Marvel Blurs The Lines Between Film and Comics

We have all been used to watching comics influencing film, but now film is influencing comics continuity. Agent Coulson and the Samuel L. Jackson portrayal of Nick Fury (well sort of) have crossed over into the print world. So how did it happen?

The African-American version of Nick Fury goes back to Marvel’s re-imagined Ultimate universe in 2001, ultimately becoming based on Jackson in time for Mark Millar and Brian Hitch’s awesome Ultimates stories.

When they decided to introduce Nick Fury into the cinematic Marvel Universe, it was natural that Jackson would be playing the role of everyone’s favorite SHIELD director, much to the delight of everyone.

So how did the traditional Marvel Universe wind up with a black Nick Fury?

As a spin-off from the Fear Itself storyline, Battle Scars chronicles the adventures of Army ranger Marcus Johnson setting off to find the Nick Fury hating villain Orion from the Secret Warriors series who had killed his mother. This was an elaborate plot by the villain to lure out Marcus in an attempt to get his blood, which contains the same Infinity Formula that keeps Fury young.

By the end of Battle Scars, Marcus loses an eye and shaves his head to look like Samuel L. Jackson, dons Steve Rogers’ director of SHIELD costume he had while Bucky was Captain America and finds out the reason he has the Infinity Formula in his system–his mother was a spy, Fury is his father and his real name is Nick Fury Jr. Oh yeah, and his friend Coulson and him both wind up joining his father’s family business as agents of SHIELD!

So what do I think about this?

Well, I’m all for Agent Coulson being properly brought into the Marvel Universe. I love how they’ve been using Maria Hill and Viktoria Hand the last few years as non-super heroes working alongside their powered counterparts. If they keep him like the way Clark Gregg has portrayed him in the Marvel films, this will be awesome.

As for Marcus, I’m still having mixed thoughts about the execution of the character. I like how this adds an extra part to the Nick Fury mythology. He’s been around since World War II, so having him have a long-lost (more so neglected) son come into his life is an interesting dynamic. Him following into his parents’ career path makes sense.

The one thing that I’m not sold on is how they’ve made him look exactly like the Ultimate and movie versions of Nick Fury. It seems like it’s a huge burden in developing this character, as he’s going to be constantly compared to the other characters. I would have much rather enjoyed them calling him Marcus Fury and allowing the character to have its own identity, not to mention his own look not based on Samuel L. Jackson. They can keep the eye patch; there’s a certain humor that every Fury man winds up losing an eye.

Will they make Marcus replace his father as Nick Fury in the comics? Who knows. At the very least, I would love to see David Hasselhoff make a cameo as Fury’s father in one of the movies!

Captain America and the Avengers Arcade Game

The X-Men weren’t the only super hero team to have an arcade game during my childhood. Earth’s mightiest heroes made their gaming debut in 1991′s Captain America and the Avengers.

The arcade game was simple. You and three of your friends (or in my case, my younger brother) could choose from Captain America, Iron Man, Hawkeye and the Vision to take on Marvel’s bad guys. Even at the time, I wondered why they would have chosen Vision over Thor.

The plot is very straightforward. You have to lead the Avengers into battle to stop the Red Skull and his army of mercenary villains from taking over the world. Some of Red Skull’s allies were logical, like Crossbones, Ultron and the Mandarin, all of whom had longstanding feuds with members of the Avengers. But you fight some odder choices like the Juggernaut, who is more appropriate for an X-Men game, and the Sentinels, who really have nothing to worry about with the Avengers.

The really cool thing about the game is the games special attacks, where other Avengers like the Wasp, Quicksilver and Wonder Man drop by to lend a helping hand.

After its debut in the arcades, Capain America and the Avengers was ported to the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. I think it would make a fun addition to XBOX Live or the PSN, don’t you?

Justice League and Cheerios Go Perfect Together

Cereal and comic books go together like, well, cereal and Saturday morning cartoons! General Mills teamed up with DC Comics to make a series of special tiny comics for the prize at the bottom of the cereal box this past fall/winter featuring the Justice League!

