Weekly New Releases – August 20, 2019 @ Bureau 42

4D Man
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
ACCA
Amazon
  • Complete Series Blu-Ray/Digital: US, CAN
Rightstuf
  • Complete Series Blu-Ray/Digital: US
Comments Something of a fantasy travelogue anime, with an internal affairs police officer travelling between the thirteen autonomous regions of a kingdom, and coming across the pieces of a conspiracy while also seeing the sights.
Akio Jissoji: The Buddhist Trilogy
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
American Gods
Amazon
  • Season 2 Blu-Ray/Digital: US, CAN
  • Season 2 DVD: US, CAN
Arrow
Amazon
  • Season 7 Blu-Ray: US, CAN
  • Season 7 DVD: US, CAN
Attack on Titan: Junior High
Amazon
  • Complete Series Blu-Ray: US, CAN
Rightstuf
  • Complete Series Blu-Ray: US
Comments What if Attack on Titan was re-imagined as a gag anime about junior high school students? You’d get this show.
Billy the Kid vs. Dracula
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
Blood 13
Amazon
  • DVD: US, CAN
Blue Bloods
Amazon
  • Season 9 DVD: US, CAN
Brightburn
Amazon
  • 4K Ultra HD/Blu-Ray/Digital: US, CAN
  • Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital: US, CAN
  • DVD: US, CAN
Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Amazon
  • Season 6 DVD: US, CAN
Bureau
Amazon
  • Season 4 DVD: US, CAN
Buster Keaton Collection
Amazon
  • Volume 3 Blu-Ray: US, CAN
  • Volume 3 DVD: US, CAN
Comments Includes Seven Chances and Battling Butler
Cash McCall
Amazon
  • DVD: US, CAN
Cincinatti Kid
Amazon
  • DVD: US, CAN
Critic’s Choice
Amazon
  • DVD: US, CAN
Dinosaurus!
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
  • DVD: US, CAN
Doctor Who: Black Orchid
Amazon
  • DVD: US, CAN
Comments Peter Davison era. Blaine: It’s a short one which includes a pretty good explanation of cricket… and not a lot else.
Doctor Who: Invasion of the Dinosaurs
Amazon
  • DVD: US, CAN
Comments Jon Pertwee era. Blaine: The first episode is often colour corrected, as it was just labelled “The Invasion” to avoid spoiling the shocking ending, and was accidentally included when they wiped out all of the black and white episodes, as it was mistaken for part of a Patrick Troughton story.
Doctor Who: Paradise Towers
Amazon
  • DVD: US, CAN
Comments Sylvester McCoy era
Doctor Who: Revenge of the Cybermen
Amazon
  • DVD: US, CAN
Comments Tom Baker era
Doctor Who: The Web Planet
Amazon
  • DVD: US, CAN
Comments William Hartnell Era
Dog’s Journey
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital: US, CAN
  • DVD: US, CAN
Free! Dive to the Future
Amazon
  • Limited Edition Season 3 Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital: US, CAN
Rightstuf
  • Limited Edition Season 3 Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital: US
Comments Season 3 of the man-service heavy swimming anime from Kyoto Animation. Comes in a slipcover case with an art book and foil art cards.
Harder They Come
Amazon
  • Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray: US, CAN
Hollywood’s Funniest All Star Bloopers
Amazon
  • DVD: US, CAN
Horror of Frankenstein
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
Hustle
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital: US, CAN
  • DVD: US, CAN
I Am Patrick Swayze
Amazon
  • DVD: US, CAN
I Trapped the Devil
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
  • DVD: US, CAN
John Wick 3: Parabellum
Amazon
  • 4K Ultra HD Digital: US
  • Digital: US
Comments Available on physical media September 10
Keijo!!!!!!!!
Amazon
  • Complete Series Blu-Ray/Digital: US, CAN
Rightstuf
  • Complete Series Blu-Ray/Digital: US
Comments Re-release of the over-the-top anime series about Butt Sumo.
Ma
Amazon
  • Digital: US/li>
Comments Available on physical media September 3
Magnificent Obsession (Criterion Collection)
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
Marrying Man
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
  • DVD: US, CAN
Mayans M.C.
Amazon
  • Season 1 DVD: US, CAN
Men in Black: International
Amazon
  • Digital theatrical release: US
  • Digital with Bonus Features: US
Comments Available on physical media September 3
NCIS: New Orleans
Amazon
  • Season 5 DVD: US, CAN
Orphen
Amazon
  • SDBD: US, CAN
Rightstuf
  • SDBD: US
Comments Blaine: I’ve never seen the series, but I enjoyed the PS2 game it inspired. Alex: I have seen the series, and would say it’s definitely worth picking up – as are the novels that both are based on.
Pokemon Diamond and Pearl
Amazon
  • Complete Series DVD: US, CAN
Rightstuf
  • Complete Series DVD: US
Road Not Taken
Amazon
  • DVD: US, CAN
Ronja, The Robber’s Daughter
Amazon
  • Complete Series Blu-Ray: US, CAN
Rightstuf
  • Complete Series Blu-Ray: US
Comments Anime series from Studio Ghibli, directed by Goro Miyazaki, and currently their last work released to date (outside of the short film “Boro the Caterpillar”, which is only available to watch at the Ghibli Museum)
S.W.A.T.
Amazon
  • Season 2 DVD: US, CAN
Sex and the Single Girl
Amazon
  • DVD: US, CAN
Shakespeare – The Roman Plays
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
  • DVD: US, CAN
Shinhwa 20th Anniversary Concert
Amazon
  • Special Edition Blu-Ray: US, CAN
Star Wars: Resistance
Amazon
  • Season 1 DVD: US, CAN
Streets of San Francisco
Amazon
  • Complete Series DVD: US, CAN
Sweet Charity
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
Tomorrow Man
Amazon
  • DVD: US, CAN
  • Digital: US
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
Waiting in the Summer
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
Rightstuf
  • Blu-Ray: US
Comments Slice-of-life romance anime about a group of friends who decide to make a short film over the summer holidays.
Waking the Dead
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
Walking Dead
Amazon
  • Season 9 Blu-Ray/Digital: US, CAN
  • Season 9 DVD: US, CAN
Witches
Amazon
  • MOD Blu-Ray: US

Finally, the picks of the week. Alex says, “I’m a sucker for Sylvester McCoy, and Paradise Towers is one of Sylvester McCoy’s serials that I’ve been meaning to see for a long time, no matter how cheesy the final result is. On the anime front, I definitely recommend picking up Orphen.” Blaine says, “I’d go with Doctor Who: Revenge of the Cybermen if you don’t have it already.”

Brian Hurtt, Marie Enger, and Matt Kindt launch HEK Studio with new Kickstarter campaign @ Syfy Wire

1p>In a freshly launched nexus of creative talent, three of the industry's cutting-edge artists and writers have banded together to promote a Kickstarter campaign for the The HEK Treasury, a deluxe collection of all new epic, experimental science fiction, fantasy, and genre short stories — and SYFY WIRE has an exclusive look at the making of this tantalizing crowd-funded edition.

The trio of Brian Hurtt (The Sixth Gun), Marie Enger (Loathing), and Matt Kindt (Grass Kings) alongside their newly formed indie publishing house HEK Studio are presenting the 100-page, prestige-format, oversized hardcover (8 ¾  x 11 5/8), which will offer eager readers a fully immersive visual experience, featuring full-color art, a tri-fold narrative poster, and selection of fun secret format and narrative shenanigans.

Credit: HEK Studio

Their HEK Treasury showcases each creator as they unleash radical new ideas, using experimental art, formatting, and storytelling techniques.

The Kickstarter-exclusive version of the book will be hardcover bound in black cloth with a gold-foil custom piece of art. It offers a few unique surprises that will appear only in this edition and will also be signed and numbered by the artists.

"We want to do something big," they explained in a collective statement. "Something original in both format and story in an oversized sci-fi fantasy European album formatted book. This will allow us to use bigger pages and to play with the panel layouts in new ways that a traditionally sized comic can't. We are pouring everything we have into these large pages!"

To help enable their vision, HEK Studios (Matt, Brian, and Marie) recently bought a vintage Route 66 garage in St. Louis to house their endeavors, and they’ve been working on converting it into the first full-time independent comic book studio in the city. The ambitious project also hopes to create a shared creative space for visiting writers and artists that will eventually host future boutique comic book creation workshops open to the public.

Credit: HEK Studio

“When Brian approached me with the idea of doing a studio project, I immediately said yes,” said Kindt. “It was a no-brainer. It was a chance to work with both Brian and Marie, and I liked the idea of the format – a big sci-fi fantasy magazine or European album-formatted book. It allows us to use bigger pages and to play with the panel layouts in new ways that a traditionally-sized comic doesn’t. Also, the expectations of a large prestige style book are greater, so it’s a chance to really blow out the art and do something really special.”

Credit: HEK Studio

For more content info and specific details on all the pledge reward levels, visit the official Kickstarter page HERE.

One of the first stretch goals just announced is a series of incredible dystopian paper dolls you can view in the full gallery below. Take a peek and tell us if you'll climb on board this worthy campaign and score some sweet bonus materials while supporting their new studio!

Haunting of Hill House Will Get Extended Director's Cuts on Blu-Ray @ io9

Netflix shows don’t always get physical releases, and when they do, they rarely get longer. Haunting of Hill House will change that.

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Hong Kong Protesters Urge Boycott of Disney's Mulan Remake After Star's Pro-Police Comments @ io9

Hong Kong is in the midst of political turmoil as anti-government protesters clash with police, and now Disney’s Mulan remake has become an unlikely flashpoint for debate.

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Richard Williams, the Oscar-Winning Animator Behind Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Pink Panther, Has Died @ io9

Richard Williams, the legendary animator and three-time Oscar-winner behind Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, two Pink Panther films, and other animated classics, has died.

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Democratic Senators Urge FCC to Delay T-Mobile-Sprint Merger Vote, Seek Public Comment @ io9

In July, the Department of Justice cleared T-Mobile’s planned takeover of Sprint, paving the way for the nation’s third and fourth largest wireless carriers to merge into a titan to rival AT&T and Verizon. Sixteen states are suing to block the merger, and now some congressional Democrats are lobbying to have the…

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Mortal Kombat Has Cast More of Its Lead Roles @ io9

Cue the techno theme music.

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Roger Rabbit creator Richard Williams dies, age 86 @ Syfy Wire

1p>The groundbreaking animator Richard Williams, whose work on Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Pink Panther, and more earned him three Oscars, died Friday at the age of 86. His family reports to The Guardian that he passed away at home in Bristol, England.

Born in Toronto, Canada, in the 1930s, Williams moved to England in his 20s. In addition to his three Oscars, Williams was a three-time winner of England's prestigious BAFTA award, once for his work on Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the film for which he won two of his Oscars after having served as its animation director and the creator of the iconic animated-couple-to-watch in 1988: Roger and Jessica Rabbit.

It cannot be overstated to say how revolutionary Who Framed Roger Rabbit was for audiences at its debut in 1988. Never before had animation and live-action film been blended so seamlessly, and the story itself (written by Jeffrey Price, Peter S. Seaman, and Gary K. Wolf) of a cartoon character named Roger Rabbit who gets framed in a film-noir-style setup involving friction between humans in Hollywood and the animated denizens of  nearby Toon Town was a genius vehicle for such a breakthrough in film technology. As reported by Vulture on the occasion of the 30-year anniversary of the film in 2018, three specific techniques developed by Williams and his colleagues are still in use today as a means to blend the ever-increasing use of CGI into live-action storytelling.

Prior to his work on this trend-setting, and eminently enjoyable, film, Williams animated the title sequences for The Return of the Pink Panther and The Pink Panther Strikes Again, and also worked on Casino Royale. The Guardian reports that he was working on projects and animating all the way up to the day of his death.

 

 

ICYMI: The top 10 posts on FANGRRLS 08/17 @ Syfy Wire

1p>We're only halfway through August, but already summer is making way for the cooler and crisper weather of fall. That will either delight you if you're a lover of pumpkins, falling leaves, and Halloween, or leave you depressed that the sun-drenched heatwave of the past few months is coming to an end. Wherever you stand on the issue, at least there is plenty of geeky excitement to keep us all going. Check out the top 10 most-read posts on SYFY WIRE FANGRRLS from the past seven days! 

Credit: Giphy

- 7 things I realized while watching The Lion King as an adult

The Lion King is a beloved childhood favorite for a reason, but some elements feel very different when you watch them as an adult!

- Why a skirt isn't necessary for Supergirl and Wonder Woman

Supergirl and Wonder Woman are getting makeovers this year, dropping the skirts and getting fresh, fun, and practical wardrobe upgrades. Emma Fraser couldn't be happier!

- Everything we know so far about Star Trek: Picard

That's right, Picard is getting his own Star Trek spinoff, and we can't wait! Swapna Krishna keeps us up to date on what we know about the series so far.

- Radical forgiveness in the Doom Patrol

Everyone in the Doom Patrol struggles to forgive someone, and more often than not that person is themselves. Learning to interact with one another in a more genuine and deeply felt way is a major theme of the series, as Sara Century explains.

- In Spider-Man: Far From Home, the MCU wastes Maria Hill yet again

Maria Hill is a great character, so why the hell is the MCU so dead set on wasting her in movie after movie (plus a TV show)? Courtney Enlow wants answers.

- The Abyss turns 30: How James Cameron pushed boundaries and almost killed his actors

The Abyss is arguably one of James Cameron's less-talked-about movies, but its history and legacy are impressive, if also totally jaw-dropping.

- 43 thoughts we had while watching Ladyhawke

Ladyhawke is a favorite fantasy movie of the '80s, with Michelle Pfeiffer and the late, great Rutger Hauer playing star-crossed lovers torn apart by an animal-based curse. Alyssa Fikse watched it again and shared her thoughts.

- The bizarre backstory of Lady Sif

With rumors swirling that Lady Sif could be returning to the MCU in Thor: Love and Thunder after too long an absence, we’ve been thinking — who is Sif and what's her history?

- The best glow-ups in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, ranked

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order gives some of the franchise's most iconic characters a minor makeover, and Stephanie Williams is here to let you know exactly who got the best glow-up.

- The legacy of The Sixth Sense

It's been 20 years since M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense became a genuine pop culture icon, and its legacy looms large over the entertainment industry.

Saturday's Best Deals: Wayfair Home Renovation Sale, Casper Pillows, Echo Dot Wall Mount, and More @ io9

An Echo Dot Wall mount, $100 Off a Casper Mattress, Plus 2 Free Original Pillows, and Wayfair’s Home Renovation Sale lead of Saturday’s best deals from around the web.

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The Boys' Superhero Cheesecake Calendar Is, Uh, Fish-Flavored @ io9

Even though superheroes are people with idealized bodies that we’re supposed to ogle and wonder at, because of how seemingly impossible they are, it’s rare that you see male-bodied heroes objectified in a way that highlights their sex appeal. Every so often, you might get a glimpse of Nightwing’s ass or Batman’s wang,…

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Get a Dr. Bronner’s 5-Piece Sampler Gift Set For Only $22 @ io9

In This Sci-fi Horror Short, Only Control Can Hear You Scream @ io9

As we’ve seen in films like The Martian or Gravity, being alone in space can be terrifying—especially when something unexpected comes knocking at the door. The sci-fi short Control centers around a woman on a deep-space mission who’s struggling to cope from the sudden loss of her crew partner, only to discover that…

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What's Up Yubber Nubbers, This Hot Toys Wicket and Leia Set Is the Best Toy of the Week @ io9

Welcome back to Toy Aisle, io9's regular round up of all the pretty plastic draining our wallets lately. This week: Star Wars’ actual best duo gets the Hot Toys figure set it deserves, Batman fights a familiar yet alien foe, and the most loveably useless Pokémon in the world gets an adorable, silly plush toy. Check it…

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Is Zombie Tidal Wave's Ian Ziering low-key building a Sharknado Cinematic Universe? @ Syfy Wire

1p>On August 17, Ian Ziering is returning to SYFY to take on the Zombie Tidal Wave! After six Sharknado movies, we have to wonder, though, what cursed Ziering to an endless cycle of ridiculously over-the-top threats? Was it because he played Steve Sanders for all 10 seasons of Beverly Hills 90210?

Join SYFY WIRE’s Caitlin Busch, Jackie Jennings, and Max Tedaldi as they take the deep dive into the world of Zombie Tidal Wave. Or should we say the Sharknado Cinematic Universe? Although Ziering is playing a new character, Hunter Shaw, he is reteaming with Sharknado director Anthony C. Ferrante. Ziering also brought his Sharknado character, the aptly named Fin Shepard, to the SYFY original movie Lavalantula. So a shared universe isn’t that far-fetched.

Additionally, our panel made a few suggestions for future zombie and shark movie match-ups with some classic big-screen films. There was also a lengthy discussion about who would win in a head-to-head battle between sharks and zombies. It’s an interesting concept that would probably lead to a new zombie shark threat. But if that’s the case, would the zombie sharks be hungry for human flesh or human brains?

Finally, our panel tackled the most important question ever raised by zombie fiction: “What’s your zombie plan?” One of our preferred destinations in that scenario is to hole up in a neighborhood Costco. Not only is it well stocked with enough food to last a lifetime, but zombies won’t be able to get in without their membership cards!

For more Zombie Tidal Wave fun, check out the full video!

Jurassic Park-scale world of underground volcanoes has now been unearthed @ Syfy Wire

1p>While Jurassic Park still only exists as a movie franchise and a Universal thrill ride, the Jurassic-era volcano world just discovered in Australia is very real.

Almost forgotten a mile beneath the Earth’s surface, about 100 volcanoes that used to belch lava 160-180 million years ago were found by a team of researchers exploring the barren Cooper and Eromanga Basins in South Australia and Queensland. These prehistoric volcanoes cover a stretch of 2,900 square miles. The area is rich in igneous rock from the Triassic and Jurassic periods (and also one of Australia’s major oil and gas) whose origins were hazy until now.

“Igneous rocks have been documented infrequently within end of well reports over the past 34 years, with a late Triassic to Jurassic age determined from well data,” the team said in a study recently published in Gondwana Research. “However, the areal extent and nature of these basaltic rocks were largely unclear.”

The volcanoes in what is now called the Warnie Volcanic Province weren’t actually unearthed in the sense of an archaeological dig. Analysis of subsurface rock, done with techniques similar to a computerized tomography (CT) scan you may need if you break a bone, revealed a whole subsurface landscape of volcanic craters, magma chambers and lava flows. While these volcanoes have been lying dormant—more like dead—for millions of years, the area was once seething with fire.

It’s kind of like the volcanoes and lava tunnels that are frozen in time on the moon.

There is also a mystery that emerged with this volcanic region. Volcanoes are usually created by the friction and heat at the edges of tectonic plates that pass each other. So how did they end up spewing the planet’s guts in the interior of Australia, which is nowhere near a hotbed of tectonic activity? This is a rare find with almost no data from similar discoveries to compare it to. Those lunar volcanoes are a whole different phenomenon, because there are no tectonic plates on the moon.

Volcanoes don’t just erupt out of nowhere. The ancient volcanism nobody expected could have something to do with how the continent developed in the first place. More in-depth exploration is finally starting to happen over there, which is why previously undiscovered dinosaurs and other relics of the past now keep surfacing. That also raises the question of what else could possibly be lurking below our feet.

“The discovery of the WVP raises the possibility of other, yet unidentified, volcanic provinces worldwide,” the team said.

So that volcano scene in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom might have been supposed to take place now, but could have really gone down 180 million years ago.

(via Newsweek)

Screen icon Peter Fonda dead at 79 @ Syfy Wire

1p>Screen legend Peter Fonda has passed away at his Los Angeles home at the age of 79. The acting icon, who enjoyed a lengthy career that spanned entire generations of movie trends, was perhaps best known for his landmark role opposite Jack Nicholson and the late Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider.

Fonda, a multiple Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner whose career crossed many genres, is beloved among science fiction fans for starring roles during his early and middle career in John Carpenter’s Escape From L.A. and the 1976 sci-fi thriller Futureworld. More recently, he starred opposite Nicolas Cage as Mephistopheles in one of many biker-themed films that threaded through his career: 2007's Ghost Rider.

Fonda even tried his hand behind the camera in the 1970s, directing the obscure 1973 Idaho Transfer, a slow-paced sci-fi film that merged time travel with the threat of a looming environmental disaster. In 1994, Fonda played Van Helsing in the avant-garde horror feature Nadja, a black-and-white film that earned praise from critics at the time for its offbeat mix of deadpan comedy into the more conventional vampire movie formula.

Fonda’s starmaking turn as Wyatt, Easy Rider’s soft-spoken, world-weary biker, was by no means a genre role. But with his star-spangled motorcycle and red, white, and blue costumed motif, his character shared much of the same American imagery that suffused contemporary pop culture, from Marvel’s Captain America comics to daredevil stuntman Evel Knievel — and it flagged Fonda as a countercultural antihero in his own right, in the waning days of the politically fermenting 1960s.

Fonda was nominated for an Academy Award for his screenwriting credit on Easy Rider, and went on to earn another Oscar nomination, this time for Best Actor, for his role in the 1997 beekeeping drama Ulee’s Gold. For that role, he also picked up a Golden Globe award for Best Actor, one of two Golden Globes he received in his career (he won again in 1999 for his portrayal of Frank O’Connor in Showtime's The Passion of Ayn Rand, taking home the Best Supporting Actor award).

Multiple entertainment outlets reported the news of Fonda’s passing Friday. Part of an extended Hollywood family, Fonda (father of Bridget Fonda) shared the spotlight through much of the 1970s and beyond with his sister, Barbarella star Jane Fonda; both actors are the children of golden-age movie icon Henry Fonda. 

Fonda reportedly had planned to participate in this year’s ongoing roster of commemorative events celebrating the 50th anniversary of Easy Rider, which was to continue next month with a concert and screening he had been slated to attend.

Goodbye Gizmodo: These Are The Hottest Disney Villains, By the Way @ io9

[Editor’s Note: Allow us to present, on this Friday, a post our Senior Producer Danielle Steinberg had been dying to get off her chest all year. I personally disassociate myself with the entirety of this list but do hope you enjoy. -Jill P.]

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Ramble down to Riverdale in The Archie Art of Francesco Francavilla @ Syfy Wire

1p>The unlikely marriage of Archie Comics and the pulp noir aesthetics of Eisner Award-winning artist Francesco Francavilla seems like a union of divine intervention — even if it started with the living dead.

Francavilla first illustrated Archie in the fall of 2012 with Life With Archie #23, a zombie-filled, horrifying variant on the classic Archie formula that would later become Afterlife With Archie. Since then, the acclaimed creator's portfolio has redefined the wholesome All-American teenagers in myriad ways no one could ever have imagined.

To honor Francavilla's inestimable achievements, Archie Comics' is presenting a new 104-page premium hardcover book titled The Archie Art of Francesco Francavilla on Aug. 20. It's a beautifully designed celebration of Francavilla's past decade of artistic fortitude, fashioned to appeal to a broad spectrum of hardcore Archie fans, comic book enthusiasts, and horror aficionados worldwide.

Credit: Archie Comics

A vibrant record of Francavilla's time at Archie Comics, this premium, oversize coffee-table art book showcases the entire collection of the artist's striking comic covers and interior art starring Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, and the whole Riverdale gang. In addition to providing behind-the-scenes looks at Francavilla's work, the book also places it in Archie Comics' long history, while also looking toward the future. 

Credit: Archie Comics

SYFY WIRE spoke with Francavilla and Archie Comics Co-President Alex Segura about the new art book to learn how it was conceived, what makes this pairing so remarkable, and what the artist's interpretations have meant to the franchise.

Tell us how this Archie art book came about, and what can fans anticipate.

Francesco Francavilla: My dear friend (and Archie Comics Publisher/CEO) Jon Goldwater has been talking about making an art book with my work for a few years now, and in 2018, we finally decided to nail down details to put the book on the publishing schedule and bring it to readers. Thing is that since the first time we talked about making it, I've been working on several more Archie-related books, so the material was so big that we decided to make this Vol.1 (of more to come).

Originally we were thinking "The Archie Cover Art of FF," but we ended up expanding the content to more than just covers, so the reader will find a behind-the-scenes look at the making of covers and pages for several Archie titles. We divided the content into several chapters: the Horror, the Superhero material, the Riverdale-related titles, etc. Lots to see in this book.

How has Archie helped form and focus your art style and advance your career?

FF: I think my art style has been always the same. It's that style that I brought to the Archie titles and applied to characters who have had a specific house-style look for 70 years. In a way I think it was the new artistic, more mature approach to these characters that brought almost like a new life to them and made everyone (publisher and readers) realize that lots more could be done with these evergreen comic world icons. Personally, speaking of Afterlife With Archie in particular, I got to do the horror comics that I always wanted to do, inspired by the classic Warren and EC horror magazines I grew up with. 

Credit: Archie Comics

What are you most excited to share with fans in this new retrospective?

Alex Segura: The book is an Archie timeline in many ways — it shows the evolution of the brand from the moment Archie CEO/Publisher Jon Goldwater took over, and a major part of that success was Francesco. He reimagined how Archie was perceived visually, from that first Archie Meets KISS cover right up through today. He's a master, and deserving of this honor and much more. I think fans will get a kick out of seeing his art presented in this special way, thematically and thoughtfully, to give a clear sense of the sheer breadth of work he's done for the company.

How has Francesco helped define Archie for a new generation, and what has he meant to Archie Comics?

AS: He means the world to us. He's our rock. A visual genius. From one day to the next, Archie evolved beyond his "classic" look to something that felt different, vibrant, modern, yet also timeless. He showed the world that Archie can do anything and be in any setting as long as you know it's Archie. That's a huge accomplishment.

Credit: Archie Comics

Why do Archie and the gang match up so well with your dark pulpy style?

FF: I dunno why they do, but again, I never expected my noir, pulp aesthetic to fit superhero books, and yet I got to work on Batman, Swamp Thing, Black Panther, Cap America, Hawkeye, and more. I'm just happy my style works with all these characters, either straight-up DC/Marvel superheroes or Archie's slice of Americana pop culture.

With so much amazing work to choose from, how were the pieces curated for the book, and what was the criteria in the selection process?

AS: We worked extremely closely with FF, who was the creative director on the project. He hand-selected the pieces he wanted in the book and the sequencing. It was a very collaborative workflow, and FF did an amazing job designing and crafting this book. It's a fitting tribute to his work with Archie.

Enjoy SYFY's special preview of The Archie Art of Francesco Francavilla in the full gallery below, then tell us if you'll pick up a copy celebrating the masterful artist's decade at Archie Comics.

Big Head is back in Dark Horse Comics' new ultraviolent revival of The Mask @ Syfy Wire

1p>Just in time for the green-hued antihero to make a triumphant return for the 25th anniversary of The Mask movie, and cresting on speculation of a possible female-led Mask feature, Dark Horse Comics is bringing Big Head back in a new series stuffed with the character's insane brand of violent mayhem — and SYFY WIRE has a smokin' special look at the premiere issue.

Written by Christopher Cantwell, showrunner for AMC's Halt and Catch Fire, and injected with manic art from Patric Reynolds (She Could Fly, Joe Golem), The Mask: I Pledge Allegiance to the Mask #1 is a four-issue miniseries that screams into comic shops on Oct. 16.

This rowdy revival series also includes work by colorist Lee Loughridge and letterer Nate Piekos. It recaptures with brilliant boldness the true essence of the crazed character originally created by Dark Horse Founder Mike Richardson with Mark Badger, then later refined by John Arcudi and Chris Warner for the pages of Dark Horse Comics' Mayhem #1 in 1989 before launching into several solo series.

Credit: Dark Horse Comics

 

The plotline of The Mask follows the aftermath of horrific events that transpired years ago, when a bizarre mask of ancient origin and unlimited power was buried in the cement of an old apartment building’s basement floor in Edge City.

Its jarred residents have all but forgotten the homicides blamed on a mysterious green-faced psychopath known only as "Big Head." Now, decades later, the weird Tex Avery–style slaughterings are happening all over again and are on a direct collision course with a surreal political campaign where a grinning homicidal maniac wants to "Make America Green Again"! 

Credit: Dark Horse Comics

 

Cantwell explains his associations with The Mask feature and why it has an odd place in the history of the character for him.

"I’m 37 going on 38, so obviously my first exposure to the character was most of America’s exposure to it — through the film," he tells SYFY WIRE. "As a middle-schooler I saw the movie and, like kids my age, was a disciple of that magic Jim Carrey year of 1994. But I was also an avid comic reader at the time, and I had a pull list at Big Bob’s Cards & Comics in North Texas, where I grew up. In the shop, I saw the original Mask and Mask Returns volumes for sale, maybe reissued because of the movie. I opened them up and was blown away by the stark contrast. I’d never read something so dark and raw, like pure chaos that didn’t give a s**t what you thought of it."

"2019, at least to me, feels like chaos — not the punk underground chaos of The Mask, but this roiling time when American society is biting its own ass with this insane viciousness, and tearing itself apart," Cantwell adds. "Bringing Big Head back now is like throwing a grenade into what is already a barroom brawl. Today he and his actions just seem less out of the ordinary in the contemporary American landscape. That’s what is truly scary about him."

Credit: Dark Horse Comics

 

Reynolds' first introduction to this story and character was also the Carrey movie, and he recalls buying the soundtrack (on cassette!) and wearing out the tape from re-listening to Cuban Pete. He believes there couldn’t be a better time for Big Head to return to comics, the ultimate agent of unchecked anarchy, to hold a mirror up to ourselves and see how far we've slid.

"I think that it can add a lot of nuance to the growing social and political commentary being articulated by other stories, in all different kinds of media," he explains to SYFY WIRE. "The insanity is laced with more gruesomeness than in previous iterations of The Mask, but I think that visceral lunacy is grounded by very well-written and carefully crafted characters. There's insane things happening all around them, but they are driven by very human emotions and motivations, which makes the series even more compelling.

"We know that Big Head is capable of ridiculous acts of violence, and I thought that keeping him in shadow added to that tension of not knowing what awful things he's about to do. I also think that a more realistic approach can ground the absurdity a bit and make the violence more impactful. Filling up someone with chocolate syrup until they explode sure sounds ridiculous, but seeing it happen as it might look in real life can create a more emotional impression on the reader."

Credit: Dark Horse Comics

 

Blast into our exclusive sneak peek at Dark Horse Comics' The Mask #1 in the full gallery below. The series' gritty, urban terror strikes comic shops on Oct. 16.

WIRE Buzz: John Wick director to punch up fight scenes for Birds of Prey; Doom: Annihilation teases fresh hell; more @ Syfy Wire

1p>Punching up Birds of Prey and teasing out Doom: Annihilation are just a couple of things on tap in this edition of WIRE Buzz.

First up, John Wick director Chad Stahelski is looking to punch up the upcoming Birds of Prey film—particularly its fight sequences. Per The Hollywood Reporter, the former stuntman turned filmmaker has been asked to oversee second-unit photography for Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) for Warner Bros. Stahelski will design new action scenes for the movie during reshoots. Director Cathy Yan will work with Stahelski on the new action shoots. 

Margot Robbie Prey reprises her role of Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad. Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Ewan McGregor also star.

Birds of Prey is eyeing a February 2020 release.


The countdown to Doom: Annihilation is ticking toward the straight-to-video film’s arrival at the gates of Hell this fall, and Universal Pictures has just shared a brief but frenzied teaser of what the next live-action movie to riff on one of gaming’s most iconic shooters will look like. 

Billed as an all-new story and not a direct sequel to 2005’s Doom, Annihilation will follow a team of space marines who’ve been dispatched to a Martian moon to defeat a menacing eruption of demons from a newly discovered portal — before the unholy infestation gets a chance to spread to Earth.

Based on the classic video game franchise, Doom: Annihilation introduces Lt. Joan Dark (played by Once Upon a Time and Atlantis actor Amy Manson), who must lead an elite squad of Marines in a battle against “an ever-growing horde of bloodsucking and soul-stealing beasts,” according to the studio. 

There’s definitely serendipity in the timing of the movie’s release. Directed by Tony Giglio (Timber Falls), Doom: Annihilation will arrive on Blu-ray and on-demand platforms on Oct.1 — just in time to whet our demonic appetites for Bethesda’s Nov. 22 launch of Doom Eternal, the gaming follow-up to 2016’s critically adored Doom.


Finally, Borderlands drives us crazy with them big ol’ ‘bots, so … let’s get ready to welcome Ice-T, for the first time, to the world of Pandora!

According to US Gamer, the erstwhile rapper and Law & Order: SVU star has signed on for a voice role in Borderlands 3, and we can’t think of anyone more suited to take on the game franchise’s gonzo swirl of post-apocalyptic, alien sci-fi and inspired lowbrow humor. According to the report, ’T will lend his signature pipes to bring life to a pissed-off teddy bear named Balex.

Gearbox Official on YouTube

Why is Balex so upset? Well, he used to be a guy ... a guy with an important job as a ship’s navigator. But, because this is Borderlands, something happened involving computers, digi-structing, and AI ‘bots — and now his downloaded consciousness is trapped inside this scraggly, tattered plush toy. Balex reportedly has to be rescued by you, the player, after a T-rex swallows him whole, and from that point on, you’ve got Ice-T serving up a running commentary straight from the bear’s mouth for the duration of the mission.

It’s not as if we needed more reasons to be first in line to hop the next spaceship to Pandora, but props to Gearbox for giving us a new one anyway. Now we’re beyond ready to dive back into the Eridium-chasing vault hunt when Borderlands 3 arrives for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC (and, eventually, Google Stadia) beginning this Sept. 13.

Additional reporting by James Comtois.


Now & Then captures the teen obsession of contacting the dead @ Syfy Wire

1p>When it was released in the fall of 1995, Now & Then was described by critics as “a contrived Stand by Me kind of story.” Rob Reiner's 1986 adaptation of Stephen King's novella The Body is a coming-of-age tale following a group of four friends on the cusp of adolescence who are dealing with various innocence-shattering events. Distraction is how these tweens attempt to ignore the real tragedies that have plagued their short lives. The boys of Stand by Me are on an adventure to find a dead body on the train tracks. In Now & Then, a girl group of friends is going through similar changes and challenges. A death that occurred 25 years prior provides an escape, and it is easy to see why a comparison is drawn. 

But Now & Then shouldn’t get dismissed as just a carbon copy or “the girl version of Stand by Me.” Beneath the schmaltzy star-studded present-day scenes, it captures not only the fears of growing up but the teen obsession with contacting the dead. 

Now & Then’s terrible reviews don't mean it isn’t beloved. Now that it's just landed on Netflix, it is a good time to revisit a movie that many fell in love with when it was released. I first watched it on VHS at a friend’s sleepover when I was 14 and instantly connected to the adventure that unfolded. Typically, the movies we picked out at the video store or from our parents’ collections for these birthday hangouts were scarier on the surface than this coming-of-age romp. Memorable examples from my slumber party years feature a lot of Stephen King adaptations, including Silence of the Lambs, It, Carrie, and Children of the Corn. Candyman led to the bravest kids (of which I was not) saying his name five times. Other staples included taped episodes of The X-Files and witchy movies like The Craft

Credit: Getty Images 

Ouija boards and seances took place between face masks and movies, as everyone giggled with nervous anticipation. Thoughts of teen magazine horror stories about malevolent spirits getting trapped in the land of the living heightened the tension as we held hands, hoping (or not) someone would hear us.

An attempt to contact the dead is central to the premise of Now & Then, which is set in both 1991 and 1970. The present-day scenes bookend the movie, but it is the past that commands our attention. Demi Moore as older Samantha (Gaby Hoffmann plays the younger version) narrates the events of her youth, detailing her fear about being the first person in the neighborhood with divorced parents. It's something she tries to keep from her friends, Roberta (Christina Ricci), Teeny (Thora Birch), and Chrissy (Ashleigh Aston Moore). As a way to block out her dad's departure, her interest in the supernatural provides a distraction. Gathering her friends at the local cemetery, the girls think they have inadvertently caused the spirit of Dear Johnny to get stuck in the land of the living. If they can figure out how Dear Johnny died (or even who killed him), then maybe he can return to where he came from.

Credit: New Line Cinema 

This isn’t the first time they have performed a seance, although the targets of the past (including Marilyn Monroe) are a little loftier than a 12-year-old boy in the local cemetery. Earlier that same day, Samantha announces that since it is a full moon, this is the night when the barrier between living and dead can be broken. When the veracity of this statement is questioned, she explains that she read it in the Encyclopedia of Supernatural Phenomenon.

Everyone is enthusiastic except Chrissy, the only member of the group who isn’t into the whole ghost obsession. Nevertheless, she isn’t above freaking her friends out when she pretends (rather convincingly) that she can sense a spirit. The seance is interrupted by a sudden summer storm with a bolt of lightning, suggesting Dear Johnny has made contact. Samantha thinks she sees a figure as they flee the graveyard. Later, when a gust of wind wakes her from her slumber, she is convinced it is a spirit and not simply the weather. 

Credit: New Line Cinema 

It is the summer of 1970, so resources for finding out the truth are limited as the four 12-year-old girls have to cycle to another town to search through the archives. Instead of an actual dead body, they are chasing a ghost. Dear Johnny isn't the only specter looming over the four friends. Boobs, boys, and family friction are all horrors plaguing their girlhood. Roberta is unhappy with her growing chest, and she is still dealing with the death of her mother.

While searching the newspaper articles for any clues, Roberta learns her mother’s passing wasn’t as painless as her father had previously described. Instead, she initially survived the car crash, was conscious while she was cut out of her car, and only succumbed to her injuries in the hospital. Parents try to protect their children from the horrors of the world; however, the violence of this very real image haunts Roberta. 

Credit: New Line Cinema 

Pages have been removed detailing how Johnny and his mother died in 1945, which only suggests a wider conspiracy, fueling their desire to find out more. The girls have several other sources, including the terrifying Willadean (Janeane Garofalo), who works in the local diner. Teeny is convinced Willadean is a witch who has voodoo dolls capable of giving someone a heart attack. She swears she saw the doll with pins stuck in its heart. But they also have enough bravado to go ask the potential witch for a tarot reading.

Of course, the Death card features prominently (pretty much the standard for tarot readings on TV and film), as does the ominous Ten of Swords. We don’t get to hear what Willadean said; instead we get the girls dissecting the so-called look of fear on Willadean’s face.  

Credit: New Line Cinema 

Hints of Stephen King’s It weave their way throughout this movie, but instead of being plagued by a killer clown, the horrors are not supernatural. The town of Shelby is considered safe and boring, but as with the fictitious Derry, it can’t escape the evils of the outside world. Instead of Pennywise, this is a good old-fashioned burglary-gone-wrong. On the Halloween Unmasked podcast, John Carpenter spoke of two overarching types of scary stories detailing who the "monster" is. One comes from the outside and the other from within, and Carpenter notes that “Right-wing evil is always outside, it’s them.” Johnny and his mother were killed by someone who law enforcement believe was passing through town, and the culprit was never caught. This is very much the fear of the Other. Not only did the killer destroy a family, but he also robbed the town of its sense of safety. Bad things can happen in sleepy Shelby. This is, of course, an oversimplification of the situation, but these murders are a stand-in for the mid-20th-century loss of innocence, which occurred at the end of World War II. A dual function is achieved, as it is coupled with these girls learning the cold hard facts of life. Sometimes bad things happen and you can’t do anything to stop it.

Control is a big reason as to why watching horror movies and attempting to contact the dead at sleepovers are common rites of passage. These scares are at a safe distance, allowing us to experience the exhilaration and adrenaline with none of the real-world consequences. Well, unless you somehow end up with spirit trapped in the land of the living. If you say “Candyman” five times, a killer is not going to jump out no matter how much you think it could happen. An interest in spirits and ghosts is not confined to adolescent sleepovers, but the fascination with mortality is certainly something I was preoccupied with at this age. In Now & Then, Roberta fakes her death after performing a reckless act. She pretends she has drowned in a prank-gone-too-far, which Samantha (as Demi Moore) suggests is her way of coping (or rather, not coping) with her mother’s death.

Not everything is a nightmare; it is worth noting that the burgeoning romance has a very important moment demonstrating consent, as Scott (Devon Sawa) asks if he can kiss Roberta before moving in for the smooch.

Credit: Getty Images/Stringer 

In another moment echoing King, Samantha drops a bracelet that Teeny has given her down a storm drain. Teeny’s yellow raincoat has echoes of Georgie's from It, but the only thing that makes Samantha scream when she climbs down to retrieve the trinket is a rat. Being grossed out by rodents turns to a very real fear that Samantha is going to drown when the rain starts pouring down. The man they call “Crazy Pete” (Walter Sparrow) comes to the rescue and, in one of the most heavy-handed scenes, he asks why the girls are scared of him. Pete’s story is a tragic one, as it was his wife and son who were murdered back in 1945. He only comes out at night because he doesn’t think anyone wants to be reminded of this terrifying event.

The true horrors in Now & Then aren’t clowns in drains or ghosts in graveyards; instead, it is the seemingly random acts of violence or deaths that make no sense. It is the realization that our parents aren't perfect and neither are their relationships. In Now & Then, the supernatural ends up being a source of comfort and distraction. Sure, it might follow a similar path to Stand by Me, but as a teen watching this movie, it meant something to see a group of girls on an adventure like this. 

It is the perfect sleepover movie, for then and now.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBC Universal.

Birds of Prey's Action Will Be Punched Up by John Wick Director Chad Stahelski @ io9

While details about the plot of Warner Bros.’ upcoming Birds of Prey film featuring Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn are still rather scarce, the latest bit of news about the film’s production suggests that the studio’s very interested in making sure that the movie’s action sequences are on point.

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Disney+ and Big Cable Team Up to Crack Down on Password Sharing, and Now We're Freaked Out @ io9

Well, folks, I hate to rain on your streaming services parade, but those of us who are hoping to skirt a Disney+ subscription and instead leach off a buddy’s account may run into some trouble.

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Nintendo Is Apparently Giving New Switch Owners a Free Upgrade to Version 2 @ io9

Is there anything worse than buying something only to see the company release a new and improved version just a few weeks later? Nintendo feels your pain, and if you purchased a Switch, the original version, after July 17, the company will let you swap it for the newer version, as long as you pay for return shipping.

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WIRE Buzz: Martin Freeman back for Black Panther 2, Bond car nabs $6.4M at auction, more @ Syfy Wire

1p>Another week, another WIRE Buzz. Today, we've got the latest on Black Panther 2, James Bond's old cars, and Scott Pilgrim's 15th birthday.


 

Aside from King T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright), it looks like the Black Panther sequel will feature another familiar face: Martin Freeman's Everett K. Ross of the CIA. Recently chatting it up with Collider, the Hobbit actor spilled the beans:

“As far as I know, I will be [returning]. As far as I know, I will be in another Black Panther. That’s my understanding. As to when that will happen, I don’t know."

Courtesy of Marvel

Ross made his MCU debut in 2016's Captain America: Civil War, overseeing the imprisonment of Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) after the scheming antagonist was captured by T'Challa in Siberia. Agent Ross re-appeared in 2018's Black Panther, seeking to meet with Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) in South Korea. He takes joint custody of the villain with the Wakandan delegation, but is seriously wounded by a gunshot during a successful rescue attempt by Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan).

T'Challa takes the American to Wakanda, where he is healed by Shuri, who utters the now-iconic line of "another white boy for me to fix," referring to her de-brainwashing of Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan). Once healed, Everett helps T'Challa, Shuri, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o), and Okoye (Danai Gurira) in preventing Killmonger from realizing his plan to take over the world with futuristic Wakandan weaponry.

Ryan Coogler is already locked in at Marvel Studios to write and direct Black Panther 2.


 

The Aston Martin seen in the 1965 James Bond film Thunderball just raked in $6.4 million at auction in Monterey, California, CNN reports. While the vehicle, a classic DB5 model, was not used in the movie, it was used to promote it. Additionally, it's actually street legal and comes complete with Q's improvements: nail spreaders, tire slashers, smoke screen, and rotating license plates. That's not a joke — those things actually work, but would probably piss off a lot of other drivers if the unnamed buyer actually set them off on a public road.

What makes this so newsworthy is the fact that $6.4 million is the highest (or should we say "spy-est"?) amount ever paid for a 007 car.

Credit: Chesnot/Getty Images

Directed by Terence Young, Thunderball finds Sean Connery's Bond racing against the clock to find stolen nuclear missiles, which SPECTRE is using to hold the world ransom. Notable for its beautiful tropical setting, underwater climax, and horn-heavy opening song performed by Tom Jones, the movie was notoriously remade in 1983 as Never Say Never Again, with Connery returning to play Bond and Irvin Kershner (The Empire Strikes Back) in the director's chair.


 

"We are here to make you think about death and get sad and stuff!"

Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim comic series is celebrating its 15th birthday this weekend (on Sunday, Aug. 18, to be exact) with a party in the titular character's hometown of Toronto, Ontario. A screening of the 2010 film adaptation from director Edgar Wright (and starring Michael Cera as Scott) will be held at The Royal Cinema before a free soiree kicks off at The Beguiling Books & Art.

Since no ticket purchase is required, guests will be admitted on a first-come, first-served basis, so be sure to get there early if you're in the area and want to attend. And if you do attend, make sure to come in costume, because there's a cosplay contest in addition to a guest appearance from O'Malley, a DJ, a live on-stage presentation, and other surprises.

Credit: Oni Press

The central hero of O'Malley's Oni Press comic is a slacker/band member who falls in love with a delivery girl named Ramona Flowers (in the movie, she's played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead), only to learn that he must defeat all seven of her evil ex-boyfriends if he wishes to date her.

You can find more details about the event on its Facebook page here. Please note that the film screening is already sold out.


Who Won the Week Episode 193: Star Trek. Star Wars, Marvel Mania! @ Syfy Wire

1p>Welcome to the latest episode of Who Won the Week, a weekly podcast in which SYFY WIRE's Adam Swiderski, Dany Roth, and Karama Horne look back at the week that was and the stories that are blowing up the geek-o-sphere.

Tons to talk about today with deep diving into the crowded future of streaming platforms with all sorts of new content. We're talking Star Trek, we're talking Star Wars, we're talking the stars of the MCU. And lots, lots more! Join Dany, Karama, and SYFY WIRE News Editor Alexis Loinaz (filling in for Adam, who's ... somewhere out there), won't you?

Listen below!

Click here for the podcast's RSS feed.

Click here to subscribe on iTunes.

Click here to subscribe on Google Play.

Click here to subscribe on Spotify.

To contact us about the podcast, feel free to drop us an e-mail, or tweet at us with the hashtag #whowontheweek! And if you like what you hear, please be sure to rate and review us on iTunes! Let us know what you think the biggest stories going are, what you might want to hear in future episodes of the 'cast, and whatever else is on your mind.

When it came to getting inside Joker's head, Joaquin Phoenix had an easier time than most @ Syfy Wire

1p>Joaquin Phoenix can do crazy really, really well. For all the definitive proof you'll ever need, just check out his tour-de-force of a performance as the tempestuous Freddie Quell in Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master. With that in mind, it made a ton of sense for Todd Phillips to cast the actor in this October's Joker, an origin film about Gotham City's most famous villain as he rises to bad guy prominence in the early 1980s.

Given the character's depraved and laughter-filled outlook on life, it's probably safe to assume the role is a challenging one for actors, forcing them to venture into the darkest recesses of the human mind and bring back whatever monsters might be living in them. Maybe not for Phoenix, though, who, according to Phillips, inhabited the central part of failed comedian Arthur Fleck as if it was second nature.

"My goal wasn't to take Joaquin Phoenix and put him in the comic book universe. My goal was to take comic books and put them in the Joaquin Phoenix universe," Phillips recently told USA Today, adding that Joaquin is very well aware of the unhinged headspace required to play Batman's greatest adversary. "Joaquin was aware of that. I would say he's unusually comfortable in that space."

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Entertainment

More of an intense psychological character study akin to Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver than it is a comic book movie, Joker co-stars Zazie Beetz, Robert De Niro, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Brian Tyree Henry, Douglas Hodge, Marco Maron, Bill Camp, Shea Whigham, Josh Pais, and Bryan Callen. In particular, Cullen is playing Thomas Wayne; Hodge is Alfred; and De Niro is Murray Franklin, a talk show host meant to be an homage to 1983's The King of Comedy (yet another Scorsese picture) in which De Niro played a deranged, law-breaking comedian.

Joker will screen at the Venice Film Festival later this month before enjoying its North American premiere at the Toronto Film Festival next month. It chuckles its way into theaters everywhere Friday, Oct. 4, and then (AND ONLY THEN) will we know for certain if Phoenix's take on Gotham's Clown Prince of Crime is more unchained than those put forth by Romero, Nicholson, Hamill, Ledger, and Leto.


The 10 Best Deals of August 16, 2019 @ io9

We see a lot of deals around the web over on Kinja Deals, but these were our ten favorites today.

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Superman's Homeworld Is Dead, Again: Krypton and Lobo Spinoff Canceled at Syfy @ io9

One way or another, Superman’s home is probably doomed by the end of Krypton’s second season.

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Friday the 13th: Kane Hodder prefers Crystal Lake, ’was never a huge fan’ of Freddy crossover @ Syfy Wire

1p>When Jason Voorhees speaks, we listen. Rather than seeking out more crossover dalliances like the kind we got with 2003’s Freddy vs. Jason, the man behind the mask for the better part of the Friday the 13th franchise believes the series should return to its roots at Camp Crystal Lake — and when it’s coming from Kane Hodder, who are we to argue?

The iconic Jason actor recently dialed in on the back-to-basics approach while reflecting on his time with Friday the 13th, which ended on the big screen with 2001’s Jason X (though he did a motion-capture performance Jason’s role in 2017’s Friday the 13th: The Game). Speaking with Comicbook.com, Hodder admitted that horror crossovers like Freddy vs. Jason, which cast Ken Kirzinger behind the hockey mask despite Hodder’s willingness to reprise the part, might be popular with fans — but, in his opinion, they “cheapen” things in the long run.

Saying he’s “conflicted” about Jason ever squaring off again opposite another horror franchise’s boogeyman, Hodder said even fans’ eyes can start to glaze over if the crossover approach comes off as a gimmick. 

“[B]y the time you do 10 movies of a standalone franchise, some fans are starting to tire of it,” he explained. “You have to think of something to regenerate the excitement again and that's where the pitting one character against another one is somewhat desirable. But I was never a huge fan of it. I thought it was starting to cheapen both franchises, but obviously it worked because the movie was a big success.”

For Hodder, though, finding a way to revisit the setting and tone that made the original Friday the 13th such a breakout horror hit, all the way back in 1980, offers a better creative path for future directors seeking to reinvent the franchise. “I'd like to just go back to, somehow, the original Crystal Lake setting,” he said. “I don't know how you can come up with a story that's interesting enough, but somebody could.”

Though he has well-honed ideas about what makes his character so terrifyingly great, Hodder always gamely went wherever Friday the 13th took him. From Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood in 1988, all the way through Jason X in 2001, he clawed his way out of the grave, stormed Manhattan, went to Hell, and even found a couple of nifty high-tech ways to take out hapless victims in outer space. 

With recent legal clouds lifting from film rights to the franchise, and a hugely-buzzed (if still light on details) reboot from LeBron James in the works, there’s always the chance that Hodder could show up in a future Friday the 13th project — whether as Jason or perhaps even in some kind of Easter egg cameo role to please the fans. But wherever he turns up next, just be sure to listen closely if Jason, y'know, actually says something.

Look of the Week: The style casebook of Joan Watson on Elementary @ Syfy Wire

1p>Welcome back to Look of the Week, celebrating the best in TV and film sartorial excellence, past and present across sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and other genre classics!

After 154 episodes, Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) are bringing their crime-solving streak to an end. When Elementary was announced in 2012, it was met with some skepticism; did we need another modern reworking of Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic detective? Would a gender-flipped Watson lead to a messy will-they/won’t-they dynamic? Thankfully, the answers to these questions are yes and no. This is not a superfluous or copycat adaptation, nor did they end up dancing around a romantic relationship. Instead, Elementary explored addiction in a thoughtful and nuanced manner, which did not see Sherlock cured after three episodes. Not only that, but the relationship between the detectives will go down as one of the best platonic pairings ever portrayed on television, in part because the writers avoided common tropes.

Joan Watson also happens to be one of the best-dressed TV characters from the last decade, so we would be remiss if we didn't celebrate the end of this show with an exploration of her highly covetable style.

Credit: CBS

Since Elementary first premiered, the television landscape has shifted in favor of shortened seasons. Sure, there is still a network of often procedural shows putting out 20-plus-episode seasons, but anything ranging from eight to 13 is the new normal.

For its final season, Elementary went the latter route, but this didn't reduce the wide range of seasonal styles from Joan Watson’s extensive closet. Because production shoots on location in New York City (and often outside), Joan’s costumes run the summer-to-winter gauntlet. Even with a smaller episode order, Joan started the season in summer dresses and ended with her usual fantastic array of outerwear. No matter the month, Joan Watson has an outfit to match the weather and situation.

Credit: CBS

One of the most striking costume design evolutions for this character over the seven years is when Joan started to wear more tailored menswear-inspired suits. Rebecca Hofherr has been the Elementary costume designer since the second episode, which has seen her use clothing to mark significant evolutions in Joan's career and her relationship with Sherlock. At the end of Season 3, when Sherlock relapsed, it was also the first time Hofherr gave Joan a necktie that would become a signature accessory.

Ties and bows of all lengths and styles simply expanded her wardrobe rather than restricting it. The beauty of Joan’s fashion tastes is that the introduction of one kind of garment doesn't banish another to the consignment pile. Her new penchant for ladysuits didn't eliminate dresses and skirts from her closet.

Credit: CBS

The first tie she wore was paired with a pink Roland Mouret skirt and Uniqlo shirt, underscoring another Joan Watson costume signature: mixing high-end brands with affordable pieces. You can lust after her wardrobe and know there will be items that won’t cost a month’s rent mixed in with Isabel Marant and Victoria Beckham items.

As Joan pursued her detective career, her work attire shifted away from loose-fitting dresses to suits and ties. In later seasons, Victorian-style high-neck blouses entered the mix, again pairing high with low, including garments by Isabel Marant and Zara. Vests were also introduced later on, which Hofherr explained mirrors Sherlock’s look, as it is “a little nod to her respecting him so much.” 

Credit: CBS

Unlike Joan’s eclectic style, Sherlock very much keeps to one style of shirt, suit, and coat. In fact, he has worn the same Tom Ford peacoat throughout. Warm winter attire is vital for the characters (and actors) on Elementary, as they have worked through many a snowstorm and the polar vortex.

Joan has a steady rotation of long coats, but in a move that will make her seemingly endless wardrobe feel more relatable to viewers, these garments are often repeated.

Credit: CBS

An Alice + Olivia long black coat with a Victorian-inspired silhouette has been a staple since Season 3, serving up a dramatic shape whenever Joan wears it. She knows the power of an investment piece, which also includes a Marissa Webb windowpane check number that she first wore in Season 5 and has featured through to the final season.

The final episode features several winter attire updates. A stunning red coat pulls focus, a piece unlike anything she has worn in the past. Red is not excluded from her closet, as this season has featured crimson formal wear, stripes, and work frocks. Nevertheless, this coat is noticeably different from what has come before it.

Credit: CBS

It is also worth noting that Sherlock also has a change, switching his Tom Ford peacoat for a longer checked tweed design. He is also wearing a tie, which is very unusual for him. There is a reason for this, but to try and keep this as spoiler-free as possible, this is one mystery you can solve by watching “Their Final Bow.” The series finale has a number of striking Joan Watson costumes that tap into every style aspect, including a contrasting windowpane check Maje dress (with added neck-bow detail), the aforementioned red coat, and a black and white graphic print Marc Jacobs frock.

Joan and Sherlock came up against their most dastardly foe (not counting Natalie Dormer's Moriarty) in Season 7 with James Frain — who often plays the villain, including turns on True Blood, Orphan Black, and Gotham, as well as Spock's father on Star Trek: Discovery — as a tech giant who wants to play judge, jury, and executioner. But being confronted with a new powerful enemy didn't mean Joan toned down the graphic prints and color of previous years.

Credit: CBS 

In fact, this might be her boldest season yet, from Stella McCartney zigzag and striped palazzo pants to pink cropped Victoria Beckham slacks, a shirt dress with a 1920s-inspired graphic by LA Double J (featuring a bow detail), and a red Diane von Furstenberg bird print frock. Going into this fight against a billionaire titan does not turn Joan into a shrinking violet. Her sartorial levels are just as high as they have ever been.

Crime procedurals are still vital to network television, even in the era of Peak TV, but what has made Elementary stand out is this central relationship, the way it pivoted from the source material (while holding it close to its heart), and the sophisticated style of Joan Watson. Solving murders has never looked this good.

Krypton will not return for third season, Lobo spinoff not moving forward at SYFY @ Syfy Wire

1p>Krypton, the DC prequel series about Superman's grandfather Seg-El (played by Cameron Cuffe), will not be returning for a third season.

In addition, the Lobo spinoff project with Emmett J. Scanlan in the titular role also won't be moving forward at the network. The studio involved in the co-productions, Warner Horizon Television, plans to shop them to other possible distributors.

Developed by David S. Goyer (co-writer of The Dark Knight and Batman v Superman), Krypton takes place years before the birth of Kal-El (aka Clark Kent/Superman) and the eponymous planet's destruction that sent the hero to Earth. The show's story follows Seg-El's crusade to bring honor to his disgraced house, while trying to stop dastardly plots, including one that involves preventing the birth of his iconic grandson. Along the way, he makes valuable allies like Lyta-Zod (Georgina Campbell) and Adam Strange (Shaun Sipos) and fights famous antagonists like Brainiac (Blake Ritson) and Doomsday.

Executive-produced by Goyer, Cameron Welsh, and Damian Kindler, the comic book series also co-stars Elliot Cowan (Daron-Vex), Ann Ogbomo (Jayna-Zod), Rasmus Hardiker (Kem), Aaron Pierre (Dev-Em), Ian McElhinney (Val-El), Wallis Day (Nyssa-Vex), Colin Salmon (General Dru-Zod), and Hannah Waddingham (Jax-Ur).

Season 1 of Krypton is currently available on DC Universe. Season 2, which aired its final episode ("The Alpha and the Omega") earlier this week, will arrive on the subscription streaming platform soon.


This Week's Best New Comics Are Veritable Orgies of Monsters and Mayhem @ io9

The funny thing about being an adult who’s into comics is how you become accustomed to reading stories that graze up against things like sex and real-world politics just slightly enough to convey that while the creative wants you to think about them, the publisher might not exactly be comfortably proclaiming it out…

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30 Very Good Sci-Fi Dogs @ io9

Now that all the hype surrounding Captain Marvel’s top scene-stealer, Goose the cat (or “cat,” if you will), has died down a little, it’s high time we shifted our adoring attentions over to the dogs of science fiction. The genre has produced many, many very good puppers over the years, including these 30 favorites.

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WIRE Buzz: Black Mirror star eyeing Mortal Kombat; Wynonna Earp creator developing new series @ Syfy Wire

1p>Though he played a version of a kung fu video-game character in the "Striking Vipers" episode of Black Mirror, Ludi Lin may be leveling up to join a full video-game film adaptation. 

Variety reports that Lin is currently in negotiations with New Line Cinema to join the latest live-action adaptation of Mortal Kombat. He would play the role of Liu Kang, a character who was introduced in the very first game in 1992. The monk (with some resemblance to Bruce Lee) is well known for his flying kicks. The casting would be spot-on, as the fictional video game that he appeared in as part of Black Mirror bears more than a passing resemblance to the "Finish him!" world of the Mortal Kombat games

This new adaptation is being produced by James Wan and will be directed by Simon McQuoid. Lin has worked with Wan before, as he appeared as Captain Murk in Wan's Aquaman. He also starred in Power Rangers in 2017, playing Zack. 

Unless it receives some kind of fatality, this new Mortal Kombat venture is expected to hit screens in March of 2021. Pre-production on the project is currently underway. 


 

Wynonna Earp creator Emily Andras has a new trick up her sleeve. She is looking to team once again with SYFY (which is home to Wynonna Earp and, like SYFY WIRE, is owned by NBCUniversal) to develop a new drama called Axeholes

According to The Hollywood Reporter, a studio would be brought in to co-produce the project should the series move forward. The show follows a group of characters who are attending a convention, who then get transported into the world of their favorite fantasy television show called Blue Bar'Bara. As THR reports, "In the worst role-playing game ever, the unequipped party must learn to navigate a dangerous land of profanity-spewing battle axes, sociopathic fairies, disturbingly sensual dragons, and a chainmail-bikini-wearing shield maiden as they struggle to find a way back home." 

From L-R: Katherine Barrell, Emily Andras and Dominique Provost-Chalkley (Credit: Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images)

 

Andras would serve as executive producer as well as showrunner on the series. In a statement to THR, Andras said, "I am excited to take on a new adventure series that is an adoring, tongue-in-cheek love letter to fandom in general, and fierce barbarian princesses in particular. I am especially thrilled that it will allow me to continue working with SYFY, who have been endlessly supportive of the hilarious, moving, action-packed feminist genre shows I love to create for television.”


