Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Club Of Heroes Podcast Episode 15: Max Gaines vs. The World

It's a Club of Two for this very special Club of Heroes chat, as Evan and Chris continue their discussion on the horror comics of the 50's, 60's, & 70's! Witness Max Gaines taking on Fredric Wertham! Behold the birth of the Comics Code Authority! Look on as worried mothers everywhere burn comics by the hundreds in the name of decency!

It's right HERE, so come and get it!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Colonel's Picks For March 27th, 2013

Dear reader, I've come to the conclusion that it's not healthy to obsess over a foe like Paula Deen. This Colonel is just too damn old and too damn tired to waste his days chasing noodnicks like that. It's time to inject a little peace and love into the Reddenbacher regimine!

Mister X: Hard Candy (Dark Horse)

Dean Motter's Mister X is a staple of independent comics. Motter is a master storyteller as well as designer and it shows every time he puts pen to paper for another Mister X adventure. Los bros Hernandez, Bruce Timm, Ty Templeton, and many other legendary creators have all lent their artistic talents to the character in the past as well. This one-shot is an original story with Motter going solo and promises to be a great introduction to the "pulp deco" stylings of Mister X. If you pick this up be prepared to race back to the comic book shop and plunk down the rest of your dough on Dark Horse's Mister X collections, it's that good.

Time Warp #1 (DC)

DC wallops my wallet with another Vertigo anthology one-shot this week, but I can't resist. An old-school adventurer like myself can't turn away from an anthology featuring such a killer lineup; Dan Abnett, Mark Buckingham, Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt etc etc! The main draw in this collection of stories is the promise of a new Rip Hunter tale. We the readers haven't seen hide nor hair of the time traveling swashbuckler since the institution of the new 52, and I've been aching to see some era-spanning shenanigans.

Mark Waid's The Green Hornet #1 (Dynamite)

Mark Waid wants you to know this is his Green Hornet, bro. I suppose with the uber-talented and tenured Waid taking over the title, Dynamite has seen fit to begin again with a new number one issue. Waid can do no wrong these days, wether it be his magnificent work on Hulk or Daredevil, or his initiatives in the world of digital comics publishing. It's rare to see a creator with his already staggering body of work continue to produce high-quality stuff and be on the forefront of a new publishing platform. The pitch for this series is interesting as well, pitting the emerald-clad crimebuster against his own alter ego, Britt Reid. I'm not too familiar with artist Daniel Indro, but I can rest easy knowing Waid is a writer who scripts to his artists' strengths.

East Of West #1 (Image)

Jonathan Hickman writing another trippy sci-fi romp is a no-brainer. I'd pick that up in a heartbeat regardless. What drew me to this new series from Image was the inclusion of artist Nick Dragotta, who I feel is criminally underrated. His two issue Black Bolt story from Hickman's FF series and his art on Joe Casey's Vengeance are something to behold. His work is energetic and loose, fitting Hickman's fast-paced idea-crammed storytelling. This writer/artist combo will make it a winner, even if the solicitation text tells of a trope-filled dystopian setting.

B.P.R.D. Vampire #1 (Dark Horse)

Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon, the art team that brought us the extraordinary Daytripper series a few years back, teams with Hellboy creator Mike Mignola for this new miniseries set in the B.P.R.D. universe. Following the events of B.P.R.D. 1948, this series pits them against a cabal of bloodsuckers and their Gorgon-themed headmistress. If you've never seen Ba and Moon work together on a book, do yourself a favor and check this out. Their art style comes across as simplistic at first, but the longer you indulge, the more dimension appears.

Next week, be here as I attempt to bury the hatchet with Paula. Until then, happy reading!


Monday, March 25, 2013

The Club Of Heroes Podcast Episode 14: For The Love Of Horror

Presenting a thrilling new series of discussions led by our resident horror comics expert, Evan Arnold! Evan leads Chris and Matt into the darkest regions of imagination and creativity as they spotlight the horror comics of the 40's and 50's, particularly the infamous EC line. Learn how a single publisher almost brought the entire comic book industry to a grinding halt!

Groovy Ghoulies! You can listen to or download the episode HERE!

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Club Of Heroes Podcast Episode 13: Spring Break Survivor

After surviving another Spring Break in South Texas, the gang needs to decompress a little. There's some comic talk, some movie talk, and general silliness in the tried and true COH tradition. Also, special guest Rico joins the show, unplugged and uncensored!

You can give it a listen or download it HERE!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Colonel's Picks for March 20th, 2013

This week, it's fiends from dimension five, youthful lawgivers, and justice in a tight flight suit. It's time again to share some of the contents of this week's "to read" pile with all of you playing at home. It's time for the Colonel's Picks, baby!

Action Comics #18 (DC)

Can Superman defeat the maniacal Lex Luthor, the fifth-dimensional Vyndktvx, and the furious Superdoom all in one extra-sized issue? Of course he can! Grant Morrison has pulled back the curtain in previous issues to show us a plot to murder the man of steel that spans from his infant years on Krypton to his lonely struggle at the end of days. Rags Morales and Brad Walker are doing a bang up job rendering intense pan-dimensional fight scenes and powerful personal moments, making this a complete package and a fine addition to the Superman mythos. It's been a little Smallville, a little Birthright, and even a little Jerry Siegel golden age as well. This is the final issue of Grant's run, with Andy Diggle and Tony Daniel taking over the title next month.

Judge Dredd Year One #1 (IDW)

IDW proudly presents the formative year in detail for 2000 AD's foremost crimefighting figure, the stoic Judge Dredd. 2000 AD Editor In Chief Matt Smith is writing this one, with art by Dredd veteran Simon Coleby. As most Dredd-heads can tell you, Dredd ages in real time in the 2000 AD strip and is now pushing 80 I believe. It should be fun to flash back to the earliest days for a more spunky, youthful "I am duh laawww!" shenanigans.

Five Ghosts #1 (Image)

The Haunting of Fabian Gray starts here! The solicit copy promises a bold, new era in pulp adventure and that's the right kind of hype to get this old Colonel's blood pumping. Heck, any time a new series proudly touts it's pulp trimmings, I'm inclined to at least give it a look. The elevator pitch for this series sounds pretty good, featuring a treasure hunter who's posessed by five "literary ghosts". The story is by Frank J. Barbiere and the art is by Chris Mooneyham.

Captain Marvel #11 (Marvel) (Use this cover)

Kelly Sue DeConnick and a slew of artists have really made Captain Marvel into something special. A brisk read with a strong female lead and aviation-themed sense of wonder and adventure. Scanning through upcoming releases the cover to this issue stuck out at me and screamed "Colonel's Pick!". DeConnick and artist Filipe Andrade promise a new twist on an old foe to kick off a brand new story arc. Give this one a shot, or Ms. Danvers may have to come over and rip up all of your X-Mens!

The Unauthorized Tarzan HC (Dark Horse)

Back in the swingin' 60's, Charlton comics commited a famous faux-paus in the form of copyright infringement, mistakenly believing that the Tarzan character had fallen into the public domain. The Tarzan comics collected here (originally drawn by the likes of Joe Gill and Sam Glanzman) were quickly pulled from shelves and Charlton's foray into Tarzan stories was tragically cut short. Damn legalities. Just a quick Google search of either Gill or Slanzman reveals these two were tearin' it up on titles like House of Mystery and Our Army At War around this period. So if classic art on a classic character in a classy hardcover collection sound like your thing, why not take a chance on this collection.

Well, we go from one unauthorized bare-chested king of the jungle to another. So long folks, and happy landings if you should choose vine-swinging as your personal mode of conveyance to your LCS this week.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Colonel's Picks For March 13th, 2013

Spring Break!

This old Colonel prefers to kick it with some bouncing beach bunnies this time of the year, so this may be a more lackadaisical effort than usual, faithful readers. Besides, from my vantage point, it was a pretty weak week for new releases. Let's see what I can scrounge up for you.

Doctor Who Classics #1 (IDW)

These previouly released strips starring the seventh doctor are reprinted here for the first time. It's comforting to know that IDW plans to make these reprint editions a regular thing. So fire up the TARDIS and set coordinates for you comic book retailer of choice.

Aliens vs. Parker #1 (Boom!)

Is this high-concept sci-fi or a bad sci-fi sitcom? The solicitation copy for this new title left me wondering. This series follows a group of delivery men in space (Futurama...?) and the grand adventure this group of losers are thrust into. The writing team of Paul Scheer and Manuel Bracchi created that CSI parody show that graced the Adult Swim network a few years ago, so expect a lot of poking fun at genre conventions and jokes you've probably heard before. On a slow week like this week, I'll give it a chance and the fact Boom! Studios put their name on it doesn't hurt.

Triggergirl 6 #1 (Image)

Jimmy Palimiotti, Justin Gray, and Phil Noto present a collection of their Triggergirl 6 strip. The series follows an assassin on a mission to kill the president and her mysterious origins. We in the espionage business call that 'Tuesday'. Palimiotti and Gray have been one of the strongest comic writing teams in recent memory, taking concepts like the Freedom Fighters and All-Star Western out of obscura and ensuring them a loving home on today's shelves. Their tight plotting, along with multiple-award-winning artist Phil Noto radical renderings makes this a pick for sure.

Wolverine #1 (Marvel)

Paul Cornell and Alan Davis have sold me on this title, even if it is just another Wolverine book. After the disappointment that was Savage Wolverine, the sky's the limit here. Cornell writes razor sharp dialogue and makes clever use of whatever fictional universe he's writing in, while Alan Davis is a master of the comic art style. Davis even wrote and penciled the X-Men books in the late ninties, so he knows how to draw a "Snikt!" that really jumps off the page.

Grimm Fairy Tales St. Patricks Day Special (Zenescope)

It's not very often you see a funnybook based on the Colonel's favorite Holiday! And you know if anything from the Grimm Fairy Tales line makes onto it my pile it must be a slow week for comic releases!

...And that's the stack, ladies and germs. Now if you'll excuse me, I have copious amounts of liquor and hallucinagenics to consume before the week is out, so I'll leave the Paula Deen hunt up to you. If she comes stomping through your hometown, send us a postcard and we'll feature it!


Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Club Of Heroes Podcast Episode 12: It's Mahvel, Baby!

This episode, Chris, Evan, and Matt marvel at Marvel after what has been a pretty DC-centric podcast thus far. They discuss the X-Men movies, the JMS Spider-Man run, Morrison's New X-Men, and lots lots more. So plug in your ear buddies and take a stroll down memory lane with us, won't you?

You listen to or download the episode HERE!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Hotline Miami or Splatter Blam Snap!

(This is yet another installment in the Damn good...series. In which I, your humble author talks about something else he found to be exceptionally awesome, and explains just why he liked it. I was in hibernation for nearly the whole month of February, but now that I've risen once more I'll be posting again more frequently. Muahahahahaha!!!!)

Confused? Good, it means that you are still Sane.

Once in a great long, l-o-n-g while comes a video game. No, I'm not talking about Sonic helps Mario do his taxes or reset the VCR, or even the latest Medal of Duty, Call of Honor blasty mcblast-blast game where you run around an arid desert environment as 'merica shooting at ethnic looking people with AK-47s. I'm talking a game that not only challenges those stale, corporate driven norms and standards, and takes it a step further by challenging the player and deconstructing just what it means to be playing a video game. I could describe Hotline Miami as  'a hyper-violent top-down retro game', or 'what would happen if John Woo and Quentin Tarantino got together to make a GTA clone', or even 'A hallucinogenic murder-fest', but all those descriptions would fall short.  


And I'll do them some more, talking horse head!

So at this point you are probably going 'Jesus, fine Evan I get it, so it is hard to describe....what is your point?' Simply that it is the best simulation game I've played. What is this game simulating you ask? Just what it is like to be totally off your tits insane. If you are unfamiliar with the layout of Hotline Miami, you wander about with a top-down view, the whole map swaying around you like a chandelier that someone smacked their head against. As you explore the layout of Jacket's (the name given by fans to our otherwise nameless protagonist) world, you'll find that other than the car parked outside of whatever building you are in, the immediate world of Miami is nothing but a painful haze of acrid neon colors, stretching on to infinity. Coupled with the excellent soundtrack contained in the game itself, there is a real sense of disassociation between what the player experiences as the character in the Hotline Miami, and any semblance of reality.

Just another day at the office...

Where the psychedelic haze wears off however, is where the violence begins. You won't have been playing this game for five minutes before you'll knock someone down with your fists and beat their head against the tile floor where it will burst like an over-ripe fruit. A few seconds after that, you'll be caving in a skull with a baseball bat. You have to be fast too. A split-second is all that separates you from getting your spaghetti splattered all over the nearest zebra rug. Not that there are any real consequences for dying, just a quick hit of the 'R' key and you start the map all over again to try once more. With game-play this frenetic and exciting, it's hard to stop and walk away from. 

 I normally think that I have a pretty strong stomach regarding violence, but playing this video game was a real test of my endurance. If you've heard anything about Hotline Miami, you'll know that it is incredibly, incredibly violent. The first time I played this game, it felt like I had gone on a meth bender. I was dizzy, nauseous, my palms were sweaty from the sheer intensity of the action, my brain was boiling with the questions that were presented to me earlier....and I wanted more.   

When was the last time a game accused you of being a shitty person?
After your tutorial fight wherein you get your killing legs out from under you, you are confronted with a cut-scene between three individuals....somewhere. The decay is pretty obvious, roaches and garbage dot the landscape of whatever room you happen to be in, as each of the individuals, wearing a horse mask, a rooster mask, and an owl mask, address you separately. Are they your subconscious made manifest? A drug inducted or crazed hallucination? Are you dreaming? It's never made clear if it is any of these, but I suppose it doesn't really matter. What DOES matter, is they know more than they are willing to let on, whatever they are, and they foreshadow the events that are to come.

Not your ordinary hit-man.

When this is over, you find yourself in Jacket's apartment, with a voice-mail on your answering machine, and a package on your doorstep. Opening the box, you find *surprise surprise* a rooster mask within. With nothing else to do, you take it, walk downstairs, and drive to the location.

As I had mentioned earlier, the game play is pretty simple. When you arrive at a location you get to don an animal mask of your choice (out of the ones that you have unlocked), each one having different names and functions that effect the game. The adrenaline rush of sudden misstep death and psychedelia are enhanced by the thick, pumping electronica soundtrack that amps you up even more. The game in turn, rewards you for risky maneuvers. Shooting someone from the (relative) safety of a corner? That's okay. Toss a knife into someone's forehead? Better. But rushing down guys with guns with reckless abandon, splattering their brains and guts across the map with weapons you just happen to pick up along the way as you do lengthy and punishing execution moves and drawing attention to yourself? Oh you rascal you!

The longer the combination, the faster you are, the more varied the weapons use, and the more brutal it is, the more points you get. The frustration of constant one-hit deaths, the pumping soundtrack, the psychedelic colours, the bonuses and points that flash and reward you urge me to continue to kill faster, more flawlessly, and in more brutal ways. And the game rewards you for it, the better the rating at the end of your mission (which is received for things that are never defined during the game, like 'flexibility' or exposure) then you'll receive a brand new weapon upon playing the game again, and in some cases another mask. Beyond this however, the score is extremely absurd. The number you get is always greater than the maximum you can earn per level, and the things that push your ratings up or down are never defined during play, and in some cases are simply nonsensical. But you don't have time to think about that during play.

The last guy (who are these people supposed to be anyway? They all dress the same), is in his death-throes. I've knocked him flat on his ass, picked up a conveniently placed pot of boiling water, and thrown it all over his face. The boiling liquid melts into his face like a slab of butter on a baked potato. He struggles and expires suddenly. Points fly up out of the floor and add themselves to my score. The soundtrack stops, and an eerie silence befalls the room. It's just me, Jacket, and the corpses. 'Holy shit.' I think to myself, walking past people impaled with pool cues, cut open with knives, bisected by shotgun blasts. 'Did I do this?' The question makes me uncomfortable. I backtrack my steps out of the location quickly, and drive away. Before I go home however, I'll stop at a restaurant, get some free pizza, and enjoy some David Lynch inspired dialogue.

Gee, thanks strange man that works at all the places in this game.

I'll go home, sleep it off, wait for the next phone call. Maybe that will bring me the answers I need. Just as the masks provide a degree of separation from Jacket and his actions, the game's pixilated mooks and the rapid play prevent you from thinking of them as people, they are more akin to fruit gushers that explode when you abuse them too much, except when your brain fills the blanks in. And it will. The first time that you don a Locust mask and drill a fellow breathing human's brains out as he struggles and lets out a silent pixiliated scream, you should feel a pang of disgust...breaking through the surreality and the fact that it is a game of all things. After all, Do you like hurting people? And if you don't....then why are you still playing?               


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Colonel's Picks For March 6th, 2013

Big daddy Redenbacher is back, baby! You just can't keep a good Colonel down. I'm ready to head into the field once again and rejoin my allies in the Club of Heroes, but first I've gotta see what's in my pull box for this week. You can't just leave for battle without supporting a trusty comic book retailer along the way!

Lost Vegas #1 (Image)

Jim McCann and Janet Lee welcome you to the casino-filled space station Lost Vegas for a weekend getaway. Just don't get caught up in gambling debts, like the titular lead of this very series! This high concept stuff might sound like a bad tv pilot, but I doubt an Eisner Award-winning duo like McCann and Lee plan to play any familiar notes. What to expect: the unexpected!

Age Of Ultron #1 (Marvel)

The monsterous murder machine of the Marvel U returns at last! After a Free Comic Book Day preview issue over two years ago, Brian Bendis and Bryan Hitch return to finish their swan-song to Bendis's Avengers saga. In the past, Ultron has been one of the deadliest rogues in all the Marvel universe, and this new miniseries looks to reestablish him as a definent threat. There are also rumblings in the comics rumor mill that this series will have a greater effect on Marvel continuity as a whole. Could a "Crisis" be occuring within the Marvel universe..?

Shadowman #5 (Valiant)

This issue begins a new arc for Shadowman, a title that has piqued my interest since the start of the recent Valiant relaunch. The Voodoo-powered hero was a favorite of mine in the early to mid-ninties and the current series has been a great blend of occult and superhero tropes. The initial arc reintroduced the character for new and lapsed readers, as well as setting up a rogues' gallery for the hero. If you like moody, mystical superheroics, you may get a real kick out of Shadowman.

Avengers #7 (Marvel)

Newer readers may be unfamiliar with Jim Shooter's New Universe line, an imprint within Marvel comics in the 80's that brought a new wave of superhero and sci-fi concepts to spinner racks everywhere. Rumor has it Jonathan Hickman plans to integrate these long-forgotten characters into the "regular" Marvel cosmology. As mentioned above, Marvel seems to be building it's own Multiverse of sorts and one can't help but wonder if we as fans are about to bear witness to an epic clash between the many sub-universes that lie dormant within Marvel's publishing history. Imagine the Avengers, the Ultraforce, and the cast of DP7 all wrapped up in an epic power struggle! Anyhoo, if that should come to pass, this issue might be a good "jumping-on" point as they say in the industry.

Sex #1 (Image)

Joe Casey wants you to buy Sex. He's made no bones about it in his promotion of this series. Sex is the story of Simon Cooke, a retired superhero, and the misadventures that plague him after he returns to his old stomping grounds. Author supreme Joe Casey refers to superheroics as an "alternative lifestyle", so one can see this won't be your average superhero deconstruction story. Expect a classy commentary on comic book storytelling juxtaposed with enough sweaty sensual fervor to make you just a little uncomfortable.

Oh, are done, son. With my body restored and my confidence multiplied one hundred-fold, do you really think you'll survive another encounter? Round Two! Ring The Bell!

What you gonna do brother, when Orville-Mania runs wild on you!

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Club Of Heroes Podcast Episode 11: Huffing Voltron

Face front, True Believers! Edward Jerand Falkenstein returns to the Club Of Heroes bullpen to talk video games and such. Hilarity ensues. Giant robots are formed. Glue is sniffed. Give it a listen!

It's right HERE! Click away!!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Media Hounds: Me, myself, and Mortimer Toynbee.

               So, I was at work last night, racking my brains to think of a recurring article that I could write here. One that I revisited every few weeks to keep you guys coming back for more… but it took me a long time to think of one because of the large amount of comic book related blogs you can find here on the Internet. Finally, I came up with one that I think will be fun to read, fun to write, informative and funny, while at the same time not being done very much elsewhere on the World Wide Web. I give you MEDIA HOUNDS. Here, every couple weeks or so, I’m going to take a comic book character and, instead of the looking at the cool/stupid stuff he’s done in the comics, focus on the adaptations that character has had in other media like cartoons, TV shows, video games and films. We’ll see how accurate they were, how inaccurate they were, and hopefully have a good belly-laugh along the way.

               But, before we get started, let me make one thing clear. Adaptations are just that: adaptations. I’m not one of those comic nerds who get mortally offended when you change a character for a film or TV version. In my opinion, that is the great thing about comic books today, the things that make them our modern mythology: different authors write them and tell stories with them constantly, so the character is constantly evolving, just the oral stories of heroes in ancient times. Look at Superman: when he started, he couldn’t fly and there was no such thing as Kryptonite. Over the years and over the authors, those things happened and he became a better character for it. As long as you take the character as a starting point and build from it to make something better… I’m pretty much going to be OK with it. That said if you make that character worse, well then: I will rip you a new one in the stunning text-only format of this blog. So, without further ado! I give you the first issue/episode/installment/thing of Media Hounds.

               Toad, also known as Mortimer Toynbee, has been a constant thorn in the side of the X-Men. In the comics, he first appeared in 1964 as a lackey (or a toady, see what they did there?) to Magneto in the pages of Uncanny X-Men. Since then, he’s been a relatively common character to adapt to the various adaptations of the X-Men franchise.

Does anyone actually remember when television screens were shaped like that?
               Toad’s first appearance in other media was a small cameo in and episode of Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends. The episode itself is classic 80’s tripe. Magneto disguises himself as Proton the Great in order to lure all of the police chiefs to an island prison and magnetically trap them there.

                 Hilariously, none of the police chiefs recognize him, despite the fact he’s wanted by all of them (which Spidey mentions in the episode), even though the sides of his bright purple helmet are poking out from the sides of his hood. Toad appears very briefly as one of the prisoners that Magneto wants freed, alongside Blob and Mastermind. Magneto gives brief descriptions of all their powers, and he says Toad is “obedient and super-agile.” I like the way Magneto lists his obedience as a superpower…
               MUTANT: So, what’s your gift? What do you do?
               TOAD: Uh… I’m super obedient.
               MUTANT: What? So you follow instructions?
               TOAD: Yeah, but I do it like… really well.
               MUTANT: Is that useful?
               TOAD: Well, everything in my house runs perfectly because I read the manuals cover to   cover and super-obey them. Also, I’m the only person in the world who can understand those IKEA boxed furniture kits.
               MUTANT: …  Punch yourself in the face.
               Anyway, the episode itself is pretty funny. Magneto eventually is defeated when Spidey somehow overloads his power and Magneto “can’t control his attraction,” causing cars and other objects (including a conveniently placed dumpster full of iron filings) to, I assume, crush him his death as he tries to fly away. Toad, however, never appears again in the episode.

              Toad also shows up briefly in Pryde of the X-Men, a pilot show that never went to series based around Kitty Pryde’s adventures in the X-Men. Here, he’s a member of the Brotherhood of Mutant Terrorists alongside Blob, Pyro, Juggernaut, The White Queen and Magneto. Since the whole series is only an episode long, Toad doesn’t get much screentime, but he’s his usual sycophantic self and he is voiced by Frank Welker – the guy who does pretty much every voice in pretty much every movie ever. (Seriously, look up that guy’s resume, you will be stunned by how many times you go “Oh! He’s that guy?!”) Toad does however at one point attack the inexplicably Australian Wolverine, giving us this glorious screenshot.
There are so many possible captions. Choose one and laugh heartily
              Toad appears in two episodes of the 1990s X-Men animated series, still as an almost exact copy of his comic book counterpart. It isn’t until the year 2000 that Toad appears in more than a minor role… Well, actually, it’s still pretty minor. My point is this next one is important.

             In his meatiest appearance to date, Toad appeared in Bryan Singer’s X-Men movie played by Ray Park (the guy who is also Darth Maul and Snake-Eyes). Here, Toad is vastly different to his comic book counterpart. Firstly, he has seemingly lost his super obedience and is instead a reasonably intelligent enforcer of Magneto’s. He’s shown working on the big fancy machine, showing a level of engineering skill, and he battles Cyclops, Storm and Jean Grey single-handedly before being turned into Louisiana cuisine by Storm’s lightning bolt.

Do you know what happens to a toad when its struck by lightning? It generates Internet memes!

               Ray Park’s Toad also boasts a host of different powers. Aside from his super leaping (and super obedience), the comic book Toad really didn’t have any other mutant powers. The film version has the ability to scale walls, discolored skin and hair, the ability to spit adhesive mucus, and the now iconic elongated prehensile tongue. That’s right, true believers! Toad’s most famous power comes not from the pages of the comic book, but rather an adaptation of that work. The tongue was bloody cool though and quickly made its way to the ink-and-paper version, as did many aspects of the film’s Toad, including his thinner, more athletic physique. (In fact, the Ultimate version of the character when first introduced is very, very similar to the film version, just greener.) This really goes to show what I was saying earlier about adaptations. The film version of Toad is not accurate to the source material at all, but its builds on the mythos and improved it. That’s why so many comic book characters, even minor ones like Toad, have such complex and changing histories because unlike more conventional storytelling, we can introduce a host of different authors, artists, filmmakers, etc. to introduce new and cool ideas.

               Toad’s next outing outside of comic book was a trio of cross-platform fighting games called Mutant Academy, Mutant Academy 2 and X-Men: Next Dimension. He is a playable character in all three games, using the powers and abilities that were by then standard to the comic book, but originated with the film version: most of his special attacks focused on the use of his elongated tongue. For some reason, whoever provided his voice in Next Dimension (I can’t find the name of the voice actor) decided that Toad needed to sound exactly like Gollum from The Lord of the Rings and he annoyingly goes “give us a kiss!” and “lickety-lick!” throughout gameplay. He also hisses whenever he uses his tongue, so I can only assume he wears  The One Ring pierced through it and the hissing is the air rushing through the hole… (Yeah, that’s a weird image. Sorry about that one.)

                 Speaking of video games, he also appeared in X-Men Legends and X-Men Legends II around this time, being playable in the second. Legends combines the appearance of Ultimate Toad with the snivelling personality of the mainstream Toad… Oh, and he’s voiced by Armin Shimerman, the guy who played Quark in Star Trek: Deep Space 9 and Snyder in
Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It’s always nice to see those niche actors from old sci-fi shows have gone absolutely nowhere in their careers…

               Of course, during the course of these video games’ release, we also see the airing of X-Men Evolution. Toad, due to his popularity from the film, has a meatier role than in past cartoons and his powers more reflect the film version than the original. Due to the setting of the show, he’s also aged down to a teenager; Americanized (the original is from York, England, while this version is obviously from Brooklyn); and given a new punkish attitude, though he is still rather cowardly, subservient and nearly useless in combat. He’s also renamed Todd Tolansky for this version.

            He had a crush on Scarlet Witch and was a minor rival for Nightcrawler in the show, but mostly he was used for comic relief: he’s rejected and whacked around more times than I can count and there’s a ‘Toad smells bad and eats bugs’ joke every other episode. Still, he had one episode in the starring role and helped the X-Men kick Apocalypse’s big metallic arsecheeks in the series finale. Not a bad outing for the Toad-meister.

This version also adds super-ridiculous-outfit-wearing to Toad’s list of powers. What’s the point in that metal fishbowl collar thing?

               The wise guy, punk attitude of this Toad sticks around to other adaptations as well. In Wolverine and the X-Men, Toad’s relationship with the Brotherhood is similar to Evolution’s. He’s a tag-along that doesn’t really do anything of use for the team (Quicksilver even considers leaving him to the MRD in one episode). He presents a tough guy attitude, but quickly chickens out when threatened and is shown to have no combat skills whatsoever.

               And that brings us pretty much up to the present day in terms of all things Toad. His most recent appearances include a brief mention in the new Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon and an amusing appearance in Super Hero Squad. After being defeated by Thor, Silver Surfer comments “oh, so that is what happens to a toad when it is struck by lightning. What a let-down.” He also appeared in the completely crap video game X-Men Destiny, where he has reverted back to being English, now sporting a cockney accent. Because apparently, according to American video game designers, there are precisely two accents in all of Britain: posh upper class (see Emma Frost in the same game) and cockney. Oh, well. It’s closer than Brooklyn, I suppose.

               Well, thanks again for reading. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little trip through all the many different versions of Mortimer Toynbee. Let me know if there are any ideas you have to improve the format or anything like that because as I said I’ll be writing more of these types of articles in the coming months. Thanks to all the people with YouTube videos that I nicked these images from and I’ll see you next time. ‘Til then I leave you with this…

               Ta-ra for now.