Most Underrated Heroes Vol.10 – Aquaman

This month for my underrated hero inclusion, I decided to focus on a hero that was hated by many for decades; only to recently, receive some love from the same fans, that hero is Aquaman. Now almost everyone is familiar with Aquaman for either the mockery meme that circled the internet for years, or for Jason Momoa’s portrayal of the Atlantean king in Justice League. Aquaman was a founding member of the Justice League and first appeared in More Fun Comics #73 in November of 1941. He was created by artist Paul Norris and DC Editor and writer, Mort Weisinger.  Aquaman has been a staple in DC comics since his first inclusion in the Justice League of America and has gone on to share in some of the greatest arcs in the past 40 years, Flashpoint Paradox, Throne of Atlantis, and New 52 Justice League Origin to name a few.

Momoa Aquaman

The next installment in the floundering DCEU, is Aquaman in December of this year. Momoa will reprise his role as the Atlantean King for the first solo live action portrayal of Aquaman. The film will center around him accepting his role as king of Atlantis, as well as his conflicts with Black Manta, and his half-brother Orm aka Ocean Master. James Wan, known primarily for his horror directing career, has helmed the project and I for one, think he can really bring the darkness and mystery that comes with Atlantis.

First thing’s first, let’s get a rundown of Aquaman…

HISTORY

Aquaman has had a couple of different origins throughout his publication history. His first origin stated that he was the Half- Human Half-Atlantean son of Tom Curry of Amnesty Bay and the exiled Queen Atlanna of Atlantis. His mother died when he was young and he was raised by his father away from the ocean until he was a teen and learned the truth of his heritage.

During the Crisis On Infinite Earths story arc, which rebooted most of the known DC Comics universe, we were given his new origin.

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Given the name Orin at birth by his mother, he was the heir to the Atlantean royal family. The Queen who had been unable to conceive a child with her husband King Trevis, had a dream during which she was impregnated by the immortal wizard Atlan (just go with it). During the dream Atlan predicted of Orin’s future, stating she would bear another son because the two must continuously struggle over the throne of Atlantis. After Orin’s birth, King Trevis immediately knew he wasn’t his son, due to his blond hair.

Blond Hair among Atlanteans was considered to be a bad omen as it was believed anyone with blond hair carried the Curse of Kordax. Kordax was a warmonger who nearly destroyed the entire population of Atlantis early in their history, he was the only Atlantean to have blond hair, and thus every child with blond hair is believed to be corrupted by his essence.

Back to Aquaman… Unable to admit that their child could carry the Curse of Kordax, Orin was left to die in Mercy Reef, where his ability to communicate with sea life caused him to be raised by Dolphins (again… just go with it). The King and Queen announced there had been a miscarriage and had another son named Orm, who would eventually become the villain Ocean Master. Orin swan with this pod of dolphins for several years with his “adoptive mother” Porm taking care of him. When humans killed his adoptive brother Drin (a dolphin) Orin left the pod to be on his own. He was found by a lighthouse keeper Tom Curry, who took the boy in and named him Arthur Curry. Upon Tom Curry’s death, Arthur spent some time in Alaska where he fell in love with an Eskimo girl named Kako. They would conceive a son named Koryak, unknown to Arthur for many years. He traveled the world doing good deeds, and even helped Flash in a battle with the Trickster. During the press conference following the Trickster’s capture, Flash called Arthur “Aquaman” and the name stuck.  Orin decided to return to Atlantis to find his birth mother and was arrested by the Atlantean guard and thrown in the Aquarium prison. It was here that he met and befriended Vulko, a scientist who knew of Arthur’s true heritage and claim to the Throne. Vulko taught Arthur to read and speak Atlantean during their captivity. When Arthur learned of his birth mother, the Queen’s death, he escaped the prison and returned to the surface. Not long after that he received word that Vulko had led a revolution in Atlantis and seized control of the throne for Arthur claiming his lineage as his right.

I Am Your King

This origin was later retconned following the story arc Infinite Crisis, to the original tale of him being born of the Queen and Tom Curry.

As the new ruler of Atlantis, Arthur took in a young boy named Garth, who was abandoned as a child by a group of Atlanteans called the Idylists, making him the first Aqualad. This young Atlantean would go on to share in plenty of adventures with Aquaman until his death at the hands of the reanimated zombified heroes in Blackest Night.

Aquaman met and fell in love with a fellow Atlantean named Mera, who he eventually married. She remains as one of his closest advisors and his Queen. Together they conceived a son, though his time on earth was short.

One the biggest tragedies for Aquaman was the death of his natural son, Arthur Curry Jr.. Black Manta (Aquaman’s arch-Nemesis) teamed up with some other villains to coordinate attacks against Aquaman to scatter his mind and leave him vulnerable. While Aquaman was fending off various attacks a diplomatic coup left him branded as an outsider and had a kill order put on him should he ever return to Atlantis. Through a very complicated series of events, Black Manta was able to kidnap Aquababy (Arthur Curry Jr.) and trap Aqualad and Aquaman in a death match arena, forcing them to fight to the death to save Aquababy from drowning (full blood Atlanteans drown in open air like fish). While the two eventually managed to breakout of the arena they were too late to save Aquababy. This broke the family apart causing Mera to resent Arthur for failing to save their son. Arthur and Mera were forced to ally with each other and fight against Ocean Master and a robot he had been controlling, which brought Mera’s feelings of love for Arthur back to the surface.

