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  • 02/28/14--07:52: Preview of Silver Surfer #1
  • Norin Radd takes a cosmic ride with writer Dan Slott and artist Mike Allred as they unleash Silver Surfer #1.

    The universe is big. Bigger than one could ever imagine, even one such as the Surfer. Propelled by the mighty Power Cosmic, long has he voyaged alone – journeying from star to star. But soon he’ll discover that the best way to see it…is with someone else. Meet the Earth Girl who’s challenged the Surfer to go beyond the boundaries of the know Marvel U – and into the strange and unknown!

    “One of the limitations of the Surfer character is that, by his nature he’s alone most of the time,” stated Executive Editor Tom Brevoort. “So right off the bat, we’re giving him somebody new to bounce off of: the new character Dawn Greenwood. The two of them wind up traveling together, and this gives the Surfer somebody to bond with and relate to along the journey.”

    Silver Surfer #1which features variant covers by Francesco Francavilla, Chris Samnee and Skottie Young arrives on March 26, 2014.

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    Following last month’s announcement that Titan Comics will publish Doctor Who comics, here at Flickering Myth we’ve been given the chance to give you a sneak peek at the issue #1 covers and creator details for the brand-new DOCTOR WHO: THE TENTH DOCTOR series and DOCTOR WHO: THE ELEVENTH DOCTOR series:

    Regular cover by Alice X. Zhang


    Eisner Award-winning writer Nick Abadzis (Laika) and fan-favorite artist Elena Casagrande (Angel, Suicide Risk, Doctor Who, Star Trek) take control of the TARDIS for their first five-issue arc with the Tenth Doctor! And don't miss the second arc, by fellow series architect Robbie Morrison (Drowntown, Nikolai Dante, The Authority)!

    Regular cover by Alice X. Zhang


    Series architects Al Ewing (Loki: Agent of Asgard, Mighty Avengers, Trifecta) and Rob Williams (Revolutionary War, Ordinary, Miss Fury, The Royals: Masters of War, Trifecta) kick off a whirlwind adventure through eternity for the Eleventh Doctor, with artist Simon Fraser (Nikolai Dante, Grindhouse, Doctor Who)!

    Both of these hughly anticapted issues are due on sale July 23rd.

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    Ever wondered what a tale akin to that of Arabian Nights would be like in anime form? You have your answer with the very popular series, Magi - The Labyrinth Of Magic.

    In a fantastical middle-age world where slavery is rife, there are mysterious tall towers named Dungeons which mysteriously appeared out of nowhere. Someone who conquers a Dungeon becomes very powerful and wealthy. Our hero Ali Baba is a teenager who works for merchants to support himself. He dreams for conquering a lot of Dungeons and becoming a very rich person. One day, he comes across a strange young boy named Aladdin who carries a mystical flute with supernatural powers. Ali Baba and Aladdin agree to travel their first Dungeon together.

    To support the release of Magi - The Labyrinth of Magic: Season 1 - Part 1, we have a DVD copy up for grabs for one lucky winner!

    Read on for details of how to enter...

    Pre-order Magi - The Labyrinth of Magic: Season 1 - Part 1 via Amazon. 

    To be in with a chance of winning, firstly make sure you like us on Facebook (or follow us on Twitter)...

    ...Then complete your details below, using the subject heading "MAGI". The competition closes at midnight on Saturday, March 15th
    . UK entrants only please.

     By entering this competition you agree to our terms and conditions, which you can read here.

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    Tom Jolliffe with his five essential Michael Caine roles...

    As a Brit and a lover of cinema, sometimes it’s good to take the time to fully appreciate some home grown talent. I’m a lover of cinema from all over the world, but British cinema can often be overshadowed by American cinema, with its size 14 shoes and imposing figure (and full wallet) it often casts a big shadow over the rest of the world. However we Brits have contributed our fair share of great films and most certainly our fair share of great thespians. Perhaps one of our most successful home grown talents is Maurice Micklewhite (that’s Michael Caine to the layperson).

    Caine, one of our most prolific and successful exports has had over 50 years of big screen outings and as well as being hugely successful as a Hollywood character actor, has led a great deal of Britain’s most iconic films. Having recently inducted the Mrs into the historic study of Caine cinema, I’m here with an essential list for all the un-initiated to take note of. For those who may only know him as Batman’s butler, or the bad guy in Steven Seagal’s directorial debut (and misunderstood masterpiece), this is a guide to the must see Caine films which helped establish his name. With a long, varied and successful career it’s hard to narrow it down to a few films, and you could easily have a list of 30 (maybe more) essentials, but here I’ve picked 5 of Caine’s leading roles.

    The Ipcress File

    In the mid 60’s while James Bond was making cinematic waves, a slew of espionage flicks were being made. Based on Len Deighton’s novel, The Ipcress File introduced the film world to Harry Palmer, the working class, less glamorous equivalent to Bond. This would prove to be one of the most successful rivals, spawning a further four films (two of which were made for TV).

