John Gholson is a life-long Avengers fanboy who has previously covered all manner of superhero news at AOL. After dabbling with comic book self-publishing in the '90s, John moved on to study sequential art at the Savannah College of Art & Design, and currently produces a regular web comic, ‘Appetite for Destruction,’ for Tapsauce.com. He’ll also buy any comic with Hawkeye on the cover. You can read his Avengers Countdownhere at Movies.com every other Monday.
For the longest time, if we wanted to watch animated superheroes, we had to take what we could get. This meant watching Fantastic Four with H.E.R.B.I.E. the Robot instead of Human Torch (lest kids light themselves on fire) or putting up with Marvin and Wendy just to see some Super Friends action. Marvel’s first series, The Marvel Superheroes, was barely even animated. Instead, it featured panels from existing Marvel comics with only voice actors and some slight movement to bring the stories to life.
It’s funny to see things come full circle with the advent of motion comics. These are semi-animated tales based on actual issues that play out like a combination of a movie and an episode of Reading Rainbow. Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers is easily the most impressive of these motion comics that I’ve ever seen, using computer animation to add more life to the panels and bridge scenes together. This effort produces a product that is closer to a cinematic experience than a story time.
It’s the modern day version of The Marvel Superheroes, and it’s a cool way to introduce people to storylines they might not otherwise read. Production values across the board are top-notch, bringing Esad Ribic’s paintings to life with respect to the original artist, and an appropriately villainous performance by David Blair as Loki.
Make no mistake, Robert Rodi’s story is purely a Loki tale (based directly on his 2004 mini-series, titled Loki). From a marketing stand-point, it makes more sense to slap Thor’s name on the cover alongside his evil brother, but the story focuses entirely on the villain. Here, Loki has ascended to the throne of Asgard and imprisoned Thor, but wonders if this is the life he really wants. The story is less of an action-fest, more of a reflective, pseudo-Shakesperian fantasy, the type that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were often fond of writing way back in Journey Into Mystery.
Marvel Knights’ Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers is currently available on DVD from Shout! Factory.
Avengers News Assembled
-- Shout! Factory is releasing the two 1970’s Captain America telefilms (Captain America, Captain America II: Death Too Soon) on one DVD, October 18. Pre-order directly from Shout! here. You can bet I’ll be covering those films soon, right here in this column.
-- Gamepron has some interesting footage of a canceled THQ Avengers game based on the upcoming film. The first-person action game was in development when THQ closed shop on its Australian development studios. There’s a lot of value in the Avengers license, so it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see THQ attempt to finish the game in some form.
-- Remember when some folks were speculating that Captain America: The First Avenger might bomb overseas, due to its American patriotism? Well, it didn’t. In fact, the movie grossed more in foreign markets than it did domestically. At the time of Hollywood Reporter’s numbers, Captain America had grossed $178 million internationally, compared to $173 million in the U.S.
-- Marvel has announced their next major Avengers storyline, Avengers: X-Sanction, a six-issue series from writer Jeph Loeb and artist Ed McGuiness that starts this December. X-Men fan favorite Cable is the star of the story, as he discovers the influence that the Avengers may have had on own his troubled life.
Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Episode Guide
Season 1, Episode 10: “Everything Is Wonderful”
In This Episode: Tony Stark butts heads with competitor Simon Williams, who takes extreme measures to exact revenge against Stark’s alter ego Iron Man. Meanwhile, Captain America is welcomed to the present by Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D.
Just when the show was starting to feel formulaic, along comes “Everything Is Wonderful” to shake things up a bit. There’s a lot of character stuff here, not just between Stark and Williams, but also between Stark and Hank Pym (as well as Pym and Wasp and Cap and Fury). Of course there’s the usual action too, but it comes from the characters and their situation, instead of the “set-up, then battle” rut of the past couple of episodes.
Marvel Universe Watch: Fans of M.O.D.O.K. will be happy to see the big-headed villain take center stage in this episode. Simon Williams doesn’t quite become Wonder Man, but the script is surprisingly faithful to his comic book origin (with some minor exceptions, like replacing Baron Zemo with M.O.D.O.K.). Of course Grim Reaper (voiced by Lance Henriksen) makes an appearance here (being Williams’ brother), and the subplot involving Enchantress is furthered along as well.
Season 1, Episode 11: “Panther’s Quest”
In This Episode: The Black Panther recruits the Avengers to assist him against Man-Ape and restore the Wakandan throne.
I don’t know if I believe that Black Panther could defeat all of the Avengers at once, and it’s obvious they’re doing this to position him as the “Batman” of the team. I like Black Panther, but his appearances on this show have felt somewhat out of character (as a ninja, basically -- even Wasp notes this).
Part of the problem with this episode is that Man-Ape feels like a big bully, not a major threat. It doesn’t make any sense that the Panther would be able to take on all of the Avengers at once, yet still not be able to get Man-Ape out of the picture on his own.
Marvel Universe Watch: Vibranium plays a huge part in this episode, and we see a return of the villain Klaw.
The Avengers, a Joss Whedon film, stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and Chris Hemsworth. There are 228 days until release.