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Bryan Young

Bryan Young
began producing political documentaries with 2005's award-winning, critically acclaimed This Divided State which documented the furor over free speech in a small conservative community in Utah in the weeks leading to a speaking engagement by filmmaker Michael Moore. The New York Times called This Divided State "filmmaking gold." He's co-written and co-directed (with Elias Pate) a documentary film about guerrilla marketing during the 2004 Sundance film festival, two feature length films and they also co-script a comic book. His latest film, which he wrote and produced, Killer at Large, a dissection of the American obesity epidemic, is available on DVD nationwide. HHe writes about film and comic books as the editor of Big Shiny Robot! and is the author of Lost at the Con and Man Against the Future.

Entries by Bryan Young

The End of Vertigo's Fables

(0) Comments | Posted July 27, 2015 | 12:17 PM

For the last thirteen years, the DC Comics imprint Vertigo has been putting out a comic book called Fables. It's set in a world where the storybook fables of folklore, books, and nursery rhymes are real and they've been displaced from their homelands, living amongst us in our "mundane" world....

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The Season Premiere of Star Wars: Rebels Is Must-See TV...

(0) Comments | Posted June 19, 2015 | 3:59 PM

As we all gear up for new installments of the Star Wars saga, some of the best storytelling to ever happen in that universe is going on right under our noses. Tonight sees the two-part premiere of the second season of Star Wars: Rebels and I'm here to tell you that if you're a fan of Star Wars you can't miss it.

Set just a few years prior to the events of Episode IV, Rebels gives us an intimate look at the formation of the early Rebellion in its fight against the Empire. The first season was emotional, surprising, and felt like the Star Wars we've always loved. It brought together a group of characters that showed us the best of the saga, from former Padawans who had survived Order 66 and kids born into oppression all the way to freedom fighters and Mandalorian warriors: it's all here. And with the finale of season one, we were promised something truly special: a confrontation between Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker's former apprentice, Ahsoka Tano.

The two-part episode itself focuses on Vader's mission to eliminate the titular rebels who destroyed Governor Tarkin's Imperial Star Destroyer over Mustafar. The only reason they were able to escape was through the intervention of their secret contact, Fulcrum, who turned out to be former Jedi Ahsoka Tano.

Ahsoka's fate might have been one of the largest dangling threads left in the wake of the cancellation of the popular series The Clone Wars. Though there's a 14 year gap that leaves many unanswered questions. I asked Supervising Director Dave Filoni about the decision to bring that character into this new iteration of Star Wars. "One of the first things people always want to know, even in early story outlines, was what would Ahsoka's involvement be? Would we use her or not? And to be honest, we were all pretty careful about using her as a character because we had had some very definite plans for her going up to the end of The Clone Wars. I wanted to make sure if we used her it'd be in a way that I thought was consistent with where we were going in that series and where we ended up."

Tonight's season premiere, which was screened for a screaming audience of thousands-myself included-at Star Wars Celebration in April, and it certainly feels like that use of Ahsoka was perfect. The episode, which will air on Disney XD, brings together all the elements of Star Wars that we love, and hints at the confrontation between Darth Vader and his former apprentice, but never once short-changes the contributions of the lead characters of the show.

In fact, Darth Vader is so menacing and capable in this premiere, I wonder if all of the Rebels teamed up together could stand up against him long enough to do anything other than run away. This episode is easily the scariest the dark lord of the Sith has ever been since his initial introduction aboard the Tantive IV in the first Star Wars movie. And, of course, he's voiced again by none other than James Earl Jones who seems to take a grim sort of glee in hunting down those he would have fought beside in a former life.

Star Wars: Rebels marries together beautifully the two eras of Star Wars George Lucas gave us, and in no way more perfectly than tomorrow's episode. And even though George Lucas is no longer directly involved in Star Wars, his influence is relied upon every day on the show. "There's a tremendous respect for the work [George] did and the ideas he had," Filoni says. "Especially for the ideas that never really made it all the way to finished. I know that the existing Clone Wars scripts that we finished are basically revered as working continuity for the most part. I know any of the story ideas that were pitched for other work George is doing are all still thought of as good places to work from. No one person can really fill that role [George had] and I don't think anybody is rushing to do that either, and it's mainly out of respect. We're working for a love and respect for Star Wars and that's across the board in everything Lucasfilm is doing."

That dedication to what's come before is one of the things that makes watching the animated companions to the Star Wars films so enriching. They add deeply to the mythology and challenge you to think about the story differently. It brings to the table an enormous package of context that makes the Star Wars saga even better.

If you're a fan of Star Wars, especially a fan of Darth Vader, then the season two premiere of Rebels is exactly what you need. It's old-fashioned serialized storytelling, wonderfully animated, voiced by some of the best acting talents in the industry, and put together with an unparalleled love for the cultural icon that is Star Wars.

The season two premiere movie airs Saturday, June 19 on Disney XD at 9pm ET/PT. After this, new episodes will roll out in the fall during the lead up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.


Bryan Young is the author of "A Children's Illustrated History of Presidential Assassination" and "The Serpent's Head," the editor-in-chief of the nerd news and review site Big Shiny Robot!, and is the co-host of the Star Wars podcast, "Full of...

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Geoff Johns and Gary Frank Talk 'Batman: Earth One'

(0) Comments | Posted May 12, 2015 | 9:57 PM


Batman is one of the most iconic characters of all time. You know everything about him, about his origin, what makes him tick. Everyone does.

So how does one make all of that fresh again? DC Comics' Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns...

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Star Wars: Celebration Report -- New Info on The Force Awakens

(1) Comments | Posted April 17, 2015 | 3:17 PM

As many of you may have watched yesterday, the new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released at Star Wars: Celebration happening right now in Anaheim.

J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy presented it to a crowd of adoring fans, many of whom camped out to...

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'Weird Al' Talks About Editing MAD Magazine

(1) Comments | Posted April 5, 2015 | 8:40 PM

For the next issue of MAD Magazine, the usual gang of idiots had dubbed "Weird Al" Yankovic as their first ever guest editor, though they call the post "Idiot in Chief." It's a position that's long been held by John Ficarra who might now be sweating for his job.

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An Exclusive Preview of Batgirl: Endgame #1

(0) Comments | Posted March 12, 2015 | 8:30 PM


DC Comics has given us an exclusive first look at Batgirl: Endgame #1 written by Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher with art and color by Bengal. Right now, all the roads in DC's Batman comics are leading toward the conclusion of Scott Snyder...

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MAD Magazine Enters a New Era of Star Wars

(0) Comments | Posted February 4, 2015 | 4:06 PM

The usual gang of idiots over at MAD Magazine have been churning out Star Wars parodies as cheap cash grabs since the beginning. Well, actually, since slightly after the beginning. Their crystal ball for 1977 was broken (or maybe it was their heads), and they had no idea Star Wars...

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George Lucas Talks 'Strange Magic' and His Future in Film

(0) Comments | Posted January 21, 2015 | 11:33 AM

Strange Magic is the latest film from George Lucas, and instead of Jedi and stormtroopers, he sets his sights on faeries and goblins.


Like most stories George Lucas has come up, this one is firmly rooted in classic mythology and aims to...

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Marvel's Star Wars #1 Review

(0) Comments | Posted January 13, 2015 | 2:40 PM


Wednesday sees the release of the first new Star Wars comic since Marvel took the license back from Dark Horse Comics and I was beyond curious to see how Marvel would handle the relaunch. Dark Horse explored this post Episode IV territory fairly...

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Need a Last Minute Gift? Try the Local Comic Shop

(0) Comments | Posted December 19, 2014 | 3:35 PM

If you're looking for a last minute holiday gift for the nerd in your life, do your best to eschew the big stores and instead take a gander into your closest comic book store. (You can use the handy comic shop locator service to find one near you.)...

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Super Smash Bros. for Wii U Review

(2) Comments | Posted November 21, 2014 | 4:43 PM

For the last 15 years of my life, Super Smash Bros. has been apart of it. Beginning with the 1999 release of that first Smash game for the Nintendo 64, altered the course of many of my nights through my post-high school days. Many bleary-eyed late nights were spent battling it out with three friends or siblings. I will freely admit that there were wagers made on brawls we played, most often with the losers buying the winners 44oz sodas at the local gas station convenience store.

Somehow, it had become a way of life, more fun than you can imagine.

I imagine I'm not the only one who has memories of long, dark hours in the unfinished basement at a friend's house, burning my eyes out in front of a television, hoping to ground pound my opponents into submission.

Time has passed. The N64 is obsolete. The Gamecube version of the game offered improvements, but isn't compatible on the Wii U. The Wii version is fine, but it didn't reach the greatness of the first two, and we've been left anticipating the release of Super Smash Bros. Wii U.

I'll be the first to say that I'm not disappointed by this new iteration, provided to me for review by Nintendo. The game was instantly playable to a fault. As soon as my son, his friends, and I put it in the Wii U, we blinked and hours had passed. We unlocked character after character and laughed the whole time.

In my younger days, my go-to character was Kirby and I began my sojourn into this new game with him, but quickly gravitated to Little Mac. With Punch Out being my favorite classic NES game, I tried him on a lark and found that he was a lot of fun to play. He was frustrating to play at the start since his recovery from a few different moves is non-existent, but playing him just put a smile on my face. He's strong and punches quickly, the KO mechanic is fun, and he's a formidable character, balancing out the constant falling off of ledges you're going to do.

I was surprised by many of the characters that were added to the game. Never would I think Pac-Man, or Duck Hunt, or the Wii Fitness Trainer would make reasonable additions to a game like this, but they balanced them and made them work to a degree I would not have expected. More than anything, characters like the Wii Fitness Trainer remind us to not take the game too seriously. And it would do you well to learn how to play the Wii Fitness Trainer (who blasts bits of solar energy during Sun Salutations) for no better reason than to humiliate your friends.


Pac-Man is another character that's just fun to play. He'll throw a pellet forward and then gobble a line of smaller pellets in the wake of it, smashing other players in his wake. Since those pellet trails can change direction in mid-air, Pac-Man is one of the surprisingly versatile characters in the game.

My son spent quite a bit of time creating Mii Fighters and had more fun customizing his own random moves that he began to rely more and more on these than any of the standard (or unlocked) characters. Your mileage on this addition to the game will vary. For me, I had more luck playing the pre-packaged characters.

The one aspect I just didn't find myself using all that much at all was the Amiibo figure. Having access to a Mario figure, I played a bit with the character and found he didn't fit my play-style in any way, shape, or form. I can see the virtues and appeal of the Amiibos, but I would be sure to only get them for a character I know I'm going to play a lot with. I'd probably buy Kirby or Little Mac. The rest? Meh.

As for gameplay, this version adds a number of new levels and modes of play.

On top of the regular 4-player brawl, there's an 8 player version that is pretty much the ultimate party game. Rounding up 8 players and playing Super Smash Bros. all in one room is about as chaotic as it gets, but it's so fun it's worth the tiny figures on the screen. And as more players drop out, the play gets more competitive. This is pretty much the only way to blow a Saturday night with your friends these days.

The game also adds a tour of sorts that plays like a version of Mario Party and I found a lot to love here. Players navigate a game board, travelling around to collect powerups and other items that will help them in various battles. Players also collect fighters and this makes up their lineup in the final battle. It adds a new way of playing Smash Bros. and blends beautifully with my bizarre love of Mario Party.

In a world where video games are turning their back on providing social experiences for a bunch of people in one room in favor of advancing the anti-social nature of online play, this game is a nostalgic breath of fresh air.

It's got endless replay-ability and with 50+ characters to choose from, you're going to find new challenges with every new game. This is what Nintendo does best and I think the world of gaming is better for it.

"Super Smash Bros." comes out 11/21/14 and it's my advice that you shouldn't miss it. It'll bring you back the unfinished basements of your youth, whether you have kids to share that with, or if you and your friends have never grown up. It really is the game you've been itching for.

Bryan Young is the author of "A Children's Illustrated History of Presidential Assassination," the editor-in-chief of the nerd news and review site Big Shiny Robot!, and is the co-host of the Star Wars podcast, "Full of...

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Using Star Wars as a post-Election Tonic

(0) Comments | Posted November 5, 2014 | 1:40 PM

I was the victim of child abuse as a young boy and later as a young man. There was nothing I could really do about it. One parent stood idly by as the other took out their anger on me, emotionally and physically. There was no solace to be found...

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MAD Magazine's 'Phrases That Left the English Language in 2014'

(0) Comments | Posted October 3, 2014 | 9:13 AM

As ever, the usual gang of idiots at MAD Magazine have set their sights on phrases that English has left behind this year. Perhaps the only saving grace about this piece is that they've included The Huffington Post in their magazine.

This is an exclusive preview of MAD #530 (can...

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Simon Kinberg Talks Star Wars and an Exclusive Preview Rebels

(0) Comments | Posted August 29, 2014 | 1:22 PM

There are few things certain in this world, but one of those few things I'm most excited about is that more Star Wars is coming. Next year sees the release of the first new Star Wars film in a decade and October sees the release of a brand new animated series in the world. Star Wars: Rebels starts in October on the Disney Channel and Disney XD and tells a story during the dark times between the prequel trilogy and the classic trilogy, and documents the formation of the Rebellion.

The above clip is a tease of "Property of Ezra Bridger," the fourth in a series of short films made to give us a taste of the show and the characters on it.

One man has his hands in the world of the cartoon as well as the live-action Star Wars world. Simon Kinberg has had influence in many beloved franchises (from Sherlock Holmes to the X-Men) and he spoke to me about the responsibility he feels in his part in bringing more Star Wars to life. "The only thing I can liken it to is if you were a rabbi or a priest and somebody came to you and said you get to write a new book of the Bible, that's kind of what it's like. So it's really exciting and yet I feel a different responsibility than anything I've worked on before, so it's definitely daunting."

Kinberg's role isn't limited to Rebels, he's working on one of the still hush-hush standalone Star Wars films, as well as acting as a creative consultant on Episode VII. Since he has his influence across so many different facets of Star Wars, I asked him what makes Rebels special. "I think the thing that may be the most unique about Rebels as opposed to the other movies is, everything that Lucasfilm is doing has this connection to the original trilogy I think because of the ages of people that are working on them. It turns out they were kids when they came out so there is a different relationship to those than any other movie that's ever been made. But Rebels, because it takes place right up against A New Hope, it was an opportunity to use a lot of the same designs and like I said ideally the same tone and texture from the original films. And that feels like to me an opportunity, in a way it's kind of like getting a chance to write fan fiction at the highest possible level."

I've seen the premiere of the show and can attest completely to the vibe hearkening back to the original film. It somehow takes the coolest elements you'd expect from the dark time, with Jedi on the run and a truly evil Imperial presence, and matches it with the comedic tone of adventure of the original Star Wars film.

It's going to be bringing back Star Wars (not that it was ever actually gone for many of us fans) in a major way.

The full short, "Property of Ezra Bridger" debuts on Monday. Star Wars: Rebels: Spark of Rebellion is set to premiere Friday, October 3rd on Disney Channels around the world. Then, the show itself starts Monday, October 13 on Disney XD. The series will air in 34 languages across 163 countries in over 400 million households.

For a longer look at the interview with Simon Kinberg, visit Big Shiny Robot!

Bryan Young is the author of "A Children's Illustrated History of Presidential Assassination," the editor-in-chief of the nerd news and review site Big Shiny Robot!, and is the co-host of the Star Wars podcast, "Full of...

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Mark Waid Talks Everstar and Comics for Girls

(0) Comments | Posted August 26, 2014 | 5:00 PM


Comics superstar Mark Waid is working hard to make comics better. He always has been. But when he started the digital platform Thrillbent comics, it was meant to increase readership across all genres of comic books. It's a subscription based service...

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What's Luke Skywalker Been Up to For the Last 30 Years? A MAD Magazine Exclusive

(1) Comments | Posted August 8, 2014 | 10:41 PM

Next week, the new issue of MAD Magazine hits newsstands, which is okay, I guess. More important than that (and with a decidedly higher budget), next year sees the release of a new Star Wars film. Since the usual gang of idiots make their paltry salaries standing on the shoulders...

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An Interview With Legendary Designer Chip Kidd on DC Comics and Batman

(0) Comments | Posted July 22, 2014 | 5:21 PM

With San Diego Comic-Con just about to begin, the news from the convention will be rolling out shortly, but in advance of that, we have an interview with Chip Kidd, the legendary designer and the writer behind Batman: Death by Design.

He designed the cover to the...

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Exclusive Preview: Kevin Smith's Batman Meets The Green Hornet #4!

(0) Comments | Posted July 1, 2014 | 12:15 PM

Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman, partners in crime on the Hollywood Babble-On podcast, have been working their comedic magic and love for comics into the pages of Batman '66 Meets the Green Hornet. We talked to them a couple of months ago about the kick-off of the...

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Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman Talk Batman

(0) Comments | Posted May 20, 2014 | 3:13 PM


The Adam West version of Batman is one of the most iconic and oddly beloved versions of a character who is now known for his dark grittiness. Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman are bringing this version of the character back in comic book...

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Disney Publishing 4 New Star Wars Books

(1) Comments | Posted April 17, 2014 | 7:11 PM

Lucasfilm announced today, via Publishers Weekly, four brand new books aimed at introducing new readers to the classic Star Wars saga by bridging the "multi-arc storyline in anticipation of the release of Star Wars Episode VII in December 2015."

The first of these four books, The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, is being written by the author of the Spiderwick Chronicles, Tony DiTerlizzi and is being illustrated using Ralph McQuarrie's original paintings from the pre-production of the first three Star Wars films. Incidentally, those paintings are also the basis for the visual look of the upcoming animated series Star Wars: Rebels.

The rest of the books are adaptations of Episodes IV-VI, each written by a different author and all of them illustrated by Ian McCaig, prequel concept artist and designer behind the look of Darth Maul. A New Hope will be written by R.J. Palacio (Wonder), The Empire Strikes Back will be written by Adam Gidwitz (A Tale Dark and Grimm, and Return of the Jedi will be penned by Tom Angleberger (Origami Yoda series).

This marks a new era in Star Wars publishing as well, seeing Disney's own Disney Publishing Worldwide dipping its toes into the swamps of Dagobah and sunning itself on the sands of Tatooine.

"Disney Publishing couldn't be more thrilled to have the opportunity to publish these books globally and to work with such an array of celebrated talent," noted Jeanne Mosure, Senior Vice President and Group Publisher of Disney Publishing Worldwide. "There's a genuine sense of enthusiasm and affinity that these authors have for this classic material, which makes this collaboration feel fresh, instantly synergistic and effortless."  

Bryan Young is the author of "A Children's Illustrated History of Presidential Assassination," the editor-in-chief of the nerd news and review site Big Shiny Robot!, and is the co-host of the Star Wars podcast, "Full of...

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