The Road to Infinity War

With the biggest comic movie event in History just two weeks away. I thought it would be good to give a rundown of the road to Infinity and where we find each of our heroes as this event begins to take shape. Black Panther was the final piece of the puzzle prior to release of Infinity War and helped to bring the major battleground of Infinity War into the spotlight. From most of the trailers we can see that a large battle takes place on Wakandan soil. Several of the Secret Avengers and the regular Avengers fight together backed by the Wakandan army against Thanos and his Outrider army. I have already provided a run down of the Infinity Stone locations which can be found here:

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

With the stone locations and powers out of the way, let’s dive into the actual characters…

*WARNING! This post will contain spoilers for Black Panther and all other MCU movies*

CAPTAIN AMERICA/NOMAD

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The biggest change for a character from the OG lineup is that Cap, has dropped the Star Spangled hero name. At the conclusion of Civil War he chose to side with Bucky and the truth over Tony and his quest for revenge. As he limped off after incapacitating Tony, he dropped his shield. This was a huge moment for Cap, as through his entire arc with his own trilogy and the Avengers films, he has become more and more disenfranchised with the way the governments of the world are handling things. He finally sheds that last bit of identity that has anchored him to his legacy for the last 80 years and is now embracing his own path. At least at the beginning of the film he has taken the identity of Nomad, which is a nod to several comics where Cap lost faith in the government he swore to defend. I’m betting that by the end of the film he will once again be the Captain America the world looks up to. Also at the conclusion of Civil War we also saw Cap/Nomad/Steve Rogers, breaking his team out of the Raft prison to then become the Secret Avengers. I am really hoping they incorporate Cap’s final stand from the Infinity War comic against Thanos, I just think it will have such a huge impact on the rest of the Avengers fighting and spur them on.

IRON MAN

Tony is in a difficult place. At the end of Civil War, we saw him trying to help a now paralyzed Rhodey to walk again while heading a broken team of Avengers. After his rampage in the Siberian bunker, he was defeated by Captain America, who up until that moment had been one of his closest friends. The betrayal he felt when Cap sided with the man who had murdered his parents overwhelmed his reasoning, and in turn, he lost his greatest ally. While Captain America still has faith that he and Tony can work together in the future (as evidenced by the burner phone he sent Tony), he knows that until something happens that requires them all together, their relationship will never be the same. In Spider-Man: Homecoming we find out that he and Pepper are actually back together after being on a break during Civil War, not only are they together, they’re engaged! In the trailers we see that Tony has perfected his bleeding Edge armour and has lost an arm? or a hand at least. I think that while Tony tries to bring the team back together he knows that the only one who can do that is Cap, and he is okay with that (deep down). I’m also guessing that if it doesn’t happen in this film it will definitely happen in the next, Rhodey is going to get killed by Thanos, a la Civil War II.

SPIDER-MAN

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Spider-Man is one of the newest additions to the team dynamic, much like Doctor Strange. Peter partook in the events of Civil War as the “secret weapon” of the pro-registration forces. While he did fight for the registration forces he did not officially sign the Accords. In Spider-Man: Homecoming, he nearly joined the Avengers as a full time member before declining at the last minute. This was also when we saw the Iron Spider suit for the first time. In the trailer Peter appears to be on a field trip or some sort of excursion with his school when Thanos’ scout ship appears in New York. We don’t know how exactly but we do know that he will be given the Iron Spider Suit at some point in the film and that he will have some memorable dialogue with Dr. Strange.  At his core, Peter just wants to impress. Knowing that he is the youngest human member of the Avengers by at least a decade, he desperately wants to prove that he can roll with the big league and will do whatever he can to make that happen.

BLACK PANTHER

T’Challa was the most recent hero to be given his own film on the road to the Infinity War. At the end of the movie we see T’Challa finally bringing the nation of Wakanda with all their technology into the international spotlight. At the end of Civil War, he realized that his quest for vengeance had led him down the dark path that was now consuming Tony, and he refused to be a party to it any longer. Following the final battle, he took Cap and Bucky into Wakanda; with the latter agreeing to be put on ice, until Wakandan science could figure out a way to scrub all the Hydra influence from Bucky’s brain. He fought his cousin, a usurper during his solo movie, and after a brief time of near death he reclaimed his throne.  T’Challa has been a conflicted character from his first introduction and continues to be so. While he is resolute in his decisions, he is unsure of the type of king he should be. In the post credit scene for Black Panther, we see a newly awakened Bucky being called “White Wolf” by Shuri before being led off screen. With his nation being one of the battlegrounds in the upcoming Infinity War, T’Challa is going to have to make some hard choice between doing what is best for his people and what is best for the world as a whole.

BLACK WIDOW

Natasha has constantly been a side player in the MCU, which is a crime. As one of the best fighters in the MCU having trained with the likes of Wolverine and the Winter Soldier, she is criminally underused. That being said, she brings her A game every time she is on screen and Infinity War will be no different. At the end of Civil War she went into hiding with Tony offering her a chance to run because of what she did at the airport (stopped Black Panther from stopping Bucky and Cap). It’s not very clear what she has been doing during her seclusion but we do know that she dyed her hair blonde. She is seen in the battle for Wakanda making it seem that she and Cap have kept in contact with each other since they both went underground. Having fought for both the Soviets and SHIELD Widow is conflicted between her duty to the government she questions and what she knows is right. Originally having sided with Iron Man and the pro-registration faction in Civil War, she was very much the voice of reason concerning some of their tactics. Whether she will continue to be this voice of reason or resort to the brutality she was trained for, is something only Infinity War can show.

SCARLET WITCH

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Wanda Maximoff quickly went from being the villain in Age of Ultron to reluctant hero, to full on badass in the span of a few scenes. When Hawkeye delivers his speech of choosing who she is, she takes it to heart and emerges as the hero the people of Sokovia needed. During Civil War she originally sided with the registration forces until it was revealed they were keeping her locked at the compound as a safety precaution. Hawkeye breaks her out and gets her to tap into her real power and take Vision down a peg. She fought with Captain America at the airport battle but was captured in order to allow Cap and Bucky time to escape. The last time we saw her she was being broken out of the Raft by Steve Rogers at the end of Civil War. Wanda is unsure of herself and the powers she possesses. She knows that she could become a destructive force if she wanted to, but has taken steps to stay on the side of good to honour her brother and the hero she knows she can be. It’s revealed through the trailers that she is having a relationship with Vision, though with the mind stone firmly ensconced in his forehead; one has to ask, how she will handle his eventual death.

DR. STRANGE

Dr. Stephen Strange is the only person on earth who knows what the infinity stones are, and is in possession of one. When he finished his solo adventure he had used the Eye of Agamotto to trap Dormammu in and endless time loop until he agreed to end his assault on earth. Since then, Dr. Strange has been named the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth and has even helped Thor on his quest to find Odin at the beginning of Thor: Ragnarok. In the trailer it shows what can be assumed as the first battle in New York outside of the Sanctum Sanctorum, and Banner crash landing in the Sanctum. Strange is going to team up with a bunch of heroes he’s never seen before, to battle and enemy he doesn’t know, to save a world that doesn’t know magic exists… while using magic. While he is familiar with extra dimensional beings that could pose a threat to earth (as he stated in Thor: Ragnarok) Even he isn’t ready for this. Strange is an arrogant perfectionist, nobody can dispute that. While he was a surgeon he didn’t trust anyone else to do anything right, but now that he must rely on other forces to do his work, he has become more accepting of other people. This is movie going to test his resolve, he is used to using magic to fight magical beings, but even all his training and mystic arts are not going to prepare him for an unending alien horde led by a fanatical madman.

THOR

Thor is now King of Asgard. His father is dead, his mother is dead… his hammer destroyed. His home is dead, and he is missing his eye; but, he has his people and a few strong allies with him to help bring Asgard back from extinction. He battled Hela in Ragnarok and  would’ve lost everything if it wasn’t for the quick action by himself and Loki. He is now leading the entire population of Asgard through the cosmos on a ship stolen from Sakaar, with no destination in mind. In the first post-credit scene from Ragnarok, their little ship is seen being confronted by Thanos’ warship, the Sanctuary. In the trailers were are shown bits and pieces of Loki stepping over dozens of dead bodies and handing the Tesseract (which he stole from the Asgardian vault before the end of Ragnarok) to presumably Thanos. We are also then shown a clip of him with the other “children” of Thanos (his generals) as he watches on while Thanos presumably tortures Thor. Thor is then picked up by the Guardians of the Galaxy before he leaves on a quest to forge his new hammer, Stormbreaker. With his people either dead or captured, the new king of Asgard is going to do everything in his power to bring down the tyrant who attacked them.

HULK

Hulk is with Thor and will presumably be beaten and cast out of the ship to crash to the earth in the Sanctum Sanctorm. He has been battling on Sakaar for several months and then helped Thor to bring down his evil sister Hela and her giant wolf Fenris. During Ragnarok, Banner was concerned that if he changed back into Hulk that he could never change back to Banner. The trailer shows a bewildered Banner at the bottom of a Hulk sized hole in the Sanctum Sanctorum, so that would appear to be a false assumption on Banner’s part. We aren’t shown much of the Hulk in either trailer except for the epic charge of the heroes in Wakanda being led by Nomad with Hulk close behind. While Banner may be the analytical mind in reconstructing the Hulk buster armour and reconciling with Widow, Hulk is out for revenge. He got beat by someone stronger than him and that makes him angry.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

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The Guardians of the Galaxy are fresh off their second foray into galaxy wide heroics. They’ve done the schtick twice and are looking for something else. At the culmination of GotG vol. 2, Star Lord killed his father, Yondu died, Groot is growing into adolescence, and Rocket has realized that he can’t push his friends away. Gamora and Nebula have somewhat reconciled, while Drax is still burning for a confrontation with Thanos to avenge his wife and daughter. The Guardians stumble onto the wreckage of the Asgardian transport ship in the trailer and literally crash into a floating Thor. They have Mantis revive him and presumably assist him in defending the Earth and forging Stormbreaker. The trailer shows us that Rocket and Groot assist Thor to forge the new hammer while the rest of them head to earth to help the Avengers. The stakes have never been higher in this film. The Guardians are going to learn very soon that Thanos is not one to be underestimated, but they’ve gone up against literal Gods and come out okay, so they should be fine, right?

WAR MACHINE

Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes, is the one person who has remained a friend of Tony since he was first introduced way back in 2008 during the first Iron Man film. He has gone from consultant/PR manager, to hero, to symbol of Freedom, to member of the pro-registration forces to a paraplegic. At the end of Civil War, he was hit by a blast of friendly fire from Vision. This knocked out his armour and cause him to plummet several thousand feet to the ground below. Vision had become distracted by Scarlet Witch and while Tony and Sam tried to save him, they were unable to stop Rhodey’s fall. Col. James Rhodes lost the use of his legs. At the end of the film we are shown Tony having constructed some miniaturized exo-skeletal legs to assist Rhodey in walking. Tony asks Rhodey if he regrets it, to which Rhodey replies he doesn’t. Despite the fact that he may never walk unassisted ever again, Rhodes believes that what they were doing was right and he is okay with the consequences.  In the trailer we see him walking behind a group of heroes as they arrive in Wakanda so clearly, Tony has MacGyvered something together to allow him to walk normally and fight in his armour. Rhodey belives that the things the Avengers do, needs to be done. He doesn’t always agree with how they do it, but that’s why he signed the Accords to be kept in check.

VISION

Vision is one of the most complex and frankly OP members of the Avengers. Not only that, but he is the youngest by about a decade. That being said, at the conclusion of Civil War we saw his romance with Scarlet Witch beginning to blossom to the point that they will both act on it in the upcoming film. In the trailer we are shown a non Scarlet and green Paul Bettany leaning us to believe that Wanda has begun to master her powers. We are also shown a shot of Vision screaming on the ground while Corvus Glaive stabs into his forehead in an attempt to remove the Mind stone ensconced there. Curiously, we are also not shown any footage of Vision in the final battle or the charge scene with the other heroes. This leads me to believe that Vision may be the first casualty the Avengers suffer in Infinity War. Vision was one of the driving forces behind the accords with his famous line “…our very existence incites challenge”. Now with the other heroes on the run and his feelings for Wanda finally being reciprocated, he may not want to risk everything he has in a fight they might not be able to win.

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WINTER SOLDIER/BUCKY BARNES

Bucky is a curious case for the Avengers. He was never a member but his status as one of the original Howling Commandos can’t be ignored. Steve will vouch for his lifelong friend until the day he dies and this can cause issues for other members of the team… Exhibit A… Civil War! Bucky wants to forget the things he’s done and focus on his new life and build a new reputation for himself. The only issue is, his old life doesn’t seem to want to stay buried. At the end of Civil War, he voluntarily enters into cryo sleep again, in order to give the Wakandan scientists time to try and scrub all traces of Hydra indoctrination from his brain. As previously stated, the last time we saw him was in the post-credit scene from Black Panther where Shuri has awoken him. It’s not clear if this happens prior to the commencement of Infinity War or during the opening moments of the film. He is shown to be minus an arm which he will obviously get back and he has a new code name ” White Wolf”.

FALCON

Sam Wilson has been a stalwart compatriot to Captain America ever since his introduction in the MCU during Captain America: Winter Soldier. He was absent from Age of Ultron due to him running down leads on the location of Bucky for Steve, which finally pays off at the start of Civil War. He sides with Cap during the conflict and is one of the heroes that allows himself to be captured to give Bucky and Cap time to escape. Last we see of him he along with the other “fugitive heroes” are being liberated from the Raft by Steve Rogers. Sam is a soldier. He is more comfortable on the battlefield than he is in his own home, he says as much in Winter Soldier. While he has acclimated to civilian life he still longs for the thrill of the fight. He will follow Cap to the ends of the earth because he likes having someone to look to in times of trouble, and who better than Captain America? Sam can be seen in the trailers during the fight in Wakanda so we know that he will make several appearances in the film. With Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan only halfway through their Marvel contracts, the main question is who will don the red, white and blue when Steve Rogers bites the dust?

ANT-MAN

Scott Lang is probably the most outrageous member of the anti-registration forces. At the end of his solo film he was given everything he wanted, access to his daughter, but he threw that all away because Hawkeye told him to? The argument could be made that Cap asked him and as put by Lang himself ” When Captain America calls, you answer”. Ant-Man’s probably biggest contribution (see what I did there?) was when he surprised everyone by going big and becoming Giant-Man. This only lasted briefly but it served as a big enough distraction (I did it again!) to give Cap and Bucky the time to escape. He was last seen being broken out of the Raft to begin his life as a fugitive once again. We know that Ant-Man and the Wasp is due out this summer after Infinity War makes its run through the theatres, but we aren’t exactly sure how big (heh) of a role he will play in the conflict. Ant-Man is concerned with being able to see his daughter, after spending so much time away from her. He wants nothing more than to resume his old life, but with receiving the Ant-Man suit and being called to help Cap, one has to wonder if he will ever get to it.

 

There you have it, those are all the major players in Infinity War and what drives them. I am super excited for the film and have already pre-ordered my VIP tickets for opening day. If you have any input on the upcoming film please feel free to drop a comment. See you next week!

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Most Underrated Heroes Vol. 8 – Martian Manhunter

This month, for the inclusion of underrated hero I decided to include the Manhunter himself, J’onn J’onzz of Mars. Martian Manhunter was originally created as a DC analogue to Superman that could be substituted if the Man of Steel was being used too much. That being said, over the years he has grown into hero status in his own right and became known as “the heart and soul of the Justice League”. Manhunter has grown to be one of my more favourite classic superheroes. I say classic because most of my favourites are anti-heroes or heroes so close to anti-hero status, it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference. Martian Manhunter had a brief stint in the DC drama Smallville where he was portrayed by Phil Morris as well as his current stint on Supergirl where he is portrayed by David Harewood.

Martian Manhunter was first introduced in Detective Comics #225 from November 1955, he was created by Joseph Samachson and Joe Certa.

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HISTORY

Martian Manhunter was born to two green skinned Martians on Mars (go figure!). He was one of twins that were born to his parents, he was named J’onn J’onzz which in the Martian language means “Light of Light”; his brother, who was born without Martian telepathic ability was named Ma’alefa’ak which literally translates to “Darkness of Heart”.  It’s honestly a wonder as to why the brother turned out to be an evil twin given a name like that by the people who are supposed to love you unconditionally… So J’onn grew up to become a Manhunter ( Martian Police Officer) while his brother grew to hate and resent Martian culture.

Ma’alefa’ak eventually developed a virus, the virus was called H’ronmeers Curse. This virus was transferred by Martian psychic link; which would cause each Martian affected to suffer such a psychosomatic trauma that their minds and bodies would burst into flames. J’onn attempted to stop his wife and daughter from using their psychic abilities but he was unsuccessful and he was forced to watched as his family burned in front of his eyes. The virus was responsible for the mass genocide of the green Martian population and left J’onn to be the “sole survivor” of Mars.

This all happened centuries before his arrival on Earth.

On Earth, centuries after the Martian genocide, a scientist named Saul Erdel had discovered some ancient Martian technology buried on Earth, and was attempting to reverse engineer it to communicate with alien life. He activated his contraption and aimed it at the surface of Mars. The beam traveled through both space and time grabbing J’onn shortly after the genocide and bringing him to the surface of the Earth centuries later. Erdel discovered J’onn outside of his laboratory and brought him inside. J’onn was near insanity after having just witnessed his entire species burn themselves to death and because of the trauma forged a psychic link between himself and Dr. Erdel, the only living being within several miles. When they linked their minds, Dr. Erdel saw what had happened to J’onn and attempted to help him my mentally fabricating a different history of the tragedy of Mars. Erdel took inspiration from various science fiction writers and was eventually able to put J’onn at ease. Erdel also instilled in J’onn the belief that he should be a champion of the people and thus, J’onn took on the persona of Martian Manhunter.

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Martians have several powers along with their psychic abilities which I will get into later, but one of their most prominent abilities is shape shifting. Before venturing out of the lab, J’onn adopted a more humanoid appearance while still maintaining his green skin. Dr. Erdel was so surprised by this ability that he suffered a fatal heart attack. As he was dying, Dr. Erdel asked J’onn for forgiveness, due to him inadvertently trapping J’onn on Earth. J’onn provided the closure the doctor needed before passing away. J’onn used his shape shifting powers to take on an African American appearance and joined the local police department (Middletown U.S.A) under the identity of John Jones.

J’onn fought crime under many aliases before he helped to form the Justice League of America. He fought as Marcus Xavier to take down the international criminal syndicate VULTURE, he fought with Justice Experience as the Bronze Wraith, as well as with the League under his Martian Manhunter title and his alternate identity of Bloodwynd.

He briefly becomes the evil Fernus when he attempted to conquer his own fear of fire. It took the combined might of the entire League as well as several new recruits and a couple of Lanterns to stop him.

J’onn was thought to have perished during the explosion of the Watchtower prior to Infinite Crisis, but that was false. During Infinite Crisis, he was discovered to be attached Alexander Luthor’s tower along with several other heroes and villains. It took the combined effort of the Titans to separate him and the others from the tower. Upon being released from the tower, he telepathically coordinated the defense of Metropolis against the evil, Superboy Prime.

Following Infinite Crisis, he took on the identity of William Dyer to infiltrate Checkmate. Checkmate apparently had been holding several green Martians who had crash landed on the Earth. He rescued them with only one of the new Martians, Roh’kar dying in the process.

DEATH

During an undercover assignment wherein he pretended to be Blockbuster to spy on a Supervillain prison. Catwoman outed J’onn after deducing who he really was ; J’onn was left in his cell after being tortured when the rest of the villains broke out. Libra, a new member of the Society of Supervillains, “rescues” J’onn and brings him back to Earth via a Boom Tube. Using the staff of the Human Flame, Libra stabs J’onn through the chest and lights him on fire. As he is burning he telepathically sends a message to several League members in their sleep requesting they record a portion of his life’s story. Upon discovery of his body, the heroes all said his name and recorded their portion of his history.

J’onn was interred on Mars at the base of a pyramid that had been moved to red planet to serve as his headstone. Many heroes both Leaguers and not attended his funeral where Superman delivered a eulogy in his honour.

BLACKEST NIGHT & RESURRECTION

Black Lantern Martian Manhunter

During the crossover even Blackest Night, J’onn, along with several other deceased heroes and villains, was resurrected into the Black Lantern Corps. While Flash (Barry Allen) and Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) were standing over Batman’s grave site which appeared to have been pillaged, J’onn attacked them saying “You should be dead”. J’onn is soon joined by the Black Lantern resurrected versions of Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Elongated Man, Sue Dibny, and Firestorm. The Atom arrives to help but the heroes are unable to defeat the advancing zombified versions of their friends. With their backs literally against a wall, the heroes are eventually saved by two Indigo Lanterns that drive the black lanterns off. Following the final battle and the defeat of Nekron, the Entity resurrected several heroes and villains, J’onn being one of them.

BRIGHTEST DAY

Following his resurrection, J’onn noticed that something was off. Whenever he was around plant life, it would mysteriously die. He went to visit his niece M’gann M’orzz (Miss Martian) who was doing a meditation quest in the outback of Australia. When he arrived to her hut he discovered her badly beaten and tied up. When he asked her who did this to her she replied saying an unknown Green Martian had attacked her. As he is helping M’gann, J’onn receives a telepathic communication from the Entity (the being that defeated Nekron and resurrected him) telling him to burn down the newly formed forest. Knowing the devastation that had befallen Star City and the new forest that had mysteriously grown in its place, J’onn believed the forest he needed to burn was in Star City. after coming into conflict with Green Arrow and attempting to start the blaze, J’onn is again contacted by the Entity, and told the forest he needed to burn was on Mars. J’onn takes off for his home planet leaving the new Star City alone.

On Mars, J’onn confronts the rogue green Martian that had attacked M’gann. She reveals her name to be D’kay D’razz and wishes to take J’onn as her mate. When J’onn refuses she telepathically attacks him and forces him to see visions of the Mars that could be with the power of the Entity to resurrect everything. J’onn sees through the ruse and wrings her neck, and throws her into the sun, killing her. Upon completion of his task the Entity asks J’onn to choose between Earth and Mars, when J’onn chooses Earth he is absorbed by the Entity.  When the “Dark Avatar” (Black Lantern Swamp Thing) attacks, J’onn who has been deemed to be an Elemental along with several other heroes (Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Aquaman,Firestorm); combine with the body of Alex Holland (Swamp Thing) to fight the Dark Avatar. Upon defeat of the Dark Avatar, the Entity with the help of Swamp Thing restores the Elementals to normal.

NEW 52

During the DC Comics re-launch under the New 52 banner, Martian Manhunter was removed as a member of the League and placed in the covert team called Stormwatch. It is teased that he tried to join the League but came to blows with the other members and was cast out, it’s unclear what caused the rift between the heroes. J’onn is recruited by Amanda Waller into the Justice League of America as the counter agent to Superman. The Justice League of America was recruited to specifically counteract individual members of the Justice League should they ever go rogue.

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During the Trinity War crossover J’onn was investigating the Secret Society of Supervillains and their new leader, the Outsider. When they discovered the Outsider was Alfred Pennyworth of Earth-3, it was too late and the Crime Syndicate arrived on Earth-1. The heroes were soundly defeated and imprisoned inside the Firestorm matrix until Forever Evil, when Batman freed them with the help of Luthor and several villains. Following the release from the Matrix, J’onn along with fellow JLA members Green Arrow and Stargirl went on to form the Justice League United Team based out of Canada.

REBIRTH

J’onn arrived in the Dark Metal event stating he had been on Thanagar looking for answers.

POWERS & ABILITIES

All Martians share the same powers as Martian Manhunter to a degree. While they all have the genetic ability to utilize these powers, they may not have mastered the techniques and thus don’t use it. The powers of the Martian people are as follows:

  • Shapeshifting
  • Corporeal Form Manipulation – Malleability, Elasticity, Plasticity and Elongation of his form and extremities.
  • Invisibility
  • Phasing
  • Superhuman Durability
  • Superhuman Strength
  • Superhuman Stamina
  • Regeneration
  • Flight
  • Superhuman Speed
  • Extrasensory Input
  • Longevity
  • Super-Hearing
  • Super-Breath
  • Enhanced Senses
  • Martian Vision – Able to see Electro-magnetic Spectrum, Infrared Spectrum, Telescopic Vision, Microscopic Vision and Heat Vision similar to Superman.
  • Telepathy – Able to conjure Illusions, Astral Prjection, Possession, Mind Control, Telepathic Relay (connect multiple minds together to “speak”), Telepathic Assault, Thought Sensing, Mayavana (ability to create a mental reality as real as any other reality, can only be used once in a lifetime. J’onn used his during Despero’s attack on the JL Headquarters to stop the assault and save his friends/teammates)
  •  Telekinesis
  • Meditate instead of sleep

In addition to all his powers listed J’onn J’onzz also has: Genius Level Intellect, adept firearms skills, incredible detective skills and the ability to understand any language.

A Martian’s only documented weakness is to fire. Which stems from the H’ronmeers Curse and the psychosomatic trauma it caused.

J’onn is known to be very fond of the Earth snack Chocos, so much to the point of borderline addiction.

WHY THEY’RE UNDERRATED

Martian Manhunter is widely underrated because of how much he is underused. This is a being that was able to solo the Justice League on more than one occasion. He has shown time and time again that he is the willing to take the hit in order to save another teammate from getting hurt, and he believes that while Mars was his origin planet, that Earth is his home. As I stated before he has been called the “Heart and Soul of the Justice League” and he wears this title proudly. When all the other heroes falter and become lost they can always look to J’onn to help put them back on the right track.

During the Injustice comic run, J’onn came into conflict with Superman and his regime. He openly stood against the tyranny and was murdered as a result. He does help to deliver one of the best lines of the whole series. The panel is directly below.

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J’onn has gone to star in several films and live action series, more so than the Dark Knight himself, which begs to question as to why he isn’t a more popular hero? Superman himself has said that J’onn is the one of the very few beings that he is afraid to engage in open combat because he is the most dangerous man on the planet.

Supes Scared

J’onn J’onzz has so much potential and he is always wasted by being relegated to a back up character. I’m not saying his inclusion in the Justice League film would’ve saved it, but it couldn’t have been any worse than what we got right? DC needs to give some of their other great properties a chance instead of sticking with the same heroes. Yes, they’ve branched out with some out there inclusions like Justice League Dark and Cyborg, but looking at how many batman and Superman imprints there are… they could easily drop a couple of those and bring in someone like Manhunter for his own series. I just hope for J’onn J’onzz to one day become a household name like the characters he helps to keep on the right path.

 

An Impossible Expectation – Living Up To The Legacy

This week, I decided to focus on something that I have noticed with the newest press regarding upcoming seasons and movies based on comic media; the impossible task of living up to the legacy. With the explosion of the MCU beginning in 2008, comic book movies have become the best thing a studio can do to make money; however, it is not without its risks. While Marvel studios seem to have found the formula to make successful movies, other studios like DC Entertainment and Fox studios are more hit or miss. Don’t get me wrong they have some great hits, Deadpool and Wonder Woman are awesome and huge steps for the superhero genre if not movies as a whole. We got the first widely successful female led movie with Wonder Woman, Logan and Deadpool showed us R rated movies can still make buck, and now Black Panther has rallied the entire world behind the fictional nation of Wakanda. But for all the bluster that these movies and shows can provide… the one thing they can never do, is live up to the legacy of the characters.

Batman

Let’s take Batman for instance, how many Batman movies have there been? Including the movie from the 60’s TV show starring the late Adam West, there have been 9 live action Batman films; and all 9 of these films have done different takes on the character without nailing the source material 100%. I commend each actor for taking the role and making it their own, but nobody has been able to fully capture the essence of the character, and nobody ever will.

Batman was first introduced in Detective Comics #27  from March 1939, that’s almost 80 years of stories and character development. Now I’m not saying that anyone trying to take the role should quit, I’m saying the opposite, I think the more people that take the role on we can get a clearer glimpse into the character of Batman. With West, we got the silly, gadget driven Batman, Keaton gave us the dark and Gothic protector, Kilmer gave us the investigative defender, Clooney gave us the campy playboy, Bale gave us the tortured and driven knight, and Affleck gave us the brutal and vicious brawler. Each actor has made the role their own by taking a piece of the vast history of the character and putting their own spin on it.  While it can get tiresome as a fan to constantly have a new person taking on the role instead of sticking with one person, it is necessary. In the animated universe, no matter what, Kevin Conroy is the voice of Batman. Jason O’Mara delivers a great spin with the new DCAU films, but nobody can compare to Conroy’s iconic voice. The same thing can be said about the Joker. Anybody who tries to do that in an animated setting will always be compared to Mark Hamill while any live action interpretation will always be compared to the late Heath Ledger.

Batfamily

Just in Batman’s history alone, we have over 5 Robins, only 1 of which has made it to the live action screen, multiple failures on the part of the Bat, his own death and resurrection, and his rehabilitation following his greatest defeat. None of the stories we have received so far in film format have focused on any of these aspects. We may FINALLY be getting the story of Jason Todd’s murder, which is arguably Batman’s greatest failure, but that happened in A Death in the Family from December of 1988. It took 29 years for his death to finally be mentioned in a DC live action film and even then, it was only done in passing. I am of course referring to the Robin suit on display in the Batcave spray painted with the words “Hahaha Joke’s on you Batman”; as well as, the mention of Harley Quinn being an accomplice in the murder of Robin in Suicide Squad. The suit is something that not many people would notice or even get the reference if you were not familiar with the source material. While the mention in Suicide Squad is so quick, if you blink you’ll miss it. While the live action films have been lacking in expanding the Batman mythos and history, the animated films have stepped up.

The modern DCAU (DC Animated Universe) took heavy influence from the New 52 run of DC Comics, while some of the classic stories and films took inspiration from the modern age of DC. We have seen Damian (Batman’s biological son) as Robin, Jason Todd as Robin and Red Hood, Dick as Nightwing, and the introduction of Batwoman and Batwing. For obvious reasons the animated movies can do more than a big budget movie can, and they can do it for much cheaper too. But Batman isn’t the only hero that this has been done with.

Spiderman-1994-spiderman-the-animated-series-1994-29730956-333-250

Spider-Man is the most popular Marvel hero worldwide and one of my personal favourites. He has been a Marvel mainstay since his first introduction in Amazing Fantasy #15 in August of 1962. Since his introduction into Marvel, he has had 3 live action film adaptations as well as a whole slew of animated television shows and by slew I mean 9 animated shows. All of his shows have done a solid attempt at bringing his history to the forefront. The best one, in my opinion, is the Spider-Man animated series that ran in the early 90’s. It introduced a lot of kids to the great universe Spider-Man had created while doing crossovers with other heroes as well, most notably the X-Men. This is another example where the animated features have done far more to honour the legacy of Spider-Man than the movies ever did.

The first slew of movies were directed by Sam Raimi and starred Tobey McGuire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. The first of Raimi’s Spider-Man films were released in 2002 to a warm reception. Introducing Norman Osborn/Green Goblin with a stellar performance by Willem Dafoe (we’ll just forget the power ranger costume…), then Alfred Molina as Otto Octavius/Doc Ock is Spider-Man 2, and finally the abysmal Spider-Man 3 with New Goblin, scrawny Venom and a great performance by Thomas Haden Church as Flint Marko/Sandman. The first two movies were well received but by the third the studio (Sony) decided to meddle and forced Raimi to include Venom into the plot. With the failure of the third film, Spider-Man was put on ice until 2012 when Sony rebooted the franchise with the Amazing Spider-Man.

Spider-MAn

Spying the success of the MCU, Sony tried to build an entire universe based off of Spider-Man. The first movie was okay, it was a fresh take and brought Peter back into high school. The second one was terrible, it was too long and destroyed the Green Goblin as a character. The one thing that the second movie did get right was the death of Gwen Stacy. Paying direct homage to Amazing Spider-Man #121, it was a near scene for scene remake of the iconic moment in Spider-Man’s history; right down to the costume choice being a direct recreation of the clothing worn by Gwen in the comic.

Now we have a new Spider-Man with Tom Holland that is included in the MCU. Sony finally admitted they screwed up and struck a deal with Marvel to allow them to use Spider-Man in the MCU.  Tom Holland has been extremely well received and looks to be the new breakout star of the entire MCU.

All these shows and movies have barely even scratched the surface on things that have happened in Spider-Man’s comic run. I will admit that I haven’t watched all the shows, but to my knowledge, the only one to properly introduce Venom and Carnage was the 90’s animated series; which included a large portion of the rogues gallery in various episodes. Again, while each show and film took a piece of the mythos and made it their own, it never quite captured the legacy of the character. Spider-Man is one of the most popular heroes in the world, and the inability to capture the essence of the character is a glaring issue. We’ve gotten the closest thing to a comic accurate Peter Parker with Tom Holland in the MCU, but even then, something feels off… oh right, his 40 something attractive aunt flirting with Tony Stark.

As I said before, all these attempts at bringing the characters to the screen are necessary if we are to eventually be able to pay homage to the legacy they have created. Batman and Spider-Man are just two examples of dozens of characters with histories and legacies that span decades. Fantastic Four, Captain America, Wonder Woman, Superman, Martian Manhunter, Iron Man, and Flash all have rich legacies to pay homage to, and it’s just not feasible to do so with 1 or 2 movies or even a season or two of television.

I am a big stickler for accuracy in comic movies and shows, it doesn’t sit well with me when they change things or mesh story lines together, it irks me quite substantially. That being said, I understand that there is no way these interpretations are ever going to be able to measure up to the expectations in my head from reading the stories, and that’s okay. Fresh spins on characters are part of what has helped to ensure the longevity of comics. Each  new author and artist takes what was laid down before them as a foundation and builds on the character. Sometimes you get great runs, like Frank Miller with the Dark Knight Returns, and sometimes you get terrible interpretations like Rick Remender with his Axis event. Each of these events and runs have worked to establish an ongoing legacy for each character that film studios want to tap into to appeal to the fans, even if they butcher it in their attempt.

Many fans have sour tastes in their mouths from the likes of Ghost Rider 1 & 2, Man of Steel, Affleck’s Daredevil, Steel (ft. Shaq?! come on!!!), and the Schumacher Batmans; but they keep coming back, in hopes the studios get their shit sorted out and deliver something worthy of the legacy of the character. The main point I’m trying to make is, as a fan, don’t sweat it. When it comes to studios making movies or shows off of comics, there is no way in hell they will be able to jam 50+ years of history into 1-3 movies or a couple seasons of an animated show. Give the studios a break and just be happy they’re making an effort at all. It wasn’t so long ago when if someone suggested a movie or even live action TV show based off a superhero you would be met with mocking laughter.

I am not one to quote Superman (ugh..) but this quote perfectly explains what I’m trying to get at.

“You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun, Kal. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.”

in the sun

Give it time. If we give it time, I have faith that eventually we will be given wonders.

Most Underrated Heroes Vol. 7 – Blade

This week for my most underrated hero, I decided to focus on someone that is vastly underused and under-appreciated, Blade.

Blade first came to prominence during the late 90’s & early 2000’s when the Daywalker was given his own trilogy of movies starring Wesley Snipes in the titular role. Following the film trilogy, a Television series was ordered with Kirk Jones, in the role of Blade. The live action show lasted only one season before being cancelled by Spike TV (the network it aired on) due to budget limitations. a limited but successful anime show was also released starring Blade.

Snipes Blade

Blade has been a secondary character for most Marvel publications and has never really been given his time in the spotlight. His lack of use is definitely linked to the mature themes his comics are made with; focusing on a Dhampir who hunts vampires and their familiars, often with brutal efficiency.

Blade was created in July of 1973 by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan as a supporting character in the title The Tomb of Dracula. 

HISTORY

Blade was born in 1929 in Madam Vanity’s Brothel in the Soho neighbourhood in London England. He was born Eric Brooks, to his mother Tara Brooks and (at the time) an unknown father. Due to complications experienced during labour, Tara was forced to seek medical help from a local doctor. The doctor is question was a vampire named Deacon Frost. Frost began to feed on Tara during her childbirth and as such passed along some enzymes to her unborn/being born child. Tara was killed in the process and before Frost could kill Eric, he was driven off by the other workers of the whorehouse. Eric was then gifted some vampiric abilities such as the ability to: sense supernatural creatures, immunity to complete vampirism, and an extremely prolonged lifespan.

Eric grew up calling Madam Vanity’s home, but one night while walking home, he stumbled upon an elderly man being attacked by three assailants. Despite only being 9 years old, Eric decided to help the elderly man and ran to his aide. It wasn’t until he had joined the fray that Eric realized the assailants were vampires. The elderly man used a silver sword which was hidden in his cane to dispatch the vampires and save them both. After the ordeal the old man introduced himself to Eric as Jamal Afari, a famed jazz musician and vampire hunter. Jamal moved into Madam Vanity’s and began to instruct Eric in vampire hunting, hand to hand combat and music. Blade became very proficient in hand to hand combat techniques and the use of edged and bladed weapons. He trained himself to Olympic level fitness and was soon proficient in dispatching most younger vampires by himself. He was soon given the nickname of “Blade” by his fellow vampire hunters and the vampires that he would hunt. After several successful solo hunts, he believed he was untouchable and that he could take down any vampire he wanted. In his hubris, he joined a street gang that was headed by a very powerful vampire named Lamia. The battle with Lamia was grueling and cost Blade his then girlfriend, Glory.

Blade_7

This  loss and the subsequent loss of Jamal to Dracula, hardened Blade’s resolve to rid the world of vampires. Jamal was resurrected by Dracula as a vampire, forcing Blade to battle and kill his mentor and father figure.  Blade then tracked Dracula across Europe and Asia even allying with several other hunters who called themselves Ogun Strong’s Vampire Hunters. Dracula murdered most of the hunters except for Blade and one other before they were able to stake him. In memory of one of his fallen comrades, Blade adopted the use of Teakwood daggers as his preferred weapon.

After tracking a resurrected Dracula to Paris, Blade crossed paths with Quincy Harker the son of Johnathan Harker, and his vampire hunters: Rachel Van Helsing (daughter of Abraham Van Helsing), Taj Nital, and Frank Drake. Reluctantly, Blade allied with these hunters on several occasions and even took on Dracula once more with their help. When Dracula defeated the hunters, Blade became aware that he was immune to a vampire’s bite. After coming to this realization, he decided to hunt down Deacon Frost alone and get revenge on him for the murder of his mother. During his solo career, Blade fought Dracula, Morbius the Living Vampire, and the Legion of the Dead.  While tracking Frost, his target fled to the United States and thus, Blade ventured into the underbelly of Boston, Massachusetts. It was during this solo career in the USA that Blade encountered notable Private Detective, Hanibal King. Blade allied with King due to a mutual hate for Deacon Frost (the man who had turned King into a vampire) and they hunted Frost together. Eventually they caught up to Frost and put him down for good, disbanding his supporters in the process.

King and Blade would go on to team up with previous Blade ally, Frank Drake and assist Dr. Strange in combating many threats, most notable the Darkholders.  They also assisted Dr. Strange in the casting of the Montesi Formula which was meant to destroy all Vampires on Earth. While the spell worked for a time it eventually dissipated and his former ally now turned vampire Taj Nital attacked him, forcing Blade to kill him. The vampire Lord Varnae rose to power, causing Blade and his allies to stop him. During the ensuing battle, King and Drake appeared to have been killed, before Blade killed Lord Varnae. Blade drifted around the USA hunting vampires and allying with various other hunters before he ended up in Louisiana, where he discovered an alive Hannibal King. The two once again, allied together to take down a resurrected Deacon Frost and Ulysses Soujourner, the latter of which had Morbius under his mental control.

Blade tracked Morbius to New York city where he allied with Spider-Manto take him down. During the battle, Blade was bitten by Morbius. Due to Morbius being a biological lab accident, his unique form of vampirism reacted with the enzymes in Blade’s blood. This reaction provided him with all the strengths of a vampire except sunlight did not affect him. It was after this that he was given the title “Daywalker”.

SHIELD attempted to use Blade’s blood to clone vampire operatives with UN support. The project was title Project: Silvereye and was shut down by Blade and a couple of allies. Blade and several hunters then all banded together to stop Dracula from becoming a God-like vampire Lord before Blade returned to New Orleans. Blade was once again forced to battle a resurrected Dracula (he just never dies) and put him down apparently, for good. After his most recent battle with Dracula it was revealed his father, Lucas Cross, was responsible for the latest Dracula resurrection. Cross kidnapped Blade and tried to force him to feed on a virgin girl to fulfill a prophecy. Blade bit his own hand off to get out of his restraints and rescued the girl before fleeing the SHIELD Helicarrier, Pericles V, where they were being held.  Blade would eventually begin the prophecy by feeding on a virgin girl after biting an evil vampire priest.

Blade was then hired by Dr. Doom to perform a task which involved travelling through time. During his adventure, Blade freed his captive father and fulfilled another part of the prophecy his father was trying to get him to start. Upon completion of the mission for Dr. Doom, Blade was given an elixir that Doom claimed would cure a Vampire of their need to feed but would also remove the blood lust hunters receive for killing vampires. Blade decided to give the elixir to Hannibal King and continue on his mission alone.

Blade Anime

During the first Civil War story line, Blade became allied with SHIELD which allowed him access to their technology. He used this tech to aid him in his hunt for vampires and even gave himself a “gun hand” to replace the one he was force to gnaw off. During his tenure as an operative of SHIELD, Blade fulfills a prophecy he believes will restore the souls to the extant vampires. He was wrong. In reality, the prophecy returned all vampires ever killed to life, bringing the world into peril. Following the conclusion of Civil War, Blade was recruited into Vanguard ( a superhuman black ops team run by the US government). Having been forced to return his “gun hand” after leaving SHIELD, Blade was given a cybernetic hand when he joined Vanguard. The team did not last for long before it was disbanded and Blade returned to England and joined MI-13, to combat supernatural threats. One of the members of his MI-13 team was named Spitfire, a vampire. When Blade tries to kill her, the two fight and eventually end up working together. After a mission together, Blade is trying to apologize for attempting to kill her, she kisses him; beginning a brief romance for the two of them.

Blade assisted the X-Men during the Curse of the Mutants arc when Dracula’s son and his vampires appeared in San Francisco and turned Jubilee. He butted heads with the mutant leader Cyclops, when the latter planned to resurrect Dracula to assist as well. Blade was quoted as saying “You don’t dig up Hitler to help get rid of Saddam Hussein”; however, Cyclops was not deterred and raised Dracula anyways. Blade was knocked unconscious by Cyclops when he tried to kill Dracula during the final battle. After the victory, Dracula returned Jubilee to the X-Men; however, Jubilee was still a vampire. When Blade went to “end her misery”, Wolverine stood between them and told Blade that it wasn’t going to happen. Blade left saying that sooner or later, someone is going to have to kill her and it will be harder for one of them to do it than it would be for him.

Not long after the end of the story arc, Blade was invited to the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning to teach a class on killing vampires.

Prior to the Secret Empire event, Blade actually joined the Mighty Avengers by using Hawkeye’s identity of Ronin. Once he was discovered, he was kicked off the team for his methods and violent tendencies.

During Secret Empire, Blade was trapped in New York when it was isolated by a Dark Force dome. Due to the fact that the sunlight can’t get through the dome, the vampires living in New York declared open season and began attacking the human population indiscriminately. Blade went to war with vampires inside the dome to protect the citizens of New York. Following the event, Blade’s whereabouts are unknown.

 

POWERS & ABILITIES

Blade is not fully human. Due to his mother being fed on by Deacon Frost while she was giving birth to him, Blade is a Dhampir. A Dhampir is the term given to an offspring of a male vampire and human woman. While this isn’t 100% the case, it makes the most sense given the mutation Blade underwent while being born.

Due to being a Dhampir and having been bitten by Morbius, the powers Blade presents are as follows:

  • Superhumanly Acute Sense – All of his sense are as acute as those of a regular vampire which is greater than those of Wolverine .
  • Superhuman Strength – Able to lift about 1 ton
  • Superhuman Speed
  • Superhuman Agility
  • Superhuman Stamina
  • Superhuman Durability
  • Regenerative Healing factor – Stated by Wolverine during Civil War to almost be on par with his own. Blade cannot regrow limbs or organs.
  •  Prolonged Lifespan – while not fully immortal he has not aged since his introduction in comics.
  • Immunity to Vampire Vulnerabilities – immune to sunlight, silver, garlic, and religious symbols such as crosses and crucifixes.

In addition to his Powers listed above, Blade also has the following accolades:

  • Master Martial Artist
  • Expert Marksman
  • Expert Swordsman
  • Weapon Proficiency – Proficient with every form of weaponry known to man
  • Multi-lingual
  • Expert Driver
  • Sorcery Skills

In addition to all of his powers and abilities Blade is still plagued by one weakness, the “thirst” aka need to feed. In order to avoid having to feed on human, Blade has developed a serum that provides all the nutrients of blood without him having to attack someone. He keeps this serum on his person at all time. One dose is good for 24 hours of enhanced combat and he can ingest extra as needed to heal from severe wounds. If he is unable to take his serum he will become physically weaker and his self control will strain until he attacks someone to feed on them. Going without feeding or taking his serum for an extended time would prove fatal.

Blade_Marvel

Blade’s normal loadout consists of: Teakwood daggers, Adamantium Stakes, Kevlar body Armour, Automatic Sub-machine guns customized for hollow point garlic filled silver bullets, various UV weapons, garlic and silver injection weapons and his titanium forged acid etched sword.

 

WHY THEY’RE UNDERRATED

Blade is underrated because he brings an entire sub genre to the forefront, vampires. In the Marvel comics with time travelling villains, alien invasions, demons from another plane attacking cities and the bounty hunter of the devil himself riding around on a motorcycle… vampires seem to be left on the back burner. Not only does he include vampires, but he also includes all sorts of horror themed creatures like werewolves and ghosts that could also provide some awesome stories. The biggest factor that keeps Blade from joining the main Marvel heroes is the fact that his stories are very mature themed. I mean, a half vampire slaughtering full vamps as they feast on innocent people? Seems pretty mature themed to me.

I really think Blade is underrated just because a lot of people don’t know about him. Apart from the Wesley Snipes movies, most people probably didn’t know there was a television show or even an anime series dedicated to the character. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Blade movies; Snipes did an amazing job with them. I will confess that I have never seen the live action show, but I did watch the anime and it was pretty awesome.

If they included Blade in more publications or gave him his own run instead of relegating him to secondary character/ supporting character, it would really help to bring him into the mainstream. Blade has all the hallmarks of a great hero if given the chance. He is a half vampire with a drive to eradicate the species because of what they did to his mother. He fits in with the Avengers (powers-wise) and can hold his own against extremely powerful enemies like Lilith.

The mere fact that Blade hasn’t been included in more mainstream events is an issue. This doesn’t even touch on the fact that in a world saturated with white superheroes, he is one of the few prominent African American heroes. The first African American superhero we were given in mainstream media release, was Michael Jai White’s portrayal of Al Simmons “Spawn” in 1997. Blade was next with his first movie in 1998; then after the two subsequent Blade movies, it wasn’t until Hancock in 2008 we were given another African American hero. With the release of Black Panther last month, the world rallied behind the King of Wakanda and made it one of the best movie opening weekends of all time. There is definitely a call for more diverse heroes in mainstream culture and Blade would be a perfect example of a hero that already has an established career with doing well in media releases.

I know the release of the new Marvel Legends figures included the Defenders from the Netflix Marvel releases and… Blade! With Punisher season 2 beginning filming and Jessica Jones season 2 due out in a couple weeks, my fingers are crossed that maybe just maybe they’ll cross paths with the Daywalker himself.

Blade and Punisher

Black Panther – My Review *Spoiler Free*

I, like many others, went and saw Black Panther this past weekend when it released. The theater was packed and the anticipation was high among all those in attendance. When the Marvel title card appeared on the screen, I had a last thought of “what if this movie sucks like Justice League did?” I am glad to say that this was definitely not the case! From the opening scene to the end of the second post-credit scene (yes there are 2), the movie never stopped. The entire cast knocked it out of the park with their portrayals, and Eric “Killmonger” Stevens would give Loki a good run as Marvel’s top villain.

One thing I would like to say is that many people are saying this is the first superhero movie to star an African American male in the lead role, which is wrong. Blade, Hancock and Spawn all starred an African American male in the lead role and they were released years before the MCU even began.

Now that we have cleared that up let’s dive into the review.

*THIS WILL BE A SPOILER FREE REVIEW*

THE STORY SO FAR

Prior to the beginning of the movie, we have been given quite a it of a story involving Panther. He first showed up in Captain America: Civil War after the bombing of the UN gathering, which was held in order to sign the Sokovia Accords.

Zemo (disguised as Bucky “Winter Soldier”) bombed the UN gathering to disrupt the Accords and caused the rift in the Avengers. In doing so he killed King T’Chaka, the reigning monarch of Wakanda. His son, T’Challa, took the family ring from his father’s finger and became the king of Wakanda and the Black Panther.

Legacy

After failing to kill/capture Bucky himself, T’Challa allied temporarily with Iron Man and the pro-registration side. Following the airport battle and the evasion of Bucky and Cap from the authorities, Panther followed Iron Man in a Wakandan stealth ship to the bunker in Siberia.

It was there he learned the truth about what had happened and realized he had been hunting the wrong man for his father’s death. He took Zemo in for his crimes and retreated to Wakanda giving Bucky and Cap sanctuary from the authorities.

THE SETTING

The movie picks up with T’Challa fresh into his role as king. He is attempting to rescue some women who were kidnapped by a Warlord. As he returns to Wakanda, he is greeted by his mother, the Queen, and his sister Shuri. Shuri is the brilliant mind behind most of Wakandan technology and would definitely give Tony Stark a run for his money.

In order to be crowned King of Wakanda, the tribal leaders that make up the Senate of Wakanda are given the right to challenge T’Challa in one on one ceremonial combat. The winner of this combat will be crowned king of Wakanda and Black Panther.

Eric Stevens partners with Ulysses Klaue to enact a plan he has been harboring for years. When the “Killmonger” arrives in Wakanda, he immediately sets his sights on the throne.

Characters

Black Panther has a vast array of characters that are important to the plot. The amount of people involved in the film is staggering; not to mention, the fact that this film is made up primarily of actors and actresses of African and African- American descent makes it even better.

Cast

While there are far too many characters to list, here are the most prominent characters and the actors/actresses portraying them:

  • T’Challa/ Black Panther – Chadwick Boseman
  • Eric “Killmonger” Stevens/ N’Jadaka – Michael B. Jordan
  •  Nakia – Lupita Nyong’o
  • Okoye/ General of Dora Milaje – Danai Gurira
  • Princess Shuri – Letitia Wright
  • W’Kabi – Daniel Kaluuya
  • Everett Ross – Martin Freeman

As I said before the amount of people in this movie is impressive and all the characters are important in their own way to the progression of the story. Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Winston Duke, and Andy Serkis all bring their A-game to this film and make their characters memorable.

The particular stars of the movie for me are Michael B. Jordan and Letitia Wright.

Having only ever seen Jordan in a role as the hero/protagonist it was a very refreshing change to see him as the ruthless villain. He brought an intensity and backstory to the character that hasn’t really been seen for a villain in a Marvel movie.

Letitia Wright was definitely a breakout star for this film. She perfectly nails the sarcastic and youthful approach that the studio was giving to the character. Not only that, but she is probably the smartest person in the MCU. Her youth hasn’t stopped her from designing and building a large majority of the technology which is seen being used in Wakanda.

I don’t want to say too much more for fear of revealing the plot or character development; however, the cast created an atmosphere that really brings you to the magic and wonder that is the Wakandan nation.

COSTUMES

I will be the first to admit that I know nothing of African culture or traditional dress. Being a straight white male of Scottish and Polish descent and growing up in the Dutch farmland of Ontario, I was never really exposed to other cultures.  That being said, even I was able to tell the incredible work done by both the costume designer Ruth Carter and the production designer Hannah Beachler. They took influences from cultures all across Africa and incorporated them into the costumes for the actors in this film.

Shuri + Dora Milaje

The bright colours and intricate weaves of some of the costumes looked incredible while still remaining fuctional. The Dora Milaje definitely stole the show in their battle armour and their ceremonial garments.

Again, coming from someone who’s entire knowledge of African culture has been from movies and brief subjects in history class, I was blown away. I can only imagine how people native to the many cultures displayed in this movie could have felt.

ACTION

The action in this movie was top notch, even for a Marvel movie. I’ve personally found that while the action is always “good” in an MCU installment, there are a few where it really pops, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Daredevil, and Spider-Man: Homecoming are prime examples.  Black Panther really leaned into the influences from several martial art styles as well as the big cats of Africa themselves in inspiration for the choreography. One of the opening scenes see T’Challa taking on a warlord and his soldiers, and in this scene, he stalks them and hunts like the big cat of his namesake. When the action does kick off he dials it up to 11 and takes no prisoners.

Killmonger is definitely one of the better choreographed villains in the entire MCU. He trained in the American military and special forces and then eventually came to work for the CIA. Later in the film, Everett Ross describes him as ” one of the guys we would send into a country during times of political upheaval to destabilize the nation”. The fact that they would send one man in to destabilize an entire country just shows you how well trained and lethal he is. His motivations are a little weak but overall he brings a ferocity that none of the other MCU villains have been able to match.

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The final battle is definitely one for the books. It incorporates the various styles of the different characters in the film into one great fight. The best part of the whole fight when Daniel Kaluuya’s character (W’Kabi) brings what his people are known for to the fight and ups the stakes even more.

VISUALS

While it’s obvious that the shots of Wakanda are all done on a green screen (because Wakanda doesn’t actually exist… or maybe… that’s what they want us to think) Coogler does a wonderful job of making you feel like you are there in Wakanda experiencing this first hand. From the sprawling jungles to the metropolis of the capital city itself, Coogler crafts an entire nation of wonder and technology that would make Tony Star’s mouth drop open in awe.

I’m not one for cinematography, but I can appreciate when someone does their work well!

THE STORY

While the story was engaging there are obviously plot holes, it happens with every movie. While they aren’t glaring they are there, but for the casual movie goer they won’t even notice them.

The story of this film is very much centered around redemption and acceptance. When we start off, T’Challa is trying to accept the role he has been given as ruler of Wakanda and it’s defender. Through turns of events, his belief in everything he has known is called into question and he has to find it in himself to fight for what he believes is right. While he doesn’t know what to believe, he knows that he has to believe in himself if he wants to become the King his father and people believe he can be.

As I’ve said before, Killmonger is probably the best villain the MCU has put out to date. He is ruthless, calculated, and resolute in his belief. He knows that what he has to do might make him enemies but in the end he will be the one standing above the ashes and he will be victorious. I feel I can say this without wandering into spoiler territory, his belief is not wrong. During the film you are shown things from the perspective of T’Challa and his father, when Killmonger enters the picture, you are shown his side of the story and realize that he isn’t wrong in what he thinks. This draws an interesting development to the story as you try to figure out who the real “villain” is. The story very much plays on the trope of right vs. wrong and every shade of grey in between.

I will definitely recommend that everyone go and see this movie. Regardless of if you are a fan of comics or not the story and cinematography alone are worth seeing. Coogler and his team crafted probably one of the best Marvel movies to date. I would rate this movie a solid 9/10. As a comic fan there are nit picky things that I didn’t like, but I didn’t let them discolour my impression from the movie.  Check this out as soon as you can! I’ll be back next week for another installment of most underrated heroes, see you then!

black-panther-poster

Wakanda Forever

Venom – A History

With the release of the Venom teaser starring Tom Hardy, I decided to focus this week’s post on the villain turned anti-hero, Venom. I for one am very excited about the film, and despite the backlash surrounding the teaser think it will turn out great. There has been a lot of controversy online about them not showing the suit or even the symbiote. One thing that keeps getting forgotten is that it was a TEASER for the trailer. Not only that, but filming only wrapped shortly before Christmas and so the CGI is probably not finished on the film. Okay, now that that’s out of the way, we can move on to the character himself!

Originally the idea for a new costume for Spider-Man was created by a Marvel Comics reader named Randy Schueller. The idea was purchased from him in 1982 for a total of $220.00.

Venom first appeared as the  black costume or “alien costume” form in December of 1984 during the Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars event. It attached itself to Spider-Man when his suit was ripped and torn in battle. Because Spider-Man was the first host, all subsequent hosts gain some of the abilities of Spider-Man such as: Web slinging, wall crawling, super strength, and speed.

Several artists and creators at Marvel had a hand in creating the “alien suit”; the creators involved were: Roger Stern, Tom DeFalco, Mike Zeck and Ron Frenz.

The official character of Venom was created by David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane in 1988 and first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #299 in May of that year, having received a cameo in the April issue of the same run.

 

HISTORY

The Venom symbiote is actually a sentient creature hatched on the planet Klyntar. The symbiotes of Klyntar were part of an organization called the Agents of the Cosmos. As agents, they were tasked with finding suitable hosts in order to create a force of noble warriors to maintain peace across the universe. The Venom symbiote chose poorly for its first host and was forced to carry out a genocide on the host’s planet. This genocide twisted the symbiote into a hate-filled and rage addicted being. Despite being twisted, it wanted to bond with all future hosts and protect them rather than dominate them. Due to this desire and the twisted nature of the symbiote, it was imprisoned by the other Agents of the Cosmos who feared it would contaminate the gene pool. When the Beyonder was creating Battleworld, he inadvertently incorporated the prison for the Venom symbiote into the Battleworld.

Contrary to what most readers think, Spider-Man was not the first superhero to don the alien suit. That honour fell to none other than the Merc with the Mouth, Deadpool. Deadpool found the prison and allowed the symbiote to attach itself to his costume (which had been damaged in battle). When he felt the symbiote begin to interface with his mind, Deadpool removed the symbiote and placed it back in its prison for fear that his own insanity would adversely affect it. Moments later, Spider-Man showed up and released the symbiote and allowed it to bond with him. This provided Spider-Man with a suit that could mimic street clothes, provided stronger webbing and took the colour scheme of the second Spider-Woman ( Julia Carpenter).

Spider-Man

Back on Earth Spider-Man used the suit for months before realizing it was exerting control. He removed the suit in the bell tower of a church with the help of the sonic waves created by the ringing bell. The suit then returned to Peter’s apartment and took the form of a regular blue and red Spider-Man suit and waited for him to put it on. After realizing the suit had returned and he had bonded with it again, Spider-Man needed help. He went to the Fantastic Four to get help and they aided him in removing the suit. After Spider-Man got rid of the suit, the symbiote fled before trying to return to both him and Deadpool. Both men rejected it after it bit the arm off a bounty hunter sent to capture it by the Collector (Benicio Del Torro from GotG). The symbiote fled to the church where Spider-Man had removed it earlier, Our Lady of Saints Church, and  found a new host in the form of disgraced journalist, Eddie Brock.

Eddie had been having a rough go of things… He lost his job as a journalist, he had been diagnosed with adrenal cancer, he had been disowned by his father and his wife had left him. He was contemplating suicide when he went to the Our Lady of Saints church to pray for forgiveness. It was there that the symbiote was drawn to him. His hatred with Spider-Man for ruining his journalism career was amplified by the symbiote and turned into a fixation of either reclaim Spider-Man or killing him.

Over several years Venom and Spider-Man would fight. Eddie believed the symbiote wanted to return to Spider-Man and would leave him if given the chance, so Eddie resolved the only way to keep the symbiote was to kill Spider-Man. During a battle with Styx and Stone, in which Eddie had become a vigilante and was assisting Spider-Man, the symbiote appeared to have been killed by Styx’s deathly touch. When the symbiote healed it found Eddie in prison and broke him out. The symbiote reproduced asexually and it’s offspring bonded with Eddie’s cellmate Cletus Kasady creating Carnage.

The symbiote then left Eddie Brock and bonded with Mac Gargan (the Scorpion) a low level villain that agreed to satiate its blood lust and kill Spider-Man. Gargan would go onto be a member of the Thunderbolts and Sinister 12. He was nearly killed when he tracked down a former host and it was revealed to be Eddie Brock. Brock had the remnants of the Venom symbiote in his blood mutated and became Anti-Venom. Gargan barely escaped alive and the symbiote was badly damaged during the fight when it tried to leave Gargan and bond with Brock. Following the events of Siege, the US Military took possession of the symbiote.

Venom 2

Flash Thompson was a war hero who had lost his legs in combat. He was recruited by the military to become Agent Venom. Agent venom worked with Flash and was sent on covert mission around the globe. The time it took for the symbiote to completely bond with its host was 48 hours, and as such Flash was only allowed to wear the symbiote for missions. He was able to remain in control of the symbiote until he got mad in which case the symbiote was able to take over regardless of the suppressant drugs the military was pumping into the symbiote. Flash participated in many Avengers mission as a Secret Avenger and was even a member of the Thunderbolts. He was asked by Steve Rogers to take Iron Man’s place as liaison with the Guardians of the Galaxy. During his tenure with the Guardians, the Klyntar Hive Mind attempted to reconnect with the symbiote which caused the symbiote to go berserk. The symbiote took over each member of the Guardians until it at last found Drax, who was able to pilot the ship to the symbiote home world of Klyntar. There the symbiote voluntarily re-integrated with the Hive Mind and was cleansed of its blood lust and hatred before being re-bonded with Flash.

Agent Venom

Upon return to Earth after the second Civil War, Flash was hunting down Mania and was attacked by an FBI task force equipped with Anti-symbiote weaponry. The symbiote left Flash and ran, due to it’s shame for reverting to its bloodthirsty ways. It happened upon a former Army Ranger, Lee Price,  who was about to be gunned down in a botched arms deal between two rival gangs. The symbiote bonded with him to protect him but was quickly dominated by the soldier’s will. Price quickly went on to massacre both sides in the gang conflict and used traumatic childhood memories to shut the symbiote up when it rejected his commands. Price would further use the symbiote as a means of crime and vigilantism until two FBI agents discovered his identity. These agents told Price they would expose him as Venom if he did not comply and return to the FBI. When Price refused to go (obviously), Eddie Brock and his anti-symbiote task force, along with Spider-Man managed to separate Price from the symbiote.  Price was arrested by the NYPD before being broken out by Maniac. While the symbiote was en route to the FBI headquarters in New York to be handed over to Alpha Flight; Brock broke the symbiote out of captivity reuniting with it once more. With the symbiote bonding to Brock again, Venom has become the Lethal Protector he once was.

SYMBIOTE

While the symbiote itself bonds with another being to reach its full potential, it does itself have it’s own personality and thoughts. The first host it bonded with was corrupt and thus corrupted the symbiote to the point that it was addicted to rage and hatred. As previously stated it was because of this that it was captured and imprisoned by the Agents of the Cosmos. Prior to being bonded with Spider-Man the symbiote was only able to understand simple emotions like sadness, happiness and anger. The symbiote viewed Peter Parker as his ideal host and was able to understand more complex emotions when bonded with him. When Peter rejected the symbiote it’s admiration for him was replaced with hatred and anger. It never truly liked any of its subsequent hosts believing them all to be inferior to Peter Parker.

The symbiote is adverse to lying and will be brutally honest if given the time to speak. It will normally say the things it knows will get you to lose control and give into the rage that it feeds on.

Venom Symbiote

Prior to it being cleansed, the symbiote’s blood lust was insatiable. Eddie Brock described it as ” an ocean of darkness trying to drown him with its rage and hunger, reducing his mind to a “red ruin” at its most intense”. This blood lust only increased as time went on until when it was bonded with Mac Gargan, it forced Mac to bend to its will. Mac became overwhelmed by the symbiote’s blood lust and resorted to cannibalism as a means to satiate it’s desire for blood. When it was bonded with Flash, he took suppressant drugs to keep the symbiote under control, but if Flash ever lost control and gave into his rage, the symbiote would take over. After abandoning Gargan, the symbiote attempted to find itself a permanent host. The symbiote wished to find the strongest host and as such would bond with an individual while still searching for a stronger host. This led to the symbiote attempting to abandon Eddie and Flash while in various conflicts. The symbiote tried to abandon Flash to bond with Kaine (a clone of Peter Parker) but Flash was able to stop the symbiote through sheer force of will.

Once it was cleansed of it’s rage and blood lust, the symbiote became docile repentant and subservient to its host (Flash Thompson at the time) in essence, what it was intended to be all along. When Flash expressed concern that his own hot headedness might affect the symbiote and change it again; the symbiote spoke to Flash saying it preferred him as a host and called Flash its friend.

Because it’s comics and the symbiote can never just be at peace it slowly reverted back to its old ways until it was forcibly removed from Flash. After the ordeal with Lee Price, being captured by the FBI and being re-bonded to Eddie,  the symbiote became re-corrupted but still wanted to be a hero. The blood lust returned and Eddie was forced to seek help from Alchemex which cured the issue and returned the symbiote to its benevolent state post cleansing.

The symbiote is very possessive and as such will violently defend its wearer if attacked. This has led to several brutal fights between Venom and others throughout his comic run.

POWERS GRANTED BY THE SYMBIOTE

The symbiote is able to act on its own without a host body. It is able to controls its tendrils and tentacles and can even assume a humanoid shape briefly. When bonded with a host, it takes on a black and white coloured suit with large white eyes and a large mouth filled with sharp teeth.  Due to having been bonded with Spider-Man for an extended period of time it gained access to his genetic code and can bestow similar powers onto any being that becomes its host. In addition to Spider-Manlike powers, it also enhances all the physical attributes of its host to superhuman levels.

Venomverse

Some of the powers it grants are as follows:

  • Superhuman Strength
  • Superhuman Durability
  • Superhuman Stamina
  • Healing Factor – Able to cure ailments and injuries human beings cannot ie. Cancer.
  • Genetic Memory
  • Offspring Detection
  • Wall Crawling
  • Webbing Generation
  • Constituent Matter Generation
  • Constituent Matter Manipulation
  • Spider Sense
  • Immunity to Spider Sense – Venom is one of the few characters in Marvel comics that cannot be picked up by Spider-Man’s Spider Sense. Ben Reilly who was cloned prior to Peter becoming host to Venom, is still able to detect Venom with his Spider Sense.
  • Camouflage – Able to mimic clothing, and surroundings
  • Poisonous Fangs
  • Parasitic Inheritance – Able to copy the abilities of hosts it had been bonded to
  • Shapeshifting

The Symbiote does not have many weaknesses other than sonic attacks and intense heat. Since it first bonded with Spider-Man, these attacks have become less effective as the symbiote has built up an immunity.

Venom is one of the best Spider-Man villains specifically for his belief that if the symbiote can’t bond with Spider-Man then he has to die. With everything that happened to the symbiote it’s no wonder that it turned out the way it did (a murderous cannibalistic rage monster). The journey that the symbiote went on after being bonded with Eddie has shown that while something might start off as evil there is always the room for growth. Venom went from being a genocidal symbiote, to a villain, to a hero, back to villain, and back to hero. Now, in Marvel publications, he has been termed as an anti-hero (Awe YEAH) and I think this is a great arc for the character to go through.

spider-man-carnage-vs-venom

I’m super excited for the movie starring Tom Hardy and I think if done right (knock on wood) it could be a great film. I understand the trouble with having a Venom movie without have a black suit Spider-Man; however, sometimes you just have to accept that not everything can be done. We got a black suit Spider-man in the terrible Spider-Man 3 from 2007 and the fans were not impressed… mostly due to the dancing and Topher Grace. The suit when on Spider-Man looked good, but the skinny emo Venom we were given was just a travesty. I am really hoping for a redemption of the character by Tom Hardy. Hardy is a great actor and I’ve never seen a role that he didn’t perform well. One of his greatest performances for me has to be in Inception. Just his general badassery in that movie was top notch. If he can channel that energy into his role as Eddie Brock, we may finally get the lethal protector comic fans have been waiting for.

Well there you have it, a breakdown of Venom before the Venom movie comes out. Any questions or comments feel free to post. as always, See you next week!

How Does A Sith Get Their Lightsaber?

This week, I decided to focus on Star Wars since the release of the Solo: A Star War Story trailer on Monday morning. I will not be doing an analysis of the trailer frankly because it’s under 2 minutes long and for some reason this movie doesn’t interest me as much as Rogue One did. With all the drama that went on behind the scenes of this movie, and the studio reportedly not having faith in it, I won’t be holding my breath on this one.

Enough about Solo, let’s get back to the post at hand… how Siths get their lightsabers? Before we dive into the Expanded Universe answer, and the newer retconned Marvel answer, a quick history lesson on the Sith and how they came to be.

Sith Code

*Sith Code

HISTORY

First thing to say is that unless you have delved deep into the expanded universe (prior to Disney purchase); you are probably not aware that the term “Sith” actually describes a species of alien which evolved on the planet Korriban. This takes place roughly 100,000 years before the battle of Yavin (BBY). It wasn’t until roughly 28,000 BBY, that the Sith King Adas, successfully united the peoples of Korriban and ruled them as their Sith’ari (Warlord). Adas’ reign lasted unopposed for several centuries until an invasion by the Rakata of the Infinite Empire put that into jeopardy. Adas waged a war against the Rakata effectively driving them from Sith Space. During his rebellion Adas’ troops secured Rakata ships and used them to expand the Sith Empire to Ziost, Tund, and Malachor V. His victory was short lived, as the fighting had cost Adas his life. The Sith species fell to infighting with several factions scrambling for the power left by Adas. The planet of Korriban was ravaged by war and when a new Sith Warlord destroyed the cities of Korriban, the Sith species were pushed back to the primitive stages.

In 25,053 BBY, the first Galactic Republic was being formed on the planet of Tython. Leaders and warriors from across the galaxy traveled to Tython to discuss the energy field present in the galaxy, the Force. Several of the members in attendance advocated for the use of Bogan. Bogan is what we would eventually come to know as the Dark Side of the Force. During the Force Wars of Tython the followers of the light fought and defeated the followers of Bogan. During 24,500 BBY, a Jedi named Xendor left the Jedi order along with many other students to pursue the Dark Side. Taking the name of Legions of Lettow, they came into conflict with the reigning order of the Jedi. The war between these two sides became known as the First Great Schism and resulted with the Legions of Lettow being defeated;  and thus the light side fostered for thousands of years.

The_First_Dark_Sith_Lords_on_Korriban*First Dark Lords of Korriban

7,000 BBY was the year that the Dark Side gained a hold again. Several Jedi had come to learn of the dark workings that the force could manage and had become reliant on them. When they campaigned for support from the Jedi Order they were cast out and deemed “Dark Jedi”. These Dark Jedi then launched a war against the Jedi Order that would be known as the “Hundred Year Darkness”. During the Battle of Corbos, the Dark Jedi were defeated. Unable to control their infighting, they slaughtered more of themselves than the Jedi did; leaving the few remaining to be killed by Jedi bombs or captured. After their defeat, the Jedi loaded their prisoners onto unarmed transport ships and took all their weapons from them. The ships were pre-set to enter the unknown regions of space which would allow the Dark Jedi to contemplate the error of their ways.

Their ship emerged from hyperspace over the planet of Korriban. The Dark Jedi quickly used their mastery over the Dark Side of the Force to win favour with the Sith. The Sith people were so  amazed by their abilities that they were named “Jen’ari “, which means Dark Jedi in the Sith language. The Dark Jedi formed a close relationship with the King of Korriban, and then used that relationship to overthrow him. Once they overthrew the king and any who were loyal to him, they acted swiftly to take dominion of the Sith species. The Dark Jedi then proclaimed their leader as the Dark Lord of the Sith; and thus, the modern order of the Sith was born. Over the next several generations the Dark Jedi and the Sith of Korriban interbred to the point where they were a single entity and not able to be distinguished apart.

The History of the Sith spans tens of thousands of years and is far too much to concentrate into one post. Just know that until roughly 60 BBY, the Sith waged many wars against the Jedi and the Republic even going so far as to attack the Jedi Temple on Coruscant directly.

SITH ORDER

The Sith never had just one Order; by that I mean, unlike the Jedi Order, the Sith Empire went by various names through its tenure. Depending on who was the leader of the Empire, depended on what it went by. Here is a brief list of  the various names the Sith Empire went by and their most notable ruler/member:

  •  Sith Empire, “Old Sith Empire” – Most notable ruler: Darth Vitiate
  • Brotherhood of the Sith  “Sith Brotherhood” – Most notable ruler: Exar Kun
  • Sith Triumvirate – Most notable ruler: Darth Nihilus
  • New Sith, “New Sith Empire” – Most notable ruler: Darth Ruin
  • Brotherhood of Darkness – Most notable ruler: Skere Kaan
  • The Order of the Sith Lords, “Bane’s Sith Order” – Most notable member: Darth Vader
  • Lumiya’s Sith – Most notable member: Darth Caedus
  • The Lost Tribe of the Sith – Most notable ruler: Yaru Korsin
  • One Sith “New Sith Order” – Most notable ruler: Darth Krayt

Vitiate

*Darth Vitiate

EXPANDED UNIVERSE 

Alright, so now let’s get down to the topic of this post, how a Sith gets their lightsaber. Prior to the Disney purchase, the Star Wars Universe was quite expansive. It encompassed hundreds of thousands of years of history and provided rich backstories to some well known characters while establishing complete new characters as fan favourites.

Most Star Wars fans know that a Jedi creates their own lightsaber when they are a young Padawan. The television show Star Wars: Clone Wars actually explains the entire process in an episode during one of the later seasons of the show. Each Padawan must find their Kyber crystal and construct their own saber. The Kyber crystals are what actually power each individual lightsaber. They themselves are believed to be sentient, in that not every Kyber crystal will work the same for each Jedi.  While a Jedi is able to use any lightsaber, the one they created with their own crystal will always be more in tune with their personal connection to the Force. The Sith have moved past this trivial bond between crystal and user.

In the Expanded Universe, the Sith have perfected the creation of synthetic Kyber Crystals. The synthetic crystals actually came more out of a necessity rather than the will to find an alternate source. When the Dark Jedi were first exiled, they retained their regular blue/green sabers. They used these sabers until they were taken from them, after their defeat, before they were cast out to Korriban. Being branded as wanted fugitives put a damper on them being able to stroll into a Jedi controlled system to retrieve a Kyber crystal to make a new saber. The Sith therefore found a way to manufacture power crystals to use in their sabers.

The Manufacturing process is pretty standard and was actually a very common process for scientists in the Star War Universe. It utilizes a piece of lab equipment referred to as a Geological Compressor. This compressor was originally used to simulate the geological conditions on distant planets in a lab setting. The Sith used this tech with some slight modifications to create the synthetic Kyber crystals. The crystals naturally come out with a red colouring due to the synthetic process, and as such generate a red blade. While the colour can be changed easily, the Sith liked to keep the red sheen to make sure they were distinct from the Jedi. The individual would load the raw minerals into the machine and leave it for anywhere between 24 hours to four days. During the process, the individual creating the crystals would meditate and focus the force into the chamber to create the potent and strong crystals.

While this process was much quicker than finding naturally occurring crystals, it created unstable blades. Most Sith utilized the unstable blade because it was stronger than a natural blade. During combat the Sith blade stood a chance of “breaking” the Jedi blade by overloading the energy matrix of the Jedi saber and shorting it out.

Unstable Sith Blade

*Unstable Sith Blade

The unstable nature of the lightsaber cause problems for the Sith as well. While it would cause more damage when it struck due to the unstable energy, it was also prone to shorting out temporarily.

RETCONNED UNIVERSE

Post Disney purchase, most of the Expanded universe was scrapped while Disney worked to create a new universe in which Star Wars would take place.  In this new Universe the only things that were deemed canon were the movies (original trilogy and prequel trilogy), The Clone Wars movie and TV show and the new trilogy. Since then the Universe has expanded to include the new TV show Rebels. During Rebels  we are also gifted with some Easter Eggs in the form of name drops for major conflicts ie. The Mandalorian Wars; showing that Disney is expanding the universe to include some of the original Expanded content.

Recently Marvel has begun releasing new content in the Star Wars universe which is considered canon by Disney. One of these titles is a favourite of mine, Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith. This series picks up immediately after the events of Revenge of the Sith, with Darth Vader finding his way in the new Empire. The First task Vader is given as a new Lord of the Sith, is to get a lightsaber.

It is revealed through the first couple of issues that the Sith have never used synthetic crystals to create their lightsabers. While watching as the “traitorous” Jedi’s lightsabers are incinerated in front of the Galactic Senate; Palpatine provides Vader with the truth behind the Sith’s lightsabers. A Sith does not manufacture their own lightsaber, they kill a Jedi and take theirs. Sith for thousands of years have used this method to gather their lightsabers and now Vader must do the same. When pressed further, Palpatine tells Vader that the reason that the Sith lightsabers are red and not green or blue is because they have been made to bleed.

Make the crystal bleed

When a Sith kills a Jedi and takes their lightsaber, the process of transforming the blade has only begun. The Sith must then take the blade to the “source of their power”. In Vader’s case it was the planet Mustafar where he “died”. There the Sith dismantles the lightsaber to reveal the crystal and by using the Force, imbues the crystal with all of their hatred, anger and malice. This causes the crystal to bleed and become the deep crimson of the Sith’s blade.

Make the Crystal Bleed 2

*It is unclear if the traditional practice is still used as this is what Kylo Ren’s lightsaber appears to be*

Vader forcing Crystal*Vader on Mustafar corrupting the Kyber Crystal of a fallen Jedi master

Once the Sith Lord has achieved the crimson blade he is then a full member of the Sith Order and can take his place at his master’s side. This task is difficult for most Sith after the execution of Order 66 due to most of the Jedi being hunted down and killed. It is revealed through the new comic series, and through Rebels, that there are quite a few Jedi who survived the purge and are hiding throughout the galaxy. In order to root out the remaining Jedi from the galaxy, the Emperor has begun training Inquisitor’s to operate as hunter/trackers for hiding Jedi, and to kill any they find.

 

So there you have it! That is how the Sith got their lightsabers in both the original Expanded Universe and the new Retconned Universe. Let me know what you think!

See you next week!