Time for a Celebration!

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If you’re interested in buying a copy of one of my titles, they’re available in both paperback and eBook format through Amazon and lots of other mainstream retailers!

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More Comic-Related Lists for CBR

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If you liked my other articles for CBR, why not check these bad boys out?

Real Subtle: 15 Secret Messages Hidden in Comic Book Art

Reading between the lines of your favourite comics to bring you all the details you may have missed.

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15 Supervillains with Ice Powers

These cold-themed villains are guaranteed to give you the chills.

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Tainted Love: The Worst Couples in Comic Book History

They say love is blind, but anyone can see that these couples are bad news.

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Frank Miller’s 15 Most Controversial Stories

Well, brutality and controversy are what ol’ Frank is most famous for!

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The 15 Best Performances Of John Hurt

Remembering the many faces (and fandoms) of John Hurt.

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Hidden Wonders: 15 Powers You Didn’t Know Wonder Woman Has

They don’t call her Wonder Woman for nothing!

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If you fancy checking out the my full range of articles on CBR, click here to visit my author page. 7.11 million total views and counting! 🙂


 

Recent Comic-Related Articles for CBR

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Hey guys!

As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve been rather quite for a while, but don’t worry – I’m still here! Just been very busy writing for a variety of companies including CBR, a popular geeky news, commentary and community site.

If you’re into that sort of thing, why not check out some of my articles? I’ve listed a few below…

Men of Steel: 15 Superheroes That Are Metal AF

Who’s going to win gold in this battle of the metalheads?

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Weak Sauce: The 15 Lamest Superhero Weaknesses

These heroes may be super, but their weaknesses sure aren’t…

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Watchmen: 15 Most Shocking Moments

Which classic scenes blew you away?

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Rest in Pieces: The Superheroes We Lost in 2016

2016 was a year that took many of our icons away from us.

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Marvel Magic: The 15 Most Arcane Artefacts In The Universe

These Marvel-ous items are some of the most powerful in the 616.

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15 Things We Want To See In The Fantastic Beasts Sequels

Accio sequels! Here’s 15 things we want to see in the next “Fantastic Beasts” films…

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More Than Able: 15 Disabled Superheroes Who Inspire Us

These comic book heroes overcome more challenges than most.

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Rule 63: 15 of the Best (and Worst) Comic Book Genderbends

Was your favourite superhero ever a superheroine?

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15 Superheroes Who Make Us Uncomfortable

Superheroes? Sure. Super-skeazy? Definitely.

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Yoink! 20 Blatant Comic Book Rip-Offs

These comic book copycats will make you do a double take!

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As ever, let me know what you think in the comments! 🙂

5 Literary Villains That Would Make a Better President Than Donald Trump

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On November 8, 2016, the fate of America – and perhaps the world – will be decided in what is possibly the most important, and least appealing, Presidential vote in our lifetimes. Although Hilary Clinton is proving to be one of the least popular candidates ever (and with good reason), it’s fair to say that, when compared with Donald J. Trump, she is undoubtedly the lesser of two evils.

To make my point, I’ve selected 5 of the most despicable literary villains that I can think of and have argued that every single one of them would make a better President than Donald Trump.

1. Petyr Baelish, from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series and HBO’s Game of Thrones 

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Why He Would Make a Better President than Trump:

Petyr Baelish, better known as ‘Littlefinger’, is one of the craftiest and most calculating characters in Westeros. However, unlike Trump, he knows how to talk to people and get them to do what he wants. Plus, he managed to do wonders for Kings Landing’s economy while he was Master of Coin (even if most of the growth came from his brothels!). He might be a truly terrible human being with a fondness for throwing people out of the Moon Door, but you know he’s bound to come out on top in the political arena, even if he can’t wield a sword to save his life.

2. Count Dracula, from Dracula by Bram Stoker

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Why He Would Make a Better President than Trump:

Like Trump, he’s mocked for his strange appearance and probably shouldn’t spend any more time in the sun, but unlike Trump, Dracula’s actually not such a bad guy: he’s intelligent, well-cultured, and has managed not to lose his fortune despite being alive for centuries. Plus, he treats his foreign guests with respect and offers them hospitality. He just likes his meat on the rare side is all!

3. Dolores Umbridge, from J.K. Rowling’s (and Warner Bros.’) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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Why She Would Make a Better President than Trump:

Even though she corrupted wizarding law to persecute innocent Muggle-borns, took clear pleasure in torturing children and spent an entire year not teaching her students Defence Against the Dark Arts, she at least had the good manners to cough before interrupting someone.

4. Coriolanus Snow, from Suzanne Collins’ (and Lionsgate’s) Hunger Games trilogy

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Why He Would Make a Better President than Trump:

Being prepared to drink poison to ensure the downfall of your enemies isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement, but it does at least show commitment. Plus, it’s important to point out that Snow actually knows how to run a country, or at least Panem… plus he’s media-savvy (I mean, he managed to turn the ritual slaughter of his citizens into a popular TV franchise, and that takes skill) and has excellent taste in flowers.

5. Satan, from Paradise Lost by John Milton

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Why He Would Make a Better President than Trump:

…because he’s so smooth he made Jesus look bad. If you’re going to lure America into evil, you’d better have a more convincing argument than “we need to start winning again!”

Can you think of any literary villains you’d rather see in the Oval Office than the Orange Anomaly? Let me know in the comments below!

(Images: HBO, Politico, WB Studios, Lionsgate, Wikipedia)

Unlocking the Secrets of Doctor Strange: 6 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About the New Kid on the MCU Block

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Doctor Strange is set to hit the screens on November 5 after an excruciating wait, and I for one cannot wait to see Marvel’s latest addition to their ever-expanding cinematic universe.

If you want to brush up on your comic book history before seeing the movie, look no further. Here are 6 facts about everyone’s favourite scarlet-caped magic man:

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This Isn’t Doctor Strange’s First Movie

His first outing was in a made-for-TV movie that aired on CBS back in 1978. The network had high hopes for the DS franchise and were already planning to use the film as the jumping-off point for a weekly 1-hour TV series by the time it aired. However, despite its Incredible Hulk TV show being relatively successful, CBS soon found out that the Doctor Strange TV movie was a dud ratings-wise and scrapped their plans for a series soon afterwards. Doctor Strange also starred in his own animated feature film in 2007, called Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme.

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Benedict Cumberbatch Wasn’t the First Choice (or the Third!) to Play the Lead This Time Around

Given how comfortable he looks in recent trailers wearing that kick-ass red cape, you’d be forgiven for thinking everyone’s favourite British crumpet was the first and only choice to portray DS on the big screen… but you’d be wrong. The truth is that the producers were set on getting Joaquin Phoenix to play the iconic part, so much so that they spent 3 months negotiating with his agents to get him on board. After the deal fell through due to a money dispute, the producers then approached Johnny Depp and Jared Leto, both of whom turned it down. The uncertainty about Cumberbatch apparently stems from the producers’ worry that he’s not a big enough star to play the lead in a Marvel blockbuster. Try telling that to the Cumberb*tches!

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Doctor Strange Isn’t His Original Name

Stan Lee, the mastermind behind many of Marvel’s most successful comics, revealed in a fan letter back in 1963 that the Sorcerer Supreme was originally called Mr. Strange. Amid concerns that Mr. Strange might be confused with Mr. Fantastic from the Fantastic Four franchise, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko decided to change the character’s name at the last minute. However, that wasn’t the end of the problem, as The Amazing Spider-Man comics had an issue featuring a mad scientist called Dr. Strange. In order to distinguish Doctor Strange from his villainous namesake, Lee and Ditko decided to spell the word ‘Doctor’ in full instead of using the traditional abbreviation.

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His Character is Inspired by a 1930s Radio Magician

Stan Lee and Steve Ditko shared a childhood fondness for a 1930s radio program, Chandu the Magician, which featured a sorcerer with the powers of teleport, astral projection and general mind trickery that was hell-bent on conquering the evils that threatened humankind. Sound familiar? Yep, you guessed it, Doctor Strange’s abilities, motivation and black magic mystique are all inspired by that very same magician.

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He is Not a Fully-Fledged Avenger

While Doctor Strange joined the New Avengers back in 2008, and has fought alongside them on numerous occasions (including in the Avengers Vs. X-Men comic book story arc), he has never been a member of the core Avengers team. The closest he has come to being in the inner circle is his involvement with the Illuminati, a group of super-powered intellectual elites working behind the scenes to protect humanity from major threats – this group included Iron Man, Professor X and Mr. Fantastic, so it was basically a Mad Scientists’ Tea Party (only with more fighting and less patisserie). There’s still a good chance he might show up in 1 or 2 of the Avengers movies though.

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…But He’s a Founding Member of The Defenders

Doctor Strange might never have been an Avenger, but that doesn’t mean he always operates solo. In fact, Doctor Strange is 1 of 4 founding members of The Defenders (the other 3 being the Hulk, the Silver Surfer and Namor the Sub-Mariner), a group that now counts Nighthawk, Hellcat, Luke Cage and Beast amongst its ranks. The Defenders differ from the Avengers in that they are not a “team” per se – it’s more accurate to say they’re a bunch of super-people who come together as and when needed to protect the Earth from the latest deadly threat. With crossovers happening all over the MCU, there’s a chance some of these other characters might make it to the big screen as part of the ongoing franchise.  

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If you know any other weird and wonderful facts about Doctor Strange, why not share them in the comments below? 

(Images: CBS, Marvel, Wikipedia)

So Who’s It Gonna Be? The 11 Contenders to Meet Lucille Head-On in Tonight’s Walking Dead Episode

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After waiting almost half a year to find out who Negan’s victim is going to be after the Season 6 finale left us on the most frustrating cliff-hanger ever, fans of The Walking Dead will finally get some answers, as AMC air the Season 7 premiere on Sunday, October 23.

If you need a recap of all the people potentially about to meet a sticky and rather prickly end, look no further. Here are the 11 contenders for a one-on-one with Lucille:

Glenn

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Why He’s a Contender:

It’s supposed to be him in the comic books… which means everyone’s convinced it won’t actually be him because it’s just too damn obvious. Think about it – it’s the perfect double bluff. Plus, he was in the van, meaning those first-person POV shots might be from his perspective.

Why He Might Be Safe:

The show’s creators went to an awful lot of trouble in Season 6 to save Glenn from almost certain death, and it would be odd if they did all that just to finish him off half a season later.

Michonne

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Why She’s a Contender:

Michonne and Rick have just started doing the dirty and they’re all dopey-happy in love. She’s even making a pretty good mother-substitute for Carl. Most people in the TWD Universe don’t stay happy for long. Rick and Carl would both be devastated – it would be a clever move by Negan to crush Rick with grief and cloud his judgment. Plus, she was 1 of 3 people in the van in those intriguing first-person POV shots, suggesting she might be in the firing line.

Why She Might Be Safe:

In the comics, Michonne survives this encounter with Negan and goes on to play an important part in the Alexandria story arc. Killing her off at this early stage makes it a lot more difficult to stay in sync with the comics (although another strong female character could step up to take her place).

Daryl

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Why He’s a Contender:

Norman Reedus’ appearance on The Talking Dead immediately following the Season 6 finale got fans worried, as actors often do this once their on-screen counterpart has been offed. Also, the popularity of Ride with Norman Reedus (also on AMC) might lead to everyone’s favourite hick hanging up his crossbow for good in search of greener pastures. Finally, he was in the van with Glenn and Michonne, and those first-person POV shots suggest that puts him directly in harm’s way.

Why He Might Be Safe:

WE WILL RIOT.

