Tag Archives: Avengers

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Thoughts

I just got home from seeing Captain America 2! It definitely holds up to the standard of the best Marvel sequels – Iron Man 3 and Thor 2. I was a little skeptical going in, so I’m happy to be proven wrong. I’m going to give my thoughts point by point. (more…)

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Enough With The Wonder Woman Grumbling

When the Guardians of the Galaxy movie was announced, most people there seemed to be an equal mix of excitement and indifference. Those who had heard of the somewhat characters before were stoked that this eclectic group would get the big-screen Avengers treatment. Those who hadn’t heard of them uttered a dismissive “who?” But, somewhere between those two extremes, was another group that could muster only disdain. They were disappointed, not unjustly, that a movie starring a space faring, gun-toting, easily agitated racoon would be made before one starring Wonder Woman.

Like I said, I don’t disagree. But, it’s not like DC hasn’t tried. Joel Silver (producer of the Matrix trilogy, Die Hard, and Lethal Weapon) spent years trying to get a movie off the ground. He hired Joss Whedon to work on a script, and even purchased a World War 2 set story from another writer. None of it took off.

Conspiracy theories on this topic abound. One of the most commonly cited “facts” is that Hollywood producers don’t believe female action heroes lead to blockbusters. And while I’m sure there are some people out there who might think that, I don’t think it’s prevalent enough that it would stop them from making the movie. While Silver had the rights (the fact that tried to get this movie made alone should dispel this theory) there were two Tomb Raider movies, a slew of Resident Evil and Underworld flicks, Kill Bill(s), Catwoman, Aeon Flux, Ultraviolet, Elektra, etc., etc. Clearly, Hollywood has an appetite for making action movies with female leads.

The real problem, I think, is that DC hasn’t been in control of its filmmaking destiny until recently. They’ve been owned by Time-Warner for many years, but that company tended to keep it’s comic division and movie division pretty separate. Marvel, on the other hand, has been able to be intimately involved in their most successful franchise. DC has consistently brought in outsiders to write and direct their movies, Marvel has kept their creative people in the loop on all of their productions. I mean, who better than the people who have guided the characters in their native format for years to help bring them to the big screen? If DC asked Greg Rucka, Gail Simone, Brian Azzarello and Phil Jimenez to brainstorm Wonder Woman movie ideas I don’t think you’d get just one great movie idea – you’d get an entire franchise.

Last week, Warner Bros. made a surprise announcement. Not only did they reveal that Wonder Woman will be in the Superman Vs. Batman movie, they also revealed who would be playing her – Gal Gadot from the Fast and the Furious movies. While there was the typical Internet backlash as there always seems to be when someone is cast as a famous character (see Daniel Craig as James Bond, Heath Ledger as The Joker, and most recently Ben Affleck as Batfleck) there was another group that was ticked off for a much stupider reason. The very first tweet that I read about this casting announcement was from someone who was complaining that Wonder Woman’s first big screen appearance won’t be in her own movie. There’s just no pleasing some people!

First, they’re unhappy that Wonder Woman hasn’t appeared in a movie, now they’re unhappy that she isn’t the star of the movie, next I’m sure they’ll be complaining that she doesn’t immediately kill Batman and Superman and take over the world. Wonder Woman, as I’ve discussed before, is a really hard character to nail down. Everyone knows what makes a great Batman movie – he’s a dark knight. Superman is a big, blue boyscout. Wonder Woman is… well… Wonder Woman. She’s gone through more character changes than any other superhero that I can think of. Within a few years, she went from an ambassador, to the Goddess of Truth, to a secret agent. With that in mind, I think it makes a lot of sense that DC film people want to test the waters with their version of the character before they throw a ton of money at a feature-length Wonder Woman story.

Graham Becksted is eagerly waiting for Gadot. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles, the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 94th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.

 

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Fan Expo 2013 Purchases

I have one final post for Fan Expo 2013 and it’s my traditional “what I ended up buying” piece. This year, I didn’t go quite as hog wild as I have in the past. Perhaps it was ‘cause I was wrapped up in the Stan Lee of it all, or maybe I’m just running out of stuff to buy. Or, maybe the deals just aren’t as good. My understanding from speaking with some dealers is that it is prohibitively expensive to get a table there. Because of that, it doesn’t make much sense to sell stuff at huge discounts.

Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. On to the fun stuff:

Best Deal Of The Con:

Star Wars Return Of The Jedi Infinities

Star Wars Return Of The Jedi Infinities

Years ago (specifically 2002-2004), Dark Horse released some Star Wars mini-series that were essentially What Ifs? They called them Infinities and they were stories like, ‘What if the first Death Star hadn’t been destroyed?’ I always thought it was a cool concept, but I’ve never really hunted for the series. Sunday afternoon, I happened past a table that was selling a bunch of Star Wars trades in so-so condition for two bucks each. Amongst them were the A New Hope and Return of the Jedi Infinities. For four bucks, how could I say no? Now I just need to find the Empire Strikes Back one – without paying an arm and a leg for it.

Catch Up Time:

Generation Hope

Generation Hope

I love comic books. But, for a while, I was pretty much just an X-Men fan. I’d read just about anything that I could get my hands on, but I cherished anything with an X on the cover. Wolverine helped, but was not strictly necessary. After years of that, I branched out to Vertigo, Avengers, some Justice League – basically anything good. Sometime after Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men run, the X-Books stopped counting as good for me. In the last year or so, though, Brian Michael Bendis took hold of the franchise and has elevated it again. However, now I feel like I’m missing some pieces.

Something else that I missed in that time was Kieron Gillen. I discovered him thanks to Young Avengers, which, I may have mentioned before, is fantastic. Just before Bendis’ run started, Gillen took the Uncanny title for a spin and I figured I’d give it a shot. He also did a series about the first new mutants in about ten years (refresher – “House of M”, Scarlet Witch wipes out most mutants by saying, “No More Mutants,” mutants stop being born, except for a girl named Hope who Cable raises in the future, *deep breath*) called Generation Hope.

Continuing Adventures:

Unwritten

Unwritten

I’ve been reading Unwritten for a few years now, but I’ve fallen behind. The upside of that is that I now have two trades worth of stories to read! The downside is, I don’t really remember all the pertinent details I probably should. This will either solidify my love for this series, or kill it.

Miscellaneous:

I also picked up the first of Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye run. It’s received nothing but praise, so I’m keen to check it out. I also got a few more Archie Comics Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for my collection. I now have a straight run from 1-36, and about 14 other random issues from the rest of the run. I think I need around 20 more to complete the set. The Mrs. and I also got a new addition to our Wonder Woman sketch collection. This time, it was from Yanick Paquette who will be doing a Wonder Woman graphic novel with Grant Morrison soon.

So, all in all, not a bad haul. That being said, I was looking for quite a bit more and it either wasn’t there or it was too expensive. Oh well – there’s always Boxing Day.

Graham Becksted has an addiction. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles, the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 88th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.

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Graham Reviews Some Comics

I had some time off this weekend so I managed to catch up on some of my seriously neglected comic book reading. I figured I might as well spend some time getting back to grumbling about comics which is what this blog was initially focused on. First, let me apologize for the tardiness of some of these “reviews.” A lot of these comics came out awhile ago and I waited for trades, and then sales, and then I had to work through the pile. So, let’s get into it.

Avengers: Children’s Crusade

Avengers: Children’s Crusade

This mini-series started in 2010 and took awhile to finish – the final issue came out in March 2012. This series is steeped in Marvel mythology, so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to newbies. Here’s the premise – Two members of the Young Avengers (Wiccan and Speed) think they are the reincarnations of The Scarlet Witch’s magic babies. Ever since the House of M storyline their “mom” has been off the grid, so the team decides to try and find her. They find her in Doctor Doom’s home country preparing to become his bride. The Avengers and The X-Men get involved and fisticuffs ensue. There are some deaths, and some resurrections.

If that sounds like your cup of tea, have at it. I found it a little relentless, and kind of boring. I think it got away from the humanity that makes these characters interesting and ended up too wrapped up in time travel and magic. When a story can be resolved by the snap of a finger it starts to lose me. Unless it’s fun, like Doctor Who or Star Wars. This story, unfortunately, wears Marvel continuity like cement shoes and can’t quite survive it. On the plus side, Jim Cheung’s art is gorgeous. It’s a nice blend of amazing superhero style with a slight sprinkling of manga influence.

Spider-Island: Cloak and Dagger

Cloak and Dagger

Cloak and Dagger have never interested me much as characters. They’re generally a little too melodramatic for me, and they tend to be pretty separate from the rest of the Marvel Universe.  They started out as runaway teenagers who get their powers when evil drug dealers test their new drug on them. It’s a little too “after school special”.

I downloaded the first issue of this three issue mini-series because it was free on the Marvel app. Written by Nick Spencer and drawn by Emma Rios, I was totally charmed by this story. I’ve still only read the first one, but I plan on buying the rest of it. It’s part of a crossover during which everyone in New York gets Spider-Man powers, and the young duo are thrust into the chaos. The thing that really charmed me in it is the dueling voice over captions. They have such distinct, real personalities. I would probably read an ongoing series of this.

Daredevil

Daredevil

Ever since Frank Miller’s particularly dark take on the Man Without Fear, it seems there has been a competition between writers to see who can pile the most crap on the character. He’s been imprisoned, beaten, had his secret identity outed at least twice, and seen at least three girlfriends killed by his enemies. So, it was a bit of a surprise when I heard that this latest storyline by Mark Waid, Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin brings some of the fun swashbuckling back to the title.

I’m not going to mince words, I was blown away by this trade. The writing is really good, but the art completely steals the show. Daredevil is blind, and this story was the first that I’ve read that really gave you a sense of how he sees the world. Sound effects take on so much meaning, and certain things in panels get magnified or highlighted to show what he perceives of them. It’s really well done and I recommend it to absolutely everyone – especially if you’re into Daredevil or want to see some truly thought provoking comic book art.

Graham Becksted’s allergies are already acting up, so he apologizes for all the sneezing. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles, the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 78th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.

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The Makings Of A Team!

Marvel NOW! is the latest flashpoint for Marvel fans.  Everything’s changing and it’s the perfect time to jump on (or off) of various books.  Almost all of the main titles are getting new creative teams.  And, as has been the time honoured tradition of new creative blood, the super hero teams are getting new rosters.  This is always a very exciting time for fan boys and girls alike.  Who will the new members be?  Will my favorite be one of them?  How many teams can Wolverine BE on?

The Avengers books have always been particularly good at exploiting these moments.  The covers usually announce that THIS is the issue where the new team is picked.  There’s usually a smattering of cards, or faces, and a big question like, “WHO WILL BE THE AVENGERS?”

The team usually stays fairly consistent for a few years. Sure, some people may come and go, but there’s usually a fairly stable core.  For example, I only really started reading Avengers during Brian Michael Bendis’ run so, for me, the core team is Captain America, Iron Man, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, and eventually Thor.  But, for more old school readers, it’s not the Avengers if it doesn’t have The Vision, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, Hawkeye and Beast.

At this point, it seems like the number of characters who have been Avengers is growing so large that every Marvel hero from Captain America to Squirrel Girl will have been an Avenger. I mean, I think the announced roster for Hickman’s run is a little big – 24 members!  That’s more characters than pages in an average single issue.  But, I trust in Mr. Hickman’s abilities.  And, frankly, the Avengers should be a huge book where huge things happen.

Prior to my Avengers interest, the X-Men were my team of choice. When I was a kid, we would spend recesses arguing over which characters were cooler, and building our dream rosters.  That’s the thing with the X-Men – I think if you took a group of 10 people and sat them down with a list of the all the mutants in the Marvel Universe to choose from and forced them to pick an X-Team with ten characters on it, you’d get ten completely different teams.

To give you an example, here are three teams put together in the last decade or so.  Bendis will be taking over the main X-Men book shortly, and he’s taking the team back to the original five (Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Iceman, and Beast).  When Joss Whedon did his run the team was made up of Wolverine, Beast, Cyclops, The White Queen, Armor, Colossus, and Shadowcat.  Joe Casey’s Uncanny X-Men run consisted of Angel, Iceman, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Chamber.

(I think next week I’ll try to cobble together my ideal X-Men team.)

Anyway, Marvel doesn’t have a monopoly on this by any stretch of the imagination.  The first time I had read any JLA stuff had been during the Death Of Superman when the team consisted of Ice, Fire, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Guy Gardiner, Bloodwynd, and Maxima.  (Just to show how many times I’ve read that collection, I actually pulled that list straight from memory.) When Grant Morrison took over, the team reverted to the classic roster of Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Martian Manhunter, Flash, Green Lantern, and Aquaman. And while that is an infinitely cooler team, I still look back kind of fondly on the days when the team was made up of second stringers.

As much as we’d like to think that the creative teams are the reason most people buy or stick with a book, I think the characters on the team play as big, if not a bigger, role.  So, if any of you get the singular honor of writing one of these team books some day in the future, make sure you take great care in picking the roster.  You could end up defining a generation’s idea of who that team is.

Graham Becksted is the only member of The Secret Graham Coast Avengers.  He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles.  If you would like to be his 69th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.

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Prepare To Be Prometheused!

In this week’s column, I’m going to do something that few men have ever attempted.  I’m going to follow in the footsteps of The Glenn (http://uberfriendship.com/wednesdaysglennsdays/3200).  I want to discuss Prometheus, the recent Ridley Scott Alien prequel.

I didn’t think that any movie would be able to match the pre-release internet buzz of The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers, but Prometheus damn near did it.  It had a cool cast, a legendary director, and a campaign that only hinted at the ties to Alien.  They also had some of the best viral promotional videos I’ve ever seen.  (Particularly the one advertising the David Android http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaJD8cGfZCQ.)  Everything about it was definitely intriguing, but there was always the fear that it would be a by-the-numbers sci-fi action film like Danny Boyle’s Sunshine.

When I went to see it, though, I was pleasantly surprised.  Sure, it had some flaws.  Why did were the biologist and geologist so unabashedly stupid?  Why did the two people running from the giant object rolling at them in a straight line never try to dodge?  What’s the deal with the casting of Patrick Wilson and Guy Pearce?  But, the one thing it did very well was to leave a lot of plot questions unanswered.

Some people have seen this as a flaw, but I think it’s what saved the movie from being a total mess.  Stuff like, why does the black goo affect different people differently? Why do the ‘Engineers’ do all the stuff they do?  Why is David such a dick?  Is David a dick?  I’ve seen the movie twice now with different people each time.  Afterwards, we discussed what happened for at least an hour.  When I run into people who have seen it, we have our own little discussions about what this and that meant.  So, whether the movie is good or not, I like it purely on the level that it gives the audience something to talk about.

Take The Avengers, for example.  Don’t get me wrong – I love me some Avengers.  It’s a great movie and I will watch it again and again.  But, I did not leave the theatre arguing about what Loki’s motivations were.  Or, if Iron Man is really as smart as he seems.  No, all said was, “I loved it when Thor and Hulk fought,” or “Wasn’t that Galaga joke funny?”  And the discussion ended there.

Even The Dark Knight, probably the most intelligent super-hero movie ever made, doesn’t provoke a heck of a lot of discussion.  Sure, there are some interesting questions about privacy and terrorism, but they are mostly subtextual.  The movie wraps up pretty neatly, and the biggest question you’re left with is, “How long is The Joker’s prison sentence going to be?”

The thing is, if Prometheus had spelled everything out to the audience I think it could have only lead to more disappointment.  Instead of websites overflowing with theories on what this or that means, you’d just have a lot of gripping about how simplistic everything is.  This way, everyone makes up their own answers and if they don’t like them they have only themselves to blame.

And so ends another Graham’s Grumbles.  I’m sorry if this one was a little light on details, but I was trying to avoid spoilers ‘cause I know some people who are going to read this without having seen the movie first.  To them I say, “Go see it!  We can grab a beer afterwards and try and figure this shit out!”

Graham Becksted’s biggest question is about Elizabeth Shaw’s nationality. Is she supposed to be British or what? He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles.  If you would like to be his 67th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.

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Solo Hero or a Team?

My original idea for this week’s column was to write about the 50th anniversary of the first appearance of Spider-Man.  But, I guess I’ll save any talk of that for the inevitable Amazing Spider-Man movie column that I’ll write around its July 3rd release date.  But, in thinking about that I thought about a friend of mine.  For the purposes of this public record, let’s call him, oh I don’t know, “Eric”.  This gentleman loves comic books, but he loves Spider-Man in particular.

For his birthday one year, I tried to get him something I thought he would enjoy but was certain he didn’t have.  I figured a collection of Ultimate Marvel Team-Up would be a safe bet since it features Spider-Man getting paired with various other superheroes.  When I gave him the gift, while he was thankful, he wasn’t exactly thrilled.  Eric, you see, didn’t actually like team books.  He wants his superheroes solo or sidekicked, but not ensconced with a bunch of other solo heroes.  I found this odd, as I pretty much exclusively get team books.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’ve got my fair share of solo books.  Some Hulks, some Superman, some Batmans, some Wolverine, but the titles I get most consistently are team books.  In fact, right now the only solo Superhero book that I get on a monthly basis is Greg Rucka’s Punisher.  Other than that, I get almost all of the Avengers titles, Fantastic Four and FF, and Ultimate X-Men.  I also get X-Factor in trade paperback.  It’s actually kind of sad how predictable I am in this regard.

My longboxes are populated with team books.  I’ve got an extensive run of Justice League International, pretty much all of Exiles, and I’m building a good run of Ninja Turtles back issues.  Many of the solo books I have are actually more like team books in disguise.  I collect Avenging Spider-Man which features Spidey teaming up with different Avengers every issue.  My favorite Ultimate Spider-Man issues are the ones where he’s living with Iceman and The Human Torch.

I’ve started to wonder at the psychology of this, and I’m not quite sure what it says about me.  I get the love for Spider-Man.  He’s a wise cracking, middle class guy who tries to do the right thing, but life routinely shits on him.  On top of that, he’s kind of a geek.  That’s something most comic book fans can relate too.  So, this guy who we can all see ourselves as also manages to kick ass and attract quite a few beautiful women.  I can totally see the appeal, and the wish fulfillment involved.  It doesn’t really click with me, though.  No matter what happens, his stories always end up the same way.  He manages to pull defeat from the jaws of victory.  He beats Doctor Octopus, but he’s late for dinner and Aunt May is mad at him.  He gets rid of the alien costume that was taken over his life, but then it attaches itself to a guy who hates him.  And the biggest one, he gets awesome powers but doesn’t use them to stop a thief who ends up killing his uncle.  It’s kind of depressing and repetitive.

With team books, there’s a constant clash of personalities.  And, with the ever changing rosters of most teams, you get to see new mixes every few issues.  If you’re tired of seeing Captain America and Iron Man argue, you can see Luke Cage and Jessica Jones fret about their baby.  Just when you think you’ve seen all the Cyclops you can handle, he leaves the team.  So, I guess what I’m saying is that I have a short attention span and team books offer enough change to get me to stick around.  I don’t know if that’s the exact right answer, but I guess it’ll have to do for now.

Graham Becksted’s adventures can be read in Ultimate Graham, Spectacular Graham, Dark Graham, Red Graham, Graham International, and The Graham Of Steel. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles.  If you would like to be his 68th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.

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Avengers movie: a lotta fun!

I didn’t read the comics but I quite enjoyed the Avengers movie.  The writing was solid with lots of witty dialogue and fun moments.  The visual effects are pretty good and the credits for VFX are ridiculously long.  Go see it!

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Graham Vs. Avengers Vs. X-Men

In a previous column I discussed what I felt were short comings of some of the options being bandied about as the future of the comic book medium.  Motion comics, web comics, etc., all had their flaws. I think, though, that Marvel has settled on something truly unique and revolutionary.  It’s not perfect, but it brings something new to the table that adds to the experience without feeling overly gimmicky.

Marvel has branded this new feature AR, or Augmented Reality and it functions kind of like DVD bonus features.  The first issue to offer it is Avengers Vs. X-Men #1 (a.k.a. AvX 1) which is a smart place to do it, as it’s the heavily hyped crossover of two of the biggest franchises is comics and film.  The first small downside to AR is that, as far as I’m aware, you need a decent next-gen device to use it.  Android or Apple, you’ll need to download the Marvel AR app.  You’ll also need 3G or a wifi connection.  Got all that? Okay, now you just need to turn the app on and point your camera at the cover of the comic.

Just like that, a trailer for the issue starts up.  Including that one, I counted 8 instances where you could use the AR. One was an intro to the story from Axel Alonso.  Another was Brian Michael Bendis discussing his favorite scene.  There are others that are a bit more nerdy, like a power chart for the X-Man Hope and a breakdown of the faculty of The Jean Grey School that Wolverine started.  It’s pretty unobtrusive to the actual issue, just a little AR icon in the corner of a panel.  I read through the issue once, and then went back through and checked out the AR content.

First off, the good.  It definitely gives you more bang for your book.  Now that some comics have hit $4.99, this gives you a bit more justification for paying that price.  Instead of reading the issue in 20 minutes or less and then storing it, you can go back and appreciate the art and some of the work that went into the issue.  It also gives you a chance to get to know some of the behind the scenes people in a way that you wouldn’t normally be able to.  It’s an extension of Stan Lee’s bullpen bulletins where he would make the writers and artists a bit more accessible.

Secondly, the bad. The creators who we get to meet don’t really sound comfortable or at ease. They might benefit from having someone else to banter with, as opposed to droningly addressing the reader.  Also, anytime one of the AR things was text based it was almost impossible to decipher.  At least, that’s the way it felt on my iPhone.  Text was so grainy that it was hard to make it out, but it might benefit from having a narrator read it outloud.  I know they’re probably trying to save people some bandwidth, but what’s the use of having a mini-bio of Hope if you can’t read it?

Finally, the issue also included a free download of Avengers Vs. X-Men: Infinite #1 a sort of prologue to the main series written by Mark Waid and drawn by Stuart Immonen.  As far as digital comics go, it really impressed me.  I think it helped that it was made specifically for the digital format, whereas most of the other digital comics I’ve read were meant for paper and then got crammed onto a little screen.  There was a feeling of motion, but stuff never really moved in any way so as to make it feel like a crappy cartoon.

All in all, I was very impressed.  With a few tweaks, it could be a great addition the medium.

Graham Becksted spends so much time on his phone it’s starting to feel like an omni-tool. If only it could do Cryo Blast.  He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles.  If you would like to be his 59th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.

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Disney Create… is too great

So a friend recently posted a comic he made in Disney Create, a flash based comic maker thing you can mess around with online.

I grew up on this type of crap. Disney had been releasing paint or print studio software for a bunch of their big movies over the years.

I got this one in a cereal box.

So after seeing there was something like that online, with characters from Toy Story, Avengers, and some weird ‘manga’ thing, I couldn’t help myself.

The following is the results of the past 2 hours, on Disney Create

Road Story

Avengers in Skrull Ballday

Avengers in Cubism

Avengers in Hulk-Hurdles

Manga Maker

So what are you waiting for. Head on out and start making your own creations… or abominations…

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