Infinity War – Trailer Breakdown

So last week the Infinity War trailer dropped and I personally watched it about 6 times in 1 hour. I was blown away with it! Everything that Marvel has been leading up to since the introduction of Iron Man in 2008 has led to this. We know it’s going to be a 2 part movie and that it will forever change the MCU and the Avengers as we know them.

For those who haven’t seen that trailer here it is for your quick reference…

 

Let’s Dive into what this means!

First things first… We see a planet, not sure if it’s Earth or some distant battlefield, but the storms in the atmosphere do not look inviting.

“There was an idea… to bring together a group of remarkable people… to see if we could become something more…so when they needed us, we could fight the battles… that they never could.”

This speech is delivered by various members of the original and expanded roster of Avengers, starting with Nick Fury and ending with Black Widow. Interesting point is that the Hickman run for Avengers in MarvelNow! started out  with a speech almost identical.

While the speech is going on, we are treated to a defeated Tony Stark clutching what looks like a gauntleted hand and rocking back and forth, then it flashes to Bruce Banner at the bottom of a hole in the Sanctum Sanctorum with Dr. Strange and Wong looking on prepared for battle. We also see a regular looking Vision opening the curtains in a room he shares with Scarlet Witch, the mind stone gleaming yellow in his forehead. We flash to a shot of Thor staring at what appear to be screens depicting the nine realms or worlds of some kind. The final line is delivered by Black Widow who is now blonde and in Wakanda with Banner and what appears to be the gauntlet from the Hulkbuster armour.

The Marvel Studios banner flashes across the screen accompanied by the original Avengers theme (which gave me chills).

Another speech begins by Josh Brolin (Thanos) as he postulates what the Avengers will feel when they finally lose and destiny arrives for them. Peter Parker is on a bus and the camera zooms in on his arm as his hairs all stand up and he gets goosebumps signifying his spider sense has finally manifested. We are greeted by scenes of destruction and of a giant Startgate looking ring in the air above New York. One scene that stands out is Loki walking over what can only be assumed as bodies of dead Asgardians and handing over the Tesseract to someone. Then we finally see him in all his glory… Thanos steps through a portal and begins looking around and smirks.

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We finally see the Iron Spider suit in all it’s glory and glowing blue eyes and he lands on the Stargate looking thing. While the Black Panther begins issuing orders to what is assumed as the generals of Wakanda.

Thor is seen trying to rip apart the Stargate looking device and we are given the briefest of glimpses of Proxima Midnight (one of Thanos’ children) as she hurls a spear at a man in shadows. The man moves to the side and catches the spear only to walk into the light and be revealed as a beautifully bearded Captain America. As the spear is caught the trailer shows us a scene of T’Challa (Black Panther) pointing to someone off screen and saying ” …and somebody get this man a shield”. Flash to the reconstructed Hulkbuster, Black Widow stabbing a foe and some sort of monoliths descending onto earth. Intermingling shots of a massive battle in Wakanda with Thanos choke slamming Spider-Man and Iron Man looking on helplessly. We see the weapon of Corvus Glaive (One of Thanos’ children) as it attempts to rip the mind stone from Vision’s head, while Thanos slots an Infinity stone into the gauntlet, revealing he has the Power stone and the Space stone (Tesseract). Thanos then proceeds to bitch slap Iron man into the ground and we are shown a fully armed Bucky (sans Russian Star on his arm) leading what appears to be Wakandan soldiers.

Falcon is shown performing a strike run on the attacking army and what looks to be Cull Obsidian (another one of Thanos’ children) and his attacking army of Outriders. We see the Wakandan army charging forward to meet the army of outriders and the final shot shows us Captain America (sans Shield or star on his chest) leading a charge of the heroes in the battle for Wakanda. The heroes present in the final scene are Captain America (probably going by Nomad), Black Widow, Winter Soldier, Black Panther, Hulk, Falcon, War Machine, and Shu’ri who is one of T’Challa’s bodyguards and his sister.

The trailer ends with the original Avengers Theme playing over the revolving A, and Thor meeting the Guardians of the Galaxy.

WHAT THIS MEANS

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Death. uncompromising, unaltered death.

So from the press release at D23 and the leaked footage and the trailer we know that the Cull Obsidian will play a huge role. In the marvel comics the Cull Obsidian (Black Order) are Thanos’ generals for his army. For the movie they removed the name and they are merely Thanos’ children, like Gamora and Nebula. The children of Thanos that we are introduced to this movie are: Corvus Glaive, Proxima Midnight, Black Dwarf (called Cull Obsidian in the movie) and Ebony Maw. The only member that has not been revealed for the movie is Supergiant though I speculate she will appear in the next one as the “cavalry” for Thanos.

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So this movie is going to be the first to feature all of the Marvel characters together (minus the Netflix series characters) and it is going to be epic! Now… we know that Captain America will at least make it to the next movie, because Chris Evans signed on for Avengers 4; however, RDJ’s contract is up as is Chris Hemsworth’s. meaning two of the biggest hitters on the team could die. Obviously contracts can be negotiated and extended based on popularity… looking at you RDJ; but, Kevin Feige has repeatedly said that these two movies, Infinity War and it’s direct sequel, will change the entire roster of the Avengers as we know it.

I have been asked by several poeple what the four armed aliens are. Those are the Outriders. Typically they are used as reconnaissance agents as they can go invisible and produce very little sound. During Infinity, Thanos uses them to recon Earth before he attacks with his armies once most of the Avengers were off world fighting the Builders. Thanos controls an entire army of the outriders as well as army of other various species which he uses in his conquest of other worlds.

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THE INFINITY GAUNTLET

Alright so in this movie we know Thanos will have an Infinity gauntlet and that he will be placing the various stones into it. We know the Tesseract was stolen by Loki before Asgard fell, the Orb (Power stone) was in the hands of the Nova Corps, the Mind Stone is in Vision’s forehead, the Time Stone is in the Sanctum Sanctorum and the Reality Stone is in the hands of the Collector. The only stone unaccounted for is the Soul Stone which I believe to be in Heimdall.

For my previous rundown of the Infinity Stones and their Locations click here:

https://comicfan9812.wordpress.com/2017/10/05/infinity-stone-rundown-locations-and-powers/

Without getting into too much detail of what each stones does itself and when joined with the others, it’s not good. Especially when someone like Thanos is the one using them.

I honestly think this is going to be the best Marvel movie ever made! I know that Age of Ultron wasn’t the best received of the MCU but it was a solid sequel to the original Avengers. The problem that Marvel has that they kill all their villains too early, like they did with Ultron (supposedly… I’m holding out for Vision having taken pity on him and teleported him somewhere else). Ultron is probably, besides Thanos, the biggest threat the Avengers can face and in some ways he’s even more of a threat. Thanos is a brilliant tactician and general, but he is basically a big guy who hits really and can take a beating. Ultron is a super advanced AI that is constantly evolving and has no emotion and definitely no compassion for humanity. Every plan the Avengers could think of, Ultron was three steps ahead, and had backup plans for his back up plans.

I will confess that with the talks recently about Fox being purchased by Disney… I wish they could’ve waited to include the Fantastic Four or at the very least Wolverine, into the MCU and this movie. Like my grandma always said “beggars can’t be choosers”.

This concludes another post for Multiverse9812! Next week I will be doing a review/breakdown of the Jurassic Park Forbidden Kingdom trailer that’s due out this Thursday!

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Most Underrated Heroes Vol.5 – Daredevil

This month for my underrated Hero I decided to take a step back from anti-heroes and their magical kin and focus more on one of the most tortured heroes in Marvel comics, Daredevil.

Daredevil shot to popularity with his introduction in and starting off the Marvel Netflix universe. While the series does a great job of explaining the character’s origins and motivations they really skimp on some of his greatest stories. It still stands at the top of my list for Netflix shows even with the inclusion of the Punisher, which is saying something considering my love of anti-heroes.

Time to dive into the background of the Man Without Fear!!

HISTORY

*There are SEVERAL retcons of Daredevil’s Origin. This will be an amalgamation of all the important aspects*

Daredevil first appeared in Daredevil #1 (April,1964) and was created by Stan Lee, artist Bill Everett with some notable input from Jack Kirby.

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Matthew Michael Murdock was born to his father Jack “Battlin” Murdock a washed up boxer living in Hell’s Kitchen, New York. It is not revealed who Matt’s mother is until much later in the comics, all he knew was that she didn’t want him. From a young age Matt’s dad urged him towards schooling and being a good student so that he could make something of himself and not end up like he did. Eventually Jack is forced back into the ring as a way to make money for them to survive, when he returns home Matt stitches up his wound after every fight.

When Matt was 9 years old he saved an elderly man, who had stepped out into the street, from getting run over by a RAND Oil & Chemicals truck; which in turn caused an accident. Some of the chemicals splashed into his eyes and the last thing he ever saw was his father comforting him as his vision blurred until he was blind. When he awoke in the hospital after the accident he was amazed that he could hear everything in the world around him. It became to much and started causing him pain. His father attempted to calm him down by allowing Matt to run his hands over his face letting him know that his dad was there for him. Matt learned to read braille and dove into this studies. He kept his new found senses from everyone including his dad for fear of being outcast even more.

While his father continued to train at Fogwell’s gym, Matt studied ringside. He overheard his father being offered a large sum of money to lose his upcoming fight with Carl Creel. Matt’s father had taken the money given to him to throw the fight and bet it on himself to win. When he emerged victorious he put a plan in place to ensure that Matt would have the money for when he went to school before he was murdered by the mobsters who paid him to throw the fight. Matt found his father beaten to death in the street in front of Fogwell’s gym. Matt was sent to Saint Agnes orphanage where he was found by Stick and trained to become a warrior. Matt quickly mastered his blindness and began using his other senses to aid him in battle.

Enraged by the legal system’s inadequacies in bringing his father’s killers to justice, Matt donned a costume made from his father’s boxing robe and attacked the Fixer (man responsible for his father’s death) and his goons. Matt savagely beat the goons and frightened the Fixer to death under the guise of Daredevil.

Matt then proceeded to open a law firm with his long time friend Franklin “Foggy” Nelson whom he had met, studied and roomed with at Columbia Law. It was during his studies at Columbia Law that he met and became enamoured with Elektra Natchios. Elektra encouraged Matt to “break the rules” which almost cost him some credits he needed to graduate.

Nelson & Murdock opened in Hell’s Kitchen and began serving the working class citizens to hopefully get them the justice they deserve.  Matt vowed to fight for the people and get the justice they deserve during the day but at night he would fight as Daredevil to take down those beyond the grasp of the law.

SHADOWLAND

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One of Daredevil’s biggest stories in the last 20 years was the 9 issue run titled Shadowland. Matt had journeyed to Japan in hopes of learning the secret of the Hand and form them into a force for good. When he gains control of the Hand he returns to New York with his army of undead ninjas and erects a temple/prison in the middle of the demolished Hell’s Kitchen. During the Dark Reign arc Bullseye had leveled much of Hell’s Kitchen in an attempt to kill Daredevil, obviously it didn’t work.

So Daredevil brings the Hand to New York but not before the leaders of the Hand (Snakeroot) infect Daredevil with the essence of the Beast (yes, just go with it). Daredevil and his army begin by policing the kitchen and taking the criminals down to the prison beneath Shadowland. As the beast begins taking Daredevil over more and more, he begins allowing more  brutal tactics until his ninjas are straight up murdering people in the streets. Bullseye escaped from his transport to the Raft (prison) and decided to kill Daredevil once and for all. When Bullseye challenges Daredevil we see the new suit that Daredevil is sporting which is all black, with a red “DD” symbol on the chest and blades on his wrists. They fight for some time before Luke Cage and Iron Fist stumble upon them. The Heroes for Hire offer to help but Daredevil asks them ” Are you prepared to swear allegiance to the Hand for all of eternity?”. When they respond with a resounding “No” Daredevil tells them to stay out of his way and then proceeds to break both of Bullseye’s arms before stabbing him through the chest with his own sai (a homage to how Bullseye murdered Elektra).

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Several of the street level heroes band together and raid the temple of Shadowland to hopefully bring Daredevil to justice. The raid team consists of: Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Moon Knight, Spider-Man, Ghost Rider (eventually), Punisher (eventually), Shang Chi, Misty Knight, and Silver Sable. The battle does not go the way the heroes want and when Ghost Rider arrives (after bring summoned by Kingpin and Lady Bullseye to fight the beast) things really go haywire. With the heroes backed against the wall and the Hand closing in Punisher blows an exit and tells everyone to move out while he opens up with a M240 LMG.

The heroes resolve to try again while the Thunderbolts are occupying most of the Hand underneath Shadowland. This time they are accompanied by Elektra and Wolverine. When the heroes are able to subdue Daredevil, Elektra tries to reason with Murdock, but the voice that comes from his mouth isn’t Matt’s and it proclaims “There is no Murdock! Only the Beast!”. He then breaks out of the webbing covering him and lays a serious beat down on the heroes. Foggy arrives and tries to reason with Matt, when the Demon decides to kill Foggy (the power of the Beast having caused Daredevil to take on a more demonic shape), Iron Fist focuses his Chi and hits Daredevil with a massive blast. This allows Matt to temporarily regain control of his body and reflect on everything he has done in his life and everything the beast has caused him to do. Before the Beast regains control, Daredevil kills himself breaking the spell and killing the Beast once again.  As the heroes gather themselves they realize that Daredevil’s body is gone and Kingpin uses Typhoid Mary to take over the Hand and become it’s new leader.

A man enters a confessional in a Catholic church claiming that he is lost and Black Panther has claimed Hell’s Kitchen as his turf. Murdock is shown getting off a bus in rural America and begins walking.

DAREDEVIL: REBORN

Following Shadowland, Murdock has ventured into Mexico and ends up at a diner outside of a small Mexican town where a young boy is being bullied for being blind. Matt takes pity o the boy and helps him to fend off his bullies while offering him some wisdom about coping with his disability. When the local police show up and are hostile towards Matt, his curiosity is piqued.

Matt follows the police to the outskirts of town and discovers a mass grave filled with locals and crates of weapons. Upon further investigation Murdock discovers that the police are working with a drug smuggler name Calavera. Murdock decides to interrupt their operations and dons his classic Man in black outfit.

Calavera is a metahuman with the ability to telepathically draw out and exploit anything that a person feels guilty for or; as they explain in the comic, exploit their sins. With Murdock being forced to relive every sin he has ever committed he becomes resolute that his actions were necessary. He becomes reassured in his beliefs and his responsibilities to the people of the Kitchen and upon defeating Calavera decides to return to New York and rebuild his law practice as well as his life as Daredevil.

