. Read on.

Synopsis

The next evolution of the Marvel Cinematic Universe brings a founding member of The Avengers to the big screen for the first time with Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man. Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, master thief Scott Lang must embrace his inner-hero and help his mentor, Doctor Hank Pym, protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.

Marvel’s Ant-Man stars Paul Rudd as Scott Lang aka Ant-Man, Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne, Corey Stoll as Darren Cross aka Yellowjacket, Bobby Cannavale as Paxton, Michael Peña as Luis, Judy Greer as Maggie, Tip “Ti” Harris as Dave, David Dastmalchian as Kurt, Wood Harris as Gale, Jordi Mollà as Castillo and Michael Douglas as Hank Pym.

Peyton Reed directs Marvel’s Ant-Man with Kevin Feige producing and Louis D’Esposito, Alan Fine, Victoria Alonso, Michael Grillo, Edgar Wright and Stan Lee serving as executive producers. Marvel’s Ant-Man delivers a high-stakes, tension-filled adventure on July 17, 2015.
(from Marvel.com/movies)

Antman_004The Feature

There were a lot of interesting creative choices to be made in this film, beginning with the decision to use a Hank Pym who is more a contemporary of Howard Stark than Tony, whose superhero career (alongside his wife, Janet Van Dyne) started in the 1970s and ended in the late 1980s. In the present, set to become an Avenger alongside Captain America, Iron Man and Thor, we will see not Pym and Van Dyne as Ant-Man and the Wasp, but instead Scott Lang taking on the mantle.

It’s a curious choice from the point of view of a comic fan, but from the perspective of a film fan, it does give us an Ant-Man who is not a genius scientist, which frankly the Avengers will already full of. And the good news is that Paul Rudd is amazingly charming as Scott Lang.

As Lang, Rudd gives us a character who is motivated not by wealth or power, not by guilt or a strong sense of moral fiber, but is instead by a drive to try to not let innocent people be hurt while sticking it to the “Man”, and simultaneously driven by the need to provide for his daughter. In fact, the thing that unites Lang and Pym more than their shared mantle as Ant-Man is the need for a father to connect with and protect their daughter, while being completely unsure of how to do that. Being an ex-con, convicted for stealing from Lang’s former employer, Lang is unable to find a legal job to prove his responsibility and get access to his daughter again, and a heist gone wrong proves to Pym that Lang is the man he needs to be his successor.

Antman_005Pym, played fantastically by Michael Douglas, is an older man, driven by the desire to protect the world from his Pym Particles being used by the wrong person. After all, a two-inch high assassin with the strength fifty times that of a normal man would be nigh-unstoppable. Pym’s former protégé, Darren Cross, has spent years trying to unlock the secrets of the Pym Particles, and is finally on the verge of both using the formula and unleashing his armored, flying, “Yellowjacket” suit. Pym’s daughter, Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lily) is working for Cross while secretly still aligning herself with her father. Hope is everything the daughter of a superhero could hope for – brilliant, driven, a skilled fighter, and capable of the mental discipline needed to control an army of ants – but for reasons unknown to her, her father doesn’t want her wearing the Ant-Man suit.

Along the way, we meet Lang’s former cellmate and other criminal compadres, who end up assisting Lang and Pym in their crusade against Cross; and experience the drama surrounding Lang’s ex-wife Maggie, daughter Cassie, and Maggie’s fiancée Paxton (who also happens to be a cop).

The entire film is fun and moves along briskly to the climax where Ant-Man and Yellowjacket fight for both control of the Pym Particles and for the safety of Lang’s family, and ends with a set-up to see Ant-Man in the next films in Marvel’s Phase Three of Films.

Antman_006The Good

The casting is spot on in this film, with Rudd, Lily and Douglas especially standing out. The action is solid, the dialogue is sprinkle with quick one-liners, and the effects are superb. This is a very solid entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and seeing the different cast members introduced here in future films will be very welcome.

Antman_003The Bad

Cross is one of the least interesting villains to enter into the realm of the MCU. He’s almost exactly a carbon copy of Obadiah Stane from Iron Man, and lacks all of the nuance and interest we’ve found in Loki, the Winter Soldier or Ultron. He’s not awful – but he definitely represents a step back.

Antman_002The Ugly

The remnants of Wright’s script are still visible, sometimes in awkward places. There are lines that feel like they were directly lifted from his pen in scenes that otherwise seem like they were completely reworked, and beats in the script that would have worked in a film that was more consistently marked by Wright’s style, but which stuck out like a sore thumb on their own.

Final Thoughts

I would have loved to see what Edgar Wright wanted to do with Ant-Man, but the truth is that once the Marvel Cinematic Universe became a thing, that was never going to happen. Wright is at his heart an independent film-maker, and being forced to rework his script to coincide with events that happened in other films, and to set up future films, was always going to be something he fought against – and Marvel has made it very clear that no creative talent is more important than their overall vision of the MCU. No actor, no director, no producer is more important than the whole (with the possible exception of Robert Downey Jr), and it is probably better to see Peyton Reed directing Ant-Man than to see Wright’s version of the film being hamstrung by Marvel’s requirements.