 

In Avengers: Endgame, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) found himself in the past, fighting... himself. It was tough, because the man who proudly bears "America's A**" can do this all day... and he just didn't have the time. How did the filmmakers manage to shoot the Rogers vs. Rogers showdown? 

A new video from Marvel Entertainment sheds some light on the matter. Of course, stunt doubles were involved, as were computer-generated effects. One of the more notable aspects, however, is that to avoid confusion over which Cap was which, the Cap from the past ended up keeping his trademark helmet on. Originally, both of them had the helmet off, and everyone was confused. 

Take a look at the video here: 

 

It's yet another instance of the crew behind this movie doing whatever it takes, and possibly one of the only instances where Steve Rogers' determination to never stop stopping proves to be a detriment to him. 

Avengers: Endgame is available on home video right now. Is Cap gonna tell us about the ring on his finger? No, we don't think he will. 


Deep Cuts: Black Sheep (2006) @ Syfy Wire

1p>The world of horror is vast. With so many films across the spectrum of budget, studio involvement, quality, availability, and, above all else, pure scare-the-living-shit-out-of-you-ness, it helps to have trained professionals parse through some of the older and/or lesser-known offerings. That's where Team FANGRRLS comes in with Deep Cuts, our series dedicated to bringing the hidden gems of horror out of the vault and into your nightmares. This week, we're talking about New Zealand horror-comedy Black Sheep.

I'm going to tell you a story. It is one of youthful adventure and unexpected delights. It begins in my senior year of high school in 2006 when I was trying to figure out what to do for my 18th birthday. Being a young woman of simple pleasures, I decided to gather some of my good friends, my sister, and a bunch of junk food to watch a movie. This was a simpler time — a time when Blockbuster Video was a thriving establishment, when you could walk into its brightly lit storefront and stroll along its seemingly endless aisles of titles, looking for just the right one. It was a time of true home video spontaneity, which is how I ended up spending my 18th birthday in my dad's basement with a group of friends watching Black Sheep. No, not the 1996 Chris Farley movie. I'm talking about the 2006 New Zealand horror-comedy about zombie sheep.

Yes, you heard me. 

Zombie.

Sheep.

Granted, as with all things, it's not as simple as run of the mill zombie sheep. Oh no. This movie is about family, and about ethical farming, and…bestiality? Yes, there is sheep sex. It makes sense, technically, but mostly it's there for the weirdness and the inherent discomfort it brings to the audience, and for a very specific gag at the end of the movie that I'm pretty sure I can't describe to you satisfactorily and still keep my job. And I like my job. So if my brief description makes you itch, maybe this movie isn't for you. But if you can stand some jokes about sheep sex and a whole lot of viscera, then get ready, cause this movie is a TRIP.

First of all, "zombie sheep movie" is kind of a misnomer. I apologize. You see, a zombie movie makes you think walking undead, sheep-shaped decaying drones just looking to consume flesh. While these sheep definitely eat people — a LOT of people — they're not drones. These are genetically engineered, highly intelligent sheep. Case in point: pretty early on in the film, one of the sheep actually manages to carjack our heroic trio. It steals the car. And then it drives the car over a cliff.

The film follows Henry, a young man who is mortally afraid of sheep. This all stems from a traumatic experience when he was young, living on his family sheep farm when his brother, a giant asshole of a teenager, kills Henry's favorite sheep, skins it, puts on the bloody skin and proceeds to scare the living hell out of the kid. To make matters worse, roughly 10 seconds after this kid has been pee-your-pants terrified by a brother shaped sheep monster, he finds out that his dad has just been killed in a sheep-related accident. All of this bodes well for a young man who, 15 years later, will have to face down 40,000 mutant sheep all intent on killing him and consuming his flesh.

When Henry returns to the farm, he meets up with his old friend Tucker and an animal rights/environmental activist and all-around hippie stereotype named Experience and they discover pretty quickly that there's something terribly wrong with the sheep. How do they know? Well, one tries to kill them. It's a pretty good indicator.

The beauty of Black Sheep is that it knows exactly what kind of movie it is and who its audience is. If, when I said "zombie sheep movie," you were hoping for some specific imagery or moment, trust me, you'll probably get it. Are you wondering what happens when a person is bitten but not killed? Does the zombie sheep virus become just a regular old zombie virus? 

OH NO. If you are bitten by a zombie sheep you turn into a giant human-sheep mutant that stands on two legs, somehow has opposable thumbs on cloven hooves, and wears clothing because OF COURSE YOU DO.

This movie is the definition of "well, that escalated quickly."

I could continue to describe the insanity of this film. I could tell you about how Henry and Experience attempt to flee the hordes of killer sheep by escaping through inexplicable tunnels full of offal. I could describe to you the highly confusing relationship Henry's brother has with this human-sheep hybrid thing he's created using his own sperm. I could, but I feel like I would be denying you the joy of experiencing it for yourself unhindered by my continued jokes on the matter. 

If you're the type of person who hears "zombie sheep movie" and knows you're on board, you deserve to find out how it ends all on your own. And trust me, it is worth it.

Physicists Entangled Photons in the Lab With Photons From the Sun @ io9

In a classic physics experiment, scientists set up quantum entanglement between sunlight and light generated here on Earth.

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WIRE Buzz: Raising Dion first look, Secret Agent Elvis, young Harley Quinn @ Syfy Wire

1p>Netflix gives us the goods on two upcoming shows while DC teases a new graphic novel featuring a young Harley Quinn in this edition of WIRE Buzz, which some have suggested couldn’t hurt your chances of gaining superhuman strength. (Results may vary.) 

First up, Netflix has given an October release date and released the first images for Raising Dion, its upcoming superhero drama series based on a comic book and short film by commercial and music video director Dennis Liu. 

Credit: Netflix

In the nine-episode hourlong drama, Alisha Wainwright plays Nicole, a single mother raising her son Dion (Ja’Siah Young) after the death of her husband, Mark (Michael B. Jordan). When Dion starts to display superhero-like abilities, Nicole must keep her son’s gifts a secret and protect Dion from those wanting to exploit him.

The cast also includes Jason Ritter, Jazmyn Simon and Sammi Haney.

Credit: Netflix

Credit: Netflix

Carol Barbee serves as showrunner, with Jordan, Liu, Kenny Goodman, Kim Roth, Michael Green, and Charles D. King’s Macro production banner executive producing. 

Raising Dion launches Oct. 4 on Netflix. 


Courtesy of Netflix

Up next, thank you, Netflix. Thank you very much. A representative from Netflix confirmed a Variety report that the streaming giant has just ordered Agent King, an adult animated series that imagines the late, great Elvis Presley, as a secret agent. 

In Agent King, after being covertly inducted into a secret government spy program, Elvis trades in his white jumpsuit for a jet pack to fight the forces of evil that threaten the good ole U.S. of A. He of course does all of this while still holding down his day job as the King of Rock & Roll.

Priscilla Presley and John Eddie will serve as co-creators and executive producers on the series. Jerry Schilling will serve as one of the consultants on the project.

Mike Arnold of Archer fame will serve as showrunner, writer, and executive producer.  

“From the time Elvis was a young boy he always dreamed of being the superhero fighting crime and saving the world! Agent King lets him do just that,” said Priscilla Presley in a statement. “My co-creator John Eddie and I are so excited to be working with Netflix and Sony Animation on this amazing project and getting the chance to show the world an Elvis they haven’t seen before.”

The series hails from Sony Pictures Animation, Sony Pictures Television, and Authentic Brands Group.


And finally, Harley Quinn may not be in James Gunn’s upcoming Suicide Squad sequel, but the DC villain can be found in plenty of other places: in live-action film, on animated television, and in her own graphic novel: Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass.

Written by Eisner Award and Caldecott Honor-winning Mariko Tamaki with art by Eisner Award-nominated Steve Pugh, Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass is a coming-of-age story centered around tough and rebellious 15-year-old Harleen Quinzel as she moves to Gotham City with just five dollars and a knapsack to her name. Harleen is taken in by a drag queen named Mama who owns a karaoke cabaret. But when the cabaret becomes the latest victim of gentrification, Harleen must decide between joining her friend Ivy, who's campaigning to make the neighborhood a better place to live, or side with The Joker, who plans to take down the corporation looking to kick Harleen and Mama out of their home.

Check out the official trailer that Deadline originally unveiled (which has some NSFW language) below. 

 

Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass goes on sale starting Sept. 3. It is available for pre-order now.  


Indie Comics Spotlight: How the Prométheé 13:13 team reverse-engineered a mind-bending journey @ Syfy Wire

1p>In English, it's not totally clear what exactly are the differences between comic books and graphic novels, especially now that so many comics are sold in collections. But in French, that's not a problem. "Bandes dessinées," which literally translates to “drawn strips,” is a classification of Franco-Belgian comics known for high art, hardbound books that don't feature any superheroes. Some are westerns, some are coming-of-age tales, and others are space odysseys. One of the most popular Bandes dessinées in recent history is Prométhée, by writer and artist Christophe Bec.

In Bec’s epic sci-fi fantasy, the human race is actually a vast experiment controlled by aliens. Ultimately, after years of seeing us flail about, they decide to finally stop their operation and wipe the slate clean by invading and destroying Earth. D-day occurs on Sept. 21, 2019, when at 13:13 military time, clocks stop working, planes fall from the sky, and the crew of Space Shuttle Atlantis has a no good, very bad day.

The first issue of Prométhée debuted in France in April of 2016, and the book has been a hit ever since. So far, the series consists of nineteen 46-page hardcover volumes that, until now, had only been available in French. However, in 2018, Delcourt Group, the leading indie comic book publisher in France, collaborated with ComiXology to distribute Prométhée in English. They also struck a deal with ComiXology Originals to produce Prométhée 13:13an English-language prequel whose story would dovetail nicely into Bec’s original work.

Written by Andy Diggle, (Green Arrow: Year One, The Losers, James Bond), with art by Shawn Martinbrough (Thief of Thieves, Batman: Detective Comics,The Black Panther, Hellboy) and cover art by Jock (Green Arrow, Daredevil Reborn, The Losers), Prométhée 13:13 follows the story of a woman who’s been having violent visions of the future, unsure of their validity or her sanity.

SYFY WIRE spoke with both Diggle and Martinbrough about what it was like creating a prequel from a popular foreign saga, and why looking an alien directly in the eye could make your head explode.

Artist: Jock

How did you both get involved with the project? Did ComiXology come to you?

Shawn Martinbrough: Chip Mosher, the head of ComiXology Originals, brought me in. We had worked together when they had adapted my previous series Thief of Thieves for Robert Kirkman at Skybound. Chip told me they were working on a new original series that Andy Diggle would write and Will Dennis would edit. I love Andy and I think he's a fantastic writer. We worked on The Losers and three arcs of Thief of Thieves together. And it really intrigued me, because I've never really done something exclusively for the digital market.

Andy Diggle: Will Dennis approached me initially, and he is one of my favorite people in comics. He's the editor who first put Jock and me together on The Losers. And of course, I love working with Shawn. He's just the best storyteller and a very nice guy and a pleasure to work with. Plus, he makes me look good!

How did you tackle such an expansive story?

AD: They gave me PDFs of Christophe’s entire series, and I bought myself a secondhand iPad just to read it. There's a lot of beautiful art and very dense texts, so it was a pleasure just disappearing into that for a few days. But because the story is so complex and has time paradoxes and multiple character arcs, It took me a while to figure out how to find a way into the story.

It sounds almost Whovian.

AD: Yes, there are definitely "wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey'" bits to it.

SM: The scope of it was pretty impressive. Andy had the near-impossible task of reading all 18 volumes and trying to come up with a coherent narrative that could serve as a prequel. We wanted to introduce new characters but also play with some pre-existing ones and set up all the events that are going to happen in Bec’s series. 

How did you decide on the prequel story?

AD: There's a time-travel aspect in Bec’s story, so I used that. He also established that some characters who have been abducted by aliens obtain the ability to see the future. Darla, our main character in 13:13, sees visions of the end of the world, but was told from a young age that she had a brain injury from an accident. Very quickly it’s revealed that she’s not crazy and her premonitions are real.

Does Darla work for the government or a corporation? Or is she just a regular civilian?

AD: I specifically wanted her to be an average, everyday person, because I've written so many scowly, tough-guy, action-hero types. We know that the apocalypse is imminent, I wanted to have somebody who was the opposite of that kind of hero. Someone who wasn't going to be saving the world. Someone who's completely out of her depth and would probably deal with it with the same kind of bewilderment and sense of barely restrained panic that I would in that situation. 

Artist: Shawn Martinbrough

Artist: Shawn Martinbrough

So if she’s not mentally unstable, that means she really was abducted?

AD: Exactly. When she was a little girl, Darla was found floating in a lake and [had to be] resuscitated. She claimed that she had been kidnapped by a man from the moon, but of course, no one believed her. They assumed that her ramblings were hallucinations brought on by brain damage from hypoxia.

Over the years as she's grown up, she'd been convinced by her doctors that none of that was real, and she is on anti-anxiety medication. But then something happens right at the very beginning of our story where she basically comes to realize that everything she’s seeing is real. So we not only see the future through her gifts, but also we go back in time and get to see what happened when she was a little girl, and learn how it all connects.

Is she a vessel for one of the aliens?

AD: It's a concept that I took from Christophe's original series. Certain abductees had their eyes modified in some type of procedure. Basically, because when humans look at an alien in this universe, it makes their head explode. The people whom the aliens want to communicate with undergo this procedure to sort of switch off that deadly defense mechanism. A side effect is that it activates a part of the brain that processes precognitive abilities.

Giving someone on the planet premonition of the invasion you are about to carry out is kind of an inefficient way to carry out an attack, though.

AD: You're absolutely right. It took me a long time to figure out that there were two different groups of aliens. One one side you have aliens that are going to invade and another group who've rebelled and want to save humanity. They picked Darla for reasons of their own to be one of the people who's going to survive.

ComiXology

Did ComiXology ask you to include an African-American woman in this story?

SM: No, it was all Andy’s idea.

AD: Darla is probably closer to me than most of the characters I've written in that she's just a very ordinary person. Compared to most of the characters I've written, who tend to be people who deal with extreme situations all the time. I'm aware that I'm a white British guy writing about a Black American woman, and I’m slightly nervous that I’m going to get something horribly wrong. To be honest, I, I felt more that way when I was writing Shadowman (Valiant).

SM: I've been drawing stories with mostly white male protagonists as well, and it was a fascinating shift to go from that to a full-figured black female character as the lead of this series. His actual reference for her was Octavia Spencer. So I pretty much went with that, and Darla is a loose visual mix of Octavia Spencer and my wife.

How many issues are planned?

AD: Originally ComiXology, originally was going to release two 46-page volumes. But we wanted to get the first one out in time for SDCC. So we split the first book down the middle and released the first half. I'm treating it as a 96-page OGN. But the way it ends leads very neatly into the beginning of Christophe's main series.

Is there another precog story that you're working on? Is there another prequel in the works?

AD: Not yet, but I'd like to do more stuff with ComiXology, because I think they've got a terrific deal and they treated us really well. I'm going to take some time off once I've finished Prométhée to write a screenplay for myself on spec. When I return, I think ComiXology Originals will be my first port of call, because I've always wanted to do creator-owned stuff. I've been doing this for 20 years now, and I've got lots of stories of my own that I want to tell.


Space Pirates’ Last Stand: Revealing Gravity of a Distant Sun by R.E. Stearns @ Barnes & Noble: Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Hundreds of years from now, space pirates Adda Karpe and Iridian Nassir are on the run from just about everyone: the pirate captain they won over in Barbary Station, what passes for interplanetary law enforcement in the future, and the artificial intelligences they’d thought they could trust in Mutiny at Vesta.

In February 2020, the lovers/engineers-turned-outer space outlaws will face their last stand as R. E. Stearns’s Shieldrunner Pirates trilogy concludes with Gravity of a Distant Sun, a tense and tech-heavy adventure across the solar system. Below, we share the officially summary and cover, with art by Jon McCoy and design by John Vairo

Adda and Iridian have survived the murderous AI that tried to kill them in Barbary Station and an evil megacorporation in Mutiny at Vesta but now they’ll need all of their ingenuity to make it to the end of this epic trilogy.

Adda Karpe and Iridian Nassir are on the run—both from the authorities who want to imprison them and the artificial intelligence that want to control their minds. Trapped on a desolate black-market space station on the edge of Jupiter, they’re nearly out of allies—and out of luck.

Now, they have one last shot to find a safe haven where they can live together in peace—across the interstellar bridge to another galaxy. Getting onto that mission will take everything they’ve got and more. But on the other side of that bridge lies the life they’ve always dreamed of…if they can survive long enough to reach it.

“I am always amazed by the way Saga Press turns plain words into art with their book design,” Stearns said. “Jupiter’s bold colors are a great way to announce our heroines’ adventures on the cover of the final volume of the trilogy. The station pictured is Adda and Iridian’s last fallback point, and it looks appropriately foreboding!”

Stearns’ editor Navah Wolfe agreed: “This absolutely gorgeous art feels like a fitting cover for the final book in the Shieldrunner Pirates trilogy. This book brings Adda and Iridian’s adventures full circle, and it’s action-packed, tense, exciting, and deeply satisfying.”

Preorder Gravity of a Distant Sun, available February 18, 2020.

The post Space Pirates’ Last Stand: Revealing <i>Gravity of a Distant Sun</i> by R.E. Stearns appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

MNML's New Weekender Backpack Is So Beautiful, It Hurts @ io9

MNML’s The Highlander backpack gave me a taste of luxury, and I’m not sure if I can ever go back.

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Exclusive: Arrow S7 deleted scene reveals why Curtis left Team Arrow @ Syfy Wire

1p>As we all prepare ourselves emotionally for the epic eighth and final season of Arrow, it's probably best to revisit the wild rollercoaster that was Season 7. Thankfully, we'll have that opportunity on August 20 when the complete seventh season of Arrow comes to Blu-ray and DVD — and SYFY WIRE has an exclusive look at a scene that never made it to air.

The 22-episode season saw some serious heart-pounding moments. Oliver turned himself over to the FBI, revealing his identity as the Green Arrow to the public. Then Team Arrow had a seemingly never-ending stream of ruthless baddies to deal with, not to mention we got to meet Oliver's half-sister Emiko Queen. Needless to say, it was a lot!

Here's a peek at the box art for the Blu-ray + Digital release:

Credit | Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

In S7, Oliver's (Stephen Arnell) limits were tested inside Slabside Maximum Security Prison. Can't a man just sit in prison and do his time so he can return to his family? Well, not when you end up in prison with Danny "Brick" Brickwell. Brickwell and a who's who of former baddies have plans to complicate Oliver's intention for early release. The rest of Team Arrow picks up the slack for Oliver as they try to keep crime at bay in Star City. Of course, crime has a way of finding the team, no matter where they are, as we saw in episode 13.

During the middle of the season, the team is the target of the aptly named "Star City Slayer" who turns out to be Stanley Dover. Dover is not a massive fan of the nickname, but he is a big fan of Oliver. He developed this unhealthy obsession while the pair were in prison together where he served as Oliver's sorta sidekick.

Stanley escapes during the riot caused by Ricardo Diaz (aka The Dragon). Wanting to prove his loyalty to Oliver, he goes on a killing spree. Thankfully Team Arrow is there to piece together the location of the killer. A break in the case comes when they discover the killer uses a rare paralytic compound. Curtis Holt (Echo Kellum) locates the origin of the drug to a house in the Glades.

In this exclusive clip obtained by SYFY WIRE, we see the immediate aftermath of Stanley's attempt on Dinah's life. Curtis is clearly shaken by the experience and informs Rene "Wild Dog" Ramirez (Rick Gonzalez) that he's considering taking up a job offer in Washington D.C. As you can see in the clip, Wild Dog is having a little trouble hearing that news. 

 

Curtis admits he's been having trouble finding purpose. He doesn't want to be another "cog in the A.R.G.U.S. machine." Curtis departs Team Arrow for D.C. but not before leaving behind the Helix Company to Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards). Okay, we won't rehash the entire season right here, we'll leave the rest of the rewatch in your capable hands.

Arrow: The Complete Seventh Season will be available on Blu-ray and DVD on August 20. Both sets contain all 22-episodes along with the 2018 Comic-Con Panel, a crossover featurette, deleted scenes, and gag reel. Fans who snag the Blu-ray set will also get three DC Crossover: Elseworlds episodes.

The five-disc DVD set is priced at $39.99, with the four-disc Blu-ray set priced at $44.98. The seventh season will also be available to own on Digital via various digital retailers.

Arrow is based on the characters from DC, Arrow is produced by Bonanza Productions Inc. in association with Berlanti Productions and Warner Bros. Television, with executive producers Greg Berlanti (The Flash, Supergirl), Beth Schwartz (DC’s Legends of Tomorrow) and Sarah Schechter (The Flash, Black Lightning). 

The eighth and final season of Arrow premieres on October 15 on The CW.


This Philips Bluetooth Speaker Is an Impulse Buy at $12 @ io9

Apropos of Nothing at All, Here's Some Pictures of a Sweet New Ewan McGregor Obi-Wan Kenobi Figure @ io9

Not like anyone’s talking about Ewan McGregor and Obi-Wan Kenobi all of a sudden. Right?

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Emmy Contender: How Good Omens designed 6,000 years of costumes for Aziraphale and Crowley @ Syfy Wire

1p>Welcome to Emmy Contenders 2019. This month, SYFY WIRE is speaking to a long list of actors, artists, and artisans whose work earned them Emmy nominations this year. Today we speak with Claire Anderson, the Emmy-nominated costume designer for Amazon's Good Omens.

Aziraphale and Crowley have known each other since the Garden of Eden days, but they haven’t been wearing the same clothes for all 6,000 of those years — otherwise, they wouldn't have done a very good job fitting into human society for all that time. Coming up with different looks for each historical period featured on the biblical Amazon show was one of the biggest challenges for Claire Anderson, the costume designer on Amazon's adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's seminal novel Good Omens — especially since each vignette only took up a small amount of screen time.

“You’re trying to be cost-effective and yet still create the impact of the passage of time,” Anderson tells SYFY WIRE. Using Aziraphale and Crowley’s modern looks as a baseline, she adapted their color palettes and silhouettes for earlier encounters in ancient periods. Here's how their looks evolved over time, with commentary from Anderson.

Credit: Amazon/Claire Anderson

GARDEN OF EDEN, 4004 B.C.

Anderson looked at everything from Pre-Raphaelite paintings to Al Pacino’s hippie clothes in Serpico to determine just the right flow for Aziraphale’s rough-hewn robe, which has gold embroidery on the shoulders and side. Aziraphale is also wearing a golden ring, which later becomes a signet ring stamped with wings in the Victorian era.

NOAH'S ARK, MESOPOTAMIA, 3004 B.C.

“As aged as I am, I wasn’t there,” Anderson says, laughing. “And there wasn’t any painting or documentation from this era. But what we do know is that tunics remained pretty simple, and the earlier shape would have served them well for many years.” Aziraphale’s robe becomes more streamlined, and he wears gold beads at the neck.

Credit: Amazon

THE CRUCIFIXION, GOLGOTHA, 33

By this time, both Aziraphale and Crawley — now Crowley — are wearing turbans and head wraps, which Anderson attributes to “a bit of vanity.” Plus the wrap helps Crowley conceal his snake-like eyes (it’s too soon for glasses). Aziraphale dons a soft leather coat over his tunic, while Crowley wears female attire of the region — an abaya.

ROME, 41

Switching from tunics to togas was difficult, since togas contain 6 to 12 meters of fabric, which is a lot to carry around on camera. Anderson reduced the size by cutting the togas to fit for the character’s movements, and she gave each actor a thematic decorative pin to hold their togas together — Crowley a serpent and staff, Aziraphale a pair of wings (both courtesy of George Easton at Danegeld Historic Jewellery). Although history might argue that it’s too soon for sunglasses, Crowley starts to shield his eyes with a very small, eye-shaped lens. “It’s suggestive, rather than historically accurate,” Anderson says. And as a sign that Crowley is adapting to the humans around him, he also wears a silver laurel wreath.

Credit: Amazon Studios

ARTHURIAN ENGLAND, THE KINGDOM OF WESSEX, 537

Anderson sent character descriptions and visuals for Aziraphale and Crowley to armor specialist FBFX, which sent a van to London full of pieces that could work for angelic and demonic armor. Instead of focusing on historical accuracy, Anderson looked for shapes and fit that suggested an ethereal — or snakelike — quality, once the pieces had been painted black or silver. For Crowley, she found a helmet that had a smaller face that could suggest a snakehead, and for Aziraphale, shoulder pieces that were slightly wing-like. To add to the wing effect, Anderson added a white fur caplet to Aziraphale’s armor. “It was terribly grand, but not very practical,” she says. “And the poor guys, it was murderously uncomfortable to stand around in that armor.”

 

GLOBE THEATRE, LONDON, 1601

Crowley and Aziraphale catch an early version of Hamlet, looking more period-appropriate than ever thanks to the Globe’s vast archive of costumes. Aziraphale’s wardrobe, which includes a neck ruff edged with gold thread, has a metallic look with a hint of iridescent blue, which opens up his color palette. Crowley, meanwhile, wears a cleaner neckline and leather on his doublet, as well as fabrics that provide sheen and luster to suggest his snaky origins.   

Credit: Amazon

REVOLUTIONARY FRANCE, PARIS, 1793

This is not a period to be dressed like an aristocrat, but Aziraphale couldn’t resist a lace collar, gold brocade and fitted jacket — which explains why he’s stuck in a prison cell (at least until Crowley intervenes). Crowley, more mindful of what revolutionaries would wear, dons a dark red jacket that’s almost as dark as his usual black. When Aziraphale miracle-changes his clothes, he wears the red cap of liberty. “It’s a soft beret that falls somewhere between a modern French beret and a pirate headdress,” Anderson notes.

Credit: Amazon Studios

ST. JAMES' PARK, LONDON, 1862

This is the time period with which Aziraphale gets most comfortable, fashion-wise, and settles into a Victorian look with tartan flair. Anderson also bestowed some heavenly nods to his angelic nature — a feathery velvet top hat, a stopwatch with angel’s wings on the chain, and the signet ring. Crowley, meanwhile, wears a pair of long, elegantly cut trousers that we will see again in the 1960s. “The trousers repeat, which is basically what fashion does anyway,” Anderson says. “And it’s what the story does. There are notes backward and forwards.”

Credit: Amazon/Claire Anderson

THE BLITZ, LONDON, 1941

Aziraphale’s tartan necktie becomes a bow tie, and his penchant for wide lapels, a nod to his wings, continues, this time with a spear-point collar. Crowley, who comes to save Aziraphale once again, is dressed more formally, in a full double-breasted wool suit that must have been hard for David Tennant to wear in the South African heat. “The rest of the crew were in flip-flops and T-shirts, and David was in the suit, hat, and those big boots,” Anderson says, recalling the shoot.  “He had to be very physically active in that scene, and yet David didn’t complain about the heat or anything. He’s amazing.”

SOHO, LONDON, 1967

Crowley, as noted, continues to wear his Victorian trousers, which are right up to date, and which he pairs with a black paisley velvet jacket with contrasting lapels. His sunglasses now have more of a John Lennon vibe. Aziraphale, perhaps inadvertently, is also looking stylish with his Victorian topcoat, spear-point collar, and cravat (modified from his scarf in Victorian England). “You can’t avoid being affected by changing trends,” Anderson says. “However bookish you are, you still notice other people. And you would have had Rolling Stones and Beatles fans wearing that kind of thing. That was our argument for Aziraphale wearing his Victorian topcoat all the way through, and Michael Sheen loved it. He said it inspired him. And the cravat rang in the changes and helped us with the passage of time, rather than always having him wear a bow tie.”


Carnival Row Is Just Dull, and All the Fairy Fornicating in the World Can't Save It @ io9

In a world where fantasy adaptations reign...hell, in the very same world of the studio that’s putting Lord of the Rings to the screen again, Amazon’s Carnival Row is not the fantasy drama you’re looking for.

Read more...

Seven movies that would be better with Angela Bassett @ Syfy Wire

1p>Angela Bassett has been on our mood boards before mood boards were ever a thing. She gives eternal bad b*tch energy and any of us would be lucky to just have a fraction of it. There is only one and will only be one Angela Bassett. She’s a godsend of an actress, making almost everything she’s in better with just her presence alone.

After inventing being a vampire in Vampire in Brooklyn, she set the standard for voodoo queens in AHS: Coven, and made us envy the space pod she shared with P90x James Spader in Supernova. It's a true travesty that she hasn’t been in more genre films, especially sci-fi.

Given that today is her birthday, SYFY WIRE FANGRRLS is celebrating her special day with a list of movies that could have been improved if she were in them. Happy Birthday, Queen! 


 

This Enormous Supernova Was Unlike Anything Seen Before @ io9

Astronomers have observed a supernova unlike any ever observed before, and it might be strong evidence of an important kind of stellar death that would have shaped early galaxies.

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The Week in Geek: Ghost Rider takes Marvel supernatural and amazing TV innovations @ Syfy Wire

1p>Well, here we are. The end of another week. It's the last few weeks of August, which means the theaters aren't exactly blowing up with new movies to talk about. But there's still nerdy things out there worth your time, they're just a little trickier to find.

And that's the very reason weekly round-ups exist: to make sure you didn't miss a big story that's worth thinking and talking about. So here they are: the five biggest stories from ... The Week in Geek.

ABC/Marvel

GHOST RIDER AND HELSTROM ARE PART OF A SHARED UNIVERSE OF FEAR

Turns out that Hulu's Ghost Rider series is going to be just the beginning for the more supernatural end of the Marvel spectrum. "We started having the same conversation [with Hulu], which was there in the comic book world [with] the Spirit of Vengeance, and they are this sort of unusual group of characters, which involve Ghost Rider, which involve Helstrom, which involve Helstrom’s sister, Anna," Marvel TV Chief Jeph Loeb said this week. "We suddenly saw that there were three or four shows that we could put together that we now refer to as Adventure Into Fear."

"Adventure Into Fear" was an ongoing comic franchise that lasted at Marvel for about three years. And if you were wondering who, other than Ghost Rider, Helstrom, and "Helstrom's sister," you could, hypothetically, look forward to seeing on Hulu, the answer could be Man-Thing and ... Morbius? Maybe not Morbius, since he's supposed to be getting his own movie through Sony in 2020. But Man-Thing is coming, maybe! So if you're sullen about Swamp Thing getting canceled so quickly, get hype! For Man-Thing!

But this opens the door to stuff like Midnight Sons, which could mean meeting multiple different Ghost Rider characters. Maybe we'll get Danny Ketch and Johnny Blaze together in a live-action show! Maybe Nic Cage is coming back!

We could also see A.R.M.O.R., Jennifer Kale, Werewolf by Night ... heck, there could be a whole Marvel Zombies plotline. A lot could happen on an Adventure Into Fear.

DISNEY+ FORCES EWAN McGREGOR BACK INTO THOSE JEDI ROBES

Forces. It's a Star Wars joke. Anyway, speaking of streaming services owned by Disney, we've been hearing for a very long time that Ewan McGregor, who played Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequels, would eventually return to the role. He kind of did, technically, as the voice of Obi-Wan in the Force dream that Rey had during Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And back when those Star Wars side stories were profitable and not, uh ... Solo, there was talk of there even being an Obi-Wan movie.

Instead, the forthcoming streaming platform Disney+ looks to be Ol' Ben's new landing spot. As of now, McGregor is still technically listed as being "in talks," but let's be honest: Disney would never let this information slip if it wasn't essentially a done deal. In fact, and this is pure speculation, but isn't it possible that the ink has been dry on this deal for a while? Isn't it possible that McGregor has already returned as Obi-Wan and we just don't know it yet? Isn't he in Rise of Skywalker? Come on. Search your feelings, you know it's at least possible.

Regardless, this new Obi-Wan series is yet another reason that shelling out money to Disney for its streaming service feels inevitable. Oof. Is it ethical to start a gofundme so you can afford to watch all the shows? Asking for a friend.

IS MINI-LED THE SHORT-TERM FUTURE OF TELEVISION?

People watch a lot of their entertainment on their phones, but, statistically speaking, the average size of televisions in the home is still increasing. The main reason for the trend of larger TVs is affordability. Technically, you can buy a 75-inch television for under $1,000 these days. It may not be the best 75-inch TV, but it'll be 75 inches, and that's what really matters when you have company over but don't have to turn on the TV.

A big part of the reason TVs are so affordable lately is because there haven't been a lot of innovations in their technological underpinnings. You're basically deciding between OLED screens and LED screens. It's been that way for about the last five years, with only incremental improvements. Quantum dot tech was a big-ish boom for LED; high dynamic range has gotten better at making images pop; user interfaces have improved — but that's about it.

There's an awareness that we'll eventually move from 4K to 8K screens, but actual content designed for that is still years away. Heck, most cable boxes still broadcast in 1080i. Micro-LED screens may eventually be the future, but they will likely remain prohibitively expensive for at least the next five years, probably longer. So where's the innovation going to come from in the interim?

Ironically, the budget TV models.

The Chinese company TCL Corporation has become one of the most successful budget TV manufacturers in the last few years. A passing search of websites dedicated to recommending what TV to buy will, reliably, yield the TCL 6-series as your best budget option in the 55-65 inch range. Like other budget companies, TCL is looking to expand into more premium models.

This week, TCL finally debuted their new TV models for 2019 to reviewers and reporters and the big buzz was around mini-LED. Quantum dot technology is a big part of TCL's updates to their 5 and 6 series (fellow budget manufacturer Vizio is headed in the same direction). But with their brand new 8-series coming this fall, there's something else to get excited about: mini-LED.

The shortest way to explain mini-LED is to say that they're exactly what they say on the tin: smaller light-emitting diodes than TVs usually have. But what that has allowed TCL to do is increase the number of local dimming zones dramatically. More zones means darker blacks and less blooming. To give you an idea of the difference, TCL's 6-series has 120 local dimming zones on its 65 inch model, whereas the 8-series has about 1,000.

That radical evolution, combined with the higher peak brightness that quantum dots can offer, marks what may be the most significant improvement to televisions we've seen in many years. Keep in mind that retail models of the 8-series won't be out until fall 2019, leaving information about motion blur and variable refresh rate unknown, but there's a lot to be provisionally excited about here.

One of the most exciting things about TCL's 8-series is its price point: the 65 inch model starts at $2,000 in the United States (with the 75 inch resting version comfortably at $3,000), which is incredibly affordable considering the tech on display, and is more than competitive with LG's popular OLED screens and Samsung's best-selling QLED models.

We may be barrelling towards 8K (TCL, themselves, will be releasing 8K screens in 2020), we may be headed towards micro-LED, we may even see 100-inch screens flush against the walls of the average home 10 years from now. But that's still a long way away. In the meantime, mini-LED feels like it may be the stop-gap innovation that carries us into television's future.

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER MERGER. BUT THIS ONE INVOLVES STAR TREK

Post Enterprise, there was a bit of a split over who controlled what in the Star Trek universe. Some characters and concepts were owned by CBS, some by Viacom. For example, the characters from the original series were largely the property of Viacom who, up until recently, had been releasing those JJ Abrams, Kelvin universe movies. CBS owned most of the other television stuff. It was a fractured universe, at least to a degree, and mostly down the line of television and movies, but this week saw a merger of Viacom and CBS that removes those issues entirely.

The new ViacomCBS can basically do whatever it wants with Star Trek now. This deal is part of why Spock was already able to appear last season on Star Trek: Discovery, and it's the reason why movies going forward can be directly connected to all those Star Trek TV series and cartoons coming out in the next few years. It's good news. Provisionally. There are always lingering questions. For example, is there any chance that maybe Star Trek: Discovery, Picard, and other live-action Trek shows could make their way back to broadcast television? And what does this merger mean for fan projects? It's been a few years since the kerfuffle between CBS, Paramount, and the production of Star Trek: Axanar yielded prohibitive limitations on fan productions. How will this merger change how Star Trek treats its fans? Will it change how Star Trek treats its fans?

There's no way of knowing what will happen. But since this means that Star Trek and Transformers are owned by the same corporation, it's probably horrifyingly safe to say that the Federation will find Cybertron eventually. I think I speak for Scott Bakulas everywhere when I say, "Oh, boy."

Credit: Marvel Comics

THE X-MEN ARE WILD, Y'ALL

Jonathan Hickman's run of his two X-Men comics, House of X and Powers of X, are only two episodes deep each, but, damn, y'all. Damn. Remember Moira MacTaggert and how she was this nice, human lady who had some warm romantic feelings for Charles Xavier and so she helped all of mutant-kind? Well, kiss that backstory goodbye, because now she's a mutant. And not just any mutant, either. Moira MacTaggert is a mutant with the power of reincarnation. She lives, she dies, she's born again, always as her same self, and then she does the timeline over again. Each time she gets more powerful, each time she tries a new way to deal with the fight between mutants and humans.

This week, we see Moira bridge the gap between Charles Xavier and Magneto, only to watch how the layers of her decisions still, ultimately, yield a future where humans and robots/sentinels combine forces to wipe out (most) mutants. And we also see how that will lead to control via the Phalanx, aka the Borg, but for comic books. But all of this is told with the understanding that the history we're seeing now is played out under Moira's 10th life. Another mutant, Destiny, revealed that Moira has a limited number of lives, and that she has 10, or maybe 11 lives before she dies for real. Which means maybe none of what we're seeing will actually come to pass.

Hickman is a master of two things: diagrams and mind @#$%s. Anyway, it's good comic book storytelling. Get on it if you ain't already.

And that's it. Your week in geek is over. Let us know what you think of these stories and what other stories captured your attention this week.

Star Wars Weekly: Major news for Star Wars' future, as new series rise as old faves fall @ Syfy Wire

1p>Time again for STAR WARS WEEKLY, the SYFY WIRE series that rounds up the most important news of the week from a galaxy far, far away. Think of us as your own personal Star Wars Holocron.

KENOBI ON DISNEY+?

There’s a lot of news this week revolving around the idea that we’re getting an Obi-Wan Kenobi series for Disney+. There is a lot of reporting about it, and people are using this as confirmation that the series is definitely happening. It may be happening. But we don’t have any official confirmation just yet.

The first I saw of the story came from Jordan Maison at Cinelinx:

After Cinelinx broke the news that a contract may have been signed for the series, Deadline came on board with internal confirmations of its own.

Then the major trades, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, followed suit.

But the language used in each of them is a little different. Some reports say Ewan McGregor has signed on. The Hollywood Reporter and Variety both wrote that he’s merely “in talks.”

Still, this is great news. It’s definitely a confirmation of movement in the direction of bringing Ewan McGregor back, but it is by no means confirmation that any of this is actually going to happen. Lucasfilm has been very careful about announcing projects only after they’re really going to come out since the disaster of Josh Trank’s rumored Boba Fett movie. 

I’m just saying take all of this news cautiously and don’t get too excited yet. Nothing is confirmed until Lucasfilm confirms it and, even then, it could still fall through.

THE RISE OF SKYWALKER SCORE

Don Williams, brother of John Williams and a musician in his own right, appeared at an event to talk about the score to Jurassic Park and let loose a tidbit about the score for The Rise of Skywalker

ComicBook.com first reported on this, quoting Williams as saying that 34 minutes of music for the film has already been recorded. The most exciting part, though? “I can tell you that every theme that you ever heard is gonna be compiled into this last effort. Everyone: Leia, Yoda, the Phantom, the Darth, all of it. It’s gonna be in there and in his usual style, he hides them. You gotta go look for them. You’ll find them, but you gotta go look for them.”

This makes us all the more eager to get a new Soundtrack Show podcast from David W. Collins breaking down the details of just how John Williams hid everything in the score for the final film in the Skywalker Saga.

RIAN JOHNSON’S TRILOGY

Rian Johnson is out on the press circuit for his new film, Knives Out, which will be appearing at the Toronto International Film Festival. Reporter Brandon Katz talked to him for the Observer, and got Johnson to elaborate on what it was he was looking to do in the trilogy of Star Wars films that it sounds like he’s actively working on.

“We’re doing something that steps beyond the legacy characters. What does that look like? To me, the blue sky element of it is what was most striking about it. I know the way that I’m coming at it and what’s fun about it for everyone in Lucasfilm is figuring out, ‘what’s the next step?’ It really makes you think and figure out what the essence of Star Wars is for me and what that will look like moving forward.”

The internal reception to The Last Jedi and Johnson’s work ethic and powers as a storyteller were enough that Kathleen Kennedy signed him up for a trilogy before The Last Jedi even hit theaters. After seeing the movie, her faith in him feels well placed.

There’s no word on when his trilogy will begin coming out, but it can’t come soon enough. 

RESISTANCE’S SECOND AND FINAL SEASON TRAILER

Star Wars Resistance is heading toward its second season, which begins on Oct. 6. Unfortunately, it will also be the final season of the show that was just finding its legs and bringing us into uncharted territory.

The trailer (and accompanying press release) offer us a glimpse into what to expect this next season. Perhaps most important, we’re getting Matthew Wood on board as the voice of Supreme Leader Kylo Ren, which means the show will take us into the era beyond The Last Jedi. We’re also getting new characters voiced by Daveed Diggs (of Hamilton fame) and Lucy Lawless (of Xena fame.)

We’re also getting this:

ATLAS OBSCURA MOS ESPA

Atlas Obscura set their sites on Mos Espa, which you can still visit if you take a trip to Tunisia. 

Perhaps a trip to Tunisia is in order.

THE GALAXY’S EDGE MARKETPLACE

I took a trip to Galaxy’s Edge and I’ve got some video to share with you. This was my look at the Marketplace there. It’s really a stunning bit of atmosphere and theming, and I can’t wait for everyone to experience it.

Until next week, May the Force Be With You!


Everything We're Excited for at This Year's Disney Mega Convention, the D23 Expo @ io9

In the last few years, one thing has become abundantly clear in the world of entertainment. That world belongs to Disney and we’re just living in it. That becomes even more prevalent next weekend when the D23 Expo returns to Anaheim, California. Could it bring a certain Jedi Master with it?

Read more...

Protestors call for Mulan boycott after star voices support for Hong Kong police @ Syfy Wire

1p>Liu Yifei, the star of Disney's upcoming live-action adaptation of Mulan, is facing online backlash and calls for a boycott of her film after declaring support for Hong Kong police in the midst of ongoing protests there. 

The Chinese-born Liu, who landed the high-profile role of Mulan back in 2017, posted on Weibo (a popular social media platform in China, where Twitter is banned) that she is standing with Hong Kong police amid the weeks-long protests, and apparently anticipated that she'd take heat for her comments.

"I support the Hong Kong police. You can all attack me now. What a shame for Hong Kong," she wrote, according to CNN.

The Hong Kong protests began in June in response to the government's consideration of a new extradition bill that could potentially allow Hong Kong citizens to be extradited to China at the discretion of its leaders. The bill has since been suspended, but the government of Hong Kong has also begun to arrest protestors under older rioting laws. Those arrests, along with the issues of police brutality and what protestors see as an ongoing stripping of Hong Kong's autonomy from the Chinese mainland, have only stoked the fires of the protests, and in recent days demonstrators have gone as far as storming Hong Kong's airport. For more background, you can check out this excellent explainer over at GQ.

While she was met with relative support for her statements on Weibo and other Chinese celebrities, including Jackie Chan, have voiced similar anti-protest opinions, Liu's comments attracted a particularly focused backlash due to her status as the face of an upcoming Disney blockbuster. Since she posted her comments on Thursday, "#BoycottMulan" has been tweeted about more than 46,000 times in Hong Kong, the United States, and beyond, with some pointing to Liu's American citizenship as proof that she doesn't understand what the protestors are fighting for.

Mulan is set to hit theaters March 27, and Disney is no doubt hoping the film will also play well in the major international movie market that is China. It'll be interesting to see if the Walt Disney Company responds at all to this controversy, or if they'll simply wait for the fire to die down. Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, the protests show few signs of quieting.

Summer Camp Island's Take on Time Travel Is Charmingly Clever @ io9

Between blockbusters like Avengers: Endgame and small-screen oddballs like FX’s Legion, it’s been an interesting year for stories featuring time travel, a plot device whose potential for greatness is only overshadowed by its potential to come across as unimaginative. The key to making time travel really sing in a…

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Friday's Best Deals: PlayStation Plus, Razer Laptop, Catan, Nintendo Labo, Shop-Vac, and More @ io9

A patio umbrella, NCAA hoodies, REI Summer clearance, and noise-canceling headphones lead of Friday’s best deals from around the web.

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Seth Rogen teases bigger scope, new characters in The Boys Season 2 @ Syfy Wire

1p>The first season of The Boys on Amazon was certainly a crazy, bloody ride, and it seems like progress on Season 2 is moving even faster than A-Train. Co-creators Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have already seen the premiere of the new season (which will bring in Aya Cash as Stormfront), and they make it clear that we haven't seen anything yet. 

Based on the comic by Garth Ennis, the show depicts a brutal alternate reality where superheroes are real, but they're also celebrities with enormous attitudes. Held under the sway of a giant corporation, they may go in and save the day...if there's someone to film it and post it on social media. If there isn't, why bother? It won't help them sell tickets to their next movie. 

Speaking with Collider, Rogen and Goldberg talked about how filming on the new season is going, with Rogen mentioning how the tone of the unique show (which is almost impossible to describe, other than supe) is able to really solidify for Round 2, because of one factor in particular. Having a full season of the show ready to stream before you go in to shoot the second season is a very good thing indeed.

"With a show like The Boys, especially, where the tone is so unique, for the actors to be able to watch the show and to see like, ‘Oh, that’s what it is.’ It allows them to come back completely locked into it," Rogen says. 

Goldberg adds to this, mentioning that "the actors all know what they're doing." He also mentions that the new season will "definitely be better than the first season...immediately, it just looks a bit better, feels bigger..." 

Rogen also noted the growing scope of the show, saying, "They already have more resources for the second season. They’re adding more characters, the scope of the show organically grows as the show continues. We just watched, actually, the first episode of the second season this week. It was a wonderful thing as producers. This is way better than I ever could’ve hoped it would be.”

The Boys stars Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Antony Starr, Erin Moriarty, Dominique McElligott, Jessie T. Usher, Karen Fukuhara, Chase Crawford, and Elisabeth Shue. Its bashing and bloody first season is available to stream on Amazon Prime right now. 


Chosen One of the Day: Chidi Anagonye, sayer of 'What?!' @ Syfy Wire

1p>We’ve been through a few seasons of The Good Place with our favorite gang of scumbags, but none are more relatable than Chidi Anagonye. Chidi is the one whose stomach never stops hurting. Chidi never stops being vexed. Vexed, Eleanor! But nothing — I mean, nothing — sees into my soul more than the moment William Jackson Harper lets a strangled ‘What?!’ pass through his lips. 

Sure, Eleanor’s got “ya basic” and Jason’s great at, uh, not being great, Janet’s got her ding, and Michael… well, he’s a demon, and who among us can’t see ourselves in that? 

But Chidi… Chidi’s nigh-constant state of anxiety, his perpetual default setting of I-am-uncomfortable-and-I-am-stressed? That’s an entire generation of us being truly represented on screen in that man. 

Chosen for his inability to make a decision and the indirect harm he causes, Chidi ends up in The-Good-Place-but-really-The-Bad-Place. Again, I’m with you. Oh, do I need to make a decision about something? What if I just wait long enough and the choice just sort of happens for me? 

We’ve all been there.

So here’s to Chidi, a one-man band of horrified inquisition. Bless you, sir.

Would You Be Tempted to Get a PlayStation Classic For...$20? @ io9

Update: Sold out

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Box office: It: Chapter Two floating toward impressively scary $110 million debut @ Syfy Wire

1p>When It: Chapter One arose from the sewers of Derry in 2017 to feast on our tasty fear, it broke the box office record for best R-rated horror movie debut with $123 million worldwide.

With It: Chapter Two just weeks away from theatrical release, Variety is estimating that the highly-anticipated sequel (based on the seminal 1986 novel by Stephen King) is currently tracking to bring in between $95 - $110 million, not a record-breaker in its own right, but impressive enough to breathe life back into the box office, which has languished over a tepid financial summer. Those are also staggeringly high numbers for an R-rated film. The New Line film also won't have any other major studio competition during its opening weekend, allowing it to easily chomp on the yellow rain slickered arms of all the money.

Written by Gary Dauberman (Annabelle Comes Home) and directed by Andy Muschietti (Mama), It: Chapter Two takes place 27 years after the first movie and centers on the adult members of the Losers' Club. When Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) awakens and kills a young gay man named Adrian Mellon (Xavier Dolan), Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) summons his friends back to Derry, so that they can fulfill their childhood promise and try and kill It once and for all. James McAvoy (Bill Denbrough), Jessica Chastain (Beverly Marsh), Bill Hader (Richie Tozier), James Ransone (Eddie Kaspbrak), Andy Bean (Stan Uris), and Jay Ryan (Ben Hanscom) co-star as the rest of the adult Losers.

Chapter One also went on to become the highest-grossing horror flick of all time with $700 million in global sales, so the follow-up has some big (clown) shoes to fill. But, if that $110 million opening holds, it'll certainly get off to a great start. 

It: Chapter Two hits theaters everywhere Friday, Sep. 6. If you feel like getting in touch with your inner Pennywise, Alamo Drafthouse will be holding special "Clown Only" screenings.


Why Are They Called the Hugo Awards? @ Barnes & Noble: Sci-Fi & Fantasy

The 77th World Science Fiction convention is occurring right now in Dublin, Ireland. It’s one of the biggest annual gatherings of science fiction fans and professionals from all all over the world. Amongst the convention’s many high points is the annual Hugo Awards ceremony, during which the attending members of the convention hand rocket-shaped trophies recognizing the prior year’s best sci-fi and fantasy literature, art, film, and more. The Hugo is the oldest and, by some measures, most prestigious award in the genre, and more often than not, the book that walks away with Best Novel honors will go on to withstand the test of time. (This year’s slate is certainly a promising one in that regard.)

Hugo Gernsback

If you’re even a casual fan of sci-fi and fantasy, you doubtlessly know what the Hugo Awards are. But why are they called the Hugos?

The awards are named for Hugo Gernsback, often considered the “father of science fiction” because of the role he played in the formation of the genre in its modern form.

Gernsback was born in Luxembourg in 1884. Early in life, he developed an interest in electricity, and, inspired by the successes of inventors like Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison, he immigrated to the United States in 1904 hoping to make his own mark upon the world. He set up an importing business for radio parts, and, according to Mike Ashley’s genre history The Time Machines, was, “astonished at the general ignorance of technology amongst the American public. ‘It rankled me that there could be such ignorance in regard to science and I cowed to change the situation if I could,’” Gernsback said.

A Modern Electrics issue from 1912

Thus, amid a burgeoning career as an inventor himself (he held some eighty patents for radio equipment and other devices), he proceeded to set up a magazine about radios, technology, and science, which he called Modern Electrics.

The magazine was akin to the tech sites of today, providing articles and news about the latest gadgets as well as providing a place for readers to order parts through the mail. In 1911, he started to include something else in Modern Electrics: a 12-part story he wrote called Ralph 124C 41+.

As an institution, science fiction predates Gernsback by at least a century—depending on which academic you ask, anyway—and a number of magazines had included stories that incorporated speculative elements before, but Gernsback took it to another level. After he received positive feedback on his story from readers, he began looking for others interested in contributing stories of their own. He would eventually sell Modern Electrics to a partner, who merged it with another publication to form Modern Electrics & Mechanics; that periodical would eventually be transform it into Electrician and Mechanic magazine, a publication that still exists to this day under a different title: Popular Science.

After the sale, Gernsback went on to found another publication in 1913: The Electrical Experimenter, in which he continued to include short science-themed stories. While he would continue to publish the magazine for a number of years, he eventually stopped publishing short fiction, preferring to save it for another he soon innovated, one dedicated exclusively to short science fiction stories: Amazing Stories. Clad in a bright yellow cover featuring fantastical a red, ringed planet, the first issue hit newsstands in March 1926, featuring a lineup of authors the likes of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Edgar Allan Poe, and others. Science fiction had arrived.

Amazing Stories, Issue 1

In his introductory editorial, he explained that he wanted a selection of stories to not only “make tremendously interesting reading,” but also ones that would be enlightening. “They supply knowledge that we might not otherwise obtain—and they supply it in a very palatable form.” Ashley notes that Gernsback set out with an ambitious goal, but “found it difficult to back this up with quality fiction.” While Gernsback’s contemporaries criticized him for the slapdash quality of the stories that he published, his magazine had a notable effect on the field: young, aspiring writers were drawn to it, and were in turn moved to write their own fantastic stories.

Over the years, Gernsback did other things with the magazine than just publish fiction. He set up letter columns for readers to write in about the stories they liked, and encouraged them to stay in touch with one another. He set up a fan club, the Science Fiction League, which brought together fans in person, long before fan conventions would do the same thing. He eventually lost control of Amazing Stories in 1929, but founded other science fiction publications, including Air Wonder Stories and Science Wonder Stories (which would eventually become simply, Wonder Stories), and, later, Science-Fiction Plus. He was not particularly well-regarded by the writers he published, known for paying extremely low rates and sometimes even then only upon the threat of a lawsuit.

The first World Science Fiction convention (now better known as WorldCon) took place 80 years ago this year in New York, attracting a collection of people who would become well-known in the field: Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, John W. Campbell Jr., and others, and would become a regular gathering of fans in the coming years. Despite his dodgy reputation, Gernsback was made a guest of honor at the 1952 WorldCon, held in Chicago. In the following year, during which the convention took place in Philadelphia (hosting duties fall to fans in different city every year), organizers planned an award ceremony to honor that year’s publications. Because obviously “the Annual Science Fiction Achievement Award” isn’t going to roll off of anyone’s tongue, they were given a nickname: the Hugo Awards, recognizing Gernsback’s contributions to the fields of both publishing and early fandom.

The name stuck. The awards became an annual tradition starting in 1955, and have been awarded annually every year since. The 2019 Hugos will be handed out on Sunday, August 18, and each of the accomplished winners will be taking home with them a little piece of Hugo Gernsback’s legacy.

What’s your favorite Hugo-winning novel?

The post Why <i>Are</i> They Called the Hugo Awards? appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus Is More Than Its Nostalgic Sensory Overload @ io9

Netflix’s Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus is the sort of long-awaited revival of a cult classic that makes you appreciate the unique space the original series carved out for itself on Nickelodeon. But the special also makes you reflect on what audiences in 2019 ultimately get out of a series like Invader Zim beyond a…

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WIRE Buzz: Shazam gets Infected; The Walking Dead trips an FCC fine; more @ Syfy Wire

1p>DC Comics is getting Infected, starting with Shazam. The World's Mightiest Mortal will be the next superhero to fall prey to 'The Batman Who Laughs,' as Shazam will turn into his own worst nightmare in The Infected: King Shazam! The special issue from Sina Grace and Joe Bennett will hit stores on November 6. 

The Infected is part of a larger storyline in which a Bruce Wayne from an alternate reality has become infected with The Joker Toxin, infecting a number of heroes and transforming them into their own worst selves. While Blue Beetle, Hawkman, and Supergirl will also be a part of The Infected storyline, Shazam's alter ego is still a kid, which could mean his own worst impulses are even worse. 

The Infected story will branch out of a Batman/Superman title set to launch August 28. Two more heroes will also feel the impact of the toxin, although their identities won't be revealed until December. Superheroes, am I right?

(via The Hollywood Reporter


Next up, the post-apocalyptic drama The Walking Dead veered too close to a real emergency, according to the Federal Communications Commission. 

The show earned AMC a $104,000 fine from the FCC using the Emergency Alert System tone twice during the episode "Omega," which aired back in February. It's forbidden to use these specific tones outside of an actual emergency or a mandated test run. While the FCC is generally limited when it comes to enforcing content on cable, this is one instance where their oversight is absolute. 

"These rules aim to protect the integrity of the alert system by helping to avoid confusion when the tones are used, alert fatigue among listeners, and false activation of the EAS by the operative data elements contained in the alert tones," read a statement from the FCC. 

The Walking Dead hasn't been singled out, though. ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live, Lone Star Law, and a couple Los Angeles-based radio stations all racked up their own fines for similar infractions. 

(via Deadline)


Finally, the cast of Student Body has been set. 

The coming-of-age horror flick will star a myriad of rising talent, including Twilight's Christian Camargo, Jane the Virgin's Montse Hernandez, Harley Quinn Smith from Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood, and Scary Stories co-star Austin Zajur.

The film, from first-time director Lee Ann Kurr, and follows a high school who tries to mend fences with her one-time best friend, only to be plunged into chaos and disarray when a math teacher oversteps his bounds. As the school administrators look the other way, their friendship has to endure deadly consequences. Honestly, it sounds a little like Snatchers, just without the aliens. Which is certainly not a bad thing. 

Student Body is currently in production, although no release date has been set. 

(via Deadline)


Another Familiar Face Will Return for Agents of SHIELD's Last Season @ io9

Kevin Hart is joining a superheroic comedy. Neill Blomkamp has departed the new RoboCop movie. Pennywise gets snacking in more new It Chapter Two footage. Plus, what’s to come on Fear the Walking Dead and Pennyworth, and we have a mighty need for today’s return of Invader Zim. Spoilers now!

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Across the Universe, a star exploded so violently that it *completely* annihilated itself @ Syfy Wire

1p>A billion light years away, a monster star tore itself to shreds.

And by that I mean it tore itself to shreds. In general exploding stars — supernovae — leave behind a neutron star or black hole, but in this case it’s possible that the explosions was so over-the-top ridiculously violent that even the star’s core was ripped apart. It’s difficult to exaggerate how violent an event this was… but then, when huge amounts of antimatter are involved, that’s what happens.

Yes, seriously.

The event is called SN2016iet, a supernova that was detected on November 14, 2016. It was first spotted in data taken by the space-based Gaia observatory, and was followed-up by the Catalina Real-Time Transient Survey, then Pan-STARRS, and eventually the huge Gemini Telescope to get deep spectra of it. But it didn’t take long to determine that this particular supernova was weird.

And then they found it was really weird.

Most exploding stars get bright over the course of a few days, peak, then decay away over the next few months. SN2016iet didn’t do that: It peaked twice, which right away is bizarre. The second peak occurred about 100 days after the first, and both were phenomenally energetic, blasting out more than ten billion times the Sun’s energy for days at a time. Holy yikes.

But even then it didn’t behave properly. Instead of fading away into obscurity, the supernova continued to shine, fading much more slowly than usual. The astronomers were still able to observe it in spring of this year, more than two years after the initial explosion.

The supernova SN2016iet is at least 55,000 light years from what appears to be its host galaxy. Some very faint object is seen at its potion before the event, perhaps an even fainter satellite galaxy. Credit: CfA

The more they observed it, the stranger it got. One of the strangest bits is its location: The explosion doesn’t seem to have happened inside a galaxy. The nearest obvious galaxy is an unnamed dwarf, only about 1/50th as luminous as our Milky Way (and about a billion light years away from Earth). But the supernova is at least 55,000 light years from the galaxy! That’s well outside the usual distance. Once the supernova faded enough, the astronomers detected the faint glow of hydrogen underneath the supernova’s own emission, meaning it’s either in a very faint satellite galaxy to the dwarf, or in a star cluster. If it’s in a galaxy it’s really dinky, and a cluster that far from the host galaxy is dang odd as well.

So what’s going on? Well, strap in. This is a doozy.

The team ran through a whole bunch of physical models trying to figure out what the heck SN2016iet is. Pretty much every normal supernova model failed in one way or another, and what they were left with is a demon.

When the progenitor star of SN2016iet was born, probably 3–4 million years ago, it was a true monster: It probably had a mass 120–260 times the Sun’s. That’s enormous. I mean, incredibly enormous. We don’t think there are any stars that massive in the Milky Way (though a few come close), and in fact we don’t think any can be.

Stars born in the recent Universe are contaminated with heavy elements like iron and magnesium, created when previous generations of massive stars exploded. Those elements are really good at absorbing the high-energy light inside stars, which heats them up. If a star gets really massive it generates a lot of energy, and if it can’t shed that energy it gets so hot it tears itself apart.

A star with more than about 150 times the Sun’s mass like that wouldn’t be able to exist… unless it doesn’t have those heavy elements in it, in which case they can shed the energy rapidly enough. Stars in the early Universe only had hydrogen and helium in them, so they may have been huge. The only way you can even get a star like that now is if it exists in an environment with very few heavy elements. Interestingly, the nearby galaxy (assumed to be the host to the star) is what we call a “metal-poor” galaxy, lacking those heavy elements, and therefore it’s possible it could make a star like this.

 

So. This extraordinarily massive star was born, and probably tore through its core hydrogen supply, converting it all to helium in just a few million years. Then it started fusing helium into carbon and oxygen, then finally carbon into neon. This is where its huge mass comes into play; I’ve explained this before in detail, but in a nutshell the neon fusion in an über-massive star like this proceeds at furious rates, and creates very high-energy gamma rays.

Usually these gamma rays help support the core against its own fierce gravity, but in this case the energies are so high that the gamma rays can convert into matter. This is called pair production, because each gamma ray makes two subatomic particles, one matter, one antimatter. This actually removes support in the core! It was relying on those gamma rays to keep it inflated, like a balloon full of hot air. Remove them, and the core collapses.

