Secret Wars


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Secret-Wars-1-Marvel-Comics-All-New-Avengers-NowMarvel Comics is doing some very cool stuff in all of their books, and all of those books tie into their newest event, Secret Wars. All of their comics, all of their stories, are truly in a state of limbo right now… but that allows the creative people working on those comics try all sorts of new and interesting things.

I used to avoid the larger comic publishers for years and years, often because of their product-wide events, but when Jonathan Hickman started writing the Avengers and New Avengers a few years ago it kind of revived my interest in Marvel in general. Hickman is one of my favorite comic writers and is also the author of the main Secret Wars title. And it has been great to see how what he did in his Avengers books led directly into what he is doing now with Secret Wars, and how what he is doing now affects the future direction of Marvel Comics, their characters, and the fictional universe at large. Damn, its been so good!

I guess I should say that I will probably have spoilers from here on out.

kneel-before-doom-bf599Marvel is making some big changes and updates to their whole line of books. Its normal for comic publishers to do this from time to time because after a few years, a character’s storyline can become convoluted. The more support characters you add, and the more writers you get working on those characters, the more convoluted it can become. Then trying to merge all of these characters into one common universe that might have hundreds of creative people working on and developing each month… well, I expect that can be hard to manage. One way that writers sometimes avoid creating problems and inconsistencies in these characters is to place them into a new and alternate fictional universe. Related to the original, but slightly and intentionally different. An alternate universe where the writer can explore new ideas without having to worry about how it’ll affect everything else their comic book publisher might be putting out or the long history that has come before. Over time, this can become convoluted and confusing too. Up until Jonathan Hickman’s work on the New Avengers, Marvel had an almost infinite number of these universes. It was what came to be known as the Marvel multiverse.

In the New Avengers, Hickman began to destroy that multiverse. In New Avengers story, these different universes started to overlap and sort of phase together until they destroyed one another. There were ways to save each separate universe, but not without destroying the overlapping alternate earth.

Like I said, spoilers…

With only a handful of worlds and universes left, it is discovered that a race of god-like beings called the Beyonders are responsible for the destruction of the multiverse. A number of different Marvel characters confront the Beyonders trying to stop them and, although most of them fail and are killed off, in the end the Beyonders are stopped by Doctor Strange, Molecule Man, and Doctor Doom.

secretwars2This final battle ends up destroying the multiverse, but also allows Doctor Doom to steal the Beyonders power. With that power, Doom is able to salvage and save pieces of those final alternate earths and creates a new earth out of them called Battleworld, with Doctor Doom becoming a sort of demiurge god.

The surviving pieces of these alternate earths each have different rules and rulership. Because they each come from alternate universes, you might see multiple versions of individual Marvel characters you’ve known over the years. For instance, there is a whole geographical location pieced from the Marvel Zombie universe, with its own Spider-man, Iron Man, and Hulk. The Marvel Zombies might be next to a chunk from the world Planet Hulk (a.k.a. Greenland). And the overall Battleworld is policed by the Thor Corp, an army of alternate versions of Thor. Maybe it just sounds too strange, and maybe I just think it because I grew up reading Marvel comics, but it is really cool and well done.

Very highly recommended!

This Secret Wars shake-up is only half-way through right now, but will culminate sometime in the fall. I don’t know how the Marvel universe will look once it is done, but we can already see hints in their newest marketing. One thing that is sure, the X-men and mutants in general will play a much smaller role going forward. And so will the Fantastic Four. Probably because Marvel sold their movie rights years ago and can’t get them back, so now they are downplaying them in the comics. Corporate decisions, who knows…? Like I say, I don’t know how the rest will play out, but if the last few years are any indication, it’ll still be pretty damn cool!

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OriginalSecretWarsCoverThe first Secret Wars was a Marvel event that happened in the 80s when I was a kid. In that event, specific Marvel heroes were snatched up and teleported to another Battleworld created by a child Beyonder. I loved that book so much as a kid, although now it is hard to read and not nearly as enjoyable as an adult. Still, this 2015 Secret Wars event is a sort of homage to that older event, and that’s cool…

Geek out!

The Vision

Vision

I’m so far behind on my comic book reading it ain’t even funny! I have kept up with the newest comic-book related TV shows like Daredevil (excellent!), and The Flash (also excellent!) along with these great Marvel movies. I haven’t quite seen it yet, but with The Avengers just being released, along with free-comic-book day and all I guess I’d just quickly post my second favorite Avenger. Thor always tops the list but, although I cannot explain why, The Vision has always taken the second spot.

Nerdy nerdy, geek out!

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Safari Honeymoon

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Safari-Honeymoon_4I recently read a comic that I have been thinking a lot about. Its called Safari Honeymoon by Jesse Jacobs, and its among the best that I have read for a long while.

The fine folks over at 11 O’clock Comics recommended it on their podcast a few weeks back, and I decided get a copy. Especially when I saw the artwork, which is pretty straight forward line work and fields of color. Simple colors. Black, white and shades of green… and those colors and shapes really helped make the story even more powerful.

Maybe these are spoilers (I don’t mind spoilers and its hard for me to tell for sure) so if you’re sensitive to that sort of thing then maybe don’t read any further, just pick up the book :) Anyway, this is kind of a reverse Garden of Eden story. Instead of the man and woman being thrust out of a garden paradise, the couple in this book leave the complexity of the modern world and go back into nature.

But the nature they return to for their Safari Honeymoon is pretty damn brutal and threatening. Maybe it was written that way to illustrate how the modern mind tends to see nature as a threatening place? Of course nature can be a wild and threatening for sure, but in Honeymoon Safari, every leaf will poison, every animal will attack, even the air is filled with bacteria that will possess and control the mind and body of its host. This exists in nature, but because it is so apparent in Safari Honeymoon, it really enhances the point of the story.

Not a big deal but I’ll admit, and probably silly to even mention since “safari” is part of the title, but that sorta brutality did kinda bug me. Even though it is cartoon-ie and all, the guns and violence kinda bothered me. Even though the animals and plants are weird geometric shapes for the most part, I still liked them and they had personality. I didn’t want them to get shot, even if they were ready to eat or poison the peeps. But the cartoon violence was necessary and also enhanced the point of the story. And they are on safari so I guess that is part of it… plus it was also nice to see the modern Adam & Eve leave civilization behind and go back to this strange Garden.

A little side tangent, but something I was thinking on after I finished the book… Its pretty obvious that nature feeds on itself in order to survive. Animals (including people) feed on other animals. Plants and bugs feed on the corpse that is left behind. Rocks, rivers and wind grind it all into dust. And that dust feeds the plants, which feed the animals. I understand all this, and even see it as beautiful. But I chose to become a vegetarian a long time ago because I do think it is ugly how far our modern culture has taken it. Or how far removed from it we are is probably a better way of saying it. At this point, seems to me, we usually live outside of that natural cycle. I do think it is natural for people to eat meat, but I don’t think the way we farm it is correct or ethical at all, which is probably the main reason why I became a vegetarian. Now, I know being vegetarian doesn’t let me off the hook at all. I’m sure there are many other beliefs and behaviors I maintain just because I was trained to think they are okay due to the social contract I was born into. Anyway, even with my diet I could also do more and only eat renewable fruits and leafy plants. Maybe I could become a master yogi and survive on air. But truth is, I am pretty happy with my diet and choices. I’m at peace with them. And at least I’m not eating anonymous and (way way way too often) mistreated animals. Probably sounds funny, but the way nature was portrayed in this book made me reflect on my choice to become a vegetarian. And upon reflection, I still think it was and is the right choice for me.

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The Flash

Flash

This post is dedicated to Finn and Jake, because I saw so much of them this weekend in downtown Salt Lake among all of the other comic-book fans crawling around the city. I just think they may be the ones who appreciate and understand why I have my Flash tattoos.

When I was a kid of about 9 or 10, I liked to run everywhere. I imagined I was fast as hell too. It didn’t last forever (ha!), but yeah, I loved to run. My family lived in Taipei back then, and partly because that was (and is) a very populated and dense place I imagined that the crowds of people were amazed at how fast I was going… but I knew I had lives to save (and taxis to get run over by, but that is another story…)

I also loved comic books back then, and the Flash was the perfect hero to satisfy both of my interests. I mean, I’d make costumes for all sorts of heroes out of paper-bags, but I loved the Flash so much that my mom actually had a seamstress make me my very own orange Flash outfit (pictured above).

As I got older the Flash just became a fond memory, and I had to retire and put away the costume. Years later, when I was in my mid-to-late 20s, my mom had the costume framed (also pictured above) and gave it to me for Christmas. Made me very happy, and I hae had it hanging on my wall ever since. Even though time has turned me into the slowest man alive to be sure, I may need to come out of retirement someday and that costume’ll come in handy.

Anyway, over time I came to understand that I needed to get a Flash tattoo to commemorate these fond memories. It wasn’t until just a couple of years ago, but I finally had the Flash flash put on my left ankle by the lovely Sarah De Azevedo of Oni Tattoo. But I wasn’t quite done yet, because I wanted to celebrate Flash dualism by getting the Black Flash chasing the Flash around my ankle. There probably isn’t room for Professor Zoom or Golden Age Flash Jay Garrick

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The Celestials

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The Celestials

Celestial Gardener

Celestial Gardener

So, I mentioned in my post a few days ago that I was heading out soon to see Groot & Co. in their movie debut, Guardians of the Galaxy. Such a great movie, and I keep thinking about it…

I guess I should say that this here post may contain spoilers. Its hard for me to tell for sure what others might consider spoilers, because I kinda like it when people spoil movies. Ha! Weird, I’m sure, but true.

Anyway, what I have been thinking about the most is The Celestials. Although their appearance in the film was short but sweet, it was so damn good to see them there, and something I never expected. I never thought I’d see one of Marvel’s Celestials in a movie.

Knowhere

Knowhere

I was probably first introduced to The Celestials way back in Thor 300. I think I’ve written about it before, but I love that comic so much I’ve had it since I was 9 or 10, and the Celestials are a big reason why. I may have lost pretty much every other comic I’ve ever owned, but I still have Thor 300. It was probably that comic that introduced me to all of Marvel Cosmic, and I’ve loved it all ever since.

Although I think they are being used a bit more in modern Marvel titles, when I was growing up seeing a Celestial was kind of like seeing Bigfoot or something. It was very rare and pretty special.

2213199-combine003Probably my very favorite Celestial related comic series though would be Earth X. Again, spoilers (on a 15+ year old book) but the idea put forward there was fantastic. Galactus comes to devour and destroy the earth because it is a Celestial egg and Galactus wants to destroy the threat before it is hatched. Although it wasn’t part of the Earth X story, I also loved how the Celestials basically were what started life on earth, according to their mythology. And they would come back every few hundred thousand years to check on earth’s progress and evolution. Cool stuff to blow my pre-teenage mind, ha!

Anyway, I just wanted to write about how happy I was to see the Celestial movie stars

 

Marvel Cosmic

Marvel Cosmic

The Destroyer VS. The Celestials

The Destroyer VS. The Celestials

Galactus VS Celestial

Galactus VS Celestial

Thor VS Celestial

Thor VS Celestial

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I am Groot!

"Oak Tree" - David Inshaw

“Oak Tree” – by David Inshaw

Off to see Groot and Company later today. Trees are such good buddies!

"Landscape with Two Figures" - by Pablo Picasso

“Landscape with Two Figures” – by Pablo Picasso

Egyptianizing figures on either side of a tree with a winged disk - 8th–7th century b.c. Neo–Assyrian Mesopotamia, Nimrud

Egyptianizing figures on either side of a tree with a winged disk – 8th–7th century b.c. Neo–Assyrian Mesopotamia, Nimrud

"The Druid's Grove- Norbury Park Ancient Yew Trees" by Thomas Allom

“The Druid’s Grove- Norbury Park Ancient Yew Trees” by Thomas Allom

Tree of Life

Tree of Life

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by Piero Ciafferi

by Piero Ciafferi

"Three Figures Under a Tree" by Pablo Picasso

“Three Figures Under a Tree” by Pablo Picasso

"Alchemy Tree"

“Alchemy Tree”

"Adam and Eve standing on either side of the tree of knowledge with the serpent" by Albrecht Dürer

“Adam and Eve standing on either side of the tree of knowledge with the serpent” by Albrecht Dürer

"Grey Tree" by Piet Mondrian

“Grey Tree” by Piet Mondrian

"I am Groot?"

“I am Groot?”