Tag Archives: Red Skull

Toy Chest Theater: Raph, Leo, and a Hell of a Crowd!

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The TMNT are back in this second edition of “Toy Chest Theater.” I didn’t necessarily want to do a double dose of Turtle Power. But after seeing this beauty from Jax Navarro at Plastic Action, how could I resist?

I’m a sucker for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie. Almost 30 years later, it’s still my favorite take on the concept. So any toy photographer that can find something creative to do with those NECA figures gets points with me automatically.

But what puts this one over the top is that it’s so beautifully random. The Ninja Turtles playing street ball? Pretty damn cool. But the Ninja Turtles playing street ball in front of such a…wide assortment of characters? Awesomeness, personified in plastic!

What’s more, the way some of the background figures are posed is not only very natural, but very in-character. The best example? Han Solo leaning against the wall with his forearm on C-3PO’s shoulder. Even the way Threepio’s body is leaned looks perfect. Harley looks great too. The combination of her behind Thor is odd, but somehow pleasing.

Also, the detail on the background is incredible. It actually looks like a real place. There’s something about that red lighting. It actually serves as a camouflage of sorts for Spider-Man, Red Skull, Superman, and the other characters Navarro has up on that ledge. I actually missed most of them at first look.

For plenty more from Plastic Action, check Jax Navarro out on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com!

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A Civil War II #5 Review – A “Black Lives Matter” Moment

Civil War II #5, 2016, coverTITLE: Civil War II #5
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
PENCILLER: David Marquez. Cover by Marko Djurdjevic.
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: September 21, 2016

***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

It’s been a bumpy road for Civil War II. Despite its epic scope and game-changing plot points, it’s largely been a big bag of “meh.” And that’s not even getting into the scheduling delays.

Now, five issues in, it looks like things have finally picked up. The end of this book left a knot in my stomach. Despite having already killed off Rhodey and Bruce Banner, this series now finally has that heart-wrenching element that so many event comics strive for.

Thanks Miles Morales, and uh…sorry?

Ulysses, a new inhuman who can apparently see visions of the future, has torn the Marvel heroes apart. In Civil War II #5, they finally come to blows. Captain Marvel, who believes in using Ulysses to stop certain events before they happen, has assembled a group to fight against a team led by Iron Man. Tony Stark vehemently opposes acting on these visions, and questions their credibility. But by the end of the battle Ulysses has yet another vision, in which one of the Marvel Universe’s youngest heroes does the unthinkable. In a story that’s already seen the Bruce Banner murdered by Hawkeye, and Rhodey die in battle, the burning question is: Will Miles Morales be next?

Civil War II #5, 2016, Spider-Man, Captain AmericaThe image at left is our big vision reveal. Miles clutching a dead Captain America in front of a decimated Capitol Building. It may as well be an page from Red Skull’s dream journal. Now all the prior emphasis on Miles makes sense. Bendis and Marquez were planting a seed with a character they both have a lengthy history with. It’s fitting.

Virtually every Marvel book that doesn’t have Star Wars in the title has been effected by Civil War IISpider-Man is no exception. But in the main series Miles has mostly been a background character, albeit one Bendis and Marquez have made sure to keep around. I keep circling back to the two-page spread of Spidey watching the Hawkeye trial verdict on one of the big screens in Times Square. Intentional or not, it brilliantly positioned Miles as someone removed from some of the larger issues that plague more experienced heroes. There’s a certain naivety about him, partially because he’s so young. Those two elements are what set this moment apart from, say, the vision of the Hulk from issue #2.

But lets not kid ourselves. Like its predecessor, Civil War II is trying to be more than just another event comic. Its subtext speaks to the world we live in right now. Civil War speaks to post-9/11 paranoia, and Civil War II speaks to police profiling. It’s not an accident that Miles, a young minority, is shown harming Captain America, a symbol of American justice and values. This entire sequence with the vision and the subsequent arrest of Miles Morales is a Black Lives Matter moment. It’s Marvel looking at what happened with young men like Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

Ms. Marvel, Civil War II #5, 2016It’s one thing to show us characters dying in a story about proactive justice. It’s another thing to really connect it to the real world. This is the emotional punch that Civil War II has been missing. It’s a shame we had to wait this long to feel it.

