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Deaths, hookups, reboots: Why comics thrive on dramatic twists

By Henry Hanks, @

updated 5:28 PM EDT, Wed March 13, 2013
On television and in comics, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” has pushed boundaries. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Nine” dealt with abortion, a rarely discussed topic in comics. Two 2012 issues featured a story in which the slayer decided to terminate a pregnancy.
(CNN) — We’ve seen deaths, weddings, dramatic costume changes, surprise hookups and more deaths. And that’s just in the past five years or so.

The world of superhero comics has seen a lot of changes recently, with the demise — and in some cases, resurrection – of Robin, Captain America, Peter Parker, Professor Charles Xavier and the Human Torch. Clark Kent walked out on his job and dated Wonder Woman. There have been revelations that multiple characters were gay, along with a same-sex wedding or two. (There also was a complete reboot in 2011 for DC Comics, which like CNN is owned by Time Warner, and a relaunch of many of Marvel Comics’ books in 2012.)

So, what’s behind all these headline-grabbing plot twists in comic books these days?

We have asked some of the creators over the years. Scott Snyder, who writes “Batman,” including the most recent “Death of the Family” story arc, said he writes stories as if this was his one chance to write about a certain character: “It’s not so much to make the books as dramatic as possible or to be shocking, but to try to tell the best story you can that feels organic. It’s not been a marching order (from editors).”

When the Human Torch died in a 2010 issue of “Fantastic Four” (only to return a year later), Marvel editor Tom Brevoort spoke to CNN about deaths in comics, “It’s very easy to develop cynicism about the stories we tell. The only way to combat and conquer it is to have a story that touches on the humanness of people that has emotional resonance and truth to it. The fact of death is something every human being can relate to. I would argue that a well-told story of a character’s demise is not necessarily undone by them coming back later.”

We recently spoke with three comic book experts, who gave us their thoughts on this phenomenon:

CNN: Why do you think we seem to see more and more of these kinds of stories and changes in comics?
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That. Shell.

When I was seven years old, my father took us camping in Key West. Nothing special happened during this trip. Or so I thought. It was a typical Key West trip. Sun, Sand, Fishing – the things you do when in the keys – except for one minor detail. Her name was Tracy. Her father and mine became friends, as did she and I. For the time that we were there we were inseparable  On the boat, on the beach, climbing rocks – which provided me with a scar I carry to this day – it was me and her, her and me. At the end of our stay they helped us pack up our car and we helped them pack their truck. I can’t remember our car but for some reason i remember that truck. It was maroon, and had flared fenders with scratches on them that were rusted and flaking bits that almost matched the color of the paint. I remember the bumper, metal gray and slightly flared out on either side. The memory of the bumper is vivid. I imagine it is so vivid because I watched that truck drive away, carrying Tracy off with it. Before she got in her fathers truck she kissed me on the cheek, said it was nice to meet me, and she gave me this shell. I suppose we did not exchange information because we were so young, but I have never forgotten her.

I still have this shell. I’ve been lugging this shell around with me for the last 33 years. I have moved – A LOT. And in every location in which I have lived, it has been predominantly displayed.  It is one of my prized possessions. I have often wondered what the fact that it is says about me. Is this about young love? A fond family memory? I don’t think there is anything I own that has been with me for that long. So why has this shell taken it’s place in my life? Why is this my oldest friend?

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This is not movie related or funny even, which are my main staples – but it is DEFINITELY geeky, and something I think people should be aware of…

Originally posted at Turnstyle News

Flexible computers? Car batteries that charge in a minute? Hyper-efficient solar cells?

Soon to be more than science fiction, thanks to the material known as graphene. The discovery of the substance earned British scientists the Nobel Prize in 2010. Companies around the world have been racing to patent uses for the super thin (one atom wide!), super-strong, electrically conductive material.

A video (see below) which went viral this week of the work of UCLA researchers Ric Kamen and Maher El-Kady shows that the world is a lot closer to the mass production of this substance– using commercial DVD burners no less.

Ultraculture’s Kevin Gamble lays out the kicker in the UCLA research:

By embedding electrodes into their graphene discs, El-Kady and Kaner found that the energy storage capabilities far exceeded their expectations. They speculate that if their work pans out as they hope, it may be possible to apply these super capacitors towards charging electronic devices in record time, such as getting a full charge on a Smartphone in seconds, and—more importantly—fully re-charging batteries on Electric Vehicles (EV’s) within a minute. This discovery alone could help towards solving some of the problems associated with EV’s, particularly slow-charge times, and the lack of a charge-station infrastructure. Better yet, since they are made out of pure carbon, they could be composted when they are spent.

For more on the UCLA research, here’s that GE Focus/Forward video.


While this is unrelated, I want one!

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Originally posted at The Mary Sue

by Jill Pantozzi | 4:15 pm, March 12th, 2013

If you say “Joss Whedon” and “Star Wars” together, people are going to freak out. Even if it’s something as simple as, “Joss Whedon watched Star Wars.” But in this case, the director went as far as to share his thoughts on what he’d actually do with the franchise were he given the reins. Well, that’s a horse of a different color…

You probably know by now J.J. Abrams was the one eventually chosen to continue the Star Wars saga with Episode VII but a lot of names were thrown around before then including Whedon’s. You might have also heard Carrie Fisher “joking” she would be in the film and George Lucas sort of confirming all three original stars would be returning. Well if Whedon had his way, they wouldn’t be.

In an interview interview with Digital Spy he said:

You know, I wouldn’t go back, I’d go forward.  I would want to create characters that would resonate the way that they did.  I mean not that I don’t want to see [the new movies], I would be excited to, but I also feel like I would want to explore a very different part of that universe.

And if there was a Han Solo solo film, would he have a hand in something that meant recasting the famous character? “That I would never want to do. Some things may not be rebooted,” he said, in his most serious voice.

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Billy Dee Williams Confirms He’s Been Asked to Reprise Lando

Originally posted at Nerd Bastards

03-12-13 • Film Posted by Sarah Moran


At this point, I believe it’s a done deal for the main three original cast members – Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford – to return for Episode VII. While not yet made official, I’ve got a good feeling it will be before long. How about other members of the original cast? C-3PO and R2-D2? Without them it just wouldn’t be Star Wars, so I’d imagine Anthony Daniels will return, if only for the voice, but I’m pretty sure Kenny Baker‘s out of luck. The only little Artoo we’ll be seeing will most definitely be CGI.

And what of Lando Calrissian? The coolest cat in the galaxy? Film Buff has the scoop that when asked at a recent Monster Mania convention in New Jersey, Billy Dee Williams confirmed he has been asked to return for Episode VII. The quote from friend of the site, Henry R., being,

Billy Dee said, he has been asked, but hasn’t decided if he is going to do it or not yet.

Hasn’t decided?!? Come on, Billy, please! I think I speak for all Star Wars fans when I say, we want to know what Lando’s up to? I’m hoping he retired well, got a nice place to spend the rest of his days, y’know?

Who else from the original cast are you hoping will appear? Still no word on whether or not Chewbacca will make an appearance. Though I fear Peter Mayhew wouldn’t be up to reprise him, there’s no reason another couldn’t fill that furry suit, right?

Source: CBM

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Joss Whedon & the cast and crew of Much Ado About Nothing at SXSW


  I often do not allow myself to talk about Joss Whedon because, much to the chagrin of my friends – once I start I have a hard time stopping. So I think it best to let you hear it straight from the man himself and his actors…



A huge thank you to amandaonzeteo For recording this video so people who were not lucky enough to attend could see it!

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Ridley Scott announces he’s working on 12 new sci-fi projects!

You read that right – Ridley Scott has signed on with online video outlet Machinima to develop 12 new sci-fi shorts, with potential for some or all of the projects to evolve into feature length films.

Machinima is best known for sci-fi shorts Battlestar Galactica: Blood and ChromeMortal Kombat: Legacy and Halo: Forward Unto Dawn. Those three projects were big, but inking a deal with Scott is huge.

Neither side has announced exactly what the shorts could entail, but the idea seems to be an “incubator” for new ideas that Scott might not have had a chance to try out on the big screen. It’s also possible Scott could partner with young sci-fi filmmakers to help develop new talent around the genre.

Scott seemed pretty excited about the deal, saying it would give him a chance to deliver on some new concepts in a new medium:

“[Ridley Scott and Associates] has always been at the forefront of creating innovative work.  With new media transforming the way audiences connect with films and filmmakers, Machinima is a great partner for us as we embark on this new model of delivering original content to fans.  It’s a tremendous opportunity for pushing the creative boundaries for both our filmmakers and the audience.”

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Is Rick Grimes Crazy? What the Walking Dead can teach us about the course of mental illness.


*Some readers may consider the below to contain spoilers… be warned!

Last night, I attended a screening of The PaleyFest’s The Walking Dead Panel, a live event recorded at the Saban Theatre, Los Angeles, for the Paley Center for Media. Chris Hardwick, the host, presented a preview of Season 3, Episode 12 (Clear), showed some behind-the-scenes special effects vignettes, and interviewed writer Robert Kirkman and actors Andrew Lincoln (“Rick”), Norman Reedus (“Daryl”), Danai Gurira (“Michonne”), Steven Yeun (“Glenn”) and other favorites from the cast. Naturally, I cringed through the 25 minutes of behind-the-scenes zombie-making and killing (I’m not a fan of blood and gore, which speaks to how much I must love this show’s writing and character development). The interviews, however, placed an introspective focus on many psychological themes that come up with the Walking Dead: Is Rick crazy? Who should take on the role of leadership? Are humans innately self-serving and callous? Hostile, even? It’s as if Kirkman created his own psychological experiment: In a time of a zombie apocalypse, how do we react? Do we unravel? Who is more capable of survival and why?

To read the rest of this article, click here!

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Star Wars: Episodes I, II, and III – Am I really the only person who does not absolutely hate them? – Part Two


With all the Star Wars Talk going on as of late I am seeing a resurgence of the bashing that follows the prequel trilogy, and for the record – yes they were bad, yes that had flaws, and yes they cursed us with the knowledge that Jar-Jar Binks is now part of our Star Wars collective consciousness – BUT IT IS STILL STAR WARS!!!

In the part two of this Series I tackle Episode II:  Attack of the Clones.

Domestic Total Gross: $302,191,252

Domestic Lifetime Gross: $310,676,740


Flaws: The Love Story, Buffalo sized Ticks with bulbous asses, The Love Story, the selective blindness of the Jedi, The Love Story, Obi Wan goes down like a bitch, The Love Story, whiny Anakin, and have I mentioned The Love Story?



Strengths: Count Dooku, The Clone backstory, Yoda fight, Dual wielded light sabers, Jango Fett, The Battle of Geonosis, Midriff, Jedi Mullet, Blurred lines, Kit Fisto in action, Boba Begins, Bad MF’rs, Purple Light Saber.


In Episode II Lucas thrusts us into the story, wasting no time setting up the scenario that unfortunately engulfs a large part of the movie – the reunion of Anakin and Padme. We fast forward ten years to find a Teenaged Anakin doing exceptionally well in his Jedi training. Due to an attack on Padme’s life she is assigned Jedi protection in the form of Anakin and Obi Wan, presumably due to their familiarity with the senator. From the moment she comes into the story, things begin to spiral downward for Anakin. He clearly cannot control his feelings when it comes to her. This also sets up one of the worst flaws in the trilogy – the fact that Anakin and Padme have feelings for each other and the Jedi are completely oblivious.
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14 Wacky “Facts” Kids Will Learn in Louisiana’s Voucher Schools

Originally posted at Mother Jones


| Tue Aug. 7, 2012 2:00 AM PDT
God Bless Our School
Separation of church and what? Currier & Ives/Library of Congress

Thanks to a new law privatizing public education in Louisiana, Bible-based curriculum can now indoctrinate young, pliant minds with the good news of the Lord—all on the state taxpayers’ dime.

Under Gov. Bobby Jindal’s voucher program, considered the most sweeping in the country, Louisiana is poised to spend tens of millions of dollars to help poor and middle-class students from the state’s notoriously terrible public schools receive a private education. While the governor’s plan sounds great in the glittery parlance of the state’s PR machine, the program is rife with accountability problems that actually haven’t been solved by the new standards the Louisiana Department of Education adopted two weeks ago.

For one, of the 119 (mostly Christian) participating schools, Zack Kopplin, a gutsy college sophomore who’s taken to to stonewall the program, has identified at least 19that teach or champion creationist nonscience and will rake in nearly $4 million in public funding from the initial round of voucher designations.

Many of these schools, Kopplin notes, rely on Pensacola-based A Beka Book curriculum or Bob Jones University Press textbooks to teach their pupils Bible-based “facts,” such as the existence ofNessie the Loch Ness Monster and all sorts of pseudoscience that researcher Rachel Tabachnick and writer Thomas Vinciguerra have thankfully pored over so the rest of world doesn’t have to.

Here are some of my favorite lessons:

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