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Rise, Lord Vader: ‘Anakin’ among top 1,000 baby names in U.S.

lord vader

Parents don’t always think through the names they give their children, sentencing them to years of schoolyard taunts or scatalogical rhymes. A name is a powerful thing that can shape how a child is perceived, and even what path he might take — in other words, his destiny.

So it’s perhaps understandable if we’re a little alarmed that the Star Wars-inspired “Anakin” was the 957th most popular name among boys last year in the United States, according to the Social Security Administration. You know, the horribly annoying kid from The Phantom Menace who grew up to be the horribly annoying man in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, who became Darth Vader, one of the greatest villains of all time?

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Comics A.M. | Duke freshmen divided over ‘Fun Home’ selection

Fun Home

Fun Home

Graphic novels | A number of incoming freshmen at Duke University have refused to read Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, chosen as the summer reading selection for the class of 2019. Brian Grasso started the conversation by posting on the class Facebook page that he wouldn’t read the graphic novel because of its depictions of sexuality, saying, “I feel as if I would have to compromise my personal Christian moral beliefs to read it.” That opened up a discussion in which some students defended the book and said that reading it would broaden their horizons, while others shied away from the visual depictions of sexual acts. And Grasso felt that the choice was insensitive, commenting: “Duke did not seem to have people like me in mind. It was like Duke didn’t know we existed, which surprises me.” [Duke Chronicle]

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Real-life Superboy: 4-year-old Kal-El helps save family from crash


A 4-year-old in Trinidad is being celebrated as Superboy for helping to save his mother and aunt after their car drove off a cliff. His name? Kal-El Alleyne, suitably enough.

Trinidad and Tobago’s CCN TV6 reports the family was on their way to Maracas on Tuesday when their car skidded, and Kal-El’s mother Amanda Graham swerved to avoid oncoming traffic, sending the vehicle into a ravine and throwing all three occupants through the back window.

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This elegant wedding cake hides a superheroic secret


Kia Parsons wanted a traditional wedding cake, with sophisticated flowers and beads. However, her husband-to-be Billy Bunning envisioned something more playful that would reflect his love of comic books. Their compromise is pretty inspired.

Designed by Julia Baker of Tier By Tier in Milton Keynes, England, the beautiful four-tiered cake is all business up front, precisely how Parsons imagined. But in the back? Fondant curtains are pulled back to reveal tiers representing Iron Man, Batman, Spider-Man and Captain America.

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As Baltimore Batman is laid to rest, another fulfills his promise


As hundreds gathered Wednesday outside of Baltimore to say farewell to Leonard Robinson, better known as the “Route 29 Batman” or the “Baltimore Batman,” 370 miles away, another Caped Crusader was keeping one of his promises.

Robinson, a Baltimore businessman who dressed as Batman and visited children’s hospitals in his replica of the Batman ’66 Batmobile or customized black Lamborghini, was struck by a car and killed Sunday night on his way home from SummerFest in South Charleston, West Virginia. Before he left that event, however, Robinson had a lasting impact on at least one little boy.

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Comics A.M. | Japan’s Comiket 88 attracts 550,000

Comiket 88

Comiket 88

Conventions | Comiket, the world’s largest comics expo, drew 550,000 attendees to its summer edition, which ended Sunday at to the Tokyo Big Sight. That’s about the same number of people as the summer 2014 installment. (Note: Those figures account for the number of visits during the three-day convention to the Tokyo Big Sight, rather than individual attendees.) The winter installment of the biannual event will be held in December. [Anime News Network]

Conventions | In an attempt to avoid the sort of bad press they got last year, organizers of Rhode Island Comic Con put a clause in this year’s press application requiring news organizations promise to avoid “insulting or disrespectful comments and giving a bad image of the show” in order to get press passes. That worked about as well as you would expect: The convention quickly apologized and reversed course following push-back from not only the Rhode Island Press Association but also the Rhode Island Convention Center and Dunkin’ Donuts Center. [GoLocal Providence]

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Cool dad builds rocking speeder bike for his little Princess Leia


No matter how many cute things you’ve seen today on Facebook and Tumblr, they pale in comparison to this: an adorable Star Wars: Return of the Jedi-inspired custom rocking speeder bike, built by Tez_Gelmir for his (even more adorable) daughter’s first birthday. Just look at her in her little Princess Leia cosplay!

Tez_Gelmir, hereafter known as the Galaxy’s Coolest Dad, created the rocker using plywood, PVC tubing and a 3D printer. He walks through the process at Instructibles.

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Tolkien fans want to construct a $2.9 billion real-life Minas Tirith


Whether it’s as described in The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien or depicted on film by Peter Jackson, Minas Tirith is an awe-inspiring city, constructed on seven 100-foot levels, each ringed by a wall, with a massive spur of stone dividing all but the lowest tiers in half. At the summit sits the Citadel and the White Tower of Ecthelion, which reaches 1,000 feet above the plain below. It’s a marvel of the Third Age of Middle-earth, and of fantasy architecture.

And now a group of dedicated and ambitious fans wants to reconstruct it, life-sized, in the south of England.

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Comics A.M. | Trade deal could pose threat to fan comics

Comiket 88

Comiket 88

Legal | Anime and manga fans in Japan are raising concerns that a proposed provision in the Trans-Pacific Partnership would threaten the existence of doujinshi, fan-made comics that are often parodies of commercial manga. Many established manga creators cut their teeth on doujinshi (and some return to it even after their series hit the big time), and the biggest comics expo in the world, Comiket, is devoted to doujinshi. The works are self-published and made in small batches, sold to fellow enthusiasts at large and small conventions, and Japanese publishers generally ignore them. Under current Japanese law, only the rights holder can bring a copyright complaint, but the TPP would allow complaints from third parties, including the creator of a rival doujinshi. “If creators can be prosecuted without complaints from rights holders, it could lead to some kind of snitching battle between fans,” said Negima creator Ken Akamatsu, himself a former doujinshi-ka. “Places for people to share their work will also disappear.” [The Japan News]

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What better way to play ‘Minecraft’ than on a custom Redstone PC?


When Spencer Kern decided to build a PC from scratch, he turned to Minecraft for inspiration. After all, if the sole purpose of the computer for playing the wildly popular sandbox video game, it should look the part, right?

And so began the Redstone PC, a beautiful cube that resembles the Redstone blocks from Minecraft. That in itself would probably be enough for most people, but not Kern, who also crafted a custom keyboard, controller and mouse. As he explains in his breakdown of the project, there’s even a Steve minifigure.

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Thor drops the hammer on zombie Hulk in animated fan short


Thor and the Incredible Hulk have faced each other on so many occasions that it’s virtually impossible to keep count (although I’m sure somewhere there’s an intrepid fan who knows the exact number), but it’s safe to say this new animated short is the first time Marvel’s new Thor has fought zombie Hulk.

The work of Milton Pool of Miltonius Arts, the video is a little heavy on fan service, with Thor (or “She Thor,” as he refers to her) clad in a costume apparently deemed too skimpy by Red Sonja. However, the short possesses an undeniable frenetic appeal, with a story — OK, there’s not really a story: Thor smashes some zombie skulls, only to be confronted by an undead Hulk.

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Jinkies! ‘Scooby-Doo’ gets a ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ makeover


The influential Hanna-Barbera classic Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! has endured through a series of lesser spinoffs, sequels and revivals, live-action films of varying quality, and even Scrappy-Doo. But can it survive a visit to San Andreas?

YouTube user BTZ places the Mystery Incorporated gang within the world of Grand Theft Auto V, using the Rockstar Editor and Director Mode to remake the opening of the 1969 cartoon. Franklin’s rottweiler Chop is recast as Scooby, naturally.

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‘X-Men’ fans give Emma Frost an overdue fashion makeover


Emma Frost’s 35-year history has been marked by a series of corset calamities, with the former White Queen routinely clad (if barely) in fetish gear, impossibly high heels and/or cleavage-exposing tops. Empowering? Eh, maybe. Dated? Probably. Impractical? Definitely.

Inspired by a recent ComicsAlliance article about the character’s wardrobe, Terry Blas has launched the Emma Frost Fashion Redesign Project, which is exactly what it sounds like: a blog devoted to fan reinterpretations of the White Queen’s look.

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Comics A.M. | Despite ban, ‘Death Note’ is still big in China

Light Yagami, from "Death Note"

Light Yagami, from “Death Note”

Censorship | China may have banned 38 manga and anime series, including Attack on Titan and Death Note, but fans are still finding ways to read and watch them — and Death Note is one of the most popular topics on the social media service Sina Weibo. “Chinese authorities are used to a certain degree of permeability in their various bans and directives,” says Jonathan Clements, author of Anime: A History. “The issue with a lot of Chinese censorship isn’t about a blanket ban that keeps 100% of material out. It’s about making life as difficult as possible for people who actually want it. A ban like this is about restricting casual access.” [BBC News]

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This custom R2-D2 themed PS4 is the console you’re looking for


As incredible as the upcoming Star Wars Battlefront video game looks, it wouldn’t seem right to play it on just any PlayStation 4. You need something like this, a custom R2-D2 themed PlayBook 4.

Constructed by Eddie Zarick, with some assistance from the folks at Astromech, it’s effectively a scaled-down, rectangular version of the fan-favorite droid, with a 3D-printed case and realistic sound effects. As you can see in the video below, the console features an R2-style red/blue light and makes appropriate sounds when certain buttons are pushed.

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