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Logan’s Travels with Charley (and Wolver-tween): Yes, No, Maybe

(Spoilers? Just some mild ones, bub.)

Yes, it’s good to see Wolverine in action again. Pairing him with a mini-me (or mini-him… er, actually a female mini-him) smelled like a big fat gimmick upon first glance (or whiff) but Wolver-tween is interesting, entertaining… and jarring. Seeing her decapitate an enemy was oddly refreshing. Why?

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Deadpool is Waiting for You

deadpool1Time for a stupid question, is there anybody out there who hasn’t watched Deadpool?  Well, is there anyone out there other than my dad, who didn’t watch it?  Even he intended to see it, until he learned it was not in fact the sixth installment of the Dirty Harry franchise.  So is there anyone who actually knows how to use the internet, that didn’t see it?  I didn’t think so.

Well, humor me for a second. Maybe you live under a rock and don’t know who Deadpool is?  Or maybe, unlike me, you actually care other people – and spent your Valentine’s Day catering to them instead of sitting through a certain comic book flick with your man crush Ryan Reynolds for the third time.  Either way, instead of wasting your time (and more importantly mine), I am going to provide the top reasons why you should have seen Deadpool.  Or possibly, why you should see it again.

The first reason Deadpool is nothing like the “previous attempt” at Deadpool.  Any dedicated comic book fan, would rather spend a frigid weekend at the Weapons X facility than relive the ending of Wolverine Origins.  This film is nothing like that… in any way.  One of the fatal flaws was of the original, was to sew the lips of the self-titled “merc with the mouth” shut.

As a comic book fan, I am often torn when presented with an origin story. On one hand; it is great to witness the birth of characters I love; and painful when revisionists attempts to reinvent them.  Yes, I had issues with the accuracy of Wade’s origins – and the origins of other peripheral characters like Ajax and Angle Dust – but for the most part these were tolerable and entertaining.

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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.

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Super Comics: Uncanny X-Men #172 and 173 (1983)

Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_1_172 Let’s go back to the early days of the super-hero movie trend, to the first X-Men movie from 2000. (Spoilers ahead, but it’s been nearly 15 years.)

That movie featured Wolverine and Rogue as our viewpoints characters, and it built a friendship between, which culminated in Wolverine—at great risk to his own health—allowing Rogue to borrow his healing ability so she could recover from life-threatening injuries. I can’t find that scene on YouTube, but this is the music that plays during the moment.

I’m guessing that scene was inspired by the events of Uncanny X-Men #172 and 173 from 1983, which were written by main X-architect Chris Claremont and drawn by Paul Smith. This pair of issues serves a double purpose—to follow up the excellent Wolverine miniseries Claremont had just completed with artist Frank Miller, and to establish Rogue as a bona fide X-Woman. By the way, that Wolverine miniseries influenced aspects of The Wolverine movie from 2013, but that’d be a whole other article.

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A Look Back: X-Men: Days of Future Past – The Comic

So you’ve seen the X-Men: Days of Future Past, the movie, but have you read the original comic book?

That huge movie event has its origins in Uncanny X-Men #141 and 142, just two little old issues from 1980 written by Chris Claremont and drawn by John Byrne.

X- Men Uncanny #142
X- Men Uncanny #142

Warning:Spoilers ahead for the comic book; movie spoilers won’t exceed what you see in promotional materials.

Shortly before Days of Future Past, the Claremont/Byrne team made use of another classic storyline, The Dark Phoenix Saga, which resulted in the death of Jean Grey. Cyclops quit the team after that, and leadership duties fell to Storm. In fact, DOFP was her first mission as team leader. The rest of the “present-day” team consisted of Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Angel, and 13-year-old newcomer Kitty Pryde, all under the guidance of Professor X. (Hank McCoy/Beast was an Avenger at this time, following an unsuccessful attempt at spinning him off into his own solo adventures.)

The “future” of the comics’ storyline is 2013, and the robotic Sentinels have taken control, similar to what we see in the movie. A new character named Rachel uses her mental powers to send the adult Kate Pryde’s mind back to her teenage body, at a time before she had been trained to shield herself from any mental attacks.

That’s why Kitty is chosen as the time-traveler—she was the novice. In the movie, they need to send someone back to 1973, before Kitty was born, and since  Hugh Jackman is the star, so writers took liberties with her phasing powers and added “passing people through time” to her usual skill of “passing through solid objects.”

Unlike the movie, her objective is not to save the life of the Sentinels’ inventor, but to save the life of Senator Kelly, whom moviegoers met in the first X-Men film.

Mystique still plays the role of assassin—or rather, leader of a group of mutants out to kill the senator as a show of mutant strength.

Days of Future Past is Mystique’s first appearance in the X-Men comics. She had debuted a couple of years earlier as a nemesis for Ms. Marvel (a non-mutant super-hero and Avenger who today is experiencing a surge of popularity among comics fans as Captain Marvel).

At this point, the comics’ Mystique has no personal ties to Charles Xavier or Magneto. There are hints that she has a connection to Nightcrawler, and we later learn she’s his biological mother. Additionally, Mystique is the foster mother of Rogue, who is about a year away from her comics introduction.

Jennifer Lawrence gives a great performance as Mystique in DOFP, but hers is a more youthful portrayal, a disillusioned young woman whose path and personality haven’t been set in stone yet. From the beginning, comics Mystique comes across as worldly and set in her ways. However, both incarnations are willing to do whatever they feel is necessary to protect their fellow mutants.

Also of note, Professor X and Magneto didn’t even have any personal history at this point in the comics either. Their past friendship was retroactively inserted into continuity about 20 issues later.

X-Men Uncanny #141
X-Men Uncanny #141

Wolverine is a bit more psychotic than Hugh Jackman’s more mature portrayal. At a couple of points, he’s ready to impale a bad guy with his claws, and Storm goes out of her way to stop him and issue a stern warning that he will not slay anyone on her watch. It’s a nice little mid-battle moment giving us an early glimpse of Storm’s leadership potential and reminding us what a shame it is that Halle Berry’s Storm isn’t more fleshed out.

While the present-day battle is a pretty basic brawl, the future scenes were more groundbreaking at the time, as we see our favorite characters in a world in which they’ve failed and don’t have much else to lose. And we see them die. This is basically The End of the X-Men—a true “last stand.”

It’s pretty dark at a time when comics were regarded as kids’ stuff (and indeed, most of them were).

DOFP packed a lot of story into two issues. Modern comics would expand this into at least a six-issue storyline, if not an 18-part crossover across six different X-Men titles.

The writing style is somewhat dated. Claremont tends to be verbose, with characters often saying exactly what they feel.

Still, these comics are worth reading. That goes for the full Claremont/Byrne run, which ran from #108 to #143. They’re fun and exciting whether you’re 10 or 40—as great comics should be.