From Marvel to DC to anime, the idea of parallel dimensions is a great tool for writers

Dark Nights: Metal — the DC Universe of your wildest nightmares - Polygon

The Multiverse… The concept that there exists alternate realities across the dimensions has been written about for years. It’s more prevalent now with the emergence of the multiverse in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and DC television (in The Flash TV series and all their annual crossover events). The comics have done a great job of setting this concept up for us, for example DC’s latest run with “Dark Knights: Metal” and creating probably the scariest version of both Batman and The Jokers, The Batman Who Laughs. Then there’s the “Spider-verse” in Marvel Comics with everything from Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man Noir, a Spider Punk, and more. And don’t forget the sci-fi TV series Sliders, which made crossing into alternate universes a weekly episode.

“The multiverse is a theory in which our universe is not the only one, but states that many universes exist parallel to each other. These distinct universes within the multiverse theory are called parallel universes. A variety of different theories lend themselves to a multiverse viewpoint.”

The Theory of Parallel Universes for Dummies (Yes, that’s a thing!)

The concept is simple. One world where things are slightly different than the world we know. I like the worlds where the Nazis win and how it changes the origins of heroes as we know them: Earth-X with the kick ass Uncle Sam and the Freedom Force! That’s how to do it! But there’s so many different possibilities. That’s what makes it not only enjoyable to read and see but to create as well.

The idea of a multiverse, parallel dimensions, or alternate realities (whatever you want to call them) makes it easy for a writer to let their imagination run wild. I mean, you can create practically anything. Nothing is off limits or out of bounds in the idea of the multiverse. It takes the whole “time travel can rewrite history” concept and turns it on its head because, you’re not creating a new timeline but rather a new reality. Even scientists are now saying that the theory is more than science fiction, it’s a possibility. Think of the universe as a deck of cards…

“Now, if you shuffle that deck, there’s just so many orderings that can happen,” physicist Brian Greene says. “If you shuffle that deck enough times, the orders will have to repeat. Similarly, with an infinite universe and only a finite number of complexions of matter, the way in which matter arranges itself has to repeat.”

A Physicist Explains Why Parallel Universes May Exist,

To me, a great example of the parallel universe if Star Trek and its “Mirror Universe” episodes. Each series did it’s own tale within the parallel universe where the Federation was a conqueror and not the benevolent organization as its portrayed in . I love the goatee Spock, bad yet still quite logical, and the scheming Sulu in all his glory. It seems all the really good alternate realities and parallel universes are the ones where the heroes become the villains. In DC, Earth-3 and the Crime Syndicate are a great example, and the “Age of Apocalypse” X-Men event in Marvel. It gives you such a unique perspective into characters we know and love.

I will admit that it has been slightly overdone lately. You see it everywhere nowadays. It’s no longer a something like Philip K. Dick’s “Man in the High Castle” where multiple realities exist, but rather, the idea that one decision creates multiple versions of yourself. However you interpret it, the possibilities are endless.

“In the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, every decision I take in this world creates new universes: one for each and every choice I could possibly make. There’s a boundless collection of parallel worlds, full of innumerable near-copies of me (and you). The multiverse: an endless succession of what-ifs.”

“Multiverse me: Should I care about my other selves?” from NewScientist

I think that comic books is the best place to see the endless possibilities of the multiverse. In Marvel, they even have their own group of heroes protecting the multiverse (The Captain Britain Corps) which is near and dear to my heart since it involves Merlin and Avalon. DC did it so perfectly with the “Elseworlds” graphic novels. “Gotham by Gaslight” is still my favorite, although “Kingdom Come” is a close second. These books take us to new possibilities and that’s always good to read. Sometimes, the stories become stale and twists like these help refresh the fruits of the imagination.

However, we need to be careful of redoing things too much. In the past 20 years, DC and Marvel both have redone their line ups and universes several times, i.e. “New 52” and “BattleWorld” for example. Yes, it has given us new versions of classic characters, but it changes so much it becomes confusing. That’s the grim reality of the multiverse idea for writers. You have millions of possibilities to create using the multiverse theorem, but what is unique about your idea and has it been done before?

World building is an essential part of the craft as a writer, especially a fantasy writer. Building a world from the ground up is one of the hardest parts of the job. The idea of the multiverse gives us the tools to create world based on our own. I’m doing that with my upcoming novel, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart. I created a world where a single event recreated our world as we know it into a land of magic and fantasy. It’s a reimagining of North America into something totally unrecognizable except maybe for pieces of the map. I wanted to use some names associated with cities and places in the U.S. and change others into something new. It made for an exciting challenge as I created my fantasy dystopia. I took inspiration from the great Terry Brooks for this new fantasy adventure.

So while we ponder what we would be like in hundreds of different parallel universes, let’s look at our own reality. Escapism is a good thing to have at hand, but our own reality, our own world, is always a good starting point. Take it from there and the possibilities are endless.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers. His next two fantasy novels, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart and The Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series are being released in 2021.

Authors have always been at the forefront when it comes to race relations


Today we honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the voice he brought to equality, race relations, and civil rights. I was only a baby when Dr. King was alive, but I remember his influence growing up in the 70’s. I was a military brat, raised in a very strict environment, but race was never an issue with me.

One of my best friends in elementary school was African-American. I don’t remember his name, but I do remember him. We connected through our love of comic books. We would both draw our favorite superheroes during our spare time in class. We even cut them out and played with them like action figures.

I think that was the key to my “education” on race relations. In the comics, especially for the superheroes, race was not an issue. Captain America teamed up with the Falcon. The X-Men has heroes that were black, blue, Native American, etc. The best example from the 70’s was the Legion of Superheroes. The covered every race, religion, creed, and color imaginable and always fought for the greater good.

That’s what’s great about comics. They have always represented the best and worst of us, and always showed how good triumphs over evil. Comics teach us that it’s okay to be different, and that we should work together for the benefit of the planet.

Unfortunately, things haven’t changed since Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech. We are still divided, not united, by race. People still use labels for self-identity, persecution, hate speech,and even violence. We are not being “judged by the content of our character, not the color of our skin.”

I’m not going to get political here, pointing fingers at the left or the right. There are people guilty on all sides that are using race to perpetuate an idea or political power, and that’s wrong. We have to get beyond the name calling and find that middle ground. We can’t move forward if we’re not working toward a common goal.

Dr. King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” As writers, we have the responsibility to bring out the light and drive out the darkness through our stories. Stories emulate what’s going on in the world around them, i.e. The Jungle, To Kill a Mockingbird, Grapes of Wrath, etc. This trend has to continue, even more so today.


Even in fantasy stories, there are issues of race. The animosity between Dwarves and Elves is a great example. Although you really can’t compare that to the real world, it’s speaks to the heart and soul of the issue. J.R.R. Tolkien, was keen on representing animosity and friendship throughout the Lord of the Rings books.

Gimli Glóin’s son is renowned, for he was one of the Nine Walkers that set out with the Ring; and he remained in the company of King Elessar throughout the War. He was named Elf-friend because of the great love that grew between him and Legolas, son of King Thranduil, and because of his reverence for the Lady Galadriel […] But when King Elessar gave up his life Legolas followed at last the desire of his heart and sailed over Sea […] We have heard tell that Legolas took Gimli Glóin’s son with him because of their great friendship, greater than any that has been between Elf and Dwarf. If this is true, then it is strange indeed: that a Dwarf should be willing to leave Middle-earth for any love, or that the Eldar should receive him, or that the Lords of the West should permit it. But it is said that Gimli went also out of desire to see again the beauty of Galadriel; and it may be that she, being mighty among the Eldar, obtained this grace for him.

— The Return of the King, Appendix A: Annals of the Kings and Rulers

I’m not trying to compare race relations in a fantasy story to the real-world issues today. What I’m trying to say is before you let that hate and frustration fill your heart, before your type that profanity-laced rant on Twitter or Facebook, remember this … Be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem.

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51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a book/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.

Attending San Diego Comic Con is on my bucket list, but not just yet

It is a dream of mine to one day attend San Diego Comic Con! To walk amongst my people–geeks from around the world–would be an adventure in itself. There is so much going on, from television to movies, books and comic books, any media imaginable is on display at SDCC. The cosplay is amazing as everyone puts on their best costumes for SDCC. The stars are everywhere, and this year was no exception, as Justice League and Avengers: Infinity War went head-to-head this year. As Netflix and Amazon become just as relevant as any big name studio, so too does their offerings, from Marvel’s The Defenders to The Tick, these smaller characters are getting an upgrade to the small screen through these “pay-for” media services.

The firs thing you have to talk about is the trailers, both the released trailers and the “secretly recorded and released” trailers. Justice League definitely made the biggest impact because fans got to see all these great characters in action, and we finally got to see the villain, Steppenwolf. I think that’s why they have a slight edge over Avengers: Infinity War. For some odd reason, Marvel is holding onto their trailer so tight that the “bootleg” recordings is the only reason I saw their trailer. That is really a disservice to the fans who can’t make it to SDCC. Don’t get me wrong, seeing all their movie franchises on one screen is AWESOME but I only saw it in low-res bootlegs.

I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again, this is a great time for geeks. We have been waiting for technology to catch up and give us the superheroes we love on TV and movies, just like they are in the comics. It’s nerd paradise!

I really think that DC is starting to catch up with Marvel when it comes to movies and television shows.Sure, Marvel has a great lineup with all their Netflix series, from The Defenders to The Punisher, as well as the mutant series Legion and The Gifted on Fox, Cloak and Dagger on Freeform with the New Warriors with Squirrel Girl (yes, finally!). Agents of Shield and Inhumans on ABC rounds out a powerful line up of shows. These shows are (for the most part) grittier, down-to-earth, realistic versions of their comic book counterparts.

But DC has an amazing line-up going with their CW shows of Arrow, The  Flash, Supergirl and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Plus, they’re adding Black Lighting, a Titans show on TNT, and Gotham is on Season 4 on Fox and getting better every year. Their shows are more like the comics with colorful costumes, the best villains and great storylines. They’re bringing in new characters, some updated characters and even some classics. I mean B’wana Beast? It’s just incredible. Sometimes, they variety of heroes passing through these shows is like watching the Justice League Unlimited cartoon. You’re always looking in the background just to see who’s there.

Fantasy shows aren’t too far behind either. Netflix’s Bright brings orcs, elves and magic into modern day Los Angeles, with Will Smith and Joel Edgerton. The trailer just blew me away. Even ABC’s Once Upon a Time is changing things up a bit, with a new town, new characters, new fairy tales, and it looks even more fascinating now.

This past weekend, I couldn’t tear myself away from YouTube of Facebook, just waiting for the next video or link to what’s been going on at SDCC. Even more fun is looking at the elaborate cosplay people come out with at a big event like SDCC. Tey get bigger, brighter and more elaborate in everything from comics to anime to video game characters.

So SDCC is definitely on my bucket list. It’s like a religious journey but for geeks. Sure, there are plenty of other comic book conventions across the country, but none hold the power of SDCC. It’s a definite check on the bucket list I need to check off.

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51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.

Diversity is something we all must come to terms with as writers

nhnzry3jycv4bf2qxt63Recently, Marvel’s Vice President of Sales, David Gabriel, claimed that the company’s recent focus on creating diverse superheroes is a driving factor behind its declining comic book sales. He said, “Any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up.”

I don’t agree with this statement, but I can see where he gets his point of view. Recently, there has been a trend to make comic book characters more diverse, but I think that’s more of a natural trend. More diverse characters started out as villains (like The Mandarin and Diablo, for example) but that trend has been changing as time progressed. The 70’s brought us Falcon and Luke Cage, the 80s and 90s brought out War Machine, Black Lightning and Storm. Sometimes it’s more about age than anything else.

