Herb Trimpe, we love you!

This is a 25 minute documentary film about the Marvel Comic book artist Herb Trimpe. This was a film project produced at New York University’s Graduate Institute of film & TV in 1970-71 and was directed by Jon Michael Riley and Doro Bachrach. Sound was by Don Cirillo and cinematography by Eric Reiner. Polly Hacker was production assistant. Herb Trimpe was a young star among comic book artists in the late 60’s (he began at Marvel in April of 1968) and early 1970s. Herb was one of the first, perhaps the first to do the Incredible Hulk comic, as well as a host of other titles for Stan Lee and Marvel. This film highlights Herb’s attitudes about life and work as a comic book artist and is shown with his Peekskill, NY friend, Bob Barthelmes with whom he attended school since kindergarten.

I’m a huge fan of Herb Trimpe and think of him as one of, if not the most iconic Hulk artist. This short film gives a glimpse at the man behind the art along with the adoration that he had earned early on in his career. It’s a delight to watch.

Recommended:

Incredible Herb Trimpe
Essential Incredible Hulk, Vol. 3
Omega: The Unknown Classic TPB
Essential Hulk Volume 2

Marvel Comics Empyre!

It wouldn’t be Summer without a Marvel Comics event. From Avengers Disassembled to Secret Invasion to Dark Reign and more, Marvel has (for better or worse) invigorated their monthly comics with a bombastic event series that brings in all of its characters into one massive story. This year’s story is Empyre.

Via CBR.com

Marvel Comics has announced the new comics and collected editions that will go on sale in July, with the schedule featuring the official launch of the summer blockbuster event, Empyre.

“We couldn’t be more excited to start rolling out new Marvel comics again on a weekly basis, including our long-anticipated cosmic summer event, Empyre!” Marvel Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski said in a statement. “We know Marvel fans are eager to dive back into the Marvel Universe, and we can’t wait to bring you spectacular new stories with stunning art every Wednesday. As anticipation and excitement builds, we’ll continue to keep a balanced release schedule for our comics and trade collections, and starting in mid-July, fans can look forward to even more releases for Marvel’s latest comics!”

Full list of comic releases here:

The Marvel Studios Hulk movie finally on the way

After years of legal wranglings, it appears that Marvel Studios is finally set to release a Hulk solo film. Previously, the problem was that Universal held the rights of first refusal for any solo Hulk film and could decide on whether they wanted to distribute the film. However, all that is in the past as Universal and Disney have entered an agreement similar to the Sony/Disney Spider-Man handshake.

The movie will be set after the events of Avengers: Endgame and center on “Professor Hulk” as he attempts to carve out a life for himself in the new world. He encounters a series of attacks from strange synthetic humanoid creatures. Soon he discovers that he is being attacked by another gamma irradiated being called The Leader.

Played by Woody Harrelson, The Leader will be an intellectual and cunning villain rather than the traditional foe of brawn and muscle. The film will be set on Earth and in The Leader’s satellite base orbiting the Earth.

Rumor is that we will see the Hulk mutate once again into the grey ‘Mr. Fixit’ Hulk as he requires a more devious thought process to defeat his enemy. The movie will also see the return of Liv Tyler as Betsy Ross and William Hurt as General Ross who tries his best to contain the Hulk, a creature he never trusted despite his more passive demeanor.

More as it comes but it seems that fans have finally gotten their wish and we will really see the definitive Marvel Studios Hulk on the big screen.

Oh… and April Fools.

Black Widow trailer

While it certainly took them long enough to get here, a Black Widow film is finally on its way. The martial artist super spy has appeared in several Marvel films but this latest installment will focus on the character for the first time.

Via Polygon:

Marvel Studios dropped its final trailer on Monday before Black Widow’s May 1 release date. The movie, which takes place after Captain America: Civil War and before Avengers: Infinity War, will follow Natasha Romanoff — the Black Widow — for one last mission.

The new trailer focuses heavily on Romanoff’s familial relationships, particularly with Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), who is essentially a sister. We’ve seen the two women fight in a previous trailer, but this is a more intimate look at their relationship and bond. Like Romanoff, Belova was a fellow recruit for the Black Widow program.

Black Widow’s new trailer, which is two minutes and 24 seconds long, is the most in-depth look at the film we’ve seen yet, and, like any good trailer, ends with a quirky family scene with Romanoff, Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz), and Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian (David Harbour).

Black Widow premieres on May 1. It’s the first in Marvel’s Phase 4 Marvel Cinematic Universe films.

For more on the Black Widow click here

U.S. Agent debuts in fighting action

The upcoming Disney+ series Falcon and the Winter Soldier has been in production and some eagle eyed fans managed to snap some fighting footage from the set. Seen here, the action is fast and furious. 

From the Captain America comic book series, John Walker is a replacement for Cap when Rogers goes rogue against the interests of the government. Initially introduced by writer Mark Gruenwald as a patriotic villain, the character evolved into a hero, albeit a rough around the edges one. He saw in straight lines with a strict right and wrong philosophy, in sharp contrast to Rogers’ view which was more holistic and involved a place for all people. 

Black Mirror‘s Wyatt Russell will portray John Walker/U.S. Agent. The series premiers in August. 

Joe Carnahan’s Daredevil sizzle reel

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Back in the days when 20th Century Fox still owned the film rights to the Man Without Fear, they were still trying to find a way to monetize the property. In came director Joe Carnahan (of A-Team fame) who had a gritty almost Grindhouse vision of the character on he big screen. He prepared a sizzle reel as proof of concept for the studio but sadly the rights were lost since the studio could not enter production before the rights went back to Marvel Studios.

I am grateful for the Netflix Daredevil series but this high concept trilogy would have been great.

I suggested a trilogy as follows. ‘Daredevil ‘73’ ‘Daredevil ‘79’ and ‘Daredevil ‘85’ where I was going to do a kind of ‘cultural libretto’ and make the music of those eras a kind of thematic arc . So the first one would be Classic Rock, the second one would be Punk Rock and the third film would be ‘New Wave.’

Jim Starlin charts Thanos’ last journey

Since he created the Mad Titan, Jim Starlin has had a plan for Thanos. Made famous by the Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame films, Thanos has long plagued the heroes of the Marvel Universe for some time. But finally, Starlin has arranged the definitive story of Thanos with Alan Davis and Mark Farmer.

Chronicled over three hardcover installments (The Infinity Siblings, The Infinity Conflict and the Infinity Ending), the story promises to be the definitive work on the character.

Starlin spoke to CBR.com and had an insight into what the finale will feel like to write.

For quite some time, I have had the privilege of pretty much solely determining where our Mad Titan would go in his fictional life. It’s work I feel I can be proud of. But Thanos is the property of Marvel Entertainment, and with the movies on the horizon, Big Purple is about to enter the rarified classification of being a cultural icon, a character bigger than the comic books, writers and artists that birthed him. Marvel Editorial has made it clear they want fresh takes on the Titan, so who am I to argue with them? It’s been fun, Big Guy. Go out and have an interesting and entertaining life after.

Available to order:

The Return of the Literary Hulk

The Hulk and Spider-Man in Murdermoon

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Review by Mark Ricard
After more than a year’s absence I am continuing the Literary Hulk series. To the threeor four people who read the series, I hope you enjoy the new review. So without further ado here is the review.
This book has several important ‘last things’ behind it. First off, it is was the last book in the Marvel Novel Series that ran between 1978 and 1979. This book would also be the last appearance of the Incredible Hulk in prose fiction in until the Peter David’s novel What Savage Beast came out in 1995. There is nearly a 16 gap between them. It is the eleventh book for the series. There was going to a twelfth book featuring the Silver Surfer but allegedly Stan Lee did not want anyone else to write the character. Not sure if this has been confirmed. Finally it was Paul Kupperberg’s last novel for Marvel. He had previously done one Spider-Man book for the series called Crime Campaign. Not having read that book there is no not much I can say about it. It was also a first. This book was the first Hulk and Spider-Man team up novel. There would be a second one in 1996, Spider-Man and Incredible Hulk Rampage (Doom’s Day Book One).

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Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk as they appeared on  the TV screen in 1979

What about the book itself? Well… the book is uneven. Kupperberg himself has basically disowned it as a hack work that he wrote under a two week deadline. And there are a number of plot holes and inconsistencies that will be mentioned above. This was written in haste and in places, it shows. Starting with the first chapter we see one of these problems. The first chapter is the Hulk being attacked in the desert. This chapter, like the second with Spider-Man, introduces the character and his abilities for those unfamiliar with him. The problem is we are never given any reason why the military are attacking him. It is written merely to show off the Hulk’s amazing physical abilities. Even more confusing, Dr. Banner is not treated like a criminal but gives his name freely to many people throughout the story. The second chapter introduces us to Spider-Man. It is more relevant to the main story and gets the ball rolling. Spidey discovers a break in that is connected with NASA rocket research. This is what the plot of the story is about. It also gives a good profile of his sarcastic quipping but compassionate personality. Decent enough.

After that we get to the sections of the book that show the lives of the heroes’ alter
egos. Here Kupperberg seems a bit off with Peter Parker. He is acting more like his Spider-Man persona in his everyday identity. These scenes are at the Daily Bugle with J. Jonah Jameson and Robbie Robertson and the rest of the staff.
After that we are given a few chapters of Dr. Banner trying to start a new life in a small town. What does not make sense is that he gives his real name but nobody knows who he his. This is odd given that; 1. The Hulk would be well known by this point and 2. If he was important enough to merit the military coming after him he must have done something attention worthy. When he sees an ad in the paper offering a cure for gamma radiation in Chicago, he jumps at the chance. It will probably not surprise the reader that this does not work out. Meanwhile Peter is hired as a photographer on the story of a used space station that is reentering the Earth’s atmosphere and supposed to be retrieved by NASA. As some of you guessed this is related to the main mad scientist style plot. It will also intersect with the Hulk plot later on. Peter is teamed up with a science writer though why he could not be the science writer for the Bugle with his credentials is never brought up.
Without giving away spoilers this reviewer will say this a long and not entirely convincing plot involving scientists working for a rich patron with plans for world domination. Far too convoluted to be convincing. I will not go into the details for those who want to read the book. There are some interesting points of note however, first the space station’s name is similar to Skylab, the premier United States space station (in fact pieces had started starting falling just a few months prior to the release of the book, so that was probably a inspiration for Kupperberg).
reaganmissilesSecond it deals with the concept of a laser beam weapon orbiting space. This is before former president Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars Defense Initiative -in fact it is before his presidency. It would be interesting to ask Kupperberg if he had read about the concept somewhere. The other original thing in this book was using the laser weapon in space to target human beings on earth for murder. This was used in the 1985 movie Real Genius. Once again it is hard to say whatever these ideas have a common source or the writer’s of the movie were copying the book or maybe came up with the idea independently themselves. I am assuming since a moon is called a satellite and we have a laser-killer orbiting satellite in this book, that was why it was called MurderMoon.
Mr. Kupperberg if you are reading this would you mind taking the time to answer these few questions for us?
There is more to the story. A murder attempt of the superheroes by tying them to a rocket ship. Personally I cannot fault Kupperberg for this since so much popular fiction involves silly death traps, but why is it that nobody ever tries a bullet to the head? Nor do they try to unmask Spider-Man to find out who he is. Would they not be at least a little
curious? And finally despite my harping on his plot there was a interesting scene near the end between Spider-Man and Dr. Banner. It is interesting because it is true to the characters and it also shows the different approaches to life they have. Spider-Man is more optimistic while Bruce has a outlook that nothing can go right for him and his situation is hopeless. Him telling Bruce he should not give into despair is probably the best written part of the book.
Does this review recommend the book? Well I give it a cautionary yes. Accept it to for a simple action adventure novel. One that could have been a bit more carefully plotted but a quick read that will hold your interest.
Mark Ricard

Accolades for Doctor Strange

If you’re like me, you get nervous with each addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With 13 films preceding it, Doctor Strange has a lot to live up to. While the movie opens this Friday, reviews are of course already in hand. And they are glowing.

DrStrangeMarvel’s most satisfying entry since “Spider-Man 2,” and a throwback to M. Night Shyamalan’s soul-searching identity-crisis epic “Unbreakable,”.Full review

Peter Debruge
Variety

 

Benedict Cumberbatch is unpredictable and intriguing as the Marvel superhero in a brain-melting tale that reinvigorates the genre. Full review

Wendy Ide
The Guardian

A bizarre and beautiful detour on the Marvel journey, which culminates in a mind-bending, expectation-inverting final act. Not to be watched under the influence. Full review

James Dyer
Empire

 

Each ‘phase’ of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Strange is the second installment of ‘phase 2’) has further developed the rich universe of characters. Back in the early days of Marvel Comics, one of the most interesting innovations was that the heroes and villains all inhabited the same world (and in most cases the same city). This meant that the Fantastic Four could be called in by the military to hunt down the Hulk or Dr. Doom could catch Spider-Man. Whereas traditionally, characters existed in a vacuum, the Marvel characters mingled.

In addition to new heroes and villains, each new monthly comic added a different dimension to the Marvel Universe, be it the espionage of Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., the teenage school setting of the X-Men,  Peter Parker’s high school hi-jinx in Spider-Man, the far-out exploring of the Fantastic Four, the legal drama of Daredevil, the technical innovation of Iron Man or even the weirdly mystical realm of Doctor Strange. It’s heartening to see this approach, which was so successful in grabbing the attention of readers in the 1960’s, succeed again with the movie-going public today.

marveluniverseWhile Thor introduced fantasy and Guardians of the Galaxy added the science fiction elements, Doctor Strange is going to take us to another world altogether. And from the reviews so far, it’s one that fans are eager to enter.

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Moon Knight fan video

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Created as a horror hero in Werewolf By Night by Doug Moench and Don Perlin, Moon Knight may appear as a Batman archetype on the surface, but he is far more complicated under the silly costume and moon-shaped ‘batarangs.’

A soldier of fortune, Marc Spector discovered the temple of the Egyptian god Konshu during a mission to loot the nearby treasure. Betrayed by his employer and left for dead, Spector is resurrected by the worshipers of Konshu and reborn as an avenger of the night, the ‘Fist of Konshu.’

After returning to the US, he creates two identities, a millionaire playboy Steven Grant and the taxicab driver Jack Lockley. These numerous alternate identities coupled with the voice of a vengeful Egyptian God explain away the fact that he is dressed entirely in white fighting in the darkness. Spector wants to be seen, he is a vision of terror to the criminal underworld, spreading the gospel of Konshu.

Violent, insane and self-destructive, Moon Knight dresses head-to-toe in blinding white so that his prey can see him descending from the sky like a furious specter. While he does share some similarities with DC Comics’ Batman, it’s clear to see that Moon Knight is much further off the reservation.

Moon Knight has had many iterations over the years. In 2014, warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey revived the character in a bizarre street-level horror/suspense anthology series. The approach clicked and while I was reticent to accept a version of the vigilante who had tossed aside his costume for a white suit… it kinda fits. A fan-made movie condenses the first five issues of the series and (while it does have a very awkward ‘rap’ moment), it is worth a look.

The latest version of Moon Knight is absolutely amazing. It began with Spector in an insane asylum straight out of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest which I found questionable but has quickly developed into something far more outlandish and unsettling than I could imagine.
MK-Mr-Knight-panel
I have no doubt that Marvel is eyeing Moon Knight as a contender for their next streaming series alongside Iron Fist and The Punisher. It’s just a matter of time before the Fist of Konshu gets his comeuppance.

Recommended: Moon Knight Vol.1 From the Dead