Thursday, January 31, 2008

Twin Universe Terrors

The latest multiversal hotline flash reports that dual-universe trouble makers, Starro the Conqueror & Doomsday [from the DC Universe] and Juggernaut & the Rhino [from the Marvel Universe] have joined forces and are perpetrating massive destruction and chaos across Earth 616.

Calling themselves "The Heavy Duties," the frightful foursome have yet to be reigned in by authorities. Where are the Avengers when you need them?

I mean, you'd think that with two different heroic groupings of Avengers, one of them would step up.

Brightening the Colors ...

Actress Elisabeth Shue (The Karate Kid, Adventures in Babysitting, Back to the Future Parts II & III, The Saint, Hollow Man) really knows how to handle a used American flag. Gently cradling it before sending up in flames.

Now that's a great way to go!

Extra points to Ms. Shue for her daring patriotism. Now, if only we could coax her into saluting?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Counting Down to a Catfight in the Nexus .....

With the 2007 revelation that the multiverse still exists, and with all of the bizarre craziness currently running rampant within the DC Universe, it perhaps comes as no surprise that superhero tensions are running a little hot.

Apparently while fusionkasting several bad guys in his own dimension, cosmic executioner Nexus was accidentally teleported to the DCU. Given his dramatic personal style, physical skills and panache, Mr. Horatio Hellpop was immediately the center of attention. And now it seems that Dream Girl (Nura Nal of the Legion of Super-Heroes) and young Mary Marvel (sister of Captain Marvel aka the Power of Shazam guy) are trading insults and even threatening to assault one another in their dispute over which one is more suitable to be deflowered by the studly Nexus.

Not one to intercede unadvisedly, Horatio appears to be hitting the sidelines on this one, all the while preparing to get his groove on with the comely champion [whomever she ends up being].

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

From the Dust Bin: The Terrific Whatzit

Created by Martin Nodell, Merton McSnurtle first appeared in National/DC Comics Funny Stuff #1 (Summer 1944). McSnurtle became the hero, the Terrific Whatzit, with super-speed, super-strength, and he could also fly. Merton earned his name from the fact that he removed his shell when in costume, so no one could tell what he was—which made it extremely easy to keep his identity secret. The Terrific Whatzit is retired now, but his nephew carries on the fight against crime as Fastback, member in good standing of Captain Carrot's Amazing Zoo Crew.

The "new" Fantastic Four is .....

Fan response has been overwhelmingly positive to the newly announced roster of the Fantastic Four, as Marvel cements its hold on the popular imagination of the entire four color genre. In a move that was both startling and unexpected, DC Comics and Hanna-Barbera ceded control of "key" characters from their extensive stable of properties to incoming FF writer, hot Hollywood actor Seth Rogan (who insisted on using these specific characters; "or the deal was off!").
Now the entirety of the Marvel Universe is turned on its collective ear as reformed DC Comics villain, the Composite-Superman takes over as team leader, with remaining powerhouse, Ben Grimm aka the Thing and rounding out the FF roster and most astonishing of all, teen-age Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm.
It's clobbering time, people! So, just hang on for the ride.

Monday, January 28, 2008

(Spoilers) The Great Controversial Shower Scene Debate

So, I heard about this controversial shower scene involving actress Charlotte Ross on NYPD Blue. Mind you, I don't watch the show, having long ago tired of the cop shows & doctor shows that dominate broadcast television. But controversy involving a sordid glimpse of the undraped female form, well that's just jim dandy with me. I'm one of those mundanes who believe that our casual acceptance of the depiction of violence in various media outlets is ridiculous compared to our puritan ideas on simple nudity. 'Tis our birthday suit after, ye dolts!

So, many fines were doled out to select stations in some markets that ran the episode. Whatever!

Charlotte Ross has gained a new fan in yours truly. I mean with all of the young hotties that I profile here in the Catacombs, it was really nice to see someone closer to my own age, who was putting all of them to shame.
Consider the image a teaser and check out the full monty on YouTube for the glorious Ms. Ross.

Breaking News! Marvel Attacks DC with weapon of mass destruction

Zzzax the Living Dynamo, who has the ability to absorb electromagnetic fields, thoughts, desires and psionic energy from human brains, has been dispatched by the editors of Marvel Comics to fire an extraordinarily powerful blast of electricity at the editors of DC Comics.

The House of Ideas hopes that by using Zzzax's tremendous high voltage they will be able to incinerate all intentions that DC's management has of perpetrating even more endless crossover horseshit - - - particularly 2008's Final Crisis [ yeah, right].

Since Zzzax is forced to constantly feed off of electrical sources-- such as electrolytes in the human brain---his very survival is somewhat doubtful; as DC head honcho Beau Diddly-oh couldn't be much of a meal..

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Bionic Beauty

I haven't really had the time to watch the new TV version of Bionic Woman on NBC, but based on what I've read it takes liberties with both the original source material and the older Lindsay Wagner TV classic.

Honestly, nothing about the show really interested me enough to check it out ...... until (and you knew that this was coming) I saw some photos of British actress Michelle Ryan who plays the new Jaime Sommers.

Wow! What a hottie.

I'm gonna have to "break down" and check it out after all, as soon as the writers strike allows more episodes to go into production.

I just hope that Oscar Goldman is still around to "fix me" if Michelle has an ongoing effect as strong as my initial reaction to this photo. [And there are better ones still floating around the net for you avid surfers].

Friday, January 25, 2008

1970's Flashback: Man-Bat

Dr. Kirk Langstrom, a scientist specializing in the study of bats, develops an extract that is intended to give humans a bat's sonar sense and then tests the formula on himself because he is becoming deaf. While the extract works, it has a horrible side effect: transforming him gradually into a hideous human bat in Detective Comics #400 (December 1970) - Man-Bat also received his own short-lived series several years later.

Langstrom first clashes with the Batman when he tries to steal the chemicals needed to reverse his transformation, but his control over the new animalistic instincts resulting from his bat-like state is tenuous, and Batman is forced to subdue him in order to administer the antidote.
Dr. Langstrom later refines his serum, enabling him to retain his human intelligence while in bat form, and allowing himself control over his transformations. He works for a time as a detective and independent crime fighter as Man-Bat, marries and has a daughter. Eventually his instability returns and he is left unable to control his transformations. In this condition, he again clashes with Batman in the Batcave (which he finds by following other bats through the network of caverns; although he does not recall its location while in human form, and he never discovers Batman's secret identity), believing — erroneously — that his daughter is dead and that Batman is somehow responsible.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

1970's Flashback: Sons of the Tiger

"When three are called and stand as one...As one they'll fight, their will be done...For each is born anew, The Tiger's Son."

The Sons of the Tiger were martial arts heroes whose series ran in Marvel Comics, The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu magazine. The series was created by Gerry Conway and drawn by Dick Giordano.

Lin Sun (Chinese, leader of the trio) is walking back from a Martial arts tournament with his 1st place trophy when he is attacked by ninja in front of his school in San Francisco. After defeating the villains, he goes into the "Tiger Dojo" which has been ransacked and finds a dying Master Kee. The old man tells him that forces in this world would destroy us and points to a box on a shelf before he dies. In the box Lin finds three amulets of power made of jade shaped like a tiger's head and two claws: the symbol of their school. The inscription at the base of the box reads: When three are called and stand as one, as one they'll fight, their will be done...For each is born anew, The Tiger's Son.

Soon, Lin meets up with his two friends, Abe Brown (African-American from the streets of Harlem) and Bob Diamond (a Caucasian actor) who have also been attacked by ninja. Lin recounts the events leading to Master Kee's death and gives each of them one of the Jade Tiger claw amulets. They discover that when they join hands and chant the inscription from the box they become mystically connected. Their martial arts skills combine to become one force: their physical abilities become tripled when they wear the amulets. During the series, the trio encounters "The Silent Ones", an evil organization with mystical ties who are attempting to rule the world.

In Deadly Hands #19, the trio breaks up and Lin Sun throws all three amulets into an alley trashcan. There Puerto Rican Hector Ayala finds the amulets and wears them to become The White Tiger. The Sons of the Tiger appeared during the next two stories: "A Beginning" and "To Claw the Eyes of Night" to help establish The White Tiger stories, but only Abe Brown is seen periodically after that.


When I first read writer Ward Rubrecht's column from the Minneapolis/St. Paul City Pages last week, I didn't quite know what to make of it. Here are select portions from the article, so you decide for yourself:

"BY MOST OBSERVERS' RECKONING, between 150 and 200 real-life superheroes, or "Reals" as some call themselves, operate in the United States, with another 50 or so donning the cowl internationally. These crusaders range in age from 15 to 50 and patrol cities from Indianapolis to Cambridgeshire, England. They create heroic identities with names like Black Arrow, Green Scorpion, and Mr. Silent, and wear bright spandex or black ninja suits. Almost all share two traits in common: a love of comic books and a desire to improve their communities.

It's rare to find more than a few superheroes operating in the same area, so a community has sprung up online. In February, a burly, black-and-green-clad New Jersey-based Real named Tothian started Heroes Network, a website he says functions "like the UN for the real-life superhero community."

Last October, an organization called Superheroes Anonymous issued an invitation to any and all real-life superheroes: Come to Times Square to meet other Reals face-to-face and discuss the future of the movement. The community roiled with discussion of the invitation—was it a trap by an as-yet-unknown real-life super villain? In the end, only a dozen Reals attended, but the gathering attracted the notice of the New York Times and the BBC, which gave the budding league of justice worldwide ink.

"We're basically normal people who just find an unusual way to do something good," Geist says. "Once you get suited up, you're a hero and you've got to act like one."

A recent thread on Heroes Network debated whether it was appropriate for a Real to carry a shotgun in his patrol vehicle."

Fantasy-meets-reality, fanboy extremism, utter foolishness?

Who the hell knows?

Just when you think you've seen it all, the world proves otherwise. It is difficult to cast judgement on these folks, but given the benefit of the doubt, the best that they can hope for is that one of them doesn't get the living shit beat out of them [ or worse] by a "real" bad guy that they attempted to bust or just some vigilante-disdaining law enforcement officer who objects to their encroachment on official turf.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

So, how do you pronounce your last name?

Those lips, those eyes, those nose …..

Canadian actress Emmanuelle Vaugier has appeared on the big screen in 40 Days and 40 Nights, Secondhand Lions and Saw II. On television she has run the gamut from One Tree Hill (recurring role), Monk & CSI: NY (recurring role) to comedy such as Two and a Half Men (recurring role) and several genre favorites like Charmed, Supernatural and Smallville. Vaugier was also the original Painkiller Jane on the SciFi channel pilot for that series.

All those recurring roles clearly point out the fact that the incredible Emmanuelle is not one to be forgotten. Indeed, she is definitely one of the hottest women on the planet. I have to admit that I’m very much in love with her, but it’s a pure love that isn’t threatening or anything.

I give her the benefit of the doubt that she has better taste than to indulge in a sordid dalliance with someone like me. Still, one can dream!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Heath Ledger passes away .....

Sad, sad news today concerning the death of actor Heath Ledger. The 28 year old was found unresponsive at mid-afternoon by a housekeeper in a New York apartment building. Although some details are sketchy, early speculation by the media seems to suggest that the cause is either accidental overdose of over-the-counter sleeping pills or possibly suicide.

It was particularly disturbing to hear media outlets pointing a finger to Ledger's recent role as the Joker in the yet-to-be-released Batman sequel, The Dark Knight, which is due out this summer.

Ledger separated from his fiance, Michelle Williams late last year, but the two were parents of a young daughter

Ledger starred in or was a featured player in a string of successful films including The Patriot, Monster's Ball, A Knight's Tale and Brokeback Mountain (for which he received an Academy Award nomination). Early indications are that the actor really gives a tour de force performance as Batman's arch nemesis in the upcoming film.

Condolences go out to his family, friends and his many fans - of whom I am gladly one.

Coming soon: Marvel solicitations for The Twelve # 2-4

The Twelve # 2
February 6, 2008

The Twelve time-lost Mystery Men of World War II adjust to the reality of life in the 21st century. But where do you go, what do you do, when everybody you knew is either dead and buried or in old-age homes, and the future you thought you were fighting for turned out to be radically different from what you imagined?

The Twelve # 3
March 5, 2008

How will your now-elderly family react when you return to them after an absence of 63 years? That’s the crisis of the soul faced by Mister E, and an emotional confrontation that shines a spotlight on secrets about his past and heritage. Plus, the origin of the Fiery Mask! And golden age Zombies!

The Twelve # 4
April 2008

As the savage murders continue, and members of the Twelve come under a cloud of suspicion, tensions flare, and hero faces off against hero! Plus, the unbelievable origin of underground secret agent Rockman!

The Battle Flag

South Carolinian David Beasley ordered the Confederate battle flag to be removed from the top of the South Carolina capitol dome to a place nearby on the capitol grounds, reversing previous decades of intransigence on this issue within the state where the American Civil War first began [in 1861], during his one term as governor (1995-1999). In 2003, Beasley was given the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award by U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) for his unpopular decision to remove the Confederate flag from atop the South Carolina capitol. Beasley’s decision was partially to blame for his failure to win reelection in his home state.

The flag now rests in a place of proper contextual prominence on the statehouse grounds, given its historical significance. However the flag issue continues to generate much cultural division both in and out of South Carolina; but it is particularly sad to see protests staged about this matter on Martin Luther Kings birthday.

Rather than take the day to recognize the late civil rights leaders positive achievements, NAACP leaders annually revisit the capitol to push for "total" removal of this emblem of the Confederacy. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples continues a tragic slide towards marginalization in far worse ways, but their faulty perception of the battle flags relevance to MLK's observed holiday is unfortunate.

The long fought for federal holiday could be better served, than simply used as a platform for continued argument. Like it or lump it, the Civil War and its emblems can't just be "whitewashed" out of existence and individuals or groups who choose to be offended or outraged ad infinitem, have more than demonstrated that they can't be appeased.

Even when the right thing was done by Gov. Beasley years ago.

Monday, January 21, 2008

1970's Flashback: Red Sonja

Red Sonja the She-Devil with a Sword, although loosely based on Robert E. Howard's character Red Sonya of Rogatino, was created for Marvel Comics by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith. Sonja first appeared in Conan the Barbarian #23 (Feb. 1973).

Red Sonja has become the female barbarian archetype; both fierce and stunningly beautiful, and who typically wears armor resembling a bikini. Her origin story, "The Day of the Sword", first appeared in Kull and the Barbarians #3 also written by Thomas, with Doug Moench and Howard Chaykin illustrating.

Red Sonja lived with her family in the Hyrkanian steppes (equivalent to modern Ukraine/Russia). When she had just turned 17 years old, a group of mercenaries murdered her family, burned down their home and she was brutally raped by the leader, who left her in shame. Answering her cry for revenge, the red goddess Scathach appeared to her, and granted Sonja incredible skill with swords and other weapons on the condition that she would never have sex with any man unless he first defeated her in fair combat.

Trivia: Elfquest creator Wendy Pini often appeared as Red Sonja at conventions during the 1970's in full chainmail bikini, as part of artist Frank Thorne's traveling wizard show. Wendy was one seriously hot chick as the sword-weilding Sonja.

Luck and Pluck

Horatio Alger, Jr. originally intended to become a poet. Born in January of 1832, the Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Harvard University, who studied under Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, is best known for penning over 100 rags-to-riches stories. In fact, any tale of triumph over adversity is still referred to as a "Horatio Alger story."

A nicer description of fictional comic book heroes doesn't exist!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Classic Cuties: Lisa Marie

Lisa Marie Smith met movie director Tim Burton at a New York strip club on New Year’s Eve in 1992, just as she had quit modeling for Calvin Klein. The two claimed to have bonded over mutually witnessing two UFO sightings in California. Engaged to Burton from 1993 to 2001 (although they never married or had children), Lisa Marie [ as she bills herself] appeared in small roles in most of his films made during this time. Many of her films emphasized her voluptuous physique, but gave her minimal dialogue.

Burton abruptly ended their relationship following the premiere of his 2001 remake of Planet of the Apes in which Lisa Marie had a small role alongside Burton's new girlfriend, with whom he later had a son, Helena Bonham-Carter. Lisa Marie has not appeared in a film since then.

She made memorable appearances in Ed Wood, Mars Attacks!, Sleepy Hollow and Planet of the Apes.

Quiet please. I am analyzing.

Forbidden Planet is a 1956 MGM/Warner Bros. release that features a number of Oscar-nominated special effects, groundbreaking use of an all-electronic music score, and the first screen appearance of both the famous Robby the Robot and the famous C-57D flying saucer starship. Inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest, although the plot is very different, the film notable is its effective use of well designed sets and matte paintings.

In the early 2200s, the United Planets Cruiser C-57D is sent to the planet Altair IV, sixteen light-years from Earth, to determine what happened to the Bellerophon expedition some twenty years earlier. As they arrive, the crew detects an immense power source scanning the ship.

They are contacted by Dr. Edward Morbius, the Bellerophon's sole survivor (along with his daughter), who warns them to leave without providing any reason. Upon landing, they are met by Robby the Robot, who takes them to Morbius' home. Morbius explains that after the expedition's arrival, an unknown force wiped out everyone in his party and vaporized the Bellerophon. Only he, his wife (who later died of natural causes) and infant daughter survived. Morbius fears that the same fate may await the crew of the C-57D.
Commander Adams and his crew meet Morbius' daughter Altaira, who is now nineteen years old and has grown up bereft of the knowledge of any male except her father. Morbius informs them that he has been reconstructing the history of the Krell, the long-extinct natives of the planet, who had possessed a technology far in advance of that of the humans, but had all died 200,000 years before in one mysterious night of destruction. The crew are shown an intact & self-maintaining underground Krell laboratory, dubbed a "nursery", which includes a "plastic educator" brain-booster machine that resulted in the death of the captain of the Bellerophon. Morbius explains that his attempts to use the educator put him into a coma for almost two days, but also resulted in a significantly increased IQ, enabling him to build Robby the Robot and other inventions.
Following the mysterious murder of the Chief Engineer, and the deployment of perimeter security devices, the invisible intruder (dubbed a “chimera” by Dr. Ostrow) returns to the ship the following night, and is revealed by the energy neutron-particle-beam guns found to be a huge, roaring, leonine biped. The attack kills Lt. Farman, Science Officer Doherty and Gunner's Mate Ellis.
Commander Adams and Doc Ostrow go to confront Morbius, allowing Ostrow to use the Krell educator machine. However, before he dies from its effects, Ostrow gasps out that the machine creates monsters from the id; the true explanation for the extinction of the Krell, the death of the Bellerophon’s crew and now, the attacks which are being caused by Morbius himself.
Although Morbius' conscious mind was not strong enough to control the machine, his subconscious was and did. His deepest desire is simply to be left alone to study the Krell, and his subconscious is using the Machine to fulfill that wish. Ultimately, Altaira chooses to leave the planet with Commander Adams, despite the risks posed by this defiance of her father.In the climactic attack, the monster breaks into the Krell nursery to which they have fled. Morbius, finally accepting the awful truth, throws himself between the monster and his daughter. After he is mortally injured the monster instantaneously disappears. He directs Adams to put the Krell machine into overload to initiate the destruction of the planet, realizing that the machine is too dangerous to be used by any race that cannot fully control its subconscious desires. Altaira, Robbie, and the surviving crew members escape to a safe distance where they witness the destruction of the Altair IV, and then prepare for the trip to Earth.

Trivia: Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry has credited Forbidden Planet as being a major inspiration for his own classic sci-fi series. * The post title is a line said by Robby the Robot in the film.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

We shall be waiting for your answer.

Produced in the wake of World War II, with the world leery about atomic bombs in the early days of the Cold War, The Day the Earth Stood Still is a classic 1951 sci-fi film released by 20th Century Fox that tells the story of a humanoid-alien who comes to Earth to warn humanity not to take their conflicts into space, lest they will face devastating consequences. The film strongly and iconically addresses issues of violence, politics, and the fear of global annihilation.

Klaatu’s spaceship lands in Washington, DC. where he declares that he has come in peace on a mission of goodwill, however when he activates a small device that opens with a snap, Klaatu is shot and wounded by a nervous soldier. In response, a large robot called Gort steps out of the spaceship and melts all weapons present without harming the soldiers, until the wounded Klaatu orders him to cease. Klaatu explains the "weapon" was a gift to the President and could have been used to study the other planets.

Taken to Walter Reed Hospital to recover, Klaatu is rebuffed in his attempt to organize a meeting of world leaders, instead he is held prisoner; although he later easily escapes into the night.

Befriending the residents of a boarding house, Klaatu endeavors to understand humans through this interaction and is told by a young boy, Bobby, that the greatest person in the world today is leading American scientist, Professor Barnhardt, who lives nearby. When the professor is absent, Klaatu solves an advanced mathematical problem written on a blackboard, before leaving his address with the housekeeper. Later, Klaatu warns the professor that other planets know that human beings have developed atomic power and will not allow this to endanger them. Klaatu accepts an offer to speak at a meeting of world scientists that Barnhardt is organizing, but the scientist is stunned when Klaatu declares that if his message is rejected by the leaders of the nations, "Planet Earth will be eliminated." The professor soberly pleads that Klaatu first provide a minor demonstration of his power as a warning.

Following a worldwide demonstration of his vast power, Klaatu is shot dead by the army. Bobby’s mother Helen follows his earlier instruction to tell the robot Gort, "Klaatu barada nikto," if anything had happened to him.

Gort then retrieves Klaatu's corpse, brings him back to the spaceship, and using equipment on board, miraculously restores him to life. Klaatu steps out of the spaceship and speaks to the assembled scientists. He tells them that Earth's penchant for violence and first steps into space have drawn the attention of other space-faring worlds. These worlds have created a race of robot enforcers like Gort, and given them absolute power to deal with any outbreak of violence. He warns that Earth can either abandon warfare and peacefully join other space-faring powers – or be totally destroyed. "The decision rests with you." He then enters the spaceship and departs.

Trivia: The post title is a quote spoken by Klaatu (Michael Rennie) during the films clmactic speech.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

From the Dust Bin: Amazing Spider-Man Annual # 6

From November 1969, the all-reprint Amazing Spider-Man Special [Annual] # 6 was my first exposure to the Secret Six, a collection of Spidey's most disturbing foes - bound by their mutual loathing of everyones friendly neighborhood wallcrawler.

Dr. Octopus, Kraven the Hunter, the Vulture, Electro, Mysterio and the Sandman presented a united front in their nefarious attempt to quash the arachnid hero once and for all, but you already know who won out.

This collected trio of previous Ditko tales (including Spideys 1st meeting with the Fantastic Four) was one of a handful of silver age gems that helped hook me into a lifelong love of comics.

I'll use the third tube.

Yesterdays Associated Press report about a Texas UFO siting caused me to reminisce about some of the cool sci-fi movies over the decades, so I will do a few posts on some of my favorites.

This Island Earth was released by Universal Pictures International in 1955. The Technicolor film is credited with paving the way for more ambitious genre films. In the well-regarded script, Dr. Cal Meacham receives an unusual package in lieu of what he had actually ordered. He receives a kit to build a very complex communication device called an interocitor. When finished, Meacham receives a message on it from a mysterious man named Exeter, who tells him he has passed the test he was given to participate in a special research project Exeter is running.

Intrigued, Meacham visits Exeter's facility, and finds an international group of top-flight scientists already present--including his old flame, Dr. Ruth Adams. However, Cal is immediately suspicious of the peculiar-looking group of men leading the mission.
Cal and Ruth decide to slip away from the facility, but as they take off in a small plane, they watch as the facility and all its inhabitants are incinerated, and their plane is drawn up inside a flying saucer. Inside they learn that Exeter and his band are aliens from the planet Metaluna, who’ve come to Earth seeking scientists to help them defend their planet in the war against the evil Zagons.
They arrive to find Metaluna under full enemy bombardment and falling quickly to the Zagons. Exeter's leader now intends to relocate their population to Earth and insists that Meacham and Adams be subjected to the Thought Transference Chamber in order to subjugate their free will. Exeter decides to help the humans escape, thus revolting against his own kind, before they enter the brain-reprogramming facility.

Cal overpowers the mutant creature accompanying them (but not before it wounds Exeter) and the three escape back to Earth. Upon entering Earth's atmosphere, Exeter sends the two on their way in their small plane, but he is too wounded to continue. With his ship nearly depleted of energy, he allows the saucer to crash into the sea.
Trivia: Many critics cite the films special effects as the strongest element in This Island Earth, which were ground breaking for their time and are still considered by many film buffs to be comparable to modern special effects. * [Note] The post title is a quote made by Exeter in the film.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Large silent object with bright lights was flying low and fast

It's 2008, and in the wake of last years Civil War crossover in the Marvel universe, anything is apparently possible.

No? Just ask Spider-Man.

He used to be married, his best friend was dead, his aunt was about to be [again] and everybody on the planet knew his "secret" identity, after he foolishly unmasked on television at the behest of billionaire/idiot Tony Stark.

Now the Associated Press is reporting that a UFO has been seen repeatedly over the past few weeks in Stephenville, Texas. Since the report is copyrighted, you'll have to seek it out for yourself, but the obvious source behind these wacky news reports is government testing of a brand-spanking new S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier.

I'm just saying!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Strike tailguns the JLA

As you can see, there were some mixed emotions present among the mighty members of the Justice League of America upon hearing of Warner Bros. Studios likely delay on the proposed movie version of their venerable team.

Justice League producers and Warner Bros. will decide whether to begin shooting from the script "as-is"or backburner the whole project until after the Hollywood writers' strike. Warner Bros. has to make the call by tomorrow – January 15th – in order to green light the film for a spring production start for a summer 2009 release, or else shelve it (along with any rewrite) until after the pesky strike is resolved. Adding insult-to-injury, the sequel to Superman Returns has been pushed back to 2010 (also due to the writer’s strike).

Only the Man of Steel, already heavily burdened by his awesome duties, appears to relish the extra downtime that this eventuality will allow him to enjoy over the next couple of years.

Friday, January 11, 2008

My 1st Comic Book Convention

One of the first full blown comic book conventions that ever I attended was the 1984 Heroes Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. I had previously been to smaller mini-cons, most of which had been held by Heroes Con founder/organizer Shelton Drum, but after a stint in the Air Force, the '84 show was my real introduction to "larger" scale comic conventions.

Among many standout guests who appeared that year (including Star Trek's Ensign Chekov- Walter Koenig and Cerebus creator Dave Sim) were the DC comics "Superman trifecta": Julius Schwartz, Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson. I must admit that I've tended to judge every subsequent comic pro that I have been fortunate enough to meet against these three men.

They really made quite a positive impression on me!

"Julie" Schwartz continued to appear at Heroes annual summer con for many years up until his passing and Anderson has appeared several more times there as well, but sadly Curt Swan passed away the very summer that he was set to make a return appearance in Charlotte.

These men and so many of their peers, folks who created the golden and silver age of comics that has thrilled generations of fans were always courteous, jovial, engaging, respectful and humble towards their fans every time that I observed them. Schwartz was somewhat bombastic, but that seemed to be part of who he was, Anderson & Swan were surprisingly humble in the face of fan adoration. Their contributions to the Superman Legacy, DC comics and fandom in general has been more than adequately (and justifiably documented), but one thing that summed up the impression that they made on me beyond those traits that I've already cited was their ... professionalism. These men never came across as primadonnas, and if any such group of pros could have deserved to suffer such an affliction, it would have been the legendary "Swanderson" team and their minority whip, Julie.

I have continued to be a regular Heroescon attendee and have also been to venues in much larger cities. At this point, I couldn't even really tally up the number of celebrity comic creators that I've had a chance to meet . . . . . this is a great hobby after all, but that 1984 Heroes Convention is, has and will remain one of my favorites ever. And let me add a "thank you" to my pal, Shelton for hosting all of those shows over the years AND for bringing so many awesome comics pros to the Queen City of the Carolinas.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

1970's Flashback (?): She-Hulk

Jennifer Walters is the small, somewhat shy cousin of Bruce Banner (aka the Incredible Hulk) and the daughter of Los Angeles County Sheriff William Morris Walters. Agents of crime boss Nicholas Trask, who had crossed paths with her father, shot and seriously wounded her on a day when Banner happened to be visiting. Since there were no donors with her blood type available, Banner provided blood for a transfusion; although his radioactive blood transformed Jennifer into the green-skinned She-Hulk when the mobsters tried to finish her off at the hospital.

As She-Hulk, Jennifer possessed powers similar to those of her cousin, but at a reduced level. She also possessed a less monstrous appearance and was also never prone to the type of rage-induced rampages of her famous cousin. Although initially, her transformations to She-Hulk were triggered by anger, Jennifer eventually gained control of her transformation when Michael Morbius cured her of a lethal blood disease.

Eventually, Jennifer decided that she is going to remain in her She-Hulk form permanently - preferring the freedom, confidence, and assertiveness that it gave her compared to her more timorous and fragile "normal" form. After a brief solo career, She-Hulk joined The Avengers and participated in the Secret Wars - sparking her long standing rivalry with the newly empowered Titania. Following Secret Wars, she temporarily replaced the Thing as a member of the Fantastic Four.

During her tenure with the F. F., the She-Hulk was instrumental in preventing a radiation leak aboard the downed S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier. However the radiation exposure had a drastic effect on Jennifer: she could now no longer transform back into her original form. However, this was an agreeable turn of events for her since she preferred being She-Hulk anyway, but it was revealed much later that her inability to transform was purely psychological.

Trivia: Although The Savage She-Hulk # 1 is cover dated February 1980, its Christmas holiday-themed advertising makes it clear that it was released late in 1979. Therefore, the She-Hulk is perhaps the last major creation of Stan Lee during his most prolific and critically acclaimed period, the 1960s and '70s.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Review: The Twelve # 1

Writer J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5) and artist Chris Weston (Enemy Ace: War in Heaven) just debuted the first issue of their year-long, twelve part Marvel Comics series called, The Twelve.

Billed as "A Thrilling Novel Of Tomorrow", The Twelve reintroduces an even dozen of Marvel's largely forgotten, golden age characters from way back in the 1940's when the company was known as Timely Comics. The Black Widow (the lone female hero), the Blue Blade, Captain Wonder, Dynamic Man, Electro the Robot, the Fiery Mask, the Laughing Mask, Master Mind Excello, Mr. E, the Phantom Reporter, Rockman and the Witness fall victim to Nazi scientists at the close of WWII and are left in suspended animation for the subsequent decades between then and now (August 2008; per the story).

Upon awakening, the heroes quickly ascertain the truth of their situation and slowly begin to acclimate to the present day. Narrated by the Phantom Reporter, the tale effectively informs the reader of the heroes powers (or lack of same) and then jumps right into what is to be the maguffin. One of their number is apparently found murdered on the last page of this issue, but therein lies the rub. Despite adequate media indications that this very thing is the crux upon which the series will spin, the overall manner in which it plays out in the introductory issue is jarring to say the least.

The Phantom Reporters narration reveals that the "death" takes place much, much later than what we've just read of the heroes return to the world in this very issue, and also after they've just been encouraged to again take their places as heroes for the nation [in the wake of the huge Civil War crossover, to boot]. Indeed the physical appearance of the Phantom Reporter is certainly different on that last page, as is that of his obviously deceased former compatriot. As much as I was looking forward to this issue, the break took me immediately outside of the story that Straczynski was weaving - - - and unnecessarily so, in my opinion.

Fortunately the art is very good by Weston and it alone will draw me back for more of the mystery, but I hope that we aren't going to be similarly yin & yang'ed for ten more issues before everything is all-too-neatly tied up in the final issues denouement.

Either way, these quirky heroes are welcome back. Let's just hope that they all don't bite the bullet during the course of the series.

1970's Flashback: The Falcon

The Falcon (Sam "Snap" Wilson) first appeared in Captain America Vol. 1, #117 (Sept. 1969). Created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist Gene Colan, the Falcon most frequently works with Captain America, and also later became a member of the superhero team the Avengers.

The Falcon debuted nearly three years before Luke Cage, Marvel's first African-American solo series superhero. The Falcon is also the first superhero of African descent not to have the word "black" as part of his superhero name, preceding the John Stewart/ Green Lantern by over two years. Although the Falcon traded in his original green outfit and adopted his more familiar red & white costume at the onset of the 70’s, it wasn’t until Captain America # 170 (February 1974) when the Black Panther and his Wakandan scientists created artificial wings for the Falcon, providing him with the power of flight, that Sam Wilson really lived up to his avian name.

Trivia: The Falcon's deceased nephew Jim Wilson, was the Incredible Hulk's sometime-sidekick and one of the first openly HIV-positive comic-book characters.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

1970's Flashback: Warlock

Adam Warlock originally appeared in the two part Fantastic Four #66-67 (1967) as Him; an artificially created being produced by the scientific trio known as The Enclave. Him subsequently appeared as an adversary in Thor #165-166 before he was totally revamped as an allegorical Messiah figure by writer Roy Thomas and artist Gil Kane in Marvel Premiere #1 (April 1972).

This version featured Warlock on the genetically engineered planet Counter-Earth (located on the far side of the sun) for two issues before spinning off into its own title, The Power of Warlock, which ran through issue #8 (Aug. 1972 - Oct. 1973). After yet another quest appearance, this time in The Incredible Hulk # 177-178, Warlock received another reprieve under writer-artist Jim Starlin. In the critically acclaimed storyline "The Magus Saga",which began in Strange Tales #178-181 (Feb.-Aug. 1975) and continued into the revived Warlock series for issues #9-15 (Oct. 1975 - Nov. 1976), Starlin wrote, penciled (eventually co-penciling with Steve Leialoha, and initially self-inked an epic arc involving Warlock in war with a corrupt, religious space empire, his demagogue future self, and the cosmic super villain Thanos.

Monday, January 7, 2008

1970's Flashback: Ms. Marvel

As a qualifier,this week there will be four "1970's Flashbacks" focusing on Marvel Comics characters who originally appeared in the 1960's, but who achieved their greatest prominence beginning in the disco decade of the 70's. First up Carol Susan Jane Danvers aka Ms. Marvel.

The character first appeared (as the non-super-powered Carol Danvers) in Marvel Super-Heroes #13 (March 1968) and then as Ms. Marvel in Ms. Marvel #1 (January 1977). Danvers is a retired U.S. Air Force Intelligence agent turned NASA Security Chief, and a romantic interest to the extraterrestrial hero Captain Marvel. After she is caught in the radiation emitted by the explosion of the Kree "Psyche-Magnitron" device (technology which was derived from Marvel’s Kree home world), Carol gains superhuman strength and the ability to fly, among other talents, and becomes Ms. Marvel. During her series' short life span, Ms. Marvel was portrayed as a distinctly feminist hero. Following periods where she was involved with the Avengers & the X-Men; during which she was known as Binary and Warbird, Carol has returned to her identity of Ms. Marvel and is currently leader of the Mighty Avengers team.