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Movies, TV and Comic Books

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    Marvel Studios and Sony have dominated much of the headlines this week, flooding the internet with promotional material for Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but now Fox has moved to remind us that they have their own superhero movie incoming in X-Men: Days of Future Past, releasing a couple of new promo images featuring Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page), Bishop (Omar Sy), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) and William Stryker (Josh Helman)....

    Meanwhile, Days of Future Past director Bryan Singer has spoken about the next mutant adventure, X-Men: Apocalypse, which is set to hit cinemas in 2016:

    "We're going to deal the the notion of ancient mutants - the fact they were born and existed thousands of years ago,” Singer tells Total Film (via CBM) “But it'll be a contemporary movie - well, it'll take place in the '80s... The '80s is a period now - it's hard for me to believe that! Apocalypse will have more of the mass destruction that X-Men films, to date, have not relied upon. There’s definitely now a character and a story that allow room for that kind of spectacle... We’re currently breaking the story. We’re almost ready to go. Dan Harris, Michael Dougherty and Simon Kinberg are in the office across the street from me, working on story stuff right now. It’s great to have Dan and Michael back.”

    Singer also went on to tease which characters we might see in the next sequel, stating that: "I don’t want to get too specific, but we’ll introduce familiar characters in a younger time. That’ll be fun to show the audience. I call these movies in-between-quels. It’s a mind-fuck sometimes in terms of where things fall in the timeline... It all stems back to when I did [the first] X-Men. You always want to know where a character’s going to go, what their future’s going be like. You can always sequelise. But on that film I also had actors asking ‘Who am I? Where did my character come from?’ So as a director you always need a backstory to give your actors. It may not be the right backstory, but it’s one you can give the actor to help them understand their character. These prequels are really exciting for me because they give me a chance to explore ideas I came up with more than a decade ago."

    X-Men: Apocalypse hits cinemas on May 26th 2016, while X-Men: Days of Future Past opens this May 23rd, with a cast that includes returning stars James McAvoy (Professor X), Ian McKellen (Magneto), Lucas Till (Havok), Halle Berry (Storm), Anna Paquin (Rogue), Shawn Ashmore (Iceman) and Daniel Cudmore (Colossus) alongside X-Men newcomers Evan Peters (American Horror Story) as Quicksilver, Booboo Stewart (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse) as Warpath, Omar Sy (The Intouchables) as Bishop, Fan Binbing (Iron Man 3) as Blink, Adan Canto (The Following) as Sunspot, Josh Helman (Mad Max: Fury Road) as William Stryker, and Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) as Bolivar Trask.

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    It's been a busy week for Captain America: The Winter Soldier promotional material, and now we have a couple more Disney Channel promos from the upcoming Phase Two solo sequel, which you can check out below after the official synopsis...

    "After the cataclysmic events in New York with The Avengers, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” finds Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, living quietly in Washington, D.C. and trying to adjust to the modern world. But when a S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague comes under attack, Steve becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue that threatens to put the world at risk. Joining forces with the Black Widow, Captain America struggles to expose the ever-widening conspiracy while fighting off professional assassins sent to silence him at every turn. When the full scope of the villainous plot is revealed, Captain America and the Black Widow enlist the help of a new ally, the Falcon. However, they soon find themselves up against an unexpected and formidable enemy — the Winter Soldier."

    Captain America: The Winter Soldier is set for release on March 28th in the UK and April 4th in North America, with Chris Evans (Captain America), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Sebastian Stan (Winter Soldier) Cobie Smulders (Agent Maria Hill), Hayley Atwell (Peggy Carter), Toby Jones (Arnim Zola) and Maximiliano Hernandez (Agent Jasper Sitwell) joined in the cast by MCU newcomers Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker) as Sam Wilson / Falcon, Emily VanCamp (Revenge) as Sharon Carter / Agent 13, Frank Grillo (Zero Dark Thirty) as Brock Rumlow / Crossbones, George St-Pierre (Death Warrior) as Georges Batroc / Batroc the Leaper, and Robert Redford (All Is Lost) as Alexander Pierce.

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    It's only a matter of time before the floodgates open and we're inundated with news from Star Wars: Episode VII, but as we wait with bated breath for the influx of official news, it seems we may have our first look at the logo for Disney's eagerly-anticipated return to a galaxy far, far away, with the following image "leaking" online via CBM...

    Now, there is of course the possibility of this being a fake, so I guess only time will tell...

    Star Wars: Episode VII is to be directed by J.J. Abrams (Star Trek Into Darkness), with Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Harrison Ford (Han Solo) and Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) expected to be among the Saga veterans to reprise their roles and Adam Driver (Girls) reportedly set to appear as the film's villain. The sequel will hit cinemas on December 17th, 2015.

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    The folks at the Daily Bugle have been working overtime this week; we've already had several posts from the viral site for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 this week [see here and here], and now another has arrived online, this time detailing Shocker's escape from Ryker's Island.

    Shocking Escape from Ryker's, by Ned Leeds

    Incarcerated bank robber Herman Schultz has escaped from Ryker’s Island days before the scheduled start of his trial on multiple counts of armed robbery, assault, and fleeing the scene of a crime. Schultz gained notoriety by committing his alleged crimes with the use of a homemade vibratory device that was capable of shaking a steel vault door off its anchor hinges.

    A Ryker’s Island Corrections Department spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that Schultz escaped by creating a hole through the three-foot thick concrete wall of his prison cell.

    The source said officials believe Schultz crafted vibratory gauntlets using materials he had cobbled together in the prison’s workshop over the eight-week period he’d spent in the penitentiary. Questions remain regarding how Schultz managed to leave the island and navigate the notoriously difficult currents. The Corrections Department source speculated that Schultz had outside help, saying, “He couldn’t have just pointed his wrist-things at the water and vibrated his way over the East River, could he?”

    With the villain on the loose, might we see a brief appearance when the superhero sequel swings into cinemas? We'll find out in a few short weeks...

    The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is set for release on April 18th in the UK and on May 1st in North America, with returning stars Andrew Garfield (Peter Parker / Spider-Man), 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) joined by new additions 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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    Lupita Nyong'o has met with J.J. Abrams over Star Wars: Episode VII female lead
    According to Latino-Review and The Hollywood Reporter, Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave, Non-Stop) has met with J.J. Abrams about the female lead in 2015's eagerly-anticipated return to a galaxy far, far away, Star Wars: Episode VII. Although there are no specific character details, the site speculates that the part could be that of a descendent of Obi-Wan Kenobi, which is thought to be a non-Caucasian role.

    This latest casting talk comes hot on the heels of reports suggesting that Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad), John Boyega (Attack the Block), Ed Speleers (Downton Abbey) and theatre actors Matthew James Thomas and Ray Fisher head Abrams' wishlist for the male lead. Meanwhile Girls star Adam Driver is said to be finalising a deal to star as the new villain, where he'd presumably join returning stars Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Harrison Ford (Han Solo) and Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia).

    Star Wars: Episode VII is set for release on December 18th, 2015.

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    Earlier in the week Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige once again discussed a potential solo outing in the Cinematic Universe for Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, stating that it "would be great", and now the actress herself has offered up a few thoughts on the possibility during a chat with Yahoo! Movies, stating that the film will happen if fans demand it.

    "The great thing about working with Marvel is that they are really into the audience participation,” says Johansson, who will follow-up this month's Captain America: The Winter Soldier with filming on The Avengers: Age of Ultron in April, "If the audience wants to see a Black Widow movie then that conversation can certainly be opened up. I love playing that character, she has a wonderful depth and really interesting grey area. She has no moral compass. These are all things that I think would be interesting to explore for her own spin-off."

    Could Black Widow carry her own movie, or would you prefer to see Marvel exploring newer territory like Doctor Strange, Black Panther and The Inhumans

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    J.K. Rowling releases new Harry Potter story 'History of the Quidditch World Cup'
    Harry Potter fans suffering withdrawal symptoms following the end of the wizarding saga will no doubt be delighted to know that author J.K. Rowling has returned to the world for a new 2,400 word History of the Quidditch World Cup story, which is available to read for free on The first part was released yesterday and provides historical background about the tournament, information about how the tournament works and examples of controversial tournaments, while part two will follow this coming Friday.

    "We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to publish such an imaginative and engaging story from J.K. Rowling about the history of the Wizarding world’s most exciting sport," said Susan L. Jurevics, Chief Executive Officer, Pottermore. "We’re committed to being the only digital destination where fans can discover new original content about the world of Harry Potter from J.K. Rowling. History of the Quidditch World Cup helps us not only fulfill that mission but it also serves to entertain and delight our community."

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    It's been announced that Keeley Hawes, star of Spooks and the voice of Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider video game series, will appear as Ms. Delphox, a "powerful out of this world character with a dark secret" in the upcoming eighth series of Doctor Who. Here's a look at Hawes' character, courtesy of BBC America...

    According to showrunner Stephen Moffat, "travelling across space and time the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and his companion Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) will come face to face with the mysterious Ms. Delphox when they arrive on a strange and puzzling planet."

    In addition to Hawes, it's also been announced that Samuel Anderson (Bedlam), Robert Goodman (Game of Thrones), Jonathan Bailey (Broadchurch) and Pippa Bennett-Warner (Death in Paradise) will all make guest appearances in series eight of the long-running sci-fi show, which is set to get underway later this year.

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    Machinima and Capcom have revealed that the upcoming live-action webseries Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist will debut on its entirety on Machinima's YouTube channel later in the year, and accompanying the announcement is the very first teaser for the series, which you can check out below....

    Created by Joey Ansah, who was behind the incredible Street Fighter fan film StreetFighter: Legacy, the series stars Mike Moh as Ryu, Christian Howard as Ken Masters and Ansah as Akuma, along with Togo Igawa (47 Ronin, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Last Samurai) as Gōtetsu, Akira Koieyama as Gōken, Gaku Space as Gōki, Mark Killeen (300: Rise of an Empire, The Dark Knight Rises) as Mr. Masters, and Hal Yamanouchi (The Wolverine) as Senzo.

    According to the press release, Assassin's Fist is a coming of age story for Ken & Ryu and will show "the back story of some of the game’s most iconic characters, and over the course of the series we will see how the past, present, and future of all of those characters are intertwined, as the battle to become Ansatsuken Master threatens to tear apart another generation of brothers."

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    Matt Smith reviews the thirteenth episode of Elementary season 2...

    Sherlock Holmes is obviously a character with a history. He’s one of the best-known characters in all of fiction, a character synonymous with his occupation, with the ability to be the best detective around with the aid of his friend Watson. The only trouble people seem to find is telling a story with a new twist to the Sherlock Holmes character, something they can claim is ‘theirs’.

    This Sherlock Holmes has a history too. The drug abuse that is mentioned to certain extents with other iterations is made a huge part of his life in Elementary. He also has a history with certain people, more recently and importantly Detective Marcus Bell. Two similar characters, in that they can’t shake off their detective monikers and they both bring to their respective work places a different way of doing things.

    It’s seen as a positive trait in this show (and indeed, most shows featuring police officers that go against the usual) that doing things your way will get results and be, in the end, the right way thing to do. Only once has Holmes’ methods proven a bad thing for anyone who isn’t a criminal behind bars.

    There’s a healthy dose of assumption all round this week, as Sherlock Holmes takes on the mafia. Every character in this world assumes an amount of respect will be paid within the confines of their criminal enterprise (for example, burying your enemies in accordance with religious beliefs or police happily searching without a warrant). No one is black and white, but everyone knows how it all works. Everyone bends the rules a little bit within their own social confines to get a little higher in the world.

    While Sherlock Holmes is never really known for solving crimes relating to the mafia (taking a view upon them as someone might a boring book), there’re conventions and previous archetypes to draw from, from all over the crime genre. The wise guys and knee capping Holmes looks at with almost a fond distance lets us as an audience know the show’s aware of them as a mainstay of crime stories and that they recognise they’re an important part, without things getting to meta.

    There’s a nice moment where Watson gives Holmes a few examples of other officers they’ve refused to put up with and they sound like book titles (‘Nash and the Museum Thief’, ‘Peterson and the Somalian Chef’). These moments let us having a knowing little beat to Holmes’ history and style. It’s in part a small tribute to the past.

    This episode is also all about professionalism, in that it all carries on as normal despite the events of last week. Where’s Moriarty? Is Holmes really that cold that he can move on to the next case without talking about prior events, or even stopping to ponder them? Eventually Bell realises professionalism is the way to get things done right and Holmes is proven right in the end. Again. That’s how it usually works. It’s either revelatory on his part, or he pushes everyone to see things his way.

    While that tone is slightly derisive, this week does feature such a well put together scene that I couldn’t look away, nor even blink, as the two detectives confront each other after weeks of tip-toeing round. A deceptively simple dialogue between two characters (which is set up so insignificantly it takes place in a hallway as one leaves the other’s house) plays upon what’s been built up before and plays out seemingly the only way it ever could.

    The case itself is a little confusing, what with nicknames and prior history being thrown about at a pace meaning there needs to be the conventional detective’s explanation towards the end of the episode. There’s a lighter tone that juxtaposes well with the grisly findings early on in the episode that lets the pace pick up and, for the most part, juggle everything around easily. The dismissive humour aimed at those who don’t do as they should in this world (i.e. obey Holmes’ methods) helps, though is a gag about Sherlock Holmes knowing the secret to the JFK assassination really necessary?

    In the end, the episode manages to give every different storyline its respective time, even being able to bring them together in the end like the classic detective stories of old. Elementary knows it has a history to both draw from and respect. While that may sound like it’s limiting, this situation gives us the audience a framework to start from and lets the show take it up and carry on without having to explain too much, giving the producers a sly assist. It’s a very knowing series with a lot of history. Just like its protagonist, it’s seemingly unending in its interest. This episode is just another example of great television.

