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‘Wonder Woman’ Officially Hires Michelle MacLaren to Direct!

Wonder Woman movie director

A few weeks ago we reported that ‘Breaking Bad’ director and producer Michelle MacLaren was in talks to take the helm on WB’s ‘Wonder Woman’ film, which was incredibly exciting news on its own. Today brings word that MacLaren has officially signed on to not only direct, but also formally develop the film, working with the writers to bring the iconic superhero to the big screen in her own solo movie.

THR reports that MacLaren, who is also known for her strong directing work on episodes of ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘The Walking Dead,’ has officially signed on to direct ‘Wonder Woman’ after months of meetings with the studio. According to the report, WB also considered ‘The Babadook’ director Jennifer Kent, and Lesli Linka Glatter, director and co-executive producer of Showtime’s ‘Homeland’—either of these choices would have made for interesting and exciting prospects, but MacLaren’s name has popped up as a favorite to direct in many articles (including my own) since WB first announced the project.

The ‘Wonder Woman’ film will kick off a proposed trilogy of solo films for Gal Gadot’s hero, with the first taking place on her home of Paradise Island, where the Amazonians are split up into warring factions. A mysterious man arrives asking for our hero’s help, and from there she travels to WWII-era America, and is surprised to find that women are not treated as equals. Keeping in the spirit of the character, the proposed storyline has a feminist slant, and hiring a female director to bring Wonder Woman’s first solo adventure to the big screen feels like the right thing to do—especially one like MacLaren, who has proven that she has a strong eye for what makes compelling, engaging action.

This will be MacLaren’s first time directing a feature-length film, but we’ve been anxiously awaiting this debut for some time now. ‘Wonder Woman’ seems like the perfect fit. ‘Wonder Woman’—and MacLaren—will hit theaters on June 23, 2017.

Read More: ‘Wonder Woman’ Officially Hires Michelle MacLaren to Direct! |

Best Cosplay Ever (This Week): Lego Batman, Starfire, Infinite Crisis, Rule 63 Green Arrow, Iron Fist And More

Lego Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn and Catwoman

Cosplayed by Black Sheep Comics, photographed by Fred Zavala

Cosplayed by Black Sheep Comics, photographed by Fred Zavala


Cosplayed by Dynamite Webber Cosplay, photographed by Edward Liu

Cosplayed by Dynamite Webber Cosplay, photographed by Edward Liu

Princess Jasmine

Cosplayed by Jessica Shanholtz

Cosplayed by Jessica Shanholtz


Photographed by Ron Gejon Photography

Photographed by Ron Gejon Photography

Beast (Hank McCoy)

Cosplayed by David Robbins, photographed by Erica Henderson

Cosplayed by David Robbins, photographed by Erica Henderson

Rule 63 Green Arrow

Photographed by Ron Gejon Photography

Photographed by Ron Gejon Photography

Gaslight Catwoman (Infinite Crisis)

Cosplayed by Dex Morgan, photographed by Paul Hillier

Cosplayed by Dex Morgan, photographed by Paul Hillier

Scream (Marvel)

Cosplayed by Ms Luna, photographed by Pouncy

Cosplayed by Ms Luna, photographed by Pouncy

Iron Fist

Cosplayed by Cap Santiago, photographed by Edward Liu

Cosplayed by Cap Santiago, photographed by Edward Liu

Wonder Woman

Cosplayed by Joanna Miranda, photographed by Ron Gejon Photography

Cosplayed by Joanna Miranda, photographed by Ron Gejon Photography

Read More: Best Cosplay Ever (This Week) – 11.10.14 |

Rocketeer 2, Hellboy 3, Blade Runner 2 And More Posters for Sequels That Never Happened

Alex Griendling


Seems like every few months we get teased with the possibility of sequels to beloved films — stuff like ‘Hellboy 3‘ or a new ‘Blade Runner.’ While some of these films may or may not ever happen, a new art exhibit explores the idea of sequels that will probably never exist, including sequels to ‘Fight Club‘ and ‘The Rocketeer.’ Sure, franchise fatigue is real and it’s a problem, but this artwork sure does make these sequels seem mighty attractive.

The new show is simply titled Sequel, and will be open at Iam8bit in L.A. on Thursday, November 13, from 7:00 P.M. to 11:00 P.M. Collider debuted the ‘Sleepy Hollow 2′ and ‘Hellboy 3′ pieces, and you can preview some of the other artwork from the show below, as well. We’re particularly fond of the ‘Labyrinth 2′ piece by Ruben Ireland and the ‘Blade Runner’ sequel piece by Cory Schmitz.

Click on the images below for larger versions:


Cory Schmitz
Kaz Oomori
Orlando Arocena
Andrew Bannecker
Ruben Ireland
Nikkolas Smith
Alex Griendling


You can find more information on the official Facebook page for the event, where you can also RSVP to attend.

Read More: Posters for Sequels That Never Happened From New Exhibit |

The Top Five Worst Superhero Teams In Comics


If there’s one thing we’ve learned from our years on the Internet, it’s that there’s no aspect of comics that can’t be broken down and quantified in a single definitive list, preferably in amounts of five or ten. And since there’s no more definitive authority than ComicsAlliance, we’re taking it upon ourselves to compile lists of everything you could ever want to know about comics.

This week, we’re talking about superhero teams, and while everybody these days loves the Avengers and, shockingly, the Guardians of the Galaxy, that doesn’t mean that they’re all winners. That’s why we’re taking on five of the worst teams in comics, from the weird but secretly awesome all the way down to the absolute dregs!

Show Notes:

  • Marvel actually reprinted The Champions a while back, and it’s absolutely worth reading.
  • I wrote about the New Blackhawk Era allllll the way back in those early comics blogging days of 2006, if you’re curious.
  • Force Works was, incidentally, part of the basis for the 1990s Marvel Action Hour Iron Man cartoon.
  • Extreme Justice is as bad as you’d think, but writer Dan Vado would go on to found Slave Labor Graphics, one of the most prominent indie/artcomix publishers of the decade.
  • Find out more about why The New Guardians are Nobody’s Favorites. Except Snowflame, the supervillain who worships cocaine. Everyone rightfully loves that dude.

Read More: The Top Five Worst Superhero Teams In Comics |

Best Art Ever (This Week): Halloween 2014 Edition

We make a regular practice at ComicsAlliance of spotlighting particular artists or specific bodies of work, but because cartoonists, illustrators and their fans share countless numbers of great images on sites like Flickr, Tumblr, DeviantArt and seemingly infinite art blogs that we’ve created Best Art Ever (This Week), a weekly depository for just some of the pieces of especially compelling artwork that we come across in our regular travels across the Web. Some of it’s new, some of it’s old, some of it’s created by working professionals, some of it’s created by future stars, some of it’s created by talented fans, and some of it’s endearingly silly. All of it’s awesome.

In honor of Halloween, we’ve compiled the darkest and spookiest selections from Best Art Evers past.


We’re very much interested to see what you’ve dug up and think should be featured here in Best Art Ever (This Week). Please submit any great art links to Artists, feel free to send in your own work or to request that your work be removed.

Where possible, please visit these artists’ websites to see more of their work, buy their products or commission an original piece.

Frankenstein’s Bride by Genevieve FT

Death by Marc Hempel

Slimer vs. Doop by Michael Lloyd

Frankenstein’s Bride by Bruce Timm

Bride of Frankenstein by Alex Smith

Deadman vs. the Exorcist by Steven Howard for The Line It Is Drawn

“The Picnic” by Scott C.

Mater Morbi and Dylan Dog by Massimo Carnevale

Frankenstein and Vampirella by Kevin Nowlan

Death by Marc Hempel

From Dusk Till Dawn by Mike Hawthorne

“Encounter on an Eerie Evening” by Richard Sala

Adventure Time’s Lich King by Duncan Fegredo from the collection of Zack Smith

Judge Dredd vs. Judge Death by Greg Staples

“Untitled” by Sara Pichelli

Alien by Tristan Jones and Luis Antonio Delgado

Leave it to Chance by Mike Wieringo

Art by Moritat

Skeletor by David Rapoza

Hellboy/Peanuts mashup by Raid71 aka Chris Thornley for Art V. Cancer

Morbius by Tom Fowler

RGB/Blood by Luca Claretti

Marceline, the Vampire Queen by Jenyffer Maria

Swamp Thing by John Totleben

Lobster Johnson by James Harren

Hellboy by Mike Mignola

Eyes of the Cat by Moebius

Zombie Santa Claus or Papanoel by Kike Riesco

Ghost Rider by Mike Bear

Art by Nadeshico Rin

Vampirella by Shane Glines

Boatman of R’lyeh by Teemu Matinlauri

Hellboy by Romik Safarian

Black Swan by Kim Herbst

Judge Death by Garry Leach

Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser by Mike Mignola

Vampirella by Brian Stelfreeze

Death by Alex Maleev

Doctor Strange by Kevin Nowlan

Hello Kitty Zombie by John Cebollero

Art by Bruce Timm

Creature from the Black Lagoon by Arthur Adams

Vertigo pantheon by Brian Bolland

Young Justice Halloween designs by Jerome K. Moore

Dr. Frank-N-Furter by doubleleaf

Frankenstein by Bernie Wrightson

Vampyres by Bill Sienkiewicz

Aliens by Eduardo Risso

Death by Brian Stelfreeze

Blade by Humberto Ramos

Halloween Eve by Amy Reeder

Attack the Block by Alex Pardee

The Walking Dead’s Michonne by Chris Stevens

Christopher Walken from The Prophecy by Romik Safarian

Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child by Rafael Grampá

Jareth the Goblin King by Amancay Nahuelpan-Bustamante for Ashcan Allstars

Vampirella by Arthur Suydam

Dracula by Mike Mignola

Vampirella by Joshua Middleton

Batman by Mike Mignola

Death by David Mack from the collection of Celeste Torres

Dark City by Romik Safarian

The Manhattan Projects by Tradd Moore

The Spectre by Charles Vess

Vampirella by Frank Frazetta

Art by Alphonse Inoue

Abe Sapien by Fellipe Martins

Art by Kalen Knowles for The Reward

Etrigan the Demon by Tyler Parker

Art by Javier Gonzalez Pacheco

Animaniacs horror film mashup by RIPT Apparel

Abe Sapien by Dylan Rose

The Crow by Admira Wijaya

John Constantine by Skottie Young from the collection of Chris Hargett

Werewolf by Bernie Wrightson

Death by Sebastian von Buchwald

Weird War Tales by Darwyn Cooke

Nosferatu by Chris Weston

Vampirella by JH Williams III

Mina Harker and Mr. Hyde by Adam Hughes

The Endless by Chris Bachalo and Tim Townsend

Man-Bat by David Hitchcock

Frankenstein’s monster by Bernie Wrightson

From Osteographia by William Cheselden

Vampirella by Bruce Timm

Art by Chiara Bautista

ampirella and Dracula by Dracula and Vampirella by Ray Lago

Hellboy by Francesco Francavilla

House of Secrets by Teddy Kristiansen from the collection of Michael Schmidt

Death by Chris Bachalo

Marceline and the Scream Queens by Arielle Jovellanos

Elvis vs. mummies from “King of the Unknown” by Marcus Muller

Vertigo promo by Sean Phillips

Death by Ryan Kelly

Death by Marc Hempel

The Shadow by Dustin Harbin

Jake Parker’s Spaceskull homage by Rudy Slama

Art by Cameron Stewart

Vampirella by Steve Rude

Vampirella by Steve Rude

Morrigan by Mindy Lee

Morrigan by Mindy Lee

“Plague of Crows” by Robert Wilson IV

"Plague of Crows" by Robert Wilson IV

Deadman by Francesco Biagini

Deadman by Francesco Biagini

Let The Right One In by Boris Maita

Let The Right One In by Boris Maita

General Mills Monsters by Thomas Boatwright

General Mills Monsters by Thomas Boatwright

Magik & S’ym by Arthur Adams

Magik & S’ym by Art Adams

Amethyst and John Constantine by Brianne Drouhard

Amethyst and John Constantine by Brianne Drouhard

the Spectre by Mike Mignola

the Spectre by Mike Mignola

Teen Titans’ Raven by Mike Maihack

Teen Titans' Raven by Mike Maihack

Deadman by John Gallagher

Deadman by John Gallagher

Death by Oliver Nome

Death by Oliver Nome

Frankenstein by Barry Moser

Frankenstein by Barry Moser

Usagi Yojimbo by Francesco Francavilla for the Stan Sakai Benefit

Usagi Yojimbo by Francesco Francavilla for the <a href="" target="_blank">Stan Sakai Benefit</a>

Art by Felipe Cunha for IDW’s In The Dark anthology

Art by Felipe Cunha for IDW's In The Dark anthology

Mephisto by John Buscema

Mephisto by John Buscema

Vampirella and the Witch Queen by Manuel Sanjulian from the collection of Joe Jusko

Vampirella and the Witch Queen by Manuel Sanjulian from the collection of Joe Jusko

Scarecrow by Chris Weston

Scarecrow by Chris Weston

Death by Shane Glines

Death by Shane Glines

Spectre by Bill Sienkiewicz

Spectre by Bill Sienkiewicz

John Constantine by Dave McKean

John Constantine by Dave McKean

Aliens by Mike Mignola

Aliens by Mike Mignola

Batman vs. Spawn by Todd McFarlane and Steve Oliff

Batman vs. Spawn by Todd McFarlane and Steve Oliff

Ghost Rider as a hamster by Mike Del Mundo

Ghost Rider as a hamster by Mike Del Mundo

Doctor Strange and Clea by Michael Kaluta

Doctor Strange and Clea by Michael Kaluta

Hellboy by Kevin Nowlan

Hellboy by Kevin Nowlan

Pretty Deadly’s Ginny by Johnni Kok

Pretty Deadly's Ginny by Johnni Kok

Doctor Occult by Kent Williams

Doctor Occult by Kent Williams

Lady Death by Meghan Hetrick

Lady Death by Meghan Hetrick

“Alfred Hitchcock’s Haunted Houseful” art by Fred Banbery

"Alfred Hitchcock's Haunted Houseful" art by Fred Banbery

Death by Ryan Kelly

Death by Ryan Kelly

“Lilith II” by H.R. Giger

"Lilith II" by H.R. Giger

Doctor Strange by Gabriel Hardman

Doctor Strange by Gabriel Hardman

Dr. Jekyll by John K. Snyder III

Dr. Jekyll by John K. Snyder III

The Spectre by Charles Vess

The Spectre by Charles Vess

Amanda Waller by Kevin Maguire

Amanda Waller by Kevin Maguire

Vampirella by Fiona Staples

Vampirella by Fiona Staples

The Wicked Witch by Adam Hughes for Emerald City Comicon

The Wicked Witch by Adam Hughes for Emerald City Comicon

Ghost Rider by Romik Safarian

Ghost Rider by Romik Safarian

Fatale by Sean Phillips for TCAF

Fatale by Sean Phillips

The Goonies by Logan Ganshirt

The Goonies by Logan Ganshirt

Zombie Donatello by Francesco Francavilla

Zombie Donatello by Francesco Francavilla

Norgil the Magician by Jim Steranko

Norgil the Magician by Jim Steranko

Art by Bruce Timm

Art by Bruce Timm

Ghostbusters’ Dana Barrett by Erica Henderson

Ghostbusters' Dana Barrett by Erica Henderson

Art by Luis Royo

Art by Luis Royo

Doctor Strange by Frank Brunner

Doctor Strange by Frank Brunner

Magik by Michael Lee Lunsford

Magik by Michael Lee Lunsford

Scary Godmother by Mike Mignola from the collection of Jill Thompson

Scary Godmother by Mike Mignola from the collection of Jill Thompson

Spawn by Frank Miller

Spawn by Frank Miller

Nightcrawler by Craig Hamilton

Nightcrawler by Craig Hamilton

The Sandman and Death by Jae Lee from the collection of Michael Diaz

The Sandman and Death by Jae Lee from the collection of Michael Diaz

House of Mystery page by Bernie Wrightson

House of Mystery page by Bernie Wrightson


Legion of Monsters #1 by Juan Doe

Vampirella versus Buffy the Vampire Slayer by Bruce Timm


Hellboy and Liz Sherman by Dan Brereton

Spawn and Clown by Jim Lee and Todd McFarlane

Daphne and Velma by Kris Anka

H.P. Lovecraft by Bruce Timm

Etrigan the Demon by Bruce Timm

B.P.R.D. by Kevin Nowlan

Swamp Thing by Bruce Timm

John Constantine by Uwe De Witt

“Hot Zombie Chick” by Colin Fix

Vampirella by Dave Bullock

Deadman and The Spectre by Kevin Nowlan

Vampirella by Olivier Coipel

Deadman by Yildiray Cinar

Bride of Frankenstein by Ming Doyle

Hammer Horror by Bruce Timm

Batman, Swamp Thing and John Constantine by J.G. Jones

Spider-Man vs. Hobgoblin by Charles Vess

Zombie Easter Bunny by Vince Chui

The Sandman and Death by Sara Richard

Jam piece by Jamie McKelvie and Becky Cloonan

Etrigan by Steve Rude

Hellboy vs. Rasputin by Scott Morse

Zombie Pikachu by Berk Öztürk

Demonic Totoro by Sachsen

Death by Terry Moore

Death by Ryan Kelly

The Phantom Stranger by Matt Wagner



Deadman by Mike Mignola


>The Darkness by Michael Ivan

>Zombie art is by Olli Hihnala

>Swamp Thing by Art Adams

>Lilith, Dracula’s daughter by Bruce Timm

>The Crow by J. O’Barr

>Zombie Transmetropolitan by Tony Moore

>Death by Charles Holbert, Jr.

>Slimer by Chris Samnee

>H.P. Lovecraft by Gary Pulin

>Cthulhu by Michael Dashow (click to enlarge)

>Solomon Grundy by Ryan Sook

>Painting 171 by Brad Wright

I, Zombie #1 cover by Darwyn Cooke

The Addams Family by Bob Lizarraga

Storia by Nardack

Hellboy by Mike Mignola

Satanna by Art Adams

Etrigan by Bruce Timm

Voldemort by Nicholas Kole

Zombie Batman by Ryan Ottley

The Sandman by Brian Bolland

Zombie Link by Josh Mirman

Young Frankenstein’s Igor by Zach Bellissimo

Read More: Best Art Ever (This Week): Halloween 2014 Edition |

Warner Bros Announces Justice League, Wonder Woman, Aquaman Movies & More

  At a presentation to investors on Wednesday morning, Warner Bros CEO Kevin Tsujihara unveiled his studio’s blockbuster movie slate for the next few years through to 2020, finally confirming the titles for an ambitious number of movies based on DC Comics superhero properties. The announcement confirms that we will finally see a long-awaited Wonder Woman movie in 2017. Gal Gadot will reprise the role after 2016′s Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice. The announcement also includes the expected Justice League movie — and a sequel — the previously announced Suicide Squad movie, and pictures starring Justice League members AquamanFlashGreen Lantern, and Cyborg. This means DC now has one superhero movie in the works with a female lead, and three with non-white leads. In addition to the DC movies, Tsujihira confirmed Fantastic Beasts movies for 2016, 2018 and 2020, based on a spin-off of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books; and three Lego movies for 2016 through 2018, starting with a Ninjago movie, then the previously announced Lego Batman movie, and finally The Lego Movie 2. According to a tweet from Time Warner, this slate of DC movies does not preclude the possibility of additional Superman and Batman movies going into production in the same period. The slate also does not include the Sandman movie, based on Neil Gaiman‘s DC Vertigo comic, which actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt is producing and hopes to star in, or Guillermo Del Toro’s long discussed Justice League Dark projeect. Presumably those pictures are not intended to be tentpole blockbuster releases.  
Slide from Kevin Tsujihara’s presentation

  We know that Jason Momoa will star in 2018′s Aquaman, Dwayne Johnson will co-star as Black Adam in Shazam, and Ray Fisher will star in 2020′s Cyborg. A separate announcement on Wednesday revealed that indie hearthrob Ezra Miller will play the movie version of The Flash, both across the Justice League movies and in his own movie in 2018. That means that the glum movie Flash and the cheerful TV Flash will co-exist in separate on-screen worlds — and on-screen Quicksilvers no longer have a numerical advantage. The biggest surprise in this list is perhaps that DC will take a second swing at Green Lantern, despite the failure of the dreadful 2011 movie. No casting announcement has been made. Ryan Reynolds is surely out of the picture, especially with his Deadpool movie in the works. Dare we hope that Warner Bros plans to bring John Stewart to the big screen? Here’s the full rundown of announced DC movies: 2016: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, directed by Zack Snyder Suicide Squad, directed by David Ayer 2017: Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) Justice League, directed by Zack Snyder 2018: The Flash (Ezra Miller) Aquaman (Jason Momoa) 2019: Shazam (Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam) Justice League 2, directed by Zack Snyder 2020: Cyborg (Ray Fisher) Green Lantern

Read More: WB Confirms Justice League, Wonder Woman, Aquaman Films |

Photo Gallery: The Cosplay Of New York Comic Con 2014, Part 1

As readers will know from our weekly Best Cosplay Ever feature, we’re big fans of cosplay at ComicsAlliance. The comics, sci-fi, gaming, and fantasy communities have proved time and again their exceptional talents for homemade disguises and superheroic sartorial excellence, and all of their craft and skill will be on display this weekend at New York Comic-Con. Our chief cosplay correspondent Betty Felon is on hand to document as much of it as she can. Scroll down for some of the very finest cosplay from New York.



Batman ’66




Barnacle Boy & Mermaid Man


Doctor Strange


Jurassic Park






Filed Under:  Category: ConventionsCosplayCulture

Read More: Photo Gallery: The Cosplay Of New York Comic Con 2014, Part 1 |

U.S. Supreme Court Declines To Hear Shuster Family’s Superman Ownership Case


The Kirby family may have secured a settlement with Marvel, but the family of another high profile comic creator that petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its case has not been quite so lucky. On Monday morning the Court released a list of all the cases that it declined to hear in this session, and the list includes the case of the family of Superman co-creator Joe Shuster.

The decision upholds the ruling of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which stated that Shuster’s nephew, Mark Peary, had no ownership claim on the character. The Shuster estate gave up its claims to Superman in a 1992 agreement that gave the family a $600,000 payout and a $25,000 annual pension.

Peary was trying to specifically reclaim the rights to Action Comics #1, which introduced the characters of Superman and Lois Lane, and established many of the familiar traits of the Superman character, including his civilian identity, Clark Kent. Peary claimed that the family members who signed that 1992 agreement — Shuster’s brother Frank and sister Jean — did not have the authority to assign those rights. Copyrights did not carry over to siblings at that time; only children, grandchildren and spouses.

The Ninth Circuit also overturned a ruling that granted the heirs of writer Jerry Siegel a 50% stake in Action Comics #1.

This decision seems to close off one legal approach for the Shuster estate, and leaves the ownership of Superman entirely in the hands of DC and Warner Bros., though it is possible that the family may attempt to pursue their claim through other arguments.

Filed Under:  Category: DCNews

Read More: U.S. Supreme Court Declines To Hear Shuster Case |

The Piano Guys’ Batman Music Medley Will Make Your Jaw Drop [Video]


Batman’s movie and TV adaptations have had varying degrees of success over the years, but one aspect of the DC Comics franchise that has been almost universally good for the past five decades or so has been the music.

As if to prove it, the Piano Guys — a duo consisting of a pianist and a cellist (shouldn’t they be the Piano and Electric Cello Guys?) — have taken three iconic Batman themes, arranged them for their own instruments, and mashed them up in a really creative and compelling way. Not only that, they put it all in an absolutely beautifully shot video.

There’s so much to look at and listen to in this video. Look at those CGI sets! They look just like the Batman ’66 Batcave, a Tim Burton Gotham City alley, the City Hall steps of The Dark Knight Rises, and a picturesque Gotham rooftop. Those batmobiles are super cool. And look, their instruments and costumes change to match the scenes! They got different pianos and cellos to be more Batman-adaptation-appropriated. That is commitment.

And then there’s the music. Neal Hefti’s theme to the 1966 Batman TV show transitions beautifully into Danny Elfman’s 1989 Batman theme, and then things flow into the Hans Zimmer music from the Christopher Nolan movies. It all blends together so well, and the last 30 seconds or so are a wonderful mix of all three.

The only thing I wish the piece had was a nod to Elfman and Shirley Walker’s Batman: The Animated Series themes, which may be my favorite of all. Maybe next time, guys?


Read More: The Piano Guys’ Batman Music Medley Will Make Your Jaw Drop |

Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2 Recap, Episode 1: ‘Shadows’


Hello, friends. How was your summer? Good, I hope. But all that is behind us now; it’s time to get back to work. Deflate the beach balls; put away the flip-flops; unpack the waterproof poncho. Agents of SHIELD is back, and I’m back to recap it. (Inexplicably, I was not fired for my recaps last season. I was actually promoted. Sorry, everyone.)

Long-time ComicsAlliance’s Agents of SOMETHING readers will recall that my major objection to Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD is that it just didn’t make enough use of its Marvel Universe playground. It didn’t need Chris Evans pouting beautifully in every episode; it just needed to exploit the assets it had. Season one never did; yet everything I’ve heard about season two makes me want to give the show another chance. Because, like Doctor Doom, I’m very smart but I never learn.

When last we left the agents, SHIELD had been broken up following its infiltration by HYDRA over in the movies; boring Agent Ward was exposed as a more attractive villain; Coulson got promoted to director of an agency that kinda doesn’t exist anymore — hey, congrats; and techy Agent Fitz got wet and had to be packed in rice, and everyone was too afraid to turn him back on in case he didn’t work anymore.

Also, Guardians of the Galaxy happened, and Agent Carter got commissioned to series, so we can be sure to see something of the latter and we shouldn’t be surprised to see something of the former, especially given how this show danced around the alien stuff all last season. The duck’s out of the bag, Agents of SHIELD. Embrace the space weird.

I’ve come up with a brilliant new structure for breaking down the episodes this year, and it’s not at all contrived. I’ll examine each episode based on Story, Highlights, Lowlights, Explosions, Introductions, and Dumb Questions. Why? Because I really want the initials to spell SHLEID.

S is for Story

In Hydra-era Germany, SHIELD’s predecessors in the Strategic Scientific Reserve capture a bunch of Hydra agents and secure a tacky looking silver obelisk that looks like something Gordon Ramsay gives out to the winner of one of his reality shows — but which can apparently turn people to stone.

In the present day, a SHIELD sting to buy the obelisk from a rogue former agent ends badly when a giant bulletproof man bursts onto the scene and everyone starts shooting. A recovered chip of the bulletproof man’s “armor” reverts to bloody flesh back in the lab, and the agents learn that the man is Carl Creel (Brian Patrick Wade), a HYDRA asset they believed to be dead. Skye (Chloe Bennett) questions captive traitor Ward (Brett Dalton), and learns that Creel is a former boxer who went by the nickname “Crusher,” who has the power to absorb the qualities of materials he touches.

Creel goes after Brigadier General Glenn Talbot (Adrian Pasdar), the man tasked with getting SHIELD to yield. SHIELD saves Talbot and takes him into custody, where Coulson (Clark Gregg) tells him they shouldn’t be enemies, but Talbot seems pretty committed.

Meanwhile, Talbot’s men take Creel into custody — and Creel uses his power to camouflage his way out and head for the obelisk, which happens to be at the same facility. SHIELD is once again on hand to intercept, but one of the mercenaries working for SHIELD, Isabel Hartley (Lucy Lawless), touches the obelisk to defend herself against Creel, and her hand turns to stone.

While the agents steal a Quinjet with cloaking technology, Isabel is rushed away in a car for medical attention. A fellow merc cuts off her hand to save her life — only for their vehicle to crash into Creel, who takes the obelisk and leaves the mercenaries for dead.

In the closing scene, we learn that the Hydra bigwig we saw at the opening of the episode (Reed Diamond) is still alive, and seemingly hasn’t aged a day.


H is for Highlights

I may surprise you here, but I thought this was a strong return for Agents of SHIELD. Is it too soon to say that the show finally has some promise?

Maybe I’m being deceived because the episode opens with a glimpse of Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), Dum-Dum Dugan (Neal McDonough), and Jim Morita (Kenneth Choi) from Captain America: The First Avenger. Within the episode this serves to set up both the obelisk story and our new antagonist, ‘Dr Whitehall’, the Hydra officer played by Reed Diamond. It’s also helping to set up Agent Carter, the show that will stand in for Agents of SHIELD at mid-season, and I’m unapologetically excited for that show.

But even without that glimpse of Hayley Atwell’s Peggy, this was still a better show. Reducing SHIELD to a smaller, ragtag operation ironically creates a much better sense of SHIELD as an organization. Having HYDRA as a permanent opponent, and Reed Diamond as the new antagonist, allows the show to stay focused.

And of course, there was Crusher Creel, the Absorbing Man — a real comic book villain with real comic book villain powers. He’s reduced to hench-goon here rather than driving a story directly, but that doesn’t really feel like slumming it for Crusher Creel. Also, there’s a glorious moment when the character tears off a piece of chain fence with a ball at the end to recreate the character’s iconic ball-and-chain weapon, and if Agents of SHIELD is finally going to start pandering to my nerdy affections like this, I am all in favor of that.

Adrian Pasdar finally got something to do as Glenn Talbot, the Hulk nemesis now downgraded to Coulson nemesis, and he’s very entertaining in the role, especially when he sneeringly refers to Coulson’s over-used plane-based prison cell as a “honeycomb kill room.”

The episode also introduced some intriguing new characters in the mercenaries, swaggering Isabel Hartley (Lucy Lawless), louche Lance Hunter (Nick Blood), and “Idaho” (Wilmer Calderon), who I assume doubles up as Coyote Ugly dancer. These characters feel rougher, more charismatic, and less blandly inoffensive than our core cast of agents.


L is for Lowlights

The show very quickly kills these new characters off.

OK, Lance seems to have survived, but the other two look dead. Alas, poor Idaho, we barely knew thee. But Lucy Lawless’s character (a) is played by Lucy Lawless and (b) just had an arm cut off moments before dying, which feels like a set-up for something rather than a misdirect, so I’m going to go out on a limb (sorry) and say she’ll be back in some capacity. Ooh, ooh, she can be a Deathlok!

The other big disappointment of the episode, I’m sorry to say, was a scene between Skye (Chloe Bennett) and her star-crossed beloved Ward (Brett Dalton). It wasn’t a bad scene in itself, but I felt my enthusiasm waning as they established that Ward has tried to slit his wrists inside his cell, and I was especially frustrated when Ward made a reference to Skye’s mysterious parents and Skye didn’t hear it. I hate that the show is still toying with the idea of Ward’s redemption, and I’m exhausted by Skye’s never-ending, never-really-beginning mysteries. There are better characters on this show than this watery pair.


E is for Explosions

Not a lot of boom in this episode; all of the Creel fights were surprisingly short, especially the central open air fight with Talbot where the ball and chain came into play. Actor Brian Patrick Wade is an imposing figure, and I’ve seen him do much more impressive fight scenes than these, so it seems a waste not to make better use of him

The biggest bombshell of the episode was an emotional one. At the end of last season we learned that Agent Fitz’s (Iain DeCaestecker) time under water may have given him brain damage. This episode we discover that this is indeed the case, as he’s having trouble finding his words and piecing together his thoughts. In all his scenes, Agent Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) stands dotingly at his side, fussing over him.

At the end of the episode we learn that Agent Simmons quit weeks ago to give Fitz space to recover. The person he’s been talking to is a hallucination. That’s quite a kick in the stomach.


I is for Introductions

At least three established Marvel characters joined the on-screen universe with this episode. Crusher Creel is an old-school Stan-and-Jack creation. Originally a Thor villain, his powers are Asgardian in origin in the comics, but that hasn’t been established in the show.

Lance Hunter is very loosely based on a senior British secret agent from the Captain Britain comics, created by Gary Friedrich and Herb Trimpe, but the on-screen character has almost no resemblance to him. Reed Diamond’s new villain Dr Whitehall is based on the comic book HYDRA agent Daniel Whitehall, aka Kraken, created by Jonathan Hickman. He’s best known for wearing a hat that looks like a crab. We probably won’t see Reed Diamond wearing a crab hat.


D is for Dumb Questions

Why are there multiple Koenigs (Patton Oswalt) at the various SHIELD facilities?

It was a fair question last season, but Agent Triplett (BJ Britt) asks it this episode, so perhaps we’ll get an answer. (It’s probably Life Model Decoys. Can it be that obvious?)


Who is Idaho and why does he only have one name?

OK, this may not be an important question now that he’s dead, but I confess I was scrambling around to try to identify Marvel characters from Idaho. The Leader is from Boise! And so is Gargantua, a size-shifting Master of Evil who was originally a SHIELD agent. Ooh, ooh, ooh, Idaho is Gargantua!


Who is that very tall man who keeps lurking around the new SHIELD HQ? A

ll right, I know from PR that he’s an engineer played by Henry Simmons, and I even know that the character shares a name with another SHIELD agent from the comics, but the character is so loosely established in this episode that he could easily be another Fitz hallucination. He feels like a deeply weird presence in this episode.


Blah blah blah Skye’s dad.

Who cares? No-one cares.


Next week: Melinda May rides a motorbike.

Read More: Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2 Recap, Episode 1: ‘Shadows’ |

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