So Sayeth the Odinson — with Michael Breakfield

  • The Odinson Presents Batman's Most Underrated Foes

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    Gotham City is one of the most dangerous places in the realms of fiction.  Names like Poison Ivy, Mad Hatter, and Clayface have become part the lexicon and part of a deadly Rogues Gallery that seemingly threatens the city and its citizens on a weekly basis.  But, Gotham City also has a defender, a Dark Knight that rises to the challenge and protects its citizens from the horror and devastation these psychotic individuals would visit upon them.  Batman is wicked smart, physically perfect, and armed to the teeth with every tool, gadget, and vehicle to help him protect his city, it’s an arsenal that would make James Bond turn green with envy. 

     

    They say a hero is only measured by the foes he faces and Batman’s Rogues Gallery, with all due respect to Spider-Man, is the most dangerous group of fiendish foes in comics.  In the 75 years since the Dark Knight’s debut, he has fought against, matched wits with, and faced down hundreds of diabolical foes.  Everybody knows the names and malevolent deeds of Two-Face, the Riddler, Catwoman, Penguin, Ra’s Al Ghul, and the Joker.  Each of these dastardly rogues challenges Batman in a different way and represents different aspects of the Dark Knight’s persona.  Two-Face represents Batman’s failures.  The Riddler represents Batman’s intelligences.  Catwoman challenges Batman’s moral compass.  The Penguin represents Bruce Wayne’s aristocracy gone wrong.  Ra’s Al Ghul is Batman’s Moriarty.  And, the Joker challenges Batman’s sanity.  Over the years Batman’s colorful and deadly Rogues Gallery has become just as much of a legend as he has. 

     

    Everybody knows the names above.  But these are not the only villains that have pushed the Caped Crusader to the limits of his physical and mental prowess.  Who are Batman’s most underrated foes?

     

    Top 5 Underrated Bat-Foes

     

    5 - KGBeast – During the Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union, both sides went to extremes to try and get one over on the other, developing nuclear arsenals and secret weapons.  One such weapon was the special agent known as the KGBeast.  This assassin was feared globally, even by the C.I.A.  The Beast is a highly trained combatant, a master of martial arts, and a weapons master capable of killing in a thousand different ways.  He’s stronger and faster than a normal man and his iron will and unyielding determination rivals that of even Batman.  This is a man who, to avoid capture, cut off his own hand without even blinking.  The KGBeast is truly a scary adversary that is highly underrated and not used nearly enough and definitely not used to the fullest of his potential.  As scary as he was under the command of the KGB, just imagine how scary a super assassin like this could be as a man with no country and no structural command to keep him in line?  Instead he has become fodder for Batman’s sidekick, Robin, and a throwaway bit in events like Blackest Night.   

     

    4 – Killer Croc – Waylon Jones provides the same kind of challenge for Batman that the Lizard provides for Spider-Man.  Croc is bigger, faster, and stronger than the Caped Crusader.  His ferocity is truly a terrifying sight to behold.  Even Batman seemingly barely survives every encounter with this monstrous sewer-dweller.  Waylon’s skin is tough and makes it hard to take him down with physical assaults.  His strength is nearly super human and he can bend steel bars and crush bones with his bare hands.  In the water he is even deadlier as he can move through the murky depths with the speed and power of his namesake.  In fact, the only way Batman is able to overcome this deadly foe is by outsmarting him and using various gadgets and devices.  Batman and the Odinson dread the day that Killer Croc gets smart or allies himself with a wise benefactor, for that may just be the last day of the Dark Knight.   

     

    3 – Deacon Blackfire – Batman is known as a man with an indomitable will, but he is a man and men have weaknesses.  The villain Bane gained recognition during Knightfall as the Man Who Broke the Bat.  But years before the Venom-enhanced strongman laid the Dark Knight low, there was another diabolical evildoer that broke the Bat first.  Deacon Blackfire is the leader of a cult determined to change the course of human history and rule Gotham City through fear and intimidation.  This hulking zealot is said to be over a hundred years old and he possesses a hypnotic charisma that gives him sway over his loyal followers.  In the classic tale The Cult, Deacon Blackfire captured Batman, beat him, tortured him, and ultimately brainwashed him.  Nobody in Batman’s 75 year history has ever had such a decisive victory over the Caped Crusader.  Sure Bane may have physically defeated him, Ra’s Al Ghul may have outsmarted him a time or two, the Riddler may have stayed a step or two ahead of him on occasion, and the Court of Owls may have caused him doubts, but nobody has ever broken the Batman’s iron will.  Nobody except Deacon Blackfire.       

     

    2 – The Wrath – He is the Anti-Batman.  On the day young Bruce Wayne’s parents were murdered by a mugger, across town, at that very moment, Elliot Caldwell’s dad, a jewel thief, was gunned down by police.  Bruce Wayne grew up and became the Batman and declared war on crime.  Caldwell grew up and became The Wrath and declared war on law and order.  Both men are heads of multi-billion dollar corporations.  Both men are highly trained combatants and skilled tacticians.  And, both men will never quit, ever.  There have been several incarnations of The Wrath – Pre-Crisis, Post-Crisis, and New 52 – all with varying retcons to the origin but they have all been sorely underutilized adversaries of the Bat.  The Wrath has the potential to be Batman’s greatest foe.  He’s a criminal that can match Batman on every level.  What if Batman was a force for evil rather than good?  The answer to that question is The Wrath.      

     

    1 – Lex Luthor – Yes, the Odinson knows that Luthor is Superman’s number one sparring partner but his jousts with the Dark Knight Detective over the years have become more and more delicious with each pass.  Lex Luthor may be the one man in the DCU that is actually smarter than Batman.  Need proof?  In Swamp Thing #52-53, the God of the Green comes to Gotham City where his beloved is being held prisoner.  The powerful elemental completely takes over the town and threatens to smash it under his heel if Abby is not released.  Batman throws everything he has at the swamp monster and thoroughly gets thrashed for his efforts.  Even though the issue is resolved peacefully, it’s a plan devised by Lex Luthor that ultimately allows the Swamp Thing’s enemies to defeat and exile him from planet Earth.   

     

    Batman vs. Lex Luthor is a different kind of confrontation.  It’s always a chess match when Batman and Lex Luthor cross swords.  Each adversary always trying to outmaneuver and outsmart the other.  Several of these battle of wills have played out in such classic tales as Rock of Ages, World’s Finest, No Man’s Land, and Public Enemies.   Their long running feud has come to a head in the current run of Justice League.  In the wake of the events of Forever Evil, Luthor has deduced that Bruce Wayne is in fact Batman.  The Odinson can think of nothing more dangerous than the world’s greatest villain knowing one of the world’s greatest hero’s secrets.  Luthor has used this knowledge to infiltrate the Justice League and now Lex Corp and Wayne Industries are merging.  This sets up the ultimate chess match and battle of wits between the two smartest and most dangerous men in the DCU.                

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • Marvel Comics Celebrates the 30th Anniversary of Secret Wars

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    This year, Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars, the Grandfather of all Mega Comic Book Crossover Events, turns thirty.  Sure the classic JLA/JSA crossovers of the Silver and Bronze Age may have invented the concept, and later events like The Mutant Massacre, House of M, and Infinite Crisis may have made such events annual must reads, but Secret Wars defined and created the building blocks for what a companywide crossover should be.  If you are going to involve all the greatest heroes of a universe into one tale, the stakes must be high, the challenge must be epic, and the players and their world must be affected by the outcome of the event. 

     

    In the summer of 1984, a young Odinson was on a coast-to-coast vacation with the family, one of those Griswold Family type vacations.  I’m not completely sure if they still exist, but back then, all along the interstate were these roadside gas station/restaurant/store outlets called Stuckey’s.  In these magical little venues would be comic books.  They weren’t on a spinner rack or magazine shelf, no these particular comics came in plastic-wrapped 3-Packs.  For a few dollars, you could get a dozen comics.  It was glorious! And, it was the only thing that kept me sane, sitting in the back seat of a car for hours at a time.

     

    This particular summer, a young Odinson bought one of these 3-Packs and within were Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #4-6.  Needless to say, I was floored and collected the entire 12-issue run as soon as possible.  Spider-Man, the X-Men, and Hulk were teaming up with the Fantastic Four and Avengers to take on Doctor Doom, Ultron, Galactus, and more!  It was truly a magical moment.  So you can imagine my joy to hear that Marvel Comics is celebrating the 30th Anniversary of this event with a new Secret Wars Event in 2015!  (See article HERE).  Like its predecessor, this event will feature the greatest super heroes in the Marvel Universe, will have multimedia tie-ins like toys, and will have lasting effects on all those involved, including the readers.        

