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Leto, Hardy, Will Smith join Suicide Squad
Warner Bros has announced a strong cast for its forthcoming Suicide Squad movie including recent Oscar winner Jared Leto as the Joker, Dark Knight Rises star Tom Hardy as Rick Flag, Will Smith as Deadshot, and Australian actress Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. Variety also claims Batman v Superman's Jesse Eisenberg is likely to return as Lex Luthor, and the studio is chasing Oprah Winfrey for the role of Amanda Waller.
Suicide Squad will begin shooting next April for a scheduled August 2016 release, from writer-director Tom Ayer (Training Day, End of Watch).
Captain America 3 adds Daniel Brühl
Marvel Studios has announced acclaimed German actor Daniel Brühl will join the cast of 2016's Captain America 3: Civil War. Deadline reports Brühl is set to play a villainous role, adding that in addition to Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man and Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther the movie is expected to also feature the Winter Soldier, the Falcon, Black Widow and Nick Fury. Variety adds Brühl may only have a small role in Captain America 3 but will be the primary antagonist in Doctor Strange.
Beginning his career in European cinema in the 1990s, Brühl came to the notice of mainstream audiences as Nazi propaganda hero Frederik Zoller in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds and Formula 1 legend Niki Lauda in Rush, alongside Thor's Chris Hemsworth.
DCU approaches Convergence
DC has announced its entire superhero line will go on hiatus during April and May 2015 for a nine-week event Convergence, while the company completes its relocation from New York to Burbank, California. Following on from the end of the Earth 2: World’s End and New 52: Future’s End weekly series, Convergence will see Brainiac assembling a world outside time and space drawing together characters from timelines and realities across the the DCU ‘multiverse’. The event kicks off on 1 April with the zero issue of a nine-part core Convergence miniseries, penned by television writer Jeff King in his comics writing debut, accompanied by 40 two-part series during April and May from various writers and artists spotlighting characters and events from the company’s 80-year publishing history and their connection to its recent New 52 reboot.
Marvel Studios announces phase three
Marvel Studios has unveiled the third ‘phase’ in its expanding cinematic universe, announcing nine new movies to follow 2015’s Avengers 2 and Ant-Man. As rumoured May 2016’s third Captain America movie will be titled Captain America: Civil War, followed in November by Doctor Strange — although the widely reported casting of Benedict Cumberbatch was not confirmed. May 2017 sees a sequel for Guardians of the Galaxy, followed in July by Thor: Ragnarok and in November by Black Panther starring Chadwick Boseman. Thanos is set to be the villain in the two-part Avengers: Infinity War with instalments in May of 2018 and 2019, interspersed with the debut of Carol Danvers in July 2018’s Captain Marvel and the Inhumans in November of the same year.
Studio head Kevin Feige noted the Marvel cinematic take on Civil War will differ from the comics version, centred more on government control of superhero activity than secret identities. Black Panther is also set to appear in Captain America: Civil War, in costume, as a lead-in to his solo movie.
Benedict Cumberbatch is Doctor Strange
Deadline reports Marvel Studios is close to finalising the casting of fan-favourite UK actor Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, with horror specialist Scott Derrickson to helm a 2016 solo film featuring the Sorcerer Supreme. Cumberbatch is best known for the titular role in the BBC's acclaimed Sherlock, with appearances in other genre productions including Star Trek: Into Darkness and The Hobbit complementing acclaimed dramatic roles in films including Twelve Years A Slave, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Atonement.
Cumberbatch reportedly represents a second choice option for Marvel after negotiations with Joaquin Phoenix broke down over Marvel's plans to feature Doctor Strange in both one or a series of solo films and future Avengers instalments, with subsequent rumours linking names including Ethan Hawke, Jared Leto, Matthew McConaughey, Colin Farrell and Oscar Isaac to the role.
WB announces future DC movies
Warner Bros has announced a massive slate of future DC movies forming a Justice League-centric shared universe. Following Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016 will be a Suicide Squad movie directed by David Ayer (also 2016), Wonder Woman starring Batman v Superman's Gail Gadot (2017), Justice League Part One directed by Zack Snyder (2017), The Flash starring Ezra Miller (2018), Aquaman starring Game of Thrones' Jason Momoa (2018), Shazam starring Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam (2019), Justice League Part Two also directed by Snyder (2019), Cyborg starring Ray Fisher (2020), and finally a rebooted Green Lantern (2020). The announcement indicates these movies are in addition to future Superman and Batman solo movies.
Slashfilm has prepared a guide to superhero movies slated for release between now and the end of the decade, which includes 10 Marvel Studios movies, 10 movies featuring Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men from Sony and Fox, and now at least 10 DC movies.
Bleeding Cool claims Jena Malone will play a female Robin in Batman v Superman, furthering speculation the film will be based at least in part on Frank Miller's iconic The Dark Knight Returns.
Robert Downey Jr joins Cap 3, prepares for Civil War
Variety has the scoop that Robert Downey Jr will reprise the role of Iron Man in 2016's Captain America 3, centred on a conflict between the two Avengers leaders that will lead into a Marvel Cinematic Universe take on 2006's crossover event Civil War. The report indicates Downey Jr has inked a new deal with Marvel Studios which will see him appear in both the third Captain America and Avengers movies.
The news has fuelled rumours that Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America 3 directors Joe and Anthony Russo are in the frame to succeed Joss Whedon at the helm of the Avengers movies, and could direct the third and a potential fourth instalment in the series.
Perhaps not coincidentally, Marvel has released a promo image teasing a return to the Civil War storyline in mid-2015.
Marvel highlights from New York Comic Con
Marvel has announced a new year-long Secret Wars series launching next May from Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic, as the culmination of the current ‘Time Runs Out’ storyline running through Hickman’s Avengers and New Avengers. Project editor and Marvel senior vice president Tom Brevoort indicated the series will be on an even grander scale than recent Marvel events including the current Axis. In the vein of the original 1984 Secret Wars, conceived and written by editor in chief Jim Shooter as Marvel’s first real crossover, the new series will feature a heavy merchandising component including a toy line through Hasbro.
Cosmic titles including Guardians of the Galaxy, Legendary Star-Lord, Nova, Captain Marvel, All-New X-Men and Cyclops will unite for a crossover event The Black Vortex, launching in February with an Alpha issue illustrated by Ed McGuinness. 2015 will also see a Gamora ongoing series penned by Guardians of the Galaxy screenwriter Nicole Perlman.
Fantastic Four writer James Robinson confirmed the title will return to its original numbering – and the team to their blue costumes – with January’s issue #642, the beginning of an arc ‘The End is Fourever’ leading to the conclusion of the current series. January will also see the launch of a new Ant-Man solo series from Nick Spencer and Ramon Rosanas, followed later in 2015 by a relaunched Hawkeye from recent Green Arrow writer Geoff Lemire and artist Ramon Perez.
Finally, Marvel will add a fourth title to its new Star Wars line in April next year with Kanan: The Last Padawan, a prequel to Disney’s new Star Wars Rebels animated series exploring the early life of rebel leader and former Jedi apprentice Kanan Jarrus. The ongoing series will be written by Greg Weisman, an animation veteran and executive producer on Star Wars Rebels, with art by Pepe Larraz.
James Bond Will Return ... at Dynamite
Dynamite Entertainment has inked a deal with Ian Fleming Publications to publish new comics featuring iconic secret agent James Bond, with plans for a series in 2015 exploring the character’s origins as a prequel to his debut in Fleming’s 1953 novel Casino Royale. The agreement encompasses the entire literary history of 007 from the original fourteen novels penned by Ian Fleming to recent books by authors including Sebastian Faulks, Jeffery Deaver and William Boyd.
Margot Kidder comes to Adelaide
Margot Kidder, who portrayed Lois Lane in all four of the Christopher Reeve Superman movies, will appear at Adelaide's iconic Capri Theatre on Saturday 25 October. Autograph signings and a Q&A session will be followed by a screening of 1978's classic Superman. For more details and to book tickets see the Capri's web site.
Also coming up, New York Times bestselling fantasy novelist Brent Weeks will appear live via video link at Salisbury's Len Beadell Library on Thursday 25 September – see the City of Salisbury's site for details.
Fox announces Deadpool movie; Starlight heading to big screen
20th Century Fox has set a February 2016 release date for a solo movie featuring cult mutant 'merc with a mouth' Deadpool, which will see visual effects artist Tim Miller make his feature directing debut from a screenplay by Zombieland writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. Ryan Reynolds played the character in 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine and is expected to return, having personally advocated for an R-rated Deadpool film and shot a test visual effects sequence which recently leaked online.
Fox has also announced Gary Whitta will pen a screen adaptation of Mark Millar and Goran Parlov's recent Image Comics space opera series Starlight. With X-Men: Days of Future Past's Simon Kinberg attached as a producer, Starlight is the latest of Millar's creator-owned titles to move to the big screen following Wanted, Kick-Ass and its sequel and the upcoming Kingsman: The Secret Service. A UK computer games journalist turned Hollywood screenwriter, Whitta scripted The Book of Eli and After Earth and is currently working on a Star Wars project with Godzilla director Gareth Edwards.
Marvel readies new Miracleman stories
Marvel has announced December’s Miracleman Annual #1 will showcase the first new stories featuring the character for more than two decades. Headlining the issue is a Kid Miracleman story penned by Grant Morrison during the 1980s but never published, which at the writer’s request will be illustrated by Marvel chief creative officer and 1990s star artist Joe Quesada. Also included will be a story reuniting the acclaimed X-Statix team of Peter Milligan and Mike Allred, in a retro style reminiscient of the character’s original run during the 1950s.
Marvel purchased the Marvelman/Miracleman character in 2009 from original creator Mick Anglo, apparently ending a long-running legal saga centred on a claim of ownership by Todd McFarlane, and this year began remastering and reprinting Alan Moore’s massively acclaimed 1980s reinvention of the character as originally published in UK anthology series Warrior.
Action Comics #1 sells for record price
A near-pristine copy of 1938’s Action Comics #1, featuring the first appearance of Superman, has sold via eBay auction for a record $US3.2 million. Rated at 9.0 by professional comics graders CGC, the issue was stored in a box for almost 40 years and passed through a small number of private hands before recently being purchased by US comics dealer Darren Adams. The previous sales record of $2.16m was set in 2011 for a copy of the same issue once owned by actor Nicholas Cage. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation which supports spinal cord injury research.
San Diego Comic-Con and Image Comics Expo highlights
Star Wars comics return to Marvel in 2015 with three titles, all set during the continuity of the original movie trilogy, launching in January through March: ongoing series Star Wars by Jason Aaron and John Cassaday and Star Wars: Darth Vader by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca, plus Star Wars: Princess Leia by Mark Waid and Terry Dodson as the first of a string of limited series.
Mark Waid will also pen an upcoming Agents of SHIELD title bringing the characters of the television series into the Marvel comics universe, with each self-contained issue to feature a different artist from a roster initially including Carlos Pacheco, Alan Davis and Chris Sprouse.
Comixology has moved to counter the most significant criticism of its cloud-based digital comics platform by introducing downloadable DRM-free versions of purchased issues, in PDF and CBR formats. The download option will be available on a per-publisher basis, with Image, Dynamite, Top Shelf and Mark Waid’s Thrillbent signing on but Marvel and DC noticeably absent.
Image Comics’ Saga was the big winner at the 2014 Eisner Awards, picking up Best Continuing Series, Best Writer for Brian K. Vaughan and Best Painter/Multimedia Artist for Fiona Staples, while DC/Vertigo’s The Wake earned Best Limited Series and Best Penciller/Inker for Sean Murphy. Indie icons the Hernandez brothers picked up their first ever Eisners, with Best Short Story for Gilbert and Best Writer/Artist for Jamie for their work on Love and Rockets: New Stories #6. Among the inductees to the Will Eisner Hall of Fame were Alan Moore, Denny O’Neill, Bernie Wrightson and Hayao Miyazaki.
Following positive early reviews for Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel Studios has confirmed James Gunn will return to both write and direct a sequel to be released in July 2017. The studio has already announced its release dates all the way ahead to 2019, indicating it is planning three movies for 2017.
Among the many new series announced at the Image Comics Expo were Tokyo Ghosts by Rick Remender and Sean Murphy, Descender by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen, Tooth & Claw by Kurt Busiek and Ben Dewey, and Injection by recent Moon Knight collaborators Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey.
The acclaimed Uncanny X-Force team of writer Rick Remender and artist Jerome Opeña will reunite for an in-continuity graphic novel Avengers: Rage of Ultron, slated for April 2015 to coincide with the second Avengers movie.
December’s landmark Spawn #250 will see Al Simmons return to the title role, and a feature an epilogue by a new writer and artist team who will take over the book with #251. The entire run of the series is also set to become available digitally in partnership with Comixology.
In addition to taking on the role of Captain America, Sam Wilson will lead a new team of Avengers including Spider-Man in the relaunched Captain America and the Mighty Avengers from Al Ewing and Luke Ross. Meanwhile writers Kieron Gillen and Marguerite Bennett will join artists Phil Jimenez and Stephanie Hans for an ongoing Angela series, while Dennis Hopeless and Greg Land will launch a new Spider-Woman solo series as part of the Spider-Verse event.
In a pre-Comic Con announcement, Dynamite Entertainment will add to its slate of retro- and pulp-themed titles by publishing a new series of Will Eisner’s The Spirit. In a similar vein cult Canadian science fiction series Orphan Black is the latest TV property to be licensed by IDW, with the publisher also set to collaborate with Boom on a Star Trek/Planet of the Apes crossover.
Among the growing number of tie-ins to Marvel’s upcoming Spider-Verse event will be the clone-centric Scarlet Spiders by Mike Costa and Paco Diaz, featuring Kaine, an alternate timeline Ben Reilly and Ultimate Jessica Drew. The upcoming third season of Marvel animated series Ultimate Spider-Man will also see its own take on the Spider-Verse.
Marvel’s upcoming Agent Carter TV series will feature two episodes directed by Captain America: The Winter Soldier helmers Joe and Anthony Russo, with their predecessor Joe Johnson also keen to direct an episode, along with a pilot penned by Winter Soldier screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.
Among the new cast members for season five of HBO’s Game of Thrones are Jonathan Pryce and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s Alexander Siddig.
Cult identical twin horror directors the Soska sisters have been tapped to helm a feature film version of Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti’s Painkiller Jane.
Marvel reveals new Captain America, Iron Man, Thor
Sam Wilson will leave behind his superhero identity of the Falcon to take up the role of Captain America in the forthcoming series All-New Captain America, debuting in late 2014 from Rick Remender and Stuart Immonen. Steve Rogers – recently depowered and massively aged after the Super-Solider Serum was drained from his body by the villainous Iron Nail – will remain in the series as an advisor to Wilson, who will inherit Cap’s iconic shield as part of a new costume incorporating the Falcon’s wings.
The new Captain America leads a raft of changes to some of Marvel’s major heroes, including relaunched books for Iron Man and Thor, under the banner ‘Avengers NOW’ and following on from forthcoming crossover event Axis. Superior Iron Man from Australian writer Tom Taylor and Turkish artist Yildiray Cinar, both hired away from DC, will see Tony Stark relocate to San Francisco as part of a bold plan for transforming the city including releasing his Extremis technology to the public as a smartphone app. Meanwhile, Thor will relaunch with a new volume from continuing writer Jason Aaron and artist Russell Dauterman which will see a mystery female character wielding Mjolnir and taking up the name and powers of the thunder god, with the events of Axis seeing the current Thor become unworthy of the mantle.
Along with previously announced new books featuring the Winter Soldier and Deathlok, Marvel is also rumoured to be readying ongoing series for Doctor Strange and Ant-Man as part of the Avengers NOW event.
Tarantino, Wagner team for Django/Zorro crossover
Django Unchained filmmaker Quentin Tarantino will join fan-favourite comics talent Matt Wagner for a sequel to the 2012 film which will see Django meet fellow gunslinger Zorro. The series will be co-plotted by Tarantino and scripted by Wagner, overseen by Reginald Hudlin who was a producer on Django Unchained and also penned DC/Vertigo's comics adaptation. To be co-published by DC/Vertigo and Zorro licence holders Dynamite, Django/Zorro is slated for release late this year.
Avengers, X-Men align for Axis
USA Today has the first details of Marvel's upcoming event series Axis from writer Rick Remender and artists Adam Kubert, Leinil Yu, Jim Cheung and Terry Dodson. Following on from the events of Remender's Uncanny Avengers, Axis will see the resurrected Red Skull harness the immense psionic powers of 1990s antagonist Onslaught to lead a villainous team also including Doctor Doom, Carnage, Hobgoblin and Sabretooth -- prompting a renewed alliance of the Avengers and X-Men, bitterly divided since 2012's Avengers vs X-Men. Axis will run for nine issues from October through December, divided into three-issue acts, and will cross over into titles including Iron Man, Magneto, Captain America and Uncanny Avengers.
Also coming up in September, Jonathan Hickman's epic tenure on Avengers and New Avengers enters its third act in 'Time Runs Out' which will see both titles jump forward eight months to reflect the April 2015 status quo of the Marvel Universe -- including the future of the Avengers, the aftermath of Axis, and events in other series.
Marvel Studios has announced Ant-Man director Edgar Wright has abruptly quit the project due to 'differences in their vision of the film'. UK-born filmmaker Wright, best known for Shaun of the Dead and comics-to-screen adaptation Scott Pilgrim vs the World, has been developing Ant-Man since around 2006. Marvel claims a new director will be announced soon and there will be no impact on a previously announced July 2015 release date.
Various online sources suggest the 'differences' centre on Marvel's insistence the movie be more integrated with its cinematic universe and feature characters from previous movies, and had hired new writers to rework Wright and Joe Cornish's screenplay along these lines, while others claim pre-production is running significantly behind schedule and the studio did not believe Wright would be able to deliver a finished film on time.
Meanwhile Cabin in the Woods co-writer/director Drew Goddard has exited as showrunner of Marvel's forthcoming Daredevil television series, having recently signed on to both write and direct a Sinister Six spin-off movie as part of Sony's future expansion of the Spider-Man series. Spartacus showrunner Steven S. DeKnight has been quickly hired as a replacement, with the series still slated to debut in 2015 as the flagship for a suite of Marvel live-action series developed for US online streaming service Netflix.
Zack Snyder to direct Justice League
The Wall Street Journal reports Zack Snyder will follow 2016's Superman/Batman movie with a Justice League feature film. The production is expected to feature a continuing cast of Henry Cavill as Superman, Ben Affleck as Batman and Gail Gadot as Wonder Woman, with Ray Fisher also recently cast as Cyborg in Superman/Batman. David Goyer is likely to script and produce Justice League as part of a recent three-picture deal with Warner Bros, having penned Man of Steel and developed the story for Superman/Batman for Argo screenwriter Chris Terrio.
The announcement has renewed rumours Justice League will be shot in whole or in part back-to-back with Superman/Batman, which could make a 2017 release possible. Warner Bros is thought to be extremely keen to establish a DCU cinematic universe, with the potential for spin-off movies for characters such as Wonder Woman, to compete with the massive success of Marvel Studios productions.
Warner Bros' previous attempt to bring the Justice League to the big screen, with Mad Max director George Miller and a cast including Armie Hammer as Batman and Megan Gale as Wonder Woman, came close to entering production before the 2007-8 Hollywood writers' strike and an escalating budget saw the studio put the project on hold, quietly scrapping it altogether in 2010.
Soule/McNiven usher in Death of Wolverine
The end appears nigh for Marvel's most popular mutant this September with Death of Wolverine, a four-part weekly event series from rising star writer Charles Soule and artist Steve McNiven. Coming forty years after Wolverine's first full appearance as an adversary in the pages of Incredible Hulk, before joining the revamped X-Men in 1975's Giant X-Men #1, the story will follow on from recent events in Wolverine's ongoing solo series which saw him lose his mutant healing factor. McNiven previously illustrated Wolverine in 2008-9's acclaimed Old Man Logan arc with writer Mark Millar.
X-Men movies look to Age of Apocalypse
Ahead of the May release of X-Men: Days of Future Past, director Bryan Singer is looking to another dystopian setting for 2016's followup film X-Men: Apocalypse. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly Singer noted the film will be 'somewhat' based on epic 1990s storyline Age of Apocalypse, which saw ancient mutant Apocalypse ruling an alternate reality world following changes in the X-Men timeline, and also indicated he wants to reintroduce Gambit and Nightcrawler to the series.
Amazon to acquire Comixology
Online retailing giant Amazon has announced it will acquire leading digital comics provider Comixology. The US-based company currently commands the lion's share of readers and titles in the digital comics market with day-and-date new releases and back catalogue material from most major and independent publishers, with the notable exception of Dark Horse which offers digital versions of its books exclusively through its own Dark Horse Digital Comics service.
Marvel and DC also use the Comixology framework for their standalone digital comics apps, although Marvel recently added weekly new releases to a substantial back catalogue in its own browser and app-based digital comics platform, while DC has inked a deal to sell collected editions and graphic novels on Android devices through the Google Play store. Image Comics also offers digital comics independent of Comixology or other platforms through its own web-based store, with issues available for download in a number of DRM-free formats.
Morlun returns to fight the Spider-Verse
The imminent return of Peter Parker as Spider-Man will lead into Spider-Verse, a crossover event bringing together multiple versions of the character including Scarlet Spider, Spider-Man 2099 and current Ultimate Spider-Man Miles Morales -- along with sinister spider-hunter Morlun. Spider-Verse kicks off in November's Amazing Spider-Man #9 by Dan Slott and Olivier Coipel, with a prelude story in Marvel's Free Comic Book Day special in May.
Captain America to take on Superman/Batman
The Hollywood Reporter claims Marvel Studios is eyeing a third Captain America movie for its previously announced May 2016 release, a move which would see the patriotic Avenger take on DC and Warner Bros' Superman/Batman during the same month at the box office. Captain America: The Winter Soldier directors Anthony and Joe Russo are expected to return for a followup film.
Recent comments from Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige also strongly suggest a Doctor Strange feature will form part of their third 'phase' of superhero movies, alongside Cap 3 and Edgar Wright's Ant-Man movie.
Lena Dunham to write Archie
Archie Comics has tapped indie superstarlet Lena Dunham, creator of HBO's hit series Girls, to pen a four-part arc of its flagship Archie series during 2015. The latest high-profile move for the publisher was arranged through a personal connection between Dunham and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, writer of 2013's Glee/Archie crossover and the current zombie-themed Afterlife with Archie, whom Archie Comics has also appointed as its first chief creative officer.
Fox readies new Fantastic Four
The Hollywood Reporter notes 20th Century Fox is close to securing the main cast for its forthcoming big-screen reboot of the Fantastic Four. Michael B. Jordan has all but confirmed his casting as Johnny Storm with a 'flame on' comment via Twitter, while Kate Mara is expected to sign on to play Sue Storm. Miles Teller is in the frame for Reed Richards subject to the in-demand indie star's availability, while UK actor Jamie Bell has emerged as the late frontrunner for Ben Grimm.
With a screenplay by X-Men: Days of Future Past's Simon Kinberg and to be directed by Josh Trank, helmer of 2012 superhero deconstruction Chronicle which featured Michael B. Jordan, Fantastic Four is slated for a July 2015 release.
Preacher, DMZ in development for small screen
AMC has won a bidding war to land a television series adaptation of hugely acclaimed Vertigo series Preacher in development by Seth Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg. The pair are set to script the pilot and executive produce the series, with Sam Catlin of AMC's Breaking Bad attached as showrunner. From writer Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon, Preacher ran for 66 issues between 1995 and 2000.
Meanwhile more recent Vertigo series DMZ by Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli is also in development as a television series, with US cable channel SyFy signing up former Mad Men executive producers Andre and Maria Jacquemetton along with Harry Potter producer David Heyman.
Johns, Romita Jr team for Superman
DC Comics has announced the next ongoing creative team on Superman will be the all-star pairing of core DC writer Geoff Johns and fan-favourite artist John Romita Jr. The announcement sees Romita Jr stunningly move to DC after a career-long association with Marvel, featuring iconic runs on characters including Spider-Man, Daredevil, the X-Men, Iron Man, the Punisher, Thor and the Hulk. Johns and Romita Jr are expected to take on the Man of Steel mid-year, with Romita Jr's frequent collaborator Klaus Janson joining on inks.
Meanwhile senior DC editor Mike Marts will move in the opposite direction to take up the newly created position of executive editor at Marvel. Marts was previously at the House of Ideas as X-Men group editor, overseeing hugely successful books including Grant Morrison's New X-Men and Joss Whedon and John Cassaday's Astonishing X-Men, before switching to DC in 2006 to take up a similar role with the Batman titles.
Image announces 2014 slate
Image Comics announced a plethora of new titles at its 2014 Expo, with the publisher looking to build on several continuous years of growth including securing the highest selling title of 2013 with The Walking Dead. Among the projects announced were two horror titles, Nameless by Batman Incorporated's Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham and Wytches by Scott Snyder and Jock; The Wicked and the Divine, a modern fantasy book from the Young Avengers and Phonogram pairing of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie; Low, a sci-fi series from Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini; the 'women in prison' and exploitation-themed Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro; and Restoration from Fables writer Bill Willingham and artist Barry Kitson. Star writer Ed Brubaker closed the expo by announcing he and regular collaborator Sean Phillips have inked a unique five-year publishing deal with Image, beginning with 1940s Hollywood murder mystery The Fade Out.
Marvel exposes Original Sin
Marvel has announced Original Sin, its event series for 2014 kicking off with the murder of Uatu the Watcher. Writer Jason Aaron joins artist Mike Deodato Jr for a core eight-part limited series shipping biweekly from June to September which will see Nick Fury leading the Avengers and other Marvel heroes in investigating the murder, while tie-in arcs of other titles will explore the fallout from Uatu's death and the theft of his accumulated artefacts and secrets.
A prologue issue #0 in April by Mark Waid and Jim Cheung will set up Original Sin and recap the history of Uatu, an enigmatic near-omnipotent being who has observed the events of the Marvel Universe since his introduction in 1963's Fantastic Four #13.
Star Wars comics head to Marvel in 2015
Marvel has announced it will be the new home of Star Wars comics and graphic novels from 2015. Current publisher Dark Horse has held the licence since 1991 as a tentpole of its monthly comics slate, publishing numerous acclaimed ongoing and limited series set in the past, present and future of the canonical Star Wars Expanded Universe. The move of Star Wars comics to Marvel was widely seen as inevitable after Disney purchased Lucasfilm and its properties in late 2012, having similarly acquired Marvel in 2009.
Writer Brian Wood has indicated his run on the current Star Wars ongoing series will wrap with issue #20 towards the end of 2014, while the Star Wars: Legacy team of Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko have confirmed their title will also be ending around the same time.
Marvel launched the original Star Wars comics series in 1977 following the release of the first movie, with what was expected to be a minor interest title going on to run for over 100 issues with sales in the millions which then-Marvel editor in chief Jim Shooter credits with saving the company from financial ruin.
2015 will also see the return of Star Wars to the big screen with the release of the J.J. Abrams-directed Episode VII on 18 December.
Stray Bullets reloads at Image
David Lapham's cult crime/noir series Stray Bullets is set to return after a decade-long absence in March 2014 through Image Comics, with issue #41 wrapping up the previously incomplete arc leading into a new #1 and story under the subtitle 'Killers'. Lapham previously self-published the book, which chronicles the lives and misdeeds of a large range of characters from the mid-1970s to mid-90s, through his own El Capitan Books. Image is also preparing an omnibus edition collecting the entire first volume of the series, for which Lapham picked up an Eisner award for Best Writer/Artist in 1996.
Having launched his comics career as an artist at Valiant in the early 1990s on titles including Harbinger and Warriors of Plasm, in recent years Lapham has focused on work-for-hire writing on characters and series including Batman, the X-Men, G.I. Joe, 30 Days of Night and Crossed.
Sony eyes expanded Spider-Man universe; War Machine joins Avengers 2
Sony has revealed plans to continue the Spider-Man series beyond 2016's Amazing Spider-Man 3 by announcing future films centred on Venom and supervillain team the Sinister Six. The studio has assembled a 'brains trust' including Amazing Spider-Man series director Marc Webb, Transformers and Star Trek writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci and Cabin in the Woods writer-director Drew Goddard to oversee this expanded cinematic universe, with Andrew Garfield and the core Amazing Spider-Man cast not contracted beyond Amazing 3. Kurtzman is attached to co-write and direct Venom while Goddard, who was recently announced as the showrunner of Marvel Studios' Daredevil made-for-online TV series, will write and potentially direct Sinister Six.
Meanwhile, Don Cheadle is widely reported to reprise his role as James Rhodes/War Machine in 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron, joining an expanded cast of Earth's Mightiest Heroes also including Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Witch and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver.
Fox announces X-Men: Apocalypse, eyes expanded universe
20th Century Fox has confirmed a Twitter announcement by X-Men: Days of Future Past director Bryan Singer that the series will continue in 2016 with X-Men: Apocalypse. The studio has also inked a three-year deal with Simon Kinberg, a co-writer and producer on Days of Future Past as well as X-Men: First Class and Fox's forthcoming reboot of the Fantastic Four, to develop an expanded cinematic universe linking the two superhero properties.
Millar, Parlov look to Starlight
The Hollywood Reporter has announced Mark Millar's next creator-owned project Starlight, debuting in March through Image Comics with art by Goran Parlov (Punisher). The six-issue series is centred on a Flash Gordon-style space hero who after retiring to a life of anonymity on Earth is decades later called into action for one last adventure.
Starlight will also kick off Millar's plans for a shared superhero universe, also including the previously announced MPH with Duncan Fegredo which will launch through Image in May.
Affleck/Damon to produce Sleeper movie
Variety reports Ben Affleck and Matt Damon will produce a movie adaptation of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' cult Wildstorm series Sleeper, set up at Warner Bros with TV writing duo Shawn Ryan and David Wiener attached to pen the screenplay. No director or cast are yet in place, with Affleck already attached to a number of directorial gigs in addition to his upcoming role as Batman in 2015's Superman/Batman. Ryan's credits including co-creating police procedurals The Shield and The Chicago Code, while Wiener was most recently a story editor on The Killing.
Published between 2003 and 2005 to enormous critical acclaim but dismal sales, Sleeper was among a number of titles revamping the Wildstorm universe for mature readers following the success of The Authority.
Daredevil heads Marvel-Netflix partnership
Marvel will partner with digital TV streaming platform Netflix for a slate of live-action series featuring street level characters Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Jessica Jones. Daredevil is expected to appear first during 2015, with each character's 13-episode solo series to lead into a team-up show under the moniker the Defenders.
The screen rights to Daredevil recently returned to Marvel following the poorly received 2003 movie starring Ben Affleck and after proposed reboots under directors David Slade and Joe Carnahan failed to enter production, while a Jessica Jones TV series was previously in development with involvement from Brian Michael Bendis who co-created the character in the pages of Marvel MAX title Alias.
Disney has also hinted an additional Marvel TV series is in development at US network ABC, in addition to the successful Agents of SHIELD. Meanwhile, the CW is looking to add to its hit series Arrow with small-screen adaptations of DC hero Hourman and cult Vertigo series iZombie, the latter with involvement from Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas.
Fables to wrap up at #150
Fables writer Bill Willingham has announced his hugely acclaimed DC Vertigo series Fables will end during 2015 with issue #150, as the 60-year-old scribe prepares to step back from monthly comics work. Spinoff series Fairest will also wrap up around the same time. Since debuting in 2002 Fables has proven Vertigo's most successful title since Neil Gaiman's Sandman, winning more than a dozen Eisner awards.
Marvel Studios developing Black Panther movie
During an interview at the Thor: The Dark World premiere press junket Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige confirmed the studio is actively developing a Black Panther feature as part of its 'Phase Three' of post-Avengers 2 films. Feige also hinted again at Doctor Strange featuring in Phase Three, while commenting that Edgar Wright's Ant-Man will be a heist film and casting should be announced by the end of the year.
WB prepping Gotham, Constantine TV series
Deadline Hollywood reports US television network Fox has won a bidding war to secure Gotham, a new series from Warner Bros TV and The Mentalist creator Bruno Heller chronicling Gotham City police chief Jim Gordon's origins as a police detective. Meanwhile, NBC has tapped Man of Steel and Batman Begins writer to develop a series pilot featuring DC's occult detective John Constantine.
James Robinson ruenites the Invaders; Ellen Page eyes Queen and Country movie
World War II superhero team the Invaders reunite this January in All-New Invaders, an ongoing series from James Robinson and Steve Pugh teaming Captain America with Namor, the android Human Torch and Captain America's military sidekick Bucky Barnes in his new identity of the Winter Soldier. Robinson, a fan-favourite and Eisner-winning writer from titles such as Starman, recently made an abrupt and high-profile departure from DC Comics.
Variety reports Canadian actress Ellen Page is in negotiations with Fox to play the lead role of British intelligence agent Tara Chase in a big-screen adaptation of Oni Press series Queen and Country. Page is set to reprise her role as Kitty Pryde in next year's X-Men: Days of Future Past, having previously appeared in X-Men 3, Inception, Juno and Hard Candy.
Penned by Greg Rucka and illustrated by a series of artists, Queen and Country garnered huge critical acclaim and multiple Eisner wins and nominations during its original run between 2001 and 2007. Both Rucka and Oni Press have indicated the series will return with a new volume during 2014.
Batwoman team quits over gay marriage
Batwoman artist J.H. Williams III has announced he and co-writer W.H. Blackman will leave the series after issue 26 after DC apparently reversed editorial direction and 'prohibited' the title character from marrying Maggie Sawyer. The series won a GLAAD Media Award in 2012 for its positive portrayal of homosexual characters.
Marvel prepares to become Inhuman; Fox plans X-Force movie
Marvel has provided the first hint at the post-Infinity direction of the Marvel Universe by announcing Inhuman, a new ongoing series debuting in December from writer Matt Fraction and artist Joe Madureira. The book will anchor an 'Inhumanity' event centred on the release of the mutagenic Terrigen Mists across the entire Earth, activating latent superpowers in millions of people, and what Marvel editor in chief Axel Alonso termed a Game of Thrones-style struggle for control of the Inhumans.
The Hollywood Reporter notes 20th Century Fox has hired Kick-Ass 2 writer/director Jeff Wadlow to adapt 1990s hit series X-Force for the big screen. A huge sales success on its debut in 1991 and a star-making book for writer/artist and future Image founder Rob Liefeld, X-Force evolved out of secondary X-Men title New Mutants with the addition of characters including Cable, Domino, Warpath and Deadpool. Wadlow is also currently penning a screen adaptation of Valiant series Bloodshot for Sony.
Writers & Artists Unite @ Grace Emily Saturday December 6th!
Prospective writers and artists, professional scribes and illustrators, curious comic buffs and those up for a great chat or just a relaxing time are all more than welcome to get down to the Grace Emily Hotel, 232 Waymouth St Adelaide, on Saturday the 6th of December from 2pm!