Here’s a Funny PSA For The Drug of Choice in THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS

What kind of drug could you possibly expect to be a problem in a world filled with puppets that would have the same effects as meth, heroin or cocaine? Well, a funny PSA released for The Happytime Murders that tells us all about the drug and it’s definitely not something you would expect! This is definitely a much different world and puppets can't get high on the stuff that humans get high on. They need something a little more powerful.

Syrup! Yep, syrup has become an iconic drug in this world of crazy puppets. Personally, though, I seriously cannot get enough of it! I love syrup, especially when it comes to pancakes and waffles I’m all game. But, snorting it to get your fix? That may be a bit out of range for my personal love of sweetness of the drug. We’ve seen some wild ideas from director Brian Hanson, what more could we possibly expect? 

Are you a syrup junkie, and would you ever snort it!?

No Sesame. All Street. The Happytime Murders  is a filthy comedy set in the underbelly of Los Angeles where puppets and humans coexist. Two clashing detectives with a shared secret, one human (Melissa McCarthy) and one puppet, are forced to work together again to solve the brutal murders of the former cast of a beloved classic puppet television show.

The opening date for this the R-rated comedy is set for August 24th. 

Let’s Talk About Rebooting A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and FRIDAY THE 13TH


The spark nostalgia is hidden deep within the foundation of horror franchises like A Nightmare On Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and Child’s Play. Fans are constantly chomping at the bit for a taste of something new and familiar, and with Halloween (2018) on the horizon and development plans for a new Child’s Play TV series in the works, fans are getting that taste.

With Halloween and Child’s Play receiving new attention, the faint cries of, "What about me?," can be heard from the development hells of both the Nightmare and Friday film series. Through various comic book adaptations, e.g. Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Ash vs. Jason vs. Freddy, and videogame properties like Mortal Kombat and Friday the 13th: The Game these franchises have managed to live on and keep hope alive for some fans. However, the wanting of a new movie has not subsided, and fans are still wondering both when and how their beloved slashers will once again grace the silver screen.

Fans have already been down reboot alley once before, and were left lying cold and bloody in a gutter of mediocrity. Friday the 13th (2009) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) contained pieces of greatness, but fell short of fans’ expectations. The question then, given the history of both franchises, how does one go about rebooting these iconic characters, but without bringing on Star Wars Fans level of hate? 

I believe the key to rebooting these long standing franchises is to preserve the spirit of the characters, and the history and/or legacy of the franchises. Preserving the spirit of a character, you think, would be an easy task. With so many other films to pull and learn from, any competent writer, director, and/or producer should be able to zero in on what makes a character accessible and memorable. Freddy, Jason, and even Leatherface are each iconic in their own way, a way that makes preserving nostalgia possible. Freddy has his glove, sweater and hat, Jason has his iconic hockey mask and machete, and Leatherface has his apron, chainsaw, and...well somebody’s face. Combine these iconic physical characteristics with character traits from past films and you should be able to bring them to life. With this remark, I think the less popular films of each franchise should be left on the cutting room floor. For example, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning is a great film for fleshing out the character of Tommy Jarvis, but not for Jason Voorhees. There is so much that can be said and debated regarding how to preserve the iconic nature of these slashers that I will save any further remarks for the comments section. 

When it comes to preserving the history and/or legacy of a franchise there are many different storytelling avenues that a rebooted film franchise can take. The history of the franchise can be ignored, while a character’s legacy is explained through rumors, campfire stories, myths, and tales of old. Or, the history and legacy can be preserved as one entity and in the form of an epic that keeps on spinning. I think utilizing the idea of myth allows for one generation’s story to be passed onto the next without leaving too much of a character behind. However, if not done correctly then a character’s legacy can be lost as well. To give two examples of how to do this properly I look to the Child’s Play films and Halloween (2018). Love or hate the latest Child’s Play films, the one aspect that continues to drive that series forward, aside from the wonderful voice work of Brad Dourif, is how the series preserves the history and legacy of franchise. Halloween (2018) on the other hand, addresses the history and chooses to focus on the legacy of the characters in the films. In the latest trailer, Allyson Strode states with regards to Laurie Strode: “[Michael Myers] was not her brother, that's something that people made up.” Die-hard fans of the Halloween franchise might hate this dismissal of the franchise's history, but the legacy of the films is preserved in the spirit of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode. Michael retains his iconic look and rage, while Strode has morphed into a personification of Dr. Loomis. Thus, by taking this route, the new Halloween film can move forward without tripping over the remains of the other Halloween sequels and reboots.

If you have made it this far, then I will leave you with my thoughts for rebooting A Nightmare On Elm Street and Friday the 13th. I think Robert Englund’s idea for a new A Nightmare on Elm Street film, as expressed in a recent GeekTyrant article, manages to capture the legacy of Freddy Krueger. The history of the film franchise can be regulated to myth, or maintained in the film through character dialogue in the form of hush whispers about the bogeyman that lurks in people’s dreams, hunting for their souls. Thanks to the internet in this new world the story of Freddy Krueger is given new life and allowed to take a global approach forcing our intended victims to ban together and find a new way to stop Krueger’s legacy of terror. The history of the character can be ignored altogether, or verbally acknowledged by the characters or Krueger himself.

