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Guide to the Injustice Roster: Explaining Comics to People Who Don’t Read Comics Part 5

April 10th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

SHAZAM

Alias: Captain Marvel, Billy Batson, Captain Thunder
First Appearance: Whiz Comics #2 (1940)
Powers: The wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles and the speed of Mercury. Able to summon lightning by saying, “Shazam”
Other Media: Old-timey film adaptations, had his own live-action show in the 70′s, an animated series, was on Legend of the Superheroes, guest-starred on Justice League, Batman: the Brave and the Bold and Young Justice.

I might as well get the name thing out of the way because I’m sure it’s confusing as hell for people out of the Shazam loop. The magical wizard is Shazam. The superhero is Captain Marvel, only sometimes they call him Shazam, like in current comics and this game. It’s for silly legal reasons that I’ll get to, but for the sake of simplicity, I’m just going to call him Captain Marvel throughout this thing.

It’s a little sad that your average Joe doesn’t know who Captain Marvel is because during the 40′s, he was THE top superhero. Published by Fawcett Comics, his adventures sold more than Superman and Batman. He was the first superhero to get his own movie (which featured him taking out a bunch of enemy soldiers with a gatling gun. Times were different back then). Elvis Presley based his on-stage wardrobe on Captain Marvel’s sidekick Captain Marvel Jr. Captain Marvel was the man.

Only he really wasn’t a man, but a young boy named Billy Batson. Chosen by the wizard Shazam for his purity, orphan news reporter Billy was bestowed the power of becoming Captain Marvel upon saying the word, “Shazam!” Powered by the gods, Captain Marvel fought the likes of Dr. Sivana, Mr. Mind and many others. What made the character work was that he was just a kid. It was pure power fantasy. The idea that you could become this great superhero no matter your age.

So what made him so much better than Superman in the nation’s mind? Well, to be brutally honest about early Superman comics, Captain Marvel was interesting. Superman was a novelty act. He was in God Mode, going through the motions, taking out criminals who were no threat to him. Watching him beat up wife-beaters or throw around mobsters was fun in its own way, but even the mad scientist characters didn’t work all that well. It was usually, “Haha! Let’s see what happens when I pour molten lava over Superman! Nothing? Well, shit. What if I send my giant robot forces? Torn apart with ease? Damn it.”

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When Comics Should Be TV

June 8th, 2010 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Alert reader elad, during the last podcast, was good enough to point me to the Execution of Mister Mind in the old Captain Marvel Adventures.  It was just as good as I imagined it would be.

Better, even.

What’s even better - someone I know from my local comic book shop brought in the full color, massive trade of the Captain Marvel Adventures and let me see how this went down in glorious color.  (Take that, proponents of e-comics, of which I technically am one.  Oh well.)  Highlights include the foreman of the jury declaring that they didn’t even have to leave the room to decide whether Mister Mind was guilty or not.  They knew right away.

All I could think, from Captain Marvel acting as the prosecuting attorney to the verdict to the teeny, tiny electric chair that they strap Mister Mind into, was this needs to be a Law & Order episode.  The pacing is perfect for the ‘dun duns’ and the work out that Jack McCoy’s eyebrows would get through the whole thing would be epic. 

But I’d settle for an animated short added on to a straight-to-DVD movie.  I love that dead worm.

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Fourcast! 47: Captains Marvel

May 31st, 2010 Posted by david brothers

-Continuity Off!
-Esther has Captain Marvel!
-David has Captain Marvel!
-Wait, what?
-6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental for the theme music.
-See you, space cowboy!

Subscribe to the Fourcast! via:
-Podcast Alley feed!
-RSS feed via Feedburner
-iTunes Store

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Sons of DKR: The Dark Knight Strikes Again 01

April 8th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

There were a few comics that hooked me when I was getting back into comics in 2003. Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch’s The Authority, Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s The Ultimates, Frank Miller’s Daredevil Visionaries Vol. 2, and, probably more than anything else, Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again. The first three are generally well-regarded. They gave all involved a higher profile, tilted the direction of established characters permanently (when’s the last time you saw a not-depressing Daredevil story?), and left their marks on the comics industry.

And then there’s DKSA.

I came to DKSA backwards. I’d read Sin City, 300, and some of Miller’s miscellaneous Dark Horse work over the years, but I hadn’t touched his Batman work. Year One and Dark Knight Returns were just phrases I’d seen on book jackets, rather than works I’d actually read. I had the benefit of not coming into DKSA with 15 years of expectations for “Dark Knight Returns 2,” and found a book that I enjoyed greatly.

I’m sure you have already heard what DKSA gets wrong ad nauseum. Instead of that, I want to talk about what DKSA gets right. I think that it’s a deeply flawed work, but one which delivers plenty to talk about. It’s fascinating to me how much it gets right, despite being a dervish that’s attempting to hit seven or eight points at once. I don’t think that Frank Miller has gone half as crazy as people think he has, but I do believe that he looks at what bad writers made of the legacy of DKR (and Watchmen) and feels at least partially responsible. DKSA is, at least in part, Miller exorcising those demons and showing another direction things could have gone in.

You can even see it in the surface-level visual look of the book. DKR was fairly subdued and realistic. DKSA is garish, cartoony, and loud. There’s something even in its approach to comics that’s a violent reaction to the past. If you look at the book, it doesn’t look like your average superhero book, either. Frank Miller is playing in the same wheelhouse as Humberto Ramos, with the big foot style and perspective playing a large role in the storytelling. So, what is Miller trying to say or do, besides give older fans narrative whiplash?

For the record, any images or text is from DKSA or the Miller x TCJ interview I transcribed the other day.
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Infinite Crisis: The Graphic Audio

August 31st, 2008 Posted by Gavok

Can you believe Infinite Crisis only ended a little over two years ago? It feels so much longer. At the time, it was an exciting time to read DC. A lot was going down, 52 was on the horizon, One Year Later was starting up, among other things. The miniseries did come off as a letdown, but considering how hyped it was, how could it be anything but? By the time the seventh issue landed, with its rushed art to meet the deadline, I couldn’t be happier to be done with this whole storyline.

Sometime after, author Greg Cox wrote a novelization of Infinite Crisis. Such an odd concept, isn’t it? A novelization of a comic book? It’s like the literary version of hearing a country singer covering a rock group’s hit song. I guess I shouldn’t talk, since years back, before I was even into comics in the first place, I read the novelization of Knightfall. Plus there’s the whole movie novelization thing I do for the sake of getting site hits.

I didn’t read Cox’s take on Infinite Crisis, but through chance, I discovered an interesting piece relating to it. A company called Graphic Audio had done a book on CD version of his take. That’s right, an audio book based on a book based on a graphic novel. What an insane concept. Too curious, I ordered the two sets and spent a couple weeks listening through them. Yes, weeks. The entire story is told with twelve discs over the course of thirteen hours. Thirteen hours to tell the story of seven issues.

Well, that’s not fair. It’s more than just the seven issues. Cox chose to cherry-pick tie-in issues to help pad out the story to differing success. This includes the end of Crisis of Conscience where Superboy Prime attacks Martian Manhunter, the Spectre vs. Shazam fight from the end of Day of Vengeance, the part of Gotham Central where Crispus Allen got killed, an issue of Aquaman and parts of the Rann/Thanagar War Special.

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Lie-Bot, What’s the Saddest Thing?

August 15th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

How about the first page of Secret Invasion #5?

That issue had a lot of great moments in it. People were badass when needed, stuff blew up and Skrull Jewel stared horrified and confused at her green hands moments before a tiger mauled her to death. But this, this right here is the highlight for me.

It’s incredible that Mar-Vell and Norman Osborn are two guys who got killed off in the 70′s, but have done some spectacular stuff since their fan-reluctant resurrections. Right here, you’re looking at two of Marvel’s best characters at the moment. They’re both so damn intriguing.

Luckily, there is some news to cheer me up. Cheer you up too, if it suits you.

Time-Life is releasing every single freaking episode of Real Ghostbusters on DVD!

It’s about freaking time! I’m sick of those $6.99 discs that only have three random episodes on them. Leave those to die in the 80′s.

For the first time, all seasons of The Real Ghostbusters are available in one collection, on 25 DVDs.

Included are:

- All Episodes of The Real Ghostbusters
- All Episodes from Slimer! And The Real Ghostbusters
- Unique Collector’s Box with Exclusive Art

Also included are over TWELVE HOURS of bonus features, including:

- The original promotional pilot for The Real Ghostbusters, NEVER BEFORE AIRED
- 21 on-camera Commentary Tracks with producers, voice actors, writers, animators and production personnel
- 5 exclusive Documentaries
- 86 Episode Introductions
- 16-page booklets include episode synopses, trivia, and art for every episode!
- Plus Scripts, Storyboards, Image Galleries, Music & Effects Audio Tracks, and Much More!
- Interviews with J. Michael Straczynski (Writer & Story Editor), Maurice La Marche (Voice Of ” Egon Spengler”), Laura Summer (Voice Of First “Janine Melnitz”), Kath Soucie (Voice Of Second “Janine Melnitz”), and Many Others

Hells yes.

I apologize for my lack of updates lately. Truth is, I’m very sick right now. I’ve been sick this past week. It’s surprisingly hard to type up your thoughts on Director Bones when you keep coughing so hard and so often that your neck feels like its about to snap right off.

Give me a day or so. I’ll be back in form, writing long essays about Amalgam’s unbeatable monster villain “Red Monarch” or something equally retarded.

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Review: Secret Invasion: Who Do You Trust?

June 11th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

Over the past few years, with all the various comic mega-events shoved down our gullets, the idea of the tie-in comic has been make-or-break to the main series. House of M seemed to do it the best, where all the tie-ins were completely unnecessary to the main series, but were mostly well-written and made for a good expansion to what was going on. Annihilation dodged the bullet by having seemingly no real tie-ins at all. Infinite Crisis became a huge mess where you had to know a lot about what was going on in the smaller books to truly get the story. Civil War, as far as I’m concerned, is the worst offender. The main series was competently-written, if a little convoluted, and Millar wrote very fair versions of Captain America and Iron Man. Then you look at all the tie-ins where Captain America is the perfect god of morality and Iron Man is the king of all assholes. The only truly good tie-ins were the two Captain America/Iron Man one-shots.

With Secret Invasion, the issues of New Avengers and Mighty Avengers, whether good or bad, are in a class of their own. After all, Secret Invasion is Bendis’ big cumulative storyline tying together a lot of loose ends from those series. They’re more like extended scenes and extra issues to the miniseries than anything else. Discarding those, I honestly haven’t read too many of the Invasion tie-ins. Yes, Captain Marvel was completely amazing and Hercules is a blast regardless of what story it’s linked to, but I’m not a regular reader of Ms. Marvel and I haven’t picked up Captain Britain yet, so I can’t comment on them.

That brings us to Secret Invasion: Who Do You Trust? This one-shot, based on five different stories, gives us more details on certain characters and their roles in the series. The five writers, Brian Reed, Mike Carey, Christos N. Gage, Zeb Wells and Jeff Parker keep things extremely competent and diverse in topic, while staying true to the series.

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Weekly reviews – 02/14/08

February 14th, 2008 Posted by Hoatzin

I read some comics and I review them here. Just click “Read the rest of this entry” to see them. I know you’re all very excited. Happy Valentines Day!

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Professor Marc’s Homework Assignment: Part Two

September 18th, 2007 Posted by Gavok

It’s time for another six issues of random. Sorry it took so long. One of the issues was an 80 Page Giant and you know how those can be.

The Phantom #3

Year: 1988
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Joe Orlando
Synopsis: The Phantom is the ultimate legacy superhero; a mantle existing throughout the years under different members of a bloodline. To give balance, there is the Chessman bloodline, which has been antagonizing Phantoms for ages. This miniseries focuses on the modern-day battle between Phantom (the 21st one) and Chessman.

There are two parts to the issue. To delve deeper into the legacy picture, we read about the great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather of our main Phantom, Christopher “Kit” Walker. In a story transcribed by the 13th Phantom’s son, the Phantom has been beaten by the Chessman Brothers and is locked up in a pirate ship. Not only that, but one of the brothers stole his badass skull ring. Due to desperation and being totally pissed, the Phantom breaks the chains that bind him, beats up a bunch of pirates, sinks their ship and is saved by some allies. The Chessmans get away.

As a nice touch, this old timey Phantom doesn’t wear a domino mask, but rather has black paint or makeup splotched around his eyes.

He seeks out the Chessman that stole his ring and takes him on in a duel of swords. He steals his ring back, punches Chessman in the face, impales him with a dagger and tosses him out a window. That’s a pretty full day.

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The Top 100 What If Countdown: The Finale

March 28th, 2007 Posted by Gavok

I feel kind of silly making this article since it was supposed to be done months ago. There are several things that kept me from finishing it, but I’m going to take the easy way out. All the time I usually use to write these What If articles was really used to pretend I was writing for Lost. I love writing Sam the Butcher’s dialogue the most.

Starting it off, here’s a series of sig images I made for the Batman’s Shameful Secret sub-forum at Something Awful. I guess they worked.

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