Posted in Comics n Stuff, Uncategorized

The Joy of Comics: Symptoms of the Sickness

Kirby,_Genesis,_Dynamite_Entertainment,_May_2011

Prolific podcaster Michael R Bailey in an old promo for his show (one of many)Views from the Longbox, referred to comic collecting as a crippling addiction. As time goes on, I realise how right he was.

It’s a ridiculous hobby for a grown ass man, but comics have been part of my life for longer than most things. So as you can imagine, I have a lot of them, Seriously, it’s ridiculous. So last year I did what I needed to and bought some longboxes. It’s weird to think I didn’t use them before. I now have eight of them in use, plus another two or three for trade paperbacks and the like.

Part of the collecting illness is the organising of these comics. I have whole systems for that process, publishers, themes and so on and so forth and have for the last several months avoided sorting them out (I am good at avoiding, it’s a skill, not a good one, but a skill) and have begun the process of cataloguing them, comic by comic. Now given that a large percentage of my comic collection is digital these days, those eight long boxes are but a fraction of what I have to read, but there is something about physically holding the comics that makes the reading experience richer. But I digress and will not wade into the digital vs hard copy debate, because both have too many merits for me. The point is that organising them is a bit of a thing.

It’s a good thing. I have comics that date back to the 90’s from when I got them and the 70’s from when they were published and I have some really good stuff in there. For example, it would have been Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday last  week, if he hadn’t passed away and i was able to find my copy of the Kirby Genesis series from a few years ago and I re-read it. It was awesome, in fact I plan to do a post on it later. I saw loads of comics that I knew that I had, but forgot how much I actually enjoyed. Re-organising those comics started as a chore, but re-affirmed my love for them. A bag of comics, read once for their new-ness still have the power to transport me to strange places and fill my mind with wonders.

The joy of comics is still with me, they do not overshadow the best things in my life (my son, the MIGHTY Rosie) but they do add something to them and if I hadn’t been such a messy sod, this wouldn’t be at the fore front of my mind right now.

So if you are a collector of stuff, have a butchers at it once in a while, read an old book, listen to an old CD, play an old game and remember, why it is you have those things in the first place.

Bit of a rambly one today, ta ta for now internet people.

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5 Kirby Creations that were not Marvel’s Silver Age

Now as you cab imagine after last week’s post Thanks Jack I am a big Jack Kirby fan. The foundation of the Marvel Universe would be as sand without the striking visuals and fantastic ideas that came from a short scrappy man with cosmic dreams and a pencil that created universes. Other creators built on that foundation and it took on a life of it’s own.

That alone would be a decent legacy to be proud of, it has endured over 55 years and unless Marvel bugger it up, will endure for many more. But that early surge of characters and concepts wasn’t all he did. Here are just 5 out of the many more things created by the King.

1:  OMAC

Buddy Blank is connected to the orbiting satellite Brother Eye and under the command of the Global Peace Agency and when needed, can become the one man army corp OMAC who fights for justice in the nightmarish world that’s coming.

A dystopian future riddled with high concept sci-fi optimism that was unlike anything going on at that time and like much of his work, tons of fun.
2: The Eternals


Wherever he went the King created mythologies. When he returned to  in the mid 70’s he created another one that was as far reaching as anything from his Tales of Asgard.

The basic idea was vast beings called Celestials tampered with human evolution millennia ago, with the results being baseline humans, the mutated Deviants and the super powerful Eternals.

The Celestials are due to return and judge the world and if it is to survive all three subspecies of man must work together.

An odd fit for the Marvel Universe, beings posing as gods and mutated creatures being rather superfluous in a world where Asgardians, inhumans and mutants are commonplace. But the mix of striking visuals and amazing ideas make this an excellent read.

3: The Demon

Gone, gone form of man, rise the demon Etrigan.

With these words we get one of Jack Kirby’s strangest protagonists. Jason Blood, a man from Arthurian times is bonded to the demon Etrigan who was caged within Blood by Merlin. He has walked the Earth since and Blood can summon Etrigan when evil needs to be battled.

One of very few purely mystical characters Jack did, he stands out for his look and the fact that he isn’t really a good guy and is restrained, not reformed. He’s endured well and still pops up from time to time.

4: Kamandi

There came a great disaster and the world as we know it was gone. In it’s ruins humanoid animals have conquered the diminished humanity. Kamandi is one of the only intelligent and free humans left.

Epic and more than a little reminiscent of Planet of the Apes and it’s again tons of fun.

5:  Machine Man

Personally my favourite out of this 5, this is a very by the numbers alien amongst us story with an fugitive hero whom we identity with, but the bad guys treat as property or an obstacle. The difference here is the personality of the lead.

Android/robotic heroes in comics and sci fi are legion. Red Tornado, Jocasta, Vision, the android from Dark Matter, Data from Star Trek TNG and so on  and so forth. Most of those guys had something in common, they were kind of nice, or naive. There was a pleasantness to them. Aaron ‘Machine Man’ Stack is not one of those, in fact, he’s a dick.

Raised to think of himself as human, Aaron is sometimes unpleasant, impatient and doesn’t put humanity on a pedestal. He was a human being, not idealised, not naive, not loveable. Like us.

This isn’t even his independent stuff (we’ll get to that) and won’t even consider talking about the Fourth World, but I wanted to recognised that even 15 years after he made his mark on Marvel, he remained the King.

Long may his legacy reign.

Posted in Comics n Stuff

Thanks Jack

 

The 28th of August was the 100th birthday of Jacob Kurtzberg, known to the geeky amongst us as  Jack ‘the King’ Kirby. It was be quite the achievement, but sadly the man passed away in 1994.

I never met the man, nor saw much of his life off the page, so I won’t pretend to miss him, or feel saddened for his loss. His family lost him, his friends lost him and his colleagues past and present lost him. I’m not going to pretend to have this great sense of loss, it would be disingenuous. But I also can’t say he didn’t have an effect on me either.

In the mid 1980’s a was given a copy of Original X-Men #1 which was a reprint title of the 1960’s X-Men. This was drawn and co-plotted by one Jack Kirby and I’ll be honest, I was entranced. The character design, the action and the just mad dynamism of those pages affect me even now. One of my early favourite artists was John Byrne, who was so very clearly influenced by Kirby as was Byrne’s contemporary Walt Simonson who did the greatest run on the Mighty Thor since, well the man who launched Thor to comic stardom, Jack Kirby. If you look at the marvel movies from the last year or so, or one of the DC movies from last year. You’d be hard pushed not to see Kirby’s influence 40-50 years after his work on these characters.

Batman vs Superman (the dream sequence was full of 4th world creations)

Captain America: Civil War  (Captain America, Iron Man, Ant Man, Black Panther and even some of the original designs for Spider-Man, all Kirby)

Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 (Ego, the Celestials, Warlock and Groot all have roots in Kirby’s work.)

Some later movies

Thor Ragnarok (Thor and Hulk)

Justice League ( Steppenwolf, the Mother Box etc)

All these million dollar ideas were all born from the pencil of Jack Kirby.

He inspired many artists who followed him and challenged many that worked alongside him. Comics wouldn’t be comics without him and to me, that would be a very sad place. He passed away and was the most part shafted along the way by suits as well as friends, but his legacy remains.

90% of the Marvel Universe, including the Inhumans, Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Black Panther, Adam Warlock, the Kree, the Skrull, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the X-Men, Galactus and the Silver Surfer.

The Fourth World

Kamandi

the Demon

OMAC

The Celestials

Machine Man

Devil F***ing Dinosaur

This man was an idea factory and came up with some of the wildest and most amazing ideas in sci-fi history as well as working for years in animation, adding to the creation of Thundarr the Barbarian and the Centurions amongst others. He was the man who drew Captain America punching Hitler long before the US became part of WWII and when it did, he signed up and fought.

I’m not going to get into the who did what debate between him and Stan Lee, but lets be honest without either of them, no one would care about what Marvel became and it’s the visuals that Kirby put down that remain with us.

But to get back to the point, without the work Kirby did, we wouldn’t have the Marvel Universe, a place I spent much more of my life than would be considered healthy. Years later I would be amazed by his 4th world stuff and would grab a new appreciation for his legacy and without that, I’d have missed out on a ton of stuff that has fired up my imagination. I’ve read a lot of cool comics, watched a ton of great tv and movies and have had some great conversations out of it. Comics were my escape, my passion and still now my favourite form of entertainment so for all of that….thank you Mr Kirby may your legacy endure.

 

Posted in TV Stuff, Uncategorized

Champions of S.H.I.E.L.D. part 3

 

Agent Phil Coulson –  Clark Gregg

Agent Melinda May  –  Ming Na Wen

Agent Leopold Fitz    – Ian De Caestecker

Agent Gemma Simmons –  Elizabeth Henstridge

Daisy Johnson   –  Chloe Bennett

Alfonso ‘Mack’ MacKenzie – Henry Simmons

Lance Hunter – Nick Blood

Barbara ‘Bobbi’ Morse – Adrianne Palicki

Recurring Cast:

Rosalind Price – Constance Zimmer

Hive/Grant Ward – Brett Dalton

Lincoln Campbell – Luke Mitchell

Gideon Malick – Powers Boothe

Dr Andrew Garner – Blair Underwood

Overview: First shown on 10 January 2016, this season pushed the series further from the connection to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and was eager to move on and be very much it’s own thing. Now the inhuman subplot of the 1st and 2nd seasons are very much the main part of this series as it is ongoin.

Initial Status Quo: Several months after the battle of Afterlife and the disappearance of Dr Gemma Simmons and things aren’t going too smoothly. Terrigen has gotten into the food chain, through food, fish oil capsules and the like and there artheandom people all over the world going through terrigenesis and emerging as new Inhumans, with no understanding of what has happened or how to transition back to a more normal life. The public is scared and a new agency has been formed to deal with this new outbreak. The Alien Threat Containment Unit (known mostly as ACTU) is chasing down these new inhumans, treating them as hostile aliens. S.H.I.E.L.D. are losing ground and the ones they miss are vanishing without a trace. So it’s a race to get to each one. But these two factions are not alone in this quest. Also Leopold Fitz finds a way to use the monolith to open a portal to rescue Gemma Simmons.

First Twist: We learn very early on that the ATCU aren’t killing them, but believe S.H.I.E.L.D. is, turns out another Inhuman called Lash is killing these new-Inhumans. Coulson starts dealing with and then falls in love with the ATCU’s head Rosalind Price, learning that behind the ATCU is Hydra. Whilst this is going on, Grant Ward is restarting Hydra, being pursued by Lance Hunter and May. Hunter and May get close, but only succeed in sending Ward towards the last of the Hydra leaders Gideon Malick, the same man behind the ATCU. Malick orders Ward to kill Rosalind Price sending Coulson on a revenge fueled attack.

Second Twist: In confrontation with Hydra, Fitz, Coulson and Ward end up on the world they rescued Gemma from, they find that there’s something else there. An ancient inhuman who is trying to return to Earth, wearing the dead body of Ward. This inhuman, Hive allies himself with Malick and begins their attack on S.H.I.E.L.D. costing them the services of Hunter and Morse as well as funding the anti-inhuman hate group Watchdogs. 

Third Twist: Hive casts Malick aside and begins to brainwash inhumans including Daisy in his scheme to convert all humans to inhumans or subservient Alpha Primitives. The season ends on this story and with horrific consequences for Daisy.

Epilogue: We then shoot 6 months into the future and we learn that Daisy or Quake is on the run and Coulson and Mack are hunting her at thee behest of S.H.I.E.L.D’s new director.

Standout Episodes:

Purpose in the Machine: We find out where May got to and how far Fitz will go for Simmons.

4772 Hours: The story of Simmons’ time of the Kree world of Maveth told in snapshots over several months.

Maveth: Ward and Coulson battle on an alien world, while the Secret Warriors battle Hydra.

Singularity: Plotlines continue as Fitz/Simmons finally confront their feelings and become the couple so many fans ‘shipped.

In Closing: Series 3 was a departure from before in that it barely connected to the movies and tried to be it’s own thing. This was both positive and negative. The positive was that it could stand on it’s own and try new things. Sadly the negative was the like the comics it tried to make inhumans a thing. Once you take the recognisable inhumans out of the picture there’s nothing particularly interesting about them. There a bargain basement version of mutants and that’s what they are used as here. Once you’re past that, the series is as consistently entertaining and comic-booky as ever. Once again am looking forward to the next season.