Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Update: Jan 25

Hey Everybody, just want to do a small update. I’m going to be back in school so once again were going to have a shortage on posts. Trust me I am working on the ones I mentioned in my last update. I also wanted to do a shout out towards the request for the Top 10 Fantasy Films of the Past Decade. This was a request done by a good friend of mine, Melian-Alcarime. She is a fantastic artist and an amazing jewelry designer. Check out her store here:

and check out her deviant art page here:

I’m your Guide to Geekdom, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Let's Talk: Luke Cage

Hello and welcome back to the Guide to Geekdom. Today I wanted to discuss with you the power man, the hero for hire, the strongest man to ever wear a tiara: Luke Cage. I think it was time that one of Marvel’s recent rising stars should get the analytical treatment (and it was a request). So let’s talk about Luke Cage.
I wouldn’t say that Luke Cage is one of Marvel better known superheroes, so I will go into the details of his origins. Carl Lucas was a normal man who was framed for a crime he didn’t commit. In order to try and get out of jail early he agreed to take part in a scientific experiment. Just before the experiment, a dirty cop sabotaged the process in the hope that it would kill Lucas. Instead the changes to the experiment actually granted Lucas immense strength and invulnerability, and caused that section of the building to explode. Realizing he would probably be blamed for the deaths of the scientists and the cop, Lucas escaped and went into hiding. Lucas then decided to use his new powers to start up a superhero detective agency called Hero for Hire, as well as changing his name to Luke Cage and using the code name Power Man. Eventually he was able to prove his innocence in these crimes and became an Avenger.
It’s interesting to discuss Luke Cage, because he hadn’t really gained heavy popularity and recognition until relatively recently. The reason why Luke Cage starting getting popular was due to Brian Michael Bendis creating a superhero detective series starring Jessica Jones (his own creation). The book was incredibly popular, though the reason I bring this up is that Luke Cage was a supporting cast member and eventually become Jessica Jones’ husband. It was this key act that brought Luke Cage into the public eye again after having relatively nothing important happening for the character over the course of several years.
The Character
Luke Cage’s detective agency eventually got more members, with Cage usually being the leader of the team. Cage is a strong leader within superhero teams; this is something that has carried over to his time with the New Avengers. When Luke Cage first joined the New Avengers he acted as just the side character that was really strong, but when the superhuman registration act was enacted, it was Luke Cage that took over as team leader and successfully led his team through that dark time. Who would have thought that Luke Cage could be as strong a leader of the Avengers as Iron Man or Captain America?
Luke Cage is a very compassionate man. He feels for other people’s problems, it’s one of the reasons why he is such a good hero. On many occasions he has refused the money offered to him by his clients because he felt bad for their conditions. Cage has gone through hard times, and this has caused him to gain empathy toward the down trodden. Luke Cage will always fight for the oppressed because he doesn’t want anyone forced into the situation he found himself in before his transformation. The helpless need someone to defend them, and Cage is just the hero to do that.
Luke Cage suffers from a similar problem that a lot of lesser known heroes from Marvel suffer from: he has no well established Rogues Gallery. It’s sad but true. Marvel doesn’t put in the time and effort to make well established villains for new upcoming superheroes (I covered this in my Abused Super Villains post. Read that for more information). This is a major problem for setting up film franchises as film makers usually try to write the film around the concept of a main villain and what they mean to the hero. Without a well established archenemy to depend upon, a new superhero franchise could be impossible to establish, which is really a shame because I have been hoping for a Luke Cage film forever.
 If Luke Cage does have a recurring villain it is the Purple Man. In the previously mentioned Jessica Jones series, Jones was kidnapped and tortured by the Purple Man for months before being rescued by Luke Cage. She recovered from the traumatic events, but the Purple Man has been a returning threat for both Jones and her new family with Cage. The Purple Man on a regular basis threatens their family, but Cage has always had something up his sleeve to stop his mind control powers. Cage was manipulated once, and he will be damned before he or his family is manipulated again by some crazed psychopath.  
Supporting Cast
If there is one person that should be mentioned in this section, it’s not Jessica Jones, it’s Iron Fist. This superhero relationship is played down so much by Marvel, but personally I think that these two are one of the greatest Dynamic Duos in comic book lore. Marvel usually just puts them together because they’ve always been a team, but that is exactly the point. These two have been a team forever, and they should be recognized for it. They operate like brothers in arms, being constant partners who always watches the other’s back. It was their close friendship that allowed the two of them to break free of their mind control when Norman Osborn had captured them. These two heroes have both risen to social prominence due to their inclusions in the Avengers; I only hope that someday they can get their own book again.
Jessica Jones is a fairly interesting character. She has gone from superhero, to private investigator, to stay at home mom, and back to superhero all within a small timeframe. Her character has evolved from the love and support given to her by Luke Cage. It was a love that was recently written, but is incredibly strong. Everyone can feel the love and admiration Luke Cage feels for his wife and child. It’s amazing how truly well handled this relationship has been knowing the track record Marvel has for ruining good romantic relations between characters. I sincerely hope that no future writer tries to destroy this love for sales; it is one of the best relationships in comics right now.
One last thing I want to mention about Cage’s supporting cast is how he is a part of most other superhero’s supporting casts. Luke Cage has been everywhere (it happens when you’ve been a background character for too long). He has good relations with a lot of the street level heroes like Spider-Man and Daredevil, as well as being a helping hand in training new heroes like the latest White Tiger or the recent incarnation of the Thunderbolts. Luke Cage is an ally to everybody. If you’re in a jam expect Luke Cage to be somewhere right behind you, supporting you all the way.
What Doesn’t Work
What doesn’t work is the original comic. Like I mentioned, it does a poor job at establishing the key elements necessary for long lasting superheroes. He never had a well established archenemy or any recurring villains for that matter. He didn’t have any real supporting cast members (mind you Iron Fist didn’t become his partner until a later time period. Why, he didn’t even have an Aunt May. A well rounded superhero builds up these key concepts. Why do you think most of Spider-Man’s supporting cast is well known? I’m pretty sure most average fans could tell me that Flash Thompson was Spider-Man’s high school bully, and why, because his supporting cast was well established straight from the get go. Luke Cage had to have these things eventually added into his story and that is exactly where the problem lies, with the treatment of his character. The only thing that hasn’t been added in yet is a strong villain, sure Purple Man is a good one, but he feels more like a Jessica Jones villain than a Luke Cage one.
Another problem with Luke Cage is his costume. I’m not talking about the disco yellow with the tiara; they ditched that costume forever ago. The problem is Luke Cage has never had a costume stay for too long. He keeps shifting between what he fights crime in. Sometimes it’s his regular street clothes, sometimes it’s a yellow t-shirt with black pants, and other times it’s a yellow shirt with street clothes with a bunch of chains all over that have his name on them.  As I stated, the problem is in having a well-established hero story, part of that includes the iconic costume they fight in, when you can’t even decide what he wears to fight crime in on a regular weekly basis, you have a problem.
What Can Be Done
Luke Cage needs a major overhaul. As I have stated his story is something that isn’t especially well rounded or established. If Marvel wants to make Purple Man be a major recurring villain for Luke Cage then they should actually establish him as a real threat for Cage to face, so that actual encounters between the two aren’t incredibly one sided. If this is not done, maybe they should establish a new villain or a past villain and work that character into having a strong rivalry with Cage.
Other than that, I actually really like what Marvel is doing with Luke Cage right now. They took one of their more relatively unknown characters and have transformed him into an incredibly strong character who is the leader of multiple super teams. This is exactly how you bring the obscure out of the shadows and make them relevant with today’s comic book readers. I never would have heard of Luke Cage if it weren’t for his inclusion on the New Avengers, and ever since then he has become one of my favorite characters.
In Conclusion
Luke Cage suffers from a lack of establishment that could ultimately cause him to fall back into the unknown recesses of the Marvel Universe. Luke Cage has the potential to be one of Marvel’s greatest superheroes. A little more time taken to round out his personal character arc could change everything for him. Hopefully someday this great character will get the proper treatment a superhero deserves.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Top 5 Films of 2011

Hello and welcome back to the Guide to Geekdom. Entering the New Year I wanted to look back at 2011 and reflect upon which films I enjoyed most in the year. Before I get to 2011 I wanted to mention what my top 5 of 2010 were, I did make a list I just didn’t have The Geekdom yet:
5 –Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
4 -Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
3 -Tron Legacy
2 -The Book of Eli
1 -Inception
So without further hesitation, here are my Top 5 picks from 2011:
5 –Rise of the Planet of the Apes
I am a massive Planet of the Apes fan, so when I heard they were going to be making a new film, I was a little hesitant. Tim Burton really hurt this series and not a lot of people were interested in seeing a new entry. I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only did this film live up to the original series, it was also one of my favorite movies of the year. I only wish we had gotten to spend more time with just the apes instead of those damn dirty humans.
4 –The Adventures of Tintin
Gasp, a film I have yet to post a review for, and debatable ever will due to attacks of laziness. If me selecting a film I haven’t reviewed yet throws you off, just wait till you get to my number 1. I haven’t talked about this film much yet, but I want to briefly point out what I liked about it. The animation is absolutely one of the best I have ever seen in a computer generated film. I have always been a big fan of adventure films where the main characters could end up anywhere in the world. It was a really light hearted adventure that took its audience seriously, and that’s not something we see too often these day.
3 –Real Steel
This film really took me by surprise. I truly was expecting Rock’em Sock’em Robots the movie, but what I ended up with instead was Rocky with robots. The fight scenes were amazing and actually kept me on the edge of my seat despite the fact that it was all digitally constructed. The dynamic between the inattentive father and the son trying to prove his own worth really made this film for me.
2 –Captain America: The First Avenger
This was originally going to be my number 1 film, until I saw my number 1 film. That being said let me tell you why this originally was going to have the number 1 spot. This is by far one of the most perfect superhero films. I was absolutely not expecting much when I walked into the movie theater. I had liked Thor but it didn’t really thrill me, so I wasn’t too excited to see a film about a character I moderately liked and starring an actor I really wasn’t sure could pull it off. I was sure surprised to be leaving the theater thinking that this was one of my favorite superhero movies of all time.
1 –Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
This film completely and absolutely defeated all of my expectations for it. I wasn’t even going to go see this film. I had liked the first film, but it had disappointed me in many areas, and it didn’t really leave me excited to see a sequel. The trailers really didn’t seem interesting, and it just felt like a repeat of the first. Leaving the theater, I had absolutely nothing negative to say about it. I enjoyed watching this film 100% of the time. Not only did it completely out do the original film, it also found itself on the top of my list.

So that was my Top 5 of 2011. I now boldly go into 2012 with the high hopes of finding good films to watch and enjoy.
I’m the Guide to Geekdom, thanks for reading.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Top 10 Fantasy Films of the Past Decade

Hello and welcome back to the Guide to Geekdom. I’ve been informed by my editors that the following Top 10 list will be controversial, so I’ve decided to clarify what this list is. This list is my opinion and not based upon the quality of the films, but rather how much I personally enjoyed them. This list is also only compiled from the fantasy films that I have seen in the past decade. Please keep that in mind when reading my list. As per usual I have some notable mentions:
-The Sorcerers’ Apprentice
Now then, let’s get into my Top 10 Fantasy Films of the Past Decade.

10 -The Prestige
A mystery thriller film that focuses on the rivalry between two stage magicians. This film goes in detail on the life of a stage performer and what they have to go through to make a performance illusion work, but the real magic of this film comes in the way the story is told. Christopher Nolan is incredibly well known for having nonlinear narrative to tell the plot, and in a film that is all about the sleight of hand, it’s this form of narrative that lets this film shine.  
9 -Shrek
Before you tell me that this came in 2001, this list was meant to come out before the New Year so don’t judge my laziness. This was DreamWorks Animation’s first big hit and for good reason. This film did an amazing job of parodying the entire fantasy genre, but at the same time it relayed a really good message; that it really doesn’t matter what you look like, true love will love you for who you are on the inside.
8 -How to Train Your Dragon
This was the film that truly convinced me DreamWorks Animation could make a high quality amazing film. This film captures the essence of being the kid on the outside who has the hardest time fitting in anywhere no matter how hard he tries. It isn’t until after he actually proves that he can do something useful do they actually acknowledge him as a person. I saw a lot of myself in this film…..I’m not a sad person…..really.
7 –Howl’s Moving Castle
I know that when it comes to adapting a novel into a film, a number of changes to the story are bound to occur. I am aware of this fact every time I sit down to watch a film that was based on a novel. I hadn’t read the novel before viewing this film, but I did do research and found all the changes they made to the story. What I want to point out is that this film did exactly what these films should; it made me want to find out more. It made me want to go out and read the book. This was an amazing fantasy film and worth checking out.
6 -Harry Potter Series
Has any other project like this been done in films? A near perfect film adaptation of a 7 book series, with almost all of the original actors staying throughout the entire production. You’re probably asking yourself ‘Why is this so low on the list?’ The reason is the same reason why I called this a near perfect film adaptation. The later films removed so much content from the novels and filled it in with overly large amounts of teen drama.
5 –Beowulf
If you were wondering why the last one was so low, you’re probably wondering why this one is so high and or on this list at all. I actually really enjoyed this film for the reason it’s on this list; it feels like an old fairy tale. This tale focuses on the cycle of violence, lust, betrayal, and how we can’t escape them. The film comes off more as a wise tale to warn children of this life lesson. It’s because of these reasons that I put this film so high on the list.
4 –Stardust
The reason I enjoyed this film so much is that it represents a light-hearted adventure into the land of fantasy. You get the feeling that this film can go anywhere and do anything because that’s the kind of magic it has. I can believe that a star can become a girl, I can believe that a pirate can sail amongst the clouds, I can believe that a simple man can become a king, all you have to do is cross over the wall to have your fantasies come true.
3 –The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
It truly is a shame that none of the sequels could really live up to this, because this feels like an epic. This film takes you on a journey with Edmund, Lucy, Susan and Peter that isn’t simply a physical one. You watch as these kids grow up emotionally going from children into the saviors of Narnia. You get the feeling that every time you take a step in this land you’ll end up walking out of it with a lesson.  This mysterious land leaves us with more questions than answers and I kind of wish we had gotten more of this film than the sequels we got.
2 –Pan’s Labyrinth
Remember what I said about Beowulf? This film does it a thousand times better. The entire film feels like an ancient fairy tale is occurring right then and there. The fantastical mythical creatures that haunt the background blend perfectly with the realistic battle of the revolutionaries. It’s not until the film comes to an end do you really question whether or not any of it truly happened or if it was the imagination of a little girl trying to escape her reality.
1 -The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

‘One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them,
One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them’

Do I need to even explain this one? This is truly an epic tale performed beautifully by the entire cast a crew. You can’t just sit down and watch one of the films, you have to spend that whole day watching all three films in a row because that is the way they should be viewed. Each part feels like a continuation of the last resulting in what feels like one incredibly long journey through Middle Earth. This is truly one of the greatest entries in the fantasy film genre of all time.

I’m your Guide to Geekdom, and thanks for reading.