Ebony Bishop

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792 2005 20 35
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If we're talking about in comics, I'd want telekinesis...pretty much allows you equal footing with almost anyone.

In real life, I'd love Prodigy's power -- the ability to know anything anyone around you knows would be incredibly handy, and yet, no one would know you had a super power, so no government agencies would be coming after me.


Ed Brubaker is a Godsend!

I know he doesn't get the sort of high level attention that people like Bendis, Vaughn and Millar get, but thank whatever Deity brought us a man willing to bring back the Living Weapon, and have the balls to make him human.

God bless you, Mr. Brubaker.


How the Mighty Have Fallen

In preparing for some of my edits here on various characters of mine, I've been going back through old issues of obscure characters -- and I've been realizing there is a real problem with what comics do to these characters.

Every character, I assume, in a solo title, is made a well-rounded hero who can handle anything thrown at them, regardless of the insanity the logic has to accept. And writers, it appears, to test themselves, decide to put their heroes into more and more impossible situations, and still have them find a way out.

And then, when their characters lose sales, and their comics get canceled, and they get folded into another comic as a supporting character, there is a gradual but definite de-powering, to make them just another hero who might need either the help of the star of the comic, or can't do anything without the rest of the team.

I'll give you a "for instance".

I was re-reading an old favourite of mine from the 80's, "Dazzler". (Stop laughing! She was cool!) In her first 20 issues, she beat the Enchantress twice without help, took out the Hulk, beat the Absorbing Man by letting Black Bolt yell at her, and was tapped by Galactus to defeat Terrax the Tamer because she was the ONLY one on Earth who could enter a Black Hole and come back out. She could create holograms, a "light fog" that obscured vision, could alter emotions with light, levitate and limited flight, and more, as the situation demanded.

And when the Beyonder showed up, he decided if he could have any woman on Earth, he wanted Dazzler, for her power and beauty.

Then the book gets canceled.

Dazzler joins the X-Men, and lo and behold, she is slowly brought down by the fact that she's not the most popular X-Man. I haven't seen her make a hologram in that book ever, never mind her levitation or other powers. She doesn't seem to remember that she can do these things. In her own book, she was clever enough to defeat world-class villains with a little ingenuity, or at least a cartwheel wearing roller skates. And yet, joining the X-Men, she lets that all slip away to be the dizzy blonde who drools over Longshot. She shrieks, she runs, she's a damsel in distress for Longshot, or more regularly, Wolverine, to save, despite Project Pegasus calling her one of the most powerful mutants ever .

And now, she's a c-lister in Excalibur. She's treated as an object of lust for Juggernaut, with a bad dye-job and a destroyed career which involves singing disco in disguise (which is weird -- despite her clothes, Dazzler was a rock singer). They've forgotten her glory days, but what's more important, so has SHE. Because she ceased to be "popular", she's become weak and almost powerless.

Why do our canceled characters get treated like dirt outside of their own series? Why can't writers peek at the old issues and realize what they have on their hands? Instead, in the A-List X-Men, we have Cannonball, one of the worst concepts for a character ever, who literally blasts red clouds of gas away from his bottom to fly in an impenetrable cloud.

When I do that, I'm sleeping on the couch.


Alpha Flight love is hard to come by...

As a Canadian, I find I always pay attention to the Canadian influence on things. I know which actors are Canadian, which musicians and bands, and yes, which comic characters and creators.

I know that Canadians are rabid comic fans. Even when the American market is in a slump, Canadian sales are usually great. We love us some comics. And the most famous Canadian superhero is one of the most popular superheroes of all: Wolverine. We'll pretend not to notice in the first X-Men cartoon, when they made him Australian.

But for some strange reason, the only group of Canadian superheroes in prominence, Alpha Flight, seems constantly relegated to joke status. I notice that the characters that were created (most during the X-Men, with a few being added in the pages of their own book) were created at insane power levels! As I've been trying to add to their entries here, I've been reading up on these characters.

Please note, I've always been a fan, but sometimes I forgot how powerful they all were.

Shaman: basically, the only reason this guys second to Dr. Strange is because Marvel says so. He appears to be able to do almost ANYTHING. I'm not even going to mention his more powerful daughter, Talisman.

Sasquatch: A combination of the Hulk and Wolverine. He can lift a fully loaded jumbo jet at full throttle and casually throw it backwards.

Northstar/Aurora: The two fastest characters in the Marvel U, who can, unlike the Flash, fly, blast and blind people, and are only hampered by multiple-personality disorder or anti-gay sentiment.

Guardian: Has been shown blasting and hurting GALACTUS, something very few other characters get to do, unless they got their power -- that's right -- from GALACTUS.

Puck: A character who is invulnerable, agile as Spider-man, and can SNEAK UP ON WOLVERINE! And Wolvie's fine with that.

Marrina: Basically, Sub-Mariner on crack. She is faster, can control water, and when really mad, morphs into Godzilla's meaner brother.

I'm not going to get into the later Alphans (Box -- Hey, let's combine Iron Man and a shape shifter!)

So, where is the hate from? These guys are probably the most powerful, long-running group that Marvel has, and they're never seen leaving Canada (except to try and bring back Canadians like Wolvie), and they have no respect! Bendis kills them off with a guy he then beats (not that difficultly either) by the New Avengers! A team that, as far as I can tell, is far weaker than the regular Avengers!

I know, I'm ranting. I think it's time for some Canadian love. We produce the funniest actors, and the most powerful superheroes. Give us our love. It seems the only way to make people excited about the Alpha Flight was to kill them off, then bring the team back with at least 2 Americans and an alien on it. Seriously? You kill off Sasquatch, and give us USAgent? Puck is gone, but luckily, we have Arachne?

Granted, we all love Beta Ray Bill.


The REAL cross-over...

Every few years, when the stars align and the money looks right, Marvel and DC put aside their differences, and put out a cross-over. Some are quite good, actually, including the neat experiment that was Amalgam. Some are less successful, especially when they decide to ignore the fact that the two worlds are SEPARATE, and pretends they've been living in the same world all along.

The most recent, and also the one I read the most recently, was the Avengers vs. JLA crossover that saw both teams come to each others dimensions, mock their way of life, fight it out for the Grandmaster (of course) and then come together to save both realities. And this pointed out something about crossovers that's always bothered me.

EVERY battle between rival companies' characters is predicated on the idea of either the characters being FORCED to fight each other (JLA vs. Avengers; Marvel vs. DC) or a "misunderstanding" (of which there are countless examples. But there is almost never a battle that is purely based on heroes not getting along; partly because neither side wants their heroes portrayed unheroically, and neither side wanting to see anyone lose.

There is one answer. A shining example of using one of the most powerful teams of heroes, which would be entertaining, a fan favourite, and completely believable without a hackneyed "cosmic character" forcing anyone's hand.

The Justice League vs...the Defenders.

Come on! Look at the possibilities! We have fan favourites like the Hulk, Silver Surfer and Dr. Strange! We have compatible powersets, what with Nighthawk being BASED on Batman, and Valkyrie keeping that whole Greeks/Romans rivalry going with Wonder Woman. Marvel would never feel the need to protect the dignity of the Defenders, since they've never been the example of "Sterling Heroes".

And there is one reason why you KNOW the fight would happen. One word: Namor.

Can't you picture it in all its comic glory? The two teams of heroes meet for the first time, they mill around, confused; maybe someone openly questions the other team -- who are you people, and why did you bring us here? Even if there was no accusations thrown, I'm sure Namor would angrily demand answers, and someone -- I'm thinking Superman, just for coolness -- might just advise Namor to calm down, and maybe rest a hand on his shoulder.

Can't you picture it? Beautiful.

Before you could possibly have anyone advise Supes it was a bad idea, Namor would have slugged him. I know he's not as powerful as Superman, but Namor's no slouch -- he should be able to at least knock him silly for a few seconds. Someone, maybe Martian Manhunter, would in turn belt Namor away to protect Superman, and that would be all the Hulk needed to go to town.

And they'd have some good, even matches! I'm talking classic League here, by the way -- none of this Black Lightning/Red Tornado stuff. Aquaman, GL, Wonder Woman, Jonn...and always, the Batman. I'd love to see Surfer against Green Lantern, or Namor getting offended at someone else claiming to be the King of Atlantis. Superman's invincibility would also become moot, as he's vulnerable to magic, and the Defenders just happen to have the Sorceror Supreme along with them.

Eventually, there would have to be a storyline to actually move things along, but wouldn't this fight kick all kinds of ass? Wouldn't it, in fact, be the coolest battle in comics history?

Just something to chew on. I would so pay to see Namor punch Aquaman in the face.

Right in the face.


My Spider-Sense is Tingling!

When last we left my examination of the one-and-only Spider-man, I had voiced my disbelief in the concept of teenage created super-polymer spray-steel. Yeah. I'm still huffing and puffing about it, but that's pushed to the side for an even bigger leap of logic.

The Spider Sense.

On the surface, it makes sense. The concept behind the Spider Sense has a certain beauty -- Spidey has a sixth sense that twigs to danger to him. I would imagine by letting him know when things are hurtling towards him, much like a fly always seems to know when you're trying to slap him. But in Pete's case, it's like ESP that tells him danger is coming.

Okay, fine. No problem so far.

Apparently, the Spider Sense can also detect when people are dangerous, even if they haven't attacked Spidey. Or even know they might want to attack him. I remember Spidey having his Spider Sense go off when a werewolf walked by, only the werewolf was in human form, and was quite polite at the time. So...the Spider Sense has the ability to sense potential danger? I know the Beyonder used to set the Spider Sense off, and he actually seemed to like Peter.

So, why doesn't the Spider Sense go off around costumed, powerful heroes? Why doesn't Wolverine set it off? That guy's got a hair trigger -- he could kill anyone in a berzerker rage -- doesn't that warrant a twinge of danger? Luke Cage could pulverize Spidey -- nothing? And Spider-man has had more accidental battles with superheroes than almost anyone in the Marvel Universe, with the possible exception of the Hulk -- 'cause everyone has to fight the Hulk, eventually.

Okay, fine. We have Spider Sense A.I. I don't know how they explain it, but I guess we have to accept it, since it seems to happen often enough. But, keeping that in mind, shouldn't the Spider Sense detect other, less obvious dangers? If Pete writes a cheque that's gonna bounce, shouldn't it twig him to that? Or date a girl with a communicable disease?

Okay, those were for fun.

Finally, technically speaking, there is one other invention that Peter Parker is famous for, and it's almost more unbelievable than spray-steel webbing: the Spider Tracers. Okay, get this. Peter, realizing that he has the ability to "sense" danger, invents a tracer he can fire out of his wrists that allows him to use his Spider Sense to track them.

Um, how?

Do the tracers send out concentrated signals of danger? Are they miniature bombs that react only to Spider-man's DNA, hence presenting a potential danger only he can detect? Or has he somehow infused them with ill will towards himself? I mean, they've never damaged or hurt anyone, so how can he track them with his "danger" sense? Did he figure out the frequency of his own skull, slightly different than anyone else, and program it into the tracers at just below the painful level, hence making them a threat, but not a serious one?

Seriously, people! I want this explained! I don't get either the sloppiness of this creation, or the fact that this could make Peter Parker the most ingenius man in the Marvel Universe. Screw Reed Richards -- Peter invented evil machines that have no other function except to hate him enough so he can track them from a distance!

And thus ends my examination of Pete's inventions...or at least until I get brave enough to look at the Spider Belt Light...



While leafing through Amazing Spider-man #536, I was struck by something that hadn't really occurred to me. This lead to an interesting conclusion, which I thought I might share. I was noticing the banter back and forth, during the Iron Man/Spider-man beat-down, when Iron Man shut down the Iron Spider outfit with a verbal command. Yeah, we all figured that was going to happen. And then, lo and behold, Spidey has his own command to re-power the suit. Good for you, Pete!

Spidey then trades his barbs right back to Tony, and says he wouldn't be any kind of a technie if he hadn't forseen the shut-down. Which is where I paused.

Spider-man -- a techie.

Yeah, we all accept that Peter Parker is a brilliant scientist. He's a little science nerd who only got his powers because of a school science field trip, and constantly outwits much more powerful opponents through his scientific know-how. Fighting Hydro-Man? Better use electricity. Fighting Sand-Man? Throw some cement in with him. Electro? Thank god you found some rubber insulators.

In reality, in the last little while (and by that, I mean years), Spidey has come off as more of a science fanboy then an actual scientist. He's used as sort of a Trivial Pursuit level of genius. His role of late in the New Avengers is to explain Tony's jargon to the layperson. But he hasn't invented or tweaked anything brilliant in years. All he does is do a good job of keeping that bottom rung warm in the "big brains" of the Marvel U.

I remember the old cartoon from the 60's, where Spidey was seen almost as often in a lab coat with a couple of stereotypical beakers in his mitts, trying to blend something to take out the menace of the week. And I got a kick out of that. It meant learning something about science in school might actually bring us one step closer to super-heroism at one point in our life.

Okay, so I was depressed now. I mean, that was the main reason I liked the whole "Iron Man takes Spider-man under his wing" thing in the first place. Peter actually got to show his brains, rather than his fists.

But -- I then managed to hurt my head a little through my next line of thinking. I asked myself: Self, what was it that established Parker as an inventor in the first place?

And the answer to that, despite the fact that most people already know it, surprised me again. Peter Parker gets bit by a radiated spider, gaining the proportional speed and strength of a spider (also, the ability to sense danger -- we'll get to that). And so, in order to aid him in his crime-fighting, 15-year-old (am I right on that?) Peter Parker decides to invent the equivelant of spider webs! That's right. He can lift 15 tons, so he should have webbing that had the strength of steel. And to make it easier to deploy, he made it a liquid that fired from high-pressure nozzles, and solidify into the webbing. Oh, and also, it dissolved in about an hour.

So what little teen Parker did, based on necessity, was to invent spray-steel! That's right, the industrial equivalent of SPRAY-CHEESE was invented by a 15-year-old, who never came even close to demonstrating that level of genius prior. Or, for that matter, since.

And why hasn't the government picked up on this? Couldn't you alter this formula slightly, and use it to repair the holes in tanks, or battleships? Remember, this stuff is flexible steel, for all intents and purposes. He carries liquid polymers that can catch and hold vehicles, in compact shooters on his wrist!

How has Reed Richards not come out with his own version? How has Peter not managed to sell this to the army, or SHIELD, for military purposes? Shouldn't he be almost as rich as Stark now? Doesn't he own the patent on this stuff? Not to mention Ben Reilly's variations with impact webbing and his "stingers".

I have more tomorrow, as I was also very confused and curious about his "Spider Sense", and how that works. Stay tuned.


Juristictional Query

I have been reading both of Marvel's big "Events" this year -- the much hyped and anticipated Civil War, as well as the less hyped but with a grander scope Annihilation. For those not in the know, Annihilation is a cosmic tale set around Annihilus from the Negative Zone invading "regular space", and laying waste to entire races to do so. The Skrulls have been decimated, and the Kree are on their way. The stars of this little space opera are varied: Silver Surfer and other ex-heralds of Galactus, the Super-Skrull, Ronan the Accuser, Drax the Destroyer, Spacelord, Thanos, Quasar, and, most importantly...Nova, last surviving member of the Xandarian Nova Corps., and former New Warrior.

This becomes important to my question, believe me.

Civil War, on the other hand, is a big, old-fashioned, good guys fighting good guys bruhaha. With Iron Man leading one side of the charge, and Captain America on the other, the US is racked with strife when the government passes a Regulation that requires all superheroes to register their identities and work for the government. Any who refuse, like Captain America, are arrested and sentenced to prison in the Negative Zone. The impetus for this battle royale? An incident involving 600 deaths at a school in Conneticut, resulting from a battle between rogue supervillains, and the New Warriors.

Hey. Connections.

Okay, so a tiny bit more groundwork, then I'll post my theory, I promise.

Local law enforcement police a certain level of crime in their immediate area. A town sheriff is responsible for all illegal activity up to a certain level, in his town. If he goes to the next town, he has no real power, except out of courtesy. Anything that falls outside his juristiction is then the responsibility of the next level of law enforcement -- usually a large city, or a regional force. Above that, you get your state police in the US, and provincial police in Canada. And, as is often shown in television and movies, if a criminal crosses a state line, he falls under federal juristiction.

The federal police have power to order around state/provincial police, but not vice versa. State polive outrank local police. Higher levels of law enforcement can even take a case completely away from lower levels. That's their power.

Okay, so, even though we have no police force currently above country-wide, let's enter the realm of imagination, and say that there were a level above federal. I assume you could skip Continental, and go straight to global. Global police, in theory, would outrank federal police, and could easily order the RCMP or the FBI off a case. The next theoretical step would be a system-wide police force, or, if we're skipping continental, I guess a galactic force would be next.

And this is where we pop back into Marvel continuity.

The Nova Corps are exactly that -- a galactic police force that enforces galactic order throught the Milky Way. By that rationale, they should outrank every level of lower law enforcement, whether those levels acknowledge them or not. A sheriff cannot tell an FBI agent where to go without reprecussions, and the same goes here.

So, could Richard Rider, the Nova formerly with the New Warriors, come back to Earth and tell Tony Stark where to stick it? Could he not bust Speedball, his friend and former teammate, out of jail with no consequences? And if Nova had still been on the Warriors when the Stamford accident occurred, could he not have shut the American government out, and just claimed juristiction?

I wish they would answer questions like that, but I guess Nova is "conveniently" off-planet, and won't even consider returning until it doesn't mess with the storyline now.

Ah well.

I remain,

The Ebony Bishop