    The Ipcress File is a stylish film shot with unconventional, almost wild abandon by director Sidney J Furie (much to the dismay of producers at the time). It also provided Caine with a platform to lead a big film and he does so with immense charisma. Palmer is a great antithesis to the world of Bond. Harry Palmer is a spy who has to do paper work, attend office briefings, lives in a small flat, cooks himself, and takes public transport. It’s a world away from the gadgets, the Astons and the cat stroking villains. Ironically this film would later serve as part of the inspiration for director Sam Mendes in Bond’s most recent outing, Skyfall.

    Caine is a brilliant everyman and brings Palmer to life brilliantly. He’s reckless but intelligent and just as quick on the draw with a one liner as JB. This is essential Caine and essential British cinema.


    Alfie saw Caine achieve international recognition and also saw him pick up his first Oscar nomination. He’s thus far picked up two wins and four nominations. After Palmer, Alfie was another iconic character for Caine and a film ahead of its time. It’s a film that still works today and is still fairly prevalent.

    Alfie addresses the camera directly, sharing his inner feelings. This is one of Caine’s best performances. The brilliance of this performance is that Alfie is a pretty repugnant character in many ways. He’s not a nice guy, and he’s as selfish as they come but Caine somehow makes this guy quite likeable. It’s a rare gift for an actor to be able to pull off, but Caine manages it here, and the loveable rogue routine would become something of a speciality for him.

    Given the time of the production the material becomes quite dark in moments and it’s actually a tough watch at times, but ultimately rewarding thanks to Caine’s magnificent and multi-faceted performance. Despite addressing the audience, Alfie always holds back. There’s a lot of bravado but in several moments, quite brilliantly performed, this is stripped away and we get to see the real, damaged soul that Alfie is.

    The Italian Job

    This cracking caper is great entertainment from the first minute. It’s become iconic for the car chases and the mini’s but it’s a very good film aside. Once again Caine is the charming rogue, playing Charlie Croker, out to orchestrate a daring heist in Turin.

    In addition to Caine, who leads the film with aplomb, the eclectic cast also sees Benny Hill and Noel Coward appear. Coward chews up scenery as something of an extension of his own persona. The very depiction of the English gentleman, he plays Bridger, the convict who has almost Royalty status within his prison. He has a private cell, private toilet, gourmet dinners and the freedom to go in and out of prison as he pleases. Some might say that’s a depiction of your typical lag these days, at least if you believe the Daily Mail, but the portrayal is humorously over the top to say the least.

    The heist itself is well done and of course the iconic mini’s come into play with the great car chases. The Italian Job is a film most people know a great deal of, even if they haven’t seen it, whether they’ve seen clips, know of the Mini-led car chases or the infamous “cliffhanger” ending.

    Get Carter

    When the swinging 60’s tailed off, there was a noticeable shift in cinema to a more gritty (perhaps grounded, realistic) depiction of the world. Suddenly the glass was not half full but half empty. This was largely true through American and European cinema too.

    Get Carter
    would mark a dramatic shift with Caine, playing a truly dark anti-hero. He’s a character who’s largely irredeemable, hell bent on revenge. Again, he’s a character with a tough exterior that rarely gets broken, but in the rare occasions the façade cracks, Caine is typically immense. Caine has played everything throughout his career. Here he plays total, utter, badass. Intent on finding his brothers killer, Jack Carter will plough through anyone who gets in his way.

    The film is a great example of using a time and place to great effect. There’s no romanticism about how the locale is filmed at all, it’s just as is, authentic, real. British cinema does this brilliantly. Set in a depressed, dank Newcastle in the early 70’s, the film looks fantastic. It’s grim but it captures the surroundings in a poor area in a tough economic moment in history, fantastically. As an example it’s a far grittier, grounded and engaging setting than the Stallone American remake of 2000. What’s fantastic about Carter is it represents many of Brit cinemas strengths, such as a candid, unromantic depiction of an era that we’ve seen in films like Kes, or more recently Billy Elliot, and many others, but there’s a classic revenge tale put on top of it. It’s almost a Western in many ways. Again though, aside from the brilliant direction of Mike Hodges, the film is led exquisitely by Caine. Possibly one of the finest films England has produced.


    This is a master-class in writing, directing and acting. Based on Anthony Shaffer’s play (he also adapted it to screenplay himself), this tells the tale of a Detective Fiction writer with a love of playing games who invites his wife’s lover round to engage in a battle of wits which may lead to murder.

    It takes master craftsmen to put together a film with a cast of two, in one setting, and keep it engrossing from start to finish. In many respects it stays much like a stage play. It’s very economical. Whilst undoubtedly Shaffer and director Joseph L Mankiewicz deserve a lion’s share of the plaudits, it is the strength of Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine in the leading roles which carry the film.

    Olivier is superb here as the eccentric, playful and slightly disturbed writer, Andrew Wyke. Caine plays Milo a man with a chip on his shoulder and a desire to succeed, but also, something which Wyke underestimates, an immense sense of pride that cannot be damaged without repercussion. The interplay between the two is superb and the film is loaded with twists and turns. In terms of acting honours it’s hard to pick a clear winner, but of course this represented for Caine, a platform to stand toe to toe with one of the greats and match him punch for punch.

    Honourable mentions: Every other Caine film (with the exception of any of the Get Carter and Sleuth remakes which he also starred in). Seriously… even in a bad film, Caine is still great.

    Agree? Disagree? We'd love to hear your thoughts on the list...

