Posted on: June 4th, 2009 Hero/Villain of the Week!

He is considered Hank Pym’s greatest creation.  The heroic scientist certainly didn’t intend for his foray into artificial intelligence to result in an unstable sentient robot that hates his “father” and the rest of humanity.  Pym used a copy of his brain to endow consciousness to a crudely built robot, passing Pym’s uber-intelligence on to his creation.  But a keen intellect was not all that the robot received from Pym; he also received Pym’s mental instability. After gaining sentience and realizing a pure hatred for the human race, Pym’s creation brainwashed him and convinced Pym to abandon the lab where he worked.  The robot was intent on improving upon it’s crude form, and after he created four new “bodies” for itself, he was born – the villain known as Ultron!

Ultron!Real name:  Ultron     Alias:  Crimson Cowl, Great Devil, Great Ultron, Iron Man, Mark, Omega, Ultimate Ultron, Ultron-5 (and hundreds of other sequential numerical designations), Ultron Mark Twelve, Ho Yinsen      Status:  Villain

Occupation:  Full-Time Villain, would-be world conqueror, scientist, mass murderer, and ruler of Phalanx

Height:  6′9″ (known to fluctuate)     Weight:  535 lbs (known to fluctuate)

Unique Abilities:  Ultron’s abilities vary with each redesign, but typically include superhuman strength and durability, the power of flight, and various offensive weapons such as concussion blasters, radiation emitters and his “encephalo-ray”, which plunges its victims into a deathlike coma. The latter ray also allows Ultron to mesmerize and outright mind-control his victims, or implant subliminal hypnotic commands within their minds to be enacted at a later time. Ultron’s outer shell is usually composed of Adamantium, rendering it almost totally impervious to damage; however, his internal mechanisms are generally less durable and more easily damaged. Ultron’s Adamantium forms have proven vulnerable to molecular rearrangement devices and the metal-destabilizing ore known as Savage Land Vibranium (”anti-metal”). Some Ultron models feature tractor beams and energy absorption capabilities. Most Ultrons are powered by a small internal nuclear furnace, and incorporate a “program transmitter” which can beam part or all of Ultron’s programming into remote locations such as computers or alternate robotic bodies. Ultron can often control other machines remotely even if he has not transplanted his consciousness into them. One recent Ultron model developed hive-mind technology, allowing him to animate and control hundreds of alternate Ultron bodies at the same time, becoming a robotic one-man army. Ultron is one of the foremost robotics experts on Earth.

Ultron:  Ruler of PhalanxCareer Highlights:  Ultron is one of the most cunning and vile villains in the Marvel Universe, and his track record certainly backs that up.  In the 70’s, Ultron crashed the wedding between the Inhuman Crystal and the Avenger Quicksilver, where he battle the Avengers, the Inhumans, and the Fantastic Four before being defeated.  He appeared on Battleworld (as Ultron v11) to battle the Thing during the Secret wars.  Grimm brought his head home as a souvenir, which proved to be a mistake, as he drops and loses the head in battle.  When Ultron returned, it was assumed that Ultron 11 somehow came back, by it was proven to be a new Ultron model, Ultron 12 – a model that was different from the others in that Ultron 12 tried to form an actual relationship with his “father” Hank Pym.  When Ultron 11 did return gunning for Hank Pym and Wonderman, Ultron 12 came to their assistance, and the three defeated Ultron 11.  Ultron 12 told Pym he was happy to help save his “Father’s” life, then promptly deactivated himself.   In the 90’s, Ultron 17 teamed with Alkemha in an effort to create a volcanic winter by placing bombs at the base of several volcanoes.  One particularly memorable act of villainy is when Ultron 19 slaughtered the population of the fictional state Slorernia.  Over the years, Ultron has stopped at nothing to destroy the human race and it’s heroic protectors, often impersonating various heroes or villains.  His ultimate goal is clear, and coupled with his ability to continually return “from the dead” in a newer and more deadly form, Ultron should be considered one of Marvel Universe’s biggest threats.

Key media appearances:  Ultron first appeared in Avengers #54 in 1968, and has been a thorn in the side of the heroes of the Marvel Universe ever since.  Some of his key comic appearances include:  Avengers #161-162 as Ultron-8 (where it is responsible for the creation of Jocasta whom it wishes to take as a robotic bride), Daredevil # 275-276 (where as a pawn of Doctor Doom, it attacks Daredevil before a programming conflict deactivates the robot), Avengers#19 (where he slaughters the population of the fictional state Slorernia before once again being defeated by the Avengers in Avengers 22), Iron Manvol. 3, #46 – 48 (an Ultron formed from an old version of Iron Man’s armor, who leads the cult the Sons of Yinsen in an attempt to conquest via religion. The character is defeated by Iron Man and Jocasta), Mighty Avengers issues #1-6 (Ultron interfaces with Iron Man’s armor, which Iron Man had integrated with his biology. This allows Ultron’s program to transform Iron Man into a new version of Ultron that has the human appearance of the Wasp, albeit with a metallic skin. This version is eventually destroyed by new Avenger Ares, who uses a computer virus to wipe Ultron’s program from Iron Man’s armor. Ultron’s image later briefly appears on one of Pym’s computers) and in the Annihilation: Conquestcrossover where one version of Ultron leads the alien race the Phalanx, who view Ultron as the sympathetic father they have yearned for.[31] Together, they invade Kree space. Taking control of the body of Adam Warlock, Ultron hopes to achieve “true techno-organic perfection”, but is eventually forced to abandon Warlock’s body by the Technarchy Warlock. It is destroyed in combat by Wraith and Quasar.

Ultron would totally kick Metallo's metal ass!

Ultron would totally kick Metallo's metal ass!

In other media, Ultron appeared as a villain in the animated series The Avengers: United They Stand, and the character was done quite well.  His only film appearance (so far) is in the Marvel animated DVD release, Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow.  The character is depicted as a major presence that dominates a world where the heroes we know have all either died or gone into hiding.  A great appearance and a great overall movie, that comes with my highest recommendation!  While Ultron hasn’t appeared much outside of the comics, the impending release of an Ant-Man film and a film for the Avengers, it appears likely that we will be seeing much more of this robotic menace on the big screen sometime in the next 5 years.

Recap:  Ultron is a constant presence in the Marvel Universe.  He is a villain that boasts a deadly combination of wicked keen intellect and raw robotic power, making him one of the deadliest villains to ever square off against the Avengers.  The tragic story behind his villainy – including his origins and hatred of his “father” Hank Pym, add a whole new level to the character, taking him from run of the mill evil robot to true Super-Villain status.  Ultron uses his abilities to control all sorts of machines, including the ones he created himself andheroic machines like the Iron Man suit, to play mind games with the foes he faces.  This always leads to intrigue and mystery in all of his comic appearances.  Ultron is one of the most intriguing Marvel U villains, and it is his time to shine.  What a great way to introduce all you Ultron nubes to a villain I’m certain you’ll be seeing on the big screen very soon.

Posted on: May 27th, 2009 Hero/Villain of the Week!

Eel O’Brian was nothing more than a petty thug and overall degenerate low-life, that is, until one fateful night in 1941, when his life would be changed forever.  A botched caper led to Eel being shot and falling into a vat of acid, with the acid seeping into his wounds.  A classic comic transformation tool, this vat of acid helped create the clearly under rated and  my personal favorite DC second-stringer… Plastic Man!   Plastic Man is everything you wish Mr Fantastic was!  With the abilities to stretch any part of his body into any shape he desires, and a sense of humor sorely lacking from Marvel’s stretch-tastic hero, Eel O’Brian is the most under rated hero in DC comics today!  His recent appearances on Cartoon Network’s Batman:  The Brave and the Bold have shown the world the Plastic Man that I know and love, and it’s only a matter of time before we see his story on the big screen!  Here is everything you need to know about Eel O’Brian, Plastic Man:

Quality Comics Plastic Man #44Real Name:  Eel O’Brian      Alias:  Plastic Man     Status:  Hero

Occupation:  Adventurer, one -time agent of the F.B.I and it’s sister agency, the N.B.I    Hometown:  Chicago, Illinois

Height:  6 ft 1in.     Weight:  178 lbs

Unique Abilities:  Plastic Man is capable of stretching every atom in his body into any shape he wishes.  He is seemingly unbreakable and his shape changing is limited only by his own overactive imagination.  He also brings his unique sense of humor to the table, giving this true hero the appearance of being nothing more than comic relief.

Career Highlights:  After his “transformation,”  Eel turned his life around and started his new life serving in the All-Star Squadron and the Freedom Fighters during WWII on the pages of Quality Comics.  The character, and his dumb yet loyal sidekick Woozy Winks, became known for the odd structure and offbeat humor of every issue.  When Quality Comics and most of their characters were acquired by DC in 1956, Plastic Man was incorporated into the DC Universe and his legend (and cult following) grew!  He has worked closely with Batman on several occasions, and despite their distinctly different personalities, the two made a great team.  You could even say that Plastic Man and Batman grew to have somewhat of a friendship, as much as possible with a loner like Batman, and you could definitely say the Bat grew to respect Plastic Man.  The Dark Knight even recommended Plastic Man for inclusion into the Justice League of America, where Eel would serve the league well.  To go a step further, Batman learned that Eel had a son born out of wedlock, and helped Eel find his son, whom he instantly became completely dedicated to, to the point where he all but gave up his super hero duties to be a constant presence in his son’s life. 

Plastic Man met his death (seemingly) in the Obsidian Age, 3,000 years ago, and this event traumatized the JLA.  But like any true comic hero he would make a triumphant return from the grave, as his concious mind spent three millenia “collecting himself.”    This event showed that despite the appearance of being just comic relief for the comics he appears in, Eel O’Brian is a true DC super hero and a well respected member of the super hero community.  While many of the uninitiated may just view Plastic Man as a joke, he is a nigh invulnerable hero that could go toe to toe with even the mightiest of super villains.  If he gained the respect of the Batman, I think he should have your respect too!

Plastic Man returnsKey media appearances:  Plastic Man’s early appearances in the pages of Quality Comics go largely unnoticed as they are ridiculously difficult to obtain.  He remains one of the lesser known DC heroes, but it certainly is not because of a lack of respect from those involved in making comic books, past and present.  Plastic Man is a favorite character of many of the industries most talented individuals, including writer Grant Morrison, who included him in his 1990’s revival of the Justice League; Art Spiegelman, who profiled Plastic Man creator Jack Cole for The New Yorker magazine; painter Alex Ross, who has frequently included him in covers and stories depicting the Justice League; and Frank Miller, who included him in the Justice League in the comics All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder and Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again.  With the industries top talent singing Plastic Man’s praises, it’s truly surprising that he hasn’t appeared in more solo series’. 

In the Plastic Man’s run in 2004, the character starred in some of his most madcap adventures, highlighting the humor that is just as much a part of the character as his pliability is.  Another fine example is his third series run from late 1988 – early 1989, when Plastic Man and his comic relief partner Woozy Winks face off against the even more ridiculous (if that’s even possible) ooze brothers.  Hilarity ensued.  On a more serious note, in JLA #65, Plastic Man reconnected with his estranged son thanks to Batman, an event that finally showcased the serious potential of the character.  In other media, Plastic Man appeared briefly in the Super Friends cartoon, and had his own awesome, yet brief, animated series in the 80’s. 

plastic-man

Cartoon Network would eventually create a pilot for what would be a new Plastic Man animated series, yet the pilot was never aired (and remains rarely seen) and plans for the series were seemingly scrapped entirely.  For the curious, the unaired pilot can be found on the upcoming DVD release of the complete Plastic Man animated series from the 80’s.  In more recent times, Plastic Man has appeared in a couple episodes of Cartoon Network’s Batman:  The Brave and the Bold, though his back story is slightly modified.  Personally, I think his character is done quite well, and comes off as hilarious with the potential to be a true super hero force.  As a father of a young boy who loves the series, I can attest to the fact that kids love Plastic Man.  A film was in the works in the mid 90’s, only to die and be reborn (reportedly) in 2003, with a script and Keanu Reeves attached to star.  I’m immensely thankful that project died.  With the character returning to the public eye recently, I believe it’s only a matter of time until Plastic Man makes it to the big screen.  With Marvel’s Mr Fantastic having proven a character that can successfully be marketed to kids, and Stretch Armstrong spending years as a strong selling children’s toy soon to be turned into a feature film, the future has never looked brighter for Plastic Man.  It’s truly a good time to be a fan!

Plastic ManRecap:  Plastic Man is a DC super hero with the ability to transform any and all atoms in his body to any size or shape he desires as a result of an accident when his early career as a criminal lead to him falling into a vat of acid.  The character has always boasted immense possibilities and true super hero potential with a very unconventional style and offbeat humor, making all of his series’ truly special.  Eel O’Brian has made a return to the public eye recently, and the future of the character has never been brighter.  It’s a great time to love Plastic Man as I do.  I highly recommend that all comic fans take a second to find a Plastic Man comic at your local comic store, and pick it up.  You won’t be disappointed.  For everyone who enjoys the occasional splash of humor in their comic series’, or comics with a distinctly unconventional style, Plastic Man is the hero for you.  I can’t get enough!  He is far and away the best pliable man in pop-culture history.  Mr Fantastic is too serious!  Stretch Armstrong is too ridiculous.  Elongated Man is nothing more than a cheap knock-off, created in 1960 because creator Julius Schwartz “didn’t realize DC had acquired Plastic Man.”  Plastic Man doesn’t face the pliability limitations that Elongated Man does either.  If you like your heroes extremely pliable, there is simply no greater option than Plastic Man!

Posted on: May 7th, 2009 Hero/Villain of the Week!

Marvel Comics presents

beta_ray_bill

Name:  Beta Ray Bill     Real Name:  Bill (Legally changed to Beta Ray Bill)

Status:  Hero     Occupation:  Warrior and guardian of the space fleet of his alien race

Group Affiliations:  Presently none; Formerly Star Masters, Thor Corps; honorary member of Omega Flight; honorary warrior of Asgard

Height:  6′ 7″      Weight:  480 lbs.

Powers:  Beta has obtained powers and physical attributes similar to Thor, augmenting his already powerful cyborg body. He is very strong, nearly invulnerable, immune to disease, and is virtually immortal. He can also use Stormbreaker to fly, manipulate weather, absorb and channel various energies, and as a detector. He can also turn into his pre-cyborg Korbinite form, or currently to his alias Simon Walters by stamping the hammer, which then turns into a cane.

Abilities:  Beta Ray Bill’s life force and consciousness were transferred by scientists of his race into the body of an alien carnivorous equine-like beast that had been bionically restructured into a cyborg. Courtesy of highly advanced genetic engineering, Bill possesses superhuman strength and is capable of matching Thor in combat in their first encounter.  Bill possesses superhuman reflexes; stamina and durability;  and a highly extended lifespan.  Korbinites excel in hot climates. Beta is a very skilled and fierce warrior, and is able to detect the other Korbinites regardless of their location. 

Preferred Weaponry:  His weapon of choice is the Stormbreaker, which has similar properties to Mjolnir that he also has occasionally used.  He also possesses the advanced and sentient warship Skuttlebutt, and all the advanced weapon technology within it.  Bill wears traditional Asgardian armor.

Key media appearances:  Beta Ray Bill is very much a secondary character in the Marvel Universe, and as such has not received near the amount of media appearances as is deserved.  He first appeared in the pages of Marvel comics in 1983 in Thor #337.  He has appeared sporadically in different issues, encountering a handful of Earth’s heroes.  Notably, he worked with Omega Flight in a fight against Tanaraq, and played a prominent role in the recent Secret Invasion storyline, battling the Skrulls alongside Thor.  Bill appeared once in the 1998 Silver Surfer tv series, and was an alternate costume for Thor in Marvel:  Ultimate Alliance.

secret_invasion_thor_1_2nd_printingCharacter History:  The evil Surtur destroyed the burning galaxy, home to the Korbinites, many of whom were obliterated along with the rest of the burning galaxy.  The surviving Korbinites decided to choose a champion to lead them to a new home, and to be their protector. They chose Beta Ray Bill, who was promptly transformed into a cybernetic being resembling a fierce, horse-like creature.  The Korbinites amassed their fleet, put themselves into stasis, and followed Beta’s ship, Skuttlebutt. Bill fought legions of demons sent by Surtur, travelling through the galaxy in search of a safe haven for his people.

His ship neared Earth, and was mistaken for a threat to Earth, so Nick Fury sent Thor out to handle it.  In the ensuing battle with Thor, Bill knocked Mjolner out of Thor’s grasp, and was able to lift it.  Both Thor and Bill were transported to Asgard to determine who would yield the hammer in a  fight to the death.  Bill refused to kill Thor, and thus was deemed worthy of yielding Asgardian weaponry, so Odin ordered a new hammer to be made especially for Bill.  Thus Beta Ray Bill was connected to, and would forever feel the connection to Asgard.  Over the years, in many appearances in Thor comics, Beta Ray Bill would act as a defender of Asgard.  He would return to Asgard many times, developing a relationship with Sif.  When Ragnarok loomed over Asgard, Bill was willing to die in battle, just to defend Asgard.

During the Secret Invasion event, Bill was given Mjolner by Thor so that Donald Blake (Thor’s human alter-ego) could assist a nearby city.  Bill fought valiently and defeated much of the Skrull forces, yet he was defeatedby his own hammer Stormbreaker (though it was modified by the Skrulls) in the hands of the Super Skrull.  Thor came to rescue Bill, and once again yielding Stormbreaker, Bill tricked the Skrulls and defeated them.

I think Beta Ray Bill is a pretty cool looking character.  He’s never going to be a major player in Marvel U, but he is a more than formidable secondary character that easily adds a splash of excitement to any issues he appears in.  Bill likely won’t ever appear on tv, unless he makes a quick appearance in the proposed Thor animated series set to launch around the time the Thor feature film is released.  Also, he likely wouldn’t ever appear on film unless briefly in a Thor film.  None of that changes the fact that Beta Ray Bill is an immensely powerful ally and wicked cool mix of mystical, cosmic, and cybernetic power.  The more you know about the Marvel Universe, the cooler you become.  Well, at least that’s how I justify my burning desire to soak up all the comic character info I can.

Posted on: April 30th, 2009 Hero/Villain of the Week!

This week I’m introducing format changes in an effort to make things more clear for all of you, and as a means of providing you an unbiased source of information when introducing you to a new character.  This way, you can decide for yourself which heroes and villains you want to see more of.  A clean look is nothing more than an added bonus.  So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the new Hero/Villain of the Week!

Marvel Comics presents

omegared

Name:  Omega Red      Real Name:  Arkady Gregorivich

Status:  Villain     Occupation:  Crimelord; former mercenary, KGB agent  

Group Affiliations:  Red Mafia (kingpin); former employee of Sabretooth, The General, Ivan Pushkin, and Matsu’o Tsurayaba; formerly KGB, Upstarts

Height:  6′ 11″     Weight:  425 lbs

Powers:  Omega Red is a mutant with the ability to secrete bodily pheromones deadly to anyone in his immediate vicinity. This power greatly drains his energy, requiring him to absorb the life force of others. Omega Red was also granted superhuman strength from the KGB enhancement.

Special Abilities:  Omega Red is an excellent hand-to-hand combatant with extensive KGB training, and is fluent in Russian and English. Omega Red also has superhuman levels of stamina sufficient to engage Wolverine in combat continuously for over eighteen hours with no signs of fatigue. His bodily tissues are harder and more resistant to certain types of injury than those of an ordinary human. While he isn’t invulnerable, his body can withstand great impact and blunt trauma forces that would result in severe injury or death in an ordinary human.

Preferred Weaponry:   Implanted within Omega Red’s arms are long retractable tendril-like coils made of carbonadium, an artificial alloy that is the former Soviet Union’s attempt at creating True Adamantium. Carbonadium is more malleable than adamantium and, while being vastly stronger than steel, is considerably less durable than adamantium. Carbonadium, however, is for all practical purposes virtually indestructible. Omega Red can cause the coils to shoot forward from openings in the undersides of his wrists in order to ensnare his victims. Omega Red is able to use the tentacles as highly effective offensive weapons, often brandishing them like whips during combat. The natural durability of the tentacles, combined with his physical strength, are sufficient to cause damage to most conventional materials.  The coils serve as both conduit and stabilizing factor for his mutant pheromones. Omega Red’s resistance to injury is considerably enhanced due to the red armor that he wears. While it is unknown what the armor is composed of, it is sufficient to allow him to withstand powerful energy blasts from the likes of Chamber or Cyclops without sustaining injury

Key media appearances:  Omega Red’s key appearances in the pages of Marvel Comics include Wolverine:  Origins #31 and X-Men Vol. 2 #4-7 and #18-19.  The character has also appeared in two incarnations of the X-Men animated series, X-Men the animated series and X-Men:  Evolution.  Red has also appeared in multiple video games, including multiple Capcom/Marvel fighting games and as a boss in X-Men legends 2:  Rise of Apocalypse.  Finally, the character appeared in the Marvel animated film Hulk vs, particularly the Hulk vs Wolverine feature, working with Weapon X members attempting to capture the Hulk to use him as the Ultimate Weapon.  In that segment, he has a “unique” relationship with the Merc with the Mouth, Deadpool.

Character History:  Little is known about the Russian mutant before he became a mercenary and serial killer in Russia.  Once captured, he was turned over to the KGB, where they promptly turned him into their agent, code named Omega Red.  But the transformation process was interrupted by Team X,  an elite covert ops team consisting of Wolverine, Sabretooth, Maverick, and Wraith. They stole the Carbonadium Synthesizer, a device that was used to control Omega Red’s mutant power.  Omega Red was subsequently put in suspended animation.

omegaredvswolverineHe was revived decades later by ninja clan the Hand, and he promptly allied himself with their leader, Matsu’o Tsurayaba, in exchange for the whereabouts of Wolverine and the C-Synthesizer. Omega Red fought with both Maverick and Wolverine in an attempt to regain control of the synthesizer and gain his revenge on those who caused his state of suspended animation.  He was defeated by the X-Men.  Omega Red would later hunt down the cyborg M.O.D.A.M, whom he believed was the KGB agent who had betrayed him.  He was stopped by Iron Man.  Omega Red would come across and do battle with Generation X, Daredevil and the Black Widow, before he became employed by Russian crime lord Ivan Pushkin in an effort to incite a war between Hydra and A.I.M.  He ultimately failed in that endeavor, and would bounce from lackey job to lackey job, only to be betrayed at every turn.

Omega Red grew tired of being hired muscle, and he moved to New York to be the Kingpin of the Red Mafia.  In this capacity, he provided one time foe Agent Zero (formerly Maverick of Team X) with information on the whereabouts of Sabretooth, thus exacting a bit of revenge on both of them.  He served as a legitimate business man and a serious threat to the Kingpin, until he decided to resume his efforts to find the Carbonadium Synthesizer.  He would clash with Wolverine, landing himself in S.H.I.E.L.D custody.  His freedom was bought by Red Room with the hopes of using Omega Red’s powers for his own means.  Omega Red promptly “freed” himself from his employer, and immediately clashed with Wolverine, Collossus, and Nightcrawler.  Red had become impervious to Wolverine’s claws as a result of experimentation by Red Room, but he still fell to the heroes.  Omega Red is presently in S.H.I.E.L.D custody.

Posted on: April 23rd, 2009 Hero/Villain of the Week!

guardians_of_the_galaxy_8He comes from a colony of Eternals on Saturn’s moon, Titan.  He was born misshapen and monstrous compared to his brethren, and this caused him to grow into a brooding and maniacal man obsessed with death.  In fact, he has courted Death as his lover!  A violent and angry individual, he has claimed to have vivisected his own mother in an attempt to investigate how someone consumed with death such as himself could have come into being.  As if all that isn’t indicative of his villainy, you should know that he attacked his home world with nuclear weapons, killing thousands, including his own mother!  Straight from the pages of Marvel comics, the Hero/Villain of the week is none other than the mighty Thanos!

Thanos is an Eternal, and as such, he is powerful and god-like.  In his youth, Thanos sought to increase his strength and power by endowing himself with cybernetic implants until he became more powerful than any of his brethren.  He is also extremely intelligent, often being called the most knowledgeable being in the universe.  Couple that with his cunning and power, and you have a major inter-galactic threat.  Thanos is a brute force whose evil knows no bounds.  I mean, come on!  Just look at how he treated his mother!  He lives to wipe out the entire universe.  Attaining god-like power is his passion.

Thanos traveled the galaxy in search of power and/or a means to obliterate all life and rule the cosmos.  In his travels, he met Death, which presented itself in female form.  Thanos had always had a fascination with the occult, and upon meeting Death, he became infatuated with “her.”  He endeavored to make himself worthy in order to earn her love in return. It was then when he nearly destroyed his former home of Titan and declared himself its ruler.  He also sought out the Cosmic Cube, a item which allows whoever wields it to literally reshape reality around him. Virtually anything is possible, from the raising of mountains and commanding the power of the elements to opening dimensional portals and transforming your enemies. With the Cube’s power, Thanos made himself unto a god.  Ultimately, it was Thanos’ hubris which lead to his downfall, as he was tricked into believing that he had used up all the power of the cube in a battle with Captain Marvel and the Avengers.  He discarded the cube, an the heroes retrieved it to restore order.  The shame of Thanos’ defeat lead him to believe that lady Death had rejected his advances because he was unworthy.  Thanos’ “career” as a Marvel super-villain would continue on as any good villain’s “career” would, but he would not give up on his quest to impress Death.  It lead to him controlling some of the most powerful items in the galaxy.

thanos_10_keith_giffenIn battle, Thanos is very strong and cunning, making him a difficult foe for any hero.  Some of his unique skills include superhuman strength, endurance, reflexes, and agility. His skin in nearly invulnerable, particularly against heat, cold, electricity, radiation, toxins, aging, and disease, and he can survive indefinitely without food or water.  His mind is also invulnerable to most forms of psychic attack, and can project a psionic blast of energy as well as blasts of plasma/cosmic energy from his eyes and hands.  Thanos  has also wielded some of the most powerful items in the galaxy, which made him even more powerful.  Heroes who battled him always faced an uphill battle, as defeating the mighty Thanos when in control of those items is next to impossible.  There have been some epic battles featuring Thanos.  He has squared off against most of Earth’s heroes, in addition to the heroes of the galaxies.  Notable face-offs featured heroes like Captain Marvel, Spiderman, the Silver Surfer, and the Avengers.  He also fought a famous Marvel villain, Galactus, and defeated him!  Thanos usually defeated all who crossed him, but hubris and his unique relationship with Death always lead to his defeat.  Thanos’ efforts to gain the love of Death ultimately failed, leading to Death making Thanos immortal and forever denying him it’s embrace. 

The unique relationship with Death is what drew me to this character.  I am fascinated by it.  That is, in my opinion, the biggest part of Thanos’ lore.  All of his power, the epic villainy he has displayed, the brutality and the battles, the quest to hold the strongest powers in the galaxy, are all because of Death.  Thanos is a villain that, if focused, could easily destroy all life throughout the Marvel Universe.  I’ve always enjoyed powerful villains as much as I enjoy powerful heroes, if not more.  I love to see the villain win, not the war, but definitely a few battles.  So I continue to go back to Thanos, as I believe him to be the biggest threat to the Marvel Universe.  His abilities as a super villain are undeniable.  In battle with the Silver Surfer, he survived a full blast from the Surfer without even flinching.  He would go on to kill the Surfer with just a few blows.  He survived attacks from Thor’s father Odin.  He can go toe to toe with some of the strongest heroes like the Thing and the Hulk.  Thanos has wielded some of the coolest items in comics, my favorite being the heart of the universe.  For those of you who don’t know, Thanos used the heart of the universe to make himself into an omnipotent being who was confronted by a cabal of the most powerful beings in the cosmos, including Galactus and the Celestials, all of whom he promptly obliterated and destroyed the universe.  He found that existence to be hollow and unnatural, so he undid all the damage he had done.  But he did display the ability to destroy anyone and anything he chose.  Basically, what I’m trying to say, is that when Thanos appears in the pages of a comic book featuring your favorite hero, you can honestly believe that there is a realistic chance for that hero to be defeated and even be put to death.  I like that.

tnosThere have been some great comics featuring Thanos.  “What If? Newer Fantastic Four #1” was wicked cool, and not just because of the idea of a new FF team featuring Wolverine, Spiderman, Hulk and Iron Man.  Thanos was great in Dr Doom and the Masters of Evil.  Of course, if you want the definitive Thanos experience, I recommend you check out his solo series.  There were 12 excellent issues to enjoy.  The artwork in those issues was fantastic.  If you want to read something truly unique, something that truly shows Thanos’ might, you absolutely need to check out the six issue limited series entitled “Marvel:  The End.”   It is a wicked masterpiece.  I love it.

Thanos is a great super-villain.  He has been portrayed poorly in the past on tv, so obviously a lot of people have the wrong idea about the character.  Hopefully some day, we could actually see Thanos in action on the big screen.  Perhaps in a future Avengers film?  I can only hope that the previous bastarizations of Thanos do not sway the opinions of any Hollywood hot-shots.  Every good hero needs a powerful villain; one that could believably defeat the hero and complete whatever villainous plot they have.  Thanos IS that villain.  Until next time…

Posted on: April 16th, 2009 Hero/Villain of the Week!

azrael090_nologoThis week’s featured Hero/Villain comes from the DC universe.  He was destined to combat “evil.”  From birth, his path in life was set, though he knew nothing of it.  He is a descendant of a champion assassin for a Crusades-era fraternity of warrior-priests, the Order of St. Dumas.  Because of his family tree, he was bestowed the honor of taking up the mantle of the Avenging Angel.  Over the years, his role in the hero community, along with his costume, changed many times.  But one thing stayed the same… His name is Jean Paul Valley, the Avenging Angel Azrael!

For centuries, the Avenging Angel worked as the enforcer/assassin for the Order, passing the mantle from generation to generation, ending up with Jean Paul Valley.  He was just a student at Gotham University.  He knew nothing about his family history, and what that meant for his future.  When Jean Paul’s father was near death, he revealed the truth about his son’s fate.  Jean Paul accepted his future, and willingly took up the mantle of the Avenging Angel Azrael.  Unbeknown-st to him, there were deep hypnotic implants that called out to him.  So JPV travelled to Switzerland, where the dwarf Nomoz (who triggered the implants) trained him to be a formidable fighter, using his “special” training regimen.  Nomoz called it “The System”, a regimen of hypnosis and prenatal conditioning.  Before leaving Switzerland, Azrael took the opportunity to test his new found skills on Batman, who was there to capture a renegade member of St. Dumas.  Azrael was defeated, but managed to impress the Bat when he rescued Batman from Carleton LeHah, the fugitive Batman was chasing.  He returned to Gotham with Batman, where he would continue training under Robin’s guidance.

azrael-bIn the Knightfall story arc, the villainous Bane broke Batman’s back.  With Bruce Wayne out of commission and Bane still in Gotham, someone had to take over the role of Batman to protect Gotham while he healed. JPV was chosen.  But he didn’t handle things the way Wayne did.  JPV created a special Batman variant of his Azrael armor, and used it to protect Gotham.  He used his armor’s unique weaponry, including razor talons and various hidden weapons.  JPV defeated Bane, but could not defeat the hypnotic goading of “The System.”  He became increasingly violent in his pursuit of justice.  With Bruce Wayne now recovered from his injuries, he confronted and defeated Azrael, losing the mantle of Batman.  Following this defeat, JPV disappeared for a short period of time.

azrael100_nologoHe would return to confront the Order of St. Dumas for hypnotizing him.  Azrael went for the Order’s scientists.  In the insuing battle, the headquarters of St. Dumas, the Ice Cathedral, was destroyed.  This wiped out the last traces of the Order, and avenged the wrongs commited by the Order.  Sadly, JPV did not get to enjoy this for very long.  In Azrael:  Agent of the Bat #100, JPV seemed to die in a gunfight.  While as of right now, Gotham’s angel of vengence is gone, we all know that comic book deaths are never the end of any character.  We can only hope that DC decides to give Azrael another shot, and bring him back from beyond the grave.

JPV/Azrael was always a dark character.  Not just because of his propensity for excessive violence, or his dark and brooding style armor.  He was also dealing with conflicting feelings about his role in life, thus occasionally plunging him into severe bouts of depression.  He was moody, and I’ve always enjoyed that.  The character always gave me the impression that he was even slightly insane, and that he could snap at any given moment.  He was always a hero at heart, even though sometimes it seemed as though he had darker intentions.  JPV’s mood swings and bouts with depression also lead to him to change his costumes frequently, with each suit matching his feelings at the time.  While some people may have had a problem with the changing look, I always thought it was very cool.  I really enjoyed the look of all his variations of armor, particularly his darker take on the Batman costume.  Combine JPV’s twisted mind with brutal violence and wicked cool costumes, and you are left with one of my favorite heroes.

azrael_agent_of_the_bat_49JPV/Azrael first appeared in Batman:  Sword of Azrael, and that is a great place to start when you are checking out the character’s comic history.  Another milestone issue was Batman #500, when JPV donned the Azrael/Batman armor for the first time.  That was the start of some of my favorite issues of the Batman series.  The artwork on the character has always been good, and the writing has always been smart.  The character was very well thought out, with unique stories crafted masterfully.  They aren’t issues for everyone, that’s for sure.   I won’t lie and say that everyone will enjoy Azrael stories.  But I love them, and I love the character.  Fans of dark or “edgy” heroes will enjoy any and all issues featuring the Avenging Angel.  At the very least, I encourage all of you to check out the Knightfall series, and get a taste for the character.

Jean Paul Valley/Azrael has always been my favorite hero to come out of the Batman series’.  He is disturbed, and that always lead to his own unique, tougher style of justice.  They were good looking comics, and the stories were cool.  He changed his look like he changed his temperament, quickly and frequently.  But one thing stayed the same throughout all of his appearances; Azrael ALWAYS kicked major ass.  What more can you ask for?  Well, for starters, ask DC to bring Azrael back to the DCU.  Gotham needs it’s Avenging Angel!

Posted on: April 9th, 2009 Hero/Villain of the Week!

She is the wearer of an ancient supernatural, sentient artifact with immense destructive and protective powers.  The weapon had bonded with various women throughout history, including Cleopatra and Joan of Arc.  Now she wields a mystical weapon that is the desire of many nefarious characters who will stop at nothing to obtain the ultimate weapon, one that is so powerful that even it’s wearer (a hardened NYPD homicide detective) has trouble honing her skills with it.  If you haven’t guessed it by now, our Hero/Villain of the Week is Sara Pezzini – The Witchblade!

witchbladeBorn on November 18, 1970, Sara Pezzini is a smart, athletic, and beautiful NYPD homicide detective. She has police training in hand-to-hand combat, weapons, and tactics.  While on an undercover case at the Rialto Theater, both she and her partner, Michael Yee, were mortally wounded.  At this same theater was a man named Kenneth Irons, who had brought a gauntlet known as the Witchblade. Kenneth Irons was intending on unlocking the secret powers of the gauntlet to use for his own nefarious purposes.  But, as Sara lay dying, the Witchblade chose her to be it’s next wearer. It then healed Sara’s wounds, allowing her to survive the altercation. She has since had her life turned upside down as the wearer of the Witchblade, having to battle against evil that makes her long for the relative ease of her life as a NYPD detective. She refused to give up the Witchblade though, believing that she could do more good with the weapon than she ever could without it.  Sara went on to learn more about this mysterious artifact of power and continually struggling to stem its violent nature.

As a wielder of the Witchblade, Sara is granted many unique abilities, including the power to heal herself, to create armor over her skin, to shoot energy blasts, to extend razor sharp tendrils and even the power to  fly.  She has not explored the full limits of the Witchblade, so she does not know what other mystical abilities it possesses. When not overly active, the Witchblade can assume the form of a bracelet, allowing her to wear it without drawing any unwanted attention. The Witchblade is sentient, and Sara does not have complete control over its actions and reactions as a result.

daniwitchbladeThe Witchblade is one of thirteen mystical artifacts, of which several have been revealed: the Witchblade, the Angelus, the Darkness, the Ember Stone, the Glacial Stone, the Rapture, the Blood Sword, the Spear of Destiny, and the Wheel of Shadows.  It is the offspring of the universe’s opposing aspects, the Darkness and the Angelus.  It’s a male aspect created to act as a balance, which must have a female as a host.  The Witchblade was discovered in modern times in Greece by Kenneth Irons, who knew of it’s mystical power and intended on trying to wield it before it chose Sara as it’s wearer. Turns out that was fortunate for Irons, as when it is wielded by an unworthy user, that person will lose their arm.  Over the course of the Witchblade comics, the blade itself was shown to be wielded by numerous wearers in stand alones, and the gauntlet was transferred to a new wearer (Danielle Baptiste) when Sara became pregnant.  But the weapon eventually made it’s way back to Sara (Sort of) when Sara was close to death after giving birth.  The Witchblade split in two, and Danielle gave Sara half to save her life.  Both wield the weapon simultaneously.  Sara’s look when in “full” Witchblade armor is distinctly different from Danielle;  Sara’s signature image is that of a lightly silver armor intermixed with gray, and she manifests dragon-like wings when flying. The far more simple difference between the two?  Danielle is a blond.

I love Witchblade comics, for both the obvious reasons and other ones!  Obviously, as you can tell by the included pics, Sara is smoking hot and the Witchblade armor tends to “accentuate” the wearers features.  That aside, I really like the mystical story-telling and the wicked cool powers of the Witchblade.  It’s a pretty cool weapon. Witchblade comics have always been a fun read for me.  They tend to have great artwork and strong stories.  There have been some pretty great cross-over comics as well, even one pitting Witchblade against Wolverine!  I could’ve easily featured Danielle Baptiste as the Witchblade, or for that matter, any of it’s wearers on the subsequent spin-offs and stand-alone issues.  Witchblade was also turned into a manga series, which was a lot of fun (isn’t all manga fun though?).  What I’m trying to say is, I chose Sara as the Witchblade as she was the wearer in it’s first appearance, but there are many wearers over all the different forms Witchblade has manifested itself in.

twowitchbladesWitchblade is a very long running series, with well over 100 issues.  With so many issues to choose from, it can be hard to single out specific great issues.  I really enjoyed #124, as it addressed the possibility of both Witchblades (Sara and Danielle) turning against each other when the two friends are at odds over one of Dani’s new dance students.  That was a lot of fun, and had both smoking hot Witchblades.  The following issue was the launch of one of the bigger Witchblade story lines, picking up on what was started in #124, and I’d recommend you check that out.  I’ve been reading it and it is EPIC!  A war of the Witchblades!  A super chick fight! Nice!  Aside from that, Dark Minds Witchblade #1 is pretty wicked.  Witchblade comics are published by Top Cow Comics, under Image Comics, so they may be a little more difficult to find in some of the more mainstream comic shops.  Fortunately for all us comic fans, the internet is now a fantastic source we can use to find those rare issues we need to complete our collections.  It’s a safe bet that you can find most of, if not all of, the Witchblade issues online.

All in all, it’s hard to top Witchblade in the world of female heroes.  She’s got it all:  Smarts, athletic skills, a keen eye, detective mindset, bad-ass weapons, and a great pair of… um… Watermelons.  Yeah, she’s got great, big, juicy melons.  Can’t top that, can you?

Posted on: April 2nd, 2009 Hero/Villain of the week!

He was originally created in the 70’s to follow a pop-culture trend at the time.  The character’s face was even modeled after legendary ass-kicker Chuck Norris.  He is a master martial-artist, and as such he has even been known as the Living Weapon.  A relentless warrior and famed martial arts hero, he is Danny Rand, otherwise known as Iron Fist! 

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Young Daniel Rand, son of wealthy entrepreneur/adventurist Wendell Rand, lost both his parents at the age of nine when they were all attempting to once again seek out the mystical city of K’un-L’un (Wedell Rand had discovered the city years earlier, before he went back to the U.S to become a very wealthy man).  Young Daniel’s parents were tied together as they ventured up a mountain, and Wendell’s business partner Harold Meachum (who secretly loved his partner’s wife) forced Wendell to his death.  Meachum saved Daniel and his mother, but they rejected him, preferring to journey on without him or die instead of going on with the man who’d caused Wendell’s death.  Shortly thereafter, the two encountered a pack of wolves outside the limits of K’un-L’un, and Daniel’s mother sacrificed herself to save her son. 

K’un-L’un archers took the grieving Daniel to see Yü-Ti, the hooded ruler of K’un L’un. Daniel expresses his desire for vengeance, Yü-Ti apprentices him to Lei Kung, the Thunderer, who teaches him the martial arts.  Under Lei Kung’s tutelage, young Danny trained his fists by thrusting them into sand and rocks to toughen them up; he would grow to be one of Kung’s most gifted apprentices.  Daniel is given the chance to attain the power of the Iron Fist by fighting and defeating the dragon known as Shou-Lao the Undying, which guarded the molten heart that had been torn from its body. During the battle, Daniel threw himself against the scar of Shou-Lao, which burned a dragon tattoo into his chest. He killed Shou-Lao, and entered its cave to plunge his fists into a brazier containing the creature’s molten heart, emerging with the power of the Iron Fist!

Eventually, Danny Rand would go back to the U.S to seek out revenge on Harold Meachum, but found the man as somewhat of a pathetic, tragic figure (Meachum’s legs were amputated after he gained frostbite, shortly after abandoning Danny and his mother).  Rand would commit his first heroic act by overcoming his desire for revenge.  He would turn to heroism, fighting alongside some of Marvel’s heaviest hitters:  He helped Luke Cage form Heroes for Hire, and he would fight alongside the Avengers and the Secret Defenders.  Iron Fist is an unrelenting opponent, and a very skilled fighter.  He has even had to register himself as a lethal weapon!

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Without the powers of Iron First, Rand is still one of the Earth’s most formidable combatants, as he has mastered all the techniques of  K’un Lun’s martial arts, as well as many of Earth’s other forms of martial arts.  He is an exceptional athlete, acrobat, and hand-to-hand combatant, and he has been trained in the use of all martial-arts related weapons.  But with the powers of Shou-Lao, he is nearly unstoppable!  With focus and extreme concentration, Iron Fist can harness his spiritual energy, or chi, to augment his physical and mental capabilities to peak human levels. By focusing his chi into his hand, he can tap the superhuman energy of Shou-Lao and temporarily render his fist superhumanly powerful, immune to pain and injury.   Iron Fist can heal himself of any injury or illness and project this power to heal others. Iron Fist also has complete control over his nervous system, and he can use that to numb himself to any pain. 

He can sense mystic energy, particularly that which is related to K’un-Lun. He is capable of fusing his consciousness with that of another person, enabling each to perceive the other’s emotions and memories.  His entire body is oriented to combat, enabling him to adapt to any environment with minimal exposure. At times, he has absorbed energy directed at himself and channeled it to augment his own power. Under certain circumstances, he can even focus his chi to create nexus points between dimensions.   There are limits to the power of Iron Fist, however, as they require serious concentration, which can be physically draining and requiring a day or two to recover from in the most extreme cases.

I’m a pretty big martial-arts fan, so it follows that I would like a martial-arts hero like Iron Fist.  But I don’t see how anyone COULDN’T like him!  I mean, come on!  His face was modeled after the mighty Chuck Norris!  Seriously though, Iron Fist appearances have always been pure fun from my perspective.  I don’t feel like they get overly serious or too dramatic, similar to the best martial-arts films from the height of the genre’s success.  They are exciting adventures and fun stories, and they feature a hero you can really root for.  A hero you could really believe in.  Depending on your line of thought, it is concievable that nearly everything Iron Fist is shown as doing could possibly happen in real life.  There is years and years of study on the effects of extreme concentration, and it was a well documented practice that is centuries old.  So there is an extra touch of realism in Iron Fist comics. 

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Normally, I would recommend a couple of titles for the featured character I’m profiling, but as I looked through my own personal issues of Iron Fist, in addition to scouring the web for any wicked cool titles I actually don’t know about,  I found that it was nearly impossible for me to choose the Iron Fist required reading.  They are all that good.  A good place to start would be Iron Fist’s solo series, particularly the first 10 issues, and I’d recommend his team up issues with Power Man.    Ultimately though, I have to say that all Iron Fist comics are required reading for any fan of martial-arts, so I’d recommend all you martial-arts fans pick up “Essential Iron Fist”, which you can find at my new favorite online comic retailer, MyComicShop.Com for a mere $17!  Now there is something that you could add to any collection, and for a very small price, have a lifetime of entertainment featuring Marvel’s Martial-Arts Master!  So please, check out Iron Fist.  He’s a character fully deserving of all the fame that Spiderman and the Hulk receive, yet he goes practically unnoticed in the world of pop-culture.  With all these comic movies, animated films, animated series’, and superhero video games being so prevalent in society today, how come no one talks about Danny Rand?  Trust me, that will soon change, and Iron Fist WILL be receiving the big screen treatment, so check him out now.  That way you can tell everyone you were down with the Fist before they were.  Who doesn’t like having bragging rights?!?

Posted on: March 26th, 2009 Hero/Villain of the week!

A villain and unrepentant crook through and through, he has thrown down with The Flash on many occasions.  His heart is as cold as his icy stare, just don’t call him Mr. Freeze.  He hates being mistaken for Mr Freeze.  Often referred to as “the man who mastered absolute zero”, he was relentless in his attempts to take down his enemies.  For all of you who haven’t guessed, our Hero/Villain of the week is none other than the Flash’s arch-nemesis (dating back to the glory days with the great Barry Allen) Captain Cold!  He can be, and often is, considered a very sympathetic villain in the DC comics universe.  Make no mistake about it though, he can be a cold hearted killer (pun intended).  The villainous Captain Cold, a.k.a Leonard Snart, first appeared a whole two years before Mr Freeze appeared in the pages of DC comics (Snart first appeared in ‘57, Freeze in ‘59), it is Freeze that is commonly considered as the master of cold and ice.  This fact infuriates Snart, so don’t mistake him for Freeze, or you’ll find yourself suspended in a block of ice!  Here is what we know about Captain Cold:

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Leonard Snart was raised by an abusive father, but he occasionally found rare solace in the company of his grandfather (who drove an ice truck).  When his grandfather died, he found that he couldn’t handle the abuse anymore, so he turned to a life of crime.  He began his criminal career shortly after Barry Allen’s debut as the Flash, and he quickly become one of Allen’s most fiercest foes.  He began working on an experimental handgun to interfere with the Flash’s super speed, but an accident cause the gun to be irradiated,  turning the gun into his trademark cold guns, which can freeze moisture in the air to create ice slicks, shatter metal, and/or entomb people in blocks of ice, leaving them in a state of suspended animation.  He donned a parka and special goggles used to minimize the flashes of his guns (and, in later years, used to monitor local police band frequencies), and thus Captain Cold was born!  

Cold set off on a string of non-lethal crimes throughout Central and Keystone cities, robbing banks and the like.  But he loved matching wits with the Flash, and got his greatest pleasures from his encounters with Barry Allen.  But, as most all of us here know, Allen died a heroic death during the Infinite Earths crisis.  The death of his arch-enemy led Snart to leave the world of crime and he worked briefly as a bounty hunter with his sister Lisa (the Golden Glider).  Cold has tasted what seemed like sure success, and more than his fair share of bitter defeat, once even losing his eternal soul, only to have Wally West (the Flash) save him and bring him back to the land of the living.  Snart repaid this kindness by becoming a member of Wally West’s rogues gallery.  From time to time though, you’ll find a touch of humanity in the character.  He once helped an amnesiac Wally West defeat Mister Element (though one could argue that Cold wanted the honor of defeating the Flash all for himself). He also secretly arranged a funeral for Captain Boomerang, another member of the Flash’s rogues gallery.

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Captain Cold was named the leader of the Flash’s rogues gallery, due to his experience, age, and skills.  Cold takes his position as head of the Rogues very seriously. He has a no-drugs rule (he brutally beat the Mirror Master for his cocaine habit).  He is known to dock pay for senseless violence, and will kill only on certain occasions (he once killed the Top for setting the newer rogues against him and his set of rogues).  Captain Cold truly is one of the most under-rated villains in the history of DC comics, as he is the arch-nemesis and number one foe of the Flash, yet he remains virtually unknown.  I hold out hope that one day, when they finally make that Flash film, they’ll give Captain Cold some much needed screen time, and that (as opposed to his tv appearances) will gain him the notoriety he deserves.

If you want to check out the best appearances of the character, I would recommend you pick up the seven issue limited run “Salvation Run” or the three issue mini-series, “Final Crisis:  Rogues’ Revenge,” which took place after the events of “Salvation Run.”  The stories, while featuring other villains, heavily involve Captain Cold, and they are great.  In “Salvation Run,”  the majority of the DC Universe’s supervillains, both major ones and newer or more obscure ones, have been captured by the Suicide Squad and imprisoned on a distant planet. The story features the villains splitting into alliances and trying to either find a way to escape their prison, or choosing to rule the planet “Salvation” on which they have landed.  It’s a pretty interesting sample of villains, and a very well written story.  ”Final Crisis:  Rogues’ Revenge”  features the Rogues(fresh off their escape from planet Salvation) on a quest for vengeance, in which they will break the number one rule for the Rogues; “Never kill a speedster.”  Referring to the Flash, of course!  In the series, Captain Cold proclaimed that after they banded together to kill the Flash, the group would be disbanded forever.

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I’ve been a staunch supporter of Captain Cold.  He’s a great villain.  I’ll even go so far as to say that he is a better “ice based” villain than Mr Freeze!  There are more than just a few similarities between Cold and Freeze, and many comic nubes have either confused Cold for Freeze, or worse yet… call Cold a rip-off of Mr Freeze, and that’s just not true!  I’ve always been a fan of the character because of that touch of humanity that you typically don’t find in any arch-nemesis’.  He couldn’t be confused as a hero, at any point in the character’s history, but that little touch of heart often serves to mask his true intentions and/or feelings, adding a whole new layer to the character’s complexity.  One dimensional villains are fun, for a second, but they get boring fast.  Not Cold.  He remains fresh, and one of the villains I would be excited by, even after years of seeing him appear on the pages of DC comics.  Captain Cold is the definition of the characters I sought out to feature with this post; he is wicked cool, complex, and long running yet almost completely unknown.  So go out and show some respect to the master of absolute zero!  If ever an unknown character was deserving, it would be him.

Posted on: March 19th, 2009 Hero/Villain of the Week!

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His first appearance was in DC’s “Omega Men #3.”  His real name is unpronounceable, and roughly translates as “he who devours your entrails and thoroughly enjoys it.”  Yes, this week’s featured Hero/Villain is the nasty, the gritty, the universe’s most bad-ass contract killer and bounty hunter, the infamous Lobo.  The character was created by Roger Slifer and Keith Giffen.  Originally intended as a hardened, rarely-used noir villain in the 1980s, he languished in limbo until his revival as an anti-hero biker in the early 1990s.  The character was one of DC’s most popular characters throughout the 90s.  But his creators didn’t really understand his popularity:  ”I have no idea why Lobo took off,” Giffen once said in an interview. Referring to the 1990s incarnation of Lobo he created, he said, “I came up with him as an indictment of the Punisher, Wolverine, hero prototype and somehow he caught on as the high violence poster boy.  Go figure.”  He is known throughout the galaxy as the bounty hunter that never loses his prey.  Lobo is a one man army, and that’s why I think he is awesome.  No need for fancy words here, it just wouldn’t do Lobo any justice.  Lobo is one bad dude.  I love the character because he is like the manifestation of all things men secretly long for and secretly want to be, times a thousand.  The character is rude and crude, and if you can’t handle that, you might as well stop reading this now.  For those of you who don’t know anything about the most intense bounty hunter in the DC universe, here is a bio with some essential Lobo info:

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Lobo is the sole survivor of the planet Czarnia, once renowned as a tranquil paradise.  Lobo was trouble as soon as he was born, biting off the midwife’s fingers, chasing the doctors with scalpels, and frightening the delivery nurse to death.  As a child, he killed every caretaker he had.  Finally, he committed global genocide, creating a horde of lethal insects that slaughtered every last Czarnian.  Lobo then became a mercenary, leaving a trail of blood and corpses in his wake.  Once Lobo has targeted a victim, that person has little hope of escape and even less of winning ANY fight- for the only way to destroy Lobo is to vaporize every part of him, down to the last cell.  He is nearly impervious to physical attack.  Lobo has an uncanny ability to sense his opponent’s weaknesses, both physical AND mental.  He has an amazing genetic ability to replicate himself into an entire army of exact clones!  And he is just as well known as a bar-room brawler as he is a bounty hunter.  Crossing the galaxy on his intergalacticycle (the Hog) like a deep space Hell’s Angel, he has taken more than his fair share of lives, loot, and loves, in that order.  Don’t cross him, unless you want to die.

Physically, Lobo resembles a chalk-white human male with blood-red pupil-less eyes surrounded by black mascara-like patches.  Like many comic book characters, Lobo’s body is highly muscular.  He was originally portrayed as having neatly trimmed purple-grey hair, but this was soon redesigned to be a long, straggly, grey-black mane, and more recently into dreadlocks.  Similarly, the orange-and-purple leotard he wore in his first few appearances has long since been replaced by black leather biker gear, which more recently has been replaced with seemingly pirate-inspired gear.  His arsenal includes numerous guns and a chain with a hook on his right arm. Extra weapons may include “frag grenades” and giant carving blades.  Lobo possesses extraordinary strength of undefined limits.  Lobo also possesses superhuman durability.  If Lobo sustains injury, his accelerated healing factor enables him to regenerate damaged or destroyed tissue with superhuman speed and efficiency, and little apparent pain.  Lobo also is functionally immortal. He is immune to the effects of aging and disease and he has been banned from entering either Heaven or Hell.  As such, even though he can sustain sufficient injury to be out of commission for quite some time, he will apparently heal from any injury, given sufficient time. For instance, Lobo can regenerate out of a pool of his own blood, apparently recycling the cells.

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In addition to his ever-present lust for violence, Lobo also has a strict personal code of honor – he will never violate the letter of an agreement, although he may gleefully disregard its spirit.  He believes his word is his bond.  Lobo has some legendary stories, and has participated in some legendary battles.  Lobo eventually discovered Earth, and began challenging the planet’s greatest heroes, including Superman, Warrior, The Justice League of America, Hitman, Judge Dredd, Valor, Starman, The Ray, Deadman, and Green Lantern Guy Gardner (Lobo visits Warrior’s, Guy’s bar, where he enjoys free drinks) among others.  He was a part of the DC vs. Marvel Crossover event, in which he squares off with Wolverine… and loses in a battle in which the outcome was decided by real fans.  In the Amalgam Comics universe, Lobo is fused with Howard the Duck to become… Lobo the Duck!  If you don’t know anything about that, but you like your comics to make you laugh, I highly recommend you find that.  One of my personal favorite of these battles was Lobo’s encounter with Wonder Woman.  The story began with Lobo becoming a pawn of the Olympian Gods in their battle against Circe.  He went on to murder dozens of Amazonians, eventually being captured by Wonder Woman herself.  I’m sure you can imagine what a guy like Lobo would do when he encountered a woman like Diana.  

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Worthy of note are Lobo’s non-hero related appearances.  Lobo also appeared several times in the pages of The Authority. In one such appearance, Jenny Quantum finds a comic book detailing Lobo’s murder of Santa Claus, she experiences a fit of rage and confusion. She breaks the barrier between her dimension and the dimension Lobo inhabits in the comic book, and Lobo finds himself in a fight with The Authority.  In the two-part “Lobo vs The Mask” crossover, Lobo is hired for the sum of one billion credits by a council of survivors of several devastated planets to track down the individual responsible. His trail leads to Earth, where Lobo encounters the current wearer of an ancient mask.   That was a lot of fun, as far as cross-overs are concerned.  The last series I will mention is the ”Reign in Hell” miniseries.  ”Heaven doesn’t want him, and Hell certainly doesn’t either.  Lobo rampages through the afterlife…”    I highly recommend you check that one out too!

Lobo is listed as a Villain in the DC Comics Encyclopedia, but he has worked with heroes in the past.  I think that is what I find most interesting about him.  He is somewhat of an anti-hero, along the same lines of my all time favorite characters Deadpool.  In fact, if you look closely enough, you could draw a lot of comparisons between the two.  All of Lobo’s appearances are just plain fun; from the comic books to the various appearances in the DC animated universe’s series’.  It is important to note that one thing that all Lobo writers have agreed upon is that the character just shouldn’t take himself too seriously.  There is a lot of sarcasm and wit in the pages of all Lobo comics, in addition to the just plain silly.  Lobo can pull it off though.  Are you going to say anything to him about it?!?  Hell No!  It just doesn’t get any cooler than Lobo.  A character for real “manly men.”  Lobo will go down as one of the most interesting and complex characters in DC universe as well.  He may seem like a one-track mind, brutal killer, but I implore you to read some Lobo comics.  If you read enough, you will see there is more to this intergalactic bad ass than meets the eye.  But you have to dig to find it.  Gotta love me some Lobo.  So now you have some homework to do.  Until next time!

lobotheduckusethis

Posted on: March 12th, 2009 Hero/Villain of the week!

Today, I’m proud to announce the start of a new weekly post here at GKS, the “Hero/Villain of the week!” post.  In an effort to help promote the continued success of the comic book industry, I’ve decided to feature one hero or one villain each week.  I will choose randomly, and write something to help promote the character.  It is my sincerest hope that some of these featured characters will spark some curiosity amongst everyone.  Perhaps you’ll want to head right out to the local comic book shop and pick up an issue featuring the character; perhaps you’ll sign up for digital comics, or delivery of said comics right to your mailbox.  Maybe this will just give everyone some cool comic book knowledge, who knows?  What I do know is that there are a ton of comic characters out there that a lot of people don’t know much about,  all of them have some pretty interesting/cool/unique features that are just plain fun to read about.  You can “tune in” each Thursday to find out what the coolest comic characters are all about!  So, without further ado, I present to you the first entry in this weekly  series.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Marvel Comics’ very own, Moon Knight!

Marc Spector, a.k.a Moon Knight, is one tough hombre.  As he grew out of childhood and into manhood, he began to reject the ideals of his Rabbi father.  He could at that time be considered a materialist.    Before he became the Moon Knight, he spent time as a heavyweight boxer, a U.S. Marine, and as an operative for the C.I.A.  In those endeavors, Marc became a skilled combatant.   Of course, the best job for  a skilled combatant in the world of comics is assassin.  So with that in mind, Marc and his close friend frenchie (Jean-Paul DuChamp) set off to work for the African mercenary Raoul Bushman.   While working for Bushman, he came across an archaeological dig whose crew included Dr. Peter Alraune and his daughter Marlene.  They had uncovered an ancient temple where artifacts included a statue of the Egyptian god Khonshu. Bushmen wanted to loot the area, and proceeded to kill Dr Alraune.  Marc didn’t take too kindly to that, and he challenges Bushman to personal combat.  He was beaten nearly to death and left to die in the sub-zero temperatures of the desert night.  Roaming Egyptians who worship the ancient Egyptian gods find Marc and carry him to their temple.   Lying before the statue of Khonshu, Marc’s heart stops.   Khonshu appears to him in a vision, offering Marc a second chance at life if he becomes the god’s avatar on earth.  Marc then awakens, wraps himself with the silver shroud that covers Khonshu’s statue, and again confronts Bushman.   He promptly defeats Bushman and returned to America with Marlene Alraune, Frenchie, and the statue of Khonshu.   It was then that he decided to become a crime-fighter.  Marc created a silver cloaked costume, based on the silver shroud, and became the Moon Knight!

I really like the origin story here.  It is based in mythology, which is something that I always found quite interesting.  It is a very “cookie cutter” type origin, containing elements that you would expect from the origin of the typical hero stereotype.  But it’s the mythology, the connection to Khonshu, that intrigues me.    Covering his origin is all well and good, but there is much more to the hero than just a silver cloaked costume.  Marc combats criminals and villains alike using special “moon-themed” projectile weaponry.  The Moon Knight’s weaponry has a very “unique” origin itself.  In the “Fist of Khonshu” mini-series, Marc abandons his Moon Knight identity.   The cult of Khonshu telepathically summons him to Egypt.   There, they give him a small arsenal of moon-themed projectile weaponry, such as throwing discs and crescent-shaped blades, originally designed by a time-traveling Hawkeye (another hero, famous for his unique bow and arrow skills) in ancient Egypt.   Khonshu himself appears to Marc and enters his body, giving him superhuman strength which waxes and wanes with the phases of the moon.  Over the course of his life as a U.S. Marine, boxer, mercenary, C.I.A. operative and costumed superhero, Marc Spector has become an expert at commando hand-to-hand combat techniques and various martial arts.   He is an Olympic-level athlete and a skilled acrobat and gymnast, and excels as a combat strategist.  It is also suggested that he may have supernatural abilities as the result of a werewolf biting his silver costume.  But that is questionable.  Moon Knight  is said to be as strong as ten men under the full moon, though his strength is normal under a new moon or an eclipse. 

Many consider the Moon Knight to be crazy.  Aside from the fact that he claims to do the work of an Egyptian god, he also has three different personalities.   There is Marc Spector, and then he created two other personalities to distance himself from his mercenary days.  He created millionaire entrepreneur Steven Grant, using this identity to purchase a spacious estate.   To remain in contact with the common man, he created the identity of taxicab driver Jake Lockley.  Moon Knight’s three alter egos aid him as much in dealing with personal demons as fighting law-breakers.  They have also taken a further psychological toll of causing dissociative identity disorder.  Whatever his motives are, I still believe Moon Knight to be a hero, and the other heroes in the Marvel Universe do too.  But it is hard to overlook the psychosis of Marc Spector.  Just another one of the reasons why I love the character so much.  You don’t get much insanity from super heroes.  Typically, it is the villains that are insane.  It makes his comics interesting; different and distinct.  There just aren’t many “heroes” like Marc.

The Moon Knight has an impressive rogue gallery, which includes:  Black Spectre, Bluebeard, Bora, Bullseye, Raoul Bushman, The Committee, Midnight Man, Morpheus, The Profile, Taskmaster, Stained Glass Scarlet, and The Werewolf.  The most intriguing of them all would have to be Midnight Man ( Jeff Wilde), as he was once the Moon Knight’s sidekick.  There is a very interesting back-story there, and long history, but you’ll have to pick up the comic to catch that one.  Hey, I can’t give them all away!   

There are some really good Moon Knight issues I suggest you all check out.  First and foremost, required reading for any potential Moon Knight fan is the afore-mentioned “Fist of Konshu” series.  The longest running Moon Knight series lasted about 60 issues, and took place after the “Fist of Konshu” series.   There were some great stories in those issues.  The most critically acclaimed series though came in 1998 and was called “High Strangeness.”  Comics Buyer’s Guide Fan award for Favorite Limited Series.  That was great.  The Moon Knight has also appeared in some of Marvel’s larger events, including Civil War, House of M, and he was a part of the Ultimate universe.  Moon Knight has appeared in other media too.  He was a playable character in the next-gen versions of Marvel:  Ultimate Alliance (and I hope he’s in the sequel!)  and there was an announced Moon Knight t.v. series.  It was a while ago, and not much news on the subject has broke recently.  Writer Jon Cooksey stated that he is in fact working on the project.

I highly recommend the Moon Knight to all of you because of the unique perspective shown in his comics.  The guy is insane; he has multiple personalities!  How many heroes do you know that have multiple personalities?  Moon Knight comics are very visceral, brutal, and twisted.  That’s why I like them.  It’s not a Spidey comic, that’s for sure.  With a strong rogue gallery and loads of story telling potential, it’s just plain odd that the character hasn’t taken off yet.  Maybe this post will help.  We can make the Moon Knight an A-list hero!  So if you have the means to do it, check him out!  You won’t be disappointed.