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Monday, October 20, 2014

Peter Tomasi Reveals Robin's Upcoming Fate

Damian Wayne has been dead now for well over a year, and it was a nicely done send-off, as written by Grant Morrison in the pages of Batman Incorporated.

Since then, while other Batman related titles have moved on, Peter Tomasi's Batman & Robin has been mired in the grief of loss. Whether this is a good thing or not, I leave to your discretion. In recent months, Bruce has attempted to bring Damian back to life in various ways, including going to Apokolips for the "Robin Rises" storyline. Now, ahead of DC's January solicits, Tomasi has revealed the cover of Batman & Robin #38:

Looks like Damian is back, and maybe superpowered? We'll know soon enough. Hardcore Damian fans can rejoice! Me? I'll just sit here and shake my head a bit. Morrison got it right the first time, and I *like* the character.

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Jason Momoa Talks Aquaman And Its Relation To His Heritage

We were reporting on this as far back as June, but both Warner Bros and Jason Momoa kept surprisingly quiet on the news that the former Conan the Barbarian actor would be the first big screen incarnation of DC Comics superhero Aquaman. 

With the release of the full slate of films stretching all the way into 2020, Momoa can now talk a little more freely about his anticipation and preparation for the role. spoke with him over the weekend on the subject, particularly his excitement surrounding it:

The greatest thing for me is that [for] Polynesians, our gods are Kahoali, Maui, all these water gods, so it’s really cool and a honor to be playing a [water] character. And there are not too many brown superheroes, so I’m really looking forward to representing the Polynesians, the natives. My family are some of the greatest water men on earth. I’m not, but I’m going to go train with them. But it’s really an honor just being a Polynesian. And water is the most important thing in this world and we all know it. It’s cool be a part of DC’s universe. I’m really excited to be with Warner Bros., and hopefully everyone likes it. And Zack Snyder’s a genius, so I’m really excited to be hanging out with him.

Regarding his research:
It’s really hard because you do these and they’re like, ‘Why’s he looking at Aquaman? Why’s he looking at this one?’ So you can’t really like research too much. When I was growing up, I really liked Spawn and Lobo. I read stuff like that. Lobo I was a big fan of. I didn’t read a lot of Aquaman, but I am now, and I will do the research.
And any tid-bits he can share regarding the upcoming Aquaman solo feature: 
I don’t know the director. I know about as much as you guys know. I know the Justice League will come first. That’s really what we’re going to focus on. I’m not sure if it will be [set] prior to Justice League or post. I don’t know too much about it. It will probably be where he came from. It will probably be his whole origin story I would think…I mean I don’t even want to get quoted on this shit. So I know we’re going to do Justice League first.
We'll surely get a glimpse of the Momoa version of Aquman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice when it hits theaters on March 25, 2016.

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Big Thunder Mountain Next Disney Attraction To Get Comic Treatment

One of Marvel's more oft-ignored projects by most comic fans over the past year or so has been the Disney Kingdoms line of comics.  First featuring Seekers of the Weird and, more recenty, Figment!, the line furthers the partnership of Disney and Marvel, allowing Marvel to publish comics based on popular Disney Attractions.  Disney recently announced the latest mini-series in that line: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

The comic will be based on the Disney coaster of the same name, which has been a staple in Frontierland at Disneyland since 1979, and is also featured at numerous other Disney Parks, including Walt Disney World.  Here is a brief description of the comic:

 “This action-packed story...will feature the never-before-told saga of how the gold mine in Big Thunder Mountain became the haunted legend it is today.”

The comic will be written by Dennis Hopeless, the first time the Disney Kingdoms line has gotten a name comic fans will recognize, and drawn by less familiar Tigh Walker.  Both creators will work with Disney Imagineering in telling this story as well as putting in classic moments from the ride which fans will recognize (a goat eating dynamite was specifically mentioned).

I have to say this is probably the least expected announcement for this line, particularly since, out of Disney's mountains, I would have more expected Space Mountain or The Matterhorn getting a comic first.  Nevertheless, there aren't too many Westerns on the shelves of comic stores these days, so that helps to make this something unique.  Having Hopeless write this one also gives me hope that future Disney Kingdoms series will attract more prominent comics writers.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad will start in Spring of 2015, but you can check out the cover for issue one below...

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Best Covers of the Week, vol. 44

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #8
by Steve Morris

One of the many things I love about October is horror themed comics and covers. I love the exaggerated neon coloring and classic Halloween themes here! 

Five Ghosts #13
by Chris Mooneyham
Great classic concept meets excellent typography and penciling. Love the perspective here, too.
  The X-Files: Year Zero #4
by Robert Hack
And another in the classic horror magazine style! I'm really starting to dig this this Robert Hack guy...
 Catwoman #35
by Joshua Middleton

Last Halloween themed cover this week, I promise! Really excellent design and character work, with a minimal shading scheme. Dig it!

