Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sharing Ted

It’s story time again here at That F’ing Monkey and today I’m talking about Ted.  Not the movie about the bear, but a children’s book from Tony DiTerlizzi.  Tony’s name is associated a lot with the Spiderwick Chronicles now, but when I first discovered his work it was back in the Dungeons and Dragons Monstrous Manual.  His art had this ethereal feel that I was fascinated with.  It wasn’t until White Wolf produced Changeling: The Dreaming that I began really following his work.

When White Wolf first started publishing the Vampire: the Masquerade roleplaying game they stated that they were going to create five systems; Vampire, Werewolf, Wizards, Ghosts, and Fairies.  I remember laughing how silly a fairy book was going to be; when Changeling finally came out (1995) I was blown away.  It was a difficult game to run correctly but it remains my favorite White Wolf game ever created.  Tony’s art stood out in those Changeling books.  His illustrations had an otherworldly grace that helped cement all of the far out concepts the game was throwing at the reader. 

In 2001 I had finished my time in the Air Force and moved back to Florida.  I’m pretty sure I was just checking out a local Barnes and Nobles when I saw that Tony DiTerlizzi was going to be doing a signing at the store.   Excited I returned during the signing to see that it was for a children’s story book.  I don’t think I had noticed what the signing was for when I first saw the notice, I just knew an artist I greatly admired was there and I wanted to meet him.  The signing was for Ted, a book about a child and his imaginary friend.   I grabbed one of the books to get signed, because that’s what you do at book signings. 

There weren’t a lot of people there, I’m sure signings now are a much bigger event for him.  To stay in theme with Ted I remember the people that were with Tony were all wearing birthday hats.  The signing was a party with laughing and just being too loud for a bookstore.  I got my book signed and I gushed to Tony about his Changeling work.  He was incredibly nice to the full grown man without a child, standing in the kid’s section, and getting a child’s books signed for himself.  I was made to feel totally welcome and after a little while I took my new book home.  I was thrilled that he had done a tiny sketch for me and the book was proudly put up on my bookshelf.

Over the years I hadn’t thought much about Ted.  Something this past weekend brought it to mind though.  I think I had a daydream about an old Sidhe character that I missed terribly.  Because in my mind Changeling is forever linked with Tony's images.  I looked at my three year old son and asked him, “How about we read a special book tonight before bed?”  He was excited, he didn’t know what the book was only that it was special.  So that night we read Ted.  I'm happy to say he sat captivated by every page.  So today I just wanted to thank Tony DiTerlizzi.  For all of the years I was able to enjoy his art and now for all the years to come where I can share his art with my son.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Sea of Thieves

E3 starts this week so expect lots of great video game announcements.  This one is for the Xbox exclusive Sea of Thieves from Rare.  The trailer starts off a little slow, but give it some time.

I'm a little disappointed it looks like a MMORPG since I prefer to stick with small groups of people I know in games.  I'm pretty anti-social to be honest.  Part of it is my own paranoia that people will think I'm a bad player and part of it is there are some strange people out there.  I'm still burned by that City of Heroes Guild I was in that imploded.  That's a story for another day, but I assure you it was strange and uncomfortable.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Mariachi El Bronx Wildfires

One of my favorite bands just released a new video.  The new album came out a while ago, but I urge you to give it a listen.  All three of the albums have been stellar and I'm upset that I haven't seen them play live yet.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Iron Fist 101: Part 4

Marvel Premiere 19, 20, 21, and 22 (1974-1975)
Welcome back to Iron Fist 101, when we concluded Part 3 Iron Fist had refused to kill Harold Meachum only to have him killed by a mysterious ninja.  Issue 19 picks up with Danny leaving the Meachum building and reflecting on how he feels bad for Joy Meachum since he knows what it is like to have your father murdered.  As he leaves the building he finds a woman waiting for him.  She quickly gives him hat and coat to throw on over his costume and they jump into a taxi.

That woman is Colleen Wing and this is her Marvel Comic Debut.  Colleen will be very, very important to the Iron Fist series.  She’ll later appear with Misty Knight in other books as the Knightwing Restorations Detective agency or their better known name, the Daughters of the Dragon.   While Iron Fist and Colleen are in the taxi Joy Meachum calls her uncle.  Ward Meachum seems unsurprised that his brother is dead and tells Joy that her father had left instructions on what to do if he was killed.

Colleen explains to Danny that her father, Lee Wing, is a Professor of Oriental studies at Columbia University.  She says he knew Iron Fist would be leaving the Meachum building and that he is in need of help.  As they exit the taxi Iron Fist knock out two assailants that were watching the apartment.  Inside Professor Wing explains those men were assassins from the Cult of Kara-Kai.  The cult has been trying to kill him since on an expedition he found an ancient book that was supposed to have a secret that would destroy the land of K’un-Lin.  He goes on to tell Danny that he heard about him from a dying traveling monk.

Iron Fist still trying to prove his innocence uses Wing’s phone to call Joy Meachum.  She tells him to meet her at an arcade.  After  that she quickly calls her uncle who dispatches a group of assassins who jump Iron Fist.  The ninja shows up in the middle of the fight to help Iron Fist again.  In the end he leaves Danny a newspaper that shows the headline, “Iron Fist sought in Meachum murder.”

Issue 20 opens with Iron Fist fighting more Kara-Kai cultists.  He urges the Professor to go into hiding and then reveals he has to leave so he can prove his innocence to Joy Meachum.  Colleen is very upset to have Danny leaving them already.  Iron Fist sneaks into the Meachum building and into Joy’s office.  She flies into a rage when she sees him but quickly switches to keep him in her office until help arrive.  Uncle Ward has hired more help to take out Iron Fist.  In fact this time he hired Batroc the Leaper!

They have an amazing fight before Danny uses the power of the Iron Fist and sends him flying.  Batroc isn’t alone though and an army of mercenaries appears to take down Iron Fist.  I mean an army too, this isn't a handful of people.  Again the ninja shows up and helps fight off the horde.  They make sure to point out that the ninja is straight up killing people here.  Once they are victorious Danny tries to question the Ninja but he disappears in a puff of smoke, because you know, ninja.  The issue ends with the ninja holding a book and slowly he turns into Professor Wing!

Issue 21 starts with Ward Meachum stiffing Batroc and his men for not killing Iron Fist.  Even back then Batroc got no respect.  Iron Fist returns to Professor Wing’s home to find it completely trashed.  As he looking for Colleen and the Professor he’s stopped by Misty Knight.  Because this is a comic book Misty immediately thinks Iron Fist is the cause of her missing friend and attacks him.  They fight briefly before Iron Fist uses a neck pinch to knock her unconscious.  Suddenly an astral version of the ninja appears and begins leading Danny down a hidden area of the subway that houses the Temple of Kali.

Colleen and the Professor are chained to a giant statue of Kali.  We are introduced to the “Living Goddess” Ushas the Shade and Shaya favored of the Sun.  We find out the book the cult is trying to get is called the Sacred Volume of Kali.  Of course a fight breaks out where we learn that Ushas has a cloak that creates darkness and Shaya has nunchaku that glow like the sun.  The Professor and Colleen are freed during the fight and the ninja appears to help Iron Fist.  One of the cultists is running away with the book when he is hit with a ninja star.  The book falls into a fire pit and is destroyed.  Suddenly the ninja and Professor Wing split.  The ninja reveals that the Dragon Kings imprisoned him in the book.  Now that he was free he could have his revenge on the city of K’un-Lun and he was going to start by killing Iron Fist. 

Issue 22 opens in a giant free for all.  Iron Fist and the ninja are still fighting each other and the Cult of Kara-Kai.  It becomes even crazier when the police appear.  The ninja confesses to the murder of Meachum, saying he revels in murder.  He then uses his ninja powers to teleport him and Iron Fist into another dimension.  The two begin to fight and the ninja drops his back story. 

Ninja was a master samurai who was cast out because of his cruelty.  He trained to become a ninja under Master Khan.  Ninja was introduced to the Book of Many Things, now known as the Sacred Volume of Kali.  It talked about the warriors or K’un-Lun, brave warriors who would pose a threat to Master Khan’s plans.  Ninja used the book to travel to K’un-Lun and attack.  Ninja cut through the surprised people of K’un-Lun until he was defeated by Lei-Kung the Thunderer.  Ninja’s soul was ripped from his body and imprisoned in the Book of Many Things.  The book passed many hands through the ages until Professor Wing found it.  Ninja possessed the Professor and kept Iron Fist alive because he believed Iron Fist would somehow free him of his prison. 

Danny uses the power of the Iron Fist to hit Ninja’s glowing sword and the explosion knocks him back into the Temple.  The Professor tells Danny the police handled the rest of the cultist and that Iron Fist is being cleared of Meachum’s murder.  Iron Fist laments that so much of his life has been focused on revenge and now he doesn’t know what to do.  The Wings advise him to stop worrying about Iron Fist and learn who Danny Rand is. 

A lot happens in those four issues, but I felt they were all part of the same story.  Issue 22 really wraps up that arc.  What I find interesting is that it seemed like the writers were moving towards a Danny and Colleen relationship.  Not only will that not happen, their friendship will be taking some pretty strange twists and turns.  Speaking of Colleen, it should be noted that she is of Japanese descent.  A lot of current artists seem to forget that and she ends up looking Caucasian.  There is lots more Iron Fist 101 to come, we haven’t even gotten to his first solo series yet!

19: Writer Doug Moench, Penciler Larry Hama, Inker Dick Giordano, Colorist Jan Brunner, Letterer Ray Holloway.
20: Writer Tony Isabella, Penciler Arvell Jones, Inker Dan Green, Colorist John Drake, Letterer Ray Holloway.
21: Writer Tony Isabella, Penciler Arvell Jones, Inker Vince Colletta, Colorist Stan Goldberg, Letterer Joe Rosen
22: Writer Tony Isabella, Penciler Arvell Jones, Inker Aubrey Bradford, Colorist George Roussos, Letterer Karen Mantlo.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Lego Marvel Avengers

I've played a lot of the Lego video games.  While I'd say that all of them were enjoyable, there were some that were better than others.  I think Marvel's Lego game was the best one.  It had a great open world and an original story that involved a huge cast of characters.  Today we have the trailer for Lego Marvel Avengers which looks to be a way to play through the Avengers movies.

It's still really early, but I can't help but feel let down.  As I stated before, the first Marvel Lego game was like a love letter to the Marvel Universe.  There were characters all across the Marvel Licensed properties.  The X-Men were in it.  Spiderman was in it.  The Fantastic Four was in it.  Ghost Rider, Blade, and Daredevil were all in it.  This announcement just looks a retread of the Cinematic Marvel Universe, which is much less appealing.  I hope I'm proven wrong when more details come out.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Marvel Toddler Shirt

I've been reading about how Marvel has been doing everything they can to keep from advertising the characters that they don't have the movie rights to.  It seems like a ridiculous theory, but when you see merchandise where X-Men and Fantastic Four characters have been removed and replaced with more obscure ones that is pretty telling.  There was once a period of time where every piece of Marvel merchandise had Wolverine on it.

Even know that I was surprised when I found this shirt while shopping for my son.  Sure it has Captain America, Iron Man, Spiderman, Thor, and the Hulk on it.  But check out Nova, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage.  To be fair those characters were in the Ultimate Spiderman Cartoon, but that show wasn't using that look for Cage.  Another fun fact about the shirt is the color black is a fuzzy felt material, so Luke Cage's hair is glorious!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Misty Knight Action Figure

In the coming weeks of Iron Fist 101 we’re going to talk about Misty Knight.  The character is very important to Iron Fist stories so she’s always been a favorite of mine.  I never expected to see her in action figure form.  I’m beyond happy that she is going to be in the newest Spider-Man Infinite Legends Series.  She certainly deserves a figure; she’s been in Iron Fist, Daughters of the Dragon, and Heroes for Hire.  The character has been around for years. 

Misty comes with a pistol, her glorious hair, and a torso for the Rhino build a figure.  I’m surprised they used a design that covers up her bionic arm but at least the right hand gives it away.  The rest of this wave is pretty amazing too.  White Tiger gets her first figure.  There is a great Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider and a really mean looking Kraven figure.  On top of that it also contains the Scarlett Spider.  I’d add something snarky about Spiderman in a hoodie but for some reason I can’t explain I’m really fond of that costume.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Iron Fist 101: Part 3

Marvel Premiere 17 and 18 (1974)
As of the second issue we know that Danny Rand has just left K’un-Lun, a mystical city that only appears on Earth every 10 years.  He spent the last 10 years training in various martial arts forms and fought a dragon to gain the power of the Iron Fist.  He left behind immortality and a life in K’un-Lun so he could seek vengeance on Harold Meachum; the man who killed his father and left him and his mother to die.  Issues 17 and 18 will follow Danny on his path to vengeance. 

It’s also important to point out that the creative team has changed again in these issues.  We started with Roy Thomas and Gil Kane, then went to Len Wein and Larry Hama, and now we are at Doug Moench and Larry Hama.  This team only lasts three issues before we get another change.  It’ll change another time before we finally get to Iron Fist’s self titled book.  I’ve done a poor job listing all the credits so far, so I will include them at the bottom of this installment and edit them into the first two.

Issue 17 begins with Iron Fist, in full costume, walking into the Meachum Industries building.  He gets a lot of stares as he goes through the lobby.  He quickly finds an elevator and goes to the top floor.  As he enters the lobby spikes pop out from the walls and come rushing for him.  He smashes the spikes away and leaps to safety, except pylon mounted machine guns emerge from the floor.  He quickly takes care of the guns and heads for Harold Meachum’s office.  When he opens the door all he finds are stairs leading up.  That door is trapped with “recessed nozzles” that “spurt coruscating ribbons of destructive energy”.  Iron Fist smashes through the controls on the side of the door and heads up the stairs.  Halfway up the stairs they explode, because of course they do. 

The stairs lead to another hallway.  At the end of this hall Iron Fist sees three guys in suits just hanging out.  Iron Fist tries to play cool and is going to walk past them when they pull revolvers and start shooting.  Iron Fist makes quick work of them and continues on only to find himself locked in a room that starts spraying acid on him.  He goes to the far door expecting a trap and isn’t disappointed when he finds that it opens to open air, if he had run through the door we would have plummeted to his death on the streets below.  He climbs up the building and smashes a window on the next level.  Here he climbs into what appears to be a living room.  At this point there is a ninja hiding behind the table.  This is super important for next issue.

Anyway the living room floor tries to dump him into a pit.  Iron Fist manages to catch the edge and pull himself up when a door opens and a starving wolf attacks him.  He beats the wolf and heads into the elevator.  The elevator tries to gas him, but he punches through the top of it.  He climbs the elevator in time to see another elevator rapidly descending and threatening to crush him.  He jumps from that into a hallway where the janitor ends up being a katana wielding warrior.  Now he’s at a door with Meachum’s name on it and a large camera above it.  The camera turns out to be a laser and is about to hit Iron Fist when the ninja from before hits it with a throwing star.  The ninja disappears before Iron Fist can say anything because that’s what ninjas do.  Iron Fist goes into the next room where Triple –Iron is waiting for him.

Issue 18 gives us a better look at Triple-Iron.  He’s a giant of a man wearing a mechanical suit, standing in a mechanical room, and uses a three sectional staff.  The room powers Triple-Iron’s suit but also traps him there, he explains his only way to escape is kill Iron Fist.  As they fight the ninja shows up again and this time uses a throwing star to point out a hidden door.  Iron Fist uses the door and moves into the room that powers the mechanical one.  Using some severed power cables Iron Fist short circuit’s Triple-Iron and leaves him unconscious. 

Finally Danny enters the office of Harold Meachum and finds a man in a wheel chair with no legs.  Meachum goes on to explain that he loved Danny’s mother.  But when she rejected him he began his trek home.  He was caught in an avalanche and rescued by some local villagers, but he lost both of his legs to exposure.  While recovering a wandering monk told the story of how he visited K’un-Lun.  The monk told the story of the young boy who seemed driven in his training, who the others thought would one day become Iron Fist.  Meachum knew Danny was doing this so he could exact revenge.  Over the next 10 years he went crazy preparing for the day that Iron Fist would come for him.  He asks Iron Fist to kill him.  Instead Danny sees how crazy Meachum has become begins to leave.  Meachum gets a revolver from his desk.  That’s when the ninja appears again.  He hits Meachum with a throwing star, throwing off his aim off which causes the bullet to graze Danny and knock him out.   The ninja then stabs Meachum through the heart.

Danny wakes up and finds Meachum’s body just as his daughter runs in.  She knew her father had become increasingly afraid someone was going to kill him and blames Iron Fist for his death.  He of course claims his innocence but the ninja is nowhere to be found.  As the issue wraps up Iron Fist walks out of the office with Joy Meachum screaming that she will have her vengeance on him. 

Credits: Writer Doug Moench, Penciler Larry Hama, Inker Dick Giordano, Colorist Petra Goldberg, Letterers Artie Simek.


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