Saturday, February 10, 2007

Night Thrasher


Night Thrasher was created by Ron Frenz and Tom DeFalco in Thor #411. In many ways Night Thrasher was an answer to what Marvel Comics had been searching for years for. There answer to DC Comics Batman. Night Thrasher is Dwayne Michael Taylor a wealthy man who is good at inventing things. His parents were both murdered in front of him and as a result he became a crime fighter. He inherited his wealth from them and now runs the Taylor Foundation.
Night Thrasher started a new superhero group called the New Warriors. Members of the group were Nova, Speedball and Namora. The book was quite popular for a few years and got Night Thrasher his own series for a while. It even got Nova his own series again as he was the most popular member.
Earlier in the New Warriors series we saw that Night Thrasher had two guardians. Andrew Chord and Tai. Both were friends of his Fathers from when he fought in Vietnam. Later Night Thrasher was told by a team of criminals called Folding Circle that Tai had captured his Dad and his entire unit when in Nam. Tai was a guardian of a Temple and he used his mystic powers to influence the unit to have children with the women of the temple so he could sacrifice the children to his god for more power. NT’s Dad and Chord tried to stop her but didn’t. Now Chord was magically made to kill Taylors parents. Folding Circle was made up of Tai’s prophecy. The New Warriors tracked the Circle to the temple. The joined them in a battle against Tai where she was killed by the energy she tried to master.
Eventually Night Thrasher left the team to dedicate himself to running his foundation as he thought the real battles for justice were better fought in the boardrooms. In the process he disbanded the New Warriors.
The New Warriors got back together without Night Thrasher. Since they were still using equipment from the Taylor Foundation he monitored what the team was doing. At one point he rejoined them when they went to battle against the agents of the Hand.
The Taylor Foundation suffered some set backs and Night Thrasher made an agreement to have the New Warriors star in a reality show to avoid bankruptcy. The team traveled from town to town across the country to be the heroes for the common man. However, ratings were not good and bankruptcy loomed so to boost ratings they tried to arrest a quartet of villains in Connecticut. It was there that the villain Nitro caused a massive explosion that killed everyone in the area.
If you want to buy the issue seen above then click on the title and you will go to the site where you can buy it.

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Falcon


The Falcon first appeared in Captain America #117. His real name is Sam Wilson. He was a crook from New York who was on his way to Rio when his plane crashed on an island. It was on this island that he was found by the Red Skull and his cosmic cube. Through the cosmic cube the Red Skull created a mental link between Falcon and his bird Redwing. He met with Captain America and they teamed up to defeat the Red Skull and in the process Captain America had found a new partner. With the help of Black Panther the Falcon was given a harness that enabled him to fly. He proved his worth over the years and became an upstanding member of the Avengers and Shield. He and Cap have remained friends but they now operate separately and know they can count on each others help if needed. Falcon has been able to extend his mental link to other birds and can see things through their eyes. He has recently joined Cap in the anti-registration Secret Avengers team in the Civil War mini-series.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Jack-in-the-Box


Jack in the Box is a superhero created by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson and Alex Ross in the Astro City comic book series. He was introduced in Astro City #3 in 1995. There have been three men who have been Jack in the Box. The original was named Jack Johnson. He was an inventive genius who was the first African-American to break into the toy manufacturing industry. However, he found out that the company he worked for, Whamco, was using his inventions for criminal purposes. In order to keep him quiet Whamco kidnapped his Father. Jack used his inventions to become Jack in the Box. He rescued his Father and others that Whamco had kidnapped and brought their criminal plans to light.
Jack Johnson decided to stay a superhero. His outlandish outfit combined with his sense of responsibility and his acrobatics made him seem like a cross between the Creeper and Spider-man. In time he married and had a son he and his wife named Zachary. He was able to keep his identity secret even from his family. Then one day he fell into a trap set by the Underlord. It seemed to the public that both had died in an explosion. It was after he died that Zachary found out that his Dad was Jack in the Box. He also found out that the Underlord was still alive and what his real name was. Zachary became the new Jack in the Box and brought his Fathers killer to justice. He led the public to believe that he was really the original Jack in the Box.
Recently Zachary found that his wife was going to have their baby. He didn’t want his child to grow up without a Father like he did. So he gave up the superhero business and groomed the current Jack in the Box, Roscoe James, to take his place.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Amazing Man


Amazing Man was created in the 1980’s by Roy Thomas and Jerry Ordway but he was placed in the 1940’s were he fought side by side with the heroes of the Golden Age of comics. His name is William Everett an Olympic athlete who had a hard time finding work after the 1936 Olympics. He finally found work as a janitor. During an accident he developed the powers to take on the properties of anything that he touched.
However, he turned his abilities to evil when he was used as a henchman to the Ultra-Humanite. He soon changed sides when he became friends with members of the All Star Squadron. He eventually became a member of the Squadron. On another adventure with the team his powers changed and instead of mimicking properties he gained magnetic powers. Over time he retired and died of cancer. His Grandson inherited his mimic powers and took over the role of Amazing Man for a new generation. The first Amazing Man appeared in All Star Squadron #23.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

James Rhodes Iron Man/War Machine


When Tony Stark was battling his alcoholism his friend James Rhodes took over as Iron Man. While he did a good job he started to get headaches and have attacks of erratic and violent behavior. It was reveled that the reason was because the armor was tuned for Tony Stark’s brainwaves only. Tony was still recovering and not able to wear the armor but he did what he could to help Jim maintain his sanity. However, he grew more paranoid and Tony had to put on prototype armor to stop him. Tony eventually took over the armor again and designed a suit of armor for Jim Rhodes that he wore and called himself War Machine. He fought side by side with Iron Man till Tony Stark had to fake his own death. When Jim Rhodes found out he was alive it ended their friendship and Iron Man and War Machine went their separate ways.
During a solo adventure War Machine got some alien armor. When it seemed that Stark had died for real Jim Rhodes went back to Stark Enterprises. He used his armor to erase any trace of the Iron Man armor from the computers memory to keep it out of enemy hands. After this Jim Rhodes gave up his superhero career.
Later, when it turned out Tony Stark had not died, Jim and Tony became friends again and fought together against a villain who was calling himself War Machine. Currently Jim Rhodes is head of Sentinel Squad O*N*E. He wears armor that they made from Sentinel technology.

You can go to the site to get the comic book above if you click on the title.

Monday, February 05, 2007

1974 and the Punisher




1974 was a year that changed how action was handled in comic books. Mainly it was because of the creation of two characters. Those characters were the Punisher and Wolverine and both were from Marvel comics. Both first appeared in 1974 and at that time it seemed that they would only be guest stars in the Marvel books. I don’t believe that their creators had any conscious intentions to make comic books more violent but in many ways that was the end result. Mostly I will talk about the Punisher as this month is the anniversary of his first being published in Amazing Spider-Man #128. The Punisher was created by Gerry Conway and Ross Andru. John Romita Sr. was Marvel’s art director and helped Gerry Conway create the design of the Punishers costume. All comic book fans know that Frank Castle was an ex-Marine who was out on a picnic with his family when they witnessed a murder and those crooks shot them to keep them quiet. Frank lived and became the Punisher to stop all criminals to have revenge for the murder of his family. While this feeling is understandable and can make for a great action/adventure book Frank, by killing his enemies does them and perhaps his world a great injustice. He takes away any chance for the criminals to change. They can no longer pay any debt to society that they owe and become good citizens. Also, what if one time it turned out he was wrong about a person and he killed someone who was innocent? His whole publication history is filled with violence, revenge and at times insanity. In many ways he is Batman gone one step too far. Bruce Wayne has only been known to kill to save his life or someone else’s life. For a time they tried to make readers believe that the Punisher was only knocking them out with what he called mercy bullets. A young and na├»ve child like myself at the time believed that. It really is to their credit that they did this but after awhile that was gone. When I was younger if Punisher or Wolverine would say they took care of the guard I thought they had just knocked them out and tied them up. After awhile they started to indicate that it meant that they killed the guard.
In his first appearance Frank Castle is hired by the villain the Jackal to kill Spider-Man. Believing the editorials of J. Jonah Jameson in the Daily Bugle that Spider-Man is a menace he takes it not knowing the Jackal is really the bad guy. Once he sees the truth he lets Spider-Man go but warns him if Spidey does change sides that the Punisher will come after him.
The Punisher was a hit and made many guest appearance in the Spider-Man family of books. In the 1980’s he was finally given his shot in a mini-series. Marvel did it reluctantly as he was really a cold blooded serial killer. But Mike Zeck and Steve Grant pleaded their case and won. The series was a hit and soon he had his own ongoing series. It ran for 104 issues before being canceled in 1995. It also spawned two other series The Punisher War Journal ran from 1988-1995 and The Punisher War Zone ran from 1992-1995. He even had a couple of black and white magazines that were for more adult readers. They were The Punisher magazine and The Punisher Armory. Since the cancellation of all of his books he has been a guest in books like Daredevil, Captain America, the Nam and the hard to believe cross over with Frank Castle meeting Archie Andrews. He has had his own mini-series again and was a staple of the Marvel Knights family of characters. Recently he has been in the Civil War series as a reluctant solider following Captain America’s orders.
None of this is to say that violence in comic books stared with the Punisher. When comic books started many of the heroes were pretty violent. Batman even carried a gun for awhile. However, most of the heroes had to have a good reason to use violence. Most of the violence was acceptable since many of the heroes were helping to fight World War II. Since the 1950’s and the creation of the Comics Code Authority most violence was kept in check until the 1970’s. It is just my humble opinion that you could point to 1974 as the year when unnecessary violence started to make its comeback with the creation of the Punisher and later Wolverine. Don’t get me wrong I was like a lot of people. I bought many of the Punisher books and some of the copy cats that later appeared. Many of my family and friends thought it was odd that a non-violent person that I was would enjoy these books. Like I said before it was pretty good fiction for adults. I just hope a younger more impressionable reader didn’t think this was the way justice or law and order should be handled in real life.

The Black Hood


The Black Hood was really a hero from Archie Comics. However, Archie had a hard time reintroducing comic book buyers to their superheroes. They had been trying for years but with no luck in gathering interest in them. So in 1991 they licensed them out to DC Comics in hopes they could have better luck. However, DC didn’t do very well with them either. It isn’t, in my opinion, that they were bad. Some of them were pretty good. I think the problem lay in that they didn’t add them into the DC Universe. Instead they started a sister line of comic books with Impact Comics. The one I found most interesting was the Black Hood. It seems that the hood that was worn to mask the face of the crime fighter was enchanted. No matter who wore it they were always filled with the notion to fight evil and all of their abilities and talents were enhanced. Wearing of the hood was also addictive. Once a person wore the hood they had a hard time not putting it back on. The hood had existed for centuries and had been worn by a French woman who was much like Joan of Arc and a western crime fighter whose adventures inspired the creation of the Lone Ranger. My favorite was when it was wore by an African-American gangster named Giles “Hit” Coffee. He was a main man on many crimes in town and for a few issues he came into possession of the hood. No matter how hard he tried he always put on the hood and stopped the crimes that he had helped to set up. It was driving his the other criminals crazy on how the Black Hood knew where to be to always stop them. Eventually he was successful in taking off the hood and it wound up with a teenage boy. The teenager eventually became a younger version of Marvel Comics the Punisher who was very popular at that time.
I think they should have stayed with “Hit” Coffee as the Black Hood. It would have been fun to see him bring down the cities criminal organization from the inside. It would have also been fun to see how he kept them from finding out that he was the Black Hood. Either way for a few issues Giles “Hit” Coffee qualified as a black superhero in the history of comic books.

The Impact Black Hood ran for 12 issues and one annual before all of the Impact books were canceled.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

God is always willing to forgive us

And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.
Luke chapter 17 verse 4 KJV

Since forgiveness is an expression of love, a person whose life has an endless supply of love should be demonstrating an endless supply of forgiveness. We can experience unlimited love in our relationship with God. It is this resource that makes it possible for us to forgive others again and again. First, we recognize that God forgives us time and time again. Second, we want to express God's love in a world that needs desperately to witness it.

Black Goliath




Black Goliath is really the second Giant-Man. The first Giant-Man was Dr. Hank Pym. Dr. Bill Foster was his assistant and was introduced in the Avengers #32 in 1966. He did not become the superhero Black Goliath until 1975. His first appearance as that character was in Power Man #24.
Dr. Foster got Pym particles while in the employ of Hank Pym and it gave him the ability to grow 15 ft. tall and the strength to go with it. As all good men and women of comic books do he decided to use his new powers to fight crime. In 1975 he very briefly had his own series for five issues. He has been a member of various groups such as the Champions, the Defenders and the West Coast Avengers. While with the West Coast Avengers he changed his name to Giant-Man. However, it was soon revealed that Foster was dying of radiation poisoning from a battle with Atom-Smasher years ago. Spider Woman is immune to radiation but when she saves Fosters life with a blood transfusion she looses her immunity. Later, in another battle Bill Foster looses his powers when everyone, except for Hank Pym oddly enough, who came into contact with Pym particles loose control of their powers. Over the years since then other teams and heroes have been able to call on their old friend Dr. Bill Foster for help. Recently he was seen in the mini-series Civil War as an undercover agent on the side of Captain America as a member of the anti-registration Secret Avengers. In issue #4 of that series Black Goliath was killed by a clone of Thor. His final words were oddly prophetic. He said “Get ready for the shortest comeback in history Thor.” With his death many on Iron Man’s pro-registration team changed sides. They started to question Iron Man’s cause. However Tony Stark did pay for his burial. He had to buy 38 plots as they could not shrink him back to normal size. The character of Bill Foster was created by Stan Lee and Don Heck but his identity of Black Goliath was created by Tony Isabella and George Tuska in Power Man.