Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Mighty Thor, God of Thunder

It was sometime around 1976/77 that I found a UHF television station that had a huge block of cartoons that ran for good five hour block on Sunday afternoons. Rocky & Bullwinkle, Dudley Do Right, Underdog, George of the Jungle, The Archies, The Beatles and all of the the Marvel cartoons from the sixties and this where I discovered the Prince of Asgard, Thor Odinson, the God of Thunder and Defender of Midgard and the Realm Eternal.

I have to be honest, for the most part, I got my fill of Thor through the pages of the Avengers. Until I could buy my own comics, I had to depend on my parents so instead of buying issues of Captain America, Iron Man and Thor, I would pick out the Avengers where you could get all three characters in one book. I did grab issues of Thor from time to time though. For a kid in love with superheroes and fantasy, reading Thor was a no-brainer.

My first issue of Thor
I got my first issue of Thor as part of a reward for learning how to read. Because he was associated with the Avengers, the book fell under my mom's radar during the time she thought anything fantasy related was the work of the devil.

It wasn't until Walt Simonson started his legendary run on the book that I really started getting into the character. I've talked about my admiration for Walt's run here and I'm not going rehash all of that again. I'll just say if there were any one run of Thor that you have to read, Walt's run is it.

Thor #337, the start of Walt's run
Where Conan was the king of fantasy comics, Thor was in a league all of his own. Not only was he taking down major threats alongside the Avengers, but he was crossing the cosmos, jumping dimensions and fantasy realms; taking on demons, trolls, giants and cosmic threats of all shapes and sizes one day and putting a stop the Masters of Evil or the Wrecking Crew the next. Thor's supporting cast and rogue's gallery just made everything better and any issues of the Avengers or Thor that had the Black Knight and Thor together was a bonus.

After Walt's run on the books, everything that followed just seemed to pale in comparison. When the 90's came along, I couldn't read anything Marvel was putting out and I'm not going to rant on that. It wouldn't be until Kieron Gillen got his run on Thor that I returned to reading the book. I was glad to see the God of Thunder in the capable hands of Kieron, Matt Fraction and Jason Aaron.

Speaking of Jason Aaron and his work on Thor thus far, it is nothing short of amazing. Last night I read the first ten issues in one sitting, again. It is because of this that I have faith in Jason being able to make the Tenth Realm a good story even though I completely dislike the idea of it.

When it comes to my absolute favorite hero, it always comes down to three people; Spider-Man, Captain America and Thor. I could give you a different answer each time you asked me, but it's always one of those three. If you're a Thor fan, it's easy to see why, he is the superhero of superheroes.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Conan the Barbarian

As you all know by now, I discovered fantasy comic books at the family doctor's office. It was there that I read a few issues of Red Sonja, The Warlord and of course Conan the Barbarian.

I'm not going to get into a deep history of Conan's run in comics, because we would be talking about roughly 44 years worth of history.

It all started in July of 1970 when Conan the Barbarian #1 hit the racks, penned by Roy Thomas accompanied by the art of the legendary Barry Windsor-Smith. This first volume of Conan comic books ran a total of 287 issues over 23 years.

Conan #1 July 1970
In 1971 Conan headlined the first five issues of Savage Tales before being replaced by Ka-Zar. Three years later in June of 1974 Marvel unleashed the first Giant-Size Conan followed by the first issue of the Savage Sword of Conan magazine. The magazine benefited from not being under the jurisdiction of the Comics Code Authority, which allowed for greater violence and the occasional nude scene. Savage Sword like it's comic rack sibling lasted for 236 issues over 21 years. With that kind of longevity you can't deny that Conan is the fantasy king of comics.

Savage Sword of Conan #1
I can't remember who bought my first issue of Conan the Barbarian for me. I remember that it was the double sized 100th issue from the spring of 1979, around that time we moved from Stevensville to New Buffalo. I only had it for about two month before it got thrown away by my mom.

My first issue, Conan #100
Fast forward to December of 1979 when Marvel unleashed the first issue of King Conan. I don't know how it happened but I had managed to read the first twenty issues or so before we moved again. Some of those issues came to me under my mom's radar by way of relatives. Others however I was allowed to read while waiting for mom to get done shopping at the local Frank's Foodliner grocery store in town. As long as I didn't damage or attempt to steal the books, the store managers and cashiers couldn't care less how many comics I sat there and read while my parents were shopping. King Conan/Conan the King was a bi-monthly book that made it for 55 issues.

King Conan #1, December 1979
When Transformers came around in September of 1984, I had been swayed from fantasy to giant robots that could change into cars, jets and dinosaurs. It was until sometime in 1987 that I started diving back into fantasy more than I had been during the previous three years, well except for a certain thunder god. I would rummage through back issue bins for Conan comics but I wasn't hunting them down with same enthusiasm I had for superhero comics.
The first issue from Dark Horse
After Conan the Barbarian and Conan the King ended, Marvel attempted to revive the character a few times between 1994 and '95 but to no success. Conan would lie in limbo until Dark Horse gained the license and printed its first Conan comic in November of 2003. This was during my twelve year hiatus away from buying and reading comics. It is something that I want to read someday but is a huge undertaking.

Oh, I didn't forget this:

Sunday, April 27, 2014

How I Geek Episode 8 - Bored of Games

This week we discuss some of our favorite board/family games and talk about some of the geek news from C2E2 and the past week.

Our week in geek
New Friday the 13th television series
Ray Fisher cast as Cyborg for Superman/Batman
The death of Wolverine
Angela and Tenth Realm
A very brief history of board games
Our favorite family/board games
Honorable mentions
Geektrosities and more!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Angela and The Tenth Realm

I try very hard not to bash on a movie or story until I've seen it. That doesn't mean that I have to like or dislike the idea of it before reading or watching it.

It was teased some days ago that Thor and Loki have a long lost sister, a daughter of Odin.

An interesting idea and why not? It's not like Marvel has followed the myths and legends of Thor and Norse mythology with any degree of correctness. What irks me about it is who the sister has turned out to be. 


Now, before I continue let me reiterate that I am not going the bash the story until I've read it. Jason Aaron is writing it and so I have some faith that this will be a good story. I however absolutely do not like this idea. 

Marvel has never really had any characters tied to Heaven. There is most certainly a Hell in the Marvel Universe but in place of a Heaven, we get ancient pantheons and a cosmos filled with unimaginable beings that represent aspects like Eternity, Judgement, Entropy and the Universe itself. Why is there not room for an angelic like character in this universe? 

When I first read the news that Neil Gaiman sold Angela to Marvel I was ecstatic. Angela is one of my favorite characters. I knew they couldn't bring her happenings from the pages of Spawn with her and I was okay with that. I was happy because this was a  new character that could shore up some stuff on Marvels cosmic, supernatural and mythological side of things with no ties to any of the existing Marvel heroes. Maybe that was a poor assumption on my part. 

When Angela was brought into the Marvel Universe she was unique, she was special and one of kind. Something that Marvel never had before, an angel. Marvel has now taken that away by making her not only just another Asgardian but by making her Odin's daughter, the sister to Loki and Thor. What an honest, genuine and hurtful disappointment. 

To make things even more head scratchy is that, this is what Marvel supposedly had planned for Angela all along, even though neither the Guardians of the Galaxy nor the Sh'iar were able to identify what species Angela belonged to. Again, that made Angela unique. If she was of Asgardian blood, they would have detected that. What a load of crap. 

I should never be surprised when Marvel pulls this stuff. There is no need to have this character tied to anybody from the Marvel Universe. Why not let Angela continue to have that uniqueness, that something special by letting stay what she was? I don't get it and I honestly do hate this idea. Expect a rant on the show. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Warlord

Like Red Sonja and Conan, I discovered The Warlord sitting amongst the battered and ripped up comics at the family doctor's office. The Warlord was the only comic from DC that I can remember going out my to look for during my childhood, but rarely could ever find at the local grocery or drug store.

I had a mom and grandmothers that looked down on any almost everything fantasy related. This was close to when Dungeons & Dragons was starting to be called a machination of the devil and was "linked" to acts of violence and other crimes. Any interest I had in anything fantasy was shot down by my mom especially it looked like it could be related to D & D in any way. I remember sitting in the doctor's office hiding the fantasy comics in other books so that I wouldn't get caught reading them.

The first Warlord comic I owned was #24 from May of 1979. We had just recently moved to New Buffalo and while at the store I was told to pick something out to keep occupied while unpacking was done. I'm pretty sure that my mom wasn't around when I picked that comic out and I used to hide it under my mattress like it was a Playboy magazine.

Warlord #24, my first issue
I was never able to keep a my comics until I got older. To my mom they were disposable and when I was in that 6-10 year old range she would rummage through my room and pitch anything that wasn't a toy, clothes or a "real" book. It wasn't until I reached about twelve or thirteen that she stopped tossing my comics in the trash. Thus, I only have four of my Warlord comics from back then and there is very little from the series that I can actually remember.

1st Issue Special #8
The Warlord made his first appearance in DC's 1st Issue Special #8 in August 1975 and was created by legendary writer and artist Mike Grell. An Air Force pilot by the name of Travis Morgan is on spy mission over the Soviet Union when he gets spotted, gets chased, fired upon and eventually shot down. Morgan ejects from the plane successfully but instead of finding himself in an arctic environment he finds a jungle like world where magic and mythic creatures rule, Skartaris. Morgan becomes the Warlord, protecting the people of Skartaris, choosing a life of an adventurer and protector.

The first issue of The Warlord hit the racks in October of 1975 but after issue #2 the third issue wasn't seen until almost a year later. The Warlord went on for 139 total issues with Mike Grell doing the pencils through issue #52 and writing through #71. The Warlord would have make a return in 1992, 2006 and Mike Grell returned to writing the series in 2009 but it's the first run that really holds all of the magic to me. When the "Chaos at the Earth's Core" episode of Justice league Unlimited aired I may have squealed a little bit because it takes place in Skartaris with JL teaming up with Morgan against his rival Deimos and Metallo.

The Warlord #1
I've put a lot of thought into trying to build a complete run of the first volume. The issues can be found for decent prices. Not really having the room for more books, I did try Comixology but they only have two issues available.

With my mom, how did I manage to hold on to those four issues of Warlord? Sometime back in 1984 when looking for new hiding places I looked our bookcase in the living room and spotted the family bible. Our family bible was oversized and huge and it hadn't been touched in months if not years. So, that's where I hid them. I had actually forggotten about them until sometime around 1987/88 because the Transformers happened, but they were never found and I still have them today.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Azeroth Choppers Episode 1

Digging both frames but I got to say, Horde go home. 


Red Sonja

I've decided to start of my spotlight on fantasy comics with the she-devil with a sword, Red Sonja and for a few reasons. For starters and the most important reason being, she's a redhead. Did I not mention that I have a thing for redheads? There is also some interesting stuff going on with the character's creation and ownership which is exactly where we're going to start.

Red Sonja was not created by Robert E. Howard. She was however inspired by the character of Red Sonya of Rogatino from Howard's 1934 short story The Shadow of the Vulture. Howard's Sonya was also not associated with Conan or the Hyborian Age, in fact the character was of Polish-Ukrainian blood and was fighting against an Ottoman sultan in the the 16th century set around the Siege of Vienna and the Battle of Mohacs. Another difference is that Howard's Sonya was more of a gunslinger rather than a swordswoman.

The Red Sonja we're familiar with first appeared in Conan the Barbarian #23 which hit the racks on November 14, 1972. Written by Roy Thomas, drawn by Barry Windsor-Smith, inked by Sal Busecema, Chic Stone and Dan Adkins, and it features a Gil Kane cover. Sonja and Conan team up in a story, Shadow of the Vulture adapted and based on the original. We did not get Sonja's origin story until Kull and the Barbarians #3 on July 8, 1975 which has been updated.
Conan #23, Sonja's first appearance
It was Roy and Barry that brought Sonja into the Hyborian Age alongside Conan, but Marvel however never owned Sonja. Although I believe Marvel could have claimed a copyright on the Red Sonja character, to my knowledge they didn't even try, fearing a lawsuit from the Howard estate. To me the two characters are clearly different enough that Marvel could have won that case but instead ended up creating a new character for somebody else to claim ownership of. At least, that's how I understand it, I've put hours of research into it but couldn't find too much on that.

The subject of some controversy is Sonja's signature scalemail bikini. When first introduced Sonja was dressed a little more appropriately for a warrior. It was artist Esteban Maroto who sent an uncommissioned rendition of Sonja wearing the iconic bikini to Roy Thomas and it has been her armor of choice ever since. There have been instances in which the bikini was replaced with something more practical or covered.

Another subject of some concern is Sonja's origin which originally included the character being brutally raped and swearing a vow of chastity. This has remained in place until the newest series written by Gail Simone that offered a retelling in which Sonja was not raped, was not empowered by the goddess and made no vow.

Sonja's first series debuted on October 26, 1976 and ran for fifteen issues. Back in these days stores could return their unsold comics by ripping off the title portion of the cover and sending those to the publisher, but in return the stores were expected to destroy those unsold comics, which didn't happen often. This is how I found Sonja, in the pages of one of those ripped cover comics while sitting in a doctor office waiting room featuring the beautiful artwork of Frank Thorne. Right there you could stick a fork in me because I was done.
Red Sonja #1 October 1976
Under Marvel, Sonja had reappeared alongside Conan several times, had further solo series (none of which lasted long) and even fought alongside the webslinger himself, Spider-Man. In Marvel Team-Up #79, Peter Parker's girlfriend Mary Jane Watson is possessed by the spirit of Red Sonja teaming up with Spider-Man to stop the sorcerer Kulan Gath. The two team up against Kulan Gath and Venom in a crossover between Dynamite and Marvel. Sounds corny I know, but it's actually not that bad. Marvel's last published Red Sonja work was the 1995 Scavenger Hunt one-shot.

Marvel Team-Up #79
Dynamite began publishing a new volume of Red Sonja in 2005, and added Queen Sonja in 2009 along with a number of one-shots and mini-series. The newest ongoing in a reboot of the character written by the amazing Gail Simone of Batgirl and Birds of Prey fame. Dynamite's run with Sonja has been hit or miss for me. There were just times the writing fell flat and their seemed to be some continuity issues as well. Now that Gail is at the helm there's been a great deal of improvement. Another mini-series that seems out of place is the Red Sonja and Witchblade crossover from 2012 however it was done pretty well and was quite enjoyable. 
1985's Red Sonja film
The 1985 Red Sonja film is what it is. Not great, filled with some less than stellar acting and fight scenes but enjoyable and worth a watch. There was remake planned but it didn't go anywhere.

Sonja is who I based the majority of my characters on in my Dungeons & Dragons days. Sure I could have gone with the archetypes based on Conan, Aragorn, Legalos and others, but there was something in reading those Sonja comics all those years ago that told me that women can be the hero just well as any man, in many cases they make stronger heroes.

The next I'll be tackling Travis Morgan also known as The Warlord from DC Comics.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Fitness Challenge Days 2 & 3

Having been an athlete in high school doesn't help you twenty some years later unless you were smart enought o stay physically active. I've worked out before, this sin't my first attempt at trying to live a healthier lifestyle. I know you're supposed to get yourself loosened up before exercising. That didn't help me though on Monday when I started this as I ended up doing some real damage to the quads in my left leg. Feel fine otherwise.

I've been getting some extra walking in at work and on the treadmill just to keep the leg loose and still get at least some kind of exercise. Talked with my fitness coach (one of the benefits from my wife's job) and I'm taking her adive to to take it easy and change up the workouts in the same manner that Neila suggests, at least for awhile.

Working out in this manner is nothing new to me, I just have a bad habit of not sticking to a program for long. Something just went wrong this time around.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Can You Live This Fantasy Life?

One of the things I've mentioned on our podcast is how much I love the fantasy genre and fantasy comics. If you pull up fantasy comics on wikipedia or comixology, you get a mind blowing number of titles, and the kicker is that those aren't complete lists of what's out there. It leaves one wondering what are the staple fantasy titles, what titles are the cream of the crop and what are the hidden gems? I also have to ask how many of these are traditional fantasy titles? How many are sub-genres, cross genre or just on the borderline of even being fantasy?

I've read a decent number of fantasy titles for what I could get my hands on; growing up in a small town I was at the mercy of whatever comics the local grocery and drug stores had available, which really only ever consisted of DC's The Warlord or the various Conan titles from Marvel. Every so often you might be able to find an issue of Heavy Metal or Savage Sword of Conan among the magazines.

I'm going to do some spotlights here some of my favorite titles and characters are from comics, games and movies. You can blame this all on two titles going on right now, Rat Queens and Skullkickers. Along the way I might try to figure why certain titles/properties don't qualify as "fantasy" to me.

My love for fantasy sprouted sometime in 1979. I remember the family doctor's office having older Warlord, Conan and Red Sonja comics, the covers were never intact and although I wasn't interested in reading them at the time, I couldn't get enough of the imagery. Cartoons like Thundarr and Herculoids pushed it along and by 1981 fantasy films are what really put my fandom into a kick start. The day my dad had friends over to play Dungeons & Dragons was final nail in the coffin.

I'll be starting off with Conan, Red Sonja or Warlord, all of which I consider to be staple fantasy comics. It's been a very long time since I've read these and they go back to the 1970's, I'd say that they're must reads but can't say how well they hold up. So, until then keep an eye out for that and kudos if you got the reference in the post's title.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Fitness Challenge Day 1

Today I learned that a fat geek trying to exercise on a hardwood floor above a basement sounds like the Death Star exploding. I also learned that my knees hate me. May have to take Neila's advice for working out with bad knees until I shed at least some of the weight which is 238. First goal is the get down to 220, keep that 18 pounds off then work towards getting down to 200. I was shocked at how easy it was to drag myself out of bed early to even do this. We'll see how tomorrow goes.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The How I Geek Fitness Challenge

Earlier this year I wrote that I was going to get healhier, partly because I just need do it and I ekp seeing Neila Rey's geek themed workouts popping up on just about every forum that I'm on. I haven't been doing a great job of keeping on it. I had reached my heaviest weight of 245 and had gotten down to 228 but I've started slacking and gained ten pounds back.

I'm not an over eater. I don't eat a ton of junk food it's very rare for me to grab a candy bar, chips or Twinkies. I know exactly what my weaknesses are. Lack or "real" exercise is the biggest. I get about five miles of walking in a day at work , sometime more but my body is accustomed to that.

My biggest food vices are cereal, soda and pizza. I am a cereal killer and it's not just the sugary diabetic inducing goodness of peanut butter Cap'n Crunch, I can down a whole box of Cheerios, Wheaties or corn flakes in a day with no sugar added. I can eat cereal all day everyday and all of those carbs and dairy is a problem. I can go a few days without soda and my normal day is usually one can or bottle with lunch and dinner and I usually go for all natural sodas, nothing with high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners. It doesn't seem like to bad of a vice but, when I go long periods without soda, there comes a day of binge drinking which is not so good. As for the pizza, it's just so versatile. I don't eat that much, well every seven to ten days, every once in a great while maybe twice a week. There are so many variations and it's probably my go to comfort food.

That all said, I approached my friends and co-hosts with a fitness challenge using Neila's workouts and using our blogs and the show to track and share our progress, and maintain a level of accountability. John took me up on it and we're starting it tomorrow. We'll post each day's workout on our blogs and give updates on the show.

Support and well wishes are welcome.

How I Geek Episode Six

All the boys are here for some good ole' fashioned geek talk.

Our week in geek.
In memory - John Pinette, Mickey Rooney and the Ultimate Warrior.
Goonies sequel and Gremlins remake.
Battlestar Galactica.
WrestleMania 30.
Community GI Joe episode.
Guardians of the Galaxy.
Marvel Studios.
Adepticon and Warhammer 40K

Friday, April 11, 2014

All work and no raiding.

It's that time once again where in the life of a World of Warcraft expansion that people start or are already into the end of expansion blues. The game doesn't seem as fun, in some cases it feels like a job, logging in just for the sake of getting in game and doing anything.

I could level some alts but for what purpose? I could get back to working on my Loremaster achievements but that's feeling like work and isn't very fun right now. My guild stopped raiding on Fridays and is now raiding only on Saturday and Sunday. Finding a group to raid with on Friday's has not gone well at all and so I'm now left with nothing much to do. It sucks.

I'm considering dropping my subscription until Warlords of Draenor gets here. Guess I could put that $15 a month into my vinyl album collection until then. I'd rather be dropping Garrosh. I still need my dark shaman transmog set and would like to get some more shots at those heirlooms.

If any Alliance side raid teams need a spot filled for a 10/25 normal, I have an ilevel 559 enhancement shaman, Morvahnna on Vek'nilash that's available on Friday evenings. Since my guild dropped the Friday raids it's been awhile since I've been in Siege but I know the fights, might need to brush up on them though. Drop me a line or look for me in game. Doomseeker#1302.

I should probably update this.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

New Model For Female Draenei

Needles to say that I am in love and happy to see what's waiting for Morvhanna when Warlords go live. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

How I Geek #5 - Thing Ring Do Your Thing!!

While John is at Adepticon the guys discuss their favorite Saturday morning cartoons and touch on the decline of a reign that started in the 1960’s and lasted into the ‘90’s when cartoons ruled the weekend morning airwaves.

Our week in geek

Our top five Saturday morning cartoons

Honorable mentions

Cartoons we hated

The decline

Geektrosities and more!