If the core has enough mass, the collapse generates a vast amount of energy as the fusion rate goes through the roof. The energy released is enough to tear the core apart, and that energy then rips through outer layers of the star. KABOOM. This is called a pair instability supernova. If the core still has lots of mass but not quite that much, you get a series of energetic pulses which then die off, until finally the core can’t contain them anymore and it explodes anyway. This is called a pulsational pair instability supernova.

The core masses you need for this are ridiculous… but the observations of SN2016iet indicate that when the core of the star exploded it had 55–120 times the Sun’s mass. Ye-freaking-GADS. That puts it somewhere in the range of these two kinds of explosion mechanisms, and this is the first time a supernova has been seen unambiguously to have exploded this way.

Still, that’s less mass than the star started with in total. It turns out the huge luminosity of the star even before it exploded means it shed vast amounts of mass in a super-solar wind for a long time before the end. And this is where it gets really weird.

That second peak in brightness? That’s probably when the supernova material screaming outwards at several thousand kilometers per second crashed into the material previously shed by the star. That caused a vast increase in brightness, getting up to about half as bright as the initial peak. The amount of that material out there was probably about 35 or so times the mass of the Sun. But the weird part is its location: It was pretty close to the exploded star, indicating it was ejected recently, and didn’t get far. In fact, it looks like it was all shed in the past decade before the explosion.

A decade. To lose 35 times the Sun’s mass worth of matter. To put this in some sort of scale that will still be nearly impossible to grasp, in the ten years before the ultimate explosion this star was blasting out matter equal to about Earth’s mass every thirty seconds. For a decade. Before it exploded.

It was pretty much at this point reading the journal paper that my brain wanted to leap out of my skull and run around in panicked circles screaming. I’ve run out of adjectives to describe an event like this.

Artwork depicting the explosion of a massive star: a supernova. Credit: Gemini Observatory/NSF/AURA/ illustration by Joy Pollard

A final weirdness is how long it’s taking the supernova to fade. Sometimes an extremely energetic neutron star called a magnetar is left by a pair instability explosion, and that pumps energy into the expanding debris, keeping it glowing for a long time. But in this case the amount of material in the core was far too large to make a neutron star. Also, in a normal pair instability event, the material in the outer layers is shed over many thousands of years, not in a single decade.

So in the end, nothing with this supernova fits. No one model seems to explain everything it’s doing, which means it truly is one of a kind. Nothing like it has ever been seen before, and we can’t fully explain its behavior.

I wonder though, just how long this will remain a unique event. We now observe thousands of supernovae every year. Even if this event is extremely rare, we’re likely to find another one eventually. Maybe not exactly like it, but close enough that we can compare them, see how they differ. That will help astronomers understand how these catastrophic events occur in the first place. Although these kinds of supernovae are at the tippy-top of the scale, they provide checks on our understanding of the physics of exploding stars under extraordinarily extreme conditions.

And, as I mentioned before the very first stars in the Universe may have exploded like SN2016iet, so observing it is like a window in to the very distant past, 12 billion or more years ago, when the very first generation of stars existed. For that reason alone, I hope we find lots more just like it.

Add Two More Players to Catan Night For $15 @ io9

Catan 5-6 Player Expansion | $15 | Amazon | Clip the $.83 coupon

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Diorama Theme Park Coming To Tokyo With Sailor Moon And Evangelion Miniatures @ io9

Like dioramas? In 2020, Small Worlds Tokyo will open. It is purported to be the world’s largest indoor diorama theme park.

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It’s probably better that we don’t know if we’re living in a computer simulation @ Syfy Wire

1p>Are you having an existential crisis? Try wondering if your entire existence is even real. If some scientists and even Elon Musk question that, you never know.

The thing is, if we really are no more than simulated beings made to believe that we are flesh and blood instead of pixel and code, the truth could mean we stay blissfully unaware — or that humanity will turn on itself. We’ll still know nothing if we find out nothing — but we could end up destroying our species or even our planet if we do find something out.

Preston Greene, an assistant professor of philosophy at Nanyang University in Singapore, recently shared his thoughts about such a strange, mind-expanding theory in a New York Times op-ed, and he'll soon have a paper published in the journal Erkenntnis.

“What if computers one day were to become so powerful, and these simulations so sophisticated, that each simulated 'person' in the computer code were as complicated an individual as you or me, to such a degree that these people believed they were actually alive?” Greene questioned. “And what if this has already happened?”

We’ve been using computer simulations to prove (or disprove) theories and predict outcomes since the ‘90s. How else could we “look inside” a black hole or find out more about pulsars than a telescope could ever see? Simulations, however, are an assist to the human brain at most. It depends how advanced the latest computer technology is. What was cutting-edge in 1995 is pretty much obsolete now. What is new now … you get the point.

Then there’s that whole “what if this has already happened” scenario that will probably keep you wide awake for a few nights. Greene credits this to philosopher Nick Bostrom, who theorized that we could just be computer simulations created by aliens much more advanced than any civilization we could ever dream of. But why? Turns out Bostrom was thinking that people who are able to develop simulations will want to replicate their ancestors in the digital realm. We might even be those ancestors. As if the thought of being the video game ancestor of creatures from outer space isn’t freaky enough, Elon Musk also seems to believe we’re stuck in a real-life Matrix, if life is even real.

Physics can prove it, if you ask Professor George Smoot, a physicist and Nobel laureate who referred to humans as “philosophical zombies” and “hypothetical beings” in his now-famous (or infamous) TED speech. MRIs can now scan the human brain neuron by neuron, and those neurons could theoretically be replicated. However, that and the other experiments he proposes could be a threat to every human being on the planet. It’s kind of like a medical trial. Everyone is told they are receiving a new medication, and if anyone in the placebo group finds out they’re just swallowing a sugar pill, the whole experiment needs to be aborted.

This is why believers insist we’re all just characters downloaded into some alien hard drive or smartphone. "If you assume any rate of improvement at all, then games will be indistinguishable from reality, or civilization will end. One of those two things will occur," Musk echoed Bostrom and Smoot when he appeared on comedian Joe Rogan’s podcast last year. "Therefore, we are most likely in a simulation, because we exist."

Is finding out worth the risk of annihilating humanity? We may never know, which is how we will keep on existing.

(via The New York Times)

Think of all the What Ifs in our Marvel Phase 4 Rap-Up @ Syfy Wire

1p>So after the Hulk snapped and, uh — insert massive spoilers here — happened, where are we at in the MCU?

You probably don’t want your brain to melt from trying to figure out Loki’s next sinister move, or which What Ifs will come to life onscreen. This is why Bierut Films has translated a substantial part of Marvel Studio's upcoming Phase 4 into a rap-up for SYFY WIRE. Yes, that is the right spelling, because this wrap-up is actually rapped.

Phase 4 is complicated. But we break it all down for you ... literally. From Black Widow (sort of) coming back from the dead in a prequel next May to Doctor Strange possibly crossing over into some pretty dangerous territory, we've got you covered.

About those What Ifs. They really are coming to life for summer 2021, but which ones? What if Spider-Man had not married Mary Jane? What if Daredevil was the disciple of Doctor Strange? What if (gasp) the Avengers had lost the Evolutionary War … or defeated everybody? There are way too many possibilities from the comics to even start thinking about which ones will make it to the big screen. But we try.

By the way, the second Doctor Strange movie will be the first horror film in the MCU. Could he be zooming through the Cancer-Verse with Wanda, fighting Shuma-Gorath, or even Nightmare? Someone needs to beg Marvel to do a Zombie-Verse crossover.

There’s just one huge concern here after Disney’s acquisition of Marvel. Is Deadpool’s mouth going to have to be censored now, especially if people are seeing his face around The Happiest Place on Earth? It’s just impossible to imagine the unfiltered merc going PG-13.

Speculation has been rap-tivated, so watch the video to see what else Phase 4 might throw at us!

This article was contributed to by Elizabeth Rayne.

Cops Intervene After Amazon's 'Mrs. Maisel' Promotion Is So Good, It Stops Traffic @ io9

Amazon’s latest promotion for its Emmy-nominated comedy The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel—dialing back prices around Los Angeles to reflect the show’s 1959 setting—proved so popular that police had to temporarily shut it down Thursday, according to a local ABC affiliate.

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J.J. and Henry Abrams' Spider-Man comic teases Cadaverous, 'one of the most terrifying' villains ever @ Syfy Wire

1p>Back in June we learned that superstar writer, director, and producer J.J. Abrams would be transitioning to the comic book world for the first time with help from his son and co-writer, Henry. J.J. and Henry Abrams have teamed up with artist Sara Pichelli for Spider-Man, a new five-issue miniseries that will feature a fresh take on everyone's favorite webslinger. In true Abrams fashion, we still don't know all that much about the plot of the series, but now a trailer has arrived to give us an exciting first look at the story and its brand-new villain, Cadaverous. 

The new trailer, released by Marvel late Thursday, features interviews with both J.J. and Henry Adams, as well as editor Nick Lowe, who spent years trying to talk J.J. into coming to the Marvel Comics world for a story. According to Henry, the story that became Spider-Man evolved out of exploring the connection between Peter Parker and his heroic persona, and the differences between them.

“Spider-Man in general has been one of the most interesting super hero characters to me — how when he gets stronger, his problems get bigger,” he said. “A large focus on our series was [Spider-Man] as a person and not just him as a mask. So how does he deal with these real issues? It’s been a pleasure exploring that.”

The real star of the trailer, though, is Cadaverous, who finally steps out of the shadow for some real screentime in the clip above. The trailer makes it clear that, when dealing with Cadaverous, Spider-Man is apparently dealing with some sort of techno-organic monster that consists of both the villain himself and a number of disgusting-looking minions. According to Lowe, the gross-out factor is just one small part of what makes Cadaverous a terrifying new addition to Spider-Man lore.

“Cadaverous is one of the most terrifying Spider-Man villains of all time — and that’s saying something,” Lowe said. “Spidey has faced the Green Goblin, Carnage, Venom, and Cadaverous might be even scarier and a little bit grosser than any of them.”

The confrontation with Cadaverous kicks off in Spider-Man #1 on Sept. 18.


We've got a good feeling about this: Ewan McGregor in talks to return as Obi-Wan for Disney+ series @ Syfy Wire

1p>Hello there! Deadline has confirmed that Ewan McGregor will take the high ground and reprise his iconic role of Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi in a currently unnamed live-action Star Wars series for Disney+. However, some outlets, like The Hollywood Reporter, are hedging the odds (never tell us those!) a bit more, stating that McGregor is simply "in talks" rather than fully locked in. Just the same, we've got a very good feeling about this.

If confirmed (SYFY WIRE has reached out to Disney for clarification), the news would be incredibly promising. Not that we know about the show's setting at this point, but fans have been clamoring for a project that centers around Obi-Wan's self-imposed exile on Tatooine after the events of the prequels (Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith). Since McGregor, 48, is still at the right age where he can believably play a middle-aged Ben Kenobi, the timing could be perfect.

Moreover, such casting hints that some of Lucasfilm's plans for spinoff films could be turned into TV series instead. Remember that not too long ago, Kenobi was slated to get his own movie with Stephen Daldry (The Crown) in the director's chair. Maybe this means we'll see those Mos Eisley cantina and Boba Fett concepts after all!

Credit: Lucasfilm

Not many details are known about the project at this time, but it marks the third Star Wars show in development at Disney+ after The Mandalorian and the untitled Cassian Andor project. The Mandalorian will launch with the streaming platform on Tuesday, Nov. 12, while the premiere window for Andor (which brings back Diego Luna, who played the titular role in Rogue One) is a little more uncertain.

McGregor last played the part of Kenobi in the 2005's Episode III and closed out the final prequel film by handing a baby Luke Skywalker off to Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru on their moisture farm. In the original trilogy, Obi-Wan was portrayed by the late, great Alec Guiness, who helps Luke realize his destiny and is killed by his former Padawan, Darth Vader (David Prowse/James Earl Jones), in Episode IV: A New Hope. During the events of Episode V: Empire Strikes Back, he re-appeared as a Force Ghost on Hoth, telling Luke (Mark Hamill) to find Master Yoda (Frank Oz) on Dagobah. He showed up one last time as a smiling Force Ghost in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, standing beside Anakin and Yoda (also grinning spirits) to signify that the Force is finally in balance once more.

So, what could an entire show following Obi-Wan Kenobi look like? Speculating here, but the possibilities would likely have to be limited to the desert landscape of Tatooine. Of course, that doesn’t mean the former Jedi Knight can’t be portrayed as a grizzled and badass cowboy/gunslinger akin to the Man With No Name or Roland Deschain. Who knows, his failure of Anakin — which led to the death of Padme and the fall of the Galactic Republic — might have driven him into an alcoholic spiral of depression and self-pity. Perhaps he gets some redemption by protecting a small village from bandits, Magnificent Seven-style. If that doesn't work for you, the “From the Journals of Old Ben Kenobi” comics from Marvel already serve as the perfect blueprint for what the character was up to before he saved Luke from the Tusken Raiders in the 1977 film.


Report: Ewan McGregor Will Return as Obi-Wan Kenobi in His Own Disney+ Series @ io9

After years of rumors about a potential return—in movie form—it seems like Ewan McGregor will once again don his Jedi robes. But not for the big screen; instead, he’s allegedly coming to Disney’s ever growing streaming service.

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Open Channel: Would You Bone Your Clone? @ io9

It started out innocuous enough. io9 Social Editor Autumn Kelly was thinking about the trailer for the new film Auggie, a Her-like exploration of a man’s relationship with a semi-sentient AI AR personality, and asked the staff if we would bone our clones.

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The Next Generation of Students Star in the New Magicians Comic Series @ io9

The world of Lev Grossman’s fantasy series is expanding once more—but instead of an adaptation, this newest entry will introduce the world of The Magicians to a new group of magical heroes.

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William Gibson, danah boyd and Oakland Privacy will all receive this year's EFF's Pioneer Award @ Boing Boing

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has announced the winners of this year's Pioneer Award (rechristened the "Barlow" in honor of EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow: sf writer William Gibson, anthropologist danah boyd, and activists Oakland Privacy.

The Barlows will be awarded at a ceremony in San Francisco on Sept 12, emceed by Adam "Mythbusters" Savage. Tickets for the Pioneer Awards are $65 for current EFF members, or $75 for non-members.

I'll be there!

danah boyd has consistently been one of the world’s smartest researchers, thinkers, and writers about how technology impacts society, especially for teens and young people. Currently, boyd is focused on detecting and mitigating vulnerabilities in sociotechnical systems. To better understand these vulnerabilities, boyd has been examining the challenges surrounding the 2020 U.S. Census. In 2013, boyd created Data & Society, an independent nonprofit research institute that is committed to identifying thorny problems at the intersection of technology, culture, and community, and advances understanding of the implications of data technologies and automation. danah’s most recent books—“It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens” and “Participatory Culture in a Networked Age”—examine the intersection of everyday life and social media, and have helped families around the world navigate technologies like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. In addition to her work as a partner researcher at Data & Society, boyd is also Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and a Visiting Professor at New York University.

William Gibson coined the term “cyberspace.” Neuromancer, his first novel, won the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and the Philip K. Dick Award in 1984, and is a groundbreaking portrayal of an unforgiving high-tech future with heroes that are thoroughly flawed human beings who nonetheless resist corporate power by seizing the means of computation. His work presents an incisive look at how technology shapes identity, with sharp, prescient depictions of everything from reality TV to wearable computers. Gibson's canon includes such New York Times bestsellers as the Sprawl trilogy, the Bridge trilogy, the Blue Ant trilogy, and The Peripheral. Gibson’s newest novel, Agency, will be published in January of 2020.

Oakland Privacy is the group behind many influential anti-surveillance fights in Oakland, California and beyond. Oakland Privacy was born in 2013 when activists discovered a Homeland Security project called the Domain Awareness Center (DAC). DAC was meant to be an Oakland-wide surveillance gauntlet—with cameras, microphones, license plate readers—and a local data center to put it all together. But after Oakland Privacy led a ten-month campaign of opposition, the DAC was finally cancelled. Later, Oakland Privacy was one of the primary organizations behind the Oakland City Council’s creation of the first municipal privacy commission in the country, and then continued to be instrumental in bolstering opposition to surveillance around the San Francisco Bay Area and across the United States. For example, Oakland Privacy helped develop a comprehensive surveillance transparency regulatory law mandating use policies, civil rights impact reports, and annual audits, and pushed for its passage in multiple jurisdictions. The model is now in use in three Bay Area cities and other jurisdictions like Seattle, Nashville, and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Most recently, Oakland Privacy successfully worked to ban facial recognition in San Francisco and Oakland—two of the three cities in the country to enact such a ban.

Trailblazing Tech Scholar danah boyd, Groundbreaking Cyberpunk Author William Gibson, and Influential Surveillance Fighters Oakland Privacy Win EFF’s Pioneer Awards [EFF]

Battle of the cosmic narrators: God vs. the Guide @ Syfy Wire

1p>Between the charred Bentley headlights of Amazon Prime’s Good Omens in our rearview mirror and the recent announcement that a new The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy adaptation is being developed for Hulu, the spec-fic Britcoms of my youth have been coming home to roost with a vengeance. 

It’s been making me nostalgic (though, let’s be real, it takes precious little to get me nostalgic) and curious as to which one would come out on top in a friendly mental match of “who’s better.” They’re both cult-classic British comic sci-fi novels with deeply devoted fandoms, but how do you compare apples and Babelfish?

I don’t know, maybe those snarky, all-knowing narrators stealing the show left and right? That’s right, if we really do want to get into “but Dr. Doom could totally beat Magneto” territory here (answer: they should fake-marry for tax purposes), we need to throw God and the Guide into the Battledome.

In this corner, we have God — the Almighty, the Alpha, the Omega, and the Very Emotionally Unavailable, as rendered by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Due to God’s unavailability in the novel (a scheduling conflict, I’m given to understand), we’ll only be looking at God as envisioned in the Amazon Prime miniseries.

In the other corner, we’ve got the galactic bestseller The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the Narrator, the Voice, the Book, and, hereafter for clarity, the Guide. “The standard repository for all knowledge and wisdom” across the stars, the Guide has made appearances in every adaptation of Douglas Adams’ novel — the radio series, the television series, the other radio series, and, of course, the film adaptation. 

I have selected five categories on which to rate these cosmic narrators: Authority, Voice, Theme Music, Visualization, and Ineffability. Game, set, match!

Credit: Amazon Studios

Authority

The Guide is widely considered the ultimate in reference material across the galaxy in all its incarnations, trusted even more than the Encyclopedia Galactica. Throughout the entirety of the very poorly named Hitchhikers’ Trilogy, we regularly see characters directly consult the Guide to determine their next move. Given that the galactic publishing audience assuredly outstrips the population of Earth, it also outstrips the population of the faithful on Earth. It’s quite likely more sentient beings in the galaxy trust the Guide more than they trust the good ol’ KJV.

That said, the Guide is only a book, no matter how accurate and useful it is. Good Omens is predicated on the idea that God is not only real but that Her authority is so absolute and unfathomable as to render it completely ineffable. Whether or not the aliens Adam summons up recognize Her authority or not, they are, nonetheless, subject to it.

Point: God

Voice

Throughout its career, the Guide has had three voices. Peter Jones voiced the Guide in the first radio series and television series, with William Franklyn taking over for the second radio series — but I think you’ll find the Guide epitomized in the casting of Stephen Fry in the 2005 film adaptation. 

One of the Guide’s most useful features is the words “DON’T PANIC” printed on the front (which, honestly, I could use 24/7 these days). Perhaps it’s my second-generation Anglophilia acting up with the weather, but Stephen Fry’s voice has basically the same effect. His Guide is as comforting as it is warmly sardonic. 

However, Good Omens cast Frances McDormand as God (and tragically did not put her onscreen as the Almighty to quirk a mighty eyebrow, but that’s neither here nor there). McDormand’s eternally wry and authoritative voice is perfect for both explaining the narrative and ragging on Her agents and adversaries without ever sounding too caustic or invested. 

Honestly, these are two such fantastic pieces of casting that I think this category really is a case of apples and Babelfish. 

Point: Tie

Theme Music

God starts off this category already behind because, tragically, She does not have Her own theme song. It’s her voice and hands that take center stage, as all of the musical licensing fees have, of course, gone to acquiring the rights for Queen songs, leaving Our Lady in the lurch. 

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as a franchise, however, maintains a close relationship with the Eagles’ “Journey of the Sorcerer,” a song so good it makes me want to willfully have an out-of-body experience. It’s serviced as the theme song to the radio series, the television series, and the other radio series, and, in the 2005 film adaptation, a slightly sci-fi rearrangement serves as our introduction to the Guide itself, as the camera pans lovingly over the flex-tablet in space. 

