11 Bizarre Comic Book Sidekicks That You Should Definitely Dress as For Halloween

I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of The League of Regrettable Sidekicks by Jon Morris, a gorgeous technicolor reference tome that documents some of the worst comic book characters to grace the racks of local grocery stores and dusty comics shops. It occurred to me—these would make superb Halloween costumes, especially if you’re the sort who loves to explain yourself all night to strangers (you know who you are). So here are a few suggestions, if your usual go-tos have failed you.

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Diversity and Equality Are Foundational Concepts in Malazan Book of the Fallen

By nature of the genre, the premise of every fantasy novel asks “what if” questions. What if magic was real? What if children went to school to learn it? What if a pantheon of gods walked among us? As an archeologist and anthropologist, Steven Erikson asked questions about the clashing of cultures and classes, about climate and capitalism, about the relationship between gods and mortals—and not just if magic existed, but if it was available to anyone. What if magical abilities could be learned by anyone, regardless of age, gender, intelligence or skill? As Erikson states, “It occurred to us that it would create a culture without gender bias so there would be no gender-based hierarchies of power. It became a world without sexism and that was very interesting to explore.”

In the same matter-of-fact, almost mundane way that magic simply exists in the Malazan universe, so too does equality among the sexes. It just is—and that’s refreshing.

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She Changed the Universe: Doctor Who, “Rosa”

There’s no pulling punches when your season’s first trip back to the past is to examine the actions of Civil Rights hero, Rosa Parks. So Doctor Who did not pull those punches. And we are left with a testament to the life of one of the bravest women in American history.

[This review contains an episode recap, so suffice it to say there are SPOILERS.]

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5 Books About Folk Horror

It’s nearly impossible for me to choose five favorite horror novels. I simply can’t name a favorite (except in one case, as you’ll see below). But I can narrow it down a little and compartmentalize my preferences. In that way, even though I’m certain I’m forgetting something, the slight won’t seem too terribly egregious.

I grew up in rural North Carolina, amidst tobacco fields and scuppernong grape orchards, and in the Missouri Ozarks, amidst scorpions and tarantula herds. Living in those areas, I developed an appreciation for the folktales and ghost stories that run rampant among country folk. That upbringing has wormed its way into many of my own stories. With books like Harrow County, from Dark Horse Comics, I’m able to revisit some of my old haunts, if you’ll pardon the pun.

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Stories Within Stories Within Nightmares: Dale Bailey’s In the Night Wood

There’s a point midway through Dale Bailey’s novel In the Night Wood wherein protagonist Charles Hayden ventures out to the forest around the English manor where he and his wife Erin have relocated following a tragedy on the other side of the Atlantic. In his exploration, Charles discovers a part of the forest that seems somewhat different from the rest: some of that can be chalked up to a sense of fundamental wrongness, and some of that can be be ascribed to a difference in temperature. But the sense of two places bordering one another, similar but with fundamentally different properties underlying their very nature, is a convenient metaphor for this novel as well, which is both a story about literary obsession and a story whose twists and turns may well lure in literary obsessives.

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“I don’t like bullies” — Captain America: The First Avenger

In 1940, the United States hadn’t yet entered the war after the War to End All Wars, but two comics creators didn’t like what they were seeing. Two young Jewish men, who were born Hymie Simon and Jacob Kurtzberg, but who changed their names to Joe Simon and Jack Kirby to better assimilate, saw what the Axis powers were doing to Europe in general and to their fellow Jews in particular, and were angry and frightened.

And so, in December 1940, Captain America #1 debuted. Dressed in a costume with a flag motif and carrying a red-white-and-blue shield, the cover of the first issue had Cap punching Adolf Hitler in the face. The character was very polarizing—Simon and Kirby got several death threats interspersed with the avalanche of fan mail, as there were plenty of people in this country who wanted to stay the hell out of the fighting overseas—but ultimately proved hugely popular, especially after the bombing of Pearl Harbor a year later put the U.S. in the war.

After an awful movie serial in 1944, two terrible TV movies in 1979, and a 1990 film that never got (or deserved) a theatrical release, Captain America finally got a proper feature film seventy years after Pearl Harbor.

[“What is it?” “Steak.” “What is in it?” “Cow.”]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

(Semi-)Plausible Strategies for Moving a Whole Damn Planet

Has this ever happened to you? You’re living on a perfectly good planet in orbit around a perfectly acceptable star—and then suddenly, the neighbourhood goes to crap and you have to move. For a lot of people, this means marching onto space arks.

Recapitulating Noah on a cosmic scale is such a pain, though. All that packing. All that choosing who to take and who to leave behind. And no matter how carefully you plan things, it always seems to come down to a race between launch day and doomsday.

Why not, therefore, just take the whole darned planet with you?

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The Power of Language: The Black Khan by Ausma Zehanat Khan

The One granted the world the gift of the Claim, holy words used to summon magic. Arian is one of those who can wield it: the daughter of linguists raised in a scriptorium, her entire life has been dedicated to the Claim. In fact, Arian has been one of the Companions of Hira—a group of women who study and use the Claim—since she was a child. But across Khorasan, a man known as the One-Eyed Prophet has led the rising Talisman group in a campaign to dominate civilization, subjugating the women of Khorasan and destroying libraries and knowledge in the process. The Companions seek to overthrow the Talisman—but they need a text called the Bloodprint first.

Spoilers for The Bloodprint, book one of the Khorasan Archives, follow!

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City of Broken Magic Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a galley copy of Mirah Bolender’s City of Broken Magic, available November 20th from Tor Books!

Five hundred years ago, magi created a weapon they couldn’t control. An infestation that ate magic—and anything else it came into contact with. Enemies and allies were equally filling.

Only an elite team of non-magical humans, known as sweepers, can defuse and dispose of infestations before they spread. Most die before they finish training.

Laura, a new team member, has stayed alive longer than most. Now, she’s the last—and only—sweeper standing between the city and a massive infestation.

Comment in the post to enter!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States and D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec). To enter, comment on this post beginning at 3:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on October 18th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on October 22nd. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Tor.com, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

Delicate Magics: Sylvia Townsend Warner’s Kingdoms of Elfin

At the entrance to the town they put on visibility. It made them no warmer, and impaired their self-esteem.

In the last decade of her life, author Sylvia Townsend Warner (1893-1978) told an interviewer that “I want to write about something different.”

That different turned out to be fairy tales. Warner had played with themes of magic and enchantment in her work before, and always had an interest in folklore, but for this project, she tried something a bit different: interconnected stories of other and fairy. Most were published in The New Yorker from 1972-1975, and collected in the last book printed in Warner’s lifetime: Kingdoms of Elfin (1976). Regrettably out of print for decades, the collection is now being reissued by Handheld Press, with a foreward by Greer Gilman, an introduction by Ingrid Hotz-Davies, and extensive footnotes by Kate McDonald.

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Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award Opens Submissions for Second Year Honoring Speculative Fiction

After a successful inaugural year, The Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth College has announced the 2019 Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards. Established in 2017, the award honors speculative fiction works in book form (debuts and otherwise) as well as plays. It also recognizes the relationship between science and the arts, the latter which the award website describes as “[a]cting as gadfly for the good, provocateur and satirist when the sciences overreach, but also far-seeing prophets of scientific potential.”

The inaugural winners were Juan Martinez for Best Worst American (in the debut category), Lavie Tidhar’s Central Station and Corinne Duyvis’ On the Edge of Gone (in the open book category), and Jessica Andrewartha’s play Choices People Make.

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Five Books About Heroes Who Shouldn’t Babysit Your Kitten

Who doesn’t like kittens? Kittens are what cats used to be before the irony of a two-legged universe got to them, making them the moody judgmental purring balls of fur they are today. Kittens are fun. Kittens are daring. Kittens are little evil feline ninjas with razor teeth and spikey claws. Kittens wake up every morning and treat the world like it’s their own personal frat house and the air is spiked with catnip. I love kittens. I also love me righteous protagonists in books and comics. So, I was wondering the other day—I’d trust these folks to save the world, but would I trust them to babysit a kitten?

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Series: Five Books About…

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