Monday, August 18, 2014

Movie review: Guardians of the Galaxy

I recently had the pleasure of seeing Marvel’s most recent cinematic release, Guardians of the Galaxy. I must say, this is one excellent movie!  It’s a certified hit for Marvel, and there’s a good reason: it’s a wonderfully fun movie!  The action, the characters, the effect, and everything else is best described as FUN!
I’m not sure where to start to review this movie without spoiling everything, but I’ll try to be light on the details since I want everyone to enjoy the fun surprises the first time they see the movie, and yet still be able to enjoy my write-up, and maybe my opinion will convince some people on the fence to go to the theater to see Guardians. So, I think I’ll discuss the main characters:

Peter Quill/Star Lord is the only human member of the Guardians.  He was kidnapped by aliens as a child and grew up in space, becoming a sort of pirate, operating a little outside interstellar law to make a living, yet not being a bloodthirsty hardened criminal. He also has a tape of Earth music he loves to listen to in his spacecraft.  Peter lets us human viewers identify with someone quickly and appreciate the challenges he faces and his successes.

Movie poster-note the cool shadows!
Gamora is the only female member of the Guardians, but she is genetically modified to be far superior to our human lead.  She is tough and dedicated, and provides a love interest for our lead.  She also has a tragic past she’s trying to overcome.  But so do the rest of the gang. She’s interesting, but not as much as the others.

Drax is the big, tough guy.  This guy is a killer, and not a very smart one.  He’s probably the most one-dimensional of the Guardians, but it works wonderfully for him.

Rocket is a genetically constructed and cybernetic enhanced raccoon-like creature. He’s got a lot of attitude, and he’s an electronics whiz.  From what I’ve read online, he’s a standout favorite among the group.  I admit he’s really fun, and much deeper in character than he first appears.  I think he shows the most character growth over the course of the movie.

Groot is a living tree who only says “I am Groot.” And he’s the most lovable of the characters, as you can easily sense his feelings.

Long ago Star Lord was drawn by my favorite comic artist, John Byrne!

And there are lots of other characters who are very well written and portrayed. But you’ll have to see the movie yourself to find out about them!  Then you can write your own Bloggy or comment about them below!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Na-Nu Na-Nu

I wanted to say something about the death of Robin Williams, a great actor and comedian whom I have loved for a long time.  I’m not sure what I can say about him that hasn’t been said or isn’t known or easy to find out.  So I thought I’d share a silly story.

When I was in grade school, I wanted to be Mork from Ork.  So much so that when I was in one of the school musicals, before taking a bow at the end of the show, I put my hands behind my ears in imitation of Mork’s sign-off Na-Nu, Na-Nu gesture. I had forgotten this until someone reminded me in High School, but the memory came to me today and I felt like writing it here.

Thanks for all the great times, Mr. Williams!  I’ll miss you.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Bill Mantlo

Bill Mantlo is one of the comic book writers who shaped my love for the medium. He has recently gotten some attention as the co-creator of Rocket Raccoon, a character in the Marvel movie Guardians of the Galaxy.  Bill wrote many Marvel comics in the ‘70s and 80’s, and I can’t even begin to list them all here.  At times, it seemed like he was writing everyone, and I believe he probably wrote comics that included every active Marvel hero at that time.

Personally, I own a large part of Mantlo’s long run on the Hulk, as well as much of his Rom.  I also have every issue of the Micronauts that Mantlo wrote, some of which took me a while to hunt down!  I talked a while ago about my love for the Micronauts (here).  Mantlo wrote a Marvel Team-Up story, with Spider-Man, the Hulk, and Woodgod, that was one of the first 3 Marvel comics I ever read. (Got them in a 3-pack.) He also wrote Avengers Annual #9, in which the team fights a foe that comes from their own basement!  That Avengers’ annual was absolutely excellent, and was my favorite comic for years.

I have to admit that I didn't read the Rocket Raccoon stories that Mantlo wrote, though I remember when the character debuted. I’ll have to rectify that and find them somehow soon.  Anyway, I wanted to write my little tribute to Mr. Mantlo and wish him well.  I know he’s been residing in a Healthcare facility since a horrible hit-and-run accident left him with permanent disabling injuries. One of the recent stories about him is his reported enjoyment after seeing a special private viewing of Guardians of the Galaxy.  I hope it made him as happy as his work made me over the years.

Thank you Bill!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Review: The Brotherband Chronicles with a sketch

I’m working on a drawing of a Viking warrior, or at least the fantasy equivalent of a Viking.  My inspiration for drawing a Viking was my recent reading of the Brotherband Chronicles, a trilogy of young reader novels by John Flanagan that is also a companion set to the popular Ranger’s Apprentice series. I really enjoyed the Ranger’s Apprentice series, but I admit to being hesitant to reading about the Skandians, Flanagan’s equivalent of the Vikings of lore.  The Brotherband is a group of young warriors who all have a quality that makes them atypical of the common young Viking.  Led by Hal, an amazing inventor who is an outcast because he is only half-Skandian, the group has amazing adventures that are fun to read.  I still like the main series better, but this is a nice spin-off and I hope there’s more of the Brotherband in the future.

As I said above, I am working on the Viking drawing. It’s still just pencil, and it has a long way to go.  But I’m having fun with it, and I’ll post another scan here when it’s done!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Black Widow: more drawing with commentary

The Black Widow has grown in popularity, at least among non-comic book readers, due to appearing in three of the recent Marvel movies, portrayed by Scarlet Johansson. It’s strange because there are plenty of other female Marvel heroes that are much more popular than the Widow.  The Black Widow from the comics has always been a nice character, though her origin is very tied to the Cold War.  She debuted as an Iron Man villain, eventually became a hero, a spy, a member of the now defunct Champions and leader of the Avengers! She has been romantically linked with Hawkeye, Daredevil, and even Bucky.

I like her black spy-suit look the best, and I prefer her other gadgets, such as her “widow’s bite” over a gun.  Overall, I’d say Natalia Romanov, the Black Widow, is one of Marvel’s best non-powered heroes!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Iron Man/Hulk drawing and commentary

One of the things I found most surprising about the first issue of the Avengers when I read it as part of the “Son of Origins” collection was the role of the Hulk.  In the preview, Stan Lee speaks of using Loki as a villain that could face a group of heroes.  But, in the story itself, Thor takes on Loki by himself while the rest of the team (Iron Man, Ant-Man, and the Wasp) fight…the Hulk!  Due to Loki’s trickery, everyone was, in fact, summoned to face the Hulk.  In the end, everyone is friends and the big green guy joins the group.  But just to show how little Bruce Banner’s alter ego fit in the team concept, he left at the end of issue two.  In issue four, he was replaced by Captain America, who tried to convince the Jade Giant to rejoin later in the teens or thereabouts. Therefore, despite being a founding member, the hulk has never hung around with the Avengers for long.

Which is why I drew this picture.  I think it shows the relationship between heroes such as Iron Man and the purple-pants wearing behemoth. You can’t be sure if Hulk will help you or smash you.  I guess you take the chance, because you definitely don’t want him fighting for the other side.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Art and Comment: Captain America & Bucky

I realize I haven’t posted anything on my blog here lately, so to make up for it today I thought I’d post some recent art I’ve been working on and comment on the characters or something. Maybe one new pic every day or two.

First up we have Captain America and his first sidekick, Bucky.  Bucky is a strange character to me.  Cap was created in a time when most adult heroes had teen sidekicks, and Joe Simon and Jack Kirby followed suit with Captain America, giving him a young protégé called Bucky.  Bucky was really Bucky Barnes, the company (Cap was in the army) mascot, who had inadvertently discovered Steve Rogers was really Captain America, and that led to him being trained to be Cap’s junior partner.  The funny thing is, while Cap had the Super Soldier Serum and an indestructible shield, Bucky just had a cool costume and a domino mask.  He really didn’t do much more than get captured, as shown on most of the early covers of Captain America Comics.  When Stan Lee brought Cap into the ’60 via suspended animation to join with the newly created Avengers, he revealed that Bucky had died during he and Cap’s last mission.

I think removing Bucky from the team was a good move, as him being alive didn’t add anything to Cap, but his death haunted Steve Rogers for years.  Bucky was mostly unknown when people like me started reading Avengers and Captain America comics in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and Captain America was one of Marvel’s greatest.  Still, I loved the rendition of Bucky and the old heroes in Roy Thomas’ Invaders comics in the’70s. Later, Bucky would return in a storyline that fans seemed to enjoy, but I still haven’t read.