Category Archives: Casual Comics Guy
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”.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
And if that player’s not working (I’m new at embedding – let me know if you like it), the direct link is here:
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.
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.
We’re back with another podcast and a discussion of everyone’s favorite mutant squad: The X-Men
On this episode, we discuss our favorite X-Men characters and review:
Giant Size X-Men #1 (1975) – the introduction of the “new” X-Men that we all know and love.
Astonishing X-Men vol. 1 (1995) by Joss Whedon – a more modern take on the X-Men from the fan favorite creator.
Plus, we talk about which of our X-Men are our favorites and play an X-Men version of “Date, Marry, Kill”.
We hope you’ll join us from your favorite podcast platform or at the link below.
In this episode, we’re talking about the new trailer for THE BATMAN with Timmy Hall, host of the Buckeye Show on 97.1 the Fan.
Topics discussed include:
- The Batman Trailer
- The seminal comic book, The Killing Joke
- The previous Batman films from – Nolan, Burton, and yes – even the Schumacher films.
And, Timmy Hall selects his Marvel Cinematic Universe All-Star squad – the top 5 heroes he’d want at his back if he had to face down Thanos in a rematch.
This episode is recorded in front of a live studio audience.
No kidding, we really do have a live studio audience. His name is Ryan and he’s here to talk about Batman. And to correct last episode’s disparaging remarks about a classic DC character – Leslie Thompkins.
This week, the Casual Comics Cast reviews of the following comics and beers:
• Red Sonja and Vampirella meet Betty and Veronica number eight, by Dynamite Comics
• Quantum and Woody number one, by Valiant Comics
• All Luck Comics number one, by All Luck Comics
• Skittley Bittley Bop, from Hoof Hearted Brewery
• Opera Cream Stout from Platform Beer Company
• And Bierwolf, from Great Lakes Brewing Company
Plus, other comic-related nonsense!
So, settle in with your favorite beverage and enjoy the show!
A couple of quick housekeeping items before I get to the Hot New Comics of the Week:
I was promised help this week from my podcast mates. They did not deliver. And, thus, these picks are once again the sole responsibility of me – your friendly Casual Comics Guy. I’ll take all the blame (and of course, the accolades) on these picks.
But, do take a moment to listen to the podcast if you haven’t yet. And feel free to leave comments in the web zone below.
Casual Comic Picks of the Week
Frankenstein Undone #1
OK – it’s the first issue in a series. Just the right time to get on board with the comic. The Frankenstein myth is also an easy gateway into an unfamiliar title.
Mignola takes on Frankenstein! Frankenstein’s creator lies dead in the icy grip of the Arctic, and the monster searches for a new purpose. Just as he thinks he’s found one with a group of unlikely companions, disaster strikes–and the monster is catapulted out of Mary Shelley’s novel and into the world of Hellboy. Bridging Mary Shelley’s original Frankenstein novella and Mike Mignola’s Frankenstein Underground, this series brings together Mignola, Scott Allie, Ben Stenbeck, Brennan Wagner, and Clem Robins for an all-new horror adventure in the far north.
I’m not familiar with Mignola’s “Frankenstein Underground”, but he’s got an excellent track record for interesting gothic tales. Oh, so many years ago, I loved Fred Saberhagen’s “The Frankenstein Papers”, and the solicit for this comic gives me the same chills.
Clue TPB Candlestick
I’ve heard a ton of great things about this series from the fine gentlemen over at the Two Headed Nerd podcast. If you don’t already listen, you should.
Also, in running down my top movies of 2019, I find myself putting “Knives Out” easily in the top 5. So, maybe it’s time for the reinvention of the murder mystery genre.
Who did it? How’d they do it? And where? Answer these classic questions and solve the mystery in this graphic novel based on the timeless detective game. Cartoonist auteur Dash Shaw unleashes his murderous imagination on the quirky, thrilling, and mysterious world of Clue! Ripe with puzzles, secrets, and lies, everyone’s a suspect in this suspense-filled whodunit! Was it Miss Scarlet in the conservatory with the lead pipe? Suspicions mount as bodies start piling up.
More than 50% of my interest is from the raves that this got from the THN podcast. Now that it’s in a collected edition, sounds like the perfect time to pick it up.
Red Sonja and Vampirella Meet Betty and Veronica #8
That’s a lot of characters from a lot of different universes all packed into one comic. How did they get through seven issues without me knowing about this title? Guess it’s my lack of ability to get to the comic shop every week.
Ever wonder how Red Sonja and Vampirella could make it to Riverdale to hang out with Betty and Veronica? Now you’re about to find out! But to do so, you’ll have to travel deep into interstellar space, for the answer lies not on Earth, but on Drakulon! And the revelation is TWICE as bananas as you could imagine!
Did I ever wonder… I absolutely did as soon as I read the title. If it was only as bananas as I could imagine, I might just wait. But it’s apparently TWICE as bananas as I can imagine. And that’s pretty darn bananas. Count me in for this issue.
I’m going to go ahead and assume that there’s no exaggeration going on here, and that this book is 2x as much craziness as I can imagine and name “Red Sonja and Vampirella Meet Betty and Veronica #8” as my Casual Comics Hot Pick of the Week!
Until we meet again… Cheers!