Hard to pick a side, right? Thor, the ye ol’ Aryan god with a heart and hammer both equally large, versus Storm, the X-Men powerhouse and leaderwho somehow finds Wolverine attractive. But luckily for you today, you don’t have to break your heart rooting for one superhero over the other. Y’see, this fight in Black Panther #25, written by Reginald Hudlin and drawn by Marcus To, takes place during the Marvel event Civil War. And Thor wasn’t around during it.
With morality pretty much siding with Captain America, our dear Iron Man figures he might as well go full-on mad scientist. After all, when the story portrays Iron Man as the villain (sort of?), he embraces the opportunity by creating a robot Thor using stolen DNA and Mr. Fantastic’s desperate gamble. So today, Storm does battle Thor, just not Thor Thor.
We underestimate Storm’s power sometimes. She doesn’t have the durability of an Asgardian, but no one looks cooler summoning thunderstorms. Y’know, I don’t know if Storm could win against the real Thor. Though to be fair, neither could 98% of the Marvel universe — but you know superheroes, part of the contract includes playing really terrible odds.
Apparently, Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic programmed misogyny into the robot as well. The real Thor’s nothing if not a gentleman. Chivalry tops the list of Asgardian traits, right after smushing frost giants and maintaining a mead buzz.
I wouldn’t say Invisible Woman (mother of two) used great word choice there, but the idea’s still solid. While Storm could probably win the fight on her own, superheroes tend to be busy and spending hours fighting robots takes a lot of valuable time away that they could spend fighting non-robots. Plus, teamwork and whatnot.
When creative and interesting plans fall through (precise EMP blast, for instance), brute force always works as a fall back plan. Robot Thor shows up a few times after this, but nothing wildly significant.
On a similar subject, I wonder if Storm ever fought Electro?
So a little detour to start us off, but remember last article when Magneto locked the Nazi Red Skull in a hidden bunker, never to be heard from or seen again? While punches and flying shields can cause Red Skull physical pain, nothing compares to Magneto’s emotional punishment. Sitting in that dark silent bunker with no food and only a little water, our spiteful Nazi has plenty of time to sit, hallucinate, and contemplate his life’s decisions in Captain America #369-370, written by Mark Gruenwald and drawn by Ron Lim.
Can you detect an upcoming theme? I mean, no one knows where he is and Red Skull has no way to signal for help. Though you claim suicide as the coward’s way out, you know who else committed suicide?
Over the next few decades, Red Skull’s disembodies hallucinations have branched out on their own. His daughter becomes Sin and later the next Red Skull. Arnim Zola develops an entire alternative dimension and even fathered/created a few kids. Though luckily, no Hitler developments.
He gets rescued next issue. Let’s not worry about how.
Anyway, let’s continue onto our main event. Y’see, Magneto’s philosophies have changed over the years as our culture and times have evolved. He remains in that tiny category of supervillains who happen to be simultaneously sympathetic and evil (Mr. Freeze, Bane, Man-Bat, Two-Face — really most of Batman’s rogue gallery). In X-Men #85, volume 2, written by Joe Kelly and drawn by Alan Davis, our featured supervillain attempts to satisfy both his desires and morals.
I’d like to tell you that Bill Jones argues an exciting and suspenseful battle of words with the disguised Magneto. By not revealing that information, I could definitely amp up the suspense. But look, dear Bill Jones doesn’t stand a chance — Magneto stacked the deck against him from the very beginning. Magneto’s cheating, and even Magneto himself doesn’t realize it yet.
You think Bill Jones scored a knockout punch, right? The most average man in the city unfortunately holds no hatred in his heart for the filthy genetic freaks that’ll kill his family and eat his children. But as the bell rings to start round two, Magneto brings out the big guns.
Poor Bill Jones didn’t realize that Hitler’s a sore spot for Magneto. As you can imagine, the game goes in a different direction. If reason and logic won’t convince Magneto that he’s right, then he’ll stick to what he knows — fear and bitterness. Now Magneto’s cheating.
See? That’s what makes this issue genius: Magneto simply manipulated the situation until he received the answer he wanted, instead of accepting that maybe his ideals aren’t so accurate. Supervillains tend to have a bit of an ego on them. And what about Bill Jones’ final cry? Surely Magneto must realize his mistakes. He’ll shake Bill Jones’ hand and apologize while maintaining eye contact. That’s the reasonable, intelligent decision after Magneto essentially poked Bill Jones until he yelled to stop. Right?
I don’t think any comic book character has crossed the good guy/bad guy line more often than Magneto. Every decade he decides to once again terrorize humankind or once again aid the human-protecting X-Men. Though despite his alliances, his motive never changes: mutants rock, non-mutants suck. More of the former, less of the latter. What’s Magneto’s opinon on his constant team switching? I don’t know if anything concrete has come out, but you do get a glimpse in AvX: Consequences #4, written by Kieron Gillen and Mark Brooks.
To get you caught up, in the aftermath of the Marvel event Avengers vs. X-Men, Colossus is on the run for his crimes he committed as part of the Phoenix Five. Storm can’t convince him to return to his buddies. Colossus’ arch-nemesis will always be Colossus.
Much like how history is written by the victors, Magneto adheres to a similar philosophy. So, when the textbooks get written centuries in the future, what title will Magneto receive? Honestly, I have no idea. But I did collect a few ambiguous examples of both. First up: Captain America #367, written by Mark Gruenwald and drawn by Kieron Dwyer.
Quickly name some of the biggest Marvel supervillains — Magneto, Doctor Doom, Loki, Green Goblin, Mandarin, Kingpin, etc. And Red Skull, who as you can imagine might not get along with one of the members of this list. Y’know, because Red Skull’s a Nazi and Magneto’s a Holocaust survivor.
No telepaths needed to read their minds. Red Skull hates mutants. Magneto really hates Red Skull. But as the two argue, Red Skull does defend his ideals with an unfailing confidence that most delusional psychopaths possess. It’d be admirable if it wasn’t for the whole Nazi thing.
Look, it can be difficult to argue that Magneto hasn’t turned into a smaller scale Hitler himself, at least with the goal of exterminating/ruling over mankind with his fellow superior mutants. But despite all the political and moral arguments one could make demeaning Magneto’s speech, allow me to present my own ironclad argument: screw Nazis. As you expect, Magneto totally wins their little chase.
Red Skull’s hallucinations and almost-repentance begin two issues later, which we’ll cover later. But I do want to make sure we cover one of Magneto’s more evil moments, like that famous one from the early ’90s when he went full on bad guy. Wild carnage abounds in X-Men #25, volume 2, written by Fabian Nicieza and drawn by Andy Kubert. Heads up, it’s going to get wordy.
Y’know, the moment where Magneto figures, well, time to be a Hitler. Ends justify the means and blah blah blah. Then he fights the X-Men for forty pages:
Do you know the horrifying pain Wolverine experienced when he got pumped full of adamantium? Turns out it hurts way more coming out.
Despite Magneto’s power, he really doesn’t stand a chance against his old friend Professor X. It’s only because dear Xavier holds back and instead sends in squads of teenagers that Magneto can even secure victories. Because if the professor were to ever snap, like say when adamantium rips out of his teammate’s body, poor Magneto can’t possibly defend against that level of psychic attack. Y’see, when the Hulk gets angry, he can punch dudes into space, but mind powers work differently and the results tend to be far more cruel.
As many subtly awful things Professor X did during his time running the X-Men, we should applaud him just for the fact that he could have done so much worse. Like erasing the entire brain of anyone he chooses ever.
As much as I’d like to take sides between Professor X and Magneto, my own identity as a bald Jew puts me in a tricky spot. On Monday, I’d like to continue exploring some powerful Magneto moments. Hopefully.
If we consistently drop everything to follow a car chase every time it appears on TV, how can civilians in the superhero world ever get anything accomplished with all the daily battles? In New York City, with the combined rogue galleries of dozens of superheroes and superhero teams patrolling the city, I figure there must be at least two or three supervillains attacks a day. So all the normal folks, probably to ease some of the pain of living in a spandex-filled war zone, hope to gain some benefit from all this destructive world-saving. Y’know, a benefit besides not having Galactus eat the planet.
In the fantastic first half Spider-Man: Unlimited #11, written by Brian Reed and drawn by Michael Lark, our setting never ventures outside the bar:
Do you think the jokes distract criminals from realizing just how powerful Spider-Man is? Super speed, super strength, projectile webs, spider-sense, and a genius intelligence. Though all those powers still pale to Hulk’s potential — the ability to crush Spider-Man into a red-and-blue smear of goo. The responsible ex-cons and beer patrons take advantage of this chaos:
One of the benefits of comics allows the artist to make a character invisible while still showing their face. We have no idea the identity of this Spider-Man fan — it could be anyone from a Peter Parker clone to the Silver Surfer to Black Panther, though chances are probably slim on that last one. Lark’s a super talented artist, but I like the idea of anonymity while still prominently in the spotlight.
Hint: it’s not Professor X or Jean Grey. After years of Spider-Man punching his way around the city, it can’t be difficult to imagine someone figured out his combat formula. Though Spider-Man’s fighting style usually involves less technique and more a focus on tether ball.
Logistics aside, I can totally see Spider-Man beating the practically invulnerable, limitlessly strong Hulk. Sure, Hulk could liquify Spider-Man with one solid kick, but superheroes hold back. Especially when fighting buddies. Besides, a series where Hulk spent every issue jumping around effortlessly stomping the Marvel universe into paste would only last two or three hundred issues max.
Oh, and figured out the mystery Spider-Man expert? Spoiler alert:
The trailers are dashing my hopes, but I wish Jamie Foxx’ll wear the starfish hat in the new movie.
Captain America’s teenage sidekick, almost a necessity during the 1940s, became a superhero the same way most sidekicks did: through sheer luck. Batman just happened to be watching Dick Grayson’s circus act as tragedy struck. Jimmy Olsen just so happens to be working at the same newspaper as Superman’s alter ego. Toro’s parents coincidentally worked for the creator of the android Human Torch. And Bucky’s origin, as seen in Captain America Annual #1, written by Stan Lee and drawn by Jack Kirby, begins the same way:
I love two things about this: Captain America off-handedly mentions Nazis would have killed Bucky, and Captain America immediately buckles to Bucky’s blackmail. But that story doesn’t hold up anymore — origins constantly get modernized, and Bucky remains no different.
First, for those who don’t know, let me briefly explain Bucky (real name James Buchanan). At sixteen years old, he ran around the army base as a sort of mascot. Then he fights the entirety of World War II on the front lines next to Captain America (bright blue costume), Namor (wore only a speedo), the Human Torch (fiery android), and Toro (fiery human) as part of the superhero team the Invaders. As the war ended, Captain America and Bucky get famously blown up attempting to stop an enemy airplane. Bucky dies and Captain America joins the Avengers after a few decades encased in ice. We can talk about the revolving death door for superheroes, but it took Bucky over forty years to return to the land of the living. And in Captain America & Bucky #620, written by Ed Brubaker & Marc Andreyko and drawn by Chris Samnee & Bettie Breitweiser, we get his updated beginnings:
Can you see the difference yet? This Bucky happened to be a combat prodigy right from the beginning, not some bumbling kid who stumbled into Captain America’s changing room. And trust me, he gets the training we expect from superheroes who fought tanks and Nazi supervillains on a daily basis.
Of course Bucky has crazy military skills. He spends four years of WWII in daily combat in next to the shiniest beacon of American pride the Germans could shoot at. If you take a look at the superheroes with no powers, their resumes all look relatively the same: an unbeatable foundation of combat training. Batman used his teenage years to study ninja martial arts. The Punisher rocked the Vietnam War. Hawkeye spent his entire adolescence as a circus archer. Black Widow has had Soviet espionage training since practically her birth. Hard work can usually make up for an inability to shoot eye lasers or bench-press trucks.
If you’d like to feel old, that would make Captain America roughly 24 when he joined the Avengers. Still, a little modernization of our favorite superheroes is appreciated — especially as writing and storytelling in comics has shifted over the past fifty years. But the names and costumes? Those are forever.
And Aunt May’s dog Ms. Lion. The two act as a furry buddy cop dynamic, but I’m focusing on the more popular one to shamelessly increase hits. Though, I use the word popular lightly, as Niels doesn’t even get a full page in the Marvel Pet Handbook (written and drawn by everybody):
The above picture provides the finest example of comics as a glorious literary art form. A cat wanders into an ongoing experiment, gains superpowers, and fights crime. And we don’t question a single freaking thing. Here’s some proof from Speedball #2, written by Stan Ditko & Roger Stern and drawn by Ditko:
Speedball spends his series searching for the cat in between smacking criminals with energy bubbles.
Yes, comics were weird in the ’80s. And the decades before that. The ones after that too, to be fair. But now Niels treks out on his own, taking the superhero name Hairball to correct injustice perpetrating throughout the Marvel universe. Today, we’ll be using scenes from Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #1-4 and Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers Unleashed #1, all written by Chris Eliopoulos and drawn by Ig Guara.
Oh, and now Niels can talk.
The rest of the Pet Avengers roster consist of Lockjaw, Redwing, Lockheed, and Zabu (all given a full page in the Marvel Pets Handbook) along with new character Frog Thor — who while a frog, is not Thor. I’m ignoring the other characters today, but they deserve an introduction. The giant teleporting dog Lockjaw lives with Black Bolt and the Inhumans on the moon. The superhero Falcon’s pet Redwing has a telepathic link that allows his master to see out the bird’s eyes and vice versa. The alien dragon that befriended Kitty Pryde Lockheed can do all the normal tiny dragon things. And Zabu’s a sabretooth tiger living in the Savage Land with Tarzan-esque humans Ka-Zar and Shanna the She-Devil. He doesn’t join until next issue.
If you don’t know who Ms. Lion is, you’re not alone. The dog showed up in the Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends cartoon from the early ’80s. You’re completely caught up.
So now they go on adventures. Surprisingly suspenseful and action-packed adventures.
The pets decide to gather the Infinity Gems, the jewelry with the power to remake the universe into whatever its owner desires. Turn people into tuna. Water becomes chicken broth. D0gs now speak Mandarin. Anything the heart wants, except for one small problem — a certain supervillain won’t let go of the notion that the Infinity Gems belong to him.
Like all good superhero team origin stories, they must work together to defeat a foe tougher than any one of them alone. Only it turns out to be Thanos, an invulnerable superbeing that the entire galaxy fears. Also, he’s holding Bo, President Obama’s dog. Social commentary or celebrity guest star or whatever you want to believe.
Witness our feline pal heroically become the superhero we all wish him to be, instead of a whiny cat with an orbit of glowing rainbow balls. You can click the image for a larger version if needed.
Thanos versus the unified animal super team begins now. For the future and whatnot.
I’m not going to show you the fight, I’m sorry. But you can probably guess the outcome. While Hairball, Ms. Lion, and the others show up in series like Avengers vs. Pet Avengers, one-shots like Tails of the Pet Avengers, and a few other publications, I want to highlight one more moment with the world’s angriest cat and happiest dog.
Let’s not take this problem lightly (see what I did there?). Hippos weigh over a ton and even real Avengers like Captain America can’t just toss an animal that size back in its pen. This dilemma involves a carefully crafted solution. Or zero impulse control. Either works.
And the second adventure begins the next page. I’m not one to bash pet owners, but Aunt May should probably keep better track of her dog or at least splash herself with radioactive goo — she’s practically the only member of the Spider-Man family not to be an Avenger nowadays.
Here’s a superhero topic no one has ever asked for nor desired to see. I have chronicled every appearance the cat of Ms. Marvel has made (real name Carol Danvers, now goes by superhero name Captain Marvel), including those that only include the animal as apartment decoration (most of them). In order of chronological appearance, our dear kitty shows up in:
Giant-Size Ms. Marvel one-shot, written by Brian Reed and drawn by Roberto de la Torre
Ms. Marvel #4, written by Reed and drawn by de la Torre
Ms. Marvel #5, written by Reed and drawn by de la Torre
Ms. Marvel #13, written by Reed and drawn by Aaron Lopresti
Ms. Marvel #15, written by Reed and drawn by Lopresti
Ms. Marvel #17, written by Reed and drawn by Lopresti
Ms. Marvel #25, written by Reed and drawn by Adriana Melo
Marvel Pets Handbook one-shot, written by everybody and drawn by everybody else
Captain Marvel #9, written by Kelly Sue DeConnick and drawn by Filipe Andrade
Captain Marvel #10, written by DeConnick & Christopher Sebela and drawn by Andrade
Captain Marvel #11, written by DeConnick & Christopher Sebela and drawn by Andrade
Avengers: Enemy Within #1, written by DeConnick and drawn by Scott Hepburn
Captain Marvel #17, written by Connick and drawn by Andrade
You’re welcome, world.
Chewie first appears in an alternative dimension. You can read an older article I wrote for that whole story, but here’s the cat parts:
After mystical mayhem across worlds, energy fields, and assistance from Doctor Strange, Danvers defeats the evil bearded wizard — her only prize the satisfaction of a job well-done. And a cat.
For the next few years, the cat serves as background, like an adorable lamp or something (plus one appearance in one of those Marvel encyclopedia issues). Oh, and if you prefer drama with zero context, please enjoy.
At long last, our cat gets used as more than just a reminder of Captain/Ms. Marvel’s home life. Chewie gets upgraded to the next level: prop.
Isn’t Captain Marvel wonderful? And the first issue of the new Ms. Marvel came out today as well. Inhuman DNA mixed with a quick-witted teenager dumped in a bowl of social commentary and eventual fistfights if you’re into that kind of thing.
Spoiler alert: she does it anyway. Captain Marvel has never been the paradigm of healthy living. Further appearances revert the kitty back to piece of background, but Chewie’ll always be in the foreground of my heart.
We’re done. It’s anti-climactic, isn’t it? Tomorrow, we’ll delve into another superhero’s cat, but this one can shoot energy balls and talk. Comics are weird.