Venom-Verse Ramps Up This Week!

EDGE of VENOM-VERSE starts here!

It began as a series of variant covers and grew from there. Marvel released twenty-six Venom inspired variant covers in March of this year. Maybe the success of the initiative surprised them. Somebody over in the offices there thought, “Hey, fans really like these covers, is there a world with all of these Venomized characters we can play with?” Or maybe they had this idea in their head all along and were waiting for the fans response. Either way, Marvel has another event coming to us this summer and Edge of Venom-Verse #1 from Matthew Rosenberg and Roland Boschi is the beginning of the runway.

The Edge of Venom-Verse will be similar to the Edge of Spider-Verse series a couple years back (because anything Spidey can do, Venom can do better!). Each one-shot will showcase another character in a slightly altered reality that is attached to everyone’s favorite alien symbiote. For the House of Ideas’ first trick, X-23!

The story begins familiar enough. A young female clone of Wolverine is being cryogenically cooked up and is designated X-23. However, when she ends up crossing paths with a strange alien symbiote during her escape from The Facility, she makes a bond of a kind she didn’t bargain for. Now, with the symbiote influencing her every thought and driving her to madness will she be able to fight it or will they become Venom? It might be a dull story if she doesn’t but you never know. There might be a curveball thrown in.

Let’s all be honest, we really just want to see X-23 pop some claws looking like she’s going to bite some crook in half. Part of the appeal of Venom is, besides looking super cool, it unleashes your inner rage. No filters pop up anywhere. An X-23 with a symbiote assisted berserker rage? Yes, please.

 

Post to Twitter

Crosswind #1 Takes Deadly Twists And Turns

Crosswind #1 is the Freaky Friday from Hell.

Fan-favorite creators Gail Simone and Cat Staggs are bringing you a new creator-owned series from Image Comics. It’s a deadly body swapping story involving a Chicago hitman and a Seatlle housewife. It sounds like an eighties sitcom put through the Cinemax lens (you never watched Banshee or Strike Back? Get to it!). There’re some high hopes that this will be a mind-bending hit from the home of the most critically acclaimed creators looking for some more editorial control over their content. For fans of sci-fi crime and mistaken identity stories that Hitchcock would have salivated over, this might be the new read you didn’t know you were missing.

The kind of story Crosswind is offering hinges on execution. In general, the best chance we have of figuring out if the execution will be excellent are the preview pages and the creators. It’s no secret that there are about five hundred comics that come out every month. That’s a lot of paper competing for the credits in your wallet. There has to be something to entice you that this series above a lot of others is going to be worth what you’ve worked hard for and will be a treat for that effort.

Gail Simone last hit us with Clean Room. It was a rather dark turn from a writer known for giving levity in even the most dire circumstances her characters go through. It was a critical home run for Vertigo, a publisher that was in need of a few of those at the time. Cat Staggs has been a cover hitmaker for a few years and has been growing more confident in her interior work. Her covers for the Wonder Woman ’77 story made Lynda Carter fans squeal and her Orphan Black work was the best part of the series. She’s been a highlight for every project she’s touched thus far. There’s a real chance of a new dynamic duo on the creator-owned scene.

Crosswind has a familiar hook, two intriguing respected creators, and the fact that they’re about to unleash their vision as they see fit on our shelves. Could be a fun ride filled with a lot of barrel rolls.

 

Post to Twitter

Val’s Toy Chest- New Hot Toys and Funko

The Guardians of the Galaxy came back to theatres this year and Hot Toys has finally released the last member of the original film team with the recently arrived figure of Drax the Destroyer based on the character as played by Dave Bautista.  Drax features interchangeable hands, a character base, a completely different pair of pants as well as two knives. Drax features the usual Hot Toys articulation scheme and should be a nice addition to your Guardians collection as we eagerly await figures from the 2nd film.

Speaking of characters on the horizon- Hot Toys recently showed off their forthcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming figure featuring the character in his more traditional looking outfit. The figure features an interchangeable head sculpt with Tom Holland’s likeness as well as different accessories including some awesome extras in the deluxe version. Spidey won’t arrive til sometime next year, but I think he will be a huge hit, considering how well-received the character was in Civil War. We should be getting both the basic version as well as the deluxe version of this sure-to-be popular piece.

Batman ’66 has been in the public consciousness again with the passing of Adam West- which makes the release of Funko’s new 4″ line of figures from the classic series all the more bittersweet. A couple of characters appear in this line that did not appear in the Mattel 6″ line including King Tut, Mr Freeze and Bookworm. The variant version of Mr Freeze features the likeness of actor Eli Wallach who hasn’t been made as a figure in any of the lines including the 8″ Figures Toy Company Mego line. Rounding out the line are Batgirl, Batman(with a variant based on Adam West’s original screen test outfit) and Julie Newmar’s Catwoman. There is also a Batmobile with Batman and Robin figures included that we are currently out of. On a related note, Diamond Select’s line of Batman 66 busts continues with the addition of that princess of plunder, the purrfidious Catwoman to the series. But wait, you might say- wasn’t there a Catwoman bust already based on Julie Newmar’s likeness? Yes indeed there was- this latest one is the Season 3 Eartha Kitt version featuring a similar body sculpt to the Newmar with a brand new head sculpt featuring the likeness of the sultry songstress from her stint on Batman. I think the Eartha will be a hit personally.

Back to more modern superhero series, after a quick sellout on her day of release, we have received more stock on the Melissa Benoist Supergirl statue. Standing atop a base featuring her logo, this Supergirl statue will make a fine addition to your Supergirl or superhero collection.

On the Marvel TV side of things- Hasbro has revealed their Netflix line of Marvel Legends figures. A couple of characters hail from the comics as well including the cool Build-A- Figure for the wave. The lineup consists of Daredevil, Punisher and Elektra from Netflix’s Daredevil series featuring the likenesses of actors Charlie Cox, Jon Bernthal and Elodie Yung, respectively, Krysten Ritter’s Jessica Jones from her eponymous Netflix series as well as Blade and Bullseye in more traditional comic book attire. The build-a-figure: Man-Thing! An improvement on the Toy Biz figure, I know several people who are chomping at the bit for this particular character. This one should be a fun wave to collect.

Anyway that’s all for me this week- see you next time!

Post to Twitter

Spider-Man’s Spectacular New Series

Spider-Man gets back to basics!

Over the last couple of years Peter Parker has undergone a makeover of sorts. He hasn’t been the only Spider-Man web slinging around the city. He’s also now the head of a global company called Parker Industries. It’s a little different from the bullied nerd in science class or the photographer scraping together enough to make ends meet. Peter Parker, in a lot of ways, has had a lot of luck going for him once he got his mind and body back as his own. Indeed, the Superior Spider-Man did a lot for Pete and he’s been reaping the benefits of it ever since. This hasn’t been your traditional friendly neighborhood wallcrawler.

Now, from the mind that brought you the recent Howard The Duck romp comes a back to basics approach to ol’ webhead. Chip Zdarsky and Adam Kubert are a dream team. They’re here to show you that Peter Parker’s as much of a lovable loser as he always was. Even if he’s winning on paper with a high-rise in Manhattan, that doesn’t mean he’s not got the soul of the Spider-Man we all grew up with. Now, this isn’t going to replace the main Amazing ongoing series. Instead, think of Spectacular as a sister series.

Finally, Peter will be back patrolling the neighborhood, grabbing a bite with Johnny Storm, maybe a classic team-up, and dealing with complex romantic debacles. There’ll be old fan favorite foes and some new ones who’ll be looking to build a place amongst the classics. And it’s Chip Zdarsky, so, you know, banter will abound. We gotta have a snarky Spidey!

If you’ve longing for a slightly more familiar status quo for Peter Parker, here’s your new favorite of the three ongoing series with the title, well, you know, in them. As much as things change, some things will always stay the same. Oh, and get your copy signed in-store by the creators tomorrow!

Post to Twitter

Batman Rebirth 25

Batman #25 Oversized With Old Favorite Foes

Batman‘s greatest failure is on display in this super-sized milestone, Batman #25.

DC Rebirth‘s primary series about the Dark Knight, scribed by Tom King, has been mostly on a steady incline in quality. We’ve had touches of a lot of great villains throughout the run bringing in heavy favorites with the likes of Catwoman, Bane, and Scarface. Now though, the series is ready to touch on a couple cornerstones of Batman’s rogues gallery with the new arc, “The War of Jokes and Riddles.” The title should give you a couple of the unsubtle hints as to who we expect will be the Big Bads of this latest story in Batman’s seventy-six year history. However, what we’re being promised isn’t just the next Joker or Riddler scheme, the creators are going to take us back and explore one of Batman’s worst moments in his career.

Last issue featured the a major development in the life of both Bruce Wayne and his vigilante name. Will this prove to be the perfect time to go down a trip of memory lane? What is causing the Caped Crusader to hit the pause button on moving forward? What will he hope to learn and what lessons will we want to take from revisiting this part of his past?

In his own voice, Batman will be narrating this, at least first, chapter of a story meant to invoke classics like Year One and The Long Halloween. If we are indeed going back to the more formative years of Batman’s time as the protector of Gotham then that should well be cause of celebration. While it hopefully won’t be as dense on a month to month basis as Zero Year was, it will be interesting to see what new aspects of Batman’s early days that DC Comics will allow King to expose. One thing’s for sure, if it’s as good as we hope this issue will be then the bi-monthly shipping schedule will definitely make the wait bearable for the next chapter.

Post to Twitter

Chip Zdarsky and Adam Kubert Spectacular Spider-Man Launch Signing at Forbidden Planet NYC

Head to Forbidden Planet NYC on Wednesday June 21st when our signing guests will be Chip Zdarsky (Sex Criminals, Howard the Duck) and Adam Kubert (Superman: Last Son, Avengers vs X-Men) to celebrate the release of their new comic Peter Parker Spectacular Spider-Man #1!

Fans are also welcome to bring up three items from their personal collection in addition to any books purchased from Forbidden Planet NYC on the day of our event. There will also be representatives of the CGC on hand if collectors wish to have comics processed through them.

The festivities kick off at 6:00pm. Hope to see you here!

Post to Twitter

Graphic Spotlight – Motor Crush Vol. 1

Her name is Domino Swift and you’re going to want to hang on for the ride.

Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, and Babs Tarr were a beloved terrific trio on their popular run of Batgirl. When the Rebirth era of DC Comics was announced and creative teams were being rolled out, these three were noticeably absent. Many readers were wondering where they were going and why did they leave? Turns out, they went to the land of Image Comics, where creators go to unleash their imaginations. What came out of them? Domino Swift and the extreme vivid world of Motor Crush!

Domino Swift’s story is one of badass battles. Except her battles are ones of extreme sports, painful secrets, and addiction. She’s addicted to a new drug known as Crush. She’s addicted to winning. She’s addicted to the possibility of losing and all that entails. She’s battling demons oftentimes can be beaten, you can only do your best to stay ahead of.

Motor Crush is sci-fi action adventure in a world built on adrenaline and filled with characters who are racing against for themselves, each other and who see life is a race that can either never be won or has to be won. The trophy? The finish line? The fame and fortune? Come find out what it all really means.

Oftentimes after working on major properties, creators are looking for an outlet to bring out stories they can’t tell for anyone else but themselves. Image has proven to be the home for creator-owned work. Fletcher, Stewart, and Tarr came to the land of the creator-owned with a world that felt like was revving to get out of them. A lot of the praise from critics and readers alike have gone to the artist. Babs Tarr is the star of the book, as she tackles some of the most daunting challenges in the comic book medium and makes it look effortless but elegant. Her style is now very often imitated but she’s been in rare form on this series.

If you’re looking for a vibrant, violent, and vigorous turbo boost to your reading pile then pick up Motor Crush.

Post to Twitter

The Dark Universe Is Built In Dark Days: The Forge #1

The Path To DC’s Biggest Event of 2017 Begins in Dark Days: The Forge #1.

The Dark Multiverse begins here! No, not the Dark Universe that few people in North America went to see this past weekend in The Mummy (much love to Tom Cruise and Sophia Boutella), we’re talking about the one that’s being charted by Scott Snyder. Along with his trusty protege, James Tynion IV, Dark Days: The Forge #1 is our first step towards exploring new corners of the multiverse that no one’s ever touched on before. Personally, I’m a big fan of the multiverse. I’ve always loved the Esleworld stories and when it was established that they could technically all coexist simultaneously, I was onboard. The multiverse has been one of the greatest assets to DC Comics in its existence and now we get to see Snyder and Tynion flex their muscles by blowing our minds with new takes on the pantheon of DC heroes.

We’ve been told it’ll begin with Aquaman, The Flash, and other heroes suspecting that Batman’s hiding a dark secret that could put the entire multiverse at risk. Now, Bats does keep secrets from his fellow heroes. This is well-trodden territory. But the scope is intriguing. Does this have something to dow with the story of the three Jokers we’ve been teased since the Darkseid War? Which legendary DC hero’s origin is going to get blown up as we know it? The possibilities might just be limitless!

Plus, can we look at the all-star list of artist? Jim Lee, Andy Kubert, and John Romita Jr. are all onboard this issue. That’s a heck of a line-up. When you think of blockbuster universe altering and expanding stories, those three creators might come to mind as talents that can handle the pressure to deliver something epic.

There’s no doubt this is going to be a massive story but it also has been promising to be a lot of fun. Time to get the multiversal party started this week.

Post to Twitter

Val’s Toy Chest- Adam West 1928-2017

The 1960s Batman TV Series has always held a special place in my heart- ever since I started watching the brief reruns on WNYW/Channel 5 during the 1984-85 season as well as during the summer of Batmania in 1989 on WPIX 11. I had a hard time when Yvonne Craig died back in 2015 as her Batgirl remains one of my favorite live-action super hero characters to this day. As you have no doubt heard- Adam West died this past weekend- I never got to meet the man, but I always had fun with his take on the Caped Crusader. That being said, I was definitely attached to his version of the Caped Crusader possibly more than any other live-action interpretation to date. (Michael Keaton is a close 2nd as I still love the two Tim Burton films to this day.) Adam played Batman relatively straight compared to the actors who played his over-the-top villainous counterparts like Burgess Meredith or Cesar Romero, though West had his fair share of zany too- such as the show defining Bat-Tusi dance from the very first episode of the series.

Comic book fans haven’t always been kind to the 1960s series over the years, but thanks to Adam West, Batman permeated pop culture- he was everywhere in the 1960s- from lunchboxes to trading cards, different toys and more. Most people of that generation will likely tell you that they got into Batman because of Adam West and the ABC show. It may have been tarnished somewhat when DC decided to return Batman to his gritty roots in the 70s, but campy, humorous Batman has a place in DC’s history books as well. West’s portrayal definitely brought a different dimension to the historically dark character and fans ate that up- even down to this day with new merchandise still being released for the show.

Everyone has their heroes- I was at a convention with a friend this weekend, where he got to meet one of his personal childhood heroes. That was where I found out about Adam West’s passing.  I didn’t want to believe it, especially as he was scheduled to appear at a convention in August- but somehow I knew it was true.  I don’t think the weight of it has settled in yet-  I will say this much though- the Adam West/Burt Ward series definitely shaped my perceptions of what Batman should be as well as which other characters I expect to see in a good Batman adaptation- this includes The Joker. Catwoman, The Penguin and the Riddler as well as Barbara Gordon’s version of Batgirl. All of these characters were made important due to the success of the TV show and DC used them as definitive Batman villains and allies going forward from 1968 to the present. Adam’s Batman, as well as Burt Ward’s Robin and of course Yvonne Craig’s Batgirl, were just a few of my childhood heroes- there’s definitely others, but this particular trio was always special to me and it is a reminder of one’s mortality when your heroes start dying.

For many, Adam West will forever be remembered as Batman, younger generations will know him as Mayor West from Family Guy. Some may even recall his work with Batman: The Animated Series as the Grey Ghost, Bruce Wayne’s childhood idol.  No matter what role, Adam West has earned the right to be considered a legend due to his part in the nearly 80 year legacy of Batman. Whether he was playing the suave debonair millionaire or the strait-laced boy scout of a crimefighter, Adam West will always be a part of my childhood and I will keep his Batman interpretation close to my heart. Thanks for the memories, Adam- rest in peace.

Post to Twitter

Marvel’s Netflix Heroes Unite In The Defenders #1

The streets of the Marvel Universe have never been safer…right?

So, nobody is surprised that this book is here, right? I mean, we all know that coming later this summer is the next Marvel Netflix TV series called The Defenders. So, of course the House of Ideas is going to release a comic book with the same title and line-up as the show. It’s just good marketing. If you’re psyched for the upcoming small screen offerings then don’t you want to get a sneak peek months early? Thus, Defenders #1 coming out this week on shelves.

Hey, that’s not a knock against Marvel. Putting Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones is not a bad (or new) idea. This is a street level team of heroes who are going to, well, defend the streets against a threat from their pasts who has become something greater than they can presumably beat up on their own. Can this team of TV stars/ex (current) Avengers find a way to coexist in this latest status quo shift at Marvel? It’s been an interesting time for all of these characters in their own solo series, it’s could be a lot of fun to see how they do, or don’t, mix when forced to suit up side by side at this moment in their journeys.

Plus, check out the big name on the credits (couldn’t quite get my “Pulp Fiction” reference to work but I tried!). Brian Michael Bendis has a long history with the majority of these characters. He took the ball from Kevin Smith and ran circles around him with one of the greatest runs of Daredevil EVER. Bendis also created Jessica Jones in Alias and is the current scribe on her self-titled series. He also brought Luke Cage to the forefront through Alias and his seminal New Avengers run. The only one I’m not sure he’s written much for is really Iron Fist, aside from supporting appearances in the aforementioned books that y’all need to read if you haven’t read.

This has mass market appeal written all over it. The juiciness is to see what kind of writing’s inside it or if, like another recently repurposed team moniker (Black Panther & The Crew), the writing will soon be on the wall.

Post to Twitter

Graphic Spotlight – Justice League Of America: The Road To Rebirth

Say hello to the NEW Justice League of America!

Arguably the best part of the new Justice League of America series actually came before the book even had its first issue hit our shelves. Upon announcing the roster of the new team there were a lot of questions as to how the dynamic would work and it had promised to bring on characters that hadn’t been seen either much or at all since the New 52 continuity of DC Comics began back in the late summer of 2011. I mean, The Ray? Ryan Choi as The Atom had been teased in DC Universe: Rebirth #1 last year but hadn’t been seen or mentioned since. Vixen had been pretty much MIA and outside of a villain month one-shot, Killer Frost hadn’t been in the spotlight either. How were these characters going to get fleshed out and, more importantly, how the frack do they end up representing one of the most important teams in the DC Universe?

Now you can find out in Justice League of America: The Road To Rebirth, a collection featuring the one-shots spotlighting these very different metahumans as they’re about to be recruited for a higher purpose. DC touted this grouping as “the most diverse Justice League of America” and writer Steve Orlando has been the scribe to bring all of these combative personalities together. There’re plenty of highlights in this collection, particularly, in this reader’s opinion, the chapters on Ryan Choi becoming The Atom and The Ray’s fantastic backstory. Plus, see how Batman builds his new team with the JLA’s official Rebirth one-shot tying everything together. Sometimes, the journey’s really worth it and this is one such case.

Collects Justice League Of America: Rebirth #1, Justice League Of America: Killer Frost #1, Justice League Of America: The Ray #1, Justice League Of America: The Atom #1 and Justice League Of America: Vixen #1

Post to Twitter

Val’s Toy Chest- Summer Blockbusters

Did you all see Wonder Woman last weekend? I LOVED IT! I definitely want to go for a repeat viewing ASAP. As anticipated, Wonder Woman items have seen an upswing since the movie’s release and I am thrilled that one of my favorite heroines is finally in her own feature film and has a merchandising extravaganza behind it. Speaking of summer films, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was another hugely anticipated flick and there’s been a good amount of items related to the movie already released.

That being said, there are several items in stock for Wonder Woman already and we should be getting series 2 of the Guardians Marvel Legends in this week.  To refresh your memory of this wave: the Build-A-Figure is Mantis, who featured in the recent sequel, along with single carded figures of Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket and Nebula as seen on the silver screen, comic versions of Ex Nihilo, Death’s Head II and Adam Warlock make up the rest of the series. I predict that these Legends won’t be on our shelves very long, much like any of the recent Marvel Legends releases. Also coming in within the next few weeks will be the Hot Toys Drax figure from the 2015 film to complete your original Guardians team.

Lots of new Funko POP figures dropped at the end of last week including figures from Bojack Horseman, Rugrats, AAAHH Real Monsters, Mr Robot and Batman 66. The new Batman 66 POPs include Batgirl, The Riddler, The Penguin, Mr Freeze and King Tut.  I think this may be my favorite wave of DC Pops yet, with Batgirl’s shimmery purple, King Tut’s intricate Egyptian outfit as well as the Riddler and Penguin’s classic designs.   Funko needs to bring on the new 4″ figure line as well as I cannot wait to see how those turned out. The beautiful Entertainment Earth Diana Prince POP also released featuring Wonder Woman as she appeared during one of the more humorous scenes in the film.

Briefly:

A new DC Collectibles statue of Melissa Benoist’s Supergirl will hit our shelves this week and if the recent DCTV action figure is indicative of how the sculpt will look, this is going to be one beautiful piece.

Hot Toys has announced their first figure from the Wonder Woman movie and it will be Diana in her Amazonian Training outfit. The Gal Gadot likeness on this one is pretty breathtaking and this one is going to be hard to resist when she releases next year. The long-delayed Batman V Superman version should be releasing soon as a redone sculpt has surfaced and rumors of her shipping soon have started to circulate. I’d expect her sometime in July-August if current estimates are correct.

Speaking of Wonder Woman, Mezco has opened pre-orders on their Wonder Woman One:12 figure. The One:12 line has been wildly popular and this one is scheduled to drop around the end of the year. Based on the recent movie version of Diana, this will be just the second female figure thus far announced in the Mezco line.

I am headed to a convention in Connecticut this weekend and will likely have a report for you in next week’s column. Catch you then!

Post to Twitter

A Taste of The Epic Untold Saga of Frankenstein The True Story

The Epic Untold Saga Behind
FRANKENSTEIN: THE TRUE STORY (1973)
Explodes in the Special New Issue of
LITTLE SHOPPE OF HORRORS #38

by Sam Irvin

I’ve been a fan of Frankenstein: The True Story ever since it was first broadcast on NBC-TV in two parts in 1973. First of all, the cast was incredible: James Mason, Leonard Whiting, Michael Sarrazin, David McCallum, Jane Seymour, Nicola Pagett, Agnes Moorehead, Sir Ralph Richardson, Sir John Gielgud and Tom Baker! The scope of the movie was epic – and I later learned it had the highest budget of any made-for-television movie AND the highest budget of any horror film up to that time.

When Richard Klemensen, editor and publisher of Little Shoppe of Horrors, offered me the opportunity to spearhead an issue of the magazine devoted entirely to Frankenstein: The True Story, I couldn’t resist the opportunity.

This movie inspired an entire generation of writers and directors, myself included. Immediately upon seeing the film, Anne Rice was directly inspired to write Interview with a Vampire – and she has contributed a foreword to the issue.

Mark Gatiss (Sherlock) is another fan who contributed an essay called “Queer Frankenstein” examining the gay subtext of the film – which was scripted by legendary gay couple Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy.

Guillermo del Toro wrote that the movie is “quirky, brilliant and moving.”

So why is this film so often forgotten? It is my mission to rectify that injustice and to present, for the very first time anywhere, a detailed analysis of the making of this groundbreaking milestone – with over twenty interviews of cast and crew, including Leonard Whiting, Jane Seymour, David McCallum and co-screenwriter Don Bachardy. Whether you are a fan or not, the adventure behind its creation is so astounding, it is an epic unto itself. Prepare to catch your jaw before it drops to the floor.

To give you just a taste of what I have uncovered during years of investigation, here is an excerpt to whet your appetite – a chapter entitled The Elsa Lanchester Crisis:

Hunt Stromberg Jr., producer of Frankenstein: The True Story, set his sights on collecting guest stars to play the various featured roles in the film. For the part of Mrs. Blair, the nosy landlady of Dr. Frankenstein – which Ingrid Bergman and Bette Davis had already turned down – Stromberg wanted a “Una O’Connor type,” referring to the quirky Irish character actress who played Minnie, the mettlesome and skittish housekeeper, in Bride of Frankenstein.

In 1942, when Universal released The Ghost of Frankenstein, critics noted that certain actors in the movie, such as Lionel Atwill and Dwight Frye, had portrayed different characters in earlier Frankenstein films, prompting the studio to issue a press release stating that it was “the custom of the studio” to bring back some of “the same faces in each succeeding feature of the Frankenstein series.”

Inspired by this hallowed tradition, Stromberg suddenly became obsessed with the idea of Mrs. Blair being portrayed by Elsa Lanchester, 70 – next-door-neighbor of Frankenstein: The True Story screenwriters Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy – who had so memorably played Mary Shelley and the female creature in Bride. Stromberg met Lanchester in early 1935 when he was just 11-years-old – when she was simultaneously shooting his father’s movie Naughty Marietta at MGM and Bride of Frankenstein at Universal – and, from then on, she’d remained a family friend. In the 1960s, when Stromberg was VP of Programming for CBS, he personally cast her as a guest star on a number of CBS shows – and, impishly, he made a habit of ending letters with this tongue-in-cheek wrap-up: “Must close now, as Elsa Lanchester has just arrived to show off her new wart.”

Though she occasionally grumbled about her fame as the Bride, in truth, Lanchester basked in the glory of her most famous role – and, in the autumn of her career, she did not shy away from spooky projects that played upon that image, including Blackbeard’s Ghost (1968), Willard (1971) and an episode of Night Gallery (1972). And she certainly had no problem adding those two familiar wavy white streaks to her frizzy mane when she guest-starred as a mad scientist on The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Brain-Killer Affair (1965) – a shameless sendup of her electrifying coiffure in Bride. That gig also introduced Lanchester to U.N.C.L.E. series regular David McCallum who would work with her again in Frankenstein: The True Story if Stromberg had his way.

Lanchester truly wanted to do it – but, alas, she was already committed to shoot two back-to-back, low-budget horror films in Hollywood at the very same time – Terror in the Wax Museum and Arnold for Bing Crosby Productions. Gnashing his teeth, Stromberg offered to buy out Lanchester’s contract but the producers held firm. Then, he turned to his associate producer Ian Lewis and said, “My father managed to work around Bride of Frankenstein in order to get Elsa into his movie. Why can’t we figure out a way to do the same?”

I remember ‘the Elsa Lanchester crisis’ very well,” recalled Ian Lewis. “Hunt damn near drove us crazy but, ultimately, she just couldn’t be reasonably scheduled.”

Heartbroken, Lanchester honored her contract and remained Stateside to perform in two of the most forgettable films on her resume. What’s even sadder is that, after finishing those films, she didn’t work again for two-and-a-half years (until her comeback in the all-star spoof Murder by Death).

For the role of Mrs. Blair, Stromberg finally landed Agnes Moorehead, 72, who had won an Emmy, two Golden Globes, and four Oscar nominations – not to mention her iconic role as Endora, Samantha’s witch of a mother, in Bewitched (1964-1972).

As luck would have it, Moorehead knew Una O’Connor quite well, having worked with the actress in RKO’s Government Girl (1943). So, Stromberg’s directive to play Mrs. Blair as “a Una O’Connor type” was taken to heart – resulting in Moorehead affecting a thick Irish accent and hamming it up for all it was worth.

This is just a tiny sliver of my 50,000-word exposé that is presented in Little Shoppe of Horrors #38. The making of Frankenstein: The True Story is jam-packed with surprises beyond your wildest imagination and reads like a Who’s Who, directly involving such luminaries as Marlon Brando, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Francis Ford Coppola, John Boorman, John Schlesinger, Jon Voight, Roman Polanski, Warren Beatty, Franco Zeffirelli, Olivia Hussey, Laurence Olivier, Frank Langella, Jacqueline Bisset, François Truffaut, Angela Lansbury, Boris Sagal, Barbra Streisand, Jon Peters, Mia Farrow, Sid Sheinberg, Lew Wasserman, Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Geoffrey Holder, Harry Saltzman, Peter Ustinov, James Bridges, Albert Finney, Rex Harrison, Simone Signoret, Julie Christie, Lindsay Anderson, Richard Chamberlain, Mervyn LeRoy, Alec Guinness, Oliver Reed, Vanessa Redgrave, Orson Welles, Peter Bogdanovich, Valerie Hobson, John Profumo, Robert Morley, Peter Yates, Candice Bergen, George Seaton, Alan Bates, Maurice Jarre, Anthony Perkins, Michel Legrand, Burt Lancaster, John Barry, Anthony Quinn, Richard Rodney Bennett, Tuesday Weld, Neil Diamond, Ernest Borgnine, Mae West and Queen Elizabeth. I kid you not.

To help us celebrate the completion of this issue, events are being scheduled as though this were a book. Well, it pretty much is!

To kick things off on the West Coast, Creature Features – Taylor White’s amazing store and gallery in Burbank, California – is hosting a retrospective discussion and exhibit (of FTTS memorabilia and all the original artwork in the magazine) on Sunday, June 18, 2:00-3:30 PM, with guest panelists James Duke Mason, Julian Barnes (supporting actor in the film), Denise Mellé (widow of the film’s composer Gil Mellé), artist Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series) and yours truly. Limited edition prints, signed and numbered, of the cover mural artwork by Mark Maddox will be on sale exclusively at the Creature Features store/gallery and website.

On the weekend of June 23-25, LSoH editor Dick Klemensen, cover artist Mark Maddox, interior artist Neil D. Vokes and I will be attending the Monster Bash Convention near Pittsburgh, PA, to meet, greet and drumbeat the issue.

Then, it’s on to Manhattan where Dread Central & Forbidden Planet are co-presenting a FREE screening and discussion of Frankenstein: The True Story at the Quad Cinema, 34 West 13th Street, New York, NY 10011, on Tuesday, June 27, 6:00-10:00 PM, hosted by legendary Tony Timpone (former editor of Fangoria). A unique 16mm print will be projected with everything from the original telecast, plus extra seconds of censored footage only seen in the foreign theatrical release. Guest panelists will include Alec Smight (son of the late Jack Smight, director of Frankenstein: The True Story), Philippe Spurrell (founder of Cinéclub/Film Society of Montreal; curator of this unique 16mm print), James Anthony Phillips (who wrote the sidebar on Gil Melle’s score for the issue) and, again, yours truly.

And, finally, on Thursday, June 29, from 6:00-8:00 PM, I will be signing copies of the magazine and chatting up a storm at Forbidden Planet, 832 Broadway, New York, NY 10003, thanks to the store’s intrepid manager / gore guru Matt Desiderio.

I look forward to seeing you at these special events and/or communicating with you on my Facebook page. I hope you enjoy the issue! It has been the ultimate labor-of-love.

Post to Twitter

The Greatest Sith Rises in Star Wars Darth Vader #1

Anakin Skywalker is dead, long live Darth Vader!

Star Wars Darth Vader #1 marks the return of an ongoing series featuring, one can argue, for the baddest ass character that was, a long time ago in a galaxy far far away . After Kieron Gillen‘s fantastic series depicting Darth Vader’s journey between Episode Four and Episode Five, Charles Soule is taking us back to the beginning of Darth Vader’s journey. Many of us fans are hoping that when we look back on it, we’ll be able to refer to this series unofficially as Darth Vader: Year One.

The Clone Wars are over. The Jedi are dead. Palpatine has become Emperor, able to mold the galaxy to his vision with the ways of the dark side. Anakin Skywalker was seduced by the dark side of the Force and is to become Palpatine’s apprentice after betraying the Jedi in order to save his wife. But his deal was for nought as he discovers her fate upon waking after being left for dead by his former mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Now, more machine than man, he is confronted with a new path, the way of Darth Sidious, and en route to becoming the most fearsome villain of all time.

If you’ve seen any of the preview pages that have been released you know that the comic will open right where Episode Three leaves off. Actually, it’s going to open with one of the most iconic, if not one of the most controversial, moments of the enitre prequel trilogy. Will the journey to becoming Darth Vader be as riveting as we hope? Will there be any former Star Wars EU elements brought back into the new Marvel overseen continuity? What surprises does Charles Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli have in store for us? Only one way to find out. Fortunately, we can start the discovery process this week in Star Wars Darth Vader #1.

Post to Twitter

The End Is Here For DARK KNIGHT III: THE MASTER RACE #9

Is the world beyond saving in DARK KNIGHT III: THE MASTER RACE #9?

It’s the end of the world as we know it and Batman feels fine…Well, he’s feeling like his old self again since having his youth and health restored by a Lazarus pit bath. Superman’s really just the most helpful best friend/former enemy a rodent-inspired vigilante can have. The Amazons have barely survived a brutal battle with the Kandorians, who have now turned themselves into living weapons and are ready to destroy a world they may no longer be able to subdue. Carrie Kelly is officially the next Batgirl. The Atom claims he has discovered a way to put the Kandorian genie back into the bottle he opened. Lara El is at a crossroads of whether she’ll finally come aid her parents or join in the genocide with the Kryptonians, who she feels closest to after an entire life of feeling separated from the rest of the world. Can Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and what allies remain upright save the world one more time or will the fanatical Kandorian army led by Quar prove the world is beyond salvation?

It’s time for the final battle. The old guard must stand again and bring about a remnant of an age of heroes though they’re morals and means have somewhat darkened in Frank Miller‘s dystopian vision of a future.

Pick up the final chapter of this third part of the Dark Knight Saga as Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello, Andy Kubert, and Klaus Janson close it out with what’s sure to be some king of big bang. We thought we’d only get eight issues of this event series and here we are treated to an extra helping, lets see how fulfilling it is.

Post to Twitter