Tag Archives: Hulk
There aren’t many creative personalities that I can honestly say I’ve been following most of my life. I guess Patrick Stewart would be on that list between Star Trek and X-Men. I guess the cast of the Simpsons, since they’re almost as old as I am. But the most consistent one that I can think of is Peter David.
Most of you probably have no idea who that is, but he has had a surprisingly big impact on the geek world. The thing is though, his biggest impact has been on the under used corners of any geek-verse. For instance, his biggest claim to fame is a twelve year run as the writer of the Incredible Hulk. As big a name as The Hulk is, especially after his great appearance in The Avengers, he’s never quite equaled his Stan and Jack Merry Marvel Siblings. He’s no Spider-Man or X-Men. He’s more on the level of Daredevil. He needs a particular vision to make him really work, and David’s run on the book is legendary. Some of the most memorable Hulk stories are his, and they helped launch a young artist and famous ball enthusiast named Todd MacFarlane.
He also has had extensive and memorable runs on X-Factor, an X-Men sister-title. Speaking of sister-titles, he also has quite a cult following for his Supergirl stories. And, I can’t think of a more niche mainstream superhero than Aquaman, and yet Peter David did some pretty cool stuff with him.
One of the hallmarks of his stories is his sense of humour. Even in the darkest stories, he manages to slip in a joke or a sly reference to lighten the mood just a little. That’s really what keeps me coming back to his work. It’s always fun. The stories aren’t always great, but I never put it down feeling like I’ve wasted my time.
As evidence for this, I present Babylon 5. I watched 4 seasons of this show, and barely remember it. It’s Star Trek Lite. The writing, acting, sets, and effects pale in comparison to a show that it was in direct competition with. But, Peter David wrote two episodes and I think those episodes are the best of the series. Or at least, the best that I saw. They weren’t overly serious, or trying to make grand commentary on the universe. They were just tasty nuggets of what that world could be.
He also co-created his own TV series. It was called Space Cases and it was like Lost In Space meets Captain Planet. A group of kids from all different species get, well, lost in space and they have to learn to work together. It didn’t last very long, but I think anyone who grew up with it remembers it fondly. It also has a ton of geek cred- The other co-creator is Billy Mumy, Will Robinson from Lost In Space; it stars Walter Emanuel Jones, the original black Power Ranger; it also stars a young Jewel Staite, from Firefly and Stargate Atlantis; and it guest starred Mark Hamill and George Takei.
Lastly, I want to talk about his novels. Somehow, between all the comics and TV shows, he’s managed to crack out a bunch of novels. Some original ideas, and a lot of work for hire. He’s written some of the best known Star Trek novles including Imzadi, a bunch of Q books, and the New Frontier series, which has hit over 20 books.
The reason I bring all of this up is that Peter David has had a stroke. He’s in rough shape, but is slowly improving. But, because he lives in America, his health care has been expensive. Based on that laundry list of stuff I’ve listed above, David must have touched some corner of the geek world that means something to you. And, if he has, I humbly suggest you check out his website and purchase something by him. There are more details here – http://www.peterdavid.net/2013/01/04/here-is-how-you-can-help-peter/
Graham Becksted hopes Peter David gets well soon. 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 72nd follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
Last week I spent the entire blog talking about the parts of Fan Expo that really burned my balls. This week, I’m going to talk about the part that brings me back year after year: buying stuff. This year in particular was a banner year for me. I got something that, to me at least, is absolutely amazing. But, I’ll save that for the end.
Years ago, a friend of mine picked up Preacher in Trade Paperback and leant it to me. It is Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon at their absolute best. It’s a fantastic 66 issue run of sacrilegious goodness. In the most basic terms, it’s about an ex-preacher who gets the voice of God meaning he can make people do whatever he says. He uses it sparingly, ‘cause, you know, he’s a decent guy. He and his girlfriend Tulip and an Irish vampire they meet on their travels go on a road trip across America. That’s it in a nutshell and it might sound a little simplistic but it’s good comics!
