Advertisements

Tag Archive: Avengers


Animated Tony Stark Disney XD

Disney XD will air a one-hour preview to the new animated series, Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, Sunday, May 26, 2013.  The series features the entire slate of Avengers characters, including Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Hawkeye, and Black Widow, plus some superheroes and villains that have not yet made it to the big screen Avengers movies like Falcon and M.O.D.O.K.  The special preview airs at 10 a.m. Central Time Sunday and the regular weekly series begins its first season July 7, 2013, on the Disney XD channel.

Avengers Marvel animated

Avengers Assemble features the voice of Heroes’ Nathan Petrelli, Adrian Pasdar, in the star role as Tony Stark/Iron Man, and a slate of voice actors familiar to superhero animated series.

Continue reading

Advertisements

hansel-and-gretel-witch-hunters banner

Review by C.J. Bunce

Every bit like a crazy and dark Sam Raimi production, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters takes an already creepy Grimm fairy tale and amplifies it into a bloody Rated R monster movie.  It is as true as you could probably hope to get to the spirit of the original story of two kids who outwit a witch in a house made of candy.  We even get to see the original tale laid out nearly verbatim to the centuries-old story, including the triumph of the kids who foil the witch and throw her into the oven.

H and G

But that is only the beginning of the tale, and this is the story after the story, a sequel where Hansel and Gretel become mercenaries who hire themselves out to small forest towns to rid them of the plague of witches who have stolen nearly a dozen children.  Witch Hunters never takes itself seriously.  Images of the missing children end up on printed broadsides on the 1800 version of a milk bottle.  And after decades of consuming candy, Hansel is diabetic (he has the “sugar” disease) and must take an early form of insulin to prevent him from dying.

Famke Janssen in Witch Hunters

Harkening back to the German origins of the fairy tale, Witch Hunters is a German production with lots of German design influences.  Like the original Grimm tales this is a violent and gory story.  Witches are instantly the unsympathetic villains who are bad for bad’s sake.  Led by the beautiful Famke Janssen, who for most of the film dons some impressive prosthetics, these witches are the stuff of the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz.  A motley assemblage of Halloween-esque witches with brooms don dark garb on their own evil sabbath day and congregate in a spot in the woods in something strangely similar to an annual rally in Sturgis.

Continue reading

Now at Round 7 of the ongoing battle, Avengers vs. X-Men has caught up with the plot foreseen in Avengers vs. X-Men Issue #0 reviewed here 100 days ago.  When you think of a title like Avengers vs. X-Men, you think of panel after panel of the Hulk vs. Colossus, Iron Man vs. Emma Frost or Cyclops vs. Captain America and everyone else.  It’s what you’d expect for an event series like this, and for the most part it is what has been delivered.  But Avengers vs. X-Men Issue #0 was unexpected, a story about the return of the exiled Scarlet Witch and the coming of age of a mutant youngster named Hope, both characters whose paths are in a state of flux.  With Issue #7, AvX is now honing in on this initial focus again, raising questions like “How will Scarlet Witch fit back into the Marvel Universe?”  “Is Hope really the key to the fate of the Phoenix?”  “Is Jean Grey gone for good, or is this all leading up to some kind of return?”

If you haven’t been reading the series, a lot has happened, yet nothing substantial or Earth-shattering to alter any key characters for their own ongoing stories, except the death of Hawkeye (more on that later).  The strange, classical, fiery, mythical Phoenix slams into Earth from beyond the stars.  This Phoenix Force was supposedly destined for the girl Hope, who is being over-trained for her destiny at the Utopia coastal base by Cyclops’s Scott Summers, doing his best Jillian Michaels impersonation.  But you press a kid too far and what do you expect as a result?

The Avengers–including X-Man Wolverine–believe that they must take Hope into their protective custody, thinking that no one entity can be trusted to harness this Phoenix Force and use it for the good of mankind.  But Summers won’t hear of it.  More and more over the series it seems that his feelings for Jean Grey, killed by the Phoenix years before, are causing him to make poor decisions.  He is a poor leader.  His actions take all the superheroes farther away from a solution.  Ultimately Wolverine’s inside knowledge allows the Avengers to track down Hope.  The conflict ends with a face-off on the “blue side” of the Moon.

Iron Man Tony Stark builds powerful “Phoenix Killer” armor that is somehow both effective and a failure in the attempt to ward off the Phoenix Force.  Stark’s suit divides the force, and instead of it being absorbed by Hope, five X-Men take it on: Cyclops, Colossus, Magik, Prince Namor and Emma Frost.  Now armed with this strange new power, they’re determined to alter the world for the better–at least as they see it.  We’re left with Cyclops’s unsettling declaration, “No more Avengers!”  He believes the mutants will never be safe without their elimination.  And the pursuit continues.  The battle is the same as found in countless other stories, fiction and non-fiction–seemingly unlimited power in the possession of a single being or a handful of beings cannot be allowed to continue because it always ends badly.

The frustration that must be felt by readers is that all of these powerful beings, including geniuses like the Beast and Iron Man, cannot sit down and work out a plan.  Of course we don’t pull a Marvel Comic to read about mediation of disputes.  And so with Issue #7 battle after battle ensues on all parts of the globe.  A smoke and mirrors, cat and mouse global chase occurs, hiding Hope, hiding the Scarlet Witch.  This includes the Avengers using amulets that allow several people to pose as the Scarlet Witch, in turn causing the X-Men to be unable to find the real Wanda Maximoff.   There is also a scene where Hawkeye is fried by the power of the Phoenix and he is dead, and you finally think some stakes have been raised, then Cyclops brings him back to life and it was all a bit of a tease.  The story is choppy here–Tony Stark seems out of character, not the typical tough guy but a bit wimpy, including a scene where Black Panther slaps him.  It just seems out-of-place (but still a bit funny).  The Scarlet Witch’s presence saves the day again–the X-Men really fear her and so we see some real conflict as they back away from her, leaving an opening for Namor to move in to strike.

The various writers and artists at Marvel have put a lot into this series so far and it shows.  It’s hard for a reader to get his/her arms around all that’s happening with so many characters in each issue, yet various scenes work well and keep you hanging in there and coming back for more.  But there are a number of threads that will need to be tied up in the remaining issues and it continues to be interesting finding out where the story is heading.  Is there too much going on?  Yes.  Too many characters?  Yes, the opening pages show a roster of so many and most don’t have any real presence.  For all the action occurring, the story is moving pretty slowly forward, and you can only hope the payoff is not saved for the last issue as often happens with highly promoted mini-series.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

By Jason McClain (@JTorreyMcClain)

When the idea first came around to write the top five adaptations of comic books, video games, books or characters that I’d like to see, I thought, “Great, what a great idea.”  Then, it slowly dawned on me.  I hate adaptations in most every case.  Seabiscuit?  Hated it.  The Lorax?  That looks so despicable, I refuse to give it my money.  Harry Potter?  I will never trust anyone that says, “No really, the next one is when they start getting good.”

The next thing I realized is that in some, possibly misguided, corner of my mind, there are still some things that I’d like to adapt.  Stories that captured my attention and that are on my list of things to write after I finish my current project.  I may never get to them, especially since a couple have been on my list for a while, but hope spring eternal, especially at this time of year.

So, how would I approach this?  First, I have to assume that I trust the filmmaker, like I trust Peter Jackson after the The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  I know that’s not a rational assumption.  For every Fellowship of the Rings that Jackson did, there’s a filmmaker who does Batman and Robin, Iron Man 2 or any Harry Potter movie.  For every V for Vendetta that takes Alan Moore material and makes it great, there’s a From Hell or Watchmen and I go back to hating adaptations.

To make a great adaptation, the filmmaker has to respect the source (don’t get me started on Michael Bay and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), understand the vibe of the source and still be willing to go off script and put their own voice into it.  I wonder if instead of a shot for shot remake, if Gus Van Sant had done something new with Psycho, it would have worked.  The cynic in me doubts it very much, but the optimist wonders mostly to himself that it could have been interesting if nothing else.  A shot for shot remake with Anne Heche instead of Janet Leigh?  Why not just watch the original?

So, what does that leave to adapt?  I think it leaves things that I don’t consider sacred and fortunately that still leaves plenty.  I’m not saying these aren’t favorites, but I think they could work nicely as adaptations.  Just to make it more interesting, not only will I choose the five things to adapt, but make them in five different genres.  First the honorable mentions: American Gods (tough to make, but in the hands of someone like Tarsem Singh who did the underrated The Fall there would be some cool, trippy otherworld sequences) and Geek Love (come on, aren’t we due for a great carnie movie?).  Now, let’s do the countdown.

5.  Red Dead Redemption – Genre: Western

I don’t know if there has been a good video game movie.  However, if they follow the story of Red Dead Redemption they’ve already got a pretty cool cinematic western.  John Marston plays the typical western hero of a former rogue looking for redemption and trying to save his wife and child.  It’s been done many different times, but if you have good actors, good scenery and good dialogue to go with this story, it could work.  I can’t tell you much more about this particular story;  I just know that I’m still surprised that a video game actually moved me.

   

4.  Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew – Genre: Animated Feature

Originally, this spot was for The Invaders as I love a good WWII movie and there’s nothing better than fighting Nazis.  Then, as I wrote it, I mentioned some other favorite comic book characters: The Powerpuff Girls and Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew and how they would look cool fighting Nazis as well.  Then, I kept reading it over and over, and since Captain America: The First Avenger already went back to World War II, there’s not much space for The Invaders.  There won’t be more Bucky.  There won’t be the original Human Torch, Toro, Union Jack or Namor, the Sub-Mariner.  The Powerpuff Girls already have a TV show and a movie.  However, if you’re looking for a silly parody of super groups as an alternative to The Avengers or I have to assume an eventual Justice League movie, then look no further than Captain Carrot, Yankee Poodle, Fastback, Pig Iron, Alley-Kat-Abra and Rubberduck.  If they can fight the Nazis, that might be the perfect movie.

3.  Doomsday Book by Connie Willis – Genre: Medieval England Period Piece and Sci-Fi

C.J. Bunce introduced me to Connie Willis at his first San Diego Comic-Con when we went to a panel she did, and I read a few of her novels and found them charming, interesting and fun.  I think the appeal to adapting Doomsday Book comes from glimpsing a true epidemic in the form of the black plague in the eyes of someone from the future.  I didn’t like Contagion much, so maybe the book adaptation of Doomsday Book could effectively show the terror of an incurable disease spreading and the feeling of helplessness that follows.  For the protagonist Kivrin, trying to not reveal you’re from the future adds a great layer to that tension, having to remain disconnected while not being sure if she’ll ever leave this doomed time.

2.  Sleeper by Ed Brubaker – Genre: Noir

I’ve written about Sleeper in two previous Borg.com posts, so you know how much I like it.  I also think that it would make a fantastic film noir.  You have the femme fatale in Miss Misery, you have a guy that doesn’t know what’s good or bad anymore and you have crime galore.  If that’s not a great film noir, with bonus super powers, I don’t know what is.

1.  The Great American Novel by Philip Roth – Genre: Baseball Comedy

The Great American Novel might be one of my favorite baseball books of all time.  I took it in the third round of a baseball book draft.  (I knew it would last until then, so I grabbed The Boys of Summer and The Glory of Their Times with my first two picks).  The story of the Ruppert Mundys and the forgotten Patriot League as told by “Word” Smith (thanks, Wikipedia) would run circles around Moneyball the movie.  I think the fictional 14-year-old manager (I think that’s the age – goodness, I need to buy a copy of this book to read again and so I can look up such queries) would make a better representative of sabermetrics than the “fictional” Peter Brand.

Moneyball the book was my fifth round choice in the baseball draft – and just another perfect example of how I dislike movie adaptations of books that I enjoy.  As much as I would like to see this list made into movies now that I’ve written this post, my gut tells me it’s probably better if they’re not.

Come back tomorrow and C.J. Bunce searches out some choices he think would be difficult to adapt but fun to watch.

        

It’s like the Canadian band Barenaked Ladies said in their hit song:  It’s all been done before.

But of course it hasn’t.

We sometimes tell ourselves that when we run out of ideas.  But just as much as there are always going to be millions more stories for writers to tell, there are stories out there already created that are waiting to reach a new audience.  Stories we love, but stories that we’d really love to see transformed into another medium– onto the TV or silver screen.  These are the film adaptations.  And they are a key part of movies of any genre.  The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences even has their own Oscar for adapted screenplay that often coincides with the Best Picture winner.

What are your favorite stories?  Have they all been made into movies?  Do you wish that any of them would be turned into a movie?  Do you wish most of them hadn’t been made into movies?  What stories would you like to see that have not yet been adapted to film?

You can adapt anything into a movie if you’re creative enough.  The biggest source for adaptations are books.  The result?  Some are good (Jaws, Godfather, To Kill a Mockingbird, Jurassic Park) and some bad (like every live action film based on Dr. Seuss/Theodor Geisel, who must be turning in his grave at what happened to his franchise after his death), or even hopelessly bad (like The da Vinci Code, which should probably not have merited a novel in the first place).   A painting by Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer inspired a novel and then a film adaptation—The Girl with a Pearl Earring.  The movie Ever After takes a fairy tale and merges it with a painting of Leonardo da Vinci’s Head of  Woman to create both a retelling and an alternate history of sorts, placing Leonardo himself in the middle of the fairy tale.

The Phantom of the Opera was turned from a theatrical musical into a movie (and even the reverse happens, as Sunset Boulevard went from film to musical).  The video games Tron, Doom, Resident Evil, and Tomb Raider all have been adapted into movies (how about Pitfall?).  Even the Parker Brothers games Clue and the Milton Bradley game Battleship have been adapted into film (wouldn’t it be great to try again with the characters in Clue?).

Wait long enough and even classic TV gets made into movies, like The Dukes of Hazzard, The Addams Family, The Brady Bunch, and the new Johnny Depp adaptation of Dark Shadows.  Last week the BBC reported that Bob Dylan’s album Blood on the Tracks is currently being made into a movie (and the album itself was even inspired by the short stories of Anton Chekhov), and the story of the song Amazing Grace (with Ioan Gruffudd and Benedict Cumberbatch) hit theaters only a few years ago.  Then there are adaptations of a writer’s angle on some famous or infamous figure in real life, like Schindler’s List—the biopic or historical adaptation is everywhere–but usually starts with the novel.  And even newspaper articles can end up as the original source for an award winning film, like All the President’s Men.  Certainly last but not least, comic books and graphic novels are the current rage, with movies adapted from Road to Perdition to Cowboys & Aliens to the soon to be released Avengers.

Source material for film adaptations is virtually unlimited.

We’ve asked our four borg.com writers not what the best adaptations are, but instead what are their picks for what should be the next adaptation from Hollywood.  What are the top 5-10 books, comic books, video games, or characters, etc. you’d like to see adapted into a movie—that haven’t been adapted yet?  We’ll start with Art Schmidt’s take on would-be adaptations tomorrow.

Review by C.J. Bunce

Last week we reported on the early release of eagerly awaited new series Avengers vs. X-Men.  With the first issue upon us of Avengers vs X-Men we get to see Round One of the twelve rounds to be featured over 24 weeks in the main series, with 19 main issues, and 20 other Marvel Comics titles tying in to this AvX event.  Here are two checklists to help you keep track (click to enlarge):

        

Spoilers ahead!

Issue #1 starts out with a bang, a big bang, as the Phoenix Force is launched from far away on a trajectory toward Earth.  In front of that force hurtling toward our planet is Nova, a character long-feared dead who ends up causing the destruction of the Empire State Building in New York City as he plunges to the Earth’s surface, taking an airliner down with him.  The status of any lives taken is unknown, but the Avengers, including Ms. Marvel, Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Hawkeye, Protector, Black Widow, Beast, Captain Britain, Valkyrie and a few others, do their best to quickly mitigate the losses.

Meanwhile we learn that Cyclops is busy training Hope, who was the focus of the prologue for Avengers vs. X-Men in Issue #0.  Hope is understandably frustrated, believing that the Phoenix Force is somehow targeting her, and the X-Men will not help her adequately with answers.  Hope carries an energy signature similar to that of the Phoenix Force, and when she gets angry she sets this off, and the blast that is caused tips off the Avengers that they need to take some kind of action.

Captain America and Iron Man meet with the President and the joint chiefs in Washington, DC and explain the nature of the threat.

Captain America enlists the support of Wolverine and heads to the island of Utopia to take Hope into protective custody, but Cyclops has other plans.  Cyclops was once in love with Jean Grey, who became part of Phoenix and killed herself trying to contain the immense power of the Phoenix Force years ago.  So Cyclops thinks there is some special meaning in the arrival of the Phoenix Force, like it might be a good thing.  And there is no way he will release Hope to the Avengers.

The X-Men, including Emma Frost, Magneto, Colossus, and Namor, stand behind Cyclops’s effort to keep Captain America from taking Hope away.  Captain America is thrown back by Cyclops’s rays, but he has brought with him a ship full of the Avengers, and as this first issue concludes the first battle is upon us–a fight between the Avengers and the X-Men, over Hope.

This first chapter scripted by Brian Michael Bendis, but created by all the “Marvel Architects”–Jason Aaron, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman, and Matt Fraction–is well-paced.  The steps that occur are not complicated so there is no confusion and the story is easy to follow.  Despite the volume of characters, they, too, are easy to keep track of.  I wasn’t dazzled by John Romita, Jr.’s artwork in this issue–everything seems to “just happen” visually with little stylization, and there are no memorable single images that stand out.  But neither does the art stand in the way of the story, which has a lot to cram into the single issue page count.  All-in-all, so far, so good.  I’m reminded of the Marvel Superheroes Secret Wars limited series from decades ago, where readers get the pleasure of seeing the whole cast of characters in the Marvel Universe all as part of a common cause.

The crazy stand-out of this first issue are the several versions printed, including all these variants, some selling for $175 and up for the 1 in 200 exclusives.  Hopefully the hype settles and the coming issues simply take readers on a good ride.

Here is a checklist of the Avengers vs X-Men Issue #1 cover variations for all you completists out there:

Regular cover by Jim Cheung - Price $3.99

Avengers Team Common Variant - Price $3.99

X-Men Team Common Variant - Price $3.99

Sketch Cover Common Variant - $3.99

Midtown Comics Exclusive Wraparound Cover Side 1 - Price $8.00

Midtown Comics Exclusive Wraparound Cover Side 2 - Price $8.00

Ryan Stegman Incentive Variant Cover - Price $85

Hastings Stores Variant Cover - Price $8.00

Ryan Stegman Rare 1:200 Incentive Sketch Variant Cover - Price $175

John Romita, Jr. 1:25 Incentive Variant Cover - Price $15.00

Dynamic Forces Exclusive Variant Signed by Stan Lee (image may vary) - Price $399

Dynamic Forces John Romita, Sr. Signed Cover Edition (image may vary) - Price $69.99

Which version did I buy?  I got the first issue that Jason Aaron signed, with a note by Jason on the sketch cover version…

Review by C.J. Bunce

Fear Itself, the seven issue limited series that has taken over all the Marvel Comics titles for the past seven months, just wrapped.  Fear Itself was written by Matt Fraction, one of the Marvel Architects, those guys who are building the future of the Marvel franchise with superb art by Stuart Immonen.  No doubt with Fear Itself, the construction of a Herculean storyline that spans all titles must have taken a fair amount of coordination.  And it looks like it had to be fun to write and draw.

Fear Itself became the summer subtitle for Marvel, you couldn’t escape it, and even as someone who was not a regular Marvel reader I picked up the seven issues of the main title to read them once the series concluded, along with Seth Peck’s three issue run on Fear Itself: Wolverine tie-in, which I haven’t read yet.

Midway through issue two I was reminded of past Marvel world catastrophe storylines, like my first introduction as a kid in the 12-issue Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars and follow-up Secret Wars II series, which I also bought and read as a set once the series had concluded.  Also, Marvel’s Civil War mini-series from only a few years ago, that resulted in Spider-man revealing his true identity and Captain America Steve Rogers’ death.  I was reminded because you can’t just casually read these series.  With all of these, a lot happens, there is a lot to absorb, and you only get full value by going back and re-reading each issue.  What helps with this series is each issue gives a Star Wars type summary crawl of where the story stands at the beginning of each issue–a re-cap– and a cast of characters, so you can keep track of the difference between Odin and the All-father, for example, two guys drawn similarly that had me only slightly confused until their storylines became finer tuned.

Spoilers!

The baddie of the series is the red-faced, ugly daughter of Red Skull named Sin.  In issue 1, fear has already gripped the world, with general strife, Wall Street uncertainty, economic disaster, protests, etc…. real world kinds of things.  Steve Rogers and his Avengers are trying to keep peace across the globe.  Iron Man Tony Stark has corporate solutions.  Meanwhile Sin seeks out a frozen Nazi stronghold buried far away by Red Skull, to find a powerful hammer that unleashes the beginning of the end of a great and horrible prophesy.  She unleashes on old, banished warrior called the All-Father from the depths of the ocean with the power of the hammer.  Odin learns of this and leaves Earth with other Gods, despite his son Thor’s protestations.  The fighting between Odin and Thor is not new, and a little humorous because you know how it always ends.  By the end of issue 1 the All-Father summons his “Worthy,” seven objects that come to Earth like meteors…

Issue 2 picks up with each meteor actually a hammer finding a hero on Earth and taking over each of them and turning them into seemingly indestructible beings devasting the planet.  The heroes become the villains, or at least, the tools of their destruction.  This includes Juggernaut, Attuma, Absorbing Man, The Hulk, and my favorite here, Titania, who becomes “Skirn: Breaker of Men.”  By the end of this issue Sin is marching on Washington, DC, destroying the capital building.

In issue 3 we learn that the last hammer ends up turning Ben Grimm aka The Thing into the last of the “Worthy.”  Bucky Barnes, donning the Captain America suit, leads the Avengers into a direct battle with Sin, only to be struck down and killed.

In Issue 4 Odin embarks on his journey to destroy all of Earth in order to ensure destruction of the All-Father–to ensure the terror will end as only he has faced this menace before and he knows the seven “avatars” are more powerful than anything the planet has yet faced.  Nothing trivial for Marvel in this storyline!  The All-Father seems to be thriving on the world’s fear, gaining power.  He summons a sleeping army of the dead, prompting a humorous line from Tony Stark “we’re gonna need a bigger boat.”  In a Luke and Darth moment, the All-Father reveals his true identity to Thor–that he is Odin’s brother and the true King of Asgard.  Thor is left to confront…

In Issue 5 Thor confronts none other than The Hulk and The Thing–sure, not themselves, but a fun brawl and circumstance nonetheless, setting up the money shot for this series in a nice knockdown.  Steve Rogers shatters his Captain America shield in battle and as he realizes the Avengers are going to lose the war in the end, he let’s Spider-man go off try to find his missing aunt.  Is all lost for our super-friends???

By this time, readers have read so many Marvel character ads you need a break.  Sleepwear, gum, even Marvel Slurpees…at least Twilight doesn’t get everyone’s marketing dollars!  Hmm…where’s my DVR for comics…

Issue 6!  The action picks up.  Having told off Odin himself, Tony Stark is allowed to help the Asgard fight, earning Odin’s respect, and gets to fight alongside Thor and Odin at Asgard.  A very cool moment for Iron Man and the second high point of the series.  The issue ends with Steve Rogers, Captain America, ready to have the final stand directly on Earth with the King of Asgard.

Finally, the end is here in a double-sized final issue called “Thor’s Day.”  Tony Stark has used the gods’ workshop to build mystic weapons to help the heroes fight on Earth.  Odin has given Thor the Ragnarok, a powerful sword, and a set of armor for battle…

OK, enough spoilers.  Iron Man brings magic weapons for everyone…except for Captain America, since Stark knows nothing is better than that shield, yet he didn’t know it was lost in battle.  But that doesn’t stop this 1940s era Cap from leading the Avengers anyway…  the rest is full of action, nice pacing all-around and what you’d call a “shocker” ending.

More valuable for the Marvel reader are the several denouements, more than even in Lord of the Rings: Return of the King….the seventh issue is a must read for anyone reading Marvel with the ongoing lead-ins for the rest of the Marvel Universe… like Sin’s fate to be revealed in The Fearless, a strange happening to the Hulk after he recovers in the new Incredible Hulk #1… and a lot more.

I am not sure where Fear Itself stands with respect to past Marvel cataclysm mini-series or even DC Comics big-event Crisis series, but it’s a a fun read and, for the hundreds of characters that the writers and artists attempted to incorporate into this series, the result was pretty successful.  A hardcover version is due out from Marvel soon and now available for pre-order from Amazon.

Last weekend Marvel Comics and Feld Entertainment (the company that runs the Barnum and Bailey Circus and major monster truck rallies) previewed a one-day only monster truck event to take place July 14, 2012 at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium.  The companies plan to bring the Marvel Super Heroes to life as monster trucks in Marvel Monstergeddon: Super Hero Smash Up.

As part of Comic-Con weekend, Marvel and Feld took over the Culy Warehouse at 335 6th Avenue to preview the event, including an unveiling of one of the 10,000 pound monster trucks that will represent one of the Marvel super heroes, Iron Man, created for Marvel Monstergeddon, as well as a re-created truck flying over the streetside of the building.  No doubt a lot of younger kids will like the Marvel/monster truck link-up.

Feld representatives previewed the storyline, which will include motorsports stunts and the expected loud, destructive, monster truck battles between Marvel Comics heroes and villains.  The trucks will take down giant buildings reflecting comic scenes from various comic titles, including the Amazing Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and the Avengers.  The event will include high-tech pyrotechnics and light effects.

Ticket sales began last week and are ongoing.  Tickets are available through Ticketmaster, and include a $50 ticket per person with a minimum of two tickets per order (prices subject to change).  Purchasers will also get a limited edition Captain America #1 variant cover comic book hand signed by Stan Lee, which might result in sales just for the autographed Stan Lee book.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

2011, Paramount Pictures & Marvel Studios

Running Time: 115 mins

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Kenneth Branagh (Henry V, Hamlet, Frankenstein)

Starring: Chris Hemsworth (Star Trek 2009), Natalie Portman (Your Highness, Star Wars Prequel Trilogy, V for Vendetta), Anthony Hopkins (Beowulf, Dracula, The Silence of the Lambs)

Reviewed by Art Schmidt

I am so psyched for The Avengers movie.  It was one of my favorite mags from my youth and the movies leading up to it so far have been stellar (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, and okay, so Iron Man 2 was hurried and a bit retread and less than stellar, but it was still ok).  Marvel’s big risk on its movie division has thus far been a huge success, and its every comic book fan’s dream come true; comic stories on the big screen, in the hands of intelligent, smart, savvy comic people.

Enter Thor, The God of Thunder.  I was never a big fan of the Son of Odin as an Avenger.  He always seemed like he was just hanging around for the hell of it, stronger and more powerful than the other members of the team, but in the background just waiting to step in.  Then, when it was his turn he would come to the forefront with a large-font, bold narration like ‘They forget a God walks among them!’ and then he’d kick the bad guy’s butt or otherwise set everything all right.

Something always bothered me about that.  So, when I heard the initial line-up of movies leading up to The Avengers, I cringed just a bit at the Thor title.  But Chris Hemsworth’s youthful arrogance and the excellent writing of Ashley Miller (X-Men: First Class, Fringe, and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) has put those fears to rest.   Thor is a solid addition to the Marvel Entertainment library.

The Asgard we’re presented is beautiful, if displayed in the movie as a somewhat finite realm, and the story is fast-paced, lacking in holes and fits in very well with the larger world that Marvel is skillfully creating for fans.  The small New Mexico town Thor is banished to by his father is a bit quaint and convenient for the story, but it works well enough.  Natalie Portman plays the scientist / love-interest, but the script keeps the sparks low and just enough to support Thor’s believable, if brief, journey to redemption.  Tom Hiddleston is sublime as Thor’s jealous brother Loki, keeping everyone (including the audience) guessing as to his true intentions throughout.  Anthony Hopkins is…  Well, he’s Anthony Hopkins, and he’s Odin, and he’s great.

S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Agent Coulson takes on a larger role in this movie than in the Iron Man pictures, leading a team to try to secure and examine Mjolnir, Thor’s mighty hammer.  Among the S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives is Clint Barton, the soon-to-be Hawkeye played by Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, The Town) at his smarmy best.  His few lines in the movie are classic Hawk: annoyed at waiting for the signal to take down a rampaging human Thor, Clint smirks and mutters into his com-link “You better call it Coulson, ‘cause I’m starting to root for this guy.”

I was a bit surprised to find that the large metal monster in the previews was not Ultron or an Ultron forerunner; from the previews I fully expected it to be a lead-in for The Avengers’ arch-enemy to show up in the Avengers movie.  However, it wasn’t a big disappointment, and all in all, Thor is a great comic movie, with plenty of tie-ins to both the previous and up-coming Marvel movies.  It boldly stakes out its place in the Marvel Movie Universe and left me wanting Captain America: The First Avenger to come out tomorrow.  Oh, well, I guess a few weeks’ waiting won’t turn me green.