Greetings from the Odinson,
In the pages of How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, Stan Lee said, “…the cover is probably the single most important page in any comic book. If it catches your eye and intrigues you, there’s a chance you may buy the magazine.” The Odinson could not agree more. The cover is the first thing a reader sees when they are perusing the racks, shelves, and websites, looking for a comic to buy, and an exciting eye-catching cover can mean the difference between a sale or them moving on to the next issue.
A cover should capture the attention, excite the senses, and tantalize the thoughts of the target audience. The greatest covers of All-Time can even tell a story. With one piece of artwork, the reader can know exactly what the action is and, if the piece is really good, the reader will want to know more. What happens next? That is the mark of truly great comic book cover. When it leaves the potential buyer wanting to know what happens next.
The Odinson’s Favorite Eye-Catching Covers of the Modern Era
Superman #329 – Art by Ross Andru. The World’s Greatest Super Hero gone in a flash?! There was no way I could pass this issue up and not learn the Man of Steel’s fate. This is a perfect example of telling a compelling story and leaving the fan wanting more.
Further Adventures of Indiana Jones #11 – Art by Kerry Gammill. Gammill really did a wonderful job, using perspective to give a sense of vertigo. As a child of the 80s, of course I was a fan of Indiana Jones. So, you can imagine my anxiety when I saw my hero hanging on for dear life by his fingernails as a hulking brute looms large over him threatening to end his adventurous career with one mighty blow. I clearly remember thinking to myself - how in the world is Indy going to get out of this one?
Convergence: Wonder Woman #2 – Art by Joshua Middleton. Already a dangerous adversary, the Clown Prince of Crime has never looked more menacing then he does in this piece. There are a lot of things at work in this piece. Our hero, the ultimate female protagonist, is seemingly at the mercy of not just the villain, but a monster, a vampire. As Wonder Woman swoons, prone in the clawed grip of evil, the reader is left with a sliver of doubt that the Amazing Amazon just might not make it out of this one alive. The artist truly captures the alluring and seductive power of the vampire mythos while using familiar modern DC icons.
Mighty Thor #3 – Art by Olivier Coipel. At the precipice on the gates of Asgard, the mighty Thor has drawn a line in the sand. The air is charged with electricity as the Son of Odin declares that he is an immovable object and none shall pass. However, looming in the distance is an ominous and foreboding shadow announcing the arrival of the Devourer of Worlds. This is a cataclysmic confrontation that must be seen.
ROM Spaceknight #10 – Art by Michael Golden. This series has so many great covers. This one always captured my imagination. I love the use of colors. They reflect the sad tragedy unfolding as ROM is forced to defend himself against the very people he has come to save.
Fantastic Four #348 – Art by Arthur Adams. For artist that makes a living delivering eye-catching covers, this one always stood out for me. In one image, Adams captures a super cool Ghost Rider, a monstrous Hulk, a definitive Wolverine, and a perfect Spider-Man.
Amazing Spider-Man #300 – Art by Todd McFarlane. Along with McFarlane’s signature webbing designs (which have influenced the way artists do Spidey’s webs to this day) and the fact that the series is celebrating its 300th issue, this is probably one of the most iconic Spider-Man covers of All-Time and he isn’t even wearing his classic costume.
Captain America #332 – Art by Mike Zeck and Klaus Janson. This image captures one of the most pivotal moments in Cap’s history. Disenfranchised by his government, Steve Roger is stripped of his role as the Sentinel of Liberty. The slumping of Cap’s mighty shoulders, the tattered flag whose colors begin to slowly bleed away truly captures the feeling of the lowest point in Cap’s history. And, it’s all juxtapose brilliantly by the visage of the greatest President in the History of the United States.
Batman: Bloodstorm – Art by Kelley Jones. This is truly an ominous piece. Kelley Jones has always been one of my favorite Bat-Artists, but here he captures the terrifying awe of the Dark Knight’s descent into true darkness and his birth as a true creature of the night.
Batman #350 – Art by Gene Colan. Speaking of creatures of the night, here’s another piece involving similar elements, but this time it is the Caped Crusader that is threatened by the vampire. Colan adds classic horror element like rain and lightning, and the fact that the monster is a monk, a character usually associated with peace, makes the cover even more unsettling.
Detective Comics #509 – Art by Jim Aparo. Aparo captures a classic motif beautifully. Seeing this cover, a very young Odinson had to learn not only how the sinister Catman got the upper hand on Batman, but how the Caped Crusader was going to get out of this one alive.
Action Comics #544 – Art by Gil Kane. In one moment, Gil Kane turned the Man of Steel’s two greatest enemies into even more dangerous adversaries. Luthor’s signature green armor look still makes appearances to this day and provides the villain with roots to his Pre-Crisis mad scientist days. And, this truly sci-fi Brainiac design, to this day, is the most menacing ever put to paper. Why DC ditched it in the Post-Crisis DCU I can’t begin to guess.
Thor #362 – Art by Walt Simonson. In this beautiful piece the artist captures true Asgardian power as a battle-scarred Thor leads the charge out of the gates of Hel. His legendary chariot is being pulled by his monstrous goats – Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjostr. Meanwhile, the ominous foreshadowing of Skurge’s last stand looms large in the background. Walt Simonson was born to draw the mighty Thor.
New Teen Titans Annual #1 – Art by George Perez. On one side are the Teen Titans and the Omega Men, on the other the alien Gordanians and Branx, and stuck in the middle of this epic battle that will decide the fate of the galaxy is Starfire locked in mortal combat with her evil sister, Blackfire. At the fore front is Robin. He has the appearance of being overwhelmed by the situation, but like a true hero, Robin rises to the challenge. It could be argued that this is the adventure, the moment when Dick Grayson ceased being the Boy Wonder and transitioned into the adult chapter of his career. This is the climax of not just one of the greatest Teen Titans adventures, but one of the greatest super hero adventures of All-Time!
Superman vs. Spider-Man – Art by Ross Andru and Dick Giordano. This was truly a seminal moment in comic book history. The cover says it all, it is the Battle of the Century! DC and Marvel’s two biggest icons are about to throw down for the heavyweight championship belt, and I for one want to see how this epic event plays out.
Crisis on Infinite Earths #12 – Art by George Perez. All the cards are on the table. There is no tomorrow. There is no more planning. This is the final battle that will decide the fate of the DCU! And, Perez captures the moment in grand style.
Avengers #223 – Art by Ed Hannigan and Klaus Janson. Before they became movie stars, Scott Lang and Clint Barton were B-List heroes at best. But, this iconic, eye-catching image catapulted them to super stardom, at least for one issue.
Incredible Hulk #240 – Art by Todd McFarlane. This classic McFarlane piece is truly the rock star of comic book covers. Not only is it an iconic and original take on two Marvel Legends, but it also signaled the beginning of the rock star artists era of comic books. This is easily one of the most recognizable, influential, and emulated comic covers in history. Oh yeah, and it’s Hulk vs. Wolverine!
And sometimes a cover can become so epic that it takes two covers to tell the whole tale!
New Teen Titans #37 and Batman and the Outsiders #5 – Art by George Perez and Jim Aparo. This is George Perez doing what George Perez does best, drawing lots of characters doing astonishing things. There are mini epics and subtle storylines taking place in every corner of this two-cover spread. And, if you line up the two covers side-by-side, they make an incredible poster!
Iron Man #215-216 – Art by Mark Bright and Bob Layton. It’s the very first time we see James Rhodes in the classic red and gold Iron Man armor alongside Tony Stark’s new red and silver Centurion armor. This is truly a magnificent piece. Then suddenly, we are served with Stark and Rhodes streaking out of control toward the earth, their armors igniting as they enter the atmosphere. What happened? How did our heroes get into this situation, and more importantly, how are they going to survive it?
The Cover Hall of Fame: Silver Surfer #4 – Art by John Buscema. Hands down, this is the Odinson’s All-Time favorite comic book cover. John Buscema captures the moment right before Marvel’s two most powerful heroes are going to collide in a cosmic collision that will shake the pillars of heaven. And, where else could such a clash of titans take place then surrounded by the swirling cosmos and on the shimmering platform of Bifrost, the fabled Rainbow Bridge that connects the realm of Earth with Asgard, home of the gods.
These are some of my favorite comic book covers of All-time. There are still some great covers out there, but unfortunately, the art of the great eye-catching cover is not nearly as prevalent today as was in previous years. Above are the pieces that made me have to have that issue and learn the fate of my heroes as I turn the page, holding my breath in anticipation. For all you aspiring artists out there remember, a truly great comic book cover is more than a character just striking a pose, it should be eye-catching, tell a story, and most importantly, it should leave the reader wanting more.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
Greetings from the Odinson,
“Science fiction…double feature…Doctor X will build a creature…see androids fighting…Brad and Janet…Anne Francis stars in Forbidden Planet…at the late night, double feature, picture show…”
There is probably no better definition, or explanation rather, of what Science Fiction is to the Odinson than this opening number from the cult classic Rocky Horror Picture Show. Science Fiction is glorious entertainment at its finest. It shows us far off worlds we can only dream about. Only in Sci-Fi can we see the Volkswagen-size ants of THEM! terrorize the mid-west. Only Sci-Fi could bring us the complete failure of execution of Ed Wood’s gloriously bad Plan 9 from Outer Space. Only Sci-Fi could give the utter absurdity of Sharknado. Only science fiction can give us transcendent themes like “Live long and prosper…” and unforgettable moments that resonate generation after generation like “I am your father.”
Decade after decade, writers, artists, and directors keep pushing the envelope and giving us more and more eye-popping and mind-expanding tales of Sci-Fi. By no means is this a complete list, but here is a list of the Odinson’s favorite Sci-Fi, the good, the bad, and beyond!
The Odinson’s Favorite Science Fiction in Pop Culture
Movie: The Matrix – It was a grey rainy Sunday afternoon in April of 1999 when the Odinson went to see this movie. Remember, this was in the days before internet, well before I had internet anyway, and I had absolutely no idea what I was in store for when I went to see this pic. So, I’m sitting there with my popcorn and my big cold soft drink, the lights go down, and within the first five minutes of the film I realized that I’m not in Kansas anymore. I know lackluster sequels, Wachowskis follow-up bombs, and an endless amount of parodies and cribs have water downed the impact this film had on the world of entertainment, what can never be ignored is the impact it had on me. It captured my imagination. It also influenced the way Hollywood looked at the Sci-Fi genre. Joss Whedon himself said that after The Matrix, he immediately threw out what he was working on and went back to the drawing the board. Honorable Mentions: Planet of the Apes, Alien, Blade Runner, Escape from New York, Terminator, Predator, They Live, The Fifth Element, and Armageddon.
TV: Star Trek – Of all these categories, this was the one where there could be no doubt which show would top the list. Lots of science fiction tales show us the dark paths that leads civilization toward ruin and a dystopian future, or it pulls back the veil of modern society and shows the underbelly and darkest shadows of the human condition. Gene Roddenberry however shows a future of hope and equality, a time and place where all of mankind, no matter the color of their skin, nationality, or religion, lives side-by-side in harmony and seeks out to understand the mysteries of the universe together. Take away hunger, greed, and materialistic want and we are left with a United Federation of human beings working together for one goal, the advancement of mankind. It’s a great message and it’s the reason Star Trek has resonated and been in the pop culture in one form or another for fifty years now. Honorable Mentions: Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica (Classic), Stargate: SG1, Twin Peaks, The X-Files, Firefly, and Battlestar Galactica (Modern).
Comic Book: Fantastic Four – Perhaps Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s greatest creation, the FF is action, adventure, drama, comedy, and it is all blanketed in a swathe of science fiction. Their origins are rooted in science fiction, a group of astronauts bombarded by mysterious cosmic rays are transformed into beings that are more than human. They are explorers of the unknown and through their exploits we are introduced to the Marvel Universe and all the fantastic and wonderful denizens that dwell within – Doctor Doom, the Skrulls, the Kree, Black Panther, the Uncanny Inhumans, the Watcher, Silver Surfer, Galactus, and more! Space, time, under the sea, in the bowels of the earth, the microverse, other planets, alternate realities, it is all explored and discovered by our quartet of brave heroes and their allies. Few other comics in the history of the medium so wholeheartedly embrace and encompass the genre of science fiction the way this one does. Stan Lee may have been onto something when he dubbed the Fantastic Four “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine!” Honorable Mentions: Kamandi, The New Gods, ROM Spaceknight, Guardians of the Galaxy (Classic), The Walking Dead, Saga, and Black Science.
Cartoon: Robotech: The Macross Saga – Take the wonder of Star Wars: A New Hope, the soap opera of Battlestar Galactica, the world-building of The Matrix, and musical cues on par with John Williams himself, throw it all in a blender and you get The Macross Saga. For a cartoon, Macross featured storytelling, character development, super cool mech designs, and animation that was light-years ahead of anything else on television. How this epic saga of the human race’s fight for survival has not been turned into a live-action movie trilogy is beyond me. Honorable Mentions: Thundarr the Barbarian, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Transformers, MASK, ThunderCats, SilverHawks, Visionaries, Inhumanoids, Galaxy Rangers, and Centurions.
Anime: Akira – This seminal piece of science fiction also featured animation and complex storytelling that was way ahead of its time. It’s exploration of the human condition and the human psyche and the struggle with ultimate power has gone on to influence many, many entries into the Sci-Fi realm including Dark City, The Matrix, Babylon A.D., Chronicle, Lucy, and more. Akira also played a major role in showing the west the merits of Japanese animated entertainment and helped facilitate the influx of more anime, manga, and movies from the east. Like Macross, the Odinson cannot believe we have not seen a live action adaptation of this classic piece of Sci-Fi entertainment. Honorable Mentions: Ghost in the Shell, Dragon Ball Z, Bubblegum Crisis, Fullmetal Alchemist, Appleseed, and Scrapped Princess.
Video Game: StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty – Video games, going back to the ‘70s and ‘80s, have always been a fantastic source of entertainment. However, the modern day games can be every bit as complex and rich as the best movies, TV series, or even books. With vibrant well thought-out mythologies, complex characters, compelling drama, fantastic designs, and wholly satisfying gaming experiences, they may have been behind the curve for a very long time, but they are quickly shortening the gap. The StarCraft Universe has all these qualities and so much more. It is influenced by some of the best sci-fi in history including Aliens, Firefly, Starship Troopers, Robotech, and Star Wars, all while adding its own spice into the mix. The campaign is rich and I have no doubt will make an epic movie one day. Plus, StarCraft is at the forefront of online competitive gaming and is a huge part of this growing global community. Honorable Mentions: Final Fantasy VII, Resident Evil, Final Fantasy VIII, and Mass Effect.
The Science Fiction Hall of Fame: Star Wars
It’s, hands down, the greatest sci-fi/fantasy in the history of pop culture. It transcends film, books, television, comics, animation, toys, it is truly the King of All Mediums. Every single time that bombastic music cries out and STAR WARS explodes onto the screen followed by that slow scroll of exposition, it is a religious experience for the Odinson.
To try and list all the great science fiction entertainment that has graced the Big Screen, television, and four color page would be an exercise in futility. This was a pretty big subject to tackle. Entire books have been written and extensive documentaries have been produced on the subject. The Odinson has given thee some insight to the Sci-Fi that he loves. Hopefully you too have a list like this stirring around in your head and celebrate all things Science Fiction – the good, the bad, and beyond!
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
Greetings from the Odinson,
In the 1980s, in a Post-Crisis DCU, Lex Luthor became the most diabolical and ruthless sort of villain, a true villain of the time, a businessman. He used his endless supply of wealth and influence to crush anyone that would dare stand in his way. Now, that kind of villainy would seem right at home even in today’s landscape, and that is probably why this version of Luthor has stood the test of time, but this was not always the Luthor we knew.
Once upon a time, Lex Luthor was what was known as a MAD SCIENTIST. He would use his super human intellect to concoct diabolical schemes and create weapons of mass destruction in order to defeat his hated enemy, Superman, and take over the world. Not just relegated to the occasional jaunt in a green suit of armor, Luthor would throw the wildest devices imaginable at the Man of Steel.
In Action Comics #131, Luthor invented a machine that could banish his foe to the 4th Dimension! In Action Comics #294, Luthor was able to use his super science to increase the power of one of the Man of Steel’s deadliest foes, and he did it in three-wheeling style, too! In Action Comics #466, Luthor is able to transform the World’s Greatest Super Heroes into defenseless children! Luthor was once the greatest Mad Scientist in comics. However, his character, though still wicked smart, has morphed into something different, a villain for the times.
But do not fret, the motif of the Mad Scientist is alive and well today and boast a roster of some of the most diabolical madmen to ever obtain their doctorate.
The Odinson’s Top 10 Mad Scientists
10 – Dr. Herbert West – West was ostracized and shunned by the medical community for his claims that he could reverse the grip of death. He developed a serum that when injected could re-animate dead tissue. However, these re-animated corpses seldom ever turned out right and more times than not they would turn into monstrosities and inhuman threats to mankind.
9 - Doctor Octopus – Dr. Otto Octavius has one of the most brilliant minds in the world. His intelligence is on par with great minds like Hank Pym and Reed Richards, and his expertise in the field of atomic research is surpassed only by Bruce Banner himself. However, after an explosion left him mentally unstable, Octavius used his mechanical arms to start a life of crime. Over his career he has out maneuvered Captain America, gone toe-to-toe with Daredevil, outsmarted Iron Man, and even beaten the Hulk. However, his greatest enemy is Spider-Man and many, many times has he met with defeat at the hands of that accursed wall-crawler. But, that all changed on the day Otto turned the tables and actually used his super science to swap bodies with Peter Parker. That day marked the greatest triumph of Doctor Octopus and the birth of the Superior Spider-Man!
8 - Doctor Gero – Once a member of the terrorist organization known as the Red Ribbon Army, Gero was their chief scientist and inventor of their weapons and engines of war. However, a young Goku defeated the Red Ribbon Army and scattered them to the winds. Many years later, Gero returned, but he returned changed. He had transplanted his brain into a super android body able to absorb life energy from his enemies. He also created a small battalion of super androids - Android 17, Android 18, and Android 19 – to help him defeat Goku and the Z Fighters. However, Androids 17 and 18 betrayed and murdered Gero, but the wily old scientist had one last trick up his sleeve – Cell. Cell was Gero’s ultimate creation, an android that could absorb the others that came before him and obtain an even more powerful state of being, a Perfect Cell! It took the ultimate sacrifice of Goku and a Herculean Avengers-like effort by the Z- Fighters to finally vanquish Cell.
7 - Doctor Moreau – In H.G. Wells’ classic tale, the reader is introduced to the demented Doctor Moreau who through wild experimentation has transformed animals into humanlike creatures. However, instinct proves too powerful even for super science, and in the end these human/animal hybrids revert to true form leaving the mad doctor and his loyal companion dead. The only man to survive the ordeal is driven nearly mad by his experiences.
6 - Doctor Sivana – This diminutive mad scientist has been a thorn in the side of Captain Marvel since almost the beginning. Sivana has thrown all sorts of diabolical death traps and contraptions at his hated foe! For the Odinson, Sivana’s greatest plot came in the pages of DC Comics Presents Annual #3. Sivana uses his mad science to actually steal the wizard’s lightning. Empowered with the might of SHAZAM, Sivana imprisons Captain Marvel within the Rock of Eternity and sets out to destroy the only person in the multiverse that could possibly challenge him now – Superman. Sivana proceeds to man handle the elder Man of Steel of Earth-2. It takes the combined effort of the Marvel Family and two Supermen to take down Sivana and stop his mad scheme.
5 - Professor Ivo and T.O. Morrow – Professor Ivo is a brilliant inventor who has created a series of super androids that includes Amazo, Composite Superman, and Kid Amazo. T.O. Morrow is also a genius inventor who created the super android the world has come to know as Red Tornado. Together, Ivo and T. O. Morrow formed an alliance and created the Tomorrow Woman, a life-like android with all the powers of a super hero. She was meant to infiltrate the ranks of the Justice League and destroy the heroes from within. However, like the stalwart androids – Red Tornado and the Vision – before her, Tomorrow Woman developed emotion and courage to do what was right and ultimately sacrificed herself to save our heroes. These two diabolical madmen have created many other sinister devices and plots to challenge the World’s Greatest Heroes but their greatest contributions to the DCU are their androids.
4 – The High Evolutionary – Genetic biologist Herbert Wyndham used his experiments to transform himself and evolve into an armored immortal of unbelievable intelligence and ambition. He starts small by evolving animals into intelligent human/animal hybrids. But as his thirst for understanding grows so too does his want to change the very fundamental makeup of the universe. He once tried to create a perfect world. Located on the opposite side of the sun as Earth this Counter-Earth was corrupted by the sinister Man-Beast. The High Evolutionary is a very complex character. He has helped the heroes of the Marvel Universe almost as many times as he has battled against them. Probably his most notorious scheme was in the pages of Evolutionary War. He attempted to advance the human race up the evolutionary ladder so that mankind would be the most dominate race in the cosmos. This mad scheme brought him into conflict with not only the heroes of the world but also other tyrants like Apocalypse who had plans of his own for the future of mankind. Probably the High Evolutionary’s greatest achievement is the restoration of the Savage Land after its destruction at the hands of the titan known as Terminus.
3 - Doc Brown – “1.21 gigawatts!” What can you say about the man who invented a time machine out of a DeLorean? Powered by pure plutonium, once Doc Brown’s invention hits 88mph, Marty McFly embarks on the ride of his life. Instantly transported back through time, Marty must try and figure out a way to help his teenage parents fall in love and still make it in time to get Back to the Future! Not one to sit on his laurels, when Doc Brown returns from visiting the future, he has done a little upgrade on his time machine. Now it runs on common garbage and it can fly! “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”
2 - Victor Frankenstein – He is the original Mad Scientist. Seeking to have power over life and death, Frankenstein conducted a mad experiment in his ancient family castle where he stitched together a body out of the parts of dead men and brought this monstrosity to life with his super science. The Monster quickly turned on his maker and embarked on a series of misadventures that led to many deaths, including the death of Victor’s own bride. After a failed attempt to make the Monster a Bride, Victor spent his last days hunting the Monster across the world until they both apparently perished in the cold artic. However, in many incarnations throughout pop culture, movies, books, and comics, Victor Frankenstein’s monstrous creation still lives to this day.
1 - Doctor Doom – Victor Frankenstein may have been the original Mad Scientist, but Victor Von Doom perfected the title. To try and list all of Doom’s schemes and accomplishments would be futile, so here are a few of the Odinson’s favorites. He rules his own country by his own hand. He wears body armor on par with Iron Man. He has studied the mystic arts, and his sorcerous abilities rival even Doctor Strange. Perhaps his greatest invention is the time machine, a glowing platform that can transport those standing on it to any point in history. This device has played a major role in several campaigns. In Fantastic Four #5, Doom sends his enemies back in time to retrieve the treasures of Black Beard the Pirate. In Lost in Space-Time, the alien despot, Lucifer, uses Doom’s device to send Earth’s Mightiest Heroes hurtling backwards through time where they intersect with a previous event (see also Marvel Time-Travel Crossover). In the first adventure of Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers – Assemble – Doom and Osborn use the time machine to get the upper hand against the sorceress Morgan Le Fey. And, most recently, the heroes use Dooms’ time portal to try and put an end to the Age of Ultron. Doctor Doom is not only a master of science, a master of magic, and a master of men, he is also a master of time. No other name could possibly top this list for Doom would not allow it.
Honorable Mentions: Dr. Frank N. Furter, Hugo Strange, Arnim Zola, Mad Hatter, Doctor Faustus, Hans Zarkov, Dexter, Professor Nutty Nut-Meg, Professor Master Cylinder, Dr. Ivo Robotnik (Eggman), Dr. Wily, and Doc Terror.
All the names on this list are brilliant minds for sure, but it seems they all have another trait in common – gigantic egos. With a massive ego and superior intelligence to feed it, it isn’t long before the God Complex sets in. These men truly believe they are on a divine level. They create life and/or re-write history as they see fit. With super human intelligence there seems to come a price – the loss of one’s sanity.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
Greetings from the Odinson,
Last week the Odinson took a look at all the different incarnations of the Hulk (see The Many Incarnations of the Hulk). This week I’ll share my list of my favorite artists who have ever breathed life into the Gamma-powered fists of the Incredible Hulk. Now, other fans may have their favorites, but for me, hands down, these are the artists that kept me coming back issue after issue and helped make the Odinson a Hulk fan for life.
The Odinson’s Top 5 Hulk Artists
5 – Todd McFarlane – His Run: Incredible Hulk #330-346 and Amazing Spider-Man #328. Though he is probably better known for his ground-breaking run on Spider-Man and his creator-owned Spawn, it cannot be denied that McFarlane brought a unique take on the Hulk to the table. Not one to be constrained by proper anatomy, McFarlane’s look for the Hulk was truly monstrous and his ability to draw faces brought great dimension to a truly complex character that could be utterly ruthless one second (Incredible Hulk #343) and show deep caring and affection the next (Incredible Hulk #344). Highlights for the Odinson: Incredible Hulk #340: A rematch with Wolverine and arguably the best Hulk/Wolverine throw down ever! And, in Ground Zero the Leader executes his master scheme and orchestrates one of the Hulk’s greatest failures.
4 – Herb Trimpe - His Run: Incredible Hulk #109-193. During Trimpe’s seven-plus year run on the Jade Giant, he provided many covers and almost all the interiors with very few off issues. It can be said that it was his run that truly defined the character of the Hulk for many fans. He really captured that misunderstood monster on the run vibe, a man-beast who only wants to be left alone but continuously gets drawn into conflict by the machinations of others. Though Trimpe’s art style saw a dramatic decline in his later years (I submit the interiors for exhibits A: Citizen Kang and B: Guardians of the Galaxy #28), he was at the height of his storytelling powers when he was orchestrating the adventures of the Jade Giant. Highlights for the Odinson: Incredible Hulk #180-181: Though he may not have designed the character, Trimpe was the first in history to draw Wolverine in the comics. And, Incredible Hulk #171-172 features back-to-back bone-crushing tales where the Hulk faces down three of his mightiest adversaries – Rhino, Abomination, and the Juggernaut!
3 – John Byrne - His Run: Alpha Flight #28 and Incredible Hulk #314-320. Though easily the shortest run on this list, it cannot be overstated just how big of an impact Byrne’s Hulk had on the Odinson. He had such eye-catching covers that each one made you have to pick up that issue and find out what was happening inside. The massive physique and uncontrollable rage he captured seemed to explode off the page and vibrate in my hand. The colors were so vibrant as well. In this short six month run, John Byrne left no doubt in my mind that the Hulk was the mightiest mortal to ever walk the earth. Highlights for the Odinson: Incredible Hulk #314 sees the Hulk return from the Crossroads and suddenly confronted by a small army of his deadliest foes. Meanwhile, Doc Samson makes a startling discovery about the man-monster’s psychic bond with Bruce Banner. And, in Incredible Hulk #316 the Avengers send their four mightiest heroes up against the Jade Giant and soon discover why the Hulk is the strongest one there is. It’s a super hero brawl so titanic that it leaves an entire town utterly demolished in its wake. Luckily the citizens had been evacuated.
2 – Dale Keown – His Run: Incredible Hulk #367-398 and Hulk/Pitt. He was there for the conception of the New Hulk, a Hulk that was more than monster, more than man, a Hulk that could be a hero. Thus, was born probably the most functional Hulk physique to date. This was a Hulk that interacted on an emotional and intellectual level with others but at the same time still looked like he could pummel the Abomination if need be. Keown’s flair for muscularity plus his sense for the trends of the day really helped his Hulk set the standard for what would be that 90s style. Highlights for the Odinson: Incredible Hulk #370-371 features the reunion fans had been waiting for years to see as the original Defenders reunite to take on a supernatural threat. And, in Incredible Hulk #390 we learn the only thing more dangerous than a Hulk is a Hulk with a really big gun! This highlight had the 90s written all over it.
1 – Sal Buscema – His Run: Incredible Hulk #194-309. There is no doubt in my mind that the great Sal Buscema’s nearly decade long run defined the Incredible Hulk for me. The power of the Hulk, the mighty blows he would rain down on those foolish enough to step into the ring with him left an ever-lasting impact on my imagination that resonates to this day. A true master storyteller and true master at drawing the Hulk, Buscema rendered a Green Goliath that truly looked magnificent. To try and list all the highlights of this illustrious run would take more time and space than I have allotted here, but suffice it to say, Sal Buscema is my All–Time favorite Hulk artist. Highlights for the Odinson: World Tour: The Incredible Hulk embarks on a journey around the globe that sees the Green Goliath throw down with heavyweights like the U-Foes, Thor, the Soviet Super Soldiers, and the Absorbing Man, plus it introduces new heroes like the Arabian Knight, Sabra, and the Rangers. In Incredible Hulk #269, the Hulk is recruited by the monstrous Hulk-Hunters to travel to outer space and battle an unbeatable foe, but in Incredible Hulk #270, we learn that that foe is one of the Hulk’s greatest enemies! In Incredible Hulk #272, the Hulk returns from the far side of the universe only to run into his old sparring partner, the flesh-eating and nigh unstoppable Wendigo. Luckily, the Canadian man-brute Sasquatch is at the scene to lend a hand. Then in the follow up tale in Incredible Hulk #273, the xenophobic citizens of a small town community learn a harsh The Day the World Stood Still-like lesson when they meet strange visitors form another world.
These are the artists that defined the Jade Giant for a young Odinson and helped make him an Incredible Hulk fan for life.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
Greetings from the Odinson,
“Just gonna have to be a different man…” – David Bowie, Changes
Whenever Bruce Banner, one of the world’s most brilliant scientists, gets agitated or in times of great stress, this one-hundred and fifty pound man transforms into an eight-foot tall one-thousand pound juggernaut of rage and power known as the Hulk! The Incredible Hulk is easily one of the most complex and interesting comic book characters ever created. Iron Man may upgrade his armor, Superman may drop the red shorts, and Batman may have the special Bat-suit for any occasion, but nobody weathers change like the mighty Hulk.
Throughout his long and illustrious career of smashing any would be challenger and establishing himself as the strongest one there is, the Hulk has given new meaning to the word “change.” From scientist to monster, from menace to hero, the Hulk has been it all and continues to evolve, continues to change to this very day.
The Many Incarnations of the Hulk
Frankenstein-Hulk (1962) – This is the original incarnation of the Hulk. When Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the Hulk at the Dawn of the Marvel Age, Lee said he wanted to take aspects of the Frankenstein Monster and merge them with the duality of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The result was an Atomic Age scientist caught in the heart of Gamma Bomb. Infused with Gamma radiation, when the sun would set, Bruce Banner would transform into a seven-foot tall, lumbering brute with a poor attitude that would lash out at friend and foe alike. But this first incarnation would not last long at all. In the very next issue, the Hulk’s first transformation would occur.
Childlike-Hulk (1963-1982) – For the next twenty years, the Hulk was the lovable “HULK SMASH” misunderstood monster that most of the world has come to know. This sympathetic King Kong-like incarnation was hunted by the military, especially Thunderbolt Ross, and spent almost as much time brawling with other super heroes like Thor and the Thing as he did smashing evil doers like Absorbing Man, Rhino, and the Leader. All he ever really wanted was to be left alone, so he searched far and wide for a home. During this incarnation the Hulk really made his rounds throughout the Marvel Universe. From the Savage Land to New York City to the Microverse to Outer Space and Beyond, the strength of the Hulk was witnessed far and wide. There are so many great tales to choose from but one of the Odinson’s All-Time favorites is the Word Tour the Green Goliath takes in the early 80s that sees him cover the globe in a span of a few bone-breaking, earth-shaking exciting issues. Not long after that the Hulk’s third incarnation was born – the Banner-Hulk.
Banner-Hulk (1982-1984) – Finally, the brilliant mind of Bruce Banner is in control of the monstrous strength of the Hulk. Immediately, this Banner-Hulk sets out to make up for all the chaos and destruction caused by the temper tantrums of his previous incarnation. The world forgives him in Amnesty, he helps the Avengers defeat the Leader’s mad schemes in Time-Lost, and he fights for the White Hats in the Beyonder’s Secret Wars campaign. Unfortunately for Banner, in a truly Shakespearian twist, his hold over the Hulk was not meant to last. The storyline, Regression, follows the doctor’s tragic descent into madness and ultimately his transformation into his next incarnation. The most dangerous incarnation of all!
Savage Hulk (1984-1986) – Next to the Maestro, this is truly the scariest incarnation of the mighty Gamma-powered monster, a mindless Hulk with absolutely no Banner influence to keep him in check, a Hulk whose sole purpose is to destroy and smash anything and anybody that crosses his path. This Savage Hulk was so out of control that not even Earth’s Mightiest Heroes could keep him in check (see Incredible Hulk #300), so they banished him to the Crossroads, a mystical realm with countless paths that lead to countless worlds but none that will lead him home. With the Beyonder’s help (and John Byrne), the Jade Giant returns to Earth angrier and more out of control than ever. Bruce Banner is actually separated from the Hulk making the monster even more dangerous than ever. It takes the combined effort of Doc Samson, the Hulkbusters, and ultimately all the Avengers to slow down and finally stop the monster’s rampage which demolished half of New Mexico. In order to save both their lives, for one cannot exist without the other, Bruce Banner was forced to reinsert himself into the Hulk. However, as things tend to do in these cases, something goes wrong and a new incarnation of the Hulk is born. Or rather, an Original!
Grey Hulk (1986-1991) – This new grey-skinned Hulk could not have been more different than his previous incarnation. Though he wasn’t as strong as the Hulk-Smash Hulk, he was smarter, more cunning, and more ruthless. This Hulk actually took pleasure in breaking bones and smashing others. During his reign, the Grey Hulk crossed swords with X-Factor, renewed his rivalries with Wolverine and Thing, and embarked on one of the greatest Hulk adventures, Ground Zero. He became an enforcer for the mob in Vegas known as Mr. Fixit and a member of the New Fantastic Four. He even reunited with his pals the original Defenders, twice (see Strange Matters and Return of the Defenders). The Grey Hulk feared only one thing, the return of the Savage Hulk. Doc Samson, a psychiatrist by trade, sits down with Bruce Banner to try and find out just why the Incredible Hulk is so angry. They have a breakthrough, and a NEW Hulk is born.
New Hulk (1991-1996) – This new Hulk was not Banner, he was not Hulk, he was both. Just imagine, a Hulk with all the brilliance and all the limitless strength. Just imagine what he could accomplish. During this new era for the Jade Giant, he truly became a champion for justice. He fought beside the heroes of Earth against the Mad Titan and the nigh omnipotent power of the Infinity Gauntlet. He joins the top secret super team The Pantheon. He helped X-Factor stop World War III in War and Peace. He faces down his greatest enemy and greatest tragedy in Ghost of the Past. He helps the Avengers stop the mad schemes of the Red Skull and the Juggernaut. He storms the gates of Asgard in Myth Conceptions. And, he is the best man at the wedding of his best friend, Rick Jones. This was truly a renaissance time for the Green Goliath. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and Ghosts of the Future and an Onslaught would signal yet another change for the strongest one there is.
Bannerless-Hulk (1996)/Heroes Reborn Hulk (1996) – Now, this year saw a truly unique change for the Hulk. During the battle against Onslaught, Banner was once again split from the Hulk. In the pocket dimension of Heroes Reborn, Banner was once again transformed into the Childlike-Hulk. Meanwhile, back in the 616, a Bannerless-Hulk wondered the earth aimless, listless, and without any real direction. Even worse, he was dying. As we have already learned, Banner cannot live separate from the Hulk and the Hulk cannot live without Banner. So, upon the Heroes Return, Banner, the Childlike-Hulk, and the Bannerless Hulk were all merged to form a new incarnation of the Monster.
Planet Hulk/World War Hulk (2006-2008) – Once again the heroes would betray the Hulk and deem him too dangerous to walk amongst them. The Illuminati trick the Jade Giant and exile him into deep space, but he is blown off course and through a vortex. On the other side he crash-lands on a mysterious and alien world. Weakened by his ordeal, the Hulk is enslaved and forced to fight for his life inside an arena vs. other monsters. Soon, his strength returns and the Hulk leads a rebellion against the mad Red King, and wins. Now, happy and content, the Hulk will live out his days in peace on this new world. But an explosion takes away from him his bride and unborn child and once again his ire turns toward those that betrayed him – the heroes of Earth. This incarnation of the Hulk is a veteran of war and a leader of an army. He is also madder than the Hulk has ever been before, and as we know, the madder the Hulk gets, the stronger the Hulk gets. Well, he is so strong at this point that he utterly defeats the heroes of Earth and his epic showdown with the uber powerful Sentry threatens to break the world in half! Literally.
Doc Green (2014-2015) – The aftermath of the Who Shot Bruce Banner? Mystery left us yet another new incarnation of the Hulk – Doc Green. Now on the surface, this incarnation looks and sounds a lot like the New Hulk incarnation. He has all of Bruce Banner’s genius and all of the Hulk’s limitless strength. However, unlike the heroic New Hulk incarnation, Doc Green is more of a renegade, a maverick with a mysterious agenda that will leave the future of the Hulk Family and the landscape of the Marvel Universe forever changed. The Hulk Family: She-Hulk, Red Hulk, Red She Hulk, Skaar, Doc Samson, Lyra, and A-Bomb.
The Maestro (???) – This, unfortunately, is the Hulk’s future incarnation. After an atomic war leaves most of the Earth’s population dead and the heroes of the world dead or gone, the Hulk has absorbed so much radiation that he has become mad, malevolent, and ruthless. He rules a dystopian wasteland with an iron fist and destroys any and all who would dare challenge his power. The origins of this incarnation come from the pages of The Last Avengers Story where the Hulk betrays his teammates in the midst of a battle with Ultron. Somewhere down the road, this sinister incarnation takes pleasure in tormenting his old sparring partner Old Man Logan. Ultimately, it’s the New Hulk that must travel to the future to deal with his evil future self in the Future Imperfect adventure.
These are not alternate realities, What Ifs, or Elseworlds versions of the Green Goliath, these are all the Hulk. What does the future hold for the Jade Giant? What incarnation can the House of Ideas possibly come up with to top the ones before it? Perhaps the greatest incarnation of the Hulk is yet to be seen? Only time will tell. And, if Peter David and Dale Keown’s classic tale Hulk: The End taught us anything, it’s that time is always on the Hulk’s side.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
Greetings from the Odinson,
Everyone has their favorite villains, from A-list evil-doers like Lex Luthor and Doctor Doom to street level crooks like Bullseye and the Riddler. The Odinson could never resist an issue that features a hero battling Deathstroke, Absorbing Man, Juggernaut, Deadshot, or Galactus. This brings me to a quartet of strong men who I simply can’t get enough of - The Wrecking Crew.
The Wrecking Crew are the everyman super villains. They are Blue Collar bad guys that do a day of dishonest work for dishonest pay. They gladly get their hands dirty so White Collar bad guys like the Wizard and Mandarin don’t have to. The Wrecking Crew are professional henchmen who specialize in demolition, robbery, and good ole fashion arm-breaking. They are the muscle.
Their leader, Dirk Garthwaite was the son of a construction worker who was an abusive father. Years later, small time hood Dirk was imbued with Asgardian magic and became the powerhouse known as the Wrecker. After being defeated by Thor, while in jail, Dirk befriended Dr. Eliot Franklin, Brian Philip Calusky, and Henry Camp. Using his crowbar, the magical conduit for his power, he divided his divine might evenly among the four of them. Armed with a wrecking ball, Eliot took to calling himself Thunderball. Calusky and Camp became Piledriver and Bulldozer respectfully. These beefy bad guys have gone on to make a career of becoming a thorn in the side of the Thunder God and his allies the Avengers.
These aren’t just one dimensional strong guys. Each one of them has an agenda. There is in-fighting, there is friendship, and there is betrayal among them. Thunderball is a scientist whose knowledge in Gamma radiation is rivaled only by guys like Otto Octavius and Bruce Banner. All of them have super human strength on par with the strongest heroes.
The Odinson’s Top 10 Wrecking Crew Tales
10 - Thor #304 – Nothing too special about this issue except that it’s a good ole fashioned super hero/villain slugfest as the Mighty Thor takes on the Wrecking Crew in a no-holds-barred tussle.
9 - Lionheart of Avalon - In this five-part storyline, not only are we introduced to the new Captain Britain, but the Avengers do the one thing they never should. They underestimate the Wrecking Crew. It’s a big mistake that may cost them dearly.
8 – Amazing Spider-Man #248 – Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man has his hands full when he takes on the powerhouse brains of the Crew – Thunderball!
6 - Spectacular Spider-Man #125-126 – Spider-Man teams up with Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter), the Spider-Woman who emerged from the first Secret Wars and later joined Freedom Force and Force Works, to take on the Wrecking Crew. Even though the two arachnid heroes are over matched they still find a way to triumph.
5 – Hulk: Let Battle Begin – In this bone-breaking tale, the Crew take a shot at the title as they challenge the undisputed strongest one there is – the Incredible Hulk!
4 – Iron Fist #11-12 – In this kung fu classic, the immortal power of the Iron Fist is put to the test by the Asgardian might of the Wrecking Crew.
3 – Thor #148-149 – First appearance of the Wrecker. Empowered with Asgardian magic by Karnilla the Norn Queen, small time hood Dirk Garthwaite becomes the powerhouse known as the Wrecker. Can even the Mighty Thor standalone against his evil half-brother Loki and this new menace?
2 – Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars – In the Grand Daddy of Big Events, the Wrecking Crew stand out in a tale that includes all of Marvel’s heavyweights. They provide the villain army with enough beefy muscle to take on the Marvel U’s mightiest heroes.
1 - Avengers: Under Siege – In this harrowing tale, the Wrecking Crew, as members of Baron Zemo’s ultimate Masters of Evil, actually pull off the impossible. They defeat the Avengers and take over Avengers Mansion. Using diabolical planning, the Masters of Evil separate Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, capture Captain America and the Black Knight, trap Captain Marvel (Photon) in the Dark Dimension, mercilessly beat Jarvis to within an inch of his life, and beat the mighty Hercules into a coma. This is easily a Top 5 Avengers story of All-Time and the repercussions of this tale can be felt for months to come, especially when the gods seek revenge in Assault on Olympus. A few years later, a few members of this incarnation of the masters of Evil resurface masquerading as the super team known as the Thunderbolts.
Next to Doctor Doom and Mephisto, the Wrecking Crew have probably racked up more victories over heroes in the Marvel U than other so called super villains. They may have made names for themselves as musclebound henchmen and brawlers, but make no mistake, the Wrecking Crew is not a group of villains to be underestimated. In the pages of Green Lantern, DC Comics tried to recreate the magic of the Wrecking Crew with their own version called The Demolition Team. However, nothing beats the original.
The Wrecking Crew are, hands down, the Odinson’s favorite Blue Collar bad guys.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell.
Greetings from the Odinson,
This is a very happy and exciting time for the Odinson. IDW announced at San Diego Comic Con 2015 that one of their projects for 2016 will be none other than (cue trumpets) ROM Spaceknight!!! (See the ICV2 article HERE). Anyone who has followed So Sayeth the Odinson for any length of time knows what a huge ROM fan the Odinson is. I do an annual column celebrating the character, his adventures, and pining for his return (see 2015’s installment HERE). Now fingers crossed, I am hoping this is new material, but I am 100% OK with it being part of IDW’s beautiful series of Artist’s Edition books. Either prospect could pave the way for some sorely long overdue HC and TPB collections of the greatest spaceknight’s original series. Bravo IDW! Bravo!
I don’t know how I could possibly follow up that exciting bit of news, but I’ll give it a shot.
Due to copyrights disputes (even though the great Bill Mantlo and Marvel built much of the mythology surrounding ROM in the comics, he was originally a toy from Parker Brothers) ROM has been in a sort of limbo now for thirty years. He’s been in EXILE!
The harrowing tale of the Exile is one of the oldest parables in the book. It goes all the way back to the dawn of mankind. Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden of Eden. It has played a role throughout human history. Napoleon was exiled to the island of Saint Helena. And, it has played a role in popular fiction. In The Count of Monte Cristo, after being betrayed by a friend, Edmond Dantes is exiled to the island prison – Chateau d’If.
The plight of the exiled can make for great pathos and entertaining storytelling. A journey is taken and at the end that journey the exiled is usually not in the same place he/she was in the beginning, both physically and figuratively. Some of the best character arcs in the history of storytelling are presented in the form of the Exile tale. And, some of the best modern day comic stories are Exile tales.
The Odinson’s Top 5 Exile Stories
5- Drizzt Do’Urden (Exile) – Among the cruel and sinister drow, Drizzt is an anomaly. The dark elves of the Underdark are a chaotic evil race of magic-users and cutthroats who worship chaos and disorder. Though the lavender-eyed Drizzt quickly rose through their ranks and became the finest swordsman in the kingdom, he did not share their sense of wickedness (see Homeland). He was declared a traitor and forced into exile. Out in the Underdark, a seemingly endless underground domain of caverns and catacombs, Drizzt learned to survive on his own by facing all the horrors and deadly ways to die the Underdark could throw at him. He did this even as his evil kin hunted and pursued him tenaciously. Eventually Drizzt would find his way to the surface world (see Sojourn). There he was met with fear and hatred at first but over the course of years he would become an honored ranger and one of the greatest heroes the Forgotten Realms have ever seen (see The Legend of Drizzt).
4 - The Thing (Battleworld) – In the aftermath of Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars, Ben Grimm discovered that he can transform from his rocky form to human at will. As the other heroes return to Earth, Grimm, wanting to learn the meaning of this, decides to stay behind on Battleword and embark on a sojourn. Along the way he faces many challenges, discovers love, and loss. He ultimately learns that his ability to transform is connected to the makeshift planet itself. So, as the integrity of the Beyonder’s patchwork world fades with the Beyonder’s influence, so too does Ben Grimm’s control over his transformations. To add insult to injury, when Ben Grimm does finally return to planet Earth from his self-imposed exile, he discovers that the woman he loves, Alicia Masters, is now in a romantic relationship with his friend, the Human Torch. The Thing’s exile is quite a journey that unfortunately for him ends in heartbreak (see Fantastic Four #276-277). But don’t worry, Aunt Petunia’s favorite nephew gets a chance to settle the score with that pesky Beyonder (see Secret Wars II #7 and Thing #30).
3 - Superman (Exile) – After Superman uncharacteristically executes three super powerful criminals (see Superman #22), tampers with Brainiac’s mind (see Superman #25), and his odd behavior while dressing up as Gangbuster (see Superman #27), the Man of Steel, fearing for the lives of those he protects, embarks on a self-imposed exile into deep space. Out in the void, the Last Son of Krypton will discover that there are many dangers and perils that even a Man of Tomorrow must fear. Learn how planet Earth gets along without its greatest champion (see Superman #31). Meanwhile, Superman faces the monstrous might of Mongul (see Superman #32). Probably the most important thing to come out of this storyline is the knowledge Kal-El gains about the history of his destroyed homeworld – Krypton. He discovers the Eradicator, an ancient Kryptonian artifact that will go on to play a major role in the Superman mythos for many years to come (see Adventures of Superman #455). Under the guiding hand of industry legend George Perez, Superman makes his triumphant return to planet Earth! His journey through space has left him changed. Wiser and more experienced than ever, the Man of Steel begins a new era of heroic greatness (see Action Comics #643).
2 - The Hulk (Crossroads) – Long before Planet Hulk there was this harrowing supernatural tale of the Jade Giant in exile. This was a story many months in the making. Bruce Banner finally gains control over the monstrous power of the Hulk and asks the world for forgiveness. They do and this new intelligent Hulk is hailed as a hero (see Incredible Hulk #278-279). For a while, this new Hulk was a valuable member of the super hero community. He even helps the Avengers save the world (see Incredible Hulk #283-284). However, the good times are fleeting as over the course of the story arc Regression, Banner’s control begins to wane.
The straw that breaks the camel’s back is his harrowing experience in the Secret Wars and the tampering of the dream demon – Nightmare (see Incredible Hulk #298-299). It all comes to a head in the pages of the epic Incredible Hulk #300. Banner has lost control and a rage-fueled Hulk is rampaging through New York City. The combined efforts of SHIELD, the Human Torch, Power Man and Iron Fist, and the Avengers can barely slow the monster down. It’s all Spider-Man and Daredevil can do just to keep bystanders safe. That’s when Doctor Strange shows up and uses his sorcery to exile the Jade Giant to the Crossroads, a mystical realm with many paths that lead to countless worlds but none of them lead home.
In this mystical realm, the Hulk is befriended by three spirit guides whom we discover are actually different aspects of Banner’s psyche. The Hulk embarks on many adventures and learns that in some realms, even the Jade Giant can be hurt and laid low. His vaunted strength and powers of survival are put to the test. The Hulk’s long exile is finally brought to an end when the Beyonder sends the beast home (See Incredible Hulk #312-313) much to the chagrin of Canada’s Premier Super Team (see Alpha Flight #28-29).
1 - The Hulk (Planet Hulk) – When the heroes of Earth, more specifically the Illuminati, decide that the Jade Giant has become too dangerous to roam free they trick him onto a spacecraft and exile him to deep space (see Planet Hulk Prelude). The Hulk’s ship gets knocked off course and passes through a vortex that saps the monster’s incredible strength. He crash-lands on the strange alien world of Skaar. There, in his weakened condition, the Hulk can bleed and be hurt.
He is enslaved by the natives and forced to fight alongside and against other monsters and captured aliens in an arena like a gladiator. The Hulk survives battle after battle winning the adoration of the crowd and the ire of the mad Red King. He bides his time, and his strength begins to return. After a contest against an enslaved Silver Surfer, the Hulk and his Warbound companions free the slaves of the arena and make their escape. What follows is one of the most epic and entertaining Hulk adventures of all time! Over the course of Greg Pak’s masterpiece the Hulk goes from exile to slave to gladiator to fugitive to leader to savior! He even manages to find true love along the way. Unfortunately for the Hulk, even in victory, a betrayal will leave him more heartbroken and more enraged than ever before. He swears revenge on those that exiled him. His return to Earth and his vengeance is carried out in the pages of World War Hulk, a campaign that nearly shakes the Marvel Universe apart.
The Odinson ranks Planet Hulk as the #1 Hulk story of all time!
Those are five fantastic tales about Exile. Sometimes a little time out is all a character needs to get his head right with ball. So, let the joyous celebration ring out across the land for it seems the exile of ROM Spaceknight from the forefront of pop culture is finally coming to an end in 2016! Once again, Bravo IDW! Bravo!
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
Greetings from the Odinson,
Super heroes are a brave and courageous lot. They are dropped into the category of SUPER because they can perform superhuman feats that a “normal” hero cannot. Sure the Lone Ranger and Tonto can track down the bandits that robbed the stagecoach, but can they deal with the menagerie of psychopaths that haunt the halls of Arkham Asylum? Doc Savage is the smartest, strongest, and most capable pulp hero, but can he leap a tall building in a single bound? Conan the Barbarian can cut down evil warlords and outwit sinister magic-users, but can he wield the mighty Mjolnir and call down the lightning? Captain Kirk, Tarzan, Michael Knight, these are all legendary heroes that can accomplish great deeds with the talents and courage they possess, but they do not fall into the category of SUPER hero.
Superman, the guy that puts the SUPER in super hero, is a being from another planet with powers and abilities far beyond those of normal men and women. He’s faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and he can fly! The Super Hero takes the great concept of the hero and amps up the level to eleven. This has been true all throughout history.
For every Jason or Odysseus there is a Hercules or Achilles. For every Robin Hood or Zorro there is a King Arthur or Merlin. For every James Bond or Van Helsing there is a Steve Austin or Buffy Summers. This is not to say that the daring feats of the heroes are unappreciated. 007 has saved democracy and the free world many times over and Abraham Van Helsing has matched wits against Dracula, the greatest super villain in history. It’s just super heroes like Steve Austin and Buffy Summers can do those things as well but they can also pick up a small car. It’s like the Falcon said about Captain America – “I do what he does, just slower.”
Now, the Odinson is not here to say the super hero is better than the “regular” hero. I am simply saying that super heroes are capable of so much more than the average protagonist. They can fly, breathe fire, run faster than a race car, turn people to stone with their gaze, etc. However, in spite of all these seemingly superior advantages over their less powerful counterparts, within the ranks of the super hero community, there are still those hapless few that just cannot seem to live up to the SUPER in super hero.
The Odinson’s Top 5 Inept Super Heroes
5 – Presto the Magician – When Albert and his friends go to the local amusement park and board the Dungeons and Dragons ride, they never dreamed they would be magically transported to a realm of might and magic. Gifted with powerful magic weapons by the diminutive Dungeon Master, this displaced group of teens becomes a force for good against the demon sorcerer, Venger, and the many-head indestructible dragon, Tiamat. Albert becomes Presto, the group’s resident wizard. However, his constant self-doubt and lack of confidence have detrimental effects on his ability to cast spells. If they need a ladder to escape an advancing horde of goblins, Presto pulls a plunger out of his hat. If they need a Pegasus or griffin to cross a yawning chasm, Presto pulls a chicken feather out of his hat. When it comes to the great magic-users of myth and legend, names like Merlin, Gandalf, Elminster, Raistlin, and Harry Potter are at the top of the list. Unfortunately, Presto’s name is all but an afterthought.
4 – Demolition Man – Dennis Dunphy started out as a wrestler in the UCWF, an organization for super human wrestling. He was given super human strength by the seedy Power Broker. He befriended the Thing and together they took down the underhanded UCWF and exposed the Power Brooker’s shady dealings (see Thing #28-36). After that he became the masked hero known as D-Man and was an erstwhile partner to Captain America. Unfortunately, as the years went by, fate did not smile upon Dunphy. Right out of the gate, there was no way to take this character serious. His costume was a cross between a wrestling outfit, the yellow costume worn by Daredevil, and the over-the-top pointy mask from the 80s worn by Wolverine. After an explosion, D-Man was rendered mute and mentally unstable. For a while he became the champion of the homeless. Then, his mental state eroding, Dunphy believed he was tracking down the Infinity Gems, but he was actually gathering together normal jewelry (See The Pulse). Demolition Man comically hit rock bottom when he was passed over by Jessica Jones and Luke Cage for the position of nanny for their new born baby. Completing his downward spiral, D-Man was shot by Sharon Carter and killed before he could murder the one man that had always stood by him, Steve Rogers (see Captain America #14).
NOTE: Dunphy doesn’t top my list because he has shown that when pushed he can be quite brave. He played a role in tracking Steve Rogers down after the Sentinel of Liberty had been stripped of the mantle of Captain America and helped him save the President (see Captain America #332, 336-344). And, he did heed the Avengers Assemble call when Earth’s Mightiest Heroes assembled en masse to take down Morgan LeFay.
3 – Dollar Bill – In the world of the Watchmen, Dollar Bill was a corporate masked hero who worked for the banks. He was one part security and one part mascot. As a member of the Minutemen, he helped rid the mean streets of crime. However, Dollar Bill met with a less than stellar end when during a bank robbery, his cape got stuck in the turn door of the bank and the crooks shot and killed him. The fall of this masked avenger proves the point that just because you look like a super hero does not mean that you are a super hero.
2 – The Immortal – This guy has super human strength, he can fly, he absolutely cannot die, and he has centuries of battle experience. With all those heavy-duty attributes, I would think this guy would be a real force to be reckoned with. After following the super hero soap opera that is Invincible for over a decade now, the Odinson has to ask – has the Immortal ever won a fight? In all my years of reading comics, I cannot recall a character as reportedly powerful as this guy is who gets his teeth kicked in as much. In Eight is Enough, he was powerless to stop his team, the Guardians of the Globe, from being slaughtered by a traitor. When he confronted that traitor in Perfect Strangers, his quest for revenge came to an abrupt halt as he was unceremoniously torn in half. Even in Friends, during Robot’s coup, the Immortal is left maimed and on the retreat with his family in tow. In fact, the only “victory” I can recall for the bearded blowhard is him fighting Allen the Alien to a standstill when Allen didn’t even realize he was in a fight (see Invincible #43). Throughout the 100+ issue run of Invincible so far, the vaunted Immortal has been far more bark than the bite.
1 – 90s Cartoon Wolverine – We all know that in the comics they don’t come any meaner or tougher than Wolverine. With his mutant healing factor, master combat skills, and unbreakable Adamantium bones and claws, Wolverine is easily one of the most feared combatants in any comic book universe. And, he is, without a doubt, one of the hardest characters to translate into the All-Ages format of children’s cartoons. This version of Logan shares all the attributes of his comic book counterpart, but he does not share his counterpart’s aptitude for stomping would be opponents into the dirt. Every single episode of the popular X-Men Animated Series goes down the exact same way. Wolverine talks super tough, he pops his claws, and then he proceeds to take a beat down. Like the Immortal before him, I can’t recall the 90s Cartoon Wolverine ever actually winning a fight. I realize that we can’t very well have Wolverine slicing and dicing evildoers on a Saturday Morning cartoon, but due to the difficulty of adapting this character to the All-Ages medium, the 90s Cartoon Wolverine, even if by a technicality, tops my list of inept super heroes.
There they are, folks, the Hopeless League of Justice, the most inept, incompetent, hapless bunch of super heroes to ever save the day.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
Greetings from the Odinson,
I hope everyone had a great 4th of July Weekend. When I think about this holiday I think about America winning its independence, I think about family and friends, barbeque, fireworks, and I think about Captain America. On the Odinson’s Mount Rushmore of All-Time favorite comic heroes there’s Superman, Thor, ROM Spaceknight, and there’s Captain America.
Steve Rogers is my hero. Sure, he is enhanced by a little super soldier serum, a magical concoction that lets him run the mile in under a minute and bench press a car, but at his core, Steve Rogers is just a man, a man who walks shoulder-and-shoulder alongside gods. He is a good man, a brave man, and a leader of men who inspires those around him to be more than they ever thought they could be, to be better. That’s the secret of Captain America. Captain America is not the representation of what America is, he is the inspiration of what America and Americans can be.
He leads by example. He’s strong, brave, stalwart, and always tries to do the right thing even when and especially if it’s the most difficult path to travel. First and foremost he is a defender of peace and freedom, and there is no greater representation of this than his weapon of choice, Captain America’s invincible SHIELD.
It is a part of him. It’s practically an extension of his strong right arm. Captain America’s shield is every bit a partner in his crusade for justice as much as Bucky, Falcon, and the Avengers. His disc-shaped weapon of choice is made out of an as yet unduplicated Vibranium/Adamantium alloy which makes it nearly indestructible. Captain America’s mighty shield has withstood the bullets of Hydra, the technology of Doctor Doom, the Adamantium claws of Wolverine, and the monstrous fists of the Incredible Hulk. So, one can imagine the shock and horror the disturbing image of Cap’s broken shield induces.
Over the years, whenever the House of Ideas wants to really emphasize the severity or the Omega level threat of a situation, they illustrate this by depicting the destruction of Captain America’s invincible shield.
Top 5 Times Captain America’s Shield has Been Destroyed
5 – To Serve and Protect – Just days after returning from his exile in the Heroes Reborn Universe, Captain America is faced with a choice, save a life or save his shield. There is no choice for Captain America. He saves the woman from drowning and his trusted shield is lost to the dark, cold depths of the Atlantic Ocean (see Captain America #2). Rogers moves forward with his original World War II Shield, but it is soon dispatched by the mighty hands of a Kree insurgent (see Live Kree or Die). During the American Nightmare campaign, Cap is armed by Agent 13 with a new super cool energy shield, which he still uses from time-to-time to this day. It is during Red Glare that Iron Man informs the Sentinel of Liberty of the fate of his lost friend. Tony Stark opens a briefcase and presents Cap with his lost shield, shattered into hundreds of little pieces. It all comes to a head in the harrowing adventure, Sacrifice Play, as Captain America races against the clock to return his shattered shield to the African nation of Wakanda. It’s a nail-biting finish as the fate of the world depends on the fate of Cap’s shield.
4 – Fear Itself – When the Red Skull’s maniacal daughter, Sin, awakens an ancient god long forgotten, she unleashes a threat to the world that not only threatens mankind but the immortal Asgardians as well. The Serpent, a fallen Skyfather whose power rivals Odin himself, walks the earth once more. He recruits warriors to his cause, a cadre of the world’s mightiest heroes and villains. These mortals are granted immortality and their souls are usurped by spirits of chaos and destruction. Attuma, Grey Gargoyle, Absorbing Man and Titania, the Thing and Hulk, and Juggernaut are transformed into Nerkkod: Breaker of Oceans, Mokk: Breaker of Faith, Greithoth: Breaker of Wills and Skirn: Breaker of Men, Angrir: Breaker of Souls and Nul: Breaker of Worlds, and Kulrth: Breaker of Stone. They are armed with hammers and sent out to destroy mankind. During this epic campaign, the Serpent demonstrates his immense unearthly power by shattering the shield up Captain America (See Fear Itself #6). This illustrates just what a symbol of hope Cap’s shield represents as the act devastates the morale of Earth’s heroes.
3 – Age of Ultron – Ultron is one of the greatest threats to mankind in any comic book universe. Every time this killer robot returns it is deadlier than the last. This last time proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. When the tale begins the final battle has already been decided. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are defeated and in full retreat. Their heaviest hitters - Hulk and Thor - have been slain. And, Captain America’s spirit is as broken as his invincible shield. Once again, the symbolism of Cap’s broken shield is a metaphor for the broken spirit of our hero, and as Cap’s confidence goes, so too does that of our heroes.
2 – Infinity Gauntlet – The surviving heroes of Earth throw everything they have at the Mad Titan. But Thanos is empowered by the Infinity Gauntlet and his power is absolute. Cyclops, Vision, She-Hulk, and the Sub-Mariner, even Hulk and Thor, one by one they all fall before the villain’s unparalleled might. Until only one hero remains standing – Captain America. If the sight of the slaughter of his allies fazes him, he does not show it. Calmly, bravely, Captain America strides up to the malevolent god, looks him in the eye and tells him that as long as he remains standing, Thanos has not won. In a fit of rage, Thanos brings his massive fist down and shatters Captain America’s shield. And though the ploy to distract Thanos long enough for the Silver Surfer to snatch the Gauntlet away from him failed, in the end, what is not lost in that moment is the unwavering, unyielding courage of Captain America in the face of certain death.
1 – Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars – In the penultimate issue of this epic adventure, the heroes have voted to oppose Doom and his new found omnipotence. The heroes are punished when Doom sends a devastating bolt from out of the blue, a divine punishment that reduces their massive headquarters to rubble and leaves them in a scattered heap of broken bodies and liquefied remains. As the next issue begins, like some kind of metaphoric grave marker, the only thing left to show that they were ever there is the broken shield of Captain America. This was the first time that I can recall ever seeing Cap’s shield destroyed, and to a young Odinson, this sight was utterly devastating. Leading up to that moment and ever since, I have always thought of Captain America’s shield, like the man himself, as indestructible.
Ever since Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars, whenever Marvel Comics wants to illustrate just how severe a threat is, or they want to shake the confidence of our hero and those that he inspires, they somehow incorporate the destruction of Captain America’s invincible shield. It is truly a powerful image, but to all those that would ever doubt the stalwart and courageous mission of Captain America and his mighty shield, I leave thee with the opening lyrics to his classic 1960s theme song.
"When Captain America throws his mighty shield, all those who chose to oppose his shield must yield…!”
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
Greetings from the Odinson,
Once upon a time, Norrin Radd was a mortal man. He was the greatest scientist on the far off world of Zenn-La, and he was in love with a beautiful woman named Shalla Bal. However, his homeworld faced Armageddon on the day that Galactus, Devourer of Worlds, appeared in the skies above. In order to save his people and the woman he loved, Norrin Radd sacrificed his mortal life and made a deal with the cosmic titan, he would become his herald and seek out worlds for him to consume as long as he would spare Zenn-La this fate. Galactus accepted. He took the mortal, Norrin Radd, in his monstrous grip, bestowed upon him the Power Cosmic, and when he opened his hand the Silver Surfer was born.
The Marvel Universe and the readers were introduced to the Silver Surfer and his titanic master in the classic tale The Coming of Galactus by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, originally in Fantastic Four #48-50. The Surfer has led the Devourer of Worlds to planet Earth. After interacting with the Thing’s blind girlfriend, Alicia Masters, the girl’s innate innocence awakens the noble heart that resides in Norrin Radd’s silvery chest (more on that in a bit) and the Silver Surfer turns on his master. Galactus is thwarted. However, because of his betrayal, the Silver Surfer is exiled by Galactus to planet Earth and forbidden to ever again soar the cosmic spaceways. An impenetrable invisible barrier is erected around Earth and prevents even the Silver Surfer from escaping.
For years, the former Herald of Galactus explored his new home and pondered the mortal coil. He once again got in touch with his noble side and the stalwart heart of a champion was awakened. During his earthbound adventures, the Silver Surfer was introduced to and confronted the likes of Mephisto, Thor, the Stranger, and Spider-Man. He also joined Doctor Strange, the Hulk, and Sub-Mariner to form the Defenders, one of the mightiest super teams in the history of comics. However, even though he did a lot of noble and good deeds while trapped on the mortal plane, the Silver Surfer longed to return to the cosmos. He missed the stars, he missed his homeworld, and he missed his beloved, Shalla Bal.
This brings us to one of the most important chapters of not only the Silver Surfer’s story but of Marvel History itself - Silver Surfer (1987-1998 2nd Series).
This series played a huge role in the forging of what we know today as the cosmic mythos of the Marvel Universe. Along with the adventures of Captain Marvel, The Kree/Skrull War, and The Dark Phoenix Saga, the Silver Surfer’s 2nd solo series helped lay the foundation for modern galactic tales like Annihilation, War of Kings, and the Guardians of the Galaxy.
The Silver Surfer’s 2nd solo series was launched by writer Steve Englehart (The Avengers/Defenders War, Doctor Strange: A Separate Reality) and artist Marshall Rogers (Batman, Deadly Hands of Kung Fu). Originally, the story that appears in Marvel Fanfare #51 was slated to be the first issue. However, when the Powers that be at Marvel comics allowed writer Steve Englehart to lift the Surfer's exile on Earth, this issue was shelved and a brand new Silver Surfer #1 was written.
In this tale guest-starring the Fantastic Four, the Surfer and his friends discover a way for him to bypass the decree of Galactus and escape the Earth. However, knowing that he must face his former master if he is to truly be free, the Surfer seeks out the Devourer of Worlds. The cosmic titan is displeased, but he has other concerns on his mind. His current herald, Nova, is being held captive. The Surfer uses his unearthly speed and cunning to rescue Nova. Galactus begrudgingly rewards the Surfer’s act of kindness and sets him free. Once more the Silver Surfer is free to roam the boundless cosmos, and that is just the first issue. Over the course of the next nearly 150 issues, the readers see the cosmic corners of the Marvel Universe through the eyes of the Silver Surfer.
The Surfer and the enigmatic Mantis foil a plot by the Elders of the Universe to destroy Galactus (Silver Surfer #3-10). The Surfer takes Nova under his wing and teaches her about the dangers and perils of the galaxy (Silver Surfer #11-14). The Silver Surfer is a major player during the second Kree/Skrull War (Silver Surfer #25-31). He assembles all the former Heralds of Galactus to take down a murderous madman who possesses the Power Cosmic, a campaign that sees the death of a major player (Silver Surfer #70-75). He teams up with allies and enemies to stop a mad thunder god (see Blood and Thunder). He finally returns to the arms of his beloved Shalla Bal with varying results (Silver Surfer #2, 91-92, and 101). He faces the diabolical temptations of his greatest adversary (Silver Surfer #93-100). Plus, industry legend George Perez takes the Sentinel of the Spaceways to the edge of the universe and beyond (Silver Surfer #111-122)!
However, the biggest contribution by this series is The Rebirth of Thanos!
In a previous Campaign, the Mad Titan had met his demise. For years the Marvel Universe was free of his evil. That is until the cosmic entity Death revived the villain and charged him with a quest to destroy half the universe’s population. This novel-length cosmic epic is so grand in scope that it can be broken down into seven chapters.
Chapter 1: The Rebirth of Thanos – After witnessing the Mad Titan’s resurrection, the Silver Surfer is treated to the obligatory super villain speech. Not only does Thanos arrogantly tell the former Herald of Galactus his devious plan, but informs him that there is nothing he can do about it. And, before the Surfer can stop him, Thanos is gone.
Chapter 2: The Thanos Quest – Knowing that to complete his beloved Death’s request to murder half the universe’s population will take several life times, Thanos decides to speed up the process by assembling the Soul Gems, artifacts of unimaginable power. Each gem represents a different aspect of universal control – space, time, soul, power, the mind, and reality. In order to obtain these treasures, the Mad Titan must overpower, outsmart, and outmaneuver the most dangerous beings in the cosmos – the Elders of the Universe.
Chapter 3: The Infinity Gauntlet – Having completed his quest, Thanos forges the Infinity Gauntlet, a cosmic weapon that transforms its bearer into a god! The Silver Surfer and Drax the Destroyer confront Thanos but are easily defeated, and only through the help of the enigmatic Adam Warlock is the Surfer able to flee and warn Earth’s heroes (Silver Surfer #44-50). With a snap of his fingers, Thanos wipes out half the population of the universe. What follows, as the heroes of Earth and cosmic titans of the Marvel Universe assemble to confront Thanos, is the most epic battle ever seen in the history of comics! NOTE: One of the most important tales in the development of the character of the Norrin Radd takes place in Silver Surfer #48. This issue explains how such a noble creature like the Silver Surfer could ever be responsible for the countless deaths he caused as the Herald of Galactus. The answer is shocking and threatens to destroy the Surfer’s sanity forever.
Chapter 4: Aftermath – The mysterious Adam Warlock is now in possession of the nigh omnipotent power of the Infinity Gauntlet. In order to be an unbiased deity, his first act is to purge all good and evil from his soul (more on that in moment). Knowing that no mortal dare possess the power of a god, Warlock distributes the gems among his allies in the Infinity Watch and a mysterious protector.
Chapter 5: Infinity War – Adam Warlock’s evil personification, a cruel being known as the Magus, returns with a vengeance and threatens to destroy all reality with his latest scheme.
Chapter 6: Infinity Crusade – Remember when Adam Warlock removed the good from his soul. Well, that essence returns as the benevolent Goddess, and the Marvel Universe will learn that absolute good can sometimes be just as bad as absolute evil, especially when free will is subjugated.
Chapter 7: The Legacy – To this day, with tales like Marvel: The End, Thanos Imperative, Infinity, and The Infinity Saga, Thanos has gone on to become the Marvel U’s ultimate Big Bad. This epic tale from the pages of Silver Surfer and the Infinity Books not only rocked the Marvel Universe to its core, but it is easily one of the most important and most influential tales in Marvel History. This is the story that inspired the upcoming 2-part movie Avengers: Infinity War!
Silver Surfer (1987-1998 2nd Series) and the Infinity Books also saw the rise and development of a talented artist named Ron Lim. From his first pages in Silver Surfer #15 to his handoff from George Perez in Infinity Gauntlet to Infinity Crusade, the reader can actually see Lim’s storytelling improve and his art style take leaps and bounds from his early days penciling the post-Apocalyptic adventures of the Ex-Mutants.
In Guardians of the Galaxy #24-25, in a tale set many centuries into the future, we learn the ultimate fate of the Silver Surfer. Norrin Radd’s story comes full circle as he embraces his cosmic role in the universe. His Power Cosmic amplified by the Quantum Bands becomes the source of nourishment for the eternal hunger of his former master. Side-by-side, Galactus and the Silver Surfer walk off into eternity and the Devourer of Worlds will never destroy another planet again.
Norrin Radd, the Silver Surfer, the wielder of the Power Cosmic, this Stan Lee/Jack Kirby creation is one of the most courageous heroes to ever come out of the House of Ideas and is one of the most iconic and important cosmic characters in the history of comic books.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell