Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Superhero: More Than Just A Word

       The definition of superhero is defined as an extraordinary being with powers or abilities far beyond those of mortal humans, but superheroes represent more then just an apt description reminding us of how insignificant we are. Superheroes inspire us, motivate us and ultimately give us access into another universe full of characters supernatural and/or out of this world (literally). It starts at an early age, or birth if you have parents that dressed you up in a Superman costume at the hospital (do they even make costumes that small) and the appeal lasts a lifetime. What begins mostly as a harmless hobby or overwhelming obsession grows into a "career" of collectables, collections and objects deemed worthless to others, but priceless to its owner. These are comic book fans. Whether one was in the store when the first issue of Action Comics was released, or whether a young child just picked up the latest issue yesterday, comic fans are comic fans and they will never change. 

      It all started with the creation of a character born in the deep reaches of space, the last son of Krypton we've come to know as Superman. The tone darkens a year later when Batman is created. The first two superheroes opened a gateway into another reality, which would soon be inhabited by hundreds of thousands of heroes, villains, supporting cast, cities, galaxies, and tales so suspenseful they make us want more. At the root of it all one would look at a comic book fan and just assume that it's an interest, something to pass the time when we've finished our homework and have no date to the movies, but every fan knows that somewhere down the line we come to think of comics as more then just a piece of fiction, media created just for a few moments of enjoyment, but something real, another world we wish was our own with powers and lives we wish we had, characters we relate to and characters that we come to refer to as people, that we care for and cheer for. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Smallville: Top 5 Of Season Three

      After the lighter tones of the first two Smallville seasons, season three took a dark turn for most of our main characters. It seemed as though every other episode would have someone facing his or her inner demons or struggling through a surprisingly depressing story. That being said, it still produced great episodes, some of which are considered the best of the series, like these five:

5. Perry
      This episode featured the first appearance of (you guessed it) Perry White. This version of the character, however, is not like any other Perry Whites we’ve encountered in past media. Being recently fired from the Daily Planet and working for a low rated television studio that hunts the bizarre and unexplained, Mr. White becomes an alcoholic and almost hits Clark with his car. Half awake, White witnesses Clark’s display of powers and spends the rest of the episode trying to prove it. Clark however experiences power glitches due to a solar flare on the sun, which lead to some pretty good misuses of his abilities. White is an episode that introduces a new take on a classic character (something Smallville does a lot in the later seasons), includes action and comedy making it a good Smallville episode.
Favorite Moment: Clark struggles to lift a tractor thanks to the flare, then his powers go into overdrive as he accidentally launches the tractor a few miles away, landing right in front of the nosy Mr. White.

4. Exile
       Clark’s rebellious attitude is displayed at its finest in Exile. Having been exposed to red kryptonite for the past 3 months, Clark grows more and more careless. His judgment and well-being for others is compromised making him do unusual things such as rob a bank and even evade the police. This episode is a great representation of the danger Clark poses to the world should he ever lose sight of what’s right and wrong, not to mention this is a rare glimpse at an “evil” Clark; something we only see a handful of times during the show, but it is used perfectly here. We are also given a teaser into Lex’s delusions as he slowly loses his grip on reality.
Favorite Moment: A gang of clown mask-wearing criminals intends to rob a bank (where have I seen this before?) but a red kryptonite wearing Clark plans to take the money for himself and will take down anyone in his way.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Have You Read: Batman Hush

       Hush was a tremendously created, ultimately mesmerizing and original story written by Jeph Loeb and illustrated by comic book legend Jim Lee. This story features the majority of Batman’s most popular enemies along with a substantially large cast of supporting allies, ready to help the Caped Crusader unravel the mystery of Hush, and also survive the experience.

     Hush is essentially a series of events pitting Batman against several of his most deadly foes. Each villain has their own individual “evil plan”, which acts as a subplot for the entire series. Hush consists of two volumes, totaling 12 issues. Volume one features guest appearances by Oracle, Huntress and Catwoman along with villains such as Killer Croc and Poison Ivy. The events in the first volume are not as connected as they are in volume two, but there are certain arcs that intertwine, concluding with a showdown between Batman and the Man of Steel (not unlike the classic battle between the two in The Dark Knight Returns).

      Volume two still features slightly separate story arcs based on a particular villain, but mainly focuses on a character named Thomas Elliot, an old childhood friend of Bruce Wayne’s. This is where we get a full look at the new villain called Hush, and with him comes many surprises. Nightwing, Harley Quinn and the Joker are all necessary pieces to the puzzle that is this story and work well to advance the book’s subplots. Much more waits inside the pages of Batman: Hush volumes one and two, but I don’t want to spoil it all now do I?

       Batman: Hush is one of the greatest comic stories ever; compiling everything you could ever want from a story featuring this character. Action, great artwork, great storytelling, mysteries and Batman, what more could you want? If you haven’t read these two volumes I suggest you visit your nearest comic book store and check’em out.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Spider-Man's 50th: Thanks To Stan Lee

        Stan Lee- arguably the most recognizable person in all of comics, for without him we wouldn’t have many classic creations such as the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Hulk, Daredevil, Silver Surfer, Spiderman and literally hundreds and hundreds more. Stan Lee (along with the creative team of artists working with him over the years) has created an entire universe of heroes and villains, powers and events and storylines from scratch. Out of all of his many creations, many would consider Spiderman to be his most famous, most popular, most successful and generally his best.

    Stan Lee has stated that during his creation of Spiderman, many thoughts and variables crossed his mind. In wanting to use a new power, normally not seen in previous characters, he gave this character the ability to stick to walls, like an insect. From then on, such names like “Insect-man”, “Mosquito-man” and “Fly-man” initially entered his mind, until he finally cam across Spiderman; a name that had a scary, but heroic ring to it. Stan stated that he owes a lot of credit to a pulp magazine he read when he was younger titled: The Spider, Master of Men. Stan’s publisher at the time insisted that he change the character’s name, and basically the character himself. His reasons for this were: “people hate spiders. You cant name the lead hero after spiders because it wont sell”, along with “the hero cant be a teenager. Teenagers can only be sidekicks.” Lets just say that Stan and the millions of fans are glad he never listened to his publisher’s harsh criticism.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Happy 50th: Spider-Man's Best Movie

      Comic books and television can only do so much to market a superhero. As we have all learned quite recently that to promote anything effectively, make a big budget movie of it. Despite it’s conclusion, Sam Raimi’s Spiderman trilogy will go down as the second greatest superhero trilogy of all time (next to TDK of course), and with the Amazing Spiderman being almost as satisfying I cant wait to see the rest of the new installments. Keeping with the trend of this month, being Spiderman’s 50th birthday I’ve chosen what I believe to be, based on facts, common knowledge and overall personal opinion, the best Spiderman movie thus far: Spiderman 2.

      While Spidey 2 is my number one pick, we can’t knock how great the other three have been. Spiderman (along with the first X-Men movie) was really the first great superhero movie and without it we may not have all the Marvel movies we have today. Before the first film, fans could only read motionless panels and watch cartoons to see Spidey’s swinging action, but the first film introduced us to something we all dreamed about since August of 1962, Spiderman on the big screen. Along with great special effects (for it’s time) and an effective cast, the movie set box office records and became an instant classic. I’ll jump ahead to Spiderman 3; while it did not contain the gripping, almost flawless story that it’s predecessors had, the third and final installment of the Raimi films shattered the previous films’ records. Making up for a severely flawed story, a lot of redundant scenes and some poor portrayals of characters, the action and effects were nothing short of spectacular. No one can deny that everyone in the theatre received an excessive amount of chills when Peter woke up, upside down, in the black suit. In short, this movie was not a good movie with great scenes, but a mediocre movie with good scenes. About a month before it’s release I questioned whether The Amazing Spiderman was coming out too soon, too soon for a reboot and after viewing it several times my answer is hell no. Amazing had a stellar cast, more interesting then the original, a cool new Spidey in a “different” suit, and a new villain, never before portrayed in previous films. The story was intoxicating and the special effects were just awesome. I would have believed this was the best Spiderman movie yet, until I glanced at my DVD shelf, shattering my previous belief and making me realize I was very, very wrong.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Happy 50th: Spider-Man's Best Artists

      I'd been trying to collect the correct words to describe why each of the greatest Spiderman artists are, well, great, then it hit me. These are artists, some of the best in both Spiderman and Marvel comics' history so i figured i should let their art work do the talking for them. Please enjoy samples of comic art from legends such as John Romita, Steve Ditko and more.
Steve Ditko started us off as the first Spidey artist,
And he set the bar pretty high too.
John Romita was next in line. If Ditko "created" the look of
Spidey's world, then Romita perfected it, creating
designs that are still referenced today.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

X-Men: Days Of Future Past... No, Really

      Whether you read the initial comic books or watched any of the animated series, you have always wanted to see “X-Men: Days of Future Past” on the big screen. Not too long ago Bryan Singer (X-Men, X2 Director… First Class Producer) announced that the sequel to X-Men: First Class will be loosely based on the classic story from the comics, Days of Future Past. Every mutant fanboy has waited to see this classic story come alive in a big budget film since it’s original release in 1981. But I fear we shouldn’t get excited just yet. While there are plenty of reasons to suggest that this comic-to-movie idea will be great, we must consider what is needed in order for this film to be a success.

       First Class brought the mutant franchise back to life after the disappointing “Last Stand” and mediocre “Wolverine” films. It established brand new characters and revamped classic ones like Xavier and Magneto. One thing that Days of Future Past needs to do completely different from its predecessor is stay away from creating a “prequel.” The filmmakers of First Class must think we fans are completely clueless; to attempt to convince us that First Class was a prequel when countless errors were made in regard to that assumption: Alex Summers being born before Scott, Beast being “hairy” then not, and much more.

    Some quick, key elements that should be incorporated in the film include:
-       Sentinels, Sentinels, an army of Sentinels. They are a nearly endless, unstoppable force, worthy of battling the X-Men of the present and the future.
-       We all liked the cast of First Class, so we want to see as many of them return as possible. Also, since the story takes place in the future this is a great time to introduce new characters to the films; classic mutants like Bishop.
-       Trying to replace Hugh Jackman as Wolverine is like replacing Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, it can’t be done, so bring him back to the new film as an “older” Wolverine, trying to save the future alongside Bishop.

         The great thing about comic book movies (and what makes the majority of them a treat to watch) is the fact that the creators have years and years of classic characters and stories to examine and recreate. In my opinion, when a superhero film tries to create too much out of nothing it usually doesn’t end too well. First Class was a success due to the many references to the classic comics. This is very important in this case, especially when a very delicate and unique story like Days of Future Past is being used. My impeccable advice to the filmmakers is: try to make it as similar to the comics as you can. I’ll be happy, X-Men fans will be happy and you will be happy knowing you just created yet another successful X-Men film.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Happy 50th: Spider-Man's Best Stories

      I don’t think it is humanly possible to have a great superhero with no great stories, and Spiderman proves this. Not only does he have great stories, but he has countless amounts of them even from the very beginning. There are hundreds of legendary Spidey stories but, just as I did in my previous articles, have only chosen a select few; stories that were critically acclaimed at their time and stories that are just particular favorites of mine. So here they are, 5 renowned stories spanning the Webhead’s 50 years of publication.

      If everyone is a “Spiderman”, then no one is, including the original. The Jackal, catalyst of the unforgettable clone saga arc, returns to cause even more mischief and mayhem for out friendly neighborhood hero. This time around, the Jackal has somehow created thousands of radioactive spiders, very similar to the one that gave Peter his spider-powers some 50 years earlier. The spiders spread across Manhattan like a deadly virus, infecting every civilian in their path turning everyday men and women into spidermen and spiderwomen creating the phrase: “if everyone is a Spiderman, then no one is.” This distinctively unique story spanned across the entire Marvel Universe affecting almost every hero in New York. An idea that everyone had superpowers was something that had rarely been explored in comics and worked particularly well in Spiderman’s world. Spider-Island may be one of the most recent of the story arcs, but for me, it became an instant classic, an arc that, 20 years down the road, I’m going to remember as a truly great Spiderman story.

The Clone Saga Epic/ The Ben Reilly Epic
     What began as “The Original Clone Saga” with the recreations of the late Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker clone turned into arguably the most confusing, controversial Spiderman stories of all time, but it was just so damn cool. What may have been frustrating for others were wonders for me. Was Peter Parker a clone? For the past 5 years, after seeing him drop his purposively dead “clone’s” body into that smoke stack, had we been viewing the life of a mere clone? Marvel really confused Spidey fans for one of the first times in the characters history. People really didn’t know the truth between Ben Reilly and Peter Parker and neither did they and frantically people didn’t think the writers were too sure of it either. This series did include a diverse group of talented writers and artists, introduced us to a now legendary character in the Scarlet Spider and made sure this was a Spiderman story that no one in their right mind would ever forget… And it probably doesn’t help that I seem to bring it up in every other Spiderman article.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Spider-Man: What We Want From "Amazing 2"

      It appears that The Amazing Spiderman didn’t do as well as some of us hoped it would at the box office. Some people may have just assumed it was going to be bad just because it was a reboot, which led to a negative attitude when they saw the film, resulting in a poor review given by that person, etc. I for one thought the film was really well done, and after looking past all the controversy, the doubts, the dislikes, and the haters it really is a good film. Dark and edgy with some light-hearted, funny moments, but I’m more concerned with where this franchise will go. Considering the majority of the public found more bad things with the movie then good, its up to the writers of the sequel to really step it up and prove the public wrong. I will explore some of the key elements of Spiderman’s rich history that should be introduced in the sequel as well as what I would personally like to see: (some minor spoilers follow)

-       Once we found out that Gwen Stacy would be the love interest of the film instead of Mary Jane we all just assumed we would see her meet her demise atop a familiar bridge at the hands of a familiar foe on a flying glider, but once the movie ended we realized we were mistaken, but that doesn’t mean it wont happen eventually. The film has already established that Norman Osborn will potentially play a substantial role either in the second or third film, which is why I believe that introducing Mary Jane in number 2, will pave way for Gwen’s end, either at the end of 2, or some time in 3. As much as we Spidey fans love us some “love triangles”, we do remember that Spiderman 3 didn’t do a great job with it, which is why if one is attempted in this franchise, maybe they take a different approach at it.
-       I couldn’t help but notice that there was no mention of the Daily Bugle. Hell, Jolly Jonah Jameson is almost as recognizable a character as Peter himself. I definitely missed seeing his rude comments and hilarious work environment in the original trilogy so I’m hoping they can somehow work the Daily Bugle into the story of the sequel.

-       One thing that did annoy me a bit about the film was the lack of “untold story” I saw, and how much “told story” I did see. They gave us a sneak peek at the life and disappearance of his parents, but I feel that they may no have given us enough. One thing I will say about this topic is that we need to see a heck of a lot more of the mysteries of his parents come May 2014.

-       Fan reactions weren’t too positive when the look of the costume was released. Now I’m very nostalgic and I’m crazy about the original threads, but even I was able to see some attractiveness to the new suit. Perhaps a little too “retro” for most fan’s taste, which is why I’ve come up with a brilliant solution. Come 2014, Peter will have been Spiderman for quite a while, and maybe in that time he has altered his original designs, perfected them (when I say “perfected” I mean that he could adjust it to look more like the original from back in the day… oohhh).

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Happy 50th: Spider-Man's Best Characters

     Peter Parker wouldn’t be the same person he is today if it weren’t for his friends and family and the impact they’ve made on his life. Supporting characters are key when it comes to superheroes and Spiderman has one of the best casts of characters.

“Circle Of Friends”
      In the early issues Peter didn’t have what we would consider “friends”, just witty banters between Flash Thompson. Flash was the bully, the arch-nemesis of Peter Parker but ironically Spiderman’s biggest fan. Liz Allen was the coolest girl in school; completely unattainable by nerds like Peter, yet she was the first girl to fall for him, unfortunately at that point Peter only had eyes for Ms. Brant. Harry Osborn was introduced after Peter graduated high school, but quickly became Flash’s friend before Peter’s. Peter and Harry eventually became roommates, for a little while anyway, with all the expenses paid by Norman Osborn. Gwen Stacy was also introduced in his college days and soon had to compete for Peter’s affections with Mary Jane Watson. Peter and Gwen dated for a while, and just when everyone thought she would become the future Mrs. Parker, she was killed. Long after that, MJ became his new girlfriend, becoming the first member of Peter’s “circle of friends” to discover his secret identity. MJ and Harry, and even Flash are still present in the comics today and Peter has a new girl in his life, Carlie, who recently obtained some new spider-powers thanks to the Spider-Island story arc.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Happy 50th: Spider-Man's Best Villains

       The geniuses of the comic book world (writers, artists, producers and more) have stated that there are two heroes who have the largest and greatest rogue’s galleries: Batman and Spiderman. In his 50 years in the superhero biz, Spiderman has come across a large array of strange, creepy, unique and ultimately timeless villains; villains who have become just about as well-known or recognizable as Spiderman himself. I’ve chosen a select number of rogues based on their popularity, individuality, how much I personally like them and how large their impact were on our hero’s life.

Otto Octavious a.k.a Dr. Octopus
      Doc Ock first appeared in issue #3. He quickly became a fan favorite and soon appeared again, becoming the first villain to make a second appearance. His character is one of the more unusual of the rogues. A bright, scientific mind in control of four, unbreakable mechanical arms, capable of matching all of Spiderman’s acrobatic abilities. Counting all these factors and a lot more I didn’t mention, Doc Ock is definitely one of the best villains, not only in Spiderman’s comics, but in all comics.

Eddie Brock & Cletus Cassidy a.k.a Venom & Carnage
      Venom is the black suit bonded to Eddie Brock making him, what the majority of fans call, their favorite villain. Mainly because of his similarities to Spidey (same powers, similar design etc). Venom is one of the deadliest of foes and always seems to make an appearance in important story arcs. The black symbiote eventually had a red and black offspring that bonded to serial killer Cletus Cassidy, creating Carnage. An even more deadly and ruthless opponent then its “father”, it takes the combined force of Spiderman and Venom to defeat him. The Carnage symbiote even appeared in the “Ben Reilly Saga” after bonding with Reilly to create Spider-Carnage. Venom and Carnage certainly are “the world’s favorite symbiotes.”

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Happy 50th: Spider-Man's Best Costumes

      The month of August marks the 50th birthday of the Amazing Spiderman, as you know, one of the coolest superheroes ever created. Here at Doomsday & Beyond, I’ve decided to dedicate August to the Webbed Wonder by stylizing a new website header, changing the background, and most importantly, writing articles focusing on Spidey’s best stories, villains and much more over his 50 years of publication. To start this month off I’ve chosen to examine 5 of Spiderman’s coolest costumes (coolest, my personal favorites or costumes that played intrical parts in Peter Parker’s life). Okay, without further adieu, Spiderman’s best costumes…

“The Old Red And Blues” (The Original Suit)
      No one can argue that Peter Parker had a good taste of fashion. When most try to think of his finest costumes, many overlook the very first one. Classic red and blues, and a web pattern making him the best character to draw. This costume has seen minimal changes throughout the years such as webbing under his arms, a slight change to his spider-logo or his eyes being shaped differently. Most of these changes occurred purely because of different artists drawing the character. But just the fact that Spidey’s original costume has more or less stood the test of time is proof of how ‘amazing’ it is, and apparently still is.

“Back In Black” (The Symbiote Suit)
       Its origin has changed over various forms of media, but the suit itself has remained the same. Originally bonding to Spidey on an alien planet during The Secret Wars Spidey brought this suit back home with him. After using the black suit as his primary costume for a very, very long time, he soon discovered it was a symbiote, alive and slowly taking over his mind. With the help of sonic vibrations Spiderman was able to rid himself of the suit. Soon after though, as we all know, Venom was created. Fans who enjoyed the black suit feared they’d never see it again after it bonded to Eddie Brock, but there were two more replicas made of the suit, not symbiotes, but almost identical in design. The first was designed by Black Cat when she and Spidey were working together and the second by Peter Parker in the storyline ‘Back In Black’. It was just such a good costume. Very simple in design, with a large new spider-logo stretched all around his chest and back at the fact it attempted to take over its host’s mind just makes it that much better.