Glen Weldon

Glen Weldon is a regular panelist on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. He also reviews books and movies for NPR.org and is a contributor to NPR's pop culture blog Monkey See, where he posts weekly about comics and comics culture.

Over the course of his career, he has spent time as a theater critic, a science writer, an oral historian, a writing teacher, a bookstore clerk, a PR flack, a seriously terrible marine biologist and a slightly better-than-average competitive swimmer.

Weldon is the author of Superman: The Unauthorized Biography, a cultural history of the iconic character. His fiction and criticism have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, The Atlantic, Slate, Story, McSweeney's, The Dallas Morning News, Washington City Paper and many other publications. He is the recipient of an NEA Arts Journalism Fellowship, a Ragdale Writing Fellowship and a PEW Fellowship in the Arts for Fiction.

It's a weird one this week: Linda's off in L.A. with hundreds of other TV critics being wined and dined (or at least coffeed and breakfast burritoed) by various networks as they show off their upcoming wares, so Stephen Thompson clambers into the host chair to make the rest of us (me, the great Tanya Ballard-Brown and master-of-punching Chris Klimek) bow to his will.

Five Things That Are Awesome About the 2106 International Yo-Yo Slam Now Happening in Cleveland, In Ascending Order Of Awesomeness

The 1966 film Batman: The Movie was shot between the first and second seasons of the television show. It used the same sets as the TV show, the same characters, costumes, the same story formula, and — most importantly — adopted the same tonal jiu-jitsu: high silliness executed with grave seriousness.

As a teenager, James Alan McPherson worked as a passenger-car waiter on the Great Northern Railroad. The experience shaped him as a man and as a writer; he would spend his life producing short fiction and essays exploring race and class in America — the gulf separating white privilege from the black experience. One of his first published stories, "On Trains," included in his fiction collection Hue and Cry, chronicles a white woman's unthinking treatment of black waiters and porters on a train, and subtly reveals its lingering effects on all involved.

Warning: This post discusses the basic plot elements of the Netflix series Stranger Things, the comic Paper Girls, and the film Super 8.

Autumn 1979. Ohio. Five kids on bikes tool around their suburban development and stumble into an adventure involving monsters and sinister authority figures.

Autumn 1983. Indiana. Four kids on bikes tool around their suburban development and stumble into an adventure involving monsters and sinister authority figures.

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Full disclosure, here at the start: I don't know Pokemon.

That's not technically true; here's a list of everything I knew about Pokemon before playing the new smartphone app, Pokemon GO (this knowledge absorbed solely through cultural osmosis, given the phenomenon's ubiquity).

1. Pikachu is a kind (species?) of Pokemon. It is an "electric-type" Pokemon. It is yellow. It has a cutesy voice. Said voice is profoundly annoying.

2. Squirtle is another kind of Pokemon, a "water-type" Pokemon. It, as one might imagine, squirts.

Her name is Riri Williams. She reverse-engineered her own version of the Iron Man battlesuit in her MIT dorm room, got kicked out, and struck out on her own to do the superhero thing. Clumsily at first, but she's learning fast. So fast she's impressing Tony Stark, who's questioning his status as the Marvel Universe's go-to, super-powered Campbell's soup can. Readers first met her in the March issue of Invincible Iron Man.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

[Spoilers ahead for the finales of both Veep and Game Of Thrones. Obviously.]

Chaos isn't a pit. Chaos is a ladder.

-- Petyr Baelish, Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 6

Well then, why don't we send WARSHIPS into the South China Seas? I WANT! MY NOBEL! PEACE PRIZE!

-- President Selina Meyer, Veep, Season 5, Episode 10

Last night on HBO, two venal, scheming rulers saw their secret machinations come to ruinous ends — literally ruinous, for one of them.

"Nostalgia," a wise man once wrote, "is the nutrient agar upon which nerd culture grows."

The web series The Outs premiered on Vimeo in 2012. Its six-episode (plus a Chanukah special) first season chronicled the aftermath of a gay couple's breakup. Co-creators Adam Goldman and Sasha Winters made a humane, wryly funny and deeply felt series that felt distinct from other shows with similar settings (read: Brooklyn) and about similar subjects (read: relationships, friendships, young people in cardigans).

This post discusses events of Sunday night's episode of HBO's Game of Thrones, "Battle of the Bastards."

Fans of Game of Thrones, and the book series on which it is based, like to compare the moral universe created by author George R.R. Martin to that of his literary predecessor, J.R.R. Tolkien.

Tolkien's Lord of the Rings is black and white, they say — a place where pure, unremitting Eeeeeee-vil threatens pure, noble-hearted Good.

Last Friday, six members of the "vertical dance troupe" BANDALOOP marked the grand opening of a new 17-story building in Boston's Seaport District by suspending themselves from wires and dancing against its side.

Actually "dancing" doesn't quite cover it.

The performance is beautiful: they weave, undulate and soar with a muscular grace.

The mechanics of DC Comics' latest relaunch of its superhero line — precisely which books are returning to their original numbering, and the fact that several titles will now be published twice monthly, etc. — have engendered much discussion among retailers and collectors.

But let's talk big picture.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that superhero universes periodically reshuffle their narrative decks. The in-story explanations differ in often tortuous ways, but the only true driver is sales. Or, rather, a lack of them.

Tonight the game show To Tell the Truth returns to television on ABC, hosted by Black-ish star Anthony Anderson. It's proven a surprisingly scrappy, long-lived, battle-scarred veteran of show: since its first run on CBS from 1956 to 1968, there have been three different syndicated versions of TTtT, plus a brief one-year run on NBC (1990-91).

My wife's the reason anything gets done

She nudges me towards promise, by degrees

She is the perfect symphony of one

Our son is her most beautiful reprise

We chase the melodies that seem to find us

Until they're finished songs, and start to play

When senseless acts of tragedy remind us

That nothing here is promised, not one day

This show is proof that history remembers

WARNING: This post contains spoilers for last night's season finale of The Americans.

Television showrunners love a surly teen. For decades, the American family-oriented drama has teemed with peevish adolescents who slam doors and storm and stomp and sneer and seethe and sulk before hurling themselves performatively onto the nearest piece of furniture.

Finally! Cease your clamoring, millennials!

Last week, Sony Pictures announced that it had signed action star/sirloin slab Dwayne Johnson to star in a Doc Savage film. Last night came reports that Sacha Baron Cohen has been attached to Warner Bros.' upcoming big screen adaption of classic hero/gadabout/mesmerist Mandrake the Magician.

Free Comic Book Day

Free Comic Book Day, the comics industry's yearly attempt to bring new readers into the fold, is 15 years old. It's a peevish teen that smells of Speed Stick and Clearasil and a practiced, performative surliness. It demands that you drop it off a block away from school.

For the past eight years, I've written a preview of the comics on offer on Free Comic Book Day for NPR. So I'm kind of like Free Comic Book Day's annoying third-grade little brother, always chasing after him and telling everyone how cool he is.

Yesterday the Library of Congress named graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang as its fifth National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. Here's why that matters.

The End Of The Tour is an odd little film, made more so by the fact that it's being rolled out at the height of summer, a span of the cinematic year not generally associated with talky two-handers about writers, writing and the wages of literary fame.

Well, that is a thing that happened.

Fantastic Four came out last weekend, only to encounter less-than-stellar reviews and box office. Our own Chris Klimek saw it for NPR.org and summed up its squandered potential with his usual nerd-cred eloquence, so I sat down with him for Pop Culture Happy Hour to discuss what went wrong and why.

[Deep breath.]

So there's this new English translation of a French graphic novel adaptation of Swann's Way, the first of seven novels in Marcel Proust's masterwork, In Search of Lost Time.

Got all that? First there was the 1913 novel by Proust (in French!), then a graphic novel adaptation by Stephane Heuet (in French!) that was published in installments between in 1998 and 2013, and now that whole thing has been translated by Arthur Goldhammer (into English!).

Faithful Pop Culture Happy Hour listeners know that contributor Chris Klimek is a lifelong action-movie enthusiast, but they may not know that he is, in particular, a Terminator movie connoisseur. Which is why, for this Small Batch edition, I asked him to Skype in from the Connecticut coastline, where he is estivating while on a prestigious writing fellowship, to talk about the fifth film in the Terminator series, the enervatingly spelled Terminator Genisys.

Drawn and Quarterly, the Montreal-based publisher of comics and graphic novels, began life as a magazine, released in April of 1990. That first issue served as a de facto mission statement, laying out what the company would one day achieve on a grander scale – and what it would strive always to avoid.

In this Small Batch edition of Pop Culture Happy Hour, I sat down with promising NPR up-and-comer Audie Cornish to discuss the new Netflix streaming science-fiction series, Sense8.

Another sequel, another chance for Hollywood to hurl metal hither and yon and make with the flashy summer blockbuster blow-'em-ups. Yawn, right?

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