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So Sayeth the Odinson — with Michael Breakfield

  • The Odinson’s Top 5 Post-Apocalyptic Landscapes

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

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

     

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

     

    The Odinson’s Top 5 Post-Apocalyptic Landscapes

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • The Odinson’s Top 5 Unconventional Rivalries in Comics

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    The Odinson’s Top 5 Unconventional Rivalries

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    Top 5 Rivalries the Odinson Wants to See Grow

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

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

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • The Odinson Explores the Age of the TV Super Hero

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • Happy Halloween 2014 from the Odinson

    Happy Halloween from the Odinson,

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    Top 5 Hellspawn that Haunt Our Nightmares

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    Hellspawn Hall of Fame: Cthulhu

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • The Odinson Presents Batman's Most Underrated Foes

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    Top 5 Underrated Bat-Foes

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • Marvel Comics Celebrates the 30th Anniversary of Secret Wars

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    The Alex Ross piece includes characters from:

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • Death in Comics: Part 2 of 2 – The Death of Wolverine

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    Last week, from the Death of Robin to the Fall of Spider-Man, the Odinson talked about the rise of the Event Death in Comics.  Well, now Marvel Comics sets out to trump all other super hero deaths by killing off the unkillable super hero. 

     

    Death in Comics: Part 2 of 2 – The Death of Wolverine

     

    This new mini-series from the House of Ideas is the latest in a long series of Event Deaths in comics to come down the pipeline.  On one hand, of course Wolverine should make the A-List characters like Superman, Wonder Woman, Thor, and Captain America who have also met their maker.  In fact, these days, if the character has a high profile death it’s almost a sign of validation, a sign that they have made it to the Big Leagues.  But there is just one problem this time around.  Next to the Hulk (as seen in Hulk: The End), Wolverine is probably the most unkillable hero in comics.  NOTE: Deadpool doesn’t count because he’s just ridiculous.      

     

    The man for the longest time simply known as Logan has had a long, tumultuous, and mysterious history which has been explored in Origin, Origin II, Weapon X, and various other tales.  He has been a wanderer, feral, a weapon, a soldier, a secret agent, a berserker, a samurai, a villain, and a hero.  Even more so than Magneto and Prince Namor, Wolverine has been one of the most complicated and contradictory personalities in comics. 

     

    When the Odinson hears that Wolverine is the next hero to meet his maker two things come to mind.  On one hand, with his mutant healing factor, Adamantium-laced skeleton, speed, strength, superhuman senses, and fighting prowess, Wolverine is one of the most indestructible characters in comics history.  On the other hand, for such an indestructible character, it sure does seem like Wolverine has met his maker more times than any other hero in the history of comics. 

     

    Wolverine’s unbreakable bones and superhuman healing along with his Adamantium claws and fighting skills have allowed him to stand toe-to-toe with some of the strongest, deadliest, and best fighters in the world, a list that includes Hulk, Sabretooth, Captain America, Deadpool and many more!  He has been shot, stabbed, ran over, and blown up and still he heals, gets back up, and is ready to fight on.  He has been ripped in half by the Incredible Hulk, he’s been cut to shreds by the deadly Marauders, he has been crucified by the cyborg Reavers, and he has had his indestructible bones turned into rubber by the cosmic power of the Infinity Gauntlet and yet he still comes back for more.  He even once had the Adamantium forcibly ripped from his body by the Master of Magnetism, Magneto, which left Wolverine a mass of bloody pulp held together only by the mutant mind powers of Jean Grey.

     

    Unbelievably, Logan survived that last one and the traumatic event even kicked his mutant healing factor into overdrive making him even harder to kill.  Before this, poisons could actually slow him down, gunshot wounds would take days to heal and burnt flesh could take weeks (see The Japan Adventure and Kitty Pryde and Wolverine).  But now, all these only take him moments to recover from.  So, why is he now seemingly become easier to kill?

     

    The Many Deaths of Wolverine

     

    Days of Future Past In the not too distant future, the mutant-hunting Sentinels have all but exterminated mutantkind and actually taken control of North America.  The Children of the Atom come up with a desperate plan to change the course of history.  During the X-Men’s last stand, the mutant heroes fall.  Wolverine is flash-fried by one of the giant robots, his clothes, flesh, and muscle instantly vaporized leaving behind only his smoldering indestructible skeleton.  Though this marked the first time Logan met his maker, in the years since, it has been shown that such an attack would not kill him.  In fact, when the super villain Nitro attacked Wolverine in a similar fashion, not only did it not kill Wolverine, but he healed from the wounds in a matter of moments.  This a byproduct of his mutant healing factor being kicked into overdrive after Magneto’s attack during the Fatal Attraction caper.

     

    The Bite of a Vampire In the classic 2-part tale from Uncanny X-Men #159 and Annual #6, the mutant heroes barely survive an encounter with the Prince of Darkness, Dracula.  However, in What If? #24, it is shown that not only did Wolverine not survive this dark encounter but that he is transformed into a vampire.  He quickly usurps Dracula as the King of Vampires and begins to raise an army of mutant-vampires to take over the world.  It is only through the heroic actions and sacrifices of the Punisher, Kitty Pryde, and a ghostly Doctor Strange that the undead Wolverine is destroyed and the vampire threat stopped.  The Odinson knows that this is an alternate universe but it does show that before his healing factor was kicked into over-drive by Magneto’s attack, that he could be killed by the bite of a vampire, at least one is powerful as Dracula.  

     

    Lost in the Funhouse One fateful evening the X-Men are awakened by the arrival of a seemingly unstoppable alien warlord named Horde and forced to take on an impossible quest to enter the celestial Citadel of Light and Shadows and retrieve a crystal of immeasurable cosmic power.  Many, many would be heroes and plunderers from all across the cosmos have tried to obtain this prize before, and failed.  Their souls are now imprisoned in monolithic statues on the road leading up to the monstrous Citadel.  The Citadel protects the priceless treasure within by offering those that enter their heart’s desire.  One by one, each member of the X-Men falls to the Citadel’s seductive power until Wolverine, the only hero able to resist, is the last X-Man standing.  He makes it to the crystal but Horde shows up, over powers him, and rips his heart from his chest.  As the light goes out in Logan’s eyes, a single drop of his blood falls upon the crystal.  The crystal resurrects him and empowers him with cosmic might that revivals the Phoenix Force!  He easily defeats Horde, but knowing that no mere mortal should possess such power, Wolverine shatters the crystal.  By doing so, Wolverine is the first true hero to pass the Citadel’s celestial test.  His friends and allies are restored and returned home.  In that moment, Wolverine proved that he is not only the X-Men’s champion but that he is a champion for all mankind.          

     

    Death by Death – When the mutant tyrant Apocalypse returns and the long-running mystery of The Twelve is finally revealed, the X-Men must once again face the Four Horsemen of Apocalypse.  The mutant heroes are completely taken off guard when their toughest member, Wolverine, is suddenly and violently murdered by the horseman Death.  However, it would soon be revealed that the dead Wolverine was in fact a shape-shifting Skrull and the horseman Death was in fact a brainwashed Wolverine.  Though this is not technically a true death of Wolverine, I include it on the list because the shock of the moment was no less real.  

     

    Marvel Zombies When a mysterious virus of unknown origin sweeps across the Marvel U, all the super powered beings are transformed into flesh-eating monsters with an insatiable appetite for those they once protected.  Nobody is immune to the zombification, not the immortal Thor, not the gamma-powered Hulk, not the cosmic ray-charged Fantastic Four, not even the super mutant healing factor of Wolverine could stop the infection.  The undead Marvel Zombies spread out all over the world and eventually across the cosmos.  They even invade the Ultimate Universe and the 616!  They are a deadly undead threat that has yet to be fully stopped!      

     

    Enemy of the State In this classic tale, Wolverine is lured into a trap by his enemies The Hand and murdered by the deadly assassin known as the Gorgon.  The Hand use their ninja black magic to resurrect Wolverine and turn him into their number one assassin.  Wolverine is turned against the world he once protected and nobody is safe, not Elektra, not the Fantastic Four, not SHIELD, not Daredevil, not even his former allies and friends, the X-Men.  It takes Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the Avengers, to finally wrangle in the brainwashed hero and return him to the side of the White Hats.    

     

    Logan Dies Here, Wolverine’s body is rendered brain dead and Logan is forced to fight for his very soul in the afterlife against his greatest foes. 

     

    Ultimatum – In the catastrophic events of this Ultimate Universe-changing storyline, Wolverine, along with many other Ultimate Heroes, meets his end.  In the final battle with the murderous Master of Magnetism, Magneto uses his mutant powers to cause Iron Man and Cyclops to incinerate Wolverine.  Even on the cusp of death, Logan manages to deliver a mortal blow to the mutant terrorist.  Magneto then uses his power to completely obliterate Logan from the face of the earth.  The only thing left of the mutant hero is half an Adamantium-laced skeletal arm.

     

    Wolverine Goes to Hell In a very similar tale to Logan Dies, once again Wolverine meets his demise but this time his soul is sent to Hell.  As Wolverine is confronted by damned souls of every single enemy he has slain over the course of his century-long life, his body back in the land of the living is possessed by a demon and trying to murder his friends.  If Logan’s soul is going to survive an onslaught of the damned and prevent his demon-possessed body from destroying everything he loves, he’ll need a little help from the Spirit of Vengeance, Ghost Rider, and Daimon Hellstrom, the Son of Satan.

     

    Which brings up the present and the Death of Wolverine.  You know, for such an indestructible character, Wolverine sure does seem to die a lot.  But none of these previous demises have kept the ole Canucklehead down.  So why should we believe this time will be different?  Well this time around, Marvel has taken away Logan’s healing factor.  Long before every other costumed crime-fighter and super assassin in comics had a healing factor Wolverine was the first.  Along with his Adamantium-laced skeleton, Wolverine’s super ability to heal had made him nigh unkillable. 

     

    Will Marvel finally pull off what countless gamma-charged monsters, mutant-hunting robots, ninja assassins, super-powered madmen, alien titans, and demonic gods could not?  Will this truly be the Death of Wolverine? 

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

     

     

  • Death in Comics: Part 1 of 2 – The Rise of the Event Death

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    With Death of Wolverine, Marvel Comics sets out to trump all other super hero deaths by killing off the unkillable super hero.  From Homer’s Iliad to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, death has always had a place and played a major role in popular fiction.  Over the course of Comics History, a death in comics has played a major role.  Some deaths like those of Bruce Wayne’s Parents and Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben are the character-defining moments in the lives of two of the medium’s all-time greatest super heroes.          

     

    Some comic book deaths occur during the course of a storyline to add an added exclamation onto the climax of a tale.  The death of Bucky was an incident that haunted Steve Rogers for many, many years and was a guilt with which he would struggle greatly upon his initial thawing from the ice.  The death of Gwen Stacy, arguably Peter Parker’s greatest love, at the hands of his greatest enemy has haunted Spider-Man to this day.  The Dark Phoenix Saga saw the beloved Jean Grey succumb to the possession of a cosmic power beyond comprehension.  It was an event that resulted in the death of billions and culminated with her own demise.  Then came the DCU-redefining tale, Crisis on Infinite Earths, which features the demises of dozens of heroes and villains, not the least of which were the heroic deaths of the Flash (Barry Allen) and Supergirl.   

     

    Throughout the Golden Age, Silver Age, and Bronze Age, death in comics has been used as a plot device, a tool with which to incite emotion or move a story forward.  However, in the late 1980s, the industry turned a corner and the Comic Book Death became an event.

     

    Death in Comics: Part 1 of 2 – The Rise of the Event Death

     

    Death of Robin (The First) The demise of the second Robin, Jason Todd, was the first “Event Death” in Comics History.  After Batman’s first sidekick, Dick Grayson, graduated to the role of Nightwing and leader of the Teen Titans, Batman took on another protégé.  However, the snotty attitude of this new Robin never really caught on with the fans, so DC Comics put the second Boy Wonder’s fate in the hands of the fans.  In the days before the internet, they sent out two 1-800 numbers.  Call one and Robin would live.  Call the other and Robin would die.  Though it was a close vote, the fans ultimately voted for the demise of Jason Todd.  Everyone knows that Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns is the tale that redefined Batman for the modern age, but it was this tragic event which happened in DC cannon that changed the man behind the cowl and set him on the darker, broodier path that has defined him ever since.  Along with the death of his parents, no event in Batman History has had as much effect on the Dark Knight more so than the death of Robin at the hands of the Joker.  NOTE: I want it noted that though I was no fan of Jason Todd, the Odinson did call in and vote for Robin to live.  I am not a big fan of my heroes failing.       

     

    Death of Superman (The Biggest) The demise of the first and great super hero in history was, hands down, the biggest “Event Death” in Comics History.  Not since “Who shot JR?” has a pop culture event captured the imagination of the media and the populace at large the way this one did.  The news of the Last Son of Krypton falling at the hands of the monster Doomsday, made headlines around the world and even led primetime news casts.  It was a pop culture phenomenon and Superman #75 became one the Top 5 greatest selling single issues in the history of comic books.  For years leading up to this event, the Man of Steel’s popularity with fans had been waning and readers were taking him for granted.  The death of Superman showed everyone - in the DCU and the real world - what a World without Superman would be like.  Everyone remembered just how much they loved this great American icon and how important he actually is to the mythos of modern pop culture and storytelling.      

     

    Death of Captain America (The Most Poignant) The death of the Man of Steel might have been the biggest media “Event Death” but the death of Captain America was the most heart-wrenching and gut-punching super hero death for the Marvel Universe, for the real world media, and especially for the Odinson.  After the super hero Civil War tore the Marvel U in half, the world’s greatest hero, the one man that all the super powers of the Marvel Universe, from the Children of the Atom to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, look up to, the one man that even arch villains like Doctor Doom and Magneto respects, was assassinated.  It felt like the heart of the Marvel Universe had been ripped out.  The Odinson has made no qualms about who his favorite heroes are.  On the Mount Rushmore of the Odinson’s all-time favorite super heroes is Superman, Thor, ROM, and, head-and-shoulders above all others, Captain America.  I know that I am too old to get sucked into the melodrama of comic books and I have seen this scenario play out too many times to be fooled by it, but I could not help but be affected by the demise of my hero.  It hit the Odinson like a ton of bricks.  Like the heroes of the Marvel U, I too went through all the stages of grief - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  Like Superman, Captain America represents the best that mankind can be, and I’m not talking about their super human attributes.  I’m talking about the moral compass, the leadership, the innate goodness, the want to help others, the striving to be the best man, woman or child one can be.  I’m talking about the ability to find a better way, no matter what, to lead by example, to inspire.  That is why the death of Captain America not only resonated so much with the Odinson and the Marvel Universe, but also with the real world itself.     

     

    Death of Spider-Man (The Most Shocking) The demise of the Boy Wonder may have been the first, the demise of the Man of Steel may have been the biggest, and the demise of the Sentinel of Liberty may have been the most heartbreaking, but the death of Spider-Man was the most shocking!  When the moment came, the Odinson could not believe the courage of the House of Ideas to actually follow through with it.  It’s not that the Odinson could not believe that they killed off yet another comic book icon.  No, we’ve seen that scenario play out many, many times over the years.  No, it was how they executed it.  For years, Spider-Man had faced every single death trap, master plan, and sneak attack his brilliant foe Doctor Octopus could throw at him, but the hero can win a thousand times, the villain only has to win once.  In the aftermath of the final battle between these eternal foes, Peter Parker, trapped inside the decaying body of his arch enemy, lay dead, and standing over him triumphant stood the Superior Spider-Man.  Otto Octavius had accomplished what few super villains have in the history of comics, he had defeated and killed his hated enemy, and worse, he took control of his foe’s body in the process.  The death of Spider-Man led to two years of decidedly different Spidey-storytelling as the spectacular wall-crawler was replaced by Otto’s “Superior” brand.  As polarizing as the Superior Spider-Man arc has been, one thing cannot be denied, it was interesting and original.         

     

    The Age of the Super Hero Death (The Trend) – In the twenty years following the demise of the Man of Steel, the landscape of the comics multiverse became littered with the bodies of fallen heroes.  It soon became a trend in the industry, almost as if a character could be validated without being offed.  Now I’m not referring to “What If?” scenarios or Elseworlds alternate realities.  No, I’m referring to deaths that happen within the narrative of continuity.  The following is by no means a complete list of all those that met their maker during this time but from 1994 to 2014 here are some of the more prominent names on the list of heroes that met their demise - Wonder Woman, Iron Man, Hal Jordan, Aquaman, Green Arrow, StormWatch, Avengers Disassembled (Featuring the deaths of Hawkeye, Ant-Man, Jack-o-Hearts, and Vision), Thor, Batman, Spawn, Mister Fantastic and the Human Torch.  Even the death of the entire Marvel Universe and another Robin happened during this time period.  Pretty much anyone and everyone in the pages of modern comics has met their end at one point in time or another.  The Age of Death in Comics reached its pinnacle when fans had to suffer the Death of Archie.

     

    Even though in real life it is quite the opposite, there is one truth in comic books – death is never the end.  In comics, the afterlife has a revolving door and any and everyone who meets their maker sooner or later finds their way back to the land of the living.  Yes, even Bucky.  Which brings the Odinson to the next major “Event Death” to come down the pipeline.

     

    Be here next week when the Odinson takes a look at the Death of Wolverine.   

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

  • The Odinson’s Top 5 Doctor Who Moments of the New Millennium

    Greetings from the Odinson,

     

    Launched in 1963, Doctor Who is the longest running science fiction television series in the history of the medium.  Like James Bond, many different actors have taken on the mantle of the Doctor.  Whether it was William Hartnell’s cantankerous and character-defining 1st Doctor, Peter Davison’s celery-sporting 5th Doctor, or the over-the-top, rainbow clad, volatile 6th Doctor portrayed by Colin Baker, every generation and every fan has their favorite Doctor.  As a child of the late-seventies and early eighties watching syndicated episodes of the show on PBS on Saturday nights, the Odinson grew up with the marvelous Tom Baker and the sweeping scarf of the 4th Doctor.  From the devastating Daleks and the cold, calculating Cybermen to the sinister Weeping Angels and the Moriarty-like Master, Doctor Who’s scary and diabolical Rogues Gallery is part of what makes the series so enjoyable.   

     

    Doctor Who ran uninterrupted for 26 seasons from 1963 to 1989.  It had a resurgence in 1996.  But the show really jumped over the moon in its current run of 2005 to Present.  Christopher Eccleston’s 9th Doctor brought the character into the New Millennium with biting-wit and a wink that let everybody know that no matter how bad things may get, everything was going to be alright.  David Tennant’s 10th Doctor, arguably the most popular incarnation of the character to date, took on the perils and danger of time travel with an unparalleled passion and his heart firmly pinned to his sleeve.  For the Odinson, with much love given to Tom Baker and Tennant, his all-time favorite incarnation of the Doctor is, without a doubt, Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor, a bow tie clad imp who one second could be taking on the challenges of time travel with childlike wonder and on a dime turn into the most intimidating and capable hero the multiverse has ever seen.

     

    Doctor Who has had a long and distinguished run and to try and talk about all the countless amazing moments in its history would be an act in futility.  So I will just stick to the renaissance.    

     

    The Odinson’s Top 5 Doctor Who Moments of the New Millennium

     

    5 –Fair Enough.” - The 9th Doctor - Episode: “World War III!” – Picking up from the previous episode’s cliffhanger, the Slitheen, blobby aliens that use skin suits to walk amongst us, have revealed themselves and attack a group of influential government leaders.  The Doctor alerts a team of armed guards of the plight.  By time the Doctor and the guards return, the aliens have slithered back into their skin suits, appearing to be human and blame the deaths of the others on the Doctor.  The Doctor pleas with the guards, saying that the high ranking government officials standing before them are in fact aliens in disguise.  The Doctor, noticing the skepticism in a guard’s face, asks, “That’s never going to work, is it?”  To which the guard replies, “No.”  The Doctor simply says, “Fair enough,” and then just runs away.  The absurdity of that moment has me in stitches every time I see it.  It is, hands down, one the funniest moments in Doctor Who History.      

     

    4 – “I don’t want to go.” - The 10th Doctor - Episode: “The End of Time!” – After his much beloved run on the character, and an epic battle to save reality alongside his longtime nemesis, The Master, David Tennant’s 10th Doctor bid Adieu.  During the final chapter, the 10th Doctor travels across time and space and says farewell to all his friends, allies and companions in a very poignant montage.  The moment culminates in a signature Tennant driven emotional finale where the 10th Doctor, with tears in his eyes, simply says – “I don’t want to go.”  It’s a beautiful moment that conveys all the love fans have for this legendary character and the love the creators of the show have for the fans.       

     

    3 – “Spoilers!” - The 10th Doctor - Episode: “Forrest of the Dead!” – In a moment of heroism, Professor River Song sacrifices herself to save the life of the Doctor.  She tells him that if he were to die now, then they would have never met in her past.  How does she know so much about the Doctor? This moment could make the list on the weight of its emotional content alone, but what really makes this an all-timer is the gravitas of the moment, the secret truth behind it as it would be revealed over the course of the next few years of Doctor Who episodes.  Without giving too much away, Doctor Who and River Song have an epic and tragic love affair where throughout their history starting at the beginning point of this episode, he knows her more and she knows him less as their paths cross time and again moving forward into the future.  Isn’t time-travel fun?  The wonderful meaning of this moment will be made quite clear and all the more resonating as the series progresses and the viewers of the show witness their story unfold throughout the 11th Doctor’s run.  “Spoilers!”   

     

    2 – “…there’s one thing you never put in a trap… - The 11th Doctor - Episode: “The Time of Angels!” – The Weeping Angels, easily one of the Doctor’s most terrifying foes, have returned.  These creatures are angelic statues, as long as one has eyes on them.  But, the moment you blink or the lights go out, you’re dead.  In this amazingly suspenseful episode, The Doctor, his companion, Amy Pond, River Song, and a small band of soldiers are trapped in a cave, surrounded by the approaching Angels, and the power to their only sources of light is quickly dying.  With nowhere left to run and certain death literally moments away, the Weeping Angels make a tactical error.  They taunt the Doctor with their impending victory and reveal that the last human under his protection died with fear.  It’s in moments like this that the Doctor truly shines and the uncanny Time Lord responds to this no win situation by saying – “…there’s one thing you never put in a trap, if you’re smart, if you value your existence, if you have any plans about seeing tomorrow, there’s one thing you never ever put in a trap.”  To which the Angels ask, “And what would that be?”  And with all the confidence of a true hero, the Doctor says, “Me.”  What happens next would be spoiling the fun, but let’s just say, the Doctor is true to his word.

     

    1 – “Hello.  I’m the Doctor.  Basically, run.” - The 11th Doctor - Episode: “The Eleventh Hour!” – If I knew someone who knew nothing about Doctor Who and had never watched a single episode and they asked what one episode they could watch to make them a fan, this would be the episode I would show them.  Matt Smith explodes into the role with all the boyish charm and brilliant comedic timing of a seasoned pro.  We learn that there is a crack in the time stream, a mystery that would go on to play a major role in the run of the 11th Doctor.  We are even introduced to Prisoner Zero, a sinister new dangerous and scary villain.  As if that weren’t enough we are introduced to the beautiful and resourceful Amy Pond, the girl who waits, the brave and oft times silly Rory Williams, the Last Centurion, and the fact that bow ties are cool.  But those are not the moments that make this entry number one on my list.  No, it is as the Doctor stands, nonchalantly trying decide which tie to go with, he calls back the alien Atraxi fleet, which decided not to blow up the planet Earth.  The Doctor tells the giant alien eye ball to take a good look at him.  The Atraxi (and the audience) see in that moment the history of Doctor Who, and all the would-be alien conquerors that have threatened this world and met defeat at his hands flash by in an instant.  In that moment, the Atraxi fleet realizes who it is that protects planet Earth and all of humanity.  The Doctor simply says, “Hello.  I’m the Doctor.  Basically, run.”  And they do.  This is the moment for the Odinson that in a nutshell explains just what this show and the Doctor is.  FANTASTIC!

     

    Honorable Mention: The Day of the Doctor – Not only does this epic special bring together two of the most beloved Doctors in history – David Tennant’s 10th Doctor and Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor – and team them up with the “War Doctor,” the Doctor responsible for the guilt all Doctors share, but in one tremendously epic moment, the audience witnesses the team-up of every single incarnation of the Doctor from the past, present, and future!  It’s a spectacular sight to behold.

     

    From “Do the smart thing and let somebody else try first” to “You smell like fish” – there are so many great and wonderful moments from the history of this legendary show.  These Top 5 moments above are the Odinson’s favorite Doctor Who moments of the New Millennium.  What are yours?  Geronimo!

     

    This is Odinson bidding thee farewell