So Sayeth the Odinson — with Michael Breakfield

  • It's Fight Night 2015 with the Odinson

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    Ding!  Ding!  It’s time once again, boys and girls for that time-honored tradition when the Odinson thinks about the super heroes (and villains) he’d love to see duke it out for the heavy weight championship belt.  It’s time once again for Fight Night!  Every comic fan has done this.  They’ve sat around with friends, or gathered at the local comic shop, or simply pondered “who would win?”  Here are some showdowns the Odinson would love to see come to fruition. 

     

    Sherlock Holmes vs. Hannibal Lecter – Holmes is the greatest detective in the history of popular fiction.  With his super human deductive reasoning, sharp as a hawk observational skills and rapier wit, Holmes, alongside his ever faithful partner, Dr. Watson, has solved some of the most perplexing mysteries of All-Time including A Study in Scarlet, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Final Problem, and more.  Hannibal Lecter is quite possibly the most diabolical criminal mastermind in history.  His genius level intellect and inhuman observational skills allow him to read a person like a book just by looking at them and break a person’s spirit just with his words.  Lecter is a serial killer of the highest order.  He was a psychiatrist that dined on his victims.  A census taker once tried to test Lecter.  He ate his liver with side of fava beans and nice Chianti. 

     

    Winner: Sherlock Holmes.  Holmes would be able to decipher the clues that would eventually lead him to Lecter’s lair. And, though Hannibal Lecter has demonstrated superior human strength and the ability to subdue would-be challengers, Sherlock Holmes is a capable boxer, fencer, apt with a firearm, and has been known to utilize martial arts, so he would be quite capable of defending himself.  Plus, he has Watson on his team.

     

    Black Adam vs. the Sub-Mariner – One is a pointy-eared monarch with a fiery temper and a knack for straddling the line between good and evil.  The other is a pointy-eared monarch with a fiery temper and a knack for straddling the line between good and evil.  Prince Namor the Savage Sub-Mariner is the original comic book anti-hero.  He’s been around since almost the beginning, debuting in 1939 exactly one year after Superman.  He is the king of the undersea kingdom of Atlantis.  His super human strength knows few rivals.  In the pages of World Trust, Namor changed the course of gigantic battleship against the pull of a monstrous whirlpool with his bare hands!  Namor can breathe under water (where he is practically invincible) and fly through the air.  He’s armed with a magical trident and a shell-horn that can summon leviathans from the deep.  A little used power he possesses is the ability to absorb and emit a shocking charge like an electric eel (see Fantastic Four #6).  Namor is one of the few beings around that can claim a one-on-one victory over the mighty Hulk.  He has fought both against and alongside the Avengers.  Teth-Adam is a 5,000 year old Egyptian prince who is endowed with the immortal might of the gods.  When he utters the word SHAZAM, a bolt of lightning transforms him into Black Adam and gives him the stamina of Shu, the swiftness of Heru, the strength of Amon, the wisdom of Zehuti, the power of Aton, and the courage of Mehen.  Adam has the ability to bestow his power on others and thus create a super family (see Isis and Osiris).  Black Adam is such a force to be reckoned with that even the DCU’s biggest guns like Superman and Captain Marvel are hard pushed to keep him in check.  He has fought against and alongside the Justice Society. 

     

    Winner: Black Adam.  This one was almost too close to call, but I believe in the end that Adam’s immortal stamina and nigh invulnerability edges out Namor’s, but just barely.  However, if Namor could somehow move the brawl to the ocean…

     

    The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers vs. the Voltron Force – The first is a group of teenagers from Angel Grove that are trained in martial arts, possess superb agility, and work well as a team, and that’s all before they morph into super human ninjas.  The Power Rangers each possess special weapons and all pilot Zords, mighty robots replicating the monstrous might of dinosaurs.  These Zords can also merge and transformer into the giant Megazord, an invincible robot armed with an array of destructive weapons not the least of which is the mighty Megasword.  They have defeated the witch Rita Repulsa and the alien despot Lord Zedd and their army of monsters both big and small.  The other team is a band of space explorers that have traveled to the far side of the universe and rediscovered a legend.  They each pilot a mighty lion robot.  Each lion is capable of amazing feats, but when the lions merge together they transform into Voltron: Defender of the Universe!  The Voltron Force has defeated the alien dictator Zarkon, his witch Haggar, and their army of RoboBeast time and again. 

     

    Winner: The Voltron Force.  Though in hand-to-hand combat the Power Rangers easily take the V-Force, once the battle continues over, as you know it will, to the giant robot portion of the brawl, the Blazing Sword trumps the Megasword every time. 

     

    Marvel’s Masters of Kung-Fu vs. DC’s Fists of Fury – First off, the rules.  Rule #1: No Super Powers.  So, characters like Daredevil, Black Canary, Moon Knight and Deathstroke are out because of their unfair advantages.  Rule #2: No Healing Factors.  Guys that rely on healing factors like Wolverine and Deadpool are not allowed to play.  Rule #3: No Captain America and Batman.  Because, these two ultimate fighters would just wipe the floor with everybody.  Now, on to the competition. 

     

    In Marvel’s corner we have: Shang Chi the Master of Kung-Fu, Danny Rand the Immortal Iron Fist, Elektra, the Daughters of the Dragon, Black Widow, Mockingbird, Batroc the Leaper, and the Sons of the Tiger.  In DC’s corner we have: Richard Dragon, The Question, Lady Shiva, King Snake, Wildcat, Judomaster, Connor Hawke, Bronze Tiger, Karate Kid, and Katana. 

     

    Winner: The Fans!!!  Everybody wins when we get to witness a free-for-all featuring the Deadly Hands of Kung Fu on this list!

     

    NOTE: The Odinson does not count the “Iron Fist” as a super power because it is a manifestation of Rand’s martial arts chi. 

     

    Now those were some good brawls.  Somebody call Damage Control and the Giant Robot Warrior Maintenance Crew because the collateral damage is going to be epic!  

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • The Odinson Asks Who is Superman’s Forgotten Rival?

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    Lex Luthor is the Man of Steel’s undisputed arch nemesis.  Villains like Metallo and the Kryptonite Man challenge his, albeit few, weaknesses.  Femme fatales like Star Sapphire, Maxima, and the Silver Banshee challenge the Man of Tomorrow’s sense of chivalry.  Mr. Mxyzptlk challenges his patience.  From Brainiac to Toyman, General Zod to Bizarro, Mongul to Darkseid, the Last Son of Krypton has many super villains and space despots to challenge him on many different levels.  Many of these diabolical names have become legends in the DC Universe.  But once upon a time, there was another “superman” that challenged the Man of Steel in a different way.  He challenged Superman for the love of a woman.

