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 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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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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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 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

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