Otaku Corner: Cosplay is not Consent Vol 2

Con fool­ish­ness: Full metal wildin’ out at anime panels

Trig­ger warn­ing: This arti­cle con­tains descrip­tions of stalk­ing, intim­i­da­tion and sex­ual assault. Unless oth­er­wise stated, the indi­vid­u­als men­tioned are to be pre­sumed inno­cent until proven guilty in courts of law.

In 2017, the #metoo move­ment made major impacts in var­i­ous areas of soci­ety from pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor occu­pa­tions to var­i­ous forms of enter­tain­ment to empower women. Our geek cul­ture has felt these rever­ber­a­tions in comics, movies and video games. The anime indus­try has also felt this impact recently, but not in a good way. As an anime fan and convention-goer, I have heard sto­ries of non-consensual acts toward women at var­i­ous cons with­out faces of accused indi­vid­u­als being pre­sented. As of 2019, I have found four indi­vid­u­als pub­licly accused of these acts, rang­ing from reg­u­lar con attendee to voice actor. I do not take any plea­sure in pre­sent­ing these indi­vid­u­als, but their actions have placed the anime indus­try in Amer­ica in dire straits.

Matthew Masumi Toy­otome: Accord­ing to Anime News Net­work and Shasta County News Source, the 27-year-old River­side, Calif., cos­player was caught on secu­rity video pour­ing gaso­line on fel­low cos­player Julia Mon­ero Jenk­ins’ car. The result­ing fire engulfed not only her car, but also sev­eral other cars belong­ing to atten­dees attend­ing Anime LA in Jan­u­ary 2019. Upon fur­ther inves­ti­ga­tion by police, it was dis­cov­ered that Toy­otome began stalk­ing Jenk­ins after they stopped doing a YouTube series together and she left a Power Rangers cos­play group that they par­tic­i­pated in. Toy­otome was arrested with­out inci­dent at his home and was held on bail rang­ing from $250,000 to $1 million.

Eric Torg­ersen: ANN’s Lynzee Loveridge reported that the for­mer chair­man of the Atlantic City, N.J., Ani­meNext con­ven­tion was being inves­ti­gated by its board of direc­tors after mul­ti­ple alle­ga­tions of sex­ual harass­ment by female staffers. The alle­ga­tions ranged from inap­pro­pri­ate com­ments and touch­ing, offer­ing alco­holic drinks to under­age staffers, to inci­dents that left irrepara­ble rela­tion­ships with musi­cal guests, which caused neg­a­tive pub­lic­ity for the con­ven­tion. Loveridge’s arti­cle men­tioned that when con­cerns were made, the board of direc­tors gave Torg­ersen a warn­ing to watch his con­duct. Despite the warn­ing, staffers who were inter­viewed stated that Torgersen’s behav­ior con­tin­ued. A staffer known as “A” alleged that they were threat­ened by Torg­ersen to “mind my own busi­ness or I would be sorry.” ANN attempted to con­tact Torg­ersen via Face­book for com­ment but was unable to do so. ANN was able to reach AnimeNext’s cur­rent chair­man of the board of direc­tors Keenan Slo­bodz­ian, who stated that the inter­nal inves­ti­ga­tion was still ongo­ing. Slo­bodz­ian also con­firmed that Torg­ersen was no longer on the board of direc­tors but declined to state if he was still part of Ani­meNext staff.

Ryan Kopf: Known as “the pres­i­dent of anime,” Kopf is the founder/CEO of Animecon.org, an orga­ni­za­tion that runs con­ven­tions in Min­neapo­lis, Chicago and in other Mid­west towns. Recently, staff from Anime Mil­wau­kee banned Kopf from future events after an alleged sex­ual assault that took place at its con in Feb­ru­ary 2018. AMKE staff made a state­ment to ANN that Mil­wau­kee police were called by Hyatt Regency hotel staff per their pro­to­col, which resulted in Kopf and all animecon.org pro­mo­tional mate­r­ial removed from con space and hotel prop­erty. In a state­ment to ANN, Kopf denied the inci­dent stat­ing, “When attend­ing Anime Mil­wau­kee in 2018, I was always in the com­pany of at least one of my staff mem­bers. We were not approached by any­one and we were not asked to leave. The pre­cise nature of these alle­ga­tions remains [sic] unclear to me. I have not done any­thing improper at either of these events, and I fully intend to pur­sue hold­ing account­able those who have con­tin­ued to repeat defam­a­tory state­ments about me.” As of GI press time, Kopf and his orga­ni­za­tion remains, despite calls for his removal from animecon.org and poten­tial guests’ boycotts.



Vic Mignogna: The 56-year-old voice actor, best known for his roles in the Full­metal Alchemist series, Bleach, Dragon Ball Z movie series and RWBY, was accused in Feb­ru­ary 2019 soon after the release of Dragon Ball Super: Broly of inap­pro­pri­ate con­duct toward anime fans in addi­tion to homo­pho­bic behav­ior. Mignogna was also accused by fel­low voice actors Mon­ica Rial and Jamie Marchi of inap­pro­pri­ate behav­ior, which led to many major con­ven­tions can­cel­ing his appear­ances and licens­ing com­pa­nies Funi­ma­tion Enter­tain­ment and Rooster Teeth remov­ing Mignogna from future projects. Accord­ing to Gizmodo’s Beth Elderkin, Mignogna made numer­ous apolo­gies in pub­lic and pri­vate but decided to take legal action against Rial, Marchi and Funi­ma­tion in April 2019. Dur­ing the trial, anime fans drew bat­tle lines for and against Mignogna using hash­tags #Kick­Vic and #Istand­with­Vic. On Sept. 6, 2019, 12 of the charges against Rial, Marchi and Funi­ma­tion were dropped, which lead to Judge John Chupp to order medi­a­tion because of ongo­ing threats made to him and involved par­ties. On Sept. 17, 2019, Chupp dis­missed all remain­ing charges against Rial, Marchi and Funi­ma­tion. On Oct. 24, 2019, Mignogna filed an appeal against dis­missal of his law­suit, which was approved on Decem­ber 11. At GI press time, no fur­ther court date was available.

I have gripes with all four of these indi­vid­u­als, which requires going in order. First, Mr. Toy­otome. What the hell, sir? Your fool­ish­ness not only endan­gered lives, but also damn near destroyed a con­ven­tion that infuses a local econ­omy. You owe those con-goers, orga­niz­ers of said con and your ex-friend numer­ous apolo­gies and resti­tu­tion.
Next, Mr. Torg­ersen and Kopf. You used your posi­tions as con orga­niz­ers to com­mit behav­ior not even the most heinous of geek vil­lains would approve of. Apol­o­gize and leave the con scene, imme­di­ately. Finally, Mr. Mignogna. I can’t find words to say that you fracked up ROYALLY. I fol­lowed your story as it devel­oped to pos­si­bly give the ben­e­fit of doubt, but the calls for you to resign and the court rul­ing sealed it for me. As much as it is painful, I believe that you are blessed enough not to be behind bars. You need to leave the voice artist business.

I apol­o­gize for this long piece but as a fan of all things geek and just, I could not give these indi­vid­u­als quar­ter for their actions. If our fan­dom has toxic behav­ior toward women, WE ALL LOSE. This is why the #metoo and cos­play is not con­sent move­ments still exist as well activists like Sean McGuin­ness, who do excel­lent lec­tures on the con cir­cuit to inform fans. I hope not to make this a reg­u­lar theme for GI, but if need be, so be it. GI folks, now that you know bet­ter, do better.

Bran­don Beatty is edi­tor at large of Gam­ing Insur­rec­tion. He can be reached by email at bran­donb [at] gaminginsurrection.com

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Top 5 on the Strip: Comic book TV edition

1. Spawn — HBO, 1994
If you didn’t read the comics, chances are this was your first expo­sure to the hell-spawned entity Spawn. We’re ignor­ing the ridicu­lous movie in favor of the ani­mated mas­ter­piece fea­tur­ing vocal leg­end Keith David. Spawn was gory and brood­ing and just the right mix for teenagers to learn about the comics legend.

2. Luke Cage — Net­flix, 2016
Per­fect cast­ing made this show what it is, and we’re sad to see it gone. Luke Cage was great in the exe­cu­tion as well and has a phe­nom­e­nal sound­track. GI home­town boy Mike Colter siz­zles in the title role and Alfre Woodard, Theo Rossi and Maher­shala Ali absolutely steal the show every time they’re onscreen.

3. Dare­devil — Net­flix, 2015
Tight writ­ing, bru­tal fight scenes and good cast­ing made this a hit on Net­flix. The first two sea­sons were superb with empha­sis on the cast­ing of Vin­cent D’Onofrio as King­pin. Dare­devil, like all Mar­vel Net­flix shows, has been can­celed, but it’s worth get­ting a sub­scrip­tion just to see the magic of a com­pe­tent Matt Murdock.

4. Arrow — CW, 2012
We must give it to Stephen Amell: He cer­tainly turned Oliver Queen into a cred­i­ble super­hero. Arrow has seen its ups and downs (every­thing post sea­son 4, any­one?), but it’s still a decent story and the early twists and turns are enough to entice you to stick around and invest in the Queen fam­ily and their exploits. Arrow was one of the first suc­cess­ful comic book TV shows and it’s paved the way for oth­ers like it. It has earned its props.

5. Smal­l­ville — CW, 2001
One of the first comic­book shows before the recent craze and takeover of Mar­vel tele­vi­sion, Smal­l­ville had folks talk­ing about Super­man like they were comic book experts. Tom Welling­ton did an excel­lent job por­tray­ing the Man of Steel in his younger years, but the true shout out goes to Michael Rosen­baum as the scene-stealing Lex Luthor.