I managed to get the first volume in hardcover a few years ago and I’ve been trying to get the rest for a good price ever since. At the con I found vols. 2 and 3, and I got vol. 4 shortly after. So, I’ve almost go the whole kit and caboodle now and I plan on rereading it as soon as I do. You can borrow them when I’m done.
In Brian Cronin’s latest book about comics (http://www.amazon.com/Does-Batman-Carry-Shark-Repellent/dp/0452297842/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346724821&sr=8-1&keywords=brian+cronin), Zeb Wells discussed Peter David’s run on The Hulk in pretty glowing terms. (Zeb Wells is a funny comic writer who is in the midst of a pretty solid run on Avenging Spider-Man.) I’ve always liked Peter David but I haven’t read much of his Hulk stuff even though he’s considered one of the definitive voices on the character. I guess I’ve just never been much of a Hulk guy. But, Wells turned me. David wrote around 150 issues of Hulk, and now I’ve got about 23 of them. I think that’s a pretty good sampling. I’m sure I’ll let you know what I think. In the meantime, check out Peter David’s work. If you’re reading this, chances are he’s written something you’d be interested in. (Star Trek, Spider-Man, Babylon 5, Space Cases, etc.)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #24
My quest for a complete run of the Archie Comics Ninja Turtles comics continues. This year, I only found one issue I needed at a reasonable price. There were a few places selling issues for as much as $100, but so long as I can find them for a buck or two I figure I’ll stick to that. With this issue I now have a pretty solid run of 1-36 with a few small gaps. It’s getting harder though. I’m pretty sure I’ve exhausted all of the stores in Toronto, and I might have to start trekking to other towns.
This is a series by Mark Waid and Peter Krause (no, not the guy from Six Feet Under) that I don’t know too much about. It’s a spin on the Superman story where the hero turns evil. It has a sister series called Incorruptible, which is about a bad guy that turns good. Normally I’m bit wishy washy on Waid, but I’ve just heard so many great things that I had to check it out. It’s another one of those things where I’ll get back to you when I’ve finished it.
As I may have mentioned, Shazam/Captain Marvel is my latest comic book crush. I hate calling him Shazam, but that’s what legal wrangling has lead us. At this con I got three more items for my collection. A hardcover collection of a four issue mini-series called Shazam! The Monster Society Of Evil by Jeff Smith, the beloved creator of the epic comic book series Bone. A red t-shirt with the iconic Captain Marvel lightning bolt. Finally, the crème de la crème, Shazam Archives vol. 1. This reprint of the first batch of Captain Marvel comics is out of print, and filled with amazing art and stories. It’s the first of four and easily the hardest to find. It’s currently selling for $156 on Amazon.com. I managed to find it for $25. I almost passed out when I saw the price and I entered into a state of euphoria when I got it into my sweaty little hands (don’t worry, it was in plastic wrap.)
That’s it for another Fan Expo. I’m sure I’ll be writing about it again next year.
Graham Becksted spent way too much money at Fan Expo. Surprise, surprise. 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 71st follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
Welcome back faithful readers. This week, I’d like to make a return to my topic of choice: Comic Books. I’m actually writing this on the Monday of one of the rarest of treats, a long weekend. Not just any long weekend, though. It is the day after the birth of my home country – Canada. In honour of Canada day I will be presenting to you a list of 4 of my favorite Canadian comic book artists. The Great White North is the home to quite a few of the greatest mainstream artists in the comic book field.
1.) Chris Bachalo
To start with, I’m going to go with Mr. Chris Bachalo. I’m not sure if he counts, since according to his Wikipedia page he was raised in the U.S. But, he was born here, so he counts in my book. Also, he’s one of the most interesting artists to work consistently in the Marvel and DC universes. It’s sort of a graffiti style mixed with a Bruce Timm animation style. It’s very unique and is instantly recognizable. He made his name on a mini-series featuring the character of Death from the Sandman series. His profile was further raised when he co-created the X-Men spinoff Generation X. Recently he’s done some great work on Spider-Man and New Avengers. He’s actually one of the few artists that I would consider reading regardless of the writer.
2.) Kaare Andrews
I just realized that the rest of the list features artists who are also known for their writing. I don’t know if that means anything, but it probably does. All Canadians are multi-talented geniuses or something. Anyhoo, Kaare Andrews is unique in a lot of ways mostly in that his style is constantly changing. And all of his styles are cool. This is best exemplified by his series of Hulk covers. The one above is obviously inspired by Norman Rockwell, but he did others that look like cereal boxes and Where The Wild Things Are. I first noticed him on Ultimate X-Men, and he did a cool arc on Astonishing X-Men with Warren Ellis. His signature series, though, is Spider-Man Reign. He wrote and drew it, and it’s like a Marvel response to The Dark Knight Returns. Admittedly, it’s not my favorite thing in the world. But, the art is interesting and it’s a unique take on Spidey.
3.) Darwyn Cooke
The next gentleman on this list is Mr. Darwyn Cooke. Not only is he from my home country, he’s also from my home town – Toronto. He still lives here, and he’s one of the most sought after writers/artists in comics. When DC was looking for the best people in the business to work on Before Watchmen, he was asked to write and draw one series and write another. His style is very much an animated style. In fact, he was a storyboard artist on the Batman Animated Series. He’s best known for his mini-series, DC: New Frontier, which was turned into a direct to DVD animated movie. It’s very cool, and puts the changes of the DC universe into a real world perspective. For example, it explains why Batman went from a gun-toting, fear the night, badass into a kid-friendly, sidekick toting, hero. He’s also done extensive runs on Will Eisner’s The Spirit, and he has adapted some of Richard Stark’s Parker novels.
4.) John Byrne
Finally, we come to the only true legend on this list. He hasn’t had a great run of it lately, especially since his online persona is not the friendliest. He has had feuds with some of the greats in the business, but he is also one half of one of the greatest creative teams in mainstream comic book history. He and Chris Claremont redefined the X-Men, and Byrne was at the very least one half of that equation. Probably more since he is credited as a co-plotter on most of the storylines that they are best known for. His clean, crisp style is iconic and very influential. He also wrote and drew some of the most important issues of Fantastic Four and rebooted Superman after Crisis on Infinite Earths. His impact in comics is undeniable, and it’s too bad that he hasn’t had much work at Marvel or DC in recent years. I hope he gets another chance to work on the characters he helped define before he has to retire.
Graham Becksted is Canadian. 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.
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.
So, it happened. The Avengers was released in North America this week. And nothing will ever be the same again.
Actually, that’s probably not true. But, some people have made a whole bunch of money, and the rest of us just spent a lot to help this gargantuan picture topple some crazy box office records. The only thing that could come close to making as much money as this would have to be some sort of Hunger Games – Twilight hybrid where Katniss Everdeen is hunted by naked Edwards and Jacobs or something.
For the record, the movie was awesome. It had everything I could have wanted. A quippy Iron Man, a bad ass Captain America, an operatic Thor, and a pitch-perfect Hulk. No one character took centre stage, or got bogged down with character development. There was no distracting romance angle, or personal drama. Most of these characters have solo movies to worry about that stuff. This is the traditional crossover comic book epic that fanboys always buy up like crazy. And now, the general public understands why!
In comics, they’re so rote at this point that they have a pretty standard formula: Huge bad guy appears, some superhero gets his or her ass kicked, a bunch of other superheroes show up to help, there is a misunderstanding and the heroes fight, then they settle their differences and work together to beat the villain. And, despite how predictable it all is, they do a new one every year or so and it’s inevitably the best selling thing out there. Sure, they’ve become better at it recently. The formula has been tweaked with varying levels of success. For instance, Civil War pretty much started and stopped at the “misunderstanding” phase.
And don’t look to me to try and explain why it works so well. All I know is that when I was still going on road trips with my parents, I read Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars over and over again. It pit the biggest Marvel heroes and villains against each other for 12 issues. That’s pretty much the long and the short of it, but it’s riveting! Maybe it’s something to do with humanity’s fascination with the struggle between good and evil. Or, maybe it’s more to do with seeing characters who don’t normally interact with each other forced to fight or cooperate. Or, maybe it’s as simple as seeing the Hulk hold up a mountain so that it doesn’t crush Spider-Man and a bunch of Avengers trapped underneath.
After the adrenaline rush of the movie died down, I started to think that DC and Warner must be drooling at the prospect of a JLA movie. It’s mighty tempting. Can you imagine Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman all in one movie? Never mind the rest of the team just those three would be a feat. But, imagine the cartwheels they’d have to go through to concoct a threat that requires those three plus Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Flash and Aquaman. And one that has to be introduced and defeated in 2 hours?
I hate to break it to you DC Fanboys, but I don’t think a giant, telepathic, alien starfish is going to resonate on screen quite as well as it does on the page.
On second thought, that sounds amazing!
Alternatively, they could go in the direction of the Justice League International and have a team of mostly b-listers. Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, Guy Gardner, Fire, Ice, and maybe G’Nort. They could team up and fight traffic violations, or something. That’s something that could be filmed in a weekend, and put in theatres by the end of the month and they could totally capitalize on the Avengers buzz!
I think that’s something even I could direct! Sorry, I have to call my agent.
Graham Becksted does not have an agent. 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 64th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
PS: Stella’s Avengers Handsome Man Ranking
- Captain America
- Iron Man
- Black Widow
What draws people to comic book/sci-fi/anime/horror/whatever conventions? Is it the deals? The cosplay? The meeting people who are just like you? The body odour? Or, is it the celebrities?
Personally, I go mainly for deals on comic books, and the selection. I mean, when one place has all the comic book stores in the city it’s a lot easier to check them out there than subwaying around looking for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #42 at six different locations. But, I know other people who go to cons for camaraderie and seeing friends they don’t otherwise get to see. I have to admit, I sort of envy them and the sense of community they get from it. I mean, they have paid for the privilege of that feeling, but on the other hand I paid for the opportunity to dig through hundreds of dusty, dirty, smelly long boxes which is a significantly more solitary endeavour. For instance, while they discuss what’s new in the world of Anime the most I say to anyone is an annoyed grunt as a bypass a box that’s already occupied.
What really makes me curious, though, are the people who go for the chance to meet their favorite stars. I consider that a nice bonus, but there are very few people who I would go to a con for. Sure, I’ve shaken hands with Darth Vader and The Incredible Hulk. I’ve had comic books signed by Brian Michael Bendis, Steve McNiven, and Tim Sale. I’ve said hello to Adam West, brushed past Michael Dorn, and cast chaste but meaningful glances at Morena Baccarin. But, those were never things that drove me to the con. On the other hand, I’ve given up on a line to meet an artist when I realize that the guy in front of me has a stack of 75 individual comics that he wants signed.
How much does an autograph really affect something? To be honest, I don’t even know why I bothered getting the autographs that I did. I guess it was just an excuse to spend a bit more time chatting with them. That’s really the more meaningful interaction. Talking to a person and telling them how much you appreciate their work seems to me to be a more powerful gesture.
Okay, now my exceptions. A couple of paragraphs ago I mentioned that there are very few people I would go to a con for. One of them is Stan Lee. He is the founder of the Marvel Universe as we know it. He was involved in the creation of some of the most iconic comic books of all time. He is a living legend who had a powerful impact on a medium that I am quite fond of. I was willing to shell out big bucks for a meet and greet with him when he came to Toronto a few years ago but those tickets sold out faster than I could pull out my credit card. I did go to a Q n’ A that he did, and that alone had me as giddy as McLovin at the Playboy mansion.
Another exception that is taunting me is coming up in a couple of weeks. It’s an onstage reunion of the principal cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. That show is almost single handedly responsible for my all consuming nerdiness. I’ve seen every episode multiple times and it propelled me into a vast world of sci-fi and fantasy. I would love to go and watch them banter onstage for an hour or two as they bask in the adulation of me and a few hundred others. The only thing holding me back is that it’s in Calgary. For the non-Canadians reading, that’s on the other side of the country. Canada being the second biggest country in the world, that’s not exactly a daytrip (although, I’m sure the more wealthy amongst us have done it). But, I am seriously thinking about going. It’s burning a hold in my brain.
If you happen to be a benevolent millionaire and would like to make Graham Becksted happy he will do many unseemly things for airfare and a decent hotel. 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 51st follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
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.
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
So what are you waiting for. Head on out and start making your own creations… or abominations…
So, I think by now it’s well established that I’m something of a Marvel zombie. Knowing that, I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I’m pretty stoked for The Avengers (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_3uKtfELfE). This is a movie that couldn’t have existed ten years ago. And not just because it’s Marvel and they’ve had some troubles getting movies made. One big budget movie featuring multiple pre-established superheroes is something that hasn’t been done before. Sure, in the past there’s been the occasional TV movie that threw Daredevil and The Hulk together (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098512/) or an aborted Justice League show (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118365/). X-Men and Fantastic Four don’t count, ‘cause those characters were all created to be a team. But even something as seemingly simple as a Batman and Superman movie hasn’t been done. I mean, they tried to make that thing for years!
The problem doesn’t seem to be that studios aren’t willing to try it. The problem is that the logistics are nightmarish! First you have to think up a threat that needs Superman AND Batman. Then you have to find actors to play the heroes. Since this is bound to be a big budget spectacle, you need two big name guys. They’ll likely want to have an equal amount of importance and screen time, and since they’re such big names they’ll probably want some say over who plays the other guy. Warner Bros invested a lot of time and money into making a Superman Vs. Batman movie, but these problems kept derailing it. They had a director and two writers, but they just couldn’t get two actors to commit at the same time. If you watch I Am Legend you can even see a teaser poster for it!
When this was all going on, I did a radio show on my high school radio station (106.3 RAVFM – I don’t think it’s on the air anymore…) where I did entertainment news updates. So, I followed all of this stuff pretty closely and became pretty jaded about the whole thing. Well, as jaded as any high school radio dork can be. After the Supes and Bats stuff blew over, there started to be rumours of a Justice League movie. That got some brief casting buzz, but never really stood a chance. With the exception of Batman, it seems really hard to make a DC movie with just one of their heroes. Anything more, at least for the time being, seems impossible.
DC had always had one advantage over Marvel in the movie making business. They are owned by Warner Brothers. If they want to make a movie, they just have to go next door and say, “Hey, let’s make Batman a movie,” and then they start making it. For a long time Marvel was a lone wolf company – not really part of any major media conglomerate. They would sell the movie rights for their characters to studios and pray that they didn’t mess them up. Finally in the late 2000s, they scrabbled a bunch of money together and decided to make a movie of their own.
That movie was Iron Man. I’ve never been a huge fan of the character in comics. In fact, I don’t know anyone who really was. But, from the first picture of the cast in costume I knew it was going to be good. I was not disappointed. It blew my socks off and that was long before the end credits. I had heard that there was some special little easter egg after the credits, so I waited patiently. When Sam Jackson as Nick Fury appeared I smiled. When he said the words “Avengers Initiative,” the top of my head flew off and steam shot out of my ears. I lost the ability to speak English for three days. My jaw dropped so far that I needed a surgical procedure to correct it. All in all, I was a little excited.
Now that it’s finally becoming a reality, I’m just trying to contain myself. Keep my expectations reasonable. But, this is something truly unprecedented. No expense has been spared. There’s a first rate (at least in the geek world) writer-director, Mr. Joss Whedon. The actors are the same ones from the heroes’ solo movies. (Except for the Hulk, where they can’t seem to find an actor who is willing to stick around for more than one movie – Eric Bana, Ed Norton, and now Mark Ruffalo.) And the continuity all ties in with the other movies.
My point with this column was simple. The Avengers movie has been getting a lot of buzz, but for non-comic fans it’s easy to lose sight of why. Whether the movie turns out to be good or bad, I think it should still be applauded for how ambitious it is. And even if you’re not a Marvel fan, if this is successful it just might pave the way for a JLA movie. We might finally get to see Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman fighting a giant starfish in 3D!