Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: What's On The Carrier Second Guess

The other day I wrote a post about what the "real" S.H.I.E.L.D. was carrying on their ship that was so vital to keep out of the hands of Hydra.  The last episode served to reinforce how important the secret cargo is, as Coulson made sure to let Gonazales know that he is aware of what it is.  Of course, I think now that I was wrong on my initial guess about what the cargo is.

My first guess was that the ship was carrying the A.I. that would become Ultron in its servers.  I thought this was the real reason that Bobbi was instructed to destroy the servers.  However, if this was the case I think they would have had to reveal it this week.  Age of Ultron opens this week, and the AoS tie in has already happened.  So now I am going to take a chance and put out my second guess.  We'll find out in the next two weeks if this one is any better.

We learned earlier in the season that there are more obelisks like the one that transformed Skye and Raina.  We also learned that they are missing.  My new guess is that Gonzales has these obelisks.  I have felt for a while that there will be a terrigen bomb that transforms a large segment of humanity into powered people.  I think this will be one of the events that leads up to Civil War.  I had thought that this might happen in Age of Ultron.  Now I think maybe this will happen on AoS.

This season has shown that they are willing to develop major story points in the MCU on this show (Inhumans).  How amazing would it be if something that happened on this show changed the direction of the MCU, and initiated Civil War?  I don't really know how plausible this scenario is, but I think it would be awesome if this is how it plays out. Let me know your thoughts on the matter.

Did Edward James Olmos Just Give Me A Spoiler?

During last night's live tweeting of AoS for the west coast, Edward James Olmos responded to a tweet of mine with a very intriguing statement.  He had tweeted his line from the show that sometimes sacrifices have to be made for the greater good.  Below is the exchange that came after:

Is he copping to being a villain?  Maybe he's just encouraging her to keep watching.  A very cryptic answer.

On a side note, it is really great how the cast of AoS interacts with their fans on Twitter.  I have only started watching the live tweets in the last two weeks, and I have already interacted with Clark Gregg, Edward James Olmos, and a crew member named Mark Kolpak.

Thanks Aos cast and crew for taking the time to interact with your fandom.  Just another reason this is the greatest show on t.v.

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Vance Astro Needs To Be In Guardians Of The Galaxy 2

Vance Astro needs to be in Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and I am going to tell you why.  If you don't know who Vance Astro is, don't worry, you are far from alone.  I have spent a lot of time reading comics. I also read Wizard religiously, so I was familiar with characters from books I had never read.  But when Marvel announced the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, I had never heard of them.  So I went out and found a bunch of comics.  Right away I noticed that there two different versions.  There were older comics with one team that took place in the future, and newer ones with a completely different team that took place in the current Marvel universe. Vance Astro was part of that original team, though he did show up in the pages of the new team's book.

Vance was an astronaut who was put in stasis and sent to a world a thousand years away.  He would be awakened periodically for a year at a time to do maintenance or perform a course correction.  His body was enclosed in a protective metal sheathing to protect it from the ravages of time.  While in stasis his mind continued to work, causing him to develop psionic powers.  After a thousand years Vance arrived at the planet that was his destination, only to find a thriving civilization of Earth colonists waiting for him.  In the centuries that his trip took, man had discovered the secret of faster than light travel and had beaten him to the planet by several hundred years.  He also found that he could not remove the protective metal covering from his body or he would die instantly.

In the original Guardians of the Galaxy book the eponymous team is a group of freedom fighters against the invading Badoon.  Astro joins the team, which also included a very spiritual, noble savage archetype named Yondu, who you will notice was portrayed very differently in the movie.

In the comics, Vance goes on a quest to recover Captain America's shield, which he then wields in tribute to his childhood hero.  Lacking Cap's skills, he uses his psionic powers to make the shield return to him after he has thrown it.  He is later able to shed the metal suit, and takes up a (very 80's) costume that is very much based on Captain America's.

In the present day Guardians book, they find Vance encased in ice on an asteroid. He has somehow been sent back in time. He is still encased in the suit, and has Cap's shield.  He joins the team and helps them in their fight against Magus, an evil incarnation of the hero Adam Warlock, who was an easter egg in the Guardians movie.

Having explained all that, here is why I think Astro would be a great addition to the second Guardians movie.  First, his back story has a great tragic-comic element that fits perfectly with the tone of Guardians.  Think about it, he volunteered to spend a thousand years by himself on a ship to be the first man to visit an alien planet, only to arrive and find a crowd of people waiting to greet him.

Second, imagine the scene where he is discovered.  A body frozen in ice, then they see the shield.  What a great call back to the first Captain America movie.  Plus, Vance carrying the future version of the shield would give the Guardians a needed link to the rest of the MCU.  He would also be a touchstone for Quill to Earth, as they would have grown up around the same time.

Finally, he could be used to move the story forward.  Coming from the future, he would have seen the results of what Thanos is preparing.  He could warn the Guardians that Thanos is creating the Infinity Gauntlet.   He could be the catalyst for the inevitable Guardians/Avengers crossover which we all assume will take place in Infinity War.

I see a lot of potential in the character, and think he would be a great addition to the Guardians.  Just one thing, if you do use him, please drop the Major Victory moniker.  I can deal with talking raccoons and anthropomorphic trees, but that name is just too corny.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Atari : Game Over

There is a story that has been around for over 30 years now, about a video game that was so bad that it sunk the biggest video game company in the world.Atari: Game Over is a movie about this game, the man who made it, and the truth behind the legend.

The movie goes back to tell the story of Howard Scott Warshaw.  Washaw joined Atari as a video game developer, where he immediately gained success and acclaim as the developer of Yar's Revenge and Raiders of the Lost Ark.  He was approached about developing a game for the new movie E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.  The catch?  It needed to be done in five weeks.  At the time a game normally took six months to get put together.

Unfortunately the resulting game did not catch on.  This was at a time when Atari were already having money problems.  The legend goes that the game flopped so hard that it caused the ruin of Atari, and millions of unsold cartridges were buried in the desert.

This is where the other part of the story comes in.  In addition to interviewing everyone involved with the alleged fiasco, the filmmaker also hooks up with a man on a mission to recover the lost games.  He has managed to get permissions from Alamogordo, New Mexico, where the games were alleged to have been interred, to dig up the site to find the truth.

The filmmaker did a fine job of interweaving these stories.  Game enthusiast and author/actor Ernest Cline is shown racing to the scene of the dig in his Delorian.  Warshaw also makes the scene, along with a surprisingly large crowd of fans.  Warshaw is able to get some closure on this chapter of his past which ended so badly for him.  Who knew that one could get so much emotion and tension from filming some guys trying to dig up some video games in a dump in the desert?

But the movie does capture some real emotion.  It also does a very good job of evoking the early years of Atari.  The thing that it does best, though, is offer redemption for Howard Scott Warshaw, a video game developer who was made persona non-grata for taking on an impossible task, and giving it his best shot.  This movie makes sure the viewer understands the influence this man had on video game development.  It sets the story straight about what happened those many years ago in 1983.  And it shows just how much the art of video game development means to some people, and I do not think one can deny that it is an art.

All in all, a really good movie about a subject that at first blush doesn't seem to merit it.  But the movie makes you understand why the story needed to be told, and makes you happy that it was, and in such an enjoyable manner.

photo credit: <a href="">Atari 2600</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>

photo credit: <a href="">ET the 2600 Game</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>

You can find me on Facebook under the name Geekboy King and on Twitter @geekboyking.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Cartoons Part Of The MCU?

At Emerald City Comic Con, Marvel VP of Animation Production and Development Cort Lane was aked if there might ever be an animated project from Marvel that is part of the Cinematic Universe.  His response was “I can’t announce anything, but things are in the works”.  This statement fills me with a sense of foreboding.  Let me explain why.

I have loved comics since I was a kid.  I remember reading Spiderman and Batman, I loved Superman and Captain America.  I remember getting so excited when the Transformers and G.I. Joe crossed over in a limited series of comics.  And while I read DC (DC and Marvel were really the only two players at the time, especially for kids) I have always been more of a Marvel fanboy.  For the past several years though, I have not been buying or reading comics from wither company.  I either re-read my old issues, or I look for books from independent companies.
Why?  It is not because I outgrew these stories or characters.  I did not suddenly become some sort of hipster who was too cool to read mainstream comics.  The answer is pretty simple.  The companies became so focused on expanding their brand that they for two very important things.  The first is that their customers have limited time and money to spend consuming their product.  The second is that they have to focus on the quality of their product or no one will want it anyway, no matter how loyal they are.

Let’s look at one of my favorite books, The Avengers, as an example.    They were in the middle of a story arc.  I don’t even remember what the arc  was; it wasn’t that great.  It had something to do with a new Captain Britain.  Then that arc was suddenly over before it really felt concluded, and they were doing Avengers Disassembled.  I was mildly irritated that they would just switch gears like that before bringing the original story to a satisfying conclusion.  But like I said, I was not enjoying the first story that much and this new one seemed much more exciting.  Then I found out the new story was setting up the major crossover event House of M.  Then I was a little more irritated.  They broke of the story they were telling just to do a prequel for a crossover?  Well at least once the crossover is done things will get back to normal and they can finish telling the interrupted story.

Then Avengers Disassembled ended without an ending, not surprising since it was just setting up House of M.  Still it was irritating.  This is a book that I had a subscription to.  I had a few well chosen books that I bought every month, and my budget did not allow for buying more than that.  So I could not afford to get the House of M miniseries to complete the story.  I definitely could not afford to buy every title that Marvel was publishing at the time, which was the only way to get the complete story and not be left wondering what the heck people were talking about when they referenced events that took place in another book. 

Then House of M thankfully came to an end.   Even though the Avengers had dissolved, I expected some of the original story threads that had been left hanging to be picked back up and resolved.  Instead, they were all ignored, and they had the jailbreak that led to the New Avengers being formed.  The New Avengers included Spiderman and Wolverine on the team.  Spiderman and Wolverine were already popular characters whose books I was reading.  Part of the appeal of the Avengers was that I could read stories about characters like Captain America, Thor and Iron Man, all of whom I liked but I could not afford to buy their individual books.  But now that the Avengers  consisted of the same characters whose books I was already reading, the case for buying that book was weaker.  And those characters being in the Avengers made for complications in the stories in the solo books, i.e. having to explain why the rest of the Avengers never showed up to help Spidey out or how he could be here dealing with Norman Osborne when he was over there helping the Avengers.

What it all boiled down to was that the quality of the books suffered, coupled with the never ending major crossover events that I did not have the budget to follow.  This drove me away from Marvel comics.  DC did the same thing beginning with Identity Crisis.  I was really enjoying the (I soon learned last) run of Green Lantern with Kyle Rayner wielding the ring.  Then, big crossover event that I couldn’t afford to follow and suddenly Hal Jordan is back as the Lantern.  It was very confusing.

So both companies used mega crossover events in an effort to force readers to buy all of the books they published, disrupting ongoing stories that they never got around to finishing.  The end result, for me at least, is that it drove me away from reading comics.

Which brings me back to the idea of animated works being a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Knowing how these companies operate makes me suspicious that this same pattern of behavior will repeat itself here.  Even if the animated shows show for free on a platform that I already subscribe to, I only have so much time to devote to this stuff.  They also run the risk of getting into continuity muddles they was they did in the comics.  That is why DC is constantly rebooting its comics universe, and Marvel has done a lot of more focused, limited resets on characters. 

If Marvel want to make animated features or shows, by all means they should do so.  But keep them separate from the movies and live actions shows.  Don’t dilute the brand by over extending it.  Part of the reason I enjoy the MCU so much is that it tells stories of my favorite characters without all the clutter that comes these days with reading the comics.  They stand to lose that if they follow the same strategy that they did with the comics.    

photo credit: <a href="">Universal Iron Man</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>

You can find me on Facebook under the name Geekboy King and on Twitter @geekboyking.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: What is on the "real" S.H.I.E.L.D.S.' carrier?

If you have not seen the latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. there will be spoilers.

During last nights episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. there were flashback scenes to an aircraft carrier during the Hydra uprising.  Bobbi and Hartley rescue Mack, and they hook up with Gonzales. Bobbi says they have orders from Fury to sink the ship, and Gonzales says they cannot allow Hydra to get what it is carrying.  What could they have that is so critical to keep out of Hydra's hands? They already have Loki's scepter, Thor took the Tesseract back to Asgard.  Here are the points that I looked at followed by my guess as to what they were protecting.

1. "Real S.H.I.E.L.D. has some major funding coming from somewhere.  Since Coulson is Fury's handpicked successor and has his toolbox, one would assume that he also has any hidden funds and accounts.  But Gonzales and company are able to have troops, weapons, and operate an aircraft carrier.  This is some major dough backing them.

2. When Bobbi was going to destroy the carrier, she was specifically going to take out the servers.  While watching I assumed this was to cripple the ship so they could sink it.  But then I began to think, what if the thing they had to protect from Hydra was on the servers, and that's why she had to destroy them?

3. Edward James Olmos has said that this arc will tie in to Age of Ultron.  The synopsis for Age of Ultron states the Stark develops Ultron from an old security AI program.

O.k., if you haven't figured out where I'm going with this already, here is my theory.  What if the AI that Tony later develops into Ultron is stored on the servers of that aircraft carrier?  Tony Stark is funding the "real" S.H.I.E.L.D., and this connection is how he gains access to the A.I.  All the pieces seem to fit.

What do you think?  Does it make sense, or am I reaching?