Thursday, February 16, 2017

Thorsday with Erik Larsen part one : Home

Well, after all the delays you probably thought it might never happen but here it is : the first post on Erik Larsen´s THOR issues for Marvel during the Superman with a hammer or in short SuperThor run by Dan Jurgens.

Now for those who were not around at that time, Dan Jurgens is of course best known for creating Booster Gold and his involvement in THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN storyline which by some is hailed as one of the greatest stories of all time while others say it was one of the reasons for the overblown speculator boom with all the foil stamped glow in the dark gimmick covers and the collapse of the comic book market in the 90s.

Having already written one super - powerful being in comics the next step was to write an actual god, even though it was a minor one, in this case Marvel´s version of the god of thunder, Thor. Again, for some readers this was one of the high points of the title while for others - not so much. As a longtime THOR reader I fell in the latter category since I still remembered the War Of The Pantheons storyline which I had enjoyed very much. So another story with another forgotten pantheon invading Asgard - again - taking the gods hostage - again - only to be ultimately defeated only to be never heard of - again - was just another rehashing of old stories to me.

Especially since the War Of The Pantheons story was not the first story in which the Asgardians were pitted against other gods. Also in my opinion it was not very well written. I mean there are a lot of stories in comics that are similar to other stories but if they are at least well written then they have their own merit. And I´m not saying that I don´t like Dan Jurgens´ writing. If that was the case I wouldn´t have been reading the SUPERMAN titles for as long as I did. But unlike what some people might want you to believe super heroes are not interchangeable because even if they have the same powers they are different and don´t behave the same way. Okay, that sound like a lot of malarkey so let´s have an example : Aquaman and Namor. Basically the same hero, the same powers, the same background.

Both the offspring of an air - breather and atlantean royalty, both breathe underwater, both have super human strength on the level of the most powerful being in their universe ( Aquaman - Superman / Namor - Hulk ) and both were for a time rulers of their respective universe´s version of the underwater kingdom of Atlantis. But while Aquaman has always been a douche until Geoff Johns revamped him to total badass in the NEW 52 Namor has always been one you don´t mess with. Because he does what he wants, takes no flak from anybody and invades the surface world when he´s got nothing better to do on a Sunday. He either works with Doctor Doom or beats him down depending on what suits his plans and he is somebody that is capable of just anything. He´s Marvel´s version of Don Johnson and he will sleep with your better half - just ask Reed Richards.  

Or Flash and Quicksilver. While one is the fastest man alive and - in the case of Wally West who will always be MY Flash - somebody who started out as an obnoxious guy and became one of the nicest, most dependable guys, somebody who started as a sidekick and became a hero in his own rights who even surpassed his mentor the other is a total tool, a complete dick and nutcase whom nobody likes not even nearly as fast as Wally is.

And I could go on and on. The thing is that Dan Jurgens was writing Thor as if he was still writing Superman and what might be in character for Superman might not work for Thor. Because they are not the same guy.

Granted, both are larger than life super heroes who have almost godlike or even godlike power. But while Thor does not really know how it is to be a normal human Superman gets to live something similar as Clark Kent. On the other side Superman has always been looked up to as the living and breathing embodiment of the american way of life and all those values that could be described as decent. In the Marvel universe that role is more closely associated with Captain America ( whom Dan Jurgens wrote after his stint on THOR, but by then it was so obvious that he was using old scripts that were leftover Superman stories that even the comic critics called his Captain America stories Superman with a shield ) not with Thor because Thor is a brash northlander, the god of harvest and lightning and battle who likes to hit things and people with a hammer.

So if Superman would sit in a bar and drink with strangers this would be a very powerful scene because a . ) Superman never drinks and b . ) most definitely not with strangers. If something like this happened it would mean he has sunk very low and is probably feeling very bad. Now as I said Thor is a northlander, viking or whatever equivalent thereof an Asgardian is. Who drink on every occassion they get and they probably have more alcohol than blood in their veins. So to have Thor drinking is not that unnatural. As a member of the Avengers Jarvis had to make sure the fridge was always stoked with enough mead so it is sure to assume Thor was a regular drinker. Not an alcoholic like Tony Stark but he sure kicked a cold one back ever so often. Okay, maybe he would not drink with strangers every day but after a particularly taxing battle to celebrate his victory ?

Why not ? And this is just one of many instances where Thor behaved more than Superman than as Thor under Dan Jurgens´ control. Now no matter what you think of Dan Jurgens´ writing at least he had enough sense to keep Thor as a guy even if he had to give him another secret identity ( after Walter Simonson proved that he really doesn´t need one ) as Jake Olson whom you will see in this and the following two issues.

And while Dan Jurgens used ye olde secret identity schtick to make things easier when he needed a way to bring in additional tension he recognized that the old trope of Thor´s hammer becoming a stick that Donald Blake had to carry around or would loose was too much of a cliche so instead of that Jake just had to strike his fist on the ground to transform into Thor.

One more thing before we get to THOR 26 ( besides the fact that readers of Today´s female THOR may encounter a character they are unfamiliar with : a Jane Foster who makes sense ) for anybody who has not read Dan Jurgens´ THOR and is thinking about getting them : while I am not that much a fan of his writing here it should not stop you from checking out these issues since the artwork by John Romita Jr alone is worth the price of admission. He really knocked it waaaaay out of the ballpark in this one.

By the way, if you are wondering why the Absorbing Man is kidnapping Jane Foster so she can heal Titania instead of trying to exchange her for Thor´s hammer, back then Thor´s hammer had no special healing power.

There are no links for this post because I am too lazy to go through all my bookmarks again after looking for the right videos. Our birthdays are a bit comic book heavy starting with Ron Wilson and that is not because he´s the youngest one but because apparently nobody knows in which year he was born and he´s not telling. Smart move, dude. I think the first I saw of him was the Super Boxers graphic novel back when Marvel first put out graphic novels and was putting a lot of effort into it. He also did a long stint on John Byrne´s The Thing series where he did the historic issue three in which Lockjaw talked for the first time. Seek it out if you want to know what I meant earlier with Quicksilver being a colossal dickhead.

Anyway, some writer later flip - flopped on the story and explained that Lockjaw was not really talking but rather the Inhumans playing a practical joke on Ben Grimm turning all the Inhumans into insensitive dicks. But that always seems to be the case, no matter if it´s the comics or the tv series, somebody always whitewashes the ugly parts of Inhuman society.

I mean, have you ever wondered why the Alpha Primitives have not been on Marvel´s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ? It probably doesn´t go over well doing a recruitment drive. " Oh, those giant machines that keep things going and supply the energy ? We don´t know how they work because we have these ugly, primitive, stupid slaves who take care of them. But do not worry, they are not allowed to come to our part of Attilan into the sun and fresh air. " Just to answer the question why the Inhumans have never sustained a long comic series. Because while they act so enlightened and free spirited they really are a bunch of bigots, hipocrits and genenazis.

Our first on - the - record birthday is british writer Warren Ellis who turns 49. He has done a whole plethora of books but I guess the longest running book of him I read - from start to finish - is Transmetropolitan. Longtime readers of Tales from the Kryptonian know how much I adore that book since I have mentioned it in posts about Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson although I have to say that the success of it has to be put mainly on the feet of the latter. Not because I usually follow artists rather than writers but because as much as I did like Warren Ellis´ writing he did take his time on a lot of the issues and if it hadn´t been for Darick Robertson doing the impossible and sometimes whipping an entire issue out in just a few days the series would have surely crashed and burned in it´s earliest stages. 

I hope his scripts were a bit more on time on another favorite series of mine, Nextwave, Agents Of H.A.T.E. where he worked with the great Stuart Immomen. Unlike Transmetropolitan here there is a specific post I can link to even though I was a bit confused what kind of series it was after reading the first four issues. They DO have a theme song, though.

Tim Bradstreet celebrates his 50th birthday and he has connections to two of Today´s celebrity anniversaries since he not only provided some of the covers for Transmetropolitan but also IDW´s Star Trek ( more on this later ). Although I knew him mostly for his covers for Hellblazer and Punisher. I thought about doing a special post about him but quite frankly if you have two of his covers next to another they already look exactly the same and the effect would only multiply with 22 of them. At first I thought I had to look on the internet for something I could post but them I remembered that he also did covers for the first Human Target series from Vertigo.

From british comic writers we come to british cult tv series as Christopher Eccleston turns 53 who is the one who started it all again with what is now known as New Who. He only did it for one season and the reason for that is a bigger mystery than the Kennedy assassination so I won´t even try to unravel it. I always had the impression that he was like the dude who was in the Beatles and walked away only to regret it later. You know, kind of like the actors who become well known because of their part in a tv series and then they quit the series because they think they can turn their popularity into a movie career only to find out years later that the tv series was the best thing they got going. Kind of Rob Morrow on Northern Exposure or sexy Teri Hatcher on Lois & Clark : The New Adventures Of Superman. In any case, Christopher Eccleston is the one that started the triumphant return of Doctor Who to tv and while he never publicly said anything negative about it he also did not appear in the 50th anniversary special. Which he will probably regret because I´m not so sure if he will be around for his next chance at the 75th anniversary special with 78 years.

Initially I wanted to post a documentary about all of the Doctors but then I decided to go with one that was all Christopher Eccleston. He did play a really good version of The Doctor after all and if there are people who still don´t know what this show is all about, this is the season where you start as they do a pretty good job at setting the whole thing up and explaining what happened between the so - called wilderness years and New Who.

Today we really cover all the bases as our next candidate Ice - T celebrates his 59th birthday. Not only is he an award winning musician, iconic rapper and accomplished actor he also managed to get married to a real life blow up sexdoll who is the personified wet dream of every black man : a white sexual freak built like a sister with an ass that just won´t quit. Since she looks like the original Bart Sears Power Girl come to live with her 39DD - 23 - 45 measurements I cast her in that role in the first part of the Subzero edition of my Casting the Justice League of America movie post series .

I almost posted this clip of Coco´s remarkable chestical control a few times before but since the one I had bookmarked of Brian Williams rapping Straight Outta Compton was deleted I ran out of options. By the way, if you want to see a great movie with Ice - T check out Surviving The Game.

It´s back to brits in comics as John Totleben ( only germans know how macabre and contradictory this name is ) turns 59 who is best known for inking Steve Bissette on Alan Moore´s acclaimed run on Swamp Thing. In the original printing John Totleben´s work can get overpowered by the color but thankfully there was a special black and white edition of this run called Essential Vertigo : Swamp Thing which lasted twenty - four issues.

Writing these short encapsulations can be really rewarding. In the case of LeVar Burton who celebrates his 60th birthday I knew he is best known for the iconic role of Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge in Star Trek : The Next Generation ( I told you we would come back to that ) and before that he was Kunta Kinte in Roots but I had no idea that he was born in Germany.

Since all of my bookmarked Star Trek videos are with the original crew - and we haven´t had a cartoon video yet - here is another show LeVar Burton is known for Captain Planet and the Planeteers where he not only did the voice of Kwame but also was the narrator in the series opening.

Our last comic related birthday is Len Strazewski who turns 62. He was one of the writers on Prime published by Malibu Comics with art by Norm Breyfogle who celebrates his birthday later this month on the 27th.

Since we already covered all the usual bases, from comics to music to sci fi to cult tv shows to cartoons to boobs I can choose the last video from my huge pile of unused stuff. Night of the Ghoul stars Vincent Price and Veronica Carlson so I am not sure for whom it was originally intended.

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Magic is the cheat codes for the world.

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