Archive for Marvel Comics

Year End Book Report: The Best Books I Read in 2016

Posted in Batman, books, comic books, movies, pop culture, Star Wars with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 12, 2017 by Paxton

Year End Badass Book Report

Here I go, writing another one of these year end round up articles that I’m shocked to be writing every year. 2017. CRAZY. What a ride 2016 was. Hopefully 2017 will give us a bit of a break.

This past year was an interesting year for my book/comics list.  After so many years of logging my books and comics reading via Google Spreadsheet, I actually converted my logs over to an online data tool called Airtable. It’s similar to Access in that it is a relational database but the user entry interface is very simple to create and similar to Excel. Plus being able to link specific information between tables really helps in cross referencing and spelling.  You have no idea how many times I misspelled author names throughout my logs.

Here’s what my book log looks like now on Airtable.  I’ve converted all my logs back to when I first started in 2007.

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The blue colored fields in the screenshot are actually linked to another table.  I was able to also create the Rating field on the right with different color coded ratings to make it easy at a glance to see what is going to make my year end list and what isn’t.  Plus, Airtable makes all of this data entry even easier with a nice app for my iPhone or iPad that makes it easy to log entries on the go.  Google Sheets had one as well but Airtable’s works better.

So that’s all the behind the scenes stuff.  I had a better year for novels.  I was able to pick 5 this year.  Again, comics were booming and I had a tough time paring down to 5.  But I did it.

So, without further ado, here’s the list!

Books


The Old Man and the Sea (1952) – Ernest Hemingway – I don’t read classics as often as I used to.  I really need to remedy that.  There are two reasons why I read this.  #1, it was featured in the movie The Equalizer starring Denzel Washington as a book he’s reading. #2, Steph checked it out from the library with a bunch of other books and I, on a whim, picked it up to read.  It’s actually really good.  I quite enjoyed it.  I’m probably not going to pick up any other Hemingway, but I’ll definitely try to read more classic lit this coming year.  I’ve been wanting to re-read Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, so maybe I can get that done.


Steve Jobs (2011) – Walter Isaacson – I’ve now read two of Isaacson’s famous biographies and let me say that I’m hooked. Back in 2014 I read his biography of Benjamin Franklin and it nearly made my year end best of list.  This one about Apple founder Steve Jobs actually cracks the list. It’s not only a great portrait of a complicated man, but it’s also a great look at the beginnings of our technological age we live in now.  I would love for Isaacson to tackle Bill Gates in a full book, but I’m not sure that’ll happen.  Isaacson did write a book called The Innovators that really digs into the people who created the computer and the Internet; going as far back as Alan Turing and jumping forward to people like Larry Page and Bill Gates.  That will probably be next on my Isaacson reading list and the closest I’ll get to a full Gates biography by him.


Star Wars: Catalyst – A Rogue One Novel (2016) – James Luceno – The “New Canon” of Star Wars books since Disney has taken over has been very…hit or miss.  Since those books started in Fall 2014, only one has made my year end list.  And honestly, I think that one novel (Star Wars: Tarkin), also written by James Luceno, would work perfectly as a side-quel to this book.  This is the written prequel to the movie Rogue One and it’s pretty great.  It digs deep into the relationship between Galen Erso and Director Krennic.  It also explores a bit more the rivalry between Krennic and Tarkin all while adding in backstory to how the Death Star was built and how it works and what they use to power the planet killing laser.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.


Magic Kingdom for Sale–Sold! (Landover series Book 1) (1986) – Terry Brooks – I talked about this book earlier in my High Fantasy Month article back in March.  It’s a different setup for a fantasy series and I really enjoyed it.  I had bought the collection of the first three books in the series, but I’ve not delved into the second book yet.  However, it’s on the plan for this year.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Marvel’s The Living Mummy

Posted in comic books, monsters, mummy, nostalgia, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2016 by Paxton

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Marvel has had a long history with monsters.  I’ve covered several monster titles from Marvel for previous AWESOME-tober-fests like Tomb of Dracula, Frankenstein and Werewolf by Night.  Well, not surprisingly, Marvel also had a mummy character.  He was called The Living Mummy and he debuted in the horror anthology series Supernatural Thrillers, issue #5, August 1973.

Supernatural Thrillers #5

You may remember the comic Supernatural Thrillers as I reviewed issue #2 last year which contained an adaptation of HG Wells’ The Invisible Man.

The first four issues of Supernatural Thrillers were mostly adaptations of existing work; Stephenson’s Jeckyll & Hyde, Robert Howard’s Valley of the Worm, Sturgeon’s It! and the aforementioned The Invisible Man.  With issue #5, editor Roy Thomas had Steve Gerber create a new original character to be run as a feature.  While issue #6 would contain a somewhat sequel to Irving’s Sleepy Hollow, issues #7-15 would solely feature the character The Living Mummy.

Living Mummy

The Living Mummy started out as N’Kantu, son of the Chief of the Swarili Tribe in ancient Cairo.  He is 21 and is preparing to become a tribal warrior by taking the Test of the Lion.  While away on a hunt, N’Kantu returns to his tribe to discover that the Pharoah Aram-Set has conquered his tribe and enslaved them to work building monuments. N’Kantu helps plot a rebellion, but his planning is discovered and he is sprayed with a paralyzing liquid that renders him immobile. Then his blood is replaced by a special alchemical embalming fluid, he is wrapped in bandages and put in a coffin to lay, immobile, for the next thousand years.

Living Mummy origin

After about a thousand years, the paralyzing liquid wears off and N’Kantu escapes from his coffin, however, he is completely insane due to being trapped immobile in the dark for a millennia. So he goes on a rampage in “modern” Cairo.

He gets electrocuted which knocks him out, then is electrocuted AGAIN and is revived.  Goes on another rampage.  Meets an archaeologist who cures his insanity, but unfortunately N’Kantu is then sent to another dimension. And in this dimension, we get a few stories of The Living Mummy…wait for it…IN SPACE.

Mummy in space!

Yep, he’s trapped in space fighting aliens.  Doesn’t get much more awesome than that, ladies and gentlemen.

After the mummy shenanigans in Supernatural Thrillers, N’Kantu would break out and guest star in other titles like Spider-Man, Marvel Team-Up and Deadpool Team Up.  He made the jump to television in the animated series Ultimate Spider-Man, Super Hero Squad and Hulk and the Agents of SMASH and even joined The Legion of Monsters at one point.


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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

Countdown to Avengers 2: Captain America the Winter Soldier

Posted in comic books, movies with tags , , , , on April 22, 2015 by Paxton

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As we did back in 2012, the blogs at Nerd Lunch, To the Escape Hatch and Cavalcade of Awesome are doing a Countdown to Avengers as we lead up to the release of Age of Ultron. In this countdown we are reviewing all the Marvel content that we can from within Phase 2. This is one of those reviews.

Captain America: The First Avenger was the last solo film of Phase 1 before The Avengers. So, appropriately, the Captain America sequel is the last solo movie of Phase 2 that will lead directly into The Avengers sequel. Coming in, I loved the first Cap movie. I loved it’s time period, I loved the cast, I loved pretty much everything about it. And I had a lot of doubts about the movie before it began in that I thought Chris Evans was all wrong for the role and I didn’t initially like that the movie took place back during World War II (even thought that’s the perfect place to set the movie).

So, I wound up loving the first movie and then came this sequel.  And again, I was not sure until I started seeing images of Chris Evans in the “stealth suit”.  And then the first trailer hit.  And the cast came together.  Black Widow.  Falcon.  Modern day SHIELD.  ROBERT F**KING REDFORD is now in a Captain America movie.  It just ballooned into so much awesomeness that the actual movie couldn’t possibly live up to what I was seeing.

And on watching, the movie is every bit as awesome as I wanted it to be.  It’s amazing what the directors did with this sequel.  This movie is completely different in tone, color scheme, sensibilities and setting than it’s predecessor but it completely works.

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First off we see a more seasoned Captain America.  He’s been in our time for a few years and has trained extensively with SHIELD.  The opening mission, storming a hijacked freighter, shows you everything you need to know to understand that THIS Captain America is BAD ASS.  We’ve seen Captain America be pretty awesome in The Avengers, but this movie cranks that idea “up to 11” and hammers that home.  We also see that Cap is becoming a little concerned with the direction that SHIELD is taking in response to external threats.  There are several really good scenes with Cap and Nick Fury debating this very issue, is SHIELD protecting or promoting fear.  It’s a valid and very relevant discussion.

Speaking of Nick Fury, we finally get to see him do something.  The attack on Fury’s car is a wonderful little scene where we get to see Fury’s quick thinking and quick acting save himself from capture and possible death.  And how awesome was the AI in that car?  And the hidden dashboard cannon?  Great little scene.  Another little scene I liked when I saw the movie theatrically was Steve going back to visit an elderly Peggy Carter.  However, now that I’ve watched Peggy in the Agent Carter mini-series and re-watched the original Captain America movie, that scene becomes HEARTBREAKING.  There are several more levels of heartbreaking sadness and loss that permeate that scene.  Especially thanks to the excellent Agent Carter series.

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And I love the addition of Anthony Mackie as Falcon.  I originally thought Falcon was a sort of, “we don’t need him but we need to add a new character” addition.  But I was wrong.  Mackie crushes it and I now want him in more movies.  Plus, how great is a movie that implies a giant action scene that we never get to see?  Cap, Black Widow and Falcon have to break into a military installation to steal back the Stark wing technology, but we never see it!  That needs to be a movie.  NOW.

And I haven’t even talked about the return of Sebastian Stan as The Winter Soldier.  He’s a great foil for Captain America.  I really liked him as a villain, but he’s more of a henchman than a mastermind.  I do hope we see more of him.

Now that the movie is over, I’d love to see a Captain America and Falcon movie where they are chasing Bucky.  The end of this movie teases that, but it looks like the next Captain America movie is going to be Civil War, which I can only assume does not cover that.

The status quo that this movie leaves will make the next Avengers movie interesting because I’m not sure how many years later it is in the new movie.  SHIELD was destroyed and has to be rebuilt.  I assume the Avengers are sort of an autonomous entity without any governmental connection.  Will that be addressed or has enough time passed that that doesn’t really matter anymore?  I don’t know.

As it stands, I liked this movie so much that I think it’s my third favorite overall Marvel movie behind only the original Iron Man and the first Avengers movie.  We’ll see if this changes after Age of Ultron.

But I’m not the only one that has ideas about this movie…here’s CT with his thoughts:

Captain America: The Winter Soldier has been referred to by some as Avengers 1.5. I wonder just how integral it will be to Avengers: Age of Ultron. It is the Phase 2 film that will have changed the world the most since the first Avengers film. The fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. is huge and will have to at least be addressed since they will no longer play a role in bringing the team together. I look forward to seeing if Black Widow and Cap have any interactions in Avengers 2 since they worked so well together here. Black Widow now has strong ties with all the Avengers except maybe Thor.

Besides pieces set up for Avengers and the plot lines sets up for future Cap movies, the big set up for future movies is the mention of Stephen Strange. Sitwell references him as though Strange is already a known person, at least by Cap. Is he already Sorcerer Supreme or just a really, really famous surgeon? It will be interesting to see how that plays out in a couple years. 

Other Countdown to Avengers reviews:
CT’s review of Iron Man 3.
Robert’s review of Thor: The Dark World

Cavalcade Comics 05 – The A-Team Meet Chuck Norris

Posted in comic books with tags , , , on December 10, 2014 by Paxton

Cavalcade Comics: VCT

Greetings, everyone. I’ve been a bit absent the last month as I’m in heavy training for my marathon and amidst preparations for the holidays…or should I say, Holley-days?

Today’s post was originally planned for Ninja Day this year but I really dropped the ball on that one. But, I wanted to get it out there, so here is issue #5 in my ongoing Cavalcade Comics Vintage Comic Throwdowns series.

The A-Team Meet Chuck Norris.

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I think CT should get a kick out of this one.  How cool would it have been if Chuck had actually joined The A-Team?  Amazing to think about.

This cover was contructed mostly from two Marvel Comics issues.  Yes, Marvel had both an A-Team comic and a Chuck Norris comic.  Similar to the previous Godzilla vs The Shogun Warriors, why this particular crossover never happened before now is beyond me.

A-Team (1984) 01 - 00 - FC Chuck Norris 02 - 00 - FC

The A-Team come from the first issue of their comic (left) and Chuck comes from the second issue of his comic (right).  I also used logos and a few extra ninjas from other issues of each of these series.

For some reason Chuck Norris and the Karate Commandos was under the Star imprint, which was Marvel’s line of kids comics featuring things like Alf, Thunder Cats and Star Wars: Droids.  This was most likely because the Chuck comic was based on the cartoon of the same name.

Hope you guys are having a great holiday.  I do have some stuff planned for before the end of December, so stay tuned!

Cavalcade Comics #4 – Ghost Rider vs Ghost Rider Halloween showdown!

Posted in comic books, pop culture with tags , , , , , on September 24, 2014 by Paxton

Cavalcade Comics Vintage Comic Throwdown

Welcome to issue #4 of my Vintage Comic Throwdown series where I pit character vs character in a vintage comic book cover showdown.

This time, since we are only DAYS away from the start of AWESOME-tober-fest 2014, I thought I would do a somewhat Halloween-type throwdown featuring two “supernatural” characters. And I chose two incarnations of the Ghost Rider character. Check out my cover for Cavalcade Comics #4 – Ghost Rider vs Ghost Rider.

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Many people may not realize that Ghost Rider actually started out as a Golden Age gunfighter character that debuted in 1949’s Tim Holt Western Comics #11. The character was originally owned by Magazine Enterprises but was bought out by Marvel and revamped in the 70s into a motorcycle riding demon.  And now I have them battling each other on the city streets.

For those that like to know, this cover is primarily based on Marvel’s Ghost Rider #31 from 1978 (left) and I took the original Ghost Rider from Ghost Rider #2 from 1950 (right).

Ghost Rider 31 Ghost Rider 02

Because this is a special Halloween issue, I decided to make an alternate cover.  This second cover is based instead on an old Golden Age Ghost Rider cover instead of the newer Marvel cover.

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Imagine that this is the direct cover and the previous one is the newsstand cover.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2013: Marvel’s Simon Garth: The Zombie!

Posted in comic books, monsters, pop culture, zombies with tags , , , , , , , , on October 16, 2013 by Paxton

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In 1953, the forerunner of Marvel Comics, Atlas Comics, released the fifth issue of their horror anthology title, Menace.

Menace 5

In this issue, in a standalone story written by Stan Lee and drawn by Bill Everett was the debut of a character known only as, The Zombie.

The Zombie

The short story offered no background, just the simple setup of a zombie walking the swamps who is controlled by a mysterious evil man in a hidden cabin. After the story first appeared the character sort of disappeared.

Then in 1974, editor Roy Thomas plucked the character from obscurity and made him the star of his very own horror themed magazine called Tales of the Zombie.

Tales of the Zombie 01

The magazine re-printed Lee’s original Menace story, but then Thomas had Steve Gerber and Joe Buscema craft a prologue story, Altar of the Damned, to fill out the zombie backstory and give the character a name; Simon Garth. Gerber and Buscema then did another story called Night of the Walking Dead to continue the character’s adventures forward.

New stories in each issue of the magazine were mostly done by Steve Gerber and Pablo Marcos.  Other notable contributers included Doug Moench and Chris Claremont.  Simon Garth’s final appearance in this magazine would be in issue 9 which awesomely culminated in a story arc at his daughter’s wedding.

Tales of the Zombie 09

The magazine would actually go release issue 10, but it featured the character Brother Voodoo and not Simon Garth.

Since the 70s, Simon has popped up in appearances all over the Marvel Universe including Spider-Man, Blade, Dracula and, most recently, was a main character in Marvel Zombies 4.

He’s not had his own series again, but he did get a few mini-series in 2007 under the Marvel MAX imprint.


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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2013: Marvel Zombies (2005-current)

Posted in comic books, monsters, pop culture, zombies with tags , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2013 by Paxton

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In Dec 2005, Marvel published a 5 issue mini-series written by Robert Kirkman and drawn by Sean Phillips called Marvel Zombies. It was essentially an “alternate universe” tale about the heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe contracting a virus that turned them all into zombies.

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The whole idea originated in a story arc in Ultimate Fantastic Four issues 21-23 (Sep 2005).  Reed Richards is tricked by a duplicate of himself from another dimension into bringing over him and his alternate dimension FF teammates.  Turns out, that version of the Fantastic Four is actually infected with a super-virus that turned them into zombies and their dimension has run out of their food source; brains and human flesh.  The Zombie Four wish to enter this new dimension that is full of tasty brains to eat.  Reed and the Ultimate FF defeat the zombies, but only barely and only with the help of Victor Von Doom.

The Marvel Zombies mini begins on this alternate universe of Marvel Heroes a small while after the Crossover story arc.  Some of the details before this story arc would be fleshed out in a later one-shot written by Robert Kirkman called Marvel Zombies: Dead Days.  But the first Marvel Zombies series takes placed right after Crossover.

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Magneto destroys the cross dimensional portal that Reed used during the Crossover story to bring the zombie FF over to the other dimension. Magneto is then killed by all of the zombies. The Silver Surfer arrives on the planet to announce Galactus’ arrival, but he too is overwhelmed and killed by the zombies who then each absorb some of the Surfer’s Power Cosmic. The zombies with the Power Cosmic kill and devour the non-powered zombies to remove the competition for food. Galactus arrives and barely fights off the zombie hordes. Giant-Man, Iron Man and Bruce Banner develop a machine to harness and increase the Power Cosmic they all have and they use this to finally injure and devour Galactus. Galactus’ power is absorbed by the surviving group of zombies who use this power to leave the planet and start scouring the Universe for planets with more food.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I read this but it’s pretty awesome.  I discovered Robert Kirkman first through his Astounding Wolf-Man and Invincible comics.  I knew about Marvel Zombies, but when I discovered Kirkman wrote the first two mini-series, I grabbed both of them as well as the Dead Days prequel and devoured them (pun intended) immediately.  These first Kirkman produced books are nothing short of amazing in their storytelling.  I can’t recommend them enough.

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(Via Comic Vine)

There were several non-Kirkman sequels after Marvel Zombies 2.  Marvel Zombies 3 (2008) and 4 (2009) were written by Fred Van Lente and drawn by Kev Walker.  They are appropriately over-the-top and fun.  Part 3 has the character of Machine Man as it’s protagonist and Part 4 uses the Midnight Sons (Morbius, Man-Thing, Werewolf by Night, Damien Hellstrom and Jennifer Kale).  Now that I’m looking it up, it seems Van Lente actually also wrote a Marvel Zombies 5 in 2010.  I haven’t read that one, but 3 and 4 are fun and zany stories that don’t aspire (nor really need to) to the scope of the first two mini-series.  Plus, it could be that the concept is spreading itself a little thin by the third sequel.

After this a collection of one-shots were released called Marvel Zombies Return as well as Marvel Zombies Supreme and a one shot called Evil Evolution which is a crossover between Marvel Zombies and Marvel Apes.  So yeah, Marvel is milking the hell out of this zombies thing, but it’s still really popular.  And I keep reading them, for sure.  I’ll definitely continue on with part 5.


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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.