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.

Avengers: Red Zone

Geoff Johns is known for being one of the driving forces at DC comics for the last ten years. It is hard to imagine him working at Marvel, but he did during the earlier part of the last decade. He did some decent stuff on the Avengers book, like the Red Zone storyline.

This story pits the Avengers against one of the biggest fears of the early 2000s: biological warfare. A weapons depot under Mount Rushmore has been compromised, leaking the uber-deadly Red Zone. The team splinters off, dealing with various parts of the outbreak.

Eventually it is revealed that the whole outbreak was a plot between a rogue member of the Department of Defense and the Red Skull as an attempt to blame Wakanda for the attack, thus setting up a United States/Wakanda war. While the team is trying to prevent this international incident they also have to find the Red Skull, because the only cure to Red Zone is based on his blood. How crazy is that?

Along the way, Iron Man and Black Panther have to put aside their suspicious of each other’s motives in order to stop the outbreak. This leads up to a touching scene at the end where they acknowledge their respect of each other.

On the whole, Red Zone is a fun story. It’s very bombastic and cinematic, reminding me a lot of the Dustin Hoffman movie Outbreak, except the Avengers don’t have to deal with any toxic monkeys.

Art on this book was from Olivier Coipel, right before he blew up with House of M. The covers during this story arch were done by JG Jones, with the six of them blending together to tell a larger story. I didn’t know that until Jones explained that to me at a comic book show!

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?

It May Have Taken Me Four Months To Beat Captain America: Super Soldier But It Was Worth It

I finally beat it. Yes I did. Great pal Frank was kind enough to give me the game for my birthday and I started playing Captain America: Super Soldier in late July. So why did it take so long?

Because the game is challenging, but in a good way. Super Soldier requires a lot of skill and timing, two things that I apparently don’t have. If your going to lead Captain America to rescue Allied prisoners of war and stop Hydra’s latest nefarious plot, your going to need them.

The game is set in this summer’s film adaptation continuity with Captain America infiltrating Hydra’s Bavarian headquarters (a huge castle compound formerly occupied by Baron Zemo) to rescue Bucky, Dum Dum Dugan and the rest of the Howling Commandos Invaders. He later discovers that Arnim Zola has some sort of massive weapons project under the castle that must be stopped. Along the way you fight off hundereds of Hydra agents, Baron Von Strucker, Madame Hydra and the awesome weird Arnim Zola robot.

Storywise, the game makes a lot of sense and is executed very well. All of the cut scenes and story elements flow together, and I would give this credit to comics writer Christos Gage who plotted the game. Visually the game is awesome. There’s a definite World War II/steampunk vibe to it, which works with the Zola character being a mad scientist.

The voice acting brings the cast of the film back together, including Chris Evans as Captain America.

Like I said, the game play takes some getting used to and once you get all of the nuances down its a pretty quick and easy game. There’s definitely some replay ability to the game, whether it be unlocking alternate Captain America costumes (let me telling you, playing as the World War II style Captain America from Bryan Hitch’s The Ultimates is epic), the various challenge modes, and even collecting the various film reels that tell the story of how Red Skull wound up seizing the castle from Zemo.

I don’t see why this game got so many bad reviews. It wasn’t a groundbreaking game by any means, but it was very enjoyable. It came across like an interactive movie, due to its combined visual awesomeness and you controlling the fight scenes/sequences. I recommend it. Based on my experiences, it was certainly worth the four months I spent on and off trying to stop Madame Hydra.

Splash Page Saturday #8

Here’s a really cool splash page from Ron Garney’s “Captain America: Operation: Rebirth” storyline. I love the emotion of the panel, with Captain America letting Red Skull know that he’s willing to put aside his own personal code of ethics and that killing the villain is an option. Just everything about this panel works, from Cap’s attitude, to the fearful and choked expression on Red Skull’s face. Even look at Red Skull’s hands, trying in vain to get the shield off his neck.

Captain America: The First Avenger Movie Review..FINALLY!`

This Sunday I finally saw Captain America: The First Avenger. So what did I think?

I really enjoyed the film. It reminded me a lot of The Rocketeer, as both films may have been set in the 1940s but felt modern. This comparison makes a lot of sense, as both films were directed by Joe Johnston. What carried this film was Chris Evans, who made Steve Rogers super likable in the way that Christopher Reeve and Robert Downey Jr. respectively made Superman and Iron Man compelling characters. You really wanted to see Rogers succeed.

This version of Cap really hit home how much he loved America, whether it be him getting denied entrance into the army, or him being upset that he was created to be a super soldier and all he wad doing to help the war effort was being a fundraising mascot. And in the final scene of the movie, as he put aside his own life to make sure that Red Skull’s doom machine wound up crashing into the ocean around Newfoundland then destroying Manhattan.

I really like how they made Captain America show that you can be patriotic and selfless, without having to be an overbearing, flag waiving caricature of the American spirit. I’m sure this will help the movie be a success overseas.

Getting to the casting and characters, I enjoyed everyone else in the film. Hugo Weaving was a very maniacal Red Skull, and I love how they toyed with the big reveal of his disfigured face through the first half of the movie. Sebastian Stan’s Bucky was a great supporting character. Johnston did a good job showing the dynamic change between Steve and Bucky, as at first Bucky was the protector to the weaker Steve, and how that changed thanks to the Super Solier Serum. With Bucky’s off camera death, I wonder if he may return as Winter Soldier in a later film. Hayley Atwell and Tommy Lee Jones were also fun characters.

There was even a nice nod to fans of Timely Comics era Marvel, you can spot an android Human Torch Jim Hammond in the Stark Expo.

Anyway, the movie was fun, and it was a great way to connect-the-dots on how we get to the Avengers film. That hidden clip at the end officially starts my countdown. Check out Andrew over at ComicBookMarks and Todd Lyden who had some interesting opinions on the film.

Crossbones!

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So who needs a mercenary? Red Skull will always recommend Crossbones. The figure from the new Captain America line is pretty bad ass. He doesn’t have his more super villainy look from the 1990s, but the more military accurate style from the 2000s. DSC_0015

Just looking at Crossbones, he intimidating. He’s slightly taller then the rest of the Marvel Universe figures and you can tell by his ammo-filled flak jacket that he means serious business. I also like this realistic depiction of Crossbones, as he looks like a villain that would be found in the GI Joe world.

Crossbones is certainly not going to take any crap and do what he wants to do. He’s probably the toughest action figure on my shelf right now.

So why has Crossbones turned to a life of villainy and violence? To support his true love–DJing.

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Okay, so I made this last part up. But it makes sense. Why would he have such a high risk, high reward field of employment? So he can buy the best equipment. It makes perfect sense.

Red Skull!

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So lets talk about new Captain America figures from Hasbro that have out on the shelves and start off with Cap’s arch-enemy Red Skull. He’s wearing a military uniform, which makes him look cool in both World War II and more modern setting. Flat out he looks like an evil dude.

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Weapons wise, Red Skull comes with a comically oversized missile launcher, which makes sense. Not only is he evil, he’s also a brilliant weapons manufacturer. Unfortunately, this really doesn’t fit in his hands all that well, so he will leave this in his villainous office lair.

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The super cool accessory that he comes with is the reality warping Cosmic Cube that has been his most sought after object since the 1960s. Now if we could get an Ultimate Nullifier, my life would be complete.

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On my toy shelf, Red Skull spends a lot of time hanging out with his favorite henchman/hitman Crossbones. He’s the hired muscle in the Red Skull’s world. Here they’ve stopped Black Widow, who was snooping on them.

Captain America: The Bloodstone Hunt

Not only is it the week of my 30th birthday, but the new Captain America movie comes out! To celebrate Cap’s debut (or return if you want to count the Matt Salinger film), expect a whole lot of Captain America this week.

We start off with The Bloodstone Hunt by Mark Gruenwald and Kieron Dwyer. It was the summer of 1989 and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade had just come out. It’s only appropriate that the summer’s big Cap story was  an Indy style epic.

The plot is very straight forward. Baron Zemo is trying to recover all the shards of the mystical Bloodstone so he can bring his father back to life. He’s employed Batroc the Leaper, Zaran and Machete to help him. Obviously Captain America can’t allow this to happen, and he’s joined by the former villainous Diamondback (who seems to have a hankering for some make-out time with the good Captain) to stop them.

The story is all over the world, with them fighting snakes, sharks, ninjas and samurai’s, a tribe of cannibals and even a cult. With all the accents of the villains, letterer John Morelli must have had one heck of a headache. As for the story, its pretty light and quick-moving. It’s not a deep story and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just a fun popcorn-flick type plot.

There were two really odd things in the story. At one point, Cap and Diamondback track a Bloodstone piece into a cave, where they find it in the posession of a mummy that is wandering around and wants to kill them. However, since Cap is so swell, he talks the mummy into letting them borrow it and all is forgiven. At the end of the story, the mummy is nowhere to be found. I want to know what happened to the mummy.

The other weird thing is Diamondback’s costume. The story takes place over the course of a couple of days and her outfit keeps getting more and more shredded from all the fighting and environmental dangers. Don’t believe me? Check out the picture above. None of the men had this problem. Diamondback should really stop buying cheaply made clothes.

The story also introduces the villainous mercenary Crossbones, who is trying to collect a bounty on Cap placed by the Red Skull. As part of his plot, Crossbones kidnaps Diamondback as bait. Things only get worse for our purple-and-pink clad heroine, as Crossbones has dropped her off at a brothel for safe keeping and its other employees want to force her into becoming a working woman there. What an awful couple issues for Diamondback.

Lucky for her, she’s Cap’s gal and he always saves the day. This is a fun story. Like I said, it’s not very serious and its a quick read. It’s best served with a trenta Iced Mocha from Starbucks.