Tag Archives: comic book

10 MARVEL SUPER-HEROES WHO DESERVE THEIR OWN MOVIES!

We’ve seen the X-Men, Spider-Man, Thor, Captain America, The Hulk, The FF, Guardians of the Galaxy, and even Ant Man. On TV we have Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Daredevil. But there are plenty of less well-known Marvel Super-Heroes who possibly deserve their own movies. Here’s a selection of some of the best candidates:

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Nova

Teenager Richard Ryder (because every superhero needs an alliterated name) gets blasted with a space ray and turned into a human rocket! Nova was never much more than a Spider-man clone. In the Psychedelic Seventies he fought such far-out cats as The Sphinx, Megaman (whose key attribute was having no face), and The Condor (a guy with wings) amongst others before becoming a member of the less-than-super New Warriors. James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy introduced us to the Nova Core of Xanthar, the alien race that gave Nova his powers. But surely anyone with a costume this cool deserves his own movie?

 

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Dazzler

Interesting fact: Dazzler was supposed to be a movie right from the start. The character was ushered into the pages of X-Men purely to plug an onscreen character who was to both sing and act! The movie and the songstress never materialized, but Alison Blaire, a disco queen who can shoot light out of her body, became a regular member of the X-Men. With the rocking ’70s soundtrack of Guardians of the Galaxy, and her discotastic costume, has the time finally come for the Dazzler to shine?

 

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Moon Knight

Of all the characters in the Marvel Universe, few have undergone so many changes as Moon Knight. Appearing in Werewolf by Night #32 as a mercenary who was given a silver costume to hunt down the titular werewolf, Marc Spector morphed into a caped crusader to rival even Batman, before becoming endowed with supernatural powers courtesy of Egyptian god Konshu, dying, being resurrected, being briefly possessed by a demon, infected with lycanthropy, and even suffering multi-personality disorder from the pressure of adopting too many disguises a-la Mission Impossible!

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Captain Britain

The good captain was designed by Marvell UK in the 1970s to be Britain’s answer to Captain America. Unfortunately, he had a shaky start. Given a magic staff by Merlin (yes, the King Arthur one) Brian Braddock becomes a superhuman powerhouse who fought the Red Skull alongside Steve Rogers. The series hobbled along until scribe Alan Moore reinvented the character in the 1980’s as a strapping blonde mimbo who survived rather than won his battles against foes far cleverer than himself. Later stories had him joining comedy superhero team Excalibur alongside several former X-Men. But maybe it’s time Cap had his own movie. Heck, it worked for Ant-Man. Interesting factoid: his sister is Betsy Braddock, aka Psyclocke!

 

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The Son of Satan

Yes, you heard right. It’s fair to say that Marvel in the 1970s was… experimental. One of the better inventions of that time was Daimon Hellstrom, the son of Satan himself! Debuting in the pages of Ghost Rider #1 Hellstrom is constantly at war both with his own infernal nature and his demonic dad. He eventually got his own series before it was cancelled due to a panel that was considered too blasphemous ever to be reproduced! Surely a character this dark deserves his own TV show!

 

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Power Pack

Louise Simonson and June Brigman created this unique superhero team of children. The Power family find themselves in the middle of a secret war between the warlike alien Snarks (who look like walking crickets) and the peace-loving Kymellians (who look like sea-horses). When a Kymelian sacrifices himself to save the kids, they each gain one of his super-abilities. The series was ground-breaking for its realistic psychology, showing the kids scared, brave, petulant and spoiled, just like real kids. I have a soft spot for Power Pack. It’s my very favourite comic, and I’ll personally love to see it become a live action movie, if only as an antidote to all the dark and depressing fare that’s been served up recently.

 

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Machine Man

Here’s a character who’s better than he looks. Aaron Stack, a.k.a. Machine Man, is an unusual comic book superhero, because he’s a robot! X-51 is a sentient and rather sensitive android. When his creator is killed, he decides to go off and tackle crime, along with his Go-Go-Gadget arms and legs. Created by comics legend Jack Kirby in the back pages of “2001: A Space Odyssey” , X-51 was also memorably drawn by Spider-Man artist Steve Ditko. There’s something both moving and creepy about a character trying to pretend to be human, even down to wearing a latex face mask and dark glasses! One of Marvel’s more interesting characters.

 

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Howard the Duck

I know what you’re thinking. But try and forget the sickeningly-sweet George Lucas aberration and think more along the lines of a rather adult ALF. Now you’re closer to Steve Gerber’s bizarre vision of a duck trapped in a world not of his own making. Hailing from another dimension, cigar-smoking, wise-cracking Howard finds himself in Cleveland and up to his feathers in trouble. The comic was a satirical take on superheroes that sometimes had to be read to be believed. Vegetarian supervillain, anyone?

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Doctor Zero and Saint George

In the mid-1980s Marvel’s mature comics line, Epic, launched a series of titles outside the Marvel Universe. “The Shadowline Saga” involved a world where superheroes were non-existent, but where a second race lived alongside our own. Possessing awesome powers, some of these were sinister, others heroic, but none were what they seemed. Cue Doctor Zero, an immortal who pretends to be a superhero. Is he really a supervillain, or does he have a more Machiavellian scheme for the human race? Saint George, meanwhile, is a human priest who is given a suit of technologically advanced armour and sent on a crusade to rid the world of dangerous “shadows”. Each series, along with another about a super team called “Powerline” ran for a limited time before being wrapped up. But the series crated some memorable characters and had some interesting artwork by Klaus Janson and Bill Sienkiewicz (of TV’s “Legion” fame), and just might be something fresh and different compared to the existing Cinematic Universe. Time for a change, anyone?

 

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So there you have it. Plenty of weirder options for Marvel to explore. And I haven’t even mentioned Alpha Flight, Ka-Zar, The Human Fly, Killraven, The Living Mummy, Skull the Slayer, or Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner! Do you agree with my choices or have I left out anyone you’d like to see? Maybe you have a burning desire to see a West Coast Avengers movie or to witness the Avengers clash with the Squadron Supreme? Food for thought for the movie gods at Marvel Studios.

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Eastercon: Mancunicon convention report 2016!

This year’s science-fiction/fantasy convention EASTERCON took place in Manchester, England. Mancunicon, as it was called, occupied four floors of the iconic Hilton Hotel, a slender glass-and-steel building shaped like the number “1”. The convention gathered together sci-fi and fantasy authors, fans, publishers, gamers and cosplayers. There were almost a thousand people in attendance, and one of them was yours truly.

The Hilton Tower... in the sun.

The Hilton Tower… in the sun.

 

Now, I’ve been to FantasyCon before and the odd sci-fi movie fan convention. But I’ve never been to Eastercon, so I was unsure what to expect. Fortunately, some friends of mine from the Manchester Speculative Fiction Group were also there, so there was always someone to chat (or moan) to.

The first thing we did was gather at the bar. This was (unsurprisingly) the focal point for the Con. However, the Hilton is a very tall, narrow building so sometimes the bar became very crowded. This never became a real problem, but it did make queuing for the two lifts difficult. The small meeting rooms also meant that several panels were oversubscribed. I was sorry to have missed the panel on rare sci-fi and fantasy TV shows of the 1950s -1970s. But on the whole things ran pretty smoothly.

The atmosphere was, for the most part, very friendly, with everyone united by a love of sci-fi and fantasy. Although some were more hard-core than others – there was a cosplay competition on Saturday for those dedicated enough. I am not the most gregarious person in the world. But even I found myself chatting to a diverse array of people over the weekend.

My writing group has an anthology called “REVOLUTIONS” out at the moment, so this was an ideal place to plug the book. We sneaked up a few posters and shifted quite a few copies. My only regret was that I didn’t manage to prepare any advertising material for my own novel. But then Easter always sneaks up on me.

The events programme was varied and jam-packed. This year’s guests of honour were authors Sarah Pinborough, David L Clements, Aliette de Bodard, and Ian MacDonald. But many more took part, and topics ranged from hard sci-fi to sewing. So there was something for everyone… even a cookery class!

So after catching up with my fellow attendees, I made my way to the first panel…

Welcome to Eastercon – Saturday

This was highly informative and useful. It soon became apparent that Eastercon has a culture all of its own. Some people had been going literally all their lives, while the oldest member was a mere 90 years old.

Afterwards, I browsed the dealers’ rooms. Against my better judgment I gave into temptation and walked away with an armful of beautiful 1970s paperback editions. But some deals are just too good to pass up!

Diversity in SF

The first panel I attended was about diversity in SF/F. This was a very intelligent and nuanced discussion about how difficult it is for authors who are not white and middle class to get published. The speakers made their points with eloquence and precision. Afterwards, I found myself with a far greater appreciation of issues of race and gender.

MSF Group’s “Crit Sandwich” – Saturday and Sunday

Next day, Manchester’s SpecFic group held the first of two long feedback sessions for budding authors. My fellow group members and I reviewed 3 pieces each day of up to 10,000 words per author. The sessions were very enjoyable, with some interesting, varied and (intentionally) amusing samples of work. All those who took part said they found it very useful. I take my hat off to them, as I’m not sure if I’d have had the courage to submit my work to complete strangers at my first Eastercon!

Jo Fletcher Books Launch – Sebastian de Castell

There were several book launches over the weekend. We ascended the lift to the Presidential Suite on the 22nd floor for a reading by the author. The view and the plentiful red wine made this a memorable occasion, and the publishers were open to questions from anyone who attended. Indeed, the wine flowed a little too freely on occasion, with several people complaining of feeling “under the weather” as the Con wore on!

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..And the view from the 22nd storey in the rain.

 

The Fuzzy Set of Horror

That evening I attended a lively discussion on the boundaries of horror, given by three gothic/supernatural fantasy writers with helpful contributions from horror grandmaster Ramsey Campbell. There were some hotly debated questions about Waterstones’ policy of no longer segregating horror from fantasy and science-fiction as well as on the merits of zombie films.

Later, we sampled the gastronomic delights of Manchester (there are many) before returning to a packed bar and hobnobbing with anyone who would talk to us. But after over ten hours on my feet, I was exhausted. So I limped off to bed to grab four hours’ sleep before Day Three.

Trailblazing Comics of the 1980s – Sunday

Next morning – my head buzzing with a litre of coffee – I took part in my first ever panel. Thankfully, it was a subject I can ramble on about for hours – comic books. My fellow panellists Karen Brenchley and Tony Keen provided the focus of the debate. Together, we discussed which creators shaped the comics field in the 1980s and beyond.

Inevitably, “The Dark Knight Returns” and “Watchmen” were mentioned. But we also managed to include such diverse matters as 2000AD, John Byrne, and “Cerebus the Aardvark”! The attendees called us on our knowledge, so we had to be on our toes. But we all brought something different to the table and managed to give the audience a broad overview of both mainstream and indie comics in the decade. Afterwards, we got chatting to several interesting people. I enjoyed this a heck of a lot and would thoroughly recommend the experience.

Kaffeeklatsch with Sarah Pinborough

Guest of honour at this year’s Eastercon was horror/crime/YA novelist Sarah Pinborough. Fresh from Hollywood, Sarah shared tales of writing and more in this cosy setting. This was a nice change of pace from the panels and a chance to ask more detailed questions of the author. As for the content, I’m afraid I can’t tell you more because, as Sarah says, “What happens in Kaffeeklatsch stays in Kaffeeklatsch!”

Author Reading – open mic

This two-hour session gave authors a chance to read their own work. My nerves were set on edge by the announcement that it was to be a competition. When the “judges” were given sticks with numbers on, the whole thing took on the aspect of a David Lynch film. Authors read their works until a gong signalled they had run over the time limit, whereupon the judges gave the scores. Fortunately, the whole thing was just a bit of fun. The readings were diverse and entertaining, and the host excellent. Although I really felt for one poor chap who had only written his piece that morning.

SF Pub Quiz

Late on Sunday, we took part in the hardest pub quiz I have ever seen in my life. Categories ranged from “Name the scientific instrument” to “Name the TV theme tune… and composer”. Needless to say, our score was abysmal!

By this stage everyone was relaxed and the party mood was in full swing. It was with a heavy heart that I retired to bed in the early hours, knowing that there was only half a day to go.

The Deeper the Grief, the Closer to Life – Monday

By Monday a few people were looking the worse for wear. But a crowded audience still packed out the main room to listen to a panel about grief and loss. Despite the heavy subject matter, the talk proved to be worth waiting for. Authors Sarah Pinborough and Neil Williamson discussed writing about grief, as well as recounting real-life tales, both sad and funny. This was definitely one of the better talks, although I can’t really remember why!

Criminality in SF/F

The final panel of the day got a little raucous at times, as several authors discussed the representation of crime in sci-fi and fantasy novels. By this stage we were all just relaxing. Some great debates arose, though. One of which may have just given me an idea for my next story…

In Conclusion

Eastercon was something of an unknown quantity for me. At first I found the fan-based culture a little intimidating. But having it in Manchester helped my travel plans and allowed me to stay much longer.

Given the unique challenges of the Hilton tower, the organisers did their best to keep things running smoothly. Volunteers were always present to help, and being on a panel was tremendous fun.

If I had any suggestions it would be to offer more author readings and to include more horror. At the moment, Eastercon is quite “sci-fi heavy”.

So will I be going to another Eastercon? Hell, yeah. I’d recommend it to anyone and everyone who likes genre fiction.

Will I be more prepared next time? Definitely!

 

“MEET MY MAIN CHARACTER” Blog Tour!

Today, I have been kindly nominated by science-fiction novelist writer Craig Pay to join the “Meet My Main Characters” blog tour and tell you a little about the protagonist of my forthcoming sci-fi horror vampire novel, PROJECT NINE!

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What is the name of your main character?

The main character is Luke. Shall we call him a hero? That would be a problem, seeing as he commits multiple murder throughout the novel and digests the blood of his victims. Admittedly he does so to stay alive, but I’m jumping ahead of myself…

When and where is the story set?

The present day. Mainly around Iowa and Kansas. There are also some scenes set during various historical periods throughout the last century, seen in flashback.

What should we know about Luke?

Actually, we know very little about Luke before the main story begins. We first meet him when he is burying his mother. We next see him when he’s getting very drunk. Then the action starts…

What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

He falls in love, of course. What else? Unfortunately for Luke, the girl he falls in love with (Lynne) happens to have escaped from a secret government research facility that has created real vampires through gene therapy. Before he knows what’s happening, Lynne has infected him with the genetic virus that causes vampirism. But theirs is no romantic world of opera capes and Romanian castles. Luke’s new existence is a grubby one, where he must commit brutal murder every night and drink the blood of his victims in order to survive. Left with no other option, Luke joins Lynne and her three friends, fellow escapees from Project Nine. However, an obsessive Iowa detective learns the truth, and sets about pursuing them across three states. And the detective is not alone, because the government department responsible for infecting Lynne and her friends are determined to bury their mistakes, permanently.

What is the personal goal of the character?

Luke wants to spend eternity with the woman he loves. But he also wants to survive at any cost. And that desire is going to lead him down some very dark alleyways indeed…

When can we expect the book to be published?

“Project Nine” is going to be published very, very soon. “Like” my Facebook page to receive regular updates:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eric-Steele-Author-and-Screenwriter/522318187899385?ref=hl

You can also follow me on Twitter under: @EISteele for my “a horror movie a day” tweets and other goodies.

The next nominated writer in this blog tour is:

Kevin A Ransom created the movie film criticism site MovieCrypt.com in the late 1990s. He is a member of the Online Film Critics Society and channels the site’s host, Grim D. Reaper. Kevin has two book series: The Spooky Chronicles; and The Matriarch. He is also an active member of The Horror Society. His website is: http://thinkingskull.com/

In the meantime, pleasant dreams…

Ten books I dare Hollywood to make into movies

Hello, True Believers!

Today I thought I woud share a list of ten books that should be made into movies. Okay, so some of them are actually comic books. But these are the properties I think would reinvigorate the motion picture industry.

Some background first. Hollywood is in dire need of franchise material. Jack Reacher and The Hobbit just won’t cut it. Where are the iconic films for the Y2K generation? Where are the Indiana Joneses, the Dirty Harries and the Star Warses (How do you pluralize “Star Wars” anyway?)

What we need is a new approach, something more daring and edgy than conventional blockbuster fare with its cookie cutter plots and bloated CGI (remember Green Lantern?)

Here are my choices for breathing fresh life into the film industry:

1. THE ELFSTONES OF SHANNARA

Terry Brooks’ finest book. This epic fantasy has enough originality to give the Lord of the Rings a run for its money. But it’s a much more human story, with an unforgettable twist ending.2. BATTLE OF THE PLANETS

Based on the 1970s Japanese cartoon and the father of modern anime. Superpowered teens in a cool ship do battle with giant monsters from outer space. I’m not seeing the downside. Just don’t let Jerry Bruckheimer near it!3. THE WITCHING HOUR

Anne Rice is best known for her Vampire Chorincles, but this multi-generational tale of witchcraft in New Orleans ranks among her best work. Very dark and gothic, with a rich sense of history. This is the “Gone With the Wind” of horror stories. Neil Jordan to direct please!4. STRONTIUM DOG

Mutant bounty-hunters from the future hop across planets to collect bounties from the humans who despise them. If it sounds like X-Men in space, it isn’t. More like some insane Speghetti Western. Created by 200A.D. writer John Wagner (“A History of Violence”) and artist Carlos Ezquerra, mutant “Strontium Dog” Johnny Aplha has a host of cool gadgets and ways to kill you. Backed up by some truly wonderful supporting characters like Norse bounty-hunter Wulf Sternhammer and lumpy-headed Middenface McNulty.5. THE RATS

A Canadian company attempted this once and came badly unstuck. But with modern SFX this horror classic is screaming to be made into a major motion picture. It has two sequels, the third of which takes place after a nuclear holocaust! “The Walking Dead”‘s Andrew Lincoln would be perfect for the lead!6. THE CALL OF CTHULHU

This is the project Guillermo Del Toror should have tackled after Hellboy. HP Lovecraft’s cosmic tale of a conspiracy to revive an immortal extradimensional demon from his ages-old slumber in a buried city under the Pacific Ocean. Comes with its own built-in fanboy audience!7. MIKE HAMMER

Mickey Spillance wrote numerous Mike Hammer books, many of which have been filmed, with the most memorable being “Kiss Me Deadly” with Ralph Meeker. Hammer is the uber-detective. A World War II veteran transplanted into post-1940s America, he is politically incorrect (he promises to murder his friends murderer), mysoginistic (he pimps out his secretary to solve a case), but with a sense of purpose that is at times terrifying, Hammer is Dirty Harry on steroids. The only problem could be getting someone who is gritty and believable enough to play him. Imagine Kirk Douglas fused with Clint Eastwood and you’re about halfway there.8. EON

Intelligent and epic sci-fi novel from Greg Bear. A team of astronauts investigate a hollow asteroid orbiting Earth and find… well, you’ll have to read the book. But it has a vision of the future of humanity that’s slowly coming true. Could be the next Stargate. One for director Alex Proyas, perhaps, who filmed the excellent “Dark City”.9. NORSTRILIA

A bewilderingly exotic sci-fi, so rich and strange that it outrivals even Frank Herbert’s “Dune”. Cordwainer Smith’s stories of the far, far future include the anti-ageing drug “Stroon”, uplifted animals that carry out slave labour, a humanity so interwoven with technology that it has forgotten happiness, and the weirdest planetary defence system known to man. Together with his short stories, Smith’s sci-fi is almost poetic in beauty and would present moviegoers with images never before seen on film. But who could direct such divine madness? Kubrick perhaps, were he still alive, or maybe David Lynch. But nowadays my money would be on “Tron Legacy” director Joseph Kosinski.10. ALAN MOORE’S SWAMP THING.

Comics legend Moore managed to revive this flagging minor  DC book and turn it into one the greatest works of comic art in the 1980s. Swamp Thing is a kind of existential Everyman. Rather than perform the usual superheroics, the eonymous hero explores the nature of good and evil, travels from Heaven to Hell, and meets a young John Constantine.  In a fantastic series of stories titled “American Gothic”, Moore reinvents horror staples such as vampires, werewolves, ghosts and zombies,  giving them fresh social relevance and deaing with issues such as racism, gun laws, family ties, veganism, and feminism! Never one to offer us easy answers, Moore leaves many of these debates open-ended. This resulted in some fierce debates with readers and fans at the time. Forget Green Lantern, give us Swamp Thing!