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So Sayeth the Odinson — with Michael Breakfield

  • The Odinson Lists the Top 10 Objects of Power in Modern Day Pop Culture

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    Throughout history there have been legends of weapons and objects of power, treasures that can build empires and orchestrate the fall of kingdoms.  Excalibur, the fabled sword in the stone, was wielded by King Arthur, the legendary monarch of fabled Camelot.  In The Lord of the Rings, the One Ring to Rule Them All, was a highly sought after trinket of ultimate power.  The Ring’s fate will decide the fate of Middle-Earth.  Aladdin’s Lamp when rubbed produced a magical genie that could grant three wishes, anything the heart desires.  Jason and the Argonauts set out on a most harrowing quest to capture the divine power of the Golden Fleece.  And holy artifacts like the lost Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail are said to possess heavenly power that can turn the tide of human history.

     

    The brave crew of the Realms Master venture from one side of the Forgotten Realms to the other in search of objects of power.  In the fabled realms there exits artifacts of such magical power that they are items too powerful to be allowed to exist among mere mortals, items like The Hand of Vaprak, the Tablets of Fate, and Crenshinibon, the immensely powerful Crystal Shard.

     

    Our modern day legends and myths also have such objects of power.  Items of such legendary might that they can decide the fate of mankind depending upon who is in possession of them.

     

    Top 10 Objects of Power in Modern Day Pop Culture

     

    10 - Green Lantern Power Battery and Ring – The power of this modern day Aladdin’s Lamp is limited only by the user’s willpower and imagination.  The Green Lantern Corps use the power of the green light to enforce justice throughout the DC Universe.  A Green Lantern ring can erect powerful force fields, create objects of hard light like giant boxing gloves or dinosaurs, and allows it’s bearer to travel through the cosmos at greater than light speed.  The Justice League are the World’s Greatest Super Heroes, the Green Lantern Corps are the Universe’s Greatest Heroes.        

     

    9 - The Power Sword – Within this ancient blade resides all the cosmic secrets and magical powers of Castle Grayskull.  Prince Adam has been chosen to be the protector of these hallowed secrets and whenever he holds aloft this magic sword and utters the phrase - BY THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL - he is transformed into He-Man, the most powerful man in the universe.  He-Man is empowered with superhuman strength, speed, and endurance undreamed of, and the Power Sword has the ability to cut through anything, deflect powerful spells and lasers, and many other uncanny abilities. 

     

    8 - The Sword of Omens – This legendary blade is the hallmark of the Ruler of Thundera, the doomed planet of the displaced ThunderCats.  Within the swords hilt reside the Eye of Thundera, a mystical jewel that grants its wielder Sight-Beyond-Sight, an ability to see into other realms, unseen current events, future events, and the ability to see through illusions and tricks of the mind.  The Sword of Omens can protect its wielder from harm and deflect magical attacks, even ones as powerful as the Ancient Spirits of Evil.  The Sword of Omens can also summon all ThunderCats to the precise location of their king by projecting a brilliant signal in the sky and mystically drawing them to his location.   

     

    7 - The Philosopher’s Stone – This fables artifact is said to possess the power to transform any material to gold, but it is so much more than that.  In Fullmetal Alchemist, the Elric brothers quest across a war-torn landscape and battle soldiers, mad scientists, rogue Alchemists, monsters, and devils in search of the legendary Philosopher Stone for it is foretold that this object of power not only possesses the ability to restore Alphonse to his human body, but it also holds sway over life and death itself.  In the DCU, in the classic Grant Morrison tale Rock of Ages, the Philosopher’s Stone holds power over the space/time continuum and reality itself.   

     

    6 - Mjolnir – Forged in the heart of a star, the mighty hammer of Thor is one of the most powerful magical weapons in history.  Its handle was formed out of a branch from Yggdrasil, the World Tree.  Its head is forged from indestructible Uru ore.  This short-handled hammer is so heavy and un-wielding that only a warrior as strong as Thor can wield it in battle effectively.  And on top of that, Odin, King of the Norse Gods, has placed an enchantment upon the hammer which allows only those who are worthy to be able to even lift the hammer.  Mjolnir gives its master power over the weather.  Thor can summon thunder storms, lightning bolts, hurricane force winds, and freezing snow.  Mjolnir can deflect energy, magic or otherwise, it can create portals through time and space, and it allows Thor to fly at blinding speed.  In Thor’s mighty hands, Mjolnir can hit with such force that it can smash mountains, cause earthquakes, and shatter any barrier.  But Mjolnir’s most powerful ability is when Thor focuses his immortal soul through it in the form of an unstoppable bolt of pure divine energy.  This attack has given pause to the unstoppable Juggernaut and even repelled cosmic titans like Galactus and the Celestials.       

     

    5 - The Helmet of Fate – The fabled Helmut of Nabu is worn by the sorcerer Dr. Fate.  The Helmut transforms Fate into the earthly avatar of the Lords of Order, immortal protectors of justice.  It grants him insight into ancient secrets of the cosmos and the ability to channel powerful magic.  Only a chosen few can wear the helmet.  The unworthy are driven insane when the helmet’s mystical secrets of the universe are revealed to them.   

     

    4 - The Necronomicon – The infamous Book of the Dead has been a staple and MacGuffin of H.P. Lovecraftian Horror for nearly a century.  Within this terrible tomb bound in human flesh and inked in blood resides the dark powers to call forth the Army of Darkness and plague the world of man with horrors undreamed of.  The sinister archmage, Felix Faust, draws his unholy power from the pages of this unholy tomb.  

     

    3 - The Book of Eternity – This legendary book of spells was scribed by Merlin, the most famous magician in history.  Within its pages resides mystical passages, glyphs, and enchantments that can bend reality and make the person who can master these spells the most powerful magic-user in the universe.  In this book, Merlin discloses the secrets of existence and chronicles the history of magic, secrets that empower its reader with a higher state of consciousness.  In the world of magic, all wizards have their spellbooks.  This is the ultimate spellbook.  The Book of Eternity makes the spellbook of Fistandantilus look like a Dr. Seuss book.

     

    2 - The Cosmic Cube – The Cosmic Cube is an instrument of unimaginable power.  It’s a box that harnesses vast amounts of cosmic power that allows its wielder to reshape reality to his whims.  Arch villains like the Red Skull and Thanos have tried to use the vast power of the Cosmic Cube to enslave the Marvel Universe.  The mad scientists of A.I.M. developed the Cosmic Cube which resides on Earth, but there have been other Cosmic Cubes throughout the cosmos.  The alien Shaper of Worlds was once a Skrull Cosmic Cube but is now a space god on a never-ending quest to create the perfect world.  The nigh-omnipotent Beyonder is a Cosmic Cube that became sentient and forced the bravest heroes and most dangerous villains of Earth to fight in his Secret Wars. 

     

    1 - The Infinity Gems – The six Infinity Gems hold ultimate power over Time, Space, Power, Mind, Soul, and Reality.  Once upon a time these baubles of infinite power were in the possession of the Elders of the Universe, a cosmic congregation of the oldest immortals in the Marvel U.  But then the Mad Titan, Thanos, through force, guile, and manipulation usurped the gems from their former masters and created the Infinity Gauntlet.  Those that possess the Cosmic Cube are given the powers of a god.  Those that possess the Infinity Gauntlet become a god.  The Infinity Gauntlet is the most powerful Object of Power in the multiverse.  Even cosmic titans like Galactus, the Celestials, and Eternity must yield to its might.  

     

    Though there are definitely other artifacts of great mystical might, items like the Spear of Destiny, the Ultimate Nullifier, Mother Box, and the Casket of Ancient Winters, these are the Top 10 Objects of Power in Modern Day Pop Culture.

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

     

  • The Odinson Reviews Captain America: The Winter Soldier

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    Captain America: The Winter Soldier hit theatres this month and I’m here to tell you, boys and girls, it was well worth the wait.  Winter Soldier is, without a doubt, the second best Marvel movie to date.  Iron Man gets all the credit in the world for getting it right and kicking off the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the spectacle of seeing Earth’s Mightiest Heroes come to life in Avengers still holds the title, but Winter Soldier is the standard by which all future Marvel movies, nay, all comic book based super hero movies will be measured. 

     

    This was a good movie, full of drama, character driven story, and action, Action, ACTION!  The story revolves around a conspiracy that threatens to destroy SHIELD and democracy from within.  The freedoms of every man, women, and child in the world are on the line.  And when freedom is threatened, there is only one man for the job – Steve Rogers.  The film also further explores what it’s like for Rogers as he tries to acclimate himself to present day life.  This is beautifully illustrated when Rogers pulls out his to do list which includes him getting familiar with all sorts pop culture he missed in the last half of the 20th Century like Marvin Gaye, Nirvana, and Star Wars/Trek among other things.    

     

    Things get complicated as the story unfolds for Rogers is finding it increasingly hard to know who he can and cannot trust.  In true Marvel fashion, this film has all the elements in it that make it a wonderful adaptation of the source material.  It’s full of Marvel Easter eggs.  I won’t list them all at this time for I do not want to spoil the surprises for those that have not seen the film yet, but I will ask that pop culture fans look for the gem the film makers put in that ties the Winter Soldier to Quentin Tarantino’s classic film Pulp Fiction.

     

    Films like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Dark Knight show the true potential comic book super hero movies have.  And they show just how remarkable the experience can be when not bogged down by an “Origin Story.”  There’s a reason these stories have been around for seventy-five years – they work!  Some filmmakers, when they get their hands on these jewels, feel like they have to reinvent the wheel.  Every time a new 007 movie comes out, we don’t need to see his origin retold.  He’s James Bond, a secret agent with a license to kill or be killed, now go save the world.  Besides, no one is ever going to improve on the original origin stories told in Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie or Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man.  At best, the filmmakers can improve on CGI FX, at worst they’ll add flourishes or retcons that alienate and upset longtime fans.  Just tell the next adventure, please!  Hopefully The Winter Soldier will be a step in a new direction of adapting great comic book stories for film the way Hollywood has adapted novels.      

     

    The way the movie portrays my hero, Captain America, is exactly how I envision him when I am reading my favorite comics.  Chris Evans is amazing as Steve Rogers.  Sam Jackson (Nick Fury), Cobie Smulders (Maria Hill), and Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) all return to lend support to our hero and their performances are pitch perfect.  But the breakout star of the film has to be Anthony Mackie as the Falcon.  Seeing this long underrated character come to life on the Big Screen was worth the price of admission. 

     

    The journey of the title character was fantastic.  And though you don’t really have to have seen Captain America: The First Avenger or The Avengers in order to enjoy The Winter Soldier, it does add to the experience.   This film was like watching a James Bond movie, but with Captain America in the lead.  It is definitely worth your hard earned shekels and it comes with my highest recommendation.

     

    Odinson Rating: 5 out of 5 Hammers and a Thunder Clap

     

    Here’s a list of material that inspired film and expands on the characters and themes explored within: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD, Nick Fury vs. SHIELD, America Lost, Captain America and the Falcon, Captain America #273-274, Captain America #303, Captain America #363-364, and Black Widow: Deadly Origin.

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell

     

  • Character Spolight On: The Falcon

    Greetings from the Odinson,

    On Friday April 4th, the high-flying Falcon will make his triumphant Big Screen debut in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  Sam Wilson made his comic book debut in 1968 in the pages of Captain America #117.  The Odinson was first introduced to the Falcon with the Power Records: Book and Record Set that reprinted Captain America #168, a tale that featured the sinister Phoenix, a new villain that would eventually go on to become the modern day Baron Zemo and one of Captain America’s greatest adversaries.

    When Sam Wilson was a teenager, his parents were both killed in separate incidences of urban violence.  This led him down a dark path and he became Snap Wilson, a common street criminal.  Eventually he crossed paths with the Red Skull who used the power of the Cosmic Cube to enslave Wilson and turn him on his hated foe – Captain America.  Wilson broke free of the Skull’s influence and after helping Cap to defeat his foe, the two forged one of the greatest friendships in comics history. 

    DC Comics has Batman and Robin.  Marvel Comics has Captain America and the Falcon.  So prominent was their partnership that in 1971, Marvel changed the title of Cap’s solo series to reflect this partnership with Captain America and the Falcon #134.  For eight years this ran until the title switched back to solo credit with Captain America #223.  These two amazing heroes had many adventures, grand and small, cosmic and street level, and their undying friendship did not end with the changing of the comic’s name.  In Nights of Wundagore, the Falcon joins the ranks of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.  He has saved the world dozens of times over the years while serving with them. 

    Another series that caught the eye of a young Odinson was The Falcon: The Mini-Series in 1983 with engrossing writing by Jim Owsley (Green Lantern) and fantastic art by Paul Smith (Uncanny X-Men) and Mark Bright (Iron Man).  This mini series featured a fast-paced storyline where the Falcon raced against the clock to prevent a gang war from tearing the streets of New York City apart.  Falcon #2 features an amazing duel to the death between Falcon and a gigantic unstoppable mutant-hunting Sentinel.  Wilson’s old pal Captain America even makes an appearance and Falcon has an unforgettable showdown with the electric power of Electro!

    Along with amazingly designed characters like the Vision, Dr. Fate, and Phantom Stranger, I’ve always found the Falcon to be one of the most visually stunning characters in comics.  His stark red and white attire in all its incarnations is a fantastic looking super hero uniform.

    Thanks to a special harness and wings designed by the Black Panther, the Falcon can fly at great speeds and maneuver through the sky like a fish in water.  He has an affinity with birds and a special mental power that allows him to communicate with them and even see through their eyes.   The Falcon’s pet bird, Redwing, is actually a highly intelligent animal that assists Falcon and the Avengers in their adventures.  Redwing is even a member of the Pet Avengers.  Sam Wilson was trained in combat and strategy by Captain America himself, making the Falcon one the most capable hand-to-hand combatants in the world.  He is also extremely agile and acrobatic.  I’ve seen him dodge lightning thrown by Electro. 

    The Falcon is definitely one of the most unsung and underrated super heroes in comics history.  He’s one of those characters like Juggernaut and Shang Chi that if I see he’s in a comic, I pick up that issue.  I never thought I’d see the day where the grandiose Marvel Universe would come to life on the Big Screen.  And now not only do I get to see my favorite heroes like Captain America and Thor in the movies but I also get to see lesser known favorites like the Falcon in all his live action glory.    

    What’s next?  Doctor StrangeBlack Panther?  Dare I say it.  Dare I even possibly conceive that it may be a possibility?  Could the Odinson possibly see the epic tale of ROM Spaceknight one day adorn a movie screen?

    Fingers crossed.    

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • DC has Justice League Dark - Marvel has...?

    Greetings from the Odinson,

    Forever Evil is racing toward the finish line and the DCU is rocking from the repercussions of the event.  The story running through the main title, handled by Geoff Johns and David Lynch, has been glorious.  The tie-in tale, Arkham War, is setting up another epic showdown between the Dark Knight and his monstrous foe, Bane.  But when it comes to Forever Evil tie-ins, without a doubt, the cream of the crop is Forever Evil: Blight

    This tale sweeping through the supernatural titles of DC Comics is every bit as epic as the story happening in the flagship title.  When the wizards, witches, and monsters around the DCU suddenly begin to disappear for some unseen nefarious purpose, John Constantine and a small group of mystics assemble to find out why, but before they can solve the supernatural mystery and find out how it ties into the Crime Syndicate’s assault on their world, the Justice League Dark must try to deal with the demonic force that has been unleashed upon the world known simply as the Blight.  But how can they destroy such a powerful force for evil without killing the innocent boy the demon is using as its host?

    Who is DC’s Justice League Dark?

    John Constantine is a world class conman, a wily magician, and an anti-hero with enemies, and allies, in both Heaven and Hell, and he just may be mankind’s last line of defense against the things that go bump in the night.  The enigmatic Phantom Stranger is cursed to walk the earth for eternity to atone for the ultimate betrayal.  He is a powerful sorcerer with knowledge of the arcane that knows few rivals in the DCU.  Pandora is another immortal also cursed to walk the earth for it was she that unleashed Sin into the world of man.  She is a powerful supernatural warrior whose true power and purpose has yet to be revealed.  The Swamp Thing is the mighty avatar of the Green, an elemental force with the power of Mother Nature backing him up.  Deadman is the ghost of a murdered acrobat with the ability to possess the bodies of the living.  Boston Brand is a wisecracking spirit and an astute investigator.  The Nightmare Nurse is a scarred mystic with the uncanny ability to heal the supernatural wounds of others, but at great cost to her own health.  Zatanna is the Mistress of Chaos Magic and one of the most powerful magic-users in the DCU.  And, Zauriel is an angelic warrior with a fiery sword and the heavenly power to smite evil wherever it may rise.  

    Forever Evil: Blight is so entertaining that it could have been its own mega event all by itself.  But reading this glorious walk on the dark side of the DCU got the Odinson thinking – How would the Marvel Universe handle a “blight” like this? What if the Squadron Sinister (evil doppelgangers of the Squadron Supreme) invaded the Marvel U, declared the Avengers dead, and took control of the world?  As notorious Marvel Big Bads like Doctor Doom, Magneto, Norman Osborn, Doctor Octopus, and the Leader team up to fill the void left by Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and take down these usurpers, who will assemble to deal with the unseen supernatural threat?

    Who is Marvel’s Justice League Dark?

    Daimon Hellstrom, a.k.a. Hellstorm, is the infamous Son of Satan, a half-breed prince who focuses his demonic might on saving mankind instead of damming it.   Doctor Strange is the Sorcerer Supreme and Master of the Mystic Arts.  He is the most powerful archmage in the multiverse and the mortal realm’s greatest supernatural defender.  Next to Buffy Summers, Blade is the greatest living vampire slayer.  The Daywalker possesses all the supernatural strength of the undead but none of their weaknesses.  He is a relentless and cunning warrior armed with an arsenal of weapons designed to destroy monsters.  Johnny Blaze is the spectral Ghost Rider, cursed to scour the earth as the devil’s repo man and hunt down demons and dark souls that have escaped hell.  He uses his supernatural strength, hellfire, vicious mystical chain, and Penance Stare to send evildoers screaming back to the fiery pits.  The macabre Man-Thing is a monstrous, shambling mass of muck and moss and is the silent protector of the mystical Crossroads, a pathway to all realities.  Brother Voodoo is a master of the Haitian dark arts and a magic-user whose abilities made him the successor to the Sorcerer Supreme.  Lilith is the daughter of Dracula, Lord of the Vampires.  She possesses powers and abilities different from most of her undead brethren.  She is a supernatural beauty whose allegiances can sway from evil to good depending on her mood.  Jack Russell is the Werewolf by Night, a man who under the light of the full moon becomes a creature of pure instinct and supernatural rage.  Morbius the Living Vampire is a supernatural predator, a monster created by science.  Dr. Michael Morbius is a brilliant man cursed to walk the earth struggling with his undying thirst for blood and his want to do what is right.  And, the Scarlet Witch is the daughter of the most notorious mutant terrorist in history and a member of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.  She is a living conduit of Chaos Magic and her Hex powers allow her to alter physical events and even manipulate reality itself. 

    The DCU has the Justice League Dark to handle mystical threats like Blight, Felix Faust, Neron, Eclipso, and Trigon.  Luckily, the Marvel U has the Midnight Sons (and Daughters) to take on the supernatural threats of Dracula, Loki, Morgan Le Fay, Mephisto, and the Dread Dormammu

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • The Odinson Presents Must Read Stories You May Never Have Heard Of

    Greetings from the Odinson,

    The Odinson has read so many comic over the years, thousands and thousands, so many great stories and a lot of not so great stories.  When one reads as many comics as I do, there are some stories that may slip through the cracks.   I was a late comer to Preacher.  The series was on Preacher #60 and speeding toward the finish line before I picked up the first trade paperback, and now it is an absolute vital part of my bookshelf.  Once a year, for the last fourteen years, I’ll pull down Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s masterpiece and give it a read.  

    Brian K. Vaughan’s science fiction epic, Y the Last Man, took its bow in 2008, and the Odinson is just now in 2014 getting around to reading this highly touted tale. I’m on Ring of Truth and about halfway through the entire story.  Though it’s not blowing my hair back, I am finding the story entertaining, and I definitely can see how this tale would work as a movie or TV show.  Next on my list to read is Ex Machina, also by Brian K. Vaughan, and Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye.  These two series both come to me highly recommended and I look forward to reading them.

    Every week, in this column, the Odinson tries to talk up comics, graphic novels, television, movies, and all things pop culture in hopes of helping my fellow fans find their way to interesting entertainment, but as you can see even I am not immune to letting great stories slip past me, not necessarily without notice, but in a world where I read dozens upon dozens different titles every single week, some good ones will get by me from time to time.

    This week the Odinson is making a list of some MUST READ stories from my past that you may never have heard of.  Whether these tales came out before your time or maybe you were not reading these titles at the time of their release, for whatever reason you may not have read these hidden gems. 

    The Odinson Presents Must Read Stories You May Never Have Heard Of

    Amazing Spider-Man #212 (1981) - Though Amazing Spider-Man #157 is the very first comic book I can remember reading, this is the issue that made me a Spidey fan for life.  Not only does this issue introduce a dangerous new Spidey foe – Hydro Man – but it also features some amazing artwork by John Romita, Jr., a man that would go on to firmly establish himself on the Mount Rushmore of Spidey artists alongside Steve Ditko, Todd McFarlane, and his father, John Romita, Sr.  In this tale, Spider-Man shows true hero qualities as he battles against a superior foe but refuses to give in.  The story has a classic tragic ending that sees the demise of our villain by his own hand.  But don’t fret, we learn in Amazing Spider-Man #217 that the rumors of Hydro-Man’s demise were greatly exaggerated.  This is definitely a hidden gem in the illustrious history of Marvel’s Amazing Wall-Crawler, and it is definitely a tale that struck a cord with a young Odinson.  I read this issue so many times over the years that the cover fell off.             

    Saga of the Swamp Thing #3 (1982) - Swamp Thing and his young companion, Casey, are riding cross-country in a freight train are on a date with the Apocalypse when suddenly they are set upon by a pack of hungry vampires.  During the struggle, Swamp Thing topples out of the boxcar and he and his charge are separated.  Seeking information that might lead to her destination, Swamp Thing enters the nearby town only to find it dark and deserted.  As the story unfolds, Swamp Thing, and reader, learns that the town has been taken over by the undead and only a handful of survivors remain.  What follows is a desperate fight for survival and the revelation of the extreme lengths one man will go to in order to prevent a vampire plague from spreading.  This tale has a very eerie Salem’s Lot feel to it.  In twenty-two short pages, Martin Pasko and Tom Yeates squeeze in all the action, pathos, and tantalizing horror that one could expect to get from a full-length feature film.    

    Master of Kung Fu #114 (1982) – Shang Chi finds himself and his Fists of Fury caught up in a strange situation as Fu Manchu has sent his deadliest assassin to murder a blind man’s wife.  This ghostly killer moves in and out of the shadows like a spectre and his fighting skills rival that of even the Master of Kung Fu.  As time begins to run out, and his deadly adversary is getting closer and closer to accomplishing his goal, Shang Chi must somehow find a way to stop an unstoppable foe.  This is a ghostly tale of drama, romance, action, surprises, and, of course, super sweet kung fu. 

    New Teen Titans #23-25 and Annual #1 (1982) – Now this is a tale that blew my hair back!  I am on record as saying that the first fifty issues of this series are, hands down, some the greatest comics in Comics History.  In the first two years of the series, Marv Wolfman and George Perez had already established themselves as capable storytellers and planted the seeds that would make them industry legends, but it’s with this outer space epic that they truly hit their stride.  This tale is grand in scope and plays out like a big budget Hollywood movie.  There are space ships, intergalactic civil war, aliens, strange new worlds, resurrected gods, and in the middle of it all – teen super heroes!  Plus, the pathos and drama of this piece are just as poignant now as they were in 1982.  Here is a team of teenage super heroes, swept up in large scale events, bigger than anything they could have imagined, and they rise to the occasion and meet the challenge set out before them.  This is Wolfman and Perez at their best, this is action/adventure/ sci-fi at its best, plain and simple, this is comic books at their best!

    Avengers #236-237 (1983) – Spider-Man wants to be an Avenger!  Long before New Avengers: Breakout and the Amazing Spider-Man became an Avengers staple, this is the tale that teased what it could be like if the friendly neighborhood super hero joined the ranks of Earth’s Mightiest.  Back in Avengers #221, Marvel’s premiere super team was doing one of their recruitment drives, and the Mighty Thor approached Spidey and offered him an invitation to the Big Leagues.  Inexplicably, Spider-Man declined.  One year later, Spidey comes knocking on the Avengers' door ready to take them up on their offer and gets swept away on a harrowing adventure.  When an intrepid group of villains comprised of classic Spidey and Avengers villains (including Electro and Rhino) threaten to turn Project Pegasus into a Chernobyl-sized disaster, it falls on our heroes’ mighty shoulders to stop them.  One of the things I truly dig about this tale is that it illustrates one of Spider-Man’s most underused and powerful assets - his mind.  The day is not saved by Captain America’s mighty shield or the She-Hulk’s Gamma-powered punch, no it’s saved by Peter Parker’s super brain.  Unfortunately, due to his outlaw reputation, the US Government will not allow Spider-Man to join the ranks Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, so it would be another twenty years before Spidey would become an Avenger.    

    Star Brand (1986) – What if one day you woke up and you were in possession of the greatest power in the universe?  That is the premise of this all too underrated series, the flagship title of the all too underrated New Universe line.  The series features amazing writing by Jim Shooter and John Byrne and some of the best artwork from the legendary career of John Romita, Jr.  What happens when an average man is given the power of a god?  In a world that is on the fast track to Armageddon, Star Brand chronicles the rise and fall of the New Universe’s most powerful paranormal.  It’s a tale that explores the heights of super heroism and the darkest PITT (pun clearly intended) to which ultimate power can lead. 

    Justice League International vs. Suicide Squad (1988) – This is a unique tale told from two very distinct points of view.  When the World’s Greatest Super Heroes and the Government’s Task Force X are set on an unavoidable collision course, the sparks will most definitely fly.  But it’s not the superhuman fisticuffs that are the star of this tale, no it’s the drama played out between the characters of these two very different super teams.  And this tale features yet another poignant moment.  We all know that Batman is the most driven man alive, but what happens when he allows his emotions to get the better of him?  This tale features a rare moment when the Batman could quite possibly be wrong.  The reader is left to decide.   

    In a sea of Big Events like Secret Wars, Crisis on Infinite Earths, and Fall of the Mutants, and well known industry staples like Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns, these are the hidden gems that shaped a young Odinson in the 1980s into the comics fan he is today.  These are the hidden gems that make comics worth reading.  These are the MUST READ stories you may never have heard of.  

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • VALIANT New Beginnings

    Greetings from the Odinson,

    A few years ago a comic company re-launched its universe and polished off old viable concepts and updated them for the New Millennium, with colorful, complicated characters living in a shared universe.  They’ve hired All-Star creative teams to helm these titles and blaze a new path into the future for comics storytelling.  Now the Odinson is not talking about DC Comics The New 52 or Marvel Now.  No, I’m referring to the triumphant return of the Valiant Universe.

    Back in the early to mid-90s, Valiant was a major player in the market, with sales that challenged even the Big Two.  Then the floor fell out in the late 90s, and Valiant was one of the many casualties of the Glut Period.  And that’s a shame because the Valiant Universe has wonderful characters that are just as interesting, complex, and rich as any other comic universe.

    Archer and Armstrong – One is an immortal that has walked the earth for thousands of years, an undying man who has seen it all and now seeks nothing more than the good things life has to offer.  The other was raised from birth by a secret society to be the ultimate human weapon.  They are the Dynamic Duo of the Valiant Universe, best friends that are like brothers on a never-ending quest to make the world a better place.  Marvel Equivalent: Captain America and FalconDC Equivalent: Batman and RobinOther Equivalent: Rick Grimes/Daryl Dixon (Image/AMC).

    Bloodshot – Angelo Mortalli is a soldier whose bloodstream was injected with nanobots which allow him to heal from almost any injury and directly interface with computers, but his mind has been wiped clean, and he has no memories of his previous life.  He is on a quest to find out who has done this to him and make them pay.  Marvel Equivalent: WolverineDC Equivalent: DeathstrokeOther Equivalent: The A-Team (IDW).

    Ninjak – Colin King is a living weapon, a master ninja and super spy that works for a clandestine organization that seeks to eliminate threats around the world before they come to fruition.  He is a master of many forms of martial arts, a world class athlete whose body has been trained to the peak of human performance.  Anything is a weapon in his hands but he is especially proficient with a sword and Sai.  He wears body armor that can deflect small arms fire.  Plus, Ninjak is one of the world’s greatest strategists.  Marvel Equivalent: DaredevilDC Equivalent: BatmanOther Equivalent:  James Bond (007).

    The Eternal Warrior – Gilad is the brother of Armstrong, and like his brother, he is immortal.  He has walked the earth for thousands of years, accumulating vast amounts of knowledge in the art of combat.  That, along with his natural super human strength, agility, and speed, makes the Eternal Warrior one of the deadliest men to ever walk the planet.  He has the ability to regenerate and survive mortal wounds that would slay a normal man.  He is a mighty warrior that operates from the shadows, he ties with many of the other heroes and villains in the Valiant U, and he has been a player in human history for centuries.  Marvel Equivalent: DraculaDC Equivalent: Vandal SavageOther Equivalent: Mighty Samson (Gold Key/Dark Horse).

    The Harbingers – They are human beings with dormant psionic powers and abilities that manifest themselves in moments of stress and danger.  Their abilities range from telepathy to telekinesis to pyrokinesis to many other powers of the mind.  Like the paranormals of DP-7 in the New Universe they are gathered together for protection and study.  But in the Valiant U, like the New Universe, there is an underlying conspiracy that the Harbingers discover and revolt against.  Peter Stancheck is what’s known as an Omega Harbinger.  He possesses the full spectrum of mind powers and has the ability to awaken Harbinger abilities in others.  He is the only man that can challenge the power of the only other recorded Omega Harbinger on the planet – Toyo Harada.   Marvel Equivalent: X-MenDC Equivalent: HeroesOther Equivalent:  Rising Stars (Top Cow).

    Toyo Harada – He is an Omega Harbinger and the most powerful man on the planet, in more ways than one.  Not only does Harada possess all the powers of the mind (telepathy, telekinesis, mind control, empathy, etc.), but he is also a savvy businessman, rich and politically influential, with vast resources at his disposal and a brilliant diabolical mind that always seems to be two steps of everyone else.  He is a prideful man and distains any challenge to his power.  Marvel Equivalent: Norman OsbornDC Equivalent: Lex LuthorOther Equivalent: Negan (Image).

    Rai – Rai is the chosen protector of Japan, a power that is passed down from father to son for generations.  There have been many, many Rai, some more prominent than others.  Rai empowers its host with enhanced speed and strength and the ability to create weapons to protect the host and those around him.  When one Rai falls, another will rise to take his place.  The legacy of the Rai stretches from the distant past and into the far flung future.  Marvel Equivalent: Immortal Iron FistDC Equivalent: Green LanternOther Equivalent: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Dark Horse).

    Shadowman – Shadowman is the mystic protector of mankind.  He defends us against the nightmares, the monsters and devils, and all the things that go bump in the night. Like most chosen mystic protectors, Shadowman is a legacy hero.  When one hero falls in battle against the macabre, another will rise to take his place.  Shadowman possesses super human strength, is able to glide on the night winds, and has voodoo powers.  He is fearless and can withdraw fear from others.  Marvel Equivalent: Brother VoodooDC Equivalent: Dr. FateOther Equivalent: Spawn (Image)

    X-O Manowar – Aric was a warrior king in 400 A.D. whose strong sword-arm and keen strategic mind kept his people free from those that would seek to enslave them.  But his world was turned upside down the day alien beings from beyond the stars kidnapped him and his people and whisked them to the far side of the universe where they became slaves.  But everything changed on the day he melded with the most powerful weapon in the universe.  Aric, empowered by the X-O armor, defeated his alien oppressors and freed his people, but when they return to Earth they discover they are not in their own time. Now in present day 2014, Aric struggles to find a place for him and his people in a world they do not know.  Aric is a cunning warrior in a suit of armor that grants him super human strength, endurance, flight, nigh invulnerability, powerful force blasts, and nearly any other super power one can conceive of.  But perhaps his greatest weapon is a cosmic blade he can unsheathe from his gauntlet that can devastate nearly anything Aric strikes.  Marvel Equivalent: Iron Man/Captain AmericaDC Equivalent: Cyborg/StarfireOther Equivalent: Conan/Big Guy (Dark Horse).

    Even if your loyalties lie with the Big Two, or Other/Independents are the only comics you’ll read, the Valiant Universe has the big epic tales (Unity, The Harbinger War) and larger-than-life characters in a shared universe like the Big Two, while still feeling intimate with enough melodrama and character development to have that Independent feel.

    If you haven’t checked these books out yet or you are a lapsed fan and are looking for a reentry point to start reading again, then start right here and witness the birth of the next big deal – The Valiant Universe.

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • Great Rivalries in Comics History: Hulk vs. Thing

    Greetings from the Odinson,

    History is full of epic rivalries – Hector vs. Achilles, Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier, the Dallas Cowboys vs. the Washington Redskins.  All across the board of pop culture there are some of the greatest rivalries – Coke vs. Pepsi, McDonalds vs. Burger King, Star Wars vs. Star Trek.  And comic books have an illustrious history of great rivalries.  Who’s faster – Superman or the Flash?  Who is cooler – Batman or Wolverine?  Who is a better shot – Green Arrow or HawkeyeMarvel vs. DC

    But there is one question that has been debated by fanboys and girls for over fifty years now – Who is stronger – the Green Goliath or Aunt Petunia’s favorite nephew?  

    Great Rivalries in Comics History: Hulk vs. Thing

    Dr. Bruce Banner is one of the most brilliant scientific minds in the world who survived a ground zero detonation of a Gamma bomb.  Now, whenever he becomes angry or in times of great stress this meek, mild-manner man transforms into the monstrous juggernaut known as the Incredible Hulk!  Benjamin J. Grimm was a soldier, a pilot, and an astronaut, but on the fateful day he blasted off into outer space he and his crew were bombarded with mysterious cosmic rays.  Grimm was transformed into the rocky-skinned, man-monster the world has come to know as the Thing!   

    The Marvel Age of Comics kicked off in November of 1961 with Fantastic Four #1.  A few short months later Incredible Hulk #1 hit the stands and from the very beginning these two mountains of muscle where set on an inevitable collision course.  The seeds were planted in Fantastic Four #5 when the Human Torch makes a teasing comparison between his rocky pal, the Thing, and the Gamma-powered monster known as the Hulk.  Both the Thing and the Hulk’s strength quickly become legendary and it isn’t long before the water cooler debates begin. 

    And it isn’t long before the House of Ideas obliges.  

    Fantastic Four #12 (Mar. 1963) – This is the very first time our monstrous rivals cross paths.  When the Hulk is suspected of attacking a military base, Marvel’s First Family is called in to investigate and one of comic books greatest rivalries is born!

    Fantastic Four #25 (Apr. 1964) – When the Incredible Hulk comes to New York City in search of his erstwhile sidekick, Rick Jones, he finds the Fantastic Four and the mighty Thing waiting for him.

    Incredible Hulk #122 (Dec. 1969) – Bruce Banner returns to New York City in hopes that the brilliant Reed Richards has found a cure for his curse.  But when he transforms into the rampaging Hulk, it falls upon the Thing’s mighty shoulders to keep the Jade Giant busy long enough for Mister Fantastic to devise a way to bring the Hulk down.

    Fantastic Four #112 (July 1971)
    – Though this is not the first nor the last time our two Mighty Marvel Monsters collide, “Battle of the Behemoths” is most definitely one of the all time classics and a perfect example of why this is a rivalry for the ages.

    Marvel Feature #11 (Sep. 1973) – The Thing makes his very first solo starring appearance in a title in grand fashion with a retelling of his origin and an epic throw down with his erstwhile sparring partner – the Incredible Hulk!

    Fantastic Four #166-167 (Jan.-Feb. 1976) – Tired of meeting with defeat after defeat, the U.S. Government enlist Marvel’s First Family to come out to the Mid-West and help them once and for all take down the monster known as the Hulk.  A task easier said than done.

    Marvel Two-in-One #46 (Dec. 1978) – The Hulk/Thing rivalry goes Hollywood when their battle spills over onto a movie set.

    Marvel Two-in-One Annual #5 (1980) – The Hulk and the Thing have to stop beating up on each other when they get caught in the middle of a rivalry between the enigmatic cosmic titan known as the Stranger and Pluto, Lord of the Underworld!

    Marvel Fanfare #21 (Jul. 1985) – The Hulk and Thing’s rivalry takes a macabre turn when Doctor Strange the Master of the Mystic Arts whisks them away into a caper wrapped in magic and horror.

    Hulk and Thing: the Big Change (1987) – Easily one of the most entertaining installments on this list, Big Change features a Mighty Marvel Team-Up with the two strongest heroes at the House of Ideas and a last-page gag that leaves the reader grinning ear-to-ear.

    Fantastic Four #320 (Nov. 1988) and Incredible Hulk #350 (Dec. 1988) – The diabolical Victor Von Doom masterminds a rematch between his two hated enemies in the hopes that they will destroy one another once and for all.  This throw down between these long feuding rivals is different as this time Ben Grimm has recently mutated into a more powerful form (see Fantastic Four #310) and the Hulk has recently devolved back into his original less powerful yet more cunning grey form (see Incredible Hulk #324).  This makes for one of the most unique and entertaining punch outs on this list. 

    Fantastic Four #374 (Mar. 1993) – Once before, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Ghost Rider, and the Hulk united to save the Fantastic Four.  Now they have reunited to take the FF down.  But the Thing and Hulk’s rivalry takes a back seat when Wolverine attacks and leaves a scar on Grimm and opens up wounds that won’t be resolved until Fantastic Four #395.

    Down to Earth (1994) – Easily one of the most humorous installments on this list, this tale features the Sentinel of the Spaceways, the Silver Surfer, returning to Earth to team-up with the Fantastic Four to solve a mystery.  But when they run into Ben Grimm’s erstwhile sparring partner along the way and the Hulk delivers pure gold when he tells the Thing, “Don’t make me beat you up in front of your friends, Grimm.”

    Hulk and Thing: Hard Knocks (2004)
    – Think you know everything there is to know about the Thing/Hulk rivalry?  Think you have it all figured out?  This is the tale that turns everything you think you know about this classic rivalry on its ear.

    Fantastic Four #533 (Jan. 2006) – When Bruce Banner is called to the desert to deal with a Doomsday weapon the inevitable Hulkout occurs and the Human Torch and Thing are called in to deal with the Gamma-fueled situation.

    Bonus Round (Interesting Twists on a Classic Rivalry):

    Thing #5 (Nov. 1983) – When the Puppet Master enslaves She-Hulk, it falls upon the mighty Thing to show Bruce Banner’s cousin that she’s not quite ready for the Big Leagues.

    Fantastic Four #265 (Apr. 1984) – Speaking of the She-Hulk, when Ben Grimm goes on a sojourn (see Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars and Rocky Grimm, Space Ranger), Jennifer Walters takes the Thing’s places as a member of the Fantastic Four.

    Fantastic Four #321 (Dec. 1988) – The boys take a break as Bruce Banner’s cousin, the Savage She-Hulk, takes on Ben Grimm’s ex-girlfriend, the Ms. Marvel turned Thing, in a Mighty Marvel display of Girl Power!

    Incredible Hulk #365 (Jan. 1990) – When the Hulk seeks the help of Reed Richards with his radiation poisoning, the Grey Behemoth runs into the rocky fists of  the Ms. Marvel turned Thing!

    Monsters Unleashed – When the Fantastic Four goes missing and are presumed dead, in a bizarre twist, a team of replacements that includes Spider-Man, Ghost Rider, Wolverine, and the Hulk in Thing’s strongman role assembles and sets out to solve the mystery.

    These are the tales that have shaped Hulk vs. Thing into one of the all time greatest comic book rivalries over the years.  Be on the look out for future installments of Greatest Rivalries in Comic History including Hulk vs. Wolverine, Superman vs. the Flash, Hulk vs. Thor, Punisher vs. Daredevil, Superman vs. Captain Marvel, and more!

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • Mind over Muscle

    Greetings from the Odinson,

    Mind over Muscle

    It’s the principles used in Judo.  Use a physically superior opponent’s strength against him.  Even in a galaxy far, far away the very nature of the Jedi Mind Trick illustrates this philosophy as Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi convinces a squad of heavily armed Stormtroopers that these aren't the droids you’re looking for.  Career troublemakers like Bugs Bunny and Woody Woodpecker have made a living out of outwitting the other guy and always staying one step ahead of their adversaries.  Wily outlaws like Robin Hood, The Dukes of Hazzard and the Bandit became legends outsmarting and outmaneuvering the Long Arm of the Law.  And for the last fifty years Spider-Man has defeated far stronger opponents like Scorpion, Rhino, Venom, Juggernaut, and the Lizard by out-smarting them.  

    But does superior intellect always win out over superior strength?

    I say thee, nay!          

    Lion-O vs. Mumm-Ra – Lion-O is the mighty leader of the feline superheroes known as the ThunderCats and wielder of the invincible Sword of Omens.  He’s superhumanly strong, fast, and agile, but Lion-O is not what you’d call a great thinker.  His impulsiveness and lack of planning ahead constantly puts him and his brood in tight spots.  His arch foe however, Mumm-Ra the Ever-Living, is a centuries-old ogre-mage with all the mystical might and sorcery of the Ancient Spirits of Evil.  But even with all that vast arcane knowledge at his disposal, Mumm-Ra and his army of mutants and monsters are continually overpowered and beaten back by the stalwart protectors of Third Earth – The ThunderCats.

    Hulk vs. The Leader – Born in the heart of a Gamma Bomb, the Incredible Hulk is the mightiest mortal creature to ever walk the earth.  Bruce Banner is one of the most brilliant scientific minds in the Marvel Universe but in moments of great stress, agitation, or danger, a transformation is triggered and this slight five-foot-ten man of science morphs into the eight-foot tall Green Goliath the world calls the Hulk.  This Atomic Age juggernaut is of limited intellect but he is, without a doubt, THE strongest one there is!  His most notorious adversary, however, is the brilliant villain known simply as The Leader.  When Samuel Stern, a simple-minded man who worked at a chemical factory, was exposed to radioactive gamma material, his brain capacity was enhanced a thousand fold and his intelligence increased exponentially.  Despite the Leader's most grandiose and well laid out plans, somehow the Hulk’s incredible might always seems to win out.  Arch villain Baron Zemo once commented that he can’t take the Leader seriously, a potential rival who is continuously defeated by the dimwitted Hulk.       

    He-Man vs. Skeletor – When mild-manner Prince Adam holds aloft his magic sword and says - BY THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL – he is transformed into He-Man, the most powerful man in the universe.  The Protector of the Secrets of Castle Grayskull’s feats of strength are legendary throughout the cosmos.  He can crush diamonds in his bare hands, wrangle fierce dinosaurs, and turn the tides of mighty rivers.  I have even seen him lift the great citadel Castle Grayskull up off the ground and hurl it through a mystical vortex.  His arch foe, Skeletor, is a powerful warlock whose diabolical mind and arcane might has enslaved a small army of witches, mutants, and monsters to do his bidding.  However, no matter how devious his plots or how diabolical his master plans may be, Skeletor’s quest to obtain the ancient secrets that reside within the dungeons of Castle Grayskull are continuously thwarted by the might of He-Man and the brave Masters of the Universe. 

    Thor vs. Loki – The Asgardian warrior, Thor, is the Viking god of thunder, and, next to the All-Father Odin, the mightiest of the nigh immortal Aesir.  His legendary physical strength is only rivaled by guys like Hercules and Samson, and his unparalleled courage has faced down cosmic titans like Galactus, Surtur, and the Celestials.  His primary weapon is Mjolnir, an invincible battle-hammer that channels his power over the unstoppable storm.  But, even Captain America, Thor’s trusted mortal ally, has stated that the Odinson is not the greatest strategist, relying mostly on brute strength and power to win the day.  Thor’s adoptive brother, Loki Laufeyson, however, is a cunning foe that relies almost exclusively on tricks, guile, and sorcery to achieve his goals.  Loki is the Lord of Lies, the legendary Trickster, and the God of Evil, but despite his superior intellect and forward thinking, Loki is always thwarted by his hated oaf of a brother’s superior strength.      

    Superman vs. Lex Luthor – The Man of Steel is faster than a speeding bullet, stronger than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.  The Last Son of Krypton possesses powers and abilities far beyond those of ordinary men and he is the greatest super hero of all time.  Lex Luthor is the greatest criminal mind of our era.  Through his super human genius, Luthor has achieved a level of super science undreamed of.  He even once schemed his way into the White House and became President of the United States.  Mentally and monetarily, he is the pinnacle of human achievement, yet he has never been able to devise a scheme diabolical enough to destroy his hated alien adversary.  NOTE: It should be noted that one of Superman’s most overlooked attributes his that he is also SUPER intelligent.  This is a fact many writers forget to illustrate but the great Grant Morrison got it right in All-Star Superman.  

    In all these examples, one opponent is a supposedly less intelligent foe who relies mostly on his superior strength to win the day.  So Mind does NOT always win out over Muscle. 

    Now time to play Devil’s Advocate.

    Batman vs. Superman – Bruce Wayne is just a man in a bat-suit, but this mere mortal has proven on several occasions that he deserves a seat at the meeting hall of the strongest and most powerful beings in the world.  In the pages of The Dark Knight Returns and Tower of Babel, Batman has demonstrated that he has the know-how and strategic ability to humble the gods themselves.   

    Spider-Man vs. Doctor Octopus – The Odinson has always maintained that Dr. Otto Octavius is Spider-Man’s deadliest foe.  Why?  He is the one villain in Spidey’s Rogues Gallery that is smarter than Peter Parker.  And in Dying Wish, he proved it.  This arch fiend finally defeated his long hated foe, not by rending him limb-from-limb with his mechanical arms, but by outsmarting him.  And the Superior Spider-Man was born! 

    And the great debate of Mind over Muscle continues.

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • The Movie Rumor Mill has the Odinson Saying Bring on the Bad Guys!

    Greetings from the Odinson,

    I Just watched the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy again and I all I can say is I CAN”T WAIT!  Visually, it looks amazing.  It was quite a thrill to see Marvel sci-fi characters like the Nova Corps and RonanRocket, Drax, and the rest of the Guardians look dead on and Chris Pratt is going to kill it as Peter Quill the infamous Star-Lord.  Marvel has cracked the code when it comes to adapting their characters for the Big Screen. 

    If the pulse-pounding trailer for Amazing Spider-Man 2 is any indication, the rumors that this sequel sets up spin-offs starring The Sinister Six and Venom gain quite a bit of merit.  Who knows what incarnation the movie will feature, but in the comics the Sinister Six is comprised of Spider-Man’s greatest adversaries – Doctor Octopus, the man that killed Spider-Man and took his place as the Superior Spider-Man, Sandman, an oft times reluctant member and a complex villain that is haunted by his blue collar conscience, Electro, one the most powerful and underrated Marvel super villains, Mysterio, Master of Illusions, the high flying Vulture, and Kraven the Hunter, the only other man who can say “I killed Spider-Man!” 

    If - who am I kidding - WHEN they do a solo Venom movie, the Odinson would love to see an adaptation of the current incarnation of the character.  The Flash Thompson version of the character is infinitely more interesting and lends itself to a movie plot more than the Eddie Brock version.  I am aware of the character’s meteoric rise to fame in the 1990s, but the Odinson has never been a huge fan of Spidey’s symbiote villains.  However, a classic hero’s journey of the teenager that once upon a time used to bully a young Peter Parker who then grows up to become a soldier that is crippled in the Middle East and is given a second chance because of a mysterious super soldier experiment involving an alien symbiote appeals to me.  That story has way more pathos potential than a photo journalist who is mad because Peter Parker takes better pictures of Spider-Man than he does.   

    DC and Warner Bros. are continually playing catch up.  As we wait around impatiently for more news on the upcoming Batman vs. Superman film, rumors are starting to circulate that may make DC a player as they are also toying with the notion of the super villain movie.  I have heard that DC and Warner are thinking about bringing The Suicide Squad and Deathstroke the Terminator to the Big Screen.  Yes, you read that right – THE SUICIDE SQUAD and DEATHSTROKE THE TERMINATOR!

    The Suicide Squad is a team of incarcerated super villains that are forced by the US Government to take on black ops missions where they have very little chance of coming back alive.  Though the roster has rotated many times over the years, there are a few core members that must be a part of any Big Screen adaptation.  Deadshot is one the Odinson’s all time favorite bad guys and no roster of the Squad would be complete without the DCU’s deadliest assassin.  Captain Boomerang is an untrustworthy conscienceless killer that will stab anyone in the back in order to win his freedom.  Bronze Tiger is one the deadliest unarmed combatants in the world and the governments appointed team enforcer.  Amanda Waller is their government liaisons who keeps this ticking time bomb of a team in line with her iron will.  Other Squad members and DCU villains I’d love to see in a Suicide Squad movie are Harley Quinn, the Joker’s psychotic girlfriend, King Shark, visually one of the most terrifying looking super villains, Bane, the man that broke the Bat, Rick Flag, a Sgt. Fury-like soldier, and Nightshade, a super heroine working under cover in the belly of the beast and the erstwhile squeeze of Captain Atom.           

    Slade Wilson, the man known as the Terminator, is one of the most cunning, deadly, and complex villains in the history of DC Comics.  He’s orchestrated the defeat of the New Teen Titans, beaten the Batman unconscious, and fought the Justice League to a stand still.  Already a highly trained soldier and successful mercenary, Slade was enhanced by an experiment and given super human reflexes, strength, and endurance and his mind was amped to make him one of the best tacticians in the world  He is not an evil man, purely professional, but this does not make his marks any less dead.  He possesses an askew sense of honor that allows him toe the line between villain and anti-hero.  Another aspect of Deathstroke that makes him a complicated figure is a tumultuous past with his family that haunts him to this very day.

    The Odinson does not normally celebrate the super villain but I would be the first in line to buy a ticket for a movie about either of these DC mainstays.  The Suicide Squad could a Dirty Dozen-style foray and the Deathstroke installment could be a tale about an old soldier/mercenary pulled back into the game by an enemy from the past who has put Slade’s family in jeopardy, much like Commando which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger.     

    Here are a few other Super Villain movies the Odinson would love to see:

    Doctor Doom – There is no more complicated character in comic books than Victor Von Doom.  He is a man of great passion which is only overshadowed by the dark desires which poison his soul.  He is arguably the smartest man alive.  His genius puts him in the league of other great minds like Mister Fantastic and Ant-Man.  He has created battle armor that in some ways even surpasses Iron Man.  He is an accomplished wizard whose mastery of the dark arts rivals even the Sorcerer Supreme himself, Doctor Strange.  Doom rules his own country and has nigh unlimited resources at his disposal.  He has single-handedly defeated the nigh omnipotent Beyonder (see Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #10).  And he has stormed the Gates of Hell to face down the devil himself (see Triumph and Torment).  This scarred despot is feared throughout the Marvel Universe by both hero and villain alike.  A movie exploring the life of the greatest foe of the Fantastic Four would be awesome.  

    Mephisto – Mephisto is the Marvel Universe’s version of the Devil and he’s one of the Odinson’s biggest guilty pleasures (no pun intended).  His forked-tongued monologues and devilish sense of humor make him, hands down, one of the most entertaining evildoers in comics.  And the tale that must be adapted to the Silver Screen is Mephisto Vs.  In this startling hybrid of action and horror, the Ruler of the Underworld sets out on a quest for the ultimate prize.  His mission leads him into conflict with Marvel’s First Family, the Fantastic Four, Charles Xavier’s First Class, X-Factor, the Uncanny X-Men, and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the Avengers.  Mephisto has tried to corrupt the noble soul of the Silver Surfer, withstood the unparalleled might of Thor, and challenged the incomprehensible power of Galactus.  Mephisto’s tale would be a dark comedy and a Pie in the Sky project for to get all these characters in the same move would be next to impossible due to legal rights.

    The Tomb of Dracula – Bram Stoker’s gothic horror is a timeless classic that has entertained generations of readers and movie goers for over a hundred years.  There have been many, many different incarnations and adaptations of this classic monster, but by far the Odinson’s favorite take is Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan’s epic masterpiece The Tomb of Dracula.  It is such a Herculean task to make me root for the villain, and make no mistake Dracula is the original super villain.  Wolfman and Colan do such a tremendous job on this series that Dracula is all at once menacing and terrifying while also being sympathetic and, on occasions, heroic.  With an amazingly fleshed out supporting cast that includes Frank Drake, Dracula’s own descendant, Rachel Van Helsing, the grand daughter of the man who once defeated the Prince of Darkness, Dr. Quincy Harker, the son of the original survivors from Stoker’s novel, the hulking mute, Taj, and the vampire detective, Hannibal King.  Tomb of Dracula also saw the birth of one the Marvel Universe’s greatest anti-heroes, one of Dracula’s most tenacious adversaries, and one of Marvel’s biggest movie stars – Blade the Daywalker.  If done right as a movie trilogy or a dark television series in the same vein as The Walking Dead or Preacher, in Marvel’s capable hands, an adaptation of Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan’s Tomb of Dracula could be amazing.  

    Rumors of super villain movies are hitting the internet and it has the Odinson making a wish list and saying…nay shouting – BRING ON THE BAD GUYS!   

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • Civil War/Avengers vs. X-Men: Which Tale was the More Important Marvel Comics Event?

    Greetings from the Odinson,

    In the last decade there have been few storylines in comics that have been as polarizing as Civil War and Avengers vs. X-Men.  So it should come as no surprise that these two stories have so much in common.  They both divide a universe and pit the world’s mightiest champions against each other, both sides having legitimate stances that equally divide the readership on the issues at hand.  Both involve all the major players of the Marvel Universe and both tales have major consequences which change the very landscape of the Marvel U.

    So what was the more important Event Tale: Civil War or Avengers vs. X-Men?

    Let’s explore:

    Plot – The events of Civil War are kicked off when the neophyte team of celebrity-seeking heroes, The New Warriors, confronts the unstable, but no less dangerous, villain, Nitro, and it results in the deaths of hundreds of innocent children.  This tragedy causes the government to institute the Super Hero Registration Act, a bill that forces super powered heroes to reveal their secret identities and work under the jurisdiction of the US Government, but some people feel like this infringes on their civil rights.  This splits the super hero community, and the readership, right down the middle, with Iron Man leading the pro-Registration side and Captain America leading those opposed to registration.  Best friends and family members alike are turned against one another as the Marvel Universe erupts into civil war.

    The events of AvX revolve around the return of the Phoenix Force.  The X-Men see this event as the second coming of their savior.  But the last time the Phoenix Force came to Earth the events of the harrowing Dark Phoenix Saga were set into motion and resulted in the death of an entire star system.  The Avengers will be damned if they stand by and let that happen again.  A line is drawn in the sand.  On one side are the Children of the Atom and on the other Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and the fate of all mankind hangs in the balance.   

    Creative Team – Civil War is helmed by highly touted writer Mark Millar (Wolverine: Old Man Logan, Kick Ass) and superstar artist Steve McNiven (Meridian, New Avengers).  Millar is known for his biting commentary and hold-no-punches take on the super hero genre, and McNiven has a crisp style and an amazing ability to convey emotion and tell a visual story.  For AvX, Marvel assembles an All-Star team of talent consisting of Brian Michael Bendis (All New X-Men), Ed Brubaker (Captain America), Jonathan Hickman (Fantastic Four), Matt Fraction (Hawkeye), Jason Aaron (Wolverine and the X-Men), Adam Kubert (Wolverine), Olivier Coipol (Thor), and John Romita, Jr. (Uncanny X-Men).    

    OMG Factor – Civil War is full of exciting, pulse-racing action like Captain America's daring escape from the SHIELD Helicarrier (see Civil War #1) and gives Hank Pym a lesson in the difference between wartime fighting and the type of fighting “super heroes” do (see New Avengers #21).  But the OMG Factors start coming fast and furious when Thor, who is supposed to be deceased, suddenly shows up on the battlefield and murders Giant Man (see Civil War #4).  And few OMG moments in comics history can top Peter Parker revealing to the world that he is Spider-Man (see Civil War #2).

    The battle between the X-Men and Avengers takes a severe turn for the worse when Cyclops and four of his teammates are empowered with the Phoenix Force.  It isn’t surprising that this ultimate power starts to corrupt, and these normally noble heroes start to act uncharacteristically un-heroic.  They commit very un-heroic acts like Cyclops imposing his will over others and forcing the world into a utopia of his own personal design, Magik feeding souls to her fellow super heroes to her demonic minions of Limbo, and Namor utterly destroying the Kingdom of Wakanda.   

    *SPOILERS* But, without a doubt, the two biggest OMG moments of these two events have to be the assassination of Captain America (see Death of Captain America) and the murder of Professor Charles Xavier (see AvX #11).     

    Consequences – The Civil War fractured the super hero community.  The New Avengers became a cast of outlaws, sneaking around in the shadows and hiding from the law.  The world’s greatest leader of heroes, Captain America, was gone.  And because his secret identity was now public knowledge, Spider-Man’s loved ones became targets for his enemies (see Back in Black) and led him toward the questionable decision that led to the end of his marriage with Mary Jane (see One More Day).  This all left the world vulnerable to the Skrull Secret Invasion which put lunatic Norman Osborn in power and ushered in the Dark Reign

    In the wake of AvX, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and the Children of the Atom unite to make a better, stronger world as the Uncanny Avengers.  The undersea Kingdom of Atlantis and the devastated nation of Wakanda are plunged into war.  But the biggest result of this tale has to be the fall from grace of Cyclops (see AvX: Consequences).  All his life, Scott Summers had strived for equality and fought for justice in an unjust world, but in the moment of truth, Cyclops proved that he would go to any lengths and cross the line in order to achieve his goals.  Oppression, intimidation, murder…these are the tools of the villain.  Cyclops became no better than Magneto, Mister Sinister, Apocalypse, and all the other villains he fought against his entire life.  Scott Summers proved that even the most noble of heroes can be corrupted by ultimate power.   

    WINNER: Civil War

    When all is said and done, the Odinson prefers the super hero Civil War over the second coming of the Phoenix Force. 

    PLOT: Civil War just felt more personal where the wounds, both physical and emotional, would have true consequences.  Once the Phoenix Five was introduced in AvX, everything else that came next was easily explained away.  CREATIVE TEAM: Civil War’s story was tighter and more cohesive.  AvX, though helmed by a Who’s Who of top talent, had too many hands in the cookie jar and it showed, most prevalent in the many examples of characters acting uncharacteristically.  OMG FACTOR: Civil War is a page turner, and each issue ends with a cliffhanger that leaves the reader wanting more!  In AvX, once the Phoenix Five is introduced, everything after that becomes pretty straightforward comic book storytelling with very few eyebrow-raising moments.  CONSEQUENCES: Though I am saddened by the fall from grace of Cyclops and thrilled with the long overdue addition of some of the X-characters into the ranks of the Avengers, it doesn’t even begin to compare to the legacy left behind by Civil War.  Civil War set up the next five years of storytelling in the Marvel Universe (see World War Hulk, Secret Invasion, Dark Reign, Utopia, Siege, and The Heroic Age).  

    But don’t take my word for it.  Read Civil War and Avengers vs. X-Men, and their companion pieces Civil War: Front Line and AvX vs., choose a side, and make your own decision. 

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell