Doctor Manhattan Just Redefined Superman in Doomsday Clock


Geoff Johns’ Doomsday Clock opus has been quietly ticking along at its own pace independent of the rest of DC’s other comics, but a revelation Doctor Manhattan makes in this week’s issue #10 has a significant impact on virtually each and every other character that exists within the publisher’s comics multiverse.

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This Week’s Toys Are in Awe at the Size of This Absolute Pikachunit


Welcome back to Toy Aisle, io9's regular roundup of the merchandise threatening to drain our wallets of their life essences. This week: McFarlane takes on the wizarding world of Harry Potter, Hasbro conjures up an adorable little Simba, and the Voltron you used to ignore gets a rad action figure. Check it out!

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Your Summer Reading List Is Set With All of June’s New Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books


It’s the start of a new month, which means it’s time for another list of new sci-fi and fantasy books. For June, we’ve got works by Neal Stephenson, Terry Brooks, Blake Crouch, and Yoon Ha Lee, plus tales of reluctant royalty, steampunk dragon riders, near-future dystopias, time-travelers who travel too close to home,…

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The Ultimate Coffee Table Book For Gamers Is Just $17


Evan Amos’ Wikipedia-famous game console photography makes for a stunning coffee table book, and it’s down to an all-time low price on Amazon right now. Featuring 300 pages of full color photography spanning the entire history of video games, it also gives you a rare look inside some iconic consoles. Today’s $17 price…

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How the Pokémon Games (and Even Avengers: Infinity War) Influenced Detective Pikachu’s Wild Climax


Detective Pikachu is already a pretty weird movie—it’s a noir film for kids starring outlandish creatures, one of which wears an incredibly adorable deerstalker hat. But it takes an even weirder turn for its climactic third act. A turn that required VFX studio MCP to explore not only the games for inspiration, but…

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Fable Was Initially Pitched As A Game About Wizards Dueling For Each Other’s Hearts


In 2004, amidst a moral panic over the consequence-free violence of games like Grand Theft Auto, Fable broke ground for showing players the tangible consequences for their good or evil actions. But the fantasy role-playing game didn’t begin its life as Fable—or even as a role-playing game.

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9 Books to Prepare You for The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

It’s always with some apprehension that we approach a reboot of a classic, and certainly Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal is one of those movies that seems almost untouchable. Sure, it was critically panned and a box-office dud back in 1982, but the decades since have treated this ahead-of-its-time all-puppets fantasy quite kindly. When, in the wake of several shuttered plans to develop a sequel, Netflix announced a TV series set in the world of the film, well, I’m sure I’m not the only one who had mixed feelings.

But then I saw that trailer.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance returns to the world of Thra as originally envisioned by Jim Henson, Frank Oz, designer Brian Froud, following three Gelflings—Rian, Brea and Deet—at the dawn of a rebellion to unseat the twisted Skeksis who rule their world. We’ve only seen a few minutes of footage and I’m already totally onboard—how can you resist that wonderfully old-school focus on puppets and practical effects?

There’s no need to wait to revisit this stunning, sometimes nightmarish world, though—while this is the first time Thra will be appearing on film since the ’80s, there are a number of books that expand upon the world. Some revisit the origins of the Dark Crystal, others move the story forward, while still others go behind-the-scenes. One thing is eminently clear: The Dark Crystal has inspired a generation of skilled artists and writers to produce some of their very best work.

Jim Henson’s The Power of the Dark Crystal, by Simon Spurrier, Kelly Matthews, and Nichole Matthews
While we don’t know everything about Age of Resistance, we know that it’s a prequel to the original film. But that doesn’t mean the movie is the end of the story—graphic novel publisher Archaia released this series chronicling life in the wake of the healing of the Crystal. The three-volume saga joins Kira and Jen years into their rule over a peaceful, united Thra. The scientist Aughra, however, finds evidence in the stars of a coming sickness that will ultimately affect the entire planet. Deep underground, the hidden race of Firelings finds that their world is dying—and the only thing that can restore it is a piece of the Dark Crystal. The young Fireling Thurma is charged with stealing a shard, which puts her at odds with the Kira and Jen, who both understand the danger of shattering the Crystal again. Thurma finds a friend and ally in the Gelfling Kensho, and together they succeed in their mission, but at a tremendous cost. The beautifully illustrated series was, at one point, intended to have been a movie itself, and is in every way an official continuation of the story. If you love Power, the story of Kensho and Thurma continues in the recent Beneath the Dark Crystal.

Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths, by Brian Holguin, Adam Sheikman, and Brian Froud
When Jim Henson and company were developing The Dark Crystal with concept artist and illustrator Brian Froud, they dreamed up a great deal more background for the world of Thra then appears onscreen—realizing, correctly, that the story didn’t require complicated exposition, especially given that Jen, the film’s point-of-view character, himself had only a very hazy understanding of his world’s history. Nevertheless, there’s the feeling a fully realized fantasy world outside the frame. In this three-volume series, Froud returns to the world he helped to create and travels back thousands of years to reveal the history of Thra through the eyes of tragic, brilliant, persistent storyteller Aughra. Her stories are sumptuously illustrated (truly), and each book includes some of Froud’s brilliant original designs. Creation Myths is available in individual volumes, and in a collected edition coming this October.

Jim Henson’s Dark Crystal Tales, by Cory Godbey
Along similar lines, artist and writer Cory Godbey offers up three interconnected tales from the age of wonder. Though the stories are set during the dark times, when Thra was ruled by the Skeksis, each is hopeful: about the importance of compassion and the way a which small act of kindness can have wide-ranging effects. These illustrated tales are well-suited to younger/middle grade readers, but the art is so thoroughly stunning, and the stories so effective in their combined message, that older fans will find plenty to enjoy.

Shadows of the Dark Crystal, by J.M. Lee
J.M. Lee’s young adult novel series takes a deep dive into the culture of the Gelflings in the time when the Skeksis reigned supreme, but before the gentle fairylike creatures had been all but wiped out. Young Gelfling Naia is destined to become a leader among her people, but she’s desperate to see the world beyond her home. She gets her wish, after a fashion: her twin brother has been accused of treason and taken to the Castle of the Crystal, and she’s the only one who can make the journey to rescue him. Over four novels (the final one comes out in August, just in time for the show), the series ultimately sees young Gelflings from several different clans work together to unite their people and awaken them to the dangers posed by Thra’s ruling Skeksis. Though they will tell very different stories, this series is probably the closest match to the new TV series in terms of its timeframe, and in its focus on heroic Gelflings finding ways to resist their world’s twisted masters. The author is also penning Heroes of the Resistance, an illustrated guide to the characters of Age of Resistance, and Aughra’s Wisdom of Thra, both expected in November.

Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: A Discovery Adventure, by Ann Marcellino
Going a bit younger still, this one’s a fun, interactive retelling of the original film. The storybook follows the journey of Jen and Kira to restore the Dark Crystal, but does so with dense artwork on each page that challenges younger readers to find hidden items and characters (older fans: just take off your glasses to enjoy a similar experience). It’s a neat way for kids to experience (or revisit) the world of the movie in an interactive way.

Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal Artist Tribute
If it’s not already clear, world of The Dark Crystal has drawn and inspired some truly tremendous artists to produce incredible designs and illustrations—going right back to the work of Brian Froud on the original movie. This hardcover book includes work from Froud, as well as of the many artists who have contributed to the Crystal-themed works of publisher Archaia. Among the creators represented are Jae Lee, David Petersen, Mark Buckingham, Cory Godbey, Jeff Stokely,  and Benjamin Dewey, many of whom also provide text to accompany their art. The variety of lush, gorgeous pieces representing the many creatures and locations of Thra make this a stunning art book.

The Dark Crystal: The Ultimate Visual History, by Caseen Gaines, with Cheryl Henson, and Brian and Wendy Froud
This coffee-table book from Caseen Gaines (We Don’t Need Roads: The Making of the Back to the Future Trilogy) dives into the production of the original movie in tremendous detail, telling the story through candid photographs, film stills, production artwork, sketches, archival interviews with Jim Henson, and new ones with others on the film’s creative team. As a reference work detailing the labor and love that went into the creation of The Dark Crystal, and as a work of art in itself, the book is a must.

The The Art and Making of The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
Bringing us right up to date, this book should do for the new series what the previous book does for the original movie: reveal the secrets behind the making of Age of Resistance through photos, interviews, and on-set photography. The show promises a focus on practical effects and puppetry rather than CGI, so it’ll be fascinating to see how designer Brian Froud, director Louis Letterier, and the many others involved bring the world of Thra back to life.

Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal Novelization, by A.C.H. Smith, Brian Froud, and Jim Henson
Last but not least, the original novelization of The Dark Crystal is back in print in a lovely new edition that includes the entire original text alongside previously unpublished illustrations from Froud and notes from Jim Henson on the first draft of A.C.H. Smith’s adaption. The notes reveal a great deal about Henson’s thinking on the fantasy world that he helped to create, and  provide details that didn’t make it to the screen. The main draw here is, naturally, the novelization itself—a faithful take on the story that’s nevertheless unable to rely on the film’s spectacular visuals. The prose offers new details while also revealing that the world of The Dark Crystal is compelling in any form.

How hype are you for The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance?

The post 9 Books to Prepare You for The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Is Here: The Good, the Bad, and the Incredible


Everywhere you look in Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, there’s something to see, something to explore, or something to do. Even though it’s not 100 percent complete, the land itself is a star. You walk in, and you instantly feel like you’ve left Disneyland in Anaheim, California and become immersed in the Star Wars universe.

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We Visited Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and We Love It

Wandering the stalls of the sprawling marketplace at Black Spire Outpost is an altogether otherworldly experience. The indistinct chatter of haggling shoppers and shopkeepers, mixed with the locals living above, is interrupted by the unmistakable cackle of a Kowakian monkey-lizard. As the ambient noise fades into the background, you can smell the aroma of charred meats wafting from the Ronto Roasters stand, where a droid who has been made to suffer always turning a spit of meat in front of a searing podracing engine, reminds you that you haven’t eaten since you landed. But there’s so much to see, it’s easy to get sidetracked.

At the Toydarian Toymaker stall you'll find artisan-style plush characters, wood and tin toys and musical instruments. (Joshua Sudock/Disney Parks)

At the Toydarian Toymaker stall you’ll find artisan-style plush characters, wood and tin toys and musical instruments. (Joshua Sudock/Disney Parks)

Inside the small shops, creatures from across the Star Wars saga peer out from a stall where a sleeping Loth-cat naps lazily near its beloved and raggedy porg plaything. Nearby, the Toydarian toymaker, who has undoubtedly been influenced by the legends of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, has fashioned an array of soft, knitted plushies and carefully carved wooden toys to sell. But look up and you’ll see one-of-a-kind marionettes frozen in the storied last duel between Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi, a hulking metal Star Destroyer and several tin TIEs chasing down a model of the Millennium Falcon, and even Jabba’s sail barge perched on a corner shelf.

After so many years spent enjoying the stories in a galaxy far, far away, stepping onto Batuu, the planet inside the all-new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, now open at Disneyland Resort, feels like being welcomed home. But you’ve never experienced Star Wars quite like this before.

It’s at once new and familiar, or as Luke might say, “like something out of a dream.” The sounds and smells of Frontierland immediately melt away as you’re immersed in a charming hideaway among towering, petrified trees, and plenty of friendly inhabitants. Legendary composer John Williams created a new musical theme, but you won’t find the thunderous symphony blaring as you walk through the land, accompanying you like a film soundtrack. Instead, the soundscape is more subtle and realistic. “What we wanted to try to do was create this universe of Batuu, this Black Spire Outpost, and create something that felt real,” says Matt Walker, an executive in the music studio for Walt Disney Imagineering. “And when we’re in a real place we don’t have our background music playing, as much as we would like.”

Hondo Ohnaka as seen on Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.

‘Play a role’

The locals are so welcoming, in fact, they’re ready to hire new arrivals over at Ohnaka Transport Solutions, as pilot, gunner, or flight engineer of the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy, the fabled Millennium Falcon. Set amid the rise of the Resistance and the First Order’s rule, the Play Disney Parks App also gives you chances to take on other jobs, hack droids, and translate Aurebesh around the land, as well as competing with other visitors to take control of the outpost through a game that involves Resistance spies and First Order sympathizers trying to control various door panels. You alone must decide if you will take a side or forge your own life as a smuggler. “We welcome and we want people to kind of lean into the story, play a role, immerse themselves,” says Chris Beatty, executive creative director of Walt Disney Imagineering.

The thriving marketplace feels like a hub of local trade and crafters, inspired by the bustling market on Jedha. Brad Schoeneberg, the director of merchandise strategy, visited the Rogue One set to see what prop makers had done to populate their version of a Star Wars market and to talk to child actors who had been given toys to play with during the shoot. He knew then that he had to translate that movie magic into something real. “I want everyone to have this experience that I’m having of being able to look inside the stall and see what food they’re making and the products they’re selling,” he recalls thinking.

