We Care a Lot Part 21: Back in Black to the Future

April 18th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Sorry for the long break there. For the past few months I was more busy writing about Eddie Guerrero and Brock Lesnar than Eddie Brock, so I had to let the whole We Care a Lot thing fall to the waysides. Now, then. Where were we? Ah, yes. I was talking about alternate reality versions of Venom for the sake of completion. Now it’s time to look into the future.

I was originally going to call this installment “Brock to the Future”, but I noticed that no matter what alternate future you look at, Eddie’s days are almost always numbered. Even in the futures where he could still be theoretically alive, he’s not only dead, but they don’t feel the need to explain how he bit the dust. Same goes for Mac Gargan, except for when he appears as Scorpion in Spider-Man: Reign.

I’ll go farther out into the future and inch my way back towards the present. That means starting with All-New Savage She-Hulk, a miniseries by rocking writer Fred Van Lente. The new She-Hulk is Lyra, who has come to Earth from an alternate future, hundreds or thousands of years from now. Her mother is Thundra, a warrior leader in the never-ending war between barbarian men and amazon women. Thundra went back to the present, scraped some DNA off the Hulk’s face during a fight, went back to her time and created Lyra. Lyra is the bane of her people for having a father, despite her great strength. That strength, by the way, comes from a zen mentality. If she gets angry, she becomes increasingly weaker.

So what does she have to do with Venom? In her time, the men are mostly split into tribes that worship the long-dead superheroes. Since her reality seems to be based on Osborn never being dethroned, the tribes are mostly copycats of different Dark Avengers. They have the clawed Howlers, the Goblinkin, the Men of Gold, the War Gods and, of course, the Crawlers.

Not only that, but the Venom symbiote still exists in her time. Man, what kind of life expectancy do these creatures have, anyway? The women warriors have their home protected by a moat with the creature now known as “The Black Bloom” residing. The women are treated with a pheromone that renders them invisible to the symbiote, meaning that when the tribes of Crawlers, Goblinkin and so on chase Lyra, they end up getting devoured by the hungry pool of black.

Later on the story, when Lyra is in the present, she fights the Dark Avengers. She’s amused that Venom wears the Black Bloom and easily disposes of him. After all, her pheromones make her into Venom’s kryptonite.

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Fourcast! 28: Squadron Supreme Power

January 11th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

John provides a brief intro
-Theme music: 6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental
-Gavin gave Esther Mark Gruenwald’s Squadron Supreme for Christmas. She gave him a scathing review in exchange.
-We talk about Squadron Supreme, its place in history, and a few things Esther liked about it.
-David didn’t like Supreme Power much at all, seems like.

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Great Moments in Black History #05: Try It

April 13th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

from marvel’s supreme power: nighthawk. words by daniel way, art by steve dillon.

(when it comes to supreme power, daniel way > jms. his nighthawk is like batman after waking up on the wrong side of the bed.)

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Magnum Opus: Squadron Supreme

August 22nd, 2008 Posted by guest article

by Tobey Cook

What was originally going to be a piece in tribute to the late, great Mark Gruenwald last week quickly ballooned into something much more than what it was intended to be. So with that in mind, I bring you what I hope will be the first in a series I call Magnum Opus. What I’ll do here is spotlight a miniseries or trade that to me has a special place in my collection. This article’s highlighted miniseries will be Squadron Supreme, because it’s easily my personal favorite and has so many things it brought to the table as to changing the way comics had been written up to that point. It’s also the first major maxiseries I remember buying as it was coming out on the stands every month. It featured some decent art from Paul Ryan, John Buscema and one other artist during the 12-issue run.

For my first treatment I decided to choose a book that I think has held up pretty well – Squadron Supreme. Each member of the team was loosely based on a character from DC Comics’ JLA. You had Hyperion as the Squadron’s Superman, Power Princess (Wonder Woman), Nighthawk (Batman), and even a Skrull analogue to Martian Manhunter in the Skrullian Skymaster! While the names of the characters weren’t exactly original, Mark Grunewald decided he wanted to use them to do something that hadn’t been done in comics before – what happens when the heroes decide they can fix the world’s problems?

The basic premise of the maxiseries is that the Squadron, having just recovered from a battle with the alien Overmind, returns to a world that is in ruins. Seeing that the only way to fix the world’s problems is to take matters into their own hands, Hyperion decides that they must find a way to repair the damage that’s been done. Despite the fact that the people mistrust and despise the Squadron, Hyperion comes up with Project Utopia, a way to, as he puts it – “abolish war and crime, eliminate poverty and hunger, establish equality among all people, clean up the environment, and cure disease.”

However, not everyone agrees with Hyperion’s plan. Nighthawk, one of the Squadron’s founding members, resigns in protest believing that the Squadron has no right to force people to bend to the Squadron’s will.

Tensions are further put to the test when the Squadron decides to use a behavior modification machine to ‘rehabilitate’ criminals, even going so far as to use it on some of their former enemies – Quagmire, Foxfire, Shape, Lamprey, and others. This proves to be the most controversial move the Squadron would make, and prompts Nighthawk to join up with the Squadron’s enemy Master Menace in order to find a way to reverse the behavior modification process.

There are so many moral dilemmas in this series – much more than any Marvel series at the time, and it proves the old theory about absolute power corrupting absolutely. A couple more highlights of the series are Squadron member Tom Thumb’s search for a cure for cancer and a brief foray by Nighthawk to the mainstream Marvel Universe to get help from Captain America and The Avengers (not coincidentally written by Mark Gruenwald and illustrated by Paul Ryan, the same art team) to stop the Squadron.

If you’re looking for a book that will give you a good, solid read, look no further. The first printing of it is a bit difficult to find unless you’re an avid EBay fanatic, but it’s been reprinted several times since then as it’s a pretty solid seller for Marvel. What’s so important about the first printing? Mark Gruenwald’s ashes were mixed with the printing ink.

That’s it for this installment of Magnum Opus. If you have any comments or suggestions, or would like to recommend a book for a future column, feel free to drop me a line in the comments below.

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Return of the Knockoffs

July 8th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

I haven’t really seen anyone talk much about the new Squadron Supreme 2 miniseries, so I thought I’d take a crack at it.

To really get into my thoughts on the first issue of the new miniseries, you have to look back at what brought us here in the first place. The original concept of the Squadron Supreme was brought to us by Roy Thomas as part of an Avengers storyline. The team would be the first example of what would eventually become a very hackneyed comic book cliché of one company copying another company’s characters and changing their names to keep things legally clean. Sometimes this works, like the time Plastic Man trained with an invisible monk, a super-strong monk and a fire monk. Most of the time it doesn’t work, like when Superman and Batman had to face the Ultimates/Avengers-based Maximums or when Garth Ennis thinks up yet another Superman knock-off for the sake of making fun.

The Squadron Supreme, of course, was based on the Justice League. It was a cool idea at the time and their alternate universe was instrumental in the Defenders. It was there that they laid down the groundwork for Mark Gruenwald’s opus maxi-series based on the Squadron Supreme universe.

If you haven’t read the original Squadron Supreme series, I’d suggest you do. It’s not the best comic ever, but in light of the last few years in comics, it comes across as an interesting bridge between the older days of superhero morality and the more sensitive times of now. It mainly dealt with the team taking over the government and giving themselves a year to fix up the damage they had caused during a mind-control episode. The big deal of their plan to change the world is that they used a special machine to alter the minds of their villains to make them good. The moral dilemmas weren’t lost on the story, as some heroes left due to disagreeing with the situation and one member of the team got kicked off for using the same machine on another teammate to make her love him. In the end, it became a Civil War situation with Hyperion’s side up against Nighthawk’s side.

The Squadron Supreme world could never successfully follow up on that series. There were stories here and there, including an arc in Exiles, but nothing special ever truly happened with it.

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Checking in with Some Random Musings

July 31st, 2007 Posted by Gavok

Good God. I’ve reached the point where I use the term “musings” on the internet. Shoot me.

I’ve been taking a break lately, due to several things holding me up and taking my time, like a crappy work schedule, Guitar Hero Rocks the 80’s and a bunch of crap you don’t care about.

In the meantime, a couple quick thoughts.

– I made like 15 new 4th Letter headers and then hermanos had to go and redesign the site. Fuck him! Though I have to admit, the new look is growing on me. I like the little “4th ____” gags in some of those headers. Took me a second to get why Ares is labeled “4th Planet”.

– If you didn’t know by now, Greg Pak is going to be doing a What If issue with a trilogy of stories based on Planet Hulk. One has Hulk land on the peaceful planet as the Illuminati planned. One has Bruce Banner land on Sakaar instead. The last, and most interesting one, is about Hulk dying in the warp drive explosion and his queen surviving to seek vengeance on Earth. This comic sounds awesome.

– Norman Osborn is the glue holding Thunderbolts together and making it readable.

– I just bought a ton of trades last week. Ant Man: Low-Life, because even though hermanos dislikes it, I give Kirkman the benefit of the doubt. Hyperion vs. Nighthawk, as it’s the only Squadron Supreme story I haven’t read other than that nine issues of hurt called Ultimate Power. Cassanova, because hermanos loves it so much and I dig that Matt Fraction. The Hood, because it’s BKV and I could go for a nice Marvel MAX title that doesn’t star Frank Castle or his oversized, black nemesis. Seven Brothers, because I’m in the mood to read something by Ennis that isn’t “heheh superheroes is fags”. And I bought Goon: Noir and 52 Volume 2 because… uh… well, there wasn’t really any thought process in those decisions. One is the Goon and the other is 52. That’s reason enough.

– CHIKARA show this Sunday in Philly at the ECW Arena. Come and join the fun.

– The cover image to Ultimates Volume 3 fills me with a strong sense of dread. Not only is this going to be an awful comic, but it’s going to be like a shotgun blast to the Ultimate universe. If this comic is as bad as I fear it to be, then the Ultimate line of comics will be at death’s door in probably two or three years. That’s such a damn shame.

– On the other side of the coin, the Marvel Adventures line is pretty fantastic right now. While the first issue of MA: Hulk wasn’t special, I absolutely loved MA: Iron Man’s initial issue. That’s the best reimagining of his origin outside of canon I can recall. Pick up Giant Size Marvel Adventures: Avengers if you’ve ever wanted to see a gorilla suckerpunch Wolverine in the back of the head through a closing time portal.

– Not comic related at all, but in the last couple weeks, I’ve dropped 15 pounds. Hells yeah!

Next time I’ll have actual content. I promise.

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Real Talk: Supreme Power’s Nighthawk

February 17th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

Let me tell you a story.

This had to have been back when I was in the fifth grade, in Mrs Washington’s class. There’s this program called DARE, Drug Abuse Resistance Education. Basically, they explain to you that you should narc on your friends if you catch them with drugs and that if you try weed just one time you’ll immediately find yourself toothless, hooked on crack, in prison, insane, and stupid.

From Wikipedia:

The U.S. Department of Education concluded in 2003 that the DARE program is ineffective and now prohibits its funds from being used to support it.[5] The U.S. Surgeon General’s office, the National Academy of Sciences,[5] and the Government Accounting Office also concluded that the program is sometimes counterproductive in some populations, with those who graduate from DARE later having higher rates of drug use. Studies by Dr. Dennis Rosenbaum [6], and by the California Legislative Analyst’s office [7] found that DARE graduates were more likely than others to drink alcohol, smoke tobacco and use illegal drugs.

Sorry, the mean-spiritedness is just deafening sometimes. I’ll do better, I promise.

Anyway, our DARE officer was a cop we called Officer Wood. At some point during the class, I ended up asking him a question about the Black Panthers. I wasn’t quite as “conscious” back then as I am now, but I knew a little bit about a little something. I even used to have one of those leather Africa medallions. I know that some of you folks know what I’m talking about. I was curious as to what Wood would say.

“The Black Panthers were worse than the Klan,” he told me.

That’s stuck with me in the years since then. He’s practically taken on bogeyman status in my head. I realized that if you don’t know what you’re talking about, you should keep your mouth shut. Arguing from a position of ignorance makes you an idiot, and no one likes idiots. If you want to speak, you’d better know first.

Other than that, though, I realized how perception informs things. I doubt that Officer Wood knew what he was saying. The Panthers, like Malcolm X, have been villainized in the years since they were active. They weren’t about killing white people, or even hating them. They were “The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense” and were an anti-police brutality group. They weren’t angels, granted, but they weren’t the frigging Klan, either. To Officer Wood, though, they were.

This brings me to Nighthawk, from J Michael Stracyzinski’s Supreme Power. Supreme Power sometimes feels like kind of a retread of JMS’s other series, Rising Stars, at times, but it remains one of his better works.

Nighthawk, though. Hm. Problematic.
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