    Tom Jolliffe

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    Captain America comes up with an ill-timed idea that will go beyond teaching a lesson to Tony Stark in this weekend's episode of Marvel's Avengers Assemble; here's a clip from the episode, entitled 'Savages'....

    When Tony becomes too reliant on his tech, Cap challenges him to go without it for one full day. Not only is the challenge accepted but is made far more complicated when Tony takes them to the Savage Land where they stumble upon Justin Hammer who they'll have to battle completely tech-free!

    Marvel’s Avengers Assemble airs 'Savages' this Sunday (8am/7c) inside the Marvel Universe on Disney XD.

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    Jackson Ball reviews the season finale of House of Cards season 2...

    House of Cards Season 2 poster
    We’ve finally reached the climax of Season 2, after hours of character investment and meticulously orchestrated narrative arcs. Frank (Kevin Spacey) and his wife Claire (Robin Wright) are agonisingly close to their coveted goal of ultimate power, but have they overlooked something in their vigorously scheming?

    Spoilers Ahead – You have been warned!

    Right from the beginning, this final episode is rife with dramatic tension. After a mid-season lull, the stakes have been rising nicely in the lead up to the finale, as has the pace of events. Things have moved very fast for Frank; in the space of Episode 12 he went from President Walker’s (Michael Gill) friend and confidant, to his untrustworthy enemy, to all-out presidency usurper. With the success of his elaborate plan hanging by thread, is there another shocking twist to come?

    Well, in short, no… No there isn’t.

    Anybody who has watch even the slightest amount of this show (or its promotional material) will have had a fairly good notion that Frank would make it to president, and House of Cards has promptly delivered. Do not get me wrong, it’s been insanely enjoyable to watch his rise to power, but the overall destination was always inevitable.

    I mean, where else could they have gone? Sure, they could have had Frank slip up and maybe bide his time until the next season, but that would have only delayed this unavoidable outcome. Admittedly though, despite it being a forgone conclusion since day one, there is still an undeniable thrill in that final scene, in which Frank finally makes his way into the Oval Office. It may well have been a predictable ending, but it was the right one.

    It also capped off one hell of a season. After the success of the first season, and its expert blend of clinical writing and raw performances, everyone stepped their game up for this year’s return. The writing was sharper; generating a complex but surprisingly streamlined plot with more than couple of mind-blowing shocks (the season 2 premiere has one of the greatest twist-moments in TV history). Incredibly, the performances have also somehow gotten even better, with almost every role being delivered just as it needed to be. Robin Wright in particular has shone throughout, surely bagging the Emmy along the way.

    The real dilemma that remains is where the show goes from here. A third season is happening, but with the show reaching its natural conclusion with Frank as president, it really leaves things wide open. I suppose the logical guess would be that, if next year is the final season, we’ll finally see Frank get his comeuppance for some of his darker deeds (outside all the corruption, he has killed twice now!). As likely as that sounds, it’s probably what the show needs, as there is only so long we can watch him rise and rise, especially as he’s now the most powerful man on the planet.

    One thing is for certain though, no matter what House of Cards’ destination is, the journey is always going to be thrilling.

     Jackson Ball - follow me on Twitter

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    We've seen him as Barry Allen, but with production set to get underway on the Arrow spin-off pilot in March, we've now got our first look at Grant Gustin as The Flash in The CW's upcoming pilot...

    Grant Gustin as The Flash

    The Flash is set to begin filming at the back end of March, with Gustin joined in the cast by Candice Patton (The Game) as Iris West, Jesse L. Martin (Law & Order) as Detective West, Danielle Panabaker (Friday the 13th) as Caitlin Snow / Killer Frost, Rick Gosnett (The Vampire Diaries) as Eddie Thawne, Broadway star Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon / Vibe, Michelle Harrison (Emily Owens, MD) as Nora Allen, Tom Cavanagh (Ed) as Harrison Wells and original Flash star John Wesley Shipp in an as-yet-unrevealed role.

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    Andrew Garfield and Marc Webb want Spider-Man to cross over with The Avengers
    Over the past year and a half, we've heard plenty of speculation about the chances of the wall-crawler teaming up with Earth's Mightiest Heroes for a crossover between Sony's Amazing Spider-Man franchise and Marvel Studios' box office juggernaut The Avengers - mainly because the producers, director and star of the rebooted Spider-Man universe just can't stop bringing it up.

    Well, Andrew Garfield and Marc Webb have been at it again during an interview with Yahoo! Movies to promote the upcoming release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, with Garfield quoted as saying: "I would love that. I know the fans would love that, the fans of the Marvel universe... the more the merrier, the bigger the better."

    Director Webb - who has recently been confirmed as returning for The Amazing Spider-Man 3 - then went on to reveal that there had been efforts to take Spidey into the MCU: "I would love [a crossover], as a fan, I think that would be great. I don’t know how that would happen, but I certainly would be supportive of it. There’s efforts that were made [to make a cameo happen], but obviously nothing came to fruition."

    With Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and now Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), and The Vision (Paul Bettany) all on the roster for The Avengers: Age of Ultron, it would appear that Earth's Mightiest Heroes have few vacancies at present, and while I'm sure fans would appreciate a Spider-Man cameo somewhere down the line the chances of it actually ever happening are surely slim to none...

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    Earlier today we brought you the news that writer-director Adam McKay saying "definitely no" to the chances of a third Anchorman movie. However, if you're desperate to see more new material from Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) and Champ Kind (David Koechner) on the big screen then you're in luck, as Paramount is releasing a brand new cut of last year's Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues - appropriately titled Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues Continued. It's bigger, bolder and Burgundier, and it comes complete with 763 new jokes!

    "When my editor told me we had a whole different version of the movie that was more than two hours long with nearly 800 new jokes, I was shocked," said McKay with regards to the new cut. "But when Paramount said they were actually going to put it in theatres, I did a 1950’s spit take. If you're a hardcore Anchorman fan, go see this. If you're not, stay very far away."

    Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues Continued is released in UK cinemas for one week from today, with a cast that also includes returning Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy stars Christina Applegate, Fred Willard, Chris Parnell and Vince Vaughn alongside Harrison Ford (Ender's Game), Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids), Dylan Baker (Spider-Man 2), Greg Kinnear (Modern Family), James Marsden (X-Men) and Meagan Good (Think Like a Man). Take a look at the trailer right here...

    For more information on Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues Continued, visit the official website and Facebook page.

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    Considering they were much of the focus for the first season, it's amazing how quickly the ranks of House Stark have thinned in Game of Thrones. We've already said our farewells to Ned (Sean Bean), Robb (Richard Madden) and Catelyn (Michelle Fairley), leaving just Sansa (Sophie Turner), Arya (Maisie Williams), Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) and Ned Stark's Bastard, a.k.a. Jon Snow (Kit Harington). And, it's Lord Eddard's four surviving offspring who are the focus of the latest teaser for the upcoming fourth season of the epic fantasy series, which you can see here....

    Check out the previous teasers featuring Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Ser Jorah (Iain Glen) here.

    Game of Thrones season 4 gets underway on HBO in the States on April 6th and on Sky Atlantic in the UK on April 7th.

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    Watch the fantastic new trailer for GodzillaEarlier this week we got a brand new trailer for Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures' upcoming Godzilla reboot, and now Empire has posted a video with director Gareth Edwards (Monsters) walking us though this latest preview of the "epic rebirth" of The King of the Monsters.

    According to the official synopsis, Godzilla "pits the world’s most famous monster against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence."

    Featuring in the cast alongside the iconic kaiju are Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass 2), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Elizabeth Olsen (Red Lights), David Strathairn (Lincoln), Juliette Binoche (Cosmopolis), Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine) and Ken Watanabe (Inception).

    Check out the trailer breakdown here....

    Godzilla is set for release on May 16th.

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    With just two weeks to go before its release, Disney has debuted a new batch of images from the live-action Sleeping Beauty reimagining Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie as the Mistress of All Evil and Elle Fanning as Princess Aurora....

    "A beautiful, pure-hearted young woman, Maleficent has an idyllic life growing up in a peaceable forest kingdom, until one day when an invading army threatens the harmony of the land. Maleficent rises to be the land’s fiercest protector, but she ultimately suffers a ruthless betrayal—an act that begins to turn her pure heart to stone. Bent on revenge, Maleficent faces an epic battle with the invading king’s successor and, as a result, places a curse upon his newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Maleficent realizes that Aurora holds the key to peace in the kingdom—and perhaps to Maleficent’s true happiness as well."

    Maleficent is directed by Robert Stromberg (Avatar, Alice in Wonderland) and also stars Sharlto Copley (Elysium), Imelda Staunton (The Pirates! Band of Misfits), Miranda Richardson (The Hours), Juno Temple (The Dark Knight Rises) and Lesley Manville (Romeo and Juliet). The film hits cinemas on March 14th - watch the trailer here.

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    It's been a long time since we've heard anything about Universal Pictures, Mandalay Pictures and Platinum Dunes' remake of the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock classic The Birds, but if you were hoping that Michael Bay's production company had forgotten about its plans, then I'm afraid you're out of luck.

    Variety is reporting that Dutch filmmaker Diederik Van Rooijen (Taped, Daylight) has signed on to direct the film, which Bay is producing alongside Andrew Form, Brad Fuller, Peter Guber and David Zelon. The project has previously passed through the hands of Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, Green Lantern) and Dennis Iliadis (Hardcore, The Last House on the Left), while Naomi Watts was attached to the Tippi Hedren role back when it was first announced in 2007.

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    Warner Bros. has released an international trailer for Jupiter Ascending, the latest sci-fi from The Matrix and Cloud Atlas directors Andy and Lana Wachowski, which sees Mila Kunis (Ted, Black Swan) and Channing Tatum (21 Jump Street, Magic Mike); check it out below...

    Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) was born under a night sky, with signs predicting that she was destined for great things. Now grown, Jupiter dreams of the stars but wakes up to the cold reality of a job cleaning toilets and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when Caine (Channing Tatum), a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down does Jupiter begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all along – her genetic signature marks her as next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos. 

    Also featuring in the cast of Jupiter Ascending are Sean Bean (Game of Thrones), Eddie Redmayne (Les Miserables), Douglas Booth (Noah), Tuppence Middleton (Trance), Doona Bae (Cloud Atlas), and James D'Arcy (Hitchcock).

