The Son of Satan: A Gem from the Marvel of the 70s

Saturday, February 28th, 2015 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

Son of Satan 2

So many demons to fight.

While interviewing Associate Editor Jake Thomas of Marvel Comics for my last blog post (see Middle Child) , we also talked a bit about horror in comics and where it fits, what fans are looking for, etc. It turns out that until recently, I hadn’t gone all the way to thinking about comics as a horror medium, partly because I’d never found them scary.

Marvel Spotlight 22

Human side versus devil side plus sister thrown in for family angst, and a guy on a flaming motorcycle. Freud! Help!

The old saw is that, other than superheroes, comics chased movies and TV, so that when westerns were popular, the comic industry produced cowboy books, and when SF movies were popular, they made SF comics, etc. And the 70s of course was the era of The Exorcist, The Shining, Jaws, and so on.

Some of the grotesqueries of the 1950s drove the creation of the Comics Code, but I guess I’d looked at the post-Code books like Tomb-of-Dracula and Man-Thing and Werewolf by Night as monster books, rather than horror.

There’s only so much you can do within the code, which was part of the reason why Marvel experimented with magazine-sized black and whites in the 1970s, which, by today’s standards (ex.: Severed or Wytches, from Image) look like a tea party… the little kid play, not the political movement.

However, despite being not scary, there was a rich subtlety in some of Marvel’s spooky books, an unreliability of perception, that drew me in, as a pre-teen and teen, and probably helped form some of my tastes.

In the summer of 1981, my mother gave me four comics, one of which was Doctor Strange #43. Doctor Strange was soooo wierd, but good, knock-off Chthulhu good.

And I hunted down Doctor Strange everywhere I could find him, which led me to the Defenders, another oddball child of the 1970s.

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Jim Starlin’s Dreadstar in Development as a TV series

Friday, February 20th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Dreadstar 3-smallJim Starlin, who has seen several of his most famous comic creations transition to the big screen, has reportedly signed a deal to bring his long-running space opera Dreadstar to television.

Jim Starlin is famous in comic circles as the creator of Thanos, the villain of the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War films, as well as Drax the Destroyer and Gamora, two members of the Guardians of the Galaxy. His run on Captain Marvel, which introduced Thanos and his quest to end all life to prove his love for Death, was a high-water mark for superhero comics of the 1970s, and elements from his Infinity Gauntlet storyline have become the unifying storyline for Phase II of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In 1980 Stalin introduced a new character, Vanth Dreadstar, in Epic Illustrated #3. Dreadstar’s early adventures were eventually collected in Metamorphosis Odyssey, a grim far future tale of a desperate battle against the Zygoteans, who conquer and enslave virtually all life in the Milky Way. Metamorphosis Odyssey ended with Dreadstar and his companions destroying the entire galaxy, rather than have it fall into the hands of the Zygoteans (I told you it was grim).

No one really dies in comics though, and Dreadstar eventually returned in Dreadstar #1, one of the flagship titles of Marvel’s new Epic comic line, in 1982. Epic published 26 issues before Dreadstar switched publishers to First Comics. Starlin wrote and drew all the issues until he left with issue 41 (March 1989), and Peter David took over writing chores. Dreadstar lasted a total of 64 issues.

Dreadstar had a very different feel to Metamorphosis Odyssey. Whereas the latter is considered an allegory, Dreadstar is straight-up space opera. Set a million years after the destruction of the Milky Way, and halfway across the universe, it follows the adventures of Vanth Dreadstar and his crew of gifted oddballs, including the powerful sorcerer Syzygy Darklock and the wise-cracking Skeevo, as they get caught up in a galaxy-spanning conflict between the Monarchy and the tyrannical Church of the Instrumentality. Dreadstar was closer in spirit to Star Wars than anything else, with desperate battles, betrayals, robots, and ancient and mystical powers influencing events at critical moments.

Variety reports that Universal Cable Productions and Benderspink will develop the series, with Starlin serving as executive producer and writer. No word on a release date yet. See the complete article here.


The Middle Child of Editorial: An Interview with Jake Thomas, Associate Editor at Marvel Comics

Saturday, February 14th, 2015 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

I’m having an e-conversation with Jake Thomas, an Associate Editor at Marvel Comics. punisherHe’s got a ton of editorial credits, as Assistant Editor on titles like Captain America, Avengers, Age of Ultron, and many others, as well as Editor on Iron Fist the Living Weapon, Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, The Punisher and others.

Let’s cover some of the basics first. Jake, you started at Marvel as an Assistant Editor. Editors oversee production. What do Assistant Editors do for the production process?

Marvel editors are involved in a lot more than just production.

A main Editor helps develop projects, gives story and art notes, helps with the marketing of the books, all kinds of things. The nuts and bolts of production are by and large the purview of the Assistants. Assistant Editors keep files moving, track schedules, write recaps, do ad lineups, gather reference, run proofs through our various checks and balances, a bunch of the behind-the-scenes work that allows the machinery of comics to keep functioning.

