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Mycomicshop's Comic Blog

Mycomicshop's Comic Blog

Entries Tagged as Comics

How Do the Independents Challenge the Big Two?

February 27, 2015 · 1 Comment

Greetings from the Odinson,

 

One of the best ways to be successful in life is to find a niche.  Find that one thing that you are really good at and run with it.  Now this doesn’t mean you aren’t good at other things, you just so happen to really excel at this one particular thing.  In the landscape of comics it cannot even be argued that Marvel and DC have the market cornered on the super hero genre.  Their two slices of the pie take up nearly the entire sales chart, but what about those other smaller slices of the pie?  There must be some reason why those other companies not only challenge the Big Two for shares of the market, but in some instances even surpass them.

 

They do so because they have found their niche with the fans.

 

Image is the King of Science Fiction – The astronomical sales of the space opera Saga and the survival horror The Walking Dead alone would be enough to crown Image but their knack for sci-fi doesn’t end there.  They explore the multiverse with Black Science.  They explore the relationships between man and machine in Alex Plus Ada.  They explore mysteries and horrors of science gone wrong in titles like Clone and Wildfire.  They pull back the curtain on the end of days in East of West.  And, they blast off to the stars in titles like Starlight and EGOs.  If there were a genre to be king of, Science Fiction has got to be near the top of the list. 

 

Dark Horse is the King of Horror – Dark Horse gets a lot of credit for bringing manga into the mainstream, but what they really excel at is really scary stories starring really compelling characters.  With the epic crossover Fire and Stone, Dark Horse brought together three “monster” franchises – Aliens, Predator, and Prometheus – and created an intertwining tale of horror and evolution the Odinson hopes to one day see on the Big Screen.  Joss Whedon’s Buffyverse, a place filled with vampires, witches, and zombies, is alive and well with the continuing adventures of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel and Faith.  Not to be out done.  Nobody defeats the forces of darkness better than the aquatic Abe Sapien and the supernatural agents of B.P.R.D., and nobody pounds monsters into pulp better than the legendary Hellboy and the two-fisted Goon.  In Leaving Megalopolis, we see just how scary it would be to live in a world where the super hero community turns against the very people they have sworn to protect.  Tiger Lung reveals what the world was like at the dawn of time and how mankind survived in the face of the old horrors that once stalked the earth.  And, Dark Horse allows modern day readers to feel the tension and terror yesterday’s readers did with the classic horror stories from the Creepy and Eerie magazines.           

 

IDW is the King of the Licensed Properties – If, like the Odinson, you were a child of the 80s, the decade that gave us Pac Man and the Rubik’s Cube, then pop culture juggernauts like GI Joe, Transformers, My Little Pony, Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the Garbage Pail Kids are no strangers to you.  IDW has brought these viable franchises into the New Millennium and taken them to new heights of popularity bridging the gap between Generation X and the Millennials.  IDW has explored the perils of Dungeons and Dragons, resurrected The Crow, and given the Angry Birds a new platform.  IDW has also produced some of the best Star Trek and Godzilla comics in history.  And, IDW has continued the adventures of Agents Mulder and Scully and their pursuit of The X-Files and Jack Bauer’s further adventures in 24.  Nobody does the licensed property like IDW.  It’s a huge reason why they are constantly challenging Dark Horse for that fourth spot on the sales chart.      

 

Dynamite is the King of Dusting off Old Treasures and Breathing New Life into Them – If IDW is the King of Licensed Properties, then Dynamite is the King of breathing life into old classics.  Pulp Adventure Heroes like Doc Savage, the Shadow, Flash Gordon, Mandrake the Magician, and the Black Bat enjoyed their greatest success in the 1930s and 40s.  The Green Hornet, Six Million Dollar Man, and the Bionic Woman were popular heroes of the 60s and 70s.  The sultry Vampirella was at the height of her macabre powers nearly four decades ago.  Along with the new TV show, Dynamite played a huge role in the comeback of the cult classic Battlestar Galactica.  Legendary heroes like John Carter, Zorro, and the Lone Ranger were products of a bygone era. And, characters like Red Sonja and Solar Man of the Atom have not experienced the kind of popularity and success they are currently having since their debuts in the 60s and 70s.  Once upon a time, each and every one of these properties were gold standard but along the way they lost some the luster that made them best-sellers.  Though they may have had some slight success here and there over the years, they are truly enjoying a renaissance under the umbrella of Dynamite Entertainment.      

 

Valiant is the King of “What was Old is Now New Again” – In the early 90s, Valiant exploded onto the scene and their comic sales even challenged those of the Big Two.  However, only a few short years later, when the comic market nearly crashed, Valiant all but imploded and disappeared from the landscape.  Then, suddenly in 2012, like a phoenix from the ashes, Valiant returned.  X-O Manowar, Harbinger, Bloodshot, Archer and Armstrong, Ninjak, and more were back!  And, with great creative teams helming the ship, Valiant has returned to the fold, bigger and better than ever.

 

Each of these Independents may live in the shadow of the Big Two when it comes to sales in the super hero genre, but make no mistake, they have all found their niche, and each one of them is master of their own little piece of the pie.      

 

This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

1 CommentTags: Comics

Pulp Fiction Heroes of Yesterday Inspire the Modern Super Heroes of Today

February 20, 2015 · No Comments

Greetings from the Odinson,

 

I recently watched a fantastic documentary on Hulu called Pulp Fiction: The Golden Age of Storytelling.  It ran down the history of this highly influential genre.  It is amazing how much the origins of the Pulps mirror our own modern times and just how much the Pulp Heroes inspired the modern day super hero.  Pulp Fiction is the Godfather of modern day action/adventure stories.   

 

The genre got its name from the cheap magazines these stories were offered in, a magazine printed on very cheap pulp paper.  Though the magazines had been around since the turn of the Twentieth Century, the genre really rose to prominence in the years leading into, during, and following the Great Depression.  During this harrowing time in history when twenty-five percent of Americans were out of work, the fantastical space fantasies and hard-hitting crime stories of the Pulps provided a much needed distraction, and at a price that didn’t hurt the wallet.  In recent years, we experienced the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2008, the worst of its kind since the Great Depression.  Much like then, modern day consumers needed a distraction from their financial woes – Enter: The Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

 

In the shadow of the worse financial crisis in seventy-five years, the entertainment business has turned to the worlds of comic books to help the populace take their minds off their financial woes.  Like the Pulp Magazines before them, the comic industry is experiencing a modern day Golden Age.  Star Wars #1, released January of this year, sold nearly one million copies!  That’s the most issues sold we’ve seen since the days of X-Men #1 and The Death of Superman.  From Arrow to The Flash, Gotham to Constantine, Daredevil to Alias, television is littered with comic book inspired TV, and not just schlock either, good quality television.  And, comic book inspired movies like Big Hero 6, Hercules, Sin City, RED, and, of course, the Marvel Cinematic Universe rule the Box Office.

 

However, this is not the only parallel that can be drawn from the Golden of Storytelling to these modern times.  What about the legendary Pulp Heroes and their epic adventures that inspired writers and artists to create our heroes of today?

 

Doc Savage – Arguably the greatest Pulp Hero, Savage is the Man of Bronze, a superior human being with immense strength and intelligence that battles evil doers and their master plans that range from science fiction to the macabre.  His base of operations is the Fortress of Solitude and he surrounds himself with a team of brilliant peers that help him keep the world safe.  He inspired Superman, arguably the greatest super hero.  Superman is the Man of Steel with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men.  His base of operations is the Fortress of Solitude and alongside the Justice League, the World’s Greatest Super Heroes, he fights a never-ending battle for peace, justice, and the American Way!   

 

The Shadow – This mysterious vigilante strikes terror in the hearts of evil doers everywhere.  He is a deadly adversary to those that have wronged the innocent and he possesses the ability to cloud the minds of men.  He obtained his superior crime-fighting prowess studying abroad and learning ancient mystic secrets.  Bill Finger and Bob Kane have both gone on record saying that the Shadow inspired the creation of Batman.  The Dark Knight Detective even sported twin .45s like the Shadow in his earliest adventures.  And, like the Shadow, he learned his superior crime-fighting abilities by traveling around the world.    

 

Conan the Barbarian – From Lord of the Rings to the Forgotten Realms, from Dragonlance to Warhammer, what fantasy/sword and sorcery fiction of the last century hasn’t been inspired by the mighty Cimmerian’s Hyborian exploits?

 

Fu Manchu – Though Dracula was the first, this devilish criminal mastermind helped define the role of the arch super villain.  Fu Manchu, with his diabolical schemes of world domination and super intellect that always seemed to keep him one step ahead of his foes, created the archetype for modern day super villains like Lex Luthor and Doctor Doom.  Also, long before Darth Vader’s stunning revelation in Empire Strikes Back, Fu Manchu was revealed to be the father of the martial arts hero Shang Chi the Master of Kung Fu.    

 

Green Lama – After the tragic death of his parents, Jethro Dumont studied for years in Tibet and learned many mystical secrets.  He returned to the United States where he uses his new found mystical powers to fight crime and injustice as the Green Lama.  Stephen Strange was a brilliant surgeon who tragically lost his medical abilities when his hands were severely injured in a drunken car crash.  He journeyed to the far-east where he studied under the tutelage of the Ancient One and learned the ways of magic.  He returned to New York where he now fights evil as the supernatural adventurer Doctor Strange.

 

The Phantom Detective – He is a master detective that works alongside the police to solve baffling mysteries.  The Phantom Detective is also a master of disguise and a superb escape artist.  It’s no stretch at all to say that his daring exploits inspired the adventures of many other modern day super detectives like Batman, the Question, and Moon Knight.  Also, long before the Bat-Signal ever lit up the Gotham City skyline, a red beacon was lit from atop a roof to summon the Phantom Detective into action. 

 

The Spider – Though the Spider possesses many of the same qualities as the Shadow and Phantom Detective, so those influence have already been touched on, another reason why the Master of Men makes this list is his monumental contribution to modern day fiction.  Stan “The Man” Lee himself in an anecdote said that he drew the inspiration for the name Spider-Man from having read the adventures of The Spider.  So, even if in name only, the Spider inspired the creation of not only a seminal modern day super hero, but the face and the mascot of modern day comic books. 

 

Solomon Kane – He may not have been the first monster hunter in history but this supernatural avenger has a long line of worthy successors.  Blade, Buffy, Cassie Hack, and the Winchester Brothers, just to name a few, can do their jobs much better thanks to the groundwork laid down by this Puritan demon-hunter.

 

TarzanKorak, Jo-Jo, Jann, Sheena, Kaanga, Lorna, Ka-Zar, Shanna, Tono and Kono, Thunda, George…and the list goes on and on of the jungle heroes and heroines inspired by the magnificent adventures of Greystoke, the Lord of the Jungle.

 

Zorro – A masked adventurer considered by many to be an outlaw.  He has a secret cave lair and a lightning-fast black steed.  He’s a brilliant tactician, a master combatant, and a superb athlete with amazing agility.  By day he’s a wealthy well respected man of his community, but by night he’s the scourge of the underworld and evildoers everywhere.  Is he the Green Hornet?  Blue Beetle?  Nite-Owl?  Batman?  No, his name is Don Diego Vega, but you may know him as Zorro!

 

 

Other Pulp Heroes and Modern Day Super Heroes They Inspired:  Buck Rogers to Adam Strange, Hopalong Cassidy to The Lone Ranger,  The Avenger to The Punisher, Domino Lady to Catwoman, G8 to Blackhawk, and Secret Agent X to James Bond.

 

Another overarching theme the Pulp Heroes have in common with the modern day super hero is the archetype of the billionaire playboy/masked avenger.  A lot of the Pulp Heroes were this and that theme has carried over with names like Bruce Wayne, Oliver Queen, Marc Spector, Hunter Rose, and Tony Stark.  The list of the legendary writers that wrote the Pulps reads like a Who’s Who of the greatest fiction writers in history.  Names like Edgar Rice Burroughs, Isaac Asimov, Lester Dent, Arthur Conan Doyle, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ray Bradbury, and H. P. Lovecraft are the forefathers to Stan Lee, Bill Finger, Denny O’Neil, Chris Claremont, Jim Shooter, Brian Michael Bendis, and Geoff Johns.  Also, much like the Golden Age of comics of the 1930s and 40s, many of the original Pulp Magazines and the artwork of the early Twentieth Century have been destroyed and high quality copies are hard to come by, making them treasures to find for collectors and fans.   

 

The Odinson highly recommends the documentary Pulp Fiction: The Golden Age of Storytelling.  Check it out and from the time period they were made in to the stable of Hall of Fame writers and creators to the tales themselves, learn how the Pulp Fiction Heroes of yesterday inspired the Modern Super Heroes of today.                

 

This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

 

No CommentsTags: Comics · Pop Culture

It's Time Once Again for the Odinson's Annual (10 years straight and running) Shout-Out to a Sorely Missed Hero - Rom Spaceknight

February 13, 2015 · 1 Comment

Greetings from the Odinson,

 

*SPECIAL OFFER* Only for a limited time, for every volume of Simon Roy and Jason Wordie’s supernatural adventure TIGER LUNG ordered, the customer will receive an 11x16 Tiger Lung poster signed by the writer for FREE!  (While supplies last.)  Synopsis: 30,000 B.C., the world was ruled by strange beasts and ancient gods! Paleolithic tribes survive under the protection of brave shaman warriors that struggle to keep their people alive in a vast, hostile universe. *SPECIAL OFFER*

 

Now on to this week’s subject.

 

You guessed it, boys and girls, it’s time once again for the Odinson’s annual shout-out to a sorely missed character with all the potential to be a great comic and one of the best in history.  Once a year I try to talk up one of my all-time favorite heroes from the past in hopes that Marvel will dust him off, work out whatever copyrights they need to, and bring him back to the fold.  I am, of course, speaking of ROM the Spaceknight, whose series ran 75 issues and 4 annuals from 1979-1987. 

 

ROM (1979-1986) #1-75 and ROM Annual (1982-1985) #1-4 depict an epic tale of love, loss, redemption, and, of course, scary alien monsters.  Deep in space two centuries ago a decisive battle between the forces of good and evil was fought.  The brave Spaceknights of Galador defeated the evil sorcery and super-science of the wicked Dire Wraiths, and scattered them to the furthest reaches of the galaxy.  Now, in present day their eternal struggle has spilled over to Earth.  ROM, greatest of the Spaceknights, has landed in a small West Virginia town.  Frightened by the arrival of a seven-foot alien, the people of Clairton call in the National Guard.  ROM is then forced to defend himself against those he has come to save.

 

Now that’s the kind of set-up that sets the stage for a truly classic sci-fi adventure.

 

ROM was a very important character to the early eighties Marvel Universe.  For example, in ROM #32, Rogue – who at this time was still with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants - attempts to absorb ROM’s abilities.  ROM’s innate nobility awakens her own goodness, thus helping her on her path to seek out the X-Men (as seen in Uncanny X-Men #171).  The rest is history.  Also, Richard Rider’s story did not actually end with the cancellation of his first series (see Nova Classic).  It concluded in Fantastic Four #208 and ROM #24.  After ROM helps Nova defend the planet Xandar from a Skrull invasion, Richard Rider decides to give up his Nova powers and return to Earth.  These issues bridge the gap between Nova #25 in 1979 and New Warriors #1 in 1990 where Nova made his triumphant return.  In Incredible Hulk #296, when the citizens of a small town are mutated and begin to die from Gamma radiation poisoning, it’s ROM that swoops in and saves the day.  The drama of this tale is part of what sets the Hulk on his spiraling path to his remarkable meltdown in the now classic Incredible Hulk #300.   You can see this tragic episode in its entirety in the pages of Incredible Hulk: Regression; however, Incredible Hulk #296 is only paraphrased in the graphic novel with all of ROM’s parts edited out, to the Odinson’s displeasure. 

 

ROM is definitely a force to be reckoned with.  He has stood toe-to-toe with Marvel heavyweights likes Jack of Hearts, Terrax the Tamer, Gladiator, the Savage Sub-Mariner, and he has even survived a harrowing encounter with the mighty Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds.  All across the globe, the greatest of the Spaceknights has fought side-by-side with some of Earth’s mightiest and most stalwart heroes including: the X-Men, New Mutants, Torpedo, Power Man and Iron Fist, the Thing,  Shang Chi, Doctor Strange, the Soviet Super Soldiers (now known as Winter Guard), and Alpha Flight.  And, talk about epic events, there is nothing more epic than the final battle between ROM and his sworn enemies, the Dire Wraiths, with the fate of mankind hanging in the balance. 

 

As the tale unfolds and builds toward its breath-taking climax, ROM is defeated and victory is within the grasp of the evil Dire Wraiths.  However, one last thing stands in their way and total victory…all those pesky super-heroes ROM spent the first 64 issues of his series recruiting to his cause.  ROM is joined by the Avengers, West Coast Avengers, X-Men, Defenders, Soviet Super-Soldiers, Beta Ray Bill, and all of the heroes of the world in one last ultimate battle to rid the Earth of Wraithkind forever.  To put it simply, it’s awesome, and it all takes place in Avengers #244-245, Uncanny X-Men #187-188, ROM Annual #3, and ROM #61-66.  This is a Mighty Marvel Classic that is begging to get the Epic Collection treatment. 

 

ROM’s original series features superb writing by Bill Mantlo (Cloak and Dagger, Rocket Raccoon), some of the best artwork from the illustrious career of Sal Buscema (Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man), plus some fantastic covers by Mike Zeck (Punisher, Captain America) and Frank Miller (Daredevil, Batman), and pencils by the legendary co-creator of Spider-Man, Steve Ditko.  I can’t recommend this comic series enough.  If you love Science Fiction and stories of passion and bravery, cool guest appearances, and, of course, scary alien creatures, then ROM is for you.

 

 

I know ROM received a satisfying and well-earned ending at the conclusion to his series, but surely the Greatest Spaceknight can be enticed to come out of retirement to instill some much needed justice in a chaotic universe.  ROM’s last appearance in comics was at Rick Jone’s wedding in Incredible Hulk #418.  According to the events of the 2000 series Spaceknights, ROM had taken the name Artour (remember his encounter with the ghosts of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table in ROM #37). He is missing and presumed dead.  As we all know, good heroes die hard.  At the very least this guy has earned the right to get either the Essential or Marvel Masterworks treatment.  I know Marvel no longer possesses the rights to the character, but now, with the power of Disney backing them up, surely they can muster the funds to pave the way for ROM’s return to the House of Ideas. 

 

In recent years in pop culture, ROM made a cameo appearance in the instant classic 3-part South Park epic Imaginationland.  What a triumphant moment that was for the Odinson to see one of his all-time favorite heroes be recognized like that.  ROM also made a not-so-triumphant appearance in an episode of Robot Chicken.  Several times in recent years, ROM has been referred to and mentioned in all but name (see Annihilators and Avengers #12.1). 

 

STOP TEASING US, MARVEL!  Please, work out the rights with Parker Brothers or whoever holds the rights to this awesome hero and return him back to the fold.  Marvel is suffering similar copyright woes with collecting the classic adventures of the Master of Kung Fu because Shang Chi’s origin story ties in so heavy with Fu Manchu, a character not owned by Marvel.  However, in the aftermath of the upcoming Secret Wars 2015 event, Marvel will rewrite Chi’s history to omit the Fu Manchu ties.  Perhaps the same can be done with ROM.  Though I’d prefer to see his classic stories collected unabridged.          

 

My point is this.  I’m obviously not the only ROM fan in the world.  There are websites dedicated to ROM.  This is an important character in Comics History.  This is a fantastic creation and dearly needs to come back.  This is my 10th Annual proclamation for ROM’s return, and I’m prepared to do it every year until the end of time until the powers that be heed my call.

 

Marvel, hear my plea.  Work it out and bring ROM back!

 

This is Odinson bidding thee farewell 

1 CommentTags: Comics

The Odinson Celebrates the 30th Anniversary of ThunderCats!

February 06, 2015 · No Comments

Greetings from the Odinson,

 

Thunder.  Thunder!  ThunderCats!  Hooooooooooo!

 

If you were a child of the 80s chances are you know exactly what that battle cry means.  It’s hard to believe that it’s been thirty years since the mighty ThunderCats debuted on syndicated television in January of 1985.  The 1980s was a Golden Age of original ideas when it came to popular culture.  Just to name a few, this is the decade that saw the birth of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, GI Joe A Real American Hero, Transformers, My Little Pony, MASK, Jem and the Holograms, and head-and-shoulders right there with the rest was the ThunderCats! 

 

The tale of the ThunderCats is classic science fiction adventure at its best. 

 

When their homeworld, Thundera is destroyed, a small band of survivors including a young prince named Lion-O, escapes to the stars on board a small ship.  While the few survivors lay in cryo-stasis, brave Jaga, Lion-O’s mentor, piloted the ship.  It took many years to find a safe port.  By the time their vessel crash-landed on a new world, Jagga had succumbed to old age, but his precious cargo was delivered safely.

 

The survivors awoke to discover this new world was a virtual paradise called Third Earth.  They also discovered that their young prince was now a man!  It seems that Lion-O’s stasis chamber was damaged in their flight from doomed Thundera and Lion-O’s body aged slowly over the course of their long space flight.  Though he had the body of an adult ThunderCat, he still possessed the maturity of a twelve year old.  Part of his hero’s journey was learning how to become a responsible leader of his people.

 

The ThunderCats quickly carved out a settlement for themselves in this brave new world and constructed a mighty citadel known as the Cat’s Lair.  They would soon discover that their sworn enemies, the devious Mutants, led by the reptilian Slithe, followed them to their new home and still sought their destruction.  They also discovered that this new paradise, though it was a planet of lush forests and beautiful grasslands, populated by benevolent denizens of every size and shape, this Third Earth, also possessed a dark side.

 

Among the many dangers that bedeviled this world, the berserker pirates, the revenge-seeking demons, the galactic huntsmen, and the lunatic assassins, one name stood out as the ultimate force for evil on Third Earth – Mumm-Ra the Ever-Living!  Mumm-Ra was a frail yet immortal lich that lived in a foreboding pyramid in the darkest corner of Third Earth.  He could not abide a new power challenging his own, so he made it his wicked quest to wipe out the ThunderCats once and for all.  He recruited the Cat’s mortal enemies, the evil Mutants, to his cause.  Already a powerful magi-user, Mumm-Ra could increase his strength and power exponentially by calling upon the Ancient Spirits of Evil and transform himself into a seven-foot tall ogre-mage of immense strength and nigh unlimited magical power.

 

The ThunderCats were a brave and stalwart breed and they met every challenge thrown their way.  As a race of humanoids descendant from cats, they all possessed natural super human agility and super keen senses.  However, each ThunderCat also brought unique skills, powers, and abilities of their own to the table.

 

Lion-O – He is the undisputed Lord of the ThunderCats.  He is a courageous fighter and leader with incredible strength, speed, and endurance.  Armed with his unique Claw-Shield, a formidable gauntlet with many different capabilities, and the legendary Sword of Omens, a magical blade that can deflect and project powerful magic and give its wielder “Sight beyond Sight,” a precognitive vision, Lion-O is a mighty warrior capable of defeating nearly any foe.  However, on that rare occasion when even he is overwhelmed, Lion-O can use the Sword of Omens to summon the other ThunderCats to his side.

 

Cheetara – She possesses the ability to accelerate to blinding levels of speed.  She is also a master with a Bo staff.

 

Panthro – He possesses immense super human strength matched only by his keen intellect.  Panthro is a master of martial arts and the Nunchaku, and he is a master engineer and tech savvy.  He is pretty much to the ThunderCats what Beast is to the X-Men.

 

Tigra – He also possesses a keen scientific mind, but don’t let the smarts fool you, armed with a three-pronged whip and the ability to disappear into the surroundings around him, Tigra is a fierce adversary.   

 

Wily Kit and Kat – This brother and sister team are the masters of chaos and mayhem.  Their pouches are full all sorts of gimmicks, tricks, and traps that bewilder, baffle, and trip up their enemies.  They have mastered the art of getting into and out of trouble.

 

Snarf – This lovable little worrywart is the self-appointed conscience of the group.  He spends his days and nights trying to make sure Lion-O is heading down the right path to become a just and good monarch.    

 

Jaga – Much like Obi-Wan Kenobi to Luke Skywalker, Jaga’s influence and wisdom reaches out to guide Lion-O even from beyond the grave in the form of a ghostly apparition.        

 

The ThunderCats was must watch television for a young Odinson.  I even enjoyed the other animated show set in the same universe – SilverHawks.  Though we didn’t have the amazing comic book dominated movies and TV of now, the 80s had their own super heroes.  In recent years, an updated version of the show has hit the airwaves.  Plus, in recent years, DC Comics has revitalized properties like Masters of the Universe and IDW has done wonderful things with GI Joe, Transformers, and My Little Pony.  I believe it’s time for the mighty ThunderCats to make a triumphant return to the four color medium and beyond.                 

 

Here’s to you, ThunderCats!  Happy 30th Anniversary!  The Odinson was, is, and will always be a big fan.

 

This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

 

No CommentsTags: Comics · Pop Culture · Television

Top 10 Breaking Bad Heroes: Part 2

January 30, 2015 · No Comments

Greetings from the Odinson,

 

The Punisher, Magneto, and the Sub-Mariner are by no stretch of the imagination what one would traditionally call a hero, but they are not evil men either.  They are Anti-Heroes, those that walk the tightrope between good and bad constantly pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable one way or another.  When they act out and cross that line it is almost expected.  But what about our heroes?  What about those we place all our trust in, those few brave individuals who are running toward the danger when everyone else is running away from it?  What about the Good guys that go BAD?

 

Top 10 Breaking Bad Heroes: Part 2    

 

 5 - Ultimate Reed Richards – When the Ultimate Universe first launched, Ultimate Reed Richards is much like his 616 counterpart.  He is super intelligent, gains the powers of elasticity, and leads the Fantastic Four on many amazing adventures, even saving the world many times.  However, Ultimate Reed’s brain and cosmic ray mutations work a little different as he is constantly evolving and his intelligence is constantly increasing.  This warps his sense of reality and he transforms into an adversary of the heroes of the Ultimate Universe. Even the combine efforts of his former teammates in the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, and the Ultimates are barely able to stop his evil machinations.  In fact, this Reed Richards has become arguably the Ultimate Universe’s greatest super villain.    

 

4 – Jean Grey – Originally teenager Jean Grey was a wallflower, a shy, mild-mannered girl that would blush at even the most harmless flirtation from her fellow students at Xavier’s Institute.  She possessed fantastic mind powers, telepathy and telekinesis, that Professor X helped her master.  However, on that fateful day she crossed paths and merged with the Phoenix Force, Jean Grey’s life was forever change.  Her already great psionic abilities were amplified to unearthly levels.  She became the Phoenix and with her new found might was able to accomplish astounding feats of heroism like repairing the fractured M’Krann Crystal, a device that if left unchecked would have destroyed the cosmos.  However, they say power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and Jean possessed the ultimate power in the universe.  She was soon corrupted and transformed into the Dark Phoenix.  The Dark Phoenix became a twisted force of nature destroying anything in her path, even sucking the life out of a star effectively destroying an entire star system, including an inhabited planet.  It was only through the Herculean efforts of her fellow X-Men, the Shi’ar Empire, and with great sacrifice on Jean’s part that the destructive power of the Dark Phoenix was stopped.  NOTE:  I understand that Marvel History has been reworked in The Return of Jean Grey and it was not Jean Grey that became the Dark Phoenix but actually the Phoenix Force’s proximity of her.  But, in essence it was Jean and it’s what would have happened if the events had played out even with her instead of a stand in.  Aren’t retcons fun? *ugh*        

 

3 - Sarah Kerrigan – Once upon a time, Kerrigan was a Ghost, a super assassin with cloaking tech and uncanny psychic abilities.  Alongside her allies, the Sons of Korhal, she served in a revolution against the Confederacy.  This uprising was set against the backdrop of a three-way war between the terran race, the alien Protoss, and the monstrous zerg.  However, at the fall of Tarsonis, Kerrigan was betrayed by her commanding officer, Arcturus Mengsk, and left for dead as the zerg swarm engulfed the planet.  Then, something most unexpected happened, Kerrigan was not killed by the zerg invasion, instead she was infested and transformed into the Queen of Blades, the undisputed ruler over the vast zerg swarm.  As the Queen of Blades, Kerrigan’s already considerable psionic abilities have been amplified to monstrous levels.  Completely immersed into the zerg and fueled by revenge, the Queen of Blades seeks to wipe out all her terran and Protoss enemies.  The Dark Phoenix may have extinguished a star and obliterated a single life-supporting planet, but The Swarm, under the command of the Queen of Blades, has wiped up dozens of worlds and is responsible for the deaths of untold billions.

 

2 - Hal Jordan – Hal Jordan was chosen by destiny to become a Green Lantern, a member of an intergalactic police force, granted a power ring with limits only curbed by the bearer’s imagination.  Across the cosmos there are hundreds of Lanterns protecting the innocent and defending justice, but Jordan was the bravest, he was the brightest, he was the best.  However, on that fateful day when the alien despot Mongul and the sinister Cyborg-Superman destroy Coast City, faced with the reality that the city and all the people under his protection were annihilated, Jordan went mad.  He destroyed the Green Lantern Corps and absorbed all the power of the Corps into himself becoming the mega powerful Parallax.  In his ill-fated quest for power enough to resurrect his fallen city, Jordan tried to rewrite history in Zero Hour and even teamed up with Thanos, the Mad Titan from another universe.  Though he ultimately found the hero within again and sacrificed his own life to save the Earth in the pages Final Night, and he has since been resurrected and welcomed back into the fold of the Green Lantern Corps he once destroyed, Jordan’s actions as the Parallax have forever left an uneasiness between him and his allies in the Justice League and Green Lantern Corps.    

 

1 - Anakin Skywalker – Found by jedi knight Qui-Gon Jinn on the remote desert world of Tatooine, Anakin Skywalker was believed to be the Chosen One, the jedi that would one day bring balance back to the force.  Though in a roundabout way that was true, it would be a long, hard, gut-wrenching journey.  Under the tutelage of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin became a mighty jedi and a great hero during the infamous Clone Wars.  However, Anakin proved reckless and rash and was seduced by the dark side of the force.  He betrayed the Jedi Order and became Darth Vader.  Vader, backed by the power of the Empire and his ruthless master, the Emperor, hunted down and destroyed the Jedi Order.  Along the way he has murdered women, children, and was even party to the complete and utter annihilation of an entire planet.  He even murdered Obi-Wan Kenobi, the man that was his mentor, his friend, his brother.  Anakin’s fall from grace is one of the most legendary of its kind in the history of popular fiction.  Darth Vader has become synonymous with evil and alongside Hannibal Lecter, the Terminator, and the shark from JAWS will go up on the Mount Rushmore of movie villains.      

 

Honorable Mentions: Angel, Ozymandias, Saruman, Spawn, Scarlet Witch, and Kitiara.

 

One to keep an eye on: Superior Iron Man.

 

Some may have found redemption and made it back to the side of the White Hats, others may still be spiraling down that dark road of sin, but once upon a time they were all heroes.  They were heroes but something happened along the way and they strayed from the righteous path.  These are the Breaking Bad Heroes.   

 

This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

 

No CommentsTags: Comics · Pop Culture

Top 10 Breaking Bad Heroes: Part 1

January 23, 2015 · No Comments

Greetings from the Odinson,

 

Frank Castle, as the Punisher and to avenge the murder of his family, has declared war on all crime.  He carries this out by brutally killing anyone he perceives to be on the wrong side of the law.  He has become judge, jury, and executioner.  Magneto is the mutant Master of Magnetism.  He is also a Holocaust survivor and devout defender of his race and their basic human rights.  However, unlike his friend Charles Xavier, Magneto believes mutants are the rightful inheritors of the world and he would crush the humans for denying mutantkind their right.  Although on occasion saner minds prevail, and Magneto tries to walk a better path as a member of Xavier’s X-Men.  Prince Namor is the fabled Savage Sub-Mariner, a mighty underwater monarch who has tried to destroy humanity almost as often as he has saved it. 

 

The Punisher, Magneto, and the Sub-Mariner are by no stretch of the imagination what one would traditionally call a hero, but they are not evil men either.  They are Anti-Heroes, those that walk the tightrope between good and bad constantly pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable one way or another.  When they act out and cross that line it is almost expected.  But what about our heroes?  What about those we place all our trust in, those few brave individuals who are running toward the danger when everyone else is running away from it?  What about the Good guys that go Bad?

 

Top 10 Breaking Bad Heroes: Part 1     

 

10 - Vision – In the aftermath of an epic battle between the Avengers and Fantastic Four against the Negative Zone despot Annihilus (see Into the Negative Zone), the Vision is left with extensive damages and on the verge of death.  The newest Avenger, Starfox, decides to help the Vision repair his injuries by hooking the android up to ISAAC, a super computer located on Titan, the off world home of an isolated tribe of Eternals.  The Vision is repaired but something is awakened within him and suddenly he gazes upon the world in a different light.  The Vision decides that the only way humanity can move forward is under his guiding hand.  The Vision plots to take over the world.  He maneuvers himself to become team leader and his first act as Chairman is to create the West Coast Avengers.  Though months later this would prove to be a good thing, it was originally a devious ploy to divide the ranks of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes so that his machinations could proceed uninhibited.  The Avengers make their living by stopping would be world conquerors, they just never thought they would be trying to stop one of their own.       

 

9 - Hulk – In the not too distant future, all the heroes and most of humanity is wiped out by nuclear war.  The ultimate survivor, the Hulk, absorbs unearthly amounts of radiation from the fallout and not only does he become more powerful than ever before, his mind becomes twisted with hate, greed, and malevolence.  We first encounter this cruel version of the Jade Giant when the New Incredible Hulk, a Hulk with all the strength plus Bruce Banner’s genius intellect, is brought through time and space to the future to help the remnants of mankind defeat the cruel and wicked tyrant that rules over them with an iron fist.  Here the Hulk comes face-to-face with the Maestro, his sinister future self.  The Maestro is a vicious and cunning adversary, even bragging to his younger self how he has smashed every single would be challenger to his power.  He mocks the younger Hulk, saying his enemies should have brought Thor or the Fantastic Four forward in time saying they would stand a better chance against his might.  The Maestro proves to be one of the Hulk’s most dangerous and villainous foes and most personal, for to this day, every time Banner stares into a mirror and sees the lines on his face getting longer, he sees himself slowly but surely becoming the evil Maestro.     

 

8 – Arthas Menethil – Azeroth is a world of might and magic.  It is a plane divided with vast territories of land constantly being contended for in a never-ending war between the valiant Alliance and the savage Horde.  Trained by the legendary hero Uther the Lightbringer, Arthas was a mighty paladin and heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Lordaeron.  However, in order to save his kingdom from the seemingly unstoppable advance of the Scourge, a never-ending army of undead, Arthas sought ultimate power.  Unfortunately, the immense power that was granted him by the cursed sword, Frostmourne, corrupted his soul and Arthas became the Lich King.  Once the free world’s greatest champion, now Arthas leads the Scourge against his own people and challenges both the Alliance and the Horde for dominance over all of Azeroth.

 

7 - Superman – When the Joker pays Superman a visit, the Man of Steel is tricked into murdering his wife, Lois Lane, and the entire city of Metropolis and all the people under his protection are destroyed in nuclear fire.  Superman is pushed too far and he squashes the Clown Prince of Crime like a bug.  Not even Batman could prevent his grief-stricken friend from doing it.  Having crossed that line, the Last Son of Krypton spirals down a rabbit hole, his sanity and grasp on what is right and wrong begins to unravel.  Superman, followed by a few other loyal members of the Justice League, conquerors the world and takes away the population’s freedom of choice.  It’s simple, live under the Man of Steel’s rules or be eliminated.  This, of course, causes a rift in the super hero community and war is declared with Superman and his army on one side and Batman and his backers on the other.  To illustrate just how far Superman has fallen *SPOILERS AHEAD*, he allies himself with the evil Sinestro and he murders friends and allies including Green Arrow, the Green Lantern Corps, and eventually Captain Marvel in cold blood.  The alternate reality of Injustice: Gods Among Us truly shows us just how scary it would be if the Man of Steel was a bad guy.       

 

6 - Wolverine – When the super assassin, the Gorgon, ambushes and murders Wolverine, Logan is brought back to life by the Hand, a death cult ninja clan, who use their black magic to enslave him and turn Wolverine into the world’s most dangerous super villain.  This new sinister Wolverine begins to murder super powered beings by the dozen.  They are in turn raised from the grave and recruited into the ranks of the Hand’s growing undead army.  No one is safe.  Logan attacks Daredevil, the Fantastic Four, Elektra, and even his own teammates, the X-Men.  It takes the combined efforts of SHIELD and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to wrangle in the world’s most dangerous man.  Logan’s brainwashing is eventually overturned and he is brought back to the side of the White Hats, but for a brief moment in time, Wolverine was the deadliest bad guy in the Marvel Universe.   

 

Those are some pretty hard falls from grace.  Whose turn to the dark side could possibly top this list?  Here’s a hint: one is a genius, one is ghost, one was the greatest of his kind, one may yet rise from the ashes again someday, and one is a fallen hero from a galaxy far, far away.  Tune in next week for the rest of the Odinson’s Breaking Bad Heroes!    

 

This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

No CommentsTags: Comics

Characters with Strikingly Similar Attributes but Nothing in Common

January 16, 2015 · No Comments

NOTE: This week’s column was inspired in part by and dedicated to our own fearless leader - Buddy Saunders.

 

Greetings from the Odinson,

 

To say that the Man of Steel inspired the creation of other comic book super heroes is a titanic understatement.  Not only was he the original, the template by which all others followed, but from Captain Marvel to Hyperion to Icon, dozens upon dozens of homages have been made in his honor.  Another such inspiring character is Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter, the adventurer who, along with Tarzan, laid the groundwork for other pulp heroes like Doc Savage, the Shadow, and the Spider: Master of Men to follow.    

 

Superman and John Carter – Two men from different worlds that adopt homes to protect from the forces of evil.  Kal-El was sent to Earth by his scientist father when his homeworld of Krypton was destroyed.  His adopted world’s lighter gravity grants him incredible super human strength and allows him to leap tall buildings in a single bound.  John Carter was an officer in the American Civil War that suddenly finds himself transported to the red sands of Mars where the lighter gravity grants him incredible super human strength and the ability to leap great distances.  As Clark Kent, Kal-El is a mild-mannered reporter raised in the mid-West with downhome family values.  As Superman he is in a relationship with Wonder Woman, an Amazon Princess, and he is a champion for truth, justice, and the American Way. On Earth, John Carter is an ex-soldier, a simple southern man seeking his fortune in gold.  On Mars, he is the consort of Dejah Thoris, a beautiful, exotic princess, and he is her champion against alien oppressors.  These two men are legendary heroes with a lot of similarities and a lot in common.   

 

It’s easy to find similarities in characters that have so much in common, characters like Swamp Thing and Man-Thing (they are both Swampmen), the Sub-Mariner and Black Adam (they are both hot headed anti-hero/villain monarchs with pointy ears), and the Flash and Quicksilver (they both run really, really fast).  But, what about characters that have physical similarities but nothing else in common?

 

Characters with Strikingly Similar Attributes but Nothing in Common

 

Ghost Rider and The Atomic Skull – They both have flaming skulls for domes, but that’s where the similarities end.  Johnny Blaze was a stuntman that in order to save the life of a loved one struck a deal with the devil and became the supernatural repo man of lost souls and the Spirit of Vengeance for those that have been wronged by them!   The Atomic Skull was a man transformed by super science into a powerhouse that emits deadly amounts of radiation and can project devastating brain-blasts.  

 

The Human Torch and The Dread Dormammu – This one makes the Odinson laugh.  When I was a child in the late 70s and very early 80s, just starting out my foray into the worlds of comics, I had no idea who the Dread Dormammu was but I would see pictures of him pop up from time to time.  In my young mind, because of their very similar looks, I concocted an Empire Strikes Back-like backstory that he was in fact the evil father of the Fantastic Four’s Johnny Storm.  The way these two characters were drawn in the Silver and Bronze Age, they looked like they had the same exact face and flaming head.  So, a young neophyte Odinson could only assume they were related.  How surprising to eventually find out that one was the lord and master of a demonic dark dimension and the other was just a wisecracking teenager who loved to give lovable ole Ben Grimm a hotfoot.   

 

Captain America and The Guardian – These men are both products of a bygone era.  They both wield mighty shields for justice and had sidekicks (Bucky and the Newsboy Legion) that grew up to become notable cogs in their comic universes (The Winter Soldier and Project Cadmus), but that is where the similarities end.  Jim Harper was a 1940s Metropolis police officer that decided to become a masked vigilante.  Decades later his mind was transferred from his old, dying body into a young, vital cloned body so that he could continue the fight for justice in the modern world.  Steve Rogers was a meek volunteer who was transformed into a super soldier.  He fought in World War II.  He was frozen and decades later reawakened in the modern era where he now leads Earths Mightiest Heroes in a never-ending battle against injustice.    

 

Hawkman and Angel – They both have birdlike wings, but that is where the similarities between these two high-flying heroes end.  Katar Hol is an intergalactic police officer armed with powerful armor and melee weapons powered by alien technology and he possesses the training, physically enhanced strength, and sour demeanor to use them.  Warren Worthington III was born a mutant, the next evolutionary step for mankind.  He was trained by Professor X, his physical skills honed to a razor’s edge in the infamous Danger Room, and alongside his fellow X-Men, he strives to protect a world that fears and hates him.

 

Venom and Spawn – They both have symbiotic suits that act like a second skin and grant them unearthly powers and abilities, but that is where the similarities end.  Eddie Brock was a disenfranchised photographer with a misguided grudge against rival photographer Peter Parker who bonded with the alien symbiote that Spider-Man had cast aside when it tried to take control of him, and like a jilted lover, the alien symbiote also holds a grudge.  Brock and the symbiote formed a bond and became the Lethal Protector, a sometimes villain, sometimes anti-hero known as Venom.  Al Simmons, a government assassin that was betrayed and murdered by those he worked for, made a deal with the devil and has now returned as the supernatural warrior known as Spawn.  Spawn struggles to find a place in a world of mobsters, monsters, serial killers, cyborg-assassins, and a war between Heaven and Hell.

 

OMAC and Gladiator – They both are immensely powerful beings sporting magnificent mohawks, but that is where the similarities end.  In the future, Buddy Blank, the One Man Army Corps, is empowered with super human strength, speed, and endurance and helps keep the peace in a world constantly teetering on the brink of chaos.  Kallark is the Praetor of the Shi’ar Imperial Guard, an elite fighting force comprised of powerful alien beings from around the galaxy that serve as bodyguards for the Shi’ar monarchy and protect the Empire’s interests at home and abroad.      

 

Captain Marvel and Doc Samson – I include these two on the list because guys with lightning bolts on their chests are super cool.  Other than this very superficial similarity, these two heroes really have absolutely nothing in common.  When teenager Billy Batson utters the magical word SHAZAM he is transformed by a bolt of lightning into the earthly avatar of Olympian might, a super hero with powers and abilities to rival the Man of Steel himself.  Leonard Samson was transformed by Gamma radiation into a super human adventurer with a fraction of the Hulk’s incredible strength but kept all of his human intelligence.  Samson possesses immense guilt over Bruce Banner’s plight and has made it his lifelong quest to cure the man of his curse.  Samson also is a working psychiatrist whose clients include She-Hulk and members of X-Factor.     

 

Doctor Solar and Cyclops - These were the two guys that got me thinking about a list like this in the first place.  They both wear super cool, very distinct Devo-like visors, but that is where the similarities end.  Solar was a scientist that was transformed by a nuclear accident into a man with astonishing atomic powers!  Doctor Solar is one of the most powerful super heroes in the comic book multiverse.  Scott Summers was the first X-Man, born with the incredible ability to project beams of immense destructive force from his eyes.  This sets him apart from his fellow man.  He fights alongside the X-Men to protect mankind and fight for mutant equality and rights.

 

From John Carter, the hero that launched the Pulp Age of Adventure, and Superman, the hero that launched the Golden Age of Comics and the Age of the Modern Day Super Hero, two characters with a great deal in common to Doctor Solar and Cyclops, two of the most uniquely identifiable comic book characters in history, headliners of a list of characters with strikingly similar attributes but never-the-less characters with very little else in common, this is the Odinson’s tribute to inspiration.  Inspiration creates similarities, big and small, and it creates great ideas.  Ideas are the driving force behind our beloved medium and without inspiration there can be no ideas.        

 

This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

No CommentsTags: Comics

The Odinson’s 2014 The Year in Review - Part 1: The Comics

December 26, 2014 · No Comments

Greetings from the Odinson,

 

It’s time for Odinson’s 2014: The Year in Review!

 

Part 1: The Comics

 

Avengers and the X-Men: Axis – The diabolical Red Skull possesses the unparalleled telepathic powers of the deceased Charles Xavier (see Uncanny Avengers: The Red Shadow).  The Avengers/X-Men unity team was barely able to stop him.  Now, the arch fiend has returned and this time he has evolved into the nigh unstoppable form of Onslaught!  All appears lost as the united teams of Avengers and X-Men are unable to match Red Skull’s new found might.  This causes Magneto to assemble a team of villains that includes Enchantress, Sabretooth, Doctor Doom and more in order to mount a comeback.  The psychic backlash of Skull’s defeat causes a highly unusual change in all that were present at the battle.  The Marvel U is turned upside down as heroes become villainous and villains become heroic.  The story allows creators to tell distinctly different stories with characters that would not normally act thus, but in the end, Axis just rings hollow as a “Big Event” that really has nowhere to go.  Odinson Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5 Hammers  

 

Batman Eternal – Not since the second and third movies of The Matrix Trilogy, Reloaded and Revolutions, has the Odinson been so thoroughly satisfied and utterly disappointed at the same time with a piece of popular fiction.  With an assembled creative team of All-Stars, this weekly series has the potential to be really great.  For the first ten to fifteen issues, Eternal really pays off.  The story begins at the climax of the tale with the Dark Knight crucified and forced to watch as the city he has sworn to protect burns!  It flashes back to the beginning where Commissioner Gordon is framed for the murders of an entire subway full of civilians.  Batman and his allies race against the clock to solve the mystery of who is really behind the catastrophe and clear the name of Jim Gordon.  Things get really complicated as foes from the past return to add to the chaos.  However, the story takes a decidedly strange turn when suddenly this murder mystery turns into supernatural horror story with a zombie outbreak at Arkham Asylum.  This part of the story is a little mottled involving Killer Croc, Batwing, the Joker’s Daughter, and the Spectre.  However, as the story heads toward the finish line, I am looking forward to the end and finding out just who is behind everything.  Batman Eternal is a great mystery with a weird detour into the supernatural that hopefully will right itself before the final page is turned.  Odinson Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 Hammers - (Though the score may be higher depending on the ending.)             

 

Spider-Verse – I am thoroughly enjoying this tale that teams up every single version of Spider-Man from across the multiverse!  Morlun the nigh unstoppable vampire-like creature has returned and this time he is not alone.  His entire family is systematically going from universe to universe and murdering all the Spider-Men throughout the multiverse.  Peter Parker is joined by Ultimate Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2099, Spider-Man Noir, Spider-Girl, Spider-Woman, Spider-Man 1966, Captain Universe Spider-Man, Gwen Stacy Spider-Girl, Scarlet Spider, Silk, Superior Spider-Man and more in order to draw a line in the sand and make a last stand!  The Odinson’s heart was broken as Morlun destroyed a part of his childhood when he murdered Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.  As more and more heroes fall in battle, time is running out as the United Spider-Men try desperately to find a way to stop unbeatable foes.  Odinson Rating: 4 out of 5 Hammers  

 

Fire and Stone – This is one crossover event that truly delivers.  Dark Horse Comics uses elements from Aliens, Predator, and Prometheus and weave a sci-fi/horror/mystery that revolves around the infamous planet known as LV-223.  Four mini-series – Aliens, Predator, Aliens vs. Predator, and Prometheus follow different avenues but they all intersect and cross paths to create a many layered story that is begging to be adapted to the Big Screen.   Odinson Rating: 4 out of 5 Hammers       

 

Batman: Zero Year – Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo keep adding to their stellar run on the Caped Crusader.  This time around they explore the year when Bruce Wayne was very first trying to find his way and discover the hero he would eventually grow into.  They pit a neophyte Batman against the diabolical machinations of the deviously cunning Riddler.  Snyder’s scripts are full of great characterization and page-turning suspense and I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it many times again – Greg Capullo was born to drawn the adventures of the Caped Crusader.   Odinson Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 Hammers              

 

The Buffyverse – In Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10, the Scooby Gang returns to Sunny Dale where they fight against impossible odds to prevent a monstrous demon from ascending out of the Hellmouth.  This tale just reeked of “been there done that.”  In Buffy’s own words – “How many times can one town be destroyed?”  Meanwhile, over in Angel and Faith Season 10, the vampire with a soul has a showdown with Amy the Witch in Magic Town and Faith goes on a quest in South America where she will come face-to-face with Riley.  As anyone who has seen the fourth season of the TV show knows, these two have a turbulent history.  There’s good to be had from the ongoing Buffyverse but the creators really need to step it up because it’s not blowing my hair back.  Odinson Rating: 3 out of 5 Hammers

 

The Armor Hunters – An elite group of assassins from beyond the stars, a team of killers that specializes in the destruction of Manowar Armors, has arrived on Earth and not even the combined might of Unity, Harbingers, X-O Manowar, and Bloodshot may be able to stop them!  Valiant delivers with this high octane companywide crossover.  Odinson Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 Hammers

 

Death of Wolverine – Oh, boy! Yet another death of a super hero story.  In many ways, this particular storytelling device legitimizes Logan as an A-List hero in the pantheon of super heroes. The Odinson’s biggest beef with this tale is not how he met his end.  Actually, I found it to be pretty original and interesting.  No, my problem with the death of Wolverine is with the circumstances leading up to it and the revelation surrounding the ultimate one responsible for it.  It just didn’t resonate with me and I felt the execution of this story could have been better.  As a Wolverine fan, Death of Wolverine is worth a read, but as a long time comics fan, I really don’t see this story having long lasting resonance.  Odinson Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5 Hammers 

 

2014 was certainly a rocky road of hit and misses for the comic companies.  Hopefully 2015 with the conclusions to Batman Eternal, Spider-Verse, and Batman: Endgame and the upcoming Big Events – Secret Wars and Convergence – comics can make a big comeback.  Be here next week when the Odinson is sure to get some cheers (and jeers) for his 2014 the Year in Review: Movies and Television.  

 

This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

No CommentsTags: Comics

What is the Odinson Reading?

December 05, 2014 · No Comments

Greetings from the Odinson,

 

One of the hardest decisions a comic collector will have to make is which titles to spend their hard earned shekels on.  From food to gas to, yes, even comic books, the cost of living has risen greatly over the years.  When I was a kid, twenty dollars in a comic store was like being a shark in the pool at the local YMCA – all you can eat, baby!  These days, a weekly budget of twenty dollars for comics doesn’t go nearly as far as it once did.  So, a reader has to be a bit more frugal in their spending and try and get the most bang for their buck. 

 

So, this week the Odinson has come up with a short list of can’t miss titles that are well worth your time and money.    

 

What is the Odinson Reading?

 

Saga (Image) – Saga is William Shakespeare’s Rome and Juliet meets Star Wars.  This is a fugitive tale.  It’s a love story.  It’s an allegory for racism and social classes.  It’s a commentary on war.  And, it’s all set against a fantastical science fiction backdrop.  The scripts by Brian K. Vaughan (Y the Last Man, Runaways) provide completely fleshed out characters that the reader cannot help but care for and wonder what will happen to them next, and Fiona Staples (Jonah Hex, North 40) is at the height of her visual storytelling powers with this series.  The pacing of the story is akin to great television and the Odinson can’t wait to see where the journey takes our intrepid cast of characters. 

 

Fire and Stone (Dark Horse) – An Aliens/Prometheus/Predator crossover event sounds like a no brainer, but in light of lack luster movie sequels (Alien 3, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem) and the absolutely awful prequel (Prometheus), my expectations for this event were lukewarm at best.  The All-Star creative teams of this series have crafted an engrossing, spellbinding tale of survival revolving around the mysterious and infamous planet designated LV-223.  Four separate mini-series tell an intertwining tale that pits mankind’s need for survival and baser needs of greed against the galaxy’s ultimate survivors, the savage Xenomorphs, the galaxy’s ultimate hunters, the Predators, and the galaxy’s ultimate enigma, the Engineers.  Fire and Stone takes the best parts of Ridley Scott’s Alien and James Cameron’s Aliens mixes them with the best themes of Predator and Predators and seasons the pot with the usable bits from Prometheus and presents a story that the Odinson hopes to one day see on the Big Screen.    

 

Godzilla: Cataclysm (IDW) – This series is, admittedly, a guilty pleasure.  I grew up going to the Saturday morning matinees and watching marathons featuring Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, Godzilla vs. Mothra, and King Kong vs. Godzilla.  So, it should come as no surprise that this tale would be right up my alley.  The story is set in the future, in the aftermath of the Monster Apocalypse, the landscape of planet Earth has been cast in ruin.  Once great cities, sprawling skylines that were testaments to human achievement, are now demolished tombstones of the world that once was.  It has been many years since the last of the great leviathans have been seen and the very few humans left alive try to make their way in this harsh new world.  However, events are set in motion that wake the sleeping giants and the kaiju return.  Is this truly the end of all mankind or does one man’s memories hold the key for survival? 

 

Batman (DC Comics) – Yes, yes, I know that saying Batman is a Must Read is no stretch but I really want to stress the MUST READ of what this series has become.  The Odinson grew up with classic Bat-Runs that include Denny O’Neil and Neil Adams, Roger Marshall, Jim Aparo, and Doug Moench and Kelley Jones.  I was there when Frank Miller completely defined the character with The Dark Knight Returns and Year One.  And, I was there when the Bat-God was born in the pages of Grant Morrison and Howard Porter’s JLA.  Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s current New 52 run, the definite cream of the crop for DC’s re-launch, stands head-and-shoulders with any of these great Batman runs in comics history.  Every story arc from the mind of Snyder – The Court of Owls, The Death of the Family, Zero Year, and Endgame – becomes an instant classic, and Greg Capullo was absolutely born to draw the Caped Crusader.  This run has instantly thrust Capullo into the discussion for Top 5 Bat-Artists of All-Time!    

 

New Avengers by Jonathan Hickman (Marvel) – In 2006, comic fans were introduced to the Illuminati, a clandestine group of heroes who have been pulling the strings of the Marvel Universe from the shadows.  They have secretly influenced major events like the Kree/Skrull War, Beyonder, Infinity Gauntlet, Planet Hulk, and the Civil War among others.  However, their overall role in the Big Picture of things really took a leap forward with the launch of Marvel Now!  A mysterious power is causing worlds to collide and the multiverse is systematically destroying itself.  The Illuminati, after exhausting all options, is left with one choice – survival.  It’s a heavy cross to bear - for the 616 to live, other worlds must die. 

 

This is an option that Captain America is unwilling to take.  The Sentinel of Liberty believes there is always a better way, but the other members of the Illuminati betray him and take from him the one thing he holds most important above all other things – free will.  Under the behest of Iron Man, Cap’s mind is tampered with and his memories erased.  This is not the first time this has happened (see Marvel Comics 1998 Annual).  This act will come back to haunt them.

 

The stakes continue to rise as the Illuminati’s ability to stave off annihilation grows ever slimmer with each Incursion.  It all comes to a head during The Great Society arc.  In this chapter, the Marvel U collides with a very DC-like universe and the differences between Marvel’s complicated, cup-half-empty heroes and DC’s altruistic, cup-half-full heroes is made quite clear.  It’s a truly heart-breaking tale where one world dies and the Odinson, as a lifelong Marvel fan, isn’t even sure it was the right one.  This leads Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner to leave the group and enlist the aid of a cadre of supervillains that includes Thanos and his zealots to make decisions no hero can possibly make with a clear conscious.  However, things begin to spiral even further down the hole.

 

In the Aftermath of Original Sin, Captain America regains his memories and the Illuminati become hunted fugitives (see Time Runs Out).  Throw on top of this the cosmic mystery unfolding in Jim Starlin’s Thanos Saga and the announcement of next year’s multiverse Secret Wars event and it cannot be denied that the Marvel Universe is headed toward big changes.   I have my theories (see Is the Marvel Universe Headed Toward a Crisis?! and More Clues for a Marvel Crisis…).

 

Jonathan Hickman and his team of artists for the last two years have weaved an epic tale with complicated moral decisions and a fingernail-biting pace that makes the Odinson feel like it’s all leading somewhere big.  New Avengers by Jonathan Hickman is presently the best book coming out of the House of Ideas.

 

Honorable Mention:

 

The Multiversity: Pax Americana – Grant Morrison with his Multiversity tale is working on yet another multilayered, mind-blowing tale that proves yet again that the man is way ahead of his time.  But I want to focus on the issue titled Pax Americana.  In this issue, Morrison tells a Watchmen-like mystery using the Charlton Heroes that the Watchmen were originally based on.  It’s a real nice look into what could have been if Alan Moore had got to use these characters as he had originally planned to do back in 1985.   

 

These are the comics on the Odinson’s pull list.  What comics and storylines are you enjoying? 

 

This is Odinson bidding thee farewell  

 

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The Odinson's Top 5 JLA/JSA Crossovers

November 28, 2014 · No Comments

Greetings from the Odinson,

 

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is the meat in the sandwich which is the Holiday Season that begins with Halloween and ends with Christmas.  This time of year brings about many traditions – Trick-or-Treat, turkey dinner, mistletoe, etc.  Comics History is not without its own traditions.  One of the greatest traditions in comics is the annual JLA/JSA Team-Up.  

 

In the landscape of modern day comics, fans have become used to annual big story events that bring together the greatest heroes in the universe, events like Axis and Forever Evil.  It is true that Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars is the Grandfather of Big Event stories and Crisis on Infinite Earths is the event that set the standard for what these events would and should be, but it was the annual crossovers featuring the World’s Greatest Super-Heroes and the World’s First Super Team that started it all.     

 

It all started in the summer of 1963, right in the heart of the Silver Age of Comics.  Justice League of America #21 marked the first meeting of the World’s Greatest Super-Heroes of Earth-1 and their Golden Age predecessors of Earth-2.  The Flash of Two Worlds may have been the birth of the DC multiverse, but this titanic team-up marked the birth of the annual Big Event!  These are the events that feature a threat too big for any single hero, major adventures that will feature a gathering of heroes so titanic that the tale becomes a Must Read. 

 

Top 5 JLA/JSA Crossovers

 

Crisis on Earth 2 & 3 – In this inaugural Crisis, a cadre of villains from two worlds concoct a diabolical plan to switch Earths and commit crimes on different worlds.  The villains from Earth 2 imprison the Justice League who mystically contact their Earth-2 counterparts, and through various team-ups, take out their villainous adversaries.  Soon afterwards, the Justice League and Justice Society come face-to-face with their evil doppelgangers of Earth-3, the Crime Syndicate of Amerika!  Yes, the same sinister evil-doers behind the recent event - Forever Evil. 

 

In Search of the Seven Soldiers of Victory – During this suspenseful team-up, the JLA and JSA assemble to solve the mystery of a missing group of legendary heroes scattered throughout time.  And, in order to stop the world-threatening evil, one hero will have to make the ultimate sacrifice!  It is easy to see that Modern Master Grant Morrison is a real fan of these classic team-ups.  They not only inspired his entry on this very list, but they also inspired his epic Final Crisis and ground-breaking tale The Seven Soldiers of Victory. 

 

Crisis in Eternity – This crossover begins when the barbaric conqueror from the past, King Kull, imprisons the wizard, SHAZAM, and his power within the Rock of Eternity.  The JLA and JSA set out to stop him, but things go downhill real fast when the ruthless man-brute uses Red Kryptonite to turn the Man of Steel against his allies.  As the heroes begin to fall before the unparalleled might of the Last Son of Krypton, only one hero remains that may be able to turn the tide of battle – Captain Marvel! 

 

Crisis Times Five – In this Post-Crisis, modern take on the annual JLA/JSA Crossover, Earth is invaded by the immeasurably powerful beings that inhabit the 5th Dimension!  That’s right, the homeland of Superman’s mischievous little nemesis, Mr. Mxyzptlk, cause a planet wide crisis.  Not only did this Grant Morrison and Howard Porter masterpiece renew the annual JLA/JSA Crossover, but it also brought comic book’s first super team out of retirement and set the stage for the classic take on these classic heroes in the pages of JSA by Geoff Johns! 

 

The Thanksgiving Story – This particular annual JLA/JSA crossover is the Odinson’s personal favorite.  Not only does it feature a particularly unique take on the team-up, it also features an extremely eye-catching cover by Carlos Pacheco (Avengers Forever, Superman/Batman).  In the quiet follow up to the previous year’s harrowing Virtue and Vice caper, the World’s Greatest Super Heroes and DC Comics First Super Team take a moment to relax and celebrate Thanksgiving.  It’s a humorous and character-driven piece where the entertainment comes from the interactions between the different and oft times polarizing personalities of these two premiere super teams.  The absolute gold comes when a revenge-seeking villain plots an ill-fated attack on his enemies.  As the villain suddenly appears amongst the gathered heroes and boldly declares his vile intentions, he quickly realizes his mistake as he stares out at not just one team of legendary heroes, but two. 

 

It’s a great issue and a great way to cap off this look at the long, distinguished run of classic annual JLA/JSA Crossovers.

 

This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

 

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