Friday Fights #1: Doctor Doom vs. Darth Vader

 

I decided it was time to start a new feature here at Ridiculously Awesome. This one is called Friday Fights, where we examine what would happen if two characters from comic book, cartoon and general geek culture were to tussle.

The rules are simple; the two combatants are fighting each other in a neutral environment, where neither would get the other hand because of their surroundings. Neither has any preparation; they are just carrying what they would normally have on them.

This week’s match-up features everyone’s favorite Eastern European despot Doctor Doom against the Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader.

THE ARMOR: Darth Vader’s armor is more so designed to keep him alive than for combat and weaponry purposes. Doom’s is fully functioning robotic armor, with all kinds of offensive and defensive capabilities, plus various scanners and intelligence gathering devices. Whether Vader tries to attack him by lightsaber or telekinetic-ally through the Force, Doom is protected. ADVANTAGE:  Doctor Doom

THE FORCE OR SORCERY: Darth Vader is a master of using the Dark Side of the Force. He can attack people through telekinesis, either by electrical discharge or blunt force. He also seems to have some telepathic skills as well. Doom is more than just a genius in robotic armor; he is also one of Earth’s greatest sorcerers. ADVANTAGE:  Neither

COMBAT: Vader has been trained as a Jedi, and he is way the superior hand-to-hand combatant. Plus he has a lightsaber. Although just as ruthless, Doom has no where the skill to match Vader in this area. ADVANTAGE:  Darth Vader

EMOTIONAL STATE: Darth Vader gains his determination from the sadness that is his life, suffering from borderline personality disorder. Doom is just as messed up, as his arrogance always seems to get the best of him. ADVANTAGE:  Neither.

SO HOW WOULD IT END: Doom would be on the run, defending himself using his seemingly endless supply of on hand gadgets and sorcery from Vader’s physicallity. Once Doom would realize that the heavy breathing coming from Vader was a weakness and how destroying his respirator would cripple the Dark Lord of the Sith, it would be shortly over. An immobilized, hyperventilating Vader is no match for the diabolical Doctor Doom. WINNER: Doctor Doom

Alpha Flight #1-6

Alpha Flight had a brief reintroduction during the Feat Itself storyline. Canada’s favorite (and only)  team comes back, this time in what can only be described as a super powered political thriller.

The Unity Party has come to power in the Canadian government and has Alpha Flight in their sites. The city of Vancouver was heavily damaged by the Fear-powered Attuma, and the super hero team has been blamed for failing to protect the city. Alpha Flight is on the run from the government. This kind of reminds me a lot like the Civil War storyline, except this time it’s across Canada.

It’s revealed that the Unity Party is secretly led by none other than longtime nemesis Master of the World (who simultaneously has the coolest and lamest name of any super villain ever). He’s dispatched a squadron of old Alpha Flight villains out to take them out.

While this is going on, the team is having their own personal difficulties to overcome. The Vindicator has begrudgingly teamed up to hunt her former teammates in exchange for regaining custody of her daughter. Northstar’s boyfriend Kyle has been taken prisoner by the Unity Party and is undergoing some sort of mental reprogramming that all non-Unity Party members are being forced into. And to make matters worse, Northstar’s sister Aurora is having a relapse with her split personality disorders. As a light Alpha Flight reader, even I know that isn’t good.

At least the team had the good sense to put out a call to Wolverine for some help and assistance in liberating Canada. What makes this

This was written by the team of Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente, both of whom I’ve been a big fan of. I really liked that this wasn’t heavy on prior Alpha Flights history. I’ll admit, I was never that big of a fan. But I was able to pick up what had happened in previous volumes. Dale Eaglesham’s art was great as usual, and I’m sure him being a Canadian made the depictions of the cities more accurate. Fun stuff; you should check it out.

Tragedy In Aurora, Colorado

I would be remiss to not talk about the horrible tragedy at the midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises on July 20 in Aurora, Colorado where a gunman stormed a movie theater with tear gas and gunfire, killing twelve people and injuring dozens before being apprehended by local authorities. I can’t even imagine the sadness felt by the survivors of this incident, let alone how the family and friends of those who lost their lives.

What gets me most about this is how senseless the killings are. These were people who just really liked Batman and were excited to be the first people to see the movie so they could tell their family, friends, loved ones and co-workers how much they enjoyed it. Instead, the survivors are telling how horrific the whole night was. And they are the lucky ones; twelve people didn’t get to go home or get to tell their family they were safe.

We read comic books and watch their subsequent adaptation because of the heroism of the characters, standing up to protect people and to do the right thing. That night there were real-life heroes. Three men died protecting their girlfriends. Each day there are more accounts from survivors risked their own lives to help others in that movie theater.

These people truly are heroes, willingly putting themselves in harm’s way to help another. It reminds me of General Omar N. Bradley’s quote from World War II

Bravery is the capacity to perform properly even when scared half to death.

And these people were all truly brave. If you want to help, Jason Boog from GalleyCat compiled a list of ways you can help organizations serving the people of Aurora, Colorado.

The Dark Knight Rises Review

Can you think of a better way to spend your birthday then seeing the final chapter of the Christopher Nolan Batman series of films? I couldn’t think of one either and spent this morning going out to see The Dark Knight Rises. Be warned; there are plenty of spoilers ahead.

The movie starts roughly eight years after The Dark Knight. Batman is still a wanted fugitive after accepting responsibility for Harvey Dent’s death, and Bruce Wayne hasn’t been seen since. The debut of a new terrorist/mercenary force lead by a new villain named Bane causes Bruce to take up the mantle of Batman for one last ride.

The result was a story that combined elements of the Knightfall, Cataclysm and No Man’s Land storylines, with Batman having to recover from a crippling defeat at the hands of Bane only to save Gotham City from certain doom after it has been cut off from the rest of civilization.

That said, I think I enjoyed this film the most. I liked how intertwined all of the characters were and pretty much everyone knew that Bruce Wayne and Batman were one and the same. At the key of this film was the complex relationships all of the characters had with each other and issues of trust. Sometimes Bruce’s trust was violated (in the case of Bruce and Miranda Tate, who turned out to be none other than Ra’s Al Ghul’s daughter Tate and was seeking to avenger her father’s death from back in Batman Begins); other times it was earned (as was the case with Batman and Catwoman).

The other theme in The Dark Knight Rises is moving on. Alfred urged to Bruce that someday he would have to give up being Batman and have a chance to have a normal life. Bruce somehow manages to do that at the end of the film; saving the city and seemingly dying in an explosion. It’s a fitting end for the Batman persona, as he not only saves the city he so dearly cares about but finally sees the impact that he had on its citizens, as they openly mourned the loss of their dark protector. This allows him to resurface in Europe with Catwoman, who was also searching for a chance to start over, and start a normal life.

Although this is the end of the film series, they leave an opening for a new Batman to guard the city. Detective Blake (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) knew that Batman and Bruce Wayne were one in the same, and did everything in his power to help the vigilante come back to save the city from Bane. At the end of the film, he gets given access to Batman’s arsenal of crime fighting equipment.

There’s a whole bunch more I can talk about on this film but I need some time to digest. So what did you think about this?

Man of Steel Movie Poster And Thoughts On New Superman Movie

Big Blue is back!

San Diego Comic Con attendees were able to pick up a poster to promote Zack Snyder’s Superman movie reboot Man of Steel last week. Not only that, but Snyder announced that there was going to be a teaser trailer attached to The Dark Knight Rises.

Color me excited.

Superman’s last big screen adventure was in 2006′s Superman Returns, which was a frustrating affair. I do give credit for director Bryan Singer trying to tie it in with the previous films. The result was unfortunate; the film was glacially paced (no pun intended, even though much of the film took place in the Fortress of Solitude).

Snyder’s over-the-top style will make for a make for a fun film. You can follow the production over at http://www.manofsteel.com. Man of Steel hit the big screen on June 14, 2013.

Marc Silvestri: Free “Cyber Force” Comics Through Kickstarter?

So who here has checked out Kickstarter? The website is a way to get sponsorship/patronage for artistic endeavors. A bunch of comic books and comic related projects have received sponsorship from the website, most prominently Dave Sim was able to fund-raise over $60,000 for an audio/visual adaptation of Cerebus: High Society. Image Comics co-founder Marc Silvestri is taking fan-sourcing one step further with the relaunch of Cyber Force.

Cyber Force featured a team of cyborg mutant heroes, first published back in 1992 as one of the original Image Comics titles. Over the last twenty years, the characters have appeared on and off. But for the next relaunch of the series, Silvestri is turning to Kickstarter.

In the past, fans have been able to support projects they wanted through Kickstarter. It goes something like this:

  1. Creator makes appeal to audience, asking for them to sponsor the project. As incentive, they give sponsors a copy of the work or some other token of appreciation.
  2. Once they get the desired funding, they use said funds to pay for/support themselves while producing the project.
  3. Project gets sold, creator makes money and sponsors feel they did their part.

According to the Los Angeles Times’ Hero Complex, Silvestri plans on doing something different with the Kickstarter model. He plans on using it to fund the project, then distribute it for free, both digitally and physically.

So because of that mind-set our unique plan to reintroduce Top Cow’s original launch series “Cyber Force” using Kickstarter fits right in. Kickstarter itself is a genius idea and a win-win for everybody, really. And we want to use its crowd-sourced funding in typical Top Cow fashion, meaning differently. While most everybody uses Kickstarter to fund a project in order to build it and then sell it, we at Top Cow are going to use the funds to build “Cyber Force” and give it away — for free! Plus we’re not talking just one issue but five full issues of the comic. And it won’t be free just digitally, but also as a full-color printed comic that will be available at any participating comic shop. So for people that want to read “Cyber Force” digitally — yes, including torrent sites — it’s free. And for anyone wanting to hold a traditional comic in their hands to read it — it’s still free. We figure this is a great way to reward loyal comic fans plus get new people to get onboard reading comics and see what they’ve been missing. Plus it allows fans to actually get involved in the comic making process and be part of something truly groundbreaking that will help all of us that love the genre.

 

So Silvestri and company are doing this for free. Well, sort of. The cost of making the comic, including financial compensation for the creative staff, production costs and printing distribution, is all coming from crowdsourcing. I wonder if any of the other major publishers are going to give this a try. This might be the only way we can get another Longshot mini-series. What do you think?

Marvel’s Upcoming Movie Calendar: Guardians of the Galaxy and Beyond

Marvel Studios unveiled a new slate of films for the next two years. So what does the film division of the “House of Ideas” have for us? The biggest announcement was the confirmation of a Guardians of the Galaxy film, slated to come out on August 1, 2014. For most people new to comics or just fans of the movies, the question is why should you be excited about this.

Guardians of the Galaxy first debuted in Marvel Super Heroes #18 back in 1969, a few months before Apollo 11 landed on the moon. Space travel was a big thing at the time and Arnold Drake and Gene Colan created a team of super powered aliens in the 31st century. Present day astronaut Vance Astrovik (with a name like that he really could do nothing else than be an astronaut) is rocketed into space in suspended animation and wakes up way far into the future. That must have been one hell of a nap.

Anyway, Vance teams up with some well-meaning alien warriors to stop the Badoon, a race of genocidal aliens bent on conquering the universe. Occasionally the Guardians would travel back to present day in crossovers with the Avengers and Defenders. The team is probably best known for Image Comics founder Jim Valentino’s series from the early 1990s.

Guardians of the Galaxy was rebooted a few years back, this time taking place in the present day. Long story short, it’s a collection of Marvel’s alien heroes teaming up to prevent catastrophes, whether they be cosmic natural disasters or intergalactic warfare. I would assume that the film will be of how the team gets together and has to save Earth from something awful. Maybe they even might involve Thanos, since it looks like this will be out before Avengers 2,

So who are the Guardians? Based on the concept art that Marvel revealed it looks like the team is the following:

  • Star-Lord: a human who winds up becoming an intergalactic police officer.
  • Gamora: Thanos’ adopted daughter who happens to be the most deadly woman in the Marvel Universe (think a lady version of Chuck Norris).
  • Groot: A humanoid living tree who debuted in Tales to Astonish long before the Fantastic Four.
  • Rocket Raccoon: An anthropomorphic raccoon with mastery of combat and military strategy.
  • Drax the Destroyer: A synthetic humanoid created to kill Thanos.

So yeah, it sounds like Thanos is going to be involved in this. Call it a hunch.

Anyway, this is a big gamble since it is going to be a movie featuring C and D list characters. No matter how great the film is, it’s going to be a harder sell to the public. Do you remember the last time you saw a Drax t-shirt? Me neither. I would assume they are banking on how well received the previous Marvel did. At the very least I hope I can get a stuffed Rocket Raccoon out of this.

As for the rest of the announcements:

  • Ant-Man will be directed by Edgar Wright (of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz fame). They even showed some test footage of it, which sadly hasn’t leaked out yet. Apparently they were super-strict about the no photography/videography rule.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier is slated for April 4, 2014 and pretty much confirms that Bucky will be back, turned into the Soviet killing machine. It’s reported that Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker) is in negotiations to play the role of the Falcon, Cap’s sidekick/partner.
  • Thor: The Dark World comes out November 8, 2013. Just in time for Halloween!

Save Our Comic Book Stores

Fresh Comics

Photo from Flickr user Sam Howzit

San Diego Comic Con has come and gone. There’s a bunch of things that I want to talk about. One of the biggest things to come of out of this has to do with how your local comic book shop is run. Diamond–the company that pretty much gets all the comic books you read into your hands–is attempting to modernize the business model.

In a media landscape where digital content has trumped its physical counterpart, printed comics has seen an increase in sales in the last year. Diamond wants to subsidize modern point of sales terminals (in plain words, those fancy computer registers) for comic shops.

This is quite a big deal; Bleeding Cool goes as far as calling it the biggest thing to be announced at Comic Con. So what does that mean?

Retailers will be able to have a current POS terminal, allowing them to monitor inventory, upcoming orders and reorders, and customer management. They can run all kinds of fancy reports and such, helping them have a better grasp on their business. It will also help them with reorders, whether it be they sell out of something and need additional orders, or if they are helping a customer with a back order (which is better than saying they don’t have it and losing the sale to an online competitor like Amazon).

The only negative I see to this is how the subsidized purchase works. Comics Beat explains it a little further:

Diamond Comic Distributors announced today that it is working with eight of the comic book specialty market’s leading suppliers to offer up to $6250 in free backlist merchandise to qualified retailers who purchase Diamond’s Point-of-Sale system…As an award-winning certified Microsoft service provider, Diamond has sold and supported the company’s Retail Management System™ (RMS) point of sale software since 2008. In addition, Diamond’s ComicSuite™ add-on software allows RMS to seamlessly interact with Diamond’s operating systems. BOOM! Studios, Dark Horse Comics, DC Entertainment, Diamond Select Toys, Dynamite Entertainment, IDW Publishing, Image Comics, and Marvel Comics have all agreed to make a selection of in-stock graphic novels and merchandise available for free to participating retailers. Subsidies are available at the $6250 level for retailers purchasing a full software and hardware package, or $3250 for retailers purchasing just software. Please visit Diamond’s Retailer Services Website for complete details.

So what does that mean?

Well it’s not a straight up subsidy where the retailer is getting the register for free. The retailer has to purchase the POS from Diamond, and they then get a credit to get merchandise for free, which the publishers have donated for the program. For the retailers sake I hope the titles available are something they can sell like Walking Dead as opposed to Essential Dazzler Volume 2. Diamond is assuming that they can get retailers on board with this. If the retailer can sell all of the “subsidy” products, they can turn a profit on the deal. Any money they make after they pay off the POS upgrade is pure profit.

I’m interested in how this turns out. I’m very curious to how this will play out. What do you think?

SDCC 2012 Exclusives: DC Collectibles Green Lantern Action Figure 2-Pack

DC Collectibles (the former DC Direct) has this set of 3.75″ action figures as a San Diego Comic Con exclusive. But what’s more interesting than that is that this is part of a new line of convention-exclusive action figures.

This new line of figures can only be bought at conventions, which I don’t know how I feel about. I think they look really cool, mostly because they are the same scale as the Marvel Universe line. This finally gives me the opportunity to integrate DC’s finest alongside their Marvel counterparts, GI Joe and even Star Wars.

But, since this will be a super limited line, it will be pretty hard to collect. That I’m not too fond of. I’m sure people will be scalping these on eBay and at finer comic book stores everywhere.

That said, I do think that Kilowog and Kyle Rayner look awesome. I like that the line is starting with two lesser known characters, appearing to wear their standard, non-New 52 costumes.

They’re retailing this set at $25, which to me is a price point that just puts it out of consideration. However, if they release a Booster Gold and Blue Beetle set all bets are off. You can find out more about the line here.

Amazing Fantasy #15

So let’s talk about the first appearance of Spider-Man in Amazing Fantasy #15, which I am so proud to have in my collection. Well not the original, but one of the thousands of reprints they’ve made over the years.

Anyway, Steve Ditko and Stan Lee launched Marvel’s most recognizable character with this. I’m not going to talk about the story, because everyone and there mother knows it. So why is Spider-Man one of the most enduring characters in comics?

It’s because his origin and makes so much sense. Superman is just a super-powered alien who feels he has to be helpful. Captain America is fighting the good fight, a holdover from World War II. Batman is just motivated by revenge. This was all expanded over the years.

But Amazing Fantasy #15 fleshes out the character instantly. Peter Parker is constantly bullied, but winds up with these amazing (no pun intended) powers. And his arrogance disrupts his life; it’s his fault that Uncle Ben died. Peter takes it upon himself to make sure no one ever experiences the loss of a loved one to a criminal.

The beauty is that you get all of that out of one issue. After you read this, you know everything about Peter Parker, his life, his motivations, everything. This just might be the best debut of a character ever.

X-Sanction #2-4

It’s six months later and I’ve finally gotten past issue #1 of X-Sanction. This Loeb and McGuinness pretty much sets up the whole Avengers vs. X-Men crossover this summer in a quick manner.

The whole point of X-Sanction was to set up a rift between the two camps. Cable is protecting his adopted daughter Hope–the last mutant and the future savior of mutantkind–from the Avengers. And by protecting her, I mean killing the Avengers.

Cable is under the assumption that they will kill his daughter and he won’t allow that. Loeb uses a series of flashbacks to the future where Cable finds out that the Avengers wind up possessing several weapons designed to kill mutants. Because the Avengers are awesome, Cable is nearly dead thanks to being physically beaten and the techno-organic virus wreaking havoc on his body. Hope–now controlling the Phoenix force–is able to not only save her adopted father, but completely remove the techno-organic virus, something that has not been accomplished in the disease’s twenty plus year history.

What it also accomplishes is a huge distrust between Captain America and Cyclops, which again makes this a starting point for Avengers vs. X-Men.

So should you read this?

I’m going to say its you can pass it. Don’t get me wrong, it all made sense story wise and McGuinness’ art is always great. But at the same time, this is just a feeder story for another crossover.You can skip this and start straight at Avengers vs. X-Men #1 without losing anything.

Amazing Spider-Man #1

So who saw Amazing Spider-Man for the fourth of July? I didn’t. But I did read the first issue of Spidey’s ongoing series from March 1963.

Amazing Spider-Man #1 wasn’t the first appearance of the wall crawler; he debuted seven months prior in Amazing Fantasy #14. This first issue by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee sets up the tone and direction the character would take.

Basically it really sucks to be Peter Parker. He’s still grieving the loss of Uncle Ben, and him and Aunt May are dealing with some serious financial hardships.

In the first story, Peter get super depressed after finding out that Aunt May has been selling her jewelry and such at the local pawn shop. She can’t pay the bills since Uncle Ben was murdered, which he still blames himself for. Peter plans a stage show with a promoter to get some money quickly. Unfortunately for him (and leading to an absolutely hilarious scene) Spider-Man can’t cash the check because he doesn’t have a Social Security card. I couldn’t stop laughing about this.

As this goes on, we meet J. Jonah Jameson for the first time and he hates Spider-Man.. How much? Even though Spider-Man saves his astronaut son from cashing to his demise, the elder Jameson makes the cover of the Daily Bugle have the headline “This Newspaper Demands That Spider-Man Be Arrested And Prosecuted!”

With the public fearing Spider-Man, Peter will never be able to make any money to support his family.

The second feature continues this “must find money” theme with Spider-Man attempting to join the Fantastic Four. Unfortunately he goes about that the wrong way; breaking into their headquarters at the Baxter Building and then asking them about the financial compensation they get for being heroes wasn’t the best way to go about winning them over. This day only gets worse as he has to stop the Chameleon is masquerading as him in order to steal missile defense plans to sell to the Soviets.

What Ditko and Lee did in this issue was get across how much it sucks to be Peter Parker. Nothing in his life works out. It’s his fault his uncle is dead. It’s his fault that his aunt is just scraping to get by. He has these great powers and abilities, yet everyone fears him. Not only that, but he does so much to help the world and gets nothing to compensate himself. Yet he has to, as he is compelled to do so.

This is why Spider-Man is so likable; he’s down on his luck and anyone can relate to that. Peter Parker is an every man underdog. This was such a fun issue to read; it still holds up nearly fifty years later.

Where I Learned To Love Spider-Man

I’ve been a life-long comic book and super hero fan. But where did it begin? Let’s take a trip in the way back machine to the early 1980s…let’s say 1983. A toddler version of myself  encountered his super hero not in the comic books, but on the television show The Electric Company.

Just listen to that theme song. How awesome is that. According to my mother, I would sing that for hours and hours. It only got worse when I was given my first ever Spider-Man toy: an action figure from the Secret Wars line in 1985.

But anyway, Spider-Man was regularly featured on PBS’s kid show The Electric Company. The series was a kid friendly variety show that originally was made from 1971 through 1975, but ran as reruns way into the 1980s.

One of the recurring skits  was the adventures of Spider-Man (with that amazing intro song). Spidey would solve mysteries and fight crime. It may look campy by today’s standards, but as a little dude in the eighties, that was mind-blowing.

So thanks to this, I have a life-long love of comic books. All thanks to public television!