Monday, March 28, 2016

Lost Character: American Eagle

Bad ass and modern!
For many years, Jason Strongbow, the American Eagle, wasn’t much more to me than a generic Marvel Universe Handbook entry. With his somewhat generic and possibly insulting costume, there really wasn’t anything there to make him a fan favorite character.

That all changed when Warren Ellis wrote him in Thunderbolts during the Civil War crossover. Suddenly, the Eagle’s boosted strength, speed, and limited invulnerability seemed AWESOME. If you have not read it, seek out Thunderbolts #115. It is an excellent issue with multiple cheer-out-loud moments. The upsetting thing is after this star-making performance thanks to Ellis, the American Eagle has done relatively little since. It is a pity; American Eagle has the potential to be one of the most popular Native American characters in comics.




Not a bad costume, but it might be offensive.
The original costume had its problems, but the updated look is simple and bad ass. With a modified motorcycle helmet and leather jacket, the new suit is less “super” but way cooler. This would be easy for cosplay, although the lack of a clear symbol might make the suit a bit hard to recognize.


American Eagle is still alive, and I believe still serving as a police officer on his reservation. That limits his long-distance storylines a bit, but as a guest star he’d be wonderful. A status quo change (maybe making him an FBI or SHIELD agent) would give him the opportunity to be a world-wide hero.

With an origin involving rare isotopes and Klaw’s sound beams, I think morphing American Eagle into an Inhuman would be easily retconned.

Costume: Lack of a symbol hurts a bit (+15)
Power Set: Fairly generic tough guy (+15)
Importance of Death: Still alive (+20)
Really an Inhuman?; Easily Retconned (+20)
Cosplay Chances: The helmet would the hardest part (+15)


Return Total: 85
One of my all-time favorite comic fights. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Lost Character: Clea

That is a pretty sweet costume. 
Let’s take a look at Clea, one of the top sorcerers of the Marvel Universe and Dr. Strange’s main squeeze.

Clea was Dr. Strange’s student and eventual wife, giving her lots of valuable historical ties to important parts of the Marvel universe. She is basically another spell caster like Strange; magic users have vague enough powers that there is plenty of potential for variety and innovation. She has appeared in a ton of comics over the years, including whole runs where she was a supporting character. With Scarlet Witch currently starring in magic-based book, she could pop up there pretty easily. The most natural spot for a return is in the main Dr. Strange title, of course.

Her costume could be more dynamic, as the purple swimsuit over leggings is not very exciting. Some artists have given her some nice additional flair that jazzes it up though. Leggings, shoulder pads, pouches and body armor could all make her more unique looking. She’s also sported a cape on some occasions, which never hurts.




She can do anything Dr. Strange can do!



Clea actually isn’t dead, but is currently leading the resistance in the Dark Dimension against Dormammu. A clear opportunity for future stories!

Clea’s costume would be fairly easy to create and could be as racy or conservative as the cosplayer desired. With her white hair she could be easily recognizable as well. In fact, there was a Clea cosplayer at C2E2 this year!

Costume: Inoffensive (+15 points)
Power Set: Lots of Potential (+20 points)
Importance of Death: Still Alive! (+20 points)
Really an Inhuman?: Would be hard to retcon (0 points)
Cosplay Chances: Good (+20 points)


Return Total: +75

Good enough for Spidey? Good enough for me!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Lost Character: Orka

The killer whale who walks like a man!
Let’s start off with the big man himself. Orka.

Orka is a genetically engineered Atlantean warrior who got his power boost to better fight Namor the Sub-Mariner. I remember him best from his short battle with the Heroes for Hire in the late 90’s when he was pummeling Luke Cage. Cage responds with something like, “Christmas, that man punches like a howitzer!” Anyone who garners that reaction from Luke Cage must have potential.

Now, it seems that Orka died in Heroes for Hire #8 in 2007. He’s remained dead since that time. After going and researching his death thanks to Marvel Unlimited, I will judge that this does seem to be a fairly definitive death. But he was killed by the Headmen! That can't stick. And c'mon, he's a whale man! Surely some healing powers make sense...

You can’t tell me that in this Blackfish-aware world that there isn’t a more prominent place for Orka in the Marvel universe. As an environmentally-focused villain or simply as hired muscle, Orka’s design and power level make him perfect for a return.

More people need to punch like howitzers.
Cosplaying as Orka would require body paint and a big physique, putting it outside the realm of possibility for many cosplayers.


Costume: Great costume. (+20 points)
Power Set: Generic super-strength and swimming kind of hurt. (5 points)
Importance of Death: Quite inconsequential (+20 points)
Really an Inhuman?: Definitely (+20 points)
Cosplay Chances: Poor (0 points)


Return Total: 65/100


The muted colors don't pop as nicely as his original design. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Lost Character: DC Comics

I'm going to avoid being too snarky and say something like "I really miss this guy!"

(Don't worry, I'll do DC characters too.)

Remember him?

Digging Up Lost Characters with the Energy Analyzer


The Prowler appearing in Amazing Spider-Man!

Sometimes, Energy Analyzers rediscover lost treasure.


We are in a golden age for lower tier characters from Marvel and DC comics. When I was a kid, one of my favorite things about the greater comic universe was the endless depth chart when it came to guest stars and villains.

These days we have D-Man appearing in Captain America: Sam Wilson. We have Cassie Lang taking on the name of Stinger in Ant-Man (along with Grizzly and Machinesmith!). We have Gilgamesh appearing in Hercules. Doctor Druid, Modred the Mystic, and Thundra are getting quality airtime in Squadron Supreme. Heck, James Robinson even used Sleepwalker in his recent Fantastic Four run! I’m sad to announce that my fave Black Knight’s book was recently cancelled, but at least he headlined for a few months.

(I will say that while I enjoy seeing Gilgamesh appearing in Hercules’ current book, I really miss the fantastic redesign that Daniel Acuna used in the most recent Eternals series.)

Look at Deadpool’s Mercs for Money; it has Stingray, Terror, Foolkiller and more. And Nightwatch was a big part of the recent She-Hulk series. Talk about obscure…

Since every character is just a spit-and-polish away from being an interesting supporting character or possible lead, I’m going to point out some characters that haven’t been used for years and years. I’m going to try to avoid folks who appeared in recent storylines, even if I miss them greatly. Folks like Richard Rider/Nova and Darkhawk fall into this category.

Gilgamesh's short-lived costume.
I’ll lead off my character profiles by making some observations about the characters Costume and Power Set. Unique costumes and great powers will earn more points than generic abilities and boring looks. Characters like D-Man and Amazing Spider-Man’s Prowler prove how easy it is to revamp a character’s look for modern sensibilities. I LOVE that Prowler redesign!

Take note, I will also not let myself be dissuaded by little problems like the character being dead. Comic companies forget who is alive or dead on a constant basis. And if the character was killed off in a little-read book or so quietly that a big nerd like me missed it? Well then that character should pretty much be alive anyway, right? If the character is currently dead, I will decide on the Importance of Death. If no one read it, why should it “stick?” How many times has Grim Reaper been killed off only to show up with no comment? Take note, this will hurt dead characters like Nomad or Black Goliath, who died during widely read runs or crossovers.

D-Man triumphant!

For Marvel characters, I’ll also make a judgment on how easily the characters’ origin could be rewritten to find out if he or she is Really an Inhuman. With inhumans overtaking mutants as the focus of the line, the difference between languishing in obscurity and a triumphant return might come down to whether or not Marvel can retcon the character’s genes!

Finally, we all see that Cosplay Potential is an important part of any character’s popularity these days. Gwenpool, Gwenom, and more are all actual characters basically because of cosplay. So how likely are people to latch onto this forgotten character as a con feature?







The final categories for judging the characters return will be the following. Each category can earn the character up to 20 points towards his or her Return Potential.
Costume:
Power Set:
Importance of Death:
Really an Inhuman?:
Cosplay Changes:

So follow @MrTimbotron on Twitter as I’ll be posting new characters along with a few thoughts as I find them. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

12 Days of X-Mas: Uncanny X-Men #330 (1996)

Now this is some Ninja Scroll anime action! Dressed like characters in a film, Archangel and Wolverine team up with Gomurr the Ancient and Dr. Strange to obtain a sip of the Crimson Dawn. The one mystical medicine that could save Psylocke before she dies of her Sabretooth-inflicted wounds.

And let me just point out, I find it hilarious that Psylocke is all bandaged back at the X-Mansion with only her face and a large swath of cleavage left exposed. Just like the real doctors do! Ha!

Her rescuers fight their way through an assortment of mystical type bad guys, including the well-named Undercloaks. They are another set of generic bad guys, but they look a lot cooler than the mist men from last issue. The heroes also face the odd Tar, who seems pretty petty and vindictive for a super-powerful mystic deity. He zaps Gomurr just because he's lonely.

In the end, Dr. Strange somehow pulls a Psylocke min-fig out of Archangel's heart and plunges it into the Crimson Dawn. This representation of their love allows Psylocke to survive in a burst of mystical energy. Not sure how that works, but at least it wrapped up in two issues!

One weird thing is the way Wolverine constantly calls Archangel "kid." I mean, I guess it makes sense chronologically, but Angel has been around a lot longer than Logan. I don't think of Archangel as an inexperienced hero. I am enjoying the slow degradation of Archangel's metal wings. This is leading up to my favorite incarnation of Angel, the one with faint blue skin, blonde hair, and feathered wings. It seemed like the best of both worlds in the '90's and it still does now.

I hope you've enjoyed this year's 12 Days of X-Mas, I know I did. For all the hate that Scott Lobdell gets these days, these old X-Men issues are very readable. They aren't all classics, but they have well-laid subplots, decent action, good guest stars and an interesting mix of villains. Classic foes like Juggernaut and Sabretooth show up interspersed with folks like the Gene Nation and Tar. This isn't exactly a golden age of the best X-Men comics ever, but overall, they have been

GOOD

Monday, January 4, 2016

12 Days of X-Mas: Uncanny X-Men #329 (1996)

Now let's start the review of Ninja Scroll #1! Oops, that actually probably starts a little more obviously next issue, but it sure is clear what Joe Madureira likes to draw. His manga influence is clear, but this is the story where he really gets to indulge it. With Psylocke on the verge of death back at the X-Mansion, Archangel and Wolverine head out to Little Asia to find more mystical help. They end up fighting some generic photoshop smoke ninjas. The poor quality of the photoshop really pulled me out of the comic, making it hard to get through. I don't remember having this problem when I first read the comic, but tricks like this don't age well. Putting Dr. Strange floating in front of an actual picture of New York City just looks distracting, not cool or realistic.

As always, though, Mad excels when drawing the costumed heroes. Archangel and Wolverine look great, even when rocking street clothes. Dr. Strange's big scarf look is well done too.

Scott Lobdell is joined by Jeph Loeb for this arc, and I wish I could say it helped. But there is the same stilted, purple dialogue that can be extremely hard to get through. After all, when the Mandarin changed Psylocke into a ninja, she came back as "something more. And something less." Ugh.

The other thing I noticed in this issue is how overpowering the caption boxes became. This is almost Chris Claremont levels of text crowding each panel. Trust the artist to tell the story, man! Joe Mad can handle it!

I had fond memories of this issue, but on re-reading it, I don't think it quite held up to my memories. The awful photoshop smoke warrior and the captions made it a lot harder to lose myself in the action than some of my other X-Mas reads.

Fair