Welcome to Barely Related, a conversational Friday column that presents the non-gaming news stories that we, the Joystiq staff, have been talking about over the past week. And no, we're not stopping our focus on industry and gaming news. Think of this as your casual weekly recap of interesting (and mostly geeky) news, presented just in time to fill your brain with things to discuss at all of those weekend shindigs.
Grab a fresh drink, lean back in your armchair, and get ready to talk nerdy with us.
Lady Thor (but not "Lady Thor") and black Captain America incoming
As Whoopi Goldberg announced on The View (seriously): The next Thor will be a woman. There's no word on which woman Thor will be – Marvel officially calls her "a brand new female hero," which suggests she isn't Thor's sister, who was recently revealed in the comics. Writer Jason Aaron has this to say about the change:
"This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe. But it's unlike any Thor we've ever seen before."
Your Thor may be a man. The one I've been writing for 25 issues is a god.- Jason Aaron (@jasonaaron) July 17, 2014
This isn't the first time a woman has wielded Mjolnir, but it is the first time a woman has taken on the name of Thor. Aaron says the reason she's taking the name is part of the story's surprise.
And then, as Marvel CCO Joe Quesada announced on The Colbert Reoprt (also seriously): The next Captain America will be Sam Wilson, who was formerly Cap's sidekick, The Falcon. Wilson is a black man, but he's not the first black character to take on the role of Captain America – in 2003, Isaiah Bradley donned the shield in the series "Truth: Red, White and Black."
Wilson's new suit will incorporate The Falcon's trademark wings, writer Rick Remender says:
"Historically, Falcon would often act as air support, flying Steve into the battle. Why not merge the two? He pops the wings, and as he flies, he keeps the shield latched onto his back. He dives down onto the scene, hurls the shield, wings retract, and rolls into a kick or jump, catches the shield on the way back. He doesn't have the super soldier serum, but he has the added zing-zang-zoom of flight."
Comcast representative demonstrates how not to do customer service
Former Engadget Editor-in-Chief Ryan Block has the patience of a saint trained by a monk and in the middle of a two-week meditation course on a tranquil Caribbean island. Block recorded the final eight minutes of a frustrating call to Comcast, wherein he's attempting to disconnect his internet service. The customer service representative attempts to talk Block out of disconnecting in a myriad of annoying and condescending ways, though most frequently by asking the same age-old question over and over: Why?
Comcast says it's embarrassed by the rep's behavior and it will contact Block to personally apologize, even though it's possible that a call from Comcast is the last thing that guy wants.
Weird Al is back and the world is better for it
Weird Al's new album, Mandatory Fun, is out now, and to celebrate, he's dropping new videos each day for eight days straight. So far we've received "Tacky," (a play on "Happy" by Pharrell Williams), "Word Crimes" ("Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke), "Foil" ("Royals" by Lorde), "Handy" ("Fancy" by Iggy Azalea) and "Sports Song," an honest parody of standard school fight songs.
Mandatory Fun is Weird Al's final album at number 14, but he's not done making music. After this, he plans on launching singles so his material remains topical in the fast-paced online world. We need someone to continue justifying the existence of "Blurred Lines," after all.
Archie is dead
It's not necessarily the fact that Archie is dead that matters here – we knew in April that he would be killed off in the Life With Archie series – but it's how he goes out. Archie dies taking a bullet for his friend, Senator Kevin Keller, the first openly gay character in Archie Comics.
"We wanted to not only grab people's attention but really show the heroic nature of the character," Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater said. "He's willing to literally die to save his friend, Kevin. Archie would have died to save any of his friends. I think Archie would've even died to save a stranger."
Archie's death occurs in Life with Archie No. 36, which launched on Wednesday.
First look at Avengers: Age of Ultron
Spoilers: Age of Ultron stars characters in the previous Avengers movie, plus some new characters. The first images from the set show Captain America, Hawkeye, Iron Man and Rhodey hanging out in civilian clothes; Hawkeye dodging an explosion in a snowy forest; Black Widow itching her back(?) in that same forest; The Hulk and Iron Man hanging out in a lab; Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch looking confused; and Thor and Captain America judging you.
Along with Ultron, Joss Whedon's new film features Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and the Vision as antagonists. Avengers: Age of Ultron is filming in London now and is due in theaters on May 1, 2015.
Kacy Katanzaro is the first woman to finish the American Ninja Warrior course
And damn, it's an impressive run.
Rainbow Brite is back, baby
Rainbow Brite, the 80s cartoon all about love and happiness and rainbows, is getting a reboot, with actress Emily Osment voicing the title character. Osment broke the news on Instagram with a photo of the script for episode one, "Cloudy with a Chance of Gloom."
Does that name have a slight Adventure Time vibe to it? We can hope.
A giant hamster wheel for cats almost exists in real life
The One Fast Cat feline exercise wheel has raised more than $60,000 on Kickstarter, beating its goal of $10,000 with 19 days to go. Technically, it's for cats, but that thing could probably hold other smallish animals, such as wiener dogs, platypuses and toddlers. (Ed. Note: Please don't put small children on the One Fast Cat exercise wheel.)
This four-winged dinosaur is basically a Pokemon
Four wings. Four. Wings.
The changyuraptor yangi existed in what is now Liaoning, China, and it had the longest tail feathers of any non-avian dinosaur at 30 cm. It was a gliding predator that lived during the Cretaceous period.
And it had four wings.
A lot of people watched Guillermo Del Toro's The Strain
The Strain pulled in 2.99 million viewers during its premiere episode on Sunday, on FX. The episode ran at 10PM for 1 hour and 42 minutes, and its audience was 42 percent bigger than the one that tuned into FX's other dramatic debut this summer, Tyrant.
The Strain is based on a series of novels and comics co-authored by Guillermo Del Toro, the master of modern monsters.
Amazon launches ebook subscription service, Kindle Unlimited
"Netflix for books" pretty much sums it up. For $10 a month, subscribers get access to 600,000 books and "thousands" of audio books, though a number of major publishers aren't on board quite yet. But don't worry – the Harry Potter series is available on Kindle Unlimited. Whew.
Doctor Who's The Day of the Doctor in Lego stop-motion
[Images: Marvel, S. Abramowicz]