Marvel sees decrease in sales – blames fans who don’t want to see diversity.

I admit, when I saw the title of an article that my partner in crime, Maico, shared with me; I was grinning: “Marvel executive says emphasis on diversity may have alienated readers.

But almost instantly, I was furious. They had said: Comics studio’s vice president of sales tells summit that some stores say people ‘have had enough’ of new female and ethnic minority characters. Marvel’s vice president of sales has blamed declining comic-book sales on the studio’s efforts to increase diversity and female characters, saying that readers “were turning their noses up” at diversity and “didn’t want female characters out there.”

Wrong. My “problem” with Marvel’s recent push for diversity is more along the lines of getting rid of original characters to “validate” these new diverse characters. The biggest one is Iron Heart. Tony Stark “dies” (nearly dies, whatever the case may be; because no one stays dead in Marvel, just ask Jean Grey) – and the intelligence of Tony Stark is made into a digital print and put into the mind of Riri Williams. (Note: Jenna Tomlin corrected me – and let me know that the AI Tony is not in fact, embedded into Riri’s mind – he is a separate, independent Artificial Intelligence that helps her monitor and control the suit!) So they got rid of Iron Man to make Iron Heart your only choice if you want an Iron Man type comic. (They also killed Moon Boy in order to make room for Moon Girl; but I think I am one of the few – if not, only – Moon Boy fan – and that was all because of the Fallen Angels limited series way back in the day). I admit, I do question why they would put the kind of intelligence (knowledge, and security clearance knowledge that Tony Stark into with a young person‘s mind – male, female, black, or white – and why they wouldn’t put it into the mind of an already established character with intelligence – because it just seems like a security breach to put into into the mind of someone who isn’t an Avenger, Fantastic Four, or a member of SHIELD). But it’s comics – and it’s just the way it is!

Where Marvel has gotten this push for diversity right in my opinion; is Thor. We have a woman who has taken up the mantle of Thor, Goddess of Thunder. But for those invested in hundreds of comics deep of Thor Odinson – we have a title Unworthy Thor. Also, when they made Kamala Khan, a Muslim character as Ms. Marvel; they didn’t get rid of Carol Danvers; instead, they made her Captain Marvel (and have done such a great job promoting her; which I love, because I was an avid fan of her as Ms. Marvel, and even more so when she became Binary! I had collected the original Ms. Marvel and the following series that she was in for her own title – I, admit, however, due to financial cut backs, I did not collect her current run of Captain Marvel books – but that has nothing to do with lack of diversity support, and more with financial reasons!) This is how you do diversity.

I actually applaud Marvel’s attempt to diversify their books and reach a larger audience to feel represented in the Marvel Universe.

But to blame their lack of sales on Diversity? I call bull#$%^. Marvel needs to look inwards to find where the true blame is. I was at WonderCon just this weekend, explaining to my best friend’s son, Matt (who is 21 and an avid fan of DC Comics; but also loves Unworthy Thor) my dislike of Marvel’s current state (and trust me, I was a Marvel Zombie for 35 years of my comic book collecting life, so far!). One of the biggest issues with Marvel, that I have is that literally every 6 months is a major event. And that crossovers cross into every single title, forcing you to either pick up an entire cross over – or be utterly confused.

I can speak from experience reading Spider-Man 2099, when the Spider-Verse happened; it was two or three issues, where I was so utterly confused, because I had no interest and no money to collect this massive cross over to understand what was going on. So for those two or three months, the issues were just money thrown into Marvel’s pockets, because I certainly got no enjoyment out of the books (no offense to Peter David’s incredible writing, either!)

I think crossover events are the bane of just every comic book collector. Why these events aren’t self contained within a limited series, rather than running through several different books, is far beyond me. Remember the original Secret Wars? The one that ran 12 issues? Was completely self contained? Yes, there were consequences after it – like Thing staying on Battleworld. But if you were reading X-Men or Fantastic Four or Avengers or whatever – you weren’t forced to collect books that may you didn’t normally read, for 12 months, to figure out what the heck was going on. Nothing is more confusing, when an issue ends at one point – but because of a cross over, the next issue you pick up – it’s at a completely different place, with all these new things happening – because you have essentially missed 3 to 5 issues by not collecting all the things that these books cross over into.

