Thursday, July 28, 2011

Make Mine Marvel

While your Warlock has been out of town this week exploring the wilderlands of Arizona, I was able to fit the Captain America: First Avenger movie into my journeys. There's plenty of reviews out there so I won't burden the interwebs with another. Needless to say, it was a great story-based action movie that laid the final stone for the Avengers movie next year (those who haven't seen Cap yet, be sure to sit through the credits for the infamous Marvel tail - it's a doosy).

The thing I've really enjoyed about these Marvel films is the excitement and build-up of the cross-overs and the cohesive Marvel film universe. It is very similar to their building of a cohesive universe back in the early days of the Silver Age when Spidey went looking for a job with the Fantastic Four (The Amazing Spider-man issue 1) or when the FF went on the hunt for the Hulk (Fantastic Four #12). That was back in late 1963 and was soon expanded upon to create a more realistic comic book story which Stan Lee said he always wanted to do and was an instant success!

The excitement those readers felt in a 'realistic' comic universe can be felt in the same excitement building towards the first Avengers movie.

The Marvel films have done a great job at bringing to the screen the very elements that made Marvel Comics an icon of American pop culture.

It's great to see them (Hollywood) doing it right.....for a change.

Make Mine Marvel!!

p.s. I know my posts have been a bit lite lately but you'll see why next week.....
more later!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Captain America Week: Silver Screen Hero

Captain America: First Avenger is not the first time that ol' wing-head has flashed his shield on the silver screen or small screen for that matter. Since the early days of America's hero he's been fighting spies and sabatours for pop-corn chompin' audiences across the this great nation of ours, though 'First Avenger' seems to be the first to capture the hero in all his glory.

Cap first appeared on the silver screen in 1944 in a serialized story called "The Purple Death" (also called Captain America and Captain America Returns). Now, he's missing his trademarked shield going with a pistol instead, and he's not even fighting Nazis. This hero is more reminiscence of the 1950's Captain America than the Hitler smashing Cap of the 1940's. Still, as serials go, it's not too bad and has the requisite hero, police chief, feisty chic who gets captured a lot, and a handful of baddies.

Watch CAPTAIN AMERICA SERIAL TRAILER 1944 in Action & Adventure | View More Free Videos Online at

Next Cap showed up in 1966, revamped for the silver age in the Marvel Super Heroes cartoon program. Now any comic fan of the time couldn't help but love these cartoons, as limited motion as it was. The cartoons were filled with the original artwork from the comics, many of which was Jack Kirby's mini-masterpieces and Stan Lee's peak 60's dialogue. Plus each hero had their own theme song...

Alas, we come to the 1970's.

In the late 70's Marvel had a hit with The Incredible Hulk television program and a minor hit with the Spider-man series as well. So why not toss some more heroes into the action?

Well, I don't know what these studio heads were thinking but this movie sucked, at least for me as a kid waiting for a highly anticipated action movie of his favorite hero. I don't know, Steve Rogers never seemed to me to be a dirt-bike riding California stoner driving around in a make-out van with some easy-listening music in the back-ground. I mean WTF?

Here, just see what I mean....

Someone needs to get kicked in the nuts even now for this. I mean Cap doesn't even look like himself, and what's with the see-through shield.

Believe it or not they actually made two of these movies. See-through shield, crash-helmet. *sigh*

In the 90's Cap returned to the Silver Screen for, at least, a decent attempt and capturing the red, white and blue avenger but you can only go so far in a B-movie production. The costume was right and at least the story starts in WWII and the Red Skull looked pretty awesome. Not bad but not for the ages...

So finally we come to the present day. It's as if Captain America has been in a state of suspended animation and is only now being thawed out. So head on out to see Captain America: First Avenger (or wait until it gets to the cheap theater -- if you can!)


Captain America Week:
Day 1: Eat it Hitler!
Day 2: Captain America Must Die!
Day 3: And A Phoenix Shall Rise
Day 4: Bring On The Bad Guys!
Day 5: Silver Screen Hero

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Captain America Week: Bring On The Bad Guys!

Like every super-hero, Captain America has a menagerie of colorful villains, but a couple of them are so iconic and bizarre that they stand out above the rest.

First we have.....

The Red Skull!

Nazi tool of terror, the Red Skull first appeared upon the pages of Captain America issue 1 (1940) and has been a villain rarely topped, and to this day is one of Marvel's (Disney's ooh, it hurts to say that) all time greatest trouble-makers. Always a thorn in Cap's side he's been defeated many times but always returns.

The Origin of the Red Skull

Baron Zemo

Ah, Baron Zemo; creator of Adhesive X, leader of the Masters of Evil and murderer of Bucky Barnes! Forever blaming Captain America for sticking that pink mask to his head and Cap always seeking revenge on Zemo for killing his sidekick these two would go head to head in the early issues of the Avengers. Cap, on a personal vendetta, finally defeated and killed Zemo in Avengers #15, one of the first major character deaths in the Marvel universe (and he actually stayed dead).

The Swordsman

The Swordsman first appeared as an enemy of Hawkeye of the Avengers back in 1966 but when the Avengers refused to let him join he took is frustrations out on Captain America. Beefing up his sword with the help of the Mandarin and then joining the Lethal Legion with Power-man and the Enchantress, he was a thorn in the side of the Avengers until his finally joining them years later.

Bartroc aka The Leaper

A crazy frenchman who liked to kick folks in the face (boxing with his feet) was after the Inferno-42 cylinder in Tales of Suspense (1966) when he crossed paths with Captain America. Though an enemy of Cap, he switched sides many times to aid the star-spangled hero as Bartroc determined him to be a 'man of honor'. Oh, and he spoke with an outrageous French accent!

Arnim Zola

A Jack Kirby creation, this mad Nazi sympathizing scientist had a bunch of weird gizmos to toss at Cap as well as a gun that shot yellow goop and and project his conscience.


Who other than Jack Kirby can create this nightmare! The legendary MODOC (Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing). Working with AIM against S.H.I.E.L.D. he ran across Cap a number of times. Mostly just jealous of Cap's bod, the horrific Kirby creation tried to off our hero a number of times.

One thing I want to point out is that most of these villains were created by Jack Kirby (as was Captain America). It proves, once again, that Kirby was the master creator of the Marvel Universe.

Captain America Week:
Day 1: Eat it Hitler!
Day 2: Captain America Must Die!
Day 3: And A Phoenix Shall Rise
Day 4: Bring On The Bad Guys!
Day 5: Silver Screen Hero

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Captain America Week: Story Time

Captain America week: day 3 and it's story-time kiddies!

Enjoy Captain America and the Falcon in "A Phoenix Shall Rise"! (mp3 audio download)
I don't think this is how I pictured the Falcon's voice...

Read along with the comic too!

Next Issue: Bring On The Bad Guys!

Captain America Week:
Day 1: Eat it Hitler!
Day 2: Captain America Must Die!
Day 3: And A Phoenix Shall Rise
Day 4: Bring On The Bad Guys!
Day 5: Silver Screen Hero

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Captain America Week: Captain America Must Die!

I first met Captain America back in the glorious bronze age in the pages of the The Avengers issue 116 during the Avengers / Defenders war back in 1973. Though the Avengers were a pretty awesome collection of heroes, for whatever reason, Captain America jumped out.

I don't know if if was his iconic star-spangled costume created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby back in 1940 or the fact that he looked totally pissed and was ready to kick some ass but there was something about him that struck a chord, though I only saw just a tiny bit of him. I knew nothing of him or of the Avengers, I couldn't even read yet, but I did know that they were the most colorful group of heroes I've ever seen (having seen only Super-man and Batman).

It wasn't until 1974 that my mom picked me up issue 177 from the corner news-stand and I had a real Captain America comic.

But what was this? I see the Avengers but Cap is tossing his costume away! And what's this on the first page? "Captain America must die!" being shouted by the man himself?!? What have I stumbled into.

Captain America must die?? I just met him! (why is he always screaming?)

Cap's history in a two page splash. Nice!

The great things about classic comics, and the thing I love the most, is that the artists were classic story-tellers. These comics told the entire story visually. I hardly knew how to read, I was six years old, but I was able to decipher the stories just by the drawing alone.

I was able to 'read' the struggles of a man in the midst of a great decision, his origins and his weighty past. Finally I was able to see his friends trying to support him. Now I couldn't read a lick of this (though I think "Captain America must die" and "..But so much has happened since then" were probably the first comic words I did read) but it was a dramatic story, not action yet it still spellbound me. Quite different from the pissed off Avenger.

But that changed with the next issue I had.

Again I saw Captain America getting his ass kicked by this goopy monster (the Alchemoid). I saw that Cap was putting up a brave fight but, alas, it didn't seem he would be able to defeat this....thing....

Until....Note to super villains: Do not overpower you main weapon....

...'cause once you do that, you've go a really pissed off superhero coming after you and the only thing standing between you and an ass-kickin' are your pack of weasly minions...and we all know how that is gonna to turn out.
I'm sure the Druid doesn't pay that guy enough to take a shield in the face!


After a total ass-whippin' the Druid is out and Shield comes in to mop up.
Happy ending!

Yeah. Captain America was my go-to hero back when we played 'Super-Hero' on the school playground.

The next time I saw Cap it was when Kirby returned to marvel. Ol' wing-head was then fighting all manner of dimensional alien, accompanied by a colorful array of characters all in the typical explosive Kirby style.

Next Issue: And A Phoenix Shall Rise!

Captain America Week:
Day 1: Eat it Hitler!
Day 2: Captain America Must Die!
Day 3: And A Phoenix Shall Rise
Day 4: Bring On The Bad Guys!
Day 5: Silver Screen Hero

Monday, July 18, 2011

Captain America Week: Eat It Hitler!

With Marvel's highly anticipated Captain America: The First Avenger movie coming out at the end of the week I though I'd dedicate The Warlock's Home Brew to my favorite comic hero.

Captain America burst onto the world in December 1940, a full year before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, with a jaw shattering smash to none other than Adolph Hitler. With his iconic star spangled costume and shield he captured the patriotic imaginations of both kids and adults in the tense months before America entered the war. When a 90 pound weakling, Steve Rogers, volunteered to be part of an experiment to become a super-soldier, an American hero was born.

Captain America was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby for Timely Comics which later would become Marvel. The publisher, Martin Goodman, loved the idea so much they decided to debut Cap in his own title, something unheard of back in the early days of the colorful medium.

Though the comic hero, along with his sidekick Bucky, were a smashing success, not everyone embraced the patriotic hero. Simon and Kirby received threatening hate mail and death threats from isolationists, pacifists, and fascists who found it antagonistic to depict a 'respected' leader of a sovereign nation getting pummeled by the American flag. Within a year though, America would be dragged into Hitler's war and Captain America, in the hands and back pockets of the American GIs, would be marching towards Berlin and Nazi Germany. Cap would be fighting along with the Allies against saboteurs, spies and the notorious Red Skull!

With the great 'evils' of the Axis powers defeated, the post war saw a decline in the Superhero, replaced by horror, crime and romance stories. It wasn't until the early sixties that costumed heroes made their explosive return.

Again, it was Jack Kirby, this time along with Stan Lee, that brought the red, white and blue avenger back. Being frozen in ice since the end of World War II (the post-war years erased), Cap was found by the colorful new team of the 60's The Avengers! Captain America would soon take his place as leader of that group.

Over the years Steve Rogers/Captain America would struggle with being a man out of time and even (post Viet-Nam) what it meant to be a patriotic American hero. But through all the struggles Cap has always held that shield high.

In 2007, Marvel 'killed' off it's major hero. But like all comic book deaths (a post for another day) Cap is back and fighting for the red, white and blue.

Jack Kirby on Captain America:

Next Issue: Captain America Must Die!

Captain America Week:
Day 1: Eat it Hitler!
Day 2: Captain America Must Die!
Day 3: And A Phoenix Shall Rise
Day 4: Bring On The Bad Guys!
Day 5: Silver Screen Hero

Thursday, July 14, 2011

John Carter.....

No doubt this will be talked about on just about every OSR blog, but it looks....well....just see for yourself.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Conan The Barbarian: It's All In The Details

The more clips I see from the upcoming Conan movie the more interesting it appears, at least as a swords and sorcery flick. Whether it's Howard's Conan remains to be seen.

The one thing that's been really bugging me this whole time (besides the contemporary 'metal' music played during the preview, which, at least in one version has been removed) is Conan's eye color.

Jason Mamoa, playing the northern-born Cimmerian, has a naturally shaggy mane and brown eyes. I'm sure he'll be great in the role he's been asked to play but the devil is in the details, son. Our Cimmerian needs those steely blue eyes, no?

A very, very subtle thing but very important, IMHO, to solidify the actor in the role.

Now, contacts? Why not? Simple fix.

Color Mamoa's eyes blue in post? Totally possible.

All of this has been done before....

Brown eyed Jessica Alba and Blue eyed Susan Storm

Giving Sue Storm blue eyes didn't make or break these mediocre films of the worlds greatest comic but it was a nice minor detail.

So what about Howard's barbarian?

I've lifted a couple of stills and altered the eyes (I know, how obsessive is that?).

Click to embig

Again, hardly a noticeable change but it's those minor details that can nail the film character more into the vision of Howards warrior. I may be grasping at straws here, after-all the post-production CGI animator may have more important things to do like making the monsters more dramatic, or tweaking that walled city in the background a bit. Come on, Nispel, toss a few more dollars his/her way.

Will this happen? We'll only know once we pay the ticket price and sit down in our seats with our pop-corn and sodas waiting for that first scene.


It's all in the details.....

PS, I'm not the only one pondering this....

Friday, July 8, 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Many Faces Of Dwarves

There's a preview pic of Peter Jackson's dwarves from The Hobbit.

From these pics, there's been blog-talk about how these dwarves look and about how Jackson made Gimli the butt of all the jokes in the LOTR movies.

I was pretty annoyed by Gimli's portrayal in The Two Towers and The Return Of The King. I mean, Dwarves are not the butt of anyone's joke - and if you don't believe me try making one a butt and see how far you get.

The first film (Fellowship) I felt was the best adaptation . I wasn't that hip on the other two films but then again, the first book in the trilogy has always been my favorite. Regardless of how the films turned out, which were pretty decent for an iconic fantasy novel adaptation, Jackson and his crew loved Tolkien's story and characters and tried to stay as true to it as possible.

I cut him some slack.

Not everyone (fans mostly) is going to be happy with adaptations of their favorite characters into film (LOTR, Conan, Solomon Kane, Bat-man, Spider-man, X-men, etc.); it's an impossible task as everybody's vision of the story / characters are going to be different.

But I'm with Jeff Rient's on this, these dwarves would be awesome to have in my party. Who cares about the 'wrong' weapons or the 'colorful' hoods, they're going to kick a dragon's ass.

The Hobbit's tone is more of a fairy tale, a story told by Bilbo Baggins of Bag End - embellished no doubt with a hobbit's whimsy. There is no doubt that the 'actual events' were quite dark and foreboding; evil trolls, giant spiders, a battle of five armies? Bless my soul!

I prefer my fantasy to be far out, whimsical and dark and a bit twisted. The themes in the Hobbit are just that.

Jackson's movie will be a great addition to the fantasy film genre.

But keep the dwarf jokes to a minimum please.

And just to prove that there is more than one way to 'skin' a dwarf....

Jackson's comic relief

The Bros. Hildebrandt

Bakshi's Gimli. No butt here! Always will be a fan of Bakshi's LOTR.

A dwarf SPI

Rankin Bass dwarf, red hood and all!

The Hobbit, the comic!

D&D dwarves; hard at work.

My wife's hermaphrodite dwarf Maudlin

A Not Safe For Work Dwarf

Now, they're all cool (well, lets leave poor Grumpy outta this) as dwarves should be!

And since you've all been good little hobbits'es, here's a really interesting interpretation of The Hobbit I came across. Very old school D&D. I'd love to see this animated!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Warlocks' Last Night On Earth!

Well, not really, but this weekend we got some gaming in with the thanks to Brian bringing over Flying Frog Productions "Last Night On Earth".

LNOE is a zombie apocalypse board game that takes place in a small town. One player controls the zombies and up to four other players control the heroes. Now there's quite a list of heroes to choose from which fit perfectly in the small town environment; the sheriff, the sheriff's son (a track star), the high-school outcast, the priest, the farmer's daughter, the drifter, etc. A perfect cast for this cinematic zombie game.

The rules were pretty easy to pick up as you search building to find weapons or other aids while fighting off an unrelenting hoard of zombies. D6's resolve combat and drawn cards aid players and zombies alike.

Now these are slow moving zombies (the Romero kind) but it's not as easy as it sounds to fight them off, there's always a chance that you can run out of ammunition, loose your weapon or any other number of spine tingling events determined by dice rolls or drawn cards.

The game is fast paced and quite balanced for either side to gain the advantage (which shifts frequently during play) or win the objective. There are a number of scenarios to play out as well. The game has a B-movie quality to it which add to the fun

As opposed to WOTC's Castle Ravensloft which sported clunky rules, Last Night On Earth was quick to jump in and get playing.

A great game for friends or gamily who want to spend an hour or two chasing down or running from zombies!

Friday, July 1, 2011

New Captain America Trailer

For those who thought Iron-man (I) and Thor hit it out of the park, just check out the new preview of Captain America: The First Avenger!
(please ignore the Nicolas Cage Season of the Witch ad)

Featuring the most awesome screen villain since Darth Vader:

'Nuff Said!