I’m a Contributor for Bleeding Cool now!

I’m a Contributor for Bleeding Cool now!

Hey guys, sorry for going MIA again over the weekend. I wanted to post about this sooner, but I felt it unwise to talk about it before things were more concrete.

But now I feel comfortable in talking about it: I’m a contributor for Bleeding Cool now!

I know the reviews were missing this weekend for this site, but, fear not, I did write some reviews. They’re just on Bleeding Cool now! I reviewed the new Black Panther, Deathstroke, Jean Grey, and X-Men: Blue for them, all just in the past couple of days. I’ll put links to these articles below this post.

So, that leads us to the question of what will happen to the site?

Frankly, I’m not entirely sure. I’m not going to quit on this site. I love working on it. It’s my baby. However, I won’t be able to do everything I usually do for it given by obligations to Bleeding Cool now.

I hate to say it, but another hiatus will probably be coming while I figure it out. However, the good news is you can still read my content on bleedingcool.com

I’ll let you guys know as soon as I decide what kind of content I want to make for the B-List Defender. I will also start posting on here every time one of my articles is published on Bleeding Cool.

I’m really excited about this. Bleeding Cool is one of the biggest comic news and reviews sites around, and I’m honored to be working with them. The cool thing is, my work here sort of served as a resume of sorts that helped me get picked up by them. My passion here has managed to land me a job. That’s so cool.

And on that note, remember, keep reading comics!

Deathstroke Review

Black Panther Review

X-Men: Blue Review

Jean Grey Review

Top 10 Green Lantern Villains

Top 10 Green Lantern Villains

I’m quite a fan of the Green Lantern gallery of villains. There are many cool designs, and I dig the characters and motivations of many of them. There are plenty of great rogues to choose from, and I’m going to count down the ten best right now. Let’s begin!

  1. The Shark

A telepathic shark-man, Karshon the Shark is a threat both physically and mentally. Ever since he mutated from being a simple tiger shark, the Shark has been a dangerous foe of Hal Jordan.

He’s not made in an appearance in quite a while, being supplanted by King Shark as DC’s nominal shark-man villain. He was changed back into a tiger shark sometime back by the Green Lantern. I for one hope that the Shark makes a return sometime in the near future.

  1. Nekron

While I’ve gone on record in saying that I’m not a big fan of “archetypally evil” villains, I would be remiss to not mention the mastermind behind one of Green Lantern and DC’s coolest crossover stories, Blackest Night.

Nekron is the embodiment of death itself and the manufacturer of the Black Lantern Ring, a weapon which can raise the dead to attack the living. In the later stages, he was even able to use them to possess heroes who had encountered death before.

Nekron very nearly conquered Earth and the entire universe before Earth’s heroes and all seven Lantern Corps were able to send him out of this dimension. He is the Blackest Night itself, and this makes him a worthy foe of the Green Lanterns.

  1. Larfleeze, the Orange Lantern

The being known as Larfleeze is the bearer of the Orange Light of Avarice. This ring is unique in how it changes the personality of its bearer and allows him or her to summon those who have been slain by an Orange Lantern.

Larfleeze is a pitiable creature, as he was forced into taking on this burden and cannot escape it. He wants all things in the universe to be his.

He has been made into something of a comedic character at times, but I prefer the more serious and sad interpretation of the villain. He has helped the other Lantern Corps in their time of need which shows a spark of goodness in the greedy heart of the Orange Lantern. All of these qualities combined earn Larfleeze a noble place on this list.

  1. The Phantom Lantern

          A new addition to the Green Lantern rogues gallery, Frank Laminski is a really interesting foe brought to life in Sam Humphries’ Green Lanterns title. His ring can summon the seven colors of the spectrum, and he gets to choose the Ring as opposed to the Ring choosing him.

Laminski is a unique foe in that he desperately wanted to be a super hero and even had some failed ventures before being presented with the Ring by Volthoom, the First Lantern. He was yet another well-intended human being who stepped into a realm he did not fully understand.

Another pitiable character with potential for greatness, Frank Laminski has easily earned a place on this list despite his short existence in comic books.

  1. The Manhunters

          “No man escapes the Manhunters,” the motto of a violent and near-totalitarian brigade of law enforcement androids. This was the First Army of the Guardians of the Universe, but they proved to be flawed and led the beings of Oa to create the Green Lantern Corps.

These are dangerous machines who have gone rogue on many occasions, prompting the Guardians to send the Green Lantern Corps to round them up.

The Manhunters are a really cool concept because they helped add depth to the ancient order and conflicts into which the Green Lanterns of Earth have been recruited. Their visual design is simple and sleek, their motto is ominous and memorable, and they are more than worthy of being on this list.

  1. Star Sapphire

Love is a complex thing, and no relationship shows this better than that of Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris. Though they have fallen in and out of love on many occasions, they have clashed with Rings of Light just as often.

The gem which was previously used by Carol Ferris initially controlled her, and she was later given a Ring which she could better control. She has since been more of a heroic figure with her in control of the ring, helping Hal Jordan and the other Lanterns in the War of Light and the Blackest Night.

However, she was a great foe of the Green Lantern first, and that earns the Star Sapphire a place on this list.

  1. Black Hand

William Hand has the touch of death, literally. Whatever he touches with his right hand begins to wither and die. Thanks to Nekron and his Black Lantern Ring, he can now also raise the dead to serve him.

He has trouble getting along with the living, and so he finds solace with the dead. The Black Hand is an oddly sympathetic villain in his struggles to empathize with the living, but that doesn’t negate the fact that he is a great threat to all that is living.

