Category Archives: marvel comics

Doris Danger on ComiXology

I have only recently caught up with the world technology-wise. I have only had my iPad Mini a few months, and I’m still learning. And it’s also only been a short time since I have been reading digital comics the, um, shall we say, the legal way.

ComiXology is my friend, my reding device, and the bane of my wallet, but it has been a new way for me to experience not only comics, but comics in a new way as well. It has also been a way for me to explore comics I might not have read otherwise or catch up on stuff I haven’t read in a while. In other words, I do a lot of exploring on ComiXology.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered an old friend and his work there, and I purchased it right away. I’m talking about Doris Danger by the talented Chris Wisnia. Chris has been doing comics for a while now and I have been following him and cheering him on for most of that time, whether it’s Tabloia, or Dr. DeBunko, or even Doris Danger, it is always a fun time reading comics. And really, aren’t comics supposed to be fun?

Currently only Chris Wisnia’s Doris Danger Giant Monster Adventures is available digitally, and some of the stories included are even specially formatted for optimal e-reading. I had read all the stories in the collection before, but still I was happy to not only have them all in one place, but also in electronic form.

This terrific e-comic is ninety-six pages of tales of giant monsters in the Atlas Comics tradition of the legendary Jack Kirby. Yes, Kirby homage is kinda old hat these days, but Chris was not only doing it before it was cool, he was (and is) doing it better than all the other guys. He’s found that elusive groove between respect and humor with falling into insult or mockery. Each page is lovingly rendered and showing what was so cool about 1950s giant monster comics, both good and bad.

The book is described thusly: “As a teen, Doris Danger was abducted by a giant monster. Ever since, she’s had a burning desire to prove the existence of giant monsters, but has been unable to prove her beliefs by snapping an indisputable photograph. While she has convinced many, she has also met many who doubt, who try to disprove, or even lie, manipulate, and cover up evidence. Doris Danger crosses the X-Files with the classic Lee/Kirby giant monster comics, with a little bit of Godzilla thrown in for good measure.”

Chris Wisnia rocks these comics, that also feature fabulous pin-ups by artists you have definitely heard of like Russ Heath, Steve Rude, and Mike Mignola among others; and great letters columns and text pieces detailing the history of these amazing comics, both real and fictional.

I love these books, and whether you have or haven’t experienced them before, you should definitely check out Doris Danger Giant Monster Adventures in electronic or hard copy form, and also stop by Chris’ website to see all the other creative stuff he has going on, and Follow him on Twitter as well.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. at Biff Bam Pop!

If you’ve been watching “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” you know what a phenomenon it is. ABC and Disney, as well as Marvel Comics, are thrilled with the show – as are millions of viewers.

Also, you might not be aware, I have been reviewing “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” at Biff Bam Pop!. You can check out my thoughts on the first few episodes there for “Pilot,” “0-8-4,” “The Asset,” and “Eye Spy.”

And there’s a brand new episode tonight, so don’t forget to check out Biff Bam Pop! for my review later in the evening!

The Secret of Iron Man Three

Iron Man Three ~ This movie is not what you think it is. The trailers give you something that is compelling, but it’s not the film, not really. We’re not talking about false advertising, no, what you see in the previews you get in the movie, it’s just Iron Man 3 (or Iron Man Three as it’s actually called in the credits) is a different kind of superhero film, hell, it’s a different kind of film, period.

Now I’ve already talked about that fact and more about director Shane Black’s approach to Iron Man Three in my spoiler-free review over at Biff Bam Pop! some months back (read it here). But what I’m going to talk about here is very spoiler special heavy. It’s the big secret of Iron Man Three, we’re going to talk about the Mandarin. Spoilers away, be warned.

Now this is not new territory for me either, I talked about the Mandarin before in my article about the forgotten foes of Iron Man, but this will be very specific to bringing Mandy to the big screen, and in the year 2013, that is not an easy job. Let’s face it, the Mandarin is a piece of history, and a rather nasty piece of history, both outdated and racist.

In the comics, the Mandarin is an Asian villain in the tradition of other such masterminds like Sax Rohmer’s classic, but racist stereotype, Fu Manchu. He was created in an age when in the comics every hero fought against the Red Menace, the Communist threat, and yes, the Yellow Peril. We as a nation were recovering from the Korean War, entering into the Viet Nam War, and in the midst of a deadly game of mutually assured destruction in the Cold War. The Asian race was a direct threat.

The Mandarin was a schemer, a manipulator, a mastermind. He worked behind the scenes, he controlled multiple villains, and sought to overthrow not only America, but our entire way of life. But that was the 1960s, and it was racist. That crap don’t play now, and quite honestly the Mandarin, although Iron Man’s archenemy from early on, has not weathered the storm, one of political correctness, well after all these years.

Enter the phenomenon that is the Robert Downey Jr. and the Marvel Cinematic Universe it started. After two Iron Man movies, and a billion dollar blockbuster Avengers film, where do you go? Is it time for Iron Man to finally face his greatest foe on screen? Yes, but in our politically correct world, with a mainstream audience who may or may not have a background in the comics source material, how do you pull it off.

Easy answer? You lie, you dazzle them with trickery. You get your cake, and you eat it too. Sir Ben Kingsley, first, is inspired casting for the villain. And in the previews, the image he gives us is both Marvel Comics Mandarin and Middle Eastern terrorist pimp daddy, an updating to be awed. This new Mandarin is one who both strikes by surprise like the 9/11 bombers, and announces his attacks like the monsters who have beheaded hostages on video on the internet.

An early interview before the film came out asked if Sir Ben had done any research on the Mandarin character, and he said that he had not, and that he did not intend to. This sent fanboys into a frenzy. The fact is that Sir Ben didn’t need to. His character was not really the Mandarin – in fact, the whole concept, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, was a fake, a deception, a farce.

The Mandarin didn’t exist, he was just an actor, a puppet of the real villain. Sir Ben never needed to know anything about the source material, his character was a construct, and one lovingly performed with the proper fierceness, and comedic flair once revealed (loved the Ringo Starr-esque affectation). Kingsley’s performance was golden, in so many ways, he was menacing, and ridiculous, and done right. That’s right, I said, ‘done right.’

There were fanboys who fumed about this as well, but the truth is – it was impossible to transfer the comics character to the screen in our world of political correctness. Sorry, folks who just don’t get it, but wake up, the Mandarin is a racist stereotype. And also be aware, there are folks who think the villain as he appears in the movie is also a racist stereotype, one of our current Middle Eastern terrorist enemies.

And therein lies the problem, as much good will as Iron Man, the Avengers, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe have engendered with mainstream audiences, it would all fall apart tragically if the Mandarin were portrayed as a sneering Asian madman bent on world domination. In my opinion Iron Man Three does it right, giving us the best of both worlds.

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast for June 2013

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast features co-hosts Ed (X-Wing Pilot) Evans, Allison (Get Off My Lawn) Eckel, and Glenn (Blue Lantern) Walker, as they discuss the new comics, trends, games, and toys out this month! You can see the show here, or check it out below.

Discussion featured in the special June 2013 episode includes: The Movement by Gail Simone, Green Team, Batman/Superman, Superman Unchained by Scott Snyder and Jim Lee, Larfleeze by Keith Giffen, Trinity War, Age of Ultron, Avengers/Captain Marvel by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Hawkeye, Star Trek comics and games, the original Battlestar Galactica, Ten Grand by JMS and Ben Templesmith, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Free RPG Day, Star Wars from Fantasy Flight, Cherry Hill Comic-Con, and the Legendary Marvel deck-building game.

Be sure to check out the All Things Fun! website, and the newly revamped All Things Fun! Blogs, written by Allison and Glenn, featuring The Vidcast Drinking Game so you can play along at home, and watch ATF! on YouTube (don’t forget to subscribe to the channel while you’re there, and leave a comment or two on the Vidcast as well!).

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast is shot live at All Things Fun! – the South Jersey/Philadelphia area’s best comics, toys and gaming store – located on Route 73 in West Berlin, NJ.

And don’t forget to visit us at Facebook!

The All Things Fun! Vidcast FCBD Edition 2013

Superman came back from the dead, Captain America came back from the dead, Wolverine will come back from the dead once he dies, as rumored, later this year… and now, The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast is back!

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast features co-hosts Ed Evans, Allison Eckel, and Glenn Walker, as they discuss the comic book related topics in every episode! You can see the show here or on All Things Fun!’s YouTube Channel.

It’s that time of year again, Free Comic Book Day, always the first Saturday in May, when comic shops the world over offer a plethora of comics for free, all introductory issues designed for readers old and new to get a glimpse into what the hobby is about and what it has to offer. At All Things Fun!, as always, there are events and sales galore, so come on out, get your free comics, and get in on the fun!

Discussion featured in this Free Comic Book Day Preview Episode includes: Cagematch draft, Free Comic Book Day 2013, Marvel’s Infinity, cartoons for kids of all ages, Plop!, Catfishtress, Spoon!, real authors, NFL Superpro, Ryan Reynolds’ bulge, Valiant, Grimm, ‘for kids,’ The Walking Dead, Captain Midnight!, Superman, Allison’s kids comics, steampunk in Oz, Absolution, Graphic India, Buck Rogers! and Damsels for the guys.

Be sure to check out the All Things Fun! website, and the newly revamped All Things Fun! Blogs, written by Allison and Glenn, featuring The Vidcast Drinking Game so you can play along at home, and watch ATF! on YouTube (don’t forget to subscribe to the channel while you’re there, and leave a comment or two on the Vidcast as well!).

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast is shot live at All Things Fun! – the South Jersey/Philadelphia area’s best comics, toys and gaming store, located on Route 73 in West Berlin, NJ. Come on down, check out the store, and say hi to Ed and Dina!

Don’t forget to visit us at Facebook!

And hope to see you all on Saturday, May 4th, Free Comic Book Day!

The Simpsons – Still Tapping

I talked about this one before, The Simpsons Tapped Out. Well, I’m still playing it on my phone. A lot of the folks who were playing when I started have stopped or just faded away, but really I continue to enjoy it.

I have tried other games of its ilk. A few Sims things, Megapolis, stuff like that. But it’s just not the same, and I don’t like them, so keep your Farmville requests away from me please. It’s the familiarity of the characters and the situations that appeals to me. So with that logic, I have to wonder why DC Comics with their amazing fictional cities or Marvel Comics with their fantastic Marvel Universe New York City haven’t jumped on the bandwagon. I would be all over either of those two games.

There is one thing I do wonder about however. Where do folks get all the donuts from? Donuts are the currency in this game, and you get one or two per level (currently 27 is the highest level), or you can buy them outright. When a new building is available I see folks who get it immediately, no matter if it’s only costs a handful of donuts or hundreds of donuts. Do people really buy that much for one of these games? That’s a serious cash put out…

New updates happen all the time, some relating to holidays, or upcoming episodes, or even very Simpsons-centric things like Whacking Day, currently going on. If you want to add me to your Other Springfields, you can find me at monsura2 or if you want, help The Bride out at glenifer. We’ll both still be tapping away.

RIP Carmine Infantino

This is rough, losing two of my influences and inspirations in the same day. Artist, innovator, publisher, and legend Carmine Infantino passed away today at the age of 87.

Other than the “Batman” 1966 TV series, Carmine Infantino was my gateway drug into comics through the old issues of Flash my big brother Warren had. I remember one comic specifically, an 80-Page Giant, issue #169, no cover and missing a few pages but I read my brother’s copy ragged. In it was a feature called ‘How I Draw the Flash’ by Carmine Infantino.

I am no artist by any means, but I was entranced by these two pages and they spurred in me an interest at least to try to draw. I learned perspective, anatomy, and of course comic book dynamics from these two pages of Infantino imparting his artistic secrets. To this day, I can’t draw, but I can draw the Silver Age Flash, thanks to Mr. Infantino.

From those days of reading my brother’s comics, the Flash became my favorite character. I grew up with a Flash written by Cary Bates and illustrated by Irv Novick. That was my Flash, but it was always a known fact, Infantino’s Flash was the real Flash. He was among those that created the first of the Silver Age revamps of the heroes of the Golden Age, the Flash in Showcase #4, a more realistic, scientifically based superhero for a new age.

Not only had he drawn the original scarlet speedster back in the Golden Age, he was a collaborator in bringing back those heroes in the legendary groundbreaking “Flash of Two Worlds” story that created both Earth-2 and began DC Comics’ multiverse. Infantino’s ‘Colors of Evil’ from a rejected comic strip of his were the basis for the Flash’s Rogues Gallery, the most unique assortment of baddies this side of Batman.

Speaking of Batman, he also revamped the character for the Silver Age, giving the stories a more realistic detective feel, and also adding the golden circle to the Bat-symbol. His Batman was just as definitive as his Flash. Infantino also left his mark on such characters as Adam Strange (still one of my favorites thanks to a team-up between the hero and the Justice League in a story by Infantino), Black Canary, the Elongated Man, Dial H for Hero, and others in his time at DC. Later he became the publisher, invigorated design, streamlined production, and put together such event comics as the first meeting of Superman and Spider-Man.

Eventually he left DC as publisher and moved on to other projects like the Marvel version of Star Wars and also Spider-Woman and Nova, and returning to DC to draw the Flash once again, and even Batman in a newspaper strip. He has become one of the industry’s living legends. I got to meet him once at a con, and told him silly stories of my brother, the Flash, and my hideous artistic endeavors. He smiled and laughed. He was that kind of guy.

We have lost one of the big ones. Carmine Infantino was a giant in the industry, a legend of the comics field. He will be missed.

The Avengers on Biff Bam Pop!

For more than a decade I wrote monthly reviews of the current Avengers title from Marvel Comics at the Avengers Forever website. When that site closed up a few years ago, it left a void in my life as well as in the lives in many of the folks who hung out there. A version of Avengers Forever does exist on the Facebook here, but it’s just not the same.

This month at the Biff Bam Pop! pop culture website, it’s Mighty Marvel Month, and to celebrate, I have jumped back onto the Avengers bandwagon with a vengeance.

Here’s just a sampling of what you’ll find:

Avengers NOW!, an overview of the Avengers franchise in the Marvel NOW! era.

Age of Ultron: Book One and Age of Ultron: Book Two, writer Brian Michael Bendis’ final storyline for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes as their greatest enemy finally wins and takes the Earth.

Avengers Assemble Annual #1, a special spotlight on classic Avenger, the Vision, and his return to greatness.

Avengers #7, and how the New Universe fits into writer Jonathan Hickman’s plans for his eighteen member roster of Avengers.

And finally, there’s the new trailer for Iron Man 3 right here.

It has felt very good getting back into the driver’s seat. If you’re not into the Avengers, or comics, you could also check out my reviews of the latest albums from Adam Ant and David Bowie, and of course, you can find all of my Biff Bam Pop! work here!

Why "Avengers Earth’s Mightiest Heroes" Was Canceled

I have written at length elsewhere about why and how much I love the latest animated incarnation of Marvel Comics’ the Avengers on Disney XD – “The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.”

Much like the comics they were based on, Disney took great care to create and build a continuity and a universe around the characters. They even started before the show even got on the air officially with mini-episodes, detailing the solo pre-Avengers careers of the Avengers, and giving viewers new to the Marvel Universe a taste of how things started and fit together. It was actually a quick short-form, but orchestrated, version of how Paul Dini and Bruce Timm slowly built the DC Animated Universe from its beginnings in “Batman The Animated Series” until it blossomed in the last version seen in “Justice League Unlimited.”

In Marvel and Disney’s case, we had small vignettes that introduced us to Ant-Man, Captain America, Thor, the Hulk, and Iron Man (and their various villains as well). The last one there was based solidly on Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, and the others more comic book versions shoehorned into that world. This was a good thing, making the show accessible, as many new viewers felt like they were coming in on the ground floor. And while the events seemed a bit out of order in places, most things were pretty accurate to the comics, more so than any other comics-to-TV project previous to this.

I loved this series, and now it’s over. The word is it was shut down because it did not fit in with the continuity Jeph Loeb had set up with his later “Ultimate Spider-Man” cartoon. He had a mad Hulk, a teenage Power Man and Iron Fist, and other bits like that. Have I mentioned how much I hate the “Ultimate Spider-Man” cartoon? It has its merits, don’t get me wrong, but it has more wrong with it than right with it. And maybe I’m just old, but the anime and videogame references annoy me.

So a silly teenaged version of the characters, or one based on the movies and the comics – guess which one gets jettisoned? Bingo, goodbye, “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.” Mainly because one old man wants all the animated series under his hat to match? Yep, that’s why. Do “Mike and Molly” and “The Big Bang Theory” exist in the same universe, and have to adhere to the same continuity rules? No, but if Loeb was in charge, they’d have to.

This is probably a good time to mention while Loeb has done some good work, like “Hush” and “The Long Halloween,” he is also responsible for ruining “Heroes,” The Ultimates, Superman, and the Challengers of the Unknown. And while he wrote Teen Wolf, any good will there was erased by Teen Wolf Too, which he also penned.

The new replacement series, “Avengers Assemble,” might be a continuation of the “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes,” and then again, it might not. The voice cast is different, and it features new member, the Falcon, joining a team composed of the heroes from the 2012 hit movie, Marvel’s The Avengers. Who wants to take bets that Hawkeye will be in his drab, unexciting, movie uniform? You’d win.

“Avengers Assemble” gets a sneak preview on Disney XD on May 26th, and then premieres in its regular time slot on July 7th. I will withhold my opinion until it airs, but I’m betting there’s no way it can be as good, as one of the best superhero cartoons ever made – “Avengers Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.” It certainly can’t be worse than “Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.” Don’t even ask…

Following Not So Much

I think this one is the last one. I might watch “The Following” a couple more times, but I doubt I’ll be writing about it. Even Fox has tired of hyping it as much as they had been. Ratings have slipped even though Fox insists they will catch up through other pathways like DVR and streaming to other devices.

There was a Marvel Comics event a few years back called “Secret Invasion.” The premise followed (pardon the pun) that shape-changing aliens had infiltrated the human race. These Skrull, as they were called, looked like us, they acted like us. Anyone could be a Skrull. No one could be trusted. After a while, it became cliche. Any bad plot element could be resolved by that person or persons being a Skrull. If you couldn’t trust anyone, you couldn’t care about anyone. Epic character writing fail.

That’s the problem here. Anyone could be a serial killer under Joe Carroll’s influence. The known serial killers are unlikable, and the known good guys, even Kevin Bacon, are unlikable or ineffective. Who to root for at this point? Only James Purefoy, as the main big bad, has any charisma, and we barely see him.

As I stated early in my reviews of this series, the story was better suited as a movie or mini-series with a clear ending. I suspect “The Following” will now have an ending similar to that of “Alcatraz” – eventual cancellation.