That said, as someone who is a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I think that this film is ultimately more satisfying than a stand-alone, Edgar Wright-driven Ant-Man like we might have gotten back in 2008. It’s a very solid middle entry into the overall saga of the MCU, and is probably at the right level of “everything changes” drama to be a good palate cleaner between Age of Ultron and Civil War. Scott Lang brings a different kind of personality, background and skills to the Avengers than we’ve seen in any of their other members, and this film is perhaps the perfect example of a popcorn film.

The one complaint I have was that it was remarkably predictable. There are tiny little moments that surprised me, but overall, there were no big twists to the film. It was enjoyable, but nothing hit me with the kind of “Wow, did not see that coming,” that I’ve experienced in most of the Marvel films. On the other hand, if I wasn’t surprised by anything in the film, I suspect the reviewability of the movie will be high, since my enjoyment wasn’t based on being surprised – something I’ll find out when I take the girls to see Ant-Man this weekend.

Ant-Man is a very solid superhero film, and if we hadn’t already seen almost all of the elements of the formula that made the movie already, I’d have been thoroughly wowed. Instead, I found myself thinking that there wasn’t a lot new to find here (other than the father-daughter relationships being the driving force of the film), but that it was still a perfectly enjoyable way to spend a few hours. And it’s not like superhero tales don’t all have a certain degree of similarity to begin with, but I still read comics each week. If I’m willing to buy six to ten comics each week that all have elements I’ve seen before, I can certainly afford to spend the money to watch a superhero film that has elements I’ve seen before. And I was happy to do so.

Antman_001Bonus

Stan Lee makes his requisite cameo, and true to form, it’s a pretty darn funny one. Also as we’ve grown to expect (grown… because Ant-Man shrinks… get it?), there is a mid-credits stinger scene that addresses the question that has been on the minds of all of us ever since Ant-Man was mentioned as coming to cinemas – when do we get to see the Wasp? Finally, stick around all the way to the end credits for a sneak peek look at Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War.

(Disclaimer: I was provided a free preview pass screening to attend Marvel’s Ant-Man. I received no other compensation for writing this review, and all opinions and views expressed are my own.

Maleficent – Trailer From Equestria

by Aaron Einhorn
So, I’m a brony. I don’t hide this. But this should amuse any of my My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic or any fans of Disney.

Check out this parody of the trailer for Disney’s Maleficent, done using Discord and Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony.

EDITED: Why The Fantastic Four Reboot May Be Approaching Race and Gender All Wrong

by Aaron Einhorn
EDIT: Josh Trank has taken to Twitter to debunk the idea of a female Doctor Doom. Of course, directors have been known to lie in interviews.

Big news out of the superhero film and television casting arena this past week, with much of it focusing on Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot, and the CW’s Flash TV pilot. And it shows us where we, as comic fans, have fallen dreadfully behind on the whole idea of gender and racial equality.

To be frank, comics are dominated by straight, white men doing heroic deeds. This isn’t to say there aren’t women, people of other ethnicities and members of the LGBT community to be found in the pages of our superheroic funnybooks, but for the most part, it’s a whole lot of straight, white dudes.

The superhero costumed charity group I’m a part of has broken down characters into tiers, based on popularity and recognizability of the characters. Our “A” tier consists of Superman, Supergirl Batman, Wonder Woman and Spider-Man (and possibly Robin) – and it’s hard to argue that these characters aren’t the most well-known superheroes to American audiences. Our “B” tier consists of characters who are recognizable typically due to their supporting roles alongside the A-List heroes (so, the more popular Justice League members), have seen a swell of popularity (the characters who have appeared in Marvel’s Cinematic universe), or are a part of a recent and successful television series. Also, “family” members that share a chest emblem with the A-List characters.

So, between the A and B tiers, you basically have Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl and Black Widow to represent women. And you have (maybe) John Stewart Green Lantern, Nick Fury and Cyborg to represent people of color. You get a few more women and Storm in there if you include the X-Men in the B-Tier.

In other words, there clearly needs to be more done to bring female characters and non-white characters to the forefront. And in general, I am all for that. This also means that I have no problem when a casting director wants to change the gender or racial make-up of a character – most of the time.

You want to make Perry White into Lawrence Fishburn? Go for it. Jimmy Olsen becomes Jenny? Sure, why not? Nick Fury transforms from David Hasselhoff into Samuel L. Jackson? I think most of us consider this an enhancement. And if Heimdall needs to be played by Idris Elba, then the rest of us are grateful for that.

candice_patton_headshotSo, in an example of “doing it right,” I was more than happy to see that the CW has cast Candice Patton in The Flash as Iris West. Fans of the comic know that Iris ultimately ends up marrying Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), so if the pilot goes well, we can expect to see her for some time.

In case you haven’t picked up on it from the photo, Ms. Patton is bi-racial, being born to an African-American mother and a Caucasian father. She also happens to be gorgeous, and has a long enough filmography to be regarded as a serious actress.

I haven’t seen any of her previous work, so I can’t comment on her ability directly. But I can say that she certainly seems qualified, she’s good-looking enough to easily attract an audience on TV, and other than how it potentially affects the racial makeup of Wally West (who becomes Kid Flash, and eventually replaces Barry in the comics), I don’t see how changing her ethnicity from being a white woman into a woman of mixed racial identity affects the core of the character.

(I do have friends who have pointed out that potentially changing Wally’s parentage, when Wally was specifically raised by a conservative white couple could be problematic. But on the other hand, I have many doubts about this show ever lasting long enough for Wally to even appear, so I’m not overly concerned.)

All in all, I’m still looking forward to The Flash. Grant Gustin charmed me as Barry Allen when he appeared on Arrow, and I’m ready to see more. The casting of Candice Patton is a welcome addition, in my opinion.

michael_b_jordan_headshot_1Now, in a case of “getting it wrong,” we need look no further than Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot. Josh Trank (who directed Chronicle, the very well-received and critically regarded not-quite-superhero film) has been tapped to direct the film. So far, the only confirmed casting is Michael B. Jordan (who also appeared in Chronicle), who is attached as Johnny Storm/The Human Torch.

Now, I’ve got no problems with this casting, in and of itself. Because there’s no reason that a 2014 version of Johnny Storm can’t be black, while still retaining every element of his personality that makes him that character. And Michael Jordan is a very talented and skilled actor – I loved him in Chronicle, and quite enjoyed his (all-too-brief) appearance on NBC’s Parenthood.

So, seriously, the idea of making him Johnny Storm? I am entirely behind that. I think it’ll be great, and a welcome opportunity to take a character who has always been white in the comics, change his race, and add some much-needed diversity to the superheroic line-up. And it’s not like all of the existing comics, movies, TV shows and films where the Human Torch is a white kid are suddenly going to be winked out of existence because of this movie.

Bring on Michael Jordan as the Human Torch!

But here are the actresses that, according to The Hollywood Reporter, are currently in the running for Sue Storm.

Emmy Rossum

Emmy Rossum

Kate Mara

Kate Mara

Emmy Rossum and Kate Mara are both fine actresses, and I wouldn’t be adverse to seeing either of them as Sue Storm. But they aren’t black.

If you want to cast Michael Jordan as Johnny, then you should cast a black actress as Sue. If you want to cast Emmy Rossum or Kate Mara as Sue, then you should cast a black actor as Johnny. While it’s possible that you could include a throw-away line about them being adopted siblings into the script, it seems counter-intuitive.

Racially-blind casting is great, but you need to be consistent about it. And just in case I’m unclear on my position, I would be happy to see a black actress cast as Sue, and fairly upset to see Michael Jordan kicked out of his role as Johnny.

(And here is where someone will bring up the fact that, in Thor, Idris Elba and Jaime Alexander don’t look like natural born siblings. But the fact that Sif and Heimdall are brother and sister was never brought up in that movie, and really isn’t essential to the film. I’m not even entirely certain we ever see the two of them directly interact. But the sibling relationship between Johnny and Sue is integral to these characters.)

(Incidentally, if Fox did defy expectations and cast a black actress as Sue, I would be all the happier to see the relationship develop between Reed and Sue, and would, in fact, be eager to see the franchise succeed so that we eventually had a bi-racial Franklin Richards. Because if there was ever a time to make the most powerful mutant born in the Marvel Universe into a bi-racial kid, it’s now.)

Fox is also looking at Miles Teller for Reed Richards, and possibly Christian Cook for Ben Grimm. Aside from the fact that these two actors are both roughly the same ages as the actors being looked at for Johnny and Sue, I don’t have much to say about that particular bit of casting, which strikes me as wrong.

But here’s the quote that gets to me.

Dr. Doom is said to be the villain of the reboot (the character appeared in Fox’s two previous movies and was played by Julian McMahon). The Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision is hearing that the studio is likely to go for a big name and isn’t ruling out switching genders for the role.

A female villain is a great idea. An absolutely fantastic idea, in fact. And to be honest, there is absolutely no reason that the relationship between Reed Richards and Victor Von Doom couldn’t be just as well captured if they made Victor into Victoria.

Cosplayer: Constantine In Tokyo  Photographed by: JwaiDesign

Cosplayer: Constantine In Tokyo
Photographed by: JwaiDesign

But… I don’t have any faith that they’ll do that right. Years of experience with Hollywood have taught me that there will be some element of jilted romance between Reed and “Victoria,” and all of the things that we love about Doctor Doom will end up coming off as nothing more than her being “a woman scorned.”

I can’t help but feel like Fox isn’t really interested in making a Fantastic Four movie. They want to make a film about four young-adult superheroes and their nemesis, and they want the marketing power that comes with the name. But they clearly aren’t interested in exploring the thing that makes the FF who they are – namely the family dynamic. And that’s ok – because as Disney/Pixar showed us with The Incredibles, you can create a great movie that is inspired by the FF without making it about them.

But money, oh you cynical beast, money. Fox isn’t going to let go of a multi-million dollar license and let it back into the hands of Marvel, even though integrating the Fantastic Four with Marvel’s existing cinematic universe would be awesome. So, they’ll push on with their film, and when it fails, they’ll say “I guess you can’t make a good movie about the Fantastic Four,” and shelve the property.

Until the license is up for renewal again…

EDITED TO ADD:
Josh Trank has taken to Twitter to debunk The Hollywood Reporter‘s article, writing:

The THR gender speculation is also bullshit. Next.

Of course, it’s worth noting that Directors and Studios have been known to lie to discredit advance news. It’s also worth noting that the original article never said that Doom would be a female, just that the studio was open to the possibility.

Still, I think it’s safe to say that, for the moment, the idea of Doom being a woman, should be taken with a tablespoon-sized dose of salt.

