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So Sayeth the Odinson — with Michael Breakfield

  • Top 10 Breaking Bad Heroes: Part 1

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    Frank Castle, as the Punisher and to avenge the murder of his family, has declared war on all crime.  He carries this out by brutally killing anyone he perceives to be on the wrong side of the law.  He has become judge, jury, and executioner.  Magneto is the mutant Master of Magnetism.  He is also a Holocaust survivor and devout defender of his race and their basic human rights.  However, unlike his friend Charles Xavier, Magneto believes mutants are the rightful inheritors of the world and he would crush the humans for denying mutantkind their right.  Although on occasion saner minds prevail, and Magneto tries to walk a better path as a member of Xavier’s X-Men.  Prince Namor is the fabled Savage Sub-Mariner, a mighty underwater monarch who has tried to destroy humanity almost as often as he has saved it. 

     

    The Punisher, Magneto, and the Sub-Mariner are by no stretch of the imagination what one would traditionally call a hero, but they are not evil men either.  They are Anti-Heroes, those that walk the tightrope between good and bad constantly pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable one way or another.  When they act out and cross that line it is almost expected.  But what about our heroes?  What about those we place all our trust in, those few brave individuals who are running toward the danger when everyone else is running away from it?  What about the Good guys that go Bad?

     

    Top 10 Breaking Bad Heroes: Part 1     

     

    10 - Vision – In the aftermath of an epic battle between the Avengers and Fantastic Four against the Negative Zone despot Annihilus (see Into the Negative Zone), the Vision is left with extensive damages and on the verge of death.  The newest Avenger, Starfox, decides to help the Vision repair his injuries by hooking the android up to ISAAC, a super computer located on Titan, the off world home of an isolated tribe of Eternals.  The Vision is repaired but something is awakened within him and suddenly he gazes upon the world in a different light.  The Vision decides that the only way humanity can move forward is under his guiding hand.  The Vision plots to take over the world.  He maneuvers himself to become team leader and his first act as Chairman is to create the West Coast Avengers.  Though months later this would prove to be a good thing, it was originally a devious ploy to divide the ranks of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes so that his machinations could proceed uninhibited.  The Avengers make their living by stopping would be world conquerors, they just never thought they would be trying to stop one of their own.       

     

    9 - Hulk – In the not too distant future, all the heroes and most of humanity is wiped out by nuclear war.  The ultimate survivor, the Hulk, absorbs unearthly amounts of radiation from the fallout and not only does he become more powerful than ever before, his mind becomes twisted with hate, greed, and malevolence.  We first encounter this cruel version of the Jade Giant when the New Incredible Hulk, a Hulk with all the strength plus Bruce Banner’s genius intellect, is brought through time and space to the future to help the remnants of mankind defeat the cruel and wicked tyrant that rules over them with an iron fist.  Here the Hulk comes face-to-face with the Maestro, his sinister future self.  The Maestro is a vicious and cunning adversary, even bragging to his younger self how he has smashed every single would be challenger to his power.  He mocks the younger Hulk, saying his enemies should have brought Thor or the Fantastic Four forward in time saying they would stand a better chance against his might.  The Maestro proves to be one of the Hulk’s most dangerous and villainous foes and most personal, for to this day, every time Banner stares into a mirror and sees the lines on his face getting longer, he sees himself slowly but surely becoming the evil Maestro.     

     

    8 – Arthas Menethil – Azeroth is a world of might and magic.  It is a plane divided with vast territories of land constantly being contended for in a never-ending war between the valiant Alliance and the savage Horde.  Trained by the legendary hero Uther the Lightbringer, Arthas was a mighty paladin and heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Lordaeron.  However, in order to save his kingdom from the seemingly unstoppable advance of the Scourge, a never-ending army of undead, Arthas sought ultimate power.  Unfortunately, the immense power that was granted him by the cursed sword, Frostmourne, corrupted his soul and Arthas became the Lich King.  Once the free world’s greatest champion, now Arthas leads the Scourge against his own people and challenges both the Alliance and the Horde for dominance over all of Azeroth.

     

    7 - Superman – When the Joker pays Superman a visit, the Man of Steel is tricked into murdering his wife, Lois Lane, and the entire city of Metropolis and all the people under his protection are destroyed in nuclear fire.  Superman is pushed too far and he squashes the Clown Prince of Crime like a bug.  Not even Batman could prevent his grief-stricken friend from doing it.  Having crossed that line, the Last Son of Krypton spirals down a rabbit hole, his sanity and grasp on what is right and wrong begins to unravel.  Superman, followed by a few other loyal members of the Justice League, conquerors the world and takes away the population’s freedom of choice.  It’s simple, live under the Man of Steel’s rules or be eliminated.  This, of course, causes a rift in the super hero community and war is declared with Superman and his army on one side and Batman and his backers on the other.  To illustrate just how far Superman has fallen *SPOILERS AHEAD*, he allies himself with the evil Sinestro and he murders friends and allies including Green Arrow, the Green Lantern Corps, and eventually Captain Marvel in cold blood.  The alternate reality of Injustice: Gods Among Us truly shows us just how scary it would be if the Man of Steel was a bad guy.       

     

    6 - Wolverine – When the super assassin, the Gorgon, ambushes and murders Wolverine, Logan is brought back to life by the Hand, a death cult ninja clan, who use their black magic to enslave him and turn Wolverine into the world’s most dangerous super villain.  This new sinister Wolverine begins to murder super powered beings by the dozen.  They are in turn raised from the grave and recruited into the ranks of the Hand’s growing undead army.  No one is safe.  Logan attacks Daredevil, the Fantastic Four, Elektra, and even his own teammates, the X-Men.  It takes the combined efforts of SHIELD and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to wrangle in the world’s most dangerous man.  Logan’s brainwashing is eventually overturned and he is brought back to the side of the White Hats, but for a brief moment in time, Wolverine was the deadliest bad guy in the Marvel Universe.   

     

    Those are some pretty hard falls from grace.  Whose turn to the dark side could possibly top this list?  Here’s a hint: one is a genius, one is ghost, one was the greatest of his kind, one may yet rise from the ashes again someday, and one is a fallen hero from a galaxy far, far away.  Tune in next week for the rest of the Odinson’s Breaking Bad Heroes!    

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • Characters with Strikingly Similar Attributes but Nothing in Common

    NOTE: This week’s column was inspired in part by and dedicated to our own fearless leader - Buddy Saunders.

     

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    To say that the Man of Steel inspired the creation of other comic book super heroes is a titanic understatement.  Not only was he the original, the template by which all others followed, but from Captain Marvel to Hyperion to Icon, dozens upon dozens of homages have been made in his honor.  Another such inspiring character is Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter, the adventurer who, along with Tarzan, laid the groundwork for other pulp heroes like Doc Savage, the Shadow, and the Spider: Master of Men to follow.    

     

    Superman and John Carter – Two men from different worlds that adopt homes to protect from the forces of evil.  Kal-El was sent to Earth by his scientist father when his homeworld of Krypton was destroyed.  His adopted world’s lighter gravity grants him incredible super human strength and allows him to leap tall buildings in a single bound.  John Carter was an officer in the American Civil War that suddenly finds himself transported to the red sands of Mars where the lighter gravity grants him incredible super human strength and the ability to leap great distances.  As Clark Kent, Kal-El is a mild-mannered reporter raised in the mid-West with downhome family values.  As Superman he is in a relationship with Wonder Woman, an Amazon Princess, and he is a champion for truth, justice, and the American Way. On Earth, John Carter is an ex-soldier, a simple southern man seeking his fortune in gold.  On Mars, he is the consort of Dejah Thoris, a beautiful, exotic princess, and he is her champion against alien oppressors.  These two men are legendary heroes with a lot of similarities and a lot in common.   

