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Archive for March, 2008

The Dirtiest Player No Longer in the Game

30

Mar

Posted by Steve

I’m watching Wrestlemania.  I’m a fan of wrestling from way back. 

 I just saw Shawn Michaels end the career of Rick Flair. 

 There’s an old addage in the wrestling business that says you can’t go out on top.  Tonight Ric Flair went out like a man in one of the most emotional finishes I’ve ever seen in my twenty plus years as a wrestling fan. 

I’m at a loss for words, and there is a part of me that knows like death in comic books, retirement in wrestling is never really a certainty.  However, for now, my eyes are a bit watery.  My throat has a lump in it, and I stand, alone in my living room, out of respect for the man.

 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

My Top Ten Favorite Superheroes:
Number 9 – Iron Man

26

Mar

Posted by Steve

ironmanfirstappearance.jpgHe has been dubbed many things:  The Iron Avenger, Metal Head, Ol’ Shell Head, and others, but through it all, one word has continuously described the hero…INVINCIBLE.

Tony Stark, billionaire industrialist, who came into the Iron Man armor out of sheer necessity for his own life’s sake, has become one of Marvel comics, and arguably Superherodom’s,  greatest heroes. 

(Is Superherodom even a word?  It is now!)

ironmanmontage.gifThe first thing that sticks out about Iron Man is the visual.  Iron Man is one of those characters who has gone through MANY changes in his looks, and by and large every single one has worked.  Why?  Because that’s his thing.  As technology evolves so must Iron Man.  

The appearance of Iron Man makes one wonder what’s under that armor.  Then, we learn about repulsor beams, flight boots, and all manner of gadgetry that makes the Iron Man armor every gadget lover’s dream come true.

But, the armor is only as good as the man wearing it, and the story of Tony Stark is an interesting one to say the least.   In typical Marvel form, Tony Stark isn’t just a good guy for goodness’ sake.  He is ever the business man, seeking out angles and positioning himself to come out ahead.  Couple with that his personal demons, and you have a well rounded interesting character as a hero.

He’s been an alcoholic, a womanizer, a teenager, and most recently the brains behind the act that would bring Marvel’s heroes into a Civil War.  Most readers tended to think that this action put him on the wrong side of heroism, but the truth is Tony Stark was not only angling for himself, but he really felt the move was the right one to make. 

ironmanpunchingtheground.jpgThis is best shown in his speech in Worl War Hulk number 1.  He talks about always wanting to be a hero and realizing that being a hero calls for hard choices.  While the decisions may not be pretty or even appear jerkish, Stark has done what he feels is best not just for the super powered, but also for the world.  Granted, some of his moves are questionable (Tony’s Thunderbolts, I’m looking in your direction.).   The point is, Tony Stark truly wants to help people and be a hero.  Not for ego’s sake, but because he has the ability to go out and make a difference.  

So, let’s see….cool gadgetry? Check.  Flawed character? Check.  Hero at heart? Check.

 I’ll be the first to admit that Marvel has a long way to go to redeem Tony Stark.  The side he chose during the Marvel Civil War was by and large considered to be the wrong side.  His reasons for choosing his side seemed less that noble.  His character took a real hit through all of that, but he has never been more interesting to read. 

So, whether it’s the old Mark One bucket armore, the sleek, almost alien looking Ultimate Armor,  the B-A-D War Machine Armor, or just the classic red and gold, Iron Man has and will most likely be for a while one of the most intriguing and fun characters in Superherodom.  Definitely worthy of a top ten spot.

My Top Ten Favorite Superheroes:
Number 10 – The Mighty Thor

20

Mar

Posted by Steve

‘Cross the Rainbow Bridge of Asgard, where the booming Heavens roar, you’ll behold the breathless wonder, The God of Thunder, MIIIIIIIIIIIGHTY THOR!

Thanks to Stan Lee and Marvel Comics, a character from Norse mythology got an upgrade.  to straight up superhero.

Due to his son’s enormous ego, Odin punished Thor by banishing him not only to Midgard, (Earth) but also confining him to the body of a partially crippled human doctor, Donald thor.jpgBlake.  In the early days, Donald Blake had but to strike his cane on the ground and ZAP he was transformed into the son of Odin, the Thunder-god, The Mighty Thor.  His cane became Mjolnir,  Thor’s mystical hammer that could only be wielded by those worthy.  Truth be told, though, the name is harder to pronounce than the hammer is to wield.

(By the way, according to Stan “The Man” Lee the proper pronunciation is Myol-near.)

Thor would eventually be able to shed the alter ego of Donald Blake, however throughout the years he would share the same space with a couple of other regular guys. 

Aside from his amazing strength, power over thunder, and his very non-Norwegian Shakespearean English, Thor was an original Avenger, and along with Captain America and Iron Man is considered one of the Marvel’s big three when it comes to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

I jest a bit about the name of the hammer and the English, but Thor is a character that, in comics, has always intrigued me.  He truly is a god among men.  He fights with ferocity thor-in-lightning1.bmpand honor, and he is a true and loyal friend.  Watching Thor fight along side his companions in the Avengers is always interesting because he truly enjoys the interaction with them.  Aside from Dr. Doom, however, there are very few earthbound villains that can truly give Thor a run for his money. 

It’s as interesting as any other super hero story when The Son of Odin is pitted against Earth’s mightiest villains, but the thing that makes reading Thor so much fun is getting to know the world that he is from.  Walking the mystical world of Asgard and meeting the gods and warriors that make Thor’s supporting cast shows us that not only is he revered on Earth, but the residents of Asgard fear and respect him as well.

I started reading Thor during Walt Simonson’s legendary run with the character, so that is my point of reference on all things Thor.  I don’t know that anyone has really gotten their mind around the character the way that Simonson did.  Somehow, he showed how ole Goldilocks was able to stay interesting here on Earth or across the Rainbow Bridge.  Simonson sold me on the character. 

He’s as visually interesting as his character is fun to enjoy, all of that coupled with some huge battles and great stories make it easy for Thor to crack my top ten.

A couple of my favorite Thor moments:

-  In the Ultimate Marvel U., I had a great time with Thor’s godhood being doubted by those around him.

-  Thor vs. Hulk.  Any battle between the two, but my favorite was a tale told in issue nmber 385.   In it, Thor not only battled the green behemoth to a virtual stalemate, but found himself battling his pride as well.  Really good stuff.

- Thor vs. Juggernaut – In The Mighty Thor issues 411 and 412, Thor and Juggernaut tear it up fighting each other.  In the end, Thor is forced to use his enchanted hammer to transport Juggernaut away from Earth.  The cool part about this fight, though, is the moment when Thor, blasting away at Juggernaut with his hammer and all his power not only stops the unstoppable Cain Marko but begins to push him back.  It was awesome.

Due to being out of comics lately, I haven’t been able to follow the exploits of Thor through his apparent death and rebirth as closely as I like, but he’s on my short list of books to get into as soon as possible. 

Valiant, powerful, a true friend and compatriot in battle, The Mighty Thor is definitely one of my favorites.

My Top Ten Favorite Superheroes:
The Honorable Mentions Part 2

13

Mar

Posted by Steve

Without any adeu at all, let’s finish out the honorable mentions of my favorite superheroes.

Plastic Man:

He’s goofy, he’s stretchy, and he’s immortal…?  That’s right friends.  One of the coolest things to ever learn about this seemingly merely comic relief character is that he survived plasticman.jpgas nothing but bits and pieces floating around in the ocean after the events of The Obsidian Age in JLA several years ago.  I’m getting ahead of myself though.

As I said with Mr. Fantastic, stretchy powers don’t get a lot of love amongst comic fans, but truth be told, they’re pretty cool.  Plastic Man is the exact opposite of Mr. Fantastic in terms of his personality and the ways he uses his abilities.  Being a quick-witted,  streetwise funny guy, Plastic Man has put himself in just about any shape you can imagine. 

While his humor appeals to me, it’s the heart of this character that makes him a hero.  Again, if you’re only familiar with Plastic Man from his early years or the short-lived cartoon (which I watched on USA’s Cartoon Express)(I feel a Geek Out Loud discussion coming on) then you don’t know the character as the hero he is.

Grant Morrison really accentuated Plastic Man’s heroism when he wrote him into the JLA.  It was Plastic Man who convinced the alter egos of the heroes of the JLA to fight the alien presence that split them from their superhero counterparts.  Later, it was Plastic Man who stood against a crazed Martian Manhunter to basically save the entire planet. 

I feel he’s underrated and he definitely merits a mention in my book.  While we’re on the subject of the underrated:

Aquaman:

Arthur, King of Atlantis and protector of the seven seas.  Aquaman has been the butt of many geeky jokes over the years.  However, he is as iconic as many of his peers.  This is aquaman.jpgdue in part to his cartoon series in the fifties and his role on The Superfriends cartoons. 

Growing up, my family spent a lot of time on the coast of Georgia.  In fact, I would say that by the time I was 11 I had spent rougly a fifth of my life at the beach.   I have always loved the ocean.  What lies beneath the surface of the seas has always intrigued me.  My favorite shows on the Discovery Channel have always been ones that explore life beneath the waves.  It makes sense then, that I would be intrigued with a character that not only protects, but communicates with the life of the ocean.

Super strength, swimming at high speeds, and in some incarnations being able to actually manipulate the water around him to be propelled weaponlike at his foes, Aquaman is not a hero to be sneezed at.   In his more recent incarnations, Arthur has taken on the feel of Namor from over in the pages of Marvel in that he’s kind of rude and abrasive to the surface dwellers.  Of course, with the advent of Infinite Crisis, and more specifically the events of 52, the whole Aquaman thing is a bit messed up.  (For the purposes of this list though, Aquaman is Orin or Arthur Curry…the one we all know and love.)

In my book, Aquaman is cool.  The coolest of Aquaman moments came in early in Morrison’s run on JLA when he was fighting a white Martian.  The Martian spoke for geeks everywhere when he said, “So you talk to fish?  What can you do against me, we’re nowhere near an ocean,”  Aquaman explained to the Martian that he could use he telepathy to find the part of his brain closely related to his aquious ancestors and give him a seizure….threat neutralized.  Pretty cool.

Speaking of telepathy:

J’onn J’onzz, The Martian Manhunter:

I didn’t know much about The Martian Manhunter til I got into DC comics.  I was a Marvel kid.  The truth is, I had no idea who The Martian Manhunter was until the mid/late nineties when I first started reading DC comics.  As I began to find out about the character, I really got into him. 

martian-manhunter.jpgJ’onn is that character that’s not human but longs to be.  In his quest for humanity, he finds in himself more compassion, more understanding, and more humanity than many native Earthlings.  He carries himself with a wisdom, and he posesses a sadness for the loss of his home without becoming a brooding angst filled hero.

J’onn is crazy powerful.  As if telepathy and flight weren’t enough, there’s his ability to shapeshift,  invisivility, strength, Martian vision, in the earlier incarnations he even had some kind of super breath.  So, he’s kind of a suped up Superman…without the iconic status. 

In fact, it’s his relationship with Big Blue that really attracted me to the character.  Being the last survivors of doomed races,the two have a common bond and their interactions are always interesting to me.

He never had to step in and help humanity.  He never had to put his life on the line for a world that wasn’t his, but he does it time and time again.  That coupled with cool powers and some great stories, gives him a well deserved honorable mention.

Wonder Woman:

Coolest…television theme song…ever. (Next to the Greatest American Hero)

wonderwoman.jpgWonder Woman is another one of those iconic characters out of DC’s vast array of heroes.  I prefer the Linda Carter version of Wonder Woman.  She was tough as nails, but compassionate.  And that smile…could light a pitch black room.  What else is there to say? 

Wait…this isn’t just Linda Carter’s Wonder Woman….this is the character in general.  

Wonder Woman is THE staple female superhero.  No other lady in comics even comes close.  While I still don’t know if she can fly or not, she is definitely strong, has the amazing magic lasso that we all wish we had at some point or another, and even though the invisible jet is a flawed idea in some ways, it’s still cool. 

Oh, and Wonder Woman was created by the man responsible for the lie detector.  That’s a cool point of interest to me.  Here’s a guy who invented something pretty cool and could have forged his reputation and legacy on that alone, but nope…he decided to take a dive into the world of superheroes.   What a splash he made! 

Wolverine:

wolverine.jpgThis is one of those characters that people may be surprised not to find in my actual top ten.  I like Wolverine.  I appreciate what he brings to the table.  However, I can’t really say that he’s one of my top ten favorites.   I’ve never been a fan of the anti-hero.  I like my heroes to have scruples.  Wolverine is cool.  I give you that, but he’s also a loose cannon.  Just as prone to rip into a teammate as he is a bad guy.

However, the cool factor of Wolverine can NOT be denied.  He carries himself with a confindence and an attitude like no one else.  He’s not as hell bent on vengeance as the Punisher.  He’s not as calculating as Batman.  He’s not as bouncy as Spider-Man.  He’s as tough as the Punisher, as resourceful as Batman, and as witty as Spider-Man.  I understand why so many people like him, but through the nineties I got a little too much of him, and that relegated him from a place in my top ten to an honorable mention.

However, I have two favorite Wolverine moments.  The first is from X-Men 3 (I stand by the fact that I actually liked it.).  The moment the last battle begins and the X-Men show up, Wolvie takes his game to a level he never thought he would.  He’s no longer just a substitute teacher.   He steps into the role of leader with one line, “….and HOLD THIS LINE.”  I just really liked it.

The second is my most favorite Wolverine moment.  Truth be told he kind of rips off Dirty Harry, but it works.  He’s making his way underneath the Hellfire Club to get to Jean Grey.  It’s all during the Dark Phoenix saga.  Anywho, after fighting a bunch of guards he stares down a couple with weapons trained on him and he goes into the “You have to ask yourself a question, do you feel lucky?” Dirty Harry speech. The guards…don’t feel lucky at all.

So that wraps up the honorable mentions.  Tomorrow we’ll begin the actual countdown with my number 10 favorite super hero.  Don’t forget to chime in with your list and some of your favorites. 

And thanks to everyone who has sent e-mails, subscribed to the feed and the podcast, and generally helped to expand this safe place for geeks everywhere.

IT’S HERE! HUZZAH!

12

Mar

Posted by Steve

I have never said Huzzah in my life.  But I am so excited, I don’t know what else to say.   The first trailer for THE INCREDIBLE HULK is here. I am stoked beyond words.  

I like the look of  the Abomination: abominationmovie.jpg                

                                                                                         

I like the look of the Hulk:

hulk.jpg

And I’m loving the first trailer.  It’s kind of a teaser in that it really doesn’t show much, but we get to see a Hulk that looks a lot more savage and more Hulk-like than Ang Lee’s version of ole Jade Jaws. But..you know what? Take a look for yourself.