Monday, November 29, 2010

Stupid Weaknesses

Ok, so you have this really cool hero who has a load of awesome powers, but then something comes along and hurts them. It's that pesky weakness they have to worry about. Superman has his Kryptonite, but there are a lot of other weaknesses that are a lot dumber than a space rock.

1. Fire

Martian Manhunter is considered the "Superman" type character of the JLA whenever Supes isn't around. He's strong, can fly, walks through walls, can change shape, and is really smart. He's from Mars, and oh yeah, he's dropped by fire.

Fire! Why? What is it about fire that can drop this super-alien? It's never been explained away.

So picture this: an apartment building is on fire and suddenly you see this blue streak blazing toward you. You're saved! Nope, it's the green guy who can lift buildings, walk through walls, and change are officially dead mean unless Batman's in the area.

2. Lead

Appreciating the fact that lead flying from the barrel of a gun can kill just about anyone, you would think that someone with Superman's powerset would be impervious to bullets. Not so with Mon-El.

This poor soul can't stop a robbery in progress unless they are brandishing knives or ray guns. Imagine that, you spend all your money on the latest technological weapons, and someone finally does him in with a .38.

He's recently come back to the DC universe and helped Superman for a while during Supes' absence, but the fact remains he started out with being helpless and pretty much useless for a while.

3. Your Own Name

If you're looking for stupid weaknesses, I honestly can't think of one any worse than this.

You swoop in, save the day, stop the supervillain, and when folks ask you who you are, you can't answer them without turning into a normal guy again. Too stupid to be true? Nope, that's Captain Marvel Jr.

He may have stepped into the role of Shazam and become the true Captain Marvel now, but there for a while you have to admit it sucked for him. Why he didn't choose a different name, I'll never know. Why screaming "Captain Marvel" changed him while the rest of the Marvel family yelled "Shazam!" I'll never know. It just all added up to a rather strange dilemma for the guy.

4. Wood

I know this one doesn't count anymore, but for a while there this one was a problem for Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern. I never understood why the color yellow messed up Hal Jordan, but wood just doesn't make sense at all.

In a much later story, they revealed that Scott's weakness to wood was psychological because he got knocked on the head during his first outing and gave himself the weakness.

I also know the Green Lantern Corps are no longer weak to yellow, but think about this: for a while you could have defeated every Green Lantern out there (including Alan Scott) with a yellow baseball bat. Scary!

5. Hunger

You are the Devourer of Worlds. You hold the Power Cosmic. You are gigantic. And you are always hungry!

Galactus has to constantly go from planet to planet, eating them as he goes along. If he doesn't find a suitable one in time, he will starve to death and die.

So here's the big question: what happens when he finally eats all the suitable planets in the universe? So, in essence, he's actually killing himself with every planet he eats.

Comic gotta love 'em!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers! Enjoy the turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce and we'll see you back on Monday!

- Brian and Khris

Oh, and here's the obligatory visit from Captain Thanksgiving this year!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Okay, well in my last post I talked about the large metallic figure at the end of the Thor trailer and referred to it as the Dreadnought but I WAS WRONG! OOPS!

Apparently this is The Destroyer which has been a Thor villain for a long time. So ignore that whole rant about Hydra…I didn't do enough homework. Sorry guys, I'll do better next time.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Clash of the Titans

Summer 2011 looks like it's shaping up to be an incredible battle for your attention as well as your 3D glasses. With new photos from Captain America and the recent release of the first teaser trailer for Green Lantern my eyes have been glued to my computer screen hoping to see that justice is served to some of the most beloved comic book heroes of all time. Today we're going to look at the big three movies contending for comic glory this summer: Thor, Captain America, and the Green Lantern.

First up to bat, THOR.

The Mighty Son of Odin slams onto the silver screen in May with a toy line promising a battle between the god of thunder and a frost giant! Other than the trailer that came out a few months ago we really haven't heard much from this original member of the Avengers.

From what we can see in the trailer the movie looks like it will take the original story and add a little hollywood twist. In the comics Thor's alter ego (well, more of a host) would take over if he was away from his hammer for an extended period of time. The movie looks like its going more with the ultimates story on this in that he stays Thor at all times but is just less powerful without his Hammer. The story overall looks like it will leave a lot of room for epic battles between multiple mythical beings as well as the guardians of Asgard.

One thing that really seemed out of place was the final scene of the trailer where we see something very closely resembling a Hydra Dreadnought attacking some S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. We know that Hydra is the villainous organization set as he antagonists of the Captain America movie (pretty much an evil SHIELD) so is this a hint of a tie-in? Will we see a battle between Marvel's two massive agencies and the ultimate setup for the Avengers movie? On the cast list for the Avengers we do seeTom Hiddleston who is playing Loki in Thor so I wouldn't be surprised if they do try to segway was us to the Avengers at the end of Thor.

One way or another the movie looks like it will be entertaining and worth a watch. I'm personally a Thor fan and will show up opening day captivated from the first lightening bolt…I mean pumped for some frost giant butt-kicing!

Next up, Captain America: The First Avenger

Well we don't have as much to go on with this one.  With no trailer and only a few production shots to clue us in on the details a lot is left to the imagination for Cap. We can see from the pictures that he will appear in both the original WWII costume as well as a revamped modern costume that most closely resembles the ultimate costume.

We've yet to see anything to do with the Red Skull other than a picture of a very evil looking Hugo Weaving in a Hydra costume with a very disgusted look on his face (probably because he caught a glimpse of his hair cut and evil elf edition of the hydra garb).

Not really much is certain about the Captain America movie but it does look like they'll at least try to still close to the comics. I think seeing the success of the Iron Man franchise and how close it was to the comics gave Marvel a revelation. Hopefully they'll keep to this trend with the new Spiderman movie they're working on!

I'm thinking the movie will largely consist of his battles in WWII but will deal with his reanimation after being frozen in the polar ice caps for a few decades and culminate with an epic battle between him and the Red Skull in modern times. If I were doing it I would have Mark Ruffalo (the new Bruce Banner) be the one working on his reanimation like they had it set up in the Ultimates animated movie a few years ago just to re-introduce us to the character with the new actor.

Undoubtedly they'll end it with a huge arrow pointing to the 2012 release of the Avengers and we'll all be sitting and waiting through the credits for a Hawkeye  cameo.

Last but most definitely not least is DC's edition to the party, the Green Lantern!

Okay, I have to be completely honest in saying that when i first saw the Entertainment Weekly Cover featuring the costume for the movie I was extremely worried. He was Solid Green! Green Lantern wasn't Solid Green! But after the release of the new trailer I was reassured.

The Costume looks much better in motion and other Green Lanterns such as Tomar Re and Kilowog having quick cameos giving me a stronger hope for the visual aspects of the movie.

The trailer looks great and actually seeing the Green Lantern fly and use his ring honestly made my heart race. I'm a HUGE GL fan and was very worried about how he would be portrayed on the big screen. So far it looks like we won't disappointed and I for one will probably be waiting in line for a midnight showing decked out in all my GL merch wearing at least one ring and giddily smiling, holding my 3D glasses and hopped up on Starbucks.

Like I said, all the other aliens look fantastic and Hector Hammond is quite scary but the shining light of hope and all things awesome in the whole thing was Sinestro!

That's right, I just called Sinestro a "shining light of hope and all things awesome". I mean, look at him! Other than a few costume changes he looks like he was pulled straight from the pages for an issue of Green Lantern Corps. I literally paused the trailer on this frame and just stared. He looks great.

Overall I think the movie will be great and can't wait to see it….like probably 3 times….maybe 12….okay an even 10 sounds fair, right?

Well that pretty much sums up my first thoughts on the coming summer blockbusters! I hope you enjoyed this little look into my head and my first post as a co-blogger! Feel free to give me your thoughts on any of the movies or on anything I might have missed. Dad will be back next week with your Monday post as I work on something with a little more of a classic comic flair. I leave you now with the Green Lantern trailer and the wishes of a great week!


Friday, November 19, 2010

Can Anyone Explain...

Look, I'm a huge fan of Batman (my toy...excuse me--action figure collection is beyond massive) and when I heard Neal Adams was heading up a 12-issue storyline again I was beyond stoked. He's one of my favorite Batman artists out there, and his artwork brought a realism to the character that's...unreal.

Then I started reading it. Now I feel like someone is playing a joke on me somewhere.

Ok, I'm 6 issues into the series so far and I still have no idea what's going on. I don't see an "Elseworlds" title on there anywhere, but we have a Mexican Bruce Wayne who uses guns and gets shot every...single...issue, we have a Man-Bat who is a drug addict with an even larger Man-Bat bully in his life, and Robin is just weird.

What in the world is going on here? Batman never uses guns, and doesn't seem to be anything like the character currently being portrayed. It doesn't fit into any timeline I've seen before, and I don't understand the significance of any of this stuff.

What am I missing? This isn't a rant post or anything, I am genuinely asking for someone to explain this storyline to me!

Comment away...

Monday, November 15, 2010

How To Fix Marvel - Epilogue...The Story They Should Tell

To finish out my look at how to fix Marvel (and Reg asked what I'd do with DC, which is a whole 'nother story), I wanted to present my basic storyline for 24 issues of a Marvel title that I think could really bring Marvel out a bit, and it would help fix a B-list character they've messed up since his first appearance: The Sentry.

Yes, I've mentioned this character a lot, but now Marvel has set the stage for a way to combine the best of the two hottest selling independent titles out there, with a sprinkling of DC's "Elseworlds" and Marvel's "What If?", but keeping it all based in Marvel's current reality.

Quick recap of where Marvel is now: The Sentry is dead. During the "Dark Avengers" storyline that led into "Seige", Norman Osborn gradually manipulated him to the point where he finally snapped and became this evil incarnate that finally had to be killed by Thor. The world is terrified of him returning (witnessed in the "Hawkeye" limited series where Bullseye told the guards Sentry wasn't dead and it scared them to death). Remember, Marvel had originally set him up as the most powerful hero in their universe, then Quesada realized he didn't know how to write a comic book with a Superman-type character, so he gave him the "dark side" to hide behind. So here we go...

In the first eight issues, we have the return of the Sentry (no one in comics stays dead forever). But this time, we allow him to return without the dark "Void" crap that Marvel has clung onto from the beginning (never ever ever to return to this character again). Now we just have Bob Reynolds, a hero very sorry for what he's done and desperately wanting to have the chance to make up for it. Unfortunately, the world has seen this evil side and is terrified of him, unwilling to trust him. He must now justify himself. Even the other heroes won't trust him and want him dead!

Imagine this, we combine the concepts of Boom! Studios "Irredeemable" and "Incorruptible" by having the superhero who turns evil and kills his friends (remember Aries?), but then has a change of heart and wants to do right while the world is afraid of him. All of this, while staying in Marvel's current reality! A mainstream comic that is about redemption rather than one constant death after another!

During the second, fourth, and seventh issues, we see very quick one-page inserts of various alien warriors being abducted by some powerful force calling their name and saying "You are needed." All of this will come into play later in the storyline.

At the end of the eighth issue, Sentry goes into outer space to seek refuge because the world is terrified of him. For the next eight issues, Sentry finds planets that hail him as a hero because of how he helps them. But then at the same time there are worlds that have heard of him as the Void and fear him. Eventually we have several very cosmic fights as Sentry faces Gladiator of the Shi'ar and even has a rematch with Terrax.

Throughout this 8-issue arch, Sentry begins to slowly atone for what the Void made him do. He doesn't blame himself completely for what happened, and instead is able to realize he needs to fix things rather than constantly apologize for them.

But then we reach the final 8-issue storyline. A hugely powerful galactic warrior comes and attacks Sentry. After a very hard-fought battle, Sentry would find out this was the latest herald of Galactus, sent to kill him while Galactus himself is bearing down on Earth to destroy it. I could picture this being Galactus, though he's been defeated by the Fantastic Four so many times it's not funny. My Galactus, however, would have undergone a change. Instead of one herald, he would have created a small army of heralds, like a dozen or more (remember the abductions I mentioned earlier?). Now we have 12 heralds all rivaling Silver Surfer in terms of raw power, each with a different skill set.

They would lay waste to the heroes of Earth after an epic battle. All looks hopeless and lost, as Sentry streaks to Earth while Galactus sets up his machine to finally eat the planet.

Sentry arrives and begins a series of fights against the heralds of Galactus. One he could easily defeat, but four or five at a time would truly make for some great storytelling. As each herald is defeated, Sentry absorbs their power through his molecular manipulation. Each time he becomes more powerful as he turns each herald into the alien they were before they were changed.

And yes, the Silver Surfer would count as one of those heralds. A pretty epic fight, I think.

Sentry, herald of Galactus by Khris Reaves
After several fights, we get the final showdown where Sentry punches Galactus in the face and sends him down (and remember, Galactus is one of my favorite Marvel characters but I'm willing to do this for the greater good). Galactus sees that there was at one time some great conflict in Sentry, so as a twist he tries to turn Sentry into his greatest herald ever. The final scene of issue 23 is Sentry as some cosmic herald of Galactus, threatening to destroy the Earth. We see the heroes looking on in horror as the hero they could never defeat is evil again and more powerful than ever!

Then we hit issue 24. Sentry has already shown an ability to manipulate molecules (as he did to defeat the Molecule Man in Dark Avengers), so we see him override the change made to him and attempt to pull the very life essence from Galactus. In the process, he finds that The Void had actually taken over Galactus and used him in an attempt to destroy Sentry and Earth. The Void escapes into one of the former heralds and disappears into space. Galactus leaves the planet (again), and Sentry is seen as the hero who saved the world, though the people are still leery of him.

So there you have it, 24 issues of potential that could allow Marvel to cash in on some of the "hot stories" of today while still being original and keeping it all in current continuity without some massive bloodshed or people ripped in half or scenes of Sentry running off in tears again like we saw in Secret Invasion. Instead, we have a Superman-type character actually facing challenges in the Marvel Universe without crazy stuff. Can you tell I'm a writer who has always wanted to try his hand at comic books?

And how about his weakness now? With no Void, we have no weakness, right? Wrong. He's always been known as the man with "power of a million exploding suns", so his weakness now is the fact that he has to constantly vent off his power or he will die. In other words, he has to fly off somewhere (like the other side of the moon) and explode this massive power surge on a regular basis, or he'll go nuclear/cosmic. Khristian came up with that twist, and I liked it.

Just think, when the people finally start trusting him again, someone discovers he's a walking thermonuclear bomb just waiting to detonate and everyone is scared of him again! There's another eight-issue arch in that one!

So there you go, my look at Marvel is over. Someday soon I may take on DC, but for next week I'm turning it over to my new co-blogger, Khristian. My son is a comic book fan and you've seen his graphic work before on here (and on this very post in two places!) and he's agreed to help me out with guest posts. Next week, is sure to be interesting if you're a movie buff! I'll be back in two weeks with more rants and raves.

So what do you think about the story? Comment away!

Monday, November 8, 2010

How to Fix Marvel Comics (Part 2)

Last week I gave you the first part of my master plan at world domination with Marvel Comics. This week, I give you the conclusion of the post with a few more suggestions Marvel could listen to that might help them win the market again.

4. Give us a good cartoon team-up series!

When I was growing up, Marvel had the best cartoons. Yes, you had the Super-Friends, but Spider-Man, Hulk, The Fantastic Four, Iron Man, and even Silver Surfer had time onscreen. While each series had their share of cool guest stars (and the infamous "Australian Wolverine" from Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends), you have to give it to DC Comics for putting out Justice League Unlimited. That short-lived series (one and a half seasons) gave second-tier guys like Hawk & Dove and The Question a full show, and gave fans a real treat along the way. Soon DC had released "The Brave and the Bold" and we saw episodes with Kamandi and Deadman getting a chance to shine! 

Yes, I know Superhero Squad is out there, but that doesn't count. That's just too far down the kid zone for me. There's a fine line that DC captured with "Batman: The Animated Series" and was able to translate into JLU.

And Marvel is developing the Avengers series, but it won't have a rotating roster like I'm talking about, though it's a step in the right direction. Given the Avengers history of former members, there's a lot of wiggle room there. Let's see some cool second-rate folks like Stingray, Union Jack, Sunfire and Havok in animated form!

5. Fix your flagship character!

What in the world has happened to the hero? Ok, I'll give it to Marvel that the Green Hulk/Red Hulk confrontation was an awesome series, and it's nice to see Steve Rogers back in action even though he's not slinging the shield (yet), but do something with Spider-Man!

Ok, I hated "Brand New Day" and everything since. I jumped back on board for "One Moment In Time" thinking I would get some sort of closure, rationalization, or fixing of the whole "Mephisto made it go away" stupidity from years ago. Instead, I got a story so lack-luster it made me think Grant Morrison was writing it.

What has Marvel done to him in recent years? Let's see, there was the whole "Gwen Stacey and Norman Osborn were lovers and had two kids" thing that defiled Peter's memory of Gwen (and ours) forever. Spider-Man dies and comes back as some rabid spider thing in "The Other". Peter sells his loving wife out to Mephisto in order to let his 212 year old Aunt May live again. We get one bright spot where Peter publicly unmasks (a real "WHOA!" moment) in Civil War, but then it all heads downhill from there.

And then, just when you think it couldn't get worse, we get "One More Day" and the whole "none of it ever happened and the last 20 years of comics you've read were just a dream" situation.

There have been very few times in my life when I've literally thrown a comic book down in disgust, but that was the last straw. All we need now is to find out Peter is addicted to crack and is having an affair with the neighbor's dog and we'll have a perfect Quesada storyline.

Give Peter a break, and do something right with the character. I'm not asking you to erase the erase you did (though that would be nice), but I'm saying give us back some essence of the character we've grown to love. My first comic was Spider-Man, and I followed each issue religiously for years. Now all I have are the "Essential Amazing Spider-Man" books to remind me of why I ever cared about the character.

And now we're going to have to live with another reboot on the character in the movies? Please tell me we're skipping the origin this time out though. My parents are both 60 and have never read comic books (though they indulged their son as a child), and they both know Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider to get his powers! Let's face it: another origin story would be a complete waste of film! I can appreciate the need to reboot the franchise after the "disco Peter" episode of Spider-Man 3, but pick it up like "Superman Returns" and have some faith in your audience. Don't take us back to square one, please!

6. Lower the price!

My first comic book (pictured at the right) cost a quarter at the Majik Market down the road from my house in 1975. Today, that same comic would cost me four dollars! No more pages added, and no less advertisements in there...just an incredible price hike that makes collecting multiple titles a thing of the past.

Today, I wait for the trade paperbacks and buy them used on I'm not always up-to-the-minute with stories, but I'm not shelling out $50 a week on stories either.

I know DC is talking about lowering their prices by $1 a book next year, and Marvel is tossing around the idea too. Marvel, don't toss around anything--just do it. I can appreciate the shiny paper the comics are printed on now is supposed to last longer than newsprint and gives much brighter colors, but let's do whatever it takes to bring the prices back down to a sane level. If that means we see cheaper paper, then so be it.

And finally...

7. Move Joe Quesada!

Look, I understand all he's done for the Marvel, and he's had a number of hits, but he was pulled from the Marvel Knights brand (an edgier version of Marvel comics at the time), and he's proceeded to drag the rest of the titles down the edgy, push-the-envelope style since his takeover.

I don't think you should fire him, just move him back to what he's good at. Let him have an edgy brand of Marvel and he can corrupt it as he sees fit. Let someone else fix the rest of it. Give Quesada five titles and leave him alone for a while. He can put Obama on the cover of 3 of them, then let Kevin Smith write a 4-issue mini-series that'll take 3 years to complete. That should keep him happy for a while.

The fact is that Quesada is a talented guy, but he lives in a bubble as far as what he considers entertainment. While folks do enjoy movies like "Saw", most of the world doesn't let that become the only thing they watch. Some of us do enjoy a hearty helping of "Batman Begins" and even "Toy Story" every once in a while. He needs to move beyond the "dark is goooooooood" phase now.

Next week, I present the epilogue of this rant: a quick overview of one storyline Marvel could use that would allow it to hit the heights and finally use one of their secondary characters as a heavy-hitter...with no explosive blood scenes but good entertainment!

That's my take on what could turn Marvel around, among other things. Agree, disagree? Comment away!

Monday, November 1, 2010

How to Fix Marvel Comics (Part 1)

Ok, I've been silent long enough about this. Marvel Comics used to absolutely dominate the market in so many ways. They had the best characters, the best movies, the best cartoons, etc. and DC Comics could only look on in jealous amazement. Today, however, things have changed and DC has swung the tide to their favor through incredible writing and hard work.

If I was allowed free reign at Marvel for six months, I could fix the place up nicely. Here's what I think Marvel should do to bring itself back to at least a fighting chance:

1. Make stories fun again

Go back a few decades and find out why Marvel was dominant. It's because the stories were fun. The heroes were heroic and the bad guys lost with little to no bloodshed. Today, Marvel has decided to go as dark as humanly possible for every story. Blood and gore dominate everything they write. Take the recent "Frankencastle" storyline for Punisher. It starts off with Punisher being decapitated by Dark Wolverine, and only gets worse from there. The new Punisher series that took off after Civil War was amazing, with very little blood involved but excellent stories (Punisher beats down Rhino with the demon glove...Punisher versus Sentry...awesome). Then suddenly it becomes the bloodiest book out there! It's like someone decided the world functions like a Rob Zombie movie and started plugging away!

And for heaven's sake, don't polarize your audience! Yes, there's a place for cutting-edge stories, but when you blatantly take a shot at an entire political party like they did in the recent Captain America storyline where they made the Tea Party folks look like redneck anarchists you're going to lose some readership! Twenty years ago Captain America ran for president as part of a storyline, but it wasn't a direct attack on either party--it was just a good story. I can appreciate that Joe Quesada is in love with our president, but someone in the line-up should have said "You know, this might not be a good idea since we're in last place and all."

Give us good stories that are fun to read and exciting! Give me something based on plot, not on shock value. Besides, if every issue is filled with "shock", then nothing shocks me anymore; every moment becomes the same white noise. Dracula fought the X-Men 20 years ago and the only blood was a little black ink in a few spots. Today that story would run four printers out of red ink for just the first five pages.

2. Bring back variety titles!

Rather than flood the market with forty titles that feature roughly the same 12 characters in some form or fashion, how about putting out something that will give second-tier characters a chance. "Marvel Comics Presents" used to do a good job of this.

The rules are simple: no Wolverine stories...ever--not even guest shots. And let the readers vote on the characters that eventually find their way into the stories. In this information age you could have a poll on the Marvel website for a week and have instant results. Each book would have four stories, with two being single-shot titles and two being multi-issue stories.

Marvel seems to be under the impression that only their top characters deserve a chance, but there are a lot of characters fans love who seldom see print anymore. Go to any comic book convention and see who they dress up as! You'll see an occasional Spider-Man, but most of the time we have obscure heroes that get love because fans care about them. They aren't necessarily mainstream, but they're good.

I would be willing to buy a comic book with a Squirrel Girl story in it if it meant I'd get to read a "Paladin" storyline as well. Likewise, I'd suffer through a Vision story if I knew it was going to be followed by "Nighthawk". See? Everyone wins as you cram 4 titles into 1 title per month!

This brings us to point number 3...

3. Quality not quantity!

Let's be honest, at $4 a book you aren't going to sell me more than six or seven titles a month. My local comic book shop used to have a dozen titles on my pull-list per month. Now he pulls two titles for me. Everything else I buy on a "That looks cool" basis (not scientifically accurate, but it works for me). I don't care how many times you can shove Deadpool into a comic book in a month, or if Steve Rogers is in Avengers Prime or Secret Avengers or Captain America, I'm only going to buy what's good.

Marvel should seriously pare down their title base. They take any successful character and over-saturate the market with it. I never thought I'd see the day when Deadpool would be in more titles per month than Wolverine! And how did that happen? Because Wolverine used to guest star with any and every comic Marvel could cram him in.

Take the line-up to some basic titles and go from there. Yes, some artists and writers would be out of work, but costs would go down significantly as well. You might even be able to squeeze out a few more successful titles rather than throwing anything out there you can print.

DC is stepping into this problem as well with Batman and Green Lantern right now, but even so they're not that bad. Even their flagship hero Superman is only in three titles a month.

Next week, part 2 of my master plan to fix Marvel Comics. I'd love to hear from you on suggestions of what you'd do if they'd get out of the way and leave you in charge a while!
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