Month: March 2011

Stan Lee and Arnold Schwarzenegger team up for heroics…with predictable results

Stan Lee and Arnold Schwarzenegger have something in common.  If you guessed “They are both former big names in their field that have since moved on past their primes” you are correct.  But there’s another thing that you might not know.  Stan the Man and Ahnold are teaming up to produce a comic and cartoon on the former California Governor called…wait for it…the Governator.

Topless Robot has the article, linking to an Entertainment Weekly page (here) which talk about the annoucment and promote this week’s issue with more details.  The thing is this week’s issue hits stands on Friday, which has me suspecting that this is nothing more than an April Fool’s joke.

But of course, Stan Lee did put his name on a character named “Striperella” as well as the Spider-Man newspaper strip – a comic so bad that it practically begs fans to rip it from their papers.  So let’s pretend that this is a legit deal and take a look at some of EW’s preview images.  They’ll be after the jump.

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Liefeld’s Cable by the numbers

You know, maybe I wasn’t being fair to Rob Liefeld in my last post.  After all, the guy did make like a bazillion dollars making such household name characters like Cable, Deadpool, Shatterstar, Forearm, Stryfe, Dragoness and Thumbelina.  But the first one – Cable – was really his claim to fame, and with the soaring popularity of the character Liefeld shrugged off his detractors and springboarded straight into X-Force and then, far more importantly, Youngblood.

So let’s take a look at Cable and see what Liefeld brought to the table to make him so long-lasting.  Below is a retouching of Cable’s first appearance on the cover of New Mutants #87 for a trade collection of early Liefeld Cable appearances.  Apart from the removal of the faces of the New Mutants and the changing of the logo, the image is almost exactly as it was on the original.  Click here for the original image.

Click for full-sized image.

  1. Gray hair for the “grizzled veteran” look.  Black streaks to keep from being too old.  Allows such phrases as “I’m getting too old for this” and “I was doing this before you were born”.  Spit curl in the middle of hair because Superman has one and Cable’s cooler than Superman.
  2. Badass trope for each eye.  Left eye glows for no apparent reason (originally implied to be somewhat hypnotic) while right eye has lone scar running across.  Occasionally drawn as a star pattern if drawn at all.
  3. Lone pistol that may or may not be futuristic.  Likely fires laser blasts that leave bullet holes.  Tends to overheat as it is often seen smoking whether having been fired or not.  The barrel seems to twist midway up the gun.
  4. Large stick-based object hung from either shoulder.  May be two large guns or two parts of one larger gun.  Rarely in ever used, as there is no place to put the smaller one.  Since no straps are apparent they are attached directly to the vest through use of krazy glue or velcro.
  5. Large vest that protects the shoulders as well as prevents the need for an actual shirt.  Lightweight and allows the skin to breathe.
  6. Shadowing actually colored into the vest to give dramatic lighting effects no matter what time of day or night.  Holes in vest can easily be stitched shut using like-colored material (included with vest).
  7. Spike armband to show that even grizzled veterans from the future can connect with the youth of the ’90s.
  8. Optional bra-strap provides extra support and modesty for the ladies while preventing extra weight of shoulder-harnassed guns from pulling the vest off.
  9. Mechanical arm with no explanation as to how/why it is there.  Is he a robot, a cyborg, or something else entirely?  Hand can occasionally flip up at the wrist exposing another laser-based weapon.
  10. Metal buckle, likely made in the future.  Doesn’t actually attach or release belt, but certainly is stylish for any good soldier of post-apocalyptic eras.
  11. Toothbrush travel tubes.  Essential for the long missions that doesn’t allow much spare time.
  12. Dueling belts to aide metal in holding supplies/pants up.  One belt is half-holding bullets, other holding pouches.
  13. Belt-pouch.  The fanny pack of the future.  Holds bombs, various devices, grenades, travel-sized toothpaste, toilet paper, teddy bear.
  14. Random smoke effect floating in the sky.  (Note: See the original cover – this seemed to be coming from the gun, but when the New Mutants logo was edited, some of the smoke went two.  It’s odd that it would be touched up here and not simply edited out.  In the original cover, the gun seemed to be smoking from further down than the nozzle.  Either the gun has an exhaust system or it was simply redrawn for the new cover.

So forget all that Summers-son, telepathic/telekinetic, TO virus crap that came later.  THIS is what Cable is all about, and THIS is all Rob Liefeld.

Credit where credit’s due

One of the interesting things on Peter David’s site is his reprinting of old columns he wrote in the early ’90s.  It’s an interesting look at what was going on back then, especially now with so much more context to look back upon.  His opinions on early Image is especially impressive and mirrors what I think of it now.  Back then, I was 10.

But one bit really caught my interest.  In an article originally published in 1993,  PAD took Rob Liefeld to task for claiming not only that he was solely responsible for the creation of Cable, but insulting beloved writer Louise Simonson (who wrote the issue of New Mutants in question) in the process.  There’s really nothing to say about the spat itself – the whole thing went down 18 years ago.  But the core argument remains relevant – and actually moreso than ever nearly two decades later.

The center of this particular example is this guy:

Nice shoulderpad-vest, dude.

Back in an era when nobody bothered to ask questions like “Why to you have three belts on?”, “How do you bend forward with those tube things there?” or “What’s up with the spiked wristband?” this guy was a really big deal.  Inexplicably, Cable caught the imagination of fans by simply showing up with huge guns, a glowy eye and a metal arm.  There was very little else to the character.

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“On the New Mutants” or “Professor X Phones It In”

Throughout their tenure as students of Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, the New Mutants were constantly at odds with the senior team of X-Men, wanting to earn their place but constantly being called X-Babies and pushed aside almost everywhere.  Everyone from Storm to Shadowcat to Wolverine disrespected the kids whenever convenient.

But it wasn’t just the X-Men.  The team’s founder Charles Xavier – the legendary Professor X – had seemingly brought the team together in the same spirit that he had brought the original X-Men together so long ago.  Or that’s what he’d make you think, since he is telepathic and all.  But if one looks closer into the individual recruiting of all the various members of the New Mutants, they’d learn that the team came together through a series of random events rather than through great (or any) effort on the part of Xavier.

  • Karma: Discovered by Reed Richards and the Fantastic Four, who sent word to Xavier.  After initially refusing the request to bring her to the school, Xavier is taunted into relenting by Moira MacTaggert.
  • Wolfsbane: Chased by religious fanatics led by her own father Reverend Craig, she eventually came across Moira MacTaggert who just happened to be her godmother.  Moira dispersed the crowd and brought Rahne to Xavier.
  • Mirage: Mutant abilities discovered by her grandfather, Black Eagle who is killed right after sending word to Xavier to come get her.
  • Sunspot: After manifesting his abilities on the soccer field, Xavier actually detects this one.  Sunspot is the only member of the New Mutants that Xavier himself actually finds, yet he still sends Moira to go get the boy.
  • Cannonball: Discovered working for Donald Pierce when he attacks Xavier directly.  Invited to join the team after the fight.

And thus the original team of New Mutants were not painstakingly gathered by Charles Xavier in the spirit of the original X-Men.  No, rather they were assembled through luck and circumstance, and mainly through the great effort of Moira MacTaggert.  And as it would later turn out, the decision was made not directly by Xavier, but rather by the Brood Queen embryo planted within his body, hoping to gather other future hosts.  That’s right – Charles Xavier assembled the kids (or had them assembled for him) to eventually turn them into Brood.

But even once cured of his infection and deciding to keep the team going, Charles Xavier kept his half-assed methods going rather than actually giving a damn about his students.  This was no more apparent than when Karma vanished during a fight against Viper and the Silver Samurai.  After a day of looking, Xavier sent the New Mutants away, letting them believe their team leader to be dead.  Knowing that to not be the case, Xavier initially was going to have the X-Men look for her but apparently found something more interesting to do and simply gave up.  His shortsightedness would cause the return of the Shadow King, which would affect everyone associated to the X-Men for quite some time.

But before Xavier would become lost in space and leave the kids under the tutelige of Magneto (good move there) he would bring in four more mutants to the team…sort of.  It was more like four more mutants stumbled into the team and he took credit for the matter.

  • Magma: The New Mutants, sent away from the Karma matter, stumbled upon the ancient plot point society of Nova Roma and brought Magma home with them after defeating Selene.
  • Magik: The young Illyana Rasputin was kidnapped by Arcade and simply never returned home to Russia.  Eventually she was kidnapped by the demon Belasco, spending half her life in Limbo and ultimately becoming master of the realm.  The New Mutants and their dance teacher Stevie Hunter stumbled upon her sorcery/mutant abilities and she was absorbed into the team.
  • Warlock: Crash landed nearby seeking shelter from his father Magus.  The New Mutants welcomed him but Professor Xavier, apparently not regarding aliens as highly as mutants, was far more hesitant before doing so.
  • Cypher: Xavier actually knew about this one since he lived so close to the school but was not willing on training a mutant with their abilities unless they could be used for a fight.  Doug was invited to Emma Frost’s Massachusetts Academy and Xavier didn’t really seem to care.  Upon Warlock’s arrival, the New Mutants revealed his power to him and recruited him to speak to the alien.  He just stuck around from that point on.

And thus the team was fully built, through little-to-no effort from Xavier.  In fact, the last mutants he actively used Cerebro to detect – formerly the primary mission of the school and its X-Men – were Shadowcat and Dazzler during the Dark Phoenix Saga.  Past that, Xavier kind of gave it up and let everyone else come to him.

X-Factor won a GLAAD award

Peter David posted on his site that his book X-Factor won a GLAAD media award for positive portrayal of gay and lesbian characters.  Unless you’ve been living under a B-list rock, you know that X-Factor shocked readers by reintroducing longtime X-Force member Shatterstar by having him lock lips with Rictor.  Since that happened, the two have had one of the more interesting angst-filled relationships around the mutant world without resorting to homosexual stereotypes and cliches.

Congratulations to Peter David!  It’s a shame Rob Liefeld’s just going to undo it first chance he gets.

On Secret Wars II

After far too much time spent to it, I’ve finally gotten past Secret Wars II in my quest to read through the entirety of the X-Men story.  Two of the period’s three X-Books (Uncanny and New Mutants) spent several issues with the event (as did most of the Marvel U) and I also had to pull together copies of the main mini-series itself, though luckily I only had to read four of the nine issues as neither the X-Men, X-Factor nor the New Mutants appeared in any of the others.

But my first experience with the infamous event left me with some strong opinions of it.  I can see why it’s so ridiculed by fans today and why Marvel does its best to never mention it in any way.  The Illuminati mini following Civil War even tried to hint that it took place on an alternate world created by the Beyonder.

But now with the happenings still fresh in my mind, I’m going to take a moment this morning to look into just what went wrong with Secret Wars II and why it’s such a boil on the ass of Marvel’s history.  And that may have been my crudest analogy yet in the blog…but believe me, the event earned it.

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