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Anime Lounge #17: Junjou Romantica 2

Series: Jun­jou Roman­tica 2

Episodes: 1 to 12

Premise: Jun­jou Roman­tica is bro­ken up into three sto­ry­lines: Roman­tica, Ego­ist and Ter­ror­ist. Roman­tica is the story of main cou­ple Mis­aki Taka­hashi and Aki­hiko Usami, who are brought together by Misaki’s older brother, Takahiro, so that Aki­hiko can tutor Mis­aki for col­lege entrance exams. It hap­pens that Takahiro announces at the meet­ing that he is get­ting mar­ried. Aki­hiko and Mis­aki are upset for dif­fer­ent rea­sons: Mis­aki, because it means he is los­ing his brother some­what after the death of his par­ents; Aki­hiko, because he is in love with Takahiro. Romance com­mences, with a reluc­tant Mis­aki along for the ride. Ego­ist focuses on Nowaki Kusama and Hiroki Kamijou’s devel­op­ing rela­tion­ship. Nowaki is con­sid­er­ably younger than Hiroki, who is a clas­sic Japan­ese lit­er­a­ture pro­fes­sor. Thus, their rela­tion­ship cen­ters on their every­day strug­gle to be a cou­ple on equal foot­ing. In Ter­ror­ist, Yo Miyagi and Shi­nobu Takat­suki become reac­quainted after the end of Yo’s mar­riage to Shinobu’s sis­ter. Shi­nobu is in love with Yo, but Yo doesn’t take him seri­ously. The result­ing rela­tion­ship between the two is inter­est­ing and deals with their pasts as brothers-in-law and their age dif­fer­ence. One pro­tag­o­nist in each cou­ple knows of another in another cou­ple. For exam­ple, Aki­hiko was in a rela­tion­ship with Hiroki and Hiroki works with Yo.

Is it worth watch­ing?: Yes. If you love roman­tic sto­ries, this is prob­a­bly for you. A word of cau­tion, though: If you do not like yaoi, do not watch because the series’ rela­tion­ships are all between men. If you are com­fort­able with it, you’ll come to love the char­ac­ters and their rela­tion­ship struggles.

Break­out char­ac­ter: Mis­aki Taka­hashi. He finally starts to come out of shell and become a lit­tle more open in his rela­tion­ship with Aki­hiko. Instead of super shy and awk­ward Mis­aki, he’s a lit­tle more com­fort­able with being in an openly acknowl­edged rela­tion­ship with Akihiko.

Best cou­ple: Mis­aki and Aki­hiko. Despite their weird quirks, and them being the main focus, they are the most endear­ing of the three cou­ples. Hiroki and Nowaki are the most seri­ous, and Yo and Shi­nobu are the most real­is­tic of the three. Mis­aki and Aki­hiko also hap­pen to be the most fun of the three couples.

Where it’s going?: The three cou­ples have issues to work on sep­a­rately, but most impor­tantly, Misaki’s time with Aki­hiko will be com­ing to an end now that he’s approach­ing grad­u­a­tion … or will it?

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Property Review: Avengers Endgame

Photo cour­tesy of IMDB.com

Assem­bled great­ness completed

Avengers: Endgame
Mar­vel Stu­dios, 2019

We’re in the endgame now.” Dr. Strange was and always has been pre­scient about the sit­u­a­tion at hand. Whether it’s his own bat­tles with the likes of Dor­mammu or Shuma Gorath or fac­ing off against Thanos, the Sor­cerer Supreme of Earth is always plan­ning and stark about the real­ity of what­ever hap­pens to be going on. In this instance, in Avengers: Infin­ity War and Avengers: Endgame, Strange was the most grounded and gave the most sober­ing assess­ment of all: The Avengers were going to lose before they won.

Based on Strange’s assess­ment in Infin­ity War, you’d think Endgame would be some bleak tale of revenge and that’s it. Tech­ni­cally, Endgame does begin as that, but it morphs into some­thing more. It’s a tale of loss, hard choices, joy and sur­vival. And, yes, revenge. It’s a do-over on some lev­els also. See, here, the Avengers who sur­vived “the snap­pen­ing” in Infin­ity War have to go on. They’re liv­ing day to day with­out their com­rades, friends, loved ones and mentors/mentees. Life is bleak, with mon­u­ments to those lost when Thanos took out half of the universe’s pop­u­la­tion with a flick of his wrist and a twitch in his gaunt­let. Time has, at once, stood still and moved on for those still around. They’re find­ing ways to cope and that’s the meat of the first third. It’s a bril­liantly decon­structed look at the world in which the Avengers did not win. The vis­ceral raw emo­tion of Avengers cop­ing, and the world at large is beau­ti­ful and simul­ta­ne­ously heart­break­ing. Of all the Avengers, Thor and Hawk­eye are depicted as hav­ing the most pain with Black Widow a close sec­ond. It’s the train wreck that you can’t look away from and feel in your soul.

From that wreck, how­ever, in the sec­ond act rises the phoenix of the Avengers and their allies. The most genius among them — Scott Lang, Hulk and Tony Stark — fig­ure out a way to effect time travel. They engi­neer a way to travel to dif­fer­ent points on their estab­lished time­line to retrieve the Infin­ity stones and bring every­one back. This makes for great com­edy and revis­its of some of the cin­e­matic universe’s most mem­o­rable moments. Pop cul­ture bits (such as America’s Ass for Cap­tain America/America’s sweet­heart Chris Evans and “Hail Hydra,” also for Cap) even make their way in, light­en­ing the mood a bit. But alas, as you make one stride for­ward, there will always be another that takes you back. Hard choices must be made in order to see some gain, or so Mar­vel would have you believe. So, yes, you’re going to say good­bye to some fan favorites and yes, this is sig­ni­fy­ing that their time with the fran­chise is com­ing to an end. How­ever, it’s han­dled well, and it invokes emo­tion so much so that young chil­dren will cry at the thought of los­ing their favorite superhero.

And, for a minute, let the edi­tor just step back and rem­i­nisce about the expe­ri­ence of see­ing the cur­rent crop of Avengers gath­ered together for likely the last time. When there was a piv­otal death, at the most piv­otal moment — yes, THAT death — there was not a dry eye in the house. A young child, no older than 6 prob­a­bly, cried her eyes out. Adults around us, includ­ing the edi­tor, snif­fled and cried as though we had lost a beloved fam­ily mem­ber. THAT is how you do a proper send­off to a beloved char­ac­ter and that is how you wrap up a story, one of redemp­tion and self­less­ness for the char­ac­ter and the actor in real life.

Every beat hit and every note cleanly marked is the hall­mark of these Avengers movies and Endgame was no excep­tion. Threads from the early days were neatly wrapped and char­ac­ter invest­ment paid off for nearly every­one. It was enough that when the lights came back up, the movie received a stand­ing ova­tion and nearly every­one waited for a mid-credits scene that would never come. THAT is how you wrap 11 years and 22 movies into a neat pack­age and remind every­one that you’re the mas­ter of the genre. That is how you thank your fans for tak­ing the time to care and get to know your ensem­ble cast through indi­vid­ual movies and properties.

That’s Mar­vel, baby.

Like the comics?: 6
Cast­ing: 10
Writ­ing: 10

Over­all score: 26 out of 30 or 8.6

We score the prop­er­ties in three cat­e­gories: Cast­ing (or voice act­ing in cases of ani­mated), plot and sim­i­lar­i­ties to its source mate­r­ial. Each cat­e­gory receives points out of the max­i­mum of 10 per cat­e­gory and 30 over­all. The per­cent­age is the final score.

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Strip Talk #27: My predictions for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Avengers: Endgame is out of the­aters. Mar­vel actors have gone on to new projects and “the snap­pen­ing” is now but a dis­tant mem­ory. There’s no more antic­i­pa­tion of the next dread­ful thing from Thanos and whether our favorite super­heroes are com­ing back to life. Now that the hub­bub has died down, let’s take a real­is­tic look at the future of the Mar­vel Cin­e­matic Universe.

We know that cer­tain prop­er­ties have been given solid release dates or at least have been announced. Var­i­ous TV shows — Wan­daVi­sion and Fal­con and the Win­ter Sol­dier — have been announced as in devel­op­ment and com­ing to Dis­ney+. Sev­eral movies includ­ing the highly antic­i­pated Black Pan­ther sequel and the Black Widow stand­alone film have been detailed with release dates as part of the upcom­ing phases. But, while we know pro­jected dates, we don’t know much about the char­ac­ters com­ing and the new vil­lains. This is where the spec­u­la­tion begins.

My takes on the new phases, you ask?

1. I know who the Eter­nals are. They are the next big ensem­ble group com­ing up. My biggest worry is that no one will get them, and they will be com­pared to the pre­vi­ous Avengers even though they aren’t Avengers at all;

2. There will be a new set of Avengers. You saw this con­cept when Civil War hit with the train­ing of new mem­bers such as Fal­con and Scar­let Witch. Though Endgame went with Fal­con as the new Cap­tain Amer­ica — bypass­ing the Win­ter Soldier’s time with the shield — Bucky will get his chance to wield the vibra­nium. Also, Cap­tain Mar­vel will join and there will be another Iron Man or Iron Per­son, if they’re fol­low­ing the comics;

3. Steve Rogers will find a way to come back. Given that the char­ac­ter has been killed at least once in the comics and returned — after con­sid­er­able back­lash — there must be some form of Steve Rogers some­how. I give it a few years before they throw a boat­load of cash at fan favorite Chris Evans to come back and reprise our favorite souped-up star-spangled patriot.

4. Black Pan­ther 2 will make just as much money as the first movie, if not more. As a black comic book fan, I know I con­tributed about $200 of its ini­tial run. I went to see it no less than five times and bought it on DVD. I don’t do that with most movies. Black Pan­ther is the excep­tion to that rule. I intend to con­tribute fur­ther to one of the best super­hero ori­gin sto­ries I have ever seen. Buy black y’all;

5. The next big vil­lain of the MCU will be Galac­tus. He is the only other over­ar­ch­ing vil­lain that I can think of that would threaten the Mar­vel uni­verse on the cos­mic scale. This, of course, would mean Sil­ver Surfer would have to be intro­duced as well as the Fan­tas­tic Four. Given that the Fan­tas­tic Four’s reboot didn’t do so hot recently, it’s a long­shot for them. But they’re needed to pull off Sil­ver Surfer, kind of;

6. The X-Men will get pulled back to promi­nence. Now that Dis­ney owns 20th Cen­tury Fox, guess who can come back to the Mar­vel uni­verse and be done cor­rectly? Our favorite mutants will enjoy the ben­e­fits of tight writ­ing and smart cast­ing. There will be abun­dant Patrick Stew­art and Ian McK­ellen to go around and ori­gin sto­ries will be won­der­ful and plen­ti­ful, filled with accu­racy and cor­rect mutant pow­ers; and,

7. With the X-Men does come a pow­er­ful vil­lain­ous duo, who have been fea­tured in some of the ver­sus games: Apoc­a­lypse and Onslaught. These two are pow­er­ful enough on a cos­mic scale (beyond an Omega-level mutant) to wreak appro­pri­ate havoc and cause mass wide­spread destruc­tion, much like Thanos did. It remains to be seen who will emerge from that core, but if the X-Men come so does Mag­neto, who you need to cre­ate Onslaught. Both char­ac­ters are a men­ace, not just to the X-Men but to all the Mar­vel universe.

So, with my pre­dic­tions cast, I’m watch­ing any Mar­vel cast­ing news to see if any of these come true imme­di­ately. For the long-term, we’ll just have to see how this goes and if Mar­vel fol­lows the same pat­tern that it did with intro­duc­ing Thanos in the first ensem­ble movie and then using sub­se­quent char­ac­ter sequels to build up to his main plan.
If you can’t tell eas­ily, I’m excited as a true believer.

Lyn­d­sey Hicks is editor-in-chief of Gam­ing Insur­rec­tion. She can be reached by email at lyn­d­seyh [at] gaminginsurrection.com

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Character highlight #25: Thanos

Name: Thanos

Alias: The Mad Titan

Affil­i­a­tion: Infin­ity Watch, Black Order

Spe­cial abil­i­ties: Super­hu­man strength, speed, sta­mina, dura­bil­ity, agility and longevity. Thanos is a genius-level tac­ti­cian capa­ble of telekine­sis and telepa­thy, can sur­vive indef­i­nitely with­out food or water and is immune to all ter­res­trial dis­eases and death from old age. The Eter­nal can also project plasma energy.

Back­ground: Thanos was born on the Jupiter moon Titan to Eter­nals A’lars and Sui-San. He quickly devel­oped a taste for death, intensely falling in love with Mis­tress Death, the phys­i­cal embod­i­ment of death. To impress Mis­tress Death, he killed his many chil­dren and aug­mented his strength and pow­ers. He also kills mil­lions of fel­low Eter­nals on Titan and trav­els to find the Cos­mic Cube. He suc­ceeds, wills him­self to become omnipo­tent and allies with Adam War­lock. After betray­ing War­lock, he man­ages to acquire the Infin­ity Gems to cre­ate a weapon to destroy a star. He loses the gems, but regains them, using them to erase half the pop­u­la­tion of the uni­verse to prove his undy­ing love to Mis­tress Death. These actions are undone by Neb­ula and War­lock even­tu­ally, and Thanos later joins Infin­ity Watch as a path to redemption.

Rela­tion­ships: A’lars (father), Sui-San (mother), Eros (brother), Mis­tress Death (eter­nal com­pan­ion), many chil­dren includ­ing Gamora (adopted daugh­ter), Neb­ula (adopted daughter)

First Ver­sus appear­ance: Mar­vel Super Heroes

Appear­ances in other media:
Tele­vi­sion: Sil­ver Surfer (ani­mated), The Super Hero Squad Show (ani­mated), Avengers Assem­ble (ani­mated), Guardians of the Galaxy (ani­mated), LEGO Mar­vel Super Heroes – Guardians of the Galaxy: The Thanos Threat (ani­mated), LEGO Mar­vel Super Heroes – Black Pan­ther: Trou­ble in Wakanda (animated)

Film: The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol­ume 1, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Avengers: Infin­ity War, Avengers: Endgame

Video games: Mar­vel Super Heroes, Mar­vel vs. Cap­com 2, LEGO Mar­vel Super Heroes, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, Mar­vel Future Fight, Mar­vel: Con­test of Cham­pi­ons, Mar­vel Puz­zle Quest, Guardians of the Galaxy: The Tell­tale Series, Mar­vel vs. Cap­com: Infi­nite, Fort­nite Bat­tle Royale, Lego Mar­vel Super Heroes 2, Spider-Man Unlim­ited, Mar­vel Pow­ers United VR, Mar­vel Ulti­mate Alliance 3: The Black Order

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Top 5 on the Strip: Avengers Edition part 1

Steve Rogers/Captain Amer­ica: If you ever needed a leader and wanted to make sure your every direc­tive was fol­lowed, you employ Steve Rogers to get the job done. Rogers was the first Avenger and the last Avenger and the team’s heart and soul (and mom), no mat­ter the roster.

Bruce Banner/The Hulk: Bruce Ban­ner brings not only his vast genius intel­lect to the fight, but also his green angry alter ego Hulk, who is equal parts mad as he is cun­ning and destruc­tive. The mad­der Hulk gets, the bet­ter the out­come for the Avengers.

Tony Stark/Iron Man: Much like Ban­ner, Tony Stark brings his intel­lect to the fight and usu­ally other toys to ensure that the Avengers will win. Beyond that, Stark pro­vides a place for the Avengers to stay and upgrades for every team mem­ber. Think of him as the dad of the team as well as the brains of the organization.

Luke Cage: Now that Net­flix has brought some of the more back­ground Mar­vel char­ac­ters to the fore­front with excel­lent (but can­celed) TV shows, Luke Cage has a spot­light on him that show­cases his invalu­able con­tri­bu­tions. Cage is vir­tu­ally inde­struc­tible with super strength to match. The Hero for Hire hasn’t joined the Avengers in the Mar­vel Cin­e­matic Uni­verse just yet, but know that when he does, it will be worth the wait.

John Walker/U.S. Agent: An alter­nate ver­sion of Cap­tain Amer­ica, U.S. Agent is a bad dude. Receiv­ing his super strength from the Power Bro­ker, John Walker has gone against Cap­tain Amer­ica and won as well as joined the Avengers and its deriv­a­tives such as Nor­man Osborne’s Dark Avengers. Walker once worked for the Com­mis­sion on Super Human Activ­i­ties and has taken up the Cap­tain Amer­ica man­tle in the past.

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Character Highlight #24: Iron Man

Name: Anthony Edward “Tony” Stark

Alias: Iron Man, Golden Glad­i­a­tor, Bullet-Head, Golden Avenger, Armored Avenger, Spare Parts Man, Crim­son Dynamo, Tet­su­jin, Hogan Potts, Anthony of York, Ran­dall Pierce, Cobalt Man, Man of Iron, Tin Man, “Irene,” Elec­tro, T, Mas­ter of Machines, Space-Knight, Richard Franco, Mar­tini, “Iron Pig” (Source: Mar­vel Data­base)

Affil­i­a­tion: The Avengers, Stark Indus­tries, S.H.I.E.L.D., Stark Unlim­ited, Red Team, Avengers (Heroes Reborn), Illu­mi­nati, Axis, Stark Resilient, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ini­tia­tive (leader), Pro-Registration Super­hero Unit (leader), New Avengers, Mighty Avengers, Hell­fire Club, Stark Solu­tions, Force Works, Avengers West Coast, United States Depart­ment of Defense, the Mighty, Knights of the Atomic Round Table, Alco­holics Anony­mous, Dam­age Con­trol, Impe­rio Tech­works (Source: Mar­vel Data­base)

Spe­cial abil­i­ties: Super genius-level intel­lect, which has allowed Stark to amass mul­ti­ple PhDs in physics and engi­neer­ing. Stark is a mas­ter engi­neer, an expert at tac­ti­cal analy­sis and busi­ness decision-making, and is skilled in hand-to-hand combat.

Back­ground: Adopted by indus­tri­al­ist Howard Stark and wife Maria, Tony Stark started life as the child of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who gave him up as an infant. Tony lived life as a loner, going to board­ing school and then on to the Mass­a­chu­setts Insti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, where he eas­ily topped his class and grad­u­ated vale­dic­to­rian at 17. With the death of his par­ents at 21, Stark took over fam­ily busi­ness and pushed the com­pany to new heights.

While demon­strat­ing arma­ments on a trip abroad to Afghanistan, Stark was cap­tured and crit­i­cally injured by a ter­ror­ist. Tak­ing advan­tage of his cap­tiv­ity, Stark and another sci­en­tist held at the same time designed an armored suit and pace­maker for Stark to use to escape. Stark was suc­cess­ful, meet­ing Air Force pilot James Rhodes dur­ing this time. Stark made it back to the United States and showed off the tech­nol­ogy for the suit to the pub­lic with­out also reveal­ing his iden­tity in the suit. Stark later joined the Avengers ini­tia­tive after mak­ing the deci­sion to use the suit for the forces of good and was part of the effort to locate Steve Rogers, who was still frozen in ice after World War II.

Rela­tion­ships: Howard Anthony Stark (adop­tive father), Maria Stark (adop­tive mother), Pep­per Potts (love inter­est, sec­re­tary), “Happy” Hogan (friend), James Rhodes (War Machine, friend), Amanda Arm­strong (bio­log­i­cal mother), Jude (bio­log­i­cal father)

First Ver­sus appear­ance: Mar­vel Super Heroes

Appear­ances in other media:

Tele­vi­sion: The Mar­vel Super Heroes, Spider-Man and His Amaz­ing Friends, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Fan­tas­tic Four, Spider-Man (1990s ani­mated), The Incred­i­ble Hulk, The Avengers: United They Stand, Iron Man: Armored Adven­tures, Fan­tas­tic Four: World’s Great­est Heroes, The Super Hero Squad Show, The Avengers: Earth’s Might­i­est Heroes, Mar­vel Anime: X-Men, Mar­vel Anime: Iron Man, Ulti­mate Spider-Man, Lego Mar­vel Super Heroes: Max­i­mum Over­load, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., Phineas and Ferb: Mis­sion Mar­vel, Avengers Assem­ble, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Mar­vel Disk Wars: The Avengers, Lego Mar­vel Super Heroes: Avengers Reassem­bled, Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel’s Spider-Man

Live-action film: Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Cap­tain Amer­ica: Civil War, Spider-Man: Home­com­ing, Avengers: Infin­ity War, Avengers: Endgame, The Incred­i­ble Hulk, The Consultant

Ani­ma­tion: Ulti­mate Avengers, Ulti­mate Avengers 2, The Invin­ci­ble Iron Man, Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomor­row, Planet Hulk, Iron Man: Rise of Tech­novore, Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United, Iron Man & Cap­tain Amer­ica: Heroes United, Avengers Con­fi­den­tial: Black Widow & Pun­isher, Mar­vel Super Hero Adven­tures: Frost Fight, Lego Mar­vel Super Heroes – Black Pan­ther: Trou­ble in Wakanda, Ralph Breaks the Internet

Video games: Cap­tain Amer­ica and the Avengers, Mar­vel Super Heroes in War of the Gems, Mar­vel Super Heroes, Mar­vel vs. Cap­com 2: New Age of Heroes, Mar­vel vs. Cap­com 3: Fate of Two Worlds, Avengers in Galac­tic Storm, Iron Man and X-O Manowar in Heavy Metal, The Invin­ci­ble Iron Man, Tony Hawk’s Under­ground, Pun­isher, X-Men Leg­ends II: Rise of Apoc­a­lypse, Mar­vel Neme­sis: Rise of the Imper­fects, Mar­vel: Ulti­mate Alliance, Iron Man, The Incred­i­ble Hulk, Mar­vel: Ulti­mate Alliance 2, Mar­vel Super Hero Squad, Mar­vel Super Hero Squad 2, Iron Man 2, Iron Man pin­ball, Ulti­mate Mar­vel vs. Cap­com 3, Lit­tleBig­Planet, Mar­vel Super Hero Squad Online, Mar­vel Super Hero Squad: Comic Com­bat, Mar­vel: Avengers Alliance, Mar­vel Avengers: Bat­tle for Earth, Mar­vel Heroes, Lego Mar­vel Super Heroes, Lego Marvel’s Avengers, Mar­vel Avengers Alliance Tac­tics, Mar­vel: Con­test of Cham­pi­ons, Dis­ney Infin­ity: Mar­vel Super Heroes, Mar­vel: Future Fight, Mar­vel Avengers Acad­emy, Avengers: Infin­ity War, Mar­vel vs. Cap­com: Infinite

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Property review: Black Panther

Mar­vel Stu­dios, 2018

Black, powerful,beautiful

See­ing your peo­ple rep­re­sented on the sil­ver screen when you are a per­son of color means quite a bit. See­ing them do impor­tant things and be decent human beings means quite a bit more. See­ing them as roy­alty and enjoy­ing pros­per­ity means everything.

Writ­ten well and superbly acted, Black Pan­ther has the dif­fi­cult job of being a lot of things to a lot of peo­ple and it suc­ceeds. Even with the heavy top­ics of race and what it means to be black in the world, there are light moments. Black Pan­ther isn’t with­out humor and it’s deftly mixed in with the right bal­ance. How it achieved this bal­ance is impor­tant because it has quite a few sto­ries to tell in a short amount of time.

When Black Pan­ther was announced, the most we knew about T’Challa was from the comics: He was the ruler of Wakanda — a pros­per­ous black nation in Africa that was hid­den from the rest of the world — and that he was mar­ried to Storm of the X-Men. Also, he was on a quest of revenge for the death of his father T’Chaka, which occurred in Cap­tain Amer­ica: Civil War. That’s about it. But then some­thing won­der­ous hap­pened: Mar­vel started talk­ing about T’Challa’s ori­gin story and why it was impor­tant to get it out there. And that push began one of the great­est runs ever for a comic book property.

Black Pan­ther is so lay­ered with dif­fer­ent con­cepts that it’s hard to not go down the rab­bit hole too deep. Black Pan­ther starts out with the re-introduction of T’Challa some months after the death of T’Chaka and T’Challa’s ascent to the throne of Wakanda. In swift order we are intro­duced to Okoye, Shuri and the advanced nature of Wakanda, thanks to the infi­nite sup­ply of vibra­nium. T’Challa’s day-to-day strug­gle to rule Wakanda along­side its other clans, keep the nation safe from the out­side world and get involved in the world’s affairs is just one of the lay­ers and that’s swiftly peeled back to show that every­thing on the sur­face is just that: Sur­face mate­r­ial for the more press­ing con­cept of just what it means to be black and free.

The intro­duc­tion of Erik Kill­mon­ger is one of the next lay­ers down. Kill­mon­ger rep­re­sents the rest of the black expe­ri­ence: hurt, angry, bit­ter and want­ing some­thing more in life than to be stereo­typed and aban­doned by the world at large. Killmonger’s story is the result of what hap­pens when we as black peo­ple are not uplifted and left at the mercy of an unfor­giv­ing sys­tem of oppres­sion and what hap­pens when we don’t help our own who are down­trod­den and hurt­ing. And though that strug­gle is sim­pli­fied here for the gen­eral masses, it still speaks to the heart of America’s past and present in terms of race.

On a deeper level, there is the con­cept of what it means to be a leader and a man. T’Challa’s devel­op­ment from Civil War to Black Pan­ther is so detailed that it feels like we knew noth­ing about him before Black Pan­ther. And this is the same with the rest of the char­ac­ters: No one is left out of the devel­op­ment process and every character’s moti­va­tions are addressed in painstak­ing detail. And with that devel­op­ment comes a wealth of stand­out char­ac­ters. Shuri, Okoye, W’Kabi and Nakia are won­der­ful char­ac­ters that add depth to T’Challa’s life and story. And the true scene-stealing addi­tion is M’Baku, leader of the Jabari tribe. Mak­ing a mem­o­rable entrance early in the film, M’Baku man­ages to strike a defi­ant yet relat­able chord in his quest to have his part of the Wakan­dian pie rec­og­nized for its might and resiliency.

And what a pie Wakanda is. From the open­ing sequence of T’Challa return­ing home from an impor­tant mis­sion to the end­ing sequence show­ing the Wakan­dian sun­set, the nation of free and pros­per­ous black folk is a beauty. Every­thing that we imag­ine the moth­er­land to be in its nat­ural beauty and won­der­ment was and is a sight to behold in the fic­tional nation’s depic­tion. Wakanda is beau­ti­ful, lush and vibrant with an Afrop­unk futur­is­tic vibe that we have only seen glimpses of in the real world through the pages of magazines.

Black Pan­ther meant a lot of things to a lot of peo­ple when it hit the screen. Its sequel is poised to bring the same type of magic as well. With the show put on by direc­tor Ryan Coogler in Black Pan­ther, we can only wish that our return to Wakanda is just as fun and impor­tant as our first go around. Wakanda forever.

How we grade

Act­ing: 10

Story: 10

Like the comics?: 9.5

Over­all grade: 9.8

We score the prop­er­ties in three cat­e­gories: Cast­ing (or voice act­ing in cases of ani­mated), plot and sim­i­lar­i­ties to its source mate­r­ial. Each cat­e­gory receives points out of the max­i­mum of 10 per cat­e­gory and 30 over­all. The per­cent­age is the final score.

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Strip Talk #26: The DC universe could learn some lessons from Marvel

The DC Uni­verse is at a cross­roads I guess you could say. While the Mar­vel Cin­e­matic Uni­verse has enjoyed unpar­al­leled suc­cess, the DCU has all but died an igno­min­ious death. Sui­cide Squad: flop. Bat­man vs. Super­man: flop. Super­man: flop. Jus­tice League: flop. Aside from Won­der Woman, the Dark Knight tril­ogy and Aqua­man, the DCU hasn’t been able to touch the pros­per­ity of the MCU. There are rea­sons for this, but to keep this short, I’ll name just a few.

  1. The direc­tor carousel is too much. There are too many names involved in projects and there are too many of the same names pop­ping up that shouldn’t. Brett Rat­ner. Seri­ously? Zak Penn? Joss Whe­don? With the excep­tion of Penn, all of these direc­tors are prob­lem­atic in their own right, and Rat­ner is an absolute joke who man­aged to some­how screw up X-Men: The Last Stand so ter­ri­bly a whole new movie was done to coun­ter­act it.
  2. Despite hav­ing rec­og­niz­able char­ac­ters, DC doesn’t know what to do with them. Super­man is the most obvi­ous out of them all, mostly because they don’t seem to know how to write Clark Kent and Lois Lane. Bat­man is sec­ond given the num­ber of dif­fer­ent actors to play him. The Green Lantern should have been easy to write, but that flopped a decade ago and they haven’t returned to him since.
  3. Con­sis­tency isn’t in DC’s wheel­house. All of their movies suf­fer from some type of incon­sis­tency, whether it’s writ­ing the over­all plot or char­ac­ter moti­va­tion. DCU can­not seem to get it together when it comes to estab­lish­ing and stay­ing with a char­ac­ter over the course of more than one movie.

With the myr­iad issues sur­round­ing the DC Uni­verse, it’s a won­der there are films in the pipeline, but there are. Shazam is shap­ing up, there will be a sequel to Won­der Woman and Aqua­man per­formed rea­son­ably well to prob­a­bly war­rant a sequel as well. How­ever, there have been other down­turns: Henry Cav­ill is out as Super­man as is Ben Affleck as Bat­man. Jared Leto’s Joker was panned but Joaquin Phoenix may be able to res­cue the character.

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but I’m implor­ing the DC Uni­verse lore­hold­ers to take notes on Marvel’s Phase Three and pay atten­tion to how a comic book film should be done. It’s made Mar­vel buck­ets of money over the past 10 years. Obvi­ously, some­one over there has cre­ated the Super Sol­dier Serum of Movie Suc­cess and suc­ceeded in per­fect­ing it.

Lyn­d­sey Hicks is editor-in-chief of Gam­ing Insur­rec­tion. She can be reached by email at lyndseyh@gaminginsurrection.com

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