Hero Design Challenge: Captain Marvel

What’s one female Marvel Comics’ hero that deserves icon status? I’m not sure if Captain Marvel can suffice, but she’s a great candidate.

Before she changed into her current Captain Marvel duds, I, like most, was getting a little bit tired of Ms. Marvel’s classic costume, but at the same time I really admired it for its simplicity. I tried to draw my own take, with the challenge to be reminiscent of the ol’ black-and-yellow but to re-imagine a new costume that could help make Carol Danvers looking like an archetypical capital-H HERO.

What do you think? Did it work?

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Hayden Goobie, Age 8, Explains Captain Marvel

Meet Hayden Goobie

“Hey, Heyden. Do you like girl heroes?”

Depends.

“Depends on what?”

I mean, do you mean if I just like them or if I LIKE-like them?

“Well, just tell me what you think about Captain Marvel.”

Which one? The girl one? Because there are like three different girl ones maybe, at different times though. And there were I think like four or five boys who were the boy ones at different times.

“The Captain Marvel right now. Carol is her name.”

Captain Marvel #1 (2014)

Oh. Ok. Well, she’s basically an Avenger… in space. I mean, she’s a hero and she does hero stuff in outer space. She can fly and can blast like energy or something from her hands. She can even make her costume appear just like that … but I can’t snap my fingers real good … so I guess she has superpowers of dressing up. And she’s super strong I THINK, and super tough like bulletproof or punchproof or whatever. And she has a cat. Not like a superpowered kind of cat, just a normal cat. I mean, it’s like kind of mean or has some attitude problems kind of thing. So yeah, just a normal cat. Oh, and her spaceship is smart and can talk and sound like a person but it’s just a spaceship.

“Sounds pretty simple, then.”

But really she wasn’t always in space. She used to be in New York and even lived in New York, lived in the Statue of Liberty. I mean the Statue of Liberty was like her apartment. And she had a bunch of friends like Spider-Woman who is a superhero but also a lot of people who aren’t. She, Captain Marvel I mean, tried to be a hero but she was sent to the past for some reason and later had to fight a bunch of her old villains because they were all sent by her biggest Bad Guy enemy so that he could steal her powers and her memory but she got better.

“I think that happens to her a lot.”

I know, right? But anyways all of that was when she was Captain Marvel, and BEFORE all of that she was just Ms. Marvel. She still was a hero in New York and she tried real hard to be a hero and everything with like sidekicks and hero friends and things but she got kind of mixed up with all the stuffs that was going on like Civil War and hero versus hero stuffs until Norman Osborn tried to take over everything and the heroes realized what they were doing was kind of stupid and everybody just went back to being normal.

“The way I see it, at the start of it all, Carol was affected by seeing an alternate universe where she was one of the world’s top heroes. So that’s why she doubled her efforts to be a hero, even to the point of siding with Tony Stark during the Civil War, a guy who genuinely wanted to legitimize heroes but ultimately ended up going too far and taking heroes’ reputations, like Carol’s, down with him.

Uhm, OK I guess. But before that did you know Ms. Marvel was called Warbird? But not because she was a giant bird or anything. That’s what they call airplanes in World War Two. Duh! Anywayzz, that’s when she re-joined the Avengers team after being in space for a long time, but she drank too much alcohol and lied to people about her powers because they were like burned out or nearly gone so she got in trouble. Then she got better and had to do the right thing so she became Ms. Marvel again.

“Ms. Marvel is a more marketable name, after all.”

Well I don’t know about that but I do know that before even THAT she wasn’t even Warbird and she had an even more different codename which was Binary. She hung out with the Starjammers which are a kind of like space pirates and are friends with the X-Men. It’s because she was hanging out with the X-Men in the first place but then some aliens kidnapped her and did experiments on her and gave her powers of stars that are also called binary so she called herself Binary. I think she was pretty powerful and that’s why she couldn’t go back to Earth or maybe she was just angry and didn’t want to go back home.

“So she wasn’t always an Avenger but she was an X-Men?”

Uhm, not really. She was just hanging around. She was friends with Wolverine, because every one kind of knows Wolverine really, and she needed X-Men’s help because she lost her Ms. Marvel powers when she fought Rogue. Not Rogue from the X-Men because this was before Rogue joined the X-Men and was still a villain. She didn’t like the Avengers at that time because the Avengers didn’t treat her good and let her get in trouble with the Bad Guy whose name is Immortus or Marcus or something.

But before all of that she was just regular Ms. Marvel, and she fought aliens and bad guys in New York while also trying to have a secret identity as the writer for a magazine called Woman Magazine. Actually it was more complicated than that because Ms. Marvel had powers like danger sense powers and she would transform into Ms. Marvel automatically, but the different types of identity didn’t know each other which was kind of weird so they stopped doing that pretty quickly and just let Carol and Ms. Marvel be secret identities of each other.

“Wait. How did she get her powers anyway?”

Well, at the very beginning Carol was an Air Force person and a pilot and also a secret agent for the CIA and also a security person for NASA. I think that’s all. Yeah. Because of all those things she was working at NASA when the boy Captain Marvel– the very first one. well, I mean the alien one at Marvel Comics– was trying to hide on Earth as a Earth human. The boy Captain was also trying to save Earth from the aliens (who are called Kree by the way) and he took the secret identity of a NASA worker. But Carol was trying to track down the boy Captain Marvel and they soon met and teamed up a lot and fell in love and all that stuff. Well, anyway, of course the big Bad Guy alien kidnapped Carol as part of his villain plans and he also tried to set off this big alien bomb kind of weapon but the boy Captain Marvel and Carol stopped him but when the weapon exploded it changed Carol into giving her Ms. Marvel powers because her body changed into half-human-half-Kree.

“Wow. This does not sound simple at all, actually.”

Oh, it’s alright. She’s pretty much a basic superhero, basically. She has a flashy costume now that looks like space armor and that’s kind of cool, but really she should have a cape or something too if she’s such a basic superhero. Oh, and she should probably have these star shapes all around when she uses her energy powers and stuff and use like star-shaped shields and things. She should have a special jet that she uses to fly all around the world and into outer space, and she can keep fighting the bad Kree and other bad aliens wherever they are. And her sidekicks could be the Marvel Girls named Warbird, and Binary who are twins, and Ms. M who all have different special jets too and they can can fly around with different colored star powers then combine into a giant robot or something.

And that’s all I have to say about Captain Marvel.

 

 

 

EXCLUSIVE! Marvel and ABC to produce a Wonder Man TV series!

WONDERMAN a new TV series from Marvel and ABC

WONDERMAN a new TV series from Marvel and ABC

from ABC press release dated 1 Apr. 2014:

EXCLUSIVE! Marvel and ABC to produce a Wonder Man TV Series!

Joss Whedon continues to bring an expanding Marvel Comics universe to television! By combining the unstoppable forces of the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron sequel with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series, Whedon and James Padalecki team up for the television debut of one of Marvel’s fan-favorite characters, WONDERMAN!

Simon Williams (Padalecki) starts off as a man with seemingly nowhere to go– suspected of business fraud and forced to take the fall for his brother. But a daring plan by S.H.I.E.L.D. foe Ian Quinn (David Conrad) will turn Simon into Wonderman in a plan to take down nothing less than the Avengers themselves! Thankfully, Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents stand in the way, and help set Wonderman on a more heroic path– one that makes him a movie star in his own right! Will Wonderman have what it takes to be the hero that the world, or at least Hollywood, needs?

The success of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has proven that Marvel Entertainment rules television just as much as the movie arena. With its unique blend of action and humor, Marvel is poised to take over the entertainment industry, and Wonderman is a surprising entry that nevertheless fits seamlessly into its well-established canon of heroes.

“Marvel and ABC have proven a winning combination,” says Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, “We have hinted that there were big changes to Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. [series], and this is just a part of the tremendous changes you’ll see in the next few years. We hope to change the face of adventure on television itself!”

Executive Producers Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon and Jeph Loeb (Smallville, Lost, Heroes) reunite to bring Marvel and ABC’s next sure-fire hit live-action TV series, WONDERMAN.

Movie Discussion: Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher (2014) with SPOILERS

Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher (2014) Madhouse studios, Directed by Kenichi Shimizu; Screenplay by Mitsutaka Hirota; Story by Marjorie Liu

Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher (2014) Madhouse studios, Directed by Kenichi Shimizu; Screenplay by Mitsutaka Hirota; Story by Marjorie Liu

For some specific critiques, I’ll have to drop some spoilage. Just sayin’.

There are some neat nods to Marvel Comics here. For example, although the locations range from Slovenia to Istanbul to Hong Kong, the main throwdown is, of course, in Madripoor. Not that the place is much different visually from Hong Kong as presented in the film, but still. And there are several cameos by characters that let a geek like me, well, geek out a bit, such as having the Avengers cavalry include War Machine and Captain Marvel (who, coincidentally I think, were shown to be dating in recent Captain Marvel pages.) Not that these characters got any lines or much more than a couple of sequences, but still.

There’s a much bigger role for a character I REALLY grew to love but has dropped out of Marvel’s favor, apparently, and that’s Amadeus Cho. In this film, he’s “one of SHIELD’s greatest scientists” with no mention of his unique powerset, but still. There’s even Kirby the coyote cub! And for being one of SHIELD’s greatest scientists, he doesn’t really do all that much but work on some computers for our title heroes and provide some comedy relief for joining in on the Avengers cavalry at the end for some reason. But still. Oh, and his personality and character isn’t much more than geeky young ADHD kid with a crush on Black Widow, but sti– oh, forget it. It’s nice to have him here, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense if he’s basically interchangeable with the Tinkerer or Forge or some other minor, one-note Marvel character who could have done the same thing. Oh, Cho!

But really, I just couldn’t wait to write this review, specifically this paragraph right here. It’s because of one moment that made me laugh out loud and non-stop for a couple minutes. There is one character which I DID NOT SEE COMING at all. You see, it turns out that one of the Bads in the film (not the Big Bad, but one of the mini-Bosses) is…
in fact…
wait for it…
are you ready?
It is, none other than …
Elihas Starr!

If you are like my viewing-buddy who still don’t understand why I’d be cracking up, here’s the picture I had to stop the movie to show him:

egghead

Yes, that’s right. Elihas Starr, a.k.a. Egghead. Former archenemy of none other than Ant-Man, in this film he not only was “one of SHIELD’s brightest scientists” at some point (are all of their scientists this by now?), he was in fact the Black Widow’s love interest. In fact, his love interest is what fuels his descent into super-villainy so that he can prove himself worthy of her, as she’s always galavanting off into adventures instead of paying attention to him. In fairness, here’s what he looks like according to Madhouse studios:

AvengersConfidential_Egghead

So anyway, his mad scientist love is revealed at the end of Act II, as I said, which surprises everyone out of the blue, including, it seems, the Black Widow herself, and thus it all comes out as kind of pathetic. After waiting through more exposition and being introduced to the MacGuffin, you almost think that the Widow will use some super-spy skills to ingratiate herself to the organization (and you almost sympathize with Starr’s anti-SHIELD rhetoric), but no, it’s really just a big fight between them, because Starr has, like any good mad scientist, experimented on himself, and the Widow has to escape with help from the Punisher.

I’ll admit it– the film had me on the edge of my seat. But not for the reasons the filmmakers hoped, I think. I kept waiting for Starr to actually transform into Egghead with, you know, an actual egg-shaped head, but no, sorry. More strangely, in Act V, the Black Widow suddenly starts interacting with Starr as if she’s been in love with him all along! Wa-waaah! There was no reason for him to join with the bad guy terrorist organization or experiment on yourself anyway! As if that’s not tropey enough, Widow gets to hold him in her arms as he lays dying from trying to save her from the Big Bad, named Orion, in the final showdown. (Is it giving them too much credit that the villains are named Starr and Orion?) The villain is taken down in one final blow, of course, by the Punisher with a stab in the eye, so Widow and Starr can share those last moments of his death together.

As you can see, if you care about Women’s Studies critiques, this is not the film for you. The Black Widow appears like a capable character, but in fact does very little on her own. Although she can go toe-to-toe in a fight against the Punisher or even against Starr or Orion, these fights are actually taken over and triumphed by a male character instead. The first one? Her fight against the Punisher is interrupted by Nick Fury. The second one? Her fight against the Punisher is stopped when Amadeus destroys the plot device. Against Starr? Starr actually beats her several times graphically in the stomach to send her flying over some rails, “luckily” being caught by the Punisher. Against Orion? Tropey McTropeson, I mean, Starr sacrifices himself by standing in the way of the fatal blow.

At this point, I’m wondering why she’s even in the film at all. She only holds off the Punisher until SHIELD captures him, but when the plot needs to go forward, she has to break him *out* of SHIELD in order to get to the next level. (Even though it’s been clearly demonstrated that the Punisher is brainwashed and can be triggered by the very people she is bringing them to.) She gets Amadeus motivated by promising him a kiss, I guess? That’s agency of plot, right? Moreover, her character isn’t notable in any way, as she only gives exposition or commentary, often in the form of a flippant remark. What is her basic character in this film, anyway? She just kind of does what she’s told, either directly from a character or meta-directly because of the dictates of the formulaic plot.

Oh, right. I know what purpose she serves. Remember that tracking shot I talked about in the pre-credits sequence? The one that started by focusing on her boobs and moving to her face? Yeah, that happens a lot in the film. There’s also more than a few times when the camera angle is shifted, such as in a low angle, but the foreground is some portion of the Widow’s lower anatomy. If we’re going to have to listen to some exposition focused on the Punisher, we better do it by looking past a butt-shot!

Which is a shame, because there are *hints* of things that could make a better story for a strong female hero. Heck, just switch Starr’s name for the Widow’s actual husband from the comics, Alexei Shostakov, the Red Guardian, who (basically) was a soldier and a hero but turned villain/antagonist. The guy was even a former Russian agent, which is what the terrorist organization in the film was comprised of! It’s a natural fit and actually amps up the pathos in a more natural way, while putting the Widow for some soul-searching as she questions her entire history. And why not have that guy be the Big Bad after all, allowing the Widow greater stakes in the final battle? All very simple fixes that keeps the already-basic structure of the film in place.

Of course, I could ask why the Punisher is even here as well. Like I said, it’s not like he really changes in the course of the story. The Widow tries to get him to go “easy” on the cannon-fodder, as they were once innocent “like his family” once was. In the denouement, however, the Punisher tracks down the one arms dealer that almost got away, clearly returning to his original modus operandi. These token attempts to compare/contrast the two don’t go anywhere beyond superficial sentences here or there.

Oh, right. I know what purpose he serves. Guns are pretty cool, so we might as well explore violence vicariously through gratuitous bullet-firing and knife-stabbing. Take that, bad guys!

Hero Design Challenge: The Falcon

From a previous website I used to run, here’s my ideas about redesigning Marvel Comics’ Falcon, currently starring in Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier

Comics Redesign: The Falcon

For this design I was trying to push the Falcon into more of a traditionally “heroic” mode, in both costume and modus operandi. I would love to see Falcon standing tall on a darkened building, listening intently into the night, with a dramatic cape fluttering in the night air. He is kind of a Superman at heart with a Batman powerset in a Spider-Man setting. If that ain’t intriguing enough, you gotta read more comic books!

And with such a focus, a different costume might be needed. Here’s a quick sketch with a splash of color, but I didn’t have enough time to really the cape as I would have liked.

In other words, the cape doubles as wings by overlaying electricity/hard light over them, and his usually-open mask now has bird-of-prey googles in the design.

I figure, if you’re going to go superhero, then go big. The days of paramilitary fatigues and padded jackets/jumpsuits are over. Let’s go back to sleek, iconic, and sporty, appropriate for an idealistic do-gooder like Falcon!

more of Marvel’s Spidey Super-Stories present: The Falcon

Marvel’s Spidey Super-Stories present: The Falcon

Can you tell I’m anticipating the premiere of Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier? It’s like Falcon appreciation week here.

Anyway, there was once a comic for new, lower-elementary school readers called Spidey Super-Stories (1975). It featured Spider-Man (due to his licensing for the PBS series The Electric Company) as well as a diverse cast of supporting heroes, both from The Electric Company as well as Marvel Comics’ canon.

But it certainly helps to clarify and simplify the origin of the heroes, as Hayden Goobie would appreciate:

from Spidey Super-Stories #13 (1975) by Winslow Mortimer

from Spidey Super-Stories #13 (1975) by Winslow Mortimer

So… just to reiterate. Some heroes are made by being bitten with a radioactive spider. Some heroes are made when their parents are gunned down in an alley. Other heroes? They like birds and buy a pet falcon, teach it tricks, then later dress up like it and fight crime with it.