(Credits: Deadline, The Hollywood Reporter, Jwai Design Photography, and Constantine in Tokyo)

Marvel Brings New Warriors Back!

New_Warriors_1_Coverby Aaron Einhorn
I have always been a sucker for “teen hero” books. Teen Titans, Young Avengers, New Mutants, Power Pack, All-New X-Men – you name a teen title that has been released by Marvel or DC, and I’ve probably read at least a few issues of it (with the exception of some of the X-books when I wasn’t reading any of them).

But my favorite has probably always been New Warriors. Probably because of Speedball, but the entire original team just enthralled me. I’ve always liked Nova, Vance Astro (by whatever name), and Firestar, and the new members who joined the team over the years kept me just as engaged. I was deeply saddened when the title went away, and was deeply distressed when the precipitating events for Civil War were the fault of Speedball and crew.

So hearing that they’re coming back fills me with utter and complete joy.

What I’m most looking forward to (besides the fact that I think the creative team of Christopher Yost and Marcus To is just superb), is the team line-up.

Coming back to the team are Justice and Speedball – two characters who have undergone a lot of evolution since their original days with the team. We also have both Nova and Scarlet Spider coming into the team – but the Nova is the much more inexperienced Sam instead of Rich Ryder, and the Scarlet Spider isn’t the friendly Ben Reilly, but is instead Peter Parker’s clone, Kaine (which does make me question the quote about the team being made of “idealists,” but then it’s possible that Kaine has mellowed out in the pages of his solo title.)

As for the new characters of Sun Girl and Hummingbird – well, I don’t know anything about them, but from their names, there are some interesting parallels between them and original team members Firestar and Namora.

This is absolutely on my “must-buy” list.

Marvel’s press release regarding the announcement follows, along with some covers and interior pages from issue #1.

New Faces. New Threats – Your First Look at New Warriors #1

Witness the next generation of the Marvel Universe this February in New Warriors #1 – an all-new action packed ongoing series from blockbuster writer Christopher Yost and red-hot artist Marcus To! New Warriors mainstays Speedball and Justice are getting the band back together with a new team of heroes the likes of which you’ve never seen before!

“They’re eight people from different corners of the Marvel Universe, coming together to do the right thing, to be heroes,” says writer Christopher Yost, in an interview with Marvel.com. “They’re not kids, they’re not seasoned heroes for the most part, but they’re idealists. Sometime it’s okay to be a hero for the sake of being a hero; to be with a team because they’re your friends, because it’s fun.”

“Sometimes the world just needs saving,” continued Yost.

Evolution has gone off the rails. There are super humans, mutants, Inhumans, clones, aliens, and more everywhere you turn. Humanity no longer exists as the dominant life form on the planet. And not everyone is pleased! The High Evolutionary has raised an army to combat these “superior” beings – through complete extermination!

Now, Speedball, Justice, Nova, Scarlet Spider, Sun Girl, Hummingbird and more must stand together against the rising tide. Don’t miss a fresh start for the heroes of tomorrow this February in the exciting New Warriors #1!

New Warriors #1
Written by CHRISTOPHER YOST
Art & Cover by MARCUS TO
Variant Covers by J. SCOTT CAMPBELL, SKOTTIE YOUNG, and CHRIS SAMNEE
FOC –01/27/14 On-Sale -02/19/14

New Warriors #1 Cover

New Warriors #1 Cover

New Warriors #1 Cover - Campbell Variant

New Warriors #1 Cover – Campbell Variant

New Warriors #1 Cover - Young Variant

New Warriors #1 Cover – Young Variant

New Warriors #1 Cover - Sanbee Animal Variant

New Warriors #1 Cover – Sanbee Animal Variant

New Warriors #1 Pg. 01

New Warriors #1 Pg. 01

New Warriors #1 Pg. 02

New Warriors #1 Pg. 02

New Warriors #1 Pg. 03

New Warriors #1 Pg. 03

We Knew It Was Coming… Marvel to Take Over Publishing Star Wars Comics in 2015

Star_Wars_Logoby Aaron Einhorn
A year ago, The Walt Disney Company acquired the rights to George Lucas’s Star Wars (along with all of Lucasfilm, including film, television, video games, etc.) And immediately fans began to wonder what this meant for Dark Horse’s licensed Star Wars comics. Surely Disney wasn’t going to want to leave their very profitable franchise in the hands of another comic publisher?

Well, now we know that, in fact, they don’t. Beginning in 2015, the Star Wars license will go to Marvel from Dark Horse Comics.

There’s a little bit of “returning to our roots” with this move. Marvel published the first Star Wars comic in March of 1977, and kept publishing comics set in that universe for another nine years, until 1986 (a few years after Return of the Jedi), including kids’ comics based on the Droids and Ewoks cartoons under Marvel’s Star Comics imprint. Those comics are still looked back on fondly by many older fans, and elements of those comics are still considered to be “in-continuity” with the other works of the Expanded Universe. And, in fact, several collections of the old Marvel comics have been reprinted by Dark Horse Comics.

Dark Horse acquired the license in 1991, and has retained it ever since. In that time, they’ve published dozens of different Star Wars comics series, with stories that range from the days of the Old Republic, to stories occurring within the confines of both the Original Trilogy and the Prequel trilogy, to stories taking place shortly after Jedi, and all the way to the far future post-Jedi.

The nice part about this news (unlike the news of the end of Cartoon Network’s Clone Wars) is that we have a year between this announcement and the time that Marvel will start publishing new Star Wars comics. Hopefully this will give Dark Horse and the creators involved time to wrap up their respective Star Wars series.

Marvel’s press release regarding the announcement follows, along with a statement from Dark Horse Comic’s Mike Richardson.

From Marvel:

DISNEY’S LUCASFILM AND MARVEL ENTERTAINMENT JOIN FORCES TO PUBLISH STAR WARS™COMICS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS

Jedi, Sith, and the rest of the Star Wars Universe Come to Marvel Comics in 2015

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (January 3, 2014) – The Walt Disney Company’s Lucasfilm Ltd. and Marvel Entertainment are joining forces to bring new Star Wars adventures to readers across the galaxy, with Marvel granted exclusive rights to create and publish Star Wars comics and graphic novels beginning in 2015.

The agreement marks a homecoming for the Star Wars comic books. Marvel Comics published the first Star Wars comic book, Star Wars#1, in March 1977, which went on to sell more than 1 million copies. Marvel Comics published its Star Wars series for nine years. In 1991, Dark Horse Comics took over the license, publishing fan-favorite titles like Dark Empire and Star Wars: Legacy. Last year, Dark Horse released The Star Wars #1, an adaptation of George Lucas’ original rough-draft screenplay for the film, garnering rave reviews and national media attention and ranking among the top-selling Star Wars comics of all time.

“Dark Horse Comics published exceptional Star Wars comics for over 20 years, and we will always be grateful for their enormous contributions to the mythos, and the terrific partnership that we had,” said Carol Roeder, director of Lucasfilm franchise publishing, Disney Publishing Worldwide. “In 2015, the cosmic adventures of Luke, Han, Leia and Chewbacca will make the lightspeed jump back to Marvel, to begin a new age of adventures within the Star Wars universe.”

“We here at Marvel could not be more excited to continue the publication of Star Wars comic books and graphic novels,” said Marvel Worldwide Publisher and President, Dan Buckley. “The perennial brand of Star Wars is one of the most iconic in entertainment history and we are honored to have the opportunity to bring our creative talent pool to continue, and expand Star Wars into galaxies far, far away.”

“We’re incredibly excited by this next chapter in the Star Wars saga,” said Andrew B. Sugerman, executive vice president of Disney Publishing Worldwide. “Bringing together the iconic Lucasfilm and Marvel brands to tell new stories will allow us to continue to thrill lovers of the original Star Wars comic books and entertain generations to come.”

Marvel has continued to push comic book publishing forward with innovations and experiments like motion comics and digital-only releases, in addition to its deep, ongoing catalog of monthly series and graphic novels created by some of the industry’s most gifted artists and writers.

From Dark Horse Comics:

THE END OF AN ERA

All things come to pass. So too, do all licensed deals. I am sad to report that Disney, the new owner of Lucasfilm, has notified us here at Dark Horse of their intention to move the Star Wars publishing license to another of their recent acquisitions, Marvel Comics, beginning in 2015. This will end a partnership that has lasted more than two decades.

For those who are new to the industry, Dark Horse revolutionized the treatment of comics based on films. After a history of movie properties being poorly handled with little regard for execution and continuity, Dark Horse took a new approach, carefully choosing licenses and approaching them with excitement and creative energy. Our goal was to create sequels and prequels to the films we loved, paying careful attention to quality and detail, essentially treating those films as though they were our own. Star Wars has been the crown jewel of this approach. We began chasing the title as far back as 1989, and with the launch of Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy’s Dark Empire, a new era in comics was born. I’m not ashamed to admit that we were Star Wars geeks, and we have been determined to spare neither effort nor expense in the pursuit of excellence.

It is ironic that this announcement comes at a time when Dark Horse is experiencing its most successful year ever. For obvious reasons, we have prepared for this eventuality by finding new and exciting projects to place on our schedule for 2015 and beyond. Will they take the place of Star Wars? That’s a tall order, but we will do our best to make that happen. In the meantime, 2014 may be our last year at the helm of the Star Wars comics franchise, but we plan to make it a memorable one. We know that fans of the franchise will expect no less. The Force is with us still.

Mike Richardson

Our First Look at the Newly Restored Miracleman!

by Aaron Einhorn
I wrote about it when they originally announced it, so you shouldn’t be surprised to know that I am terribly excited about Marvel’s reprinting of Miracleman. And now Marvel has given us a look at the first few pages of the comic.

And wow.

See, not only has this comic been out of print forever, but as great as the comic was, I was never thrilled with the final art. The colors were… just off somehow.

This looks as good as my memories of the original comic are (which are better than the actuality).

The full press release from Marvel follows, but if this doesn’t have you excited for the release of this comic come January, I don’t know what will.

The Wait is Over! Your First Look at the Remastered Miracleman #1!

The series that changed comics forever finally returns in 2014, and Marvel is proud to present your first look at the remastered MIRACLEMAN #1! Long out-of-print, these timeless, groundbreaking stories injected a new sophistication into the super hero genre still felt today.

“When these stories were originally colored, the artists were never consulted – and it shows” said Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso. “The coloring methods used at the time really hurt the finished product. But through close collaboration with all the artists, we’re proud to now present these stories in a manner that matches their creative vision.”

Working in closely with the original series artists, Miracleman has been remastered using the original artwork in every instance possible – and the most advanced restoration methods available applied to ensure the most authentic reading experience based on the artists’ original visions for the series.

“You’ve never really seen Miracleman, until you’ve seen this Miracleman,” said legendary Miracleman artist Garry Leach.“I’m positive this will rapidly be recognized as the all-time, definitive, Miracleman series. It’s simply looking that ridiculously sharp!”

In addition to material originally published in Warrior Magazine, Miracleman #1 also includes character designs, pencil sketches, original art, an article chronicling the history of Marvelman/Miracleman, an interview with Miracleman creator Mick Anglo, as well as a Mick Anglo’s first Marvelman stories. Don’t miss your opportunity to experience the most popular comic few have ever read when Miracleman #1 makes it’s long overdue return to comic shops this January!

Gal Gadot is Our New Wonder Woman

by Aaron Einhorn

Well, DC and Warner Brothers certainly aren’t being gunshy about casting unpopular choices for their upcoming Man of Steel sequel. First there was the announcement that Ben Affleck would be Batman in the film that is already being called Superman vs. Batman in most fan circles. And, of course, the internet went into a rage over that bit of casting.

Yesterday, DC announced that Fast and Furious star Gal Gadot would be appearing as Wonder Woman in the film. Ladies and gents, I give you our next on-screen Wonder Woman.

gal_gadot

And, of course, the internet has once again gone nuts.

“She’s too short!” “She’s too skinny!” “She doesn’t act like Wonder Woman!”

And so on, and so on.

I have to say that I am, once again, in the “wait and see” camp. Would Gadot have been my first pick for Wonder Woman? Absolutely not – but that is in no small part because I’ve never seen her act. She has quite an impressive list of Israeli films that she’s been in, but in the U.S., I’ve never watched any of the Fast and Furious franchise (and am unlikely to), nor have I seen her on Homeland or Entourage.

Which brings up an important point.

I also was not in the room when she auditioned.

Casting directors, as a general rule, don’t want to make bad casting choices. They know that their jobs are on the line if a multi-million dollar film fails and it can be blamed on a bad casting choice. They’re looking for something in the audition room, and presumably, Gadot delivered. Have we ever seen Gadot “act” like Wonder Woman? Well, no. But she also hasn’t been playing Wonder Woman, so we shouldn’t have.

gal_gadot_jacketww_alexross Gal-Gadot_dress

“She’s too short! She’s too thin!”

Yes, Gadot is definitely on the slender side. This makes a certain degree of sense – she has a background as a model and former Ms. Israel. And it’s certainly true that Wonder Woman should have a sense of physical power and musculature to her. But here’s a pre-Superman Henry Cavill, a pre-Wolverine Hugh Jackman, and a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth.

cavil_tudors hugh_jackman_boy_from_oz

chris_hemsworth_home_and_away_16l8rs1-16l8s1p
Not exactly muscular powerhouses. After a few months of diet and exercise with a personal trainer…

EXCLUSIVE: Henry Cavill On The Set Of 'Man Of Steel' hugh jackman shirtless wolverine

thor

And that’s only three examples. You can find similar before and after images for Chris Evans, Toby Maguire, Robert Downey Jr., Ben Affleck and others.

Now, women’s bodies are different than men’s, but do you think that Warner Brothers won’t be throwing a ton of money and trainers and dieticians at Gadot to prepare her for this role? Of course they will. I do like that Gadot is Mediterranean (Israeli instead of Greek, but at least the right region), because while Wonder Woman is rarely drawn that way, she should have a bit of that swarthiness about her. I also like that Gadot has experience in the military and from other action films, so I’m sure she can handle herself in the action sequences.

As for her height? Well, Hollywood has been working around the height issue for years. And she’s hardly short. Gadot stands 5’9”, compared to Cavill’s 6’1” and Affleck’s 6’4”. Put her in heels and do a little forced perspective, as I am absolutely certain they will (because they probably don’t want Batman to be taller than Superman), and I’m sure that the relative heights will even out.

Like I said above, Gadot would probably not have been my first choice. But I’ve also seen no reason to think that she will be a terrible one. Would I have liked to see Jaime Alexander or Gina Carano? Sure thing (incidentally, both of these actresses are the same height or shorter than Gadot). But I think the only fair thing to do is to wait and see. It is far too early to say that she’s going to be the death of this film.

Especially since there are plenty of other areas where DC/Warner Brothers could drop the ball. I remain plenty skeptical of this film for reasons totally unrelated to the casting of Gadot or Affleck, but entirely related to my belief that the company no longer understands the emotional heart of their characters and what makes them resonate with audiences (as I described in my previous post regarding the casting of Ben Affleck).

So, I’m ready to give her a chance. And rest assured, if I’m dissatisfied, I will be quick to say. But it doesn’t seem like the time to criticize her casting is now – before we’ve seen anything of her performance.

justice_leagueBut it’s also possible that her casting could help turn the Man of Steel sequel into the beginnings of a Justice League film. And if that’s the case, we should all be excited as fans – not criticizing an actress who we shouldn’t be ready to judge yet.

I’m not advocating blind fandom. I’ve ripped superhero films apart in my critiques, even ones that I really wanted to like. I think we have an obligation to ask that our favorite characters be adapted to film well. But we shouldn’t start that criticizing before we see what we’re going to get from the studio. Fans hated the casting of Keaton as Batman, of Evans as Captain America, and of Heath Ledger as the Joker. Fans were excited about the idea of Halle Berry playing Storm and Kevin Spacey playing Lex Luthor.

Judging at the time of the announcement is just too soon, that’s all I’m saying.

 

Marvel Knights Coming to Live-Action on Netflix!

Daredevil-Time-Ticks-Byby Aaron Einhorn
Marvel has been slowly expanding their cinematic universe, and have now shown signs of tying that cinematic universe together. Starting from the not-so-humble Iron Man and building to include all of the Avengers, Marvel did something really amazingly cool with Phase One, creating an entire universe of their properties in an interconnected, live-action series.

We have never seen this, people. We’ve seen series of films, or one or two TV shows that connected, but we have never seen a comic universe come together in a multi-connected media format before.

And they haven’t slowed down. The Cinematic Universe is now going to outer space with Guardians of the Galaxy, has expanded onto TV with Agents of SHIELD, and there have been talks about exploring the magic side with Dr. Strange.

Now? Prepare for the Marvel Universe to expand once more, taking it to the streets as Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist each get their own 13-episode series to head directly to Netflix, culminating in a “Defenders” miniseries bringing them all together.

Don’t brush this off as “straight to video” schlock, either. Netflix has proven the merit of their direct offerings with House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Hemlock Grove and the return of Arrested Development. Netflix Original Series have as much weight as HBO or Showtime or AMC’s offerings.

lukecage_ironfistThis is amazingly cool news. Of course, the showrunners and cast involved will determine a lot about the success of these offerings, and oddly enough the initial release doesn’t confirm that these shows will tie in to the Cinematic Universe (although they’d be fools not to.)

Color me optimistic.

The full press release follows.

Disney’s Marvel and Netflix Join Forces to Develop Historic Four Series Epic plus a Mini-Series Event Based on Renowned Marvel Characters
Landmark Deal Brings Marvel’s Flawed Heroes of Hell’s Kitchen, led by “Daredevil,” to the World’s Leading Internet TV Network in 2015

Burbank, Calif. – Nov 7, 2013—The Walt Disney Co. and Netflix Inc. today announced an unprecedented deal for Marvel TV to bring multiple original series of live-action adventures of four of Marvel’s most popular characters exclusively to the world’s leading Internet TV Network beginning in 2015. This pioneering agreement calls for Marvel to develop four serialized programs leading to a mini-series programming event.

Led by a series focused on Daredevil, followed by Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage, the epic will unfold over multiple years of original programming, taking Netflix members deep into the gritty world of heroes and villains of Hell’s Kitchen, New York. Netflix has committed to a minimum of four, thirteen episodes series and a culminating Marvel’s The Defenders mini-series event that reimagines a dream team of self-sacrificing, heroic characters.

Produced by Marvel Television in association with ABC Television Studios, this groundbreaking deal is Marvel’s most ambitious foray yet into live-action TV storytelling.

“This deal is unparalleled in its scope and size, and reinforces our commitment to deliver Marvel’s brand, content and characters across all platforms of storytelling. Netflix offers an incredible platform for the kind of rich storytelling that is Marvel’s specialty,” said Alan Fine, President of Marvel Entertainment. “This serialized epic expands the narrative possibilities of on-demand television and gives fans the flexibility to immerse themselves how and when they want in what’s sure to be a thrilling and engaging adventure.”

DEC072206“Marvel’s movies, such as Iron Man and Marvel’s The Avengers, are huge favorites on our service around the world. Like Disney, Marvel is a known and loved brand that travels,” said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. “With House of Cards and our other original series, we have pioneered new approaches to storytelling and to global distribution and we’re thrilled to be working with Disney and Marvel to take our brand of television to new levels with a creative project of this magnitude.”

This new original TV deal follows last year’s landmark movie distribution deal through which, beginning with 2016 theatrically released feature films, Netflix will be the exclusive U.S. subscription television service for first-run, live-action and animated movies from the Walt Disney Studios, including titles from Disney, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, Disneynature and Lucasfilm. Netflix members can currently enjoy a wide range of Disney, ABC TV and Disney Channel films and shows across the 41 countries where Netflix operates.

Marvel Unveils the All-New Ms. Marvel

Ms_Marvel_1_Pichelli_Coverby Aaron Einhorn
I am strongly of the belief that we need to see more POC (people of color) and more female characters in comics. We are long past the time that comics have been the exclusive property of young, white males – and the characters should reflect that.

Generally speaking, I would prefer to see more new characters, and fewer “Let’s take this existing character and create a black (or Indian, or Hispanic, or female) version.”

But that said, I’m very excited to see the news about this new Ms. Marvel. We saw a sneak peek at her in the last page of this week’s Captain Marvel, and I will certainly be grabbing this book come January.

The full press release from Marvel follows.

