So Sayeth the Odinson — with Michael Breakfield

  • The Odinson’s Countdown to Halloween - Part 1 of 5: 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 5: 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     

  • The Odinson’s Top 10 Awakenings


    Greetings from the Odinson,


    This morning I awoke exactly one minute before my alarm was set to go off.  There are few more defeating moments one will experience in life than being cheated out of that last minute of sleep.  It’s just a moment, but that one moment, good or bad, can determine what kind of day one will have. 


    A third of life is spent sleeping.  It is during this rest period that the body and mind recoup and recharge, like a battery.  If it is a good sleep, I’ll awaken fresh and ready to take on the day.  If it is a restless slumber or a sleep that has been cut short, I can awaken in not the best of moods.  


    Rip Van Winkle, to escape the nagging of his wife, walked into the hills and took a nap.  When he awoke, he returned to his village to find his wife dead and gone, his son a full grown man, and America now free of King George III’s tyranny.  He found he had slept for twenty years and awoke to find his world a very different place than the one he knew. Awakenings, good and bad, are a plot device often used in storytelling.         


    The Odinson’s Top 10 Awakenings


    Princess Aurora – Cursed by the wicked witch, Princess Aurora would live out eternity trapped in a death-like sleep.  She could only be awakened by true love’s kiss.  Up for the challenge, young Prince Charming rides into town, but first he will have to defeat the wicked sorceress, Maleficent, and that will be no easy task for the wicked witch transforms herself into a monstrous acid-spewing shadow dragon!  Armed with a magic sword of truth and helped by a trio of benevolent fairies, Prince Charming slays the beast.  With true love’s first kiss, Prince Charming awakens Sleeping Beauty from her slumber and they live happily ever after.   


    Smaug – The hobbit Bilbo Baggins joins a band of dwarfs led by Thorin Oakenshield on an unexpected journey to reclaim the dwarf’s ancestral home.  Unfortunately, many years ago, the great wyrm, Smaug, usurped the kingdom under the mountain and has taken up residency there.  All this time, the great beast has slumbered, but the intrusion of a certain unseen “thief” entering his lair has awakened the dragon.  As you can imagine, awaking to find a thief in his home and dwarfs knocking at the door has not left Smaug in the greatest of moods.  Unfortunately, it may just be the human folks of Lake-town that suffer his wrath. 


    Imhotep – The Egyptian priest, Imhotep, attempted to use dark powers to resurrect his dead lover.  Caught in the act, Imhotep was punished.  He was mummified and entombed alive, but not before he cast one final curse.  3,000 years later, Imhotep’s mummy is exhumed from its crypt and the ancient priest awakens from his millennia long slumber, and not in the best of moods.  Empowered by dark powers from beyond the grave, Imhotep is now a cursed creature that stalks the world of the living and is a plague on mankind.     


    Ghosts of Mars – One-hundred years into the future, a terraforming colony on Mars accidently awakens something that had been buried ages ago.  As this classic John Carpenter sci-fi/horror unfolds, an elite squad of peacekeepers discovers that ancient spirits from the Red Planet’s past have awaken and taken possession of the colonists, and they are not happy by the presence of off-worlders.  If our intrepid group is going to survive the night, they may have to rely on the help of the very criminals they have come to transport to prison?  


    The Evil Dead – For a group of college kids it was just supposed to be a fun weekend spent at a remote cabin in the woods.  However, when they discover an ominous book and begin reading passages from it, they awaken something evil.  This ancient tomb, scrawled in blood and bound in human flesh, is the infamous Necronomicon, the Book of the Dead.  And, what these clueless kids have awakened is the Army of Darkness, a plague of undead that will sweep across the land and end the world as we know it.  There is only one man that can save us, the Chosen One simply known as Ash.  Groovy.  


    Mothra – When savage kaiju rise from the sea, erupt from the bowels of the earth, or descend from the heavens above, and Godzilla or the Megazord are not around to help, there is one monstrous hero mankind can count on to save the day – Mothra!  However, the great beast must be awakened by the twin fairies - Lora and Moll.  With their siren-like song, these tiny little beauties awaken the great larval that will quickly evolve into the mighty Mothra! 


    The Engineers – Much like the Celestials of the Marvel Universe, these monolithic giants like to play god and experiment with evolution.  Eons ago, it is suggested that one such experiment by one of these beings is what led to life on Earth.  In the distant future, the brave crew of the Prometheus tracks this experiment back to its source on a far off world where they discover a derelict alien spacecraft.  Unfortunate series of events begin to hinder and flat out threaten the lives of the crew.  When they search the alien ship, they discover a chamber and awaken one of the colossal Engineers who has been slumbering in cryogenic stasis.  Unfortunately, for the crew of the Prometheus, the Engineer is not happy with the progression of mankind and attempts to destroy them.  Then the Engineers attempt to flee this world and return to Earth where they plan to destroy all mankind.  Oh, and if that wasn’t enough to not like these guys very much, the Engineers are also responsible for the creation of the galaxy’s most terrorizing biological weapon – the Xenomorph!    


    The Gargoyles – During the Middle Ages, Goliath and his clan of monstrous gargoyles protected the kingdom against evil invaders that would threaten their human allies.  However, betrayed by one of their own, the gargoyles were cursed to sleep for one thousand years.  Now, in the modern day, the gargoyles live again!  By day they slumber as lifeless stone statues, but by night, they awaken and are mighty warriors that fight for justice and protect their new kingdom, the kingdom of Manhattan, from the forces of evil.


    Xaltotun – Next to Thulsa Doom, this wicked wizard is probably Conan’s greatest adversary.  Many centuries before the rise of King Conan, Xaltotun was mummified and entombed in an ancient crypt.  In the pages of Robert E. Howard’s classic tale The Hour of the Dragon, it was a band of selfish, ambitious men who unearthed his remains and awoke this evil wizard whose black magic would not only threaten Conan’s Kingdom of Aquilonia, but the entire Hyborian Age!


    Apocalypse – En Sabah Nur is a 5,000 year old mutant tyrant that believes whole heartedly in the survival of the fittest.  From time-to-time throughout history, in order to recharge his immortal might, Apocalypse must slumber, sometimes for centuries at a time.  It was in the days leading up to the infamous campaign Fall of the Mutants, that Apocalypse awoke in modern times and with him his philosophy.  Backed by Celestial-level technology and mutant powers that rival Magneto, Apocalypse has become one of the Marvel Universe’s biggest Big Bads.  From Fall of the Mutants to Age of Apocalypse, X-cutioner’s Song to The Twelve, En Sabah Nur is bad news, for every time this guy wakes up from a nap, the end of the world soon follows.      


    Awakenings can be quite the endeavor.  Luckily for the Odinson there is the smooth, black elixir known as coffee.  With a hot, fresh brewed cup of coffee in my hand, I can endure any awakening and face the day, even if that awakening comes exactly one minute before my alarm clock is set to go off.


    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     



  • The Odinson Celebrates the 40th Anniversary of JAWS

    Greetings from the Odinson,


    On September 3rd, the Odinson got to fulfill a lifelong dream.  I got to see JAWS on the Big Screen at the Alamo Draft House in Dallas.  There are a few significant bits of history I learned that night.  One, the very first film the Alamo Draft House showed when they opened for business was JAWS.  Second, back in 1975, when Steven Spielberg was test screening his movie, he did it in Dallas (at a theatre that no longer exist and whose name escapes me) and it ran so well that Dallas became his lucky charm for future test screenings.  


    I was only a year old when this seminal film hit theatres in the summer of 1975, so I missed its first theatrical run.  JAWS has the distinct honor of being the very first recognized Summer Blockbuster Movie in history.  Before Star Wars, before Jurassic Park, before the Avengers, there was JAWS!   I love this film.  It’s one of those movies I watch at least once a year.  As I sat and thought about my favorite movies of All-Time I realized something else, I realized just how rooted in comic books and pop culture my taste in cinema is, and why not?  Even if under the banner of “Proto-Culture,” it was Earth’s pop culture that helped defeat the alien Zentradi during The Macross Saga.       



    Along with Star Wars: A New Hope, The Matrix, Clerks, and The Crow, JAWS fills out my Top 5 favorite movies of All-Time.  The story is great, the acting is superb, the music is legendary, and the directing is top drawer.  JAWS is a perfect movie, a piece of art.  More times than not, when a film is adapted from a novel, the book is usually better than the film.  Well, I read the novel and in this instance, JAWS the movie is far superior to JAWS the book. 


    JAWS can be enjoyed by all viewers on many different levels.  The first half of the movie has drama, humor, and suspense, and character building the likes rarely seen in cinema anymore.  By time we enter the second half of the film the viewers care about the characters on the screen and the future of the citizens on Amity Island.  The second half of the film becomes an epic action/adventure that by the end of the movie quickly devolves into a survivor story.  There’s something very primal about that. 


    To say that JAWS was an influential film is a huge understatement.  John Carpenter said that the reason his seminal film Halloween is shot the way it is, much of it from the Michael Myer’s point of view, was a direct influence of Spielberg shooting from the point of view of the shark in JAWS.  JAWS revived the monster movie as well.  From Piranha (1978) to Anaconda (1997), Lake Placid (1999) to Sharknado (2013), the influence and inspiration is there.  Good and bad, the Syfy channel owes 90% of its programming to the influence of JAWS.  But, JAWS also has something that most of its cinematic children do not, a compelling story to tell.  JAWS taps into all four rules of CONFLICT in storytelling – Man vs. Man (Hooper’s new ways vs. Quint’s old ways); Man vs. Society (Sheriff Brody vs. town politics); Man vs. Nature (the brave crew of the Orca vs. the shark); Man vs. Himself (Brody vs. his fear of the water). 


    Odinson Rating: 5 out of 5 Hammers and a Thunderclap


    If you haven’t seen JAWS in a while or if you just chalk it up to that movie you saw a long time ago, do yourself a favor and watch it again.  Watch it again and take a moment to truly appreciate the gold that is unfolding on the screen.  There is a reason why Steven Spielberg is recognized as one of the greatest visual storytellers in history.  I shared JAWS with my son for the first time last year and he loved it!  JAWS is a piece of cinema art that should be passed down from generation to generation.   And, with 2015 being the 40th Anniversary of JAWS, there is no better time than now to revisit this masterpiece.


    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • The Odinson’s Favorite Eye-Catching Covers of the Modern Era

    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 an 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     


  • The Odinson’s Favorite Science Fiction in Pop Culture

    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     


  • The Odinson’s Top 10 Mad Scientists

    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     


  • The Odinson’s Top 5 Hulk Artists

    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.


    Honorable Mentions: Jack Kirby, Mike Mignola, Carlo Pagulayan and Aaron Lopresti, and Gary Frank.


    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     

  • The Many Incarnations of the Hulk

    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