Ruh-Roh! Scooby Apocalypse!

Panel selection from Scooby-Doo Apocalypse #4. Illustrated by Howard Porter with colors by Hi-Fi. Screencap via the author.

Panel selection from Scooby-Doo Apocalypse #4. Illustrated by Howard Porter with colors by Hi-Fi. Screencap via the author.

The big news in comics this week is the leak that Disney Channel star Zendaya may be cast as the role of Spider-Man’s long-time love interest, Mary Jane Watson, in an upcoming reboot. And, in the most pathetic corners of Twitter, comic nerds are crying out because “Mary Jane can’t be black.” This is the worst of what comic/nerd/fandom culture can be, and anytime some “controversy” like this crops up, it makes one want to drop their trade paperbacks, shelve their video game systems, and run for the hills. For all the work that Marvel’s doing to amp up its diversity and push toward inclusion, there’s still, culturally, in a big-picture sense, a very long way to go. But it has to start at the top, and casting Zendaya in this role is another good, smart, bold step in the right direction.

As for this week in comic books, the best are strangely about horror, possession, apocalyptic stories…and Scooby-Doo.

Cover for Scooby Apocalypse #4. Cover illustrated by Jim Lee with Alex Sinclair. Photo courtesy DC Comics.

Cover for Scooby Apocalypse #4. Cover illustrated by Jim Lee with Alex Sinclair. Photo courtesy DC Comics.

How’s this for a premise? Scooby-Doo, Shaggy, Velma, Daphne, and Fred all live in the near-future where a plague of nanobots have turned humans into bloodthirsty creatures inspired by classic movie monsters. In this verison of Scooby-Doo, Scoob can talk because he’s a cybernetically enhanced “Smart Dog,” Daphne and Fred are kickass documentarians that can handle huge rifles, Velma’s a super-scientist, and Shaggy has a twirly moustache. This issue sees the crew learning to work together as they’re chased from point to point. Dialogue heavy, this comic should please fans of Scooby-Doo and The Walking Dead.

Oh, I must have these. Why yes, I love Scoobert. Sparrow and Crowe: The Demoniac of Los Angeles #1, Broken Moon: Legends of the Deep #1, B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth #144 (from the pages of Hellboy) are also covered at The Creators Project, and they all look grand!

Gandalf Doesn’t Do Weddings.

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Ian McKellen says he turned down $1.5m (£1.14m) to officiate at Napster billionaire Sean Parker’s wedding dressed as Gandalf the wizard.

McKellen, who played the character in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, didn’t know the source of the offer when he was asked to marry Parker and his wife, singer Alexandra Lenas. The request came via a mutual acquaintance of Parker and McKellen’s, according to the Mail on Sunday. McKellen said he would have considered the offer if Parker hadn’t stipulated that he come in character.

“I don’t go dressing up, except in plays and things,” McKellen said. “So I said, ‘I am sorry, Gandalf doesn’t do weddings.’”

[…]

Even though Gandalf didn’t marry Parker,the real McKellen may be available for weddings: the actor qualified as a celebrant in 2013, which allowed him to officiate the civil wedding of actor Patrick Stewart and musician Sunny Ozell.

Via The Guardian.

Marvel Fan-Fiction and Scottish Indies.

Cover for All-New, All-Different Avengers Annual #1. Illustrated by Alex Ross. Photo courtesy of Marvel Comics.

Cover for All-New, All-Different Avengers Annual #1. Illustrated by Alex Ross. Photo courtesy of Marvel Comics.

‘Annual’ releases exist in a strange place in the comic world. Created as a way to tell a different story in a series without interrupting the main plotline or numbering, some see annuals as a marketing gimmick. But, as evidenced by All-New, All-Different Avengers Annual #1, they can be a bold chance to think outside the box. This issue sees everyone’s favorite teen from Jersey City, Ms. Marvel, logging onto her favorite fan-fiction website to write some stories about her fellow heroes. Once logged on, she sees that other people have written stories about her and her friends, and she’s shocked but compelled to read on. The rest of this comic, then, are those fan-fiction stories of Marvel heroes. Layered, and with plenty of goofiness and a variety of styles, this annual does exactly what it should: it tells weird stories the regular comics certainly couldn’t.

[Read more…]

Star Trek: Discovery. There is Hope.

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It’s early days yet, but there’s hope for a more inclusive Trek in the news series, Discovery, which is set 10 years before the original series. A female lead has been promised, however, she will not be the captain. Sigh. So, not all that great on the inclusive front, but a bit better. There’s noise about a Black female lead, but the role has not been cast. At least one LGBT member has been promised as well, but it would be nice if these roles were more than tokens, after all, it is the 21st century.

When Star Trek (briefly) returns to TV screens next January, it’ll be with a women in the lead position, a crew full of aliens, and at least one gay character, presenting a utopian, space-faring future that sounds like an actual nightmare held by the sort of people set to vote for Donald Trump. CBS announced the first character details for Bryan Fuller’s upcoming Star Trek: Discoveryset to debut on the network in January 2017, before moving to CBS’s online All Access service—today at a Television Critics Association press tour event. And while we still don’t know much about the composition of the show’s crew, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter are both reporting that the series’ lead will be female—but not the captain of her ship.

A.V. Club has the full story.

ZAPP presents…Famous Trump Quotations!

Nothing else today will be anywhere near as cool as this gift from Billy West, so this is Cool Stuff Friday. :D

MAKE AMERICA BRANNIGAN!

No Wands for the Harry Potterfied Muggles.

 Richard Carter of Mystical Moments who sells magic wands in Huddersfield but has banned Harry Potter fans Credit: Ben Lack Photography Ltd.

Richard Carter of Mystical Moments who sells magic wands in Huddersfield but has banned Harry Potter fans Credit: Ben Lack Photography Ltd.

Okay…might want to pad your desk or start some eyeroll protection here.

A shop which makes magic wands for real life witches and wizards has been blasted by Harry Potter fans for refusing to serve them. The business, called Mystical Moments, is making a name for itself in the wizarding world by supplying wands to cast healing spells and charms for good luck.

But wand-maker Richard Carter says he is selling “spiritual tools” – not toys for young Muggles – and he is barring Hogwarts fans. The wands can be used to draw protective circles to ward off dark forces while owners meditate, bring them money, and help them find love. They can also be used to cure aches and pains and stress, speed a sick relative’s recovery or wish for happiness, courage or physical strength.

Local mystic Mr Carter, 57, spends whole days standing at his lathe in a trance lovingly crafting each wand and anointing them with oil. He says he does not know one end of a lathe from another and works while controlled by the spirits in his shop in Slaithwaite village, near Huddersfield.

He says all you need is faith in the product for it to work wonders – literally.

Riiiight. I’ve been around lathes. You definitely need to know one end from another, because if you don’t, that’s a good way to lose bits of your body you just might be fond of, and I doubt any spirit is overly concerned about that particular problem. Lathes aren’t exactly the cheapest tool around, either, but Mr. Carter just happens to have a tool he can’t use at all in his shop.

[…] In the few months the shop has been open, sandwiched between a church charity shop and shabby chic store on the village’s high street, it has attracted sorcerers from all over the country. But Richard says he only wants to attract true believers in magic and can detect Hogwarts fans wanting his wands for their collections of memorabilia by their aura. He said: “JK Rowling has obviously done her research but Harry Potter is for children. It has done nothing for business.

“You wouldn’t believe how many real witches and wizards there are knocking about. You would be amazed. They know they can come here in reveal themselves without people thinking they’re mental. “I don’t have customers who have been Harry Potterfied. If I had someone come in wanting a wand just because they liked Harry Potter I would not sell them one, not matter how much money they were offering.

“I can tell what people are like when they walk in by their aura.” He would also spot dark wizards and witches the same way and will not sell wands to those wanting to hex other people or perform curses.

Oooh, are they Death Eaters, maybe?

Former textile worker Mr Carter, opened the shop in April with partner and fellow spiritualist Jackie Restall, 43. He claims he does not make a penny out the wants, costing £15 to £25, which he uses to spread the spiritual message.

Different types of wood give each wand different magical properties – oak for strength and courage, yew for those seeking immortality and rebirth, sweet chestnut for love and healing, elm for balance and calm, sycamore for boosting feminine intuition, and mahogany for spiritual growth.

He says: “I have no training in woodwork. I use spiritual guidance and don’t know how any of the wands will turn out. All you need for them to work is faith.”

Jackie said: “Personally, I’m a big Harry Potter fan but I’m afraid it is just about escapism so I respect Richard’s views.”

Zak Cohen, 20, President of York University Potter fan club, the HP Muggle Society, said: “I don’t know what our members will make of this. “My personal view is it’s a bit weird to say the least. I can understand they don’t want it treated as a joke. “But I did not think it was allowed for a shop to say they won’t sell things to a specific group of people. “If they sold to Harry Potter fans, rather than just equipping real witches and wizards, they would sell loads more wands and we wouldn’t treat them like toys.”

GP Taylor, the former Yorkshire vicar turned fantasy author, said: “Magic wands do work by being a focus for your inner desires and powers. “But I think this is terrible. Harry Potter fans should be served. They are going crazy over the Cursed Child and need their wands. It is discrimination against Potter fans. They should go to court for justice.”

The full story is here.

The Mystery Superhero In Wonder Woman Is…

EUGENE BRAVE ROCK

EUGENE BRAVE ROCK

Eeeeeeeeeeee, much excitement!

Eugene Brave Rock is the mysterious Native American hero in the highly-anticipated Wonder Woman movie to be released in 2017. But who will he be playing? Sadly, we still don’t know because Brave Rock isn’t allowed to tell us…at least not yet.

[…]

Back in March, ICTMN revealed a key moment in the Batman vs. Superman movie in which Bruce Wayne sees a photograph on his computer with Wonder Woman standing next to a mysterious Native American man (and three other soldiers) in an image from World War I. (See :57 seconds into below video)

To date, there is little to no information online about the character. We can only speculate that he might be one of the the characters either Apache Chief or Lone Shadow which has appeared in Justice League comics and cartoons.

Eugene Brave Rock spoke with ICTMN, and shared one bit of information. “I am only allowed to say I was in London for five months filming the Wonder Woman movie. That is all I am allowed to say,” said Brave Rock. He does add, “It was an amazing experience.”

That’s it. No spoilers, no character name, no insider news … that’s all Eugene Brave Rock could tell us. He says everything about his part is top secret. “When I was auditioning, they didn’t even tell me it was for Wonder Woman.”

Brave Rock did say that director Patty Jenkins — the first female director of a major DC franchise movie — and DC Comics were extremely respectful of Brave Rock’s Native heritage.

“DC really let me have a voice. Usually movies have a lot of do’s and dont’s and they tell you you have to do things a certain way, but in this case, even with wardrobe, it was awesome. In the end, they let me decide a lot about my character. Previously, movies have even told me how I had to braid my hair, and you don’t have a choice – but this was not the case.”

Vincent Schilling at ICTMN has the full story.

A Gaming Leaf.

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People who are taking their gaming very seriously apparently want a serious table upon which to gather around, one that’s purpose-built and optimized for immersive gaming. But while building or buying a table might appeal to many, having a dedicated gaming table is not an option for many of us.

Gamer Peter Hicks, of the Beer and Battle podcast, solved this problem in a decidedly 21st century way by building a gaming leaf for his regular dining room table that incorporates a flat-screen computer monitor. By serving maps, terrain, and other game materials to the monitor, the dining room table becomes anything Peter wants it be. This is a really clever and reasonably inexpensive (you can get very cheap flat screen displays these days) way to create a unique group gaming experience.

[…]

Peter built the frame for his gaming leaf at his local TechShop in Chandler, AZ. He used cheap Home Depot 2×4’s for the frame and built it based on the dimensions of the table whose leaf it was replacing. The display used is a Dell 27″ IPS monitor (which is not cheap). Peter says he chose that display specifically because of its use of tempered glass.

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The finished table in action, with a flotilla of tablets and future phones around it to provide additional gaming data to players and the DM. In terms of what software is used, Peter says that while several of the other DMs he plays with use other means to operate the display, he uses GIMP. With it, he layers the rooms and handouts so that he can show only what he wants to, creating a satisfying sort of fog of war vibe.

There’s much more, article and photos at Make. You can see more of Peter’s game table inserts on this Instagram #bettergamingthroughtechnology tag.

Meet Chalice, Transgender Comic Hero.

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For the most part, comic books have always kept relatively quiet in a self-contained corner of the entertainment landscape. It’s one of the most inclusive forms of media, dating back to the original X-Men being one big allegory for minorities of all kinds, looked down upon by society and forced to live as second class citizens.

Now, living in the most socially progressive age to date, comic books have flourished, their ever-present trend of inclusion benefiting from the change in global tone regarding the LGBT community, people of color, and other historically underappreciated groups.

In Alters, the first-ever superhero book with a central transgender protagonist by a mainstream writer (Paul Jenkins), a young woman, while transitioning from male to female, discovers she has great power. Now, faced with the discrimination transgender people face on top of that those with mutant-like powers face, life becomes doubly complicated.

The diversity in Alters is also found off the pages, in the team behind creating its main character, Chalice. “It means a lot to me to see trans people represented, especially so prominently,” said Tamra Bonnvillain, a trans colorist for Alters. “So many times in the past we’ve been represented as throwaway characters, and even a lot of more recent positive trans characters are in minor roles.”

Alters #1 goes on sale September 7.

Via Out.

Comic-Con Trailers!

So much fun stuff!

Justice League:

Aquaman is lookin’ rather hot.

Kong: Skull Island.

I don’t want to see this, I hated King Kong when I was a kid, and here we go again, Giant ape, guns, explosions, napalm, all that shit. But, Tom Hiddleston…

Suicide Squad – Comic-Con First Look.

Waiting, waiting waiting. So looking forward to this one.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Comic-Con Trailer.

Oh, I am such a sucker for this kind of thing.

Wonder Woman!

YES! Yes, yes, yes.

Aaaaaaaaaaand, a sequel to The Blair Witch Project (we’re going to pretend that 2nd flick never happened):

Blair Witch.

And PZ picked up one I missed: Marvel’s Luke Cage!

Cool Stuff Friday.

bubbletree

In the I wish I was filthy rich department, Bubble!

French designer Pierre Stephane Dumas has created a range of portable transparent huts, offering a quiet space to retreat to. The idea behind his Bubble collection was to create a temporary leisure accommodation that had the least impact on the surrounding environment, whilst also giving the impression of being amongst nature.

“I designed this eccentric shelter with the goal to offer an unusual experience under the stars while keeping all the comfort of a bedroom suite,” says Dumas. “Bubble huts are for me like an ataraxic catalyst, a place apart where getting rest, breathing and standing back”.

Additionally, the unique design and geometry of the Bubble creates a silencing acoustic effect. “Noises coming from the outside are reduced and noises coming from the inside echo towards the sphere’s hub. This echo drives people to speak quietly bringing about a feeling of appeasement favorable to have a nap,” explains Dumas.

You can read about and see more here.

An 8-year-old boy dug up this fossilized turtle that scientists believe helps explain the turtle's earliest uses of its shell (Credit: Wits University)

An 8-year-old boy dug up this fossilized turtle that scientists believe helps explain the turtle’s earliest uses of its shell (Credit: Wits University)

Every young boy has spent at least one afternoon digging a hole in the ground looking for some kind of treasure. An eight-year-old from South Africa was doing just that when he unearthed a turtle fossil that could help scientists understand the original purpose and evolution of the turtle’s shell.

A group of scientists from parts of the world including South Africa, Switzerland and the United States conducted a study on several early turtle fossils including a fossil discovered by an 8-year-old Kobus Snyman on his father’s farm in the Western Cape of South Africa. The study that took place at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg found that early turtles may have used their shells for burrowing instead of for protection from potential predators.

The 5.9 inch (15 cm) long turtle fossil discovered by Snyman contains a preserved skeleton with articulated hands and feet. The study published in the journal Current Biology also examined several turtle fossils found in the Karoo Basin of South Africa including a partially shelled proto-turtle that’s 260 million years old.

Full story here.

Last, but not least, Tooooooooooooooys! Oh, the toys. Want. Seriously want Iron Giant, because if anyone brings the cool, it’s Iron Giant:

sideshow-irongiant-withs-closeup

and Groot! GROOT.

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And Deadpool. Hulk vs Wolverine. Catwoman. And So. Much. More. 3 pages of toys. See them all here.