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10 Future Scenarios Worse than a Sarah Palin Presidency

5 Nov

Does the prospect of Sarah Palin in the White House scare you? Comic books show us it could be much, much worse.

Following gains by the Republicans in the US House of Representatives during the recent mid-term elections, there is renewed speculation that Sarah Palin will emerge as the GOP’s presidential candidate in 2012. While there are many who are elated by this prospect, the possibility of a Palin presidency is causing concern both from within the Democratic Party and the GOP itself.

Relax, people! Let’s put this possible future into perspective. Those of us who have read comic books all our lives are no strangers to disastrous futures. Here’s a list of my favorite future scenarios … all of which are far worse than having a self-described “Mama Grizzly” as leader of the world’s most powerful nation:

10. The Kamandi future

Sometime in the future, most of the human race is wiped out in a calamity known only as the “Great Disaster”. Intelligent animals (who now walk upright like humans) become the dominant life forms, including gorilla, tiger, lion, rat and dog men. Humans regress into a more primitive state and are used mainly as slave labor by their animal masters.

This is the world of Kamandi, the last boy on Earth, first published in 1972 (DC Comics).

9. The Judge Dredd future

Following nuclear holocaust, mankind is forced to live in over-crowded “Mega-Cities” because what’s left of the US is an irradiated wasteland called the “Cursed Earth”. Crime is rampant and the cities are policed only by “Street Judges” (like the hero) who have the power to arrest, sentence and even execute those they deem criminals on the spot.

Judge Dredd first appeared in the British science fiction anthology 2000 AD in 1977.

8. Days of Future Past

A group of mutants assassinate a US Senator, prompting the government to activate the Sentinels, deadly giant robots, who then decide that the only way to eradicate the mutant threat is to take over the government. Thousands of mutants, super-powered humans and ordinary humans alike are slaughtered in the process. The survivors are herded into concentration camps.

We saw a glimpse of this future in “Days of Future Past”, X-Men #141-142, published in 1981 (Marvel Comics).

7. The Hellboy Apocalypse 

The elder gods known as the Ogdru Jahad invade the earth from their hellish dimension and sweep over the planet, killing everyone. Hellboy fulfills his role as the Anung Un Rama (the Beast of the Apocalypse), ushering in the End of the World.

Hellboy’s role in the Apocalypse was first foretold (though not actually played out) in the first miniseries Hellboy: Seed of Destruction in 1994 (Dark Horse Comics). We also got a glimpse of these scenes in the first Hellboy movie.

6. The Dark Knight Returns future

The Cold War never ends, criminal gangs run wild in the cities and the US government is a fascist state with Ronald Reagan as President. All super-hero activity has been declared illegal, except for a certain blue and red-clad Kryptonian who operates in secret on the orders of the government.

This future was seen through the eyes of an elderly Bruce Wayne, forced out of retirement in The Dark Knight Returns, published in 1986 (DC Comics).

5. The Kingdom Come future

Super-human activity reaches its apex. Battles between meta-humans spill out daily onto the streets of America’s cities, without heed to property damage or civilian casualties. The conflict erupts into full civil war, prompting the United Nations to order a nuclear bomb dropped on American soil.

These events were chronicled in the miniseries Kingdom Come, published in 1996 (DC Comics).

4. The Y: The Last Man future

A mysterious plague wipes out every living mammal possessing a Y chromosome — including embryos, fertilized eggs, and even sperm. The only survivors are a male New York resident and his pet monkey. The survivors (all women) must deal with what remains of the world, including humanity’s impending extinction.

This future was depicted in Y: The Last Man, published in 2002 (Vertigo / DC Comics).

3. The OMAC future

Sometime in the future, a catastrophe puts an end to civilization as we know it. Cities lie in ruin and zombie-like monsters roam the subways. The world is policed by the Global Peace Agency and its single super-human operative, code name: One Man Army Corps (OMAC).

OMAC: One Man Army Corps was first published in 1974 (DC Comics).

2. A Better World

Lex Luthor is elected President of the United States and then assassinated by none other than Superman. The Justice League then decides to take over the United States government, running the country as a police state. They then change their name to the Justice Lords.

This alternate future was shown in the two-part “A Better World” from the Justice League cartoon TV series in 2003.

1. The Old Man Logan future

In the not-too-distant future, the United States is taken over and divided between a number of super-villains, namely Doctor Doom, Magneto, the Red Skull and the Abomination. (The latter’s territory is then seized by the Hulk.) Most of the population, including the super-heroes, is dead and most of the US is now a barren wasteland.

We saw this future through the eyes of an elderly Logan (aka Wolverine) in the miniseries Wolverine: Old Man Logan, published in 2008 (Marvel Comics).

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!

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.