Amadeus and Delphyne’s love story, Pt. 2

We pick up soon after we left off.  Amadeus Cho, teenage genius and Hercules sidekick, had just been refused by Delphyne Gorgon, the new queen of the Amazons.  Mainly because any romance between the two is legally forced to end in Amadeus’ slaughter.  The Amazons don’t play around when it comes to love.  At least no more than once.  Yet with Hercules wrapped up in an Olympian feud (followed closely by Amadeus and Hercules’ half-sister/goddess Athena), our two protagonists are sure to meet up again.  Like when Hercules has to battle Hera’s evil Olympus Group.

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But what’s the fun in two gods and a child versus four gods and a snake girl?  To amp up both the excitement and colors used on the page, the battle gets crashed by Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers. I know romance doesn’t flourish in a massive warehouse superpowered free-for-all, but maybe some questions could be answered.  Like surely Delphyne could look past murdering Amadeus if they ever became a couple, right?  Unfortunately, a bigger issue keeps the star-crossed lovers apart: pesky vengeance.

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I blame Poseidon more than Medusa.  He knows Athena can’t punish her uncle, forcing her to unfairly take out her anger on the girl instead.  More importantly, what is Poseidon doing hanging around Athena’s temple?  Sure he could find a tipsy mermaid or attractive manatee to seduce instead of a poor priestess who decided to devote her life to (petty) Athena.  Despite Amadeus’ unwavering affections towards our gorgon, I imagine Delphyne must still be angry that Athena took away most of her nose.  And probably the hair made of snakes.

Unfortunately, any convincing by the seventh smartest person in the world has to be delayed when Bullseye-as-evil-Hawkeye interrupts:

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What a fantastic final line by Delphyne.  It’s disgusting, arrogant, and makes me like her way more than previous pages.  The arc ends with their possible relationship in limbo, and I imagine you figure their next encounter would involve a beach or restaurant or something where feelings could be discussed.  But Hercules is a fighter.  Delphyne is a fighter.  Amadeus could probably fight.  So we begin eight issues later with another battle.  This time, at least, Hercules gathered up all the (real) Avengers ahead of time.  The Olympus Group is much more beatable when you have Wolverine willing to foolishly claw gods.

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I should have probably explained this earlier, but Athena’s quite important to dear Amadeus. While Hercules is his best friend, Athena’s his mentor — she’s the goddess of wisdom after all.  And despite Athena’s vague speeches, incoherent actions, and suspicious motivations, she still protects and guides young Amadeus.  And Hercules.  But mainly Amadeus.

Unfortunately, Delphyne didn’t come into this battle empty-handed.  She has some tricks up her fishnet sleeves (and a disregard that Amadeus won’t date murderers).

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The holes are for the snakes.  They would get fidgety when smashed under a helmet.  And sadly for poor Athena, the realm of the Olympians means lots of crazy magic.  Magic that would totally defeat an unsuspecting god by a woman still horrifically angry at being turned into a walking reptile.

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With vengeance fulfilled, the flames of love and passion can finally ignite between Amadeus and Delphyne.

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Never mind, wrong flames.

I include the next scene for it’s beautiful simplicity.  For two people of absolute opposites, Hercules and Amadeus work so perfectly together.  Their friendship brings tears to the eyes of all other superhero friendships.  I can’t think of further proof than this:

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Delphyne makes her move.  It’s confusing and I’m going to give my theory afterward.

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Maybe Delphyne genuinely realized that murdering Athena went against her whole Amazonian ideals, but I like to think the real reason is far more wonderful than that: she can’t deny her all-consuming and soul-erupting love for young genius Amadeus Cho.  Every thought.  Every emotion.  Every desire screams into her mind to protect her soul mate, regardless of personal cost to herself or unsuccessful revenge.  She just can’t resist the burning sensation of her heart as she meets the eyes of the brilliant teenager.  Star-crossed?  Not anymore.  Not when Delphyne has the power/pistol to save her man from naked gold statues.  Or maybe it’s the Amazonian ideals thing.  Definitely one of those two reasons.

Unfortunately, Greek gods tend to hold grudges.

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I guess pulling someone up from a cliff doesn’t mean much if you pushed them off in the first place. On Friday, our story ends with surprisingly even more combat than today.  Love blooms on the battlefield, y’know.  But now instead of Amazonian rituals holding them back, it’ll be omniscience, sorcery, and Thor.  Especially Thor.


Amadeus and Delphyne’s love story, Pt. 1

In our continuing series (and by that I mean the second one), we’ll once again explore two supporting characters’ romantic adventures.  And I love these two.  Amadeus Cho, the seventh smartest person on the planet and the sixteen year-old sidekick of Hercules, will fall madly in love with Delphyne Gorgon, a green-skinned Amazonian warrior with snakes for hair.  You can feel the passion between the two just with my words alone.  But if you’re not convinced, here’s excerpts from Incredible Hercules #121-128 and #138-141, written by Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente and drawn by Clayton Henry, Salva Espin, Rodney Buchemi, Takeshi Miyazawa, & Dietrich Smith; as well as Heroic Age: Prince of Power #1-4, written by Pak & Van Lente and drawn by Reilly Brown, Zach Howard, & Adam Archer.

Much like Bill and Kelda, our two lovers are recent creations, featuring Amadeus’ first appearance in 2006 compared to Delphyne’s in 2008 which you’re going to witness today.  Some backstory from a few years back: Amadeus led a group of Hulk supporters through the streets of New York City (including Hercules) during the Marvel event World War Hulk, and once Hulk’s defeated — he was the (sorta) bad guy after all — the Incredible Hulk series changed to Incredible Hercules as the starring god and Amadeus travel the country.  And you have to absolutely read it.  Every single issue.  Every single word and picture.  I cannot stress enough how absolutely wonderful the Incredible Hercules run is, so much so that the series alone propelled Hercules to my top three Marvel superheroes (after Spider-Man and Daredevil).  Sadly, Hercules isn’t the focus of this week, but please catch up with some of my previous articles if you’d like.

We begin with the capture of Amadeus Cho.  I’m skipping the whole kidnapping event.  Y’see, the princess of the Amazonians desires Amadeus for procreation, because I guess Korean teenagers are her fetish or something.  The princess’ second-in-command Delphyne Gorgon shows him around his new love nest.  Also, and much more importantly, she needs to enlighten our protagonist about this upcoming Amazonian ritual.

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Just a typical high school love story.  Another boy gets captured against his will to be the love slave of a bossy warrior princess only to be fatally murdered the second he hits his refractory period. Haven’t we seen this so many times before?

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So we don’t have to be a genius to realize that Princess Artume is totally using Amadeus to solve some complex puzzle and has absolutely zero intention of sleeping with him.  The maiming part’s probably still on though.  But even for the seventh smartest person in the world, a sixteen year-old presented with that sort of prize will overlook some obvious logical clues.  Sadly, I don’t think he’s into the sort of foreplay she enjoys:

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And with Artume’s betrayal sets into motion another traitor emerges — and the focus of this article.

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First, Hercules totally still lives.  Second, I know that’s a wildly fast courtship, but when you have a young imprisoned genius together with a violent snake woman, how could sparks not fly?  Look, if your disbelief can’t be suspended, please understand that Delphyne’s a fictional gorgon monster wearing a kilt and fishnets.  That should be your main concern.  But story-wise, you know when henchmen hook up with the supervillain’s future paramour/murder victim?

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I cut out the waving scene, but we all know that the motivations of supervillains rarely require any real motivations.  Oh, before we continue, have you been wondering what’s up with Hercules?  I mean, with Amadeus in jail, he’s left to battle the Amazonian forces solo (well, and Namor’s cousin Namora).  Let’s check in for a moment:

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Atlas used the Washington Monument like a baseball bat to smack Hercules across the National Mall.  Have you read Incredible Hercules yet?  You’re missing out if you haven’t.  Anyway, back to our main story.

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What soon follows is an issue-long fake alternative reality as Artume rules as president, Amadeus as her second-in-command, and a failed relationship between the genius and gorgon.  You can buy the book for all that, but as we flash back to actual reality, it does end like this:

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Luckily for Amadeus, this is only the first part of our story, though that doesn’t make heartbreak any easier.  Even in the Marvel universe, one’s first crush takes a while to overcome — especially when she’s the Amazonian queen who’ll now disembowel Amadeus if they ever share the throes of passion.

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On Wednesday, their reunion!


Steel vs. Lex Luthor

As we end our week of fights and hope that the gooey romance aura of Bill and Kelda has fully washed off (though we’ll be covering Amadeus Cho and Delphyne Gorgon’s love story next week), rejoice in a new milestone for this blog: both our combatants today are bald.  You should probably sit down and stop clutching your heart in excitement.

You know Lex Luthor already.  He’s the egotistical billionaire who may be the most influential and important supervillain in the DC universe.  His megalomania and insatiable greed aside, I admire a man who’s battle outfit’s a well-tailored suit.  But it’s okay if you’re not familiar with the superhero Steel.  Let him introduce himself from Steel #1, written by Joe Bogdanove & Louise Simonson and drawn by Chris Batista:

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Steel (John Henry Irons) premiered in 1993 following the death of Superman.  Please take a moment and soak in those cartoonishly large ’90s muscles.  Anyway, four Superman replacements showed up in Metropolis, Steel being one of them.  He has no superpowers, just a genius technical mind and a metal suit of armor.  He’s Iron Man with a hammer.  Also, Shaquille O’Neal played him in a movie.

So we cut to 52 #40, with all the credits given in the first page I’ll show you below.  I loved the idea of 52.  Following the DC event Infinite Crisis, the big three (Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman) took a year off from fighting crime.  Unfortunately, supervillains still enacted their dastardly schemes and 52 covered what happened during that year.  Like Black Adam fighting every single superhero in the known DC universe.  At once.  By himself.  But in our issue today, Luthor has kidnapped Steel’s niece.  Rescue time.

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Steel brings the Teen Titans with him.  Luthor and Steel have been antagonizing each other the whole series, by the way.  Our bald bad guy discovered technology that gave normal dudes superpowers and then caused a whole bunch of death and destruction, so our bald good guy has been punching him every ten issues or so.  Now it’s time for the finale.

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In a fight that can only happen in comic books, Steel’s about to lose his armor.  I think it’d be better if you saw it than if I explained it.

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James Bond doesn’t fight shapeshifting giant crabs.  That’s a superhero thing.  Most importantly, in a world filled with spandex and unnecessary cleavage, it’s wildly refreshing to see Steel wearing jeans under his armor.  And though he possesses no superpowers except some justified rage and a sledgehammer, that should be more than enough to take down Luthor, right?  It’s not as if Luthor’s a Muay Thai champion or can pop out adamantium claws.

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I know that Luthor’s immune to sledgehammers, but Steel didn’t realize Luthor’s durability was that high when he attacked.  Which means that if everything went according to plan, Steel’s best case scenario is Luthor’s head popping like a watermelon at a Gallagher show followed by Steel and his niece walking triumphantly out of the building with Luthor’s organs around their necks as a disgusting gold medal.  Or maybe he figured Luthor’s laser eyes meant full-strength hammer strikes would just bruise or something.  Either way, let Steel’s very Superman-esque words ring forth:

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Keep in mind Luthor did outright murder dozens of people he gave the Everyman superpower serum by having them fly in the sky and then suddenly turning off their superpowers.  Luthor’s bad karma has reached astronomic levels, and Steel, even with fecal matter leaking into his small intestine, is the only chance of cashing in those karmic chips.  I mean, not immediately, because Luthor’s currently invincible.

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We’re all friends, so I can admit that my research failed to mention how he lost his hand.  For Steel at least, it’s a solid conversation topic for Aquaman and him if they bump into each other at the JLA Watchtower.

Luthor’s ego’ll always bring about his own self-inflicted fall, even if Natasha Irons wasn’t a scientific super genius like her uncle.  Because though Steel can’t win against a superpowered Luthor, he can totally wipe the floor with a normal Luthor.  Lex really should have learned Muay Thai.

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Next week: more minor characters fall in love/fight monsters.


Spider-Man vs. Thing

Well, Serpent Thing.  Remember a few years ago during Fear Itself when the Serpent sent those seven evil Thor hammers crashing into Earth and gave seven superheroes/supervillains crazy Thor powers?  Me too.  I loved that event.  Poor Ben Grimm happened across one of those hammers, touched it, and became a bad guy for a few issues.  Plus, the dude — who already is roughly ten times as strong as Spider-Man — now possesses a magic weapon that would crush dear Spidey’s skull into Spidey goo with one well-placed shot.  So, it’s going to be a tough fight today for our protagonist in Fear Itself: Spider-Man #3, written by Chris Yost and drawn by Mike McKone.

With near impossible odds of victory just when we compare Spider-Man’s abilities to Serpent Thing’s alone, there’s one more serious danger added to the mix:

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Yes, my friends, he has to stop the unstoppable rock monster inside a hospital.  A very occupied hospital.  I don’t know where Serpent Thing got the toothy worms he wears like slimy suspenders, but I do think it’s a nice contrast to his current magma barbarian outfit.  Sure, on a good day Spider-Man could totally punch through a wall or small truck or whatever’s in his path, but a fistfight can only lead to defeat here, not to mention all those doctors and patients he has to protect as well.  This isn’t Man of Steel, our protagonist has to actually save the innocent people.  Commence round one:

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On a list of superheroes Spider-Man couldn’t take in a fight, Thing and Thor are both totally included. Thus when you have the Thing with Thor powers, poor Peter Parker’s best case scenario ends with him roasting like a kebab draped over the Serpent’s hammer.

Y’see, we like to think that our superheroes could defeat any other superhero given the right conditions, weapons, setting, enormous amount of kryptonite, etc., but it’s okay to admit that our favorites may not be all-powerful.  The risk of failure adds to the suspense during the brawl and the joy we’ll feel when our superheroes win.  Plus, if you’ve ever read a Spider-Man comic then you know that he never ends a fight without his costume in tatters and half his face swollen like a volleyball.  Luckily, Spider-Man has friends.

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Norah Winters, Spider-Man supporting character and overeager-bordering-on-unlikable reporter, attempts to outrun a rock monster wielding a medieval weapon just to give Spider-Man time to recover (and allow doctors to restart his heart from pages I’m skipping).  Her superpowers include all of those given to a normal 20-something year old woman.  Unfortunately, fiery spirit and unrelenting bravery can’t protect her from becoming Serpent Thing’s shoulder worm food.  Luckily, Norah also has friends.

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The more I read, I keep finding pages that reiterate why Spider-Man’s my comic soulmate.  Yes, he’s powerful, but not that powerful.  He’ll fight supervillains way out of his league simply because, gosh darn it, that’s the right thing to do.  And no matter how concussed he gets or how badly his costume tears, he’ll continue to jump kick and shoot webs regardless of the insanity or recklessness of the situation.  Innocents must be protected over personal safety every single time.  Great power, great responsibility, etc.

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Thing’s exit ties into another Fear Itself moment going on, but I’ll still count this at least as a draw.

Hey, this is sort of related, but do you remember Avengers vs. X-Men #9?  After weeks and weeks of the two super teams screaming threats, blowing each other up, and destroying large parts of Wakanda, the Avengers were cornered by Phoenix-empowered Colossus and Magik.  Spider-Man, despite once again not standing a chance against either of these normally — much less Phoenix-enhanced — stayed behind alone to fight while the Avengers made their escape.  As Colossus and Magik crushed his brain over and over again, they demanded he stay down.  If he acquiesced to their demands, all the brain punching would stop.  But Spider-Man continued to rise, not just to save his teammates but also because selflessness propels Spider-Man to shine as the center of Marvel’s moral compass.  Blogs declared his stand to be what may have been the first heroic act done by anyone in the entire series.  And of course it was.  God, I love that man.  As much as I’ll miss Doctor Octopus Spider-Man (Superior Spider-Man is by far one of the coolest and most beautifully executed ideas I’ve read in a very long time), I’m glad Peter Parker Spider-Man is back.  Because he’ll punch Serpent Thing until every bone in his body breaks.  Because he’s a superhero.


Captain America vs. Giant Man

After a week of love, romance, and all that other gross mushy stuff, let’s take a week off for punching. We’ll get back to emotions and feelings next week.  Today, we start with Ultimate Captain America battling Ultimate Hank Pym from Ultimates #8-9, volume one, written by Mark Millar and drawn by Bryan Hitch.

Y’see, since Ultimate universe isn’t part of the canon Marvel universe, they have the freedom to do whatever they please with the characters.  Like instead of a mentally ill Hank Pym backhanding his wife Janet Pym once and then spending the next thirty years attempting to redeem himself, Ultimate Hank Pym has a history of abuse and just ended the previous issue by unleashing thousands of hungry ants onto the shrunken Janet Pym.  That tends to be a bit more calculating and vicious, and the good captain would like to have a word.

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Please keep in mind this isn’t the normal flag-waving moral paragon back in our canon universe.  Sure, he’s all that here, except for this Steve Rogers coming clean off a 1940s Nazi-shooting, explosive-ridden war zone that he never really recovered from — less superhero, more soldier.  At least his personality anyway: he calls Hank Pym a meatball in two pages.

So when a former Avenger almost kills another Avenger with an army of killer insects, he’ll have to answer to Captain America.  And once again, by answer I mean get punched in the face.

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While meatball doesn’t really have much of a crippling derogatory effect, compared to Captain America’s 0% body fat and perfectly sculpted super soldier build, we’re all meatballs by contrast.

Nick Fury’s screaming at the beginning today rings true – there is an alien invasion upcoming and savagely beating a drunk Giant Man will solve nothing but potentially bruising Captain America’s fists. And he needs those for punching.

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Keep in mind this was Captain America’s goal the whole time.  He picked up a lift with SHIELD so he could jump kick a naked 60-foot man.  A man who could swat the captain across an entire football field with one well-placed slap.  Though now at least it’s a fair fight.

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If you haven’t read the first two volumes of Ultimates, you’re missing out.  Every issue plays out like a movie, and as you just saw, a weaponless Captain America scaled a two-story building to ride Giant Man’s nose into a construction site.  Vibranium shields are for wussies.  Oh, and did you see that Giant Man just chucked a bulldozer at Captain America?

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While no problem was solved or lesson was learned, Hank Pym totally deserved it.  Spouse abusers and whatnot.  For more of this delightful Captain America, allow me to self-plug an article I wrote about him here from way back in the early days of the blog.  On Wednesday: Spider-Man!


The complete story of Bill and Kelda, Pt. 4

The end of our tale has arrived.  It’s been full of passion, heartbreak, and lightning bolts.  We pick up immediately where we left off as Kelda, in an attempt at redemption or to lessen her guilt or simply out of moral integrity, visits Bill’s parents to tell them about their son’s death.  Of course they’re upset, but not as much as a squad of Norman Osborn’s trigger-happy soldiers lying in wait on the front lawn. Because while Bill’s family forgives Kelda, inspires her to move on, and patches up her gaping emotional wound, it’s Kelda herself who has to take that baby step forward to being happy once more. Though impaling bad guys with ice spears must be at least a little therapeutic.

She arrives at Asgard in the aftermath of Siege, the event that turned Asgard into a pile of magical rubble.  Oh, and how do you feel about thrilling plot twists?

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Bill died a hero’s death, even killing one of the grosser-looking Asgardian traitors as Bill breathed his final breaths.  And in the Norse mythology which Thor’s Asgard is based on, soldiers who die valiantly in battle spend eternity in Vahalla — where they war in the morning and dine in the evening.  Repeat forever.  It’s Viking Heaven.  And damn right does Bill deserve a place in these halls.

Now, our protagonists live in a world of magic and aliens and miracles — if there is any universe where Kelda can find a way to reunite with her soulmate, it’s Marvel’s.  But despite her ability to summon tornadoes with the flick of the wrist, her necromancy isn’t at the same skill level.  Or probably allowed. And as you know, when all avenues have been explored and favors called in, those desperate enough often turn to more unethical methods.  Like Kelda lighting child Loki on fire.

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Yes, that’s definitely not the Kelda we remember.  But standing next to Kelda, the chief witch or shaman queen or druid boss or whatever she’s called has offered our hero a deal: if Kelda’ll help her with one tiny harmless spell, she’ll bring Bill back to life.  Y’see, Thor died during the Marvel event Fear Itself.  Taking advantage of this opportunity, the evil magician lady used Kelda to summon forth Tartarus, a dude who took Thor’s place in the mind of all of those who knew him.  Except child Loki.

Look, I understand that for all the good Kelda represents, it’s odd to see her as an villain’s accomplice. Though the sheer number of superheroes have done some vicious things for their loftier goals is staggering.  Seriously, the Avengers and X-Men alone have been to Hell dozens of times just to pull one of their buddies free.  If they can make deals and punch demons, why can’t Kelda dabble in the dark arts for her true love?  We all know that Bill’s worth it.

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Poor Kelda’s too obsessed to notice the wizard lady’s lying.  That’s the problem with working for supervillains — they so rarely keep their promises.  Plus, as most supervillains partnerships end, we can only look forward to blood and tragedy.  Our goddess has done so much and sacrificed even more for a mere chance of a reunion, but we as readers know the only way this can play out — and it’s so frustrating to watch.

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I wish I had better news, but even goddesses can’t survive their faces getting ripped open.  It’s a wildly (and maybe unnecessarily) violent death for Kelda, but we must remember that she died pursuing truth.  And justice if she hadn’t gotten knifed.  Tricked or not, Kelda died fearlessly facing down vile and horrific opponents, and well, there’s a funny thing about a death like that.

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While big-time superheroes can never sail off into the sunset to their expected bliss (it’d hurt profits), minor characters don’t have those same shackles.  Our two lovers are free to experience an ending that they deserve.  That we deserve.  So as our love story concludes today, I have never been more excited to announce that we finish the only way I would ever accept — brilliantly, romantically, and eternally happy.

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See you on Monday!  I hope you have the best weekend!


The complete story of Bill and Kelda, Pt. 3

We don’t need a lengthy introduction, right?  Bill died at the hand of Asgardian traitors and Kelda’s out for revenge on those that killed him.  Like Loki and Doctor Doom.  But y’see, while Loki’s the god of trickery and mischief, the evil doctor doesn’t bother with smokescreens and wild goose chases.  You want him?  He’s in that giant castle with his likeness plastered on it.  Go get him.

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Kelda is no pushover.  She has all that Asgardian super strength and durability as well as that whole summoning lightning and ice from the heavens thing.  But let’s be fair: Doctor Doom’s normal battles are when he fights the entire Fantastic Four at once.  To be the arch-nemesis of an entire team of superheroes takes some tremendous skill.

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Doom’s not exactly a shoulder to cry on.  Remember that one story where he sacrificed his childhood lover just for a fraction more of magical power?  Dude isn’t terribly sentimental, but this conversation does bring up an interesting point — Doctor Doom knew who Bill was.  Someone told the ruler of Latveria and quite possibly the Marvel universe’s busiest supervillain about a sword-wielding human in a backwards baseball cap running around the Latverian forest.  In a way, to have a baddie of Doom’s fame speak of Bill brings about a weird sort of honor in itself.

But honestly?  Blast the crap out of Doctor Doom — that’s not the eulogy Bill deserves.

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See the gorgeous symbolism?  A Doombot rips her beating heart out, just like Bill’s death did emotionally.  Oh, and if you’re unsure, Asgardians totally need their hearts to live.  Look, despite her being ambushed/sudden organ removal, we knew that Kelda could never take down Doctor Doom. The man has complete mastery of both technology and magic, hundreds of robots who can do the same thing, and his monologues only occur after he’s disabled his opponent.  Also, did you know Doctor Doom doesn’t wear pants?  I never thought about that until right now.

Luckily, Kelda’s death wouldn’t serve the purpose Doctor Doom hopes it would.  He’d much prefer to use her to mock and belittle Thor and friends instead of simply stuffing her body in a demon dimensional portal or something and forgetting about her.

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So you know who doesn’t take teasing very well?  A superhero who has absolutely zero fear of anything Doctor Doom could ever do or say?  Someone who’s major decision process hinges on how tough it’d be to clean blood off his hammer?

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Kelda survives.  Loki saves her life actually.  He mainly does it to further his evil plot which I’m not going to cover, but she does survive because of Loki’s interference.  Though what kind of life could she enjoy now?  She has lived for thousands of years and will live for thousands more, yet that brave bumpkin from Oklahoma brought forth a passion and devotion inside her that she may have never felt previously (y’know, because it would take that level of commitment to attempt a zapping of Marvel universe’s most powerful supervillain).

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Recall the first part of our story: Bill essentially abandoned his friends and family to pursue a new life with Kelda in Latverian Asgard.  Which means no one back in Broxton, Oklahoma knows about his death.  Because Asgardians don’t have an official means of alerting loved ones of a death in battle – they light the corpse on fire in a boat — our mourning goddess has to fulfill the responsibility herself. Now’s a good time to get your tissues ready.

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There’s no worse conversation when two parties disagree despite only the truth spoken from both. But unfortunately, Kelda falls victim to one of the many unspoken superheroes laws — anything done that’s honest and kindhearted will be interrupted by combat.  Every time.  Every situation.

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Norman Osborn, complete with his evil Avengers and the full force of the American government, launches an attack on Asgard at this exact moment.  And I don’t care what anyone says, I adored Siege.  But as we reminisce on how compassionate and loving Bill was — the same reasons Kelda fell in love with him (much like how the horizon loves the sunrise) — those admirable traits of his were totally inherited.  The Cobbs won’t let anyone be gunned down on their front lawn, even the woman indirectly responsible for their son’s death.

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Her strength and will has finally settled on the correct direction.  We wrap up today with not a complete redemption from Kelda, but definitely the glimmer of one. Tomorrow our tale ends and you can finally rest easy as the final fates of Bill and Kelda engulf your sweet dreams of hope and romance. Because trust me — even after four days, three thousand words, and seventy eight images — our finale’ll be worth every single moment.


The complete story of Bill and Kelda, Pt. 2

Let’s not delay this love story, shall we?  As we left off, Bill Cobb Jr. (human diner chef) joined his love Kelda Stormrider (Asgardian ice goddess) aboard the teleporting Asgard. Y’see Loki, in all his primal trickery, manipulated current Asgardian king Balder to exile Thor and bring all the gods and goddesses to Latveria.  If you ever forget, Latveria is the tiny European country ruled by Doctor Doom’s iron fist.  Also, a fine place for hopes and dreams and freedoms to die a brutal death.  But can you argue the power of love?  It makes men do strange things, like sending Bill into the midst of angry Asgardian politics when his only real brush with danger before this is getting too close to the grill. Still, you see what Kelda looks like — that’s a level of beauty only possible on a fictional scale.

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We forget that despite Bill’s whole mortality and public school education, he does have a unique advantage his Asgardian roommates do not — perspective.  This man has lived on Earth his whole life. He’s seen all the footage and Internet websites and Mr. Fantastic wrapping around his arch-nemesis like a rack of spinning shawarma.  Doctor Doom’s only language consists of open threats, veiled threats, and backstabbing.  But all these Asgardians?  They don’t meddle in the affairs of the silly Midgard mortals, and Bill may be the only one in the entire city that realizes the approaching danger.

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Yes, I imagine you can probably see where this is going.  Bill’s a unbreakable pillar of moral integrity and bravery, but he’s also a young kid in a backwards baseball cap with zero kung fu experience.

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Idioms tend not to have the same effect on foreigners.  And while Bill alone stands absolutely no chance of winning a fight against three giant, muscular, eye patch-wearing warriors, he doesn’t fight this battle alone.  Because sure, he can’t win, but his girlfriend can.

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Are you sad that there’s less flirty banter than the first part?  Don’t you worry, because a near-death experience prompts Bill and Kelda to lie in sensual anticipation with the three most romantic symbols of Asgardian culture: a bed, fine clothing, and heavy weaponry.

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Kelda’s genuinely funny, a quality you don’t see from too many Asgardians.  I mean it.  Go back and read her jokes — they’re delightful.  And yes, I bet that Bill’s mission could wait until morning, but that’s not how heroes work.  Because despite not being super, Bill still possesses that trait all superheroes have that won’t let them do anything enjoyable or fun until only after every major gnawing feeling has been removed or dealt with.  And sadly for Kelda, love has trouble rising from any pond drenched in the rotting aura of Doctor Doom.  I’m saying that evil dude’s up to something.

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With all the gods’ beauty and adventures and mead, it turns out that being thousands of years old can create some emotional disconnections.  Of course, Bill has that passion and fiery spirit Kelda has been searching millenniums for — he’s one of our two protagonists, after all.

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And this is where everything goes really, really bad.  To simplify Doctor Doom and Loki’s plot, they capture and dissect Asgardians to use their organs as parts for god-weapons, immortality, and other mad scientist stuff.  But the truth won’t come crashing down that easy.  First, Bill has to fight.

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Remember yesterday how I mentioned that not all Asgardians get cool lightning or ice powers? Poor Balder does inherit some minor superpowers, but this fight’ll have to rely on his sword and skill alone. Your sadness welling up deep in your heart aside, Bill’s sacrifice is not in vain — it’s time for the supervillains to be revealed.

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As despairing as this is, it’s totally a risk Bill knew he’d have to face.  He’s fighting gods while he’s wearing jeans, for goodness’ sake.  And truthfully, Bill’s the perfect type of character we read comics for — the underdog unrelentingly pursuing justice against odds far beyond his own capability.  At least his death will inspire others in a far more visceral manner than his life ever did.  And of course, break Kelda’s heart.

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Bill and Kelda’s love story is far from over — I have over thirty images left to show — but Bill’s demise does bring about two important life-altering realizations: Balder’s realization that Doctor Doom and Loki plan the destruction of the entire Asgardian people and, most importantly, no one murders Kelda Stormrider’s lover without feeling the full unimaginable force of an actual weather goddess.

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Tomorrow, my friends.  I can’t wait.


The complete story of Bill and Kelda, Pt. 1

Superheroes stories are essentially dramas with lots of punching and primary colors. We can argue all day about morality, role in society, or literary value, but what’s the point in denying we love comics the same way middle-aged women love Keeping Up With the Kardashians?  And yes, our entertainment form has subjectively far more quality, but everyone craves stories.  We choose to get ours through superheroes — let’s embrace our common traits judgement free.  So today, in my largest collection of pages I’ve ever gathered on this site (78 pictures laid out over four articles), I hope to present to you a love story guaranteed to make your heart soar and soak your face with tears.  Most likely.

Please make these comics part of your collection: we’ll be using Thor #2-12Giant-Size Finale, and 600-613, volume three, written by J. Michael Straczynski & Kieron Gillen and drawn by Olivier Coipel, Marko Djurdjevic, Billy Tan, Richard Elson, & Dougie Braithwaite.  Also, The Mighty Thor #8-12, written by Matt Fraction and drawn by Pasqual Ferry, Pepe Larraz, & Giuseppe Camuncoli.

Now forgive me, because enormous amounts of back story’ll be needed before we begin.  I’ll be fast. Okay, so originally when Thor premiered back in the 1960s, he shared a body with normal dude Doctor Donald Blake.  When Blake tapped his walking stick, he turned into the thunder god.  As comics have evolved, Blake was no longer needed and disappeared in 1968, but he’s back now — still sharing that same ol’ Thor body.  The reason provided?  Y’know, Ragnarok — the Norse Armageddon and the death of everybody Asgardian.

Luckily, Thor/Blake returns to life and decides to bring Asgard to Earth (Midgard).  So they do, right next to a rural town called Broxton in Oklahoma.  In quite possibly the greatest Thor stories ever told, Straczynski (and later Gillen) revives all the gods, presents a new status quo for Thor and friends, famously allows Thor to have some “words” with Iron Man, resurrects a wonderfully conniving Loki, and so much more.  Oh, and most importantly, we meet some new characters, like local diner cook Bill Cobb Jr.

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There’s a beautiful dynamic in Straczynski’s new Asgardian home — the small town folks who have probably never ventured far from their hometown now work and live alongside actual living, breathing gods.  So when Bill wanders around at night, the people (immortal gods) he’ll meet could be anyone’s guess.  Thankfully, he meets this one:

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Right?  I’m glad Doctor Thor is back (for a few years at least).  If you don’t mind, I should explain how Asgardian gods work in the Marvel universe.  Like Thor, they all receive enhanced strength, durability, and super long lives due to those golden apples of Idunn.  But their longevity only applies to natural causes, as a sword or fireball or alcoholic stupor can cut their lives dramatically shorter.  Most Asgardians only have those abilities above — like Thor’s buddies Volstagg, Fandrall, Hogun, and lover Sif.  They can fight like maniacs, but no ice beams or snow storms blasting from their hands.  Though Kelda can.  Think of her like an Aryan Asgardian Storm.

Despite Bill’s probably sub-par education, he isn’t a fool.  When a god sort of flirts by providing an invitation to explore the magical city of Asgard, Bill won’t dare refuse.

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As Kelda mentioned during their late night chat, this is for many Asgardians the first time they’ve had to chance to chat with a human.  Fish out of water humor and whatnot.

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Don’t be afraid to root for Bill.  Despite the trademark backwards baseball cap, this man’s a proper southern gentleman.  The dude’s fearless around nine-foot shirtless gods and equally romantic around his gorgeous Asgardian crush.  But yet Bill fails to make a move.  If an eternally youthful, prettier Iceman falls for him, why should he hesitate?  Intimidation, I’m sure, but at least for Kelda’s sake I imagine it’s just nice to have a man treat her with a compassion the nine-foot shirtless gods rarely do. Though honestly, I think Bill just chickened out:

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Y’see, while romance emanates in the Oklahoma air, the Asgardian politics protruding throughout the main story are far less sexy.   Loki, now a female, has been putting his gorgeously manicured fingernails into all sorts of manipulated stews.  Since Odin’s not around (sorry, I probably should have told you earlier), Thor rules the best he can.  Loki has different ideas, and successfully places Baldur on the Asgardian throne, exiling Thor, and moving the entire city of Asgard to Latveria.  Y’know, Doctor Doom’s pad.

So, the blossoming star-crossed love between Bill and Kelda remains star-crossed once more.

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We all know it doesn’t end here.  While Bill in real life would chalk up his loss to fate and eventually marry some pretty local girl, we’re reading a comic book story.  Wonderful, majestic, and exciting things happen in comic books that would never occur in our own world.  I mean, the whole dating a goddess thing for one, but this tale has just begun for our two lovers.

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Next time, Kelda fights Doctor Doom.  How’s that for a teaser?


Colossus hits stuff

On a side note before we begin, there’s a fantastic discussion on my Pixie Pt. 1 article about Greg Land’s tracing pictures and other art when he draws comics.  While I really want to comment, I realize that my success here also comes from me using the works of other people, so I can’t really criticize without being a huge hypocrite.  Either way, I adore reading the comments.

Last time I brought up Colossus, he had been fully influenced by the Phoenix Force — turning him into a total jerk.  He verbally abused his on-and-off girlfriend Kitty Pryde and almost physically destroyed the entire school she taught at.  That’s not fair to Colossus, so I’m going to make it up to him today with Uncanny X-Men #504-507, written by Matt Fraction and drawn by Terry Dodson.

At this point in X-Men history, poor Colossus recently lost dear Kitty.  As in to save Earth, she phased into a giant planet-sized bullet sent hurdling into space.  You can read more about it in a previous article.  And while Colossus’ steel exterior is unbreakable, his heart sure isn’t.

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Meet Piotr (Peter) Resputin, the son of a poor Russian farmer.  Professor X contacted Colossus once his mutant powers manifested — super strength and the whole metal skin thing — and now he’s an X-Man.  But with his love Kitty (Katya) forever lost to the bowels of the universe, all that meaning and purpose has disappeared as well.  Luckily his teammates have some ideas.  Practical ideas.

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And hit stuff he does.  That’s why I named the article that.  But despite the order from Colossus’ bosses/buddies to go inflict some mindless violence on those deserving of it, another box on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs has to be met first.

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Even former Russian gangsters decide to pack up for the good ol’ USA once in a while.  The old man has a super cool mutant power — upon touch his tattoos show all the inner secrets of the person grabbed. An information broker gaining his infomation from extortion and violence.  And most importantly, Colossus has a personal connection to this man.

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Dude’s a total jerk, shirt or no shirt.  Oh, did you catch Magik’s cameo?  That was before she claimed her throne as queen of Limbo, made weapons out of the souls of others, and became half-goat.  While nowadays only the first two apply, I never want you to forget she once had farm animal legs.

If you don’t mind me skipping some, Colossus figures going undercover as our antagonist’s lackey would produce plenty of people to punch and even more evidence to put away his extortionist for a very long time.  And like all good superhero secret missions, this one starts with Colossus proving his worth. By punching.

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Bad guys admire guts.  So Colossus gets hired.  And then immediately fired:

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With a dock full of women under his care, he takes them to the only place he knows can keep them safe: the X-Men’s mansion.  Because while Cyclops doesn’t really want to take care of dozens of former slaves, his moral obligation will force him to say yes.  It’s the same reason Spider-Man has to leave dates early if a police siren goes by.  The same reason Mr. Fantastic has to pause his research when a dimension is in trouble.  The same reason Wolverine has to put down his beer when a fight breaks out.

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Colossus and Emma Frost make for a strange superhero team up.  Besides their steel/diamond armor, they don’t have much in common — though lately Colossus has been showing off just as much skin.  But if one unbreakable, unstoppable mutant is going to be a tough fight for our bad guy’s henchmen, two’ll make it completely impossible.

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We all know what has to happen next.  Colossus has to to make his former extortionist pay for what he did to his own family and presumably thousands of others across Russia.  If these past few articles have taught supervillains anything, it’s that making enemies with people who can punch through mountains will never, ever be a good idea.  Unfortunately for Colossus, his pride demands he avenges au naturel.

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For an arc that mainly revolves around Colossus redeeming his past by using restaurant supplies, it wraps up on one of the most beautiful comic book moments of the past few years.  Whatever the Phoenix Force did to poor Colossus, I hope all the damage’ll be undone one day.  Y’know, because of fate and destiny and all that.

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Kitty returns to Earth from her bullet prison fifteen issues later.  But you know what would help ease Colossus back into his normal crime-fighting, X-Men-filled life?  Closure.  Like the closure that lasts forever.

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