Dark Horse Comics

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 Marvel and DC may have a cinematic stranglehold that tightens with each new release, but there’s always room for other studios to get in on the act. Historically Dark Horse Comics have given Marvel and DC the odd nip on the heel with the Hellboy, 300 and Aliens vs. Predator movies, but things have been quiet around the stables for a while. That is, until now. The Dark Horse tosses its head and whinnies once more, with an adaptation of Frank Miller’s ultraviolent sci-fi comic Hard Boiled under negotiation at Warner Bros. There are some intriguing choices for director and lead.

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Who doesn’t love the Buffy the Vampire Slayer? The show where normal teenage high school cheerleader Buffy Summers finds out that not only is the paranormal real, it’s her job to kick it in the teeth—and boy, does she ever. The TV show, a re-imagining and update (created by Avengers and Firefly director Joss Whedon) of the movie of the same name, ran from 1997 ’til 2003 for seven seasons. Fans could not get enough of it; despite the show ending, people clamored for more of Buffy and the gang, which resulted in an ongoing series to continue the story. This resulted in three more seasons in comic form. Now, this fall, the story will continue again. (more…)

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The big announcement coming from Emerald City Comi Con,  pits three of the universe’s most feared figures against one another this summer in the ultimate science-fiction crossover battle: Predator vs. Judge Dredd vs. Aliens! For fans of the 2012 sci-fi comic film-adaptation  of Dredd starring Karl Urban,  this Dark Horse Comics title featuring the one-man judge, jury and executioner, will quell the ache left behind from the lack of a sequel.  Find out more after the jump

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4 Dark Horse Comic Series to Make the Jump to TV

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Obviously comic books as TV series has been a trend that everyone (except NBC) has enjoyed collecting dividends from. Aside from the notable cancellation of Constantine, most TV series that originate from comic series enjoy decent ratings, an enthusiastic fanbase and the endorsement of their networks. No wonder then that Universal wants in on that action. A new deal between the studio and Dark Horse Comics was announced yesterday, and it will see the transference of some big Dark Horse properties to the small screen in a development deal that covers both adaptations and original works from the Milwaukie, OR-based publisher. What titles might you see coming soon to a TV/cable channel near you? Read on. (more…)

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It was one of the inevitable big shifts to come out of Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012, the changing of the guard in terms of what company will get to print Star Wars comics in the future. Disney, of course, owns Marvel Comics, which means the end of Dark Horse Comics’ some 23 years publishing comics and graphic novels about that galaxy far, far away. It was only a matter of time, but some recent develops seem to indicate that the last days of Star Wars by Dark Horse are sooner, rather than later. (more…)

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I don’t need to tell you what Firefly is, or why it’s so prevalent in nerd culture.  A) I’m lazy and B) any nerd worth a lick knows all about Mal, the crew of Serenity, and the Whedon way. Bah, screw it. Like to hear it, hear it go. Like a leaf on the wind, Firefly (the show) danced around us joyfully and left before we were ready to say goodbye (cancelled by FOX after a 15 episode run). Then came Serenity, the Firefly movie that was made specifically for the (space-western-starved) fans. It was good and it was shiny (albeit Whedon hitting us in the feels with Washe’s death, that bastard!). *sigh* Then it was gone again. Despite the ever growing fan-base and demand for more adventures, the cast and creatives of Firefly/Serenity departed ways and made nice careers for themselves. Out there, somewhere, we know Serenity is still flying! Flying where, though? Back to us perhaps? Well, get out from your bunk, hold onto your Jayne hats and wipe that mudders milk from your lips, ’cause Serenity is getting a sequel!

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When writers adapt a story for the big screen, OR create an original story based on established characters, it’s a given that they’re going to want to put their own mark on their creation, not merely clone the original, and one of the most common ways to do this is to introduce new characters that were not present in the source material.

Of course, this CAN be annoying if the newcomers steal too much thunder from the characters most of the fans will be buying tickets to see–but done right, original, non-canon, cinematic/television creations can become a welcome addition to a franchise, and even a permanent part of a character’s overall universe. In the case of comics, many of the more popular characters on this list actually transcended their television or cinematic origins, and were adopted by the books themselves…Some become so popular it’s even forgotten that there was ever a time when they were anything BUT original, canon characters.

Now, some of the fictional personalities listed here ended up as part of the comics–others never left the realm of the big or small screen–but ALL had their beginnings on something other than an illustrated periodical.

Here are ten characters that are as good as anything spawned from the imaginations of the best comic writers:

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10. Bob The Goon (Batman)

Bob The Goon (as he is known on IMDB) is Joker’s “Number One Guy” in Tim Burton’s groundbreaking “Noir-esque” 1989 interpretation of the Caped Crusader. Starting off as Jack Napier’s triggerman, he becomes the second most powerful criminal in Gotham when Napier becomes Joker and takes control of Carl Grissom’s syndicate….Until Joker gets annoyed and shoots him dead for no discernible reason.

Bob is played by remarkably prolific (166 film and TV roles) actor Tracey Walter, whom you may also recognize as “Cookie” from City Slickers, Coroner’s assistant Lamar in Silence Of The Lambs, and the thief Malak in Conan The Destroyer.

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9. Captain Amazing (Mystery Men)

1999’s Mystery Men is based on characters from Dark Horse’s surrealist superhero comic: Flaming Carrot. Imagine the super team analogy to a delusional garage band, and you have a pretty good idea what the plot of the film is like: Costumed heroes with a lot of heart, but little actual skill.

Captain Amazing is an original creation of the film played by Greg Kinnear, and he represents the opposite of the Mystery Men: Not only is he a talented and effective crimefighter, he’s also rich and famous, most of his money coming from endorsement deals and selling ad space on his supersuit like it’s a stock car.  I personally love the idea of  “superhero turned corporate whore”, and Kinnear plays it to the hilt.

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8. Otis (Superman: The Movie)

Ned Beatty‘s character “Otis” (no last name given) is like the opposite end of the henchman spectrum from the aforementioned Bob The Goon. While Bob is scary and badass and capable–Otis is bumbling, inept, and relatively harmless. He’s Lex Luthor’s sidekick in Richard Donner’s 1978 classic: Superman: The Movie–the “Model A” of superhero films. It’s not clear exactly why Luthor keeps Otis around (and indeed, he ends up ditching him in Superman II when he slows down Luthor’s escape from prison). His only “positive” trait would seem to be that he’s loyal to the point of idiocy. Personally, I think Lex liked having him around because he enjoys feeling smarter than people–and Otis was pretty much born to help improve the intellectual self esteem of others.

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7. Abraham Whistler (Blade)

The half-vampire vampire hunter Blade’s mentor–in his 1998 film incarnation–Abraham Whistler is supposedly VERY vaguely based on Blade’s comic mentor, Jamal Afari….with a few slight differences: Like, Afari was a black Jazz trumpeter, and Whistler is a grizzled old white dude played by a Country singer (Kris Kristofferson).

Whistler is the stereotypical “Jedi Master-ish” father figure character, and Kristofferson plays him well

 

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6. Loony Bin Jim (Punisher: War Zone)

Doug Hutchinson of The Green Mile’ as Loony Bin Jim: The psychopathic brother of Punisher: War Zone antagonist Jigsaw, was one of the highlights of this….”not for everyone” 2008 adaptation of the popular Marvel Comics vigilante. Hutchinson steals every scene he’s in–his performance is disturbing, repulsive, and damn fun to watch!

 

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5. Dr. Erik Selvig (Thor)

Physicist Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) first appears in Kenneth Branagh’s excellent 2011 Thor adaptation as a mentor to Jane Foster–assissting her in her wormhole research when Thor arrives on Earth. His purpose is basically to provide exposition, since–as a Swede–he was raised with the stories of the Norse Gods, and recognizes Thor and his description of Asgard and its inhabitants as the source of such legends. Next time we see him is in The Avengers, where S.H.I.E.L.D. has him working on the Tesseract. He becomes one of Loki’s “Personal Flying Monkeys”, until the end when he snaps out of it, and saves the day by explaining how to close the portal the Chitauri are using.

He’s expected to show up again quite soon in Thor: The Dark World.

 

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4. Lionel Luthor (Smallville)

Smallville added quite a number of original characters to the Superman mythos from 2001 to 2011, but few were as memorable, or had a larger impact, than Lex Luthor’s dear old dad: Lionel.

Played superbly by the vastly underrated John Glover, Lionel was not the first father the character of Lex Luthor had been given–there had been several over the years appearing in different origin stories for Lex. But Lionel was the first that became a three-dimensional, recurring character anywhere. Founder of Luthorcorp, Lionel was a strict and draconian authority figure–constantly testing his son for weakness, and showing him precious little affection…The implication seems to be that Lionel’s style of parenting is at least partially responsible for why Lex became the supervillain we all know and love. Even when his character was “reformed” near the end, and he tried to make amends with his son, it proved too late–the damage had been done.

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3. Max Shreck (Batman Returns)

Named for German silent film star Max Schreck, Christopher Walken‘s  Shreck is one of the greatest non-canon Batman villains in the history of the character.

Appearing in Tim Burton’s second Batman film, 1992’s atmospheric and Gothic Batman Returns, Max Shreck plays a role that has become quite popular in superhero cinema: The unscrupulous, wealthy businessman who bankrolls the TRUE villain, usually while being oblivious to his actual intentions.

The character is striking, stylized, and brilliantly portrayed.

 

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2. Harley Quinn (Batman: The Animated Series)

No, I didn’t realize either that Harley is not originally a Batman comic character. It wasn’t until I compiled this list and she was suggested to me that I found out (special thanks to Nerd Bastards’ own Jeremy R. Hudson for the info).

Harley first appeared in Batman: The Animated Series (considered by many to be THE best animated iteration of Bats) in 1992. She’s the Joker’s girlfriend/moll/emotionally abused squeeze toy. The acclaimed 1994 graphic novel Mad Love detailed her origin as a young psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum named Dr. Harleen Quinzel. A clinical fascination with the Joker’s case becomes a romantic obsession, leading to Dr. Quinzel breaking Joker out of Arkham, going bugshit insane, and adopting the persona of Harley Quinn, Joker’s partner in crime and love (in her mind, anyway).

Harley has become one of the most popular Batman villains–and probably the second most popular female Batman villain, beating out Poison Ivy, and coming in second only to Catwoman. She’s a cosplay fixture, and interpretations of her outfit abound at conventions. Her voice was most famously provided by Arleen Sorkin, and she was played in live-action on the short-lived Birds of Prey series by Ferris Bueller’s Day Off co-star Mia Sara.

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1. Agent Phil Coulson (Iron Man, The Avengers, etc.)

Is there ANYONE else it could possibly be?

THIS non-canon, cinematic creation was so popular with the fans they actually brought him back from the dead to star in his own TV series!

Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) first appeared in 2008’s Iron Man, and would go on to appear in every “Marvel Phase One” film except The Incredible Hulk. He’s become the face of the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics  Division. His “death” made The Avengers get their shit together and defeat Loki, and he’s rising from the dead to star in the soon-to-air Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. tv series.

Gregg’s performance is a masterpiece of understated badassery, and his Coulson is, quite simply, impossible not to love.

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After years of disappointment, Star Wars fans everywhere must have asked themselves at one time or another, “Exactly how much did George Lucas screw up?  Is it possible that even the first film wasn’t what it could have been?”  Well, maybe not, but we’re going to get the answer to that question regardless.  For Dark Horse Comics is about to release its adaptation of the original Star Wars screenplay.

This eight-issue series will take the script pre-Lucas’ rewrite and put it into the comic medium.  All sorts of interesting changes have been made, albeit most seem superficial.  There’s a not-half-machine Darth Vader, an alien Han Solo and an older and wiser Luke Skywalker.

Sound interesting?  Check out the trailer below for a look at some of what to expect:

And here’s a look at one page of the comic’s artwork:

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Fans can grab up the first issue of the new (old?) Star Wars come September 4th.

 

Thanks to /Film for the heads-up.

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R.I.P.D. (Rest In Peace Department), the film adaptation of Dark Horse Comics series, opens in theaters today and the critics are unsurprisingly unimpressed. It stars Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges and according to the reviews… it absolutely sucks. Like, the kind of sucking that actually sucks so much, it sucks.

It’s not unexpected, honestly. Although apparently the original comics have some sort of merit to them, the bits that we’ve seen of the film before its release were already doused in suckage. Whether this is due to the fact that Ryan Reynolds is the kiss of death for any comic book movie, although for some reason he keeps being cast in them, or because the writing just genuinely sucks… I suppose it really doesn’t matter. It just sucks.

Hit the jump to see the critics go to town.

Just Not Good, says Hollywood Reporter:
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