The Fried Endorian Tip-yip, found at Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo is a fried chicken dish with roasted vegetable mash and herb gravy. (David Roark/Disney Parks)

The Fried Endorian Tip-yip, found at Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo is a fried chicken dish with roasted vegetable mash and herb gravy. (David Roark/Disney Parks)

The Ronto Morning Wrap can be found at Ronto Roasters. (David Nguyen/Disney Parks)

The Ronto Morning Wrap can be found at Ronto Roasters. (David Nguyen/Disney Parks)

For the first time, you’ll get the chance to sample Star Wars cuisine, too, from non-dairy blue and green milk drinks to square hunks of cooked meats, concocted through trial and error to create new flavors, emulating some food and drinks we’ve seen before plus a whole new menu to try.

“Consider all of the senses,” says Carrie Beck, vice president of animation and live-action series development for Lucasfilm. “Adding that other dimension to the story experience is really exciting because we don’t usually get to work in those worlds. You design a space waffle, you imagine it tastes like a space waffle.” Although there are currently no waffles on the menu, now you get to discover the taste of Star Wars for yourself.

An X-wing sits at the Resistance Mobile Command Post. (Richard Harbaugh/Disney Parks)

An X-wing sits at the Resistance Mobile Command Post. (Richard Harbaugh/Disney Parks)

A massive feat of engineering and Imagineering, the 14-acre outpost is truly a feast for the senses. For the deeply devoted fan, there are countless details and artifacts that call back to the original films, the prequels, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, and even The Mandalorian, in the land set in the time of the sequel trilogy in the Skywalker saga. Even for more casual observers, it’s still an enjoyable exotic affair filled with wonders like you’ve never seen before and a wholly immersive way to spend a few hours feeling like you’ve gone much farther than Anaheim, California.

Kristin Baver hugs R2-D2 at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.

Droids and DJs

After all, you’re on Batuu now. On this far-flung planet on the Outer Rim, the Droid Depot is the place to go when you need a helping hand on the moisture farm (or just want to give R2-D2 a hug). As you follow tracks along the road to walk in the treads of an unknown astromech, you’ll come to the shop, where salvaged droid parts are shuttled around the ceiling on a carousel. Down below, another conveyor delivers smaller, more manageable pieces perfect for constructing your own. Keep an eye out for the deactivated heads of a droid that looks an awful lot like Professor Huyang and another plucked from a towering K2 unit. And you may spy a few salvaged battle droids in your travels outside, where some other droids are enjoying a nice oil bath.

The refreshers, or restrooms, have a delightfully aged patina from the well-worn floors to the grime-covered mirrors, an effect that helps the pristine facility perfectly blend into the gritty galaxy.

A small family-owned milk stand is stocked with globes of green and blue milk, served frozen daily to fight the parched planet’s midday heat responsible for the locals’ cheerful greeting, “Bright Suns!”

DJ-R3X inside Oga's Cantina at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.

A creature inside Oga's Cantina at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.

But for some shade and the eclectic stylings of DJ R-3X, former pilot of the oft-diverted Star Tours shuttle, Oga’s Cantina is the wretched hive of scum and villainy for you. You may find yourself sipping on a Jabba Juice before you realize it’s garnished by the eggs of a creature hunkered down in a tank nearby. If the hyperdrive powering the various drink dispensers breaks down again, don’t worry. The barkeepers are adept at banging away at the troublesome engine to get things back up and running. And there’s at least one classic hit on heavy rotation, a remix of that old ditty from Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes that was playing in the Tatooine cantina the day Han Solo met Luke Skywalker.

A baby sarlacc at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. A wall of creature heads at Dok-Ondar's at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.

If rare artifacts are what you’re after, Dok-Ondar is the Ithorian you’ll want to meet. In his Den of Antiquities, browse through holocrons and rare kyber crystals, ancient weapons and statues of Jedi and Sith legends from the past. Among his eclectic finds are a deactivated IG unit, an Imperial helmet said to be owned by Ezra Bridger, a beloved Kalikori said to represent the family of Hera Syndulla, a hulking taxidermied Wampa, and a golden Gungan. A striking Mandalorian helmet hangs just over Dok’s office, where he labors over the books and occasionally rises to his feet to survey his abacus.

Choose a side…

The Resistance and First Order each have their own presence here, and the unrest can be felt among the inhabitants. Occasionally a skirmish breaks out, or you may glimpse noted Resistance spy Vi Moradi lurking around the outpost.

At Savi’s Workshop – Handbuilt Lightsabers, customize and craft your own lightsabers. (Joshua Sudock/Disney Parks)

At Savi’s Workshop – Handbuilt Lightsabers, customize and craft your own lightsabers. (Joshua Sudock/Disney Parks)

One corner that at first appears to be the trappings of another scavenger scrap depot is in reality the cover for a secret lightsaber workshop, where Savi allows those who enter to construct their own lightsaber by hand. Inside, the gatherers help usher a new generation of lightsaber wielders on their journey to create a design that fits their personality. You may even get some helpful advice from a Jedi Master.

There are many fine details to catch the eye — the pock marks of old blaster fire peppering the side of a building, a GNK droid’s shuffling footprints, a small garage bay where an old landspeeder appears to be getting tuned up. In fact, listen closely and you may catch the familiar strains of a local radio station with a DJ who sounds just like Lucasfilm’s Pablo Hidalgo.

Kristin Baver takes a seat inside the Millennium Falcon at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.

Or become a smuggler

But the centerpiece of the whole experience is the Millennium Falcon, docked at Ohnaka Transport Solutions in one of its usual states of disrepair. The maze of corridors leading to the famed ship that made the Kessel Run are lined with other engines in need of work, and evidence that suggests a minor infestation of porgs. However, even hooked into diagnostic equipment and parked just outside, it’s easy to see why this ship is so revered among pilots and smugglers. On Wednesday night, Harrison Ford — Han Solo himself — stopped by to give his old ship a few loving thumps of his fist to get the old girl up and running again during an opening ceremony that also included Star Wars creator George Lucas, Luke Skywalker actor Mark Hamill, Disney CEO Bob Iger, and Billy Dee Williams, who will reprise the role of Lando Calrissian later this year in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Once you climb onboard the bucket of bolts, you may find yourself running your fingers along the walls you’ve seen on screen so many times, lounging at the dejarik table, or taking a moment in a hidden hallway where Han and Leia had their first kiss. But first, the queue takes you by the maintenance pad where the Falcon is parked out front. “She’s broken,” as usual, says Asa Kalama, executive creative director for Walt Disney Imagineering. The waiting area winds into the maintenance hangar where there’s an engine that’s come off a ship in Hondo’s fleet, also broken down “and riddled with blaster marks,” Kalama says. In the command center stands Hondo Ohnaka, brought to life from small-screen animation to provide the necessary instructions and comic relief, at one point cutting off a pesky transmission because, as he puts it, “Boring conversation anyway.”

Ultimately, you board the Millennium Falcon and wend your way to the cockpit and take a seat at the controls. While the co-pilots work together for optimal maneuverability and engaging the hyperdrive when it’s time to jet off on Hondo’s mission to retrieve a shipment of coaxium, the gunners must be alert for any enemies flying nearby, and the flight engineers try to make repairs on the fly to keep the only-just-repaired ship intact. It’s easy to get so immersed in the spectacle outside your window that you forget you have a job to do (which will quickly send your crew spiraling into other ships and even Batuu’s spires if you’re not careful on takeoff). But even if you spend more time crashing than cruising, or wind up jumping out of hypserspace and into an asteroid field, just mashing down every button and switch in the cockpit gives one the really satisfied feeling of having just escaped from another tight spot while just hoping the Falcon would hold together.

And once safely back on Batuu, the adventure continues.

“Even though the stories of Star Wars are set against this epic backdrop of action,” says Scott Trowbridge, the Walt Disney Imagineering creative executive on the project, “the stories are very personal and universal and archetypal.”

“This is a place that you come with your family and your friends,” adds Beck. “Star Wars is all about that connection, all about those choices, all about your family. It shares all of that.”

In Star Wars,there are always more corners of the galaxy to explore and new stories to tell, and this time that legend includes you.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida on August 29.

Reservations and valid theme park admission required to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge between May 31 and June 23, 2019. Beginning June 24, No Reservations Required. Subject to Capacity.

Guests staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel between May 31 and June 23, 2019 will receive a designated reservation to access Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge during their stay. One reservation per registered Guest. Each Guest is required to have valid theme park admission. If the hotel reservation is cancelled, the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge reservation will be cancelled. Access to certain experiences in the land are subject to capacity and other factors. Additional restrictions apply.

Capacity for Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and its experiences is limited. 

Additional photos by Kyle Kao.

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Want to talk more about The Clone Wars? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver what you thought about today’s episode.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog

We Visited Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and We Love It