Monthly Archives: July 2013

Captain America: The Bloodstone Hunt

This past week I decided to do some light reading, Captain America style.  Off I went to my local comic store (4th World Comics- if you’re ever on Long Island, check them out. You won’t be sorry) and started to thumb through the library of trade paperbacks they sell when I stumbled upon 2 interesting looking reads- Captain America and The Falcon: Madbomb and Captain America: The Bloodstone Hunt. After several minutes of wandering around deciding which to get, I eventually just ended up snagging both (I knew this was going to happen, but I needed to let myself “decide”) and away I went with my afternoon’s entertainment (though watching my fiancé try to assemble a bookshelf was plenty entertaining too).

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I had such fond memories of The Bloodstone Hunt, having been one of the earliest Cap stories I remember reading from my childhood, so I started with that one. Collecting Captain America Vol. 1 #357-364, the book was a much welcomed trip down memory lane. Suddenly I was there in 1989, 7 years old, following Cap on a ridiculous Indiana Jones-style adventure that only the 80’s could have produced. Ritualistic Incas, helpful mummies, a culturally diverse team of villains, and a globe trotting race to collect all seven Dragonbal…er, I mean all 5 Bloodstone fragments- man, the 80’s were great.

Let’s get this out of the way right now- by today’s standards, this book is pretty cheesy. Heck, by 1980’s comic standards it was probably a little cheesy. But hey, sometimes you need a little cheese.

The book begins with the introduction of the story’s main antagonists- Baron Zemo and his hired thugs, Batroc’s Brigade! In fact, Cap doesn’t even appear in the entire first issue (chapter) of the book! Instead we are treated to a plethora or entertaining accents from the wonderfully honorable Batroc the Leaper, the British mercenary Zaran, and the South American revolutionary known as Machete while they carry out their task of retrieving the remains of Ulysses Bloodstone for the ever-villainous Baron Helmut Zemo. Unbeknownst to the rogues, the on-again-off-again criminal Diamondback has followed them on their heist and enlists Cap’s help in an attempt to win over her Star-Spangled object of affection.

That hunt for the crimson fragments takes our heroes (and villains) all over the world and makes for some fun reading, including  plenty of corny dialogue and some out-there plot points (nice Mr. Mummy never did get his shiny rocks back), but writer Mark Gruenwald never steps too far off the path and keeps the characters very true to the way we love them. What’s really fun is that you could see this story being redone with modern story-telling techniques while only having to change very little, and for that I give Gruenwald a lot of credit. Not every comic from the CCA-era could boast that.

The six-part story is definitely the main focus of this book, but as I already stated this trade collects 8 issues of Cap, 357 through 364, so what gives? Well, this story arc has a special place in my heart for another reason. Towards the end of the Bloodstone adventure, we meet a soon-to-be arch-enemy of Cap for the very first time, and I’m a sucker for first appearance stories. The last two issues of this book continue the cliffhanger left at the end of the main story and to me are the real gems in this collection. I mean, what Cap fan doesn’t love Crossbones???

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…And don’t you forget it! Brock’s 1st appearance would definitely not be his last.

That’s right, Crossbones. Good ol’ Brock Rumlow makes his first appearance in the pages of The Bloodstone Hunt, and both Gruenwald and artist Kieron Dwyer make sure he’s gonna stick around for a while. Gruenwald must have been testing how far the CCA (Comic Code Authority) would let him go when he thought up this sadist, and Dwyer built a simple-yet-memorable design that would remain a fan-favorite to this day. These two might not be the first (or even fifth) creative team Cap fans think of, but their contribution to the mythos was a big one.

I think my only real complaint was with the trade paperback itself, and not the story it collected. For some reason, this collection doesn’t include the side-story teased on the cover to issue 357- “Teen Cap Battles the Sisters of Sin”. Marvel, why wouldn’t you include that in this volume? It sounds ridiculous! Oh well, I did get to relive my childhood when I read this book, so I can let it slide. Just don’t let it happen again, Marvel.

So maybe it’s just my personal preference for Rumlow and first appearances, or my never-ending love of nostalgia, but Captain America: The Bloodstone Hunt was definitely a fun read. Was it the greatest Cap story ever? Not by a long shot, but it sure was a wild ride and one I’d recommend again and again.

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Marvel Legends…No More!

Hasbro announced at Comic Con this past weekend that the Marvel Legends line would be discontinued. Due to the ever-rising price of these figures (last time I checked they were nearing $25 a piece) my wallet sighed with relief. And then it screamed in pain as I read that Hasbro would be replacing the Legends line with Re-Branded movie tie-ins, such as Captain America Classics. Over the past few years I had been able to pass up on many of the Legends figures Hasbro produced, but with a line-up including Marvel NOW! Cap, Baron Helmut Zemo, an AIM army builder, and a brand-freakin-new RED SKULL, I’m going to have to get my completest self ready to rumble.

Well played, Hasbro. Well played.

Agent 13 and the Mysterious “Kate”

While searching the internet for info from SDCC this past weekend, I saw a photo posted somewhere that was of a cast list for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. In that photo it had a listing of each of the actors and the character that he or she was playing in the film. Next to Emily Van Camp it had the character name “Kate” listed.

Up to this point I was under the impression that Van Camp would be playing the much anticipated Sharon Carter, also known as SHIELD Agent 13…but Kate? Who the hell is Kate? And what is she doing in my movie?!? Needless to say I was a little pissed. Then, after a short but passionate rant to my fiancé, I continued to read the article which detailed the panel. It explains that Van Kamp referred to her character as “Agent 13” several times, but never once used the name “Sharon” or “Kate”. Perhaps I should have read the entire thing before reacting. Oh well.

All I can do at this point is guess at what this means. I know in the comics when Steve first met Agent 13, he was unaware that she was in fact the niece of his wartime sweetheart, Peggy. He simply knew her as Agent 13, super-freaking-awesome badass SHIELD operative. Now I don’t know much about the details of the new movie, but maybe they are attempting a similar thing here. Could Sharon be using the name “Kate” to disguise her identity from the legendary Super-Soldier? Only time will tell.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier official Teaser Poster

Can’t wait to add this to the collection! Great looking poster that has a bleak overtone, which I feel matches the source material well.

In addition, Marvel Studios has announced that they’ll have plenty of Cap-goodness on Saturday, July 20th, in Hall H at SDCC. Unfortunately I’m unable to attend but I’ll definitely be searching the net for any Cap news I can find!

WW2 Propaganda Poster of the Month- July

1943 America was all about supporting our war efforts overseas, and to that end the government employed various types of propaganda to rally the common citizen into helping. “Helping” usually meant either joining the fight in Europe by enlisting, or, as this poster suggests, conserving resources for military use. This particular example urges people on the homefront to start car-pooling, or joining a “car-sharing club” in an effort to save gasoline to fuel US tanks and planes on the battlefield.

One of the great things about World War 2 propaganda was the “if you’re not helping us, you’re helping the enemy” messages they usually conveyed, and this one does a great job of throwing that in the viewer’s face. Like many of the posters during the middle years of the war, this one specifically mentions Hitler by name rather than just saying “Nazis”, personifying him as the evil enemy and giving people a face to hate. This was in direct contrast to the Nazi propaganda of the time which used Hitler as a heroic icon for young German soldiers to rally behind.

I found this particular poster by Weimer Pursell really interesting because the driver is decked out in some pretty bright colors- specifically the purple and green that was often used in comic books to denote the villain. Granted that color scheme wasn’t really used in that effect until long after the war had ended, and the colors in this poster may have simply been chosen to avoid using the red, white, and blue associated with patriotism, but it really carries the same message here- being an uniformed driver makes you the bad guy.

Let’s talk about that driver for a minute while we’re on the subject. That look on his face can be either ignorance- maybe he doesn’t know Ghost-Hitler is sitting with him, or it could be indifference- he simply doesn’t care. Either way, this poster is trying to tell you that you don’t want to be this guy, and it’s got me so boiled that if I saw a man that even had a passing resemblance to him, I’d knock that Nazi-loving chump into next Tuesday. Clearly this is one poster that’s doing it’s job.

Where’s my Bucky?

Another Captain America post? Yup, get used to it. I love Captain America, and I thought both “The First Avenger” and “The Avengers” were fantastic movies, with “The Winter Soldier” shaping up to be a big win as well. Now for those keeping track, I also love toys, and no one has been doing movie figures quite like Hot Toys has. So it’s natural that I get excited any time news of a new Hot Toys Cap gets announced.

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HOT TOYS CAPTAIN AMERICA “STAR SPANGLED MAN” VERSION

Bam! Consider this guy PSYCHED! But as cool as this news is, it’s got me wishing we could get just a few more figures from “CA:TFA”, and instead of just variations of Cpt. Rogers here (though I still need a standard military uniform Rogers) I started to look at characters from the movie who deserve the Hot Toys treatment, and none of them is more deserving than a certain sidekick-turned-assassin.

SO WHERE IS MY BUCKY?!?

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I mean how could we still not have a this guy yet? Seriously? Steve’s best buddy had a fairly prominent role in the first movie, and…SPOILER ALERT!!!…he’s the titular character in the sequel, “The Winter Soldier”, so how is it we don’t have Cap’s personal sharpshooter yet? I know we’ll get him in his Winter Soldier duds next year, but I want the look he sported in the first movie too, a design that I think was a great interpretation of his classic comic outfit realized in cinematic form. It’s unique enough to be instantly recognizable as James Barnes and would look amazing next to your Hot Toys Cap.

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What do I want to see? Well, for starters I’d love the necessary parts to put him in this pose. Give him an alternate head, a sniper rifle, and the hands to hold it. I’d be one happy soldier. I’d also like to see a standard head and a machine gun, in case you want him to take a more “sidekick” role next to Steve. Oh, and he needs to be able to do this…

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Because that type of epic foreshadowing is badass. So c’mon Hot Toys, it’s not that hard. It would be an instant sell, people would love it, and I’d stop sending you those letters.