Saturday, January 3, 2009

The 2008 SANCTUM AWARDS!

WELCOME to the 1st of what we hope to be ANNUAL
"SANCTUM AWARDS"*!
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These awards are now to be awarded to the BEST (and WORST) of what 02008 had to offer!

Let's get to it, shall we. We've waited a YEAR for these...


BEST DOCTOR STRANGE APPEARANCE:

Actually, not too many "good" appearances this year. So sad to be a Doctor Strange fan.

The runner's up:

- Marvel Zombies3 # 3 -
BAD. But funny. So... kinda good.
Basically, for those who didn't read it... Doc has been reduced to a nearly mindless lotus-position hovering, drooling, head-tilted-to-the-side "ohm"-chanting mystical doorman.
He's only in one or two panels, but his appearance in this book... sad as it is... is gold.

- Spider-Man Family # 7 -
Sitting down to tea with "The Looter". Nice, quiet and helpful Stephen Strange. A small appearance, but I liked it.

- Marvel Adventures : Hulk # 8 -
"Strangely" it seems many of the "good" appearances this year were "kiddie comix". Strange in this is NOT the 616 version, but another "Adventures" retooling. Not great, but nothing done to outright destroy the character. Nothing to HELP him either, really. But still, it held it's own for what it was.

- New Avengers # 37 -
Huzzah! Doc isn't treated as being useless! Conjures up illusions of other heroes and then tackles - and defeats - the Hood & his demon in a very cool scene.
Sadly, it leads to the utterly weak New Avengers Annual # 2 (and the even weaker revelation of the Hood's demon being DORMAMMU?!?, but none of that bull is shown in this appearance), but that can't take away from a decent appearance.

The Winner:
- Marvel Adventures Super-Heroes # 5 -
My write up for this comic can be found HERE.
I still have many "issues" with this comic (all can be found in my write-up - including another pointless retooling of his origin) and it is FAR from perfect, but even with those failings it handles Doctor Strange in a very positive and respectful manner - doing a lot to ADD to the overall strength of his characterization and abilities. I wish there was something BETTER, from the "616" Marvel Universe proper, to give the award to, but with nothing better having come out in 2008 (of course, after I publish this, I'll be reminded of that ONE fabulous issue of something)... the award goes to this issue.

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WORST DOCTOR STRANGE APPEARANCE:
Far, far too many this year. And I didn't even include ALL of the bad ones...

Runner's up:

- New Avengers Annual # 2 -
Killed. Then, brought back (via ZOM-energies - which was alright) then runs away after having a ZOM-trum. Leaving his Sanctum & all his talismans to whomever is going to snatch them up. weak.

- Giant Sized Avengers # 1 -
2 panels and "borrowing the physics of another dimension" to make a mind-meld/ history replay? Isn't that one of the uses for the EYE of Agamotto?

- Marvel Zombies3 # 3 -
OK. It was FUNNY (and good to see he didn't get killed outright by the car avalanche back in the first issue of the first series). But this? Braindead/undead Strange? Sad. So sad.

- Cable/Deadpool # 46,47,48 -
Having Deadpool KILL other-dimensional denizens for their mystical energies to bring another villain back to life? What??

- Amazing Spider-Man # 555 -
One spell & faints; "totally spent"? Beautifully DRAWN, but crap!

The "Winner":
- Giant Sized Astonishing X-Men # 1 -
Only a few panels but rendered UTTERLY USELESS! Knocked out (again!) without doing ANYTHING, and then slept through all the meaty part (where the Eye Of Agamotto would have allowed him to perceive the unreality and be the hero) and then forced back to consciousness by Spider-Man beating on him (thankfully off-panel) and then shown to be USELESS again! Better that he STAYED unconscious.

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BEST "6-dimensions" APPEARANCE (hero):

Runner's up:

- Brother Voodoo in: New Avengers # 29 & 30 -
oh? That was from 2007? Crap! I wasn't blogging then. And it WAS REALLY GOOD! Oh well... but the collected edition came out in 2008, right? Does that count? No? Damn.
OK then...
- Brother Voodoo in: Cable/Deadpool # 48 -
Treated with respect and given a little more than the usual background appearance.
Sadly, only a LITTLE more than that, I'm afraid.

- Man-Thing in: X-Men First Class # 8 or # 11 -
Both are good. # 8 is a nice full story guest-starring role, but # 11 has a cameo with the most adorably-drawn (by Colleen Coover) rendition ever seen. As a plus, that little cameo is an important part of the story.

- Nighthawk in : Last Defenders -
Not a good series, but Nighthawk is truly the heart of the team. That was emphasized here. He comes across as a bit whiny in places and ineffectual, but in the end he wins out and outmaneuvers Tony Stark and the Initiative.

The Winner:
- Clea in : King Size Spider-Man Summer Special #1 -
A competent, heroic showing! Able to discern the evil nature of the threat all by herself, and assemble the team to take down the Enchantress. No Dr. Strange involvement of any kind. No helplessness. WIN!

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WORST "6-dimensions" APPEARANCE (hero):

Runner's Up:

- Black Knight in : Captain Britain & MI-13 # 7 -
Fooled by a fake Ebony Blade? It might be too early to call on this, since that storyline continues in upcoming issues.
I'll give the writer, Paul Cornell, some leeway. He's earned it.

- Man-Thing in : Marvel Comics Presents # 12 -
Cute story idea (Man-Thing being given an order to join the "Initiative"), but not a good depiction of Manny. It shows him acting somewhat via conscious THOUGHT, and even aggressive behavior where he would normally just take the abuse, shrugging it off.
It is also one of the very few instances where he is shown to be able to utter SOUNDS (in this case a cry of pain).
I'm not averse to the occasional utterance. Once in awhile, it's alright. So long as it's not actual WORDS, I'm cool with it. Still, not a great appearance (but nicely drawn). I will say that I'm intrigued by the main antagonist being able to walk off with a dried up Man-Thing head (while the swamp would reconstitute him again in a new body). It adds a strange layer to the mythos to think that if one would just "add water" to that head, there's be TWO Manny's walking shambling around (at least until the two would merge perhaps).
Not bad enough to garner the "top" slot.

- Son of Satan in : - Last Defenders -
I'm on the fence with this one. It might even have been a "BEST OF" appearance, but it felt forced. He tried to be a student of the Ancient One before Strange? Fine. I'll go with it. Trying to atone and come to grips with himself and his powers? That's been a staple for him, so... OK. That final armored costume? Ghastly. Overall, not a great take on Daimon Hellstrom. As I stated, a bit forced. However, I will grant that with his good/bad personal schism, it might be true that he'd try his hand at the hero thing again.

The "Winner":
- Jennifer Kale in : Man-Thing : Dead of Night - Issue # 2
A retelling/updating of Manny's origin isn't necessary. Why does Marvel DO this all the time? You don't have to reinvent the damned wheel! And even though the entire Mini-series was just a wank-fest for gratuitous cheesecake and violence, it DID have a few redeeming parts. However, that just isn't enough to excuse the bad stripper-demon-witch-woman that they turned Jennifer Kale into with this.

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BEST "6-dimensions" APPEARANCE (villain):

Runner's Up:

- Master Pandemonium in : Young Avengers Presents # 3 -
I must say that this was a VERY GOOD issue from top to bottom. Wiccan & Speed (Scarlet Witch's sons) are on a road-trip to discover the whereabouts of their mother and fall into the "lair" of Master Pandemonium; who was once the whole big-bad to the "imaginary sons of Wanda" magilla.
Master P is given some depth and pathos here. A really good turn and almost the winner of this award.

- Magic Skrull in : Captain Britain & MI-13 # 3 (multiple consecutive issues) -
An awesome visual with nearly all the mystical swag and power-up items from the Marvel Universe. Still, pretty much JUST a visual though.