    Matt Smith - follow me on Twitter.

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    Under the Skin, 2013.

    Directed by Jonathan Glazer.
    Starring Scarlett Johansson, Paul Brannigan, Jessica Mance, Krystof Hádek, Scott Dymond and Michael Moreland.


    An alien seductress preys upon hitchhikers in Scotland.

    You pay your money and you take your seat. You wait impatiently for the adverts to finish and for the other patrons to shut up and respect the dimming lights which signal something is about to begin. You’re at the cinema and for the next X number of minutes you are at the hands of the film maker; you want at the very least to be entertained, but deep down you always want that thing which separates film from other art forms, and great films from simply ‘entertaining’ ones.

    That thing is the experience. The experience of watching a film which begins to envelop before you realise it is happening, a film which pushes the medium to its limits regardless of budget, genre, star names or source material, a film where you are completely and utterly at its mercy.

    Under The Skin
    is such a film.

    I won’t tell you what it’s about or what happens because it’s my duty as a film lover to ensure I do my part to make this not merely spoiler-free but free of any hint of scene description, narrative development or my thoughts on ‘what it all means’. I freely admit that I do not know what Under The Skin is truly about, or why certain things happen to certain people, but I that would change little about my opinion on this sensational example of what can be achieved when a director has a vision and sticks to it without fear of causing confusion or contempt within the minds of some audiences.

    From the opening sequence it is obvious this isn’t your average cinema experience. Director Jonathan Glazer is telling his story with lights, colours, sounds, shapes, still camera, moving camera because this is his design and I’d not been hit with such images at the cinema before. Certainly Glazer is influenced by Stanley Kubrick and many viewers will get a ‘Lynchian’ vibe from the relentlessly unsettling score and the fact that we never, ever know what is going to happen next. Glazer keeps his audience in a state of unease for every moment of every minute for 100+ minutes. Some of the imagery is genuinely disturbing and this isn’t something I say lightly. My heart was pounding not because I was scared but because I knew Glazer had me and I was trapped, not wanting to escape.

    The film is avant-garde and experimental to the point of becoming what some may call pretentious, but to me the film was a visual experience which will last long after I get my thoughts down for you to read. I can’t recall when a film made such stunning use of shadows and darkness (both natural and artificial) as this. I want to watch it again on stunning Blu-ray in a room where light is not welcome and rejoice in the beauty of it all.

    I want to see more film makers trying to tell their stories in new ways, if they have the talent to do so which Glazer so clearly has; after the straight forward but entertaining Sexy Beast and the much more artistic but less successful Birth, Glazer has made a film which he can forever be remembered for by those fortunate enough to see it.

    For movies such as Under The Skin, which delighted the film lover in me, I will always come back to that word I’ve used several times already; Experience. It may not be my definition of a ‘perfect’ film after just one watch, but it’s my definition of why I still love the movies.

    Flickering Myth Rating - Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    Rohan Morbey - follow me on Twitter.

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    Trevor Hogg chats with J.C. De La Torre about combining fantasy and science fiction to conjure some comic book magic...

    “I come from a hard working Hispanic family that has expanded into multiple industries,” remarks J.C. De La Torre.  “As for art, I’d say no. While my wife is a cosplayer and works on her own costumes and I have a few cousins who have dabbled in singing, I’m really the only one to venture into art and entertainment industry.”  A childhood passion has carried on to adulthood.  “I’m a geek of the first degree. I’ve read comic books all my life and continue to today. I started out like every kid, with Super Hero comics. Spider-Man was my favourite growing up and I read a lot of Ghost Rider too, lots of Marvel stuff.   As I grew older my tastes changed to darker comics like 30 Days of Night, The Crow and Spawn. I also got into graphic novel adaptations like Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and franchise stuff like Doctor Who, Star Trek, Firefly and Buffy.”  Comic books have become part of a multi-media platform universe.   “Ultimately, comic book companies are interested in how they can squeeze the most out of a title. Print and Digital sales aren’t all there is. You have licensing for toys, merchandise, video games, movies, and television shows. There’s so many ways a publisher can cash in on the title if they can secure those rights.”

    “Hollywood is out of original ideas for the most part so you’re going to see them adapt comic books and novels,” observes J.C. De La Torre.  “I will say that Marvel does it right.  The Avengers [2012] movie was fabulous and RDJ is terrific as Tony Stark in the Iron Man movies. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like the new take on Spider-Man but it’s surprised me [although I thought the lizard looked terrible]. DC I’m afraid hasn’t been quite as impressive in my humble opinion. The last Dark Knight movie wasn’t very good and I’m afraid I didn’t care for Man of Steel [2013] much either.  Some of the recent casting choices for Batman, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman have left me scratching my head.  I will say Arrow [CW, 2012 to present] is brilliant television, though.”  A British time travelling icon and zombies are all part of reading list for the novelist.  “I’m currently reading Doctor Who, Artemis Fowl graphic novels and of course the one everyone’s reading, The Walking Dead.  Kirkman is a genius. I’m eagerly awaiting Steve Niles new Jack the Ripper project. I’m fascinated by the story of Jack the Ripper, in fact I’m working on my own horror comic with co-writer Martin Dunn called White Chapel that’s based on a vampire series of novellas I wrote a couple years ago.  Then there’s Doctor Who. I am a Whovian through and through. We have a TARDIS in our home. If I have one dream it’s to write comics for Doctor Who [come on Titan, I’m ready]. I was so disappointed that IDW wasn’t able to continue with Doctor Who, I think their work has been fantastic.  For movies, it’s been mostly the Marvel stuff. Iron Man, Thor, Spider-Man, and X-Men; I’ve loved most of them. I wish we could expand a little bit, though to some other characters. I had high hopes with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. [ABC, 2014] that have yet to come to fruition.”

    Known for authoring Ancient Risingand Rise of the Ancients Annuna, J.C. De La Torre is delving into the world of comic books.  “I think my writing style translates well to comics. I try to be very visual and descriptive. I’ve always tried to think from a reader’s point of view. If I start exposition on character’s inner thoughts and desires I ask myself, ‘If I am reading this, would I give a crap?’ If yes, then continue on. No, chuck it. Ancient Rising and to a lesser extent Annuna have the pacing of a movie or a comic book. I think that pacing is something I’ve taken to Star Mage and it keeps the story moving without losing key information or elements.”   There are creative differences between the two writing mediums.   “With a novel, you have hundreds [if not thousands] of pages to get your point across. In comics, you have finite amount of pages and panels to work with and you have to keep the reader turning that page to find out what happens next.”  Preparation is essential.  I’ve always outlined my stories; it’s a tool I use to keep myself on track to the end goal. Certainly inspiration comes to you and you’ll deviate a little here and there but for the most part it’s a journey from point A to point B. If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you ever get there?  With comics it’s a lot more difficult because not only are you plotting for 22-24 pages, but you have multiple issues. You have to architect your story to make sense and have natural stopping points that will entice your reader to pick up Issue #2 and find out what happens. Each comic is its own little adventure adding to the greater whole of the series plotline.”

    Star Mage revolves around teenager Darien Connors who discovers he has magical powers and a pivotal role to play in an ancient war being waged between two alien races of necromancers.  “The landscape of young adult fantasy is littered with carcasses of wannabes and neverwere’s,” notes J. C. De La Torre.  “Darien’s story came to me in a dream, shortly after the last Harry Potter film. I’m a great admirer of Rowling and the world she’s built but the dream I had was vastly different.  Darien isn’t a Harry clone; his story is probably more Last Starfighter [1984] than the wizarding world. But I also wanted to try to do something you don’t see very often, except maybe in Star Wars, and that’s to merge the mystical with the science fiction.  I wanted wizard duels with a slice of spaceship warfare. I wanted deep magical mythos combined with alien worlds and strange creatures and to put Darien in a situation where he’s going against his own family and defending an Empire he knows nothing about. I hope it’s unique and different than anything anyone’s read. I’m sure there will be plenty of ‘Well, that’s just like this story,’ or ‘Hey, he’s lifting that from here…’ because in a genre this cluttered there bound to be things that seem a lot like something else.  I didn’t read a lot of young adult fiction so I’m not familiar with a lot of the standard tropes that are out there; that may be a help or a hindrance. I guess we’ll find out.”

    Darien Connors embarks upon a classic odyssey of discovery which is described by Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces.  “You know, I’ve never really thought of it in that way but you’re absolutely right,” reflects J.C. De La Torre.  “It is similar to Campbell’s hero’s journey in many ways. I don’t know if I check off all the stages but there’s definitely a few I partake in.  I’m geek for history and myth. I wanted to give Darien his own backstory and a deep mythos surrounding the Sarru Kishpu.”  Star Mage #1 features the artwork of Ray Dillon and the guidance of IDW Publishing Editor Tom Waltz (Teenage Mutant NinjaTurtles).  “It’s definitely been a learning process making a transition to comics. Ray Dillon helped me understand what he needs as an artist and I was able to adapt that well. Ray and I went our separate ways after issue one; it was nothing nefarious just a lack of cohesion in our schedules. If it weren’t for Ray we wouldn’t be with IDW. I continued working with our new artist Franco Cespedes in a similar fashion. The key is to really be visual in your description.  Get how you see that particular panel in your head, then pull back and see how the panel looks in relation to the entire page. Some have to draw it out but for me I can pretty much do it in my head. Then I have to transfer that vision in words to the artist. It’s not as easy as one would think, but thankfully I’ve had a synergy with Ray and Franco that has allowed for us to put together a beautifully flowing work.  As for Tom, he keeps me from going off the rails, man! Tom’s been an awesome editor to work with. I’ve read those pages a hundred times and he still finds mistakes I missed.”

    “The narration and the dialogue have to continue to move the story,” believes J.C. De La Torre.  “It must provide information to the reader and also elicit emotional responses. You want the reader to care about what is being said.”  Exposition has to be incorporated without bringing the action to a halt.  “There’s information you have to get to your reader for them to understand what’s happening but you can’t do it without continuing on the story; the way I approached it in issue one was in flashback while Darien is being bullied by some kids at school. While he’s strung up on that flagpole, Darien is flashing back to how he got to this point.  In the ensuing issues, I used more dream states and a spell that melded the memories of Arylos and Darien to pass this information to the user.”  The opening flagpole scene also served another purpose. “I felt that at least in the comic realm, you really needed something to get the reader’s attention. I don’t know if everyone does this but I know when I’m at the local shop considering a comic or graphic novel and I’m not familiar with the writer, I’ll check out the cover, then look at the first few pages.  Those pages need to have something interesting going on or I’m moving on to something else. I felt the first five pages couldn’t start linear with Darien going to school, chatting up Gemma and then getting bullied by Tristan. It wouldn’t pop enough. But put the kid tied up on the flagpole with weird magical powers and it makes a covenant with the reader that says, “Yes, we’re starting out at the school but buddy [or lady], you’re in for a wild and crazy ride.” 

    “I allowed Ray to design the first cover,” reveals J.C. De La Torre.  “Being a newbie in comics, I relied on his expertise in bringing something amazing to the table and if I may be so bold – mission accomplished. Since then, I’ve worked in tandem with Franco to come up with the covers for the rest of the series. I’ve been very pleased with each one.  As for what makes an effective one? To me the cover is another covenant with your reader. ‘Amazing things are in here” it has to scream. You need to have one that stands out with a logo that’s instantly recognizable and gives you a slight spoiler on the front.  It needs to be something that shops want to put on their displays and stands out in comparison to the rest of the comics on the rack.  After all, if you have a bad cover, no one’s going to bother picking it up.” The original vision is not far off from the final version.  “I always saw Darien as the key to everything; he’s just a nerdy kid who is put in a situation he doesn’t understand. His parents are gone, Darien has these weird powers and he’s been [in a sense] kidnapped.  The story has pretty much tracked along as I expected it to. There were a few things I changed up here or there but for the most part it is what I envisioned.”   De La Torre adds, “When you’re writing for comics, the wow moment is when you get a page and it looks exactly how you saw it in your mind’s eye; that’s happened about 95% of the time working with Ray and Franco.”

    J.C. De La Torre
    “The first issue was a bear to get done,” admits J.C. De La Torre.  “Many don’t know this but a lot of time it’s the writer/creator that has to foot the bill. To get the project started, I dipped into my own pocket and even that wasn’t enough; we had to complete a Kickstarter to finish the first issue and get us a head start on the rest of the series.  To get a beautiful looking book that can achieve your vision, you need to hire talented artists and those aren’t cheap.  Ray also had to struggle through some family emergencies and dealing with bigger projects that kept delaying issue one over and over. It wasn’t anyone’s fault as we were just victims of lady luck. Like I said before, without his involvement, IDW doesn’t look twice at us.  I’d like to thank Chris Ryall and IDW for being so patient with us. Once issue one was finally done and Franco came aboard it’s been peddle to the metal and a beautiful thing.” 

    The mystery of disappearing astronaut who happens to be the father of the protagonist will be explored in future issues.  “This first series is one of discovery. Darien discovers his true lineage and destiny; that he has it in him to be strong, and can be a valued leader,” states J.C. De La Torre.  “We also discover the Sarru Kishpu – the Kings of Sorcery and their world. Are they benevolent magical policemen of the universe or are they the evil empire?   If comic gods willing, we do well and IDW wants to continue - Series Two will introduce some new enemies for Darien and his friends, have some time travel elements and take the story to a different track. I’m really excited about series two. I really hope we get a chance to make it.”  De La Torre notes, “I have a feeling Star Mage will surprise a lot of people as the series progresses. You learn more about Darien, his magic powers, his alien friends, the civil war within his own family.  I hope it will capture the imagination of the comics community and they will want to play in this universe some more.”

    Images courtesy of IDW Publishing and J.C. De La Torre.

    Many thanks to J.C. De La Torre for taking the time for this interview.

    To learn more visit the official websites for IDW Publishing, Star Mage and J.C. De La Torre.

    Star Mage #1 arrives in mid-April 2014.

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

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    Megan Applegate recaps the third episode of Vikings Season 2...

    “Hide the good silver, the Northmen are coming”

    When we last left Ragnar and his merry men, they’d had gone a-Viking and landed a little off the mark—in Wessex and in the kingdom of a rather menacing Ecbert.

    “Treachery” opens with our band of Vikings walking upon a church while the bells sound and people scurry this way and that. We’ve spent so much time as viewers watching the personal struggle of Ragnar and his family that we (or me, specifically) forgot what Vikings do when Vikings make landfall. This episode was pretty rife with violent axe hacking and pillaging in search of treasure.

    It doesn’t sit well with poor Athelstan who spent a brief few moments fondly remembering transcribing the Bible but who instinctively killed a young monk who took him by surprise. The church’s priest sees poor Athelstan as nothing more than a savage and not the Saxon he used to be.

    Floki seems to be testing our young Athelstan more and more and one can’t help but wonder why. Has he always disliked the young priest? Does he see treachery ahead like he saw with Rollo? Or is his heavy kohl liner running into his eyes, obscuring his view? I’m not sure, but Floki looks more and more hostile with each episode.

    Meanwhile in his crowded Roman-style bath house, King Ecbert and a host of naked, uncomfortable looking men discuss the recent events. While speaking to the Bishop, Ecbert makes it clear his more than willing to provide his holy men the chance for martyrdom if it means using them as bait against the raiders.

    Speaking of hostile, King Horik proved himself blood thirsty by hacking to pieces the Bishop of Wessex’s escort when the man of the cloth arrived to speak to the Vikings about their terms.

    In the chaos of all the hacking and killing, Ragnar distances himself a little—first by concealing a hiding child from his band of marauders and then again by showing a distinct interest in the church’s grain supply. He’s a farmer who was born the son of a farmer. He sees potential in the new land—a place where men like him could plant their own food and not suffer through harsh winters and starvation. An idea has taken seed in Ragnar, pardon the pun. You see it in his eyes that English soil may prove more valuable to him than English gold in the near future.

    “The scene in which Bjorn grows by about four feet”

    We finally catch up with Lagertha who has remarried a rich Jarl of her own. Except he’s kind of a nasty piece of work and when gives him a little lip, he bloodies hers with a wicked backhand. Its obvious Bjorn hates his stepfather and the feeling’s obviously mutual when the Lagertha’s husband insults both her and her son at dinner, refusing to let Bjorn go off in search of adventure on his own. This new husband drops Ragnar’s name a time or two, so it’s obvious he’s a bit jealous of the enormous shadow Bjorn’s father casts. It seems imminent that Lagertha, Bjorn, and Ragnar will be in the same orbit again. Thank goodness.

    “Meet my son, the one with the snake eye”

    Back in Kattegat, Aslaug has finally provided Ragnar with his fourth son, named Sigurd after her father. And for the strange snake shape in one of his irises. The show offered no other hints as to what the feature meant, other than solidifying the fact that Aslaug was, in fact, the seeress she claimed to be.

    “Borg’s Boats Knockin’ at the Fjord”

    Jarl Borg celebrated his second wedding with a toast—and a promise to take revenge on Ragnar and Rollo both, especially now that it was common knowledge that Ragnar sailed west with all the best warriors Kattegat had.

    Borg’s ship arrive and Rollo does his best with the gnarled old men, women, and children he can muster. Siggy even earned a few points when she came running to the water front brandishing a shield and a sword four sizes too big for her. She’s no Lagertha and both she and Rollo know it—but at least she tried. For someone so concerned with saving her skin in the past, it was actually a redeeming moment. Naturally, Rollo sends her away to the mountains with Aslaug and the children.

    It wasn’t much of a fight and before long, Rollo is convinced to follow Siggy and Aslaug to take care of Ragnar’s family and the rest of the town is mowed down by Borg’s men. No one is spared and in the final scene, Borg is walking around Ragnar’s great hall with a smug, satisfied grin on his face.

    Next week’s teaser shows the bad news makes it all the way to Ragnar. Here’s hoping those longboats have a rocket booster hidden in them somewhere.

    Megan Applegate

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    Brogan Morris continues our Al Pacino retrospective with Heat....

    On release, Michael Mann’s Heat was sold as a showdown between the two greatest actors of a generation. Al Pacino would play a driven, half-crazed detective named Vincent Hanna, while De Niro would be career criminal Neil McCauley, Hanna’s nemesis by circumstance. But the much-hyped coffee shop scene the two actors share together would come and, ultimately, underwhelm. Not because the scene is badly written or because Pacino and De Niro lack chemistry – it was because Heat was always so much more than its casting coup. It was, and is, the crime epic of the 90s.

    Pacino and De Niro are supported by a triumphant cast: Tom Noonan, Natalie Portman, Ted Levine, Wes Studi, Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore pre-career suicide and a relatively restrained Val Kilmer all lend colour to the broad canvas on which Heat is drawn. Pacino steals the show, though not always respectfully, treading a line between intentional dramatics and exaggerated self-parodying. But for scenery chewing, this is among some of Al’s best work; the “she’s got a GREAT ASS” line, delivered to an unsuspecting and appropriately shocked Hank Azaria, is a thing of towering beauty.

    Truthfully, neither Pacino nor De Niro are at their best here – Pacino frequently overdoes it, whereas De Niro gives an ordinary performance as an ordinary character (it’s an early warning of the bland De Niro we’d soon have to look forward to, as his career entered paycheque season). But Mann sells the ‘two sides of the same coin’ thing between cop and crook, and besides he’s not making an in-depth character study here – with Heat, Michael Mann wants to make the crime movie his career had been building towards, and he succeeds.

    With one of the US’s largest cities as the backdrop (LA plays itself to perfection), Heat is a big-scale thriller not so much of the cat-and-mouse variety, but one in which the principal opponents on either side of the law appear equally matched. The outcome is unknown – both Hanna and McCauley are flawed and just as deserving of our sympathy, and neither honestly represents law and order or a criminal element. Not really, anyway – they're just two men who need the chase, with neither expressly concerned about what line of work they’ve individually chosen.

    It relieves Heat of any self-righteous notions of ‘good’ or ‘bad’, and purifies things for the typically ascetic Mann, who strips back dialogue, character development and visual flair for the sake of his main concern: the obsession of men at work, men who are able to sacrifice any kind of personal life for that all-consuming chase. It culminates in a quiet one-on-one at an airport more nail-biting than even the film’s blustering bank robbery centrepiece. Maybe Heat takes itself a tad too seriously, like all of Mann’s work, but if the director’s ever come close to genuine emotion, then it can be found in the form of an existential lament at the end of this film.

    Brogan Morris - Lover of film, writer of words, pretentious beyond belief. Thinks Scorsese and Kubrick are the kings of cinema, but PT Anderson and David Fincher are the young princes. Follow Brogan on Twitter if you can take shameless self-promotion.

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    Our weekly round up of the latest stories from the world of screen superheroes, including Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America 3, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Black Widow, Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Luke Cage, Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Venom, Sinister Six, The Fantastic Four, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Batman vs. Superman, Gotham, Arrow, The Flash, Constantine and more....

    It's been a bumper week for superhero news, so we'll get things underway with the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which is set to open here in the UK in just eleven days time (we'll have our review up this coming week). Naturally we've been treated to a wealth of promotional material for the Phase Two sequel this week, including propaganda-style posters for Cap (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), Falcon (Sam Wilson), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) [see here], plenty of new footage courtesy of two clips [see here and here], a Falcon featurette [see here] and three Disney Channel promos [see here and here], along with a batch of concept art [see here] and promo images for The Winter Soldier, Falcon, Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) and Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo). And if all that isn't enough, you can also check out highlights of the Captain America: The Winter Soldier red carpet world premiere over on YouTube...

    ...With Captain America: The Winter Soldier tracking an $80 million + opening weekend in the States alone, it looks certain that the sequel will continue Marvel's run of blockbuster success; however, it's  Steve Rogers next solo outing that has grabbed much of the headlines this week, with Marvel confirming that Captain America 3will occupy the studio's May 6th 2016 release date, which will put Steve Rogers squarely up against Warner Bros.'Man of Steel sequel Batman vs. Superman, and Kevin Feige has confirmed that Marvel has no plans to the release, despite competition from DC's big guns. Meanwhile, with The Winter Soldier helmers Anthony and Joe Russo confirmed to return for Captain America 3, Joe took the opportunity to speak briefly about the threequel, stating that, "We’re just in the formative stages of it right now. We just started breaking story with [screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely] and we’re just getting an idea of what we wanna do with it. It’s crazy working on it before the movie even comes out because you want to see what people respond to in the film. You want to get some inspiration from what people like about the film so you go, ‘Okay, this is what we gotta lean into in the next movie’ or ‘this is what we should move away from, this didn’t work so well.’ So we’re just in that phase of breaking story but waiting to see how people respond to the movie..."

    ...Turning to Marvel's second release of 2014 and Kevin Feige, director James Gunn and star Chris Pratt have taken part in a live streaming interview about the cosmic superhero ensemble Guardians of the Galaxy [watch the interview here], while former Doctor Who star Karen Gillan has discussed her villainous role as Nebula, as well as teasing a big fight scene with Zoe Saldana's Gamora: "There's a big girlie fight sequence, but it's not that girlie. They made sure there weren't any nice pirouettes or anything like that. This is the integral one for my character, because it's not just a physical battle. Their relationship goes very deep, and there's a huge history between them. So there's a lot more to it than just the physical..."

    ...As production gears up on The Avengers: Age of Ultron ahead of principal photography next month, several of Earth's Mightiest Heroes have taken the opportunity to praise Joss Whedon's script for the hotly-anticipated 2015 sequel - check out the thoughts of Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth and Scarlett Johansson...

    ...In a couple of other bits and pieces from Phase Three of the MCU, Michael Pena (American Hustle) has revealed that he's yet to officially sign on alongside Paul Rudd (Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues), Michael Douglas (Behind the Candelabra) and Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring) in Edgar Wright's Ant-Man; Scott Derrickson (Sinister) has been tipped as one of three directors on the shortlist for the director's chair on Doctor Strange alongside Mark Andrews (Brave) and Jonathan Levine (Warm Bodies)...

    ...And as for possible future Marvel movies, Kevin Feige has spoken more about a potential solo movie for Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, stating that: "I think the idea would be great. We've got various outlines and ideas of where to take that. As Scarlett already said, there's a big element that explores her back story in an upcoming Marvel feature. The question really is, 'When will we take her out of the ensemble and have her do her own thing?' As you saw in [Captain America: The Winter Soldier], as you'll see in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, she's really the key to so much of the plot development." Meanwhile, Johansson has suggested that a Black Widow movie could happen, if there's enough fan demand: "The great thing about working with Marvel is that they are really into the audience participation. If the audience wants to see a Black Widow movie then that conversation can certainly be opened up. I love playing that character, she has a wonderful depth and really interesting grey area. She has no moral compass. These are all things that I think would be interesting to explore for her own spin-off..."

    ...Thor and Thor: The Dark World star Jaimie Alexander made a guest appearance in Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this past week [read Anghus Houvouras' review here], which delivered a solid ratings boost for the show, with the episode 'Yes Men' up 11% from the previous season-low. Meanwhile, Alexander also took a moment to discuss Marvel's penchant for delivering strong female characters [read her comments here], while it's been announced that Adrian Pasdar (Heroes, Avengers Assemble) is set to feature in the series, taking on the role of Major Glenn Talbot - you can check out a first-look image of Pasdar in costume, complete with moustache, here...

    ...With Marvel's Netflix series gearing up to commence production later in the year, Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Terry Crews has admitted that he'd be interested in playing Luke Cage, despite suggestions that he's too old for the role of Power Man: "Anything can happen. All I know is scheduling and all that stuff—anything can happen. I’m open to all kinds of things, but who knows? Actually I took myself out of the Luke Cage running a while back, just because it was people trying to put people against each other. [It was] Idris Elba vs. Michael Jai White and I’m like, ‘Wait a minute, this is not even greenlit! Can we talk to Marvel? Why are you talking to me? Don’t put me against my homeboy for a movie that’s not existing.’ I said, ‘Take me out!’ I heard [it’s greenlit] but I haven’t gotten any calls. I’ve been hearing stuff like, ‘oh you’re too old,’ and I’m like, ‘Man do my workout 20 years ago and we’ll talk about who’s too old (laughs).’ Like I said, anything can happen, I never rule anything out. I’m game. There are no rules. What’s up, Marvel? I’m right here, baby. I ain’t goin nowhere. You know where I live..."

    ...On Tuesday, ABC will air an hour-long documentary special entitled Marvel Studios: Assembling a Universe which explores the Marvel Cinematic Universe and promises new footage from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., along with our very first look at The Avengers: Age of Ultron; check out a promo and clip from the special here...

    ...While we're on the subject of Marvel documentaries, a new online series entitled Marvel's Tales to Astonish has been announced at SXSW; the series will consist of 13-minute episodes that aim to put the comic book publisher's classic stories into a larger context and is set to get underway with the 2006-2007 crossover event Civil War from writer Mark Millar and artist Steve McNiven; you can read more about the series from Marvel's vice president of digital content and programming John Cerilli here...

    ...And on the Marvel animation front, seven clips and behind-the-scenes featurettes from the direct-to-video anime feature Marvel's Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher, which you can see here. The movie features the voice talents of Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter) and Brian Bloom (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3) as the super spy and the gun-toting vigilante, and is released on March 25th...

    ...Moving on from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and with Sony's Amazing Spider-Man 2 due for release in a few short weeks, the studio's marketing department has continued its promotional blitz, giving us even more footage in four new clips [see here and here] and two international TV spots [see here], along with four viral articles from the Daily Bugle viral site [see here, here and here] and a new promo image of Spidey (Andrew Garfield) squaring up against The Rhino (Paul Giamatti) - which is of course advertising a new trailer set to arrive early next week. It's also been announced that the superhero sequel will receive its world premiere on London on April 10th (the film is due out in the UK on April 18th and in North America on May 2nd), while director Marc Webb has moved to reassure fans concerned over the number of villains, stating that: "The main villain is Electro. Every other villain emerges around that. We were careful to make sure the stories entertained. You had to make sure to create obstacles that were difficult to overcome. We wanted to make the physical and emotional obstacles difficult. Rhino is in it for four minutes so it’s a legitimate comparison, but when you see the movie, I’m confident..."

    ...With Sony planning an expansion of its Spidey franchise, producers Matt Tolmach and Avi Arad have spoken about the planned spin-offs for Venom and The Sinister Six; first up is Arad, discussing their plans to position Venom as an antihero and seemingly hinting that Chris Zylka's Flash Thompson could be the character to bond with the symbiote: "Venom hated only one guy – Spider-Man. He wasn’t innately bad, he was a shortcut guy, not really into fighting hard for achievement. That’s the Venom story. Can he also be a good guy? As you know, Venom was also called ‘lethal defender of the innocent’. We had a great history with him, especially caring for the homeless, which is a very sensitive issue and something that many of us are very concerned with. Our villains all represent a different side of the misunderstood, and some of them unfortunately turned to the dark side. Venom happened to be a phenomenal character. With Eddie Brock, or if you do Flash Thompson, it doesn’t matter who is going to be inside the suit – what’s important is that a man like him is going to realize there comes a time when you wake up in the morning and say ‘How did I get here? There must be a better way...'"

    ...Meanwhile, Matt Tolmach discussed the challenges of bringing the villainous Sinister Six to the screen: "Obviously questions of traditional hero/villain dynamics have to be looked at. At the same time it’s an awesome challenge, because some of the greatest characters are in fact villains, and how you construct that is so much fun. People love those bad characters if they’re good bad characters, and love to watch them. And nobody’s all good, nobody’s all bad, and so where we end up with that story, I think, is a really awesome challenge, and we all smile when we think about what you can do. It’s definitely a bad-ass group of people and I think it’s going to be a ton of fun to watch them..."

    ...Turning to Fox's Marvel movies and overlooking the seemingly false rumours that the studio is ready to ditch the director, cast and script for the upcoming reboot of The Fantastic Four, Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now) has spoken briefly about the appeal of the film, which will see him taking on the role of Mister Fantastic alongside Kate Mara (American Horror Story) as Invisible Woman, Jamie Bell (Nymphomaniac) as The Thing and Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station) as Johnny Storm: "I think what we're going to do with Fantastic Four is going to be very grounded and it made sense to me. When I read the script, I didn't feel like I was reading this larger-than-life, incredible superhero tale. These are all very human people that end up having to become I guess what is known as the Fantastic Four. So for me it was just a really good story and gives me an opportunity to play something different from my own skin. It's a proper character and that's my favorite stuff to do." Meanwhile, a rumoured shortlist of actors has surfaced for the role of Doctor Doom, with reports suggesting that Fox and director Josh Trank (Chronicle) are looking at Eddie Redmayne (Les Miserables), Domhnall Gleeson (Dredd), Toby Kebbell (Wrath of the Titans) and Sam Riley (Control) for the part of Victor Von Doom...

    ...Before The Fantastic Four, Fox will release its latest mutant superhero offering X-Men: Days of Future Past (which, according to Rotten Tomatoes, is the most anticipated blockbuster of the summer), and along with a new batch of images featuring Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page), Bishop (Omar Sy), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), and William Stryker (Josh Helman), it's been confirmed that the eagerly-anticipated second trailer has been classified by the BBFC and will run for 2 minutes and 28 seconds. Expect it to arrive imminently...

    ...Wolverine will also be teaming up with the cyborg superhero Deathlok for the upcoming Marvel Knights Animation motion comic releaseWolverine Weapon X: Tomorrow Dies Today, which has been announced for release in May. Here's the official synopsis: "The future is controlled by a malevolent mega-corporation known as Roxxon — which keeps its tight grip on society through the use of cyborgs, the Deathloks, whose sole purpose is to seek out current and future vigilantes — and neutralize them with extreme prejudice. Now, in order to prevent Roxxon's rise and the eventual slaughter of the world's heroes, Wolverine must join forces with a mysterious woman possessing unexplained knowledge of the coming dystopia. He won't give up until the Deathloks are stopped, but what hope is there to prevent a future that has already come to pass..?"

    ...Turning to DC now and along with a presumably fake first-look image Ben Affleck's Batman, it's been rumoured that principal photography is now underway on Zack Snyder's Man of Steel sequel Batman vs. Superman, although there's been no confirmation from anywhere to support the original report, and Jeremy Irons - who is set to play Bruce Wayne's butler Alfred Pennyworth - has suggested that the script remains incomplete. Meanwhile, costume designer Michael Wilkinson has spoken more about his work on the film, confirming we'll get to see images of Affleck, Henry Cavill and Gal Gadot in full costume "well before the film" (seriously?!), and offering some more comments on the new designs for Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman [read what he had to say here]...

    ...Batman vs. Superman news might be pretty scarce at present, but there's a hell of a lot going on for DC fans on the small screen at the moment, so while we're on the subject of Batman, Fox has released the official logo for its upcoming Dark Knight prequel series Gotham, along with this show description: "Everyone knows the name Commissioner Gordon. He is one of the crime world’s greatest foes, a man whose reputation is synonymous with law and order. But what is known of Gordon’s story and his rise from rookie detective to Police Commissioner? What did it take to navigate the multiple layers of corruption that secretly ruled Gotham City, the spawning ground of the world’s most iconic villains? And what circumstances created them – the larger-than-life personas who would become Catwoman, The Penguin, The Riddler, Two-Face and The Joker?" The Gotham pilot is to be directed by Danny Cannon (Judge Dredd) are will star Ben McKenzie (Southland) as Detective Jim Gordon, David Mazouz (Touch) as Bruce Wayne, Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers) as Alfred Pennyworth, Robin Lord Taylor (Another Earth) as Oswald Cobblepot, newcomer Camren Bicondova as Selina Kyle, Jada Pinkett Smith (The Matrix) as Fish Mooney, Zabryna Guevara (The Guilt Trip) as Detective Essen, Erin Richards (Being Human) as Barbara Kean, Drew Powell (Malcolm in the Middle) as Butch Gilzean and Donal Logue (Sons of Anarchy) as Detective Harvey Bullock.

    ...As Arrow prepares to introduce the Suicide Squad - and, potentially, Harley Quinn - with this week's episode [watch the Producer's Review featurette here], production has kicked off on the spin-off pilot for The Flash, meaning we've now been treated to our first look at Grant Gustin's Barry Allen in full costume as the Fastest Man Alive, with an official promo shot, followed by a batch of spy photos and video from the set of the pilot, which also includes a snap of Candice Patton (The Game) as Iris West. David Nutter is handling directing duties on the pilot, while the rest of the cast includes Jesse L. Martin (Law & Order) as Detective West, Patrick Sabongui (Almost Human) as David Singh, 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 mystery role...

    ...And finally, not to be left out, NBC has also given us our first look at Matt Ryan (Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior) as John Constantine from their own upcoming DC pilot with the release of a behind-the-scenes image and official promo shot of the supernatural detective. Meanwhile, David S. Goyer has offered up a few words about the show, as well as the supporting cast for the pilot, which is being directed by Neil Marshall (Game of Thrones): "I'm proud to say that Constantine is actually being played by a British guy, Matt Ryan, and he is going to have blond hair. [Whether he will smoke is] a tricky one on network TV. We're negotiating right now. He will have his signature trench coat and skinny tie. I would say that the show clings more closely to the sourse material then the film did. Even though the film was interesting. Harold Perrineau. He's amazing. He plays an angel but not the kind of angel from Touched by an Angel. He's fantastic. Charles Halford who plays Reggie Ledoux on True Detective. He plays Chas. I don't know if you know that character from the comic books. He's sort of Constantine's strong man/friend. Lucy Griffiths who is ... I don't want to say too much about her. She' s an amalgam of characters. Hopefully, touch wood, They'll be another recurring character announced. Pretty cool actor who fans will know and the character he plays from the comic books as well."

    Holy Franchise, Batman! Bringing the Caped Crusader to the Screen - Available now via and

    Gary Collinson

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    An apocalyptic tale about a frozen futuristic Earth created by Chuck Dixon and Jorge Zaffino is being revived with the help of artist Butch Guice (Birds of Prey, Ultimate Origins).

    "Returning to this story is something I never wanted to attempt unless it could be done right,” stated Dixon,  “IDW provided the conditions to continue Scully and Wynn's story in a way that is true to Jorge's and my vision. Butch is just the start of a terrific slate of artists for the series."  Guice who has done everything from Superman to Captain America is excited to be part of the project.  “Chuck is one of my favourite collaborators.  I never turn down a chance to work with the guy. No one writes hard-nosed brutal action tales like Chuck Dixon, and it doesn't get more brutal than Winterworld."

    As savvy trade rider Scully travels through a bleak and frozen future with Wynn who searches for her parents, they encounter the brutality of a world where the coldest place on Earth is the human heart.

    Winterworld #1arrives in June 2014.

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    Crime noir gets a Martian spin in a new Image Comics series featuring the writing talents of Daniel Corey (Moriarty) and artistic abilities of Mark Dos Santos.

    In the wake of a system-wide civil war, hard-nosed interplanetary investigator Cal Talmage is given a simple mission to find a missing ambassador’s daughter in Mars Central City. It all seems routine at first, but an experienced vet like Cal knows when trouble is brewing.

    “You might say Red City is like L.A. Confidential on Mars,” stated Corey. “Ellroy and Chandler shaking hands with Bradbury. We’ve got a likable-but-troubled cop who tackles a complex case in the midst of a vast criminal conspiracy, and it happens to take place on Mars. The really exciting thing is that we’re building an entire world, and the art of Mark Dos Santos brings a retro-futuristic vibe that will make Red City the most dangerous place in the New Solar System.”

    The first of four issues of Red City arrives in stores June 11, 2014, and is currently available to be pre-ordered.

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    The man with fist of K’un Lun returns with a series of new adventures courtesy of writer and artist Kaare Andrews.

    High above the city of New York in his multi-million dollar penthouse, Danny Rand a.k.a. Iron Fist is haunted by the choices he’s made. Choosing death over life brings with it many consequences. But when a message from Iron Fist’s mystical homeland of K’un Lun calls Danny back – he’ll be forced to revisit the blood soaked origin of betrayal and vengeance that has plagued him for so long.

    “Danny is going to be put through the wringer like never before,” stated Kaare Andrews in an interview with “I love to punish my characters. To make them bleed. Watch them struggle against impossible odds, and see if they can find the strength inside themselves to survive—the truth that will be the biggest hurdle of them all. He's been hiding from it for too long. He doesn't have to uncover it, so much as survive it. The truth will be coming for him like a freight train. And there will be a reckoning.”

    “It’s pretty incredible to have such a singular vision on a comic, but what’s even more astounding is how much Kaare’s pushing himself at every turn,” commented Editor Jake Thomas. “He’s experimenting with colour, taking risks with his writing, investing the layout of every page with meaning. This is an artist firing on all cylinders, then building strange, radical cylinders on top of those cylinders. Kaare is the genuine article, if you cut him he’d bleed comics, and Iron Fistis him bleeding all over the page.”

    Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #1 which features variant covers by Dale Keown, Mike Del Mundo and Skottie Young arrives on April 9, 2014.                                           

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    A mutant swashbuckler returns with the help writer Chris Claremont and artist Todd Nauck.

    When Nightcrawler sacrificed his life to protect mutantkind, a hole was left in the X-Men’s ranks that have never been filled. With his recent resurrection in the pages of Amazing X-Men, Kurt Wagner has returned to a world far different from the one he left behind. Charles Xavier is dead. Scott Summers is on the run. Even Wolverine, his closest friend, has changed, becoming the headmaster of the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. And though a deep schism divides the X-Men, Kurt Wagner isn’t going to waste one minute of his new lease on life.

    “He’s smart, tough, creative and daring, with an instinctive understanding of people and situations. He has a wicked sense of humour and a devastating charm,” stated Claremont, in an interview with “His ‘normal’ is revolutionary to most people; throw him a problem, he’ll find a way to solve it that’s unique to him. He quite simply is the kind of man others trust; to know him is to have faith in him.”

    Nightcrawler #1 which features a cover by Chris Samnee and variants by Samnee and Humberto Ramos arrives on April 9, 2014.

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    Here is something Facebook users will really “like” as the social media juggernaut is partnering with HBO to promote Game of Thrones Season 4 premiere event being held at New York’s Lincoln Center.

    On March 18, 2014 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, fans of the fantasy epic series will be about to ask red carpet questions to cast members at and

    Cast members scheduled to attend the premiere include Alfie Allen, John Bradley, Gwendoline Christie, Emilia Clarke, Liam Cunningham, Charles Dance, Peter Dinklage, Aidan Gillen, Jack Gleeson, Lena Headey, Conleth Hill, Kristofer Hivju, Sibel Kekilli, Rose Leslie, Rory McCann, Michael McElhatton, Pedro Pascal, Diana Rigg, Sophie Turner, Carice van Houten, Maisie Williams, Isaac Hempstead Wright and more.

    Following the red carpet coverage, fans will be treated to a new, exclusive Game of Thrones Season 4 trailer on Facebook at 7 p.m. ET.

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