MARVEL COMICS TO LAUNCH THE ALL-NEW MS. MARVEL
New Super Hero to Be Introduced This January in All-New Marvel NOW! Point One Comic, With Monthly
Ms. Marvel Series to Debut in February

This coming January, Marvel Comics will continue to break new ground in its rich storytelling history as it launches the new monthly Ms. Marvel debuting as part of the Company’s popular All-New Marvel NOW! initiative. The All-New Marvel NOW! Launch provides readers and fans with accessible stories of their favorite characters, and in the case of Ms. Marvel, stunning new characters to delve into and explore. The All-New Ms. Marvel will be introduced in January in a special All-New Marvel NOW! Point One Comic Book in advance of the Marvel NOW! Ms. Marvel dedicated series in February 2014.

Ms. Marvel will center on 16-year-old Kamala Khan, a Muslim-American teenager living in Jersey City, New Jersey. Like any teenager, all of her opportunities are in front her and she is full of potential, but her parents’ high expectations come with tons of pressure and has led Kamala to carve out a future that she has little interest in.

“At her core, Kamala is just a 16-year-old girl, exploring the many facets of her identity when she is suddenly bestowed with super-human powers that send her on the adventure of a lifetime,” says Marvel Comics Editor In Chief Axel Alonso.

The series, and its central character, are brought to life by an all-star creative team, led by acclaimed novelist and multi-Eisner nominee, G. Willow Wilson (Air, Mystic, Alif The Unseen). Her writings about modern religion have appeared in such outlets as New York Times’ Magazine and The Atlantic. Critically-acclaimed artist Adrian Alphona (Runaways, Uncanny X-Force) brings his vivid artistry to the project capturing the vibrantly rich and kinetic world in which Kamala lives.

Series editor, Sana Amanat, states, “The inspiration for the new Ms. Marvel series stemmed out of a desire to explore the Muslim-American diaspora from an authentic perspective and yet, this story isn’t about what it means to be a Muslim, Pakistani or American. Those are just cultural touchstones that reflect the ever changing world we live in today. This is ultimately a tale about what it means to be young, lost amidst the expectations bestowed upon you, and what happens when you get to choose.”

Writer, G. Willow Wilson, “I wanted Ms. Marvel to be true-to-life, something real people could relate to, particularly young women. High school was a very vivid time in my life, so I drew heavily on those experiences–impending adulthood, dealing with school, emotionally charged friendships that are such a huge part of being a teenager.” Willow continues, “It’s for all the geek girls out there, and everybody else who’s ever looked at life from the fringe.”

Every FIRST ISSUE bearing the All New Marvel NOW! branding includes a code for a free digital copy of that same comic on the Marvel Comics app for iOS and Android devices.

Once again, the biggest creators bring you the biggest characters in the biggest stories…and it’s happening NOW!

Ms. Marvel #1 blasts off this February! For more on Ms. Marvel & All-New Marvel NOW!, please visit now.marvel.com and join in the conversation on Twitter with hashtag #MsMarvel.

Ms_Marvel_Alphona_Concept_Art

Marvel Brings Out Wave Two of “Marvel Now”

by Aaron Einhorn
So, Marvel made some serious waves a little over a year ago when they launched “Marvel Now,” an imprint seen by many as a direct response to DC’s “New 52.” The differences between the two launches were plentiful – Marvel was not rebooting their continuity, and not every title was getting a re-number. But we were seeing some of the longest running titles get relaunched with fresh creative teams. And by and large, at least in my opinion, the relaunch has been successful.

Last weekend, during New York Comic Con, Marvel unveiled the “All-New Marvel NOW!” Many titles are getting the “NOW” treatment, including a few that already were relaunched under the Marvel NOW! banner.

Ahead of the convention, Marvel had already announced Avengers #24.NOW, All-New Invaders #1, Inhuman #1 and She-Hulk #1. During the con, the also announced the following titles:

  • All-New Ghost Rider #1
  • All-New X-Factor #1
  • All-New X-Men #22.NOW (All-New X-Men #1 in All-New Marvel NOW!)
  • Avengers A.I. #8.NOW (Avengers A.I. #1 in All-New Marvel NOW!)
  • Avengers Undercover #1
  • Avengers World #1
  • Black Widow #1
  • Captain America #16.NOW (Captain America #1 in All-New Marvel NOW!)
  • Captain Marvel #1
  • Elektra #1
  • Guardians of the Galaxy #11.NOW (Guardians of the Galaxy #1 in All-New Marvel NOW!)
  • Iron Patriot #1
  • Loki: Agent of Asgard #1
  • New Warriors #1
  • Punisher #1
  • Savage Wolverine #14.NOW (Savage Wolverine #1 in All-New Marvel NOW!)
  • Secret Avengers #1
  • Silver Surfer #1
  • Superior Spider-Man #27.NOW (Superior Spider-Man #1 in All-New Marvel NOW!)
  • Thunderbolts #20.NOW (Thunderbolts #1 in All-New Marvel NOW!)

I’ll confess to being a little baffled by some of the numbering plans. Why do Captain America, Guardians of the Galaxy, Superior Spider-Man and Thunderbolts get to keep their numbers while Secret Avengers and Captain Marvel just get a straight-up new #1 issue? Not that it really matters, but it’s an odd choice.

The more exciting part of this announcement though is that every first issue (at least) bearing the “All New Marvel NOW!” branding will include a code for a Free Digital Copy (already standard for all of Marvel’s $3.99 titles), and select .NOW titles will come with a digital code for the entire first COLLECTION of that series.

The covers and creative teams for the newly announced titles follow.