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Legion of Super-Heroes RANKED!

Posted on September 27th, 2018

Dave!When I first got into comic books, I was more a DC guy than a Marvel guy. The biggest reason for this was The Legion of Super-Heroes which gathered dozens of differently-powered individuals from different worlds in the far future. For a very long time, it was that one book I could count on no matter who the creative team behind it was. It was pretty good even when it was bad.

And when it was great? Holy cow was it great!

Eventually sales were such that they let Keith Giffen try something entirely new by taking them from hopeful super-powered teens in a bright future to hopeless super-powered adults in a dystopian nightmare. I absolutely loved it. The comic book I had loved forever had somehow changed completely yet was somehow even better. But then DC wanted to go back to the teen Legion and things started to slide. It was fine for a while... but then kept getting worse and worse until I just wasn't interested anymore. By then I had mostly moved on to Marvel anyway, but it was still a sad day.

For this ranking, I'm taking the Gold/Silver/Bronze age Legionnaires and figured out which I liked best... and which I liked least...

  1. Mon-El/Valor — Easily my favorite Legionnaire. He started as a throw-away Superboy story element from the past that became far more interesting when he was transplanted into the future.
  2. Brainiac 5 — His incredible intellect brought a lot to The Legion (the flight rings are all him) and writers seemed to have the easiest time making him interesting (his force-field belt was a terrific add-on). Heck, when they turned him insane, he became one of the best LOSH villains ever.
  3. Ultra Boy — What I like best about Ultra Boy is how they took Superboy then made him interesting by limiting him to using one of his powers at a time. In the hands of a good writer, the character had to be clever to work... being both the most powerful and the weakest character from moment to moment.
  4. Princess Projectra/Sensor Girl — I never really got a bead on the character or her powers until they gave her a medieval spin which made my head do a 180. From then on she was a favorite. But that wasn't all! She also got a turn as Sensor Girl, one of the more fascinating characters in the history of the team.
  5. Dawnstar — A character who could navigate the depths of space unaided was a natural and brilliant fit for The Legion. The fact that she always seemed to be the smartest character in the room didn't hurt.
  6. Timber Wolf — Basically a more interesting Wolverine character that isn't tied to a long, convoluted back-story that is never as interesting as writers seem to think it is.
  7. Wildfire — An effort to do something truly different with the membership, and a successful one at that. His relationship with Dawnstar was one of his best qualities.
  8. Saturn Girl — Her telepathy made her a naturally-interesting character, but it's what they did with her as a person — that made her crack my top-ten.
  9. Chameleon Boy — He started out as an interesting alien diversion, but gained a crazy-level of depth when they tied him to the origin of the entire team in a very cool way.
  10. Cosmic Boy — The boy scout of the Legion who had the worst possible costume for years. Even though he was pure vanilla for much of his super-powered career, he had enough interesting moments.
  11. Supergirl — Superboy was marginally more interesting on his own than this the Legion. Supergirl was the complete opposite. I found her much more entertaining here than in her rather dull solo adventures. If only they had utilized her more often.
  12. Superboy — A great character that was essentially show-horned into a crazy number of Legion stories... and not always for the better. Even so, he was the link that kept on giving, and always worked in the context of The Legion's future-tales.
  13. Karate Kid — Buying into the Bruce Lee karate fad of the day wasn't enough, so they made him a master of martial arts from dozens of worlds and gave him the ability to find the inherent weakness in things. His wacky over-the-top costume was a weird diversion when he was in a group scenario.
  14. Laurel Gand — I liked her well enough when she debuted... she was a distant relation of Mon-El that was used to interesting effect (hence her high placement on this list). Had I been able to consider her fascinating turn as Supergirl-replacement Andromeda from her Post-Crisis days, she would have ranked even higher.
  15. Lightning Lad — Other than being a founding member of the team, the most interesting thing about him was that he was dead for a time. Not a ringing endorsement to be sure.
