Saturday, June 14, 2014

Thor Odinson Vs. Norrin Radd

It should come as no surprise to anyone who reads this blog, is an old friend, follows me on Tumblr/Twitter/Instagram or even knows me a little bit that I'm a HUGE geek. I fall into the mostly sci-fi geek tribe nowadays but my base is comic books, like I imagine many people who are also in this tribe. Hell, that was partially how I learned to read. We usually begin as those weird kids who know how Rogue got her basic powers beside power/personality absorption,(1) can tell you who was in the originals Defenders line-up,(2) can name the founding members of the original Legion of Super-Heroes as well as their benefactor(3) and can explain to you the complicated family tree of the Summers family.(4) We grow and get picked on sometimes and sometimes graduate to more mature geeky readings and movies and TV shows, like Lord of The Rings, BSG and The X-Files. Us old geeks were geeky before it was cool to be geeky. We took those early blows so that you gals and guys could be comfortable in your geeky skins now.

You're welcome.

The person I need to thank who helped me (and therefore you neo-geeks) on this geeky path was my father. He showed me the Star Wars trilogy reinforcing the Hero's Journey, praised EightMan and gave me that early taste of anime and loudly talked throughout the premiere of Jurassic Park with the accompanying laughter of a surprisingly predominately Caucasian audience. He did all of this but most importantly he introduced me to comic books. He was an artist and comic books were an art form that could be enjoyed by a wide age-range. It encompassed ALL the possible stories that could be told by mankind, like all good science fiction. From a nerdy teen from Queens who got powers from a radioactive arachnid to a family of explorers fighting a mystical/technological Eastern European dictator to tales of soldiers in Vietnam to humanity fighting aliens in the far future for survival, comic books had it all. We loved them all but our favorites usually came from the Marvel vaults.

My father's favorite was The Mighty Thor. It was Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and The King, Jack Kirby himself, at their most operatic and most bombastic. Many other writers followed but I think the Walter Simonson run was his favorite. It captured the original Journey Into Mystery feel with more flair. It was a story of generations and space gods doing battle with other gods and monsters.

I was meh about the whole thing. Thor was a product of the 1960s to the weird 1980s to me. He was a big, whiny, blonde guy who talked funny and had a hammer. Yes, he was mythic and could bring down great and terrible weather conditions but I already had Storm in the X-Men and she was a foxy Black woman so, there you go. I think my dad liked him because Thor was very much a part of the "epic hero saga." The Odinson's stories were about family issues at their heart and having companions that were fated to play roles until Ragnarök took them all. I think the destiny thing worked for my dad because the actual life people live is not written out by the universe for us. There is comfort in that story, even if your fate is to fall in Ragnarök after defeating the Midgard Serpent Jörmungandr, who ultimately poisons you. It is a doomed end but it is also a noble and heroic one. A "manly end."

I could take or leave this big, flaxen haired warrior when I was younger but dad introduced me to another Lee/Kirby creation. An argent agent of a massive purple humanoid force of nature. The herald of the universal planet eater, Galactus. He was Norrin Radd of doomed Zenn-La, also known as the Silver Surfer.

Yes, he was also a bit whiny but I got his complaints. Thor was a child angry at his father with vast powers and some weird anger issues. The Silver Surfer had legitimate beefs. He was a smart dude yearning to explore on a planet of people that were very comfortable with their condition on an Utopian world. Despite this, he sacrificed his life and soul to save them and the woman he loved. He came to Earth and recognized the nobility of these aliens called humans that were very similar to him. He rebelled against his master, saved another planet of people and was rewarded by being trapped there. He complained a bit but he had adventures still and accepted his conditions with bravery and a stoic, at times, resolve. Plus, he "surfed" and I lived a block from the beach.

I understood this dude.

I liked this dude.

You know who I'm rooting for here, folks.

Norrin was a loner with a broken heart looking for other weirdos who understood him. He was a traveler, always looking for the next lesson, the next adventure. He rebelled against authority. All of these qualities oddly got to me when I was a young kid, before anything similar happened to me.(5) And he kept evolving. He eventually got off of Earth and had crazy space adventures and fought mad gods and teamed up with the angry duo of The Hulk and Namor, who I still say is the dickiest of all characters except maybe Black Adam. They even have similar dickish haircuts but let's move on.


Looking back, maybe the reasons why my dad gravitated to this Nordic space god and I went for the silver rider of cosmic waves were simple. All of the time he was with us dad had family that wasn't really family. I was introduced to people my father grew up with, all his friends. People he loved and treated as family but weren't blood. His family wasn't around or he didn't connect with them or vice versa. I didn't meet any of my father's family until his funeral last month. He has one sibling, a brother, that I've never seen or met but my father would always say that "Sean, you are exactly like him. I had my brother's child." He picked his family and  created his family from his friends and his children that he raised to varying degree. Maybe Thor being pretty much a family saga called out to something deep in his psyche and soul. That feeling of being connected by fate, destiny and blood that he was missing.

All related.

And if that was the case, maybe the opposite was why I liked the Silver Surfer so much. I have a TON of family. Always have and they have, usually, been near or around me. My cousins have lived in the same house as me at a few points or down the street or a couple of blocks away. I've always had an uncle living in the same house with me; I have one doing so right now. My grandmother always lived above me. My younger brother and I are usually in close proximity to each other and my oldest sibling always used to come by and forced me to not sleep in my own bed when I was little. My life has always been lousy with family. (6)

But even with all this family, I've felt alone many times. Not lonely but alone. I've always searched out for more people like me, who shared similar likes and dislikes. My family is filled with smart people but I was always the geeky, weird guy reading the encyclopedia in the empty bathtub. I was the non-fighter of my siblings. The well behaved one. The one who would go down this already prescribed path to success.

I wanted out.

I liked to go exploring. I tried different things. I was the guy who would hop on a plane to try somewhere new or go for a visit to a friend nowhere near me. (7) My sister and her family moving around helped me to scratch my new place itch at times. I moved out to Vegas.

I also loved being around my new like-minded and mostly geeky or nerdy friends. But, I also liked being alone. Going for walks by myself. Sitting at the beach, solo. Exploring the church on campus. Maybe it because I didn't always fit in with my friends either. They seemed more sure of themselves. They were/are certainly cooler than me. I would and still get into my "Sean needs to be alone" moments.

I was Norrin Radd. (8)

Mr. Solo Dolo.
Maybe I'm reading too much into our preferences on who was the better character in these old funny books. I'm no psychologist. I think I might be partially correct about my dad and I feel pretty confident that I'm 90% right about my own self-diagnosis.

Yeah, this seems right.
Either way, I owe that DAD guy a lot. Not just for half my DNA but for the love of this geeky life he gave me. He provided the foundation to build on. I wasn't always his fan and we didn't always see eye to eye on certain things, comic book characters being one of those things, but I always loved the man. That love was expressed in our discussions about who would win in a fight or which characters had the best story arcs or why he loved Lord of the Rings so much and, as he got sicker, what was going on in the universes of four color heroes. It was how we connected, like the way he connected with my other siblings through talking about their kids, or boxing or basketball. Me and my father had comic books, geeky movies, drawing things and the whole landscape of science fiction. 

So far, at least in the movie world, his guy is beating my guy. I like the cinematic Thor WAY more than the Silver Surfer in the Fantastic Four movies. But, I'm not giving up on my guy yet. Maybe someone will do my guy justice. Maybe I'll do him justice because that might be the most important thing I got from my father- a belief that anything was possible. 

Tales could be created and you could bring things into existence if you put enough effort into creating characters, ideas and concepts that people could relate to and adopt for themselves. Thor or Silver Surfer, if you could get behind them as more than characters, could become real in your world. You could give them life like the masters that did it before you.

My father created life through me and his other kids and their kids. He touched the life of his wife in immeasurable ways. He was a beloved man by his friends and co-workers and pretty much anyone that encountered him. He might not have realized all his dreams but he is certainly inspiring me right now to go after mine. I'll always love him for that.

Thanks, Dad. I won't bust Thor's chops (too much) anymore, for you. Maybe we'll meet again, pass the rainbow bridge Bifrost and Heimdall's all-seeing eyes in Valhalla, in eternal Asgard. (9)

I can imagine it. I owe you that.

(1) She absorbed Carol Danvers powers AKA Ms. Marvel, who is now Captain Marvel and got her powers from a Kree device and took her name from Mar-Vell, also know as Capt. Marvel. Ms. Marvel is now Kamala Khan.
(2) Dr. Strange, Namor and the Hulk. Some people often include Silver Surfer but he wasn't in the original mission versus The Nameless One and The Undying Ones.
(3) Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl and Lightning Boy(Lad). I guess you can include Superboy in there if you want. They were financed by RJ Brande.
(4) Do you have a few hours and a whiteboard?
(5) Well, maybe I was always a loner looking for "my people" but definitely no real heartbreak then. That didn't happen until like 6th grade when I was old and experienced.
(6) I mean "lousy" in the best way, guys. I love you all.
(7) Living on the last stop on the A train helped with that as well.
(8) I might still be Norrin Radd. I dunno.
(9) And Heimdall is a Black dude in our version too.

Friday, June 13, 2014


I apologize. I've been sitting on this one for awhile (as well as this blog) for a variety of excuses...

WW by Nathan Fox
So, DC is making a Superman Vs. Batman movie. Actually, apparently, they are making a gang of films a la the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As a geek I should be happy about this. I am a Marvel fan more than I'm a DC fan if we are getting into a discussion of the Big Two but I still can see how this could be potentially awesome. I mean, DC's Animated Universe is great and I usually enjoy whenever they put out animated content. Content like this which will relate to the rest of this post. And I LOVED Nolan's Batman trilogy and really enjoyed Man of Steel, even though it felt more like a Dragonball Z origin flick at times over a Superman movie.

I even have little to no problem with most of the casting at this point. I liked Cavill as Superman, Affleck will probably be a good older Bats and, although I was wary at first, I think Gal Gadot has the ability to pull off a decent Wonder Woman.* She's been working out, she is familiar with stunts from the Fast &Furious franchise films and her accent could be great to help portray Diana's foreign origins. Hell, maybe Jesse Eisenberg could pull off a good and fresh new version of Lex, like Ledger did with the Joker.**Plus, Momoa as Aquaman? Yeah. I'm with that.

Something says he can pull it off.
Sure DC has had hiccups (I'm looking at you Green Lantern) but if done correctly, I believe they can put out good movies like Marvel.

My fear is they won't.

Just looking at how they are planning on releasing these films worries me. Shazam before Wonder Woman? Really? If the plan is to build a good Justice League film, you start with the base- The Trinity. You put out at least one kick-ass Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman film. You don't build a house with some foundation and throw on an attic piece without making sure the footings are right. (Sorry, been watching a lot of Holmes Inspection lately)

And this is not a piece on how I care deeply about Wonder Woman or that she is my favorite character. She's not. That's Spider-Man. She's not my favorite DC character. That's Power Girl She's not even my favorite (and I hate this qualifier) female character in either Big Two universe. That's Dakota North.

But she is vital. Not even to just DC doing this right and it's history but to ALL comic book history. She might be the most popular female character out there and is definitely the most well known. Diana Prince is inspirational to many people, of both genders and all sexual orientations. She has been around since 1941. Seventy plus years, huge popularity and one of the core members of your main super team and you are putting her third after Shazam and Sandman? C'mon, son.

DC, do what you gotta do but I would have went a different way. My plan would be to tie the movies you already released together into one coherent plot or very close to it. I thought that was part of the plan and also to do things with some elements based on more realism, or as realistic as you can make films with the last remaining solar space god from an alien race.

But, let's say that's your plan and you want to get rid of as much of the myth and "made of clay" elements from Wonder Woman. Cool. Don't worry. I got you.

This won't be too deep but is a framework of how this would work in my head. We have to start with a prologue and this will tie Wonder Woman into Man of Steel a bit so bear with me. I'm basing this on the empty cryogenic pod in Man of Steel that Clark finds and the Man of Steel prequel comic book.

Prologue- In ancient Times ( less than 20,000 years ago)- A tribe of women are walking towards the Aegean Sea. There is an island there where many other women have already been shepherded and this is the last group to arrive. They are led by four sister, all daughters of a goddess/space alien. Their mother and their siblings are dead but are still worshiped as fallen heroes, gods and demigods among the primitive humans. These four sister are the last remaining members of their family but won't be the last of their line. They possess alien tech to start a new society on this island hidden behind an invisible shield. The island will be known one day as Themiscyra. The sisters are a Queen, a Keeper of Records, a Scientist/Priestess and a Warrior woman named Shim'Tar. The woman arrive at the shore and as they are sending off the final boat to the island, they are attacked by a gang of savage men. Most of the woman flee with Shim'Tar remaining to defend the boat and save some of the woman who will be left.*** The other women make it to Themiscyra and the shield protects and keeps them hidden for centuries.

Cue credits and opening logo. I would just title this movie AMAZON and be done with it but that's just me.

Six Months Ago- In the Amazon jungle, Barbara Ann Minerva is leading a rescue mission on behalf of Cale-Anderson Pharmaceuticals to locate a missing doctor and his team who were searching for new potential medicines. The doctor, Thomas Leavens, had heard rumor of a tribe that had access to special roots that gave them rapid healing abilities. Minerva arrives with her team to find the tribe slaughtered along with Leavens' team. They follow the trail of death to a hidden temple. Minerva's team is killed on the way inside. There she find Dr. Leavens, half naked and insane. He is standing before an altar to some ancient bestial god and is wounded and covered with blood. He rushes to attack Minerva.

Five Months Ago- Veronica Cale is the owner of Cale-Anderson Pharmaceuticals who has just acquired Cadmus Labs. She is entering her office with Dr. Dabney Donovan who is performing research on the pieces of Kryptonian debris from Metropolis. They enter the office and find Minerva sitting at Veronica's desk, with two robed figures beside her. Minerva says, with a crazy smile and a scratched and scarred face, "I have so much to tell you Veronica. We are going to change this world."

Present Day- Steve Trevor is an agent of the newly formed DEO or Department of Extranormal Operations, formed after the "Kryptonian incursion" and other occurrences of supernormal incidents. He is investigating reports of monsters off the shore of Greece. While he is waiting to hear back from headquarters he sees the beginning of a strange storm on the sea. Despite warnings from his director and the locals, Steve takes a boat to investigate. A humanoid  alien and a giant monster crash through Steve's boat in the midst of the storm causing it to begin to sink. He is rescued by a stranger on another boat who subdues the monster and saves the alien as well.

Steve wakes on the island of Themiscyra to the sounds of arguing. The stranger who rescued him is Princess Diana of the Amazons and she is fighting with her people about bringing outsiders to the island. Her mother Queen Hippolyta is listening to Diana's story and opposition from an Amazon named Aleka, Diana's chief rival on the island. Steve enters and is quickly subdued by an Amazon. Aleka argues that his life should be taken but Diana says she'll fight for his freedom. Cue big arena fight scene where Diana wins and Steve is allowed to live. He explains his mission and why he was in the area. Diana talks a bit about their history before they check on the alien she saved.  The alien is a dying female insect-like humanoid named Forager. Her last words before she passes are "Gods...god...war comes...he...brings....apocalypse."

An Amazonian council is assembled to decide what to do with this limited information. Some think it is the beginning of the end of the time of man, others think it is the return of the ancient god Ares but others believe that it is the start of another alien invasion. Steve says he has to report this to the DEO and see if he can get more information. Diana volunteers to go with him, for assistance and to keep the location of Themyscira secret. She is given armor, weapons and a communication device for her journey.

Meanwhile, back in the United States, Cadmus Labs is working on fine tuning their teleportation technology in DC. The two robed figures were ancient hibernating bestial aliens named Mokkari and Simyan, who were awoken by Leavens in his entry into the ancient temple. They are scientists with limited knowledge of this technology and great knowledge of genetic manipulation. They are assisting Minerva and crew with trying to open portals to their homeworld to bring their master, the God of War, to Earth. Minerva has had her body manipulated and is appearing more cheetah like in appearance and this worries Veronica but not enough to stop her and her pursuit of promised power and knowledge.

Diana and Steve arrive in Washington, DC at DEO headquarters. Etta Candy takes them in to see the head of DEO, Director Robert “Bones” Todd. He dresses Steve down but takes the information he has and has teams run down any new information they can get along with other sightings of strange creatures and "hell-like landscapes" appearing. 

While this is going on, the Cadmus crew has success and opens up a great hole to the God of War's homeworld. He arrives with a small army and lays out a plan of attack for the subjugation of Earth in the name of his father. Several of his soldiers have brought updated teleportation tech with them and they scatter to a few different spots to open teleportation tubes to unleash soldiers and beasts from this other world, including, Greece, Cairo, London, Metropolis and Gotham. The God of War says he will take Minerva and begin his strike in the capitol of America.
The hell gates begin to open. Diana is alerted to this in DEO headquarters. She informs her sisters back on the island who scatter to help out as they can. Diana and Steve have, meanwhile, seen a small force begin to attack locally led by what appears to be the God of War of myth, Ares. Diana springs into action, trailed by Trevor and a DEO security force.

Diana arrives but is attacked by Minerva, now totally transformed into Cheetah. They battle fiercely but she is no match for Amazonian strength. Meanwhile, Trevor and the DEO squad is taking it to the alien fighters but they are stopped by the God of War. Diana arrives and punches the helmet off the tall figure. She faces him and draws her sword. She says "Prepare to fall, God of War. Prepare to die, Ares." The figure stands and says  "Who is Ares? I am Grayven, the World Ender. I am the harbinger of Apokolips and the herald of Darkseid." He punches a stunned Diana across traffic. They fight. Eventually, Diana gains the upper hand but just before she is going to land the killing blow, Grayven activates a Boom Tube and he and his remaining forces teleport back to Apokolips.

Diana finds Steve and she receives a report from the Amazonian General Philippus that the Apokoliptian forces have been beaten wherever the Amazons encountered them. They weren't able to get to some places like Egypt and Gotham but Trevor gets reports that something stopped them there too. Diana says she is worried that this was just the beginning, a test and that true terror is on it's way.

There will be an epilogue scene where Diana and Steve meet the head of a newly formed division under DEO. This division focuses on superhumans and their potential for action in the future. They are monitoring reports of the Batman of Gotham, Superman and stories about a fast moving creature protecting Keystone City and a man sinking whaling ships off the coast of Japan. This division is headed by Amanda Waller with technical support by a young Victor Stone. The name of the the division is Advanced Research Group Uniting Super-Humans or ARGUS. They want Steve Trevor and the newly named Diana Prince to join the effort in case of any potential world threatening menaces.

So, there you have it. Diana Prince action movie, the beginnings of a future Justice League and the foreboding threat of Darkseid, an actual adversary to a team at the level of the Justice League. Plus, characters to maybe be revisited later, including a lost tribe of Amazons in Africa and whomever defended the cities the Amazons couldn't get to. I even have a list of characters who should be in this movie, even minor Amazonians.


Good luck, DC.

*In my head, I had envisioned Gina Carano, Jamie Alexander or, even as crazy as you might think, a Tamina Snuka as Diana of Themiscyra.
**If not, I'm gonna complain that they should have cast Michael Cera instead.
***This can be a leftover thread in case you need future Amazons or the Bana-Mighdall tribe, which settled in Egypt in the comic books.