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Wonder Woman Trailer: Top Ten Fake Spoilers

Top Ten Fake Spoilers from the latest (and last) Wonder Woman Trailer:


10 - Warner Bros. went out of its way to hire a female director to make sure Wonder Woman got that touch of Baywatch young girls can look up to.
10 – Warner Bros. went out of its way to hire a female director to make sure Wonder Woman got that touch of Baywatch young girls can look up to.

x - Little Wonder Woman: "Where do babies on "Hot Chick Island" come from, Mommy?" Wonder Woman's Mother: "Uh..."
9 – Question: “Where do babies on Hot Chick Island come from, Mommy?”
Answer: “Uh…”

Wonder Woman: The feminist icon who doesn't leave the house without her favorite accessories.
8 – Wonder Woman: The feminist icon who always accessorizes before leaving the house to fight crime.

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Why I Hate the “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and Why You Should Too!

I hate the film Guardians of the Galaxy. I hate it. I understand that my position is not a popular one; but then again, I never really was that popular. Need proof? Look me up in the high school yearbook.

I hate the film and everything about it, from its Kevin Bacon inspired jokes to its talking Raccoon. I have spent the better part of the last two years trying to convince the rest of you, that I am right. With the sequel arriving in theaters, I will give this one another go.

I hate Guardians for one simple reason: lazy storytelling. Essentially, Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) is a carbon-copy of the Avengers (2012) formula, just with a relatively obscure series from deep within the Marvel vaults. And yes, before you start questioning me and my fan-boy creds, I am in fact one of some twenty-five people who has ACTUALLY read the Guardian’s books.

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Avenging The Fantastic, Part 13: The Black Widow Goes Solo (Briefly)!

Continuing the read-through of as many Avengers and Fantastic Four–related Marvel comics as possible!

Books Read

Fantastic Four #94-104; Avengers #73-83; Captain America #121-133, Captain America and the Falcon #134; Iron Man #21-32; Incredible Hulk #125-134; Thor #172-181; Amazing Adventures (starring Black Widow) #1-4; years: 1970-71

The Revolving Door of Avengers Mansion

Yellowjacket and Wasp are out so Hank Pym can do science for the government, but Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch are back, thus filling the Avengers’ quota of unhealthy relationships. And then the Vision abruptly leaves shortly later…and returns almost immediately.

Iron_Man_Vol_1_21The Best of This Bunch – Iron Man #21-22

Archie Goodwin’s solid run on Iron Man continues with a tale of Tony Stark trying to quit his superhero life…and realizing he can’t. The story features tropes that have become too commonplace these days—a replacement for the hero, a replacement for an old villain, and the death of a romantic interest. But these tropes were fresher in 1970 and, in this particular instance, well-handled.

Iron-willed boxer and all-around decent guy Eddie March makes for a likeable potential Iron Man, though he has a medical condition of his own that cuts his super-heroic career short. Surprisingly, he survives the tale, but Janice Cord’s death comes out of nowhere.

Janice had been portrayed as a potential girlfriend for Tony Stark for the past twenty issues or so. Now, after an experimental medical procedure leaves Tony Stark’s heart healthy enough for daily life but not necessarily superhero life, he decides to pursue a normal relationship and pass the Iron Man armor onto a worthy successor.

However, Janice hasn’t sprung to life as a particularly memorable or compelling character…so she must die, naturally. In the story’s defense, back in these days, any character who lasted beyond his or her first or second appearance wasn’t likely to die ever. So at the time, this was a somewhat bold story decision on Goodwin’s part, even though to modern sensibilities, the automatic reaction tends to be, “Ugh, another woman killed to provide motivation for the male hero?”

Goodwin’s run ends several issues later, and the drop in quality is steep. (more…)

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Captain America: Civil War Review

So I finally got around to seeing one of the most anticipated movies of the summer, Captain America: Civil War. In general, I’m not that into superhero movies, primarily because I find they’re often over-simplistic for my taste: These are the good guys. Those are the bad guys. Now watch them blow stuff up.

Luckily, Captain America: Civil War does not fall into that trap. There’s two opposing sides, but rather than a battle of good vs. evil, it’s a battle between two different interpretations of good. The conflict is introduced when the UN finally expresses discontent with the Avenger-caused destruction of previous Marvel movies, which is best summed up this way:

Oddly enough, I’ve seen the same meme used to describe U.S. foreign policy.


So the Avengers have a choice. Do they want to give the governments of the world increased control over their operations (#TeamIronMan) or continue to be as independent as they’ve always been, even if that makes them outlaws (#TeamCap)?
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Avenging The Fantastic, Part 12: Meet the Falcon…And His Falcon!

Continuing the read-through of as many Avengers and Fantastic Four–related Marvel comics as possible!

Books Read

Avengers #64-72; Fantastic Four #82-93; Thor #160-171; Incredible Hulk #116-124; Captain America #114-119; Captain Marvel #15-19; Iron Man #15-20; years: 1969-70.

Avengers_Vol_1_71The Revolving Door of Avengers Mansion

Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor are back in action…at least part of the time. And the Black Knight becomes an official Avenger though not an active one, as he resides in England, which would be quite the commute.

The Dawn of the ‘70s

As this read-through finally hits the 1970s, and after we’ve all been subjected to the super-serious monstrosity known as Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, let’s appreciate how nice and innocent these old comics are. True, they are infected with the prejudices of their era (i.e. no shortage of sexism), but otherwise they depict many fine role models for the children who were reading them back in the day. These characters always try to do the right thing and make their world a better place. In the Marvel Comics Universe, superheroes err, but they tend to find their way back on track.

In DC’s rush to copy the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and establish a different tone from the MCU, they’ve given us a Superman who’s not very heroic and a Batman who’s willing to indirectly kill criminals, and that’s a loss for today’s kids. Adults can enjoy superheroes, too (as I certainly do), but we shouldn’t take the classics away from children.

These comics, for all their faults, depict superheroes as originally intended, in colorful, action-packed stories that excite the imagination and encourage us to be the best that we can be. But enough with the soapbox—on to the comics!

Thor_Vol_1_168The History of Galactus – Thor #160-161, 168-169

Some stories can only be told in the comic book medium—stories such as a big world-eating guy fighting a sentient planet. Galactus squares off against Ego the Living Planet, with Thor and others caught in the middle, and it’s epic indeed. Totally ridiculous, yes, and no other medium could do it justice, but it works wonderfully as an action-packed comic.

The fight puts Galactus on Odin’s radar, so shortly later he sends Thor to find and battle Galactus. But since we’ve just had a world-shattering Galactus fight, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby give us something different—the origin of Galactus. Turns out, Galactus is tired of fighting, and he just wants to tell Thor how he came to be. Why now and why to Thor? Because he’s Galactus, and his prodigious mind is such that we cannot comprehend, so don’t question anything that seems convenient or coincidental.

Anyway, Galactus is the sole survivor of his planet, Taa. Weird radiation happened. The Watcher observed it all and was tempted to stop this destructive being from coming into existence, but ultimately the Watcher takes his watching seriously. So if countless planets need to get eaten, fine, so long as the Watcher never interferes. Again, it would probably make sense to minds less mortal than ours. (more…)

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Avenging The Fantastic, Part 10: The Machinations of Ultron Begin!

Continuing the read-through of as many Avengers and Fantastic Four–related Marvel comics as possible!

Books Read

Tales of Suspense (starring Iron Man and Captain America) #92-99; Captain America #100-105; Iron Man and Sub-Mariner (just the Iron Man story) #1; Iron Man #1-4; Avengers #51-56, Annual #2; Marvel Superheroes (Captain Marvel) #12-13, (Medusa of the Inhumans) #15; Captain Marvel #1-5; Fantastic Four #74-79; Incredible Hulk #103; Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #1-3; years spanned: 1967-68.

a52_bpThe Revolving Door of Avengers Mansion

Captain America can’t return to the team quite yet, but he invites the Black Panther to join in his place. And when the first black Avenger shows up at the mansion, the police promptly arrest him for the murder of the Avengers. It’s all very awkward. But he saves the Avengers from new villain the Grim Reaper (brother of the late Wonder Man and bent on vengeance), and all is well. That leaves us with a lineup of Hawkeye, Goliath, Wasp, and the Black Panther – a formidable but still low-powered bunch.

That Didn’t Take Long – Tales of Suspense #96 (Captain America)

Remember how Captain America quit last time? Made a big fuss, revealed his secret identity to the world and everything? Yeah, well, Cap decides never mind…all in the span of ten pages, because some imposter Caps get themselves in trouble and he has to leap into action to bail them out.

As I said last time, 60s comics burn through plot fast.

“You can’t give up bein’ Captain America…’cause you are Captain America. It’d be easier to turn yer back on Steve Rogers!” –Nick Fury

“I…think you’re…right…Fury! I realize now…a man can’t ever stop being…something that he was born to be!” –Steve Rogers (channeling William Shatner, apparently) (more…)

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Ranking the Marvel Cinematic Universe from Worst to Best

The Internet clearly doesn’t have enough lists, so here’s another.

Many have attempted to rank the movies comprising the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Fewer have dared to add the four complete seasons of MCU television and Netflix series into the equation. I shall somehow rise to this challenge to ensure the Internet does not experience a shortage of lists. This was not easy, Internet. I swear, the top six were all neck-and-neck, and it came down to a photo-finish.

This ranking is from worst to best, not horrible to great. I’ve enjoyed all of these to varying extents, and the “varying” is what I’m measuring. None are bad. Conversely, none are works of towering artistic genius either. But it’s all damn fine entertainment worth revisiting.

SPOILERS ahead.

So, with that warning out of the way…

Here…we…go! (more…)

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Avenging the Fantastic, Part 6: Avengers Reassemble!

Continuing the read-through of as many Avengers and Fantastic Four–related Marvel comics as possible!

Journey_in_to_mystery118-00Books Read

Fantastic Four #39-43, Annual #3; Journey Into Mystery #114-123; Tales to Astonish (starring Giant-Man & Wasp and the Hulk) #60-74; Strange Tales (starring Nick Fury & SHIELD) #136-144; Tales of Suspense (starring Iron Man and Captain America) #66-76; Avengers #15-24; years: 1964-66.

Fantastic Firsts

Thor is the first to fight the Absorbing Man (we saw a little of him in early season two of Agents of SHIELD) in Journey Into Mystery #114. He also takes on the Destroyer (that robot-like Asgardian weapon from the first movie) in JIM #118. In a flashback story in JIM #119, the Warriors Three first appear (Fandral, Hogun, and Volstagg, who also all appear in the movies—Thor’s Asgardian warrior friends who aren’t Sif).

talessuspense76Captain America has his first battle with Batroc the Leaper (seen in far less cartoonish form at the beginning of Captain America: The Winter Soldier) in Tales of Suspense #75. In the same issue, he meets Agent 13, a young woman we’ll later learn is Sharon Carter, the sister of Peggy Carter who we know well from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (The familial relationship will change as World War II grows more distant.)

For the sake of democracy, Iron Man tackles evil commie the Titanium Man for the first time in TOS #69.

Jasper Sitwell, another familiar face from the cinematic universe, joins SHIELD in Strange Tales #144, though here he’s young, idealistic, and obnoxious.

Future Avenger the Swordsman first appears in Avengers #19. He’s in the bad guy camp at this point, but the seeds of future heroism are planted.

R.I.P. For Now

Captain America’s Nazi foe, Baron Zemo, the guy who killed his WWII sidekick Bucky Barnes, dies in battle in Avengers #15. Cap doesn’t lose any sleep over this.

In the next issue of Avengers, Hawkeye reports that the Black Widow has been killed by communists for trying to desert them. Nevertheless, I suspect we haven’t seen the last of Madame Natasha…

Avengers_Vol_1_16The Revolving Door of Avengers’ Mansion

Thor, Iron Man, Giant-Man, and the Wasp are out (amicably), leaving only Captain America to lead newcomers Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch.

The Status Is Not Quo

–The Hulk can’t seem to settle on a status quo. For the first time, the traditional “dumb Hulk” persona emerges, where he’s always referring to himself in the third person and is portrayed as being generally mindless…at least until Bruce Banner is accidentally shot in the head, which soon results in Banner being trapped in Hulk’s body with his own mind, unable to switch back without the bullet killing him (a more extreme version of Iron Man’s situation, basically), at least until the villainous Leader saves his life and coerces the Hulk to join forces with him.

“Then together, you and I…the only two green-skinned humans on Earth…can rule the world!” For a supposed genius, the Leader sure is fixated on skin color. (more…)

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Avenging the Fantastic, Part 5: Nick Fury Joins S.H.I.E.L.D.!

Continuing the read-through of as many Avengers and Fantastic Four–related Marvel comics as possible!

Books Read

Fantastic Four #31-38, Annual #2; Journey Into Mystery #110-113, Annual #1; Tales to Astonish (starring the Hulk) #60-64; Strange Tales (starring the Human Torch and Thing) #125-134, (starring Nick Fury) #135; Tales of Suspense (starring Iron Man and Captain America in separate stories) #59-65; Avengers #8-14; years: 1964-65.

ST 135_ce_HKFantastic Firsts

Lots!

The Avengers battle time-travelling villain Kang for the first time in their #8, though technically the character already debuted as Rama Tut over in Fantastic Four. Then they meet Immortus in #10, who we’ll later learn is another version of Kang from a different point in time (pesky time-travel shenanigans).

Future Avenger Wonder Man is introduced in Avengers #9, though he’s not entirely a good guy yet. Then they meet Count Nefaria in #13, and with a name like that, you know he’ll always be a bad guy.

Thor is the first to utter the famous catchphrase “Avengers Assemble!” in #10, uniting the team against the Masters of Evil.

We meet Sue and Johnny Storm’s father in FF #31. (He’ll be in the upcoming movie, but it looks like he’ll be an entirely different character than the disgraced surgeon who appears here.)

FF 36 MedusaThe Fantastic Four first encounter the Frightful Four in #36. The group includes previously established villains the Wizard, Sandman, and Paste-Pot-Pete (now Trapster) and new character Medusa, who is the first of the Inhumans we meet, though she’s not yet identified as such.

SHIELD debuts and recruits Nick Fury in Strange Tales #135, where we’re introduced to SHIELD staples such as the Helicarrier, life-model decoys (LMDs), a flying car, and recurring enemies Hydra.

Avengers’ mansion butler Edwin Jarvis first appears in Captain America’s story in Tales of Suspense #59. Like his television counterpart in Agent Carter, he’s in the employ of a Stark, but unlike the Marvel Cinematic Universe, no computer is named after the guy.

Golden Age villain Red Skull is reintroduced in TOS #65, though it is a World War II flashback story, so he hasn’t yet appeared in “modern” continuity by this point.

Norse and Greek mythology cross over when Thor accidentally visits Olympus in Journey Into Mystery Annual #1 and gets into a wee little misunderstanding with Hercules (another future Avenger).

The Hulk’s new solo series in Tales to Astonish features several notable first appearances, including Major Talbot (Adrian Pasdar’s character in the Agents of SHIELD TV series) in #61 and the villainous Leader in #62.

R.I.P. For Now

Wonder Man does not survive his first appearance. But we haven’t seen the last of him! (Don’t expect to see him in the movies, though. It’s possible, but I suspect Warner Bros. would object to another “Wonder” character floating around Hollywood.)

Dr. Storm, the Invisible Girl and Human Torch’s father, makes it to a second appearance in FF #32, at which point he’s killed by the alien Skrulls. I could be wrong, but I don’t think he ever rises from the dead—a rarity in the Marvel Universe. (more…)

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Avenging the Fantastic, Part 2: Avengers Assemble!

Continuing the read-through of as many Avengers and Fantastic Four–related Marvel comics as possible!

Books Read

Tales to Astonish (starring Ant-Man) #42-46; Tales of Suspense (starring Iron Man) #40-44; Journey Into Mystery (starring Thor) #92-96; Fantastic Four #14-18, Annual #1; Strange Tales (starring the Human Torch) #109-112, Annual #2; Avengers #1; year: 1963.

tales-to-astonish-44Fantastic Firsts

We meet Janet Van Dyne, a.k.a. the Wasp, who becomes Ant-Man’s sidekick in TTA #44. This brings us up to two female superheroes in the Marvel Comics Universe—one who turns invisible and one who shrinks.

Unless I missed someone, we also get the first non-white, non-extraterrestrial super-villain who would recur, the Radioactive Man, in JIM #93 (though back then they hyphenated it as “Radio-Active”). He comes from Red China, of course.

The Fantastic Four battle the Mad Thinker and his Awesome Android for the first time in FF #15, and in the next issue they take the first trip to the Microverse. In #18, the shape-shifting alien Skrulls introduce their Super-Skrull.

The Human Torch endures his first team-up with Spider-Man in Strange Tales Annual #2 (though they first met in the first issue of Spider-Man’s series, which we’re not covering here).

And the Avengers assemble in their own first issue, with the initial line-up of Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Ant-Man, and the Wasp.

The Status Is Not Quo

–So, back in the day, Ant-Man had a somewhat reckless method of travel.

At the size of an insect, he catapults himself out his window and across the city. While he’s being a projectile, ants converge at the landing spot he calculated, and they act as a cushion for him to fall on. He gives the Wasp wings so she can fly, but Ant-Man, the little reckless daredevil, keeps catapulting himself and never thinks to give himself wings. Though in TTA #46, he does start riding flying ants “like a Pegasus.” The man travels in style.

–Iron Man’s armor is powered by “transistors,” not “ark reactor” technology as seen in the movies and modern comics. And as Tony Stark, he doesn’t just have the glowing circle in his chest—he has to wear an entire armored chestplate under his clothes at all times. To recharge, he literally plugs the armor into everyday electrical sockets, the same ones you would use to plug in a toaster, and he sits there and waits. Tales of suspense, indeed.

Tony is seen dating different women in several issues, but none of these relationships last, presumably on account of his inability to take his shirt off without having some explaining to do. Though how these women never notice the peculiar hardness of his chest and stomach remains a mystery, unless Tony Stark dances like a middle school kid. (more…)

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Everything about the ‘new’ you need to know about ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’

With the second installment of The Avengers less than a month away, and with it clearly the favorite to be the summer blockbuster of 2015, it behooves us to be aware of that which came before — or, at least, from where the new characters to which we’ll be introduced come, as well as various needed plot elements.

Print comics is a dying medium, yes, but naturally, without ’em, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy our heroes on the silver screen.

THE VILLAIN
Ultron was created by Hank Pym, aka Giant Man as shown in Avengers #58. The robot quickly “evolves,” going from monosyllabic to complex speech in mere moments. He quickly frees himself from any concept of robotic servitude, immobilizing and then brain-wiping Pym, and escaping into the night.

Soon disguised as the Crimson Cowl, Ultron recruits a new Masters of Evil to assist him against the Avengers, and follows this with the creation of the Vision (Avengers #57), whom he also sends against Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

The Vision, however, betrays Ultron and helps the Avengers to defeat the mechanoid. But unknown to all, the robot’s “braincase” remains intact.

(more…)

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Trailer 2sday: “Avengers: Age of Ultron” Part Deux

You may notice a slight title change from the usual “Trailer Tuesday” headline. New year, new start right!? Well not really. I just did that because the official 2nd trailer for “Avengers: Age of Ultron” was released tonight! I’ll try to keep this one brief since I get a little long winded when it comes to all things geek-worthy.

As anyone who’s anyone may (or may not) know, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been known for the mystery surrounding its’ projects.  The people over at Marvel have been doing something right for the last eight or nine years, because they seem to reveal the right amount of information at just the right time.  Queue up the new trailer and we’ve got another handful of mystery shots for us to decipher before May hits!

The trailer opens with a pretty familiar scene of a city in turmoil and the Avengers helping to evacuate the innocent bystanders.  Follow that with a few depressingly gloomy looks from a couple of our mighty Avengers, and we’re reminded that this is not going to be a lighthearted, feel-good movie like the first time around.

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Super Comics: The Avengers #19-22 (1999)

Welcome to Super Comics, where we take a look at the books that inspired the movies and TV shows. And where better to start than a great Avengers storyline featuring the titular villain of the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron film?

unnamed-11Avengers stories are at their best when the stakes are both huge and personal, and that’s what we get in the “Ultron Unlimited” storyline that ran in The Avengers (vol. 3) #19-22 in 1999, written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by George Perez—two top, veteran talents in the comics industry.

The cast includes a few Avengers moviegoers have already met—Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor—as well as some they’re about to meet—the Scarlet Witch and Vision—and even a couple whom they might meet versions of in the upcoming Ant-Man movie—Hank Pym and the Wasp. The Black Panther, who’s got a film in the works, rejoins the team for this adventure. And then there’s Wonder Man, who filmmakers will probably get around to eventually if the super-hero trend keeps up long enough; Firestar, who ‘80s kids might remember from the Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends cartoon; and Justice, who…well, they can’t all be in the pictures, can they?

In this storyline, Ultron is taking another shot at his usual goal of replacing organic life with robotic life. But this time includes some twists. He actually does destroy an entire small country as his opening salvo, which gives tremendous gravity to the proceedings. And he kidnaps his “family” so that he can use their brainwaves to generate unique personalities for the robotic life he wants to take over the world.

unnamed-12This story draws on the 35-plus years of Avengers continuity that comes before it, something the movies simply don’t have time to do. While it enriches the overall experience, it also bogs down some parts with exposition so the newer readers aren’t lost.

In the comics, Ultron was created by Hank Pym, who began his super-heroic career as Ant-Man, is most often identified as Giant-Man, and has even called himself Yellow Jacket at times. It looks like Tony Stark will create Ultron in the movie series, which is a logical revision. Pym’s scientific specialties were always biochemistry, insects, and size-changing. Creating artificial intelligence was a significant deviation.

In fact, in this storyline, Iron Man says, “Ultron always hits close to home for me, Firestar. He represents the dark side of technology, the soulless coldness of it—and even though it was Henry Pym who first built him, he always reminds me of the times my armor’s been used to kill others—and what a danger I can be.”

Then again, Pym has often been portrayed as an insecure, sometimes even unstable character trying to prove himself, so it’s not entirely out of left field in the grand scope of comics continuity. But writer/director Joss Whedon is correct not to be a purist in this instance.

unnamed-13Ultron, as he explicitly points out here, has always been something of a “family man,” and he is connected to an impressive family tree. In “Ultron Unlimited,” he kidnaps his “father,” Pym; his “mother,” the Wasp, who at this point is Pym’s ex-wife; his “son,” the Vision, whom he programmed with the brainwaves of the then-deceased Wonder Man, who’s alive again and also gets kidnapped; his “daughter-in-law,” the Scarlet Witch, who was married to the Vision for a while, though they’re long since divorced here; and the villainous Grim Reaper, the brother of Wonder Man.

That’s a family tree that took many years of comics to build. This story is even missing a couple of notable “relatives,” including Scarlet Witch’s brother Quicksilver, and the robotic Jocasta, whom Ultron created as a wife for himself by programming the Wasp’s brainwaves into her.

unnamed-14This storyline can be read by tracking down the individual issues or the out-of-print trade paperback Ultron Unlimited. Your best bet, however, is probably the Avengers Assemble vol. 2 trade paperback, which includes several other issues that come before (just make sure it’s written by Kurt Busiek. There’s another Avengers Assemble series by another writer, which I haven’t read). You can also subscribe to Marvel Unlimited’s digital library, which has this as well as most, if not all, of the earlier storylines it references.

Busiek’s entire run is full of good, solid super-heroic stories that balance character and action, and Perez’s art in the first couple of years is a treat. These guys are two of the best in the business, and it shows in “Ultron Unlimited.”

Guardians is a Smash

Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-poster-21When I first heard that Marvel was contemplating a Guardians of the Galaxy project, I thought it could be cool, but that it would take a really good story to break through the normal sci-fi hurdles of an original, potentially-unrelatable cast of characters and settings. Then they announced that they’d hired James Gunn and any trepidation I might have had turned immediately into joy and excitement.

While most critics and commentators were questioning the logic of hiring a guy who had only directed low-budget films like Super ($2.6M) and Slither ($15M), (as well as his beloved series PG-Porn) and handing him the keys to the kingdom, I was thinking about how brilliant Marvel Studios has been by focusing not on finding “known” directors, and instead hiring directors who exude originality in tone, and taking chances on them.

More than anything, it seems to me that that is what really matters in creating a great comic book movie like Guardians of the Galaxy. Technical inexperience can usually be overcome by hiring the best of the business to head up creative teams and production departments, but a sharp director is indispensable.

In a recent Variety interview, when he was asked how much harder it is to make a $170M movie compared to the small-budget indies he’s used to, James Gunn replied:

“I remember one friend in particular was like, ‘It’s so hard, is the pressure getting to you, are you freaking out?’ And I’m like, No. It seems 1,000 times easier than “Super” was. You’re surrounded by the best people in the business, I can envision any shot in my head and I can make it a reality.”

020Wit, humor, and directorial vision have always been Gunn’s strong-points as a writer and director, and it’s exactly what Marvel needed to launch a title like Guardians.

And this is where the genius of Kevin Feige has made all the difference for Marvel Studios.

When Marvel tapped Jon Favreau to make Iron Man, it was basically the same situation. Instead of hiring a guy who had directed a half a dozen tentpole movies already, they picked a guy who had done primarily smaller films (Swingers, Made) and who had demonstrated a specific tone & vision. Let’s not even get into discussing Joss Whedon’s work prior to The Avengers.

You can see this same type of forward-thinking with casting.

When Robert Downey, Jr. was cast as Iron Man, “the industry” thought it was a big risk because of his past battles with alcoholism. Of course… The character of Tony Stark has also battled alcoholism throughout the comics, so perhaps it was always a perfect fit. Likewise, a few years ago, nobody would have pegged the loveable but kind of schlubby goofball Chris Pratt as a leading man in a superhero movie. But then, the character of Peter Quill is – underneath the Han Solo exterior – an immature goofball, too. He got abducted by space pirates as a boy, and never really grew up. Thus… Chris Pratt makes sense.

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So what about the film itself? 

With a 92% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a pile of earned media from its powerful $160.4 million opening weekend, there’s not much I could say about the characters and plot of Guardians of the Galaxy that hasn’t been covered in any of a hundred reviews, so I won’t waste my limited space here with any of that.

Instead, let’s talk about why – after a string of terribly mediocre summer blockbusters (Lucy, Hercules, Snowpiercer, Transformers 4, etc.) – the “Guardians of the Galaxy” are finally here to save the day for movie-goers everywhere. For me, it really all comes down to tone.

James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy is pure space adventure, and all fun.

It’s less like a J.J. Abrams Star Trek or a self-serious Christopher Nolan movie, and more like a 1970s-1980s space opera. Think Flash Gordon, Barbarella, and even Star Wars.

It’s a movie that is both campy and absurd, yet simultaneously relatable and human. Its realism comes not so much from believable scenarios and plausible technology (definitely not that), but by being emotionally grounded in two important ways. 

The first is the core of humor and heart developed with characters who – be they a raccoon, talking tree, or green alien assassin – feel like real people doing things real people would do… for the most part. Admittedly, it may help to have a bit more of an in-depth understanding of the character backstories and the universe to understand everything, but based on the movie’s reception, audiences don’t seem to be having too much of a problem understanding what’s going on.

But even if they did, the second core for Guardians of the Galaxy is the flawless use of pop-music from the 1970s and 80s that grounds the film and makes it relatable, even though roughly 5 minutes actually takes place on Earth. A lot will be made of this in writing about this film, but speaking as a composer and (former) professional music supervisor, it is really an incredible facet of this movie, and it really helps make the complicated plot and interstellar locations feel a lot more like home.

So if you hate Indiana Jones, Star Wars, exciting space adventures, and having fun or laughing uproariously at the cinema, Guardians of the Galaxy might not be for you. 

But personally, I already can’t wait to see what Awesome Mix Vol. 2 has in store for us all.