Technically—if I were speaking that word aloud instead of typing it, I’d draw it out. “Teeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeh-ch-ni-ca-llleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee”—it was a tie. Godzilla, back when the character was licensed to Marvel in the late 70s, took on the Avengers. And the Fantastic Four. And SHIELD. He would’ve taken on Spider-man, too, but Spidey was late to the party. And combined might of those vaunted heroes failed to take down the big gray-green titan, which—as a lifelong Godzilla fan, I must attest—is how it should be. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes DID manage (with help from some kid) to convince Godzilla to take a hike. Or maybe Big G just got bored. Either way, there was no clear-cut victor. Superhero fans could hold their heads high after the fight (which took place in issue 24 of Godzilla’s Marvel series) and the Godzilla faithful felt satisfied, too. Sure, there were grousers, and there still are. “The Avengers should’a won!” or “Godzilla would’a totally fried ‘em all!” But neither of those could happen.

Marvel didn’t OWN Godzilla, see. They were just renting him. As part of their agreement with Toho Studios, they had to treat the King of the Monsters with all due reverence. They couldn’t depict him getting his scaly hide handed to him by a bunch of costumed do-gooders. Neither was Marvel about to let their top characters—ALL of them—get schooled by any giant monster, not even the greatest of them all. After the rights for the Godzilla character reverted to Toho, Marvel did pull a sneaky and have a giant green beastie show up, one that looked and acted an awful lot like Godzilla but was never mentioned by name, and then they had this faux-zilla get its arse kicked. That fight wasn’t canon, though, and it wasn’t reeeeeeeeeeeally Godzilla.


Looks like the rumors were true. Sorta. DC has taken notice of declining sales figures and grousing, increasing in volume, from its hardcore faithful readership, and is now willing to admit—sorta—that the “new 52” has been a failure. Sure, it snagged plenty of attention at the outset. But as the new series all plodded on, fans soon began to pine for the good ol’ days when Superman wore red underwear (with yellow belt) over his blue suit, and Barbara Gordon was paralyzed from being shot by the Joker in the classic THE KILLING JOKE graphic novel. If the New 52 was DC’s attempt at having an Ultimate version of their universe, ala Marvel, then it came to an end much quicker than did the latter “reimagining.” Sorta.

Geoff Johns, the Chief Creative Officer over at DC, has promised that its upcoming event, REBIRTH, is NOT a reboot. However, he states that the event will restore the “legacy” of the DC Universe, giving back those elements that fans have been missing. Personally I suspect the hesitance to call it a “reboot” has to do with fan fatigue connected with the term in general, as REBIRTH certainly fits all the criteria, by definition, of a reboot. They aren’t throwing away EVERYthing from the New 52, though, but splicing back into the fabric enough of the “classic” DC Universe to appease longtime fans while hanging onto the new ones they acquired via their LAST reboot. Just how much will the new DC resemble the old, and arguably better, one? (I admit I hope to
see the return of Superman’s red underwear. But that’s just me.)


It’s deliciously appropriate that Deadpool would be the one to do this. The movie bearing his name just destroyed all expectations—these based off the flawless “system” employed by simpleminded studio executives to predict whether or not a movie project will be successful, and just how successful it will be—by opening to a bigger box office than had been predicted. How much bigger? Oh, 75 to 100 million, depending on which projection we’re talking about. For the record, DEADPOOL was the highest grossing R-rated motion picture EVER, had the largest single opening day for an R-rated film EVER, the biggest opening in February ever (this last one isn’t THAT impressive, since all it had do was top FIFTY SHADES OF CRAP), and the biggest opening weekend for Fox Studios EVER, beating STAR WARS EPISODE THREE: REVENGE OF THE SITH. Not bad for a flick nobody (but its star) wanted to make.

Why was the movie such a smash? I credit three factors. Ryan Reynolds has never been a great thespian, but he is rock solid in this role; Deadpool is custom-made for him. Also, it’s February. The cinema is typically devoid of tasty geek fare in February, excepting the big holiday movies that are still playing but everybody has seen already. Lastly, because it’s Deadpool. The character is just plain loveable. He’s come a long, long way from the days of his inception, when he was a cheesy rip-off of Spider-Man named after the lamest of the Dirty Harry movies. When did he become so original? When they decided to make him crazy. Crazy is loveable, peeps. Crazy sells.

No, I didn’t watch it. I have never watched it, and, unless someone ties me down and pins my eyelids open, like they did to Malcolm McDowell in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, and plop me down in front of a television at the prescribed time, I will NEVER watch it. There are only six people in the continental United States who don’t like or watch the (so-called) Super Bowl. Your intrepid reporter is two of those; I hate football that much. (Sports in general, really.) Yes, I am male. Yes, I am heterosexual. Yes, I know I am an anomaly. I never even tuned in just to watch the commercials, which a lot of non-football fans do. If I hear of a commercial that interests me, I just google it. Which is how I saw the ad featuring the Incredible Hulk and Ant-Man.

Kudos to Coke for the best 30 seconds of the night. No, I haven’t seen all the commercials. I don’t have to. I KNOW the Hulk vs. Ant-Man commercial was the best. The ad for CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR came in a close second. I’m still too trepidatious about the BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN flick to get too excited over the trailers. The Coke ad was funny. It prominently featured two of the most popular characters in Comic cinema today. And best of all, it had nothing to do with sports. It just happened to air during a sporting event, one which, as I have told you, I did not see but you probably did. That means you’ve probably seen the commercial, too. You probably saw it before I did, and laughed at it before I did. But you know what they say, “He who laughs last . . .”


Bruce Banner himself has officially confirmed it. There will be no standalone Incredible Hulk movies anytime soon. It has nothing to do with the fact that the last such film, 2008’s THE INCREDIBLE HULK, was not a ratings monster. And it has even less to do with Ang Lee’s dysfunctional 2003 HULK, which was really a remake of KING KONG if Kong were hairless and green. Marvel could easily overcome such past failures these days. Look at the hype the new Spider-Man movie is getting, fresh on the heels of the tacky and terrible AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2. Just the fact that it would be a Marvel movie, produced by Marvel Studios, would be enough to get people into the theater to see it. No, Marvel won’t give us another standalone Hulk film because they don’t want to share.

Back before Marvel Studios became such a box-office juggernaut and before Disney bought the big M and made it even more of a force to be reckoned with, Marvel farmed out a lot of their properties, and Universal still owns the rights to any standalone film. They do not, however, have any claim on the Hulk character. That’s why Marvel is going to put the Green Goliath in a bunch of its upcoming films. He’ll just have to share the screen with other prominent Marvel characters, is all. Which, come to think of it, is not in any way a bad thing.


That didn’t take long. Oh, I suppose it was always part of writer Nick Spencer’s plan to have TWO Captains America, one black and one white. In fact I’m pretty sure it WAS his plan, as the scenario offers lots of potential story ideas. Two guys running around with the same superhero name, two guys that don’t see eye to eye politically, one of them black and one of them white. Yeah, I can see that, sure. But I am skeptical that it was Spencer’s idea to bring Steve back from his geriatric retirement (He devolved to his natural age after the Super Soldier Serum was leached from his body by a villain.) quite so soon. I expect a force greater than a writer’s outline is at work here. The big “S.” Sales.

As interesting as the story arc with Sam Wilson subbing for Cap might be, it’s still just that. Sam subbing for Steve. Steve Rogers is Captain America, regardless of who else might wear the costume and wield the shield. Readers want Steve, and Marvel is gonna give him to them. But they’re also going to keep the substitute Cap story going, so fans get to have their red, white, and blue cake and eat it, too. My only complaint is that I don’t care for the new costume they have for Steve. Granted it isn’t radically different, but the one the Falcon is sporting right now is a far cry from the traditional Cap costume, so why not just have Steve go back to that one? And what is up with that shield?

Remember the 90’s? If so, if you’re a comics fan, I’m sorry. I sympathize. It was a bleak, depressing time, a time perfectly defined and symbolized by Image Comics. Not the Image that’s still around today. Back then the company was a different sort of animal. Basically what happened, for you Millennials who missed it, is this: a bunch of Marvel’s hotshot artists, pissed off at the House of Ideas, broke away and started their own company, where they would enjoy full autonomy. Which sounds well and good, but the problem with a complete lack of regulation is that there’s nobody around to tell you “no.” The artists thought they could write their own comics, featuring characters they themselves created. Again, sounds good. But those “original” characters were by and large blatant rip-offs of Marvel characters and those artists couldn’t write their ways out of paper bags. Image ended up signifying the low-water mark of the comics industry, producing some of the worst comic books ever printed.

Why would I dredge up this unpleasant history? Only to make a point. Neal Adams is one of the greatest artists in comics history. I love his work. But he is not a writer. When he got to write his own Batman series, it was gorgeous to look at but at times painful to read. And now they’ve given him Superman to play with. Oy. I HOPE he’s gotten better at it. We’ll see.


I am major stoked over this one. CIVIL WAR remains one of my favorite comics epics of recent years, and this follow-up seems poised to be just as awesome and just as important. The original story really changed comic books, the way that Alan Moore’s WATCHMEN changed comics two decades before it. It forced us all to stop seeing just bright-colored pictures of people in outlandish costumes doing fantastical things and instead look at the comics medium with a serious eye, showing that comics can and should address serious matters. The central question it raised—to what extent should superheroes be overseen and controlled by the government—is a genie out of its bottle. Never again can a superhero wage his/her war against crime without it rearing its head. Never again will such benign super-powered vigilantism be accepted de facto. The funny papers, like the issue itself, aren’t just black and white anymore.

This new storyline looks to be just as highbrow in concept, asking another difficult question: If precognition were possible, is it morally justifiable to act to prevent a crime before it is committed, by taking action against the criminal? Written by Brian Michael Bendis, the man who, more than any other, has done his part to forge the modern Marvel Universe, it’s guaranteed to be good. And I’m excited that Iron Man gets to be the good guy this time!

Guess I just gave away whose side I was on last time, didn’t I, and whose side I’m on this time?


The writer of this linked article, Donna Dickens, wins today’s S.T.F.U. award. Get your britches out of a twist, woman. Your argument is silly. Taking Marvel Studios to task for “whitewashing?” Suggesting that it is perfectly acceptable for Marvel to cast black actors, or Asians, or whatever, in roles of characters that are established as being Caucasian, but deriding any attempt to do it the other way around, when no one has been doing that? Grousing that the story of DR. STRANGE is that of “yet another rich white man finding superpowers.” No doubt you’ll find something to whine about when BLACK PANTHER gets his own movie. He probably won’t be “black” enough to suit you.

What has Dickens and her ilk so riled up? In the comics, the “Ancient One,” the character from whom DR. STRANGE obtains his secret knowledge, was depicted as Asian. Looking back at those stories from the 1960s, Marvel Studios recognized that, by today’s standards, those depictions could be seen as stereotypical. Thus they decided to change the character, making the Ancient One a woman instead. Oh, but they went and cast a WHITE woman! That’s the problem. Now the PC sentinels like Ms. Dickens are squealin’ like gutshot hogs, whereas, if the actress cast in the role had been black or Asian, they would have said nary a word. Making such an issue out of skin color is a sort of reversed racism. We as a species can only be truly without prejudice when skin pigmentation no longer matters at all. Sadly, people like the PC Police, despite their good intentions, are doing their part to prevent us from reaching that state.


Stanley Lieber, more commonly known by his pen name, Stan Lee, really needs no introduction, does he? If you are reading this post, you know who he is. Join me, then, in singing his praises, and in wishing him a happy birthday. Seven years shy of being a centenarian, Stan “The Man” is living proof that cool has no age limit. The word “legend” falls short. The world of Comics, and now the world of Cinema also—I would argue the entire world of popular culture, and even Culture in general, as the man’s work really is that prevalent—as we know it/them would not exist today if not for Stan Lee.

Spider-Man. The Fantastic Four. The X-Men. Iron Man. The Incredible Hulk. The Avengers. Daredevil. These are just a sampling of your many creations, the progeny of your fertile imagination. The highbrows can no longer dismiss you as just “that comic book guy.” Your mark on civilization is too evident, your effect too pervasive. Thou hast conquered, Lieber! If your legacy doesn’t meet the snooty definition of “Art,” as some nimrods would suggest, you have simply redefined the word. A modern-day Homer or Ovid, weaving a new mythology; such is the stuff of which icons are made. In short, Stan, you rock. Happy birthday, and may you have many more!