As for Friday the 13th, I think there are two ways the series could move forward. The more controversial of the two ways involves a retelling of the entire franchise from the perspective of Jason Voorhees. Think Old Man Logan with Jason Voorhees as he struggles to free himself from the clutches of the film’s antagonist, the Lake. Stay with me here. Using voice over narration the audience is given privy to Jason’s thoughts and feelings. Jason is revealed to be a tool of a cursed Lake that is in actuality a gateway to Hell. Jason as a boy was an innocent that was taken by, and then forced to be the Lake’s guardian and executioner, reaping souls endlessly. Jason’s forced servitude eventually gives way to anger and rage turning him into a mindless servant until he is reawakened. Similar to Logan in Old Man Logan, Jason can be both sympathized with and feared. At the same time, this point of view narration would allow the film to unite all the best parts of the film franchise while explaining away the bad. For example, after Part VIII Jason is left to rest while a copycat demon continues his legacy in the ninth film. Thus, Jason Goes to Hell, a film that is at times shunned by the fandom, does not focus on Jason, but actually focuses on this copycat demon. The end of that film would serve as connective tissue to Freddy vs Jason, and the copycat demon would be what ultimately inspired Freddy to revive the real Jason as a way to preserve his own legacy. 

If this unique take on the character and franchise does not strike your fancy, then rebooting the franchise with Jason’s father and an older Tommy Jarvis might be the answer. These two characters each have a connection to Jason, and serve as the audience's introduction into the franchise’s history. The two characters unite to stop Jason who is continuing his hunt for new victims. Eventually, a collection of cannon fodder along with two older characters are trapped at Camp Crystal Lake trying to survive Jason’s onslaught.

I have some ideas for how to preserve the history of the Halloween franchise as well, but that might be an article for another day.

Sound off in the comments with your own thoughts!


Guest Article By Joseph Fridley (@brother_fridley)

Late Reflections on STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

Darth Vader’s masked faced loomed over me from inside the protective glass display case. The black armor had a worn appearance, yet still looked functional. I felt that at any moment the armor could come to life and demand the death of the Jedi and rebel scum. Walking around the Star Wars exhibit at the Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. when I was younger was a surreal experience.

The mixture of costumes, ship prototypes, and concept drawings created a feeling of awe in my young mind. I was not walking around a display of movie props, but a collection of ancient relics from a time long ago. Before leaving the exhibit I made my way to the gift shop, because what is Star Wars without the merchandise? There I purchased my first two Star Wars figures, Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker (Return of the Jedi). Those figures have since been lost to time, and possibly an eBay auction, but the memory of playing and displaying them still remains. I believe it was in that moment, walking amongst the lighted displays and buying those figures, that I fell in love with Star Wars

Despite this warm experience though, I have always maintained a partial detachment from the films and fandom of the Star Wars Universe. In part, this is probably because I had not seen all three of the original films until I was in middle or high school. I had seen Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, both the original on VHS and again when re-released in theaters with more...explosions. However, my memory of Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back was scattered amongst various media types including partial viewings of edited for television versions of the films, video games, and the occasional book. It was not until my adult years that I realized that some Star Wars media was cannon, such as the two Star Wars: Clone Wars animated shows, while other media, like the Galaxy of Terror book series, were not. 

Regardless of my detachment, I do still love Star Wars. I love the Jedi, the Sith, the Force, and of course, the embarrassing sidekicks; looking at you Jar Jar Binks and Boba Fett. However, I believe this detachment has given me a clearer view of the newest batch of Star Wars films. In particular, I think I can discuss Star Wars: The Last Jedi in a way that would please both the Jedi Council and Sith Lords of the fandom.

The truth about Star Wars: The Last Jedi is that it is a decent movie, but only an okay Star Wars film. As Star Wars films go, the film has a lot of great imagery, themes, and applicable subtext. Yet, despite these pieces, the film does not really add anything to the mythologies of Star Wars as a whole. The film fails to take a side, refusing to answer the most basic questions about either previous plot points or the Force. At times, this works, such as in the case of Rey’s parentage.

I realize that some people will disagree, but for a character to come from such a basic place is more interesting to me as a viewer than focusing on the prospect of lineage. This same adage fails when looking at Snoke’s backstory though, or lack thereof. Upon my first viewing of Star Wars: The Last Jedi I thought I did not care about Snoke’s backstory. Upon my recent viewing, I was bothered by this Hugh Hefner, if he had a baby with Gollum, individual who seemed to appear out of nowhere. Snoke is such a contrast from the Emperor that I cannot help, but wonder who he is. 

I could jump around discussing many aspects of the film without stating anything that probably has not already been said or blogged about. So, the two areas that I want to focus on that I feel define the film are the theme of old versus young, and the overall characterization of the Force.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi had a difficult task of trying to appease both old and new fans. This task, I believe, plays out in one of the themes of the film. Through the many different story elements coursing through the film, the conflict between old and new heroes rises to the top. Leia conflicts with Poe who she is trying to mentor and guide into being the newest leader of the rebellion. Poe struggles with this task and tends to push forward looking for the next big win, even at the cost of lives. Poe comes from a generation of rebels who witnessed the destruction of two Death Stars and the fall of the original Empire.

Then there is Rey who attempts to find mentorship in Luke. The differences between these two stories are that Rey is completely open to learning something new, while Poe wants to charge ahead. I did not have any issues with Luke’s portrayal in the film. I understand that many people wanted to see Luke in action, but I found his story more interesting as a result of his hesitation to use the Force.

Finally, there is Snoke and Kylo Ren, a relationship that is both parental and adversarial. Kylo initially wants to follow in the footsteps of Darth Vader, but due to the machinations of Snoke he decides to tear it all down. This theme of old versus young is meta in nature and helps to define the films place in the larger Star Wars canon and the internal conflicts that play out in the story.

Where the theme of old versus young is a saving grace of the film, the film’s characterization of the Force symbolizes everything wrong with the film as a whole. I have always regarded the Force as a character, at least with regards to the main Star Wars films. In The Last Jedi the Force is similar to the main characters of the film, in that lessons are learned, but no real changes are made. Though I loved Luke Skywalker’s standoff against Kylo Ren, the entire film could be stricken from the canon without affecting Star Wars lore.

After eight movies, three cartoon series, and a plethora of novels and video games I do not need to know what the Force is. What I need as a viewer and Star Wars fan is a reason to care about the Force and the continuing struggle between the Jedi and the Sith, the Empire and the Rebels. By playing it safe and refusing to pick a side the film ultimately falls flat. Also, and on a side note, I want someone in a Star Wars film to realize that both the Jedi and Sith are wrong with how they view the light and dark sides of the Force. Balance can only be brought to the Force when a character learns to ride the line between the dark and light side of the Force. 

In conclusion, I can respect both the love and hate that fans have expressed about Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Upon my first viewing of the film, I walked away happy and eager for the next installment. As time passed though, and I was able to digest what I had watched and then rewatch the film, I found myself struggling to get through the story.

There are some great story elements and characters within The Last Jedi, yet a lot of flaws as well. Again, the film takes no real risks and mainly works to retire the old cast and set up the new. Hopefully, Episode IX will take the right steps and bring a satisfying conclusion to the newest trilogy. 

Sound off below with your thoughts!

Guest article by Joseph Fridley (@Brother_Fridley)

Monstrous Nostalgia and Universal’s Dark Universe

Though the plastic teeth felt awkward in my mouth, and the fake blood tasted like cough syrup, I knew that these were small sacrifices to make in the achieving of my Halloween goal. With my hair slicked back and my cape and cowl on, complete with plastic medallion, I resembled a miniature Bela Lugosi as he appeared in Dracula (1931). Well, Dracula if he wore metallic green parachute pants in place of black trousers. I worked with what I had. That night as my parents took me trick-or-treating through the neighborhood, and then later through my elementary school, I showed off my vampire prowess by hissing and twirling my cape. Instead of yelling trick-or-treat I echoed, “I want to suck your blood,” followed by, “I like your house, what’s this?” I was a curious child. Once I returned back home I dug through my candy bag searching for my favorite sweets and watched an episode of Tales From the Crypt (1991) in which Malcolm McDowell played a vampire working at a blood bank. Looking back now I can admire how fitting that episode was given my costume choice that Halloween night.

At that time of my life I had not seen the famous vampire film, Dracula (1931), yet somehow I intrinsically knew about vampires and the fear they inspired. It is possible that episodes of The Munsters (1964) or pop-culture references from various cartoons had penetrated by subconscious creating this instinctual knowledge. However, regardless of how I had come to know of the vampire, werewolf, and assorted other monsters that existed at that time, I knew that there was something powerful in the fear that they inspired. 

Now as an adult I lust after the nostalgic feelings of my youth, hoping upon hope, to brush against that something that inspires the fear, power, and awe that I experienced as a kid. Honestly, I cannot remember the last time I saw a horror film, much less a monster movie, that truly frightened me. This is not to say that some decent monster films have not been produced in the last five years, only that the symbol of the vampire, werewolf, and even Frankenstein’s monster has diminished and faded into pop culture. For example, Afflicted (2013) is a decent modern-day found-footage vampire film, but it did not scare me. I could probably blame films like Twilight (2008) for the current state of monster films, but in truth, the films of the late 90s and early 00s did not help. Looking at you Dracula 2000 (2000). At the same time, the overindulged CGI fest of current monster/action films leaves me wanting. Though I enjoyed Dracula Untold (2014) the film failed in the fear department. 

As Universal struggles to hold onto the Dark Universe, an idea that has failed to ignite once again, I fear that my hopes for a new collection of monster films will be dashed against the rocks of Frankenstein’s Castle. If the Dark Universe is to survive then Universal must learn not only from past mistakes, but past successes as well. Fear and horror are key elements of the classic films of old, but so is a great story. At this point, Universal should drop the Dark Universe in favor of a montage of classic monster scenes that plays with the Universal logo at the beginning of every new connected monster film. I would also suggest, that instead of trying to reboot, retool, or otherwise re- the a new monster franchise that the new slew of monster films should be connected to their black and white counterparts.

These films would offer a foundation for all new stories along with showing how concepts of fear and horror have changed over the years. Keeping this idea in mind, I recommend that Universal revive, at least in the case of The Mummy, the Brendan Fraser Mummy franchise. However, instead of sticking to the action/adventure aspects of The Mummy franchise, I suggest embracing the horror elements of those films. As for Brendan Fraser, I think it is possible that his character was cursed and left as an immortal wondering the modern day world alone and without his family. The new slew of monster films would inspire his character to once again embrace life. Even if Fraser did not return to this type of franchise, a descendant of his character from the Mummy films could be the main and/or joining protagonist of the films.

Regardless of how the Dark Universe, or at least a new batch of monster movies, are brought to the big screen, Universal should throw caution to the wind and learn from past successes. There are many ways that modern fears can be adapted into classic monster cinema. Universal’s goal should not be to create another Avengers-style universe, but to reignite a desire in fans everywhere for another great monster flick. When the time is right and the pieces finally come together then Universal should make a new House of Frankenstein. 

Sound off below with your favorite monster films, and how you think the Dark Universe should be revived. 

Guest Article By Joseph Fridley (@brother_fridley)

Marvel Comics’ SECRET EMPIRE and an Opinion on Big Event Series

One of the defining reasons behind the success of Marvel’s Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and the heightened anticipation for Avengers: Infinity War is the opportunity for fans to see their favorite heroes team-up. Even though Batman v. Superman was met with mixed reviews, viewers were excited to see Batman and Superman star in the same live-action film for the first time. Older television series like Smallville and newer series like Arrow and The Flash are built around crossover episodes where fans can see their favorite characters work side-by-side, or in some cases, fight one another. Thus, it is no wonder why comic book giants like Marvel and DC continue to execute large-scale comic book event series that usually bring multiple heroes and villains together for a dynamic story full of action. The storylines in these big events will then leak into other currently running comic book series to create tie-in issues. For comic book fans, these type of big-scale events are becoming more common. However, when it comes to new fans who are looking to break ground on a new series, big event series can be hit or miss. 

There are many big events that can be explored in the canon of Marvel and DC, some of which have been adapted into feature films, like Captain America: Civil War, or animated films, like Flashpoint. For the purpose of this discussion I will be looking at Marvel’s last big event, or rather last, last, big event, Secret Empire. Spoilers will abound as I discuss Secret Empire and the various trends of the big event series, but I will attempt to keep the spoilers light and avoid anything that might ruin a unique surprise of the story. Before I get ahead of myself though, Secret Empire opens with Captain America, who is now the current Director of SHIELD, is revealed to be a secret Hydra Agent after having his memories/life rewritten by a sentient Cosmic Cube. Using his position at SHIELD, Captain America begins taking over the world and reforming the Marvel 616-verse into his own image. For those who are new to the comic book world, 616 is how Marvel differentiates the main comic book universe from other universes like the Ultimates, Marvel Zombies, and Old Man Logan, just to name a few. It is also important to note that the book does a significant amount of work to distance Hydra from the Nazis by establishing that Hydra existed before WWII and just sided with the Nazis because they wanted to be on the winning side of the war. 

Given today’s hectic lifestyle, I, like many people, do not always have time to jump into the latest hit TV or comic book series. In an age of binge-watching and “give it to me now” readership, waiting for the next episode or issue can seem taxing and tedious. For anyone that grew up in the 90s watching the Uncanny X-Men or the Amazing Spider-man cartoon the words, “To Be Continued…,” were extremely frustrating. As a result, when I do have an opportunity to pick up the latest big event series I would rather pick it up all at once in a collected volume. I understand that not everyone shares my sentiments, and there is something special and magical about waiting for the next monthly or weekly issue to come in. My point here is that when I crack open the spine of my latest purchase or open up the digital file from Comixology to start reading, my hope and desire is that whatever I am about to read is good. In part, this is so I have not wasted my money. However, I also want the book to be good because after a long day of work and family I just want to relax and enjoy the ride. 

The first thing I do when picking up an event series is ask two questions. First, will I understand this book if I have not read any of the lead in issues? And second, is this book for everyone, both old and new comic book fans? When looking at Secret Empire and to answer my first question, I was fortunate enough to have read Avengers Standoff: Welcome to Pleasant Hill and the three volumes of Captain America: Steve Rogers that lead into Secret Empire and the proceeding event series, Civil War II. The issues of Captain America: Steve Rogers proceeding Secret Empire are a great read and delve into the finer points of what happened to Steve Rogers to make him a secret Hydra Agent. Though you do not have to read Captain America: Steve Rogers to fully understand the story, it definitely helps. Also, and to be honest, the whole rewriting of Captain America’s memories/life was rather confusing for me and was not fully explained until the end of Secret Empire. At times I thought that only Steve Rogers’s memories were rewritten, but there are some characters in both Captain America: Steve Rogers and Secret Empire that I do not think existed until Steve Rogers’s memories were rewritten. This leads into my second question, if you are coming to Secret Empire having only watched the movies that make up the MCU, or if you have not read comics for quite some time then the book might come off as confusing. For example, Thor is now a woman, the original Thor is now called Odinson after having lost his hammer, and Odinson is missing an arm. Overall, Secret Empire is a culmination of various series and prior event titles, and as a result of this, I do not feel like the book is for everyone. I do highly recommend reading the various Thor books that proceed Thor losing his hammer and the Thor series starring a female version of Thor as both are great!

With my two questions out of the way, I then look at the artwork and panel layout for a new big even series. Art is subjective to the individual, but should work off some basic principles. In any comic book, the art should help you follow the story and action, and recognize the characters. The art of Secret Empire, at least for the majority of the book is great, with spectacular panel layouts that are able to convey action and story development in a dynamic way. The reason I stated for the majority of the book, is that for the last several issues the art shifts dramatically to a different art style. I am uncertain why the art changes, but it is possible that the art shifted to match the tone of the story. At the beginning of the book, the art is bleak, but shifts near the end of the book as the rebels start gaining ground on Captain America’s forces. Again though, the shift in art may not have been intentional, and a common issue with event books is that the artists on a book might change due to delays, background politics, and/or a variety of other reasons. When reading a regular series the shift in art is almost expected, if not welcomed as it can spice up a book or present a tonal shift into the next story. At the same time, if you are a fan of an artist or art style then this shift could ruin the book for you. Once again, I enjoyed the art of Secret Empire, but that does not mean the book was not without its flaws, some of which were major. For example, when Sam Wilson, aka the Falcon and Captain America, pops up in the story I did not recognize him. This is not because Sam Wilson was not in either his Falcon or Captain America costume, but because the artist drew and painted Sam Wilson as a white man. I honestly did not know who Sam Wilson was until characters started referring to him as Sam in a later issue. This issue with distinguishing the character made his big reveal early on less impactful and confusing. Another issue with the art is the lack of subtext and symbology. At one point in the story Captain America’s forces, led by Odinson, a newly resurrected Hulk, and several other heroes, attack the rebel stronghold. In a last-ditch effort by the rebels to gain time to escape Avenger robots/LMDs are released to fight the Hulk. This scene should have been so much more impactful than what it was. The reason for the lack of umph is that the robo-Avengers were modeled after the current Avengers lineup and not the classic Avengers. I huge part of the story is how the Avengers have, as individuals, lost their way. To have models of the original Avengers fighting the Hulk to save lives would have symbolized and contrasted how the original Avengers use to be with how they are now. Tony Stark is a pale image of what he used to be, Captain America is a Hydra agent, and Thor, now Odinson, has lost his way. After this scene wraps the Hulk quickly turns from green to grey which symbolizes his death or the end of his temporary resurrection, which is beautifully illustrated by the way. Yet given the scene that had just unfolded, this death loses some of its impact. The robo-Avengers are destroyed and now Hulk is dead which should represent how the Avengers of old are no more, and not just the ending of a climatic battle. 

Upon looking at the art and panel layout in a book I will then ascertain if the book is a complete story, or if I will need to read tie-in issues in order to completely understand the book. Tie-in stories could be the subject of an article on their own since the way Marvel and DC handle these issues differs depending on the book. For a series like Flashpoint the tie-in or limited series were a way to tell new stories that were set in the alternate world of Flashpoint. In Civil War, tie-in and limited-run series allowed for the expansion of scope of the main big event series. The reader could then jump from Civil War into Frontline and then into the latest Spider-man or X-Men book to see how the larger Marvel 616 universe was handling the events of Civil War. Overall, tie-in stories are a way for comic book publishers to tell original stories, pull readers into a new series, and, of course, to make more money. When looking at Secret Empire I do have concerns with how Marvel handled the tie-in series. I do feel that a person could read Secret Empire and, for the most part, understand the story. I do have to wonder though if some of the inconsistencies presented in the book were due to tie-in issues that I did not read. For example, at some point in the storyline the rebels are working with Sam Wilson to gain access to another country as they hunt for a missing fragment of a Cosmic Cube. The characters go from being in what is supposed to be Brazil to then being in Alaska. The reason I say, supposed to be Brazil, is that the landscape art mirrors Canada. The jump from Brazil to Alaska is never fully explained and is rather jarring. I will admit that could have missed something when reading, if not then I can only assume that these missing pieces were in another Marvel series that I have not read. On this same issue, prior to reading Secret Empire I was told that Spider-man would be doing battle with a new Doctor Octopus. To my disappointment, I discovered that Spider-man only appears in Secret Empire in the last issue or two of the book. To witness Spider-man’s confrontation with Doctor Octopus I will need to read Spider-man’s own series that ties into Secret Empire

As we roll into the New Year, Marvel and DC are already working on the next and/or in the middle of a current big event series. I do not want to dissuade anyone from reading Secret Empire or big event series in general. Despite the books flaws, Secret Empire had some great moments and left me wanting more. I also have to thank big event series like Necrosha-X and Civil War for getting me back into comic books. Picking up the large volume of Necrosha-X with all its tie-in issues included was a rewarding read. As for Civil War, and even though that book has its own flaws, I enjoyed picking up the series monthly and diving into the various tie-in and limited released series such as Frontline. Moving forward though, my hope is that Marvel and DC, along with any other comic book publishers, will rethink how big event series are done. My concern is that if changes are not made that new readers will not be able to jump into a new big event series and that current readers will feel burnout and turn away from those big event series. I do not see the comic book industry going anywhere anytime soon, however, these same publishers, and thus series, will only survive as long as readership is present. Alienating readers will have negative consequences that can greatly impact both established and new characters. For example, if a big event series does well then Marvel or DC might take a risk on introducing a new series for a less well-known character, but if a series does bad, then less risks will be taken.

Sound off below with your thoughts on big event series: What big event series are your favorites?What big even series did you not like? What big even series are you looking forward too?

Guest Article by Joseph Fridley (@brother_fridley)

Ideas For Integrating the FANTASTIC FOUR and X-MEN Into the MCU

By now the internet is a chatter with news over the repeal of #NetNeturality and the Disney/Marvel acquisition of Fox Studios. Unfortunately, I lack both the power and ability to undo the repeal of #NetNeutrality. Though I am confident that through perseverance and the voices of support that we, as an online community, will continue to move forward and reclaim our rights. 

Now when it comes to the Disney/Marvel acquisition of Fox Studios, I, like many of you, am ecstatic over the storytelling possibilities. Seeing Deadpool pop up in a future Avengers film to make a witty comment about Iron Man and Doctor Strange’s beards can now be a possibility. With this news, a question arises... how will Disney/Marvel integrate the Fantastic Four (FF) and X-Men into the MCU? 

There are many ways to integrate Fox’s Marvel properties into the MCU. On the surface, Disney/Marvel could adapt an already published FF or X-Men storyline for the modern age and insert that story into the MCU. Disney/Marvel could even take the ultimate risk and do a parallel earth storyline that results in the two realities merging together. Essentially, the already existing X-Men film universe and the MCU would merge into a brand new MCU. Since there is not much of a universe to adapt and/or merge the FF could then be translated into a modern superhero origin story. However, to capture the spirit of the FF and the X-Men, and to do something other than your usual origin story, I suggest doing the following:

Fantastic Four:

It's the 1960s and the US government, eager to win the space race, sends a young team of scientists into space to investigate an energy anomaly. The pilots flying the craft are Ben and Johnny, with Sue and Reed as the scientists. Something goes wrong, as it always does, and the ship vanishes. The US government covers up the mission in order to save face.

Fast forward to the present day, when the same anomaly occurs again and the ship reappears. The ship lands in Latveria where the crew is rescued by Victor Von Doom. The crew has undergone a metamorphosis while away, but otherwise has not aged and has no memory of the event. Doom, who at first appears gentle and welcoming, helps the new team learn how to use and control their powers. On a side note, there could also be some mild flirting between Doom and Sue which irritates a jealous Reed who has always had feelings for Sue.

While the team is becoming acquainted with the modern world and their powers, the US government is petitioning for the crew to be returned. The FF, not yet a full team, faces a new world, a government who abandoned them, and a helpful benefactor who is not quite who he appears to be.

To further ramp up the action, a battle at the Latverian border between select Avengers and the US military would allow the FF to showcase their powers and act as a lead-in to the team dynamic between the Avengers and FF. The Hulk and the Thing exchange quips while battling it out. Mr. Fantastic and Iron Man face-off, but the fight takes a backseat as the two characters end up discussing Stark’s latest tech. The Invisible Woman and Wanda (who can now be referred to as the Scarlet Witch) have a throw down of weirdness that leads to mutual respect. The Human Torch and Hawkeye exchange witty banter while exchanging arrows for fire blasts and vice versa. This fight would also help lay the foundation for the FF as being prominent superheroes in the MCU.

Eventually, the FF come together as a team to fight Doom, who was just trying to use the FF for his own gains. During the battle, Doom’s affinity for technology and the mystic arts is revealed with Doom explaining how technology blurs the lines between the real and the magical. Of course, Doom is defeated and heavily scarred in the process. The FF then cross the border and turn themselves into the US government. The FF end up a making a deal by agreeing to act as agents for the government, and in accordance with the Accords while receiving funding to make new tech. A comment can even be made by Reed, who is now beyond wealthy thanks to his previous technology patents. Thanks to this new wealth Reed can decide to buy Stark Tower. 

Or, Disney/Marvel just do an origin story set in modern times. There is also the possibility that the FF have been lost in space and are looking for a way home. Think Guardians of the Galaxy, but after the team has decided to return to earth. Or, Disney/Marvel can adapt an FF origin story from the comics and set it up in present-day MCU.


Building the X-Men Universe onto the existing MCU is not that complicated thanks to the various X-Men characters and associated mutant powers. The previous X-Men films have already established what the characters associated with the X-Men can do which opens up a world of storytelling possibilities. The main question that arises is, how does Disney/Marvel not only add the X-Men to the MCU, but the concept of mutant as well? The Netflix Marvel series and Agents of SHIELD have done some work of establishing a division between powered and non-powered individuals. However, this idea is a core theme of the X-Men and would need to be explored in more detail. Thus, there are really only two ways to tackle any X-Men storylines that take place in the MCU and that do not involve some parallel timeline and/or earth. 

The first avenue would establish that though mutants have existed for many generations, the number of mutants in existence has been relatively small. Characters like Magneto and Professor X have been around for quite some time, along with the Weapon X program, but the entire population of mutants is only now starting to bud. A new boon in the X-gene appearing across the world could result in Professor X attempting to recruit his team of X-Men to help a new generation of mutants, while Magneto is in a race to secure those same mutants in order to build an army. Though the rise of mutants across the world is an interesting concept, any story elements that develop from this point of view might seem like a retelling of the previous X-Men films. 

The second avenue, and the one that I feel is more plausible, is for the X-Men, and thus the X-gene, to have been in existence for quite some time, but thanks to Professor X and Cerebro have been kept under wraps and hidden away from the rest of the world. With this storyline, the X-Men could have existed for many years, but thanks to a truce between Magneto and Professor X, and the overall success of the X-Men, mutants have remained a well-guarded secret. From this point of view, the film could start with a new character, like Jubilee, Shadowcat, or even Dazzler, coming to the Xavier Institute and learning about the X-Men first hand. The audience would then have an opportunity to be reacquainted with this world similar to this new character, but without having to sit through another origin story. The film could further establish that Magneto and the island of Genosha or Asteroid M exist as well, but are also kept a secret. 

As the storylines associated with the second avenue progress, the eventual conflict will arise of whether or not the X-Men, and thus mutants in general, need to come out of hiding. At the same time, this dilemma could be explained with how the world is reacting to the Avengers. The X-Men come out like superheroes hoping to be better accepted, but the conflict between homosapien and homo-superior still exists. The question of whether or not mutants need to register their powers could also surface, especially with the existence of the Accords. Overall, I see a lot of possibilities with this second avenue of storytelling, which treats the audience to something new and something familiar.

Sound off below with your own thoughts and story ideas! Also, for those comic book and 90s cartoon fans what are your favorite FF and X-Men storylines?

Guest Article By Joseph Fridley (@brother_fridley)

Is Continuity Bad for Comic Books?

Two weeks ago Bryam Dayley published an article on GeekTyrant that focused on Spider-Man’s return to the “status quo” after the events of Marvel’s Secret Empire, the latest big event spanning story. I realize now that as I type these words that Marvel is already in the middle of another series spanning event full of unique comic book covers and one-shot tie-ins. However, this article is not about the rising and ever continuing trend of big event series crossovers, I will save that for another post.

Now, what struck me about Bryam’s article and the subsequent community comments was the discord over the changing, or rather reversion, of Spider-Man’s character. Spider-Man has undergone many changes over the years, and as an everyman character represents something different to everyone. For myself, Spider-Man was not only the ideal self-sacrificing hero, but a symbol for what the awkward nerd could become. Despite Peter Parker’s nerdy exterior and financial woes he managed to become one of the greatest heroes, while also finding love in a beautiful super-model partner. Given what Spider-Man means to me I was horrified and angered by how Marvel changed the character in One More Day. For those individuals not familiar with One More Day, Spider-Man makes a literal deal with the devil after the events of Civil War, choosing to sacrifice his marriage in order to save his dying Aunt May. After the dust settles, Peter Parker has recently been fired from his job as a professor and is now living with his Aunt May. Essentially, Peter Parker went from working as a professor and married, to single and couch surfing. Needless to say, I was furious and promptly canceled my Spider-Man subscription. 

While the changes to Spider-Man’s life in One More Day unnerved me, some of the change was refreshing. Based on the discussion in Bryam’s article the change to Spider-Man’s life, from successful CEO and to unemployed guy, is refreshing and welcomed. This back and forth in Spider-Man’s life serves as an example of the type of problems that exist when writing for a character that is over fifty-five years old. At the same time, this situation is not unique to Spider-Man, or Marvel in general. DC recently finished publishing Scott Snyder’s run on Batman only to delve into Rebirth. Snyder’s run on Batman was part of the New 52, which marked a company-wide change to all of the DC regular characters. I am not arguing against change or big event storytelling, though I definitely have alternative cover fatigue. With all of these changes I just have to ask, is continuity bad for comic books?

Some of my favorite comic book stories occurred outside the normal comic book continuity, or rather, in spite of it. For example, Superman Red Son does something different with the character of Superman and crafts a unique story that can stand on its own. The same can be said for Old Man Logan, a story that takes various liberties with established characters, but manages to create a new story with a lot of depth. Great stories can still come out of continuity, such as the Superior Spider-man, which offered a new take on both Spider-man and Doctor Octopus while still managing to stay within the established continuity of Marvel’s 616 Universe. To look back even further, Alan Moore was able to take Swamp Thing and completely revamp the character without affecting the established continuity. Given all the hoops that comic book writers have to jump through in order to stay within continuity, should comics continue to stick to the established continuity? Marvel’s 1602 and Ultimates opened the door for rich storytelling and world-building, but without having to compromise story structure or established character history. The only time that these stories seem to suffer is when Marvel and DC try to blend these separate story world’s into one. This is not to say that I am not grateful for Miles Morales inclusion into the normal continuity of the Marvel 616 Universe, but that the path to get from A to B is hit or miss. For every Flashpoint (DC) and Secret Wars (Marvel) there is a Convergence (DC) and Axis (Marvel). Even as I list these large comic book events some of you will argue which are better, while others will ask what the heck am I talking about. 

Overall, I have to wonder if the time for continuity should be coming to an end. I try and stay abreast of all the latest events and changes to my favorite characters. However, given the constant changes to established characters, staying ahead of the comic book machine is a full-time job. I have to wonder too if continuity is good for new readers. New number one comics do not necessarily equate to new readership, but good storytelling does. To create a new number one comic for new readers may not only be ineffective, but can hurt the established fan base.

Sound off in the comments with your own thoughts on the matter.

Guest Article By Joseph Fridley (@brother_fridley)

Alan Moore’s MIRACLEMAN Offers Comic Fans Something Unique to Enjoy

Alan Moore is a name synonymous with comic books. Whether you have comic book ink running in your veins, or have never picked up a comic book aside from catching the latest Marvel or DC film, you have probably heard of Alan Moore. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Watchmen, From Hell, V for Vendetta, and Batman: The Killing Joke all have film adaptations based on his prolific works. However, let me caution you not to judge Moore by the films based on his works. Moore has a long-standing... hatred for the film industry because of these adaptations. However, this article is not about Moore, but about one of his lesser-known works, Miracleman

Thanks to a large sale on Marvel digital comics and books from awhile back I was able to pick up Miracleman Vol. 1-3, and Miracleman: The Golden Age. Created by Mick Anglo in the 1950s, Miracleman, or Marvelman as he was originally known, was the UK’s answer to Captain Marvel. Mike Moran would say a magic word, “Kimota,” and be transformed into the superpowered Miracleman. Then in 1982 Alan Moore took over writing duties and transformed the character into something...different.

Miracleman Vol. 1 begins with Mike Moran, a freelance journalist, waking up from a dream in which Miracleman, Young Miracleman, and Kid Miracleman are flying toward the airship fortress of their arch-nemesis, Dr. Gargunza. Something goes wrong and an explosion rips through the intrepid heroes. In the explosion, Young Miracleman seems to become two people, while Kid Miracleman is nowhere to be seen. The explosion causes Miracleman to fly backward and then- Mike wakes up from the same recurring dream that he has had for years. Plagued by a headache Mike says goodbye to his wife and heads off to his assignment with the beginning of a word hanging from his lips. At the assignment, something goes wrong and in the chaos, Mike remembers the word, Kimota! (atomic backwards). Mike is transformed once again into Miracleman, an act that sends shockwaves throughout his life and the world around him.

Miracleman Vol. 1 plays out like a renewed origin story. Moore crafts a story with the beautiful art of Garry Leach and later Alan Davis that easily carries the reader along. Moore’s writing is almost poetic, a trend that will continue and grow through all three volumes. Without giving too much away, Vol. 2 focuses on the resurfacing of Dr. Gargunza and further delves into the origins of Miracleman, while Vol. 3 sees the resurrection of a villain introduced in Vol. 1 and the forming of Miracleman’s great utopia. For those who appreciate history, or just want to see how the character has evolved from the 1950s until the 1980s, the volumes are populated with the original Marvelman comic strips, interviews with the original creator, interviews, and comments from the artist, and illustrations from pencil sketch to page. 

New readers of Miracleman will notice that Alan Moore’s name is missing from the cover. Instead of Alan Moore, the book is authored by The Original Author or something to that effect. This detail is just one more piece to the complicated history of the character. Starting out as Marvelman, the character later had to be changed to Miracleman to avoid conflict with DC’s Captain Marvel, who is now known as Shazam. Of course, we could also discuss Marvel’s own Captain Marvel, not to mention Mar-vell, but honestly who cares. At one point the copyrights to Miracleman were owned or rather perceived to be owned by Todd McFarland. If you search online you will even find a figure, statue, and reference to a Man of Miracles, who was a character featured in Hellspawn. However, Neil Gaiman, who authored Miracleman: The Golden Age, fought to reclaim copyright of the character. After a lengthy battle that almost sent Miracleman into obscurity the original creator, Mike Anglo, sold the copyright of the character to Marvel. 

Once again, Miracleman represents the writing of Alan Moore and later Neil Gaiman, while also offering something unique for new and seasoned readers of comics. Word of warning though, Miracleman is not for children! The story features many adult concepts ranging from brutal murder, rape, and outright genocide. The violence and horror in the series only works to highlight the beauty of the story later on. My only complaint with the series is that, at times, I found the direction of the word boxes hard to follow. This could have been due to my being tired since I tend to read late at night, so other readers may not have a similar issue. 

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Guest Article By Joseph Fridley (@brother_fridley)

What It Means to bBe a LORD OF THE RINGS Nerd


Even if you haven’t read the Lord of the Rings, you’ve likely seen the movie trilogy. And if you haven’t seen the movies, you’re still familiar with the basic premise of the whole thing because, let’s be honest, you most likely have a friend that loves The Lord of the Rings. If you know slightly more than the title of the books, you know Tolkien and C.S. Lewis (who were great friends) realized England didn’t have its own mythology. So they took it upon themselves to write one, which is how the epic Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia series were created.

While both series are brilliant, Tolkien went much further in creating an enchanting, mythological world that is immensely more detailed and rich than Lewis’s more didactic approach to the task in The Chronicles of Narnia. However, Tolkien did incorporate his views on the Industrial Revolution, the changing world of England, and the First World War. Through his love of languages, interest in Celtic and Norse histories, awareness of his changing world, and an exceptional imagination, Tolkien created a trilogy that changed the world of fantasy forever. If you are a Lord of the Rings fan, you already know all this (if you know a Lord of the Rings fan, you probably also know all this), but if you are a through and through, genuine, authentic LOTR nerd, you:

1.) Have the books memorized

You grew up with LOTR being read to you as your bedtime story. You still read them as your bedtime story. You plan on reading them to your children as a bedtime story. In fact, you’ve read the books so many times that whole phrases have become part of your everyday vernacular, and some even find their way into homework assignments and job applications. You may secretly feel that you could have written a better screenplay for the movies, but your loyalty to anything LOTR trumps the thought that it could be even better.

2.) Also have the movies memorized


You have an annual marathon of the LOTR extended edition movies (why do they even sell any other edition?), which you can quote all the way through. You love it anyway. You usually watch them dressed up as your favorite character. You may also reminisce about the night you went to each movie premiere, also dressed up.

3.) Don’t need the subtitled translations

Aside from the fact that you have almost every line memorized, you still wouldn’t need the subtitled translations because you are fluent in the elvish language. You may even have a preference language — Quenya or Sindarian. If you are made fun of for speaking Elvish, you are quick to defend yourself by reminding your critics that those are both academically studied languages. You may have even gotten caught in school for passing notes, but never went to the principal’s office because the teacher either couldn’t read it, or could read it and you both became instant friends.

4.) Profile LOTR Style

Depending on whom you identify with in the book, you may profile all the people around you in relation to your character. You may have accidentally called your best friend “Sam,” your nemesis “Legolas,” or your next door neighbor “Gollum” (it’s not your fault he treats his ’71 Mustang like his prrreeecccioussss…). You also tend to treat whomever you are in a relationship with as only a true LOTR nerd would. Sure, you can give away jewelry to signify a love that would surpass even the desire for immortality, but you would never consider a proposal with a ring.

5.) Have “the voice”


You know what it is and you can imitate it. Perfffeeecctttllyyyy.

6.) Live happily ever after

However, your happily ever after isn’t tinted by rose-colored glasses. You get that there are hard things in life, that there are some things you have to fight for, and there are some things you lose, but that, in the end, everything will work out. You don’t see life as a journey to an end; you see it as an ongoing journey that you have the choice to embrace. And perhaps most important of all, you realize “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”

By Katie Bullock