Friday Fights #15: B.A. Baracus vs. Sgt. Slaughter

baracus-vs-sgt-slaughter

 

It’s time for two of the toughest men from the 1980s–in comics, cartoons, toys and even professional wrestling–to tussle. We’re talking about the A Team’s B.A. Baracus taking on Sgt. Slaughter!

(For clarity sake, we’re just talking about the characters from the A Team and GI Joe)

SIZE MATTERS:  Baracus would literally be looking up at Slaughter; exactly eight inches. His height of 5′ 10″ is dwarfed by the drill sergeant’s 6′ 6″. Slaughter is also the beefier of the two men, weighing in at 286 pounds, about sixty more than Baracus. ADVANTAGE: Slaughter

DECORATED SOLDIERS: Slaughter’s military service is well-known. He would have to be extremely well-trained to have been given the task of being the head instructor/trainer of the United States’ best special operations group. Baracus has a similar military pedigree, having been a well decorated sergeant himself in the United States’ Special Forces before becoming a fugitive. ADVANTAGE: Tie.

WEAPONS: Obviously, the two of them are adept at physical hand-to-hand combat. But what separates them is that in the A Team, Baracus has pretty much used every type of military weapon–handguns, artillery, tanks, mortars, explosives, you name it. Granted, it’s all dependent on what’s available to be used, but pretty much anything is a weapon in Baracus’ hands. ADVANTAGE: Baracus

SO WHO WINS?: You can not take Slaughter’s size and strength advantage into consideration. But you do have to realize how cagey a fighter his opponent is. Baracus would use whatever he could use to smack Slaughter around, whether it’s a vacuum cleaner, a fire extinguisher or even his beloved van. That said, I pity the fool who doesn’t take B.A. seriously. WINNER: B.A. Baracus by a slight advantage

The Amazing Spider-Man

Andrew Garfield doing the sad Charlie Brown head-down walk in The Amazing Spider-Man

Andrew Garfield doing the sad Charlie Brown head-down walk in The Amazing Spider-Man

Oh boy.

I finally got around to seeing The Amazing Spider-Man. It’s not for a lack of interest in the character; Spider-Man has been among my favorites for as long as I can remember. The unfortunate combination of being really busy and being fearful of what a post-Sam Raimi Spider-Man film series would be like made me put off seeing the latest film until this week.

The new movie rehashed the whole Peter Parker becomes the Spider-Man plot with a few modifications. Peter’s dad was a research scientist for Oscorp who mysteriously was killed, with the assumption that this happened at Norman Osborn’s bequest. Peter goes on to be raised by his aunt and uncle as an awkward teenager, gets bitten by a radioactive spider and becomes a vigilante after his actions indirectly lead to the murder of his Uncle Ben. This pretty much took up two-third of the film. From then on, it’s up to Peter and his girlfriend Gwen Stacy to stop an Oscorp scientist (who used to work with Peter’s father) that’s turned himself into a lizard monster from turning everyone in Manhattan into a lizard monster.

The plot was kinda flimsy but it worked. But the biggest problem was how unlikable Andrew Garfield was as Spider-Man. This I blame not so much on him, but no the writing and directing. One of the cornerstones of the whole Spider-Man mythos is how strong Peter’s relationship with Uncle Ben and Aunt May is. In the movie, they pretty much considered him a burden and Peter wanted nothing to do with them. Garfield’s take on

Peter wasn’t as much the shy, introspective type, but more so of a jerk. One of the reasons why that Peter is an enduring character is that he reminds us of how shy and insecure we are. But Garfield was just a too.There was way too much teenage angst in this film for my liking. I felt glad when Flash Thompson picked on him. Again, this isn’t to say that Garfield wasn’t an acceptable Peter Parker. There was just a lot of unfortunate dialogue and character development. If there’s anything to complain about Garfield is that he’s about ten years too old to be playing a character in high school.

The other thing that didn’t work for me was how they really geared this film to a generation to a generation of teenage girls who grew up reading Twilight books. They were really pushing the whole romance angle between Peter and Gwen, more-so than Peter overcoming everything to become a hero and dealing with the ever-increasing dilemmas of having a secret life.

That said, I’m not completely down on this movie. The fight sequences and special effects (although over-relied upon) were really well done. Emma Stone’s Gwen and Dennis Leary as her father, Detective Stacy, really carried the movie, especially Stone.

Ultimately, The Amazing Spider-Man was a decent film that needed some improvements, mostly making its protagonist someone you could actually connect with on some level. Hopefully they will get that resolved for the 2014 sequel. And if they want to completely reboot the series, I’m sure Donald Glover would be interested. 

It’s the Gobbledy Gooker

Who remembers the Gobbledy Gooker?  I certainly do. This over-sized turkey first appeared at the WWF’s Survivor Series in 1990. So how did we wind up with a turkey in the world of professional wrestling?

Before we start that, we do have to acknowledge that Thanksgiving night was traditionally one of the biggest days for professional wrestling events. The logic behind that is that by the evening, everyone is antsy from sitting around all day eating and wants something to do. Having a big event provides a perfect alternative from sitting around eating and listening to Uncle Jimmy tell the same tired story over and over again. Don’t believe me? The NFL and NCAA schedule tons of football games on Thanksgiving day, and wrestling promoters followed suit.

The WWE’s November pay per view event Survivor Series originally aired on Thanksgiving night, providing many a family with some much-needed entertainment. The 1990 show had a mystery of sorts to it, as to what exactly was in the big egg.

WWE programming would feature a big egg, with various personalities wondering what was inside. Was it a returning wrestler who had been not on television in a while? Had some huge star from one of their competitors like Sting decided to join the WWE? I remember watching every Saturday morning what was in the mysterious egg.

So what was in the egg?

A big giant turkey. Literally. Survivor Series watchers were treated to the debut of the Gobbledy Gooker…an anthropomorphic turkey that was full of enthusiasm. Unfortunately, the crowd wasn’t that receptive to the bird.

For the next few weeks, they tried to make the Gobbledy Gooker cool by having him hang out with various WWE personalities. This didn’t help the turkey, and eventually his goose was cooked after a few weeks.

Since then, the Gobbledy Gooker has made sporadic Thanksgiving time appearances in the WWE, usually as someone else wearing the costume to surprise their opponents.

The original Gooker was none other than Hector Guerrero, whom I got to meet at a TNA event in Trenton a few years back. He’s currently their Spanish-language announcer, and  super nice guy. It’s worth checking out his non-Gobbledy Gooker matches on YouTube.

(Black) Friday Fights #15: Black Bolt vs. Black Adam

Happy day after Thanksgiving! For you non-American readers, the day after our Thanksgiving holiday is called Black Friday; it’s a big shopping holiday to start the Christmas season. So what better way to have Black Friday’s Friday Frights feature two dark-clothed kings: Black Bolt and Black Adam.

In the Marvel Universe, Black Bolt is the head of the royal family that governs the Inhumans, a branch of mankind that evolved to have extra-normal powers like the mutants. Black Adam gets his power from magic, similar to Captain Marvel, and is the self-appointed ruler/protector of the small Middle Eastern nation of Khandaq.

On paper, Black Adam is much more powerful than his inhuman opponent. Adam is ridiculously strong, fast, can fly, pretty much indestructible. He is pretty much a Superman level opponent. Not only that, but he does have some magical abilities that are never clearly explained.

Black Bolt is no slouch either, but he can’t physically match up with Black Adam. He does have the ability to manipulate energy into anything from concussive blasts to creating force fields. There is also a reason he never (well rarely) speaks; his vocal chords produce a super-sonic effect, destroying everything around him. And with this power being so uncontrollable, he’s extremely hesitant to use it.

But when in combat with someone as powerful as Black Adam, he might not be as hesitant to bust it out. WINNER: Black Bolt, with a last-minute scream.

 

 

Amazing Spider-Man #698: Invasions of the Body Snatchers

Amazing Spider-Man #698 came out today, and it is definitely one of those issues that was designed to be a big deal. So what’s so special about this? Peter Parker dies.

Completely simplifying it, an ailing Doctor Octopus was able to switch bodies with Spider-Man. The eight-limbed villain switched bodies with Spider-Man, leaving poor Peter to die in his old body. Octopus gets to live on, having assumed Peter’s identity and life.

Amazing Spider-Man is getting re-launched as Superior Spider-Man in January, so I’m sure this storyline will have some sort of temporary resolution, with the long-term leading to Peter Parker returning to his status quo of being Spider-Man and you know, being alive.

So how does Spidey come back?

Someone, say Mary Jane or even Aunt May could make some sort of deal with Mephisto to restore the status quo. This would be a bookend of sorts to the One More Day storyline where Mary Jane made a deal with the devil to save Aunt May’s live in exchange for her relationship with Peter to have never existed. Is it possible that Mephisto would offer someone else a similar deal to save Peter’s life?

Spider-Man also has an outstanding favor due to him from Loki. In Amazing Spider-Man  #503-504, the trickster god needed the assistance of Spidey in saving his mortal daughter. Even though Spider-Man is technically dead at this point, Loki could decide to do him a solid and return him rightfully back to the land in the living. I am not sure if this is possible, since Loki himself was reborn as a teenager, but it’s a debt he owes nevertheless.

Regardless of how they bring Peter back, it has to be well executed and I have good faith in writer Dan Slott being able to pull it off.

Arrow Season 1 Episode 2: “Honor Thy Father”

Arrow fights China White

The series Arrow starts picking up steam in the second episode. In “Honor Thy Father”, they really get across how much Oliver is sacrificing in his own personal life to avenge his father’s legacy, as well as how intertwined everything in his world really is.

The episode starts with the Queen family going to a very public court hearing to have Oliver’s death certificate revoked, as he was assumed to be dead for the past five years. On the other side of the courthouse, his former girlfriend-turned-prosecutor Laurel is in court trying to get a business man convicted of murder. This gets Ollie’s attention; the man is on the hit list.

Things get even more complicated, as the business man not only puts out a hit on Laurel but gets in contact with her father, Detective Lance, about being harassed by Starling City’s archer vigilante. It’s up to Oliver to save her, get the businessman behind bars and keep Father Lance out of his hair.

The Queen family subplot is pretty interesting, as everyone—his mother, stepfather and sister—is having a hard time reconnecting with Oliver, as he’s been extremely distant since his return. You get the feeling he wants to be more involved in their lives, and even the family business, but he can’t due to his obligations he promised his father. He figures out how to completely lose all signs of competency, showing up drunk to a press event for the Queen Foundation and embarrassing himself in the process.

If there was any must see segment in this episode, it would be the last five minutes. Oliver’s mother is taking a phone call in private, where the conversation pretty much says that she was part of a conspiracy that sunk the Queen family yacht and that there is no way that Oliver is aware of the list. This scene is followed up with a flashback of Oliver’s time on the island, and him being captured by an archer.

That last part is why I like this series so much. I’m enjoying how each episode is interconnected, and especially how they seem to be building towards something in a slow burn fashion. I don’t seem to be the only one happy with Arrow; apparently it’s the hightest rated new show on the CW.

Friday Fights #14: Bizarro vs. Faker

There’s only one more He-Man/DC battle that I can think of right now; I’m talking about Bizarro fighting Faker. These two have a bunch in common, with them both being evil versions of beloved super heroes.

Bizarro is the opposite version of Superman from an alternate reality where everything is backwards, having the same powers and abilities as Superman. Faker was created by Skeletor to be a duplicate of He-Man. So would this be a repeat of the He-Man/Superman battle?

Well there are a few differences between the two. Bizarro is as smart as a box of rocks. He’s really, really dumb. Faker isn’t as powerful as Superman, but nothing to sneeze at.

So who would win in a fight?

I think I would give Faker the nod, only because he’s not a moron like his opponent. WINNER: Faker. It’s not that difficult to outsmart Bizarro, and that is how he would win the battle of the counterfeits.

 

X-Factor #66: A Really Bad Day

There is a lot of stuff going on in this issue. If there was ever a day where the X-Factor should have stayed in bed, this would be it.

The team’s headquarters is a sentient floating battleship, literally named Ship. Before it was X-Factors mobile base of operation it belonged to Apocalypse. He’s deployed a squad of his minions to not only attack X-Factor, but to infect the ship with a virus that makes Ship lose control of itself and start attacking Manhattan. X-Factor are trying to get Ship back under control while other Marvel characters are helping evacuate people from Ship’s path. What’s remarkable to me is how everyone is so understanding of Ship being out of control. Ship eventually decides that the only way it can get back under control is to commit suicide, which no one in X-Factor is happy about.

As this Ship story unfolds, Apocalypse’s plan to abduct Cyclops’ son Nathan is revealed. It turns out destroying their headquarters was an elaborate distraction. The story leads to the first appearance of the Askani Clan from the future, as a woman member has been sent from the future to protect the baby. People from the future travelling back in time to protect a child was a huge theme in 1991, between this plot and Terminator 2.

The issue is interesting from a creative standpoint, as it was written by the combined efforts of Whilce Portacio, Jim Lee and Chris Claremont, with art from Portacio. It’s like a meeting of the minds of the X-creators in this issue. The backup feature is called Apocalypse Manifesto, with profiles of the powers and dangers of Beast and Iceman from Apocalypse’s perspective. These were written by Fabian Nicieza.

Showcase ’95 #6: Lobo and Bibbo Play Cards With Dogs

Poker Night in Metropolis

Showcase ’95 #6 features two of my favorite characters from the DC Universe of the 1990s. By now you know how much I like Lobo. But this story puts him alongside longshoreman turned bar-owner Bibbo Bibbowski!

Bibbo showed up in Superman comics as an all around nice guy, kind of like a calm version of Popeye. He was always willing to lend a hand in the community and was Superman’s self-professed number one fan.

In the Bibbo/Lobo story, the bar is visited by Bibbo’s alien friend Raof. When you hang out with Superman you get to meet all kinds of interesting people.

The reunion is kind of short-lived, as a gang of alien dogs lead by Skruffy have come to Earth to enslave mankind as pets for their children puppies. Just when you thought the story couldn’t get any sillier, it does. Bibbo and Raof challenge the dogs to a high-stakes poker game where the winner gets earth. And there is an amazing two-page spread of Bibbo and the dogs playing poker that I would love a print of for my wall. The dogs realize Bibbo is cheating and thankfully Lobo saves the day. It involves a giant fire hydrant, and that’s all I’ll say. This story was written by longtime Superman editor Mike Carlin, and is worth checking out.

The other two features really didn’t do anything for me, as they were about the Legionnaires and the Science Police. I’ve never been into any of the Legion of Super Heroes. The characters and the concept just never did anything for me. The one cool thing was that the inker on one of these stories was Jim Mahfood, who has gone on to do a lot of really cool projects.

So basically Showcase ’95 #6 is good if you enjoy Lobo or the Legion, and really good if you happen to like both. However, if you don’t have any interest in either, you can skip it.

Superman Family Adventures #1

And we’ll finisher our Art Baltazar/Franco day by talking about Superman Family Adventures #1. There’s really not too much to talk about with this, as it was a collection of gag strips involving the Superman characters in the style of Tiny Titans.

That means if you are not looking for silly super hero stuff you can skip reading this. But if you are looking for a bunch of jokes about the concept of Superman and his history, then you will enjoy this.

 

Tiny Titans/Little Archie #3

So I guess you can see that I’m on a bit of an Art Baltazar and Franco kick. Tiny Titans/Little Archie #3. It’s more silly fun, putting together the pint-sized heroes of the DC Universe in Riverdale.

It’s extremely silly from beginning to end. The sillier parts included Jughead and Cyborg challenging each other to an eating contest, Veronica falling for Robin, and Batman assuming that Archie was the Joker’s son, due to his garish hair and outfit.

You can read a preview of the first act here.

Tiny Titans #33: Crisis of Infinite Robins

This was a quick read, but when isn’t Tiny Titans? Issue #33 pays tribute to everyone’s favorite sidekick Robin! Thanks to Jason Todd and Tim Drake showing up in town, everyone get’s their own Robin or even Batgirl suit!

It’s very silly, as you would expect from Franco and Art Baltazar, with the highlight being Robin and Jason both being mad that everyone gets to be Robin, and them creating their new costumed identities of Nightwing and Red Hood. This book made me so happy over the years. It’s a shame that newspapers as a medium is on life support; this would have made a great daily strip.

Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos #1-6: Marvel’s Monster Mash

This was going to be my Halloween post, but Hurricane Sandy had other plans for me.  Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos is a fun look at SHIELD’s very own monster squad. Written by Keith Giffen, this mini series gives a look on how longtime agent Clay Quartermain gets to take over running the  Paranormal Containment Unit.

Needless to say with it being a Giffen book, there’s a certain humor to it. Clay sees this assignment of being kind of beneath him, leading monsters from Marvel’s modern and Atlas eras alike to defend the planet from super natural attacks.

The main conflict in this comes as a result of yet another incarnation of Merlin the Wizard re-appearing in England, turning the British Isle into something out of Lord of the Rings. It’s up to the Howling Commandos to get their act together and save the island (and the world) from falling under Merlin’s medieval rule. Along the way there’s a lot of wackiness, especially the undercover mission between Lilith and Vampire By Night, and a really cool plot storm involving Hellstorm (a character which I’ve always thought needed more exposure).

Usually I don’t enjoy supernatural themed books, but Giffen’s great sense of comedic timing was enough to get me through it. Howling Commandos is a pretty light story and I would recommend picking it up if you can get it on the cheap.

If there was anything to complain about this book was the art. The problem wasn’t that I didn’t like the art, but for whatever reason the penciller switched between Derec Aucoin and Mike Norton every other issue to the point that reading it from issue to issue was a little jarring.

Friday Fights #13: He-Man vs. Captain Marvel

Last week we had Superman and He-Man tussle, this week it is He-Man squaring off against Superman’s biggest competitor during the 1940s and 1950s, Captain Marvel. This might be a close battle because the two of them have more in common with each other than you would imagine.

Even though the two of them run around as some of the most powerful people in their respective universes, their true form is a teenager. Prince Adam and Billy Batson both have a catchphrase–”I have the power” and “Shazam!” respectively–which they utter, turning them into demigod like beings. Both Cap and He-Man are near indestructible and super-strong  They both even have talking tiger sidekicks. Everyone knows about Battle Cat, but did you know that Captain Marvel has Tawny, an anthropomorphic tiger.

The only difference between the two is that Captain Marvel can fly and might be a little faster, and He-Man has the Power Sword. But other than that, it’s pretty much even.

So who would win.

Captain Marvel, as he has one trick up his sleeve. He says “shazam”, and in a flurry of lightning changes from the Captain to Billy. So basically all Captain Marvel has to do is lure He-Man close by and keep saying “shazam” to electrocute him. Then when He-Man is incapacitated, back to Captain Marvel and it’s over. WINNER: Captain Marvel

Uncanny Avengers: Thor Drinks Lattes And Brainsnatching Fun

Uncanny Avengers #1 reminds me of one of those comics that reminds me of my childhood when my brother and I would pool together all of our super hero toys and make up our own groups. Is USAgent in the Justice League? Sure. Does the Avengers consist of Iron Man, Thor, Batman, Wonder Woman and the Savage Dragon? You betcha. What writer Rick Remender did in this issue was brought together that spirit of non-traditional team ups.

The Marvel Universe is still recovering from the whole Avengers/X-Men feud, and this book sets the stage for the two team’s first real joint partnership. Captain America and Thor are really giving Havok the hard sell on how much they respect him and Charles Xavier’s legacy, and how both sides need to put them past them. And unlike his brother Cyclops, Havok sees the value in working with non-mutantkind. The three get to team up for the first time to stop a lobotomized Avalanche.

The mutual admiration doesn’t extend to Scarlet Witch and Rogue, who will not forgive Wanda for intentionally almost eradicating the mutant population. This all takes place at Professor X’s grave site, which is something he would have never wanted to see. Before they can resolve their differences, Red Skull’s forces arrive to not only take them out but take the Professor’s corpse. Red Skull needs it for some diabolical plot to exterminate the mutant race.

Remender puts this together in a really fun, only in comics way. We have an awkward team up (that is surely to improve as the series go by as they grow personally), lots of big characters and a plot that is simply ridiculous, but in a good way. All the while, he finds a way to make the dialogue work. The only thing that came across kind of odd was the scene where Cap and Thor are talking about stepping out to get something to eat with Havok, and Thor talks about how much he likes lattes. Very silly yes, but it would work. I could totally see the character get into really weird human food like that.

The art is by John Cassaday is great as usual. This is definitely a fun book and I’m sure I’ll catch up with it once it comes out in trade format.

Friday Fights #12: Superman vs. He-Man

And we’re thankfully back after Hurricane Superstorm Sandy! More on that later, but tonight’s battle pits two of the strongest beings ever in fandom: Superman and He-Man. The two of them are pretty much the strongest things in their respective universes, so they cancel each other in the battle of strength. Let’s take a look at the rest of the tail of the tape.

WEAPONS:  Superman doesn’t carry weapons. So in that regards, He-Man wins by default. Not only does he always carry that wicked battle-axe and shield, but there’s that pesky Power Sword to deal with. It can deflect energy attacks, is broad enough to swing it like a club and cut through things, cause, you know it’s a sword. Advantage: He-Man

SUPER POWERS:  Superman wins this one hands down. He can fly, enhanced sight and hearing, heat vision and cold breath, and that whole trick everyone with a simple disguise. But He-Man from the original cartoons might be a better disguise artist; all it took was wearing clothes to convince people that he and Prince Adam were two separate people. Advantage: He-Man.

So who would win? This is a pretty evenly matched tussle. I would have to go with Superman, as he’s got way too many tricks in his super powered toolbox to use on the Prince of Power. However, if He-Man can sick Battle Cat on the Kryptonian, that might be enough of a lead in for Superman to get beaten. WINNER:  It’s a draw.

Marvel Team Up #109: Spider-Man Goes Disco With Dazzler

Disco music may have died in 1979, but don’t tell that to the Dazzler! Marvel Team Up #109 came out in September 1981, and the Dazzler is still trying to find work as a disco star. So why is she hanging out with Spider-Man?

Marvel Team Up featured Spider-Man partnering with some random other hero from the Marvel Universe. In the previous issue, he teamed up with Paladin to stop Thermo the Thermotronic Man, some new low-level criminal. This issue starts with Dazzler cancelling her concert to help save the two from this new villain. With this being two years after the demise of disco, I’m sure it wasn’t that hard to do.

After scaring away Thermo with her light powers, she takes a sick Spidey back to her place to recuperate. There’s a great panel with her elderly neighbors being judgy that she comes back to the apartment all painted up and bringing random men in costumes with her. “It’s just not decent!” says the old lady!

Inside Dazzler’s apartment is just as funny, with her being broke and only having tea to give the ailing Spider-Man. Meanwhile, Thermo is still running mad across the city, and stumbles into a satanic mass full of well to do Manhattanites. The cult leader, who they allude to being a sham, sees poor Thermo as an opportunity to make some money. Writer Dave Kraft crafted the oddest dialogue I’ve ever encountered in a comic before, with the cult leader describing Thermo as “he’s a fruitcake…but he’s a really powerful fruitcake! This might be worth something.” Watchmen this is not.

The next morning, Spidey wakes up much better to breakfast being served by Dazzler, only to scare her with one of his spider-shaped trackers. The good thing is that she was able to overcome her fear of insects later in the decade, in time for her to fight off the Brood with the X-Men.

Thermo and the cult steal some sort of wacky generator, as he’s going to need the power for his diabolical plan. They also kidnap Dazzler, to avenge their earlier meeting. Luckily for her, Spidey is feeling much better and along with Paladin comes to rescue her and stop Thermo. During the melee, Dazzler gets her bag of weapons back, only to put on roller skates! Really? This is the worst. What the hell?

Dazzler comes skating in and kicking cult member ass left and right. The three heroes are able to stop Thermo with the assistance of his ex-wife who conveniently provided something to nullify his powers. The cult scrambles away, with the oddest ending ever. Thermo’s ex-wife is standing over his incapacitated body crying hysterically. Mind you, in the previous issue it was revealed that he was nuts, killed his best friend and planned on killing her as well. They don’t even call the cops. Spidey and Dazzler leave, all flirty and Paladin is wondering why he’s the only one out of the five who is single. What?

This may sound like a train wreck (really it is), but it’s also what I love about the lesser comic book titles from this period. They’re well written (everything makes sense) but they’re crazy. It’s like the writers are trying to see how much wackiness they can stick into the story before their editors flip out. That said, Marvel Team Up is all wackiness. Herb Trimpe’s art in this is fine, but I can’t wait for the next time he’s at a comic book show. I have a lot of questions I need answered.