They also act as another set of eyes; they can give script feedback to their editors, check the art as it comes in to make sure the storytelling is solid and everyone’s in the correct costume. Important stuff!

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Marvel Team Up: Spider-Man to Appear in Captain America: Civil War?

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Marvel Civil War-smallWhen unidentified hackers released a host of embarrassing Sony Pictures internal e-mails last year, one of the things they revealed was that Sony, who owns the film rights to Spider-Man, had unsuccessfully negotiated with Marvel Studios, producers of Iron Man, Captain America, and The Avengers, on a possible Spider-Man/Avengers crossover. Just the possibility was tantalizing to Marvel fans, even if it looked like it hadn’t amounted to anything.

Now Marvel and Sony have announced that the crossover will occur after all. Both studios have confirmed that Spider-Man will first appear in a Marvel film, followed by a Spider-Man film to be released on July 28, 2017. While exact details have not been released, speculation is rampant that the likeliest candidate for the first project is the third Captain America film, Captain America: Civil War, based on the best-selling storyline that prominently featured Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Cap in its comic book incarnation back in 2006.

The announcement is bad news for fans of the Mark Webb-Andrew Garfield incarnation of Spider-Man, however, as BuzzFeed has confirmed that Garfield will not be reprising the role of Spider-Man. That’s unfortunate, as I thought he did a fine job.

The announcement clearly took some major behind-the-scenes effort, as it has shuffled the release dates for Marvel Studios major projects, pushing back almost all of their upcoming films to make room for Sony Pictures’ third Spider-Man picture. The release date for Thor: Ragnarok has been moved from July 28, 2017, to Nov. 3, 2017; Black Panther has been re-scheduled for July 6, 2018, Captain Marvel to Nov. 2, 2018, and Inhumans to July 12, 2019. The three announced Avengers films, Avengers Age of Ulton and Infinity War Part 1 and Part 2, are still scheduled to open on May 1, 2015, May 4, 2018, and May 3, 2019, respectively. Sony Pictures is also moving forward with their previous plans for Spider-Man spin-off films featuring the Sinister Six and Venom, although those release dates will likely be impacted as well.

Read the complete details at Marvel’s website.


Goth Chick News Catches Up With Our Favorite Comic Horror Crush: Dirk Manning

Thursday, February 5th, 2015 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Dirk Manning

Dirk Manning

We first introduced you to Dirk Manning way back in 2011, courtesy of his nationwide tour promoting Nightmare World, his horror comic series.

As someone who spent a significant amount of my childhood reading contraband horror stories by flashlight under the covers, Manning’s work struck a chord with his vintage-look illustrations and old-school storylines.

So it’s no surprise that his work holds a place of honor on the bookshelves in the underground offices of Goth Chick News.  Nor is it probably a shocker that due to his genre of choice (not to mention the black top hat), that he’s become a personal favorite as well.

When I learned about Manning’s latest installment of his paranormal Mr. Rhee series, I had to ask him to spill some double-secret details just for you.  And being my favorite goth guy, horror-comic crush, he graciously complied.

Let’s wade in shall we?

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See the Teaser Trailer for the Fantastic Four Reboot

Thursday, January 29th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

I’m a big fan of what Marvel has accomplished with their movie properties, but I didn’t enjoy the two Fantastic Four films. And I really wanted to — Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s FF was my favorite comic growing up, and I thrilled to the cosmic adventures of Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm as they explored the Negative Zone and uncovered countless ancient mysteries (not to mention giant robots, weird alien races, and noble heralds on surf boards.)

But love of the source material only goes so far, and I don’t think the two films were well cast, or captured the true spirit of the comic. As Matthew David Surridge wisely pointed out in his lengthy look at Stan and Jack’s amazing 104-issue run, “The FF are explorers, not crime-fighters or warriors.” So I was pleased to see that — from what little I can puzzle out from the Teaser trailer released yesterday for the new reboot — the new version seems to focus on the explorer aspect of the team. This is from Marvel’s description:

Fantastic Four, a contemporary re-imagining of Marvel’s original and longest-running superhero team, centers on four young outsiders who teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe, which alters their physical form in shocking ways. Their lives irrevocably upended, the team must learn to harness their daunting new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy.

And here’s peek at the trailer itself. See what you think. Worth looking forward to?


Check Out The Goon in For Want of Whiskey and Blood

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Goon For Want of Whiskey and Blood-smallEric Powell’s The Goon is one of the most original — not to mention funniest — comics on the market.

When I was still visiting comic shops regularly it was always on my pull list, right alongside Courtney Crumrin and Atomic Robo. The Goon is the story of a none-too-swift hired muscle man (named only “the Goon”) who’s left high and dry when the gangster he works for dies suddenly. With nothing left to lose, the Goon simply continues the racket set up by his boss, collecting protection money from local businesses in a small American city.

When a zombie invasion threatens the inhabitants, the Goon does what he does best… provide protection. Soon most of the city falls into chaos, with the exception of those few square blocks under the Goon’s protection. The constant scheming of the Zombie Priest and his various minions to get rid of the Goon and seize total control of the town provides most of the drama (and the comedy). The art is top-notch, and Powell has shown a real talent for surprisingly touching storylines.

Truth to tell, I had stopped buying The Goon trade paperbacks, because I had heard the issues were being collected in deluxe hardcover Library Editions. Not sure what happened to those plans, so now I’m back to catching up with the regularly issued trade collections. For Want of Whiskey and Blood is the 13th volume, and it collects issues #42 — #45 of the ongoing comic.

The return of the Zombie Priest, a Latin-tongued Godzilla, drunk sailors, and a Halloween visit from Billy the Kid are just a few of the special tricks and treats for Goon and company in this new collection from Eric Powell, which Comic Book Resources calls, “the product of a contentedly demented mind.”

The Goon Volume 13: For Want of Whiskey and Blood was written and drawn by Eric Powell and published by Dark Horse Books on October 21, 2014. It is 128 pages in full color, priced at $16.99. Check it out.


Spotlight on a Fictional Fantasy Fan: Which G.I. Joe Team Member Dug Sci-Fi?

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015 | Posted by Nick Ozment

Joe-Poster

Poster depicting most of the ’82 – ’87 Joe team. Art by Ian Fell

Anyone else out there grow up immersed in the adventures of those Real American Heroes, the Joes? Back in the early ’80s, via the Larry-Hama penned Marvel comic, the Hasbro toys, and the television cartoon, they were a big part of my landscape.

 

There was one member of the Joe team who, if he were real, might be reading Black Gate today. Which G.I. Joe team member read science fiction and comic books? Click on the “READ MORE” tab for the answer…

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Ody-C Issue #2: In Which I Try to Not Use the Word “Weird” at All

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015 | Posted by Elizabeth Cady

ODY-C-1-Cover

Author’s Note: I had wondered how I would handle spoilers as I review my way through the first handful of issues of Ody-C, the new genderqueer retelling of Homer’s Odyssey. At first I thought this wouldn’t be necessary: how many spoilers will there be in the retelling of a three thousand year old myth? As of now, with the second issue released, I can safely say “At least a few”. So while I will avoid any plot-altering spoilers to the fullest extent possible, if you don’t want to be spoiled on world building or character development, read no further.

At the conclusion of the first issue of Ody-C, I wasn’t certain of how I felt about the series. I had opinions, certainly, and I had impressions and ideas, but it was hard to compile those into a solid opinion. After reading the second issue, which was released last week, I feel far more comfortable saying that I think I am going to love this.

As a single issue goes, Ody-C #2 is slender in terms of both page length and events. But it is incredibly dense in terms of world-building. While the bones of this story were familiar in issue 1, the setting and surroundings were so strange as to leave this reader at least feeling a bit adrift. Issue 2 leads us deeper into the world, and while it is in some ways more surreal it is also leaves us far more grounded in what the world Matt Fraction and Christian Ward are creating looks like.

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A Most-Enjoyable Crisis

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015 | Posted by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

dc_comics_crisis_3d_600x600_0If you’ve read DC comics for any length of time since the mid-1960′s, the term “crisis” probably triggers memories of monumental, universe-shattering storylines. It began as the name for several of the major DC cross-over events, ultimately culminating in the classic 1986 Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline, which was one of the most effective efforts to fix continuity errors in comics with a comprehensive universal reboot. (It has since been followed up by DC universal reboots of varying degrees in their crossovers Zero Hour, Infinite Crisis, and Flashpoint.)

So the title of this game-changing expansion to the DC Deck-Building Game (Amazon) should be no surprise. The Crisis expansion (Amazon) introduces significant new elements of gameplay. I’ve played a number of games and expansions, but it’s been a while since I saw an expansion which gave an existing game such a phenomenal revamp as this one.

I first reviewed the DC Deck-Building Game a year ago, in a face-off against the Marvel: Legendary deck-building game. At the time, my 9-year-old son considered the DC game as his favorite, though I came down in favor of the Marvel game, mostly for the following reasons:

  • Marvel: Legendary felt more like narratively being inside a comic book, in comparison to the DC game. Marvel is built around a Scheme Card implemented by specific Mastermind supervillains, meaning that each game has a unique storyline and game objectives. The DC game, on the other hand, involves beating up a pile of villain cards to win.
  • Marvel: Legendary was at least partially cooperative, while the DC game was entirely competitive. Since I mostly play with my son, I prefer cooperative games. Also, from a storytelling standpoint, I felt like a game where I’m supposed to be Batgirl and my son is supposed to be Nightwing should be more cooperative.

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