Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Character Designs Via HeroMachine!

I’d just like to kick things off by saying “thank you.”

Today marks the 1 year anniversary of The Azn Badger’s Blog, so “thanks” for reading and/or commenting, I assure you it’s very much appreciated on my end.

Anyway, sappy bullshit aside, let’s get to the actual post, shall we?

Have you ever been to a site called HeroMachine.com?

I forget what I was searching for, but I ended up stumbling across this site while I was Google-ing last night; and boy am I glad I did.

As it so happens, HeroMachine is a Flash based web-tool that essentially serves as a superhero character generator.

Using a very straightforward and intuitive “paper doll” mechanic similar to the one’s found in the Smackdown! vs. RAW videogames, you’re able to create and accessorize your own characters.

Pictured: The interface.

While normally I’d write this kind of thing off as a waste of time akin to a Facebook game, after tooling around with it for awhile; I became enamored with it’s breadth of content.

The artwork for all of the items/parts in it’s library is extremely well-drawn, plus there’s so much shit to choose from that I rarely found myself frustrated in terms getting what I wanted out of it.

Anyone who’s read this blog before probably knows that I’m a pretty big Marvel/DC comic fan; so HeroMachine ended up being a lot of fun for me.

That being said, here are some of the designs I ended up coming up for a comic book inspired story idea I had awhile back:

Pictured: Zero, the morally questionable protagonist.

This one is of the main character.

Inspirations for this design include some Deadpool/Deathstroke references in the mask and body pattern, as well as a bit of Cable in the boots.

I don’t know what it is, maybe I was just in a Rob Liefield sort of mood yesterday…

Pictured: 2nd draft of Zero.

This one is a 2nd draft of the main character.

Changes include some tweaks to his belt to seem more practical/realistic, removal of the Cable boots to make his body lines seem more sleek, the addition of some Beetle or Batman-like “ears” to the mask, and the addition of a katana to see what he’d look like with something for an accessory.

At this point I’m leaning towards the 2nd design, though I might have to color it to see how well the body patterns work out.

Pictured: Fanto, an interdimensional being and fairly major antagonist.

This one is of a pretty big villain in the story, who also happens to serve as comic relief from time to time.

I know that doesn’t really make sense, but bear with me…

Anyway, inspirations include Dormammu for the armor and stature, with just a hint of Baron Zemo in the form of the fuzzy bits on his neck and cape.

The main idea I was working from while putting this one together was that I wanted him to seem imposing and “war-like,” while at the same time just a little bit over-the-top so as to make him kind of hard to take seriously.

I think the goofy helmet and gaudy cape do enough to make this clear, however I might have to tweak it some more to make him seem less powerful.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for now.

Check back tomorrow for the beginning of an awesome new Top 10 list!

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Moon Knight’s Shot At The Big Time

Awhile back, I wrote a loving tribute to the delightfully insane D-list Marvel comics hero, Moon Knight.

As a minor member of Marvel’s “street level” crimefighting fraternity, Moon Knight spent most of his career viewed as a Batman rip-off with tonal discrepancies in his various incarnations, as well as some palpable identity issues.

It probably doesn’t help that the character of Moon Knight has often been written as possessing multiple personality disorder.

The point is, Moon Knight has never really been a major player in the Marvel universe.

 

Not like Puck. Puck's a fuckin' baller...

As a New York based crimefighter, he shares turf with Spider-Man, Daredevil, Iron Fist, The Punisher, and a host of other, more powerful and better known characters.

Sadly, team-ups involving Moon Knight having his book “invaded” by the aforementioned A-listers, have been kind of the norm in the world of Moon Knight, a plot device that, in my opinion; basically means that Marvel has never had enough confidence in the character to allow him to succeed on his own.

That being said, Moon Knight has not been without his moments, particularly within the past decade.

I know I used it before, but this was just so fuckin' awesome...

About 5-6 years ago, author Charlie Huston and artist David Finch managed to breath new life into the Moon Knight character by boosting the R-rated content of his story arcs, and playing on the character’s innumerable inner conflicts by having him struggle with his subconscious in a fashion aping the brilliance of John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London.

It represented a major high-point for the character, (or low, if you’re going by the actual content of the storyline) and one that would serve as my formal jumping on point to the Moon Knight bandwagon.

Following Huston’s departure though, Moon Knight would once again fade into relative obscurity, sitting out of most of the major event comics for several years to come; and playing host to storylines that were good, but nowhere near the level of quality that Huston established with his first few stories.

Once the Moon Knight series of the early 2000’s came to a close though, with the “death” of one of Moon Knight’s multiple personalities; things picked up again for another high.

 

Towards the close of the Dark Reign era of Marvel comics, Moon Knight was thrown back onto the shelves with a brand new, more PG-13 image, and a new series entitled Vengeance of the Moon Knight.

 

Motorcycles make anyone look cool...

Said “Vengeance” referred to Moon Knight supposedly seeking to avenge his previous “death” as ordered by Norman Osborn.

Being as Norman Osborn was and always will be a top-tier supervillain, with God knows how many nemeses; the chances of Moon Knight successfully taking him out were approximately 3,720 to 1, however that didn’t stop me from reading the story and loving it.

Featuring a host of some of the better villains in Moon Knight’s rogues gallery, including a newly resurrected Bushman AKA Moonies’ arch nemesis; the story was exceptionally well written by Gregg Hurwitz, as well as brilliantly illustrated by the uber talented Jerome Opena.

 

Not the most relevant of pics, but hey; I don't need a reason to showcase an instance of scarecrow punching.

As seems to be the norm for the ‘ole white knight though, the second arc in the series could barely hold a candle to the first.

Hurwitz remained on board as writer, but Opena jumped ship; and with good reason.

The initial outburst of energy brought on by the new direction of the series faded away, replaced by tedium and, you guessed it; guest appearances from characters like Deadpool.

 

That's right, get your own comic! No wait, he's already got like 6...

While I like Deadpool as much as the next 20-something year old comic fan, (provided he’s got a good writer backing him) his appearance in other character’s books is often a good indication of them having lost their way.

While that series petered out and was cancelled, most likely for the best; Marvel would end up giving Moonie another chance in the form of a spot on the newly formed Secret Avengers team as headed by Steve Rogers AKA Captain America.

From what I’ve heard, that series has been going strong since it’s inception last year, however both Moon Knight and Nova (another hero that doesn’t get enough spotlight) have reportedly served as little more than window dressing.

While Moon Knight has served time on Avengers teams before, this marks the first official team-up I can recall the character engaging in within my lifetime.

It’s bold moves like this that remind me Marvel has yet to lose faith in their crazy white knight.

Given that Mike Deodato is illustrating Secret Avengers, you can bet I’ll be picking it up as soon as it comes out in trade form.

I suppose it’s worth mentioning that Moon Knight also played minor role in the street level superhero crossover, Shadowland; however I’ve heard nothing but bad about that series, so I’m just going to plead ignorance and gloss over that particularly nasty bit of history…

 

Aw... Sleepy kitty!

Now that the history lesson’s over, we can finally get to the new business of Moon Knight.

Just a few days ago, it was announced that famed comic writer Brian Michael Bendis, as well as the terrific penciller Alex Maleev; would be taking the reigns on a new Moon Knight series beginning this May.

While his writing style can often be immature, and his stories don’t always come together all that cleanly, few can argue that Bendis is one of the best dialogue writers in the business, with an ability to capture character’s voices that is nigh unmatched.

Maleev is not slouch either, with a sharp, moody, and wholly dynamic art style, as well as a host of credits on various Avengers comics and an extended run on Bendis’ critically acclaimed Daredevil series.

 

Yeah, I'd say Mr. Maleev knows what he's doing...

From what I’ve read, the premise that the team is working from, is one that once again plays off of Moon Knight’s multiple personality disorder.

Taking into account Moon Knight’s current status as a Secret Avengers member, Bendis plans on having the character’s personality issues manifest in the form of taking on the behavior and personalities of his teammates.

In essence, the idea is that Moon Knight’s inherent insanity and unpredictably will be turned up to 11 in this series, with him assuming the characteristics of heroes like Wolverine, Spider-Man, and presumably Captain America based on the promotional image at the beginning of this article.

While this sounds a little tongue-in-cheek for my tastes, I can’t deny that the idea of a man running around thinking he’s indestructible, or thinking that he comes from the mythical kingdom of Asgard; will probably make for a fun read.

Assigning Bendis to write a Moon Knight series will grant the character unparalleled exposure and presence among casual comic book fans, a luxury that few D-list heroes ever get to experience, regardless of the breadth of publishing history they may possess.

Given the character’s questionable track record thus far, I don’t doubt that the series could indeed flop; however with such big names attached, I’m nothing if not hopeful for it’s success.

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New Superhero Story Idea

Every now and again I come up with ideas for stories I’d like to write.

More often than not, said stories are best suited for a visual medium like comic books or film.

I rarely, if ever; get around to actually completing these stories, but rest assured, all of them remain safely tucked away in the “vault” of my memory.

Oh yeah, and on countless barely coherent notepad docs stored on my computer…

Anyway, today I came up with a pretty decent premise for a story.

Wait, you mean someone already did a story about an island full of dinosaurs? Damn...

Being as this is a tale coming from the mind of the comic obsessed Azn Badger, the story involves a world where superheroes are pretty commonplace.

The protagonist is a superpowered young man that wishes to be a live the dream of being superhero, though his ability to do so is severely hampered by the nature of his powers.

In short, the man’s superpowers grant him the strength of “almost” one and a half men.

In other words:

He’s not very “super.”

Coincidentally, I imagined him looking kind of like Union Jack, (without the Union Jack, of course) a not-so-super superhero.

Though a formidable street level crime fighter, with excellent fighting skills and a keen mind for strategy and planning; his reputation as a superhero never really grows beyond that of a local urban legend.

In an attempt to spread his influence and make a name for himself, our hero attends a local “superhero mixer.”

By the way, the “mixer” takes place at a superhero’s dumpy apartment.

Hey, just ’cause a guy’s a superhero doesn’t mean he gets a Fortress of Solitude, just for being “super.”

Needless to say, much like Captain Amazing in Mystery Men, sponsorships, either corporate or government based, are a much sought after source of income for most big-name superheroes in this story.

Behold: An awesome actor, in an awesome role, from a shitty movie!

At the “mixer,” our hero gets a chance to rub elbows with some of the more famous (and powerful) heroes in the region, only to find that many of them write him off as a novelty and a disgrace to the “profession” of superhero-ing.

Insulted, humiliated, and more than a little down on himself after the experience, our hero turns his back of the superhero community, and decides to do something more practical (and lucrative) with his abilities:

He becomes a mercenary/hitman dealing exclusively in superhero related contracts.

While most of the details are unclear to me at this point, one of the key scenes I have in mind for the story, is one where our hero takes on the world’s most powerful superhero team; and defeats them (through non-lethal means) single-handedly in a wily Punisher/Bullseye/Spider-Man sort of way.

Another idea I had for the story, was that the strongest member of said team, a young woman; is actually too powerful for him defeat, thusly resulting in him hitting on her out of desperation.

Against all odds, she finds him charming, and the 2 become an unlikely couple.

..... Lesbians(?)

Now, one thing that needs to be said about this story idea, is that the central character is not meant to be sympathetic, nor heroic in any way.

In short, he’s an asshole, and one with a very nasty chip on his shoulder.

His strength as a hero/mercenary, lies within his cunning and intelligence, and besting other, far more powerful superpowered beings in this manner is his way of looking down his nose at them.

Some characters that resemble the protagonist in some way, are Marvel’s Deadpool, Taskmaster, and Bullseye.

All 3 are relatively low-powered, or in the case of the latter 2; unpowered; super-beings, with their resourcefulness and skill usually serving to make up for their meager attributes.

I wouldn’t expect my character to break the fourth wall like Deadpool, however his snarky, loudmouth attitude is something I’ll likely borrow.

Pictured: Why we keep Deadpool around.

For some reason, I’ve always found the idea of a relatively “weak” character somehow conquering a superior opponent, to be downright enthralling.

It worked for me when Cyclops took on the entire X-Men team by himself in the aftermath of the Dark Phoenix Saga.

It worked for me when The Punisher wasted the entire Marvel Universe in Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe.

Hell, it even worked for me when Spider-Man hilariously bested Firelord.

BWAHAHA! Unlikely PWNAGE!

Okay, maybe that last one was fuckin’ stupid, but the others were classics, I swear!

Anyway, I have no idea where I’m going with this story, but it’s something I think I’d like to keep working on for awhile.

Feel free to post ideas or comments!

 

 

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Thinking Of The Green Lantern Movie

So, last week I finally got the opportunity to view the trailer for the new live-action Green Lantern movie.

As a huge fan of the comic series and mythos, I must admit; my expectations for this film have been exceedingly high, especially given the marquee names (hint: not Ryan Reynolds) involved in it’s production.

Seriously man, take one of my favorite comics, attach Martin Campbell, the director of GoldenEye, The Mask of Zorro, and Casino fucking Royale to it; and I’m in like fuckin’ Flint.

That being said, despite all the hoopla surrounding it’s release, as well as my aforementioned schoolboy-esque giddy excitement; as promotional materials have continued to emerge for them movie, I’ve found myself growing weary of it’s potential suck-itude.

While it may be unfair of me, especially given the very limited amount of footage and stills that have been released at this point in time, but I can honestly say I don’t really care much for what I’ve seen of Green Lantern thus far.

The art design is flashy, and stunningly well rendered, (Kilowog looks pretty awesome) however it has a realistic quality that doesn’t really gel well with the technocolor sci-fi schlock that we’ve all come to expect from the Green Lantern comics.

The closest example I think of to cite in regards to my feelings on this subject, is that of the design work from the American Godzilla film from 1998, and the live-action Transformer films.

While brilliantly designed, and realized on the screen; the Transformers of the Michael Bay films simply weren’t Transformers as I knew them.

Similarly, the Godzilla of the Roland Emmerich/Dean Devlin, while also hideous; failed to capture my interest due to it’s inability to capture the “spirit” of the character I loved so dearly.

The designs for the Green Lantern movie feel too literal and too organic for what comes to my mind when I think of the comic franchise.

In particular, the design of the Green Lantern “suit,” just seems off too me.

While I understand that the Lantern “suit” is in fact a construct of the Green Power Ring, and for all intents and purposes should appear otherworldly, however it has never appeared this way in the comics.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not denouncing the art design of the upcoming film because it is straying off the beaten path; I’m simply scrutinizing it because I honestly don’t like it.

I know, I’m being overly critical; but that’s what happens when you’re as attached to the source material as I am.

As I mentioned earlier, Martin Campbell’s name attached to this movie makes a world of difference, to the point in which it’s difficult to imagine the movie being anything less than stellar.

Seriously man, the dude has a track record.

That being said, while I’ll agree that Ryan Reynolds certainly looks the part of Hal Jordan, and will probably do well in the role; the marketing department made damn sure to make him look like utter shit in the recent trailer.

Speaking only from what’s been shown in the trailer, Reynolds’ Hal Jordan seems just a little bit too much like, well; Ryan Reynolds.

In that sense, I feel it’s worth pointing out that Reynolds’ sharp tongue and particular brand of wit, honestly seem better suited for Deadpool than the Green Lantern.

Hal Jordan’s a dick sometimes, but he’s a dick with a passion for doing what’s right.

In other words: he’s not fuckin’ Van Wilder.

On a closing note, I’d like to point out that I sincerely approve of the casting of Mark Strong as Sinestro, as his powerful voice and cold stare fit well in my mind for the character, but the use of Peter Sarsgaard’s Hector Hammond as a potential main antagonist in the film, just doesn’t seem right to me.

Sarsgaard’s consummately even-tempered demeanor, and downright creepy speech cadence make him a good pick for the role, but it’s the role itself that bugs me.

Green Lantern is a film that challenges CG artists to take the concept of a man that can create anything within the capabilities of his willpower.

In my mind, taking a character with this kind of potential, and casting him opposite a jealous dude with a big head and psychic powers just doesn’t sound all that appealing to me.

Maybe it’s me just wishing we could skip all the origin story bullshit and get right to the cool stuff, like Emerald Twilight and the Sinestro Corps War, but Hector Hammond just doesn’t really do it for me as an antagonist at this juncture.

Here’s hoping they find a way to put Sinestro front and center as the villain, albeit in a sensible and dramatically satisfying manner.

Oh well, this entire article has just been me venting my concerns over what will very likely end up being an excellent movie.

Take everything I said here with a grain of salt, as nearly all of it is just me being a worrywart more so than a dick-faced hater.

See you at the movies when this one comes out!

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Wolverine – Weapon X: Adamantium Men Review

By now, it should be fairly obvious to most that I’m not much of an X-Men fan.

Like any self-respecting 20-something year old, I loved the ‘ole X-Dudes in the early 90’s, but soon after that, things just got too fucking complicated.

As mentioned previously, I genuinely enjoyed reading the X-Family’s fateful confrontation with Magneto in 1993’s Fatal Attractions story arc, but as soon as the writer’s decided to follow it up with the horrendous bucket of moose cum known as Onslaught, I dropped the X-Men like a ugly-ass fat kid on “Drop a Child On It’s Head Day.”

Well, looky here...

In the years since then, I’ve kept my eye on the X-Men, and I’ve yet to find a reason to hop back into the fray.

I’ve been told Grant Morrison’s run on the series was pretty good.

Oh Xorn/Magneto, how you made me laugh with the dumbfuckery of your storyline...

Too bad I don’t care much for Grant Morrison’s writing.

I’ve also been told that Joss Whedon’s fairly self-contained series, The Astonishing X-Men, was also pretty good.

Next on Extra!: Steel Man and Ghost Girl sex tape scandal!

Too bad I truly stopped giving a fuck long before that series came about.

After I shot myself in the foot by foolishly purchasing the festering ass-polyp known as Messiah Complex, I came to the decision that, until a truly great, must-read story arc comes along for the X-Men, or any of their related books (X-Force, X-Factor, etc.) I’m pretty much done with the ‘muties outside of stories written in the early 90’s or earlier.

Congratulations Messiah Complex! You're not only the worst comic I own, (I seriously want to burn it) you were also single-handedly responsible for turning me against the X-Men!

The X-Men: overpopulated with whiny-ass, juvenile characters, and cursed with a nigh impenetrable continuity…

Despite my general contempt for the X-Men, there’s one character in particular among their ranks that has always struck my fancy.

That character would be the nigh indestructible canuckle-head, Wolverine.

C'mon, you knew this was coming...

I admit it, I’m a Wolverine whore.

Wolverine is one of those characters that appeals to pretty much everyone with a penis.

I have no idea what the fuck I'm looking at...

He’s tough, he’s tenacious, he’s the best at what he does, but more importantly, he carries with him the finest and most desirable traits of the spirit of “the loner.”

Honestly, pick any example of a cowboy/Western hero archetype, and your bound to find an homage to it in most any Wolverine comic.

Clint = Wolverine. When he's written well...

The point is, in a team like the X-Men, Wolverine usually serves as a highlight to the experience, but at the same time, he often comes across as being somewhat subdued.

He’s a raging berserker with fucking savage-ass claws!  How can you expect him to live up to his bad-ass potential in a colorful book for tweens!?

The New Mutants: The Stupidest Fucking Shit EVER.

On his own however, Wolverine is a wonderful character to both read and watch.

Provided the writer and artist are up to standard.

Which brings us to writer Jason Aaron, and penciller Ron Garney’s Weapon X – Adamantium Men story arc.

Simply put, this particular writer/artist duo get Wolverine.

While I genuinely enjoyed Mark Millar’s Enemy of the State and Old Man Logan stories, I’ve always found Millar’s writing to be a little bit too hammy and over-the-top, and these 2 arcs were no different.

I’m not going to lie, much of it felt almost like fan-fiction at times.  Really fucking entertaining fan-fiction, but but fan-fiction nonetheless.

Why is he fighting ninjas again? Oh yeah, 'cause you haole kids fuckin' love ninjas...

What can I say, John Romita Jr. and Steve McNiven’s art can do a lot to get me to buy decently written comics.

Steve McNiven = Automatic Buy.

In a similar vein, though I don’t read Marvel’s Ultimates line, I pick up Damon Lindelof’s Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk trade awhile back, and I found it be a so tongue-in-cheek it almost hurt.

Pictured: THE reason myself and many others bought Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk.

While undeniably entertaining, Lindelof’s story arc was impossible to take as anything more than a joke.

Jason Aaron’s Wolverine is just as enjoyable, if not moreso, than either of the authors mentioned above, but the main difference lies in the quality of the writing.

In short, it’s much better.

The first arc of Jason Aaron’s Wolverine that I ever read, was the brief, but wonderfully straightforward chase storyline, Get Mystique.

Seriously, this was fuckin' awesome.

I was so impressed by Aaron’s writing, and Ron Garney’s brutal and just detailed enough art, that when I heard that the 2 had been installed as the lead writer and artist for the fairly new Weapon X book, I had to check it out.

I was not disappointed.

NOT DISAPPOINTED.

Like Get Mystique before it, Adamantium Men is a storyline told in a gritty, Western-inspired, narration heavy, almost Garth Ennis Punisher-esque style.

I know I've used this before, but goddamnit, it sums up the Punisher so fuckin' well...

Aaron’s Wolverine is a character that says little, but whose thoughts truly read like a man that’s literally been in the shit for a hundred years.

While this gritty style and tone might be a bit overbearing to some, I’ve been reading Punisher-speak most of my life, and as such, I just happen to like it.

Anyway, the basic plot of Adamantium Men surrounds a PMC (Private Military Contractor) that has somehow acquired the old research files of the original Weapon X program.

The very same Weapon X program that birthed Wolverine among many other notable Marvel universe heroes and villains.

YES, that includes Deadpool, yah' fuckin bunch ah' hipster doofuses... DEADPOOL IS NOT THE COOLEST CHARACTER EVER. Get over it!

Wolverine is informed by his former Weapon X buddy, Maverick/Agent Zero, of said situation, which of course results in our hero getting pissed off and deciding to put a stop to the PMC’s plans.

Unfortunately, he discovers quite early on, that the PMC was able to crank out about a dozen or so soldiers with physical capabilities on par with his own, right down to the adamantium skeleton and healing factor.

Pictured: Wolverine turning an anti-healing factor "cancer gun" on it's user.

That last sentence right there, was exactly what baited me into loving this book.

Hell, once I got to this page, I wanted to slap myself for having waited as long as I had to pick up this book:

FUCK YEAH!

Watching Wolverine tangle with a whole squad of guys that do what he does, just as well as he does, was truly inspiring.

While the storyline is fairly standard “man on a mission” fare in that you generally know how things are going to end before you even open the book, the real beauty of this storyline is Ron Garney’s artwork during the action sequences (of which there are many), and Jason Aaron’s interpretation of Wolverine’s thought process.

Pictured: An early fight scene.

My only 2 complaints are:

The story ends well enough, but had it’s biggest climax just a little bit too early (the fight shown in the splash page above).

The Adamantium Men of the title aren’t exactly all that well defined.

Sure we’re told that they’re basically Wolverine clones with laser claws, but we never get any details as to why or how they have laser claws and green eyes.

In short, of all the Wolverine’s I’ve read and seen, I think these guys managed to put together the one that feels most right.

Anyway, this ended up turning into more of an advertisement than an actual review, but whatever.

I really liked Adamantium Men, kind of sad that Ron Garney didn’t continue for the second arc, Insane in the Brain, but you can sure as hell bet that book’s next on my reading list.

Also, in doing Wikipedia searches for this article, I learned that Jason Aaron was the author of the most recent Punisher MAX storyline, which means I’ll be back in Punisher Land a lot sooner than I thought!

Take care everyone, happy reading!

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