Greetings from the Odinson,
DC Comics: The New 52 and its new take on the DCU have the Odinson feeling a bit nostalgic when it comes to comics lately. I know first hand what this new generation of comic fans is experiencing - the thrill of discovery, the excitement of something new. By the time I got into comics the Marvel Age was already over a decade old. Like most young boys, I latched on to Marvel’s premiere super hero somewhere around Amazing Spider-Man #157. But I was in on the ground floor with this new teenage super hero called Nova: The Human Rocket. I was there in the very beginning when Rom the Spaceknight arrived on Earth to protect us from the evil Dire Wraiths. I was there when Marvel launched the ambitious and highly underrated New Universe. I was finally lured to DC Comics when in the wake of Crisis of Infinite Earths the DCU re-launched Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, SHAZAM, and presented Batman: Year One. There’s something really special about discovering heroes, new worlds and watching them develop before your eyes. This is a subject that I have talked about at length in previous columns (see The Odinson Looks at New Beginnings and Talks about the New DCU).
Wanting to have the feeling of discovery once again, the Odinson has started to review the back issues and try to find comics that I’ve never read before for one reason or another, and attack them with an open mind. This is what led me to the original Guardians of the Galaxy series (see The Odinson Rediscovers a ‘90s Classic). This past weekend I decided to try the Image title StormWatch. And much to my surprise, I really enjoyed it.
I was in college when StormWatch #1 hit the stands. As a huge WildC.A.T.s and Jim Lee fan, I was thoroughly on board to try out my man’s new team of heroes. I remember enjoying the concept and story of the book, if not the art. StormWatch, at the time, was at the beginning of the ‘90s comic book trend of “big pecs, big guns, super model super heroes” that ruled the comic racks for most of the decade. So I quickly lost interest in the book around StormWatch #8. I do remember the Images of Tomorrow event which I found really interesting, but more on that in moment.
So, like I said, recently I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic and since I’ve read everything else in my extensive collection a dozen times over, I’ve decided to try stories and series that I’ve never read before. I decided on StormWatch because I knew that I had an interest in it at one time, and I knew that it is the series that eventually leads into The Authority. I just didn’t know how. So I wanted to fill in the gap and see how that tale unfolded.
Co-created by Jim Lee and his partner in crime Brandon Choi, StormWatch right out of the gate presents a very interesting take on the super hero genre. It’s a mishmash of several different concepts, but with slight tweaks. StormWatch, like Youngblood, is a government sponsored super human strike squad. However, StormWatch is sponsored by the United Nations and their jurisdiction encompasses the entire world, not just one country. Like the Justice League, StormWatch made its base of operation high above the Earth in synchronous orbit aboard a satellite. Like the Avengers, StormWatch is led into battle by a take-charge, tactically sound super soldier that demands the best from those around him. And like the X-Men and New Mutants, there is a hierarchy of rookies, trainers, and field operatives. Trainees are promoted to the big leagues of super heroism from within the organization. Lee and Choi took bits and pieces that they liked and added their own unique ideas to produce a really interesting take on the genre.
What really drew me into the storyline were the characters. There’s Battalion, field commander, empowered with psionics and armed with a battlesuit that gives him the firepower of his namesake. Fuji is a mountain of a man from Japan whose super human strength is only matched by his great heart. Diva is a South American beauty with alabaster skin and a scream that can literally shatter steel. Hellstrike is super-fast and can project powerful force bolts. Winter, a hero from Russia, can absorb and manipulate massive amounts of energy. And residing over them all, high above in the orbiting space station SkyWatch, is the Weatherman, a cybernetically enhanced commander with eyes all over the world, ever vigilant and uncompromising when it comes to planet Earth’s safety. Along the way we meet other members, like Fahrenheit, a pyrokinetic beauty with flaming red hair. Cannon thinks he should be leading the team but he’s the typical cocky rookie with immense power and a five-cent head. And there’s Strafe, Battalion’s younger brother whose burgeoning psychic powers may one day surpass Battalion’s own. But no one is as cool as Backlash, the team’s combat instructor and veteran of a thousand battles. Backlash proved so popular that Image actually gave him his own spin-off series.
In the world of StormWatch, in the recent past, a mysterious comet passed by very close to the Earth and planted within many of its inhabitants the potential for super powers. Some people immediately developed their abilities (as good of an explanation for the many super heroes and villains walking around as any). Some people have their powers lying dormant within and that is where Synergy comes in. Christine Trelane, codenamed, Synergy, has the ability to awaken the dormant paranormal abilities in others. She turns ordinary humans into super humans. Synergy and Battalion share a strong romantic relationship. They balance each other nicely and keep each other sane in an insane world.
The personalities of this amazing cast are the driving force for the overall story arc. When the story begins, Battalion is suffering from guilt over a past mission that went very, very wrong. Apparently a peacekeeping mission in Kuwait saw the demise of Battalion’s first team, StormWatch Prime. Wracked with guilt, Battalion struggles with his convictions and plans to leave the team. But when his younger brother, Malcolm, is suddenly activated (Synergy activates his latent super human powers), Battalion finds himself drawn back to the fold.
Then the reader is introduced to the WarGuard. The WarGuard are extremely powerful members of StormWatch that went insane. They are extremely dangerous, utterly uncontrollable, and are kept in cryogenic stasis aboard SkyWatch. They are a Doomsday Weapon only to be released into the world when all hope is lost. Unfortunately, a trio of alien Daemonites (yes, the very threat that the WildC.A.T.s were assembled to fight) board SkyWatch and take control of three members of the WarGuard. It takes all the skill Battalion, Backlash and StormWatch have to contain just these three lunatic super villains. This situation beautifully foreshadows a future situation because as the reader I know the WarGuard will return, and if just three of them gave StormWatch this much trouble, what will happen when the whole lot of them escape?
Next, Battalion is given a chance at redemption when he discovers that StormWatch Prime is actually alive. It seems they’ve been held captive for months by StormWatch’s malevolent counterparts, the Mercs. This captivity, it turns out, has had lasting mental and physical effects on members of StormWatch Prime. Flashpoint blames Battalion and the tension between them escalates to the point where they finally have it out. Then the most startling thing occurs.
In one of the most ambitious ideas in comics history, Image selects a handful of its titles and presents Images of Tomorrow. For one month, these titles jump ahead to issue #25. This allows the readers to get a glimpse into the future of their titles and see what the future has in store. So after the events of StormWatch #9, the series immediately jumps to StormWatch #25. A mysterious time-traveler snags Battalion from the present and takes him one year into the future. Here the stalwart hero arrives just in time to witness SkyWatch fall from the heavens and crash to earth. His team is battered and all but defeated and under the command of Spartan (yes, Spartan from WildC.A.T.s). He discovers that in this future he is dead. Another member of the team is dead and now is little more than a meat-puppet of the villain responsible for it all – Despot, whose vast telepathic and telekinetic powers make him the most dangerous man alive. Despot also just happens to be Battalion’s father. Battalion attempts to defeat his deranged father but fails. Then suddenly a shadowy figure arrives on the battlefield but before Battalion can see who it is he is whisked back to the present. Now back in StormWatch #10, crushed with the weight of the knowledge of the future he now possesses, Battalion struggles with the decision of what to do.
What a wild ride those last three issues were. Now I couldn’t wait to read the next 15 issues to see how everything leads up to the harrowing events presented in the Images of Tomorrow. Along the way, Hellstrike evolves into a new kind of meta-human in StormWatch #12. I witness Battalion’s heroic death in StormWatch #16-17. And Winter’s past comes back to haunt him in StormWatch #20-21. But the catalyst for everything occurs during the mega Image wide crossover event WildStorm Rising. Seeing no other way to prevent the evil Hellspont and devious Lord Defile from destroying mankind, the U.N. unleashes the WarGuard back into the world. But proving to be as uncontrollable as ever, the WarGuard, led by the uber powerful Despot, turn on their “leaders” and embark on a world-conquering campaign of their own.
At long last answers to so many questions are revealed as we finally learn who the mysterious figure that appeared at the end of StormWatch #25 is. StormWatch #23-27 is an epic struggle between right and wrong, good and evil, father and son, and it ends when one member of StormWatch is forced to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to stop a madman. In the wake of these events, the series takes on a whole new tone and veers in a whole new direction. Enter: Warren Ellis.
With StormWatch #37, renowned writer Warren Ellis (Iron Man, Thunderbolts) takes the reins of the title and launches a page-turning story arc that soon transitions into the most unique take on the super hero genre to date. He wastes no time in introducing the readers to three new members - Jenny Sparks, an 86-year old woman with the look and body of a 20-year old and electrical powers to match her charged personality; Jack Hawksmoor, a proto-human with super human strength, speed and genetically engineered to live in cities; and Rose Tattoo, a mysterious woman with the uncanny ability to kill any living thing. Ellis’ new StormWatch has more attitude and take on a more proactive role in the world. The team is split into three elite units, each with its own purpose and specialty. The first series comes to a cataclysmic end with the 3-part story Change or Die.
Everyone knows that Superman is capable of just about anything and one question that inevitably always gets asked is “Why doesn’t Superman just solve all of mankind’s problems?” Well, Change or Die answers that very question. It all starts in StormWatch #46 when a mysterious bearded figure that has been sitting motionless high on a mountain top suddenly vanishes. This instantly vexes Weatherman and he puts the entire 500-man staff of SkyWatch on full alert. It seems a being known simply as The High (a thinly veiled homage to the Man of Steel), frustrated with the never-ending struggles of mankind, left everything behind and sat motionless for ten years on a mountain top and contemplated how to save mankind from itself. Now he has returned, and he is not alone. He is joined by a cadre of super heroes known as The Changers (kind of a faux JLA), and they plan to change the world whether anyone is ready for it or not.
Change or Die is a complex story and really turns the super hero genre on its ear. It brings to the table questions about right and wrong, absolute power, and does someone have the right to impose their will over another even if that person maybe right. Needless to say, once StormWatch and The Changers finally face off it’s a showdown not everyone will survive. Change or Die plants the seeds of where Warren Ellis plans to take his story and it will definitely change the way you look at the super hero genre.
Warren Ellis continues his groundbreaking narrative in StormWatch (1997 2nd Series). Here Battalion assumes the role of Weatherman, the team’s eyes and ears high upon SkyWatch. The team, though shaken by their confrontation with The Changers and the betrayal of former Weatherman Henry Bendix, continues fighting the good fight. In StormWatch (2nd Series) #4-6 Ellis introduces the world to Apollo and the Midnighter, two of the most popular characters to come out of the WildStorm Universe. It seems that five years ago Bendix assembled a secret team of heroes who on their very first mission met their demise. Apollo and Midnighter are the only survivors of that team and now they are on a quest to discover the truth about what happened. Unfortunately their goals and StormWatch’s goals may conflict and this sets the two factions on an inevitable collision course.
The entire saga of StormWatch comes to a head in a 3-part tale that closes the door on this chapter. It all starts in StormWatch (2nd Series) #10. When a mysterious asteroid is on a course to pass too closely to the Earth Weatherman (Battalion) sends out an investigative crew to plant charges and blow the rock into the sun. As the crew lands, they quickly realize that there is alien technology hidden beneath the surface of the asteroid. Suddenly, SkyWatch loses radio contact with the team. However, the asteroid is blown harmlessly into the sun and the issue ends with the investigative crew’s shuttle silently returning to SkyWatch.
The story continues in the pages of WildC.A.T.s/Aliens. SkyWatch has been invaded by aliens and the staff and heroes of StormWatch are not prepared for what came back on the shuttle from the rogue asteroid. The WildC.A.T.s , at this time disbanded, thinking the threat to be Daemonite related reassemble and teleport up to the orbiting SkyWatch. What follows is a pulse-pounding thriller pitting the super human strike force against the deadliest creature in the galaxy – the Xenomorph. Warren Ellis takes the best parts of the movie Aliens, and mixes it up with the super hero genre to tell a unique tale of action, horror, courage, and sacrifice.
The saga of StormWatch concludes in the pages of StormWatch (2nd Series) #11. Warren Ellis cleans up all the loose ends and sets the stage for the premiere of The Authority. Inspired by the events of Change or Die, Jenny Sparks, Apollo, Midnighter and the surviving members of StormWatch assemble and make it their mission to save the world – whether it wants to be saved or not.
One of my favorite things in life is going into something with low expectations and really becoming pleasantly surprised when that thing exceeds them. StormWatch far exceeded my expectations. It’s an action packed, character-driven opus with twists, turns, and a satisfying journey with a beginning, middle and end. StormWatch set the stage for the more mature themed Authority to follow and really surprised me with how good it was. This is definitely one back issue series that needs to be revisited or discovered by comic fans everywhere.
The Odinson’s grade for the saga of StormWatch: A++
And now, StormWatch is getting another shot as part of DC Comics: The New 52 bringing everything full circle.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
Entries for month: October 2011
October 28, 2011 · No Comments
Greetings from the Odinson,
October 21, 2011 · No Comments
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 presents once again 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.
Trick 'r Treat - Based on the horror movie written and directed by Michael Dougherty, this graphic novel delivers a spine-tingling tale of terror that will have readers leaving the lights on.
28 Days Later: The Aftermath – Steve Niles heads an all star staff of artists to bring to you this must-read chapter that bridges the gap between the cult hit 28 Days Later and its horrifying sequel 28 Months Later. And the Apocalyptic horror continues in Boom Studios’ 28 Days Later where we catch up with Selena, one of the three survivors of the first film.
EC Archives: Tales from the Crypt - These oversized volumes collect the first 18 issues (over 70 stories) of the 1950s comic book that inspired the hit movies and HBO cable series.
Essential Man-Thing - Explore the heights of the cosmos and the depths of the soul with the macabre Man-Thing! Featuring the 1st appearance of Steve Gerber’s courageous fowl Howard the Duck and guest-appearances by the Ka-Zar, Daredevil, the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing, and more!
Haunt of Horror: Edgar Allan Poe and Haunt of Horror: Lovecraft - Horror-comics legends Richard Corben offers wickedly twisted versions of the classic poems by Edgar Allan Poe and tales of terror by H.P. Lovecraft.
Halloween: Nightdance – He was the original and still is one of the most iconic movie killers of all time. Three teens have their world tunred upside down the chilling night that Michael Myers comes to their sleepy little town.
Nightmare on Elm Street – The iconic “Boogey-Man” of the ‘80s is back to terrorize the teenagers of Springfield.
Friday The 13th – No one is safe when the super-human stalker of Camp Crystal Lake returns in this chilling new chapter of Friday the 13th.
Army of Darkness Omnibus – When the dead rise and threaten all mankind there’s only one man that can save us. Witness the beginnings of Ash’s never-ending battle with the forces of darkness! This Omnibus includes Ash’s spine-tingling showdown with Herbert West, the nefarious Re-Animator!
Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash - Let the bodies hit the floor as these three horror icons clash in one of the bloodiest, funniest, and most thrilling horror stories of recent memory. He faced down the Army of Darkness, Darkman, and the Classic Monsters, but does even Ash have what it takes to take down the Kings of Horror, Freddy Krueger and Jason VoorHees?
Eduardo Risso's Tales of Terror - Dynamite Entertainment presents international super star artist Eduardo Risso’s wonderful tales of terror in English for the very first time. Also, check out Risso’s other horror masterpiece, collected in English for the first time, Vampire Boy!
Mephisto vs. - The Marvel U’s embodiment of evil, Mephisto, is in search of the ultimate prize and only the Fantastic Four, X-Factor, X-Men, and Avengers can stop him, or can they?!
X-Files/30 Days of Night – When Agents Mulder and Scully investigate a murder they soon find much more than they bargained for. Steve Niles, co-creator of 30 Days of Night, and rock star-turned-writer Adam Jones present a can’t miss horror crossover.
Blade: Undead Again – The Daywalker is back and kicking vampire butt in an action/horror tale featuring Spider-Man, Dracula, Doctor Doom, Wolverine, and the sinister machinations of the evil Santa Claus!?
Curse of Dracula - Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan return to the character they helped define for a generation.
Tomb of Dracula – After reading Curse go back and check out Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan’s classic Marvel Comics run on the Lord of Vampires in full color! These volumes include the stunning debut of Blade the Daywalker and a terrifying showdown between Dracula and Jack Russell the Werewolf by Night!
Doctor Strange vs. Dracula: Montesi Formula – The Master of the Mystic Arts sets out to destroy the Prince of Darkness once and for all in a macabre supernatural showdown for the ages.
Dracula vs. King Arthur – It’s the ultimate battle between good and evil as the Lord of Vampires and the Once and Future King meet on the field of battle to decide the fate of mankind.
Ghost Rider: Trail of Tears - Long before Johnny Blaze, there was Travis Parham, a lieutenant in the Confederate Army and one of the first men to be known as the Spirit of Vengeance. .
The Hills Have Eyes: The Beginning – You've seen the terrifying movies, now witness the horror from the very beginning - based on characters from Wes Craven's horror film classic.
Zombie – A small town in upstate New York is under siege by the walking dead and humanity’s last hope rest in the decaying hands of Simon Garth, the star of the Marvel 70s horror magazine, Tales of the Zombie.
The Walking Dead - Writer Robert Kirkman and artists Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn have taken everything that was great about George Romero’s classic Zombie films, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead, and expanded the zombie mythology to new heights. This is a story about mankind and how the human species survives in a world gone crazy. It’s a world without all the modern luxuries like electricity, television, video games, and indoor plumbing. It’s a world where the shambling dead that walk the earth in search of human flesh may not be the most dangerous things around. Every true fan of horror, or just fans of great storytelling, should have these volumes on their bookshelf. The Walking Dead is not just the best horror series going, but it is easily one of the best comic series going right now.
And it just keeps getting better because AMC now runs the live-action television adaptation of The Walking Dead for all the world to see. Season One was spearheaded by Frank Darabont, the writer/director behind the marvelous adaptations of Stephen King's The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption (yeah, the guy has credentials). The Walking Dead is now in its second season and showing no signs of slowing down. Before all is said and done, it will probably go down as the greatest horror television show in history.
Grab one or more of these bone-chilling tales of horror and keep the lights, for you never know what is lurking in the dark. Sleep tight kiddies. Happy Halloween.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
October 14, 2011 · No Comments
Greetings from the Odinson,
Last week the first official trailer for the upcoming Avengers movie directed by the great Joss Whedon was released and oh, boy, it looks fantastic. Captain America and Thor (along with Superman) have always been my favorite super heroes. The Avengers has always been my favorite team book. Joss Whedon is one of my favorite creators of all time. And now it’s all coming together in one bombastic explosion of Big Screen goodness. This is the first time a movie has featured a cast of A-list comic book heroes all working together on the screen at the same time. Hey, if it worked for the action heroes in The Expendables, then it has to work for Comics’ Mightiest Heroes!
Apparently, in the movie, just like in the comics, the god of mischief Loki will cause so much trouble for the denizens of planet Earth that a team of the world’s greatest super heroes must assemble to take on the threat no single hero can stand against alone. The trailer is amazing in how much information is conveyed in only two minutes. There’s a huge threat and Nick Fury must assemble the Avengers to take it down. Cue the rock music and action montage. Speaking of which, how many great shots can they cram into one trailer? Thor throwing and catching his hammer; Captain America leaping over a car and into battle like a hero; Hawkeye firing off his bow and looking as cocky as ever; Iron Man erupting out of the Hudson in all his invincible glory; Black Widow laying the smack down; and the Incredible Hulk raging out of control. Some of these images look as if they jumped right out of the comic book.
This film is going to have all the Whedonesque qualities of action, humor and drama. This is what he excels at. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly, shows created by Whedon, were all genre bending shows that incorporated all these qualities and more. Who better to handle a huge cast like the Avengers than the man who spearheaded the Whedonverse shows? Between the Scoobies, Angel Investigations, and the motley crew of Serenity, Whedon has handled big ensembles and handled them well. Whedon also has a talent for capturing the conflict between personalities. Whether it’s Jayne challenging Mal’s command or Spike and Angel arguing over cavemen vs. Astronauts (greatest scene ever), Joss Whedon is the man to explore what it would be like to be in a room with a time-displaced soldier from the 1940s, a Viking god of thunder, a cocky billionaire genius playboy, and a meek scientist with an eight-foot tall rage monster dwelling within. The clip of the exchange between Cap and Tony Stark is pure gold.
I was so happy when I heard they were releasing the trailer, but now I am filled with sadness as the long wait till May begins. Other than Star Wars Episode I, I have not been more excited about a movie's debut than this one's. I was excited about Thor and Cap but this is the Avengers directed by Joss Whedon. Next to another Star Wars movie, it doesn't get any bigger than that for the Odinson. Though Episode I fell short of my lofty expectations, I have all the confidence in the world that this movie will be great. Not to mention Marvel's track record with their recent films. 7 months, 21 Days, 11 hours, 54 minutes, and 10 seconds until the premiere (as I type this.) and I can’t wait.
Now on to my next topic…
Who doesn’t like Wolverine? He’s cool, complex, and tough as nails, right? I know I’ve touched on this subject before but New Avengers #16.1 and New Avengers #17 beautifully illustrate why Wolverine is NOT the best there is at what he does. In one issue a henchman empties the clip of his fully automatic machine gun right into Logan’s grill and in the other, during a typical super hero battle, the feral X-Man, sorry Avenger, has his throat cut.
Of course Wolverine survives both these incidents because of his ridiculous healing factor, but surviving is not the point. Wolverine’s greatest super human ability, his healing factor, is his biggest crutch. It makes him sloppy in battle. Guys like Captain America, Batman, Daredevil, and Nightwing get by without a healing factor. And they are facing gun-toting professionals, knife-wielding maniacs, and sword-swinging ninjas and they seem to survive. Iron Fist was in both those New Avengers issues and he didn’t take a bullet to the face.
My point is modern writers have gotten lazy when it comes to dealing with Wolverine’s powers. Wolverine has always had a healing factor but it wasn’t ever to the ridiculous degree that is now. In Kitty Pryde and Wolverine, Ogun actually turned the tide of his battle with Logan by pulling a gun on him. Wolverine survived, but barely. In Uncanny X-Men #205, Lady Deathstrike and the cyborg Reavers pushed Wolverine’s healing factor to its limits causing him to revert to a feral state while it coped with his injuries. In Uncanny X-Men #251, even Wolverine would have met his end at the hands of the Reavers if Jubilee hadn’t intervened.
Wolverine has always had extraordinary healing capabilities, but there was still that danger of him meeting his demise. Nowadays he’s plain and simply indestructible. In Old Man Logan, an alternate timeline, a deranged Hulk freaking eats him only to get a Wolverine tummy ache. During Civil War, Nitro disintegrated Wolverine down to only his Adamantium skeleton and he heals back to perfect health in the matter of a few panels. If there is no danger to the hero’s life then where does the drama of the situation come from? If the reader does not fear for his hero’s life than how are his accomplishments spectacular? There has to be a chance of failure for victories to have weight.
I come back to how legendary X-scribe Chris Claremont handled the character. During his long and distinguished tenure on Uncanny X-Men, Wolverine’s mutant power was an asset, not a crutch. It allowed him to recover quickly enough from his trouncing at the hands of the Hellfire Club to help turn the tide of battle in Uncanny X-Men #133. It helped him hold out just long enough for lady luck to smile on him and help him defeat the alien mastermind Horde in Uncanny X-Men Annual #11. It allowed him to go toe-to-toe with a savage like Sabretooth and survive in Uncanny X-Men #212. But his healing factor had its limits. In Days of Future Past, another alternate timeline, Wolverine meets his end when a giant Sentinel fries the flesh from his indestructible bones. In the Japan Adventure, Wolverine is beaten into unconsciousness with a wooden sword by Mariko’s father.
I just don’t think the writers today earn it with him. Wolverine is supposed to be one of the greatest heroes in the world. Like Captain America and Batman, he is a super human fighting machine. I’ve seen Wolverine get the upper hand on Shang Chi, the Master of kung Fu. I just don’t think the writers today respect this man’s abilities. It seems like they know he’s indestructible so let’s just shoot him in the face, blow him up, or impale him with a sword, knowing that any other hero that’s not bullet proof would be dead after this. But guys like Iron Fist and Robin don’t get shot in the face because they are good at their job. And Wolverine is supposed to be the best.
In New Avengers #16.1, Wolverine letting a henchman get the drop on him and blasting him in the chin shows that he has become just as lazy and sloppy as the writers who tell his adventures. I’m not saying that Wolverine during the course of a battle or in an ambush cannot sustain injuries or be hurt, things his healing factor would allow him to cope with, but make the bad guys earn it. What if in New Avengers #17 it had been Hawkeye standing on Ultimo’s chest and some faceless robot tore out his throat? It would have been an inglorious end to a marvelous super hero’s career. But it’s Wolverine…meh, no worries. Wolverine would have been better served in both these scenes if he had disarmed the henchman before he got a shot off because his super hero instincts kicked in and dismantled the annoying little robot before it ever had a chance to cut him. That’s what Cap would have done. But Wolverine is the best there is at what he does, right?
Another frustrating aspect about Wolverine’s healing factor is the inconsistency of it. In Days of Future Past a Sentinel can fry him down to his metal bones and kill him. But in Civil War when Nitro does the very same thing Wolverine heals almost instantly. In Uncanny X-Men #234, Wolverine’s healing factor saves him from the alien Brood parasite growing in his body. But in Marvel Zombies, he succumbs to the alien zombie virus just like everyone else. In The Marvel Universe vs. Wolverine his power makes him immune to the rage virus. But in What If #24, Wolverine’s healing factor cannot protect him vampirism. Yet, it can protect him from vampirism in X-Men: Curse of the Mutants.
If Wolverine is really one of the greatest heroes in the world then he should stop getting wounds every issue that would kill other guys that don’t get these wounds. This suggests one of two things to me. Either everyone else is better at their job than he is, or Wolverine, like those who write his adventures, uses his healing factor as a crutch and has become lazy and sloppy. I challenge everyone to go back and revisit Logan’s adventures from the 70s and 80s and remember just how cool this character was and how it was actually a debate on whether or not he was the best there is. Pardon the pun, but he clawed his way to the A-List by being a total B.A.
Here are just a few examples of Wolverine truly at his best: Wolverine by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, Kitty Pryde and Wolverine, Essential Wolverine, The Dark Phoenix Saga, Alpha Flight/X-Men, and Uncanny X-Men #120-122, 172-173, 183, 205, 207, 211-213, 221-222, 251, 268, and 275.
The best modern tale of Wolverine is, without a doubt, Enemy of the State. It made Wolverine the toughest guy in the Marvel Universe again, even if the writer had to make him a bad guy to do it. I like Wolverine, when he’s written well. I’m just not sure if the creators these days really appreciate this character the way they to treat him so casually. Here’s a novel idea. How about we see Wolverine get into a fight, win it, and actually not have to rely on his healing factor to survive the incident. That would be a step in the right direction.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
October 07, 2011 · No Comments
Greetings from the Odinson,
Recently I revisited the original Guardians of the Galaxy, a comic series that was pretty prominent in the early ‘90s. Though at the time the book was new I was not a monthly reader. But after reading the entire series last weekend I found, much to my delight, that it is a wonderful comic series. This comic series is what comic books are all about - heroic figures in fantastic settings overcoming extraordinary circumstances. Sprinkling in some Marvel History doesn’t hurt either.
Set in the 31st Century of the Marvel Universe, this saga features a team of super heroes, gathered together from the four corners of the cosmos. The team includes Charlie 27, a fifth generation militia-man and the sole survivor of Earth’s Jupiter colony. Martinex, last survivor of Earth’s colony on Pluto, can manipulate fire and ice and is the team’s reluctant leader. Nikki, last survivor of Earth’s Mercury colony, has super human agility and a fiery attitude to match. Major Vance Astro, first Earthman to the stars, is the last survivor of the 20th Century and the master of the mutant power of psychokinesis. Yondu, last son of Earth’s only extra-stellar colony, Centauri IV, is a primitive mystic and weapons master. Aleta is the mistress of light. And Starhawk, enigmatic mutant from the planet Arcturus, wields the power of light and shares his physical being with Aleta. He is “The One Who Knows.” They are seven extraordinary super-beings, all survivors of interstellar war. Now they roam the cosmos of the 31st Century aboard the starship Captain America. Their mission – to safeguard the Milky Way!
This is not the team’s first appearance. They first assembled back in Marvel Super Heroes (1966-1982 1st Series) #18 where they set out to free mankind from slavery to their alien overlords. They made it their quest to find the “Lost Colony of Earth.” Their adventures continued in Marvel Presents (1975 Marvel) #3-12. They were also a major part of the classic Marvel epic The Korvac Saga, as they traveled back in time to the 20th Century to help the Avengers face down the mad man-god Michael Korvac, a madman from their own time period.
One of the things I really enjoyed about the series is that the heroes in this group actually get along with each other. What a concept, right? They genuinely like each other and any drama or friction between members comes naturally from the story. You don’t get members arguing with each other just because one of them is a mutant, monster, or wants to steal a teammate’s girl. The Avengers drove the Hulk away with their prejudice and mistrust. The Justice League, and world at large, treat Aquaman like he’s a punch line rather than the protector of ¾ of the planet. Cyclops and Wolverine have been at odds since the early days of the All-New All-Different X-Men when Wolverine tried to woo Jean Grey away from Scott and refused to toe the line under his command. Well, their feud has come to a head in the pages of Schism, as the Children of the Atom are torn asunder and split into two factions – the Uncanny X-Men led by Cyclops and Wolverine and the X-Men led by, you guessed it, Wolverine.
Now that’s not to say that the Guardians are completely devoid of strife. For instance, Aleta and Starhawk begin the series trapped, sharing the same body. Before this happened they were husband and wife. Then a horrible disaster destroyed their world and took from them their children. Aleta blames Starhawk for this tragedy and is now forced to share a body with a man she hates. Charlie 27 and Nikki share a love affair, but Nikki’s promiscuous ways may be too much for the smitten strongman to handle. Yondu thought he was the last of his kind until the day he meets Photon, a member of the Force. Now this very spiritual man sees hope for the future of his people, but how can there be a future when all Photon wants to do is kill Yondu on sight? Aleta, once she becomes separated from Starhawk, becomes attracted to and strikes up a romance with the Earthman Vance Astro. How will this affect Starhawk, her former husband? The answer is as mysterious and enigmatic as Starhawk himself. These human dramas unfold naturally as the saga of the Guardians unfolds.
One of the main attractions of this wonderful series is the insight to what the Marvel Universe will look like in the 31st Century. First off, what was the fate of the heroes of planet Earth? It seems that sometime in the latter days of the 20th Century the Martians invaded Earth, giant walkers and all. Earth’s heroes were overwhelmed and the planet was conquered. Fearing that his technology would fall into Martian control, Tony Stark loaded up a rocket ship and blasted his tech into deep space. Unfortunately, a savage tribe of aliens found Iron Man’s tech, and over the course of generations twisted it and turned their people into ruthless cyborgs bent on conquest. They are known as The Stark and they are one the Guardians’ most dangerous enemies.
Firelord is now an agent of Eon and the Protector of the Universe, a job this former herald of Galactus excels at. The Ghost Rider of the 31st Century is an even more aggressive version of the Spirit of Vengeance that is at war with the Universal Church, cosmic zealots with little tolerance for those that don’t believe in their religious ways. Just wait until you meet the legacy of the Punisher. Somehow I just don’t think that this is what Frank Castle had in mind when he declared war on crime. And in Guardians of the Galaxy #24-25, we are introduced to the Keeper, Norrin Radd of the 31st Century. He is now the bearer of the cosmic Quantum Bands and seeks a final confrontation with his former master Galactus. Any fan of the Silver Surfer and Galactus will enjoy this 2-part epic which brings closure to the tale of these two Marvel mainstays. Other allies include Krugarr, the Sorcerer Supreme of the 31st Century, and Hollywood, a.k.a. Wonder Man. Simon has spent his long life trying to live down the events of the day when Earth’s Mightiest Heroes fell and he was not there to help. But what can he do when he’s been branded a coward?
The Guardians embark on some of the most senses-shattering adventures ever witnessed. Like a futuristic version of Jason and the Argonauts, Vance Astro and the Guardians of the Galaxy travel from one side of the Marvel Universe to the other, meeting challenge after challenge. Along the way they meet new allies like Talon, the agile catman, and make bitter enemies like The Stark and Malevolence, the devilish daughter of Mephisto.
They even survive devastating confrontation with the Dread Dormammu!
They see and experience sights and places few mortals have ever witnessed. They meet the Beyonder. The One from Beyond even bestows a gift upon Vance Astro. They venture to Asgard, fabled home of the mighty Norse gods where they battle Loki and learn the less than glorious fate of Thor, the fallen thunder god. Here Aleta and Heimdall, guardian of the Rainbow Bridge, set out on a harrowing quest and discover they have more in common than they first thought. Plus, the Guardians travel to a place beyond space and time and bear witness to the final fate of the Protégé, as the Living Tribunal, Eternity, and Scathan the Celestial pass judgment on the upstart godling. This is a cosmic event no mortal has ever seen before.
Unfortunately the series does have one black mark. Guardians of the Galaxy #28 is, without a doubt, the worst drawn comic book I’ve ever seen. And this comes as quite a surprise since the artwork is done by industry legend Herb Trimpe (Incredible Hulk). The story is great. This Infinity War tie-in sees the Guardians traveling back in time to the 20th Century to protect the secrets of Avengers Mansion from a cadre of super villains led by the diabolical Doctor Octopus. I’m absolutely shocked an editor would let this issue see print though since Trempe so obviously mailed it in. Other than this singled out issue, the creative teams for the series – Jim Valentino, Steve Montano, Michael Gallagher, and Kevin West - do a remarkable job with this cast of heroes. As I read the stories I can tell these guys really care about these characters and deliver some of their best work for the readers.
The series starts with an outstanding 6-part epic entitled Quest for the Shield. We open the series with the Guardians desperately racing against the clock to find a lost artifact from Marvel’s past. Along the way they must face the dangerous Stark and face off with their malevolent counterparts The Force, a team of super beings whose powers and abilities rival the Guardians themselves. Here they also meet the mysterious Main Frame, a sentient computer that controls an entire world and just so happens to be a hero from the past.
The next big epic of the series is entitled World of Mutants. The Guardians finally arrive on a planet and discover the location of the fabled “Lost Colony of Earth.” This mission is the very reason the Guardians assembled in the first place. What they find is far more than they bargained for. What they find is a world ruled by mutants, but ruled with an iron fist. Mankind is little more than slaves under the rule of their feral queen Rancor, the descendant of Wolverine. It is here that Starhawk unleashes the unbridled power of the Phoenix back into the galaxy. You’ll have to read the series to find out whether this was a good idea, or a bad one.
For the Odinson the standout characters have to be Vance Astro and Starhawk. Vance Astro is the future counterpart of Justice, the modern day hero and former member of the New Warriors and current member of the Avengers. He is from the 20th Century and is over a thousand years old. The only thing that keeps him alive is a special containment suit. If his suit is breached he begins to age quickly and his body begins to decompose because of his great age. Vance’s boyhood hero is Captain America. When he explains why Cap is such an inspiration and hero among heroes, Vance truly captures everything that the Odinson himself loves about the Sentinel of Liberty. It is a fantastic scene when Vance finally comes face-to-face with his boyhood idol in Guardians of the Galaxy #30-31. Writers Jim Valentino and Michael Gallagher do outstanding jobs of setting Vance up as Cap’s successor for the 31st Century. And because of this series, Justice has been shed in a whole new light for me. I will start to pay closer attention to his character development from now on.
Starhawk is “The One Who Knows.” This is how everyone knows him. He seemingly knows how events will play out long before they happen. The Guardians along with the reader become shocked when they learn the secret to why he is “The One Who Knows.” Another great moment in the series is in Guardians of the Galaxy #26. Here we get to see the very first appearance of the Guardians from Marvel Super Heroes (1966-1982 1st Series) #18, but told from a different point of view - Starhawk’s point of view. And this is extra special since Starhawk didn’t even appear in the pages of Marvel Super Heroes #18. How does the unseen influence of “The One Who Knows” affect the future of the Guardians of the Galaxy?
The series ends beautifully with the Guardians trying to avert the biggest disaster in their history. The outcome could change their present, and what the future holds for them only time can tell. But the Guardians of the Galaxy will do what they have always done – the spectacular.
It was just announced by Disney last week that the Guardians of the Galaxy will be the subject of an upcoming Marvel movie (see Guardian of the Galaxy Movie). Wow! That’s fantastic. Now whether it’s the original futuristic Guardians of the Galaxy or the modern day version led by Star Lord remains to be seen. Personally, I’m hoping for the original. As I said before, this comic series is what comic books are all about - heroic figures in fantastic settings overcoming extraordinary circumstances. Though I missed out on it when it was new, I sure am glad I rediscovered it in back issue. Guardians of the Galaxy is well worth the read.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
October 03, 2011 · No Comments
Greetings from the Odinson,
Doctor Who is the longest running Sci-Fi television show in the history of the medium. Sporting one of the most recognizable theme music intros in the world, it originally aired from 1963 to 1989, had a TV movie in 1996, and is currently enjoying a renaissance with its latest run 2005-Present. The show gets its name from the main protagonist – The Doctor. The Doctor is a human-looking alien time-traveler known as a Time Lord. He is super humanly intelligent and has an unparalleled love for the human condition. He will do anything to save a life, even give up his own.
The Doctor is hundreds of years old. He achieves this feat through regeneration. When the Doctor dies, his body regenerates into a new Doctor. Upon regeneration he retains all of his past knowledge and experience but he is reformed into a new and different looking body. These new bodies also bring with them slight changes to his personality. This is an ingenious plot point by the creators. This way the show can remain fresh and have longevity. With regeneration written into the mythology, it explains why there are different actors (eleven in all) playing the Doctor throughout the show’s history.
The Doctor travels the timestream aboard the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space). This miracle machine looks like an old fashioned Police Box. On the out side it measures probably only 6’ x 6’ x 8’. But on the inside, the TARDIS is a sprawling complex and super high tech mobile base of operations. In the recent episode “The Doctor’s Wife,” written by Neil Gaiman (Sandman, Stardust), the relationship between the Doctor and the TARDIS is explored from a never before seen angle. Needless to say the Doctor and the TARDIS are as tied together and inseparable as Batman and Robin.
The Doctor has saved planet Earth dozens of times. He has liberated far off alien worlds. And he has prevented the utter annihilation of the space/time continuum on several occasions. To say that he is a hero is an understatement. But he does not accomplish these Herculean feats alone. Over the years, the Doctor has had many companions ranging from humans to aliens. Even former enemies have been known to come to the Doctor’s aide. Much like Goku, the Doctor just has a way about him of making friends and influencing others. There’s Susan Foreman (First Doctor) the Doctor’s granddaughter. Grace Holloway (Eighth Doctor) is the only companion, until recently, to have a romantic interlude with The Doctor. Sarah Jane Smith and the robotic K-9 actually spun-off and had their own TV series. Martha Jones (Tenth Doctor) left The Doctor’s side to join the ranks of Torchwood, a paranormal investigative organization and another spin-off TV series. There is the beautiful Amy Pond (Eleventh Doctor), lovingly referred to by The Doctor as “The Girl Who Waits,” and her husband Rory Williams, the Last Centurion. As a time-traveler it should come as no surprise that the Doctor has met many prominent figures in history. He even has strong friendships with Winston Churchill and Vincent Van Gogh.
Then there is River Song. She is a fellow time-traveler from The Doctor’s future. Her adventures with The Doctor occur out-of-sync, so she always knows more about him than he does about her. She probably has more high-tech gadgets at her disposal than The Doctor, including lipstick that erases memory. She is always packing heat, something The Doctor would never do. River is mysterious and is currently serving time in prison – a prison she can and does escape from any time she wants - for the murder of a “good man.” The identity of this man has not been revealed, but River’s relationship to The Doctor and his current companions was revealed in the cliffhanger of the episode “A Good Man Goes to War!” There have been many companions over the years and The Doctor has made many, many allies. Sometimes, much like the Avengers, he even assembles a small army of his allies to tackle situations no single hero can stand against alone.
The Doctor, unfortunately, also has many, many powerful enemies. These are Omega Level Threats that put a lot of the Rogues Galleries out there to shame. There are the Cybermen, a race of emotionless cyborgs that have set out across the galaxy to assimilate all life forms. Their numbers are legion. There’s The Master, a renegade Time Lord who also has the power of regeneration and a super human intellect to match The Doctor’s own. The Master is Moriarty to The Doctor’s Sherlock Holmes. There’s the Odinson’s personal favorite, the Weeping Angels. These winged aliens appear to be granite statues of angelic figures when you are looking at them but in just the fraction of a second it takes you to blink they can murder you. They are easily one of the scariest enemies in The Doctor’s Rogues Gallery. There is also The Silence. These primordial beasts have walked among us since the dawn of mankind. They have secretly manipulated events throughout history. They do this with the greatest defense mechanism ever. As soon as someone is not looking at them that person completely forgets the Silence ever existed. Viewers have asked, “If The Silence has been stalking the Earth forever then why hasn’t The Doctor ever seen them before?” The creators matter-of-factly answer, “He has…he just doesn’t remember.” How scary is that? Then, of course, there are the Daleks. The Daleks are small in number but great in destructive power. They are The Doctor’s oldest and quite possibly his most tenacious adversary ever. Created by the mad scientist Davros, the Daleks are mutants encased in nigh indestructible armor hell-bent on exterminating all other life forms that are inferior to the Daleks. Unfortunately for the rest of the cosmos, Daleks believe everything is inferior to them. There are many, many other great villains; these are some of my favorites.
Going up against deadly foes like these, The Doctor constantly finds himself caught in jam after jam. Luckily for him, he has the perfect tool for fixing just about any problem – the Sonic Screwdriver. This handheld multifunctional tool can pick any lock, conventional or electronic. It can be used as a medical scan and to remote control other electronic devices. The Sonic Screwdriver can also track alien life forms helping The Doctor to see through illusions and shape-shifting as well.
Growing up in the eighties, for me, Doctor Who was a charming low budget sci-fi show that came on late at night on PBS. The low budget Special FX added to the show’s charm. I remember Peter Davison (the Fifth Doctor) but the Doctor of my youth was Tom Baker (the Fourth Doctor). Baker was a funny guy and his appearance is easily distinct from other Doctors by his instantly recognizable long flowing scarf. I remember actually seeing a Tom Baker Doctor Who movie shown in a local dollar theatre. In the 90s, I all but forgot about the show. Then a few years ago I heard it had returned. So I checked out a few episodes to see if the show held up to my fond memories. I was only able to catch a few episodes of Christopher Eccleston (the Ninth Doctor). But the few I saw were really good. Then, David Tennant (the Tenth Doctor) took over. Though I have not seen all of Tennant’s run, I have enjoyed it. Stand out moments have to be the Cybermen/Daleks war and the introduction of the Weeping Angels. For many, Tennant is the definitive Doctor Who, but for the Odinson, Matt Smith (the Eleventh Doctor) is my Doctor.
I jokingly tease my fellow co-workers, also big Doctor Who fans, that the best scene from David Tennant’s run on Doctor Who is the scene where he turns into Matt Smith. Everyone has their favorite Doctor, mine is Smith. He’s funny, charming, and on a dime menacing. From his signature bow tie to his constant experimentation with headwear the Eleventh Doctor is absolutely kinetic and thrilling to watch. Smith has also given us instant classic lines like “bow ties are cool” and “Geronimo.” But what really strikes a cord with me about Matt Smith is the way he plays the Doctor. The way he works out problems and his obvious affection for life, all life, and the way he sounds is the way I hear voices of characters like Reed Richards or Hank Pym in my head when I am reading their adventures. Matt Smith’s portrayal of The Doctor is a living, breathing version of Mister Fantastic.
Here’s a description of the opening scene to the episode “A Good Man Goes to War!”
A group of Cybermen is standing on the bridge of their starship. Through the glass behind them the viewer can see the hundreds of ships that make up the Cybermen’s fleet. Suddenly an intruder alert rings out. Security is obviously having a problem stopping the intruder. Then the door to the bridge slides open to reveal Rory, dressed in his Centurion gear. He looks at the assembled Cybermen clearly unafraid and says, “I have a question and The Doctor has a message.” As he speaks, Rory circles around the robotic group so that the glass showing the fleet outside is at his back. He asks “Where is my wife?” As seemingly shaken as an unemotional Cyberman can possibly appear, the metallic leader asks “And what is the Doctor’s message?” It is at this moment, the Cybermen and the viewer watching at home see every single starship in the Cybermen’s fleet explode behind Rory. Without even acknowledging this Rory says “Would you like me to repeat the question?”
LOL. I’m paraphrasing the scene, of course, but that’s just good stuff. And to think, that’s only in the first five minutes of the episode. I still don’t know how the creators of the show are going to top Season 5’s finale “The Big Bang” but after seeing the first half of Season 6, I have all the confidence in the world.
Doctor Who is easily one of the best sci-fi TV series ever. The current run of the show is top notch stuff for sure. The Odinson holds the Eleventh Doctor’s adventures up in as high regards as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly. The writing, the acting, the plot twists, the action, the drama, the music – it’s all just so delicious. If you’ve never watched a single episode or if you haven’t tried the new Doctor out yet, I cannot recommend this series enough.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell