For over a year now, I have been posting these guides. I see them as helpful ways to get people into comics who may not know where to start in the thick mire of crazy stories. Every time I post one to my Facebook… This happens:


My brother…


Just has to chime in…



Let’s do this…

Continue reading

A Guide to Comics: Marvel Women Part 4

Super gals GO! (wow, lame…)

Marvel Men: 1  2  3  4
Marvel Women: 1  2  3

  • Character Summary: Daisy Johnson, daughter of Calvin Zabo, the villain Mister Hyde; A pretty cool character with very little exposure in the grand scheme of things; Created by Brian Michael Bendis in the “Secret War” storyline; Daisy stands out in that she both a) actually gets respected by Nick Fury and b) is completely unafraid to tell other super people to shove it; Her stance on the other super folks around them is more of one of annoyance, she tends to act as if she just doesn’t have time for their super garbage; “‘Ooh, I’m Wolverine, I’ve got claws and blah blah’ Eff off, shorty” (Not a real quote but kind of her approach to super folk; Quake’s appearances are almost entirely ones of espionage and secrecy, never really appearing in the limelight of the Marvel world; Quake is in the perfect place to pop in and out of the Marvel Universe, as she has no public persona in the Marvel world; Her image remains secret, unlike bigger names, and that is exactly how Daisy likes it; My personal hope is that the inclusion and popularity of Quake in the TV show Agents of SHIELD will correlate to a rise in her appearances and importance in the comic universe.
  • Common Themes: Super heroes are lame; Espionage; Control of powers; Control of emotions.
  • Good For: People who like Agents of SHIELD; People fond of espionage stories
  • Go To Series: S.H.I.E.L.D (vol 3); Secret Warriors; Secret Avengers (Vol 2)
  • Stand Out Stories: Secret War; New Avengers (vol 1) #20

Continue reading

A Guide to Comics: Marvel Men Part 4

Back at it, here goes!

Marvel Men: 1  2  3
Marvel Women: 1  2  3

  • Character Summary: Bruce Banner – Nerdy, Scientist type; Fairly reclusive and lacking in social grace; tends to have an air of nervousness about him, which may be do to the fact that if his emotions get out of control he turns into a GIANT GREEN RAGE MONSTER AND SMASHES STUFF.
  • Common Themes: Beast within; Who is in control; The innocent fugitive and the misunderstood beast; redemption and contrition; War and Anti-War philosophy (subtexts); Counterculture and rebelling against popular discourse (subtexts)
  • Good For: Hulk stories are typically surprisingly deep, and I honestly think people shy away from them due to the assumption that they’re just big beat-em-up tales. I recommend everyone pick up and read at least one Hulk story or series.
  • Go To Series: World War Hulk, Hulk: Destruction, Hulk: The End, The Incredible Hulk (2012), Hulk: Gray
  • Stand Out Stories: Planet Hulk, The Brute That Shouted Love at the Heart of the Atom, The Lone and Level Sands, The Intelligent Hulk Saga (Collected in Trades “Pardoned” and “Regression”)

Continue reading

A Guide to Comics: Marvel Women Part 3

Welcome back, ladies.

Marvel Men: 1  2  3

Marvel Women: 1  2

  • Character Summary: At time of writing, actual identity is unknown (and even after it’s revealed I won’t mention it here because, come on now… spoilers); A mysterious woman who lifted Mjolnir and took over the mantel of Thor, who lost his ability to hold Mjolir due to an equally mysterious series of sneaky whispers (fo’ real); “Lady” Thor is presented as much more than that, or rather more than just a “Lady” version of regular Thor; In fact, it is laid out multiple times in the comic that she is not a woman with the Thor title, but rather is ACTUALLY Thor, with all the powers, respect and responsibility that comes along with being so; The writers have a done a decent enough job not making this Thor seem any less capable than the original, putting her in similar scenarios as the previous Thor would often find himself in; All in all, the series is still very new, but I seriously hope that it’s popularity is sustained even after the identity is revealed.
  • Common Themes: Adapting to new powers; Secret Identities; Trust; Obligations and Responsibilities
  • Good For: Thor Fans; Fantasy Fans; People interested in VERY powerful female superheroes
  • Go To Series: Only the one right now, but THORS comes out in May as part of the Secret Wars Crossover
  • Stand Out Stories: Still making them!

Jean Grey/Phoenix

  • Character Summary: Jean Grey, Omega Level Mutant Telepath/Telekenetic; Admittedly, Jean breaches my rule of avoiding characters who are mainly attached to a team; Jean doesn’t have too many solo arcs, and honestly, that’s why I’m including her; As a character, Jean has a lot of depth and intrigue; She is a vessel and avatar for an interstellar entity known as the Phoenix Force, which is a being of pure energy that feeds on creation and destruction; She has severe relationship issues thanks to her time with X-men and is generally constantly on edge due to the massive amounts of destructive power that flows inside her; HOWEVER, throughout much of the runs of the comics, Jean is mainly used as a plot device; She is strong when she needs to be and weak when the writers need her to be; She also stands as one of the primary examples of a comic book cliche- the inability to actually die; Jean has died and come back a number of times, which is usually attributed to her ties to the Phoenix; Ultimately, Jean Grey stories are worth a read because A) Jean is actually a really cool/powerful character and B) they often represent some of the mistakes that can and have been made in comics [This isn’t to say all Jean comics are bad, just that, much like Ms Marvel, Jean suffered in the beginning from the era of writing]. AS A SIDE NOTE: I prefer Jean Grey from the Ultimate universe; She is more tough, more badass, and a bit nerfed power-wise.
  • Common Themes: Power and Control; Relationships for Heroes; Separation from Society
  • Good For: X-Men fans; Hero team fans; People who like the tension of unstable heroes
  • Go To Series: X-Men (Vol 2); New X-Men (Vol 1); Ultimate X-Men; All New X-Men
  • Stand Out Stories: Endsong; New X-Men #150; Phoenix Saga; Dark Phoenix Saga

Continue reading

A Guide to Comics: Marvel Women Part 2

Choo Choo! Everyone on the Lady Train!

[What the hell is wrong with me…?]

Anywho, here are links to previous versions, if interested:

Marvel Men Part 1, Part 2

Marvel Women Part 1

Black Cat

  • Character Summary: Felicia Hardy; Femme Fatale and Spider-Man lust bait; Very much aware of and in control of her sexuality, Felicia has utilized certain… traits to get the jump on superheroes and supervillains alike; Originally just a well-trained thief, she eventually underwent a treatment to give her probability altering powers (a la bad luck); She also has a specially designed suit that gives her peak strength, speed and agility of a human in excellent physical condition (even though she is obviously portrayed as being in excellent physical condition; Felicia’s main weakness is her reliance on relationships, as she tends to fall head over heels FAST and doesn’t recover well from break ups (she holds grudges… like the “turn to a life of crime just to spite you” type); Unfortunately, ladies, Felicia is not really a feminist ideal, which will become apparent in the “themes” section below; She is typically very overly sexualized and though she often uses her body to get what she wants, she can equally be seen throwing it at Spider-Man because he’s a strong, mysterious male figure; In other words, she’s not a strong female character in the Captain Marvel capacity, but more in a “Sex in the CIty” capacity; To her merit, however, she does succeed in being an excellent foil to Spider-Man’s “Power and Responsibility” motto.
  • Common Themes:  Power without Responsibility; Identity and who defines it; Sexuality; Looking after one’s self first; A gray moral spectrum vs a black and white one
  • Good For: Femme Fatale lovers; fans of “Cheesecake” comic characters; People who appreciate a woman who DOES use her body as an asset; People who think Spider-Man is too uptight; People who hate Mary Jane Watson; Fetishists (leather, claws, furry suit… come on…); Catwoman fans
  • Go To Series: Any Spider-Man, really; Heroes for Hire (vol 1); Claws and Claws II; Hawkeye Vs. Deadpool; I do NOT recommend Marvel Divas if you want to take the character seriously…
  • Stand Out Stories: Amazing Spider-Man (vol 1) 194-195, 204, 226-227; Spectacular Spider-Man (vol 1) 74-76, 89, 100; The Evil that Men Do
  • Character Summary: Aldrif Odinsdottir; Angela was essentially born to Odin, taken by Angels, and later brought back into the main Earth realm against her will; This parallels her real world origins to an extent, wherein she was born to Spawn creator Todd Macfarlane and writer Neil Gaiman, taken by Gaiman in a series of legal battles and sold to Marvel; Angela had originally come into the world as a Spawn antagonist and now found herself as a displaced daughter of Odin; She is still very new to the Marvel Universe, but they have done some cool stuff with her, including letting her beat the tar out of Thor; Angela very much shares the Thunder God’s knack for battle and war-like persona, but takes that to a further extreme by being more stoic and reserved than her brother; She is a badass, warrior princess in every way and it’s exciting, in my opinion, to watch what she does as the Marvel Universe continues to expand
  • Common Themes: Power and Battle; Justified Bloodshed; Displacement and Confusion; Chaos vs Order
  • Good For: Red Sonja fans; Xena fans; Badass, Magical, Super-Strong, Sword-Wielding Female Character fans; Fans of Mythology and/or the Thor comics specifically; People who like Space-Opera type stories; Fantasy fans
  • Go To Series: Angela: Asgard’s Assassin; Guardians of the Galaxy (vol 3)
  • Stand Out Stories: The Trial of Jean Grey; Original Sin: Thor & Loki;

Continue reading

A Guide to Comics: Marvel Men Part 2

Been long enough, better continue the series.

I would like to clarify one thing: what I mean when I say “volume.” In comics, a new “volume” of a title begins whenever that titled is re/launched at a #1 issue. This means different titles have different amounts of volumes based on how many times they were launched as a new series. This does not mean that more volumes makes for a longer series or a better/worse character. For instance, Amazing Spider-Man is just now on volume 2 while a title like Daredevil is currently on volume 4. However, Amazing started in 1963 and Daredevil started in 1964. It just boils down to how many times the characters are restarted due to creative or editorial decisions. This is also confused with the Trade Paperback use for the term “volume,” which refers to a sequential addition in a group of collections. The confusion gets exacerbated when you realize that each volume of a title contains multiple volumes of trade paperbacks. Why they didn’t decide on a different term for the collections, who knows.

Ultimately, all you need to understand is that “volumes” in these posts refer to the specific runs. If you have specific questions about how to hunt down the stories or series, shoot me a message.

Anywho, here we go:

Marvel Men Part 1

Marvel Women Part 1

Captain America
  • Character Summary: Steve Rogers – Boy Scout with a sometimes gruff exterior; Driven and mission oriented; Tactical and Careful; A super soldier in both ability and personality; Old-fashioned, has always maintained a sort of tragic element about him, really getting across the “displaced” feeling, especially in the hands of talented writers.
  • Common Themes: The line between duty and what’s right; Freedom vs. Oppression; ‘MURICA!
  • Good For: People who like Tom Clancy books/movies; People who really liked the Cap movies, honestly; People who are looking for a healthy balance of espionage, city destroying action, and the occasional wholesome moral.
  • Go To Series: Captain America (Volumes 1, 3 and 5, imo); The Ultimates
  • Stand Out Stories: Civil War; The Hero that Was; The Secret Empire; Captain America No More; Operation Rebirth; The Death of Captain America; Man Out of Time
Luke Cage
  • Character Summary: Carl Lucas; Sometimes called Power Man; NYPD cop, wrongly imprisoned, volunteered for an experiment to shorten his sentence; Thanks to some racist redneck jerkwad Georgia prison guard, the experiment went haywire and granted Lucas super strength and impervious skin; He then breaks out, moves back to NY and changes his name to Luke Cage; Founding member of Heroes for Hire, Cage deals with a lot of the street-level crime with the likes of Iron Fist, Spidey-Man, and others; Due to Luke’s history dealing with gang violence, he is typically seen running against crime syndicates and cleaning the streets of larger gangs; Luke was also a member of the New Avengers and the Mighty Avengers for quite some time, and has helped the Avengers on several occasions, including fighting the X-Men during the Avengers vs X-Men crossover and aiding Captain America during the Civil War story-line
  • Common Themes: Racism (duh); Life on the Mean Streets; Tough can be nice; With Great Power come Great Bad-Guy Butt-Kicking; Don’t judge a book by its huge muscles and tiara
  • Good For: Fans of Street-Level heroes; Fans of cop shows/movies; People who like the “tough guy with a heart of gold” trope
  • Go To Series: Power Man (vol 1); Heroes for Hire (vol 1); Mighty Avengers (vol 2)
  • Stand Out Stories: Pulse 11-14; New Avengers (vol 1) Annual #1; New Avengers (vol 1) 1-5; Luke Cage: Noir

A Guide to Comics: Marvel Women Part 1

This one is all about the ladies.

NOTE: Unlike my Marvel Men segment, this will contain a few female heroes who are more often than not a part of a team. There just, unfortunately, are not enough Super Gals to choose from otherwise…

You can check out my Marvel Men guide HERE

Captain Marvel (Prev: Ms. Marvel)

  • Character Summary:  Carol Danvers; Air Force Officer (?) who is caught in the explosion of a Kree weapon and eventually develops a set of awesome powers and a knack for not wearing pants (oh, 1970’s comics…); Was pretty much fetished and abused in the 70’s, unfortunately, and had a horrible downgrade as a character for decades (dealing with alcoholism, depression, etc.); Was brought back into the light in the 00s, and played powerful roles in many of the big story arcs of that era. Recently has very much become what her creators originally said she was supposed to be, which is a strong female role model who isn’t defined by being a woman.
  • Common Themes: Women as powerful and important as men; sexuality vs respect; cool blonde mohawks; space, deep space and deeper space; sudden changes; weakness vs strength; The ridiculousness of female super hero costumes (Writers would often use Ms. Marvel to make jokes regarding the silliness of female costumes).
  • Good For: People looking for a female super hero that isn’t defined by being a woman and doesn’t really use her sexuality to get ahead [NOTE: this applies most prominently to the most recent series]; people who like the space-opera style superheroes found most predominantly in DC; Barbarella fans [70’s series applies here]; People who just generally like watching a woman who can overpower just about anyone and anything (Seriously, Carol is strong like DAAAAAAMN)
  • Go To Series: Ms. Marvel (vol 2); Captain Marvel (Current Ongoing); Mighty Avengers (vol 1)
  • Stand Out Stories: Carol and the X-men (Uncanny X-men VOL 1 150-164ish [gaps]); Live Kree or Die (crossover); Civil War: Ms Marvel; Not NOT NOOOOOOOOT DONOTREAD Avengers (vol 1) #200

Misty Knight

  • Character Summary: Mercedes “Misty” Knight; Sassy, strong, independent and various other words white, male writers often attribute to black female characters, Misty Knight came about as very much a play on Blaxploitation characters from the 70s; She is a cop who lost her arm to a terrorist attack and was instead given a bionic arm by Mr. Tony of Starkland for her bravery; Over the decades, Misty has moved slowly out of the “we need more black characters” sidelines and into more mainstream fair; Though not YET having her own solo series, Misty has been seen alongside many of the A-List marvel stars, but tends to keep to the streets, dealing with more alleyway criminals and less Mutant Alien World Exploders; Misty’s experience as a detective and proficiency with weapons gives a nice play on the character, making her story arcs akin to those of traditionally male protagonists like Batman or Daredevil; Much like Ben Grimm, Misty is one of those people that other Marvel characters just know; She lived with Jean Grey, has/had an on again/ off again relationship with Iron Fist, and has come into contact with other Marvel Superstars; As stated, Misty shines when working out street-level crime, whether that is tracking down murderers or stopping drug cartels; Her work with Heroes for Hire is some of the best from that time, in my opinion, even compared to the days of Luke Cage and Iron Fist
    • NOTE: This is one character I’d like to see have her own ongoing, honestly. Could be a super gritty look at what goes down in New York while all the heroes are off saving the universe and gangs, crooks and upstart supers are running amok on the ground.
  • Common Themes: The dirty side to Urban life (New York); Never giving up, no matter what; Law and Justice; Pride in one’s work; Women who prioritize a lot of things over having a man
  • Good For: …Women who prioritize a lot of things over having a man; People interested in Detective stories; Fans of “Street-Level” supers, like Daredevil or Luke Cage; Pam Grier fans
  • Go To Series: Heroes for Hire (vol 2 & 3); Daughters of the Dragon; Fearless Defenders; Immortal Iron Fist
  • Stand Out Stories: Marvel Team-Up #1; Civil War: Heroes for Hire; Shadowland:Blood on the Streets

Continue reading

A Guide to Comics: Marvel Men Part 1

Being the resident comic book nerd of my friend group, people often come to me with questions when they want to start getting into comics. What titles would they like? Which books should they pick up? Plus, with all the new movies in the works, people want to get involved just as much with the hero on the page as with the hero on the big screen. Thus, I’ve decided to occasionally post a comprehensive collection of Comic Book heroes and what to expect of them.

NOTE: I won’t be doing characters that are mainly just a part of the team. I will be sticking primarily to characters that tend to shine as individuals. I plan on doing a separate list to highlight teams.

Other Guides:

Marvel Women – 1

Spider Man
  • Character Summary: Peter Parker – “Common Man” gifted with extreme power and potential, generally bad at juggling obligations and scheduling; Science focused, studious; Generally nerdy; Very quick wit.
  • Common Themes: With great power come great responsibility; Hot chicks dig nerds (with good bodies and handsome jawlines)
  • Good For: Anyone, really, but particularly those interested in a “relatable” hero, or rather a hero who has very real world problems; People who like flashier fights with a focus on speed instead of raw power; People who like Batman (rogues gallery, “no kill” philosophy, etc.); People who like a sprinkling of romance in their comics
  • Go To Series: Amazing Spider-Man, Ultimate Spider-Man, Superior Spider-Man (for veterans)
  • Stand Out Stories: Kraven’s Last Hunt, Spider-Man No More,The Night Gwen Stacy Died, Spider-Man Blue (For Romance), The Death of Jean DeWolff, Ultimate Spider-Man: Venom
Ghost Rider
  • Character Summary: Johnny Blaze (Later Danny Ketch, whose back story is a might bit flat, but has quite a few good stories during his run with the mantel in the 90s) – Stunt motorcyclist and demonology hobbyist; Was infused with the demon Zarathos, a Spirit of Vengeance, by the demon Mephisto, who was jealous of everyone giving Zarathos so much attention… Holy shit, that’s balla. Ghost Rider has slowly increased in power as time has gone along and picked up new skills and weapons. In his most recent Johnny Blaze incarnation, he was often referenced as one of the most (if not the most) powerful hero in the Marvel universe. Also, he shoots Hellfire at people, which is fire that burns the individual’ FRIGGIN SOUL. Nice.
  • Common Themes: Heavy Good vs. Evil, but also an emphasis on necessary evils; Punishment and retribution; Heaven vs Hell; Losing Control; “Good” not being the same as “innocent”
  • Good For: Motorcycle lovers, People who like Constantine or Hellboy, People looking for a less diplomatic hero, People looking for more of a “wrong side of the tracks” hero instead of some white boy from Queens.
  • Go To Series: Spirits of Vengeance, All New Ghost Rider, Ghost Rider (1990s)
  • Stand Out Stories: Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Ghost Rider Annual 2, Crossroads, The Curse of Johnathan Blaze, Trials and Tribulations

 … Continue reading