These elements earn the Black Hand a spot in the 10 Greatest Green Lantern Villains list.

  1. Mongul

A conqueror from beyond the stars, Mongul has taken over many worlds and is responsible for countless deaths. From his throne on Warworld, Mongul extends his dominion over species after species.

He has strength to match even the lives of Superman, and he was even a member of the Sinestro Corps for a time before Thal Sinestro himself cast him out for mutiny.

Mongul is a being with an endless thirst for power, and he is the kind of classical evil rogue that I love. He is a worthy foe of the Green Lantern and a threat to anyone who stands in his path.

  1. Atrocitus, the Red Lantern

The being once known as Atros is one of the best characters to come out of mainstream super hero comics in the last decade. He is a being who will never let go of his grief. The Manhunters slew his family, and those who oppress others will ever pay the price for this crime.

Atrocitus is not an evil man; he only wants to punish those worth punishing and take in those whose grief matches his. He takes in the lost and destroys the oppressors.

However, his vengeance is thorough and brutal, and this is why the Green Lantern Corps has had to stand in his path on many occasions. He is among the most powerful beings in the universe, with a Power Ring of his own, the ability to spit napalm, and immense strength he can augment with his Red Ring.

He is among the deadliest beings the Green Lanterns have ever faced, and he is quite worthy of being on this list.

  1. Sinestro

Of course, no foe of the Green Lantern Corps has challenged them as often and as greatly as Thal Sinestro, wielder of the Yellow Light of Fear. The trainer and friend of Hal Jordan, Sinestro found the methods used by the Guardians and the Green Lantern Corps lacking.

Believing in a more totalitarian method of law enforcement, Sinestro has put together an army of Yellow Lanterns to enforce his brand of justice throughout the universe.

Like Atrocitus, Sinestro is not inherently malicious. He does want peace in the universe. However, this peace comes at the price of freedom. He believes that people can only be safe if they are too afraid to step out of line. This is where Sinestro runs afoul of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, who believe that liberty is just as important as safety.

He has killed many Green Lanterns, and he has clashed with Hal Jordan and the other Green Lanterns of Earth more times than anyone can count. He will never stop until his vision of the universe is brought to life. He is the greatest Green Lantern villain of all time.

Top 10 Fantastic Four Villains

Top 10 Fantastic Four Villains

Did you know that, once upon a time, the Fantastic Four was actually a team with its own book? More than that, it was even the first super hero comic book title of the Marvel Age of Comics, only being preceded by Captain America, Bucky, Namor, the Torch, and a couple of other heroes in Marvel’s super hero catalogue? It even had its own rogue’s gallery of really awesome villains?

Now I’m being facetious of course. The fame of the Fantastic Four is not so easily forgettable, even if Marvel seems afraid of it for some reason. Nixing the book to avoid aiding the cinematic competition in Josh Trank’s disastrous Fantastic Four, Marvel still has yet to bring back the world’s First Family of Heroes, opting instead to make eight Deadpool titles I guess.

Now, as a Luke Cage fan, I am willing to admit five years is a relatively small amount of time to be without a comic book title, but, in regards to the Fantastic Four, I’m not sure that the world has been without a book dedicated to them since their inception back in 1961.

But we’re here to celebrate their villains instead of lamenting their absence. So without further ado, let’s count down the Top 10 Fantastic Four Villains!

  1. The Mad Thinker

Mad scientists are something of a bottomless well in comic books. They’re something of a cliché even, but they are still quite often engaging characters. Julius, the Mad Thinker, is no different. He has ambition, a vision, and the courage to follow through with that vision.

Now, it’s a shame that his vision is flawed and even cruel, but those are fungible details. One of the best parts of the Mad Thinker trademark is his loyal android companion, the Awesome Android (or Andy for short). This is a robot which can mimic powers and has immense strength. He also a head shaped like a brick; simple but elegant I’d say.

The Thinker has challenged the FF, the Avengers, and the Hulk on many occasions over the years with nothing but his intellect and ingenuity. If that is not a good mad scientist, I don’t know what is.

  1. Blastaar

A being of immense power from the Negative Zone, Blastaar has given the FF a run for its money on more than one occasion. Known as the Living Bomb-Burst, he is a large humanoid creature with the ability to put out unfathomable amounts of energy. He has been both a rival and a follower of the Negative Zone conqueror known as Annihilus.

Blastaar is one of the most powerful villains to ever threaten Earth’s heroes. He has the ability to conquer worlds, so he has made this his goal. He is a ferocious and ruthless foe who has challenged the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, the Nova Corps, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and many other defenders of the universe.

In a recent Fantastic Four tale written by Matt Fraction and drawn by Mark Bagley, it was revealed that his energy will only build up over time and will eventually cause him to explode in a blast of energy so large that it would end the universe. To solve this threat, the Fantastic Four took him back to the beginning of time, where his energies could disperse amongst the explosion of the Big Bang.

  1. Kl’rt, the Super-Skrull

A member of the shape-shifting Skrull race and imbued with the powers of the Fantastic Four, the Super-Skrull can literally match the FF beat for beat. He also proves the power of teamwork and the individual skills of the Fantastic Four, as he has yet to outright best them.

Kl’rt also played a pivotal role in the Kree-Skrull War. An exile at the time, the Super-Skrull brought Captain Mar-Vell, a hated enemy of the Skrull Empire and member of the Kree race, to the Skrull Emperor in hopes that he would accept him back into the fold.

