Archive | August, 2010

Grumpy Fanboy’s Top 10 Comic Book Doctors

30 Aug

Comic book heroes and villains alike have earned – or presumptuously adopted – the title “Doctor”, hinting at a capacity for greater for good or for greater evil. Here are the most prominent Doctors in comic books:

10. Doctor Faustus

First appearance: Captain America #107 (Marvel Comics), November 1968

Born Johann Fenhoff in Vienna, Austria, Faustus was a criminal mastermind specializing in psychological methods of combat. In the Marvel universe, he fought the likes of Captain America, Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, and allied himself with other criminals such as the Red Skull.

Why he’s on the list: He was behind the plot to assassinate Cap … and he succeeded!

9. The Doctor

First appearance: The Authority #1 (Wildstorm), May 1999

The Doctors are shamans gifted with elemental powers and assigned to protect the Earth. There is always only one Doctor at any given time and each retains the wisdom and abilities of previous Doctors. The most famous is Jeroen Thornedike, a Dutch heroin addict and a member of The Authority.

Why he’s on the list: The Doctor is among the most powerful beings in comic books, displaying abilities that include telekinesis, gravity control and time manipulation. Linked to the planet itself, his powers are virtually without limit.

8. Doctor Light

First appearance: Justice League of America #12 (DC Comics) June 1962

The most well known Doctor Light, Dr Arthur Light, was a criminal physicist whose hi-tech costume enabled him to manipulate light waves. He was portrayed for years as a relatively minor villain, fighting the Justice League, the Teen Titans and Green Lantern. His criminal associations included the Fearsome Five (a group he founded), the Suicide Squad and the Injustice Gang.

Why he’s on the list: Although often dismissed as a joke by the super-hero fraternity, Doctor Light did play a major role in one of the DC universe’s most pivotal story arcs, Identity Crisis, when it was revealed he once raped Sue Dibny, wife of the Elongated Man. Identity Crisis would lead to breakdowns in relationships between key Justice League members.

7. Doctor Mid-Nite

First appearance: All-American Comics #25 (DC Comics) April 1941

Three heroes have used the name Doctor Mid-Nite. The first and best known, Dr Charles McNider, was a member of the “Golden Age” Justice Society of America, who fought against the Axis powers during World War II and operated as an elderly super-hero throughout several modern-day JSA adventures. His only superhuman power was being able to see in total darkness, which he exploited with the use of “blackout bombs”. McNider died heroically during the Zero Hour crossover story arc.

Why he’s on the list: Doctor Mid-Nite had the distinction of being one of the earliest costumed adventurers to use the title “Doctor”. He was also one of the world’s first blind super-heroes.  (McNider suffered from a condition known as “Day Blindness”.)

6. Doctor Fate

First appearance: More Fun Comics #55 (DC Comics), May 1940

The original Doctor Fate, Kent Nelson, was a member of the Justice Society of America whose mystical abilities stemmed from the helmet once worn by the ancient wizard Nabu. Like many of his “Golden Age” contemporaries, Fate fought magical enemies and petty criminals alike, battled the Axis powers during World War II, then fell into relative obscurity before being revived together with the “Earth 2”and later the modern-day Justice Society.

Why he’s on the list: Doctor Fate is one of the most powerful mystical beings of the DC universe, playing critical roles in a number of major story arcs. Apart from the many publications, he has also appeared in the Justice League animated series and the live action series Smallville.

5. Doctor Manhattan

First appearance: Watchmen #1 (DC Comics), September, 1986

Doctor Manhattan was a main character in Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ classic graphic novel The Watchmen. As Dr Jon Osterman, he was killed in a lab accident only to be reborn with god-like abilities that allowed him to manipulate matter at the sub-atomic level or alter time itself. In The Watchmen’s alternative timeline, Doctor Manhattan single-handedly changed the course of human history by helping America win the Vietnam War and introduce alternative sources of energy.

Why he’s on the list: He is among the most powerful beings ever portrayed in comic books or in film, boasting even the ability to create life itself.

4. Doctor Strange

First appearance: Strange Tales #110 (Marvel Comics), July 1963

Strange was a former neurosurgeon who, following a career-ending car accident, studied under the powerful sorcerer known only as the Ancient One. While much of his career focuses on protecting humanity from magical threats such as the demon Nightmare, the Dread Dormammu and Baron Mordo, his skills are often tapped by other heroes against world-threatening opponents.

Why he’s on the list: In the Marvel universe, Dr Stephen Strange is “Sorceror Supreme”, the world’s most powerful mystic. The exact limits of his power are unknown, though one of his spells could cause Galactus himself to scream in terror.

3. Doctor Octopus

First appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #3 (Marvel Comics), July 1963

Dr Otto Octavius was a criminal genius accidentally fused to four titanium-steel robotic tentacles in a lab accident. Dubbed Doctor Octopus (or “Doc Ock” to Marvel fans), he is among the best known and persistent Spider-Man villains.

Why he’s on the list: Doctor Octopus ranks #28 among IGN’s Top 100 Comic Book Villains Of All Time and is named as a favorite of Stan Lee himself. Doc Ock has battled Spidey in every media he’s appeared in, from the comics, to video games, cartoons and film.

2. Dr Bruce Banner

First appearance: Incredible Hulk #1 (Marvel Comics), May 1962

Banner is best known as his alter-ego, the Hulk, following accidental exposure to a gamma bomb. Banner has been treated for the most part as a tragic character due to the loss of his very identity when he transforms into the rage-driven Hulk. He has had a wide-ranging career under a number of writers, who have portrayed him as from Avenger, to conqueror of the planet Sakaar, to the dictatorial ruler of a post-apocalyptic North America.

Why he’s on the list: As the Hulk, Banner is one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe, whose physical strength grows in direct proportion to his anger. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.

1. Doctor Doom

First appearance: Fantastic Four #5 (Marvel Comics), July 1962

Dr Victor Von Doom is a criminal genius, accomplished sorceror and sovereign ruler of the Eastern European state of Latveria. His armored suit hides his scarred face, protects him from injury, enables him to fly, grants him superhuman strength and allows him to manipulate energy. In his many attempts at world domination, he has clashed with the Fantastic Four, the Avengers and even the X-Men.

Why he’s on the list: Doom is the textbook comic book super-villain: egotistical, obsessively intent on conquering the world and having the resources to do it. His very name “Doctor Doom” is so deeply ingrained in popular culture that it is often used when referring to real-life personalities, from climatologists to economists.

See the greatest Doctors battle it out in my Youtube channel!

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Grumpy Fanboy’s Comic Book & SciFi TV Shows We’d Like To See

24 Aug

Over the years, we’ve seen old television shows remade into modern live action feature films. A small handful are excellent (Serenity) some are pretty good (JJ Abrams’ Star Trek) and most are just too awful for words (GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen). We’ve of course seen a lot of comic books made into movies, with their own share of the good (Iron Man, The Dark Knight), the bad (Spider-Man 3, Ghost Rider) and the festering piles of turd (Elektra, Catwoman).

Here are some movie- and comic book-inspired ideas that would make excellent live action television shows:

Robotech

BSG with robots and giant aliens

Am I the only one who notices the similarity between Battlestar Galactica and the Macross saga? A lone aircraft carrier, hotshot pilots, civilians to protect and aliens bent on humanity’s destruction? Unlike the Robotech anime series, which was written for kids, this one would convey adult themes and delve deeper into the motivations behind the Zentraedi invasion.

Why it would work: The kids who were hooked on the original Robotech are now in the highly lucrative 30s and 40s demographic. Live action, a compelling and complex storyline combined with fighter jets that transform into robots. Come on! Who wouldn’t want to see that?

Why it wouldn’t happen: Japanese anime has never been successfully adapted into live action in the West. Back-rolling this project would take guts and a whole lot of vision to get it right.

The Corps

Trials of a rookie Green Lantern

Unlike the upcoming movie, this series would focus on Kyle Rayner, a teenager spotted by the Guardians to have the one-in-a-billion natural ability to operate a Green Lantern power ring. Think Greatest American Hero, wherein most episodes we see Kyle clumsily but courageously  learning the art of ring-slinging from retired Green Lantern Alan Scott. Occasionally, Kyle gets drafted into a military operation of cosmic proportions to fight alongside Green Lantern Corps veterans like Tomar-Re, Katma Tui and Kilowog.

Why it would work: The concept of a rookie drafted into a Star Trek / Starfleet Command-like military organization would be fascinating and extremely entertaining. With Smallville wrapping up, DC needs a new show on TV. (“Blue Beetle” you say? Groan.)

Why it wouldn’t happen: Quite likely that they will decide the Green Lantern movie is the only live action GL they want. It could confuse audiences.

The Defenders

Friends meets The Tick

Loosely based on the treatment of the Defenders in The Ultimates, this series focuses not on Marvel’s icons but its very deep bench of second- and third-stringer heroes. The line-up would include lesser-known characters such as Doctor Strange, Nighthawk, Hellcat, Valkyrie, the Son of Satan and other struggling-to-be-respected super-heroes. Naturally, its treatment would be lighter, often humorous, spending as much time dealing with inter-personal relationships and their secret identities as battling super villains. But importantly, the dialogue would reveal (or hint, depending on rights issues) that the show takes place in the same Marvel universe as the movies, without necessarily having any of those major characters appear.

Why it would work: Hellooo …  Marvel is hot! There’s a lot of demand between the blockbuster films for more live action super-hero content. Here’s a clever – and less expensive – way to deliver.

Why it wouldn’t happen: Too many people in Hollywood believe big budgets and special effects are the only reason people want to see comic book characters on the screen.

Gotham

Film Noir-style Batman

Most depictions of the Batman focus on him as the gadget-ridden, hi-tech super-hero. Even Dark Knight, as good as it was, missed the important word in that phrase: Detective. Sadly, the Adam West Batman still sets the tone for the character in many ways. The “Kapows!” may be gone but it’s still all about Batmobiles, Bat Jets and Bat ultra-sonar devices. I’d like to see a low tech Batman — no fancy car or special weapons — relying on his wits, resourcefulness and detective skills to solve the impossible or bizarre cases the police can’t. This was how the Batman was portrayed in the 1970s, as told by the likes of Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams and Marshall Rogers. Or, for younger readers, think CSI with a little X-Files mixed in.

Why it would work: There’s a market for intelligent crime dramas. A number of Batman fan films have demonstrated how a low-budget Batman could work well. The novel treatment could win a whole new audience.

Why it wouldn’t happen: There’s too much riding on the Batman franchise. Any Hollywood project with Batman in it has to be a big production. And based on the last two films, the formula is paying off too well.

Falcon

The adventures of young Han & Chewie

Han Solo as a smuggler / pirate /scoundrel set it in the years between Episode III and Episode IV. There’s no shortage of material! How Han gets drummed out of the Imperial Academy and goes underground. How Chewbacca comes to owe Han a “life debt”. How Han wins the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian in a game of cards. How Han drops his cargo and crosses Jabba the Hutt. Bring in a charismatic actor who can pull off a young Harrison Ford, a rotating cast of colorful characters and, of course, the Falcon herself.

Why it would work: Are you kidding me? Joss Whedon saw the potential and ended up doing Firefly instead! It would be an instant classic.

Why it wouldn’t happen: Creatively, George Lucas seems focused on the Skywalkers. The current Clone Wars animated series pretty much revolves around Anakin, as did the recent prequel trilogy. An expanded Star Wars universe revolving around Han just doesn’t seem to be on his radar.

Latest Star Wars Call of Duty 4 mod version released

20 Aug

Check it out, kids. Those cats over at Blackmonkeys.de have released the latest version of their Star Wars-themed mod for Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. The Beta 0.8 version of ‘Star Wars Mod: Galactic Warfare’ is available for download here.

Can’t wait to dig up my copy of COD 4 and reinstall it. Here’s a little taste of the action.

Top 10 Actors Who Played Comic Book Characters

19 Aug

Comic book themes in television and film are a multi-billion dollar industry. Last year, The Dark Knight became one of the highest grossing films in history and one of only six movies to earn more than a billion dollars worldwide. Today, film fans and comic fanboys alike wait breathlessly for the upcoming Thor, Captain America and Avengers films.

It took decades before the public widely accepted these characters’ transition from the page to the big screen. Here are 10 actors whose contributions were invaluable in making comic books a part of mainstream Hollywood.

10. Adam West

Best known as: Batman / Bruce Wayne from the Batman television series (1966-1968)

West was one of the pioneers in bringing the super-hero to life, albeit, with a more tongue-in-cheek flavor. While the Batman series can be credited (or blamed) for placing super-heroes in the realm of campy one-liners and gimmicks, it also brought them out of kids’ bedrooms and into our living rooms.

9. Hugh Jackman

Best known as: Wolverine / Logan from X-Men (2000)

X-Men led the pack of Hollywood blockbusters that dominated the last decade and its success was largely thanks to Jackman’s ground-breaking performance. Comic book fanboys are a tough crowd and Wolverine is one of their most revered icons. You can’t deny their acceptance of Jackman as Logan was no mean feat.

8. Mickey Rourke

Best known as: Marv from Sin City (2005)

The success of Sin City set a darker, grittier tone for comic book-based movies. Rourke’s was one of the rare performances when you completely forget you’re watching an actor and believe instead that Marv has come to life.

7. Julie Newmar

Best known as: Catwoman from the Batman television series (1966-1967)

Catwoman demonstrated how on-screen comic book characters can deliver raw sex appeal. Although two other actresses (Lee Meriwether and Eartha Kitt) shared the role of Catwoman in the Batman series, no one else defined modern “sexy” or filled a catsuit quite like Newmar.

6. Kevin Conroy

Best known as: the voice of Batman / Bruce Wayne from the Batman animated series (1992-1995)

The animated Batman is often held as the best portrayal of the dark knight detective in any medium. Conroy continues to personify Batman from the landmark original animated series through to the Superman (1996-2000), Justice League (2001-2006) and a number of animated films and video games that followed. (I continue to wonder how much Christopher Nolan’s films would improve if they dubbed over Christian Bale’s contrived raspy voice with Conroy’s.) Kevin Conroy is the voice of the Batman.

5. Bruce Lee

Best known as: Kato from the Green Hornet television series (1966)

Lee fired the imaginations of a generation by demonstrating how good a super-hero inspired action sequence could look onscreen. Quick fists and high kicks versus gun-toting goons never looked so damned good. Lee’s smoldering performance as Kato, both masked and unmasked, set him on the path to international superstardom. (Editor’s Note: a purist might argue that the Green Hornet was originally a radio serial, not a comic book, character. Yeah, yeah, smart ass! Lee plays an important enough role for me to bend the rules.)

4. Marlon Brando

Best known as: Jor-El from Superman (1978)

Having an actor of the caliber of Marlon Brando on Superman brought instant credibility to the genre. Brando’s performance was so powerful and unforgettable that they couldn’t make Superman Returns (2006) nearly 30 years later without somehow bringing him back.

3. Lynda Carter

Best known as: Wonder Woman / Diana Prince from the Wonder Woman television series (1975)

No one else filled a costume (or my boyhood dreams) like Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman. Hers remains one of the rare instances where it’s difficult to separate the character from the actor who played her. There is yet to be a modern Wonder Woman TV or film production, though there have been a number of attempts. Could it be because no one else could ever hope to equal Carter’s performance?

2. Robert Downey, Jr.

Best known as: Iron Man / Tony Stark from Iron Man (2008)

Downey delivered one of the performances most beloved by comic book fans and non-fans alike by making the role of Tony Stark his own. Iron Man redefined comic book film-making and cemented Marvel’s dominance of the genre. Yes, Robert. You are Iron Man.

1. Christopher Reeve

Best known as: Superman / Clark Kent from Superman (1978)

No one else made us believe so convincingly that a man could fly. ‘Nuff said.

New Trailer from DC Universe Online

18 Aug

The folks at DC Universe online unveiled today its latest trailer for DC Universe Online. Unlike the six-minute trailer shown at Comic Con 2010, which was a fully rendered cinematic, this latest trailer appears to consist entirely of in-game footage. And it looks great!

Comic Book Movie Update: Ant Man will be more “secret agent” than “super-hero”

17 Aug

In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, screen writer / director Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim vs the World) revealed some of his plans for the upcoming Ant Man film. “It’s essentially a high-tech spy heist film with somebody with a very particular power,” says Wright. “I think it’d be great to do a shrinking film about a bad-ass secret agent.”

I don’t know about you butNo costume or shiny helmet for Ant Man? I get nervous when film creators drop hints about how much they intend to deviate from the source material so early in the film’s development. (Wright says he has a first draft of the screenplay and will soon be working on a second.) Bad enough that it looks like Ant Man will be excluded from the upcoming Avengers starting line-up, even though he was a charter member in the comic book. (Hank Pym has always been a core team member, whether as Ant Man, Giant Man or Yellowjacket.)

Does Ant Man as a “secret agent” mean no costume, no helmet, no army of ants … no Wasp?

What’s the point of taking a beloved comic book character, promising an adaptation in a feature film but then changing him beyond recognition? Is anyone else having Catwoman feeling of déjà vu?

City of Heroes: Going Rogue goes live

17 Aug

Great assets are what keeps COH players loyal.

Massively multiplayer online role-playing game City of Heroes unveils today what it heralds as its most ambitious expansion to date: Going Rogue. While I haven’t had a chance to dive into it yet, Going Rogue is an example of why I’ve remained a fan since 2004.

City of Heroes may have never had the following anywhere near the size of World of Warcraft but that’s exactly what I love about it. Unlike most fantasy-based MMOs out there – and there are a ton of them – in COH I no longer get the feeling that my character is running alongside some snot-nosed, 13-year old brat. The choice of costumes, the banter and cultural references reassure me that I’m playing with folks closer to my age group: 30s & 40s. And people who are – naturally – partial to comic books. But most of all, the COH team has succeeded where most games have failed: keeping the content fresh and constantly improving on what’s already an excellent product.

Here’s a little preview. More ongoing Rogue once I’ve had more time to play.