With Avengers: Age of Ultron coming in just a few short weeks, the internet is buzzing with all-new levels of hype and speculation. From analyzing every nuance of the trailers, to how Age of Ultron will tie-in to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s obvious that many people cannot wait for the upcoming Marvel Studios movie. Myself included. Which has got me thinking lately.
Will Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD tie into the upcoming Avenger’s movie? After seeing how Agents of SHIELD connected with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it seems obvious the new SHIELD agents will overlap with the coming of Ultron. But I don’t know that it will, at least not the way we think (and hope) it will. Agents of SHIELD could potentially be building up for something even better, something that connects with the 2016 Captain America: Civil War movie.
I finally discovered a flaw in the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie. I'm sure there's a lot of flaws in the movie, ones caught by other comic enthusiasts and movie-goers alike, but unlike those flaws, this is one I caught, one I care about. I'm not saying the movie (and franchise) are now tarnished, only limited. The reason? Ronan the Accuser is dead.
Played by Lee Pace in Guardians, Ronan the Accuser is depicted as a terrorist, a rogue, judge-like soldier. Hellbent on destroying the planet of Xandar, Ronan sets off in search of an Infinity Stone, a tool that will allow him to get what he wants. As villains go, Pace plays the part of the cold-hearted menace well, leaving no options in his character's motives except for betrayal.
Something changed drastically in my outlook of this character after watching the movie. Funnily, my outlook changed BECAUSE of the movie. I loved Guardians of the Galaxy so much, I wanted to get a better understanding of the Marvel Cosmic Universe. I dove right into what many believe to be one of the best stories in the MCU comics, Annihilation. Enthralled, I read on past Annihilation, through Conquest, War of Kings, and finally The Thanos Imperative. I fell in love with many of the heroes in these stories including Star-Lord, Nova, Warlock, Phyla-Vell, and... Ronan the Accuser.
What!? Ronan? I could hardly believe it as I read. Ronan's no hero. He's a terrorist and a killer. Isn't he?
Maybe once... long, long ago, but beginning with Annihilation, Ronan revealed himself to be what he truly is. He's an anti-hero, much like the Punisher. He's willing to go to any lengths to fulfill his duty, but not like his character in Guardians. No, the Ronan in the comic universe is someone possessed of much more honor.
Looking back, I wonder if Ronan's character was wasted in the Guardians movie. Of course, characters can vary wildly from one Marvel Universe to another. In the Ultimate Universe, Ronan is the son of Thanos. But seeing how wide and fantastic the Marvel Cosmic Universe really is and how deep its characters are, I feel like Ronan's character was misused in the Cinematic Universe. Sure, he opened doors to the Kree, Nova, and even Adam Warlock, but another character might've sufficed as a villain. Thanos has more than enough lackey's to pull from.
In future movies, I wonder how the Kree will be represented without their Accuser.
I was really on the fence about writing the words "The Best Marvel Movie So Far". I think most people would disagree with me. The Winter Soldier was such a better movie, they'd say. Many other people would ask what a Marvel Movie was. But I believe there are more than a handful of people out there who believe as I do:
Guardians of the Galaxy was a brilliant movie for Marvel to make, and the beginning of many more movies to come. Now, I can't tell you that Marvel has more movies planned (although they do have another Guardians movie scheduled for 2017). I can tell you what worked really well in this movie, and why they'd be crazy not to expand on the Marvel Cosmic Universe.
Oh, and in case you were wondering...
Getting sucked into a story is a great way to spend your free time. Sometimes, I’ll find a story in a movie or a TV show. Oftentimes, I find it in a book. Last night, the story I found came from a wonderful source, one I don’t dive into as often as I used to.
I began reading Marvel’s Annihilation crossover event.
This is a completely new arena for me. For me, Marvel comics have always been about Mutants and Avengers and New York City. Although I knew of the greater Marvel universe, I never felt compelled to read any of those stories. When Guardians of the Galaxy was announced at Comic-Con a couple years back, I began wiki-reading up the various cosmic features of the Marvel universe.
I wasn’t let down. I get hungry for the stories just thinking about the characters out there like Galactus, the Living Tribunal, and the Watchers. And worlds. Worlds upon worlds of alien races and creatures. The Shi’ar, the Kree, and the Skrulls, and many, many more. The Marvel cosmic universe was so much bigger than the one measly planet I’d been reading about my entire life. Sure, the Phoenix Force would touch down every now and then, or an alien race would attempt to invade, but I had no idea the grand scale Marvel’s universe held. What the wikis all told me hinted at something like Star Trek in size, but with a mythology and history behind it dating back to the beginning of the universe.
Of course, wikis are just wikis. They don’t pull you in. They tease and they taunt with ideas, but this isn’t even close to a story.
Last night, I finally began reading Annihilation. For those of you unfamiliar with the basic premise, here’s the situation. At the edge of our universe, where our universe expands into the Negative Zone (don’t ask), is an area of space called the Crunch. From here, a wave of battleships thousands strong emerge into our universe. It’s safe to say they lay waste to pretty much anything.
These initial stories unfold throughout Annihilation: Prologue and then into the four issue series Annihilation:Nova. I read all five of these comic (and then some) last night. I couldn’t stop. The characters, the worlds, and the scale all sucked me in. I learned about the fate of the Xander homeworld alongside Nova, and I saw the power commanded by the Annihilation Wave. I also saw...well...I don’t want to spoil anything, but it was pretty, well, terrifying.
I’m not far into the series. I’ve only begun reading Annihilation #1, and I only touched on some of the other stories surrounding the event, but so far, I can’t get enough. That’s something I’m always looking for in a story. More. More. More. It's definitely worth and read, and easily something to get into. I loved the Nova series, and I'm really hoping to see more of him.
BTW - Thank you, Marvel, for offering Marvel Unlimited for a buck. I can’t even log on tonight.
I'm a comic book guy, but I have a specific niche. I started reading comics back in the early 90's after I got hooked on the X-Men Animated Series. X-Men and Uncanny X-Men were the first books I ever bought, and I quickly expanded my collection to almost anything Mutant-related.
Spider-Man was always there though. He'd crossover every now and then, but I still hadn't bought any of his books. Spider-Man seemed too vanilla. He was a hero for everybody, and at the time, because I was feeling like an outcast, I needed the X-Men.
When I started college in 1997, I stopped buying comics. I don't know why. Maybe I had enough? No, not that. Whatever the reason, my collection ended as the X-Men began the fight against Bastion during Operation: Zero Tolerance. I kept up with the X-Men as best I could by reading plot summaries on Wikipedia, but it just wasn't the same.
Over the years, I sated my thirst for comic books on the variety of movies and TV shows that appeared. One of my favorites was the first Spider-Man movie with Tobey Maguire. Something changed in me after seeing that movie. Maybe it was because I got to see the webslinger in action. Maybe it was the overall hype, how everyone suddenly knew who Spider-Man was. Maybe it was because during my first trip to New York City, I heard a tour guide explain how Spider-Man was real and the protector of the city. Maybe it was all of this that finally got me hooked on Spider-Man.
Not the comic. Not the movie. The idea of what Spider-Man is.
Even now, I don't profess to know much about Spider-Man. Most of what I know, I've picked up from forums and from the Marvel and Spider-Man wikis. I only just recently started reading the Spider-Man comics, beginning with issue #678, so I've missed a lot. But I know one thing about Spider-Man.
He's simply amazing. He's a hero for everybody, but he's more than that. He does what he does because he believes he has to. He rises above the obstacles thrown at him, both in his superhero life and his personal life, and when he doesn't, he bleeds. He has superpowers, but not the kind that allow him to do anything he wants. Sometimes, what he's up against is something far greater than his power alone, but somehow, he succeeds. He's not too proud to refuse help from friends, and he knows when to make a tactical retreat. And the thing that puts a smile on my face every time is that no task is above him, from saving the world to saving a kid from a bully.
We should all live like Spider-Man. He's an inspiration, and an amazing example of what it means to be human.
I'd always felt the appeal of comic books long before I ever picked one up. I loved reading and drawing. I searched for fantastic stories about super powers and magic. The allure to comic books came naturally because comics had all these things in common. But outside the occasional run-in at the public library, I couldn't find a way to get into them. Too many characters, too much back story, and never enough time or money. My interest waned.
That all changed in the early 90's when "X-Men: The Animated Series" came out on television. Of all the comics I was interested in, the X-Men were the most fascinating to me, and with the release of their own TV show, I finally got an introduction to the core characters and some of the lore of the comic. Within a few weeks of watching the show, I'd found a local comic shop and made my first purchase. Over the next few years, I read and collected probably close to 200 books, most of which were X-Titles. Those years were great for me, but around the time high school was ending, some of my favorite artists and writers were leaving their books, and suddenly, I gave up comics.
Well, I didn't completely give them up. They followed me around over the years in their plastic bins. Every now and then I would remember The Phalanx Covenant or The Age of Apocalypse stories and dive in again, but I couldn't bring myself to pick up a new title and see what was going on with the X-Men. If I got really curious I'd look them up on the internet like a creeper ex-boyfriend on Facebook, but between relaunches and then finding out all but 100 mutants lost their powers in The House of M storyline, I couldn't bring myself to go back.
Times change though, and with a new blog to maintain, I decided this would give me a chance to reignite my interest in the X-Men. Not since late 1997 have I made a dedicated effort to read comics, so I reached out to the Reddit community for some recommendations. With their input, I decided on Uncanny X-Men and All-New X-Men. To prevent myself from being overwhelmed (or worse, draining my savings on back issues) I decided on a year subscription to both books. Like television shows or music albums, sometimes one issue isn't enough to get into an entire series.
So, I'll try to make this short and sweet. My review of Uncanny X-Men #4:
My reintroduction to X-Men society came with a rather welcome surprise. One of the first series of comics I picked up was Generation X, so I was pretty excited to learn that Chris Bachalo was still penciling for Marvel. He continues to be one of my favorite artists, and it's nice to see how his skills have evolved since the early 90's.
I was also happy to see Tim Townsend in the credits as an inker. When he teamed up with Joe Madureira on Uncanny X-Men, they provided an excellent source of inspiration for me.
I know next to nothing about Brian Michael Bendis as a writer, but his storytelling was certainly engaging. I think it's a little too early in the relationship to start nitpicking. Nothing from the artwork to the writing made me want to put the book down.
Of course, I did have reservations.
The last time I read an X-Men comic was in the middle of Operation: ZERO TOLERANCE. The X-Men were split up after the events caused by Onslaught, but for the most part, all the main characters I’d known over the years were there. But after one issue of the new Uncanny X-Men, I've realized some pretty serious stuff has happened. Jean Grey and Charles Xavier are dead. Cyclops has teamed up with Emma Frost and Magneto to form a new team (one that doesn't exactly adhere to Charles Xavier’s dream). And the original team of X-Men has somehow been brought to the present in a way that makes my head hurt.
This was not an easy transition for me to make, but I'm adapting. As I mentioned before, times have changed, and so too have the books I grew up on. More than anything, I’m dying to know what’s happened over the last decade (which is exactly why I’m not going to the comic shops yet). Most of the same characters are there, but they’re twisted around in one way or another. Iceman looks like he just stepped out of the Age of Apocalypse, Kitty Pryde is all grown up and a teacher at the school, and Beast appears to have mutated even further...AND don’t get me started on Magneto’s and Cyclops’ new costumes (even if they are kind of cool).
Though it’s confusing, I really like the addition of the original X-Men. I’m not sure how it’s working, but I’m willing to let that slide for the time being. It’s interesting to see them in the present, reacting to their future and making choices that were never made before. The fact that they’re there at all reminds me that this isn't some altered timeline. The original X-Men I've always loved are still there.
By far the most difficult adjustment I’m trying to come to grips with is the sudden reappearance of Illyana Rasputin, or Magik. Last I read, she'd died of the Legacy Virus. A quick search on the internet gained me no new information on how she returned, so I’m putting that one on the back burner for now. It’s fun to see her back on the team though. Inferno was one of the first graphic novels I picked up, and so I’m more than a little familiar with Illyana’s backstory.
All in all, Uncanny X-Men was an entertaining read. Like the original X-Men, I’ve been brought from the past into an uncertain future, but the possibilities of that future will definitely keep me reading.
Video Games, Comics, Movies, and Books. I'll talk about it all, and I'll tell you why it's so awesome!