Apr 15 2016

Doctor Strange Trailer (And Some Thoughts on The Comics)

By the hoary hosts of Hoggoth, they actually did it. Here is the new Doctor Strange trailer.

Doctor Strange movie

Looks like fun, yeah? I’ll give you a few thoughts of my own; if you want a moment by moment Doctor Strange trailer breakdown check out this video at IGN.

(Note: Marvel/Comixology/Amazon is having a sale on Doctor Strange digital comics — 99 cents each. Check ’em out here.)

So. Doctor Strange. What’s his deal? He’s got magic powers, lots of nifty mystical items that he uses to protect Earth from inter-dimensional nasties, and… I don’t know, he’s cool. Not a traditional superhero like Iron Man, Spider-Man and the rest.

Splash page for the "Doctor Strange"...

Splash page for the “Doctor Strange” story in Strange Tales #110 (July 1963). Art by Steve Ditko. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On a personal note, the first “real” comic book I ever read was an issue of Doctor Strange. I’d been reading Richie Rich, Casper, Archie, that kind of stuff. One day my dad said, “It’s time for you to read some real comics,” and handed me a copy of Doctor Strange. My little boy mind was blown. The first thing I remember is how much smaller the lettering was. That was true for all “real” comics (read: Marvel and DC); Richie Rich, et al, were aimed at very young readers and had simpler dialogue and storylines… and larger lettering. The next thing I remember is the splash page. One big image, full of colorful details, with Doctor Strange himself looming large over it all. I think he was looking out of a window, but it’s possible he was sitting in a chair with stuff drawn around him. I’ve been looking for that issue for years and I think I’ve found it, although I can’t remember what number it is at the moment. I also don’t remember the story. But I do remember how I felt. It was basically my comic book Bar Mitzvah. No more little kid comics for me. Now I could read the good stuff.

And I did. I have a nice collection of books that I bought at the local candy store/newsstand, because you could buy comics there when I was a kid. (You still kind of can, it just isn’t as common.) I didn’t keep those comics in very good shape, which in some cases is a bummer — my Frank Miller and Klaus Janson Daredevils would be worth a few bucks, as would my copy of the original Wolverine mini-series (which you can get for less than six dollars via Comixology). But instead of bagging and boarding everything, I read the hell out of my comics, because they were awesome. (Those Daredevils in particular are probably my favorite comic books ever.)

Back to Doctor Strange. His book went in and out, and I didn’t buy it that often. It’s possible that the local candy store didn’t always have it in stock even when it was being published. In addition to not being a traditional superhero, I don’t think he was as popular as the big names. He did found one of my sneaky super teams, The Defenders. The original core group of Defenders was Doctor Strange, Namor the Sub-Mariner, and The Incredible Hulk, quickly followed by The Silver Surfer. Basically a bunch of really powerful dudes who don’t play well with others, hence the term “non-team”. Later Defenders mainstays included such popular characters as Hellcat, Gargoyle, and Nighthawk. Also Valkyrie. Never heard of them? Join the club. (Marvel is doing a Netflix series called The Defenders, which I’m sure will be fun but doesn’t have much, if anything, to do with The Defenders’ comic books.) The Defenders hung out at Doctor Strange’s Greenwich Village mansion, known as The Sanctum Santorum, while constantly making a point of telling readers that they were NOT a super-team like The Avengers. I liked those comics a lot. Something about the idea of a group of semi-outcasts and/or angry people and/or loners teaming up only when it suited them really appealed to me.

I also always dug the good Doctor on his own. His job, Sorcerer Supreme, was to defend Earth from mystical threats. Sometimes he gets help from other Marvel heroes, but usually he doesn’t, because he’s the only one who can do what needs to be done. This led to some wonderfully trippy artwork, first by the legendary Steve Ditko (written by the even more legendary Stan Lee) and later by lots of other people.

The thing that made me the happiest in the trailer was seeing Doctor Strange’s Astral Form. (When Tilda Swinton punches him and it looks like a ghost pops out of his body.) It works like this: Doc leaves his body behind, defenseless, and his spirit floats around and does stuff. He can travel faster this way, but he can’t touch anyone and most people can’t see him. (One notable exception, if memory serves, is The Hulk. Because comic books. UPDATE: I just read some Doctor Strange comics from the 80s, and in those stories Doc can allow people to see his astral form if he wants them to. Again, because comic books.) It’s something that for various reasons I always found fascinating, so to see them do it in a live action movie had me making little nerdy noises.

So there you go. The Doctor Strange trailer. Looks like Marvel might get it right again, taking a character that isn’t well-known and putting said character into a big-budget blockbuster movie that doesn’t suck. Here’s hoping.

Read some comics:


May 08 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron Link Roundup (Ongoing) – UPDATED

Now that Avengers: Age of Ultron is finally here, and I’ve seen it (twice), I can start reading about it until my eyeballs fall out. This page will have an an ongoing list of links to some of what I’ve read that I found interesting.

Me and The Avengers movie.

Personally I prefer The Avengers. Have I mentioned that lately?

UPDATED 5/11/15 (new links after the break; you can tell they’re new because they say NEW LINK.)

As you know, I frickin’ LOVED The Avengers, the first one. To say that Avengers: Age of Ultron isn’t quite as good as the first film is like saying I’m shorter than Shaquille O’Neal. Or, to ever-so-slightly borrow a joke from the movie, that this blog post will be shorter than a Eugene O’Neill play. Bottom line: it was a lot of fun, Joss Whedon did a nice job of balancing all of the myriad demands of a film with a ton of characters and future Marvel Cinematic Universe movies to promote, and I’ve already seen the movie twice and would gladly see it again.

As expected with a summer blockbuster, especially a follow-up to a film as great as The Avengers, the Interwebs are filled with articles and blog posts and charts and click-bait about all things Ultron. I went on Rotten Tomatoes planning to read a few reviews. I got as far as one before being sucked into a rabbit hole (maybe I should say tesseract instead) of Age of Ultron related topics.

Oh, the obligatory Spoiler Alert from this point forward. I’m not going to bother watching what I say about the movie, although this isn’t a review and odds are I won’t reveal anything particularly important. But if you haven’t seen the movie yet and prefer to do so without knowing anything about what happens, stop reading now. Then come back. Don’t worry. We’ll wait. Read more »


Feb 17 2014

This Guardians Of The Galaxy Pic Is Awesome

Captain America: The Winter Soldier hits theaters on April 4, 2014 (and apparently the toys and soundtrack listing reveal something major about the plot — I’m not looking, my hands are over my ears, meow meow meow meow, don’t spoil it for me, I’m a massive nerd, etc.), but the next big-ass Marvel superhero movie is Guardians of the Galaxy. This pic is awesome.

Courtesy of @WizardWorld.

Now, who are these funky fresh folks?

Left to right: Gamora (played by Zoe Saldana), Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper; Rocket’s catchphrase in some comics is “Ha! Murdered you!”), Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt, who was also in The Lego Movie), Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel; Groot is a big walking tree who occasionally has to get into a flower pot and re-grow — not sure if they’re going to go there in this film), and Drax the Destroyer (played by Dave Bautista, who used to wrestle in the WWE , is 6′ 6″ tall, and is 45 years old).

Guardians of the Galaxy is scheduled to open on August 1, 2014. The trailer is supposedly coming out this week. That’s good because… well, because I’m a big nerd and I want to see the trailer. Based on the little bit of footage at the end of Thor: The Dark World, this movie looks like it has the potential to be supremely weird in best possible way.

Not to diss Captain America. I’m psyched to see it. (Geek Gold Card, folks. I mean, duh.) But Guardians goes much deeper into the Marvel Comics Universe. Two of the main characters are a talking raccoon and a walking tree, for Stan’s sake. Remember that the conventional wisdom was that Iron Man wasn’t a first-tier character in terms of name recognition among the general public (those without Geek Gold Cards), at least before the movie came out and was a huge hit. Then The Avengers movie made over a billion damn dollars worldwide. This proved (to me at least) that audiences are hungry for good movies featuring superheroes. If Guardians of the Galaxy is good, it will do well. If it’s only so-so, it will likely still do well enough because there are plenty of people like this out there:

English: Valkyrie cosplay for Fan Ex 2011 Came...

That is a photo of a woman dressed up as The Valkyrie. Valkyrie is one of The Defenders, she’s sort of a female Thor, although that’s not entirely fair because she is very much her own character without any relation to the God of Thunder. I’m sorry, did you fall asleep? That’s cool. My point here is that there are enough ticket buyers out there like the cosplayer pictured above to keep Marvel making more movies. As I’ve said before: in the words of Martha Stewart, this is a good thing.

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