Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Infinity Gauntlet

In 1991, the year of this book's publication, I was quickly losing interest in comics, and readying myself for my freshman year of college. Upon my return to the world of comics last year, I realized how little I ever knew of either Marvel or DC Universe, so I dove right into the most controversial, overwrought, all-star superhero trade paperback I could find:  DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths (DC, 1985).  It was all they everyone claimed: it was a yawning sprawler of epic proportion/it was ambitious, creative, & ahead of it's time.  As often is the case, really good art is mercilessly criticized, so I knew there had to be something good in it!  I found Marvel's Infinity Gauntlet to be a little more concise than Crisis on Infinite Earths however, the cast of characters much smaller & subplots fewer, and therefore easier to read.

The six Infinity Gems collected & mounted to the Infinity Gauntlet now renders Thanos omnipotent over the six aspects of the universe- Time, Space, Mind, Soul, Reality, and Power. Mistress Death is unimpressed however, and in his ongoing & forlorn attempt to win her heart, he wipes out half the sentient life in the universe. Those spared by chance band together with a mysteriously ressurected Adam Warlock and cautious Dr. Strange in a suicide course toward Thanos, who awaits the chance to impress Death, an adulatory Mephisto at his ear the whole time. The death, dismemberment, and humiliation of the cast of heroes, including several cosmic entities like Galactus & Eternity, is shocking. I don't want to spoil anything if by chance someone reading this might take my advice in picking this up, but I'll say I was surprised to see where Thanos ended up and how he conceptualized his fate.

As I said about my post on The Avengers: Kree-Skrull War, this is a story our younger generation of comic book readers might dismiss, but shouldn't. Sure, there aren't any lovesick, teenage vampires among the characters, and the coloring is limited by the technology of the times, but it's a good story. Jim Starlin is known for his drawn out space operas, weaving this one around his creation, Thanos, in a fun if not clever way. And George Perez & Ron Lim pencilled page after page of battling heroes & villains set against a grand cosmic background, one line at a time.

Below are some links to comics blogs I follow that you might want to check out- they aren't all up to date, and some don't post often, but there's a cumulative wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm therein. If you have any suggested blogs about comics, please share  :)

Again With the Comics
Bronze Age Babies
Bully Says: Comics Outta Be Fun!
Continued On 2nd Page Following
DC Bloodlines
New readers... start here!
Trade Waiting Tales
What Was That Issue Again?
The Idol Head of Diabolu  (all Martian Manhunter, all the time!)
Comics Bronze Age
Steve Does Comics

*Pictured above with the Premiere Hardcover edition of this book, Marvel Universe Thanos by Hasbro.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Captain Cold Vs. The Frost Giants!

As feared, the Frost Giant clan has become a little territorial over here at the Super-DuperToyBox. Several skirmishes have broken out in the toy vault, Mr. Freeze has been aloof & apprehensive, and then it happened: they attacked Captain Cold!

It wasn't pretty, and Cold is pretty shook up, so he'll be hanging with Flash & the guys in the Retro-Action bin for the time being. I don't know if it's a Mattel/Hasbro thing or a DC/Marvel problem, but I have a feeling neither matters to the Frost Giants- they are just T-R-O-U-B-L-E. They just looked all pissed off when I got cross with them about it... I don't think it got through and I'm a little worried about who will be next!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Marvel Universe Greatest Battles Comic Packs: Wolverine Vs. Silver Samurai

Last Monday I ran out after work to check out the scene just for fun, and came upon this lone Wolverine Vs. Silver Samurai 2-pack at a Wal-Mart on the south edge of the county, a place I've had really good luck this summer, particularly in the Marvel Universe department. I had seen this there some time ago, but already had an obscenely large stack of Marvel Universe in my arms, so I left in a rare show of restraint  :D   I'd been crawling all over Slangard's old blog Hippopotomi on the Lam recently, as I love his pics & reviews, and had seen this again! Knowing this was my last chance, I picked it up this time.

I like the idea of including a comic with action figures- it only makes sense if you want to promote your title/book, especially to kids.  Included in this 2-pack was what appeared to be a reprint of Wolverine #2:  On the soot-stained rooftops above Madripoor’s Low Town, WOLVERINE and the SILVER SAMURAI are locked in battle over the legendary black blade – an evil sword with the power to corrupt the spirit of even the purest warrior. Both men are near-perfect fighters, their bodies honed by a lifetime of combat, but only one will walk away from this battle. Oddly, Wolverine is is his yellow/blue X-Men outfit within the pages of this comic, unlike the cover, copyright 1988. The story inside is part 2 of Wolverine Origins: 7 the Hard Way, part of the 'Wolverine vs. Romulus' arc.  Yeah, Wolverine has tangle with Samurai in it, but... I was a little disappointed in that I didn't get some classic battle. Meh...

On the other hand, I liked the artwork by Doug Braithwaite, and Skaar & Cloak were also in the story- might have to hunt the rest of that down...


On with the action figures...
This set had some all-around eye appeal, but it was the Silver Samurai that I was really after. The glossy red tampographed sun emblem bursting off his silvery metallic chest plate, this figure is striking in his highly detailed armor- if not for the bulk of which, Samurai would be the height of Hasbro 3 3/4" articulation. Still, he can do quite a bit. Additionally, his katana & shorter tanto fit into the loops on his left hip, which was greatly appreciated. While I knew little of the character, this is one of the most unique & best looking Marvel Universe figures I've seen! Greatness, I say!

The Wolverine isn't too shabby, though a lot is left to be desired in the face, Let's face it: Hugh Jackman is a pretty boy compared to the Wolverine of Marvel Comics, but this figure has one DAMNED ugly mug! The red paint job surrounding his teeth just comes off wrong/too strongly. That said, I appreciate the simplicity of his uniform & pronounced claws (each separately sculpted). He is of appropriately proportioned build and has great articulation.

Keniuchio Harada is son to Japanese crimelord Shingen Harada, and head of Clan Yashida, and half-bother to Wolverine's late fiancee, Mariko Yashida. Born a mutant, Harada is able to generate a tachyon field around his katana, or any other weapon within his grasp, imbuing the sword with enough power to cut through nearly anything. Harada's familial ties are the nexus to a long conflicted relationship with Wolverine, both enemies & allies.

I've reluctantly passed on most all the Marvel Universe Comic 2-packs due to there not being a price break for buying two figures at once, or disinterest in one of the included characters, but this was a good one. There is a Marvel Universe Greatest Battles: Deadpool vs. Taskmaster that I'd like too, but he might be too sought after to find at a reasonable price. The Wolverine Vs. Silver Samurai is a great set- pick one up if you find it!

More Later- Have a GREAT Weekend!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thor Movie Figures: Frost Giants!

In spite of the two hundred or so action figures I've managed to accumulate in the past year, I never considered myself an army builder in the conventional sense, like some who amass several of the same figure (such as a group of stormtroopers, to line up with their Darth Vader). But upon seeing Slangards review of these over at Hippopotomi On The Lam, I ran out to hunt some down.

There are two types: the lighter blue Invasion Frost Giant, and the darker blue Deluxe Ice Attack Frost Giant, the latter costing an absurd five dollars more for three more accessories: two spring loaded projectiles, and an ice axe. While the extra value in these repaints with more accessories are equivocal at best, thoughts of the photo possibilities consumed me, and so I ignored Slangards' advice on picking up only one of the deluxe models and bought two of each. Their whole clan vibe plainly lent themselves to the assembly, & that's just how I roll.

The each came with an "icepick" hand weapon in addition to the included club and helmet, so they are pretty well armed for a bunch of naked savages. Like the helmets, they are made of a softer, translucent plastic that can be slipped over the arm.

The sculpt and paint on these are really fun- Slangards would have preferred a fist as opposed to the gesturing right hand, but I kinda like that. We both are fans of the tribal scarification lines that are sculpted into the legs, chest & back of these gruesome little guys- nice touch!

Their grisly looks become even more apparent without the helmets- Gaah!! I mean, ya know your cold, bad, & ugly when you wear an ice helmet, right??

Like I said, the Deluxe Ice Attack Frost Giants come with an extra ice axe and two spring loaded projectiles, the missile released not by a button, but by thumbing the back end of the shaft. As Slangards pointed out, the ice axe is cool, but they can only hold it or the mace due to their gesturing left hand sculpt.

Ya know what else I liked about these? Their gnarly looking bare feet!  I don't have a foot fetish or anything, but how often do you see an action figure with bare feet?  This really adds to their savage appearance!

Enough about their frosty phalanges though, we all know the reason I bought four of these- my love for BIG TOY/little toy!  Yes, the prospect of gathering a clan of worshippers for my 12" Savage Frost Giant was too much for my obsessive/compulsive mind to bear   :D

The giants of Jotunheim are based on Norse mythology, and enemies of the gods of Asgard, the first of which who battled Odin being the Ice Giant Ymir. Odin's adopted son Loki was the child of the Giant Laufey, who perished at the hand of Odin, his orphaned son adopted by the Asgardian king thereafter.

Go read my post on this awesome Marvel Gigantic Battles Savage Frost Giant/Loki set by Hasbro- one of the coolest things I found this summer!

If you don't think these are fun, then I can't help you!  I had a ball taking three batches of over 300 pictures of these, so I'm sure you'll see them again   :D

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Thor Movie Figures: Thor, Odin, & Loki

As I showed you a few days ago, I kinda went nuts for the Thor Movie 3 3/4"  line of  figures.  While I've yet to see the movie, I saw Slangards review of the figures over at Hippopotomi on the Lam, and that sealed the deal. I've been seeing less of them around, so I figured I'd grab far too many while I could  :D  Let's take a look at Hammer Smash Thor, Sheild Bash Odin, & Secret Strike Loki...

I felt lucky to find a Hammer Smash Thor- he's the one with the helmet, and is somewhat hard to come by lately. I understand that Chris Hemsworth didn't wear the helmet much in the movie, but he's Thor... I wanted one with the helmet. This figure does look like Hemsworth, and the other Thor figures from this series without the helmet REALLY look like him. I might have to pick one of those up, too.

Along with his trusty hammer, Mjölnir, Thor comes with a HUGE sword that splits open via a button on the hilt to reveal... a lightsaber? I don't get it... it's clunky, ugly thing. With such a nice figure, I would have appreciated a nice sword or shield. Movie Thor is a lot smaller than my Marvel Universe Thor, hammer & all, but he is refined to look like the actor in his costume, so his proportions are really good. He enjoys some decent articulation, including ball & hinge neck & double-jointed knees. His sculpt is outstanding- great detail!

Thor's father Odin is played by the great thespian Sir Anthony Hopkins, whom was was expertly immortalized by Hasbro for this line of toys. Like Thor, Odin included an oversized sword and also a shield that releases spikes around it's circumference when a button on the front is pressed, both of which are so heavy I could barely get him to hold them. Fail!

And the last of these three, but certainly not the least, is Thor's evil brother Loki! He's an excellent figure! I love the way they styled this with the flared, green longcoat- really cool! This guy may not look like much on the pegs- you might even miss him, but he's hella fun! While very different in styling from the Marvel Universe Loki, he looks alarmingly similar to him... they did a good job updating the characters in this line.

Loki comes with another gimmicky. oversized accessory/sword, which when released provides what I believe are intended to be arm guards for battle...

Better suited accessories are Loki's tiny daggers... he just seems like the kinda character that might pull a knife on you or mug you...

More Later- Keep It FUN!