Nerd Bytes is all the news nerds love to hear about from the comic book, movie, television, video game, and other nerdy industries. We know you can’t catch it all in your fast-paced lives, so we catch it for you, and post it here in easy to read Nerd Bytes. One stop shopping for the Nerd Brain! Enjoy!
DEAD BYTE: The eagerly anticipated fourth season of The Walking Dead premiers in a couple of months, October to be exact. Talk of last season including the losses of Merle and Andrea, the addition of the people of Woodbury to the camp, and Carl’s seeming loss of boundaries (and maybe his mind) has barely died down. If you’re like me, you can’t wait to see what’s been happening. Whether you’re wanting answers to some questions, or just to see what’s next for the gang, you will not want to miss even a quick glimpse into the world of The Walking Dead. AMC heard your pleas and included a sneak peek during the broadcast of Low Winter Sun last Sunday night. Here it is for your viewing pleasure! Forgive the quality, but enjoy the content.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9185bZRdLo?feature=player_detailpage&w=640&h=360]
SPARTAN BYTE: Everyone knows the story of King Leonidas’ 300 Spartans who fought and died in the Hot Gates region of Thermopylae to slow the God-King Xerxes march into Greece. Frank Miller wrote the graphic novel and Zack Snyder brought it to life on the silver screen. If you haven’t seen it, you have led a sheltered (and possibly boring) life. It seems there is more to the story of the heroic Spartans, that is possibly not so heroic. Keiron Gillen, writer of Uber, and Young Avengers, will explore the darker side of the Spartans in a creator owned book from Image Comics called Three. Gillen, with the help of artist Ryan Kelly (Saucer County) and colorist Jordie Bellaire (Avengers Assemble) will chronicle the journey of three slaves on the run from the hunters of Sparta. Terpander, Damar and Klaros have only each other to rely on as they try to evade the brutal warriors. It’s Sparta in a way you have not seen it before. Gillen himself described this work as, “an equal and opposite response to the view of Sparta presented by 300. The story is an inversion of the Thermopylae myth, so rather than this 300 versus an army, this is the 300 trying to hunt down three slaves. This is how the Spartan system chewed up people. It’s a heroic story about the sort of people who rarely got their stories written down in history”. Watch for Three, coming to a comic shop near you on October 9th.
SPAWN BYTE: You might remember the Spawn movie from 1997 starring Michael Jai White (Spawn), John Leguizamo (Violator) and Martin Sheen (Jason Wynn). I say might, because it wasn’t all that memorable. It was low-budget and just not done to the level it could have been, although the story itself wasn’t horrible. Well, its been 20 years and it seems like it’s finally time to tell the story of Spawn again. Todd McFarlane, the original creator of Spawn, is personally involved in this project and in a big way. In a recent interview he explained the timetable, “the reality is that I’ve got a lot of pressure. They want me to deliver the script by the end of the year, which would basically mean we’d be shooting next year. So, that’s the goal right now. The thing that keeps slowing it down is that the negotiation I’ve done is I write, produce, direct, but I’ve got to push a lot of my other endeavors off to the side so I can just get tunnel vision on it. And so everybody at my company is now going, ‘We’ve got to find Todd the time to finish all this’.” McFarlane is not looking to break the bank with a huge budget. He envisions this movie as a horror film, which considering the source material and origin, makes sense.
KING BYTE: Jack Kirby, the legendary artist who, with Joe Simon, created the genre of romance comics before going on to co-found the Marvel Universe with the likes of Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and Don Heck, would have turned 96 today. Born Jacob Kurtzberg in 1917, Jack wrote comics for most of the 1930 under various pen names. It wasn’t until 1940 that he settled on the one that would become a household name in comic book circles. In the 1960s he teamed up with Stan Lee to co-created many of Marvel Comic’s major characters, including the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and the Hulk. In 1970 Kirby left Marvel Comics, citing unfair treatment and went to rival DC Comics where her created his Fourth World saga and the New Gods. Although the titles were not successful at the time the characters are still a large part of current continuity appearing in Earth 2 and Wonder Woman most recently. In 1987 he was one of the three inaugural inductees of the Comic Book Hall of Fame. Jack died in 1994 of heart failure at the age of 76 having lived a full and adventure filled life. His stories and characters live on in our hearts and minds. Happy Birthday Jack “King” Kirby. Long live the King!
MERC BYTE: Rob Liefeld is not widely respected in the comic book industry. He’s known for having a hot-head, a loud mouth, and no internal editor. He’s also often criticized for his art which generally lacks proportion, anatomical accuracy, and well…feet. Say what you will about the man, he did do one thing right during his time at Marvel Comics, he co-created Deadpool with writer Fabian Nicieza. Wade Wilson, Deadpool, the Merc with a Mouth, call him what you want, he’s still one of Marvel Comics most popular characters to this day. That’s despite the horrific representation of him in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Deadpool is so popular in fact that a CGC graded 10.0 copy of New Mutants #98, the first comic he ever appeared in, recently sold for $15,449 at a Comiclink auction. Mercs are expensive!
IMAGE BYTE: When you read that a title called Sex Criminals is coming from Image Comics your mind could go immediately to a dark place. Fortunately for us writer Matt Fraction and artist Chip Zdarsky’s upcoming comic has nothing to do with sex crimes. In Sex Criminals the main character, Suzie, learns that her orgasms temporarily stop time. She begins to research her, uhhh, condition, finding little. Years later she meets Jon at a party and finds out she’s not the only one with this problem. The pair’s unlikely common issue leaves them with only one option, to continue to “put the world on pause” and turn to a life of crime. Makes sense, right? Fraction joked on a press call about how the idea came to be, “We had been threatening each other with bad ideas for a couple of years, culminating with Chip suggesting that we do our Game of Thrones which is literally the worst idea I’ve ever heard. Somehow the idea of doing a “proper” sex comedy came out of a guttural response to not doing our Game of Thrones“. Zdarsky quipped, “I don’t generally work with people. I’m not really good with people. I’m not good at interacting with them. I’m not good at being in rooms or on phone calls with them, but I love Matt. I think he’s one of the funniest guys out there. Whenever I read his work, the funny parts always jump out at me. I’m just like, God, it’d be great if we could do a straight-up comedy book.” Well Matt and Chip are getting their wish, and fans of sexy super-powered crime comedies are in for a treat. Sex Criminals #1 hits the shelves on September 25th.
SUPERMAN/BATMAN BYTE: Ok nerds I’m warning you, if anyone has a breakdown while reading this bit of news I am not responsible. I feel I need a disclaimer after the chaos that followed the Bat-Fleck announcement. Buckle up this is going to be big… The sequel to Man of Steel will be filmed in Detroit, Michigan! You heard me right the largest city in America to ever file for bankruptcy will host one of the most highly anticipated films of all time. I live in Michigan (not Detroit, but close enough to care) and I love this news. The Detroit area was poised to be a big player in movie making back in 2010. Massive cuts in the tax incentives for movie production were made in 2011 and many projects were lost to cities with better deals. The Raleigh Michigan Studio in Pontiac lobbied for the tax incentive to be raised again but it was not to be. Legislators felt that the tax money collected would be better spent on education, public safety or the successful Pure Michigan tourism campaign. I’m no mathematical genius, but if the movie companies leave and film in Ohio and Tennessee, then NO tax money is collected. This decision also cost thousands of jobs in a state that, as of August 19, 2013, was the 5th highest in the country at 8.8% unemployment. The Studio in Pontiac, MI is state-of-the-art and was expected to employ 3,000 people and produce up to seven medium-budget feature films a year. In 2012 Raleigh Entertainment ended its association with the studio and the name was changed to Michigan Motion Picture Studios. The deal with Warner Bros. that brings the Superman/Batman movie to Michigan estimates creating 426 jobs, plus the use of 500 local vendors, and $5.1 million revenue going to local hotels. The state is granting the production a $35 million tax credit, based on an estimated $131 million of expenditures in the state. Director Zack Snyder said of filming in Motown, “Detroit is a great example of a quintessential American city, and I know it will make the perfect backdrop for our movie. Detroit and the entire state of Michigan have been fantastic collaborators, and we are looking forward to working together on this film.” If nothing else Detroit, and Michigan deserve some good news. Maybe while Superman and Batman are in town they can clean things up a bit!
IDW BYTE: In any industry growth is the measuring stick for success. If that’s the case for comics as well then IDW (Idea and Design Works) is having some success. In order to accommodate their recent growth in market share, direct market sales, and digital sales they have announced two major additions. Rosalind Morehead will be IDW’s Marketing & PR Manager, and Kate Henning will be their Manager of Sales Operations. Henning, a former Brand Manager at Diamond Comics Distributors, brings a unique understanding of the relationships necessary to continue at this rate of growth. She said of the new position, “IDW has one of the best teams in the business and I couldn’t be happier about the opportunity to join them. My time with Diamond nurtured a comprehensive view of how our industry works and I’m so pleased to implement that knowledge from the publishing side.” Morehead, who comes to IDW from Mad Catz, Inc. said, “I have been a fan of IDW Publishing for years and I am very impressed with where IDW has been, and most importantly, where it is going. I am excited and honored to be joining the team. Vice-President of Marketing Dirk Wood said of Rosalind’s addition, “It’s been no secret that we’re doing exciting things at IDW. But one look at some of the projects on the horizon made it clear we need to take the next step, and expand our Marketing Department.” Look for more big things to come from our friends at IDW.
S.H.I.E.L.D. BYTE: It’s just a few weeks until the premiere of the eagerly awaited new show from ABC and Marvel Entertainment, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. We already know that Clark Gregg will reprise his role as Phil Coulson, who is being resurrected to lead the team of Agents against super powered threats. Veteran actress Ming-Na Wen will play the team’s weapons expert Agent Melinda May, Brett Dalton stars as Black Ops specialist Agent Grant Ward, Chloe Bennet plays civilian hacker Skye, Iain De Caestecker will be weapon specialist Agent Leo Fitz, and Elizabeth Henstridge will play Agent Jemma Simmons, a scientist specializing in life sciences. The most recent cast announcement is the addition of Ian Hart, who played Professor Quirrell in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Hart will play an as yet unnamed scientist, and it is unclear whether that means he’ll be a known character or another new S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Speculation has been flowing about potential super powered characters that will be in the series, but producers have been very hush-hush so far. Three weeks, stay calm, we can make it!
MOVIE BYTE: This isn’t so much news as it is confirmation of a rumor that has been spreading for weeks. The final piece of the casting puzzle for James Gunn’s superhero, space epic Guardians of the Galaxy, is Bradley Cooper. His selection to be involved in this movie doesn’t surprise me at all. Cooper (Hangover, Silver Linings Playbook) has been chosen as the voice of the genetically engineered, big gun-toting, Rocket Raccoon. What does surprise me and confuse me a bit is his role. Personally I think they got Rocket Raccoon and Peter Quill (StarLord) reversed. Chris Pratt, best known for his comedic role as Andy Dwyer on Parks and Recreation, has a personality and presence that seems almost perfect for the foul-mouthed, one-liner spewing raccoon. Cooper has shown some comedy chops in movies like Hangover, but seems to have the perfect look for a character described as having, “had a hard time as a kid, and now he goes around space, making out with hot alien girls and just being a rogue and a bit of a jerk, and through teaming up with these guys, finds a higher purpose for himself.” I will give both actors a chance to prove me wrong and either way you slice it, Phase 2 of Marvel Studios cinematic plan just keeps getting better!
NERDITORIAL: All good things must come to an end. Sometimes you see it coming, sometimes you don’t. In the case of Marvel Comics’ Avengers Arena, it was kind of obvious that the book would have a short shelf life. The book, by Dennis Hopeless (perfect name for this comic), and Kev Walker, chronicles the kidnapping of sixteen teen heroes, mostly from the Avengers Academy, Runaways, and Braddock Academy, by the now super-powered gamesman, Arcade. The kids are forced to play a life or death game of Survivor which really brings life to some previously underwhelming characters, and shows the true colors of some others. This series may well be the surprise hit of the Marvel NOW universe. It’s well conceived, well written, and well drawn. I actually care about these characters, and hate a few of them enough to root against them. Hopeless has brought us out of the age of teen angst, and into the age of teen characters with personality, purpose, and flaws. Who knows maybe the survivors of Murderworld will be that next generation of heroes for Marvel, honed to a razor’s edge by this experience, or maybe they are the next great villains, broken by the mental torture or murdering friends and allies. Axel Alonso, Marvel Comics Editor-In-Chief, refused to give hints about who survives but did say, “Hell yeah we knew that that story had a time clock! [Laughs] That said, while Avengers Arena comes to a close, the characters that survive the experience — there’s a high body count — will move on to new adventures that are… well, shaped by their ordeal in Murderworld.” I have been thoroughly enjoying this story and while I will be sorry to see it end, I am eager to see how it does, and where the survivor(s) go from there. Are you reading the series? Who are you rooting for to survive? We’ll find out soon enough. Until then, See you in the Funny Papers!