Jul 28 2014

SDCC 2014 Highlights: 10 things that excite us


SDCC 2014 Montage

So that is this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego done and dusted, and whether you could be there or not, we stand by our belief that the Monday following such an event should be declared a geek public holiday. That should go for all ‘Cons actually. The sheer amount of news leading up to and coming out of the ‘Con is a little hard to digest, so we’ve made it easy for you by summarising some of our favourite stories coming out of the last week or so.

Links are provided to the full stories where we’ve covered them, so happy reading! You can find our complete SDCC 2014 coverage here.

1. Guardians of the Galaxy 2′  & Animated Series

Josh Brolin as Thanos (SDCC 2014)While some were expecting Marvel to fill in more of the release date schedule they announced ahead of the ‘Con, they simply concentrated on their 2015 releases of Ant-Man (see below) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (again, more on that below). The 6500 fans in the hall were treated to exclusive footage from both, in grand SDCC tradition, and that was pretty much it. Then Josh Brolin walked on-stage wearing Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet, and the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was sealed.

However, Marvel had one final surprise of sorts up their sleeves. In an announcement made via satellite from London, writer/director James Gunn and star Chris Pratt took to Hall H’s screen. “How much trouble would I get in if I just told them Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was coming out?” Gunn asked the audience. “It’s time the kids take over the candy store,” says Gunn, following a hastily prepared title drop. It will hit cinemas around on 28 July 2017.

It was a surprising move given that Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t hit cinemas until later this week, although the advanced early buzz and extremely positive reviews have clearly put Marvel in a good enough mood to greenlight this, and a forthcoming animated series. It’s enough to make a grown geek cry with joy.

2. That Wonder Woman photo

Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice - Gal Gadot as Wonder WomanWe’d already seen pictures of Batfleck looking sad, and Henry Cavill as Superman is really nothing new, but the Internet had become tired of complaining about the miscasting of Gal Gadot. Finally, with the first picture of Gadot’s Amazonian warrior unleashed onto the web in all of its desaturated glory, fans could stop flapping and start fapping, at least until they found something about the costume they didn’t like.

When all was said and done, the costume is unmistakably Wonder Woman. The star-spangled thing has been done to death on countless TV episodes (actually, we can probably count them), comic books and other media.

Of course, the ‘Net still seems to be obsessed with the width of her thighs. Isn’t it great to see geeks being body conscious for a change? At any rate, we’ve seen our DC Trinity from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in live action stills. We’re looking forward to some kind of official video bringing them together. Speaking of which…

SEE: SDCC 2014: First photo of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’

3. That Batman v Superman footage

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - Still from SDCC 2014 footageThat we didn’t see, of course, because it was leaked and that would be naughty. All of the links have been swiftly removed by Warner, making this mostly a treat for fans in the actual hizzouse…for now. There’s something to be said for delaying gratification.

A brief description of the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice footage could briefly be described as a heavily armoured Batman with glowing eyes (think: The Dark Knight Returns) standing on a rooftop. He removes a tarp covering something: it’s the Bat Signal. Shining it into the sky, Superman appears. It looks like Batman is calling Supes out (think: The Dark Knight Returns). The Man of Steel’s eyes glow red. It looks like it is going to be a showdown (think: The Dark Knight Returns).

Everything about the film is screaming a massive tip of the hat to Frank Miller’s classic style, not least of which is the wise casting choice of Ben Affleck’s chin. We know from past experience that Zack “Snack” Snyder is very astute at picking cool looking things, and we are quietly crossing our fingers and toes that it will translate into something cohesive on-screen. Until then, we’ll have to be content in knowing DC on the small screen is in safe hands.

4. Avengers: Rage of Ultron

Avengers: Rage of UltronNo, that’s not a typo. With the film Avengers: Age of Ultron hitting cinemas next year (you’ve heard about that, yeah?), Marvel will be releasing a new original graphic novel that’s set in continuity with the current run of comics. From the top team of the ubiquitous Rick Remender,  his Uncanny X-Force collaborator Jerome Opeña and Dean White, Ultron will return to the comic pages for the first time since Brian Michael Bendis’ Age of Ultron.

Ultron is back, but he’s now inside the computer core of Saturn’s moon Titan. Fans will know that Titan is the home of the intergalactic terror Thanos.This could get interesting.

Previous entries of the revived graphic novel line have included Avengers: Endless WartimeSpider-Man: Family Business and X-Men: No More Humans. Jim Starlin’s Thanos: The Infinity Revelation is due out next month.Marvel’s graphic novels go all the way back to 1982, of course, with the now-classic The Death of Captain Marvel kicking off the modern concept of the graphic novel.

Expect Avengers: Rage of Ultron to arrive in stores and online in April 2015.

SEE: SDCC 2014: Marvel announces ‘Avengers: Rage of Ultron’ graphic novel for 2015

5. Arrow: Season 3 features…Ra’s Al-Ghul

Arrow is the greatest comic book show ever to grace televisions. That’s a fact. Look it up on the Internet if you don’t believe us. The only thing more exciting than the thrilling conclusion to the second season is the teaser trailer released for the third season a few days ago.

Then it got more thrilling. Not content to let it be, star Stephen Amell presented a slightly longer version of trailer at his panel a few days later. This one featured the rise of a villain that will plague Ollie throughout the third season. That’s right: Ra’s Al-Ghul.

We’re yet to see his face, but the cape and the rings are a pretty good indication he’s stepped straight out of the comics and onto the small screen. Is Warner foxing us with the no TV/film crossover stance? Ra’s is a pretty major Batman player, so does that mean Batman exists in Arrow’s world?

6. Star Wars comics return to Marvel

Star Wars #1 (Marvel) - John CassadayMany moons ago (in a publishing house far, far away…), Star Wars comics were published by Marvel. The first-ever series ran from 1977 to 1986 for over 100 issues. Until recently, Dark Horse had been milking the intergalactic cash-cow with one of their most high-profile licences. Now that LucasFilm, Marvel and Disney are all under one happy roof, Star Wars comics are returning to the publisher.

Beginning in 2015, from January through March, Marvel will launch three new titles that are set during the original trilogy of films: Star WarsStar Wars: Darth Vader and Star Wars: Princess Leia. Yet Marvel aren’t resting on their laurels here, and are taking advantage of some of their top tier talent. Creators include Jason Aaron, Kieron Gillen, Mark Waid, John Cassaday, Salvador Larocca and Terry Dodson. Just digest that for a moment.

Like the original Marvel comics, these will be set during the same period of time as the original trilogy, principally between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back, focusing on what the Rebels and the Empire were up to following the destruction of the first Death Star. This is actually potentially more exciting that Episode VII. Potentially.

SEE: SDCC 2014: Marvel announce ‘Star Wars’ comics from Aaron, Cassaday, Gillen, Larocca, Waid and Dodson

7. That Avengers concept art

Vision. Ultron. Quicksilver. Scarlet Witch. ‘Nuff said.

Avengers: Age of Ultron - Ryan Meinerding poster

8. Comixology’s DRM-free backups

ComixologyNot as flashy as some of the other announcements, Comixology might have actually won the whole damn ‘Con with their ‘little’ announcement in the early days of this year’s SDCC.

In response to the widely discussed issues surrounding the comics store/app, the company announced: “ComiXology is proud to offer downloadable DRM-free backups of your books from participating publishers. You can now store local copies of your books in PDF or CBZ formats. Here’s what you need to know:” That means you can now download, and keep, any items you have bought through Comixology and port them over to you favourite comics reader.

There are some footnotes though. The asterisk point is that Image Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, MonkeyBrain Comics, Thrillbent, Top Shelf Productions and Zenescope Entertainment have opted in to the program so far. That means that DC Comics and Marvel are noticeably absent from the list. Dark Horse has their own app thing going on, so they were never a part of Comixology anyway. Even so, this goes a long way to solving the concern that many had that they were simply “leasing” comics rather than buying them outright. However, others still feel it doesn’t go far enough in fixing the issues created for iOS users when Amazong bought the company earlier this year.

9. Ant-Man art and casting

Ant-Man helmet (SDCC 2014)This might actually be The Little Film That Could. Like Guardians of the Galaxy, there’s not a stack of name recognition with wider audiences, so it is a good thing that ants can carry 5,000 times their own body weight before losing their heads.

The first hint of awesome came with the release of some insanely wicked concept art, showing off the new costume and stars Paul Rudd (playing Scott Lang) and Michael Douglas (as Hank Pym). As the film immediately following Avengers: Age of Ultron next year, it will have some pretty big shoes to fill. Sometimes going bigger also means going smaller.

The other news was the confirmation of  Corey Stoll as Yellowjacket, one of the chief antagonists in the film, along with Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne. In the comics, that makes her the daughter of Pym and a yet-to-be-cast (if ever) Janet Van Dyne. Incoming director Peyton Reed’s plot will still revolve around heist, with Pym taking Rudd under his wing to train him up as the new Ant-Man.


10. Image’s 12 new titles

Tokyo GhostThe massive list of titles were announced by Image Comics at ImageExpo technically, but were one of the biggest ‘Con satellite bits of news from Image. These included (deep breath)…

Rick Remender (again!), Sean Gordon Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth’s Tokyo Ghost; Marian Churchland, Claire Gibson, and Sloane Leong’s From Under the Mountains; Joe Casey and Paul Maybury’s Valhalla Mad; John Arcudi and James Harren’s Rumble; Ray Fawkes’ Intersect; Tom Neely and Keenan Marshall Keller’s The Humans; Gabriel Hardman’s Kinski and Hardman and Corinna Bechko’s Invisible Republic; Becky Cloonan and Andy Belanger’s Southern Cross; Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen’s Descender; Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein’s Drifter; Kurt Busiek and Ben Dewey’s Tooth and Claw; and Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey’s Injection.

Undoubtedly the title that is just dripping with cool is Tokyo Ghost, combining that ubiquitous Remender with the art of Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth. We’ve seen the results of the latter combo with The Wake, and the chance to see more with a dystopian Japanese setting is all of our geek chickens coming home to roost. Yet the sheer number of names on that list is enough to make us wonder how long the Big 2 will remain on top, with all of their top talent doing their best work on the creator-owned market.

Bonus: Kevin Smith’s Tusk

Tusk posterSure, there was plenty of other film news about Godzilla 2, King Kong prequel Skull Island and more, but we can get away with throwing this one in, because Kevin Smith has written a stack of comics and is a fellow podcaster. Plus, it’s our site and we can do whatever we like with it.

The horror film stars Justin Long, Haley Joel Osment, Genesis Rodriguez and Michael Parks. Long is a journalist who finds the story of a lifetime in Mr. Howe (Parks), a worldwide adventurer with amazing tales and a curious penchant for walruses.

This is one to get excited about. Smith is a man reborn of late, reportedly already working on his next few films Yoga Hosers (a spin-off from Tusk) and Helena Handbag. Clerks III has also been in development for a number of years. Tusk is released in the US on 19 September 2014.

Check out the trailer on our sister site, The Reel Bits.