Tag Archives: Marvel

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.

A week of media racism, sexism, and homophobia: from superheroes to “Duck Dynasty”

While it’s not all about comics/animation, the previous week’s seen plenty of racist, sexist, and homophobic stuff in the media that I feel’s worth remarking on anyway, especially since I’m tired of repeating myself in various online forums. To wit:

Scott Lobdell mistreats fellow comic creator MariNaomi

Last week, a comic creator named MariNaomi wrote a blog post about sexist and racist remarks that Scott Lobdell (the same Hemingway who gave us “sexy fun time” Starfire in DC’s New 52 reboot) told her in front of a large comic-con panel and crowd. While MariNaomi didn’t name names, I suspect it was soon apparent his identity was going to be revealed, leading Lobdell to given an apology (somewhat). It’s revived discussion over the problems with sexism, etc. in the comic industry, though I’m not sure what it’ll take to change things. Perhaps it might help if stories like this made it to mainstream media, where DC and Marvel’s valuable movie, toy, etc. intellectual properties’ images were threatened with being embarrassed by their comic staff’s crude behavior.

Yes, I left out comics—DC and Marvel only have value to Time-Warner/Disney as an “IP farm” to create stuff for their toys, movies, etc. I suspect they’d consider cutting back or shutting down the comics side entirely if/when they could figure out how, or if some accountant deems it truly worth doing so. There’s also the low opinion and stereotypes the general public has of superhero comics. The public likes superheroes, and they like comics, but (with few exceptions) not the two together, judging from sales of comics outside of comic book shops. There’s also the stereotype of superhero comic fans as akin to the cast of “The Big Bang Theory” or the Comic Book Guy on “The Simpsons”: as social skills/empathy-challenged Neanderthal meatheads living under a rock or in their parents’ basements. The lack of apparent concern DC and Marvel’s head honchos have about fixing their business model’s image also seems quite sad. At least, I assume they (or their fans) must be aware that such an image of their products/fanbase exists, unless they don’t read magazines, watch TV, go to the movies, or know anyone who isn’t a fan.

One would think DC and Marvel’s comic staff would be more concerned about not adding yet another reason that might justify shutting their business down altogether, given the lack of mainstream appeal (and stagnant readership base, occasional sales spikes from reboots, etc. aside). Or at least reducing it to a shadow of its former self save whatever’s needed for trademark/”IP farm” reasons—say, just publishing a handful of digital-only comics and keeping the better-selling trade paperbacks (“Watchmen,” “Dark Knight Returns”) in print. (The fact two of their best-selling trade paperbacks date from the Reagan administration 30 years ago might be quite telling.) DC’s planned move of its headquarters to join its digital division/DC Entertainment parent out west makes me think it’ll be DC that goes this route first over Marvel, if it does ever happen…

 

Paul Dini notes TV execs don’t want superhero cartoons to have female viewers

Speaking of sexist attitudes, a recent interview with Paul Dini (of various 90s Warner Bros. animated cartoons fame) has him note that TV executives don’t want large female audiences of their superhero cartoons, since they supposedly don’t buy toys. For more details on this head-scratching notion, see here.

Apparently Warner Bros. executives forgot that their first successful modern TV cartoon is “Tiny Toon Adventures,” a show that had goofy absurd humor and a female character as one of its two co-stars: Babs Bunny.

“Duck Dynasty” star makes racist and homophobic remarks

Speaking of fans rushing to defend entertainers for dubious reasons, reality show “Duck Dynasty” had one of its stars recently make crude homophobic and racist remarks in an interview with “GQ” magazine. See this Gawker article for a summary of the situation to date, as well as (if you’re like me and don’t watch reality shows, save “The Amazing Race”) an explanation  of what the heck’s a “Duck Dynasty.”

Again, have to wonder if people are desperate to see a favorite piece of entertainment stay on the air that they’ll defend such remarks. There’s also confusion about the nature of freedom of speech, based on items I see in my social media feeds being passed around. The US Constitution’s first amendment only applies to the government putting restrictions on freedom of speech. It has nothing to do with private parties, such as my blog or A&E, doing whatever they want—which’d also fall under freedom of speech. A&E doesn’t owe the “Duck Dynasty” folk airtime anymore than I’d owe someone racist or homophobic an opportunity to write a blog post about such here, and it’s within both our rights to do whatever we want with our respective media spaces. If the “Duck” folk wanted, they could go create a reality show on their own (via the Internet, etc.) and sell merchandise of that, if making crude comparisons about gay men’s interests or insisting my ancestors were happy in the Jim Crow South are deemed that important.