Multiversity: The Just #1
by Eduardo Risso
Although this cover likely has nothing to do with the actual comic underneath it, how awesome is it to see Risso do some superhero work? Such a unique style, very nice to see it applied to something typically out of his wheelhouse.
  Harley Quinn #11
by Amanda Conner
A fantastic cover that really captures both characters in a single image by one of the great cartoonists of our time!
  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters #1
by T-Rex Jones
Couldn't help but include this one–besides the obviously fun concept, I really love the facial cartooning on the turtles and the killer lighting. 

That's it for this week. What did I miss? Let me know on Twitter or Facebook!  
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Comic Spotlight Review: Predator: Fire and Stone #1

This Wednesday sees the release of Predator: Fire and Stone #1, the last of the #1 issues in Dark Horse’s relaunch of the Alien and Predator properties. While I loved the Prometheus and Aliens entries in the story, the Alien Vs. Predator issue relied too heavily on the yet-unpublished ending to Prometheus: Fire and Stone. While the solo Predator part of this crossover is chronologically the last, luckily Joshua Williamson and Christopher Mooneyham don’t let this one fall into the trap of continuity.

This first issue follows the ever present Galgo, who is now just trying to get his crew home to Earth with their prize, an alien weapon stolen from the Engineers. However, there’s one challenge left–they’ve got a stowaway on board, the stealthy and cunning Predator. Galgo and his crew are forced to wake from cryo-sleep and fight for survival against one of the universe’s fiercest hunters.

Here we see what I’ve really been interested in throughout this crossover: creating a new situation for a familiar monster. In some ways, it takes a cue from the Aliens comic, which took the titular aliens out of a sterile spaceship environment and put them in a more Predator-like jungle setting–we get to see almost what the first Alien film would have been like if the invading creature was instead a predator. What follows is a brutal and clever battle with some pretty intense pacing.

The subversion of setting and application of a horror tone is enough to get me interested, but Mooneyham’s art is quite compelling on its own. It’s got a real classic sci-fi comic feel particularly with Dan Brown’s colors, and he creates a dynamic action to the fights that feels authentic to both the Predator and Alien franchises. Of course what stands out most is seeing things from the Predator’s point of view, with neon yellows and pinks highlighting the heat signatures of its prey.

I haven’t traditionally been a big fan of the Predator franchise, but placing a predator in a very Alien-like scenario is a really engaging story that I never knew I was missing out on. Combine that with nice art and a pretty intriguing final page twist and I’m suddenly onboard with the mini-series I was least interested in initially.

Predator: Fire and Stone #1 releases this Wednesday. Read the preview here.
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Next Up For Marvel: House Of M Returns!

Presented without much's the next big teaser from Marvel. Secret Invasion must be right around the corner, either that or Maximum Carnage. Place your bets!

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Who Is Missy? Five Doctor Who Theories

With only three episodes left in this season of Doctor Who, audiences are still mostly clueless as to the identity of the mysterious Missy. So far, we know: 

- She has an accent similar to The Doctor and, upon hearing his Scottish accent, remarks that she thinks she'll keep it 
- She calls The Doctor "her boyfriend" 
- She calls Clara "My Clara" 
- She hints at being responsible for keeping them together (Lady in the shop?)
- She operates in a place called The Promised Land, where people appear to show up after they die 

Given those tiny scraps of information, there are some popular fan theories floating around. Here we examine five of the most popular theories and rank them from least to most likely. There are some popular theories we've decided not to pursue here, because they either seem too unlikely (e.g. Romana) or because we'd just be too annoyed if they came to pass (e.g. River Song).  

5. Future Clara 

What: This theory explores the idea that Clara somehow becomes Missy (Or is that Miss C?). We're not sure if this is simply referring to an aged version of Clara or some sort of change she undergoes as a result of one of her adventures with the Doctor and timey-whimey Tardis properties. 

Why: There are a few concepts to support this theory. In the episode "Flatline," The Doctor seems disturbed by Clara's bold behavior and the way she ignores the loss of human life for the first time. He tells her she was an excellent Doctor, but that being "good" had nothing to do with it. We also know the Tardis was weirdly resistant to Clara the first few times she tried to board it. Lastly, Missy refers to The Doctor as "my boyfriend," which could be a snarky reference to their awkward relationship shift and the way The Doctor repeatedly told Clara he was "not her boyfriend" at the beginning of the series. 

Why Not: Well, this one is fairly obvious. As much as we love the idea of seeing a companion evolve into a villain due to her time with The Doctor, this probably isn't going to happen. They don't look enough alike. They both are women with brown hair, but the resemblance ends there. Clara's eyes are brown, Missy's are blue. Unless some kind of odd regeneration-timey-whimey thing happens, it wouldn't make enough sense. 