     

    Just looking at the beautiful preview piece painted by Alex Ross (Marvels, Kingdom Come), the Odinson knows this will be an epic event.  It looks like it will include every major universe in Marvel’s multiverse. 

     

    The Alex Ross piece includes characters from:

     

    The 616 – Marvel Comics version of Earth-1, the prime universe where most of the stories that are cannon take place.  This is the universe that has the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Hulk, the Avengers, and the X-Men and their universe that was launched in Fantastic Four #1 back in 1961.  

     

    The Ultimate Universe – This alternate reality features 21st Century takes on classic Marvel heroes like the Ultimates.  This is a harder-edged world where heroes have a moral code that falls into the gray.  It’s also a place where many heroes like Wolverine, Doctor Strange, Wasp, and Daredevil, just to name a few, have short life spans.     

     

    Marvel Comics 2 – This world is set about twenty-five years into the future and the children of Marvel Legends have taken on the mantle of their parents and become the next generation of super heroes.  There’s Spider-Girl, daughter of Spider-Man, Wild Thing, daughter of Wolverine and Elektra, and A-Next, featuring the offspring of various Avengers. 

     

    The New Universe – This alternate reality was one of the first to depict super humans against the backdrop of a real world setting.  A celestial incident known as “The White Event” granted many people around the world paranormal abilities.  The New Universe followed the trials and tribulations of the Star Brand, Nightmask, Justice, Spitfire, Psi-Force, DP-7 and many others as they tried to cope with their new found gifts, or curses, in varying degrees of success and failures.    

     

    Earth X/Universe X/Paradise X – In this dystopian future, the Terrigen Mist, the same gas that gives the Uncanny Inhumans their super human abilities, has swept across the globe and has transformed every single man, woman, and child on Earth into a super human.  This world is quickly descending into chaos and headed straight for Armageddon.  Only an aged and battle-worn Captain America and a child named Mar-Vell may hold the key to the survival of mankind. 

     

    Squadron Supreme – The Squadron Supreme are doppelgangers of DC Comics Justice League.  However, unlike their DC counterparts, the Squadron Supreme took a more active role in their world’s destiny by completely taking control of it and forcing society to live in a super human enforced utopia.  This caused a rift in the super hero community which led to a super hero civil war.  This classic tale by Mark Gruenwald was the precursor to other similar fair like The Authority, Civil War, and Injustice: Gods Among Us.

     

    Supreme Power – Supreme Power is to Squadron Supreme what the Ultimates are to the Avengers.  They are a 21st Century take on the same concept.  However, the heroes of Supreme Power live in a more realistic and crueler world than their brighter counterparts.  Much like how the Squadron Supreme has faced off with the Avengers, in a tale titled Ultimate Power, Supreme Power faced off against the Ultimates in a titanic battle.  This inclusion puzzles the Odinson for did we not just see the demise of this universe very recently in the pages of New Avengers #24?   

     

    Iron Man 2020 – What if Iron man were a villain?  In the not too distant future, the unscrupulous Arno Stark has inherited Tony Stark’s company, wealth, and Iron Man tech.  However, Arno Stark is a decidedly different kind of Iron Man.  He is not a hero.  No, he would rather use his power for personal gain and to destroy anyone who would dare stand in his way. 

     

    Marvel 1602 – What if the Marvel Age had launched three-and-a-half centuries earlier?  That is the question answered in this alternate universe where familiar faces like Spider-Man, Daredevil, Captain America, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four get 17th century makeovers and venture into the New World. 

     

    These many different Marvel Universes along with Obnoxio the Clown are just the participants the Odinson can recognize from the amazing sneak preview by Alex Ross.  With many other great Marvel realities to tap like the 31st Century Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel Zombies, Marvel Apes, and Killraven to exploit, plus the plethora of “What If…?” realities, not to mention the myriad of realities the Exiles have explored, the possibilities of participants and the scope of the 2015 Secret Wars event are endless!   

     

    This past summer, the Odinson asked the question – Is the Marvel Universe Heading toward a CRISIS?  With the incursions of the past two years in the pages of New Avengers, the recent cosmic investigations of Thanos, the tear in reality caused by Age of Ultron, the death of Uatu the Watcher in Original Sin, and now the announcement of the multiverse-wide crossover 2015 Secret Wars event, the Odinson can say quite positively – YES!  And, I can’t wait.

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • Death in Comics: Part 2 of 2 – The Death of Wolverine

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    Last week, from the Death of Robin to the Fall of Spider-Man, the Odinson talked about the rise of the Event Death in Comics.  Well, now Marvel Comics sets out to trump all other super hero deaths by killing off the unkillable super hero. 

     

    Death in Comics: Part 2 of 2 – The Death of Wolverine

     

    This new mini-series from the House of Ideas is the latest in a long series of Event Deaths in comics to come down the pipeline.  On one hand, of course Wolverine should make the A-List characters like Superman, Wonder Woman, Thor, and Captain America who have also met their maker.  In fact, these days, if the character has a high profile death it’s almost a sign of validation, a sign that they have made it to the Big Leagues.  But there is just one problem this time around.  Next to the Hulk (as seen in Hulk: The End), Wolverine is probably the most unkillable hero in comics.  NOTE: Deadpool doesn’t count because he’s just ridiculous.      

     

    The man for the longest time simply known as Logan has had a long, tumultuous, and mysterious history which has been explored in Origin, Origin II, Weapon X, and various other tales.  He has been a wanderer, feral, a weapon, a soldier, a secret agent, a berserker, a samurai, a villain, and a hero.  Even more so than Magneto and Prince Namor, Wolverine has been one of the most complicated and contradictory personalities in comics. 

     

    When the Odinson hears that Wolverine is the next hero to meet his maker two things come to mind.  On one hand, with his mutant healing factor, Adamantium-laced skeleton, speed, strength, superhuman senses, and fighting prowess, Wolverine is one of the most indestructible characters in comics history.  On the other hand, for such an indestructible character, it sure does seem like Wolverine has met his maker more times than any other hero in the history of comics. 

     

    Wolverine’s unbreakable bones and superhuman healing along with his Adamantium claws and fighting skills have allowed him to stand toe-to-toe with some of the strongest, deadliest, and best fighters in the world, a list that includes Hulk, Sabretooth, Captain America, Deadpool and many more!  He has been shot, stabbed, ran over, and blown up and still he heals, gets back up, and is ready to fight on.  He has been ripped in half by the Incredible Hulk, he’s been cut to shreds by the deadly Marauders, he has been crucified by the cyborg Reavers, and he has had his indestructible bones turned into rubber by the cosmic power of the Infinity Gauntlet and yet he still comes back for more.  He even once had the Adamantium forcibly ripped from his body by the Master of Magnetism, Magneto, which left Wolverine a mass of bloody pulp held together only by the mutant mind powers of Jean Grey.

     

    Unbelievably, Logan survived that last one and the traumatic event even kicked his mutant healing factor into overdrive making him even harder to kill.  Before this, poisons could actually slow him down, gunshot wounds would take days to heal and burnt flesh could take weeks (see The Japan Adventure and Kitty Pryde and Wolverine).  But now, all these only take him moments to recover from.  So, why is he now seemingly become easier to kill?

     

    The Many Deaths of Wolverine

     

    Days of Future Past In the not too distant future, the mutant-hunting Sentinels have all but exterminated mutantkind and actually taken control of North America.  The Children of the Atom come up with a desperate plan to change the course of history.  During the X-Men’s last stand, the mutant heroes fall.  Wolverine is flash-fried by one of the giant robots, his clothes, flesh, and muscle instantly vaporized leaving behind only his smoldering indestructible skeleton.  Though this marked the first time Logan met his maker, in the years since, it has been shown that such an attack would not kill him.  In fact, when the super villain Nitro attacked Wolverine in a similar fashion, not only did it not kill Wolverine, but he healed from the wounds in a matter of moments.  This a byproduct of his mutant healing factor being kicked into overdrive after Magneto’s attack during the Fatal Attraction caper.

