And Now For Something Completely Different

I don’t know if it is because I’m too tired, bored or lazy to do a proper post today; I’ll let you decide. In the meantime, I’m going to post this episode of The Simpsons which prominently features writer Neil Gaiman in it!

They do make a reference to his The Sandman, but they fail to acknowledge Black Orchid or even 1602.  Oh well; it’s still a great episode and probably one of the best in recent years.

Project Defense Day 17: The Spur

spur

Today lets keep in the great state of Texas and bring you the Spur!

ORIGIN: David Gervin and his horse Timmy were on a prairie back in the 1880s and they accidentally time traveled to now. Going under the name the Spur, he’s a vigilante.

POWERS:  He’s a cowboy, and he’s wanted dead or alive.

OTHER:  His name refers to Spurs greats George “Iceman” Gervin and David Robinson. The horse’s namesake is Tim Duncan.

Project Defense Day 16: Maverick

Maverick

Well, the NBA season is back on and lets celebrate with our Dallas themed hero, Maverick!

ORIGIN: When Jason Blackman utters the phrase No Vitt Skee he gains super powers and fights crime in the Big D.

POWERS:  Super strong, can fly. Not super indestructible.

OTHER:  His name refers to Mavs greats Rolando Blackman and Jason Kidd, and his phrase is Dirk’s last name spelled phonetically. His super powers are a lot like Hawk from Hawk and Dove fame.

New York Comic Con 2011 Sketch Book: Flash Thompson as Venom by Dan Slott

Venom by Dan Slott

I’m still recovering from Thanksgiving dinner! Here’s a sketch of the new Flash Thompson Venom that’s been popping up in the Marvel Universe by writer Dan Slott. I know your probably confused, why did I get the writer to draw a sketch?

Aside from it being unique, a lot of writers draw some funny stuff and are very creative on the fly. I like how Dan made Venom not only look angry, but the little quote added so much to the sketch.

This is going to be the only post for the day, and we’ll get back on track for tomorrow!

Project Defense Day 15: Boga the Bull

BullOur next hero is is the bovine guardian of Chicago, Boga the Bull!

ORIGIN: Boga the Bull is an alien from the planet Bovus. He’s been deployed by the Intergalactic Bovan Safety Squad to Earth, where he’s decided to settle as a super hero in Chicago

POWERS:  Master of hand to hand combat, weaponry, super strong, technology, being a bully

OTHER:  His name is Turkish for Bull. I kind of imagine him being like a kinder Guy Gardner.

DIY Thanksgiving Parade?

Whether you missed the Thanksgiving parade because you were out partying late last night, busy cooking your thirty pound turkey or had to get ready for tomorrow’s RETAIL ARMAGEDDON 2K11, don’t worry. I’ve scoured the net to find some great clips of Thanksgiving parades of yesterday, with all of your favorite Ridiculously Awesome stars!

We’ll start out with this great clip from New York City’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from way back in 1940. About 1:30 into it, the first ever Superman balloon makes his debut. Two years into his existence, the last son of Krypton was already a huge cultural icon.

This clip is from the 1987 Macy’s Parade, which has all kinds of random characters that you would never expect to see in a parade, including White Queen and Luke Cage. Things get really weird when Robocop comes out to make an appearance, and Captain America has to throw the Hulk off the roof! Also, the whole sequence is choreographed to John Williams’ theme from Amazing Stories.

They brought out the Marvel Universe float again in 1989, this time in a really creepy dance number featuring Melba Moore singing “Holding Out For A Hero.” The less said about this the better.

Speaking of Marvel, it seems every year the Spider-Man balloon comes out. Having volunteered at the 2005 Boscov’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia by helping “pilot” a giant sized Pink Panther balloon through Center City, I can vouch for how difficult it really is.

1985 brought us the debut of the He-Man and She-Ra themed Masters of the Universe float. Growing up in the eighties, I can only tell you how awesome this was to a four-year old Chris. “Night of the Valkyries” was never this cool.

The next year, He-Man and company were back, this time with special guest narrator Dolph Lundgren who at the time played the role of our super macho hero in the Masters of the Universe film. Poor Dolph seems to have needed some aquavit to get through this script.

Anyway, I’m off to go play some Mortal Kombat vs. DC! Have a great Thanksgiving!

Surviving Guns N’ Roses

Axl Rose of Guns N Roses tears it up at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, NJ. Photo by Mike Smith, more commonly known as Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys fame (http://twitter.com/MSmithBubbles)

I saw Guns N’ Roses last Thursday and I’m still recovering. Why? Because this was one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. In the interest of full disclosure, maybe it was because the concert started at 11 PM, but it was definitely worth it.

Guns N’ Roses spent three hours playing on stage, from their classics to their modern stuff. I don’t care what you say; Chinese Democracy was an awesome album, and it was great to hear the new material live.

So why is Guns N’ Roses important to me? Maybe its one part nostalgia, having grown up in the 1980s/1990s. The other part is that Axl Rose has always been so enigmatic. Since the original version of the band went on hiatus back in the early 1990s, he appears every now and then, releasing something interesting. And before you know it, back he goes to reinvent himself.

Axl also reminds me a lot of some of my favorite comic creators. He’s a lot like Steve Ditko in the sense that he’s pretty elusive. He has Mark Millar’s bombastic personality and desire to be extremely selective of who he collaborates with. Axl even reminds me of Grant Morrison, as the two of them exist in their own surreal universe that we can only barely comprehend.

I would have to say that Axl is definitely a superhero. Current Guns N’ Roses reminds me a lot of the Future Foundation over at Marvel Comics. While that group is Mister Fantastic assembling the brightest minds of the planet to find solutions to global problems, Axl has assembled a group of some of the most talented musicians around to form an awesome rock and roll band–something that is severely lacking in this world.

I saw Slash and Duff’s post-GNR band Velvet Revolver, and they couldn’t match the energy and enthusiasm that Axl’s new group has. That’s not an insult, I just like the current version of GNR a lot more. Maybe the path of how Axl got there was difficult and long for everyone involved, but the end result was worth it.

Axl Rose and Bumblefoot tear it up during "November Rain". Photo courtesy DiegoRose from the MyGNRForum.

Anyway, back to the concert.

Everything in this band worked so well that night. Axl Rose ran around screaming like a maniac. I don’t know where the whole “he’s out of breath and can’t perform” meme came from. He had the same level of over the top energy from their first song “Chinese democracy” to their closer “Paradise City.” He’s a beast. The triumvirate of guitarists–Richard Fortus, Bumblefoot and DJ Ashba–can shred with the best of them. Tommy Stinson (or as Axl called him, “the replacement from the Replacements’) laid down a thunderous groove, and his cover of “My Generation” rocked.

Bottom line: Axl and company have it. I’m hoping they stick around for a while and record some more new material. I think I’m going to try to go see them this Saturday night in Camden.

Project Defense Day 13: Pacer

Pacer

Our next hero is is the speed racer from Hoosier state, the Pacer!

ORIGIN: Danny Miller was always a speed demon. After being hit by a cosmic rock, he gained super speed.

POWERS:  Above average intellect and fighting skills….Can move at the speed of Mach 7

OTHER:  His name refers to Pacers Danny Granger and Reggie Miller. Kind of funny, but he reminds me visually of Booster Gold.

Hawk and Dove #2

One of the joys of having a rage filled partner is that you never get a chance to fight super villains by yourself. Just ask Dove.

The second issue of Hawk and Dove continues the fun from the last issue. Writer Sterling Gates and artists Rob Liefeld are still at the helm. So what are our avian and emotion avatars up to this time?

They’re still fighting Alexander Quirk’s army of zombie monsters, but they have to take a break to celebrate Judge Hall receiving an award at the White House. President Obama vaguely looks like Obama, in case you were wondering. The book ends with the beige Hawk looking character from last issue crashes the party, and the book ends with Hawk and Dove having to save Hawk’s dad and the president.

The art is very good, so Liefeld deserves some credit. But most of the credit on this book should deservedly be given to Gates. His character building dialogue works well with Liefeld’s over-the-top action.

Plot wise, Gates accomplishes a lot this issue. The beige Hawk looking dude is actually called Condor, and he has a female sidekick named Swan. Apparently they have powers similar to Hawk and Dove. This issue started with the two of them beating up a greyish looking Hawk type (Ostrich?), so I wonder if we’re going to wind up with a bird version of the various Lantern Corps.

The dynamics of Hawk with the supporting characters gets explored as well. Deadman, Dove’s boyfriend, really makes it clear how much of an ass he thinks Hawk is, which puts her in a difficult spot. For some reason, Hawk’s dad invites his ex-girlfriend Ren (who hasn’t been seen or heard from in almost a decade) to the awards ceremony and makes things very awkward for everyone. For whatever reason, Hawk really hates her, and she displaces that hate on Dawn. Very bizarre.

Hawk and Dove has been fun, and I can’t wait to see where they go next, especially with all the Condor and Swan business. This will connect to Quirk at some point, and I cannot wait.

Project Defense Day 11: Cavalier

Cavalier

Our next hero is is the courageous crusader of Cleveland, the Cavalier!

ORIGIN: Marcy Price puts the skills she learned at Brown University to good work. By day she’s a research librarian, by night she puts her NCAA All American Fencing and Gymnastic skills to work as the Cavalier!

POWERS:  Master of hand to hand combat, weaponry, gymnastics, swordsmanship, research/spying.

OTHER:  There’s a lot of the Barbara Gordon Batgirl in this character. Her name is a reference to Cavs legend Mark Price. She’s still bitter about Lebron.

Frank Miller’s Holly Terror

Frank Miller’s been a bit of a hot topic in the comics world the last couple weeks, in part because of his comments about Occupy Wall Street which either delighted or disgusted you, depending on which side of the cause you occupy.

Never a stranger to controversy, Miller’s recently released Holy Terror is, well, controversial. This project has its roots going back to the mid 2000s, as he announced a project that would have Batman avenging a September 11 type attack on Gotham City. Miller got somewhere between 50 to 100 pages into it and decided that the story should stand alone, and that is how we got Holy Terror.

So how was it? Well, I wonder if the Batman version was any better. This book, published by Legendary Entertainment’s comic book arm, is a mess.

The book starts out with our Batman stand in, the Fixer chasing cat burglar Natalie Stack. After fighting over Empire City’s skyline, the two inexplicably decide to stop for a little rooftop coitus. This gets interrupted by a few buildings exploding around the city, and the two uncover a conspiracy between some Middle Eastern terrorists and the Empire City police.

Well, at least the art was good. The book looks a lot like his work on Sin City and the Dark Knight Strikes Back, but misses the polish of those works. Story wise, the characters are extremely shallow and there isn’t a lot of depth to anything. You really question why you bought this book, as its a quick read and that’s never something that crosses your mind in a good way.

The main theme of the book is that violence only leads to more violence; Miller stresses the importance of this theme of vengeance to an absurd point. I don’t think that I’ll be reading this again any time soon.

Cyriaque Lamar pretty much summed it up perfectly over at iO9 “[this] is way less fun than Ronnie James Dio’s “Holy Diver.”

Project Defense Day 10: Orlando Magic

magic

Our next hero is is the bad ass adventurer based in Orange County, Orlando Magic!

ORIGIN: Magic is a professional adventurer based out of Orlando, Florida. He was a top interpol agent before he decided to go solo.

POWERS:  Master of hand to hand combat, weaponry, pilot.

OTHER:  Yeah, I was at a loss for this one, especially since I didn’t want him to be a repeat of our Wizard character.

Daredevil: Blood of the Tarantula

Daredevil: Blood of the Tarantula brings up a dilemma for vigilantes in the super hero community:  is excessive force acceptable? Obviously, for a law abiding and respecting super hero like Daredevil, it never is. But for newcomer the Black Tarantula anything goes.

Tarantula was introduced as a Spider-Man villain back in the 1990s. Carlos LaMuerto is the latest of a long line of crime lords calling themselves the Black Tarantula. This title (as well as some super powers) is passed down from one generation to the next. Carlos decides that its time to do something different; use his strength and talents to protect the neighborhood.

Unfortunately for Carlos, a lot of his old tendencies are still there, and he’s a pretty violent protector. Obviously, this doesn’t make Daredevil comfortable. Things only get worse for Carlos, as his cousin is upset that he’s disgraced his family by abandoning a life of crime, and goes after his wife and son. From there, our two heroes have to put aside their philosophical differences to save the LaMuerto family.

Writers Ed Brubaker and Ande Parks (who I knew as Phil Hester’s inker on the Green Arrow books, as well as a super all around guy due to some conversations we had at comic shows) put together a very compelling character in Carlos, and I can’t help but wonder if this was a pitch in the hopes of getting a Black Tarantula series at some point.

Project Defense Day 8: Bobcat

Bobcat

You can say our next character is the courageous catlike Bobcat!

ORIGIN: Bobcat (realname: Addie Morrison) is a mutant whose body changed into an orange catlike humanoid while in college. Inspired by the other heroes, she’s decided to use her new found feline powers to protect her home city of Charlotte.

POWERS:  Superhuman agility and tracking…retractable claws in her feet and hands…enhanced tracking senses….

OTHER:  I kind of envisioned her to be a more friendly version of Feral. Her name is a reference to former Charlotte Bobcats draft pick Adam Morrison, who had a very successful college basketball career and now tears up the court for the KK Crvena Zvezda team in Serbia.

Project Defense Day 9: Unseld the Wizard

Wizard

Our next hero keeps the Beltway safe at all times, Unseld the Wizard!

ORIGIN: Unseld is a fairly pleasant wizard during the time of King David the Brave, who by accident transported himself into modern Washington DC. He uses his magical powers to help people in the DC area.

POWERS:  Unseld knows a variety of magical spells, pretty much allowing him to do whatever he wants. However, in hand-to-hand combat he is particularly vulnerable.

OTHER: Unseld is a reference to Washington Bullets great Wes Unseld.

Detective Comics Annual #3

This was the issue that sold me on the annual format in comics. I’m a very big fan of single issue, self-contained story. With the extra pages that an annual has, the creative team has more space (and time) to develop the story. Detective Comics Annual #3 pits the Dark Knight against a ninja clan.

The story, written by longtime Batman writer Archie Goodwin, is pretty straight forward with Batman battling the Japanese mafia in Gotham City, which leads him to Japan where he faces his former mentor Tsunetomo in one of those “hey I’m going to die so kill me honorably”  battles. It’s a bit more complex than that, but the story works.

The art is by Dan Jurgens, who based on my past posts you can see I’m a super fan. He’s backed up by Dick Giordano on inks, so combine that with Goodwin’s script and this feels like the story could have definitely came out in the early 1980s, which is a good thing. Jurgens and Giordano did a brilliant action sequence about halfway through the book, with Batman hiding in a snow drift, only to appear taking on a few ninjas.

I would also like to take some time to talk about the cover of this book. It’s a painting of Batman crouched in some zen garden with two warriors in the background? Do you know who did it?

I’ll give you some hints…he went on to become one of the biggest names in comics, not for his painting but for his pencils and later his writing. I’m talking about Marvel’s chief creative officer Joe Quesada! A decade after this came out, he became the editor in chief over at Marvel!

Justice League International #2

Maybe I was a little hard in the last post, but Dan Jurgens’ other “New 52″ book Justice League International has been great. The second issue has the JLI deployed to Peru to fight a giant alien robot.

Unfortunately for them, this is a super tough robot.

Not only that, but this team is really dysfunctional. Jurgens has a lot of characterization crammed throughout this issue. Lets bullet point these developments:

  • Rocket Red and August General in Iron constantly bicker about who’s country (Russia and China, respectively) is better. General also has an odd dialogue style, as he talks in proverbs.
  • Guy Gardner only gets interested in being part of the team once Ice gets hurt. Apparently Guy has a super crush on her, so that’s one element of pre-New 52 DC that sticks.
  • Booster Gold is trying his damnedest to be a good leader, and Godiva undermines him unintentionally by flirting with him constantly.
That said, they fail in their first mission, and now there are a few more of these monster robots around the globe. It’s up to Batman to be the straight person to this cast of characters, and its nice to see that he has a certain level of respect to Booster. I think that Jurgens is continuing the theme of Booster maturing and living up to his potential that he explored in the last Booster Gold series.