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Tag Archive: Marvel Comics


 

Most fans of the sixty-year Marvel Comics multi-title property X-Men have been reading X-Men books for years.  Hundreds of characters have been woven into more than 8,000 pages and dozens of monthly titles, and very few can really count themselves experts on the entirety of the history of the mutant heroes.  To catch up, new readers can pick up omnibus editions from any of the past six decades going back to 1963.  But a new mini-series beginning with only two hefty 40-page, no advertisement issues aims to get you caught up on the series first 30 years in the time it takes Quicksilver to zip around the world and back.

X-Men: Grand Design is exactly that, an epic story pulling together every major story and many minor ones in what is in essence new, classic style comic strips assembled into a comic book anthology.  Cartoonist Ed Piskor, known for his Eisner winning series Hip Hop Family Tree, came up with the idea, pitched it to Marvel, and took off on his own as the sole creator, writer, artist, letterer, and colorist.  Both the first and second issues, the “First Genesis,” are available at comic book stores now, and like a musician’s “fake book,” anyone can read these two issues with no prior knowledge of the X-Men, jump into the movies or grab a recent spin-off series, and walk away with a firm grasp on the characters.

 

You’ll meet The Watcher as he hones in on Earth primarily to witness the impact of the Phoenix Force on Jean Grey–the best character that surfaces in the first issue.  Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner decimates New York, followed by the birth of Charles Xavier, then we witness Magneto’s backstory, Xavier’s relationships with step-brother Cain Marko aka the Juggernaut, Moira MacTaggert, and Gabrielle Haller, and Xavier’s collection of mutants Jean Grey, Scott Summers, Angel, Hank, Red Raven, Iceman, Pyro, Rogue, and Marvel Girl.  Magneto recruits Wanda and Pietro Maximoff.  And villains abound, including the Mutant Master, Shi-ar, Mister Sinister, Bolivar Trask, The Conquistador, Morlocks, the Blob, Unus the Untouchable, Mesmero, Mastermind, Count Nefaria, the Mimic, Banshee, and Sauron.  We even learn of Xavier’s son David (the focus of the current FXX series Legion) and Magneto’s daughter Lorna (but we see no apparent connection yet between Magneto and Quicksilver).

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Review by C.J. Bunce

You probably haven’t had this much fun watching a rollicking fantasy movie this cool since you first saw the 1980 Flash Gordon movie starring Sam Jones, Max Von Sydow, Melody Anderson, Timothy Dalton, and Brian Blessed, accompanied by that memorable Queen soundtrack.  It shouldn’t be hard to believe–seven weeks from its premiere and Thor: Ragnarok continues to sell-out theater screenings across the country.  In a year full of so many comic book adaptations, and great ones at that, from Logan and Logan Noir to Spider-man: Homecoming, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and even The LEGO Batman Movie, this was a great year for comic books on film.  But Thor: Ragnarok rivaled them all from an entertainment standpoint.  In many ways Thor: Ragnarok is a natural progression from both the past Thor films and the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.  But something about director Taika Waititi’s vision for Avengers Thor and Hulk in this latest film changed how the MCU can entertain.  Instead of focusing on the events that the earlier Marvel entries–and comic books–are best known for, events like Civil War, Waititi returned to the reason we all turn to superheroes for entertainment:  it’s because we like the characters.  The end of the world is coming for Asgard, three great villains are wreaking havoc for our heroes, but Taikiki does something novel.  He puts the setting where it belongs: in the background.  And so we get closer to Thor, Hulk, Loki, Valkyrie, and even Thor and Loki’s sister Hela, by watching them interact.  The result is a film that should be vying for the top spot with the likes of Iron Man, Captain America: The First Avenger, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, Logan, and Spider-man: Homecoming, on your comic book movie best-of shortlist.

Waititi really accomplished something difficult here.  It’s not often the third film in a series completely exceeds the prior films (although it’s certainly arguable Spider-man: Homecoming trounced four prior Spider-man movies).  The Incredible Hulk and Hulk were hardly comparable to Thor: Ragnarok as a Hulk movie (sans title only).  And Thor and Thor: The Dark World weren’t remotely as memorable as Thor: Ragnarok.  So what made it all come together?  Clever dialogue from a tight script for one.  And each actor needed no time to take their characters and march forward.  Chris Hemsworth’s cocky God of Thunder has always sported a humorous side, but partnered with Tom Hiddleston’s on-again, off-again baddie Loki, and a Bruce Banner after he’s stuck in “Hulk mode” for two years (played by Mark Ruffalo), Thor: Ragnarok is every bit the next Avengers team-up film–it may as well be called Avengers: Ragnarok.  It’s also a buddy comedy.  Why not?  In the comic books the serious and powerful characters of Hulk and Thor have always been less accessible than the rest so how better to reach audiences?  And why not take that most-comic book of tropes and let them have their hero battle in the ring?  Many comic book readers have been waiting for this film for a long time.

The entire art design and sound should be credited with the film’s success, too.  Classic Jack Kirby imagery and style can be found throughout the production design.  Funky psychedelic colors, lights, and imagery make this a fantasy film, as opposed to a superhero or sci-fi movie.  Action choreography appears like it’s torn from the panels of a comic book page.  Dazzling fantasy costumes by Mayes C. Rubeo (The Great Wall, John Carter, Avatar, The Librarian) include Cate Blanchett’s Hela destroyer outfit, Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie/Scrapper 142 outfit, Idris Elba’s Heimdall in Robin Hood garb, and Karl Urban’s iridescent Scurge armor.  Music by Mark Mothersbaugh (The LEGO Movie, Lords of Dogtown, Fanboys, 21 Jump Street) includes audacious, sometimes triumphant, sometimes hilarious choices.  And Magic Sword’s “In the Face of Evil,” Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” and Gene Wilder’s “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, were simply inspired inclusions that made the characters and film exactly how we want these characters to look and feel: Cool.

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Kansas City Comic Con 2017 has been an event full of fun for both visitors and the creative guests the attendees came to meet.  One of the show highlights was a Green Arrow Quiver/Sounds of Violence reunion of writer Kevin Smith and artists Phil Hester and Ande Parks.  The trio delved into the impetus for bringing Oliver Queen/Green Arrow back from the dead back in early 2001 after the character had been killed off and replaced with Connor Hawke as the Green Arrow for a generation of readers.  “I was a big fan of the character going back to the day.  I loved Grell’s Longbow Hunters and I loved the book that followed Longbow Hunters.  It was like a Vertigo book, but wasn’t technically a Vertigo book, but it was very grown-up.”  When Smith was visiting the DC Comics offices discussing a Superman screenplay back around 1996, Smith said he popped his head into Green Arrow editor Darren Vincenzo’s office and said, “Hey, man, if you ever want to put Green Arrow in the Top 10, let me write the book.  I think I got a story.”  A year later when Smith was working on Daredevil, Vincenzo recalled the conversation and asked if Smith was serious about Green Arrow. 

Smith, Hester, and Parks had each worked with editor Bob Schreck, who had just moved to DC from Oni Press, where Schreck had been co-founder.  Schreck wanted Smith for the Green Arrow project idea and asked who he’d like for his artistic team, and Smith suggested Hester and Parks in part because of their work on Swamp Thing.  “I fell in love with it deeply,” Smith said.  The team was solidified and they moved forward with the project.  “Having these two dudes enabled me to go where I wanted to go,” Smith added.  Already established artists at the time with a catalog of works, Hester and Parks expressed gratitude to Smith for selecting them for the project and Smith said the collaboration with Hester and Parks on the project helped cement his position in the comic book industry as a creator who is now regularly tapped for insight into the comics industry in documentaries on comics, among other things.  “The only reason I get to be in that stuff is because I have credibility in the comic book community because of stuff like Quiver.  Quiver was the one particularly,” Smith said, further noting the book won national awards.

And speaking of Mike Grell, Grell was also a guest at KCCC this year. Always great for a conversation, Grell was busy working on sketch commissions for attendees this weekend.

Smith also discussed working with Dynamite Comics to bring together later projects with Phil Hester and artist Jonathan Lau on Green Hornet and The Bionic Man.  Hester said there was much back and forth communication in creating the story, and Smith emphasized the collaborative effort, “I used to be a guy that was like ‘oh, I just want to write it myself–I don’t want any input.  And then one day you work with people who add something, and then it’s ‘God, that’s incredible!'”  He used as examples contributions from Chris Rock in his film Dogma and Will Ferrell in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back–both actors who made contributions to the script but didn’t ask for or want any writing creditsand creator David Mandel in the animated Clerks.  When fans reference great lines that Smith didn’t write he said he makes sure to credit the writer.  “It’s important for collaborators to cite those people who are your collaborators.”  The panel was hosted by the Worst Comics Podcast Ever’s Jerry McMullen (shown above after the panel with Hester, Parks, and Smith).

Lee Meriwether and Doug Jones at KCCC 2017.

In the celebrity autograph area at KCCC 2017, a reunion and momentous meet-up involved actress Lee Meriwether and actor Doug Jones.  Both Meriwether and Jones worked together on the film The Ultimate Legacy, which also starred Raquel Welch and Brian Dennehy.  Meriwether and Jones are unique in that they represent contemporaries in acting but also represent bookends of a sort for the 51-year Star Trek franchise.  In addition to her many famous roles in series like Barnaby Jones, All My Children, and Batman, Meriwether played the character Losira in the original Star Trek series episode, “That Which Survives.”  Jones, an actor who has performed both as creature characters where he is often unrecognizable–a Lon Chaney of today as one fan referred to him–as well as more standard roles, has performed in more than 150 films and TV series (from one of the creepy Gentlemen in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode “Hush” to the creature in next month’s new Guillermo del Toro release The Shape of Water).  Plus Jones has appeared in 100 commercials, including as the classic McDonald’s moon-shaped mascot “Mac Tonight.”  And Jones currently plays the alien leading character Lieutenant Saru on this year’s latest Star Trek incarnation, Star Trek Discovery.

Gary Fisher and his family meet attendees at KCCC 2017.

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We had a first look at Chadwick Boseman in the role of T’Challa, the ruler of the kingdom of Wakanda whose alter ego is the Black Panther, in last year’s great superhero mash-up Captain America: Civil War, and a teaser trailer back in June.  Next year Marvel Studios is giving Boseman his own solo movie in the big screen release of Black Panther, based on the comic book superhero created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the pages of Fantastic Four.  The latest preview of the film arrived today.

T’Challa must defend his kingdom from being torn apart by enemies outside and within.  Boseman, who portrayed both Jackie Robinson in the 2013 biopic 42 (reviewed here) and Thurgood Marshall in last week’s release of Marshall (reviewed here), brings along an impressive supporting cast.  Adonis himself, Creed star Michael B. Jordan will play Erik Killmonger, Star Wars: The Force Awakens stars Lupita Nyong’o is Nakia, and Andy Serkis is Klaw, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’s Forest Whitaker is Zuri, The Hobbit and Sherlock’s Martin Freeman is Everett K. Ross, and Green Lantern’s Doctor Waller, Angela Bassett is Ramonda.

Creed’s Ryan Coogler directs the film with Creed’s Hannah Beachler providing some impressive production design work and Ruth E. Carter (Marshall, Selma) created some incredible new costume designs for this new Marvel world.

Here is the latest trailer for Black Panther:

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How often does a young actor get a week where he is featured in two studio trailers?  Last week that was Charlie Heaton, the 21-year-old actor known for his role as Jonathan Byers, the awkward teenage brother of missing kid Will and son of Winona Ryder’s Joyce Byers on last year’s hit retro series Stranger Things.  He’s back in the final preview for Season 2, premiering on Netflix next week.  One of the questions that fans of Stranger Things will be watching for this season is whether Jonathan and Nancy finally get together this year.

Last week 20th Century Fox released a trailer for the next Marvel Studios X-Men spinoff, The New Mutants.  Based on a three-issue story arc from the comic book series in 1984, this very different X-Men story is being marketed as Stephen King meets John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  A horror film blending with the superhero genre but without supersuits or supervillains, it focuses on five mutant kids including Sam Guthrie aka Cannonball, played by Heaton.  Doctor Who and Game of Thrones viewers will also notice Maisie Williams co-starring in the film–she will play the character known as Wolfsbane.

Even the feel of The New Mutants has a retro vibe, which is probably why Stranger Things’ co-star Heaton was cast in the film.  Check out these two new trailers featuring Charlie Heaton, the final Stranger Things season two trailer and the first trailer for The New Mutants:

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Named after the late beloved comic book creator Mike Wieringo, the first ever ‘Ringo! Awards were presented during an irreverent and humor-filled ceremony Saturday night at the end of the second day of Baltimore Comic-Con 2017.  This year the annual Harvey Awards were renamed in Wieringo’s honor.  Wieringo was an artist best known for his work on DC Comics’ The Flash, Marvel Comics’ Fantastic Four, and his co-creation Tellos (discussed earlier this year here at borg.com).

Voters from more than 100 countries selected the nominees and winners were picked from a final ballot by members of the comic book industry creative community.  Presenters last night included Mark Waid, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, Amy Chu, Tom Brevoort, Walter and Louise Simonson, Terry and Robyn Moore, Kazu Kibuishi, Charlie Kochman, Lora Innes, Thom Zahler, Todd Dezago, and Craig Rousseau, with a keynote speech provided by multiple Eisner Award winner and Mouse Guard creator and David Petersen.

The ceremony provided two Hero Initiative awards, the Dick Giordano Humanitarian Award to Joshua Dysart, and the Lifetime Achievement Award to Marv WolfmanMultiple winners included John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell for their civil rights story March: Book III, winning for Best Original Graphic Novel and Best Non-Fiction Comic Work, and Skottie Young, recognized as Best Cartoonist and for his I Hate Fairyland as Best Humor Comic.

Darryl (DMC/Darryl Makes Comics) McDaniels awards Best Cover Artist ‘Ringo! Award to Frank Cho.

Here is the list of winners selected from the final ballot:

Best Cover Artist–Frank Cho (who accepted the award singing the “Thank You Very Much” song from Oliver)

Best Series–Vision (Marvel Comics)

Best Letterer–Todd Klein

Best Colorist–Laura Martin

Best Humor Comic–I Hate Fairyland, Skottie Young, Jean-Francois Beaulieu (Image Comics)

Best Original Graphic Novel–March: Book III, John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell (Top Shelf Productions)

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Thor poster comic-con 2017

In today’s Marvel panel in Hall H at the San Diego Convention Center for San Diego Comic-Con 2017, fans first learned details about Ant-Man and The Wasp.  Michelle Pieffer was confirmed to be playing Janet Van Dyne, Laurence Fishburne will be Bill Foster, Killjoys’ Hannah John-Kamen will be Ghost, and Walter Goggins will be Sonny Burch.  And we will get to see Michael Douglas don the Ant-Man suit.  Hopefully this footage will be made public soon.

Next, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hiddleston, Tessa Thompson, and Karl Urban all were on the panel for Thor: Ragnarok, introducing a great new trailer for the film.  In Marvel Studios third film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe featuring Thor, Thor: Ragnarok, we catch up with Hemsworth’s Thor–absent from last year’s Captain America: Civil War.  Where’s the (now short) golden-haired hammer-wielder been?  In the first trailer for the film we see him imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his hammer and struggling to return to ward off the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization, at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela, played by Cate Blanchett.

Directed by Taika Waititi, produced by Kevin Feige, Thor: Ragnarok.  The movie includes newcomers Jeff Goldblum (Grandmaster), Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie), and Karl Urban (Skurge).

Check out this new trailer for Thor: Ragnarok:

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It’s that time of year again–San Diego Comic-Con weekend, when the studios and publishers release teasers, trailers, and try-ons to generate buzz for the next big book, movie, or television show.  One of the first releases today was this new trailer for ABC’s new series, Marvel’s Inhumans.  

We previewed Marvel’s Inhumans earlier here at borg.com.  This new trailer is better, leaving Anson Mount’s Black Bolt in the background this time and giving us a look at more characters, like Serinda Swan’s Medusa, Ken Leung’s Karnak, and Isabelle Cornish as Crystal.

And yes, we get another look at Lockjaw, the big bulldog Inhuman that has already proved to be a big reason for superhero fans to check out the new series.

Check out this trailer from Comic-Con 2017:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Amazing?  Definitely.  Spectacular?  Absolutely.  Tom Holland, who stole the show in the key battle of last year’s Captain America: Civil War, has provided the definitive, and yes, the ultimate Spider-man performance in this weekend’s latest Marvel masterwork, Spider-man: Homecoming.  And Holland is equally good, if not better, without the suit as angst-ridden, overburdened teenager and Spider-man alter ego, Peter Parker.  Kids of all ages who ever envisioned the ultimate battle between Spider-man and Batman get their satisfaction here, too: Michael Keaton, in one of his best performances in decades, creates out of an obscure character one of the best supervillain performances to hit the big screen, complete with high-tech bat wings and the classic Keaton we all love to watch.

Moviegoers have seen good efforts from Marvel creating the comic book empire’s flagship, web-slinging superhero before, with Tobey Maguire in three Spider-man solo films and Andrew Garfield in two follow-up Amazing Spider-man films, but this latest story supplies what was missing from the other five: an authentic, likeable, smart, voice-breaking do-gooder and a classic coming of age story with heart.  But it doesn’t skimp on the action, and thanks to some well-filmed 3D and magical IMAX cinematography, one key scene that takes place high atop the Washington Monument made this viewer practically step backward out of his seat into the back row.  Just breathtaking filmmaking.

If you keep a list of superhero movie requirements in the back of your mind, you’ll find that Spider-man: Homecoming fulfills or surpasses them all.  A story with a solid character arc for its lead and antagonist.  A big relief for filmgoers who go to every new superhero movie: writer/director Jon Watts and five other writers (a fact that alone would normally spell certain doom for a film, but not here) knew enough to steer clear of another superhero origin story and instead delved right in.  They flesh out Parker’s relationship with his like-minded, knowledge bowl peers at school and provide more than one jawdropper along the way.  In Keaton’s villain they provide an exceptional, compelling villain, something lacking in the past several years of superhero movies.  Holland sports an update to the Spidey supersuit, and Louise Frogley’s latest costume design is superb, complete with believable, readily available tech supplied in-story by mentor Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark aka Iron Man in his latest perfect adaptation of the role from the comics.  And Michael Giacchino’s powerful and emotional score is among his best, complete with plenty of clever and unexpected themes that amplify the story at the right time.  If you think Peter Parker is a throwaway character, prepare for some emotional work by Holland, especially at his character’s lowest point in the story.

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The Eternals.  The Defenders.  The Champions.  Alpha Flight.  The Invaders.  The Marauders.  Power Pack.  The Sinister Six.  The Elementals.  X-Force.  Squadron Supreme.  Guardians of the Galaxy.  Cloak and Dagger.  Power Man and Iron Fist.  Marvel has had plenty of team-ups over the years besides The Avengers and The X-Men.  But unless you read every issue of every Marvel monthly you may have missed some of the more obscure groups of superheroes.  Which may explain how audiences have been in favor of familiar characters as they hit the big or small screen in movies for The Avengers or The X-Men, or even Daredevil.  But Marvel has had a tougher time maneuvering the TV waters for its superheroes than DC Entertainment.  One of the reasons for DC’s success may very well be the fact that its Justice League of America has for so long been the flagship title for the publisher and it incorporated so many supporting superheroes into its stories over the decades that even the general public can name several.  So more of general audiences have heard of and accepted Green Arrow and Black Canary, The Flash, The Atom, and Supergirl when they emerged in our living rooms over the past five years.  As for Marvel, unlike Marvel’s Luke Cage–Netflix’s excellent and loyal update to the classic comic book series–Marvel’s Iron Fist hasn’t garnered similar acclaim.  Why?  Because of the story?  The production values?  The character?  The marketing?  Marvel’s Luke Cage demonstrates an obscure superhero can succeed if it brings to audiences a compelling story, talented actors, and high production quality.  Which brings us to the next new TV series from Marvel, Marvel’s Inhumans.

Marvel’s Inhumans is coming later this summer to ABC, from showrunner Scott Buck, the same creator that brought Marvel’s Iron Fist to Netflix.  Most people haven’t heard of the Inhumans, and even long-time Marvel readers may not be familiar with the characters in the Royal Family of the Inhumans, including Medusa, Maximus, Karnak, Gorgon, Crystal, Triton, and Auran.  So it makes sense that audiences witnessing the team for the first time don’t have enough to be excited about–yet.  As for its general appearance Marvel’s Inhumans arguably looks like Marvel’s Iron Fist, but it also looks like Marvel’s Legion, a somewhat overlooked yet well-received X-Men series hidden in the 500-channel cable line-up on the FX Network earlier this year.  So how will Marvel’s Inhumans fare?

   

The greatest challenge is one of story and character development.  Black Bolt is now the King of the Royal Family of the Inhumans, who were superhumans descended from humans experimented on by the Kree in Marvel lore.  Played in the new series by actor Anson Mount, Black Bolt doesn’t speak, or else he might bring forth a powerful shockwave that could level a city.  So a difficulty of the first trailer released for the series is conveying that fact, while showing plenty of scenes with the actor who will be the male lead of the series.  In the first show trailer we get a bunch of silent expressions by Mount just as his irritated (irritating?) brother Maximus (played by Iwan Rheon) does most of the talking.  How long can an eight-episode series run with the lead keeping his mouth shut?  It’s also difficult to immediately have any empathy toward royalty of any variety, especially those looking so formal and shown with a certain level of arrogance.  Another current series, BBC’s Class, has had trouble gaining traction with viewers, and it also follows a lead male who is an alien royal who is troubled and arrogant.

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