Greetings from the Odinson,
It’s time for Odinson’s 2011 “The Year in Review!”
Fear Itself – I’m really torn on this one. This tale had a great opening with Book of the Skull, and the build up throughout the event was also great. The tension rising as the Fear god closed his bony fingers around the globe and caused civilization to fall into chaos. As the villain’s avatars wreaked havoc all over the globe and the Red Skull’s engines of war turned New York City into a war zone, the chance for survival, let alone victory, became more and more bleak for our heroes. There were great character moments for Captain America, Thor and Iron Man and a really awesome scene involving Thor’s hammer, but the climatic ending really fell short. It felt like most of the drama happened off camera. It just didn’t deliver the goods considering the amazing build up leading into it. Odinson Rating: 3 out of 5 Hammers
Flashpoint – It was DC Comics’ version of The Age of Apocalypse, and it was not executed nearly as well. The alternate characters were unlikable, and in most cases so far removed from the original as to make them unrecognizable. Alternate realities like these seem to just be about how the creators can kill off main characters in ways they never could in the real DCU. The only bit of drama I took from this tale happened in a side book when Booster Gold faced off with the monstrous Doomsday. But even the shocker of bringing this behemoth back every other year or so is wearing just a little thin. And before you think that I don’t have anything good to say about this storyline - Andy Kubert’s art was great. The other good thing to come out of this otherwise forgettable event (other then a collection of really nice BUTTONS) is that it set up the much anticipated launch of The New 52. Odinson Rating: 2 out of 5 Hammers
DC Comics: The New 52 – Easily one of the most anticipated events of the year. In a bold move, DC Comics restarted its entire line from issue #1, a 52 title launch that would restart and reinvigorate the DCU. Sort of... The Odinson was a big time supporter of this idea from the very beginning (see The Odinson Talks about the Big Announcement), and still am. But there is something missing. It just kind of feels like DC only halfway committed to its restart. Some of the books like Justice League and Action Comics are fantastic jumping on points, but other titles seem to just be business as usual with no real difference from what was going on before the launch of the New 52. With a lot of the titles, DC has really delivered. Batman, Nightwing, StormWatch, Aquaman, Action Comics, Superman, Suicide Squad and, of course, Justice League are really, really good. Justice League by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee has to be, hands down, the super hero book of the year. It’s simply amazing and Lee’s artwork just keeps getting better. All I’m saying is if you’re going to re-launch, then go all the way with it like you did in 1986. Don’t kind of do it and leave a backdoor escape route in case it doesn’t work. Have the courage of your convictions. I’m really enjoying the DC titles I mentioned above, as for the rest…I’m as on the fence about them as DC seems to be about really re-launching their universe. Odinson Rating: 3 out of 5 Hammers
X-Men: Schism – It’s the moment that will split the Children of the Atom into two factions. Like Civil War did to the Avengers, Schism pits the X-Men’s two top dogs, Cyclops and Wolverine, against each other with opposite opinions about the future of mutantkind. Half the team stayed with Cyclops on the west coast while the other half left Utopia with Wolverine and now make their base of operations in the east coast. Though the actual argument seemed a bit flimsy, the ramifications that followed their falling out was definitely major. Like so much that happened in the world of comics in 2011, Schism had huge build up but just didn’t seem to quite deliver all the goods. The real fall out of this in family fighting will be felt in 2012 in the pages of X-Men vs. Avengers when the already fractured X-Men will once again have to decide where loyalties lie. Odinson Rating: 3 out of 5 Hammers
Spider Island – This was just a big mess. There were a few really entertaining moments and guest-stars galore, but in the end it seemed like this whole event was simply put together to just break up Peter Parker and his current girl of interest. However, J. Jonah Jameson with Spidey powers earns this tale a Hammer. Odinson Rating: 1 out of 5 Hammers
The Return of Doctor Octopus – Otto Octavius, a.k.a. Doctor Octopus, has always been one of the Odinson’s favorite Spidey villains. Years ago, he was one of the most dangerous villains around. He’s as smart as Doctor Doom and his mechanical arms are as versatile and deadly as super weapons come. But what makes him even scarier is the fact that Doctor Octopus is certifiably insane. Spider-Man was always challenged when it came to dealing with this mad man’s diabolical schemes. Plus, it was Doc Ock that assembled the original Sinister Six! For years now, thanks to phobias, injuries, death and current creators seeming lack of respect for this great character, Doc Ock had become something akin to a punch line. That is until Died in Your Arms Tonight, when the most grotesque version of Ock made his triumphant return. Then 2011 became the year of the Octopus as first in Unfixable, Doctor Octopus made his presence known by outsmarting Tony Stark and actually making the “Iron Man” beg. Then Doctor Octopus reassembles the Sinister Six and pays a visit to his old foe Spider-Man and his new team the FF (see The Fantastic Spider-Man). Here, once again, Ock proves just how smart he is by outwitting the Big Brains of the Future Foundation. Finally, Octavius ends the year with a bang in Amazing Spider-Man #676 with a showdown against the Intelligencia. The Intelligencia is a cabal of criminal masterminds and comprised of some of the smartest super villains on Earth. Doc Ock is going to make them pay for not considering him for membership. And this is all just set up for what this diabolical super villain has in store for the Marvel U in 2012. I can’t wait to see what he has planned next. Odinson Rating: 5 out of 5 Hammers
Walking Dead – This television series continues to be strong to quite strong. It’s good drama. As fantastic as the comic is, the show is even better. The show fills in all those gaps between panels and, through the performances of the actors, really fleshes out the characters. And the twists and turns the show makes that the comics don’t, really keeps longtime readers and fans on their toes. The mid-season finale was, without a doubt, one of the most heart-breaking TV scenes in history. This is an amazing story of a small group of survivors trying to make their way during the end of days and the effect this dark and dangerous new world has upon them. Oh yeah, and there are zombies. This is one TV show well worth your time. Odinson Rating: 4 out of 5 Hammers
So busy was the Odinson in 2011 that I hardly found time to get to go to the movies. So first let me comment on the movies I haven’t seen yet. Adventures of Tin Tin, I can’t imagine this film could be better than a live action version, but with Spielberg involved I’ll wait until I see it to pass judgment. I really wanted to see Immortals. It just seems right up my alley and I can’t wait to see if it lives up to my expectations. I’m scared to watch the new Conan the Barbarian movie. That’s such an important character and I just hope they did him justice. With X-Men: First Class I’m already not a huge X fan and it will take way more than a story about Professor X and Magneto in their younger days to get me to sit in a theatre for two and a half hours. Revenge of the Fallen was so poorly executed that I skipped Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon. And I’m told it was to my detriment. As for Smurfs, I barely liked the cartoon, so I’ll wait for Netflix. As for Green Hornet? No interest.
Now on to the films I actually saw.
Thor – I’ve already spoken at length about this film in the past (see Thor Movie Review). With a fantastic cast, story, director, and a respect for the source material, Thor not only hit a home run but it knocked the ball out of the park. The opening scene in Asgard brought a tear to my eye. ‘Nuff said. Odinson Rating: 5 out of 5 Hammers and a Thunderclap
Green Lantern – Now this one is funny for me because I really want to like it, almost to the point of forcing myself. It was a good movie, not great, but OK. And therein lies the problem. If you are going shill out your hard earned money and sit in the theatre for two hours you want to be wowed. Warner almost got it right but there just seemed to be a little bit missing. Odinson Rating: 3 out of 5 Hammers
Captain America: The First Avenger – Like its Thor counterpart, Cap’s film was almost perfectly executed. I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t completely on board with the casting of Chris Evans as Steve Rogers. But boy did he bring it. Seeing my all time favorite super hero come to life on the Big Screen was amazing. My only complaint was the cop out of using a pseudo off shoot faction of the Axis Powers instead of the Nazis themselves. And the laser guns were a little much. But seeing Cap fling his mighty shield on the Big Screen more than made up for that. And the early preview of 2012’s Avengers movie didn’t hurt either. Odinson Rating: 4 out of 5 Hammers
Cowboys and Aliens – Produced by Ron Howard (Willow, The Da Vinci Code) and Steven Spielberg (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jaws), directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man), and starring Daniel Craig (Casino Royale) and Harrison Ford (Star Wars, Indiana Jones) – there’s no way this movie isn’t going to be great, right? Well... The idea is solid. The cast is amazing. The direction is well executed. Yet I walked away from this one simply saying “meh.” First off, it’s about 45 minutes too long. It takes 20 minutes in the beginning of the film before anything really happens. And there are too many endings. If it wasn’t for the wonderful performances by the films stars, Craig and Ford, then the film would hardly be worth watching at all. It also doesn’t hurt that it co-stars the beautiful Olivia Wilde (TRON: Legacy and Baroness in The Ballad of G.I. Joe video short from Funny or Die). In the end, there were probably just too many hands in the cookie jar. Odinson Rating: 2 out of 5 Hammers
2012 may just turn out to be the best year for fanboys and girls yet. Blizzard plans to finally release its follow up to Starcraft II with Heart of the Swarm. Marvel has announced a huge mega championship bout between their two premiere super teams. X-Men vs. Avengers will settle the argument once and for all – who are Earth’s Mightiest Heroes? And with movies like Man of Steel, The Dark Knight Rises, Wrath of the Titans, and Amazing Spider-Man hitting theatres in 2012, this year is sure to be a step above all others. But the Odinson is not anticipating anything more than he is the arrival of The Avengers directed by none other than Joss Whedon himself.
So, here’s to 2011. It was fun. Now bring on 2012! Happy New Year everybody!
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
Entries for month: December 2011
December 30, 2011 · 1 Comment
Greetings from the Odinson,
December 23, 2011 · No Comments
Seasons Greetings from the Odinson,
It’s now Christmas time and the Holiday Season is a time for joy and happiness, and a perfect time to catch up on your favorite books, comics, and movies. At times like these some people may find themselves with a lot of quiet time to fill. This is the perfect time to visit a World of Imagination. So the Odinson is presenting his Top 10 Worlds of Imagination to visit this Holiday Season. Last week the top half of my list shaped up like this:
10 – The View Askewniverse
09 – G.I. Joe/Transformers
08 – World of Blizzard
07 – The Hyborian Age
06 – The Forgotten Realms
Those first five are going to be hard to top. So without further ado, let’s check out the rest of the list.
The Odinson’s Top 10 Worlds of Imagination: Part 2
05 – Star Trek – “Space, the final frontier…” The original Star Trek TV series set the standard for all other sci-fi shows to follow. Creator Gene Roddenberry had a beautiful vision of the future where men and women of all nationalities put aside their differences and banded together to advance society and reach out to travel among the stars. For nearly five decades now this idea has been an inspiration for countless fans around the world. I know there are many fans of Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, and the Animated Series but, without a doubt, for the Odinson, the gems of this long running series are the aforementioned original Star Trek, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and J.J. Abrams’ new Star Trek.
The original series starred William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk, a brash handsome hero who could overcome any challenge using guile and wit and a man whose romantic conquests were nearly as legendary as his heroic ones. It also featured Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock; the yin to Kirk’s yang. Spock was rational, analytical, and, with him, logic always ruled the day. The Wrath of Khan was not only the second movie in the series but it was also the sequel to one of the most memorable episodes from the original TV series, and featured the return of the genetic superman Khan Noonien Singh, easily one of the greatest villains in the entire history of Star Trek. The Undiscovered Country is the last hooray of the original cast that started it all and they go out with a bang. Star Trek: The Next Generation had wonderful character arcs for Data, Worf and Captain Jean-Luc Picard, but any series that introduces villains like Q and the Borg into the universe is an instant classic. Then, in 2009, director J.J. Abrams, reset the continuity and launched Star Trek from the beginning with a whole new cast of young actors and updated the franchise for a whole new generation of fans. And he did it in a way that longtime fans could also get on board with it.
Star Trek has a lot of history and no matter what your Trek is, there is bound to be a Star Trek that fits your fancy.
04 – The Whedonverse – Joss Whedon is a third generation writer that got his start writing episodes of Rosanne. This imaginative genius turned the horror genre on its ear when he created Rhonda the Immortal Waitress. In most horror movies the beautiful young girl is chased down a dark alley by the big scary monster and preyed upon. Joss turned the tables and the girl actually turns out to be the thing the monsters are afraid of. A few rewrites later and we’ve come to know this creation as Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Angel is the vampire with a soul, and Buffy’s ex beau. Two-hundred years ago he was the worst of his kind to ever stalk the earth. Now, thanks to a gypsy curse that returned his conscience, Angel is one of the greatest champions for good in the Whedonverse.
Then there’s Firefly, Joss Whedon’s cowboys in outer space. Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a roguish natural born leader of men with a crooked smile and a quick draw, along with his motley crew of misfits fly from one side of the galaxy to the other trying to avoid the law of the Alliance or the deadly flesh-eating Reavers and looking for their next score. These are thieves with hearts of gold, but unlike Robin Hood and His Merry Men, they don’t rob from the rich and give to the poor. No, they beg, borrow, steal and take the occasional less than legal job in order to keep their vessel, Serenity, flying. I imagine that if the fans of Star Wars were able to ever follow Han Solo and Chewbacca around the galaxy during their smuggling days it would look a lot like Mal’s adventures on Firefly.
Just to prove that the Whedonverse has even more variety, Joss throws in Dollhouse and Dr. Horrible. The Doll House is a mysterious organization that provides operatives for any, and I mean any, situation. Using super science these operatives can have any skill, from fighting to driving to seduction downloaded into their brains. But there is far more to the Doll House than meets the eye as a conspiracy is slowly beginning to unravel and may reveal a terrible truth that could mean the end of the world. Dr. Horrible is a hapless super villain that just wants to get the girl and membership into the Evil League of Evil. But that dastardly pompous hero Captain Hammer is always standing in his way. So whether you want to slay vampires with Buffy and Angel, streak through the universe with space pirates aboard the Serenity, sing along with Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog or follow the high concepts of Dollhouse, the Whedonverse has something for you.
03 – Star Wars – “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” Cue the bombastic John Williams score and let the goose-bumps rise. What can I possibly say about Star Wars that hasn’t already been said? If Star Trek set the standard, Star Wars broke the mold. At first it was simply Star Wars. But later it became known as Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. To this day when I’m talking about the movies and I say “Star Wars” I’m talking about A New Hope. As a child of the seventies and eighties there was absolutely nothing, NOTHING, bigger than Star Wars. The magic, the adventure, the romance, it had it all. Huge space battles, a beautiful princess in distress, a rogue and his monstrous companion, an old wizard, robots, and a farm boy armed with a freaking laser sword – Star Wars had it all. I know it’s cliché to say that Star Wars was ahead of its time, but Star Wars was way ahead of its time. The special effects were mind-blowing. And like many great movies of this kind (Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Matrix), Star Wars inspired a whole generation of movie makers.
Some may argue that The Empire Strikes Back is the superior film. The first chapter of Return of the Jedi when our heroes are on Tatooine battling Jabba the Hutt is some of the greatest Star Wars stuff in the franchise. And even the prequels – The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith – have a young Obi-Wan Kenobi to hold them together. But for me, nothing will ever top the original movie that started it all. Star Wars also introduced one of the greatest movie and sci-fi villains in history in Darth Vader. From movies to cartoons, novels to comics, toys to artwork, nothing in this genre beats Star Wars.
02 – The DC Universe – This is the comic book universe that started it all. And when you cut it down to its bare essentials, DC Comics’ greatness can be traced back to one hero – Superman. Some may think Batman is cooler and other heroes like Green Lantern and Flash are more fun, but it is Superman that sets the standard for all other super heroes to follow. He was the first, making his debut in Action Comics #1 back in 1938, and to this day, Superman is the greatest super hero ever! There are a thousand reasons I can give you why the DCU is so great. Due to the constraints of space and time I am going to narrow it down to why I love the DCU. It all started back in 1985 with Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Up to this point my only exposure to DC Comics was Superman, New Teen Titans, and the Super Friends cartoons. Crisis revealed this whole new world of heroes and villains and did it in the biggest, loudest way possible. I came to the Crisis because the creative team from New Teen Titans, Marv Wolfman and George Perez were doing the book. Boy, am I glad that I gave it a shot, because I entered the DCU right at the perfect time. Crisis on Infinite Earths reset the DCU and everything, for the most part, started over. So it was like I was on the ground floor. Titles like Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, SHAZAM The New Beginning, Justice League International, and Batman Year One allowed me to read the adventures of these fabulous characters as they grew and became what they are today. And I didn’t have to know 50 years of continuity that came before.
This chapter in the History of the DC Universe, the Post-Crisis DCU, ran from 1985 to 2005. It began with Crisis on Infinite Earths and culminated with the instant classic Infinite Crisis. Just think about all the fantastic comics history that occurred during that time – Darkseid’s diabolical scheme in Legends; the death of Jason Todd (Robin II); the Death of Superman; Bane breaking Batman’s back; Hal Jordan’s fall from grace; Zero Hour; Final Night, Grant Morrison’s JLA; the eye-opening and shocking events of Identity Crisis; the Countdown to Infinite Crisis with Day of Vengeance, The Rann/Thanagar War; the OMAC Project, and the Villains United. Just to mention a few things. It was 20 years of fantastic action/adventure and drama. And with the launch of The New 52, here’s to another 20 great years.
01 – The Marvel Universe – Every comic is somebody’s first comic and for me the very first comic I can remember thumbing through is Amazing Spider-Man #157. From the cliffhanger cover to the harrowing Spidey face-off with Doctor Octopus, I was hooked for life. The House of Ideas has the best playground of any World of Imagination. From Avengers Mansion in downtown New York City to Aunt May’s humble abode in Queens, from the Savage Land to Asteroid M, from Asgard to the Negative Zone, from Atlantis to the Kree Empire – the Marvel Universe is a place where anything can happen, and usually does.
The Marvel heroes have always been the more relatable in the super hero genre. Unlike the modern god-like heroes of the completion that watch the Earth below from their orbiting satellite high above it all, the Marvel heroes are seemingly everyday people with everyday concerns, and often with frailties. Peter Parker works hard to make ends meet and moonlights as the super hero Spider-Man. But the local newspaper has tagged him as a menace and if his ailing Aunt were to ever discover his secret it could prove fatal for her. Bruce Banner is a mild mannered scientist but when he becomes angry he turns into a 7-foot tall rage monster called the Hulk. Steve Rogers was the greatest hero of World War II, but in modern times Captain America struggles to find his place and struggles with the guilt over the death of his wartime partner, Bucky. Ben Grimm, after a cosmic accident suddenly finds himself trapped in the body of a monster people call the Thing. Matt Murdock was blinded as a child but his other senses were enhanced to superhuman levels and now he fights crime by day as a lawyer and by night as the masked vigilante Daredevil. Norrin Radd, in order to save his homeworld, gave up his humanity and became the Silver Surfer, the Herald of Galactus. But when he intervened on behalf of humanity, the Devourer of Worlds exiled him to planet Earth, forever keeping him from the stars and his beloved Shalla Bal. Thor, the mighty Norse god of thunder resides in the frail body of a crippled doctor named Donald Blake. The students of Xavier’s School for the Gifted defend mankind against the forces of evil as X-Men, even though society hates and fears them for being mutants. And these examples are only the beginnings of what would become the Marvel Universe.
Pathos! Pathos! Pathos! That is what sets the House of Ideas apart from the rest. I could tell you about this Big Event or that fantastic story but when it is all said and done, what makes the Marvel Universe the best there is at what they do is the characters. From the heroes to the villains to the best supporting casts in comics it has always been, and hopefully always be, the characters that are the driving force behind Marvel’s greatness.
Whatever your taste, whether you want to roam the red sands of Mars with John Carter, outsmart the vile agents of SPECTRE with 007, or reload The Matrix, the Odinson wishes you nothing but joy and happiness and have a very Merry Christmas.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
December 16, 2011 · No Comments
Greetings from the Odinson,
Do you remember the first time you ever read a book? Or, the first time you picked up a comic book? Listened to music? Or, watched a movie? All these mediums are gateways to worlds undreamed of, places that stimulate the imagination and excite the synapses of your mind. These are worlds of high adventure, passionate romance, and lurking danger. These are the Worlds of Imagination. Places like Wonderland where a young girls escalating journey through unbelievable landscapes and interactions with insanely mischievous characters leave her and the reader in stunned contemplation. How about the Land of Oz, where a lost child searching for a way home can befriend a brainless scarecrow, a heartless tin woodsman, and a cowardly lion? And who could possibly forget the wonder and danger of Middle-Earth, a land of might and magic where trees walk and even the smallest person can make a difference.
It’s now Christmas time in the world and the Holiday Season is a time of joy and happiness. As most people take vacation, television shows are on hiatus, and most of your Christmas shopping is behind you, it is also a time when some may find themselves with a lot of quiet time to fill. Whether with a book, comic, or DVD, this is the perfect time to visit a World of Imagination.
The Odinson’s Top 10 Worlds of Imagination: Part 1
10 – The View Askewniverse – Kevin Smith is a modern day renaissance man. As a writer, director, producer, public speaker, husband and father, Smith has lived the fanboy dream. He made a world for fanboys inhabited by fanboys, and that magical little kingdom is lovingly referred to as the View Askewniverse. It’s in this landscape that Generation X really gets a chance to shine. Here Clerks sit around clock-watching and debate the moral and deadly consequences of an independent contractor’s decision to work on the uncompleted Death Star in Return of the Jedi. Mallrats plot to topple a local villain and his terrible rip off game show. A bleeding heart comic book artist spends his days and nights Chasing Amy. Two rogue angels threaten the very foundation of religious Dogma. And, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. If you’re in the mood for witty, funny dialogue, relatable characters, and a world that is not that far removed from our own, then pay a visit to New Jersey and enjoy the 18-year old and older hijinks of the View Askewniverse.
09 – G.I. Joe/Transformers – Enter a world where things are more than meets the eye. A world where a group of brave elite soldiers fight for truth, justice and the American way against a diabolical terrorist organization determined to rule the world. The centuries old war of the Transformers, giant shape-changing robots from a far off world, has spilled over and planet Earth has become the frontlines. Mighty Optimus Prime, leader of the brave Autobots, struggles to stop the tyrannical Megatron and his vile militaristic Decepticons from draining Earth’s resources and destroying mankind. Meanwhile, General Hawk, Duke, Snake Eyes and the rest of GI Joe struggle to keep democracy free against the side-winding tactics of Cobra Commander, Destro, Major Bludd and the villains of Cobra. It’s GI Joe vs. Cobra, the Autobots vs. the Decepticons, and the winners in it all are the fanboys and girls. Yo, Joe!
08 – The Worlds of Blizzard – This is a realm where you can pick your poison. In the fantasy setting of World of Warcraft, choose a race – human, orc, elf, dwarf, or gnome – and explore the ever expanding world of Azeroth. Here you can help defend the realm from the invading hordes of the Burning Legion, topple the mighty Lich King, and try to survive the Cataclysmic return of the great wyrm – Deathwing the Destroyer. Or, rocket into outer space and join the three-way struggle for universal dominance in Starcraft. As the human terran race, use your armored space marines, tactical command centers and mighty mech to defend mankind against the Swarm. The Swarm, or zerg, is a vast hive mind insect-like race of monsters that spreads out across the galaxy and infests the landscape and fauna with their essence, assimilating all in their path. The zerg are a cross between the Xenomorphs from Aliens and the Arachnids of Starship Troopers. Very scary. Then there are the religious fanatics, the Protoss. The Toss, with their super technology, mighty war machines, and psychic powers, are a true force to be reckoned with and they will stop at nothing to wipe the zerg from the universe, even if it means eradicating all terran life to do it. It’s a three-way brawl for universal survival and you have a front row seat.
07 – The Hyborian Age – “… between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of…Hither came Conan the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.” – Robert E. Howard, "The Phoenix on the Sword"
Before The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, there was Conan. Robert E. Howard, the godfather of modern fantasy, created a vivid world of danger, romance, and high adventure. His greatest creation was the barbaric hero Conan (described above far better than I could ever dare try). Conan traveled this ancient world of myth and magic from one coast to the other on his long journey to becoming a king by his own hand. Conan is the mightiest warrior of this genre and to this day his legendary exploits are cheered. Within this ancient realm there are other heroes from different time periods – Red Sonja, Kull of Atlantis, Bran Mak Morn – but none shine as bright or swing the sword quite like Robert E. Howard’s mighty Cimmerian. Whether it’s battling pirates, monsters, demon-gods, or sinister sorcerers, Conan conquers all who stand in his way. It is Howard’s world of Hyboria (along with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings) that set the stage for Dungeons and Dragons to follow.
06 – The Forgotten Realms – Set in the magical world of Dungeons and Dragons, the Forgotten Realms made its triumphant debut in 1987 and has only grown bigger and better everyday since. From Calimport up the Sword Coast to Luskan the City of Sails, from Icewind Dale to Waterdeep the City of Splendors, the Realms is a place where anything can happen, and does. There was a Time of Troubles when gods fell from the heavens and walked the earth and magic flared out of control. There’s Elminster, a seemingly immortal old sage that roams the Realms and aids heroes and travelers along their paths. Baldur’s Gate 1&2, set in the Forgotten Realms in the aftermath of the Time of Troubles, are, to this day, my all time favorite fantasy computer games. And The Pool of Radiance brings back nostalgic memories of my Commodore 64.
The Forgotten Realms also just so happens to be the home of the Odinson’s all time favorite fantasy hero – Drizzt Do’Urden. Drizzt is an anomaly. Born a dark elf, a race of malevolent evildoers, this noble warrior shed the evil ways of his treacherous kin and left the Underdark behind to reside in the surface world. Here though he deals with the prejudice of those that fear and hate him simply for the color of his skin. He has fought long and hard and is now actually considered across Faerun to be one of the Realms’ greatest heroes. With his whirling twin scimitars, his celestial black panther and the Companions of Mithral Hall at his side, there is no foe Drizzt cannot conquer. Created by R.A. Salvatore, Drizzt made his debut in The Crystal Shard, the Odinson’s all time favorite book, and has gone on to star in more than twenty novels, a comic series and made memorable cameos in the Baldur’s Gate computer games. How this character has not been turned into a movie yet is beyond me.
So during the down time of this Holiday Season, be sure to visit your favorite Worlds of Imagination and be sure to check back in next week when the Odinson rounds out his list with a trek through the final frontier, a town on top of a Hellmouth, a galaxy far, far away, the original comics universe, and the House of Ideas.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
December 09, 2011 · No Comments
Greetings from the Odinson,
Recently Marvel made a Big Announcement. The House of Ideas is going to settle the argument about who is the mightiest super team in the Marvel Universe once and for all, and they are going to do it with a mega event titled AVENGERS VS. X-MEN. There are so many aspects about this announcement that get the Odinson excited it’s hard to know where to begin.
It all starts this December in the pages of Avengers: X-Sanction. The super human freedom fighter Cable comes back from the future to present time in order to stop a major catastrophe involving the Avengers. And as Marvel fans know, this man of tomorrow is not going to let a little thing like Earth’s Mightiest Heroes stop him from accomplishing his mission. What event could possibly cause a man inspired by the Avengers to want to dismantle them? Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this one out. Just pick up Marvel Point One, a 1-shot setting up next year’s major plot points, and you will see the return of arguably the greatest threat/miracle the Marvel Universe has ever known – the Phoenix Force. The issue also includes a 2-page ad depicting a fiery bird with the ominous warning “It’s coming.” So the Phoenix Force is headed for Earth and you can imagine this would make the heroes of our planet a bit nervous. So, decisions are made, a line is drawn in the sand, and the battle is joined, as the Children of the Atom face off with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to decide the fate of mankind. I’m getting giddy just writing those words down.
Now this isn’t the first time these mutant heroes and Marvel’s premiere super team have butted heads. Way back in Uncanny X-Men #9 the Avengers arrive to take down the villainous Lucifer, but if they succeed the world is doomed and the only ones that can stop them from making this mistake are the students of Xavier’s School for the Gifted. In Avengers (1963-1996 1st Series) #53, a misunderstanding sets these two mighty teams against each other yet again. Back in the 80s, during Marvel’s 25th Anniversary celebration, back when Wolverine still walked around with a chip on his shoulder bigger than the Hulk’s, Wolverine and Captain America traded blows (see Captain America Annual #8). But things really got heated between the Avengers and X-Men in the now classic X-Men vs. Avengers. The X-Men were harboring Magneto, a known terrorist, and the Avengers set out to bring him to justice. Throw the Soviet Super Soldiers into the mix and let the fun begin!
The difference between these previous encounters, and most hero vs. hero throw downs for that matter, is that while all these battles usually ended in the obligatory stalemate with both sides working together in the end, AVENGERS VS. X-MEN will have a decisive winner. So once and for all the world will know who would win if the X-Men and the Avengers battled for the heavyweight championship belt. This is absolutely one area where Marvel really has it over on DC. There is a legitimate debate between who is mightier, the X-Men or Avengers? In the DCU, there’s the Justice League and everyone else. The Teen Titans certainly aren’t a challenge to the JLA’s premiere status. Who else? The Outsiders, Doom Patrol, the Secret Six? Give me a break. Superman could defeat all those teams single-handedly. I could possibly make a case for JLA vs. the Legion of Super-Heroes, but that would just involve a lot of time travel and that’s just a headache all its own. So nobody debates the Justice League’s place in the DCU. But there seems to be a real split amongst Marvel fans who is the strongest super team in their universe is – the Avengers or the X-Men.
Well, my friends, we are finally about to find out.
Now before I go on, let me address the question “why are super heroes fighting super heroes?” I am one who thinks heroes shouldn’t fight heroes, but it doesn’t stop me from enjoying the drama. These are age old questions that have been asked for centuries. Who is stronger – Hercules or Samson? Who would win? Achilles vs. Hector. Human Torch vs. Sub-Mariner. Hulk vs. Thing. These are the debates that have driven countless conversations between fanboys and girls since the beginning. And I, for one, am excited to finally have the debate settled.
Heavyweight fights are all about the match ups and this one provides so many delicious recipes. Along with their many other recently acquired assets (Danger, Namor, and the Colossus/Juggernaut hybrid), the X-Men also have (pardon the pun) a huge X-Factor in Magneto. This guy is easily one of the most powerful beings to ever walk the earth. Anyone that can single-handedly defeat Proteus in battle is promoted to instant Alpha Class. And with the mighty Thor apparently pushing up daisies right now, I just don’t know who the Avengers have that can counter what the Master of Magnetism brings to the table. They will have to come up with something since a lot of their assets (Iron Man’s armor, Cap’s shield, Thor’s hammer, Hawkeye’s arrows, etc.) are made of metal. Iron Man did one time produce a “de-magnetized” version of his armor (comic book logic at play once again) to take on Magneto in Avengers West Coast #60.
So right off the bat, the Avengers have two major obstacles to overcome – Magneto and the seemingly endless supply of telepaths the X-Men have. Physically Earth’s Mightiest Heroes can go toe-to-toe with anybody. They proved that in JLA/Avengers. But the X-Men bring an array of skills and power sets that are very different from the norm. However, the Avengers do have Doctor Strange the Sorcerer Supreme on their side and the X-Men don’t really have anything to counter that (No, Magik can’t beat the Master of the Mystic Arts).
Another delicious aspect of this match up is where will loyalties lie? Wolverine just had a big falling out with Cyclops in Schism. He’s an Avenger, but he was an X-Man for years and years before that. Throw in the fact that this tussle is about the return of the Phoenix Force and he is definitely a character to keep an eye on during this event. Storm, a perennial member of the X-Men, is now also a member of the Avengers and married to the Black Panther, a longtime Avenger and loyal friend to Captain America. How about a character like the Beast? This bouncing blue hero is just as easily identified with the Avengers as he is with the X-Men (Beast was a valued member of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes for most of the 70s and into the early 80s). And don’t forget that Magneto’s own children, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, will probably fall in line with their Avengers teammates. Drama!
Hands down the most interesting showdown I'm looking forward to is Captain America vs. Cyclops. Cap has a way to block Scott's power but Scott can also block Cap's shield throw with his power. It will be so fun watching these two strategic masterminds go at it. I just don’t understand why there always seems to be friction between these two. I envision a future where we see Steve and Scott meeting once a month for a game of chess and discussing strategies on how to take down Doctor Doom and the Brood. Here’s a question. Cyclops’ power is force and Cap’s shield absorbs kinetic energy (it’s made of vibranium). If Cyclops blasts Cap’s shield and then Cap throws it, would his shield hit with the force of Thor’s hammer? I don’t know if this comic book logic adds up, but that would be a cool scenario.
AVENGERS VS. X-MEN is going to be 12 issues released bi-weekly. One of the best features about this event as compared to others is that it will be contained in the main series and only encompass the X-Men and Avengers titles. So a fan does not have to buy 20 comics each week in order to follow the story. On Marvel’s website there is a wonderful 40-minute interview with a round table of the writers and editors responsible for this event (check it out HERE). Speaking of which, the creative team assembled for this book is incredible. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Jason Aaron, Jonathan Hickman, Ed Brubaker, and Matt Fraction and with art by John Romita Jr., Olivier Coipel and Adam Kubert, AVENGERS VS. X-MEN promises to be something really special.
Anyone who knows me or has followed my columns for any length of time obviously knows on which side the Odinson’s loyalties are going to fall when this goes down. Captain America and Thor are my all time favorite heroes and the Avengers is my all time favorite comic book. Before I go, I’m going to leave you with a list of recommended reading to prepare yourself for this coming event. You will not have to read these in order to enjoy the story but as a longtime Marvel fan, I know these will provide some wonderful back story leading into AVENGERS VS. X-MEN.
Oh, one more thing…
The Odinson’s Recommended Reading before AVENGERS VS. X-MEN hits stands in April:
X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga
Uncanny X-Men #150 and 200
X-Men vs. Avengers
House of M
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade
Marvel Point One
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
December 02, 2011 · 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).
For the person who loves Spider-Man: Amazing Spider-Man: Brand New Day
For the person who loves Batman: Batman Hush HC (Absolute Edition)
For the person who loves Superman: Superman Secret Origin HC (Deluxe Edition)
For the person who loves Captain America: Captain America Operation Rebirth TPB (Deluxe Edition)
For the person who loves the Mighty Thor: Thor by J. Michael Straczynski
For the person who loves Aliens: Aliens Omnibus
For the person who loves the Predator: Predator Omnibus
For the person who loves Aliens against Predators: Aliens vs. Predator Omnibus
For the Buffy fan: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus
For the Joss Whedon fan: The Write Environment with Joss Whedon
For the person who misses the Sunday classics: Sundays with Walt and Skeezix HC
For the adult superhero fan: Watchmen TPB
For the person who loves Stephen King: Stephen King’s The Stand
For that person the loves Stephen King and Vampires: American Vampire
For the person who wants to celebrate the Holidays with their heroes: JSA #54 and DC Universe Christmas TPB
For the person who likes to mix their Big Events with Christmas: DCU Infinite Holiday Special
For the person who doesn’t miss an episode of CSI: CSI Omnibus
For the person who loves baseball: Heroes of the Negro Leagues
For the person who wants to see a little boy get his Christmas even in the middle of the Apocalypse: Last Christmas TPB
For that PC gamer on a never-ending quest to explore the world of Azeroth: Word of Warcraft HC
For the WOW fan that can’t decide who’d win between a Hunter and a Mohawk Nightelf: Chuck Norris vs. Mr. T
For that terran struggling against the protoss and fighting to keep the galaxy safe from zerg infestation: Starcraft HC
For the person that remembers collecting “Tumblers”: Collectible Glass Tumblers/Cups
For the rebellious teen that just wants to rock out and get the girl: Scott Pilgrim
For the person that wants to see Santa kick a little butt: Santa the Barbarian
For the person that wants to see Santa get what’s coming to him: Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special
For the person that can’t get enough of that galaxy far, far away: Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia (Slipcase Set)
For the person that wants to be a Jedi Knight: Star Wars: Lightsabers
For the person that wants to settle the argument once and for all: Star Wars: Head to Head
For the person that loves comics history: 75 Years of DC Comics HC
For the person that loves comics history and DVDs: Secret Origin The Story of DC Comics DVD
For the fanboys and fangirls that loves flare: Collector Buttons/Fanboy Flare
For the person that wants to keep their lunch safe from bullies: Collectible Lunch Boxes
For the person who wants to see the Hulk smash, even during the Holidays: Incredible Hulk #378
For the Robert E. Howard fan: Best of Robert E. Howard HC (Limited Edition)
For the fan of kung fu: The Immortal Iron Fist
For the fan of super-sized kung fu: Dragon Ball Z TPB (VizBig Edition)
For the person who loves the classics: A Christmas Carol
For the ultimate zombie fan: Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks GN
And, finally -
For the hopeless romantic: Archie Marries Betty/Veronica: 70 Years in the Making
Merry Christmas, from the Odinson.