Tag Archives: Fantastic Four

Remembering Stan “The Man” Lee

Stan Lee Confirms Three Upcoming Marvel Movie Cameos

As many, if not most, of you know by now, Stan Lee died on the morning of November 12, 2018. It was sad news for all the Marvelites who had enjoyed his universe and characters since childhood. We knew that someday Stan would have to go on the Great Adventure all his heroes were preparing us to face in the future, naturally, but we put all thoughts of his departure as far from our minds as possible.

This made it a blow when we got the news that he had passed through the curtain to the Other Side. I hope his wife and his second daughter were waiting for him when he got off the train. But as with my own fate, what has become of him now will remain a mystery until it is my turn to go through the curtain.

To say that Stan Lee and his friends at Marvel impacted this blogger’s life enormously would be an understatement. Without him and his compatriots, most of whom predeceased him, Thoughts on the Edge of Forever would not exist in the form you know it, readers. The first post I wrote here focused on Marvel’s The Avengers, the big box office hit of 2012 that kicked off roughly ten years of cinematic fun. And as long time readers know, most of the criticism on this site has been aimed at Marvel’s current hierarchy precisely because they were dishonoring Stan Lee’s legacy before he had even said his last, “Excelsior!”

None of this is to imply that Stan Lee was perfect. That would be ridiculous; he was a man, a fallen, flawed human being like me and everyone else in this world. I don’t think he was perfect. Perfect isn’t the point. He was a good storyteller and a good friend to all those who loved his and his company’s work, whether they met him in person or not.

Without his heroes – his flawed, human heroes – lots of people would have thrown in the towel on life and limb a long time ago. Captain America, Hawkeye, Spider-Man, Wasp, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Storm, Cyclops, Rogue, Gambit, Wolverine, Mirage, Black Widow, Falcon, Sunfire, Luke Cage, Namor the Submariner, Hulk, Thor Odinson, Black Panther, Professor X, Silver Sable – they all inspired someone. They all faced evils we could relate to, or could see ourselves encountering some day. They could have turned back from fighting evil lots of times under Stan’s leadership, but they didn’t. They all thought, “I can’t hang on much longer…!” only to come to the conclusion that they had to hang on longer, even if it killed them. Without their strength, many of us would have stopped holding on and fighting years ago.

So I will be forever grateful to Stan Lee for bringing these characters to the world, and for each story he wrote, approved, or spearheaded. Quaint or odd as it may seem, I wouldn’t be the person I am today without his help, distant though it was. Keep on going “ever higher,” Stan. We’ll be rooting for you until it’s our turn to finally glance over our shoulders, give everyone behind us a thumbs up, and say: “’Nuff said.”

Image result for stan lee
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A ‘Quake’ing Good Idea

Quake

Hello, Marvel Writers!

I was bopping through the Wikipedia files on our favorite heroes when I remembered a character I’d seen in Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!  So when I found the episode title and saw one name I didn’t recognize listed, I clicked on it.  That’s how I discovered Quake, a.k.a. Daisy Louise Johnson.

She’s very interesting; a SHIELD agent AND the daughter of a villain (in this case Mr. Hyde).  Adopted (and apparently raised) by S.H.I.E.L.D., she doesn’t seem to have any care for her actual father.  It’s safe to say he doesn’t care about her.

Beating Magneto on her first mission is a major accomplishment.  Too bad she didn’t join the Avengers; she’d make a heck of a teammate!  By the way, who are her adopted parents?  She seems to be so loyal to Fury that she considers him something of a father figure more than a commander.

From what I can see, she’s in good company.  Or at least, she should be.  After all, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver have a similar story to hers, but so far hers has turned out better.  And so this brings me to my questions, theories, and suggestions.

We’ll start with the questions: Why is she the only really good (recent) character related to a villain to turn into a permanent heroine?

And why don’t the heroes get to have families?

Wanda and Pietro have had repeated relapses into their criminal tendencies.  Nightcrawler has gotten along fairly well, but the same can’t be said of Rogue these days.  Gambit is also zigzagging across ‘state lines.’  Harry Osborn has fallen time and again into his father’s madness, and taken on the costume of the Green Goblin a few times in certain arcs and series as well.

The Prof’s son, David, turned into the villain Legion.  Cable – well, after a while it’s hard to tell which side of the tracks Nathaniel Summers fights on.  Spider-Man’s daughter is dead (I liked the kidnapped story better), and Mockingbird had a miscarriage at some point.  Yet Mr. Hyde, Thanos, and even the Red Skull each succeed in having a daughter.  Can you say ‘unfair’?

Now for my theories.  I think that you guys have Wanda, Pietro, Rogue, and Gambit ‘relapsing’ or going berserk to add pathos to their characters.

Excuse me?  All four are (or were) already trying to shake off the sins of their fathers (or mothers).  Gambit’s ‘father’ was a thief who raised him to use his powers to steal.  Rogue’s and Nightcrawler’s ‘mother’ regularly tries to kill them or ruin the world they live in.  And the Maximoff twins’ father is Magneto, a near genocidal mutant who has killed at least several hundred people.

This earns them plenty of sympathy and reason to run from their past.  The only one who seems to have succeeded, however, is Nightcrawler.

L Face it, sending them straight back into what they are desperately trying to avoid isn’t for the effect of extra tragedy.  It’s to ‘explore’ their psyches and ‘dark sides.’

For the umpteenth time; this is unnecessary!!  They suffer enough even being tied to these people.  Drowning them in their ‘dark sides’ is just to entertain yourselves (you sickos!!!!).

As for not giving anyone but the Fantastic Four and Luke Cage a stable family, I think you haven’t done that for two reasons.  First, you don’t believe the readers and fans want to see the heroes ‘grow up’ and have a family.  Second, you figure there’s no real need for them to have one except as a launch pad for a plot twist (which is why Hawkeye’s family died in the Ultimate Marvel Universe; how else could you make him a suicidal loose cannon?).

Did the relative popularity of the MC-2 universe Spider-Girl teach you nothing?  Obviously, it didn’t.  New York’s favorite Webhead finally gets a chance in that series to be as happy as Reed and Sue Richards, and fans liked it.  They liked it.  Yet our mainstream heroes get slung into the depths of despair and pain for no other reason than it is amusing to you.

So somehow villains like the Red Skull, Thanos, Magneto, and Mr. Hyde get to have children (two of whom, Sin and Nebula, take on the professions of their fathers), but only the FF gets to have a legacy in Franklin Richards and his new baby sister.  Even the Prof doesn’t get to have anyone take up his cause since Cyclops’ fall from grace.  I don’t know where Legion is, but he certainly isn’t a member of the X-Men.

Meanwhile, evil is assured root in the Marvel Universe by the likes of Sin and Nebula, while good wanes as fast as the might of Gondor.

As you may remember, that fictional country’s strength was reinvigorated by the return of the king. When I say this in relation to the comics, I mean the return of hope, common sense, and heroes to their principles once again.

If Spider-Girl was popular once, why couldn’t she be again?  I’m not saying that Spidey has to hang up his costume when/if he becomes a dad; when has Reed Richards?  When has Luke Cage?  Last time I checked, they were still actively serving as heroes after becoming fathers.

I have more examples beside the MC-2 Universe, too.  I haven’t forgotten the Next Avengers’ Universe with James Rogers, Francis Barton, Torunn, Azari, etc.  Fans enjoy those comics, don’t they?  When last I checked, they did.

Just out of curiosity, have you ever tried to find out why they are so liked?

If not, then here’s why I enjoy them: although all our heroes in the Next Avengers Universe are dead (sniffle), all is not lost.  For a while they had a little bit of happiness before they went to the great beyond.  They had children who would be able to continue their legacy.  And watching these youngsters grow up is almost like meeting our favorite heroes all over again.

Throughout their comics’ series, they have made nearly the same mistakes that their parents would have.  They get into similar disagreements or brawls the way their parents did (James and Francis continue to knock heads, as their fathers did before them, over how to win a fight).  They’ve been fostered by Iron Man, just like Myles in Men of Iron was fostered by a friend of his father’s.  This type of story is nearly as old as time.

So despite the fact that these true ‘Young Avengers’ are living in an apocalyptic world without their parents, the driving theme is that they are emblems of hope for their universe.  That’s why I like them.

Okay, so now that I’ve burned your ears off, are you ready to hear the suggestions I referred to earlier?

Well, ready or not, here they are.  Why not let our mainstream heroes wake up from this clockwise nightmare?  Suppose the stories from Disassembled and onward are somehow erased (permanently, please!) or are the result of some sort of ‘dream sequence.’  Then give the heroes a breather for as long as they need it; get them back on their feet, reorient them with each other and with the readers.  (I cannot tell you how old they feel right now, with this constant breakneck pace that’s been running through the comics for the past twenty years.  Giving them a breather would help, oh, so much.  It would take years off them if you just gently applied the brakes and started cruising down the street again.)

And then I would suggest that you let them have what the people they continually fight to protect have – a family.  I would suggest giving them heirs to carry on the mantle at some future time (preferably, a future time that is always one more day away).

Luke Cage is proof this works.  He’s a father and his daughter was kidnapped not too long ago.  They got her back, safe and sound.

Reed and Sue Richards are also proof.  How many times has Franklin been threatened since he was born?  I, for one, have lost track.

These two families are proof that being a family and being a superhero is possible.  A family wouldn’t make a hero ‘grow up,’ they would make them ‘grow out.’  In other words, they would expand their character.

Think of the plots that could come of this, fellow writers!!  Think of the new teams that could be formed this way!!  If there’s to be a band of Young Avengers, it should have at least one or two children of a few actual Avengers as members- in my humble opinion.

You could make Iron Lad (can that name get ‘ironed’ into better shape?) a son of Tony Stark instead of a young Kang the Conqueror.  That would make it less of a headache to keep up with an Iron Lad, as well as explaining how he got the armor.  Cap is definitely a family type guy.  You already know what I have to say about Mockingbird and Hawkeye.  Quicksilver has a daughter, as does Arachne/Julia Carter.  Where are these girls?  And T’Challa needs an heir or the kingship of Wakanda goes to a relation of his when he’s dead.  Storm would make a great mom; she proved it taking care of Shadowcat and other young mutants.

And having Rogue and Gambit finally finish their dance around the Maypole would be a relief.  Jean and Cyke gave up that dance (finally); Rogue and Gambit should be able to as well.

This is not to say I want our heroes abruptly and unceremoniously replaced by their children (if they have any).  All I’m asking is a hint that someday, a day that never really comes, our heroes will have heirs to take their places.  Kings and queens in old folklore had that.  Why can’t our heroes/heroines have that?

I realize that characters like the Hulk and the Black Widow can’t have children.  That’s fine.  Who in the world could replace the Hulk or Natasha Romanoff?  There are also characters I wouldn’t want to see married, let alone parents (I mean Ms. Marvel here; *shiver*).  But it would be nice to see some of the heroes, like Cap, Tony, Spidey, and Hawkeye, get the chance at that happiness.

Why, you ask?  Because the villains shouldn’t get all the perks.  For starters, they haven’t earned them.

The heroes have.

I say – no, I shout – let the heroes go back to having rambling, surprising, fizzy adventures.  Adventures where the heroes are the good guys – period.  Reading stories like Disassembled and Age of Ultron makes me feel a thousand years old; that was never the purpose of our favorite heroes. And I suggest letting Quake, Rachel Carter, Franklin Richards, Nick Fury Jr., etc., have peers.

So this is my challenge to you, fellow writers.  Turn off the overheated engine, the blaring buzz of constant hate and warfare.  Give us some fizz, hope, and freedom.  Give us some expanded characters.

Are you up to it?

Sincerely,

Mithril (A Frustrated, but Eager and Hopeful True Believer)

Spider-Girl

Marvel Zombies – Seriously?!?!?

Hello, Marvel Writers!

“It’s clobberin’ time!” 

That has to be one of the best known catch phrases in entertainment history, and I have to say that it never gets old.  Almost sixty years after the comics came out and, despite all the other cultural changes in how people speak to each other, Ben Grimm’s battle cry still has the same defiant ring to it.

The same can be said for “Avengers Assemble!” and Logan’s, “I’m the best there is at what I do.”

However, a great many other things have changed, and not necessarily for the better.  For starters, there’s this fascination people have developed in the undead.  Vampires, zombies, werewolves, witches, etc., are all in high demand these days. 

Marvel has several such characters, most of whom are interesting.  Blade is quite intriguing as he resists the urge to act on his vampire nature, fighting it – and other vampires as well – to protect the people he would otherwise constantly be compelled to kill.  And never let it be said that Dr. Strange is a lousy ally (although I’ve never found him particularly entertaining, to be honest, except for his cockamamie spell incantations; those were fun!)

But throwing our dashing heroes into the middle of a zombie war, as has occurred in Marvel Zombies, is just a step too far.

First of all, most of them probably wouldn’t even get infected in the first place.  Any zombie that tried to eat Ben Grimm would lose all his teeth on the first bite. Cap, Black Widow, and Wolverine’s immune systems are so much faster than the average human’s that they can’t even catch the common cold, let alone some zombie strain.  The Hulk has bullet-proof skin, so he’s pretty well zombie-proof. Thor is Asgardian and therefore immune to practically everything. Iron Man would taste worse than Ben, and all Johnny Storm would have to do is “Flame on!” and he’d instantly be unappetizing to anything, especially zombies. 

Which reminds me: Why are zombies always getting shot to ribbons or hacked to pieces?  They are dead and decaying bodies reanimated with below animal intelligence.  All anyone needs to do to kill a zombie is find and turn on a flame thrower, the more fuel and range it has, the better.  Poof, no more zombie problem.  I like that, saves a lot of energy all the way around. 

In all seriousness, this side series of Marvel comics is totally and completely unappealing.  There are plenty of zombie stories out there.  Why do our favorite heroes have to be forced into fighting them or, more to the point, joining the throng of undead?

Really, really unnecessary, fellow writers.

Sincerely,

Mithril (A Disappointed True Believer)

The Fall of the Self-Made Super Heroes

 Iron Man

Hello, Marvel Writers!

So on May 3 Iron Man 3 hits theaters nationwide.  Kudos to whomever had him bring in all those different versions of the armor; it’s high time we saw them all!  But wait.  Why should he need those different armors now that he’s getting the Extremis serum?

On that point, why did he even get the Extremis serum in the first place?

This is hard for me to understand, or even enjoy, really.  I always thought that Tony Stark was a great character precisely because he had no superpowers.  He wasn’t a mutant, he hadn’t been exposed to any bizarre, deadly radiation; he was just a genius who fought evil in a high-tech suit of armor.  In a way, he was like a modern day version of Sir Lancelot or one of the other ancient knights who guarded the great kingdoms in old stories.

It didn’t matter what tech or tools he had to work with, whether they were top of the line or rusted hunks of metal from the local scrapheap, Tony could whip up any gizmo from whatever he had to hand.  And it would work, often spectacularly, to trounce whatever leviathan monstrosity that Dr. Doom or Kang the Conqueror or, yes, the Mandarin, was aiming at him at the time.  No magic tricks, just astounding ingenuity.  What a feat to watch (or read)!

But, with Extremis, does he even need that anymore?

Yes, Extremis is fantastic.  It allows Tony to interface with computers using only his mind, process information from the Internet or nearby machinery at lightening speeds, and even detect technology that’s in the vicinity of the fight in which he is participating.   And, yes, it certainly speeds up the time he takes to don his armor, which is a plus.  I’m not saying that a super-powered Iron Man is lacking in benefits.  What I’m asking is, “Doesn’t it rob him of a special little something?”

Tony, in the majority of the comics, had to rely on his ingenuity where other heroes and heroines could call on inborn or acquired powers.  He didn’t have to use telepathy like Professor Xavier to defeat a bad guy.  He just had to out-think him.

Tony didn’t need the Hulk’s great strength.  The armor let him dish out almost as much punishment as it let him take.

He didn’t need Kree DNA in his system so he could shoot laser blasts.  He developed flight stabilizers (repulsors) that doubled as neat plasma guns.  And they fit right in the palm of each hand!!!

Why give him, almost out of the blue, superpowers?  Were the sales of Iron Man comics falling that sharply?  And if they were, weren’t there better ways of raising them again than altering Iron Man’s star gift?

I have heard many times that Tony Stark is popularly assailed by doubts about whether or not it is the man who makes the armor or the armor that makes the man.

Really?  Without Tony Stark, there would not be any Iron Man suits.

And if there were, without a hero to pilot them (and that hero would have to know every system and circuit in the suits like a well-read book) the armors would all be decorating the halls of some billionaire’s mansion as displays of wealth.  All this is what Stark could have done.  Instead, he chose to use the armors for the greater good, improving them to the point where only the most arrogant villain is unafraid of facing him in battle.  And there are still a lot of improvements that could go into future suits.  With Extremis, what need would Tony Stark have to focus on those improvements?

On that note, why should he wear a suit at all?  He could fight, using Extremis, in only a business suit if he wanted to do so.  If the mood struck him, he could do it in his pajamas.  Why use a metal suit when you can control machinery?

And worse, Stark’s not the only hero in the Marvel Universe gaining superpowers.  Mockingbird and Winter Soldier (whose only enhancement once was a robotic left arm) have both been given serums that blend Cap’s Super Soldier serum and Fury’s Infinity serum so that they could survive life-threatening injuries.  Young Avenger Patriot gained Super Soldier abilities after getting a blood transfusion from his grandfather, a soldier in WW II who was also given a variant of Cap’s serum, for the same reason.  Before that he was using enhancement drugs.  In the alternate, Ultimate comic line, Hawkeye has been given optical enhancements so that he has the most accurate eyesight on the planet.

I see these new ‘enhancements’ only as thefts from the integrity of these heroes.  Mockingbird and Winter Soldier won many battles where their super-powered compatriots could not even make slight headway, all for the simple reason that they were ‘normal’ humans.  Hawkeye has always been a very gifted shooter; his powers come not from mutant genes or scientific meddling, but from nature.  Despite Ultimate Hawkeye’s alternate history and life in the Ultimate Marvel Comics, the fact that he was not born sharp-eyed detracts a great deal from his (admittedly changed) personality.

And Patriot?  Several heroes in the ‘mainstream’ Marvel Universe, of which he is a part, continue to fight crime with nothing more than finely-honed skills.  Why couldn’t he have become Kate Bishop’s equal, fighting crime without powers?  Certainly, that would cement any romance blossoming between the two, as it has for other heroes in the past.  And it would give him a better standing as well.  He would be a ‘self-made’ super hero.

Iron Man was the first, and is the best, self-made superhero.  In fact, he was the inspiration for several other Marvel characters to don a costume and fight crime with only their natural skills (just ask Clint Barton).  It seems that just as he was the first to become a superhero on his own so he is the first to fall from the humble yet highly honorable position of a self-made hero.  And who can say who will be next after Tony Stark; Mockingbird, and Winter Soldier?  Jarvis?  Kate Bishop?  J. Jonah Jamieson?  Flash Thompson?  Maria Hill?

Yes, Extremis is an amazing advantage.  But the more amazing and the better advantage was Tony Stark’s boundless resourcefulness.  Until it returns, it will be a talent sorely missed by many Marvelites, my fellow writers.

Sincerely,

Mithril (A Troubled True Believer)