Only the power of Freddie Mercury could have possibly rivaled the Eagles, alas, so the Guide takes the cake. 

Point: The Guide

Credit: Touchstone Pictures

Visualization

One difficulty with adapting comedy across mediums is adapting jokes that work in one to work in the other, especially when the comic voice is so specific. For instance, one of my favorite footnote jokes in Good Omens relies so heavily on the comic timing of the reader glancing down the page that it would never work on television. The adaptations for both Good Omens and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy solve this problem by cutting and pasting in some of the best bits from the original novels as dialogue, with a few visual flourishes to punch things up.

Good Omens takes a bit of an abstract approach; the most extensive visualization of a joke from the novel is when God explains how to lose an Antichrist in Three-Card Monte. Otherwise, we tend to get all the greatest hits (like Crowley’s method of gardening) as voiceover over scenes. 

In all its various incarnations, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy adds a little more flavor to the proceedings by adding in more jokes. In the television series, hand-drawn animation underscored the Guide’s entries, like showing the outcome of war as an arcade game score. The film does much the same, supplementing the Guide with segments animated by Shynola. While explaining the Babelfish, for instance, the Guide intones over an animation of a farmer discovering the cow he’s milking has, uh, misinterpreted their relationship proceeding to boil his hands.

Point: The Guide

Credit: Chris Raphael // Amazon

Ineffability

While the Guide is occasionally abstract, opaque, or just completely inaccurate (“definitively accurate,” to quote the book itself), it is never ineffable. Its function—to be a helpful compendium of knowledge for the budget traveler of the galaxy—is quite clear. Even when it touches on a subject as ineffable as “love,” it can at least offer sound advice: “Avoid at all costs.” 

However, the entire point of Good Omens is that God’s plan is completely ineffable, not only to the average human but also to all celestial and infernal beings. The entire turning point of the climax hinges on the argument that the plan currently in motion is certainly a very important plan, but is it … the Ineffable Plan?

There’s simply no contest here; God sweeps the category.

Point: God

Verdict

So that’s two points to God, two points to the Guide, and a tie for the outstanding category, leaving us in a dead heat. Both of these are cult classics for a reference, and all adaptations manage to thread the needle superbly.

Looks like we’ll just have to wait to see how the Hulu adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy turns out to tip the scales in one direction or the other. Or, perhaps, we’re not meant to … for reasons ineffable.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBC Universal.

Neil Gaiman's Take on Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast Fantasy Trilogy Finds a Home at Showtime @ io9

Game of Thrones is over, and every network and streaming service is currently trying to replicate the success of HBO’s hit by finding their own epic fantasy breakout. Showtime, which already has Kingkiller Chronicle in development, is doubling down with another genre title: Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy.

Read more...

Road of Bones creator Rich Douek on the human horror that inspired his dark tale @ Syfy Wire

1p>Road of Bones is a story that's primed for a film adaptation but has thus far been executed pitch-perfectly as a horror comic book. Its premise: In the tundra of the Siberian Gulag in 1953, Roman Morozov seeks to escape his sentence to hell. Joined by two other escapees, he embarks on hundreds of miles of a savage, frozen wasteland with limited resources and a spirit watching over them. IDW Publishing has sold out of multiple printings of each issue, and the story is gaining steam.

SYFY WIRE had the chance to enjoy a conversation with writer/co-creator Rich Douek about his frigid thriller.

Any time you have a story set in the snowy winter, it's a great setting for a horror story. This story was inspired by Russian folklore, right?

Douek: In part, yeah. The Road of Bones is a real place. There was this horrific Gulag system under [Joseph] Stalin, where they had these work camps in Siberia. There were all of these huge mining operations, and weren't many roads to get there. So, one of the main projects of the Gulag was to build a road to move materials back and forth, and it was done by slave labor, basically, with political prisoners.

The reason it's called the "Road of Bones" is that it's literally like the first two pages of the book, where if a prisoner dies, instead of digging a grave for them, they literally roll them into the foundation of the road, which is something they actually did. They were digging in permafrost, and the ground was frozen solid. Digging a grave would take up too much time. It was one of the most horrific real-life situations. You could change nothing about what actually happened and it would still be a horror story. So I wondered if there was another level I could push the story to off of that, to make it even more horrifying to explain the human condition under extreme conditions.

So the folklore part of the story comes with the creature that Roman is leaving food for, right?

Douek: Yes. As there are in many folklores, there's this notion of, like, a house or guardian spirit. In Russian it's called a "domovik," and in Celtic mythology it's called "Brownies" or "Pucks." We all know the fairy tale of the shoemaker elves, spirits that live in your home, and if you are nice to them, like leaving them some food, they make sure nothing bad happens to you. Some find religion, or a silly bit of superstition, but I thought, maybe if you lived in this situation, you're imprisoned, hopeless, and you have nothing to cling to, maybe this absurd little hope would be the one thing you clutch onto.

Road of Bones #4 Page 5 Art by Alex Cormack and letters by Justin Birch

There's such an air of despair in the pages of this story; the tone is heavy, and a lot of that comes through the art by Alex Cormack. What did you develop with him on the look of Road of Bones?

Douek: It's something that Alex brought a lot to the table. We did talk a lot about what we wanted to accomplish with the art. One thing is that all the characters are ugly in their own way. It goes against the look of superhero books, where we see people who are paragons of beauty and perfect physicality. So these guys stand out to show that they're in a rough situation that is wearing them down. You also see the progression as they go on their journey. By Issue #3, they're a lot more gone than Issue #1, because of the lack of food.

The other thing is that when you have a lot of the people wearing the same uniform(s) or who are issued the same clothes, whether it be soldiers or prisoners, you want everything to be distinct, but you also want to honor the reality. So we had to talk about ways to differentiate with the colors of their clothing, like where Roman's jacket is orange and Grigori is blue. Another theme [we had to visualize] was the dehumanization that survival pushes you to. Where is the line you draw between being a human and a thing?

What about the great contrast you see between the stark, blank palette of snow everywhere the eye can see during the day, while night scenes look deliberately designed to be hard to see what's going on?

Douek: As far as the night and day sequences go, one of the great things that Alex does is that, for night, he almost starts with black and comes up from it. So he has just these edgy outlines. It feels like it's taking place at night. It's not like, if he were to color it differently, it would end up as daytime.

Road of Bones #4 Page  6 - Art by Alex Cormack and letters by Justin Birch

Did you think about the length of the series?

Douek: It's not that I couldn't do five or six issues, but so much of the story is them meandering bleak landscapes and scaling mountains and the vast wasteland. So I felt like another issue of just that felt like it was dragging out. I felt like I could push it as much as I wanted to without it getting overly repetitive.

Even though this story is coming out of the '40s and is ultimately set in the '50s, was there something that you felt was current about it?

Douek: It's not so much that there's something in the present-day news that I want to tackle through Road of Bones. There seems to be a wellspring of never-ending human cruelty. It's like a conscious thing to read about the Gulag and think about how we're incarcerating people at our border. This didn't come to light when I was writing it, although it wound up coming to light at the same time. It seems like, if we can look at these dark chapters of our history, even through the lends of a fictional story, that maybe we can look at our behavior in the present day to not let that happen again.

Road of Bones #4 Page 7 Art by Alex Cormack and letters by Justin Birch

Let's dance around the pivotal third issue of the story, because it's a wonderfully crafted story. As you're writing out the scripts, and you know that's coming, you also know you have to top this in Issue #4.

Douek: Specific to comic book storytelling, the last page of every issue is really important, because it tees up the next issue, especially in a series that is tightly structured like in Road of Bones. So I tried to have a revelation on the last page to make you want to see what happens in the next issue. I told Alex that the last page of #1 was the best of the series until I saw the last page of #2, only to be topped by the last in #3. He gets that idea of setting up the question that is going to be answered in the last issue.

You're walking this line where you have three guys walking into the woods without any food, you know what's going to happen [laughs], or you have a good idea of what's going to happen. It's inevitable that things go the way they do, but, at the same time, you want to approach it so that it's surprising and engaging. I knew from the second I wrote down the story in its simplest form where things were going, but how were we going to get there, how were we going to get in their heads of these characters and come along with them for the ride? How are we going to get you to feel the horror?

Wailing Blade #1. Art by Joe Mulvey.

You have another creator-owned title that is currently out called Wailing Blade, how that's been going?

Douek: It's another four-issue mini-series. The Wailing Blade is this over-the-top science fiction set thousands of years in the future, with giant swords and executioners tearing heads off [laughs]. On the surface, Wailing Blade and Road of Bones are really different, but when you dig a little deeper, they have some similarities that I didn't catch: They both deal with people living under tyranny and responding to it. It's funny to realize there are these things that work their way into your writing when you're doing it. Those things are on your mind, because you want to talk about it, but it works its way into your work even though you're not consciously setting out to do it.

It originally started as a Kickstarter and was successful. It made three times what we were asking for, and it made enough to fund the entire printing of the series. I think we're going to do another Kickstarter in the fall for a hardcover or softcover collected edition packed with goodies in the back.

What I learned on this campaign is that we did a lot more preparation and things tailored to the Kickstarter audience, where there's some overlap of folks going to comic shops and those that just buy comics on Kickstarter and that's their main comics outlet. We had Tyler James of ComixTribe helping to run our campaign, who has a podcast called ComixLaunch, which is this great resource for anyone looking to launch a Kickstarter comic. I encourage anyone who is thinking of going that route to research when to reach out to people, how and if to budget for Facebook ads or Twitter ads. Those aren't the sexy parts of making comics, but if you want to meet your goal and not waste your time, it helps to make it as successful as possible.

Be sure to check out our six-page preview of Road of Bones below and head to the comic shops now for the full story!

Rian Johnson teases that his Star Wars trilogy will move 'beyond legacy characters' @ Syfy Wire

1p>With the Skywalker Saga about to close out for good in December, it's time to start thinking about the future of Star Wars. Where will the iconic franchise go once the galaxy far, far away's most famous family is done with their tale of good versus evil? Well, you don't need to worry your pretty little head about it, because Rian Johnson is on the case! Speaking with The Observer, The Last Jedi writer/director teased his in-development trilogy for Lucasfilm, talking about how he's excited about the prospect of moving into uncharted territory.

“I think that the fun and challenging part of it is to dive in, figure out what’s exciting, and then figure out what it’s going to be,” he said. “We’re doing something that steps beyond the legacy characters. What does that look like? To me, the blue-sky element of it is what was most striking about it. I know the way that I’m coming at it, and what’s fun about it for everyone in George Lucas’ films is figuring out, ‘What’s the next step?’ It really makes you think and figure out what the essence of Star Wars is for me and what that will look like moving forward.”

Is he perhaps referring to Temiri Blagg, the little Force-sensitive boy (played by Temirlan Blaev) who showed up at the very end of TLJ? Could this unknown quantity end up serving as the basis for a brand-new series of films in this ever-expanding universe? Nothing is certain, but if Johnson proved anything with Episode VIII, it's that he wants to majorly subvert our expectations of the 42-year-old franchise.

Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney

 

Of course, Game of Thrones' D.B. Weiss and David Benioff are also working on their own contribution to the Star Wars mythos, but with their major Netflix deal having gone through just a few days ago, it sounds like they may end up scaling back on that front. Based on a recent report, they'll be writing three treatments for another trilogy, and are contractually obligated to write a full screenplay for at least one of them.

Hopefully, we get a few more nuggets of information at D23 Expo in Anaheim next weekend. Who knows, we may even get a new trailer for The Rise of Skywalker, which opens in theaters everywhere Dec. 20. The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams is back to helm that one, from a script he co-wrote with Chris Terrio.


Zombie Tidal Wave's stars on double-edged taser swords, zombie killing, and Easter eggs @ Syfy Wire

1p>If you thought the end-all-be-all of weird weather phenomena came and went with Sharknado, think again. On August 17, another disaster will emerge from the depths in the form of SYFY's Zombie Tidal Wave. Prepare for brains, seawater, and a whole lotta screaming.

When SYFY WIRE spoke with the cast and creators of Zombie Tidal Wave at the film's Los Angeles premiere, they revealed to us what we can expect from the fantastically weird new creation.

"It came about over a beer, and thinking that I wanted to be a project manager for myself after I did The [Celebrity] Apprentice, and looking for successful duplicatable models, decided to produce this movie when Sharknado was over," Zombie Tidal Wave star Ian Ziering told SYFY WIRE. "It took a couple of years to come to fruition, but once I knew that that was a wrap, I set out on a path to make this movie as great if not better than the Sharknado movies. At least follow suit on the path that Sharknado has cleared and give the fans that have been so voracious for this kind of entertainment something that they continue to sink their teeth into."

Directed by Sharknado auteur Anthony C. Ferrante, Zombie Tidal Wave stars Ziering as Hunter Shaw, a veteran sailor who leaves a disparate group of locals to beat an undead pandemic. Ziering is joined by his Beverly Hills 90210 co-star Tori Spelling on this wild ride, and when we got the chance to speak with them, we unpacked the film's wild weaponry, practical effects, and much more.

 

First and foremost, though? The weapon you catch a glimpse of at the end of the trailer.

"Oh yes, the double-bladed samurai taser sword," Ziering says, laughing. "Zombies, you can't kill them! We're killing un-killable zombies, but everything has an Achilles heel. I don't want to give it up, but that taser sword is the signature weapon for Hunter Shaw... I made them build me a real one. It's so badass! It's crazy!

Ferrante adds: "We had to be careful on set. We had a dummy one, but we wanted to have that thing. There is a taser attached to this double-bladed sword. It's a great signature weapon."

Double-bladed Samurai taser swords and all, something like Zombie Tidal Wave can rarely go too far into the realm of the ridiculous.

Ziering's BH90210 co-star Spelling praises him for how hard he worked on the film. "As his friend, I've seen him go on this journey, producing and starring in [the film], but that's just the icing on the cake. I've seen him put this together. He's worked so hard and I'm so proud of him," Spelling says. "So I just want to see him kick some zombie butt."

Ferrante says he was involved in the initial brainstorm, but then came on later to co-write with Ziering.

"We spent six years doing sharks, so to get a chance to play in the zombie sandbox... as a director, you always want to do something different," Ferrante says. "With Sharknado … they're each their own kind of movie. They have their own flavor. One was sci-fi, one was time travel, one was space, so we were able to do different genres with that, but here…I love zombie movies. We've seen what zombie movies can do and we had a really planned-out thing. I was like, 'I've seen every single zombie movie. How can we deflect the expectation?'"

He also says fans will have lots of homages and Easter eggs to look for in the film.

"We have our fun, but it's very much an '80s Lucio Fulci sensibility," Ferrante says. "In that sense, we wanted to do a lot of it practical [effects]. About 90 to 95 percent of it is practical... we have this great exploding head, one of the best exploding heads I've seen."

He continues: "Like Sharknado, there are a lot of in-jokes. Pay attention to signage. There are a lot of really obscure things. I'll say that there is one reference that is so obscure that, if anybody catches it... It's about a previous aquatic-based water movie. If you see the signage, you'll know what it is, but very few people are going to catch that one."

Zombie Tidal Wave premieres August 17 on SYFY. Are you guys excited for the film? Let us know in the comments.


WIRE Buzz: Toy Story 4 makes $1 billion; Kevin Hart superhero comedy; The Nevers adds 6 to its cast @ Syfy Wire

1p>In this latest edition of SYFY’s WIRE Buzz, Disney adds another entrant into the billion-dollar club, Kevin Hart is leading a superhero comedy film, and Joss Whedon’s upcoming HBO series adds half a dozen actors to its (already quite large) cast. 

First up, Toy Story 4 has just become the latest Disney film to hit that $1 billion mark. (We told you this day would come, did we not?) The Pixar sequel raked in $1.001 billion in global ticket sales on Thursday, making it the fifth Disney movie this year to cross that billion-dollar threshold (six if you count Spider-Man: Far From Home, although it looks as though Variety and Box Office Mojo are considering that one a win for Sony).

In addition to Toy Story 4 (and Spider-Man, if that one counts), the following Disney films have made more than $1 billion at the box office in 2019: Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel, Aladdin, and The Lion King.  

So, we guess it’s just a matter of months before the upcoming Disney films Maleficent 2 and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker also possibly join this ever-growing billion-dollar club. 


Speaking of superhero films (sort of), Kevin Hart (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) is attached to star in and produce the superhero comedy Night Wolf, STXfilms announced. 

In Night Wolf, a pitch that STXfilms acquired from Detective Pikachu screenwriters Dan Hernandez and Benji Samit, Hart plays a man meeting his future father-in-law for the first time, only to discover he is secretly the superhero known as the Night Wolf. 

"I am excited to be working with our friends at STX again," said Hart in a statement. “They brought us a great project with Night Wolf. I instantly fell in love with this pitch about an everyday guy who is meeting his in-laws for the first time and unwittingly discovers his dad to be is secretly a superhero.”

Night Wolf marks the third project Hart is developing with the studio. STX previously announced Black Friday and an untitled romantic comedy. 


And last but certainly not least, the cast for The Nevers continues to grow. HBO has revealed that six more have been added to the cast of Joss Whedon's upcoming sci-fi/fantasy series for the premium cable channel. 

Kiran Sonia Sawar, Elizabeth Berrington, Ella Smith, Viola Prettejohn, and Anna Devlin will be series regulars, while Martyn Ford will recur.

Sawar will play Harriet Kaur, a young Scottish Sikh who lives with the Orphans, but is accepted by both her family and her betrothed.

Berrington plays the dirt poor, adaptive, and streetwise Lucy Best.

Smith is Desirée Blodgett, an popular prostitute with the power to make men tell her everything on their minds. 

Prettejohn plays Myrtle Haplisch, a middle-class girl rescued from a family who cannot understand her – literally, as she can no longer speak English, or anything resembling speech. 

Devlin will play 16-year-old, 10-foot-tall Primrose Chattoway, who just wants to be a proper, ordinary girl, and not take up too much space (which, if you haven’t guessed, is easier said than done when you’re a freakin' giant).

Finally, Ford is Nicolas Perbal, aka Odium, the quintessential henchman. 

This news comes off the heels of the network announcing the addition of a dozen actors to the cast. Outlander's Laura Donnelly is set to star.

The Nevers is an epic drama about a gang of Victorian women, known as “The Touched,” who discover they have unusual abilities, relentless enemies, and a mission to save the world.


Why the Russos would save Wolverine (but no other X-Men) from Thanos in Infinity War @ Syfy Wire

1p>The X-Men weren’t quite ready to team up with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes when the Russo brothers were making both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. But with the Disney-Fox merger now final, and along with it, the much-buzzed prospect of reuniting the X-Men with the rest of their Marvel pals, even the Russos have opinions on how team Xavier already could have been playing in the MCU.

Asked recently by IGN which of the X-Men they’d have allowed Thanos to dust, Joe Russo gave a funny, yet well thought-out answer: He’d let Thanos snap everyone but Wolverine. Why? Well, because if we think we’ve seen Wolverine angry before, it probably wouldn’t compare to how nuclear he’d go on the Mad Titan if he had to watch every mutant he ever cared about vanish before his eyes.

“I’d love to see a fiercely motivated Wolverine going up against Thanos,” confessed Russo, while acknowledging that that kind of sweeping move might outrage X-Men fans. But, he later added, “It’s not our job to give the people what they want, it’s to give them what they need.”

Russo went on to explain that, when half of all life is hanging in the balance, there’s plenty of leeway within smaller groups to dust as many (or as few) people as the story requires — just as we saw at the beginning of Endgame, where only Clint Barton remains to enjoy what’s left of his family’s post-dusting picnic. 

“It’s not like you take a group, and then, like, randomly half of that group loses half of its members,” said Russo. “Hawkeye’s entire family disappears. So in any given group, you could lose almost everyone in that group — and that’s what happens.”

Any Infinity War fan who still tears up whenever the see Peter Parker turning to dust in Tony Stark’s arms couldn’t argue with Russo’s logic. More than previous MCU films, both Infinity War and Endgame raised the stakes for what Marvel Studios is willing to do to make their heroes’ sacrifices count. 

The Russos even had some fun takes on whether iconic characters who aren’t part of the MCU would (or, in many cases, wouldn’t) survive The Snap — including Anthony Russo’s decision to completely wipe out every single one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (hey, it was a bad day for mutants all around.)

To see more fun conjecture from the Russos over which characters whom they (er, we mean Thanos) would preserve, from the Scooby Doo team to the cast of Friends, check out IGN’s complete video interview here.

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