Ms. Marvel also accentuates the big reveal very well. It feels a little too coincidental that the other teenage minority in the scene just happens to be the one consoling Miles.

Speaking of subtext, Miles has an awesome line during a fight with Venom. As the longtime Spidey villain is taking shots at Miles for not looking or acting quite like Peter Parker, our hero replies with: “Another Spider-Man expert telling me how it should be.” That’s barely even subtext. He may as well be looking up at his critics.

The sad thing is, most of what we see up until the vision sequence is largely forgettable. Marquez, artist Sean Izaakse, and colorist Justin Ponsor give us a very action-posed two-page spread of the heroes about to collide. There’s also a lovely shot of Hawkeye cloaked in shadow as he presumably goes into hiding (shown below). But by comparison, it all seems very generic and business as usual for a superhero epic.

Hawkeye, Civil War II #5, 2016, David MarquezFrom a comic book sales perspective, DC Comics has outpaced Marvel since the start of its Rebirth initiative. I estimate Civil War II is largely to blame for that. Marvel may have banked too much on the success of its predecessor, and additional eyes from Captain America: Civil War. The story has failed to capture imaginations until now. We finally have something to sink our teeth into, but it may be too little too late.

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A Captain America: Steve Rogers #2 Review – What Do You Mean, Hail Hydra???

Captain America: Steve Rogers #2, 2016TITLE: Captain America: Steve Rogers #2
AUTHOR: Nick Spencer
PENCILLER: Jesus Saiz
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: June 29, 2016

***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

See? It’s not so bad. Bet the folks who threatened Nick Spencer’s life over last issue feel pretty silly right about now.

In issue #1, Steve Rogers did the unthinkable. He uttered the words: “Hail Hydra,” seemingly pledging his allegiance to the terrorist organization. But what’s really going on? Has Captain America truly turned to the dark side?

Nope. Not really.

Cap’s sudden change in allegiance can be attributed to Kobik, the sentient embodiment of cosmic cube fragments that has taken the form of a little girl. Just as a cosmic cube can alter reality itself, Kobik has altered Steve Rogers’ memories. In restoring him to his younger self during the Pleasant Hill storyline, Kobik also shifted Steve’s loyalties. And the person guiding Kobe’s actions? Red Skull himself.

Captain America #2, Red SkullSo basically, they went the mind control route. And that’s fine. There’s been some speculation that this issue was somehow changed following the backlash issue #1 got. That’s laughable. This is the story that Spencer wanted to tell, and it’s a story he stands by. As he should. Had he made the Hydra stuff part of Cap’s backstory, as opposed to a lie created by a cosmic cube, he’d have made it work. Was it controversial? Absolutely. Did it strike a nerve with readers? Of course it did. This character stands for something, and means a lot to people. But sometimes stunning revelations like this lead to great stories.

As Spencer himself wrote on his Twitter account: “[The] idea that we should treat a character with kid gloves due to symbolic value is a great way to lose symbolic value.”

Getting more into the issue itself, I love that this has all been Red Skull’s doing. He can’t compromise Cap’s values or integrity by himself, so he literally has to alter reality to do it. It’s perfectly twisted, insidious, and in character. Jesus Saiz also draws a hell of a Red Skull, particularly on the splash page shown above. From an art standpoint, he’s the highlight of the issue. Saiz makes him more expressive than many other artists do.

The events of the Pleasant Hill storyline factor heavily into what we see here. Bluntly, none of the Pleasant Hill stuff caught my interest, so I’m seeing a lot of this information for the first time. Spencer, Saiz, and the team walk you through everything. There’s still a frustrating, perhaps inevitable, disconnect for new readers. But the look back at Red Skull’s deliberate and drawn out plan is satisfying, and a lot of fun.

Red Skull, Captain America Steve Rogers#1,2016, Jesus Saiz

While we now know the truth behind Cap’s sudden allegiance to Hydra, from an in-story perspective, nothing has changed. For all intents and purposes, Captain America has now become an agent of evil. But what happens when his true allies learn what he’s done? What happens when Steve Rogers becomes an enemy of liberty, instead of its champion? We’ve already seen so much controversy. But this is only the beginning.

Images from author’s collection. 

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A Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 Review – Hail Hydra?!?

Captain America #1, 2016TITLE: Captain America #1
AUTHOR: Nick Spencer
PENCILLER: Jesus Saiz
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: May 25, 2016

***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This is the one everybody’s talking about. The one where Cap says “Hail Hydra.” You already know about it. Every fan with internet access knows about it. So why dance around it?

Steve Rogers has had his youth restored and is Captain America once again. He and Sam Wilson now share the title, with Rogers getting a new suit and shield. He’s also got new partners. In addition to Sharon Carter and the crew at S.H.I.E.L.D., Rick Flag and Free Spirit are back in the picture, with Rick Jones backing them up from home base. Our team faces off with a new incarnation of Hydra, and them comes face-to-face with Baron Zemo.

This issue establishes our cast, shows us who the bad guys are, and gets the plot moving. All in all, it’s a pretty standard issue. Until it isn’t.

Steve Rogers- Captain America #1, Hail HydraThe story ends with a serve turn, as Cap shoves Rick Flag out of a plane during their rescue mission against Zemo. It closes with a splash page of Rogers next to the victim saying two words many believe Captain America should never say: “Hail Hydra.”

At face value, this is truly a shock. The incorruptible Captain America is a Hydra agent! Somebody get Jim Ross on the phone. He needs to call this one. “My God, I don’t believe this! Steve Rogers has sold his soul to Satan himself! Someone tell me why!!!”

That’s a sentiment shared by many a reader. Nick Spencer apparently received death threats last week. Apparently some fans are burning copies of the issue.

Alright, let’s all settle down here…

Firstly, remember what we’re reading. It’s a mainstream superhero comic book. Owned by Disney, no less. This Hydra thing is a stunt. In a year or two at most, this all will have blown over. Anybody freaking out THAT much about a comic book, or any seriously needs to find other things to do with their time.

What’s more, things may not be what they seem. The issue shows us that in 1926, Steve’s mother was befriended by a Hydra agent. At the time he’s a little boy. The implication is that Hydra got to him before he was old enough to know what was happening. It’s not as if he willingly turned his back on his country.

Steve Rogers Captain America #1, 2016, Hydra recruitmentWhat’s more, this is only the first chapter. For all we know, Steve knew Flag would be saved somehow, and the Hydra line was part of a ruse of sorts.

But of course, the only way to find out is to come back for issue #2. There’s your real motive right there.

Spencer’s take on Hydra is very compelling. They’re bad guys, obviously. But via a flashback scene with Red Skull, Spencer makes it very plausible that someone from a certain background or facing economic hardships could fall in with this crew. Rarely has Hydra been so…relatable.

Jesus Saiz handles the pencils, inks, and colors all himself here. His best work in the issue are the flashback scenes with Steve, his mother, and the mysterious but kind stranger who invites her into Hydra. Her facial expressions are done particularly well during the first half of the issue, and her 1920s flapper style makes her stand out. The cool blues and deep reds add a nice dramatic flair to things.

I have a question: How old is Sharon Carter supposed to be? I get what they’re going for, with Steve being young again while Sharon continues to age. But Saiz’s depiction of an older Sharon looks, shall we say, unnatural. He seems to be going for someone akin to Michelle Pfieffer or Sharon Stone. But he’s trying too hard, and winds up landing closer to Willem Dafoe. That’s particularly uncomfortable mid-issue when Sharon kisses Steve.

Jesus Saiz, Steve Rogers, Sharon CarterNick Spencer finds himself in a unique position here. We’ve got two Captain America books on the stands right now, each starring a different hero, and he’s writing both of them. So in approaching Steve Rogers, he obviously needed to find a way to clearly differentiate it from the Sam Wilson book. Whether you like the Hydra route or you hate it, you’ve got to admit he succeeded in that sense. He also got people talking about Captain America, and thinking about what the character really stands for. While this issue may be pretty standard up until the big reveal, it still does what very few issues have done over the course of Cap’s run. That makes it a winner, like it or not.

Images from author’s collection.

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