The New Avengers Cartoon Makes Me Go XD

October 20th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

I feel that in the never-ending war between Marvel and DC, DC has always trumped Marvel in the animation department. Pound for pound, DC has always been better when it comes to getting their shit together. Even Superfriends past the Wendy and Marvin season was watchable in a goofy sense while I can never enjoy the panel-based cartoons with zero animation that Marvel released back in the 60’s. The only DC cartoon I can ever remember as being outright awful was that Superman one from the 80’s that insisted on giving us a segment about Clark growing up and getting into wacky situations for his mother to deal with. As a child, all I could think was, “Why are they showing me this? I want to see Superman doing super things and fighting Lex Luthor!”

Maybe he was so competent that he’d save the day a little too early and they had to use that as backup filler.

Marvel’s had a lot of missteps. Australian Wolverine goes without saying. The first seasons of Iron Man and Fantastic Four in the 90’s were hard to watch, which was a shame, since the second seasons were way better. The latter went from having Thing deal with a nagging landlady to having Ghost Rider (with his sexy, sexy voice) show up unannounced in order to punk out Galactus.

They had Avengers: United They Stand, which failed on several levels. Spider-Man really wasn’t all that great once you take off the rose-colored glasses and don’t get me started on Spider-Man Unlimited. X-Men and Silver Surfer weren’t bad, but they were nothing compared to what DC was churning out with their Batman and Superman cartoons.

Marvel has been starting to get things moving with their animated movies, like with Planet Hulk and Hulk vs. Wolverine, but the many, many missteps before that can’t be discounted (I will never forgive Invincible Iron Man). Even then, DC’s been cranking out the quality on that end.

I’ve heard great things about Spectacular Spider-Man and Wolverine and the X-Men, but I haven’t gotten around to watching them. I think part of it comes from lack of interest in retreading old ground. It was the same when it came with The Batman. I’m sure there’s quality in there, but I’m not up for retracing old steps. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I’ve seen that story where Ben Grimm becomes human but has to become the Thing again because damn it, the team needs him. I’ve seen that story where a new girl joins the X-Men and meets the established team as a way to get us acquainted. I need something new. Based on something old, sure, but something new for this medium. At least Batman: The Brave and the Bold was in such a different direction that it came off as a breath of fresh air.

Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes starts tonight on Disney XD and I’ve already gotten to see the pilot at New York Comic Con. I’ve also sat through the 20 micro-episodes, which are each 5-6 minutes a piece, making it longer than any of Marvel’s animated films yet. I can tell you right now that this cartoon is exactly what Marvel’s been needing for a while. This is their Justice League Unlimited.

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Don’t Mind Me. Just Being Topical.

September 13th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

Thor is always saying shit out of line. Like when he accused Iron Man of not caring about black people other than Rhodey as he hammered him into the distance. I bet he likes having Namor’s fish stick in his mouth.

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Friday Flashbacks 02: Ghosts and Rivals

June 19th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

I guess I should put down some set-up first. This is from Avengers/JLA #4, written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by George Perez. It came out a little bit before Marvel and DC made some of their bigger modern changes. The team rosters were still more classic than in recent years, still before the days of Disassembled and Crisis of Conscience. Hal Jordan was still the Spectre.

I won’t go too deep into the story, but it involves Krona making a bet with the Grandmaster that puts the two super-teams on opposing sides. Not that that needs too much extra effort, though, as Captain America and Superman seem to have it in for each other. Superman sees mutant hatred, Dr. Doom, the Hulk and the Punisher running wild and considers the Avengers a bunch of failures. Captain America sees how the people in the DC world worship the Justice League to the point of museums and monuments and considers them little better than world conquerors. This leads into more than one throwdown, including a fight where Superman beats up Thor.

Fast-forward a bit. To save reality from Krona, the Grandmaster has been pushing the two worlds closer together. Reality rewrites itself again and again. The Avengers and Justice League go from being from two distant alternate realities to neighboring realities. Then they go from two teams that visit each other’s worlds on a regular basis to two teams that co-exist in the same world. Few are able to see through the lies.

Finally, the two teams find the Grandmaster, who wants the heroes to go stop Krona from destroying both their worlds. Due to reality being rewritten over and over, the teams are both down to their more base, classic rosters and identities and want to know exactly what they’re fighting for. Using the last of his powers, Grandmaster shows them a series of screens that broadcasts their histories. Despite all their victories, it focuses mainly on these heroes watching the losses that are meant to be. Tony Stark’s alcoholism, Aquaman’s loss of hand, Bane breaking Batman’s back, Doomsday killing Superman, Captain America losing his abilities and failing in his attempt to rely on armor tech, Odin’s death, Jason Todd’s death, and so on. The more important ones here are that Barry Allen sees that he’s going to die, Scarlet Witch and Vision see that their children will be creations from Wanda’s own madness, Giant Man sees the smack that he will never live down and Hal Jordan sees his descent into becoming Parallax.

And yet, in the end, the two sides decide that it is not up to them to judge the realities they are saving. They band together and plot against Krona. Superman suggests Captain America lead them, which he agrees to.

I swear, when I was intending to write this article, I thought these pages were more than two. Three, maybe four. They’re just so dense with dialogue that it’s bursting at the seams. That’s George Perez for you, I guess.

All five of those different conversations are aces, especially when you notice the segues. Notice how each conversation ends with another character in the shot. It took me forever to see Captain America in the background window. What I really loved about this scene is the stuff with Hal and Barry.

How messed up it has to be for these two. Barry knows that win or lose, he’s going to be dead within hours. It’s depressing, but not nearly as bad as what Hal has to be going through. Barry goes out honorably. Hal knows that not only is he going to die, but first he’s going to go crazy and take out a bunch of his friends before becoming the Darth Vader of the DC Universe. And he’s fighting to preserve that! It’s fucked.

Maybe it’s just me, but you can read the weight of it in Hal’s oath. The way he seems so less enthused compared to all the other times. Is it defeat? Sadness? Intent to do his best one last time? Shame? Bitterness? Is it that he realizes that the very oath he’s reciting has been proven to be nothing more than a lie?

But there they are, Hal and Barry, supporting each other. Just by the mutual reassurance, the two doomed friends are all but removed of that weight. It’s a nice, bittersweet scene, but sadly loses something thanks to their later resurrections.

I think I decided about including these pages for this installment because of all of that going on these days. Personally, I feel totally fine with Hal coming back (Green Lantern is more of a job position than identity, allowing Kyle to thrive on his own, though admittedly to a lesser extent). I can’t bring myself to care about Barry Allen’s return, outside of a couple choice moments in Final Crisis. Unless Steve Rogers stays away from the Captain America mantle and becomes the new leader of SHIELD/HAMMER for an extended period of time, I feel like his death could have lasted another three years. And Bart Allen… shit, I don’t know. That poor guy got messed up so much since Geoff Johns got his hands on him that I can’t say what’s best for him at this point.

Bottom line: I guess I feel like in scenes like this, the finality of one fictional character’s death strengthens the quality of life. But that’s me.

Back to the Avengers/JLA comic, there was one panel I’ve always loved for a stupid reason.

Look at Captain America. That’s the moment I realized that Steve Rogers has balls made of vibranium. He goes on to threaten Superman with such confidence that even now, my brain is trying to come up with ways for that outcome to be a possibility. I’ll get back to you on that. Cool as that is, that’s not why I bring it up.

I don’t know if this was a subtle way to intentionally foreshadow Avengers: Disassembled, but let’s see what happens when we remove the guys on the right.

Hey, now!

By the way, I still miss Hal’s kickass white hair tufts.

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Ultimatum Edit Week 3: Day Three

March 23rd, 2009 Posted by Gavok

Back for round three.

Yesterday we had Magneto strangle Mystique and then throw a rogue Madrox dupe out the window, where he promptly exploded. I hope they weren’t really in space or else he’d have just doomed them all. What an anti-climax that would be. Even still, by tossing Madrox out the window, Magneto’s letting all the heat out.

Now it’s time for some Yellowjacket and Hawkeye action. It’s best to remember exactly what gruesome sight they’re following up on.

ManiacClown wanted me to fit in a Bad Taste reference in regards to the first page, but only after the fact did he realize he meant Dead Alive. That scamp.

Isn’t it kind of convenient that Pym keeps his special technology to save Janet’s life in the Triskelion rather than the now-destroyed building where his lab was and he was under house arrest in?

Tomorrow we get more X-Men drama. Whee.

Day Four!
Day Five!
Day Six!
Day Seven!

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Ultimatum Edit Week 2: Day Six

January 1st, 2009 Posted by Gavok

Yesterday’s installment was all about Thor going into the afterlife to go save Valkyrie. I don’t even know what she’s doing in Valhalla in the first place. She died by drowning. You don’t get into Valhalla for weak garbage like that.

No matter. We continue Thor’s quest and move onto that scene. God help us.

ManiacClown is entirely to blame for the second page. I’ve seen Rocky Horror Picture Show maybe once in my life and that was years ago. That was enough.

Tomorrow we finish the week off with a confrontation between Xavier and Magneto. Surely, it will fail to capture the greatness of their battle from the second Japanese X-Men cartoon intro, where they fight by blasting Xavier’s mind rays against Magneto’s magnetic rays.

Day Seven!

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Ultimatum Edit Week 2: Day One

December 27th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

And we’re back. Ultimatum #2 came out this week in a one-two punch of grief alongside its brother in arms Hulk #9. Both very bad. Really, you’re better off reading the new Batman because it’s freaking awesome. I know most of you were disappointed in RIP, but it’s a cool follow-up. For reals.

In the first week of Ultimatum Edit, several characters (and countless civilians that we don’t hear much about) are killed as New York City is covered in a big tidal wave. Then Latveria is frozen. Xavier creates a mental chatroom and tells everyone that Magneto’s behind everything.

So far this has nothing to do with the word “ultimatum” other than it’s based on “ultimate” and sounds cool. As far as I know, Magneto isn’t negotiating anything.

Just to point out to those who haven’t read this issue, this is the entirety of Spider-Man and Hulk’s appearance for the comic. So to review, Spider-Man’s actions in Ultimatum #2 are as follows:

1) Have trouble lifting a car.
2) Have Hulk lift car.

Thanks to ManiacClown, who vehemently disagreed with my shilling on the splash page.

Tomorrow, jokes about Iron Man being drunk. Those never get old!

Day Two!
Day Three!
Day Four!
Day Five!
Day Six!
Day Seven!

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Ultimatum Edit Week 1: Day One

November 7th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

If we are here not to do
What you and I wanna do
And go forever crazy with it
Why the hell are we even here?

There was never any good old days
They are today, they are tomorrow
It’s a stupid thing we say
Cursing tomorrow with sorrow

When we stand here in a row
Looking like a bunch of heroes
I know that-ah deep inside
Nothing more but bunch of zeros

— “Ultimate” by Gogol Bordello

We couldn’t stay away.

After the job that ManiacClown and I did with Jeph Loeb and Joe Mad’s Ultimates 3, we decided that we would give the follow-up event Ultimatum a shot. When I say we’d give it a shot, I don’t mean that we were sure we were going to target it from the very beginning. More that we were going to give it a shot of being passable and leaving it alone.

As it got closer to the release, we knew that although it was nice to be generous, it was going to be all for naught. Between the Ultimate Captain America Annual that showed Ultimate Black Panther’s origin and the laughable X-Men/Fantastic Four crossover written by Loeb’s Heroes buddies, we could tell that the writing was on the wall. Loeb was referring to Ultimatum as the story that would destroy the Ultimate universe and sadly, he’s already been doing that. Ultimate Spider-Man remains the only thing worth reading.

The Loeb backlash has already started somewhat. He’s been axed from Heroes. From what I understand, those burned by the first six issues of Hulk have left in droves. Don’t they realize that Hulk, who has become Joe Fixit again for no reason, is fighting Sentry, Moon Knight and Ms. Marvel because they’re sort of Marvel’s version of the DC Trinity? That’s compelling stuff! I’m not even sure how well Ultimatum will do in the long run, since it’s not really latching onto Millar’s Ultimates run’s success like Loeb’s last foray. And, you know, there are far better comic events going on with Secret Invasion and Final Crisis. Then again, now that he’s off Heroes he has more time to write comics. Stupid double-edge sword.

Enough rambling. Let’s get down to business.

Join us tomorrow for more exposition!

Day Two!
Day Three!
Day Four!
Day Five!
Day Six!
Day Seven!

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Ultimate Edit Week 5: Day Seven

October 3rd, 2008 Posted by Gavok

Well, here it is! The last day.

In the penultimate installment, Quicksilver sacrificed himself for his father by taking an arrow to the chest. The irony is that he would have been able to run in there in time to catch the arrow with his hands if he didn’t have that limp from being shot in the knees by Magneto back in Ultimate War! Good going, Master of Magnetism.

Here’s the rest.

And that does it. My eternal thanks to ManiacClown for writing this with me from issue #1. Thanks to hermanos for the site to showcase this and his never ending support. Thanks to the MightyGodKing himself, Christopher Bird, for his guidance. Thanks to Jeph Loeb, the Joel Schumacher of comics, for giving us such an easy target.

And especially thanks to all of you readers out there who enjoyed it. Even those of you who didn’t enjoy it. You gave it a shot anyway, so I can’t argue.

Now, will there be some kind of Ultimatum Edit in the near future? Hm… we’ll see.

BUT! I can do you one better. I’m sure many of you have heard of Rifftrax, the website second coming of Mystery Science Theater 3000, headed by Mike Nelson and the rest. Some of you may have heard of iRiffs, the new feature on the site. Now any moron with a microphone and time on his hands can put together his own Rifftrax selections for the public to purchase and enjoy.

I am one of these morons.

That’s right. Me, Nick “ManiacClown” Zachariasen and my old friend James Howard will be making fun of things video/audio-style. Here we’re just starting off with Japoteurs, a somewhat racist Superman cartoon from the 40’s. But we have a lot more in the works, so stay tuned once the iRiffs section is up and running.

Tomorrow or so, I’ll probably have some kind of annotations thing for Ultimate Edit up. So if you’re into that kind of stuff, check it out.

Again, thanks for reading, folks. It’s been a blast.

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Ultimate Edit Week 5: Day Six

October 2nd, 2008 Posted by Gavok

Home stretch time.

In the last installment, Ant Man said something really unbearably stupid. Let’s move on as the Ultimates confront Magneto, not with actions, but with words.

So, yeah, if you were wondering where I was going with that inner dialogue about Iron Man’s spine, there you go.

Thanks to writing partner ManiacClown for coming up with too much usable dialogue so that I had to make the text all scrunched up and awkward looking to fit in some word bubbles. Thanks a lot, jerk!

Tomorrow is the big conclusion. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Day Seven!

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Ultimate Edit Week 5: Day Five

October 1st, 2008 Posted by Gavok

If you didn’t miss out on yesterday’s happenings, you probably remember Valkyrie defeating her mutant captors and Yellowjacketron’s army making a fool out of Magneto. Luckily for Magneto, the cavalry has arrived in the form of the Ultimates! Hurray for two-page splash pages!

By the way, if you’re wondering just what was really said in that scene, I’d be more than happy to explain it.

“Don’t you know how close we are to being you? I’d rather not kill you, Jan. My experimentation on your DNA has only begun. Besides… you’re almost like a mother to me.”

“Then I guess that makes me… THE MOTHERFUCKER!”

Jeph Loeb, everybody. Let’s give him a hand.

On another note, people are all excited about the new Thor movie and the announcement of Kenneth Branagh as the director. Personally, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Not that he’s the director, mind you, but that they’re making a Thor movie. We already did have a Thor movie! Don’t you remember?

Thanks again to my editing associate ManiacClown. We’ll be back tomorrow and a very special installment the day after that.

Day Six!

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