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POWERS & ABILITIES

Daredevil is blind. He was blinded at the age of 9 when the chemicals from the Rand truck spilled in his eyes.

Due to the chemicals he developed a radar sense (echolocation). In addition to his radar sense his other remaining senses now function at superhuman levels and accuracy.  His radar sense is strong enough that fabrics and most walls do not stop him from being able to see through them. He also has omnidirectional vision because of his radar sense.

He is able to use his hearing as a polygraph which helps him to determine if a person is lying, this ability can be fooled and is not 100% accurate.

He is able to detect environmental changes created by teleporters making him able to react to a person’s teleporting ability before they can get the drop on him.

Having been trained by Stick he is a master of most martial arts and close combat techniques. He doesn’t focus on one discipline to fight, instead he uses various disciplines at once including: Ninjitsu, Aiki, Jujutsu, Aikido, Judo, Karate, Kung Fu, Silat, Capoeira, wrestling, stick fighting, and American Style boxing.

Daredevil’s main weapon is his billy club. It disguises as his walking stick during the day but it also conceals a grappling hook and can be separated into two pieces for combat. He is an expert marksman and can throw almost anything with 100% accuracy.

REASONS THEY’RE UNDERRATED

Where do I even start… well how about with HE IS A BLIND SUPERHERO! In a world filled with people getting powers from aliens, literal Gods fighting beside you, and Super soldier experiments leading the charge, Daredevil has a disability. He is not able to see like everyone else. Yes, his radar sense actually let’s him see better than some people can normally, but there are not many heroes that were given their powers while losing something that most people take for granted.

When Stan Lee first created him, he was worried that Marvel would receive backlash from how far he had said Daredevil’s other senses were enhanced. He received a great amount of support from people writing him telling him how much they loved Daredevil, and he even received a letter from The Lighthouse For the Blind which stated that the blind people they helped loved having Daredevil read to them. Daredevil helped to show the masses that just because you have a disability doesn’t mean you can’t be whoever you want to be.

Most characters in the Marvel Universe overlook Daredevil because in their eyes he has no real powers, but this is a guy who has fought and beat Iron fist, Shang Chi and Black Widow; all of whom are reputed to be some of the BEST fighters in Marvel Comics.

Mostly though the reason Daredevil is underrated is because he is one of the more human characters. There are obviously human characters in Marvel comics but Daredevil is one of the few who is actually unsure about his place in the world. He is probably the most conflicted and tortured character in Marvel comics, with both his resounding catholic faith and his job as a Lawyer. For someone who is as religious as he is and who constantly goes to confession, wearing a red devil suit and beating on people at night seems pretty contradictory. The Netflix show illustrates this conflict really well especially in the first season. He has quite a few good discussions with the local priest about what he does and whether or not it is God’s work. During season 2 though, is when he has the infamous philosophical debate with Frank Castle. That episode really illustrated how sometimes there is no black or white and there is only a big muddy grey.

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I really think Daredevil should get some bigger roles in the events that take place in Marvel comics. He had a small part in the Civil War story wherein he called Tony “Judas” before being incarcerated in 42 (the negative zone prison for super powered beings). Like I said his biggest event was that of Shadowland, and that wasn’t the most well received story arc for him. He really deserves a better chance to sine and show that he is just as capable as any other hero to fight the good fight.

This concludes another week of Underrated Heroes! Let me know what you think! See you all next week.

Most Underrated Heroes: Vol.2 – Red Hood

Time for volume 2 of the most underrated heroes! This months addition is none other than the anti-hero Red Hood.

For those unfamiliar with the Bat-family and the succession of Robins, Red Hood is the persona adopted by the second Robin, Jason Todd, after he was murdered by the Joker and subsequently resurrected. Red Hood is one of the title characters in Red Hood and the Outlaws and has held various titles throughout his comic publication.

HISTORY

The Pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths origin for Jason Todd is that he was son of Acrobats Joseph and Trina Todd who were killed during their show by Killer Croc. Jason had strawberry blond hair and was a basic carbon copy of Dick Grayson; even going so far as to wear different pieces of Dick’s old disguises before being presented with a Robin costume by Dick himself. Following the Crisis on Infinite Earths event DC Comics took this opportunity to re-write and re-brand large portions of their continuity to coincide with their new direction for publication. This new direction is where we get the origin for Jason that has been dubbed the “official” origin.

After Dick had become a fully fledged member of the Teen Titans and left Bruce to pursue leadership of that team full time, Batman was on his own. One night while on patrol in Park Row (Crime Alley), Batman was returning to the Batmobile and he discovered the wheels had been removed by a young boy who was attempting to steal them. Bruce sees that he is enrolled in a school for troubled boys which falls through, Bruce eventually adopts the boy and trains him as Robin after Jason helps him stop a gang of thieves. After six months of training and tutelage Jason is given his own Robin costume and begins his nightly patrols with Batman.

During the revamp period Todd was painted the outcast/rebel Robin. He defied authority, smoked, swore, and used excessive violence. There have been several instances where he defied Batman specifically: going after Scarecrow alone and bringing him in, jumping the gun on a botched drug ring raid, and the death of serial rapist Felipe Garzonas. Leading up to the death of Garzonas, Todd had been using increasing levels of force to one point where he breaks the arm of a pimp about to slash one of his working girls.

The death of Felipe Garzonas marks the point where Batman began to realize the mistake he had made with  Jason. Garzonas was a serial rapist who was protected legally by his father’s diplomatic immunity. When a young girl named Gloria hangs herself to avoid being raped a third time by Garzonas, Todd finds her body before Batman and makes a beeline for Garzonas. Todd chases Garzonas up onto the 22nd story of a building and Batman arrives in time to see Garzonas fall the 22 stories to his death, with Robin standing at the ledge. When confronted about it Todd says that he “…didn’t push him and that he must’ve spooked him and Garzonas slipped”, before Todd could catch him, he fell to his death.

 

DEATH

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The death of Jason Todd is one of the biggest events in all of Batman comics. Titled A Death in the Family the story follows Todd’s quest for the truth and his subsequent end at the hands of the Joker.  When Todd his side lined for excessive force and disobeying orders he leaves the Batcave to walk around his old neighbourhood. While on his walk he is flagged down by a woman who used to live beside him and his parents, she hands him a box of things and among them is his birth certificate. The certificate is badly damaged by the name of his mother begins with an “S” proving the woman he grew up calling mother was not his biological mother. Todd utilizes the Batcomputer along with an old address book of his father’s that was also in the box to narrow down the number of potential women to three. Jason then runs away to try and find his birth mother. After striking out with the first 2 women Batman finds Jason in Israel where they encounter the Joker who has been named a member of the Israeli government and now has diplomatic immunity. Jason then tracks the final woman, Shelia, to Ethiopia where she runs a clinic. Todd is overjoyed to have finally found his mother but his mother is being blackmailed by the Joker to provide him with medical supplies. It is later revealed that Todd’s mother was responsible for an illegal clinic and experimentation on young women in Gotham and fled to Ethiopia to avoid charges. She hands her son over to the Joker, in hopes of getting out from under his thumb. Joker ties up Shelia and forces her to watch as he beats Todd with a crowbar and leaves him within an inch of his life. Joker then ties up Todd and leaves him and his mother locked in a warehouse with a time bomb. They try to get out of the warehouse but remain trapped as the timer ticks down, in a final effort to save his mother, Jason leaps on the bomb to try and shield some of the blast with his body. Batman arrives too late to save them and Shelia dies in Batman’s arms after confessing what she had done. Batman buries Jason and keeps his uniform in a glass display case in the Batcave with an epitaph that reads “A Good Soldier”.