    Jupiter Ascending is set for release on July 18th in North America and arrives here in the UK on July 25th

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    According to Ralph Fiennes, production on the 24th instalment of the James Bond franchise will begin shooting this October ahead of its release in the UK on October 23rd and in North America on November 6th. "It’s meant to start shooting in October," Fiennes tells MTV News. "I haven’t read a script yet, so I can’t tell you much. They’d probably swear me to secrecy anyway."

    So far, virtually nothing is known about Bond 24, apart from the fact that the film will reunite Daniel Craig with Skyfall director Sam Mendes, screenwriter John Logan and co-stars Fiennes (M) and Ben Whishaw (Q). Meanwhile, both Naomie Harris (Moneypenny) and Rory Kinnear (Tanner) are also expected to reprise their roles, while there's been speculation as to whether 007's nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld will make his return to the iconic spy series.

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    Vincent D'Onofrio and Irrfan Khan heading to Jurassic WorldDeadline has revealed that two more actors have been cast in the fourth instalment of the Jurassic Park franchise, with Vincent D'Onofrio (Full Metal Jacket, Law & Order: Criminal Intent) and Irrfan Khan (Life of Pi, The Amazing Spider-Man) have joined Jurassic World in villainous roles.

    Jurassic World is being produced by Steven Spielberg, with Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) handling directing duties. Also featuring in the cast of the dino-sequel are Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy), Bryce Dallas Howard (Spider-Man 3), Ty Simpkins (Iron Man 3) and Nick Robinson (The Kings of Summer).

    Jurassic World is set for release on June 12th, 2015.

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    Writer Mark Millar (Kick-Ass, Jupiter's Legacy) teams with artist Goran Parlov (The Punisher, Fury MAX) this week as "Flash Gordon meets The Dark Knight" with the arrival of the new superhero series Starlight; here's a preview of the first issue...

    "Forty years ago, Duke McQueen was the space hero who saved the universe. But then he came back home, got married, had kids, and grew old. Now his children have left and his wife has passed away, leaving him alone with nothing except his memories...until a call comes from a distant world asking him back for his final and greatest adventure. This issue launches the much-anticipated Millarworld Universe. Get in on the start of something MASSIVE!"








    Starlight #1 goes on sale this coming Wednesday, March 5th, priced $2.99.

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    It seems that Oscorp is trying to distance itself from Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) and his alter-ego The Lizard after the events of The Amazing Spider-Man, with the latest Daily Bugle viral article for the upcoming superhero sequel revealing that Norman Osborn's (Chris Cooper) company is putting an end to its cross-genetics research - the very research that also led to the creation of Andrew Garfield's wall-crawler...

    Oscorp Ends Cross-Genetics Research

    By Joy Mercado

    Oscorp Industries announced today that it has destroyed any and all research it has done in the horrifying field of cross-genetics.

    This news comes in the wake of the recent sentencing of former Oscorp geneticist turned terrifying lizard creature Dr. Curt Connors.

    Once a pioneer in the field of cross-genetics, Connors’s work transformed him into a literal monster who rampaged across Manhattan.

    The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is set for release on April 18th 2014 in the UK and on May 1st 2014 in North America, with a cast that also includes returning stars Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy), Sally Field (Aunt May), Chris Zylka (Flash Thompson), Campbell Scott (Richard Parker), Embeth Davidtz (Mary Parker), Martin Sheen (Ben Parker) and Denis Leary (George Stacy) alongside new additions include Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained) as Electro, Dane DeHaan (Chronicle) as Harry Osborn, Paul Giamatti (12 Years a Slave) as The Rhino, Chris Cooper (American Beauty) as Norman Osborn, Colm Feore (Thor) as Donald Menken, Marton Csokas (The Lord of the Rings) as Dr. Kafka, B.J. Novak (The Office) as Alistair Smythe, and Felicity Jones (Like Crazy) and Sarah Gadon (Cosmopolis) in as yet unrevealed roles.

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    Warner Bros. releases yet another 300: Rise of an Empire trailerConsidering we've been absolutely bonbared with posters, trailers, clips and TV spots over the past few months, there's a good chance you've already made up your mind whether you plan on seeing 300: Rise of an Empire, but just in case you're still on the fence, Warner Bros. has dropped yet another trailer for the follow-up to Zack Snyder's 300, which you can check out right here...

    Based on Frank Miller's latest graphic novel Xerxes, and told in the breathtaking visual style of the blockbuster 300, this new chapter of the epic saga takes the action to a fresh battlefield - on the sea - as Greek general Themistokles attempts to unite all of Greece by leading the charge that will change the course of the war. 300: Rise of an Empire pits Themistokles against the massive invading Persian forces led by mortal-turned-god Xerxes, and Artemisia, vengeful commander of the Persian navy.

    300: Rise of an Empire sees Noam Murro (Smart People) directing a cast that features returning 300 stars Lena Headey, Rodrigo Santoro and David Wenham alongside Sullivan Stapleton (Animal Kingdom), Eva Green (Dark Shadows), Jack O'Connell (Skins), Hans Matheson (Clash of the Titans), and Callan Mulvey (Zero Dark Thirty).

    300: Rise of an Empire opens on March 7th.

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    Trevor Hogg chats with writers Mike Raicht and Austin Harrison along with illustrator Zach Howard about turning their creative relationship into a business partnership starting with the release of Wild Blue Yonder.  As an added bonus preview pages of Wild Blue Yonder #4 have been included... 

    Mike Raicht
    “My grandmother is a writer, but other than that no one is really all that artistic,” states Mike Raicht.  “We all love to talk and tell stories when we get together, but I don’t think that’s common in a lot of families.  I spent a lot of time reading as a kid and I think it was just something I was always drawn to.”  A space opera created by filmmaker George Lucas served as an introduction to the world of comic books.  “When I was very young, maybe 4 years old or so, my dad bought me the Star Wars [1977] movie adaptation from Sears; one of the giant sized ones. It had deleted scenes from the original script in it including Biggs scenes and another one with a humanoid, green looking Jabba. I still have it and have passed it on to my son. It is in horrid condition from being read so many times, but it is still special to me.”  A group of mutants have left a lasting impression.  “I grew up a huge X-Men fan. I couldn’t get enough of the mutant world. Now, I’m probably more apt to try an indie book. I’m not sure if I have a favourite comic right now. As far as movies go, I’m really excited for the upcoming X-Men movie. My favourite one, that I really dug, was Dredd[2012].”  Raicht observes,   “For the most part, minus a few top flight creators, the project usually comes first, and then the interest from Hollywood comes in once the comic is a reality. However, it only makes sense that companies would want to think about the complete potential of a product before green lighting it. Comic book publishers have to think in much bigger terms today than in the past.”

    Austin Harrison
    “I was close to my uncle who did a lot of interesting things; he showed me some of the reconstructive work he did on cancer victims,” recalls Austin Harrison.  “He would have to sketch his plan of attack.  I was always interested in art on my own.  When I was with my family growing up we spent a lot of time in museums and that was the empathised behind it all.”  A school encounter served to further an interest in comic books.  “I loved Tintinas a kid and then discovered Conanwhen I was in fifth or sixth grade; that really caught my eye.  In fact I didn’t even see the Conan books.  I saw a kid above me who was a great illustrator drawing Conan and I remember running up to him and asking, ‘What is that?’  He said, ‘It’s Conan.  You have to check it out.’  Just visually I was into it by the get-go.”  Harrison remarks, “I always find it tough with favourites because I like so many different things.  I thought Road to Perdition was fantastic both as the book and movie.  I’m a big Paul Newman [The Sting] fan and thought it was well done all around.  Tom Hanks [Captain Phillips] and Jude Law [Dom Hemingway] were great in it.  I liked Sin City too both as a book and a movie and also Tintin.”  The multi-media universe cannot be ignored.  “You can’t get away with saying, ‘It doesn’t matter if it’s anything else than this book.’  I don’t think even creators think that way either.  As creators we want to do the most we can with the property so you can spread the enjoyment around to more people in different mediums if you can.”

    Zach Howard
    “My father was a Combat Engineer, and my mother was a Dental Assistant,” states Zach Howard.  “I had quite a bit of time to myself growing up, and passed the hours drawing Conan and robots.”  Comic books were first encountered when the military youth was living in Europe.   “When I was about eight years old growing up on a base in Germany the local shopette carried the Conan magazine. It blew my mind, and I quickly became obsessed.”  The illustrator shares some similar tastes with colleague Austin Harrison.  “My favourite comic book is the first Sin City, and my favourite comic book movie would be Road to Perdition [2002].” The box office success of comic book movies is not entirely what it seems.  “The ‘golden age’ is primarily a façade.  Most of the moviemaking crazy money is established properties that come with rabid built in audiences.  When Marvel or DC make a crappy movie, it doesn’t matter; the fans of the characters will show up almost regardless [by let me add that there have been a few outstanding Marvel and DC movies].   However, when you are indie, it’s really tough to bring a substantial fan base with you.   It takes Walking Dead numbers to bring success most of the time.”

    “We recognized that the three of us collaborating could do something unique and special,” remarks Austin Harrison who has founded a comic book publishing company with Mike Raicht and Zach Howard. “I can only speak the way we approach projects we take on in terms of the three of us with Nobel Transmission.  For us, it’s about the quality of the story and characters.”  The apocalyptic tale about a female teenage fighter pilot called Wild Blue Yonder led to the formation of the business and creative partnership.   “Zach Howard and I started on this project together about five years or so ago,” explains Mike Raicht.  “It was something we were talking about doing if we ever had the time. Finally, with Kickstarter out there as an option we decided to go for it. Zach and Austin had been working together on some projects together and Zach said he was a stupendous story person. Austin, Zach and I worked on building the world and discussing the characters. We developed a real sense of who everyone in our story was and their motivations. Then usually I go off and take a pass at the script. After that, Zach and Austin will give notes. We’ll discuss them. Then I’ll go off and take another pass. It’s a good working model for us so far.”

    Wild Blue Yonderis different from previous projects for Zach Howard.  “I have the freedom to make a comic book at the highest level [within my skillset, of course], without pressure from some pathetic publisher to work with their talentless, hack friends who’s only goal is to cash a paycheque, and get books out as humanly possible with little emphasis on quality storytelling.  IDW allows me to basically art-direct the series, and I think it’s safe to say that the proof is in the pudding. There is no soulless cronyism with our series.  Our only goal is to make the best comic book you’ve ever read.”   Austin Harrison notes, “IDW has done a great job of being supportive of letting us do our own thing which has been great.  One of the things neat about doing a comic book is that you don’t have quite as many people in the kitchen which is not always bad.  It’s a fun intimate atmosphere.  Nelson Daniel our colourist has been fantastic and has been a big piece of what we’ve been able to do.”

    “The idea was to make it a run down, functional world, with some science fiction elements in it,” remarks Mike Raicht.  “The Wild Blue Yonder world has been like this for some time to the characters living in it, so it would only make sense to make things run down and a bit worn. Zach is interested in creating a real world that makes sense and pushed everyone to make this a reality that felt lived in. However, there will most likely be groups out there, depending on where they came from, who will have more hi-tech equipment. Even the Judge’s fleet is a bit different from the Dawn and her crew. It all would depend on where and when you developed your flying barge.”   The retro-look appealed to Zach Howard.  “I love the romantic feel of WWII aircraft, and most machinery in this world is salvaged.  I came up with the idea that the crew of the Dawn salvaged planes from an old museum.   I wanted this book to not get bogged down with the sci-fi aspect of most futuristic stories so we blend old with the new.   To me that feels far more engaging because the reader can identify with certain aspects of WBY life without a complete suspension of reality.  It helps ground the world and characters visually so Mike can tell his story without bogging down the readers with completely foreign world; that and it looks cool.”

    “The most important thing to me as a writer is to make the characters feel like they are real and making choices that make sense,” explains Mike Raicht.  “They are a family do anything they can to survive, but at the same time Cola and her mother are dealing with a very difficult time in their relationship, like any mother and teen daughter might. If the characters are believable, that’s a great first step.  It also helps that Zach is one of the best artists on the planet and can make anything we come up with feel and look like it is the most natural thing in the world.”  Zach Howard conducted some visual research for the Steampunk world of Wild Blue Yonder.  “I studied some aircraft tech from multiple areas [including future tech] when I was designing the series, but I can honestly say not all that much research.  Or at least now of days, I pretty much draw the goofy stuff floating around in my head.  Usually when I research things, it’s to make certain that the machinery I’ve created looks like it works.  I’ll study how landing gear operates or things of that nature.”

    “I do my best to just write and describe the scene as I see it in my head,” explains Mike Raicht.  “A lot of it begins in the discussion/dialogue stage as I hear character speaking to one another. I build the scene around the conversation and try to give it a time and place that is interesting. I trust Zach and Nelson to take it from there and they exceed my expectations on every panel. I’m very lucky.”  Zach Howard reveals,  “I always wanted to do a sepia toned book, but that was only a starting point in the development.  Nelson and I talked about how we would handle things, and I asked him to do muted, but heavily rendered palette.  It seemed to come together rather quickly from there.  It’s important to note that this notion of mine came from wanting to match the desperateness of the world of WBY; it is a hard, and dirty living situation, and I want it to feel like that.  There isn’t much colour in the character’s lives, so I don’t show much in the world they inhabit.  There are I believe three times in the entire series that we actually show blue sky for instance.  I want the moments to feel special.”   The effort has not been lost upon Austin Harrison.  “I’ve been impressed by what Nelson Daniel working with Zach has been able to do in terms of setting the tone with colour.  It’s been beautiful.”

    “The amount of work I have to put into each scene of the book is exhausting, but is always rewarded with the results I feel the story deserves,” states Zach Howard.  “It makes for a very long process when finishing each issue, and to be honest, I don’t have a solution to that.  I have no plans on hacking out any aspect of the visual process, and since I’m a slow illustrator, I just have to deal with it.   I put in more hours in than the average yokel dumb enough to do this for a living.”  When it comes to orchestrating page layouts, Howard explains, “I read the script a couple of times, and then when I approach the actual page I’m going to draw.  I start toying around with the thumbnails.   Sometimes this leads to me adding or subtracting panels from Mike’s script, but only to improve the visual flow and/or pacing.  When I’ve figured out a scene of these thumbnails I loosely layout the pages; then I pencil and ink, and coordinate with Nelson and Thompson to make certain that the page tells the story at the highest level we can make happen.”

    “I’m not sure we’re doing an origin story as much as we are inserting you into the world,” observes Mike Raicht.  “Hopefully, the natural conversations and discussion of the characters, as well as Tug, who is our point of view character early on, reveals more and more as we go.”  Exposition needs to be incorporated while still moving the story forward.  “I try to have the characters discuss things naturally. If I’d have a question about something, then so might a character. With our story, Tug has been a natural voice for the reader. The Dawn is a new place to him, so we’ve used him to ask questions and experience things as eyes for the reader.”  Zach Howard explains,  “My first goal when creating a character is to make them believable.  Even if they are in a fantastical situation, the characters feel like they could exist.  I designed a good looking young lady that I would have loved to meet when I was younger.  I believe that this industry is sexist [read ANY superhero book by the big two], and it was important to me to avoid this.   What drew me into the property in the first place was how Mike handled Cola; she felt like a [Hayao] Miyazaki character to me, and I’ve always dreamed of doing a coming of age tale involving a female.   I want people to realize that you can make girls sexy without having DD tits falling out of their costume… oops, I mean bathing suit with pouches.  I’ve met women that could have been Cola; I’ve never met one that could be the Huntress.   I find reality much more impactful than the unending onslaught of masturbation fantasies that most American pop culture promotes.”

