H(yd)den In Plain Sight

Before I get to the finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., nice work on the Flash! Eobard was captured by the combined efforts of Barry, Ronnie and Ollie. Of course, Leonard Snart now has his Rogues. I guess we’ll see them next season.

I didn’t catch that Cal was Calvin Zabo, the alter ego of Mister Hyde…even with all of the stupid tantrums. I even posted regarding Skye being Daisy Johnson/Quake, for some reason not recalling that she was Hyde’s daughter.

Cal

Hyde

I was kinda disappointed in the actions of Skye’s mother, but I read that there will be an Inhumans movie sometime soon, and so things needed to go as they did. Of course, not everyone thinks so.

Bobbi was excellent – she is just so bloody kick-ass!

Ward will now be the new head of HYDRA? Whoa.

I guess I should mention that Coulson won’t be doing two-handed pushups for the near future.

Nice work, everyone. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is now must-see TV.

To explain my missing the above hints as to Hyde, I will now share with you a true story.

I was NOT aware that Chancellor Palpatine was the Emperor until Revenge of the Sith.

starwarscomplete

How was that possible?!?

Until recently, I had not seen Return of the Jedi…and I have only a one-word answer to that:

Ewoks.

I could never make sense of how it was that little furry creatures lived in a bloody forest. It smacked of pandering to the fairer sex, who, I imagine, after first seeing the little buggers, practically cooed in the ears of anyone within earshot.

When Star Wars came out, I took the book with me, and read it while the movie played.

When Empire Strikes Back first showed, I had to leave because my sister freaked out when Han cut into the Taun-taun to keep Luke safe from the elements on Hoth. I got to see it not too long after that.

I never saw RotJ in the theater.

When the Phantom Menace came out, I thought that there was something a tad “off” about the Chancellor…but I couldn’t really put my finger on it.

Attack of the Clones should have made it clear that he was up to no good, but I simply didn’t have that prior knowledge.

Of course, it all came together in Revenge of the Sith – though his conversion to the Dark Side was clumsily done.

Now, you think I would have consulted some Star Wars Wiki that would ostensibly explain how Ewoks could live in a forest…but I didn’t much care…until I’d seen a promo of RotJ with the Emperor blasting Luke with Force Lightning.

Now I had to see it!

I sat through the bloody forest scenes, and got my payoff. Of course, I cannot find examples of other Jedis being taught the folly of attacking when the other Jedi has the “high ground“.

So…if you ever see me in person, please feel free to rib me on my missing Palpatine as the Emperor. I won’t zap you with Force Lightning…maybe.

SW6Emp

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My Review of Avengers: Age Of Ultron

Well. it’s not like I get review copies…but I finally got to see the newest offering from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

It’s a good bit of entertainment – we get to see the entire team of Avengers as we knew them from the first movie at the very beginning. We get a feel for all of the characters and what they can do. We are then introduced to Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. We then get to see a relationship sparking between the Black Widow and Bruce Banner/Hulk. Tony Stark lets some pre-A.I. get out of hand, and Ultron evolves itself beyond Stark’s control. In evolving, he updates his protocols and threatens all life on Earth, but of course, the Avengers are up to the task. Quicksilver, however, sacrifices his life to save Hawkeye and a child.

Okay…there’s a lot more to this movie, but I want to stress three things (two immediately):

  • The cast is really having fun portraying the various characters;
  • The movie didn’t disappoint me – it brings the Avengers Initiative forward;
  • The differences between the MU and the MCU will need to be accounted for in some fashion.

The third point obviously requires some elaboration.

I came across Joss Whedon’s Q&A in amNY and his decisions regarding Natasha’s relationship with Clint.

AMNY - Defending Black Widow

You see, in the MU, Henry Pym created Ultron. He wasn’t much more than a blender (?) with a face when he was Ultron 1; but in the course of Hank turning to other things, Ultron 1 evolved itself four times, eventually becoming the maniacal Ultron 5, who then developed an Oedipus complex. This was further established when he created first the Vision, who turned on him (as in the movie), and later, Jocasta, forged in the form of his “mother”, Janet Van Dyne/Pym. It even forged a simulacrum of Hawkeye’s significant other, Mockingbird/Bobbi Morse, called Alkhema.

My favorite iteration of Ultron was highlighted in the first seven issues of the then-ongoing series of the West Coast Avengers.

In the MU, Hawkeye was introduced as being in a relationship with the Black Widow, so I can understand the consternation his MCU rendition is taking. Whedon wrote some X-Men, but it’s entirely possible that those advising him never read those issues of Tales of Suspense.

There are a couple of sticking points:

  • Speedsters are a total pain in the ass to conceive. If I were a speedster, I’d actively disarm all of the easy targets and leave the heavy hitting to the heavy hitters. It’s slightly implausible that Quicksilver couldn’t have moved Hawkeye and the child completely out of harm’s way, but in doing so, overtasked himself, and was rendered comatose….or something like that.
  • Steve Rogers was deemed worthy to lift the hammer of Thor in the MU…I hope that he will prove to be the same in the MCU.

I can deal with it, though.

I anxiously await the next chapter in the Avengers saga.

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A Letter To Warren Ellis Regarding Planetary #26

I found an old letter I had sent to Warren Ellis upon the release of Planetary #26 (#27 was still in production):

Planetary #26

Dear Warren, John, Laura, Richard, Scott and Jim:

What can I say? Planetary #26 is the book I’ve been waiting for all of my life – and I mean that. I’m going to purchase Absolute Planetary so that I can pick up some other things that weren’t elaborated upon in my readings.

So…let me just say that this book should be mass-produced, bought by every school on this planet, translated into whatever language comic book font can handle, and sent home with every child of reading age. THAT’S HOW GOOD THIS BOOK IS. The learning curve on this issue isn’t steep at all. You start with our heroes (even though I’d hesitate to note that Snow, et al, wouldn’t refer to themselves as such) doing something that could totally be their undoing, yet, they forge ahead. We’re introduced to the villains of the piece. A confrontation ensues. The bad guys take the bait, believing themselves to have the upper hand. Fearlessly, the heroes outmaneuver, outsmart and outwit the villains – and then use them to warn off an even worse threat! Fantastic! And the adventure has only just begun.

Now, I was so juiced reading this book, I had to go back and read #s 21-22 for some recent back story, but I’m going to pull out stuff from my memory…

Let’s start with the Planetary Preview – I guess the Four were confident that David Paine wouldn’t regain some sense of self and rewrite himself some wings or something, eh?

Number one has so many gems, I’ll just say that OF COURSE Elijah’s not just sitting in some desert dive swilling rancid coffee – but who knew? Snow knew. What planning!

Number two – an example of man despoiling nature, perhaps?

Number three – now, as I re-read #21 this morning, the part regarding the ghost cop was interesting – did the cop actually not witness the same thing that Snow did, or did he say that there was nothing but the physical life so that the evil ones would despair? Maybe we’ll find out in #27.

Number four – a very key issue. I know I’d sent in a letter wondering…just where was that bloody shiftship? Just think of The Bridge from Houses Of The Holy for what I call my clever aside…but I never picked up that the whole robbery looked…suspect.

Axel Brass was the focus of number five, and one of the people Elijah needed to acquire to cement his eventual victory against the Four, who of course, were the focus of issue six (now I need to go back and check Leather’s questions to Snow again).

Seven was a nice homage to both John Constantine and Spider Jerusalem (nice color by David Baron, by the way), not to mention the magickal and mystical folk.

Number eight should have been one of those issues that I should have realized wasn’t just you playing with genres…you clearly identified the future pilots of the shiftship! Fantastic!

Well, not-so-lucky number nine. Considering what’s happened this issue, I’m looking forward to seeing a very interesting family reunion soon (flying figures and all).

Issue ten was chilling – what the DC Universe could have been without their top three defenders of justice. So casually done, their demises…

I love Nick Fury, and I adore Jim Steranko’s sensibilities, so it was tres cool to see John Cassaday work his magic upon that issue. Even better was the (almost verbatim) rehashing of the scene in StormWatch #46 (yes, I have a LOT of Ellis material – the man is GOLD!), though I’m sure televangelists are still screaming about you evaporating their base of non-thinkers. Oh boy…that last panel – “I know who the fourth man is”.

So you can only imagine how that wait for number twelve was…I made that my desktop for a while (the clean Snow version without the issue representation (how much planning did it take to reproduce the first eleven issues as a backdrop?) until that book came out. Once again, a chilling last panel (the Four’s satellite, looming in space with the ice “4” reflected in its surface. Nice.

We’re treated to nasty versions of the Frankenstein monster, Dracula and Sherlock Holmes in number13 – great referencing of Doyle’s original wishes for his creation.

Now here in issue fourteen, you really got me thinking…Thor, Miracleman (would you be interested in finishing that?) the X-Men and (I know this must really make you and Grant go nuts) what people will call the Matrix scene – like all that wasn’t done before! I need to go back and try to reference some of the weapons. This issue is important in that Leather is not invulnerable, and also when Snow has his first victory/failure against the evil Randall Dowling.

Number fifteen introduces us to Ambrose’s family, and also to the Four’s desperation in attempting to access the Bleed. Nice work in explaining the dreamtime, though I was hoping for more Carlton Marvell. But I guess he’s busy on Mars…

Hark – is that number sixteen? Great juxtaposition between Hark’s physical battle and the psychological battle with Snow, but the most touching scene was between Anna and Jim.

Blackstock, Blackstock…oh, what a bad boy you’ve been. You just couldn’t resist Elijah’s little darling – but the world is lucky Elijah has a kind heart. Otherwise, we wouldn’ve been treated to the likes of Jakita Wagner.

Mix in a little Jules Verne, a tad of 2001, and stir with a healthy dose of vengeance…and you get something close to The Gun Club. And his first real victory against the Four…but it doesn’t stop there…

..because in numbers nineteen and twenty, we are witness to wonder and madness all at once. The angels. The worldship of the planetary devourer. And Jacob Greene. Wow. Can I say that, given his expertise, we may have NOT seen the last of Greene? We’ve still an issue to go…

Twenty-one featured a consultation with Melanctha, the scientist (magic is merely unquantifiable science, yes?), where she broadened his horizons in regards to his origins and his true mission in the world. I also thought that she actually illustrated how to remove Dowling and Suskind right at the beginning of her visit (the fingernail in the teacup, along with her description of the microverse – she was hinting to him to KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID – don’t try thinking of some amazing way to outsmart Dowling – because you can’t, thanks to his abilities); I’m also going to read some of Richard Feynman’s writings (have you read Martin Gardner’s The Ambidextrous Universe?).

The Torture of William Leather – number twenty-two is a book I can read over and over again. Ellis wasn’t kidding when he mentioned just how rich the history is; it was just the timing. Warren and John have created the foundations for some fantastic nuanced ideas for entertaining a new generation, and I for one am glad for it. The Dead Ranger (what do you mean we, paleface?); Bret’s Dark Arachnid (did he ever get a name?); the possibilities are endless!

Well, we had to wait twenty-three issues to learn the origin of the Drummer, but that’s just the way it works sometimes (Warren definitely paced out the series with mysteries in mind; we don’t find out anything until it’s necessary to do so); and this story is no exception. Just fantastic is the witty repartee between Ambrose and Elijah.

I guess things were getting a tad dicey in Dowlingland, because he just lasered one of the Planetary buildings to its foundations in number twenty-four…but it is there that we learn a very important distinction in regards to the Planetary Guides – Elijah didn’t write down EVERYTHING…after all, where’s that bloody shiftship? You’ll recall back in number fifteen, the one thing Dowling hasn’t mastered is the Bleed, and so he’s trying everything he can without really acknowledging the fact. But it’s become abundantly clear that his frustration is overriding his caution. Why else try the Big Bolt From The Blue?

Number twenty-five is a pivotal issue, as we learn exactly how the Four obtained their myriad abilities. We also get the return of John Stone, though he’s not quite so happy to be back. So much in this issue…I told myself, “There’s no way Ellis and Cassaday can top this issue”.

Little did I know…that number twenty-six would hit me like a blue whale from Uranus. I can’t stop talking about this issue. It’s really made an impact on me (yes, I know, it’s a bloody comic-book story – get over it, man), but it really hits home. If I ever had any notion of not staying the course when it comes to saving the world, they’re dead and buried (of course, they’ll just come back as weeds, right?); because the world is too beautiful to let the scumbags have their way. That, I think, is the message Elijah’s been hammering at us all this time.

He’s right.

The world must be protected, whether it’s Monsanto, Halliburton, or just idiots logging the Amazon rainforest (“well, when the ecosphere dissipates, I won’t be here”… how about your descendants?!?); the world is beautiful, and we have to do our part. Warren, John, Laura, Richard/Bill, John/Scott and Jim have done their bit. What will you do?

Cheers!

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FCBD 2015!

FCBD

Yep – I was able to score some of this year’s offerings, thanks again to Forbidden Planet. Then the nephew and I took a ride downtown, and I got a Bahn Mi and some other goodies.

So, without further ado:

Kodansha Comics – Attack On Titan

Avatar: The Last Airbender – Dark Horse

The All-New, All-Different Avengers – Marvel

Bob’s Burgers – Dynamite

Bongo Comics Free-For-All! – Bongo

Ten Year Celebration – Boom!

Dark Circle Comics FCBD – Dark Circle

Divergence – DC

Doctor Who – Titan

Fight Club – Dark Horse

Hip-Hop Family Tree Three-In-One – Fantagraphics

MegaMan/Sonic The Hedgehog: Worlds Unite Preview – Archie

Pokemon – Perfect Square

Secret Wars #0 – Marvel

Super Mutant Magic Academy – Drawn & Quarterly

Teen Titans Go!/Scooby Doo Team-Up – DC

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – IDW

Terrible Lizard – Oni Press

Valiant 25th Anniversary Special – VALIANT

So…that’s what I got, along with a Forbidden Planet sticker – nice! If I’d had gotten there earlier, I probably could have snagged a copy of the Savage Dragon Legacy book. Erik Larsen puts out a good book, and I like to support a guy who continues to put forth such effort – I also want to note Herb Trimpe’s passing. Ben Herman put together a great restrospective at his site. Erik had Herb pencil and ink his work on Savage Dragon #200.

As to what I’m looking forward to perusing…I’m going to check them all out. First, of course, was Secret Wars. It will be interesting to see if Marvel can pull this off; presumably, Steve Rogers will regain some measure of his Super-Soldier formula; something will happen to the Hulk/Doc Green; we get an all-female Avengers…but oddly enough, it feels a little bit like a Marvel version of Twilight of the Superheroes, without the murder mystery or John Constantine. Maybe I will be pleasantly surprised.

Divergence, on the other hand, looks to be utterly confusing. Superman’s civilian identity has been released to the world, and the best he could do was to wear a hoodie and hang out with Jimmy Olsen?!?

Yeah…

I was pleasantly surprised by Bloodshot #1 by VALIANT (capitalizing as per Big Jim), so their FCBD release should have something good.

I’m a fan of Teen Titans Go!, but their madcap hilarity may not work so well in a comic….but LOVE the Batman plushie!

If anything really pops, I’ll update the entry here…and no – I haven’t seen Avengers – Age of Ultron as of yet. Hearing good things, though – I’m glad of that. So, only that, Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: the Dark World, and my Marvel Cinematic Universe will be complete.

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What If…Todd McFarlane Had Drawn The Foolkiller Series?

I had an interesting thought after reading the late, great Steve Gerber’s blog, in which he notes that the adjective-less Spider-Man#1 came out the same week as Foolkiller #1.

What if…instead of being given free reign to write and draw yet another Spider-Man book, that instead, he was given the assignment to draw Steve’s Foolkiller book?

Foolkiller was drawn by Joe Brozowski, under the pseudonym J.J. Birch, and inked by Tony DeZuniga (1-5) and Vincent Giarrano (6-10). I like the book just fine as it is. J.J. did a couple of swipes from Amazing Spider-Man #225, by Roger Stern, John Romita, Jr. and Bob Wiacek, but they in no way detract from the book; rather, they allowed me to make fond rememberances to the issue.

Spider-Man #1 sold an incredible number of copies:

“Todd McFarlane was at the top of his game as an artist, and with Marvel’s release of this new Spidey series he also got the chance to take on the writing duties. The sales of this series were nothing short of phenomenal, with approx. 2.5 million copies eventually printing, including special bagged editions and a number of variant covers.”

Imagine if he had drawn those ten issues for Steve instead?

I have two copies of Spider-Man #1; the regular cover and the black cover. I have a lot of variant covers,  but it’s usually either one or the other.

Spiderman1cover

I was lucky to be able to pick up Incredible Hulk #340 for $1.25 at the time…check what it lists for now.

I picked up Amazing Spider-Man #300 on a newsstand on the way home from a Hallowe’en party (along with Iron Man #225 – the Stark Wars, with excellent art by Doc Bright and Bob Layton). Early on in Todd’s career, he did a couple of swipes from John Byrne’s run on Hulk, but he eventually made them his own, and developed his own visual vocabulary. It was a lot of fun reading those issues, having the wordsmithing of Peter David juxtaposed with this unique take on illustrating the Grey Goliath.

I mention Incredible Hulk #340 for a reason. Todd drew one of the best renditions of Wolverine since Byrne and Austin had him fighting the Wendigo in Uncanny X-Men #140. It was also the first issue fully drawn by McFarlane. So, of course, when it was released that not only Wolverine, but also Hobgoblin and the Ghost Rider were going to be in Spider-Man #s 6 & 7, I was sure that I was going to see that fantastic rendition of Wolverine once again.

Uh…nope.

What the bloody hell happened?!?

It’s fine, I guess – I just go back to Incredible Hulk #340, to see it done right.

Anywho, I’m looking forward to Free Comic Book Day tomorrow.

Let’s not forget Avengers – Age of Ultron. I’ve been watching the first Avengers movie being broadcast on FX, and I’m not tired of it yet.

I can only hope A-AoU is at least as good.

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Secret Wars!

Avengers – Age of Ultron is but two days away, and Free Comic Book Day is but one day after that.

My nephew and I will be making the rounds on Saturday. I just ran across a film called Sucker Punch – check it out!

Let’s talk about this week’s Flash and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:

The cat’s out of the bag regarding the Reverse-Flash taking over Harrison Wells’ identity, Cisco attempts to set a trap, but instead is fooled by a substitution with last week’s antagonist, Everyman. Eobard Thawne reveals himself to Eddie, who had just attempted to propose to Iris. An interesting thing is the future news clipping, revealing that Iris would eventually marry Barry (as it was in the comics). Joe West refuses to give his blessing for Eddie to take his daughter’s hand, and tells Barry that he knows that he and Iris belong together.

I’ll bet we will soon find out it wasn’t the greatest of ideas to let Eddie in on the secret…and Barry has just boldly LIED to Iris about not having received powers.

I was able to catch up using the online version, but I kept losing connection. Of course, when I gave up trying, the connection stayed intact.

EVIL.

Before I recap on this week’s AoS, here’s an online clip I found: Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD: Double Agent – ABC.com

I haven’t caught up with the previous episode, but there was one thing I was mindful of; that this episode would lead into the upcoming Avengers movie, much as  the previous season’s AoS led into Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

How about the reappearance of Ward and the comment: “We got the band back together?”

Skye now has full control of her powers, enough to be able to bring Lincoln back to life with a pulse to his heart. Deathlok was partially dismantled, but will be sent to be repaired. Bakshi was inadvertently killed by Jemma – it looked to me that she was attempting to kill Ward.

There is some discord being sown among the InhumansRayna has a premonition of Iron Man and upcoming destruction. I guess we’ll see in two days.

SECRET WARS is here!

SWP

So…the BEYONDERS have murdered the godheads of our universe, among them the Living Tribunal?!? How will this jibe with the two previous Secret Wars series? Will it relate at all to BMB‘s retcon in Illuminati #3?

A quick aside – why did the good guys use the term “Illuminati“, and the bad guys “Intelligencia“? IMHO, it should have been the other way around.

A quick look at the above cover will let you know that we’re in for a wild ride!

I was previously unaware that the cancellation of books like FF were due to SW. It made more sense to me that the entire Marvel line is being realigned (I hesitate to use the term rebooted), but I surely hope it doesn’t end with the Hulk/Doc Green being stuck on Battleworld II for a year.

I plan on doing a review of my favorite FCBD releases this weekend.

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The Flash and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Week of April 4th, 2015)

I was able to catch these two shows this week!

CW Tricksters

Tricksters featured former (and soon to be present) “Luke Skywalker” Mark Hamill as James Jesse, the original Trickster, and Devon Graye played Axel Walker, his protégé. This followed faithfully the comics storyline written by Geoff Johns, and was a fantastic episode, considering I’d missed a number of them since the Firestorm episode. I’m sure mark had a great time of playing the maniacal character, especially after voicing the Joker after all this time. Go ahead and check it out from your On Demand menu (it took me way too bloody long to figure that out).

skyeAoS Gordon

The newest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is titled “One Door Closes”, in which we discover Skye’s Inhuman power, and the decision she makes when she has to decide being hunted by her former teammates, or going with a completely unknown character, Gordon, who happens to be a blind Inhuman who can teleport.

If that hasn’t piqued your interest enough, much of the episode is the behind-the-scenes action of what occurred during Captain America – The Winter Soldier; and to add to that, we get to see Lucy Lawless kick major @$$, and Edward James Olmos as a high-ranking member of what’s being referred to as the “real S.H.I.E.L.D.“, Gonzalez.

I’ll be back with more as I find out more – have a happy Easter, everyone!

Update (05/03/2015): I promised I’d come back with more, and since I was able to catch that missing episode of AoS, I was able to determine that Skye’s character is based on Daisy Johnson, also known as Quake, in the Marvel Universe. Quake was created by Brian Michael Bendis and Gabrielle Dell’Otto in the Secret War LS (not to be confused with Shooter’s SW series or Hickman’s upcoming series).

That was a great episode, as well!

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