  16. Invisible Kid II — His origin in the Legion annual he debuted was extremely well handled even if he was a bit boring afterward. Still, there's something to be said for him being a competent addition to the team rather than yet another bizarrely-powered oddity.
  17. Dream Girl — Her powers were easy to underestimate, but she proved herself to be an invaluable part of the team many times.
  18. Element Lad — Easily the most powerful Legionnaire going (well, depending on who was writing him) speculation about his sexuality by readers seemed to be more interesting than the actual character.
  19. Phantom Girl — She was definitely given more interesting stories than many of her teammates... but her relationship with Ultra Boy was more defining than anything else, which was criminal given how interesting her powers were. Or rather, how interesting they could be.
  20. Tyroc — A fascinating idea for a character that was woefully underutilized. Kinda a trippy Black Canary type. Maybe writers didn't know quite what to do with him?
  21. Sun Boy — Definitely a middle-of-the-road character that had his moments to shine... but he just wasn't as interesting as similar energy-based characters.
  22. Light Lass (Lightning Lass) — Starting out, she was a Lightning Lad clone (which makes sense, given that she's his sister. In an effort to make her less redundant, they changed her powers to make things super-light. This made her more interesting than Star Boy, but only just barely.
  23. Duo Damsel (Triplicate Girl) — A somewhat dull character made worse when she lost a third of what made her interesting. Her relationship with Bouncing Boy was the thing that really had her stock dropping.
  24. Shadow Lass — Another female character who was made interesting solely because of her love-life (with Mon-El). Kinda lame that her powers, which could actually be interesting, so often were not.
  25. Star Boy — Used to be a Superboy clone. Eventually gained the ability to make things super-heavy. Another one-note Legionnaire who was rarely notable.
  26. Colossal Boy — He could grow big. But most of the time he just ended up doing a lot of damage when he fell down and went boom.
  27. Invisible Kid — He never really got a shot back in the day. Finally they performed a mercy-killing and had him join the ranks of dead Legionnaires.
  28. Kid Quantum — A character that was never as good as his concept. The potential wasn't really fulfilled until his little sister took over the role.
  29. Polar Boy — As a member of the loser-squad (Legion of Substitute Heroes) he didn't gain that much when
  30. Shrinking Violet — Post-Crisis, they did a lot with the character. Pre-Crisis, however, she was incredibly, unforgivably boring.
  31. White Witch — It's not that she's not an interesting character... it's just that she was never very interesting to me. Unless there was a magic-based adversary like Mordru around. Otherwise I rememeber her being more irritating than anything else.
  32. Chemical King — Most notable for being mysteriously dead, then getting a bit of a moment before becoming dead-dead.
  33. Blok — A direct copy of The Thing from Marvel's Fantastic Four — who never really went anywhere.
  34. Magnetic Kid — Cosmic Boy's younger (more boring) brother. Nothing new here. Move along.
  35. Matter-Eater Lad — He can eat anything. Woo-hoo. The only reason he's not dead-last on my list is that it was pretty awesome how Braniac 5 got him to consume The Miracle Machine, which caused him to go insane.
  36. Ferro Lad — The most interesting thing about him was that he was the first dead Legionnaire. Happily, this was rectified in reboots, but it was fairly depressing in those early days.
  37. Bouncing Boy — Good Lord. "Super bouncing" as a power was sublimely stupid in just about every possible way.
  38. Tellus — Pointlessly bizarre character who, along with Quislet, was apparently an effort to get a larger non-human element in The Legion.
  39. Quislet — Another pointless non-human who added practically nothing to the series. I rank him worst because he was so poorly defined and utilized.

I maintain that The Legion could make an excellent television series. We got a taste in the last season of Supergirl but there is still so many places they could go. Maybe one day.

   

Justice League: Revisited

Posted on July 31st, 2018

Dave!Today Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War was released on digital home video. I thought before I sat down and wrote my thoughts on the movie, I'd take a run through Justice League from the Distinguished Competition and jot down some notes on it as well.

It's no secret that, with one exception, I loathe the DC Comics Cinematic Universe. Wonder Woman was pretty great. But Man of Steel, Batman vs. Superman, Suicide Squad, and Justice League were all festering piles of crap that were not only bad movies... they were bad adaptations of the comic books they were taken from.