    “We deal with the idea of family a lot,” notes Mike Raicht.  “Duty comes up more than once. The Judge lives by the mantra of the fittest should survive. The big one that I’m always interested in is playing off good versus good. If everyone is fighting to keep their families alive, how can we fault any of them? Trying to create a world where you can understand both the Dawn and her crew’s motivations and root for them, while also understanding and almost rooting for the group hunting them down. I’m not sure if we’ve pulled that off, but we’re going to keep trying to.”   Austin Harrison observes, “There is a coming-of-age element to this.  If you are growing up in a difficult environment then you’re going to have grow up faster than if you were growing up in a picket white fence environment with no conflict.”  In regards to writing from the perspective of a female character the theme of family dynamics is universal. “We all relate to how we connect to our parents and how certain situations and emotions affect our relationships.”  A key dramatic element is the interaction between Cola and her mother.  “That’s a big driver in the story.  It’s something that people who are interested in the book seem to grab on to.”

    A pivotal marketing tool is the cover page of a comic book.  “Design is so important because it is the main factor in making a book standout on the shelves,” states Zach Howard.  “But sometimes this doesn’t matter with some of the bigger titles.  The retards who buy Spiderman, will always buy Spiderman no matter what is on the cover so obviously the effectiveness of the cover is far less important; it’s more about branding at that point.  However, if you don’t have a half-century of product recognition backing your series, then you actually have to be much more thoughtful about the cover you are producing.  This is when design, visual impact, and story elements employed matter so much more.  As for subject material I personally don’t think it’s all that relevant to success for covers.  It just has to look good and eye-catching.   Sometimes that might mean portrait pieces, and sometimes that might mean a group action shot or an environment shot.  I’ve never seen one process outshine any others since it’s just an advertisement for the book beneath it.  Lastly, be original; that sounds like a no-brainer, but walk through a comic book store and see how many covers are almost identical.   They’re a bunch of crappy characters standing and looking at the viewer.  If you want a cover to standout, don’t do that.   You can do what every other schlep is doing or you can burn some calories and catch people’s attention.  Both avenues can be successful to certain extents.”

    “The biggest challenge for us was finding the time and resources to work on it together,” states Mike Raicht.  “Kickstarter was a huge help in getting us on the right track. Then we wanted to work with colourist Nelson Daniel who is one of the best around. IDW worked with us to make that happen. Creatively, Zach, Austin and I have always been working towards making this the best book we can.”  Wild Blue Yonder will continue to fly onto comic book shelves.  “After our initial limited series ends with issue 6, we’re planning to put out a series of one shots focusing in on some of the survivors of the final battle. We have at least one that focuses a bit on someone who doesn’t survive. We have some amazing artists who will join us for those issues. It’s pretty exciting for all of us that other artists are interested in working in the Wild Blue Yonder universe with us. We will then return with a new limited series after that with Zach back at the artistic helm.”  Zach Howard is enthusiastic about the prospect of having the apocalyptic series evolve.  “Austin and I talk quite a bit with Mike about the stories, but it’s ultimately his vision.  Since I believe in what he writes, I just find a way to make it visually impactful and sound.   As for my style, being in a situation where I can spend any amount of time needed on series, I’ve noticed my style has become very dense and realized.  I think as the story continues, my work is only going to harmonize more with the story which I’m quite excited to see unfold.”

    “I love every page as it comes in from Zach,” states Mike Raicht.  “For me, any time we have silent pages, I feel like that is a treat. I am way wordy so any time the art and story come together to pack an emotional punch silently, I’m extremely happy with it.”  Austin Harrison was a favourite scene which is featured in Wild Blue Yonder #3.  “Mike came up with that moment and he deserves credit and Zach too.  I love what Zach and Nelson Daniel did with the double page spread.  It’s beautiful.”  Zach Howard shares a lot of the visual success with his colourist.  “Oh, I don’t think I was surprised at any point, but I was very happy with how it turned out.  It’s nice to know that I can put my butt on the line, and succeed.   However, much of that credit goes to Nelson Daniel for harmonizing with my vision and also to IDW for trusting my vision.”   Raicht remarks, “Anyone interested in learning more about what Zach, Austin and I are doing with our new company Noble Transmission, please follow us on Facebook or on Twitter. We have some really exciting projects on tap for later this year, and we are always previewing pages of Zach and Nelson’s beautiful art from Wild Blue Yonder. Thank you to everyone who has picked up Wild Blue and for those who haven’t given it a try we think you’ll like it.”

    Images provided by Nobel Transmission and IDW Publishing.

    Many thanks to Mike Raicht, Austin Harrison and Zach Howard for taking the time to be interviewed.

    To learn more make sure to visit the official website for Nobel Transmission, the Twitter accounts of Mike Raicht and Austin Harrison as well as Zach Howard at DeviantArt.

    Wild Blue Yonder #4 arrives on March 5, 2014.

    Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada.

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