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The Wyatt Family Unites, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Thoughts From WWE Raw:

The Wyatt Family destroys John Cena in a 3-on-1 handicap match. This week’s main event was really strong. By putting the fans in control of the main event, the WWE got to almost gauge their support for both Cena and the Wyatts. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Bray once this program with Cena blows over. Clearly the fans are warming up to them. Is it too soon to make Bray Wyatt a bizarre and non-traditional hero figure, akin to the likes of The Undertaker, Kane, Mankind, or Goldust? Or do we put him back with Daniel Bryan in the near future, and have him try his hand at a main event program?

I’m very curious as to how the creative process works for Bray Wyatt’s promos. How much does he come up with, and how much does creative come up with? How much is ad-libbed, and how much is scripted? I’m always curious about that kind of stuff, but his are especially interesting in that respect, as they’re so articulate.

Daniel Bryan appears on Raw, mere hours after his father passes away. Obviously WWE wrote around him this week, keeping him off the mic and writing him out of the show in the very first segment. Kudos to WWE for making the right decision. As a fan, I extend my condolences to Bryan, and my gratitude for being willing to come out on television despite the terrible circumstances.

Rob Van Dam def. Cesaro. I’m surprised to see RVD advance over Cesaro in the tournament to decide a number one contender for the Intercontinental Championship. Cesaro would have been a great choice, but he’s obviously got unfinished business with Jack Swagger. Hopefully, this feud will help decide whether Cesaro is indeed a heel, or the babyface that the fans want him to be. I maintain that if he’s a face, the alliance with Paul Heyman doesn’t make sense.

Bad News Barrett def. Sheamus. Along those same lines, it’s very interesting to see Bad News Barrett pick up a win over Sheamus. Sheamus has proven himself as someone who can consistently play a role in delivering some really good matches, and tonight was no exception. To his credit, Barrett has taken a persona that could have been a disaster, and made it work. The fans are into him, and that might bode well for him in the next couple of weeks.

“Rybaxel” joins the announce position during a match. Good Lord. Who the hell gave these guys headsets? One of them has no personality, and one of them has about half a brain. I’ll give Curtis Axel credit for at least trying to put his team over, though. What was that story Ryback told about his dad serving Mr. Perfect and Razor Ramon at a bar? What the hell has that got to do with anything?

Evolution and The Shield trade verbal barbs. The only gripe I have with this segment is with The Shield’s half. Ambrose kicked things off well, as one might expect. Reigns brought things to a nice, concise point. But Rollins seemed to lose his focus and get carried away. His part of the promo seemed to go about 30 seconds to a minute longer than it should have. Still, while this program doesn’t do any favors for Daniel Bryan’s main event profile, I can’t deny I’m interested to see this match at Extreme Rules.

Cody Rhodes pushes Goldust away after they lose to The Usos. THERE we go. That’s what I want to see. Plant the seed. Cody’s the heel, Dustin’s the face. Let’s do this!

El Torito pins Drew McIntyre in a six-man tag match. You know, I was actually mildly amused by the Hornswoggle vs. El Torito stuff. But ouch. So much for “The Chosen One.”

Mark Henry takes center stage in a promo for Slam CityIf only he’d been that dominant against Brock Lesnar…

Images from wwe.com.

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A Ghostbusters, Vol. 7 Review – Sinterklaas is Coming to Town

TITLE: Ghostbusters, Vol. 7
AUTHOR: Erik Burnham
PENCILLERS: Dan Schoening, Burnham, Felipe Torrent, Erik Evensen
COLLECTS: Ghostbusters #9-12
FORMAT: Softcover
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
PRICE: $17.99
RELEASE DATE: April 9, 2014

(Need to catch up on IDW’s Ghostbusters? Check out volumes One, Two, Three, Four, Five, and Six.)

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

First and foremost, R.I.P. Harold Ramis. Never forget, Ghostheads, never forget.

Normally, it’s difficult for me to get into holiday-themed comic books or TV shows. For instance, there’s a wonderful episode of Justice League called “Comfort and Joy,” which takes place during the holiday season. I can never bring myself to watch it because something feels off about watching a holiday episode in, say, April. In this case, however, I’ll take whatever excuse I can get to see Erik Burnham and Dan Schoening do more Ghostbusters. And that’s exactly what they give us with Happy Horror Days!

This book sees the boys (and girls) in gray go to work on Halloween, El Dia de Los Muertos (the Day of the Dead), the Sinterklaas celebration (more on that in a bit), and New Years Eve. Most of the cases involve children in one way or another. But how are they connected? And is it all leading to something terrible on the horizon…?

As a life-long Ghosthead, this series remains an absolute joy. Burnham’s writing is as close to the tone of the movies as we’ve ever seen from a Ghostbusters comic, Dan Schoening gives us delightful cartoony likenesses of the actors, set in a world that seems to be a hybrid of the movies, The Real Ghostbusters, and ’80s culture in general. There are so many little Easter eggs in these issues it’s almost impossible to spot them all in one sitting. But if you go to Ghostbusters.wikia.com, and look up the individual issues, they actually go panel-by-panel for you. For instance, in this book alone you’ll find a ghost based on Bill Murray’s Caddyshack character, a quick look at Laura Summer, the voice of Janine from the first two seasons of The Real Ghostbusters, and a litany of other RGB references. It’s an honest-to-God treasure hunt for children of the ’80s.

Vol. 7 sees Mel character come back to the team as a Ghostbuster/FBI liaison, and we see quite a bit of her in this book. I continue to have trouble getting into her character. To yours truly, she still comes off like a stand-in for Dana Scully. One would think the more time we spend with her, the less that would be the case. But she still seems very vanilla. I appreciated her being placed in a Day of the Dead story, as it texturizes her a bit differently than the other characters. But simply put, I just don’t find her very interesting. I’ve recently wondered if that’s because, unlike most of the other characters, we’ve never seen Mel in the movies or on a cartoon. But by that logic, Ron Alexander would be a boring character by comparison, and that’s certainly not the case. It’s unfortunate, as there’s certainly nothing wrong with injecting a bit more femininity into the Ghostbusters.

The creative highlight of the book is issue #11, in which Peter, Egon, and Mel investigate a haunting by Sinterklaas, the mythical figure whose legend helped inspire the creation of Santa Claus. Like Santa, Sinterklaas leaves gifts for good children. But he also punishes the bad ones, fairly severely in some cases. Hearing Egon get picky about how it’s not Santa Claus, it’s Sinterklaas,” is amusing. But what really makes it special is what Venkman does when he comes face to face with the spectral Sinterklaas, who has a small child in his grasp. He maintains his trademark Venkman snark and wit. But the scene also illustrates that deep down, under all the scheming and womanizing, he has a kind heart. It’s a fantastic character moment.

This book also plants some seeds for Mass Hysteria, the big story IDW is doing to commemorate the 3oth anniversary of Ghostbusters. These occur in the main story, as well as the various back-ups Burnham does with various artists. Particularly notable is the debut of Eduardo, who fans may recognize from the Extreme Ghostbusters cartoon. Like Kylie, he helps out at Ray’s book store. But this book sees him sucked back into ancient Mesopotamia, to deliver a message to the Ghostbusters from an entity called Tiamat. Google that word. It’ll give you some interesting insight into what Burnham, Schoening, and the gang are planning.

In issue #12, we see the Chicago Ghostbusters run into a familiar face: Alyssa Milano’s character from Ghostbusters: The Video Game, Dr. Alyssa Selwyn. Dr. Selwyn has brought the “World of Gozer” exhibit to the Windy City, and as one might expect, things go bad. Erik Evensen’s art isn’t done any favors when it’s put next to Schoening’s work. But all in all, it’s nice that they connected the Chicago team to Mass Hysteria that way, and incorporated a familiar character in the process.

Ghostbusters, Vol. 7 is less fulfilling than its predecessors (as I said, I’m not a fan of holiday episodes). But by the standards Burnham and Schoening have set, that’s still more satisfying than a great many other books you’ll find on the stands. But it does give the reader a sense that something big, and not-to-be-missed is coming. And again, based on Burnham and Schoening’s reputation, I’m inclined to believe it.

RATING: 7/10

Front page image and image 1 from comicvine.com. Image 2 from uwstout.edu. 

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Zack Snyder on Man of Steel Criticism, Christopher Reeve, Real World Consequences

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Director Zack Snyder and the creative team behind Man of Steel took a great deal of flack for the amount of violence and destruction in the film. However, in a recent interview with Forbes, Snyder said he believes much of the criticism the film received in that respect has to do with the fans’ perception of Superman.

“…I think with Superman we have this opportunity to place this icon within the sort of real world we live in,” Snyder said. “And I think that, honestly, the thing I was surprised about in response to [Man of Steel] was how everyone clings to the Christopher Reeve version of Superman, you know? How tightly they cling to those ideas, not really the comic book version but more the movie version… If you really analyze the comic book version of Superman, he’s killed, he’s done all the things– I guess the rules that people associate with Superman in the movie world are not the rules that really apply to him in the comic book world, because those rules are different…It’s just funny to see people really taking it personally… because I made him real, you know, I made him feel, or made consequences [in] the world.”

Snyder compared his work on Man of Steel to his work on the 2009 film adaptation of Watchmen.

“[In Watchmen]…We really wanted to show it wasn’t just like they thought, like the PG-13 version where everyone just gets up and they’re fine. I really wanted to show the violence is real, people get killed or get hurt, and it’s not fun or funny. And I guess for me, it was like I wanted a hero in Superman that was a real hero and sort of reflected the world we live in now.”

Zack Snyder will direct Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment’s Superman/Batman film, which comes out on May 6, 2016.

Source: Forbes

Image 1 from rottentomatoes.com. Image 2 from blastr.com. 

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The Walking Dead Season 5 to See the Return of Morgan?

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Season 5 of AMC’s The Walking Dead is still several months away. But executive producer Scott M. Gimple may have already given fans a clue as to what’s coming.

In a recent interview on Larry King Now, when asked whether fans would see the Morgan character again, Gimple replied: “I am so determined to make that happen by hook and by crook that I can say definitively, ‘Yes.”…But there’s time and tide that can get in the way.”

Played by Lennie James, Morgan appeared in seasons 1 and 3 of The Walking Dead. Early in the series, he was the first non-zombie Rick Grimes met after waking up from his coma. In season 3, Rick, Carl, and Michonne found Morgan on the edge of sanity following the death of his son Duane.

Image from andrew-lincoln.com.

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The Power of the Warrior, and Other Ponderings from WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

As everyone knows by now, last Tuesday we lost the Ultimate Warrior to a heart attack. This week, WWE celebrated the life of the man born as Jim Hellwig with a tribute show. As a long time wrestling fan, I can tell you I’ve seen far too many of these tribute shows…

As someone who owns The Self Destruction of The Ultimate Warrior, there’s definitely a certain surreal quality to seeing Hulk Hogan and Triple H praise Warrior, after seeing them tear him down on that DVD. But of course, it’s obviously great they buried the hatchet after all these years.

My heartfelt condolences go out to Warrior’s wife and children. What should have been an amazing week for them turned into an awful one , in literally the most tragic way possible. Perhaps the only solace they can take in this, aside from the fact that Warrior loved them very much, is that before he went, he was able to put smiles on his fans’ faces one last time.

Thoughts From WWE Raw:

Stephanie McMahon sends Kane after Daniel Bryan. I don’t like this. Nothing against Kane, and Lord knows he’s got enough history with Bryan to justify a feud, but this should not be Bryan’s Extreme Rules program. That’s not a main event level feud. For my money, Kane has Batista’s job. Batista tapped out at Wrestlemania. Batista’s the guy with something to prove. Batista should be the one facing Bryan in some kind of gimmick match. But instead…

Evolution re-forms to attack The Shield. I don’t necessarily have a problem with Evolution re-forming. I just don’t know if now was the right time. Maybe after a Batista loss to Bryan at Extreme Rules, or something. It just seems like The Shield stands to benefit from Extreme Rules much more than Bryan does. Mind you, Bryan is the WWE Heavyweight Champion, so it’s not like he’s fading into obscurity. I just think Kane is a very weak choice for his first title defense.