So for example, the entire Spider-Verse fiasco I had to deal with. Forget the “Edge of Spider-Verse” that is a prelude to all of these (apparently there was a: Edge of Spider-Verse: Superior Spider-Man, Edge of Spider-Verse: Miniseries, Edge of Spider-Verse: Spider-Man 2099 and an Edge of Spider-Verse: Amazing Spider-Man) – but just going into the main Spider-Verse cross over – it crossed through: Scarlet Spiders, Spider-Man 2099, Spider-Verse, Spider-Verse Team Up, and Spider-Woman. So essentially when it crossed over, I’d have to pick up four other books that I was not collecting, and had no interest (and aforementioned, money) to pick it up. So each time I picked up an issue of Spider-Man 2099 during that Spider-Verse nightmare, I was always essentially “missing” four issues (because of all the titles it crossed over). Now, let’s be clear – I may be picking on Spider-Verse, but I had this same exact issue with Avengers vs X-Men (the event/cross over, not the original limited series from the 80’s obviously), as well as The Black Vortex – which I was only getting The Legendary Starlord – in one issue the time displaced X-Men (don’t even get me started on that!) Angel has normal wings; then the next time I see him, he has energy wings, and I have no idea why… or how… and that’s just a few examples…

So, a lot of us “older” readers who are not opposed to diversity, but rather sick and tired of cross overs that we’re not interested in (nor can we afford, because – you know, real life, with real bills) – this is why we drop a lot of Marvel titles. Two years ago, I wrote an article on here, about how I was doing something I thought I’d never do – after 35 years of collecting Uncanny X-Men, I was finally dropping the title. And if you can’t tell how much I loved Uncanny X-Men from reading that and how much I hated dropping the title; then I truly failed as a writer. It wasn’t until news that Cullen Bunn would be writing Uncanny X-Men that I would come back and give it another try. My only regret with Cullen Bunn’s 20 issue run of Uncanny X-Men is that it wasn’t longer, and that he didn’t get to finish the stories I think he still had left.

But – I got side tracked. The simple matter is – fans do not like their heroes to be replaced. Remember when Sam Alexander, a brand new, young, character, took on the role as the new Nova after appearing on the Spider-Man cartoon? The Nova series (all of them) featuring the young, Sam Alexander, was met with a lot of resentment from fans who considered Rich Rider as the true Nova (especially after everyone else who died in the CancerVerse had come back to the living, except Rich Rider). While I still gave the Sam Alexander Nova series a chance, because he was a member of the New Warriors, which I am a huge fan of – the current series now features both Sam Alexander and a recently resurrected Rich Rider as both taking on the role of Nova. As as someone who runs NewWarriors.com as well, with a Twitter account & Facebook account all tied together – I have seen almost no complains about the current Nova series, because Rich Rider is a part of it once more. The anger towards “Diversity” is incorrect. It’s the replacement of characters, that many of us are extremely invested in. (Anyone remember when Marvel had the great idea to get rid of Thor and replace him – both in his own title and in the Avengers, with the human, Eric Masterson, as Thunderstrike? Also not very well received). They would eventually restore Thor, and Thunderstrike would go on to get his own, very short lived, series. So the Marvel CEO who blames the lacking sales because of fans not wanting diversity, is clearly not someone who has a good look at the whole picture, and is looking to deflect the blame upon the fans (which is always great for the company image), rather than looking inward and seeing that perhaps the blame is with them?

Lacking sales?

  • Relentless amount of “epic sized, ground breaking, world changing” cross overs that cross into several books, forcing readers to either spend money on books they don’t collect, or be utterly confused until the “epic sized, ground breaking, world changing” cross over event is over, and their books resume their normal story telling.
  • Replacing long standing characters, with brand new characters; diverse or otherwise. It has nothing to do with a character not being “white” for fans to rebel against this – both Sam Alexander (Nova) and Eric Masterson (Thunderstrike) were both white replacements for white characters, that there was a pretty big backlash and dislike for.

The potential answer?

  • Stop doing “epic sized, ground breaking, world changing” crossovers every 6 months. At the most do them once a year – but for the love of Odin’s Ravens – that doesn’t mean you have to do it every single year either. Consider doing these as a limited series and contain the entire event within that limited series, rather than spilling it into a bunch of books. This results in readers being forced to purchase these books, as I said, or be left in the dark, their own book that they collect making no sense during these cross overs. And due to the price of comics, readers like me, have been forced to cut back what they pick up – and simply can’t, or won’t, pick up these “epic sized” cross overs when they cross into other books – simply because we can’t afford it.
  • Stop replacing existing characters with new characters, that are virtually exactly the same. Why not have these characters co-exist? Replacing Thor with Thunderstrike and getting rid of Thor didn’t work. Replacing Nova (Sam) with Rich, had a few series’, but there was a lot of fan backlash. It’s going to happen no matter the skin color of the character you’re replacing or replacing them with.

Tawmis Logue
Podcaster with crazy thoughts.