- Nightmare in : Incredible Hercules # 118 -
Taking a step from his 1990's mini-series wherein he used machines to extract fear, he is now using a variation on that in his domain. And finally, an appearance where he ISN'T trying to quit the job of "Lord of Dreams". As of late, that's all he's been trying to do - escape his role. However, with this issue, he steps up to the plate to take down Godlings.

- Dr. Doom in : - Mighty Avengers # 10 -
With the exception of a few minor false steps - character wise, it was a very good appearance for DOOM. Right down to the end with his double-crossing Iron-Man and trying to blow him (and the Mighty Avengers) up.

- Dr. Plokta in : - Captain Britain & MI-13 # 6 (multiple consecutive issues)
Plokta nearly wins if for no other reason, than that he's a cool new villain with an interesting look (in not wholly original - he's the "bad" Eternity lookalike). If he IS the creator of the Mindless Ones, that just adds to the mythos. However, his "dream corridor" is enough to garner him some serious attention.

The Winner:
- "Nisilette the Unimaginable" in : - Marvel Adventures Super-Heroes # 5 -
I DO truly like the addition of an other-dimensional entity who would surely spell the end of all things... IF she were to be "imagined" into existence from the void. A very nice, very welcome imaginative addition to Strange's gallery of mystic entities and possible adversaries.


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WORST "6-dimensions" APPEARANCE (villain):

Runner's Up:

- Yandroth in : Last Defenders -
Like Nighthawk & Son of Satan from this same series, this appearance and characterization just seemed a bit forced (to me, anyway). It certainly was head and shoulders above his LAST appearance, as a bulbous-headed troll-like "Sorcerer" from the last DEFENDERS "series". However, while bringing him back to his Scientific roots and Machiavellian scheming, it seemed a "quantum-jump" of ability (such as his "quantum-jumping" in the series). I approve of his newfound "strength of ability, but his whole "the Defenders as a cosmic recipe" left me cold - and not wanting to leave a tip. (Much less pay for the "meal".)

- Nightmare in : F.F. True Story (mini-series) -
Nightmare's been (mostly) lame for quite a while now. This didn't help him any. A bumbling loser who admits to himself (and all those around him) that perhaps that's all he's supposed to be?!? No. That's just the fault of Marvel writer's and editorial. Nightmare can and should be the creepiest bugaboo that makes you cower at every shadow and the thought of falling asleep should keep you awake.

- Dormammu in : New Avengers # 46 -
WHAT? Dormammu is the demonic "benefactor" of THE HOOD's... hood?
Where the hell did THAT come from?
Bad.

The Winner:
- Dr. Doom in : - Mighty Avengers # 11 -
With spoken dialogue and inner thoughts so totally WRONG to what Doom would normally speak/think. This is the issue with the internet-meme "Cow-Mouth" and "Whore's heart" rant that proves that writer Brian Michael Bendis is just in love with his OWN writing, no matter from WHOM he has the words emanate. Characterization epic fail.

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BEST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related (overall) TITLE:

Runner Up:

- Ghost Rider -
Honestly, this thing has become quite good the past year.
The "G.R. is and has always been an ANGEL" aspect is unnecessary, and seems to be mere plot-twist for the sake of change window-dressing, as the rest of the new direction is flat-out GOLD. The great stories could still be achieved with the old dynamic, however.

The Winner:
- Captain Britain & MI-13 -
The best little supernatural "Defenders" title out there!
Words can't describe it. The only thing that it needs is some DOCTOR STRANGE!
And, here's hoping for an appearance by Mortigan Goth in 2009!

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WORST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related (overall) TITLE:

Runner up:

- NEW AVENGERS -
This came SO CLOSE to "winning" the "Worst Title" slot. SO CLOSE.
However, the series as a WHOLE isn't bad (well... not always), just the portion that had Doc as a member (and not even ALL of that). Doc was just a bad fit from start to finish with this low-level team. It was nice to see him trying to help out the "underground" heroes, but the fact that he didn't just make all the other team-mates redundant by his sheer vast ability made me think back to the worst of the old Defenders series, where he's fighting the Sons of the Serpent and getting conked on the head to keep him from single-handedly solving the problem.
Low-level street thugs should NOT be the primary fight for the Sorcerer Supreme. Heck, not even for a Master of the Mystic Arts.
No. Brian Michael Bendis' ham-handling of Strange throughout (and in the Illuminati - which was itself a New Avengers spin-off) was not respectful to the character. Certainly, Bendis gave Strange a few nice touches; such as the mysteriously hidden Sanctum Sanctorum, and he had Strange pull out some cool spells; like ones to make the Mighty Avengers wet themselves, or to cause the HAND ninjas to zone out, as well as the "hide-and-seek" with Brother Voodoo. However many of his spells and abilities; such as his astral form going to detect if the"captured Captain America" was the real deal, or like the "Spell of Tartashi" which would detect if anyone had bad intentions was a failure, and fortunately for "Skruller-Woman" the spell to determine what the heroes "true natures" are was cast after she defected.
Those just seemed to be there to give merit to the Skrull's "total" genetic (mind & body) makeovers. While "Spider-Woman" is shown to be doubled over after the "good intent" spell, she obviously was able to thwart it.
The Eye of Agamotto would have been able to penetrate ANY disguise - no matter HOW complete. It "reveals TRUTH". End of story. Anything else is merely a writer's device to prop up their poor story structure.
The poor writing is also evident in the mock latin spell casting. Instead of coming up with good (or even rhyming) spells Bendis simply tosses "Miftana Fantadada"around.
While it might be fun to say that (or "Zanyatta Mondatta" or "Roseanne Rosannadanna" or "Bananarama") Strange ALREADY has a full list of entities and spells with which to perform his feats. If you don't want to get all rhymey ("Seven rings hath Ragadorr, indigo to deepest black, may Oshtur grant me something more; the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak!), then at the very least use his Mystical Entities and principalities in short-form; "By the Images of Ikonn", "By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth!" or, since Bendis likes a good cuss-word, lift something from Brian K. Vaughan's 'The Oath'; "By the Hoary #@$%^ng Hosts!"

Still, there WERE some good points in the run and the series overall, and as such avoids the dubious "honor".

The "WINNER":
- LAST DEFENDERS (mini-series)-
I saw what Joe Casey was going for, but it didn't make it. Not even close. Add that to the fact that he makes the Ancient One pull the old "Stephen Strange is the CHOSEN ONE" bullshit... which is a peeve, and flat out wrong for the origin of Strange to really work. Still, the team members are weak and the passing of the Nighthawk costume (in a move that was broadcast from the first issue) is poor treatment of one of Marvel's great unsung heroes.

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BEST EASTER-EGG-type APPEARANCE:

Runner Up:

- Marvels ; Eye of the Camera # 1 - (as seen HERE)

The Winner:
- Amazing Spider-Man # 560-
Marcos Martin adds Dr. Strange to an art show at the MoMA, with an Andy Warholian print.

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WORST EASTER-EGG-type APPEARANCE:
- No such thing this year. They were ALL appreciated!

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BEST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related SWAG:

Runner's Up:

- Daniel Danger's SANCTUM SANCTORUM limited edition art print
(from the Gallery1988's "Tribute to Stan Lee" show - seen HERE.)
I love it and am still waiting to hang it prominently in my own Sanctum Sanctorum.

- Dr. Strange 'toon tumblers - (as seen HERE & HERE).

- Dormammu hand-painted lead figure -
From the UK's "Classic Marvel Figurine Collection".
A nice piece of swag that comes with a magazine that gives all the info on the Lord of the Dark Dimension.

- Dr. Strange hero-clix (from the Secret Invasion line) -
Shown seated in the "lotus position" with ASTRAL form emerging (which is something that I've been petitioning - really - to happen with an Action figure or statue). However, the face on the sculpt looks more Groucho Marx than Stephen Strange.


The Winner:
- CLEA HEROCLIX (from the Secret Invasion line) -
Just because it's ABOUT TIME she got some merchandise love! A good sculpt in a positive pose, holding a spell book (perhaps the Book of the Vishanti - or the personal spell-book she was given by Stephen Strange way back when). What's NOT to love?

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WORST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related SWAG:

Runner Up:

- Triple-A Baseball Heroes comic -
It's great to give some promotional goodies out for the masses - anything to bring in new readers who might not already be comic book readers, but at least try to make some SENSE. Doctor Strange is sent up against the Mole Man's hoards while protecting the minor league baseball park in Durham, NC.
He's only in one small panel... so maybe this would ALSO be "Worst Easter-Egg" as well? But still, it gets people to see comic heroes who might not normally do so... not all bad.

The "Winner":
- Marvel "MasterPieces" 2008 card sets (series 2 & series 3) - & - VS cards -
THIS is CRAP.
A baseless money-grab. Many cards reuse old artwork (many from OTHER older card sets as well!) and then have some sets be printed in three forms (regular, gold bordered & holofoil), so that if you're a collector, you have to get the same card(s) THREE TIMES - and some of them are NOT cheap.
Even if they didn't come in multiple formats, releasing two, nearly identical sets of cards (even WITH some differences and new subsets) is merely greedily preying upon the collector's mentality and good-will.


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BEST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related HOMAGE:

Dr. Orpheus - from THE VENTURE BROS. animated show on Cartoon Network.

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WORST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related HOMAGE:

I honestly don't recall seeing any this year. But, I hadn't looked all that hard.

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BEST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related NEWS:

Runner's Up:

- A new DR. STRANGE series -
Possibly to spin out of his recent misfortunes from New Avengers / World War Hulk? Anyone who has been reading of promised further exploits of Doctor Strange as long as I have will doubtless be wary of believing this outright.

- A DR. STRANGE movie -
A film to be put on fast-track with possible direction by Guillermo del Toro and a possible writer in Neil Gaiman and a possible star in Christian Bale.
I'll possibly believe this as it possibly gets closer to possibly being possibly real.
I've personally read at least 3 Dr. Strange "movie" scripts from projects that were "possibly" being made. (None of the scripts were any good, btw).

- ROM SPACEKNIGHT rights being filed / renewed by Hasbro -
As I blogged about HERE.
What this could mean is exciting! And yet... could just be a placeholder.

The Winner:
- Neither or ALL. -
Promises are all well and good, but BOTH of those DR STRANGE news-bits have been made several times over the past decade or so.
The ROM news is good. Let's hope for at LEAST an action figure!

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WORST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related NEWS:

Runner's Up:

- No DOC in Secret Invasion -
After being promised that he WOULD play an important part. However, seeing as how S.I. was a freaking MESS that was nowhere NEAR what the hype would have led us to believe, it might have been for the best.
Sadly, the news came LONG after I ordered and paid for my multiple copies of the mini series and tie-ins. All on that flimsy promise that Doc would be a player,
WHEN will I learn?

- A New Sorcerer Supreme? -
DOC to be hobbled and having his title stripped from him?
ANOTHER tear-down of a character that doesn't NEED to be rebuilt.
Joe Q stated in a recent interview (HERE) that Strange is a character that could never support a series... unlike Moon Knight who is now in a series "for years".
(Moon Knight's only had his new series for 2 years, Joe. Let me know when Moon Knight EVER gets to 80 or 90 issues, which is pretty much what issue Doc has been rebooted or canceled. And even THAT doesn't count, since Doc's 2nd series ended with issue # 81 and was IMMEDIATELY swept into the 2nd Strange Tales series, which detailed his fall and rise from the dark arts (sound familiar?) and then went IMMEDIATELY into his 3rd series, which lasted another 90 issues. The best Moonie's ever done is 60 issues.)

"Definitely NOT the Winner":
- Steve Gerber died. -
Creator / Writer of Howard the Duck & one of the best to ever handle Man-Thing and the Defenders (and anything ELSE he lay his pen upon)... his passing was tragic.

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2009 PREDICTIONS:

- ULTIMATUM will bring about the demise of Doctor Strange "Jr". (At least I HOPE so.)
If not... get him to step up as a character. He suxx the way he is.

- The "New" Sorcerer Supreme will be a temporary storyline.
If Marvel was going to toss Strange out the window, they'd have done so by now without the past few years of wreaking total havoc to his status quo.

- Night Nurse will no longer be linked to Strange romantically.
A nice diversion and a really good idea (it added to Strange's supporting cast, which once was strong, but over the years had been culled by bad crossovers and multiple re-workings).
Sadly, IF she's seen again, it won't be as his girlfriend. At least, not for very long after his return.

- Man-Thing won't have a new series.
He WILL appear in a few guest shots.
Maybe a one-shot or special project will be released.

- ROM Spaceknight has had his rights re-registered by Hasbro.
That won't manifest in a new comic series (at least not in 2009).
And it might not be by Marvel.
ROM may very well get an action figure however.

- The Sanctum Sanctorum Comix blog will have a LOT of GREAT stuff here for all of 2009!
THAT's a prediction we all want to come true!


Thanks for stopping by.
Any thoughts, criticisms, agreeing and/or differing opinions?
Discuss them in the comments section.

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* Award image at top of the post is a re-tooled image from Strange Tales v1 # 117, by Steve Ditko.

7 comments:

Howard said...

Agree with all you say. I gave the best appearance to NA Annual 2, because at least he did SOMETHING that demonstrates the power at his disposal. I know that made your list as one of the worst of the year, and also understand why.

Great and insightful list. Glad you're doing this.

-HH

Lightning Strike said...

I don't like that the Hood is from Dormammu either. And at least explain why Dormammu would do this and how it ended up in his possession.

And it seems like Marvel writers like Bendis don't know how to write Strange. This is one of the most powerful characters in the MU, and could (should) have had more of an impact on the New Avengers team. Your mention of Amazing Spiderman #555 & GS Astonishing X-Men #1 are perfect examples of this. This is why I feel that Strange works better solo and should never have been on that team. But I suppose if he were placed on the right team with the right creative team, it would work.

I totally agree with you about Captain Britain & MI:13. This is a GREAT book. And it doesn't hurt that two of my favorite characters are in it (CB and BK). But yeah, the part about Dane not knowing he didn't have the real Ebony blade is silly. He would DEFINITELY know if he had the real one or not. And you're right, an appearance by Mortigan Goth in that book would be cool.

One other thing bugs me though from that book. BK went from having Strider, his new weapons and costume from H4H back to his original costume (or close to it) and having just the (fake) Ebony blade on this team without any explanation as to why. There should really be a flashback or something showing the Lady of the Lake taking those things back or something.

The Estate of Tim O'Neil said...

We'll have to disagree on the Last Defenders. Obviously not without faults, but the good far outweights the bad in my eye. At least, it seems to me there was a lot more thought put into the series than its detractors gave it credit for (not you, I sense you got exactly what he Casey was going for and it just didn't click for whatever reason).

But anyway - Hasbro and Marvel are kissin' cousins now that Hasbro does all the Marvel toys. So... if Hasbro has the rights again, I imagine it would NOT be difficult to conceive that Marvel might be regaining tlicensing rights...

~P~ said...

Hey guys!
Happy New Year's you you all.

Allow me to address these three comments here in one reply.


Howard, thanx for the kind words.
New Avengers Annual # 2 DID have Strange do stuff, it's true, but most of what he did was involuntary and Zom-influenced (which IS kinda cool, in and of itself, but not a good showing for Strange).
At least that's MY 2cents.

Always glad to know you're reading this stuff.
Now, if only I didn't write ALL of my posts in a hasty rush of stolen moments.
It would be nice to actually sit down and put some REAL thought into this stuff, but if I did so, I'd average ONE post per month.

------

Lightning Strike,

Sadly, Strange needs a writer who is more into the religious / ethereal / mythical and/or flat-out occult to work properly.
OR, like Stan Lee & Steve Ditko, can FAKE it convincingly enough.

"Comic book" writers (at least guys who specialize in super-hero comics) aren't usually up to the task these days.

I have a few theories on WHY that is (now more than in decades past), but that's a subject for a post all it's own - one day.

There ARE a few good writer's out there who have done interesting things with Doc, but they seem to be hard to come by these days or are involved with other, higher profile (or creator-owned) projects.

As for Black Knight, he has been shown to be using the Shield of Night & Sword of Light in addition to the Ebony Blade (up until these issues with Plokta. It seems that Plokta's dark energies and "desire"-based abilities are making Dane & the "Ebony Blade" act out of their needs for each other, so he's ignored his other tools while inside that house.

I will give Paul Cornell MORE than enough leeway to get to his tale in good time.
He has pulled out ever-better issues consecutively each month, and while that MIGHT be a fluke, I don't feel that it is.
He seems to have a well laid-out plan for this title.

Give him time to get to all the Black Knight goodness.

And yes. Mortigan Goth; IMMORTALIS, NEEDS to be in this book.

------

And... to the esteemed Mr. O'Neil... I am honored sir.
I have long enjoyed YOUR blog - immensely, I must say. So glad to have you take a glance my way.

LAST DEFENDERS was a tough nut to chew.
Not that it was difficult in any way.
But, it just seemed that everyone in the title was being written FOR the direction of the mini and not as a natural, "organic" direction that their character's might normally have "chosen" for themselves.

Odd to say it that way, I know.
However, how many times have writers stated that the characters dictate their directions and spoken words? If you just let the character FLOW through you (as a vehicle for the character) and don't get too involved in the process of DIRECTING the events, the story usually seems much more natural and believable.

Of course, we ARE talking about guys in tight pajamas punching out other guys in pajamas with some godlings, demons and disembodies Recorder robots from Rigel here... so... it isn't all going to seem "natural".

Still, most of the direction of this vehicle (even taking into account the CIVIL WAR / INITIATIVE fallout that drove the bus) had many of it's "passengers" (with the exception of She-Hulk who was consistently herself) a little out-of-step with who they have been in the past, and a bit forced onto this new road.

Yandroth was great, and finally brought BACK to his early Dr. Strange-appearance level of capable evil, with some NEW tricks up his sleeve to boot! But, it was too BIG a jump in too little time from his last appearance.
Certainly, time-jumping might allow for that to work, but it just didn't "feel" right here.

Nighthawk WAS still the guy ever-striving to be the hero he would like or need to be. Still in love with the very idea of the Defenders. AND still the same guy he always had been.
However, it was BECAUSE of the fact that he was so good at being the lovable underdog that it was such a kick to the crotch for them to give away his identity.

Son of Satan... it's very hard to give an opinion on his treatment in this because his directions over the past several years has been ALL over the map.
Good guy, son-of-a-bitch who drove Hellcat insane, embracing his "father's" way, becoming a "lord of hell", then ONE of the lordS of hell, then he's a Mephisto-level manipulator, then the "Son of Satannish"/Grandson of Dormammu?, then a real angel with a devil's face and now the superhero again (in one of the WORST looking get-ups ever seen)...
He's whomever the writer wants him to be.
Sadly, that's been too many things over the years for anyone to really care WHAT he's doing now, or believe that it'll last for long.

The abortive line-ups were interesting, idea-wise, but to do them justice it needed to be a maxi-series, and not a mini. Just not enough time to really flesh out that idea or to flex it's muscles.

The types of teams assembled were interesting -UNTIL the Last (and "correct") Final one.

I wasn't sold on that - at all.
I get what Casey was going for;
Give the readers "The Defenders" but without the 4 big guys that "just wouldn't work together".
But, it tasted like bad margerine, when I really like my butter.


I'd be willing to give them another mini-series to really SELL that team to me; but with a false Nighthawk, a bad Sub-Mariner-lite, and (she could be on ANY team, not that it has ever mattered) She-Hulk... I would need to be dazzled.
I'm inclined to give Son of Satan more leeway since I like him. I know no one's been able to nail him down as a character, but I don't mind it as much.
He's the son of "Satan(nish)"... nothing should be straight-up with him.

And lastly, the artwork.
The art on that series was too coloring-book for my tastes.
Not horrific, mind you.
And, perhaps, a "basic" superhero title like DEFENDERS might benefit from some basic styled artwork... maybe.
But even if that's the truth (and it very well MAY be), I just didn't like the specific artist chosen.

Try some other "straight-up" superhero artist, if you'd like. But for MY money (and I say that knowing art appreciation IS subjective and individual)... I just didn't like it this time around.


Oh... and ROM!
Yeah. I didn't say that Marvel WOULDN'T get the rights. They certainly MIGHT (and personally, I think it's very likely).
However, no one's able to say for sure that a bigger deal might not be offered to Hasbro from some other company trying to steal away some old Marvel fans.

All I'm saying is that we (probably) won't see it in 2009.

-------

Thanks again guys.
As always, I may be WRONG about EVERYTHING I've said.

Be well and come back again.

~P~

Christian LeBlanc said...

Great stuff! Just wanted to defend the VS cards, though.

As for the 'masterworks' cards, I never took them seriously or looked into them, so I'll probably agree with you there.

Now, I found the VS cards to be a lot of fun, but, are you referring to ones that came out in 2008 (I've pretty much stopped following the game), or appearances from the Marvel Team-Up set? The (old) artwork used in new VS cards just seems to be thrown in randomly, and looks like a dog's breakfast. So it looks like I'm agreeing with you on the newer cards, but disagreeing if you're referring to slightly older ones :)

As for pricing of VS cards, remember that the money for higher-priced cards usually goes to dealers, not Upper Deck themselves (although good cards still drive sales of packs). Man, I don't know what I'm saying anymore! I'd better just leave off with 'love the blog; you post some really obscure, arcane Strange material sometimes which I really like seeing!'

~P~ said...

Christian,

So... I can't tell if you're agreeing with me or disagreeing.
lol

I kid.

I totally "get" what you're saying, and I guess I should quantify my inclusion of the "VS" cards by saying that I only added them to tat entry a day ago (after Neilalien linked to my awards from his own).

Strange that THAT would be the ONE thing that is singled out since then.
;-)

However, you assume correctly.
I am referring to THIS year's series only.
(since it's the 2008 Awards)

Previous card sets were all new artwork, and as such, are faboo (except for SOME of the art that just plain sucked, and looked, as you aptly put it; "like a dog's breakfast").

I had originally meant to single out the MASTERPIECES cards because THEY were the ones who were reusing older VS card artwork, and then reusing their own Masterpiece card art as well.

The VS cards were added to the list because they too (if I understand correctly) have multiple "finishes" to the card sets (regular, gold-edged, foil, prismatic, holofractal, etc...).

It's THAT kind of VARIANT crap which targets collector's (and plays them [us] for fools because the producers of said items are raping their own fanbase) that I also loathe about comics (again - since it was nearly the death-knell of comics in the 1990's).

Glad to see that you're enjoying the obscure, arcane collectibles here.

That's what I specialize in, and hope to be able to show you a LOT more of such things in the future.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

~P~ said...

Oh. And I DO understand that the money for some of the exorbitantly priced cards all goes to the retailers, and not Upper Deck themselves.

However, the whole enterprise reeks as a way to get as much cash from the existing fan-base as possible.

False rarity (and multiple sub-sets - in multiple finishes) is just a way to bend you over and pick your pocket - no matter WHO gets the money in the end.

I totally prefer things the way tey were long before the "collector's market" became likened to a "giving tree".
Manufacturers produced their product and it was totally available - straight across the board.
No chase cards / figures.
No varying stages of rarity.
No variants and collector's premiums.

There WERE such things in the past, sure.
But they weren't as integral to the marketplace as they are today.

And as such, a big fat "BOO = Loser" to Upper Deck and the Masterpiece & VS cards.

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