Wonder Woman: The Odyssey, Volume 1

I want to talk about Wonder Woman today. I usually don’t spend too much time with this character, but I just finished reading Wonder Woman: The Odyssey Volume 1. And you know what? I enjoyed it.

The Odyssey is a story by mega writer J. Michael Straczynski and Phil Hester (who I pretty much link to his awesome time as penciller on Green Arrow) and deals with Wonder Woman realizing that everything is wrong with her life. Know, she didn’t have a bad date with Steve Trevor. But everything is different.

Her history has changed drastically and its up to Wonder Woman to find out how to fix it. Things are a lot more different than she is used to. The Amazons are hiding out in the slummier parts of New York City, as their home of Paradise Island has been destroyed and their queen Hippolyta is dead. To make things worse, the Morrigan–the war-goddess responsible for this–will not rest till every last Amazon is dead! You can see how this is a problem for Wonder Woman.

This was the first half of the story, and it was compelling enough for me to want to track down the second half. I can’t be the only one to like this. The New York Times had this ranked as the number one bestselling hardcover fiction book back on June 26. Good job, JMS and Hester!

What’s noticeable about this comic is the new costume designed by Jim Lee. It’s a lot more functional than her traditional gear, and the idea of Wonder Woman wearing long pants and a bomber jacket seemed to be too much for many fans. At first I wasn’t necessarily sold on the look, but Don Kramer made it work in this book. I like the new look, although her gauntlets look a little awkward due to her rolled up sleeves. Anyway, this was a fun read.

So what did you think?

WWE and Comics: Perfect Together

Let’s face it; professional wrestling and comic books are very thematically similar. Pro wrestling is a lot like comics coming to life, filled with heroes and villains (clad in over the top costumes) battling for supremacy. Even their fanbases overlap; they’re both constantly criticized for liking something many disregard as something you should have given up by the time you turn seven.

Over the years, comics and wrestlers have crossed over many times. Some of today’s best grapplers, guys like AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe and Shane Helms, are all devoted comic readers. Wrestlers like Rey Mysterio and Nova have worn many comic inspired outfits to the ring. ECW’s Raven and the Sandman spent the majority of the 1990s wearing t-shirts featuring art from Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. Even Hulk Hogan’s name is a reference to a certain gamma powered monster…

Anyway, it’s no surprise that the professional wrestling world would be represented at Comic Con last week. Both WWE and Impact Wrestling were out in full force. But WWE took it one step further, expanding one of their angles (wrestling speak for “storyline”) during one of their panel presentations.

During the presentation, wrestler HHH (who now runs the WWE in story) gets interrupted by WWE champion CM Punk, who himself is an avid comic book fan.

In the WWE storyline, Punk won their championship on his last night wrestling for the company and is keeping the title high-jacked. The question is when—or will—he return to the WWE, and by having him harass it’s on-screen chairman only keeps this moving. It was a nice little way to make those in attendance feel like they’re part of the story.

Green Lantern: Emerald Twilight

How tough is Hal Jordan in Emerald Twilight? Not only did he take out the whole Green Lantern Corps, but he took their rings as well!

Please don’t confuse my indifferent thoughts on the Green Lantern movie with my love of the character. Hal Jordan has always been one of my favorite characters, and Emerald Twilight was one of his best stories.

It was the 1990s and comic book buying was in full swing. DC Comics was feeding this frenzy, with huge event comics where the beloved super heroes would die or be forced out of action, like when Superman died or Batman had his back broken. The trick, marketing wise, was that someone new would pick up their mantle. That’s how we got the four temporary Supermen and the crazy Jean Paul Valley Batman. It even happened for Wonder Woman, as the scarlet haired Artemis took the title from Diana. So it was bound to happen to Green Lantern.

Hal’s story was different. Everyone else was replaced, as they fell in battle to someone. What happened to poor old Hal was that he went insane. As part of the “Reign of the Supermen” story, Hal’s hometown of Coast City was destroyed as part of a diabolical plot by the Cyborg Superman and Mongul. There were no survivors, and Hal was saying he was disappointed in himself for not being able to help anyone is an extreme understatement.

So Hal visits the ruins of Coast City and uses his power ring to recreate the city as it once was. Very poignant is the moment when he talks to the energy recreation of his recently deceased father, and then the ring craps out. A Guardian comes down to yell at him for violating Rule #1,234 (where you can’t use your ring for personal gain). A pissed off Hal beats him up and recharges his ring and is hell-bent on getting to Oa. If he recharges himself with the main power battery, he might be able to recreate Coast City permanently.

If the Guardians were mad that he just wanted to make a hologram version of Coast City, think of how much they would want to stop him from bringing the real one back. So they send out every Green Lantern, and even Sinestro, out to stop him. Unfortunately for them, Hal is a complete bad ass, stopping (and killing) them all. Hal absorbs the power battery and runs off into space, and a Nine Inch Nails clad Kyle Rayner winds up with the one surviving Green Lantern ring.

I always enjoyed this story and completely sided with Hal. If you don’t feel sorry for him, then your just a plain old meanie. Hal as an all-powerful “screw you I’m doing what I want to do” was such a cool concept. And it gave Kyle the chance to be his own character with Hal pretty much out of the picture.

Who likes glow-in-the-dark covers? This guy!

What I didn’t like is how they retconned the whole Hal as Parallax story in Green Lantern: Rebirth. Long story short, Parallax is the living embodiment of fear (and is a big yellow bug) who took over Hal as part of a plan with Sinestro to take out the Green Lantern Corps. God forbid they leave the coolest Hal Jordan story alone. Sigh.

I’ll end this on a happy note. I loved the cover to Green Lantern #50, where Hal emerged as Parallax. He looked so bad ass, and the cover glows in the dark. That might be one of my favorite gimmick covers ever. Hey, it was the 1990s.

1940s Captain America Action Figure Review

Captain America 1940s 

One of my birthday presents my super cool girlfriend gave me was the very cool 1940s style Captain America figures from the First Avenger toy line. This version of Cap pays tribute to the World War 2 costume that Bryan Hitch had him wear during the flashbacks in the Ultimates.

Captain America 1940sThis look on Captain America is really cool looking; it is definitely very old timey. I don’t claim to be any fashionista, especially one that knows about what was wrong in the 1940s, but the spats and some of the jacket closings look like they would be more appropriate during World War I. But, again, what do I know about these things?

Cap also comes with the original style shield, which looks really cool. He also comes with a machine gun and a small pistol that fits in a holster on his belt.

Captain America War Bonds poster
Captain America was also a big part of the war effort, as here he is being used to advertise and promote the purchase of war bonds. Okay, I made this part up, but there is no reason to think they would not have used him in this capacity. He was an American hero after all.

Harry Truman holding up Captain America in Daily Bugle
There was also this iconic picture of Harry Truman when Captain America guaranteed the Allies victory.

Santo y Captain America frente a Spider-Man

Mexican professional wrestler Santo ushered in the golden age of lucha libre during the 1950s. Santo was all over Mexico at that time; the popular masked man was one of the biggest celebrities, gracing children’s toys, magazine and newspaper covers, and much more. So it’s no surprise that Santo crossed over into movies.

This leads me to wonder one thing: how did the character Santo wind up in a movie teaming up with Captain America to fight off a zombie Spider-Man? If that doesn’t make your head explode, imagine this film being made and filmed for a Turkish audience!

The unauthorized 1973 film 3 Dev Adam (also known as Three Mighty Men and Turkish Spider-Man vs. Captain Turkish America) has become a worldwide cult film due to the general abdurdity of the plot. You don’t have to speak Turkish to realize that.

The premise of the film is simple; Captain America and Santo come to Istanbul to stop Spider-Man, who is running some sort of counterfeit money operation. This version of Spidey is a zombie, who cannot be killed and is continually regenerating himself like many arachnids when they lose limbs. Will the Mexican and American national icons be able to stop Spidey, before he brings crime to Istanbul?


The more you think about this movie, the more your head hurts. It’s become an urban legend of sorts in the comic book circles. I wonder if Turkish NBA players like Memo Okur or Hedo Turkoglu watched this when they were kids.

Better yet, I wonder if there’s a version of this film overdubbed in English? Now that’s something that everyone would like to see.

Captain America: Movie Review

So it’s the time that everyone has been waiting for, time for a review of the Captain America movie. And we’re not talking about the one from the early 1990s.


I still haven’t seen the film yet, but I’m planning on very soon, so just be patient. Until I see the movie (and probably until I get bored with it), we’ll still be talking about all things Captain America.

Cap made his big screen debut way back in 1943, in a 15 part serial from Republic Pictures. It has little, if anything, to do with the comics of the time. Captain America is the secret identity of district attorney Grant Gardner who dons the star-spangled costume one more time in an attempt to stop the villainous Scarab.

The film is what you would expect; it’s a lot like many of the other action/adventure serials of the time. I might even say that its better than the 1990 Cap film, as far as the storytelling aspects are concerned.

One interesting but morbid bit of trivia from this film is that Dick Purcell–who played Captain America–died of what was assumed to be a heartache shortly after the filming of the movie wrapped up.

It looks like this incarnation of Captain America has lapsed into public domain, and you can view it over at Archive.org

Captain America: America First

Captain America: America First is a collection of three separate Cap one-shot issues, each featuring a different creative team and unique story theme. So how did it do?

The first story is “Operation Zero Point” by Daniel and Charles Knauf with art from Mitch Bretweiser. This story is fairly straight forward, with Cap being sent to take out the Nazi’s new flying-saucer inspired aircraft. Along the way, Cap gets captured by a Nazi cyborg and attempts to rescue himself and the Jewish physicist who was forced into creating the flying death machines. Bretweiser’s art is phenomenal in this story, looking very realistic.

This is followed up with “Prisoners of Duty” by writers Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel (who brought us the short film The League) with art by Agustin Adilla. Steve Rogers is kidnapped and placed into a Nazi prisoners camp, having to find a way to liberate the other American POWs and himself. Along the way he meets a German nurse who has been forced into working there.

The best of the lot concludes this volume, with a tale by Howard Chaykin featuring Captain America in the 1950s. Wait a minute, wasn’t Captain America frozen after World War II? Yes. Marvel has explained that the comics featuring Cap in the 1950s (where he traded in fighting Nazis for communist spies and Soviet agents) are the stories of William Burnside, who took up the mantle during the 1950s.

Along side a young Nick Fury, this Captain is trying to get to the bottom of Soviet activity in America, all the while facing an overzealous Joseph McCarthy-esque Senator who is trying to turn the public.

Chaykin does a great job with this story; the ending is a bit of a swerve. Him writing about this time period is a perfect fit for his art style; it makes me all the more excited for Retro Avengers.

Comic Con ruminations

Walking Dead plush

Assorted Walking Dead merchandise at San Diego Comic Con 2011. Photo courtesy SupahCute.com on http://www.flickr.com/supahcute

So apparently there was a San Diego Comic Con this weekend. Did I miss anything important?

Usually I wind up geeking out in front of the computer, constantly refreshing the web browser to find all the latest gossip. So here’s a recap of SDCC, with what I’m excited about.

  • Matt Fraction’s new Defenders book—This is going to be cool. I’m a fan of Fraction’s writing, and this team up of Namor, Doctor Strange, Iron Fist, Red She Hulk and Silver Surfer just seems like a can’t miss. Did I mention it’s going to be drawn by Terry Dodson?
  • EC Comics—Everyone’s favorite horror comics from the 1950s are going to be reprinted by Fantagraphics next year. I can’t wait to get to read some vintage Wally Wood.
  • More Marvel Television—Sometimes it’s just as much fun to watch comics on the television show. I’m really looking forward to Hulk and the Agents of SMASH, a cartoon show featuring Hulk, She Hulk, Red Hulk and Skaar going around, smashing things and helmed by Paul Dini. I also can’t wait for aka Jessica Jones, an adaptation of Alias.
  • Hawk and Dove Teasers—Yes, I love Rob Liefeld and I love DC’s characters Hawk and Dove. Some of the newly released art has already been adapted into wallpaper for my computer.
  • New Marvel Universe toys—Everyone may have been excited about the return of the Marvel Legends toy line from Hasbro, but I’m still enjoying the smaller Marvel Universe figures, especially the She-Hulk, Scarlet Witch and Punisher. However, the Marvel Legends Build-A-Figure Armin Zola figure is amazing. And while we’re at it, some of the new He-Man and Thundercats stuff makes me very nostalgic.

So what was your favorite part of SDCC?

Cap Wolf? No thank you!

Blogger pal Todd Lyden asked I remembered the debacle that was Cap Wolf.Of course I do. I’ll never be able to forget that abomination. I went to the longboxes to find this literary masterpiece.

I only had one of the issues in this six-part story arc, Captain America #405, which was part four in this epic. Maybe in context it would have made more sense, but as a stand alone, its surreal.

Cap is turned into a werewolf by the evil Nightshade and Desmund Druid, only to run off into the woods and tussling with Wolverine. Needless to say, I’m yet to want to find out what happened in the conclusion of this story.

This whole Capwolf concept reminds me a lot of the 1950s/1960s Superman and Batman comics, where the hero would face some weird physical dilemma. Cracked has a whole gallery of some of the absurdest transformations of Batman, like the time he turned into a tiger or turned into a two-dimensional flatty.

What I also find extremely creepy is Capwolf’s head. He looks like Captain America, with Lassie’s head stuck on. And the mask/cowl somehow manages to stay on? What’s up with that? It just makes me shake my head.

What were they thinking?

Splash Page Saturday #6

Continuing with all of the Captain America hoopla, we’re going to look at this piece by Jack Kirby. It’s the back page of Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles, which we just talked about the other day. Cap and Uncle Sam are celebrating the bicentennial with a big old cape. This is great 70s Kirby; just look at the Kirby Krackles!

Anyway, It’s record breaking hot here in New Jersey so I’m going to go back in the pool. Everyone have a good night!

Captain America by Jack Kirby v2: Bicentennial Battles

So lets talk about some Jack Kirby Captain America stuff from the 1970s. Bicentennial Battles features two stories. Kirby was coming off his run on the Fourth World characters, so this is what you would expect.

The first story is reprinted from an issue of Marvel Treasury, where Cap goes on a journey through American history thanks to the enigmatic Mr. Buda. Along the way, he fights Nazis, helps save the life of a runaway slave during the Civil war, and even influences the creation of the American flag due to a run in with Benjamin Franklin and Betsy Ross. Ultimately Cap realizes that the true spirit of America was the hope for a better tomorrow.

This is pretty much a fun story involving Cap. It’s very silly and weird at times, but Kirby’s art is just superb. The second half of this TPB is issues 201-205, where Captain America and Falcon team up to stop the energy monster Agron the Unliving, as well as other weird aliens, monsters and technology. I wasn’t digging this half so much.

Anyway, the “Bicentennial Battles” story from Marvel Treasury is really good and that warrants a read.



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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.

The one where we talk about the 1990 Captain America movie

I spent part of my birthday digging through boxes in the basement, to find a working VCR and my copy of the 1990 Captain America film. The things I do for you readers! So how did the first Cap movie hold up?

I first remember seeing it on a tape I borrowed from my local public library, and eventually a couple of times on some random cable networks. Seeing it again reminded me of something…this is a really disjointed film.

It starts out with a re-imagining of the Red Skull, who as a child was abducted by the Italian Fascists and forced into the Super Soldier Program before World War II. The same scientist responsible for that fled to that, and created Captain America (who’s played by JD Salinger’s song Matt Salinger).

Things go on back and forth with Red Skull’s fascist regime being used by the American industrial military complex to take out anyone who is deemed a threat to them, basically anyone with a peaceful national agenda like MLK and JFK. Eventually Cap gets unfrozen in the modern-day and has to save the President from Red Skull’s forces.

So why was the movie so awkward? Well first, it had a really tight budget. That can ruin any film, let alone something that is supposed to be an action/adventure flick.

The other part is that the movie studio didn’t necessarily like the original version of the film. Director Albert Pyum said this about studio 21st Century Film Corporation’s involvement in the project in a recent Las Vegas Weekly interview:

I was disappointed in the version they released, because [the studio] had no interest in the movie I made or the character of Steve Rogers. They wanted it to be strictly a costumed-hero action-fest with no depth or pathos. The movie I made had a melancholy feel to it. There was sadness at its heart for what can happen to our lives when a government steps in and uses individuals for their own questionable purposes. My Captain America was more about the loss and lies these “heroes” experience, similar in a way to what the U.S. government recently did to Pat Tillman and his family.

Well that explains a lot. The film was critically panned; it became a direct-to-video release in the United States and was a limited release abroad. If you find any reviews of this movie, people are quick to pull out their torches and pitchforks.

So was it that bad?

Let’s look at the positives. Salinger did a fine job as Cap in spite of all the drama, which you can read about over here.  The film would have been an awesome made-for-tv movie. It’s become a cult film, because its pretty silly. After watching it, I was perfectly content with the experience. It’s not great by any stretch but its watchable. It was a great way to kill some time and makes me look forward to tomorrow’s release of The First Avenger.

Amazing Spider-Man Trailer

You can tell that San Diego Comic Con madness is gripping the world. The other day we saw the new Batman trailer and today we get the Amazing Spider-Man‘s. So what do I think?

I don’t know yet. What I do know is that Andrew Garfield is going to be behind the eight ball, as he doesn’t seem to have the same kind of lovable awkwardness that Tobey Maguire had as Peter Parker. Garfield looks like the type of kid who would make fun of Parker.

The film comes out next July. So what do you think?

30 Things I Like About Comics—#1 Justice League International

We’ve done it. We’ve gotten to one of my–if not the favorite–things in comics, the Justice League International. So how did a group of B and C list super heroes capture my heart?

Writers Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis gave this motley crew such great personalities. Just look at some of them. Booster Gold was a greedy, scheming George Costanza type, but had the looks and self confidence to make it work. His best friend Blue Beetle was always cracking jokes, but secretly had low seelf esteem in regards to his appearance.
Fire was a Brazillian sex pot and her best friend Ice was a bit socially conservative.
Guy Gardner was the prototypical dumb jock and was stuck with an idiot would-be sidekick in G’nort. Power Girl and Black Canary were super feminists. Elongated Man and his wife Sue were the obnoxious cute couple. Maxwell Lord was like Mr. Sheffield from The Nanny, but more of a tool. And these were just the primary characters.

The best part of this book was how they were able to intertwine the JLI’s personal lives and problems equally with the crime fighting and world saving stories. The book may have been silly at times, but you would always be more interested in what was going on between the characters then what diabolical scheme they were stopping.

You remember the time that Booster and Beetle tried to open a vacation resort on the living island Kooey Koeey Kooey. You remember Guy’s awkward first date with Ice. Or when Batman finally had enough and punched Guy out. Just fun stuff.

I thin that’s why many readers, and myself personally, had such a hard time with the whole mid 2000s DC, where it seemed that JLI characters were being killed left and right. Sue Dibny’s death was the plot device in Identity Crisis (and later on Elongated Man got killed off). Maxwell Lord turned uber-villain and murdered Blue Beetle. Rocket Red bit the dust in OMAC Project. Saying the last decade was rough is an understatement. It sucks seeing your favorite characters getting knocked off left and right.

But I’m really excited for the fall, with a new book featuring JLI coming after Flashpoint. It’s written by Dan Jurgens, who not only worked on JLI back in the day but also created Booster Gold. I can’t wait!

30 Things I Like About Comics—#2 Wolverine

I know what your going to say. Stop it. I don’t care what you think. Yes, he’s all over the place. Yes’ he’s super popular. But its for a reason; Wolverine is awesome. My first introduction to the character came back when I was around 1984, in some combination of the Secret Wars action figure, seeing him on Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends and in a comic book or two.

What I originally liked about Wolverine was that he didn’t fit in with the rest of the super heroes. He’s so objective about everything. He’s not afraid to use violence, which makes his peers hesitant. But the more I read, the more complicated he is.

I loved the fact that he had no idea about the majority of his life. You wound up being really sympathetic to him, as when both the character and reader learn about his past, it’s usually pretty depressing. But in spite of that, he still keeps going.

Yes, he was modified to be the ultimate killing machine, but Wolverine is really a kind person. Look at the paternal relationship he has with the younger female X-Men, like Kitty Pryde, Jubilee and even his female clone X-23. In recent years, they’ve developed his relationship with Spider-Man, who he’s kind of an older brother figure to.

The great thing about Wolverine as a character is that he can be fit into any situation. He works well in a typical super hero tale, just as much as you can put him in a dark, gritty story. He looks appropriate anywhere, whether he’s fighting aliens, ninja, soldiers or robots.

Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of the character in the X-Men films is just superb and is one of the best depictions of a super hero in cinema. He has the best mix of sarcasm and bravado, which really bring the character to life.

So yes, Wolverine is ridiculously awesome. We’ll be talking a lot about him in the coming months.


The Dark Knight Rises Trailer Rises

So with the San Diego Comic Con happening this weekend and a trailer for the Avengers movie making the internet circles, DC/Warner Brothers have put out a teaser trailer for The Dark Knight Rises which comes out on July 20, 2012 (I guess you all know what I’m doing for next year’s birthday party).

I guess this movie has a “How Batman Got His Groove Back” feeling to it, being how he was uncermoniously villified at the end of the last film and how in this clip it shows a hospital bedded Commissioner Gordon trying to get him to come back.

Looks interesting and I can’t wait to see more.