Just A Side Note: One of my first comics was Uncanny X-Men #121, which featured an African woman (Storm), a German (Nightcrawler), a Canadian (Wolverine), an Irish Man (Banshee), and Cyclops (American). I would eventually get the back issues, early in my collecting career and saw that there were other great characters – a Native America (Thunderbird, who perished!) and a Japanese hero (Sunfire)! I have repeatedly said how Giant Size X-Men has become my “Bible” as to how comics should be done. One of my other favorite books? The original New Mutants book which contained a Scottish girl (Wolfsbane), a Native American girl (Mirage), a Latin male (Sunspot), a Vietnamese girl (Karma) and Cannonball (American). So, I’d say it’s pretty insane to think that I am not into diversity…

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ResurreXion: Astonishing X-Men

So I have already discussed the other titles coming out of this ResurreXion event, but now they just fully released another title called Astonishing X-Men.

Marvel had been releasing images of the team slowly, at first. So this is the final image of the team and the title of the book. So let’s take a look at the roster we have, because over all this looks like a pretty solid team.

  • Old Man Logan: By the looks of it, Old Man Logan will probably be the leader of this team (even though he’s busy in another ResurreXion book – so it looks like Logan still has the mutant ability to appear in multiple books at once. I admit, I am not a fan of Old Man Logan. But if you have listened to just about any of our podcasts, I dislike time displaced characters, where an existing version of them already exists. Granted, 616 Wolverine is “dead” but to me Old Man Logan is a knock off, and I’d much rather have my 616 Wolverine back.
  • Fantomex: I have yet to understand the appeal to this character. I mean, I dig all the little nods that make up Fantomex’s character (Fantomex resembles an Italian comic book Diabolik; his name Jean-Phillipe, is a reference to actor John Phillip Law, the star of Danger: Diabolik and that his Weapon X designation (Weapon XIII) is a reference to the protagonist of the Franco-Belgian comic XIII), but there’s been nothing about this character that has ever captured my attention and made me say, “I want to read more stories with this character!” And yet, somehow, he keeps popping up. So maybe I just have some skewed vision of why this character is so lame.
  • Psylocke: Now we’re talking! I have always enjoyed Psylocke, both as her British version and the revamped version that became extremely popular. My favorite era of her was when Claremont and Lee were doing the X-Men book back in the day. They really got a hold of what made her a really cool character to have in a book.
  • Mystique: I admit, I am surprised to see her on a team book. Her recent encounter within the pages of Uncanny X-Men and Psylocke, would make it seem like she would want nothing to do with the X-Men, and especially Psylocke. So she may be on there for that dynamic of the one who might betray them at any moment. I’ve always been a huge fan of Mystique, and while I enjoyed her back in the day on X-Factor, my favorite version of her has always been when she was leading the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
  • Bishop: Yes! Yes! Yes! So happy to see Bishop back in action. And to see that he’s returned to his classic costume, grown out his hair again. I would literally pick up the book, for no other reason, than just to read up on what Bishop is up to! Very happy to see Bishop back!
  • Archangel: When they were slowly doing the reveals, I was not the least bit surprised that Psylocke was on the team, with Archangel already revealed. Bunn has been doing some amazing things between Psylocke and Archangel in the pages of Uncanny X-Men, so I am hoping to see that quality carry on.
  • Rogue: It’s nice to see Rogue back in her costume, because the last I remember of Rogue, before giving up on all the X-Men books (until Bunn’s run on Uncanny X-Men), was that she had absorbed everyone’s power, and essentially her power was so completely out of control that she’d also absorb people’s life force completely (as in killing them). So I am not even sure where Rogue currently stands, but I am hoping we can get her restored back to her former glory.
  • Gambit: I am not the least bit surprised that Gambit is finally back on an X-Men team. And the fact that Rogue is in the book; I don’t know where their relationship status stands (since Gambit has appeared on such teams as X-Factor, without so much as a mention of Rogue). But Gambit has always been a character I really enjoyed (and I am sure my partner in crime, Maico, will be happy to know that Gambit is being used!)

 

  • Tawmis

 

 

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X-Men: The Animated Series – Fan Q&A – Submit YOUR Questions!

As you may have heard, from our over joyous posting about SD Comic Fest this year, we were fortunate enough to interview Julia & Eric of the X-Men Animated Series, which was an incredible opportunity and highlight for us!

I liked our interview with them on the CBR Forums in the X-Men: Animated Series Appreciation thread and one of the users on there, appropriately named ChildOfTheAtom had asked that if they’d be up for answering some fan Q&A stuff that we could put on our podcast. I reached out to them and they said they’d be up for it! So if you have an account on CBR, you can post it in the thread I created for the Q&A or go to the Contact Us portion of our page and shoot us an email. Or send us a message on our Facebook page or Direct Message us on Twitter.

So once again – ways to submit Questions to us for the X-Men: Animated Series from 1992 is:

One we have enough questions, we will schedule a time with Eric & Julia to see what we can get answered from the fans of the series!

So please share this far and wide! Let’s gather up as much as we can!

 

 

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Comic Relief Podcast – Issue #25 – The Animated Podcasters

Hang on to your hats, true believers! This is a Comic Relief Podcast like no other! In this issue of Comic Relief Podcast, our mutant podcasters, The Mighty Maico Moreno and Uncanny Tawmis Logue, find themselves under siege at the San Diego Comic Fest 2017!

You can get a quick run down reading our previous blog, where I talk about what an incredible time we had at San Diego Comic Fest 2017, and all the amazing and wonderful people; and how it all came to be that we got ourselves a table at the event!

The list of really cool people we got to meet and greet and interview, is pretty amazing! Let me give you a run down (and the order that the interviews appear on the podcast – I think – it was 4:30am when I finished this!)

I’d like to give a special thanks to Adam Johnson, who granted us permission to use his freaking epic Heavy Metal version of the classic X-Men cartoon theme song! You can check out Adam Johnson on Youtube, Bandcamp, iTunes, Google+, Facebook and finally on Twitter!

I also got to take photos with DancingRaptor as an insanely beautiful Sif and Eiraina as Wonder Woman. Honestly, this was one of my favorite events we have done, chalk full of some great and interesting interviews! We wanted our 25th issue to be double sized; and we did it. And it’s not fluff. It’s actually really great content! So – let me stop rambling and let you get to it, huh?

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

If you love us so much, that you want to put it on your favorite audio player on repeat, you can download the MP3 also.

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San Diego Comic Fest 2017 – Comic Relief Podcast (Fan Booth)

Day One – We’re Saucy And Ready!

So this year, I reached out to the San Diego Comic Fest folks and inquired if there was space for a table (either vendor or otherwise). There was some issues initially, but once Dennis of Southern California Comics (and now runs the SoCalComics blog) got me in touch with his good friend, Matt, who had just recently been elected into the San Diego Comic Fest as a new chairman, things began to roll in a positive direction! Matt was able to land us a fan table at San Diego Comic Fest.

Maico sits down to speak with Matt, of San Diego Comic Fest.

It worked out beautifully, as droves of people walked by and engaged in conversation with us; landing us interview after interview after interview, with folks interested in everything from comics, kingdoms, movies, anime (and Godzilla), race car comics, other conventions, games, and included some comic book writers as well! It was so amazing how well received we were at San Diego Comic Fest, and how many people were so willing to speak with us.

If the Con is in San Diego, good chance you will see the three of us together.

Our good friend, and partner in crime, Colleen, owner of Wyng’d Lyon Creations was there – well, correction, as I write this – is there vending her incredible assortment of merchandise. Maico and I considered doing our table on Monday, when this all started, but as I said, we were so busy with so many people coming by our booth – I literally have six hours of audio to go through. We wanted to make our 25th Issue of the Comic Relief Podcast “double sized” as Marvel used to do back in the day with 25th issues, and we met and exceeded what our expectations were! So there was a few more people we were hoping to speak with on Monday, but we already have too much to work through as it is! (So if we didn’t get a chance to speak with you, contact us on the site, or Twitter, or Facebook page – all linked over on the right!) – and reach out to us, and we can schedule something for a future episode using Skype (if you’re not local, and maybe even if you are local, just might be easier!)

One of the fine maidens, Lady Kiaya, of the Sovereign Kingdom of Terre Neuve.

The Ladies & Queen of of the Sovereign Kingdom of Terre Neuve (L to R: Maico, Lady Kiaya Damarite, Queen Babette Bryn Corey, Mary Beth and Tawmis)

We met so many cool and interesting people, that, had it not been for our booth, we would have never gotten the chance to know them! For example, the wonderful ladies of the Sovereign Kingdom of Terre Neuve. They came by to talk about their kingdom and the events that they do (including activities that earn members a chance to enter the Knighthood). One of the fun things I did, during the interview they had explained how Knights will duel to earn roses to give to the maidens. So what I did was go over to Colleen’s booth (Wyng’d Lyon Creations, mentioned previously!), who had ironically just began creating and selling these flowers where the petals are made out of comic books. So I bought one for each of the fine maidens, and the Queen and presented it to them, saying, “The Lord gives the Fair Lady/Queen, a rose.” Was really fun to interact with them, they stopped by a few times to talk with us (just in general) because they were a few tables down from us. Really amazing people, and if you are interested, I highly recommend checking out their site that I linked just above, for their Kingdom.

Shawn & the Sci Fi Coalition

Some other cool people we got to talk to, was Shawn Mullen and the Sci-Fi Coalition which is just starting up. They came by and sat with us during an interview. I highly recommend checking out their Facebook Group as well as checking them out on Twitter. They plan to do events on a regular basis, which includes dressing up in cosplay for specific movie releases! So if you’ve got a pirate costume (Who? Me?) and you have the urge to dress up for Pirates 5, or if you have a Harley Quinn costumes for that

Shane of the Sci Fi Coalition’s daughter – as Supergirl.

next Suicide Squad movie, or whatever the case may be – check out their site, their Facebook page, and their Twitter for those schedules and see if you’re interested in becoming a part of the Sci-Fi Coalition, or at least do events with them from time to time!

It’s going to be virtually impossible to even go over everything in this blog without rambling too long (besides, there’s – as I said – 6 hours of podcasting audio to go through! So you can get the feel of everything – and all the excitement and fun when I finish doing that editing!)

But I want to thank everyone who stopped by our booth and gave us a little bit of their time, and their excitement about their hobbies and talked to us. The amount of people that came by – whether they interviewed with us, or just came by to talk, or ask us technical questions in regards to podcasting – it was a pleasure!

Us with Eric & Julia Lewald of the X-Men: The Animated Series fame!

There is one big shout out I want to do, however. And that is to Julia & Eric Lewald, of the X-Men: Animated Series. I had reached out to them on Twitter about doing an interview with them, because both Maico and I were huge fans of the series (I own them all on DVD, and ripped them to my external USB that I take with me when I go on vacation, if that tells you anything!) And they were extremely receptive to doing the interview; and then I learned that they were going to be at San Diego Comic Fest, I knew this was going to be an incredible experience if we could do the interview there. Julia & Eric were very busy at San Diego Comic Fest, celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the X-Men Animated Series (has it really been that long?!) – so I wasn’t sure, despite best efforts if they were going to have the time. But they made the time. And it is, without a doubt, my favorite interview we’ve ever done. Perhaps because I was so closely connected to what we were talking about; or just the connection of how easy everything flowed. I can not thank Eric & Julia for making this year’s event X-Tremely Memorable.

Here’s some other cool photos:

All of these, and more can be found on our Comic Relief Podcast San Diego Comic Fest 2017 album!

And a bonus – Thanks to Tammy Stevens for sending this to us! Maico made it into the news (see him sitting down just at the end of the clip!) – I was unfortunately, being blocked by the guy standing at our booth (you can see me arm, wow!) as I was speaking to the Queen of Terre Neuve. Check it out on our Facebook page! Or just click it below:

  • Tawmis

 

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Remembering Carrie Fisher.

It wasn’t too long ago, I had just wished Carrie Fisher a happy birthday on here. And today, I am mourning the loss of one of my first “crushes” ever. In Empire Strikes Back, I had always wanted to be Han Solo, to have the best friend, the ship, the looks, the humor, and to have the princess that loved him. Carrie Fisher possessed a smile that radiated sheer joy. I admit, when Return of the Jedi came out, I was obviously even more attracted to this beautiful mysterious woman, who was suddenly showing a lot more skin.

2016 has been a year of many iconic people passing. But the loss of Carrie Fisher hits a lot closer to my heart. Star Wars awakened my imagination when A New Hope came out. And I vividly remember going to see Empire Strikes Back with my sister, and then Return of the Jedi (my older sister, falling asleep during the movie, and me being embarrassed). Carrie Fisher, Mark Hammill, Harrison Ford, and the rest of the Star Wars crew were my childhood icons. They were supposed to live forever.

When the news broke that Carrie Fisher had had a massive heart attack on her flight back to Los Angeles from London, and my wife had texted me, I was literally scouring the internet for updates, hoping to see an update that she had recovered, because 2016 had already brutally taken so many away from us. There was reports from her brother, that eventually surfaced, that she was no longer in critical condition and now in stable condition, but still hospitalized. I thought to myself – or perhaps hoped – that she would escape the cold clutch that had claimed so many already.

Tragically, a few days after the news of her initial heart attack broke, she would eventually leave this world to whatever awaits beyond.

Carrie Fisher has endured so much throughout her life, including being very open about the mental illness she would eventually come to suffer from (being bipolar). She, much like the character in Star Wars that she portrayed, was a beautiful, strong woman, and very open about her mental illness. There was no shame. Nothing to hide. She was a symbol of hope for those that suffered the same mental disorder. Much like, in the Star Wars movies, she was a beacon of hope.

My childhood crush may be gone.

But there’s nothing that’s ever going to take away her shining smile from my memory, or my heart. Where ever you might be, Carrie Fisher, May the Force Be With You – Always.
– Tawmis

 

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Star Wars: Rogue One – A Star Wars Story – Rakes In!

The Force is Strong with this One.

In a galaxy, not so far away, last year, Star Wars: The Force Awakens had a record setting $248 million opening a year ago, and it seems that the Force continues to flow through the Star Wars franchise as Star Wars: Rogue One opens with a shattering $155 million opening. This would make it the second best opening in December (only behind Captain America: Civil War which earned 179.1 million and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, which cracked in $166 million).

According to reports, no movie had even cracked $100 million for a December opening; the only one close was The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which opened with $84.6 million back in 2012.

The surprising factor, perhaps, of Rogue One‘s success, is that none of the “heroes” in the movie are from any of the Star Wars movies; so there is no Han Solo, no Luke Skywalker, no Lando Calrissian. While, the movie does make references to characters who appear in Star Wars: A New Hope (no spoilers here!) – this ragtag team of heroes that make up Rogue One are unique to the movie.

This gave the creative team behind Rogue One free reign to do what they wanted with these characters, and I believe that helped this movie greatly, because they weren’t confined into being boxed in, with what they wanted to do.

Rogue One gives us familiar figures (as we’ve already seen, Darth Vader), as well as familiar vehicles (like the AT-ST and the AT-AT, although it’s called the AT-ACT in Rogue One, which means there’s probably something slightly different about it).

If you’ve not yet made the time to go see Rogue One, please do so. You will not regret it.

And remember… May the Force be with You. Always.

  • Tawmis

 

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Retro Review: Team America.

No, this isn’t a Retro Review about the crash movie. Rather, this is a Retro Review on Marvel’s 12 issue limited series of Team America. (I believe it was slated to go longer, but something happened that brought this series to an end by issue 12 – and, it might have been because of low sales!) So why did Marvel make a series called Team America back in 1982? Well, back in the 1980’s – Marvel was in the habit of making several comics that were based off toys; for example Rom and Micronauts. (They also did GI Joe, but to be fair, at the time GI Joe also had an insanely successful cartoon backing it up). So if you’re not familiar with Team America, let me present this video for you, before I got into my Retro Review of the comic.

It’s pretty amazing, right? I remember having one of these… I can’t recall which one, but I remember this vividly as a kid. (Of course, I didn’t have the super cool backyard with these big dirt hills, so I had to make do with what I had!) But this isn’t about my memory down that – it’s about the comics based off these toys.

Much like ROM and Micronauts, Marvel was essentially taking these toys and developing character backgrounds and stories for them. They played it smart, and had the first couple of issues introduce and kind of give you a background to each of the characters. I don’t think the toys ever had names for the different motorcyclists, they just had different colors (pretty much of the same paint job, with swapped pallets). So if I am not mistaken, Marvel had free reign to do what they needed to do to help sell these toys for Ideal Toys Corp.

Marvel also wasn’t afraid to directly tie these characters into the Marvel Universe, and not hang them out to dry as just stand alone type characters. In the very first issue of Team America, it opens with the mysterious dark rider, Marauder, getting into a facility to erase some data files. And in the very next panel, after all of that happens, we see an immediate reference to Hydra.

As a matter of fact, they very first issue, has Team America pretty much in a big battle against Hydra, by the end of the issue. So I thought it was pretty cool that Marvel was at least trying to weave these characters into the Marvel Universe. In later issues, we even get an appearance from Iron Man and Ghost Rider. (These were probably attempts to save the series from cancellation is my guess).

By the second issue, we’re introduced to two new members of Team America; Cowboy and Wrench. It’s the first time that I also noticed that Bill Mantlo was attached as one of the writers. Bill had also done ROM and Micronauts, so I wonder if he was just who they tapped to handle these “toys to comics” type comic book scripting jobs.

Bill has a pretty extensive history with Marvel Comics. Most of what he’s done, I’ve enjoyed (including ROM and Micronauts… though I had my issues with what he did during his run in Alpha Flight), there’s no denying that Bill was extremely talented. Unfortunately, if you’re not aware, while rollerblading, Bill was struck by a car, who zoomed away, and to this day, has never been identified. Bill suffered greatly, being in a coma for some time, before awakening with extensive brain damage that has left him in a home care situation. A paypal has been set up in order to accept donations to help with Bill Mantlo’s care by comic book artist Greg Pak. In this issue, something mysterious begins to happen, as a fight with some local motorcycle gangs breaks out between them and Team America, and Wrench and Cowboy show up; and oddly, despite having never met one another, they each knew their names, as if psychically connected.

The next issue is a little corny; it introduces four new villains that belong to the Mayhem Organization; with members being Master Mayhem, Mister Magic, Mister Muscle and Mister Mind. (I couldn’t make this up, if I tried). Master Mayhem looks even worse that the Captain America foe, Madcap (who, okay, I admit I liked his costume), but Master Mayhem is something else entirely. Mister Magic just looks like an 1800 Male Magician, Mister Muscle looks like your typical circus muscle man, and Mister Mind looks like a flesh colored (as in non green) version of the Hulk foe, The Leader. Their assignment is to capture or kill, The Marauder. And they almost manage to do so, except, when the Marauder is in trouble, he suddenly has the ability to control his bike independently, which helps turn the tide of battle. It eventually boils down to all of Team America showing up and help defeat Master Mayhem. One very cool thing about this issue, is at the end; they do those cool “one page, pin ups” – but within those pin ups, they have it as a Hydra file, that has some information about the character featured in the pin up. (And if you know me, I love me some Marvel Universe Handbook type stuff!)

The stories continue to get odd, when the next issue focuses on one of their members, Wolf. Essentially, there’s an arcade / amusement park, where – now follow me here – they put kids into the arcade unit itself, and use their mental capacity to “power” the arcade games. Now… I don’t know why these guys couldn’t just use electricity like everyone else; but that’s where this story goes. Wolf gets involved, and ends up in a fight, but overwhelmed, he’s beaten. He, along with the rest of the kids, are placed on a roller-coaster doomed as a one way ride, when suddenly Marauder shows up. Wolf breaks free, and like a good episode of Scooby-Doo, the evil amusement park owners are defeated and captured and turned over to the local authorities by Team America.

The next issue gets a little more normal. This one focuses on Honcho, who is pretty much the “leader” of Team America (even as his nick name indicates, funny how that works out). It hearkens back to his days, before Team America when he was a top government spy/agent. He stumbles onto something, and begins to get himself in a bit of trouble. Just when things look bad (he’s been tied up and drowning!), the Marauder shows up, and helps turn the tide of the battle.

I am not sure if it was intended, but even the art in this issue, the way Honcho and the others are drawn, also seems to hearken back to that 1950’s look.

As I had mentioned before, they began focusing on each character per issue (Wolf, then Honcho) and then the next issue focuses on R. U. Reddy. (Are you ready?) This issue has R. U. Reddy fighting off some men who try to shoot him, but end off veering off the road into some green liquid that devours them. R. U. Reddy ends up going to a small motel, where the green liquid seems to be following him. It devours the owners dog, so R. U. Reddy grabs the beautiful, female owner, Evelyn, and rides away; but the green liquid continues to grow and follow, even attempting to grab them, as if it were also alive. Reddy discovers that a man, looking for a way to deal with oil spills created the slime to devour. However, the slime devoured anything but oil. The Marauder shows up and battles the man who created the slime; and the man ends up falling and being devoured by the very slime he created. But it doesn’t end there! Reddy and Evelyn try to escape and find that they’ve been cut off by the slime. So they do one of those cool jumps that the toy is known for an land on the freeway, where Reddy carjacks a man driving a flammable truck and drives it into the slime, jumping out last minute. The slime ignites and apparently dies a burning death.

I’ll stop there, rather than doing a synopsis of all 12 issues. As you see, some of the stories were good, some were unusual, and some were just really out there. Over all, I’d give this entire series a “C.” Because it is entertaining here and there, the art is really clean (if you don’t mind just seeing motocycles zipping around), I thought they did a good job, trying to make Team America a part of the Marvel Universe, even so far as giving them all powers that links them together. I will probably read this again, every few years, because it’s not horrible; but it’s not exactly good either.

  • Tawmis

Below are the other covers, in the event you were interested:

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Retro Review: The Falcon (Limited Series, 1983)

Sometimes, our minds play tricks on us. That “favorite” book, movie, and yes, even comic book, doesn’t turn out to stand the test of time when you go back, with excited, trembling hands to revisit it and take that walk down memory lane.

I’ve done my Retro Reviews for: Secret Defenders, Nomad, and even the entire New Universe line. With each of these, I had memories of fondly remembering how good most of these were; or at least, how good most of it was. For example, I remember pretty much enjoying all of Secret Defenders, but after giving it a re-read with more mature eyes, I was struggling to get through it. When I did the Nomad limited series and full series, it all started off totally great, but by the end, it did get pretty unusual, to the point it was a struggle to get through (some of that, however, I do blame on the artist who they had come aboard towards the end of the series). And New Universe… man, I remembered pretty much enjoying that whole thing, with the exception of Merc Hazard, which I didn’t recall enjoying… and that whole thing, except for DP7 and Psi-Force (but even Psi-Force good off the rails), were a definite struggle to read. I almost couldn’t make it through Justice.

So, all of that said, I am very happy to report, that when I went back and re-read The Falcon (limited series from 1983), I actually enjoyed the entire 4 issue limited series. There were some points in the story where you had to let go of reality, more so than you would for a comic book about super heroes (for example, a gang in Harlem managing to abduct the President of the United States).

The first issue is pretty standard fare; things are bad in the ghetto and there’s a white “buddy” cop who ends up partnering with Falcon throughout the series, named Sargent Tork. Amidst the increasing tensions, a new villain by the name of The Nemesis shows up, tearing down a building. After Nemesis is forced to flee, the owner of the construction site (of Kane Construction) shows up, scolding The Falcon for letting the villain go, and rants about how much money this will cost his construction company. (You can almost see where this is going, if you ever watched any episode of Scooby-Doo). Sure enough, Nemesis shows up again; this time gets defeated by The Falcon and is revealed to be none other than Kane himself, looking to collect insurance money!

It was the second issue of The Falcon that had initially captured my attention. I was already a fan of the Falcon from Captain America & The Falcon issues, from back in the day; but the second issue featured Falcon being held up by a Sentinel. A Sentinel! If you’ve listened to any of our podcasts, you probably already know what a big X-Men freak I was! So to have a Sentinel in The Falcon series! I had to know why! As it turns out, a damaged Sentinel detects that the Falcon is actually a mutant, and pursues him. There was an uproar about this (apparently), that Marvel had made it a mutant ability that allowed him to speak to Redwing, his falcon bird. This was later undone, and explained away, as the Sentinel was malfunctioning (which makes sense as well, since it was a damaged Sentinel that had put itself together). Still, I loved the story back then. It didn’t bother me one way or another whether Sam was a mutant or not. (I was also about 13 years old, so I didn’t really have a lot of strong opinions about much).

Third issue, as I said before, was where you had to suspend belief a little more than usual, and accept that a street gang in the ghetto would have rocket launchers and the like, and manage to successfully abduct the President of the United States, without the entire US Government coming down and getting involved. This issue also brings in one of my all time favorite (at the time) Spider-Man villains, Electro, who believes that Falcon is after him.

The final issue has Electro defeating Captain America, just as he’s trying to save the President; and it’s Falcon who swoops in (literally!) and saves the day, having a well written, well drawn, well executed battle against Electro, and eventually smooths things over (the best one can) with the gang that abducted the President of the United States, and sets everything straight.

All in all, this entire series is well written, well drawn, perfectly paced; and other than the one thing about the President’s abduction (and the lack of government response, really), the entire series is still as great as I remember it, and I’d have no problem repeatedly reading this. Through and through, The Falcon Limited Series (1983) delivers time and time again, in each issue. If you’ve never read it, you can probably pick up each issue very cheap; you can even purchase them through MyComicShop.com using our Affiliate ID and helping us out! I’d highly recommend giving this one a read!

  • Tawmis

 

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ResurreXion: Cable

Had I waited a day, I could have included the Cable discussion in my previous post. So it looks like James Robinson (who has written Cable in the past, no pun intended) is returning to the title, along with Carlos Pacheco for the artist.

Seems the general concept of the book is right along the lines I was thinking for Bishop appearing in the upcoming ResurreXion X-Men: Blue book.

Robinson had said, “This series will be Cable on a race against time to fix time. The reason Cable must take on this quest will reveal itself as the story and mystery unfolds, but he’s doing it for the sake of the Marvel Universe, which will fall apart if he doesn’t take action. And in the course of Cable’s mission, we’ll see him in a lot of great time periods like 15th century Japan, WWI, the Stone Age, Victorian England, and on and on, all with those time periods made more crazy and sci-fi by time being fractured by the villain of our series.”

Well, I can see how this might all impact Cable (because, technically, shouldn’t he cease to exist?) – because if Cyclops (Scott Summers) is pulled out of the past from the “616” time stream, that would impact that he may never meet Madelyne Pryor. Okay, let’s just leave the time paradox stuff alone and accept “this is comics” (just like any other soap opera!)…

That said, with him time sliding, and trying to save the time line, I am hoping that Robinson brings in another time slider; this time, restored as a hero, rather than the villain he was eventually made out to be, when he tried to kill Hope Summers – none other than Bishop. Seems like it could be redundant, but I could totally see them doing the “buddy cop” thing – essentially be like Lethal Weapon (s?) – Cable, like Riggs and Bishop, like Murtaugh. It’s probably too much to hope for…

Anyway, while I’ve not traditionally been a fan of “time displaced” characters, this line up of a creative team and concept, sounds good enough that I am willing to give it a few issues to grab my attention.

  • Tawmis

 

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