Upcoming: RAISING DION (Netflix)

The trailer for Raising Dion dropped today. It’s a new super-hero show executive-produced by the ever-excellent Michael B. Jordan (The Wire, Black Panther, Friday Night Lights, Creed, etc.). It looks really cool:

Here’s the official synopsis:

A young boy struggling to control his newfound powers. A single mom fighting the odds to keep her son safe. Secrets, conspiracies, mysteries, all dangerously swarming around one family…

Starring Ja’Siah Young and Alisha Wainwright, Raising Dion launches October 4th, only on Netflix.

Upcoming: DEADPOOL 2

This is easily one of my most-anticipated movies of 2018. I loved the first Deadpool movie, and I have been eagerly awaiting the release of this sequel. After hearing about the tension between Reynolds and Tim Miller (director of the first movie), I became a little concerned that the sequel might not live up to the quality and fun of the first. This trailer, however, promises more of the same — only, maybe bigger, ballsier, and edgier.

“From the studio that brought you 27 Dresses and The Devil Wears Prada“…

Here’s the official synopsis:

After surviving a near fatal bovine attack, a disfigured cafeteria chef (Wade Wilson) struggles to fulfill his dream of becoming Mayberry’s hottest bartender while also learning to cope with his lost sense of taste. Searching to regain his spice for life, as well as a flux capacitor, Wade must battle ninjas, the yakuza, and a pack of sexually aggressive canines, as he journeys around the world to discover the importance of family, friendship, and flavor – finding a new taste for adventure and earning the coveted coffee mug title of World’s Best Lover.

Deadpool 2 opens on May 18th, 2018. The movie is directed by David Leitch, and written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wenick — both of whom wrote the first movie as well. It stars Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool), Josh Brolin (Cable), Morena Baccarin (Vanessa), T.J. Miller (Weasel), and more.

Quick Review: MOTHER PANIC, Vol.1 (Young Animal/DC)

Writer: Jody Houser | Artists: Tommy Lee Edwards & Shawn Crystal | Colors: Tommy Lee Edwards, Jean-Francois Beaulieu | Covers: Tommy Lee Edwards

The shadow of the Bat falls over all of Gotham City, from its dark alleys to its glittering high-rises. But a new vigilante has just stepped away from that shadow, and she has her own brand of violent retribution to deal out to the city’s corrupt elites.

Meet Violet Paige, a rich young celebutante with a bad attitude and a worse reputation. No one would ever suspect that this tabloid-fodder wild child has a secret hidden beneath her spoiled heiress exterior — a secret that has driven her to become the terrifying force of vengeance against her privileged peers known as Mother Panic!

But even as Violet launches her all-out assault on the rich and twisted, her shaky allies threaten to betray her, and every one of Gotham’s guardians — from Batwoman to the Dark Knight himself — is hot on her trail. Will Mother Panic continue to strike terror into her enemies’ hearts? Or will her violent quest for justice reach an equally violent end?

Collects: Mother Panic #1-6

This is the first title that I’ve read from DC’s new Gerard Way-controlled Young Animal imprint, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had been under the false impression that this was aimed at younger readers. After just a few pages, I realized this was very much not the case. Aside from the occasional swearing, this is a pretty brutal series. It also a very intriguing first arc. Continue reading

Quick Shot Reviews: Catching up on Graphic Novels

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Despite the near-total-silence on the graphic novel/comics side of things, I have continued to read a whole bunch of new and old collections. Generally speaking, though, I haven’t been overly impressed. Here are mini-reviews for ten stand-out collections I’ve read recently. [I’ll hopefully do a few more posts like this in the not-too-distant future, as I try to catch up with recent titles.]

Featuring: All-New X-Men, American Vampire, Black Magick, Daredevil, Extraordinary X-Men, Huck, Justice League, Lazarus, Lucifer, Sheriff of Babylon Continue reading

Trailer: Ant-Man

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWdKf3MneyI]

This looks… Fun. I’m still surprised that Marvel picked this one to make before a whole host of other, more “commercial” or “mainstream” heroes, but it does look like it’ll be fun and on the lighter side of Marvel Studio’s output. Which is no bad thing — some humour in amongst the bleak and gritty is a necessity.

UK Competition: STEELHEART and FIREFIGHT by Brandon Sanderson!