Think about it … Captain American, Iron Man and Thor have been leading the Avengers since the 60’s. These characters haven’t aged like the rest of us. I mean, the original X-Men were teenagers in the 60’s, meaning that they should be senior citizens by now. Some characters like Superman and Wonder Woman can look the same because they are alien and God-like, respectfully. However, Batman today is more represented by the elder Bruce Wayne in the Batman Beyond series, not as he is in the comics. I loved it when Dick Grayson took up the mantle because that’s how it should be, but of course they went back to Bruce.

I understand I’m talking more about age discrimination than diversity, but here’s my point. People age, they grow old and they die. So why not let a new generation take up the mantle of these heroes. I think Kamila Khan was a great choice as the new Ms. Marvel, not because she was Muslim, but because she was like many of us who like comics … She’s a fan! Here’s a total fan girl who gets superpowers and becomes her idol. I don’t think there’s a single person out there reading this blog who hasn’t had the same fantasy.

I think the first problem people may have is the youth of the characters. You have comic book fans who started reading comics in the 60s/70s, like me. You don’t need to make all these new characters to be kids. I mean, the new Iron Man (Iron Heart, Riri Williams) and Hulk (Amadeus Cho) are all super smart teenagers, for example. It’s a trend right now that’s pushing the envelope. for us older readers. 

I like it when a longtime sidekick/friend takes over the mantle. Sam Wilson (Falcon) as the new Captain America was a great choice because here was an established character taking the shield and responsibility. The same with Jane Foster as Thor. That was a brilliant move, even with the cancer angle, to give her even more reason to be worthy of the hammer.

Diversity is not the problem with comics. You have four different people wearing the mantle of Spiderman, from the original to a clone, a Latino African-American, a Hispanic from the future, and even a young girl (Spider-Gwen). This is where diversity was done right, bridging the gap across generations. That’s how it needs to be done.

In comics, it has never mattered about the color of their skin. It’s about the heart and soul of the character, as a hero, villain or everyday person. I don’t care if a character is gay or straight, black or white, Hispanic or Asian. We want all these characters to represent people of all ages, race, religion or sexual preference for that matter.

When Marvel brought out the mutant Northstar as being gay, I loved the way it was handled in the story. It wasn’t meant to shock us, or done for the sake of diversity, but rather as a way of giving us depth behind his character’s story. It made sense and broadened the idea of being both mutant and gay and how it affected him.

What I’ve been trying to say is that comics have been becoming more diverse since the 60s. Characters like Black Panther, Luke Cage and Falcon have evolved and grown over the years to give us more and more diverse characters today, like Ms. Marvel, Storm, and the new Hulk. Just remember, comics have always had characters of so many different colors (Nightcrawler, Gamora, Brainiac 5) and races (Dawnstar, Green Lantern (John Stewart), White Tiger) that make comics more and more representative of the world today.

Readers don’t want just diversity in comics for the sake of political correctness. They want good stories. That’s more reasonable for the downward trend of readers and sales rather than blame it all on diversity alone. Think about it, there are various crossover storylines annually, changing the continuity of the comics world multiple times in one year. We’ve changed DC comics multiverse three times in the last decade and Marvel once.

Writers know what the problem is … Consistency, consistency, consistency! Learn it, live it, love it and the readers will return!


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.

Bad time for politics, great time for comic book fans

I am a bit of a political junkie. I watch the news a lot, read all the online news sites and keep tabs on Facebook and Twitter about what’s being said in this year’s election. That being said, I have been ready to take a long walk off a steep cliff since June. If you don’t know who you’re voting for by now, you’re either too stupid, not paying attention or don’t care one way or the other.

I have to say that I don’t want to hear movie stars or other celebrities gloss over about who they think we should vote for. It turns me off, especially if my views are different from theirs. I think back to the whole Dixie Chicks debacle during the Bush Administration. I loved their music and when they decided to put their politics in the forefront, it made them unappealing to listen to. By the fact that they are no longer a group demonstrates my point exactly.

2015-12-03-arrow-headerSo where am I going with all this? I don’t want to see political correctness in my favorite comic book characters. I don’t want to see them changed or updated for the purpose of political correctness. I want to see the ’70s “Blaxploitation” version of Luke Cage, the X-Men that stand up the bigotry and bias of humanity, and the dark, brooding Batman that strikes fear into the hearts of criminals. Why can’t we have comic book characters be comic book characters?

We are losing our grip on what it means to be a comic book character. Everyone is trying to be edgier, darker, more shocking than the next one and it’s getting out of hand. We have a new generation being introduced to comic books through great series being put out on Netflix and the CW, and yet, they’re getting skewed. Luke Cage is being panned for being “too black” and people are criticizing the casting of a “white guy” as Iron Fist? These are people who clearly don’t know who these characters truly are.

At the same time, some of the producers are going “over dramatic” on some series. Arrow and The Flash have both gotten poor ratings for relying on too much drama and not enough action. Agents of Shield has also been guilty of this. Yes, we want to see character development but at the same time, the thing that brings them to life for fans like me is the action and adventure that goes with it.

Maybe it is this “politically correct” environment we live in that tries to make these shows something for more than just the average comic book fan. I understand that but if you change the essence of the character to fit a narrative that meets the criteria of PC, it dilutes the story into a mess.

This is something we, as writers, deal with all the time. Times change and, yes, people need to change with them. Captain America went from World War II hero to fighting the Cold War to fighting terrorism today, and through all that, he never changed who he was. The essence of Steve Rogers was always there, except when they made him a double agent for Hydra but we won’t open that can of worms.

I know that most of the people who write the storylines for TV are themselves fans, but even they have to change things to make them fit into an hour show. Stories yes, but not the characters themselves. Let’s be true to how they were originally written.

SDCC is Christmas in July for Geeks, Part II

dc-heroes-christmasAh, the joys of Christmas (in July) from the cosplayers all dressed in their finest costumes, the shrieking sounds of grown men as they find a rare comic for their collection, and the flashing lights of cameras as the stars take the stage. This is San Diego Comic-Con or Christmas for us nerds. It’s our time of year to bathe in the glory of everything comic book, sci-fi, and video game fantasy.

Part 2 of my review of this year’s big reveals at SDCC will focus on television, as the comic book genre has broadened its shoulders and spread its wings onto the small screen on multiple platforms. From Netflix to the CW, we have everything covered from mutant to magic to legends.

Starting off with Netflix, SDCC gave us a glimpse with trailers for Luke Cage, Iron First, Daredevil (Season 3) and The Defenders. With the exception of the first two, there wasn’t much to see. Daredevil and The Defenders were really just teasers for what’s to come. I did like hearing the voice of Stick (played by Scott Glenn) in the Defenders teaser, as he posed the question how these four (referring to Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist) “can save New York when they can’t even save themselves.” With Luke Cage, we get another hallway fight scene, except this time, it involves a man who has super strength and invulnerability. Iron Fist gave us just a glimpse of his origin story, not much else but just enough to make you want more. Overall, a good representation of the Marvel gritty, reality TV to satisfy our curiosity, for now.

the-flash-kid-flash-fullThe CW is charting a course “full speed ahead” with The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow. The Flash is definitely moving in the “Flashpoint” storyline direction, with a lot of changes in Barry Allen’s new reality. We get to see Kid Flash in all his glory (great costume BTW) and, in the teaser, I saw a brief glimpse of the name and image of a classic Flash villain, Dr. Alchemy. It’s not exactly Flashpoint from the comics, but it seems to fit into the CW’s DC universe. Arrow is changing its tone a bit as Oliver tries to be mayor by day, vigilante by night. He gets help from a handful of new recruits in the form of Mister Terrific, Wilddog and Artemis. The villain for season 5 is Prometheus. He’s a big bad in the comics with tech that allowed him to mimic his enemies fighting style and use it against them, like Taskmaster in Marvel. His origin is different in CW as he was affected by Arrow’s initial killing spree in season one. We’ll see if these changes can bring them out of a dismal, and often criticized, season 4. There’s not much on Supergirl, though one rumor brings the Legionnaire Mon-el to National City and we’ll finally get to see her cousin, Superman, in real life. We’ll have to wait and see if they make an impact as part of the CW. Lastly, Legends of Tomorrow is putting together the Justice Society of America and facing off against the Legion of Doom. You can’t get any better than when Smallville brought the JSA to TV, so this will be interesting to see. Overall, CW has tried its best to keep their TV shows separate from the DC movie universe but still true to the comics. In my opinion, they’re doing a great job.

CoARBxXXEAEaiv0Besides Netflix and the cancellation of Agent Carter, Marvel’s only other show is  Agents of Shield on ABC. With the release of Doctor Strange in November, Agents of Shield are introducing magic to their combined movie/TV world. Ghost Rider will be the main antagonist for them, but not the Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider as portrayed in the movies by Nicolas Cage. This is the current comic book version of Robbie Reyes, played by Gabriel Luna. Instead of a motorcycle, Robbie drives a Dodge Charger with flaming wheels. There are a lot of great back story elements that will tie this version of the Ghost Rider into the current cast of Agents of Shield, including Inhuman Daisy’s evil dad, Calvin Zabo, a.k.a. Mr. Hyde. Marvel does it different from DC, keeping their movie and TV universes one and the same. It’s great because it plays off each other and sometimes brings their movie star power (Samuel L. Jackson and Jamie Alexander just to name a few) to the small screen.

There are a couple of other shows coming out this fall, like the new CBS Star Trek series Star Trek: Discovery, a comedy about an insurance agency specializing in superhero damages called Powerless on NBC, The Punisher getting his own Netflix series, X-Men comic book character Legion on Fox; and of course, season 7 of Game of Thrones. You are seeing a big change in television with the growing popularity of the superhero genre. It’s safe to say that we will see more series like this to come. It may be overused to some, but to geeks like me, it makes for great TV.


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse. The Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.

Comic-Con is the reason for the season (Christmas in July, that is …)


You first look at the Justice League…Wow!

July is usually remembered for the 4th of July, Independence Day, with a lot of fireworks, picnics and the red, white, and blue. July is also a time for oppressive heat, sitting on the beach getting sand in your trunks, or maybe just enjoying some fun in the sun. For even a few fanatics out there (and I’m speaking from experience because I’m married to one), July is revered as the halfway point until Christmas, hence the hours and hours of “Christmas in July” sales on shopping channels, making an enormous debt on my wallet. However, for me, July means San Diego Comic-Con and the best trailers, interviews, reveals about everything in geekdom. That’s my Christmas!

I know there are tons of columns, blogs, news articles and geek websites that have already covered every single aspect of Comic-Con, so why would I want to stick my toe in the water that crowded with big, ugly feet and well-manicured Pedi’s? Well, I thought I’d weigh in from the aspect of an author. We know the stories, we love the stories, but the question is, how are they being told? Granted, I am basing my opinions on trailers but you can learn a lot about a movie in under two minutes.

As with most comic book movies today, they cannot stay 100% true to the source material but they do try. I mean, Ultron was created by Hank Pym, not Tony Stark, but did so to make it relevant to the Avengers. This is a prime example of what I’m talking about. One of the best movies to hold true to form in its transition from book-to-screenplay is Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them since the screenplay was written by author J.K. Rowling. This is one movie that cannot be faulted for not being true and, besides the fact, it looks absolutely amazing. I love old New York and to throw magic into that noir setting is a treat for me.

There were so many more movies represented at Comic-Con, from King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Kong: Skull Island, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and more but these films were the cream of the crop.

13717328_1189865937724587_973986590614481376_oWonder Woman took an early turn out of the gate by starting her adventures in World War I vice World War II, though the sentiment behind this was mainly because there hasn’t been a superhero movie done in that era before. To be honest, I think that putting Wonder Woman in World War II would bring too many comparisons to Captain America: The First Avenger anyway, so it was a good choice. They are sticking to her mythology, so that’s good news to me, and her fighting scenes in the movies are killer. Plus it’s about damn time Wonder Woman got her own movie anyway. Lynda Carter has been waiting for more than 40 years to pass the torch and Gal Gadot was the best decision Warner Brothers made in casting this movie.

CoF-W9rXgAEG-auI don’t want to go back-to-back DC, so let me jump into Doctor Strange next. I really have mixed feelings about this. The trailer was amazing. The special effects reflect the incredible power of the mystic arts as created by artist Steve Ditko and writer Stan “The Man” Lee. The casting was undeniable as Benedict Cumberbatch and the rest of the cast are incredibly talented, even with the haters trolling about Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One. What bothers me is Baron Mordo, as portrayed by Chiwetel Ejiofor. In the comics, Mordo was a jealous, ambitious protegé of the Ancient One that turned to evil when Strange was picked over him. They seem to be more allies than adversaries in the movie. I’ll have to wait and see if there’s more to their relationship.

Justice League was definitely the surprise of the convention. Not only did they  show the first image of the entire league standing together, but they also gave a quick glimpse of the trailer. It was a wonderful blend of humor, drama, and action that is making this the most anticipated movie of 2017. Another brilliant casting effort that includes Ezra Miller has more of the wit and humor of Wally West from the Justice League cartoon rather than Barry Allen in the comics. Jason Momoa is quite brooding as Aquaman, but I love the “talking to fish” comment by Batman. It’s been the running joke on Aquaman over the years and it plays out perfectly. Cyborg looks intense, yet vulnerable, as played by Ray Fisher. It was just a brief glimpse, but it continues to show Zack Snyder’s influence in the DC Extended Universe.

I will continue my look at the Comic-Con on Wednesday with a review of the upcoming TV series and what they’re bringing next season. Until then, head over to YouTube and check out all the trailers from San Diego Comic-Con.

More comic book heroes, less reality housewives on television please!

I have been, for lack of s better term, “geeking” out the past few weeks. Between the new trailer for Season 9 of Doctor Who, Stars Wars Episode VII concept art and behind the scenes video and the announcement Matt Ryan (aka John Constantine) is coming to this season of Arrow has been exciting.

We live in an age when sci-fi/fantasy is more and more prevalent on TV and movies. Some are saying its too much but I say it’s about time.

kampfstern-galactica-poster_articleBack in the 70s/80s, when I was growing up, there wasn’t a huge following for the genre. Sure, we had classic shows like the original Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers, the Six Million Dollar Man and Kolchak: The Night Stalker (my personal favorite as that series influenced me to a writer); but along with that we had flops like Manimal, Automan, Spider-man and the incredibly awful Justice League and Captain America TV movies.

CGI and improved make-up and special effects have brought the sci-fi/fantasy genre new life. In this era of reality shows upon reality shows, I love the new line up coming to TV. There are too many shows about rich housewives from New York and LA, rich wives of doctors and basketball players and every Kardashian alive today.

Shows like Arrow, The Flash, Gotham and Grimm have made an impact on television with great characters and equally masterful writing by people who are true geeks. It’s really bring geeks and non-geeks together to support these great shows.

That’s been the trouble with shows in the past. They never stuck to the heart of the story. They just slapped the characters on TV with a few cheesy special effects and called it a day.

Writing is just as important in fantasy/sci-fi shows and movies. Ant-Man and Fantastic Four are two great examples where story matters. Though it took them six years to bring Ant-Man to the silver screen, it was a great combination of humor, action and drama. On the other hand, How someone can royally screw up the “first family of superheroes” THREE times is beyond me.

maxresdefaultThis year, they’re adding Supergirl, DC Legends of Tomorrow and Heroes Reborn into the mix. These are just a few of what’s to come for comic book television, with the Teen Titans coming to TNT down the road and Fox working on an X-Men TV series. Let’s face it, it’s exciting to be a geek right now.

Did you know Superman is vulnerable to magic?

Marvel's version of the sorceress Morgan le Fay

Marvel’s version of the sorceress Morgan le Fay

With the constant rush of superhero movies coming out regularly, filmakers are trying hard to bring the heavy-hitters to the big screen. The Avengers: Age of Ultron and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice are just the beginning of the now steady diet of comic book-based films and TV shows. Magic and medieval fantasy in these genres are often forgotten and mostly ignored.

NBC tried to bring the supernatural side of the DC universe to life in Constantine, fans loved it but it fell flat in ratings. Marvel is planning a Doctor Strange movie with Benedict Cumberbatch and DC has Guillermo del Toro helming Justice League Dark to add to his long line of magical fantasy-based movies.

Sorry, I digress … I don’t want to talk about the could have/should have but rather what comics have done with medieval fantasy over the years, specifically those characters from Arthurian legend. I think Marvel, DC and other independent comics have put their own unique spin on these classic characters and even integrated them routinely into their world. There are so many to pick from so I’m just gonna hit the highlights.

Morgan le Fay was introduced in Marvel Comics in Spider-Woman #2. She has been associated with Doctor Doom on more than one occassion but I think the best use of her character was in the Avengers where she used the Scarlet Witch’s reality-warping powers to turn the world into one of magic where she ruled with the Queen’s Vengance, a twisted version of the team. Seeing medieval versions of the Avengers (Captain America as Yeoman America for example) was great.

My favorite has to to be Iron Man “Doomquest,” a two-story arc where Iron Man and Doctor Doom are flung back to Camelot where Iron Man teams up with King Arthur to fight Doom and Morgan le Fay. In the end, the two have to work together to get back to their own time. It was made even better with a “What if” issue where Doom left Iron Man in Camelot and Tony Stark eventually became King Anthony of Camelot.

I would also like to mention Merlyn (as they spelled it) and his association with Captain Britain, Dane Whitman aka The Black Knight (an Avenger) and the Pendragon (a source of the magical power of England) just to name a few honorable mentions. Marvel has truly embraced the Arthurian legend within its pages.

Morgaine le Fey and her son Mordred from Justice League Unlimited.

Morgaine le Fey and her son Mordred from the TV series  Justice League Unlimited.

DC has had a bonanza of magic and fantasy, but mostly around the Greek gods (i.e. Wonder Woman) but Morgaine le Fay (as she is called in DC) and her son Mordred have both played a part in the DC universe. I always thought it was interesting that, besides kryptonite, Superman is also vulnerable to magic. That has played out in the many dealings with the immortal sorceress.

Morgaine was introduced in DC in Madame Xanadu #1 where she is revealed to be the sister of Madame Xanadu and the Lady of the Lake, three survivors of ancient Atlantis. Morgaine is also tied to one of most unique characters in the DC universe … Etrigan the Demon. The pet demon of Merlin was bound to a human Jason Blood, an ally of Morgaine, as penance for his betrayal. This puts Etrigan at odds with the sorceress for centuries to come.

One of the best stories from DC with Morgaine has to be “Kid Stuff” from the animated Justice League Unlimited series. Mordred betrays his mother by stealing the Amulet of First Magic and banishing all adults from the world. Morgaine turns to the Justice League for help but has to turn them all into kids to return them to the real world and stop Mordred. The rest is just a roller coaster of fun watching Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern (along with baby Etrigan) fight Mordred.

There are many others I could mention here … Lady Pendragon from Image Comics, Camelot 3000 from DC, even Excalibur from Marvel, just to name a few. They all have ties to Arthurian legend and magical fantasy. You may not see them translate to the big screen like the Avengers and Superman, but they have their place in comic books.