Stuff I’ve Never Read – “The Avengers” #167 thru #177

Guardians-of-the-GalaxyIn my quest to better know the Guardians of the Galaxy, I’ve been trolling the archives of the classic Marvel comics. And despite realizing that the upcoming movie is based on the 2008 team rather than the original group, I decided to continue to begin at the beginning.

In “The Avengers” #167 to #177, Marvel teams up the current roster of Avengers with the original team of Guardians of the Galaxy. The Guardians travel back through time while tracking the powerful enemy, Korvac. They make contact with the Avengers, seeking help when they realize that Korvac plans to change history.

It makes sense to team up the Guardians and the Avengers because they have a similar nature to their teams. Both teams are made up of disparate members, each using their own particular skill sets to help the team as a whole.

The downside to that mash-up is that these are really busy stories with some very full panels and pages. That’s what happens when you take half a dozen plus Avengers and stick them in a room with just as many Guardians.

Writer Jim Shooter and various artists valiantly try to juggle all the characters and the story, but there’s still a lot going on. Probably a bit too much.

Still, there’s some particularly beautiful and imaginative artwork and panel-work in the second half of issue #168, featuring a cosmic duel that goes on for several pages. And there are some fun inter-personal conflicts among both teams, which is always entertaining.

The final issue, #177, is pretty much completely filled with the final battle against Korvac. After a crazy, long war of superpowers, the battle only ends from two acts of great love. Well, that and one full-page beauty shot.

Next time, I am going to move on to some stories from the 2008 team. Hopefully that will be the correct version!

UPDATED: Mos Espa Being Swallowed by Desert

UPDATED 04/10/14: Wanna help? You can contribute to the preservation efforts here:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/save-mos-espa

 

ORIGINAL STORY: 10/30/13

If you want to visit Mos Espa, you’d better act fast!

As any Star Wars fan knows, Tatooine was created as an actual set for The Phantom Menace, in the far-flung desert of Tunisia. After the movies were completed, at the request of the government, the set was not torn down afterward.

And in the years since, these 10-20 half-completed, ramshackle buildings and false fronts have become what must be Tunisia’s strangest tourist attraction. Star Wars fans from all over the world bounce through the desert in 4-wheel-drives in order to worship at a shrine of the Star Wars saga.

However, the sand dunes have begun to reclaim Mos Espa. Scientists are studying what’s called a barchan, which is a sort of crescent-shaped sand dune that travels with wind erosion. The particular barchan that currently threatens Mos Espa has been travelling toward the set at a rate of 15 meters per year.

Unfortunately, an even larger barchan looms over the site as well, and scientist Ralph Lorenz believes that it will cover the set in about 80 years. Well, it will cover what wasn’t already destroyed by the current, smaller barchan dune.

The scientists studying it are actually excited that the dune is swallowing Mos Espa, because the buildings give them a reliable way to measure and learn about the movement of the sand.

There’s some hope that the nearby city of Tozeur will take some mitigation efforts to protect its tourism destination, beating back the sand. So far, though, nothing is being done.

As a Star Wars fan, I’m sad, of course. I hate to see it go without a fight. But some part of me is tickled at the idea of archaeologists in future generations digging up these strange ruins and wondering what kind of society lived in Mos Espa. What rituals, they will ask, did the natives perform with strange, nonfunctioning pieces of 90′s technology glued to cardboard fake walls?

It kinda makes me wonder if this hasn’t happened before? What if we’ve uncovered ancient Greek costume drama props and paraded them around in our museums thinking them real?

You have to wonder…

So, if you’re a Star Wars mega-fan and Tunisia is on your bucket list, you should consider moving up your plans. Because soon, Mos Espa really will only exist a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Review – Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, “Turn, Turn, Turn”

image courtesy: www.abc.go.com

image courtesy: http://www.abc.go.com

 

Have you watched last night’s episode of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD yet? Feel the need to discuss it? Me too!

I’ve posted this review to my SPOILER POSTS page, due to massive spoilers about the episode’s big surprises. Also, spoilers about Captain America: The Winter Soldier, in case you haven’t seen that yet either.

Go and read my thoughts, then share your own!!

 

10 Things to Watch For in ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

Avengers_tower

I’ve updated my SPOILER POSTS page with a new post:  10 Things to Watch For in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  I’m not posting it on the front page because it’s filled with spoilers.  Winter Soldier has a ton of Easter Eggs, and I’ve put together my personal favorites.  Comics fans, MCU fans, and even certain shippers will love some of these hidden gems!

Go check it out!

Movie Review – ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

captain-america-winter-soldier-1

NOTE: THIS IS THE NON-SPOILER REVIEW! IF YOU WANT THE SPOILER-FILLED REVIEW, CLICK HERE.

 

“Before we get started, does anyone want to get out?”

As a Marvel fan, I’ve been waiting for this sequel ever since the first one came out. I initially had doubts about Chris Evans playing Captain America and about the writers’ ability to adapt him to a modern audience. I was totally wrong. Captain America: The First Avenger became one of my favorite films in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.

So, how does the sequel compare?

As you may know already, this movie has a very different style and tone. It’s darker and employs less humor than the first (which is odd, given the war setting of the first movie!), and has a more complex plotline. There’s an intentional juxtaposition from the first movie where the heroes and villains were obvious to this movie about secrets and lies and betrayal among friends. So don’t go into The Winter Soldier expecting a rehash of The First Avenger.

It’s also not really a Winter Soldier movie. It’s a spy movie that happens to have the Winter Soldier in it. I feel like using the subtitle is a misnomer – possibly even a bit of marketing fraud.

So, what is it, then?

It’s been compared to an international spy thriller, which could be the most accurate comparison. Steve and Natasha spend a lot of time on the road in civvies trying to hunt down secrets and ferret out traitors. There’s a mystery to solve and a big, scary organization chasing them. And the fate of the world is at stake, of course, but threatened by our own human nature.

This plotline is the most relevant and modern that Marvel has done so far, too. It debates the merits of a surveillance state, of freedom vs security, and creating an ultra-connected world. It questions the morality of the ends justifying the means while also building on Iron Man 3’s notion of accidentally creating your own enemy.

It’s also a great action film. From the opening fight scenes on board a ship to the climactic battle in the air, kudos has to be given to the stunt crew and fight coordinators. Cap is given some excellent and worthy opponents, and the fight work is brutal and amazing. Cap is a true supersoldier in these fight scenes and shines better than he did in The Avengers.

But there’s still a lot of heart in this movie. It services the aftermath of Steve being frozen for 70 years and his adjustment to a world full of grey areas. There’s a fantastic partnership between Cap and Black Widow that’s a highlight of the movie. His friendship with Sam Wilson is organic and fun.

Speaking of heart, let’s talk characters specifically.

Anthony Mackie has a bit of a tough job in this movie because he’s coming in late to the game. He’s surrounded by established MCU characters and actors with whom the audience already has an investment. But he holds himself up well and gets a fair amount of screen-time. To be sure, Black Widow and Cap are the real stars of this film, but Sam gets his moments. He provides a nice third point in their triangle of different perspectives.

Oh, and the wings totally work! Iron Man might even be jealous…

captain-america-winter-soldier-falcon

The Winter Soldier himself does a good job with a lot of action and not a huge amount of emotional screen time. I loved his fighting scenes, but he’s also good at expressing his inner turmoil without much dialogue.

Scarlett Johansson continues to rock as Black Widow. I was also hesitant about her casting, but she was given some great material in The Avengers and benefits from good writing again. This movie isn’t about her, but she and Cap are a fabulous double-act. She also proves herself worthy of having her own movie. Pretty please, Marvel?

So how does it work as both a sequel and part of the larger universe?

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is both a blessing and a curse to the movies. It gives each movie a built-in audience and a built-in backstory. But, as many noticed about Iron Man 2, each movie must also serve the larger universe and tie into or lead into other films. In this movie, it ran the gamut from simple name-dropping to using other MCU characters to devoting plot time to setting up other stories.

The universe-building wasn’t particularly obnoxious, though, so I didn’t feel like the MCU was intruding too much. And on the flip side, this storyline really could not have happened without SHIELD and its characters having already been established in other movies. I think this means that, aside from The Avengers, this is the movie that has benefited most from the MCU in general. (Of course, it also has one of the biggest effects on the MCU itself, so kudos to Marvel for being willing to shake up the toybox! )

Like Steve, the movie hasn’t forgotten where it came from, either. It might be a part of the larger picture, but it’s still a sequel of The First Avenger. I’d recommend re-watching the first movie, but the sequel does provide a bit of an info-dump to bring the audience back up to date. And pay attention if you need to, because the first movie is actually very relevant to this second one.

So, what’s my final verdict?

Like its predecessor, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a solid, exciting movie on its own merits. It has some of the best action bits of all the Marvel movies so far (with a welcome focus on practical effects). The plot is complex but not overly difficult to follow, and it focuses on things our modern world is facing.

Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson make a great team and get good support from the rest of the cast. While some emotional elements might not get a lot of screen-time, we’re promised more emotional payoff in the third film.

Overall, there’s a good balance between thrilling action and character work, much like the first Cap movie as well. If you liked that movie, chances are you’ll enjoy the further adventures of Captain Rogers in the 21st Century!

PS: Stay for both the mid-credit scene and the post-credit scene. The first alludes to Avengers: Age of Ultron, and the second sets the stage for Captain America 3.

AGAIN: THIS IS THE NON-SPOILER REVIEW! IF YOU WANT THE SPOILER-FILLED REVIEW, CLICK HERE.