Fear Itself: Red Hulk

I read through another of the Fear Itself collections, this time featuring the adventures of the crimson Avenger none other than the Red Hulk. This is the first I’ve picked up of this series since the reveal of his secret identity, so I was a bit fuzzy on some of the particulars.

The first half of the story has Rulk battling it out against the fear-powered Thing. While this is going on, writer Jeff Parker has the story cut back to M.O.D.O.K. and Zero/One (a villain to this point I wasn’t introduced to but a hybrid human/robot that blames Rulk for her current state) debating whether this would be the time to kill Rulk. Instead, they realize that the Serpent, his herald Skadi and her Nazi legions would most likely take over, if not destroy, the planet. And with them in power, that would put a damper on their own evil plans so M.O.D.O.K. decides to fight the good fight.

I love in comic book stories have the villains switching sides, partially for their own needs but for the greater good. Redemption scenes/stories always warm my heart. And maybe I’m being a little too altruistic, since M.O.D.O.K. tried to kill Rulk. These things happen…

Anyway, Rulk winds up resurfacing at his parents’ old farm in Vermont with his Life Model Decoy sidekick/confidante Annie. This trip down memory lane was interrupted by the alien killing machine Omegex who has a simple mission: ending Rulk’s life.

Good thing Rulk is a master strategist; he turns back into General Ross which is too much for Omegex to comprehend, effectively resolving Omegex’s mission because Rulk was gone.

Where Parker excelled in this second act was visiting Ross’ past. You see that loss of life is something he continually had to deal with, whether it being his father dying in front of him as a child, or his wife’s death. That explains why he’s been so obscenely protective of his daughter over the years. It also give reason for why he’s such a great soldier; he’s detached himself from most of his humanity. With this emotional rebirth, it’s interesting to see what direction they will take with the character.

Ultimate Comics Hawkeye #1-4

I guess I still have a case of Avengers fever. Since the movie Hawkeye was based on the Ultimate version I decided to give Ultimate Comics Hawkeye a read.

Johnathan Hickman uses the mini series to not only set up future story lines, but as a way to show how much the title carrier is Nick Fury’s operative of choice, recounting their first meeting.

Hawkeye is sent into the war-torn South Eastern Asian Republic, only to find out that the country has released  a biological weapon to exterminate the world’s mutant population.The SEAR also developed  a serum to create their own army of meta humans allowing them to have the upper hand in future military conflicts.

Unfortunately for them, these lab-created meta-humans have revolted, lead by the Ultimate versions of Xorn and Zorn (who respectively lead their own groups called the Celestials and Eternals). It’s up to Hawkeye to get the serum that created Xorn, Zorn and company before they get out of control.

There was just something about this story that was off. I thought it would be more of a black ops type story, but it veered too into the Xorn/Zorn/Celestials/Eternals. It wasn’t that it was poorly executed, it really wasn’t what I was expecting.

On the other hand, Rafa Sandoval’s art was great. I’ve never read anything that he was on, and I must say I was impressed.

Wardrobe Dysfunction: Daredevil

Let’s look at the many–well not so many–costumes Marvel’s blind super hero Daredevil has worn into battle over the years. Matt Murdoch first donned his devil inspired costume in  April 1964′s Daredevil #1. He wore this red and yellow costume, which was designed by co-creator Bill Everett (of Namor creation fame) and Jack Kirby.

That costume only lasted for six issues. The Daredevil book was now being drawn by the great Wally Wood who switched him to his iconic all-red look. It works; Daredevil looks like a red devil, functional yet intimidating enough to evildoers in Hell’s Kitchen.

As a result of 1994′s “Fall From Grace” story line, Daredevil decided it was time to get a new more protective look. He came up with this black and red costume that features plate armor alongside over-sized shoulder and knee pads. It was the 1990s, what did you expect?

What I did like was that his billy clubs/attack poles condensed into his gauntlets. This look seems to get a lot of hate, but I thought it looked cool.

During last year’s “Shadowland” crossover, Daredevil was possessed by a devil, took over the Hand ninja clan and attempted to take over Manhattan. To show how evil he was, Daredevil took a cue from Darth Vader and went to an all black look. Either that, or it has a slimming effect on him. Once exorcised, he went back to his traditional look.

I kind of liked this for two reasons:

  1. In the made for television movie The Trial of the Incredible Hulk, Daredevil pretty much sported this look.
  2. In 2004, I met Marvel legend John Romita at the Baltimore Comic Con and chatted with him about a few things. We discussed how he thought that the Daredevil costume should have been all black, but no one else agreed with him. That said, it was cool seeing how right he was once I found out about this.

Oh and let’s show a bonus Daredevil costume. The D-lister D-Man (a shortened version of his name Demolition Man) is a professional wrestler turned metahuman super hero.

His costume is an intentional knock-off of both Daredevil and Wolverine. And for whatever reason, I think Daredevil’s costume works better on him than on Murdock.

When I first started paying attention to comics, this confused the heck out of me due to him looking like two different characters. D-Man is still popping up in the Marvel Universe, currently taking up the role of the villain-murdering identity Scourge of the Underworld.

Guy Gardner: Warrior #0

Later this year DC will be launching zero issues this September, but that isn’t the first time the publisher did that. After the Zero Hour crossover ended, the publisher spent October 1994 launching zero issues of established and new titles. They changed some characters and other continuity problems, some changes completely put the book on a new direction. Guy Gardner: Warrior #0 was one of those books.

At this point, Guy’s life was pretty miserable. His life had become filled with failure at that point. He had been kicked out of the Green Lantern Corps, lost his Yellow Lantern Ring, had some really odd body armor, and even attempted to be a non powered super hero.

And poor Guy didn’t think his life couldn’t get any weirder.

Guy finds out that he descends from a race of alien warriors from the planet Vuldar. The benefit of being a Vuldarian/Human hybrid is that he can shape shift his body into all kinds of weapons and other things, kind of like Random from X-Factor.

Now having new-found powers and a desire to use them, this revamp of Guy Gardner gave series writer a lot of wiggle room and resulted in some fun comics.

Guy got to keep his fun new powers for a few years, until Parallax erased his Vuldarian from his DNA, leaving him just an ordinary human again. That’s one way to erase continuity!

Kevin Keller Meets George Takei

The Former Captain Sulu and my all around favorite original Star Trekker George Takei is no stranger to being seen in comic books. But Kevin Keller #6 takes it one step furthur: George is crossing over as himself into the Archie Comics world!

This came as a result of Kevin’s creator Dan Parent talking up the idea to Takei at a comic convention.  With President Barack Obama, Sarah Palin, KISS and now Takei all coming to hang out in Riverdale, suddenly Archie seems a lot cooler than I remember.

SDCC 2012 Exclusives: GI Joe/Transformers Mash Up from Hasbro

Hasbro has some really cool GI Joe exclusives for Comic Con as well. Following up with last year’s Starscream/Cobra Commander team up, the toy company has some more fun stuff uniting Cobra with the Decepticons.

They are offering a modified Cobra H.I.S.S.–basically a souped up attack tank–that uses a plasma cannon as its main weapon. And that plasma cannon happens to be none other than the evil Shockwave in his non robot form. The vehicle is decorated in his color scheme of purple and grays.

The vehicle will come with two 3.75″ figures. It makes sense that Destro would team up with Shockwave, as they are the second-in-commands of their respective organizations. It also comes with one of Cobra’s robot B.A.T. soldiers. While neon green and purple might not be the best color choices for the battle field, these colors pay homage to the Constructicons. If it works for a gang of construction vehicles that turn into the menacing Devastator, its good for Cobra’s disposable soldiers.

What also is really amazing about this set is that it comes with Energon cubes (scientifically speaking, food for Transformers) and a scaled down Soundwave in his cassette player/boombox form. I’m really hoping that Hasbro has this available for purchase after San Diego.

Hasbro will also be selling two versions of GI Joe’s lady ninja Jinx, one in her traditional red look and the other in her GI Joe Retribution look.

Check Out The Latest The Dark Knight Rises Trailer

Electronics company Nokia of all places posted this new trailer for The Dark Knight Rises. Christopher Nolan’s final Batman film looks epic. I really like how it doesn’t look like a typical super hero or comic book movie. But there is one thing that doesn’t make me happy.

Bane’s mask looks ridiculous. I have a bad feeling that when I see the movie that my hatred for it is going to distract me the whole time. They better explain why it is so cheasy looking.

Anyway, the movie comes out on July 20. You can all celebrate my birthday by going out and seeing it.

Chikarasurus Rex: How To Hatch A Dinosaur

Hallowicked gets berated by Tim Donst. Photo by Flickr user Rick Foster.

A few weeks ago Chikara Pro Wrestling held their annual Chikarasaurus Rex event. This year’s installment, entitled “How To Hatch A Dinosaur.” I ordered the event live on internet pay per view on Go Fight Live, but only got to view it this past weekend. I got about an hour into it, and was side-tracked by a run through a cemetery while in need for band-aids. But that’s a story for another time.

The show was held at the Trocadero Theater in Philadelphia. I spent most of the mid-aughts going there to see a bunch of metal shows. Watching “How To Hatch A Dinosaur” made me miss those carefree days of yesteryear.

Anyway, about Chikara. This was a fun show to watch from top to bottom. The hair vs. mask match between Hallowicked and Tim Donst was superb, as was the ladder match with Akuma trying to take back his spot on the roster from Icarus.

The main event of F.I.S.T. versus the Young Bucks was amazing and blows away any preconceived notions about what a wrestling match is supposed to be, and at the same time shows why some of the best matches are not the ones you see on television.

If you’re a lapsed fan or just never followed Chikara too much, this is a great introduction. There about halfway through their 2012 season, and this show settles a bunch of feuds as well as starts new ones. You can view it online over at Smart Mark Video.

X-Factor #84

Let’s take a look back at X-Factor #82–the second part of the X-Cutioner’s Song crossover. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that this came out twenty years ago. God I’m getting old.

As the second part of a crossover running through four different ongoing series, the pacing on this is kind of odd but its forgivable. In part one, Professor X has just been shot by Cable and is in grave condition at a hospital. X-Factor’s government liaison Valerie Cooper is trying to get a handle on his status, as he’s apparently been infected with some sort of techno virus that is turning him into a machine. I hope that Professor X is covered by his HMO; this sounds expensive.

As this is going on, X-Factor is investigating what had happened at the crime scene. X-Force–without their leader Cable, cause he apparently just tried to assassinate Professor X–is also there. The two groups tussle for obvious reasons, with X-Factor

There is one scene that sticks out now as being odd in retrospect involving Wolfsbane and Rictor making out with Shatterstar watching. At the time it makes sense, since they are former teammates after all. But in modern-day, Rictor and Shatterstar are a couple, and I’m sure it must be awkward watching your significant other making out with a wolf chick.

Art in this issue was by Jae Lee. I guess this was still early in his career, as his artwork really reminded me of Sam Keith, with the dark moodiness, use of negative space and odd cartoonishly rendered characters. But that’s a good thing, as I enjoy both Lee and Keith’s work.

SDCC 2012 Exclusives: Marvel Comics Toys From Hasbro

It’s summertime and that means visions of San Diego Comic Con exclusives will be dancing in my head. Hasbro has a bunch of great stuff this year, mainly the Marvel Universe three pack of the Masters of Evil! Lead by Baron Zemo, the team is usually a group of whatever super villains that he can find available. This set features Zemo with Radioactive Man and Tiger Shark.

For me this is a must buy, since I’m a huge Namor fan. Really, when else will they make someone implicitly for the Sub-Mariner to fight? Not to mention, the translucent Radioactive Man is pretty sweet.

Marvel Legends fans can get a special three pack featuring Psylocke, Archangel and Wolverine in their grey combat gear from Uncanny X-Force comics. This is kind of passable for me, since I already have Marvel Legends of the characters featured.

The biggest thing–pun intended–Hasbro is offering is a four-foot long SHIELD Helicarrier! It’s a whole foot longer than the regular retail version. I think it also comes with an exclusive Maria Hill figure. As much as I would love to have this, I think I’m going to have to pass. If it’s going for $129.99, can only imagine what the shipping would be. But if one of my loving readers would like to gift this to me, I would be pretty grateful…

Andrew WK Is A Brony?

That’s right. Noted hard partier and all around awesome person Andrew WK will not only be participating in the My Little Pony fan convention Canterlot Gardens but will be hosting the panel discussion “In The Flesh: What Would Pinkie Pie Do?” on September 28. If that doesn’t make your head explode, I don’t know what will.

According to his website, AWK will

attempt to answer the question “What Would Pinkie Pie Do?” In this panel, W.K. who’s beloved for such anthemic songs as “Party Hard” and “We Want Fun”, considers himself to be the living embodiment of the positive, party pony, Pinkie Pie, and will talk about how to make your work as fun as your party and your party as important as your work.

Wow. That sounds amazing.

Andrew WK is a supporter of bronies everywhere, a subculture of adult male fans of My Little Pony. And if bronies are cool for Andrew WK, they’re cool with me.

Avengers 1959 #5

Better late than never. This issue concludes Howard Chaykin’s brilliantly done mini-series Avengers 1959. Is Nick Fury’s rag-tag group of super powered mercenaries able to Geoffrey Sydenham’s nefarious plot to usher in the next age of Nazi dominance thanks to some supernatural help from the evil spirit Dormammu?

Of course he does. He’s Nick Fury.

If there was any criticism of this issue, I guess it could be that it was light on plot. But to me that isn’t an issue; we’re reading the final issue of a short mini-series. Chaykin uses this issue as a violent pay off for the last four issues. His artwork is stellar, imaginatively pitting Kraven, Sabretooth and company against Nazis, zombies and even a group of super villains.

The ending is also left completely open, giving us the possibility that we’ll revisit this pre-Mad Men world. This is available as a collected volume and I highly recommend checking it out.

Green Arrow TV Show Is A Go!

CW’s new Green Arrow is a go! CW’s new prime time drama Arrow is about rich guy Oliver Queen turned vigilante after being stuck on a deserted island and learning to fend for himself. This preview is fairly grim and tone, but did you notice the cameo appearance towards the end?

There was a shot of the mask of Deathstroke the Terminator with an arrow through it. I guess that means we will be seeing him in Arrow at some point this season. The show airs on Wednesdays starting this fall.

Before Watchmen: Are You Watching This Commercial?

You know how movie studios plan big releases for the summer? The comics world does that too. DC Comics is bringing back the characters from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’  Watchmen twenty-five years later, this time by a bunch of current comics A-listers like Darwyn Cooke, JG Jones and Amanda Connor.In fact, DC is banking on this to do huge business. They’ve purchased television advertising time for the commercial above.

I’m not sure if I’m going to be checking this out. Some people are passing over this series for ethical issues. Or it’s not like some of my real-world friends, who just didn’t like Watchmen.

So why is n’t this being added to my reading list?

I think it might be because I enjoyed the original Watchmen story too much. I have no need to go back and revisit the adventures of Night Owl and company. There’s no need for this in my world. What I would have liked to have seen is them either do a post-Watchmen story, or even find a way on how to integrate them into the New 52. Either that or Watchmen Babies.

Well, Milhouse thinks it is cool!

I might actually check these out sometime, but not in the immediate future. It seems like something that I would pick up at the library once it is collected. Until then, I’m going to downgrade this to pass.

Spider-Island

Spider-Island was writer Dan Slott’s massive epic storyline from 2011 that somehow manages to be very subtle at the same time. The result is a fun story which has a butt load of fun. Peter Parker thinks that the least of his troubles is going to be Aunt May shipping off to moving to Boston when everyone in Manhattan–every day citizens and street criminals alike–winds up gaining spider powers.

So who is behind this arachnipowered mess?

Slott drudges up the Jackal (the green monstery looking fellow behind the ridiculous Clone Saga of the 1990s) and the even more obscure Spider-Queen. The duo has planned to turn everyone in New York into some sort of mindless spider/human hybrid that she conveniently has control of. There’s also two giant monster-sized spider creatures that are the transformed versions of Steve Rogers and Kaine (the sometimes villainous Peter Parker clone that has survived all these years).

As Spider-Man has to team up with the Avengers and the rest of the NYC based heroes to stop this, Slott does a great of balancing how this effects Peter personally. Peter’s girlfriend Carlie dumps when she finds out he’s really Spider-Man. He also has some weirdness with ex-girlfriend Mary Jane along the way.

The collected edition contains a few tie-in issues from the Venom series, with Flash Thompson having to balance his duties as a super hero with spending what little time he has left with his terminally ill father. There are also a bunch of scenes with both Flash-Venom and the Anti-Venom (the original host of Venom Eddie Brock now has a symbiote called Anti-Venom), and there is a bit of a weird love triangle between the two of them and the venom symbiote. Eep.

Ultimately the story ends with both Spidey and Anti-Venom being the heroes of the day, as the symbiote could cure Jackal’s mutations. The best scene in the story by far is when Peter records a viral video of himself encouraging everyone to use their powers for good and to not use them to loot the city.

Art on this was handles mostly by Humberto Ramos and Stefano Casselli, who I’ve been a huge fan of since his days on the Devil’s Due GI Joe stuff. I can’t describe what it is exactly  that I enjoy about his work, but it just does it for me.

Spider-Island was definitely a fun read. A great book to bring along while on vacation or at the beach.

Deathstroke #9

Rob Liefeld. Deathstroke the Terminator. Lobo. This comic has everything that was great about the 1990s. With Hawk and Dove cancelled, Rob Liefeld moves over to Deathstroke starting with this issue.

I haven’t been following this title previously, and issue #9 establishes the Deathstroke-verse pretty quickly. Slade is at the grave of his deceased wife reminiscing, even to the point he is carrying a picture of her. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone carry a picture of a loved one when going to the cemetery, but I digress. Anyway, this happy moment is spoiled.

Slade winds up dispatching some commando types and some teen meta-humans called the Omegas (I wonder if this is an allusion to the Omega Men), as apparently some sort of test by a new character named Maxim. His goal is simple: to hire Deathstroke to kill Lobo, who has escaped imprisonment. Along with the Omegas and Zealot from WildCATs fame, our mercenary hero is off to collect his bounty.

This story kind of reminds me when my younger brother and I would play super heroes as kids. We would mix all the toys together, and before you know it, Spider-Man and Batman would be riding a Wheeled Warrior vehicle against Krang from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Anyway, this was light enough to warrant waiting for the next issue. Typical super hero comics stuff. Art wise, the one thing that I noticed was that Liefeld’s backgrounds were kind of sparse. The colorists seemed to have improvised a lot to fill the pages.

Frank Miller’s Holly Terror Star The Fixer’s Missing Debut

Remember the Fixer from Frank Miller’s Holy Terror graphic novel? Miller admitted that it was a stand in for Batman, but there is a secret history to the Fixer. A Reddit user who went to high school with Miller stumbled over this: a comic strip that Miller did as a teenager called the Fixer!

It’s interesting from a historical perspective, seeing how elements of his style go back this far.

Wardrobe Dysfunction: Alan Scott, Green Lantern of Earth-2

With all the Alan Scott news and commentary, this installment of Wardrobe Dysfunction looks at the original Green Lantern. The character was created by Martin Nodell and debuted in All-American Comics #16. Would you believe that in 82 years of comic book appearances, this Green Lantern really hasn’t any costume changes?

For the most part, he’s how he’s picture above from the cover of his first appearance. He wore a red collared shirt and green slacks. Depending on the fashion trends and the artist drawing him at the time, sometimes the outfit was more form-fitting. His boots are always red, with some sort of gold accents. As for his cape, it’s usually two toned; the interior light green and the outside a dark grey, sometimes purple-ish. That was mostly to avoid having a whole black patch due to the printing at the time.

As far as his age, Alan Scott would get aged and de-aged from time to time, going back and forth from being a late 30s something to being an old man.

During the mid 1990s, Alan Scott started using the codename Sentinel and got a more modern look. It was a green and red body suit. The logo in the center changed from time to time, as he used the Green Lantern Corps insignia (as he was an honorary member), his classic old lantern, and even a star design (it turned out his power ring drew power from a cosmic force known as the Starheart and not the Oan Power Battery). He kept this look until the Justice Society had a revamp shortly after, and went back to his classic costume.

And as a trivia note, the woman in the background of the picture is Harlequin, a villain who based her life on Alan’s then wife Molly. Ultimately it was her goal to kill Molly and take her place as Alan’s wife.

The next new look for Alan was designed by Jim Ross for the alternate future story Kingdom Come. It was emerald knight armor.

Which brings us to his new look, which combines elements of the emerald armor with the standard Green Lantern costume. The color scheme is a lot simpler, just black and green. Alan looks now closer to being a member of the Green Lantern Corps then ever before.