Posts Tagged ‘ Nick Fury ’

Diversity in Comics- Why I’m Reading DC Books Again

Simon Baz- The latest Green Lantern

With the introduction of the new Green Lantern of Earth, Simon Baz, DC has blown up its fresh universe by introducing a Muslim-Arab American superhero at the centre of Geoff Johns‘ intricate Green Lantern series. This is not the first time DC has explored characters from different backgrounds, as their New 52 reboot has allowed them to emphasise more diversity, shaking up the previous white male role model and female damsel in distress characters that plagued the genre’s early years.

DC has played a major part of the shift, more so than Marvel I would argue. This year, for instance, Alan Scott was introduced as the first gay Green Lantern in the “Earth 2” title series set in an alternate universe away from the main books. Away from the Green Lantern universe, one of reboot’s most critically acclaimed books, Batwoman, explored Kate Kane’s personal struggles as well as her sexual orientation which has been praised by the general public and the character from the Batman universe has often been described as the highest profile gay character to appear in stories produced by DC Comics.

It’s not a matter of what company is taking the lead in the race to push diversity, it’s which one is doing it to craft intricate stories, and not just force publicity stunts. For instance Marvel featured the first gay wedding to happen in superhero comics this year, as characters Northstar and Kyle Jinadu were married in the pages of Astonishing X-Men #51. While it’s a move in the right direction, choosing two lesser-known characters in one of the smaller X-Men titles could be seen as Marvel playing it too safely. For instance, if the wedding was met with public backlash, Marvel could have easily swept it under the rug.

Where Marvel have faired better in the past, is making their black- American superhero Luke Cage feel like an natural part of their Avengers roster. The Avengers have long been based in New York, so it was fitting they had a hero who represented a more realistic modern-day resident of Harlem. It wasn’t so much of a publicity stunt, more so a natural progression of a character. However with The Avengers movie now the 3rd highest-grossing film of all time, logic dictates the Marvel Comics universe is now built to closely resemble their movies. For the meantime that presumably means, Luke Cage takes a backseat, while Marvel focus on making the public believe their new character Marcus Johnson, is the illegitimate son of Nick Fury, who grows up to look like Samuel L. Jackson and later turns out to be named Nick Fury himself. Forget diversity, it’s just cheap storytelling.

One character I’m really looking forward to see further developed is Cyborg from DC’s main Justice League title. What’s stopped me reading Justice League in the past is that it long felt like it was stuck in the past in terms of characters. Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern all came from diverse backgrounds for sure, but in terms of appearance, they all resemble typical white superheroes. With the New 52 reboot, writer Geoff Johns added Cyborg, who had previously been mainly featured in the Teen Titans group, to the main Justice League roster. While initially Cyborg’s inclusion seemed as if he primarily existed within the Justice League to act as their teleporter, upcoming plans reveal there’s more to come from Victor Stone.

If there’s one lesson Marvel can take from DC in how to reboot successfully, it’s focus on story and not what’s happening in other media. With no major films to resemble (yet), the DC reboot has been free to create interesting stories for characters from all different backgrounds. There’s still room for improvement, it would be nice to see a female Green Lantern soon, and perhaps some more emphasis on characters like Supergirl. For now though, the New 52 reboot has me reading DC books again.

 

Avengers Assemble #1 Review

The Avengers (2012 film)

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It’s not often I do comic book reviews, but when I heard Marvel were releasing an in-continuity title for audiences seeing The Avengers movie, I was intrigued. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, with art by Mark Bagley, does this latest Avengers offering serve up anything different than what’s on shelves already?

The hook with this book is that from the start, all of the movie Avengers are present. Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye and Black Widow all feature, however there’s no sign yet of Nick Fury. Though considering the 616 version of Nick Fury may alienate movie fans that’s understandable.

Avengers Assemble #1 opens with Bendis highlighting the rise of a new Zodiac. Praise must be given for Bendis for providing a threat for the team that differs from the movie. Bagley’s artwork leaves a little to be desired, up close his artwork is brilliant, from long angles it’s lacking in detail.

In terms of characters, Clint Barton steals the show. Bendis shows he can write Hawkeye brilliantly, showcasing his sarcastic traits that prove the Ultimates dress-up hasn’t changed much about the character. As a long-term reader, I felt as if a Bucky reference was due when Clint was hitting on Widow, but I can understand why none was used. Captain America, Thor and Iron Man, get enough screen time, but there wasn’t really any reason as to why the team was together, other than being at the right place at the right time. If Bendis really wanted inspiration for how to formulate the team, he should have taken notes of his own New Avengers: Breakout arc. That’s how you form a new Avengers team.

My main criticism would be how the Hulk is handled. From this take, it’s easy to see why Bendis has refrained from largely using the green giant in his eight-year Avengers run. In this book, the Hulk is reverted back to his dumbed-down mindless version. For a long-term Marvel reader, this is a little distracting, as that’s not usually how the Hulk is written these days, however it could because a dumbing-down is in store for the Hulk during Jason Aaron‘s Incredible Hulk epic.

To conclude, Avengers Assemble is a fantastic jumping on point for Avengers movie fans, while still offering something new for long-term readers. It’s light on continuity, but full of great dialogue and solid characterisation. In terms of how well I think Avengers Assemble will do in the future, hopefully there’s more to come from this book to make it stand out amongst the million other Avengers titles.

Rating: 7/10

 

New Avengers Trailer Deconstruction And Analysis

I didn’t think it was possible, but The Avengers is looking better than anybody could have ever predicted. Debuting exclusively via Apple, the new trailer offers us tons of fantastic action scenes, a closer look at Loki‘s ‘army’ and some intriguing story moments. Simply put, it was one of the best movie trailers I’ve ever seen.

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1) Continuity Counts

One of my main fears when Marvel first announced their intention to build a cinematic shared universe was that it would be difficult to interweave the separate films into the same continuity. True, there have been some hiccups here and there, and the recasting of James Rhodes/War Machine and Bruce Banner didn’t help. Thankfully though, this trailer at least confirms that the ending of Iron Man 2 will be addressed in The Avengers. I’m a strong believer that when this film hits, it’s going to bring all the Marvel films before it into better context. Plus, the new Stark tech looks fantastic.

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2) There’s Conflict In The Team

For comic book fans out there, you may have noticed how this scene looks as if it has been taken straight from the pages of Mark Millar‘s and Bryan Hitch‘s revolutionary series Ultimates 2. In the original trailer, we saw signs of hostilities between Captain America and Thor, but now this new trailer reveals more to the story. Has Loki manipulated events and turned the other Avengers against his brother? Either way, praise must be given to Joss Whedon for bringing this interesting dynamic to the team.

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3) Maria Hill Finally

Here we finally get a shot of Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill standing alongside Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg). We haven’t seen much of her so far, but knowing Whedon’s talent for handling female characters, I’m sure Maria Hill will be represented well on screen.

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4) Mind Control Or Double Agent?

An interesting moment here is seeing Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) engaged in combat with her former partner Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). First assumptions would be that Loki has somehow used mind control over Hawkeye and is able to use the Avenger as a weapon against Widow. As a big fan of The Ultimates, I can’t help but wish this shot represented Black Widow revealing herself as a double agent working against the team. I doubt that’s going to happen (there’s not even the slightest hint of Russian) but it certainly would raise the stakes of the movie to another level.

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5) More Ultimates Genius

Here is another shot that brought back memories of reading the opening of The Ultimates 2. In that universe, Cap jumping out of planes is a trademark aspect to the character and it looks brilliant on-screen in The Avengers.

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6) Hulk Is Loose

Another pivotal screenshot, this time perhaps revealing that Loki is able to control the Hulk, and even manages to chase down Black Widow possibly on board the Hellicarrier. I’m really happy with how the trailer is able to convey the mess Loki is causing. It really is exceeding my expectations.

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7) Kneel Before Zo.. Loki

Perhaps my favourite moment from the trailer, simply because it highlights how Loki isn’t on Earth to simply destroy it or invade it, he wants to rule it. Anyone following the set pictures online knows how this ends up, but for now, Loki is winning.

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8) Hawkeye Is In The Film

In case you didn’t know, Hawkeye is in this film. He only gets a few snippets of screen time in the trailer, and even Agent Coulson gets more dialogue than him. Why do I get the feeling he’s going to take down the monster revealed at the end of the trailer though?

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9) Thor Imprisoned

Once again, another scene that looks as if it has been taken straight from The Ultimates, this time revealing Thor imprisoned by SHIELD as he screams in anger. What’s interesting is that Thor is imprisoned; yet still holding his hammer Mjölnir. Why would SHIELD imprison Thor while still armed with his hammer? Something doesn’t add up, is Loki yet again behind this?

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10) The Skrulls, Or Kree, Or Something Else Entirely

We are yet again teased at the identity of Loki’s alien army. We’ve been told time and time again they’re not Skrulls, yet that seems the most logical choice. I’m beginning to think they will likely be a new race created by Whedon himself.

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11) Hulk Is A Hero

Putting aside any rumours of Hulk being a villain in this movie, here we see Hulk catching a fallen Iron Man after taking heavy fire while attacking the invading army. It’s a shot that looks as if it has been taken straight from the comics. The Hulk has slipped off radar in recent years, it looks as if Whedon is about to put him straight back at the top. Mark Ruffalo also impresses as Bruce Banner, reminiscent of the classic Bill Bixby series.

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12) The Midgard Serpent?

Easily the best Easter egg ever found in a trailer. Is this a nod to the classic Thor villain, the Midgard Serpent, or a different take on the Marvel dragon Fin Fang Foom? Either way, the mechanical beast has the potential to make for a fantastic cinematic battle. May cannot come soon enough.

Deconstructing: The Avengers Superbowl Trailer

(Warning: Spoilers In This Article)

Debuting during the Superbowl, the action packed trailer for The Avengers offers us our first glimpse of the full Avengers team assembled. Simply put, the action packed trailer was just pure brilliance. Here I will look at some of the interesting moments from the trailer, and discuss how I believe The Avengers will be one the best comic book movies of all time.

Unlike many suggestions on the internet that seem to imply the scene with Tony Stark and Steve Rogers is when they first meet, to me, it looks more like they’ve just been ordered to make up after a brief spat by Nick Fury. One thing that separates the Avengers from the Justice League is that it constantly feels as if the personalities of the Avengers team shouldn’t be together. Yet somehow, the team works brilliant. With a huge ensemble move like this, each character needs to have unique distinctive qualities, and based on what we’ve seen so far, they’re bound to clash from time to time.

Here we see Iron Man flying towards what looks to be an oncoming alien invasion. Some have argued that Iron Man is flying towards the alien mother ship, however it looks more like he is flying towards the portal that links the alien world to Earth. Upon Iron Man and the Avengers Quinjet entering the portal, it looks as if Thor thunderously lands on the Quinjet, initially believing the Avengers to be either imposters or belonging to the alien species. This is why I think Thor attacks Captain America in the previous trailer.

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We also get our first glimpse of ‘Loki‘s’ Army invading Earth. Marvel have done very well here, as they have revealed the alien army’s appearance, yet it’s still difficult to determine what species they are. Everything seems to suggest Skrull, yet FOX apparently owns the rights to them. It’s definitely not Frost Giants as some have implied, as the aliens seen here are far too technology advanced to have come from an ice realm. The same goes for Atlanteans. I’m thinking it’s a lesser-known species such as the aliens from the Breakworld or even The Sons of Muspell. Hopefully though, there will be some hidden references to army in previous Marvel films so that Nick Fury creating the Avengers feels organic like it was planned all along, and not forced for the sake of giving this movie a villain

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Whedon promised that every character in this movie would have their moment, and this trailer certainly confirms that. From Cap performing death-defying leaps, to Hawkeye shooting off arrows while free falling, it looks so far as if no character is going to get left behind.

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Seeing the team fully Assembled proves to me that Joss Whedon seems on intent on delivery the perfect comic book move. One that is action packed, over the top and not held bad by contemporary realism. He also seems to have captured the one element that other superhero ensemble movies seem to miss, teamwork! With the heroes combined, there is a sense that whatever threat they’re facing is incredibly serious, and it really adds some gravitas to the movie, which the previous trailer failed to do. My only complaint would be that compared to Cap, Iron Man, Thor and Hulk, Black Widow arming herself with one gun is a little underwhelming. Hopefully there’s more to her than what meets the eye, and based on Whedon’s history with writing strong female characters, I’m sure Black Widow will impress on screen.

Towards the end of the trailer we see the confrontation between Loki and Tony Stark. After being told by Stark that the team is called the Avengers, Loki tries to threaten Stark by claiming he has an army, to which Stark replies, “We have a Hulk”. It’s cheesy, but it’s brilliant. It highlights how well the dialogue is being handled in this movie, as well as illustrating how dark Loki has become.

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My second favourite screen shot from the trailer involves the Hulk. It’s shows our first glimpse of a fully transformed Banner in action, as he smashes through a building and punches an aircraft high in the air. It’s brilliant. Simply because the Incredible Hulk is one of Marvel’s best characters, but some average movies and meant that his popularity has declined over the years. By including the Hulk in The Avengers, Marvel has a chance to put the Green Goliath back at the top where he belongs.

So there’s my deconstruction of the Superbowl Avengers trailer. While it was a little short, it’s completely revived my interest in the movie after a lack of serious marketing. Now though, I can’t wait for the movie to hit theatres, and I want to hear your suggestions about Loki’s army, and any other thoughts about the movie.

Captain America 2 Is Happening

Neal McDonough as Dum Dum Dugan as depicted in...

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Continuing my Avengers centric theme, it’s just been revealed that Captain America 2 will start filming this year. Speaking to IMDB, Neal McDonough, the actor who played Dum Dum Dugan in last year’s Captain America: The First Avenger, revealed that a Cap sequel would likely start production by the end of this year. He also revealed he is set to star in a Nick Fury movie, alongside Samuel L. Jackson.

It was always likely a Cap sequel would take place. For me, it was last year’s dark horse. A movie many predicted would flop, actually managing to be one of Marvel’s best yet. Sure, it was lacking in some areas, particularly villain and side character development, but it was a fun, story driven film. A sequel has a chance to build on the excellent groundwork already set, and deliver what could potentially be Marvel’s finest movie yet. Like the last movie, Captain America 2 will likely face a struggle to win over the sceptics. There are some ways it can help itself though, and here’s my prediction for how it may turn out.

1) Introduce The Winter Soldier:

This has to be the main draw. When we last saw Cap’s partner Bucky (Sebastian Stan), he was plummeting to his death over a mountain. It’s a little different to his comic book origin, but Cap fans expect to see the Winter Soldier in film form at some point. Bucky Barnes has reached an all time popularity high, after writer Ed Brubaker controversially brought him back to life in the pages of Captain America in 2005. Adding him to a Cap sequel, will only aid the movie by giving it an emotional driven story. X-Men: First Class showed superhero films about friendship can be done well, so Cap should do the same.

2) Mix The Modern Day Setting With Flashbacks:

What makes the Captain America comics so compelling is that they are set in the present day, but constantly feature flashbacks from various WW2, and Cold War scenes. There’s no reason the Cap sequel couldn’t replicate the success of the comics using this formula. WW2 settings could be used to add gravitas to the Steve and Bucky friendship, while a Cold War setting would be brilliant for exploring the origin of the Winter Soldier. It would be challenge to weave through the timelines, maintaining a constant narrative, but if Marvel pulled it off it could easily be their best movie yet.

3) You Don’t Need Hugo Weaving For The Red Skull:

Cap fans were disappointed last year, when Hugo Weaving announced he has no plans to return as the Red Skull. Granted Weaving was impressive in the roll, but Marvel are no strangers to recasting, and a certain plot device allows them to easily recast the Red Skull for a Cap sequel. In the comics, the Cosmic Cube is responsible for transferring the Skull’s conscious into other bodies, and the Skull even used this to take on the form of Aleksander Lukin, the man left in charge of the Winter Soldier. The plot is already there, Marvel could easily transfer it on screen. The only problem is, it wouldn’t make for great popcorn entertainment, as the story wouldn’t involve as much action as the last film.

So there are three paths I think a sequel to Captain America could explore. With Marvel risking oversaturation of the comic book movie market, every film they produce needs to win over critics and fans. A Cap sequel could easily do this.

 

Should Marvel Reboot?

Various characters of the Marvel Universe. Pro...

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DC’s New 52 reboot is one of the most significant things to happen to comics in decades. There’s no doubt that DC has done well to make their comics reader-friendly by wiping away most of their continuity. It was a risky move, but the result has put DC back on top over Marvel with sales figures. With Marvel falling behind for the first time in years, it raises the question whether it’s time for them to initiate a total reboot, in attempt to wipe their increasing convoluted continuity clean and become more accessible for new readers?

Yes Marvel Need To Reboot

1) Their Continuity Is Too Messy

One of the biggest challenges for new readers of Marvel comics is to try and come to terms with the X-Men continuity. Spanning for over fifty years, the X-Men books are almost unrecognisable to new readers. Gone is the Professor X and his X-Men vs. Magneto and his Brotherhood of mutants, replaced by a universe where former villains are now allies. Continuity isn’t just messy when it comes to the X-Men though. Spider-Man suffered a continuity crisis when an editorial decision decided to have the devil, Mephisto erase Peter’s marriage, and make everyone forget that Paeter Parker is Spider-Man. These are the kind of examples where it’s easy to justify a Marvel reboot.

2) They Need More Characters From Diverse Backgrounds

Where Marvel has become seriously outdated is that they lack some diversity. Sure enough, Brian Michael Bendis is doing superb work on making Miles Morales an engaging, fresh character in Ultimate Spider-Man, while Ed Brubaker maintains the Falcon as one of my favourite characters, but Ultimate Marvel aside, they are still lacking. How would a reboot help introduce characters from different minorities? Characters such as The Incredible Hulk, Wolverine and Iron Man remain incredibly popular because they’re over fifty-years-old. Resetting the clock would allow Marvel to give new characters from diverse backgrounds more extensive back stories and make them a core part of the Marvel Universe, rather than side characters. Marvel could incorporate Ultimate Nick Fury into the mainstream universe, or even create some new characters, as seen with Marcus Johnson from the recent Battle Scars series. It’s time now for characters from diverse backgrounds to simply be more than just side characters.

No To A Reboot

1)Continuity Can Be Restored Easier

It was easier to see why DC chose the reboot The Justice League. The team had become outdated, irrelevant and aside from X-Men, had the most confusing continuity in comics. They needed a new slate. Marvel is lucky not to be in that position just yet. While they’ve been going on a little over-board on events lately, it’s becoming clearer that they know what’s working and what’s not. With financial struggles, Marvel was forced to cancel titles such as Alpha Flight, Dark Wolverine, X-23 and Iron Man 2.0. With the excess weight taken off, Marvel should have time to focus on making their existing lines better. An example should be the work of Dan Slott on The Amazing Spider-Man series. When Slott took charge, he had the duty of recovering the series from the One More Day mess left behind by JMS and Joe Quesada. Now, Spidey is one of the most fun comics around. More writers need to focus on wiping away what didn’t work before, and bringing back the characteristics that made the superheroes so engaging in the first place.

2) Their Characters have Come Too Far

Another problem with a company ride reboot would be that it would undermine the journeys that Marvel’s characters have taken over the past years. Writers such as Grant Morrison, Joss Whedon and Jason Aaron have worked hard to strongly develop characters like Cyclops and Wolverine. Would all that be diminished if the X-Men line rebooted?

The same applies to characters like Bucky Barnes and The Scarlett Witch. Both characters have had writers spend years developing them, so it’s difficult to imagine a reboot wiping their continuity clean.  DC showed how ruthless they can be when Wally West was cut from the New 52 relaunch. I would hate to see that happen to any of my favourite Marvel characters.

Conclusion

Will Marvel reboot? In my opinion, Marvel is likely going to judge the future of their comic line by how well their event Avengers vs. X-Men is received. If the event reaches mainstream publicity and sales are good, I can imagine Marvel will hold off a reboot and spin great stories off AVX, similar to what happened with Civil War. If AVX fails to impress, I feel as if maybe Marvel will probably initiate a reboot. After all, if the top two teams Marvel has battling each other can’t succeed, then it’s definitely time to go back to the drawing board. There seems to be a trend with comics lately, as if they’re aspiring to be like the 90’s again, with over the top art, page after page of heroes fighting and little substance. Marvel also really need to turn this around if they want to keep on top of DC in the future.

Is Bucky Back?

(This article contains spoilers)

After all the speculating and complaining, we finally have an answer. In the brand new pages of Fear Itself 7.1, Marvel revealed a brand new ongoing series, written by Ed Brubaker and drawn by Butch Guice: The Winter Soldier.

When we last saw Bucky Barnes he had supposedly met his demise at the hands of the new Red Skull, Sin. It wasn’t a fitting conclusion to say the least, to a character that had become incredibly popular with fans. Readers were sceptical, how could Brubaker let this happen? Bucky Barnes, one of the coolest comic book characters of this generation, a character who had become incredibly popular as Captain America had been given a pointless death, for shock value in the summer’s comic book event Fear Itself. Thankfully, Brubaker had a plan, and I for one can’t wait.

In the new Fear Itself 7.1 issue we learn that Bucky did indeed survive. After suffering an attack from Sin, Bucky’s body was switched with a lifeless L.M.D (Life-Model-Decoy) while he recovered in secret. This led to the world believing Bucky had died, allowing him to now work in secret. To say the least, Steve wasn’t pleased when finding out Nick Fury and Black Widow had manipulated his emotions to get him to wear the shield again. It was a great emotional payoff for readers who were left stumbled as to why Steve had barely reacted to his former partners death during Fear Itself.

As for the new Winter Soldier series starting in January I can’t wait. It will be great to see Bucky back in a more black-ops role, and the series is sure to be dramatic with Barnes feeling responsible for training the sleeper agents during his time as the Winter Soldier.  I’m sure we’ll see some fallout from everyone else being in the dark over Bucky’s survival at some point in the future. Add this secret to Steve Rogers‘s resume, along with his recent role in hiding the Infinity Gems, Rogers is going to have some questions to answer at some point.

I’m thrilled with Brubaker’s decision on this one. He has kept this a well kept secret for months, but now Bucky’s story is set to enter a new stage. With all the criticism aimed at the comic book industry for too many pointless character deaths, it’s very gratifying to know one of my favourite characters has managed to avoid the chop.

Make Mine Marvel!