Greetings from the Odinson,
When it comes to entertainment, right now, comic book fans are really living in a Golden Age. TV shows and movies we could only dream about twenty years ago are now becoming reality. As a child of the eighties, the Odinson will always (and with good reason) tout that decade as the greatest explosion of imagination of all time (more on that at a future date). But present day is making a good run at the title.
From Batman Begins to Iron Man, comic books are making a splash on the Big Screen. From the good (Thor) to the bad (Wanted) to the ugly (Kick Ass), comic book movies are drawing in the audiences, and with films like The Avengers, Amazing Spider-Man, The Dark Knight Rises, and Man of Steel still to come, they are showing no signs of slowing down. This past week, I finally got around to watching X-Men: First Class. I have never been a huge X-Men fan, and the fact that this project was straying away from comic continuity (i.e., Beast and Havok being contemporaries of Xavier and Magneto) didn’t help its case. But I went into it with an open mind and to my surprise found myself really enjoying the film. I really love the way the movie portrayed the Beast. His look, both human and blue-furred, was spectacular. They really captured that character for me. When I read the comics, that’s how I envision the Beast. Plus, a certain cigar-chomping mutant’s cameo was priceless.
But the Big Screen isn’t the only area where fanboys and girls are being treated to some gold. The Small Screen is really stepping up to the plate and producing some really great shows. The Walking Dead is absolutely riveting television. It stays true and close enough to the source material so as not to upset the apple cart, but at the same time adds its own elements and surprises to keep the viewers on their toes. Such a great achievement, the show can be enjoyed by those that have never read the comics and by longtime fans that have been on board since Walking Dead #1 was released back in 2003. The best thing about the show is the people. It’s the end of the world and how these normal people, not super heroes, but average everyday people deal with it and interact with each other is the driving force behind the series. Pathos and drama are words I would use to describe this show. Oh yeah, and there are zombies as well. If a show can make the viewer audibly gasp once in a season, then it has done its job. From the mid-season finale to the final three episodes of Season 2, The Walking Dead has delivered shocking moment after shocking moment. Just like the graphic novel it’s based on, it allows you to catch your breath and feel safe, but just for a moment before all hell breaks loose.
Another example of fantastic television is the HBO series Game of Thrones. To say that I like this show would be an extreme understatement. I had heard about it for sure, but I had yet to actually watch an episode, that was until last weekend. I had a day to kill, so around 10:30 AM I pulled up On Demand and watched the first episode, then proceeded for the next ten hours to watch the entire first season in one sitting. The show was absolutely amazing. Game of Thrones is based on the novel by the same name and is the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire novel series. Set in a fantasy world where summer can last years and winter can last for a life time, Thrones is about seven kingdoms vying for position and control. Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell is asked by King Roberts, his longtime friend and ally, to come back to the capital Kings’ Landing and serve as the King’s Right Hand. Reluctantly Stark agrees, but a series of tragedies and betrayals besiege him and his family as the story unfolds. Meanwhile, across the sea, a white-haired disenfranchised prince and his beautiful sister have allied with a barbarian horde and threaten war with King’s Landing and the Seven Kingdoms. But even more ominous is the unseen threat which begins to gather to the far north beyond the great Wall. An ancient evil is stirring and it has the Night Watch nervous. The Night Watch is an order of rangers stationed at the Wall to protect the Seven Kingdoms from what lies beyond. Again the driving force for this series is the characters and their interaction with each other. The acting is top notch and, like The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones really keeps the viewer on his toes. Dynamite Entertainment has even begun a graphic novel adaptation of Game of Thrones. If you haven’t seen this show yet, do yourself a favor and pick up the DVDs or pull it up on your On Demand. You will not be sorry. It’s like watching a live action Dungeons and Dragons show, for adults.
I’ve never been a cop show or courtroom drama person so shows like Bones and CSI have never been my cup of tea, but I will go on record and say that The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones are two of the best television dramas of the last twenty years. They now have a place on the list next to other must see shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Doctor Who and Twin Peaks. Watching the Game of Thrones has made me want to read the A Song of Ice and Fire novel series, so I picked up the first book and I’m ready to dive in. The second season of Thrones starts in April. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
Entries for month: March 2012
March 30, 2012 · No Comments
Greetings from the Odinson,
March 23, 2012 · 1 Comment
Greetings from the Odinson,
Thursday March 22 was the Odinson’s birthday, another year older, if not wiser. Interesting thing about my birthday is that on March 22, 1976 shooting began on what would become my all time favorite movie – Star Wars. That by itself would make my birthday awesome, but even cooler is the fact that on March 22, 1931, Mr. William Shatner was born. That’s right, ladies and gentleman, the Odinson shares a birthday with none other than Captain Kirk himself. I also share a birthday with actress Reese Witherspoon and legendary western writer Louis L’Amour. These are just some interesting facts about the day I was born. Now on to some other things…
The latest mega event at Marvel, AVX, got me thinking about the City of New York. In the Marvel Universe, 90% of the world’s super hero population seems to live in and around New York City. You would think that would make the Big Apple the safest place in the world to be. I suggest the complete opposite. With all the huge building-demolishing super battles that go down in the streets of New York, I’m surprised that there is anyone brave enough to still call that little stretch of land their home.
Just sticking to recent events only - New York City has been almost completely destroyed no less than five times in recent events. What makes this even more amazing is the difference in real time elapsing vs. comic book time. We all know that a decade of real word time does not reflect a decade worth of comic book time. If it did, then Peter Parker would be an old man. I guesstimate, using Peter Parker’s estimated age of being around 33 (see the NOTE below to see how I estimate Parker’s age), that a decade of real time equals roughly 3 years worth of comic book time.
That being said, how in the world is there still a New York City left standing in the midst of a tumultuous Marvel Universe? In 2006, the super heroes of Earth waged a Civil War that decimated half of downtown. Skyscrapers trembled and fell to the ground, victims of the power being unleashed in the streets of the city. But that devastation was nothing compared to what came next. In 2007, World War Hulk engulfed the City of New York. The Incredible Hulk had returned from his exile to the furthest reaches of outer space, and he was not happy. He was madder and stronger than ever and the wanton destruction he unleashed was mind-blowing. Whole city blocks crumbled before his might as he battled against those that betrayed him. Just one year later (real time), in 2008, the heroes and villains of Earth waged war with an invading horde of Super –Skrulls in middle of downtown Manhattan and halted their Secret Invasion, but not without some heavy property damage. Then, in 2011, Fear Itself engulfed the planet and though chaos reigned around the globe, no city on Earth was hit harder than New York City, as Sin, the new Red Skull, unleashed her neo Nazi war machines on the populace and even Avengers Tower came crashing down. And only a few short months later, in Fantastic Four #600-604, the Forever storyline sees a full-on war between the Kree Armada and the Annihilation Wave right over the streets of New York City. Throw in Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and a cosmic brawl between Galactus and the nigh omnipotent Celestials, and I’m surprised there’s a building left standing in the streets of New York.
From 2006 to 2012, that’s 6 years of real time gone by, meaning 2 years of comic book time has elapsed. So in 2 years, the Big Apple has been nearly utterly demolished not once, not twice, but no less than five times, and these are just the times I can think of off the top of my head. I’m not even including your run-of-the-mill Avengers brawl with Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers. Yet at the beginning of every issue of a new major event or storyline, there’s the Big Apple, all shiny and new. Buildings erected and undamaged as if nothing ever happened. In the real world, it takes about 1-2 years to build one skyscraper. In the Marvel Universe, whole city blocks are being destroyed every six months (comic book time).
First, why would anyone ever live in the Marvel Universe New York City? And second, how in the world does this magnificent cityscape keep getting rebuilt in time for the next Kree invasion? The answer to the first question is simple, New Yorkers have seen it all, and they are a hardy bunch. The answer to the second question has already been addressed by the House of Ideas. The answer is Damage Control. Damage Control is a special company that specializes in the repair and reconstruction necessary after a huge super hero/villain throw-down. They are the ones that put the city back together after every Marvel Big Event, and they do it with speed and efficiency.
So what have we learned here today? We’ve learned how to calculate real world and comic book time (see NOTE below). We’ve learned that New York City in the Marvel Universe is the most dangerous place to live. Despite that fact, and possibly because of it, that’s where most of the world’s super community calls home. We’ve learned that Damage Control is responsible for putting the Big Apple back together again after every Marvel Big Event brouhaha. And, we’ve learned that the Odinson shares a birthday with William “Captain Kirk” Shatner. I leave you now with a look at how I worked out my formula for determining real word to comic book time.
NOTE: In Amazing Spider-Man #185, Peter Parker graduated from college. This puts his age at around 22. That issue came out in 1978. Amazing Spider-Man #1 came out in 1963. That’s 15 years of real world time between issues. If we can all agree that in AMSM #1 Peter Parker was around 16-17 years old then that’s 5 years of comic book time elapsed (22 minus 17 = 5). So take 15 [years of real world time] and divide it by 5 [years of comic book time] and get 3. This signifies that for every 3 years of real time that elapses, 1 year of comic book time has elapsed. Next take 1978 (Peter’s graduation) and subtract it from 2012 (current real time date) and that’s 34 years of real time. Divide 34 by 3 and get roughly 11 years of comic book time. Add 11 to 22 (Peter’s estimated age in Amazing Spider-Man #185) and currently Peter Parker is 33 years old.
**NOTE: A little convoluted I know, but give me a break, I just made up that equation on the spot, and it’s as good an explanation of real world-to-comic book time as any. Though I will go on record as saying that Peter Parker will always be around 25 to me. But for the sake of this article, this is the equation I’m using.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
March 16, 2012 · 1 Comment
Greetings from the Odinson,
I just got through watching the Japanese trailer for the Avengers Movie, which includes even more spectacular scenes not seen in previous trailers. The Odinson is so stoked to see this movie. I am at once happy and sad, though. Happy that my all time favorite super hero team is being made into a live action movie (helmed by Joss Whedon no less), and sad that DC and Warner Bros. seem unable, or unwilling, to put together a Justice League movie. I grew up on the Super Friends cartoons and later thoroughly enjoyed the Justice League Unlimited animated series. Why is DC dragging their feet on this one? The time is now!
I get so fired up about the Avengers movie and the chance that there will one day be a JLA movie because these are my favorite kinds of stories. When a group of heroes must unite to stand against a common foe or accomplish a goal no single hero can take on alone, this is the subject of legends. In ancient times, Jason and the Argonauts, a group of heroes that included the Boreads brothers, Orpheus, Atalanta, and Hercules, ventured forth upon a harrowing quest to find the magical Golden Fleece. King Arthur and his valiant Knights of the Round Table, a group comprised of brave paladins like Gawain, Perceval, and Lancelot, brought peace to the land and protected the Kingdom of Camelot from the forces of darkness and quested for the Holy Grail. Robin Hood and His Merry Men, the outlaw heroes Little John, Will Scarlet, and Friar Tuck, defied a usurper to the throne of England and fought to restore justice to the land. These are the tales that inspire. And like the Argonauts, Knights of the Round Table, and the Merry Men, comics are full of brave men and women that come together for a common goal.
Team books are so much better than the single hero comics. You get more bang for your buck. Instead of just reading about Superman or Batman, why not pick up an issue of JLA and read about both heroes in the same story. That was the genius of comic book series like Marvel Team-Up and Marvel Two-In-One. Not only was the reader getting treated to an in continuity Spider-Man or Thing story, but the reader also got to see these popular characters interacting and teaming up with other heroes from around the Marvel Universe. Those two series went a long way in establishing a truly shared world in the Marvel Universe. A super hero team up is an event! Those are my favorite kinds of stories.
There are thousands of fantastic team stories out there to enjoy. Here are a few of my all time favorites.
WildC.A.T.s Opening Arc – Ah, back during that first magical year of Image super heroes. What an explosion of imagination and possibilities that was. And standing front and center was Jim Lee’s WildC.A.T.s. In WildC.A.T.s #1-4, a dark conspiracy is unfolding. A sinister evil is about to close its clawed fist around the world and enslave mankind forever. In this opening arc, a group of heroes comes together, some human, some alien, and some mutant hybrids of the two. They suddenly find themselves smack dab in the middle of a war that has been raging in the shadows for centuries and is now spilling over into the light of day. The U.S. government thinks the C.A.T.s are dangerous outlaws. So, this motley crew of heroes must try to stay one step ahead of their government pursuers and try to stop an alien warlord from unleashing hell on Earth. Man, that’s what reading comic books is all about.
Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes – The Legion is a team of super heroes in the 31st Century that are inspired by the heroic exploits of the Man of Steel. In this amazing tale by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, Superman is notified in present day Metropolis by a distress call from the future. The Last Son of Krypton ventures into the future where he finds the Legion scattered across the galaxy and on the run from a powerful new threat. And worse, he may be powerless to help. Geoff Johns’ writing here is superb and his characterizations of these heroes are dead on. In a cast this size it would be easy for these character’s to blend together and begin to sound the same, but Johns does a great job of making every character distinct. And Gary Frank is easily a Top 5 Superman artist of all time. Anyone that can give me the look of a Christopher Reeve Man of Steel and not make it look like a parody is aces.
Fantastic Four #242-244 – Oh, now this story is exactly what I’m talking about. There can be no greater threat to planet Earth than a creature known as the World Devourer. Terrax the Tamer, the devious Herald of Galactus, has turned on his master and lured the titan back to Earth. He forces a situation where the Fantastic Four must kill Galactus or allow their planet to be destroyed. Due to the actions of his treacherous Herald, Galactus has not fed for sometime and he is at his weakest. But even a weakened Galactus is more than a match for the FF alone. Enter Earth’s Mightiest Heroes! The Fantastic Four team up with the Avengers and Doctor Strange to stop Galactus from feeding on planet Earth. What follows is one of the mightiest displays of super heroic team work ever captured in four colors. This story also features the debut of Nova, a cosmic character that will go on to become quite important to the Silver Surfer in future stories. This is a stand out moment in John Byrne’s already amazing run on the FF and easily one of the Odinson’s favorite Galactus tales.
JLA: Rock of Ages – What can I possibly say about this epic tale by Grant Morrison and Howard Porter that I haven’t already said? JLA #10-15 is quite possibly the perfect comic book story. It all begins when the Injustice Gang, a cabal of the Justice League’s deadliest enemies, bushwhacks the League with evil doppelgangers of the heroes themselves. That by itself would be enough for any comic story, but Morrison has more up his sleeve. Lex Luthor has come into possession of the powerful artifact known as the Philosopher’s Stone, and with its power he and his cohorts will be unstoppable. What follows is a romp through space and time where the JLA meet gods, see the end of everything, and bare witness to a future where Darkseid rules the DCU with an iron fist. This tale just escalates and escalates until its inevitable climax and by the end of the story the reader is left breathless. Rock of Ages is just an amazing piece of fiction.
Avengers: Under Siege – Trying to pick my favorite Avengers story is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I guess putting down “All of Them” would just be a cop out. So, if I’m forced to make a decision then I’m going to have to go with Under Siege. Baron Zemo has assembled a new Masters of Evil, one more powerful than any incarnation that has come before it. They infiltrate Avengers Mansion and one-by-one Earth’s Mightiest Heroes fall before the villains united might. Mighty Hercules is drugged and beaten to within an inch of his life and left hanging by a thread in a coma. Captain America is captured and forced to watch as the sinister Mr. Hyde tortures poor Jarvis. Captain Marvel II (Photon) is trapped in a dark dimension and the Black Knight is soundly defeated. The only one left to stop these madmen is the Wasp. These are the moments that define a hero. When the Avengers are all but beaten and at their lowest point, the reader watches in amazement as these stalwart heroes fight back and ultimately win the day. This tale also sets up the future as the core members of Zemo’s Masters of Evil will go on to become the Thunderbolts.
New Teen Titans: Kidnapped – Man, like with the Avengers, trying to pick my favorite Teen titans tale is tough. The Judas Contract is definitely up there. As are stories featuring Trigon, Brother Blood, the Fearsome Five, Thunder and Lightning, and the Brotherhood of Evil. I could even make cases for Terra Incognito, Who is Donna Troy? and the Death of Trident. But if I could only read one Titans tale for the rest of my life it would have to be Kidnapped. This is the first time we are introduced to Starfire’s sinister sister, Blackfire. This adventure sends the Titans to the far side of the universe to fight a galactic civil war side-by-side with the Omega Men. This sci-fi epic is a tale of war, betrayal, redemption, and at its core a love story. This is the story where the Teen Titans stopped being just kid sidekicks and started to establish themselves as the next generation of heroes. Tales like this from the masters, Marv Wolfman and George Perez, are a huge reason why I am a comic fan to this day. I’m still waiting for the day when DC will give me a collected trade paperback edition of this magnificent yarn to put on my bookshelf.
Whether it’s in sports, at work, or in the realms of comic books, team work is important. From Jason and the Argonauts to the Teen Titans a group of people coming together and working toward the same goal can always accomplish more than an individual can. These are some of my favorite team stories. What are yours?
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
March 09, 2012 · 2 Comments
Greetings from the Odinson,
This week I want to try a little something different. Here’s an idea for a comic book series starring nothing but characters from the worlds of video games.
The Video Game League of Justice
Somewhere deep within the virtual reality that is the Gaming Multiverse, the techno-organic super computer known as Mother Brain comes back online. Its mechanical tentacles reach out and connect with the grid and the villainous A.I. almost chuckles as it makes a startling discovery. Through some unknown means, Mother Brain has now become aware of the Video Game Multiverse. And it is at this moment that Mother Brain decides it must rule them all.
But there remains a huge obstacle. Just like her own little corner of virtual reality, all outposts of the Video Game Multiverse are defended by so called heroes. And Mother Brain’s Space Pirates have proven ineffective against this sort of defense, so Mother Brain devises a plan. It calls forth other like-minded rogues to help it conquer the Video Game Multiverse. Mother Brain summons the demon sorcerer Shang Tsung, a shape-changer with powers both physical and mystical and an ambition that could challenge the gods themselves. Next, Mother Brain decides it will need a little muscle, so it calls forth the monstrous Bowser, the fire-breathing King of the Koopa and despot of the Mushroom Kingdom. If its plan to conquer the Video Game Multiverse is going to work, Mother Brain knows that it will need some weapons of mass destruction on its side, powerful allies with no qualms about dealing out maximum damage and orchestrating mass destruction. For this, Mother Brain calls forth Sephiroth, a genetically created madman with delusions of grandeur and super human powers with few rivals, and the mighty Lich King, a fallen hero with a heart as cold as ice and a legion of undead warriors under his command. And finally, to soften up other worlds for conquering, Mother Brain procures a sinister little invention known as the T-Virus.
Mother Brain’s cabal is assembled. The villain’s mechanical tentacles writhe with anticipation as its master plan begins to go into effect. The first order of business by this evil group is to eliminate the only ones that can stop them. One by one the greatest heroes of the Video Game Multiverse fall, as individually they are no match for the combined might of these villains. In the first wave of attacks Mario, Mega Man, Link, Liu Kang, Sonic, Samus Aran, and Ryu are all defeated and captured. Is this the end? Who could possibly challenge an assembly of video game evil like this? Princess Zelda decides to assemble a force for justice that can turn the tide. Across the Video Game Multiverse magical portals open and send forth a call to arms. Who will answer that call?
Ladd Spencer, the Bionic Commando, is a rescue specialist whose skills will come in handy when it comes time to free the captured heroes. The super ninja Joe Musashi brings his considerable martial arts skills and ninja black magic to the table. Simon Belmont has vast experience with dealing with monsters and armies of the undead and his mastery of the whip is second to none. Cloud Strife is a genetically enhanced super soldier whose mighty broadsword can topple the most powerful of foes. This team of heroes is going to need some Intel and a means of infiltrating the bad guys’ lair. That’s where Solid Snake comes in. He’s a master spy, experienced in black ops and counter espionage tactics. This team of heroes is also going to need some muscle, someone with some real power, and that someone is Kratos, a driven man on a quest for redemption and a man who possesses the power to challenge the gods themselves. Rounding out this team of video game heroes will be Jill Valentine, a member of S.T.A.R.S., a special task force for the Raccoon City Police Department, and an expert when it comes to dealing with the T-Virus and the Apocalyptic hell it can unleash. And finally, Lara Croft brings her vast knowledge of history, ancient legends and mystical artifacts as well as near super human agility and twin semi-automatic pistols to the table.
But who will lead this band of heroes into battle? There’s only one man for the job – Jim Raynor. Captain of the battlecruiser Hyperion and leader of the terran resistance Raynor’s Raiders, this grizzled war vet is a master strategist with a quick draw, and a man that won’t let anything stand in his way of doing what he knows is right. This is a man that inspires fierce loyalty in those that follow him into battle and earns the respect of even his most hated enemies.
Our heroes are assembled, but can even this team of brave men and women hope to overcome the diabolical machinations of the arch villains plotting against them?
Just imagine a story like this as written by Geoff Johns or Brian Michael Bendis with artwork by Joe Madureira or Jim Lee. Now that’s definitely a comic the Odinson would read.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
March 02, 2012 · 3 Comments
Greetings from the Odinson,
Everybody knows names like Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, and the Hulk. These heroes are icons with decades of entertaining readers and viewers with their super heroic exploits. Through comic strips, comic books, novels, cartoons, television shows, and movies, these heroes have kept the galaxy safe from all manner of threats. Teams like the Justice League, Avengers, Legion of Super-Heroes, and X-Men represent the greatest assembly of heroes and powerful forces for truth and justice. These are the best of the best. When it comes to super hero icons nobody has bigger icons then Marvel and DC. But they aren’t the only great super heroes that have been fighting the good fight.
Through the decades there have been other heroes that have heeded the call, and for brief periods of time shined as bright as any of the biggest stars from the Big Two. These are legends forged from the four corners of the universe, legends, for one reason or another that just did not have the staying power of their Marvel and DC contemporaries. But this does not make their mighty exploits any less spectacular. Nor does it make their creation anything less inspired.
1960s – In the ‘60s the Marvel Age exploded onto the scene and, much like Superman and Batman did in the Golden Age, inspired a slew of fantastic super hero creations to follow. Next to the House of Ideas the best treasure trove of heroes at this time and the coolest playground in the super hero medium had to be at Hanna-Barbera. And head and shoulders above them all had to be none other than Space Ghost. Space Ghost is an intergalactic police officer with super human abilities that allow him to take on the deadliest alien villains in the galaxy. He can fly, has super strength, can turn invisible, and has power bands that give him all sorts of energy-based powers. Plus, he rides around in a super cool space ship with cloaking abilities. Sadly, most of today’s youth probably only know him from his funny talk show spoof Space Ghost: Coast to Coast. Back in the day, Space Ghost was the greatest super hero of his universe, but he wasn’t the only cool cat defending justice in the Hanna-Barbera U.
This universe was full brave men and women with extraordinary powers and abilities far beyond those of ordinary people. Birdman is a winged crusader powered by the sun and accompanied by his ever faithful super eagle Avenger. The Galaxy Trio, Vapor Man, Meteor Man and Gravity Girl, are a group of alien superheroes gathered together by Galactic Patrol to keep the peace in their sector of space. There was Shazzan, a powerful genie that uses his vast magical abilities to help his mortal friends solve crimes and combat tyranny. There was the super strong Neanderthal, Mightor, a brave hero that protects his fellow cavemen from the perils of a prehistoric world. And then there were, next to Space Ghost, my personal favorites, the Herculoids. On an alien world constantly being contested by threats from beyond the stars, the Herculoids were the first and last line of defense. Led by their Ka-Zar-like leader Zandor, the Herculoids were comprised of Zandor’s wife Tara, his son Dorno, the powerful dragon Zok, the mighty rock ape Igoo, the many-legged dinosaur Tundro, and the gelatinous duo of Gloop and Gleep. Together the Herculoids fought all manner of threats, from invading alien hordes to prehistoric monsters of enormous power, and they made quite a reputation for themselves across the galaxy. The Herculoids have been known to team up with Space Ghost from time to time when the emergency called for it.
Space Ghost, Birdman, the Galaxy Trio, Shazzan, and the Herculoids are a group of mighty heroes that stack up against any other group in all of comicdom. How these characters are not flourishing today or getting the revamp treatment is beyond me.
1970s – During the Bronze Age of Comics, Marvel’s Horror Comics were dominating the shelves, Jack Kirby was introducing the New Gods to the DCU, and the Star Wars phenomenon was born. But on the small screen, viewers were introduced to one of the coolest sci-fi/super hero shows of all time – Battle of the Planets! Adapted from a Japanese animated series called Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, BotP features the team of heroes known as G-Force. Mark the leader, Jason the bad boy demolitionist, the beautiful Princess, the diminutive Keyop, and Tiny, the husky pilot, use their super human abilities and vehicles to defend planet Earth from the evil alien forces of Spectra.
Each member of the team represents a member from the bird family – eagle, condor, swan, swallow and owl. Their specially designed costumes give the ability to glide through the air. And their superb martial arts skills allow them take on many adversaries at the same time. Even though BotP was edited for American audiences (for violence and language) this show was still ahead of its time for an animated show for kids. It had drama and pathos and powerful character driven stories. There have been brief revisits, the most notable being the comic series featuring amazing covers by Alex Ross, but this franchise has not had the re-boot it so deservedly needs. Like the Hanna-Barbera characters of the ‘60s, Battle of the Planets would make an outstanding addition to the modern comic racks.
1980s – The ‘80s overflowed with creative goodness. At Marvel and DC we saw the birth of the Big Event with titles like Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars and Crisis on Infinite Earths. And from He-Man to GI Joe to Transformers and everything in-between, there were dozens and dozens of properties producing iconic heroes for the decade. So I’ll just narrow it down to one, and that property is the Thundercats. Among a sea of fantastic heroes the Thundercats stood out. Perhaps it was the archetypal origin story of tragedy and triumph that lured us in. Or perhaps it was the animation and artwork that was just a step above your average ‘80s cartoon. Whatever the case may be, Thundercats was clearly an all time great.
When their homeworld of Thundera is destroyed, a small band of survivors make their way across the cosmos and crash-land on the seemingly paradise world of Third Earth. But it isn’t long before they realize they are not alone. A young Thundercat by the name of Lion-O would have to learn on the fly to become a leader if his people were to survive. Armed with the powerful magic Sword of Omens and together with the super fast Cheetara, the super strong Panthro, the stealthy Tygra, the mischievous twins WilyKit and WilyKat, his diminutive friend Snarf, and under the guidance of the ghost of his deceased mentor Jagga, Lion-O sets out to make a new life for his people in this brave new world.
But many dangers lie in wait. The evil Mutants of Plun-Darr, the Thundercats sworn enemies, have followed them to Third Earth. Also the Thundercats would have to defend themselves against the malevolent machinations of the cyborg pirates Hammerhand and the Berserkers, the renegade Thundercat Grune, the glory seeking Demolisher, the subterranean villain the Mole Master, the fear demon Mongor, and many, many others. But nobody posed as great a threat to the Thundercats as the mighty ogre-mage Mumm-Ra, the Ever-Living.
These feline heroes have made several comebacks in the comics, but have yet to make the same impact they did in the late ‘80s. Maybe with the debut of their new updated cartoon a Thundercats resurgence could be on the horizon.
1990s – Without a doubt, the non Marvel/DC heavyweight champion of this decade has to be the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. This franchise spawned several movies, countless toys, magazines, and a television series that started in 1992 and in some form another has run to this very day. Much like Battle of the Planets and Robotech before it, Power Rangers adapted a Japanese property for American audiences, using footage from the original show and editing it with scenes played by American actors.
From Lost Galaxy to Ninja Storm to Operation Overdrive, there are so many different incarnations of the Power Rangers, so I’ll just concentrate on the one I know best – the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Five teenagers are given super powers and super weapons of mass destruction to defend our world against the mutant and monster hordes of Rita Repulsa and her consort, Lord Zedd. They fight these tyrants using martial arts and courage. But when a challenge arises that is too big for them to handle they call on the Zords, massive robots in the shapes of dinosaurs. The Zords can come together and transform into the Megazord, the most powerful force for good in the universe. Take elements of Voltron, G-Force, The Mighty Or-Bots, and Ultraman, toss them all into a blender and what comes out is Power Rangers. Though coated with plenty layers of cheese, it cannot be denied that the Power Rangers are thoroughly entertaining.
I for one can’t see how these properties, especially the Hanna-Barbera Heroes from the ‘60s and G-Force, are not top sellers to this day. But then again, I don’t get the popularity of Deadpool either.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell