Tagged: Deadpool

Emily S. Whitten: Zachary Levi– Thor 2, First Date & Nerd Machine

Whitten Art 131025I’ve always been a fan of musicals and have seen a fair few on Broadway – from the musical that was an actual yearly field trip for eight graders in my New Jersey school, Cats, to that great production of Les Miserables with the rotating stage. I’ve also been a fan of the TV show Chuck from its debut all the way through the final season. So when Zachary Levi mentioned during the Nerd HQ panel I attended at SDCC that he was going to be starring in a musical on Broadway, First Date, I knew I had to see it.

Fortunately, the New York Comic Con was already on my calendar, so before the con I went to see First Date – and boy, am I glad I did! I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard throughout a live show in… well, maybe ever. And yet there was also substance and seriousness to the plot and characterization that balanced out the humor, a perfect blend of entertainment and wry and wise observations about life, human nature, and the modern dating world.

The premise of the show is pretty simple – it’s about a blind first date, and all of the things that might go wrong or right in that situation. But it’s not just about the couple on the blind date, Aaron and Casey. As the website says, during the date “Casey and Aaron’s inner critics take on a life of their own when other restaurant patrons transform into supportive best friends, manipulative exes and protective parents, who sing and dance them through ice-breakers, appetizers and potential conversational land mines.” Is that as awesome and hilarious as it sounds? Yes, yes it is; and the cast portraying those characters, from Zac Levi and Krysta Rodriguez as the main couple, to the other five actors who are often playing more than one character, is stellar, and gave an energetic and engaging performance.

The main couple are a hoot to watch, being quirky and many-faceted all on their own; but the supporting cast is what really allows this musical to explore so many perspectives. From the “perfect” older sister who has the married life that Casey says she wants, to Aaron’s manipulative ex, to Casey’s flamboyant best friend who is also her designated “bail out call” person for if the date isn’t going well. The other characters in the main couple’s life do a great job embodying the pressures and influences people can experience while they’re out dating and trying to find “The One.” And while the premise is simple, the territory explored by the plot is broad, and ranges over everything from potential religious differences to how our online footprint might affect us in real life.

Broad as it may be, though, the plot flows easily and the production is well-designed and choreographed. Overall, the musical is clever, witty, and frequently hilarious. It’s insightful and endearing; if you’ve ever been a single person trying to do the dating thing, it’s also very easy to identify with… and maybe even learn from. The only other thing I can say about it is: Go see it! You won’t regret it.

You also won’t regret reading on, because after seeing First Date, I was fortunate to also be able to talk to Zac Levi about it and the rest of his career at The Nerd Machine booth at NYCC. Here’s the interview!

•     •     •     •     •

Let’s first talk about the Broadway musical you’re currently starring in, First Date, because I just saw it, and I loved it – especially the song about the ex; you knocked that out of the park.
Thank you! Yeah, that’s a fun song.

So how did you get involved in that production, and can you talk about your previous stage experience?

Well, I grew up doing a lot of theater when I was a kid. The last show I did was about twelve years ago; and I always dreamt about doing Broadway one day. Fortunately, I’ve been really blessed, and I’ve been able to do film and television for the last dozen years; but I was just kind of waiting for the right opportunity, and then this show came along and I just felt like, “you know, this could be really fun.” It’s an hour and a half, no intermission, it’s a comedy, there are only seven people in the cast – it’s lean and mean and I thought “I think people might really enjoy this.” And people have, and so it’s been great.

Great; and I know it’s running now. For people who want to see it, how long will it run?

Well, the idea is for the show to run indefinitely. My contract for the show is up the first week of January. There’s a possibility that I could extend, but I don’t know that for sure – it just depends on what work looks like at that time. So I would say that if you really want to see me in the show, you should come before the beginning of January. But I would tell anybody – you never know with Broadway stuff, the show could close so fast. So if you want to come see the show, come see the show now!

Yes! It looked like you were having a lot of fun in the show, and I know you’ve done TV, movies, voice acting and stage. Do you have any thoughts about those different experiences?

They’re all very different. I don’t know that I like any one more than the others. They all have their unique set of challenges and fun that can be had.

Did you come to the stage first?

Yes; I mean, as a kid, that’s what you do. There are not a lot of kids doing, like, community voiceover work. You have community theater and school theater. So stage was definitely where I started.

What was your first ever role?

Of an actual production? I think it was Sonny, one of the T-Birds in Grease. I think I was about eleven.

That’s pretty cool! So I have to ask, with First Date – do you identify with the musical at all? Because I was watching it and thinking, “I’ve so been there.” Or, “My friend has been there.”

Sure, yeah. I think that’s part of the reason why I wanted to do it, and why I think a lot of people enjoy it, is because it’s very relatable. So definitely I do. In fact, in some ways I almost didn’t do the show, because I felt like the character was so similar to Chuck, and I was like, “I’ve already played that character” but then I thought, “Well, yeah, but it’s just a fun way to do it – on stage, with some music.”

I was actually thinking that – it’s a little bit like Chuck, but I think you brought enough to the character that they had written that it wasn’t Chuck – it was Aaron.

Right, it’s not – it was similar, but they’re not the same.

Well I really enjoyed it! Now, I know that you are in Thor: The Dark World, which is coming out really soon, and I’m super excited. Every time I see the trailer on TV I clap. So tell us about being Fandral the Dashing.

Well, Fandral is this Errol Flynn-Lothario type who’s a ladies man, but also arguably the best swordsman in Asgard – or the Nine Realms, I think he would argue. And I mean, the movie is really still Thor and Jane; it’s their movie.

How much do we get of you and the other Warriors Three and Sif?

I really don’t know, because you never know how much of what you shot ends up in it; but I hope there are at least a few cool moments where people go, “Yeah! That kicked ass!” That’s all I’m hoping.

You were originally cast in that and then you were replaced by Josh Dallas due to your schedule; and now you’ve replaced him due to his schedule.

Yeah, it was very, very strange how that all worked. We’ve definitely joked about it – I’ve met Josh before, and he’s just a sweetheart of a guy and super talented, and it was very funny how all of that ended up panning out. But I was grateful that ultimately – after having completely let go of the job, because I thought “this is never happening” – then it came back around. That was kind of like, “Wow, this is very strange.”

Totally. Now I know you’re a comics fan; are you a fan of Thor comics? Had you read about your character before the movie role?

I was definitely familiar with Fandral to an extent, but I really got to know him actually when the first movie came around and I was getting cast; and then a little bit more for this one. But honestly, there’s not that much to find in the comics. The Warriors Three are definitely within Thor mythology, but there’s not that much.

Yes – they help with things but aren’t really the focus.

Yes; but in some ways that’s kind of fun, because it allows you to put your own mark on something, where fanboys and fangirls aren’t like, “Waitaminute! That’s not Fandral!”

Definitely! Do you think it’s still true to the character that you’ve seen in the comics?

I think so. It’s funny, Thor was never really my steez, necessarily. Like, I had Thor comics, and particularly with the Avengers.

I have to admit, I’m the same way. I love the movie, but Thor was always the guy I was sort of reading about on the side, because he was on the periphery of a story or part of a team.

Yeah, and I don’t know, for me – because everybody’s got their flavor of what entices them the most in the comic world –I really liked the mutant world probably the most.

Yeah! The X-Men and all that.

And X-Factor, and X-Force.

And actually, on that note, my favorite character is Deadpool; and I heard you mention that he’s your favorite character.

He’s my favorite villain, yeah.

Well he’s not always a villain! He did save the world…

Well – when I grew up reading him, in the beginning, he was a villain, through and through.

Yeah, in the beginning he was. So do you have a favorite writer or storyline or anything?

Oh, gosh! I don’t know that I could speak to that. I’m mostly nerdy about video games and technology…

What are you playing right now, video game-wise?

I’m actually not really playing anything right now. I left my Xbox back in L.A., because I really wanted to focus on doing the play, and I knew that the new Xbox was coming out in November, so I was like, “I’m just going to wait for that.” And then I’ll probably get lost in Call of Duty: Ghosts. I’ll be lost in that for months and months and months and months.

I bet. So we talked a bit about your voiceover work. You were one of the leads in Tangled. What was your experience like, doing that? Was that your first real big voiceover work?

Oh, yeah! Pretty much my first and only voiceover work. It was amazing. Ever since I was a little kid, I was a giant Disney fan, so to be able to get to do a Disney animated musical – what I’d dreamt about doing my whole life – was like, “Wow, this is really happening.” And singing Alan Menken’s music and everything.

Do you want to do more voiceover?

Oh, totally; I’d love to.

And some of the voice acting greats were in Tangled – like Frank Welker… did you get to work directly with Frank, or John DiMaggio, or some of the other career voice actors?

No; in fact, I didn’t get to work with any of them! I didn’t even get to work with Mandy (Moore). The only time Mandy and I ever worked together is when we recorded the song. But all of the dialogue is all recorded totally separately.

Let’s talk about The Nerd Machine, now, because we’re standing here in your awesome place with phone chargers and photo ops and everything–

In mah booth!

Yeah! Now when did you start The Nerd Machine?

The Nerd Machine started… I think maybe it was 2011. We started the company about a year before we had the first actual Nerd HQ. We launched with just one t-shirt. With just the classic “NERD.” And the idea was just, “I wanted to make a Nike for nerds.” Because there are so many different nerd-doms, right? And if you’re a Doctor Who fan, you can get a Doctor Who shirt. And if you’re a Star Wars fan, you can get a Star Wars shirt; and that’s great. But I really wanted to have one brand that unified all of them, so no matter what you’re nerdy about, you can just represent it very simply, very clearly: “I’m a nerd; that’s what I’m about.” So that’s what we’ve built on through the years, and our branding is simple, and it’s straight. It’s like “We’re a brand for you.”

Yes – so I have to ask, why “nerd” and not “geek”?

A couple of reasons. One, phonetically I like how nerd sounds more than I like geek. Geek is a little too hard consonant. And there was just a lot of wordplay that I was thinking about, like “Nerd is the word” and all that kind of stuff. But honestly, one of the biggest was, the first shirt that I had ever thought of was the original NERD shirt; and the reason why it works so well is because it’s the Nintendo sort of font… so it’s funny, the reason why you end up deciding what something is going to ultimately be. And the other reason, too, was that I felt like “geek” was being used a lot online with Geekology and Geek Chic, and all that, and I wanted to get away from that and do my own thing. By the way – I was totally unaware of Nerdist at the time! I knew Chris (Hardwick), but I wasn’t even thinking about it.

Well, and his brand has gotten exponentially bigger since then.

Oh, yeah. He’s a friggin’ empire!

Yeah. Now, The Nerd Machine benefits Operation Smile, which I think is great. What drew you to that particular charity?

I really think God kind of spoke to me. I was trying to find a charity that I could be an ambassador for. You know, as a celebrity, you do a lot of non-profit stuff, and you’re always asked, “What’s your charity of choice?” and I never really had one. So I was about to do another singing engagement/charity benefit thing, and I was like, “What could be a cool charity to benefit?” and I was praying about it, and thinking about it, and then in one week I saw about five commercials and five billboards. And I was like, “Oh – I believe this is what I’m supposed to cling to.”

That’s great. So tell me, what is the future of The Nerd Machine? I know that it’s gotten a little bigger since 2011, and I like the fact that it’s still being kept to a smaller scale.

Yeah, we’re always going to maintain the intimacy of our activations. The company will continue to grow, and we’ll continue to do more things, but the idea is to always keep those events as things that are special.

Are you planning to do what you did at San Diego at one of the future New York cons?

Yeah, in fact the original idea was that we were going to do a Nerd HQ out here in New York. It’s difficult. San Diego Comic Con brings every star in the world. And so it’s easy then to be like, “Hey, would you mind popping by for an hour and doing a panel?” NYCC is getting there. NYCC has a lot of talent now, and is growing more and more every year… But it doesn’t quite have the same; so in order for us to get the sponsorship money to put on our own little con like that – you really need to be able to bring the talent. So maybe in the future.

Great! Well I look forward to that future, and thank you so much for your time.

Hope you all enjoyed the interview! And if you’re a New Yorker or heading to New York City sometime soon, don’t forget to get tickets to First Date. Trust me, you’ll love it.

And until next time, Servo Lectio!

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman!

SUNDAY: John Ostrander!

 

Martin Pasko: Marvel & DC – The Little Big Two

letterpress2As I was saying last week before I was so rudely cut off by the limitations of your internet-degraded attention span

Mainstream Comics (read: The Big Two) have begun to remind me of that much-mocked TV commercial with the old woman screaming “Help! I’ve fallen but I can’t get up!”

That business seems to me to be in freefall, and only gaming the numbers so as not to scare the horses maintains the status quo, with ongoing monthlies somehow being considered successes with four-digit sell-through estimates that, as few as 10 years ago, would’ve gotten a title canceled long before things got that desperate. And the “top-selling” titles, you’ll note, are all brand extensions – all variations on, or team-ups with, batmen, wolverines, and other tried-and-trues.

Which presents a thorny dilemma.

Neither of the “Big” Two’s corporate parents wants to be in the business of putting ink on dead trees, which – though ComiXology might claim otherwise – is still the major comics delivery-system. And publishing’s a low-margin biz, and low margins are as crucifixes to Count Disnela and Baron Von Warner. But they’ve been persuaded not to drive a stake through the comics divisions’ hearts by being sold on the dubious proposition that comics are low-cost R&D for blockbuster movie and TV development.

Yet not one of the tentpole franchises from the Big Two’s studio daddies has been based on anything created more recently than 50 years ago (the 40-year old Blade being neither tentpole nor generated by Marvel Entertainment). If you’re going to be a stickler and say, for example, that X-Men’s success owes more to the ‘80s reboot than the Lee-Kirby original, okay – 30 years ago. So far the closest Hollywood has come to building a discrete film around a newer character is the alleged Deadpool movie. Since the New Mutants and X-Force titles that whelped the character are both X-Men spinoffs, however, Deadpool doesn’t really count as something that isn’t a brand extension. If Jeff Robinov’s successors don’t share his aversion to making a Lobo film, maybe then I’ll sit up and take notice.

To make matters worse, the comics themselves are not being used as a development lab, since most, if not all, of the new titles in recent years have themselves been brand extensions. (And, when films like Red and The Losers tank, the incentive to look to newer “original” Big Two titles as source material dies with them.)

If the Big Two can’t be profit centers from publishing alone, the only way Pub Ops can truthfully be a development lab is if the publishers increasingly take back control of the creative development of their comics, which they’ve completely outsourced. This, to control new product development focused less on selling comics and more on creating potential movies and TV shows. But they probably can’t do this – at least, not easily.

For one thing, The Big Two seem to be under pressure to roll back the kinds of deals that used to give Creatives limited profit participation in new characters. And in this Brave New World of self-publishing, it’s hard to find strong, seasoned talent willing to let their new ideas be Wholly Owned by the Big Two.

So how much longer can the Big Floppymeisters justify their existence? Especially when they’re completely reliant on the freelance talent … because they no longer have editors who can control the process credibly, even if their bosses were willing to redefine the role of the editor. Few, if any, of them have the chops to pick up a pencil, graphics tablet or keyboard and make the product themselves (and show the newbies how it’s done) – the way the Infantinos, Orlandos, Lees, Romitas, O’Neils, Weins, and Shooters did when they were running things.

More in the third and final installment of this rant, written from the San Diego Comic-Con, where I’ll be looking for signs of a forced-change in Talent Relations – if any – and reporting back from my maybe not-so-uniquely skewed perspective.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

 

Emily S. Whitten: Deadpool – The Game!

newdeadpoolscreens1Ladies and gentlemen, I have met the Deadpool game, and it is mine.

Mine, mine, mine! And if you try to take it away from me, it will be fighty time.

In other words. I like it. I like it a lot.

(Mild spoilers ahead.)

When I heard that High Moon Studios was going to be putting out a Deadpool game, I got very excited. I mean, heck, I bought the original Marvel Ultimate Alliance because you can play Deadpool, so no shock there. Then I started seeing the trailers, and I was alternately excited and slightly worried – excited because it looked like High Moon had really done their research, and worried because it’s possible to do the research and still get the tone wrong; in particular, by emphasizing the cruder parts of the character at the expense of the (crazy, off-kilter, a little insane) cleverness. It happens in the comics sometimes, depending on who’s writing the character, and it’s pretty off-putting when you’re used to the cleverer Deadpool. The promos had a lot of bits that seemed to indicate that the focus was going to skew towards gross-out or lame sex jokes instead of witty Deadpoolian banter, and that would have disappointed me to no end. But I shouldn’t have fretted.

Sure, there are some really crude bits in this (M-rated) game – in the very first level, where you get to explore Deadpool’s apartment, you have the option to make Deadpool sit right down and, as the proper British would say it, “use the loo.” But the way it plays out makes it less gross and more hilarious, and completely in character with a Deadpool who knows he’s in a video game. Likewise for most of the other jokes in that vein; it’s all about the context and delivery, and the designers (and Nolan North as the voice of Deadpool) nail it here. That’s not to say that some of the humor isn’t a bit juvenile; or that I couldn’t do without a few of the more misogynistic or sex-related references (did there really need to be blow-up dolls in the game? Really?). Some of those references stem from more recent iterations of Deadpool, which is one reason I’m a much bigger fan of the slightly subtler Deadpool humor of the Joe Kelly, Fabian Nicieza, and Gail Simone eras. But overall, the humor works – and after all, Deadpool is, when all is said and done, kind of terrible a lot of the time. He’s funny as hell to read about or watch, but he’s not exactly a guy you want to invite over to hang out.

Happily, there are also a lot of jokes in the game that have nothing to do with bathrooms (or women’s anatomy), and that actually made me laugh out loud. For instance, when the little scene from the game’s promo pics that made me laugh, with Deadpool riding in a little kiddie ride that looks like a rocket, finally shows up, it is even better than in the promos. And there are numerous bits like that. There was actually only one schtick that really hit a completely wrong note for me – in which Deadpool stops to admire a dead female enemy who’s been impaled on a pole. That made me cringe.

But other than that, playing this game as a Deadpool fan (or even if not, I’d wager) is pure joy. Deadpool is a character who’s well-suited to the over-the-top craziness of a video game – he’s all about violence and fun, and he comes with his own pre-written fourth wall-breakage that can be incorporated in some pretty awesome ways in a video game. For instance, at one point in the game, Deadpool opens a door and sees a pathetically unfinished, half designed, green-gridded hallway. So what does he do? Well of course he closes the door and calls up High Moon to threaten them if they don’t get that hallway finished immediately. The door opens again and, voila! it’s fixed.

2427256-mkh4go8There’s a ton of stuff like that in the game, and the best part is, the game never breaks character. For example, when Deadpool dies, he pops up on the load screen with an apropos quip about the situation (My favorite being the “Oh, hey babe! What are you doing he – Wait, I’m what?” reference to his relationship with Marvel’s Death). Everything is written in a Deadpoolian style, and even though it features what could be a “serious” storyline (the plot is something about Mr. Sinister trying to be evil as usual, and Cable trying to get Deadpool to help stop him and save everyone), this is overlaid by Deadpool’s personal storyline – which is that Mr. Sinister killed Deadpool’s contract hit, so now Deadpool isn’t going to get paid. And Deadpool? He mad. Which means that yep, he’s damn sure going to go through the whole story and give Mr. Sinister what-for, and, oh, yes, inadvertently end up helping everybody at the same time and maybe saving the world and stuff; which is just what Deadpool often does. The result is a video game that does actually have some pretty good substance to it – but is, on top of all of that, just plain fun to play.

The Deadpool game is also pretty awesome to watch and listen to. Deadpool himself looks great, the cutscenes are frequent and fun, and the entire story is rife with references to the Deadpool canon from the moment we arrive in Deadpool’s run-down apartment. From an actual “history of Deadpool” program you can watch on Deadpool’s TV (complete with art from the comics and a great “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”-style narrator) to what happens when you decide to cook in Deadpool’s kitchen, it’s all Deadpool, all the time; although there are also some great cameos by characters like Cable, Domino, and Wolverine. You see alternate Deadpool uniforms; glimpse the face behind the mask; and then the writers even lampshade the way Cable disappeared at the end of Cable & Deadpool by giving him an analogous and obviously lame and nonsensical excuse as to why he can’t stick around and help Deadpool with the mission he’s just given him in-game. It’s the little stuff like that which makes this game fried gold for any Deadpool fan.

The settings are also pretty interesting. I was particularly impressed with Genosha, which is actually depressing as hell if you look at the details they’ve put into the already creepy ruins (a merry-go-round upended by a Sentinel head; several random skulls; scrawlings of “Why?? Why??” and “Rot in Pieces” on the prison walls). It’s a level design that would fit right in with, say, Arkham Asylum. And yet in the midst of all this, we get Deadpool spinning the completely random “Wheel of Insanity”…and landing on “Cow.” At which point, yes, an actual cow flies mooooing through the air, amidst a general “magnetic apocalypse” he’s already dialed up – and meanwhile, Deadpool is platform-jumping up to a rather disturbing but funny scene with Mr. Sinister’s clone. It’s the perfect blend of darkness and light, which is what drew me to Joe Kelly’s Deadpool and made me love reading about him in the first place.

I also love that this is a video game that rewards a player for doing nothing. Because of course. For instance, if you turn on the game but don’t start playing right away, the sleeping Deadpool will eventually teleport from chair to couch, changing uniforms. There are also prompts that you can follow at various points in the game; say, to make something that’s driving poor Wade crazy stop – and if you don’t follow the prompt (maybe because you, I don’t know, think it’s funny to listen to Deadpool cry for awhile) he might, just maybe, shoot himself in the head. Which sounds pretty awful, but in context it’s hilarious. Deadpool’s voice work, done by veteran Deadpool voice actor Nolan North and featuring all three of Deadpool’s voices (his real one and the two in his head, which show up as yellow and white boxes just like in the comics), is also hilarious and awesome. North has great comic timing, and delivers even the craziest lines with panache.

I’ve seen a couple of reviews of the game that note that the gameplay can get monotonous; but I’d disagree. Sure, this might not be a game that always requires finesse – although there are a number of combos you can perform, you can also succeed pretty well some of the time just by mashing buttons; and yes, the basic mobs of bad guys can be killed by the same attacks throughout – but the game switches it up with more powerful enemies and bosses, some of which have different tricks up their sleeves, and most of which do require more skill. And as Deadpool you have access to a pretty fun arsenal, which includes katanas, sais, giant hammers, several types of guns, and a number of mines and grenades. And, oh yes, bear traps. Because bear traps. You can also teleport, which is a great dodge when fighting, and is super awesome when you, say, miss a platform and are falling to your death; because the game allows you to simply teleport back to your last jumping-off point.

Just as important as any of the above, though, is that the constant kill-kill-kill of a lot of action games is broken up regularly by hilarious cut-scenes, random dream sequences, and challenges that require different skills from players (platform and wall jumping, rooms with shifted perspective, a crazy turret sequence involving a Sentinel’s boot…). I love a challenging fight, but a game that can also make me laugh right afterwards is way better. And clearly, from what I’ve been talking about for most of this review, a game that is immersive and enjoyable is just as important to me as a game that challenges me as a gamer.

In conclusion, I love this game. It’s like being in a Deadpool candy store full of Deadpool candy; except that this store is definitely not for kids. So if you’re a Deadpool or Marvel fan, or just looking for an engaging game, and you can handle a little bit of crass humor – then I’d say go for it. Get this game. Because if you don’t, Deadpool will get you. With bear traps.

And until next time; Servo Lectio.

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis Praises SDCC

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold Pisses On SDCC

 

Gossip Gal Reports To The World!

2498952242_d16205d098Hey ComicMix readers. Gossip Gal here and today’s my biggest news day ever! Thanks to my many sources, I’ve just heard the most delicious tidbits – and what kind of Gossip Gal would I be if I didn’t share them with my loyal devotees? So widen those eyes, prepare to be surprised, and read on.

Marvel Comics Launches The Young 21!

Earlier this morning, a spokesman for Marvel Comics excitedly announced a bold new “initiative” being launched by the company next Wednesday. The “Young 21,” as the revamp of current Marvel comics is being dubbed, will wipe the slate of continuity-laden past comics stories clean and allow for writers and artists to created a fresh and more easily understood “superhero universe” that new readers can enjoy.

“All the guys were sitting around in the office one day,” Marvel spokesman Mr. C. Howe revealed, “and no one could think of any new stories for our beloved flagship characters. I mean, they’ve already Done All The Things, pretty much. So we were stumped. Then one of our marketing consultants had the idea to “throw out” everything that has happened to The Avengers, The X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and all of our other famous characters since the launch of Marvel Comics, and begin their stories again, looking at where each of them was at twenty-one, when many were just starting out on their paths to greatness. It was genius!”

Mr. Howe continued, outlining the way The Young 21 will be structured. “Well, we don’t want to alienate any of our past and present fans,” he said, “so these will still be the characters you know and love. But their stories will be streamlined to get rid of any character development past writers may have attempted that proved generally unpopular, and there will be changes to make them more relatable to today’s readers. For instance, the X-Men will get an all-new costume! And one of the Avengers may now be gay – you never know! A few beloved characters may lose important relationships with parents or long-established significant others to story changes, but the hot new storylines will be more than enough to make up for any sense of betrayal and loss

“The new series will also look at some of our female characters in a different and more exciting light,” Mr. Howe reported. “For instance, what was Sue Storm like at twenty-one? Well, she was a bit more stimulating than her usual motherly place in the Fantastic Four would have us believe. Readers who have come to love her for her caring role in the lives of the FF won’t believe the wild times she had with Victor von Doom and Namor back in the day in this re-launch series.” The whole first issue of the new FF takes place pool-side, and you’d better believe you haven’t seen Sue like this before. We’re also taking a new look at Kitty Pryde, who was, frankly, a bit boring in our past stories. But her updated look and attitude is going to WOW new readers. Our best creators, Dan, Dave, Jason, Scott, Bill, and Joe have all assured us that female readers in particular are really going to identify with this fresh take.”

My sources report that the first issues of The Young 21 will hit comic book stores April 10, ComicMix fans – so be sure to report in at GossipGal.com and let me know what you think. And now for another bit of exciting news…

Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man!

At a press conference outside of his recently-acquired Malibu home, Robert Downey Jr. announced today that he actually is, in real life, the superhero called “Iron Man.” “Yes, it’s true,” he stated, while twirling a pair of purple shades idly between his fingers. “The movies are based on a true story: I am Iron Man. I can’t deny it any more, not after so many people have pointed it out. I mean, they’re always saying how I am Iron Man. How could anyone not believe it, with all that? I really don’t know why I thought I could hide it in the first place. But I’m done hiding now. I’ll say it loud and I’ll say it proud: this country owes its safety to me.”

When questioned as to why, if this was true, no one had ever seen an actual Iron Man flying or walking around except in the movies and at fan conventions, Downey replied, “Well, we had to change things for the movies to make it believable to the unenlightened masses. But in real life, I didn’t go through nearly as many design changes. The suit sprang as if fully formed from the genius that is my intellect, and because I am a futurist (like my fictional counterpart), I looked ahead far enough during my earliest designs to go straight for a stealth suit. So when I’m using the suit, I’m practically invisible if I want to be. Also, I can be wearing the suit, and people will only see me. Like, I’m wearing it right now, but you can’t see it. That’s how stealth my suit is. But really; no one watching a movie would have believed that.”

When further questioned as to why no one had ever heard of a single superheroic deed performed by a real-life Iron Man, Downey replied: “Well obviously it’s a government conspiracy. Like the moon landing.”

Well well, ComicMix readers, there’s a bit of news that can hardly be believed; but truth or fiction, we here at Gossip Gal Central wouldn’t object to Mr. Downey using a stealth suit to pay us a visit, if you know what we mean. And now, for a little bit of local oddity to round out your day:

Rare Book Collector Scammed Into Buying ‘Encyclopedia Deadpoolica’!

Ms. Fannie Mae Richards, well-known rare book dealer of West Hollywood, was distressed after her quest to obtain one of the only full sets of actual paper encyclopedias still in existence was thwarted by an unknown vandal who had apparently defaced every page of every book in the set before selling the set via Craigslist.

“Every single cover looks like this,” she said, dismayed, while gesturing to a book cover in which “Britann” had been crossed out and replaced with “Deadpool.” “What does that even mean?”

Ms. Richards was also puzzled by the contents of the books. “All of the pages contain messy, incomprehensible ‘edits,’ she said. The W volume is particularly strange.” She showed this correspondent the entry for “weasel,” over which someone had written, “Skinny nerdy dude with glasses who builds neat gadgets. They go whoosh bang boom,” and drawn a rough sketch of a bespectacled face with short, somewhat spiky hair. Flipping to another page, she displayed the entry for ‘wolverine,’ over which someone had written, in varying sizes and colors, BUB BUB BUB BUB BUB until the entire page was covered. In the bottom right corner, in tiny letters, was written, “SNIKT BOOM BUB!”

“I don’t understand any of this,” Ms. Richards complained, clearly distraught by the damage that had been done to the hallowed texts, “but I really want my five dollars back.”

Sounds like a Craigslist mischief-maker is in our midst, ComicMix fans, so buy cautiously and don’t get scammed!

That’s all the news that’s fit to share today. But knowing this town, I’ll have more for you very, very soon.

So until next time: you know you love me.

XOXO, Gossip Gal.

 

Emily S. Whitten: The Marvel Heroes Game and the Latest from PAX East

Whitten Art 130326For anyone who’s interested in gaming, a whole lot of gaming news came out at the PAX East gaming convention this past weekend.

Given my devotion to Marvel and my affinity for playing any game that features Deadpool ever, I was particularly keen to hear the latest news about Marvel Heroes, the free-to-play MMOARPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Action Role Playing Game) created by David Brevik (of Diablo and Diablo 2 fame) and currently in production at Gazillion Entertainment.

Marvel Heroes, if you haven’t heard about it, is being designed as a free-to-play PC game in which players can advance through the game without spending any money (although there will be a store available for optional purchases). The story for the game, which centers around Doctor Doom and the Cosmic Cube, is written by well-known and multiple award-winning Marvel writer Brian Michael Bendis, and Marvel artists are producing comic-style cut-scenes to accompany that story.

In developing this game, Gazillion has been able to draw on all of Marvel’s considerable intellectual property, and the game is slated to feature numerous Marvel heroes and costumes, including those already announced or depicted in the model sheets on the website and in the Founders Program Ultimate Pack. (I’m particularly excited to see that Deadpool (of course), Human Torch, Jean Grey, and Iron Man will be available! I’m also looking forward to seeing what they’ll do with Emma Frost’s powers.)

Voices for the characters are being done by a number of excellent popular voice actors, some of whom are reprising their roles as Wolverine, Deadpool, and more from other media. Once obtained, playable Marvel heroes can be customized in-game, using costumes, items, and allocations of powers. Marvel Heroes will also feature multiple locations from the Marvel universe (including the Savage Land. Dinosaurs, yay!!), and allow for teaming with other players, and bonuses from teaming up.

Given all of the above, and the inclusion of awesomely fun stuff like the enhanced Pirate Deadpool costume, and the excellent trailers and videos Gazillion has released to the public so far, there is a lot to look forward to in the finished game. And since any new video game with Marvel IP is an immediate draw for me, I definitely wanted to hear the latest updates from PAX East.

And updates there were! The first of which is the newly-announced release date of June 4 of this year, with early access starting May 28 for Founders Program pre-sale pack purchasers (early access varies depending on which tier of pack is purchased). The Founders Program is ongoing, and closed beta access – which used to be reserved for the $180 Ultimate Pack – has now been expanded to the $60 Premium Pack as well.

The next bit of fresh news is that PvP will be available at launch, and that you will be able to team up during PvP. Experience points gained in PvE play will transfer to PvP, and vice-versa. Gazillion also announced that it’s planning to have end-game content which will include both team challenges and open challenges. End-game content will also feature “Ultimate Powers,” which are special abilities tailored to each hero, and which can be gained after the first run-through of the story. Having these powers leveled up will apparently be key to achieving victory during end-game challenges. These powers can be leveled up by getting and spending duplicate “hero tokens.”

…And here is where we get to the only part of Gazillion’s PAX announcements that seems troubling, rather than exciting: “hero tokens.” One of the biggest positives about a game based on Marvel IP is the ability to play as your favorite Marvel heroes. That’s been one of Gazillion’s selling points for this game since the get-go – that there will be a ton of heroes available now and in the future, from the popular to those with more of a cult following; and that players will be able to choose to play as those characters.

Prior to this past weekend, it was understood from Gazillion’s public statements that specific individual heroes would be purchasable in the game’s store, for those who didn’t want to wait until their favorite hero chanced to drop in the game. This was planned as a primary way to fund the free-to-play game. As evidence of how this mechanic was intended to work, Gazillion’s FAQ on the pre-sale page says:

What Heroes are offered for free at the beginning of Marvel Heroes?

When you start playing Marvel Heroes, you will be able to pick a hero from a choice of several, and play through the entire game for free, finishing the story. You will only be able to choose one hero to play; other heroes may be granted as random drops throughout the game. To ensure you get to play a specific hero, you will be able to purchase them.” (Emphasis added).

This explanation was echoed by Director of Community & Customer Support Stephen Reid in a YouTube video posted Dec 28, 2012, at the 4:45 mark. In another YouTube video, posted on Feb 14, 2013, Karin Ray, Assistant Producer, says: “One thing I really like about the Premium Packs is, they come with a little extra currency. So, let’s say I purchase the Avengers Assemble pack, which doesn’t come with Black Widow; and I love her. I can take that extra currency and I can just scoop her up for my team.”

However, at PAX East, Gazillion announced a different game mechanic called the “hero token” (each token representing a specific hero). In essence, the way these tokens would work is that along with dropping randomly in the game (which is not a change from the previously announced design); they would now also drop randomly from an “item” that will be purchasable in the store as a replacement for specific purchasable heroes. In other words, there would no longer be a way to buy a specific hero; only an item that gives a chance at one. And the random hero you receive might turn out to be either one you don’t want, or one that you already have (which is where the use of duplicate tokens to level up your Ultimate Power comes in).

This… is a puzzling idea. First of all, in a game that is based on a previously established IP with devoted fans, removing the ability to guarantee the acquisition of the particular hero(es) a player already loves when paying money seems to remove their incentive to pay money for, presumably, the most expensive purchasable item in the game. Secondly, for anyone who purchased a Founders Pack prior to this announcement, one element of their pack (the in-game currency) can now no longer be used in the way it was previously advertised (as explained by Karin Ray above).

Since the announcement, there have been negative reactions to this mechanic on Twitter, in the comments of news pieces on Marvel Heroes’ PAX announcements, and on Reddit. Happily, however, Gazillion is paying close attention to their potential customers, as illustrated by this response to the feedback: “We’re hearing you loud and clear. Changes coming!” The developers have also indicated elsewhere that there will be more information on this mechanic coming very soon, and that they will be responding to feedback and announcing additional details that they hope will make people happy.

I hope that will be the case, and will report back with an update when it’s available. I’m also still looking forward to the launch of the game, and hope for even more exciting news as it gets closer.

And in the meantime, Servo Lectio!

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis and Barbie Dolls

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold and the Super-Hero Ideal

 

Monday Mix-Up: Superhero Hockey!

Monday Mix-Up: Superhero Hockey!

Now that the NHL strike is over and hockey is back, who saved the season? Superheroes!

Playing for the heroes: Batman, Spider-Man, Rogue, Gambit, and Iron Man. Playing for the villains: Bane, Joker, Mystique, Catwoman, and Deadpool… and Commissioner Gordon as the referee!

 

Available Now: THE CESTUS CONCERN by MAT NASTOS

WHO IS MALCOLM WEIR?

Waking up in an operating room, much to the surprise of the attending surgeons, Malcolm Weir frantically fights his way out of a secret government installation, located in downtown Los Angeles. Battling through a mass of armed guards and meta-gene operatives, the cyborg warrior realizes he has no memory of how he got there.

The past 11 months are gone.

With a hole in his mind, Weir must retrace his steps for the past year, fighting his way through the nearly endless horde of super powered mercenaries and assassins the government sends after him.

Travel along with Weir, facing some of the most intense action ever put to paper, along with a body count of ridiculous proportions, as he tracks down the secrets trapped in his head.

In the end, Weir must stand alone against a former friend and a squad of the deadliest killers ever created, all to learn the terrifying truth behind Project: Hardwired.

Fans of films like “Bourne Identity” or “Smoking Aces,” or the comics of Deadpool and Wolverine, will love the over-the-top science fiction action of “The Cestus Concern” by Mat Nastos.





Read what the critics are saying:

With The Cestus Concern, Mat Nastos crafts his most daring and imaginative work to date. Thrilling and action-packed, Cestus moves at a breakneck pace. Nastos continues to show why he is the next great voice in sci-fi.” –Rob Liefeld, Creator of Deadpool, Cable, Youngblood and X-force, and founder of Image Comics

The Cestus Concern kicks off in a bold fashion the refuses to relent. Weaving between The Six Million Dollar Man and Universal Soldier, Mat Nastos sculpts a story of high-tech science fiction that rivals masters of the genre and adds yet another successful story to his already impressive body of work.” –James Ninness, writer of Dust: Withered Earth and Macabre Rising

Nastos delivers visceral sci-fi action from the very first page, and never lets up.” –Tyler James, writer of Red Ten and co-creator of ComixTribe.com.

Equal parts Terminator, Frankenstein and Universal Soldier, Nastos reinvents the classic motifs, creating something truly exciting.” –Adam Lance Garcia, author of Green Lama: Unbound.

Find out more about “The Cestus Concern,” including an exclusive excerpt from the novel, at: http://www.niftyentertainment.com/2012/11/12/the-cestus-concern-the-weir-codex-book-1-by-mat-nastos/

Emily S. Whitten: My Twelve Vows of New Year’s

Whitten Art 120101As of today, it is officially 2013; and there’s nothing we can do about that, so we may as well enjoy it!

There’s nothing like a song to ring in the new year, and nothing like some resolutions (that may or may not be kept) to start that year off right. So join me, won’t you, in singing the geekiest song of New Year’s Resolutions that ever you will see, i.e. My Twelve Vows of New Year’s. I think you all know the tune. It’s similar to that silly old thing about the partridge and the pear and the damsels in distress or whatever.

Ready? Here we go!

My Twelve Vows of New Year’s

On the first day of this year,
my New Year’s vow will be:
To book my flight for SDCC! Fn1

On the second day of this year,
my New Year’s vow will be:
sell on Etsy, Fn2
And to book my flight for SDCC!

On the third day of this year,
my New Year’s vow will be:
Watch Arrow, Fn3
sell on Etsy,
And to book my flight for SDCC!

On the fourth day of this year,
my New Year’s vow will be:
sort my Deadpool, Fn4
Watch Arrow,
sell on Etsy,
And to book my flight for SDCC!

On the fifth day of this year,
my New Year’s vow will be:
Beat Fallout 3, Fn5
sort my Deadpool,
Watch Arrow,
sell on Etsy,
And to book my flight for SDCC!

On the sixth day of this year,
my New Year’s vow will be:
get my subscriptions, Fn6
Beat Fallout 3,
sort my Deadpool,
Watch Arrow,
sell on Etsy,
And to book my flight for SDCC!

On the seventh day of this year,
my New Year’s vow will be:
write a new webcomic, Fn7
get my subscriptions,
Beat Fallout 3,
sort my Deadpool,
Watch Arrow,
sell on Etsy,
And to book my flight for SDCC!

On the eighth day of this year,
my New Year’s vow will be:
launch our Kickstarter, Fn8
write a new webcomic,
get my subscriptions,
Beat Fallout 3,
sort my Deadpool,
Watch Arrow,
sell on Etsy,
And to book my flight for SDCC!

On the ninth day of this year,
my New Year’s vow will be:
make my next costume, Fn9
launch our Kickstarter,
write a new webcomic,
get my subscriptions,
Beat Fallout 3,
sort my Deadpool,
Watch Arrow,
sell on Etsy,
And to book my flight for SDCC!

On the tenth day of this year,
my New Year’s vow will be:
don’t buy more variants, Fn10
make my next costume,
launch our Kickstarter,
write a new webcomic,
get my subscriptions,
Beat Fallout 3,
sort my Deadpool,
Watch Arrow,
sell on Etsy,
And to book my flight for SDCC!

On the eleventh day of this year,
my New Year’s vow will be:
post a serious column, Fn11
don’t buy more variants,
make my next costume,
launch our Kickstarter,
write a new webcomic,
get my subscriptions,
Beat Fallout 3,
sort my Deadpool,
Watch Arrow,
sell on Etsy,
And to book my flight for SDCC!

On the twelfth day of this year,
my New Year’s vow will be:
read my new comics, Fn12
post a serious column,
don’t buy more variants,
make my next costume,
launch our Kickstarter,
write a new webcomic,
get my subscriptions,
Beat Fallout 3,
sort my Deadpool,
Watch Arrow,
sell on Etsy,
And to book my flight for SDCC!!!

Thanks for singing along! Wishing everyone the very happiest and geekiest of new years; and until next time: Servo Lectio!

Fn 1:  Seriously, I am finally going to go this year, I swear. I’m so excited!

Fn 2:  I want to open a store in which I sell tiny, adorkable, possibly wearable geekery made of clay.

Fn 3:  I always seem to be one episode behind. How does this keep happening?? I blame Deathstroke.

Fn 4:  How did everything get all out of order and stuff?? I swear I used to have the whole collection arranged by date!

Fn 5:  Seriously, I have owned this game for how long now and never played it? It came out in 2008! What is wrong with me??

Fn 6:  My poor local comics shop owner recently mailed me a stack of my subscription comics because it takes me so long to get around to visiting the store. It’s not that I don’t want them right away. But I don’t have a car and the store’s a 20 minute walk from the Metro!! That’s like it being in the middle of the ocean or something.

Fn 7:  Probably while on the Metro. That’s where I write most of my webcomic scripts.

Fn 8:  For the new comic Ben Fisher and I are writing! It’s going to be amazing! And full of hamsters. Sooooo many hamsters.

Fn 9:  I have an idea for DragonCon that is going take forever. But it will be magical.

Fn 10: I can’t help myself – the Deadpool Does Memes variant covers are Just. So. Great. Gangnam Styyyyyle!!

Fn 11: But really. This was fun too, right? Just you wait; next time I’ll do iambic pentameter.

Fn 12: The pile, it is large. So very, very large.

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold

Coming in 2013: The Cestus Concern

THE CESTUS CONCERN is coming January 2013
The most dangerous man on the planet must get a secret out of his head…before they remove it.
The Cestus Concern
Written By: Mat Nastos
Cover: Mat Nastos and Thomas “Orc Girl” Boatwright
Release Date: January 25, 2013
For the past 20 years, Mat Nastos has been writing, directing, and illustrating for television, motion pictures, comic books, and video games. In 2013, Nifty Entertainment will be releasing the first novel by Nastos, a science fiction action tale called “The Cestus Concern.”
WHO IS MALCOLM WEIR?
Waking up in an operating room, much to the surprise of the attending surgeons, Malcolm Weir frantically fights his way out of a secret government installation, located in downtown Los Angeles. Battling through a mass of armed guards and meta-gene operatives, the cyborg warrior realizes he has no memory of how he got there.
The past 11 months are gone.
With a hole in his mind, Weir must retrace his steps for the past year, fighting his way through the nearly endless horde of super powered mercenaries and assassins the government sends after him.
Travel along with Weir, facing some of the most intense action ever put to paper, along with a body count of ridiculous proportions, as he tracks down the secrets trapped in his head.
In the end, Weir must stand alone against a former friend and a squad of the deadliest killers ever created, all to learn the terrifying truth behind Project: Hardwired.
Fans of films like “Bourne Identity” or “Smoking Aces,” or the comics of Deadpool and Wolverine, will love the over-the-top science fiction action of “The Cestus Concern” by Mat Nastos.
Find out more about “The Cestus Concern,” including an exclusive excerpt from the novel, at: http://www.niftyentertainment.com/2012/11/12/the-cestus-concern-the-weir-codex-book-1-by-mat-nastos/

Emily S. Whitten: World of Geekcraft

So if anybody missed it, last weekend I went to Disney World and Universal Islands of Adventure. I hadn’t been to a theme park in a long time, and holy surprise parties, Batman, it was a magical thing. Seriously, I had so much fun riding all the rides and looking at all the theme park details and also, shopping for alllll the things. In fact, ever since I was a little kid I’ve loved going through the gift shops (at theme parks, national parks, whatever) almost as much as the rest of it, and this time was no exception.

The Marvel shops were also no exception, particularly the ones that featured a life sized Iron Man and life-sized Thor, which my friends and I all declared we needed for our living rooms. The one little disappointment I had was, unsurprisingly, that the Marvel stores again had disparate amounts of items available for men and women. For instance, I would have bought this awesome Deadpool “Wanted” poster shirt they had in an instant if they’d had it for women, but nary a good women’s shirt was in sight (just those ones that say, like, “my boyfriend’s a super-hero.” Siiiiigh.) But I’ve focused before on things Marvel needs to improve about its marketing, so I’m not going to rehash that here (except to note this shirt, which was sold in the shops and in which one Avenger is noticeably missing. Why, Marvel??)

Instead, since this weekend I’ve been doing some geeky crafty things, today I want to celebrate all the awesome comics crafts that people are doing, sometimes because they want items that can’t be found in the stores and sometimes because it’s just fun to craft. There are so many of them out there that I’m just going to highlight a few favorites here. Some of them are even available for purchase (oooh) so if you need something for the comics fiend in your life during the upcoming holidays, maybe this will give you some leads.

The first category of comic craft I love is the sort of decoupage style where people take old comics they don’t want and glue them onto items to make cool new things. While I cringe at the idea of destroying comics, these really look cool. My favorites, and something I so need to own myself, are the various comics high heels. A friend of mine has made a couple of pairs which are just awesome, and shares her crafting technique through a video she found that helped her figure things out, and a helpful site with Mod Podge tutorials, Mod Podge being a main material used to put the shoes together. (And speaking of shoes, these are not decoupage style, but check out these Wonder Woman shoes for another awesome way to superhero up your shoes! So pretty!). Other fun comics image things my friend has made include this Captain Marvel purse; and other neat uses of the technique include these G.I. Joe flasks and comic book bracelet cuffs. If this sort of thing strikes your fancy, this Etsy store right here also looks like it has some things that might be up your alley, or, for a bit of variation, there’s this comics paper bead jewelry as well.

 

If seeing cut-up comics makes you cry, here’s another area of crafting that might more suit your fancy: crocheting! There are a lot of fun things geeks do with crocheting, from superhero wrist warmers like these Iron Man cuffs to my favorite thing ever, Dollpool (the Deadpool doll crocheted for me by my friend Amy!). Amy’s amazing at crocheting, and came up with the Dollpool pattern herself (along with Dolliana Jones, Bat-doll, and a Captain Dollmerica in progress). There are also some adorable sewing projects out there, like wee felted Poison Ivy or Batmole, which is geeky times two since it was made for Mole Day (anyone who took Chemistry in high school, I bet you remember doing Mole Day projects too. Wish I’d gotten to make something like this!). The creator of that one linked the mole pattern, if anyone out there wants to try it themselves. And, lest we forget there are a vast number of ways to use needles and thread or yarn, I also wanted to share this amazing glow-in-the-dark Spidey embroidery and this knitted Wonder Woman sweater (with tutorial).

Of course, one of the reasons I love Dollpool is that he’s an adorable doll, and there are plenty of those floating around that aren’t cloth, too. Shockingly, I’ll first link another Deadpool favorite (and admit that I actually own a version of this, because how could I resist??) It is: My Little Ponypool! (One of several custom ponies she’s made.) Or, if you like Japanese-style kokeshi dolls, these adorable Marvel ones caught my eye, and he’s got a bunch of other Marvel and DC dolls as well. And then, of course, there’s Diana the Wonder Kitty D’awwww.

If dolls and figures aren’t really your thing, how about some crazy Avengers papercraft? I think this might be one of the most adorable uses of paper I’ve ever seen, particularly since hedgehogs are my favorite animal ever. I love that these were made by a librarian (the open book-looking style makes a lot of sense!) who hastened to reassure everyone that these were made from falling-apart comics that have been replaced in the library’s collection. Ah, librarians. Speaking of books that are falling apart, here’s a really cool way to re-bind a book in true superheroine style that I kind of want to try even if my books aren’t falling apart. Or, if you are more into a simple do-it-yourself popular style of papercraft, there are these papercraft Avengers here. These look simple enough for even kids to do, so it might be a fun project for young comics fans, with more designs at the link if you’re getting tired of the Avengers and want to try something else.

Finally, there are a ton of clever geek jewelry designs out there (heck, I’ve even made some myself), but of the ones I’ve seen lately, this little Tank Girl necklace is definitely a favorite.

Well! If you’re a crafter, hopefully these links provide some interest and inspiration (they did for me!) or, if not, maybe some gift ideas for the holidays. Or at the very least, I hope you liked looking at all the fantastically geeky creations as much as I did.

Until next time, Servo Lectio!

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold