So Sayeth the Odinson — with Michael Breakfield

  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: A Retrospective

    Greetings from the Odinson,


    I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Now, we proceed into the Holiday Season, Christmas Time, and the Yuletide.  With the return of Christmas comes Christmas memories.  Everyone has Christmas memories.  Those wonderful Holiday moments that stick out in the mind’s eye and bring back happy times, especially from childhood. Well, the Odinson has a very, very fond memory from his childhood from Christmas morning 1982.  On that magical morning, one little boy’s dreams were made a reality.


    Earlier that year, Mattel debuted a new toyline called Masters of the Universe.  I already had the main hero He-Man, his arch foe Skeletor, and Skeletor’s henchman, Beastman.  So, needless to say, for that Christmas, I wished for them all.  It was a truly magical morning for the very young Odinson as gift after gift revealed a new Masters of the Universe action figure.  Teela, Stratos, Mer-Man, Zodac, Battle-Cat, Santa had delivered unto me the entire First Wave of the toyline, but the best was yet to come.  Under the Christmas tree, way in the back sat the biggest surprise of them all.  It was the biggest present under the tree that year.  My mind could hardly believe what was unfolding before me as my little hands tore away the wrapping to reveal the most glorious sight a young Odinson had ever beheld – the Castle Grayskull playset!  


    Thus began the Odinson’s lifelong love for Masters of the Universe and its mythology.  It is a mythology rich with fantasy, science fiction, and adventure.  Its tales of might and magic also include lessons about right and wrong.  This is the story about the Masters of the Universe through the eyes of the Odinson.


    He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: A Retrospective


    The Toys (1982-1988) – In the early 1980s, Mattel wanted to produce a new toyline for boys, something akin to the Star Wars toyline that was exploding at the time.  It had to be a toyline that included action figures with accessories and vehicles.  Originally, they were going to base this toyline on the Conan the Barbarian franchise, but as development proceeded, it became its own entity.  Each action figure stood 5 ½-in. tall and came with their own unique weapons and accessories.  Though the functionality of the figures were pretty simplistic with very little articulation (something that actually made them pretty durable), the unique character designs and the backstories created for the toys captured the imagination of a generation.  Plus, every single action figure was packaged with its very own minicomic!         


    The Mini Comics (1982-1988) – These mini comics are where the mythology of He-Man was ironed out.  In the beginning, the stories had more of a fantasy quality to them as they were still rooted in their Conan origins.  However, it wasn’t long before more science fiction elements made their way into the stories making the Masters of the Universe a perfect mash-up of fantasy and science fiction.  Some of the differences from the early minicomics and the later mythologies included He-Man being more barbaric (see He-Man and the Power Sword) and the mysterious connection between the Sorceress and Teela and why they look almost identical (see The Tale of Teela) to name a couple.  These mini comics, especially the early ones, featured absolutely beautiful artwork by classic artists like Alfredo Alcala and gave young up-and-coming artists like Mark Texeira (Wolverine) and Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series) a chance to hone their craft. 


    DC Comics (1982) and Marvel Comics (1986-1988) – After the success of the First Wave of the toyline, Mattel struck a deal with DC Comics to produce some main stream comics featuring their characters.  The first appearance of the Masters of the Universe in the DCU happened in 1982 in the pages of Superman’s team-up book DC Comics Presents #47.  Here, the Man of Steel is introduced to a cast of new heroes and villains that live on the far off world of Eternia.  Later that same year, DC produced the Masters of the Universe Mini-Series and gave these colorful characters even more depth.  It is here that we are first introduced to He-Man’s alter-ego, Prince Adam.  The DC comics were still more closely related to He-Man’s early origins established in the minicomics.  A few years later, in 1986, Marvel Comics used its All-Ages line Star Comics to tell Masters of the Universe tales more closely related to the animated series and used the fully realized mythology established by the show.    


    The Filmation Cartoon (1983-1985) – I can remember getting off the bus after school and sprinting all the way home because I would be beside myself if I missed the epic intro to this much beloved animated series.  This is probably the outlet by which most people know about the He-Man franchise, and it all began with that magical moment Prince Adam holds aloft his magic sword and says – BY THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL!  This series introduced a wide array of characters, and it totally fleshed out the storylines surrounding the Masters and the worlds they live in.  Though a lot of the animation is stock footage reused many times over, the writing and action of the episodes still hold up to this day.  Also, most episodes ended with a PSA that taught kids watching the show valuable lessons in right and wrong.  He-man’s animated series also had an animated movie – The Secret of the Sword - that played in theatres which led into the spin-off TV series - She-Ra: The Princess of Power.


    The Movie (1987) – At the height of his popularity, He-Man was turned into a live action feature length film.  Though at first this movie was much lambasted, time has shown this film to be highly underrated.  Yes, some of the special FX are dated, but for what it is, a small budget movie trying to be a big budget blockbuster, it’s pretty darn good.  Though his monotone delivery leaves something to be desired, I can’t imagine a more physically perfect match for He-Man than six-foot five-inch Dolph Lundgren.  Meg Foster is picture perfect as Evil-Lynn.  However, the true gold of this piece is the magnificent portrayal of Skeletor by the unparalleled Frank Langella.  If you have not seen this film in a while, revisit it.  It’s not as bad as you may think.       


    The New Adventures of He-Man (1990) – In the early 90s, the Powers that Be decided He-Man, his friends, and enemies needed a makeover.  It came in the form of a brand new cartoon with a brand new take on the mythology.  There’s not much the Odinson can tell you about this ill-fated reimagining for I have not watched a single episode.


    The Revival (2002-2004) – As the New Millennium dawned and the children of the 80s entered adulthood, nostalgia for what came before exploded back onto the pop culture landscape.  Properties like Transformers, GI Joe, Battle of the Planets, and ThunderCats were seeing a resurgence of popularity, and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe were along for the ride.  This revival included a brand new animated series on Cartoon Network, a pretty good updated take on the mythology.  Also, Image Comics and MVCreations produced some of the best Masters of the Universe comics to date with fantastic artwork and storylines that stayed true to the original concepts while also expanding upon them.  This includes the amazing Icons of Evil series which pulled the curtain back on the origins of some of He-Man’s most notorious foes.  


    Masters of the Universe Classics Toyline (2008-2015) – Mattel brought back the much beloved toyline with a New Millennial update.  These new Action Figures feature much more articulation and detail than the 80s originals and are absolutely beautiful collectibles.    


    DC Comics (2012-Present) – A few years later, DC Comics brought the Masters back into the fold.  From the first Mini Series to the Ongoing Series, the Origin Tales to DC Universe vs. the Masters of the Universe, DC has taken the He-Man legend to new heights of popularity and excitement.  And now, with The Eternity War, DC is producing not just a fantastic entry into the Masters of the Universe mythos, but an epic tale of Lord of the Rings proportions as He-man and his allies must face down the greatest threat the cosmos has ever seen.


    Masters of the Universe started out as a toyline for kids but it has become so much more than that.  The Masters of the Universe have become a Pop Culture Legend.  For a complete history on this magical pop culture phenomenon check out The Art of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Minicomic Collection.


    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell

  • What is the Odinson Reading in the Winter of 2015-2016?

    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 rich, and you’d walk away with a month’s worth of reading easy.  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 list of can’t miss titles that are well worth your time and money.    


    What is the Odinson Reading?


    Godzilla in Hell (IDW) – This is a visually stunning series.  The mighty leviathan, Godzilla, has finally been vanquished, but his journey is far from over.  This beautifully illustrated tale is one part Dante’s Inferno and part Masahi Tanaka’s Gon.  The King of Monsters awakens in the afterlife and sets out on an eye-opening journey through the many corridors, chambers, and levels of the NetherRealm.  By journey’s end, Godzilla will have faced foes the likes he has never seen before and come out the other side of it changed.  This is certainly a unique and original Godzilla story every fan can enjoy.     


    Hercules (Marvel) – Personally, I’ve always enjoyed the House of Idea’s take on the classic hero Hercules.  He’s brash, foolhardy, arrogant, funny, oh yeah, and more times than not he gets the job done.  All of this is on heavy display in Bob Layton’s classic Hercules Trilogy.  And even though he was part of one of the Odinson’s All-Time favorite and highly underrated Avengers runs (see Avengers #250-285), the mighty Prince of Power has become somewhat of a joke, and worse, an afterthought, in both the Marvel Universe and to readers.  Well, in this new series by Dan Abnett (Nova) and Luke Ross (Captain America), Hercules is back!  He’s clean and sober, and he’s ready to remind the world and the readers why he is the most legendary hero in history. 


    Invincible (Image) – Robert Kirkman’s other long-running series has always been a must read for the Odinson.  The writer and his partner in crime, artist Ryan Ottley, have built a rich super hero universe full of drama, romance, action, science fiction, and out-of-this-world, jaw-dropping scenes.  The current three issue storyline – Reboot? - gives the hero of the series, and the readers, a chance to revisit a pivotal moment in Invincible History.  How will things play out this time when Mark knows what lies ahead?  Will it all go down the same?  If you are behind or have never checked this series out get caught up with the Invincible Ultimate Collections.  Trust me, it’s worth your time. 


    Star Wars: Vader Down (Marvel) – This is Darth Vader at his absolute best, or worse, depending on which side of the crimson lightsaber you are on.  The Sith Lord finds himself marooned on a desolate world on the outer rim and the Rebel Forces plan to seize the moment and throw everything they have at the Empire’s most dangerous weapon.  Good luck.  Remember all those fantastic lines the Dark Lord said during the original trilogy that made him the most ominous, fear-evoking, and coolest villain in a galaxy far, far away?  A New Hope - “I find you lack of faith disturbing.”  The Empire Strikes Back – “Apology accepted, Captain Needa.”  Return of the Jedi – “Obi-Wan was wise to hide her from me.  Now his failure is complete.  If you will not turn to the Dark Side…then perhaps she will…”  Well, this new tale with lines like “Finally. A pilot worth killing…” and “All I am surrounded by is fear. And dead men…” adds to the list of quotes and the legend that is Darth Vader.   


    Superman: American Alien (DC Comics) – The Odinson cannot lie, I was extremely leery about this series when I first spotted it in Previews.  Many can relate to the following.  From comics like John Byrne’s Man of Steel and Mark Waid’s Birthright; from Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie to Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel; from the Super Friends cartoon to Superman: The Animated Series; from the TV series Adventures of Superman to Lois and Clark to Smallville; and countless other sources, I have seen the Last Son of Krypton’s origin a million times over and told from every point of view and observed from every possible angle imagined.  Or so I thought.  I was quite pleasantly surprised with Max Landis (Chronicle) and Nick Dragotta’s (Vengeance) take on the Man of Tomorrow’s formative years.  So impressed was I in fact that I can’t hardly wait until the next issue gets here so I can see them take me to more corners of Superman’s past with this fresh take on a classic origin.     


    The Ultimates (Marvel) – In the aftermath of Secret Wars, the 616 and the Ultimate Universe have merged.  This series is an extension of this.  The Black Panther, Monica Rambeau, the Blue Marvel, Captain Marvel, and Miss America have assembled to form one of the coolest Avengers line-ups we’ve seen since New Avengers launched in 2005.  Their base of operations is the super installation known as the Triskelion, Alpha Flight recruits are their protégés, and their mission statement is to tackle cosmic threats BEFORE they become a problem.  The first order of the day, they plan to take out the Devourer of Worlds himself – Galactus!  I’m sorry, but there is just something super cool about a proactive super team that steps up to the plate and says we’re going to take on the Marvel U’s biggest Big Bad.


    NOTE: Monica Rambeau is a highly underrated and much under used super hero.  Her power set is unique and cool and I’m a little shocked she’s never caught on as an A-Lister.  She was part of that same great Avengers run as Hercules (see Avengers 250-285).  Part of her problem is that she’s been called so many different names - Spectrum, Captain Marvel, Photon, Pulsar, Daystar, Sceptre, Lady of Light, Monica Marvel, Sun Goddess – that most readers don’t even probably know who she is or that all of these are the same person.


    Honorable Mentions (or Other Worthwhile Reading): Batman: Europa, Sam Wilson: Captain America, Justice League: The Darkseid War, Doctor Strange, and The Walking Dead.


    For children of the 90s, Sam Wilson: Captain America #3 has a nice surprise and call back – the return of Cap-Wolf!  I commented to a co-worker that Batman: Europa reads like an old school Batman tale.  He said it should, since it was conceived over ten years ago.  I’m sure there’s something there that could be explored further but the Odinson’s time runs short.


    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 10 Super Heroes on the Big Screen in the 1980s

    Greetings from the Odinson,


    This past Thursday, I got to enjoy once again Jean Claude Van Damme’s seminal action movie Bloodsport on the big screen at the Alamo Draft House in Dallas.  It is the semi-autobiographical story of real life martial artist Frank Dux and his foray into the Kumite, an underground full-contact martial arts tournament featuring the best fighters from across the globe, all competing to be pronounced the mightiest warrior in the world.  As I sat in my Grindhouse setting, enjoying my beverage, buffalo wings, and, of course, the classic kung fu on the screen in front of me, two thoughts came to my mind. 


    First, and many of you may already know this, but for those that do not, after Bloodsport was released in 1988, a group of video game designers approached the actor Jean Claude Van Damme and wanted to make an arcade game based on him and his unique fighting style.  However, halfway through the project, obligations took Van Damme away from the project.  Well, with the game already near completion, the designers proceeded without their inspiration and finished the game but gave it a fantasy backdrop.  We all know that game now as MORTAL KOMBAT.  Yes, it is no coincidence that the fan favorite character Johnny Cage bears a striking resemblance to a certain splits-performing martial artist from the movie Bloodsport.  


    My second thought was about the abundance of Super Heroes I grew up with on the Big Screen in the glorious decade of the 1980s.  Superman: The Movie in 1978 showed that comic book super heroes could be successful in Hollywood.  However, after the Man of Steel’s showdown with the Kryptonian super villains in 1980’s Superman II that franchise quickly became a satire of itself.  The comic book heroes wouldn’t rise to prominence again on the Big Screen until 1989’s Batman.  And though the roller coaster-like ups and downs of the comic super hero movies of the 90s may have left us a bit underwhelmed, with the launch of X-Men in 2000 to Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy to the current Marvel Cinematic Universe and into the future with Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War, fans everywhere are enjoying an overabundance of our comic book super heroes gracing the Big Screen and in very satisfying ways. 


    Even though our comic book heroes may not have graced us with eye-popping adventures during the 1980s, it was not a decade without Super Heroes.


    The Odinson’s Top 10 Super Heroes on the Big Screen in the 1980s


    10 – Tango and Cash – This devilishly handsome duo may not be Batman and Robin class, but they are certainly dynamic.  Complete opposites in personality, demeanor, and wardrobes, however when the best cop from Beverly Hills and the best cop from Downtown L.A. unite to take down the criminal cartel that framed them for murder, you can bet there will be explosions.  Lots of explosions.   


    9- John McClain “Come out to the west coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs…”  When a group of terrorists take over the Nakatomi Tower they planned for everything, the police, the hostages, their escape route, but there is one thing they did not plan for, a New York police detective visiting his estranged wife and kids for the holidays.  What follows is one the greatest Cat and Mouse games as our hero singlehandedly takes out the bad guys and saves the day in one of the most copied action romps in history.  Plus, Die Hard gave the fans the number one Christmas movie of All-Time!


    8 – Mad Max – As global war and economic disaster destroy society and usher in a post-Apocalyptic landscape, one man, a man with nothing left to lose, wanders out into the wastelands and does the only thing he can in such a hellish environment - survive.  In a world gone mad, a place where speed rules, and gangs of vicious thieves and murderers roam the wastelands, pillaging all who cross their paths, there is only one man tough enough and mean enough to survive alone, a man called Max the Road Warrior.


    7 – Gibson Rickenbacker – In yet another post-Apocalyptic world, a world where plague has robbed many of their humanity and countless more of their lives, pirates thrive in this world where only the strong survive.  A cyborg carries within her computer brain the secret to stopping the plague and ending the suffering.  However, she is in the clutches of the Pirate King and his small army of nigh super human thugs.  Only one man has the skills to save her and the world, a slinger named Gibs who must decide what is more important, saving the world or his revenge against the Pirate King that took everything from him. 


    6 – Dutch – He is the leader of an elite rescue team, a highly trained unit of Special Forces who make a living out of going into impossible situations and getting the job done.  There is no place on Earth they can’t survive.  However, on their last mission, they run into something out of this world.  They soon learn they are being stalked by the greatest hunter in the galaxy.  One-by-one they fall until only Dutch remains.  Using his Special Forces training, his iron will to survive, and a lot of luck, Dutch pulls off the impossible and defeats the deadly Predator in a one-on-one showdown!   


    5 – Ellen Ripley – Ripley is the lone survivor of the ill-fated Nostromo, a commercial vessel that was the first to encounter the deadliest creature in the galaxy, the Xenomorph.  She is recruited by the Weyland-Yutani Company to accompany a squad of Colonial Marines on a rescue mission back to the very same planet where the Nostromo first encountered the Alien.  As the elite marines one-by-one meet terrible ends, Ripley is the only one left standing to rescue a lost child, keep the monsters at bay, battle the Alien Queen, and get the survivors to safety before the planet’s surface goes nuclear.  Yeah, she’s that good.      


    4 – John Matrix – He was once the leader of the world’s foremost Special Forces unit.  Now he is retired and raising his daughter in seclusion.  However, when a former teammate betrays him and murders his team and an old foe kidnaps his daughter, Matrix races against the clock to rescue her.  The only thing standing in his way is a wise-cracking drug dealer, a deadly Green Baret assassin, his highly trained ex-partner, and an army of heavily armed loyalists.  The bad guys never stood a chance.  NOTE: Commando was co-written by longtime comic book scribe Jeph Loeb (Batman: The Long Halloween, Hulk).


    3 – John Rambo – Rambo is a Vietnam vet who was pushed too far by an overzealous sheriff and one small town paid the price.  Rambo is a Green Beret trained to win, period.  He’s a highly skilled combatant with knowledge of most weapons, a master in martial arts, a skilled pilot, a field medic, and quite possibly the most tenacious non-super powered survivor the world has ever seen.  Later, Rambo’s considerable skills were put to better use as he embarked on several suicide rescue missions.  From liberating Vietnam P.O.W.s to rescuing his former mentor from the Soviets to helping riverboat missionaries on the Thailand/Burma boarder, he pulled off every single one of them. 


    2 – Chuck Norris – The Odinson does not use a character name for the man himself has reached mythical status.  I could regale thee with tales of how he vanquished ninjas in The Octagon, how he silenced the Silent Rage of an invincible serial killer, how Lone Wolf McQuade kept the Texas borders safe from drug lords, his heroic exploits with the Karate Kommandos, or how his battle with Mr. T nearly broke the space/time continuum, but I’ll just sum Chuck Norris up with one word - Legend. 


    1 – Snake Plissken “President of what?”  In the not too distant future, the crime rate in America has risen so much that Manhattan Island has been turned into the sole maximum security prison where all criminals go.  It is surrounded by an electrified wall, mines inhabit the water around the island, and the United States Police Force is stationed around the island like an army.  Once you go in you never get back out.  The only inhabitants are the prisoners and the worlds they’ve made.  Problem is, the President’s plane just crash-landed in New York City.  The President is needed for a peace summit happening in twenty-four hours that could prevent World War III.  If the police move in, the inmates will kill the President.  There’s only one man in the world bad enough to pull this impossible rescue mission off.  He goes by the name Plissken, but you can call him Snake.    


    Honorable Mentions:  Tom Cody, Sarah Connor, Alex Rogan, “Bruce” Leroy Green, The Goonies, Jack Burton, Martin Riggs, and The Frog Brothers.  NOTE: Though she survived the T-800, Sarah Connor really didn’t reach super hero status until Terminator 2: Judgment Day in 1991.


    1980s Big Screen Super Hero Hall of Fame: Indiana Jones.


    So, though the Big Screen in the 80s was pretty devoid of comic book super heroes, and no, Howard the Duck does not count, it was not a decade without Super Heroes.


    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     


  • Great Rivalries in Comics History: Superman vs. the Flash

    Greetings from the Odinson,


    These debates have been going on since the beginning.  Who is stronger – Hulk or Thing?  Who is cooler – Batman or Wolverine?  Who is a better shot – Green Arrow or Hawkeye?  Marvel vs. DC!  Comic book history is thriving with great rivalries.  The Odinson began this series with Great Rivalries in Comics History: Hulk vs. Thing, but there is another question that has been debated by fanboys and girls for over fifty years now – Who is faster – the Man of Tomorrow or the Crimson Comet?   


    Great Rivalries in Comics History: Superman vs. the Flash


    Sent to planet Earth from a far off doomed world and granted super human abilities beyond those of mortal men, Clark Kent is faster than a speeding Bullet.  More powerful than a locomotive.  Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.  Look! Up in the sky!  It’s a bird!  It’s a plane! It’s Superman!  


    When police scientist Barry Allen was doused by a myriad of strange chemicals and simultaneously struck by lightning, this one-in-a-billion chance occurrence granted him super human speed.  Now, he fights injustice as the masked hero known as the Flash – the Fastest Man Alive! 


    The Age of Super Heroes launched with Superman’s very first appearance in the pages of Action Comics #1.  Less than two years later, the Mercury-inspired Jay Garrick burst onto the scene, snatching a bullet out of midair on the cover of Flash Comics #1.  But it would be in the sci-fi inspired Silver Age when Barry Allen made his Flash debut in the pages of Showcase #4 that fans would really begin to speculate – who is faster, Superman or the Flash?


    A decade later, after both the Man of Steel’s and the Scarlet Speedster’s high velocity feats of heroism had reached legendary status, the Original Universe featured the first of many races that would certainly fuel the fire of this debate.  


    Superman #199 (Aug. 1967) – This classic issue features the very first time Superman and the Flash took their marks and set out to prove once and for all just who was faster.  And, it’s all rendered magnificently by the incomparable Carmine Infantino!


    Flash #175 (Dec. 1967) – Fans did not have to wait long for the rematch, as the DCU’s two fastest heroes went at it again in this mind-blowing race to the edge of the universe where our heroes must try and survive deadly booby-traps laid in their wake by diabolical foes.


    World's Finest #198-199 (Nov.-Dec. 1970) – The next time these two very competitive speedsters would race they pushed their abilities further than possibly imagined as they accelerate faster than the speed of light!  And the winner is…!  


    DC Comics Presents #1-2 (Aug.-Sep. 1978) – Once again the Man of Steel and the Crimson Comet reach new levels of speed as they race so fast they travel through time and space in pursuit of a troublesome alien whose capture could mean the death of one of our heroes!


    Adventures of Superman #463 (Feb. 1990) – The next time these heroes would race would be in a Post-Crisis DCU.  In this brave new world, neither competitor’s super powers are at the levels they once were.  That doesn’t make this contest any less exciting, especially when that mischievous imp from the 5th Dimension, Mr. Mxyzptlk is involved.  NOTE: At this time in DC History, the Flash is Wally West whose speed tops out at around the speed of sound and Superman’s powers were greatly diminished compared to his Golden and Silver Age counterpart.  See Flash (2nd Series) and Man of Steel by John Byrne.


    Flash #209 (Jun. 2004) – The Flash’s identity has become a closely guarded secret, even from his closest friends and allies.  The World’s Greatest Heroes determine that they cannot allow such a wild card to roam free without finding out the truth.  However, the only one fast enough to catch this mysterious Flash is Superman, or is he?


    Bonus Round (Interesting Twists on a Classic Rivalry):


    Superman: The Animated Series (Sep. 1997) – In Season 2: Episode 4 “Speed Demons” – for charity, Superman and the Flash decide to have a foot race around the world.  The only problem is the menacing Weather Wizard unleashes devastating storms that wreak havoc on the globe and it’s up to our superfast heroes to stop him.


    Flash #162 (Jul. 2000) – The Crimson Comet races against the DCU’s other superman – Captain Marvel!  But, can even the fastest Man Alive outrun the Power of SHAZAM?!


    DC First: Flash/Superman (Jul. 2002) – In this twist to this classic match-up, Superman and the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick, must race against the clock and each other in order to save the life of Wally West who finds himself under the thumb of the notorious Kadabra!


    Smallville: Clark vs. Bart (Oct. 2004) – In Season 4: Episode 5 “Run” – a young Clark Kent whose super human powers are still in the development stages meets another teenager named Bart Allen whose super human speed matches his own.  At the end of the episode, Clark and Bart decide to see who is faster and though Clark keeps stride for a bit, in the blink of an eye, Bart shows Superboy just who is the fastest teenager alive.  At least for now. 


    Bizarro vs. Reverse-Flash (Nov. 2005) – With the DCU hurtling towards an Infinite Crisis, Superman and the Flash’s opposites cross paths in this Villains United Tie-In.


    Injustice: Gods Among Us Year One (2013) – In the middle of Superman’s coup, the Scarlet Speedster begins to have serious second thoughts about the Man of Steel’s New World Order.  As the two engage in a moral debate their super speed is on display in a very different way as they play a game of chess at breakneck speed.


    These are the tales that have shaped Superman vs. the Flash into one of the All-Time greatest comic book rivalries in history.  Be on the lookout for future installments of Greatest Rivalries in Comic History including Hulk vs. Wolverine, Hulk vs. Thor, Punisher vs. Daredevil, Superman vs. Captain Marvel, and more!


    As for who the Odinson thinks is faster?  Well, Superman is the world’s greatest super hero with so many super powers.  Much like the Hulk being the strongest one there is, being the fastest is sort of Flash’s thing.  So, I give it to the Flash, after all he is the Fastest Man Alive, but just by a hair. 


    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     



  • The Odinson’s Countdown to Halloween - Part 4 of 4: The Odinson’s Favorite Horror in Pop Culture

    Happy Halloween from the Odinson,


    “…grizzly ghouls from every tomb are closing in to seal your doom, and though you fight to stay alive, your body starts to shiver, for no mere mortal can resist the evil of the thriller…”


    Vincent Price’s addition to Michael Jackson’s seminal pop hit Thriller is a great overview to the Worlds of Horror and the Supernatural.  Horror reflects the things that scare us most.  From the gothic era of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein to the silent movie era of Nosferatu, from the Universal Monsters to the Hammer Films, from the Golden Age of Slasher Films to the found footage era launched by The Blair Witch Project, horror and suspense can be presented in many different forms and terrorizing ways.


    Gross-out fest are not my thing, but bone-chilling thrills, jumps, and supernatural walks on the dark side make for great entertainment.  Here is a list of the Odinson’s favorite Horror - the good, the bad, and the beyond the grave!


    The Odinson’s Countdown to Halloween - Part 4 of 4: The Odinson’s Favorite Horror in Pop Culture


    Movie:  Interview with the Vampire – A reporter's life is forever changed on the night that he hears the life story of Louis de Pointe du Lac, a mysterious man with mesmerizing eyes, a man with a supernatural, otherworldly presence, a man who is no man at all but rather a 200-year old vampire!  This is the first book in author Anne Rice's VAMPIRE CHRONICLES, an epic, sweeping story of the immortals that have walked the earth for centuries as dark gods that live in the shadows and stalk the night.  This is the tale that introduces the world to Louis, the most human of all vampires, Claudia, the doomed vampire-child, Armand, the schemer, and, of course, the Brat Prince himself - Lestat de Lioncourt.  Honorable Mentions: Halloween, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Shinning, Salem’s Lot, Fright Night, John Carpenter’s Vampires, Night of the Living Dead, and the Universal Monster Movies. 


    TV:  Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Creator Joss Whedon flipped the script with this mold-breaking horror/adventure/drama/comedy series.  In the Buffyverse, the young beautiful blonde teenager walking alone down the dark alleyway is actually what the monsters are afraid of.  Long before the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Buffyverse felt like an actual comic book come to life.  Using metaphors in its monster-of-the week stories and building a world with continuity and storyarcs rarely seen on television, Whedon and his team created a pop culture phenomenon that has outlasted the show’s and its spin-off’s runs.  And, it gave the world Buffy Summers, a strong, capable multilayered female heroine that should be immortalized on the Mt. Rushmore of female heroes alongside Ellen Ripley, Sarah Connor, and Wonder Woman.  Honorable Mentions: Angel, Dark Shadows, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Supernatural, Charmed, Tales from the Crypt, The Twilight Zone, and The Walking Dead.


    Comic Book:  The Saga of the Swamp Thing – When many think about the plight of the Swamp Thing, they think about the highly touted run by writer Alan Moore.  Though Moore’s run may have defined the character, and Len Wein may have planted the character’s Roots, it’s the inaugural, Apocalyptic-storyarc of The Saga of the Swamp Thing that captured the imagination of the Odinson.  During their yearlong tale, writer Martin Pasko and artist Tom Yeates crafted a tale of such macabre goodness that it has resonated with the Odinson for over three decades.  It has Vampires, Monsters, Adventure, Betrayal, a Golem, and a showdown with the Beast of the Apocalypse!  It’s a tale with everything a horror fan could want and more.  Honorable Mentions:  Preacher, Hellblazer, Ghost Rider, Tales from the Crypt, Phantom Stranger, Doctor Strange, Werewolf by Night, I, Vampire, the Creature Commandos, and Tomb of Dracula.


    Cartoon: Scooby-Doo – Since 1969 and to this very day, Scooby-Doo and his friends have been traveling around the world in their signature mode of transportation, the Mystery Machine, facing down ghouls, ghosts, goblins, masked madmen, and solving mysteries.  Alongside Fred, the leader, Daphne, the pretty girl, Velma, the brains, his best friend Shaggy, and his brave little nephew Scrappy-Doo, Scooby has entertained generation after generation of fans.  Through their travels and many adventures, Scooby and the gang have befriended many pop culture icons including the Harlem Globetrotters, the Three Stooges, Josie and the Pussycats, Speed Buggy, the Addams Family, Batman and Robin, and more!  Scooby may not be the brightest, he may not be the bravest, but offer him a Scooby-Snack and there is no challenge this canine sleuth won’t meet.  Honorable Mentions: Casper the Friendly Ghost, The Real Ghostbusters, Grim and Evil, and The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror.


    Anime: Vampire Hunter D – Set over ten-thousand years into the future, the enigmatic D, a monster hunter with supernatural powers, wanders a post-Apocalyptic landscape ruled by monsters and battles the undead.  Like the Man with No Name from Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns, D roams from town to town getting into adventures.  In this particular chapter, when a young girl is taken from a small  village by the local vampire lord, D must storm the haunted castle, face down an army of demonic ghouls, survive a band of deadly bounty-hunters, and ultimately defeat the master vampire himself.  Luckily, D has a few secrets of his own that when brought to light may just rank him as one the most powerful monster-slayers in horror-fiction history.  Honorable Mentions:  Ninja Scroll, Berserk, and Bastard.


    Video Game: Resident Evil – When a zombie outbreak threatens Raccoon City, a team of elite law officers track the source back to a remote mansion in the hills outside of town.  As the casualties begin to mount, a mystery unfolds that leads surviving Officers Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine further into the mouth of madness as the truth behind the sudden appearance of the undead and strange monsters becomes clear.  This game has spawned fantastic sequels, comic books, novels, and a very successful movie franchise.  But, it all started back in 1996 with the first installment that coined the phrase “survival horror.”  Honorable Mentions: Castlevania, Silent Hill, DOOM, and Vampire: The Masquerade.


    NOTE: Some these lists could go on forever.  Suffice it to say, if it was written by Anne Rice, Stephen King, George Romero, Wes Craven, or John Carpenter, or if it involves zombies, werewolves, slashers, witches, vampires, devils, or creatures, then it falls under the banner of Honorable Mention.


    The Horror/Supernatural Hall of Fame: The Evil Dead


    In my entire life, there is only one horror movie that has ever given the Odinson nightmares and that was Sam Raimi’s 1981 horror classic.  Now, granted I was only 10 or 11 years old the first time I saw this film a few years later, nevertheless, it made quite the horrific impression on me.


    To try and list all the great horror entertainment that has graced the Big Screen, television, and four color page would be an exercise in futility.  Countless books have been written and many great and extensive documentaries have been produced on this subject matter.  The Odinson has given thee some insight to the Horror/Supernatural that he loves.  What are your favorites? 


    Remember this October 31st to watch out for the wolf man, he’s a troublemaker.  Have a fun and safe Halloween. 


    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell    

  • The Odinson’s Countdown to Halloween - Part 3 of 4: The Odinson’s Top 5 Monster Mash Ups

    Greetings from the Odinson,


    Remember that one scene in Superman II (back when Superman movies were awesome)?  It’s the one where Superman finally shows up to confront the Kryptonian super villains.  He asks, “General, would you care to step outside?”  The whole city of Metropolis just shuts down because they didn’t want to miss the show.  As one cabby puts it, “Man, this is going to be good!” 


    When the Main Event features two icons – Superman vs. Spider-Man, Superman vs. Hulk, or Superman vs. Ali – then the world wants to see it.  These great showdowns just don’t feature heavyweights of pop culture duking it out for the title, they also feature major crossover appeal.  Worlds are colliding in wonderful ways.  Well, the realm of horror, science fiction, and the supernatural has crossover battles of its own, and here are my All-Time favorites.


    The Odinson’s Countdown to Halloween - Part 3 of 4: The Odinson’s Top 5 Monster Mash Ups


    5 – Last Blood (zombies vs. vampires) – The Zombie Apocalypse is in full effect and the undead (i.e. the vampires) are the undisputed kings and queens of the world!  There’s just one problem, with zombies devouring every single living being in sight, the vampires’ own food supply is quickly running out.  In a bizarre twist of circumstances, the children of the night are forced to gather the last surviving humans on Earth together and try and protect them from the walking dead.  Even though vampires are easily stronger and faster than their shambling counterparts, the zombie hordes are endless in number and just keep coming and coming and will not stop until every single human, alive or dead, has been consumed.  Zombies and Vampires, the two biggest icons in horror history, collide in a final battle for the ages with the fate of mankind hanging in the balance!


    4 – Aliens vs. Predator – From the second that Xenomorph skull showed up in the trophy case in Predator 2, fans salivated for the time when these two sci-fi monsters would collide.  I’ll go on record to say that even though there have been two movies – AVP and Alien vs. Predator: Requiem – we have yet to see the best film effort for this franchise.  For the best stories featuring these two sci-fi icons, check out the offerings by Dark Horse Comics – Aliens vs. Predator, Deadliest of the Species, Three World War, and Fire and Stone.  The last of which the Odinson hopes to one day see adapted into a film.


    3 – King Kong vs. Godzilla – Though the logistics of this battle should be impossible (Godzilla is actually like two-hundred feet taller than King Kong), it does not take away from the glorious spectacle of seeing these two true heavyweights of the monster world collide in an earth-shaking brawl that reduces entire city blocks to rubble.  This feature was a staple of the Odinson’s childhood for in the 70s and 80s it played in heavy rotation on Saturday afternoons.  A few months back, I pulled a box out of the attic that had a lot of my old childhood drawings in it and one of the gems I found was an old comic book adaptation I did of this seminal film.  I was seven or eight years old.  It was rendered on lined notebook paper folded in half to give the comic effect and colored with crayons.  Ah, to be young.  Well in 2020, the mighty Kong will once again square off against the King of Monsters on the Big Screen!  I have no idea how the filmmakers will work around the logistics of this match up, but there is no doubt the Odinson will be first in line to see this movie.     


    2 – Freddy vs. Jason – This was a heavyweight bout of the supernatural ten years in the making.  Ever since Freddy’s clawed hand snatched up Jason’s Hockey Mask at the end of Jason goes to Hell, fans could not wait to see these two Slasher Film Hall of Famers tear into each other.  Funny thing is, in the development stage, we were almost treated to two other very different versions of this battle.  One would have included Pinhead, the demonic face of the Hellraiser franchise, as a sort of mediator between the combatants.  And, yet another version would have seen Freddy, Jason, and Pinhead in a crossover with, believe it or not, Kevin Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob in a Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein-like mash up.  Part of the latter still made it into the actual film for who can deny the similarities between the comedic Freeburg character and the rapscallion of the Viewaskewinverse, Jay?    


    1 – Frankenstein’s Monster vs. Wolfman vs. Dracula – For nearly three decades, from the 1920s to the 1950s, the Universal Monsters ruled the horror genre.  There were so many classic films, so many great actors giving character-defining performances.  Even the B&W and the timelessness of the films’ settings have lent to the nostalgic greatness of these classic movies.  Halloween is the perfect time of year to revisit these gems, and the best installments of all are the crossover films.  Like Marvel, DC, ViewAskew, and Tarantino, the Universal Monster Universe is a shared universe, and it delivered some of the best monster mashes in history!  The Black Cat (1934) featured a battle of wits between Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, the two actors who portrayed Frankenstein’s Monster and Dracula in other films, in an undercard bout for the greater battles to come.  Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman (1943) sees the two title characters rip into each other and give the fans a monster brawl that will not soon be forgotten.  In House of Frankenstein (1944), Dracula, the Wolfman, and Frankenstein’s Monster are united in a monster mash up that would be emulated several more times.   House of Dracula (1945) sees the Wolfman, Dracula, and the Monster cross paths in peculiar and volatile ways.  Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) brings it all to a head when Dracula attempts to enslave the mighty power of the Frankenstein Monster but is thwarted by the comedic duo and the savage claws of the Wolfman.  The Universal Monsters would return for another go in TriStar Pictures’ 1987 film The Monster Squad.  In this fantastic underrated horror/comedy, a Goonies-like gang of teenagers race against the clock to stop Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Frankenstein’s Monster from taking over the world.  In the end, audiences find out just how the Monster truly feels about his vampire counterpart when he delivers a mighty blow felt all across the Monsterverse.  And, the Universe Monsters would cross paths and claws once more in 2004’s Van Helsing.     


    Honorable Mentions: Lake Placid vs. Anaconda, Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys, Blade vs. Dracula, Solomon Grundy vs. Bizarro, and Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah.


    Monster vs. Monster Hall of Fame:  Hulk vs. Thing.


    Now those are some truly monstrous Monster Mash Ups!  Tune in next week as the Odinson concludes his countdown to Halloween with his Favorite Horror in Pop Culture.


    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • The Odinson’s Countdown to Halloween - Part 2 of 4: The Odinson Pays a Visit to Camp Crystal Lake

    Greetings from the Odinson,




    That’s one of the most distinct and terrifying sounds in horror movie history, and if that sound is heard resonating anywhere around, it’s time to get the hell out of Dodge.  Or, at least the woodlands surrounding Crystal Lake. 


    In 1978, when John Carpenter’s Halloween hit the Big Screen, the Master of Horror’s low budget horror flick not only scared moviegoers across the country, it broke the mold and launched a new era in cinematic horror – The Slasher Film.  Months later, director Sean S. Cunningham and writer Victor Miller, inspired by Carpenter’s seminal film, set out to make a horror film of their own. 


    They used the formula set up by John Carpenter, the formula that would become standard for this genre.  They needed a holiday theme.  Running through the various options they settled on the ominous Friday the 13th.  Carpenter used babysitters as his heroines/victims, so Cunningham and Miller decided on camp counselors, and this led them to their location of choice, a summer camp.  Now their young cast would be isolated enough from the world so that help would not be so easily available.     


    In May of 1980, not even two years after the release of Carpenter’s film, Cunningham and Miller’s vision of horror hit theatres.  They just wanted to make a profitable little movie inspired by one of the true classics of the genre.  What they ended up doing was launching one of the most successful film franchises in Hollywood History.


    The Odinson’s Countdown to Halloween - Part 2 of 4: The Odinson Pays a Visit to Camp Crystal Lake


    Friday the 13th (1980) – Right off the bat, I would like to say that the first film in this franchise is not just the one that started it all, it’s actually a really good movie.  The writing is tight and the directing is fantastic.  I can watch this movie on mute and even presented in silent form, I can still easily follow the story.  This film set the standard for the Agatha Christie-like And Then There Were None formula that almost all Slasher films after follow, including the movies in this very franchise.  And, this film did not lean on the cult following of the franchise’s star – Jason Voorhees – for in the first film, part of its macabre charm is the fact that it’s Jason’s mother who is the killer.  Plus, the movie featured the great Kevin Bacon in one of his earliest onscreen performances.  Friday the 13th is not just a horror classic, it is a true film classic and should be on anybody’s Top 100 Watch List.   Odinson Rating: 5 out of 5 Hammers


    Friday the 13th: Part II (1981) – The first four films of the franchise tell a pretty cohesive story and connect rather well.  The second installment sees Jason taking the reins of terror and moving the story along in a terrifying new direction.  He is not yet the unstoppable juggernaut we will soon come to know, but rather a demented hillbilly out to avenge his mother’s demise in the only way his feeble mind can comprehend, whole sale slaughter.  This installment features a very creepy campfire retelling of the legend of Pamela Voorhees and her doomed son, Jason.  Odinson Rating: 3 out of 5 Hammers


    Friday the 13th: Part III 3-D (1982) – Now this installment of the franchise is truly unique for its use of the added dimension of 3-D FX.  The filmmakers use these FX in truly gruesome ways.  All I have to say is keep your head on a swivel when walking on your hands.  This chapter also incorporated a lot more humor, something that would become more common place in the slasher genre as the years moved along.  But most importantly, this is the chapter in the franchise that introduces the iconic Hockey Mask of Jason, the symbol that would become the most synonymous with the Friday the 13th brand.  Odinson Rating: 3 out of 5 Hammers


    Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) – Next to the first film, this is the strongest chapter in the franchise.  Like the first Friday, The Final Chapter takes the time to actually get the audience to care about the characters in the film before Jason starts doing his thing.  Plus, keeping the continuity established by the first three installments, this chapter is rife with Easter eggs and references to the previous films.  This chapter also marks the end of Jason, because even though he is a hulking nigh unstoppable lunatic, he is still mortal at this point and our heroes triumph in an end featuring the bloody demise of Jason Voorhees.  Odinson Rating: 4 out of 5 Hammers


    Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985) – The Odinson will give the filmmakers credit for trying something new, but this is easily one of the weakest installments of the franchise with a less than stellar twist ending.  Odinson Rating: 2 out of 5 Hammers


    Friday the 13th: Part VI – Jason Lives (1986) – Now, this chapter features the Frankenstein-Style resurrection of Jason.  A bolt of errant lightning brings the Crystal Lake Killer back to the land of the living, but now he is a true monster.  This is the moment when Jason ceased to be a masked slasher, and became an unstoppable force of nature.  Undead and still angry, Jason’s strength and resistance to injury reach supernatural levels and the franchise heads in a bold new direction. Odinson Rating: 3 out of 5 Hammers


    Friday the 13th: Part VII – The New Blood (1988) – This is another chapter where the Odinson applauds the filmmakers for trying something new.  Setting the series in a more supernatural world, Jason is confronted by his first true challenge of the series, a girl with psychokinetic mind-powers.  Plus, this chapter sees the debut of Kane Hodder, arguably the most beloved actor to portray Jason.  Hodder brought little nuances to the character that he did not have before and audiences took notice.  Odinson Rating: 3 ½ out of 5 Hammers


    Friday the 13th: Part VIII – Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) – As a fellow staffer here at pointed out, if you are going to call the movie “Jason Takes Manhattan” you may not want to spend half the film on a boat.  The one true saving grace of this installment is the incredible spectacle of seeing the monstrous Jason in the middle of Times Square.  Odinson Rating: 2 ½ out of 5 Hammers


    Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993) – By far the weakest chapter in the series.  Though Jason is the star, his physical form is rarely even featured in the film as it has been replaced by a demonic worm.  Yes, it looks as dumb as it sounds.  The only real noteworthy moment is the surprise cameo by Freddy Kruger’s clawed glove at the end as the dream demon drags Jason’s iconic hockey mask down to hell.  It would be a decade before this exciting tease would pay off.  Odinson Rating: 1 ½ out of 5 Hammers


    Jason X (2001) – Once again, the filmmakers attempt to try a bold new direction by taking Jason into the far future.  The highlights of this installment include Jason being transformed into a monstrous cyborg and his epic battle with an acrobatic android.  This chapter also sees the final performance by Kane Hodder in the role he helped define.  Odinson Rating: 3 out of 5 Hammers


    Freddy vs. Jason (2003) – The title says it all.  In the grand tradition of great movie monster battles like Universal’s Frankenstein meets the Wolf Man and King Kong vs. Godzilla – this highly underrated gem features the two biggest, baddest Kings of the Slasher Film genre in a no holds barred battle to the death.  The Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street franchises collide in one of the bloodiest and startling climaxes in the history of horror cinema.  It is a dismembering final battle worthy of the two biggest names in horror.  Odinson Rating: 4 out of 5 Hammers


    Friday the 13th (2009) – There’s not much to say about this attempted reboot of the franchise.  It really didn’t add anything new or exciting to the table and it left out most of what made the very first Friday the 13th so memorable and resonating in the first place.  It’s not the worst installment, but it didn’t blow my hair back.  Odinson Rating: 2 out of 5 Hammers


    NOTE:  If the filmmakers really want to take the franchise in an original direction they should make a chapter where all the survivors of each movie band together to try and take out Jason Voorhees once and for all.  Now that would be a Friday the 13th movie the Odinson would love to see!


    This franchise has spawned books, comics, graphic novels, toys, and a TV series.  From the late-70s to the mid-90s, it cannot be denied that the Slasher Film ruled the horror Box Office, and it cannot be denied that the King of the Slasher Film was Jason Voorhees.  For an in-depth history on this great horror franchise check out the fantastic Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th from Titan Books and the awesome documentary His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th, hosted by the great Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead, From Dusk Till Dawn).


    Tune in next week as the Odinson continues his Countdown to Halloween with the Top 5 Monster Mash Ups of All-Time!


    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     


  • The Odinson’s Countdown to Halloween - Part 1 of 4: Top 10 Diminutive Terrors

    Greetings from the Odinson,


    It’s that time of year again.  The weather is getting cooler.  The leaves are changing color.  And, the days are getting shorter and the nights longer.  It’s that time of year when the ghosts and goblins haunt the land and the creepy-crawlies stalk the earth.  That’s right, folks, it’s almost time for Halloween!


    Let’s start the countdown.


    The Odinson’s Countdown to Halloween - Part 1 of 4: Top 10 Diminutive Terrors


    10 – The Ghoulies Height: 2 ½ feet tall.  Even though they may be the K-Mart Gremlins, these vicious little goblins are no less terrifying.  Summoned from the ether by a want-to-be sorcerer, the Ghoulies have made it their delightful ambition to visit all sorts of mishaps and outright misfortune on the world of man.  Nothing is sacred to these troublesome little beasties, not even the sanctity of the porcelain throne.


    9 – CrittersHeight: 1 ½ feet tall.  Don’t let their cuddly, cute looks fool you, these little “critters” pack a mean bite.  On the run from a pair of shape-changing alien bounty-hunters, these little beasts crash-land on Earth and immediately begin to terrorize the heartland.  With a bite radius that would make the shark from JAWS proud, these furry little monsters can devour a human being in minutes.  They are even more terrifying when a few dozen or more of them come together in a six-foot diameter ball of rolling fur that can devour anything in its path in seconds.    


    8 – ZerglingsHeight: 2 feet tall.  Length (from head-to-tail): About 4 ½ feet long.  Though these alien critters aren’t much bigger than a Golden Retriever and in small numbers of two or four are not very threatening, they are the meat and bones of the Zerg Swarm and in large numbers can overwhelm even the heartiest of terran and protoss armies.  What makes them even more deadly is their ability to evolve.  Evolution gives them the appearance of giant flees and grants them increased speed and attack power.  But, perhaps their deadliest evolution of all is their ability to morph into a baneling, an insect-like critter with many pulsating boils of acid on its back that explode on contact with devastating effect, melting down barriers or even disintegrating entire battalions of space marines. 


    7 – Blade and the Puppets Height: 1 to 2 feet tall.  These puppets have been brought to life with supernatural alchemy and have long ago cut their strings.  They are a cunning and resourceful lot and even work together in teams to fulfill their objectives which usually involves a blood-soaked rampage of revenge.  Each puppet brings a unique skill to the table but by far the most iconic puppet of all is their leader – Blade, who has a hook for one hand and knife for the other.  These living puppets have been used for both evil and good, but either way, those they are unleashed upon know the true meaning of terror.


    6 – MurlocsHeight: 2 ½ to 3 ½ feet tall.  These diminutive frogmen dwell on the coastal plains and around large bodies of water all throughout the world of Aseroth.  Murlocs are known for their berserk rage and charging headlong into battle against anything and anybody that crosses their path.  They have a very distinct noise they make when on the attack.  It’s a sound nobody who has ever traveled through the World of WarCraft will ever forget.  Though primitive, they do use weapons like spears and crude knives, and they usually attack in packs.  Much like the zerlings of the StarCraft Universe, one-on-one or even in pairs of two, the murlocs do not pose much of a threat to an adventurer.  However, where there’s one murloc, there is more than likely a whole village of murlocs and in large numbers, they can prove fatal, even for the most seasoned of warriors.         


    5 – Gage CreedHeight: 2 feet tall.  When the Creed family moved to the country, they thought they were going to build a new life, instead they are devastated by a series of escalating tragedies which leads Dr. Louis Creed to take the remains of Gage, his infant son who had been recently killed when he wandered onto the street near their home, to the nearby woods, past the Pet Semetary, and further into the woods to the forbidden Indian burial grounds.  Gage returns form the dead…changed.  His mortal body is now possessed by malevolent spirits from the beyond and they use Gage’s toddler form to visit all manner of horrors on the Creed Family.  In his undead state, Gage possesses the ability to warp reality and cast illusions and, even though he is small, he is a viscous little killer.  The worst part of dealing with this little terror is that even though only evil resides within, the outer shell is that of an innocent child making Gage easily one of the most shockingly scary little terrors on this list. 


    4 – ChuckyHeight: 2 feet tall.  Much like Gage, this diminutive terror has evil within, but on the outside he is a seemingly innocent looking object, a child’s plaything, a doll.  Unfortunately, it is the soul of a stone cold killer that resides within this doll.  Trying to avoid capture by the police, serial killer Charles Lee Ray uses voodoo to bond his soul to the talking doll – Chucky.  Now, the living doll continues to carry out Ray’s horrible goals like a tiny murderous golem.  Known for his sarcastic quips and dark humor, Chucky has made quite a name for himself in the encyclopedia of legendary slashers.  And, not to be outdone by Frankenstein’s Monster, Chucky also has a blushing Bride, a diminutive beauty with a lust for murder and bad jokes that matches his own.


    3 – LeprechaunHeight: 3 ½ feet tall.  We all know the legend – find the end of the rainbow and find the leprechaun’s gold.  However, this Leprechaun is not willing to give up his gold so easily.  In fact, this little monster will rend, tear, and devour anyone dumb enough to steal his gold.  Like Chucky, the Leprechaun possesses a dark humor, many times delivering wicked puns before offing his victims in all sorts of devilish ways.  From Ireland to Las Vegas, from the hood to outer space, anybody who steals his gold must face the wrath the Leprechaun! 


    2 – GremlinsHeight: 1 to 3 feet tall.  When dealing with the adorable little Mogwai, one must always obey three simple rules.  One, do NOT expose Mogwai to bright light.  Two, do NOT let Mogwai get wet.  And three, above all else, no matter what, do NOT, I repeat, do NOT feed Mogwai after midnight!  From trying to steal somebody’s breath while they sleep (i.e. Stephen King’s Cat’s Eye) to sabotaging our boy’s planes during World War II, Gremlins are quite possibly the most troublesome little monsters in the history of mankind.  And, there is no gremlin more vicious, more cunning, and more diabolically evil than Stripe.  If Stripe had his way, the Gremlins would multiply exponentially and spread across the land of man like a plague.  Luckily, for us, not all gremlins are bad, and Gizmo is on hand to save the day.  Bugs Bunny is the ultimate cartoon troublemaker and other than the Tortoise, the only character to ever get it over on King Bugs is the Gremlin.     


    1 – SamHeight: 2 ½ feet tall.  Sam is the mascot for the anthology horror film Trick ‘r Treat.  He is a walking, stalking juxtaposition.  On one hand he is a cute little kid dressed up for Halloween and a night of trick-or-treating.  On the other, he is a creepy little devil that crawls on ceilings and terrorizes mean old scrooges who hate this sacred holiday.  He tops this list for no other tiny terror so visually captures the essences and mood of the Odinson’s favorite holiday of the year – All Hollows Eve.   


    Honorable Mentions: Demonic Toys, Moloids, Goblins, and Garden Gnomes.


    Big scares can sometimes come in small packages.  Make no mistake, though these Diminutive Terrors may be small, they pack a lot of scare for their size.  Tune in next week when the Odinson continues his Countdown to Halloween with a retrospective of arguably the greatest horror franchise of all time – Friday the 13th.


    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     


  • Have the Big Two Lost the Courage to Use the Epic Tale to Usher in Epic Change?

    Greetings from the Odinson,


    So, I'm reading through the new Marvel Previews and realizing that absolutely nothing is being reset after Secret Wars.  Sure, there are some new faces and the Ultimate U doesn't exist anymore, but other than that, I see no real difference.  It just makes me ask the question: what was the point of Time Runs Out and Secret Wars?  See, when it come to the Big Event in comics, what made the classics classic is that when they were done, things were different.  There was a major change and the event set up the next year or two of storytelling.  All the blood, sweat, and tears and countless hours spent on the event, by the creators and the characters in the story itself, have a payoff worthy of such universal upheaval.  So the Odinson has to ask:


    Have the Big Two Lost the Courage to Use the Epic Tale to Usher in Epic Change?


    The two events I want to focus on (and believe me, they aren’t the only culprits) are the most recent offerings by Marvel and DC – Secret Wars and Convergence.  Now, when it comes to Big Events, these two have everything going for them that a Big Event could need to be successful. 


    NOTE: There may be story point SPOILERS for Secret Wars and Convergence past this point.


    Creative TeamSecret Wars with Jonathan Hickman (New Avengers, Fantastic Four) and Esad Ribic (Loki and Sub-Mariner: The Depths), and Convergence with Scott Lobdell (Red Hood and the Outlaws), Carlo Pagulayan (Agents of Atlas), Ed Benes (Birds of Prey), Andy Kubert (Batman vs. Predator), and others, these tales have creative teams that are strong to quite strong.


    Premise/Idea – Both of these events have similar premises – Secret Wars features Battleworld, an amalgam planet of many different locales from around the Marvel multiverse separated by thin boarders and always on the verge of warring with each other.  Convergence features a pocket dimension where cities from around the DC multiverse have all been brought together and the heroes of these cities are forced to battle to the death to see which city will survive.  For fans of “What If?” and Elseworlds Tales, these set-ups are a dream come true. 



    Aftermath/Effect on Respective Universe – ????


    As far as I can see, Convergence has had absolutely no effect on the DCU at all, and for an event that completely took over an entire company’s line of comics, that’s saying a lot.  That’s not to say that it was all bad.  The Good: Visiting the pre-New 52 Universe again as well as seeing pre-Crisis characters was cool.  Also, watching characters like Post-Crisis Superboy interact with Kingdom Superman was pretty awesome.  The Bad: Convergence featured one of the most senseless and utterly useless deaths of a hero I’ve ever seen.  To have to watch in horror as Travis Morgan, the great Warlord of Skartaris, is so easily dispatched and murdered by his arch foe was devastating.  The Aftermath:  It ends the brand “New 52” on the covers of DC Comics yet the New 52 continuity continues unabated.  And, I guess the story’s legacy will be that it introduces Telos, who as far as I can tell is a good guy Brainiac?  I’m not sure on him.   


    As far as I can see, Secret Wars, like DC’s offering, has had no real effect on the Marvel U as a whole.  There’s going to be a new Hulk, team roster changes, and new titles, but none of these cosmetic changes needed a Big Event to enact them.  As for the event itself?  The Good:  It is a Doom story and anytime Marvel can shed the Spotlight on the greatest comic book super villain in history is all right by me.  The Bad: My biggest complaint for Secret Wars is that for such an epic tale, a tale that had a magnificent two-year ramp up (see New Avengers and Time Runs Out), the kind of ramp up not seen since Infinite Crisis, this story is apparently going to have such a minute pay off.  Which brings me to… The Aftermath:  The biggest change is that the Ultimate Universe is no more, but that was a dying concept anyway.  Flipping through the pages of the latest Marvel Previews I see very little to make me think that such an epic like Secret Wars has had any effect on the status quo. 


    That’s my biggest complaint about the Big Two’s biggest events of 2015.  Though the ideas were solid and the creative teams were top notch, and the story tie-ins had varying degrees of entertainment value, I’m left asking – What was the point?


    Let me illustrate my point by highlighting the Big Two’s biggest events of the last thirty years and the effects they had on the status quo.


    For DC, Crisis on Infinite Earths restarted the DC Universe.  The Death of Superman left us in a World without Superman and introduced four major new characters – Superboy, the Eradicator, Steel, and the Cyborg-Superman – who still affect the DCU to this day.  Knightfall saw Batman face his greatest defeat at the hands of a foe that has become one of his deadliest to date.  Infinite Crisis brought an entire era of storytelling to a close and set the stage for the next.  The Sinestro Corps War completely changed the status quo of the DCU and opened the door for an array of Lanterns.  And, Flashpoint paved the way for The New 52.       


    For Marvel, Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars left Spider-Man, the Hulk, Avengers, and Fantastic Four so changed that its upheaval was felt for years afterwards and in some cases (i.e. Venom) are even being felt to this day.  The Mutant Massacre birthed so many subplots that it took Marvel’s Merry Mutants nearly twenty years to sort them all out.  Age of Apocalypse showed what could be accomplished by a company and group of creators when they possess the courage of their convictions, and it introduced concepts and characters that are still around today.  House of M decimated the mutant community.  The Illuminati led to Planet Hulk which unleashed World War Hulk.  And, Civil War fractured the super hero community and left the world without its greatest hero which opened the door for a Secret Invasion and led to a Dark Reign which eventually brought Asgard under Siege. 


    Secret Wars and Convergence, are they worth a read?  Sure.  Are they worthy of the moniker BIG EVENT?  Let me get back to you on that one. 


    The more I think about it, I don’t believe it’s that Marvel or DC Comics have forgotten how to execute a Big Event.  No, I believe it’s more like they don’t know the meaning behind or the reasons for doing a Big Event.    


    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • The Odinson Celebrates the 10th Anniversary of Infinite Crisis

    Greetings from the Odinson,


    Ten years ago, DC Comics delivered one of the best and well executed epic stories in its illustrious history.  The hero community was fractured, villains were uniting, the cosmos was in chaos, and magic was out of control.  It was the perfect storm, a time of great trouble the likes of which had not been seen in the DCU since Crisis on Infinite Earths.  Writer Geoff Johns, artists Phil Jimenez and Andy Lanning, and cover artists Jim Lee and George Pérez delivered a 7-issue masterpiece.  Infinite Crisis was a direct sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths and the exciting climax to DC Comics’ Post-Crisis era of storytelling.   


    The Odinson Celebrates the 10th Anniversary of Infinite Crisis


    Pre-Crisis DCU The DC Universe was born in 1938 in the pages of Action Comics #1.  Over the course of the next nearly fifty years, DC would build a stable of iconic heroes and villains and create a multiverse in order to tell an endless array of stories across an infinite number of worlds.  By the time Ronald Reagan took office in the White House, the DC Universe had grown exponentially with a very complex continuity that was difficult for even the most seasoned comics fan to follow and next to impossible for new fans to understand.  This Golden/Silver Age of DC was brought to a close in 1986 with the seminal tale Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?


    Crisis on Infinite Earths – Crisis was a 12-issue extravaganza and one of the first companywide crossover events in history.  Its purpose was to reset the DCU, and it did this in grand fashion.  Marv Wolfman and George Pérez, known at the time for their classic run on New Teen Titans, orchestrated an epic story that included every single character who resided in the DCU and even added a few new faces.  The embodiment of evil known as the Anti-Monitor begins to systematically destroy the multiverse until only two remained.  Our desperate heroes of Earth-1 and Earth-2 are joined by multiverse refugees Harbinger, Pariah, Lady Quark, Alexander Luthor of Earth-3, Superboy of Earth-Prime, and the Golden Age Superman in their titanic last stand against annihilation.  Many heroes and villains make the ultimate sacrifice in order to save the DCU, most notably Supergirl and the Flash (Barry Allen).  By the end of this mega-event, the multiverse was no more.  There was only one Earth and the DCU relaunched from the beginning for a whole new generation of fans, the Odinson’s generation.        


    Post-Crisis DCU – From that point on, the DCU’s continuity was much tighter and in the pages of Man of Steel, Batman: Year One, Wonder Woman, Flash, Justice League International, and SHAZAM: The New Beginning, fans, old and new, were treated to updated modern takes on classic heroes.  It was wondrous to watch this new era of DC unfold from the beginning.  Their origins were explained in the tales above, but the birth DC’s new shared universe happened in the pages of Legends.  Over the course of the next twenty years, DC would orchestrate some of the most compelling and memorable stories in the history of comic books.  Superman would face his own mortality at the hands of Doomsday (see Death of Superman), Lois and Clark would finally tie the knot (see The Wedding and Beyond), and the Man of Steel would face one of his toughest challenges yet, living in a world where Lex Luthor is the President of the United States!  Batman would suffer through the death of Robin (see A Death in the Family), a broken back (see Knightfall), and the destruction of the city under his protection (see Cataclysm and No Man’s Land).  During this time, fans would witness the fall of an icon and the rise of a new hero in Emerald Twilight/New Dawn, the loss of Aquaman’s hand (see Aquaman #2), and the Death of Wonder Woman.  Fans would also see the emergence of new and exciting heroes like Booster Gold, Superboy (Connor Kent), Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, Impulse, and Steel.  This era was also peppered with universe-shaking events like Millennium, Cosmic Odyssey, Zero Hour, Final Night, and Our Worlds at War.  The Post-Crisis DCU was rocketing along, and it was all leading toward an unbelievable climax!


    Prelude to Infinite Crisis There’s a disturbance in the force.  Truer words could not describe the months leading up to Infinite Crisis.  In the pages of Countdown to Infinite Crisis, a much beloved and oft taking for granted hero of the Post-Crisis era embarks on an investigation that uncovers a conspiracy to unravel and destroy the very fabric of the super hero community.  As the ominous cover for this issue shows, this hero pays for this discovery with his life.  In Lightning Strikes, Superman and Captain Marvel discover a force for darkness making a power play.  And, in Planet Heist, a cataclysmic event occurs that will cause the galaxy to erupt into intergalactic warfare.  By time the heroes discover that something is wrong, it is already too late, and events are set in motion.  Day of Vengeance sees the Spectre gone mad and using his divine might to bring about the end of magic.  The OMAC Project sheds light on the Caped Crusader’s darkest secret and foreshadows the end of the Age of Heroes.  In the Rann-Thanagar War, the center of the DCU is shifted from OA and the cosmic heroes have their hands full trying to stop a conflict that will make World War II look like a balloon fight.  In Villains United, the super villain community begins to consolidate their evil might and prepare for an all-out coup.  And, in the middle of all this, the DCU’s greatest heroes – Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman – find their trust in each other and friendships fractured and at an all-time low.  Thus, amid complete and utter discord, the Crisis begins!   


    Infinite Crisis – A mysterious group of heroes from DC’s past returns to pass judgement on this Post-Crisis DCU.  They feel this new Earth has become a dark place with heroes that are only a few shades lighter than the villains they battle.  This was commentary on the state of the comic industry as whole, more specifically the decade of the 90s where it seemed dark and gritty trumped over heroic and positive.  This mysterious band of heroes, survivors of the Pre-Crisis DCU, found themselves thinking that maybe the wrong Earth survived the original Crisis.  Amid villains uniting, a conspiracy to eliminate the heroes, a war brewing in outer space, and magic gone wild, the heroes were faced with their greatest challenge yet.  Just when all seemed lost, and the morale of the World’s Greatest Heroes was at an all-time low, a beacon of hope emerged.  Dick Grayson, the original Boy Wonder now Nightwing, showed up and reminded everyone just what it is to be a hero.  He was the guiding light to show the way and remind the super hero community why it is they do what they do.  Unfortunately, it is another 2nd generation hero who would fall from grace and show the world just how corruptible ultimate power can be.  And, it takes the heroic sacrifice of another hero to awaken the DCU’s champions from their funk and rally in time to stop the destruction of the DCU.    


    The Aftermath – The aftershocks of this mega event would be felt for years to come.  The Spectre was made to pay the price for his rampage and a new Spirit of Vengeance was born.  A New Flash would emerge from the Speed Force.  Uncle Sam would assemble a new team of Freedom Fighters to honor his comrades that fell during the opening shots of Infinite Crisis.  The universal upheaval would lead to the Sinestro Corps War, a campaign that saw the return of Superboy-Prime, who also continued his sinister quest for universal annihilation in the pages of Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds.  And, the DCU would spend a year without the protection of their three biggest icons in the pages of 52 Weeks.      


    With the launch of DC Comics The New 52 in 2011, DC closed the door on its Post-Crisis era of storytelling.  It was a tumultuous era with some of the most compelling stories in the history of comics.  It was an era kicked off by Crisis on Infinite Earths and bookended perfectly ten years ago by one of the best comic stories of the modern era – Infinite Crisis.  


    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell