Marvel and Sony Team Up for Next Spider-Man Movie

As someone who cared so little about the most recent Amazing Spider-Man movie that I haven’t even seen it yet, I have mixed feelings about the news that Sony Pictures (who has the wall-crawler’s movie rights) will be teaming up with Marvel Studios on the next film.

Spider-Man art

I do want the character to be a success, because I like fun superhero movies, and Spider-Man is the poster child for wisecracking. I hope that they don’t feel the need to make yet another origin story, though. And I will miss Andrew Garfield, who seemed to have a great handle on the character, but at 31, he’s considered too old. (I’ll miss Emma Stone even more.) One of Marvel’s biggest strengths has been its cross-continuity, and this decision expands the Cinematic Universe in a significant way.

Spider-Man will be appearing in a Marvel movie before a new film comes from Sony on July 28, 2017. (Moviemaking: they have a release date but no star, script, or creative staff.) The “new creative direction” will be produced by Marvel’s Kevin Feige (who’s been the guiding force behind Marvel’s current successful slate) and Amy Pascal (former head of Sony Pictures who recently left). Thankfully, Avi Arad is gone, bumped upstairs to executive producer.

The Spider-Man movie means future Marvel films will be shifted back in a domino effect:

MovieOld DateNew Date
Thor: RagnarokJuly 28, 2017November 3, 2017
Black PantherNovember 3, 2017July 6, 2018
Captain MarvelJuly 6, 2018November 2, 2018
InhumansNovember 2, 2018July 12, 2019

The two Avengers: Infinity War movies will keep their May dates in 2018 and 2019.

Shout! Factory Launches Free Streaming Service

Shout! Factory has launched Shout! Factory TV, a new digital entertainment streaming service available on computer, connected devices, and via Roku. And it’s free!

Shout! Factory TV logo

They’ll be showing “cult TV shows, movies, comedy, original specials, and more” with the following titles available now or soon:

· MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 (beginning with over 30 episodes)
· THE WEIRD AL SHOW
· IT’S GARRY SHANDLING’S SHOW
· FATHER KNOWS BEST
· DENNIS THE MENACE
· THE MANY LOVES OF DOBIE GILLIS
· THE SAINT
· FRIDAYS
· Gerry Anderson collection (hand-picked episodes from Thunderbirds, Stingray, Captain Scarlet, Fireball XL5, Joe 90, and Supercar)
· Steve Martin Stand-Up Show Case, featuring STEVE MARTIN: COMEDY IS NOT PRETTY & STEVE MARTIN: WILD AND CRAZY GUY
· THE ERNIE KOVACS SHOW
· Roger Corman’s Cult Classics (select movie titles)
· The Marx Brother’s A NIGHT IN CASABLANCA
· Award-winning films such as THE LONG VOYAGE HOME (John Wayne), THE STUNT MAN (Peter O’Toole, Steve Railsback, Barbara Hershey), STAGECOACH (John Wayne), Bruce Beresford’s BREAKER MORANT (Jack Thompson), and THE RULING CLASS (Peter O’Toole)

That’s a bunch of stuff I wouldn’t mind watching! Particularly Dobie Gillis and MST3K (which I haven’t seen enough of). Find out more in this promo video:

Birdman Out on DVD Next Week

Birdman, the quirky independent film nominated for nine Oscars, will be coming to home video next week. It stars Michael Keaton as an actor, previously known for playing a superhero, trying to launch a Broadway play. The movie was directed, written, and produced by Alejandro González Iñárritu.

I’ve been curious about it, but I didn’t get to see it in its limited run. Did anyone watch it? Did you like it? The cast, which includes Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, and Naomi Watts seems particularly interesting, although I’m a little leery of artists making pieces about making art. And I’m more interested in the “shaking the superhero stigma” piece than the “coming to terms with his family” aspects.

The Blu-ray and DVD will have an “all-access” special feature as well as a gallery of on-set photos by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. The Blu-ray will also feature “a conversation with Michael Keaton and Alejandro G. Iñárritu”.

Let’s Watch Some Marvel Trailers

Marvel has released an ad for the return of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on March 3 that emphasizes the women on the show.

Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) is awesome (because she’s basically Wolverine), and I like deadpan Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg — not in this trailer), but … while I want to see more of Mockingbird (Adrianne Palicki — have they called her that yet?), I don’t want to see Skye (Chloe Bennet) get powers, and too many of the plot twists are predictably overdone. Also, the show has had too many killings for cheap drama, in my opinion.

Highlighting the women ties into Agent Carter, which has been in the same timeslot for the winter. I like that retro show much better — it’s got a stronger viewpoint, more interesting characters, faster pacing, and wonderful chemistry, as you can see in this interview clip with Hayley Atwell (who plays Peggy Carter) and James D’Arcy (Edwin Jarvis). (Ignore the drippy interviewer.)

As for Daredevil, coming April 10 on Netflix and starring Charlie Cox, this teaser trailer is too dark, gritty, and bloody for my tastes, but it’s nice to see that they’re acknowledging his Catholic background in the confession narration setup. This won’t get me to subscribe to the service, but the Jessica Jones show might.

Moving to movies, there’s a trailer for the Fantastic Four relaunch, which comes to theaters in August.

It seems to be going for a majestic feel, which nicely balances the younger age of its stars — Miles Teller as Reed Richards, Kate Mara as Sue Storm, Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm, and Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm. (Reminds me of Interstellar, actually.) I’m glad to see Fox willing to shake things up, although I’d like to see more humor, but then, I say that about every superhero project. Cause heroing should be fun, not dire! Maybe that’s coming in a later commercial.

Cover, More Details Released for Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Omnibus

The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Omnibus Volume 1 cover

Dark Horse has now revealed the cover for the upcoming first Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Omnibus. Out in August, the $19.99, 640-page volume will reprint the first two books of the series. (Previously, it was thought to be 3.) If you’re familiar with the series, this cover should look very familiar — it’s the cover to volume 1 with the tagline “your body is their business!” replaced by a banner that says “omnibus edition”.

Although it can be gory, I enjoy the series by Eiji Otsuka and Housui Yamazaki. It’s a very dark comedy about a mis-matched gang of five kids with vague supernatural abilities who get involved with bringing rest to the spirits of corpses. The situations are often pointed in commentary on the modern condition.

Wizard World Madison to Return

Wizard World Madison logo

Looks like the good traffic at Friday’s Wizard World Madison bodes well for the future of the show — according to spokesman Jerry Milani, the show “will be back, dates pending.” “Thousands of fans” attended over the show’s three days. Sadly, I wasn’t able to get back, having caught a cold on Friday that kept me home the rest of the weekend.

An article in today’s paper expands on the experience: “It’s been everything we were hoping for and more,” Milani said. “The crowds have been great and we know that thousands of fans are here and having a great time. That’s our mantra: Give the fans a good time and everything else takes care of itself.”

Empty Rooms Excerpt From New Novel by Jeffrey J. Mariotte

Jeff Mariotte is known for writing a number of Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics and tie-in novels, but under his full name, Jeffrey J. Mariotte, he also writes his own stories. His newest novel, published by WordFire Press, is out tomorrow. Empty Rooms is a “dark thriller” covering “gritty issues that include child abuse and Detroit’s economic woes”.

Empty Rooms by Jeffrey J. Mariotte cover

Empty Rooms introduces Detroit police detective Frank Robey, a comic book-loving former FBI agent-turned-cop whose obsession with the case of a missing child gives him no peace and Richie “Maynard” Krebs, a former cop whose encyclopedic knowledge of crime and criminals colors everything he does. Initially strangers, the two men form an unlikely partnership which becomes a close bond forged by their determination to hold onto their humanity while investigating the most heinous acts one person can do to another.

[Robey is] obsessed with the case of a missing child and unwilling to leave the city before she was found. When Richie unearths a possible clue in one of Detroit’s many abandoned homes, it puts him on a collision course with Frank — and with depths of depravity neither man could have imagined.

How do people who dwell in the darkest places — by profession or predilection — maintain their connection to the world of light and humanity? Richie and Frank will need every coping mechanism at their disposal to survive their descent into darkness and emerge unbroken on the other side.

Mariotte says the novel grew out of his experience writing a true crime book detailing the offenses of dozens of the world’s worst serial killers, sexual predators, cannibals, and other notorious criminals. “In researching that book I was surprised to learn about several times that my life’s path had brought me uncomfortably close to real serial killers, and I suspect that’s true of many people. Spending so much time immersed in the lives of murderers and madmen, I had to do something to pull myself out of that mindset, or I’d become hopelessly depressed. Then it occurred to me that homicide and sex crimes detectives have to deal with the reality of these acts on a daily basis and still stay sane. That realization was the genesis of Empty Rooms.”

Here’s an exclusive excerpt, selected just for us comic fans!


They met at Frank’s house. He had a spare bedroom that he used for a home office, and he kept copies of the Morton files there in white cardboard boxes. He carried in a folding chair for Maynard, and added a card table to spread files out on. The walls were empty, and he had tape and thumbtacks in case they wanted to stick anything up on them.

Richie looked around the house when Frank let him in the front door, just as nosy as any cop. “Nice place,” he said.

“Thanks. Architectural Digest has been beating down my door for years, begging to do a cover story.” He and Tiana had bought the place fifteen years ago, and there was nothing special about it except that he could make the payments. It was a good-sized brick house in the Middle Woodward neighborhood, essentially a two-story rectangle. Tiana had a knack for decorating, but after her death he hadn’t wanted to be surrounded by the things she had left behind, didn’t want to feel like he was living in a dead woman’s shadow. So he had undone many of the touches she had brought to the house and replaced them with his own, which tended toward comic book memorabilia. The result was comfortable, for him, but often made visitors look around for a pre-teen boy.

They went upstairs to the office. Frank took a pair of gold-rimmed glasses from a pocket, unfolded them, and put them on. He pulled the files from the cardboard box, fanning them out on the table. Richie jerked a thumb toward steel shelves at the back of the room, filled with long white boxes. “Bring your work home much?” he asked.

“That’s not work,” Frank said. “Those are comic books.”

“Comics? Like Spider-Man and all that?”

“Yeah, I got some Spidey stuff in there. Really more of a DC man, though. Superman, Batman, Justice League, those classic characters. But I have some Marvels, too. Even some of the indy stuff, and Archies.”

“Are they worth anything?”

“Some of them might be. That’s not why I keep them, though. I just like reading them and having them.” He indicated the blank walls. “I used to have a bunch of original comic book art hung up around the house. Neal Adams, Gene Colan, Joe Kubert, Barry Smith, Jim Lee. Hell, I have a Jack Kirby Captain America page.”

“Is that rare?”

“Classic as it gets.”

“Where is it?”

“Took it down, put it in a closet. I learned a lot from comics, about doing the right thing and being strong and brave. After I couldn’t find Angela Morton, I figured I had let my heroes down. I still enjoy reading the comics but couldn’t bear having those pages up on the walls, staring at me.”

“I’d love to see them sometime.”

Frank held Richie’s gaze for a few moments. He seemed sincere, and although he obviously knew little about comics, that didn’t mean he might not appreciate the artistry that went into them. The most unexpected part was that because Richie didn’t have an interest in comics, then his request, which didn’t seem to have been made from simple politeness, instead indicated an interest in being Frank’s friend. Frank had not gone into this looking for a friend — certainly hadn’t chased into the Morton house the other night expecting to find one. But if it happened, he didn’t think he would be disappointed. He got along with the folks on the job, but it wouldn’t hurt to know a guy who wasn’t actually a cop. “One of these days,” he said after a while. “Right now we got work to do.”

“Yeah,” Richie agreed, taking the offered chair. “I’ve been thinking about it non-stop, and the more I do, the fishier it all seems. We’ve got a girl who’s a prisoner in her own home. She’s abducted on a day when she was home alone with her father. Mom’s off at work, right?”

“Yeah.”

“And he’s not on the phone to nine-one-one in five seconds. Instead he’s calling friends of this girl who apparently doesn’t have friends, driving around the neighborhood by himself — none of which can be verified.”

“He actually did call a couple of her classmates’ homes. We pulled his luds. He made some calls, just not as many as he claimed.”

“He also said he was trying not to show emotion because he wanted to stay strong for his wife. But given our new information, a lot of his actions take on a different cast.”

“Such as? You sound like you’re trying to say something, Maynard, but you ain’t said it yet.”

“Frank, the guy had an adult playroom in his basement, with a secret viewing room. He kept his daughter locked in her bedroom. I shouldn’t have to spell it out. He’s a textbook sexual sadist.”

Frank shook his head. He didn’t want to think about that. As a cop he’d had to deal with plenty of horrible incidents. You couldn’t do the job without running headlong into examples of human beings treating each other worse than vermin. “No,” he said, sadness rasping his voice. “You don’t have to spell it. You think he killed her.”

“I think she knew something she wasn’t supposed to, or he was afraid she would tell somebody at school about things being done to her. Maybe she had told someone. Either way, he decided the only safe thing to do was to get rid of her.”

“So we should have been looking for a body the whole time?”

“I’m sure you were looking for a body, at least after the first twenty-four hours or so.”

“That was part of the detail, yeah.”

“Of course it was.” Richie thumbed through some of Frank’s files. “And the parents left town what, six months later?”

“About that. After things cooled down.”

“Where’d they go?”

Frank rifled through a file until he found it. “They left an address in Indianapolis. Like I said before, after a few months they stopped answering the phone, and anything mailed there came back as undeliverable. I had some Indianapolis cops go by the house, but it was just a rental that was already occupied by another family.”

“And nothing after that? No word from them?”

“The Bureau never could track them down. I check with contacts there every couple of years. They haven’t really kept up the search, but there has never been any sign of the Mortons. I thought they had accepted the reality that they’d never see Angela again, and didn’t want the reminders. God knows after I lost my wife Tiana, there were times I wanted to burn this house to the ground and move on.”

Richie waved a hand at the walls surrounding them. “You didn’t, though.”

“No. I decided I could move on emotionally, and it didn’t mean I didn’t love her. After a while, it wasn’t necessary to stop being reminded of her.”

“Because you’re sane,” Richie said. “And because you didn’t murder her.” He dumped some photographs from one of the file folders onto the card table. “She looks like a sweet kid. She didn’t deserve those parents. She didn’t deserve what they did to her.”

“Hell, no.”

“So we have to find them. Jarod and Barbara Morton got away with murder. So far. It’s time we brought them back.”

“The finding is gonna be the hard part. If either one was incarcerated anywhere, I’d know about it — my Bureau contacts would see to that. But they haven’t turned up anyplace.”

Richie fingered a tear sheet from The Detroit Daily News. On it was an advertisement for Jarod’s photo studio, Little Angels Photography. The ad featured a black-and-white photo of a blond girl who had to be Angela, taken when she was seven or eight. Feathered angel wings swelled from her back. The lighting was soft, from the right and slightly above her, casting shadows on the left side of her face and neck. The shadows were soft, too. Frank had looked at it a thousand times, thought it was nice, painterly. Other pictures were of an older Angela, up until her eleventh birthday.

“There aren’t any baby pictures,” Richie said.

“Nothing before that angel shot. These are the ones they gave us, and I tore out that newspaper ad when I saw the girl in it was Angela. I didn’t ask for baby pictures because I was looking for ones that would help us find her.”

“Yeah, you’re right. These are the ones the search effort would have needed.”

“Right.”

“You don’t have any idea where they might have gone after Indianapolis?”

Frank picked at his fingernails. “Not a clue.”

“We have to find out more about them. Especially Jarod. I don’t know that Barbara was even involved in what he did to Angela. She was the one who finally called the police, right?”

“Soon as she got home and found Angela missing.”

“Then Jarod’s the one we have to focus on. We have to learn whatever we can about him, and about Angela.”

“A little late for her.”

“It is,” Richie admitted. “But what if he and Barbara have had another kid?”

copyright 2015 Jeffrey J. Mariotte

Wizard World Madison Busier Than I Expected on First Day

KC and I went down to Wizard World Madison this afternoon, and there were more people than I thought there’d be. I wasn’t sure Madison was yet a town for a three-day show, but it seems a number of people came to the event, with more showing up as we got closer to after school and after work.

This is clearly a first-year show. Registration was disorganized, taking place in a separate building from the actual show floor (except for press, something that wasn’t explained to us until we’d already hiked back and forth once). Given that space was available in the exhibition building, I thought it was a bad choice, given how cold it was, with snow still piled on the ground, to make people walk around outside. A couple of cosplayers we saw in short sleeves with no coat, I worried for — although there was, as I hoped, a coat check in the main building.

Press and three-day attendees were given wristbands instead of badges or lanyards, a choice I always find tacky. Nothing puts me in the mood for attending a comic show like feeling like a hospital patient! These are all things that can be addressed in future years, though — I’m hopeful that this does well enough to continue.

There were only three main aisles of artists alley, and given how few people there were making comics — typically of these kinds of shows these days, most were selling prints, some with extraordinarily large display walls — it was possible to see everything there I was interested in in under an hour. (Fighting a cold, I also wasn’t inclined to linger.) Not many people, other than listed guests, traveled in for this show, which makes sense. There are so many options these days that people often want to see how something goes the first time around before investing time and money in attending.

The show floor/exhibition area was diverse, with relatively few (we estimated about ten) comic dealers. Instead, you could buy lots of toys (many of which were Funko), various swords and other weapons, different types of jewelry, various other gewgaws, or a picture of yourself in the Batmobile or the car from Back to the Future. We weren’t shopping for much of anything, instead concentrating on visiting with a few friends, such as Jeff Butler and Maggie Thompson.

Jeff Butler and Maggie Thompson at Wizard World Madison 2015

I got to meet Barbara Kaalberg, who has had a long career inking. She shared some information on the Charlton anthology revamps she’s been working on along with a great number of well-known names.

Barbara Kaalberg at Wizard World Madison 2015

It was a pleasure to meet Jai Nitz and speak with him about Dream Thief, which I should talk about more often, since it’s a neat concept, well-executed. Check it out from Dark Horse.

Jai Nitz at Wizard World Madison 2015

KC even bumped into an old college friend and former roommate!

Kevin and KC at Wizard World Madison 2015

We got there before the autograph/photo area was really rolling, but that’s really more of a Saturday thing. All in all, although a small event, I thought it was a promising start. And of course there was cosplay! While the Harley Quinn pushing a toddler Joker in his stroller was cute, my favorite was this highly impressive Groot.

Groot at Wizard World Madison 2015

We left early, although we want to return for panels tomorrow, and went for the classic Wisconsin Friday night dinner, the fish fry. Where we found that a local brewpub chain had gotten into the spirit of things with this table standee:

Comic Con Cocktails flyerComic Con Cocktails




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