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So Sayeth the Odinson — with Michael Breakfield

  • It Was a Decade of Action Hero Dominance

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

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

     

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

     

    A Decade of Action Hero Dominance

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

     

  • What is the Odinson Reading?

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

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

     

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

     

    What is the Odinson Reading?

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    Honorable Mention:

     

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

     

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

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell  

     

  • The Odinson's Top 5 JLA/JSA Crossovers

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    Top 5 JLA/JSA Crossovers

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

     

  • The Odinson’s Top 5 Post-Apocalyptic Landscapes

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

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

     

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

     

    The Odinson’s Top 5 Post-Apocalyptic Landscapes

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • The Odinson’s Top 5 Unconventional Rivalries in Comics

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    The Odinson’s Top 5 Unconventional Rivalries

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    Top 5 Rivalries the Odinson Wants to See Grow

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • The Odinson’s Top 5 Sources of Secrets of the Universe

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    The Helmet of Nabu is a link to the divine might and magical power of a Lord of light.  Its power can unveil the secrets to super human strength, flight, and an array of magical powers that can put those that don it and master its power on par with the gods themselves.  The Eye of Agamotto can reveal great secrets of the universe, the afterlife, shed light on the secrets of others, and track locations across great distances of time and space as well as transport its wielder and allies there.  In his harrowing war against the sinister Dire Wraiths, ROM, greatest of the Spaceknights of Galador, was able to use his powerful Analyzer to see through illusions and see the evil shape-changing aliens in their true form.  And, anyone ensnared by Wonder Woman’s magical Lasso of Truth is compelled to reveal all secrets to the Amazing Amazon.   

     

    Odin, king of the Norse gods, the All-Father of fabled Asgard, father of Thor, and defender of the Nine Worlds, is the wielder of the nigh omnipotent Odinforce.  His ravens, Huginn and Muninn, fly all through space and time and bring back to Odin all the secrets and information the realms have to offer.  Odin’s number one duty to his people and to the universe itself is to prevent Ragnarok, the Twilight of the Gods.  Over the many cycles of the last millennium, he, along with mighty Thor, has done just that (see Thor #154-157, 176-177 and 200, The Eternals Saga, Ragnarok n Roll, Avengers Disassemble and The Gods of Asgard), but Odin paid a price for the secrets to prevent the end of days.  In order to learn the secrets to preventing Ragnarok, Odin sacrificed his right eye into the Well of Mimir, a mystical spring from which all the secrets of the cosmos reside.         

     

    It is said that information is power.  Power has long been the goal of men great and small.  If true power were easy to come by then all men would be great and powerful.  That is why the greatest powers of the universe are shrouded in mystery and protected by secrets, mysteries that those seeking ultimate power must first unravel.  The worlds of comic books and pop culture are full of such secrets and roads to power. 

     

    The Odinson’s Top 5 Sources of Secrets of the Universe

     

    The Identity Disc – In his fight against crime, sometimes a super hero’s greatest advantage is anonymity.  A secret identity helps keep friends and loved ones safe from a revenge-seeking foe.  In this tale, a mysterious benefactor assembles a group of Marvel villains Dirty Dozen style to go on a suicide mission to retrieve a computer disc that reportedly contains the addresses and identities of every single Marvel Hero in the world.  Just imagine the harm that could be wrought if this information were to ever get out into the open.

     

    The Necronomicon – The infamous Book of the Dead is said to contain many dark and terrifying secrets including the secrets to raising the dead.  This macabre tome is said to be inked in blood and bound in human flesh.  It has long played a pivotal role in many horror tales by H.P. Lovecraft.  The anti-hero Ash has been fighting a never-ending battle against the forces of evil ever since the Necronomicon raised the Army of Darkness.  The Necronomicon makes a cameo in Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday and bridges the gap between Freddy vs. Jason and Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash, a collision of three of the greatest horror franchises of all-time!    

     

    Castle Grayskull – This ancient, foreboding citadel located in a remote region on the magical world of Eternia is said to contain all the secrets of the cosmos and the evil Skeletor wants them.  This malevolent warlock will use all the black magic, supernatural artifacts, super weapons, and an army of mutants, witches, and monsters at his disposal to try and batter down the gates of Grayskull and obtain these priceless secrets.  The only thing standing in his way is the benevolent Sorceress and her mighty protector - He-Man the most powerful man in the universe.    

     

    The Infinity Gauntlet – If someone could obtain complete and total power over space, time, power, the mind, the soul, and reality they would be able to unlock the secrets of the universe and become nigh omnipotent.  They would be a god.  That is exactly what the Marvel U’s ultimate Big Bad did in Thanos Quest.  The Mad Titan faced, out-smarted and out dueled the Elders of the Universe and obtained the Soul Gems and forged the Infinity Gauntlet, thus becoming the most powerful being in the multiverse.  When Earth’s Mightiest Heroes failed to topple the titan (Infinity Gauntlet #4), Thanos went to war with a pantheon of space gods that included among others Galactus, the Celestials, and Eternity in a cosmic battle that threatened to unmake all reality (Infinity Gauntlet #5).  The Soul Gems contain the ultimate secrets and when brought together, the ultimate power!

     

    The Ark of the Covenant – This ancient artifact is said to contain the smashed remains of the Biblical Ten Commandments.  It is a greatly sought after object that is said to make any army that carries it into battle unbeatable for it is a direct conduit to the power of God.  This was the premise for the classic movie Raiders of the Lost Ark.  However, power like this was never meant to be wielded by mortal men, especially those with evil intent, as the Nazis quickly learned when they opened the Ark and were exposed to its contents.       

     

    Be careful what you wish for.  The revelation of universal secrets can sometimes lead to ultimate power, but sometimes it just melts your face off.  

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • The Odinson Explores the Age of the TV Super Hero

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    In the last few weeks, we have seen Marvel release their schedule for movies through 2019 and DC Comics schedule for movies through 2020.  So, for the next six years, we will be treated to no less than four major comic book based movies featuring A-List heroes like the Justice League and Avengers, exciting adaptations like Captain America: Civil War, and never before seen Big Screen adaptations of beloved heroes like Black Panther and SHAZAM!  And, fanboys and girls everywhere rejoiced!    

     

    It truly is a great time to be a comic book and movie fan.  It’s an embarrassment of riches.  It is truly mind-blowing to see exotic locales like Asgard and planet Krypton come to life on a giant movie screen in glorious IMAX.  However, this was not always the case.  Sure there were films like Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie, Tim Burton’s Batman, and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man scattered here and there to keep us chomping at the bit, but there was another medium that carried the torch through the decades and kept our hope alive until the day when Hollywood would truly embrace our heroes, and that medium was television.

     

    The TV has been in the 20s, Action Comics #1 launched the Age of the Super Hero in 1938, and television replaced radio as the preferred method of household entertainment over the course of the following decade.  Long before the comic book movie boom of the New Millennium, there was the Age of the TV Super Hero (1952-Present).

     

    1950s-1960s – He launched the super hero genre in comics, so it should come as no surprise that it was the Man of Steel that launched the Age of the TV Super Hero with the Adventures of Superman (1952-1958) starring George Reeves, a perfectly casted actor who looked just like a Curt Swan drawing come to life.  Soon after that The Saint (1962-1969) starring the dashing Roger Moore who would go on to portray another legendary hero on the Big Screen – James Bond.  Superman may have started it all, but it was Batman (1966-1968) starring the immortal Adam West that launched the super hero genre into the stratosphere and firmly implanted comic book culture into the lexicon of pop culture.  We finish out the decade with the ultimate catfight.  Bewitched (1964-1972) starring the sultry Elizabeth Montgomery featured a woman trying to balance the challenges of being a wife, homemaking, and parenthood.  Oh, and she just so happens to be a witch who with but a twitch of her nose can stop time and transmute matter.  And, I Dream of Jeannie (1965-1970), starring the beautiful Barbara Eden, followed the madcap adventures of an astronaut and his girlfriend who just so happens to be a reality-bending genie named Jeannie.  

     

    1970s – The next decade kicked off with arguably the most legendary TV Super Hero not based on a comic book in history.  The Six Million Dollar Man (1973-1978), based on the novel Cyborg and starring the uncanny Lee Majors, chronicled the adventures of Steve Austin, an astronaut that was transformed by modern super science into a half man/half machine super hero.  Its spin-off, The Bionic Woman (1976-1978), starring Lindsay Wagner, followed the adventures of Austin’s erstwhile girlfriend who was also transformed into a cyborg super hero.  SHAZAM! (1974-1976) was the first live-action adaptation of Captain Marvel and crossed over regularly with its sister program The Secrets of Isis (1975-1977), a show that starred a super heroine inspired by the ancient Egyptian goddess.  DC Comics had success with Superman in the 50s and Batman in the 60s so in the 70s it was the Amazing Amazon’s turn for the spotlight.  Wonder Woman (1975-1979) starring the eternally beautiful Lynda Carter was a pretty darn good adaptation of the DC icon.  Other shows featuring television super heroes were Electra Woman and Dyna Girl (1976-1977), Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979-1981), and one of the Odinson’s personal favorites, Bigfoot and Wildboy (1977-1979).  And, not to be outdone, the 70s saw the live-action television debut of two of Marvel Comics biggest icons – Spider-Man (1978-1979) starring Nicholas Hammond as Peter Parker and The Incredible Hulk (1977-1982) starring the fantastic Bill Bixby and perfectly cast Lou Ferrigno.       

     

    1980s – The decade of Moonwalking and the Rubik’s Cube had the biggest explosion of live-action TV Super Heroes in the history of the medium.  There are so many in fact that the Odinson can break them down into subgenres.  The street-level heroes – The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-1985), Magnum P.I. (1980-1988), The A-Team (1983-1987), MacGyver (1985-1992), and The Equalizer (1985-1989); the tech heroes and super vehicles – Knight Rider (1982-1986), Blue Thunder (1984), Airwolf (1984-1987), and Street Hawk (1985); and, the shows featuring science fiction and supernatural elements – The Greatest American Hero (1981-1983), Manimal (1983), Automan (1983-1984), V (1983-1985), Werewolf (1987-1988), and Quantum Leap (1989-1993).   

     

    1990s – The decade of Grunge kicked the TV Super Hero genre into overdrive!  The Crimson Comet made his first live-action debut in The Flash (1990-1991) starring John Wesley Shipp.  The protector of The Green battled evil in Swamp Thing: The Series (1990-1993).  M.A.N.T.I.S. (1994-1995) featured a unique hero who overcomes the loss of the use of his legs by inventing an exoskeleton that grants him super powers.  Long before the Last Son of Krypton there was the Son of Zeus and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1995-1999) follows the amazing exploits of the greatest super hero of the ancient world.  Herc’s spinoff series, Xena: Warrior Princess (1995-2001), even surpassed the original in popularity featuring the devilishly beautiful Lucy Lawless as a female super hero on par with Wonder Woman herself!  The next generation of X-Men made their television debut in Generation X (1996).  Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) and Angel (1999-2004) had action, horror, comedy, and drama, all the elements that make reading comics so wonderful.  And, Stargate SG-1 (1997-2007) features the adventures of an elite Special Forces unit that polices the multiverse.      

     

    Age of TV Super Hero Hall of FameDoctor Who and Star Trek.

     

    That’s quite a list but by no means is it complete.  These are just the shows that make up the Age of the TV Super Hero that the Odinson could think of off the top of his head.  But it’s fair to say these are my favorites.  As we all move into and through the New Millennium, even as the super hero genre rules at the Box Office, from Dark Angel (2000-2002) to Smallville (2001-2011), Alias (2001-2006) to Heroes (2006-2010), and Arrow (2012-Present) to The Flash (2014-Present), the small screen format is keeping the Age of the TV Super Hero alive and well.  God bless television and God bless America!

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • Happy Halloween 2014 from the Odinson

    Happy Halloween from the Odinson,

     

    All Hallows Eve approaches and fall is in the air.  The ghosts and goblins are out and about.  It’s that time of year when the nights get longer, and the days get shorter.  The things that go bump in the night lurk in the shadows and stalk the blackest parts of our imaginations.  To help set the mood for this year’s Halloween the Odinson has provided a list of some of his favorite bone-chilling comics, trades and GNs to help keep you company during those dark and spooky fall evenings. 

     

    There are many different kinds of monsters, both real and make-believe.  There are the traditional Monsters – the Vampire, Werewolf, Mummy, Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Zombie, and Frankenstein’s Monster.  There are the Kaiju – Rodan, Mothra, King Ghidorah, King Kong, and Godzilla.   There are the nightmares that plague man from beyond the stars – the Thing, Predator, the Brood, the Arachnids of Klendathu, and the Xenomorph.  There are the Slashers – Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, and Leatherface.  And, there are the Spirits of Vengeance – the Spectre, Pumpkinhead, Ghost Rider, and The Crow. 

     

    This year, the Odinson wishes to talk about a different kind of monster – The Hellspawn.

     

    Hellspawn are among the scariest monsters in the macabre pantheon.  That is probably due in no small part that a heavenly reward is the ultimate reward in most religions while eternal damnation is the ultimate penance.  In the great cosmic chess match, the human soul is the ultimate prize, and more times than not, it is the devilish hellspawn’s job to obtain it.  There are other kinds of hellspawn, those damned that have exchanged their souls in return for wealth, power, love, or revenge.   

     

    One of the most frightening concepts linked to hellspawn is demonic possession.  There have been many tales over the years to explore this truly scary notion, both fictional and, even scarier, reportedly real.  Hands down, the most chilling depiction of demonic possession was captured in the classic horror film, The Exorcist.   

     

    Top 5 Hellspawn that Haunt Our Nightmares

     

    5 – Scorpion Get over here!  This lost soul bent on revenge was one of the original seven characters for the epic mythology of the popular video game Mortal Kombat.  In days gone by, Scorpion, his family, and his entire clan were slaughtered by a rival ninja clan led by Sub-Zero.  In the stygian depths of the Nether Realm, Scorpion sold his soul for the chance to return to the realm of the living and seek revenge against his hated enemy.  Already one of the world’s greatest fighters, Scorpion now possesses hellspawned powers that include but are not limited to hellfire, which he can call forth in a pillar of fire or spew forth from his mouth, teleportation, and demonic immortality.  He also utilizes weapons such as the katana and harpoon with deadly skill.  Scorpion is one of the deadliest and most feared “kombatants” in the pantheon of Mortal Kombat. 

     

    4 – Etrigan the Demon Gone, gone, the form of man, rise the demon - Etrigan!  Many centuries ago, Jason Blood was a knight in King Arthur’s court, sworn to defend the realm.  However, after his acts unknowingly cause the kingdom peril at the hands of the witch, Morgan Le Fey, the wizard, Merlin, bonds Blood’s soul forever to that of the demon, Etrigan.  He can fly, has immense demonic strength, can spew hellfire from his mouth, and he can traverse through the realms via magical teleportation.  Etrigan is a mighty hellspawn who has stood toe-to-toe with DC heavyweights like Superman and Wonder Woman.  Though he doesn’t always, he prefers to speak in rhyme so as to confuse and tease foes and allies alike.  Etrigan is a complicated monster for he can often help the DC heroes in times of peril but just as easily turn on them and try to devour their souls.  Etrigan was created by “The King” himself – Jack Kirby!            

     

    3 – Spawn You sent me to hell.  I’m here to return the favor.  In life, Al Simmons was a cold-blooded assassin.  However, he was betrayed and murdered by those he worked for and his soul was sent to hell to pay for the sins he committed in life.  Simmons sold his soul to Malebolgia, a high ranking demon in hell, for the chance to see his beloved wife once more.  Not one to play fair, the demon lord did send him back but as a Hellspawn, a soldier in hell’s army.  Spawn possesses vast amounts of magical power.  He’s fast, strong, and agile.  His uniform is a living symbiotic organism that protects its host with writhing chains, a sweeping living cloak, and the ability to adapt.  Spawn also possesses all the Special Forces training he had in life making him a deadly hand-to-hand combatant and a weapons master.  Spawn has been able to stand toe-to-toe with the divine power of Angela, a master combatant like Batman, and the hulking might of Overt-Kill.  Spawn’s macabre magical powers grant him the ability to do just about anything he can conceive of, however it does have a finite reservoir.  When he has used up all his magical energy, he will be sent back to hell to serve the underworld in it eternal war against Heaven.    

     

    2 – Pinhead We’ll tear your soul apart.  In the hierarchy of the levels of hell, blue collar demons like Violator, Lo Pan, and Freddy Krueger have their paychecks signed by this guy.  Created by legendary horror writer Clive Barker (Nightbreed, Thief of Always), Pinhead is the leader of the Cenobites, a group of leather clad demons who visit all sorts of hellish tortures on mankind.  Cenobites are creatures covered in scars, body piercings, and self-mutilations, bi-products of their countless experiments in the art of torture.  They are summoned to the realm of man whenever a mortal, seeking the ultimate reward, solves the puzzle of the Lament Configuration using Lemarchand’s Box.  This mystical box is also the only way to defeat the Cenobites by banishing them back to hell.  Pinhead possesses vast amounts of demonic power, but he prefers to tear his victims limb-from-limb with hook-tipped chains that he calls forth from the ether.  He can use his demonic power to create Cenobites out of vanquished foes and add to the ranks of his growing unholy order.        

     

    1 – Mephisto Do as I command and attain your heart’s desire.  He is the Lord of lies.  Mephisto is the embodiment of evil in the Marvel Universe and its de facto Devil.  This Lord of Hell ranks very high in the Marvel U’s cosmic hierarchy.  The world’s mightiest heroes like the Fantastic Four, X-Men, and Avengers have fallen before his demonic might.  Only beings of immense power like Thor, Silver Surfer, and Franklin Richards have even given this monster pause.  Other Underworld monarchs like Pluto and Hel are guarded around Mephisto.  Even mighty Galactus has been matched by this fiendish devil from below.  The source of Mephisto’s macabre might stems from the countless souls he has gathered into his stygian domain.  He lies, tricks, and steals in order to add more souls to his collection.  He even possesses the soul of the mother of Doctor Doom.  Mephisto is one of the most powerful and diabolical forces of evil in the multiverse of comics.  As long as there is evil in the world, there will be Mephisto.    

     

    Honorable Mentions: Trigon, Surtur, Malebolgia, Nero, Lady Death, and the Violator.

     

    Hellspawn Hall of Fame: Cthulhu

     

    The Ultimate Hellspawn is the Anti-Christ.  He is predicted to incite the End of Days scenario.  In the realms of pop culture this product of the underworld has taken on many different guises as seen in Rosemary’s Baby, The Omen, and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century.  The Anti-Christ is the ultimate super villain.

     

    The Odinson does not wish to scare the good readers too much and so as not to end on such a chilling notion I wish to reveal that not all Hellspawn are forces for evil.  Adam Sandler’s Little Nicky proved to be not only a benevolent little demon, but a truly comedic one as well.  Daimon Hellstrom the Son of Satan turned his back on his father’s evil ways and dedicated his life to fight for justice in the ranks of Marvel’s The Defenders.  And, nobody could forget the diminutive, devilish troublemaker Hot Stuff, an impish little devil whose hellspawn powers are used more in good natured tricks and pranks rather than truly evil machinations.

     

    There you have it, boys and girls, a look at one the most unique and scariest monsters to ever stalk our nightmares.  Be sure to check under beds and in your closets before you drift off to sleep tonight.  And please, don’t fret, monsters don’t exist, right?  

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • The Odinson Presents Batman's Most Underrated Foes

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    Top 5 Underrated Bat-Foes

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • Marvel Comics Celebrates the 30th Anniversary of Secret Wars

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    The Alex Ross piece includes characters from:

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell