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