Review Time! Marvel books

I haven’t done any comic book reviews in a long time, so I’ve decided to (Try really, really hard) and keep up with the newest releases from the big two….and sometimes the big three and four and five…..

Here are the books that dropped from the House of Ideas on 9/17/14

All New X-Factor 14: This was my first time reading this book and I was dropped into the start of a new storyline, but I have to admit, I really liked the book. Peter David proves that he is still, some twenty years later one of the best writers to ever grace the pages of X-Factor. Here we find a new, corporate owned version of X-Factor. David gives us a Girl’s day out in Colonial Williamsburg and showcases his trademark wit. Pop Mhan and Scott Hanna handle the art chores and deliver some inconsistently good work. There is some good depictions of the lead characters here, especially during the hilarious conversation between Polaris and Danger but overall the art could use some improvement.

I would look past the choppy art and certainly read this book again.

8/10….A smooth moving book that quickly builds a rapport with its main characters but is held back a little by the inconsistent artwork.

All New X-Men 32: It has been a long while since I’ve read this book and now I really think I’ll have to go back and play some catch up. Our team of time displaced Original X-Men encountered a young mutant in the previous issue and she sent them all to the Ultimate universe. If you loved the Ultimate books as much as I used to than you’ll like the concept of seeing a young an inexperienced team of X-Men in a strange new world. As usual Brian Michael Bendis is on his A game with his dialogue and witty banter. I have to read the rest of the storyline, but so far Bendis has done a good job crafting an engaging story. The art by Mahmud Asrar does a great job of balancing the look of the All-New X-Men and the classic Ultimate Universe. His art really reminded me of Mark Bagley which is not a bad thing.

9/10….Engaging story coupled with excellent art usually makes for an amazing book and I would recommend this….but it doesn’t get the 10 because it is not an easy jumping on point for new readers (Or old ones who took a break on the book)

Avengers 35: What this book is seriously lacking is a “Previously…..” prose page. Yes, each issue starts with a cinematic “Previously…” section made up of a few panels, but it never gives new readers enough info. Johnathan Hickman has been building a very interesting, long form story but new readers coming into this are going to be very lost. What did Tony Stark do? Why is SHIELD after him and the rest of the Illuminati? That’s not really explained here. We do get some awesome scenes with Amadeus Cho, Marvel’s resident young super genius. The art is inconsistent, a major pet peeve of mine. This is due to the fact that there are four artists working on one issue. Jim Cheung, Paco Medina, Nick Bradshaw and Dustin Weaver all provide the art making for a constantly shifting look in the issue. I could understand the multiple artists if this was an anthology of stories, but this is too much for one single issue, especially if that single issue is part of a much larger story.

5/10…..While there are some cool super spy scenes with Amadeus Cho taking on SHIELD and an interesting last page reveal, take a pass on this one. Wait for the trade paperback collection and get the story as a whole. As a single issue this is too confusing.

Avengers World 13: What a mess. Avoid this issue. While there I usually like Nick Spencer’s team books this is just flat out ridiculous. Unlike the previous Avengers book, this one does have a good recap for new readers, but it doesn’t help much because the story is just so silly even for comic book standards. Raffaele Ienco produces some quality artwork and moves the story along, even amazing art can’t save such a silly, silly story. The idea that the dark and dangerous city of Madripoor has been a major feature of countless Marvel adventures and has been used as a great setting in the first Wolverine limited series. This plot puts that once realistic backdrop on top of the head of an ancient dragon. There’s a lot more too the plot than that, but even for a comic book it just comes out as silly. Many of the heroes featured in the book are written out of character and I get the feeling that they’re also wondering what the heck they’re doing in such a stupid story.

2/10…..Flip through this book at the store for the artwork, but keep it on the shelf for the ridiculous storyline. Maybe Nick Spencer will have something better worked up for another time. This one was a real letdown.

Daredevil 8: Mark Waid and Chris Samnee are hands down one of the best creative teams to work on Daredevil in decades. This issue has the feel of an episode of a well written tv drama. We have an eerie crime happening in the beginning and unveiling the ruthless villain behind it then our hero is introduced and he gives us just enough back story to keep us up to date. Matt Murdock is publicly known as Daredevil, he lost his law license in New York and now has a practice in San Francisco. Meanwhile, an old mind controlling villain has his sights set on building a family and will do anything and kill anyone to achieve that….when his plan backfires there are some sinister results and the beginnings of some very cool new villains. He is out of his element, but thriving in his new life. It’s a great build up and Samnee’s very fluid, animated style of art surprisingly fits the dark tones in the story. If the Netflix Daredevil show is half as good as this book,they’ll have a hit on their hands.

10/10….This one is a winner. The art and plot work hand in hand to bring us a great Daredevil story and bring a really fresh take on the character, proving that he can work outside of New York’s Hell’s Kitchen. Highly recommended.

Deadpool Bi-Annual 1: While the usual writing chores are taken over by Paul Scheer and Nick Giovannetti, Deadpool is still in good hands. In fact a SHIELD agent tells Deadpool just that when he realizes the writers are different. This issue brings us the return of the absurd 90s heroes Brute Force, a super team consisting of animals in cyborg suits. While the whole concept of these super animals attacking a Sea World type theme park is just silly, unlike the stupidity of Avengers World 13, this is played purely for laughs and it is a truly funny book. The cartoonish, madcap artwork by Salva Espin works well to drive the nutty story home. We still get to see the blood, guts and humor of a regular Deadpool book, just by a different creative team. This is a perfect jumping on point for new readers.

IMAGE OF THE WEEK

IMAGE OF THE WEEK

10/10….One of the funniest books to roll out in a while. I’ve always liked weird 90s characters so seeing Deadpool team with oddities like Brute Force is a plus. And there’s some really funny Phil Coulson related jokes in here as well.

The Edge of the Spiderverse 2: In case you didn’t know there is a large event weaving (See what I did there?) through all of the Spider-Man books in which some force is killing various incarnations of Spider-Man throughout the multi-verse…in this case, the Spiderverse. It’s a really cool idea and this book, is showcasing new, unestablished Spiderpeople. Here we see an alternate world where Gwen Stacy was bitten by a radioactive spider and became Spider Woman….Peter tried to gain super powers and became the lizard, dying in a rampage. Now Gwen must juggle her super hero career with her punk band as an assassin stalks her father for the Kingpin. It’s a fun story in the vein of classic Spider-Man. Written by Jason Latour with art by Robbi Rodriguez.

9/10…..If it were a stand alone and not connected to a big mega epic, I’d give it the full 10. It’s worth your comic buying dollar. As a whole, it really interested me in the entire Spiderverse saga and I will pick up the collection once it hits stores.

Elektra 6: Elektra takes on a mission in the ancient spot where the Inhumans once called home. She has a rag tag team of assassins and hired guns as she is being hunted by the Guild of Assassins. It’s a pretty good jumping on point for the book, but it didn’t really hold my interest all that much. It reads like a typical summer blockbuster and it would be far better to see on screen than the Elektra movie. The art by Alex Sanchez was incredibly engaging and depicted some very solid action sequences. W. Haden Blackman provides a journeyman’s effort with the plot but doesn’t lure me in. If I didn’t write reviews, I’d probably skip the next issue…

7/10….A solid issue, but not really intriguing enough to warrant continuous reading.

Hulk 6 The new direction for the Hulk sees the Green Goliath taking on yet another incarnation, this time calling himself Doc Green. Doc Green sports a spiffy green mohawk and is a no holds barred, ruthless scientist. Seeing gamma based weapons as a threat to society, Doc Green begins a campaign to take Gamma powered beings off the table with a cure he devised. With this cure, he takes on A-bomb, his friend Rick Jones. The story by Gerry Duggan is very fun and left me wanting more, especially at the cliff hanger ending. The end hinted at an awesome battle yet to come. The art by Mark Bagley is magnificent as always. Bagley is a present day craftsman and his art will certainly be called classic once he’s retired. Hopefully that won’t be for a long time.

10/10…Go back and get Hulk 5 and keep reading this excellent take on the book. Waid did an amazing job on his run and Duggan is taking the ball and running with it in his own unique direction. It appears like the whole point of this storyline is to clear the playing field of all the Hulk-ish characters running around the Marvel-U….that’s not such a bad thing.

Hulk Annual 1…What a drastically different and pretty disapointing follow up to the previous Hulk book. This issue still features the Doc Green Hulk, but in an adventure that could be suited for any Hulk, any super hero for that matter. A woman is caught in a lab accident and becomes some sort of plant creature that can control plants. The dialouge is stiff and the pacing is clunky and slow. Even the artwork by is just flat out boring.

0/10…. This is pure filler, skip it.

Miles Morales Ultimate Spider-man 5 With a Bendis story, the dialogue is always strong and this is obviously no exception to that rule. The plot, Miles encounters the supposedly resurrected Peter Parker (Ultimate Peter Parker died and Morales became the new Spider-Man.) is very intriguing and hooks the reader. The artwork by David Marquez reflects his unique style yet harkens back to the days of the classic Ultimate Universe. While I recommend this issue, I think you should do yourself a favor and journey to your local comic shop and pick up the collected edition when it arrives.

9/10…Excellent story, great concepts but yet another small piece in a big yummy pie.

Nova 21 Gerry Duggan is now on my watch list for the next great Marvel writer. I had no idea who the guy was until he started writing Hulk and now he’s really nailing it with Nova as well. This is a fun issue that sees Sam, the new Nova using his powers to help his family move while looking for his father, a drunk who was once a former Nova himself. The story is accompanied by David Baldeon who provides cartoony and fun art that suits the tone of the adventure.

10/10….This is a really fun book and I would recommend it to anyone trying to get a young reader interested in comics.

Original Sin Thor & Loki 5 A letter to Original Sin Thor and Loki: Dear book, you look good and you have a borderline interesting concept but get to the damn point already. This damn book does not need to be six issues. The idea of Thor and Loki having a secret sister is interesting and could have been done in three issues and expanded on in the upcoming Angela: Asgard’s Assassin series.

This story is just dragged out and ends up feeling like a money grabbing tactic. It is good to look at though. 1/10….Just pass this one up. If you’ve seen the solicits for Asgard’s Assassin you know what happens in this book. Don’t bother, even if it is good to look at.

Savage Hulk 4 Go out to your friendly comic book retailer and purchase the Essential Incredible Hulk by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and skip this book. This is an homage to the classic stories but it just misses the fun and excitement of those early tales. I love Alan Davis 99% of the time but this book just doesn’t do the job it was meant to do.

5/10….Davis’ art is always fun but the story falls flat.

Superior Spider-Man 33 Before you read this make sure you’re caught up with all the other Spiderverse books otherwise you’re going to yell “WTF” and everyone will ignore you because you are obviously a crazy guy just yelling at his comic books. Stop that nonsense. Anyway, in this here issue we find the Spider-Man with Doc Ock’s brain lost in time and space and he is forced to team up with multiple Spider-Men from other universes to fight an otherworldly assassin. The story is heavy but entertaining and the art by Guiseppe Camuncoli and John Dell is amazingly inspired, looking like a fusion between Marvel and Castlevania. 10/10…While it may be a portion of an even bigger story this is stylish and fun and you should just start following the whole Spiderverse storyline.

Thor God Of Thunder 25 Sadly this is the end of this amazing title as writer Jason Aaron takes Thor in a new direction next month with Thor issue 1. This issue starts in a wraparound story in which the Grand daughters of Future Thor are reading various stories of characters throughout the Thor Universe. These tales include a really in depth origin of the dark elf Maleketh which explains where he got his facial scars and shows us the disgusting dietary habits of the Dark Elves. The second story is a Young Thor Adventure with art by the always awesome Simon Bisley. Mr. Bisley really evokes his classic Heavy Metal work here to deliver a swashbuckling viking adventure. The final tale gives us a sneak peek at the new female god of Thunder who is shrouded in mystery. It is a good farewell to an excellent title and a great teaser of what is to come.

10/10…Buy it and save it, it’s a final issue after all and a very good one at that!

Uncanny Avengers 24 Writer Rick Reminder and artist Salvador Larroca bring us another story arc featuring the Unity team of Avengers. The story picks up where the war with Kang left off and we see Havock is badly disfigured. The Red Skull’s crew kidnaps him, Scarlet Witch and Rouge in another attempt to utilize the the power of Charles Xavier’s stolen brain. We are treated to an eerie trip into Rouge’s psyche where a ghostly professor X (with the top of his head missing in gory fashion.) tells her that she can defeat the Red Skull once and for all because Wonderman is trapped in her subconcious from the previous issue. You get all that? Well of course not because this is a cool issue but a horrible, horrible place to start. 7/10…Pick up the collection at your local comic book dealer.

Uncanny X-men 26 How many times can “Professor X has a dark secret that has come back to haunt the X-Men” be used as a damn plot. This is the continuation of that same tired concept and it is just not that interesting. 3/10…The art is serviceable but the story is just stale and tired.

Wolverine and the X-Men 9 Jason Latour and Jorge Fornes bring us the conclusion of a pretty boring tale with spotty, inconsistent artwork. While Latour was able to really craft an amazing story with Gwen Stacy as Spider-Woman, this is going in all the wrong directions. The whole idea of making Quinten Quire more nefarious has great potential Latour butchers the good name of every character around him. The art does the same thing the writing does, making Wolverine and company just flat out ridiculous looking. Maybe the new story arc in issue 10 will be better.

0/10…I was never a fan of Jason Aaron’s “Wooohoo we have jetpacks and crazy adventures” style of storytelling on the first volume of this book, Jason Latour doesn’t do much better here and his art partner needs some improvement.

The new Apple/Dell/Toshiba/Samsung of her Father’s eye.

The release of yet another damn I-Phone had me thinking a lot about children.  I know it sounds weird at first but bear with me.  Consumer electronics change so constantly by the time you buy something, leave the store and bring it to your car, it’s already obsolete.  Try buying an I-phone and see how long it takes the money hungry parasites at Apple before they churn out a new version.  3.2 seconds.  Before you even pay for your I-Pod 34, the company has already created a superior version that not only has GPS, but it will fly you to your destination…..or it just has a new Silver and Gold cover.  “It’s the Malibu Stacy I-Phone with a new hat!”

The "Malibu Stacy New Hat Effect".  Same product, one superficial new feature.

The “Malibu Stacy New Hat Effect”. Same product, one superficial new feature

To Parents, children are not too different from technology.  They are constantly changing and evolving and it is at such a rapid speed, each new variation is slightly more improved than the previous.

Baby 1.0:  Zero to Four Months

 

"Dad fell asleep, I was on his chest and his nipples do nothing!  NOTHING!"

“Dad fell asleep, I was on his chest and his nipples do nothing! NOTHING!”

The first version of the baby to premier.  The company i.e. Parents/God are all very proud of what they’ve made and show him or her off to everyone.  I mean everyone.  Even the custodial team at the hospital has seen this baby.  However, like most consumer products the Baby 1.0 is primarily aesthetic.  The features are very minimal.  The Baby 1.0 can gurgle, vomit, eat, sleep, poop/pee, vomit, cry, sleep, cry, eat, poop/pee and sleep and that’s pretty much it.  A baby’s sleep cycle in this stage is not unlike charging a brand new smart phone.  The baby sleeps for about 19 hours a day and you’re just sitting in the room, paranoid that something’s going to happen.  While the Baby 1.0 isn’t doing much of anything besides improving his/her sonic screech of a howl that is emitted right as your head hits the pillow, you are still showing him/her off to everyone.  While you see this amazing new addition to your life, your friends just see a bald, slobbering, completely dependent life form and it scares the hell out of them.  You see the greatest thing that has ever happened to you.

Baby 2.0:  Four to Eight Months

This second version of the baby has a hell of a lot more features.  Besides the pooping, peeing, vomiting that comes standard with the all models, the Baby 2.0 can communicate through coos and jibber jabber.  They can crawl, stand and even chew on its own feet.  With the addition of more independence and mobility the Baby 2.0 begins the trend that all babies have from this point on….an uncanny ability to find new and exciting ways to almost kill themselves.  From eating change, hair and various floor debris there will never be a moment of rest while the baby is awake….enjoy!

"Look, I was doing Yoga before it was cool...now change me."

“Look, I was doing Yoga before it was cool…now change me.”

Baby 3.0:  Eight months to a year.

This is when babies start walking, talking and building their own individual identities.  Sentience.  Like in any good science fiction movie, once sentience is gained, world domination is not too far off.  Like Terminator in a diaper the Baby 3.0 will begin to enslave your entire life.  Fun!

"DAH THIS MACH-INE IS MORE UNSTOPPABLE THAN ME AHHHH"

“DAH THIS MACH-INE IS MORE UNSTOPPABLE THAN ME AHHHH”

Baby 4.0:  The first two years….

Total domination has been achieved.   Apple products are everywhere we look now, from the I-Phone to the I-pad to the I-Toaster and I-Toilet….the Apple product has just become an omni-present factor in our daily lives.  But…..even that took awhile.  Total baby domination is much, much faster.  At first you don’t really see it coming.  The baby shower gave you a lot of gifts but at least all of those can be contained in the baby’s room….but rapidly the baby’s possessions begin to outnumber yours.  By the time the baby has reached the Baby 4.0 phase, there is no place in your house that has not been conquered by the baby.  Like a tiny explorer planting his/her flag in a newly discovered land the baby’s presence can be felt EVERYWHERE.  Want to chill out in the living room and watch some T.V.?  You might just sit on a Elmo who has taken over the couch.  Do you want to take a shower….watch out!  Ariel and like 40 of her aquatic friends are occupying your bathtub floor and that bastard Sebastian is just waiting for you to slip on him and break your coccyx.  (That’s your tail bone…get your head out of the gutter.)

Before you know it your house looks like this....but messier....a lot messier.

Before you know it your house looks like this….but messier….a lot messier.

 

Baby and Beyond:

While an I-phone is nice and the galaxy tablet is sort of cool, nothing beats knowing you have a little person who loves you unconditionally.  Yeah, I guess one day the I-phone will have a Siri program that will awkwardly tell you it loves you in that dead robot voice, your child will actually mean it.  At the end of the day that makes stepping on a deadly Lego in the middle of the night while heading to the bathroom worthwhile…..sort of.

Gummy legos....the only non deadly Lego known to mankind.

Gummy legos….the only non deadly Lego known to mankind.

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy.

Coming to a theater near you!

Coming to a theater near you!

 

When Guardians of the Galaxy was first announced as a potential movie, I was both incredibly excited and more than a little worried.  I was excited because I loved all the incarnations of the team, from the futuristic team of the 70s and 90s to the rag tag cosmic head busters of today.  This was going to take the current version of the team and turn it into a big screen cosmic adventure, what a great idea.  Of course, Hollywood could totally screw it up and the movie could end up looking like a Joel Schumacher “epic” production.  Marvel took a huge risk making this.  In 2010, when the movie was first announced, very few movie goers had any idea who the characters were.  At the time, there wasn’t even a Guardians comic book on the shelves.  With some stellar marketing and cross pollination between film studio and comic book publisher, Marvel managed to pump up a major amount of interest.

In my opinion, the gamble paid off big time.  Guardians of the Galaxy immediately draws you into its world and makes you care about its inhabitants.  We are on Earth for no more than five minuets.  Young Peter Quill is apparently abducted by aliens and bam…..26 years later we are on another planet following this very devil-may-care, Han Solo meets Randall from Clerks type character (Played by Chris Pratt) on a mission to steal something he knows nothing about.  Right away we are given a sample of how fun this adventure will be when Peter Quill (Also known as Star-Lord….well, he’s the only one that calls him that.) uses alien creatures as microphones in a weird karaoke session as he traverses the hazards of an alien cavern.  We learn that Peter is working for Yondu (Played excellently by Michael Rooker), the leader of a team of intergalactic pirates known as Ravagers.

Peter’s stolen goods bring him nothing but negative attention.  The films main villain, Ronan (Played perfectly by Pushing Daisies Pie Maker, Lee Pace) is introduced as a sort of religious zellot from the Kree alien race.  Ronan works with Thanos (Played by Josh Brolin….Goonies!), the mysterious alien seen at the end of the Avengers movie.  Under Thanos’ orders, Ronan sends Gamora (Played by Zoe Saldana), the assassin step daughter of Thanos to kill Peter and retrieve the object he stole.  Rocket (An genetic experiment who resembles an Earth Raccoon; voiced by Bradley Cooper) and his awesome ally Groot (A living tree creature; voiced by Vin Diesel) are bounty hunters seeking to turn Peter Quill in for the reward on his head.

 

 

Through a very fun and entertaining battle, the four end up being arrested by the Nova Corps, cosmic cops headed up by Coprsman Rey (John C. Reilly) and Nova Prime (Glenn Close) and are sent to a maximum security prison.  Here they meet the alien living weapon known as Drax whom seeks to kill Ronan.  Soon all five characters realize that they have a common enemy….Ronan and they work together to break out of prison.  That’s where the movie moves into a really fun team dynamic that sends us ricocheting across the Galaxy.  The movie culminates in a very rewarding final battle.  This is a battle our heroes just have no business getting involved in, but that’s what makes them heroes, and that’s what makes this movie all the more entertaining.

Hi.  I'm Josh Brolin.

Hi. I’m Josh Brolin.

The story overall is pretty strong.  There is a good plot that organically brings the characters together, rather than seeming forced like the Avengers.  There are many great performances by some of the best actors in the business.  Benicio Del Toro has a cool guest spot, reprising his role as the Collector, last seen in Thor: The Dark World.  In just a few moments, Benicio is able to exude a creepy sort of charm.  We don’t know if this character is good or bad, but he is certainly entertaining. While we don’t see a lot of her, Dr. Who’s Karen Gillian plays Nebula, another of Thanos’ stepdaughters.  In the brief moments  she is on screen, Gillian manages to give Nebula a very interesting, if not somewhat nihilistic mystique.   Chris Pratt certainly proves himself to be a fun and entertaining action/adventure actor as Peter Quill/Star-Lord.  Pratt provides so many hilarious moments simply by his facial expressions.  WWE wrestler Dave Bautista gives an enjoyable performance as Drax, an incredibly literal man (well, an alien man) who is haunted by the loss of his family at the hands of Ronan.  Many of the most entertaining Drax moments come from the culture clash between him and his other teammates.  Rocket comments that figures of speech go over Drax’s head and Drax replies:  “Nothing goes over my head…..my reflexes are too quick!”  Bradley Cooper steals a large chunk of the movie as Rocket Raccoon, his wise ass attitude is the perfect shield for the character’s tragic origins.  While Groot is incredibly fun and proves to be the team’s biggest asset, I still think anyone could have provided his voice.  All he says is “I am Groot!”  I like Vin Diesel, but couldn’t anyone have said that?

scottieyoung groot

I wasn’t pleased with Zoe Saldana’s role as Gamora.  She wasn’t necessarily bad, but she wasn’t all that engaging either.  I think someone who is used to playing edgier characters like Rosario Dawson could have brought more depth to the character.  Saldana just seems a little flat.  Michael Rooker nails the role of Yondu, bringing the character to a whole new level.  This isn’t the noble warrior from the original comic book, Rooker transforms him into an alien redneck with a bad attitude, which serves as a fun distraction for an otherwise overly serious genre.  While many old school comic book fans may not like this incarnation of Yondu, it doesn’t cancel out the original character.  The film Yondu is in the 21st century, he could very well just be an ancestor of the warrior comic nerds like me are familiar with.

Yondu is kind of like a blue Merle from The Walking dead.....

Yondu is kind of like a blue Merle from The Walking dead…..

Director James Gunn masterfully blends a wide array of characters, settings and plot pieces that would be difficult for many directors and creates a comic book movie that not only succeeds in being a great adaptation, it’s fun.  Incredibly fun.  With characters you’ve never heard of and far out cosmic plots, Gunn and crew have crafted a film that is superior than the Avengers in many ways.  9/10 (It would have been 10/10 if Saldana had given Gamora just a little more depth and edge.  She’s just not that kind of actress.)

Guardians of the Galaxy: A Nerd’s guide for the uninitiated.

Note:  For a cut-out scorecard for the Uninitiated scroll down to the bottom.  Otherwise, read on!

Comic book movies make money, in most cases they make a lot of money.  We’re talking money of Uncle Scrooge McDuck proportions.  If you had the kind of money a comic book movie generates, you could swim around in a money bin full of gold coins.  You’d probably get pink eye though.  Who knows where that money has been?  Gross.

"I'm going to infect all of Duckburg with Pink eye!"

“I’m going to infect all of Duckburg with Pink eye!”

Now that Hollywood has been making so much money off of the comic book films, it makes sense that EVERY DAMN CHARACTER WILL GET THEIR OWN MOVIE!  Well, maybe not every character, but some titles and characters that are obscure to the average movie goer are going to find a home at the Box Office nearest you.  As far as movie rights, the Marvel characters are tied up in weird and somewhat unprecedented legal red tape that creates rather interesting situations. (Well interesting for I, the Nerd of Mass Distraction) You see, the film rights for the Marvel Characters aren’t all held by Marvel Studios (A branch of Disney, with some initial co-operation by Paramount Studios).  The rights to various Superheroes and their related characters are held by different studios.

20th Century Fox has the rights for:  All X-Men related characters (X-men, X-Force, X-Factor, X-Babies), The Silver Surfer, All Fantastic Four related Characters and Scarlet Witch and Quick Silver (They’re X-Men related, but remember their names because that’s where things get weird….)

Sony Pictures has the rights for:  Spider-Man and all Spider-Man related characters (Sinister Six, Morbius the living Vampire, Venom and Spider-Ham…oh, he’s real.)

Marvel Studios holds the rights to:  Well, everything else.  Any character not held by Fox or Sony is fair game for Marvel Studios.  Here comes the weird part….Since Marvel Studios holds the rights to the Avengers and Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver were in the Avengers in early issues of the comics, both Fox and Marvel hold the rights.  So that’s why we saw Quicksilver in X-Men Days of Future Past (Fox) and SPOILER>>>>>>>>>> That is why Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch were in the post credit scene of Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Marvel Studios).

While confusing, all of this film rights mess is actually a good thing.  If Marvel Studios had the rights to all of the big franchises like Spider-Man, X-Men and Fantastic Four, they would never make films about the more obscure characters like Ant-Man, Doctor Strange and the Guardians of the Galaxy.

For that, I am thankful for all the legal red tape because I have loved the Guardians of the Galaxy since I was a kid.  Although, that’s where things become a little confusing.  The Guardians that I used to read in the 90′s are very different from the Guardians of today.  In fact, there are actually three majorly different incarnations of the Guardians of the Galaxy.

The Future Guardians  

The Original team of Guardians of the Galaxy actually began way back in 1969 in Marvel Super-Heroes issue 18.  The book was essentially Marvel’s version of DC’s Legion of Super Heroes, the stories were set 1,000 years in the future.  The original stories featured:

Clockwise from the top: Major Victory (A time displaced human from the 20th century), Charlie-27 (A genetically engineered worker from Jupiter), Martinex (A crystal skinned warrior from Pluto), and Yondu (A blue skinned warrior from Alpha-centauri who is connected to nature....sounds like Avatar....hmmmm.), Nikki (A woman from Mercury with fire hair). and Star Hawk (The incarnation of a Hawk like cosmic deity)

Clockwise from the top: Major Victory (A time displaced human from the 20th century), Charlie-27 (A genetically engineered worker from Jupiter), Martinex (A crystal skinned warrior from Pluto), and Yondu (A blue skinned warrior from Alpha-centauri who is connected to nature….sounds like Avatar….hmmmm.), Nikki (A woman from Mercury with fire hair). and Star Hawk (The incarnation of a Hawk like cosmic deity)

The original team popped in and out of specials one shot books and sort of faded into obscurity.  They did not get their own book  until 1990 when Writer/Artist Jim Valentino launched the first issue of Guardians of the Galaxy just 21 years after their debut.

My brother's trashed my original copy in the 90s...I bought a new one for $1 at Nostalgic Books and Comics in San Gabriel, CA....Thanks, Pete!

My brother’s trashed my original copy in the 90′s…I bought a new one at Nostalgic Books and Comics in San Gabriel, CA….Thanks, Pete!

I loved the 90′s book because it really embraced the roots of Marvel History.  Jim Valentino and crew seemed to have a lot of fun with the idea of these characters living in the future of the Marvel universe.  Major Victory used Captain America’s shield.  There was an alien version of Dr. Strange. Wolverine had feral, warrior descendant named Rancor who searched for his adamantium skeleton.  The Vision had evolved from an android to become Mainframe, a planet sized Artificial Intelligence.  Wonderman (Simon Williams) had become an immortal hero known as Hollywood and went on to form a spin-off team, the Galactic Guardians.  A cult of Punisher obsessed maniacs roam New York killing everyone in their path.  Perhaps one of the coolest homages in the 90′s book were the Stark, an alien race who worshiped Iron Man and Tony Stark.    The book went on for 62 issues and the characters pretty much vanished.

The Annihilation Wave Guardians       

In 2007 Marvel launched a sequel to their popular science fiction epic, Annihilation called Annihilation: Conquest.  The book created by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning gave us the new incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy.  This team was a ragtag group of cosmic heroes all brought together to defeat the threat of the Phalanx, an alien race of robot like beings whom assimilate organic life into cyber beings.  (Pretty much a rip off of the Borg from Star Trek: The Next Generation).  Unlike the original team, the adventures of this group were based in the contemporary Marvel Universe.  After defeating the Phalanx, Star Lord gathered the team together to create a force that stops threats before they even have a chance to start.  The book debuted in 2008.  This new team featured:

Clockwise from top: Adam Warlock, Quasar, Rocket Raccoon, Drax, Star-Lord, and Gamora.

Clockwise from top: Adam Warlock (originally Adam was a very Christ like cosmic protector…his creator Roy Thomas was inspired by the musical Jesus Christ: Superstar), Quasar (The female wielder of the cosmic powered Nega-bands), Rocket Raccoon (A gun toting alien who resembles an Earth Raccoon….his creator Bill Mantlo was inspired by the Beatles song, Rocky Raccoon.), Drax (A once human man who was ressurected by aliens to become an unstoppable killing machine against the evil Thanos), Star-Lord (The half human son of an alien prince), and Gamora (The assassin step daughter of Thanos). Groot, the living tree like alien who can only say his own name is not pictured.

The stories were very fun, cosmic tales about a team of losers who shouldn’t even be working together.  The team dynamic was fun and structured very well.  Rocket Raccoon was the wisecracking wacky guy, Groot was the strong silent type (And sort of served as Rocket’s closest friend, he kept him in a flower pot for a portion of the story) Drax and Gamora were the distant warriors who were trying to reconnect with their all but lost compassionate sides, Adam Warlock was the world (Universe) weary traveler who was sort of crotchety and upset that not everyone knew as much as he did, Quasar was the fresh hero who was trying to live up to the legacy of her slain predecessor and Star Lord was the reluctant leader trying to bring all of these unstable forces together for the greater good.   The stories had a military vibe to them and read like a cosmic version of Kelly’s Heroes.

 

Well....without Don Rickles  as a talking Raccoon...

Well….without Don Rickles as a talking Raccoon…

 

The book went on for 25 issues and actually inspired Marvel Studios to get the production rolling for a film version.  As the film was being produced, Marvel had a problem…there was not a Guardians of the Galaxy comic on the shelves to amp up publicity for the movie.  So, Brian Michael Bendis and Steve Mcniven launched a third volume.

Marvel Now! Guardians         

As part of the Marvel Now! relaunch of books (Marvel took almost all their comics, canceled the current runs and re-launched every issue as a new #1 ) the newest incarnation of the Guardians pretty much featured the movie line up of Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon, Drax, Gamora, and Groot.  While the new book is still a pretty good and enjoyable read, it is pretty much just a tie in for the movie, existing to build early interest in the movie.

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And now a quick scorecard for the uninitiated (Print this, cut it out and bring it to the movie):  

AHHH! There's so much information! MY HEAD IS GOING TO EXPLODE!!!!

AHHH! There’s so much information! MY HEAD IS GOING TO EXPLODE!!!!

 

The Good Guys:

Star Lord/Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldona), Rocket Raccoon (Voice of Bradley Cooper), Groot (Voice of Vin Diesel), Drax (Dave Bautista)

The Bad Guys:

Ronan The Accuser (Lee Pace):  The deadly, near indestructible enforcer for the Kree Alien race.

ronanblend

 

Thanos (Josh Brolin):  An alien being from Titan whom is obsessed with death and seeks to destroy half the universe…you may recognize him from the end of the Avengers movie where he flashes a terrifying smile of evil.

thanosblend

 

Yondu (Michael Rooker):  One of the original Guardians of the Galaxy in the comic books, this version of Yondu is more of a greedy, manipulative bounty hunter.  He is more of an Anti-hero and may actually be on the side of good in the end.

The last guy who made a smurf joke got kicked in the face....

The last guy who made a smurf joke got kicked in the face….

Nebula (Karen Gillian):  The cosmic powered step-daugher of Thanos.

nebulablend

 

The others:  

Nova Corp:  A military organization that polices the galaxy, using Nova officers such as Corpsman Dey (John C. Reilly) and Nova Prime (Glenn Close).  In the comics, Corpsman Dey comes to Earth and trains Richard Ryder, a young man who eventually becomes Earth’s Nova. Richard Ryder is rumored to play a role in the movie, at least in a cameo.    Look for the Nova Corp to play a big part in this and future movies.

Quasar:  The female version of Quasar was a member of the 2nd incarnation of the comic book guardians and there is a rumor that her predecessor, Shield Agent Wendel Vaughn will play a role in the Marvel Movies.  Perhaps he will have a cameo here….

The Collector (Benicio Del Toro):  A strange alien who is collecting powerful cosmic artifacts.  He was featured at the end of the Thor: The Dark World film.  In that movie, the Collector comments on gathering “Infinity stones”.  In the comics, Thanos gathers infinity gems and uses them to power the infinity gauntlet which he uses to wipe out half the universe.

The Kree:  A race of technologically advanced warrior aliens, the Kree have a strange hierarchy led by the Supreme Intelligence, a giant green alien head floating in a massive tank.  The super hero Captain Mar-Vel was a former Kree warrior turned protector of Earth.  He would later empower Carol Danvers who would become Ms. Marvel.

The Knowhere:  A strange massive headquarters for the Guardians of the Galaxy that is in the nexus of multiple realities.  The headquarters is more than a space station it is actually the giant head of a dead cosmic being called a Celestial.  It is rumored that the Knowhere will be featured in the film.

"I'm going to need a lot of Visine to flush that space ship out of my eye...."

“I’m going to need a lot of Visine to flush that space ship out of my eye….”

Not only did I get my head chopped off but now people are livin' in it?  What a revoltin' development.

Not only did I get my head chopped off but now people are livin’ in it? What a revoltin’ development.

Howard the Duck:  There is a rumor going around that the humanoid Duck from another universe is going to have a cameo.  While the Howard the Duck movie is universally hated….I really liked it when it came out.  I was just a kid though when I last saw it.  I opened with Scrooge and I am closing with Howard….

This is from the climactic Rocket vs. Howard shoot out scene.....or maybe not...

This is from the climactic Rocket vs. Howard shoot out scene…..or maybe not…

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As you can see, the Guardians have a really rich history and this movie could draw on that and either be really great….or it could forsake its comic book roots and just be terrible.  From everything we’ve seen, it looks to be a fun homage to the comics.  I’ll give a review when I watch the film tomorrow.  Let me know what you think.

Pop back in for more nerdy fun.

 

 

 

 

Waiting on the front porch

 In Northern California, back when I was a kid, there was a major upsurge in child abductions.  Kids would be walking home from school and just never make it home. I remember vividly watching the news and seeing the pain in the eyes of tortured parents who have been waiting for their kids to come home.  I just imagined these poor parents sitting on their front porch, or their stoop and their just looking out toward the horizon, praying that their children will be walking down the driveway, laughing and brimming with life.
Today, my heart aches for those parents even stronger then before.  A week ago, my wife Mercedes and I were expecting a new life.  A new addition to our wonderful, crazy, wonderfully crazy family.  Excitedly, I told a lot of our friends and family, beating Mercy to the punch in some instances.  We were both very happy, but something felt off.  There was just this overall sense that something was missing, like there was a piece of the puzzle just out of reach.   When you have a feeling like that, you just tell yourself that you’re exaggerating or being a worry wort and you stuff it into the back of your mind and forget all about it.  That feeling was still there, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to think about it, let alone really talk about it.
We talked about names, gender, rearranging the house, rearranging our lives and the fact that we could be insane for wanting another child….you know, all of the usual stuff associated with having babies.  I started a blog post called “Baby:  The sequel”.  Here’s what I had so far:

If having a baby was a movie, it would most certainly have to be a Michael Bay movie.  Yeah, I know, we all want to think having a baby is really sweet and nostalgic like a John Hughes film.  Two incredibly witty, incredibly photogenic people (That’s Mercy and I in a nutshell) meet up.  There’s friction at first, they eventually fall in love and have a baby and there’s wacky hijinks with kooky parents and goofy doctors and maybe some kind of rush to the hospital with Martin Short as a Russian cab driver….that’s what we all want anyway.  What we get is explosions, crazy off the wall characters and a bunch of stuff that just doesn’t make any sense at all.  Ok, the explosions are usually emotional (until the baby arrives, then they are scatological.) My wife and I went through our first action movie….”Baby:  The reckoning”.  It was a wild ride with German doctors (Think Hans Gruber, but really nice and really old.), ticking time bombs (Never deprive a pregnant woman of her breakfast burrito.), and gnarly scars (Have you ever seen a C-section? Rambo couldn’t even handle that…not even Rambo.)  Now we are about to have the sequel…”Baby 2:  Probably another girl…sorry dad.”  Why would anyone put themselves through the craziness again?  Well, we love each other very much, we love our children and we are clinically insane.  We must be right?  And the girl thing isn’t a joke, I want a boy….yet I know this is going to be a girl.  Which  means I am going to have to pay for a lot of weddings in the future.  Does anyone have four more job openings for me, I’ll need some more cash flow.

I didn’t expand on it and I didn’t post it.  I wanted to, yet that nagging feeling kept bothering me.  I decided to wait until we had the first ultrasound.  I was going to post the ultrasound picture, just like I had done with Luna.   A few days passed after we first learned we were expecting and my wife and I kept talking about names.  If it was a boy we would go with Delbert, my late Grandfather’s name, or Bowie (after David Bowie) or Ryan (I was against that one, that was all Mercy’s idea)….or this or that….the boy name was always up in the air.  Mercy knew we were going to have a girl and as much as I joked and protested that we had too much estrogen in the household already, so did I.  This baby was going to be a girl, we both knew it.  Mercy didn’t have too many candidates for a girl’s name.  She loved the name Cielo.  We both did.  It was so natural.  We have a Luna and we would have a baby Cielo.  The Moon and Heaven.

Unfortunatly, the ultrasound we were waiting for never came.  On Monday, 7/21/14 Mercy lost the baby.  I struggle to find words to describe either of our emotions right now.  Sad would be an understatement. Mercy is naturally saddened and shaken, but not devastated.  She is the strongest woman I have ever known in my life.   I wish I had her strength.  All I can do is hug her.  When the time is right and I see that glint in her eye, I will try to make her smile, maybe even laugh.  For now, hugs are good and tears are natural.
We have God in our lives and in our hearts and we both know that this little life that has slipped from our grasp is not lost.  She is with God.  Our Cielo is in Heaven where she belongs.  And while it is a different type of loss, I still feel and relate to those ever waiting parents.  In this case, know Cielo is in Heaven waiting with God for Mommy and Daddy to come home.

“What was she thinking?” An anthropological guide to teenage girls.

"So I walks into a bar and I orders ten beers and I says...put it on my bill!  Get it!  Why don't anyone laugh at me jokes?  I'm a freak!  A freak!!"

“So I walks into a bar and I orders ten beers and I says…put it on my bill! Get it! Why don’t anyone laugh at me jokes? I’m a freak! A freak!!”

What is the function of the mighty Platypus?  If we were to be part of some kind of cosmically aware sentient Google Earth and we zoomed out and looked down on creation, could we see what part the odd Platypus plays in the theatrical production that is life?  No, probably not.  The same could be said about the twice as mysterious Teenage girl.  What are they thinking?  What do they want?  When will they stop talking?  WHEN?  WHEN?  WHEN?!!!!  The joy of parenthood.

My wife, Mercy and I began raising my sister Michelea when she was just 10 years old…It seemed so much easier then.  Once she was acclimated to a lifestyle that didn’t include the continuous consumption of pixie sticks she stopped fidgeting enough to fall in love with reading and playing outside and just being a kid.  She would just run around fighting imaginary zombies until it was time for dinner….then we would read the Witches.  While only six years ago, those days of imaginary ghouls and Roald Dahl seem so long ago.  Fictitious zombies faded away to make room for real life ghouls like the disgusting Black Veil Brides.

"What do you mean we ripped off Kiss?  We meant to rip off Motley Crue!"

“What do you mean we ripped off Kiss? We meant to rip off Motley Crue!”

Seriously, have you seen these jokers?  It is as if they worshiped at the altar of Aqua net and Motley Crue.  If you thought Motley Crue was a lousy band, you haven’t heard anything until you’ve listened to this collection of groaning imbeciles.  Michelea:  “Oh can I please see the Black Veil brides….please?  It would be so Amazing!”  Me: “I’d rather have a tarantula bite my left eye while a howler monkey beats me in the head with a ratchet.”

I'd rather have this happen than listen to Black Veil Brides.

I’d rather have this happen than listen to Black Veil Brides.

Whimsical and creative fiction from the minds of Maurice Sendak, Mark Twain and Shel Silverstein  became cookie cutter drivel like Twilight and the Hunger Games.  I will concede that the Hunger Games is actually written well but the concept is just like any ordinary summer blockbuster.  You all know Twilight and if you’re not a girl ages 12-16 you know that it is just plain silly and sometimes downright insulting to the female gender.  “I don’t care if he’s an unholy creature of the night and he wants to suck my blood and he’s kind of a diva and a jerk….I love him!”  Now if that doesn’t sound like someone struggling with battered wife/girlfriend syndrome, I don’t know what does.  “Hey girls, it’s okay to like a guy who treats you like crap as long as he has magical powers! WHEEEEEEEEE!” Luckily Michelea is over that trend.  Okay actually when her grades were slumping I threw every last one of her vampire books away.  I would like to think that somewhere there was a garbage man that was about to throw the books in the trash compactor when his fellow burly garbage man stopped him and said:  “Are you insane Carl?  That’s Marked, the first volume in the House of Night series!  I love to read about the struggles of young Zoey Redbird and the world of vampires!”

"No Zoey Redbird!  Don't fall for the dashing young vampire, he'll just break your immortal heart!"

“No Zoey Redbird! Don’t fall for the dashing young vampire, he’ll just break your immortal heart!”

 

Of course these are all just phases in the mad world of teenage-girldom.  One phase that seems to last FOREVER is that all teenage girls know better than you.  According to a council of teenage girls, the teenage girl brain is like that of Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer all rolled into one.  This of course is a biased conclusion.  One such memorable teenage brain moment came when Michelea was insistent on telling me that the Getty Villa was in Miami.  Miami, California.  I corrected her as nicely and as diplomatically as I could.  “Don’t be a moron, Miami is not in California!”  To this she replied:  “You don’t understand!  It’s in Miami, California.”  So I showed her a map and she was quiet for about two hours.  That was the plus side.  However, teenage girls don’t stay quiet for long and they tend to share their opinions with everyone in ear shot, as Mercy can tell you.

Mercy and Michelea were arguing over a word in a book….ugh, I believe it was in Twilight.  Michelea swore up and down that there was a word pronounced “Chow-es”.  Since my wife has lived longer than a teenager and you know, can read and stuff she disagreed.  To which Michelea responded:  “You just don’t understand!  This is a word you probably know nothing about!  It’s Chow-es, It’s Chow-es!”  Teens see themselves as world weary pioneers and think that they have discovered everything for the first time and we as adults are just some kind of dim witted country bumpkins.  So, the common battle cry for the ego wounded teen girl is “You don’t understand!”  Of course in this instance I was the official, reluctant and scared referee.  The word was Chaos.  Chow-es is not a word, sorry to disappoint you.  And yes Michelea, we do understand Chaos, it’s called having a teenager.

Pictured:  The Chow-es of having a teenage girl in the house.

Pictured: The Chow-es of having a teenage girl in the house.

 

 

“Dad, what’s a blog? Does it live the swamp?” Lunaisms.

For the past few days I have been really listening to my children.  Yes, I know this comes as a shock to many.  Don’t worry, I’m not listening to them because I suddenly am trying to be a competent member of the family.  I’m listening to them because they are just so funny and people like to read funny things.

Today, let’s look at the many funny, baffling, and ludicrous things my three year old, Luna  will say. I call them Luna-isms.  It’s amazing when you think about it because she really does have an opinion on all facets of life, even if she doesn’t actually understand 88 % of the world around her.

 

Our miniature philosopher displaying her serene calmness.

Our miniature philosopher displaying her serene calmness.

LOCAL POLITICS:

Me:  “Do you know who the mayor of Los Angeles is?”

Luna:  “Grandpa.”

Me:  “Really?  Grandpa is the Mayor of Los Angeles?”

Garcetti, Not Grandpa

Garcetti, Not Grandpa

Luna:  “He told me not to walk in the living room with cookies.”

Me:  “What does a mayor do?”

Luna:  “He’s a boss.  Bossers like to take naps.  I can’t eat cookies in your bed anymore because I leave crumbs.”

NATIONAL POLITICS:

Me:  “Who is the President of the United States?”

Luna:  “The President is Obama.  He lives in the statue of Americas.”

Current resident of the Statue of America...according to my 3 year old.

Current resident of the Statue of America…according to my 3 year old.

Me: “What does he do?”

Luna:  “I need more money.”

Me:  “Yeah, so do I.”

ENTERTAINMENT:

Me:  “What is your favorite movie?”

Luna:  “Cinderella Blue.  She is Cinderella and she wears a blue dress and she has glass shoes.

After all that fast food, she might not fit into those glass slippers either.

After all that fast food, she might not fit into those glass slippers either.

Me:  “She wears glass shoes? Won’t they break?”

Luna:  “Girls won’t break glass shoes.  You can’t wear glass shoes because you are a big man.  And you have a beard.  Beard people can’t wear glass shoes.”

Me:  “What is your favorite show on television.”

Luna:  “I like to Eye Spy and Timothy goes to school.  You say Timothy goes to jail….I don’t like that!  Policers are going to take YOU to jail.  It’s a bad choice and get out of this family.”

Me:  “Okay, I will leave.”

Luna:  “No!  I love you.  I was just making a joke.”

FINE CUISINE:

Me:  “What is your favorite food.”

Luna:  “I like Pancakes with cherry eyeballs and sausage mouths and you eat them fast.”

Me:  “That sounds really good.”

Luna:  “It’s not for you.  Only girls.  Boys eat rocks.”

RELIGION:

Me:  “What do we do at Church?”

Luna:  “We sing Blessed be the name and then all the children stand up and pray and then they go to Sunday school and we talk about Jesus.”

Me:  “What did Jesus do?”

Luna:  “Jesus made good choices and wanted everybody to be good and some bad people made bad choices and they made Jesus pass away.  Then Jesus was in a cave and he pushed a rock and came out for Easter.  Children hunt Easter eggs and eat chocolates.  I like Chocolates.  Daddy do we have candy?”

Pictured:  Luna's dream Easter.

Pictured: Luna’s dream Easter.

Next time:  Michelea-isms, true tales of the weird things a teenager says.