WWE starts tournament to crown #1 contender for Intercontinental Championship. Given that he’s riding the momentum from Wrestlemania, I don’t see how the winner of this tournament could be anyone but Cesaro. I imagine he’ll subsequently defeat Big E. at Extreme Rules, and walk away with the gold.

Cesaro def. Mark Henry. Despite clearly heading down a babyface road, having aligned with Paul Heyman, Cesaro has apparently made an abrupt U-turn, and stayed heel. This week, Heyman did a great job taking the wind out of the sails of those who might cheer for Cesaro. I can only assume Heyman will, at least for the foreseeable future, be acting as Cesaro’s version of Ricardo Rodriguez. That’s not only a great way to make sure Cesaro stays a bad guy, but it’s a great excuse for Heyman to keep hitting it out of the park on the mic.

Sheamus def. Jack Swagger. So…because Cesaro is still a heel, I suppose that means Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter are simply moving on. That’s a little bit of a disappointment, considering we not only had all that build up, but Swagger and Cesaro could have undoubtedly had a great pay per view match. But hey, at least he had a solid match with Sheamus this week.

Bray Wyatt invites John Cena to “Come out and play.” Once Cena started with the comedy stuff, I KNEW the Photoshop bits were coming. But on the plus side, Bray Wyatt was successfully able to transfer is promos from the ‘tron to the ring, with a greater intensity and articulation than we’ve ever seen from him in front of a live audience. He’s getting better. Imagine how good he’ll be in a year…

Paige def. Alicia Fox. Can we give Paige a last name? And how about Emma, while we’re at it? And Lana? It almost seems sexist to simply call women by their first names (Sheamus notwithstanding). Incidentally, that kick Paige gave to Alicia Fox sounded nasty. As in, made me look up from my computer and actually pay attention to the match, nasty. I’m not as prone to do that when certain other girls are in the ring. And DAMN…what was that finisher called? A “modified scorpion cross lock?” Either way, it looks awesome. Paige is off to a nice start.

Speaking of Lana… I’m actually pretty partial to Lana, as opposed to Alexander Rusev. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, his face just kills the whole “Bulgarian Brute” thing for me.

Vignettes continue to air for Bo Dallas. Until this week, I hadn’t seen much of Bo Dallas’ work on NXT. But I caught a little of his “Occupy NXT” segment, and I really enjoyed what I saw. This “Bolieve” thing sounds like a real heat magnet. I’m anxious to see  how he’s changed since we last saw him on the main roster.

Fandango & Layla def. Santino Marella & Emma. Layla is a good parter for Fandango. It makes great use of her dancing talents, and more importantly, it casts her in a heel role. Her voice is so damn grating that I find her impossible to cheer for in almost any capacity.

Images from WWE.com.

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Bryan Singer Talks X-Men: Apocalypse

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Bryan Singer, director of next month’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, as well as X-Men and X2: X-Men United, recently spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the next film in the series, X-Men Apocalypse.

Days of Future Past screenwriter Simon Kinberg and X2 screenwriters Dan Harris and Michael Dougherty are among those developing the film, which Singer says will not be an exact replication of the Age of Apocalypse storyline fans know from the Marvel comic book universe.

Singer said the film will focus on the returning cast members from X-Men: First Class. James McAvoy (Charles Xavier), Michael Fassbender (Magneto), Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique), and Nicholas Hoult (Beast) are all scheduled to return for the film. We may also see younger incarnations of characters like Gambit and Nightcrawler. The movie will also reportedly take place during the ’80s.

“I’m excited because I want to start introducing familiar characters at different ages and also explore the ’80s,” Singer said.

Singer noted that elements from Days of Future Past will influence Apocalypse, but the ending of the former won’t directly set the stage for the latter.

“You won’t feel at the end of the movie that it set up Apocalypse,” Singer said. ”What it does is it sets up possibilities. But what we’ll discover in Apocalypse is that events in this movie made that happen.”

Source: ComingSoon.net

Image from hypable.com

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A Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review – Covering His Ground

TITLE: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
STARRING: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Mackie, Robert Redford
DIRECTORS: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
STUDIOS: Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Pictures
RATED: PG-13
RUN TIME: 136 min
RELEASED: April 4, 2014

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a unique beast among the Marvel Studios library. It doesn’t star a loveable, wise cracking hero like the Iron Man films. It’s not a majestic ride like the Thor films. It doesn’t feature a world-decimating threat like The Avengers, either. Rather, The Winter Soldier is an interesting blend of espionage thriller, mystery, and superhero action flick. That’s the kind of story we’ve seen numerous times on comic book pages, but one we rarely (if ever) see on-screen. It’s a great little niche for the Captain America brand, and all in all, makes The Winter Soldier a unique chapter in the universe-encompassing saga of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

S.H.I.E.L.D. is not what we thought it was. A devastating secret is revealed that makes fugitives out of Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) and Natasha Irons/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). Along with their new ally Sam Wilson/Falcon, they must discover and defeat the parasite that has been rotting S.H.I.E.L.D. from the inside out for so many years. But to do so, Rogers will have to face an old friend. Someone from he past he thought was long dead. Enter the Winter Soldier.

The first thing that struck me about The Winter Soldier was the use of a costume based on the one that first appeared in the pages of Steve Rogers: Super Soldier. The less colorful look seems to nullify the character from some of the “hokey American boy scout hero” vibe, which some casual fans plague him with. It’s also a much more practical, soldier-like costume (not that superhero costumes have ever been considered with practicality). But in the end, the film also isn’t afraid to give us our hero in the red and blue suit. While the movie isn’t as colorful and flamboyant as some of its Marvel Cinematic siblings, it doesn’t hide from that side of the character, which speaks to the filmmakers’ respect and admiration for him.

What The Winter Soldier really illustrates, especially now that we’re in phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is just how different the various franchises are. For the most part, each one has its own designated ground to cover. Cap is the idealist who tackles ethical questions regarding freedom, and the price one pays for it. Thor is the mystic warrior of the group, who battles threats from other realms. Iron Man is the technological wonder, known for his trademark wit. And Hulk (from what we’ve seen of him at least), is our horror/monster movie character. Mind you, the lines between these various franchises can blur at times, as at the end of the day, they’re all superhero movies. But Marvel has done a beautiful job of making each character and their world very distinct. Thus, it becomes that much more epic when they all come together in an Avengers movie.

The movie’s titular character, played by Sebastian Stan, is awesome. He’s got a fantastic look, and all of his action sequences with Cap, Black Widow, and Nick Fury are awesome. The only major complaint I have about him deals with his connection to Steve Rogers during World War II. We saw this character in the first film, and we’re reminded of him early in this one. But the friendship and the closeness the two characters had isn’t emphasized enough to make the reveal of The Winter Soldier’s identity the weight it should have. Comic book fans may feel it because they’re already familiar with this relationship. But casual moviegoers, and even the more devoted Marvel movie fans may be left wanting more.

The partnership between Steve Rogers and Natasha Irons is interesting to watch. There’s definitely a certain sexual chemistry between them, which is interesting when you consider what we saw between Natasha and Clint Barton/Hawkeye in The Avengers.  Whatever there is between them is doomed to fail because of their obvious philosophical differences. But Cap, the ultimate straight-laced good guy, and Natasha, who has such a checkered past, definitely make an intriguing duo. Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), Cap’s love interest in the comic book continuity, doesn’t have as prominent a role as I’d hoped. But hopefully they’re just setting the stage for something in the third film. Interestingly enough, The Winter Soldier has a great scene between Steve Rogers and an elderly Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), his love interest from the first film. Peggy’s relation to Sharon Carter is never explored in this film. But again, ground work.

All in all, Captain America: The Winter Soldier manages to stand a step above most other Marvel movies. It’s a hell of an action movie. And while I wouldn’t say the film raises any pressing questions about freedom or the American way, there are some ethical issues on the table that give it enough extra depth to set it apart from other comic book movies.

RATING: 8/10

Images from rottentomatoes.com. 

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Stephen Colbert to Succeed David Letterman on Late Show

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

CBS announced today that Stephen Colbert, host, executive producer, and writer for Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report will succeed the retiring David Letterman on The Late Show in 2015.

Colbert, who signed a five-year deal, gave the following statement: “Simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career. I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead. I’m thrilled and grateful that CBS chose me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go grind a gap in my front teeth.”

The Colbert Report has been on the air since 2005, and has earned two Peabody Awards, as well as numerous Emmy Awards. The show is a spin-off of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, which Colbert had appeared on previously.

Comedy Central released the following statement today: ”Comedy Central is proud that the incredibly talented Stephen Colbert has been part of our family for nearly two decades. We look forward to the next eight months of the ground-breaking Colbert Report and wish Stephen the very best.”

Source: CBS News

Image from mashable.com.

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Ninja Turtles Co-Creator Speaks on New Movie

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Peter Laird, who co-created the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Kevin Eastman in the ’80s, recently spoke to ComicBookMovie.com about the trailer for the new Jonathan Liebesman-directed movie.

An Overview of the New Trailer: “I was impressed with what I saw of the production values — if nothing else, it looks like the new TMNT movie will have a lot of stuff going on and looking good (that toppling tower, for example) — but the changes to the basic design of the Turtles seemed to me to fall into the “fixing what is not broken” category. It’s altogether possible that, in the context of this new movie, these designs will work well and not seem so odd, but I still point to what Jim Henson’s “Creature Shop” team did with their rendering of the Turtles in rubber and paint as the best translation (in live action, anyway) of the Turtles as Kevin Eastman and I created them. That being said, so far I have only seen this short trailer with just a few brief glimpses of the Turtles. My opinion could change…”

On the Additions to the Turtles’ Look: “It may just be a personal preference of mine — and one informed by twenty-five years with the Turtles as co-creator working on those green dudes — but the extra “stuff” added to the Turtles’ outfits just seems extraneous to me, and a bit silly in spots (I mean, thin bamboo armor for a Turtle’s shell?). Maybe it will work, but right now, I don’t see it. I prefer the simpler versions.”

On the More “Human” Look of the Turtles: “…When I watched that trailer for the first time, and came to that bit near the end where Michelangelo takes off his bandana, revealing his full face to April, complete with human-looking nose, I immediately flashed back to the early days, back in 1984 or 1985 when we were living in Sharon, CT and just beginning to take steps into the world of licensing the TMNT. It was during that time that we received a letter from a small movie company — I think it was New World — offering us a deal to do a live-action TMNT movie, wherein they suggested that the way to go was to choose some (at that point in time) “hot” young comedians, dress them up in Turtle costumes, but leave their faces bare… except for a layer of green paint, so their zany comic expressions could be easily visible.

As you probably know, we turned that one down. Remember, this was well before the first animated TMNT series was  even a glimmer in anyone’s eye. It’s intriguing to contemplate what the history of the TMNT might have been had we accepted that first live-action movie offer.”

It should be noted that Kevin Eastman has served as an advisor on the new film.

For the full interview, check out ComicBookMovie.com.

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New Suicide Squad to Debut in July

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This July, DC Comics will relaunch its Suicide Squad series with a new creative team, new team members, and a new title: New Suicide Squad.

As the cover obviously indicates, the new team members are Deathstroke, Black Manta, and Joker’s Daughter. They are standing behind the inprisoned Amanda Waller, Harley Quinn, and Deadshot, who were on the previous team.

Sean Ryan will write the series, and Jeremy Roberts will pencil.

According to IGN, the team’s first mission will be in Russia, and Waller no longer has “the autonomy she used to.”

The company will similarly relaunch Teen Titans in July

Image from newsarama.com.

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