Justice League was so bad that I couldn't even get through it. I've only just watched various chunks when I've seen it on HBO. But, in the interest of fairness, I thought that I would sit through the whole thing last night to see if that changes my opinion.

Turns out that, no, it most definitely does not...

Justice League Poster

   
If anything, it sucks even harder in one viewing because it's such an epic slog to force your way through. All that did was make me end up resenting the film even more than I already did. My notes are something I'm posting for myself so I don't lose them, but feel free to read along if you want to.

And now? Do not proceed unless you've already seen the movie. LOL! JUST KIDDING! You do not want to see this movie, trust me.

Spoilers await in an extended entry...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

Bullet Sunday 472

Posted on July 29th, 2018

Dave!Home again home again... and just in time too, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Mutants! The news of the week? Disney's offer to buy out 21st Century Fox's movie properties was approved by the shareholders on both sides. They still have to get regulatory approval, but it's expected there won't be any issues. And so? The X-Men, The Fantastic Four, and Deadpool franchises will be headed to Marvel Studios. Which means we might finally get to see a good X-Men film... and we hopefully won't get more horrendously shitty Fantastic Four films. Deadpool was done right (twice!), but he lives outside of comic book reality, so he won't require a reboot. He'll just comment about his new universe and move on. In all honesty, I don't give too big a crap about the mutant teams showing up alongside The Avengers and so-on... but I am beyond excited to see The Fantastic Four popping up everywhere...

The Fantastic Four by Art Adams

There is so much potential there.

   
• Big Gunn! And speaking of Marvel Studios... they've cut loose Guardians of the Galaxy writer/director James Gunn over offensive tweets he made almost a decade ago. I have mixed feelings over it all. On one hand he has repeatedly apologized for what he said, explained that it was a poor attempt at being provocative, he has moved on, and he tries hard to not be that person any more. On the other hand though... the jokes(?) were about things like pedophilia and rape and really don't qualify as "jokes" at all, assuming that was the intent. They certainly weren't funny. But... is that worth losing the third act of The Guardians of the Galaxy over? In the end I'd have to say "no." It would be a different matter entirely if he actually was a rapist and pedophile... but he's not. He was just entirely too stupid to understand he wasn't being provocative or funny... he was just being an asshole. And if we're going to start firing people in Hollywood for being stupid assholes, at least half of the industry would be gone.

   
• Printables! Downloadable guns? Well that sure took less time than I thought.

   
• Roasted! The Comedy Central Roast of Bruce Willis was on tonight. It was raunchy, horrible fun as always...

Comedy Central Roast of Bruce Willis

But every time one of these comes up, I cannot help but think back to one of the best roast lines ever said. Sandra Bernhard was preceding Jeffrey Ross at the roast of Jerry Stiller. Jeffrey stepped up and said "Yeesh, I wouldn't fuck you with Bea Arthur's dick!"... with Bea Arthur in attendance. I had always wondered if Bea Arthur ever reacted to it, so tonight I Googled it. Turns out Jeffrey Ross has a story about that.

   
• McWrong! Ever wonder what happens when McDonald's wraps your Egg & Cheese Biscuit Sandwich inside-out? Here you go...

Comedy Central Roast of Bruce Willis

I was too hungry to throw it all out, so I tore off as much of the color as I could. Hopefully it's non-toxic in case I didn't get it all.

   
• Kurzge-wha?! And here's my new favorite thing of the moment on the internet the Kurzgesagt Channel on YouTube...

If you've got time to waste, here's the place to go.

   
And that's the end of that. See you next Sunday.

   

Bullet Sunday 465

Posted on June 10th, 2018

Dave!It's been yet another week full of hypocrisy and evil, but it's all good, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Two! I loved everything about the first LEGO Movie... except the ending. When they dropped into "The Real World," everything fell apart for me. With this in mind, I have mixed feelings about the sequel...

Yes, I'm excited to see it. But can we please just stick in the world of LEGO and let Chris Pratt be hilarious? That would be great, thanks.

   
• No Reservations. There wasn't much I didn't like about Anthony Bourdain. He was responsible for some highly entertaining television. He was a world traveler and advocate for better understanding and acceptance between cultures. He used his celebrity to advocate for worthwhile causes and draw attention to injustices. He was an incredible guest on any talk show he dropped by. He was somebody I liked and admired, which is why his death has hit me so hard. You will be missed, sir.

   
• Darkness and Light! I was never a fan of the Cloak & Dagger comic books. They all had the same story. Cloak & Dagger hunt down drug dealers. Cloak goes a little crazy because he's hungry. Dagger feeds him a light sandwich. Lather, rinse, repeat. On occasion they team up with other heroes, but their baggage is always the same. And now Freeform TV has created a Cloak & Dagger television show...

Marvel's Cloak and Dagger on Freeform

Now, I'm not saying that every super-hero show has to be packed with super-power fights... but there has to be something to make it interesting... otherwise it's just another boring TV drama I don't care about. And if the first two episodes of Cloak & Dagger are any indication, here's yet another boring TV drama I don't care about. Which is a shame, because the actors are very good.

   
• You! Other than an occasional song here and there, I haven't given much thought to Maroon 5 in years. But now they've dropped a new video for their song Girls Like You that's packed with more guest-stars than you can shake a stick at.

Not a bad song at all. And if you're having trouble putting a name to all the faces, here's a link for you. And, as much as I like it, this is not going to displace my favorite Maroon 5 video...

And if that's not enough Maroon 5 for you... here they are covering Bob Marley's Three Little Birds...

'Cause every little thing gonna be alright.

   
• NEWS: With deal to close this week, Bayer to retire Monsanto name
Well of course they are retiring the Monsanto name! Monsanto is fucking evil incarnate, and people were finally waking up to it. But now? Bayer is just the aspirin people! Evil + Evil = Bigger Evil.

   
• A Red Letter Day! As my final bullet of the day, I leave you with one of my favorite Pet Shop Boys songs that's woefully under-appreciated... and highly relevant to my life as of late...

Doesn't get much more Pet Shop Boys than that.

   
So long until next Bullet Sunday!

   

Bullet Sunday 463

Posted on May 27th, 2018

Dave!It may be the last day of the week, but this holiday weekend keeps on rolling... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Pooh! Of all the movies coming up, I have to admit that Christopher Robin is the one I'm most looking forward to at the moment...

With all the advancements in special effects, it's the ability to make films like this which impress me most.

   
• Whoa! Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder? Sign me up!

I'm not a romantic-comedy "romcom" kinda guy, but this movie will be worth seeing for the casting alone. Not in theaters, of course, but when it hits HBO or Netflix, I'm on it.

   
• Hotness! I've been running across a lot of treasures from my past as I work my way through my garage. As an example... look how brutally hot I was on my learner permit!

Dave's Hot Learner's Permit

Yep... if I were legal in that photo, I'd do me!

   
• Togs! The closer they get to making Mon-El have his iconic comic book costume, the closer my inner fanboy gets to peeing my pants...

Dave's Hot Learner's Permit

Almost there. Just need that waistcoat... then call it good!

   
• Thanks, Obama! Yes, I had problems with some of President Obama's policies... but I never stopped admiring him as a person. That goes double Michelle Obama, who was such an exemplary First Lady. So to say that I'm anxious to get my hands on her forthcoming book is an epic understatement...

Becoming by Michelle Obama

The unabridged audiobook is available for pre-order at Audible. Since Michelle Obama is narrating all 14 hours of it, I couldn't press the purchase button fast enough.

   
• Quilt! Hey OG bloggers! Somebody made this incredible quilt for me back in the day, but I can't remember who it was? Does anybody know?

XXX

I'm hanging it up to display in my room, and I'd like to attach a tag with the author.

   
What are you still doing here? The bullets are over. They're over! Go home. There's nothing more for you here.

   

The Avengers: Infinity War

Posted on May 2nd, 2018

Dave!And lo, Marvel Studios absolutely wasn't kidding when they taunted that Avengers: Infinity War is the culmination of the past ten years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is not idle hype. Though Comic Book Reality being what it is, you have to wonder just how much of what happens in this truly epic film will have lasting effects on where we are going forward.

Something tells me not all of it is going to all be washed away. What ends up sticking is anybody's guess.

Except not really...

Avengers: Infinity War Movie Poster

If you've ever read comics before... if you've ever been left hanging in the middle of a two-part comic book story before... then there's nothing much in Infinity War that could be all that shocking to you. Likewise, anticipating the thrust of the story in next year's still-untitled-conclusion-movie also doesn't take much effort.

And yet...

Infinity War actually did redefine the word "epic" when it comes to super-hero movies... or movies in general, really.

Obviously, my thoughts on the film are going into a spoiler-laden extended entry, which you absolutely do not want to read if you haven't seen Avengers: Infinity War yet.

You've been warned.

And also... another warning? Skip any trailers you haven't watched yet. One pretty major spoiler was dropped in one of the trailers I saw, and I'm still pretty raw about it.

And now? This is your last chance. Do not proceed unless having a movie ruined is something you enjoy.

Spoilers await in an extended entry...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

Superman in Action Comics

Posted on April 20th, 2018

Dave!I've never been a "Superman guy."

Not that I didn't like the character... on the contrary, I own hundreds and hundreds of Superman comic books. My problem is that Superman, as a character, never made much sense to me. And I never really knew why. I always assumed that it was because I was more of a "Batman guy," having put more stock into the idea that a rich guy wanting to fight crime to avenge his parents made more sense than an alien with god-like powers wanting to be a newspaper reporter.

Then I saw Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill...

   
And there it was...

"Clark Kent is Superman's critique on the whole human race."

It wasn't that Superman wanted to be a newspaper reporter... it was that Superman wanted to be human at all. The excuse has always been that he slums with humans as a way to not lose touch with the humanity he found while being raised by the Kents. That's all well and good... but it still doesn't make much sense. He's an adult man. If he's still worried about losing his humanity by now, he might as well give up. "Fake it until you make it" may be a valid course of action for a job... but for being human?

And considering he can toss planets around with his bare hands, how human could he ever really be? I don't get it.

But apparently a lot of people do, because Superman is in a comic book that just hit 1000 issues...

XXX

   
The best Superman stories are always those which come up with a way of finding something new while maintaining the continuity which came before. The best of the best being Alan Moore's For the Man Who Has Everything and Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? and Grant Morrison's All-Star Superman. There have been others I've enjoyed, but they usually involve some kind of smart take on why Superman is the way he is... not stories that come up with somebody bigger and stronger to pound on Superman for a few issues.

And don't get me started on the current cinematic take on Superman with Man of Steel, Batman vs. Superman, and Justice League, which just plain suck because they are exactly what make a bad Superman story.

But anyway... back to Action Comics #1000...

I haven't been following the character since George Pérez jumped ship after the New 52 reboot years ago. I am aware that there was yet another reboot called "Rebirth" last year, but I haven't read any of it. So you can imagine my surprise when I find that Superman is married to Lois Lane and has a son named Jon that is Superboy. Not that this really affects what's happening in Action Comics #1000, but it's still something that permeates the issue.

The bulk of the issue is a love-letter to Superman by a chunk of very talented writers and artists and it's mostly wonderful. Many of the things you would hope to find in a landmark issue like this are there. And then there's the money-story... Brian Michael Bendis starting his run on the character with artwork by Jim Lee!

And what we get is... meh.

Because here we go again, somebody bigger and stronger to pound on Superman for a few issues. There's a twist, of course, but its one that's of little consequence in the grand scheme of things. In general, I like the stuff that Bendis does, but I'll not be tuning in for this. I'm just not a big enough Superman fan to get involved... especially when DC is probably going to reboot the Rebirth reboot to the New 52 reboot to the Flashpoint reboot to the Infinite Crisis reboot to the Zero Hour reboot to the Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot.

Maybe I'll have a change of heart in the reboot after that. You never know.

   

Bullet Sunday 545

Posted on March 18th, 2018

Dave!Don't click that "Back Button" just yet, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• To Infinity! And so... here we are. A little over a month until the beginning of the end. Ten years of build-up all comes down to Avengers: Infinity War in April and its sequel next year...

So much to unpack here, which is not surprising considering the final movie has a runtime is 2 hours 36 minutes.

   
• A Brief History of Time. Stephen Hawking is gone! So remarkable that he managed to live so long with a disease which he was told would kill him decades ago. And look what his brilliant mind accomplished while trapped in a body which betrayed him! That he was a character on The Simpsons is just icing on the cake. An amazing, amazing man...

Stephen Hawking on The Simpsons

And funny...

Rest in peace, sir.

   
• LOLZ! Probably the funniest thing I've ever seen on Twitter...

Sarah Silverman Tweet

And yet... this is utterly insane as well. How in the hell do you confuse Kumail Nanjiani, Kunal Nayyar, and Kal Penn? They look nothing alike! I guess some people just see skin color and don't look any further.

   
• Fourth World! Looks like DC is finally moving past Zack Snyder's laughably bad take on super-heroes. After Patty Jenkins hit gold with Wonder Woman, they're striking a deal with another celebrated woman to helm New Gods for the big screen. Congrats to Ava DuVernay! My first choice would be Taika Waititi since his love letter to Jack Kirby in Thor: Ragnarok was so perfect... but this is a great choice too...

Kirby New Gods Cover

It will be interesting to see if DuVernay goes full-on Kirby or heads in another direction entirely.

   
• Incredible! ZOMG ZOMG ZOMG ZOMG... It's REAL!

Incredibles LEGO Game

Needless to say, I want want want want this game!

   
• Chain Gang! Since subscribing to Amazon Music Unlimited, I've been going a bit crazy over music. Now that I have "tens of millions" of songs available anytime, anywhere, I'm asking Alexa to play esoteric stuff all day long that it would never have occurred to me to play before I subscribed. Something pops in my head? Play it Hear a song mentioned somewhere? Play it. Song pops up on a commercial? Play it. For the past two days I've been obsessed with Sam Cooke. He was mentioned on an episode of The West Wing, and I've been listening to everything available ever since. So many songs of his I recognize but never really knew where they came from.

 

Such an amazing talent. Which makes the bizarre circumstances of his death even more tragic.

   
Until next Sunday then...

   

Bullet Sunday 542

Posted on February 25th, 2018

Dave!Prepare yourself, because a Very Special BLACK PANTHER EDITION of Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Art! One of the best things about Black Panther is the production design. A lot of what went into that is explored in yet another wonderful edition of Marvel Studio's Art of the Movie books, which somebody on YouTube was kind enough to thumb through...

There's very little of the book that's not fascinating... or gorgeous...

Black Panther Art of the Movie Page

I own the entire series and love them. You can pick up the absolutely beautiful Black Panther edition from Amazon.

   
• Trevor! The detractors for Black Panther have been pretty stupid about it. I mean, if you don't like the movie, fine... to each their own. But the whole "This movie is racist because it's mostly Black people" is laughably stupid. My favorite commentary on this was by Trevor Noah from The Daily Show...

Speaking of Trevor Noah, if you haven't read or, better yet, listened to the audiobook of his Born a Crime, then it is absolutely worth your valuable time to do so. While interviewing Lupita Nyong'o for Black Panther, it was revealed that she will be producing and playing his mother in the movie adaptation...

Can't wait!

   
• Mother! Speaking of audiobooks, a momentary aside... I am just now finding out that Jenifer Lewis released a book last month called The Mother of Black Hollywood. Whether you know her as Ruby from Blackish or one of her many roles over nearly 30 years in Hollywood, it is so good...

Here is Jenifer Lewis being Jenifer Lewis... while plugging her book (and other things)...

If you want to be entertained for hours, search for "Jenifer Lewis" on YouTube and prepare yourself. This video is an hour of amazing...

I have only just started listening to the audiobook, but it is fantastic already. If you are a member of Audible, it's worth a credit. If you are not a member of Audible, you get a FREE credit when you sign up! Go do that and get this book!

   
• Comics! If you've seen the movie (and I'm assuming you have), there's a lot more to the story in the original comic books. Here's my four favorite series...

Black Panther Comic Book Covers

  • Black Panther by Christopher Priest (Vol. 1 Amazon link).
    During his epic run on the character, Priest defined and redefined a lot of what we know today about Black Panther. The movie owes a lot to his work on the character.
  • Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Amazon Link).
    Having a writer of Coates' caliber take over Black Panther is the gift that keeps on giving. The beautiful art by Brian Stelfreeze is just the icing on the cake.
  • Who is The Black Panther? by Reginald Hudlin (Amazon Link)
    I like this series because it has a good ties between Black Panther and the rest of the Marvel Universe. They actually made this into a motion-comic you can watch.
  • Black Panther: Masterworks by Don McGregor (Vol. 1 Amazon Link)
    Here it is... the 1970's masterwork that gave us an epic story arc that's just as thrilling today as it ever was: Panther's Rage.

I would be remiss if I didn't add Jack Kirby's work on the Black Panther, which is also an important read.

   
• Wrong Panther! It'll be reiterated below, but I think it important to state it here: There is NO relation between the Black Panther of the comic books and the Black Panther Party. And yet... I've seen this pop up more times than I can count online.

   
• Panther Facts! Let's wrap up this Bullet Sunday with a list of interesting Black Panther bullets, courtesy of Kevin E. Ross, who has asked that people share it...

  • The Black Panther (real name: T'Challa) is the first mainstream black superhero ever. He was created by Marvel Comics and the team of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the same two responsible for heroes like Thor, the Fantastic Four, and Captain America.
  • Created in 1966 during the turbulent Civil Rights era, he is the first black superhero not created as an "token," a dependent, or a sidekick. This was considered extremely controversial for the time period. He predates Captain America's Falcon (1969) and Luke Cage (1971). He also preceded the revolutionary activist group the Black Panther Party by 3 months (he was introduced in July of 1966, and the Black Panther Party in October of 1966. They were not connected).
  • T'Challa (his real name), is also the ruler of a fictional African kingdom called Wakanda (population 6,000,000). Wakanda is considered one of the wealthiest nations on Earth as well as one of the most technologically-advanced. Imagine if Disney World's Tomorrowland and the Rainforest Cafe merged.
  • Wakanda's wealth is the result of a meteorite that crashed on to the continent 10,000 years ago. Composed of a rare alien material called Vibranium, the metal is sought by many in the world for its scientific applications and its military capabilities. It is only available in Wakanda, thus the country keeps itself closed and shielded from the outside world. Vibranium basically absorbs any energy directed towards it and holds it like a sponge. Imagine buildings that wouldn't crumble under the force of an earthquake, or soldiers protected against explosions from grenades and other explosive devices. Wakanda does export other commodities such as coal, diamonds, and technology, which contributes to its worth.
  • Wakanda has tons of vibranium in underground storage. One gram of vibranium is worth $10,000. That means Captain America's 12-pound shield, which is composed of the material, is worth just over $54 million dollars.
  • Being the monarch of the world's richest nation also makes you rich. T'Challa's net worth is $90.7 trillion dollars, which makes him richer than Batman's Bruce Wayne (9.2 billion) or fellow Marvel running mate Tony "Iron Man" Stark (12.4 billion). By a lot.
  • In the comics, the Black Panther is also one of the most well-respected men in the world. He is a combination of nobility (Thor), patriotism (Captain America), and superior intellect (Iron Man). He is also an Oxford graduate with a PhD in physics and is considered one of the top-5 minds on the planet.
  • The Black Panther is more than the special costume he wears. He is also a world-class athlete who was trained in martial arts, judo, wrestling (a popular Wakandan sport), and all forms of hand-to-hand combat. He also has enhanced healing properties, strength, speed, agility, and tracking senses. This is the result of ingesting a special heart-shaped herb that grows only around the site of the crashed vibranium meteorite. The radiation from the meteorite produces the plant which, once ingested, gives the recipient the aforementioned special abilities. Only those in the royal hierarchy and heirs to the panther mantle are eligible to use it. This means that the Black Panther has absolutely no problem going toe-to-toe with Captain America, who is considered the world's best hand-to-hand combatant and fighter.
  • Steeped deep in African tradition, Wakandans worship Bast, a female deity known also as the Panther God. The symbolic mythology here is also directly connected to ancient Egypt. She is revered as a protector and defender of the nation. This makes the Black Panther her agent outside the spirit realm, and thus more than a hero, but a true mythical figure. Imagine if the Pope wore a costume, had superhuman abilities, and defended the Vatican from its enemies both foreign and domestic.
  • Because of Bast, Wakandan women are highly-respected. The king's personal guard, the Dora Milaje, are an elite female fighting force. T'Challa's younger sister Shuri is a genius level intellect and considered one of the smartest women on the planet. Not only does she give the Black Panthers technologically-advanced suit & tech superior upgrades, but also other inventions to help further her country's technological dominance. While Tony Stark, who is considered one of the smartest men on the planet, graduated from MIT at age 17, he did not invent the Iron Man suit until age 42. By contrast, Shuri is only 16 years old.
  • In the comic books, the Black Panther was briefly married to Storm of the X-Men (remember Halle Berry?). Storm was from Wakanda's African neighbor Kenya (but grew up in Cairo, Egypt).

   
Until next week... WAKANDA FOREVER!

   

The Black Panther

Posted on February 24th, 2018

Dave!For comic book geeks, this truly is the golden age of cinema. On the Marvel side of the aisle, they have been killing it over and over and over again. This time it's with one of my most favorite Marvel heroes, Black Panther.

Given my passion for comic books, this is going to be a long one, so strap yourself in.

From the time I first started reading comic books, I was mostly a "DC Comics guy." This was undoubtedly because of DC being the home of Batman, probably my favorite super-hero. Batman doesn't have any powers except being absurdly rich, and yet he can hold his own on any super-team against even the most powerful villains. He made me think that I could be a super-hero too one day... all I needed was millions of dollars and a butler.

When I branched out into Marvel comics, it was a very different world. Sure their stories happened in a real place like New York City and not a fictional one like Metropolis or Gotham City, but that was just geography. To a kid in central Washington State, New York might as well have been the moon (home of The Inhumans!). The fact that Marvel tried to give larger-than-life heroes mundane problems was kind of lost on me. Spider-Man has all these amazing powers where he could earn hundreds of thousands of dollars as a body guard, but he chooses to be a struggling photographer? What sense does that make? Superman may live a mundane life as Clark Kent, but at least he had the sense to pick a career where he could pay the rent.

It went on and on like that for me with Marvel, the X-Men being the most perplexing of all. They never got tired of being persecuted as mutants, even with all the powers they possessed. I mean, yeah, many of them had human parents that probably made them sympathetic to the plight of mere humans... but come on. That's a plot point that gets really old, really fast.

There were two exceptions with Marvel, however.

  1. Doctor Strange whose magical world was far more fascinating to me than anything Dr. Fate was ever given to do over at DC Comics.
  2. Black Panther who was nothing like any other super-hero I had ever seen.

Doctor Strange already had his own fantastic movie, and now it's Black Panther's turn.

At last.

Black Panther by Jack Kirby

For those who have not yet seen the film, my spoiler-free review would have to be "It's faithful to the source material with plenty of nods to the comics... along with being wonderfully written, superbly cast, beautifully filmed, and fully realized... all while being painfully socially relevant." I seriously loved every frame of it, and Ryan Ryan Coogler, his team, and his cast deserves every bit of praise being sent their way.

For everybody else?

Spoiler Zone!

Alrighty then.

Prior to seeing Black Panther I pretty much knew what to expect. King T'Chaka was killed in Captain America: Civil War, his son T'Challa returned to Wakanda to become king... and somewhere along the way Killmonger shows up to ruin his day. And since we all know that Black Panther and many characters from his film will be showing up in Avengers: Infinity War, it's a forgone conclusion that T'Challa comes out on top. The hero wins. The villain dies. End of story. Right?

Surprisingly? It's not quite so cut-and-dry at that.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. You'll find my thoughts on Black Panther in an extended entry...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

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