Tag Archives: Marvel

Sam Wilson as Captain America

Why diversity among A-listers matters: the new Thor and Captain America

Much has been written about this by everyone else over the past week, but I guess I’m obligated to chime in as well. Marvel’s announced plans to replace Captain America and Thor. For Thor, a woman will be assuming the role of the Mighty One after Mjolnir (Thor’s hammer) rejects him as being “unworthy” of the role. For Captain America, Steve Rogers is forced to retire after his Super Soldier Serum’s somehow removed, causing him to age into an elderly man. Cap’s replacement: the Falcon (aka Sam Wilson), his longtime crimefighting partner and best friend. In addition, Marvel’s just announced at San Diego Comic-Con that Sam will be getting a second title, in the form of leading the Mighty Avengers in their renumbered comic this fall, “Captain America & the Mighty Avengers.”

My two cents: I’ll agree that it’s another gimmick, as we’ve seen heroes “replaced” plenty of times before, and I assume Cap at least will be Steve Rogers again in time for/not long after next year’s “Avengers 2″ movie at a minimum. (Or at least, expect a lot of “flashback” stories and reprints of Steve-Cap’s adventures.) There’s also something to be said for creating new comics featuring the Falcon and one of the women in the Thor mythos in their traditional identities.

On the other hand, it’s hard for books featuring secondary or brand-new characters to catch on, as a lot of fans either don’t have money to try something new (given comics run $4 a pop) or refuse to try anything new. There’s also issues with underrepresentation of minorities as A-listers. DC opted to promote Cyborg into being a founding JLAer in the New 52 reboot, but otherwise, all the Justice Leaguers stayed Caucasian. DC’s allowed some less-than-A-listers to become minorities, but how they’ve been handled leaves a lot to be desired in my opinion. For instance, Alan Scott in the New 52′s now gay, but they killed his boyfriend in the second issue. The New 52 Wally West (who was an A-lister as the Flash between the mid-80s and several years ago) is Black, but he was introduced as having run-ins with the law. Wally’s shown being arrested for vandalism in his first appearance, and arrested again for shoplifting in his most recent appearance. This strikes me as completely tone-deaf and clueless on DC’s part. Meanwhile, Marvel’s had success with introducing more and more minority characters and women in their own books (Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel, Miles Morales), but seems to have decided to take the path of replacing mainstream Marvel Universe Caucasian A-listers—at least temporarily—with minorities and women.

Of course, there’ll be those whining about how Marvel is “being PC,” but they’re probably the same people who got hot under the collar about Miles Morales, Kevin Keller, and—years ago—John Stewart as the animated “Justice League”‘s Green Lantern. The latter had the same complaints I see now (“being PC,” “he’s not the real GL,” “gimmick,” etc.), but John went on to become one  of the most popular characters on the show, proving the naysayers wrong. More recently, Nick Fury‘s Ultimate universe version, a Black man, has become the main go-to version of Fury in non-comics media. Marvel’s even introduced a lookalike version of the African-American Nick Fury into mainstream continuity as the until-now-unknown son of the Caucasian Nick Fury.

Even if Marvel’s changes prove temporary, I suppose there’s hope it might open the room to a more permanent change down the road for an A-lister, assuming the country’s changing demographics don’t force such changes even sooner. That or, of course, these characters finally entering the public domain as many of them should’ve years ago under less insane and corporately biased/bought off copyright laws, but that’s a whole other blog post.

War Machine

Minorities in cartoons: War Machine

This week’s minorities in cartoons entry is James “Rhodey” Rhodes, an Iron Man supporting character who’s best known as the superhero “War Machine.” Rhodey first appeared in “Iron Man” #118 (January 1979), and was created by David Michelinie and Bob Layton. His debut as War Machine came in “Iron Man” #284 (September 1992).

Rhodey’s backstory states he served in the military as a Marine on tours of duty in southeast Asia. While he was originally involved in the Vietnam War, comic book time’s retconned the war involved in Iron Man’s origin into a “generic Asia-based conflict” (as shown in the movies). Anyway, Rhodey’s helicopter was shot down by Viet Cong (or “generic Asian conflict enemies,” I suppose); while grounded, Rhodey encountered Tony Stark (fleeing in his prototype armor from his captors). Rhodey and Tony teamed up to fight their way through the various war threats and got back to safe territory. Afterwards, Tony offered Rhodey a job as his own personal pilot, which (after several other post-war jobs), Rhodey accepted.

During an early 80s storyline that saw Tony temporarily incapacitated (due to alcoholism) from both running his own company (due to a hostile takeover) and functioning as Iron Man, Rhodey assumed the role. Rhodey fought against various Iron Man foes, and took part in the classic crossover “Secret Wars.” Eventually, Tony regained control over his personal life and business career and resumed functioning as Iron Man, though Rhodey would substitute for him on several other occasions.

In the early 90s, Tony was suffering from a nervous system failure, and turned over control of the company to Rhodey, along with a new experimental suit of armor nicknamed “the War Machine.” Rhodey took over Stark’s company and became Iron Man again, but discovered that Tony was alive and secretly undergoing an experimental life-saving procedure. Insulted that he was lead to believe Tony was dead, the two’s friendship became strained, with Rhodey quitting, but keeping the War Machine armor. The two eventually made amends, and Rhodey continued to have various adventures on his own (and in his own ongoing comic series) as War Machine. A 2013 storyline found Rhodey leaving the War Machine identity to take on a new armored identity, “Iron Patriot.”

As a major Iron Man supporting character, War Machine’s appeared both in his own comic series and in pretty much all Iron Man-related media to date. War Machine’s most high profile media appearances would be in the “Iron Man” trilogy of films. There, Rhodey was played by Terrence Howard in the first film and by Don Cheadle in the next two films. Despite a lot of online speculation as to the change (which became a running gag in the “I’m a Marvel, I’m a DC” series of YouTube parody videos), it turned out Howard was replaced by Cheadle merely due to a contract dispute.

Minorities in cartoons: Reptil

ReptilThis week’s minorities in cartoons entry is Reptil, a Marvel superhero character with the power to turn into various types of dinosaurs. Created for the 2009 animated series “The Superhero Squad Show,” Reptil also has appeared in Marvel’s comics, which gave him a more expanded backstory. Reptil’s first comics appearance was “Avengers: The Initiative Featuring Reptil” #1 in May 2009; he was created by Christos N. Gage and Steve Uy.

Reptil‘s real name is Humberto Lopez. Per his comics backstory, Humberto loved superheroes as a kid. He also was taught much about dinosaurs from his parents, who were both paleontologists. Accompanying them on a dig one day, the Lopezes found what looked like a fossilized amulet of some sort, which Humberto was allowed to keep. On a later expedition, Humberto’s parents both disappeared, and were declared dead, with Humberto sent to live with his grandfather. One day, Humberto was nearly trapped in a rockslide, which he ran from trying to escape, at which time the amulet he was carrying activated his powers.

Humberto soon signed up with a national superhero registry under the codename “Reptil” (during the events of “Avengers: The Initiative“), which resulted in a few adventures/some training. After this, Reptil wound up enrolled in the Avengers Academy, an Avengers-run training school for young superheroes. There, Reptil had more adventures; he also developed a leadership position among his peers, dealt with the loss of his parents, and learned more about controlling his powers. Said adventures included some time-travel related hijinks, such as Reptil inhabiting his future self’s body; this was followed up by a second incident where his future self inhabited his teenage self’s body. At some point, the fossil also became embedded in Reptil’s chest.

Outside of comics, Reptil’s main media appearance, and reason for his creation, was for “The Super Hero Squad Show.” There, Reptil had similar powers, and joined the Squad as its “rookie” member. In the series, he’s also trained by Wolverine in the use of his powers. Logan expressed occasional reluctance at being a mentor, but ultimately enjoyed tutoring Reptil anyway. One change from the comics was that Reptil’s amulet was revealed to be a fossilized piece of the Infinity Sword. Reptil gave up his amulet at the end of the first season, but discovered he still retained his powers. In the series, Reptil was voiced by Antony Del Rio.

Reptil’s powers consist of being able to turn parts of his body into any type of dinosaur. Eventually, further training, etc., resulted in Reptil being able to turn his entire body into a dinosaur, as well as other prehistoric creatures.

Minorities in cartoons: Misty Knight

Misty KnightThis week’s minorities in cartoons entry is Misty Knight, a detective and crime fighter who appears in various Marvel Comics. “Misty” (her real first name’s “Mercedes”) was first mentioned in “Marvel Premiere” #20 (January 1975), and first appeared in the following issue. She was created by Tony Isabella and Arvell Jones.

Misty’s backstory states she was an officer with the New York Police Department. One day, she was severely injured while preventing a bomb explosion, forcing an arm to become amputated. Refusing to take a desk job, however, Misty resigned from the force, and decided to open a private investigation agency with her friend, Colleen Wing (who Misty had befriended/saved during the above bomb incident). The new agency, “Nightwing Restorations Ltd.”, saw the duo investigate various missing persons cases and other crimes, with the two using their combined martial arts skills (earning them the nickname “Daughters of the Dragon”).

Misty also gained a bionic replacement arm built by Stark Industries, offering her limited super-strength (in that arm). Years later, the arm would be upgraded by Stark to perform other feats, including the ability to dissolve adamantium, Marvel’s fictional super-tough metal (what Wolverine’s claws are made from).

The “Daughters” soon met Luke Cage (a.k.a. “Power Man”) and Iron Fist. Misty and Iron Fist soon began dating extensively.

Like other Marvel characters, Misty’s been involved in Marvel’s multitude of crossovers, including “Civil War.” She’s also headed a later incarnation of Luke Cage’s team “Heroes For Hire.” ” Misty also was on the most recent (as of this writing) incarnation of the superhero team the Defenders.

Misty’s also made a few appearances outside of comics. Misty appeared in an episode of “Super Hero Squad,” where she was voiced by Tamera Mowry (Tamera from TV’s “Sister, Sister”). She’s also appeared in a few video games: a non-speaking cameo appearance in “Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3″ (Iron Fist’s ending sequence), and in the MMO game “Marvel Heroes.” The latter sees Misty voiced by Cynthia Kae McWilliams, an actress who’s appeared on Fox’s “Prison Break” and BET’s “Real Husbands of Hollywood.”

Cartoons for Captain America to put on his “to do” list

Captain America: The Winter SoldierThe new movie “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” has a scene that shows Steve Rogers, having been frozen in ice since the end of World War II, has a notebook full of pop cultural items he thought might be worth checking out. Said items range from obvious ones (“I Love Lucy,” the moon landing) to some odd ones (the original “Rocky”?).

Since others online have gotten into making lists of what they’d suggest for Cap, I thought I’d do so as well. Here’s my suggestions of animated and comic fare he’d probably want to look up, for at least a very broad overview of what’s changed since 1945. I’ll assume my choice options don’t have to be corporation-specific (per Disney owning Marvel), and assuming the DC Comics superheroes are considered fictional characters on the Marvel side.

Animation

For animation, I tried to go roughly decade-by-decade, with at least one example from each decade. Yes, I left off plenty, but I assume Captain America’s busy throwing his mighty shield, and whatnot.

  • 1950s Looney Tunes shorts: the height of Warners’ animation output, as well as letting Steve know about post-1945 creations such as the Road Runner and Coyote, “What’s Opera Doc?,” etc.
  • The Flintstones: an example of early/classic TV animation, plus one of the best products from Hanna-Barbera.
  • “Rocky and Bullwinkle”: another early TV animation classic, plus figure Steve might enjoy the backup segments “Peabody’s Improbable History” and “Dudley Do-Right.”
  • “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”: an example of the holiday animated TV special.
  • Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?: for a typical example of 70s Saturday morning TV animation. Also, Scooby’s become pretty prominent in animation/society in general.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit?: not sure what Steve would make of its portrayal of the 1940s, but he’d surely like the classic cartoon elements from his era being used, plus the animation/writing quality.
  • The Simpsons: the most popular cartoon of the 90s, as well as an example of modern TV animation.
  • Toy Story: the first popular computer-animated feature film, plus probably still one of the most popular ones. It’d also get Steve used to the idea of computer animation dominating these days, since hand-drawn theatrical animation’s deemed “dead” by Hollywood.
  • The Incredibles: not really noteworthy for any landmark/ground-breaking reason, but I’m sure Steve would find the plot quite relatable. Though Steve would probably wonder why the film’s family resembles a certain quartet of Baxter Building-dwelling heroes he’d also be hearing about…
  • “The Wind Rises,” or any of the other films by Hayao Miyazaki: Steve will want to know about Japanese animation, or “anime.”

Comics

Steve was shown as a cartoonist at one point, so he’d surely be interested in comic developments since his deep-freeze.

  • The various “Greatest Superman/Batman/Justice League/Wonder Woman/etc. Stories Ever Told” trade paperbacks, “The Dark Knight Returns” and “Watchmen.” For a broad overview of how superhero comics have changed since the 40s.
  • Carl Barks’ Uncle Scrooge (created a few years after Steve began his deep-freeze) and Donald Duck comics. Classic books, and well worth Steve’s time. (And yes, a real-life corporate cousin of the Marvel heroes…)
  • “Peanuts”: the most popular comic strip of the latter half of the 20th century, thus a must-read for Captain America.
  • “Calvin and Hobbes”: if Steve wants a more modern strip, he might want to read Bill Watterson’s classic strip.
  • Probably some random non-superhero comic book, like “The Sandman,” “Maus,” “Love & Rockets,” etc.

What cartoons would you suggest for Steve Rogers to watch/read?

“Man of Steel 2″ to directly face off against “Captain America 3″…for now

DC vs. MarvelNews has come that May 6, 2016 will see “Man of Steel 2″ (or whatever it’s eventually called) will be facing off that very same weekend against… Marvel’s third “Captain America” film. Details on The Mary Sue. (Update 4/7/14: Now officially confirmed in this Marvel press release.)

I highly doubt that this release status will stay intact… if anything, Warner Bros. has already dragged their feet on releasing any superhero films (with “Man of Steel 2″ their next one), versus the sizable number of Marvel films coming out between now and 2016. I doubt Warner Bros. wants to chance their next superhero film (and hoped-for keystone for a Justice League franchise) seeing a diminished box office due to a Disney/Marvel film. Of course, Disney doesn’t want their film to be hurt at the box office either, but there’s more at stake for Warner Bros. at this point.

So, I expect someone will be changing their release dates between now and May 2016… I’ll update this post when either side eventually “blinks.” On the unlikely chance neither does, I’ll be in line for “Captain America 3.” Barring anything that happens to Steve Rogers in the next few films, I assume Cap will maintain his usual optimistic tone, versus the cynical nature of everything about “Man of Steel” and (so far) its planned sequel.

Valentine’s Day in cartoons

peter_cottontail_valentineHappy Valentine’s Day (or “day before the candy goes on sale for half-price”), all.

Like the similar holiday themed posts I’ve done, here’s one dedicated to the day dedicated to romance, affection, and other matters of the heart… and how it’s all presented in cartoons.

Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown

There’s no one “definitive” Valentine’s Day special, but an entertaining one is “Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown,” the 1975 “Peanuts” special about how Valentine’s Day equals (in true “Peanuts” fashion) unrequited love for everyone in the cast.

On TV: Since the early 2000s, ABC has rerun this special every year, usually paired up with a more recent Valentine’s Day special to fill out an hour, such as 2002′s “A Charlie Brown Valentine.”

On DVD: This special’s on several DVD releases, including a stand-alone release (coupled with late 60s special “You’re In Love, Charlie Brown” and 70s special “It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown”) and on the “Peanuts: 1970s Collection, Volume 2″ DVD set. For the former, you’ll be getting two strong specials and one weak one (“It’s Your First Kiss”), while the latter includes “It’s Your First Kiss” and several other specials typical of the mid-to-late 70s run.

Here Comes Peter Cottontail

While an Easter special, this Rankin-Bass classic involves time-travel to other holidays, including a scene (and song number) set on Valentine’s Day. I appreciate that Rankin-Bass remembered that February 14 is very much cold weather (snow, etc.) in a good chunk of the country, versus most media (probably a result of Hollywood’s southern California influence) treating it like it’s a warm spring day.

The Simpsons

The fourth season episode “I Love Lisa” centers around Valentine’s Day, Simpsons-style, from KBBL radio’s DJs playing “Monster Mash” by mistake to Bart triggering a Valentine’s-themed Vietnam flashback for Principal Skinner (Bart: “cool, I broke his brain!”). For good measure, we also get President’s Day (and another playing of “Monster Mash” by KBBL’s DJs… “doggone it!”). And of course, probably the best episode featuring Ralph Wiggum, who has a crush on Lisa after she’s the only one in the class to give him a valentine out of pity.

Google

Google usually offers a special Doodle for Valentine’s Day. In 2012, we got a nice animated short set to the tune of an old Tony Bennett song. It also manages to be gay-friendly (in a montage at the end).

Marvel and DC Comics

There’s been various Valentine’s Day cards featuring the two comic publisher’s superheroes over the decades. The website Andertoons has several examples of vintage superhero valentines:

I like that they included a valentine of Aquaman with Mera and Storm (the giant seahorse) in the 1980 DC set, as well as what seems to be a Superboy valentine (a young Kal-El in flight).

2014 GLAAD Media Awards nominees for outstanding comic book announced

Life With Archie #16This year’s GLAAD media award nominees have been announced. The awards are given annually to mainstream media productions that depict gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals or issues in a positive light.

For outstanding comic book, the nominees are:

  • Batwoman (DC Comics)
  • Life With Archie (Archie)
  • Young Avengers (Marvel)
  • Husbands (Dark Horse)
  • Fearless Defenders (Marvel)

Going over each nominee…

  • “Batwoman” got nominated this year, in spite of DC’s idiotic antics over the past year regarding not allowing the characters to get married…and, well, driving said creators off the book.
  • “Life With Archie” is presumably being nominated on the heels of Kevin Keller’s win last year, plus the adult Kevin and husband Clay’s storyline in this title.
  • “Young Avengers” and “Fearless Defenders” are two Marvel entries depicting LGBT characters.
  • “Husbands” is published by Dark Horse, and features the adventures of a newly-married gay couple. Originally a sitcom, the comic takes a more fantastical approach to the characters.

While I’ve not read all of them, I’m sure they’re all deserving of the prize, though I’d vote for “Life With Archie.”

The winning nominee will be announced this spring.

Star Wars comics (still) coming to Marvel in 2015

Rat's Wars
Not one of the new “Star Wars” titles, I assume.

I don’t know why this is being treated as “surprising” news, since it was announced a year ago, but since it’s in the news again, here’s the article about it:

Star Wars comics going to Marvel in 2015 – Newsarama

I’m still wondering what if anything Marvel/Disney plans to do about the current (non-existent) state of Disney humor comics in the United States, given they went out of their way to kill Boom Studios’ Disney titles. Seems pointless to cancel said books off just so they can do absolutely nothing with them.

Marvel to stop selling single-issue comics in bookstores

spiderman7Marvel’s announced that they’ve stopped selling single-issue comics at Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million:

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=49951

I suppose I can’t blame Marvel for pulling singles from bookstores, though their trade paperbacks will still be sold at such venues. While some suggest digital is the better alternative, I think the existing singles business model’s broken. Who (outside of enthusiasts) wants to pay $4 for a 22-page story that’s only one part of a multi-part storyline? The single-issue superhero comic as it currently stands is probably the least cost-effective form of entertainment. By contrast, trade paperbacks are a better deal, actually contain an entire storyline, and fit on a bookshelf (versus requiring specialized storage).

Superhero comics are also competing with their own corporate cousins—the various video games, TV shows, movies, etc., all of which provide more cost-effective forms of entertainment. Video games also have the advantage of letting you become (virtually) your favorite superhero, as Scott McCloud noted in his books.