     

    It’s easy to find similarities in characters that have so much in common, characters like Swamp Thing and Man-Thing (they are both Swampmen), the Sub-Mariner and Black Adam (they are both hot headed anti-hero/villain monarchs with pointy ears), and the Flash and Quicksilver (they both run really, really fast).  But, what about characters that have physical similarities but nothing else in common?

     

    Characters with Strikingly Similar Attributes but Nothing in Common

     

    Ghost Rider and The Atomic Skull – They both have flaming skulls for domes, but that’s where the similarities end.  Johnny Blaze was a stuntman that in order to save the life of a loved one struck a deal with the devil and became the supernatural repo man of lost souls and the Spirit of Vengeance for those that have been wronged by them!   The Atomic Skull was a man transformed by super science into a powerhouse that emits deadly amounts of radiation and can project devastating brain-blasts.  

     

    The Human Torch and The Dread Dormammu – This one makes the Odinson laugh.  When I was a child in the late 70s and very early 80s, just starting out my foray into the worlds of comics, I had no idea who the Dread Dormammu was but I would see pictures of him pop up from time to time.  In my young mind, because of their very similar looks, I concocted an Empire Strikes Back-like backstory that he was in fact the evil father of the Fantastic Four’s Johnny Storm.  The way these two characters were drawn in the Silver and Bronze Age, they looked like they had the same exact face and flaming head.  So, a young neophyte Odinson could only assume they were related.  How surprising to eventually find out that one was the lord and master of a demonic dark dimension and the other was just a wisecracking teenager who loved to give lovable ole Ben Grimm a hotfoot.   

     

    Captain America and The Guardian – These men are both products of a bygone era.  They both wield mighty shields for justice and had sidekicks (Bucky and the Newsboy Legion) that grew up to become notable cogs in their comic universes (The Winter Soldier and Project Cadmus), but that is where the similarities end.  Jim Harper was a 1940s Metropolis police officer that decided to become a masked vigilante.  Decades later his mind was transferred from his old, dying body into a young, vital cloned body so that he could continue the fight for justice in the modern world.  Steve Rogers was a meek volunteer who was transformed into a super soldier.  He fought in World War II.  He was frozen and decades later reawakened in the modern era where he now leads Earths Mightiest Heroes in a never-ending battle against injustice.    

     

    Hawkman and Angel – They both have birdlike wings, but that is where the similarities between these two high-flying heroes end.  Katar Hol is an intergalactic police officer armed with powerful armor and melee weapons powered by alien technology and he possesses the training, physically enhanced strength, and sour demeanor to use them.  Warren Worthington III was born a mutant, the next evolutionary step for mankind.  He was trained by Professor X, his physical skills honed to a razor’s edge in the infamous Danger Room, and alongside his fellow X-Men, he strives to protect a world that fears and hates him.

     

    Venom and Spawn – They both have symbiotic suits that act like a second skin and grant them unearthly powers and abilities, but that is where the similarities end.  Eddie Brock was a disenfranchised photographer with a misguided grudge against rival photographer Peter Parker who bonded with the alien symbiote that Spider-Man had cast aside when it tried to take control of him, and like a jilted lover, the alien symbiote also holds a grudge.  Brock and the symbiote formed a bond and became the Lethal Protector, a sometimes villain, sometimes anti-hero known as Venom.  Al Simmons, a government assassin that was betrayed and murdered by those he worked for, made a deal with the devil and has now returned as the supernatural warrior known as Spawn.  Spawn struggles to find a place in a world of mobsters, monsters, serial killers, cyborg-assassins, and a war between Heaven and Hell.

     

    OMAC and Gladiator – They both are immensely powerful beings sporting magnificent mohawks, but that is where the similarities end.  In the future, Buddy Blank, the One Man Army Corps, is empowered with super human strength, speed, and endurance and helps keep the peace in a world constantly teetering on the brink of chaos.  Kallark is the Praetor of the Shi’ar Imperial Guard, an elite fighting force comprised of powerful alien beings from around the galaxy that serve as bodyguards for the Shi’ar monarchy and protect the Empire’s interests at home and abroad.      

     

    Captain Marvel and Doc Samson – I include these two on the list because guys with lightning bolts on their chests are super cool.  Other than this very superficial similarity, these two heroes really have absolutely nothing in common.  When teenager Billy Batson utters the magical word SHAZAM he is transformed by a bolt of lightning into the earthly avatar of Olympian might, a super hero with powers and abilities to rival the Man of Steel himself.  Leonard Samson was transformed by Gamma radiation into a super human adventurer with a fraction of the Hulk’s incredible strength but kept all of his human intelligence.  Samson possesses immense guilt over Bruce Banner’s plight and has made it his lifelong quest to cure the man of his curse.  Samson also is a working psychiatrist whose clients include She-Hulk and members of X-Factor.     

     

    Doctor Solar and Cyclops - These were the two guys that got me thinking about a list like this in the first place.  They both wear super cool, very distinct Devo-like visors, but that is where the similarities end.  Solar was a scientist that was transformed by a nuclear accident into a man with astonishing atomic powers!  Doctor Solar is one of the most powerful super heroes in the comic book multiverse.  Scott Summers was the first X-Man, born with the incredible ability to project beams of immense destructive force from his eyes.  This sets him apart from his fellow man.  He fights alongside the X-Men to protect mankind and fight for mutant equality and rights.

     

    From John Carter, the hero that launched the Pulp Age of Adventure, and Superman, the hero that launched the Golden Age of Comics and the Age of the Modern Day Super Hero, two characters with a great deal in common to Doctor Solar and Cyclops, two of the most uniquely identifiable comic book characters in history, headliners of a list of characters with strikingly similar attributes but never-the-less characters with very little else in common, this is the Odinson’s tribute to inspiration.  Inspiration creates similarities, big and small, and it creates great ideas.  Ideas are the driving force behind our beloved medium and without inspiration there can be no ideas.        

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • The Odinson’s 2014 The Year in Review - Part 3: The Movies

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    The Odinson concludes his 2014: The Year in Review!

     

    Part 3: The Movies.

     

    Before I get started, I must point out that Interstellar was the Odinson’s favorite movie-going experience of 2014.  From the great cast to the direction and visual storytelling of Christopher Nolan (Batman Begins) to the science fiction of it all, Interstellar was a fantastic time at the theatres.  I did not see Veronica Mars or, unfortunately, The LEGO Movie which I hear is amazing.  I also missed out on Big Hero 6, Snowpiercer, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Edge of Tomorrow, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, so the Odinson has some movie catching up to do.

     

    However, about the movies I did see…

     

    I, Frankenstein Not bad at all.  The acting is a little wooden and it is heavily inspired the super cool Underworld franchise, but this horror/action adventure about a war between Heaven and Hell and Frankenstein’s monstrous creation caught in the middle is good fun.  Odinson Rating: 3 out of 5 Hammers

     

    RoboCopAs a huge fan of the original film from the 80s, I went into this one very guarded.  However, other than a few minor gripes over storytelling choices, I rather enjoyed this remake.  Plus, Michael Keaton is gold and worth the ticket price to any movie he is in. Odinson Rating: 3 out of 5 Hammers

     

    Amazing Spider-Man 2 The Good: From the way he moved and talked to the way his costume rippled in the wind, this was, hands down, the absolutely best looking Spider-Man visually we’ve seen on the Big Screen to date.  The Bad: The story fell way flat.  The mystery surrounding Peter’s parents took up way too much screen time.  Plus, I just didn’t really find myself caring for any of the characters in the film.  The Ugly: To this day they just haven’t gotten the Green Goblin right in the movies.  They tried it their “Hollywood Way” now three times.  The next time around, the Odinson would love to see them just go for it and visually adapt the character right from the comic page.  After all that, ASM2 was still not the worse Spidey flick to have ever hit theaters.  Odinson Rating: 3 out of 5 Hammers

     

    300: Rise of an Empire This film is a complete shadow of the original 300.  It was completely unwatchable and I, in fact, stopping watching about an hour into it.  Odinson Rating: 1 out of 5 Hammers

     

    GodzillaFor the Odinson who grew up watching Godzilla, this film was a no brainer.  However, I went in wary for I’ve been fooled before (see Godzilla 1998).  I should not have worried though, because the mighty leviathan retuned and once again established himself as the undisputed King of All Monsters!  Let them fight.   Odinson Rating: 4 out of 5 Hammers

     

    X-Men: Days of Future Past – If this is where comic movies are heading, adaptations of established storylines, then the Odinson is all for it.  Movies have been adapting novels for decades.  I would much rather see an adaptation of say Watchmen or Planet Hulk rather than see what Hollywood thinks our beloved heroes should be.  Plus, the Quicksilver scene was absolutely amazing.  Even the mighty Joss Whedon will have a hard time topping that one in the next Avengers movie.  Odinson Rating: 4 out of 5 Hammers

     

    MaleficentSleeping Beauty along with Robin Hood and The Little Mermaid have always been the Odinson’s All-Time favorite Disney animated movies.  So, I was excited to see what they’d do with a live-action adaptation.  Maleficent is the Disney Universe’s ultimate villain, but this tale tells a very different story from the villain’s point of view.  The film didn’t blow my hair back but it was a unique vision of the classic tale.  Odinson Rating: 3 out of 5 Hammers

     

    HerculesThis film is perhaps the most underrated movie of the year.  The Rock stars in the title role of this adaptation of a story from Radical Comics called Hercules: The Thracian Wars.  It tells the story of the mighty hero in the years that followed his legendary Twelve Labors.  It is The Magnificent Seven meets Spartacus.  My favorite moment of the film is when Hercules lets the battlefield and the audience know just how he feels about centaurs.  It’s not highbrow entertainment but it is genuinely good popcorn fun.  Odinson Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 Hammers

     

    Transformers: Age of Extinction – I’m a fan of Marky Mark but his acting in this movie was mailed in.  It’s a Transformer.  I did like this film but it was way too long.  Three hours works for some movies but not a giant robots smashing other giant robots movie.  The movie had three endings.  Every hour on the hour, there was resolution that could have ended the flick but then suddenly the story takes off in another direction, creating a whole new mess of trouble for our heroes.  The special FX were top notch and it’s always fun to see Optimus Prime regulate on some evildoers.  Odinson Rating: 3 out of 5 Hammers

     

    The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – This installment was good but it was quite obvious that the entire movie was just one big set up for the next one.  Four movies was a little much for this whole story of The Hunger Games.  It all probably could have been told in two.  The first two Hunger Games films are basically the same movie with different endings.  They could have just merged and edited them together to make a more streamlined story, and the last two films, Mockingjay Part 1 and 2, could have been edited down to one film as well.  Now, I say all this having never read the books, so I have no preconceptions or loyalties to the source material. It just seems like the saga of Katniss Everdeen has been stretched out and turned into a much bigger tale than it really is, much like The Hobbit, a book I absolutely loved, but a book that never the less did not need to be turned into three movies.  Odinson Rating: 3 out of 5 Hammers

     

    Mr. Peabody and Sherman – When I was a child, The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show was Must See Saturday morning TV and Sherman and Peabody were a fixture of this seminal cartoon anthology.  Sherman and Peabody featured vignettes about a boy and his super intelligent dog and their time machine that lets them travel back and experience history first hand.  This animated feature takes the original premise and cranks it up to eleven!  Odinson Rating: 4 out of 5 Hammers

     

    Guardians of the Galaxy – This movie has all the wonder, humor, and joy of the great films of our youth, films like Star Wars, E.T., and Indiana Jones.  It has the awesomeness of a comic book come to life like the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  It’s written well, the acting is great, the characters are memorable and lovable, and it’s a really good movie, too.  Marvel proved that it’s not only the Mount Rushmore heads of comics – Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, and the Hulk – that can get people into the theaters and create blockbusters.  Guardians of the Galaxy is truly a movie that can be enjoyed by the whole family.  Odinson Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 Hammers

     

    Tusk From writer-director Kevin Smith (Clerks, Mallrats, Dogma) comes a horror/comedy the likes of which you’ve never seen before.  What if funnyman Kevin Smith made a Hammer Horror Film?  Tusk is the answer.  The most unusual thing about this film, and that’s saying a lot considering the horrific subject matter of the feature, is that its origins stem from a conversation Smith had with his longtime collaborating creative partner Scott Mosier on their weekly podcast – SModCast.  Casual fans may be turned off by the left turn the filmmaker takes with his latest offering, but hardcore fans will get enjoyment out of all the Easter Eggs and inside jokes from the podcast that make it into the film.  Odinson Rating: 3 out of 5 Hammers  

     

    Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Take the fact that Marvel can seemingly do no wrong with their Cinematic Universe and set it aside for the moment.  Take the fact that this is a film adaptation of one the Top 5 best Cap stories in the history of comics and set that aside.  And, Take the fact that Captain America is my All-Time favorite comic book character and set that aside.  Captain America: The Winter Soldier is easily one of the best films of the year!  Just like The Dark Knight, Winter Soldier is not just a good “comic book” movie, it’s a really good movie, period.  (See The Odinson Reviews Captain America: The Winter Soldier for my full review.)  Odinson Rating: 5 out of 5 Hammers and a Thunderclap

     

    2014 was undoubtedly a fantastic year for the fanboys and girls.  Believe it or not, 2015 has the potential to be even bigger!  DC and Marvel are offering up Universe-changing storylines with Convergence and Secret Wars respectfully.  Marvel will challenge DC for dominion over the small screen.  DC television hits like Arrow, Flash, Gotham, and Constantine will be challenged by new Netflix shows – Daredevil, Luke Cage, Alias, and Iron Fist.  Plus, Marvel will continue its Box Office dominance when Avengers: Age of Ultron hits theatres this May and Ant-Man hits later this year.  

     

    So there you have it.  Here’s to 2014.  It was fun.  Now bring on 2015!  Happy New Year everybody! 

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

     

  • The Odinson’s 2014 The Year in Review - Part 2: The TV

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    It’s time for Odinson’s 2014: The Year in Review!

     

    Part 2: The TV in 2014

     

    The Walking Dead (AMC) – What else can be said about the phenomenon that transcends comic book popularity?  This drama set in a post-Apocalyptic world of zombies and day-to-day survival continues to smash ratings records and never eases up on the nail-biting suspense and jaw-dropping surprises.  Odinson Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 Hammers

     

    Game of Thrones (HBO) – Shocking deaths and blindsiding betrayals are just a small part of what makes this perennial drama set in a fantasy world so unbelievably watchable and must see TV.  With high points like the Viper vs. the Mountain and the Battle at the Wall, an incredible throw down that reminded the Odinson of epic depictions from the pages of R.A. Salvatore’s The Crystal Shard, THRONES continues to not disappoint and stands head-and-shoulders as one the best television series of the past decade. Odinson Rating: 5 out of 5 Hammers

     

    Arrow (CW) – Mysteries and plot twists steer the ship but the gem of an already top drawer television show has to be the Arrow/Flash Crossover Event which saw our two heroes face off in a classic hero vs. hero showdown right out of the pages of a comic book.  Don’t fret though, our heroes eventually team up to save the day.  Marvel Studios may own the Box Offices for the moment, but DC has a firm grip on the Small Screen with this flagship series leading way and blazing the trail for others to follow.  Odinson Rating: 4 out of 5 Hammers

     

    Agents of SHIELD (ABC) – AoS is a good show but its true gold cannot be realized without actually knowing just how much it fits into and influences the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe.  If the viewer watches with a keen eye, it can be seen how Agents of SHIELD has major ties to each Marvel movie, Phase I, Phase II, and, after the shocking mid-season cliffhanger of Season 2, Phase III and beyond.  The only real drawback is that in order to get the full experience of just how good this show really is would be to have an overall knowledge of the Marvel Movies and the History of the Marvel Universe in the comics as well.  Odinson Rating: 3 out of 5 Hammers

     

    Flash (CW) – From supporting cast to the growing roster of Rogues to the treatment of the main character, this Arrow spin-off, with its nods to the source material and continuous building of the television DC Universe, has distinguished itself as easily one the best comic book adaptations to television ever!  Odinson Rating: 4 out of 5 Hammers

     

    Gotham (Fox) – What Smallville did for the Man of Steel, this show does for the Caped Crusader.  Gotham explores the events that take place during the years between when Bruce Wayne’s parents were gunned down and the birth of the Batman.  It follows the trials and tribulations of Jim Gordon, a young police detective fighting to make the streets of Gotham a safe place.  Many of the characters that will one day become Batman’s supporting cast of allies and foes are present.  Here’s a Hot Sports Opinion from the Odinson.  I don’t think that the guy that says he is the Penguin is who he says.  If you go off of what the Penguin traditionally looks like in the comics and you look at not only the way this actor is built, his facial expressions, and the color scheme of his clothes, the Odinson believes this to be a case of stolen identity and that this character will actually be the man who will one day become the Clown Prince of Crime – The Joker!  This show is off to a good start.  Odinson Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 Hammers

     

    Constantine (NBC) – Vertigo’s perennial series – Hellblazer – has long been begging to be adapted into an episodic television series.  However, I always thought HBO or Showtime or even AMC would have served the darker source material better.  Whether or not network television can do this beloved character justice remains to be seen.  Odinson Rating: 3 out of 5 Hammers

     

     

    Doctor Who (BBC) – This past year saw a transition from Matt Smith’s incarnation of The Doctor to Peter Capaldi taking on the beloved character.  Unfortunately, the Odinson has fell way behind on the series.  So, I am currently waiting for Peter Capaldi’s episodes to appear on Netflix so that I can binge watch them.  Until then, I’m afraid I cannot give an honest review.  Odinson Rating: ????

     

    The television world in 2015 will be even more saturated with comic dominance when Netflix unleashes Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Alias upon us, expanding the Cinematic Marvel Universe even more!  Plus, rumors are running rampant of a TV show set in the past on Superman’s doomed homeworld – Krypton!  

     

    Tune in next week when the Odinson concludes his 2014 The Year in Review with a look at the movies that entertained and disappointed us this past year.

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell 

     

  • The Odinson’s 2014 The Year in Review - Part 1: The Comics

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    It’s time for Odinson’s 2014: The Year in Review!

     

    Part 1: The Comics

     

    Avengers and the X-Men: Axis – The diabolical Red Skull possesses the unparalleled telepathic powers of the deceased Charles Xavier (see Uncanny Avengers: The Red Shadow).  The Avengers/X-Men unity team was barely able to stop him.  Now, the arch fiend has returned and this time he has evolved into the nigh unstoppable form of Onslaught!  All appears lost as the united teams of Avengers and X-Men are unable to match Red Skull’s new found might.  This causes Magneto to assemble a team of villains that includes Enchantress, Sabretooth, Doctor Doom and more in order to mount a comeback.  The psychic backlash of Skull’s defeat causes a highly unusual change in all that were present at the battle.  The Marvel U is turned upside down as heroes become villainous and villains become heroic.  The story allows creators to tell distinctly different stories with characters that would not normally act thus, but in the end, Axis just rings hollow as a “Big Event” that really has nowhere to go.  Odinson Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5 Hammers  

     

    Batman Eternal – Not since the second and third movies of The Matrix Trilogy, Reloaded and Revolutions, has the Odinson been so thoroughly satisfied and utterly disappointed at the same time with a piece of popular fiction.  With an assembled creative team of All-Stars, this weekly series has the potential to be really great.  For the first ten to fifteen issues, Eternal really pays off.  The story begins at the climax of the tale with the Dark Knight crucified and forced to watch as the city he has sworn to protect burns!  It flashes back to the beginning where Commissioner Gordon is framed for the murders of an entire subway full of civilians.  Batman and his allies race against the clock to solve the mystery of who is really behind the catastrophe and clear the name of Jim Gordon.  Things get really complicated as foes from the past return to add to the chaos.  However, the story takes a decidedly strange turn when suddenly this murder mystery turns into supernatural horror story with a zombie outbreak at Arkham Asylum.  This part of the story is a little mottled involving Killer Croc, Batwing, the Joker’s Daughter, and the Spectre.  However, as the story heads toward the finish line, I am looking forward to the end and finding out just who is behind everything.  Batman Eternal is a great mystery with a weird detour into the supernatural that hopefully will right itself before the final page is turned.  Odinson Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 Hammers - (Though the score may be higher depending on the ending.)             

     

    Spider-Verse – I am thoroughly enjoying this tale that teams up every single version of Spider-Man from across the multiverse!  Morlun the nigh unstoppable vampire-like creature has returned and this time he is not alone.  His entire family is systematically going from universe to universe and murdering all the Spider-Men throughout the multiverse.  Peter Parker is joined by Ultimate Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2099, Spider-Man Noir, Spider-Girl, Spider-Woman, Spider-Man 1966, Captain Universe Spider-Man, Gwen Stacy Spider-Girl, Scarlet Spider, Silk, Superior Spider-Man and more in order to draw a line in the sand and make a last stand!  The Odinson’s heart was broken as Morlun destroyed a part of his childhood when he murdered Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.  As more and more heroes fall in battle, time is running out as the United Spider-Men try desperately to find a way to stop unbeatable foes.  Odinson Rating: 4 out of 5 Hammers  

     

    Fire and Stone – This is one crossover event that truly delivers.  Dark Horse Comics uses elements from Aliens, Predator, and Prometheus and weave a sci-fi/horror/mystery that revolves around the infamous planet known as LV-223.  Four mini-series – Aliens, Predator, Aliens vs. Predator, and Prometheus follow different avenues but they all intersect and cross paths to create a many layered story that is begging to be adapted to the Big Screen.   Odinson Rating: 4 out of 5 Hammers       

     

    Batman: Zero Year – Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo keep adding to their stellar run on the Caped Crusader.  This time around they explore the year when Bruce Wayne was very first trying to find his way and discover the hero he would eventually grow into.  They pit a neophyte Batman against the diabolical machinations of the deviously cunning Riddler.  Snyder’s scripts are full of great characterization and page-turning suspense and I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it many times again – Greg Capullo was born to drawn the adventures of the Caped Crusader.   Odinson Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 Hammers              

     

    The Buffyverse – In Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10, the Scooby Gang returns to Sunny Dale where they fight against impossible odds to prevent a monstrous demon from ascending out of the Hellmouth.  This tale just reeked of “been there done that.”  In Buffy’s own words – “How many times can one town be destroyed?”  Meanwhile, over in Angel and Faith Season 10, the vampire with a soul has a showdown with Amy the Witch in Magic Town and Faith goes on a quest in South America where she will come face-to-face with Riley.  As anyone who has seen the fourth season of the TV show knows, these two have a turbulent history.  There’s good to be had from the ongoing Buffyverse but the creators really need to step it up because it’s not blowing my hair back.  Odinson Rating: 3 out of 5 Hammers

     

    The Armor Hunters – An elite group of assassins from beyond the stars, a team of killers that specializes in the destruction of Manowar Armors, has arrived on Earth and not even the combined might of Unity, Harbingers, X-O Manowar, and Bloodshot may be able to stop them!  Valiant delivers with this high octane companywide crossover.  Odinson Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 Hammers

     

    Death of Wolverine – Oh, boy! Yet another death of a super hero story.  In many ways, this particular storytelling device legitimizes Logan as an A-List hero in the pantheon of super heroes. The Odinson’s biggest beef with this tale is not how he met his end.  Actually, I found it to be pretty original and interesting.  No, my problem with the death of Wolverine is with the circumstances leading up to it and the revelation surrounding the ultimate one responsible for it.  It just didn’t resonate with me and I felt the execution of this story could have been better.  As a Wolverine fan, Death of Wolverine is worth a read, but as a long time comics fan, I really don’t see this story having long lasting resonance.  Odinson Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5 Hammers 

     

    2014 was certainly a rocky road of hit and misses for the comic companies.  Hopefully 2015 with the conclusions to Batman Eternal, Spider-Verse, and Batman: Endgame and the upcoming Big Events – Secret Wars and Convergence – comics can make a big comeback.  Be here next week when the Odinson is sure to get some cheers (and jeers) for his 2014 the Year in Review: Movies and Television.  

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • It Was a Decade of Action Hero Dominance

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    Nowadays, comic book super hero movies rule the Box Office.  There’s a new one every three months it seems.  When I was a kid, there was Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie (1978) and it would be ten years later before Tim Burton’s Batman (1989).  It was a decade without comic book heroes, but not a decade without super heroes.  In the 1980s and Early 90s our movie super heroes were Action Heroes.  Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, and Chuck Norris thwarted evil doers on the Big Screen in instant classics like Rambo and Die Hard.  But, one name stood out head-and-shoulders above all the rest – Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

     

    Arnold is the King of the Action Heroes!  For a decade without comic book super heroes gracing the Big Screen, Arnold’s roles in the movies were the closest thing the Odinson had to live action super hero adventures.  Arnold began his movie career in 1970 with the little known slapstick comedy Hercules in New York portraying the greatest super hero in history.  However, it was the decade of the 80s where he truly earned his seat at the table of the immortals. 

     

    A Decade of Action Hero Dominance

     

    Conan the Barbarian (1982) – With a script by Oliver Stone (Platoon, JFK) and direction by John Milius (Red Dawn), Arnold brought Robert E. Howard’s legendary fantasy hero to hulking life.  Though the creators may have taken a few liberties with the source material, to this day, Conan the Barbarian is easily a Top 5 fantasy/sword and sorcery Big Screen adventure.

     

    Conan the Destroyer (1984) – Arnold returned in this sequel which took the mighty Cimmerian on an even bigger and grandeur adventure.  This time around, the creators added a little more camp and gave the movie a more comic book feel.  They toned down the violence from the original and opened up the world of Robert E. Howard for a broader movie going audience.

     

    Terminator (1984) – Conan was already a pop culture icon before Arnold, but the T-800 made him a bona fide movie star.  The Terminator is a cyborg killing machine sent back in time to assassinate the mother of the man who would one day lead the resistance against the sentient machines that rule Earth in the future.  Plus, this is the film that saw the birth of the immortal words – I’ll be back, a phrase that would return over and over in many of Arnold’s films throughout the years.

     

    Red Sonja (1985) – Arnold returns to the Hyborian Age.  This time as Kalidor, a courageous prince that helps the She-Devil with a Sword on her quest for revenge.    

     

    Commando (1985) – In this highly influential shoot-em-up, Arnold portrays John Matrix, a retired super soldier who is drawn into a deadly race against the clock when enemies form his past kidnap his daughter and try to force him to assassinate a world leader.  Filled with dozens of quotable one-liners including his signature I’ll be back, Commando is a popcorn explosion of 80s cheese and one of the Odinson’s favorites. 

     

    Predator (1987) – What happens when the most elite team of Special Forces operatives cross paths with the galaxy’s deadliest hunter?  Legendary good times, that’s what.  Arnold is Dutch, the leader of an elite rescue team that is lured into the sweltering jungles of Central America where they fight for survival against an unseen adversary from beyond the stars.  Predator is a Top 10 action flick of All-Time and its title character stands alongside other monstrous icons like Aliens, Godzilla, Dracula, and the shark from JAWS as one of the greatest movie monsters of All-Time.

     

    The Running Man (1987) – In the not too distant future, the world economy has collapsed and society is on the verge of following.  Arnold is Ben Richards, a police pilot wrongly accused of murder.  After a daring prison escape, Richards is captured and forced to participate in an extreme game show where the contestants are hunted down by deadly assassins with colorful names like Buzzsaw, Sub Zero, and Captain Freedom.  And yes, I’ll be back makes an appearance.

     

    Total Recall (1990) – In this futuristic sci-fi thriller, Arnold is Douglas Quaid, a freedom fighter and super spy who has gone so far undercover that his memories have been erased.  But, after a fateful visit to the local ReKall, a company that provides memory implants of exotic vacations, Quaid’s real memories surface and he is quickly drawn into the cloak and dagger world of spies, assassins, mutants, mysteries surrounding ancient alien tech, and the liberation of Mars.  This action film set a standard that to this day few others have reached and even fewer surpassed.  

     

    Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) – Arnold finished out his decade of dominance with arguably the greatest action film in history.  Arnold’s T-800 returns, but this time it is to save mankind’s future, not destroy it.  His adversary is the shape-shifting T-1000, a more advanced Terminator made of liquid metal and even more unstoppable than the T-800.  The Odinson will always like the original film more because it set up this amazing sci-fi universe, but there can be no denying that T2 took the genre to heights it had never been to before.  T2 not only cemented Arnold’s throne as the King of the Action Heroes, but it made the Terminator a pop culture icon whose legacy lives on to this day.

     

    For a decade, Arnold was the King of the Action Heroes.  He was my generation’s super hero on the Big Screen.  So, how ironic that it be an actual comic book movie that would nearly derail his career.

     

    Batman and Robin (1997) – Arnold plays Mr. Freeze in this low point of his career and in comics’ movie history.  Check out The Odinson Reveals Why Batman and Robin is the Worst Comic Movie of All-Time to see how I really feel about the movie that almost singlehandedly killed the Batman franchise and super hero movies.

     

    The New Millennium would see Arnold’s return to the role that made him a movie star in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.  Plus, with a supporting role in the Expendables Series, the upcoming Terminator: Genisys, and rumors of a King Conan film in the works, he is finally BACK to doing what he does best – being a true action hero icon!  Whether it is as an Atlantean sword-swinging barbarian, an unstoppable cyborg, or an alien-fighting mercenary, Arnold Schwarzenegger is a movie and pop culture icon and a Big Screen Super Hero.

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

     

  • What is the Odinson Reading?

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    One of the hardest decisions a comic collector will have to make is which titles to spend their hard earned shekels on.  From food to gas to, yes, even comic books, the cost of living has risen greatly over the years.  When I was a kid, twenty dollars in a comic store was like being a shark in the pool at the local YMCA – all you can eat, baby!  These days, a weekly budget of twenty dollars for comics doesn’t go nearly as far as it once did.  So, a reader has to be a bit more frugal in their spending and try and get the most bang for their buck. 

     

    So, this week the Odinson has come up with a short list of can’t miss titles that are well worth your time and money.    

     

    What is the Odinson Reading?

     

    Saga (Image) – Saga is William Shakespeare’s Rome and Juliet meets Star Wars.  This is a fugitive tale.  It’s a love story.  It’s an allegory for racism and social classes.  It’s a commentary on war.  And, it’s all set against a fantastical science fiction backdrop.  The scripts by Brian K. Vaughan (Y the Last Man, Runaways) provide completely fleshed out characters that the reader cannot help but care for and wonder what will happen to them next, and Fiona Staples (Jonah Hex, North 40) is at the height of her visual storytelling powers with this series.  The pacing of the story is akin to great television and the Odinson can’t wait to see where the journey takes our intrepid cast of characters. 

     

    Fire and Stone (Dark Horse) – An Aliens/Prometheus/Predator crossover event sounds like a no brainer, but in light of lack luster movie sequels (Alien 3, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem) and the absolutely awful prequel (Prometheus), my expectations for this event were lukewarm at best.  The All-Star creative teams of this series have crafted an engrossing, spellbinding tale of survival revolving around the mysterious and infamous planet designated LV-223.  Four separate mini-series tell an intertwining tale that pits mankind’s need for survival and baser needs of greed against the galaxy’s ultimate survivors, the savage Xenomorphs, the galaxy’s ultimate hunters, the Predators, and the galaxy’s ultimate enigma, the Engineers.  Fire and Stone takes the best parts of Ridley Scott’s Alien and James Cameron’s Aliens mixes them with the best themes of Predator and Predators and seasons the pot with the usable bits from Prometheus and presents a story that the Odinson hopes to one day see on the Big Screen.    

     

    Godzilla: Cataclysm (IDW) – This series is, admittedly, a guilty pleasure.  I grew up going to the Saturday morning matinees and watching marathons featuring Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, Godzilla vs. Mothra, and King Kong vs. Godzilla.  So, it should come as no surprise that this tale would be right up my alley.  The story is set in the future, in the aftermath of the Monster Apocalypse, the landscape of planet Earth has been cast in ruin.  Once great cities, sprawling skylines that were testaments to human achievement, are now demolished tombstones of the world that once was.  It has been many years since the last of the great leviathans have been seen and the very few humans left alive try to make their way in this harsh new world.  However, events are set in motion that wake the sleeping giants and the kaiju return.  Is this truly the end of all mankind or does one man’s memories hold the key for survival? 

     

    Batman (DC Comics) – Yes, yes, I know that saying Batman is a Must Read is no stretch but I really want to stress the MUST READ of what this series has become.  The Odinson grew up with classic Bat-Runs that include Denny O’Neil and Neil Adams, Roger Marshall, Jim Aparo, and Doug Moench and Kelley Jones.  I was there when Frank Miller completely defined the character with The Dark Knight Returns and Year One.  And, I was there when the Bat-God was born in the pages of Grant Morrison and Howard Porter’s JLA.  Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s current New 52 run, the definite cream of the crop for DC’s re-launch, stands head-and-shoulders with any of these great Batman runs in comics history.  Every story arc from the mind of Snyder – The Court of Owls, The Death of the Family, Zero Year, and Endgame – becomes an instant classic, and Greg Capullo was absolutely born to draw the Caped Crusader.  This run has instantly thrust Capullo into the discussion for Top 5 Bat-Artists of All-Time!    

     

    New Avengers by Jonathan Hickman (Marvel) – In 2006, comic fans were introduced to the Illuminati, a clandestine group of heroes who have been pulling the strings of the Marvel Universe from the shadows.  They have secretly influenced major events like the Kree/Skrull War, Beyonder, Infinity Gauntlet, Planet Hulk, and the Civil War among others.  However, their overall role in the Big Picture of things really took a leap forward with the launch of Marvel Now!  A mysterious power is causing worlds to collide and the multiverse is systematically destroying itself.  The Illuminati, after exhausting all options, is left with one choice – survival.  It’s a heavy cross to bear - for the 616 to live, other worlds must die. 

     

    This is an option that Captain America is unwilling to take.  The Sentinel of Liberty believes there is always a better way, but the other members of the Illuminati betray him and take from him the one thing he holds most important above all other things – free will.  Under the behest of Iron Man, Cap’s mind is tampered with and his memories erased.  This is not the first time this has happened (see Marvel Comics 1998 Annual).  This act will come back to haunt them.

     

    The stakes continue to rise as the Illuminati’s ability to stave off annihilation grows ever slimmer with each Incursion.  It all comes to a head during The Great Society arc.  In this chapter, the Marvel U collides with a very DC-like universe and the differences between Marvel’s complicated, cup-half-empty heroes and DC’s altruistic, cup-half-full heroes is made quite clear.  It’s a truly heart-breaking tale where one world dies and the Odinson, as a lifelong Marvel fan, isn’t even sure it was the right one.  This leads Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner to leave the group and enlist the aid of a cadre of supervillains that includes Thanos and his zealots to make decisions no hero can possibly make with a clear conscious.  However, things begin to spiral even further down the hole.

     

    In the Aftermath of Original Sin, Captain America regains his memories and the Illuminati become hunted fugitives (see Time Runs Out).  Throw on top of this the cosmic mystery unfolding in Jim Starlin’s Thanos Saga and the announcement of next year’s multiverse Secret Wars event and it cannot be denied that the Marvel Universe is headed toward big changes.   I have my theories (see Is the Marvel Universe Headed Toward a Crisis?! and More Clues for a Marvel Crisis…).

     

    Jonathan Hickman and his team of artists for the last two years have weaved an epic tale with complicated moral decisions and a fingernail-biting pace that makes the Odinson feel like it’s all leading somewhere big.  New Avengers by Jonathan Hickman is presently the best book coming out of the House of Ideas.

     

    Honorable Mention:

     

    The Multiversity: Pax Americana – Grant Morrison with his Multiversity tale is working on yet another multilayered, mind-blowing tale that proves yet again that the man is way ahead of his time.  But I want to focus on the issue titled Pax Americana.  In this issue, Morrison tells a Watchmen-like mystery using the Charlton Heroes that the Watchmen were originally based on.  It’s a real nice look into what could have been if Alan Moore had got to use these characters as he had originally planned to do back in 1985.   

     

    These are the comics on the Odinson’s pull list.  What comics and storylines are you enjoying? 

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell  

     

  • The Odinson's Top 5 JLA/JSA Crossovers

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is the meat in the sandwich which is the Holiday Season that begins with Halloween and ends with Christmas.  This time of year brings about many traditions – Trick-or-Treat, turkey dinner, mistletoe, etc.  Comics History is not without its own traditions.  One of the greatest traditions in comics is the annual JLA/JSA Team-Up.  

     

    In the landscape of modern day comics, fans have become used to annual big story events that bring together the greatest heroes in the universe, events like Axis and Forever Evil.  It is true that Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars is the Grandfather of Big Event stories and Crisis on Infinite Earths is the event that set the standard for what these events would and should be, but it was the annual crossovers featuring the World’s Greatest Super-Heroes and the World’s First Super Team that started it all.     

     

    It all started in the summer of 1963, right in the heart of the Silver Age of Comics.  Justice League of America #21 marked the first meeting of the World’s Greatest Super-Heroes of Earth-1 and their Golden Age predecessors of Earth-2.  The Flash of Two Worlds may have been the birth of the DC multiverse, but this titanic team-up marked the birth of the annual Big Event!  These are the events that feature a threat too big for any single hero, major adventures that will feature a gathering of heroes so titanic that the tale becomes a Must Read. 

     

    Top 5 JLA/JSA Crossovers

     

    Crisis on Earth 2 & 3 – In this inaugural Crisis, a cadre of villains from two worlds concoct a diabolical plan to switch Earths and commit crimes on different worlds.  The villains from Earth 2 imprison the Justice League who mystically contact their Earth-2 counterparts, and through various team-ups, take out their villainous adversaries.  Soon afterwards, the Justice League and Justice Society come face-to-face with their evil doppelgangers of Earth-3, the Crime Syndicate of Amerika!  Yes, the same sinister evil-doers behind the recent event - Forever Evil. 

     

    In Search of the Seven Soldiers of Victory – During this suspenseful team-up, the JLA and JSA assemble to solve the mystery of a missing group of legendary heroes scattered throughout time.  And, in order to stop the world-threatening evil, one hero will have to make the ultimate sacrifice!  It is easy to see that Modern Master Grant Morrison is a real fan of these classic team-ups.  They not only inspired his entry on this very list, but they also inspired his epic Final Crisis and ground-breaking tale The Seven Soldiers of Victory. 

     

    Crisis in Eternity – This crossover begins when the barbaric conqueror from the past, King Kull, imprisons the wizard, SHAZAM, and his power within the Rock of Eternity.  The JLA and JSA set out to stop him, but things go downhill real fast when the ruthless man-brute uses Red Kryptonite to turn the Man of Steel against his allies.  As the heroes begin to fall before the unparalleled might of the Last Son of Krypton, only one hero remains that may be able to turn the tide of battle – Captain Marvel! 

     

    Crisis Times Five – In this Post-Crisis, modern take on the annual JLA/JSA Crossover, Earth is invaded by the immeasurably powerful beings that inhabit the 5th Dimension!  That’s right, the homeland of Superman’s mischievous little nemesis, Mr. Mxyzptlk, cause a planet wide crisis.  Not only did this Grant Morrison and Howard Porter masterpiece renew the annual JLA/JSA Crossover, but it also brought comic book’s first super team out of retirement and set the stage for the classic take on these classic heroes in the pages of JSA by Geoff Johns! 

     

    The Thanksgiving Story – This particular annual JLA/JSA crossover is the Odinson’s personal favorite.  Not only does it feature a particularly unique take on the team-up, it also features an extremely eye-catching cover by Carlos Pacheco (Avengers Forever, Superman/Batman).  In the quiet follow up to the previous year’s harrowing Virtue and Vice caper, the World’s Greatest Super Heroes and DC Comics First Super Team take a moment to relax and celebrate Thanksgiving.  It’s a humorous and character-driven piece where the entertainment comes from the interactions between the different and oft times polarizing personalities of these two premiere super teams.  The absolute gold comes when a revenge-seeking villain plots an ill-fated attack on his enemies.  As the villain suddenly appears amongst the gathered heroes and boldly declares his vile intentions, he quickly realizes his mistake as he stares out at not just one team of legendary heroes, but two. 

     

    It’s a great issue and a great way to cap off this look at the long, distinguished run of classic annual JLA/JSA Crossovers.

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

     

  • The Odinson’s Top 5 Post-Apocalyptic Landscapes

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    I recently saw Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar.  It’s set in the not too distant future where planet Earth is becoming increasingly uninhabitable for mankind, and for the survival of the species, man will have to find a new home out there among the stars.  It deals with the difficulties of deep space travel, the relativity of time, wormholes, and the mysteries and theories surrounding black holes.  The Odinson will go on record and say that this film makes the list for Top 10 Science Fiction Films of All-Time. 

     

    The best science fiction takes threads of what is real or realistic and expands on it, sometimes exponentially.  An Apocalypse is a great upheaval, a major event or disaster.  It’s a cataclysm of some sort, big or small, that changes the course of human history.  This is illustrated in Interstellar by the fact that the Earth is becoming uninhabitable and mankind is running out of food.  It can take many forms – natural disaster, nuclear war, divine intervention, plague, zombies, kaiju, etc.  What happens next is known as the Post-Apocalypse.  Post-Apocalyptic landscapes have been a staple for science fiction since the very beginning. It has been used in every medium – movies (Planet of the Apes), television (SeaQuest DSV), books (Left Behind), cartoons (Spiral Zone), video games (Resident Evil), and comics (Wasteland).      

     

    The Odinson’s Top 5 Post-Apocalyptic Landscapes

     

    5 - Jeremiah – This TV series was based on the graphic novels by Belgian artist Hermann Huppen and developed by J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5, Rising Stars, Supreme Power, Thor).  It is a tale set fifteen years after a plague has wiped out nearly every human being on Earth over the age of thirteen.  Jeremiah and his friend, Kurdy, wander the landscape coming across various factions, forces for chaos and those trying to rebuild civilization, on their way to locate the mysterious Valhalla Sector, a place where it is said to house survivors of the plague.  Survivors that may include Jeremiah’s own father.    

     

    4 - Mad Max – After World War III and a global economic collapse, the world descends into chaos.  Governments fall, law and order becomes myth, and the highways and byways are ruled by vicious gangs and “road warriors.”  Into this world is thrust the man simply known as Max.  After his family’s murder, Max, a former highway patrolman, takes revenge on the motorcycle gang responsible.  With nothing left to live for, Max ventures out into the wastelands of this Post-Apocalyptic world.  There his survival is constantly challenged as he faces off against bloodthirsty pirates and cannibalistic gangs over the scraps and drops of petroleum left over from the Old World.  Perhaps the greatest challenge Max must face in this harsh New World is the laughable societal laws of Barter Town and the ultimate decider of law and order - The Thunderdome.           

     

    3 - I Am Legend – After a plague has wiped out most of mankind, those that survived the plague have become infected and transformed into bloodthirsty vampires.  Scientist Robert Neville, finds that he is the only human being immune to this pandemic and he is the last man alive on Earth.  He spends his nights fortifying his home against vampire attacks as the relentless undead descend upon his home in wave after wave.  When the sun rises and chases the monsters back to their dark hiding places, Neville spends his days hunting them down and destroying them where they sleep.  Over the course of this horrifying tale, Neville soon learns that he is the very thing that those that have inherited the Earth have come to fear.  He has become the monster.  He has become legend.   

     

    2 - The Walking Dead – In the aftermath of a full blown Zombie Apocalypse, a small group of survivors try to make their way in a world without law, without order, without electricity, and without any modern conveniences.  It’s an eye-opening case study of what would happen if society as we know it suddenly ceased to exist.  The human drama comes from the groups’ struggle with day-to-day survival as they face starvation, exposure, exhaustion, natural human tensions, owe yeah, and also the relentless attacks of the numberless flesh-eating ghouls that now walk the earth.  As if that were not enough, our intrepid band of survivors must also contend with serial killers, murderous would be dictators, human cannibals, pirates, and other despicable human beings that seem to thrive in this Post-Apocalyptic environment.     

     

    1 - The Stand – In this masterpiece from master of horror Stephen King (Salem’s Lot, Cycle of the Werewolf, The Dark Tower), a pandemic fearfully referred to as “Captain Trips” has washed over the world and killed off 99% of the human population.  The few survivors left alive find themselves drawn into the ultimate showdown between good and evil as Mother Abagail, the representative of good, faces off against Randal Flagg, the embodiment of evil, for the souls of mankind and future of the human race.  This twelve-hundred plus page novel is Stephen King’s Lord of the Rings.  To say it is epic in scope would be a huge understatement.  All the supernatural and science fiction elements aside, The Stand is a masterful look at the human condition, the drama, and the choices they make that can save or damn their souls.  The Stand has been adapted into a television mini-series, into comics and graphic novels, and it will soon be a 4-part movie saga.         

     

    Honorable Mentions: The Postman, Y The Last Man, Waterworld, The Road, Escape from New York, and Leaving Megalopolis. 

     

    Post-Apocalyptic Landscape Hall of Fame: George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead.

     

    The Odinson loves good science fiction, and there are few things in entertainment as titillating, frightening, and contemplative as science fiction set in a Post-Apocalyptic Landscape.

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • The Odinson’s Top 5 Unconventional Rivalries in Comics

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    Batman vs. Joker.  Spider-Man vs. the Green Goblin.  Superman vs. Lex Luthor. Captain America vs. Red Skull.  Going all the back to David vs. Goliath and Hector vs. Achilles, rivalries have been a very important and essential part of storytelling.  Whether in sports: Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins, marketing: Coke vs. Pepsi, music: The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones, or pop culture: Star Trek vs. Star Wars, rivalries have been a source for drama and entertainment all throughout history. 

     

    How many countless times has the Man of Steel stopped the mad schemes of Lex Luthor?  How many countless times has your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man prevented the diabolical Doctor Octopus from destroying the city?  Comic books feature some of the greatest rivalries of All-Time!  Rivalries have been a source of debate for comic book fans for generations.  Who is stronger – Hulk vs. the Thing?  Who is faster – Superman vs. the Flash?  Who has the best super hero universe – Marvel vs. DC?  But, traditional rivalries are not the only kind of rivalries in comics. 

     

    A few weeks ago, the Odinson listed his Top 5 Underrated Batman Villains.  On that list I included Batman vs. Lex Luthor.  This is what I’d call an Unconventional Rivalry.  An Unconventional Rivalry may not have the long history of the classic match-ups but they are no less delicious.  These are face offs and duels that I rarely ever see but when I do, you can bet your bottom dollar that I’m picking up that issue.  Some Unconventional Rivalries are no brainers and leave the reader wondering why they don’t happen more often (werewolf vs. vampire).  Some Unconventional Rivalries are due to circumstance or conflict of interests (Red Skull vs. Magneto).  Some are just super cool (King Kong vs. Godzilla)!      

     

    The following is a list of Unconventional Rivalries where every single time I see them on the cover of a comic, the Odinson will definitely be picking up that issue. 

     

    The Odinson’s Top 5 Unconventional Rivalries

     

    GI Joe vs. Transformers – This is a heated rivalry that goes back thirty years and extends beyond the boundaries of the four color format.  In the great decade of the 1980s, Transformers and GI Joe: A Real American Hero were easily among the bestselling toylines and most watched cartoons.  Ever since that fateful episode of Transformers that featured a cameo by Flint, little minds everywhere were blown for that confirmed that the Robot in Disguise actually inhabited the same universe as the Real American Heroes.  It’s a rivalry that still surfaces to this day as these two franchises, thanks to the emergence of the Transformers Movie Saga and GI Joe Movie Saga, seem to just grow stronger and stronger as the years go by.       

     

    Teen Titans vs. the Justice League – Sometimes teachers and their students butt heads.  This was the case in those years when Dick Grayson was making the transition from teenage sidekick into adult hero. This was never more apparent than in “Against All Friends” and the Titans/Outsiders Crossover when Batman was forced to recognize Robin’s emergence as a leader of heroes.  Robin’s Titan teammates took a beating when the Man of Steel was out of control in Action Comics #584.  Even the Amazing Amazon has had her fair share of troubles with the angst-infused teenage super heroes as seen in Wonder Woman #287 and Teen Titans Spotlight.  In Sins of Youth, the two factions learn what life would be like if their roles were reversed.  And, in Young Justice, the adults struggle with mentoring their replacements while dealing with natural teenage rebellion.  It’s hard for the next generation of heroes as they live in the shadows of their legendary counterparts.   

     

    Superman vs. The Joker – If Batman vs. Lex Luthor would be an ultimate battle of wits, what would the world’s strongest hero vs. the Clown Prince of Crime be?  Superman quickly learns that he is not dealing with anything he is used to in DC Comics Presents #41.  The Joker tries to give the Man of Steel a sense of humor in “To Laugh and Die in Metropolis!  And, Superman struggles in a world where the Joker has become All-Powerful in the pages of Emperor Joker.  However, readers see what the horrible endgame to this rivalry could possibly be in alternate universe tales like Kingdom Come and Injustice: Gods Among Us.    

     

    Hulk vs. Juggernaut – One is unstoppable and the other is the strongest one there is.  It’s the classic situation of an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object.  As hard as it is to believe, when they first met in Incredible Hulk #172, they were allies.  However, it didn’t long for Cain Marko’s bad boy attitude to rub the Jade Giant the wrong way.  In “Call of the Desert,” the Hulk is being attacked by a cadre of his greatest enemies.  It is revealed that these are creations of his own bent psyche, but among those attacking him is the Juggernaut.  Even though up to this point, these two behemoths have only crossed paths once, the fact that Marko is included illustrated that even the mighty Hulk respects the power of the Juggernaut.  They have had several earth-shaking clashes in Incredible Hulk #402-404 and Incredible Hulk #457, World War Hulk: X-Men, and Marvel Adventures with neither of them really getting it over on the other.  This is a rivalry that needs to be renewed so that they can determine once and for all who is the toughest Marvel Brute?        

     

    Iron Man vs. Doctor Doom – One is one of the smartest men alive who is a technical wizard that has created a suit of high tech armor that is a walking weapon of mass destruction, and he fights for justice.  The other is one of the smartest men alive who is an actual wizard that has constructed a high tech suit of armor that is a walking weapon of mass destruction, and he fights for conquest.  Not since Ali/Frazier has there been a more natural and all too short-lived rivalry.  In “Doomquest,” these men of science find themselves trapped in the past on opposing sides in the fabled Kingdom of Camelot.  During the Acts of Vengeance campaign, they are transported one-hundred years into the future to duel it out.  Even when the power of the Infinity Gauntlet threatens the very fabric of reality, the natural rivalry between these two heats up as the mighty Thor must physically restrain Iron Man from accosting Doctor Doom in the moments leading up to final battle with the Mad Titan.          

     

    Top 5 Rivalries the Odinson Wants to See Grow

     

    These are the rivalries whose flames need to be fanned and brought to an out-of-control blaze!

     

    Street Fighter vs. Mortal Kombat – The brawlers and brutes of Street Fighter have matched brawn and wits against the Marvel Universe and SNK Universe.  And, the demons, demi-gods, and masters of kung fu of Mortal Kombat have stood toe-to-toe with the World’s Greatest Super Heroes of the DC Universe.  Gamers have long debated which game is better and what fighters would prevail over the others.  It is high time the fans were treated to the ultimate face off – Street Fighter vs. Mortal Kombat!  

     

    Doctor Strange vs. Doctor Doom – Doctor Stephen Strange is the Sorcerer Supreme and the Master of the Mystic Arts.  Victor Von Doom is arguably the smartest man alive, he is encased in body armor that rivals Iron man’s power, and, next to Strange himself, may be the most insightful mortal medium for the magic in the Marvel Universe.  Doom once manipulated Strange into helping him face down the devil himself.  A rivalry between Stephen Strange and Victor Von Doom is begging to be explored.     

     

    Batman vs. Deathstroke – The Terminator has had a long, tumultuous history with Batman’s partner, Nightwing.  However, a rivalry between the two most dangerous men on the planet would be a match up made in Heaven.  Both men have made a career of overcoming impossible odds and logging victories, small and big, over far more powerful foes like Superman (Superman #68 and The Dark Knight Returns), the Teen Titans (The Judas Contract), Amazo (Batman #637), and the Justice League (Identity Crisis #3 and Tower of Babel).  They have both scored victories over the other (Deathstroke #7 and Infinite Crisis) and have stalemated (Detective Comics #708-710), but a showdown as truly epic as this one has never really been explored.  Want a Hot Sports Opinion?  The Odinson truly believes we have never seen a definitive mano-y-mano showdown between the Dark Knight and the Terminator because I believe the powers that be at DC Comics aren’t sure Batman would win.  

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell