Category Archives: Casual Comics Cast

Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness

Last week, the multiverse (of madness) finally descended upon Marvel fans everywhere. There’s a whole lot to unpack in this film – how this continues the story of two fan favorite characters, the return of director Sam Raimi to the Marvel universe, and the future of the MCU.

We’ll be posting our thoughts soon (for those of you who are still into “reading”), but in the meantime, join us on the Casual Comics Cast for a discussion of how well the movie met our expectations, what we learned about Doctor Strange and The Scarlet Witch, as well as our “Top 3 movie moments”.

The (actual) best Batman movie – Batman: The Movie

With the recent release of “The Batman” to cinemas – and now to HBO Max – the online debate has been reignited: “Which Batman movie is best?”

Of course, there are hardcore Christian Bale / Christian Nolan fans. These movies were critically well-received and Nolan is a master of film. If you want to see a real brain-bender, his “Memento” still ranks among my personal top-5 films of all time.

The classic Tim Burton series still has a broad group of advocates, although the 90s series of Batman blockbusters definitely sees its popularity wane as Burton and Keaton exit the franchise. Still, many fans regard this era of Batman movies in high regard.

And, for those who don’t recall just how silly the Burton movies could be, I’ll just leave this here.

The one era of Batman I don’t hear in the discussion ever is the 1966 “Batman: The Movie”, starring Adam West in the lead role. While I think this movie is tragically missing from the conversation, I wanted to check in and make sure that it’s just not a case of nostalgia. After all, there are still some people who have warm feelings for George Clooney in “Batman & Robin” that I can only explain to myself as an affinity for the film because it hit them at just the right age.

Even George seems skeptical.

So, for our latest podcast, we re-watched “Batman: The Movie” with someone who came of age in the more modern age of Batman franchises.

Personally, I would say that Adam West deserves to be ranked – and to be ranked pretty darn high – among actors who have brought the Caped Crusader to life on the big screen. But, how would that hold up – watching it again with a casual comics fan of a different generation? Is there something that modern audiences will still enjoy about the Dynamic Duo?

And, most importantly, is there any “through line” connecting this Batman that’s, decidedly, from a different era to the more modern takes on the hero?

In this episode, we’ve got:

  • A recap of Batman: The Movie (1966) – the good, the bad, and the just plain silly
  • Hero hindsights – What do Adam West and Burt Ward bring to the characters of Batman and Robin, and how do they stack up in the annals of Batman movies?
  • Rogues Recap – With The Joker, The Penguin, The Riddler, and Catwoman all working to confound the heroes and take over not just Gotham, but (gasp) THE WORLD, how does this super-villain squad fare in the overall oeuvre of Batman films?
  • What are the common threads from Batman: The Movie that survived through the ages and are still present in 2022’s “The Batman”?

So join us, as we dive head-first into BATMAN: THE MOVIE!

Marvel’s Multiverse of Madness / House of M

With the premiere of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness rapidly approaching, we thought it was high-time to take a deep breath and reflect on the Marvel Multiverse – what is it, what’s led up to this point, and where might it be going?

On our latest podcast, we’re discussing –

Marvel’s What If… – A quick series overview, including which episodes are a great entry point into the series for those who have never seen it and which episodes are the absolute essentials if you’re going to see Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Most Important Variants in the Multiverse

By now, even Casual Marvel fans have heard of the main universe in Marvel continuity – Earth 616. But, what are the other variants that the MCU has explored already – both in television and film? And which are the ones that are key to the future of the MCU? Marvel Zombies – check!

House of M – An in-depth (grab a beverage and sit back to relax, it’s like 25 minutes) review and recap of the seminal comics event from Marvel. This Scarlet Witch centric mini-series takes place on Earth-58163 (see what we mean about the “most important variants in the multiverse”). The series from Brian Michael Bendis, originally published in 2005 introduces a multitude of storylines that will definitely influence not only the Doctor Strange film, but also Wanda’s overall arc and key role in the next Phase of the MCU. You’re going to want to know the basics of House of M and Earth-58163 to get the maximum / Maximoff from these movies!

So, settle in and join us as we dive into MARVEL’S MULTIVERSE!

Moon Knight – The Essentials

Moon Knight premiered on Disney+ last week, and it’s been a smashing success so far. I am so glad to see everyone so pumped for this long-underseen hero from the Marvel Universe. In last week’s podcast, we discussed Moon Knight’s history in comics, and we recapped the “must-haves” for the show to be a real representation of Moon Knight that fans of the comics would enjoy. A quick recap for those who don’t have the time to listen to the whole show.

The Core of Moon Knight’s History

There are five real keys to the character’s long-lasting appeal that haven’t changed since the character really took life in the seminal Moon Knight series written by Doug Moench in 1980. These are the key core character attributes and pieces of his origin and history that, while they have been intrepreted in various ways, are so critical to Moon Knight that leaving one of them out is a huge miss.

Marc Spector – Mercenary / Global Adventurer

The shortcut, but inaccurate, reference to Moon Knight is always “he’s Marvel’s Batman”. Moon Knight’s origin and background could not be further from DC’s caped crusader.

While the Moon Knight TV series introduces us to Steven Grant, it’s already given a nod to “Marc” – who is the true “secret identity” of Moon Knight that comics fans are most familiar with. In Moon Knight #1 (1980), readers are introduced to Marc Spector – a mercenary for hire working in Egypt for a brutal gang of treasure seekers led by The Bushman. While Bruce Wayne / Batman are inextricably linked to Gotham, Spector / Moon Knight are adventurers with the globe as their stalking ground.

I’m glad to see that the Disney+ series is already taking the cue from the comic with a wide-open adventure-scape that is not confined to a single city or location. Off to a good start here.

Moon Knight – Fist of Khonshu

The first Moon Knight comics I ever latched onto was the 1985 series “Moon Knight: Fist of Khonshu” written by Alan Zelentz. But, Khonshu has been present in almost every Moon Knight story since the beginning – including being key to Moon Knight’s very origin.

As a mercenary, Marc Spector turned against the gang that hired him to raid treasures in Egypt. When he did so, he was left for dead in the desert – set out to wander in the hot sun until his expiration. Exhausted, Marc stumbled into an ancient Egyptian tomb, where he quite literally died.

Lying in the tomb, the Egyptian god – Khonshu – brought Marc back from the grave to serve as his spirit of vengance here on Earth. Most of Moon Knight’s supernatural abilities are tied to the moon and to his patron god, Khonshu. The downside is that Moon Knight and Khonshu don’t always see eye-to-eye and are often in conflict with one another.

Viewers should expect Khonshu – and other Egyptian gods – to play a large role in this series. When you’re hearing the deep voice in Steven’s head on the show – that’s Khonshu speaking to him (with the deeply melodious pipes of F. Murray Abraham). You’re also already seeing nods to this in the gift shop where Steven works and his statement that not all the panoply of the Egyptian gods are represented on the poster they’re looking at.

The Resurrection from the Dead

As referenced above, the key to Moon Knight’s origin is that he actually died and was brought back to life by Khonshu. This explains why Khonshu has such direct, intense mind-to-mind contact with Moon Knight/Steven/Marc, and why they are compelled to serve his will – up to a point. This component is also critical to the next item on the list.

Marc / Steven’s death and ultimate rebirth has already been referenced in an aside on the show. Early on in the first episode.

Just about five minutes into the show, Steven is talking to a young girl about Egyptian mummies and the underworld. He tells her how they would remove all the organs from the body, except for the heart, for the process. Steven explains that they left the heart because they believed that the deceased needed the heart so they could be judged in the underworld and “only the worthiest would be allowed to pass into the Field of Reeds”.

The girl’s response to him is, “And did it suck for you? Getting rejected from the Field of Reeds?”

Puzzled, Steven can only say “That doesn’t make sense, because I’m not dead, am I?”

Somehow, this little girl knows what’s up with Moon Knight and Steven’s death and resurrection.

Multiple Personalities

So what’s with all the Steven/Marc stuff that going on in the series to-date? Another Moon Knight essential is that he is a character with multiple personalities. I hope that the TV series is able to present this in a more forward-thinking way than the early comics that often referenced “split personality” or “Dissociative Identity Disorder”. As our culture’s understanding of mental health continually evolves, I think that the comics have found a way to hang onto this aspect of the character in a less, ummm… frankly a less offensive manner.

The best way it’s been explained – to my thinking – was in the 2014 series from Warren Ellis. It’s described this way. When Khonshu raised Marc from the dead, Marc’s mind was in direct contact with that of the ancient Egyptian God. Khonshu has four main aspects – Pathfinder, Embracer, Defender, and the Watcher of Overnight travelers.

As a mercenary, Marc had developed many aliases to help him do his work – the most relevant being Marc Spector, Steven Grant, and Jake Lockley. As Khonshu “remade” Marc in the process of his resurrection, each of those four aspects grabbed and intensified one of Marc’s aliases, truly splitting Marc’s mind in a way that – when one of those three aliases/identities (plus, the fourth being “Moon Knight”) is engaged – the others are so far in the background that they “disappear”.

The allies of Moon Knight

In the comics, from day one, there are two constant presences in Marc / Moon Knight’s corner: Marlene and Jean Paul Duchamp (aka – “Frenchy”)

If there’s going to be a good Moon Knight series, at least one – but hopefully both of these characters will have to be enlisted to his aid. Again, we’re off to a good start here. In the phone that Steven retrieves from a hidden spot in his apartment, there are dozens of missed calls from a mystery woman named Layla. And, one missed call from “Duchamp”. This 100% has to be Jean Paul, and Moon Knight fans are excited.

Jean Paul Duchamp was a French soldier who later left to become a soldier of fortune. He’s an ace helicopter pilot and Moon Knight’s tightest associate – eventually designing a custom helicopter for Moon Knight and serving as the pilot on Moon Knight’s most critical missions.

The Next Phase of the Moon (Knight)

With those five elements in place, the Moon Knight stories can flex in almost any direction. In the most recent comics, Moon Knight is most frequently associated with the dark, supernatural side of the Marvel Universe. He serves as “Protector of those who Travel by Night” and founded the Midnight Mission to aid those who are hounded by vampires, werewolves and the like.

With the MCU starting to incorporate the supernatural elements of the books into the next phase of the movies – beginning with Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness – Moon Knight would easily slide into those stories. There’s already been a standalone Blade movie announced, and Marvel’s vampire hunter had a voiceover cameo in The Eternals, so there’s a strong possibility we’ll be seeing Moon Knight on the big screen in the not-too-distant future.

And with Charlie Cox’s Daredevil appearing in Spiderman: No Way Home, plus the former Netflix series moving to Disney+, can a Marvel Knights team-up on the small screen be far behind?

Members of that team included a lot of characters already introduced – besides Daredevil, the line-up consisted of Black Widow, Dagger, Moon Knight, Shang-Chi and Luke Cage. And the team was originally formed to capture – The Punisher!

Hope this list of essentials helps you all enjoy the series even more. If you’re interested in more, we recap several early, seminal issues of Moon Knight on our most recent podcast – the real Moon Knight talk starts around the 15 minute mark.

Cheers!

  • CCG

History of Moon Knight – a Just in Time overview

It’s the night I’ve been waiting for, seemingly forever. Moon Knight debuts on Disney+ today, and we’re talking about Moon Knight through the decades in comics. Who is Moon Knight, what are his origins, powers, and secrets? We discuss all of this and more on the latest Casual Comics Cast.

Coming up on the next show – what was his best costume. My vote? Moon Knight classic! (seen above)

I’ll be back this weekend to post a full update – for those who prefer to read the details, but in this episode, we focus on the core of the character.

What really makes Moon Knight, well… “Moon Knight”? By the end of this show, we’ve got a pretty good top-5 list of the things that are so central to the character that any show failing to touch on those elements isn’t really an accurate representation.

For instance, the above panel may not be Moon Knight canon

But, the exciting thing we discovered in reading these books is just how flexible the character is and how different writers have emphasized different facets of Moon Knight to create compelling stories that are completely different in tone and style.

Whether you haven’t watched the show yet and are looking for some background, or you’ve already started in on the series and want to explore further, this is the episode of the Casual Comics Cast you’re looking for!

Books we discuss are:

  • Werewolf by Night #32 (1975) – First Appearance of Moon Knight
  • Moon Knight #1 (1980) – First solo/standalone title, written by Doug Moench
  • West Coast Avengers #21 (1987) – Moon Knight joins the team, written by Steve Englehart
  • Moon Knight #1 (2014) – Modern interpretation of Moon Knight, written by Warren Ellis
  • Moon Knight #1 (2021) – Currently running Moon Knight title, written by Jed Mackay
Hi – long time listener, first time embedder. Hope this works!

And if that player’s not working (I’m new at embedding – let me know if you like it), the direct link is here:

https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/casualcomicsguy/episodes/2022-03-29T15_52_01-07_00

Cheers!

  • CCG

Great Comics for Casual Readers – Publisher Recommendation

If you’re a casual comic book reader, there are more barriers than there should be in enjoying the medium.

For the established publishers – like Marvel and DC – the continuity and sheer number of titles make it hard to know where to jump in and feel confident that you’ll get the story they are trying to tell. For the mass of other publishers, titles are not familiar and it’s even harder to know if you’ll like the book because you don’t even know the characters.

If that describes how you’re feeling when thinking about heading to the local comic shop – or looking for comics online – there’s a new(ish) publisher on the block whose books you simply have got to try out. 

Ahoy Comics has a whole slate of books that are perfect for casual fans – you don’t need to know decades of continuity or to be reading on a weekly basis to enjoy the incredible wit and amazing art in their titles. We’ve talked about a couple of their books in the past, but in our latest podcast, we’re shining a spotlight on our favorite publisher to recommend to comics readers. And I promise you – no money changed hands here – as much as I wish it had – their comics are just that dang good.

Ahoy Comics has been putting out an amazing slate of books since 2018. We first encountered them with “Captain Ginger: Dogworld” in early 2020, and we’ve been hooked ever since.

In our latest podcast, we’ve got in-depth reviews of:

The Wrong Earth: Night and Day #1

Wrong Earth: Night and Day #1
Author: Tom Peyer; Artist: Jamal Igle

My Bad #1

My Bad #1
Author: Mark Russell, Bryce Ingman; Artist: Peter Krause

Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Death #1

Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Death #1
Author: Mark Russell, Stuart Moore; Artist: Peter Sneibjerg, Frank Cammuso 

Plus, there’s way too much discussion about Hostess Fruit Pies and other snacks – all here for you on this episode of the Casual Comics Cast. Available below, or wherever you listen to podcasts these days.

https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/casualcomicsguy/episodes/2022-02-26T04_50_45-08_00

Cheers!

  • CCG

Comic Books for Casual Readers: Death of Dr. Strange + One Star Squadron

If you are interested in comic book, but overwhelmed by the selection at your local comic book shop or online, you’re not alone. Starting out (or re-starting after some time away from the hobby) is intimidating. With most Marvel and DC titles having decades of continuity, it can be hard to know where to jump in.

Recently, we’ve been covering more titles that we hope are good starting points for casual comics readers. We’re reading new comics and offering reviews from comic book newcomers and novices to help you answer the question “What’s a good comic book for casual readers”?

On this episode, we are reviewing two titles:

Death of Dr. Strange #1 (Marvel Comics)

Death of Dr. Strange #1 (Marvel Comics)
Written by: Jed Mackay

One Star Squadron #1 (DC Comics)

One Star Squadron #1 (DC Comics)
Written by: Mark Russell

We discuss not just how good and fun these comics are, but how much will new readers be able to enjoy the books. You can listen to the Casual Comics Cast on your favorite streaming platform, or at the link below.

https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/casualcomicsguy

We hope you’ll join us!

  • CCG

Batman: Fear State

Holy missing posts, Batman! I just realized that I’m behind on updating the Casual Comics blog with the latest podcast news.

At the wrap of the cross-title Batman mega-event, “Batman: Fear State”, we tasked our best Bat-buddy, Ryan with reading the full series and talking to us about it. The main story appears in Batman #112 – #117, and was almost immediately collected in a trade paperback.

We discuss how accessible this book is for casual comics fans and talk about some of the things you might need to know in order to enjoy the story.

Also, we dive into the limited series, “Superman ’78”, which picks up the direct continuity from the “Superman” movie, starring Christopher Reeves and Margot Kidder. We talk about the book with an eye toward how fans of the original movie might find the new comic series. (Spoiler: We think it’s pretty great)

Listen in at the link below – or find the episode on your favorite podcast listening app. We’re almost everywhere at this point – Spotify, Apple Music, Google… you name it.

https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/casualcomicsguy/episodes/2022-01-13T15_59_13-08_00

Cheers!

  • CCG

Casual Comics Cast – Ep 240: Spider-Man Life Story (and more)

Our resident Spidey fanatic – Marc – joins this episode to discuss the graphic novel “Spider-Man Life Story”, written by Chip Zdarsky with art by Mark Bagley. 

This unique take on the legendary Marvel hero follows Peter Parker from the origin of Spider-Man in 1962 through the next through the six decades of his life placing the major milestone events in Marvel continuity and Spider-man’s own legendary exploits into the era when they actually happened in Peter’s single lifetime.

Plus, we rank our own “Sinister Six” – the six best/coolest/most essential villains in Spider-man’s gallery of rogues.

Listen wherever you find your favorite podcasts – Apple, Google, Spotify, whatever… Or, you can use the link below.

https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/casualcomicsguy/episodes/2021-11-06T08_07_18-07_00

Casual Comics Cast – Ep 238: Marvel’s Civil War

In the vein of our popular “Secret Wars” series recap, we’re talking about the comic series that inspired the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Captain America: Civil War”.

This 7-issue mini-series published in 1999 ignited the debate on “who watches the watchmen” in Marvel Comics, as a tragic event leads to attempted government regulation on the actions of super-powered individuals.

The series features almost every Marvel hero (and villain) including  Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man, the New Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and the Thunderbolts!

And now we’ve read it – so you don’t have to!

Join us as we review Marvel’s Civil War!
https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/casualcomicsguy/episodes/2021-07-24T07_43_57-07_00