'Atomic Blonde's' dark roots and more news from the Comics Cave teletype

Copyright Focus Films

Charlize Theron stars in Atomic Blonde, loosely based on the graphic novel The Coldest City.

By Andrew A. Smith

Tribune Content Agency

All the big news from Comic-Con International: San Diego in the last few weeks has drowned out some smaller, yet still important, stories. Let’s check the Comics Cave’s teletype:


Those who saw Atomic Blonde after its July 28 premiere might be surprised to learn that the movie was based on the graphic novel The Coldest City, by writer Antony Johnston and artist Sam Hart, published in 2012 by Oni Press. The thing is, those who have read The Coldest City might be surprised, too.

The general plot is the same, with MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton sent to Berlin during the waning days of the Cold War to find a stolen list of secret agents. In the movie, Broughton – played by the inestimable Charlize Theron – kicks butts in the hopes of taking names. She is, of course, the blonde of the title.

In Coldest City, though, Broughton is more the cerebral type, as the book itself is more of a John le Carre espionage thriller, instead of the action movie it became. Oh, and Broughton is a brunette.

Copyright Oni Press

In the graphic novel, Lorraine Broughton, the inspiration for Charlize Theron’s Atomic Blonde, is a brunette. Art by Sam Hart.

Nobody seems to be complaining, though, as Atomic Blonde brought in $18.7 million on its opening weekend, which is more than half of what it cost to make. If Theron gets a second career as an action star out of this movie, all the better.

And don’t feel sorry for “The Coldest City.” The movie has raised its profile (and sales). There’s even a prequel out, “The Coldest Winter,” by the same team. It has even less to do with “Atomic Blonde,” but if you like Cold War thrillers with minimalist, noir-ish artwork, there you go.

Copyright Oni Press

The Coldest City, a graphic novel published by Oni Press in 2012, is the basis for the movie Atomic Blonde.


Several new faces were announced at San Diego for Season 4 of The CW’s The Flash, including Danny Trejo (as Breacher, a bounty hunter from Earth-19), Neil Sandilands (as Clifford “The Thinker” Devoe) and Kim Engelbrecht (as the Mechanic, The Thinker’s aide de camp). But this week brought news of another character coming to the show, one which should have comics fans cheering.

That would be Ralph Dibny, a.k.a. The Elongated Man, played by Hartley Sawyer. In the comics, Dibny was introduced in Flash comics in 1960 as a man who was able to stretch his body in ridiculous fashion – think Plastic Man or Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four – and whose nose would twitch comically when he “smelled a mystery.”

Dibny quickly became a frequent guest star in Flash, and later starred in a variety of backup strips, eventually becoming a member of the Justice League. His popularity rose to its peak after the introduction of his wife Sue in 1961, an heiress whose fortune allowed Dibny the financial freedom to travel the world solving mysteries, like The Saint, while engaging in amusing banter with Sue, akin to Nick and Nora Charles of the Thin Man movies.

Later stories took a darker turn – before the 2011 revamp at DC Comics, both characters were dead – but “Flash” is (or should be) an upbeat show, so it’s likely the Stretchable Sleuth’s camp side will be prominent. There’s no word on Sue yet, but omitting her would be felony TV-writing malpractice, so I expect her to show up.

Copyright DC Entertainment Inc.

Ralph Dibny was named Elongated Man in 1960, before people started finding double entendres in everything.


Speaking of casting news, pandemonium ensued when it was announced that Josh Brolin would join the cast of Deadpool 2 as the taciturn and grim Cable, a character often associated with the Merc with a Mouth, but who is also Nathan Summers, the time-displaced son of Scott “Cyclops” Summers and Jean “Phoenix” Grey of the X-Men (who is older than both of them). That’s pretty weird, but what’s even weirder is that Brolin is also playing supervillain Thanos in the next two Avengers movies. The boy gets around.

Buried under that announcement, though, was the addition of Zazie Beetz (Atlanta) as Marvel mutant Neena “Domino” Thurman in the same film. Domino has the power to alter probability, which translates to “she has really good luck.” Given that Deadpool seems to be afflicted with the opposite kind of fortune, the pairing should be, um, dynamic.

Oh, and Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) will return as well. Who says Deadpool has no friends?

Copyright Marvel Entertainment Inc.

If I was named "Neena Thurman," I'd invent a code name, too.


The casting hits continue: Ian McShane (American Gods) will join the Hellboy reboot as Professor Trevor Broom, Hellboy’s adopted father.

The titular character, last played by Ron Perlman in Hellboy II: The Golden Army, will be essayed this time by David Harbour (Police Chief Hopper in Stranger Things). Neil Marshal (The Descent) is signed to direct the movie, titled Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen.

The plot involves a sorceress blah blah destroy mankind blah blah. Who cares? Hellboy is just such a joy I’ll watch or read anything he’s in.

Copyright The Guardian

Ian McShane will add to his lengthy CV with a role in the new Hellboy movie.


One of the many reasons for Batman’s popularity is that he’s human – you don’t have to be rocketed to Earth from the doomed planet Krypton or bitten by a radioactive spider to become the Dark Knight. Theoretically any of us could become Batman if we just worked hard enough, so it’s possible to imagine.

No more.

A recent one-shot titled Dark Days: The Casting revealed that what resuscitated Batman and The Joker in the recent (fatal) adventure called “Endgame” was a mystery metal called Dionesium. Dionesium, it turns out, is related to the stuff that powers Ra’s al Ghul’s Lazarus Pits (that bring people back from the dead) and Nth metal, the stuff that powers Hawkman and, an upcoming event called “Metal” will reveal, explains why there are so many superhumans on Earth.

Which, because he still has Dionesium in his skull, includes Batman. He has been returned to life in the peak of his abilities, and will likely remain that way. His being a superhuman – or, rather, a metahuman, in DC Comics nomenclature – was confirmed in a recent issue of Suicide Squad. Amanda Waller refers to Batman as a metahuman, and she should know.

What does this mean? Well, frankly, I hope it’s temporary. As noted, the fact that Batman isn’t a Kryptonian or an Amazon or an Atlantean or a Martian or whatever is part of his appeal. But if it’s not temporary, it might very well mean a Dark Knight who can’t be killed.

As if DC would ever kill the bat that lays the golden eggs. But still, that’s a pretty big deal.

Copyright DC Entertainment Inc.

Batman discovers a pool of liquid Dionesium in the caves beneath the Batcave in the final stages of "Endgame." Later, both he and The Joker were resuscitated by the strange metal, with the implication that is is the Dionesium that has kept The Joker in good repair for years.


DC Comics has announced that Harley Quinn will take over Batman Day with several special issues this year. What’s surprising about this, of course, is that most people don’t know there is a Batman Day.

But there is. DC Comics sets aside a given day each year to celebrate vigilantes who dress like bats and bash criminals in the face (and make DC Comics oodles of money). It’s like Christmas, only with more flying rodents.

This year the Maid in Motley is the star, celebrating the 25-year anniversary of her first appearance in a 1992 episode of Batman: The Animated Series. So visit your local comic shop Sept. 23 and see what’s cooking for the first-ever Harley Quinn Day.

And don’t worry about Batman Day taking a back seat for once. It was getting too commercialized anyway.

Copyright DC Entertainment Inc.

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