Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Iron Fist 101: Part 2

Marvel Premiere 16, (1974)
In the first installment we looked at the first appearance of Iron Fist.  Today we take a look at the next part of his story.  When the first issue left off Iron Fist was still in K’un-Lun.  He had passed all his challenges and would either become immortal or choose death.  So considering where the first left off, it’s odd to see the next issue opening with Iron Fist walking down the street in New York.  We learn that he is in New York to kill someone, but before the story goes any further Iron Fist is lured into an alley where he is attacked by four thugs.  Before the fight they reveal there is a 10,000 dollar bounty on Iron Fist.

During the fight Iron Fist flashes back to his time in K’un-Lun.  He remembers being taken into the city where he is introduced to Yu-Ti.  The so called August Personage of Jade tells the young Rand he is welcome in the city and asks him what he desires.  Danny tells him he wants revenge.  Yu-Ti advises that revenge cuts both ways and instead introduces Danny to Lei Kung the Thunderer.  Lei Kung becomes Danny’s trainer in the martial arts.  Years pass as Danny trains.  To prove his training is complete Danny must grab the crown off this rattlesnake that apparently lives on a pole.  No one seems to think it’s odd that a snake is just hanging out and wearing a crown.  Finally Danny is able to grab the crown, but his achievement feels empty.  As he beats the gang in the alley he remembers how Yu-Ti tells him that he with his skills he may be able to claim the power of the Iron Fist.

Danny goes to a temple in K’un-Lun and shouts out a challenge to the dragon, Shou-Lau the Undying.  Shou-Lau’s molten heart has been torn out; only a scar remains where its heart was.  A scar that looks just like a winged dragon, even though Shou-Lau doesn’t have wings; he’s more of a serpent dragon.  Anyway to beat Shou-Lau Danny squeezes the dragon; breaking the mystic link from the creature to its heart, in the process it burns the scar shape into his chest.  That’s right; the Iron Fist symbol is more a branding than a tattoo.  With the dragon defeated he finds the molten heart and plunges his hands into it until they began to glow.  He has become Iron Fist.

Back in the present Iron Fist is attacked again, this time by a lone assailant named Scythe.  Scythe is armed with a sickle that has a ball and chain on the other end.  During this fight Iron Fist flashes back to the cliff hanger from the last issue.  Yu-Ti takes him to the Tree of Immortality.  There he tells him that the portal to Earth will be open tomorrow.  It opens every 10 years.  Iron Fist has to choose between returning to Earth or staying in K’un-Lun.  Iron Fist states that he still wants vengeance on the man that killed his father.  Yu-Ti tries to talk him out of it and reveals that Yu-Ti is Iron Fist’s uncle.  Seriously it’s been 10 years and he never mentioned it to the kid?   You would think that would have come up sooner. So Iron Fist leaves K’un-Lun on a mission to kill Harold Meachum.

With the majority of his backstory finally told, we go back to the fight with Scythe.  This fight follows what will become a common format; in fact we saw it already in the first issue.  Iron Fist is already tired from his first fight.  He was taken unaware in the second and is having a hard time against Scythe.  Finally he concentrates on his Chi, hits the bad guy with his Iron Fist, and wins.  The issue ends with Iron Fist walking off to find the Rand-Meachum building.

Those first two appearances are just dense with information.  The next installments of Iron Fist 101 will finally be able to cover multiple issues.  Yu-Ti and Lei Kung the Thunderer are pretty important characters in Iron Fist.  Lei Kung will be an ally for years to come.  Yu-Ti’s story is going to take a lot more twists and turns as we go but he is always an interesting character.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Grand Theft Ambrose

Youtube user Raven Cyarm mixed a little Grand Theft Auto V with last night's episode of WWE Monday Night Raw to come up with this fantastic video.  It is seriously well done and was put together pretty quickly.  Even if you aren't a wrestling fan, I think it is still worth a watch.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Iron Fist 101: Part 1

Marvel Premiere 15 (1974)
For the first installment of Iron Fist 101 I wanted to cover a few things.  Those early issues, the ones we’re starting with, will have a lot of black and white pictures.  I don’t own the originals; I own the phonebook sized Essential Iron Fist.  When I can find a colored version of the page or panel I want to show off I’ll use it, but there will times I’ll have to use the black and white issues.  These Essential black and white pages also lead into the early Power Man and Iron Fist book which we will be covering.  The last thing I wanted to mention about this before we get started is this project is going to take a long time.  Some times (like today) I’ll talk about a single important issue, other times I’ll cover a few issues.  My Iron Fist library is pretty large and I honestly expect to still be doing Iron Fist 101 this time next year.  With all that said, let me get started at the beginning.

Marvel Premiere was an anthology book that ran for 61 issues.  It introduced new characters or showcased characters that no longer had their own series.  Iron Fist ran in Marvel Premiere from issue 15 until issue 25 when he received his own book.  That first issue is written by Roy Thomas and illustrated by Gil Kane.  It also starts very different, in that the captions read as if you were Iron Fist.  After years and years of reading comics, it was a very jarring change.  That first captions read:

You are Iron Fist.  You stand tensely – too tensely – aware of their eyes on you: Yu-Ti, the Hooded One, and his four Dragon-Kings…
And Facing you, four others edge closer, searching for an opening – a moment of weakness – the careless flickering of an eyelid.
For, this is your Day of Destiny, Iron Fist.  You will eat of the fruit of the Tree of Immortality – or else drink deep of the Elixir of Death--!

That’s a lot to take in.  We have Iron Fist fighting four other people while the hooded Yu-Ti watches on with the Dragon-Kings who wear masks that look to be scaled like a dragon’s skin.  Yu-Ti seriously looks like the hooded Cobra Commander.  Starting in Marvel Premiere 16 Larry Hama will actually take over art duties, so I would think it’s pretty safe to say the origin of Cobra Commander’s hooded design start with Yu-Ti.  Iron Fist defeats the four men easily and at which point Yu-Ti tells him to think about himself before facing the next challenge.  And here is where the flashbacks start.
We learn that ten years ago a nine year old Danny Rand was tracking across the “snow-crusted Asian wastes” with his parents (Wendell and Heather Rand) and his father’s business partner Harold Meachum.  Wendell wants to take them to the city of K’un-Lun.  As they are crossing a ice bridge Danny and Heather fall down to a lower ledge.  Wendell begins rescue his family when Harold betrays him.  Literally digging his boots into Wendell’s hand until the older Rand has to let go and fall to his death.  The book makes sure we see that he bounces off his head in a bloody mess on his way down too. 

Harold wants to save Heather and Danny; in essence he wants to steal Wendell’s family and his half of the company.  Heather is willing to die instead of joining the man who just killed her husband, so the first part of the flashback ends with Meachum leaving them on the ledge.  Iron Fist snaps back to the present to face a giant masked fighter Shu-Hu.  We are told Shu-Hu is “He whose lips are pledged to silence and whose name means lightning…and whose fists are like twin thunder bolts!”  Iron Fist hits on the giant seem to have no effect and Shu-Hu is as fast as he is strong.  As the hero of the book struggles to fight his opponent he returns to his flashback.

Danny and his mother make the climb to safety and then start through the snow.  They don’t know where they are going and find themselves being tracked by a large pack of wolves.  They finally find a rope bridge and head for it.  Halfway across Heather realizes that the wolves will overtake them soon.  She sends Danny further across while she charges the wolves.  Moments later a mysterious group of archers show up and shoot the wolves, it is too late for his mother.  At the age of nine Danny has seen his father’s head cracked open on an icy mountain and his mother eaten by wolves.  Take that Batman.

Back to his challenge, Shu-Hu shoots a dagger out of his palm and hits Iron Fist in the shoulder.  The thought of his parents drives Danny into a rage and he begins kicking and punching Shu-Hu.  Finally he focuses his chi into his hand until it becomes “like unto a thing of iron.”  This punch takes off Shu-Hu’s head and reveals that his opponent was actually a robot.  Iron Fist stands triumphant and we are told that he will now have to choose between immortality and death.  We have to wait until the next issue for that though because that announcement is where Iron Fist’s first issue wraps up.

A lot happens in the first issue.  There are crazy names, crazy masks, a super dark origin story, and a robot.  One of the other interesting things in his issue is that in about half of the panels you can see Iron Fist’s eyes when he is wearing his mask.  Check back next week for part two of Iron Fist 101.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

NHL 16

In a completely unsurprising move, EA has announced that they will be releasing NHL 16.  The yearly series angered long term fans with the first release on the next gen systems.  There were a lot of features that were expected in the series that 15 cut.  The announcement that was just made today has a long list of new features or updates to existing ones.  Here are the ones that stuck out for me.

Be a Pro.  There are some big changes to this mode.  Your rookie can now start in the CHL and work your way up to the NHL.  In addition to that, you’ll no longer be putting points into your attributes.  Instead the game will keep track of how you play and reward you accordingly.  You will also be able to sim shifts that your player isn’t on, which will make games go much quicker.

6 v 6 Online play.  There isn’t much to say about this one, 12 people all playing one online hockey game.

Distinct Team Arena Atmosphere.  The game is adding team specific celebrations, mascots, chants, and even signature props to the game.  Consider 15 didn’t even animate hats on the ice during a hatrick this is a nice improvement.  I hope that will get some octopi on the ice in Detroit.  I’d love to see some arena specific music, but I’m sure that would be a huge pain.

Playoff Beards.  This is the one that is going to get all of the press.  Players supposedly will have accurate beard patterns, length, thickness, and growth rates.  I won’t lie, I love this. 
Finally, since we're talking about hockey...holy fuck Tyler Johnson.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Batman Love Letter

Love Letter is a quick, easy to learn card game.  The premise is simple; all of the cards have a point value and a rule on them.  When the round is over you want to have the card with the highest point value on it.  You start the game with one card, then on your turn to have to draw a card and play one of the two in your hand. The rules printed on the cards are very simple, things like look at another player’s hand.  The game is so quick that even when you’re knocked out for a round it doesn’t take long before you’re playing again.

Because the game is so simple it is open to being licensed all sorts of ways.  I chose the Batman version but there are Hobbit, Adventure Time, and other versions already released or on their way.  Joker is the high value card in the set, so he’s the one you want to end with.  The lowest value card is Batman.  When you play Batman you can earn a point by correctly guessing what card is in someone’s hand.  It knocks them out of the round and you get to feel like the world’s greatest detective.  We had a lot of fun asking each other if we had Poison Ivy.  

You don’t have to go down to your local game store for Batman Love Letter either.  I found it in my local Target.  I don’t know why I was over in that section that has sports and collectable cards, but there it was in its clamshell package.  Target has done a good job keeping some of the more popular board games in stock over the past few years and it was a pleasant surprise to find this one.  The game runs between 9 and 12 dollars depending on what version and where you get it.  If you're looking for something fast and easy I highly recommend it.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Muppets Offical Trailer

ABC is doing a new Muppet show.  They are calling it an adult Muppet show.  I didn't realize the original was only for children.  Regardless I'm excited.  They had me at, "Animal does nudity if tasteful".

One thing I've never cared for in the movies is how Kermit and Piggy are always an item.  It the TV show he was always trying to get away from her.  Anyway, bring on the Electric Mayhem.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Iron Fist 101 Announcement

There are a lot of superhero shows and movies out there and there are more coming.  Due to the  years I’ve sent with a  comicbook in hand I’ve become the person ask when any of my family have questions about these properties.  When you’re mother-in-law texts you because she wants to more about the Inhumans it is a very, very strange day.  I have deep pre-52 DC knowledge and fair Marvel knowledge.   My wife has gotten used to my comic triva knowledge when watching things like Arrow of Flash.  I’ll smirk or giggle at a name or reference in the background and then I’ll have to explain something why the name of Iris’ stuffed turtle is awesome. 

When we spent a weekend binge watching Daredevil I was out of my element.  I knew Daredevil of course.  I had read some of Frank Miller’s run but not all of it.  I knew a lot of his villains because they appeared in other things.  I don’t own any Daredevil comics and I have 1 Daredevil trade paperback (I’ll reveal which TBP later in this update).  So when I had to confess ignorance to some of my wife’s questions I suddenly saw her texting Brandon, the biggest Daredevil fan we know.

The next Netflix show is based on the Alias comic.  While I know of the story, I’m even more in the dark about it than I am Daredevil.  After that is Powerman.  Luke Cage appears in a lot of the comics in my collection but I don’t have any of his solo run.  Finally we get to Iron Fist.  I know a lot about Iron Fist.  Between trades and single issues I have the good, the great, and the horrible Iron Fist stories.  Starting next week Iron Fist 101 will be a regular feature here.  Every update will cover a story arc, handful of one shots, or even a single issue if it is important enough.  It won’t cover a lot of the team book stuff, I just don’t have those.

When Iron Fist debuts on Netflix next year you’ll be ready.  You’ll know your Dragon Kings, Immortal Weapons, and the Thunderer.  Oh, that Daredevil trade I own?  It’s when Matt is in prison and he asks Iron Fist to become Daredevil.  My only Daredevil trade co-stars Iron Fist, we’ll be covering that one too.


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