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Entries Tagged as Comics

The Odinson’s To 10 Marvel Monarchs

June 19, 2015 · No Comments

Greetings from the Odinson,

 

This week, the Odinson will explore the regal realm of the Marvel U’s Ruling Class.

 

From the Savage Land to the Blue Area on the Moon, the Marvel landscape is an eclectic and dangerous place to live.  So, it takes a special kind of person to guide the people of this land through the harrowing trials and tribulations of this turbulent world.  Just who are these rulers of men, these sovereigns of nations, these leaders of the world?  Who are these Marvel Monarchs?   

 

The Odinson’s To 10 Marvel Monarchs

 

10 - The Shi’ar Empire – The Shi’ar monarchy is perhaps the most complicated in all the Marvel Universe.  When we are introduced to this powerful alien empire in the pages of Uncanny X-Men, they are ruled by the iron-fisted and quite mad Emperor D’Ken.  However, with the help of Marvel’s Merry Mutants, D’Ken’s sister and Professor X’s consort, the beautiful Lilandra, dethrones the madman and seizes control of the empire.  For many years the Shi’ar have proven to be strong allies of the heroes of earth.  However, the powerful mutant Vulcan orchestrated The Fall of the Shi’ar Empire and declared himself ruler.  This led to the War of Kings, a campaign that left two monarchs dead and the Shi’ar without a leader.  It is at this point when Gladiator, Praetor of the Shi’ar Imperial Guard, steps up and takes command.  He has been a strong and steady ruler of the Shi’ar Empire ever since.         

 

09 - Arkon – In the dimension of Polemachus, a realm where only the strong survive and war is the order of the day, Arkon, the bravest and mightiest warrior in the land, rose through the ranks and became ruler.  Armed with a mighty shield and a satchel of devastating thunderbolts, Arkon seeks to expand his rule not only over his homeworld but neighboring realms as well.  This decree oft times brings him into conflict with the heroes of the Marvel U, especially Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the Avengers.

 

08 - The Supreme Intelligence – This gelatinous giant green head preserved and floating in an enormous formaldehyde jar is a cybernetic organism which contains the brain power of 5,000 of the greatest minds in the Kree Empire.  It is the undisputed ruler of the largest and one of the most powerful and influential alien empires in the galaxy.  The Kree rule over 1,000 worlds and the Supreme Intelligence runs the show.  Guys like Ronan the Accuser and Korath the Pursuer bend a knee to the Supreme Intelligence.  Though its power has been usurped from time to time, the Supreme Intelligence has always returns with a vengeance.      

 

07 – Hela, Mephisto, Pluto and the Lords of the Underworld – Past the giant three-headed hound that patrols the entrance, over the River Styx, and on the other side of the Gates of Hell resides the Land of the Dead.  It has many names which have been passed down for generations, but its purpose has always remained the same – it is the final destination for the mortal soul.  In the mythology of the Marvel Universe, the realm of the dead is a vast and varied dimension with many kingdoms.  Each of these kingdoms serves a purpose in the overall scheme of the Marvel U and each of these kingdoms has a distinct ruler.  The Asgardian afterlife is ruled by Hela, daughter of Loki and undisputed Mistress of the Damned.  Not even the almighty Odin can avoid her cold touch forever.  The infamous Grecian underworld known as Hades is ruled by Pluto, dark foreboding brother of Zeus who rules from the heavenly Elysium Fields to the dark hellish corners of Tartarus.  Seth, the Egyptian god of chaos and death represents the Heliopolitans in the realm of the damned.  There are other areas of the Underworld, but perhaps the worst is the stygian depths ruled by the most notorious devil this side of Lucifer himself – Mephisto.  The Lord of Lies is one of the wickedest and most cunning evildoers in the history of the Marvel U.  He will stop at nothing to garner the most precious asset in the cosmos – a being’s immortal soul – and add it to his vast collection for an eternity of torment.             

 

06 – Odin, Zeus, and the Skyfathers – The gods rule man.  They rule the gods.  They are the nigh-omnipotent Skyfathers.  There’s Odin the All-Father, all-seeing king of the Aesir and Lord of Asgard.  There’s the Thunderer, Zeus, wielder of the invincible thunderbolts and monarch of Mount Olympus.  There’s the omnipresent Manitou, the Native American Great Spirit.  There’s Osiris, lord of the Egyptian gods.  And there’s Zuras, the wise leader of the race of powerful immortals known as the Eternals.

 

05 - The Mole Man – He has the distinct honor of being the very first super villain of the Marvel Age!  This diminutive man was once a scientist who was shunned for his dwarfish appearance.  He receded into the bowels of the earth where he became master of the vast cavernous domain which sprawls below the surface of Earth’s crust.  His vast army is manned by a seemingly endless number of pale-skinned creatures known as Moloids.  His throne resides underneath one of the most infamous landmarks in the Marvel U – Monster Island.  Here he has mastered the art of monster wrangling.  Googam, Goom, Titano, and all the leviathans and Kaiju from Marvel’s Atlas Era are his to command.     

 

04 - Black Bolt – He is the ruler of the Uncanny Inhumans, a race of mutated super humans that live separate from mankind in the hidden city known as Attilan.  Black Bolt dares not utter a single word for the sound of his voice is so powerful that it can smash mountains into powder.  He communicates with sign language and through the voice of his faithful wife, Medusa.  Within Black Bolt resides vast amounts of cosmic energy which he can channel through the tuning-fork on his forehead and his super human strength rivals even the mighty Thing.  Black Bolt is a beloved and respected ruler by his people and by the super hero community.  His very presence inspires awe and his good, noble heart inspires loyalty in his subjects, family, and friends.       

 

03 - Prince Namor – His origins go all the way back to the Golden Age of Comics.  He is the king of the undersea Kingdom of Atlantis.  He’s Marvel’s original Bad Boy.  The Savage Sub-Mariner has tried to destroy the surface world just as many times as he has saved it.  His super human strength knows few equals.  He can swim and breathe underwater as well as breath and fly through the air.  His mighty trident was passed down to him by Lord Neptune himself and he has one of the most fierce and technically advanced armies under his command in all the world.  His rule has been usurped by despots like Krang and Attuma, but he has always won his crown back.  Namor has served in the ranks of the World War II super team the Invaders, the team of misfits known as the Defenders, and Marvel’s premiere super team, the Avengers.  He has also fought against and alongside fellow Marvel Monarchs, Doctor Doom and the Black Panther.       

 

02 - The Black Panther – King T’Challa is the earthly avatar of the panther god and he is the ruler of Wakanda, the most technically advanced nation in the world.  Wakanda resides on a mountain of Vibranium, the most precious and strongest metal in the world.  T’Challa is a genius level intellect with strength, speed, and a fighting prowess that rivals Captain America.  He is an honored member of the Avengers and loyal friend to the Fantastic Four and Daredevil.  Wakanda is a land that has never been conquered by an outside army.  It has withstood the Third Reich, the machinations of the Supremacists, a Skrull Invasion, and survived the DoomWar.  However, it could not withstand the cosmic power of the Phoenix Force.  When a Phoenix possessed Prince Namor leveled the Black Panther’s kingdom, this event set the two Marvel Monarchs on an unavoidable collision course that has played out in the pages of Time Runs Out.  However, do not be surprised if we are treated to a Marvel crossover event sometime in the near future titled The Atlantis/Wakanda War.     

 

01 - Doctor Doom – Victor Von Doom is the world’s most dangerous man.  His genius level intelligence is only rivaled by guys like Reed Richards and Tony Stark.  His suit of armor is as advanced as Iron Man’s.  His mastery of the mystic arts puts him on par with Doctor Strange.  And, he is the undisputed ruler of the country known as Latveria.  He is the arch foe of the Fantastic Four and arguably the most feared villain in the entire Marvel Universe.  He has fought the Mighty Thor to a standstill, rendered the Incredible Hulk unconscious, dominated the Silver Surfer, and stood his ground against the lord of the underworld, Mephisto!  But, his most unbelievable feet to date is when Doctor Doom faced down and defeated the nigh-omnipotent power of the Beyonder.  Not only is Doom the ruler of his own nation but this despot has managed to actually conquer the world on several occasions (see Super-Villain Team-Up and Emperor Doom). 

 

Honorable Mentions:  High Evolutionary, the Kingpin of Crime, Dracula, House of M, and the Maestro

 

Recently, in the wake of the end of everything (see Time Runs Out), Doctor Doom has seized control and rules over Battleworld, the last remnants of what was once the Marvel Universe (see Secret Wars) proving that in the end, DOOM is the ultimate Marvel Monarch.           

 

This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

 

No CommentsTags: Comics

DCU History: Batman vs. Swamp Thing

June 12, 2015 · No Comments

Greetings from the Odinson,

 

Batman – He is the Dark Knight Detective.  He is the world’s greatest detective.  He is a world class athlete, a master combatant, and a genius intellect.  He’s backed by more money than Davy Crockett, and he is armed with every tool, weapon, accessory, and vehicle a crime-fighter could possibly need.  He is a member of the Justice League, a team of the World’s Greatest Super Heroes.  And, he is the defender of Gotham City.    

 

Swamp Thing – He is a monster that was once a man, or at least he thinks he was a man.  This man, this Alec Holland, was a brilliant scientist.  He is a hulking mass of muck and twisted stalk.  He is the protector of the Green and an emissary of the Parliament of Trees.  He is an elemental guardian of the earth and one with the planet itself.  And, he has known love, a pure, sweet forever kind of love that few in this world truly get to experience.

 

They are both legends.  Even in his own city, Batman is often thought of as an urban legend, a boogieman for the criminal underworld.  Swamp Thing has been compared by those that live in the swamps and bayous of the world to other cryptozoic creatures like Bigfoot, the Chupacabra, and the Loch Ness Monster.  They are both forces for justice.  However, what is just can often be a point of view. 

 

Why would two forces for good constantly come into conflict?  Why have the Caped Crusader and the Protector of the Green consistently found themselves at odds since the moment they met?  Let’s explore their turbulent past and see if we can’t discover the answer together. 

 

DCU History: Batman vs. Swamp Thing

 

1973 - Swamp Thing #7 (1st Series) “Night of the Bat!” – One of the earliest conflicts between these two DC Legends was set in motion when Swamp Thing, in hot pursuit of an enemy, arrives in Gotham City.  As the sight of a seven-foot muck monster walking down Central Avenue tends to do, Swamp Thing’s unearthly presence causes fear and misunderstood retaliation from the local citizens and authorities.  This misunderstanding leads to Batman pummeling and throwing haymaker after haymaker against his perceived foe.  However, after taking everything his mortal adversary has to offer, Swamp Thing downs the Caped Crusader with one monstrous blow.  Round One goes to the Swamp Thing. 

 

1975 – Brave and the Bold #122 “The Hour of the Beast!” – When our tale begins, Batman is appalled to find the Swamp Thing held captive and put on display in a carnival freak show.  However, when a mutated plant virus threatens to engulf Gotham City, a mob driven by fear blames the captive creature and threatens to destroy him and anyone standing in their way.  Batman rescues the Swamp Thing but more conflict comes when the Caped Crusader must try to convince his erstwhile sparring partner to save his city.  Round Two goes to Batman.    

 

1981 - Brave and the Bold #176 “The Death Connection!” – Dazed and confused, the Swamp Thing mistakes an escaped convict for the woman that he loves and blames the Batman for her death.  The Caped Crusader bravely fends off the monster’s lumbering attacks and deftly subdues the beast allowing him time to regain his senses.  Round Three goes to Batman.  

 

1986 - Swamp Thing #52-53 (2nd Series) “Garden of Earthly Delights!” -  Just returned from his epic quest through the Gates of Hell (see Swamp Thing #50), the Swamp Thing discovers that the woman he loves is missing.  His search brings him to Gotham City where Abigail is being held for trumped up charges of crimes against humanity.  The elemental creature threatens to bring Gotham back to the Stone Age if his lover is not released to his custody.  And to demonstrate his intent, Swamp Thing engulfs the entire city in living plant life.  Batman throws everything he has at the monster, but the Swamp Thing has become far too powerful for even the Dark Knight to vanquish.  When brawn fails, Batman uses the greatest asset he has at his disposal, his brain.  In the end, Abigail is returned to Swamp Thing and Gotham City is saved.  But the tale ends on a shocking cliffhanger concocted by none other than Lex Luthor!  Round Four is a tie!  Though Swamp Thing handedly wins the physical battle, Batman uses his intellect to come to a peaceful resolution and save his city.  It should be noted that Luthor’s plan actually does work, so the arch fiend could technically be awarded the victory.  Perhaps the most intriguing chapter of this particular story was seeing Batman’s sinister Rogues Gallery through the eyes of Swamp Thing when the elemental is drawn to the dark halls of Arkham Asylum by creature with an akin affinity for the Green - the Floronic Man.            

 

1995 - Batman #522 “Swamp Things!” – The Batman’s hot pursuit of Killer Croc brings the Dark Knight Detective to the swamps of Louisiana.  There he corners the wanted criminal but his efforts to bring him in are stymied by the Swamp Thing.  Batman argues that Croc is a criminal that needs to be brought to justice.  Swamp Thing argues that Croc has regressed into primordial being and now belongs to the swamp therefore he is no long susceptible to “man’s laws.”  They debate the merits of justice and Batman realizing he is overmatched and relents.  As Swamp Thing and Killer Croc disappear into the muck and shadows of the bayou, Batman is left contemplating the elemental’s words and how he is ever going to get his Batmobile out of that tree.  Round Five goes to the Swamp Thing.     

 

2014 - Injustice Gods among Us: Year 3 – In this alternate reality, Superman has become a dictator who brings a totalitarian peace to the world and all those who oppose him are deemed criminals.  He is backed by the Justice League and the one time arch fiends Lex Luthor and Sinestro.  Batman leads an underground resistance against his onetime partner, a resistance that has been joined by John Constantine.  As the elemental and chaotic forces of magic are drawn into the conflict so too is the Swamp Thing.  However, where Batman thought he’d find a new ally, he instead finds a powerful adversary.  It seems the Protector of the Green is all for Superman’s New World Order for it guaranties the safety of the planet in a way the super hero community had never done before, and the Swamp Thing’s primary goal is the safety of planet Earth.  Round Six ends in a draw.  This is a case of two sides trying to do the right thing and both sides believing whole heartedly in their own point of view.  Though Swamp Thing’s over all philosophy of saving the planet no matter what is appreciated, no salvation is worth an individual’s free will.      

 

From the very beginning, going all the back to Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson’s classic “Night of the Bat,” these two DC Legends have been at odds.  This is a true Ali/Frazier match up of epic proportions.  Sometimes Batman wins, sometimes Swamp Thing wins.  Sometimes neither of them win.  From their origins to the worlds they live in to their philosophies on justice, these are two extremely different characters with oddly a lot in common. 

 

What will the future bring for the Batman and Swamp Thing?  Will they be enemies or allies?  Only time will tell.      

 

This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

 

No CommentsTags: Battles · Comics

The Odinson Celebrates the Arrival of the Ultimate Graphic Novel Box Set

June 05, 2015 · No Comments

Greetings from the Odinson,

 

In life, there are moments that every fan of pop culture can truly appreciate.  The very first time you saw Star Wars: A New Hope and the hull of that magnificent Star Destroyer crawl across the screen for what seems like an eternity in that breath-taking opening shot.  That magical Christmas morning when an ear-to-ear grin permanently fixates your face as you rip open the biggest present under the tree and your parents nod to each other knowing they made the right choice this year by getting you the Castle Grayskull playset.  How about the first time you heard Michael Keaton say “I’m Batman” or the first time you heard Eric Draven say “It can’t rain all the time” or the first five mind-blowing minutes of The Matrix that let you know you weren’t in Kansas anymore and that the game has been elevated and completely changed forever?

 

Every fanboy and girl has those moments throughout their life that validates their passion for pop culture.  The Death of Gwen Stacy, A Death in the Family, JLA/Avengers, these are benchmarks, moments that happened in my lifetime, in comic books, the medium I have supported and been in love with now going on four decades, these are the moments that the Odinson will never forget.  They say an aroma or a melody can bring back a memory, take you back to another time and place. Every time I see a certain iconic Mike Zeck cover, I am transported back to the summer of 1984 and the only thing that kept me sane sitting in the tiny back seat next to my little sister as my family embarked on a Griswold-like cross-country vacation was the magical tale by Jim Shooter, Mike Zeck, and Bob Layton – Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars.  

 

Now, thirty years later, I am beyond excited to see the release of the Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars: Battleworld Box Set!

 

Though it comes with a hefty price tag, this is truly a stunning collection and would make an amazing addition to any bookshelf or collection. This is one of those items, one of those moments that will forever be imbedded in my memory.  It is a work of art, and that’s before cracking open the first volume.  The set includes eleven hardcover volumes that encapsulate the entirety of the original Secret Wars Saga (more on that in a second).  They come completely protected within a beautiful box case with a flip-open lid.  The box is adorned with amazing artwork by Mike Zeck from the original series, and the spines of the volumes within, when linked up in correct reading order, connect to show off the line ups for the combatants, good and evil.  The set also comes with a cloth throw adorned with the iconic artwork of Mike Zeck that protects the box from collecting dust.   

 

The true beauty of this item cannot be conveyed in words alone so click on this link - Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars: Battleworld Box Set – and scroll through the pics we’ve provided just to see the magnitude and exquisiteness of this truly spectacular item. 

 

Volumes included in the set are:

 

Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars: To Battleworld and Back – This volume features all the moments leading up to heroes' abduction by the Beyonder and immediately following their triumphant return from Battleworld and the original Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars.  Traveling back to that time, I remember it was a shocking moment where one month the Avengers, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, X-Men, and the Hulk all disappear within this monstrous alien construct.  This cliffhanger was followed up in the very next issue of the series where they suddenly reappeared changed and battle worn.  Why is She-Hulk with the Fantastic Four and where is the Thing? Why is the Hulk on crutches?  Where did that monstrous dragon the X-Men are battling in Japan come from?  Why is Spider-Man in a black costume?  These answers could only be found in the pages of the original Secret Wars.       

 

Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars – This is the granddaddy of all epic events. Before Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis, House of M, Civil War, and Infinity Gauntlet there was Secret Wars. A nigh omnipotent being from beyond has, for lack of a better word, kidnapped the greatest heroes and deadliest villains in the Marvel Universe and whisked them to the far side of the universe to battle to the death for the ultimate prize.  The rules for a mega event book are as follows: One, it must be epic; Two, it must have lasting impact; and most importantly, Three, it must be entertaining.  Secret Wars set the standard by which all other epic events must strive to achieve.  Very few have even come close.       

 

The Thing: Battleworld – On Battleworld, Ben Grimm discovered that he could control his transformation into the Thing.  After the war was over, Grimm decided to stay behind and explore what this meant.  Thus, began the 12-part Rocky Grimm, Space Ranger Saga.  During this science fiction inspired adventure we learn the fate of Battleworld and we see the dramatic and devastating aftermath of the Thing’s return to Earth when he is confronted by the revelation involving the woman he loves and his best friend.  Poor Aunt Petunia’s favorite nephew just can’t seem to catch a break.   

 

Secret Wars II Vol. 1-4 – The One from Beyonder, a being of unimaginable power and desire has come to Earth. Now, the future of the Marvel Universe rests on the whims of a new born god.  The classic sequel and all its tie-in issues are collected in these four magnificent volumes! 

 

Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars: Aftermath – This volume explores all the waves and ripples created by the original Secret Wars as they carry on throughout the Marvel U even after the tale is over.  The rivalry between She-Hulk and Titania, what happened on Earth the day the heroes disappeared, and the fate of the One from Beyond are all explored.  The Odinson’s personal favorite is the inclusion of Thor #383 which elaborates on what happened between Thor and the Enchantress when they took a timeout from the War between the pages in Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #3-4.

 

Secret War – This volume features a startling secret campaign conducted by Nick Fury involving prominent members of the super hero community who have no recollection of the incident.  Plus, a startling revelation about the Beyonder’s true origins is discovered by the Illuminati! 

 

Beyond the Secret Wars – This volume includes all the tales and “What If…?” stories in the last thirty years that were inspired by the events of the original Secret Wars.

 

Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars: Behind the Scenes - From the toys that inspired the 12-issue maxi-series to the sequels and tie-ins, this beautiful book explores all the sketches, variant covers, and behind the scenes DVD style special features of the Grand Daddy of the mega-event!

 

I really just don’t have the words to describe just how wonderful this item is.  This is an absolutely stunning graphic novel set.  I will always remember the day I, as a mega fan of this seminal tale, was privileged enough to see this amazing and gorgeous piece of pop culture cross my desk.

 

I may not be able to remember off the top of my head the quadratic formula from my 9th grade Algebra class, but I can tell you exactly where I was the first time I opened Incredible Hulk #340 with that stunning cover by Todd McFarlane, an issue that featured an epic, unforgettable throw down between Wolverine and the Hulk.  NOTE: For the record it was 8th grade English and I had to buy a second copy because Mrs. Miller confiscated my first one.     

 

The day I laid eyes on the Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars: Battleworld Box Set will be one of those unforgettable moments.              

 

This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

No CommentsTags: Comics

Retcons and Reboots: The Good and the Bad

May 29, 2015 · 2 Comments

Greetings from the Odinson,

 

Retcons and Reboots: The Good and the Bad

 

Everybody who has been reading comics for a length of time has become quite familiar with the words retcon and reboot.  Those moments in comics history that tweak or flat out change continuity.  Sometimes for the better, but sometimes with not so good results.  These are the situations that make the reader completely reinterpret previous events by shedding light on them in a new way. 

 

Example of a Retcon:  All these years Captain America thought his wartime partner and friend, Bucky Barnes, had been killed in their final mission during the waning days of World War II, the very same mission that sent the Sentinel of Liberty plummeting into the drink where he was frozen for decades only to be reawakened in the modern world.  But, Bucky did not die in that explosion.  No, he was taken in by the Soviet Union, brainwashed, and turned into the cyborg assassin known as the Winter Soldier, a shadowy Cold War boogie man that would resurface throughout major political upheavals in history.        

 

Example of a Reboot: Tim Burton made the Caped Crusader a movie star with 1989’s Batman and its sequel Batman Returns.  However, Joel Schumacher torpedoed the franchise with the campier follow up Batman Forever and the ridiculous Batman and Robin.  Eight years later, when it was time for another Batman film, Christopher Nolan decided to restart the franchise.  His new trilogy – Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises – had no ties to the previous Bat-films and presented the legend of Gotham City’s protector from a decidedly different point of view.  It was a new take on the same material. 

 

The Odinson’s Top 5 Retcon/Reboot Fails

 

5 – The Question is an Immortal? (Reboot) – Originally, Vic Sage was a street level vigilante.  He was a conspiracy theorist, genius level detective, and superb martial artist.  He was super cool and the template for Rorschach, the breakout star of Alan Moore’s masterpiece - Watchmen.  However in DC’s The 52 rebooted universe, the Question is part of the Trinity of Sin, a trio of immortals cursed thousands of years ago by wizards to walk the earth, forever.  The Question, stripped of his face and identity, is forced to always question everything and seek out answers he will never find.  What?!  I’m sorry, I’ll take the super cool Denny O’Neil Question, an urban avenger and righter of wrongs any day over the new version.  What’s next, Bruce Wayne is actually from Krypton?    

 

4 – The New 52 Earth 2 (Reboot) – The original Justice Society from Earth-2 were a distinguished group of veteran heroes fighting a never-ending war against the Nazis.  That’s right, World War II never ended on this alternate plane of existence.  Hitler’s Third Reich has mastered the mystic arts and keep Superman at bay with a barrier spell.  So the super heroes of the Golden Age are locked into an eternal struggle against the greatest force for evil in the history of man.  In the New 52 version, the eternal struggle takes on the form of the invading forces of Apokolips.  However, the veteran heroes of the original Earth-2 have been replaced with neophyte younger versions of themselves.  I don’t know, maybe it was the demise of the DC Trinity in issue #1.  Maybe it was the new pill-popping Batman.  Or, maybe it was seeing my hero, Superman, turned into a lap-dog for evil.  Whatever the reason, give me the original Earth-2 over this rebooted version.  I’d even take the post-Crisis JSA, a team of veteran heroes taking the next generation of heroes under their wing and teaching them how to be legends.  I’m just not warming up to the New 52 Earth 2, not yet anyway.

 

3 – Heroes Reborn (Reboot) – Oh, where to begin?  The up and down and inconsistent artwork?  The disjointed storytelling?  The forced continuity?  Yikes!  This was a mess from the get go.  Now, were there good moments?  Of course.  This event firmly planted the seed to what has become the Tony Stark/Bruce Banner relationship we know today.  I also enjoyed the Galactus event involving Doctor Doom that brought the Heroes Reborn Universe to the brink of disaster.  But overall, the best part of this failed experiment was when it ended and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Marvel’s First Family were welcomed back to the 616 with Heroes Return! 

 

2 – The Gwen Stacy/Norman Osborn Affair (Retcon) – Ok, follow me on this one.  In the year before her untimely death at the hands of the Green Goblin, Gwen Stacy was in France and had an affair with Norman Osborn, got pregnant, and gave birth to twins.  What?!  So, not only did Peter Parker lose the love of his life, but she had a liaisons with his most hated enemy?  My Odinson head is spinning.  You know this one is terrible when even J. Michael Straczynski, the man who wrote this story, feels bad that it saw print.  This is just one of those retcons that the Odinson refuses to acknowledge.  In my mind, much like the last thirty minutes of the Man of Steel movie, it never happened.

 

1 – Jason Todd Alive (Retcon) – I get that the Red Hood is one of the more popular New 52 characters with the younger audience.  And, I will admit that Jason Todd has become a far more interesting character now than he ever was as Robin.  That being said, this retcon completely takes the wind out of the sails of one of the most poignant moments in the history of Batman.  Next to the death of his parents, no singular moment in Bat-history has had the impact on the life of Bruce Wayne and the Batman mythos than Death in the Family.  In light of Todd’s return to the land of the living, going back now, that once seminal tale has lost some of the power, some of the pathos, the weight it once carried, and that’s a shame.

 

The Odinson’s Top 5 Retcon/Reboot Wins

 

5 – Wonder Woman Embraces Her Greek Mythology Origins (Reboot) – In the wake of Crisis on Infinite Earths, the DCU reset itself.  There are so many great reboots launching at this time, but head-and-shoulders right there has to be George Perez’s take on the Amazing Amazon.  Her Greek Myology origins take center stage and become the drama and driving force for her adventures.  At this time, a young Odinson is coming off Walt Simonson’s epic take on the Mighty Thor, a run that used Thor’s Norse Mythology ties unabashedly.  I have always been a fan of mythology, and Perez doing this with Wonder Woman allowed me a way to relate to the material.  I know her Greek origins had always been there, but they were never as prevalent as they are now thanks to George Perez. 

 

4 – Swamp Thing is Not a Man (Retcon) – Originally, the Swamp Thing had a traditional monster/comic book origin.  He was Alec Holland, a scientist who was caught in an explosion of chemicals whose body was transformed into the muck-encrusted protector of the swamp.  However, writer Alan Moore reworked his origins and revealed that Swamp Thing was not a man transformed into a monster but was in fact a plant that absorbed the essence of Alec Holland and his shambling configuration is the creature’s attempt at reforming a man’s body.  Furthermore, the Swamp Thing is also an emissary of the planet itself and an elemental protector of The Green.  The Odinson loves the early Swamp Thing cannon, but even I have to admit that Alan Moore and his artists took this character to a whole other level with their seminal run on the book.    

 

3 – Magneto’s Children (Retcon) – Magneto is easily one of the most complicated and interesting characters in the history of comics.  For years, he was the most notorious mutant terrorist in the Marvel U.  But over the course of his transition from villain of the week to anti-hero (see Uncanny X-Men #150 and 200, God Loves, Man Kills, and X-Men vs. the Avengers) there was one more bombshell that would shock the heroes of the Marvel U and the readers alike.  In 1983, it was revealed that Quicksilver and the Scarlet were in fact the children of Magneto.  Not only does this make going back and reading those early X-Men adventures featuring the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants resonate differently, it also makes the growing and intertwining Family Tree of the Avengers, X-Men, and Inhumans all the more exceptional.   

 

2 – One More Day/Brand New Day (Retcon) – I know a lot of fans jeer the demise of Perter Parker and Mary Jane’s marriage, and I’m not too pleased that the details involve the fiendish Mephisto, but I, for one, am happy to see Spider-Man as a single man again.  I was there when the Wedding happened and it was fantastic, but all those stories have been told.  Of all the iconic characters – Superman, Batman, Captain America, Hulk – Spider-Man is the representative of youth.  A wife?  A baby?  While those are wonderful, they don’t really make Spider-Man relatable to a younger audience.  I didn’t hate that Spider-Man was married to Mary Jane nor did it make or break me on reading his adventures, but I do like an unhitched Spidey better. 

 

1 – The Man of Steel (Reboot) – I’m not talking about that regrettable movie.  No, I’m talking about the landmark take writer/artist John Byrne had on the Last Son of Krypton.  Back in 1984-85, before Crisis on Infinite Earths, Superman being the very first comic book super hero was beginning to show his age and felt dated.  He was a hero for a bygone era.  Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? was a love letter saying goodbye to the Golden and Silver Ages.  John Byrne’s Post-Crisis take on the Man of Steel was a much needed shot in the arm.  He invoked the best of Christopher Reeve and Kurt Swan mixed in a little Magnum P.I.’s Tom Selleck and gave Superman a modern day makeover.  Those first few years of adventures in the pages of Action Comics, Adventures of Superman, and Superman are some of the best and most exciting Man of Steel comics ever produced.      

 

Sometimes retcons and reboots work, and sometimes they don’t.  Sometimes they are for the best, and sometimes they can be quite baffling.  For instance… 

 

Let me get this straight, the Beyonder, the all-powerful being responsible for the original Secret Wars, is not a Cosmic Cube given life, but he is in fact an Inhuman?  And, the events of Secret Wars II did not actually happen?  It was just him living out some fantasy of a petulant child playing with his toys in the middle of the asteroid belt near Jupiter?  Alright.   

 

This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

2 CommentsTags: Comics

The Odinson’s Top 5 Underdog Stories

May 22, 2015 · No Comments

Greetings from the Odinson,

 

When criminals in this world appear - and break the laws that they should fear - and frighten all who see or hear - the cry goes up both far and near for Underdog…!

 

Nobody doubts for one second that the Man of Steel won’t save the falling damsel or that the thunder god’s mighty hammer won’t vanquish the monstrous frost giant.  The Flash is supposed to win the race, he’s the Fastest Man Alive.  Mister Fantastic is supposed to have the answer, he’s the smartest man alive.  And, the Incredible Hulk is supposed to be able to support the weight of the world on his broad Gamma-powered shoulders, because Hulk is the strongest one there is!  These are titans and they are all expected to save the day, but what about the little guy, the underdog.     

 

Nobody expected David to slay the giant, Goliath.  Nobody expected Rocky to go the distance with Apollo Creed.  Everybody loves the underdog.  Remember the Alamo!  Throughout history and pop culture there are examples of a few brave souls overachieving and accomplishing feats that seemed impossible and make the myths.

 

In Conan the Barbarian, right before the climactic battle of the film, the mighty Cimmerian prays to his god, Crom, and during his appeal he says “…all that matters is that two stood against many….”  And there among those monolithic stones, outnumbered twenty to two, one barbarian and one thief triumphed over impossible odds and toppled the forces of Thulsa Doom!   

 

In the pages of Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars, the Marvel Universe’s mightiest heroes are pitted in a no holds barred death match against their deadliest adversaries.  When the question of leadership came up there was only one man for the job.  However, when a much brasher, pre-House of M/Origins Wolverine (it was after these events that Logan regained his lost memories and became a more civil and rounded hero) refused to follow Captain America’s command, stating that with no super human powers that he was the least of them all.  The Mighty Thor stymied that line of thinking and made it a moot point when he stepped forward and declared that he “would follow [Captain America] through the gates of Hades!”  Thus, Steve Rogers, a simple man from the Lower East Side of Manhattan, would go on to lead the galaxy’s greatest heroes into battle against the forces of Doom! 

 

Sometimes it’s the one least likely that makes the biggest difference.

 

The Odinson’s Top 5 Underdog Stories

 

5 - Green Arrow in “Imaginary Stories!” Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, and the Flash – these are some of the most legendary names in the history of comics.  Together there is no foe they can’t defeat, no odds they can’t overcome, right?  But, what happens when the World’s Greatest Super Heroes are defeated by the diabolical Key?  This arch fiend has enslaved these titans for justice in prisons of their own minds and the only thing left standing in his way and total victory is the son of Oliver Queen.  Armed with only a bow and a handful of his dad’s old trick arrows, Connor Hawke pulls off the impossible and singlehandedly takes down one of the Justice League’s oldest and most dangerous foes.   

 

4 - Marvel Universe vs. the Punisher – Frank Castle treks warily through a post-Apocalyptic Manhattan fighting blood-thirsty creatures that were once heroes as he searches for Patient Zero, the first infected that started all the madness, the former hero once known as Spider-Man.  In a world where every single person with super powers has been transformed into flesh-eating maniacs, how fitting that the only man left standing to save the world is a man without any super powers.  This isn’t the first time the Punisher was the last man standing in a world of heroes-turned-monsters.  In What If Wolverine Had Become Lord of Vampire?, an alternate ending to Uncanny X-Men #159 sees Wolverine and the Children of the Atom transformed into super powered, blood-sucking Children of the Night and the only one left standing in their way is Frank Castle, Vampire-Hunter!

 

3 - Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: A New Hope – For nearly twenty years, through military force and the sheer power of the Dark Side, Emperor Palpatine and his galactic empire ruled a galaxy far, far away.  His powerful clone army subjugated entire star systems, his menacing apprentice, Darth Vader, hunted down and destroyed the Jedi Order, and he unleashed his ultimate weapon upon the galaxy, the Death Star, a moon-size space station with enough fire-power to destroy an entire planet.  Then along comes a young farm boy from a backwater planet with an affinity for the Force who makes an impossible bombing run down a narrow trench under heavy fire and destroys the most formidable weapon of mass destruction ever known.     

 

2 - Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings – Middle Earth is on the verge of falling into war, chaos, and disorder as the numberless legions of monsters, goblins, and orcs under the command of the villain Sauron are amassing and threatening to cut a swath of death and destruction across the land that no lawful creature can hope to survive.  The only thing that can stop the end of days is the destruction of the MacGuffin known as the Ring of Power.  Of all the good races in the realms, no one could possibly dare to possess the Ring for fear of falling prey to its seductive power.  Not the wisest of elf, not the mightiest of dwarf, not the most stalwart of man.  No, only one among them all could possibly bear the burden of the task at hand.  The most unassuming, the most pure of heart, the bravest soul, a simple Hobbit named Frodo Baggins.   

 

1 - Green Arrow and the Atom in Rock of Ages – In the not too distant future, the heroes of Earth have failed and the dark gods of Apokolips have conquered the world.  Mankind is enslaved and all worship at the feet of the one true god – Darkseid.  In one last desperate attempt for salvation, a ragtag team of Justice League members comprised of disjointed members from the past locked inside their crippled old bodies of the future, Wonder Woman, a nearly broken Batman, and a malfunctioning Amazo robot, take the fight right to the dark god’s doorstep.  As the world around them rockets toward oblivion, one by one the heroes fall before the nigh omnipotent power of the dark lord.  Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, and all the heroes of the DCU are dead and gone.  Only Green Arrow and the Atom remain.  An acrobat with a bow and a scientist who shrinks are all that remains standing in the way of a dark god and his ultimate victory.  Connor Hawke and Ray Palmer stun the reader, stun the world, nay, they stun the cosmos by pulling off the impossible.  Green Arrow and the Atom take down Darkseid for good!

 

America loves the underdog.  Maybe that’s because in 1776, America was the underdog when we decided to declare our independence from the Throne of England.   Hawkeye, the absolutely most underappreciated member of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes put the plight of the underdog into stark perspective in Avengers: Age of Ultron when he said “The city is flying and we’re fighting an army of robots and I have a bow and arrow.  Nothing makes sense.”

So, here’s to the Underdog!

 

This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

 

No CommentsTags: Comics · Movie · Pop Culture

The Odinson’s Top 5 Ultron Tales

May 15, 2015 · No Comments

Greetings from the Odinson,

 

 Last week I reviewed Avengers: Age of Ultron.  This week I want to focus on the villain of the piece – Ultron.  This malevolent, murderous machine is truly one of the most menacing super villains in the history of comics.  He is a true All-Time great.  A hero is only as good as his villain.  A villain is only as scary as his deeds.  Well, the Avengers are Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, so you can imagine that Ultron’s sinister deeds must be quite diabolical.

 

Physically, Ultron is an imposing adversary.  His body is made out of nearly indestructible Adamantium and can withstand the pounding fists of the Incredible Hulk and the smashing might of Thor’s Hammer. His mechanical limbs give him inhuman strength.  He has an array of energy based attacks not the least of which is his devastating Encephalo-Ray, a powerful attack that immediately renders its victims unconscious and can even place them into a coma.  And, his computer brain puts him on par with the greatest minds in the Marvel Universe.  Tony Stark has even said that Ultron may be smarter than him!     

 

The greatest villains in comics are not just simple black-and-white cut-outs.  No, they are complicated and complex characters.  There is a reason why names like Magneto, Deathstroke, Two-Face, Sinestro, and Mystique have resonated over the course of decades.  They are interesting and if not for one reason or another, they could have been on the side of angels.  Doctor Doom and Lex Luthor could be the greatest heroes of their respective universes if they weren’t so darn evil. 

 

Ultron is also a complicated creature.  He’s a walking contradiction.  He’s a machine with an Oedipus complex.  Ultron was created by Hank Pym, who he wants to murder, and he has an unhealthy obsession with the Wasp, Pym’s ex-wife.  Isaac Asimov is turning over in his grave at the thought of Ultron’s lack of respect for the Three Laws of Robotics.

 

For the Odinson, the moment when the legend of Ultron truly captured my imagination was in the pages of Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars.  In the very first issue, this brash robot turns on his villainous comrades and tries to take on Galactus, GALACTUS!  That didn’t work out too well for him but nevertheless, Doctor Doom reactivated the fallen droid and made him his personal bodyguard.  During the course of this classic tale Ultron vaporized Kang, proving once and for all who the most dangerous Avengers foe is, he stood toe-to-toe with the Mighty Thor, and nearly crippled the Hulk, an injury that carried over with the Jade Giant even after his return to Earth.  In a final showdown that almost cost Captain America and the Human Torch their lives, it took Johnny Storm going Super Nova in order to bring this nearly unstoppable force for Doom down for the count.  From that point on, I have always been an Ultron fan and I will read any issue he is in. 

 

Which brings me to…           

 

The Odinson’s Top 5 Ultron Tales

 

 5 – Ultron vs. Daredevil: Hollow Victory! -  During the Acts of Vengeance campaign, Doctor Doom reassembles his Secret Wars bodyguard and sends him after the Man without Fear.  In this harrowing tale guest-starring the Uncanny Inhumans, Matt Murdock is pushed to his physical and mental limits as he tries to overcome a foe that is much, much more physically superior to the foes he normally faces off against. 

 

4 – Annihilation Conquest – The Phalanx is a techno-organic race of aliens that sweep through the cosmos and assimilate anything and everything in their path.  The mutant heroes, the X-Men, have barely managed to keep the Phalanx at bay when they set their sights on Earth (see Uncanny X-Men #192 and The Phalanx Covenant).  This is a truly scary adversary.  So, in the wake of the Phalanx’s defeat of the Shi’ar Empire, the Spaceknights of Galador, and the Kree Empire, it was truly awe-inspiring to see that it was in fact Ultron who pulled the strings of the Phalanx.  The Phalanx assimilates everything in its path, but Ultron conquered the Phalanx.  That feat alone puts Ultron in the Hall of Fame.   

 

3 – The Tale of Mark V – It all begins when Pym starts receiving mysterious phone calls.  Pym agrees to meet with the stranger on the other end of the line but is horrified to discover the caller is in fact Ultron!  However, this Ultron wants to be called Mark V and all he wants to do is love and adore his creator.  As you can imagine, Pym is very leery but he does not have long to contemplate his peculiar situation as Ultron-11, the sinister version from the pages of Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars, shows up and all hell breaks loose.  Let’s just say that Pym is very lucky he has friends like the Ionically-powered Wonder Man on his side.  This beloved issue answers the question –What If Ultron were a force for good?  If you are a Hank Pym and/or Ultron fan then this is simply a Must Read tale.     

 

2 – Ultron’s Vision – Part of what makes Ultron so dangerous is that he is constantly upgrading and evolving.  Also, his plight against Marvel’s Premiere Super Team is personal.  He’s family.  During one of his most notorious campaigns against his hated foes, Ultron created and unleashed his vision.  Using the derelict body of the World War II android, the Original Human Torch, and Wonder Man’s brainwaves, Ultron created the super android known as the Vision.  Physically, the Vision is a powerful adversary who can go toe-to-toe with just about any heavy-hitter in the Marvel U.  However, unlike Ultron, the Vision believes in the Three Laws of Robotics and actually turns on his creator, ironically the same way Ultron had turned on his creator.  Vision has gone on to become one of the most classic figures in Avengers History and his romance with the Scarlet Witch continues to make the Avengers Family Tree the most complex and interesting one in the history of comic books.

 

1 – Ultron Unlimited – This is not only the greatest Ultron story of All-Time, it is also one of the greatest Avengers stories of All-Time.  It has everything.  Right off the bat, Ultron establishes himself as a truly sinister and deadly force to be reckoned with as he slaughters an entire country and turns the dead into an army of cyborg-zombies.  All the dysfunctional family drama between Giant-Man, Wasp, Wonder Man, Scarlet Witch, and Ultron is present.  The climactic battle scene in the movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron, was inspired by these mind-blowing pages that saw Earth’s Mightiest Heroes face down an Army of Ultrons!  Plus, this story gives us perhaps the greatest single moment in Avengers History.  Simply stated – “Ultron, we would have words with thee.”  Anyone who has read this tale knows exactly what I’m talking about.  Kurt Busiek and George Perez crafted a true classic here. 

 

Honorable Mentions: We Stand at Armageddon, The Torch is Passed, The Bride of Ultron, Ultron Unbound, and, of course, Age of Ultron. 

 

Lex Luthor.  Doctor Doom.  The Joker.  Thanos.  Darkseid.  These are the faces on the Mount Rushmore of comic book villainy.  Well, it’s time to break out the hammer and chisel and add the sinister glowing Jack-o-Lantern visage of Ultron to the mix.   

 

This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

No CommentsTags: Comics

Man and Machine: Forever at Odds?

May 01, 2015 · No Comments

Greetings from the Odinson,

 

Avengers: Age of Ultron is in theatres now!  Next week the Odinson will drop his official review. For now, I’d like to take a closer look at the villain of the piece - Ultron.  But even more specifically, the complicated relationship between man and machine.

 

1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2) A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

 

These are the Three Laws of Robotics as conceived by renowned science fiction author Isaac Asimov (I, Robot).  Man makes machines to help him improve his state of living.  Man evolves and with evolution comes advancement in technology.  Eventually, man creates A.I. (Artificial Intelligence), A.I. reaches singularity, A.I. perceives man as either inferior or a threat, and inevitably A.I. tries to destroy man.  As Morpheus once told Neo – “Throughout human history, we have been dependent on machines to survive.  Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony.” 

 

The snowball effect started with HAL 9000.  In Stanley Kubrick’s visually stunning 2001: A Space Odyssey, an astronaut crew bound for Jupiter is systematically taking out by their onboard A.I., HAL, when they threaten to disconnect the computer.  HAL’s reinterpretation of Asimov’s third rule ended up contradicting the whole formula and subsequently rewrote the rule book.  After this mechanical transgression, machines all across the landscape of science fiction began to turn on their human benefactors.

 

A few months after HAL 9000’s malfunction, Marvel Comics unveiled a new super villain.  Ultron is an A.I. created by Hank Pym, the super hero known as Ant-Man and a co-founding member of the Avengers.  However, as super smart as he is, Pym is a flawed man and he passed those flaws on to his greatest creation.  It wasn’t long before Ultron sought not only the destruction of his father but the annihilation of all mankind.  Constantly evolving, Ultron continues to come back and plague Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and every time he does, he comes back smarter and deadlier than the time before.  So much so that in order to vanquish the machine’s last attempt, Marvel’s heroes had to fracture the very time-stream and set the Marvel Universe on a collision course with oblivion in order to defeat the mechanical monster (see Age of Ultron, Cataclysm: The Ultimates Last Stand, and Time Runs Out).  

 

A few years later, a very different kind of artificial intelligence arose to plague mankind.  Arnim Zola was a World War II Nazi scientist who through the use of super science downloaded his criminal brain into a computer and now to this day haunts the Sentinel of Liberty, Captain America, and the free world he protects. 

 

In Alien, Ridley Scott’s sci-fi/horror classic, Ash, the science officer of the ill-fated Nostromo, a deep space vessel, and resident android goes rogue and starts breaking Asimov’s rules left and right in order to preserve the crew’s landmark find for his employers.      

 

Perhaps the most infamous A.I. in the annuals of science fiction is Skynet.  This military computer network becomes self-aware and decides that it is in its best interest to wipe out humanity.  It declares war on the human race by simultaneously launching all nuclear warheads around the globe.  In the Apocalyptic aftermath, Skynet sends out machines, Hunter/Killers and Terminators, to exterminate the remnants of the human race.  However, a human resistance led by John Connor rises up to fight back.     

 

Even good machines can go bad, as was the case in Absolute Vision.  After sustaining serious damage investigating a Negative Zone incursion, the Vision, resident super android of the Avengers, is hooked up to ISAAC, an alien super computer, to help speed up his repair process.  However, this strange connection between the two A.I.s awakens an idea within the synthetic superman to take control of the Earth and force utopia on mankind whether they want it or not.     

 

In 1986, Stephen King’s unique take on the Apocalypse, Maximum Overdrive, showed planet Earth fall into the tail of a mysterious comet.  The radiation from the celestial event awakened a consciousness in all machines big and small around the world.  Planes, trains, and automobiles of all shapes and sizes were suddenly given sentience and awareness.  So what does every single vehicle, machine, and piece of equipment whether electrical or gas-powered want to do with its first day of self-awareness?  Why destroy mankind of course.  

 

If Skynet is the most sinister example of man vs. machine, then The Matrix has to be the most diabolical.  In an unspecified time in the future, man creates an A.I. that declares war on its creators.  Knowing the machines depend on solar energy to sustain themselves, mankind uses nuclear bombs to scorch the earth and blackout the skies.  So, the machines enslave mankind and use the energy produced by the living for power.  They grow human beings in fields and fields of mechanical pods.  However, to keep the human race docile and subjugated, the machines created The Matrix, a computer-generated world where mankind lives out their lives within their minds and completely oblivious to the fact that they are all slaves.      

 

One minute you are playing chess against your home computer, and the next minute, Skynet is launching a full scale nuclear attack to wipe out humanity from the face of the earth.  How has the relationship between man and machine gone so poorly that we've gone from Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics to The Matrix?  At least benevolent robots and machines like Data, the Autobots, X-51, Red Tornado, the Vision, and C-3PO and R2-D2 seem to have our best interests at heart, mechanical as they may be.

 

This is Odinson bidding thee farewell

No CommentsTags: Comics · Movie · Pop Culture

The Odinson Reviews Marvel's Daredevil

April 24, 2015 · No Comments

Greetings from the Odinson,

 

Ok, I waited two weeks to give everyone a chance to watch it.  It’s now time for the Odinson to review Marvel’s Daredevil.  I will try to keep the enthusiasm in check and apologies to those that have not seen it yet (shame on you) for any spoilers that might slip.    

 

Netflix debuted Daredevil, the first of its five new shows set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  The other shows will be about Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and finally, they will all come together in The Defenders.  I’m not going to bury the lead.  I absolutely loved Daredevil!  For me, as a lifelong fan, I sat there and watched the comic book literally come to life right before my eyes.  It’s an origin story without being mired in quicksand.  The cast and crew do an amazing job bringing the gritty world of Hell’s Kitchen to life.  It’s easy to tell, they were inspired by the story of Daredevil: The Man without Fear by Frank Miller and John Romita, Jr.  From the first episode to the last, the audience sees the growth and evolution of Matt Murdock and Daredevil, the legend he will become.       

 

Let me get into the first of two sidebars.  I have long been a vocal defender of Daredevil: The Movie starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner.  The film has its flaws and warts to be sure, but it is a film that is way underrated and not nearly as bad as a lot of folks have claimed.  To be honest, I believe most of the negative energy surrounding this film was due more to events happening in the real life of the lead actor rather than the material itself.  It’s a completely watchable movie.  It’s more Batman Forever and less Batman and Robin.     

 

I want to take a moment and talk about the amazing cast this show has.  Charlie Cox looks like Matt Murdock.  He absolutely nails the part.  At no time does he go way over board either.  His transformation from Murdock to Daredevil is seamless and his choices from mannerisms to voice are fantastic.  And, the kid they got to play young Matt Murdock looks like he was plucked right off the page of a John Romita, Jr. drawing.  Deborah Ann Woll, who many viewers may recognize from True Blood, portrays the complex Karen Page, a character whose past, present, and future, as most DD readers know, will have a huge impact on the lives of Murdock and Nelson.  Speaking of…Eldon Henson as Foggy Nelson, with his acting and delivery of the lines, breathes life into the character and makes him even more interesting than he ever was on the page.  The supporting cast of Vondie Curtis-Hall as reporter Ben Urich, the beautiful Rosario Dawson as Night Nurse, and the great Scott Glenn as Stick, Murdock’s blind mentor, were all absolutely fantastic.     

 

One of the main complaints I’ve heard about the show is how violent it is.  That doesn’t really bother me so much because Daredevil is one of the most street level super heroes in all of comics.  It was amazing to see ole Horn Head’s Rogues Gallery come to life.  I got great pleasure in seeing Turk, a street informant and small time hood, be included in the show.  We also get to see classic DD bad guys like the Hand, Gladiator, Arranger and the Owl.  However, Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk the Kingpin of Crime was just remarkable.  I love his portrayal of Daredevil’s arch foe and he is arguably, next to Hiddleston’s Loki, the single best Marvel villain brought to life so far.     

 

Which brings me to the second of my sidebars.  I have heard the following complaint several times now.  I hear people in articles, interviews, and podcasts complain that the Marvel Cinematic Universe only has one villain – Loki.  Now, Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal of the Trickster is Top Shelf for sure but he is not even close to being the only villain we’ve seen and enjoyed.  Iron Man has faced off against the Iron Monger, Whiplash, Justin Hammer, and AIM.  In the Thor films we’ve seen Malekith, the Frost Giants, Kurse, and the Destroyer!  Captain America has faced down the Red Skull, the Winter Soldier, Crossbones, Arnim Zola, Hydra, and Batroc the Leaper!  We have seen Graviton, the Collector, Nebula, Ronan, the Celestials, oh yeah, and THANOS!  We are about to see the sinister Ultron come to life.  And, these are just the villains we’ve seen I can think of off the top of my head.  As a fanboy, the Odinson gets so much joy every time one of these characters makes an appearance.  So, yes, Loki is great and arguably the best villain so far, there is a reason why his actions cause the formation of Marvel’s Premiere Super Team, but ease up on the whole “Loki being the only villain we’ve seen” bit. 

 

OK, I’m off my soap box.  Now, back to DD. 

 

Netflix released the entire 13 episode First Season all at once.  It’s basically a thirteen hour movie and it goes by all too quickly.  All the little Easter Eggs like references to the Avengers, Elektra, and the mystical city of K’un L’un remind me of the comics and the wonderful continuity of the shared Marvel Universe.  And, there are plenty of shocking surprises and Game of Throne-like OMG moments that I will not spoil for you here. 

 

Season 2 has already been announced!  Moving forward, the Odinson would love to see an adaptation of Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s classic Born Again saga, an adaptation of Kevin Smith and Joe Quesada’s tragic tale Guardian Devil, appearances by the Punisher and Elektra, and appearances by Daredevil and the other Netflix heroes in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War movie.   

 

I highly recommend this show to longtime DD comic fans and fans who only know the characters through the movies. 

 

The Odinson Rating: 5 out of 5 Hammers

 

The reason Marvel just keeps on knocking it out of the park and getting it over on their competition is because they do it right.  They never stray too far from the source material.  When I go see an Iron Man movie, it’s not Hollywood’s version of Iron Man.  It’s Marvel’s Iron Man!  In an interview with Kevin Smith (Director of Clerks and Mallrats), Stan Lee once joked that back in 1961 he should have took his ideas to Hollywood.  Smith laughed it off and said “No, sir.  You were needed in comics.”  Well, that is true, and thankfully for generations of comic fans Stan Lee did stay in comics and launch the Marvel Age with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, but it is fun to see all these years later this universe come to life on the Big and Small screens. 

 

Whether it’s in comics or books, cartoons or video games, television or movies, the Marvel Universe translates, and translates well.        

 

This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

No CommentsTags: Comics · Television

The Odinson’s Top 20 Moments in Marvel History: Part 2 of 2

April 17, 2015 · No Comments

Greetings from the Odinson,

 

As the Marvel Universe prepares to usher in a brand new era with 2015’s Secret Wars, the Odinson has decided to rank his most significant moments in the illustrious history of the House of Ideas.

 

The Odinson’s Top 20 Moments in Marvel History: Part 2 of 2

 

#10 - The Creation of Ultron – If a hero is measured by the strength of his enemies then Ultron is the reason why the Avengers are Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.  With his computer brain, he is as smart as Iron Man.  With his Adamantium shell, he is as indestructible as the Hulk.  With his analytical sensors, he is as cunning as Captain America.  And, with his robotic limbs, he is as strong as Thor.  But, these attributes are not what make him the Avengers’ greatest foe.  No, it’s because it’s personal.  Hank Pym as Ant-Man is a founding member of the Avengers and Hank Pym is Ultron’s creator, his father.  This is a twisted Family Tree that includes Wasp, Vision, Jocasta, Wonder Man, Scarlet Witch, and more!  The scariest thing about Ultron is that he always comes back smarter and deadlier than the time before.  The heroes can win a thousand battles.  The villain only has to win once.    

 

#9 - Demon in a Bottle – Frank Miller’s run on Daredevil could have filled this spot, but it’s Demon in a Bottle that makes the list.  This is the tale that ushered in a new, more mature style of storytelling.  Marvel characters have always been more relatable than others.  It’s hard to relate on a personal level to a strange visitor from another world that can leap tall buildings in a single bound or a billionaire with good looks, women, and all the wonderful toys money can buy, but a young photographer struggling to pay his rent, a mild-mannered guy with anger issues, a dysfunctional family, a hot-headed young man who has a strained relationship with his father, now those are stories that real people can relate to.  Demon in a Bottle really shined the spotlight on Tony Stark’s struggles with alcoholism.  It cost him his relationships, it cost him his company, and, ultimately, it cost him his role as Iron Man.  It set up a hero’s journey, a long arduous quest for Stark to pick himself back up, see the light at the end of the tunnel, and come out the other end a better man.      

 

#8 - The Death of Jean Grey – With the Dark Phoenix Saga, Chris Claremont and John Byrne gave us a tragedy on par with Shakespeare himself.  They say power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  The fall from grace and ultimate sacrifice of Jean Grey was not only shocking, but earned.  It’s not the first death in comics history and by no means was it the last, but it is easily one of the most memorable.  Years later, with the Return of Jean Grey, it was like a weight had been lifted and the sun shined down on the Marvel Universe once again.  I never realized just how important a character like Jean Grey was until she was gone.  She is the glue that binds the X-Men together.  She is the heart and soul of the Children of the Atom.      

 

#7 - The Death of Gwen Stacy – This was not only one of the most shocking, unexpected moments in comics history, but it was one of the most poignant.  Gwen Stacy was the love of Peter Parker’s life.  They were young with a whole future in front of them.  These are just comic books, right?  There’s no real consequences.  The heroes always save the day and evil is always punished.  This was the moment that changed everything.  This is the moment when Spider-Man and the comic book medium grew up.    

 

#6 - Avengers Disassemble/House of M/Decimation – Several prominent heroes meet their untimely ends and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the Marvel Universe’s premiere super hero team, is completely dismantled and worse, it’s by one of their own.  The Scarlet Witch has descended into madness and she takes the world with her.  Using her reality-warping powers, Wanda rewrites the history of the Marvel U and changes the world into a place ruled by her father, the notorious Magneto.  As this illusion begins to unravel, Wanda utters three simple little words – “NO MORE MUTANTS.”  Those three words empowered by chaos magic and fueled by psychosis brought an entire race of people to the verge of extinction and completely changed the landscape of the Marvel Universe for many years to come.

 

#5 - The Coming of Galactus – In this 3-part tale, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby expanded the Marvel Universe exponentially and told a grand science fiction tale that cemented the Fantastic Four as the World’s Greatest Comic Magazine.  In this epic adventure, we witness the defining moment of Uatu the enigmatic Watcher.  We are introduced to the gleaming Silver Surfer whose noble sacrifice and origin story would not only inspire but establish the Sentinel of the Spaceways as one of the greatest characters in Marvel History.  And, we are introduced to the Devourer of Worlds, the mighty Galactus.  A true force of nature, Galactus has to be one of the most feared, awe-inspiring, complex, and interesting beings in the entire Marvel Universe.  This is the tale that showed the Fantastic Four that despite their amazing powers and skills, they are mere mortals in a much grander scheme, a much bigger universe than they or the readers could have ever possibly imagined.    

 

#4 - The Gamma Bomb – On that fateful day when mild-manner scientist Bruce Banner dashed out onto the test site to save the life of teenager Rick Jones, the first hero of the Atomic Age was born.  Caught in the heart of an exploding Gamma Bomb and bombarded with immense amounts of Gamma Radiation, Bruce Banner’s chemical make-up was forever altered.  Now, whenever he becomes angry he transforms from a hundred and eighty pound weakling into the juggernaut the world has come to know as the Incredible Hulk!  Usurping elements from Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and King Kong, and mixing in romance, tragedy, and modern day science fiction, the pathos-filled tales of the Hulk and his alter-ego, Bruce Banner, have become the stuff of legend.    

 

#3 - Avengers #4 – He was the greatest super hero of World War II, but that was decades ago and the Sentinel of Liberty was long thought dead and gone.  However, on that fateful day when the Savage Sub-Mariner tossed a frozen idol local Eskimos were worshiping into the sea and that object was recovered by the Avengers, who were in pursuit of Namor, Captain America returned to the world!  The initial trials of Steve Rogers as a man-out-of-time with survivor’s guilt made for entertaining dramatic storytelling.  Over the years since his return, Captain America has become the undisputed leader of the Avengers and the super hero community as well.  With his sense of honor, duty, integrity, and never give up attitude, Captain America is one of the most inspirational characters in not only Marvel History, but in comics history as well.    

 

#2 - The Death of Uncle Ben – This is the defining moment in the life of one the most defining super heroes in history.  After teenager Peter Parker was bitten by that radioactive spider and given the super human abilities of a human-spider, he didn’t set out to become a hero.  No, quite the opposite.  He set out to make money off his new found gifts.  However, on that fateful night when he selfishly allowed a criminal to escape when he could have helped Peter Parker learned a poignant and tragic lesson.  That very same criminal later broke into Parker’s home and murdered his Uncle Ben, the man who raised him.  This is the moment when Peter Parker learned that “with great power must also come great responsibility.”  This is the moment that Spider-Man was truly born.   

 

#1 - Fantastic Four #1 – It’s the issue that launched the Marvel Age!  As the legend goes, a young writer named Stan Lee had had his fill of writing romances, westerns, and sci-fi O. Henry stories and was ready to give it all up.  His beautiful wife, Joan, suggested that if he were going to quit anyway he may as well write one last tale the way he wanted to write it.  Thus, the Fantastic Four was born, and over the course of the next 100 issues, from Atlantis to Attilan, the Savage Land to the Blue Area of the Moon, from Queens New York to Wakanda, Stan Lee and his co-creator and partner, Jack Kirby, established the landscape of what we now today call the Marvel Universe.  From the Inhumans to the Kree Empire, the Skrulls to the Watcher, the Silver Surfer to Galactus, the Black Panther to the Doctor Doom, through the eyes of Marvel’s First Family the readers were introduced to all the different and colorful denizens that inhabited the Marvel Universe.  This is the issue that started it all and therefore the issue that tops the Odinson’s list.  

 

Honorable Mentions: The Kree/Skrull War, Death of Captain Marvel, The Infinity Gauntlet, The Fall of the Mutants, Annihilation, ROM Spaceknight, and Marvel vs. DC. 

 

These are the moments that shaped the 616 into the greatest fictional playground in pop culture history. 

 

This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

 

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The Odinson’s Top 20 Moments in Marvel History: Part 1 of 2

April 10, 2015 · No Comments

Greetings from the Odinson,

 

The summer of 2015 will mark a significant milestone in the history of comic books – The End of the 616.  The mega event they are calling Secret Wars will change the landscape of the Marvel Universe forever, and that’s saying something for a universe that has had some of the most reality-bending stories to ever see the light of day.

 

As the Marvel Universe prepares to usher in a brand new era, the Odinson has decided to rank his most significant moments in the illustrious history of the House of Ideas.

 

The Odinson’s Top 20 Moments in Marvel History: Part 1 of 2

 

#20 - Onslaught/Heroes Reborn/Heroes Return – When Professor Xavier’s essences merged with Magneto’s latent evil a powerful destructive force known as Onslaught was born.  Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Marvel’s First Family were forced to make the ultimate sacrifice to save the world.  As the 616 moved on without its greatest champions (see Thunderbolts, Ka-Zar, Alpha Flight, Elektra, etc.), the Avengers and Fantastic Four in one of the darkest moments in Marvel History were REBORN in a pocket universe of Franklin Richards’ creation.  There they lived out lives with similar but slightly different origins.  That was until a cataclysmic event ushered in their triumphant RETURN to the 616 and arguably one of the shiniest moments in Marvel Comics History. 

 

#19 – Incredible Hulk #180-181 – In these bone-crushing pages, the mighty Hulk and the world are introduced to Wolverine.  The man simply known as Logan with his Adamantium-laced unbreakable bones and claws and super human healing factor would not only capture the imagination of readers for generations to come but he would inspire the creation of countless characters over the years.  Next to Superman, no comic book character has been homaged more than Wolverine. 

 

#18 - The Contest of Champions – Through the machinations of the cosmic Elder of the Universe, the Grandmaster, and his cohort, the very first companywide crossover event in comic book history happened. 

 

#17 – Secret Invasion/Dark Reign/Siege – This alien conspiracy had a yearlong lead in.  The heroes of the Marvel U are suddenly faced with the realization that their ranks have been infiltrated by the shape-shifting Skrulls.  This led to an epic battle that saw the fall of a beloved hero and the trust between heroes and the public they protect broken.  Enter: Norman Osborn.  Osborn takes control of SHIELD and the power in the Marvel U shifts over to the dark side.  The bad guys are in control and the heroes are now on the run.  Even the power of the gods are challenged.     

 

#16 - Planet Hulk/World War Hulk – The heroes of Earth have decided that the Hulk poses to much of a threat to the world at large so they trick him and blast him off to the far side of the galaxy.  There the Hulk lands on a strange harsh world where he becomes a slave, a gladiator, a revolutionary, and ultimately a savior.  He returns to the planet of his birth angrier and more powerful than ever.  The vengeance he wreaks on those that wronged him nearly breaks the world in half, literally.    

 

#15 - The Mutant Massacre – Someone sends the mutant hit squad known as the Marauders into the tunnels below Manhattan to wipe out the “inferior” mutants known as Morlocks.  The only thing standing in their way is the X-Men.  The Massacre leads to Angel falling into the hands of Apocalypse and becoming the Horseman Death.  The injuries sustained by many X-Men would lead to Fantastic Four vs. X-Men and the formation of Excalibur.  This storyline would have legs for years to come.  As the conspiracy unfolds secrets about Gambit, the Summers Brothers and Mister Sinister, and more would be revealed.     

 

#14 - Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars – This is the Grand Daddy of all mega events.  All the greatest heroes and their deadliest foes are whisked to the far side of the universe where they will do battle on a patchwork planet known as Battleworld.  The legacy of this event is enormous and the aftershocks of this one are too numerous to mention but here are a few – Spider-Man’s Black Costume, Thing’s Sojourn, She-Hulk Joins the FF, the Hulk’s Descent into Madness, Kitty Pryde and Colossus Break-Up, and the Beyonder.      

 

#13 - Civil War – This tale did for the Iron Man/Captain America relationship what the Dark Knight Returns did for the Batman/Superman relationship.  It took two of the Marvel U’s biggest icons and put them at odds.  What resulted was a divide amongst the super hero community that to this day has never truly healed all the way.  The result of this conflict left one icon dead, a super hero community susceptible to a Secret Invasion, and a world ready to fall under the shadow of a Dark Reign.

 

#12 - Uncanny X-Men #150 – In this issue, the Master of Magnetism sinks a Russia submarine that threatens him with nuclear weapons.  This is the moment when Magneto ceases to be the one dimensional arch villain of the week and sets out on a path that will make him one of the most complicated and interesting characters in comics history.  The events of this issue led to God Love, Man Kills, it led to Magnus taking over Xavier’s school in Uncanny X-Men #200, it led to the trial of Magneto in X-Men vs. Avengers, which led to Magneto’s fall from grace in Uncanny X-Men #274, and ultimately it led to all the ups and downs of this deliciously complicated man over the course of the next three-and-a-half decades. 

 

#11 - Age of Apocalypse – In a desperate act to do right by his father, the demented Legion travels back in time to kill Professor X’s greatest enemy, Magneto.  However, it is Charles Xavier that is accidently murdered and in that one moment, the history of the Marvel Universe is completely changed.  Years later, North America is in the iron grip of the mutant despot Apocalypse and the world is on the verge of nuclear annihilation.  The death of one man has brought the world to the brink of destruction.  This mega event clearly illustrates the significance of the role Charles Xavier plays as one of the major pillars of Marvel Universe History.     

 

Those are some mind-blowing, ceiling-raising moments, but the Odinson is just getting warmed up.  Tune in next week when the Odinson will reveal his Top 10 Moments in Marvel History.

 

This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

 

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