Thursday, April 30, 2015

We, Robots!

Robots have been trying to save and destroy the world for decades. I'm very much looking forward to the latest attempt in the new flick, The Avengers: Age of Ultron. It's hard not to root for Ultron, given that he's fighting Robert Downey Jr.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Secret Of The Crimson Cowl!

"The Crimson Cowl!" That name reverberates in my memory as it was the nom de guerre of one of Mavel's most significant and visceral arch villains. We encounter the Crimson Cowl for the first time in the pages of The Avengers #54 when he meets with Jarvis, the seemingly disloyal butler of the Assemblers. Hidden within dramatic flowing robes, the Crimson Cowl is a figure of mystery and  cruel authority.

At the time he is the leader of a gang of Avengers foes reorganized to seek vengeance against their old foes. Klaw, Whirlwind, Melter, Radioactive Man, and even the Black Knight form the ranks of these "New Masters of Evil".

With such a group of craven but ambitious criminals, the Crimson Cowl is forced to show his strength in the face of attempted revolts within the ranks, as we can see in this encounter with Klaw.

It is seemingly revealed in the Cowl's debut appearance that he is in fact Jarvis himself, using a mere robot to fool the Masters of Evil themselves (and the reader) into thinking their leader was someone else.

But that ruse within a ruse is uncovered in the very next issue when we discover to our dismay that Jarvis was merely a pawn of the real Crimson Cowl, who finally reveals himself to be in reality the robot itself, a robot who calls himself "Ultron-5 The Living Automaton".

Ponder these pages to see that momentous revelation in all its dramatic glory. The Masters of Evil are defeated and the plan of Ultron fails. But soon we learn more.

Ultron-5 is not done with the Avengers. In fact we learn that he was in fact created by one Henry Pym himself, one of the founding members of the Avengers.

Ultron-5 in an act similar to Pym's creates his own artificial life form, dubbing it The Vision and sending it on a mission to infiltrate and destroy the Avengers themselves. Of course that scheme fails.

Even Ultron-5's seeming destruction cannot end his threat.

For soon he returns under the new name of "Ultron-6".

And not contented with that continues to upgrade himself into the "Ultimate Ultron". Ultron is of course defeated by the Avengers, but seems always to return to menace them and the world itself, carrying on the legacy of the mysterious "Crimson Cowl".

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Marvelous Shining Rays!

I'll gladly be corrected, but I think the impressive Ray Stevenson has portrayed more different Marvel characters than any other actor. Chris Evans has a higher profile with Captain America and the Human Torch, but his other comic book turn was in the DC Losers film. Stevenson has become arguably my favorite actor. He stole the movie King Arthur with the impressive and almost completely silent turn as Dagonet and his role in Kill the Irishman as real life labor organizer and gangster Danny Greene makes for a tight action flick with lots of zest and quality.

But it was Frank Castle that he made his bones with me first in Punisher: War Zone. I had little regard for this movie which seemed to be dumped onto the market with little fanfare, but which is to my mind easily the best of the three Punisher movies, at least in terms of accurately presenting the comic character onto the big screen. Stevenson looks the most like Castle of any actor who has portrayed him and the sheer brutal violence of the movie seems like the comic come to life to me. Loved the darkness of his portrayal and the darkness of the city at night. It works spectacularly well and is deserving of more attention.

Then out of the blue he turns up again in glittering Asgard as the most memorable of the Warriors Three, the rotund Volstagg. Admittedly Volstagg, as big as  he is gets lost in the Thor movies. There's just so much happening and too many characters, but he does get some few choice scenes here and there.

I'm glad they didn't make Volstagg a total joke in the movies, as his enormous girth would not have succeeded in this movie. It would've felt like Fat Bastard in the Austin Powers movies.

But I have to say, the most surprisingly entertaining turn Stevenson has had as a Marvel character is as Firefly in the second G.I.Joe movie. Like his role in King Arthur, he almost steals this movie from the moment he shows up with his gimmicks and whatnot.

There's just something totally convincing about Stevenson in these movies. He's big enough to sell the action and he's a damn fine actor well under control in the weirdest settings and scenes.

I can't wait to see what Marvel character he portrays next. Personally I've always wanted to see someone bring Union Jack to the screen, and Stevenson would be great. But I do know that whatever the case, any movie with Stevenson in it, gets my attention.

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