Tor.com content by

Keith R.A. DeCandido

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

“Thought everything was supposed to be bigger in America” — Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Kingsman: The Secret Service was a hit in 2015—against some fairly stiff competition all told, as that was the year of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jurassic World, Avengers: The Age of Ultron, Inside Out, Furious 7, Minions, Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation, Spectre, and tons more popular movies.

But it still stood out enough for a sequel to be greenlit.

[So you can take your cheap horse piss that you call whisky, which, by the way, is spelled without an “e” and is nothing compared to a single-malt Scotch…]

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

“This ain’t that kind of movie” — Kingsman: The Secret Service

In 2012, Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons released The Secret Service, a creator-owned comic book miniseries published by Marvel that was more or less a 2010s version of a 1960s British spy thriller.

It proved hugely popular, and it was optioned by Matthew Vaughn, who had already successfully adapted another Millar-written comic, Kick-Ass, into a couple of films.

[Martini. Gin, not vodka, obviously. Stirred for 10 seconds while glancing at an unopened bottle of vermouth. Thank you.]

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

Even the Losers Get Unlucky — The Losers

The first comic book series called The Losers was a feature in war comics published by DC in the early 1970s, with writer Robert Kanigher gathering up several characters who’d appeared in previous war comics to form a team that fought for the allies in World War II.

In 2003, writer Andy Diggle and artist Jock teamed up to create a modern-day Losers comic for DC’s Vertigo imprint, this time featuring a rogue special-ops team working for the U.S. government, until they’re betrayed.

In 2010, a film adaptation of the latter comic was released.

[“She’s got a gun and it’s pointed at my dick! Clay, it’s pointed at my dick!” “Would you rather it was pointed at your face?” “I know it makes no sense, but yes!”]

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

Avengers: Endgame — The Character Assassination of Steve Rogers?

The final fate of Captain America in Avengers: Endgame has proven to be a source of confusion for viewers, fans, and even the filmmakers.

While it seems that most of the people who want to see the movie have seen it, based on box-office figures, there are still people out there who wish to see the movie who have not yet. (My mother is one of them, as it happens.)

So in the interest of fairness, we’re putting in some spoiler space before we get down to whether or not Endgame’s ending for the star-spangled Avenger was a total assassination of the character of Steve Rogers.

[SPOILERS FOR AVENGERS: ENDGAME LIE BELOW HERE!]

“This rotten town…” — Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

While Sin City was a huge hit in 2005, and a sequel was green-lit almost instantly, it took the better part of nine years for the sequel to be made. The intent was always to adapt the miniseries A Dame to Kill For, which was the first Sin City miniseries by Frank Miller that Dark Horse published following the feature’s successful run in Dark Horse Presents.

Delays occurred due in part to money not being forthcoming from the Weinstein Company, in part due to both Miller (The Spirit) and his co-director Robert Rodriguez (Grindhouse, the Machete films) having other projects.

[Nobody’s killing anybody. Not while I’m around.]

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

“Is that the best you can do?” — Sin City

By 1991, Frank Miller could pretty much write his own ticket in the comics industry. He almost single-handedly turned Daredevil from an obscure Spider-Man wannabe title on the verge of cancellation into one of the “it” books of the 1980s. He then told two Batman stories (The Dark Knight Returns and “Batman: Year One”) that have continued to be among the most influential Bat-stories ever told three decades later.

A fallout with DC over a ratings system led to Miller starting a relationship with Dark Horse Comics, and it was with them that he debuted Sin City in 1991.

[I take away his weapon—both of them.]

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

Blaise of No Glory — Modesty Blaise and My Name is Modesty

British writer Peter O’Donnell created the Modesty Blaise comic strip in 1963, in part out of a desire to see a female hero who is just as capable as any of the male heroes that led most popular fiction of the day. Teaming with artist Jim Holdaway, the strip was extremely popular in Europe and around the world—pretty much everywhere except the United States. It ran until 2001.

The character was popular enough to spawn spinoffs, including a movie in 1966, an attempt at a TV series, and a 2004 movie, not to mention a series of books. None of the screen versions quite hit the mark, though…

[“I am the villain of the piece. I have to condemn you.” “But I am the heroine. Don’t I get away?”]

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

“Contact Dick Tracy at once” — RKO’s Dick Tracy Features

While he’s pretty much a pop-culture footnote in the 21st century, Dick Tracy was a household name in the 20th. Created by Chester Gould for the eponymous comic strip in 1931, Dick Tracy saw the hard-boiled detective stop a bunch of over-the-top criminals with cutting-edge technology. Gould foresaw the advent of smart-watches with Tracy’s “two-way wrist radio,” and the character was hugely popular.

It wasn’t long before Tracy was adapted to the big screen, first with movie serials in the 1930s and then four one-hour feature films in the 1940s.

[“Do you think I’m dumb?” “Well, we won’t go into that…”]

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

Hooray for Licensed Fiction! Part Deux — Yet Still More Star Trek Discovery Stories to Tide You Over until Season 3

While CBS has not announced when season three of Star Trek Discovery will launch on their All-Access platform, we do know, at the very least, that there will be more Star Trek before that, as there are a couple of shows in development, most notably the as-yet-untitled Jean-Luc Picard series, which has just started production and should be live some time around the end of the year, if all goes well.

And, of course, there’s always licensed fiction. Both Simon & Schuster in prose form and IDW in comics form have new Discovery content in the hopper.

[Hey kids, comics! And books!]

“I came to save my home” — Aquaman

Aquaman first appeared in More Fun Comics #73, published in 1941, and he continued to appear in that comic until 1946, when he was shifted to Adventure Comics. He’s one of the few superheroes who continued to have his adventures published regularly through the 1950s, when the popularity of superhero comics was waning.

He was also the butt of jokes for a long time after his run in the animated Super Friends series where he came across as the weak link of the team. Then he was rebooted in the 1980s by Robert Loren Fleming and in the 1990s by Peter David as a force to be reckoned with. Thirty years ago, casting someone who looks and acts like Jason Momoa as Aquaman would have been laughed out of the room, but in the 2010s, it made sense.

[I could’ve just peed on it.]

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

Avengers: Endgame Is Filled with References to Every Previous MCU Film: Let’s Find Them All

Avengers: Endgame is an impressive finale for the first season of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. …Okay, it’s not really a TV show, but producer Kevin Feige has done a remarkable job of combining the comic-book model of a shared universe of superheroes with the show-runner model of a television show to create a series of interconnected movies. What’s especially impressive is not only that he’s kept it up for 22 movies over eleven years, but that everyone who’s tried to copy it so far has failed (The Mummy, The Amazing Spider-Man, the DC Extended Universe).

Endgame both finished out this chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and set up the next batch of shows and movies. To that end, Endgame manages to include references of one kind or another to every single previous MCU film. Seriously, it’s stunning.

Let’s take them one by one, shall we?

[SPOILERS FOR AVENGERS: ENDGAME LIE BELOW!]

Stupor Friends — Justice League

The notion of superheroes teaming up is almost as old as superheroes, as the Justice Society of America, which initially put Doctor Fate, Hour-Man, the Spectre, Hawkman, and the Golden Age versions of Green Lantern, the Flash, the Atom, and the Sandman together in the third issue of All-Star Comics, was created by Gardner Fox in 1940.

The JSA feature ended with the last issue of All-Star Comics in 1951, but when Fox and Julius Schwartz revived the National Periodical Publications (what DC was called then) superhero lineup in the late 1950s, they eventually brought most of them together in the Justice League of America, which debuted in The Brave and the Bold #28 in 1960, and featured Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Martian Manhunter, and the new versions of the Flash and Green Lantern. They’ve been the flagship DC team ever since.

[Did you ever fight a hippo?]

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

Fight for the Future — Star Trek: Discovery Second Season Overview

Throughout the first season of Star Trek: Discovery, there was some obvious tension between the show that Bryan Fuller originally envisioned, and the one that was actually developed by his successors, Gretchen J. Berg & Aaron Harberts, after he and the show parted ways.

This was not always a smooth process, and Berg & Harberts seemed determined in season two to correct many of the issues with season one.

But then Berg & Harberts and the show parted ways, and their successors were faced with a similar dilemma.

[You’re a Starfleet Captain. You believe in service, sacrifice, compassion, and love.]

End All Wars — Wonder Woman (2017)

Both Wonder Woman and Captain America were created in the days just prior to the United States’ entry into World War II. Both had costumes that evoked the red-white-and-blue of the American flag, and both spent their earliest days in comic book form fighting the Axis powers.

While Wonder Woman wasn’t specifically created to punch Nazis the way Cap was, the character continued to be associated with her WWII-era origins, in part due to the 1977 TV series initially taking place then. So when it came time to do a movie for her as part of DC’s Extended Universe, the powers-that-be decided to shift her back to the first World War to avoid comparisons to Captain America: The First Avenger.

[“You lied to me?” “I’m a spy, it’s what I do!”]

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

The Director of Your Opponent’s Fate — Star Trek: Discovery’s “Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2”

There is a lot to like about the second-season finale of Discovery. It’s a massive thrill ride, with lots of action and adventure and which finally tells us where the signals came from.

And then we get to the ending, and I found it incredibly frustrating and irritating, and not just because Ethan Peck looks incredibly creepy without the beard…

Okay, let’s start with the good stuff: I was completely gripped by the action in this episode. Whether the space battle involving the Enterprise and Discovery (and later L’Rell’s flagship and the Kelpien/Ba’ul fleet) against Control’s drones, Georgiou and Nhan’s leading Zombie Leland on a merry chase through Discovery‘s corridors, Cornwell, Pike, and Number One trying to disarm the photon torpedo stuck in the hull, or Burnham and Spock trying to get their red angel suit to work right, the script by Michelle Paradise, Jenny Lumet, & Alex Kurtzman and the directing by Olatunde Osunsami kept me on the edge of my seat for an hour.

[“I’m going, I’m going, get off my ass. Sir! Get off my ass sir!”]

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