     

    The Bite of a Vampire In the classic 2-part tale from Uncanny X-Men #159 and Annual #6, the mutant heroes barely survive an encounter with the Prince of Darkness, Dracula.  However, in What If? #24, it is shown that not only did Wolverine not survive this dark encounter but that he is transformed into a vampire.  He quickly usurps Dracula as the King of Vampires and begins to raise an army of mutant-vampires to take over the world.  It is only through the heroic actions and sacrifices of the Punisher, Kitty Pryde, and a ghostly Doctor Strange that the undead Wolverine is destroyed and the vampire threat stopped.  The Odinson knows that this is an alternate universe but it does show that before his healing factor was kicked into over-drive by Magneto’s attack, that he could be killed by the bite of a vampire, at least one is powerful as Dracula.  

     

    Lost in the Funhouse One fateful evening the X-Men are awakened by the arrival of a seemingly unstoppable alien warlord named Horde and forced to take on an impossible quest to enter the celestial Citadel of Light and Shadows and retrieve a crystal of immeasurable cosmic power.  Many, many would be heroes and plunderers from all across the cosmos have tried to obtain this prize before, and failed.  Their souls are now imprisoned in monolithic statues on the road leading up to the monstrous Citadel.  The Citadel protects the priceless treasure within by offering those that enter their heart’s desire.  One by one, each member of the X-Men falls to the Citadel’s seductive power until Wolverine, the only hero able to resist, is the last X-Man standing.  He makes it to the crystal but Horde shows up, over powers him, and rips his heart from his chest.  As the light goes out in Logan’s eyes, a single drop of his blood falls upon the crystal.  The crystal resurrects him and empowers him with cosmic might that revivals the Phoenix Force!  He easily defeats Horde, but knowing that no mere mortal should possess such power, Wolverine shatters the crystal.  By doing so, Wolverine is the first true hero to pass the Citadel’s celestial test.  His friends and allies are restored and returned home.  In that moment, Wolverine proved that he is not only the X-Men’s champion but that he is a champion for all mankind.          

     

    Death by Death – When the mutant tyrant Apocalypse returns and the long-running mystery of The Twelve is finally revealed, the X-Men must once again face the Four Horsemen of Apocalypse.  The mutant heroes are completely taken off guard when their toughest member, Wolverine, is suddenly and violently murdered by the horseman Death.  However, it would soon be revealed that the dead Wolverine was in fact a shape-shifting Skrull and the horseman Death was in fact a brainwashed Wolverine.  Though this is not technically a true death of Wolverine, I include it on the list because the shock of the moment was no less real.  

     

    Marvel Zombies When a mysterious virus of unknown origin sweeps across the Marvel U, all the super powered beings are transformed into flesh-eating monsters with an insatiable appetite for those they once protected.  Nobody is immune to the zombification, not the immortal Thor, not the gamma-powered Hulk, not the cosmic ray-charged Fantastic Four, not even the super mutant healing factor of Wolverine could stop the infection.  The undead Marvel Zombies spread out all over the world and eventually across the cosmos.  They even invade the Ultimate Universe and the 616!  They are a deadly undead threat that has yet to be fully stopped!      

     

    Enemy of the State In this classic tale, Wolverine is lured into a trap by his enemies The Hand and murdered by the deadly assassin known as the Gorgon.  The Hand use their ninja black magic to resurrect Wolverine and turn him into their number one assassin.  Wolverine is turned against the world he once protected and nobody is safe, not Elektra, not the Fantastic Four, not SHIELD, not Daredevil, not even his former allies and friends, the X-Men.  It takes Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the Avengers, to finally wrangle in the brainwashed hero and return him to the side of the White Hats.    

     

    Logan Dies Here, Wolverine’s body is rendered brain dead and Logan is forced to fight for his very soul in the afterlife against his greatest foes. 

     

    Ultimatum – In the catastrophic events of this Ultimate Universe-changing storyline, Wolverine, along with many other Ultimate Heroes, meets his end.  In the final battle with the murderous Master of Magnetism, Magneto uses his mutant powers to cause Iron Man and Cyclops to incinerate Wolverine.  Even on the cusp of death, Logan manages to deliver a mortal blow to the mutant terrorist.  Magneto then uses his power to completely obliterate Logan from the face of the earth.  The only thing left of the mutant hero is half an Adamantium-laced skeletal arm.

     

    Wolverine Goes to Hell In a very similar tale to Logan Dies, once again Wolverine meets his demise but this time his soul is sent to Hell.  As Wolverine is confronted by damned souls of every single enemy he has slain over the course of his century-long life, his body back in the land of the living is possessed by a demon and trying to murder his friends.  If Logan’s soul is going to survive an onslaught of the damned and prevent his demon-possessed body from destroying everything he loves, he’ll need a little help from the Spirit of Vengeance, Ghost Rider, and Daimon Hellstrom, the Son of Satan.

     

    Which brings up the present and the Death of Wolverine.  You know, for such an indestructible character, Wolverine sure does seem to die a lot.  But none of these previous demises have kept the ole Canucklehead down.  So why should we believe this time will be different?  Well this time around, Marvel has taken away Logan’s healing factor.  Long before every other costumed crime-fighter and super assassin in comics had a healing factor Wolverine was the first.  Along with his Adamantium-laced skeleton, Wolverine’s super ability to heal had made him nigh unkillable. 

     

    Will Marvel finally pull off what countless gamma-charged monsters, mutant-hunting robots, ninja assassins, super-powered madmen, alien titans, and demonic gods could not?  Will this truly be the Death of Wolverine? 

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

     

     

  • Death in Comics: Part 1 of 2 – The Rise of the Event Death

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    With Death of Wolverine, Marvel Comics sets out to trump all other super hero deaths by killing off the unkillable super hero.  From Homer’s Iliad to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, death has always had a place and played a major role in popular fiction.  Over the course of Comics History, a death in comics has played a major role.  Some deaths like those of Bruce Wayne’s Parents and Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben are the character-defining moments in the lives of two of the medium’s all-time greatest super heroes.          

     

    Some comic book deaths occur during the course of a storyline to add an added exclamation onto the climax of a tale.  The death of Bucky was an incident that haunted Steve Rogers for many, many years and was a guilt with which he would struggle greatly upon his initial thawing from the ice.  The death of Gwen Stacy, arguably Peter Parker’s greatest love, at the hands of his greatest enemy has haunted Spider-Man to this day.  The Dark Phoenix Saga saw the beloved Jean Grey succumb to the possession of a cosmic power beyond comprehension.  It was an event that resulted in the death of billions and culminated with her own demise.  Then came the DCU-redefining tale, Crisis on Infinite Earths, which features the demises of dozens of heroes and villains, not the least of which were the heroic deaths of the Flash (Barry Allen) and Supergirl.   

     

    Throughout the Golden Age, Silver Age, and Bronze Age, death in comics has been used as a plot device, a tool with which to incite emotion or move a story forward.  However, in the late 1980s, the industry turned a corner and the Comic Book Death became an event.

     

    Death in Comics: Part 1 of 2 – The Rise of the Event Death

     

    Death of Robin (The First) The demise of the second Robin, Jason Todd, was the first “Event Death” in Comics History.  After Batman’s first sidekick, Dick Grayson, graduated to the role of Nightwing and leader of the Teen Titans, Batman took on another protégé.  However, the snotty attitude of this new Robin never really caught on with the fans, so DC Comics put the second Boy Wonder’s fate in the hands of the fans.  In the days before the internet, they sent out two 1-800 numbers.  Call one and Robin would live.  Call the other and Robin would die.  Though it was a close vote, the fans ultimately voted for the demise of Jason Todd.  Everyone knows that Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns is the tale that redefined Batman for the modern age, but it was this tragic event which happened in DC cannon that changed the man behind the cowl and set him on the darker, broodier path that has defined him ever since.  Along with the death of his parents, no event in Batman History has had as much effect on the Dark Knight more so than the death of Robin at the hands of the Joker.  NOTE: I want it noted that though I was no fan of Jason Todd, the Odinson did call in and vote for Robin to live.  I am not a big fan of my heroes failing.       

     

    Death of Superman (The Biggest) The demise of the first and great super hero in history was, hands down, the biggest “Event Death” in Comics History.  Not since “Who shot JR?” has a pop culture event captured the imagination of the media and the populace at large the way this one did.  The news of the Last Son of Krypton falling at the hands of the monster Doomsday, made headlines around the world and even led primetime news casts.  It was a pop culture phenomenon and Superman #75 became one the Top 5 greatest selling single issues in the history of comic books.  For years leading up to this event, the Man of Steel’s popularity with fans had been waning and readers were taking him for granted.  The death of Superman showed everyone - in the DCU and the real world - what a World without Superman would be like.  Everyone remembered just how much they loved this great American icon and how important he actually is to the mythos of modern pop culture and storytelling.      