Sanderson-Reckoners1&2UK

Those lovely folks at Gollancz have provided a copy of Brandon Sanderson‘s Steelheart and Firefight for me to give away to one lucky reader in the UK. (Sorry to those of you not from the UK… I’ll try to organise an international giveaway ASAP.) Not sure what the series is about? Well, here’s the synopsis for Steelheart:

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.

Nobody fights the Epics… nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart – the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning – and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

I enjoyed Steelheart, and also the short story set between the two novels, Mitosis. I’m really looking forward to reading Firefight.

All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning this action-packed bundle is… leave a comment or email me, and I’ll pick the winner at random on Sunday night. The winner will be notified on Monday morning.

Upcoming: FIREFIGHT by Brandon Sanderson (Gollancz)

Sanderson-R2-FirefightUKI rather enjoyed Brandon Sanderson’s Steelheartthe first in the Reckoners series and also the first of the author’s novels that I’ve read. I stumbled across the UK cover for Firefight, the sequel, while researching something else. It’s a rather excellent cover, I think, and will sit very nicely alongside Steelheart and the novella Mitosis. Here’s the synopsis:

They told David it was impossible – that even the Reckoners had never killed a High Epic. Yet, Steelheart – invincible, immortal, unconquerable – is dead. And he died by David’s hand.

Eliminating Steelheart was supposed to make life more simple. Instead, it only made David realise he has questions. Big ones. And there’s no one in Newcago who can give him the answers he needs.

Babylon Restored, the old borough of Manhattan, has possibilities, though. Ruled by the mysterious High Epic, Regalia, David is sure Babylon Restored will lead him to what he needs to find. And while entering another city oppressed by a High Epic despot is a gamble, David’s willing to risk it. Because killing Steelheart left a hole in David’s heart. A hole where his thirst for vengeance once lived. Somehow, he filled that hole with another Epic – Firefight. And he’s willing to go on a quest darker, and more dangerous even, than the fight against Steelheart to find her, and to get his answers.

Firefight is due to be published in the UK by Gollancz in January 2015. Here are the other two covers:

Sanderson-R-Steelheart&MitosisUK

Guest Post: “Writing in the devastating wake of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” by Jonathan Wood

JonathanWood2To the best of my recollection, the first thing I ever had published was a review of the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. I was ten. I belonged to a local Youth Club that put out a small paper ’zine every month or so. You could write in and volunteer to review movies. I was devotee of the TNMT cartoon, and had been awaiting the release of the movie with growing anticipation for months. I wrote in, and to my shock and delight was selected. I even got free movie tickets. Few ten year olds have known the height s of ecstasy I reached.

This is typically the point in the story where my dreams are all crushed, and I leave the theater shaking my fist at an unrepentant Hollywood heaven. But in fact, the movie fulfilled my every pre-teen wish. I laughed, I gasped, I demanded pizza afterward. As for the review itself… it was a breathless plot summary that descended into excruciating detail. My father cut me off when I was about halfway through – a mercy killing if ever there was one. As I recall, the final immortal line was, “And the rest was great too.”

These days, I’m in my mid-thirties. But sitting beside me on my desk while I write this is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mug. Raphael, Donatello, Leonardo, and Michelangelo all stare on.

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Again, this should be the point where I launch into a tale of dark obsession involving terrapin pit fighting, and a restraining order. But honestly, the Turtles have actually never been my #1 nerd. They’ve just always been there – clinging tenaciously to their spot in my heart for over 25 years. Like that album that never quite leaves the lower reaches of the Billboard charts, just sitting there year after year, desperately clinging to relevance.

Recently I finally started to wonder why the Turtles have had such lasting appeal for me.

EddingsD-B1-PawnOfProphecyFor a long time, I couldn’t work it out. But then I had another encounter with another old childhood passion: eighties epic fantasy. I’d been going through something of a reading crisis. I just could not find a book I wanted to stick with. And then, one way or another I stumbled over David Eddings’ Belgeriad series. It was the sort of thing I’d have chewed through in a week or two as a kid, but I’d missed it back then. These days, while I still enjoy the occasional epic tome, I don’t read it with the same alacrity I did in my youth. But I devoured this series. All five books in two months, which is a decent pace for me. And I loved it to bits.

And examining that reaction, and staring at my TMNT mug, I realized there was a connection. Both were stories that, at their core, were about a team of friends.

TMNT has lasted for me, not because of the stories, and not even because of the individual characters (Michelangelo is the best, all you Raphael-lovers can suck it), but because of the interplay between those characters. The adventures are fun yes, but seeing the way these characters deal with it, and the way they trip over each other, and then help each other up as they go through everything – that’s what I love. That’s why through all of their various iterations, no one has messed with the basic archetypes of the characters. Raphael is always aggressive, Michelangelo always a goofball. Because seeing the way the four main characters play off each other is what has people like me continuously coming back to the franchise.

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A lot of fiction, these days, seems to focus on the lone hero. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’ve read and loved many books with that focus. But the stories of my childhood, the ones that are all wrapped up with nostalgia and love, they were stories about groups of friends united by a single purpose. The focus was on the group dynamic as much as on any individual character’s growth. I miss that.

And then I realized, that without consciously doing it, that was what I’d written about in my own books. There may be a distinct lack of heroes in a half-shell, but they’re definitely stories about a group of friends, all driving each other crazy, all working towards the same goal.

And, having realized that, it’s actually kind to think that ten-year old me, could actually be proud of the guy I’ve grown up to be.

*  *  *

Jonathan Wood is the author of No Hero and Yesterday’s Hero – both published by Titan Books. Be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

WoodJ-3-AntiHeroThe third novel in the series, Anti-Hero, is due to be published in March 2015, also by Titan Books. Here’s the synopsis:

What do you do when your best friend becomes a supervillain? Agent Arthur Wallace is used to dealing with danger that is extraterrestrial, supernatural, or generally odd. But when a drone-strike interrupts his best friend’s funeral, it becomes clear that his next assignment is going to be stranger than usual. When it turns out that the drone was hijacked by a rogue, digital version of that friend… well then nothing is clear to Arthur any more.

Now the man Arthur counted on most is set on destroying humanity in a grand scheme to save the natural world. And the CIA is set on destroying that man. And Arthur can’t work out who the hero is any more. But he has to work out the all the answers fast, because now he’s staring into the bloody maw of the zombpocalypse itself.

Quick Review: Batgirl, Vol.4 – “Wanted” (DC Comics)

Batgirl-Vol.4Series continues strongly into its fourth collection

Writer: Gail Simone, Marguerite Bennett (#25) | Artist: Fernando Pararin, Jonathan Glapion, Daniel Sampere (#20), Carlos Rodriguez (#20), Vicente Cifuentes (#20)

Batgirl struggles to continue fighting crime after being emotionally drained by the death of her brother, James, Jr. With her relationships with Batman and her father strained, Batgirl face one of Batman’s most ruthless villains, The Ventriloquist, alone.

Collects: Batgirl #19-26, Ventriliquist #1

Gail Simone’s run on Batgirl has been critically acclaimed from seemingly all quarters. As, actually, has most of her work. This was the first series written by her that I’ve tried, and it has been a favourite of the New 52 titles ever since. That being said, though, I’m not really sure how to write about it. So, I’ll keep this brief and to the point… It’s really good. Ok, that was a bit too brief…

Simone’s writing is excellent throughout. Not only has she crafted an engaging, unrushed overall narrative, but she’s also done a brilliant job of digging deep into what Barbara/Batgirl is going through. And, indeed, Simone really puts our heroine through a beating, physical and emotional. For example, there is the fallout (psychological and otherwise) resulting from the death of her brother; the tension between her and her father; the death of someone else close. And, of course, the baddies: in this book, the Ventriloquist is at the centre of Batgirl’s world, and she is damned creepy. Her origin story backs it up, too. Possibly one of the creepiest, non-cartoony DC villains I’ve read in a while. And a previous group of villains resurfaces, bringing with them an interesting example of franchising or outsourcing crime. I know that’s all a little bit vague, but Batgirl is subjected to a lot of trauma in this collection, and all of it is pretty momentous. It’ll be really interesting to see how Barbara’s story continues.

As for the artwork? It’s brilliant. Pasarin and Glapion do a wonderful job of realising Simone’s story, and also Bennett’s in the Gothtopia issue. The panels, full-pages are all clear, vibrantly coloured and yet still appropriately moody and atmospheric.

If you haven’t read this series, yet, I would strongly recommend it. Personally, I think it’s much better than Simone’s work on Red Sonja (but that may be a result of my general disappointment with that series as a whole).

Batgirl-Vol.4-Content