Jan 19, 2018

Typhoid Mary Doesn’t Exist

Mary Walker and Typhoid were created by Ann Nocenti and John Romita Jr during their run on Daredevil (issue 254). They share a body, and are manifested identities of a woman suffering from dissociative identity disorder. Later, Nocenti will add Bloody Mary, as a third, and Dan Slott - in an atrocious case of missing the point - Mutant Zero. But, there is no Typhoid Mary. No character by that name exists. That name is a label to put on a cover, a title. Even her gorgeous miniseries by Nocenti and John Van Fleet was called Typhoid, because it’s about, well, the character named, Typhoid.

Typhoid Mary Doesn’t Exist
How Ann Nocenti Turned a Pile of Contradictory Misogyny
into the Gut Release We All Needed
Pop Medicine
Travis Hedge Coke

And, to me, here is the heart of the character who is Typhoid and Mary (et al). Neither Typhoid nor Mary are a person, are permitted personhood. Typhoid is callous, sexual, violent, strong but yielding temporarily to men with power or money. Mary is weepy, clingy, naive. These aren’t women; they are misogynistic anxieties. And, what’s awesome about them both, is that they fuck over exactly the sort of guys who pretty much earned it. Typhoid stories are morality plays. They’re lesson stories. If Typhoid or Mary are what you believe women “truly are,” you are in trouble.



Both Mary and Typhoid are introduced as assassins, set on not just killing, but destroying someone. Typhoid goes out and gets in stabby fights. Mary has meet cutes and hugs and blushes. Depending on where the audience’s gauge falls between Madonna and Whore, one or the other may seem healthier or cooler, but they’re messed up. They’re both messed up. Mary and Typhoid, in this sense, do not exist. Again, they lack personhood, but not in the sense of fridging. Neither is sacrificed for the growth of male characters, but instead, they are a metaphoric agency, a complex of bruised ideas lashing back outward.

Because, largely, comics won’t let Mary or Typhoid, or even “Typhoid Mary” be their own person. And, to be a person is to be “their own person.” Otherwise, it is not personhood.

Think I am overreaching? The collection of Nocenti’s Typhoid stories, the comics where she is the lead or co-lead, is titled Daredevil: Typhoid’s Kiss. Note, Daredevil, the character, is not mentioned until we are 136 story pages into the collection. He does not physically appear for 167 pages. He’s barely in any of the stories after that. But, the title of the collection is him, and she is not even the subtitle, the subtitle is only her hypothetical, metaphorical action. Something received by someone else.

“I love to test men,” says Typhoid, in the graphic novella, Bloody Mary.



Heroes, villains, “just guys,” that are in danger from Typhoid/Mary/Bloody Mary are not all uniformly horrible, and the ones who are not thoroughly rotten with misogynistic, sexist muck generally survive intact, if cut up a bit. But, they are all sexist. That, I think, is what Typhoid is for, and what makes her and her stories so excellent. Daredevil is sexist. This has been an established trait, complained about by other characters, weathered by women in his stories, since quite early in his existence as a character. Black Widow ditched him, when they were partnered up in San Francisco, because he was annoyingly sexist. He falls prey to Mary, especially, but also Typhoid, because he is sexist. In later stories, like those collected in Typhoid’s Kiss, boorish, annoyed men’s rights shouting idiots are going to get their asses kicked. Rapey, pseudo-intellectual gas lighting dudes are probably gonna die.

Wolverine makes appearances, and c’mon, we know Wolverine has issues with women and how he ought to interact with them, and we, the audience, often cheer a bit for him and his inappropriate methods, especially when they work, and the ladies just love him more because he tore their skirt shorter or pushed his face into theirs because he knows they secretly like it.

Sexism is not only full-blown misogyny. It is not necessarily even rooted in hate. Erasure and dehumanization are also sexist. The reflex belief that a woman who does horrible things must be manipulated by men, controlled or forced or naively colluding is sexist. The hero complex of “if I save her, she’ll bang” is sexist. It is embedded deep in many of our heroic narratives, in our cultural anticipations, but that does not make it any less an individual’s problem. And, that’s what Typhoid cuts up. That is what Mary twists and pinches and bleeds. It is what the “warrior woman,” the “bleeding soldier” Bloody Mary wages war with.

It is where the fun comes in.

Any time you want to read Robert Crumb’s My Trouble With Women, I want you to pull Ann Nocenti’s Typhoid’s Kiss off the shelf. Save yourself.

“Aren’t you really nobody?” a young man asks the woman who is Mary and Typhoid, in Nocenti and Molly Crabapple’s Blindspot. She responds, having been exaggeratedly all over the place in the previous few pages:

“When I was little I had a pair of red rubber boots. My boots took me places. One day they got lost. I thought they were hiding under my bed. But they’re gone. I miss them. All of them.

“One of us is tender,
“one of us is not,
“one of us takes vengeance
“all four tied in a knot.”

Jan 17, 2018

The MCU Roundtable: Iron Man 2

If you’re anything like us, than you were blown away when the first Avengers: Infinity War trailer dropped. The extended Comics Cube family was so excited that we have decided to embark upon a full re-watch of the Marvel Studios film series. Every week we are going to watch and provide a roundtable discussion about each Marvel movie in release order. So far, we’ve done the first two movies that launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk. Next, is the first sequel of the franchise.

Countdown to Avengers: Infinity War
Iron Man 2

Due to the success of Iron Man, it’s only natural Marvel would immediately start working on a sequel. Iron Man 2 was released on May 7, 2010 (can you imagine a time when an entire calendar year passed without a Marvel Studios movie?) and made $128 million on its opening weekend. It ended its theatrical run at $312 million in the United States and $623 million total worldwide. Despite a lukewarm audience response, it was still an incredibly successful film.



BEN: Tony Stark gained a heart in the first movie, and this movie is about the repercussions of that. He has to deal with his new heart poisoning him physically, emotionally, and mentally.

DUY: This is my second least favorite MCU movie and a huge part of it is that’s it’s so in-cohesive.

BEN: Favreau reportedly was getting a lot of interference from Marvel which is why it’s so all over the place. It’s also why he didn’t return to direct the third movie.

TRAVIS: One of the few times I think an action movie could use forty minutes put back in… and it would feel shorter.

ANTONIO: My favorite of the three.

JD: I liked it more than 3 .

LAMAR: Okay, this is the second time I’ve watched this movie and I feel like y’all owe me money for this go-round. I’d rather sit in church and listen to my grandma and her choir buddies run down the 2 Live Crew’s greatest hits than watch this miscarriage of fantasy again. Also, I’m a teetotaler and this movie makes me want to smoke reefer.

BEN: Oh look, Psylocke (Olivia Munn) is in this. The Invisible Woman (Kata Mara) is too.

DUY: Regarding Travis’ comment the first time about how they just let Tony be a jerk, it’s still true here. Stark commandeering the Senate’s monitors is only right because he happens to be right. Also, the Senator that you know is Hydra kinda colors this entire scene now.

BEN: Spoilers!

BRIAN: Still weirded out by the replacement of Terrence Howard as Rhodey. Cheadle does a fine job, but I’d like to see the alternate universe version with Howard as War Machine.

DUY: I don’t think Howard had the edge to pull it off.

BEN: I don’t really like either of them as Rhodey.

"Okay, this is the second time I’ve watched this movie and I feel like y’all owe me money for this go-round." -LaMar

DUY: After the first one, I wondered how they would follow it up villains-wise, because most of Iron Man’s villains are either outdated Cold War era villains like the Titanium Man or Crimson Dynamo, or lame ones like Whiplash. Somehow they gave both kinds.

SAMANTHA: Mickey Rourke is a train wreck in most of his films at this point, and I think that’s why I keep watching his stuff – guess I can’t turn away.

BEN: Rourke was definitely going for it, and he didn’t quite get there.

JEFF: I really didn’t care for Rourke in this movie, his casting seems so “flavor of the week” coming off The Wrestler.

BEN: Exactly that. Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer is much more interesting and a much better performance. I’m also really glad he didn’t get the job of Tony Stark previously.

JEFF: Rockwell stole almost every scene he was in. But that isn’t saying a lot for this movie.

JD: Justin Hammer was as close as Favreau could get to having his buddy Vince Vaughn in the cast. Rockwell killed it. He’s hilarious.

MATT: I liked Hammer, but overall this movie was a mess. Rourke was incoherent, literally, I need subtitles. Best to just skip and move on to Cap.

TRAVIS: I thought Rockwell and Rourke were both great. It’s fun. The performances are mostly what the movie has going for it.

DUY: Drunken Tony scene, shoot me.

"Rockwell killed it. He’s hilarious." -JD


BEN: Oppenheimer was an inspiration for this movie. Apparently he sunk into a deep depression after helping to create the atomic bomb, as the weight of what he had helped bring into the world began to sink in. That’s what they were trying to achieve with Tony Stark, which explains the odd drunk Iron Man scene.

DUY: Anyone who actually wants a “Demon in a Bottle” movie seriously overestimates how entertaining that would be.

BEN: The suitcase armor was cool as hell, and a great nod to the comics.

TRAVIS: The nerd jokes in this, like the Stark Effect, are funny and unexpected. I don’t gut laugh any more, but I do chuckle.

DUY: This five-minute Black Widow sequence just makes me wish she had her own movie.

BEN: It made the whole movie worthwhile for me, at the time.

DUY: I feel like they were going for the traditional sex appeal route with Widow (she has a “changing scene” and also some lingerie pictures in this one). The Disney purchase shifted that over to topless dudes.

"This five-minute Black Widow sequence just makes me wish she had her own movie." -Duy

TRAVIS: Which reminds me: I still don’t get where she was supposed to have been sexing all the male Avengers. At what point in this movie was she supposed to be remotely sexually interested in Tony? But, folks still talk like that was a real thing that happened.

DUY: She’s been actively interested in exactly one (whether or not that was the right one to do that with is questionable, and I’m sure we’ll get to that with Ultron). Anything else is people bringing in preconceptions.

SCARLET: I saw a bit of chemisty between her and Bruce in the first Avengers (and this was before Ultron came out) but it was kinda overshadowed by the relationship with Hawkeye, which surprised us all by being platonic.

DUY: I think she and Bruce had that moment in the first Avengers. I figured Hawkeye was platonic though, actually, and that they were more best friends than anything. But that was also partly because I was hoping Mockingbird would show up.

DUY: I’m so glad Cheadle is War Machine instead of Howard.

LAMAR: I wish Don Cheadle was Terrence Howard.

BEN: It’s interesting how Marvel was able to build such a strong reputation when two of the first three films are considered the worst of the franchise.

DUY: It’s because the next two deliver. Not as much as Iron Man, but just enough to build up that anticipation for Avengers.

TRAVIS: Cap really didn’t deliver anything for me well, except, well, Cap. It felt like it was a cut to be a prologue. A ninety minute scrolling yellow prologue set to Yankee Doodle. #90sCap4ever

"It’s interesting how Marvel was able to build such a strong reputation when two of the first three films are considered the worst of the franchise." -Ben


DUY: Three movies in and there’s been one good movie, pretty much. You could say virtually the same thing of the DC Extended Universe. So would the public be more accepting of the DCEU if it had come first? Same exact movies, just in an alternate reality where they come before the MCU.

ANTONIO: I don’t think that’s quite fair. If you break the movies down, sure, maybe there’s plotholes and issues, but all the performances remain enjoyable – at least with Iron Man.

BEN: Iron Man 2 and Incredible Hulk are good, not terrible. That’s the difference.

ANTONIO: I think it helped that Iron Man was clearly pointing towards and Avengers line-up.

LAMAR: The main difference with the two is Marvel set their universe up properly. Even with the not so good films, the universal narrative is still in place so the whole thing isn’t dependent on the movie quality as much. DC’s universe fails because the whole thing is set up wrong, so the mistakes are more glaring and defined.

JEFF: The movies are solid summer action movies, none of them leave you shaking your head like seeing the hero snap the villain’s neck at the end, and after the first Iron Man movie you knew that they were going to interconnect and building up to something big.

BEN: Jessica Biel, Gemma Arterton, Natalie Portman, Jessica Alba, and Angelina Jolie were considered for the role of Natasha Romanov a.k.a. Black Widow. Emily Blunt was originally cast, but had to pull out due to scheduling conflicts with the movie Gulliver's Travels.

ANTONIO: Jolie would have been weird.

BEN: Also, Eliza Dushku actively campaigned for the role of Black Widow, but did not get it, much to Duy’s disappointment.

DUY: Scarlett is the right person for the job. This was outside of Eliza’s wheelhouse.

BEN: Why, because she can’t act?

DUY: Essentially. She’d still have been the better Mary Jane Watson though. But Emily Blunt might have been interesting.

BEN: Who wins the award for “Best Supporting Actor?”

JEFF: I would say Rockwell, he was spot on and made the most out of the screen time he had.

BEN: It’s unfair to count Scarlett, so outside of her it’s Rockwell for me.

TRAVIS: Rockwell, I think, outdid everyone. I’m more entertained by Rourke’s scientist, though. Dudes both take Tony’s ego, father issues, and drive to impress and make way more complex mockeries of it.

JD: I have always liked this movie. I always thought of it as a The Avengers #0 kind of story. It introduced Fury and Black Widow and S.H.I.E.L.D. and War Machine. We got a look at the hammer (in the post-credits teaser) which everyone was asking about when they left the theaters. It was so much fun answering Marvel questions for strangers while I cleaned. Best supporting actor, the War Machine armor.

BEN: That’s an interesting point because the universe was expanding quickly and it was so exciting at the time. It’s hard to remember now, but it was so very cool that Black Widow was in this movie, and they didn’t have to give her too much screen time, it was the perfect tease for the future. I think that’s why even if the movies weren’t great, viewers were still ready for what comes next.

TRAVIS: The idea that there’s more coming, and that this universe will be huge, really comes to play with this movie.

DUY: Ehhh, I’m gonna go with Scarlett for best supporting actor. Really makes you excited for the future. I’m not really willing to give this movie an award that stands on its own.

"I have always liked this movie. I always thought of it as a The Avengers #0 kind of story."  -JD

PETER: I know we usually rank this and Hulk at the bottom of the MCU rankings, but for its time and on its own, it was fun. The only thing I didn’t like was Rourke’s acting and character. The Black Widow fight scene was quite a thrill at the time and remains excellent to this day. And I still don’t mind half paying attention to it when it’s on cable these days. It’s just that when you have to rank all 16 MCU movies, well one of them has to be 15th or 16th, right?

DUY: Yeah, I need to point out that this is the one MCU movie I didn’t see in theaters, due to my general dislike of the Iron Man character, by the time I’d seen it, Thor and Cap had already come out, so my personal bar was higher.

PETER: I don’t really have any comic book recommendations for this. Hammer’s daughter shows up as the villain in the Fraction/Larocca run and it’s not too bad, so maybe that.

DUY: Any other comic book recommendations for Iron Man 2? I’m gonna go with Waid and Samnee’s Black Widow run, which may provide a nice template for Widow going forward.

PETER: The Liu/Acuna mini-series was disappointing, but maybe I set my expectations too high because of the creative team.

BEN: Widow was great in Brubaker’s Winter Soldier comic too.

JEFF: Iron Man: Doomquest, The Mask in the Iron Man, Hypervelocity. There’s a good but forgotten Black Widow story from the old Journey Into Mystery days, recently added to Comixology, #517-519, worth a read.

BEN: Oh yes, the Iron Man vs Dr. Doom fights are great, mostly because they have my beloved Morgan Le Fay.

JEFF: Doom commanded that when the name Doom is spoken, greatness is always assured and expected.

TRAVIS: I’ll recommend Rucka & Grayson’s Black Widow, and a little farther afield, Transmetropolitan. Political gaming. Father issues. Burned colleagues. Dangerous wealthy fame-chasers. Angry, drunken binges you regret. And, sci-fi.

BEN: Final question, who gets the “Val Kilmer” award for dominating the movie? It’s hard not to say RDJ, since he’s the main thing keeping this movie afloat, and it’s easy to take him for granted with all the new shiny characters.

DUY: Anyone who says anyone other than RDJ is lying.

MATT: You could make a case for Rourke and his insane performance.

ANTONIO: Rockwell definitely gave it a go.

BRIAN: Favreau’s MMA skills all the way!


Jan 16, 2018

Crisis on Infinite Earths: A Personal Story

I've gushed before on how much I love the 1985-86 DC event Crisis on Infinite Earths. It's one of my favorite comic books ever, and is drawn by my favorite artist of all time, George Perez. But until recently, I don't think I ever realized how much it meant to me on a personal level.

Crisis on Infinite Earths: A Personal Story
by Duy

It could be said Crisis on Infinite Earths got me into comics, even if I didn't read it until 10 years into my fandom. That's because some of my first comics ever, the thing that really sparked the fire, were of the Who's Who in the DC Universe series, in which DC profiled their characters in the wake of this event. Specifically, there were these two pages:




Seeing the two Supermen side by side like that opened up a world of possibility for me. I may have always gotten into comics, but whether or not I would have is neither here nor there. The multiverse made me a fan.

Referenced throughout Who's Who, and almost every DC comic since 1986, was Crisis. But that was before the internet and before the days of regular trade paperbacks, so there was no way for me to read Crisis short of finding the original issues. And so it went, with me just picking up on what happened via flashbacks and references, until Christmas Day, 1998.

My mom managed to find the entire set of Crisis at the then–newly opened Comic Odyssey, and then my brother and I opened it and immediately took two seats. He took the first issue, read it, and then handed it over to me, and then I read it while he read the second. And we repeated that process, finishing Crisis within the day.

Four years passed and I'd been away from Manila for a year and a half, when they release Crisis in a trade paperback. Since I'd already read and had a copy Crisis, I bought the paperback and gift it to my then-roommate, taking it as a sign to get friends into the hobby. He got into it, and pretty soon schoolmates visiting us just started picking it up and start reading it, asking questions. One of our closest friends spent a whole afternoon just reading Crisis, just from randomly picking it up. A year later, I bought the poster, proudly displaying it in my room. It ended up being a conversation piece, with friends looking at it to just ask, who this or that was.


Fast forward to 2007, and I'd moved back to Manila. On my birthday, when my family gifted me the Absolute Edition of Crisis on Infinite Earths, a beautiful oversized book with top-of-the-line production quality and a ton of extras. I took it with me a couple of weeks later to the hospital, when I had to undergo surgery. With only my mom to keep me company, I figured I'd read this comic in this lush edition.

Except I couldn't pick it up. The surgery had made it difficult to lift anything even remotely over five pounds, so reading the Absolute edition of anything was out of the question. That's when my entire family came down with a fever, except for my then-seven-year-old nephew. So in an effort to not get him sick, they sent him to the hospital to keep me company. (Yes, I'm aware of the irony.)

My nephew was always pretty mature for his age, and even at age seven, you could have a conversation with him without talking down to him. He was the MVP of my 10-day stay in the hospital, talking to the nurses about things I needed, getting what I needed, and keeping me company watching Gargoyles.

And then he picked up Crisis.

And then he read Crisis, which, if you can imagine a tiny 7-year-old reading a gigantic book, looked funny. (We made a song out of it. It is imaginatively called "Little Man Reading a Book. A Big Book.") So he spent quite a good bit of time reading the comic and asking me questions about the side characters. It was awesome.

And I thought that was it, until December of 2017, when the Avengers: Infinity War trailer dropped, and my niece said, "I want to get into superheroes." Now my niece reads comics already, but her superhero reading had mostly been things like Jeff Smith's Shazam or Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee's Thor: The Mighty Avenger, meaning self-contained, stand-alone stories focused on one core character and aimed at a very specific audience.

(Both are excellent, by the way. Check them out.)

So in accordance to her wishes, we had her read the Infinity Gauntlet, also drawn by George Perez. She enjoyed it, but didn't love it, the disappointment being caused particularly by the ending.

So to wash that taste out of her mouth, I brought over the Absolute Edition of Crisis on Infinite Earths. Then I pulled out the original issues (my brother kept that one). And we took a break from reading the Donald Duck books (this is our bonding thing) to read Crisis, her with the Absolute Edition and me with the original issues. We do voices and sound effects.

It's great.

Before thinking about all that, I don't think I ever realized just how connected Crisis was to my personal life. Every single time I'd read it or thought about reading it, it's left a milestone of a memory. They are distinct experiences, and they're always tied to people I've cared about.

Years ago, I named four comics that helped shape my life. I never named Crisis. I took it for granted. And maybe Crisis never changed the way I thought about stuff, or inspired me to create something, or drove me to be a better person. But it did affect and color my relationships with people I cared about.

And seriously. That's something.

Jan 15, 2018

Forgotten Juggernauts: The Baxter Legion

The Legion of Super-Heroes was the first modern comic book franchise.  It was the one of the first series to really embrace the soap opera capabilities of comic book storytelling.  There was a time, long ago, when it was one of DC’s most popular books.  In the years since, they’ve faded into the background, to the point where they go long periods without any new comic on the stands.  So today, we’re going to jump in the wayback machine, and look at a Legion of Super-Heroes story from when they were arguably at their peak.

Forgotten Juggernauts: The Baxter Legion

If you were a young fan reading the comics in the ‘60s and ’70s, then the characters practically grew up right along with you.  Some of them died never to return.  Some got married, and even had kids. This probably played a big role in the Legion of Super-Heroes being one of the top DC franchises by the ‘80s.  (Those same reasons are probably why it’s steadily faded every year since.  Younger readers might not have had the same investment in that growth.  That and all the Lass and Lad codenames don't mesh well with this "more serious" age of comics.)

The Legion was so popular and successful, that when publishers were experimenting with the new ‘Direct Market’ (selling straight to local comic shops) DC picked their top two books, The Legion of Super-Heroes and The New Teen Titans.  These comics were printed on better paper, called Baxter paper, and thus this era of the franchise became known as the Baxter Legion.  Along with the better paper, forgoing the newsstand allowed the stories to also have a slightly edgier "more mature" take, a more violent take.

So, that is where we begin, with Legion of Super-Heroes (volume 3) #1.   

The first two issues were written by Paul Levitz, penciled by Keith Giffen, and co-plotted by both.  Steve Lightle took over penciling on chapter three, Giffen remained as co-plotter and consulting artist.  Larry Mahlstedt inked them all.

CHAPTER ONE

The story begins ominously enough with Lightning Lord, older brother of Lighting Lad and Light Lass, promising to kill his younger brother.



While on vacation, Dream Girl is still shaken by a troubling prophetic dream, in which a Legionnaire is going to die.



It’s at that moment that Legion villain Micro Lad picks the single worst casino to try and rob, as he was not expecting Dream Girl and Star Boy to be on site.

On the planet Daxam, Mon-El and friends are surveying a landscape restoration project, in an attempt to undue the recent damage Darkseid inflicted upon the world (in the legendary The Great Darkness Saga).  Their work is interrupted by a notification that a Daxamite is destroying facilities and freeing prisoners on the prison planet of Takron-Galtos.  Mon-El, Shadow Lass, Ultra Boy, Timber Wolf, and Chameleon speed off to intervene.

Micro Lad attempted to shrink down to escape, but is stopped by Shrinking Violet, who proceeds to beat the pulp out of him.


(One of the great things about the Legion of Super-Heroes, is that generally their powers are native to whatever planet they hail from.  Long ago, the human race colonized the universe, and each colony developed special abilities in relationship to the planet they lived on.  Or they’re just aliens.  What this means is that almost every Legionnaire has an evil doppelganger.)

Before she can finish the job, a strange portal appears and whisks Micro Lad away.

On her home planet of Winath, the retired Light Lass is enjoying life harvesting giant mushrooms (as well as a lesbian romance, it's unclear). Her retirement is rudely interrupted when she’s attacked and kidnapped through one of those same portals.

The Legionnaires arrive on Takron-Galtos to find a young Daxamite, still every much enthralled to the dark lord Darkseid.  Here he is incinerating a non-believer with his heat vision.



(Like I said, more violent than your average happy superhero comic from the time.  Also, I love how everything in this story has history behind it.  Shrinking Violet’s obvious grudge against Micro Lad.  The Great Darkness Saga still leaving scars behind.  You’d think this would intrigue comic fans, but most seem to be repelled by it in the case of the Legion.)

Mon-El and the others are not very happy about this, but before he can be recaptured, the Daxamite boy disappears into another one of those portals.

CHAPTER TWO

The captive Light Lass receives a visit from her older brother, who definitely seems far more crazed and far more dangerous than he had ever been before.

The newly formed Legion of Super-Villains is executing the first phase of their plan, attacking a fusion powerspheres manufacturing planet, when they are interrupted by Wildfire and Dawnstar (probably my favorite couple in all of comics).



Legion headquarters gets the news, and Element Lad prepares to organize a counter-offense.

Wildfire’s containment suit is predictably destroyed, leaving Dawnstar on her own against three villains.  She’s seriously injured before Mon-El and Ultra Boy arrive as backup.  The villains escape into another one of their portals with the powerspheres.

Dawnstar and Wildfire get patched up while Cosmic Boy updates the retired, and pregnant, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl.



(If I may be a guy for a moment, Dawnstar is the sexiest character in all of comics.)

Elsewhere, Lightning Lord calls to order a meeting of this new Legion of Super-Villains.



(Much like in the best Avengers story ever, Under Siege, I love when the villains stop playing by imaginary comic book rules and assemble a large enough team to give the heroes a real challenge.  Much like in that Avengers story, the LSV here is done being cartoon super villains, and are displaying a new sense of ruthlessness that makes them seem like a real threat.)

Back at Legion headquarters, Element Lad has called in every off-duty leaguer he can, but they’re still short-manned.

Next, the LSV are attacking the polymer screen that surrounds the Earth, which serves various environmental purposes.

Element Lad, Lighting Lad, and Saturn Girl arrive to fight them off, but the villains escape into another portal with the polymer screen.  As a result of the action, Saturn Girl goes into labor.

On Orando, Karate Kid and Queen Projectra are ambushed on their return home.  Mist Master and Hunter use Karate Kid’s Legion ring to send out a distress signal to the rest of the league.



The Legion of Super-Villains have set a trap for them.

CHAPTER THREE

Already stretched thin, the Legion of Super-Heroes arrive on Orando in full force.

Elsewhere, Dawnstar can only watch as Mon-El, Ultra Boy, and Wilfire disappear into another strange portal.


Back at Legion headquarters, only Cosmic Boy and Invisible Kid remain after the rest of the team leaves for Orando.  Cosmic Boy gets a much needed call for support from the Legion of Substitute Heroes.

On Orando, Light Lass can only look on from her cell at Karate Kid and Projectra, who both appear to be in bad shape.  Lightning Lord arrives with one last plea to his sister to join him.



Light Lass refuses, and so he brutally shocks her with his bioelectric powers.

Dream Girl wakes up in a crash after their ship was attacked on approach to Orando, and is shocked to see the castle from her prophetic dream.



In Orando space, the Legionnaires are outnumbered and fighting for their lives against the LSV.



It’s not going great, but thankfully reinforcements from Earth have arrived.



While the battle continues, another group of villains finishes installing the polymer screen and power spheres around Orando.

Planetside, the Legion of Super-Heroes begin to turn the tide of the battle.



Using the power spheres as a boost to his natural abilities, Zymyr space warps all of the LSV members out of the battle, along with a few heroes.


Back on Earth, Saturn Girl and baby are recovering nicely.  Cosmic Boy checks in on his two oldest friends, suggesting that maybe the Legion needs some new blood.



(Imra is breast-feeding in this scene, which would have been pretty edgy for comics at the time.  It’s still controversial today in real life for some reason, when it shouldn’t be.  Like Drax says, we Earthers have hangups.)

Orando, the Legion is confused and bickering after the villains disappear with some of their friends.  Their confusion only multiplies as they watch all of Orando disappear into another space warp.



Somewhere beyond the known universe, Nemesis Kid celebrates his victory.  The next phase in the evil plan of the Legion of Super-Villains has begun.

CHAPTER FOUR

Nemesis Kid presides over his Legion of Super-Villains, many of whom were eager to continue fighting instead of “running away.”  Tyr in particular, is intent on challenging his authority.

A few of the others squash Tyr’s attempted disruption, and remind them all that they need to continue working together this time, if they’re finally to defeat the Legion.

Back in former Orando space, the Legion try to piece together what happened.  Brainiac 5 correctly surmises that since Dawnstar can no longer track their missing friends, they may have been taken into another dimension or plane of existence.

In her cell, Light Lass is shocked when her bonds mysteriously explode after she slams them against the wall in frustration.



She finds the recently captured Legionnaires in bonds next to Karate Kid and Projectra.  Not wanting to alert the LSV, she leaves to try and find a way to contact the LSH.

Karate Kid initially agrees, but realizes after she’s gone that their bonds must be draining their willpower.  Defiantly, he fights back against the machine, breaking himself free.



Light Lass was able to stow away on a craft, but soon finds out its full of villains on their way back to Orando to kill the Legion.  Before they can leave, she shorts out the controls knocking out three of her opponents, and stands alone against the remaining two.



Little do they know her original lightning powers have returned.

(One of the original conceits for the Legion of Super-Heroes is that no member could duplicate another member’s powers.  Lightning Lad and Lass being twins with the same powers, Lass wasn’t initially allowed to be a member of the team.  To correct this, her powers eventually evolved through shenanigans into where she could alter the gravity of objects, making them lighter.  Thus, she became Light Lass.  This was dumb, and justly overturned here.)

Dream Girl contacts Cosmic Boy at Legion headquarters, worried that he is an easy target.  Cosmic Boy eases her fears, having called in the Substitute Heroes as backup.

Now free, Element Lad and the other captive Legionnaires decide to strike first at the power spheres, while Karate Kid decides to take on Nemesis Kid alone.



(Nemesis Kid and Karate Kid both auditioned for the league at the same time, but Nemesis Kid was doing it to infiltrate the team on behalf of the alien Khunds.  He tried to frame Karate Kid as the traitor, but failed, and subsequently fled.  Apparently, he still holds a grudge about it.)

Element Lad and his team are greeted at the power spheres by Cosmic King and his team.  (Element Lad and Cosmic King both have transmutation abilities.)

On the ground, Karate Kid is losing badly to Nemesis Kid.  In the air, the rest of the Legionnaires aren’t faring much better, failing to destroy the power spheres. Projectra intervenes to try and save her husband, but her illusions aren’t of much help here.  Nemesis Kid begins brutally beating her, spurring Karate Kid back to his feet, to save his wife.



Karate Kid is still no match for his more powerful opponent, but he does successfully get his flight ring back from the villain.  Projectra pleads with him to flee, to save himself.



Karate Kid refuses, believing that it’s too late for him, but not for Orando.  Karate Kid flies straight into the power spheres, sacrificing himself to stop the Legion of Super-Villains.



CHAPTER FIVE

Projectra cradles the charred remains of her husband as the Legion of Super-Villains slowly surround her.



The only remaining conscious Legionnaire on site is Lightning Lass.  Frightened but determined to save her friends, she lands and prepares to face them all alone.  Before they can attack her, they are stopped by Lightning Lord.



Back in former Orando space, the science police request that the Legion return to Earth immediately.  As deputy leader, Dream Girl orders them to go, leaving behind Brainiac 5, Mon-El, Shadow Lass, and Sun Boy.

Sister and brother are locked in furious combat. Eventually, Ayla prevails but still stands alone against the rest of the villains.  Fortunately, as Element Lad and the others arrive just in time, “no Legionnaire EVER stands alone.”



Spurred by a new resolve and fueled by grief and anger, the Legion of Super-Heroes quickly turn the tide against the Legion of Super-Villains.

A furious Projectra hunts down Nemesis Kid.  Nemesis Kid initially shrugs off her illusions, but is stunned when he looks into her eyes.  She grabs him by the neck.



In her words, “my ancestors were wizards and kings, conquerors.  You are a common killer – a mad dog accidentally born in human form.”

“I need no power to destroy you – save the strength born in my blood,” and then she snaps his neck.



Brainy, Mon-El, Shady, and Ultra Boy are there in former Orando space to meet and defeat the villains attempting to flee.  But Brainy is not able to reverse Orando’s fate.

Back on Orando, Projectra vows to never leave Orando again after this tragedy.



They will secede from the United Planets, and finish their journey into another dimension.  Her former Legion teammates are free to leave with their captive villains in tow, but never to return.



As they travel back to the correct dimension, the Legionnaires are ambushed by Esper Lass and left stranded and drifting in unspace. 

That’s where we end it for now, my fellow Legionnaires.  The Baxter series pushed the series to another level, a natural evolution from the recent success of The Great Darkness Saga.  A longtime character was killed, another banished to a different dimension.  Necks were snapped, and breasts were fed.  In the ‘80s, writers like Levitz and Roger Stern were finally starting to realize that villains wouldn’t play fair, and implement that ideology into the stories.  Banding together a large cast of opponents gave the story a real sense of uncertainty, and established high stakes for the heroes to overcome.  They did not emerge unscathed.

This was the kind of “realism” that was making comics interesting at the time.  Not the “grim and grittiness” of it, but establishing a legitimate sense of danger for the heroes.  The most important thing for a comic book story, or any story, is the illusion that the hero might actually lose, even if you logically know in your brain that they will not.  That’s the whole trick, and the goal.  This story achieved that and more.

What more could you ask for?





Jan 12, 2018

The Deep Romance of Nell Brinkley’s Golden Eyes

Nell Brinkley, who died in late 1944, was and is the Queen of Comics. While we tend to emphasize superhero and gag comics in every era, Brinkley’s romances and her humor comics all sold fantastically, and her looks were so influential they not only spawned lookalikes and general terms in the fashion industry, but straight out trademarked accoutrements. Nell Brinkley was big stuff. And, her 1918-19 “Golden Eyes” and Her Hero “Bill”, a comic that ran the full cover of The American Weekly in all Hearst papers of the time, is so full, so gorgeous, both energetic and at once languid, so articulate, that it pains me to think, no matter how good much of the Golden Age boom, twenty years after “Golden Eyes”, the art and the writing were almost completely a step down in terms of technique, breadth, maturity, and human scale.


Golden and Splendid
The Deep Romance of Nell Brinkley’s Golden Eyes
Travis Hedge Coke

The free-wheelin’ quotation marks, revitalized by Jack Kirby in the 1970s, may here, too, appear less than literary, but consider the job they do. They isolate these names and make it clear they are stand ins, they are types, types for which innumerable couples could be swapped in for, not in their precise actions, their specific details, but the broad and most true romance they represent. “Golden Eyes” and Her Hero “Bill” is not only about a woman called Golden Eyes and her Bill, that is, her love; it is the story of us.

This is the language of Brinkley, every trick in the book thrown in where they fit, to build up a bric-a-brac castle that shines in dozens of colors, a myriad of reflective hues and glinting colors. The text is built up from run on sentences, quotation marks, all-caps, italics, breathless descriptions. The images, lush, flowing, conflicting and unified, like the flickers of a fire racing together to form a flame.

An example:

“So it came that 'Golden Eyes’ found her lover’s arms, in a square of a half-shattered, still smiling, French town behind the lines; while the sky of France looked on, and French and British and American eyes, under cap and steel and faded, blue-velvet ‘Blue Devil,’ covered them with envy, and lingered long on the spectacle of their joy. Found them, just for a breathless space set like a rare jewel in the dull metal of ‘Golden Eyes' and ‘Bill,’ long eternity apart, while he waited to go into the big push with his new strange pals and his old ones, and ‘Golden Eyes’ was driving a canteen-supply lorry. ‘Love’ and ‘Uncle Sam’ were speechless and star-eyed.”

That’s fire.

And, the pages look like this:



Jesus! You know?

If her dog doesn’t tear that spy’s throat out, she’s going to jam her parasol’s handle right into his heart. The knitting falling, the beautiful intricacy of her hair and the folds of her dress, those flowers descending down the back, making curls that bring the eye back up. The texture of he wicker chair, the bark on background trees. That dog has personality coming out of his cute little ears! The water jetting from the fountain arcs with implausible ribbon-like elegance. It is immaculate. And, it is also frenetic and messy. So much of what I adore about modern Bill Sienkiewicz’s art, as well as George Perez’s and Emma Rios’ is contained, illumined and poetic, in Brinkley’s use of free-running lines and immaculate jabs of innovation building on each other into unpredictably greater wholes.

As with Sienkiewicz, I have no trouble referring to Brinkley or her work as masterful. I do not know if any influence is direct, nor does it hugely matter. Brinkley set standards. It took comics another four decades or more after her death, to get back to where she was even early in her career. “Golden Eyes” is not a young person’s comic, nor an old fart’s. The comic is “timeless,” in the sense that it remains fresh and strongly affecting now. The fashions are out of date, the techniques and reproduction are older, but the comic remains affecting. It reaches into its audience and transfigures.

We can all be, then or today, “Golden Eyes” or her “Bill.” But, Golden Eyes and Bill, they cannot be replicated. Many artists and authors have built on what Brinkley wrought. Some have deliberately imitated, others merely growing out of the field that came before them. But, “Golden Eyes” and Her Hero “Bill” cannot be done again. We get it one time, perfect and true in itself enough at full strength only once. Lucky for us, that once, is eternal.

Jan 10, 2018

The MCU Roundtable: The Incredible Hulk

If you’re anything like us, than you were blown away when the first Avengers: Infinity War trailer dropped.  The extended Comics Cube family was so excited that we have decided to embark upon a full re-watch of the Marvel Studios film series.  Every week we are going to watch and provide a roundtable discussion about each Marvel movie in release order.  Last week, we started with Iron Man.  Next is the redheaded stepchild of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Countdown to Avengers: Infinity War
The Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk was the second part of the initial two movie plan for Marvel self-financing and producing their own movies.  It was released on June 13, 2008 and made $55 million on its opening weekend.  It ended its theatrical run at $134 million in the United States and $263 million total worldwide.  It is easily the least financially successful of the Marvel Studios films.



MATTHEW: I found it to be an enjoyable movie overall.  Not one of Marvel’s best by any means, but making Hulk fun in a solo outing is hard to pull off anyway.  It told its story well, and solidly established the character.

MATT: I watched it for the first time after I saw The Avengers.  I think the heart rate thing is a good idea to convey the sense of constant control Banner is under.  Post-Avengers, this obviously doesn’t work (I think Bruce always being angry is a better decision overall).  The plot and goal of the film is utterly forgettable.  The Hulk is an excuse for destruction, which we get.  Its sort of “meh” forgettable movie.  We do get Ty Burrell as Doc Samson.  The movie is lost potential because the character isn’t compelling as a lead since Hulk smash, not talk.

BEN: It’s about as good as a Hulk movie can be, I think.

MATT: Yes, I think we will just damn it with faint praise.

BEN: This is the first time I’m noticing the Universal Studios title card at the beginning.  (Universal has owned the Hulk movie rights ever since the television series.)

JD: When this film had its midnight release, I was assigned the task of splicing the film together (back when that was a thing, now they come in hard drives instead of 5-7 reels of film).  Somehow a couple reels were mislabeled.  So in my “cut” of the film, Tim Roth is in the hospital for some reason and then gets kicked by the Hulk.  Had to give over 400 refunds and I was demoted.  I eventually earned my old job back, so happy ending I guess.

BEN: A couple friends and I went to the midnight showing of this expecting it to be a madhouse.  We were the only people there.

JD: It wasn’t packed, it was on two screens.  I had somehow messed both of them up.

DUY: Fun fact, supposedly this, Iron Man 2, and Thor all take place in the same week.  It’s all covered in a comic series called “Fury’s Big Week,” but you can splice it together with Coulson’s appearances.

BEN: It’s about as good as a Hulk movie can be, I think.
MATT: Yes, I think we will just damn it with faint praise.


BEN: So since they decided to skip doing an origin again, we’re to understand that Banner has been Hulk for quite some time before Stark became Iron Man?

TRAVIS: He’s had a few years, at least.

DUY: I like that they just went through the origin in the opening credits.  The Hulk’s the character the general public knew the most about beforehand.  Spider-Man too, and that’s the other movie with a skipped origin.

BEN: Leterrier’s first choice for Bruce Banner was ironically Mark Ruffalo, but Marvel insisted on Norton.  I can’t imagine Norton in the Avengers movies at all, but (at the risk of Samantha’s wrath) I also can’t really see Ruffalo shouldering a solo Hulk movie.  I see him as a better ensemble player than a leading man.  Regardless, leading a Hulk movie is a nearly impossible acting job.

SAMANTHA: Nah, I can agree with it.  Mark is better in supporting roles or, like you said, in an ensemble cast.  Also, the Hulk movies have failed so many times that I feel like making another one would be like beating a dead horse.

LAMAR: The Hulk is the one character that makes destruction porn a fine art with a purpose.  The scope hasn’t been big enough in his solo movies so they’d have to blow it out even more than The Avengers or Thor: Ragnarok did.

BEN: David Duchovny was also considered for Banner.  Eric Bana was asked to return but declined.  Ray Stevenson was considered for Emil Blonsky.

LAMAR: I think Roth was perfect for Blonsky because he gives off that vindictive, overcompensating attitude naturally, so it wasn’t a stretch for him in that role.

BEN: I’m a Roth fan, so I thought he was great in this part.  I’m actually somewhat disappointed he “wasted” his Marvel role on this.

LAMAR: He was great in Hoodlum too, that’s my favorite thing he’s done.

TRAVIS: I loved the loom of this movie.  It’s shot really well, and the color-coding is Ghostbusters subtle.

BEN: Early nitpick, during the martial arts training scene, I don’t care how zen you are, physical activity raises your heart rate.

DUY: So the Hulk isn’t triggered by anger so much as heart rate, right?  He’s about to Hulk out when he and Liz are getting it on, and he’s not angry then…

BEN: “You wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry" was several years too early to become a Snickers ad.

MATTHEW: I loved the battle with the military, and him booting Blonsky into a tree.

BEN: I remember getting really excited about how dynamic a fighter Roth was in that scene, because I felt like it was a taste of how Captain America was going to be on-screen.

MATTHEW: Yep, my friends and I all thought the same thing.  We knew Cap was going to be an ass-stomping machine.

DUY: I remember thinking then if Blonsky could do all that, The Dark Knight had no excuse for making Batman so ineffective.

LAMAR: The Captain America easter egg was well done too.

DUY: Blonsky/Hulk actually makes me want to see Steve/Hulk.

JEFF: I would like to have seen the military using heavier ordinance against the Hulk.  As bad as Lee’s Hulk was, at least he used tanks and jets, seemed like the military was holding back when they got to engage the Hulk.

MATTHEW: Too populated of an area.  Also, I’m pretty sure they laid on him with an A-10, that’s definitely not holding back.

BEN: I was going to say, it’s irresponsible they attacked him without provocation on a college campus to begin with.

MATTHEW: Irresponsible use of military resources is Ross’s specialty.

"It’s shot really well, and the color coding is Ghostbusters subtle."   -Travis

BEN: Roth’s subdued manic performance leading up to this final battle is great.  “Where is it?  Show it to me.”

TRAVIS: The novelization picks a random white walk-on to call Amadeus Cho.  Had that made it into the movie… it would not have aged well for them.

BEN: The Leader is one of the great abandoned teases of the MCU.

MATTHEW: For sure.  With the wild, colorful look of their movies, the Leader would make for a great, zany villain.

BEN: Especially since Tim Blake Nelson was throwing heat in his five minutes of screen time.

MATTHEW: He’s got the right facial structure… he would look creepy as hell as the Leader.

DUY: The Leader still needs to show up.

BEN: Marvel loves “Hulk falling out of an aircraft” bits.  Maybe that’s why Ragnarok’s didn’t work for Duy.

DUY: Ragnarok’s didn’t work for me because it’s that time in the movie when things are getting serious, and by that time there had been enough jokes.  But it also go the loudest laugh each time I watched it, so that do I know.

BEN: This end fight, it can’t be understated how much CGI has continued to get better and better since this movie.

DUY: It’s dated now, but I remember thinking that final fight scene was the best fight scene I’d ever seen in a superhero movie.

MATTHEW: It’s dated, but it’s not terrible.  I’d love to see Abomination get another go in a future movie, small role, but a big scary tough for a main villain.

DUY: Abomination is part of my future Masters of Evil when I take over the MCU.

TRAVIS: Abomination is one of the great Marvel villains.

BEN: Even just two movies into our re-watch, I feel like that whole “Marvel has a villain problem” narrative is overblown.  Who are we comparing them to, Heath Ledger?

MATTHEW: But Ledger had dogs… that’s a legit threat.

BEN: But were they Hulk Dogs?

MATTHEW: I don’t care what people think about that movie.  The scene with the Hulk Dogs was awesome.  Also, if Bale could barely handle a couple Rottweilers, what’s he going to do with a Hulk Dog?

BEN: Scream at it, most likely.

DUY: DC’s villains through five movies have been far worse.  Zod was the best one they had, and even then his acting was terrible.

"I remember thinking then if Blonsky could do all that, The Dark Knight had no excuse for making Batman so ineffective." -Duy

BEN: That Stark teaser doesn’t make much sense in hindsight.

TRAVIS: Didn’t they expand it into an one-shot short?

BEN: Did they?

TRAVIS: They flesh it out, so they sent Tony specifically because he’s annoying as hell.  And, because he owes them a favor.

CHRISTOPHER: I liked and enjoyed this movie more than I thought I would despite its rather thin plot.  Norton really made it work as a solo movie the way Ruffalo fit well in the ensemble of The Avengers.  I do feel like what makes the Hulk difficult to be a standalone thing, whether in comics or film, is that there’s just so many ways Hulk can smash stuff.  This also made me think his supporting cast is not that fleshed out or interesting enough to warrant another solo outing for Hulk. Unlike Frank Castle who really can just be a force of nature in his own series the way Rucka did him in the comics. Not that that’s bad, but I feel like you get my point.

LAMAR: Marvel could do shorts of the Hulk either before the movie starts or after it ends, about ten minutes or so each, instead of making one long movie they may not see a real return on.

MATT: That’s basically been Ruffalo’s suggestion.  Splice all the pieces from his appearances together and you basically get a Hulk movie. About as coherent as any they’ve done.

DUY: You may have to go with one of the other Hulk variations to really sustain two hours.  Professor Hulk, Mr. Fixit… Savage Hulk just relies too much on Banner.

BEN: The problem with any Hulk movie is the same as it is in the comics, Banner is just a really tough hang.  By the very nature of his situation, he’s depressed and beaten.  It’s remarkable that Ruffalo has been able to infuse any bit of charm into a character that’s living in a nightmare that won’t end.  Banner’s main focus is to get rid of the character you came to see.

DUY: The Hulk’s got the same problem as the original Swamp Thing or The Fugitive, which is the fact that you know the premise (a cure) will never be realized.  The overall arc of the Hulk since since in the MCU seems to be Banner slowly coming to accept that the Hulk is a part of him and then living with it every day of his life, which makes more sense to me and is more sustainable.  Can you imagine if every single Wolverine story was about him finding a way to be rid of his powers?  That would just suck.  The best Wolverine is when he’s trying to come to terms with who and what he is.

TRAVIS: The Fugitive ran for how many seasons, though? The A-Team, same thing. This is a thing you can do and succeed with. Dude on the run is a proven formula. Unless you screw it up.

MATT: They got 5 seasons of Bixby/Ferrigno too.

LAMAR: It’s funny how the tone of our dialogue suggests that this is the first post-Bixby Hulk movie, but this movie is a vast improvement over the previous Ang Lee film in pretty much every way you can think of.

BEN: We’ve been pretty critical, but it’s a good movie.  It’s the definition of “just fine.”

MATT: It’s far and away better than any Snyder DC movie.  Like not even close.

DUY: The Ang Lee film was prettier.

LAMAR: Who want to see a pretty ass Hulk movie?

PETER: The Ang Lee film was slow and boring.  However, I remember really liking that comic panel effect they did to show split screen shot scenes and transitions.  Very clever, I thought.

TRAVIS: The pretty parts of Lee’s are so disconnected from the movie that they start to count against.  This movie is really shot nicely.  It looks, overall, better to me and has a better use of location for ambience.

DUY: Well, yeah, the panels thing would have been better suited for someone like Spider-Man or Plastic Man or even the Fantastic Four, but I’m just saying the Ang Lee film is nicer to look at.

BEN: We’ve talked about it a bit already, so who are we going to award the “Best Supporting Character?”  Candidates include Liv Tyler as Betty Ross, Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky, William Hurt as General “Thunderbolt” Ross, Ty Burrell as Doc Samson, and Tim Blake Nelson as Samuel Sterns.

TRAVIS: Roth definitely, but, seriously, the rest are the best we’re going to have cast in those roles.

BEN: Liv was okay, but she didn’t scream Betty to me.  Hurt is a perfect General Ross.  Like I said earlier, Nelson killed in his 5 minutes.  But yes, this is Roth’s movie.

TRAVIS: She was a shockingly better Betty than we had previously had.

BEN: She was good, she might just be too “Liv Tyler” for me.

TRAVIS: That was Jennifer, for me.  I had hopes, but all I got was Jennifer Connelly saying lines in a movie about wood, lightning, and father complexes.

BEN: Connelly, wood, and lightning is a sexy combination.  But yeah, she’s too pretty for my idea of Betty.

DUY: I don’t think Liv Tyler is a good enough actress to be anyone other than Liv Tyler.  Having said that, it’d be interesting to see her with Ruffalo.

BEN: I also similarly had a hard time ever forgetting that Edward Norton was Edward Norton playing Bruce Banner.

TRAVIS: Ed Norton was the weakest Banner, but also the one who had the most believable anger issues.

LAMAR: He’s believable as somebody that’s prone to get angry, but not in the way that I’d buy that he’d actually do something about it.  That was the disconnect for me with him, seeing him as the guy that changes into the Hulk was almost impossible because he looks and acts like he’s too soft to even get to the point of getting worked up.

BEN: No wood and lightning for that guy.

LAMAR: You know that video where the Asian dad smashes his son’s PlayStation with the sledgehammer, and the son just stands there and watches it happen and starts crying and yelling and shit?  Ed Norton.

BEN: He’s basically his character Worm from the greatest movie ever made, Rounders.

DUY: The Ang Lee film was prettier.
LAMAR: Who want to see a pretty ass Hulk movie?


BEN: Who gets the “Val Kilmer in Tombstone award" for who “owned” the movie with the best performance?  It’s still Roth right?

DUY: Yeah, it’s easily still Roth.  Funny you just named it that, because in the Ang Lee film, Ross was played by Sam Elliott, who played Virgil Earp in Tombstone.

BEN: He was way too charming for Ross.

Jeff: I’d say Roth.

Matt: Roth does seem to be in a different movie where people don’t shit their pants at the sight of a giant green murder machine, so yeah, him.

DUY: Finally, what comic would you recommend to anyone who liked this movie?

JEFF: Return of the Monster.

BEN: Future Imperfect.  I also liked Waid’s take from a few years ago.

DUY: I might actually just go with The End.

BEN: The End and Future Imperfect are the cliché recommends.

DUY: I know I’ve said we shouldn’t limit it to comics featuring the character himself but it’s been two movies and I can’t think of any.

TRAVIS: Bruce Jones or Paul Jenkins runs.  Both psychological/family on-the-run thriller types.  Or, Garth Ennis’ Hulk Smash, just because, hey, Garth Ennis.


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