Mental Illness is the Villain

After generations of suffering in silence, mental health awareness is now at the forefront of culture. In the world of super heroes and super villains, mental illness is an all too common underlying theme. The casual fans are familiar with the PTSD Batman faced after watching his parents killed but may not know he suffered this same fate after Joker killed Jason Todd, and Jason Todd’s subsequent battle with PTSD as he became The Red Hood.

Casual fans see Two-Face as a prime candidate for Dissociative Identity Disorder but may not catch the Coin Flip is a compulsion from the character’s Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Thanks to the Iron man films, Iron Man faced anxiety and alcoholism, though on a much smaller scale than the groundbreaking 1979 Demon in a Bottle story arc tackling his alcoholism. Dual diagnoses are all too common in real life, and the same goes for these comic multi-verses.

An entire thesis could be presented with every single one of these characters and their respective diagnoses, so this will be a generalized overview. Many people living with mental illness are often dual diagnosed. The most well-known being addiction and depression. Characters like The Comedian from Watchmen and Arsenal from DC turn to drugs and alcohol to cope. However, in many cases, there are multiple mental disorders such as Bi-Polar and Schizophrenic, called Schizo-Effective.

Another combination is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Anxiety. All of which are all too commonly compounded by Depression sprinkled on top. Or in some cases like Deadpool, the Joker, and this humble author, have an amalgam of mental disorders. As mentioned before, Iron Man was a great portrayal of dual diagnosis in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Jarvis informed Tony he was having a panic attack, as well as Depression, and PTSD, after the apocalyptic vision Scarlet Witch showed him during Age of Ultron.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is all too common amongst superhero origin stories. Marvel’s Netflix series Jessica Jones brought her battle with PTSD to the small screen.  DC has recently released the title Heroes in Crisis, with the underlying theme of the trauma superheroes must overcome. Thor in Avengers: Endgame, is a great example of a depressive episode resulting from PTSD, but not suffering from Depression. He experienced a trauma, so he became extremely apathetic, and seemingly an alcohol suggested by his new dad bod.

He was very sad, as he rightfully should have been, but without more than one episode, he would not have been classified as having Depression. His character in Endgame could also resemble symptoms of PTSD originating from The Snap or The Blip. DC’s Rebirth introduced a new Green Lantern, Jessica Cruz. The green lanterns are powered by WILL, but as a superhero with anxiety, she sometimes lacks the will to even get out of bed. DC does a great job of portraying real-life anxiety in the mind of this superhero.

She helps the Justice League stop a sea monster, then catches a submarine by manifesting her powers as a Green Lantern. Despite the external battle being over, she is still battling her biggest demon, her anxiety. She tells herself she can’t hold the submarine, that she doesn’t belong amongst these other heroes, that she is not strong enough. Then it happens again and it leads to her getting knocked down by a weak villain, subsequently leading to a confrontation with another Green Lantern, Simon, Jessica goes home, constantly reliving  all the doubts, and does not get out of bed to meet Simon for breakfast as was their routine.

The story ends with fellow Simon, in her kitchen making her pancakes to show she doesn’t have to fight this alone either. Daredevil is another Marvel character dealing with depression, and unbeknownst to casual fans, his mother left his father and him due to suffering postpartum depression. Writers have even tackled Agoraphobia, or the fear of leaving one’s home. During World War Hulk, Robert Reynolds, known as Sentry, could stop Hulk as he has the power of 10000 exploding suns. Sentry also has a “dark side” called the Void. Choosing to use the term “Void” representing the void he feels as part of his crippling agoraphobia.

One common complaint, the writers’ use his agoraphobia as a plot point to continue the story. This tactic receives criticism as lazy writing and lends to Sentry being a disliked character. But for the sake of mental illness, it does portray agoraphobia and give it a brief spotlight. Domestic abuse has also been a theme presented to comic book fans. The most notorious being the relationship between Harley Quinn and the Joker. But the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym was also abusive to his wife, the Wasp, which subsequently lead to her leaving him. 

There are a few fan favorite characters addressing Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder. Marvel fans have been voicing their desire for the presence of Moon Knight in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Moon Knight is a cult favorite among Marvel fans. He has three identities, Jake Lockley, Marc Spector, and Stephen Grant. Legion is another character dealing with DID, but in a much different manner. Each of Legion’s identities each come with different superpowers. Legion is said to have thousands of personalities within him

With mental health awareness on the rise, so are characters specifically meant to represent mental illness. Frank Gaskill and Ryan Kelly are both doctors, specializing in the Autism Spectrum. With their knowledge they created Max Gamer. Max Gamer, also the name of the comic run, has Asperger’s syndrome, now referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder. The creators do not portray his ASD negatively, in fact, they use the “symptoms” of ASD as his superpowers.

All these characters have battled villains to save the world, while battling the villainous mental illness within. While they may be superheroes that pop culture idolizes, never forget, in the real world, it takes super human strength to overcome these potentially crippling disorders.

Mike Hoff

Marvel Exhibit: Journey through the Marvel Universe

Upon entering the Franklin Institute’s Marvel Superheroes exhibit, eyes gaze upon an old newspaper stand lined with Marvel comics, all artwork, then proceed to watch a five-minute Marvel introduction video. This video mentions Martin Goodman, known as the founder of Marvel Comics, started off in pulp magazines before creating Marvel Comics #1.

The first issue featured The Human Torch, an android, not from Fantastic Four, pit against Namor, the Sub Mariner. The introduction video also includes tidbits such as Captain America nearly selling a million copies. The comic controversy of the 1950s, and of course, the origin story of Marvel’s greatest legend, Stan Lee.

This video surmises much of what follows in the exhibit, and these same points are mentioned in an interactive screen during the next phase of the exhibit. Longtime comic fans will already know much of the information presented throughout this exhibit, but there are still many reasons for these comic book fans to still attend, and for all to enjoy.

There are panels from The Phantom, said to be the first costumed superhero debuting in 1936. Also, panels of Flash Gordon, one of the most popular heroes from the early years of comics, which debuted in 1934. It is one thing to know the history of Marvel Comics #1, but at the Marvel exhibit, comic fans get to glance at an actual issue of Marvel Comics #1.

The first issue of Amazing Spiderman is also on display, along with Black Panther’s first appearance and first issue. The costumes from the Black Panther film were showcased along with the other Superhero suits and helmets from the rest of the characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One of the most interesting sections was the Comic Book controversy containing articles about the Comic Book Trial.

Comic fans learn comic books were being banned and burned as the superheroes would often be included with the crime genre, thus attracting the wrath of angry parents. This led to the Comic Code. A list of “Do’s” and “Don’t’s” for comic companies to follow in order to be published. This almost killed the comic industry, until Stan Lee created Fantastic Four, and the rest is history.

Another major attraction was the inside scoop behind creating comics revealed at this Marvel Superheroes exhibit. Located in the Spiderman section, there is an interactive screen depicting the process of comic creation. From lettering to coloring to editing, fans are privy to insights to how their heroes come to life. There was an interactive screen for comic fans to arrange panels and a Spiderman issue presented panel by panel from penciling to inking to lettering to coloring.

One of these interactive screens had a chart portraying the differences between creating comics traditionally compared to the modern digital age. Depicting the differences between the standard 4 color of print, CMYK, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and black; to the thousands and thousands of colors now available to comic artists. Another part depicted how four different inkers could have four different shades of white, thus providing fans a glimpse into the uniqueness of each issue.

The exhibit started with the characters from the Avengers, then moved onto the street level heroes of Marvel’s Netflix series such as Daredevil, Iron Fist Luke Cage. Jessica Jones, The Punisher, as well as Ghostrider to the space heroes such as Guardians of the Galaxy and mystic heroes like Doctor Strange. Also included were sections about the character progressions of Nick Fury, and She-Hulk, as well as Captain Marvel, including a web of all the characters connected to the Supreme Intelligence.

There were only a few negative aspects of the Franklin Institute’s Marvel Exhibit. First, the lighting made photography hit and miss with a cell phone. Some sections were too dark, or too reflective, but this is just a small detail. The main issue was the lack of villain displays and information. Granted it is called Marvel’s Superheroes exhibit, without villains, these heroes wouldn’t exist. Overall, this exhibit is worth the entry fee whether on a solo adventure or a team journey.

Mike Hoff

TOP 10 PATRIOTIC SUPERHEROES

In celebration of Independence Day, Obsidian Nomad presents our top 10 patriotic superheroes. These are the heroes that best represent America. A lot of the common denominators in these heroes are relationships to World War II and some kind of fluke accident or secret serum. Nevertheless, these are the heroes we most think of when we think of America.

Check out our list and let us know who you would add or take away.

Stargirl – Courtney Whitmore

First appearance (as Courtney Whitmore) Star and S.T.R.I.P.E. #0 1999 As Stargirl JSA: All Stars #4 2003

Courtney Whitmore is the stepdaughter of the Pat Dugan original sidekick hero of the Star-Spangled Kid, Stripesy. Courtney found the Kid’s old cosmic belt in the garage and originally calls herself the Star-Spangled Kid to annoy her stepfather. Later, as a member of the JSA, she meets the original Starman and receives his cosmic rod and changes her name to Star Girl.

Battlestar – Lemar Hoskins

First appearance Captain America #323 1986

Lemar Hoskins was given a version of the super soldier formula and was selected by the government to be a Bucky for the new Captain America when Steve Rogers had quit. He changed his name to Battlestar after another Black man reminded him that calling himself Bucky was derogatory because that was a term for slaves.

US Agent – John Walker

First appearance (as Super Patriot) Captain America #323 1986 – (As Captain America) Captain America #333 1987 – (As US Agent) Captain America #354

John Walker was given a version of the super soldier formula and originally became the Super Patriot as a nemesis to Captain America. When Steve Rogers was no longer Captain America, the government picked Walker to be the replacement. When Rogers resumes the mantle of Captain America, Walker becomes the US Agent.

Star Spangled Kid – Sylvester Pemberton

First appearance Star Spangled Comics #1 1941

Sylvester Pemberton was a kid superhero during World War II with an adult sidekick, Stripesy. Both heroes were lost in time with the rest of the superhero group, Seven Soldiers of Victory, and rescued in modern day by the Justice League and the Justice Society. In modern time and still young, Sylvester joined the Justice Society and used the then injured Starman’s cosmic rod. He remodeled it into a belt and changed his name to Skyman.

Patriot – Eli Bradley

First appearance – Young Avengers #1 2005

Eli Brandley is the grandson of the African American Captain America, Isaiah Bradley. Isaiah was part of an experiment the government had after the super soldier serum was lost after it turned Steve Rogers into the first Captain America. Eli, wanted to follow in his grandfathers’ footsteps, convinced the other heroes that he had powers by using an illegal drug to augment himself. When he was injured in a battle trying to save Captain America, he was given a blood transfusion by his grandfather which gave him real powers to fight as Patriot.

Miss America – Madeline Joyce

First appearance Marvel Mystery Comics #43 1943

Madeline Joyce was an heiress who tampered with a machine a scientist had created that he claimed gave him superpowers. While tampering with the machine it was hit with lightning and she gained powers. She used those powers to fight crime during World War II. She also fought alongside Captain America, Bucky, the original Human Torch, Toro, the Sub Mariner and the Whizzer in the All Winners Squad.

Liberty Bell – Libby Lawrence

First appearance Boy Commandos #1 1942

Libby Lawrence receives a bell-shaped medal that was shaped from a piece of the original Liberty Bell. When the actual Liberty Bell is rung it enhances her powers and she uses it to fight crime during World War II. She eventually becomes a member and chairperson of the All-Star Squadron and marries Johnny Chambers who is the superhero Johnny Quick. They have a daughter Jessie Quick who becomes the second Liberty Bell.

Uncle Sam

First appearance National Comics #1 1940

Uncle Sam is a mystical entity that is described as the “Spirit of America”. He leads the Freedom Fighters who exist on a world where the Nazis won World War II.

The Shield – Joe Higgins

First appearance Pep Comics #1 1940

Joe Higgins, the original Shield, was a chemist and the son of an army lieutenant that was working on a secret formula for super strength during World War II. When his father was killed by the Germans trying to get the formula, Joe finished his fathers work and used the formula to fight the Germans.

Captain America – Steve Rogers

First appearance Captain America Comics #1 1941

Steve Rogers receives the super soldier serum and becomes Captain America during World War II to fight the Nazis. During a battle with the Baron Zemo towards the end of the war, he is presumed dead but is really frozen in ice after falling in arctic waters trying to stop a bomb aimed for America. He is revived by the Avengers in the modern day and continues to fight crime and represent America.

Kenny Walker Jr

Cosplay: Inexpensive Methods to Make Priceless Memories

Cosplay culture is one of the most popular aspects of Comic Conventions. However, this display of fandom is found at many types of conventions. From anime to horror to video games, cosplaying is growing in popularity. Some fans and professional cosplayers spend countless hours planning and creating cosplay suits. They will pay hundreds of dollars for materials such as foam and garments, and even more for wigs and makeup.

These lavish, extravagant and intricately detailed cosplay suits can be intimidating for beginners or prevent some from participating. The message from this “Budget Cosplay” panel at Wizard World Philadelphia was captured in a statement by Super Kaycee, “There is no wrong way to cosplay.” Michael “Knightmage” Wilson, started cosplaying in 2012. His origin story began at a party, where he was invited to Cosplay at upcoming charity events.

Then he attended his first Comic-Con and became addicted to Cosplay. Yet this professional does not break the bank while creating these awe-inspiring suits. He announced to the crowd, he spent $200 or less, and 4 days or less, to make his over 150 cosplay suits. While you can acquire top of the line suits and wigs from websites like Arda and Epic Cosplay, Super Kaycee and Michael Wilson recommend scouring goodwill and thrift stores for materials. Michael noted once he began cosplaying, It began to open creativity when looking at regular items, while walking through dollar stores. Which I, as a beginner, put into practice.

I made my first cosplay outfit the day before attending this panel, so I could raise my hand when Super Mage, “Knightmage” and SuperKaycee, surveyed the audience to discover, two people had spent over $300 on a cosplay, while a handful of fans, including myself spent $50 dollars or less. Last year I purchased a Flash jumpsuit for $60. I promised myself I would cosplay as Black Bolt, from Marvel’s Inhumans, this year.

My financial situation did not allow me to purchase a base body suit or high-end material. So, I stopped at a dollar store in Philly after leaving the convention Friday night. I bought a barbecue fork, a du-rag, and a few rolls of aluminum duct tape all for $1.29 each. These items I used to make the helmet. Then I spent three dollars on an umbrella, then cut the lining to make a cape.

I bought a pair of pants from Wal-Mart for $7 and a pair of boots for $20. I spent a few hours, and when it was finished, I was slightly nervous. Feelings of anxiety wondering if the other fans would recognize my portrayal of my favorite comic book character. The result was a handful of recognition, and even one picture, which I never expected. A lesson, Super Mage, instilled in the audience, cosplay is not about perfection, it is about expression.

Another common misconception involves purchasing base suits as opposed to making them yourself. Beginners can be under the impression, if one does not make their own suit, then it “doesn’t count.” But SuperKaycee mentioned, making these base bodysuits is the livelihood for some artists. Purchasing body suits and wigs will help support local artists and small business owners.

These can be found on websites like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Wish, as well as on social media groups like Heroes for Hire Facebook page. This is where cosplayers network. One example they gave, if one knows how to do makeup, but does not know how to sew, and cannot afford to hire someone to sew, they can reach out to another cosplayer. This networking allows cosplayers to learn skills they don’t possess yet and pay it forward by teaching the skills they have acquired.

There are also innumerable tutorials on YouTube to guide beginners as they make their first cosplay suits. Wigs and makeup are the two materials which the hosts suggested spending a little extra to ensure the best quality. Wigs can be hit and miss, they recommend reading the reviews of wigs for sale, as well as entering “Cosplay Wigs,” into search engines to give the best chance of receiving a wig that will capture the look of that character.

You can even buy wigs, then go to a beauty school to have the necessary hairstyle. These beauty school students are looking to add hours towards their certificate, so it is a win-win for all parties involved. Like hair stylists do for their trade, SuperKaycee suggested investing in a quality pair of scissors for fabric and foam cutting. EVA Foam is the material used as the base mold for many of the jaw-dropping costumes seen at comic conventions.

From the Iron Man Suit to Thor’s Mjolnir to Gundam war suits, EVA foam is the most cost-efficient foam to purchase for cosplay needs. Other items needed to combine foam parts would be hot glue and/or contact cement. If using contact cement, be sure to apply in well-ventilated areas as it is toxic. Cosplays can also use shelf lining to prevent slippage and chaffing. Don’t let the idea of being uncomfortable for hours rub you the wrong way. When you see a child smile at the site of your suite, it will be all worthwhile.

The notion of having to spend a lot of money to create a great cosplay is just one common misconception of cosplayers. “Cosplayers can be seen as vain,” mentioned co-host, SuperKaycee. Most female superheroes and villain characters are cladly dressed, so female cosplayers often adorn cosplay which ranges from revealing to provocative. Thanks to the natural inclination of humanity to pass judgment, many onlookers take the unfortunate perspective these women expressing their fandom are just looking for attention or trying to flaunt “what their momma gave them.

These women are fulfilling their desire to portray characters that help them escape from life’s harsh realities. They do not cosplay to become the subject of desire, although life’s harsh reality takes a different perspective. Meanwhile, these cosplayers are some of the most dedicated and kindhearted people attending the convention. Taking their time to take pictures with children, families, and nerds that had to muster up enough courage to ask for a picture. Before passing judgment, remember the adage, never judge a comic book by its cover.

Cosplay has given nerds around the world an outlet and the courage to express themselves. Cosplaying is as much for the community as it is the cosplayer. You don’t have to spend paychecks on creating costumes, all you need is the desire to recreate your favorite character. Cosplay is an art, and every fan is an artist. Your masterpiece is a few thrift stores and hours of hard work away. The payoff will be priceless memories.

Mike Hoff

Nerdy by Nature: An Open Mic for Open Minds and Hearts

Nerdy by Nature is an Open Mic experience held every first Friday at the revered Amalgam Comic and Coffeehouse, located at 2758 Frankford Avenue in Philadelphia. “Let Your Geek Flag Fly,” is the mantra of Nerdy by Nature, according to its founder and MC, KeithfromUpDaBlock, and the performances to follow manifest this sentiment month after month. KeithfromUpDaBlock and Amalgam owner, Ariell Johnson, decided to create this amazing experience about two years ago.

Keith and co-host, Lot DaWordGician, longtime creative friends from their high school performing arts days, were involved with Stand Up the Movies yet were focused to close those doors when ownership changed hands. Amalgam Comic and Coffeehouse had been around for about a year, Keith and Ariell did not know each other, at first, he reached out as a sign of support for Ariell’s business. A perfect precursor mimicking the welcoming and supportive attitude of Nerdy by Nature. Their goal was to bring like-minded people together, and two years later, they are still succeeding at every event.

My first Nerdy by Nature experience came during the February event, and it was an experience I will never forget. My first time performing, I did three minutes of “Dad Jokes,” all Comic-Con and Game of Thrones related, and it was the first ovation I ever received from a crowd. Many “nerdy” comedians enjoy Nerdy by Nature as they can use material which typically would not go over as well to the general population. Plus, this “nerdy” material is often near and dear to their hearts.

Co-host, Lot DaWordGician, informed me, her favorite moment from Nerdy by Nature came when a fellow nerd spoke about Black Holes for ten minutes. While the material went over many audience members heads, it was a prime example of the nerds embracing their own. Most of the acts are comedians, along with poets, magicians, authors reading excerpts from their short stories. It doesn’t matter if you are black, brown, white, dressed casually or in full Viking gear, even if you are not nerdy, this open mic’s nature is to accept you for you.

One typical character trait of nerds” is social anxiety, and if I didn’t struggle with it, there may have been more quotes from amazingly talented nerds. Nerds have been given negative connotations in the entertainment industry for generations. Even Brainy Smurf got bullied by the other Smurfs, including Papa Smurf. I do not have to learn the stories of each performer to know many have dealt with bullying, loneliness, and deal with feelings of not fitting society’s standard for “cool.” Nerdy by Nature shatters these notions with acceptance.

Every performer, whether it is their first time performing or a guest spot by an established industry name, all acts are treated with respect. While I may have been too nervous to ask for more comments, I have been at every event since February and felt welcomed, which as an anti-social nerd, is few and far between. Nerdy by Nature hosts themes for each event, the second Nerdy by Nature event I was lucky enough to attend was dedicated to one of their own. They helped raise money for one of their hosts as she battles health issues, showing it is more than a mic, it is a family.

As someone who typically has trouble feeling accepted and making friends, Nerdy by Nature has opened doors I would not have opened. Through meeting people at Nerdy by Nature, I have been invited to participate in social media events promoting reading to the youth, to venture into the world of improv, and invitations to attend other events. I chose not to perform at the Prince Birthday themed event last week. I wanted this event to have my full attention. One of the co-hosts, comedian Beth McNulty, was unable to attend and bring her refreshing insight.

Co-host, Lot DaWordGician kicked off the event with her passionate poetry and had me hanging on every syllable of her alliteration and analogies. Following Lot’s mesmerizing poetry, a magician entranced the crowd with his act, bringing up a few volunteers and pulled laughs from the crowd with each trick. The Prince Impersonator had shoulders rolling, heads bobbing, and feet tapping, intertwined with comedians pushing the boundaries and keeping the laughs coming with their various comedic stylings. To all the young nerds out there, parents of nerds, KeithfromUpBlock wants you to find like-minded people, and never stop growing.

LotdaWordGician asks you to stay true to your inner nerd, as you won’t realize how admired you are until you get older. Don’t let the world change you, because they love nerds more than they let on. I will say, the truth is out, find yours. Nerdy by Nature is not the only event benefiting the community at Amalgam Comic and Coffeehouse. There were also flyers for Queerly Comedic, an LGBT centric comedy night, Therapeutic Roleplay Groups for Children, and a writing group, just to name a few. if you are thinking of performing for your first time, or you are looking for a fun way to spend the first Friday of every month in the Tri-State area, Nerdy by Nature is a place to plant your Geek Flag.

Mike Hoff

Heroes In Crisis: A murder mystery based on therapy

History of Crisis Events

In the DC Universe, the title Crisis was applied to the teamups between the Justice League of America of Earth-One and the Justice League of America. The prelude to these events was The Flash of Two Worlds which introduced the concept of the multiverse by teaming up the Golden Age Flash and the Modern Age Flash in The Flash #123 (Sept 1961). This led to Justice League and Justice Society annual team-ups that started with Crisis on Earth-One and Crisis on Earth-Two found in Justice League #21 and #22 in 1963. This annual tradition continued until Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985 which is a classic.

During these annual events, the two teams would visit other Earths in the multiverse to team up with those heroes and defeat the villains. They would travel through time. They would travel to dimensions. To me these where exciting events. As a kid in the late 70’s this was my introduction to the Justice Society because at the time they did not have a monthly book and in my neighborhood, you had to go to the local 7/11 to get books which didn’t always have the best or newest selection.

After Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Crisis events took a slightly different turn. As we were now dealing with a new DC universe because of the 1985 book, the threats became bigger and more of a universal problem. Some of these events were not specifically titled “Crisis” but they were considered Crisis events. In 2004, Identity Crisis was a crisis on a smaller scale. This dealt with a murder mystery among the heroes. Ralph Dibney’s, the Elongated Man, wife, Sue Dibney, had been murdered. After a list of villains, it was revealed that the murderer was actually Jean Loring, Ray Palmer’s (The Atom) wife.

The premise of Heroes in Crisis

In Heroes in Crisis, DC went back to the murder mystery formula. The hitch this time was that there were no villains involved. The premise of this story is that Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, who are now being dubbed the Trinity, created a place called Sanctuary. Sanctuary is a place for superhero therapy. Because of the life they lead, if a hero needed a place to go to get away, collect their thoughts or just talk about their life, they went to Sanctuary. It was a secret place that only the heroes knew about. But the unthinkable happens: a mass murder takes place at Sanctuary. No one knows who did the murders and the only living witnesses and possible suspects are Booster Gold and Harley Quinn.

While Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and other heroes try to solve the mystery, Booster Gold and Harley Quinn work on trying to clear their names and find their own answers. Booster and Harley being the only survivors are made to believe that one of them is the killer. With the help of Blue Beetle and Batgirl, the four solve the mystery of the real killer: Wally West, the Flash. Wally West was at Sanctuary dealing with the loss of his family since he reappeared from the speed force a few years ago. He has not been seen since Flashpoint event and was not integrated into the New 52.

West came out of the speed force to a much different reality. While at Sanctuary trying to cope with his loss and trying to fit into this new world, he loss control of his powers and his energy killed everyone in the vicinity. Realizing what he had done, he set up everything to make it look like it wasn’t him to throw off the scent. Then he went into the future to kill himself and leave that body in the past to make him not a suspect. Sounds crazy. Anyway, Wally West was caught and convinced not to kill himself and he confessed to the accidental murders. He was jailed and Booster and Harley were cleared.

Our take from this story

The refreshing part of Heroes in Crisis was that it was a murder mystery. There was no big epic battle at the end to save the universe, the planet or even the country. There was no master plot by a big supervillain to take over everything or kill the heroes. This was just a well-written murder mystery. Yes, it was confusing at the end on how Wally West would kill himself and how Booster proposed the solution. Other than that, it all was a was well written. Another refreshing part of this story was the use of Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, Harley Quinn, and Batgirl.

These are unusual leads for a Crisis event. Crisis events are usually centered around main heroes like Superman, Batman and the rest of the Justice League. While the Trinity were featured throughout the story, they were in the background trying to figure out the mystery. The weird pairing of Booster and Harley along with Beetle and Batgirl made for quite an interesting story. It made me think how DC could use another mystery book. Another cool aspect of the story was Sanctuary. The heroes that were getting treated there were made to video themselves talking to about their problems in a video that would be erased when they were done.

Throughout the nineissue story, you got to listen in on the lives of various heroes. Some of the videos whereof the slain heroes who happen to be there during Wally’s accident. Insight on life as a hero. They are people too. One of the few battles was the battle between Harley and the Trinity. Now Harley going against Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman would have you thinking the fight is over before it began. Harley was able to hold off the heroes and delay them enough so she could escape. Harley was also able to go toe to toe with Booster. Although all these heroes are way stronger than her and the fights can be seen as a writers choice to move the story, this could also show the power of fighting an unpredictable opponent.

Overall, Heroes in Crisis is a good solid read which has you wondering the future of the fan favorite Wally West. There are suggestions that there are bigger things planned for his future with certain sources pointing to his own book or a stint as leader of the Suicide Squad. Even bigger is possible hints to this story being connected to the Doomsday Clock storyline and that Dr Manhattan from that story is connected to the deaths framing Wally without anyone’s knowledge.

Take a read and give us your opinion.

Kenny Walker Jr

Comic Con: A Superhuman Experience

I first entered the comic book culture about five years ago. A friend had a backpack full of Marvel comics and trades, which are typically a collection of an entire story arc. He handed me Marvel’s Infinity Gauntlet to read, and I’ve been a fan ever since. Comic books helped me through a difficult point in my life, as it has given countless adults and children an escape from life’s stressors. Comic books are an escape from reality, as are comic conventions. Yet, at these conventions, fans experience genuine interactions with other attendees, artists, authors, and celebrities.
 Four years later I attended my first Comic-Con, Garden State Comic Fest in Atlantic City, New Jersey with my cousin. As a casual fan, I can still remember the feeling of excitement when I was greeted by a woman in Harley Quinn cosplay. Cosplay is one of the main attractions of any given Comic-Con. Much of my first experience was taking pictures of the different cosplayers ranging from DC,  three different jokers. Marvel, I saw a Green Goblin “battle” a Spider-Man for a group of kids. Other crowd watched Lightsaber battles and Transformers unite. Many conventions host cosplay contests which are as fun for the audience as it is the participants.
My cousin decided to become a comic book collector around the same time I became a comic book fan. He was lucky enough to meet Stan Lee and get his autograph twice. Just a few of the most memorable of many memories he will never forget as a comic collector. Being a comic collector takes preparation. They will check the website regularly to see what guests have been added or have canceled. Then look up their work if not familiar with all some artists’ work. They will collect certain key issues such as first appearances, major deaths, and most epic storylines. Then label the books with the various people involved for signatures. But there are all types of items to purchase and collect aside from comic books available at Comic-Con.
This particular event, we waited in line along with generations of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fans to meet creator, Kevin Eastman and get his autograph. Some of the most renowned comic book character creators will have lines of fans waiting to interact, and they are happy to meet their fans. There are also artists on the verge of becoming the “next big thing” as well as artists just starting out. Aside from art and comics, there are vendors with cards, clothing, posters, toys, as well as other unique creations too hard to describe without witnessing with your own eyes. One of the most memorable booths I have seen at any Comic Con was artwork created by a girl in middle school. Her unique style was horror focused with “Death Scenes” combining different genres like Marvel and Charlie Brown, a Thanos figure standing over a bloody Charlie Brown and Snoopy figures.
It did not take long to I discover being a part of the fandom is necessary to enjoy a comic book convention. But this was smaller than my next Comic-Con experience, Wizard World last year.  I would compare it to the environment of the Eagles Super Bowl parade. Some people waited their whole lives to enjoy this rare moment. People of all ages interacting, enjoying the rare moment of thousands of people all excited for a common cause. Albeit having their own individual reasons for their fandom. Its a place of true freedom of expression without judgment. Attending a Comic-Con gives you a chance with celebrities from some fan-favorite television shows and movies.
When I attended Wizard World, along with the expected Marvel Cinematic Universe actors, there were also many stars from Game of Thrones making appearances to take selfies with fans. While other fans had artists create custom commissioned drawings and paintings.

The guest panels are another main attraction of comic conventions. The panels range from actors talking about their experiences on the fan favorite shows to artists and inkers describing their methods to authors giving world building advice to aspiring authors. These meetings give fans attending insights they would not get the opportunity to hear otherwise.

The Comic-Con experience transcends the comic book culture. Comic conventions are as much about acceptance and freedom of expression as they are artwork, comics, and movies. Whether attending alone, with a group of friends, or as a family, those attending will leave with memories that will last a lifetime. Casual fans, collectors, or those not a part of fandom attending, whether purchasing or window shopping, everyone leaves with priceless memories that will last a lifetime. Fans exit with the knowledge they just enjoyed a superhuman experience.
Mike Hoff

How Marvel can improve the X-Men

On March 20, 2019, Disney acquired 21st Century Fox. Now there was a lot involved in this buyout and a lot of assets that came along with the package. But, you see, Disney also acquired Marvel and the rights to almost all of its characters some years ago. 21st Century Fox has had the rights to the X-men through an acquisition years prior.

So, what most fanboys and girls got out of this whole thing is Disney now owns the X-men movie rights and Marvel can now take over the X-men. That’s the dream. Forget the technical and legal aspects of the whole acquisition, we want to see Marvel execs tell the mutant story we deserve. Here are some things that would be cool to see with the X-Men under Marvel control.

Timeline

First things first: reboot everything with one timeline. Fox had two sets of timelines and they just could not get their act together on which one was canon. The first 3 X-Men movies were a trilogy done with the same actors with a connecting storyline. Then they used different actors to tell a prequel story. Then they mixed actors from both storylines to tell a past and present story and a poor version of the days from future past story from the book. The one constant in both timelines is that Hugh Jackman is Wolverine in both timelines. It’s like Fox wanted to reboot with new actors and didn’t want to let their favorite character go. Stupid.

Make Mystique a villain again

One of the changes that was made in Days of Future Past was that Mystique went from being a villain to being a good guy leading a team of X-Men. Although in the books, Mystique did at one point join an X-Men group and occasionally did good deeds she is ultimately a bad guy who cannot be trusted. Whenever she is on a good team it is to suit her own means. This was done because Fox had big box office star Jennifer Lawrence to play Mystique and switched her from being a shape-changing assassin to a shape changer with a heart. Give us back the assassin.

Rouge’s story done right

Rouge was first introduced as a villain and the foster daughter of Mystic as part of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Rogue has the power to absorb the powers of others. Her first appearance was in Avengers Annual #10 where she absorbed too much of the powers of Ms. Marvel and seemingly obtained them permanently leaving Ms. Marvel powerless.

With this newfound power along with her own, Rogue and the Brotherhood were very close to defeating the Avenger. This epic storyline is something that follows Rogue and Ms. Marvel through the years. Ms. Marvel becomes Captain Marvel and Rogue becomes a good guy and that’s where we stand today. But now that Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers, is part of the MCU with a smash success of a movie it is now possible to play out this storyline.

Aliens

Once Marvel establishes the X-Men firmly in their own universe they have to introduce the related characters. the Marvel Cinematic Universe has already established other races in space and now they can include some great X-Men Storylines with The Starjammers, The Shi’ar, and the Imperial Guard and the Brood.

Jean Grey No More

At this point, the Jean Grey/Phoenix storyline has been overdone. It’s like watching Ben Parker or the Wayne’s get killed again and again and again. We’ve already seen this play out poorly in X-Men 2 and 3. Not sure what that was but it wasn’t the Phoenix story we deserve. The jury is still out because this year’s Dark Phoenix has yet to be released but I’m really not expecting a lot. I’m not saying do not use the character but we can really do without the 3rd telling of that story.

Leave Deadpool Alone

Ryan Reynold’s vehicle was about the only thing that Fox did right with the mutant franchise. The first Deadpool was awesome and the second one even better. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Don’t change the way the scripts are written. Don’t change any of the actors. Don’t change the R rating. LEAVE DEADPOOL ALONE.

What would you like to see out of the S-Men franchise moving forward? Leave a comment and let us know what you think Marvel should do with the X-Men franchise.

Kenny Walker Jr

Diverse Superheroes That We Need to See In Live Action

With the success of Wonder Woman in 2017, Black Panther in 2018 and the recent success of Captain Marvel in 2019, it is clear to see that the world is ready for more diverse superheroes in the very near future. In the past, the genre has been focused on the most popular predominately white male superheroes from comic books. We were excited to see Captain America, Batman, Superman, Iron Man and the rest because to comic book fans it was a dream come true.

With the early exceptions of Steel with Shaquille O’Neal, Wesley Snipes’ Blade and Michael Jai White’s Spawn, we have not had any lead character portrayals of comic book characters of color on the silver screen. Early attempts at lead comic book women consisted of Red Sonja and Tank Girl but not much else. The recent controversy of Brie Larson and having more diverse characters in comic book movies caused quite a stir. Her call for a more diverse showing in not only the movies but in the news media outlets that cover them caused a lot of “fans” to start trolling it with bad reviews.

Not a pretty site. But with the success of Captain Marvel along with Black Panther, last year has paved the way for more diverse heroes to take the lead on the big screen. The following is a list of comic book characters of color, characters that are women and characters that represent the LGBT community that we feel deserve a shot at keeping the diversity on the big screen.

Ms. Marvel

Kamala Khan – First Appearance Captain Marvel #14 (August 2013)

The latest version of Ms. Marvel has become a very popular character of late and has already made appearances in cartoons. Having a Pakistani American who so happens to also be Muslim would be a very diverse change in the makeup of the MCU. If done correctly she would definitely have the same appeal that Spiderman has on younger fans.

Miles Morales Spiderman

First Appearance Ultimate Fallout #4 (August 2011)

The Afro-Latino teenage hero that assumed the role of Spiderman when that universes Spiderman was killed, quickly became a fan favorite. So much so that actor Donald Glover petitioned hard to portray him as the next Spiderman. The studio went with the classic Peter Parker but the thought was out there to fans. In December we were treated to an awesome Miles Morales animated movie on the big screen that even won an Oscar. Imagine what a live action movie could do.

Static Shock

Virgil Ovid Hawkins – Frist Appearance Static #1 (June 1993)

Static burst on the scene as part of the DC Comics Milestone line of books. he became the immediate star of that line. Milestone was created to appeal to a more diverse audience because even in the early ’90s there were not a lot of lead characters of color in comics. Static eventually had his own cartoon series which was very popular and appeared in other DC animated shows with other DC superheroes. There has always been a call to put him on the big screen in live action. Now is the time.

Northstar

Jean-Paul Beaubier – First Appearance Uncanny X-Men #120 (April 1979)

Why this virtually unknown character. Well because a character that made such an impact and leads the way for other characters should have his day. The character was one of the first openly gay characters in a major comic line. The issue in which his character came out (Alpha Flight #106 1992) made news headlines and sold out in a week. As a celebrity with mutant powers that worked for the Canadian government, I think we can come up with an interesting storyline.

Shang-Chi – Master of Kung-Fu

First Appearance – Special Marvel Edition #15 (December 1973)

Shang-Chi coming to any screen is another much-anticipated event. This character came about because Marvel wanted a character that was a little like the television show Kung Fu. There are talks of a movie coming with a screenwriter and director attached but with these things you have to wait to make sure it happens. I don’t see how a movie about the greatest martial artist in the Marvel Universe could not be interesting.

John Stewart Green Lantern

First Appearance – Green Lantern #87 (December 1971/January 1972)

Since John Stewarts run to replace Hal Jordan in the comics, he has always been a fan favorite. When the Justice League came to TV in 2001, John Stewart was the version of Green Lantern that was used. Fans have been anticipating the arrival of a live-action John Stewart Green Lantern when the ill-fated Green Lantern movie came out and when the Justice League movie came out. There is supposed to be a Green Lantern Corps movie and let’s hope he’s in it.

SheHulk

Jennifer Walters – First Appearance Savage She-Hulk #1 (February 1980)

The cousin to the Incredible Hulk would be a perfect character to bring to the screen. With the rumors of contracts being up of some of our lead Avengers, she would be the perfect character to fill the gap. Her background is a lawyer who, unlike her famous cousin, maintains her intelligence when she Hulks out would make for a great storyline.

Apollo & Midnighter

Andrew Pulaski & Lucas Trent – First Appearance Stormwatch (vol. 2) #4 (February 1998)

Same-sex relationship of a couple that is often compared to Superman and Batman. If done correctly this sounds like a formula that could make right what Batman vs Superman wasn’t.

Blue Marvel

Adam Bernard Brash – First Appearance Adam: Legend of The Blue Marvel #1 (November 2008)

Blue Marvel is an Afro-American character that was created in modern times but comic storyline dates back to the ’50s and ’60s. His costume in those times covered his whole body because it was believed society would not accept a Black man as a hero. When it was revealed that he was a Black man after his costume was torn in a public battle he went into seclusion and helped the world with his science. Now he has rejoined the world as a hero. This backstory would make a perfect movie.

Spider Woman

Jessica Drew – First Appearance Marvel Spotlight #32 (February 1977)

There were a few Spider Women along the way but let’s stick with the first one. Jessica Drew has been a hero with and without her costume even helping along with other women who have taken the role of Spider Woman. With her backstory, you can actually pull off a movie with Spider Woman and Spider Man not even be mentioned. In 1979 she had her own animated TV show so I think now is the time for live action.

Leave a comment and let us know what diverse characters that have never been on the big screen that you think belong there.

Kenny Walker Jr

News Round-up

 

Punisher and Jessica Jones Canceled

The inevitable has happened. Netflix has canceled Punisher and Jessica Jones. This news is not really a surprise as the other Marvel Netflix shows were canceled in 2018. Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Defenders were all canceled by Netflix previously. Punisher season 2 debuted on January 18, 2019, and Jessica Jones season 3 is slated to be released later this year. With the recent streaming war, this move was to be expected. Disney, which now owns Marvel, announced that they would be starting their own streaming channel eventually.

This news comes after the other Marvel Netflix shows had been canceled. Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Defenders were all canceled last year. The disheartening thing for fans is that some of those series ended with you wanting more. Luke Cage ended with Luke on the outside of the law running the Harlem gangs and being on outs with some of his closest neighborhood allies. Iron Fist ended with Colleen Wing possessing the Iron Fist but a post scene with Danny having a similar Iron Fist power that involved guns. That’s something that had me waiting for a third season.

Also, the chemistry between Jessica Henwick’s Colleen Wing and Simone Missick’s Misty Knight screamed for a Daughters of the Dragon series to come out. That was the dream for many fans as they were the best part of Iron Fist season 2. It has been said that the final season of Jessica Jones will wrap up the story and of the cast so far the only reveal has been the regulars of Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones, Rachael Taylor as Patricia “Trish” Walker, Eka Darville as Malcolm Ducasse and Carrie-Anne Moss as Jeri Hogarth. I am hoping we get to see Luke Cage, Danny Rand, Matt Murdock, Misty Knight, and Colleen Wing one more time before we say farewell to these actors in these roles.

The Captain Marvel Controversy & Zach Levy Squashing Beef

Before you misunderstand the title, there is no beef between anyone at DC/Warner Bros. Studios with anyone at the Marvel Universe Studios. Far from it. Zach Levy went on Twitter to come to the defense of the Brie Larson and Marvel’s Captain Marvel against internet trolls who have been bashing the soon to be released movie. Here’s the story. Brie Larson made this comment “I decided to make sure my press days were more inclusive. It sounded like across the board (women of color) weren’t getting the same opportunities as others.”

This was just a statement suggesting that she wanted to give other outlets and publications a fair share of the story. Nothing more nothing less. With that said, some “fans” and I use this term loosely, started going online and giving this movie bad reviews before it even came out. Specifically, the pre-review section of Rotten Tomatoes where the trolls took to in order to discredit the film before it hit theatres. Rotten Tomatoes took that feature from the site as well as the “Want To See” feature during any pre-release period of a movie.

Because some of these trolls on other websites brought up DC/Warner Bros upcoming Shazam! in comparison because that character was also named Captain Marvel in the past, Zach Levy decided to put a stop to the nonsense. Telling fans that no one is doing anyone any favors by trashing another movie. He tells fans that this is not a competition between the two studios and they hate should stop. Zach was pretty disgusted.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened. Similar incidents have happened with female lead movies such as Ghostbusters, Wonder Woman and The Last Jedi. As well as Marvel’s Black Panther. I never thought I would see this kind of behavior from my fellow nerds and geeks and I am sorely disappointed. As in today’s society, the comic book world and the fantasy world have become diverse places. It’s time we accept it, welcome it and continue to enjoy those worlds. I eagerly await Captain Marvel.

Marvel Represents at the Oscars

Marvel Studios walked away with major victories at the Oscars held on Sunday night, February 25. Black Panther won for Best Costume Design in a Motion Picture. The award was accepted by designer Ruth Carter who made Hollywood history by being the first Black woman to ever win in this category. Nice way to end Black History Month. Black Panther also won for Best Production Design in a Motion Picture and Best Score in a Motion Picture.

Sony Represents at the Oscars

Spiderman: Into The Spider-Verse nabs the Oscar for Best Animated Film. This makes this the first time since 2912 that Disney Studios did not walk away with this award. The highly acclaimed movie was a bit of a shoo-in for the win. Personally, it was probably the best animated movie I have ever seen.

Kenny Walker Jr