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Jul 272014
 
Photo by Zoe Simsay

Photo by Zoe Simsay

by Zoe de Lellis, contributing writer

Day three of San Diego Comic-Con International 2014 is a wrap! Today was the big day for cosplayers, for panels, and for exhibitors! As thousands upon thousands of people descended on downtown San Diego for yet another day of Comic-Con fun! And we’ve got the pictures to prove it!

Cosplayers brought out their most elaborate and complicated costumes and took to the exhibitors’ hall to show off! Of course all your main superheroes were there; I suspect that if there were a real crime happening, there’d be at least nine or 10 Wonder Women and Supermen to return the convention to justice! I also saw a lot more camera crews today than on previous days. What they filmed ranged from interviews with cosplayers and con-goers to just panning the immense crowd!!! At around 2:30, the main hall was packed almost wall to wall with fans!

Today’s main events were spread between Hall H and Ballroom 20. Hall H housed a 2-hour panel about some of Warner Bros. Pictures newest films; a discussion about Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame To Kill For which stars Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke, Rosario Dawson, and Eva Green; an Entertainment Weekly panel about strong women in film including Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones), Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story), Masie Williams (Game of Thrones), Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black), and others; a look into what’s next in the Marvel Cinematic Universe; and a screening of the new FOX television series, Gotham and the CW’s The Flash, followed by a discussion about DC Comics. These panels were coveted by many and attended by a lucky few (thousand). I met my cousin in line around 8:15 a.m.; she and her friends had already been there since 5:30! We made it all the way to the the chutes, where they load people into lines that act as the front of the longer line. After a few hours in the blazing sun, it was apparent that those determined few who had been camping out earlier than 10:30 p.m. yesterday were not leaving the first few panels of the day and had camped out in Hall H for the later, bigger panels. That Hall H line is only for the bravest of heart, and those that stayed in line longer than we did and made it in should be superheroes!

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Saturday is Comic-Con’s biggest day! From panels with the biggest names in TV, film, and comics, to the amazing costumes, to the masquerade, to people watching, you definitely will not have a problem finding something to entertain you!

Additional thoughts from Alicia Glass, contributing writer:

This has been happening on previous SDCC days, but Saturday in particular it seemed a huge problem: the dogs. Service animals for the disabled are the only animals permitted inside the actual convention center. The SDCC website says, “If you have pets, including iguanas, parrots, boa constrictors, or other nonhuman critters, please leave them at home. The Convention Center will not allow animals into the building, except for service animals.”

The lines out in front of the Convention Center are absolutely insane, and people keep bringing their dogs right into them! Purse dogs that they carry in their arms like babies, knee-high yap-yaps, and even bigger dogs; I’ve seen ‘em all this weekend. Some have the requisite muzzle, some don’t. The point is, why on Earth would you bring your beloved canine pal to a sea of humanity rushing like a tidal wave, and then stick ‘em on a leash and lead them directly into the crush? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been hurrying somewhere, avoiding elbows and booted feet in the human traffic chaos, only to step on a tail and hear a yip that makes my heart bleed – don’t do that to your dog! 

We’re sure Goddard looks adorable in his K-9 costume, but please, take his picture and bring that to the con. Leave your dog (and other pets) safely at home.

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Stay tuned for our coverage of the SDCC 2014 Masquerade! We’ve got lots more photos for you on Instagram and Tumblr (krptonradio).

Jul 082014
 

GuradiansArguably this summer’s most hotly anticipated release, Guardians of the Galaxy looks more and more promising with each new morsel Marvel releases. We hope, though, that this isn’t a case where all the great material from the film is being revealed in pre-release publicity, and what remains is merely the glue that holds it all together. Fans lined up across the country last night to see a 17-minute IMAX sneak peek, shown at 150 theaters, and most came away excited for more.

The latest appetizer is this extended trailer, which is the first chance that the general public (those who weren’t able to get to the IMAX preview) gets to look a bit deeper than the (funny and attention-grabbing) tidbits that were released early on. This trailer features The Runaways’ song “Cherry Bomb” as background. They’re getting full bang for their musical buck on this soundtrack! The interplay between snarky Rocket and doofy Peter is hilarious, yet, Peter is so sincere in his doofiness, the team can’t help but be genuinely inspired to follow him. Take our unlikely hero Peter and Rocket, the psychotic-yet-lovable mobile arsenal, add in Gamora as the brains of the outfit, Drax providing intimidating muscle and loyalty, and Groot being, well, Groot, and you’ve got a recipe for either unmitigated disaster or the most bizarre success story on record. Either way, though, it’ll be entertaining!

 

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Jun 282014
 

voiceoflegendConceptRev5Panavision640

Okay, not really. But why not? If you have not seen Frozen, this probably won’t make a lot of sense to you. But as a hopeless romantic, comic book geek, and life-long addict to Disney animated movies, I think this really needs to happen. Now, before my Disney fanatics and Comic-con fans beat me to death with season passes, bags, and boards, I have to ask, when you saw Frozen and saw Elsa breaking loose with her powers, didn’t you think, “Dang, this lady has got some power!” See, it’s not just me.

If you would, allow me to make my case as only a storyteller and gaming-geek can. First I should point out as a teller, that Disney has been playing with myths, folktales, and legends for many years (a few examples: Snow White, Cinderella, Mulan, Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty, Hercules). So I figure, if they get to use storytelling content kept alive for thousands of years by storytellers (for fun and profit), it’s only fair that a storyteller should be able to make a comment or three.

A little back-story is in order. Elsa was inspired by the character called the Snow Queen (Snedronnigen) in a fairy-tale published by the same name in 1844 by none other than Hans Christian Anderson. Anderson was obviously influenced by the various snowy myths and legends and folktales growing up in Denmark. And if you’ve ever read any of Hans Christian Anderson’s stories, you will realize that Anderson saw the world a bit oddly by our standards, or even by the standards of anyone living in Denmark in the 1800s.

I should point out that Disney pointed the “D-Ray” at another of his other stories as well, a tiny little movie called The Little Mermaid and Disney did okay by that. The original Hans Christian Anderson Little Mermaid did not have a Disney-esque ending. But I digress.

In his original Snow Queen story, the Snow Queen was the villain and very scary. She kidnaps a boy named Kai, and the girl who rides to the rescue him is named Gerda. She is helped by a crazed pistol-packing robber girl, talking flowers, a talking reindeer, and other creatures. Gerda, it turns out, has the ability to cry magical tears, and she can summon angels, which is pretty handy. If you get a chance, you can check out the original story. It’s only a few pages long and … odd.

There are tons of traditional myths and folktales of cold and deadly beings, and that makes sense. If you live somewhere where you can freeze to death outside, you are probably going to have lots of stories about such things. For instance, the original Jack Frost was not a nice guy, and in Norse myth we have Snow (Snærr) son of Glacier, who also has a son named Frozen Snow, and three daughters, Snowdrift, Snow Fall, and Powdered Snow. Do you sense a theme? And if you really want to raise your “cold-hearted, beautiful snow lady” fear up a notch, check out the Japanese folktales about Yuki Onna, the Snow Woman. Trust me, there are some truly terrifying icy stories out there.

The influence of those myths and legends were part of the world that Hans Christian Anderson lived in. Many folks believe that the Hans Christian Anderson original Snow Queen probably inspired the The White Witch in C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. That was the role was later icily played by Tilda Swinton in the Narnia movie series released in 2005. Now imagine her singing, “Let it Go.” Brrr!

And speaking of the song “Let it Go,” when the Disney creators of Frozen were working on the storyline, originally, Elsa was designed as a villain. But after hearing the song, they realized they had two heroines in their version of the story. And that’s a unique twist for Disney canon. Yes, “true love” does save the day but it’s the love of the two sisters for each other that saves them and possibly prevents an ice age. And the Prince is a schmuck. This story makes for a nice change, having female heroes as well as having the theme of personal empowerment that little girls all over the world can sing madly about.

So despite her age (roughly 169 years old) the Snow Queen (a.k.a. Elsa) was created by a writer, and has inspired many stories and illustrations. Strangely enough, the Avengers were created by writers and illustrators as well! Who knew?

The original Snow Queen is no spring chicken, but then, the Avengers themselves were created long before there were mega-lines at Comic-Con. The Avengers originally débuted in 1963 featuring Iron Man, Ant-Man, the Wasp, the Hulk, and Thor. It is a running joke in the Marvel universe that when someone says, “I am an Avenger,” the standard reply is, “Who isn’t?” Seriously, you would need a S.H.I.E.L.D. heli-carrier just to host an Avengers reunion, With all the variants in comic book land, we’re looking at close to a hundred various heroes.

So all I’m asking is that if the Avengers can lift the velvet rope for Thor (a mythological Norse God of thunder and lightning), can’t we let in a fairy tale queen? Seriously, let’s geek this out. Everyone please put your pocket protector and nerd glasses on now.

Elsa of Arendelle (Fairytale Queen and #13 in the line of Disney princesses), what do we know about her?

Physically: She’s beautiful and immune to cold. While she may have average strength, having another beautiful lady on the Avengers team couldn’t hurt. She has above average dexterity and some amazing singing chops. (By the way, Iron Man/Robert Downey Jr. ain’t too shabby either. Google him singing with Sting.) She also did not appear to need much sleep up there on the mountain.

Mentally: She’s smart and very mature for her age. She has a strong sense of morality, and she has battled against her power for years to protect her sister and her Kingdom. Considering that, she has amazing willpower, and she seemed pretty diplomatic and charming until everything gets all freeze-y. She is also brave and strong emotionally and, toward the latter part, very independent and generous.

Resources: She’s a Queen, so that doesn’t hurt. And we have plenty of precedent for Super-nobility, for example Black Panther (King of Wakanda), Thor (an Asgardian Prince), and Dr. Viktor von Doom (ruler of Latveria). And at the end of the movie, she seems to be doing a good job as Regent.

Powers (a.k.a. the Fun Stuff): World class magical cryokinesis/frigokinesis. It gives her the ability to create almost anything from snow and ice. Her power is so great that she can change global weather patterns and freeze cities, miles away. It is also seemingly somewhat semi-autonomous and seems to react before she consciously does.

Among some of the displays of her freezing abilities:

  • Creating sentient animated snow creatures: Olaf and Marshmallow (the Guardian)
  • Filling a castle full of dangerous and growing ice spears, from miles away
  • Creating ice walls and shields in a fraction of time, and the ability to move them without touching them
  • Freezing a massive body of water thick enough to be walked on in seconds (she ice-locks an entire harbor with ice several feet thick) (Did you know that Elsa has a beautiful “Signature Snowflake” pattern which you can see as a subtle motif throughout the movie? You can see it when she steps on the ice.)
  • Creating objects small and large of breathtaking beauty such as the brilliant Ice Castle on the mountain and her designer dress (Frank Lloyd Wright, Christian Dior, and Buckminster Fuller, eat your designer hearts out. Other Ice-slingers like Iceman (Bobby Drake, from the X-Men) and Frozone (Lucius Best, of the Incredibles), let this lady show you how to build ice bridge!)
  • Creating a magical ice that does not kill targets immediately and can turn them into ice-statues
  • Creating localized weather patterns such as the localized cold cloud for Olaf
  • Controlling ice/water in multiple states: crystalline, liquid, and gaseous
  • Freezing metal to the point of it becoming brittle and breaking (chains and handcuffs)
  • Creating a “stasis” area of suspended wind/snow/ice, which she can dismiss with a wave of her hand

Weaknesses: Her powers can be deadly if she is distraught or surprised. She might to need to wear gloves on a day to day basis. Orphaned. She has a Dependent NPC (Anna). And she has a strong sense of duty to her Kingdom.

So, if you sum it all up, we have a world class Super Heroine. We are talking a Magneto, Phoenix, Silver Surfer level, Four color, front cover, multiple story arc heroine.

Like Thor, she’s magical. Like the Hulk, she has to be careful to control her emotions. Like the Black Widow, she’s smart, tough, and beautiful. Like Iron Man, she can create thinking beings (Jarvis in the movies), and make amazing items, and she rules her own country. Like Captain America, she’s strong willed, has leadership abilities, and a strong moral code. And she could turn Hawkeye into a snow-cone with a wave. Can’t you see it? Elsa “Snow Queen” in her designer ice armor with a sub-zero sword? She could trash Hydra while doing a musical number. Maybe if we ask Joss Whedon, we could get a duet with her and Dr. Horrible? Hey, a geek guy can dream. Plus, think of all the little girls who would want merchandisable “Ice Armor.” Think about it, Disney!

Believe in the power of stories!

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Jun 052014
 

 

Amazing Fantasy 15 Spider-manby Hannah Carter, contributing writer

On this date in 1962, Spider-Man made his debut in Amazing Fantasy #15. He was one of the first teen comic book characters not relegated to a supporting role. Spider-Man creators Stan Lee and Steve Ditko wanted to create a character that the growing number of teen comic book fans could more easily identify with. Stan Lee had a picture in his mind of Peter Parker as an everyday high school kid and rejected initial attempts to make him unrealistically heroic. After reviewing the sales of Amazing Fantasy #15, some of the best they had ever seen, Marvel put out The Amazing Spider-Man, the web-slinger’s first solo series.

The popularity of the comic series led to the release of ABC’s animated series Spider-Man (1967-1970), which helped make Spider-Man a cultural icon. In fact, despite the countless Spider-Man titles in various types of media, “‘60s Spider-Man” (as he is widely referred to on the internet) is arguably the most widely recognized world-wide. This is partially due to the spike of popularity the Spider-Man series reached after Marvel made all of the episodes accessible online in 2009. Fans of the old show and more recent Spider-Man series alike began watching episodes on platforms that allowed them to pause the video. People quickly began noticing some of the humorous facial expressions, poses, and logical fallacies in the Spider-Man series and began posting image and GIF files of Spidey’s hijinks for the amusement of their fellow internet users. Almost overnight ‘60s Spider-man became a full-fledged meme. To this day, reaction images (both with and without added text) and silly GIFs of ‘60s Spider-Man can be found on sites like Facebook, tumblr, Twitter, YouTube, and 4chan.

'60s Spidey moves like JaggerSince the 1970s, Spider-Man has been featured in cross-over comics with characters from the Marvel universe and other universes (namely DC). Two of my personal favorites are Batman & Spider-Man: New Age Dawning, in DC/Marvel Crossover Classics #4, and Ultimate Deadpool, an episode of Disney XD’s ongoing animated series Ultimate Spider-Man. They are the two extremes of cross-over interactions. Batman, with his all-business attitude, serves as a perfect straight man for Spider-Man’s signature wit, whereas Deadpool, who frequently breaks the fourth wall and the laws of physics, makes Spidey look positively serious.

In the vast collections of comic books, graphic novels, animated series, merchandise, and movie franchises over the 52-year span of his existence, Spider-Man has undergone several costume changes. Virtually everything about Spidey’s suit, from the color scheme to the size and shape of his eye panels, has been known to change from series to series. Other notable changes include his body type and personality. In his early days, Spider-Man was portrayed as a relatively bulky guy, sporting plenty of muscle definition. There has since been a movement to depict Spider-Man as a wiry, quick, and clever teen, which is seen by some fans as fitting better with Peter Parker’s image as an adolescent whose hobbies usually involve science.

Spider-Man’s motivations and personality have also varied by series. The Amazing Spider-Man: An Origin Story, an interactive comic application released by Marvel Reads, says that in Spider-Man’s early days, once he gained some clout for saving the city, he was self-centered and spent entirely too much time with the media. This ultimately costs him his beloved Uncle Ben, who is killed by a criminal that Spider-Man had the opportunity to stop but didn’t. After he realizes just how much of a mistake it had been not to capture said criminal, he decides that he should stop being selfish and fulfill the responsibilities that were thrust upon him when he got his powers. In other series, he did not have a direct relationship with the criminal who killed his Uncle Ben but the death still serves as a catalyst for Peter fully assuming the hero role.

tobey maguire vs andrew garfieldPeter Parker’s personality has been the subject of controversy among fans over the years. Possibly the biggest split in the Spider-Man fandom is whether or not the ­Spider-Man movie franchise from the early 2000s (directed by Sam Raimi) offers a valid depiction of Peter Parker’s character (played by Toby Maguire). Many fans have expressed displeasure with Maguire’s performance. On the other hand, fans seem to be whole-heartedly embracing Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker in Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man franchise, which just had its second film in theaters earlier this year. Although, this could be due to the fact that The Amazing Spider-Man starts while Peter is in high school whereas Spider-Man begins with Peter in college, which means he was dealing with an entirely different set of problems each time.  Andrew Garfield has what many are calling an “awkward cuteness” which adds to the sincerity of his character, while Toby Maguire is known for appearing sad or troubled and is often perceived as being “whiny.” Andrew Garfield also has the wiry build that some fans have come to expect of Spider-man.

Whatever the case may be, the Spider-Man fandom is still going strong and growing after 52 years. Generations of kids have grown up on Spider-Man cartoons, comics, and toys and have retained their love of the iconic web-slinger. Here’s hoping for another 52 years. Happy anniversary, Spidey!

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Jun 052014
 

Avengers STATIONby Nur Hussein, staff writer

If you’re a fan of Marvel (and science) and you live near New York, check out the brand new exhibit at Discovery Times Square. It’s called Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. – an acronym that stands for Scientific Training and Tactical Intelligence Operative Network (someone at Marvel really, really likes acronyms). It’s a 6-month long exhibit that showcases props, costumes and interactive exhibits that feature characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The idea is that you can pretend to be an agent in training for S.H.I.E.L.D. There are sections based on each movie Avenger, such as a Captain America exhibit that lets you test your mettle to see if you measure up as a super soldier, or a Hulk room that show you how the Hulk’s brain looks like. There’s a villain room and an artifact room, and there are many detailed items, costumes and props for the Marvel movie fan. The neat thing is that they’ve also snuck in real science into the pretend-world of Marvel superheroes, so you do get to learn something while checking out the comic book stuff.

The folks who made this exhibit consulted with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California for the science. In the Thor room, there is an entire exhibit dedicated to the topic of exoplanets. Exoplanets are planets outside the known solar system, and they use Jane Foster’s astrophysics research to contextually frame the discussion. The Iron Man room has discussions on aerospace materials when talking about Iron Man’s armor. There’s information about gamma radiation in the Hulk room. NASA hopes that visitors will pick up an interest in science and technology when they visit the exhibit, especially the young ones. I for one find the intersection of science and science fiction to be one of the more entertaining aspects of the genre.

You can visit the website for the exhibit  (which has additional content), and if you’re in the area you can head down to 226 W 44th St, New York. Tickets are available from this website or at the box office.

May 272014
 
Charlie Cox, he's British and charming.

Charlie Cox, he’s British and charming.

by Nur Hussein, contributing writer

Marvel just cast Boardwalk Empire alumnus Charlie Cox for the role of Daredevil in a new Netflix series. Daredevil is one of the four characters that Marvel wants to bring to live-action TV, along with Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist.

Over the weekend, the previously-announced showrunner for Daredevil, Drew Goddard, stepped down to write and direct Sony’s Sinister Six movie. He was replaced by Steven S. DeKnight (producer of Starz’s Spartacus), though Goddard remains as consultant.

Genre fans may recognize Charlie Cox as the protagonist of film version of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. We look forward to seeing what Charlie Cox brings to the role of Daredevil.

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