     

    Who is Superman’s Forgotten Rival?

     

    His is name is Vartox.  He, like Superman, has powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men.  Vartox possesses super human strength, invulnerability, super speed, flight, super human mental powers like telekinesis and telepathy, and on and on….  Like Superman, his powers are many.  Like Superman, Vartox’s homeworld, Valeron, has been destroyed.  And, like Superman before him, Vartox has fallen in love with the Man of Steel’s high school sweetheart, Lana Lang.

     

    Like many rivals, Vartox and Superman are friends, but sometimes circumstances can pit them against each other.  In Superman #281, the Man of Steel is confronted by Vartox for the first time.  Vartox has come to Earth to punish the criminal responsible for the death of his wife’s twin whose death psychically caused the demise of Vartox’s spouse.  It is a difficult task, even for the Man of Steel, to stymie the efforts of a man seeking revenge, especially when that man’s powers and abilities are just as super as Superman’s.        

     

    In Action Comics #476, Vartox has decided that he would make a better protector for mankind than Superman and he aims to prove it.  After the destruction of his own homeworld, in Action Comics #498-499, Vartox decides to take up residence on Earth once again that is until he finally finds a new adoptive world. In Superman #356-357, even a hero as powerful as Vartox learns he has limitations and he must swallow his pride and ask the Last Son of Krypton for his help in defeating a cosmic menace whose power dwarfs them both.  In a 3-part tale from Superman #373-375, the love triangle between Superman, Lana Lang, and Vartox takes a more complicated and serious turn when Vartox’s ex-lover, Syreena, executes a diabolical scheme to murder Lana and frame Vartox for the crime.   

     

    The reason why the Odinson brings up Vartox is because I remember as a child reading Superman adventures and the fact that there was another “superman” in the DCU that could do everything Superman could do and also challenge the Man of Steel for the affections of Lana Lang just captured my imagination.  All these Vartox appearances I’ve mentioned were Pre-Crisis appearances.  Vartox didn’t make his Post-Crisis debut until many years later in Superman #148, but his powers were greatly diminished as was his role in the life of Superman and the greater DC Universe.  His most recent appearance that I know of occurred in the tale from Power Girl #7.  In this storyline, Vartox has come to Earth to court the affections of Power Girl.  It seems the women of Vartox’s homeworld have become sterile and he wants Power Girl to help him repopulate his world.          

     

    It has not gone unnoticed by the Odinson that this larger than life hero who once upon a time was an actual rival for the greatest super hero of them all has been reduced to little more than a throwaway joke.  His homeworld has been destroyed; he’s a powerful man without a purpose; he is in love with a mortal woman but cannot be with her because she cannot survive on his new world - Vartox has all the classic Shakespearian roots to be an outstanding source for dramatic yarns.  Whether it be in The New 52 or the aftermath of Convergence, the Odinson would love to see the glorious return of Vartox to the fold of the DCU.  Think about it.  Just how delicious would be for Vartox to show up now and challenge Superman for the affections of his current girlfriend – Wonder Woman?  

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

     

  • The Odinson Takes a Look Back on The Time of Troubles

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    Universal changes are nothing new to the worlds of science fiction and action/adventure.  From Crisis on Infinite Earths to The New 52, from Heroes Reborn to Secret Wars, from Star Trek: The Original Series to J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek, every fictional universe eventually experiences change on a grand scale.  A reset button is pushed.  These are usually great jumping on points for new readers and future fans. 

     

    One of the Odinson’s all-time favorite universal changes has to be The Time of Troubles.

     

    In the History of the DC Universe there is Pre-Crisis continuity, The Crisis, and Post-Crisis continuity.  The same can be said for the Forgotten Realms, a Dungeons and Dragons universe.  In 1987, TSR (later to be known as Wizards of the Coast) launched the Forgotten Realms, a massive campaign for the AD&D role-playing game.  Over the last nearly three decades, the Realms have spawned countless adventures for gamers, novels, comic books, and video games. 

     

    Before the Time of Troubles, the daring exploits and gallant achievements of heroes like Drizzt Do ‘Urden, Priam Agrivar and the Companions of Selune’s Smile, Alias and Dragonbait, and the brave Crew of the Realms Master were already making the myths and their names were becoming legend.  Then came the Time of Troubles when gods walked the earth and the Realms were thrown into upheaval.  Finally, there was the aftermath of the Avatar Crisis and the Forgotten Realms have not been the same since.  To truly realize just what a major event this was, one must first know what the Time of Troubles was.

     

    High above the mortal coil, in the heavenly realms where gods dwell, the fabled Tablets of Fate, the artifacts responsible for maintaining the balance between good and evil in the universe, were stolen.  The pantheon of gods was assembled before the superior being, Ao.  When none would confess to the crime they were all cast out of the heavens and forced to walk amongst mankind in earthly Avatars.  Though they were still quite powerful, these Avatar forms left the former immortals vulnerable to true death.  Also, a side effect to having the gods not at their celestial stations meant things like magic and divine blessings did not work properly.  A wizard trying to cast a simple Light spell may set his entire town on fire. 

     

    As the plot unfolds, many of the gods and Realms heroes, both good and evil, meet their ends.  And, a few mortals actually ascend to divine status to fill the void of power left by the passing of certain deities.  The meat of this tale plays out in The Avatar Trilogy.  However, every corner of the Realms was affected by this crisis.

     

    In Waterdeep, the City of Splendors, the Companions of Selune’s Smile are caught in the middle of a divine feud between Selune the goddess of the moon and Shar the goddess of night.   It is a quarrel that will reveal a stunning secret about their longtime friend and confidant, Luna, the proprietor of the inn where they gather - Selune’s Smile.

     

    Aboard the fabled Realms Master, the crew’s resident cleric, Vartan Hai Sylvar, becomes the earthly avatar for his deity, Labelas the Lord of Continuum.  During The Hand of Vaprak campaign these brave heroes overcame the mad schemes of an ogre-mage and a cursed artifact.  In The Dragonreach Saga they solved the mystery of a dragonslayer and stopped his sinister plot that would have led to a flight of dragons that would have caused untold destruction throughout the Realms.  In Undead Love, they faced down the powerful magic of a deadly Lich.  The Crew of the Realms Master is made up of some of the most stalwart and legendary heroes in all the Realms, yet their confrontation with Labelas left them broken and on the verge of ruin.  In fact, they never truly recovered from the Time of Troubles and the survivors retired from adventuring altogether.     

     

    With many heroes, villains, and gods meeting their demise during the Time of Troubles, the landscape of the Forgotten Realms was forever changed.  The assassin Cyric destroyed Bhaal the Lord of Murder and took his place on the skulled throne.  The sorceress, Midnight, absorbed the essence of Mystra and became the goddess of magic after the former goddess fell in battle to Helm the Vigilant One.  Bhaal, having foreseen his own demise, set in motion a plot to keep his essence alive.  In the years leading up to the Time of Troubles, he fathered children all throughout the Realms.  This progeny would become known as the Bhaalspawn and their war and eventual sacrifice could lead to the former Lord of Murder’s return.  This is a spectacular tale that played out in the Baldur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn video games and continues to this day in IDW’s Legends of Baldur’s Gate comic series.   

     

    Big changes are coming to the Marvel and DC Universes this summer.  Secret Wars and Convergence will leave our favorite super hero universes different.  These kind of changes come in different grades – The Good: Crisis on Infinite Earths, The Bad: Heroes Reborn, and The Meh: The New 52.  Whether good or bad, change is sometimes necessary (Azrael replacing a Broken Bat or Wally West replacing a martyred Barry Allen) and oft times unnecessary (Superman’s costume).  Sometimes change is cool and interesting (Superior Spider-Man) and sometimes change can go practically unnoticed (Inhuman).  When it comes to truly epic times of change in the worlds of fiction, the Time of Troubles ranks right up there with the best of them.

     

    There are few things in this life that are constant, but one of them is change.    

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

     

  • The Odinson Revisits the Mysterious Town of Twin Peaks

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    Before The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lost, and The Walking Dead there was TWIN PEAKS, a supernatural/drama wrapped in a mystery and seasoned with humor created by writer Mark Frost (Fantastic Four, The Six Million Dollar Man) and director David Lynch (Dune, Mulholland Drive).  The landscape of television in the early 1990s was very different than it is now.  The airwaves were ruled by formulaic sitcoms and melodramatic soaps.  Then comes along Twin Peaks which combines these elements and throws in a supernatural twist for good measure, but was the audience of the time ready for such a genre-bending show that was way ahead of its time?  The answer was yes, at least at first. 

     

    Twin Peaks is a northwest logging town located in rural Washington.  The series begins on a cool morning when retired logger Pete Martell on his way to fishing discovers a body on the shore of the lake, a body wrapped in plastic.  The victim is soon identified as Laura Palmer, the local prom queen and a girl that has seemingly touched the lives of nearly everyone in town.  FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, portrayed by Kyle MacLachlan (Dune, Justice League: The New Frontier, Agents of SHIELD), is called in to investigate the murder.  In television and movies in most situations like this, for some reason local law enforcements seem to always have a problem when federal law is called onto a case.  Right off the bat, the audiences is shown that this is not going to be a cliché show.  The relationship between Agent Cooper and local law enforcement is not only not antagonistic but in fact Cooper and the Sheriff of Twin Peaks, Harry S. Truman, become fast friends and a powerful crime-fighting duo in the tradition of Batman and Robin or Captain America and the Falcon.  Also, unlike most seemingly melancholy, brooding leading men with a haunted past, Cooper is high-spirited, well-spoken, and optimistic.  He is easily one of the greatest television characters in the history of the medium. 

     

    What follows is an investigation that reveals not only the multilayered, complex life of Laura Palmer, but also the duality and secrets that surround not only the colorful and oft offbeat citizens of Twin Peaks, but also the town itself.  As Truman explains to Cooper about the woods surrounding the town - “There’s sort of an evil out there…a darkness, a presence….”  The show is an amalgam of genres ranging from laugh-out-loud funny (as when Deputy Andy nearly knocks himself unconscious when he steps on a loose board) to soap opera-inspired melodrama (like the strained father/daughter relationship of Ben Horne and Audrey) to edge-of-your seat suspenseful horror (like when demonic Bob appears before Maddy).  This blending of so many different genres may have been done before but never to the extent that Twin Peaks did. 

     

    Life is not one thing or another.  It can be funny, scary, dramatic, and mysterious, and sometimes all at once.  By blending all these different aspects, Twin Peaks made for a more complex and entertaining show, and therefore interesting kind of storytelling.  This is a method that has been attempted, imitated, and in many ways perfected over the last two decades by highly critical and fan favorite shows like Buffy, Angel, The Sopranos, Lost, and Sons of Anarchy, just to name a few.  Unfortunately, unlike all these other shows mentioned, the majority of TV audiences in the early 1990s were seemingly not ready for such complex storytelling for Twin Peaks was cancelled after only thirty episodes.  Lynch followed the premature demise of the cult show with the feature film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, a prologue/epilogue to the series that left the fans with more questions than answers.       

     

    The final episode of Twin Peaks is the ultimate frustration for fans though, as it ends with no less than half a dozen cliffhangers not the least of which is the fate of series protagonist Agent Dale Cooper.  Without giving spoilers, it seems Cooper is left “changed” in the aftermath of his experience in the Black Lodge.  Much like Joss Whedon’s Firefly, Twin Peaks ended way before its time.  That this beloved show was cut off so abruptly is made even more baffling by the fact that both TV Guide and Time Magazine have voted Twin Peaks as one of the greatest TV shows of All-Time.

     

    It has been almost exactly four years to the day since I watched the series in its entirety for the first time (see Twin Peaks Retrospective).  I remember the phenomenon that was Twin Peaks back in the early 90s but I was in high school and preoccupied with girl-chasing and sports so, much to my detriment, I missed out on the initial run.  But in 2011, I was turned onto the series by Lone Star Comics alumni Craig Miller, the co-editor of Wrapped in Plastic, a magazine dedicated to all things Twin Peaks.  Unfortunately, Craig passed away in recent years but I will be forever grateful to him for not only introducing me to Twin Peaks, but for also the many discussions and debates we had about comics, TV, movies, and pop culture in general. 

     

    A recent and exciting announcement caused me to revisit the town of Twin Peaks and watch the entire run of the show again.  It was just announced that Mark Frost and David Lynch are returning to Twin Peaks!  A brand new nine-episode mini-series will air on Showtime in 2016.  Now this is so incredibly wonderful on so many different levels.  One, fans will finally get closure (hopefully) to all those stunning cliffhangers from the final episode of the series.  Two, a lot of the original cast including Kyle MacLachlan (Agent Cooper) and Sheryl Lee (Laura Palmer) are signed on to reprise their roles.  Three, all the episodes will be written and directed by series creators Frost and Lynch.  And four, in the final episode, Laura Palmer’s spirit in the Black Lodge tells Agent Cooper that she’ll see him again in twenty-five years.  The Odinson is by no means a math wizard but if you count up from 1991 when the show’s final episode ended to 2016 when the show will pick back up again that is exactly twenty-five years.  Now that is a master stroke of genius and creativity on such a meta-level by Frost and Lynch that it gives the Odinson goosebumps just thinking about it.     

     

    That is very exciting. 

     

    Twin Peaks was a pop cultural phenomenon that acquired a huge cult following.  It is one of the most important television shows of the 20th Century as it paved the way for the modern Golden Age of Television we are experiencing right now with multilayered shows like Madmen, Sons of Anarchy, The Black List, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, and more.  The Odinson cannot wait for the return of this seminal show set in the quirky little logging town located in the great northwest.  I cannot wait to learn the fate of Agent Dale Cooper.  And, from the Log Lady to The Man from Another Place, I am looking forward to once again seeing the strange and unusual denizens of Twin Peaks, the town with the best coffee and cherry pie in the world.

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • How Do the Independents Challenge the Big Two?

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    One of the best ways to be successful in life is to find a niche.  Find that one thing that you are really good at and run with it.  Now this doesn’t mean you aren’t good at other things, you just so happen to really excel at this one particular thing.  In the landscape of comics it cannot even be argued that Marvel and DC have the market cornered on the super hero genre.  Their two slices of the pie take up nearly the entire sales chart, but what about those other smaller slices of the pie?  There must be some reason why those other companies not only challenge the Big Two for shares of the market, but in some instances even surpass them.

     

    They do so because they have found their niche with the fans.

     

    Image is the King of Science Fiction – The astronomical sales of the space opera Saga and the survival horror The Walking Dead alone would be enough to crown Image but their knack for sci-fi doesn’t end there.  They explore the multiverse with Black Science.  They explore the relationships between man and machine in Alex Plus Ada.  They explore mysteries and horrors of science gone wrong in titles like Clone and Wildfire.  They pull back the curtain on the end of days in East of West.  And, they blast off to the stars in titles like Starlight and EGOs.  If there were a genre to be king of, Science Fiction has got to be near the top of the list. 

     

    Dark Horse is the King of Horror – Dark Horse gets a lot of credit for bringing manga into the mainstream, but what they really excel at is really scary stories starring really compelling characters.  With the epic crossover Fire and Stone, Dark Horse brought together three “monster” franchises – Aliens, Predator, and Prometheus – and created an intertwining tale of horror and evolution the Odinson hopes to one day see on the Big Screen.  Joss Whedon’s Buffyverse, a place filled with vampires, witches, and zombies, is alive and well with the continuing adventures of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel and Faith.  Not to be out done.  Nobody defeats the forces of darkness better than the aquatic Abe Sapien and the supernatural agents of B.P.R.D., and nobody pounds monsters into pulp better than the legendary Hellboy and the two-fisted Goon.  In Leaving Megalopolis, we see just how scary it would be to live in a world where the super hero community turns against the very people they have sworn to protect.  Tiger Lung reveals what the world was like at the dawn of time and how mankind survived in the face of the old horrors that once stalked the earth.  And, Dark Horse allows modern day readers to feel the tension and terror yesterday’s readers did with the classic horror stories from the Creepy and Eerie magazines.           

     

    IDW is the King of the Licensed Properties – If, like the Odinson, you were a child of the 80s, the decade that gave us Pac Man and the Rubik’s Cube, then pop culture juggernauts like GI Joe, Transformers, My Little Pony, Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the Garbage Pail Kids are no strangers to you.  IDW has brought these viable franchises into the New Millennium and taken them to new heights of popularity bridging the gap between Generation X and the Millennials.  IDW has explored the perils of Dungeons and Dragons, resurrected The Crow, and given the Angry Birds a new platform.  IDW has also produced some of the best Star Trek and Godzilla comics in history.  And, IDW has continued the adventures of Agents Mulder and Scully and their pursuit of The X-Files and Jack Bauer’s further adventures in 24.  Nobody does the licensed property like IDW.  It’s a huge reason why they are constantly challenging Dark Horse for that fourth spot on the sales chart.      

     

    Dynamite is the King of Dusting off Old Treasures and Breathing New Life into Them – If IDW is the King of Licensed Properties, then Dynamite is the King of breathing life into old classics.  Pulp Adventure Heroes like Doc Savage, the Shadow, Flash Gordon, Mandrake the Magician, and the Black Bat enjoyed their greatest success in the 1930s and 40s.  The Green Hornet, Six Million Dollar Man, and the Bionic Woman were popular heroes of the 60s and 70s.  The sultry Vampirella was at the height of her macabre powers nearly four decades ago.  Along with the new TV show, Dynamite played a huge role in the comeback of the cult classic Battlestar Galactica.  Legendary heroes like John Carter, Zorro, and the Lone Ranger were products of a bygone era. And, characters like Red Sonja and Solar Man of the Atom have not experienced the kind of popularity and success they are currently having since their debuts in the 60s and 70s.  Once upon a time, each and every one of these properties were gold standard but along the way they lost some the luster that made them best-sellers.  Though they may have had some slight success here and there over the years, they are truly enjoying a renaissance under the umbrella of Dynamite Entertainment.      

     

    Valiant is the King of “What was Old is Now New Again” – In the early 90s, Valiant exploded onto the scene and their comic sales even challenged those of the Big Two.  However, only a few short years later, when the comic market nearly crashed, Valiant all but imploded and disappeared from the landscape.  Then, suddenly in 2012, like a phoenix from the ashes, Valiant returned.  X-O Manowar, Harbinger, Bloodshot, Archer and Armstrong, Ninjak, and more were back!  And, with great creative teams helming the ship, Valiant has returned to the fold, bigger and better than ever.

     

    Each of these Independents may live in the shadow of the Big Two when it comes to sales in the super hero genre, but make no mistake, they have all found their niche, and each one of them is master of their own little piece of the pie.      

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • Pulp Fiction Heroes of Yesterday Inspire the Modern Super Heroes of Today

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    I recently watched a fantastic documentary on Hulu called Pulp Fiction: The Golden Age of Storytelling.  It ran down the history of this highly influential genre.  It is amazing how much the origins of the Pulps mirror our own modern times and just how much the Pulp Heroes inspired the modern day super hero.  Pulp Fiction is the Godfather of modern day action/adventure stories.   

     

    The genre got its name from the cheap magazines these stories were offered in, a magazine printed on very cheap pulp paper.  Though the magazines had been around since the turn of the Twentieth Century, the genre really rose to prominence in the years leading into, during, and following the Great Depression.  During this harrowing time in history when twenty-five percent of Americans were out of work, the fantastical space fantasies and hard-hitting crime stories of the Pulps provided a much needed distraction, and at a price that didn’t hurt the wallet.  In recent years, we experienced the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2008, the worst of its kind since the Great Depression.  Much like then, modern day consumers needed a distraction from their financial woes – Enter: The Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

     

    In the shadow of the worse financial crisis in seventy-five years, the entertainment business has turned to the worlds of comic books to help the populace take their minds off their financial woes.  Like the Pulp Magazines before them, the comic industry is experiencing a modern day Golden Age.  Star Wars #1, released January of this year, sold nearly one million copies!  That’s the most issues sold we’ve seen since the days of X-Men #1 and The Death of Superman.  From Arrow to The Flash, Gotham to Constantine, Daredevil to Alias, television is littered with comic book inspired TV, and not just schlock either, good quality television.  And, comic book inspired movies like Big Hero 6, Hercules, Sin City, RED, and, of course, the Marvel Cinematic Universe rule the Box Office.

     

    However, this is not the only parallel that can be drawn from the Golden of Storytelling to these modern times.  What about the legendary Pulp Heroes and their epic adventures that inspired writers and artists to create our heroes of today?

     

    Doc Savage – Arguably the greatest Pulp Hero, Savage is the Man of Bronze, a superior human being with immense strength and intelligence that battles evil doers and their master plans that range from science fiction to the macabre.  His base of operations is the Fortress of Solitude and he surrounds himself with a team of brilliant peers that help him keep the world safe.  He inspired Superman, arguably the greatest super hero.  Superman is the Man of Steel with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men.  His base of operations is the Fortress of Solitude and alongside the Justice League, the World’s Greatest Super Heroes, he fights a never-ending battle for peace, justice, and the American Way!   

     

    The Shadow – This mysterious vigilante strikes terror in the hearts of evil doers everywhere.  He is a deadly adversary to those that have wronged the innocent and he possesses the ability to cloud the minds of men.  He obtained his superior crime-fighting prowess studying abroad and learning ancient mystic secrets.  Bill Finger and Bob Kane have both gone on record saying that the Shadow inspired the creation of Batman.  The Dark Knight Detective even sported twin .45s like the Shadow in his earliest adventures.  And, like the Shadow, he learned his superior crime-fighting abilities by traveling around the world.    

     

    Conan the Barbarian – From Lord of the Rings to the Forgotten Realms, from Dragonlance to Warhammer, what fantasy/sword and sorcery fiction of the last century hasn’t been inspired by the mighty Cimmerian’s Hyborian exploits?

     

    Fu Manchu – Though Dracula was the first, this devilish criminal mastermind helped define the role of the arch super villain.  Fu Manchu, with his diabolical schemes of world domination and super intellect that always seemed to keep him one step ahead of his foes, created the archetype for modern day super villains like Lex Luthor and Doctor Doom.  Also, long before Darth Vader’s stunning revelation in Empire Strikes Back, Fu Manchu was revealed to be the father of the martial arts hero Shang Chi the Master of Kung Fu.    

     

    Green Lama – After the tragic death of his parents, Jethro Dumont studied for years in Tibet and learned many mystical secrets.  He returned to the United States where he uses his new found mystical powers to fight crime and injustice as the Green Lama.  Stephen Strange was a brilliant surgeon who tragically lost his medical abilities when his hands were severely injured in a drunken car crash.  He journeyed to the far-east where he studied under the tutelage of the Ancient One and learned the ways of magic.  He returned to New York where he now fights evil as the supernatural adventurer Doctor Strange.

     

    The Phantom Detective – He is a master detective that works alongside the police to solve baffling mysteries.  The Phantom Detective is also a master of disguise and a superb escape artist.  It’s no stretch at all to say that his daring exploits inspired the adventures of many other modern day super detectives like Batman, the Question, and Moon Knight.  Also, long before the Bat-Signal ever lit up the Gotham City skyline, a red beacon was lit from atop a roof to summon the Phantom Detective into action. 

     

    The Spider – Though the Spider possesses many of the same qualities as the Shadow and Phantom Detective, so those influence have already been touched on, another reason why the Master of Men makes this list is his monumental contribution to modern day fiction.  Stan “The Man” Lee himself in an anecdote said that he drew the inspiration for the name Spider-Man from having read the adventures of The Spider.  So, even if in name only, the Spider inspired the creation of not only a seminal modern day super hero, but the face and the mascot of modern day comic books. 

     

    Solomon Kane – He may not have been the first monster hunter in history but this supernatural avenger has a long line of worthy successors.  Blade, Buffy, Cassie Hack, and the Winchester Brothers, just to name a few, can do their jobs much better thanks to the groundwork laid down by this Puritan demon-hunter.

     

    TarzanKorak, Jo-Jo, Jann, Sheena, Kaanga, Lorna, Ka-Zar, Shanna, Tono and Kono, Thunda, George…and the list goes on and on of the jungle heroes and heroines inspired by the magnificent adventures of Greystoke, the Lord of the Jungle.

     

    Zorro – A masked adventurer considered by many to be an outlaw.  He has a secret cave lair and a lightning-fast black steed.  He’s a brilliant tactician, a master combatant, and a superb athlete with amazing agility.  By day he’s a wealthy well respected man of his community, but by night he’s the scourge of the underworld and evildoers everywhere.  Is he the Green Hornet?  Blue Beetle?  Nite-Owl?  Batman?  No, his name is Don Diego Vega, but you may know him as Zorro!

     

     

    Other Pulp Heroes and Modern Day Super Heroes They Inspired:  Buck Rogers to Adam Strange, Hopalong Cassidy to The Lone Ranger,  The Avenger to The Punisher, Domino Lady to Catwoman, G8 to Blackhawk, and Secret Agent X to James Bond.

     

    Another overarching theme the Pulp Heroes have in common with the modern day super hero is the archetype of the billionaire playboy/masked avenger.  A lot of the Pulp Heroes were this and that theme has carried over with names like Bruce Wayne, Oliver Queen, Marc Spector, Hunter Rose, and Tony Stark.  The list of the legendary writers that wrote the Pulps reads like a Who’s Who of the greatest fiction writers in history.  Names like Edgar Rice Burroughs, Isaac Asimov, Lester Dent, Arthur Conan Doyle, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ray Bradbury, and H. P. Lovecraft are the forefathers to Stan Lee, Bill Finger, Denny O’Neil, Chris Claremont, Jim Shooter, Brian Michael Bendis, and Geoff Johns.  Also, much like the Golden Age of comics of the 1930s and 40s, many of the original Pulp Magazines and the artwork of the early Twentieth Century have been destroyed and high quality copies are hard to come by, making them treasures to find for collectors and fans.   

     

    The Odinson highly recommends the documentary Pulp Fiction: The Golden Age of Storytelling.  Check it out and from the time period they were made in to the stable of Hall of Fame writers and creators to the tales themselves, learn how the Pulp Fiction Heroes of yesterday inspired the Modern Super Heroes of today.                

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

     

  • It's Time Once Again for the Odinson's Annual (10 years straight and running) Shout-Out to a Sorely Missed Hero - Rom Spaceknight

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    *SPECIAL OFFER* Only for a limited time, for every volume of Simon Roy and Jason Wordie’s supernatural adventure TIGER LUNG ordered, the customer will receive an 11x16 Tiger Lung poster signed by the writer for FREE!  (While supplies last.)  Synopsis: 30,000 B.C., the world was ruled by strange beasts and ancient gods! Paleolithic tribes survive under the protection of brave shaman warriors that struggle to keep their people alive in a vast, hostile universe. *SPECIAL OFFER*

     

    Now on to this week’s subject.

     

    You guessed it, boys and girls, it’s time once again for the Odinson’s annual shout-out to a sorely missed character with all the potential to be a great comic and one of the best in history.  Once a year I try to talk up one of my all-time favorite heroes from the past in hopes that Marvel will dust him off, work out whatever copyrights they need to, and bring him back to the fold.  I am, of course, speaking of ROM the Spaceknight, whose series ran 75 issues and 4 annuals from 1979-1987. 

     

    ROM (1979-1986) #1-75 and ROM Annual (1982-1985) #1-4 depict an epic tale of love, loss, redemption, and, of course, scary alien monsters.  Deep in space two centuries ago a decisive battle between the forces of good and evil was fought.  The brave Spaceknights of Galador defeated the evil sorcery and super-science of the wicked Dire Wraiths, and scattered them to the furthest reaches of the galaxy.  Now, in present day their eternal struggle has spilled over to Earth.  ROM, greatest of the Spaceknights, has landed in a small West Virginia town.  Frightened by the arrival of a seven-foot alien, the people of Clairton call in the National Guard.  ROM is then forced to defend himself against those he has come to save.

     

    Now that’s the kind of set-up that sets the stage for a truly classic sci-fi adventure.

     

    ROM was a very important character to the early eighties Marvel Universe.  For example, in ROM #32, Rogue – who at this time was still with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants - attempts to absorb ROM’s abilities.  ROM’s innate nobility awakens her own goodness, thus helping her on her path to seek out the X-Men (as seen in Uncanny X-Men #171).  The rest is history.  Also, Richard Rider’s story did not actually end with the cancellation of his first series (see Nova Classic).  It concluded in Fantastic Four #208 and ROM #24.  After ROM helps Nova defend the planet Xandar from a Skrull invasion, Richard Rider decides to give up his Nova powers and return to Earth.  These issues bridge the gap between Nova #25 in 1979 and New Warriors #1 in 1990 where Nova made his triumphant return.  In Incredible Hulk #296, when the citizens of a small town are mutated and begin to die from Gamma radiation poisoning, it’s ROM that swoops in and saves the day.  The drama of this tale is part of what sets the Hulk on his spiraling path to his remarkable meltdown in the now classic Incredible Hulk #300.   You can see this tragic episode in its entirety in the pages of Incredible Hulk: Regression; however, Incredible Hulk #296 is only paraphrased in the graphic novel with all of ROM’s parts edited out, to the Odinson’s displeasure. 

     

    ROM is definitely a force to be reckoned with.  He has stood toe-to-toe with Marvel heavyweights likes Jack of Hearts, Terrax the Tamer, Gladiator, the Savage Sub-Mariner, and he has even survived a harrowing encounter with the mighty Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds.  All across the globe, the greatest of the Spaceknights has fought side-by-side with some of Earth’s mightiest and most stalwart heroes including: the X-Men, New Mutants, Torpedo, Power Man and Iron Fist, the Thing,  Shang Chi, Doctor Strange, the Soviet Super Soldiers (now known as Winter Guard), and Alpha Flight.  And, talk about epic events, there is nothing more epic than the final battle between ROM and his sworn enemies, the Dire Wraiths, with the fate of mankind hanging in the balance. 

     

    As the tale unfolds and builds toward its breath-taking climax, ROM is defeated and victory is within the grasp of the evil Dire Wraiths.  However, one last thing stands in their way and total victory…all those pesky super-heroes ROM spent the first 64 issues of his series recruiting to his cause.  ROM is joined by the Avengers, West Coast Avengers, X-Men, Defenders, Soviet Super-Soldiers, Beta Ray Bill, and all of the heroes of the world in one last ultimate battle to rid the Earth of Wraithkind forever.  To put it simply, it’s awesome, and it all takes place in Avengers #244-245, Uncanny X-Men #187-188, ROM Annual #3, and ROM #61-66.  This is a Mighty Marvel Classic that is begging to get the Epic Collection treatment. 

     

    ROM’s original series features superb writing by Bill Mantlo (Cloak and Dagger, Rocket Raccoon), some of the best artwork from the illustrious career of Sal Buscema (Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man), plus some fantastic covers by Mike Zeck (Punisher, Captain America) and Frank Miller (Daredevil, Batman), and pencils by the legendary co-creator of Spider-Man, Steve Ditko.  I can’t recommend this comic series enough.  If you love Science Fiction and stories of passion and bravery, cool guest appearances, and, of course, scary alien creatures, then ROM is for you.

     

     

    I know ROM received a satisfying and well-earned ending at the conclusion to his series, but surely the Greatest Spaceknight can be enticed to come out of retirement to instill some much needed justice in a chaotic universe.  ROM’s last appearance in comics was at Rick Jone’s wedding in Incredible Hulk #418.  According to the events of the 2000 series Spaceknights, ROM had taken the name Artour (remember his encounter with the ghosts of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table in ROM #37). He is missing and presumed dead.  As we all know, good heroes die hard.  At the very least this guy has earned the right to get either the Essential or Marvel Masterworks treatment.  I know Marvel no longer possesses the rights to the character, but now, with the power of Disney backing them up, surely they can muster the funds to pave the way for ROM’s return to the House of Ideas. 

     

    In recent years in pop culture, ROM made a cameo appearance in the instant classic 3-part South Park epic Imaginationland.  What a triumphant moment that was for the Odinson to see one of his all-time favorite heroes be recognized like that.  ROM also made a not-so-triumphant appearance in an episode of Robot Chicken.  Several times in recent years, ROM has been referred to and mentioned in all but name (see Annihilators and Avengers #12.1). 

     

    STOP TEASING US, MARVEL!  Please, work out the rights with Parker Brothers or whoever holds the rights to this awesome hero and return him back to the fold.  Marvel is suffering similar copyright woes with collecting the classic adventures of the Master of Kung Fu because Shang Chi’s origin story ties in so heavy with Fu Manchu, a character not owned by Marvel.  However, in the aftermath of the upcoming Secret Wars 2015 event, Marvel will rewrite Chi’s history to omit the Fu Manchu ties.  Perhaps the same can be done with ROM.  Though I’d prefer to see his classic stories collected unabridged.          

     

    My point is this.  I’m obviously not the only ROM fan in the world.  There are websites dedicated to ROM.  This is an important character in Comics History.  This is a fantastic creation and dearly needs to come back.  This is my 10th Annual proclamation for ROM’s return, and I’m prepared to do it every year until the end of time until the powers that be heed my call.

     

    Marvel, hear my plea.  Work it out and bring ROM back!

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell 

  • The Odinson Celebrates the 30th Anniversary of ThunderCats!

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    Thunder.  Thunder!  ThunderCats!  Hooooooooooo!

     

    If you were a child of the 80s chances are you know exactly what that battle cry means.  It’s hard to believe that it’s been thirty years since the mighty ThunderCats debuted on syndicated television in January of 1985.  The 1980s was a Golden Age of original ideas when it came to popular culture.  Just to name a few, this is the decade that saw the birth of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, GI Joe A Real American Hero, Transformers, My Little Pony, MASK, Jem and the Holograms, and head-and-shoulders right there with the rest was the ThunderCats! 

     

    The tale of the ThunderCats is classic science fiction adventure at its best. 

     

    When their homeworld, Thundera is destroyed, a small band of survivors including a young prince named Lion-O, escapes to the stars on board a small ship.  While the few survivors lay in cryo-stasis, brave Jaga, Lion-O’s mentor, piloted the ship.  It took many years to find a safe port.  By the time their vessel crash-landed on a new world, Jagga had succumbed to old age, but his precious cargo was delivered safely.

     

    The survivors awoke to discover this new world was a virtual paradise called Third Earth.  They also discovered that their young prince was now a man!  It seems that Lion-O’s stasis chamber was damaged in their flight from doomed Thundera and Lion-O’s body aged slowly over the course of their long space flight.  Though he had the body of an adult ThunderCat, he still possessed the maturity of a twelve year old.  Part of his hero’s journey was learning how to become a responsible leader of his people.

     

    The ThunderCats quickly carved out a settlement for themselves in this brave new world and constructed a mighty citadel known as the Cat’s Lair.  They would soon discover that their sworn enemies, the devious Mutants, led by the reptilian Slithe, followed them to their new home and still sought their destruction.  They also discovered that this new paradise, though it was a planet of lush forests and beautiful grasslands, populated by benevolent denizens of every size and shape, this Third Earth, also possessed a dark side.

     

    Among the many dangers that bedeviled this world, the berserker pirates, the revenge-seeking demons, the galactic huntsmen, and the lunatic assassins, one name stood out as the ultimate force for evil on Third Earth – Mumm-Ra the Ever-Living!  Mumm-Ra was a frail yet immortal lich that lived in a foreboding pyramid in the darkest corner of Third Earth.  He could not abide a new power challenging his own, so he made it his wicked quest to wipe out the ThunderCats once and for all.  He recruited the Cat’s mortal enemies, the evil Mutants, to his cause.  Already a powerful magi-user, Mumm-Ra could increase his strength and power exponentially by calling upon the Ancient Spirits of Evil and transform himself into a seven-foot tall ogre-mage of immense strength and nigh unlimited magical power.

     

    The ThunderCats were a brave and stalwart breed and they met every challenge thrown their way.  As a race of humanoids descendant from cats, they all possessed natural super human agility and super keen senses.  However, each ThunderCat also brought unique skills, powers, and abilities of their own to the table.

     

    Lion-O – He is the undisputed Lord of the ThunderCats.  He is a courageous fighter and leader with incredible strength, speed, and endurance.  Armed with his unique Claw-Shield, a formidable gauntlet with many different capabilities, and the legendary Sword of Omens, a magical blade that can deflect and project powerful magic and give its wielder “Sight beyond Sight,” a precognitive vision, Lion-O is a mighty warrior capable of defeating nearly any foe.  However, on that rare occasion when even he is overwhelmed, Lion-O can use the Sword of Omens to summon the other ThunderCats to his side.

     

    Cheetara – She possesses the ability to accelerate to blinding levels of speed.  She is also a master with a Bo staff.

     

    Panthro – He possesses immense super human strength matched only by his keen intellect.  Panthro is a master of martial arts and the Nunchaku, and he is a master engineer and tech savvy.  He is pretty much to the ThunderCats what Beast is to the X-Men.

     

    Tigra – He also possesses a keen scientific mind, but don’t let the smarts fool you, armed with a three-pronged whip and the ability to disappear into the surroundings around him, Tigra is a fierce adversary.   

     

    Wily Kit and Kat – This brother and sister team are the masters of chaos and mayhem.  Their pouches are full all sorts of gimmicks, tricks, and traps that bewilder, baffle, and trip up their enemies.  They have mastered the art of getting into and out of trouble.

     

    Snarf – This lovable little worrywart is the self-appointed conscience of the group.  He spends his days and nights trying to make sure Lion-O is heading down the right path to become a just and good monarch.    

     

    Jaga – Much like Obi-Wan Kenobi to Luke Skywalker, Jaga’s influence and wisdom reaches out to guide Lion-O even from beyond the grave in the form of a ghostly apparition.        

     

    The ThunderCats was must watch television for a young Odinson.  I even enjoyed the other animated show set in the same universe – SilverHawks.  Though we didn’t have the amazing comic book dominated movies and TV of now, the 80s had their own super heroes.  In recent years, an updated version of the show has hit the airwaves.  Plus, in recent years, DC Comics has revitalized properties like Masters of the Universe and IDW has done wonderful things with GI Joe, Transformers, and My Little Pony.  I believe it’s time for the mighty ThunderCats to make a triumphant return to the four color medium and beyond.                 

     

    Here’s to you, ThunderCats!  Happy 30th Anniversary!  The Odinson was, is, and will always be a big fan.

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

     

  • Top 10 Breaking Bad Heroes: Part 2

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    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 2    

     

     5 - Ultimate Reed Richards – When the Ultimate Universe first launched, Ultimate Reed Richards is much like his 616 counterpart.  He is super intelligent, gains the powers of elasticity, and leads the Fantastic Four on many amazing adventures, even saving the world many times.  However, Ultimate Reed’s brain and cosmic ray mutations work a little different as he is constantly evolving and his intelligence is constantly increasing.  This warps his sense of reality and he transforms into an adversary of the heroes of the Ultimate Universe. Even the combine efforts of his former teammates in the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, and the Ultimates are barely able to stop his evil machinations.  In fact, this Reed Richards has become arguably the Ultimate Universe’s greatest super villain.    

     

    4 – Jean Grey – Originally teenager Jean Grey was a wallflower, a shy, mild-mannered girl that would blush at even the most harmless flirtation from her fellow students at Xavier’s Institute.  She possessed fantastic mind powers, telepathy and telekinesis, that Professor X helped her master.  However, on that fateful day she crossed paths and merged with the Phoenix Force, Jean Grey’s life was forever change.  Her already great psionic abilities were amplified to unearthly levels.  She became the Phoenix and with her new found might was able to accomplish astounding feats of heroism like repairing the fractured M’Krann Crystal, a device that if left unchecked would have destroyed the cosmos.  However, they say power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and Jean possessed the ultimate power in the universe.  She was soon corrupted and transformed into the Dark Phoenix.  The Dark Phoenix became a twisted force of nature destroying anything in her path, even sucking the life out of a star effectively destroying an entire star system, including an inhabited planet.  It was only through the Herculean efforts of her fellow X-Men, the Shi’ar Empire, and with great sacrifice on Jean’s part that the destructive power of the Dark Phoenix was stopped.  NOTE:  I understand that Marvel History has been reworked in The Return of Jean Grey and it was not Jean Grey that became the Dark Phoenix but actually the Phoenix Force’s proximity of her.  But, in essence it was Jean and it’s what would have happened if the events had played out even with her instead of a stand in.  Aren’t retcons fun? *ugh*        

     

    3 - Sarah Kerrigan – Once upon a time, Kerrigan was a Ghost, a super assassin with cloaking tech and uncanny psychic abilities.  Alongside her allies, the Sons of Korhal, she served in a revolution against the Confederacy.  This uprising was set against the backdrop of a three-way war between the terran race, the alien Protoss, and the monstrous zerg.  However, at the fall of Tarsonis, Kerrigan was betrayed by her commanding officer, Arcturus Mengsk, and left for dead as the zerg swarm engulfed the planet.  Then, something most unexpected happened, Kerrigan was not killed by the zerg invasion, instead she was infested and transformed into the Queen of Blades, the undisputed ruler over the vast zerg swarm.  As the Queen of Blades, Kerrigan’s already considerable psionic abilities have been amplified to monstrous levels.  Completely immersed into the zerg and fueled by revenge, the Queen of Blades seeks to wipe out all her terran and Protoss enemies.  The Dark Phoenix may have extinguished a star and obliterated a single life-supporting planet, but The Swarm, under the command of the Queen of Blades, has wiped up dozens of worlds and is responsible for the deaths of untold billions.

     

    2 - Hal Jordan – Hal Jordan was chosen by destiny to become a Green Lantern, a member of an intergalactic police force, granted a power ring with limits only curbed by the bearer’s imagination.  Across the cosmos there are hundreds of Lanterns protecting the innocent and defending justice, but Jordan was the bravest, he was the brightest, he was the best.  However, on that fateful day when the alien despot Mongul and the sinister Cyborg-Superman destroy Coast City, faced with the reality that the city and all the people under his protection were annihilated, Jordan went mad.  He destroyed the Green Lantern Corps and absorbed all the power of the Corps into himself becoming the mega powerful Parallax.  In his ill-fated quest for power enough to resurrect his fallen city, Jordan tried to rewrite history in Zero Hour and even teamed up with Thanos, the Mad Titan from another universe.  Though he ultimately found the hero within again and sacrificed his own life to save the Earth in the pages Final Night, and he has since been resurrected and welcomed back into the fold of the Green Lantern Corps he once destroyed, Jordan’s actions as the Parallax have forever left an uneasiness between him and his allies in the Justice League and Green Lantern Corps.    

     

    1 - Anakin Skywalker – Found by jedi knight Qui-Gon Jinn on the remote desert world of Tatooine, Anakin Skywalker was believed to be the Chosen One, the jedi that would one day bring balance back to the force.  Though in a roundabout way that was true, it would be a long, hard, gut-wrenching journey.  Under the tutelage of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin became a mighty jedi and a great hero during the infamous Clone Wars.  However, Anakin proved reckless and rash and was seduced by the dark side of the force.  He betrayed the Jedi Order and became Darth Vader.  Vader, backed by the power of the Empire and his ruthless master, the Emperor, hunted down and destroyed the Jedi Order.  Along the way he has murdered women, children, and was even party to the complete and utter annihilation of an entire planet.  He even murdered Obi-Wan Kenobi, the man that was his mentor, his friend, his brother.  Anakin’s fall from grace is one of the most legendary of its kind in the history of popular fiction.  Darth Vader has become synonymous with evil and alongside Hannibal Lecter, the Terminator, and the shark from JAWS will go up on the Mount Rushmore of movie villains.      

     

    Honorable Mentions: Angel, Ozymandias, Saruman, Spawn, Scarlet Witch, and Kitiara.

     

    One to keep an eye on: Superior Iron Man.

     

    Some may have found redemption and made it back to the side of the White Hats, others may still be spiraling down that dark road of sin, but once upon a time they were all heroes.  They were heroes but something happened along the way and they strayed from the righteous path.  These are the Breaking Bad Heroes.   

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

     

  • 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