A Guide to Comics: Marvel Women Part 4

Super gals GO! (wow, lame…)

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


Quake
  • 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

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A Guide to Comics: Marvel Men Part 4

Back at it, here goes!

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


Hulk
  • 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”)

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My Top Spider-Man Video Games: Part 2

Alright, back to it. My final favs.


Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage

This game from 1994 was one of my absolute favorites on the SNES, partly because it featured some of my all-time favorite Marvel characters, and partly because the actual gameplay is just plain enjoyable and filled with bone-crunching punch/kick action with over-the-top SFX. Plus, the cartridge was red and all my friends were jealous of my red cartridge.

In fact, this game holds the title for multiple firsts. To begin with, it is the first time in video games that players were given the opportunity to play as the Lickitung’s mentor, Venom. This is significant since, if most young boys in the 90s were like me, playing as Venom made one feel like some sort of psychotic badass with a lust for flesh. His play style is just so downright angry, grabbing people with his tentacly arm and throwing people around like Martin Lawrence when the caterer doesn’t provide the exact cracker to Duck Tartar ratio. And the whole while he just stands their licking his chops, all hungry and horny for more beat ’em up juice.

This game is also the first time a video game was based directly on a popular storyline in the comics. In fact, the games cut-scenes actually feature (slightly) animated versions of some of the artwork from the books. This finally bridged the gap, meaning from hence forth the video game world could have its digital foot stamped firmly in the door of comic books, as if to say “I’M NOT GOING ANYWHERE! YOU KNOW YOU LOVE ME, GODDAMMIT! WE WERE MADE FOR EACH OTHER, BABYCAKES! Now, kiss me.” There is a soft embrace between the two lovers. The camera slowly zooms out before fading to black, thus establishing a future where video games about super heroes will forever be 100% true to character and will always be super awesome.

Or Not. COUGHsuperman64COUGH

Finally, this game is also the first Spider-Man game to receive a Teen rating (on Genesis), which is pretty legit. Take all these firsts, mix in an awesome Streets of Rage style of gameplay, some wicked sound effects and a rocking soundtrack written by the band Green Jelly, and you’ve got yourself a Spidey game for the ages.

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My Top Spider-Man Video Games: Part 1

Spider-Man is in many ways one of the most recognizable superheroes ever produced. This is interesting when you consider that most of us find little enjoyment in watching/reading about a pasty nerd from Queens as he deals with life, girls and bullies. Even more repulsive is the thought of this whiny dork confronting life’s woes through a thin veil of bright red spandex. However, mix in some tasty spidery powers and a healthy dose of wise-cracking/face-punting and we will gladly overlook all levels of bitchery and bulging nerd crotch.

We love Spider-Man. If you claim to not love Spider-Man, you are probably doing so just for attention. If you are friends with someone who claims to not love Spider-Man, take it as a cry for help and set up a time to hold an intervention to discover the root of their issues and what is causing them to act-out lately. Because ultimately any argument about this character comes down to one main conclusion: EVERYONE LOVES SPIDER-MAN. There are simply varying degrees of love, but there is no hate or “do not love.” This is mainly because, like Batman (who is also immune to your hatorade), Spider-Man is one of the easiest superheroes in town for us to relate to. When we watch or read about Pete flying around, kicking reptiles in the teeth or porking red-heads, we see ourselves. Spider-Man represents basic social and coming-of-age issues that we have all experienced. Even all his baddies (which are all so freaking insane) can all be seen as metaphors for common life concerns, such as duality or paranoia. It’s what would happen if Neil Gaiman just got crazy high one day and started rewriting excerpts of a middle-schooler’s MySpace page. We love Spider-Man because he is still primarily founded in the real world. The real world plays a indispensable role in almost all of his plots and is even, one could say, his arch-nemesis. He isn’t like Superman or Captain America, who have mixed the real world with their criminal-dick-punching lifestyle. He works to find balance and stresses over scheduling issues. He misses classes and fails tests. He has to set up dates around his busy work schedule, all while finding the time to judo flip some fat dimwit who’s running around in rhino pajamas.

This love of Spidey has led to endless stories and reincarnations in comics, toys, movies, cartoons and, of course, video games. Over the years, Spidey’s appearance in video games has achieved a bit of infamy, due to the sheer amount of all the games. Many of these games can come out feeling cheesy or rushed. Many take on a zany feel, looking like someone took a completely unrelated game and slapped Spider-Man on it straight Doki Doki Panic style in order to cash in on the Spider-Market. However, the Web Head has been the focal point of many a good game, and I intend on bringing what I feel are the best to light.

Now, I honestly cannot find a way to rank these, as they are all so different. Thus, I am going to list them in chronological order instead. Just keep that in mind.

Spider-Man: The Video Game

Starting this bitch out old-school. For the kiddies in the room, video games once came in giant boxes found in places known as “arcades.” This wonderful arena for the virginal were where we would have to go in order to get some of the more intense gameplay and better graphics in video games at the time. When I myself was a wee lad, I enjoyed the crap out of this particular game when I would visit my local arcade. Granted, the machine I played it on was already probably about 2 years old, being that I didn’t evolve into my gaming motor skills until around 1993. This console premiered in 1991 and was produced by an obscure company named SEGA. It was also fantastically well received and is often mentioned as one of the better arcade adventure games of all time.

The game was a side-scrolling beat-em-up with all the finesse of a Jean Claude Van Damme movie. The point was simple: walk to the right, occasionally jumping on or over stuff in order to reach the end of the level and uppercut the boss square in his nefarious nuts. As you progressed, you would be barraged by a plethora of multi-colored thugs, each color signifying that the baddy will have a different ability/pain tolerance. Occasionally, the screen pulls out and you are left jumping on tiny platforms and avoiding falling debris before you land safely on a larger platform surrounded by colorful whooping ninjas.

Similar to Streets of Rage or, my personal favorite, The Simpsons Arcade game, you have the choice of selecting one of four separate characters. One of my favorite aspects of this game is the character choice. Obviously, you can choose Spider-Man, as well as his feline-themed lust-mongering friend, Black Cat. I always thought the other two choices were interesting. Instead of throwing down the boring card and utilizing one or two X-Men or even Captain America, this game adds Hawkeye and Submariner into the roster. True, Submariner was much more popular back in the 90’s than he is today and both characters had a tendency to work with Spidey now and then, as did quite a few characters in the Marvel Universe. I just think it’s interesting that they selected either of these characters to introduce here during a time when Spider-Man and the X-Men were the big ticket items. Seems like putting them together could make for a game that is both absurd and obviously trying to suckle at the “Kids will buy what looks cool” teat…*

*Foreshadowing

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A Guide to Comics: Marvel Women Part 3

Welcome back, ladies.

Marvel Men: 1  2  3

Marvel Women: 1  2


Thor
  • 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

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Been Ramblin’

Image result for moving right along gif

Good Morning, all!

Sorry I’ve been away. Went on my honeymoon recently and between travelling and sight-seeing, hadn’t had much time to produce any posts. But I’m here now, so everything is right with the world.

The wifey and I decided that for our honeymoon we wanted to take a road trip, experience some places we hadn’t been before. So we traveled up the coast to Philadelphia and Boston, then hit the Outer Banks on our way back down. It was an awesome experience, though definitely a cold one for our sun-soaked Florida bones.

We mostly just hung out in the cities. Did a handful of touristy things: Got a cheesesteak in Philly, went to Walden Pond, walked around Harvard and gawked at students, etc. But mostly, we just hung out: checking out bars and shops, finding hole in the wall restaurants, and just generally enjoying ourselves. One thing we decided a long time ago (and this may be why we get along so well) is that we love travel, but we don’t feel like travelling benefits from being held to a rigid itinerary.

Sure, any time you visit a place, you should have a definite list of things you want to do, but by no means should you plot out every hour of every day. The experience benefits from being allowed to be more free-form, more organic. And really, that’s what travel is all about: An exciting, unpredictable experience. Not that an overplanned trip wouldn’t be fun at points, but it just feels so formulaic, so rigid. When you travel, you should be open to surprises, to new and exciting adventures. Be impulsive once in a while. Get lost somewhere. Not knowing what might be around the next corner just makes the experience that much richer.

For me, experiences are everything. Again, that’s why Tee and I decided on a roadtrip. The journey and voyage are more important to us than just a few nights at a luxury hotel on a beach or at a theme park. Seeing new things, meeting new people, and experiencing something different is much more important. All in all, we just love to travel, so much so that for the past few years, we have opted out of getting each other physical Christmas presents so that we can instead use the money on a holiday time adventure. Wanderlust is our friend.

To end this post on my typical weird note, I did notice something interesting on our travels. Each state has a certain theme in the billboards that you find along the road. Obviously, not all billboards are about one singular topic, but some states have billboards that appear much more frequently than ads for food places and truck stops. Here’s a quick list of some of the weird ones:

Florida – Anti-Abortion
Maryland – Human Trafficking
New Jersey – Anti-Vaccine
Massachusetts – People just generally being shot
South Carolina – Canned Goods

Seriously, there was a sign about canned something every single mile in South Carolina. It’s like nobody in SC eats anything unless it comes from a can. It was crazy.

~C

My Favorite Games Right Now

game animated GIF

Not a creative title, I know. Look, sometimes you have to sacrifice wit for SEO.

Well, fine, I didn’t know you felt that way. Then go! No one’s stopping you!

Sorry you had to see that, guys. They’ll be back. They always come back.

Anywho, imaginary conversations with invisible people aside, I wanted to today share  some of my favorite tabletop board/card games that I have played so far. I’ve been addicted to games lately and working in a gaming/comic shop hasn’t helped. I have collected a bunch of games over the past… year… wow, it’s really only been about a year or so that I’ve been buying up games… I have a problem…

I don’t necessarily own all these games and some I’ve only played once but had a great time doing so. I’ll list pros and cons of each and give a brief review of my experience.

Here goes. My Top 6 Games I’ve Played (in no particular order):


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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
Angela
  • 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;

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