     

    Death of Captain America (The Most Poignant) The death of the Man of Steel might have been the biggest media “Event Death” but the death of Captain America was the most heart-wrenching and gut-punching super hero death for the Marvel Universe, for the real world media, and especially for the Odinson.  After the super hero Civil War tore the Marvel U in half, the world’s greatest hero, the one man that all the super powers of the Marvel Universe, from the Children of the Atom to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, look up to, the one man that even arch villains like Doctor Doom and Magneto respects, was assassinated.  It felt like the heart of the Marvel Universe had been ripped out.  The Odinson has made no qualms about who his favorite heroes are.  On the Mount Rushmore of the Odinson’s all-time favorite super heroes is Superman, Thor, ROM, and, head-and-shoulders above all others, Captain America.  I know that I am too old to get sucked into the melodrama of comic books and I have seen this scenario play out too many times to be fooled by it, but I could not help but be affected by the demise of my hero.  It hit the Odinson like a ton of bricks.  Like the heroes of the Marvel U, I too went through all the stages of grief - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  Like Superman, Captain America represents the best that mankind can be, and I’m not talking about their super human attributes.  I’m talking about the moral compass, the leadership, the innate goodness, the want to help others, the striving to be the best man, woman or child one can be.  I’m talking about the ability to find a better way, no matter what, to lead by example, to inspire.  That is why the death of Captain America not only resonated so much with the Odinson and the Marvel Universe, but also with the real world itself.     

     

    Death of Spider-Man (The Most Shocking) The demise of the Boy Wonder may have been the first, the demise of the Man of Steel may have been the biggest, and the demise of the Sentinel of Liberty may have been the most heartbreaking, but the death of Spider-Man was the most shocking!  When the moment came, the Odinson could not believe the courage of the House of Ideas to actually follow through with it.  It’s not that the Odinson could not believe that they killed off yet another comic book icon.  No, we’ve seen that scenario play out many, many times over the years.  No, it was how they executed it.  For years, Spider-Man had faced every single death trap, master plan, and sneak attack his brilliant foe Doctor Octopus could throw at him, but the hero can win a thousand times, the villain only has to win once.  In the aftermath of the final battle between these eternal foes, Peter Parker, trapped inside the decaying body of his arch enemy, lay dead, and standing over him triumphant stood the Superior Spider-Man.  Otto Octavius had accomplished what few super villains have in the history of comics, he had defeated and killed his hated enemy, and worse, he took control of his foe’s body in the process.  The death of Spider-Man led to two years of decidedly different Spidey-storytelling as the spectacular wall-crawler was replaced by Otto’s “Superior” brand.  As polarizing as the Superior Spider-Man arc has been, one thing cannot be denied, it was interesting and original.         

     

    The Age of the Super Hero Death (The Trend) – In the twenty years following the demise of the Man of Steel, the landscape of the comics multiverse became littered with the bodies of fallen heroes.  It soon became a trend in the industry, almost as if a character could be validated without being offed.  Now I’m not referring to “What If?” scenarios or Elseworlds alternate realities.  No, I’m referring to deaths that happen within the narrative of continuity.  The following is by no means a complete list of all those that met their maker during this time but from 1994 to 2014 here are some of the more prominent names on the list of heroes that met their demise - Wonder Woman, Iron Man, Hal Jordan, Aquaman, Green Arrow, StormWatch, Avengers Disassembled (Featuring the deaths of Hawkeye, Ant-Man, Jack-o-Hearts, and Vision), Thor, Batman, Spawn, Mister Fantastic and the Human Torch.  Even the death of the entire Marvel Universe and another Robin happened during this time period.  Pretty much anyone and everyone in the pages of modern comics has met their end at one point in time or another.  The Age of Death in Comics reached its pinnacle when fans had to suffer the Death of Archie.

     

    Even though in real life it is quite the opposite, there is one truth in comic books – death is never the end.  In comics, the afterlife has a revolving door and any and everyone who meets their maker sooner or later finds their way back to the land of the living.  Yes, even Bucky.  Which brings the Odinson to the next major “Event Death” to come down the pipeline.

     

    Be here next week when the Odinson takes a look at the Death of Wolverine.   

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • The Odinson’s Top 5 Doctor Who Moments of the New Millennium

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    Launched in 1963, Doctor Who is the longest running science fiction television series in the history of the medium.  Like James Bond, many different actors have taken on the mantle of the Doctor.  Whether it was William Hartnell’s cantankerous and character-defining 1st Doctor, Peter Davison’s celery-sporting 5th Doctor, or the over-the-top, rainbow clad, volatile 6th Doctor portrayed by Colin Baker, every generation and every fan has their favorite Doctor.  As a child of the late-seventies and early eighties watching syndicated episodes of the show on PBS on Saturday nights, the Odinson grew up with the marvelous Tom Baker and the sweeping scarf of the 4th Doctor.  From the devastating Daleks and the cold, calculating Cybermen to the sinister Weeping Angels and the Moriarty-like Master, Doctor Who’s scary and diabolical Rogues Gallery is part of what makes the series so enjoyable.   

     

    Doctor Who ran uninterrupted for 26 seasons from 1963 to 1989.  It had a resurgence in 1996.  But the show really jumped over the moon in its current run of 2005 to Present.  Christopher Eccleston’s 9th Doctor brought the character into the New Millennium with biting-wit and a wink that let everybody know that no matter how bad things may get, everything was going to be alright.  David Tennant’s 10th Doctor, arguably the most popular incarnation of the character to date, took on the perils and danger of time travel with an unparalleled passion and his heart firmly pinned to his sleeve.  For the Odinson, with much love given to Tom Baker and Tennant, his all-time favorite incarnation of the Doctor is, without a doubt, Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor, a bow tie clad imp who one second could be taking on the challenges of time travel with childlike wonder and on a dime turn into the most intimidating and capable hero the multiverse has ever seen.

     

    Doctor Who has had a long and distinguished run and to try and talk about all the countless amazing moments in its history would be an act in futility.  So I will just stick to the renaissance.    

     

    The Odinson’s Top 5 Doctor Who Moments of the New Millennium

     

    5 –Fair Enough.” - The 9th Doctor - Episode: “World War III!” – Picking up from the previous episode’s cliffhanger, the Slitheen, blobby aliens that use skin suits to walk amongst us, have revealed themselves and attack a group of influential government leaders.  The Doctor alerts a team of armed guards of the plight.  By time the Doctor and the guards return, the aliens have slithered back into their skin suits, appearing to be human and blame the deaths of the others on the Doctor.  The Doctor pleas with the guards, saying that the high ranking government officials standing before them are in fact aliens in disguise.  The Doctor, noticing the skepticism in a guard’s face, asks, “That’s never going to work, is it?”  To which the guard replies, “No.”  The Doctor simply says, “Fair enough,” and then just runs away.  The absurdity of that moment has me in stitches every time I see it.  It is, hands down, one the funniest moments in Doctor Who History.      

     

    4 – “I don’t want to go.” - The 10th Doctor - Episode: “The End of Time!” – After his much beloved run on the character, and an epic battle to save reality alongside his longtime nemesis, The Master, David Tennant’s 10th Doctor bid Adieu.  During the final chapter, the 10th Doctor travels across time and space and says farewell to all his friends, allies and companions in a very poignant montage.  The moment culminates in a signature Tennant driven emotional finale where the 10th Doctor, with tears in his eyes, simply says – “I don’t want to go.”  It’s a beautiful moment that conveys all the love fans have for this legendary character and the love the creators of the show have for the fans.       

     

    3 – “Spoilers!” - The 10th Doctor - Episode: “Forrest of the Dead!” – In a moment of heroism, Professor River Song sacrifices herself to save the life of the Doctor.  She tells him that if he were to die now, then they would have never met in her past.  How does she know so much about the Doctor? This moment could make the list on the weight of its emotional content alone, but what really makes this an all-timer is the gravitas of the moment, the secret truth behind it as it would be revealed over the course of the next few years of Doctor Who episodes.  Without giving too much away, Doctor Who and River Song have an epic and tragic love affair where throughout their history starting at the beginning point of this episode, he knows her more and she knows him less as their paths cross time and again moving forward into the future.  Isn’t time-travel fun?  The wonderful meaning of this moment will be made quite clear and all the more resonating as the series progresses and the viewers of the show witness their story unfold throughout the 11th Doctor’s run.  “Spoilers!”   

     

    2 – “…there’s one thing you never put in a trap… - The 11th Doctor - Episode: “The Time of Angels!” – The Weeping Angels, easily one of the Doctor’s most terrifying foes, have returned.  These creatures are angelic statues, as long as one has eyes on them.  But, the moment you blink or the lights go out, you’re dead.  In this amazingly suspenseful episode, The Doctor, his companion, Amy Pond, River Song, and a small band of soldiers are trapped in a cave, surrounded by the approaching Angels, and the power to their only sources of light is quickly dying.  With nowhere left to run and certain death literally moments away, the Weeping Angels make a tactical error.  They taunt the Doctor with their impending victory and reveal that the last human under his protection died with fear.  It’s in moments like this that the Doctor truly shines and the uncanny Time Lord responds to this no win situation by saying – “…there’s one thing you never put in a trap, if you’re smart, if you value your existence, if you have any plans about seeing tomorrow, there’s one thing you never ever put in a trap.”  To which the Angels ask, “And what would that be?”  And with all the confidence of a true hero, the Doctor says, “Me.”  What happens next would be spoiling the fun, but let’s just say, the Doctor is true to his word.

     

    1 – “Hello.  I’m the Doctor.  Basically, run.” - The 11th Doctor - Episode: “The Eleventh Hour!” – If I knew someone who knew nothing about Doctor Who and had never watched a single episode and they asked what one episode they could watch to make them a fan, this would be the episode I would show them.  Matt Smith explodes into the role with all the boyish charm and brilliant comedic timing of a seasoned pro.  We learn that there is a crack in the time stream, a mystery that would go on to play a major role in the run of the 11th Doctor.  We are even introduced to Prisoner Zero, a sinister new dangerous and scary villain.  As if that weren’t enough we are introduced to the beautiful and resourceful Amy Pond, the girl who waits, the brave and oft times silly Rory Williams, the Last Centurion, and the fact that bow ties are cool.  But those are not the moments that make this entry number one on my list.  No, it is as the Doctor stands, nonchalantly trying decide which tie to go with, he calls back the alien Atraxi fleet, which decided not to blow up the planet Earth.  The Doctor tells the giant alien eye ball to take a good look at him.  The Atraxi (and the audience) see in that moment the history of Doctor Who, and all the would-be alien conquerors that have threatened this world and met defeat at his hands flash by in an instant.  In that moment, the Atraxi fleet realizes who it is that protects planet Earth and all of humanity.  The Doctor simply says, “Hello.  I’m the Doctor.  Basically, run.”  And they do.  This is the moment for the Odinson that in a nutshell explains just what this show and the Doctor is.  FANTASTIC!

     

    Honorable Mention: The Day of the Doctor – Not only does this epic special bring together two of the most beloved Doctors in history – David Tennant’s 10th Doctor and Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor – and team them up with the “War Doctor,” the Doctor responsible for the guilt all Doctors share, but in one tremendously epic moment, the audience witnesses the team-up of every single incarnation of the Doctor from the past, present, and future!  It’s a spectacular sight to behold.

     

    From “Do the smart thing and let somebody else try first” to “You smell like fish” – there are so many great and wonderful moments from the history of this legendary show.  These Top 5 moments above are the Odinson’s favorite Doctor Who moments of the New Millennium.  What are yours?  Geronimo!

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

     

     

  • Bonus Round: Heroes and Villains that Aren’t “Super”

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    Bonus Round: Heroes that Aren’t “Super” Heroes

     

    3 – Dutch – Major Alan “Dutch” Schaefer was the leader of an elite Special Forces rescue team.  They were the best in the world at dropping into the most dangerous and volatile spots around the world, real meat-grinders, and pulling off rescue missions nobody else could.  Then they ran into the greatest hunter in the galaxy – The Predator.  In the hot, sweltering jungles of South America one-by-one Dutch’s elite team was taken out by an unseen adversary from beyond the stars.  In true hero fashion, Dutch, being the last man standing, challenges the alien hunter to a one-on-one battle to the death.  Using his Special Forces training, survival skills, stealth, and cunning, Dutch was able to pull off the impossible.  He was able to overcome a foe who was physically and technologically far superior to him.  In the pantheon of super soldiers, names like Steve Rogers, Duke Hauser, John Rambo, and Master Chief may rank higher, but Dutch definitely makes it into the conversation.  

     

    2 – Rick Hunter – At the turn of the century, a monstrous vessel from space crash landed on Earth and changed the course of human history.  Its alien technology jump started a revolution of advancement.  In the aftermath of global war, a new utopian age dawned and the alien vessel was reconstructed into the SDF-1.  However, ancient cosmic secrets resided in the SDF-1 and the Zentradi, a race of giant aliens, brought their armies to Earth to retrieve them for their Robotech Masters.  A great war broke out between Earth and the alien Zentradi, a war though won by the humans, it was a war that left planet Earth a devastated barren wasteland.  This war saw many heroes rise to the challenge and the call to arms.  Names like Roy Fokker, Max Sterling and Miriya Sterling, Lisa Hayes, and Admiral Gloval would become legends, but one name would rise above them all – Rick Hunter.  A former circus pilot, Hunter was drawn into the events of the First Robotech War and would become one of the most cunning Veritech fighter pilots and a leader of men.  His courage under fire was tested countless times and he has taken on everything the Zentradi could possibly through at him.  Due in no small part to the brave efforts of Rick Hunter, the First Robotech War was won, but Hunter would go on to become the Admiral of the SDF-3 and lead the brave Robotech Sentinels into deep space to meet the evil alien Invid, the true villains of the Robotech Saga, head on and secure a place for mankind among the stars.

     

    1 – Obi-Wan Kenobi Anakin Skywalker may have been the Chosen One.  Mace Windu may have been the greatest swordsman in the galaxy.  Yoda may have been the most legendary practitioner of the Force.  Luke Skywalker may have been A New Hope.  But, hands down, Obi-Wan Kenobi was the greatest Jedi Knight in a galaxy far, far away.  He was a cunning warrior and wise teacher.  He singlehandedly defeated the deadly Darth Maul, the Sith warrior that murdered the Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, Kenobi’s own teacher.  It was Kenobi’s investigations that brought light to the diabolical plot of the Separatists, an investigation that saw Kenobi survive duals with Jango Fett, the galaxy’s deadliest bounty hunter, and Darth Tyranus, a Sith Lord of immense dark power.  Kenobi served the Republic as a general in the harrowing Clone Wars.  And, it was Obi-Wan Kenobi that defeated the powerful Darth Vader, crippling the Sith Lord and leaving him on the shores of a volcanic river.  But Obi-Wan Kenobi’s greatest contribution to the annuals of heroism was that on the remote desert world of Tatooine, he stood as silent protector over a young Luke Skywalker and trained the young man in the ways of the Force.  He sacrificed himself so that Luke and his companions could escape the Death Star and thus becoming a martyr to the young man that would go on to play a major role in saving the galaxy from the iron grip of the evil Empire.  

     

    Bonus Round: Villains that Aren’t “Super” Villains

     

    3 – Cy-Kill – In the pantheon of transforming robot tyrants, there is no arguing that Megatron is the king.  But, the name of Cy-Kill, the sinister leader of the evil Renegades, an evil race of machines locked in an eternal war with the brave Guardians, is worth mentioning.  The Go-Bots are a race of transforming robots from the far off world Gobotron whose war has spilled over to planet Earth.  Cy-Kill has the ability to transform from a sentient Harley into a monstrous robot of devastating strength.  He can propel throw the sky and project bolts of immense destructive force from his metal fists.  With dangerous mechanical warriors like Cop-Tur, Crasher, and more under his command, Cy-Kill has proven to be a hard foe for Leader-1 and his brave Guardians to defeat.  Some may refer to the Go-Bots as the K-Mart Transformers, but there is no denying the malevolence of a villain that would open fire unconsciously upon innocent teenagers.   

     

    2 – Angelus – Long before he was Angel, the vampire with a soul, he was Angelus, one of the most horrible creatures of the night to ever stalk the earth.  Angelus, alongside his gang of vampires – Darla, Spike and Drusilla – cut a swath of terror and mayhem across the Old World in the nineteenth century rarely seen even in the annals of supernatural horror.  Angelus has a genius level intellect and is a sadistic monster.  He prefers to utterly destroy a victim’s world – family, friends, and everything around she or he may hold dear.  Only after his victim is a broken shell of their former self will Angelus end their life.  He enjoys torturing his enemies and playing twisted mind games.  Others may argue that The Master, Mayor Wilkins, Glory, or The First are Buffy’s greatest enemies, but there can be no denying that Angelus was her most personal.  The star-crossed romance of Buffy and Angel is the stuff of legend.  So, it should come as no surprise when Angel loses his soul and reverts back to his evil Angelus ways, it was one of the lowest points in Buffy’s life.  Angelus, using his signature vindictive mind games, terrorizes the Scobby Gang, murders Jenny Calendar, and tortures Giles to within an inch of his life.  But the greatest heartbreak of all came when, in order to save the world, Buffy had to kill the man she loved.  It was a Shakespearian moment rarely achieved again in the saga of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  The Odinson would argue that Angelus was, hands down, Buffy’s greatest villain.       

     

    1 – Frankenstein’s Monster – On the Mount Rushmore of Movie Monsters there is the Zombie, Godzilla, Dracula, and this patchwork creation of a demented madman named Frankenstein.  Sown together from the assorted parts of dead men, accidently given the brain of a deceased murderer, and given a morbid undead life by the power of macabre super science and a bolt of lightning, this creature is a juggernaut of monstrous strength, supernatural mortality, and possesses an unquenchable thirst for revenge against his creator.  In the nearly two centuries since he was introduced in the book by Mary Shelley, the Monster has been many things.  He has been a monster, a hero, an explorer, a mobster, and misunderstood.  Frankenstein’s Monster, alongside his fellow Universal MonstersDracula, the Wolf-Man, the Mummy, the Bride, and Creature from the Black Lagoon – has become a macabre icon of pop culture and will be for generations to come.      

     

    Honorable Mentions: The HeroesJames Dalton, Crocodile Dundee, and Jesse Custer.  The VillainsAnnie Wilkes, The Invid, and the Dragon Highlords of Krynn.

     

    Bonus Round: Hero that is not a “Super” Hero Hall of Fame - The Doctor.

    Bonus Round: Villain that is not a “Super” Villain Hall of Fame – Fu Manchu.

     

    And finally, the lone entry into our Non-“Super” Anti-Hero Hall of Fame goes to – Raistlin Majere.

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

     

  • Top 10 Villains that Aren’t Super Villains: Part 2

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    Be sure to check out last week’s Top 10 Villains that Aren’t Super Villains: Part 1.

     

    There are villains in the annals of pop culture that do not fall under the category of Super Villain.  However, their dastardly deeds and malevolent machinations are no less SUPER.

     

    Top 10 Villains that Aren’t Super Villains: Part 2 

     

    5 – Khan Noonien Singh …from Hell’s heart, I stab at thee…  In the years leading up to the 21st Century, the Eugenics War engulfed the globe as an army of genetically created “super-men” revolted and attempted to take control.  This new race of supermen was faster, stronger, and smarter than any normal man or woman could possibly be, and their leader was the man known as Khan.  Thanks in no small part to the time-traveling Special Agent Gary Seven and his assistant, Roberta and Isis, and infighting among his kind, Khan’s plans for world domination began to crumble.  He and his race of supermen and women placed themselves in suspended animation and blasted off in a special rocket ship to seek out a new world to rule.  Nearly three-hundred years later, Khan’s derelict ship is discovered by the Starship Enterprise.  Khan is awakened and immediately tries to usurp control of the Starfleet vessel.  It is only through the cunning and courage of Captain Kirk that the superman from the past is defeated.  Years later, Kirk and the brave crew of the Enterprise would face the Wrath of Khan.  It is a revenge plot that would not only see the end of the greatest villain in Star Trek History, but would also claim the life of one of the most beloved heroes in Star Trek History. 

     

    4 – SkeletorMy power is beyond your understanding.  This blue-skinned, skull-faced villain is a warlock with vast magical and cosmic powers at his disposal.  As the Lord of Snake Mountain, Skeletor has an army of mutants, monsters, witches, and demons under his command.  Among his most elite henchmen are Beast-Man, the ferocious beast-master of Eternia, Trap-Jaw, the cybernetic assassin, Tri-Klops, the three-eyed swordsman with mystic sight, and Evil-Lyn, a powerful witch whose abilities and ambitions rival Skeletor’s own.  He is armed with a goat-skull staff that possesses an array of magical abilities including force bolts, shield generation, and teleportation, just to name a few.  Skeletor was trained in the mystic arts by the demonic Hordak.  Skeletor desires to conquer the ancient citadel known as Castle Grayskull and obtain the cosmic secrets hidden within.  The only thing standing in this villain’s way and universal domination is He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.

     

    3 – Cobra Commander COBRA!!!  With his iconic mirror-plated helmet or hood, this shrill-voiced man is the leader of Cobra, a terrorist organization determined to rule the world.  His cabal of conspirators is comprised of Destro, the steel-faced weapons dealer, Major Bludd, the deadly soldier with a bionic arm, Doctor Mindbender, a sinister mad scientist, Tomax and Xamot, the acrobatic twins that finance Cobra’s coup, and the Baroness, a master of espionage and disguise and the most cunning and perhaps deadliest woman alive.  Also under his command are Storm Shadow, the world’s deadliest ninja, and Zartan, the world’s deadliest assassin.  From the devastating HISS Tank to the lightning-fast RATTLER Jet, Cobra Commander’s army is equipped with the deadliest weapons of mass destruction ever assembled.  Even the brave efforts of GI Joe may not be enough to stop this madman’s endeavor to take control of the world.  In fact, the only things that do prevent Cobra Commander from taking over the world are the ambiguous loyalties of his cabal and his own cowardice.      

     

    2 – DraculaListen to them, the children of the night.  What music they make.  Hundreds of years ago, Vlad the Impaler was a feared warlord that would have his vanquished enemies impaled upon pikes.  He was cursed to walk the earth as an undead creature of darkness with an insatiable thirst for human blood.  As the Lord of Vampires, Dracula’s supernatural powers are vast.  He is as strong as twenty men and as fast as the wind.  He is able to transform into mist, a dire wolf, and a monstrous bat.  He has control over the vermin and all things that slither in the dark places men fears to go.  He can summon storms, and he has the power to bend a man’s mind and dominate others with his force of will.  Dracula is a cunning and deadly foe who boasts victories over the greatest heroes in the multiverse.  Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, the X-Men, Superman, Batman, and even the Silver Surfer have all felt the sting of Dracula’s bite.  Only the Mighty Thor has been able to withstand the Vampire Lord’s dark power.  Even the greatest monster hunters in history – Abraham Van Helsing, Blade the Daywalker, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer – have never truly defeated the Prince of Darkness, only slowed him down.  As an immortal, Dracula has centuries of experience under his belt and his only weaknesses – fire, holy instruments, sunlight, powerful magic, and a stake through the heart – can only hurt and slow him down.  Dracula is arguably the greatest villain in the history of fiction whose devilish exploits are only surpassed by the next dastardly name on this list.     

     

    1 – Darth Vader I find your lack of faith disturbing.  Once upon a time, Anakin Skywalker was a brave and cunning Jedi Knight, a hero of the Clone Wars, and a trusted ally of the Galactic Senate.  But anger, fear, and aggression led him down a dark path and Anakin was seduced by the power of the Dark Side of the Force.  When he became Darth Vader, the man he once was ceased to exist.  He helped the evil Emperor Palpatine hunt down and destroy the Jedi Order and forged an Empire to rule the galaxy in an iron grip.  In an epic dual on a volcanic world against his former ally, Obi Wan Kenobi, Vader was severally injured and his body was reconstructed with robotics making him a cyborg with bone-crushing might.  Vader is armed with a red-jeweled lightsaber, a laser-sword that can deflect energy and cut through nearly anything.  He is a master swordsman and cunning pilot.  But the greatest weapon at Vader’s disposal is his affinity with the Force, an all-powerful energy field that connects everything in the galaxy.  Through the Force, Vader has amazing telekinetic and empathic powers.  He can use the power of his mind to choke an enemy, even over great distances.  So all-consuming is Vader’s fall to the Dark Side that he is responsible for the murder of innocent children and even entire planets.  He is the most infamous and most feared villain in the history of fiction.           

     

    Honorable Mentions:  Mumm-Ra, Leatherface, Hannibal Lecter, Herr Star, Kane, Pin-Head, Zoltar, Megatron, Lord Voldemort, Shang Tsung, Freddy Kruger, Mother Brain, Agent Smith, Darth Maul, the Daleks, Boris and Natasha, Gargamel, and Mecha-Godzilla.

     

    There are two legends that must be pointed out, two names that belong in The Non-Supervillain Villain Hall of Fame – Bigfoot and the shark from JAWS.

     

    Tune in next week for a special Bonus Round – The Forgotten Heroes/Villains that Aren’t “Super.”

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

     

     

  • Top 10 Villains that Aren’t Super Villains: Part 1

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    Last week, the Odinson rounded out his latest list with Top 10 Heroes that Aren’t Super Heroes: Part 2.

     

    Legendary pop culture heroes like Popeye and James Bond may not be identified by the genre of Super Hero, but the villains they face are every bit as dangerous and colorful as those in the Rogues Galleries of Batman and Spider-Man.  These evil-doers, these monsters and madmen, may not be classified as supervillains, but their villainous exploits are no less dastardly. 

     

    Top 10 Villains that Aren’t Super Villains: Part 1 

     

    10 – The Undertaker Deadman walking.  For over two decades, there has been no more respected, revered, and feared combatant in the squared-circle than the colossus known simply as The Undertaker.  Standing nearly seven-feet tall with stone-hard skin, catlike agility, and incredible near superhuman strength, the Taker has used devastating moves like the choke-slam, “Old School,” and the Tombstone to cut a swath of destruction across the history of the WWE.  From Hulk Hogan to the Ultimate Warrior to Stone Cold Steve Austin, the undead man known as “The Phenom” has defeated every single contender that has dared to challenge his unholy power.  His bouts with the insane Mankind in the Hell in a Cell match (a no holds barred cage match) and his monstrous brother Kane in the Inferno match (the ring surrounded by fire) are the stuff of legend.  He’s been burned, beaten mercilessly by a mob, and buried alive, but, like a nightmarish phoenix, The Undertaker always rises from the ashes, darker, stronger, and more devastating than before.  His unprecedented 20-year win streak at WrestleMania is an unbelievable feat that will never be broken.        

     

    9 – King Ghidorah No plane can fly that fast.  That looked to me like it was from another planet…  With three heads of terror, this alien titan from beyond the stars is the most powerful kaiju of them all.  Standing over four-hundred feet tall, Ghidorah’s massive dragon-like wings allow him to fly at super-sonic speeds and create hurricane-force winds when they flap.  Each of its snake-like heads can spew bolts of lightning that can fell opponents and demolish skyscrapers.  It is said that King Ghidorah is indestructible.  So powerful is this monster that it takes the combined might of the most legendary kaiju - Mothra, Rodan, and Godzilla - just to contain him.  Whether he is known as Ghidorah, Ghidrah, Monster Zero, or the Dragon King, King Ghidorah is one kaiju where a “blazing-sword” just isn’t going to cut it.   

     

    8 – Jason Voorhees ki-ki-ki-mah-mah-mah…  He is the infamous hockey mask-wearing stalker of Camp Crystal Lake.  As a child, due to neglectful camp counselors, Jason drowned.  For the next decade, his vengeful mother made it her mission to punish the camp and anyone who visited it for this transgression.  After Mrs. Voorhees met with her demise at the hands of a would-be victim, Jason took on the family business of revenge.  At first, Jason was a demented hillbilly, but after his death and subsequent resurrection, due to errant lightning, he has become a walking juggernaut of death and mayhem.  His weapon of choose is the machete, but from simple cooking utensils to standard gardening tools, anything and everything is a lethal instrument of murder in the hands of Jason.  He is seemingly unstoppable, unkillable.  Nothing can stand in his way of killing absolutely everything and everyone that crosses his path – not police, not boxers, not bikers, not hunters, not girls with psychic powers, not cyborgs, not even his fellow slasher Freddy Kruger can stop him.  Death can’t even stop him, only slow him down.  He always comes back, deadlier than ever.  For over three decades, Jason Voorhees has cut a swath of terror in and around Crystal Lake, the Big Apple, the dreamworld, and even in outer space.  He is the King of the Slashers.        

     

    7 – SkynetOn August 29th, 1997…anybody not wearing two-million sunblock is going to have a real bad day...  More sinister than the Daleks, more diabolical than Ultron, more terrifying than The Matrix, Skynet is an artificial intelligence hell-bent on eradicating the disease known as mankind off the face of the earth forever.  Its first attempt to exterminate humans happened when Skynet simultaneously launched every single nuclear warhead on the planet.  This brought mankind to the verge of extinction.  Then, Skynet created hunter/killer machines known as Terminators to sweep across the globe and finish the job.  However, a human resistance, led by John Connor, fought back and even threatened to defeat the machines.  A sore loser, Skynet concocted its most diabolical scheme yet. To insure its victory over man, Skynet sent Terminators back through time to key moments in the past.  First, in 1984, Skynet sends a T-800, a cyborg assassin, to exterminate Sarah Connor, John’s mother, thus preventing its greatest enemy from ever being born.  Next, in 1995, Skynet sent a T-1000, a more advanced Terminator, to assassinate Connor himself.  Finally, Skynet sends a T-X, an even more advanced Terminator, to 2004 to assassinate all the resistance leaders, including John Connor, that play a part in its demise in the future.  Thanks to the heroic efforts and sacrifices of Kyle Reece, Sarah Connor, and a reprogrammed T-800, Skynet’s efforts to alter human history have failed.  But Skynet is a clever A.I. and always seemingly one step ahead of its human adversaries.  How long before is resurfaces once again to plague mankind?          

     

    6 – The Queen of Blades I am the Swarm…worlds will burn.  As a human, Sarah Kerrigan was a Ghost, an elite assassin with cloak tech and psychic abilities.  However, after being infested by the zerg, Kerrigan was transformed into the Queen of Blades, the immensely powerful ruler of the Swarm, a vast army of alien creatures with the ability to adapt, to survive, to kill, to conquer.  The Queen of Blades can fly, regenerate lost limbs, is super strong, and fast.  Kerrigan’s already considerable psionics have been amplified to demi-godlike levels.  The Swarm is a hive-mind under the complete control of its queen and its constantly hatching numbers are countless.  The Swarm, under the command of the Queen of Blades, has washed over the galaxy and is responsible for the deaths of billions. It is all the terran armies of the Dominion and the zealot nations of the alien Protoss can do just to contain the encroaching zerg.  The Queen of Blades is a genocidal threat on par with the Dark Phoenix and Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds.       

     

    Now that’s an auspicious start to a truly notorious list of infamous evildoers.  Tune in next week when the Odinson rounds out this list with the Top 5.  Who will top the list?  Here’s a hint: the conqueror, the warlock, the commander, the vampire, and the dark lord of the Sith.

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

     

     

     

  • Top 10 Heroes that Aren’t Super Heroes: Part 2

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    Be sure to check out last week’s Top 10 Heroes that Aren’t Super Heroes: Part 1.

     

     In the annals of pop culture, there are other heroes that don’t fall into the Super Hero genre.  These heroes are the non-traditional kind.  They don’t wear garish costumes.  They don’t have secret bases of operations that orbit high above the Earth.  Some of them may have abilities far beyond those of ordinary men and women, but they are not classified by the Super Hero Genre.  However, their heroic exploits are no less SUPER.

     

    Top 10 Heroes that Aren’t Super Heroes: Part 2 

     

    5 – Conan Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.  This mighty Cimmerian is the greatest hero in the history of fantasy/sword and sorcery.  Created by the Godfather of written fantasy Robert E. Howard, Conan has been vanquishing warriors, wizards, monsters, demons and everything else the Hyborian Age can throw at him since his first appearance in 1932 in the pages of Weird Tales.  He’s been a Wanderer, an Adventurer, a Pirate, a Destroyer, an Avenger, a Conqueror, and a King.  Whether wielding his iconic Atlantean sword, a mighty double-bladed battle axe, or just the hilt of a broken blade, Conan the Barbarian is indomitable.    

     

    4 – Buffy Summers So, Dawn’s in trouble…must be Tuesday.  She is the slayer, the one girl in all the world that has the skill and power to defend mankind against the monsters, the vampires, and the forces of darkness.  Alongside Willow Rosenberg, the world’s most powerful witch, Xander Harris, master of mirth, and Rupert Giles, her Watcher and accomplished magic-user, Buffy and Scoobies reside on top of the Hellmouth, located underneath the ironically named hamlet Sunnydale, and vanguard against the Apocalypses that seemingly threaten the realm of man on a yearly basis.  Buffy is super strong, fast, agile, and has a wicked knack for one-liners.  She can save the world and make it to the high school dance without breaking a sweat.  Her only weakness seems to be vampires with a soul.         

     

    3 – Luke Skywalker I’m a Jedi, like my father.  Luke Skywalker was a simple farmboy with an eye to the stars, an everyman with an adventurer’s heart.  His life was forever changed the day he met two curious droids, R2-D2 and C-3PO, and an old wizard named Obi-Wan Kenobi.  After hooking up with the space pirates, Han Solo and Chewbacca, Luke Skywalker and his intrepid band of heroes are swept up in the harrowing events of an intergalactic civil war.  They storm the Death Star to rescue the imperiled Princess Leia.  They vanquish the mighty gangster – Jabba the Hutt.  Along the way, Luke meets up with the legendary Jedi Master, Yoda, and gets trained in the ancient ways of the Force.  And, Luke and the Rebel Alliance defeat the sinister Emperor, the mighty Darth Vader, and their evil Empire.  Luke’s Jedi training has made him fast and super agile.  He is armed with a powerful laser-sword known as a Lightsaber, and he possesses immense empathic and telekinetic mind-powers.  As the first Jedi Knight in over a generation, it falls upon Luke to train the next generation of heroes who will protect peace and enforce justice in a galaxy far, far away.

     

    2 – Indiana Jones Snakes…why did have to be snakes.  He’s an archeologist.  He’s a professor.  He’s an adventurer.  Indiana Jones scours the globe in search of ancient artifacts from antiquity, some of which have been known to possess supernatural ties.  He has discovered the hidden resting places of the Golden Fleece, the Ark of the Covenant, and the Holy Grail.  He has faced down deadly booby traps, sinister witch-doctors that pull a man’s still beating heart from his chest, and malevolent Nazis.  He’s armed with a six-shooter, a bullwhip, and a right-cross that could drop an ox.  But, the greatest weapon at his disposal is his super keen mind.  He’s brave beyond comparison.  His only weaknesses seem to be pretty ladies and an unnatural fear of snakes.    

     

    1 – James Bond Bond.  James Bond.  Codenamed 007, Bond is a secret agent working for the British Secret Service with a license to kill or be killed.  Armed with everything from exploding chewing gum to wristwatches that shoot poisonous darts, from ejector seats to submarine-cars, Bond’s personal arsenal is comprised of every gadget one can possibly conceive.  This gives him an edge in the world of cloak and dagger, the battleground where this super spy matches brawn and wits against maniacal madmen bent on world domination and their various henchmen and assassins.  His conquests in the arena of love are just as legendary as his victories over the forces of evil.  Armed with his trusty Walther PPK and his devilish smile, there isn’t a Dr. No, Odd-Job, or femme fatale that James Bond cannot conquer.        

     

    Honorable Mentions:  The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Nick Fury, Sydney Bristow, Angel, Red Sonja, Xena the Warrior Princess, Neo, TRON, Jack Burton, Ron Burgundy, Ron Swanson and the Men in Black.

     

    There are two legends that must be pointed out, two names that belong in The Non-Superhero Hero Hall of FameBruce Lee and Chuck Norris.

     

    Tune in next week when the Odinson ranks the Top 10 Villains that Aren’t Super Villains. 

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

     

  • Top 10 Heroes that Aren’t Super Heroes: Part 1

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    Superman.  Batman.  Wonder Woman.  Spider-Man.  Captain America.  Thor.  These are true icons of the Super Hero genre. Super Heroes are extraordinary men and women gifted with superhuman abilities, gadgets, and weapons.  They are known for their unique, distinctive, and often colorful costumes.  Some wear capes, some wear masks, and they all stand for Truth and Justice.  They face down villains that are every bit as supernatural as they are, and they live in and protect monolithic cities of the future.  But in the annals of pop culture, there are other heroes.

     

    These heroes are the non-traditional kind.  They don’t all wear garish costumes.  They don’t have secret bases of operations that orbit high above the Earth.  Some of them may have abilities far beyond those of ordinary men and women, but they are not classified in the Super Hero Genre.  However, their heroic exploits are no less SUPER.

     

    Top 10 Heroes that Aren’t Super Heroes: Part 1  

     

    10 - Drizzt Do’Urden Courageous people do not surrender hope.  In a band of heroes that includes a giant barbarian with an invincible warhammer, an archer whose magic bow never misses its target, a dwarf king whose hide is as tough as a mountainside, and an uncanny thief with a magical jewel that can bend men’s will, the dark elf ranger, Drizzt, and his amazing whirling dual scimitars stands out.  Drizzt turned his back on the evil ways of his kindred and left the Underdark to make a life for himself on the surface world.  There his exploits have become legend throughout the Forgotten Realms.  He is one of the most gifted swordsmen in fiction.  He’s fast, agile, cunning, and resourceful.  He possesses a magical statue that can summon an astral panther to fight at his side.  This powerful beast is his most trusted ally and friend.  Like the X-Men, due to his heritage, Drizzt finds himself defending those that hate and fear him.  Whether he’s facing down invading barbarian hordes, dueling assassins, slaying dragons, or faces off against powerful demons from the underworld, Drizzt is a force for good to be reckoned with in any realm.   

     

    9 – Hulk Hogan Whatcha gonna do when Hulkamania runs wild on you?!  An idol to millions of fans around the world, Hogan is the six-foot seven-inch, red and yellow clad hero of the squared-circle.  He preaches to the kids to say their prayers and eat their vitamins.  He can’t abide bullies.  With adversaries like Macho Man Randy Savage, King Kong Bundy, Zeus, The Ultimate Warrior, Rowdy Roddy Piper, and Andre the Giant, Hogan’s Rogues Gallery is every bit as colorful as those of Batman and Spider-Man.  He has a never give up attitude.  Even when he has been pummeled almost into submission, Hogan is able to draw energy from the crowd and “Hulk-Up,” an act that increases his already near super human strength and allows him to vanquish any foe.  Over the years there may be other more popular athletes in the realm of sports entertainment, but make no mistake – the WWE is the house that Hogan built.            

     

    8 – Lara Croft …adventure found me.  This aristocratic treasure hunter is not just another pretty face.  She is highly intelligent and resourceful.  She’s able to calculate and solve puzzles and avoid traps with incredible cunning.  Her acrobatic skills are near super human level and her flashing twin pistols have vanquished many a foe.  Like Indiana Jones, Croft scours the globe in search of artifacts from antiquity.  Her adventures can take her to the four corners of the world and even through space and time.     

     

    7 – Rambo What you choose to call hell, he calls home.  He is an army of one.  John Rambo is a Vietnam vet who returned home to find no welcome waiting for him.  Disenfranchised and suffering from wartime trauma, Rambo wondered the country as a drifter, living off the land.  On one fateful day, a small town sheriff and his overzealous deputies pushed Rambo too far and awoke a sleeping giant.  Rambo used his Special Forces training to completely dismantle an entire police force and town.  He was arrested and treated for his mental instability.  In the years since then, Rambo’s considerable skills have been used in rescue missions only a handful of men could accomplish. Rambo is strong and fast.  He’s a weapons master and an expert hand-to-hand combatant.  He can fly helicopters, drive tanks, and singlehandedly take on small armies by himself.  He is also a master of his environment, able to use his surroundings to his advantage.   

     

    6 – PopeyeI yam what I yam!  This one-eyed sailor has sailed the seven seas and faced down all the perils this world has to offer.  He’s a diminutive little hero rarely ever seen without his signature pipe.  Due to years at sea rowing a boat, Popeye’s forearms are gargantuan in size and strength.  Though he may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, Popeye is physically far stronger than the average sailor and has a heart of gold.  His rivalry with the brutish Bluto for the love of Olive Oyl is the stuff of legend.  Though most foes he faces are stronger, smarter and more powerful than he is, adversaries like the hulking Bluto, the sinister Sea Hag, the monstrous Roc, the evil Martians, and the savage Goons, Popeye has an Ace up his sleeve.  Whenever Popeye devours a can of spinach, for a short period of time, his already above average strength is increased to super human levels allowing him to vanquish any foe and perform tasks and labors that would make Hercules turn green with envy.  Popeye’s spinach-fueled exploits have inspired generations of children to eat their vegetables.      

     

    Tune in next week when the Odinson rounds out this list with the Top 5.  Who will top the list?  Here’s a hint: the barbarian, the slayer, the Jedi, the adventurer, and the super spy.

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell