Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Most Under Used Character: Wolverine

Most of you probably detected the sarcasm in this blog post title. Wolverine, simply put, is the most exploited character Marvel's got. It wasn't always this way.

Those of you old enough to remember recall a time when Wolverine wasn't associated with every fucking book Marvel published. You remember when he was just a funny-looking, short guy with a bad costume that made no sense. He started out in the Incredible Hulk book, and then continued in the Uncanny X-Men.
He wasn't the star of his own solo series. He did not co-star in every single book on the planet. There was one X title, and he was in it. There were no origin stories.

Simpler times.

There was a mini-series that came out. It was pretty decent and fairly well received. That series, which featured a great scene with a bear, was not the start of the overkill. I think, however, the excellent Kitty Pryde and Wolverine mini-series was ground zero for Marvel's merry mutant. It was the moment the light bulb went off and Marvel fully realized what a cash cow it had.

The mini-series was good. It came out of an era when the mini-series meant something. The character of Kitty Pryde changed forever. Wolverine went on to co-star/cameo in any new series, any series that needed a sales boost, and any series with a mutant in it. This, of course, led to his own series which had bad ideas (Madripoor) and brilliant ones (like when he was an enemy of the state). He became a member of the Fantastic Four along with Punisher and Ghost Rider. (Someone should have been shot over that one.) He was the image Marvel used when money was needed and was needed quickly. All of this only served to take a hero who was once mysterious and interesting and make him pedestrian and a bit of a joke.

Wolverine isn't my favorite X-Men. That would be Nightcrawler. I do think, however, that he has plenty of potential in him. I wish the origin would have never had been written, but I can understand the mindset behind it. I know he draws readers in, and I know many of them have been disappointed with the stories. Marvel would do well by relegating him back onto co-star status, though. Make him mysterious again. Make him a character worth reading instead of the joke he has become.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Okay, not really stolen, but borrowed. A friend of mine has gotten a gig with The Press Democrat and is doing a comic blog there called "Four Colors." He liked my name and did his own take on it. (I'm far more negative them him.) I'm proud of the guy, and it's good to see comic books get exposure on more mainstream sites.

Way to go Trevor.

You can all find the link to the side of the posts in The Batcave.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Cover Review: Uncanny X-Men #258 Marvel Legends Reprint

I imagine if you're already buying a Marvel Legends toy you are familiar with the X-Men. This cover would not make me a fan, however.

Psylocke is featured. You either love her or hate her. This image doesn't really portray her as the bad ass she can be. Instead, it's a little overly sexualized (which is something she always was), but also makes the comic seem like it's meant to appeal either to boys who haven't had the courage to talk to girls yet, or girls with power fantasies. Nothing wrong with either, but it doesn't represent the X-Men.

The background images fade into the background and if you stop looking at the cover for more than sixty seconds you end up forgetting about them. You do remember that "Not for Resale" blurb, as it breaks up the overall theme of the piece, but is apparently necessary (and often ignored).

Uncanny X-Men
have had some terrific covers. Many are iconic and are featured on many top cover lists. This will never make those lists as it is as forgettable as it is boring.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Marvel's Star Wars

If you were a Star Wars fan and a comic book fan in the late 1970s and early 1980s, you knew of and most likely read Marvel's Star Wars comic. Three annuals, 107 issues and the four-issue adaptation of Return of the Jedi, Marvel's series was the only fix fans had outside the movies and lame television specials. There were the novelizations, three Han Solo novels, three Lando Calrissian novels, and Alan Dean Foster's Splinter of the Mind's Eye (later adapted by Dark Horse), but the comic books felt right (even when they were oh-so-wrong).

Marvel gets some jabs now for the series. Jabba the Hutt in those early issues? Hideous. Jax? What were they thinking? But there were some great moments, too, like Boba Fett surviving his fate ... the first time. The hunt for Han Solo. The new Sith Lord. For me, the comic books kept the movies alive. Hell, it was one of two titles I first subscribed to. (And I never got that last issue, and it took me years to find. Thanks, Marvel, you bastard.) Getting it every month in the mail was just about as exciting as seeing The Empire Strikes Back. I never knew what I'd expect, but I knew it would be enjoyable.

I still read some of the Dark Horse titles today, but they don't feel the same. Sure, I like them, but that sense of wonder is gone. Perhaps its due to all the novels and video games. Maybe it's because the new films took some of that joy away. Looking back at my old Marvel comics, though, brings those old feelings right back. There are some great covers, stories, characters. Jo Duffy was my favorite writer. Solo my favorite character. Even Luke was a pleasure to read.

Purists balk at much of the comic's content, rightly claiming that the Dark Horse series is canon and maintains a much more even interpretation of the mythos. That's fairly true. After all, are there any fans who want to see those little furry creatures called Lahsbees show up in novel after novel, but who among us didn't thrill to see Solo try to save Boba Fett?

Marvel, as mentioned earlier, takes some good-natured ribbing over the series, but all of that criticism is also tempered with love. Any fan old enough to have read that series loved it. It was all we had, and we ate it up. We can joke about some of the strange and utterly crappy alien races the creators wrote stories around, but we didn't care then. We accepted it and had a good time reading it. It, like the movies, was fun ... and isn't that what you want out of a comic book series?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sarah Palin -- Comic Book Hero

Few female politicians have been honored with a comic book. Now, I haven't read this one and see no real reason to, as I am not a fan of the woman, but I imagine it's a toss-off job that reads exactly as one would expect it to. What I have discovered is that Palin (the real one, not the one competently drawn on this cover) is actually a composite of female heroes and villains.

First and foremost, Palin is as nutty as one of my favorite female characters -- Scarlet Witch. In fact, I can easily picture her whispering, "No more democrats." Poof! All but a handful are left. (If that every becomes the case, I hope the Kennedy Klan is not Left Behind.)

Palin's glasses also bring to mind Oracle. Put Palin in a wheelchair (please!), give her a headset and a Macbook Pro, and that bitch be laying down some important info to Limbaugh.

Overall, Palin's demeanor reminds me of the Goblin Queen. Can't you see her with a chalice ordering people (most likely her neighbors the Russians) captured and brought to her realm? I can, and it scares me.

I cannot prove any of this, but I think her dropping out of politics has everything to do with her wanting to put on tights (beware the camel toe, guvner) so she can fight crime in style. I picture her in some overpriced, yet modest get up (think Power Girl without the circle exposing her cleavage) that features yellow as its primary color with a red cape and thigh-high black boots. "She's dropping jaws and criminals! She's Alaskan Avenger! Defender of truth and pipelines. Advocate for victims and special needs children. She not only proves that crime doesn't pay, but that it can be painful. She's Alaskan Avenger! Friend to the downtrodden. Pal to the poor. And if you mention you vote democrat ... well, she'll help you, too! Heck, you may need even more help from ... the Alaskan Avenger!"

Either that or she is possibly the target of a much-needed criminal investigation.