Age of Ultron – The ‘Bot Himself

Avengers-Age-of-Ultron-Official-TrailerI’ve read a couple of reviews of Age of Ultron which criticize the character of the villain, the murderous AI named Ultron. One called him “generic.” Another suggested that he wasn’t as clever a treatise on the dangers of artificial intelligence as some other film which was released recently.

Ultron, as is pretty clear from my last entry’s discussion of his “son,” the Vision, is, after all, only half a treatise on artificial intelligence. And the Vision, is not a treatise on its dangers, but on its wonderful potential. Dangers? Let’s be honest, everything that’s wrong with Ultron as an intellect is also wrong with a lot of humans. And that gets me to my refutation of that other accusation: that Ultron is generic. Ultron is, indeed, a deeply personal menace to the Avengers. For not only are his failings also theirs, he is, in fact, born of the hubris of one of their own. Tony Start believes he can enforce the perfect peace by building an AI, and he seizes on the technology behind Loki’s alien scepter to do that.

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Age of Ultron – Vision Quest

vision_AOUSo my favorite Marvel film has been taking a pounding this week, from the usual nay-sayers who wanted it to be Batman, or who wanted it to be just the first one again (suggestion – watch the first one again!) I’ve heard Ultron called a generic villain, and read that Evan Peters was a better Quicksilver in Days of Future Past.

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Age of Ultron – Who ARE These People? Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch

avengers_age_of_ultron_2015Okay, I’m not going to review this film. Because, if I were to review this film, you’d get about 1800 words, all of which were various combinations and permutations of these: “Oh”, “My”, “God”, “This”, “Film”, “F___ing”, and “Rocks.”

This is my favorite Marvel Studios film to date. None of them have been bad. A couple (Iron Man 2, Thor 2) were not what I wished they could have been. I’ll still watch them any day over, say, Ben Affleck in Daredevil or Man of Steel and any of its ill-begotten spawn. But Age of Ultron is my dream Avengers movie.

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More thoughts on Jim Shooter’s first run on Avengers

Continuing my review (Part One was last week) of the first six Avengers issues written by comics legend Jim Shooter… For those who just want to dive in without reading part one, know that I like Jim Shooter. He did phenomenal work on the Legion of Super-Heroes as a very young teen, and he did a nice job with these issues. But, later, he wrote some phenomenally bad Avengers issues. I’ve often wondered why his second visit to the Mansion was so unsuccessful. So I revisited some of those early, favorite stories of mine to see if I could see the seeds of the bad in what I thought was the good.

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Some thoughts on Jim Shooter’s first run on Avengers

(Total comic geekiness this week. No need to look within for any profound reflections on life. Sorry!)

I started reading Marvel’s premier team book, The Avengers (AKA, unofficially, The Mighty Avengers and sometimes The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes) in 1974. I grew up with it as one of my top favorite comics. As I grew peripherally aware of who was writing the scripts, who was drawing the pictures, I came to see Jim Shooter’s first tour as author of the Mighty Assemblers’ adventures as something of a golden age for the team. But then, to be fair, I pretty much considered the entire run, from about ten issues after I started reading and figured out what was going on, to the time seven years later when I just felt I’d gotten too old for comic books, to be a golden age. (Too old for comic books at 15. I know, right? Y’see, there was this girl…)

But Jim Shooter, the still-very-young writer who, at age 13, had taken over DC’s Legion of Super-Heroes a few years earlier and made it a fan favorite, brought some very special moments to the team’s history, especially when he was working with George Perez, arguably the greatest artist ever to draw the Avengers. (And that’s saying something, when you consider they were also drawn by Neal Adams, Don Heck, John Buscema and Jack Kirby, to name a few.) Continue reading

REVIEW – Steve Englehart’s Max August in The Plain Man


Steve Englehart
’s work is special to me.  I discovered him (indirectly) at the tender age of nine at the school book fair.  I went to a small private school with about a dozen other kids in my fourth grade class.  You’d think our book fairs would have been less spectacular than the ones in public school, but they were a hundred times more magical.  Perhaps it was the library, a parlor in an Eighteenth Century mansion and one of my favorite places on earth when I was little.  (I visited recently and saw that it had been gutted and turned into another classroom.  How traumatic to see your childhood refuge come to such a fate!)  Perhaps it was the lack of hovering adults, which my public school book fairs had possessed in abundance, telling me the books I wanted were too old for me, too focused on the sciences, too whatever. Whatever it was, the small, private school book fair was an event to me, and it was there, in 1974, that I found a Marvel Comics calendar featuring pictures of most of their now-iconic characters.  I had just started reading comic books, and I knew none of these colorful personages save Spider-Man, who after all had his own cartoon still running on weekday mornings.   Continue reading