 

RESURRECTION

Jason remained dead for quite a few years, long enough for Tim Drake to assume the mantle of Robin. In main comic continuity his resurrection is a little odd. Basically, Superboy Prime was trapped in the paradise dimension (a dimension that borders our own). In an attempt to break through to our own dimension he repeatedly punched on the barrier blocking his way, this in turn created temporal ripples. One of these such ripples was responsible for the resurrection of Jason Todd. Todd breaks out of his coffin and wanders away from the site, he is taken to a hospital when he is discovered wandering the streets, but no connection was made that he was Jason Todd. He spent the better part of a year as a wandering amnesiac vagrant on the streets of Gotham, he was recognized for his fighting style by a street crook and the information made it’s way to Talia Al’Ghul and she swept him up and took him away. She further trained him while the League of Assassins swiftly eliminated anyone in Gotham who knew of his resurrection. Talia put him in the Lazarus pit to attempt to restore his memories, but he emerged broken and mentally unstable. He fled the League and used what funds he had secured from Talia to hook up with a Mercenary group on their way to Gotham.

In the Under the Red Hood movie the resurrection story is slightly different with Ra’as Al Ghul hiring Joker to help him in a plot. Joker goes off book and kidnaps Robin and murders him by beating him with a crowbar and them blowing him up. Ra’as then swaps out Jason’s real body at the Sarajevo morgue for a mannequin and revives Todd using the Lazarus pit. Todd kills 2 members of the League before fleeing into the night not to be seen again until he emerged in Gotham as the Red Hood.

RETURN TO GOTHAM

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After having trained for several years in various deathly arts, Red Hood plans his return to Gotham. During Hush Todd collaborates with Riddler and Hush to battle Batman. He confirms for Riddler that Bruce Wayne is indeed Batman and initially confronts Batman at his grave site during the climatic final battle of the run. He swaps out with Clayface and observes Batman from afar, when Bruce shows no regret with him sparing Joker’s life after he killed Jason, Todd is severely angered and resolves to kill Bruce. Talia then gifts him with a flame knife and his iconic red helmet.

In the Under the Red Hood story line, Jason returns under the persona of Red Hood and begins taking control over the gangs of Gotham and going to War with Black Mask. In an effort to even the odds, Mask unleashes the Joker from Arkham. Todd kidnaps the Joker and proceeds to beat him with a crowbar mirroring the way Joker had tortured him before he was murdered. In the climatic showdown with Batman and the Joker, Jason confesses to Bruce that he forgives him for not saving him, but doesn’t understand why Bruce let the Joker live. Jason tries to force Bruce to either kill him or the Joker, but Bruce saves them all and Jason disappears after that, again.

Since  his return to Gotham Jason has gone on the hold every title of the Bat-family, including Nightwing, Red Robin and Batman.

Battle for the Cowl pitted Jason Todd Batman against Tim Drake Batman and Dick Grayson Batman for the title of the one true Batman.

POWERS AND ABILITIES

Jason was trained at a young age to become Robin; as such he is an Olympic level athlete with stealth training and extensive combat training.

He was further trained by the League of Assassins as well as the All-Caste which is an organization older than the League of Assassins which trained Ra’as Al Ghul.

He is proficient with all firearms as well as most high tech weaponry and gadgets.

For all of his training Jason Todd is still just a man, a slightly unhinged and deranged man, but a man just the same.

REASONS HE IS UNDERRATED

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Red Hood is one of the few examples of characters who are too human to the point they’re no longer fictitious. If presented with the same situation most people would do the exact same thing, try and get revenge on the person who killed them and the person who they trusted to save them. I don’t mean that everyone is a vengeful, angry sociopath; but there is no denying that it is human nature to want revenge on someone that has wronged you.  As a character Jason tends to be lumped in as one of the failed sidekicks who never really amounted to anything like Garth or Speedy. I think he has a lot to offer and in the New 52 and Rebirth they have done some great arcs involving him and the rest of the Outlaws. I mean he was the Leader of the League of Assassins at one point, that takes some serious skill! Not only has he also battle Batman to a stalemate but he has done the same with Deathstroke and Ra’as Al Ghul!

Also Jason is the perfect example of a redemption story, they’ve already toyed with him and Bruce reconciling their differences for that only to have been a ruse so Bruce could bring back Damian… I like most of the Robins even the ones that are a little different, but Damian is just annoying. He needs to be taken down a peg… again. I think that Jason should be used more as someone trying to do the right thing but always having this voice in the back of their head saying it’s not enough, that he wants to be a good person but he keeps falling back into his old ways. The sad thing about Jason is that most of the rest of the Bat-Family forgive him and understand why he does what he does; but Bruce can’t seem to see it, or even if he does, he doesn’t want to deal with it.

Jason Todd is one of the characters that I think make for a very compelling story, no matter what he does, he always adds his own touch to it and that makes it awesome. I want to see him take a more active role in Rebirth and the Bat-Family as a whole!

Top 10 DC Animated Movies

With the animated movies on Netflix growing every single day, I thought I should drop what I believe to be the top 10 DC animated movies of all time. I will confess that I haven’t seen all of them (a travesty in and itself I know), but I have seen the vast majority of them. You’re not going to find any Superman titles on this list frankly because I think he is a horrible hero, but his character is essential for the League if that makes any sense.

So let’s start this list off at #10!

#10 – Justice League Gods and Monsters

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Coming in at #10 is none other than Justice League: Gods and Monsters. Taking place in  an alternate universe this movie is a great change of pace from the classic heroes we’ve grown to love. The League is only composed of the three core members: Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. Batman is no longer Bruce Wayne but Kirk Langstrom (Man-bat in normal continuity), a college student who took an experimental serum and became a vampire. Superman is now not opposed to lethal force and is no longer the son of Jor-El but that of general Zod. Wonder Woman is not the princess of Themyscira and Greek Olympian but wife of Orion son of Darkseid. The three of them operate as a kill squad and have a reputation for maximum casualties. When scientists around the US start dying and the Justice League is framed, it’s up to the trinity to clear their names and find the culprits. The movie was created by Bruce Timm who is famous for Batman the Animated Series which is probably why I enjoyed this movie as much as I did.

 

#9 – Batman: Bad Blood

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Taking the #9 spot is none other than the most recent addition to the Batman arc of the DCAU Batman: Bad Blood. The reason that this story didn’t come in higher on the list is because it falls into the same problem many big blockbuster superhero films have, too many plot lines and villains. The main villains of the film is a squad of fairly (in my opinion) B and C list Rogues along with Talia Al’Ghul and the Heretic. The movie also introduces us to Batwoman, Batwing and a VERY brief time of Dick as Batman. When Batman is missing and presumed dead after an explosion at a warehouse where he saved Batwoman, Dick must take up the mantle of the Bat and find out what is going on in Gotham city. With Batwoman, and Batwing getting 10 minute introductions, and the Heretic being the main villain of the film none of their origins are fully explored and if you miss a couple lines of dialogue then the story falls apart.  That being said the final act of the film is great and the choreography is astounding as with all the entries on this list; the only issue is the convoluted and excessive number of plot lines.

 

#8 – The Dark Knight Returns Part I & II

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There is no secret why these movies are on the list, Batman V. Superman. The reason they are lower on the list than some might put them is the one off nature that they have. Yes, they were made of a comic book from the late 80’s and it was a direct to film adaptation, but they came out around the same time the first Avengers movie came out and DC Comics had launched headlong into the New 52. The story is great, an aging Bruce Wayne retired after the death of Jason Todd. A ruthless gang called the Mutants has taken over Gotham City, and begins to terrorize the people. Batman comes out of retirement which causes problems for some villains Two-Face and Joker. The drawing style is very iconic of Frank Miller and the animation team kept as close to the source material as possible. The first part concentrates on Batman’s battle to take out the Mutant gang and the introduction of Carrie Kelly to the title of Robin. The second part is centered around the use of Superman by the US government to end conflicts and to remove stubborn superheroes who refuse to retire. The final confrontation between Batman and Superman is iconic and was a major influence for the Batman V. Superman film by Zack Snyder.

 

#7 – The Batman Vs. Dracula

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This movie is not that well known, at least among comic fans that I know. I was a huge fan of The Batman series that aired on teletoon for 5 seasons. The villains were excellently drawn and it brought a newer younger inexperienced Batman to the front. Rino Romano did excellent as the voice of Bruce Wayne and Kevin Michael Richardson added a new darker voice to an already more animalistic Joker, the series also featured Adam West as Mayor Grange. The movie takes place after the fifth season of the show but without any of Batman’s supporting cast i.e. Batgirl or Robin. The movie focuses on a young woman being pursued by Penguin through a Cemetary who accidentally awakens Dracula. Dracula then hypnotizes Penguin and turns Joker before making an army of vampires to try and take over Gotham. One of the scenes that stands out is when Batman and Joker fight in a blood bank after Joker has been turned. In order to get away with the EXCESSIVE amounts of blood, they had the lights knocked out in the film. This allowed for a pale blue light to illuminate the fight having the blood appear as a black liquid; although it was very obvious what the substance was. The movie used the exact same animation style and choreography from the show and kept all the subtle nods that made the show great.

#6 – Justice League Vs. Teen Titans

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One of the newer additions to the DCAU is Justice League Vs. Teen Titans. The movie itself is pretty generic but what sets it apart from the rest is that chemistry that is shown between the Titans. This movie introduces us to a new version of the team consisting of: Starfire, Beast Boy, Blue Beetle, Raven, and Robin (Damian). Initially Damian is placed on the team to learn to work as part of team and during his first sparring match with Blue Beetle he is horribly burned. Raven uses her magic to heal him and the team begin to bond and trust each other. The Demon Lord Trigon uses his power to take over the League and forces the Titans to combat those that they idolize while trying to find a way to stop Trigon and save the League. As with all the newer additions to the DCAU the choreography  and animation is top notch and even the limited GCI is used well. The true heart of the film comes from the carnival scene where the Titans learn to bond and become friends. The Sequel Teen Titans: The Judas Contract was good, but it wasn’t as good as this one or the rest on the list.

#5 – Justice League Crisis on Two Earth

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Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is the second DC animated movie that I ever watched, the first being Batman Beyond the Return of the Joker. This movie solidified the DC multiverse and brought some of the greatest voice actors in to voice characters. Gina Torres delivers a stellar performance as Superwoman (evil Wonder Woman), but the standout role for me was James Woods as Owlman (evil Batman). The story is that on Earth-3 the roles are reversed, the heroes are the villains and the villains are the heroes. Earth-3 Lex Luthor steals a Quantum Trigger from the Crime Syndicate (Earth-3 evil Justice League) and  teleports to Earth-1 and requests to meet the Justice League. When the League discovers he is telling the truth they agree to help him and are teleported to Earth-3. the final confrontation comes between Batman and Owlman who have both travelled to Earth Prime (the center of all reality). In the ensuing fight Batman delivers one of the most chilling lines from any DC animated movie “You’re right, we both stared into the abyss… but when it stared back at us… you blinked”. Like I said before the voice acting on this film is spectacular and the story does a great job of introducing new viewers to the extended DC multiverse.

#4 – Justice League Doom

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Justice League Doom is based on the Tower of Babel story. In this story Ras Al’Ghul breaks into the Batcave and steals plans that Batman has prepared for taking down individual members of the Justice League should they become rogue. The plans are referred to as Agamemno contingencies (in case you are curious). In the film version it is Vandal Savage and a group of villains that become the Legion of Doom who steal the plans. Savage plans to direct a massive Solar Flare to the earth cooking “2/3 at most” of the planet and becoming tyrannical leader of the remaining 1/3. In order to do this he needs the Justice League incapacitated and recruits villains from a multitude of Rogues galleries to aid him in his fight. Some of the dialogue in this film is quite exemplary and several voice actors were perfectly cast (looking at Nathan Fillion as Hal Jordan). The overall story and each individual members’ personal growth and acceptance of the plans makes for a very compelling movie that ends in what can only be termed as obvious. This movie definitely has replay value just like every movie on the list and the recording of some of the Agamemno Contingencies that are on Youtube is just amazing.

#3 – Batman V Robin

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I will be the first to admit that I really don’t like Damian as Robin. He is a pompous arrogant child who thinks that he is entitled the world because of who his parents are, and he needs to be taken down a peg (like they did in Batman Inc. #3). This story brings in one of the greatest Batman arcs since Knightfall and that would be the Court of Owls. This is the starting point of Greg Capullo and Scott Snyder’s run on Batman that also included Death of the Family and Endgame.  In this film Batman is pitted against the mysterious and legendary Court of Owls while he struggles to bond with his son. Damian believes that Bruce will never trust him and lashes out by frequently running off into the night on his own where he encounters Talon, the hitman for the Court of Owls. Batman must not only save his son from Talon, and his city from the clutches of the court; but he must also save his own mind from the assault of the Owls. This movie continues into the modern DCAU which is heavily influenced by the New 52 and features Jason O’Mara again in the titular role as Batman.

#2 – Flashpoint Paradox

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The Flashpoint Paradox is probably the best Justice League movie ever to have been made. The movie follows the comic of the same name which helped to restart the DC comic universe into the New 52. In this film Barry is taunted by Reverse Flash that no matter how fast he is, he can never save the one person who mattered. Barry then uses his powers to travel back in time and save his mom from being murdered, and in doing so creates an alternate timeline. One where everything is almost the same but slightly different, for example… Bruce Wayne was shot in the alley that night, and his father became Batman while his mother went insane and became the Joker. Barry must find a way to get his powers back, unite what heroes he can and stop the global extinction. While I am not a huge fan of the animation style of this film (the males look like HUGE V’s with all their muscles and thick necks) it does have an original quality to it. The dialogue amongst characters is top notch and it’s interesting to see just how if things had played out slightly different how much everything changes.  I have personally watched this movie over 10 times and I’m still entertained by it to this day.

#1 – Batman Under the Red Hood

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This movie right here, this is the best DCAU movie to ever have been made. I could spend an entire post talking just about this movie alone (and I might in the future). It’s no secret how much I like this movie just based on the number of times I have referenced it in the past on other posts. The movie follows the Death in the Family story line and continues with it. It opens with the murder of Jason Todd and ends with a confrontation that went down in history. A mysterious figure known as the Red Hood shows up in Gotham and starts taking over the drug trade, no matter what Batman does his adversary always seems to be one step ahead of him and knows his every move.  This movie features Jensen Ackles as the voice of Red Hood and Bruce Greenwood as the voice of Batman. Greenwood would later go on to continue voicing the Bat in the animated series Young Justice of which I am also a huge fan (and super excited for season 3). The choreography in this movie is astounding and it highlights one of the darkest times in Batman’s past making him appear even more human.

 

There you have it my top 10 animated DCAU movies of all time, agree or not it’s all relative ,but if you have any good comments post them below!

Spawn – Image Comic’s Crown Jewel

As an avid reader of both DC and Marvel comics there tend to be some smaller comic companies that get lost in the bluster of weekly issues and mega blockbuster movies, one of these such companies is Image Comics.  Image Comics was founded in 1992 by several freelance artists who worked for both DC and Marvel drawing comics as needed, one such artist was Todd McFarlane. Todd had just come off an amazing run at Spider-Man and was one of the eight founders of Image Comics.

When McFarlane moved to Image, he decided to create an all new character that he could call his own and has become one of the flagship properties of Image Comics, Spawn.  Spawn has received 1 major motion picture starring Michael Jai White as the titular hero, as well as a very successful HBO cartoon series with Keith David delivering his voice to the main character.  Spawn has also had several cross overs with many different heroes most notably Batman. Spawn has quite the extensive back story and has had quite a large fan base since his first issue rolled out in May of 1992.

 

ORIGIN

Spawn is the alter-ego of Albert Francis “Al” Simmons, a retired Force Recon marine and assassin. After saving the President from an assassination he was recruited into the CIA to conduct black ops missions and assassinations. Through an extensive career Simmons wracked up a considerable kill count, not all of which were intended targets. There were quite a few collateral damage kills which weighed on his conscience and caused him to question the morality of the agency he worked for.  Jason Wynn who was the individual who oversaw the missions Simmons was conducting noticed his lack of devotion to the agency and hired his friend and partner Bruce Stinson (aka Chapel) to kill Simmons. In what can only be dubbed as a “blazing inferno” Chapel killed Simmons, and Al’s soul was sent to hell. Simmons was cast at the feet of the demon known as Malebolgia, where he sold his soul so that he could see Wanda again. Malebolgia accepted his offer and returned him to Earth. In the time between when Al was killed and resurrected, five years had passed. When he awoke on Earth he was a deformed demonic creature (a Hellspawn) with very few memories of his past life. When he finally regained his memories he sought out Wanda. When he found her he discovered Wanda had moved on with her life, marrying his best friend Terry Fitzgerald and they had a daughter named Cyan. After this the Violator shows up and taunts Spawn. The two of them fight but their battle is interrupted by Malebolgia. Spawn takes to “Rat City” a series of alleys were bums and homeless live and quickly becomes their protector and eventual king. It’s in Rat City where he meets Cogliostro (a former Hellspawn) who becomes his mentor. Spawn becomes a brutal anti-hero and warrior for the people of Rat City, he solidifies his dark anti-hero status when he brutally murders a pedophile and child murderer named Billy Kincaid.

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Powers and Abilities

Al Simmons is an Olympic level athlete, fluent in 10 languages, expert with fire arms, and master of 13 known martial arts.

Spawn is bonded with a symbiotic suit called Leetha of the 7th House of K (K7-Leetha). The suit is bonded to his central nervous system and will defend him even while he is unconscious.

This is where it gets a little weird so bear with me…

So Spawn is just one of a long lineage of Hellspawn. Hellspawn are officer’s in Hell’s army and double as hit-men for the supreme demon Malebolgia. Each Hellspawn is given a certain amount of Necroplasm (the green goo from the comics). The Necroplasm is used when the Hellspawn uses it to regenerate wounds, create constructs out of his cape, create his chains and spikes, etc.

Al Simmons weighs roughly 450 lbs as Spawn and almost all of his body is composed of Necroplasm.  The true power of the suit is taken from the necroplasm that composes of Al’s body, though he can take it back to power constructs he needs in battle. His suit can also feed on the evil energy from the physical world. This included the ambient evil of people, insects, animals and even some areas of cities like Detroit, New York and LA.  The Suit itself can be changed based on the task at hand. It can manifest spikes, armour plating, or even change his shroud (cape) into an offensive weapon such as a battle axe or sword. The shroud itself is a very capable offensive weapon able to strike quickly in combat and has been known to sever limbs and generate various hooks and blades as needed.

Spawn also has vast magical powers. These powers are related to the necroplasm level the Hellspawn currently possesses and is presented to the reader by a gauge that read 9:9:9:9 when the comic started. Each time Spawn uses some of his energy this counter will drain. Because of this Spawn relies on his suit as well as physical weapons such as firearms in combat rather than magic.  The limit of Spawns magical abilities is much like the Green Lantern from DC comics, it is basically limited by the user’s imagination. These are some of the powers he has exhibited throughout his publication: resurrecting the dead, firing blasts of necroplasm energy, teleportation, firebreathing, transmutation, elemental manipulation, shapeshifting, flight, animal communication, mind reading, invisibility, portal creation, time manipulation, soul manipulation, reality warping, regeneration, curing the sick, and feeding off the evil energy of others to restore his necroplasm counter and strength.

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The only way to kill Spawn is by beheading or similar trauma to the head (ex. gunshot). Spawn also loses his power in a small patch of alley called “The Dead’s Zone” which is an extension of Heaven’s domain.

AMAZING FEATS

Malebolgia released a very powerful God named Urizen to wage war on Heaven and conquer their domain. Spawn used power obtained in the Greenworld ( a place that’s power is equal to that of Heaven and Hell) to stop Urizen and swallow him imprisoning him. Spawn teamed up with Angela a warrior of Heaven; and took the fight to Malebolgia in Hell once Spawn discovered Malebolgia was behind the whole thing. After mortally wounding Malebolgia in their battle Angela was cut down. Enraged at the death of Angela, Spawn took Malebolgia’s head. Upon killing Malebolgia Spawn is informed by a demon named Mammon, that Hell’s throne is now his.

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When Spawn was cast down and killed and then resurrected (a never ending cycle apparently?) he awoke to find Armageddon was beginning. He was informed by the Mother (an omnipotent being and mother God and Satan) that Spawn could not stop Armageddon but could ascend to Godhood and preserve the Human race. In order to do so Spawn must defeat the 12 Disciples (Guardians of Heaven’s domain against the Hellspawn) and eat fruit from the forbidden garden. With the help of Cyan he is able to defeat all the Disciples but the last and most powerful (Judas). Spawn is stabbed in the heart by Judas and the mother resurrects him and presents him with fruit from the garden. Spawn returns to the Earth with his new immense power to discover the world is ravaged by the 4 horsemen and humanity is dead. Spawn fights the armies of both Heaven and Hell alone and vanquishes them, when God and Satan turn their attention to him he is slain and the two of them continue their battle. Spawn is resurrected by the mother and he resurrects everyone on the planet with their memories of what happened intact. He banished Satan and God to fight on their own little world where they couldn’t harm anyone and shut the doors of Heaven, Hell and Earth.

CONCLUSION

Spawn is quite an extensive character with many similarities to other properties from DC and Marvel such as Ghost Rider and El Diablo. The thing that makes spawn so different is that his story is tragic, he fights because it’s all he’s ever known and because he is compelled to do it. Spawn relies heavily on Christian mythology as well and mysticism to deliver a compelling story about a man trapped within his own destiny. Image comics has had several successful titles since their founding like: Savage Dragon, Witchblade, The Darkness and the Walking Dead; but very few people know of this company and the great stories they put out. Regardless of what comic series they put out, Spawn will always be their best contribution to the comic community.

Most Underrated Heroes: Vol. 1 – Ghost Rider

I’ve decided to add a segment to my blog wherein once a month I will outline a hero that I believe to be woefully underrated by most people. These are my own personal opinions and don’t reflect on any of the companies in one way or another. I had to restrain myself from talking about Moon Knight first because it would more than likely become an angry rant at the Marvel Netflix universe for not including him (yet… I have hopes!).

The first hero that I have chosen to talk about is none other than the spirit of Vengeance himself, Ghost Rider.

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The first Ghost Rider in publication, not in Marvel history, is stunt motorcyclist Johnny Blaze. Blaze is arguably the best known Ghost Rider right behind Danny Ketch and now Robbie Reyes.  Blaze was portrayed by Nicholas Cage in the 2007 film titled Ghost Rider and in the 2012 sequel Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. I will be the first one to say those movies are terrible, absolutely horrible. But because of my love for ‘ol Flamehead, I watch them over and over again. Recently in Agents of SHIELD Robbie Reyes Ghost Rider appeared as an antagonist and then ally of the team. Let’s start off with a little bit of background on the character.

BACKGROUND

Blaze was a stunt motorcyclist with his father in the Quentin Carnival alongside Craig “Crash” Simpson. His mother walked out on his father when Johnny was young taking his two other siblings Danny and Barbara with her. Johnny’s father was killed in a stunt and he was adopted by Crash Simpson and his wife Mona. The Simpson’s fabricated a story as to help shield him the pain of coming from a broken family. Johnny and the Simpson’s daughter Roxanne grew close as kids and as they grew older their friendship turned to romance. The Simpson’s began their own stunt show of which Johnny was a part, when Johnny found out Crash had life threatening cancer he was devastated. Johnny turned to the occult in an effort to save Crash. One night Johnny recited a spell and summoned who he thought was the devil, really it was the arch demon Mephistocles (Mephisto). Johnny sold his soul to Mephisto in an effort to stop Crash dying of cancer. Crash awoke the next day cured of cancer, but he died performing in the stunt show a few days later. Johnny confronted Mephisto and declared that he had cheated him. Mephisto said he had stopped him dying of cancer, not dying any other way and thus the deal stood. Roxanne arrived in time to save Johnny’s soul by declaring her love for him which drove Mephisto away. Mephisto, out of rage of not being able to collect Blaze’s soul because of Roxanne’s love, bonded Johnny’s soul with the demon Zarathos making him the Ghost Rider. A leather clad being that controlled Hellfire to punish at Mephisto’s bidding, but due to the fact that he still retained his soul, Blaze would also help the innocent whenever he could.

POWERS & ABILITIES

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In addition to controlling Hellfire and being impervious to damage as Ghost Rider, Blaze also has the ability to control hell chains with his mind. He utilizes a shotgun imbued with Hell energy to fire mystic blasts at his foes that can incinerate instantly. He is strong enough to be able to fight toe to toe with Green Scar Hulk (World War Hulk), and uses the penance stare. The penance Stare is a Ghost Rider’s most powerful weapon. When using the penance stare the Ghost Rider can force you to feel the pain of all the hurt you caused to other and burn your soul inside your body. If you have dealt enough pain to others than the penance stare will fry your whole body from the inside out. There are very few people in the Marvel Universe that the penance stare doesn’t work on, those being Punisher, Deadpool, Venom and Mr. Hyde. Punisher doesn’t regret any of his kills, Deadpool’s biggest victim is himself, Venom is immune from the symbiote and Mr. Hyde is immune because of his transformation.  In addition to controlling hell chains with his mind Ghost Rider also keeps a length of chain which he can use as a whip or he ignites it on fire and can spin it fast enough to create a flame vortex.

FEATS

Ghost Rider has performed many great feats over his long career in publication. Due to the nature of the character they haven’t always been Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider, but for the most part they have been. One of the best feats he accomplished was during the World War hulk story arc.

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During World War Hulk the Green Goliath returned to Earth rather pissed after having been banished to a distant planet by the Illuminati. The Illuminati are a secret group of the greatest minds in the Marvel Universe (Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Dr. Strange, Charles Xavier, etc). The save the Earth from having to deal with another Hulk catastrophe the Illuminati tricked Bruce Banner onto a satellite and then launched him into deep space.  Hulk crash landed on the planet Sakaar and fought in the gladiatorial ring until he eventually was crowned king. He ventured back to Earth pissed off and ready to make the Illuminati pay for what they had done to him. Hulk had claimed a battleground in downtown New York where he waited for the group to show. Ghost Rider was hunting down pieces of Lucifer that he had inadvertently let loose from hell. He encountered the Hulk and they began to fight, a very destructive fight through the NY battleground. Hulk punched Ghost Rider through several buildings and dropped another one on top of him. Ghost Rider then grappled on hulks back and nearly choked him out with his hell chain. The fight ended in a stalemate when Ghost Rider attempted to use his penance stare and was shown that the Hulk was the victim and the Illuminati were the guilty ones.

In the early 90’s Fantastic Four cartoon there was an episode where Galactus attacked the earth. The Fantastic Four had tried everything they could to stop him but nothing was working. The Fantastic Four had run out of options and were trying to think of a plan to get rid of Galactus. In rides Ghost Rider, and tells the Fantastic Four that he will help. He rides up Galactus’ body and delivers the penance stare right to him. Galactus being a world eater, had consumed a lot of people and had a lot of guilt and pain stored up. This act was enough to banish Galactus at least for the time being while he healed from his wounds.

Circling back to why Ghost Rider ran into the Hulk in World War Hulk, he was in the process of hunting down and killing Lucifer.  Long story short is that Satan had trapped Ghost Rider in Hell (go figure!). Lucifer disguised himself as a worm helping Johnny to break the barrier between Hell and the normal world. When Johnny broke through Lucifer split into 666 pieces and fell to the Earth. Each piece took on a persona/possessed someone and began wreaking havoc.  Angels were dispatched to help Johnny but slowly one by one, Johnny killed all the pieces of Lucifer until only 1 remained. The trick was that with each piece Johnny killed the remaining pieces would get stronger. The two Angels that were sent to help Johnny ended up sacrificing themselves to provide Ghost Rider with the power he needed to destroy Lucifer and banish him back to hell.

REASONS HE IS UNDERRATED

There really is no definitive answer here besides the fact that he is a dark character. When people think of Marvel comics they think of Iron Man, Spider-Man, Captain America, X-Men, etc; all very colourful and for the most part family friendly characters. Ghost Rider isn’t a hero, he’s an anti-hero; one of those guys like Deadpool, and Punisher and Wolverine who are willing to kill to make sure their mission is accomplished. Not only that but once a Rider uses the penance stare there is no going back. it will inflict the maximum amount of damage to you that you deserve. There is no settings knob on the penance stare just like there is no setting knob on Ghost Rider’s morality. Ghost Rider like Punisher is very black and white, they both punish evil doers. Will they kill you for stealing a candy bar from a convenience store? absolutely not. Will they put the fear of God in you? absolutely.  The rider knows when it’s true evil like a serial killer or just minor evil like a vandal spray painting a building, and can adjust accordingly.

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Ghost Rider has a high kill count, not as high as say Deadpool or Wolverine, but he definitely is not a nice guy. Ghost Rider is very much a character aimed at an older audience. The humour and content of the Ghost rider comics tends to lean towards a mature audience and some of the content can be rather gruesome. In the family friendly MCU there really isn’t a place for someone like Ghost Rider. The Netflix universe however… that’s a whole different story, but in all fairness he wouldn’t be my first choice for that… my first choice would wear more white.

 

 

Anti-Heroes: More Realistic Than Classic Superheroes

Superheroes provide hope, an idea to strive towards. They’re someone you can always look up to and can trust that no matter what is facing them, they will do the right thing. This is an admirable stance to take, even if it’s not very realistic. Finding someone who is good for the sake of being good is a one in a million chance. Most people like to think that they are good at heart, but when the chips are down and their back is against the wall they will do whatever it takes to win, even if it is sometimes a very morally grey act. I’m not trying to say that I think people are evil, they’re not. People are just people and each person has a breaking point. A point where self preservation takes the driver’s seat and everything else takes a side seat. Some people can reach this point very quickly, while others take quite some time to get there.

If any of you have seen the movie American Sniper, you’re probably familiar with the little speech Chris’ father gives him after saving his brother from a bully. “There are 3 kinds of people in this world, there’s wolves, sheep, and sheep dogs. Wolves try to hurt the sheep and it’s the sheep dogs job to protect them, so are you a wolf or a sheep dog?” I’m paraphrasing the speech, but that’s what it boils down to. This little tid bit is actually taken from a book by LTC retired Dave Grossman titled “On Killing”, the books is quite extensive and dives deeper into the comparison of sheep, wolves and sheep dogs. There is also a quote from Heraclitus that goes like this…

“Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn’t even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back”

To bring this back to my main point if Superheroes are the sheep dogs then anti-heroes are like wild dogs. They may attack the sheep on occasion but for the most part they only go after the wolves. There are quite a few heroes that fall into both categories (Wolverine, Ghost Rider, Arsenal), there are also quite a few that stay far past the line (Punisher, Grifter, Deadpool, Red Hood). While superheroes tend to have tragic backstories, anti-heroes tend to have a backstory so caked in violence and blood that it’s amazing they didn’t turn into a villain themselves. Three of my favourite anti-heroes are Deadpool, Red Hood, and Punisher, because of everything that happened to them they still somehow come through in the end (even if just barely).

One of the defining traits that all anti-heroes seem to possess is the innate knowledge that no matter how hard you try, you can’t save everyone every time. This also goes hand in hand with the belief that sometimes in order to save someone you need to use lethal force. One of my favourite lines comes from MarvelNow! Punisher: War Zone, wherein Frank Castle (Punisher) has pissed off the Avengers for the last time. Before the final showdown with the Avengers, Wolverine is approached by Captain America. Cap basically tells Wolverine that because of his close relationship with Frank that he will have to sit this one out. They banter back and forth and the final line comes from Wolverine when he says ” The difference between guys like us and guys like you Cap… is that we understand sometimes… people have to die”. This one line perfectly illustrates what makes anti-heroes so much more relatable than clean cut superheroes, they understand that some people are just bad and they will continue to be bad until they are stopped.

Batman once said “If you kill a killer , the number of killers in this world remains the same”.  While this philosophy might work for Batman and potentially other heroes like him (Superman, Flash, Captain America, Spider-Man, etc) one has to ask how many people died because they refused to do what was necessary. There is a quote from Wonder Woman on her New 52 run that goes like this ” There’s a reason why I don’t have a list of enemies as long as yours, or Bruce’s or even Barry’s, because when i deal with them.. I DEAL with them”. Wonder Woman is one of the few clean cut superheroes who takes lives, but she also doesn’t do it willy nilly. She heavily weighs the cost of her actions against whether or not it’s for the greater good. If the greater good wins she acts, there have been a few exceptions (Maxwell Lord pre Infinite Crisis) for example, where her emotions got the better of her, but they are few and far between.

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One of the questions I get asked quite a bit when explaining comics to people is “Why doesn’t Batman just kill the Joker?”. Without going into a HUGE debate on the psychology of the two of them there really is no right answer. Batman doesn’t kill the Joker because then Joker wins, but Joker won’t stop until Batman kills him, it’s a catch 22. The animated film Under the Red Hood actually introduced a lot of people to the Red Hood for the first time. Jason Todd (Robin #2) was beat with a crowbar to near death and then blown up by the Joker. Feeling guilty for having brought Joker into it, Ra’as Al Ghul revived Jason using a Lazarus Pit. Jason came back but was pretty insane and fled for several years. He begins taking over the Gotham underworld until the final confrontation with Batman and the Joker. The final confrontation has a particular line that hits the issue to the core ” Why is he still alive? Ignoring the friends he’s crippled the graveyards he’s filled…”; Jason delivers that line while pointing at the Joker. Batman tells him that if he kills the Joker he will never stop killing. This is what draws me to Batman as much as other characters like Punisher and Ghost Rider, he is a Superhero, but he is barely past the line between anti-hero and superhero and on several occasions he has crossed that line.

The 2008 film Punisher: War Zone showed us just how gritty and brutal a Punisher film could be if done right. I stand by Thomas Jane and the 2004 film with John Travolta, but Ray Stevenson just looked the part. It also brought a great line from a police detective who tried to “stop” the Punisher. When talking with Detective Soap, he basically says that the reason the Punisher hasn’t been caught is because the police don’t want him to be caught. He gets to do to those guys (mob families and criminals) what cops only dream of getting to do. While this train of thought might extend to superheroes as well normally the police forces of the comic worlds are stuck behind red tape and can’t act on someone they know is guilty. anti-heroes don’t care. They will find out if you’re guilty and they will make you pay.

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I realize it seems like I’m saying anti-heroes don’t have a conscience, but that is very wrong. while some like Punisher and Red Hood have become so jaded they no longer care, some like Deadpool use humour to cover up their true feelings, and sometimes they don’t cover them at all. In Deadpool’s brief stint on the X-Force he quickly came to butt heads with Wolverine. They were tasked with killing the reincarnated Apocalypse, the only problem was that he was reincarnated into a kid named Evan who was still in primary school. Wade immediately objected and voiced his objections, Wolverine and the rest of X-Force knew what a full grown Apocalypse could do and were resigned to killing Evan. Wolverine and Deadpool had some words and Wolverine called Deadpool “…a soulless, spineless, money grubbing mercenary”; as Wade turned to walk away he responded with ” Ya. But I never killed a kid”. This altercation caused Fantomex to regret his decision and clone Evan (it’s get weird just go with it) and teach Evan right from wrong enough to get Evan enlisted in Xavier’s school for Gifted Youngsters.

Superheroes come in all shapes, sizes and abilities; they can be star spangled awesome like Captain America, the big blue boy scout like Superman, or a tortured human like Batman. No matter who they are, superheroes give us something to strive toward. They provide us with a direction to orient ourselves towards, a light to find our way in the darkness. But sometimes the darkness is fought with darkness, while superheroes are the light, anti-heroes are the shade. The grey area between the darkness and the light, not fully dark themselves but not fully light either. They’re willing to plunge their hands in the filth so that others can keep their clean. While most of us strive to be an incorruptible and perfect hero we know that sometimes we’re not perfect. We can’t all be sheep dogs after all, but we’ll be damned if we’re going to become wolves.