Black Cat #1 Comic Book Cover Variants Video (2019)

The Black Cat, AKA Felicia Hardy, is the Marvel Comics version of DC Comics’ Catwoman. She is a jewel thief/burglar, and is the on-again off-again love interest of her heroic foil, Spider-Man. Black Cat first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #194 in 1979.

Marvel has finally graced Black Cat with her own comic book series, which began in June, 2019. As with many modern comic book “events,” Marvel commissioned over two dozen variant comic book covers for Black Cat #1. The fact that Black Cat is a rather attractive woman, of course, had nothing at all to do with Marvel’s publicity stunt of multiple variant covers, right?

Regardless of why they published so many different covers, here is a video that shows the Black Cat #1 comic book variant covers.

Which cover do YOU think is best? Leave your comments below.

Black Cat #1 Variant Cover Slideshow

Enjoy this slideshow of variant covers by some of Marvel’s top artists, celebrating the new series featuring Marvel’s answer to DC’s Catwoman: The Black Cat…

Black Cat (Felicia Hardy)

Spider-Man Villain and occasional love interest…

Black Cat’s 1st Appearance was in The Amazing Spider-Man #194 (July, 1979)

She was created by Marve Wolfman (writer) and Dave Cockrum (artist)

About That Image of Captain America Punching Hitler

Let’s talk about this image of Captain America punching Adolf Hitler for a minute…

Captain America Punching Hitler from Captain America Comics #1
Captain America Punching Hitler from Captain America Comics #1

Cap’s creators were both first generation Jewish-Americans. Joe Simon (birth name Hymie Simon) and Jack Kirby (birth name Jacob Kurtzberg) created Captain America and the first comic book featuring the “Sentinel of Liberty" hit newstands on December 20, 1940.  The cover image was provocative. It featured Captain America fighting the Nazis and punching Hitler in the face!  Keep in mind, this was a highly political move by Simon and Kirby, for the U.S. would not enter World War Two until almost 12 months later!  The 

At that time, the American Nazi party was a big thing back then. In a 1939 rally at Madison Square Garden in New York, 20,000 American Nazis showed up.  Amid this atmosphere of hate, these two Jewish-American sons of immigrants gave the proverbial bronx cheer to Hitler and his American stooges by having their blonde and blue-eyed hero come out swinging against Hitler.  Following the publication of this comic book, American Nazis sent hate mail to Simon and Kirby, and started hanging out around the comic book company’s offices as an act of intimidation. New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia arranged for police protection for Simon and Kirby.  

Captain America has always stood for liberty, justice, and America’s ideals. Remember that he is the ‘son’ of two immigrant’s sons who were part of a threatened religious minority who took a brave and dangerous stand against intolerance, fascism and evil.

Comics I Am Reading Now: Black Order #1

I am a little behind in my comic book reading, having a large pile of books ordered online and delivered via snail mail; I am slowly working my way through some Captain America and Fantastic Four issues, which are now a few months old.  However, I also subscribe to Marvel Unlimited, to catch those titles that I would not normally pick up and see if they are any good. Some of the comics I read via Marvel Unlimited I decide are not purchase-worthy, and then, sometimes I find a title that says to me:  This is a GOOD comic book, based on the characters, the dialogue, the storyline or sometimes, just the art. Black Order #1 is one of those GOOD ones!

Black Order #1 Cover
Black Order #1 Cover

Black Order #1 is a comic book worth reading for all of the above reasons.  You may recall that the villain group called the Black Order (also known as the Cull Obsidian) are the four powerful bad guys that tag along with Thanos in the Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame movies.  In the Avengers films, the Black Order includes Corvus Glaive, Proxima Midnight, Ebony Maw, and Cull Obsidian (Black Dwarf in the comics). They are also referred to in the movies as the Children of Thanos.

The Black Order in this comic book includes all of the above characters, plus the Black Swan, a powerful human female named Yabbat Ummon Tarru. She  was a princess on Earth-1365, and is the lone survivor of her world.

Black Order #1-Black Swan
Black Order #1-Black Swan

NOTE: In the comics (not in the movies, from what I saw) Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight are married. In Black Order #1, they often refer to each other as “Love."  Hey, even alien, murdering super-villains need a little loving now and then…

The Black Order in the 2018 Black Order Comic Series:

  • Corvus Glaive
  • Black Swan (1st Appearance:New Avengers #1, January 2013)
  • Black Dwarf (Cull Obsidian in the Avengers movies)
  • Proxima Midnight
  • Ebony Maw

Ok, so why is this comic so good, in my humble opinion?  

First, it features some powerful villains who, cut loose from their sugar daddy Thanos, are now working for the Grandmaster (yes, the nutty alien guy played by Jeff Goldblum in Thor: Ragnarok), who, in the comics, is one of the Elders of the Universe, and has a compulsive penchant for playing games.  Imagine a guy with incredible powers and some really bad-ass villains at his beck and call playing an intergalactic game of Chess or Risk, with real worlds as the game pieces. Not a nice guy, and way more villainous than the movie version.

Anyway, the Black Order is now working for him, destabilizing the Sinnarian Empire, one planet at a time.  That is just a plot device to give our bad guys someone to kill, plus make us wonder what Grandmaster is really up to.  But the real joy in this comic is the dialogue and the depth of the characters we now see as they carry on conversations while committing mass murder. Ok, to be fair, they are only seen killing warriors who they are actually fighting, but still…bad guys.  

Black Order #1-Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight-Do You Think I'm Funny?
Black Order #1-Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight-Do You Think I’m Funny?

Here we see the Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight talking about whether Corvus is funny. He thinks he is; his wife doesn’t think so.  Makes you almost feel bad for Corvus that it seems even his wife does not really understand him. If writer Derek Landy follows this thread throughout the series, it will provide a fuller picture of Corvus as a person, and probably allow us to see more of his relationship with Proxima. Bad guys are far more interesting when their characters and their personality are more fleshed out for the reader to see who they really are.

The art, by Penciller Philip Tan, is amazing!  The action sequences are dynamic, the colors, by Colorist Jay David Ramos, jump out at the reader.  Thinking of the comics genre that this book should be categorized as, and thinking back to the glory days of Marvel’s  “Cosmic" comic book genre, the art in Black Order reminds me a quite a bit of Jim Starlin’s work in the Captain Marvel and Warlock books (which also had strong connections the Thanos as well).  

Black Order #1-After the Battle
Black Order #1-After the Battle

The Black Order series is one I will be following, and you should read them also, especially if your main experience with these characters is from the movies only, these comics will give you a lot more background to understand these characters.  

Black Order #1-Credits Page
Black Order #1-Credits Page

From the Silver Age to the Silver Screen – The Evolution of Comics Industry

The rise of the internet has dealt a crushing blow to print media in the last 15 years or so. But one particular section of that industry has managed to thrive – comic books. How did the world of superheroes manage to fight off the big evil that is IT? Like any compelling superhero yarn, this one too is filled with twists and turns, and a whole lot of history, or shall we say, back-story.

Pop culture belongs to the comics industry

If you have to talk about comics in 2019, it is hard not to begin the narrative with Marvel and the Avengers. The company is responsible for almost singlehandedly bringing the world of comic books and superheroes to a new generation of kids and adults in the last 10-15 years.

The Marvel universe of superheroes and villains now sprawl a multi-billion dollar business. Comics only constitute a part of this empire. Their movie franchise has dominated the box office in recent years, bringing in over 8 billion dollars worldwide!

The latest episode in this cinematic universe, the Avengers Endgame, has been breaking box office records for fun in all four major continents. Many are wondering if it will go on to become the biggest blockbuster in motion picture history! Comics have come a long way indeed.

Avengers: Endgame

Comics have been a game changer as they have morphed heroes to the silver screen

Even on TV, comics have broken the mold of animated series, and are dominating prime time slots. Across the major networks, there are at least ten different live-action series. The same trend is visible on major streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime as well.  

But the original medium is dying slowly

It was essential for publishers of comics to make the jump from paper to the silver screen. Actual comic book sales have been seeing a consistent decline over the past couple of decades. There is no doubt that the rise of media technology has played a crucial role in this.

With the rise of TV, internet and streaming content, book reading as a hobby was dealt a mortal blow. Comics still managed to survive somewhat due to their visual appeal. But as they become more engaging and accessible on our screens, through movies, series, and video games, the original comics are losing their sheen.

Comic stores across the US are shutting down due to plummeting profits. Marvel still leads the market with a healthy share of total sales. But when you compare the numbers with those from the heady days of the 1960s and ‘70s you can see the stark decline – sales have dipped by as much as 80-90%.

But while that is bad news for offline comic books stores, the publishers themselves are not faring too badly. The big ones like Marvel and DC have diversified into TV and Hollywood. And the industry as a whole has made a successful leap into the digital word.

But online sales still account for less than 10% of the total revenues for the industry as a whole in the US. Unless the digital sales pick up to match the decline in print consumption, in the not too distant future, we comics will no longer remain in their original form of books and paperbacks.

The history of comic books through the ages

Fans and experts of the industry have identified four prominent ages or eras in the history of comics. We are currently in the fourth stage, popularly called the Modern Era. Before we identify the trends that changed comics in this era, let’s take a quick look at the other three eras.

The Golden Age (1935 – 1956)

To understand how this all came about we need to take a trip down memory lane, into the days before World War II. The 1930s was the decade when it all started – when the first ever caped crusaders and masked avengers made their presence felt on the popular stage.

It all began with the rise of Superman in the first ever edition of Action Comics. Soon Detective Comics (DC) came up with Batman and the All American Publications introduced a whole bunch that included Wonder Woman, Flash, and Green Lantern. This was the age of superheroes as they battled the evil of Nazis and other prominent villains of the era. 

The Silver Age (1956 – 1970)

With the end of WWII, there was a shift in the world of comics. The superheroes made way to other genres, like Westerns horror, and mystery themes. Comics became more mainstream in this age, as a notable entertainment medium on its own.

Popular heroes like Spiderman and the Fantastic Four appeared in this era. This was also a time of great paranoia about comics, due to the increasing use of adult themes like violence and crime. People started questioning their impact on young children.

The Bronze Age (1970 -85)

By the time the industry hit the 1970s, comics were no longer the medium for kids alone. Now we had an entire generation of adults who had grown up reading these books and continued to do so into adulthood.

In this era, the popular heroes continued to evolve in their own storylines, but often with darker and more mature themes. New writers also started to have their impact, taking the comics in fresh new directions.

Modern Era (1985 to present)

There is no strict dividing line between the Bronze and Modern ages. One thing that happened was the increase in the importance of TV and animated series. This presented the first step in the shift from paper to the digital screens.

As for the content, comics continued to evolve for an adult audience, with even darker themes, and the rise of anti-heroes. Characters like the brooding Batman and foul-mouthed Deadpool started gaining huge fan followings in this era.

The Gamechanger – improved graphics

There had been numerous attempts in the past ages to cash in on the popularity of comic books by taking them to other media like TV shows and movies. But mainly due to the fantastic nature of the stories and their heroes, successful screen adaptations were few and far between. Just take a look at the old Marvel Avengers movies and you will understand.

Though Superman and Batman movies were successful in the past, they were never as big as the current crop of Hollywood superhero capers. It was the improvement in computer graphics and animation technologies in the early 2000s that kickstarted the spread of comics into other media beyond print.

Justice League

New tech have taken comics to a new level

Movies of this era, like the X-Men Series, and the Dark Knight trilogy, benefited greatly from the improved special effects. The same benefit was also felt in the world of video games, where comics made a massive impact. Superhero adventurers like Batman and Spiderman have spawned successful series of action games.

Diversification and relentless marketing is key

With the release of each fresh superhero movie, merchandise and tie-ins flood the market, ranging from video games to toys, action figurines and more.  Even the world of online gambling has witnessed this invasion. These days you can find comic book free spin slots from many mainstream casino vendors, often as part of high profile tie ins with the likes of DC and Marvel.  

This is the strategy that has helped big names like DC and Marvel to thrive in an era when their traditional revenue streams have started to show signs of trouble. Smaller publishers are either migrating entirely to the digital sphere to stay in the green. Many new publishers have also started making their mark, using sites like Kickstarter to get funding.

We can expect this trend to continue for the foreseeable future. Print media might continue its inevitable decline, but the fascination we have for comics will probably never die out. The industry will just find new media to attract consumers. The mainstream success of Avengers and other comic-based movies show that there is still a very lucrative market for such stories. The publishers just need to adapt to new media to connect with their audience.

Stan Lee and the song “Dear Mr. Fantasy” from Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame is the culmination of over ten years and 22 movies in the amazing Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). In Endgame, we are treated to a classic rock song as the Marvel logo makes its appearance, and the song we hear as the logo shifts with images of Marvel characters and icons, is a throwback to the “hippie" era which is referenced a few times in the film. The song is “Dear Mr. Fantasy," by Traffic. Some ​analysts and critics​ think the inclusion of the song refers to Tony Stark and his journey in the MCU, but I argue that this song is a reference and an homage to the Fantasy Man himself, Stan “The Man" Lee.  

Stan Lee Cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Stan Lee Cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

First of all, remember, Stan Lee died in November of 2018, about six months prior to the release of Avengers: Endgame. This movie also features the last of the Stan Lee cameos filmed prior to his passing. How is it more likely that the song refers to Stan than to Tony as the Fantasy Man? Tony Stark is a man of science. He has little use for fantasy; in fact, Tony frequently, in recent movies, rejects pop culture and fantastical ideas from his cohorts (telling Peter Parker to stop referencing old movies for his ideas, for instance). No, if the opening song were “Mr. Roboto" by Styx, or “She Blinded with Science" by Thomas Dolby, I would say it would be a reference to Stark. 

So, what is the evidence for Stan Lee as “Mr. Fantasy?" Let’s look at the lyrics (written by ​Steve Winwood, Chris Wood, and Jim Capaldi​) of the song:  

Dear Mr. Fantasy play us a tune Something to make us all happy Do anything, take us out of this gloom Sing a song, play guitar, make it snappy  

You are the one who can make us all laugh But doing that you break out in tears Please don’t be sad if it was a straight mind you had We wouldn’t have known you all these years  

Dear Mr. Fantasy play us a tune Something to make us all happy Do anything, take us out of this gloom Sing a song, play guitar, make it snappy, yeah yeah  

Dear Mr. Fantasy play us a tune Something to make us all happy Do anything, take us out of this gloom Sing a song, play guitar, make it snappy  

You are the one who can make us all laugh But doing that you break out in tears Please don’t be sad if it was a straight mind you had We wouldn’t have known you all these years  

Look at Stan Lee’s career: his work (both in the comics, as well as TV and the Marvel movies) ​make us happy​, ​take away our gloom​ (by transporting us to his “fantastical" made-up worlds), and, as a major force of creativity (and marketing) for Marvel, he is ​the one who can make us all laugh, ​and, if he was not so darn creative (especially in the 1960s when he co-created most of the main Marvel characters and worlds), as in not having a ​straight mind, We wouldn’t have known you all these years. If Stan were not so darned creative, and had a “straight mind," we would not have known him, or Tony Stark, or Peter Parker, or Thor, etc. “all these years." Using the song “Dear Mr. Fantasy" to open Stan Lee’s last Marvel movie is clearly an homage to the most important person in the Marvel Universe, Stan “The Man" 


The above gif of Stan Lee is from a deleted scene (seen in the Bonus Features of the movie) from the first Avengers movie.

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Shazam Movie Review (2019)

A Spoiler-Free Review


The new DC movie Shazam is a fun ride and, in our humble opinion, perhaps the best or second-best movie in the DCU film franchise.

While avoiding any major spoilers, we will tell you why this movie is worth seeing, especially if you are a fan of the original Captain Marvel/Shazam character, you are in for a treat.

First of all, the film’s main theme is not good vs. evil, though as in any superhero story, that is a component. The main theme is about family. In all versions of this hero, Billy Batson and his buddy Freddy Freeman are orphans.  In the original 1940s version, they lived in an orphanage, in the modern day (comics and movie), they are in a foster home. As an orphan, Billy Batson has always had family as a major driver to his personality, and the movie takes this as a significant shaper of his personality and his motivations.  

Shazam/Marvel Family
Shazam/Marvel Family

The origin story of Captain Marvel…ahem…excuse us…Shazam pretty much follows the original tale from the comics.  The orphan boy is on a subway train that takes him to a magical land with an all-powerful wizard…no, this is not Harry Potter, though the movie does have a Potter reference…who then bequeaths the kid with the powers of the ancient gods.  Billy Batson then turns into the adult Shazam hero, but still has the thoughts and emotions of 14 year-old Billy. As Billy/Shazam tries to figure out his new powers and abilities, he develops a closer relationship with his new foster-brother Freddy.  Many parts of this movie are laugh-out-loud funny, and the interplay between Billy and all of his foster-siblings is great.

Our villain is, of course, Dr. Sivana, an evil genius who is motivated by a lust for power (played superbly by Mark Strong, who played Sinestro in the Ryan Reynolds Green Lantern movie).  We will not go too much into his origin here, (which is different from the original comics, but somewhat related to his more modern origins), but we will say that his evilness shines through very effectively.  One of Sivana’s themes is also about family, but not in the same way Billy’s is crafted.

There are many easter egg references, both subtle and obvious, throughout the movie to other comic characters (watch out for that Batarang!) and other pop culture movies, like the aforementioned Potter reference.  Again, to be as spoiler-free as possible, we will not get into details about these easter eggs, other than to to remind moviegoers to be sure to stay till the end credits. Yes, DC is doing this as well as Marvel, and the last scene is well-worth the wait.

In summary, the Shazam movie is great!  We rank it as the number two movie in the current DCEU after Wonder Woman.  If you like a good hero flick, with good writing, good humor, and some cool action scenes, then see Shazam!

Shazam/Captain Marvel by Alex Ross
Shazam/Captain Marvel by Alex Ross

Hickman Returns to X-Men, and Valkyrie Gets Her Own Title.

At Chicago’s C2E2, Marvel Comics unveiled several bits of of news related to upcoming projects.  First, the character Valkyrie will get her own series, written by Jason Aaron and Al Ewing. This series will come out of the also, upcoming Marvel Event called War of the Realms, which hits stores on April 3.

Also, Jonathan Hickman, who scribed the last version of the Fantastic Four prior to Marvel’s shutting that comic down, will take over on two X-Men titles,  House of X and Powers of X. Pepe Larraz will illustrate House of X, and R.B. Silva will provide artwork on  Powers of X. Marte Gracia will provide colors for both of thee X-Men series.

House of X and Powers of X promo
House of X and Powers of X promo

WAR OF THE REALMS begins on April 3, 2019, featuring Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel, against  The dark-elf sorcerer Malekith wages a war that has spread from one otherworldly realm to the next, razing each one to the ground as his armies move from conquest to conquest. Now there’s only one realm left standing.  You may remember Malekith as the Dark Elf bad guy in the second Thor film, Thor: The Dark World. In that Marvel movie, Malekith was played with some menace by Christopher Eccleston. In recent Thor books, the Dark Elf has proven to be a real pain for Thor (both male and female versions).  

War of the Realms #1
War of the Realms #1

Comic Book and Superhero News March 23, 2019: Disney Gets The X-Men, Deadpool, and the Fantastic Four!

The big news this week in comic-book land is the completion of Disney’s purchase of the Fox Studios Marvel character portfolio. For the superhero movie fan, this means simply that Marvel (owned by Disney) now has full creative control over the X-Men and related characters, as well as Marvel’s First Family, The Fantastic Four! To the long-suffering comic book geek fan (like me), this is nirvana. This unification opens up many possibilities for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Given the long history of interactions between the Avengers and the X-Men in the Marvel (comics) Universe (MU), the potential for mining that rich history to create new movie and television epics involving these two important groups is huge. NOTE: In the comics, the X-Men and the Avengers, whose comics debuted at the same time (September, 1963), first met in X-Men #9 (Jan. 1965), have had sometimes acrimonious relations, with multiple instances of serious fighting between the two groups.

Having said that though, one major question in this Marvel movie merger mayhem, is what will happen to the existing X-Men movie characters, their canon, and their continuity? At this point, we do not really know how Disney/Marvel will treat what has come before, but this week we did get the news that Ryan Reynolds’ version of Deadpool IS being kept by Disney/Marvel. This was celebrated by Ryan Reynolds on Twitter with a…Disney-fied image of the Merc With A Mouth…

Deadpool Gets on the Disney Bus
Deadpool Gets on the Disney Bus

The next day, Chris Hemsworth, who has played Thor in eight MCU films thus far, welcomed the Regenerating Degenerate into the Marvel Cinematic family with his own imagery on Instagram…

Deadpool-Thor Love Child-Chris Hemsworth's Instragram Welcome to Ryan Reynolds
Deadpool-Thor Love Child-Chris Hemsworth’s Instragram Welcome to Ryan Reynolds

Regardless of how the new, unified Marvel Cinematic Universe plays out (and what about the potential for a Spider-Man/Deadpool Team-Up?  Remember, the Spidey/Deadpool comic book series has been one of Marvel’s most popular comic book series over the past couple of years), the future looks VERY bright for Marvel fans.

George Takei at Emerald City Comic-Con 2019

Today at Emerald City Comic-Con, Star Trek star George Takei took the stage at the Seattle Hyatt Regency hotel to rapturous applause by nearly 2,000 fans. His first words were his iconic signature line of “Oh MYYYYY…” which just upped the geeky happiness of his fans as they applauded even more. The 81 year-old film and TV star spent the next hour regaling the crowd with tales of his new projects and his life as Star Trek character. He also took a very serious turn as he recounted his four childhood years in an internment camp in “exotic” Arkansas during World War Two.

George Takei greeting the crowd at Emerald City Comic Con, March 15, 2019.
George Takei greeting the crowd at Emerald City Comic Con, March 15, 2019.

Takei explained that he had just come from Vancouver, B.C., where he was filming the AMC show Terror: Infamy, which is a horror show set in a Japanese-Internment camp during World War Two. Takei commented on the intense cold in Canada this past winter, making reference to his status as a Californian unused to the frigid cold of the north. Takei also mentioned another upcoming project, a graphic novel memoir of his childhood in the internment camps, titled They Called Us Enemy.

During the audience question and answer session, one fan asked about the swordplay in the Star Trek episode The Naked Time, and Takei related the story of how he told Star Trek writer John Black that he knew fencing, and then spent the next two weeks actually learning how to fence (from the fencing master of the old Errol Flynn Robin Hood film.

George Takei takes the stage at ECCC 2019

George Takei also confirmed that his favorite Star Trek movie is Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country, in which, his character, Sulu, has received a promotion to captain, and ends up saving the day (and saving Captain Kirk also).

Perhaps the most poignant and serious moments of the hour came when Takei discussed in detail what it was like for him and for his younger siblings in Los Angeles, when armed soldiers came to take them away, and later on about his life as a child in what to him was an exotic land far to the east: Arkansas. He relates that to the young child that he was at the time, the whole experience was an adventure, and that to him and his siblings, the camp with barbed wire to keep them in was “normal.” When the war ended and they returned to Los Angeles, all of their pre-war home was gone, and they lived in poverty on Skid Row.h

The capacity crowd (the room was declared full via the ECCC phone app about fifteen minutes before Takei took the stage), applauded loudly and laughed at his jokes, but also sat in reverent attention as Takei told his tales of discrimination and internment.

Overall, the crowd of Sulu, George Takei, and Star Trek fans got what they waited for and enjoyed every moment of their idol’s appearance on the stage in Seattle. He is a very well-loved part of their lives. As an aside, George Takei, ever the gentleman, thanked his fans multiple times for their devotion to Star Trek and for his storied career. As he left the stage after thanking the crowd once again, he invoked the Vulcan “Live Long and Prosper” hand gesture and exited stage right.

Thank you Mr. Takei, for an uplifting and educational hour with you!