10 Knock-Off Superheroes That Took on Amazing Lives of Their Own (Besides Watchmen)

Thursday, May 14, 2015 at 6:30 am

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From time to time, articles come up about fictional characters who are clearly derived from other characters. In the realm of super heroic comics, that "time to time" is increased exponentially. One of the currently best known "bet you didn't know that" bits floating around is that Alan Moore's landmark miniseries Watchmen is based off of a set of characters that DC Comics bought from Charlton Comics two years before they went out of business. Alan Moore was going to do a dark story that would have ended things in a place with nowhere left to go for the characters, but DC still wanted to use them later so they asked Moore to come up with a new set of characters and he based them pretty close to what he'd started with. Then Watchmen became one of the biggest comics of the '80s and changed everything, etc.

While it's easy to throw hate at the feet of writers and artists who create characters so similar to what's already around, a closer look can yield some examples that bear interesting results. When creators play around with the building blocks of what makes a character cool and interesting and add in some pieces of their own, a story can emerge that is both an intriguing exploration of the original character and a compelling tale in and of itself. Let's take a look at the very best of the best.

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7 Things We Learned About Teenage Lois Lane From the New YA Novel Fallout

Wednesday, May 13, 2015 at 5:00 am

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Go figure - this past weekend, I actually read a book. It was free, and it was for work, but it counts. See, ever since I first heard about this "Lois Lane as Young Adult fiction heroine" pitch, I was intrigued. Would it be terrible? Would it shoehorn in younger versions of other characters just to be hip?

Well, I won't say it's any masterpiece, but Gwenda Bond's book is an easy, breezy read even if the pacing's off. The climax happens super-fast relative to the buildup, and some of the character quirks - one girl makes her own fake band T-shirts, a different one every day, which would be pretty costly to do right - feel a bit strange, and more like adult perceptions than actual young-person stuff. But mostly it's an okay read, if you're willing to accept that the canon gets rewritten for a modern teen.

How so? Glad you asked, imaginary questioner...

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10 Things Cosplayers Can Learn from RuPaul's Drag Race

Tuesday, May 12, 2015 at 5:00 am

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No, this isn't about how to dance in ten-inch heels under boiling stage lights, or how to contour your face sharply enough to cut glass. Drag and cosplay can learn a lot from each other: both are bombastic, skill- and performance-based art forms, and involve twirling across a stage lip-synching to pop hits while trying to pretend you're comfortable in a metal corset that may or may not have just punctured a vital organ.

There's no bigger name in drag than Mother Ru herself, and by her grace, we were presented with a smash hit reality show chronicling the trials and tribulations of queens battling it out for America's crown. Just as she shares her wisdom with the show's superstar hopefuls, cosplayers can take a note or three from the show's example.

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10 Ways To Fix Gotham For Season 2

Monday, May 11, 2015 at 5:00 am

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On Monday, the inaugural season of Gotham finally came to a close. Everybody who sat and snarked through it can raise a glass to this accomplishment. Everybody who tapped out early ... well I can't really blame you. Gotham was the least necessary comic book TV show in a crowded field because it's the epitome of prequelitis. It has a solid cast (Robin Lord Taylor, Donal Logue, and Camren Bicondova are its MVPs) but the quality of its episodes yo-yos from scene to scene. It's definitely not the complete trainwreck that many suspected it would end up, although that's still damning with faint praise. Whether it's the TV program we need or deserve, Gotham has already been renewed for season 2 because anything Batman-related is a license to print money (except Beware The Batman).

The upside to this is that the showrunners can look back at the entire first season and fix what didn't work. SPOILER ALERT! There was a Batcave full of stuff that didn't really work in Gotham. Nevertheless, Gotham still had enough charm that it's worth salvaging. While I enjoy schadenfreude as much as the next misanthrope, here are ten constructive suggestions for how to knock season two of Gotham out of the park (because balls get knocked out of parks with bats. Do you get it? DO YOU GET IT?).


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10 Things Old People Nerd Out About That You Should Get Into

Friday, May 8, 2015 at 7:00 am

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When it comes to nerdy stuff, the list of acceptable passion objects is short and easily summarized under at least one of the following banners: genre fiction, fantasy, video games, new technology, comic books, role-playing games, and nostalgia. Anything beyond those specific genres and forms, and you're pretty much out of nerd culture altogether.

There is a great irony to nerd culture that we, its denizens and practitioners, rarely bother to acknowledge. While nerdy stuff is usually about imagination and openness and accepting outsiders into private cult-like clubs, the volume of nerd stuff - despite how massive it has become - is actually only a small portion of culture at large. Nerdery is an ethos that trumpets equality and inclusion, but is actually incredibly exclusive, and arguably age-specific, when it comes to what should be considered "nerd."


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The 19 Nerdiest Submarine Adventures

Thursday, May 7, 2015 at 6:00 am

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Among nerdy modes of transportation, submarines may be underrated. I suppose that the spaceship - or maybe the TARDIS - is the ultimate dream vehicle for nerds, but the submarine would still be high on the list, and it has, abetted by comic book advertising, a sense of plausible attainability the others do not.

So with Black Sea, Kevin Macdonald's heavy-handed but agreeably tense submarine thriller, out on Blu-ray this week, here are a few of the many submarine adventures with nerd appeal. I've focused only on vehicles, by the way, not undersea stations, even though it meant skipping such favorites as Destination Inner Space and DeepStar Six...

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6 Nerdy Cool Things We Saw at the Tribeca Film Festival

Tuesday, May 5, 2015 at 5:00 am

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Founded in 2002 because Robert De Niro hated flying to France (Editor's note: That is not even remotely close to true - it was founded in response to the expanding film and TV presence in NYC and as a post-9/11 jolt to the lower Manhattan economy, but good try), the Tribeca Film Festival almost immediately became one of the premier festivals in the world. This year alone, the festival saw nearly 500,000 people attending one of its almost 500 events in downtown Manhattan - mind boggling numbers even for the largest city in the country. In addition to its size, TFF is also a great place for genre films, a nurturing home to some pretty obscure, nerdy stuff. Here are 6 of the coolest things we saw there.

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10 Secrets From the Cast & Crew of the '80s Rambo Cartoon

Monday, May 4, 2015 at 6:00 am

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"His name was Rambo, and he was just some nothing kid for all anybody knew..."

So begins David Morrell's harrowing novel First Blood, which I read in one white-knuckle sitting more than three decades ago. Back then, a film adaptation was still a ways off, but the cinematic quality of the writing made a movie version inevitable. The idea that such a brutal book could inspire a children's cartoon, however, was completely absurd. Which makes the 1986 animated series Rambo: The Force of Freedom one of the most unlikely kids shows ever broadcast. Since this month marks the 30th anniversary of the blockbuster movie Rambo: First Blood Part II, I spoke with the cartoon's cast and crew, including Rambo voice actor Neil Ross, head writer/story editor Mike Chain and writer/assistant story editor Jack Bornoff, about the challenges and rewards of bringing Morrell's iconic character to the small screen.

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27 Hours of Marvel: Surviving 11 Comic Book Films in One Sitting

Friday, May 1, 2015 at 5:00 am

[NOTE: This is NOT a spoiler thread for Age of Ultron. That will come later today.]

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People are always trying to push the boundaries of nerddom. Whether you're going for a gaming marathon, binge watching Daredevil on Netflix, or trying to collect every single Pokemon, there's a group of fans can who, no matter what their love is, they want to be the very best. Hollywood certainly hasn't been opposed to relishing in the attention of nerds and geeks the world around. It's not unusual to see film screening turn extreme.

Other nerd culture websites have put on screenings a day in length, but as impressive as these butt-numbing events are, they still pale in comparison to the epic marathon that Disney, Marvel, AMC, and Regal cinemas have put forth for comic book fans, a marathon that I, as of this writing, am about to embark on. That's right true believers, I, Jason Helton, am attending the Ultimate Marvel Movie Marathon. The challenge: 11 films, 27 hours, one sitting. Every single film in the non-Sony Marvel universe, from Iron Man, all the way to Avengers: Age of Ultron.

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TR's Top 9 Anime of Spring 2015

Thursday, April 30, 2015 at 5:00 am

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Spring 2015 in anime-land hasn't quite been the blockbuster season we got over the winter, a season characterized by fun adventure fare like Maria the Virgin Witch, wrap-ups to favorites like Aldnoah.Zero and Shirobako, and the occasional awesome surprise package, like Death Parade. Fare on the same level as these shows wasn't immediately obvious at first, but you know what? The great thing about anime is that there's just so much of it; no matter what, the hits keep on coming. Also anime loves you, and anime won't judge you. With that in mind, I'm going to go ahead and judge anime, and point to some of the best new and continuing shows we've got for spring 2015. This season's not a grand slam, which is why I can't really recommend a nice, round ten, but I made it to nine without any trouble. Let's have a look!


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