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Continuing story lines: Part 1: Stargate

Continuing story lines: Part 1: Stargate published on 1 Comment on Continuing story lines: Part 1: Stargate

For a lot of people their first entry into the world of comic books is through material derived from comic book sources. Be it Batman through the Adam West series of the 1960’s or the X-Men universe through Fox’s Animated series from the 1990’s. But this isn’t a one way street, many TV and movie franchises have expanded their universes, and additional revenue streams, from telling additional stories whether canon or not in this medium.

One of the most famous examples, until recently, was Dark Horses Star Wars Expanded Universe stories. But Star Wars isn’t alone in expanding its universes via the comic book medium. During the 1990’s, the now defunct, Topps company licensed The X-Files from Fox, before DC and now IDW produced parallel and continuing storylines.

The list of televisual and film franchises that have continued on after the series wrapped or have been cancelled has been covered by numerous people across numerous sites all around the web. But what I’d like to do here is cover series that I feel could and should continue in the comic book world.


First up is the Stargate franchise, considering that the Stargate universe includes the 1994 feature film and three network television shows beginning with SG-1 in 1997, the franchise has been severely lacking in comic book material. Between 1996-97 Entity Comics published a trilogy of stories that follow loosely on from the feature film, and then between 2003 and 2007 Avatar Press published a number of one-shot stories based upon the SG-1 and Atlantis series, and then nothing. Save for an announcement in 2009 from Dynamite Entertainment that they had aquired the rights to publish stories, click here for the story, based upon the Stargate TV universe, the previously mentioned series along with Universe.


But since then nothing not one story, mini-series, special. Not a single thing. And from a company who still continue, on and off, to produce stories based upon the 1970’s Battlestar Galactica, hell they’ve even squeezed out a few stories that have tied together the Highlander films and TV series, Dynamite haven’t exactly been shy about exploiting their various media licences.

So where the hell are my Stargate comics?

Fine SG-1 was largely tied up, I can live with that. 10 seasons and 2 TV-movies tied the show together and gave the characters some finality and conclusion. But Atlantis and Universe both finished open ended.


Atlantis was cancelled so that Syfy could pump all the money into Universe and the proposed film Extinction then got binned because of MGM’s financial issues. The scripts out there its ready to go, so why don’t Dynamite do a Dark Horse and adapt the screenplay, it worked pretty well for The Star Wars and best of all it could give the show some narrative conclusion. Plot threads were left hanging and more questions than answers were provided by the final episode.

stargate_universe-tv-31As for Universe, stylistically different from SG-1 and Atlantis and clearly appearing to do its best to catch some of the slipstream provided by the Battlestar Galactica re-imagining the series lasted 2 seasons before ending on a cliff hanger when Syfy decided they weren’t going to pick the series up for a 3rd season. A TV movie was proposed before nothing happened. So like Atlantis surely there is a market out there for fans of the series wanting narrative closure. The potential for the series is immense, unlike the previous two series Universe opted to go fully CGI with the few alien species the crew encountered and the comics medium is the perfect place to design and showcase a variety of alien beings.

Call this an open letter or just a personal wish list but there is no reason for Dynamite Entertainment to not exploit the Stargate franchise and like The X-Files, at IDW, give us a Season 6 of Atlantis and a Season 3 of Universe.

I invite anyone and everyone to continue this thread, are there series that you would like to see continued within the comic book medium?

Born Again. By Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli.

Born Again. By Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli. published on

“It’s the eighties. You do what you have to. And you have to do it”


classic-daredevil-story-from-frank-millerWhen Denny O Neil left Daredevil in the mid 80’s Frank Miller was asked to return to the title that made his name. Bringing Year One alumni, David Mazzucchelli, with him to handle pencilling duties Miller scripted Born Again, a story that, for me, is the high point of his career. Choosing to focus on Matt Murdock rather than Daredevil (the red costume only appears at the start and the end of the tale), Born Again starts with Karen Page selling the secret identity of Daredevil, her ex-lover Matt Murdock, for an armful of heroin. This information then works its way up the criminal supply chain till it reaches The Kingpin, who uses it to take away everything Murdock has causing him to sink lower and lower until he hits rock bottom. It is only then that Murdock finds help from the most unexpected of places, giving him the strength to start over.

Born Again is not a happy story. It’s the sort of grim tragedy that was Frank Miller’s stock and trade in the 80’s but it’s also the perfect showcase of his talents. Each character in Born Again has a well-defined arc, with a beginning, middle and end that fall together in such a way that even the smallest touches, such as Foggy Nelson getting a new job have an impact on Murdock’s fall from grace. What’s more Miller writes Murdock, and his enhanced perceptions, in a way that makes Hell’s Kitchen come alive. Electricity hums, horns blare, ribs pop, the reader gets to experience what it is truly like to be Matt Murdock and so, when his world collapses, we feel it all the more keenly.

Given that Miller was just as famous for drawing Daredevil it’s a wonder he didn’t pencil Born Again too but David Mazzuchelli’s art, coupled with Christie Scheele and Richmond Lewis’s colours, brings a sense of realism to the table that Miller’s artwork lacks. It’s not that Miller’s artwork is bad, but his characters often look a little cartoony whereas Born Again is a more grounded story. As such Mazzucchelli’s art lends Millers narrative a sense of grandeur without losing touch of its more human elements.

daredevil kingpin born again

The title Born Again has obvious religious connotations and the book is draped in Judeo Christian symbolism (Murdock’s walk through Manhattan in chapter 3 mirrors the Stations of the Cross and the start of Chapter 4 finds the Devil striking a particularly Jesus Christ pose) but Miller and Mazzucchelli are actually concerned with a more material idea in Born Again, which is the divide between the rich and poor and the influence that those with money have over those in power and how they use it to affect the lives of those with none of either.

In the early 1980’s America had experienced the worst recession since The Great Depression. Unemployment had been high and budget cuts across the country, as well as some insensitive statements by then president Ronald Regan, had left the working classes feeling that the people in charge were out of touch with their needs. Miller and Mazzucchelli play on these ideas from the outset. Starting in a crack den on page 1 before moving to the upper levels of a skyscraper on page 2 and then a yacht owned by the Kingpin on page 3 Born Again constantly contrasts the Haves with the Have Nots. The Kingpin is always surrounded by his ill-gotten wealth in panels that are a stark contrast to panels showing Murdock’s physical and mental decline. Miller also used Born Again to revisit the disust of those in power, a theme he had touched upon in The Dark Knight Returns. Even though details of the Iran Contra affair hadn’t hit the news at the time of Born Again’s publication in 1986 it’s hard not to see an echo of the scandal in the story’s conclusion as Hell’s Kitchen gets turned into a warzone when the Kingpin utilises a super powered government tool for his own devices.

With its focus on wealth and poverty, as well as its suspicions of government control, it’s easy to see why Born Again still resonates with modern readers. However it isn’t entirely perfect. I often refer to it as the first part of the Karen Page Trilogy and yet reading it again I see what a rough deal she gets throughout the story. Frank Miller has never been kind to women in his writing and Born Again is no exception as the female characters always seem to require saving by a man. It is somewhat ironic that for a book whose ideas that are still relevant decades later its treatment of women dates the book more than anything. But it’s ok, things turn out quite well for Karen because she goes to Matt and asks him for help and this is where we hit upon another interesting point.

At his lowest ebb, Matt sees Foggy as abandoning him for his new job and girlfriend (who also happens to be Matt’s ex), but in truth Foggy never stops looking for his friend. Matt can’t see this because he is blinded by his circumstances and it’s not until Matt accepts help that he is able to pull himself out of the hole he’s fallen into and start again. The same is true of Ben Ulrich, who finds the courage to speak out, and this is core theme of the book: Times are hard and it’s ok to ask for help if you’re in need and that if we all chip in and help each other we might just be able to make things better between us all and that if you see the Haves exploiting the Have Nots then you need to stand up and say something…

Dardevil - flames… Which makes it all the harder to understand why, 25 years later Miller wrote a, quite frankly insane, diatribe criticising people for doing exactly that. But hey who am I to question “the goddamn Frank Miller”? (Copyright Seb Carey 2015).

Either way Born Again is a classic that is well worth your time and can be purchased from all good retailers or borrowed from Jon.

Big Trouble In Little China #13

Big Trouble In Little China #13 published on 4 Comments on Big Trouble In Little China #13

Written by Fred Van Lente

Illustrated by Joe Eisma

Colours by Gonzalo Duarte

Issue 13 marks the beginning of a new cycle for BOOM! Studios continuation of John Carpenter’s 1986 cult classic, and I can’t help but feel that this is the tipping point for the series.

The previous 12 issues featured story input from Carpenter himself, along with Eric Powell (creator of The Goon) and art by Brian Churilla. With Carpenters involvement it felt like a natural continuation of Jack Burton’s story.

However, with this new cycle I can’t help but feel that the wheels have begun to come off the wagon. The first cycle concerned itself with the continuing battle with Lo Pan, the films antagonist and other assorted supernatural beings, which results in Burtons death and his spirit trapped in one of the many ‘hells’ of Big Troubles mythology. Through further supernatural means Burton’s body is preserved to prevent it ageing and decaying whilst he attempts to escape ‘hell’, now skip forward 30 years and Burton’s body is an exhibit in a sideshow attraction.

The ‘Amazing Ossified ’80s Man’.

At which point Burton awakes, as time moves differently between the various plains of existence, its at this point that the comic severely looses its mojo.

BigTroubleLittleChina-013-PRESS-4-1d36cBigTroubleLittleChina-013-PRESS-5-a85e4I have nothing against Joe Eismas artwork but it just doesn’t feel right for this comic.

It feels flat.

Yes they’ve retained Gonzalo Duarte on ‘colours’ but even those seem muted when compared to his work colouring Churilla’s artwork.

Churilla’s work was just the right side of parody, particularly with his design of Jack Burton. It bordered on caricature which is what the series needed, the film after all played at times like a comic book come to life.
BTLC+10+CVR+CLR+FNL 11-fun-facts-about-big-trouble-in-little-china

On the left we have Churilla’s, textless, artwork for Issue 10 and on the right we have Drew Struzan’s original poster for the films cinematic release. Churilla perfectly captures the look and feel of the film with this cover and continues to do so throughout the 12 issues he illustrated. Sadly Eismas artwork possesses none of that, I appreciate that different creative teams take over as a series progresses and maybe I need time to adjust to this change in direction  but I can’t help but feel that the series has taken a dip creatively. The cartoony feel that the first cycle had is no longer there which is a shame as it fit the series perfectly.

Like all comic fans I’ll stick with this series for a little while longer, maybe the change in direction will win me over, only time will tell.


Batman Earth One, Volume 2

Batman Earth One, Volume 2 published on 1 Comment on Batman Earth One, Volume 2

Writen by Geoff Johns, Pencils by Gary Frank, Inks by Jon Sibal, Colour by Rob Liegh and letters by Rob Leigh


A lot has been said about problems with DC continuity and the Earth One series has shown what can be done when creative teams are not weighed down by continuity, I strongly recommend giving these book a read.

In Batman Earth One Bruce is still a billionaire orphan, he is still assisted by Alfred Pennyworth and the villains still come from the illustrious rouges gallery. If you were to flick through this novel you may think it a typical Bat book, action sequences are aplenty with batarangs and burning buildings, but it is a far more personal tale than most Bat titles.

The first volume focused on reasons for Bruce becoming Batman and saw him struggle to overcome the corrupt Mayor Cobblepot. Six months have passed and whilst Bruce has bulked up somewhat, he is still a fledgling Dark Knight, treading on evidence and smudging fingerprints. This volume broadens the Earth One universe with far more attention given to Harvey and Jessica Dent, along with a number of villains, my favourite of which is Killer Croc who is treated with great maturity by the writers.

As mentioned, more focus is given to Bruce Wayne, in particular his growing relationship with Alfred. In this universe Alfred is a blunt, bearded, ex-military butler, who was previously head of security for the Wayne estate, who keeps count of the number of villains Batman has pummelled. He has conflicting views on how Bruce should approach his role as the Dark Knight, grumpily reminding Bruce that he should carry a gun and armour in order to become the perfect weapon.

This is the focus of the book, it begins with Batman acting as a true vigilante, beating up bad guys and leaving the detective work to Gordon and the suffering Bullock. As the volume unfolds Bruce begins to mature, he still acts irrationally (he refuses to wear Kevlar as he needs no armour) and loses control of his temper but he begins to understand what is required to help rescue Gotham and become a true symbol of hope.

The writing is well paced with a number of surprises and moments of poignancy, with the book covering a range of topics from alcoholism to victimisation. The colour is delightful, as it really jumps off the page, while the art is at its most expressive in the facial details. The eyes in particular convey much emotion from surprise, fear, distrust and anger.

This fortnight I read a number of books including Amazing Spider-Man Volume 1:The Parker Luck and Amazing Spider-Man Spider Island but this was my favourite. I have really enjoyed this new take on Batman; the moments of action had added suspense, as I was always fearful he was about to make another mistake. The final acts of the book set the story up for an interesting third volume, which I look forward to reading.


Next time I will be reviewing Ody-C Volume 1.

Why you should be excited about the new Joker

Why you should be excited about the new Joker published on

We all knew this was coming. We all knew whoever played the Joker next would be judged harshly in comparison to his late predecessor Heath Ledger. It didn’t matter what direction they decided to take, this could not be avoided.

But I’m very positive about this new take and here are my reasons why you should also get excited.

Recurring villain

With references to the Joker in the Batman v Superman trailer and footage of the Joker in the Suicide Squad trailer it is pretty clear that we are getting the first recurring live-action Joker since Caesar Romero.

One of the biggest mistakes of the original Tim Burton Batman was killing off the Joker. Don’t get me wrong the Joker has died countless times, however, the Joker is far more interesting alive than dead. Joker is the living counter-argument to Batman’s non-killing code, every time Batman spares his life he is also causing the death of countless Joker victims. Joker has always pushed Batman to the brink of murder and this is what makes him Batman’s greatest nemesis.

Nolan and his crew understood this, and summed it up best with this unforgettable quote from the Joker.

“Oh, you. You just couldn’t let me go, could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You are truly incorruptible, aren’t you? Huh? You won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won’t kill you because you’re just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever.”

Harley Quinn

The Joker having a romantic interest may sound like a horrible idea but it makes a lot of sense in execution. The Joker has a manipulative power over her in the same creepy vein as Charles Manson.

Harley Quinn made her first appearance in Paul Dini’s Batman the animated series and was such a fan favourite that she was swiftly introduced into the comics canon. Sadly their abusive relationship was never introduced into any of the previous movies, but thankfully it was announced that she would finally debut alongside Jared Leto’s Joker in Suicide Squad next year.

Jason Todd

Although not officially confirmed, this screenshot of Robins armour covered in graffiti from the Batman v Superman trailer makes it clear that the Joker must have had a run in with one of the Robins.

Jason Todd was the second Robin after Dick Grayson (the first Robin) left and joined the Teen Titans. Unlike Grayson, Jason wasn’t popular with the fans and eventually died because of them. DC Comics gave the fans the chance to decide his fate with a vote, surprisingly more fans voted for his death. His brutal murder happened at the hands of the Joker who tortured him with a crowbar, followed by being locked in a exploding building. It is one of the Joker’s most iconic moments, it is also one of the most tragic moments in the comics. It’s hard not to get emotional seeing batman cradling his lifeless body, knowing he is overwhelmed with sorrow and guilt.

The closest we’ve come to this in the movies is the death of Rachel Dawes in The Dark Knight, which also has a very similar death scene involving an exploding building.

Right actor

Batman movies have had their fair share of controversy when it comes to casting decisions. Some of the most iconic performances in Batman movies were thanks to these unsafe choices. Believe it or not, both Michael Keaton and Heath Ledger were once considered bad choices. I’d be lying if I said Warner Bros wasn’t guilty of some horrific miscasting in the past (What killed the dinosaurs? The ice age!), but I really do believe that for the most part Warner Bros. knows what they are doing, especially when it comes to adapting The Joker.

Plus, Jared Leto’s casting announcement hasn’t stirred any controversy, in fact it was met with approval by fans.

Joker with a history

With the announcement that Ben Affleck would be playing an ageing Batman, it seems safe to assume that he must have had a few run ins with the Joker. This will be a first for the movies as both Heath Ledger’s Joker and Jack Nicholson’s Joker dealt with Batman’s first encounter with the Joker.

Right look

I know what your thinking. How is this a good look with those tattoos, the Joker never had tattoo’s. Well I have two points to make against this argument.
1.) The Joker has had tatoo’s, most famously in Frank Miller’s All Star Batman. Although admittedly not the best example.

2.) Most of the tattoos wont be visible when he’s wearing his classic purple suit.

I admit the tattoo’s don’t really add anything, but I honestly think it’s something we’ll get used to. If we can get used to Heath Ledger’s design which was a large departure from the classic Joker look (cut smile, long hair, face paint) then I think we can get past the tattoo’s. Personally, I honestly wasn’t distracted by the tattoo’s at all in the trailer, while admittedly I found Heath Ledger’s appearance far more jarring to look at.

There are a lot more positives than negatives to this Joker’s look. For starters, Jared Leto is the right body type for the Joker who should be slim but not entirely out of shape. Also the hair is more fitting for the Joker as well as the right shade of green. Jared Leto also has very striking and expressive eyes, very similar to the classic Joker from the killing Joke. It’s also refreshing to see the red lips without extra lines on the side which all of the previous live action Jokers had. His teeth was another thing that bothered the fans but this is the best part of the design, its evidence of the beatings he has taken from Batman.

I really do believe that the more footage we are given the more people will warm up to the design.

A new take

How can you not get excited about seeing a new live-action Joker? It feels like a big event especially when you look at the time gaps between Jokers.

  • There is nearly a 20 year gap between Romero’s Joker and Jack Nicholson’s Joker
  • There is nearly a 20 year gap between Jack Nicholson’s Joker and Heath Ledger’s Joker

Admittedly this is the quickest we’ve ever had a new Joker, but by the time Suicide Squad comes out it would have already been 8 years since Heath’s performance.

It is too early to say what Jared Leto’s performance will be like and the few seconds of footage is not enough to gain a feel for his take. Although it is clear that Leto will bring something new to the table.

Bring on 2016.

The New Star Lady: Or, When Will Pryde Get The Recognition She Deserves?

The New Star Lady: Or, When Will Pryde Get The Recognition She Deserves? published on

So the big Marvel summer event that had so many of us intrigued, worried, excited and slightly dubious is preparing to wrap up and October will see Marvel usher in a new era; ‘All-New, All-Different Marvel’. Several teasers have already been dropped as to what to expect once October hits, one of them being the identity of the new ‘Star Lord’ (or in this case, ‘Star Lady’) in The Guardians of the Galaxy franchise.

Unsurprisingly, this reveal shows Kitty Pryde, original X-Men member to be taking over the role of the Star Lord (hence referred to as Star Lady) in place of Peter Quill who has taken off to become the new emperor of Spartax.

So is it finally time for Kitty Pryde to get the recognition she deserves? She has certainly been one of the most popular, and some would say understated, female character in the comic book world. Making her first appearance in Uncanny X-Men #129 in January 1980 she was originally portrayed as a 14 year old girl, shy and nervous about her powers and very much seen as a younger sister to the X-Men at the time. However, as the years have gone by we have seen Kitty evolve physically and emotionally into a strong female character, one which many people can relate to and one who has well and truly earnt her superhero stripes.

Her powers have also grown with her over the years, and when it was revealed that the most recent X-Men film, Days of Future Past, would include a character who had the ability to transport people’s consciousness’s backwards and forwards through time, I was ecstatic; who else could it be but Rachel Summers sending Kitty Pryde back to help the others? Finally, a more than worthy character would get her chance on the big screen to cement herself among the likes of Wolverine and Storm and claim her rightful place as one of the strongest and most lovable mutants to have come out of the Marvel Universe. To say I was angry when I heard it would instead be Wolverine who was sent back in time by Kitty (not even Rachel Summers!) would be an understatement.

This wasn’t just the chance for Kitty Pryde to make her name with cinematic audiences as well as comic book fans; this was a chance for a real, female led superhero movie to finally dominate the big screen. Simon Kinberg, producer of Days of Future Past, told Empire magazine that X-Men Kitty Pryde just wouldn’t have been old enough in this portrayal for the time travel thing to make sense (although when have comics ever cared about making sense?), and also acknowledged that having Wolverine as the lead would bring more ratings in.

The release of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie in 2014, starring Chris Pratt as the Star Lord was a box office smash being nominated for and winning several awards in the process. The popularity of the franchise did not go unnoticed, and people are already gearing up for the sequel. Kitty Pryde featuring in GOTG#2 is practically an impossibility, but with X-Men: Age of Apocalypse in the making as well as her soon to be taking over what is now a much-loved role by comic book readers and movie goers alike, could we one day finally see Kitty Pryde get the recognition she deserves?

I sure hope so. For a character who has stayed strong since the 80’s and fought demons, aliens, mutants and everything in between, who almost completely dissipated due to her powers, had a brief stint as a S.H.I.E.L.D agent and thought permanently fused to a bullet and dead among many other escapades, it’s about time.

Batman #42

Batman #42 published on 1 Comment on Batman #42

Written by Scott Snyder, pencils by Greg Capullo, ink by Danny Miki, colours by Fco Plascencia and letters by Steve Wanos.

This is the second issue in the much maligned Superheavy arc, where James Gordon has become the GCPD authorized mechanical 10-foot Bat and it thankfully goes someway to justifying why Gordon is Batman.

The last issue established the new order in Gotham where the city, post End Game, is recovering from the Joker’s attack on the city. The disappearance of Bruce Wayne has resulted in Powers international selecting Jim as the right, rather than best, man for the so called “robobat-bunny” mantle.

The issue begins with two children comparing the old and the new Batman, stating as many a Bat supporter has been, he can’t be the new Batman without a batmobile. We find Jim at the Batarang range (it looks like he’s going to need a lot of practice) and discover how with the aid of Bat-patches he is giving up smoking. A Bat-app has been developed which allows the people of Gotham to let others know when they are in danger, allowing the citizens to help themselves and keep Batman ahead of the Police. Jim is seen to be staring out over Gotham, with his inner monologue reminding us of his fears and doubts, as he falls, or should I say swoops down, he is affronted with a previously captured crime boss who has somehow obtained powers. Comissioner Sawyer and Bats discover that he is not the first, there appears to be a new super-villain but Gordon will not be given the chance to confront this mysterious Mr Bloom. The first issue hinted at Batman being authorized and accounted for and in this issue that comes to a head, although we do find out that not all things have changed.

As you would expect with Capullo there is much use of silhouettes and there is a variety of colourful fights and dark shadowy conversational scenes. It is in these one on one scene that Snyder’s writing works best and we begin to understand that Batman is a vehicle for Gordon to help his city, a task he has always tried to do but now he has a big blue robotic advantage. There is a particular moment where he cradles a vanquished foe and it shows a care that is not accustomed with the unregulated Bruce. The only problem I have with the story and the arc is the Batman suit, I prefer scenes when Gordon is out of the mechanical suit and we get to see the slender detective. The final few pages offer a surprise and as of yet I am uncertain on how I feel about it, but I look forward to seeing where it all leads.

All in all, if you are a fan of Batman I would encourage you to try the arc no matter the misgivings you may have. If you have an understanding of James Gordon then this story should speak to you. It is a very enjoyable read with moments of action, interrogation and compassion, furthermore Gordon is becoming a very funny character, even without the moustache.

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