Class in session for a review of Spider-Man: Homecoming
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Where he’s from
Face front, True Believers! In addition to his mild-mannered position as a Nerdarchy staff writer, William C.‘s alter ego is that of Professor Bill. In this other guise he runs Comic Book University, a YouTube channel dedicated to all things comic book. You may also recognize him from the recent live streaming game at Nerdarchy’s YouTube channel. Thursdays at noon EST, Professor Bill takes on the great power and great responsibility of acting as Judge for a game of Marvel Super Heroes RPG. Continue reading Nerdarchy the comic book! Issue No. 1
Game Systems – DC Adventures (the current, superb Mutants and Masterminds TRPG published by Green Ronin) and the Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game (a wonderful card-based 1998 TSR TRPG, now out of print). Two distinct rules sets were used (the need for which is clear after reading the game setting).
Game Attributes – All players physically gathered around a standard gaming table. Continue reading Play Report – Batman Versus Hulk Tabletop RPG One Shot
I’m not a huge fan of the murder hobo; I don’t know too many people who are. Every so often you have the option to really stick it to the murder hobo by saying the peasant he just killed was the arch priest of the Beggar God. That’s one of my personal favorites. And the next peasant that’s killed is the arch priest of the rival church of the Beggar God. That’s my second favorite. Continue reading Avatars in your Game
It has been announced that The Punisher Netflix series Season One will premiere sometime this year.
This announcement comes directly from Marvel as they announced four new cast members for the first season. Continue reading The Punisher gets a 2017 release date
Everybody knows Marvel is releasing a Dr. Strange movie starring Benedict Cumberbatch next month, but did you know there was a Dr. Strange movie for television way back in 1978? It’s true.
Peter Hooten starred as Dr. Strange, looking more than a little like Gabe Kaplan in the TV show Welcome Back, Kotter. Also, Hooten’s costume was more than a little goofy looking, at one point sporting a giant star and at another showing ancient Egyptian iconography, but it was the 1970s, so what could you expect? Just don’t get me started on that faux silky cape.
Originally appearing on CBS from 8 to 10 p.m. on Wednesday, September 6, 1978, the TV movie served as a pilot for a show which never appeared. Keep in mind this was during the height of fame for The Incredible Hulk show and The Amazing Spider-Man TV series, with two Captain America made-for-TV movies coming in 1979, so there were high expectations for Dr. Strange.
Unfortunately, despite Stan Lee acting as a consultant, the Dr. Strange pilot did not get picked up for a regular television series.
The plot for the show was rather complicated and rambling, sometimes making little sense, but again, this was the ’70s. To keep it short, the evil enchantress Morgan LeFey (played by Jessica Walters) seeks to gain ultimate power by slaying the Sorcerer Supreme, Thomas Lindmer, or his apprentice. LeFey possesses one Clea Lake into making an attempt on Lindmer’s life, but the sorcerer pulls through. Meanwhile, Clea is put under the care of a psychiatrist, Dr. Stephen Strange. Strange investigates Clea’s case and eventually stumbles upon the fact that he is the apprentice to the Sorcerer Supreme though his memory has been wiped in order to protect him. The plot is more complex than that, much more, but I would prefer not to give anything away in case you, the reader, manages to find a copy of this TV movie on VHS or DVD, or maybe you can find it online somewhere.
I will warn, however, that you won’t find a lot of magical goings-on in the show. Much of the screen time is filled with Dr. Strange actually performing his tasks as a doctor within a hospital, though here and there a little odd magic makes an appearance.
Despite the goofiness, the TV version of Dr. Strange does have a certain campy charm to it. It’s filled with the expected 1970s overacting and dramatic moments loaded with gangly music, but that in itself can be quite charming, at least from a nostalgic point of view if not from an it’s-so-bad-it’s-good point of view. Whatever your own opinion, this TV movie does still have its own small following to this day.
Blast from the Past: Dr. Strange TV Movie
And by the way, yes, the show was known as Dr. Strange, not Doctor Strange. Stay Nerdy!
Blast from the Past: Dr. Strange TV movie
Blast from the Past: Dr. Strange TV movie
I don’t normally do a shout-out for a solitary YouTube channel, especially one that is fairly new, but the channel called Comic Book University has quite impressed me with its depth, number of videos, and its range of subjects.
Headed up by Professor Bill, so far the channel has taken serious, in depth looks at The Incredible Hulk, Doomsday, Killer Croc, and the unforgettable talent of artist Jack Kirby. Besides the series videos on those topics, there have been a handful of individual videos, including a memorial for Kenny Baker, known as R2-D2 from the Star Wars films. Also, Professor Bill’s videos have hinted at more to come, possibly including videos on the X-Men, Captain America, and other characters and topics.
Basically, there’s already a lot of good stuff here, and more should be on the way.
The series about the Hulk includes nine videos, each running from about 10 to 20 minutes, not including an intro video of a minute and a half. The Hulk’s origin as Bruce Banner is covered, as well as the Hulk’s powers, some of which are somewhat rare and not commonly known. For instance, did you know the Hulk could see ethereal or spiritual beings? I did from my early readings of The Defenders comics, but that had been long ago and I’d forgotten it.
The Hulk videos also cover a number of major story lines over the years involving the big green guy. The gray Hulk, Planet Hulk and World War Hulk are covered well, but plenty of other tales are mentioned.
The series of four videos about Jack Kirby are quite educational, going over Kirby’s earliest days as an artist, his time with Marvel, his brief stint with DC, his return to Marvel, and his later works. The final Kirby video features a nice tribute to this famous comic book artist.
Comic Book University isn’t just about the history of comics, however. It also looks to the present and the future in interviews with some of today’s comics creators and others working in the field. So far there have been interviews with Jonathan Miller of Outpouring Comics and Luis Zambrano of The Geek Fortress. More interviews can be expected in the future.
One of the nice details about the Comic Book University channel, and its companion Facebook page, is the sheer love for the topic that Professor Bill brings to his subject material. Not only does he love comics, but he appears to be a long-time fan and is quite knowledgeable of the medium.
There are other YouTube channels related to comic books and the comic book industry, but Comic Book University has quickly become my new favorite. If you have a personal favorite, please let others know about it in the comments section so Professor Bill and the rest of us can check it out.
And while you’re at it, don’t forget to Stay Nerdy!
Coming in January 2017, with the Fan2Sea Cruise you can take the ultimate comic book and pop culture vacation aboard Royal Caribbean International’s Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship.
It’s like attending a comic con on the high sea.
This four-night trip lasts from Jan. 19 to 23 and starts in Tampa, Florida, then has stops in Key West and the island of Cozumel, Mexico. Onboard meals will be provided as well as access to cosplay contests, gaming tournaments, panels, screenings, parties and more, though special meet-and-greets with some celebrities will include an extra charge.
Speaking of celebrities, there are plenty of them coming to Fan2Sea. You’re familiar with Michael Rooker of “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “The Walking Dead,” right? Then there are Sonequa Martin-Green who portrays Sasha Williams on “The Walking Dead,” as well as Seth Gilliam, known as Father Gabriel Stokes on the same television show. Other actors from “The Walking Dead” will attend but also to appear are Caleb McLaughlin, Catherine Dyer, and Randy Havens from Netflix’s “Stranger Things.”
Also appearing are artist Klaus Janson (The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Gothic, etc.), writer Mark Waid (Kingdom Come, Superman: Birthright, etc.), as well as many others working in comics.
Fans of nerd culture will find more than a few recognizable names worth visiting at Fan2Sea. Music fans might want to check out The Flux Capacitors, known as “The Back to the Future band,” and cosplay aficionados shouldn’t miss such performers as Lefty Lucy and Stella Chu, as well as others.
And this is just touching upon all those who will be available to meet at Fan2Sea. For a complete and up-to-date rundown, check out the full Fan2Sea line-up.
How much does all this nerdy awesomeness going to cost? It depends upon how many people in your party are going, where your cabins are located aboard the ship, and the type of cabins you book. Check out the rates here, and don’t forget you can get a 10 percent discount by using the promo code word “Nerdarchy.” (Full disclosure: When you use the promo code, Nerdarchy earns a commission which could allow Nerdarchy members to attend Fan2Sea.) For those who are interested, there is even a payment plan. Nerdarchy is now running a contest giving away one cabin for you and up to 3 of your friends. More Info- Here
So, pack up your favorite costumes, get your autograph books ready, and prepare to set sail on the seas of high adventure with Fan2Sea. And if you spot a Nerdarchist on board, don’t forget to introduce yourself and to tell them to “Stay Nerdy!”
P.S.- The Nerdarchy crew did a video on Fan2Sea.
Nerdcation Alert D&D at Sea with Fan2Sea- A Comic Convention Adventure on a Boat!
With the live-action Transformers movies of the last decade, it can be easy for some fans to forget the franchise was originally a cartoon series back in the 1980s, a series based upon a line of toys produced by Hasbro. Also, some fans might be too young to know about the old cartoons, and they might have missed the spectacle that was Transformers: The Movie from 1986.
When the movie hit theaters, the TV cartoon already had been running strong for a couple of years along with a comic book series from Marvel. Autobot characters like Optimus Prime, Bumblebee and Jazz had become fan favorites while everyone loved to hate the evil Decepticons, such as Megatron, Thundercracker and Soundwave.
Most of the fans were young at the time, and soon many of them came to trust the world of and the storytelling about the Transformers.
Which was why more than a few fans were surprised by the events that took place in the 1986 movie.
Transformers died. No, they were killed, out-and-out murdered. This film was a no-holds-barred match between the Autobots and the Decipticons, and both sides paid a heavy price. The nice little television cartoon about robots wanting to protect the world and save the universe had become something of a bloodbath on the big screen.
There was some little outcry, but this was a decade or so before the Internet and it wasn’t as easy to voice one’s opinion publicly, let alone stir up any serious outrage. So, viewers made their opinion known the old-fashioned way. They voted with their wallets.
The Transformers movie pretty much tanked in the theaters. According to author Stephen Kline’s 1993 book Out of the Garden, about marketing to young people, Hasbro lost more than $10 million between The Transformers film and a My Little Pony movie.
Things didn’t look good for Hasbro, or the Transformers.
Apparently Hasbro had wanted many of the Transformers killed off in the movie so the company could bring out a new toy line of the robot warriors. Even the famous Optimus Prime was killed off, though Hasbro eventually brought him back in the animated TV show.
Still, several decades later, Transformers: The Movie has something of a fan following. Though one might argue the artistic worth or entertainment value of The Transformers in general, or individual Transformers projects, there can be little doubt that these robot protectors continue to hold popularity. Every few years there’s a new live-action film or animated special. Despite Hasbro’s best attempts in the 1986 movie, The Transformers just won’t die.
Nowadays Autobots and Decepticons alike are killed off time and time again, only to rise once more at a later date, but all the butchery started with a movie back in the ’80s.
But the next time you watch some Transformer action on the tube, the big screen, or the computer monitor, remember to Stay Nerdy!
Long before Civil Wars, Spider-Man clones, Infinity Gauntlets, Secret Wars and movie franchises, Marvel Comics drew in readers with what today would be considered relatively simple story telling, but story telling that packed a punch. Most issues of a comic book told a story that could stand on its own instead of branching out across multiple issues or even into other titles. The colors were bright, the good guys were easy to tell from the bad guys, and quite often a super hero’s private life was just as interesting as his or her time battling dastardly villains. All this and more in less than 30 pages, and only super special editions ever cost more than 50 cents.
However, one hurdle comics faced was drawing in new readers. In the 1960s and ’70s and to some extent the early 1980s, Marvel’s collection of super beings hadn’t quite reached beyond the scope of comics fans and into the wider, broader culture. This would change when super heroes began to appear more and more on television and in movies, and later in the ’80s when material deemed more adult or mature began to appear in comics pages, but early readers often had to pick up a title without knowing much about the title character.
Nowadays pretty much everyone knows Spider-Man was bitten by a radioactive spider, and that Captain America received his powers from the Super Soldier Formula during World War II. Most people are aware of the X-Men and Fantastic Four. Thank you, Hollywood. But that was not always the case.
Marvel tries something new
To help ease readers into popular titles, in 1975 Marvel began to release paperback-sized editions which retold some of the earliest tales of many of its super heroes. Teaming up with Pocket Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Marvel released 10 such collections, the last one coming out in 1980. Each was sized roughly 4 ¼ inches by 7 inches, consisted of 132 pages or more, featured bright colors, and held six or seven issues from a comic book.
The first Pocket Book from Marvel was for Spider-Man, even then the best-known of all Marvel’s characters. All in all there would be three Spider-Man Pocket Books, following the young Peter Parker from his first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 and then in issues 1 through 20 of The Amazing Spider-Man. Here could be found Spidey’s origin story as well as his first encounters with the likes of such infamous characters as Doctor Octopus, Doctor Doom, the Chameleon, the Green Goblin, the Scorpion, and the Vulture.
Following the success of that first Spider-Man Pocket Book, Marvel followed up with two collections for The Hulk, one for Captain America, one for the Fantastic Four, two for Doctor Strange, and one for Spider-Woman. Like the Spidey books, these told the earliest stories of these characters, showing how they gained their powers and their earliest foes.
My collection of Pocket Books from Marvel
Unfortunately, I only ever owned eight of these books, which I still have to this day. I was not yet a teenager when they were available at stores, and I never managed to find the second Doctor Strange book or the Spider-Woman book. Four of the books I was lucky enough to find in a boxed set, but the other four I picked up individually.
Over the years there have been other paperback-sized books from Marvel, including early tales in the Star Wars universe, but those first ones hold a special place in my heart and have become something of collectors’ items. The eight Pocket Books I owned provided backgrounds for characters which were already familiar to me, and allowed me to learn about characters I barely knew, such as Doctor Strange.
The earliest tales of a super hero, or any serialized character, can be quite important, letting the reader know about not only the hero’s past, but about his or her attitudes, their character, even their powers. I’m glad I had those early tales, for they brought to life for me the likes of The Thing, Bucky, Baron Mordo and many other Marvel characters, good and bad.
Plus, these were great stories that didn’t take a lot of time to read and didn’t cost a bunch of money. If you’ve never read the earliest stories of some of Marvel’s best known heroes, I suggest you look them up. I think it will be worth your time and effort.
Maybe you’ll even run across some of these old Pocket Books.
But until then, Stay Nerdy!
In 1976, just in time for the science fiction craze which would be kicked off by Star Wars, the Mego toy company released the Micronauts line of action figures. Based upon Japan’s Microman toys, the Micronauts proved successful until they ceased to be manufactured in 1980. So successful were the Micronauts that from 1979 until 1986, Marvel Comics came out with not one, but two series of Micronauts comic books, and later Image Comics and Devil’s Due Publishing each had their own limited series of the Micronauts with IDW Publishing announcing in 2015 that they would be bringing the Micronauts back for yet another comic series.
What were the Micronauts? From a storytelling perspective, it depends upon whom you ask. The Marvel Comics version and the other comics had their own characters and stories, but the official toy line left more to the imagination, providing little information about the figures other than some cool names and basic facts such as who was a good guy and who was bad, though there were a few hints of various powers and abilities.
The original centerpiece of the Micronauts collection were 3.75-inch-tall plastic action figures with names like Time Traveler, Space Glider, Galactic Warrior and Acroyear. The first three looked somewhat alike with silver human-like heads and colorful bodies, though Acroyear was noticeably different with a helmet-like head, which made sense since he was a villain.
Other action figures were to follow, including several who stood 6.5 inches in height, as well as vehicles, robot figures, and various sets, some of which were whole cities. One of the intriguing things about this series of toys, especially for the time, was that many of them had interchangeable parts; thus you could take Baron Karza’s torso and head, for instance, and plop them down on the horse-like Andromeda to create a centaur of sorts. Even the cities were made sort of like simplistic Erecto Sets so that you could build them into whatever configuration you wanted.
I was never fortunate enough to have every single Micronauts toy, but that would have been nearly impossible for almost everyone as there were so many different toys in the line. Besides, I was between six and ten years old when I was into Micronauts, and my allowance of $2 a week didn’t exactly lend itself to buying much, even if comics were still only 35 cents back then.
Still, I managed to gather a number of Micronauts over the years.
Like many fans of the series, my favorite has to be the villainous Baron Karza. Standing a full 6.5 inches tall with black armor and red eyes, Baron Karza sported a jet pack and launched a scarlet missile from the center of his chest. Better yet, he could fire both of his fists out as missiles. His figure was one of those that was interchangeable, the arms and head and legs connecting to the main body with magnets, so parts of him could be combined in all kinds of weird ways or exchanged with other, similar figures in the series to create some truly unique monstrosities. Baron Karza has also tended to be the main villain in the various comic book versions of the Micronauts, and that has always felt right to me.
Other Micronauts I had were Space Glider, with his helmet and jet pack with wings that opened up; Galactic Warrior, with his gun that launched soft-tipped missiles; Pharoid with golden wings at his sides and a time machine that looked like an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus; and then Acroyear, another villain.
Acroyear was a favorite. I guess I have a thing for villains. Not only did he look as if he wore armor, but he carried a short sword and an odd-looking jet pack that sprouted two large spinning wheels. His parts were also interchangeable, so you could build him into different forms.
There were plenty of others Micronauts, but those above were the ones I owned as a kid. Yes, I wish I’d managed to pick up the others, but I have fond memories of what I did have.
The Later Years
Unfortunately by 1980 the Micronauts were on their way out. They seemed as popular as ever, evidenced by Marvel Comics’ continual run of their title until 1986, but the Mego toy company ran into financial troubles in the early 1980s and filed for bankruptcy in 1982, finally no longer existing by 1983.
Still, the Micronauts lived on.
In Italy the iMicronauti line of toys came into being about the same time as the Micronauts in the U.S. and continued for a short while.
In Japan the original Microman series continued until 1984, then sprang up once more from 1998 to 2007.
In 1985 a series of toys called The Inter-changeables appeared in a few stores. Supposedly made by a company known as HourToy, it was obvious The Inter-changeables were just the Micronauts under a different name. Unfortunately, though made from the same molds as the Micronauts, The Inter-changeables were of inferior quality, made almost wholly of cheap plastics that cracked and broke easily. In 1986 The Inter-changeables continued on under a company called M&D Toys, but it was not to last. The Inter-changeables disappeared from toys soon thereafter.
Then the Palisades toy company decided in 2002 to come out with the Micronaut Retro Series. Apparently there were a lot of difficulties in the manufacture and distribution of these new Micronauts, so the series never had a chance to take off, though a few were sold.
Rumors have sprang up over the years about one company or another coming out with another line of Micronauts, and there has even been talk of a Micronauts movie or another Micronauts comic book, so die-hard fans always have something to hold onto. Apparently Hasbro now owns the Micronauts, and maybe they will do something with the franchise.
Also, the Micronauts in all their forms have become collectors’ items for many fans, and often the action figures and other paraphernalia can be found for sale at various online or auction sites.
So, Micronauts fans never give up. Maybe there’s hope.
As always, Stay Nerdy!
We started a new series where we take a popular fictional character and see what we think his levels would need to be in order to play and feel like the character you see in the comics and movies.
For this series we are fully going to the Epic levels which we have no rules for beyond boons. So we wan to give them the class features of Dungeons and Dragons we see used on a regular basis.
D&Dized Thor in 5th edition
Happy Memorial Day! I hope this day finds you and yours well. Nerdarchist Ted here again. Lets look back to the time we were kids. Do you remember fondly watching and playing Super heroes? Do you remember reading those choose your own adventure books?
Do you want to gain Super Powers?
Well I recently found that link to my childhood that covers both. Superpowered by James Schannep covers it quite awesomely. It is a choose your own adventure book about an ordinary person who can get super powers and as you would guess there are loads of options.
Like any choose your own adventure book there are lots of options some the end the book quite quickly and others that can take you down the long reading road. As an avid reader, one that has spent many an hour of reading these choose your way books, I knew the short roads early on and I experimented with those first to see where they would lead. Continue reading Books in review – Superpowered by James Schannep – Choose your own adventure