Here’s the second installment of the all time greatest one shot comics, featuring small self contained stories that begin & end all within the span of one single issue! Today we’ve got an excellent story from 2001 in The Incredible Hulk #26 (vol. 2) written by Sean Mckeever and drawn by one of my personal favorites, the amazing Kyle Hotz. I immediately had a soft spot for this issue as it takes place in Wausau, Wisconsin (and even features ‘Eagle River’ on a highway sign, a place where my family’s had a cottage for ages) a state that we don’t normally see superhero adventures taking place. I had a feeling that Mckeever must’ve been a Wisconsin native to include such random small towns in this story and I was right as his Wiki page states he’s from Appleton (I used to live there!).
Anyway the story features The Hulk as he wanders aimlessly through the night on a lonely highway being drawn to a nearby city’s lights in the distance. The Hulk appears to be at peace in the quiet night, but hey we all know for the jade giant tranquility never lasts long. The cool thing about this particular issue is that Hulk kinda takes a back seat as the story really follows the exploits of b-lister down on his luck supervillain ‘The Killer Shrike’ and his wife Nadine who’re traveling the country aimlessly in his beat up van. I love what this one brings to the table as we’re able to see Simon Maddicks (The Killer Shrike) life as a real person. We witness the struggle of a woman who’s stuck by her mate as he’s chosen a life as a superhuman criminal constantly on the run from the law. She’s tired and ready to live a normal boring life. Shrike’s promising her soon he’ll be ready and willing to give up the life of crime and pulls into Wausau claiming that it could be the city for both of them to settle down in.
It doesn’t take long for her to realize Simon’s lying through his teeth as he eyes up a convenience store and tells her he’s got a new plan. Rather than looking for the big score like he has for years he’s gonna hit small towns hard where there’s no superhuman resistance. We get a real glimpse in to what life might really be like for a supervillain who at his core is just a regular small time crook. There haven’t been too many comics that have covered this topic so intimately and really given us a look at the starving supervillain’s daily life. It’s too bad The Killer Shrike doesn’t realize this small city’s also harboring the most powerful brute force on the planet-The Hulk. We get a compelling introspective into just what makes The Hulk tick and where his thoughts wander to when he’s in a state of peace with his surroundings. There’s a lot of great dialogue packed into this little story and Hotz’s unique artwork really brings this tale to life
The Killer Shrike suits up in his van and hit’s the convenience store with an easy small time score, or so he thinks. On his way out with the cash he nearly runs head on into you guessed it…good ol’ green jeans himself. The Shrike in sheer panic attacks The Hulk, who really just wants to be left alone. He’s doesn’t let up either as he’s convinced he can take down The Hulk himself, he keeps on striking until he levels an entire building upon the jade giant. The Killer Shrike however quickly realizes that very building also crushed his getaway van with his lover, Nadine inside. As things often go wrong when puny humans decide to pester the Hulk, this issue delivers a heartfelt punch to the gut as we witness one fateful night in the life of Simon Maddicks. I wish Marvel could capture this type of depth in their characters and villains more often as The Incredible Hulk #26 would be great issue to present to Marvel executives today as they ponder upon why their comic book sales have declined so much recently. Check this issue out next time you’re at the comic shop roaming through the back issue boxes, it’s a damn fine little slice of storytelling! P.S. here’s an old Marvel Universe profile for the Killer Shrike!
Over the years we all have enjoyed and sometimes hated the giant “epic” multi title crossovers and mini-series that are so damn popular these days. However some of my personal favorite comic book stories are short and sweet. They often times have nothing to do with the major story arc you’re currently reading in that title and especially back in the 70’s & 80’s these self contained stories that had a beginning and end to them all in one book were sometimes more heavy hitting than any crossover could ever be. So I’ll be showcasing some of my favorites and the first one that came to mind might be my favorite of them all.
Flash back to 1986 when X-Men #205 hit the shelves. This issue is easily one of the best Wolverine stories of all time, and it’s all in just one issue. A brilliant epic crafted by Chris Claremont and Barry Windsor Smith remains one of the darkest and most brutal issues of X-men to date. Let me clarify that this was during a time when Wolverine was rarely seen in solo adventures and the character was still deeply mysterious.
The story was called “Wounded Wolf” and featured Lady Deathstrike’s first appearance as a super freaky ass cyborg as well as her three Reaver mercenary minions. It also featured Katie Powers from the mutant kid team ‘Power Pack’ who during a snow storm encounters Wolverine who’s beaten to a pulp, covered in blood and nearly naked. Soon the two of them are both on the run from Lady Deathstrike and her cyborgs who’re out for bloody revenge. It reminds of a Wolverine movie storyboard Ridley Scott might have anticipated directing in the 80’s. Continue reading
I’ve been seeing an increase of stories recently online & on social media about Marvel Comics and it’s continuing sales slump. Most of the articles bring up the hot topic of diversity, some say that Marvel’s record low sales of their comics books are simply because of rising cover prices & lack of fresh new ideas for their characters. Others say that it’s directly due to it’s attempt at diversifying it’s star characters by changing their race, gender & sexual orientation. Most of their popular character’s titles have had a bit of a revamp lately, for instance Wolverine is now female, so is Thor, so is Iron Man, Cap is black, the Hulk is now Korean-American etc. etc. You get the point. Could these changes really be the reason why sales are down? Do people just simply hate diversity in the Marvel Comics titles?
I really doubt that it’s really that simple, though rising cover prices and lack of fresh ideas definitely doesn’t help their low sales. What I see personally happening is a bit of a trend within Marvel Comics that feels a bit insincere. I honestly don’t really mind that the traditional characters have been replaced but I do feel Marvel’s move to make all these changes to their most popular titles feels as if they’ve been exploiting diversity to make a quick buck. What I’m saying is that it feels like Marvel is just trying way too hard to be current on these topics rather than crafting interesting stories. I don’t believe you can simply take all of your money maker superhero titles, simply change their identities and expect them all to suddenly bring you boatloads of cash because you finally decided to make them more diverse. It’s just not that simple folks. Continue reading
Ok so I wanted to take a minute to briefly comment on Netflix’s ‘Iron Fist’ as I FINALLY finished the whole damn thing. So at first I admit I thought the series wasn’t too bad but as I completed the finale it was clear that this show just didn’t deliver much of anything interesting. Now I’m not saying it deserves a 19% rating on Rotten Tomatoes but hey let’s be honest it kinda sucked. The show was pretty damn boring and I admit EVERY one of the Marvel Netflix shows reach a point where this becomes the case. There’s simply way too many episodes, way too much exposition and it just gets to be a bit of a LOOOONG ass process trying to get to the end of these shows. Some of these Iron Fist episodes felt like they were hours long. Combine that with the terrible meandering plot of ‘villains’ Harold and The Hand and the corporate board room BS and it just drags on and on.
I really wanted to like this one but god damn am I glad it’s just over with. One thing this series excelled at was being totally consistently mediocre. Even the finale was a bonafide snoozefest. He barely ever even used the ‘iron fist’ at all throughout this damn show but damn was he hyped on telling everyone he was “the Iron Fist” every damn chance he could. I even kinda liked Finn Jones as the clueless, largely directionless, tantrum throwing rich brat superhero. And to be clear Danny Rand was most definitely not a “white savior” in any respect in this series. He actually was more of a “white screwup” – so to all of the people who had their undies in a bundle I suggest watching the show before you throw your online tantrums. Iron Fist could and should have have been great, pushing the kung fu action to crazy new levels, sadly I give this one a solid D+. Oh well let’s hope they get it right in The Defenders!
On the brighter and more exciting side of things I did start a relatively new series on Netflix last night called “Hap & Leonard” it hooked me right away and I ended up watching three of the six episodes last night. SIX episodes thankfully NOT thirteen!!! I had to mention this one because it’s got some damn good things going for it & here’s a few reasons why you should check it out. First it’s based on the Joe R. Lansdale book series based on these characters. He’s responsible for writing some incredibly cool stories that have been adapted to film like ‘Bubba Ho-tep’, ‘Incident On and Off a Mountain Road’, ‘Cold in July’ & ‘Christmas with the Dead’ to name a few.
Next the directors Jim Mickle & Nick Damici have done some cool flicks like ‘Stakeland’, ‘Mulberry Street’ & ‘We are What We Are’. There’s a big horror connection to this series but so far it really doesn’t quite fit into any genre really. Instead I see aspects of horror, mystery & adventure all crammed nicely into this series. Another plus for me is that it takes place in 1988 and damn do I love the eighties. It’s got some real interesting characters as well, Hap’s a poor rugged private investigator and his best friend Leonard is a gay, black, conservative cowboy who finds more in common with Elvis than Martin Luther King. Both guys are also martial artists and into getting into all sorts of mayhem in the backwoods of east Texas.
It also stars Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks (who’s a total babe and a great actor) as Hap’s ex wife who’s sent them on a wild goose chase to find a sunken getaway car supposedly filled with a million bucks somewhere on the bottom of a alligator infested river. There’s also a weird ass serial killer duo on the loose, one of them is Pollyanna MacIntosh who’s known for her intense role in Lucky McKee’s horror flick “The Woman”. She’s just as wild n’ crazy in ‘Hap & Leonard’.
Yeah it’s a breath of fresh air after Iron Fist that’s for sure. Check it out, it’s a thrill so far and full of surprises!! I’m thrilled this one’s got a second season as it appears there’s plenty o’ crazy source material for out there already from Mr. Lansdale!
Ok so I’m eight episodes in on Netflix’s ‘Iron Fist’ and I’m honestly not quite sure what all the crazy hatin’ on it is all about. I liked all the Marvel Netflix stuff so far, Daredevil being the best, then Luke Cage and so far I’m feeling like Iron Fist and Jessica Jones are pretty much on the same level. I remember being a bit bored during ALL of the ‘Marvel Netflix’ shows at some point or another, they are ALL about 3-5 episodes too long. I think keeping them around an 8 episode affair would easily be the best structure for these shows.
Iron Fist does move a bit on the slow side from the start, but like the previous Marvel series they all take waaaaay too long to get to the real meat n’ potatoes of it all. The fight scenes range here from good to sloppy, nothing mind blowing but they feel in line with what we have seen thus far from Marvel for the most part. Check out the “nunchucks” scene below, it’s clear Finn jones is definitely no Bruce Lee! It would have been really cool if they had really took the opportunity to amp of the kung fu to something truly mind blowing. Not sure why they didn’t go that route but if they had this show could have been spectacular. As far as crazy martial arts / action I think Daredevil has succeeded most and remains the best of the bunch. Overall though as much as I do enjoy watching the Marvel Netflix stuff I think all of it ends up a tad on the bland side of things still. The street level realism is personally getting a bit boring in my opinion. They’re better executed than the movies and have definitely had better villains than the theatrical stuff but still there’s something missing. In my opinion ‘Logan’ has set a new standard for the live action superhero stuff.
That being said Iron Fist I think is actually an OK series. I was really prepared for something truly horrendous but I’ve actually had a fairly fun time with the series so far. the amount of shit this show has gotten has reached laughable levels online, like the other Marvel Netflix stuff was The Shawshank Redemption or some shit. The writing is indeed not award worthy but I’ve kinda enjoyed it for that. It’s a bit ridiculous at times with characters their odd “motivations”, Danny Rand is certainly quite a bit different in the way he acts and deals with things. But kinda I dig that aspect of the show. Rand is pretty naive and seems quite often a bit clueless. I’m guessing that it’s because he spent the last 15 years training in the mystical city of K’un-Lun with monks in another dimension. He’s basically new to the real world, as he went missing when he was tween. He’s a bit bratty, he’s got a crazy kinda weird unpredictable temper and though he’s supposed to be “enlightened” he’s a bit of a spoiled privileged poser. Hey those people really do exist, I’ve met a few in my time.
He throws tantrums and really hasn’t much of a clue what to do with his business and his insane inherited wealth. I like his ‘flaws’, he kinda acts a bit like a clueless rich white teenager who’s got a good heart but is a bit of a dipshit. Rand’s got some realism to him, that maybe wasn’t the show’s intention but I’m kinda glad he’s not a carbon copy of Matt Murdock. This could all be due some bad writing but in this case it kinda actually works in the series favor. I also thought Colleen Wing was pretty cool too, she steals the show from Danny Rand quite often and is just as much of main character here. I wouldn’t be surprised if she ends up getting her own series with Misty Knight, ‘Daughters of the Dragon’ anyone?
There’s a lot I would have done differently here with this show. It should have a TON more crazy kung fu action, it shouldn’t have been 13 episodes and it most definitely should have had the costume dammit!!! That alone would have set this apart from the last two series, we need way more of a superhero presence in these shows, this one was one I was certain was going to deliver on that front. I could easily see this character come up with a bit of a cheezy flashy classic inspired Iron Fist costume and it making perfect sense. Danny Rand should be the one kinda clueless dude who sports a questionable “superhero” costume.
Marvel should play off of that aspect of the character and let Iron Fist go over the top. They hopefully up the ante’ ten fold with his kung fu escapades when we see him next. That being said we definitely DON’T need anymore rich white superheroes. Or anymore weatlhy superheroes for that matter. Let Rand be the last of em’. I’m glad they chose to go with a character based more on his comic book counterpart, I think it was a good choice and it raised some good controversial conversations that perhaps needed to happen in the ever changing spectrum of modern pop culture. Again we also see some pretty piss poor villains, why can’t Marvel get this shit right? This “street level realism” is getting a bit old, bring out some crazy costumed villains already. Even the movies suffer from this, The shows are the perfect place to build excellent villains, they have the time to develop them and I’m not quite sure what Marvel is afraid of. They did a good job with the Kingpin, tried their best with the Purple Man but still they were too afraid to make the guy actually purple!
I also don’t see the show as ‘racist’ after viewing it thus far and I think that whole aspect of things was way blown out of proportion by critics. Iron Fist is proof if anything that Marvel needs a new formula, if they go for a season two with Iron Fist I’ve got a feeling it’ll be quite different with all the flaws everyone has been pointing out. Let’s hope the Defenders brings something truly unique to the table…
It’s a hot topic here the past couple days surrounding the upcoming Netflix series ‘Iron Fist’ online. The series starring Finn Jones as the legendary kung fu playboy vigilante has come under fire for it’s supposed racist roots and just plain shitty all around reviews. It’s been slammed pretty hard by the critics calling it “boring” and “racially uncomfortable” with it’s white male lead. Apparently Finn Jones shut down his Twitter because of the online backlash from people who’re calling him out personally as part of the problem.
Now I’m not sure whether the show really sucks or not, I haven’t seen it. I’m curious to see if it’s indeed as bad as critics are saying or if perhaps this racial controversy is really the root of all the negative reviews. I thought the previews looked ok but the whole set up looks a bit too familiar. The problem seems that people are upset that the character, who is a white male in the original comic books, should have been recast and played by an Asian actor in the new series. Then it was stated that many were against the idea of a recast because having an Asian actor in the role of the “martial arts guy” played too strongly into racial stereotypes. A bit of a double edged sword it seems. Continue reading
Holy Hell! I’ve got to make some time here to give some props to Hugh Jackman’s “last” run as Wolverine! I know everyone and their mom, dad & parakeet are talking about how great this movie is and yeah I agree it’s a glorious final chapter. They finally took the gloves off and let Wolverine be Wolverine. I find it funny how damn long it takes Hollywood to figure out what us comic book fanatics knew way back in the year 2000. We want our Wolverine to be a savage lil’ a-hole and you just can’t really do it with a PG-13 rating. So as you know by now obviously Logan is bloody, gritty and tonally different than any of the other movies. It’s a no BS affair, it’s personal and it has real heart. There are no giant CG robots or even a weak ass version of Sabretooth anywhere in sight. Nope Wolverine here is a cussin’, drinkin’, pissed off SOB and it’s great to finally see him the way he was more or less supposed to be all along. Sure he’s older and weaker here but hey I’ll take what I can get dammit!
Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier is amazing and so is Dafne Keen’s X-23. They both nearly steal the thunder from Logan time and time again throughout the movie. By now you’ve likely heard it ALL and probably seen the movie. It’s great and I’ll see it again, soon. BUT, yes there is a but here and it needs to be addressed (SPOILERS AHEAD). My biggest problem with ‘Logan’ was it’s villain/villains. That’s not to say I didn’t dig Donald Pierce and his Reavers, they were forgettably fine but let’s be honest they could have been AMAZING. When I heard that they were going up against Wolverine in this final flick I was fucking thrilled. The Reavers could have and should have been a seriously scary force to be reckoned with.
Sure Donald Pierce had a dinky lil’ cybernetic hand but he could have been a lot more like his counterpart from the comics with four cybernetic limbs & superhuman strength. They failed to make him a truly deadly opponent and the rest of The Reavers should have been modeled after the legendary comic book team. Imagine the original Reavers with an even deadlier Lady Deathstrike back again looking more like comic book counterpart. It should have been Logan and co taking on serious threats more similar to ‘The Terminator’. That would have been amazing. They missed an opportunity to really bring us the psychotic cyborgs we deserved to see. They gave us a lot of throwaway soldiers for him and x-23 to mow down sure, but none of them served any other purpose than just that.
The real threat here was X-24, a villain that to me felt as about exciting as “Deadpool” from X-men Origins: Wolverine. I was really disappointed to see a Hugh Jackman ‘clone’ as the big bad muscle of the movie. That was a serious mis-step in my opinion. I only say this because we could have gotten any number of amazing Wolverine villains in his place. Imagine for a second that their secret weapon was Omega Red?! Or Cyber? Daken? Razorfist? Heck even a bigger badder version of Sabretooth would have been welcome.
My point being we really didn’t need any of them, we already had Donald Pierce and The Reavers. They could have supplied us with all sorts of frightening cybernetic mayhem. Instead they went the overused “fight your clone / fight yourself” route. Ahhh well what can I say, I am a picky comic book bastard. It just irritates me that they got so close to me having to just shut the fuck up and admit perfection. At least they finally got ol’ Wolvie right. It took them seventeen years to figure it all out and I’m damn glad they did. This is clearly a groundbreaking movie that’ll change the way comic book movies are made from this point on. Don’t get me wrong I give ‘Logan’ a solid A-, but in the future though let’s give the same care to the villains as we do to the heroes cuz a hero’s only as good as his villain! Oh yeah one more thing I highly doubt this is the last time we’ll see Mr. Jackman in the role of Logan, this movie is a box office smash and we all know money talks…why stop now anyway when you finally figured it all out?!!