The Super-Skrull also aided in the efforts against the Annihilation Wave, brought about by Annihilus to end all life in the positive universe. He almost lost his life in service to the cause, and the majority of Skrull worlds were destroyed in the war, leaving the entire race a species of exiles.

With cool powers and a great story, Kl’rt the Super-Skrull is definitely a worthy member of the Fantastic Four rogues gallery.

  1. The Wizard

Another mad scientist type, Bentley Wittman, the Wingless Wizard challenged the Fantastic Four of nothing but honest hubris and envy. The repeated defeats only made him more avid in his attempts to destroy them.

I don’t really know why he’s called “the Wingless Wizard,” and I can’t really find any reference material to explain that. Maybe it’s because he can fly without wings thanks to his jet boots? I don’t know.

He’s taken more of a comedic role in comics in recent years, and I’m actually okay with that. There’s something kind of charming about the hapless Wizard. He tries hard still, and his giving of his clone to the Future Foundation actually shows a degree of self-awareness that he’s not the best role model in the world. I feel for the Wizard and hope he keeps trying to achieve his villainous goals for years to come.

  1. Thundra

A super-strong woman from a world where women are in charge, Thundra has challenged the Fantastic Four and the Incredible Hulk on many occasions. She’s even been a member of the Wizard’s Frightful Four on more than one occasion.

Like many characters on this list so far, she is less nefarious these days than she once was. She’s become more of a heroic character and fostered a daughter named Lyra who is a mixture of her genes as well as the those of the Hulk himself.

She is strong-willed and has muscles that allow her to challenge the Strongest There Is, so what’s not to like about Thundra? She’s really cool and deserves to be on this list.

  1. Annihilus

The Living Death that Walks, Annihilus is a being who fears death and dispenses it in spades. He originally feared that the Fantastic Four may be a potential death to him, thus beginning a longstanding feud between he and the FF as well as the Earth itself. He has since fought the Avengers, Captain Mar-Vell, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and the positive universe in its entirety.

The last of these is the most notable act of Annihilus. In a mad attempt to end all life, he used his insectoid Annihilation Wave to scour the positive universe of everything except himself. He was slain in this crusade by the Nova Prime known as Richard Rider.

He has since been reborn more than once, at one time supposedly killing the Human Torch, though Johnny Storm would later be found to have survived.

Annihilus is a threat to the universe itself on par with the likes of Thanos himself, and this makes him a very worthy opponent of the First Family of Heroes.

  1. Maximus the Mad

Like I said, I respect the mad scientist types, and they don’t get much madder than Maximus. And, yes, he’s more of a Inhumans villain. However, he and the rest of the Royal Family of the Inhumans first appeared in the Fantastic Four, and I’m not going to do an Inhumans Rogues list because, frankly, there’s just not enough interesting material there.

Anyway, Maximus is a delightfully mad schemer in the vain of Loki. Like Loki, he really hates his brother, the air to a dynasty of a powerful royal family. Okay, he’s a lot like Loki. However, there is a vicious sadism that separates him from the erstwhile brother of Thor. There’s also a coldness and cruelty to Black Bolt that helps make the relationship more interesting.

He’s evil, vicious, and conniving. This is what makes him yet another worthy villain of the Fantastic Four (and the Inhumans).

  1. Ronan the Accuser

A powerful member of the proud Kree race, Ronan is the high Accuser of the Kree Empire, making him the highest law in their society. He also has immense strength and a hammer that can bend reality to a small degree.

He almost brought the Kree-Skrull conflict to Earth, but he later joined in the coalition that challenged Annihilus during the Annihilation War. He later joined with Nova, Quasar, the Silver Surfer, and other cosmic heroes in the group known as the Annihilators, a group intended to be the strongest muscle available to defend the universe from the worst threats imaginable.

His powers have recently been augmented further by the Black Vortex, but this could not save Hala from the mad crusade of J’Son of Spartax. The Kree homeworld was destroyed, and he is a man without a home.

Like many others, he has made a turn to a more heroic side, and his intriguing character and massive strength land him a worthy place on this list.

  1. Galactus, Devourer of Worlds

          A remnant of a universe that died before ours was born, the celestial Galactus has a hunger that is insatiable and can only be stayed by the consumption of the life force of planets.

He first faced the Fantastic Four with his herald, the Silver Surfer. This battle cost the Devourer his servant and drove him back. He has made attempts on the Earth since then, but he has become warier of challenging its heroes.

Notably the group known as the Ultimates managed to send Galactus back to the pod which brought him to this realm of existence and were able to change him into the Lifebringer. He is now known as Galactus, the Seeder of Worlds.

In either iteration, he is a powerful force of nature and yet more sign of the boundless creativity of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in those early days of Marvel Comics.

  1. Doctor Doom

Again, could it have been anyone else? Victor Von Doom is a fantastic rogue and the intellectual rival of Reed Richards himself.

He believes himself to be the only one worthy of ruling this world, but he is also deftly loyal to his homeland of Latveria. He is a master of science, but he has also dabbled in sorcery. He is a force to be reckoned with and has challenged, heroes, warriors, and the gods themselves.

He is not incapable of sympathy and is not needlessly cruel. He is very deliberate in his schemes. He is also madly in love with Susan Storm Richards.

He has recently taken up the mantle of Iron Man in the absence of Tony Stark, and he has even aligned himself with the Avengers. His endgame is yet to be known; perhaps Victor von Doom has truly turned over a new leaf.

 

 

Also, let’s show Paste Pot Pete aka the Trapster a little love. He has a weaponized glue gun. He’s just great.

Secret Empire #2 Review

Secret Empire #2 Review

State of the Union

Nick Spencer (W), Andrea Sorrentino, Rod Reis (A), VC’s Travis Lanham (L)

Cover by Mark Brooks

Published by Marvel Comics

Price: $4.99

          We’re going to at least do one more issue of this comic on here. I don’t really want to review every issue that comes out, but there are still some things I want to say about this series and how it relates to the current Marvel situation. So here we are with Secret Empire #2.

          Also, I do apologize for not running an editorial to continue my “State of Marvel” thing last Wednesday. I hope to continue it this week. I also apologize for the lateness of this review.

Let’s go ahead and get the plot out of the way so we can move onto analysis and Marvel itself.

The issue opens up with the Underground cleaning up after the Hydra attack in Las Vegas at the end of last issue. Black Widow, in the midst of all this destruction declares, “He has to die.”

We then see Luke Cage and Iron Fist pinned down by a number of demonic creatures while on a medical supply run in New York/the Darkforce Dimension. They look like they are about to be overwhelmed until Jessica Jones makes an appearance and hauls their fat out of the fire.

They return with what they can to Claire Temple’s clinic, but they didn’t find everything. Disease and looting is running rampant across the city, and the demonic creatures are constantly on the prowl. Everything would be pitch black if it weren’t for Dagger at the top of the Empire State Building, but she is losing power and can’t keep the light on for very long.

The comic cuts to a scene of looters holding up a church for medical supplies. They are interrupted by the Kingpin, whom kills the looters and tells the occupants of the church that they are under his protections so long as they remember “it was Wilson Fisk who kept you safe.”

Back at the Underground, Black Widow is trying to convince the others that they have to find and kill Steve Rogers. The hologram AI of Tony Stark tells them that there is another way, showing them a recording that Rick Jones made while in prison. This was the one brought by Rayshawn in the last issue, and it details essentially the events of Steve Rogers: Captain America: Kobik making friends with the Red Skull, her corrupting of Steve Rogers, the apparent death of Bucky Barnes (please don’t be true), and Selvig’s scattering of Kobik’s shards to the four winds to keep her out of Hydra’s hands.

Tony argues that this is a chance to save Steve and everyone else, but Natasha is reluctant. Hawkeye tries to argue that Steve would want them to try this, but Natasha argues that he would want to be stopped by any means.

Back at Hydra, Steve is mulling over the fact that he had to get Madame Hydra to order the attack on Las Vegas. Baron Zemo tries to convince him that it’s a good thing that he is so merciful, and Steve sends him out on a mission to find the pieces of Kobik.

Clint and Natasha continue to debate how to go about ending the Secret Empire, and Hawkeye admits that he may never be able to bring himself to kill Steve Rogers. Natasha decks him after they share a kiss, and she leaves the Underground HQ.

Tony finishes a device to find the shards, and he shows Clint the retrieval team, made up of Mockingbird, Ant-Man, Hercules, and Quicksilver. They know that they have to get out of the country somehow, and Ant-Man has a suggestion for this problem.

Natasha makes it to a shack in Colorado and finds that she was followed by Miles Morales, the Ultimate Spider-Man. He tells her that he knows he has to do this because he was the one to kill Steve Rogers in a vision that Ulysses had back in Civil War II. They are joined by Viv Vision, Ironheart, Amadeus Cho (the Totally Awesome Hulk), Nadia Pym (the Unstoppable Wasp), and Joaquin Torres (the new Falcon). After they arrive, Natasha cuts her hand and leaves a blood trail on the wall of the cabin, declaring it the “Red Room” (where she was trained to be an assassin back in Soviet-era Russia).

In Montana, Stark’s Kobik retrieval team arrives at a dive bar, and Ant-Man’s contact turns out to be Sam Wilson.

There is one more section after this which has a pretty significant spoiler, and I’ll discuss that and its implications at the bottom of this article after the score. Stick around if you want to read that.

Nick Spencer has succeeded in creating an intensely bleak atmosphere in this story. It’s been a rough read because of that, but the storytelling quality is there.

Andrea Sorrentino’s artwork is sublime in this issue, and I wish he were the regular artist on this book. We’ll come back to that in a bit.

Black Widow calling the cabin “the Red Room” seems a bit interesting given what those words mean to her. I’m curious where that tie-in is going to go with that angle. Perhaps Natasha really is that far gone and without hope, but then why would she treat the Champions like she has been given how horrible she knows that was? Maybe she’s trying to “take back” that title from the Soviet trainers who used it? I guess we’ll see.

It’s also a bit weird that Doctor Strange and Daredevil are MIA given the cover including them both prominently. I also remember the plot synopsis from a Previews issue a few months back mentioning Strange. I’m also pretty sad the Thing didn’t show up at all this issue like he did in the last. *sigh* I miss the Fantastic Four…

As I said in my defense of this series last week, I think this is an expertly put-together story. It isn’t meant to make anyone feel good, and it doesn’t. I feel quite sad while reading this tale of heroes, dictators, and fascism. I’m fine with that. Comic books storytelling and super hero fiction can be more than just high-flying good times. I’ll feel all the better after watching my favorite heroes make it through this one, because that’s how conflict and resolution works in this genre (assuming the payoff works, which Marvel has a notorious problem with).

That being said, I can’t separate the text of the comic from the context of the marketing and Nick Spencer’s announcements about this book. I know that the Steve Rogers: Captain America series is going to detail the Secret Empire’s search for the shards of Kobik. I know about the Underground and Uprising tie-ins. As a result, this issue just feels like a vector to advertise for those comics.

Even if it is advancing the plot, it does feel a bit like advertising snuck into a comic story under the guise of plot points. These plots and angles do seem interesting mind, but I know they won’t be followed up on by the story itself until their conclusion.

It’s still better than Fear Itself, which was nothing but a vector for tie-in stories. However, it did weaken the impact of this issue for me.

I am not a fan of the rotating artist idea. It reinforces the idea that Marvel thinks of artists as disposable when they are what separates a comic book from a novel. Furthermore, artists are crucial to delivering atmosphere and tone. Different artistic styles deliver different feelings in a story. Brett Booth would be a weird artist to enlist for a darker book. Mike Deodato Jr. would be an unwise choice for a lighter and more fun book. Both artists are talented, but they should not be put in situations for which their style is ill-suited.

Charles Soule’s upcoming Astonishing X-Men title is a little shaky for me because of this. I was originally quite excited with the writer and the line-up, but, given that it will also have rotating artists, I’m not quite as thrilled with it.

Back to Secret Empire itself, after reading this issue, I am convinced that Andrea Sorrentino would be the perfect choice as the artist for this series. His art in this issue is grim, atmospheric, and expressive. It really sealed the deal on the kind of world we are dealing with in this story. It’s just a shame that he was put in the weakest issue of the series so far and will be shunted off for a different artist next issue.

Pick up this issue if you’re invested in the story. It’s not bad and does advance the plot in interesting directions. And, again, the Sorrentino artwork is superb.

Final Score: 6/10

 

 

 

 

Major Spoilers Ahead

          So, there’s another Steve Rogers. In the sequence of this comic, the Serpent Society is chasing after a young woman, and she is saved by a bearded, ragged-looking man calling himself Steve Rogers.

Yeah, I can kind of see where this might be going. The Steve Rogers in power is somehow a duplicate and this one will lead the resistance. It would be cool to see an out-and-out heroic Steve Rogers yet again. Nick Spencer is emphatic in saying that this won’t be the case, so maybe this will play another role in the conflict. Who knows.

I do feel that it would behoove Mr. Spencer to not argue against the significance of his plot points, between this and him saying that the Cosmic Cube won’t be the solution to the Secret Empire problem despite it being the main thrust of the Underground and Empire plots in this issue. That makes people feel like the comic they are reading is a bit of a waste of time, and that’s never a good way to make your audience feel.

That being said, may the Cube and this Steve will play a role in overthrowing the Empire and not fixing the evil Steve Rogers problem itself.

I’m not big on speculation, but I felt that all of this needed to be acknowledged in this review. Anyway, until next time, keep reading comics!

Luke Cage #1 (2017) Review

Luke Cage #1 (2017) Review

You know I gotta say it…SWEET CHRISTMAS

David F. Walker (W), Nelson Blake II (A), Marcio Menyz (CA), VC’s Joe Sabino (L)

Cover by Rahzzah

Published by Marvel Comics

Price: $3.99

          It feels like a long two months since the last issue of Power Man and Iron Fist came out, but the man himself, Luke Cage, is back in business suckers.

I was truly sad to see PM&IF go; that is my favorite dynamic duo in comics, and they have a heartwarming bromance to outdo even the likes of Green Lantern and the Flash or Thor and Hercules. Frankly, their friendship is only rivaled by Captain Marvel and Spider Woman in terms of making me happy.

I was still very excited to see a solo Luke Cage comic come back by the same brilliant scribe who wrote Power Man & Iron Fist as well as other great books such as Cyborg and Occupy Avengers, Mr. David Walker. I had high hopes for this comic, so let’s see if this creative team met my expectations.

The book starts with Luke arriving in a small club presumably somewhere in New York. He goes into the basement and beats some ass, arriving at a hostage situation which he handles with cleverness and a flick in the head.

He later receives a call letting him know that Dr. Noah Burstein, the man who gave him his super strength and unbreakable skin, has died in New Orleans. He goes down south for the funeral and is approached by a woman called Dr. Mornay. She worked with Dr. Burstein in his final days, and we learn that his death was the result of an apparent suicide.

Luke leaves the funeral with Dr. Mornay, and we learn through his thought captions that he is feeling a little lost because of Noah’s death. We also see a figure watching the two leave.

Luke accompanies Mornay to a plantation-like estate outside of the Big Easy belonging to a Morgan family. There, we learn that the son of the owner of the estate was saved by Burstein despite him having a condition which all other doctors said was incurable. This was due, apparently, to the experiments which Burstein performed on Luke Cage.

After Luke and Mornay leave the Morgans, Mornay tells Luke that she believes that Noah Burstein’s death was not due to a suicide as the evidence suggests. She also tells Luke of violent outbursts that have been experienced by Morgan’s son as well as unnamed others who have been put through what she calls “the Burstein Process.”

The two are then run off the road by a small crew of men in suits and gas masks. One fights Cage and proves to be super strong like the former-Power Man. He then pulls out a sort of chain sword which cuts into Cage’s nigh-unbreakable skin.

The rogues escape with Mornay, leaving Luke to bleed out in the road. However, the Power Man is saved by the mysterious figure from earlier in the comic who is shown to be Mitchell Tanner, the first person Burstein performed experiments on and a regular murderous foe of Luke Cage. The comic ends on this reveal.

This was a strong first step for what promises to be an interesting series. David Walker is an expert in writing interesting and fun comic books, and Luke Cage looks to be no different.

From the opening with Luke beating down the guys in the bar to the ending with Luke talking smack to the guys who ran him off the road, this feels like a true Luke Cage comic book. There’s plenty of action and intrigue, and it holds your attention throughout.

There are some continuity questions for me, though. Primarily, though I have not read nearly as much classic Luke Cage tales as I would like, I always got the impression he had a tumultuous relationship with Noah Burstein as opposed to this father-son relationship which is shown in this comic. I have nothing wrong with Luke having some negative feelings about Noah dying, but it seemed like he had far more positive emotions directed towards Burstein than I imagined, particularly in reading that Cage: Second Chances collection I reviewed on here some time ago.

The art is gorgeous. It’s a sterile look but in a good way. There are plenty of details, but there are also a lot of clean spaces on the figures and characters. It’s an appealing appearance, and the bright colors help add to that appeal too.

There is the question as to whether or not this sterile appearance fits a comic about Luke Cage, a street hero with a lot of personality who tends to get down into the dirt and grime of the underworld to clean it up. I can’t say that the art perfectly fits Luke Cage, and I do find myself missing the very stylized work of Sanford Greene from Power Man and Iron Fist, but this art still looks aesthetically pleasing and will probably grow on me and anyone else who reads this book.

This is going to come off as a weird observation, but the lettering is actually a bit off in this book. I’ve never paid too much attention to lettering before, but I have read a few articles from professional letterers who explained their art and how it should be done. Here, the letters have been shrunken down a bit and are far too small for the dialogue bubbles. It strains the eyes a bit more than I’d like, and I had to really focus on the words to read what characters were saying. The thought captions do not have this problem to the same degree.

Weird lettering complaints and continuity questions aside, I loved this book. It was a fun read, and I can’t wait to see what adventures lie ahead of Luke Cage in this series. Pick this up. Support this B-List character and his talented creative team. This is the exact kind of series which the B-List Defender stands for.

Final Score: 9/10

Top 10 X-Men Villains

Top 10 X-Men Villains

Marvel’s premier team of mutants has a rather impressive rogue’s gallery all their own. From celestial conquerors to violent freedom fighters, they have dealt with a number of rather impressive enemies. As such, today we will count down their ten best villains. Villains that have challenged individual X-Men, such as Wolverine of course, more often than the full team are not excluded from this list. Let’s begin!

  1. Avalanche

A good first step for this list, and sort of a foreshadowing of what’s to come with this list. Much of what is included on this list is here more for character and aesthetic design as opposed to deeper reasons such as personality and character arc, at least until we get closer to the top.

Avalanche is a good example of this, as, beyond being a freedom fighter of sorts and his friendship with Pyro, there’s not much to Avalanche for me beyond a sweet costume and awesome powers. His ability to create seismic waves makes him a powerful foe. His end at the hands of the Red Skull is quite a shame, and I hate that he went down that way. A new Avalanche has appeared in the new X-Men: Gold, though not much is known about this one yet.

Also, did you know he was originally Greek? Like the Rhino, I always just pictured Avalanche with something of a Bronx accent. Just like Rhino, he’s actually from Europe. Go figure.

  1. Sauron

A hypnotic, energy absorbing, pteranodon energy vampire; that is just another really cool concept from the get-go. Doctor Karl Lykos is a guy who can turn into a freaking pteranodon with a tail (not a pterodactyl or a dinosaur, those are different things), and that’s just really cool.

Beyond that, he’s always proven a deadly foe of the X-Men, and he he’s a force to be reckoned with. He’s a classic X-Men foe and quite worthy of inclusion on this list.

  1. Lady Deathstrike

The daughter of a Japanese kamikaze pilot-turned-crime lord, Yuriko was raised to hate and to fight. She has clashed with Daredevil, Captain America, and, most notably, Wolverine.

Her design is quite awesome as well, with her cybernetic augmentations, her bushido-esque armor, and her massive finger-claws. I wasn’t a big fan of her presentation as a lover-scorned of Wolverine, but she has become more than that over the years. She is a dangerous foe and a worthy rogue of the X-Men.

  1. Silver Samurai

Another Japanese Wolverine-centric foe who started off in Daredevil comics, I’ve grown to love Keniuchio in recent years. He, like many villains I love, has a weird code of honor which drives him to make his decisions. He’s a powerful mutant with the ability to channel energy into his weapons to make them even deadlier.

I don’t know what that Transformers-esque abomination in The Wolverine was, but it didn’t diminish my love of the comic book incarnation of the Silver Samurai. His costume is quite cool too, with its gleaming armor and immaculate helmet. Silver Samurai is a powerful enemy and another X-Men classic.

  1. Mister Sinister

          One of the X-Men’s most intelligent and powerful foes, Nathaniel Essex has a warped and malignant fascination with the human genome. As a result, he would naturally become obsessed with the mutant phenomenon, particularly in regards to Scott Summers and Jean Grey.

In my teenage years, I had a fascination with Apocalypse that naturally extended to his frequent ally, Mister Sinister. Though that interest has diminished over the years, it’s never disappeared completely. Sinister is a really cool foe, from his genius to his immense power that makes him a challenge even for the most potent X-Men lineup.

In my adult years I find that Sinister is probably more fleshed out than En Sabah Nur, but, well…

  1. Apocalypse

I won’t lie, this is mostly for the costume and never-ending cache of super powers. Apocalypse has been designed as this cosmic force of nature, eternally attempting to forward the wheel of evolution as mandated by the celestials what augmented his mutant superhuman abilities.

Like with Darkseid, I struggle to find foes who are destined to be evil that intriguing, but they can still be cool foes when used properly. Again like Darkseid, I still think Apocalypse is a threatening and fairly well-designed enemy that I can’t help but get excited over whenever he rears his ugly head.

  1. William Stryker and the Purifiers

Not too long ago, I read the Chris Claremont classic X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills, and I was fascinated by the first appearance of the charismatic yet vicious man known as Reverend William Stryker. I was in awe of his hatred of abnormality, going so far as to kill his wife and malformed son to scourge such things from the Earth.

I love the evil bastard that is William Stryker because he and his followers are terrifyingly real. Religious zealoutry has been responsible for so many atrocities throughout history, and it shows no sign of stopping in the present day.

Stryker and the Purifiers are great foes of the X-Men because they are pure fear and hatred, but that mixture of fear and hatred is both believable and depressingly common. Recent activities by such organizations as the Westborough Baptist Church show that these organizations can still exist, and organizations like the X-Men must fight against them.

  1. Sabretooth

An unsurprising entry for anyone who saw my Top 10 Marvel Villains list, Victor Creed is a vicious monster whose bestial instincts have led to the deaths of many. He’s strong, has a healing factor as well as razor-sharp claws; Sabretooth is one of the deadliest enemies ever faced by any member of the X-Men.

He is notoriously locked in a eternal struggle with his opposite, Wolverine, and he represents an excellent foil for the restrained rage of James “Logan” Howlett.

Sabretooth is a terrifying foe who often gives in to his baser instincts which exist in us all. Though he was more recently an Avenger and an X-Man, I will always remember Sabretooth more for his exploits as a Brotherhood member and a vicious killer.

  1. The Juggernaut

I’ve always preferred the idea of Cain Marko as a hero. That’s the reason he didn’t show up on my Top 10 Marvel Villains List. He, like the Hulk and Wolverine, is a man with good intentions struggling with a monster within, in Marko’s case the demon Cyttorak who gave him his powers. He’s attempted to strike out on his own to be a hero, he has joined up with the X-Men, and he’s even been a Thunderbolt. He’s tried to make amends, but he keeps sliding back.

All this being said, the Juggernaut is a classic X-Men villain. His immense strength and unstoppability make him one of the most powerful X-Men rogues to ever challenge the team. He’s tussled with the Hulk and the Thing on many occasions, almost matching them strength for strength.

Though I still hope he is able to redeem himself, I am happy anytime the Marko shows up. Whether he be a hero or a villain, the Unstoppable Juggernaut is one of the coolest X-Men characters around.

  1. Magneto

Really, could it have been anyone else?

My love for the Master of Magnetism is well-advertised on this site. I absolutely love Eric Lensherr. He is one of the best Marvel characters ever created, and his zealousness as a freedom fighter is to be admired, even if his methods are at times ill-advised.

He will stop at nothing to defend his people. He will not stop fighting so long as there is a single mutant left on Earth to fight for, even if that mutant is simply him. He is not a villain in the generic sense; he is a man with a dream and a mission that has simply taken him down dark paths. God help any human or mutant that tries to separate him from his goal.

 

Also, he didn’t make the list, but could we all agree that the Living Monolith is really cool? I mean, look at him, plus that name…

Anyway, until next time, keep reading comics!

Top 10 Flash Villains

Top 10 Flash Villains

We’re going to get back into the lists by returning to the ever-flowing well of counting down the best members of the rogues galleries of the great heroes of Marvel and DC Comics. We’ve done Spider-Man and Batman; now it’s time to move onto the Fastest Man Alive. You probably already know the top three if you’ve been following my site for a while, and I do apologize for that. The other seven will still hopefully be a surprise for you.

We won’t be counting Justice Society villains or rogues of Jay Garrick. For this, we’ll be looking strictly at the foes of Barry Allen and Wally West. We’ll probably spotlight Justice Society rogues at a later date.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

  1. The Weather Wizard

Marco Mardon received a pretty cool visual redesign in the New 52, and I dig his role as the less talkative powerhouse of the Central City Rogues. The ability to create and alter weather patterns is pretty freaking cool all around. I also like the backstory he was given by Buccellato and Manapul in his reappearance in the New 52 DC Universe. There’s honestly not much more to say about Weather Wizard. He’s just plain cool, and he is a loyal member of the Rogues.

  1. Captain Boomerang

Digger Harkness hasn’t really tangled with the Flash in a while, now being a regular member of the Suicide Squad with Deadshot and that one lady with the red and black clothes. That’s kind of why he’s so low on this list. That being said, he is a really fun and nutty villain. He throws trick boomerangs to fight. A lot of them explode. He also wears a trench coat and a toboggan. What’s not to love?

Geoff Johns also gave him a pretty heavy backstory not too long before the New 52 that was pretty cool too. He had an abusive father whom he ends up decapitating with a boomerang. I like the weird balance of goofiness and heavy themes that make up Boomer’s tale. I also have an affection for down-on-their luck losers like him, and all of these elements combined land Harkness a place on this list.

  1. Golden Glider

Yeah, she used to be a pretty lame villain, but Buccellato and Manapul conspired to make her a really compelling character during the New 52 relaunch. I like that she is an ethereal being trapped in a comatose body, and that she had to wrest control of the Rogues away from her brother, Captain Cold, when he started screwing things up. I also like the relationship she has with Mirror Master. It’s genuinely pretty cute. She’s pretty strong too, with the ability to attack from that intangible form. She’s dangerous and motivated, and that’s what earns her a place on this list.

  1. Heatwave

          Buccellato and Manapul really did a good job redesigning the Flash Rogues, and Heatwave was no exception. Becoming something of a living human furnace, Mick Rory became a malformed and dangerous being that challenged Captain Cold for his leadership on a regular basis. True to his powers, he’s quite a rage-filled hothead who hates the Flash as much as any other member of the Central City Rogues. His powers are also just plain awesome too. He even became a sacrifice for the other Rogues when they were being chased down by the Royal Flush Gang during the events of Forever Evil. He survived and was later found by the Riddler, which makes me glad. Central City is just that much better with a regular Heatwave.

  1. Trickster

It’s easy to write off Axel Walker as something of a discount Joker, but he is so much more than that. Where the Clown Prince of Crime has become notorious for his macabre and horrific tortures sessions and murders, the Trickster is a far more whimsical and fun iteration of the goofy jokester villain template. Of course, there’s room for both, and the Joker is closer to my heart, that frightening, grinning bastard.

Axel is a really fun rogue to watch. He’s fairly inept and would not be as successful without the support of his fellow rogues. However, there’s something so endearing about the innocence of the Trickster, which makes it a little more saddening when the Rogues have to deal with heavier problems.

  1. Gorilla Grodd

He’s a talking, telepathic, genius gorilla. Do I really need to say anymore? He was also voiced by the late, great Powers Boothe (who just passed) in Bruce Timm’s Justice League cartoon, which is just awesome too.

I’m not really a fan of the New 52 iteration of Grodd. He’s not as intelligence or conniving, and the eating brains detail was actually kind of a bit much.

I prefer sadistic, evil genius Grodd over animalistic, beastly Grodd. His scheming mind balances out his strength to make him a full-package supervillain. I love that, and I hope we get to see a return-to-form Grodd very soon.

  1. Mirror Master

One of the real strokes of genius of the legendary John Broome and Carmine Infantino, I think Sam Scudder is one of the most creative villains to have ever been designed. The fact that he can hop dimensions to baffle and challenge the Flash is really cool and shows true creative talent on behalf of his creators. He’s not an elemental villain like Weather Wizard and Heatwave. He’s not an ironic foe like Captain Cold. He’s not an “in a mirror, darkly” villain like Zoom and Reverse-Flash. He’s just someone who has a gun that allows him to jump worlds. That’s just awesome. His costume really good too, making him just an all-around great baddie.

I like that he’s become one of the more level-headed Rogues, balancing Snart’s ambition and Rory’s fury. As previously stated, I like that he has a relationship going with Golden Glider.

He’s been made to have confidence issues, which I think adds an interesting level of depth to the character. He’s a villain that represents the unabashed creativity at work in the superhero comics scene, and I love everything about him.

  1. Professor Zoom (Eobard Thawne)

Though I did discount Thawne in Mirror Master’s entry, there is something to be said about the pure, unbound sadism that exists in the twisted mind of Professor Zoom. He is pure evil, and all of his hate is directed towards Barry Allen.

Like Grodd, I greatly prefer the pre-New 52 iteration of this villain. As opposed to being a deposed warlord, he’s a dejected scientist who became obsessed with his city’s greatest hero and idol, the Flash. He has dedicated his life to making the Flash miserable, but, of cruel ironies, Barry Allen is his ancestor, so he cannot kill him in our timeline yet. He can only torment him in actions such as the murder of Nora Allen, Barry’s mother, during the childhood of the hero.

He’s a cruel monster, and I love him.

  1. Captain Cold

You have to love Captain Cold. He’s an evil guy who has ice powers and dresses like an Inuit. He’s a petty thief with a moral code. He, unlike Grodd and Thawne, is not cruel. He’s just greedy. He wants money, and the Flash gets in his way. He’s pretty simple, but there has been a lot written to explain that simplicity that I actually think makes the character engaging.

None of this is to say that Leonard Snart is without ambition, and this ambition led to a fracturing in the Rogues not too long ago when he found a device that could fuse the powers of the Rogues’ weapons to their bodies, giving them genuine super powers. This resulted in Mirror Master being trapped temporarily in the Mirror Dimension and Heatwave being burned and malformed.

He has since lost his own powers and must rely on his ice gun once again. You just have to love Captain Cold though. I almost want to see him get a win over on the Flash sometimes. Almost.

  1. Reverse-Flash (Daniel West)

A rather new addition to the Flash mythos, Daniel West was a short-lived villain that left an impact on me nonetheless. He is one of the most sympathetic rogues ever designed. The brother of Iris West, the two had to deal with a hateful and abusive father which led Daniel down a bad path in his adult years. Learning of the Flash’s time-traveling powers, he attempted to attain and use those powers to go kill his father and fix he and his sister’s lives. The Flash stopped this from happening of course.

His costume is also quite incredible. I love the red and black, and I like the addition of metal shards he can fire with the static electricity produced by his speed. He looks just plain awesome.

He had a short stint on the Suicide Squad which ended with him possibly being killed while disposing of a bomb at sea. I hope he makes a return soon, because I think he was an excellent recreation of the Reverse-Flash by the aforementioned Buccellato and Manapul. Who doesn’t wish they could go back and fix that moment where their life took a turn for the worse?