4. The Rani 

What: The Rani is a Time Lord from the early series who was exiled from Gallifrey for carrying out immoral scientific experiments. Inhabiting the role of evil scientist genius, The Rani prioritizes her research above else. She and The Doctor had only a few run-ins before the original show was cancelled. 

Why: The Rani is a Time Lord with a Tardis. That makes it easier to explain the "Promised Land" in which we see her operate - she could be operating from her own Tardis and somehow transporting those who are about to die during the last second of their lives (or after). She has a history with The Doctor, so her observation of him and her seeming vendetta against him already makes sense. She wasn't necessarily on Gallifrey during The Time War, so her whereabouts are unknown and could be explained. Lastly, her new appearance would also make sense because she has the ability to regenerate.   

Why Not: The Rani is a fairly obscure villain, so if Moffat wanted to pull from and add his mark to classic Who, this may not be the best choice. Also, we're not sure whether this leans for or against this theory, but Big Finish, who produces audio books of classic Doctor Who stories, recently announced her character would be appearing in a new audio production in December of 2014. Though the coordination would be interesting, it isn't standard protocol for the audio books and on-air new-Who to align like that. 

3. The Doctor 

What: This theory points to Missy being some sort of version of The Doctor. We're not sure whether that means a future regeneration or some kind of element of The Doctor's personality (perhaps a la The Dream Lord). This could also be a consequence or side effect to the new set of regenerations The Doctor received. 

Why: The most pointed evidence to this is what we've seen of Missy's behavior and what she says. Most of her comments - about choosing Clara, about her being "My Clara," and about keeping the new accent, seem to suggest she either has some level of control over The Doctor or somehow is The Doctor. This would also be in keeping with the theme of this season, which has explored who The Doctor really is (and no, we don't mean his name - we mean his personality, the part of it that endures beyond each regeneration). 

Why Not: We've seen stills from the set of the two-part finale, and we know The Doctor and Missy interact with one another. Though past and future regenerations have interacted, it doesn't seem very likely the show would tread this territory again so soon.

2. The Valeyard 

What: The Valeyard is another classic Who villain and is also technically also an extension of The Doctor, albeit a more specific one, so we've put it in its own category. The Valeyard is an amalgamation of The Doctor's darker and potentially more evil characteristics. The Valeyard was said to show up between The Doctor's 12th and final regeneration. 

Why: We know Moffat hasn't ignored or rejected The Valeyard; it was mentioned in The Name of The Doctor as one of the names The Doctor would be known by. The timing is also right, given that The Doctor just ended his "final" regeneration and is now on a new set (depending on how you count the War Doctor, we could buy that the Smith to Capaldi regeneration would be an acceptable time for The Valeyard's appearance). Series 8 has spent a lot of time pondering whether The Doctor is good or evil, so a physical manifestation of The Doctor's evil qualities would be in-keeping with that theme. 

Why Not: If anything, Capaldi's Doctor has been darker than the ones we've seen before. At first this resulted in speculation that Capaldi would actually be the Valeyard, but so far his actions have on the whole been more positive than negative (in terms of saving lives and helping others). If The Valeyard was intended to show off The Doctor's dark side, but isn't Capaldi, it's hard to see why they'd spend so much time developing The Doctor's dark side this season.

1. The Master

What: The Master is a Time Lord who has been played by 8 different actors over the course of the show. He's appeared in both new and classic Who and is at-odds with The Doctor, who was once his childhood friend. We last saw The Master played by John Simms during Russell T Davies' run, in which it was revealed that The Master was being used by the Time Lords in an attempt to escape destruction. In this theory, Missy is his latest regeneration. 

Why: Master, Mistress - Moffat has a thing for the play on words and hiding in plain site, so that seems like an indication. We've been saying all along that this iteration of The Doctor is Batman, and every classic hero needs a classic villain. If The Doctor has a "Joker" style villain, recurring, unpredictable and a bit crazy, it's got to be The Master. When we saw him last, he was driven mad by a constant drumming in his head. It would also be an interesting way for The BBC to gauge reaction to a potential female Doctor in the future, as The Master has always been a male character. 

Why Not:  Missy's own comments are the chink in this argument. References to keeping the accents, "my boyfriend," etc. don't really line up with this theory. It also appeared as though The Master was pulled back into the Time War in the episode The End of Time. Because all Time Lords are still trapped in stasis, it will take some acrobatic writing to pull The Master into the same time and place as The Doctor. 

It's also a bit predictable, and Moffat has a tendency to lean towards new ideas that are harder to guess. Which brings us to Theory 0... 

0. Something New 

Because in Moffat's scripts there's always some surprise extra option, we bring you Theory 0. This is the most obvious and probably most likely scenario. Missy is something new, unreliant on canon, that will be completely impossible to guess prior to the finale. Moffat has a penchant for creating his own, new villains, and since The Cybermen play heavily into the finale, it wouldn't be surprising to see Moffat create a new nemesis to help them. But hey - speculation is still fun! 

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