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Jack Fisher’s Weekly Quick Pick Comic: Uncanny X-Men #11

Every week, a fresh crop of new comics comes out and the world is a little bit more awesome because of it. As a lifelong fan of comics, superheroes, and many other things that the Bill Maher’s of the world despise, I take it upon myself to single out one comic from that week that makes this most special of days for superhero fans that much more memorable.

This week was a busy week with big events brewing with DC’s Heroes In Crisis story and Marvel’s ongoing Age of X-Man event. Being a lifelong X-men fan, I know I’m somewhat bias towards the X-men side of things. This week, however, I didn’t need that bias to single out Uncanny X-Men #11 as my top pick of the week.

It’s not just because this book comes on the heels of Cyclops’ latest return from the dead, which occurred in Uncanny X-Men Annual #1 a couple weeks ago. It’s not just because he’s returning to a world where most of the X-Men have disappeared and been presumed dead after their battle with Nate Grey in Uncanny X-Men #10, either. What makes this comic my top pick is something far greater.

In every superhero comic, you learn the most about a character when they’re at their worst. It’s easy for any hero to shine when things are going well. When the world loves them, when super-villains despise them, and when they’re not stuck on the wrong end of a love triangle, it’s easy to seem heroic. It’s when everything is terrible and their world is on the brink that you learn who they truly are.

Uncanny X-Men #11 lets everyone know who Scott “Cyclops” Summers is. In this story, he has no X-men to lead. He has no beautiful wife by his side or buxom blonde lusting after him. His mentor is gone. His home is gone. Everything he ever fought to defend is gone. What does a man like that do in a situation like that?

He can either cower and whine or he can step up and fight. Cyclops, having gone to war with the Avengers and the Inhumans, has never been one to cower. The story that Matthew Rosenberg and Salvador Larroca tell here shows why he’s the leader of the X-men in the first place. It shows why beautiful telepaths are attracted to him. When things are at their worst for the entire mutant race, this is the man you want leading you.

If you’re a Cyclops fan in any capacity, Uncanny X-Men #11 is a must-have. However, what makes this book even more valuable is that it’s giant-sized. That means it costs a little more than the typical two to three dollar price, but you get a lot more for those few extra bucks.

In addition to Cyclops kicking ass, Wolverine has his own story that unfolds in the background. He too recently came back from the dead and has been dealing with the many complications associated with resurrection in his own series, Return of Wolverine. Having sufficiently stabbed those complications, he’s ready to return to the X-Men and he’s just in time to help Cyclops, a guy who’s wife he kept trying to sleep with.

It’s a beautiful thing, these two coming together once more in the X-Men’s darkest hour. The way it happens and the action it inspires is too great for words. That’s why I’m not going to spoil it. I’ll just say that if you’re a Cyclops fan, a Wolverine fan, or an X-Men fan in general, this comic feels like one of those books that will one day be critical in the history of the greater Marvel universe.

As it stands, the X-Men are gone and the mutant race is fading into obscurity. Rather than genocide, they’re facing a future where people simply treat mutation like a flu shot. The vaccine that was introduced in Uncanny X-Men #1 works. Parents can now keep their children from becoming mutants. While it greatly limits their chances of becoming superheroes, it ensures they can lead a “normal” life.

What does this mean for the future of the X-Men? What does it mean for mutants? These are unanswered questions that will probably linger for many issues to come, but Uncanny X-Men #11 effectively fires the first shot in a new struggle. Cyclops, Wolverine, and the rest of the mutant race aren’t content to just whither away. That’s not their style and this issue demonstrates why in so many uncanny ways.

If the measure of a true hero is determined by how they handle their darkest hour, then Uncanny X-Men #11 reaffirms why the X-Men are in a league all their own. The world may always love the Avengers, but the X-men will always command their respect.

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Infinitely Astounding And Then Some: My Review Of “Avengers: Infinity War”

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We’ve heard it all our lives from parents, teachers, and cartoon characters. Good things come to those who wait. Patience is a virtue. If something is worth having, then taking your time and going through the process will make it that much more rewarding.

As impatient, overly energetic kids, we hated that. As adults, we still hate it to some extent. However, those inane words of wisdom have proven themselves valid time and again.

To some extent, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has a been a decade-long exercise in patience. That patience has already paid off in so many ways with so many memorable moments, raising the bar for cinematic excellence every step of the way. After ten years of that process, though, how could it possibly vindicate all the patience?

Well, having seen “Avengers: Infinity War,” I’m comfortable saying that all the waiting, hype, and post-credits teasers was totally worth it. Never before has a movie come along that required so much build-up and so much connection from other films over such a lengthy period of time. Never before has a film franchise ever achieved such sustained, consistent success that has raked in billions for its Disney overlords.

By nearly every measure, “Avengers: Infinity War” is the culmination of all those efforts. It’s an effort that spans dozens of movies, made and re-birthed entire careers, and dared to tell the kind of story that required such a lengthy, elaborate process. It’s the kind of movie that, a decade ago, seemed impossible. Well, the impossible has been done and the results are nothing short of astounding.

Beyond the hype, setup, and process that went into making this movie, “Avengers: Infinity War” is a ride like no other. It’s not just about superheroes coming together to battle a common enemy. It’s not just about big battle scenes and witty quips between gods and talking raccoons. This is a movie with a powerful, impactful story that strikes so many emotional chords.

That may seem strange for a superhero movie, which have traditionally been big-budget spectacles meant to delight the inner child/fanboy in us all. The idea that a superhero movie could generate real drama and evoke powerful emotions almost seems like a subversion of the underlying appeal of the genre.

It’s for that reason that “Avengers: Infinity War” is so special. It doesn’t just build around the appeal of all these iconic characters, most of which are older than the actors and actresses playing them. It crafts a story that takes all the emotional stakes that had been set up in other movies and pushes them to the absolute limit.

The emotional journey that began in “Iron Man” and “The Avengers” comes to a head in a way that’s both definitive and powerful. There’s no more teasing surrounding Thanos, the Infinity Stones, and all the agendas surrounding them, many of which began in the earliest phases of the MCU. The stakes are clear, the threat is there, and the battles surrounding both are appropriately epic.

Beyond just the spectacle, though, “Avengers: Infinity War” succeeds in what might be the most important aspect for a movie of this scope and scale. The story and the high-octane clashes that fuel it all unfold in a way that makes the last decade of Marvel movies feel even more relevant.

Marvel big-wigs like Kevin Feige love to say it’s all connected. Well, “Avengers: Infinity War” strengthens those connections. Suddenly, the plots involving the infinity stones, going all the way back to “Captain America” and “Guardians of the Galaxy,” matter that much more.

All those plots gain much greater weight as Thanos fights to retrieve all six stones. Now, all the triumphs and failures of these characters more weight. These characters we’ve been cheering for and connecting with now have to push themselves beyond their limits. The end result is an experience that hits as hard as a punch by the Hulk.

Beyond the connections created by the past ten years of Marvel movies, “Avengers: Infinity War” succeeds in another important way. It crafts the conflict around a powerful, compelling villain. After seeing the movie, I think most would agree that Thanos really steals the show and not just because Josh Brolin’s voice gives us all the right shivers.

It was probably the biggest challenge of this movie, beyond having to build it around a decade of overarching plot points. This movie needed to make Thanos more than just a daunting threat. It had to make him compelling. Given his colorful history in the comics, that was more challenging than most non-comic fans realize.

Thanos needed to be adapted, to some extent, in order for him to work. He couldn’t just be this mad, death-obsessed monster. In a universe that has birthed compelling villains like Loki and Erik Killmonger, he has to have some level of complexity. “Avengers: Infinity War” gives him more than any CGI-generated character could ever hope for.

It’s not just that Thanos is menacing, powerful, and able to subdue the Hulk. It’s that he has a clear, unambiguous motivation. He’s very overt about what he’s doing and why he’s doing it. What makes it all the more remarkable is that he finds a way to justify it that doesn’t come off as outright villainous. I would argue that he justifies his actions are better than any other villain in the MCU.

That doesn’t just make Thanos compelling, as both a character and a villain. It helps create moments that establish he’s not just some overwhelming force of evil. He’s a being who has feelings and emotions. Even in the comics, Thanos is a very emotion-driven character. The emotions, in this case, are directed towards something other than wanting to hook up with the living embodiment of death.

As menacing as Thanos is, though, he’s driven by his passions and those passions push him to the kinds of extremes that make all villains so dangerous. It’s not the same kind of greed and ego that makes Lex Luthor’s villainy so overt. As a result, the Avengers have to tap into their own passions to stop him.

This brings out the best in them as well. There are moments between Iron Man, Spider-Man, Vision, the Scarlet Witch, Starlord, Gamora, and Thor that really elevate the drama. There are moments of romance, building on romantic sub-plots from previous movies. There are moments of heart-wrenching loss, more so than any other Marvel movie to date. Most importantly, though, those moments carry weight and impact.

That, more than anything, is what makes “Avengers: Infinity War” a special cinematic experience that was worth waiting a decade for. To some extent, the movie makes clear that it needed those ten years to build up the drama and story. It also needed those ten years to make us, the audience, really care about all these characters. That way, when the final credits roll, we all feel the true breadth of that impact.

You could, in theory, still watch “Avengers: Infinity War” without having seen any other Marvel movie or superhero movie, in general. Even in that context, it’s still a great movie full of action, drama, and memorable moments featuring gods, super soldiers, and talking raccoons. However, without all the movies that came before it and all the connections from them, it just doesn’t carry the same weight.

If “Avengers: Infinity War” has any flaws, it’s that. To truly appreciate the impact of the movie, it’s necessary to know and somewhat care about the other movies in the MCU that helped set it up. Without that, the movie is just another spectacle. It’s still an amazing spectacle full of quality acting and stunning effects. It just relies so much on the foundation that other movies have crafted.

I’ve no problem saying that “Avengers: Infinity War” is one of the greatest superhero movies ever made. It may very well go onto become the highest-grossing superhero movie of all time. However, it’s not without flaws. They are very minor, but they are there.

If there’s one glaring flaw in this masterful superhero saga, though, it’s that the movie is clearly organized to be in two parts. Like “Kill Bill” or the latest “Star Wars” trilogy, the story is incomplete, by necessity. As a result, the ending feels abrupt. It’s still more impactful than gut punch by an army of Hulks, but it’s one of those endings that never comes off as an endpoint.

This movie is presented very much in the mold of “The Empire Strikes Back” in that it hits the heroes hard, allows the villains to make devastating gains, and really raises the stakes for the sequel. Just as that movie made you want to see Luke Skywalker battle Dearth Vader again, “Avengers: Infinity War” makes you want to see the Avengers take down Thanos.

There’s so many things to love about “Avengers: Infinity War” and what it managed to accomplish. It is definitely a historic achievement for movies and the superhero genre, as a whole. If I had to score it, I’d give it a 9.5 out of 10. It’s not perfect because it’s incomplete, but it’s as close to perfect as anything can get after ten years of build-up.

The wait was long and agonizing, but so worth it. The wait for “Avengers 4” will likely be agonizing as well, but Marvel Studios has made a glorious habit of rewarding such patience so I certainly don’t mind waiting. “Avengers: Infinity War” once again raised the bar. I look forward to seeing how Marvel and Disney raise it again.

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Five Female Superheros That Deserve Their Own Movie

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It’s been a damn good week for female superheroes. Whether you’re a man, woman, or something in between, it’s hard to deny the historic significance of this past weekend. “Wonder Woman” is officially a hit. The glass ceiling for superhero movies is shattered. We can all finally lay the failures of “Catwoman” and “Elektra” to rest.

It’s sad that it took over a decade to make another female superhero movie that succeeded, but good things are worth waiting for. Anyone still waiting for a decent Fantastic Four movie should take comfort in that.

For Wonder Woman, at least, the wait is over. She has proven that female superheroes can succeed. They can carry their own movie. The fact that Wonder Woman had to prove this in the first place is kind of asinine, but that’s a trivial detail at this point. “Wonder Woman” succeeded and that doesn’t just break the myth that female superheros can’t succeed on their own. It opens the door for other female superheroes to shine.

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As I write this, there is only one other female superhero besides Wonder Woman who is set to star in her own movie. That character is Carol “Captain Marvel” Danvers, whose movie is set for release in 2019. With Brie Larson having been cast, the movie is already in the works. Wonder Woman’s success can only help.

Unlike Wonder Woman, though, Captain Marvel does not have the kind of iconic status as Wonder Woman. In fact, she only recently gained a surge in popularity when writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick, launched “Captain Marvel: In Pursuit Of Flight.” This series, which any Wonder Woman fan would love, effectively revamped a character who had only ever been a secondary character in the Avengers.

Since that run, Captain Marvel has become the closest character Marvel has to Wonder Woman. As such, it makes perfect sense for her to get a solo movie, if only to keep up with DC.

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However, as excited as I am to see more female superheroes get their own movie, there aren’t many others to look forward to. Earlier this year, Avengers director, Joss Whedon, announced that he was pursuing a “Batgirl” movie. As exciting as it sounds, though, this movie is tentative at best. With no release date or cast, this movie could languish in development hell, as Whedon’s own Wonder Woman movie did in 2007.

With “Wonder Woman,” the floodgates have been opened. There’s a new avenue for pursuing big bucks with superhero movies and, seeing as how Hollywood values money over all else, we’re likely to see plenty more female superhero movies in the future.

With that in mind, I’d like to offer my own wishlist of sorts. Wonder Woman is a great female hero and a pop culture icon in the highest degree, but she is far from alone. There’s a wealth of great female heroes in the world of comics who would thrive in their own movie. Below is my personal list of female superheroes who I feel should get their own movie.


#1: Laura “X-23” Kinny

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This one is, by far, the most obvious and logical. After the success of “Logan,” in which X-23 was the breakout star, there’s already a lot of buzz around this possibility. Both Dafne Keen, the actress who played her, and director James Mangold have expressed interest in pursuing an X-23 solo movie.

Given the performance we saw in “Logan,” it would be foolish not to capitalize on X-23’s breakout success. Hugh Jackman gave X-men fans 17 wonderful years as Wolverine. X-23 is in a perfect position to carry on the mantel. She already did so in the comics, adopting both the title and the costume of Wolverine. Why not do the same in the movies?


#2: Thor (Jane Foster)

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This one might be the most controversial. Back in 2014, Marvel made a decision that still has some comic fans whining to this day. They made Thor unworthy of wielding his hammer, Mjolnir. Since the world still needed a Thor, Jane Foster stepped in and took up the mantle, which she’s wielded effectively ever since.

Controversial or not, there’s no denying the strength of the story that followed. Jane Foster had always been a supporting character for Thor. Putting her as the main lead was a bold, but powerful move. Jane isn’t just some glorified arm-candy for any Chris Hemsworth look-alike, though. She’s very much her own character.

In the comics, Jane was dying of cancer before she picked up the hammer. By becoming Thor, she’s trying to make the most of whatever time she has left. That’s a powerful struggle and a meaningful story, especially to anyone who has lost someone to cancer. Plus, being played by Natalie Portman can only help her cause.


#3: Black Canary

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When most people think of DC’s most iconic female heroes, they almost immediately think of Wonder Woman and rightfully so. She is, and likely always will be, the standard by which all female superheroes are measured.

That said, some female heroes make it a point to set themselves apart. That’s what Black Canary does. Dinah Lance is not a demigod warrior like Wonder Woman. She’s not a brooding vigilante like Batman either. She has her own set of superhuman abilities. She’s a tough fighter who’s gone toe-to-toe with some of the most capable fighters in the DC universe. She also looks damn sexy in fishnets.

In addition, Black Canary has a track record of sorts as a supporting character in “Arrow.” Being a successful character in TV doesn’t always translate well into movies, as Baywatch recently learned, but someone with Black Canary’s skill and sex appeal can certainly make that transition.


#4: Starfire

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Admit it. You knew I was going to put her on this list. It was just a matter of how I’d be able to justify giving a solo movie to a female hero that is so comfortable with nudity. I went out of my way to praise Starfire as a sex-positive superhero, one whose open sexuality is both fun and heroic in its own unique way.

Now, I know this one would be a real stretch. However, the success of the “Deadpool” movie has given me hope that there is a future for R-rated, sex-positive superhero movies. It may take a while, given the recent trend in outrage over any female character that dares to be sexy. Remember, people made a big deal about Wonder Woman’s armpits for crying out loud.

At some point, though, there will be a market for a female hero that just doesn’t give a flying fuck about nudity. At some point, fans are going to get sick of being shamed for wanting to see a sexy female hero in a bikini. When that day comes, Starfire will be the perfect female superhero for a generation in need of a sex-positive icon.


#5: She-Hulk

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To date, there have been two lackluster Hulk movies. In both cases, the story was fairly the same. You’ve got a man dealing with serious anger issues, struggling to function in a world that just keeps finding ways to piss him off. Most people are familiar with that story. Those same people, however, are less familiar with She-Hulk’s story.

Jennifer “She-Hulk” Walters is not just a female version of the Hulk. If anything, she’s a very different kind of Hulk. She’s Bruce Banner’s cousin who became the Hulk due to a blood transfusion. Unlike Bruce, she doesn’t need to get angry to become big, strong, and green. She’s pretty much stuck in her Hulk form.

That means she’s more in control of her faculties, so much so that she manages to continue her work as a lawyer. That’s right. This Hulk has a day job and it doesn’t involve smashing. Now most lawyer-driven movies since “My Cousin Vinny” have had limited entertainment value. Add a big, strong, sexy green female hero to the mix and suddenly, there’s a lot more value to go around.

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