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Top 10: Comic Book Headquarters by Jerry Whitworth

Posted by on May 7, 2012 in Comic Art News | 1 comment

Top 10: Comic Book Headquarters by Jerry Whitworth

While most heroes lack a secret place to hang their hat, those that have headquarters hold the keys to a collection of their triumphs and defeats with a space to improve their derring-do. Of course, as we will discover, heroes don’t hold an exclusive market on secret hideaways. I should note, I chose to ignore cities, planets, and countries like Latveria, Atlantis, Asgard, Attilan, Themyscira, and Oa out of personal preference.

Sanctum Sanctorum

Sanctum Sanctorum

10. SANCTUM SANCTORUM

Home to the Ancient One and his servant Wong, the Sanctum Sanctorum is an unassuming three-story townhouse in Greenwich Village marked by some arcane symbol in its loft window. The building would become headquarters to the Ancient One’s protege Dr. Strange, Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme, and his Defenders. When one walks inside, however, the space is significantly more expansive than the borders seen outside. A veritably labyrinth of hallways and rooms, the structure was built atop a focal point of mystical energies that shifts with certain rooms always in the same place and others change through the passage of time. Some notable features include an expansive living room and adjoining library, a meditation room, Wong’s storage cellar, a room exclusively for the Orb of Agomotto, and a small courtyard.

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Top 10 Justice League Members

Posted by on Jul 18, 2014 in Comic Art News | 0 comments

Justice League by Ed Benes

Justice League by Ed Benes

Top 10: Justice League Members by Jerry Whitworth

 

With filming beginning already on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the announcement of a Justice League film being produced directly afterward, a lot of focus has been placed on the super group in recent memory. The premier superhero team for DC Comics, the Justice League of America was a 1960s update of the 1940s Justice Society of America. Traditionally, the group is made up of the most powerful and popular heroes for the publisher originally starting with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter (the first three commonly referred as the Trinity and the seven called the Big 7). However, within subsequent issues the cast grew to include the likes of Green Arrow, Atom, Hawkman, Black Canary, and dozens more as years passed. With such a powerful group, the Justice League fought the worst of the worst as foes like Starro, Amazo, Despero, Doctor Destiny, Felix Faust, Lord of Time, Queen Bee, and the Crime Syndicate not only threatened the League but many times the world. Out of around two hundred members across such variations as International, Europe, Antarctica, Task Force, Unlimited, Elite, Dark, United, and more, lets examine who qualifies as the best of the best.

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Vortexx and the Death of Saturday Toons

Posted by on Jul 6, 2014 in Comic Art News | 2 comments

VortexxVortexx and the Death of Saturday Toons by Jerry Whitworth

 

News broke late May that Vortexx, the children’s programming block on the CW, would be coming to an end to make way for live action programming for a more family-orientated audience. Vortexx holds the distinction of being the last block of syndicated Saturday morning cartoons in the United States. Where channels like ABC, CBS, and NBC once dominated the market, cable channels like USA got into the act before local affiliates of Fox, Warner Bros, and more largely inherited the realm. Saturday morning cartoons came about in the 1960s when television stations wanted to sell advertising space that would appeal to children. So, animation studios that could cheaply produce series were hired and cartoons once only available in movie theaters were telecast on Saturday mornings. The experiment was a complete success. And the only place it could go was up.

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Make it So – Masks the Movie

Posted by on Jun 19, 2014 in Comic Art News | 1 comment

MasksMake it So: Masks the Movie by Jerry Whitworth

 

Collected last September, Masks was one of several series teaming some of the properties licensed by Dynamite Entertainment (alongside series like The Lone Ranger/Zorro: The Death Of Zorro, The Prophecy, Lords of Mars, The Shadow/Green Hornet: Dark Knights, Codename: Action, Kings Watch, and Justice, Inc.). Among its contemporaries, the series stands out teaming the likes of the Shadow, Green Hornet and Kato, Zorro, Spider, and others. Its story is based in 1938 (the year Superman premiered and changed the face of the comic book industry) as a new political party emerges and sweeps control of New York. Known as the Justice Party, regular police are disbanded and replaced with the Black Legion who enforce the totalitarian rule of the new regime with an iron fist. As it’s learned this party is in fact controlled by organized crime and founded by a former crime fighter named the Clock, the various mystery men of New York are forced to ban together as the city’s last hope for justice. With superheroes taking over Hollywood, it’s likely studios are looking for the next concept not tied to Marvel or DC Comics (as the former is largely tied to Disney and latter to Warner Bros). Further, while the pop culture presence of characters like the Shadow, Green Hornet, and Zorro are fading, its arguably greater than something from another publisher like Image or Dark Horse (Spawn and Hellboy notwithstanding). Lets take a look at how this story could be made for the big screen.

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Heart of Justice – The Manhunter from Mars

Posted by on Jun 11, 2014 in Comic Art News | 0 comments

Martian ManhunterHeart of Justice: The Manhunter from Mars by Jerry Whitworth

Writer’s Note: The Idol-Head of Diabolu, a Martian Manhunter blog was invaluable in the creation of this article! Visit them today.

David Goyer, the scribe behind Man of Steel and its sequel Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, recently drew criticism for comments regarding the Martian Manhunter. Painting the character as silly from his name to his modus operandi, the statement heaped even more backlash from fans that panned Man of Steel and decried seemingly every new announcement about the sequel (be it the casting of actors like Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, and Jesse Eisenberg to the very title of the upcoming film). Several sites have cited part of the problems with Man of Steel and choices made about its sequel could come from a lack of understanding of the source material, the statement given by Goyer another in a series from the scribe and director Zack Snyder that may have some basis for the claim. Considered somewhat less than an A-list character, lets take a look at the Manhunter from Mars.

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Make it So – Power Rangers The Movie

Posted by on May 30, 2014 in Comic Art News | 0 comments

Power Rangers The MovieMake It So – Power Rangers The Movie by Jerry Whitworth

 

It was recently announced a deal has been reached between Saban Brands and Lionsgate to produce a live action Power Rangers feature film. While few details are yet available, the wording strongly suggests the film as being a completely separate entity from the television series and associated media. In other words, it’s not expected the film connects to the current franchise or ties in to the show, be it past or present. And, again, while nothing is known about the film, Saban did skip over a season of Super Sentai (the Japanese series that Power Rangers is made from), specifically Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters. Fans speculated the move was made because the season after Go-Busters, Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger (which will become Power Rangers Dino Charge), had a significantly greater output of toy merchandise. And while this maybe true, it could also be the Lionsgate deal has been in the works for some time and Go-Busters may have been put to the side because it would lend itself well to film. Having a spy theme, Go-Busters features a team of three youths trained to combat an energy being that wishes to conquer mankind and live in a world for machines (elements reminiscent of Terminator and The Matrix). Based on comments made by Haim Saban, it’s likely film series like The Hunger Games, Twilight, and Divergent will provide inspiration for the movie’s cast and story. However, it’s likely films like The Raid: Redemption, Pacific Rim, and The Avengers could also inspire the direction of the upcoming Power Rangers picture as the studio likely wants to capitalize on the popularity of superheroes at the box office. Lets examine some elements we’re likely to see in the film.

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Rememberin’ Amazin’ Adventures

Posted by on May 22, 2014 in Comic Art News | 0 comments

Amazin' AdventuresRememberin’ Amazin’ Adventures by Jerry Whitworth

 

Considering the success of USA Cartoon Express, Disney Afternoon, and Fox Kids, other companies in the early 1990s wanted to capitalize on the popularity of animated programming blocks for children. One such corporation was Bohbot Communications which founded subsidiary Bohbot Entertainment to package programming for syndication. Forming a partnership with DiC Entertainment and Saban Entertainment, Bohbot developed the Amazin’ Adventures programming block in 1992 premiering with Double Dragon, Mighty Max, King Arthur and the Knights of Justice, and Gulliver’s Travels. Arguably the biggest hit of Amazin’ Adventures, Double Dragon was loosely based on the video game series of the same name from Technos Japan.

 

Double DragonLikely Technos Japan’s biggest hit in the United States, the Double Dragon video game series featured brothers Billy and Jimmy Lee who battled the Black Warriors to save Billy’s kidnapped girlfriend Marian (only to reveal the gang was actually led by Jimmy). As the Shadow Boss, Jimmy desired Marian for himself and set up the ruse to defeat his brother. Billy would end up winning out over his sibling and saved Marian. In the sequel, the Black Warriors return and kill Marian drawing the Lee brothers together again on a quest for revenge against the evil Shadow Master (though, defeating him seemingly resurrects Marian). In the animated series, Marian is police officer Marian Martin whose life is saved by Billy Lee. As the Shadow Warriors gang takes over Metro City, Marian deputizes Billy leading the martial arts master to meet his long lost brother Jimmy, better known as Shadow Boss. When Shadow Master (who kidnapped Jimmy as a baby and raised him as his protege) betrays his student, Jimmy switches alliances to Billy and the two take up magical swords to transform into the Double Dragons. Forming the Dragon Warriors with other heroes, the Lee brothers combat Shadow Master and later Shadow Khan. The series would run for two seasons and inspired a video game adaptation in Double Dragon V: The Shadow Falls and a toyline from Tyco. The animated series that followed Double Dragon would be one based on a toyline.

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Make it So – The Outsiders

Posted by on May 9, 2014 in Comic Art News | 1 comment

OutsidersMake it So: The Outsiders by Jerry Whitworth

 

Its been said before and seems to be consistently accurate that when it comes to Marvel and DC Comics, the former dominates the box office (save for Batman and the occasional Superman film) and latter excels on television. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, and satellite Marvel properties at other studios (like X-Men and Spider-Man), are the talk of Hollywood. Every victory Marvel takes in on the big screen seems to mean blooming two or three fold in the years to come (as Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America have opened the door to sequels as well as Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Ant-Man). DC has relied on its old faithful Batman and has given a push to Superman which may open up to Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and so forth, but the company seems somewhat hesitant following the failure of Green Lantern and Jonah Hex at box office. For television, however, Green Arrow seems to have followed the success of Smallville and has an upcoming spin-off involving the Flash as series Gotham and Constantine are on the horizon on other stations. Marvel, on the other hand, has produced Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. which initially did extremely well only for its ratings to sink like a rock. However, Marvel inked a deal that may yet have them dominate television (and computer screens) across the country with the Defenders on Netflix. Which begs the question, will DC retaliate and, if so, in what manner?

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The Descent of Action Toons on Disney XD

Posted by on May 6, 2014 in Comic Art News | 0 comments

JetixThe Descent of Action Toons on Disney XD by Jerry Whitworth

 

Considering the popularity of our earlier piece “Top 10: Action Series Canceled by Cartoon Network,” I looked into tackling a similar article with another likely target in Disney XD. However, the network has been rather slow to develop animated action series despite having an impressive track record of canceling such programs (thus making a Top 10 challenging). The station got its start as Toon Disney, largely an extension of the Disney Channel. It would feature older programming very much in the same way Cartoon Network started. A hallmark of the burgeoning channel was series from the popular Disney Afternoon block of programming. Shows like DuckTales, Gargoyles, Darkwing Duck, Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, Adventures of the Gummi Bears, and The Wuzzles were staples in its early years. Disney would actively jump feet first into action programming with the Jetix brand. Formerly Fox Kids, Jetix was a programming block featuring action series that aired on ABC Family (formerly the Family Channel and Fox Family) and Toon Disney. Featuring programs like W.I.T.C.H., A.T.O.M., and Yin Yang Yo!, a notable entry among the catalog was Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!

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Al Feldstein 1925-2014

Posted by on May 1, 2014 in Comic Art News | 1 comment

Al FeldsteinAl Feldstein: 1925–2014 by Jerry Whitworth

 

On April 29, 2014, the United States lost a pop culture icon. Al Feldstein passed away in his home in Livingston, Montana and while his may not be a household name, his contributions to our culture are significant. Discovering a talent in art at a young age, Feldstein worked as a teenager for Will Eisner and Jerry Iger as part of their Art Syndication Company which provided comics for various publishers including Editors Press Service, Fox Comics, and Quality Comics. Some of Feldstein’s earliest published art would be backgrounds for Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. When he was old enough, however, the artist would enlist as a soldier in the Air Force in order to join in World War II. Similarly with Stan Lee and Will Eisner, Feldstein’s talent as an artist brought him to Special Services where he produced comic strips and helped paint and decorate planes. He returned from the war as a freelancer working mostly for Fox. When that publisher seemed to be on the way out, Feldstein approached Bill Gaines for work at EC Comics.

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Top 10 Action Series Canceled by Cartoon Network

Posted by on Apr 19, 2014 in Comic Art News | 8 comments

Stu SnyderTop 10: Action Series Canceled by Cartoon Network by Jerry Whitworth

 

With the exit of Stu Snyder, manager of Cartoon Network, fans can’t help but reflect on negative advents during his seven year run at the channel. Most notable for his desire to move toward live action and reality series he championed at CN (a focus that lost the company creator Craig McCracken of The Powerpuff Girls and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends), Snyder is also remembered for the cancellation of fan favorite animation block Toonami in 2008. Between mismanagement by the network in the last few years and basing series’ success on toy sales, Cartoon Network has stacked up an impressive record of canceled series, including those critically-acclaimed and cult followed. In fact, CN had lost so much of the faith of its viewers from its mismanagement, for some years the ratings threatened to kill the network. Only in recent years, with series like Adventure Time and Regular Show (not to mention DVD sales of generally cheaply produced [adult swim] series), has it managed to recoup losses (amidst major competition from Nickelodeon, The Hub, and Disney XD). Along the way, a number of shows have come and gone by the hand of the powers that be at CN that fans felt were either taken too soon or believed there was still stories left to be told. Lets examine some of the series fans have demanded the return of on the network over the years.

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The Incredibles May Be Going Galactic

Posted by on Apr 14, 2014 in Comic Art News | 0 comments

The Incredibles 2The Incredibles May Be Going Galactic by Jerry Whitworth

 

Ten years ago, Brad Bird gave the world one of the best superhero films it has ever seen (then or now) in The Incredibles. Telling the story of a family of superheroes in a world that feared their kind, their patriarch Mr. Incredible is duped by wealthy and eccentric inventor Buddy Pine into helping him perfect the Omnidroid (a series of robots that nearly secretly wiped out all known superheroes). Part of the insidious Operation Kronos, Pine adopted the identity of the powerful Syndrome who would publicly defeat the Omnidroid and become a new hero adored by the people. However, when the robot’s ability to adapt made it self-aware and throw off Syndrome’s control, it was up to the Incredibles and their friend Frozone to save the city of Metroville. Despite being popular and sequels for other films from the animation studio Pixar making their way to the big screen, Bird would say he had ideas for a sequel to The Incredibles but didn’t feel it was enough to compose another movie (choosing instead to wait until he could make a sequel worthy of the original). Since then, Bird would helm Ratatouille for Pixar and move on to live action films like Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Tomorrowland. Comic book publisher Boom! Studios would tackle the Incredibles in 2009 under the guidance of the brilliant Mark Waid featuring Xerek, intended to be the main villain of the film in early drafts, and his villainous group the Unforgivables. Recently, it was announced Brad Bird is developing a script for The Incredibles 2.

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Top 10 Anti-Batmen

Posted by on Mar 31, 2014 in Comic Art News | 0 comments

The Arkham KnightTop 10: Anti-Batmen by Jerry Whitworth

 

Recently, Warner Bros. announced the forthcoming release of the third and reportedly final entry in Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham trilogy with Batman: Arkham Knight. This third entry has been eagerly awaited, both to return to the engaging gameplay of the series and to continue the story from Batman: Arkham City which included the death of the Joker and the League of Assassins left leaderless. Fans were given Batman: Arkham Origins to satisfy them while awaiting the third Arkham game (and likely help spawn a new Arkham series more closely under Warner Bros. influence) but Origins received mixed reviews at best, plagued with glitches and bugs (which included forcing players to restart games from scratch), sales short of Arkham City (but comparable to Arkham Asylum not including DLC), and falling prey to virtually every inherent problem with producing a prequel (playing on areas of content found in, and expanded upon, City despite taking place before Arkham Asylum). For Arkham Knight, Gotham’s rogues like Scarecrow, Two-Face, Penguin, Harley Quinn, and Riddler team-up to menace the Dark Knight as a new threat created for the game will be introduced. The eponymous “Arkham Knight” is being created in part by DC Comics superstar creator Geoff Johns and has been described in a demo provided to the magazine Game Informer as a “militaristic Batman” with an “Arkham A” on his chest who shoots Batman at the end of the demo. Anti-Batmen (villainous characters who share characteristics with the hero) are not exactly a new concept. The Three Ghosts of Batman are in fact a team of anti-Batmen and during the event Battle for the Cowl, the likes of Jason Todd and Two-Face take up distorted versions of the bat’s cowl for their own purposes (on parallel and the Anti-Matter Earth, Owlman is a villainous analogy of the Caped Crusader). Lets examine some memorable anti-Batmen.

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Make It So: Batman Arkham Origins II

Posted by on Mar 16, 2014 in Comic Art News | 0 comments

Arkham OriginsMake It So: Batman Arkham Origins II by Jerry Whitworth

 

When Warner Bros. decided to add an entry to Rocksteady’s wildly popular Batman: Arkham series without Rocksteady (or fan favorite writer Paul Dini), reaction was mixed at best. Expectations were already lowered when the people behind the phenomenon wouldn’t be included but when reports of multiple glitches and bugs (including severe ones that forced players to restart the game entirely) were not only present but common, both the game and developer Warner Bros. Games Montréal were heavily criticized. The game wouldn’t be considered a failure, however. While it certainly didn’t reach the heights of sales or prestige of previous installment Arkham City, it managed to secure sales in the strata of first entry Arkham Asylum (not including sale of DLC material). A prequel, Arkham Origins describes the first meeting between Batman and the Joker as assassins descend on Gotham on Christmas Eve to collect a multimillion dollar bounty for the Dark Knight’s head. In the first Arkham game, Joker was the focus with Poison Ivy a significant secondary threat. The sequel saw Hugo Strange as the main adversary with the Joker and Ra’s al Ghul as seeming equal threats (Joker stealing the show by the game’s finale). Origins had Joker as the star while Bane became almost an equal threat. The three games would prominently feature some of Batman’s greatest rogues, including Penguin, Catwoman, Riddler, Two-Face, Mister Freeze, Scarecrow, Mad Hatter, Black Mask, Killer Croc, Deadshot, and Firefly in addition to those named already. If Warner was to produce an Arkham Origins sequel, lets examine what that could entail.

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Power Rangers Super Megaforce

Posted by on Mar 10, 2014 in Comic Art News | 0 comments

Legendary BattleHow I Would Have Done It: Power Rangers Super Megaforce by Jerry Whitworth

 

Since taking back the franchise, Saban Brands has had difficulty finding its groove with Power Rangers. Samurai and Super Samurai were seen as short, lackluster seasons (that ideally would have been a single season, counted as such among fans). Megaforce, the twenty year anniversary of Power Rangers, kept hinting toward introducing some means of celebrating the advent only to instead be simply a lead-up to Super Megaforce. In this latest season, the rangers of the previous season gain a power-up to their previous abilities that allow them to morph into any former ranger identity. A handful of episodes in and they’ve heavily made use of popular Power Rangers season S.P.D. and employed suits from a season that largely didn’t air in America (Gosei Sentai Dairanger whose KibaRanger, Daizinryu, mecha, and monsters were used in the second season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers). Thus far, episodes have mostly relied on the base material footage with extreme action and had little in the way of story (even footage shot for Power Rangers exclusively has thus far involved characters in their suits or congregating in the Command Center). Of course, as Power Rangers has traditionally made much of its profits from toy sales and the twentieth anniversary has spawned the popular Legacy collection toyline and DVD sets, it’s likely this move is intended to help sell products based on the new season making the episodes thus far glorified toy commercials. Reviews as of this writing have made note of the idea of selling past ranger transformations (and associated action figures and ranger keys merchandise) and of the transition of animal-based zords to a pirate theme for no given or apparent reason (the latter a major gripe with Turbo, the season that almost ended Power Rangers). Add the fact that towards the end of Saban’s first run and most of the Disney years of the franchise delved deeply into expanding plot, thus saving and maintaining the series for over a decade, and the seemingly mindless or inane effort for the latest crop of Power Rangers (which has included major stumbling blocks for returning cast members) may turn the celebration into a wake. It’s likely with this in mind Saban has decided to skip the next season of the source footage in order to return to the dinosaur theme (with Power Rangers Dino Charge) which the series was created upon in hopes the nostalgia factor can make up for the poor production. Lets see my take on how the season could have went.

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