The Uncanny Avengers, known officially as the Avengers Unity Squad, are trying to bring humans and mutants together in the wake of the big AvX event last year, a war between the Avengers and the X-Men. So far, they are not off to a great start. The Red Skull is trying to mind control a race war into happening, Kang the Conqueror is manipulating things from beyond time itself, a Celestial is dead in Earth orbit, and some very powerful new villains are responsible - if we ever needed the Avengers, it's now!
Now we've talked about Uncanny Avengers before, I reviewed its first issue right here, and in the six intervening issues, it has only gotten better. Writer Rick Remender and artist Daniel Acuna know what makes an Avengers title tick, and make no mistake, this is an Avengers title. Despite the 'Uncanny' before the name, half the membership being X-Men, and having Havok as the team leader - this is the Avengers. I might even go so far as to say that if you're an old school Avengers reader and fan, this is the one book in the franchise that may appeal to you most.
Great superhero action, sinister manipulative villains, intriguing character interaction, together in a comic with Silver Age attitude and a Modern Age vibe - that's what Uncanny Avengers is all about. Issue #7 is on the shelves at All Things Fun! this week, pick up your copy now!
Over at the All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast, we try to do the best we can, but sometimes we make some mistakes. One such mistake came in our last regular show - we forgot all about the trades of the week, and one of them was a biggie, or at least to me it was a biggie - Guardians of the Galaxy: Tomorrow's Avengers. This trade comes in two volumes, and they are both on sale at, where else, All Things Fun!.
Now, for most of you out there, when I say 'Guardians of the Galaxy,' you're thinking, oh cool, Star-Lord, Rocket Racoon, Groot, the new Brian Michael Bendis comic, and big budget Marvel movie next summer, right? Well, this ain't them. Those are the characters who took the name and ran with it. I'm talking about the originals.
In 1969 Doom Patrol and Deadman creator Arnold Drake, along with noted Silver Age artist Gene Colon, himself famous for his Daredevil, Iron Man, and Tomb of Dracula work, took a look at the Marvel Comics Universe in the 30th century. If that time sounds familiar, yeah, it was a direct shot to counter DC Comics' success with the Legion of Super-Heroes, also set one thousand years in the future.
Introduced in Marvel Super Heroes #18, we were introduced to a new superhero team, one composed of humans who had evolved for survival on different planets that Earth had colonized in the last hundred years. Led by thousand year old astronaut Vance Astro, who along with telekinetic powers and the inspiration of the heroes of today's world, leads this team against the alien Badoon, who have conquered the Earth.
The original members included Charlie-27 of Jupiter, made bigger and stronger by that planet's oppressive size and gravity. There was also Martinex, a crystalline being from Pluto, and Yondu, and weapons master from Alpha Centauri. They were quickly joined by flame-haired Nikki from Mercury, and the mysterious cosmic being Starhawk.
The team fought the Badoon across the backdrop of more than a few Marvel titles before defeating them and freeing the Earth with the help of the time-tossed Defenders. Saving the Earth was easy however, compared to what came next…
A new foe rose from the ashes to take over the 31st century Earth after that. He was part-man and part-machine, named Michael Korvac, a collaborator in the Badoon invasion. Korvac was really nobody until he fled to the twentieth century. There, he tried to download some of Galactus' technology, a stunt that embued him with the Power Cosmic. Now he was somebody. Korvac became one of the most powerful beings in the universe, calling himself alternately Korvac, Michael, and The Enemy.
His master plan originally was to erase the Guardians of the Galaxy from the timeline by killing Vance Astro as a child. The Guardians followed him back in time, and enlisted the Avengers to protect the young boy. Long story short, he decided that universal conquest was a better goal, and when the Avengers and Guardians tried to stop him, he killed them. Yeah, he was that powerful. You can read that story in The Korvac Saga, also available from All Things Fun!.
These are some of the tales that are included in volumes one and two of Guardians of the Galaxy: Tomorrow's Avengers. It is a whole new world of Marvel Comics action and adventure, and one that eventually inspired the latest incarnation of the team, the one that will be featured in next summer's sure-to-be-hit movie.
That movie, it should be noted, might have more to do with the original Guardians of the Galaxy than we thought. Michael Rooker, of "The Walking Dead" fame, just got cast …as Yondu. I guess we'll just have to wait and see!
Yeah, it's a kids book. Usually this kind of stuff Allison handles, and I get the scary mature readers only comics. But when this comic dropped into my lap, it was just too much fun to resist. Batman: Li'l Gotham is great!
Written by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs, with moody but kid-friendly cartoonish art by Nguyen, Batman: Li'l Gotham is the perfect counterpoint and companion to DC's other kids favorite Superman Family Adventures by Franco and Art Baltazar (who also brought us Tiny Titans). Nguyen and Fridolfs brings us two relatively in-continuity tales of autumn holidays, Halloween and Thanksgiving.
There is lots of fun stuff here for both adults and kids of all ages. Batman teaches Damian about Halloween and the Penguin attacks the Thanksgiving Day Parade. It's almost a wonderful throwback to the good old days when heroes didn't have to die and world was always in peril - just fun adventure.
And I loved the Halloween full page with the Golden and Silver Age Flashes holding hands, Darkseid chilling with a Slurpee, and Hush and a mummy checking each other out. Didn't I tell you this was fun?
Batman: Li'l Gotham #1 is on sale this week at All Things Fun!, make sure you get down there and pick up your copy today. Originally only available digital, here's your chance to have a copy of your very own, to hold in your hands, and share with your family.
By Glenn Walker
Has the furor died down yet? Is it safe to talk about it yet? Yeah, it might be time. There was a week or two there if you mentioned the kiss, also known as the Superman/Wonder Woman power coupling in the final few pages of Justice League #12, by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, you might as well be wearing asbestos - because flames will fly. A month and a half having gone by however, it may just be safe to think about this one.
I am a hardcore Wonder Woman fan, and I'm a firm believer that Superman and Lois Lane belong together. I've labored on about that last point before, both here and other places. Whether Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor should be together is a whole other argument, but just for simplicity's sake, let's just say, in a perfect world, they too belong together. However, in the New 52 DC Universe, neither couple is together, in the former case, have never been together… so it might work out for Supes and WW… or would it?
To figure out the present, as always, we must look to the past. Despite both superheroes being around since the Golden Age, they never really had much interaction until the 1960s, and then to be honest, very little. Sure, both Superman and Wonder Woman were members of the Justice Society of America, but rarely appeared in the same issue. Superman's appearances were rare, as he was an honorary member.
Things were slightly different in the Silver Age's Justice League, but comics were simpler then, all about story, less about character interaction. By the time things had changed, and the way comics were written was more mature and character driven, the couple's positions almost reversed, with Diana becoming an ex-member of the League while she was without super-powers. Again, the two rarely saw each other.
Probably the first time I saw Superman and Wonder Woman together, outside of the League, was in Lois Lane #136, sadly the second to the last issue of that series. In that story, the two heroes announce their engagement, much to the heartbreak of Lois. In the end it's all a ruse to lure out a psychotic killer who wants to marry Superman herself.
Silliness, yes, and typical of Lois tales of the time, but the cover betrays something more. As the power couple save Lois from certain doom, she thinks in a good old-fashioned though balloon, "Now I know why Superman is marrying Wonder Woman instead of me… they're a super-team!" There you go, power couple, so much in common, etc. It does make sense. They are both strangers in strange land, both gods among mankind, and in the same profession, and both keeping big secrets. Of course they would fall for each other.
That issue of Lois Lane was a hoax, but later, in the post-Crisis era, the powers that be tried to put them together again, but this time explaining why not. It was in Action Comics #600, in a story by John Byrne and George Perez. Their big kiss this time was awkward, like a brother kissing a sister, as it is with most co-workers who try to make things happen. It's kinda ick.
Much later, in the classic alternate future epic, Kingdom Come, by Mark Waid and Alex Ross, Superman and Wonder Woman do actually wind up together, and work well together as both a team and a couple. There is one prime plot point that allows this to happen. In that story, Lois is dead, and if Diana had someone, they are also long gone. They are the perfect second chance couple, as long as their first choices are unavailable.
Now, we have a new continuity in the New 52. In this world, Superman and Lois Lane have never gotten together, and Wonder Woman has a tenuous if any relationship with Steve Trevor. In Justice League #12, the two come together out of loneliness and battle fatigue, as well as that old bugaboo, familiarity. But I doubt it will stick.
In the new 52, these two characters are not the same as they were. Given the Kingdom Come example, those two would get together under those circumstances, but in the New 52, they are now completely different people. Neither one of them is completely human. This should evident to anyone who reads their solo books. Superman is more alien than ever, and Wonder Woman is more god than ever. This might stand for now, but my prediction - doomed romance, at least in the New 52. You'll just have to stay tuned into upcoming DC Comics to see if I'm right.
One of my consistently favorite titles of DC Comics New 52 is The Flash. I must admit, at first, I was a bit put off by the retroactive dissolution of the marriage between Barry Allen and Iris West, but when everything else about the book is so amazing, I can cut some slack easily. Writer and artist Francis Manapul has made The Flash one of the best comics on the shelves. His art, layouts, and designs alone make this visually the most forward thinking and out of the box comics I have seen in years, and his writing has produced the best blend of modern and classic in the New 52. I love his Flash.
Currently in issue #12 on the shelves this week, with art and color by Brian Buccellato, Manapul brings together the New 52 version of Flash's Rogues Gallery. Manapul has done a masterful job of redesigning these Silver Age baddies for today's era, and now they stand united. Captain Cold, Heatwave, Mirror Master, Weather Wizard, the Trickster, and the Pied Piper, now under the leadership of Glider - known back in the old days as the Golden Glider - along with Manapul, have presented readers with a series of terrific cliffhangers - to be tied up in next week's Flash Annual.
Do not miss either book, this week or next, and be sure to catch any back issues of The Flash at All Things Fun!. If you like the Flash, or just good old fashioned superheroes and super-villains with a modern spin, and the best layout design today, this is the comic you should be reading!
"Dial H for Hero" has been an old time honored concept at DC Comics, first used in House of Secrets in the 1960s, then in Adventure Comics in the 1980s, and most recently in its own series H.E.R.O. in the early 2000s.
Now multiple award winning novelist China Mieville, one of the pioneers of the New Weird movement, tries his hand at rebooting Dial H for Hero for The New 52. Imagine a device, built into an old phone booth, that when you dial a certain sequence can transform you into a superhero.
That's the gist, and I'm sure, everybody's dream - to be a superhero. The problem is you don't get to pick the hero, and in this new version of the concept they are bizarre almost Vertigo-like twisted superheroes like 'Boy Chimney,' but it sure beats the heck out of the overweight schlub you are otherwise.
Be sure to pick up Dial H #1 for a new twist on the old wish fulfillment game, one of the great scary new comics from the second wave of The New 52 from DC Comics, available at All Things Fun!, don't miss it!
By Allison Eckel
I should leave articles like this to my colleague Glenn Walker, the Vast Storehouse of Useless Knowledge. He commands more details about comics stretching back decades than anyone I know. But I have this idea I just can’t shake. This vague impression of a sea change is tugging at the edge of my consciousness. We mark phases in comic craft in the history terms of Ages – Golden Age, Silver Age, Modern Age, etc. And as with history, the designation of an Age can’t come until we’ve passed through it and can look back with discerning eyes. But I believe that we can see a new one beginning now, that we will find 2011 as the beginning of a new Age in comics.
I know what you’re thinking: I’m saying this because I am a DC Comics fan and have savored the mind-numbing punch served by the New 52 marketing engine. Not exactly. One publisher’s clever re-boot is not itself cause for an Age. But with the New 52, we see on a large scale how storytelling in mainstream comics has changed.
In the All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast of January 11, I started my preview of DC by separating the books into two categories: single character and team. The stacks were tall and about even, which an odd experience for me: so many stories, about so many characters.
I began reading comics in the Bronze Age, when the team books in DC’s lineup were few, but they were anchors. The Justice League of America has a “battle royale” with the Royal Flush Gang in July 1982, then battles Hector Hammond one month later. No arcs or events, just whiz-bang action. A few of the team also had their own titles on the side in which we could explore the heroes’ alter egos, relationships, civilian workplace dramas, etc. Oh, and a chance to cultivate a gallery of villains all their own. Life with these comics was relatively simple.
Then came the age of the endless cross-over, in which you had to read the individual books to follow the events of the team. As an example, I offer the Knightfall story line in which Batman suffered a broken back at the hands of Bane in 1993. Plus the tie-ins and wrap-ups of KnightQuest, KnightsEnd, KnightMare, and whatever. Many stories in the 1990s and early 2000s arced into other books, so if you read only Action Comics and Superman, you had no idea what was going on. Many of us complied with the new structure, buying more books than we wanted, grudgingly, feeling played by our drug dealer (I assume; I don’t actually know what that feels like). In this way, I followed one very long, very expensive, printed soap opera.
With the New 52, this dynamic has changed. So far, these titles are very much character-driven, instead of event driven. I am very thankful for this; I knew I was suffering Event Fatigue when I couldn’t tell the difference between Final Crisis and 52, or even when one ended and the other began. This new focus on the dramatic journeys of characters is a more compelling reason to buy a comic than the need to complete my collection.
The single-character titles follow a now-well-known formula, albeit each in its own way. We watch each character deal with his or her condition of “otherness,” with respect to the normal people around him, and the eternal struggle between self-preservation and self-sacrifice. Knowing this structure does not diminish my enjoyment of these books, because their creators are at the top of their game.
What is really exciting for me is to see this formula applied to the team books. Instead of the team of known characters rallying to fight a central bad guy like Hammond or Starro – with their character defined by their quips mid-battle – we have actual dramatic situations and character journeys. The team books have become primetime TV dramas with more Kevlar.
Demon Knights continues to be my favorite team book of the New 52. It would make a fantastic television series. It opened with a bang, a rush of action and a jumble of miss-matched people reluctantly becoming a team. Over five issues, we’ve learned more about each while new questions are asked and side mysteries deepen. I would love see four seasons and a movie, but since this is comics, I will hope that creator Paul Cornell stays with it at least 12 issues.
From the high-action Blackhawks, which stays a hair’s breadth away from G.I. Joe copyright infringement, to the clandestine Stormwatch, the large stable of team books is more varied than ever for DC, but they all eschew done-in-one team battles in favor of characterization.
We see this in Justice League, which is a special case within the team books. This is the New 52’s tent pole, its main anchor, its flagship. The roll-out of this team may be unprecedented. It is certainly stealing from the modern TV drama playbook. We get to meet one, maybe two characters each issue while they uncover a few details of a huge mystery that will lead to the main bad guy of season 1 – I mean the first arc. I think this was a brilliant move by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee: To take the most known of their stable of characters, withhold them from the fans, and dole them out a little at a time in their new forms. In this, the creators have informed us that the rules in comics have changed; that we cannot compare these new books to what has come before (we will, though). As a fan, I love this new trend. It gives me a reason to invest myself (oh, and my money) in these characters, not just in their actions and exploits.
Of course, establishment of a new Age of comics requires more than a shift in storytelling methodology. There should also be changes in the industry such as distribution methods, censure guidelines, and the maturity level of most content. Oh wait, that all happened in the past year. So, we find ourselves in a new Age of comics. The Modern Age is dead. Long live… what should we call it? Maybe Glenn will have a few suggestions.
By Glenn Walker
Now that Fear Itself is over, and Iron Man is in recovery from his night of alcoholic excess, bad things are afoot for the Golden Avenger. His arch-enemies Zeke Stane and the Mandarin have been in the background upgrading his old rogues gallery. What better time to take a peek at the Forgotten Foes of Iron Man?
Stane, Hammer, Doom, and more recently Osborn – these are Iron Man’s enemies, right? Yeah, nowadays that’s about right, but the fact is that ol’ Shellhead has one of the more extensive rogues galleries in comics, rivaling Spider-Man, Batman, and the Flash. The problem is most of them are long forgotten.
Let’s start with those that are well known. These have been persistent enemies in the last decade or so…
Norman Osborn: Also known as Spider-Man's arch-enemy the Green Goblin, Norman Osborn is also an industrialist, arms dealer, and rival to Tony Stark. Even if neither had super-powered other identities these two would clash. Most recently Osborn took SHIELD away from Stark and created his own immoral Avengers team to replace the real one when he had them outlawed.
Doctor Doom: It makes sense that these two would eventually butt armored heads and not like each other. They are so similar and yet so different. Both men rule their own empires, both wear armor and wield incredible power. They have crossed paths on several occasions, and it's rarely to have lunch and compare notes.
Victor Von Doom is primarily a foe of the Fantastic Four, but has had bad relations with most heroes of the Marvel Universe, but he has a special place in his dark heart for Iron Man. Scarred by an accident, he sealed himself in indestructible armor and also augments his power with sorcery - another reason the Golden Avenger dislikes Doom. Iron Man hates magic. He can't understand it, he can't control, so he abhors it.
In the Silver and Bronze Ages of comics, Iron Man collected quite a colorful assortment of enemies, most of them lost to the sands of time, some not. Hopefully we'll be seeing some of them again real soon. They are…
The Ghost: The Ghost is an industrial spy, common in the world of high tech business, but he is the worst kind - a super-powered industrial spy. True identity unknown, he uses his 'ghost tech' to become invisible, phase through walls, and basically do as he pleases. He currently haunts the Thunderbolts as a current member.
Unicorn: Iron Man was forged in the midst of the Cold War so many of his adversaries are of the 'Red Menace' type, the Unicorn is one of them. Wearing a costume and headgear designed by Professor Anton Vanko AKA the Crimson Dynamo, the Unicorn can shoot a variety energy beams and other powers from the horn on his helmet - thus the name, the Unicorn. He has most recently appeared on Nicktoons' "Iron Man Armored Adventures."
Spymaster: Employed at different times by Zodiac, Justin Hammer, and Madame Masque, Spymaster is exactly what he sounds like, another industrial spy much like The Ghost. He uses a variety of gadgets to get the job done and is also a trained assassin as well. The original Spymaster was murdered by The Ghost, and since then other men have taken on his mantle.
The Controller: Powered by a super-strong exoskeleton, mind control and his slave discs, scientist Basil Sandhurst tried to conquer New York City, and has since worked with and under many other villains. He has also fought many of the Marvel Universe's heroes, though his primary foe remains the Armored Avenger.
Ultimo: This giant artificial humanoid construct was built by aliens millennia ago and left on Earth. Ultimo has arisen from time to time to fight Iron Man, frequently as a pawn of other villains like The Mandarin and the Yellow Claw. It is known for its few lines of dialogue, the main one being, "If it moves, it dies." Ultimo has appeared in every animated incarnation of Iron Man.
The Living Laser: Usually thought of an Avengers foe, the Living Laser began his days that way before making a name for himself in Iron Man's rogues gallery. Arthur Parks first used laser technology and then infused into himself becoming a real living laser. Notably he was originally a pawn of The Mandarin, and now makes life hell for the Golden Avenger solo. He has also been seen on "Armored Adventures," as well as the new "Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes" animated series.
The Melter: Bruno Horgan was an arms dealer put out of business by Tony Stark and then chose to use his heat technology to become the Melter and take on 'Stark's bodyguard,' Iron Man. And old school villain, he was a member of the first two Masters of Evil groups and eventually was killed by the super-villain-murdering Scourge.
Blizzard: On the opposite end of the temperature gauge is the Blizzard. Three men have gone by this name and costume all using cold-based technology to fight Iron Man. The Blizzard has been a frequent animated Iron Man foe in the 1960s, the 1990s and in the 2010s as well.
Madame Masque: Part Catwoman, part Iron Maiden, and all mercenary, Whitney Frost is both lover and archenemy to Iron Man. She is the daughter of super-powered crime lord Count Nefaria, and she hides her disfigured face behind a golden mask. Masque is a double agent to beat all double agents. In the past she has allied herself with, among others, the Avengers, the Thunderbolts, the Maggia, Norman Osborn, and The Hood.
Hawkeye: This longtime Avenger started his career under the tutelage of villains and Iron Man was his first target. The bowman named Clint Barton eventually turned to the good side with help from the also repentant Black Widow. Later he would become not only Iron Man's colleague and friend, but one of the greatest Avengers.
Titanium Man: Another Red Menace villain from the Silver Age, the Titanium Man is Russian KGB Boris Bullski who with an armored suit similar to the Crimson Dynamo tried to destroy the American capitalist hero Iron Man. Titanium bigger and stronger than iron, Boris crush. Don't be fooled by my levity, the Titanium Man is a bad ass.
Alcohol: This foe has taken down the Golden Avenger more than once. Demon alcohol has always been with Tony Stark, as we've pretty much always seen him drinking, usually martinis the way those billionaire types always do. In the late 1970s, writers decided to give Stark consequences, and he became an alcoholic. It got so bad that he had to give up being Iron Man for a while. The bottle remains a dangerous lurking foe for our hero.
Now, finally, let’s take a look at the Hollywood brigade, those that have been portrayed on the big screen so far…
Obadiah Stane: Played by Jeff Bridges in the Iron Man movie, the man who would become the Iron Monger and ignite the Armor Wars is a fairly recent villain, from the late Bronze Age. Again, a rival industrialist, Stane stole Stark's entire company from him, along with all of his armor prototypes. His son Zeke Stane has sworn revenge on the Golden Avenger, and with The Mandarin's help will soon be making Iron Man's life hell.
The Mandarin: In the Silver Age, The Mandarin was Iron Man's main big bad, so big and bad he still tried to destroy Old Shellhead's superhero team the Avengers, even when he was no longer a member of the team! The Mandarin was a leftover of the Cold War as were most early Iron Man foes, but was also based on something much, much older. A villain in the tradition of Sax Rohmer's Doctor Fu Manchu, The Mandarin gained his powers from ten ancient alien rings, each of which had its own dangerous weaponry. He frequently would employ other villains (both other enemies of Iron Man and not) to do his bidding.
The Mandarin appeared in slightly subdued form in the first Iron Man film. Over the decades since he was introduced the concept of the Oriental villain has become one of racial insult and rarely used anymore. The Mandarin appeared in the 1966 "Marvel Super Heroes" animated show, in the 1990s "Iron Man" series, again leading a group of other villains against his enemy, and in "Iron Man Armored Adventures."
Justin Hammer: Sam Rockwell gave life to Hammer in Iron Man 2. In the comics, the character is much less slick, less clueless and much older. Like the film version, he's a rival industrialist (yes, there's a theme here), who tried to frame Iron Man, and then sicced an army of super-villains on him when that didn't work. He was a memorable foe in that his actions made Tony Stark crawl into the bottle with dangerous circumstances for the first time.
The Black Widow: Natasha Romanov is again an old school Communist threat from the Cold War days. Double-crossing and triple-crossing is what the spy game is all about, and this Russian spy used her feminine wiles as well as her martial arts training to get what she wanted. Eventually, with Hawkeye's help, what she wanted was to defect to America and join SHIELD. She has also served with the Avengers, and will be played by Scarlett Johansson in next summer's The Avengers.
Whiplash: Like the Black Widow, Whiplash was in Iron Man 2, but he was the main villain as played by Mickey Rourke. The film origins of Whiplash are muddied by being combined with that of the Crimson Dynamo, so I'll concentrate on the comics here. Mark Scarlotti was a Stark employee who traded sides to the Maggia when they offered him the technology to build a suit with cybernetic whips built into it. He later went by the name Blacklash and was eventually killed by a sentient Iron Man armor. Don't ask, these things just apparently happen every day in the Marvel Universe.
The Crimson Dynamo: The armor has been worn by many men, but the theme is the same. The Crimson Dynamo is an armored superhero, whose power is equal to Iron Man's, and he's loyal to the Communist government of the Soviet Union. Perhaps that bit of datedness is why the producers of Iron Man 2 went with Whiplash. Battles with the Dynamo are always greatly anticipated by readers, and in most cases they are misunderstandings, as in most cases the Dynamo is a good guy. Depends on your perspective of course, and what year it is. If it's 1966, he's a Commie and villain, no matter what, ya know?
There, that should prep you for the upcoming events in Iron Man. It should be exciting when these old foes return in new, improved, and more dangerous form. And as always, you'll be able to check those adventures out at All Things Fun!.
By Glenn Walker
Hopefully y'all have been following the All Things Fun! Comic Vidcast uploaded every Wednesday, and if not, get yourself over to its special webpage and enjoy. As I said, it's uploaded every Wednesday morning by 11:30 AM sharp Eastern Standard Time, and available for viewing – as are all the episodes, throughout the week afterwards. The Vidcast even has its own channel on YouTube.
I, along with co-hosts Allison Eckel and Ed Evans, discuss the new comics that come out that day for the week. We like to think we offer our own unique and informative view of the comics world and what's going on within it and around it.
Although, sometimes fifteen to twenty minutes just isn't enough to explain some of the references made during the vidcast, and it certainly isn't anywhere near enough time to justify the vast storehouse of useless comics knowledge spilling out of my head. We've had to do an explanatory post like this once or twice before, and hopefully this new edition of Show Notes might help alleviate the pressure on my brain.
Lucas "Snapper" Carr
Allison doesn't like this guy and thinks he's dumb, and didn't know why he was showing up in recent issues of the out-of-continuity Young Justice. Old folks like me were thrilled with both the history and irony of his appearance. Sadly, when most people do think of poor Snapper, they do think lame. That's because they don't have a sense of history, or perhaps don't know his history.
Snapper was designed to be the identifying character in Gardner Fox's Silver Age Justice League of America. He was the little-bit-out-of-date beatnik kid who got to hang out with the World's Greatest Heroes. "Wow, if we, the readers, could be Snapper, wouldn't that be cool?" was the line of thinking, but after a while, Snap got annoying. While Fox was on the book, Carr worked as a storytelling device, informing readers on the ins and outs of the team, the day-to-day operations, and he even had a friendship with the League's second new member, the Atom.
However, as time went by, even Gardner Fox got tired of poor Snap, and used him less and less. When Fox left, and new, younger, hipper writer Denny O'Neil came on board, things changed. O'Neil sought to streamline the JLoA to be more his style, and more in line with other books he wrote. More focus was placed on his pet characters like the darker detective Batman, Green Lantern, his revamped and more socially conscious Green Arrow, and the Earth-Two Justice Society transfer, Black Canary. O'Neil also got rid of folks. Over in her own title, he had depowered Wonder Woman, and here, he had her resign from the League. J'Onn J'Onzz returned to his homeworld, and O'Neil simply just ignored Aquaman as if he didn't exist.
Denny O'Neil had more sinister plans for poor Snapper Carr. In the writer's mind, as Snapper grew older, the League had gotten tired of him, and in turn, Snapper was weary of being made fun of by his peers for being the 'Justice League mascot.' In short, he was feeling alienated, and was ready to strike back at 'the man,' his mentors and friends in the JLA. Snapper fell under the sway of an anti-superhero public speaker (shades of the Glorious Godfrey who would come a few short years later) called Mr. Average.
The insidious Mr. Average convinced Snapper that he had to turn against the heroes, and he weaseled their biggest secret out of poor Snapper: the location of their secret headquarters, the Secret Sanctuary in Mount Justice. Oh, and did I mention that Mr. Average was actually the Joker in disguise? Yeah, this was bad. And it led to Snapper Carr's resignation as an honorary JLA member, and the move to a satellite headquarters in orbit.
But therein lies the irony of Snapper appearing in Young Justice, as you see, the YJ team meets in the old Mount Justice headquarters. Cool, huh? Snapper Carr eventually made amends with the JLA, but not after making further mistakes, like being misled once again by villains like The Key, the Star-Tsar, and the Privateer. He later sidekicked for the android Hourman from the future. Snapper Carr remains a case study in the idea that there are no bad characters, only bad writers.
The Absorbing Man
Stop snickering, Allison. I know how you like to make fun of the sometimes-lame names of Marvel Comics characters, but this one is really cool. And besides, it's DC that has characters like the Crimson Centipede, the Purple Pile-Driver, Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man, and Don Rickles as a super-villain -- not Marvel, so take that.
The Absorbing Man began his comics life as small-time and not-so-bright criminal Carl "Crusher" Creel, and in the typical fashion of most Silver Age Thor villains, being unknowingly empowered by Thor's evil stepbrother Loki. In this case, Loki gave Creel the ability to absorb the strengths and properties of whatever he touches. For example, he touches stone, he becomes as strong as stone, and in actuality, stone. Needless to say, he's been shattered several times.
Over the years, other than Thor, he has clashed with the Hulk several times, giving you an idea of Creel's power levels. The turning point for the Absorbing Man was in the late 1970s in Avengers #183-184 when he made the big leagues. He ended up taking on the entire Avengers team when all he wanted was to be left alone. From that moment on, he was taken seriously and was considered a major Avengers foe, as opposed to that dumb guy with the ball and chain who sometimes bothered Thor and the Hulk.
He's been animated several times, beginning with the Thor segments of 1966's "Marvel Super Heroes," and most recently in Disney XD's "Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes" as both an adversary of the Hulk and the whole team again. Creel has even made it to the big screen, albeit in a mangled comics-to-film version. In Ang Lee's Hulk movie, Nick Nolte plays Bruce Banner's father, who is imbued with the Absorbing Man's powers.
Crusher Creel continues his major threat level status even today as one of The Worthy in Marvel Comics' latest big crossover event, "Fear Itself."
Here's another name Allison has busted on, and a character with a lot of history, and an amazing character when written right. Currently he's being miswritten by Brian Michael Bendis in theAvengers comics franchise, as a bitter former member who wants to stop his old teammates by starting his own group, the Revengers. It all sounds familiar, but essentially out of character.
Wonder Man began life as a one-shot, one-note character in the classic Avengers #9 by Stan Lee and Don Heck. Simon Williams was recruited byBaron Zemo and the first Masters of Evil to gain super powers and infiltrate the Avengers and destroy them from within. With a mysterious 'ionic' process, Williams was given enhanced strength, endurance and invulnerability, as well as a rocket belt for flying. He joined the team, and then when the Masters of Evil attacked, Simon had a change of heart and fought against them. Zemo double-crossed him, and Wonder Man became the first Avenger to die in battle. At least he died on the side of the angels.
Wonder Man was not forgotten. His name and memory came up often in the Avengers series. Things got hot when Simon's brother, the Grim Reaper, attacked the team seeking revenge. It was revealed later that Simon's brain patterns were actually recorded, and used as a template for the android Vision's mind after he had been reprogrammed. And much later, Avengers arch-foe Kang stole Wonder Man out of time and used him as a pawn in his Legion of the Unliving. In all cases, fan response was strong.
All of these post-death appearances told the powers-that-be at Marvel one thing: Wonder Man was popular. And what do you do with dead characters in comics when they're popular? You bring them back from the dead of course! Wonder Man returned in Avengers #151, first as azuvembie (don't even ask, or just click, but you've been warned), and then for real and for good, regaining his full member status on the team.
Wonder Man became a fast fan favorite, became a founding member of the West Coast Avengers, best friends with teammate the Beast, got his own series, and yes, died a couple more times, and came back as well. He's become known as a loyal support Avenger, his colorful, and sometimes drab costumes, and for coming back from the dead frequently. What he's not known for is being vengeful and unfoundedly proactive. Again, it's Snapper Carr time -- there are no bad characters, only bad writers.
That said, Wonder Man, and the Revengers, can be found in recent issues of the Avengers franchise of titles, fighting his former friends, the Avengers.
That's all for this time. I'm sure there will have to be more explanations of obscure and arcane info from my twisted mind. Maybe next time I'll teach y'all how to pronounce all the 'O' villains in the Justice League's rogues gallery…
By Glenn Walker
More than a few times on the All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast when we've talked about Flashpoint I have referenced an old JLA/JSA crossover whose story is similar. The story appeared in the summer of 1965 in Justice League of America #37 and 38. With last week's conclusion to Flashpoint, I thought it now would be a good time to take a closer look at this classic story.
I picked up #37 first, not when it came out -- I''m not that old. As a widdle keed, I bought it for like a dime at a giant yard sale at Atsion Lake. Inside the box I plucked it from were comics with names and titles that I didn't even know yet, like the Losers, Capt. Storm, the Doom Patrol, Plastic Man, and House of Mystery. It was a veritable Silver Age goldmine, and I was yet to be a Vast Storehouse of Useless Knowledge, darn shame. I finally snagged JLoA #38, and the conclusion to the story, for much much more than a dime, at a comic book convention in the early 1980s. The fact that it was my first 'old' comic makes it extra memorable to me. We always remember our first.
Back in the early days of the DC Multiverse, this third JLA/JSA team-up actually formally introduced Earth-A, the fourth such parallel Earth. But, for those scientists, and DCU veterans out there, Earth-A wasn't a proper parallel Earth, it was in fact an 'alternate' Earth-One, one that was altered by tampering with events in its timeline. Someone time-travelled into the past and eliminated the Justice League. Starting to sound familiar, folks?
In "Earth -- Without a Justice League" and "Crisis on Earth-A," the classic original creative team of Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky presented a twisted tale of time travel and treachery. The Johnny Thunder of Earth-One, a petty con man and small-time criminal, upon learning the good fortune of his Earth-Two counterpart, wrested control of the Thunderbolt from him. Seeing the Justice League as a threat to his evil plans, he commanded the Thunderbolt to prevent the Justice League from ever becoming super-heroes. Yeah, it's what happens when the bad guy gets the genie.
Jetting back through time, the Thunderbolt went to work interfering in the various members' origins. He protected Barry Allen from the fateful lightning bolt, saved Krypton from destruction, prevented Abin Sur from crashing on Earth, destroyed the white dwarf star fragment that changed Ray Palmer into the Atom, short-circuited Dr. Erdel's experiment, and beat the crap outta Batman on his first case. As a kid, two things stuck in my mind. One, I was awed by the sheer power of the Thunderbolt. That he could save Krypton was no easy feat. And two, I got to see the Sekowsky-rendered original costume of the Batman. It's the rarely seen variation for his first appearance in Detective Comics #27, and was new to me. With no more JLA to stop them, Thunder and his gang proceed to raise hell.
Luckily, in typical Silver Age fashion, the JSA is paying attention to the doings on the altered Earth-One and go, disguised as the Justice League, to stop the evil Johnny Thunder's crime spree. Even awkwardly disguised, the JSA made short work of the Thunder gang. With the very powerful Thunderbolt at his disposal, however, bad Johnny makes him turn his gang into his very own Justice League by replacing them with the JLA members. He throws thug Race Morrison into the Flash's lightning bolt, and irradiates henchman Barney Judson with white dwarf material.
With Superman, Batman, and the Martian Manhunter… it gets iffy as to how they were replaced. Like I can sorta see Hawkman as J'Onn J'Onzz, but this is getting ridiculous. Yeah, I know, it really doesn't work if you think too hard about it, but let's be guided by the Marvel Comics "One More Day" philosophy - "It's magic, we don't have to explain it."
Anyway, presto change-o, and Johnny's gang becomes the Lawless League of Earth-A, and they do battle with the Justice Society. The conflict escalates as these things do, and finally the evil Johnny Thunder starts getting his butt kicked in the midst of combat, so he makes a final wish: none of this ever happens. Poof! Everything goes back to the way it was. No harm, no foul, except that bad Johnny ends up in jail. Perfect Silver Age ending: Almost everyone lives happily ever after. The evil Johnny Thunder does return decades later, but the less said about the 'new' origin of Black Canary, the better, as far as I'm concerned. It's rather disturbing, and best forgotten.
And there you have it, a lightning bolt-themed character changing the time stream to eliminate the Justice League - Silver Age version. And it happened before, and it will happen again. It just happened in Flashpoint. The Reverse-Flash, or maybe even the Flash, has been mucking with the time stream and has created a new continuity -- one where the Justice League never existed, where Aquaman and Wonder Woman have led their nations to war, and where the world stands in the balance.
Something tells me, based on the solicitation for the DCnU comics now beginning the New 52, that no one is going to make a wish and everything will be going back to status quo -- at least not in a good way. Let's just hold our breath, and hope for the best. This is a brave new world…