Maggie

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Why She’s a Contender:

If the creators have gone ahead and substituted Glenn for someone else, there could be no more poignant choice than Maggie. Loved by everyone, she’s a survivor whose pregnancy makes her inherently vulnerable to Negan’s special brand of senseless, all-out psychotic attacks. The group would be too shocked to resist whatever else Negan’s got in store, or could lose it completely.

Why She Might Be Safe:

She’s sick… and PREGNANT. The show has given us some pretty gruesome deaths in the past, but I find it hard to believe that they’re going to stoop so low as to beat someone in Maggie’s condition to death. It would be the most shocking exit so far bar none.

Abraham

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Why He’s a Contender:

His refusal to cower at Negan’s feet like the others in the Season 6 finale was ballsy, but it might just be what gets him killed. I get the feeling Negan isn’t going to let someone like that stick around for long. Plus, he’s just gotten all zen about his place in the world and has even started a little something with Sasha (much to Rosita’s dismay). Quashing happiness is what TWD does best.

Why He Might Be Safe:

Anyone familiar with the comics will know that Abraham was due to get bumped off mid-way through Season 6, but in the end, it was Denise who ended up with an arrow through the eyeball. It’s possible that the show’s creators have something else in mind for ol’ Abe, in which case he might be safe from Negan (for now, at least).

Carl

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Why He’s a Contender:

The show’s creators are no stranger to violence against children – I mean, who could forget Carol’s now-iconic “look at the flowers” scene with Lizzie? – and Carl’s far from being a fan favourite. It would have a sizeable impact upon the group and no-one would have to listen to Rick scream “CAAARRRRL!!!” anymore. Everyone wins.

Why He Might Be Safe:

In the Season 6 finale, Negan can be heard saying directly before he starts smashing that “if anybody says anything, cut the boy’s other eye out and feed it to his father.” Rather an odd statement if Carl’s about to go under the bat.

Rick

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Why He’s a Contender:

He’s been the leader of the group pretty much since the start – Negan might choose him purely for that reason. Disorganised people are a hell of a lot easier to subjugate.

Why He Might Be Safe:

Seriously, as if they’re gonna kill off Rick!!!

Eugene

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Why He’s a Contender:

Eugene’s been a bit gung-ho lately, so there’s a chance that the show might decide to take him out, just as he’s adapting to the Hell that is Walker-World.

Why He Might Be Safe:

This change in the attitude could just as easily be the start of something wonderful: Eugene finally using his smarts to give the group a strategic advantage in future tussles. As of yet, he’s been hiding behind everyone else so it’d be nice to see his character become something more.

Rosita

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Why She’s a Contender:

Now that Abraham’s walked out on her for Sasha, she’s bound to do the whole gloomy ex thing – it might be the show creators have decided to avoid that completely in the most brutal way possible. Plus, it would make Abraham feel really bad.

Why She Might Be Safe:

Her death probably wouldn’t have as big of an impact on the whole group as some of the other choices in this list. She’s cool and everything, but she’s easily replaceable, and I think the sheer genericity of her character might save her from Negan’s bat.

Sasha

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Why She’s a Contender:

She’s just started getting cosy with Abraham, and as I keep saying, happiness is lethal in TWD. Plus, her getting killed now would push the ginger warrior right over the edge.

Why She Might Be Safe:

Sasha had that whole ‘finding the will to live again’ thing going on throughout Season 5, which would be little more than filler if they kill her off now. She could be the next female resident bad-ass, given half the chance.

Aaron

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Why He’s a Contender:

If AMC decide to take the easy way out, killing Aaron off could serve as a way to demonstrate what a psychotic lunatic Negan is without actually damaging the core dynamics of the group.

Why He Might Be Safe:

Let’s face it – no-one really gives a crap about Aaron yet, including the other characters. If he’s chosen as Negan’s victim, it’s going to be one almighty anti-climax.

So, who do you think it’s going to be? Vote below!

 

 

Now, I’m going to put forward a little theory of my own: not one, but two, of Rick’s gang are going to feel the brunt of Negan’s barbed-wire baseball bat, Lucille – and there’s a very good reason why I think so.

Much of the fanbase for the show are also familiar with the comic books, meaning pretty much everyone has been waiting for Negan to show up and beat one of our favourite characters to death (y’know, like you do). The script-writers have swapped deaths and character arcs around before – for instance, when Hershel ended up getting his head chopped off by the Governor in Tyreese’s place – so simply subbing Glenn with someone else doesn’t justify the cliff-hanger. They would have had much more impact with a close-up shot, gory as hell, and ended on that.

Unless there’s a hidden twist set to shock everyone tuning in for Season 7.

The audience automatically assumes that the first-person POV shot that closes the Season 6 finale, and every one that comes before it (the emergence from the van, for instance), is from the POV of the same person. However, there’s nothing to confirm that’s actually true… and that’s the beauty of the twist.

I think someone who wasn’t in the van (i.e. not Daryl, Michonne or Glenn) will get up close and personal with Lucille first, because that throws off all theories that the POV shots confirm that they’re in the firing line. My guess is Abraham – he’s the only one who doesn’t cower to Negan and I think his death would really drive home the fact that resistance is not an option.

Then in the immediate aftermath, when we think everyone else is safe, someone else will also get killed – if not beaten to death, then killed in some other gruesome way. Glenn is my guess.

We’ll just have to wait until later to see if I’m right.

(Images: AMC)

The Darker Side of Harry Potter: 7 Things You Might Have Missed as a Kid

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On the face of it, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is a charming, quintessentially British tale of magic and friendship meant for kids. However, the books have become highly popular amongst adult readers, and for very good reason. Underneath the owls and wands and talking letters, there lies a world which is not that different from our own… meaning it has its kinks and its darkness. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of 7 of the darker elements of Harry Potter you may not have picked up on as a kid. Enjoy!

(Note: this post is obviously full of ***spoilers***)

 

 

1. Dolores Umbridge was sexually assaulted by centaurs

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In The Order of the Phoenix, after she goes into the Forbidden Forest with Harry and Hermione to find Dumbledore’s make-believe “weapon,” Umbridge manages to aggravate the smartest and most deadly creatures in the forest – the centaurs – and ends up being carried off by the herd. The next time we see her, she is in the hospital wing, described as being traumatised (though physically unhurt) with a number of “twigs in her hair.” So what happened to Umbridge?

One need only look to Greek mythology to find the answer. According to legend, centaurs had a nasty habit of abducting women, dragging them into the forest, and raping them repeatedly. Given J.K. Rowling’s familiarity with the Greeks, it’s extremely likely that she knew this and was alluding to it in her own work. Sort of puts Ron torturing her with clip-clopping noises into a new light, doesn’t it?

 

2. Albus Dumbledore had a thing for bad boys

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Well, one bad boy in particular, actually – the notorious Gellert Grindelwald. Although Dumbledore confesses later in The Deathly Hallows that he knew Grindelwald’s intentions were not as well-meaning as his own, he failed to acknowledge this fact to himself until it was much too late… and it cost him the life of his sister. Now, we all know that Dumbledore is utterly brilliant even as a teenager, and so his wilful blindness really can’t be justified… unless there was a good reason for the young Albus to see Gellert as far more than he really was. Teenage hormones, maybe? An out-of-control crush?

Suddenly all those secret conversations and plans for the future as a team and sending notes in the middle of the night make a lot more sense, as does Dumbledore’s reluctance to face him later in life – he was the first boy he ever loved, and now he was going to have to kill him, or be killed by him. Who wouldn’t delay in those circumstances?

If you’re not convinced, I hate to be the one to tell you, but J.K. Rowling has explicitly stated on Pottermore that it’s 100% true – the announcement came shortly after she confirmed Dumbledore’s homosexuality.

 

3. Severus Snape really wished Neville was dead

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…but not because he was rubbish at Potions. Snape is one of the very few people that knows Neville could have been the Chosen One – it was Severus, after all, who overheard the beginning of the prophecy (the bit where it still could have been Harry or Neville, as both were born at the end of July to parents that had thrice defied Voldemort, etc. etc. etc.).

Snape would much rather that it had been Neville and his parents that were brutally murdered, as then Lily would still be alive (happily married to another man, yes, but alive nonetheless). Harry’s existence might be a painful reminder that his childhood love chose someone else, but Neville? Each breath he takes is one that Lily should be taking instead (in his mind at least), which makes him a personal affront to Snape. Plus, there was that whole dressing-Boggart-Snape-in-drag thing. That probably didn’t help.

Poor Neville – he never knows how close he became to being Voldy chow, or that his good fortune is the primary reason Snape hates him so much!

4. Merope Gaunt was guilty of rape

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Sorry to burst the bubble but a love potion is not romantic, not in the slightest. You’re removing consent from the equation and that can only mean one thing: any sex you have is not “making love,” it’s flat-out rape.

Everyone always hates on Tom Riddle for leaving Merope despite the fact that she was pregnant with his kid (including Voldemort, who killed him for it), but who wouldn’t want to get the hell outta Dodge after what he’d been through? If Merope was a man, readers everywhere would think he belonged in Azkaban. Yes, she might have had a horrible life and suffered at the hands of her brother and father, but that’s no excuse for drugging and stealing a boy-toy to keep her company as she starts a new life without them, is it? No wonder he legged it and never looked back.

 

5. Moaning Myrtle’s voyeurism was out of control

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Although most of us raised an eyebrow when, in The Goblet of Fire, Myrtle admitted to spying on Hogwarts Prefects whilst they bathed, not many people pick up on the references throughout the books to her tendencies to hang around in toilets, even when they’re being used. Although Myrtle claims that she often caught by surprise, the fact remains that she has chosen to live in an S-bend rather than choosing another location in the castle. The only logical conclusion, then, is that she likes catching students with their knickers quite literally around their ankles, and has thus positioned herself in the perfect spot to witness the most private and intimate acts a person can perform.

 6. Norbert wasn’t the only stolen goods Hagrid handled

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In the very first instalment of Harry, Ron and Hermione’s adventures, The Philosopher’s Stone (or Sorcerer’s Stone if you’re in the US), we learn that Hagrid is the owner of a terrifying 3-headed dog named Fluffy. Anyone familiar with Greek mythology will know that 3-headed dog by another name: Cerberus, the hound of hell who guards the gates to the underworld.

Cerberus originally belonged to Hades until he was captured by Heracles (more commonly known in the West as Hercules) in the last of his twelve labours to repent for his sins. However, King Eursytheus was terrified when he was presented with the beast and demanded Heracles got rid of it. So, that “Greek chappie” in the pub who was keen to find Fluffy a new home might actually have been everyone’s favourite demi-god, looking to pass off his stolen goods! As it is said that Heracles could only control the beast due to his immense strength, it makes sense that he would choose a half-giant with a love of monsters to look after the creature.

7. The Sorting Hat knows all your dirty secrets

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Well, the 11-year-old you, anyway. As we all know, all new arrivals at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry are designated their Houses (Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff or Slytherin) by the Sorting Hat. The Hat figures out which traits define you and then place you into the House that suits you best.

Have you ever thought about how exactly the Sorting Hat decides whether you’re clever, or brave, or loyal? Why, it uses legilimency, of course; it quite literally reads your mind (or at least, your memories) to determine exactly what sort of person you will grow up to be. Now I know the Sorting Hat is a sentient object, not a person, and it’s hardly going to spill your secrets to anyone else, but the idea that any object possesses that much power is a little unnerving.

Sidenote: the Sorting Hat is also a bit of a b*stard – not only did it place Snape in Slytherin away from Lily despite knowing how much he loved her, he also kept his mouth shut about the darkness inside everyone’s favourite nightmare child, Tom Riddle. Yeah, nice one Hat. Way to go. *slow clap*

Is there anything I’ve missed? Please feel free to share in the comments below!

(Images: Warner Bros. Studios)