Epic Experiences with the Nintendo Entertainment System


For Christmas a few generous friends gifted my family a Wii U and we’ve been having a great time with it! We’ve been playing the current line up of new games such as, “Smash Bros,” “Mario Kart” and “3D World,” which are all fantastic, but I was also eager to jump into some of the CLASSIC games from the NES era thanks to the Virtual Console. The NES was the first console I owned (yes, I’m that old) and its crazy game library is what instilled the love of gaming that I have to this day. Having spent my holiday playing games I adored as a kid such as “Super Mario Bros.” and “Duck Hunt,” as well as sharing these games with my son was incredible!

The trip down memory lane got me thinking through some of my favorite gaming experiences on the NES. While there were literally hundreds of memories made, four specific games immediately came to mind. I’ve previously written about my favorite video games of all time which included a few NES titles (which you can read here),  so for this entry I decided to go with with games I haven’t written about yet. And while these four aren’t necessarily my “all time favorites,” they’re still games that help define the NES era for me.

Here we go nerds…


Punch Out

I absolutely love this game! I recently replayed it on my 3DS and I still stinking love this game! For me, “Punch-Out” wasn’t about the controls or the game play (though both were great), I love this game because of the characters.  Fighters such as Glass Joe, Bald Bull, Von Kaiser, King Hippo, and the rest were, and still are, iconic in video game history. They were all wonderfully weird, quirky and each had their own attack pattern you had to figure out to defeat them. This was long before the internet or even strategy guides (hard to imagine right? I told you I’m old), so your only tool was trial and error. How did you figured out the timing of the body blow to stop Bald Bull’s rampage? You lost to him 1,000 times while trying different approaches until something finally worked, that’s how! And somehow, you loved every frustrating minute of it.

Old school NES games were hard, like – really hard! This is difficult to grasp now that the first 5 hours of most games is an extended tutorial that holds your hand like you would a baby. But back then, if you did somehow make it to the end boss Mike Tyson (or Mr. Dream if you got the original version), they were so hard that it wasn’t even fair. Although it did make you determined to eventually beat him, but I have to admit that this game has given me life long anger issues towards Iron Mike. I still can’t see a picture of him without feeling an intense nerd rage from losing to him hundreds upon hundreds of times. I’m sure that with years of intense therapy I will be able to one day forgive, but until then – you’re a jerk Mike Tyson!


Friday 13th

This game sucks. I’ve often seen it on lists of the worst NES games of all time. So why would I list it as one of my fondest memories? Simple – this was the first game that scared the living crap out of me. Sure, years later I freaked out as we all did when those dogs jumped through the window in the original “Resident Evil,” but it wasn’t my first gaming jump scare. This stupid game was.

I don’t even remember why I bought it. I was young, in kindergarten or so, and I remember getting it at my local “Thrifty’s” (Now Rite Aid for you young ones). I think I was trying to impress an older cousin or something. For all I know I was distracted by the ice cream and pointed to the wrong game. Regardless, I ended up taking the digital adventures of Jason home. As was my usual custom, I read through the manual before playing. Mind you, I had never seen a “Friday the 13th” movie nor really knew what they were about. In the manual I’m reading phrases such as, “there’s a secret cave where the severed head of Jason’s mom lives,” and “save all the children before Jason kills them all and your friends,” and I started getting that scared/nervous feeling in my tummy.

I nervously put it in to play. I don’t remember much, just fragments really. I remember being in a boat or a canoe and Jason swimming after me. At one point I remember Jason chasing  after me on land. My final memory is being in a cabin at night and Jason popping out of nowhere like a ninja. I didn’t scream or make a sound, but I was terrified! I calmly set down the controller and never played “Friday the 13th” again. I never even got far enough into this game to realize that it sucks. And for that, I shake my fist at you Jason.

FRiday 13th2



I loved the old school “man in suit” Godzilla movies as a kid and “Rampage” was like playing through one of those delightfully cheesy cinematic experiences. You picked a monster and you destroyed city after city. There was no deep back story or attempt to understand the motivation behind why they were on a rampage (see what I did there). Its genius is in its simplicity. Plus, it was a ton of fun! Punching buildings until they collapsed. Fighting off the army. Punching a train in the face. Eating people trying to escape. This was a 10 year old dream game come true!

And while I do love “Rampage,” it is simultaneously one of my most disappointing gaming experiences. You cause destruction across the US and the end game is to destroy all 50 states, which was no easy nor short task. I was determined to do so and as one state after another fell I grew more and more excited at what I imagined would be the epic ending awaiting me. For as long as this game way, there would have to be an hours long ending that constantly reaffirmed what a great gamer I was, right? Finally, it happened – I beat the last city and with it it the last state fell. Here was the moment I’d been waiting for.  My epic reward flashed on the screen…

Rampage Ending

…and that was it. The giant ticker tape parade that I had envisioned was not to be. Instead all I got was a word. ONE WORD! If you’re imagining a high pitched young voice now screaming, “THAT WAS IT?!?!?!?!” then you’ve captured the scene in my living room perfectly. After all I had gone through, I expected something, anything more. At least a full sentence or something. Man, the magnitude of this bummer still stings to this day.




Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Select Start

There are many things in this world I have forgotten and will eventually forget. But the legendary “Konami Code” will never be one of them. It’s burned into my very soul. I don’t even remember how I first learned of the Konami Code. Growing up in a pre-Google world, there was no way to look up tips or wikis for this or any game. I’m guessing someone on the playground told me about it, but I’m not fully sure. Therefore, I choose to believe that the heavens opened and the voice of the Lord spoke the code directly to me. Seems plausible, right?

And boy, did I need this code. Contra wasn’t merely a tough game – it was nearly impossible! You and your brother or fellow soldier (I never did learn their relation. At one point I thought that they were the “Double Dragon” brothers after having joined the military) were attempting to stop Red Falcon, aliens and general bad guy villainy. And in your attempt to do so, you died more times than Tom Cruise did in that movie no one saw. The Konami Code was your savior – it gave you a bunch of extra lives which made it possible to actually advance through, and maybe even beat “Contra.”

Contra is a great classic game, but the code is what stands out as one of my fondest memories because it was the first time I had experienced the concept of a secret cheat or an easter egg. It excited me to know that games could potentially hide little tricks and secrets such as this and was the catalyst for many hours of exploration in video games and eagerly comparing notes with friends on the school yard about what we had found. “Contra” and the code showed me that there could be much hidden beneath the surface of many games, and I loved the adventure of searching.

Now that you’re read through some of my favorite NES memories, I want to know what some of yours were. What game was frustratingly tough? What was your favorite “so bad it was so good” game? Are you still playing “Marble Madness” non-stop? SOUND OFF in the comments below.

This has been a NERD ALERT!


The New Star Wars Teaser Is Here!

Force Awakens

On Black Friday we were given our first glimpse of the next installment in the Star Wars saga…

Like many Star Wars nerds I’ve watched this teaser about a billion times. It’s not long (barely over a minute), but it was enough to get the ol’ geek heart excited! There’s something extremely special about anticipating a new Star Wars movie, isn’t there?

Now the interweb is ablaze with speculation regarding what this teaser shows us. What I’ve decided to do is watch it and concurrently write my reactions/questions in chronological order. Basically I’m doing what I do best – babbling about something nerdy. BEHOLD…

-I’m assuming the opening shot is of Tatooine. How could they show a desert world and have it not be, right? Interesting that we’re once again visiting Luke’s home world. Does this mean the plot does revolve around Luke as has been rumored?


-Cool voice over! I wish I sounded that cool. It would really spice things up when I ordered pizza. Anyway, many have speculated that the voice belongs to the Cumberbatch but the website “Hitfix” broke the news that it’s actually Gollum himself, Andy Serkis. Is he playing the role of a villain in this?

-An unmasked Storm Trooper seemingly in distress eh? Is this a glimpse at one of the new characters? My guess –  it’s not a “real” Stormtrooper, but one of the good guys in disguise. Just a guess, but I am a genius, so it’s likely to be true.


-Is looks like the R2 units have gotten a mobility upgrade. Glad to see Star Wars has been inspired by the World Cup.

New Rd

-The Stormtroopers has gotten a slight fashion upgrade. One of the big questions I’ve long had about Episode VII is with this being set 30 years after “Jedi,” what state is the Empire in? Did it all collapse with the Emperor’s death and is what we’re seeing now a resurgence? Has a remnant always remained? Obviously there’s is imperial influence is in this film. I’m extremely curious to see what the Empire is up to.

New troopers

-Another potential new character on what looks like a bulky a speeder bike, also seemingly on Tatooine. This could have to do with the “Luke’s been missing,” rumor. Maybe they are looking for clues to his location?  Or they could be trying to find Obi-wan’s hidden teapot collection. Either way works.


-X-Wings! They look upgraded while still maintaining their iconic look. The pilot has the rebel insignia, which made me very happy! My guess is that if a new republic has been created since the fall of the Empire, then that symbol is now their icon.

-Black robes in the Star Wars universe often mean Sith, so I’m thinking we’re seeing the back of a villain. Is this an Inquisitor type role? A rumored “jedi hunter?” Lord Voldemort in the wrong movie?

-Okay…let’s talk about that Lightsaber. The look of it broke the internet over the weekend. Here’s my initial reaction – It looks a little silly and definitely doesn’t have the “wow factor” of when we first saw Darth Maul’s double lightsaber, but I will reserve judgement until I have context for why it looks as it does. Instead of spouting nerd rage about its design, I’m choosing to appreciate that is has given the world some incredible memes.

Lightsaber meme

-HOLY CRAP – IT’S THE JOHN WILLIAMS SCORE AND THE MILLENNIUM FALCON!!!!!! AHHHHH!!!!! Honestly, if the teaser was just this section then I still would have been completely satisfied. Seeing the Falcon fighting off TIE fighters is an early Christmas present! Also, it looks as if the Falcon got a new satellite dish since “Jedi.” Nerd continuity, right?

New Falcon

FINAL THOUGHTS: Even though it was just a teaser, I LOVED IT! It didn’t give us to much (which I appreciate), but it gave us just enough to get the geek juices flowing and start some incredibly nerdy discussions. I do enjoy J.J. Abrams’ work and I’m excited to see more of what he’s got up his sleeve for this. I’m a happy Star Wars geek!

So what did you think of the teaser? Do you see something I didn’t in it? Are you worried that this movie could still include the destroyer of worlds that is Jar Jar Binks? SOUND OFF in the comments below.

This has been a NERD ALERT!



Thoughts on Marvel’s PHASE THREE Announcements

Phase 3 line up

Holy crap!

It’s been a heck of a week for us Marvel fans, hasn’t it? Just a week ago we got the release of the first “Age of Ultron” trailer (after an initial leak) and I was all set to write up a reaction to it when the good people at Marvel Studios decided to make my geeky head explode by revealing their Phase 3 slate of movies. As is often the case when Marvel Studios announces a new project, their new slate reads like a nerd fantasy that’s too good to be true, and yet this is what they’re giving us!

I don’t even know where to begin, so I’ll just go ahead and write a messy and rambling post, because that’s how I role.  First, some “quick fire” reactions before I jump into what were the biggest announcement for me…

-A “Guardians” sequel was obvious, but I’m still way excited. Plus, James Gunn and the whole cast are coming back, so I expect great things. Frankly, it could be just two hours of Rocket Racoon sitting and watching “The View” and I’d still be in.

-We’ve been expecting the “Dr. Strange” announcement for a while now, so it’s nice to finally get it. Interested to hear when they finally lock in official casting. Benedict Cumberbatch has been recently rumored for the lead, but as Marvel said, if that was a given then they would have announced it.

-In the comics, “Ragnarok” was the storyline that destroyed Asgard and killed off Thor for a while (Thor was dead during “Civil War”). That being the subtitle to “Thor 3” gives me the impression that something tragic will go down. Could it involve Thanos and the Infinity Stones? Either way, we’re getting more Loki and that alone is awesome!

-Black Panther is the other of Marvel’s worst kept secrets. Still, it’s exciting to have him finally in the cinematic universe and I expect we’ll see him in a small role during “Age of Ultron.”

-Inhumans had been rumored before, but I wasn’t sure if it would actually get made because it’s a “out of left field” property. My guess is the success of “Guardians” helped get this one greenlit. I love Blackbolt and am excited to see how this plays out.

-I am absolutely THRILLED that we’re getting a “Captain Marvel” movie!

Captain Marvel

It’s time for a female led superhero movie and frankly I’m glad we’re getting a heroine that isn’t “Wonder Woman.” I dig the cosmic nature of the book and there are many possibilities of cross overs with the “Guardians” or even the “Inhumans.” I would also hope that this paves the way for some of Marvel’s other female characters to lead their own movies or shows. I like that we’re getting an “Agent Carter” show in January and I’d personally love to see Black Widow in her own movie. It would be like “Lucy,” only good this time.

Now, let’s talk about what for me were the two BIGGEST announcements of the event…


Civil War 1

“Civil War” was one of Marvel’s biggest comic events of the last twenty years. A tragedy results in the government passing the “superhero registration act,” forcing all heroes to reveal their identities and be licensed to operate. This divides the superhero community, with Iron Man leading the pro-registration force and Captain America leading the anti-registration rebellion. Now we’re going to see this play out on the silver screen and that makes me want to cry out like a teen at a One Direction concert!

What’s intriguing is that obviously the cinematic “Civil War” will have to be significantly different than the comics. So then, what is the event that disassemble the Avengers? The Avengers 2 teaser seems to suggest that due to Ultron the team is heading towards a breaking point. Is Ultron the reason Cap and Iron Man split up? Does Ultron crack the foundation but do we not see the full schism until Cap 3? There are a lot of possibilities and I imagine we’ll be speculating until next summer when “Age of Ultron” is released.

Another intriguing question is that in the comics Spider-Man was a massive part of “Civil War.” Spidey initially sides with Iron Man and even unmasks on live television to show his support for registration before joining up with Cap. Could the “Civil War” announcement mean that there is more truth to Sony lending Spider-Man to Marvel Studios than we realize? Did Santa finally get my letter? If not, then it’ll be interesting to see what character they use instead to be the one that’s caught in the middle of both factions.


Infinity Gauntlet 1

Ever since Thanos was revealed during the credits of “The Avengers,” Marvel has been building towards adapting the “Infinity Guantlet” storyline. In the comics Thanos assembles the six gems that control all of time and space and becomes omnipotent. The entire Marvel Universe has to fight him off and he ends up killing half of them. It’s pretty crazy and you’ll need to read the trade for yourself to see how it all gets resolved.

In the cinematic universe, we’ve learned that the “infinity stones” are the weapons of mass destruction that the villains are trying to control, such as the Tesseract. I originally assumed that Thanos and the gauntlet would be the plot of “Avengers 2” but in an interview Joss Whedon gave a while back he referred to Thanos as being the final boss in a video game in which you fight through everything else before you have a final showdown with him. Since “The Avengers,” reaching Thanos has been a slow burn that we now know will culminate with the Infinity Gauntlet over the course of two movies, separated by one year with a couple of movies in between.

I love that not only is Marvel going big with it’s story, but with how they’re choosing to tell it. I imagine this war will involve every cinematic character and rather than try to cram that all into two hours, I love that they’re taking their time and using multiple movies to tell the epic ending they want to. A good geek friend of mine speculates that the Avengers will still be split heading into part one and that in part two everyone will assemble to take Thanos down. It’s just a thought, but it is an awesome one, huh?

Anyways, that’s what I thought of the Phase 3 announcements. What do you think? What are you excited about? Anything you felt was left out? Are you still holding out for a new Howard the Duck movie? SOUND OFF in the comments below!

This has been a NERD ALERT!



What’s The Future of the Spidey Movies?


The “Amazing Spider-Man 2” was not the blockbuster Sony hoped it would be. It was met with a “meh” response from critics and fans alike and while it did make a descent amount of money at the box office, it still fell short of what its predecessor brought in.

Even before its theatrical release, Sony had revealed plans to significantly expand their Spider-Man movie universe. A third installment in the new Spider-Man trilogy was announced, which came as no surprise. What was a shock was Sony having put into production a movie staring the Sinister Six villain group as well as a separate film focused on Venom and Carnage. Interestingly enough, neither of those movies were intended to include Spider-Man himself. Seems as if Sony wanted to attempt a Marvel Studio style “universe building” with the characters they have the rights to.

Recently though, the rumor mill coming out of Sony is indicating that their plans are radically changing. Apparently, the tepid response to ASM2 was substantial enough that Sony is possibly rethinking their entire Spidey-movie strategy. Rumors have been swirling and I wanted to discuss the top three rumors about the future of the Spider-Man franchise that have caught my attention.

1. The Sinister Six Movie will now Include Spider-Man…who is not played by Andrew Garfield.

Sinister Six

For any non or new geeks (welcome!), let me bring you up to speed – The Sinister Six has been a stable of villains that has long tormented dear ol’ Spidey in the comics. “Amazing 2” sets up the idea of encountering them in a future movie, particularly in that final scene with Harry Osborn. Again, from what Sony has announced, the Sinister Six was meant to be a stand alone movie rather than the end of the “Amazing” trilogy. While there haven’t been many details given, we had been told that it would feature six villains (no details on specifically which ones) and exist in the Amazing Spider-Man movie universe. Honestly, a movie staring a stable of Spidey villains without an appearance from web head does not excite me. The thought of Spider-Man having to fight off this team as an epic end to a trilogy is exciting, but alas, it wasn’t originally meant to be.

Now the rumors are saying that if Sony does move forward with the Sinister Six,  It’ll be with Spider-Man in a prominent role. A potential plot being that an even greater threat forces the villains to form an uneasy alliance with Spider-Man so they can save the Princess from Bowser once and for all, or something like that (the last part may be part of my fan fiction). Oh…but since Andrew Garfield isn’t contracted for this film, they would recast him. Because having multiple actors playing Spider-Man isn’t confusing or anything, right? But that leads to the next rumor…

2. Sony recasts and reboots the entire franchise…again!


Sony may just “burn down the house” and start all over again. New cast, new universe, etc. Now, this sounds absolutely crazy to me, but then again I’m not a studio exec. While I was pleasantly surprised as to how much I enjoyed “The Amazing Spider-Man,” what didn’t connect with me was the origin story. Mainly because I felt that I had JUST SEEN IT in the Sam Raimi trilogy. Would they really go through all this again? I don’t know, but this rumor does imply that every option is on the table over at Sony. But the giant risk with this is “reboot fatigue.” In the last 15 years we’ve had two different film approaches to Spider-Man, and we’re risking boredom. I’m of the opinion that this has been a big factor in why the “Amazing” movies haven’t made as much money as Sony’s original trilogy – people are asking, “Wait…didn’t we just see this?”

What would also be a disappointment to me in this is that I really like Andrew Garfield as Peter/Spidey. I honestly didn’t think I would, but he’s been my favorite part of the new movies. I would love this guy to be given the opportunity to star in a well-written Spidey film, but maybe Sony sees him as part of the problem? I don’t know…

Now, that leads to what I think is the most impossible rumor of all, yet the one I want to be true more than anything…

3. Sony negotiates a deal in which Spider-Man can appear in Marvel Studio movies.

Spidey Avengers

I LOVED “The Avengers.” It was the movie I had always dreamed about as a kid. And after seeing it, what bummed me out was knowing that Marvel Studios would never get to tell a Spider-Man story. Since they had absolutely nailed the heart and soul of all the Avenger characters, now all I wanted was to see them take a crack at the wall crawler. No exaggeration – I would lose my geek mind if they brought a proper Spidey to the big screen and explode from excitement. Literally. Explode. That’s scientifically possible, right?

Would this ever happen? I think this is as long a shot as “long shots” go. We do know that Sony and Marvel have talked, but I imagine that a negotiation such as this isn’t exactly easy for either side. But dream with me here Sony (I know you read this blog) – you love the Spider-Man film franchise because it makes you Scrooge McDuck amounts of money, right? Merchandising alone brings in a fortune. Let me appeal to your accountants here – by working out a deal in which Spider-Man appears alongside The Avengers (maybe even helps kick-off a cinematic “Civil War” storyline) it will make you SO MUCH MONEY, that you could finally buy those solid gold toilet seats you’ve had your eye on. You think you sell a bunch of Spider-Man toothpaste now? Just wait until he’s standing with Robert Downey Jr. and they’re both telling you to floss. Billions Sony, billions!

I do have one condition though. You can share Spider-Man and make money off that deal, but it is ESSENTIAL to let Marvel be the creative force behind how Spidey is written and portrayed. Joss Whedon has made quite a name for himself with how well he writes quippy, sarcastic heroes. Just let him do his thing and Spidey will turn out more than fine – he’ll finally be the Spider-Man we’ve always wanted to see on screen.

Like I’ve said, these are just rumors and I’m sure there are more out there. We won’t know anything for sure until Sony opens their big old corporate mouth. But in the mean time, you’ve heard my ranting, now what say you fellow nerd? Which of the rumors makes you the most excited? The least? Would you prefer the Spider-Man movies just show Aunt May playing Bingo at the community center? SOUND OFF in the comments below!

This has been a NERD ALERT!




Ranking the Marvel Movies – From LEAST to BEST…


I think we can all agree that Marvel Studios has conquered the world. All hail our new overlords!

Ten movies in and the studio is more popular than ever, showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, I remember a recent article declaring Marvel Studios the “new Pixar,” meaning that the general movie going audience (in other words, non-geeks) no longer needs to know about or be attached to a certain character before hand for a movie to succeed. Instead, like Pixar, all you need is to see that glorious “Marvel” logo and regardless of what it’s about you know you’ll get a quality movie experience. The recent success of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” a movie filled with characters that only the hardcore comic fans knew of is a great example of this.

As a life-long comic book geek who loves seeing these characters conquer the silver screen, I’ve decided to weight in on their slate of movies and give my humble (yet correct) ranking of all the Marvel movies so far, from least to worst.


**Minor Spoilers for the films to follow. You’ve been warned nerds!**


The Incredible Hulk

I’ve never been a big fan of the Hulk by himself. I love him alongside other characters, but when he’s flying solo I find it hard for him to keep my attention. I thought this movie was much better than the Ang Lee “Hulk” from years back (although that movie did have “Hulk Poodles.”), and the first transformation sequence in the soda plant was pretty cool. Beyond that though, the highest praise I can give it is “meh.” I never bought into Liv Tyler as Betty Ross and while I usually like Ed Norton, this wasn’t his best performance. However, I definitely geeked out when Tony Stark walked in at the end. It was cool to see the beginning of the character crossovers/universe building that we had been promised at the end of the first Iron Man.


Iron Man2

This movie  gets a lot of hate. In re-watching it, while not a perfect movie (or even close), I also don’t think it was so bad that it ruined my life, which is what I can only assumed happened to others based on their online comments. Robert Downey Jr. continue to be the best aspect of the Iron Man franchise by pretty much playing himself and it’s difficult not to enjoy his wit. Sam Rockwell was a great addition as the slimey yet super dorky industrialist Justin Hammer, which added to the humor of the film. Where I feel IM2 stumbles is in the common mistake of attempting to do far too much in a short period of time. The main plot should have just revolved around Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash character seeking revenge on Tony for his father allegedly stealing the idea for the arc reactor. But instead we got that while trying to give ample time to other subplots such as the Stark Expo, Rhodey becoming War Machine, Pepper becoming the new CEO, Tony’s sickness, a mid-life crisis, and Nick Fury showing up to chat. There was too much going on and in the end the film felt bloated and without much substance.



Out of all the proposed “Phase 1” movies, Thor was the biggest question mark. How would they bring to life Asgard and the whole mythology aspect of the character in a way that could co-exist with the techno-realism that Iron Man had given us? And for many, Thor was the least known of the Avengers trinity. How would people react to the idea of a Norse god in the Marvel universe? For the most part, I think they did a great job introducing the character and his world. Asgard looked wonderful and the explanation of it essentially being another planet or realm (making the Asgardians aliens) was creative. Casting wise, Chris Hemsworth was seemingly born to be Thor and I sincerely hope that in his everyday life he speaks with the Thor voice. And we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to “Thor” in that it was our first introduction to Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. My biggest complaint is that the majority of the film takes place on earth. I wanted to spend my time exploring Asgard and be more immersed in their world, not traveling some small town on earth in Natalie Portman’s van. Regardless, it was a great introduction to Thor’s story and they did eventually give me more Asgard in the sequel.


Iron Man3

Once again, this was Downey being Downey and for me, that will never get old. This was also the first “post-Avengers” movie and I enjoyed how it portrayed a world in which superheroes and alien invasions are now a very real thing. While the subplots with Pepper and Maya (the female scientist), didn’t fully connect with me, nor did I fully buy into Aldrich Killian as the villain, there was a lot in the film that I liked. I thought it was awesome that Tony was dealing with PTSD due to the events in “The Avengers.” I felt it was a creative way to inject some realism into such a fantastical world. And I know I’m in the minority here, but I liked the twist with The Mandarin. Nerds have been arguing how it ruins the character, blah blah blah, but I thought it was bold and creative. As someone who is not often surprised in movies, that caught me completely off guard – It definitely was not what I was expecting! Plus, from what I hear the follow up one-shot “All Hail the King” adds a further twist in the developing story of The Mandarin, so calm down already. For what was potentially the last stand alone Iron Man film, I felt it was a strong swan song.


Captain America1

I’ll admit it – I was skeptical of Chris Evans being cast as Cap. I’d seen him in films such as “The Fantastic Four” and “The Losers,” and I assumed that he only played wise-cracking jerk type characters. Cap is supposed to have the gravitas to lead the entire Marvel Universe, so why go with Johnny Storm? It didn’t take long for this movie to convert me into a Chris Evans believer. I loved that it was a period piece that centered on WW2, which is such an important foundation for Cap as a character. I loved Hailey Atwell as Peggy Carter (I’m excited to see her upcoming TV series), loved Tommy Lee Jones and loved The Howling Commandos. I thought the Red Skull was visually a cool villain but Hugo Weaving seemed uninterested in the material and it showed in his performance. Plus, I’m still not really sure what happened to the Skull at the end. Did he die? Was he teleported to a Tesseract based purgatory? Is he working on a new album of Beyonce cover songs? We may never know. Additionally, the Bucky “death” scene was tough to get right for all us power geeks because we know the comic book version involving Baron Zemo so well. It wasn’t bad, but for me it wasn’t as epic as it should have been either. Bottom line, I did really enjoy “First Avenger.” I know some were bothered by some of the “cheese factor” in the movie but to me that added to its charm.



Now this is the Thor movie that I wanted the first time around! Sure, Earth was in there but it wasn’t the primary location. We got to experience more of Asgard alongside other realms and I feel “Dark World” did a great job blending together Thor’s fantasy and science fiction elements. Plus, how cool was Loki in this movie, right? At this point we’re all madly in love with Hiddleston and he didn’t disappoint. Now, Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster and her friends are entertaining and by no means bad, but I find more often than not that they just get in the way. I’d love to see more of Lady Sif and the Warriors Three. But it is what it is i guess. Lastly, how about that after credit scene? INFINITY STONES?!?!?!? This was the first real confirmation that Marvel is building towards the Infinity Gauntlet. And even though 99% of the theater had no idea what that scene meant, I still audibly flipped out!


Captain America2

I would have been fine if this film had given me “more of the same.” Instead, “The Winter Soldier” decided to completely change the Marvel cinematic universe with three simple words: “No more SHIELD.” I loved how “Winter Soldier” fell more into the espionage thriller genre. I loved that Black Widow and Nick Fury were given much more screen time and great action sequences. Maybe this will finally lead to a Black Widow solo flick? I was also so excited to see the character of The Winter Soldier come to life (and as I’ve written before) I was not disappointed. But above all, I loved how this movie reminded me that Marvel will often take bold risks that leave you in shock and awe. From destroying SHIELD, to redefining Fury’s role in the universe, to introducing us to Marvel Studios’ potential solution to getting around not being able to have “mutants” in their universe (the after credit scene), “The Winter Soldier” was an all around awesome experience.



I’d like to take a moment and give a very sincere and heartfelt message to my non-nerd friends…I TOLD YOU SO! When the movie was first announced and the world responded with a collective, “who?” I was excited. I’d read the comics and I was already in love with the Guardians. I told countless people, “Trust me. You’re going to love the raccoon with a machine gun and the talking tree,” and was always met with a polite nod as they looked at me as if I were bonkers. Just to state it again— I WAS RIGHT SUCKERS! Marvel’s biggest risk has paid off in a huge way! Chris Pratt and the whole cast was incredible, the soundtrack was spot on, Rocket and Groot are now celebrated parts of mainstream culture, and the film set up the third Avengers film in big ways. And more importantly, Guardians accomplished all of this without a cameo appearance or even a reference to an established Avenger. No door opening with Robert Downey Jr. walking saying, “Did somebody say TONY STARK?” Nothing. Guardians was a huge success and it did it on its own characters and humor. After this, you really do have to wonder what weird or out of left field franchise Marvel will attempt next. Maybe “Power Pack?”


The Avengers

“The Avengers” is the movie I had dreamed about as a kid while playing with my action figures. It’s also the movie I was CONVINCED would never happen. If you stop and think about it, it makes no sense that “The Avengers.” exists. In the lightning fast world of Hollywood, the fact that a studio would slowly build a universe with characters far less known than say a Spider-Man over the course of five years through individual movies, all the while hoping that not a single one of those films bombed while leading to a big payoff, well frankly that makes the existence of “The Avengers” a miracle! We’d already been introduced to these characters, so the movie hit the ground running. What threat would unite “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes?” Not the traditional cabal of super villains, but a full blown alien invasion that destroys most of New York. And how about the fact that this is the single best Hulk movie we’ve ever gotten? Plus, when all was said and done, what did they put in the middle of the credit? THANOS! They put him in as a clear message that Marvel was just getting started! “The Avengers” was proof that the Marvel strategy works! So much so, that now many other studios are trying to replicate Marvel’s “universe building.”


M Payoff 1sht

Why is Iron Man in my top spot? Because there would be no cinematic universe if Iron Man had not succeeded. Iron Man was released at a time in which the future of superhero movies was uncertain. “Spider-Man 3” and “X-Men: The Last Stand” were colossal failures story-wise (they made a ton of money though) that cut deep into our very geeky souls. Add to that the lukewarm at best response to “Watchmen” and you had many critics declaring that the comic movie “fad” was over. In this climate enters Marvel Studios and releases a movie about a somewhat unknown character starring an actor who was best known for his various drug arrests. On paper, IM had “train wreck” written all over it. Instead, Marvel hit a grand slam! We fell in love with Tony Stark. Iron Man all of a sudden became a more popular (and more cool) hero than Superman or The X-Men, and above all Marvel let us into their absolutely insane master plan to bring all the Avengers together in one movie. Remember that this was the very first after-credit scene. And what did we get? Sam Jackson as Nick Fury saying that he wants to talk about the “Avengers Initiative.” HOLY CRAP!

Marvel has since grown into the behemoth we have today and as I’ve written, they excel at producing quality films. Yet, there will never been another “first time” experiencing Downey as Tony Stark. There will never be another “first time” picking up little unexpected easter eggs hidden throughout. There will never be another “first time” seeing Tony suit up in the iconic red and gold. And there will never be another first time hearing the word “Avengers.” Sure, Marvel will give us many other “firsts,” but “Iron Man” will always be my favorite because without it, we surely wouldn’t have the thriving universe we have today.

Well those were my thoughts. What say you, fellow nerd? What’s your favorite Marvel movie? What would your own list look like? Are you upset that I didn’t include “Howard the Duck?” SOUND OFF in the comments!


This has been a NERD ALERT!


Time Travel and Mutants – Thoughts on Marvel’s “All New X-Men” Vol. 1

All New Xmen better 1

**Spoilers ahead on a whole bunch of mutant related goodness. You’ve been warned nerds!**

The last few years have not been kind to Scott Summers, the former leader of the X-men known as Cyclops.

All new Xmen cyclops

His “fall from grace” started when the mutant population was decimated by the Scarlet Witch in the “House of M” storyline (the infamous, “No More Mutants!” finale). Cyclops went from being the leader of a band of mutants fighting for acceptance in a world that hates and fears them, to being the leader of a dwindling number of mutants fighting off the very real threat of extinction. Various writers have explored this fascinating evolution in Scott’s character which has led him to a darker and more militant personality. Gone is the wide eyed idealist fighting for Xavier’s dream of mutants and humans living in harmony, replaced with a general that will do anything, including bend or break his morals and ideals to ensure the survival of what remains of  his race.

It was this Cyclops that put together a clandestine team of mutant assassins led by Wolverine to permanently deal with specific threats to mutant-kind (The excellent Uncanny X-Force series). It was this Cyclops that eventually had a violent falling out with Wolverine because Logan was opposed to Scott training up the remaining mutant teenagers to be soldiers ready to strike against a world that hates mutants, resulting in Wolverine opening a new school, the “Jean Grey School for High Learning” (The “Schism” storyline). And it was this Cyclops that led the X-Men against The Avengers to gain possession of the returning phoenix force (In “Avengers vs. X-Men), in the hope that it’s power could save mutants.

A mutant militant leader willing to get blood on his hands to ensure the survival of the “dominant species.” You realize what he’s become don’t you? Scott Summers is the new Magneto of the Marvel Universe. In fact, a much tamer and less villainous Magneto had been a part of Scott’s team of X-Men. Crazy right?


Yet, despite all those developments Scott wasn’t what I’d consider a bad guy. However it was during the “Avengers vs. X-men” story where Cyclops crossed the line that did transform him into a villain to much of the Marvel universe. Five mutants, including Cyclops, were possessed by the Phoenix force. They were granted god-like power that easily rivaled that of Thor, but in return the Phoenix polluted and twisted their thoughts. Scott decided to unleash the “Phoenix Force Five” as they were now known to create a new world order – one that ensured the safety of the mutant race but through Scott and the Five ruling the world with a tyrant’s fist. When Cyclops’ mentor and father-figure Charles Xavier confronted Scott face to face in the hope of getting through to his surrogate son, Scott responded by murdering Xavier.


Eventually, Cyclops was defeated and the Phoenix force fractures were spread out across the globe which resulted in the reboot of the mutant gene, sparking new mutants to be born for the first time since the Decimation. When looking back on his actions, Scott regretted the killing of Xavier yet said he wouldn’t change what he had done because it was for the good of mutant kind.

What a jerk, right?

Anyway, this leads us to “All New X-Men” Vol. 1. Cyclops has broken out of prison and has formed his new leadership team, consisting of Magneto, Emma Frost and Magik. They travel the world recruiting new young mutants that have surfaced and are preparing to lead a new mutant revolution. Meanwhile, as the X-Men over at Wolverine’s school try to figure out how to respond to Cyclops, The Beast makes a very bold and desperate move to stop Scott and perhaps save his old friend in the process.

Like any good (and crackpot) scientific genius making a hail mary play, the Beast turns to time travel. He travels back to when the original X-Men were teenagers, gives them his version of the “Marty, we have to go back to the future,” speech and brings them all to the present, specifically to have the young Scott confront the present one. The Beast hopes that if older Cyclops sees himself back when he had hope and belief in Xavier’s dream of co-existence, then maybe Scott will remember who he once was and attempt to restore that which he’s broken.

Allnew Xmen2

I was very intrigued by this book when I first heard the premise. I’m a sucker for time travel and mutants, so of course I was in. Plus, it gave us an inventive way to bring Jean Grey back into the current Marvel universe without opting for yet another canned resurrection. When I finally got my hands on this first collection I had an absolute blast! Brian Michael Bendis (the writer) excels at writing teenage voices (read anything he’s done in the Ultimate Spider-Man universe for further proof) and he gives the teenage X-men a great combination of child-like wonder and confusion as they step foot into a darker future. Bendis also injects a healthy dose of his snarky humor throughout and in particular he’s written very entertaining interactions between the teenagers and their adult counterparts.

I very much enjoyed this first introductory arc. Additionally Bendis introduces subplots that interest me to see how they develop as the series continues, such as: Cyclops and his team having problems with their powers due to the Phoenix, the introduction of new mutant characters, the teenage X-men discovering what their adult counterparts have grown into (particularly Jean being exposed to her death and expansion of powers), and Wolverine dealing with Jean returning as a teen.

I highly recommend that you pick this series up! If you haven’t been following the X-Men for the last few years, this book does build off of those developments and you may not fully understand what is happening at first, but it’ll start to make sense soon enough.

That’s my humble (yet correct) opinion on “All New X-Men.” What’s yours? Do you like/dislike the idea of the original teenage X-men joining the current Marvel universe? Do you think this will create the world destroying paradox that Doc Brown warned Marty about? SOUND OFF in the comments below!

This has been a NERD ALERT!


Best of the Worst – My favorite “so bad they’re awesome” WWF Gimmicks.

WWE Hulk Hogan

Growing up, I LOVED watching the old school World Wrestling Federation (WWF). Every Saturday at noon was a huge highlight of my week as I’d gather with my siblings to watch the latest episode of “Superstars” and cheer on Hulk Hogan as the proud young “Hulkamaniac” that I was. In fact, the main reason we got cable television was so I could watch Hulk Hogan take on Sgt. Slaughter in the main event of Wrestlemania 7.

What I loved most was the over the top characters in the “federation era” of pro-wrestling. This was before the anti-heroes and everyday men such as Stone Cold and CM Punk that have since become all the rage. Back then, wrestling characters were truly that – characters! They had more in common with comic books than anything else. In wrestling lingo the character you portray is called your “gimmick.” For example, Hulk Hogan being a flag waving patriot telling kids to “say their prayers and eat their vitamins” was his gimmick. The Ultimate Warrior wearing face paint, running to the ring while growling and giving incoherant interviews was his gimmick, and so on (although the Warrior was kind of crazy for real). And while that era had some AMAZING gimmicks (Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, Macho Man, etc) there were also some that were awful. We’re talking pooping on top of poop” bad.  And that leads me to this list (Segway!)

What I’ve done is thought through my favorite era of wrestling (late 80s, early to mid 90s. Long before it became the “WWE.”) and listed out my personal TOP 5 WORST gimmicks of all time. And when I say “worst,” I mean in a “so bad that it’s actually pretty awesome, much like Sharknado” way. To me these are the definitive, “Seriously…what were they thinking?” gimmicks that I absolutely ADORE. Without further adieu…


WWE Duke Drose2

In the early 90s there was a seeming obsession with wrestlers having a “real job” in addition to wrestling. There was a wrestling plummer, Nascar racer, repo man, even a clown. But for whatever reason, my favorite “working man” moonlighting as a WWF superstar was Duke “The Dumpster” Drosee. If you haven’t figured it out through the clever nickname, Duke was a garbage man who also knew how to wrestle. He’d come to the ring carrying a trash can just to hammer home the idea that he did haul garbage for a living and before hitting his “finisher” he would often yell, “It’s time to take out the trash!”

I really do wonder what that meeting was like when corporate pitched the character to this guy. “Here’s the thing…you’re not going to be JUST a wrestler. But a garbage man who ALSO wrestles. It’ll be bigger than Hogan, guaranteed!” Despite whoever in the office sincerely believed this would work, Duke didn’t last long. As he’d put it, his gimmick was taken out with the trash (Zing!).


WWE papashango

Here we’ve got a voodoo shaman/priest/wacky mystical guy, who also happend to be a trained professional wrestler. Makes perfect sense, right? I remember watching him come to the ring wearing his “evil” top hat and carrying a fake skull filled with dry ice and the announcers having to act as if they were terrified of this guy. Talk about a true test of your vocal acting ability!

I also remember a rivalry he had with the Ultimate Warrior in which he “cursed” the Warrior, causing him to spit up black goo or something like that, and the announcers freaking out as if the Warrior had contracted ebola. The WWF office must have loved the black goo curse because Papa Shango kept doing it. When he was around the Warrior or even while being interviewed, someone would be struck down with the “black goo of voodoo.” Side note: “Black Goo of Voodoo” would make a killer band name. I call it. DIBS!

Shockingly enough, Papa Shango didn’t last. I guess selling Papa Shango branded top hats and “make your own voodoo curse kits” weren’t as big of sellers as the WWF had hoped.


WWE tugboat

Once again, I find myself wondering what the creative department was thinking with this gimmick. They have a legitimately large and intimidating wrestler yet instead of packaging him as a character appropriate for his physicality they put him in stripes, a sailor cap and named him Tugboat. If they desperately wanted a nautical themed wrestler why didn’t they at the very least pick a much cooler boat to name the poor guy after like, “Battleship” or even “The Living Air Craft Carrier.” Nope, they went with the little boat that tows all the bigger, much cooler star athlete boats into dock. Someone got paid for this idea. Probably a lot too!

The wrestler portraying the mighty Tugboat (ha!) eventually did find some mid-card success when he was repackaged as “Typhoon” and paired up with beloved wrestler heel (lingo for villain) Earthquake as the tag team, “The Natural Disasters.” At least some good came out of this guy being forced to dress like that on national television.


WWE Isaac Yankem

If I remember correctly, Jerry “The King” Lawler (a heel at the time) was bringing in an “enforcer” type to help him deal with whoever he was feuding with. Rather than bring in a wrestler who was also an actual bodyguard, The King opted to be protected by his evil dentist. Now I know there are some haters out there that don’t understand why any wrestler would cower in fear at the sight of a dentist. To those naysayer I say this – look, his last name is “Yankem.” Clearly he’s a sadistic dentist who likes to yank out teeth. Get it? **FACEPALM**

I can’t help but wonder what Glenn Jacobs (the man behind the dentist) thought the first time he suited up and saw himself in the mirror. Do you think he was excited at all? Or do you think he thought something along the lines of, “Well…it could be worse. I could have been a garbage man.”
Shockingly enough, Isaac Yankem did not catch on with the crowds and the dentist was soon gone from the WWF. For many, a terrible gimmick can be a career killer but fortunately for Glenn, years later he got to leave his evil dentistry career behind and was repackaged as the Undertaker’s long lost brother, Kane. A wildly successful gimmick that has been around for almost twenty years now. Not to bad for the former Dr. Yankem.

WWE Kane


WWE Undertaker 1

There may be some initial confusion with this one, so let me clarify what I mean. The Undertaker is easily one of the most successful (and profitable) gimmicks of not just the last twenty years, but of all time. So then how can he possibly be on my “best of the worst” list? If we’re honest, the modern version of the Undertaker is sort of cheesy still, yet I and countless others find his character of, “I’m the lord of darkness. Rest in piece fools“, to be pretty awesome and strongly cheer it on. Therefore I’m giving the modern Undertaker a pass and focusing on his gimmick back when he first made his debut. What often get’s forgotten in the Undertaker’s lore is that when he first entered the WWF, he was basically portrayed as being a zombie. That’s right…an actual zombie who decided to enter the world of professional wrestling!

Granted, the WWF never flat out called him that, but let’s look at the facts – he was often called an “undead phenom” that never felt pain, was insanely pale, hailed from Death Valley CA, was dressed as a mortician from the old wild west, consistently popped out of coffins, and was managed by a guy named “Paul Bearer.” With a name like Paul Bearer, I don’t think you have many career options other than managing a zombie in the wacky world of pro-wrestling.

WWE Undertaker 2

On paper, this sound like one of the dumbest gimmicks ever, right? But that’s where the undeniable talent of Mark Callaway (the man behind the ‘Taker) comes in. This SHOULD have been a stupid gimmick – an old western zombie wrestling for the world championship? Yet Mark gave far more than 100% commitment to the Undertaker character and inexplicably HE GOT OVER with the fans. Not just slightly either, but got over BIG and The Undertaker became the legendary phenom we now know. Just goes to show how true talent can take something seemingly awful and make something great out of it.

Those are a few of my old favorites, but what do you think nerds? Who were some of your favorite so bad they’re good wrestlers? Are you upset that I left the “Red Rooster” off the list? (not making this up – that was an actual gimmick!) SOUND OFF in the comments below.

This has been a NERD ALERT!




“Dorothy Must Die” – Thoughts on a radical new entry in the Oz legend

I’ve always had a soft spot for “The Wizard of Oz.”


Growing up, it aired on television once a year (back when a movie airing on local channels was a big deal), and it was always billed as “an event.” Something about Judy Garland, the songs, the look, the cheesiness and especially the excessive cheeriness always sucked me in. To this day, I can’t help but smile when watching it. Enjoying the film gave me an interest in additional stories told in the Oz universe. Specifically, I had often wondered what a sequel would look like. If Dorothy ever returned to Oz, what would happen? While not considered official canon, as a kid I did enjoy that Disney produced “Return to Oz” that presented a darker look at Dorothy’s potential return. I’m sure it doesn’t hold up today (sadly, most of our beloved childhood movies don’t), but it did build an excitement in me for additional stories told after “The Wizard of Oz.”

return to oz

That leads me to a new book I recently heard about and quickly purchased by author Danielle Page titled, “Dorothy Must Die.”


It’s a sequel (unofficial I’m sure) to Dorothy’s story with a unique premise – a down on her luck modern day Kansas teen named Amy Gumm is mysteriously brought to Oz via a tornado and discovers that Oz is now radically different from what is presented in the movie she grew up with. Turns out, Dorothy had returned many years prior and alongside her faithful trio (Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion) have actually conquered the land of Oz and are destroying it by mining all the magic to increase their own power. Did you catch that? In this story, Dorothy is the “big bad” and her companions are her evil minions. The premise is what sold me into picking up this book. I was very curious to see how this all played out.

Through the book, Amy comes face to face with the radically different versions of the classic foursome: Dorothy is now a power mad witch tyrannically ruling from the Emerald City and gleefully killing anyone in her way. The Tim Man is the law in Oz. Having retrofitted himself with weapons and armor he leads a Gestapo like police force that keeps Oz’s residents in line with Dorothy’s decrees. The Scarecrow has become a mad scientist brutally conducting bizarre experiments on living people and creatures with no concern for the blood he spills. And The Lion is no longer cowardly, but a savage, hulking monster that takes pleasure in killing and has the ability to drain the life essence from his prey via their fear. This version of Dorothy is far removed from the bright eyed one portrayed by Judy Garland, isn’t she? As Amy attempts to unravel the mystery as to why she was brought to Oz, she is recruited by a cabal of Wicked Witches who commit to train her for a single purpose – kill Dorothy.


A power mad Dorothy. Monsterous versions of her companions. Wicked Witches as the heroes. An assassination plot. And of course, Oz as the backdrop. All of this struck me as the ingredients to an incredible read. I devoured the book in about a day or so and…

…it was okay.

Keep in mind that this was solely my experience and others will differ. In fact, based on a brief reading of Amazon reviews there are many that are downright loving this book, and I think that’s awesome! I definitely didn’t hate or even strongly dislike this book. I was eagerly sucked into the first half or so but what turned out to be a HUGE bummer for me out was how the book ended.


Throughout the adventure, the book raises some important questions you expect to get resolved. The most pressing being, “How did Dorothy and company end up like this?” By the time you reach the conclusion, not only is that and many other questions not answered, but there isn’t even a resolution to the main plot. The book just ends. Not in a nice neat package. Not with much of a cliffhanger (although I assume what we were left with was supposed to be treated as such). It just ends and my immediate reaction was, “wait…what?” The payoff (or lack there of) was unfortunately a significant disappointment, and I was fairly “on board” up to that point.  My assumption is that there will be another book coming that will pick up where this one left off, yet with all due respect, this ending struck me as a “cop-out.” Don’t get me wrong – I think there can be multiple books built on this premise, but for me (again, this is just my experience with it), had the book ended differently I would have had an actual excitement for another installment. I’ve since seen that there is an official prequel e-book that details Dorothy’s return and potentially chronicles her Darth Vader like turn to the dark side. But again, I didn’t want to have to hunt those plot elements down in other volumes. I wish it had been contained in “Dorothy Must Die.”

Regardless, if you’re a fan of “The Wizard of Oz,” whether through the movie, the original L. Frank Baum books, or even the delightful recent retelling of those books by Marvel Comics (Dude…Skottie Young is one of my favorite artists today), “Dorothy Must Die” could very well be an enjoyable experience for you.

So what do you say nerds? Are you a fan of Oz lore? Are you interested in reading this book? Have you been forever curious if the Wicked Witch of the West just never showered because of the whole water as a weakness thing? SOUND OFF in the comments below.

This has been a NERD ALERT!



The Superior Peter Parker – Thoughts on “Goblin Nation.”

Superior Spidey1

**SPOILERS AHEAD** I’m talking about “The Superior Spider-Man” as a whole and spoiling the “Goblin Nation” arc like a boss. You’ve been warned nerds!

For the last year or so, the man behind Spider-Man’s mask has not been Peter Parker. **GASP**

Well, technically it was Peter’s face behind the mask. In fact, it was his whole body in the suit. But the man on the inside was not the lovable down on his luck Peter we all know and love.**DOUBLE GASP**

In a story twist  that can ONLY work in a comic book (which is why this medium is so awesome), a dying Doctor Octopus succeeds at achieving his greatest revenge against old Spidey – he manages to switch minds with Peter. Ock now inhabits and controls Peter’s body, Spidey powers and all while Peter was left to die in Octavius’ quickly withering body. After many “will Peter reverse this?” moments spread out over various issues, finally in The Amazing Spider-Man #700 Peter (in Ock’s body) fails to switch their minds back in time and dies trapped in Ock’s shriveled up old evil crackpot body. Yet, in his final act Peter uses what remains of their shared “mind link” (again, this is a comic so absurdity like that works) and manages to share all his life memories and emotions with Octavius. Ock experiences everything that made Peter the man and the hero he was.

Superior Spidey Ock Dies

Experiencing Peter’s heart and soul changes Otto for the better as he then decides to explore what “with great power comes great responsibility” means to him. While this experience hasn’t fully put Otto on the “side of the angels” (he did just steal a man’s entire life after all) It changes his outlook enough that he commits to continuing Peter’s legacy as Spider-Man and be a hero. But this is still Otto Octavius we’re dealing with and that means we’re now dealing with a Spider-Man that comes with a MASSIVE ego. Otto has determined to succeed where he feels Peter had failed as Spider-Man. He doesn’t intend just to be Spider-Man, but to be the SUPERIOR Spider-Man. And thus, we have the basic premise of “The Superior Spider-Man” series.

As you’d imagine, this controversial switch caused quite an uproar in the geek community. There were many pocket protectors hurled in anger and many comments left on message boards filled with strongly worded geek-speak as a result of this (beware the nerd rage!). After all, Spider-Man IS Peter Parker! How could Marvel take Spidey’s essence away? Being the HUGE Spidey fanboy that I am, I wasn’t exactly jumping for joy at this development either. But at the same time, despite author Dan Slott’s insistence that Peter was gone for good, I knew that eventually Peter would be back. In the mean time, regardless of your opinion of the mind switch at the very least we got a unique addition to the Spidey mythos (besides, nothing can be worse than “The Clone Sage,” right?).  Agree or disagree, I’ve got to hand it to Marvel for again not being afraid to take a giant risk with their storytelling.

As you’d expect, Ock’s version of Spider-Man was radically different from Peter’s. He wasn’t afraid to beat criminals to a bloody pulp “Batman style.” He shot a criminal dead. He alienated former friends and allies, including The Avengers. He blackmailed the mayor. And he even achieved his ultimate goal – eradicating all crime in NYC by utilizing an army of robot spiders and human minions. Doc Ock had succeeded! Or at least that’s what he thought until The Green Goblin revealed himself…

Superior Spidey 4

Turns out the Goblin had been recruiting all the goblin themed villains in Spidey’s world and  plotting behind the scenes all along (cue diabolical laugh sound fx). By the time “Goblin Nation” starts, Norman Osborn (the Green Goblin for you new nerds. Welcome, BTW) reveals himself in a MAJOR way. He’s taken over Spider-Man’s entire network of Spider-Bots rendering them useless against any Goblin, he destroys Spidey’s HQ and lab (Ock had a very public HQ named “Spider-Island”), and he manages to release yet another army of robotic Spider-Slayer robots against the web-slinger (no joke: Spider-Man being attacked by Spider-Slyers has happen at least 1,000 times). Norman basically conquers New York City and, as the cherry on top, reveals to Spidey that he knows he’s secretly Otto Octavius. Each step of the way, the Goblin continue to prove to Ock that he’s already a few steps ahead and finally even Otto comes to the conclusion that Osborn has him beaten.

Superior Spidey 6

The story itself was good, but not great (in my humble, yet correct opinion). I did like the approach of putting Osborn in charge of an army (“The Goblin King”) and his interactions with Octavius were very well written. However, like many Spidey “events” before it, unfortunately there was a decent amount of clutter and the pacing seemed to change speeds too abruptly. Still, on its own it made for a fun read. But the Green Goblin storyline alone is not why I picked these books up. The reason I EXCITEDLY grabbed each issue in this arc was because we got the climax Spidey-Geeks had been waiting over a year for  – the long awaited return of Peter Parker!

Superior Peter Returns

Octavius comes to the realization that he has failed and that only Peter can defeat the Goblin. Knowing that a remnant of Peter remains in his mind (that remnant has acted as a “ghost conscience” trying to keep Otto on the straight and narrow) , Otto sacrifices the life he stole by erasing all of his memories, giving full control back to Peter and telling him that he really was and is the true Superior Spider-Man. Peter then puts on the classic red and blue costume and saves the day like only he can.

Overall, buying this story arc was completely worth it just for that money show of Peter’s return. I may not have loved the entire “Superior Spider-Man” experiment, but again, I’m glad Marvel is willing to try crazy things in hopes of telling an interesting story. I’m eager to see how the stories to come after “Goblin Nation” portray how Peter deals with the aftermath of Ock living in his life for a year. Bridges have been burnt, new relationships have been formed and it’s not like he can simply say, “It’s not my fault…there was an evil super villain living in my head for the last year.” All of that has some great story potential and at the very least one Avenger is surely going to punch Peter in the face for something Ock did, and that’s just good comedy!

What about you? What do you think of whole “The Superior Spider-Man” experiment? Liked it? Did you picket outside Marvel HQ for them to undo it? SOUND OFF in the comments below!

This has been a NERD ALERT!


Thoughts on the Two BOMBSHELLS in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

winter Soldier 2

**WARNING** If the title wasn’t enough to clue you in, this post contains massive spoilers about “The Winter Soldier.” SPOILERS SPOILER SPOILERS ahead. You’ve been warned nerds!

Still with me? Alright, let’s jump in…

I got to see “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” on opening weekend and I loved it. In my humble (yet correct) opinion, it was one of the best films Marvel has done to date and it was pretty spectacular seeing The Winter Soldier himself come to life on the big screen. I was a big fan of Ed Brubaker’s arc where Bucky made his debut as the Winter Soldier, (grab it on ComiXology) and that added a lot to my enjoyment as I watched this movie. Plus, seeing Bucky’s bionic arm catch Cap’s shield in mid-air is such a cool fandom moment.

Winter Soldier Comic

Many cool things happened in this movie, but rather than give a summary of the whole film I wanted to share my geeky thoughts on the two GAME CHANGERS for the future of Marvel’s movies that took place during “The Winter Soldier.” Therefore without further adieu…


What we now know as the Marvel cinematic universe, the films that were developed by Marvel Studios (unlike the Spider-Man and X-Men franchises, which belong to Sony and Fox), began with “Iron Man.” That movie set the foundation for the eventual coming of the Avengers and introduced us to the “glue” that would hold all the Marvel films together – SHIELD. From introducing Agent Coulson to the very first “after credit scene” with Nick Fury teasing that this was the start of something big, SHIELD has made it’s presence known in every film since and has been the one constant in all the Marvel movies. Heck, SHIELD has become almost as popular as the superheroes themselves. You can buy SHIELD branded merchandise just like you can for The Avengers and SHIELD is even the premise of Marvel Studios’ first jump into television- ABC’s “Agents of Shield.” As we continued to move deeper into “Phase Two” of the cinematic universe I happily expected SHIELD to continue in its support role of the Marvel movies for years to come.

Then Marvel decided to change EVERYTHING…and it was awesome!

Turns out, Hydra had infiltrated SHIELD since it’s inception, meaning SHIELD has really been nothing more than a front for Hydra since after WWII. You know Hydra, right? That villainous organization founded by the Red Skull? That’s who Nick Fury has unknowingly been serving his whole career. To quote Fury from the “Secret Warriors” comic that dealt with this same twist, “I’ve been working for  the bad guys the whole time!”


Hydra had operatives at all levels of SHIELD, including at the highest ranks and in “The Winter Soldier” they made their presence known. There was no saving SHIELD and Cap makes the decision to burn SHIELD to the ground. The movie ends and the only thing left of SHIELD is ashes. Nick Fury has gone underground and is completely off the grid. Agent 13 has joined the CIA and Maria Hill now works for Stark Industries. Moving forward, SHIELD is (seemingly) dead and buried in the Marvel movies.

I did not see this coming and I love this development for many reasons, but the big one is that this was a BOLD move by Marvel! Destroying SHIELD definitely wasn’t the “safe route.” Marvel could have kept doing the “same old, same old” with SHIELD and it probably would have been fine. Yet in a move like this, we clearly see that Marvel isn’t okay with just “fine.” They want to continually keep the audience on the edge of their seats and doing that means taking risks. No longer having SHIELD has massive implications for the movies going forward.  What does this mean for characters like Fury, Cap and Widow? SHIELD defended the Avengers to world governments, without them could this mean harsher legislation towards the Avengers (setting up the superhero Civil War perhaps)? Will an organization similar to SHIELD take it’s place? There are numerous questions such as these for the future slate of movies (and the TV show) to now address.

I just love that the company that staked it’s reputation on a huge risk (individual movies leading to “The Avengers”) is still very willing to take unexpected, crazy plot-twists for the sake of telling an engaging and unforgettable story. Then again, I should have expected no less from the studio that is bringing me a movie starting a gun-toting raccoon and a living tree (sincerely, I can’t wait for Guardians). Now, onto the second bombshell…


I love Marvel’s “mid/after credit scenes!” At their best, they tease big developments that get you excited for the movies to come. What has become a great Marvel film tradition started after “Iron Man” with our first glimpse of Sam Jackson’s Nick Fury talking about the “Avengers initiative.” Peed my pants with excitement when that happened by the way. Then there was the Thanos reveal at the end of “The Avengers” (pooped my pants with excitement at that one) and most recently we had the Infinity Gauntlet teased at the end of “Thor: The Dark World.” Following suit, there was a mid credit scene in “The Winter Soldier.” And boy…it was a doozy!

We were introduced to Baron Strucker, which comic geeks knows as one of the big Hydra baddies in the Marvel world. In this mid-credit scene, Strucker walks through some sort of laboratory and we see that Hydra has Loki’s staff from “The Avengers” and are experimenting with its power. Strucker and his aid dialogue about conducting experiments on people and imply that some of these tests are resulting in “abilites.” Then we got the money shot – as they talked about “the twins,” we were given our very first look at Quiksilver and The Scarlet Witch.

Quick and Scarlet

Not only was this huge because we got a brief look at two characters we didn’t expect to see until “Age of Ultron,” but the bombshell here is that Marvel Studios may have indicated at how they’re getting around their mutant problem. If you don’t know – Marvel Studios does not have the movie rights to many of their mutant characters, which is why we haven’t seen or heard mention of the X-Men in the Marvel Studios slate, and potentially why we never will. To make matters worse, Marvel Studios doesn’t even have the right to use the word “mutant.” Crazy isn’t it that the company that popularized the idea of mutant characters sold away the right to be able to use it themselves?

That’s what made the fact that the Avengers sequel was debuting Quiksilver and The Scarlet Witch so interesting. In the comics, they’re both mutants and the twin children of Magneto. They originally joined The Avengers as a way to atone for their sins (they were originally members of Magneto’s evil brotherhood of mutants) and to help ease human/mutant relations. We’ve known that they would need a new, non-mutant origin and there was much speculation as to what it would be: super solider serum? Inhumans? Related to ALF? But if I understand this mid-credit scene correctly, then they’ve aquired their powers as a result of Hydra experimentation. Plus, Strucker indicated that there are many others being experimenting on by Hydra, which begs the question – is Hydra the origin for the cinematic universe’s equivalent of mutants? Time will tell, but regardless, this was yet another game changer featured in “The Winter Soldier.”

Alright nerds, what did you think of “The Winter Soldier?” Do you think SHIELD is gone for good? Did we just witness the dawn of mutants under a different name? Have you seen a great “Hail Hydra” meme? SOUND OFF in the comments below.

This has been a NERD ALERT!