Fast forward several years past the Crisis on Infinite Earths and we arrive at the point where Aquaman loses his hand. After deciding to begin chronicling his adventures as a history of himself, he discovers that Ocean Master is indeed his half brother. This causes Arthur to spiral into a deep depression which Garth is eventually able to break him out of. One of Aquaman’s foes, Charybdis, planted a trap to capture Aquaman using an underwater radiation leak as bait. When Aquaman and Aqualad fall for the bait, Charybdis springs the trap capturing them. Eventually the two Atlanteans manage to escape and join battle with Charybdis. Charybdis manages to overpower Aquaman and holds his hand in a pool filled with piranhas that devour Aquaman’s left hand. Despite losing his hand, Aquaman manages to fight Charybdis and toss him into the pool, where he is devoured by the piranhas. Aquaman returns to Atlantis and retreats into the Aquacave where he remains for months until he emerges with a harpoon attached to his arm where his hand used to be.

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During Infinite Crisis everything changes for Aquaman. The Secret Society of Supervillains staged an attack on Sub Diego (yes… I said Sub Diego), causing Aquaman’s allies and fellow Atlanteans to rally together to fend off the attack. The Spectre has allied with the Society and during the battle, he destroys all of Atlantis with a single blow. The destruction of their home forces thousands of Atlantean refugees to flee to Sub Diego which is under the political control of Black Manta. Aquaman falls once again into a deep depression and mourns his people. The bodies of Vulko and Koryak (Aquaman’s son from Kako) are discovered in the wreckage of Atlantis, which causes Arthur to sink further into his depressive state. When Aquaman is sighted in the Battle of Metropolis fighting Bane and Headhunter, Manta abandons his political position in Sub Diego to strike at Aquaman when he is weakest. Aquaman loses it. He viciously beats Manta, destroys the Manta sub and leaves Black Manta to die in a frenzy of sharks.

In order to try and restore his home and save the refugees at the behest of Aquagirl, Arthur makes a deal with the Sea Gods. The Gods offer him immense power but it will cause him to become the vessel for something “strange, dark and terrible”. Aquaman accepts without hesitation and his mind and body warp, changing him into the Dweller of the Depths.

DEATH

A relative of Arthur’s adoptive father Tom Curry makes his way to Atlantis, revealing he received similar powers to that of Arthur through his own father’s genetic experimentation on him. This relative known as Arthur Joseph Curry (eventually taking the name of Joseph Curry) then meets the Dweller of the Depths who, mistaking his own memories as a prophecy, encourages him to become the new Aquaman. In order to teach him about heroism, the Dweller encourage the new Aquaman to travel the Atlantic Ocean and bring it to order. Fearing the Dweller’s power and his growing influence the “Order of the Thorny Crown” (the ruling political party in Atlantis and Sub Diego) order that the Dweller be killed to preserve their people. Using magic and the body of a fallen Atlantean, The Pardoner (a sort of mad scientist type) creates an assassin and names it, Narwhal, arming it with a harpoon and sending it after the Dweller. After getting past the remaining Atlantean army, and beating the new Aquaman in single combat, Narwhal proceeds to murder the Dweller by stabbing him through the chest with his harpoon. It is heavily implied that Narwhal is actually the re-animated body of Koryak that was brainwashed into killing his own father.

During the funeral for Arthur the entire Justice League of America attends the service and pays their respects to the fallen king. Due to the unknown power of the Dweller, several League members express concerns over whether or not Arthur could revive himself and continue as the Dweller. At the conclusion of the ceremony, Arthur’s body dissolves into water.

RESURRECTION

During the Blackest Night story arc Arthur is one of the first heroes reanimated by the power rings from the Black Lantern Corps. Following the defeat of Nekron and the expulsion of the Black Lantern Rings, the White Power Battery resurrected 12 people for an unknown purpose, one of them, was Arthur Curry the original Aquaman.

Black LAntern Aquaman

During the Brightest Day arc, Aquaman and Mera reconcile at Amnesty Bay and take on some Somalian Pirates where Arthur learns he retained his Black Lantern ability to command dead sea life.  Mera’s twin sister, Siren, attacks them with a death squad of exiled Atlanteans from Xebel (the Bermuda Triangle), the penal colony for exiled separatist Atlantenas. It is revealed that Mera’s original mission was to assassinate Arthur but she ended up falling in love with him and was unable to carry out her mission. The White Lantern speaks to Arthur and encourages him to find Jackson Hyde, not knowing who Jackson was or why he needed to find him, he resolves to set out to search for this mysterious person.  Before he can leave, Mera explains she knows who Jackson is, and states that he is Black Manta’s son. Arthur and Mera find Jackson, discovering him to be part Atlantean and able to use magic to create hard water constructs like Mera. Arthur urges Jackson, to help him and Mera to save the people of the surface from the impending invasion by the exiles from Xebel. Jackson discovers a suit of armour that allows him to focus and channel his powers and agrees to help Arthur and Mera.

When the battle commences the exiles of Xebel are caught between the Atlantean army and Arthur’s undead sea creatured in the ocean, and Arthur, Jackson and Mera on the land. Black Manta, who saw news coverage of the previous battle between Aquaman and the death squad, murders the entire restaurant he is working in and resolves to finally kill his nemesis. Manta joins the battle and sides the Siren and the Xebel soldiers, cutting off Arthur’s left hand once again. Mera, utilizing all of her strength is able to generate a massive tidal wave that sweeps the Xebel soldiers and Manta back into the Bermuda triangle where Jackson utilizes his new powers to restore the barrier (it had been broken during Blackest Night) imprisoning the Xebel soldiers and Black Manta in the Bermuda Triangle.

Aquaman vs. Black Manta

Arthur is teleported away and is revealed to be one of the elementals of the Earth needed to battle Nekron once more. He, along with the other elementals merge together in a megazord-like body to combat Swamp Thing, who has been tainted by the power of Nekron (again… just go with it. Not DC Comics’ finest hour…). Once they finally expel Nekron from Swamp Thing, Arthur is fully restored to life, losing his Black Lantern abilities and regaining his normal powers and his hand is replaced by the White Power Battery.

POWERS & ABILITIES

Like all other Atlanteans, Aquaman  has some truly remarkable abilities.

  • Atlantean Biology Adaptation – Under water breathing, adaptable to immense pressures, superhuman speed, superhuman endurance, superhuman agility, but cannot spend long outside of water. Aquaman is of royal blood and as such is able to spend extended periods outside of water and his regular Atlantean abilities are even greater than that of a regular Atlantean.
  • Amphibious Nature – Allows Aquaman to breathe in water and on land.
  • Enhanced Vision – Able to see at the incredible depths in the ocean where not even light penetrates. This also gives him superhuman vision on the surface.
  • Enhanced Hearing
  • Enhanced Sense of Smell
  • Superhuman Durability
  • Energy/Heat Resistance – Able to withstand energy and heat blasts from Black Manta, Amazo, and OMAC.
  • Superhuman Reflexes
  • Marine Telepathy – Able to mentally dominate marine wildlife to obey his commands. Through the use of the “Clear”, he is able to communicate with all sea life around the globe regardless of proximity. His ability to command sea life has been known to supersede the animals will of self-preservation.

In addition to all these powers Aquaman is also a master swimmer and due to his Atlantean physiology is able to swim at super speeds. He is an expert combatant, an expert tactician, and an accomplished diplomat.

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His main weapon in addition to his physical abilities is his Trident. Aquaman has used two different tridents over his comic career, the Trident of Neptune and the Trident of Poseidon. Both tridents offer full control over the oceans and the ability to project lightning and arcane blasts. The wielder is also able to use the Tridents to command a vicious species of monster from the deep ocean called, The Trench. Both tridents are one of the few items fabricated on Earth that can pierce Kryptonian skin.

WHY THEY’RE UNDERRATED

I’m going to start this off by saying that up until the New 52, I was right on board with the shit on Aquaman train. I never picked up a comic or cared about him as a character because of all the ridiculous memes and that abysmal cartoon where he rode a giant sea horse. BUT… once I read the New 52 Justice League and saw how badass they made him, I was hooked. He was a brawler who was able to go toe to toe with Superman and the rest of the League. During the Throne of Atlantis story arc, he actually took on the entire League single handedly and slapped them around like rag dolls. Literally. By himself, took on the League and won. Granted it was only the core 7 members, but still, that’s a huge feat on its own.

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Aquaman vs Jusice League

Geoff Johns did an amazing job re-imagining the character to make him more contemporary and bring his power set up to super status. Not only that, but I thoroughly loved the portrayal that Jason Momoa gave us in Justice League. That movie has a LOT of issues, but one of the standout roles for me was Momoa’s Aquaman. He made him into a more gruff and kind of “bro” style hero, while still exhibiting an air of regality. While they did nerf his powers and abilities a little bit, he still was able to throw down when it was needed. I am fairly excited for the movie coming out in December of this year. Not only do we get more Momoa Aquaman, but it’s also going to introduce Black Manta played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Ocean Master/Orm played by Patrick Wilson, and Vulko played by Willem Dafoe. Patrick Wilson was amazing as Nite-Owl II in Watchmen and I’m very interested to see what Yahya Abdul-Mateen II can do as Black Manta. I’ve only seen Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in comedic roles up until this point, so i’m very excited to see how his portrayal of Black Manta will go. Not only am I excited for the cast, but Director James Wan is known for his horror films and I’m curious to see how he will handle Atlantis and all it’s wonders.

Aquaman and Mera

Bottom line, I was wrong about Aquaman. Up until the release of the New 52 you could ask any of my friends, and they would tell you that I would rag on Aquaman all the time. I would cite the photo of him trapped by a plastic six pack holder or just end up calling him useless and saying he’ll get trapped by a fishnet before he could help at all in a fight. I’m not sure how most comic fans have not noticed how awesome he is, but I just assume it has to do with the same preconceived notions I had about him as well. I hope this movie helps to serve as the revitalization that the DCEU needs so desperately but if it doesn’t…Aquaman will still hold a spot as one of the most underrated heroes in DC comics.

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Mandalore – The Setting of the Next Big Star Wars Game

Recently a leaked schedule for E3 2018 has hinted at several new properties getting reveal trailers and teaser trailers at the fabled E3 conference in June. One such property is a new open world Star Wars game! The game that will be developed by EA in conjunction with Respawn (of Titanfall fame) is titled, Star Wars Bounty Hunters: Mandalorian Nights. It is rumored to be an open world, sandbox style game much like the Elder Scrolls and Witcher series. I know I for one am very excited for this type of game. Fans have been waiting for an announced title like this ever since Star Wars 1313 was cancelled when Disney purchased Lucasfilms.

Now, anybody who knows Star Wars knows that fan favourites Jango and Boba Fett are Mandalorian Bounty Hunters. Mandalore has had a rich history throughout the expanded Star Wars canon and recently got some more press within the animated show Star Wars Rebels. Though, the Mandalorians we’re shown in Rebels seem to convey a more Game of Thronesy feel than the famous warrior culture that nearly killed the Jedi; it was still great to get more stories involving them.  Star Wars Clone Wars also gave us some great stories involving the Mandalorians and the struggle of the warrior culture against the pacifist government. Now, for anyone who isn’t quite as familiar with the Mandalorian race… I’ll give a rundown of their history and culture.

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HISTORY

The Mandalorian Empire is quite extensive and has been a main player in the Star Wars universe for quite some time. Throughout Star Wars canon, Mandalorians have been known as Elite warriors, Mercenaries, Bounty Hunters, and Crusaders. Many of these people being in service to the home planet of Mandalore or its moon Concordia.

In ancient times before the Republic was formed, the planet of Mandalore was a vibrant and lush ecosystem. The various houses of the Mandalorian people went to war with each other to claim control over the planet and the opposing houses. The war and weapons used in the civil conflict as well as the war with the Jedi, devastated Mandalore’s surface making the home planet all but uninhabitable. This forced the people of Mandalore to create hermetically sealed Bio-domes or habitation cubes, to survive on the surface of the planet. Prior to the devastation of their lush home world, Crusader Mandalorians ventured forth from Mandalore and began to take over the planets that would eventually become known as “Mandalorian Space”. Due to their aggressive and militaristic nature this brought the crusaders into conflict with the Jedi and started the aforementioned Mandalorian/Jedi war.

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The Mandalorian/Jedi war went on for several years with Mandalorian tech advancing to specifically combat Jedi technology and force powers. In most of the engagements, the Mandalorians were victorious against the Jedi. Murals of these victories are on display on the home planet of Mandalore and its moon Concordia, in the capitals cities. Eventually despite the conflict between them, a single Mandalorian child was permitted into the Jedi order, his name was Tarre Vizsla. While he was in the academy, Tarre Vizsla created the fabled Darksaber. The Darksaber was a lightsaber that adopted a pure black colour and the shape of an actual blade, unlike other lightsabers which just sppeared as a cylinder of energy. Tarre would eventually leave the Jedi order and become ruler of Mandalore until his death prior to 1032 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin).Upon the death of Tarre Vizsla, the Jedi order retained ownership of the Dark Saber until the Fall of the Old Republic.

The Mandalorian Empire waged a war against the Old Republic for many years until, through many contributing factors, the Republic fell. During the fall of the Old Republic, the Mandalorian house Vizsla, broke into the Jedi temple and stole back the Darksaber, keeping it secret for many years.

Pre Vizsla with darksaber

Shortly before the invasion of Naboo, the second Mandalorian Civil War broke out. This conflict was between the pacifist New Mandalorians (supported by the Jedi order) and the militaristic insurgents working to restore Mandalore to its former warrior status. The Civil war was bloody causing many houses to lose their heirs or become extinct all together. Eventually Dutchess Satine Kryze and the New Mandalorians won the war, bringing an unsteady peace to the planet at last. Following the cease fire from both sides, Duchess Satine was nearly assassinated in several failed coup attempts. To protect her and the peace on the planet, Jedi master Qui-Gon Jinn and his padawan Obi Wan Kenobi were dispatched as personal protectors of the Duchess at the request of the Jedi Council. It was during this mission that Obi Wan and the Duchess fell in love, but neither of them could act on their feelings.

Duchess Satine reigned as the ruler of Mandalore throughout the beginnings of the Clone Wars before the insurgent faction, Death Watch, made its presence known. Death Watch was headed by Pre Vizsla, the last heir to House Vizsla, and the wielder of the Darksaber.  Death Watch allied with Count Dooku and the Confederacy of Independent Star Systems (Separatists) against the New Mandalorian government. When Count Dooku and Death Watch had a falling out, Death Watch allied with the still alive Darth Maul and his Shadow Collective. Darth Maul set plans in motion that ultimately ended with him taking control of Mandalore (for a brief period). He assassinated Duchess Satine, captured the remaining government officials, and beat Pre Vizsla in one on one combat to obtain the Darksaber and forcing another Civil War.

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When the Republic heard of what had happened on Mandalore, they dispatched their closest battle group to bring Maul in… their campaign was ultimately unsuccessful. Maul fled the planet leaving the young Bo-Katan Kryze, the new first lady of House Kryze, the Regent of Mandalore. She retained control of the planet for several years through the execution of Order 66 and the rise of the Galactic Empire. When she refuse to capitulate to the demands of the new Galactic Empire she was forcibly removed from her position as Regent of Mandalore and former Death Watch member, Gar Saxon,  was instilled as Viceroy and Emperor’s Hand on Mandalore. Saxon would reign unopposed for over 17 years until a third Civil War broke out between the Imperial backed house Saxon and Clan Wren who were fighting to remove Imperial influence from Mandalore.

The pacifist New Mandalorians were either exiled from the planet or executed as traitors to the Empire. Several clans would ally with the Rebels during the original trilogy with the soldiers loyal to House Saxon fighting for the Empire as Imperial Super Commandos. Sabine Wren of the Spectres rebel cell of Mandalore, would inherit the Darksaber when she found it on Dathomir following a confrontation with Darth Maul. Ultimately after an ill fated deal between Sabine’s mother, Countess Ursa Wren, and Viceroy Saxon, Clan Wren was branded as enemies of the Empire. Sabine was forced to battle Saxon in one on one combat and emerged victorious.

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House Wren returned to the planet Mandalore to do battle with house Saxon and the imperial force for control of the Mandalorian Empire. Backed by Clan Kryze, Clan Vizsla, Clan Rook, Clan Eldar and Journeyman Protector Rau, Clan Wren fought long and hard for the planet. Eventually it took the combined might of all the clans and the rebel alliance to finally defeat House Saxon and the imperials. Bo-Katan Kryze then assumed control of the Darksaber and the government of Mandalor. The remaining clans and Journeyman Protector Rau all pledged allegiance to the House Kryze and the new Mand’alor (Emperor/Empress of all Mandalorian people).

CULTURE

The overall Mandalorian clan structure is basically a pyramid with the Mand’alor at the top and their Protectors (government officials) enforcing their will. Just below the Mand’alor and the Protectors are the houses which can be made up of several clans. Prior to the execution of Order 66, House Vizsla was actually composed of Clan Vizsla and Clan Wren. The police force and secret service on Mandalore wielded electro-staffs and shields which were capable of stopping a lightsaber.

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Being some of the most feared warriors in the entire galaxy, Mandalorians were fiercely prideful and had a strict code of honour. One of the most recognized codes of honour that the Mandalorian people adopted was the honour of one on one combat to settle disputes. Whether it was to settle a disagreement or to prove they were better than someone else; Sometimes this tradition was used to settle leadership disputes as well. Mandalorians would often invoke the right of one on one combat the test their prowess in combat. Some Mandalorians even went as far as to challenge Jedi Knights to one on one combat to prove they were better fighters than the Jedi. Darth Maul invoked the right of one on one combat against Pre Vizsla for the leadership of Mandalore following the assassination of Duchess Satine. While Pre Vizsla wasn’t required to accept, the battle, his honour dictated he should, and he was killed by Darth Maul who then assumed control of the Darksaber.

As I previously stated Mandalorian weapons and technology were created specifically to combat Jedi powers and abilities. Mandalorians wore jetpacks that could launch rockets, wielded blasters and flamethrowers, used magnetic boots, and sonic canons. The favoured blaster of the Mandalorian people was the WESTAR-35 blaster pistol for it’s simple yet effective design, while the favoured jetpack was the Z-6 jetpack for its ability to launch missiles. One interesting piece of tech that was developed after the end of the Clone Wars by Boba Fett himself, was a neck wrap that was able to stop a lightsaber from taking off his head. Fans of the movies will remember that Boba’s father, Jango Fett, was decapitated by Mace Windu at the Battle of Geonosis.  The main fighting style of the Mandalorian people was a mix of ranged, close range and hand to hand combat techniques that utilized the technology and weapons in their vambracers and packs to surprise and overwhelm the enemy. This particular style of fighting was perfected after the first Mandalorian crusaders ran into the Jedi and began the Mandalorian/Jedi war.

Mandalorian Crusader

Cubism was the favored art style among the Mandalorian people during the Clone Wars. It was reflected in their murals, architecture, vehicles, clothing and even in their personal hair cuts. While some artists moved into more graffiti style following the rise of the Empire, Cubism was still the predominant art style. The main language of Mandalore is Mando’a with its written form being called “Mandalorian”, the people of Mandalore are also fluent in galactic basic.

 

There you have a brief rundown of the history and culture of Mandalore in time for E3 and the announcement of the new Star Wars game. I know I personally will be wary of the new title, given the abysmal game we got in Battlefront II. I have faith that this game may prove to be a great addition to the Star Wars catalog and with Respawn working on the project, it should prove to be something truly awesome.

E3 runs from June 12 2018 – June 14, 2018. Tune in to see some great reveals!

THIS JUST IN!!! As I was writing this post it was just announced that James Mangold (of Wolverine and Logan fame) will be writing and directing a movie centered on Boba Fett!!!!

Boba Fett

Most Underrated Heroes Vol. 9 – Wolverine

This installment of underrated heroes may seem to be a little ironic considering I am going to be talking about probably THE most popular member of the X-Men, Wolverine. Wolverine was already a popular character in Marvel comics for decades before Hugh Jackman brought him to the silver screen with his iconic portrayal. While there have been 5 different Batman actors, 3 Spider-Man, 2 Hulk, 2 Captain America and 2 Superman… there has only ever been 1 Wolverine. While Jackman’s run with the character finally came to an end last year with James Mangold’s Logan, his run in the comics recently got revived to bring back the classic character. Following the iconic story arc of The Death of Wolverine, Logan was put on ice while his cloned daughter, Laura Kinney (X-23), took the mantle over for several years.  Logan’s history has spanned decades from his first inclusion in Marvel Comics in The Incredible Hulk #180 from October 1974 to his recent return in 2017.

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Let’s dive into everyone’s favourite Canadian…

*This is a brief overview of the important aspects of his history, not a complete recount*

HISTORY

Wolverine was born James Howlett in Northern Alberta Canada (rumoured to be Cold Lake) in the late 1880’s to wealthy landowners John and Elizabeth Howlett. He was born very small and frail, often getting sick for extended periods of time. During his early years, it is revealed that his father is not John Howlett as he thought, but actually Thomas Logan, the groundskeeper of the Howlett Estate. One day after Thomas’ older son, Dog, attempted to rape James’ young friend Rose O’Hara, James told his father John Howlett what had happened getting Dog in trouble. In retaliation for James telling Mr. Howlett what had happened, Dog murdered Jame’s puppy which resulted in him and his father being expelled from the Howlett grounds. Thomas returned later that night with Dog in tow, in order to take his former lover, Elizabeth Howlett, away with him. There was a scuffle and Thomas shot John in the head with his shotgun. James, who had entered the room to see what the commotion was, witnessed his father’s murder and his mutation manifested. He sprouted three bone claws out of each hand and attacked the Logan’s with the ferocity of a wild animal. After killing Thomas Logan  and scarring Dog’s face, Elizabeth suffered a mental break and drove James away before taking her own life with the shotgun.

Rose and James fled the estate and hid in a shed where Jame’s powers continued to manifest even more granting him his heightened senses and healing factor. Rose and James attempted to return to James’ grandfather for help but were turned away and told to get on a train and leave town. With his newly discovered powers and the trauma he suffered, Jame buried the memories of that night under deep layers of psychosis and became a partial amnesiac. James and Rose ended up working in a stone quarry in British Columbia under the guise of cousins to avoid suspicion, it was also during this time that James adopted the name of Logan, to hide his true identity. As the months wore on James became more and more ferocious and his senses continued to heighten until they reached the superhuman level he would continue with for decades. As he grew up, he earned the respect of the other miners because of his work and his ethics but as he grew older he became to resemble Thomas Logan in appearance rather than his birth father, proving that John Howlett was not his father.

Wolverine

As he continued to work in the quarry he became a favourite of the foreman, Smitty, who took a liking to Logan for his work ethic and efficiency. This brought him into conflict with another miner, Cookie, who had been the foreman’s favourite before Logan arrived. Cookie saw to make things difficult for Logan by bullying him, cutting his and Rose’s rations and even shortening a fuse on an explosive Logan was using resulting in the deaths of five men. Logan took this in stride and hunted deer in the woods, sharing the rest with the neighbours making him even more popular than Cookie. Finally, during a cage match night, Cookie fought Logan. It was during this fight that Logan earned the name “The Wolverine” due to his ferocity while fighting. Rose and Smitty became engaged and Logan, who had developed feelings for Rose, put his feelings aside for Rose’s happiness.

Old Man Howlett (Logan’s grandfather) hired Dog to track and find Rose and James so he could reconcile with them on his deathbed. Dog tracked Logan to the small town outside of the Quarry and fought him in the street. Besides being the physically stronger and larger combatant, Dog was defeated by Logan. As Logan unsheathed his claws to kill Dog and end the memory of his past, Rose jumped between them and was killed by accident. Logan fled the town and ended up living with a pack of wolves for several years.

In 1907, Logan was away hunting for his pack when a genetically modified polar bear was released into the Southern Canadian wilderness by Nathaniel Essex (Mr. Sinister). The bear overwhelmed Logan’s pack, killing them all and feasting on their bodies. When Logan returned, he went to battle with the bear and emerged victorious.  A circus promoter and his trackers eventually captured Logan and promoted him as “the missing link between man and beast” during their circus. While one of the trackers, Clara, believed Logan had a soul, Logan refused to acknowledge her and accepted his new life as penance for killing Rose and failing his pack. Eventually Nathaniel Essex convinced the Circus promoter to being Logan to his lab so he could authenticate “the specimen”. Once at the lab, Essex killed the promoter and began experimenting on Logan to test his healing factor. The two trackers Clara and her brother Saul, eventually helped Logan escape and Clara began teaching him to be a human again. Saul grew jealous of their bond and sold their location to Essex. Clara is apparently killed in the attack and Logan allies with Saul to take down Essex’s men. It is revealed that Clara and Saul are mutants with their own healing factors and that Clara wasn’t dead but had learned of Saul’s betrayal. Enraged at Saul, Logan drowned him in a vat of chemicals. Clara rejected Logan saying ” the man inside wasn’t worth as much as an animal” and left him alone. It is later revealed that Clara’s last named was Creed and she informed her older brother Victor Creed (Sabertooth) of what Logan had done.

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Logan moved around North America working odd jobs and eventually made his way to the fruit orchards in California. It was here that he had a brief romance with a Mexican migrant worker. They made love in a fruit orchard before she left, never revealing her name and never seeing Logan again.

Logan had many romances with many women and fathered a lot of children. One of which, Romulus, the immortal mastermind of the Lupine, began to erase and alter Logan’s memories with his telepathic powers to make him suitable for Romulus’ needs. As he traveled the world, Logan came into contact with the Hand and Sabertooth. He fought Sabertooth and believed to have killed him unaware of Sabertooth’s healing factor. Logan then returned to Canada and fell in love with a Blackfoot native woman named Silver Fox. On his birthday, under Romulus’ orders, Sabertooth attacked and raped Silver Fox leaving her for dead. Logan confronted Sabertooth at the local bar and attacked him. Logan was beaten and in his rage reverted to his mindless feral state. Sabertooth convinced Logan that the local people didn’t want him there and thus hired him to kill Silver Fox because “she was the only thing keeping him there”. Logan proceeded to murder the whole down before he snapped out of his rage and realized what he had done.

In 1914, WWI had broken out in Europe, and Logan enlisted in the Canadian Army. He was assigned to the Devil’s Brigade, a special forces unit often used by Romulus. Logan fought and defeated a man named Lazaer, on the battlefield of Ypres in 1915. Lazaer was actually the Angel of Death, Azrael, who thought he had killed Logan by stabbing him in the chest with his sword before Logan turned the table stabbing Lazaer with the sword he pulled out of his chest. Logan was launched into a depression as ‘punishment’ for denying the natural order of things with his healing factor. For several years after the war, Logan roamed the earth as he saw fit and under the unknown guidance of Romulus. He partook in conflicts throughout the Middle East and Asia before returning to Canada before WWII.

In 1939 when WWII engulfed Europe, Logan once again enlisted in the Devil’s Brigade under his former commander Silas Burr. Burr was working for Romulus during both World Wars to influence Logan to Romulus’ will. Unaware of Burr’s connection to Romulus, Logan joined his company again and partook in D-Day and the liberation of the Netherlands. He aided Captain America during several mission to disrupt an alliance between Hydra and the Hand, joined Sgt. Fury’s Howling Commandos, and stopped a young Black Widow from killing the Jonin (Leader of the Hand). In 1942 Logan was captured by Japanese forces and taken to a prison camp outside of Nagasaki. Logan and another soldier escaped the camp and Logan fell in love with a Japanese woman named Atsuko. Lt. Warren (the other soldier Logan escaped with) attacked him and murdered Atsuko, as Logan and Warren fought, the atomic bomb was dropped leaving Logan as the only survivor.

Following the war, Logan took refuge in Japan and engaged in Bando Saburo, in order to learn to be a man again and not the animal he had been before. He fell in love and married Itsu Akihiro, the two of them conceived a child unknown to Logan. After being banned form the village for accidentally stabbing someone, Logan returned to his house to find his wife murdered by Bucky Barnes (The Winter Soldier). While Bucky was working for the USSR, Romulus had ordered him to kill Itsu and remove the unborn child from her womb. The Child was given to a Japanese family and raised without Logan knowing. The child was named Akihiro but eventually took the name Daken and fell to Romulus’ manipulations. Logan believing his child had died, moved back to the United States for a few years before returning to Canada for the Weapon X program.

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During the Weapon X program, Logan was experimented on by several doctors under the leadership of Dr. Abraham Cornelius, and had Adamantium (an indestructible metal) grafted to his skeleton; it also coated his bone claws with the metal making them razor sharp adamantium claws. To test his efficiency in combat, he was released on the nearby town of Roanoke with brutal efficiency. In order to turn him into a mindless killing machine Logan was hypnotized and told he was nothing but a mindless killing machine and that being a man disgusted him; eventually, Logan broke free of this programming and escaped the facility with the help of the Winter Soldier. On his way out of the facility he slaughtered nearly everyone in the complex having once again reverted to his animalistic berserker state. He wandered for many months potentially years before he was discovered by James Hudson ( to whom he was related on his mother’s side), founder of Department H. He was brought back to sanity and joined Department H, a superhuman division of the Canadian government. He worked for years on spy missions and assassinations before being set to take control of Alpha Flight (the Canadian Government’s superhuman team). Wolverine fought the Hulk and was then approached by Charles Xavier and asked to help him rescue the X-Men from an island being named Krakoa. During the flight to Krakoa, Romulus instructed Wolverine via telepathic link to assassinate Charles Xavier, before he could finish the task, Xavier cleansed Romulus’ control of Wolverine’s mind leaving him 100% in control of himself for the first time in a long time.  Wolverine saved the X-Men and decided to stay on with the team, formerly resigning from Department H and the Alpha Flight.

Logan remained on the X-Men for years going through many events and even losing his healing factor until his death in 2014 during the event titled The Death of Wolverine.

DEATH

The Death of Wolverine began when he met with Mr. Fantastic. Reed assured him that while he would be able to reactivate Logan’s healing factor it would take him time and not to fight while he did it as using his claws could kill him. Logan promised not to use his claws and departed from the Baxter Building to return to Canada. When he returned to British Columbia, Logan was attacked by AIM agents, mercs and ninjas all trying to collect a bounty that had been placed on his head. The various bounty hunters mostly took each other out with Wolverine mopping up the rest. He left a note with a local bartender that if anyone is looking for him they could find him on the island where he has fought the other bounty hunters. Nuke and several of his mercs showed up to collect the bounty and Wolverine but failed in their attempt. After dispatching the underlings it was just Nuke and Logan left for a final fight. When Nuke got the upper hand, Logan headbutted him with his adamantium skull until Nuke gave in. Wolverine then interrogated Nuke and found out the bounty was for him to be brought in alive had been placed on his head by Viper, the Queen of Madripoor, Logan’s ex wife and former lover.

Wolverine disguised himself as an arms dealer and traveled to Madripoor to get an audience with Viper to find out why she put the bounty on him. When they met, Viper saw through his disguise right away and ordered her guards to take him down. Logan defeated the guards with ease and then demanded an answer as to why she had put the bounty on him. Viper explained that she had put the contract out for a third party and told him she would reveal the name if he could beat her “pet”, a chained up Sabertooth. Logan and Sabertooth fought with Sabertooth landing a lucky slash on Logans eye severely injuring it in the process. Lady Deathstrike showed up and nearly killed Sabertooth before Logan stopped her. When he found out the bounty wasn’t just on him but anyone from the Weapon X program, Kitty Pryde arrived and phased her hand through Lady Deathstrike’s chest, threatening to kill her. As Logan passed out from his wounds, Kitty let Lady Deathstrike go injected him a regen serum that healed his injuries and brought him back to fighting strength.

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Wolverine and Kitty then travel to Japan under the instruction of Deathstrike who had mentioned Lord Ogun had taken up the contract. Upon arrival in Japan, Logan is beset upon by Kitty who was under the control of Lord Ogun. Kitty/Ogun fought Logan and ended up throwing Logan through a house during the fight. This allowed Logan the time to don some samurai armour and grab a sword to even up the fight. Eventually Ogun was defeated by Logan taunting him and Kitty was released from his control. After Kitty regained consciousness  she told Logan that she heard the name of the man who put the contract on him, Abraham Cornelius. Logan tracked Ogun to a factory complex where he was melting the body of Cyber (Silas Burr) because Cornelius was paying a hefty price for his adamantium skin. Ogun offered to provide Logan with the location of Dr. Cornelius and more regen serum if Logan left him alone. Logan responded saying he was done living forever and to tell Cornelius he was coming. Ogun revealed the location of Cornelius’ lab in Paradise Valley Nevada, and Logan set off to confront the doctor.

When Logan arrived at the laboratory complex, he used improvised fake claws to kill the guards and stormed the lab. When he entered the lab proper, he was greeted with Cornelius experimenting on innocent people claiming he was “getting it right”. Logan demanded to know why he was doing this and Cornelius responded with ” I want to be known for more than making a killer unkillable”. Cornelius stated that his creations were perfect and all he needed was Logan’s healing factor to make them unstoppable. Logan then cut his hand with a knife showing Cornelius that he had lost his healing factor. Cornelius ordered one of his test subjects, Sharp, to kill Logan while he taunted him from behind protective glass. During the fight with Sharp, Logan tricked him into breaking the protective barrier between him and Cornelius before knocking him out and crushing his armour. In fear of his life, Cornelius activated the Adamantium bonding process on the rest of the patients and attempted to flee the facility. In a desperate attempt to save the other patients Logan unsheathed his claws and sliced the leads from the Adamantium vat to the patients, coating himself in molten Adamantium. He injected the patients with doses of the regen serum, which had been created by Dr. Cornelius to supplement Logan’s healing factor, before heading off after the doctor. Logan caught up to the doctor on the roof of the complex and stabbed him through the chest with his claws as he asked Cornelius “…what he ever did besides killing?” With Cornelius dead and the lab destroyed, along with all the research data, Logan knelt down on top of the complex in the sunset and contemplated his life as the Adamantium hardened before he finally died of suffocation.

RESURRECTION

In Marvel Legacy #1, Logan is somehow resurrected and broken out of his Adamantium coffin. It is unclear how this happened, and even Logan himself is unsure. It is revealed that he is also the keeper of the Space Stone;which he defends from Loki, Frost Giants, and Ultron infected aliens.

Wolverine and Space Stone

POWERS & ABILITIES

Almost everyone on the planet knows Wolverine’s powers and abilities, but some people might not know all of them…

  • Regenerative Healing Factor – Capable of healing almost all damage done in mere seconds
  • Contaminant Immunity – Immunity from almost all poisons, sicknesses, diseases, medicines and alcohol
  • Decelerated Aging – Wolverine is Well over a hundred years old but retains the appearance and physicality of someone in their mid 20’s
  • Telepathic Resistance
  • Superhuman Strength – able to hold the weight of a dozen men with a single arm and lift a 955lb bear over his head and throw it
  • Superhuman Speed – Able to move at speeds capable of blitzing oppenents before they can pull their trigger fingers, able to keep up in a fight with Spider-Man
  • Superhuman Durability – Due to his healing factor and Adamantium skeleton he is virtually indestructible
  • Superhuman Stamina – Due to his healing factor he is able to fight at peak performance for over 24 hours straight, able to hold his breath for extended periods of time for combat underwater
  • Superhuman Reflexes – On par with Captain America, able to dodge bullet fire at close range, able to dodge Cyclops’ optic blasts with ease
  • Superhuman Agility – Able to dodge bullets and jump over 30ft in the air with a running start
  • Insulated Weather Adaptation – Immunity to climate and weather conditions, able to sleep nude in arctic temperatures with no damage
  • Animal Empathy – Able to sense basic emotions of animals and communicate with them
  • Superhuman Acute Senses – able to see incredibly great distances with clarity, perfect nightvision, enhanced hearing, incredible sense of smell akin to that of a wolf, able to track enemies over great distances by scent alone, able to detect lies being told by someone from the chemical change in their scent when lying
  • Retractable Bone Claws – 3, foot long retractable claws on each hand that extend through the skin between his knuckles. Dense enough to cut through woods, metals and some rock. Coated with Adamantium during his time in the Weapon X program to made them virtually indestructible.
  • Adamantium Poisoning Immunity – Due to the fact that Adamantium is a heavy metal, anyone using it without a healing factor will suffer from heavy metal poisoning.

In addition to his powers Wolverine is also: a Master Tactician, Master Martial Artist, Expert Marksman, Master Swordsman, Expert Acrobat, Master of Advanced Covert Ops, Skilled Mechanic, and Multilingual ( fluent in English, Japanese, Arabic, Russian, Chinese, Cheyenne, Lakota, and Spanish. He is also proficient in French, German, Thai, Vietnamese, Farsi, and Portuguese)

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His only weaknesses are: Sensory overload from his heightened senses, Decapitation or severe spinal damage inhibiting his brains ability to trigger his healing factor, Adamantium Allotropes, and Drowning.

WHY THEY’RE UNDERRATED

So Wolverine isn’t exactly that underrated in the classical sense, but when he is compared to literal Gods and beings with universal level power, he tends to be put on the back burner. Logan has seen his fair share of combat and use throughout his comic career.  During his most popular time in publication he was in January of 2009 where he appeared in 24 different issues of Marvel publications ranging from X-Men to Avengers and even Alpha Flight. The Death of Wolverine story line sold incredibly well and brought one of the most recognizable faces of Marvel comics to a close, at least for the time being.

Wolverine is one of the most popular characters in comics the world over. While Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man retain the top three spots, Wolverine would be at least number 5. He is by far the most popular X-Men character and I for one, really enjoy every time he’s included in the Avengers story arcs.

Mostly, Logan has shown time and time again that regardless of what the Joker from DC Comics says, it takes more than one bad day to turn the sanest man alive into a complete psychopath. I’m not saying Logan was a poster boy for pinnacle mental health his whole life, he definitely had lapses, but he always managed to bring himself back. Also, make no mistake Logan is definitely not opposed to killing but despite a few moments in his history, he didn’t enjoy doing it. In Punisher:War Zone from 2012 by Greg Rucka, Logan was shown the be sympathetic to Frank and his crusade. So much so, that when it came time for the final battle he was asked to sit out by Captain America. While Logan obeyed Cap, due to the respect Logan had for Steve, he did make a point of saying that sometimes the only way to stop bad people is to kill them.  Logan also starred alongside 2 of my favourite characters, Punisher and Ghost Rider, in a one off story called Hearts of Darkness. It’s a brutally violent comic that pits the three heroes against Blackheart and an army of demons to save the soul of a little girl.

Hugh Jackman did an amazing job bringing the character to the big screen, and helped to make fans out of some people who might otherwise have never read a comic book. While his over 6 foot frame was a little much, for most people it wasn’t a big issue. As I said before, while many other heroes got cast and re cast, there was only ever one Wolverine and that was because of how awesome a job Hugh Jackman did. He brought the tortured nature of ol ‘canucklehead as well as his ferocity to the screen in a manner that was completely unique.

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I really do think Logan should get more solo adventures and team ups with various other heroes. While I did enjoy X-23 (Laura Kinney) as the Wolverine following the death of Logan, she never had quite the same air of badassery as Logan himself. Logan represented the level of animalistic nature in all of us that sometimes can come to the forefront if pushed enough. He dealt with his consequences and never tried to hide what he did from anybody. This got him into some hot water a couple of times, but you can’t always please everyone. I am very happy that he was brought back and that we are also keeping X-23 as Wolverine so that we can hopefully get a bit of a mentor mentoree relationship.

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.

Still-of-Vision-from-Avengers-Infinity-War-trailer

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.

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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.

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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