Thursday, July 28, 2011

Trailer Thursday: Lost...explained?

This may not qualify as comic book material necessarily, but this video from the SDCC was too good to pass up. Hate the ending of the series? So do these guys...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Captain America: History of the Shield

Found this and wanted to share it. Pretty comprehensive history of Captain America.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Superhero Movies of 2011 - Winners and Losers

Well, the summer movie craze is now officially over, and with no other major superhero releases coming this year let's look back on what we had in 2011 for comic fans.

The Green Hornet

While more of a radio star than a comic book hero, comic fans everywhere went to see this one. Seth Rogan decided to turn his Green Hornet into a profanity-spewing, hard-partying slacker who survives only because Kato is such an awesome sidekic--um, partner.

The movie had some great moments, no doubt. Kato's fight scenes were amazing with him beating up the bad guys in slow motion. The car was cool. The story was okay. Britt Reid in this one was a very poor reflection of the character from the old comic books, radio shows, or even the TV show from the 60's. And the villain? A guy with such a poor self-image as to try to become his own "super villain" character...while he's supposed to be some super mob boss. If you were willing to forgive the shortcomings it was a cute movie that fit well into the January "death zone" for movies.

I doubt we ever see a sequel to this one though.


This movie was impressive! I went to this one excited to see a superhero film, but with not very high expectations simply because I've never been a Thor fan. I knew him from the Avengers and I occasionally picked up an issue or two if the guest star was interesting enough. I've honestly never understood the draw of the character.

But the movie blew me away. The storyline was interesting enough, and it managed to bring in enough iconic Thor moments (flying with the hammer swinging around him, throwing the hammer and having it come back) to really keep me watching.

Natalie Portman didn't really fit, but I'm looking forward to seeing Loki in the upcoming Avengers film! I actually felt sorry for him because I didn't know his origin until I saw it in the movie (as I said, never a big fan). Anthony Hopkins was a very convincing Odin, that's for sure. I'm really looking forward to seeing the character again next summer.

X-Men: First Class

This was a pretty interesting movie. It was a reboot that was attempting to be faithful to the original trilogy, which seems like a paradox. Still, you have to give them credit for trying.

The inclusion of Havok was a nice touch, even though it went against the comics of him being in the team before Cyclops. Still, given how they wrote the original trilogy it would have been impossible to have the comic book fabulous five there since all had been seen in the films in different ways already.

Instead, we have a movie that actually makes me feel sorry for Magneto. Though the first scene was almost exactly like the first X-Men film, they expanded upon it and gave us a satisfactory ending with Magneto's slow-motion revenge on his former Nazi captor. Even though January Jones brought the film to a standstill with that thing she does and tries to pass off as acting, there were too many incredible wow moments to let that kill the film. The greatest was the Wolverine cameo.

My biggest complaint about this film would have to be the fact that there was no after-credits scene! It has become a Marvel movie tradition in recent years to give us that reason to stick around and see what twist they might throw in for a future movie. How hard would it have been to give us another 90 seconds of some deleted scene?

Green Lantern

A financial disappointment, this film underwhelmed me as well in a lot of areas. The special effects were amazing, and when Hal Jordan finally started using the ring for constructs there in that last battle with Parallax I was cheering him on. Of course, that final scene of Sinestro putting on the yellow ring was a powerful way to end it all too.

Where this film faltered for me was Ryan Reynolds. I love the guy and love his movies, but I get the feeling he was just cast in this role for his name recognition...not because he was perfect for it.

Wally West? Yes sir, I can see that. Hal Jordan? Not so much. His Hal was really a whiner, and the whole "heroic" silent type doesn't work for him. As Deadpool, I think he'll have tons of success. And while I know there's a sequel in the works for Green Lantern, I can't help hoping we see a better-cast backup GL like Guy Gardner or Kyle Rayner in the next film.

Captain America

I couldn't believe it when they cast Chris Evans in the role of Cap. To me, he was a horrible choice. Then I saw the movie and was pleasantly surprised!

To me, this was the perfect movie to cap off the Summer with. It was the strongest Marvel film of this year's bunch. It managed to stay true to the origin of the hero for the most part, and even paved the way for a fairly interesting sequel with Winter Soldier showing up in the future (don't tell me that sniper shot scene with Bucky didn't make you instantly think of Winter Soldier). Likewise, the appearance of Nick Fury at the end was good to set up the Avengers film.

The after-credits sequence in this one was a disappointment though. The trailer for the Avengers film? That was what we got? We'll see that in a few months on television! That was just a cheap filler, but at least it was something.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mattycollector Offers Subscriptions!

If you're a toy collector like me, you need to know that is allowing their annual subscriptions this weekend. If you don't grab them this weekend, you're out for another year.

One big bit of news: this year they are offering a DC subscription! The figures aren't announced yet, but they'll be subscription-only exclusives never found in stores! Much like the Masters of the Universe subscriptions, these figures promise to be quite popular, as long as they reach the subscription goal they must have to actually form the club.

So if you're interested in some cool exclusive toys, get in while you can!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Trailer Thursday: The Amazing Spider-Man

Don't know what to think, but I love the POV shots they give at the end as if you were really web-slinging.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Heroes and Comics I Miss: Part 2

A few weeks ago I gave you a few little comics that made my childhood in the 80's a lot of fun. This week I wanted to give you a few more titles that brought a smile to my face and were scooped up as soon as I saw them. These will never see an "Essential" collection, but should.

Shogun Warriors

Probably the biggest toy ever to have a comic book based on it, these guys were 3 feet tall and were an absolute treasure during my childhood. Their fists would fly off, they had little spaceships in their helmets, and were on roller skates! Well, rollers anyway.

The comic book was a lot of fun as well. It only lasted 20 issues, but it was a blast and saw guest appearances by the Fantastic Four. These guys even faced Godzilla at one point in his own comic!

Basically, it was pretty much like any Japanese manga you'd see today except this was Marvel comics drawn by Herb Trimpe so it was Americanized like crazy. These were giant robots controlled by normal guys and they would fight giant monsters, meteors, and even each other if something happened.

What makes this comic stand out above others like it is the fact that it was pretty much the first of its kind for me. Up until that point giant robots had been used by villains to attack folks like Superman and such. Here were some cool robots based on even cooler toys that were run by good guys with no super powers other than the ability to drive a giant robot!

While the toy line had several to choose from, the comic concentrated mostly on three or four. My personal favorite was Raydeen, both as a toy and as the comic. Unfortunately, this was part of a licensing deal (which Marvel really ran with in the early 80's) and therefore these guys are off the table permanently. Marvel can't touch them and the toy line is pretty much dead, though Mazinga (or Mazinger, in the Japanese version) still shows up from time to time in toy stores as a smaller version.

Crazy Magazine

Is it fair to heap a magazine into a comic book list? Yes, if we're talking about Crazy magazine. This was Marvel's answer to Mad Magazine, and as such it had some of the greatest guest shots imaginable. Marvel's earlier foray into funny books was Not Brand Ecch!, and they even packaged a reprint of that first issue in one of the Crazy issues, retitling it Crazy as well.

So what made it so good? This was a parody book that was for comic geeks as well. At one point they introduced "Teen Hulk", a character who changed when he was afraid. Nothing ever went right for him though, and he definitely wasn't like the real Hulk because he was funny. A character named "Obnoxio the Clown" was introduced later in the run, and he actually made it into the real Marvel universe to fight the X-Men! Marvel artists like John Byrne drew entire funny comic stories in it! Sometimes they would even take a Marvel story from the past and reprint it with new dialogue to make it funny. This was stuff that catered to comic fans!

Popular TV shows and movies were made fun of all the time, but these were jokes I actually got as a child. Mad sometimes got a little too deep with some of their parodies for me (or too wordy), but Crazy always kept it pure and simple.

This little book ran from 1973 to 1983, and I still vividly remember when I received notice in the mail that the title was being canceled. It was not a fun moment in my childhood.

Of course, popular culture today could not support a book like this anymore (seen Mad lately? Sheesh!). It would inevitably get too political or dirty and would therefore lose the charm this book had.

Still, this was a window into the 70's and early 80's that was consistently funny. I miss it and still try to add back issues to my collection whenever I can find one in really good condition.

Team America

Another one of those "toys tie-in" comic books, Team America was about three bikers (later five) who basically rode around in cool red-white-and-blue-themed costumes and fought criminals between stunt shows.

Along the way, they were assisted--many times without their knowledge--by the mysterious "Marauder", a black-clad biker who never spoke but could ride his crazy chopper like no one else. Due to the success of Snake Eyes in G.I. Joe, there can be little doubt who this character was designed after.

This group managed to get into the real Marvel Universe, just like the Micronauts and ROM had before it. Iron Man made an appearance, and what biker comic book could go without an appearance by Ghost Rider, fighting Marauder of course.

Who was Marauder? Well, that was the mystery. This guy showed the talents of all five members of the team, constantly giving you the impression it could be any of them. They did a great job of keeping him "off screen" when the heroes were around, and only letting him show up when no one was around so you never knew.

This series only lasted 12 short issues, with the identity of Marauder finally being explained to be a woman who was channeling the collective psychic influence of the team, thus allowing her to appear to have the abilities of all of them. It was a rip-off ending for me, but they made it all better as the final panels of the series unfolded. The team was flying away (all of them, including the woman) to go their separate ways, and then we saw this:

I was better after that. Marauder wasn't just a woman in padding! Maybe there was hope for a sequel! While the team appeared a few times in other books, they basically disappeared toward the end of the 80's and have never been seen since.

The guys were eventually exposed as mutants (hey, it was the 80's and all the cool kids were mutants) in a few other comic appearances (in New Mutants, Captain America, and the Thing) but that was never explored much because they disappeared soon after. The Ideal Toy license eventually expired so Marvel won't be reprinting this title anytime soon, just like the others on this list. Still, it was a fun read while it lasted.

I loved the toys this comic was based on. I had the Marauder toy, and managed to pick up Honcho (the guy in white) and R.U. Reddy (the guy in red) figures at garage sales. While the comic was action-packed, the figures were basically built to stay on their respective bikes and that was all. The legs were bent and wouldn't move, and the arms could only go up or down with no bend at elbows or wrists. Still, I was a happy child with the stunt bike going all over the driveway and ramps I made.

To me, Marauder was one very cool hero. He was the strong silent type, and I hate that he never managed to team up with Snake Eyes for at least one issue. Not a lot of conversation going on, but the narration would be crazy. The figures were two different sizes so playing with the 4 inch poseable Snake Eyes and the 10 inch "can't move much o'nothing" Marauder wasn't much of an option. Those adventures will forever remain a mystery.

What about you? Do you have any favorite canceled comics you miss?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Trailer Thursday: Batman - Year One

Now this looks like some good stuff. I loved the original story, and it was so powerful several instances of the dialogue and scenes from Batman Begins and the Dark Knight were lifted straight from it.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Fate of Fathers

For Father's Day this year, my sons both made me cards. Khristian, a comic book fan who knew what his dad liked, drew me a card that said "Spending Father's Day with my dad..." and on the inside was a crying Batman that said, "Something I can do that even Batman can't!" It made me smile and gave both of us a fun afternoon of figuring out what other heroes had a similar problem.

Did you ever stop to realize how many superheroes are fatherless? It seems like a requirement before you put on the spandex!

Here's what we're talking about:

Peter Parker 

Though the fate of his real father is kind of convoluted (spies? Maybe, maybe not), let's look at the man who raised him: Uncle Ben. Here was this kindly old man who gave us the single most famous line of advice in comic book history ("With great power..."), and how does he end up getting repaid? Shot dead by a burglar in the first issue! Of course, that's a better fate than being run down by a car like a stray dog as he was in "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark". Still, that single act changed the carefree direction Peter had taken with his powers and turned him into a superhero.

Tim Drake/Robin 2

This Robin (later Red Robin) actually started out with a fairly decent father relationship. His dad tried, if nothing else, to keep an eye on his son. Even when he eventually found out his little boy was fighting crime with Batman, he kept it cool even though he made it known often that he didn't like it.

Though the relationship had some very rough spots, it ended in a horribly painful way with Tim screaming into the phone for his dad while Jack faced a very out-of-shape Captain Boomerang in Identity Crisis.  In the end, the kid became an orphan with his dad dying in his arms. Captain Boomerang came back in Brightest Day, Tim's father did not.


Can there be any doubt that his father's death was pivotal in this character's development? His all-consuming battle with criminals everywhere began with Crime Alley and hasn't stopped since.

In later years a miniseries called "The Untold Legend of the Batman" would show how Bruce's father was actually the first one to put on a Batman-type costume at a costume party just before they died, which Bruce would later say gave him the subconscious push for his own costume design.

In a very cool twist, the Flashpoint Batman series allowed Thomas Wayne to survive the mugging encounter, with young Bruce dying. In essence it gave us a new angle on the old Batman myth. Apparently, that moment in Crime Alley was destined to create a hero.


This guy wins the big prize because he lost not just one dad, but two! And not only that, but Pa Kent has died more times than Aunt May so Supes just keeps getting gut punched reboot after reboot!

Originally sent to Earth from Krypton by his biological father, Jor-El, Superman only later learned how his father had sacrificed his own life to save his son. Fortunately, the Kents found young Kal-El and he was assured a happy life forever.

Nope. Pa Kent has died in the comics, cartoons, Smallville and even the movies. No matter how many times he comes back, it seems the writers are determined this man must stay dead for Clark to carry on as a superhero.

Dick Grayson/Robin 1

A circus acrobat...what could be safer? Well, if the mob moves in on your circus, accidents can happen.

Dick and his parents made up the Flying Graysons, a trapeze act that was the hit of the circus. Unfortunately, one night the wires broke and Dick joined the ranks of superhero orphans. Robin was brought into the Batman comics because they were trying to reach a wider audience, and it actually worked. Soon every major hero seemed to take on a child sidekick (Captain America had Bucky, Captain Marvel had Captain Marvel Jr., Sandman had Sandy, etc).


Jack Murdock was a fighter who ended up on the wrong side of some gangsters by not throwing a fight. As a result, they killed him all kinds of dead while his blind son could do nothing to help him. Later on, Matt Murdock would put on the red spandex (or red leather if you saw the movie) and fight crime to avenge his dad's wrongful death.

While by no means a saint, Matt's father showed true character in his death, which is sort of an underlying theme throughout most of the fathers' deaths on here. There was some sort of selfless act that caused it.

Green Lantern

Hal Jordan's dad was a test pilot for Ferris. That meant he got to fly a lot of unstable planes because he was the best pilot there was. See the possibility of problems here?

His dad was a test pilot. Hal himself would grow up to be a test pilot...for the same company. Sounds a little crazy, I know, but it led to him being considered fearless enough for a green power ring when the time came for a new Green Lantern.

The death of Hal's father left a gaping hole in his life, and it motivated him to do some crazy stuff before he got the ring. Even after the ring, though, his father's legacy continued to push him to be a better man. Though we barely even saw the man, his "blaze of glory" moment reverberated through the DC universe for decades.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Trailer Thursday: Deadpool Vs. Green Lantern

Not really a movie trailer, but I loved it and thought it summed everything up rather nicely:

Monday, July 4, 2011

Patriotic Heroes!

In honor of July 4th, I wanted to give a quick glance at some of the more patriotic heroes in the mix. Before you get outside to shoot fireworks, or barbecue, or just have a Twilight Zone marathon, check these guys out:

The Spirit of 76

This character has one of the strangest backstories out there. He was an independent comic back in the 40's but Marvel brought him to their regular lineup in Invaders #14 as part of the Crusaders.

What made his past so strange was What If? #4, "What If The Invaders Had Stayed Together After WW2?" In it, he takes on the role of Captain America after Cap disappears (or as we know it, was frozen). During a mission against a robot called Adam II, he is crushed and killed. He is later replaced by the Patriot as the new Cap.

What made this unique is that this is the only "What If?" story to ever be eventually brought into the regular Marvel universe and considered canon. The recent miniseries Captain Ameria: Patriot retold this story and gave us an idea of what happened in the years after Spirit's death.

The Patriot

Since we've mentioned him in the last paragraph, let's bring him into center stage. Jeff Mace was a hero who eventually found his way into the All-Winners Squad, and later leader of the Liberty Legion.

Unlike Captain America (whom he eventually replaced), Jeff had no real super powers to speak of. He was not a super-soldier, just a regular guy who wanted to fight for his country during WW2.

The recent miniseries Captain America: Patriot gave us the close-out of his career as Captain America. He passed away of cancer in Captain America #285.

Super Patriot

This character's trip from anti-hero to hero to crazy man to anti-hero is a strange one indeed. Initially just a slightly more gung-ho version of Captain America, John Walker showed up just when Marvel was ready to take the shield away from Steve Rogers and give sales a boost (how lucky for him, eh?).

He went from the Super Patriot to Captain America for a while, before snapping because his parents were killed before his eyes. The government stepped in quietly and had Steve Rogers take the mantle again after a major fight. The Super Patriot then became today's U.S. Agent. Recently the events of Siege ended his career as a superhero when his left arm and leg were cut off by Scourge.

The Shield 

This character was originally an Archie comics character like Black Hood. He was eventually part of a group called the Mighty Crusaders, and has recently enjoyed a revived career thanks to DC Comics. They brought out all of the old AC heroes and have given many of them a second chance at greatness.

He actually pre-dates Captain America, though recent comics involving the character have actually been his son rather than the original. Super strong skin makes him a human shield, thus the name I suppose.

If nothing else, you have to love the guy's costume. I would have to say it's the most patriotic of the lot, better even than Captain America himself.

Captain America

It wouldn't be a patriotic list if I didn't mention him. The original shield-slinger is still the best. Even though Steve Rogers has been replaced more times than I care to figure out, he always seems to find his way back in the red, white, and blue suit to save his country.

To show you how big of a cultural icon he is, when Marvel killed him off it got major news coverage. Stephen Colbert even stepped in on his show with a shield (and it still shows up in the background from time to time) to say he was taking the mantle. Of course, Steve's back (though not yet in the suit full time).

With the movie just around the corner, interest in the character should pick up again. He has a long and rich history that makes Steve Rogers the most interesting of the men to wear the mantle.

Now get out there and enjoy your day off! Happy Fourth of July everybody!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Our First Round Winner!

Yesterday we hit our 30 "likes" in the Facebook Fan drawing we're running in celebration of our 3rd birthday. I grabbed the names, pulled out my family from the list, and randomized the rest.

Congratulations to Chris Vu, who won the first round of free comics, along with a special "early bird" prize for being one of the first 30 entrants.

Don't forget this contest runs all month long in July. Every 30 "likes" adds another box of comics to the mix, so tell all you comic-fan friends to join us and you've got another chance to win!
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