Happy 90th Birthday Stan Lee!

stan-lee-meets-spider-manToday longtime Marvel Comics writer/publisher/editor/goodwill ambassador Stan Lee celebrates his ninetieth birthday.

The man certainly dissolves a spot in the pantheon of American comic book creators (if not a spot on the Mount Rushmore of them). I know there’s a lot of controversy about how much he contributed in his collaborations with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, much of which no one really knows the full story. But that aside, you can’t discount how much effect he had on the direction of comic books at the time.

Everyone can agree that comics were pretty lame by the time Lee took over Marvel, and his ideas of the stories that comics could tell helped turn things around. It didn’t hurt that he was collaborating with some of the greatest men to pick up a pencil and comic board.

But what he did so well was serve as a public figure-head to why comic books were so much fun. He became the person when people thought about comic book creators (and I still think he holds that title today). Just as Walt Disney and Jim Henson became synonymous with animation and puppetry, Lee did with comics.

I think in the modern comics world there really needs to be someone like that who just exudes a certain excitement and showmanship to their craft. In that regards, I think the closest would be Mark Millar, who uses his bombastic personality to get attention to his projects.

Anywho, thank Stan for dedicating his life to the medium! The comics world would certainly be completely different without him!


Friday Fights #19: Flash vs. Quicksilver

flash-vs-quicksilverCould Quicksilver beat the Flash? In the 1996 crossover, the scarlet speeder was able to very quickly (no pun intended) dispatch Magneto’s son in a hurry (pun intended). But was that what would really happen if these two were to get into a fight?

Let’s look at their top speeds. Flash can travel at the speed of light; Quicksilver can only break the speed of sound. This gives the Flash the advantage, as he’s still quicker than his opponent, without going full tilt. And being one step ahead of Quicksilver is certainly an advantage and probably the deciding factor if these two were to be in combat.

But if the two of them were in an even fight, with Quicksilver not being able to use his mutant power and the Flash  not being able to tap into the Speed Force, things would be a little different. Flash seemingly doesn’t have any significant hand-to-hand combat training, and I’m sure that Quicksilver has, being part of all the black ops teams he’s been a part of over the year.

So we’ll say it this way:  in a race and the open world, the Flash. In a boxing ring, Quicksilver.


Superman #64: Metropolis Mailbag

superman-64With Christmas rapidly approaching, let’s look at some great comic books dealing with the holiday. Our first stop is Superman #64, which has the man of steel trying to make some Christmas miracles for the people of Metropolis.

Dan Jurgens sets up this story by having Superman at the post office reading all the mail that gets sent to him over the course of the year.

Although much of the letters he receives are praising him for what he has done to help the world, many of them of how he inspires everyday people. But some of the letters are asking for his direct assistance. So Superman does the only thing that’s natural to him.

He helps people. Whether it be helping reunite elderly Holocaust survivors or hitting up a certain wealthy Gotham City business-man to fund an event for poor city children and their families, complete with Santa Claus and a flying reindeer sleigh.

The story is a perfect reminder of why Superman is such a great character. He may be the most powerful person on the planet but what makes his so super is how dedicated he is to helping others.

Friday Fights #18: Wolverine vs. Bobba Fett

wolverine-vs-bobba-fettIt’s time for this week’s Friday Fight:  the man who is the best at what he does goes up against the best bounty hunter in the galaxy! It’s time for Wolverine to take on Bobba Fett.

When it comes to hand-to-hand combat the two of them are pretty much equal. They were both trained to be killing machines, Wolverine through the Weapon X program and Bobba Fett was raised to be the perfect bounty hunter.

Part of being the best bounty hunter means that you are armed for everything. And I’m sure that Bobba Fett is. From the Mandalorian body armor that covers from head to toe, to the never-ending supply of blaster weapons, he has it all. And he’s going to need to use them a lot to slow down Wolverine. The mutant does have his admantium claws, so it’s definitely a good thing he is wearing armor.

But what protects Wolverine so much–literally–is his healing factor. Combine the fact that you can’t really hurt him, with his heightened senses and agility you can’t hit him. The only way that Bobba Fett can win this is by using his spaceship Slave I’s weaponry to fire at Wolverine, but that’s not too practical a way to fight.

So how would this end? Poor Bobba Fett would be looking for Wolverine, only to hear a “SNIKT!” and before he knows it, would be inflicted with a massive stab wound to the mid section. That would be followed by Wolvie lighting a cigar with one of Bobba’s blasters.




Cyberforce #1-2


Top Cow’s new Kickstarter-supported Cyber Force is a lot of fun. And even better, it’s free.

Series creator Marc Silvestri teams up Top Cow’s president Matt Hawkins to bring back the these characters in a new revamped format. I guess I’m lucky going into this not remembering too much of my Cyber Force history, as they took the concept and started it from scratch.

Our story is set in the generally boring city of Pittsburgh, which has been rebuilt by the evil conglomerate CDI. Now renaming the home of the Penguins Millennium City, the company looks to have some sort of diabolical plan in motion (I assume global domination; it’s a comic book after all). They accomplished this with a secret army of hybrid human/robots. The only person who is both aware of this and can stop it is a teenage girl codenamed Velocity, the cyber enhanced daughter of CDI’s president.

The only people she can turn to are a bunch of renegade/decommissioned former CDI hybrids. The most popular of the original Cyberforcers, Ripclaw, is the first to be recruited after the company murders his wife and daughter. By the end of the second issue, the two go off to find the original Cyber Force leader Stryker, who has been hiding out with the civilians (normal people) leading a quiet life as a toll collector. The question at the end is will he go out of hiding and resume his war against the evil CDI.

The story really picks up by the second issue. The best way I can explain it is that it’s a tale of a dystopian future, like Terminator 2: Judgement Day or the worlds George Orwell created, with an evil government/authority that has little regard for its subjects and there is a counter movement bent on stopping it. What it then adds is a touch of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns with Stryker happily living a life off the grid on his own, but now he’s being provoked into getting back into life as a commando.

The story is a lot of fun and you can’t beat reading it, as it’s a free monthly installment. So if you pick this up, thank the generous people who funded the project. Eventually it’s going to be released as a hardcover and I think it’ll be a great read in that format. On the art side, Khoi Pham does a great job conjuring up his inner Silvestri.

The new Cyber Force gets a thumbs up. It’s less of a super hero comic and definitely on the science fiction end of the theme spectrum. You can check these out for free over at Comixology.

Stop Motion X-Men Cartoon Series Intro


I go away for a few days and this happens?

Sorry for the lack of updates, but I took a few pre-holiday days off to take some much needed rest.

As part of that, I’ve taken a much needed Internet break and was pleasantly surprised to see this video pop up as a recommended choice on the old Xbox YouTube app.

It’s an amazingly well-done stop motion version of the intro to the 1990s X-Men cartoon show that my brother and I would watch every Saturday morning growing up. We demanded complete silence at 11 am; this was serious business.

What’s even funnier about this is the little framing story they made about life at the Xavier Academy. Definitely check this out.

Although, there is one glaring problem…the VHS cassette tape they play wasn’t from that X-Men cartoon series. It was the direct-to-video release of Pryde of the X-Men!

Friday Fights #17: Marth vs. Martha Kent


With today’s events, today seemed like the perfect day to do a more lighthearted Friday Fights. Today we are going to take a look at two of the best mothers (or motherly figures) in comic books: I’m talking about Spider-Man’s aunt May Parker and Superman’s mom Martha Kent. Who wins this battle to be the mother superior?

Aunt May is such an important part in Peter Parker’s world. She’s unwavering in her support and love of her nephew and would do anything in the world for him (as well as his girlfriend/wife/whatever Mary Jane is considered in this continuity). There’s a great issue during the J. Michael Straczynski/John Romita Jr. run on Amazing Spider-Man where she finally finds out that her nephew is a super hero. She takes supporting Peter to a whole other level, taking it upon herself to argue with internet comment posters who aren’t in support of Spider-Man. She really loves Peter and it shows.

However, if there is one thing against May, it would be that she always seems to cause some sort of huge distraction for Peter, like when the fact that she is a frail, elderly woman seems to be a common distraction in many Spider-Man comics. Aside from Uncle Ben, she also doesn’t have the best taste in men. Remember, at one point she wound up being married to the villainous Doctor Octopus, and certainly made things awkward by marrying J. Jonah Jameson’s father and making many awkward family get-togethers for Triple J and Peter. 

Marha is an awesome mother. She took in an alien baby, raised it as her own and he goes on to be the most important/powerful man in the universe. Living far away from Superman, she rarely gets too involved in his life, although she’s always willing to lend an ear to talk about things ranging from relationship problems to career goals to even how to stop the Parasite. Plus, she puts up with all the wacky things that Clark gets into like providing housing for his Kryptonian family members like Superboy and Supergirl from time to time.

The only thing that you can knock Martha for is that she’s too perfect. She’s like the Martha Stewart of super hero mothers; she does everything right and nothing bothers her.

So who is the winner in this battle of matronly awesomeness?

The winners are Peter and Clark, as these women have shaped them into kind, responsible adults. Go moms!

Superman #7-8: Superman vs. Helspont


Aliens Attack!

As much as Rob Liefeld and the rest of the Image Comics gang made a mark on my comics reading during the early 1990s, but so did Superman. Between my brother and I, we had every issue of the four Superman monthly series till right around the Death of Superman era. So needless to say, a comic book story having Superman face off against Helspont would get my attention, but with art by Dan Jurgens (who was THE Superman artist during that period but in my mind) this was definitely something I had to check out.

The story is two-fold. Superman has to deal with being abducted and harassed by Helspont. This evil Daemomite seems to have been elevated to big time player in the New 52, between this and all of his exposure in other books.

Helspont is trying to appeal to Superman in attempt to join forces; having the last Kryptonian on his side would make his plans for domination much easier.The villain also brings the point up that eventually mankind will betray him, as they fear his power and the threat of his rule. And this leads to a moral debate between the two, with Superman turning down the offer as he loves the people of Earth. I guess it shows that for all the differences between the past and the modern DC universe, Superman is still the same, costume changes be damned. The humanity that Ma and Pa Kent taught him really shaped his values. Superman’s life is destined to walk among the humans, helping them when he has to because he’s the only person who can help them.

As Superman is fighting for his freedom, there are some subplots going on with Clark Kent’s coworker friends at the Daily Planet. He was supposed to pick up Lois Lane’s sister Lucy at the airport, but the whole Helspont ordeal had him preoccupied. At the same time, Jimmy Olsen is moving into Clark’s apartment on a temporary basis, as his place is filled with bedbugs.

What you had in these two issues was a Superman that I was really familiar with. Jurgens knows how to draw and write a Superman comic book. So does his co-writer Keith Giffen, as he certainly knows how to write compelling super heroes outside of their costumes; see his JLI/E/A stuff for example. The result is a Superman that is still very new, but completely familiar at the same time.

Namora #1: Under The Sea (And We’re Not Talking About Ariel)


This was the perfect book to pull from a dollar bin at a comic show (I might have even paid less for it, I don’t remember). Namora #1 is a single-issue story by Jeff Parker (who has had some experience writing the character during the Agents of ATLAS series) with art by Sara Pichelli before her Ultimate Spider-Man breakthrough.

Namora is Namor’s half-human cousin and a general nice person. The story begins with her rescuing some Russian sailors from a kraken, only to find out that the sea monster has a peaceful coexistence with a colony of lost Atlanteans. Unfortunately Namora realizes that everything is not what it seems as she has a conversation with her deceased daughter Namorita (who was killed back at the start of Civil War). Ultimately it’s up to the Atlantean princess to save her people from the sea monster.

The resulting issue is a lot of fun. It’s a complete story and everything is resolved by the end. It comes across kind of like a pitch, like Marvel was trying to gauge the interest on the character getting her own mini or ongoing series. I enjoyed it, as it was a different take on the Namor/world of Atlantis. So this gets a thumbs up. What also gets a thumbs up is the cool variant cover by legendary lady comic artist Ramona Friden!

New Man of Steel Trailer


Move over Rudolph! There’s something else to get you glued to your television (or YouTube viewer of choice) with the latest trailer for Man of Steel. So what did you think?

Well for one, it makes me feel old. Seeing Kevin Costner and Russel Crowe cast as Superman’s respective human and Kryptonian fathers is a little alarming. I remember it wasn’t too long ago when both of them were always on the top of Hollywood’s most beautiful celebrity lists. And now they’re old enough to play old parents. Eep. But anyway, I like the look Zack Snyder picked for the film. I just hope the final film is more about what it’s like being Superman than Superman fighting everything in his path.

Black Goliath #4


This might seem like a random thing to read. I picked this up at the last New York Comic Con because of the Jack Kirby cover. Sometimes it is acceptable to judge a book buy it’s cover.

As a character, it seems to me that Black Goliath has spent most of his existence flying under the radar. I guess it’s my own lack of knowledge, but I mostly know of him from his death in Civil War. This made me wonder: why is Black Goliath such a forgotten character in the Marvel pantheon? If MODOK can be a top tier character, surely he can as well.

The story is fairly upfront. This issue is a two parter, feeding into the next one. Chris Claremont’s plot is very direct. Tony Stark has lost possession of some sort of gadget but won’t tell Goliath what it is. The giant super hero’s day only gets worse; he teams up with the LAPD to stop Stilt Man, who pretty much kicks his ass. To make things worse this embarrassed in front of his girlfriend Celia. The issue ends with Black Goliath and Celia getting mysteriously teleported away.

I guess now I know why Black Goliath is so forgotten. He’s literally an imitation of the various Hank Pym personas over the years. I guess in his case, his death was his most relevant moment of his existence.

Doctor Strange #9

dr-strange-9I took a glimpse back into Marvel of the 1970s (August 1975 to be exact) when I read Doctor Strange #9. We’re joined in progress in this story, as the evil otherworldly sorcerer Dormammu has not only managed to claim the powers of the Earth spirit Gaea but has entered our realm by showing up in Arizona.  It’s up to Doctor Strange and his other wizard friends to stop Dormammu from destroying everything.

This part of the story I get, but the rest of Steve Englehart’s plot gets a little confusing mostly because I’ve never really been into Doc Strange’s books. Dormammu has been getting help in this latest scheme by Umar, his twin sister. Thankfully for her, they’re not identical.

A major plot point is then revealed by Orini (a mystic who should be the ruler of the Dark Dimension, but his throne was forcefully taken by Dormammu). Orini is around because he is the father of Clea, who just happens to be Strange’s girlfriend. Got that? It gets a lot more confusing right now. Orini reveals to his daughter the true identity of her mother: Umar.

Umar then steals Dormammu’s power, leading to daughter Clea rebelling against her mother by freeing Gaea and sending her parents and Uncle Dormammu back to the Dark Dimension. After reading this I thought my head was going to explode.

It wasn’t that it was poorly written. The art was by Gene Colan who is great on these kinds of stories. But the problem was there were too many characters to be introduced to at once, let alone that they all had similar sounding names. And if that’s going to be your first encounter with a story, it never ends well.

There was an interesting bit of trivia that I learned from this issue though. The letterer was Karen Mantlo, the then-wife to Bill Mantlo.

Friday Fights #16: Gandalf vs. Magneto

gandalf-vs-magnetoThis week’s Friday Fights was inspired by an episode of The Colbert Report. Ian McKellen was a guess this week, and Stephen Colbert asked him a question designed to drive fanboys and fangirls into heated debate: who would win in a fight…Gandalf or Magneto. McKellen’s answer was that the wizard would be left standing tall. But would that happen?

Let’s look at their similarities. Neither of them are known for their physical abilities or fighting prowess. Instead, the two rely on their otherworldly powers. Gandalf is a master wizard, and in Magneto’s case, he was born with the mutant power to control magnetism. This fight would be won and lost on the battle of wizardry and magnetism.

Magneto has battled many a wizard n his day, but Gandalf never encountered something like Magneto. Not to mention, the evil mutant is a lot more sinister in what he would do in a fight.

WINNER: Magneto. He would use his magnetism powers to extract the iron in Gandalf’s blood, making it go night-night for the white wizard.

Deathstroke #12


Rob Liefeld’s run on Deathstroke concludes in this issue, with the end of the Deathstroke/Lobo battle. Bare with me, as I’m still a little sketchy on how this issue ended.

It turns out the that Lobo’s release was orchestrated by Maxim (who hired Deathstroke at the start of this story) were the ones who released Lobo. The goal was to lead him and the Omegas (the alien children of Lobo’s victims) to some sort of spaceship (so Maxim could loot its weapons supply), and Deathstroke’s purpose was to take out Lobo and clean up their mess.

So how does Deathstroke off Lobo? He impaled the Czarnian with the poor alien’s own super motorcycle, flies the two of them into the upper atmosphere, and blows Lobo up. Well that was short-lived. Maybe it’s just because I’m a big fan of the character, but it seems like a cop-out to have killed him off that quickly and easily.

Deathstroke ends the story by telling off Maxim for putting the Omegas in danger for his own personal gain. Before he leaves he stops to flirt with Zealot (the Omega’s bodyguard), awkwardly kissing her and leaves. And that’s it.

Now I know I’m biased; I do like Liefeld’s stuff a lot. But this issue, well, it was pretty confusing plot wise. And that’s a shame, because I think he really over-thought it. The story could have been a lot simpler. The other thing I noticed was that the book was light on backgrounds. There were a noticeable amount of panels without them. But I guess that was a sacrifice that was made to make sure the book came out on time.

The best part of this story was the brief epilogue, where Sheba (Lobo’s girlfriend that was assumed to be deceased) is actually alive and well, albeit in suspended animation. I know the concept is borrowed from Lobo’s Back, but there is definitely something cool about imagining a female Lobo terrorizing the New 52.

Grifter # 10-12


We’re joined in progress for Grifter #10-12. This story arc was a throwback to the old Wildstorm comics; Grifter has assembled a small team and they’re going after the Daemonites. He’s joined by another former Wildstormer in Deathblow as well as Niko, a female assasin/operative type who seems to be the New 52-ized version of Cheshire (Roy Harper’s on-again, off-again lady-friend).

There’s not a lot to talk about these issues to be honest. There’s a lot of gun fighting between Grifter’s group and the Daemonites, all leading up to Grifter to having a massive throwdown with Hellspont. It’s exactly what you would expect from a book written by Rob Liefeld (in this case, co-written by Frank Tierri). The art on this was by Scott Clark, with Marat Mychaels filling in on issue #11. Both were fine.

What drew me into liking this was that it was an easy read. Everything made sense plot wise for the most part, the panels were filled with action and it never took itself too seriously.

This story was an easy read, and seems to be building towards Hellspont being a more prominent villain in the New 52 universe.

Hawkman #9



Hawkman is one of those characters that on the surface seems like he could be really fun to read, but unfortunately years (and years) of crazy continuity make it a daunting task. I picked up Hawkman #9 because of Rob Liefeld, but it was the creative team as a whole that made me enjoy the book so much.

Co-written by Mark Poulton, it starts off a new story arc for Hawkman. As someone who really isn’t up on the character, it was pretty straightforward to get into. Carter Hall has the magical Nth metal armor, except this version has it originating from inside him like the Guyver. Possessing such a weapon makes him quite the target, as he keeps getting harassed by mercenaries trying to forcibly remove his armor. The issue ends with Carter speaking with Emma, a female friend and colleague of his. This wraps up rather quickly as they get attacked; Carter is kidnapped by an “antiquities”/weapons dealer who wants the armor named Xerxes.

The art on this book is by Joe Bennet is pretty sweet; I always seem to forget about him and his projects. This was a quick but fun read. I’ll probably finish the arc at some point later on.

Masters of the Universe vs. WWE?!??!??



Masters of the Universe and the WWE have a lot in common that go beyond both of them having toy lines produced by Mattel. Even Triple H likes He-Man. Over the years, he’s had several He-Man/barbarian themed ring gears for the bigger events. At this past Wrestlemania, he came to the ring by walking out of a large Castle Grayskull-looking stage. After a little poking around wwe.com, you could see that there is some synergy ablaze between the two companies.

They’ve posted a bunch of photos of the Masters and wrestlers teaming up, as well as some short write ups about what would happen if they encountered each other.

But what was really cool is the sections where they have the wrestlers sharing their childhood stories about being He-Fans, whether it be the Miz wishing he was He-Man or Brodus Clay sharing his fondness for the villains. I think my favorite was Sheamus talking about his obsession with getting a Stratos figure.