Tor.com content by

Keith R.A. DeCandido

Fiction and Excerpts [4]
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Fiction and Excerpts [4]

“I have a parasite” — Venom

The two Marc Webb-directed Amazing Spider-Man movies—particularly the second one—did a lot of work to set up a “Spider-Man Cinematic Universe.” Sony went ahead and green-lit a bunch of spinoff movie projects featuring Spider-characters The Sinister Six, Black Cat, Morbius the Living Vampire, Silver Sable, and Venom.

The whole concept was sent into a tizzy when (a) Amazing Spider-Man 2 did poorly at the box office and critically as well and (b) Spider-Man got absorbed into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But we got a Venom movie in 2018 anyhow.

[“Have you been meditating like I showed you?” “No, I have not. And it does not work.” “It doesn’t work because you don’t give it a chance.” “No, it doesn’t work because I bought a DVD off your cousin and it was in Mandarin.”]

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

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress — Marvel’s Inhumans

Introduced in the pages of Fantastic Four, the Inhumans—a closed community of humans who have super-powers thanks to experimentation by the Kree—have been a part of the Marvel comics universe since the 1960s, though they didn’t really come into their own as anything but supporting characters (mostly in the pages of FF) until their twelve-issue miniseries by Paul Jenkins & Jae Lee debuted in 1998. Since the turn of the century, they’ve become major players in the comics.

Making them part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has proven more problematic.

[This is why nobody invites you to do their birthday toasts…]

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

“Please don’t blow up!” — Fantastic Four (2015)

After 2007’s Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer disappointed mightily at the box office, 20th Century Fox found themselves going back to the drawing board. While they did so, Marvel Studios started their inexorable rise to the top of the box-office charts, and Sony found themselves rebooting Spider-Man following their own 2007 release.

Fox decided to go Sony’s route and reboot Marvel’s first family with a movie that arrived with a thud in 2015.

[“I gotta say, it’s really impressive—” “Thank you.” “—that you nearly destroyed our planet with speaker cable and aluminum foil.” “Yeah, that was an accident.”]

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

“I am not a foolish young girl!” — Sheena

Sheena, Queen of the Jungle was the first comic book to have a female lead, preceding Wonder Woman‘s 1941 debut by a good four years.

A creation of the Eisner/Iger Studio that produced tons of comic books in the 1930s, Sheena debuted in Wags magazine in 1937, and soon thereafter appeared regularly in both Jumbo Comics and her own title. Inspired by the works of W.H. Hudson (whose Rima, the “jungle girl” heroine of his 1904 novel Green Mansions, was an obvious inspiration for Sheena), Edgar Rice Burroughs, Rudyard Kipling, and H. Rider Haggard, Sheena would inspire many jungle queen-type characters.

Twice, Sheena has been adapted into television, in the 1950s starring Irish McCalla and in the 2000s starring Gena Lee Nolin, and between those, there was a movie in 1984.

[You will be welcome in Zukuru! The head man’s locust bean cakes- they will be your locust bean cakes! His fermented buffalo milk will be your fermented buffalo milk!]

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

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch Extra: What We Left Behind

We hereby present this review of the documentary What We Left Behind in the same format as “The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch” by the same author that ran on this site from 2013-2015, and a similar format to the current “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Reread” of the post-finale DS9 fiction.

What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Deep Space Nine
Directed by Ira Steven Behr
Original release date: May 13, 2019
Stardate: n/a

Station log. Ira Steven Behr, the show-runner of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine for most of its run, gets together a massive number of people involved with the show to talk about it on the occasion of the show’s conclusion happening twenty years ago.

[If people aren’t bothered by it or don’t like it, then you’re doing something wrong…]

Series: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch

“It’s our mission that doesn’t make sense” — Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Debuting in a 1967 issue of Pilote magazine in France, the “Valérian et Laureline” science fiction adventures written by Pierre Christin and drawn by Jean-Claude Mézières became an immediate hit in Europe. Chronicling the adventures of square-jawed spatio-temporal agent Valérian and his partner Laureline—a French peasant from the 11th century who travels to the future with Valérian—the stories continued until 2010.

The stories inspired an animated series in 2007, and ten years after that, Luc Besson gave us a feature film version.

[“We know how humans work.” “They’re all so predictable.”]

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

“Should we stop the torture?” — Two Versions of Flash Gordon

In the early 1930s, one of the most successful comic strips was Buck Rogers, produced by the John F. Dille Company. Based on a pair of novellas by Phillip Francis Nowlan published in 1928 and 1929, the strip about a person from the present who finds himself having adventures in the far future proved hugely popular, and King Features Syndicate, one of Dille’s competitors, wanted their own science fiction strip to go with it, and tasked Alex Raymond, one of their staff artists, to come up with something.

Aided by writer Don Moore, Raymond gave them Flash Gordon.

[“What is this?” “Humanity.” “Madness!”]

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

Less Than Valiant Efforts — Two Film Versions of Prince Valiant

Prince Valiant by the great Hal Foster debuted in 1937 as a comic strip. Taking place during the mythical, fictional reign of King Arthur, the strip has chronicled the life of its title character from when he was a boy through to adulthood as a member of the Knights of the Round Table. Eighty-two years later, forty-eight years after Foster’s retirement from the strip due to arthritis, and thirty-seven years after Foster’s death, the strip is still going strong, still appearing weekly in three hundred newspapers. It’s currently written by Mark Schultz and illustrated by Thomas Yeates.

Twice, the strip has been adapted to live-action film, once in the 1950s, and again in the 1990s.

[“Any rules?” “Whoever dies first, loses.”]

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

“You’re the real heroes”—The Boys Season One

Ever since Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons gave us the platonic ideal of deconstructed superheroes with Watchmen, the deconstructed superhero storyline has become its own subgenre. We’ve seen all kinds of takes on it, from Warren Ellis’s cynical Planetary to Mark Waid’s serious Irredeemable to Kurt Busiek’s celebratory Astro City. (Heck, your humble reviewer has also dipped into that subgenre in prose, with the Super City Cops stories.)

In 2006, Garth Ennis (best known for his Vertigo comic Preacher) and Darick Robertson (best known for his work with Ellis on Transmetropolitan) gave us their own deconstructionist take, The Boys.

[“I’m not a murderer.” “That’s all right, I am.”]

“What happens in the Kremlin stays in the Kremlin” — RED 2

RED was a big hit in 2010, so much so that Jon & Erich Hoeber were commissioned to pen a sequel to the Warren Ellis/Cully Hamner comic in January of 2011.

RED 2 was finally released in the summer of 2013, at this point bearing no actual resemblance to the original comic book, instead doubling down on the big action of the first movie.

[“What are you doing kissing this guy?” “Well, I didn’t want to kill him…” “What kind of stupid logic is that?”]

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

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Looking Back at 13 Seasons of Marvel on Netflix

When Daredevil debuted on Netflix in April 2015, it set the geek world afire. Having already conquered movie theaters with the various members of the Avengers, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was now taking its more ground-level heroes and trying to do the same on streaming television.

While it started out fantastic—with the first seasons of DD, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage in particular achieving greatness on multiple levels—it petered out pretty quickly. Part of it was some weaker entrants (Iron Fist season one), part of it was sophomore seasons unable to live up to their debuts (DD and JJ’s second seasons were both steps downward), and a huge part of it was Netflix losing interest in partnering with Marvel once Disney announced their own streaming service. As a result, The Punisher season two and Jessica Jones season three were released this year with minimal fanfare or buzz, feeling for all the world like Netflix was releasing them solely to fulfill contracts.

With the third season of JJ bringing this corner of the MCU to a close, let’s take a look back at the baker’s dozen of seasons we got out of it.

[SPOILERS FOR ALL THIRTEEN SEASONS OF MARVEL’S NETFLIX SERIES BELOW!]

11 Thoughts on Marvel’s Phase 4 Announcements at San Diego

On Saturday in Hall H at Comic-Con International in San Diego, Marvel Studios had their panel. Amazingly, up until now, we’ve had no idea what the next batch of Marvel movies were going to be. We knew some details—that Black Widow was finally happening, that there would probably be an Eternals movie, that Taika Waititi was directing another Thor film—but nothing concrete. When I saw Spider-Man: Far from Home in the theater there were no trailers for any superhero films at all, which is unusual, to say the least.

This rather impressive security on the future of the most popular film series in the history of the world is finally no longer necessary, as Kevin Feige announced not just the next batch of movies, but also what will be coming on the small screen on the forthcoming Disney+ service.

Here’s Tor.com’s full run-down of the full set of announcements Feige made at San Diego on Saturday, and here are some of my thoughts on these announcements…

[SPOILERS FOR AVENGERS: ENDGAME AND SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME LIE BELOW HERE! DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU!]

“You just had your ass handed to you by a goddamn retiree” — RED

Homage Comics was created in 1995 as an imprint of WildStorm Comics, itself one of the studios under the umbrella of Image Comics. Homage—named after the studio to which WildStorm founder Jim Lee belonged—was focused on writer-centered works. Image was famously artist-centric, as it was founded by a bunch of artists who hired writers to script their work. Homage, though, featured work developed by Kurt Busiek (Astro City), Jeff Mariotte (Desperadoes), James Robinson (Leave it to Chance), Terry Moore (Strangers in Paradise), and Warren Ellis, whose RED was a three-issue series with art by Cully Hamner published in 2003.

WildStorm was later made part of DC Comics, and RED was optioned for a film after Warner Bros. (who has first refusal on all DC properties) passed on it.

[“Is that my bag?” “Yeah.” “You—you packed it?” “Yes.” “D-did you vacuum?” “A little, yeah, it was messy.”]

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

The MCU’s Spidey Is a Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man that Looks Like His Neighborhood

Spider-Man has always been inextricably linked with New York City. From his very first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15, he’s been a city kid, though that he was actually in the Big Apple wasn’t specified until later. (Marvel’s earliest superhero comics tended to take place in generic, unidentified cities, or in “Central City” or the like…)

Some of Spidey’s most iconic moments have been part of the city that never sleeps, most notably Gwen Stacy’s death on the Brooklyn Bridge (or the George Washington Bridge, depending on whether you believe the art or the script, though the story really only makes sense at the former, given the geography).

But while his surroundings have always looked like NYC, his supporting cast has never quite lived up to it—at least until the Marvel Cinematic Universe…

[He looks out for the neighborhood, has a dope suit, and I really respect him. … ‘Sup, dickwad?]

“Get off my plains!” — Cowboys & Aliens

Platinum Studios released Cowboys & Aliens in 2006. The storyline, conceived by Platinum’s Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, had been in development since 1997, both as a graphic novel and as a film. Universal and Dreamworks bought the rights to the concept, which Rosenberg eventually put out as a 105-page graphic novel written by Fred Van Lente and Andrew Foley, with art by Dennis Calero and Luciano Lima.

The movie finally came out in 2011.

[“If it’s all the same, I’d like to ride along, too.” “Yes, ma’am. Got a kid and a dog, why not a woman?”]

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

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