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Posted by Jon Brodkin

Enlarge (credit: Google Fiber)

AT&T has lost a court case in which it tried to stall construction by Google Fiber in Louisville, Kentucky.

AT&T sued the local government in Louisville and Jefferson County in February 2016 to stop a One Touch Make Ready Ordinance designed to give Google Fiber and other new ISPs quicker access to utility poles. But yesterday, US District Court Judge David Hale dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice, saying AT&T's claims that the ordinance is invalid are false.

"We are currently reviewing the decision and our next steps," AT&T said when contacted by Ars today.

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Posted by Dan Wickline

Season two of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow was a learning curve for Sara Lance (Caity Lotz). She went from being the assassin/monster to being the captain of the ship and in charge of a group of less-than-efficient heroes who tend to mess things up more often than help. It was quite the learning curve, but by the end of the season she’d gotten pretty good at it — enough so that Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) no longer felt he had a place on his own ship and left.

Caity Lotz

As we move into the third season of the series, Sara will be much more comfortable being in charge of the Legends, but she is also dealing with guilt over just how screwed up the world had become and how she sees it as her fault…how her actions led to where they were. Executive producer Marc Guggenheim told EW.com about Sara’s motivations for season three:

“She’s found her place as the captain of the Waverider, so unlike last season where it was a little bit of a learning curve, she’s happy to be the captain. One of the things that hang over the whole year is the fact that she has some measure of responsibility for all the anachronisms that they are dealing with.”

I’m guessing that this isn’t a matter of them fixing one thing and it dominoing through the timeline, but rather a series of breaks in time. At least that would make more sense.

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 3 premieres October 10th on the CW.

Sara Lance Will Be Driven By Guilt In Legends Of Tomorrow Season 3

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Posted by Jude Terror

If the book ends up being late now, Marvel will have to quit the industry and give up comics forever! Which would just leave them with more time for Twitter.

With FOC looming, Marvel has added some artistic star power to Marvel Legacy #1. Nine superstar artists and Greg Land have joined current artist Esad Ribic on the book, which could move the needle on orders despite past comments about artists’ lack of ability to do so and a generally lukewarm reaction to Marvel’s much-hyped Legacy variant cover reveals.

According to a press release, Steve McNiven, Russell Dauterman, Chris Samnee, Alex Maleev, Stuart Immonen, Pepe Larraz, Jim Cheung, Daniel Acuna, Ed McGuinness, and Land have joined the creative team of Ribic, writer Jason Aaron, and colorist Matthew Wilson for September’s Marvel Legacy #1. Kickstarting the line-wide not-a-relaunch that Marvel promised will change the industry, Marvel isn’t pulling any punches when it comes to hyperbolic statements about its potential impact.

This fall, MARVEL LEGACY #1 breaks the barriers of the Marvel Universe with a rich and exciting 50-page one shot that will take you back to the dawn of time with the introduction of 1,000,000 BC Avengers – and sets the stage for the returns and surprises to come in MARVEL LEGACY! And the biggest story in the Marvel Universe just got more spectacular.

“I was thrilled to join Jason, Esad, and Matt on LEGACY #1,” said Dautermann, who probably won a Hunger Games style deathmatch for the chance to be the only artist quoted in the press release. “The bit I illustrated checks in with my corner of the Marvel Universe, the world of Thor, and teases our biggest story yet.”

To help show off the impact these superstar artists will have on this tremendous title, Marvel released an image (seen above) featuring panels showing off the unique skills of each one, such as the satellite dish drawing talent of Greg Land. Get hyped!

“Because the events of MARVEL LEGACY #1 impact on so many corners of the Marvel Universe and reflect the upcoming storylines in so many of our titles, it only made sense to call on the artists most associated with those titles to cement the connection,” said Marvel executive and humanitarian Tom Brevoort, conveniently leaving out the fact that Esad Ribic’s Secret Wars was one of the latest books not only in the history of comics, but in the entire history of calendars. “Plus, it means that this book represents a Murderer’s Row of artistic talent and a real showpiece for those who love excellent comic book graphics.”

Marvel Legacy #1 hits stores on September 27th…we hope. Fingers crossed!

MARVEL LEGACY #1
Written by JASON AARON
Art by ESAD RIBIC
Double Gatefold Cover by JOE QUESADA
FOC – 8/21/17, On-Sale 9/27/17

Marvel Legacy #1 Adds McNiven, Dauterman, Samnee, Maleev, Immonen, Larraz, Cheung, Acuna, Land, And McGuinness

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Posted by Rich Johnston

On the fourth of July, Bleeding Cool pointed out Titan Comics’ baiting of Marvel for the launch of Fighting American #1, with their “No Secrets, No Empires” message, very much resonating with some fans disdain with the direction Captain America had taken, revealed as a sleeper agent for Hydra and mounting a fascist overthrow of the United States. And also not being respectful with his Twitter account. Well, it looks like it has gone further.

It seemed to get enough play that Titan Comics has now decided to turn it into an actual variant cover for Fighting American #1 when it is published on October 11th, as the comic approaches its Final Order Cut-Off date.

Here’s the full solicit.

FIGHTING AMERICAN #1

(W) Gordon Rennie (A) Duke Mighten (CA) Terry Dodson

Direct continuation of Simon and Kirby’s classic series! Fighting American returns!
Written by Gordon Rennie with artwork by Duke Mighten, with a cover by Terry and Rachel Dodson!
When the 1950s heroes find themselves trapped in the modern world, how will they handle what society has become, and what dangers will they face?
With modern-day villains to contend with, enemies from their past pursuing them, and a whole new world to come to terms with, what daring adventures could Fighting American and Speed-Boy find themselves in now?
Goes on-sale October 11th, Joe Simon’s birthday!

Titan Comics Turn Their Marvel-Baiting ‘Fighting American’ Meme Into A Variant Cover

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Posted by Dan Wickline

Comic fans know that it’s supposed to be Green Arrow and Black Canary who end up together. But there is a very vocal group of fans of the Arrow series on the CW that sees it as supposed to be Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak…or rather, the ship name of Olicity.

They didn’t see the chemistry between Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Laurel (Katie Cassidy), but loved the sparks he had with Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards). Then there was the lies, and Oliver killing Felicity’s new boyfriend. Oh, and a new Black Canary (Juliana Harkavy). Olicity was done… or so it seemed. Are Oliver and Felicity on the road to reunion?

Olicity
Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW — © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Executive producer Marc Guggenheim told EW.com:

“We put them on a very specific trajectory at the end of season 5. It would be very schizophrenic for us to suddenly take them off that trajectory. There is not a single romantic kiss between any two characters in the season premiere.”

So folks who want Oliver and Felicity back, you need to be patient. For those who wanted Oliver to hook up with Dinah, the new Black Canary, doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. Those of you who want him to hook back up with Sara Lance (Caity Lotz), she’s a little busy. Those who want him to get back with Helena Bertinelli (Jessica de Gouw), she is coming back at some point…and for those of you that want Oliver to hook up with Laurel of Earth-2, that just seems wrong on so many levels.

Arrow returns October 12th on the CW.

Should Olicity Fans Be Excited For Arrow Season 6?

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Posted by Ray Flook

shawn mendes mtv unplugged return

The musical landscape has changed dramatically since the 1989 edition of MTV’s Video Music Awards, when Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora took the stage to perform an acoustic version of Wanted: Dead or Live…effectively serving as the foundation for MTV Unplugged. Sticking with their new programming philosophy of looking to the past to build a more diverse future, MTV announced that the popular Unplugged franchise would be returning this fall.

Singer Shawn Mendes (Nothing Holdin’ Me Back) will perform on the premiere episode from the Theater at Ace Hotel in Los Angeles; with MTV Unplugged: Shawn Mendes scheduled to air on September 8th.

shawn mendes mtv unplugged return

For Mendes, finding ways to rearrange his songs in a manner that fits the setting on Unplugged isn’t easy…but as an artist, he more than understands the benefits that can result from it creatively:

“We’ve been working our asses off just trying to figure out the most beautiful way to play these songs in a smaller, stripped-down way that still feels as impactful. I feel like if I can do this right, then it will be a moment for me — where people can really understand and see me as a musician and a singer, and where I’m coming from.”

shawn mendes mtv unplugged return

MTV Unplugged was seen as successfully connecting with fan for two main reasons: fans were given the opportunity to see their favorite artists perform their favorite songs in a much more intimate and stripped-down way; and most performances usually included and unexpected cover song or two. Unplugged would air regularly from 1989-1999, and semi-frequently from 2000 until today. Over the course of the show’s nearly 30-year run, viewers were treated to performances from artists diverse as Nirvana, Jay-Z, Miley Cyrus, Tony Bennett, Mariah Carey, Lil Wayne, and Adele.

MTV Unplugged: Shawn Mendes is being produced by Den of Thieves, with Jesse Ignjatovic and Evan Prager serving as executive producers; along with Chris Choun, Lee Lodge and Jen Jones. The MTV Unplugged series was created by Robert Small and Jim Burns, and is executive produced by Garrett English with Vanessa Whitewolf producing.

Shawn Mendes To Kick Off Return Of ‘MTV Unplugged’ This Fall

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Posted by Charlie Jane Anders

Randyll Tarly is not the nicest person on Game of Thrones. He named his son Dickon. He bullied his other son, Samwell, and gave him the choice between joining the Night’s Watch and death. In George R.R. Martin’s books, he’s horrible to Brienne of Tarth — when he’s not tormenting Dickon’s father-in-law or attacking his wife’s family.

But still, Randyll Tarly has had a, shall we say, rough time lately on the TV show. Even by the standards of Game of Thrones, which tortures everyone. And in the process, Randyll provided an answer to the most baffling Thrones question right now.

Spoilers for recent episodes below…

The biggest question mark, going into season seven of Game of Thrones, was, “Why does anybody recognize Cersei Lannister as a legitimate monarch?” Her claim to the Iron Throne is tenuous at best, based on her marriage to Robert Baratheon and the fact that she was mother to two other kings. The nobles of Westeros have gone to ridiculous, bloody lengths to keep a woman with a stronger claim off the throne before.

And then there’s Cersei’s history, including the fact that she was condemned and publicly humiliated by the High Septon (and then was suspiciously absent when the High Septon was blown to bits, along with hundreds of nobles and clergy.) She’s no longer bothering to hide her penchant for incest, and she’s elevated Qyburn, a failed Maester whom everybody despises, to the position of Hand of the Queen. Basically every social institution in Westeros, from the church to the Citadel, frowns on Cersei and those close to her.

And yet, she’s holding onto the throne, even if she doesn’t control any actual territory to speak of, outside of King’s Landing. Given that Game of Thrones has given us a dozen scenes discussing what makes a monarch legitimate, and exploring why the common people don’t just murder their rulers, it seems odd that we see people apparently accepting Queen Cersei, the First of Her Name.

But then there’s Randyll Tarly, the stubbornly loyal lord of the Reach, who has a ginormous stick up his butt. Randyll Tarly’s family has sworn loyalty to the Tyrell family for centuries, but then he betrays Olenna Tyrell and supports the Lannisters. And he stays so loyal to Queen Cersei, he’s willing to be burnt alive by Daenerys’ dragons (and even let Dickon choose the same fate).

I was honestly a bit confused by this whole storyline, with all the other stuff happening on Game of Thrones this season, until I went back and rewatched the second episode of the season, “Stormborn.” That’s where Randyll makes his fateful decision and throws Lady Olenna Tyrell under a bus. And he basically does it out of pure xenophobia.

Randyll’s xenophobia is mentioned right before he gets toasted alive, but you hear a lot more about it back in “Stormborn.” That’s where he listens to Cersei’s sales pitch, in which she says Daenerys is just like her father, the sadistic Mad King, and hears about the hordes of Dothraki and Unsullied that Daenerys has brought to Westeros. Cersei doesn’t seal the deal, but her brother Jaime does.

“I’m a Tarly,” he tells Jaime. “That name means something. We’re not oathbreakers. We’re not schemers. We don’t stab our rivals in the back or cut their throats at weddings. I swore an oath to House Tyrell.”

Jaime makes several arguments in response to Randyll’s puffery:

(1) Randyll also swore an oath to the crown, which is only relevant if you believe Cersei has a legitimate right to that crown.

(2) Lady Olenna has lost it—she’s “broken” and hell-bent on revenge.

(3) If Randyll joins the Lannisters, he’ll get a promotion to Mace Tyrell’s old job, Warden of the South. (Though Tarly should really ask Bronn how Jaime’s grand promises turn out.)

(4) Daenerys has brought “foreign savages and eunuchs” to Westeros — and even more importantly, if Randyll stays loyal to the Tyrells, he’ll be fighting alongside those people.

And this is the argument that strikes home. Even more than Cersei’s nightmare vision of the Dothraki and the Unsullied rampaging across Westeros, Randyll Tarly just can’t stand the idea of being in the same army as them and treating them as comrades. So he’s willing to forsake centuries of loyalty and even get burnt alive, ultimately, to avoid being tainted by these foreigners.

In his final moments, Lord Randyll even decides to cast Daenerys (who was born on Dragonstone) as a foreigner. “Say what you will about [Cersei], she was born in Westeros. She’s lived here all her life,” he says. But meanwhile, Daenerys is “a foreign invader, one with no ties to this land, with an army of savages at her back.” And that’s why he takes death by dragonfire over even accepting Daenerys as legitimate enough to send him to the Night’s Watch.

The notion that Cersei is being kept on the throne by pure xenophobia is an intriguing one, and I wish Game of Thrones had been able to spend more time on it. We do see how this fact of life constrains Daenerys’ options: her best fighters are the Unsullied and Dothraki, but she can’t use them to attack King’s Landing, or she’ll prove Cersei’s fearmongering right. She’s initially forced to rely on her Dornish and Ironborn forces, which turn out not to be worth that much, until she finally uses the Dothraki to wipe out the Lannister army. And we certainly heard plenty about the Westerosi fear of Dothraki back in the first season, when Daenerys first married Khal Drogo.

But I hope at some point, the show really delves into the question of just how big a problem this hatred of foreigners is for Daenerys—especially since it’s just going to be more and more of a challenge as she gets closer to ruling.

Seasons five and six of Game of Thrones focused heavily on religious zealotry, following Martin’s book storyline. Cersei gambles on elevating the High Sparrow, an uncompromising fundamentalist, to a position of power, and this backfires. The metaphor of powerful people attempting to use religious fundamentalism as a blunt instrument against their enemies only grew more fascinating the more we got to know the High Sparrow and saw that he was gleefully aware of the contradictions in his situation.

So now Cersei’s storyline has swerved, and fear of outsiders has replaced an over-zealous love of god as her weapon against her rivals. The television version of Cersei increasingly seems to be positioned as a giant object lesson in manipulating forces you can’t control—and an allegory for real-life situations in which cynical people in positions of power attempt to exploit the beliefs and prejudices of others.

But you have to wonder if Westerosi nationalism will bite Cersei in the ass as badly as religious extremism did. After all, Westeros isn’t really much of a nation anymore, thanks to Cersei, Littlefinger, and a few others. The Seven Kingdoms are a broken mess, in which almost all social institutions have collapsed, from the church to the great houses. Laws aren’t being enforced, customs aren’t being maintained, and it’s increasingly unclear what it means to be “Westerosi” at this point.

As entertaining and fascinating as Game of Thrones has been this season, that’s the main thing I’ve missed: the exploration of Westeros as failed state. (This is something you really have to turn to George R.R. Martin’s books to get a clearer picture of.) If anything, travel across the Seven Kingdoms is growing faster and faster as the show’s pace speeds up, which inevitably leaves the impression that Westeros is in tip-top shape. And yet, we know enough to understand that Daenerys and Cersei are fighting over a shell of a country. And I’m dying to see just how Cersei’s gamble on Westerosi xenophobia plays out (especially since she’s only on the throne thanks to the support of foreign bankers). Game of Thrones has pulled the rug out from under its characters so many times, I can’t wait to see what dust this particular rug kicks up.

All the Birds in the Sky Charlie Jane AndersBefore writing fiction full-time, Charlie Jane Anders was for many years an editor of the extraordinarily popular science fiction and fantasy site io9.com. Her debut novel, the mainstream Choir Boy, won the 2006 Lambda Literary Award and was shortlisted for the Edmund White Award. Her Tor.com story “Six Months, Three Days” won the 2013 Hugo Award and was optioned for television. Her debut SFF novel All the Birds in the Sky, won the 2016 Nebula Award in the Novel category and earned praise from, among others, Michael Chabon, Lev Grossman, and Karen Joy Fowler. She has also had fiction published by McSweeney’s, Lightspeed, and ZYZZYVA. Her journalism has appeared in Salon, the Wall Street Journal, Mother Jones, and many other outlets.

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Posted by Jude Terror

Yesterday, superstar artist Rob Liefeld did what President Donald Trump seems unable to do when he unequivocally denounced Nazis in an Instagram post. Now, he’s back for more.

“Nazi’s are BAD GUYS and they always will be,” Liefeld said in a post yesterday recalling his 1990s run on Captain America for Marvel while also speaking to the nation in the wake of the white supremacist gathering in Charlottesville that erupted into violence last weekend. “Don’t be a freaking nazi, white supremacist or bigot of any sort! It’s un-American and in fact it’s inhumane!”

Liefeld has followed that up with another post talking about the villains of his Captain America run, a white supremacist group known as The World Party:

“FRIGHTENINGLY, the VILLAINS of my Captain America story were the heads of ‘The World Party,’ a white supremacy group preying on the dis-enchanted youth of 1996. They were a NEO-NAZI group headed by Marvel’s infamous Aryan Facist, Master-Man!”

A nostalgic Liefeld promised more Nazi-smashing Instagram posts to come in the future: “Good lord, this feels like I wrote it last night. Stay tuned as I’ll depict Cap kicking Master Man’s ass in my next post!”

Check out Liefeld’s post below:

Rob Liefeld Recalls Neo-Nazi Villains From His Captain America Run

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Posted by Rich Johnston

Dastardly And Muttley #1
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Dastardly and Muttley — based on the classic Hanna-Barbera characters — is a surreal story with a lot of setup, but ultimately an enjoyable ride.

Dastardly and Muttley are two Hanna-Barbera characters who starred in the cartoon Dastardly And Muttley In Their Flying Machines (or just Dastardly and Muttley in the UK to avoid trademark clash with a British movie with a similar name that it was partially ripping off). Though everyone knows it as Stop The Pigeon, because of the theme tune.

That’s the one.

Produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions for CBS in the late ’60s/early ’70s, as a spinoff from the Wacky Races cartoon in which they appeared, it involved the Red Baron-esque antics of Dick Dastardly (based on the “cad” actor Terry Thomas) and company to stop Yankee Doodle Pigeon carrying secret messages with their tricked-up aeroplanes. The identities of the sides and the stakes of the battles were never revealed, but it was a given that Dastardly was a “baddie” and that Yankee Doodle was a “goodie”. Indeed, it is one of very few such cartoons in which the villains were the lead and protagonist.

The characters were revived last year by DC Comics for the comic book series Wacky Raceland, in which it is revealed before the Apocalyptic event that ravished the Earth. Dick Dastardly was now a world-famous pianist named Richard D’Astardlien, who agreed to enter the race to Earth’s last known paradise Utopia in order for the chance to see his wife and son be reborn.

Not a word of that is reflected in the first issue of the new comic book, Dastardly and Muttley, from Garth Ennis and Moritat. I understand that the Hanna-Barbera team at DC Comics had more pitches for this set of characters than any other, but Ennis’ reputation for writing war stories won through. But the resulting first issue is as wacky as any of those races. Despite the temptation for Garth to just run through the standard wartime story tropes playing it straight (other than one of them is a dog), he chooses a different, more surreal direction.

We meet two pilots, Colonel Atcherly and Captain Muller, Dick and Mutt, flying F15 missions across the Middle East — specifically an Islamic country that suffered a nuclear explosion as a result of a mistake with a nuclear reactor some years ago, resulting in a radioactive wasteland. There is a missing drone carrying surveillance secrets that needs destroying. Oh, and Mutt has brought his dog along for the ride, against explicit instructions.

But it appears a conspiracy is afoot. People have been lied to. And the nuclear explosion may well have done something else. A breach in reality? We don’t know. But the drone hasn’t crashed, and it’s off spreading some kind of reality-shifting madness. Cartoon references suddenly abound. And yes, you can imagine what happened to Mutt, Captain Muller, and his dog. I mean, it’s there on the cover.

So this appears to be the comic, as it begins to turn the world into a literal Hanna-Barbera world. It slightly reminds me of Donna Barr’s Stinz, a World War I procedural comic book that press-ganged centaurs into service.

In doing so, with such a ridiculous premise, Garth Ennis brings his familiarity with military and air force protocol, which manages to ground said premise with paperwork and promises much to come. It’s a hard line for Moritat to draw as well, encapsulating linework that wouldn’t look out of place in Terry and the Pilots while finding a way to Roger Rabbit in hints of the ridiculous cartoonishness to come. A more European style from Moritat, from the Franco-Belgian school that has more experience marrying the two worlds, often with cartoonish lead figures and detailed more photo realistic backgrounds serves this conceit well.

But for all that, Ennis keeps his tone lighter than usual. The deaths, the injuries, they happen off-panel. Much has been learned it seems from the less well-received Wacky Raceland, and while the subject here is clearly an adult one, there is nothing a parent could specifically object to. There are conspiracies of silence, an infection that is spreading, Dick’s own airforce seemingly working against him and realities that are very difficult to face. A lot of this issue is setup, but to be fair, this is a difficult narrative road to tread without losing the audience — and I was there the whole of the way.

Captain Muller, do something…

Dastardly And Muttley #1 by Garth Ennis, Moritat and John Calisz is published by DC Comics on September 9th.

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Dastardly And Muttley #1 Review: A Surreal Modern Warfare Story

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Posted by Brit Mandelo

In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan is a stand-alone portal fantasy in which the reader follows Elliot Schafer—a redheaded bisexual boy with a fantastically bad attitude and sharp tongue—through his adolescence, primarily spent in a magical land on the other side of a mostly-invisible border wall located in rural England. Elliot, at age thirteen, is thoroughly acquainted with the tropes of portal fantasies; this is, in large part, the reason he decides to abandon his damaging home life for the unknown.

However, it turns out that “the unknown” isn’t a world that needs a magical protagonist to save it. Instead, he finds himself in a militant and conflict-ravaged country where alliances are falling apart as councilors are funneled out of war-rooms and bad treaties spring up like mushrooms after a rain. So, naturally, our young protagonist—himself a pacifist—decides to turn his considerable abilities in study and manipulation to improving the world he finds himself in. He also, at the same time, begins forging the relationships that will save his life and the political future of his new country.

The four sections of the novel each follow a year in Elliot’s life, from when he comes to the Borderlands to when he, Serene, and Luke graduate the training camp. The reader follows conflicts both political and personal, watching Elliot grow into himself and his skills as he turns the politics of the world around him on their head one small maneuver at a time. He isn’t, of course, a savior figure; he also isn’t magically gifted. He’s just dedicated, smart, and willing to risk himself to better the world around him. It’s a delightful look at how personal and how influential politics can be: Brennan isn’t saying that one person can change the world, but she’s showing how one person can push it in the right direction if they try hard enough.

The relationships between our characters, too, are a driving point. Brennan turns several tropes inside out to examine their workings, while also offering the reader engaging dynamics and conflicts. Luke Sunborn, the boy who Elliot initially thinks of as a logical protagonist, turns out to be retiring and anxious; Serene, the beautiful elf girl, turns out to be an aggressive warrior prone to cultural sexism and thoughtless of other people’s feelings as a result. However, both of them do come to adore Elliot as much as he adores them—though he has to learn, too, how to be loved. He’s never quite known it, between his deeply neglectful father and absentee mother (whose reappearance and single conversation with Elliot is one of the most perfect and heartbreaking things I’ve read in a long time).

It’s an odd thing to note, perhaps, but one of the other bits I found most realistic and relatable about Elliot’s coming of age is that he has romantic and sexual relationships with a decent number of different people, in different ways. He has a misunderstanding about a relationship with Serene—in which she takes dating to mean friends-with-benefits, and he takes dating to mean dating—and a brief summer fling with an older boy in the human world; he has two one-night-stands for two very different reasons, as well, before he and Luke work things out together.

That’s something I don’t see, almost ever, in young adult fiction: a frank and varied approach to young queer sexuality where sex is actually a regular part of the equation. However, it bears the most resemblance to the lives of a lot of people I’ve known, including myself. Getting into and out of relationships, exploring one’s sexuality, making ill-informed but educational choices about who to be intimate with—I’m glad to see that as part of the narrative for Elliot. As he explains to Luke at the close,

“I don’t think about who I go out with in terms of persuading as many people as possible to have fun with me […] I think about it in terms of—infinite possibilities. I think it’s beautiful that the possibilities are infinite, but it also means you make a choice. Like choosing how to spend your life, where you’re going to live, what your life’s work is going to be. Except in this case, the possibilities are people, and they have to choose you back.”

In Other Lands is thoughtfully invested in relationship dynamics, social contracts, politics, and the unseen work of diplomats. It’s also a queer young adult novel with a bisexual male protagonist who is learning to deal with a lifetime of parental neglect and peer abuse, as well as the trauma of war in his new homeland. Elliot, after all, is the first to point out—loudly and often—that they’re all child soldiers, and he’s right. I appreciate Brennan’s ability to balance a lighthearted approach to her plot that is appropriate to the genre with a constant awareness of the cost of battle, the effect of violence, and the value of different kinds of bravery.

Because, when it comes to bravery, Elliot is confident to the point of brashness while also being an unabashed pacifist. He’s aggressive but in a cerebral and manipulative fashion, as is often emphasized by the ways in which he perceives himself to be taking on feminine roles (according to human gender politics) intentionally as part of his diplomatic efforts. The constant inclusion and awareness of gender as a source of struggle, particularly as Elliot learns how more or less all women must feel in the human world during his dealings with the elves, is a definite bonus. His transformation from know-it-all brat to a strong young man who does not fit the mold of typical masculinity is delightful.

To be honest, I crowed about his dialogue and his development quite often. No one is necessarily actively listening to him, but he’s getting the important work done, and he doesn’t take credit about half of the time. It doesn’t matter to him to show off: he just wants to succeed, and bring peace when he does so. He’s looking for ways around violence as a victim of violence himself. Reading that approach is a breath of fresh air in a genre so frequently obsessed with battles and conflict. Elliot himself notes that, as far as tropes go, he’s worried his friends are the protagonists and he’s some sort of Iago figure—but by the end, we all know he isn’t, and his contributions are immensely valuable to the peace of the land.

In Other Lands is a satisfying, thoughtful, and fun read. Brennan balances politics with relationships; she handles complex ethical and moral arguments with humor and aplomb. Elliot is a fantastic point of view character whose personality and approach are not often represented in the genre but are desperately needed. And, furthermore, it’s wonderful to see his approach to relationships, sex, and friendship develop over the course of the book from something utterly wrongheaded to something soft and complicated and eager to find equitable happiness. That alone would make it worthwhile.

In Other Lands is available now from Small Beer Press.
Read an excerpt here.

Brit Mandelo is a writer, critic, and editor whose primary fields of interest are speculative fiction and queer literature, especially when the two coincide. They have two books out, Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction and We Wuz Pushed: On Joanna Russ and Radical Truth-telling, and in the past have edited for publications like Strange Horizons Magazine. Other work has been featured in magazines such as Stone Telling, Clarkesworld, Apex, and Ideomancer.

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Posted by Leah Schnelbach, Emily Asher-Perrin

The adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens is picking up steam! We already have the perfect Crowley and Aziraphale (in case you didn’t know, it’s DAVID TENNANT AND MICHAEL SHEEN), but that’s just the beginning of the casting process. We have some suggestions for the rest of the adult characters—we’re not casting the kids ’cause kids are hard. They just… grow up, and change rapidly, and then your perfect ensemble cast is destroyed. Let us know what you think of our ideas, and make more suggestions in the comments!

 

Newton Pulsifier

Alfred Enoch! He played Dean Thomas in the Harry Potter films before going on to play Wes Gibbins on How to Get Away with Murder, where he had to use a combination of charm and quick wits to catch up with his far more prepared fellow students. We think he’d be delightful as accident-prone, “Walking Techbane” Junior Witchfinder Newt.

 

Anathema Device

Pearl Mackie, Doctor Who

Pearl Mackie would be flipping adorable in this part. She could give Anathema that no-nonsense vibe, while still being patently hilarious, as she’s already proven in her role as Bill Potts on Doctor Who. Also, listening to her recite Agnes’s prophecies to people not in the know would be delightful.

Jade Eshete, Dirk Gently

On Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Jade Eshete showcases Farah Black’s strength and ingenuity, but also her sometimes crippling neuroses. She creates a perfect balance of tough and vulnerable, and we think she’d be perfect to bring Anathema’s hippie side, as well as the eternal burden of being the descendant of a prophesying witch.

 

Sgt. Shadwell

There’s only one man for this job, and that man is Billy Connolly. The part was practically written for the guy, there is no denying this. Come to dark side, it has witchfinders.

 

Madame Tracy

Miriam Margolyes, Plebs

Miriam Margolyes is one of the greatest comedians and character actors in Great Britain, period. She would be superbly over the top as Madame Tracy, wearing all her baubles with aplomb. She’s already well-known to fans of fantasy fiction for parts in Harry Potter, Merlin, and The Sarah Jane Adventures, and she can wear a cape like no one’s business. She was the perfect overbearing aunt in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. This part fits her like a glove.

 

Famine

Mark Gatiss! Snarky, mean, looks good in black, can rock a sharp suit. He’d be a great choice for Raven Sable.

Robin Lord Taylor

Robin Lord Taylor is fantastic as the deeply icky Penguin on Gotham, and he would bring the right ratio of evil and pragmatism to Famine.

 

Pollution (AKA Chalky, AKA Mr. White)

OK, this one’s maybe a little too on the nose, but how fun would it be to have Tech Boy pop over from American Gods to play the youngest member of the Four Bikers of the Apocalypse? We think Bruce Langley is a perfect sell for this one.

 

War (AKA Carmine “Red” Zuigiber, AKA Scarlett)

Gwendoline Christie, Game of Thrones

Gwendoline Christie practically is the embodiment of war at this point, right? She’s wielded everything from blaster rifles to broadswords while barely breaking a sweat. Just dye her hair red and hand her the weapon of your choosing. She’s got this covered.

Diana Rigg, Game of Thrones

There is no reason War has to be played by a younger woman, and Diana Rigg has all the clout and then some. Remember when she was Mrs. Peel on The Avengers, and was constantly kicking people’s butts? Remember when she continued to do so on Game of Thrones? Yeah, we thought so. She should just keep doing that. Our hearts would be happier. Put Diana Rigg on a motorbike.

Sophie Okonedo, The Hollow Crown

Sophie Okonedo is everything. She rules as Liz Ten on Doctor Who, and she rules everywhere else her perfect feet land. She was a certified badass in red in Aeon Flux running alongside Charlize Theron. She was Queen Margaret in The Hollow Crown‘s Henry VI, there in full chainmail with a sword at her side. She would be amazing.

 

DEATH

Arthur Darvill, Legends of Tomorrow

WE THINK ARTHUR DARVILL MIGHT BE PERFECT TO DELIVER DEATH’S WRY CAPSLOCK WIT.

BUT. One of us (It’s Leah. This shit is always Leah) wouldn’t shut up about Craig Ferguson doing DEATH’S VOICE, with his old skeletal sidekick, Geoffrey Peterson, supplying DEATH’S BODY. So, there’s that.

 

Dog

Archer Basher-Parrot

We’d like to nominate Emily’s dog, Archer. He’s a very good boy.

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Posted by Jude Terror

Well, we finally have the answer to a years-old question about what happened to the Mystic U title that was supposed to launch as part of DC’s DC You initiative.

The promised Zatanna series from writer Alisa Kwitney, given an aesthetic spelling change and artist Mike Norton, will be (re)launched in November as Mystik U, a bi-monthly prestige format limited series with a cover by Julian Totino Tedesco (pictured above). Norton gives a rundown on the book’s concept in an EXCLUSIVE interview on DC’s website (how did they ever score that?!):

“Mystik U is about a sheltered show biz kid (Zatanna), a bitter rebel (Sebastian Faust, son of Felix), a split personality (Enchantress), a competitive premed student (new character Pia Morales), and an awkward prodigy (Sargon the Sorceror) all discovering that they have the capacity to perform real magic.

They’re enrolled at a university for the magically gifted, where the world’s most powerful practitioners of magic will mentor their fledgling talents…and try to discover which of them is fated to betray the others and become a powerful force of evil.”

One question not answered in the interview is whether or not Mystik U is accredited, or whether it’s more of a “university” in the same sense as Trump University or Acme Looniversity are. However, Kwitney does tell us what we can expect from the story:

“Human stuff. The first year of college is a kind of theater where people improvise themselves—sometimes they change their names, and they might adopt a whole new way of dressing along with a new passion. It’s also a place where you might discover that, after years of being on the bottom of the food chain in high school, there are people who recognize your talents. But the opposite can also occur—you realize that you’re no longer the best in the class at something. Mystik U is very much a story of freshman orientation for Zatanna and the others, but on magickal steroids.”

We hear Grant Morrison does his best work while high on magickal steroids. Kwitney also makes some Harry Potter comparisons and talks about the series’ villain:

“There is definitely a villain, but there’s also an exploration of the villain’s journey. One of the things I always loved about Harry Potter was the unfolding of the story of the young Tom Riddle and how he came to be Lord Voldemort. If I could ask J.K. Rowling to write a book for me, it would be the complete tale of Tom Riddle’s school days at Hogwarts.”

You can read the full interview at DC’s website. Mystik U #1 hits stores on November 29th.

MYSTIK U #1

Written by ALISA KWITNEY
Art by MIKE NORTON
Cover by JULIAN TOTINO TEDESCO

Leave the world of the mundane behind and step through the magical doors of Mystik U! After a tragic accident, a young Zatanna Zatara, under the guidance of Rose Psychic, enrolls in a mysterious university that teaches its students how to master their unique brands of magic. Will Zatanna fit in with her new classmates (Enchantress, Sargon the Sorcerer, Faust and more!) and unlock her true potential? Find out in this exciting bimonthly miniseries from novelist Alisa Kwitney (DESTINY) and Mike Norton (Revival, Runaways)!

On sale NOVEMBER 29 • 48 pg, FC, 1 of 3, $5.99 US • RATED T+

Alisa Kwitney And Mike Norton Take Zatanna To College In ‘Mystik U’ From DC In November

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Posted by Ray Flook

joy nash amc series dietland

Dietland has found its lead in Joy Nash, as AMC announced this week that the actress (known for her appearances in The Mindy Project and Twin Peaks) will be heading the cast of the cable network’s 10-episode straight-to-series order based on Sarai Walker’s darkly comedic-dramatic 2015 novel of the same name. Marti Noxon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mad Men), Skydance TV and AMC Studios are backing the production, with Noxon serving as executive producer, writer and showrunner. Noxon is also expected to direct multiple episodes of the series.

joy nash amc series dietland

Set against the backdrop of the beauty industry and seen as a character drama/revenge fantasy, Dietland shines a spotlight on society’s obsession with weight loss and beauty in a way that the creators hope is both comedic and though-provoking in unique ways.

joy nash amc series dietland

Here’s how publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt summarizes the novel, giving us some insight into Nash’s character, Plum Kettle:

“The diet revolution is here. And it’s armed.

Plum Kettle does her best not to be noticed, because when you’re fat, to be noticed is to be judged. Or mocked. Or worse. With her job answering fan mail for a popular teen girls’ magazine, she is biding her time until her weight-loss surgery. Only then can her true life as a thin person finally begin.

Then, when a mysterious woman starts following her, Plum finds herself falling down a rabbit hole and into an underground community of women who live life on their own terms. There Plum agrees to a series of challenges that force her to deal with her past, her doubts, and the real costs of becoming “beautiful.” At the same time, a dangerous guerrilla group called “Jennifer” begins to terrorize a world that mistreats women, and as Plum grapples with her personal struggles, she becomes entangled in a sinister plot. The consequences are explosive.”

Nash is no stranger to the conversation about how the media impacts society’s perceptions of weight and beauty: in 2007, she posted a monologue that she had written in a USC drama class to YouTube. A Fat Rant urged plus-size women to stop obsessing about their weight and embrace the way they look. The video went viral, garnering over 1.8 million views so far and a subsequent series of videos from Nash.

joy nash amc series dietland

“Joy is everything I hoped we’d find in our leading woman — beautiful, smart and blazing with talent,” said Noxon. “When she auditioned the whole room was electrified. I can’t wait for the world to meet her ‘Plum.’ ”

Skydance’s David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Marcy Ross will serve as executive producers on the series, along with Maria Grasso of Tiny Pyro, Bonnie Curtis and Julie Lynn of Mockingbird Pictures and Jackie Hoyt.

Joy Nash Takes Lead In AMC Dark Comedy-Drama Series ‘Dietland’

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Posted by Rich Johnston

Dastardly And Muttley #1
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Summary
Dastardly and Muttley — based on the classic Hanna-Barbera characters — is a surreal story with a lot of setup, but ultimately an enjoyable ride.

Dastardly and Muttley are two Hanna-Barbera characters who starred in the cartoon Dastardly And Muttley In Their Flying Machines (or just Dastardly and Muttley in the UK to avoid trademark clash with a British movie with a similar name that it was partially ripping off). Though everyone knows it as Stop The Pigeon, because of the theme tune.

That’s the one.

Produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions for CBS in the late ’60s/early ’70s, as a spinoff from the Wacky Races cartoon in which they appeared, it involved the Red Baron-esque antics of Dick Dastardly (based on the “cad” actor Terry Thomas) and company to stop Yankee Doodle Pigeon carrying secret messages with their tricked-up aeroplanes. The identities of the sides and the stakes of the battles were never revealed, but it was a given that Dastardly was a “baddie” and that Yankee Doodle was a “goodie”. Indeed, it is one of very few such cartoons in which the villains were the lead and protagonist.

The characters were revived last year by DC Comics for the comic book series Wacky Raceland, in which it is revealed before the Apocalyptic event that ravished the Earth. Dick Dastardly was now a world-famous pianist named Richard D’Astardlien, who agreed to enter the race to Earth’s last known paradise Utopia in order for the chance to see his wife and son be reborn.

Not a word of that is reflected in the first issue of the new comic book, Dastardly and Muttley, from Garth Ennis and Moritat. I understand that the Hanna-Barbera team at DC Comics had more pitches for this set of characters than any other, but Ennis’ reputation for writing war stories won through. But the resulting first issue is as wacky as any of those races. Despite the temptation for Garth to just run through the standard wartime story tropes playing it straight (other than one of them is a dog), he chooses a different, more surreal direction.

We meet two pilots, Colonel Atcherly and Captain Muller, Dick and Mutt, flying F15 missions across the Middle East — specifically an Islamic country that suffered a nuclear explosion as a result of a mistake with a nuclear reactor some years ago, resulting in a radioactive wasteland. There is a missing drone carrying surveillance secrets that needs destroying. Oh, and Mutt has brought his dog along for the ride, against explicit instructions.

But it appears a conspiracy is afoot. People have been lied to. And the nuclear explosion may well have done something else. A breach in reality? We don’t know. But the drone hasn’t crashed, and it’s off spreading some kind of reality-shifting madness. Cartoon references suddenly abound. And yes, you can imagine what happened to Mutt, Captain Muller, and his dog. I mean, it’s there on the cover.

So this appears to be the comic, as it begins to turn the world into a literal Hanna-Barbera world. It slightly reminds me of Donna Barr’s Stinz, a World War I procedural comic book that press-ganged centaurs into service.

In doing so, with such a ridiculous premise, Garth Ennis brings his familiarity with military and air force protocol, which manages to ground said premise with paperwork and promises much to come. It’s a hard line for Moritat to draw as well, encapsulating linework that wouldn’t look out of place in Terry and the Pilots while finding a way to Roger Rabbit in hints of the ridiculous cartoonishness to come. A more European style from Moritat, from the Franco-Belgian school that has more experience marrying the two worlds, often with cartoonish lead figures and detailed more photo realistic backgrounds serves this conceit well.

But for all that, Ennis keeps his tone lighter than usual. The deaths, the injuries, they happen off-panel. Much has been learned it seems from the less well-received Wacky Raceland, and while the subject here is clearly an adult one, there is nothing a parent could specifically object to. There are conspiracies of silence, an infection that is spreading, Dick’s own airforce seemingly working against him and realities that are very difficult to face. A lot of this issue is setup, but to be fair, this is a difficult narrative road to tread without losing the audience — and I was there the whole of the way.

Captain Muller, do something…

Dastardly And Muttley #1 by Garth Ennis, Moritat and John Calisz is published by DC Comics on September 9th.

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Dastardly And Muttley #1 Review: A Surreal Modern Warfare Story

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