One of my coworkers thought enough to share the copy of Justice League: Sinister Imitation that came in her Golden Grahams. So how was this delicious comic? Well, for starters, it features a cover by Dan Jurgens which is always a good thing.

The story pits the Justice League against the evil Toy Man and his villainous doppelgangers. It is a short, simple super hero story suitable for all ages. As a promotional item, this succeeds as it introduces the primary heroes in the DC line without being cheesy.

That said, there was one thing that I questioned. This came out well into the New 52 relaunch, yet the characters all had their traditional costumes. I guess they didn’t want to turn off or confuse new readers. Either way, still a nice promotional effort.

Wardrobe Dysfunction: Ms. Marvel

Ms. Marvel by Jamie Fay and Danielle Alexis St. Pierre

This week we look at a character that I’ve grown quite fond of in recent years, Ms. Marvel. Carol Danvers is just such a great, complex character that is finally getting her due. She’s had a bunch of costumes over the years, so let’s examine what’s in her closet.

Carol Danvers wound up getting her super powers from Captain Marvel; an explosion wound up getting them from him, making her a Kree/Human hybrid of sorts. It’s only fitting that she would wind up taking a variation of his name for her codename as well as adopting a similar costume and color scheme.

What I find really interesting about this costume is that it has a built-in scarf instead of a cape. This is pretty much the only time I recall a scarf being incorporated into a super hero’s costume. Also notice the Farrah Fawcett like hairstyle. It was the late 1970s, after all.

 

Eventually, the costume gets tweaked slightly. Ms. Marvel loses the bare midriff and her belly button is covered up. It’s a bit more flattering of a look.

One of the things that I’ve really liked about  Ms. Marvel is that she is a strong female character. Her first ongoing series was an attempt to attract more female readers. Carol was a strong feminist character for the time, having been a high-ranked member of the US Air Force during her introduction. During this series, her career shifted to the editor of a woman’s magazine, conveniently owned by the Daily Bugle’s parent company. This allowed frequent cameos by J. Jonah Jameson and Peter Parker to drop by.

 

Ms. Marvel’s black outfit is her most iconic look. It also helps distinguish herself from Captain Marvel; she abandon’s his star insignia for a lightning bolt. Her red scarf is also switched out with a red sash belt. It’s a slight accent that adds a contrasting color to her outfit. In case you are wondering, she did keep the mask.

The black outfit became skimpier or more modest depending on who was drawing Ms. Marvel or whatever the trend at the time was. So you can pretty much imagine how it looked during the nineties during the whole bad girl phase.

 

Carol spent a lot of the 1980s hanging out with the X-Men (Chris Claremont was writing both her series and Uncanny X-Men, so he brought her into their book after her title finished). During this time, she was experimented on by the Brood and wound up being able to draw cosmic energy from white holes.

Carol assumed the new codename Binary during this phase. She was usually drawn with various flames and energy radiating off of her, because she was cosmic powered and all.

 

 

The next few years were a little rough for Ms. Marvel. She eventually lost her Binary powers, wound up becoming an alcoholic, and pretty much embarrassing herself in front of the rest of the Avengers.

Once she gets back on her feet, Carol winds up changing her name yet again to Warbird and gets a new costume to boot. It looks pretty bad-ass, fitting for a black ops type. She keeps the mask, which is pretty cool. But what were they thinking with those elbow pads?

Eventually she goes back to the black costume, which she wears for most of the 2000s through the New Avengers era.

 

This brings us to her newest look. Carol winds up taking the mantle of Captain Marvel in a new upcoming series. The costume is based on the original Captain Marvel, pretty much inverting the red and blue sections. She’s ditched the lightning bolt, taking up his star burst icon.

Carol does keep some of her own style and fashion sense, as she’s keeping her signature red sash belt. With the new look, she gets a shorter haircut.

The costume also has a neat feature; it generates a retractable helmet. I imagine it makes her look something like Mandora from the Thundercats cartoons.

 

 

But wait! That’s not all of the Ms. Marvel costumes! Here are three other’s have donned while they have assumed the codename.

Sharon Ventura (more commonly known as She-Thing) assumed the identity of Ms. Marvel for a while. Sharon uses a red yellow and blue color scheme that combines elements of Carol’s costumes. Sharon even keeps the sash belt, except her’s is blue.

This version of Ms. Marvel was immortalized in an action figure by Toy Biz in the late 1990s, during that phase where they were making all of the more obscure characters. The figure was a repainted Jean Grey/Phoenix, and for some reason came with a huge machine gun.

 

In recent times, there were even two evil Ms. Marvels that were members of Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers teams.

On the left we have Moonstone, who took the classic 1980s, covered belly button look. It’s kind of hard to tell, but she kept up the scarf. Next to her, we have Superia, who seems to have mashed up the first Ms. Marvel costume with Sharon’s.

That covers the history of Ms. Marvel’s fashion choices. So which look was your favorite?

Chikara: I’ll Be A Mummy’s Uncle


Battling insects? A marching bandleader turned mixed martial artist and a football player fighting for the affections of a drum majorette? Demons from the Bled Isle in Slovenia? That’s typical in the world of Chikara Pro Wrestling.

This past Saturday, Chikara came to Rahway, NJ to hold the event “I’ll Be A Mummy’s Uncle.” You can view my pictures from the show here or in the slide show above.

Chikara blends elements of American, Japanese and Mexican professional wrestling styles with a healthy amount of comedy and comic book like characters to create something that is completely different. The main event featured Chikara stalwart ants the Colony teaming up with the promotion’s Grand Champion Eddie Kingston against a group of evil doppelgängers called the Gekido in a really awesome match that was really intense.

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I got to pose/meet with the evil serpent warrior Ophidian.

We were also treated to a comic book story/match with Ultramantis Black trying to win back his staff (think like Skeletor’s Havoc Staff) from the evil Ophidian. There was even the wacky comedy match of Mr. Touchdown fighting Archibald Peck, which was filled with mixed martial arts jokes.

If Chikara is having an event near you, by all means try go attend. Check out their website; they are having a contest where you can win tickets and travel to their June 2 show in Philadelphia, just a few doors down from the Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Show.

Uncanny X-Men #273

Uncanny X-Men #273 has the incredibly fitting tagline “Too Many Mutants! or Whose House is This Anyway?”. This issue has the three battle weary X-teams–X-Men, X-Factor and New Mutants–recovering from the events of the X-Tinction Agenda storyline at a battle ravaged X-Mansion.

Remember when there were ONLY three X-books?

Anyway, this is pretty much a Storm issue with her deciding what the future of the X-Men will be. Cable urges her to take a more proactive stance and preemptively strike threats to mutant and mankind. Jean Grey and Cyclops disagree with his plan. The conversation ends with Cable pretty much saying that he’s claiming the X-Mansion as his base of operation and that Storm has to decide whether she stays and shares his vision, or moves the X-Men in with X-Factor. Storm mulls the decision for the rest of the issue, only for the X-Men to be teleported out to the Shi’ Ar empire to save the long missing Professor X!

Along the way, there’s some fun scenes like the pictured Gambit/Wolverine battle in the Danger Room (where our favorite Cajun mutant wins by some awesome cheating), and Iceman and Boom Boom constantly bickering for comic relief.

Chris Claremont wrote this issue like it was a season premiere of a television show. It covers everything that had just happened previously in the X-books, but also sets up a whole year’s worth of stories like:

  • Cable’s more militant views of how they should operate, which leads to him taking the New Mutants out of the mansion and operating on their own as X-Force
  • Banshee receiving a distress signal from Moira Mactaggert and Jean Grey encountering the Shadow King on the Astral Plane, which sets up that summer’s Muir Isle Saga
  • Where Rogue was (which gets revealed soon after) and the whereabouts of Dazzler and Longshot (which gets told in the Shattershot storyline in the following summer’s X-book annuals).

Getting back to the creative side, inker Scott Hanna is the book’s MVP as he manages to tie the pages by John Byrne, Michael Golden, Klaus Janson, Jim Lee
Rick Leonardi, Whilce Portacio, Marc Silvestri and Larry Stroman together. You read that right; this book had eight different pencillers.