Happy New Years from the Odinson,
Well, 2012 came and went (in the blink of an eye it seems) and it looks like the ancient Mayans got it wrong. Yay! I guess the Red Hulk saved us. Now the countdown on some other doomsday clock can begin to tick. But before that happens, let’s talk about the New Year, or rather, New Beginnings!
Starting a brand new year is all about resolutions and new beginnings. As 2012 draws to a close, the Odinson is reminded of the words a wise man once said (or sang rather) – …it’s a long December when there’s reason to believe that maybe this year will be better than the last. Whether it’s that new exercise program you’re going to start or maybe that new relationship you’ve been meaning to strike up, the New Year is all about getting a fresh start.
New beginnings are nothing new in the world of comic books. Company events like DC Comics: The New 52 and Marvel Now represent the concept of the New Beginning taken to the Nth degree. They give the Big Two a chance to move their characters in bold new directions and explore new and exciting avenues of adventure (i.e., the Superman/Wonder Woman romance and unification of the Avengers and X-Men). Over the years there have been many new beginnings of note like the return of Hal Jordan in Green Lantern: Rebirth or the introduction of a brand new Spawn. New Beginnings can be controversial like with Spider-Man’s Brand New Day and the Superior Spider-Man storylines. New Beginnings can even be done on a grand scale like with the creation of Marvel’s highly underappreciated New Universe and the re-launch of the Valiant Universe.
The Odinson’s own personal least favorite New Beginning has to be, hands down, the shocking revelations of The Clone Saga. When I hear the jeers and anguished cries of modern day fanboys over the shocking events of Dying Wish, I get it. I understand exactly what it is they are going through because I went through the same exact thing after reading Spectacular Spider-Man #226. It is revealed that Ben Reilly was in fact the real Spider-Man and Peter Parker, the Spider-Man whose adventures I had been reading my whole life up to that moment, was in fact just a clone.
My fanboy head exploded, and so enraged was the Odinson that I literally threw my hands in the air and turned my back on comics for a good year and a half. I felt betrayed. I couldn’t believe what Marvel was doing. I felt like I had wasted my time for the first two decades of my life investing myself in the stories of a hero that I would only come to find wasn’t even the real person. Already unimpressed with the directions the industry was heading in the nineties, the Clone revelation was the nail in the coffin and the Odinson actually walked away from the medium.
A bit of an overreaction, yes? I tell this story because I now see the very same reactions out of some fanboys over the startling events of the current Spidey tale Dying Wish. However, I’ve heard even more extreme reactions than my own. When the writer of Spider-Man is receiving death threats over the events of a tale he is writing, that is taking it way too far (see ICV2 article Spider-Man Scribe Gets Death Threats). All the little web trolls need to chill out and grow up. There is a way to show your displeasure without resorting to threats. In my case, I stopped giving the comic companies my money. I understand the ire, believe me, I get it. I felt jilted over the events of The Clone Saga, but if for one second someone threatens another man’s life over a piece of fiction and that someone means it, then, my friend, you have way more serious issues than the plights of fictional characters.
Where was I, oh yeah, it was 1995, and Ben Reilly was now Spider-Man. I was hurt and in my overzealousness, actually tuned my back on comics for nearly two years. It took the triumphant Heroes Return storyline and the amazing creative team of Kurt Busiek and George Perez on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to draw me back to the fold. The point I’m trying to make is sure the shocking events of Dying Wish are upsetting and controversial. It’s OK is be shocked, even a little mad, it just shows that you care. But these stories wouldn’t be worth reading if the writers and editors couldn’t shock and/or surprise the readers from time to time.
Just remember, no matter how controversial, no matter how shocking, no matter how big the event is, whether it’s the Death of Superman, the breaking of Batman’s back in Knightfall, or the Death of Captain America, sooner or later, the cream will rise to the top and your favorite comic book ship will be righted. Even these last three shocking events led to news worthy New Beginnings with the Reign of the Supermen, the emergence of Azrael as an Agent of the Bat, and Bucky becoming the New Captain America.
New Beginnings beget New Beginnings. Just think of all the new and different plotlines the creators were able to explore with Conner Kent, John Henry Irons, Jean-Paul Valley and Bucky Barnes. And just remember the triumphant feeling you felt when our heroes returned in The Return of Superman, Knightsend, and Captain America: Reborn. Barry Allen gave his life saving the world during the Crisis on Infinites Earths saga. It took almost twenty-five years before he made his triumphant return to the DCU in the pages of Flash: Rebirth. And in that time, Wally West did a magnificent job as the Flash.
So whether it’s Hal Jordan’s fall from grace in Emerald Twilight, Aquaman losing his hand, or Steve Rogers resigning as Captain America and becoming The Captain, these plot twists allow comic creators to tell new and original stories plus introduce new and exciting characters like Kyle Rayner and John Walker. Dying Wish, as controversial as it is, is an original take, and actually sets up the character of Spider-Man for a very interesting and thrilling 2013.
They are all just New Beginnings and remember there’s always another New Beginning right around the corner.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
Entries Tagged as Holiday/Celebration
December 31, 2012 · 1 Comment
Happy New Years from the Odinson,
November 30, 2012 · No Comments
Seasons Greetings from the Odinson,
Christmas is almost here and it’s time for Odinson’s annual Christmas List of Ideas for that special someone on your shopping list. ‘Tis the season to be jolly and I have picks for everyone. Use this link to see the shipping schedule in order to get your package there by Christmas Day (Holidays Shipping Schedule).
If Thou art reading this column then chances are ye have someone in thy life, a friend or family member, who is a collector. And for some, collecting is not just relegated to comics and graphic novels. Nay, the realm of collecting stretches far and wide and includes many, many different and unique items. Fear not! The Odinson has assembled the finest list of enchanting collectibles to meet thy Holiday shopping needs.
Collector Tumblers and Cups – The Tumbler brings back that magical time from your youth when you’d enjoy a nice meal alongside your favorite super heroes, cartoon characters, and All-Stars of pop culture. They look fantastic displayed on a shelf and they’re as varied as the taste of the collectors themselves. For your DC lover there are Batman and Superman Tumblers and a JLA Pitcher! For your Marvel fan there are Spider-Man and Hulk Tumblers and even Tumblers of more obscure characters like Shang Chi, the Master of Kung Fu and Adam Warlock. For that child of the 80s there are the Goonies and Masters of the Universe Tumbler Sets and for that child of the 90s a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles set. For the horror fan there are the Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th Tumblers. There’s also a plethora of classic cartoon characters like Droopy Dog, Woody Woodpecker, and Dudley Do-Right as well as Donald Duck, Garfield, and the cast of Looney Tunes. There are Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Trek, Star Wars and the Odinson’s personal favorite Tumbler – Space Ghost! Check out our extensive list of Collectible Glassware and I’m sure you’ll find the right glass for that special someone.
DC Comics Super Hero Collection (Figurine and Magazine) – With this amazing item you get two gifts in one, a fantastic figurine of your favorite DC hero or villain and a collectible magazine full of all sorts of wonderful information like origins, lists of greatest adventures, allies, and foes. Each figurine is handcrafted and painted and looks amazing when displayed on the shelf.
Classic Marvel Character Statues – Not to be outdone, Marvel (along with their friends at Dark Horse) present a series of mini statues of their Marvel Characters as they first appeared when the Marvel Age exploded onto the scene back in 1961. These are your favorite super heroes as they were originally conceived. There are Amazing Spider-Man and Doctor Strange based on the art of Steve Ditko, Marvel’s First Family, the Fantastic Four, and the Mighty Thor based on the art of Jack Kirby. These collectible statues are perfect for that Marvel fan that has been around for years or even the new fan that appreciates the history of the House of Ideas.
The Knight Rider Electronic KITT Replica – This is, without a doubt, one of the coolest collectibles to cross my desk. Any fanboy that grew up in the 80s remembers the distinct voice of KITT, the awesome super car from the classic action/adventure TV series Knight Rider. This is a 1/15 scale replica of the very crime-fighting car that Michael Knight drove in the series. And even more amazing, it actually speaks! Featuring working lights and sound effects, with a push of the button let the nostalgia begin as this replica speaks to you in the very same and distinct voice from the show. I cannot do this item justice with words alone but this collectible definitely gets the Odinson’s stamp of approval. It’s really cool.
The Mighty Thor Bottle Opener – It goes without saying, but this is a must have for any fan of the Protector of Earth Realm and Scion of fabled Asgard. This replica of mighty Mjolnir may not grant you the power of Thor but it will surely give you the strength to pop the top of your favorite beverage. Plus, it just looks really cool.
Power Battery and Ring Prop – Speaking of Cool. The Blackest Night tale introduced the many different colors of the DCU’s Lanterns, and now you can possess them all with these amazing Power Battery and Ring props. Even more amazing is that a special key activates the power of the Corps. Just turn out the lights and marvel as your Batteries and Rings light up the darkness with the power of their righteous glow.
Collectible Magnets – When I was a kid, magnets were used to display my mighty B+ in math on the refrigerator so all the world could see. Now, magnets have become just as collectible as anything else. Whether it’s a DC icon like Superman or Wonder Woman or a mighty Marvel hero like Captain America or Thor or even pop culture icons like Knight Rider or Game of Thrones, with our diverse selection of collectible magnets, you can be sure to find the right magnet for that special person in your life.
Doctor Who Monster Invasion Card Game – This specially packaged item features a magazine filled to capacity with fun Doctor Who facts and information and comes with a pack of nine official Doctor Who trading game cards. But the gem of this particular item is that it also comes with a 9-in. tall replica of the Doctor’s most prized possession – the TARDIS! Not only does the TARDIS look super cool on your mantle but pop it open and you’ll find six compartments for storing and protecting your Doctor Who trading cards!
Collector Buttons – Now here’s a gift idea where you can really let your imagination take over. Peruse our extensive selection of collectible buttons and pick which flair best defines your favorite fanboy or girl. Don’t just settle for the classic Batman Logo, find the color scheme you want. Pick you favorite DC Hero or Marvel Hero and let the world know by proudly wearing his or her button. The Caped Crusader has an amazing assortment of buttons from which to choose. You can also choose which Lantern Corps represents you. Choose your favorite Mortal Kombat kombatant and win the tournament. Perhaps you want to share your favorite quote from the Princess Bride or go old school with the classic 80s lineup of the X-Men. This is your chance to find the fanboy flair that best represents you.
Superman Forever and Batman: The Dark Crusader Mini Statues – Now these are truly incredible. Based on the artwork of Alex Ross, these gorgeous statues present the World’s Finest at their finest. There is nothing more iconic in all of comics than Clark Kent saying those magical words “This is a job for Superman!” and ripping open his shirt to reveal the most powerful symbol for justice. And almost equally as iconic is the Dark Knight Detective, standing high atop a skyscraper, this dark avenger overlooking Gotham City as his ebony cape billows majestically in the wind. Both statues stand about 6 ½-in. tall and would make fine editions to any collector’s shelf or display case.
There you have it folks, an astounding list of gift ideas for the upcoming Holiday Season. Be sure to get your orders in on time (see Holidays Shipping Schedule) and have a wonderful and safe Christmas Vacation.
Merry Christmas, from the Odinson.
October 26, 2012 · No Comments
Happy Halloween from the Odinson,
It’s been fun counting down the days to Halloween 2012. We witnessed a Supernatural Fight Night and determined who the toughest monsters were staking the earth. We celebrated Monsters in Comics and the roles they play. We raised a toast to the rock star of monsters, the Vampire, and we took a look at The Odinson’s Favorite Vampire Stories in Comics. Now, the Odinson concludes his countdown to Halloween 2012 with a salute to the ultimate monster – the Boogeyman.
The Boogeyman is perhaps the scariest thing of all. It’s the unknown, that faceless entity hiding in your closet or under the bed. Parents will tell their children not to go out at night or play in the woods or “the Boogeyman will get you.” The Boogeyman was always this faceless horror that haunted a child’s imagination. But as we grow up, the Boogeyman starts to take shape and thanks to literature and movies, the Boogeyman now has a face.
The Silver Screen Boogeyman comes in many different shapes and sizes, but size alone does not determine the scariness of a Boogeyman. Just ask the Barclay family if size matters as they were terrorized by the diminutive Chucky, a child’s doll with the soul of a murderer locked inside of it. The creepy little ghoul from Trick ‘r Treat, Sam, doesn’t seem to let his small size hamper his ability to terrify. The Boogeyman could be a vengeful spirit. If you are ever at home alone at night with all the lights off in the house, whatever you do, do not stare into the mirror and say his name three times, or the Candyman will come. Sometimes a horrible incident occurs in a rural town and the legend of a Boogeyman can grew from that, as was the case for Harry Warden, a maniac miner that seeks revenge on the town every Valentine’s Day. The Boogeyman does not necessarily have to be a man. Just ask the victims who made the mistake of spending their last summer at Sleepaway Camp. Or in the case of the Leprechaun, as anyone who is foolish enough to try and steal his gold will soon learn.
But as the New Millennium approached, a New Age Boogeyman arrived on the scene, a particularly sinister kind of villain that took just as much joy in the mental aspects of the scare as he did in the kill itself. Ghostface uses his expertise in horror movie trivia to get the blood boiling in his would-be-victims and to deliver his message he uses that all important device that no teenager can live without, the phone. Jigsaw is another kind of New Age Boogeyman whose elaborate tortures and mental mind games leave his victims and the audience puzzled, mesmerized and utterly terrified. Another aspect of the New Millennium Boogeyman is that he’s determined to learn from the mistakes of those that came before him and will use the audience’s thirst for knowledge against them as one doomed documentary crew learned when they met Leslie Vernon. But the new generation stand out star of the New Millennium Boogeymen has to be Victor Crowley, the unstoppable, merciless killing machine that haunts the bayous of New Orleans.
But these Boogeymen, though scary, are just small time. They are the minor leagues. Their body counts, though impressive, pale in comparison when compared to the true Kings of Horror. Though Victor Crowley has the potential to one day be on this list, he has a long way to go before his Boogeyman status can match these next few names.
The Kings of Horror – the Ultimate Boogeymen
Leatherface – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the horror movie that bridges the gap between Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Psycho and the slasher films of the modern era. Leatherface, part of a family of cannibals that terrorizes motorists that happen to cross their path, is a large mentally challenged man that wears the skins of his victims. He’s a butcher that attacks people with knives and sledgehammers. However, his most terrifying weapon of choice is the chainsaw. If you hear the high-pitched scream of a chainsaw somewhere in the distance, run for your life. It just may be Leatherface on the prowl for another victim. There’s a reason why the sound of the chainsaw is the scariest thing in all the haunted house attractions across our great nation. You can thank Leatherface for that.
Michael Myers – Myers is the mass murderer that stalks the streets of Haddonfield, Illinois. It was his nefarious exploits that kicked off the modern era phenomenon of slasher movies. As a boy, on Halloween, Michael murdered his sister and was sent to a mental hospital. There his psychiatrist, Dr. Loomis, discovered that nothing resided in this boy save pure evil. Years later he escaped and on Halloween night returned to Haddonfield and went on a killing spree. He terrorized a group of babysitters and their friends and was only stopped when Loomis emptied a revolver into him, sending Michael plummeting from a second story balcony. But even that didn’t stop him. Like Jason and Freddy, Michael Myers has proven to be pretty much unkillable. With his expressionless Halloween mask, his signature disembodied breathing, and the most haunting theme music of any Boogeyman, Michael Myers is definitely one person you don’t want to meet in a dark alley.
Freddy Kruger – Fred Kruger was a child murderer that was hunted down by the parents of Elm Street and burned to death. However, Freddy returned, seeking revenge on the children of Springwood. He strikes at them through their dreams, terrorizing, torturing, and killing them in all manner of inventive ways. Freddy’s visage is horrifying to look at. His skin was scarred by fire. He is the Boogeyman that haunts your nightmares. He murders the children of Springwood, harvesting their souls and adding them to his power. In the Dreamworld he is completely unstoppable. The only way he can be defeated is by bringing him forth into the real world. But for the children of Springwood, Kruger’s death is only a short reprieve from the madman’s devilish torment. He always comes back armed with his signature glove with knives extending from the fingers. When he scratches this diabolical weapon against a hard surface it makes a sound that is infinitely worse than nails on a chalk board. 1…2…Freddy’s coming for you…
Pinhead – Pinhead is a Cenobite and the keeper of Lemarchand’s Box, a device that visits all manner of pleasure/ torture on those that dare to solve its puzzle. He is a demon from hell that leads a pack of monsters and other Cenobites in their pursuit of lost souls. If he is anything, Pinhead is an opportunistic villain. He will make a deal, but if he is crossed there is no limit to the number of horrors that he can visit upon those that have wronged him. Pinhead is a powerful denizen of the underworld. Guys like Freddy Kruger get their paychecks from guys like Pinhead. Pinhead can summon chains with horrible hooks attached to them that zip out of the darkness as if from nowhere. These chains impale and crucify his victims leaving them oscillating and defenseless, ready for the gifts he has to bestow.
Jason Voorhees – No list of Boogeymen would be complete without the hockey mask-wearing, machete-swinging, nigh unstoppable mass murderer known as Jason. As a child, Jason was a special needs kid that, when neglected by his camp councilors, drowned in the waters of Crystal Lake, leaving him even more demented than before. This set his mother on a two-decade murderous mission of revenge until meeting her own end at the hands of one of the young women she was trying to kill. After witnessing his mother’s demise Jason began to stalk the woods around Crystal Lake. With a body count that beats both Michael Myers and Freddy Kruger, Jason has gone on to become the most legendary Boogeyman of them all. At first he was simply a hulking demented madman seeking revenge on the youth of America. But after his resurrection in the sixth film, Jason has become a monstrous undead killing machine that slaughters anything, and anyone, that crosses his path. Even when he is fighting other monsters, like Freddy and Leatherface, those that are being protected by his actions will be annihilated if they get too close to the carnage. His preferred murder weapon of choice is the machete, but Jason will use whatever he can get his hands on to get the job done.
Enjoy the festivities on this All Hallows’ Eve, my little ghosts and ghouls, but tonight if you hear a strange noise under your bed, something scratching at your window, or some rustling in the woodlands near your home, don’t investigate. It just may be the Boogeyman.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
October 19, 2012 · No Comments
Greetings from the Odinson,
The Odinson continues his countdown to Halloween with a list of his all time favorite vampire stories in comics. Last week I discussed the vampire and his role in the world of comic books. This week I want to share with you my all time favorite tales featuring the Children of the Night.
Saga of the Swamp Thing #3 – When I hear fans talk about the Swamp Thing, I hear them shower praise and speak in haughty tones about Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson’s original run (see Roots of the Swamp Thing) and Alan Moore’s character defining run (see Saga of the Swamp Thing). And there’s no arguing that these are fantastic pieces of comic book literature. But what I don’t hear enough of is the adoration for the highly underrated run on the series by Martin Pasko and Tom Yeates (see Saga of the Swamp Thing #1-13). There’s no greater example of this slight than the fact that DC Comics has yet to collect this run into trade paperback or Archive format. Pasko and Yeates weave a tale of mystery, intrigue, and good old fashion horror with an outstanding cast of characters into an epic that culminates with the Swamp Thing facing down the Beast of the Apocalypse. And the issue that got me hooked and beautifully illustrates the creators’ mastery over this genre is Saga of the Swamp Thing #3.
The story begins with Swamp Thing and his companion, a young child named Casey, riding cross-country in a freight train when they are suddenly set upon by a pack of vampires. During the struggle, Swamp Thing topples out of the boxcar and he and his charge are separated. Seeking information that might lead to her destination, Swamp Thing enters the nearby town only to find it dark and deserted. As the story unfolds, Swamp Thing, and the reader, learns that the town has been taken over by the undead and only a handful of survivors remain. What follows is a desperate fight for survival and the revelation of the extreme lengths one man will go in order to prevent a vampire plague from spreading. This tale has a very eerie Salem’s Lot feel to it. In twenty-two short pages, Pasko and Yeates squeeze in all the action, pathos and tantalizing horror that one could expect to get from a full-length feature film.
Action Comics Annual #1 – When this issue hit the stands in 1987, the Odinson was overjoyed because it featured a super star creative team pitting the World’s Finest against the dark power of the vampire. This modern horror story was written and drawn by Modern Masters John Byrne and Art Adams, two of the Odinson’s all time favorite comic creators. The tale opens with a beautiful young girl running for her life through the swamp as she is pursued by a mob of men seeking her death. Batman, who is in town to investigate a murder mystery, contacts Clark Kent for some information. In a scene reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Psycho, the Caped Crusader comes across this seemingly innocent and extremely attractive young woman (Does Adams draw anything but?). Batman, along with the readers, quickly realizes that there is something far more to this girl than meets the eye.
Meanwhile, in Metropolis, Kent gets a bad feeling and decides to check in on his friend. After a quick change, Superman streaks across the country and also comes face-to-face with this girl. The problem is that this seemingly innocent woman is in fact a blood-sucking vampire and thanks to her hypnotic vampire-stare, the Man of Steel may just become her next victim.
SIDE NOTE: I’ll admit it. I’m a huge fan of continuity. I like to know that what I’m reading is going somewhere and when I get there, the road taken to get there has meant something. The thing that makes horror, fantasy, and science fiction stories work is that, even in a world with a man who is faster than a speeding bullet, there are rules. As long as the mythos stays true to these rules the readers and audience can usually buy the rest.
DC Comics has been very sloppy when it comes to their rules for vampires and the Man of Steel. In Action Comics Annual #1, we the readers are told that Superman’s vulnerability to magic and the supernatural will leave him susceptible to the bite of a vampire. However, in the pages of Superman #180, the solar radiation contained within Kal-El destroys Dracula, the strongest vampire of all, when the fiend bites him on the neck. Meanwhile, in the tale The 10th Circle, more specifically JLA #95, the Last Son of Krypton is brought under the thrall of the villain of the story by a vampire’s bite. So which is it? Is Superman vulnerable to the vampire bite or not?
Angel: Not Fade Away – Yes, yes, I realize this one is a bit of a cheat, but I can’t help myself. This is the adaptation of the final episode to the television series Angel. Before Joss Whedon directed the Avengers movie he had Angel Investigations and in this swan song, in true Earth’s Mightiest Heroes form, Angel and his allies assemble to take down the foes no single hero could possibly stand against alone.
The beautiful gem that is Angel Season 5 had all led up to this moment. For weeks Angel’s friends had thought that the lure of Wolfram and Hart had finally gotten to him and turned him toward the dark side. But Angel is a crafty fellow, and he reveals that he has been playing the game so that he could find out the identities of the Circle of the Black Thorn, the secret cabal of evil doers that pull the strings on the mortal plane for the Senior Partners. Angel has come to realize that he can never truly wipe evil from the face of the earth but by destroying the Circle of the Black Thorn, he can deliver a huge blow to the bad guys and score a huge victory for the good guys.
It’s a suicide mission, for each member of the Black Thorn is an extremely powerful demon, wizard or monster. It’s like if all the Boss Fights of your favorite video games were gathered together in the same place. Angel can’t order his friends to take on this harrowing challenge. But in true heroic fashion, they’re all in. What follows is one of the coolest super hero smackdowns ever caught on film. Gunn takes on Senator Helen Brucker and her nest of vampires, Wesley confronts the warlock Cyvus Vail, Lindsey and Lorne take on the Sahvrin Clan, Spike saves a baby sacrifice from the Fell Bretheren, and Illyria takes care of the other members. Meanwhile, Angel, already having disposed of Archduke Sebassis, confronts the hulking Marcus Hamilton, and with Connor’s help, proves victorious.
It’s a classic struggle of good vs. evil and the victories are not without casualties. For the final scene, the surviving members of Angel Investigations regroup in the alley where the series began and as the armies of hell rain down on them the TV series ends on one of the coolest notes in the history of television. Beaten, bloodied, wounded, exhausted, hopelessly outnumbered and overpowered, the surviving heroes regroup one last time and their fearless leader, Angel, says, ”Let’s go to work.”
That’s how heroes go out.
Batman vs. Vampires – Long before Batman’s vampiric adventures in the Elseworld tales Red Rain, Bloodstorm, and Crimson Mist, there was Batman #349-351. As the Dark Knight Detective investigates a murder he is suddenly set upon by a vampire monk and quickly learns that his vaunted crime-fighting skills are all but useless against the power of a true creature of darkness. Batman is bitten and the story becomes a race against the clock for him to find a cure before he succumbs to the growing thirst within him.
More than any other non-supernatural hero in comics, Batman lends himself to this style of storytelling. He is a man who dresses up as a bat and prowls the night terrifying the criminal element of Gotham City. There’s just something really cool about seeing the Caped Crusader matching wit and brawn against vampires, werewolves, monsters, ghosts and other things that go bump in the night.
Dracula vs. the Marvel Universe - If there is one thing that I’ve learned over the many years I’ve been reading comics it’s that super heroes make the worst vampire hunters. Sure Blade, Buffy, and Van Helsing make vampire-slaying look easy, but for some reason, the guys that can bench press automobiles just don’t have what it takes to take down the undead. In the Marvel Universe, Count Dracula is a true monster and a diabolical super villain on par and every bit as dangerous as Magneto, the Green Goblin and Doctor Doom. I dare say Dracula has racked up more victories against the super hero community than any other super villain in the business.
Dracula has fought Doctor Strange on several occasions and even tasted the blood of the Sorcerer Supreme! Spider-Man barely survived his encounter with the Dark Prince. The combined might of the Uncanny X-Men proved insignificant when confronted with the macabre powers of Dracula. Even the Power Cosmic of the Silver Surfer was challenged in ways it had never been before when Norrin Radd came face-to-face with the Prince of Darkness. In the pages of The Contest, the mystic Doctor Druid attempted to pit his psychic abilities against the indomitable will of Dracula, Druid loss. And Blade, arguably the greatest vampire hunter in the world, has had his teeth handed to him by Dracula more time than I can remember.
Dracula’s dominance in the Marvel Universe isn’t just over the heroes. No, the Prince of Darkness has proven on more than one occasion that he is a force to be reckoned with in the super villain and monster community as well. He has crossed swords with the mutant tyrant Apocalypse. He has gone claw-to-claw with the Werewolf by Night. He has matched wits with the diabolical mechanical menace known as Dr. Sun. And he has traded blows with Frankenstein’s Monster.
In fact, of all the legendary names in Marvel’s great pantheon of characters there has only been one hero who has ever truly humbled the Lord of Vampires - the Mighty Thor. Once upon a time, the Dark Prince sought the greatest prize of all, the blood of a goddess. When fair Sif found herself uncontrollably drawn to the arms of Dracula, her betrothed, Thor, the mighty Prince of Asgard, rushed to her rescue. Dracula opened up the playbook and threw everything within his macabre power at the Mightiest Avenger but to no avail. Then it was Thor’s turn and he showed the Lord of Vampires the difference in battling mortal super heroes and a god of thunder.
Another really sweet story that spawned out of Dracula’s battles with super heroes is What if Wolverine were Lord of the Vampires? In Uncanny X-Men #159 and Annual #6, the Children of the Atom barely survived their encounter with the Dark Prince. But what if they hadn’t? In this “What If” tale, Dracula kills the X-Men and turns them into vampires. Usually that would put them under his control, but Wolverine not being one to toe the line challenges Dracula for the belt, and wins. As Wolverine and his super vampires spread out across New York City, Manhattan Island becomes the feeding ground for the undead. The island is quarantined and even Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are powerless to stop this supernatural threat. As Wolverine makes plans to expand his power base, only one man is left standing in his way - Frank Castle. It seems the Punisher’s war on crime has shifted and he’s become even more efficient at taking out the undead than he was at taking down mobsters. Long before Marvel Zombies and the cannibals of Marvel Universe vs.… there was this supernatural thriller that pits two of the deadliest men alive against each other in a macabre showdown with the future of mankind hanging in the balance.
Those are some of my all time favorite comic stories featuring the king of all monsters, the vampire. Join the Odinson next week when I conclude my countdown to Halloween 2012 with a salute to the ultimate monster – the Boogeyman.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
October 12, 2012 · 1 Comment
Greetings from the Odinson,
The Odinson continues his countdown to Halloween with a look at the rock star of monsters – the Vampire. There have been more stories, novels, TV shows, and movies featuring the vampire than any other monster that ever crawled or stalked on the earth. Women especially it seems are drawn to this particular creature of the night more so than any other. The vampire is sexy, alluring, and attractive, and the vampire is dark and mysterious. The vampire is the bad boy of the monster club. And what young girl can resist the bad boy? But this was not always the case.
Up until 1976, the vampire was a loathsome creature of darkness to be feared and shunned. Though the legend of the vampire has been around for centuries, its modern day hold on pop culture can be traced back to Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Dracula is the father of all modern day vampires. The majority of the accepted vampire mythology comes directly from this gothic horror story of a monster’s attempt to establish a base of power in the western world and the fragile mortal lives that get caught up in his wake.
Stoker does not portray his dark protagonist in a good light. Count Dracula is not a misunderstood romantic only seeking love and a place in the world, as he is portrayed so often in modern cinema. Truth be told, Stoker’s Dracula, whom he loosely based on the medieval warlord Vlad the Impaler, was actually the template to what would become the modern day super villain. His diabolical plot was to leave behind the desolate old country and establish a stronghold in the modern west. There he would birth an army of the undead that would spread out across the globe bringing the populace of the world under his dark influence, thus making this dark conqueror ruler of the world.
Yes, up until very recently, the vampire was a true creature of darkness, a villain, a monster to be feared. Even in the classic Universal Monster movies of the ‘30s and ‘40s on up through the cult classic Hammer Horror films of the ‘50s and ‘60s, the vampire was the ultimate monster. Then it all changed because of one woman – Anne Rice. In 1976 Anne Rice released her book Interview with a Vampire to the world. It’s a completely different take on the genre as the tale is told not from the human’s point of view, but from the point of view of the vampire himself.
Suddenly the vampire became magical and romantic, with unearthly beauty. Many of the myths and legends surrounding the vampire were tweaked in Rice’s world but the genre of the vampire would never be the same. Wherein Stoker’s Dracula there was no question about who was good (Van Helsing) and who was evil (Dracula), Anne Rice’s tale challenges the notion of good and evil and establishes that in this supernatural world evil is a point of view. Who is to judge good and bad? Is the farmer that slaughters the pig to feed his family good? Is the shark that swallows the surfer that drifts too far from shore evil? For good or bad, Interview with a Vampire changed the course of vampire history forever.
Now the audience actually began to sympathize with the very monster that wants to drain them dry. Movies like Fright Night turned the vampire into a sympathetic hopeless romantic who, though still a monster, just wants to be with the one he loves. Ah, how sweet. Even Dracula’s own tale was reworked to include more overtones of romance. No longer was the Dark Prince coming to the west to conquer but to seek out that which has been denied him for so long - true love. This change in the monster’s mythology has grown over the years to the point where vampire romances are some of the most popular. All you need for proof is just look at the success and followings for Buffy/Angel and Twilight. But Anne Rice wasn’t done yet.
In 1985, she would yet again tweak the genre and bring a whole new aspect to the mythology – the Vampire Hero. Enter: The Vampire Lestat. Though this dark rogue was in Interview with a Vampire, that tale was told by the vampire Louis, a melancholy, self-loathing creature of the night that still clings to his humanity. From Louis’ point of view, Lestat comes off as quite the villain. But we soon learn as The Vampire Chronicles unfold, Lestat is anything but a villain. Lestat is a creature of unbridled passion and unrivaled bravery. No challenge set before him is too great to overcome. Even when faced with the nigh immeasurable dark power of Akasha, the Queen of the Damned, the diabolical plans of the Body Thief, or the ultimate evil himself Memnoch the Devil.
Vampires are still creatures of darkness, never forget that. But Lestat showed that they could also be champions, they can be heroes in spite of their dark nature. The vampire Hannibal King is a private investigator who is a huge help in combating the evil of Dracula in the Marvel Universe. Angel is the vampire cursed with a soul who now uses his dark gifts to protect mankind and spends his nights atoning for all the horrible acts he committed when he was Angelus. Spike was evil Angelus’ partner in crime. For decades they cut a swath of terror and destruction across the Old World. That was until the day he met a certain girl. Spike’s love for Buffy made him want to be a better man so he fought and went through hell to get his soul back. Now, like Angel, Spike is a force for good. Cassidy is a two-fisted, hard-drinking Irish vampire who helps Jesse Custer, the Preacher, on his quest to find God.
In the DCU’s multiverse of 52, Earth-43 is the home to the Vampire-Batman. This creature of darkness was born out of Batman’s battle with Dracula in Red Rain. In Bloodstorm, the Dark Knight Vampire teams up with Catwoman, who has become a werecat, to stop the Joker’s mad scheme of taking over Gotham City’s crime syndicate with the help of a gang of bloodsuckers. And in Crimson Mist, the Batman rises from the grave once more to rid Gotham City of its criminal element permanently.
But not all vampires made the switch to dark brooding romantic hero. No, some creatures of the night still live up to the name. Throughout the ‘70s, Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan chronicled the dark adventures of the Lord of Vampires in the pages of Tomb of Dracula. Tomb was quite unique in that its main character was not a cape and cowl-wearing, stalwart defender of justice but rather a scheming supernatural creature of darkness. Dracula was the main character of the series and he was a true monster. His mortal adversaries, the “Good Guys,” were the supporting cast. Wolfman and Colan stuck close to the roots of the Stoker’s creation and presented Dracula as the ultimate super villain.
Horror master Stephen King told the dark tale of Salem’s Lot, a small town in Maine plagued by the arrival of the undead. Modern movie masters Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction) and Robert Rodriguez (Sin City) teamed up to tell the tale From Dusk till Dawn. In this horror movie, two cold-blooded killers and the innocent family they’ve kidnapped must survive a night trapped inside a desolate bar under siege by shrieking, blood-starved vampires. The vampires in this tale are truly monstrous. But nothing compares to the nightmare that descends on Barrow, Alaska, a small isolated town so far up north that it suffers 30 Days of Night and the hungry vampires that come with it.
So who protects mankind from these monsters? Why the slayer of course. That brave soul that turns the tables on the monsters. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a super woman who with her Scooby Gang stands guard over the Hellmouth in Sunnydale. Blade is the Daywalker, a slayer with all the vampire’s strengths, but none of its weaknesses. In 12,000 A.D., Vampire Hunter D is a dhampir (half human/half vampire) who hunts the undead and protects mankind from the things that go bump in the night. Rayne, also a dhampir, works for the Brimstone Society, a clandestine organization hell-bent on ridding the world of the vampire plague once and for all. Then there is the legendary Abraham Van Helsing, the man that matched wits with Dracula, and won. Van Helsing would be the greatest slayer if it weren’t for the next name on this list – Robert Neville. Neville lives in a world where he is The Last Man on Earth. Every single person on the planet has been turned into a blood-seeking vampire. By night Neville barricades himself inside his fortress-like home and listens to the unholy cries of the undead as they try to claw their way inside to get to his warm blood. By day, he seeks out their lairs and hiding spots and slays them mercilessly. Neville has become the monster that monsters fear. As he puts it, “I am Legend.”
The Odinson tends to lean more toward the vampire as a monster over the vampire as a broody dark hero, but I can get enjoyment from either version. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a wonderful horror story, told in a very unique way (through letters and journal entries). And Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire is a revolutionary piece of literature that helped creators and audiences look at the genre from a whole new point of view. So raise your jeweled goblet full of your favorite Halloween beverage and join the Odinson in a toast to Bram Stoker and Anne Rice – the Godfather and Godmother of the Vampires.
Join me next week when the Odinson continues his countdown to Halloween with a list of his all time favorite vampire stories in comics.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
October 05, 2012 · No Comments
Greetings from the Odinson,
The Odinson continues his count down to Halloween with a look at Monsters in Comics, those creepy, crawly grotesque creatures lurking in the shadows of our nightmares, hiding under the bed, waiting for the right moment to strike, usually when the lights cut off. Monsters are those shambling masses, stalking the earth, clawing, searching for something - victims. From the diminutive goblins known as Gremlins to the giant leviathan Godzilla, monsters come in all shapes and sizes. It should come as no surprise that creatures of the night and beasts of myth and legend play huge roles in the worlds of comic books.
Long before the Marvel Age dawned in the 1960s and the Super Powers of DC and Marvel became engaged in a super heroes arms race, monsters ruled the spinner-racks. The 1950s were dominated by the horror genre with titles from EC Comics like Tales from the Crypt, The Haunt of Fear, Vault of Horror, and Weird Science. Within these terrifying pages, every creepy ghoul, every nightmare clawing from the grave, and every fiendish alien from beyond the stars that could be imagined roamed free to haunt the reader’s dreams. Even Marvel’s titles like Tales to Astonish, Strange Tales, and Journey into Mystery, in the years before their super heroes took center stage, were dominated by the most unique menagerie of beasts ever assembled. Readers could thrill, cringe, and despair at the destructive power and awesome might of such legendary titans as Goom, Gorgilla, Googam and Fin Fang Foom!
Even Marvel Comics' very first super hero series of the Marvel Age featured a monster, and I’m not talking about the Mole Man’s giant pet. I’m referring to the rock-skinned creature the world will one day come to know as the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing. Ben Grimm has come a long way from the days when women and children ran away in terror just at the sight him. The Thing is actually one of the greatest champions for justice in the Marvel Universe. Even the Hulk, considered by some to be the greatest monster of them all, has saved the planet on several occasions.
There are a handful of monsters that actually protect mankind from the other creatures of darkness or avenge the blood of the innocent. Hellboy, alongside his fellow misfits of the B.P.R.D., investigate the supernatural and ward off Armageddon every chance they get. Blade the Daywalker prowls the night destroying any blood-sucker that crosses his path and protects mankind from the children of the night, as does the Spirit of Vengeance the world has come to call the Ghost Rider. The Swamp Thing roams from bayou to bayou battling mutants, monsters, vampires, and demons that would otherwise overrun the world of man. The Man-Thing, a shambling mass of muck and flora whose very touch burns those who know fear, is the protector of the Nexus of All Realties. And the ghostly Spectre is perhaps the most powerful force for justice (or vengeance) in the DC or any universe. But most creatures of the night are not quite as benevolent as these monsters.
From the Marvel Zombies to the Walking Dead, no monster strikes more terror into the hearts of men than the flesh-eating, plague-spreading creatures known as Zombies. Whether they are the slow-moving Romero zombies with the beastly strength to tear a man limb-from-limb from Night of the Living Dead or the even scarier fast-moving, shrieking Snyder zombies from the updated Dawn of the Dead, zombies are just terrifying. The Army of Darkness, or Deadites as they are also called, are perhaps the scariest incarnation of all, as they are a cross between the undead and hellspawn.
Speaking of hellspawn, they are the devils, demons, and pitchfork-carrying troublemakers that make life a living hell for those they set their sights on. The sole purpose of the demonic Violator is to push Al Simmons to his physical and mental limits. Simmons himself is Spawn, a supernatural soldier of darkness recruited to lead the armies of hell into battle on the day of the final battle between good and evil. Etrigan the Demon is a fire-breathing creature from the pit that speaks in rhymes whose actions, depending on his mood, could dam or save mankind. Mangog is an ancient beast of immense destructive power whose sole intention, once freed from imprisonment, is to snuff out all life. And then there’s Mephisto. This ruler of the stygian depths is the Marvel Universe’s version of Satan. And, boy, does he own that role. Through trickery, guile, dark schemes and shear raw power, Mephisto has run afoul of some of the mightiest citizens of the Marvel U including the Silver Surfer, Thor, and even Galactus. But no devilish scheme of his was more diabolical than the deal made with Peter Parker and Mary Jane in One More Day.
No list of monsters would be complete without the feral beast empowered by the light of the full moon – the Werewolf. Lycanthrope is a curse that causes a mortal man to transform into a blood-thirty monster. Though there are many kinds of lycanthrope, the most prominent is that of the wolf. Nobody knows this better than Jack Russell, a man who roams the world seeking a cure for his curse, for when the sun sinks below the horizon and darkness falls across the land, Russell will once again shed his human guise and become a Werewolf by Night.
Larry Talbot, the infamous Wolf-Man, always sought a cure to his curse but mostly found himself in conflict with the mad schemes of Count Dracula. Rostov of Skartaris sought a cure to his lycanthrope but if it wasn’t for his affliction, Travis Morgan the Warlord and his companions would have never been able to defeat The Evil One. Even Oz from Sunnydale, when his affliction endangered the woman he loved, set out on a globetrotting quest to discover a cure for his curse.
The way most people become inflicted with the lycanthrope is by surviving an attack by a werewolf. The werewolf bite usually transfers the curse along to the victim. But there are other ways to obtain this curse. John Jameson, son of Daily Bugle Editor-n-Chief J. Jonah Jameson, was an astronaut who after a trip to the moon came back to Earth with a bizarre necklace he found there. But when he put the necklace on, it transformed him into the white-haired beast known as the Man-Wolf. Scott Howard didn’t have to be bitten to become the basketball All-Star known as Teen Wolf, he was born a werewolf.
Before 1818, monsters were mostly local legends and fairy tales passed down from generation to generation. Then Mary Shelley released her story Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus to the world and the monster has been a mainstay in literature and pop culture ever since. In this horrifying tale, Victor Frankenstein, a man driven mad by his desires to play God, assembles a creature from the parts of dead men and resurrects the Monster to life, thus defying the laws of nature. The Monster would stumble through the world seeking meaning to its existence, visiting pain on others and ultimately proving to be the death of its creator. Mary Shelley’s tale set the standard for modern horror that writers and creators are still playing catch up to today.
One of the Odinson’s all time favorite uses of the monster has to be the Creature Commandos and GI Robot. In the pages of DC Comics' genre-bending series Weird War Tales, the United States government, in an effort to win World War II, unleashes a squad of soldiers that have been transformed into incarnations of classic monsters to terrify and defeat the Axis Powers. There is just nothing cooler than seeing my favorite monsters kicking the tar out of the real life monsters, the Nazis.
In case you were wondering why certain blood-sucking, reflection-challenged, afraid of the sun creatures of the night didn’t get much mention this week, it’s because next week, the Odinson continues his count down to Halloween with a look at the rock star of monsters – the Vampire.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
September 28, 2012 · 1 Comment
Greetings from the Odinson,
It’s that time of year when the weather starts to cool down, leaves begin to fall, and the denizens of the land begin to prepare for the time honored tradition of All Hallows' Eve. This is a time of change. But it is also a time when the ghosts and goblins and all those things that go bump in the night claw their way up from some dingy tomb and stalk the land once more. In honor of Halloween, every week this month, the Odinson will be dedicating this space to the macabre and supernatural. What better way to kick-start this endeavor than with a Supernatural Fight Night?!
Whether they be monsters, slayers or something in-between, this list will settle once and for all, who is the toughest supernatural critter roaming the earth.
Hellstorm vs. The Darkness – Daimon Hellstrom is the Son of Satan. His mother was a mortal woman who was driven mad when she learned the true identity of her husband was in fact Lucifer himself. Hellstorm’s demonic heritage grants him superior strength and magical powers. He wields a mystical trident that was forged in hell and is able to engulf his enemies in hellfire, a magical energy that burns a person’s very soul. Hellstorm is able to travel between dimensions, and he gets around on a fiery chariot which is pulled by three giant flaming stallions.
Jackie Estacado was a hitman for the mob, a trained assassin with expert knowledge in the use of guns, knives, and the martial arts. Now as the possessor of the Darkness, Estacado is the master of shadow and the gloomy places sane men dare not go. He is able to summon a legion of diminutive demons from the dark. These little monsters swarm over his enemies and tear them to pieces with their demonic claws and teeth. The Darkness grants Estacado supernatural strength, speed and endurance. He can move from one shadow to any other shadow in the world, and he can also sprout bat-wings and fly.
WINNER: The Darkness - This is a really close call. Physically they are pretty even. Hellstorm possesses the supernatural ability to exorcise demons, but would this ability have any effect on the Darkness? In the end, though Hellstorm may have ruled over a portion of hell, the Darkness is a universal force for chaos whose scope of influence knows no bounds.
Buffy Summers vs. Witchblade – Buffy is the Chosen One, the one girl in all the world with the power and skills to defend mankind against the vampires and the forces of darkness. She possesses supernatural strength, speed, and agility and super human fighting skills. Buffy has a team of sidekicks called the Scooby Gang comprised of Willow, the world’s most powerful witch and computer expert, Xander, the master of mirth and the backbone of the team, and Giles, Buffy’s Watcher whose knowledge in arcane lore is second to none and a seasoned practitioner of the mystic arts.
Sarah Pezzini is a tough New York City Police Detective who possesses the ancient mystical artifact known as the Witchblade. The Witchblade is the sentient offspring of the primal forces of chaos and order in the universe – the Angelus and the Darkness. It has been passed down for centuries from one woman to the next and is a stalwart defender of the balance between light and dark. While wearing the Witchblade, Sarah Pezzini can create nearly impenetrable body armor and magical weapons such as swords, maces and shields. The Witchblade can project mystical energy and deadly shrapnel to take out enemies from a distance.
WINNER: Buffy - The problem with putting the slayer on a list like this is that Buffy has faced off against every single big bad monster, demon, and hell god ever to spawn from the pits of hell, spell book, or get up off a laboratory table. Bottom line, there’s really not anything in the worlds of the supernatural that Buffy can’t handle. (Except for bunnies...)
Blade vs. Alice – Blade is the Daywalker. Like Vampire Hunter D, Blade is a Dhampir, a half human/half vampire. He possesses all the supernatural powers and strengths of the undead, but none of their weaknesses. Armed with an arsenal of deadly weapons designed solely for the extermination of vampires, Blade seeks to rid the world of their kind and wipe them all out without mercy. Blade possesses supernatural strength, speed and the ability to heal virtually any wound. His combat prowess is so proficient that Blade can stand his ground against half a dozen or more vampires at the same time. He can mow down dozens of undead at a time with his rapid-firing machine pistol that fires specially made silver bullets. But his favorite weapon of choice is his custom forged sword with a booby-trapped hilt and an acid-tipped blade.
In a world overrun by the walking dead, Alice is mankind’s last hope for survival. Injected with the T-Virus, Alice’s exposure to the virus had an unusual effect. Instead of mutated her into a flesh-eating monster, it imbued her with super human physical and mental abilities. Now after escaping the Apocalyptic chaos of Raccoon City, Alice and her small band of survivors scour the earth in search of the source for all the evil, the main headquarters of the Umbrella Corporation. Her superior strength and agility allow Alice to take on monstrous foes. She can single-handedly dismember and exterminate dozens of zombies at a time and even go toe-to-toe with the monstrous Tyrant and the hulking Nemesis.
WINNER: Tie - I know it’s a copout, but not only are these two monster-bashers extremely evenly matched, once they realize they’re basically fighting for the same thing, humanity’s survival in the face of the undead Apocalypse, they’ll team-up. And when that happens, there aren’t enough vampires and zombies in the world that can stop this supernatural dynamic duo.
Dracula vs. Hellboy – Count Dracula is the King of Vampires! In life, he was a vicious warlord that impaled his conquered enemies on pikes and dipped his bread in their blood as he ate lunch. In death, Vlad the Impaler became the Prince of Darkness and the most notorious creature of the night ever to stalk the earth. This master vampire possesses the strength of twenty men; he can transform into a wolf or giant bat, and into bone-chilling mist. He can overpower lesser minds with his charismatic vampire stare. And he has centuries of knowledge and know-how at his disposal, making him a most cunning adversary.
Hellboy is the child of the Apocalypse. His Right Hand of Doom holds the key to ushering in the End of Days. However, he’d rather just have a beer, watch the tube and play with his kitties. Hellboy does use his demonic strength to investigate the paranormal. He is nearly indestructible and completely invulnerable to fire. His sidearm is a hand-cannon that can punch a hole through a T-Rex. And his Right Hand of Doom hits with the force of a Mack truck.
WINNER: Hellboy - Though Dracula is smarter than Hellboy and physically they are relatively evenly matched, it’s the vampire’s aversion to fire that will ultimately be his undoing. As these two supernatural juggernauts battle, sooner or later, a fiery blaze will break out in their wake and with it the key to Dracula’s defeat.
Doctor Strange vs. Dr. Fate – Doctor Stephen Strange was an arrogant surgeon whose hands were mangled in a automobile accident. He was taken in and trained in martial arts and the mystic arts by the Ancient One, a centuries old wizard. So adept at sorcery is Strange that he eventually took on the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme. His magical powers are vast. Feats such as telepathy, teleportation, and astral projection are child’s play to him. Doctor Strange can call upon the Vishanti, cosmic entities of mystical authority, to augment his already great magical powers. He also possesses powerful magical artifacts like the all-seeing Eye of Agamotto and his cloak of levitation. So strong is Doctor Strange in the ways of magic that he can do battle with some of the most powerful mystical foes in the universe including Dracula, the In-Betweener, Nightmare, Mephisto and the Dread Dormammu.
Kent Nelson was the orphaned son of an archaeologist that was raised by an ancient wizard named Nabu and trained in the mystic arts. Armed with the mystical Helmet of Nabu, the Amulet of Anubis and the Cloak of Destiny, Nelson became the earthly avatar of the Lords of Light - Dr. Fate. Fate possesses super human strength and the ability to manipulate mystical energy. He can fly, turn invisible, pass through solid matter, create light and darkness, project his thoughts to others, and project magic missiles, lightning bolts and fireballs from his hands. Alongside the Spectre and the Phantom Stranger, Dr. Fate is the premiere mystical force for good in the DCU.
WINNER: Doctor Strange - Don’t get me wrong, I think Fate is infinitely cooler than Strange, but when it comes to the world of magic Doctor Strange is the Master of the Mystic Arts. He IS the Sorcerer Supreme!
Next week the Odinson continues his count down to Halloween with a look at monsters in comics.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
February 10, 2012 · No Comments
Happy Valentines Day from the Odinson,
Romance is in the air. As in the real world, romance plays a huge part in the worlds of sci-fi/fantasy and fiction. From the moment Princess Leia called Han Solo a scruffy-looking nerf herder, the sparks were flying and the hottest couple in a galaxy far, far away was born. So what makes a good romance? Passion, excitement, caring, loyalty, understanding, love…
There has to be a fire, an unquenchable need between two people to be together. Take Bella and Edward for instance. In the Twilight Saga these two are drawn to each other like magnets. Obstacle after obstacle arises but nothing is going to keep them apart. Not revenge-seeking vampires, hunky werewolf boys, not even death can separate these two. Love can be tragic. Take Bruce Banner and Betty Ross for instance. These two were born to love each other but Banner must be careful, for every time his emotions bubble to the surface he transforms into the monster the world has come to know as the Hulk. The Hulk is a creature fueled by rage, thus making him a danger to those around him. So until Banner can find a cure for his “Hulk problem,” he cannot be with the woman he loves. Cue the sad piano music. Cupid also has a funny sense of humor. The Marvel Universe’s embodiment of Death is madly in love with the Merc with a Mouth, but due to his extreme healing powers, Deadpool cannot die, thus preventing these two lovebirds from ever being together. On the flip side of that morbid coin, Thanos the Mad Titan loves Death so much that he is willing to annihilate half the population in existence in order to win her favor (see Infinity Gauntlet).
Love and the promise of romance will make a man do almost anything. Do you think Link would face the dangers of the quest for the Triforce or Mario would take on the minions of Bowser if Princess Zelda and Princess Toadstool weren’t worth it? Love can overcome the power of the Matrix. Or it can topple the walls of Troy. Just ask the mighty King Kong how far one will go for love.
There are many, many great couples in the history of fiction. Tarzan and Jane, Flash Gordon and Dale Arden, Mickey and Minnie Mouse… Here are the Odinson’s favorite romances.
Superman and Lois Lane – He is the Last Son of Krypton and the world’s greatest super hero. She is a award-wining investigative star reporter for the Daily Planet, the most renowned newspaper in the city of Metropolis. Doing whatever it takes to get the scoop on a story, she has a knack for getting into trouble, and he has a knack for saving her life. He’s a farmboy from Smallville U.S.A. and she’s a big city girl with street smarts coming out of her ears. For years and years she was known as Superman’s Girlfriend. That was until the day they tied the knot (see The Wedding and Beyond). Now, in the wake of DC Comics: The New 52, the Man of Steel and Lois Lane are no longer married and the future is wide-open. Will these two find each other again, or is one of the biggest romances of the 20th Century truly over?
Spider-Man and Mary Jane – He was the nerdy introverted science genius that got picked on in high school and she was the outgoing party girl and most popular girl in school. They grew up as neighbors and became close friends. He is a masked super hero that saves the city on a regular basis and she knows his biggest secret. For years they seemed to never be on the same track as far as romance is concerned, then one day it all fell into place. It took the death of a friend and the harrowing events of Spider-Man vs. Wolverine to make Peter Park realize that he needed MJ in his life. So, in Amazing Spider-Man #290, he proposed to her. And in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 they were married. For years she was the rock in his life. Then, during Civil War, when in a moment of what can only be described as dumb, Peter Parker revealed to the world that he was in fact Spider-Man. It did not take long for those close to him to come under fire. Aunt May was gunned down and in order to save her life, Peter and MJ, in an ill-conceived deal with Mephisto, were forced to give up that which is most important to them…their love (see One More Day). Much like Superman and Lois Lane, now Spider-Man and Mary Jane are single and exploring other avenues. But there will come a day when they do find each once again for that’s the power of true love.
Buffy and Angel – This is a match that could only happen on the Hellmouth. She is the vampire slayer. He is a vampire. Angel is cursed with a soul. This makes him feel guilt for all the horrible acts he committed for over a century as a soulless monster. Even worse, if Angel were to feel a moment of true happiness he would lose his soul again and revert to the monstrous fiend he once was. This being a world created by Joss Whedon, Buffy and Angel fall in love and he obtains that moment of true happiness in her arms and reverts back into Angelus, becoming one of Buffy’s most dangerous villains. In order to save the world, Buffy must kill the man she loves and send him to hell. Shakespeare’s got nothing on a good Whedon tragedy. Angel has since returned from hell, soul intact, but he is forced to leave Sunnydale and the woman he loves behind for fear of him losing his soul again.
There are two moments in these star-crossed lovers’ history that really encapsulate their tragic romance for me. At the end of Episode 7: Angel of Season 1 of BtVS Angel and Buffy kiss and he has just the slightest look of pain on his face. She asks him if it hurts. He tells her a little. The camera pans back slightly to reveal that the cross she wears around her neck has burned an imprint into his chest. This is a beautiful, albeit sad, metaphor for why these two people should not be together. The second moment is in Season 1 of Angel Episode 8: I will Remember You. Angel becomes human and for the first time ever he and Buffy can be together as a man and woman without the fear of any curse. But her destiny as the slayer and his as a Champion of mankind is more important to the world than their love. So Angel makes a sacrifice to the Powers that Be and time is rewound 24 hours to before his change. The heart-breaking thing is that only Angel remembers that one perfect day they spent together. These poor kids can’t seem to catch a break.
Cyclops and Jean Grey – He started out as a skinny shy kid that grew to become the confident and capable leader of an entire race. She was a star student that one day became arguably the most powerful force in the universe. So powerful was their love for each other that they shared a psychic link. When Jean was possessed by the Phoenix Force she succumbed to its power and became the greatest threat the Marvel U has ever known. And she sacrificed her life in order to save the galaxy (see the classic Dark Phoenix Saga). Cyclops would fall in love with a woman that turned out to be a clone of Jean Grey and they had a son together. Their son would grow up to become the man called Cable. Later it was discovered that Jean was still alive (see Return of Jean Grey). Scott and Jean soon rekindled their romance and even got married in X-Men #30. But the good times were not meant to last as the maniac Xorn, disguised as Magneto, murdered Jean Grey, and Scott was forced to deal with the loss of the woman he loved a second time (see New X-Men by Grant Morrison Vol. 7). Cyclops has found solace in the arms of Emma Frost but with the approach of the Phoenix Force in the pages of AVX….
Wow, I just realized that these romances I’ve pointed out are all pretty tragic in one way or another. And none of them seem to have had that happy ending that we were all promised in Cinderella. When it comes to comics, why does romance and tragedy seem to walk hand-in-hand? But I submit this. Romance is also about perseverance. And won’t it be that much more triumphant when Superman and Lois Lane, Spider-Man and Mary Jane, Buffy and Angel, and Cyclops and Phoenix somehow, no matter what the odds, find their way back into each other’s arms. When is comes to love I believe Westley from The Princess Bride said it best when he said, “Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.”
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell