Pixel Scroll 8/21/22 Of Dyson Spheres And Birthdays Best Told Fresh

(1) ON SAIL. Walter Jon Williams gets reacquainted with his 25-year-old self in “Onward Into the Past”.

Back in April Kathy and I drove the three and a half hours to Portales for the 45th Jack Williamson Lecture, and had to figure out how we were going to entertain ourselves for the long drive across the Llano Estecado. Kathy suggested we listen to the audio book of To Glory Arise, the first of my Privateers & Gentlemen books. I’d met Kathy more than ten years after saying goodbye to that series, and she’d never read them, so she was coming to them fresh.

So we listened to the book driving out and back, and were entertained by the book and Bronson Pinchot’s excellent reading of it. I found the book so entertaining that I’ve been listening to the rest of them as they’ve been released, though the reason I was so entertained was peculiar to me— reviewing that series was a way of re-discovering my twenty-five-year-old self, the person who wrote that series, a person who is not quite the man I am today.

I was surprised by how much time and energy I devoted to the psychological dimensions of my characters. I mean, I certainly knew the psychological element was there— I considered it a selling point of the series that it wasn’t about two-dimensional action heroes, but instead characters of some complexity. But there ended up being more pages devoted to psychology than I remembered, and I think more pages than the characters actually warranted. I did not understand the concept of enough. I was inclined to say the same things over and over. I wish I’d had editors who told me that….

(2) A RISING TIDE LIFTS ALL BOATS. “Game of Thrones effect fires up reissues of ‘lost’ fantasy fiction classics” in the Guardian.

It is a lyrical, beautiful fantasy story about a mythical beast who sets out on a quest into a world that no longer believes in her to find out if she is truly the last of her kind.

Published in 1968, The Last Unicorn by Peter S Beagle spawned an animated movie 40 years ago and is a cherished novel that appeals to children and adults alike. But it’s not surprising if you haven’t heard of it. It hasn’t been published in the UK for half a century.

This week it is finally being reissued, the latest in a string of classic fantasy novels to find a new audience thanks to the prevalence of the genre on TV and the big screen….

As well as Beagle’s novel, other writers’ work is being reissued, including John M Ford’s novels The Dragon Waiting and Growing Up Weightless, Hope Mirrlees’s 1926 faerie fantasy Lud-In-The-Mist, and Antonia Barber’s The Ghosts, while books such as the Arabic fantasy The Tale of Princess Fatima, Warrior Woman, and Japanese author Yukio Mishima’s delightfully weird Beautiful Star have recently had their first ever English-language publications.

(3) FRIENDS. “Supporters, Opponents Weigh in on Internet Archive Copyright Battle” at Publishers Weekly is a collection of excerpts from the amicus briefs filed on behalf of both sides.

Is the Internet Archive’s program to scan and lend copies of print library books under an untested legal theory known as controlled digital lending (CDL) wholesale piracy? Or is it a carefully considered and legal effort to preserve the mission of libraries in a digital world that is moving away from ownership to licensed access? With Summary Judgment motions now filed in a closely-watched lawsuit filed by four major publishers over the Internet Archive’s scanning program, stakeholders on both sides of the case are weighing in with amicus briefs….

(4) BRAN SPANKIN’ WORDS. Jesse Sheidlower of the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction (HDSF) begins a new Boing Boing series, “Updating the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction”.

…Of course, the most important feature is the continued addition of new entries. Since the launch, we have continued to unearth new information, and we are excited to be able to share it with readers. The over 200 new entries (as of this writing) include accidental omissions (Vulcan); terms from proto-SF (space senses of fleetbattleship, and warship, all from around 1900); and genuinely recent entries that came to prominence after the original project began (cli-fi (2009), murderbot (2006), Nnedi Okorafor’s Africanfuturism (2018))….

… Yet the majority of the new entries are simply common SF terms that never made it into the original: cityship (1953), doppel (1981), the proto-SF ether ship (1883), ion gun (1935), the fandom word kipple (1960), pseudopod (1929), skin job (in an original (1958) and a Blade Runner sense (1981)), star liner (1932), timequake (1954)….

(5) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1985 [By Cat Eldridge.] Since I mentioned yesterday Ursula Le Guin’s Always Coming Home when I talked about Austin Wright Tappin’s Islandia yesterday, let’s have a conversation about Always Coming Home tonight. 

At one thousand and fifty-five pages, the Library of America edition of Always Coming Home is almost exactly the same length as the printed version of Islandia. Le Guin commented upon Islandia that it is “not a great book perhaps, but a singularly durable one, and a durably singular one. There is nothing else in all literature like Islandia.”

Now I will argue Always Coming Home is quite unlike anything else she wrote as it is not really a work of fiction but rather an anthropology of a people that don’t yet exist. It was published thirty-seven years ago and labeled a novel, but I that reject that label as Le Guin, the daughter of anthropologist, has here created the only true genre work of future anthropology ever done.

She lets the Kesh, the people that Pandora, the documentarian from the other civilization, is studying largely speak for themselves. So we as the observers are learning about them through a collage of their mythologies, poetry and their stories. All in an ethnographic approach.

There is a piece of fiction, a central novella, with the story of a woman called Stonetelling who leaves the valley to live with her father’s people, the Condor. That has Stonetelling reflecting upon her people. 

The end of the Always Coming Home contains additional information about the Kesh in more traditional ethnographic form. And there are maps as well. Quite fascinating maps.

The first edition, the trade paper in the slip case, had music too. It was called the Music and Poetry of the Kesh, featuring ten musical pieces and three poetry performances by Todd Barton. 

The book contains a hundred original illustrations by Margaret Chodos. 

The expanded edition released by Library of America is available from the usual suspects. I’ve decided to include the original cover here. 

Lest you ask, yes, I like it a lot.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 21, 1888 Miriam Allen deFord. Almost all of her genre fiction was published at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction under the editorship of Anthony Boucher. It can be found in two collections, Xenogenesis and Elsewhere, Elsewhen, Elsehow. Her “A Death in the Family” story was adapted in Night Gallery‘s second season. Other than a few short stories, nothing’s available digitally by her. (Died 1975.)
  • Born August 21, 1911 Anthony Boucher. I’m now reading The Case of The Crumpled Knave, one of his superb mysteries. Really great read. The Compleat Boucher: The Complete Short Science Fiction and Fantasy of Anthony Boucher is a most excellent read, but it’s not an epub yet. The Case of The Crumpled Knave, The Compleat Werewolf and Other Stories of Fantasy and Science Fiction are available digitally and a lot are at the usual suspects. (Died 1968.)
  • Born August 21, 1937 Arthur Thomson. Fanzine writer and editor and prolific artist known as ATom. Artist for the well-known Hyphen zine, he won the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund in 1964 and visited the States. He was nominated five times for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist, but never won. After Thomson won the 2000 Rotsler Award, it was decided not to present the Rotsler posthumously again. (Died 1990.)
  • Born August 21, 1943 Lucius Shepard. Life During Wartime is one seriously weird novel. And his World Fantasy Award winning The Jaguar Hunter is freaking amazing as are all his short collections. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 21, 1956 Kim Cattrall, 66. Gracie Law in John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China. Fantastic film! She also played Justine de Winter in The Return of the Musketeers, Paige Katz in Wild Palms, Lieutenant Valeris in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and Linday Isley in Good v. Evil. Series-wise, she was in one offs in Tales of the Gold MonkeyLogan’s RunThe Incredible Hulk and The Outer Limits (rebooted version of course). 
  • Born August 21, 1957 John Howe 65. Canadian book illustrator who’s worked on many a project, of which the Peter Jackson Hobbit films are the ones we’ll know best and which he did with Alan Lee, but he’s also done a number of endeavors including a limited edition of George R. R. Martin’s novel A Clash of Kings which was released by Meisha Merlin, A Diversity of Dragons by Anne McCaffrey and A Middle-Earth Traveler: Sketches from Bag End to Mordor.
  • Born August 21, 1966 Denise Mina, 56. Genre wise, she’s best known for having written thirteen issues of Hellblazer. Her two runs were “Empathy is the Enemy” and “The Red Right Hand”.  ISFDB lists The Dead Hour as genre but it’s very much not. Excellent novel but think rather in the vein of Ian Rankin’s Rebus novels.
  • Born August 21, 1966 Carrie-Anne Moss, 56. I first saw her as Tara McDonald in the Dark Justice series. Not genre, just her first video I think. Playing Monica Howard in the “Feeding the Beast” episode of Forever Knight was her first genre role. Oddly enough her next role was as Liz Teel in the Canadian series called Matrix which has nothing to do with the Matrix film franchise where she’s Trinity. And she’s been playing Jeryn Hogarth in the Netflix based Marvel Universe.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) WAS 1970 THE WORST IN SCI FI CINEMA? [Item by Olav Rokne.] Going through the Hugo finalists year by year in order. And oof, 1971’s shortlist was difficult to get through. We even dug through the other movies and TV shows that were eligible that year, and the fact that I don’t think Hugo nominators could have done a better job on that shortlist is an indictment of SF cinema at that time. “Possibly The Worst Year In Sci-Fi Cinema” at The Hugo Book Club Blog.

… Expressing a sentiment that was common at the time, John Baxter wrote: “Written SF is usually radical in politics and philosophy; SF cinema, like the comic strips, endorses the political and moral climate of its day.” While we’d suggest that Baxter was a little too generous towards prose SF, having watched and listened to the 1971 shortlist, it’s clear that there’s some merit in his indictment of screen offerings.

The shortlist was an eclectic one in some ways. It had one theatrically released American movie (Colossus: The Forbin Project), one television movie (Hauser’s Memory), one British movie (No Blade of Grass) one spoken-word comedy album (Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers) and one prog rock concept album (Blows Against the Empire)…

(9) REFRESH AND RELOAD. The School Library Journal believes in “refreshing the canon” and offers this “Refreshing the Canon Booklist”. Click on the title of a famous classic and you’ll be led to a list of newer suggested readings.

George Orwell’s modeling of a totalitarian society in 1984 has long been a staple of the summer reading canon. As an alternative, consider these seven titles that feature dystopian, futuristic, and repressive societies—and teens who fight back.

  • Adeyemi, Tomi. Children of Blood and Bone. Holt. ISBN 9781250170972.
  • Anderson, M.T. Feed. Candlewick. ISBN 9780763662622.
  • Bacigalupi, Paolo. Ship Breaker. Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316056199.
  • Cameron, Sharon. The Forgetting. Scholastic. ISBN 9780545945219.
  • Dimopoulos, Elaine. Material Girls. Houghton Harcourt. ISBN 9780544388505
  • Higuera, Donna Barba. The Last Cuentista. Levine Querido. ISBN 9781646140893. 
  • Jian, Ma. China Dream. Random/Vintage. ISBN 9781640092402.

(10) AH, SWEET MYSTERY OF LIFE, AT LAST I’VE FOUND THEE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A look at the first episode of She-Hulk: Attorney At Law (Disney+) is filled with spoilers for that show and with (some would say) TMI about Steve Rogers’ love life. “She-Hulk post-credits finally solve an incredible Captain America mystery” at Inverse.

…Though Jennifer is related by blood to a famous Avenger, Bruce hasn’t spilled every secret about Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. In the first episode of She-Hulk: Attorney At Law, a post-credits scene continues a joke planted early in the episode about Jennifer and her crush on Captain America….

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Nancy Sauer, Jeffrey Smith, Olav Rokne, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Enter The Next Era Of Captain America With A First Look At Captain America #0!

Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson team up in the opening pages of Captain America #0, on sale April 20, to launch two Captain America ongoing titles.

Writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly and Marvel Stormbreaker artist Carmen Carnero will tell the adventures of Steve Rogers in Captain America: Sentinel Of Liberty while writer Tochi Onyebuchi and Marvel Stormbreaker artist R.B. Silva will see Sam Wilson soar as Captain America once again in Captain America: Symbol Of Truth.

The journeys of both shield bearers will begin in April’s Captain America #0 where they will team up after an explosive attack by Arnim Zola.

“You can see in the #0 issue that we’re getting to play with our favorite scientist, Arnim Zola, The Bio-Fanatic!” Collin Kelly told CBR in an exclusive interview. “That’s a really fun touchstone for us, but what we wanted to do is introduce a new cast of villains. These villains pulling the strings have their own personalities and motivations and they command a force unlike any Captain America has ever seen. That includes lieutenants, generals, and power players. They are critical players in the history of the Marvel Universe, American history, and the world history of the last hundred years.

“We’re giving those characters individual identities that will allow them to stand on their own. So, if and when we do bring in some more of these legacy villains, we want them to be able to stand toe-to-toe with Doctor Doom… These will be characters that Doom also knows of and is reluctant to cross.”

A transformative moment in Captain America history begins. Check out the preview following the jump.

Continue reading

United States of Captain America #1 – A Review

By James Bacon: Welcome Aaron Fischer, Captain America of the railways. 

Captain America, a symbol of what is right, standing for justice, the pinnacle of heroism, punching Hitler from the outset,  has always asked difficult questions, has eschewed purely jingoistic nationalism, has told stories that questioned what it means to be Captain America and whether America is right, and what is morally the right thing to do. 

Over the 8 decades of the character’s existence, in thousands of comics, frequently we have seen this reflection and challenge in the character, questioning much. In Captain America #180 (Dec 1974) Steve Rogers, disgusted with the US government and a senior official who is supporting terrorism, assumed and hinted to be Richard Nixon and mirroring Watergate,  can no longer wear the red, white and blue uniform and starts  fighting as Nomad, a person with no country. Fifteen years later, the government again appalls Steve Rogers and by issue #332 (Aug 1987)  in he takes on the mantle of “The Captain” and John Walker who was the Super Patriot takes on the mantle of Captain America. It’s a useful story turn. 

 Here, in this issue straight away, Steve Rogers questions what the American Dream is but in a way that suddenly spoke strongly to me. As I look across the Atlantic into America, it’s odd contemplating freedom, or considering what it doesn’t mean to me or mean to others in America, be it being able to own an assault rifle, eat what you want, have black smoke emanate from your car, pay as little taxes as you can while working in a brutal oppressive capitalist profit driven stitch-up where workers rights are minimal, weakness is scorned and belittled, and where there is no social responsibility, and  those less fortunate face destitution or death, with the wealthy subsidized, supported and untaxed. I don’t think that is freedom at all, just subtle ensnarement to a mis-sold system where the rich get richer and people are allowed to imagine the American Dream.  It’s a fecking nightmare, with workers pitted against other workers,  instead of solidarity against billionaires who buy off their guilt with charity, Americans fooled into thinking they pay less in taxes than others, but instead pay huge amounts of health insurance, where climate change is leading to power outages, where water the simplest of things, may poison them…. 

Science fiction readers, intelligent and thoughtful get this, understand and can see injustice and duplicity, the society slowly walking into a tyranny would be obvious. 

It didn’t seem like this on Telly. You know, I don’t recall the Murder She Wrote where the lack of insurance was the cause of death, or the episode where Joey dies from septicaemia while in between jobs, or the ER team writing down these vital insurance details, and so, as one learns more about America, quite a wonderful place, parts slightly tarnished, it gets very ropey, sketchy, not what one had imagined at all. And I love the place. I really do. 

So back to Cap who is thinking about the Dream. “I’m Loyal to nothing, except the dream” “I actually said that once”… “But lately– spending my days in this country, as the years march on by — I’m starting to think America actually has two dreams and one lie.” He describes one dream as something that never really existed, which can become nationalistic and jingoistic, using a white picket fence as an analogy, because that dream doesn’t get along nicely with reality, other cultures, immigrants, the poor and the suffering. People easily become seen as “different” or “un-American.” He describes the lie, the empty promise, “instead of a dream they get a raw deal.” He describes it as a lie.  

He continues to muse about the dream, one where people work and fight together, but his uncertainty and doubt about things comes through thinking;  “The Smithsonian is putting on a special exhibit called ‘Americans who Fight’ To tell you the truth, I don’t really love the name, only because so sometimes we fight when I feel like we could handle things another way.”

We get seven pages of good reflection and introspection, suddenly broken by someone in a Captain America costume, breaking in and stealing the Shield. As a chase ensues, Steve is currently wearing the Steve Rogers super soldier costume, no red and white midriff, and he enlists the Falcon to help him chase down the thief, and things come to a head on Hell Gate bridge where the impostor derails a train using the shield, leaving Steve Rogers and the Falcon to first avert disaster and then help with those who have been injured in a serious train crash. 

As the rescue continues Cap grabs hold of someone dressed like Captain America, and we meet Aaron Fischer, who explains that the people on the rails are kinda like family, and unsavory people show up, he deals with them, fighting for those who need it. Fischer is absolutely in awe of his heroes, and Falcon leads the way in keeping things very cordial, and Fischer explains that there are more “Captains”, a sniper tries to take out Aaron and Cap saves him, and both he and the Falcon affirm that Aaron is a Captain America. Despite this, after getting his wound taken care of, he disappears, but Steve and Sam agree to go find the shield, with Sam putting on the Captain America uniform and also warn the other Captains America of the danger of the assassin. It’s a nice easy intro to a road trip story. Christopher Cantwell did a good job, I liked the questioning side. Sale Eaglesham’s art is really nice in places, although I thought that the physique of both Steve and Sam were a little too exaggerated, but it was good overall. 

Then we get “Tracks”, a second story by Josh Trujillo and Jan Bazaldua. This tells the story of Aaron Fischer, an admirer of Captain America, an “A” tattooed on one arm, he hears that unhoused kids are being disappeared. Roxxon are kidnapping them and using them as a form of labor, and so Aaron, takes it upon himself to daub his denim dungarees with the appropriate colors, make a shield, don a mask and fight, and so he does, and with a young sweetheart in tow. It’s a nice story, and we get to meet someone who is coming from a different background. 

Josh Trujillo and artist Jan Bazaldua spoke to Out (“How the Gay Captain America Creators Crafted Aaron Fischer’s Look”) about the character: “The overalls were something Jan Bazaldua and I settled on really quickly. They felt true to the character and were more practical than a super suit. Plus, I just think the overalls look cool.” said Trujillo.  “We tried to give him a simple appearance since he is a street boy who lives in LA, someone who could only make his suit with what he had on hand,” Bazaldua added. “And we just tried to give him a kind look, someone who did not have resources or large amounts of money but has a huge heart and a great desire to help people like him.” Bazaldua also said the two of them were excited to take “a very American and very macho symbol,” and make him gay and someone who resonated with real-life queer people, and that includes sharing in their struggles. The issue of young LGBT homelessness being one they wanted to draw attention to.  

“Aaron is inspired by heroes of the queer community: activists, leaders, and everyday folks pushing for a better life,” Trujillo said in a release. “He stands for the oppressed, and the forgotten. I hope his debut story resonates with readers, and helps inspire the next generation of heroes.” Bazaldua said. “I really enjoyed designing him, and as a transgender person, I am happy to be able to present an openly gay person who admires Captain America and fights against evil to help those who are almost invisible to society” and added, “While I was drawing him, I thought, well, Cap fights against super-powerful beings and saves the world almost always, but Aaron helps those who walk alone in the street with problems that they face every day. I hope people like the end result!”

 And I think they have done a wonderful job. I have to say that the artwork was super, really clean lines, with some lovely perspectives, low down giving one a sense of not just street level, but being on the street, and the action was also smartly done, with a great sense of movement. The tender moments are perfectly timed, while the story was really advanced by the slick and smooth artwork. 

 And so one would recommend the comic…. 

 And then well, Washington Times and Fox News happened. 

 The Times headline was “Marvel celebrates July 4 weekend by having Captain America say American dream ‘isn’t real’”, on the 2nd of July, and yeah, quotes Captain America. 

They then, dreadfully, excise Aaron Fischer from the story, but use his lines saying “Another point in the story features a character who, standing next to Captain America, suggests that Sam Wilson, a Black character, is more representative of all Americans. ‘Wow, Sam Wilson,’ the character says. ‘Two Captain Americas for the price of one. Can’t tell you how much it means to meet both of you. You fight for everyone. I mean … everyone.’”

 Well, Sam Wilson is representative. And I thought Aaron’s words were nice here. Give Sam some love, why not, he is a great character. But for some, it is reason for umbrage. 

Then Fox News obviously picked up on the “news” and they rolled out some opinions. Senator Tom Cotton, wanted Captain America cancelled, or at least demoted to Lieutenant. (WtF)

Then on the 5th of July, Dean Cain, like talk about Hero to Zero, I know he once played Superman, now obviously a poor pundit for Fox and Friends, went on to criticize the comic and rage against wokism….

“I am so tired of this wokeness and anti-Americanism,” Cain said, while later admitting that he actually hadn’t read the comic… 

And getting some mileage, comedian Michael Loftus was angry. He reckoned Marvel and Stan Lee are the embodiment of the American dream and this story violated that. 

I had a little laugh there, to be honest. Stan was no angel, but he came up with some brilliance, but he often spoke positively and encouraged people to be really good, but I reckon he would have loved the publicity.

I think this all mis-portrays what is going on of course, Captain America is meant to question America and this has occurred many times over the years. 

The idea of the dream is interesting, I was impressed that Ta-Nehisi Coates focused on the dream as his departure point and then Captain America here starts with questioning the dream and I loved that connectivity. 

The loyalty to the Dream may be a reference to Daredevil #233 at the end of Frank Miller’s run with artist David Mazzucchelli in an arc featuring Nuke, where Cap states that “I’m Loyal to nothing General.. except the dream” as he holds the flag. This portrayal is one where Daredevil educates Cap, who seems mildly naïve, but does do the right thing. 

Yet Captain America has never been a flag-clutching propaganda tool. Well in Marvel Fanfare 19, with art by Frank Miller, written Roger Stern and Roger McKenzie Cap is it is a bit overly sickly sycophantic, but… 

 Created at the end of 1940, a year before America had entered the Second World War, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, two working class Jewish New Yorkers, the sons of immigrants portrayed Captain America punching Hitler. 

Joe Simon who came up with Captain America said of the germination of the character,  “’We both read the newspapers, we knew what was going on over in Europe. World events gave us the perfect comic-book villain, Adolf Hitler, with his ranting, goose-stepping and ridiculous moustache. So we decided to create the perfect hero who would be his foil. I did that first sketch of Captain America, and Jack and I did the entire first issue before showing it to (publisher) Martin Goodman at Timely Comics. He loved it immediately.’ he continued ‘But when Captain America came out, America wasn’t yet in the war, so the American Nazis weren’t happy with what we did to their beloved Fuhrer. … We had a couple of personal encounters with the Bund (German American Bund, a US Nazi group 25,000 members). But that didn’t stop us. If anything, it added fuel to the fire.’”

This was serious stuff. In the Comic Book Makers Simon says that “Our irreverent treatment of their Fuhrer infuriated them. We were inundated with a torrent of raging hate mail and  vicious obscene telephone calls. The theme was ‘Death to Jews”… “but then, people in the office reported seeing menacing-looking groups of strange men in front of the building at 42nd St… we reported the threats to the police department.”

One day Joe Simon was told there was a call, being told “There’s a man on the phone says he’s Mayor LaGuardia and he wants to speak to the editor of Captain America” and the Mayor personally called to guarantee that no harm would come to the Captain America creators, with Simon quoting him as saying “You boys are doing a good job, The City of New York will see that no harm will come to you.” (“Art Spiegelman: golden age superheroes were shaped by the rise of fascism” in The Guardian.)

The cover was hugely political, and while the stories were in parts fantastical, it put a clear enemy at the forefront, and a hero to take it on.  Joe Simon and Jack Kirby went on to serve their country in the Second World War and Captain America has remained, for eighty years. 

Politics has been deftly avoided at times. Tales of Suspense #61 from January 1965 saw Captain America travelling to Vietnam to seek out a captured pilot, who is a POW and brother of a WWII veteran who helped Cap. 

Cap has to fight a Sumo fighter, who is the champion of a Vietnam General, and then he and Barker escape and in doing so effectively run away from the challenging politics that surrounded the American War in Vietnam for over five years. 

Issue 125 of Captain America May 1970, written by Stan Lee with art by Gene Colan, we saw Cap distraught after breaking up with Sharon Carter, and so again we go to Vietnam, he needs something to do….

Cap seeks the kidnapped Dr. Robert Hoskins. Parachuting out of a B-52 he gets captured, and is taken to the Mandarins Castle — Iron Man’s foe. Although he defeats the Mandarin and escapes with Hoskins and this helps all involved get back to peace talks, the final panel, is full of woe but the last line where he says “and the knowledge that one day, even Captain America must surely face defeat”  really felt like a subtle commentary on Vietnam. 

Though one would love to say that Disney, Marvel are wonderful and perfect, they surely are not, and issues about recognition and payment are well known. Ta-Nehesi Coates spoke out about this recently, and one of the most senior Marvel Execs, Ike Perlmutter supported and worked for Donald Trump (“Meet Reclusive Marvel Billionaire Ike Perlmutter, Trump’s Close Friend” at Business Insider.) And there was much unhappiness amongst fans when Captain America shields or t-Shirts were misappropriated by fascist and racists at right wing protests. Indeed Neal Kirby, son of Jack, said when he saw images of the Storming of the Capital Building (“Captain America creator’s son hits out at Capitol mob’s use of superhero imagery” in The Guardian) — “Captain America has stood as a symbol and protector of our democracy and the rule of law for the past 79 years. He was created by two Jewish guys from New York who hated Nazis and hated bullies. Captain America stood up for the underdog and, as the story was written, even before he gained his strength and process from Army scientists, always stood for what was righteous, and never backed down.” “I was appalled and mortified. These images are disgusting and disgraceful. Captain America is the absolute antithesis of Donald Trump. Where Captain America is selfless, Trump is self-serving. Where Captain America fights for our country and democracy, Trump fights for personal power and autocracy. Where Captain America stands with the common man, Trump stands with the powerful and privileged. Where Captain America is courageous, Trump is a coward. Captain America and Trump couldn’t be more different.”

I hope that we get to see more of Aaron Fischer, and the other Captains America, as Sam and Steve go on their journey and I look forward to Aaron’s adventures, and those of future Captains America, Nichelle Wright, the Captain America of Harrisburg, Joe Gomez, the Kickapoo Tribe’s own Captain America, Ari Agbayani a college campus based Captain America and Air Force Captain Jeremy Merrick who looks out for veterans who have fallen through the tracks, as this five-issue mini-series develops. 

Captain America Vol. 9 — The Ta-Nehisi Coates Run: Review by James Bacon

By James Bacon: It was big news, proper news when Ta-Nehisi Coates took on Captain America, this was the successful Black Panther writer, and well known thinker, journalist and author taking on one of the most iconic Marvel characters, hugely popular and immediately recognizable, and also one of the trickier characters to get right.

Ta-Nehisi Coates himself wrote about it in The Atlantic (“Why I’m Writing Captain America And why it scares the hell out of me”). I reread the article, thinking about it with excitement, phrases sticking with me “…would be forgiven for thinking of Captain America as an unblinking mascot for American nationalism. In fact, the best thing about the story of Captain America is the implicit irony.” And “Rogers becomes the personification of his country’s egalitarian ideals.” And “Why would anyone believe in The Dream? What is exciting here is not some didactic act of putting my words in Captain America’s head, but attempting to put Captain America’s words in my head. What is exciting is the possibility of exploration, of avoiding the repetition of a voice I’ve tired of.”

The Free Comic Book Day in May 2018  featured a primer story, Cap taking on Nuke clones and we have a voice-over from Alexa Lukin who says: “Like you we rebelled against the old-world elites, like you we embraced revolution, you and I were allies once, revolutionary allies”… “I am told the Super Soldier still calls himself ‘Captain.’ But Captain of what?” She continues “It was all so simple, Captain America was right because America was right and Captain America was good because America was good.” A great start to a fabulous run.  

It’s been an interesting few Captain America years. The Ed Brubaker run on Captain America was phenomenal in 2005. I cannot adequately explain, there had been good moments, great moments of art and writing, but suddenly, we had a phenomenal run, Steve Epting’s and Mike Perkins’ art was so good — but the story. Creating Winter Soldier and then seeing Bucky become Captain America. A great seven years on the title, not without controversy, Brubaker got death threats because anti-tax protestors were characterized as “racists” by the Falcon and this upset Tea Party people no end, a placard had “Tea Bag The Libs Before They Tea Bag YOU!” and you know, apologies ensued and Brubaker well, as he said himself to io9 at the time: “I had to shut down my public email because I started getting death threats from, y’know, peaceful protesters.”

You see. Captain America is tricky.

In the intervening years, we had a series of writers, and a number of new issues 1’s and for me, while Sam Wilson Captain America by Nick Spencer was nice enough, overall, it had been only OK, I did like Spencer’s and Waid’s writing.

There had been huge fuss over Captain America being Hydra, although this was a ruse, it was someone looking like Steve Rogers.  The concept of a fake Captain America doing heinous things is not exactly new, indeed Stan Lee used the concept in Strange Tales 114 (Nov 1963) to revive Captain America, having the Acrobat pretend to be Cap and first fight with and then get uncovered by the Human Torch. The end left a question for readers “This story was really a test! to see if you too would like Captain America to return! As usual your letters will give us the answer” and so we got Cap in  Avengers #4 in 1964, in Tales of Suspense 58, and then in Captain America 117, where we meet Sam Wilson for the first time, the Red Skull is masquerading as Captain America. A well-used theme concept, a trope even.

And so here we were. July 4, 2018 and Ta-Nehisi Coates was writing, Lenil Franci Yu on pencils and a number of covers, although the Alex Ross one being quite amazing*.  And we meet our main protagonists Alexa Lukin neé Volkoff and the mystically powerful Selene Gallio. The stresses of the previous stories are all apparent, people have lost faith in Captain America, and indeed there is considerable change. Men once jailed are now in leadership roles, because they opposed Hydra. The Power Elite are a new group trying to usurp power and Captain America has lost trust, and is expected to sit out incidents. While all this is going on, the time and space given to the relationship between Sharon Carter and Steve Rogers is brilliant, allowing reflection and there is a lot of that in these comics. Steve gets ample chance to engage with others or observe, to see what Hydra did, and how the bad guys fixed problems for people…

There are some lovely twists and turns, Sharon gets part of her soul stolen, Selene helps Alexa Lukin to resurrect her husband, Alexander but he has the mind of the Red Skull. Steve gets stitched up for killing Thaddeaus Ross and is imprisoned and Sharon calls upon The Dryad and the Daughters of Liberty, who are pretty fabulous.

First formed in the 18th century, they predate Captain America and the first Dryad was Harriet Tubman. The Daughters of Liberty are, Agatha Harkness, Aja-Adanna as Shuri, Ava Ayala as White Tiger, Bobbi Morse as Mockingbird, Jessica Drew as Spider-Woman, Maya Lopez as Echo, Misty Knight, Sue Richards as Invisible Woman, Toni Ho and the Dryad who is someone else and has a wonderful history.

After prison, we see Captain America on the run and portrayed as actually the Hydra Supreme commander, meanwhile Sharon is trying to figure out what is going on, and at the same time helping Steve come to terms with where he is, and there are some great interactions about what law and order is with Ava as they go on their first mission, to take on a Militia who are hunting illegal immigrants. Steve wondering if it ‘was it ever as simple as I remembered, was it me and Bucky versus Hitler and Zemo? or was it a Jim Crow Army making common cause with Stalin?’

Here we meet the “Watchdogs” masked militia, who wear a red mask with a line of the Bars and Stars at an obtuse angle. While Nick Fury has decided to track down Steve and soon we have Sin and Crossbones and John Walker showing up, as Steve and the Daughters of Liberty go from the Watchdogs on to seek out the Cop Killing Scourge which presents some interesting moments of further thoughtfulness. Linking the Confederate Battle Flag to an armed Militia targeting immigrants where police do not seem to care and through inaction endorse or condone the action, made one think of MAGA aspects in the USA, and the inherent link between the Confederacy, racism and violence and hatred against immigrants. 

Ta-Nehisi Coates takes us on quite a series of adventures full of excitement and action, meanwhile weaving the story cleverly, and the concept of idealism, dreams and Captain America himself is well explored. Scourge is not just a criminal but an idea, and as we wheel around following the story, it feels like to so many current issues in the USA, are deftly and gently looked at. This ranged from recognition of Harriet Tubman, to the powerfulness of the Daughters of Liberty to the nature of power, powerful criminals, business people and politicians, sometimes changing role to suit their own egotistical greedy motives we see the, jailed going to jail keeper, and corruption and brutality 

Adamsville, a Christian town refuge where down-on-their-luck men can find work and welcome, is in reality where Selene has been vampirically feeding off their souls, and its thanks to Sharon the battle is won, and in a really impressive way. This brought in an interesting religious aspect and one that I recognized, the church that offers with one hand, utterly brutalising with the other. 

As I reflected on the second reading, I realized, that one of the best things about this whole run, is that really, it is Sharon Carter’s story. While yes, we follow Steve Rogers who is Captain America around a lot, it really felt like Sharon’s story and a chance for Steve to take things in, to contemplate as well and fight, while her actions and decisions lead a lot of the route of this journey, Captain America relied upon Sharon, and at times she had to work around or behind him, this was her story, and it’s a good one.  The art is amazing. Straight away having Alex Ross on covers, was fabulous, his painted work is incredible in its realism, and he really can capture a moment of action and movement, while there were a number of variant covers, for those preferring a different style. I thought Leinil Francis Yu and then Adam Kubert did fabulous pencil work, and I was so impressed and Leonard Kirk likewise finished the run off in style. The action scenes and portrayals of characters were great, all the time it all worked to complement the other components of the comics. Again touching current events, the May cover of Captain America featured the Capitol Building, Ross neatly repossessing the important building that had been stormed earlier that year. 

In the last issue, Ta-Nehisi Coates spoke of “a great honour to fulfil a childhood dream — writing for Marvel comics”…. “was more than a childhood fantasy. Grappling with Steve and T’Challa, trying to understand them as people” and ended the piece by saying “And thank you to the fans for reading. I tried to stay true to nothing — except the dream.”

Well in many regards, Ta-Nehisi Coates worked exceptionally hard for the fans, the history of Captain America was well utilized, it’s hard to know if he researched the hell out of it, or is just a very serious fan, I suspect the later. Nuke who debuted in Daredevil was first out of the traps, we also had The Watchdogs from issue 335 (Nov 1987), who then were right wing radical extremist militia, who wanted to hang Lemar Hoskins who was at the time Bucky to his friend John Walker who was Captain America at the time, and of course Ta-Nehisi Coates had John Walker as the Secret Agent appearing in this run. Yet whether it be Bucky Barnes, Peggy Carter, Agatha Harkness, Bulldozer, Misty Knight, Wrecker, they are all portrayed well and with what I felt was a total understanding of the characters and history. 

 I had hoped that the systematic problems that America has would be addressed, and in many respects, I felt they were, maybe it was hints, immigration, police issues, police getting killed, the blue line, political expedience, sometimes it was oblique in nature, but in many instances, not only were bigger issues looked at, but also the issues of the moment, seeped in, but were delicately fictionalized or portrayed, so as to gently encourage what I consider proper thinking, without causing a huge fuss. Throughout the time, America was challenged, but those of us reading Captain America, saw that here at least, in a fantastical world, Captain America was a fighter for those who needed defending, who stood against racism, fought for all, even if he had to question it, who relied on brilliant women, were guided by them even, and who happy to reflect, question and develop himself, and egalitarian. 

The story came together well and in the last number of issues as matters get resolved, there is a lovely tension and heightening and one knows that we will be presented with an ending, and indeed we were, but with lots of potential. As if Coates knew that he had to do more than just end, he left some beautiful aspects that future writers can really work with, and I would like to see The Daughters of Liberty in their own title.

One of the great things about Coates is that he spoke to Evan Narcisse about his run (“The writer reflects on his half-decade run in the Marvel universe and the choices he made along the way” at Polygon.) I held off reading until I was finished my own full second read of the run. He defended comic book creatives. He took the industry to task. He said: “I’m talking very specifically here, I wish they found ways to compensate the author of the greatest Winter Soldier stories that you’re ever going to read. I don’t love that there’s a Falcon and Winter Soldier show on TV and I’m hearing from Ed [Brubaker] that he can’t even get in contact with … I just don’t love that. I don’t love that. Look, I had a great time. I had a tremendous, tremendous time writing for Marvel. I am indebted to Marvel.”  he continued later and said  “’The Death of Captain America’ is just one of the greatest stories I’ve ever read. I’m talking about the volumes. It is fucking incredible, ridiculously good. When I was going on Captain America, I thought about that. I was like, if I could get anywhere near this, I might have done something. I didn’t. I didn’t, by the way. But to have that, and to have him bleed into that book, to have Steve Epting bleed into that book the way he did, to see folks making billions over top of billions, and for my man to say he can’t get a phone call returned. I don’t know what the relationship will be like in the future, but as a creator, you think about that. You think about how people treat other people. You think about how corporations treat other people. And I just don’t love it, dude.”

He also spoke about Captain America; “He is inherently political from jump. There’s never a point where he’s not speaking to the real world. And you do take some amount of inspiration from what’s going on around you. I think Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and everyone else advanced the Steve Rogers myth in the moment they had him coming out of the ice, in the ’60s. It made him timeless. It’s probably one of the most brilliant tropes I’ve ever seen. Because it’s ultimately a commentary on the Greatest Generation, and the idea of the Greatest Generation literally being the ‘Greatest Generation.’ This guy’s an embodiment of the Greatest Generation faced with a postmodern world. It is such an incredible setup, and he’s constantly disappointed. Because who can live up to that? Who can live up to that?”

I just love it when we get to hear writers on comics, and the industry, it’s just so very welcome, and he spoke with such integrity and insight, honesty. That is real honesty.

I felt that throughout his run on Captain America. He was working hard and being honest to the characters, story and to the fans, who want an enjoyable and good read and yet he was also doing as he set out. Now he is off to write the Superman movie for J.J. Abrams, but I do hope we can get him back to comic books. As issue 30 approached, I had hoped that that the United States of Captain America would start after, but comics schedules are hard and there was a bit of overlap, so I decided to reread Captain America 1 to 29 to refresh for Ta-Nehisi Coates’ final issue — it’s a good run.   He addressed so many issues in a gentle thoughtful, allegorical or metaphorical way, like — it musta been hard to find that balance but it’s been really good Captain America. Tricky to get right, but really very good.

Pixel Scroll 7/9/21 Someday We’ll Find It, The Scrolling Convention

(1) CLARION ONLINE EVENTS. Each year Clarion West brings the Write-a-thon to the global community. This is the second year it’s been presented virtually. Check out the free virtual panels and readings coming your way.

Register at the link for “Uncovering Cover Art” featuring Grace P. Fong, Sloane Leong, Aimee Fleck, and John Jennings, on Monday, July 12 at 6:30 p.m. Pacific.

While books capture our hearts, covers are what call to readers from the shelves. What makes an eye-catching, imagination-sparking cover? What do authors need to know about the process? Come learn the answers from some of the hottest artists and book designers in the industry.

You also can register at this link for “Mental Health & Writing” with Susan Palwick, Chaplain, Cassie Alexander, ICU RN, and Justin C. Key, MD on Monday, July 19 at 6:30 p.m. Pacific.

Authors and other artists are often stereotyped as struggling with our mental health. With increased emphasis in media and culture toward understanding and promoting mental health, writers have more resources and self-care tools than ever before. Learn about establishing healthy writing habits and writing about difficult subjects from a panel of authors who are also professionals in fields related to health and wellness.

(2) MEET THE NEW BOSS. James Davis Nicoll, for one, is happy to welcome our “Alien Overlords: Five SF Futures Where Humans Are No Longer in Charge” at Tor.com. (OK, not really, but the line begs to be used here.)

Humans are accustomed to seeing ourselves as the rulers of creation, apex beings with the right to rearrange the world for our convenience. For many people this is a central tenet of faith, little challenged by the occasional pandemic or environmental collapse. SF authors, however, are willing to consider that this just might be wrong. Many works have explored what it would be like if we were one day to discover that superior entities now ruled our world. Humans would be domestic animals, mere puppies of Terra…

Consider the following five works that challenge human supremacy….

(3) MORDOR ON THE RIVIERA. “An Enduring Fellowship” in Deadline Disruptors+Cannes on pages 34-41 can be read magazine-style at Issuu.

In 2001, a lavish Cannes part, and 26 minutes of footage changed the course of film history. As Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings approaches its 20th anniversary, Mike Fleming Jr. gathers key players to look back at a breathtaking gamble.

(4) VIDEO GAME LEGENDS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster, Designated Reader, Financial Times.] In the July 7 Financial Times, Tom Faber discusses urban legends about games that drove users mad (mad, I tell you, mad!)

Much gaming creepypasta revolves around video games for children such as Pokemon and Mario. There is the story of Herobrine, a misty-eyed character who stalks Minecraft, only glimpsed in the distance or through fog.   Another concerns a mod for fantasy adventure Morrowwind named “Jvk1166z.esp’ which causes characters to stare blankly at the sky while a figure with long, spidery limbs haunts the edges of your screen.  Neither myth has been substantiated.

Some popular legends concern haunted games that probably never existed. Polybius was supposedly a 1980s arcade game, created as part of a US government experiment, that induced psychoactive reactions in players.  More recently, a YouTube video emerged called ‘Sad Satan’ that showed a creepy corridor in a mysterious game apparently downloaded on the dark web,  Online commented eager jumped on these, untangling references to serial killers and psy-ops, but both are likely hoaxes dreamt up by horror fans.

(5) TSR’S CHESHIRE CAT IMITATION. En World tries to follow the bouncing brand in the face of a new press release from TSR: “ Just when you thought it was all over…. now there’s a fourth TSR!”

In the story that will never end, after having this week turned itself into Wonderfilled, Inc, and deleted its Twitter account, TSR is BACK AGAIN! Like again, again, again, again. Complete with old-school logo! And Michael appears to actually exist!

Michael K. Hovermale says in a press release that an unnamed individual (I’m guessing Stephen Dinehart) apparently ran all the social media accounts for TSR, Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum, Ernie Gygax, Justin LaNasa, and Giantlands. He goes on to say that this person has been replaced, and that all posts on those social media accounts are “invalid”. There’s no mention of Stephen Dinehart’s social media accounts though.

…The existing (TSR3} website still says it’s WONDERFILED (sic), Inc. However there’s now a NEW one at TSR Hobbies. We’ll call that TSR3.5 for now. I’m struggling to distinguish TSRs from tribbles at this point. They just keep on coming!

Here’s the text of the TSR press release at PR.com: “TSR Appoints New Public Relations Officer; Responds to Social Media Mismanagement”.

TSR has replaced the individual that was serving as both social media manager and information technology manager for TSR and The Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum. This individual was also the social media manager for Giantlands, Justin LaNasa, and Ernie Gygax.

All posts on all social media accounts for TSR and Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum should be considered invalid.

All posts on all social media accounts of Justin LaNasa and Ernie Gygax should be considered invalid.

TSR is in the process of recovering the social media accounts of TSR, The Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum, and the personal Twitter accounts of Justin LaNasa and Ernie Gygax….

Ernie Gygax:
“I wish to speak directly to the transgender community regarding this incident. The individual who was speaking to you on Twitter does not represent me or TSR in any way. Trans people are always welcome to play with us. Everyone is welcome at our table.”

(6) THE MARS MY DESTINATION. Dwayne Day discusses a 1969 proposed NASA Mars rocket that inspired Gordy Dickson, Stephen Baxter and Lego builders today in “Flights to Mars, real and LEGO” in The Space Review.

…Boeing’s design [submitted in 1968] has shown remarkable staying power and still appears in artwork decades later. Now, Boeing’s design has been recreated in LEGO form, in three-dimensional plastic glory that you can build yourself….

The political winds had shifted against expensive human space exploration long before the summer of 1969 and the Mars mission, which was only supposed to be the capstone at the top of NASA’s ambitious plans, never had a chance for approval. NASA officials soon found themselves scrambling to justify any human spaceflight activity at all, let alone the exquisite program they had envisioned.

But by this time, the Mars spaceship design had gone public. Marshall Space Flight Center artists had produced artwork showing the multiple phases of the Mars mission and that artwork was soon published in many places, such as books about future spaceflight. The Apollo-shaped MEM also became iconic and was also illustrated by numerous artists. Although the public knew that a future Mars mission had not been approved, they could reasonably expect that if it eventually happened, this was what it would look like.

In 1978, Canadian-American science fiction author Gordon Dickson published the novel The Far Call, about a mission to Mars which employed a spacecraft similar to the one outlined in 1969. It also appeared in Allen Drury’s heavy-handed 1971 book The Throne of Saturn. In 1996, Stephen Baxter published Voyage, which also used a similar spacecraft, although an accident involving a nuclear propulsion stage has tragic consequences. (See: “Space alternate history before For All Mankind: Stephen Baxter’s NASA trilogy,” The Space Review, June 8, 2020.)

(7) PATTY JENKINS AND STAR WARS. “Patty Jenkins says she’s ‘free’ to create the Star Wars story she wants” notes Fansided. Patty Jenkins, director of two Wonder Woman movies, was announced by Disney in late 2020 to be helming the next Star Wars feature film, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron. 

The Hollywood Reporter’s Chris Gardner included Star Wars questions in a recent interview: “Patty Jenkins Thinks Streaming’s Day-and-Date Strategy Won’t Last”.

You had one of the best announcements of the pandemic, in my opinion, when you suited up and revealed that you are directing Star Wars: Rogue Squadron. How is development going?

It’s going amazing. I had been on it already for six months before I even announced that, so we’re pretty deep into it. We’re finishing a script, crewing up, and it’s all going wonderful. I’m so excited about the story and excited that we’re the next chapter of Star Wars, which is such a responsibility and such an opportunity to really start some new things. It’s really exciting in that way.

What is the consulting process like with the Star Wars brain trust?

There’s plenty of it. It’s an entirely different way of working. I’m on the phone with all of them and doing Zoom meetings with everybody involved in Star Wars all the time. I’m fairly free to do the story that we want to do, but you really need to know who’s done what, who’s doing what, where it goes and how it works, and what designs have been done before. It’s a whole other way of working that I’m getting up to speed on.

(8) WILLIAM SMITH (1933-2021). Actor William Smith, famous as the opponent of Clint Eastwood’s Philo Beddoe in the climactic bare-knuckle fight that ends  Any Which Way You Can (1980), but whose 274 career credits includes many genre productions, died July 5 at the age of 88. The Hollywood Reporter profile mentioned these sff TV and movie appearances:

An inductee into the Muscle Beach Venice Bodybuilding Hall of Fame, Smith was perfect for the role as Adonis, a henchman for Zsa Zsa Gabor’s evil Minerva on Batman. On the ABC show’s final episode in 1968, he was on the receiving end of a Whamm!!, Zowie!, Splatt!, Crash! and Sock! from Batman, Robin and Batgirl.

…He also played the father of the title character in Conan the Barbarian [1982], writing his own lines for his monologue that opens the film. “No one, no one in this world can you trust … not men, not women, not beasts … this you can trust,” he says pointing to the movie’s iconic steel sword.

…Smith appeared in the cult movies Piranha (1972), where he said his stunt with a very large anaconda almost cost him his life, as an FBI agent in Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973), and as a drag racer in David Cronenberg’s Fast Company (1979).

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • July 9, 1982 – Thirty-nine years ago, Tron premiered. The producer was Donald Kushner. It was written and directed by Steven Lisberger from the story by himself and Bonnie MacBird. The cast was Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, David Warner, Cindy Morgan and Barnard Hughes. The film was well received by critics with Ebert in particular loving it. However it did poorly at the Box Office and the studio wrote it off as a loss. (The sequel, Tron: Legacy, was a box office success.) Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a decent rating of sixty-nine percent. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 9, 1911 — Mervyn Peake. Best remembered for the Gormenghast series which is quite delightfully weird. Most fans hold that there are but there novels in the series (Titus GroanGormenghast and Titus Alone) though there’s a novella, “Boy in Darkness”, that is a part of it. It has been adapted for radio three times and television once, and Gaiman is writing the script for a forthcoming series which as now isn’t out. (Died 1968.)
  • Born July 9, 1938 — Brian Dennehy. He was Walter in the Cocoon films, and, though it’s more genre adjacent than actually genre, Lt. Leo McCarthy in F/X and F/X 2. He also voiced Django in  Ratatouille. His very last performance was as Jerome Townsend in the “Sing, Sing, Sing” episode of Penny Dreadful: City of Angels series. (Died 2020.)
  • Born July 9, 1944 — Glen Cook, 77. With the exception of the new novel which is still on my To Be Read list, I’ve read his entire excellent Black Company series. I’ve also mostly liked his far lighter Garrett P.I. series (though not the last novel for reasons I’ll not discuss here) which it seems unfortunately he’s abandoned. And I should read the Instrumentalities of the Night as I’ve heard good things about it. 
  • Born July 9, 1945 Dean Koontz, 76. The genres of of mystery. horror, fantasy and  science fiction are all home to him. Author of over a hundred novels, his first novel was SF — it being Star Quest (not in print) published as an Ace Double with with Doom of the Green Planet by Emil Petaja. ISFDB claims over half of his output is genre, I’d say that a low estimate. 
  • Born July 9, 1954 — Ellen Klages, 67. Her novelette “Basement Magic” won a Nebula Award for Best Novelette. I strongly recommend Portable Childhoods, a collection of her short fiction, which published by Tachyon Publications, my favorite publisher of fantasy. They released another collection from her, Wicked Wonders, which is equally wonderful. Passing Strange, her 1940 set San Francisco novel, which won a BSFA Award and a World Fantasy Award, is also really great. Ok, I really like her.
  • Born July 9, 1971 — Scott Grimes, 50. He’s Lieutenant Gordon Malloy on The Orville. He did show up once in the Trek verse, playing Eric in the “Evolution“ episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. And you might recognize him as Bradley Brown in the first two Critters films. 
  • Born July 9, 1978 — Linda Park, 43. Best known for her portrayal of communications officer Hoshi Sato on the Enterprise. Her first genre role was Hannah in Jurassic Park III, and she was Renee Hansen in the Spectres filmwhich Marina Sirtis was also in. Her latest genre role was in For All Mankind as Amy Chang in the “Pathfinder” episode. 
  • Born July 9, 1995 — Georgina Henley, 26. English actress, best remembered  for her portrayal of Lucy Pevensie throughout the Chronicles of Narnia film franchise from age ten to age fifteen.  She’s listed as having an unspecified role in an untitled Game of Throne prequel series but given the number of those proposed, this may or may not exist. Actually I’d bet on it not happening. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) HERE’S INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING FOR YA. Texas Monthly checked in with the artists who did the comic book that adorns the lawsuit filing: “Houston Comic Book Store Filed a Lawsuit in Comic Form”. (See the images in the June 30 Pixel Scroll, item #12).

They filed the lawsuit as … a comic book?

Sure enough. Artists Michael Charles, Maurice Terry Jr., Michael Brooks, and Benjamin Carbonero of Bad Cog Studios illustrated the 24-page comic at the request of Third Planet owner T.J. Johnson and his attorney, Cris Feldman. “I was really intrigued by it because, first of all, I got a lawyer calling me to do a creative project,” Charles told the Chronicle. The full-color comic shows the store staff fending off an onslaught of ceramic plates, lit cigarette butts that they allege have twice caused fires, and no fewer than fourteen fire extinguishers tossed from hotel balconies onto the store’s roof. One panel depicts store employees using buckets to collect water as rain leaks through the damaged roof onto the shelves.

Is this legal?

It is, in fact! It’s unconventional, but the law doesn’t require that pleadings in civil cases be black-and-white typed documents formatted in any particular way. Still, there are good reasons why most lawsuits look the same: one judge might be amused by an unusual pleading, while another may consider it beneath the dignity of the court; a gimmicky pleading might undermine the gravity of the case; and, of course, not every suit lends itself to creative storytelling. The pleading from Third Planet is a unique case. It’s a third amended petition, which means that the parties involved are already in the middle of the legal process. The store and its attorneys know who the judge reviewing the claim is, and whether he’s the sort to hold this gimmick against them. Also, according to the pleading, lawyers for the defendant claimed that they didn’t understand the previous petition, which meant that filing it as an easy-to-comprehend comic book fits the time-honored legal tradition of being snarky to opposing counsel.

(13) NONE SO BLIND. The Hollywood Reporter’s kerfuffle coverage, “Dean Cain Lambastes ‘Woke’ Captain America Comic; Gets Roasted on Twitter in Return”, includes Cain’s admission that he didn’t read the issue. (But James Bacon did, and recently reviewed it for File 770: “Captain America of the Railways and Joe Gomez”.)

Dean Cain was still trending Friday on Twitter after criticisms he made about the new Captain America comic series earlier in the week on Fox & Friends.

The former Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman star and Donald Trump supporter, bashed The United States of Captain America comic series due to a line in the first issue in which Cap says the American dream for some “isn’t real.”

Cain took issue with that notion, saying everyone in the country should support the U.S.A.

“I love the concept of Captain America, but I am so tired of this wokeness and anti-Americanism,” Cain said on the Fox News Channel program. “In my opinion, America is the greatest country in history. It’s not perfect. We are constantly striving for a more perfect union, but I believe she’s the most fair, equitable country anyone’s ever seen, and that’s why people are clamoring to get here from all over the globe.”

Calling himself a “revolutionary” for supporting America these days, Cain added, “Do these people ever travel outside of America? Do they go to other countries where they have to deal with governments who aren’t anywhere near as fair as the United States? I don’t think they do. I do it all the time, and I kiss the soil when I get back.”

Needless to say, his comments did not go over well with most, a lion’s share of the reaction on social media blasting Cain for his short-sightedness.

Cain later admitted that he had not actually read the comic, he was just responding to a conservative outlet that reported on one line in the book to which ultra Right-wingers then dug in their claws….

(14) HE’S DEAD, JIM. When Loki visits The Simpsons, Stan Lee won’t be with him: “Marvel Blocks Stan Lee Cameo in ‘The Simpsons’-‘Loki’ Crossover Short”.

The long-standing tradition of Stan Lee appearing in every Marvel Comics film, television show and video game has come to an end – “The Simpsons” showrunner, Al Jean, says Marvel prevented them from adding a cameo appearance of the comic book legend in their new animated short, “The Good, the Bart, and the Loki.”

In the short, Tom Hiddleston, as Loki, makes his debut appearance in “The Simpsons” universe for a cartoon that makes an array of allusions to other MCU prominent characters. But there is no sign of Lee.

Jean told ComicBook.com that he and his team considered inserting a tribute to Lee upon discovering unused audio files of the creative genius from a prior engagement with the show.

“It wasn’t a joke,” Jean said. “We just thought, ‘Oh, we have Stan Lee audio from when he was on our show. Could we cameo him in?’”

However, Marvel summarily nixed the plan due to a new policy they have established concerning the beloved author.

“They said that their policy is he doesn’t cameo now that he’s passed away. Which is a completely understandable policy,” Jean explained. “That was their only note and that was, of course, easily done.”

(15) AGAINST THE GRAINS. “World’s biggest sandcastle constructed in Denmark” reports The Guardian. At 21.16 metres in height, it is more than 3 metres taller than the previous holder, says Guinness World Records.

Its Dutch creator, Wilfred Stijger, was assisted by 30 of the world’s best sand sculptors. He said he wanted the castle to represent the power the coronavirus has had over the world since the beginning of the pandemic. On top of the sandcastle is a model of the virus wearing a crown.

“It’s ruling our lives everywhere,” Stijger said. “It tells you what to do … It tells you to stay away from your family and not go to nice places. Don’t do activities, stay home.”

To make it more cohesive, the sand contains approximately 10% clay and a layer of glue was applied after it was completed so that it could stand up to the chilly and windy conditions of the autumn and winter.

Blokhus residents have been delighted to see local features incorporated into the sandcastle, such as beach houses and lighthouses, as well as depictions of popular activities such as windsurfing and kitesurfing.

The castle is expected to stand until the heavy frost sets in, probably next February or March.

(16) KHAN! Io9 debuted DUST’s “Star Trek Khan William Shatner Scream in Claymation”. The whole thing is 10 seconds long. The lip-quiver preceding the scream is what makes it great.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Danish Road Safety Council reminds people that if you’re going to invade another country you should wear a helmet!

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, James Davis Nicoll, Rich Horton, John A Arkansawyer, Michael Toman, Rich Lynch, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

Marvel Heroes Pay Homage As Captain America Celebrates 80th Anniversary

This year, Marvel Comics is honoring the 80th anniversary of Captain America with a new collection of variant covers. Throughout July, Marvel’s ongoing series will feature reimagined versions of iconic heroes including Black Widow, Miles Morales, and Spider-Man.

See the other seven Captain American 80th Anniversary Variant Covers following the jump.

Continue reading

Pixel Scroll 6/23/21 Second Stage Lesnerizer

(1) STARTING A STORY. This compelling thread starts here.

(2) BUTLER BIO ON THE WAY. Yesterday’s Oprah Daily acknowledged the author’s birthday with an excerpt from a new biography: “Biographical Constellation of Octavia Estelle Butler: Excerpt”.

…But the Nebula and Hugo Award-winning author who explored themes of gender fluidity, climate change, authoritarianism, and the rise of Big Pharma is perhaps more widely read now than ever, and that phenomenon is destined to grow with the publication Star Child: A Biographical Constellation of Octavia Estelle Butler by Ibi Zoboi, due out in January of 2022.

Zoboi, who was a National Book Award finalist for her young adult novel American Street, is not just a Butler devotee, but was mentored by the writer. Now, she has written an ode to her told in poems and prose. Here, Oprah Daily shares an exclusive sneak peak of the forthcoming volume, just in time to say: Happy Birthday Octavia Butler.

(3) THE PLAY’S THE THING. (Except she’s talking about a different play than Hamlet.) Connie Willis shared “Some Midsummer Night’s Dreams for Midsummer Night” on Facebook.

…The first night of our film festival, we watched GET OVER IT, the teen movie with Ben Foster, Kristen Dunst, and Martin Short. Berke, played by Ben Foster, has been dumped by Allison for another guy, so he tries out for the school musical DeFores-Oates (Martin Short) is directing, to try to get her back. He’s helped by Kelly (Kirsten Dunst) who really likes him, but he doesn’t even see her because he’s completely obsessed with getting Hermia back. Sound familiar?

The movie doesn’t do the whole play–there’s no Pyramus and Thisbe and Bottom’s just a walk-on, but there are fairies (including the rapper Sisqo), and a stoned stage crew who double as Puck, and the movie’s surprisingly faithful to the play, except for the ending, when Berke takes things into his own hands. GET OVER IT captures even better than Shakespeare the agony you go through when you’re in love with someone who doesn’t even know you exist.

The second night we watched the 1999 A MIDSUMMER’S NIGHT DREAM (or as I call it, the Ally McBeal version,) starring Calista Flockhart and Christian Bale, with Kevin Kline as Bottom and Stanley Tucci as Puck. It’s a good movie overall and lots of stuff I loved–the lovers flee to the woods on bicycles, Puck is very funny and as much of an annoyance to his boss Oberon, Michelle Pfeiffer makes a sexy and funny Titania, and Max Wright is beyond wonderful as the reluctant actor dragged into the play at the last minute to be the Man in the Moon, with a cigarette dangling from his lip and a dog getting into the act.

But there are three moments of true genius in the play…

(4) GOODBYE TO AMAZON. Amanda S. Greene continues her step-by-step explanation of everything involved in shifting her books away from the Amazon platform in “Moving Forward or Onward or Whatever” at Mad Genius Club. There are a lot of issues that require thoughtful decisions.

 …I knew when I started it more would be involved than just uploading my books to the various storefronts or 3rd party aggregator. I hadn’t anticipated having to retrain myself to think in ways I haven’t since going exclusively with Amazon. 

Without going into too much detail, I had to look at how to get my books into the various storefronts, which storefronts I wanted to go with, etc. Initially, I decided to upload direct to BN, Kobo and Apple. I’d use Draft2Digital for the rest. I’ve changed my mind. The time saved alone by using D2D for everything is worth the few pennies per sale I pay to D2D to handle things for me. All I have to do is upload a generic ePub of the book, fill in the blanks and they do the rest. 

There is an added benefit of allowing them to handle it. Draft2Digital has a “sister” site called Books2Read. I’ve mentioned the site before but I am really starting to appreciate how powerful of a tool it can be for a writer. For example, here’s the landing page for Witchfire Burning. It shows the cover, gives the description and below lists other books (showing covers) I’ve written. It’s a much more attractive landing page than the product page at Amazon. If you click on the “get it now” button, it will take you to a new page where you can choose which storefront you want to visit (and I need to update it to pull in the Amazon link). 

The great thing about something like this is you can use it as your landing page for the book on your website…. 

(5) WE INTERRUPT THIS KERFUFFLE. Michael Swanwick offered “A Few Quiet Words of Thanks for the People Putting on Discon III” at Flogging Babel.

Yesterday, I reserved my hotel room for Discon III. And that put me in mind of the first and only time I was on a con committee.

This was in the 1970s, before I made my first sale. I’d only been to a few science fiction conventions but I knew the guy in charge of putting on a con whose name I conveniently forget and, doubtless for reasons of fannish politics, he filled the committee with his friends, despite the fact we none of us had any experience at the tasks we were assigned.

Long story, short. I did a terrible job. And I’ve never volunteered to serve again. Because even if everything goes perfectly, your reward for putting on a convention is not getting to experience it.

So I’d like to express my gratitude to the Discon III staff, both present and past. That includes everybody who quit for reasons of principle and everybody who decided to tough it out, also for reasons of principle.

This has been a star-crossed year for the Worldcon. I won’t bother to list all the problems: Acts of God, acts of Man, acts of Fans. We all know them. It must have been maddening to be at the white-hot center of them all.

Which makes this a good time to say: Thank you.

(6) FINE DISTINCTION. And one of John Scalzi’s comments:

(7) VISIT FROM THE DOCTOR. Jo Martin will be a guest at Gallifrey One: Thirty Second to Midnight, to be held in LA in February 2022.

It’s with great pleasure that we can now announce that JO MARTIN will be joining us next February as a confirmed guest, for her very first Doctor Who convention appearance in North America!

Jo Martin became an immediately beloved part of Doctor Who mythology when she appeared as Ruth Clayton in series 12’s “Fugitive of the Judoon” opposite Jodie Whittaker… a woman who was, in fact, a previously unknown earlier incarnation of the Doctor herself!  As the landmark first Doctor of color to be shown in the long-running series, she also appeared in the season finale “The Timeless Children.”…

(8) ONLINE PROMETHEUS AWARDS TO INCLUDE LFS-REASON PANEL. The Libertarian Futurist Society couch plans for their online award ceremony in these terms:

In 2021, LFS members will have a rare opportunity to watch and enjoy the annual Prometheus Awards ceremony and an interesting related panel discussion for free online – without having to register for a Worldcon.

Reason magazine will be the media sponsor of the hour-plus panel discussion, which will immediately follow the online half-hour Prometheus Awards ceremony for Best Novel and Best Classic Fiction (Hall of Fame). Reason editor Katherine Mangu-Ward and Reason’s book editor Jesse Walker will join LFS leaders, including board president William H. Stoddard, on the hour-plus panel discussion along with, we hope, the 2021 Prometheus Award-winning novelist (tba).

(9) VETERAN COMICS READER. James Bacon was interviewed by Football Comics Podcast Champ/We are United, as hosts Rab and Gull take a little break from all the footie and have a look at War Comics, covering classic titles like Battle, Commando, Victor, Warlord, and many more. “Champ/We Are United Episode 13: War Comics”.

(10) COSPLAY DATING. Yahoo! says “Singles Dress Up as Creatures for Blind Dates” is the premise of Sexy Beasts.

Given the popularity of The Masked Singer, we can ascertain that viewers enjoy watching people dressed up in strange costumes. And given the general state of reality television over the past two decades, we can also conclude that people enjoy watching people go on bizarre dates. Netflix has endeavored to combine these two irrefutable tenets in one convenient package. Thus, we have Sexy Beasts, in which elaborate-prosthetic-laden singles meet for a night of “nonjudgmental” romance. At least that’s how they’re touting it. Take a look at the trailer, which features dolphins, demons, canids, scarecrows, insects, bovines, and a handful of uncategorizables….

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • June 23, 1976 — On this date in 1976, Logan’s Run premiered. It was directed by Michael Anderson and produced by Saud David. The screenplay by David Zelag Goodman is based on the 1967 Logan’s Run novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. It starred Michael York, Jenny Agutter, Richard Jordan, Roscoe Lee Browne, Farrah Fawcett, and Peter Ustinov. Though critical reception was at best mixed, it was a box success and is considered to have MGM from financial ruin. It was nominated at SunCon, a year in which no film was awarded a Hugo. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an excellent sixty-seven percent rating. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 23, 1945 — Eileen Gunn, 76. Her story “Coming to Terms” based on her friendship with Avram Davidson won the Nebula Award for Best Short Story. Her stories are in Stable Strategies and OthersSteampunk Quartet and Questionable Practices. With L. Timmel Duchamp, she penned The WisCon Chronicles, Vol. 2: Provocative Essays on Feminism, Race, Revolution, and the Future. She’s well stocked at the usual digital suspects. 
  • Born June 23, 1951 — Greg Bear, 70. Blood Music which won both a Nebula Award and a Hugo Award is an amazing read. I’m also very fond of the Songs of Earth and Power duology, The Infinity Concerto and The Serpent Mage, and found his Queen of Angels a fascinating mystery. He’s deeply stocked at the usual suspects. 
  • Born June 23, 1953 — Russell Mulcahy, 68. You’ll likely remember him as directing Highlander, but he was responsible also for Highlander II: The Quickening, but disowned it after the completion-bond company really messed with production. He would later released this film in Highlander II: The Renegade Version. He also directed episodes of The HungerOn The BeachPerversions of Science and Tales from The Crypt
  • Born June 23, 1957 — Frances McDormand, 64. She’s God. Well at least The Voice of God in Good Omens. Which in on Amazon y’all. Her first genre role was in the “Need to Know” episode of Twilight Zone followed shortly thereafter by being Julie Hastings in Sam Raimi’s excellent Dark Man. She’s The Handler in Æon Flux and that’s pretty much everything genre worth noting. 
  • Born June 23, 1963 — Cixin Liu, 58. He’s a winner of a Hugo Award  for The Three-Body Problem and a Locus Award for Death’s End. He also a nine-time recipient of the Galaxy Award, the Chinese State sponsored SFF Awards. Anyone got a clue what’s going on with the alleged Amazon production of The Three-Body Problem as a film? Is it still on? 
  • Born June 23, 1964 — Joss Whedon, 57. I think I first encounter him with the Buffy tv series. And I hold that Angel was far better told. Firefly was a lovely series that ended far too soon. And don’t get me started on the Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Born June 23, 1972 — Selma Blair, 49. Liz Sherman in Hellboy, and Hellboy II: The Golden Army. She voiced the character also in the animated Hellboy: Sword of Storms and Hellboy: Blood and Iron as well. She’s Stevie Wayne in The Fog, a slasher film a few years later and was Cyane on the “Lifeblood” episode of Xena: Warrior Princess. Later on, she’d be Jessica Harris in the “Infestation” episode of Lost in Space. 
  • Born June 23, 2000 — Caitlin Blackwood, 21. She was the young Amelia Pond in these Doctor Who episodes; “The Eleventh Hour”, “The Big Bang”, “Let’s Kill Hitler”, and “The God Complex”, and had a cameo in “The Angels Take Manhattan”.  She’s the cousin of Karen Gillan who plays the adult Pond. No idea how she was cast in the role but it was brilliantly inspired casting!

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld’s cartoon for New Scientist.

(14) WELCOME TO THE NEW WORLD. CrimeReads excerpts a new history of comic books by Paul S. Hirsch: “The Early, Wild, Exploited, and Sometimes Radical Days of the Comic Book Industry in America”.

The American comic book is inseparable from foreign policy, the great twentieth-century battles between capitalism and totalitarianism, and the political goals of the world’s preeminent military and cultural power. The history of the American comic book is a story of visual culture, commerce, race, and policy. These four fields are analogous to the four colors used to print comic books: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. They lie atop one another, smearing, blending, and bleeding to create a complete image. To separate them is to disassemble a coherent whole and to shatter a picture that in its entirety shows us how culture and diplomacy were entangled during the mid-twentieth century.

THE EARLY YEARS, 1935–1945

The period from 1935 to 1945 was defined by images of darkness and light. The comic industry itself—populated by otherwise unemployable immigrants, racial minorities, and political radicals—emerged from the shadows of the New York publishing world….

(15) BOOK RESURRECTION. “’Most of Australia’s literary heritage is out of print’: the fight to rescue a nation’s lost books” in The Guardian.

…This is the unfortunate fate of most books, even literary prize-winners. In fact, of the 62 books that won Australia’s Miles Franklin Award between 1957 and 2019, 23 are currently not available as ebooks, 40 are not available as audiobooks, and 10 are not available anywhere, in any format whatsoever. They’re officially out of print. This is something that Untapped: The Australian Literary Heritage Project is trying to rectify.

“Untapped is a collaboration between authors, libraries and researchers, and it came about because most of Australia’s literary heritage is out of print. You can’t find it anywhere,” says project lead, Associate Professor Rebecca Giblin from Melbourne Law School at the University of Melbourne. “Think about it. If so many Miles Franklin winners are out of print, you can imagine how bad availability must be for memoir, and histories, and other local stories.”

Untapped’s mission is to digitise 200 of Australia’s most important lost books, preserving them for future generations and making them available through a national network of libraries. They include books such as Anita Heiss’s I’m Not Racist, But … (2007) and Frank Hardy’s The Unlucky Australians (1968). “One exciting thing is that all these books will now be part of the National E-deposit scheme,” Giblin says, referring to the legal requirement for all publishers to provide copies of published works to libraries – a framework only recently extended to electronic publishing. “This means they’ll be preserved forever. These books will now be around as long as we have libraries.”

(16) WEIR Q&A. Suspense Radio, a thriller podcast, interviews Andy Weir: “LaunchpadOne: Interview with Andy Weir”.

Andy Weir built a two-decade career as a software engineer until the success of his first published novel, The Martian, allowed him to live out his dream of writing full-time. He is a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of such subjects as relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight. He also mixes a mean cocktail. He lives in California.

(17) ROY HOWARD GOH SPEECH. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The Cromcast has a recording of Roy Thomas’ guest of honor speech at the 2021 Robert E. Howard Days in Cross Plains. Lots of interesting stuff about working at Marvel in the 1960s and 1970s, not just Conan related, though there is a lot of that, too. “Howard Days 2021 – When Conan Went Public!”

(18) BUILDING UP THEIR INVENTORY. James Davis Nicoll knows where the cargo in their holds came from — “Risky Business: Five Books About Interplanetary Trade” at Tor.com.

Humans have, starting in prehistoric times (with obsidian, red ochre, etc.), established vast trade networks that cross mountains, deserts, and oceans. Presumably, this will be true in the future as well, even as humanity expands out into SPAAACE. While there are reasons why larger concerns will tend to dominate, the little guys will often provide more engaging narratives. Thus, these five heartwarming tales of working traders enthusiastically engaging in commerce among the stars…

The Trouble Twisters by Poul Anderson (1966)

Hyperdrive gave humans the stars…also vast fortunes to Polesotechnic League merchant princes like Nicolas van Rijn. Great men cannot be everywhere, however, which is why this collection of short pieces focuses not on van Rijn but his employee, David Falkayn (don’t worry! David eventually gets into management by marrying the boss’s beautiful daughter). Whether upending religious prohibitions, obtaining state secrets, or intervening in bitter ethnic strife, Falkayn and his co-workers always find the solution that delivers profit.

Long after the events in this book, Falkayn would become disenchanted with the League’s conscience-blind focus on immediate profits. This would have regrettable implications for Falkayn’s relationship with van Rijn, but without actually saving the League or humanity from the consequences of the League’s short-sighted policies. But at least they generated lots of profit for the shareholders before the League-armed space barbarians descended from the skies….

(19) SPIDER-MAN BEYOND. A Marvel press release tells me – “Stay tuned tomorrow for information on this exciting new Amazing Spider-Man era from Kelly Thompson, Saladin Ahmed, Cody Ziglar, Patrick Gleason, and Zeb Wells!”

(20) MARVEL MARKETING. Did that previous item come from this guy? This video from Screen Rant, which dropped today, features Ryan George as master marketer Normantula McMan, who says, “I get butts in seats.  I influence butts in ways you can’t imagine.”  And McMan knows butts, because his grandpa came up with the idea that four out of five doctors recommended a particular smoke!

(21) ASTRONAUTS TO EXPERIENCE TIDE EFEFCT. Yep, here’s the science entry in today’s Scroll courtesy of the AP: “Dirty laundry in space? NASA, Tide tackle cleaning challenge”. It turns out there’s a simple reason why the International Space Station smells like an old gym sock.

How do astronauts do laundry in space? They don’t.

They wear their underwear, gym clothes and everything else until they can’t take the filth and stink anymore, then junk them.

NASA wants to change that — if not at the International Space Station, then the moon and Mars — and stop throwing away tons of dirty clothes every year, stuffing them in the trash to burn up in the atmosphere aboard discarded cargo ships. So it’s teamed up with Procter & Gamble Co. to figure out how best to clean astronauts’ clothes in space so they can be reused for months or even years, just like on Earth.

The Cincinnati company announced Tuesday that it will send a pair of Tide detergent and stain removal experiments to the space station later this year and next, all part of the galactic battle against soiled and sweaty clothes….

(22) RETURN TO SENDER. Yahoo! draws our attention to a remarkable working model: “Fan-Made Captain America Shield Actually Bounces Back”.

…We have to give big props to the YouTuber here. Unlike other “make your own Cap shield” videos, he didn’t go the drone route. Which is kind of cheating. The MCU shield bounces after all, it doesn’t fly. According to their own description, the shield they made was created with carbon fiber with a fiberglass ring, to provide bounce while keeping maximum strength. The shield also magnetically connects to the user’s wrist, and can be thrown overhand just like Cap. We think the final results are pretty darn impressive….

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Hampus Eckerman, Cora Buhlert, James Davis Nicoll, Olav Rokne, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Double Americas

Marvel’s America Chavez and Captain America are each making news!

AMERICA CHAVEZ DISCOVERS SHOCKING NEW TRUTHS BEHIND HER ORIGIN. Her latest series, America Chavez: Made In The USA! written by Kalinda Vasquez (Once Upon a TimeMarvel’s Runaways) with art by Carlos Gómez (Amazing Mary Jane), is packed with revelations about the breakout hero’s fascinating origins and promising future. Not only has she encountered Catalina, a mysterious woman claiming to be America’s sister, but she’s learned that her home dimension, the Utopian Parallel, may not even exist! These shocking moments combined with an intimate new look at her Washington Heights upbringing have made this explosive story a critically acclaimed hit but the greatest reveals are still to come…

 AMERICA CHAVEZ: MADE IN THE USA #4 (OF 5)

Written by KALINDA VAZQUEZ; Art by CARLOS GÓMEZ; Colors by JESUS ABURTOV; Cover by SARA PICHELLI (MAY210650); Variant Cover by MARC ASPINALL (MAY210651)

AMERICA CHAVEZ: MADE IN THE USA #5 (OF 5)

Written by KALINDA VAZQUEZ; Art by CARLOS GÓMEZ; Cover by SARA PICHELLI (JUN210699); Variant Cover by NATACHA BUSTOS (JUN210700)

A NEW LOCAL CAP IN UNITED STATES OF CAPTAIN AMERICA #4. Get your first look at Ari Agbayani, a new Captain America-inspired hero debuting this September.

Written by Christopher Cantwell with art by Dale Eaglesham, the upcoming limited series will see Steve Rogers teaming up with Captain Americas of the past—Bucky Barnes, Sam Wilson, and John Walker—on a road trip across America to find his stolen shield. On sale in September, issue #4 will reveal the true magnitude of the forces arrayed against them, including the return of some of Captain America’s most sinister foes…

In addition to featuring the ultimate Captain America team-up, this groundbreaking series will also introduce a diverse cast of new heroes and spotlight the communities they are part of and the unique challenges they face. Cantwell and Eaglesham are joined each issue by an all-star lineup of creative teams who will dive even deeper into the origins and motivations of these new shield-bearers in special backup stories. In United States Of Captain America #4, fans will meet Ari Agbayani.

Created by writer Alyssa Wong (Star Wars: Doctor Aphra) and Jodi Nishijima (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Ari is a local Captain America-inspired hero who seeks justice on her college campus. When her school turns a blind eye to fellow students behaving badly, she springs into action—and she’s not afraid to fight dirty. Here’s what Wong had to say about the inspiration behind this new Marvel hero:

“When editor Alanna Smith approached me about creating a new, local Captain America for this series, I immediately knew I wanted to write a Filipino-American girl. There just aren’t very many of us in comics! I grew up without a Filipino-American community for the most part, so every time I see a Filipino character, I get excited. And getting to create one–a Captain America, even!–feels incredibly special. 

“Ari Agbayani is a scholarship student at a small, private university. When she finds out her best friend is being victimized by a wealthy legacy student, Ari is determined to make things right. But what can she do when her college is only concerned with keeping its donors happy, and half the buildings on campus are named after her best friend’s abuser? In order to take him down, she’ll have to get creative. 

“Like the other Caps, Ari has a strong sense of justice and admires the ideals Captain America embodies. But the Captain America she’s inspired by isn’t Steve Rogers–it’s Bucky Barnes. Someone who hates bullies as much as Steve does, but is willing to use sneakier, shadier tactics to deal with them. Ari’s a vigilante, and she knows that you can’t always win by playing by the rules. Bucky’s influence is reflected in her costume, designed by the incredible Jodi Nishijima.

“Jodi has done such a great job bringing Ari to life. Her art is so playful, charming, and fun. It’s been an honor to co-create Ari with her!”

See one of the mysterious villains the Captains will be facing off against in Gerald Parel’s below. And check out Ari Agbayani on Marvel’s Stormbreaker Peach Momoko’s variant cover as well as design sheets by Jodi Nishijima.

[Based on a press release.]

Pixel Scroll 6/17/21 Had We Scrolls Enough, And Time, These Pixels, Filer, Were No Crime

(1) STATHOPOULOS ON TV. The Age’s reviewer Debi Enker manages to put Nick Stathopoulos’ TV appearance in a good light in an otherwise snarky piece: “Three-part documentary Finding the Archibald and weekly magazine show Art Works can’t fix ABC TV’s coverage of the arts”. Nick is a past Hugo, BSFA Award, and Chesley nominee who’s won Australia’s Ditmar Award 10 times. He also designed the Aussiecon 4 (2010) Hugo base.  

Actor and presenter Rachel Griffiths, Nick Stathopoulos and Deng Adut in Finding The Archibald. ABC

… The series about “the Archie” arrives in the popular prize’s centenary year. Producer, writer and director Griffiths endeavours to establish her cred as host by telling us that she is the daughter of an art teacher and the wife of a painter, as well as “an actor who’s spent her whole life trying to understand the human condition”.

Apparently, a survey of the Archibald’s history and consideration of what it might reflect about our country isn’t sufficient: the production requires some tricking up. So Griffiths embarks on a mission to select a single portrait that she believes “captures the changing face of Australia and will stand the test of time”.

She interviews a range of artists who have submitted portraits to the prize, as well as people who have posed for them, and ponders the question of what makes a great portrait. She also poses for one herself.

Meanwhile, the series also follows Natalie Wilson as she curates an exhibition of 100 portraits to accompany the NSW Art Gallery’s display of this year’s entrants. Her search involves thousands of emails sent in an effort to locate past Archibald entries. Fortunately, Sherlock Griffiths is on hand to help her find the one of Molly Meldrum, which is hanging in the first place that anyone might look for it: his house….

(2) EARNING PENNIES FROM A DEAD MAN’S EYES. The Rite Gud podcast wonders aloud: “H.P. Lovecraft: Why We Can Stop Flogging His Dead Bloated Corpse”.

In today’s sci-fi/ fantasy community, it’s fashionable to dig up H.P. Lovecraft and put him on trial as the avatar of everything wrong with speculative fiction. While we won’t defend Lovecraft’s abhorrent social values, we have to ask: what is the point of this? What do we gain by canceling a man who is now a dusty skeleton mouldering in the dirt? Are we really reckoning with genre fiction’s bigoted past, or are we just looking for a way to distract from our contemporary problems?

In this episode, Karlo Yeager Rodríguez joins us to talk about horror, colonialism, and Captain Picard’s dangerous space dumps.

(3) BLUE PLATE SPECIALS REMAIN ON MENU. “English Heritage recognises Blyton and Kipling’s racism – but blue plaques to stay” reports The Guardian.

English Heritage has acknowledged the “racism, xenophobia and lack of literary merit” in Enid Blyton’s writing, and the “racist and imperialist sentiments” of Rudyard Kipling, as part of its ongoing efforts to better reflect today’s values in its blue plaques.

While English Heritage’s blue plaques commemorating both authors remain unchanged, the charity’s online information about both now goes into detail about the problematic aspects of their writing and views.

English Heritage notes online how in 1960, Macmillan refused to publish Blyton’s children’s novel The Mystery That Never Was, noting her “faint but unattractive touch of old-fashioned xenophobia”. It would go on to be published by William Collins….

English Heritage has also noted the views of Kipling, who is still commemorated with a blue plaque at 43 Villiers St in London where he lived between 1889 and 1891.

English Heritage’s online information for Kipling now highlights how his political views “have been widely criticised for their racist and imperialist sentiments”. It points in particular to works such as The White Man’s Burden “with its offensive description of ‘new-caught, sullen peoples, half devil and half child’” which “sought to portray imperialism as a mission of civilisation”.

It also highlights that “George Orwell found Kipling’s attitude to instances of colonial brutality ‘morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting’, but admitted the importance of his work to him in his younger life.”

(4) STATION-TO-STATION. Abigail Nussbaum is a big fan of this, as shown by her “Five Comments on The Underground Railroad at Asking the Wrong Questions.

The Underground Railroad is a stone cold masterpiece, one that not only shoulders the challenging task of adapting the novel it was based on with seeming ease, but that breaks new ground in terms of what television can be and how it can achieve its effect. It deserves sustained, continued discussion and exploration. So this post isn’t a review—I’m not sure I feel equal to that—so much as a series of observations, ones that will hopefully get more people to watch the show, and talk about it….

(5) BROMANCE, ROMANCE, NUANCE. In “Anthony Mackie on Sam & Bucky’s ‘Bromance’ on Falcon & Winter Soldier” in Variety, the new Captain America tells things from his perspective.

…So getting to wear the costume, hold the shield, and call himself Captain America — as Wilson does in the Marvel comics — was somewhat overwhelming for Mackie.

“Having if not one of my bucket lists, the bucket list moment happen, is not so much about becoming Captain America — it’s about having my dreams realized,” he says. “It’s very humbling when, you know, you get the opportunity that you’ve always dreamed of.”

The other half of Sam’s journey on the show is the transformation of his relationship with Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) from simmering resentment to a lasting and profound friendship. That translated into several scenes of emotional and physical familiarity between Sam and Bucky that some fans interpreted as a budding romance — similar to how some Marvel fans desired Bucky and the first Captain America, Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers, to be a couple.

Mackie points out that he’s played in these kinds of waters before, in an episode of “Black Mirror” in which he and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II star as best friends who play an immersive, virtual reality video game that allows them to simulate being a man and woman in a sexual relationship. But he resists an interpretation that Sam and Bucky are sexually or romantically attracted to each other.

“So many things are twisted and convoluted. There’s so many things that people latch on to with their own devices to make themselves relevant and rational,” he says. “The idea of two guys being friends and loving each other in 2021 is a problem because of the exploitation of homosexuality. It used to be guys can be friends, we can hang out, and it was cool. You would always meet your friends at the bar, you know. You can’t do that anymore, because something as pure and beautiful as homosexuality has been exploited by people who are trying to rationalize themselves. So something that’s always been very important to me is showing a sensitive masculine figure. There’s nothing more masculine than being a superhero and flying around and beating people up. But there’s nothing more sensitive than having emotional conversations and a kindred spirit friendship with someone that you care about and love.”

“Sam and Steve had a relationship where they admired, appreciated and loved each other,” Mackie continues. “Bucky and Sam have a relationship where they learn how to accept, appreciate and love each other. You’d call it a bromance, but it’s literally just two guys who have each other’s backs.”…

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • June 17, 1960 –  The Twilight Zone’s “The Mighty Casey.”

What you’re looking at is a ghost, once alive but now deceased. Once upon a time, it was a baseball stadium that housed a major league ball club known as the Hoboken Zephyrs. Now it houses nothing but memories and a wind that stirs in the high grass of what was once an outfield, a wind that sometimes bears a faint, ghostly resemblance to the roar of a crowd that once sat here. We’re back in time now, when the Hoboken Zephyrs were still a part of the National League, and this mausoleum of memories was an honest-to-Pete stadium. But since this is strictly a story of make believe, it has to start this way: once upon a time, in Hoboken, New Jersey, it was tryout day. And though he’s not yet on the field, you’re about to meet a most unusual fella, a left-handed pitcher named Casey. — Opening narration 

It’s almost summer, so let’s have a baseball story. On this day in 1960, The Twilight Zone first aired “The Mighty Casey” in which a down-and-out baseball team’s fortunes are lifted by a mysterious but seemingly unbeatable young player. It was directed by Robert Parrish and Alvin Ganzer, and of course written by Rod Serling. Cast was Jack Warden as McGarry, Robert Sorrells as Casey and Abraham Sofaer as Dr. Stillman. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 17, 1898 — M. C. Escher. Dutch artist whose work was widely used to illustrate genre works such as the 1967 Harper & Row hardcover of Kate Wilhelm’s Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, or Berkley Books 1996 cover of Clive Barker’s Athens Damnation Game. (Died 1972.)
  • Born June 17, 1903 — William Bogart. Pulp fiction writer. He is best remembered for writing several Doc Savage novels using the pseudonym Kenneth Robeson. Actually he’s responsible for thirteen of the novels, a goodly share of the number done. It’s suggested that most of his short stories were Doc Savage pastiches. (Died 1977.)
  • Born June 17, 1927 — Wally Wood. Comic book writer, artist and independent publisher, best known for his work on EC Comics’ Mad magazine, Marvel’s Daredevil, and Topps’s landmark Mars Attacks set. He was the inaugural inductee into the comic book industry’s Jack Kirby Hall of Fame, and was later inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame. (Died 1981.)
  • Born June 17, 1931 — Dean Ing. I reasonably sure the first thing I read by him was Soft Targets and I know I read all of his Man-Kzin Wars stories as I went through a phase of reading all that popcorn literature set in Niven’s universe. His “Devil You Don’t Know” novelette was nominated at Seacon ‘79. I also liked  his L-5 Community series. (Died 2020.)
  • Born June 17, 1941 — William Lucking, 80. Here because he played Renny in Doc Savage: Man of Bronze. (I know I’ve seen it, but I’ll be damn if I remember much about it.)  He’s also had one-offs in Mission: ImpossibleThe Incredible HulkThe American HeroThe QuestVoyagersX-FilesThe Lazarus ManMilleniumDeep Space Nine and Night Stalker
  • Born June 17, 1953 — Phyllis Weinberg, 68. She’s a fan who was married to fellow fan Robert E. Weinberg. She co-edited the first issue of The Weird Tales Collector. She co-chaired World Fantasy Convention 1996. 
  • Born June 17, 1982 — Arthur Darvill, 39. Actor who has had two great roles. The first was playing Rory Williams, one of the Eleventh Doctor’s companions. The second, and to my mind the more interesting of the two, was playing the time-traveler Rip Hunter in the Legends of Tomorrow. He also played Seymour Krelborn in The Little Shop of Horrors at the Midlands Arts Centre, and Mephistopheles in Doctor Faustus at Shakespeare’s Globe.  
  • Born June 17, 1982 — Jodie Whittaker, 39. The Thirteenth Doctor now in her third series and hopefully not final one. She played Ffion Foxwell in the Black Mirror‘s “The Entire History of You”, and was Samantha Adams in Attack the Block, a horror SF film. 

(7A) NUTS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is from a review by Robert Armstrong of Charlie Brown’s America: The Popular Politics of Peanuts by Blake Scott Ball in the June 12 Financial Times.  Armstrong notes that Charles Schultz was a World War II veteran.

Snoopy’s alternative identity as a first world war flying ace–with his dog-house propeller plane–was a childhood favourite.  It never occurred to me to read the strips as commentaries on the Vietnam War.  Yet they were.  It is telling that Snoopy never defeated the Red Baron, and equally notable that the strips became more bleak as the war went on.’I’m exhausted,’ Snoopy complains in 1971. ‘this stupid war is too much.’  Readers got the message:  Schultz supported the fighting man, but not the war.  The soldiers in Asia got it too.

(8) STRACZYNSKI BOOK LAUNCH. J. Michael Straczynski will do a Zoom book launch for his new non-sf novel Together We Will Go on Tuesday, July 6 at 5:30 p.m. Central. Free to attend, registration required. Register here.

Known for his groundbreaking work across television, comics, films, and more, award-winning and bestselling author J. Michael Straczynski joins us to celebrate the publication day of Together We Will Go (Gallery/Scout Press), his stirring first foray into literary fiction. A powerful tale of a struggling young writer who assembles a busload of fellow disheartened people on a journey toward death, Together We Will Go grapples with the biggest questions of existence while finding small moments of the beauty in this world that often goes unnoticed. As Straczynski’s travelers cross state lines and complications to the initial plan arise, it becomes clear that this novel is as much about the will to live as the choice to end it—and that it’s a book readers will remember for a lifetime.

(9) THREE TAIKONAUTS REACH CHINA’S SPACE STATION. AP News covers the moment as “Chinese crew enters new space station on 3-month mission”.

Three Chinese astronauts arrived Thursday at China’s new space station at the start of a three-month mission, marking another milestone in the country’s ambitious space program.

Their Shenzhou-12 craft connected with the space station module about six hours after taking off from the Jiuquan launch center on the edge of the Gobi Desert.

About three hours later, commander Nie Haisheng, 56, followed by Liu Boming, 54, and space rookie Tang Hongbo, 45, opened the hatches and floated into the Tianhe-1 core living module. Pictures showed them busy at work unpacking equipment.

“This represents the first time Chinese have entered their own space station,” state broadcaster CCTV said on its nightly news broadcast.

The crew will carry out experiments, test equipment, conduct maintenance and prepare the station for receiving two laboratory modules next year. The mission brings to 14 the number of astronauts China has launched into space since 2003, becoming only the third country after the former Soviet Union and the United States to do so on its own.

(10) MORE POWER. Netflix dropped a trailer for How I Became a Superhero. Airs July 9.

Who are the real superheroes? In a world where humans and superheroes coexist, a lone wolf cop teams up with a brilliant detective to dismantle a dark organization trafficking superpowers.

(11) REH IN THE COMICS. The Cromcast: A Weird Fiction Podcast lets you listen in to a panel from the recent get-together in Cross Plains: “Howard Days 2021 – REH in the Comics!”

This conversation from Friday, June 11th, at the First United Methodist Church in Cross Plains, Texas. The panel focuses on the history of Robert E. Howard’s characters and stories presented in a comic book format. Mark Finn moderates Roy Thomas, Fred Blosser, Patrice Louinet, and Jay Zetterberg. 

(12) REBORN SERIES CONTINUES. Jenna Greene is a teacher and author whose novel, Reborn, won the 2019 Moonbeam Children’s Book award. She is the co-host of Quill & Ink: A Podcast for Book Lovers.

In Reborn, a character tries to escape her fate:

The marks on Lexil’s skin state she is a Reborn – someone who has lived before. As such, she must toil in service to those who have only one chance at life. Sold at auction, she is fearful but accepting of her new life. Everything changes when she must save a young child from a fate worse than death.

With the help of a new ally named Finn, she flees to the Wastelands. There she struggles to survive, while discovering more about herself, the world, and what it truly means to be Reborn.

Now, in the series’ second book, Renew, Lexil and Finn are forced to venture back into the Wastelands:

The Unclaimed Cities are not the idyllic setting Lexil, Finn, and Ceera thought it would be. This new land has challenges of its own – which they soon discover.

When Lexil and Finn return to the Wastelands, they are accompanied by Kaylen, someone they can’t decide is a friend or foe.

(13) MEMORY JOGGER. B-Side Books from Columbia University Press has some writers you’ve heard of advocating for books they hope you’ll love, too. Got to love this cover, anyway!

…What do you do when a book that you love has been neglected or dismissed by everyone else? In B-Side Books, leading writers, critics, and scholars show why their favorite forgotten books deserve a new audience. From dusty westerns and far-out science fiction to obscure Czech novelists and romance-novel precursors, the contributors advocate for the unsung virtues of overlooked books. They write about unheralded novels, poetry collections, memoirs, and more with understanding, respect, passion, and love.

In these thoughtful, often personal essays, contributors—including Stephanie Burt, Caleb Crain, Merve Emre, Ursula K. Le Guin, Carlo Rotella, and Namwali Serpell—read books by writers such as Helen DeWitt, Shirley Jackson, Stanislaw Lem, Dambudzo Marechera, Paule Marshall, and Charles Portis.

(14) BIG FANS OF BUGS. “Entomologists discover dozens of new beetle species—and name some after iconic sci-fi heroines”Phys.org has the story.

… Fast forward to now and there are thousands of ambrosia beetle species, including more than 70 of the Coptoborus genus—and counting. In christening the new beetles, Smith and Cognato got some inspiration by finding similarities between the beetle and its namesake.

For instance, the C. uhura was given its name because its reddish color, reminiscent of the uniform worn by Nichelle Nichols’s Uhura character in the original “Star Trek” TV series.

And Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley character in the “Alien” film franchise had a shaved head in the movie “Alien 3.” One of the beetles, now named C. ripley, was also glabrous, or without hair.

Other names were selected because the duo just liked the characters and found them inspiring. For example, the C. scully beetle was named after Dana Scully, Gillian Anderson’s character on “The X-Files.”

The character is also behind what’s known as the “Scully Effect.” By showing a successful female scientist on TV, the show helped raise awareness of science, technology, engineering and mathematics—or STEM—professions among young women.

In their paper, Smith and Cognato wrote, “We believe in the ‘Scully Effect’ and hope future female scientists, real and fictional, continue to inspire children and young adults to pursue STEM careers.”…

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. And here’s “How The Falcon And The Winter Soldier Should Have Ended”.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Cora Buhlert, Moshe Feder, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]

Captain America of the Railways and Joe Gomez

By James Bacon: United States of Captain America will debut Aaron Fischer and Joe Gomez.

Marvel Comics announced a number of new Captain America’s to appear in the upcoming mini series,  United States of Captain America

While I am very excited by Aaron Fischer the Captain America of the Railways, who will debut shortly, I expect the next Captain America debut, Joe Gomez may be of interest to many. 

Created by geoscientist and Lipan Apache writer Darcie Little Badger and Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation artist David Cutler, Joe Gomez, the newest member of the Captain America ranks will make his debut in The United States of Captain America #3

“Something I love about Joe is his day job. It represents everything he stands for as a hero,” Little Badger explained. “See, Joe Gomez is a construction worker, a builder in a world plagued by destruction. Every time a spaceship crashes into a bridge or a supervillain transforms a whole city block into rubble, people like Joe make things whole again. Work like that may seem thankless, but Joe genuinely enjoys helping his community survive and thrive. That’s why he won’t charge elders for home repair services (the Joe Gomez senior discount is 100%). That’s also why he’s willing to risk his life to save others. I know lots of people like Joe–many of them my Indigenous relatives–so it was wonderful to help develop a character with his values, strength, and extreme crane-operating skills.”

Returning to the Captain America of the Railways, Aaron Fischer, will debut in issue #1’s main and in a secondary story written by Joshua Trujillo with art by Jan Bazaldua, both of whom also created the character.

Trujillo said in Marvel’s press release: “Aaron is inspired by heroes of the queer community: activists, leaders, and everyday folks pushing for a better life. He stands for the oppressed, and the forgotten. I hope his debut story resonates with readers, and helps inspire the next generation of heroes.”

“I want to thank Editor Alanna Smith and Joshua Trujillo very much for asking me to create Aaron. I really enjoyed designing him, and as a transgender person, I am happy to be able to present an openly gay person who admires Captain America and fights against evil to help those who are almost invisible to society. While I was drawing him, I thought, well, Cap fights against super-powerful beings and saves the world almost always, but Aaron helps those who walk alone in the street with problems that they face every day. I hope people like the end result!” said Bazaldua, herself a trans woman. 

USCA will start once Ta-Nehisi Coates ends his run, which is a bit bittersweet, given his brilliance with the title and further characters may be presented. Many characters who have appeared in Captain America have remained in the Marvel universe, so we could see more of these Captain Americas. 

The mini series follows Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson, as Captain America’s Shield is stolen and they go on a road trip around America, and on the journey find many Captain Americas. The first issue features John Walker and Bucky Barnes next to Steve and Sam on the cover by Alex Ross.